“Today, God is going to heal my daughter through prayer.”

One writer said, “Genuine faith puts its letter in the mailbox and lets go. Distrust, however, holds on to a corner of the envelope and then wonders why the answer never arrives.”

You can’t halfway commit with faith. If you’re still holding on to it, you haven’t given it over to God.

This sounds basic, but it’s harder in practice. Oftentimes, when I pray about something, it continues to stick in my mind for the rest of the day, causing me stress as I rack my mind for a solution. But if I’m still worried about how to do it  on my own, I’m not trusting in God’s solution.

There was a teacher of mine whose little daughter hit her head and went into a coma. They could see the life draining out of her and the doctors didn’t know what to do. The entire right side of her body was completely unresponsive. Before he left the school to be with her at the hospital, he wrote on the whiteboard: “Today God is going to heal my daughter through prayer. Celebration at my house, I’ll slaughter a pig. All invited. Serious!”

That was it. Telling the story later, I heard no doubt in his voice. He was unwaveringly confident in what God would do. And in his statement, he left no wiggle room in case just maybe God didn’t. He didn’t say, “If it is his will, God will heal my daughter.” He didn’t say, “Praying that God will heal my daughter.” He even just say, “God will heal my daughter through prayer.” He said, “God is going to heal my daughter, today.” He put all the cards on the table, everything on the line. And today, she is alive and vibrant.

I know that Jesus prayed, “Your will be done.” And that is a prayer of surrender, and an important way to pray. But I think maybe sometimes, we’re afraid of risking it with God. We’re afraid to believe, because what if he doesn’t answer? So we fill our prayers with qualifiers, not because we truly have surrendered to his will, but because we want to leave room for our doubts.

Real faith doesn’t say, “God, can you?” but rather, “God, will you?” And the person whose heart is close to God’s is close to his will.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and evidence of what we do not see.” Faith doesn’t have any wiggle room. Faith commits and lets go.

Just some thoughts that have been challenging me. I encourage you this week to make your prayers prayers of faith. Blessings!
–Bre

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When the morning dawns

Wrote this poem last week during National Poetry Writing Month. The last line of every stanza is taken from Psalm 46:1-5.

When my heart is faint and my courage weak,
And I know not for what I seek,
When the weight of the world drives me to my knees,
God is our refuge and strength.

When what I see is not what’s real,
And I’ve lost trust in what I feel,
You are my solid rock, my shield,
A very present help in trouble.

Though I may wander, your truth will remain;
Regardless of storm clouds, forever you reign.
Nowhere could I go to escape your domain!
Therefore we will not fear.

You are my constant, my compass, my chart;
You’re the North Star to my wandering heart:
Faithful and steadfast in light and in dark,
Though the earth give way.

He hems me in, before and behind;
Oh, where can I go that I may hide?
He’s in the depths and in the heights,
Though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.

He’s counted every grain of sand;
He quiets the wind with his strong hand.
The sea is no match for his command,
Though its waters roar and foam.

Pick a star, he knows its name.
I long to look upon your face,
Content in your sufficient grace,
Though the mountains tremble.

Unto you I cast my cares,
Pile my stones into a cairn.
My lungs are full of mountain air;
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God.

In your true Word do I delight,
A light that does not fear the night.
I’ve fought the fight, at last to find
The holy habitation of the Most High.

I hear the voices of the saints;
One day he will call my name.
I long that those who know me say,
God is in the midst of her.

Because he is faithful, because he is true,
Because so far he went his passion to prove,
Because his command even death can’t undo,
She shall not be moved.

By the world unseduced, she is seeking the truth,
Hangs on to the faith that his promise will prove,
Clings to the Rock that she knows will not move;
God will help her when the morning dawns.

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Lost in translation

Do you let life interpret God or does God interpret life?

(You can read that multiple times if you need to.)

We may not say it, may not give it voice, may not ever even shape it into words in  our minds, but we do this all the time. Your situation shapes your view of God. It shapes your emotions, love, contentment, and peace. It shapes your trust and your faith. As soon as things start going bad, you start questioning your relationship with God. Oh, I haven’t been spending enough time in the Word. Oh, God hasn’t been speaking to me lately. Oh, I just don’t have that spiritual strength I used to.

Here’s the reality: Your relationship with God does not depend on how you feel, but what he’s done. And God does not depend on how I feel, but on who he is. God does not depend on your circumstances, status, struggles, or state of mind. God’s character is not determined by your situation, stresses, social circles, or stage of life. The truth of who God is is unaffected by your decisions, desires, despair, and delusions. God is based on one thing, and one thing only: Himself.

