Monthly Archives: January 2011

A Good Decision…

 

Yesterday morning I had the cutest conversation with Mia. She was getting ready to go to school and she came to hug me goodbye. I wrapped my arms around her and when she looked up into my face I said, “Remember Mia – you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you – that means you can be speedy with your school work just like you were yesterday when your teacher was so proud of you.”

She said, “Mam-ma I know I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me and last night I already decided that I would be speedy and pay attention to my teacher again today.” I felt a bit speechless as I bent down to give her an extra squeeze as she ran out to the waiting car.

Since yesterday, I have been pondering her words – knowing there is a nugget of truth to be gleaned. Since the beginning of 1st grade, Mia’s amazing teachers have been patiently working with her to concentrate and to actually do the work they know she is capable of. She tends to be a bit “pokey” and so everyday we encourage her to try not to be the last one done with her work or the last one outside with all of her snow gear on. We’ve dreamed up creative rewards – probably bribery at it’s finest:) but we have seen only minimal improvement until yesterday. How I wish I could have been privy to the little chat she must have had with herself last night – making the decision to repeat her good behaviour today.

Nathan, Mia & Mrs. Nafziger (Teacher)

 

Just like Mia, we have to make conscious decisions in order to change our behaviours – deciding that we are no longer happy with the status quo and that it’s time to reach higher. It is also critical for us to see ourselves as God sees us. When Joseph’s brothers saw a nuisance, God saw the future of a nation. When many saw David as a simple shepherd boy – God saw a King; and when our Lord looks at us, we need to be changing into what He envisions us to be.

We cannot afford to stay the way we are, when just like Mia’s teacher’s, He knows what we are capable of. At any moment, we can decide to become better spouses, parents, employees and friends – taking the first step toward a change that has the power to impact our future forever.

In Romans 7 and 8, Paul teaches us that the spirit and the flesh are always at war.  When we want to do well, evil is also there enticing us to follow its ways. But through Christ, we have the power to make a good decision until positive and lasting change is manifested.

When we are positioned firmly in Christ we are no longer controlled by our sinful nature. We live boldly according to what the spirit desires – knowing that because our minds are set free – we emerge as conquerors. Aren’t you glad that those who are led by the spirit of God decide, just like 6-year-old Mia, that they can do all things through Christ who strengthens them?


Falling…

My cousin, Jeff Hubbard is a Toronto firefighter and my son Josh is studying to become one. You better believe that I pay attention to any news of six-alarm fires. Firefighters are the first responders to many 911 calls and they must be prepared for anything. I’m especially glad that they are trained to react automatically, based on what could be happening, in a myriad of circumstances.

A couple weeks ago in Toronto, a massive six-alarm blaze erupted – requiring the help of 125 firefighters to control it. The Toronto Sun reported that the most terrifying moment came when two firefighters who were battling the fire from a neighboring building slipped and disappeared into the flames.

Protocol dictates in these types of situations and upon hearing a “mayday” call, everyone jumps to do what they have been trained to. Not what they think they should do, not what their gut is telling them to do – they jump to do what they have been trained to do.

This is what I want you to catch. It’s training that was relied upon in the 25 to 30 minutes that it took to rescue the two firefighters using hoses; and its by training ourselves, that we learn to rely on what we know about God and the promises found in His Word. Then…we too are lifted out of the pits that we fall into.

I love the passage in Psalm 40:1-3 which says, I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the LORD.

God always has a rescue plan and it’s thought out perfectly from beginning to end. When we send out a “mayday” call He is not surprised and He does not have to figure out the next course of action. We are the ones who need to be trained to wait patiently for Him – knowing that He will hear our cries. I’ve learned that this kind of trusting is not always automatic but it should be. It is all too easy for us to be overwhelmed by life’s temporary circumstances. However, it’s in those moments especially that we must rely on our training.

Just last week, I stumbled around and fell into a pit and I wondered why I felt alone in my battle, why my friends were not noticing that my light wasn’t shining as brightly or that tears were close to the surface. You know why I was thinking those thoughts? I just forgot my training. Temporary amnesia set in and I forgot to rely on what I know to be true about God and His promises. I forgot to be open with the people He has brought into my life to walk alongside me, and I forgot that as Christians we are not to focus on circumstances because we walk by faith and not by sight.

When we grow weary or encounter a dry spell, it is critical that we follow our training and not our feelings. I found this David Wilkerson quote and it really encouraged me to press on. Dry spells always follow mountain top experiences or times when we have been blessed by God. The Lord teaches us things about His nature by the trials we endure here on earth. If you are on dry ground you are on your way to a great miracle. Dry ground is a pathway to the Promised Land. It’s on dry ground that the enemy is defeated and the wheels of pharaohs’ chariots fall off. Dry ground is where Jesus reveals Himself to us. God has promised that out of dry places NEW LIFE will spring up.

Just as brave firefighters rescued their comrades from a burning building in Toronto, you and I need to expect great rescues. He always has a plan and He also wants to use us to rescue those He’s placed on our path – encouraging them to wait patiently for the One who sets our feet back upon the rock every single time that we fall.


