Healing Power

Running commentary on how Jesus' Healing Power is affecting my life - and helping me to help others.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

This is the Day that the LORD has Made

I will rejoice and be glad in it.

- Psalm 118:24

There are so many reasons we find to have a bad day. And, over the last three weeks, my family has experienced many of these reasons. During these times, it's very hard to rejoice.

In the last five years, there have been times when I couldn't feel the LORD's presence. Funny thing, though, during these recent events that have seriously strained my emotions, I've felt very close to the LORD. When it was my action that separated us, I've suffered from seemingly innocuous wounds. When it was the actions of another that bring strife into my life, I'm comforted though the battle rages.

I'm not boasting. I am not given to boasting, nor have I reason to boast. This is simply a statement of fact from my own personal experience, and I wish to share it with those who may be experiencing the same thing. When you learn something good, it's good to share. So, I'm sharing.

Though I'm not incredibly successful, I try to start each day with some "God-time" - prayer and reading His Word. I actually started doing this when I asked for freedom from bipolar disorder and my answer came from 2 Corinthians 12:

there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
If His grace is sufficient for me, than I better do what I can to stay close to Him. That's the only way I overcame bipolar disorder. And, that's the only way I can make it through today, as well.

Right now, there's not a person in my family that has a job. As my wife's company pares down the IT jobs in the US, she was one of those given a permanent vacation. I am trusting in the LORD to care for us, and through constant prayer and reading His Word, I am at peace with the loss of my wife's job. I've had to stop asking for a map and just trust that His headlights will light the way.

For the last few years, I'd been trying to understand exactly what God wants me to do. I've stressed myself out because I don't know the end result. But then something occurred to me: Abraham didn't know where he was going, either - but he went. Joseph didn't have a choice where he went - but he never lost faith, even in prison. One day, Moses was a lowly shepherd caring for the flock of his father-in-law. The next day, he was a freedom-fighter (at the age of 80!) standing up to Pharaoh with his brother and his God by his side. Gideon was hiding in a winepress threshing wheat (it won't work very well!) when an angel told him to go fight the Midianites. David was, like Moses, a lowly shepherd caring for his father's flock when Samuel told him, "The LORD has annointed you to be the next king of Israel!" Isaiah was serving as a priest in the Temple when he saw the face of God and became His spokesperson in Israel. Zechariah was serving as a priest in the Temple when he saw an angel that said, "You're going to have a son - and he will bring Israel back to God." But that was nothing compared with Mary - the angel told her she would have a son even though she'd never been married! The disciples were fishing when a man came up to them and said, "Drop your nets!" Then there's Saul. He made a living persecuting Christians. "Deny Christ or Die!" And he thought he was doing the right thing!!! But Christ appeared to him and taught him the right thing to do. So he did it.

What right do I have to gripe about not knowing what is going on in my life? Why am I upset that I'm not in control of my life? Is it my life to control? Am I not here solely for God's pleasure?

Though the cherry trees don't blossom and the strawberries don't ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten and the wheat fields stunted,
Though the sheep pens are sheepless and the cattle barns empty,
I'm singing joyful praise to God.
I'm turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.
Counting on God's Rule to prevail,
I take heart and gain strength.
I run like a deer.
I feel like I'm king of the mountain!
- Habakkuk 3:17-19, The Message

It doesn't matter how horrible your life is. I can tell you from experience that God is bigger than your problems. With Him holding you, there is nothing you cannot face. He never promised us a rose garden, only the grace to deal with the thorns. We are here to fight a battle. And we will win.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

More on being offensive

He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
- Proverbs 17:9, NIV

Today I installed the cool new Flash Verse of the day tool from Bible Gateway. And, the first verse that popped up was Solomon's comment on my last blog entry. Whoa.

I've been offensive, and I've repeated the matter. That's why I have to keep saying "I'm sorry if I've offended you". But if I'm passionate about something, shouldn't I stick to my guns?

Those to whom I referred in the last post, are people I consider to be close friends. Have I separated them? When I told a good friend we were going to homeschool, he said, "Some of our neighbors homeschool. They're really weird." Well, i certainly hope I'm not weird. But there's something about this that offends people. I'm going to find out why.

When I told my wife about the response I'm getting from folks, she said, "Maybe you're coming off stronger than you think you are. If one person thinks you are pushing homeschooling on everyone, it's likely their problem. If more than one person thinks you are doing it, then you may be doing it."

I'll be honest. I've read and re-read what I've posted - I honestly don't think it is pushing homeschooling on anyone who doesn't want to participate. But since more than one person believes it does, then I'm ready to face the facts and say, "I guess it does." Well, here are the facts I've dug up:

I guess I'm a recruiter. Two military recruiters hooked me about 20 years ago. I signed up with both the Marines and the Navy. I wound up doing the time with the Navy, and I'm glad I served. But neither of these recruiters came to me. I went to both of them seeking something more in my life. When they offered me something, I bit.

