Healing Power

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

Sunday, January 27, 2008

"But his hair started to grow back..."

This is becoming a roller-coaster ride, and one that will put Six Flags to shame. Last week, I detailed how I had a mountaintop experience with the Lord and came to be at peace with my life. Then I detailed how that peace was so short-lived after the enemy pushed me off the cliff. Well, now I'm gonna tell you how I caught an express trip back to the top of the mountain.

I've never been a shy man, except about my relationship with the Lord. But with recent events I've become even less shy. I told several people at work about my mountaintop experience, and those I told said nothing to my face about how crazy I sounded. Maybe they did behind my back, but I'm living as if they didn't. Anyway, even though I fell off the mountain into a deep pit, I kept living as if I were on top of the mountain. I only shared my negative experience with the blog-o-sphere and a very spiritual man at work.

I told him about the insight I had regarding placing complete trust in the Lord, and how I am having so much trouble doing that. I told him that God has made it very clear to me that He will provide for my family if only I will let Him. My friend's response was, basically, "You better be buckled in!"

So, on the way home, I started praying. I asked God, "How can I trust in something that makes absolutely no sense?"

He replied, "That's what faith is all about.

"Yeah, but every bone in my body is telling me that it won't work."

"That's what faith is all about. Do you want to trust me or your feelings?"

See that's the difference between Christianity and the Force... Seriously, though. This morning one of my friends at church asked me how this week went. I told him it went well. He asked if I'd sold any cars, and I said, "No, but I've found that's not important."

Bottom line: I'm learning to place trust in the Lord, and not in the things of this world. It's really hard to do, but I'm trying.


Almighty heavenly Father, you made everything. So, you own everything. You have given us charge to oversee your creation, but it's not ours. What right, then, do we have to take more than you want us to have?

Father, we strive for the material things of this world, even though you have told us that "thieves steal and moths destroy". Why, then should we seek these? Simply because it makes this extremely short life more comfortable?

You have promised us that you will provide all that we need. I have seen this: We've never missed a house payment due to lack of funds. We've never missed a meal (and it shows). Our house is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. We are free to worship you in our country. We have two communities of faith that bolster us during our hard times. We are actively advancing the gospel in our work and school. You have promised us that you will provide all that we need, and you have followed through on that promise.

There is, then, nothing more that we need do, except what you guide us. Forgive us for trying to do all this on our own. Forgive us for failing to trust you and taking matters into our own hands. Forgive us for not being the holy examples you have commanded of us.

Father, talk to us. Through your Holy Spirit, through your Holy Word and through the open and closed doors in our lives - guide us. Make us wholly accountable to you in all that we do, never seeking to glorify our own lives.

Thank you, Father, for everything you have given us.

In Christ's Holy Name we pray,

Friday, January 25, 2008

Houston Auto Show

I've never been to an auto show. As much as I enjoy looking at fancy sports cars, I never really found them interesting. But now, with my new career, I've been invited to a free breakfast (note the word: free) and sales rally at the Houston Auto Show. This time it sounds interesting. 'Course, the main reason I'm interested is 'cuz there's free food.

No, this is not a regular blog entry - more like a regular journal entry...

Perhaps I should have posted this on Facebook rather than my blog.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

LinkedIn to Facebook

I'm now "LinkedIn". I'm also now on "Facebook". Check 'em out!

That's a quick post...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Great Divide