Hungry For More…

I sit at my desk this afternoon and look out the window at the gently falling snowflakes that are quickly covering the grass and landing on barren branches. I’m thinking that if nature could talk today, it would speak of its hunger for spring’s sunshine and summer’s sprinkler.

What about you – what are you hungry for? I’m not talking about your favorite food. I’m talking about that deep insatiable hunger that should be driving us to believe for more, to reach for more and to press on until it is satisfied. I am learning that in order to make positive changes we must feed the right hunger.

You know what I mean, we’ve all experienced driving hunger before but then little by little we become complacent and content to stay where we are – forgetting that He is beckoning us to hunger and thirst for more righteousness.

When I was 30, I hungered to be thin again and so I worked hard and I lost 50 pounds (which I need to do again to lose 25:). When I was 34, I hungered to have another baby (my youngest son was 10) and I convinced my husband that we needed a fourth child and darling Hannah was born. When I was 41, I hungered for the health of my granddaughter Mia from stage 4 cancer and now she is 6 and cancer free. Today at 47, I hunger for hunger. Lord, give me a hunger for more of you. More of your plan unveiled, more of your power, more of your thoughts, more creative ideas for what you’ve called me to do. I just long for more hunger.

Revisit with me the story of the woman with the issue of blood in Mark chapter 5. The Scripture tell us that she had hemorrhaged for 12 years and that she had endured much at the hands of physicians – spending all that she had. After all that, she was no better and in fact she had grown worse. I can only imagine how she hungered to be well – to be free from this affliction. In those days, she would have been considered “unclean” and it took a mammoth hunger and courage for her to make her way to the crowded street where Jesus was passing by. It must have been even harder for her to reach out and touch the hem of His garment – believing that just touching Him would be enough. Immediately, she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction and immediately Jesus felt power leave His body. He stopped and asked who had touched Him and His disciples must have thought He was crazy to ask such a question in the midst of a crowd. Then, the woman came and fell at His feet and He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.” Notice He didn’t say “my faith” He said “your faith”.

I will never forget a day in June of 2006 as I held Mia and listened as her oncologist told me that the end was near. She was at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto for a stem cell transplant and her entire GI tract was hemorrhaging into her diaper. The Doctor said, “Mam-ma (Grandma) there isn’t a surgeon in the world that would contemplate going in there to cauterize an entire GI tract. She’s losing blood as fast as we’re putting it back in. The chemotherapy has done this damage and there is nothing more that we can do.” As he left the room, tears began to pour down my cheeks and for a brief moment I gave in to the feeling of hopelessness. Maybe this was really it – we had fought such a good fight and we had hungered for her healing. I had always felt that victory was at hand but maybe the miracle was that He was taking her to heaven. Many other children in treatment with Mia were already there and I told God that I would not be angry or bitter if He took her to live with Him.

However, as I pondered these thoughts, I felt the Holy Spirit well up inside of me and as she lay across my lap I raised my hand to heaven and I said, “Jesus, I know that if I can just touch the hem of your garment this bleeding will stop. You did it for the woman in the Bible and I believe that you will do it for Mia, so I am touching your garment believing for this bleeding to stop in your precious name.” Then, a sweet nurse named Leanne came into the room and gently touched my shoulder saying, “Mam-ma, I’ve watched you pray over this baby for weeks and we are not going to lose her now. You get her back into the bed and I’ll get the cold water and washcloths to take down her fever.” With renewed hope and a deep hunger for Mia to live, we went to work with the washcloths.

I called everyone I knew to pray and by the time my daughter and son-in-law arrived that night to relieve me of my shift, the bleeding had completely stopped. The oncologist came back to check on her and with a shocked tone said, “There is no medical explanation for this bleeding to have stopped.” I wept but they were tears of joy this time because I had indeed touched the hem of my Savior’s garment.

Again, let me ask you, what are you really hungry for today? Is it a better marriage, physical healing, financial breakthrough, weight loss, weight gain, more of Jesus. Whatever it is, if you press on in faith and believe with expectant confidence that you will have it, you will receive it. I find it ironic that He is the one that can give us a “real” hunger and yet He is the only one that satisfies our hunger.

But it’s up to us to act boldly on what we know. In Luke chapter 5, Jesus didn’t tell the fish to jump into the boat – He told Simon to let down his net for a catch. Simon had to act on what He was told by Jesus and he had to physically let down his net – trusting that the waters he had been fishing in all night catching zip – would now deliver some fish. We too have to act on what we know about Jesus and His promises in order to see His purposes fulfilled in our lives.

Here is a list of 10 positive statements that I am saying everyday in 2011:

  • The joy of the Lord is my strength
  • With God all things are possible
  • The Lord is my refuge, my strength, my rock, my fortress and my deliverer
  • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me
  • I abide in the shadow of the Almighty
  • No weapon formed against me can prosper
  • The one who lives inside of me is greater than the one who comes against me
  • Every organ and cell in my body flows with life and health
  • The Lord shall increase us more and more – our children and us (Psalm 115)
  • He has set before us life and death and we choose life – loving the Lord our God and obeying His voice

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6