In Exodus 3 when Moses stood barefoot before the fire that did not destroy and asked God what name he should give to the Israelites to describe their God, the Lord answered with five powerful words: I AM WHO I AM.” Tell them “I AM” has sent you.

I AM truth. I AM righteous. I AM love. I AM holy. I AM good. I AM just. I AM strong. I AM gracious. I AM glorious. I AM enough. I AM sovereign. I AM in control.

Sometimes we forget that. Sometimes, in the good times, we take God for granted and forget to be in awe, to be constantly learning more fully who he is and so then when the trials come we’ve forgotten that. We’ve forgotten who he is, this God we claim to serve.

He is a God who transcends circumstance and surpasses situations. He destroys excuses, eliminates obstacles, and supersedes fear. He is over all and in all. He is sovereign, and he is strong. He is powerful, and he is protection. He is refuge, and he is restoration. He carries us through the fight and protects us through the night. He is over every worry and every conflict and every stress and every complicated situation life throws at you because He is Lord.

Ask yourself this question this week, and remember to keep your eyes above the waves. Blessings!
–Bre

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The Ones Who Said Yes

I’m tired of saying to God, “You’re not enough.” Not with my words, but with my actions, with my thoughts. With my heart.

The Christmas story is a story of God coming near, heaven breaking open to earth. It’s a story of a God who would do that–and it’s a story of people who said “yes” to him.

Mary. Joseph. The shepherds. They didn’t know what was going on. But they trusted. That God was in control. That he was enough. That he was ______ enough. It wasn’t a big, bold move, of grandeur and glory. Its bigness, in fact, came from the fact that it was unglamorous and unexciting. It was gritty and grimy and unspectacular, because it didn’t culminate in one fireworks moment but meant a lifetime of living this way, a lifetime with everything life throws at you especially when you’re outside its ideas of what should be.

Mary was willing to get pregnant, Joseph was willing to take the blame, and the shepherds went back changed. The “Jesus scandal” wasn’t something that would fade from her reputation. The angels in the sky could be dismissed as hallucinations. But they knew the truth.

And it mattered, because they said yes.

 

This one goes out to the ones who said yes.
The crazy ones
The brave ones
The believing ones
The faith-filled ones.
The ones who are terrified
because it means they could be ostracized
penalized
last in line
classified.
But though they’re petrified
they will not be paralyzed.
They may be quiet
but their lives are far from silent.
I think I hear a rumbling
a mumbling
a muffled far-off thundering
It’s the sound
of a world about to turn around:
Something about it confounds,
astounds the earth-bound,
spellbound,
as heaven is unwound and glory touches down.
They are the unnamed
world-changers
earth-shakers
custom-breakers
culture-makers
change-creators
And all they did
was say yes.
I thought I saw the mountains move,
when what they knew was turned askew
but by a prayer they made it through
and came out with a changing view
and what do you know–
it changed me too.
It’s not that they knew
or lived up to
or had something more than you
but that they just said
yes.
And that was why the mountains moved
and the seas were made a walking-path
and curtain tore when skies went black
and baby lay with cow and calftorch clear
Because even though they were afraid
their answer was what made them brave
They left the shade
They didn’t cave.
It was unspectacular and inexplicable
Not impressive or incredible
and yet it’s somehow powerful:
They said
yes.

HOPE

May the God of hope
fill you with all joy and peace in believing
that by the power of the Holy Spirit
you may abound in hope.

 The God of hope. That’s a new one.

We don’t usually think of a God of hope. We think of a God of wrath, of power and holiness. A God of fire and thunder and wind and storm. A God who sends down lightning from above and shatters the walls of Jericho. A God of power and strength and rage and perfection. A God who demands, a God who judges, a God who is far, far away or a God who is all too close.

Or, we’re all too happy to ignore that part of God. We see a God of love. A God of love and grace and peace and mercy. A God who is gentle, who is near and undisturbing. A God who sends us a Baby, a God who died on a tree, a God who is the rescue from my sins and this world around me. A God who cares and who will take care of all my needs.

Both/all of those things are true of God. I think a lot of times we have trouble seeing both at once. I think a lot of us like to fit God in a box. We like a self-made, custom-fit God to neatly slip into our puzzle exactly as we want him to.

NEWSFLASH: that’s not how it works.