Delilah said to Samson, "Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued."
Samson answered her, "If anyone ties me with seven fresh thongs that have not been dried, I'll become as weak as any other man."
Then the rulers of the Philistines brought her seven fresh thongs that had not been dried, and she tied him with them. With men hidden in the room, she called to him, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" But he snapped the thongs as easily as a piece of string snaps when it comes close to a flame. So the secret of his strength was not discovered.
Then Delilah said to Samson, "You have made a fool of me; you lied to me. Come now, tell me how you can be tied."
He said, "If anyone ties me securely with new ropes that have never been used, I'll become as weak as any other man."
So Delilah took new ropes and tied him with them. Then, with men hidden in the room, she called to him, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" But he snapped the ropes off his arms as if they were threads.
Delilah then said to Samson, "Until now, you have been making a fool of me and lying to me. Tell me how you can be tied."
He replied, "If you weave the seven braids of my head into the fabric on the loom and tighten it with the pin, I'll become as weak as any other man." So while he was sleeping, Delilah took the seven braids of his head, wove them into the fabric and tightened it with the pin.
Again she called to him, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" He awoke from his sleep and pulled up the pin and the loom, with the fabric.
Then she said to him, "How can you say, 'I love you,' when you won't confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven't told me the secret of your great strength." With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was tired to death.
So he told her everything. "No razor has ever been used on my head," he said, "because I have been a Nazirite set apart to God since birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man."
When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, "Come back once more; he has told me everything." So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. Having put him to sleep on her lap, she called a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him.
Then she called, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!"
He awoke from his sleep and thought, "I'll go out as before and shake myself free." But he did not know that the LORD had left him.
Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding in the prison. But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.
- Judges 16:1-22, NIV

I want you to notice two things in the passage above; the first in bold, the second italicized. These are the keys to this post. You must read them in context for them to mean anything.

Samson was known for being the strongest man who ever lived. Notice, though, that even he was weak when subject to his wife's nagging. But I already digress...
Samson was the last of the judges of Israel. With God working in Samson's life, through his hands and feet, God showed the Philistines who was boss. Problem was, God's tool (Samson) was a tool. He did not know who was boss. His pride, jealousy and lust consumed him and turned him from the man God wanted him to be. Samson was literally sleeping with the enemy (he married two Philistine women). And one of those women proved to be his downfall.

I amaze myself sometimes. Last Friday, I had a mountaintop experience which I had to post. And Saturday I fell off the cliff on the backside of that mountain into the pit again. It got so bad that on Sunday my wife asked me about commitments to the Lord. I told her that I didn't believe God was going to help us the way He said He would. Man, I'd just heard Him tell me that all was going to work fine, then I turn around and call Him a liar. How low can I get?

Monday, I felt like a man who'd just called God a liar. I felt like something a little lower than snail tracks. But it doesn't stop there! Oh, no! Then I start getting all mixed up with gossip at work, and greed tried to grab hold. Not to mention the visual temptations that are always around in every day life!

But he did not know that the LORD had left him.

Tuesday night and Wednesday came the final test, however. My daughter was up all night sick with a stomach virus. My wife stayed up with her, but whenever the sheets got messed up, I helped fix them. I called in sick at work because of it. But it drove a point home to me. People are created to be disgusting. Nothing smells quite so bad as vomit (a point to which my friend Sean Palmer can attest). If you ever get the feeling that you are a god, go sit in a public restroom for a little while. Either yourself or someone else will definitely illustrate that you are not.

But I digress - again.

What's this got to do with Samson? This afternoon I definitely had the feeling that God had left me and I didn't even know it. I mean, there I was - on top of the mountain with Him - and my mortal enemy sneaks up and pushes me over the edge. Still, rather than go to bed tonight feeling like a waste of God's time, I went to church. I went with remorse in my heart and looking for a change in my mind. I was not disappointed.

The lesson tonight was from Colossians. As I typically do, though, when a preacher asks us to open our bibles to Colossians 1, I tend to start reading then miss most of what he says. It's a good thing I did, though.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
- Colossians 3:1-11, NIV

Or, as the Message relays verse 1: So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. See, I haven't been acting like I was serious about it. Yeah, every now and again I allow the Spirit to rule in my life. But for the most part I just live for me.

Now back to Samson. you'll notice that after he was put to work in the grist mill, blind and shackled, something happened. I italicized it when I copied it here. His hair started to grow back. This must be important - it's an obvious thing that's mentioned in the bible. All Americans, men and women alike, know that hair will grow back after it's been shaved. Whether it's your scalp, face, legs or armpits, hair will grow back. It's something everyone knows. Yet the writer of the book of Judges wanted us to know about it.

Samson's hair returning was symbolic of God returning to Samson. A little bit at first, then more and more. Finally, one day, when he was paraded in like a bear in a circus, he prayed asking God to bring back his strength one more time. His final act was another of God's judgments on the Philistines. And he couldn't have done it if God was not with him.