I'm the same way about homeschooling. Someone comes to me with a problem they're having in the public school system, and I do what I've always done when someone asks me about any problem: I provide a possible solution from my own experience. Lately, here in Texas, there's been a lot of talk about the Governor's mandate that all schoolgirls be vaccinated against a sexually-transmitted disease. I personally campaigned for Carole Strayhorn and against Rick Perry because I don't like what he stands for. But he was re-elected anyway, and look what we have now. (What would it require to see if money exchanged hands?) My answer to the dilemma: I'm glad I homeschool. And those of you who have problems with this need to either take it up with the state government (recall Perry!) or get your kids into somewhere that they won't be affected by this order. If you choose to homeschool, I'll be here to help you along. If you choose another method, I don't know anything about it.

This is like offering advice on a car. I drive a Honda and a Saturn - both of which have over 100K miles on them. I've enjoyed both cars, and I am a strong supporter of both makes. Now, if you come up to me and ask me which car I recommend, I'd recommend either a Honda or a Saturn. But if you come up to me and ask me about a Dodge, I'll refer you to my folks. If you ask me about a Ferarri, I'll say, "I don't know anything about them - but they sure do look hot!"

Education is the same way. I can offer advice only about what I know. That is homeschooling. The Marine recruiter couldn't tell me anything about the Air Force, Army or Navy, except that he considered them all wimps. The Navy recruiter had the same dilemma.

I'm sorry if I've offended you.
I'm sorry if what I've said has hit you wrong.
I am passionate about homeschooling in the same way I'm passionate about the church. I believe it works, and I believe it is the right thing for most people. I also believe it is much easier than most want to admit. Yeah, it gets in the way of your personal dreams (believe me, I know that!) but the reward is worth it. If you don't think it's for you, that's fine. I'm honestly very happy for you. And, if you come back to me with another problem in the public school system, I'll tell you that I don't have to deal with that because I homeschool. Some friends of mine would say they don't have to deal with that because their kids are in private school.

I will try to watch my tone when I speak. I do not want to be offensive. Please understand, though, that this is important to me. And yes, I plan to homeschool through high school.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

I'm sorry if I've offended you....

These words have escaped my keyboard several times in the last few months. Why? Because there are things about which I'm passionate. I'm passionate about my relationship with my wife, my children and my God. I'm passionate about doing things right by those with whom I have a responsible relationship. That means I'm passionate about ensuring those relationships remain strong, regardless of what others may think or feel.

Truth is, I don't like to offend people. I used to enjoy doing it, but I've matured somewhat. I do things that people don't like. I associate with untouchables. I homeschool. I strive to please God - 'cuz he's the only one that matters.

The problem arises when something I'm passionate about steps on someone else's toes. Well, I honestly don't believe I'm doing anything wrong in most of my life. I'm doing what I feel led to do. Yeah, I make mistakes. Yeah, I slip and fall. I'm not perfect - nobody is. But I am working hard to live a life that will make God happy. I'm working hard to walk into His arms and hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

That means I'm going to associate with untouchables. That means I'm going to dare to tell people in my church they're not the only ones going to heaven. That means I'm going to the prison and talk to the murderers and rapists and thieves. That means I'm going to talk to those all the 'righteous' have labeled sinners. (Hey - I've got news for you - I'm a sinner, too!)

Christ associated with untouchables. "My Jesus...spent His time with thieves and sluts and liars" Thanks to Todd Agnew - "My Jesus". Christ didn't like the religious folk of His day. And don't forget that they're the ones that put Him on a cross.

I'm also going to homeschool. There are so many things wrong with this country, and it seems like we're only getting worse. I wish it were just teaching evolution and the occasional pot-head in class like it was in the 70s. No, today there are 11-year-olds hosting sexual drug orgies. Today there are a handful of adults who won't tell your kids they're stupid for believing in God. Today they are forced to learn about Islam and Hinduism and Buddhism while speaking of the Lord will get you suspended.

It's all in the name of pluralism. "Everything's OK. There is no absolute truth." Pluralists teach us that if we love each other then we must be tolerant of their actions, regardless of what we know to be true from scripture.

So the neighbor kid is taught that it is perfectly normal for Heather to have two mommies, and that there is no difference between Christianity and Buddhism and ancient Greek paganism. She is taught that if it feels good, that is what you should do. She is taught that no matter what she does, she is still a good person.

I don't want this to be taught to my kids. I don't want my kids to come home one day and tell me that I'm an idiot because I pray to God. I don't want my kids to come home one day and tell me that I'm old-fashioned about sex because the teacher told them it's okay to experiment with people from both sides. This is why I homeschool.