Something I’ve been learning over the years is that God does not depend on how I feel, but on who he is. Neither my pain nor my pride can change his character. I could go on and on about this, maybe I will someday. But for now I want to talk about this verse I found yesterday, in Romans 15:13, because God is a God of hope.

May the God of hope
fill you with all joy and peace in believing
that by the power of the Holy Spirit
you may abound in hope.

Hope. We don’t give a lot of thought to hope, a lot of times, do we? 1 Corinthians 13;13 says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.” We hear a lot about faith and love, and for good reason. But hope? Hope doesn’t seem to fit.

Hope is wishy-washy. Hope doesn’t seem to require grand, sweeping gestures to prove our devotion to God. Hope doesn’t come down and bleed and rise again for me. Hope doesn’t have an application for me. Hope is only for the desperate. The needy.

WRONG. On all counts.

Hope is a challenge. A dare. Hope is what Christ died for. And hope is life-changing–because we are all desperate and needy. Hope is security in something bigger than yourself.

God is a God of hope.

Is it making sense now?

Hope is not a quality. It is a promise. The Bible is full of them. The one that most particularly struck me this week is found in Isaiah 33.

Verses 1-14 declare God’s power and greatness:

You who are far away, hear what I have done;
    you who are near, acknowledge my power!
The sinners in Zion are terrified;
    trembling grips the godless:
Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire?
    Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?”
(verses 13-14)

But then in verse 17, there is a shift.

Your eyes will see the king in his beauty
    and view a land that stretches afar.
In your thoughts you will ponder the former terror:
    “Where is that chief officer?
Where is the one who took the revenue?
    Where is the officer in charge of the towers?”
You will see those arrogant people no more,
    people whose speech is obscure,
    whose language is strange and incomprehensible.
Look on Zion, the city of our festivals;
    your eyes will see Jerusalem,
    a peaceful abode, a tent that will not be moved;
its stakes will never be pulled up,
    nor any of its ropes broken.
There the Lord will be our Mighty One.
    It will be like a place of broad rivers and streams.
No galley with oars will ride them,
    no mighty ship will sail them.
For the Lord is our judge,
    the Lord is our lawgiver,
the Lord is our king;
    it is he who will save us.
(verses 17-22)

There! Did you catch it? God’s promise: you will SEE.

Because here’s the thing: not only are you desperate and needy, but you are blind.

I know all too well how easy it is to lose my sight. You can probably relate.  In this world, it’s not too hard. I don’t do it on purpose. I just sort of, slip into everyday life, and boom! Lost.

Things start to become a lot more important. Things like status. Like friends. Like reputation. Like possessions. Like achievements. Like goals. Like plans. Like success. Like comfort. Like fun. Like business and busyness.

These are things that are important. Or that would be, if this world was all there is.

You see, because I can’t see it, I struggle to remember sometimes that there is a world beyond this one.

That’s amazing to me. The hope of this place called heaven, where he will wipe every tear, every weary, frustrated, angry tear from my eye, and all these burdens that I feel but don’t quite know how to name, my shoulders release and I fall into your arms…

I cry out to God, why can’t I live like it’s heaven on earth now? What would that look like? For you to be all I need, now? For me to never look back, now? For you to always be there for me, now? Why do I have to be here? Why can’t I go to heaven now and have all of this then come true?

Oh, wait…

God does not depend upon how I feel. Neither does he depend on where I am.

Here’s the thing. Right now, it can be really, really hard to see. Really hard. And I’m about ready to give up. But God is a God of hope. And hope does not give up. And hope promises, that you. Will. See.

You will see.

You will see something beautiful, something glorious. Something unlike anything this world has ever encountered. You will watch the fireworks as heaven and earth collide, and observe the awesomeness as his glory breaks the skies. You will see a city where there are no tears, no heartache, no sorrows, no weariness, no burdens, no depression or desperation or need for anything but more and more of this glorious light, filling our eyes and being drunk by our souls. You will see God for who he really is, and in that moment everything else will have faded to dust.

I crave it. I crave hope. I crave security in something bigger than myself. Because it reminds me, that all this stuff that does create these tears and these burdens and this weariness–it’s all going to go away. It reminds me that he does meet all my needs, now, and he is so, so close to me, now, and why should I be looking back, now?

It reminds me that he promises something beautiful. God is a God of hope. And hope, is how I see.

May the God of hope
fill you with all joy and peace in believing
that by the power of the Holy Spirit
you may abound in hope.

Bre

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