No matter what we've done when we feel that God has left us, He still wants to come back. Where are you right now? Do you feel like God has left you? Remember that even when you shave God off from you, He will still come back. There's no escaping Him. All I need to do now is the hard part. Give it all to Him and stop trying to fight him. Won't you join me?


Almighty heavenly father, through whose hands all was created and through whose love life was brought to bear. We praise your holy and magnificent Name. Thank you so much for all you've done for us and in us and through us. Thank you for the roofs over our heads. Thank you for the food in our bellies. Thank you for the jobs you've provided that we can continue to eat and be sheltered. Without you, none of this would be possible.

Father, tonight we come before you confessing that we are unwilling to turn over our own individuality, our identity, our being - the being you gave to us in the first place - in order that your name may be praised. It should be such a simple matter, "God, take over my life." Yet, when we try it, our pride and ego gets in the way.

Help us to rise over our pride. Help us to rise up that we may submit to you. Help us to be lofty by humbling ourselves. Remind us that you will never leave us, but that we need to work to stay near you.

And, most of all, turn up the volume when you're trying to steer us from temptation!

In Jesus' holy name we pray,

Friday, January 18, 2008

I've Been Talkin' With the Lord

Get In. Sit Down. Shut Up. Hold On!

Have you ever seen this bumper sticker? Usually seen on a redneck's truck, this sticker tells you exactly what the driver wants you to do. Well, after a recent revelatory experience, I believe God is telling me that exact same thing. (Is God fixin' to say, "Hey - watch this!"?)

Those of you who've followed my experiences closely know what I've been through. And it seems to be staying about the same. Through it all one thing keeps popping up: It ain't gonna get better unless I stop trying to do it myself. (But how do you define better? That's another topic for another day!)

So this morning I was striving to actually initiate a conversation with God. See, like most people I get close to Him then I drift away. Lately I've been away. I tried to fast yesterday to get closer, but broke down around 10:00 last night and pigged out with a three-course meal plus dessert (which was two toasted waffles with yogurt). Last night, I prayed alone and with my wife. This morning, I woke up with a prayer but something told me to keep trying. Suddenly it seemed as if God was replying.

As I asked what He wants me to do, thoughts were popping into my head. The peace that accompanied those thoughts was so complete that I could only believe that it was God, Himself, speaking to me. As I asked what He wants me to do, his reply was simply to trust Him completely. I thought I was doing that. Well, not exactly. See, my idea of what I want and His are apparently not the same thing. My goal is to be financially independent so I can devote full-time to volunteering in the prisons. He said I was already advancing the gospel at work and in my community. My wife is so concerned about our finances that she's ready to quit homeschooling and get a job. He said that He wants her to continue homeschooling, as that is her major part in advancing the gospel. I said, "She'll never believe me!" He said, "Yes, she will."

So, I told my wife that I'd been talking with God. She believed me. With tears in our eyes, from the joy that He has finally responded, we discussed this revelatory experience. We accepted the decision He has made to continue providing for us. We accepted that all we have is truly from Him anyway, so why should we worry about what we don't need.

Don't get me wrong - I'd really like to be wealthy enough to eat out on occasion. I'd really like to be able to quit spending all day at work and volunteer in the prisons full-time. I'd really like to be able to take my kids skiing in Vail and snorkeling in Cancun. And, one day it may happen.

I've rarely felt so at peace with my situation as I am right now.


Almighty Heavenly Father, we thank you for all you have done in our lives. We thank you for the little things, like shade trees and grass in the summer. We thank you for the big things like shelter from the storm and food in our bellies. And we thank you for the irreplaceable things like our family and friends. Most of all, though, we thank you for the gift of Christ who died that we may live.

Father, as we enter into a new season of trust, we ask only that you continue to provide for us. As we were taught to pray, give us today our daily bread. For without you, we have no provisions at all.

Thank you. In Christ's name we pray,

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Saturday Morning

Here it is, Saturday Morning and I'm getting ready for work. My lovely wife is still in bed; my wonderful kids are watching The Emperor's New School on TV and I'm getting coffee ready for us. While it brews, I sat down at my computer.