I believe I am to "Train up a child in the way she should go". I also believe that not everyone is able to do this, and those people need to find suitable alternatives to public school. I also believe that many people are afraid to try it - and would find that it is much easier than they think.

I've rambled. I'm sorry if I've offended you. I'm not sorry for what I said.


Friday, February 02, 2007

That Rawks!

Fifteen years ago, I was delivering pizzas for a living - and living in a tent on the beach. The job and the tent were by choice. I had no bills, I had no worries. I'd get my tip money and go home with leftover pizza, a full tank of gas a case of beer and some ice for the cooler. Breakfast usually started after 10 am and consisted of cold pizza and maybe a beer or Gatorade. I'd lift the hatchback on my '84 Dodge Colt and crank up some Metallica or Soundgarden or Rush.

While delivering pizza, I was one of those cars you hate to be next to. My car thumped. I couldn't afford a decent car stereo, so I had a boom box plugged into the cigarette lighter with two Bose 101s in the back. My whole car was jury-rigged like that.

I've always enjoyed loud, hard music. I remember in 1986 when Metallica hit the radio with Master of Puppets I said, "There's no way rock can get harder than that." I was wrong. Keyboards don't do much for me. Guitar, bass and drums. That's where it's at. Maybe a flute like Jethro Tull, but that was about it. There was nothing more soothing than watching the sun rise on Padre Island with Nothing Else Matters blaring through my car speakers.

But then I settled down and got civilized. I got married, and that meant I had to become a respectable citizen, right? So, I stopped driving around with the stereo blaring - at least when other people were in the car. 'Specially that lovely lady that became my wife. I still enjoyed listening to the "alternative" station here in Yewsten.

But on January 30, 2002 (I was going to post a blog on that day, but there was a major spew in my life that I'll cover later), I became a Christian. Wow. Five years! My body's 41 years old, but my soul's five. Cool, huh? Anyway, I became a Christian. I was ready to change my life, and God began to do exactly that. First, He removed my desire for the music I enjoyed. Not the guitars, but the lyrics devoted to secular humanism, sex, drugs and death. It just didn't do anything for me anymore. Actually, it was worse than that - I really couldn't listen to it anymore. For nearly 20 years, Rush was my favorite band. But now I found their lyrics offensive.

So, I began to listen to the Christian radio station here in town. They played some decent music, but they had a huge audience to whom they had to appeal, so they didn't play any of the raw, cutting edge rock and roll I'd come to love. I mean, there is a fairly small crowd in the secular world that listens to that sort of music (A long-time Yewsten rock & roll icon, KLOL, was recently turned into a Tejano station because the market segment for KLOL was so small). In the Christian world, the segment is even smaller - preventing a radio station from carrying it 24x7.

Well, time went on and I began to crave the driving guitar again. I tried flipping back to my stations, but with the kids in the car - let's just say there was too much going on that I didn't want my kids to hear. So I kept listening to music that was rapidly (for me) approaching quaalude quality.

Then I went to the local library and checked out a Christian Xtreme CD. There were bands I knew and bands I'd never heard of. Demon Hunter. Relient K. Toby Mac. Pillar. Something that surprised me, there are more women in Christian music that know how to really rock than in secular music. Rebecca St. James. Superchic[k]. Barlow Girl. I found my guitar. I found my drums. I found my gutteral singing. I was happy again.

Last week, I got a Skillet CD. They're one of my favorite bands. The term is, I guess (and don't forget - I'm 41. Even thought I like the music, I'm not up with the terminology!) they rawk.

So, thanks for the rawk, folks. Thanks for "rocking my face off" (as Mac Powell from Third Day would say). But mostly, thank you for rawking for God.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Go for the Gusto!!!

This used to be an advertisement for Schlitz beer. I remember the tagline, but I don't remember the tune or even the video. But it said that if you're going to drink a beer, then grab the best beer out there. Well, in 2007, I'm applying that philosophy to my life.

You want to know where I am in my life? I've been playing the game the way people have told me I need to play it. I've been living as if today doesn't matter and all we have is tomorrow. Well, I've written several times in the last month that my timing was off. Yesterday doesn't matter and tomorrow never comes. That leaves me with today.

"Today is the first day of the rest of your life."
"Live today as if it were the last day of your life."
There are more, but these two say are all that's coming to my mind. See a trend here? I'm done worrying about yesterday's mistakes, and I'm done worrying about tomorrow's food. I'm ready to do what God wants me to do, and go where He wants me to go. If He wants me in Houston, I'll stay. If He wants me in Podunk, East Dakota, I'll go. (Yes, Virginia, I know there's no East Dakota.) I'm going where God provides a path to go, and doing what He provides a way to do.

Effective January 1, 2007, my family is freed from the bonds that tied us to the world. We are free to move about God's Kingdom, and that's what we're going to do.

This is a teaser, so there will be more details later.