Why am I writing? I'm not exactly sure. But I know I can tell you that the Peace of God is on this house right now. There is no strife. There is no anger. There is no yelling. There is only love and peace as the day begins. One hour may make all the difference in the world as everyone wakes up, but until then there is only peace.

How did the Peace of God fall on our house? We kept asking for it. And, as Jesus said, "Ask and you will receive." Or, more to the point, He told a parable about the Persistent Widow (Luke 18:1-8, NIV):

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'
"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' "
And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

So, this short post is simply about persistence. Don't give up. Keep praying. Keep talking with your Father in Heaven.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Providence - It's more than a city in Rhode Island

I'm becoming a firm believer in the Providence of God. Until recently, I've been like the guy with the sick kid who said to Jesus, “I believe! Help my unbelief!” See, I believe that all things are possible with God. But I still react with awe when I see it happen.

For example: As I mentioned before, I had poisoned the well (as a good friend of mine put it) in my relationship with my wife. And, until that poison was purged, nothing good would happen. After my confession I have seen some amazing things happen at my house and at my work.

In October, I sold 2 cars. In November, 2½. By Christmas, I'd only sold one car in December. After Christmas, though, I sold 3, and so far in January, I've sold 2½.

What's the difference? Faith. Pure and simple - faith. I told God I wasn't going to try and do it on my own. I told Him that every time I tried to do it on my own I failed miserably. From this point on, it's up to Him whether I succeed or fail. And, He's seeing to it that I succeed.

I'm not becoming a rich man, but I am reaping the rewards of faith. Last month, I was second from the bottom of the Sales Consultants. So far this month, I'm fifth from the top! I'm not bragging on myself. I'm really not doing anything different on the sales floor. No, this is all God's work. The big difference is, I've made it His work.

I'm going to cut this short, and wrap it up. I'm tired and I have to be at work early. But, I wanted to pass this along.

See ya!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Forgiving oneself: the hardest one to forgive

I have committed a wrong against my wife. I kept a secret from her for several years. When it came to light, I lied about it. The secret was financial - not anything really newsworthy.

The pain we both experienced as a result of this sin, however, is newsworthy.

A man I once respected told me that the secret to a good marriage was sincerity. “Once you can fake that, you've got it made!”. Well, I tried it. It worked until about a month ago, when I finally confessed my sin and tried to figure out how to make things right.

The reaction I received to my confession was worse than I could have imagined. I had hurt her. I had hurt her bad. And it didn't look like our marriage would survive.

Time went on, though, and she did forgive me. She was still angry, but she did forgive me. That was a huge weight to be lifted. Our marriage would survive, and my children would still live in a two-parent household.

But the hardest forgiveness to receive wasn't from her, or even (if you read Romans 8) from our Heavenly Father. The hardest forgiveness to receive was from myself. I was - and am still to a degree - unable to forgive myself for the pain I had inflicted upon my dear wife. Last night, I confessed my love to her in words I had never used before. Last night, after she let me know that she would likely never be able to trust me again, I explained that the very act that took away her ability to trust me was the same act that meant I would never do anything to destroy that trust again. In other words, she would not be able to trust me because I had broken that trust. The knowledge of the pain I had caused would prevent me from ever breaking that trust again.

My wife had forgiven me. My God had forgiven me. But I could still not forgive myself.

The last week of the year, our church always holds a prayer service to purge the wrongs of the previous year and ask for blessings on the coming year. During the time of confession, I found myself sobbing uncontrollably. Several pairs of hands were place on my shoulders then removed. The last pair of hands were the giant, gentle hands of our preaching minister. I got up and prayed with him, asking him how I could forgive myself for what I had done. He said, as so many had throughout history, that the person hardest to forgive is ourself. Through steady prayer and asking God to help me move on, I have arrived at a place where I can face the future. But I'm still holding some of the burden from my sin.

Gentle readers (the two or three that may be remaining), I ask you - how do you forgive yourself when you have wronged someone dear to you? Some of the scriptures I've been reading: Psalm 51, Romans 8, 2 Corinthians 2 and 1 John.

I'm still working on it. My appetite has returned, and I'm finally beginning to do well at my new job. But I still cry when I sing or read about forgiveness, or when I hear about someone in a similar situation.