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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The Gift of Forgetfulness

I know November is usually focused on thankfulness, but I’ve realized that one thing I’m very thankful for is forgetfulness. If you don’t already, I have a feeling you’ll soon agree with me. 

For example, let’s have some fun…

Remember that awful season in junior high when there was so much insecurity, relational stress, and piles of homework? You don’t remember? Oh good. 

Remember that year you had the flu so bad you weren’t sure you would make it, and frankly you reached the point where you didn’t care anymore? Remember how you felt? Oh, it’s coming back to you vaguely now? 

Remember when you were so stressed out and worried about that one situation, that you lost sleep, you couldn’t focus, and then it all worked out in the end? Oh, you only remember that it worked out well? Yeah, I understand. 

Ok, I’m being a little silly, but the reality is that as humans we have the ability to forget. Most of the time we complain about this – forgetting the keys, forgetting someone’s birthday, forgetting where we’re going tomorrow…. But there’s also a time where forgetfulness is the blessing we need. 

We all go through hardship, trials, pain, suffering, and grief. If we remembered every painful moment, every unkind word, every fearful emotion…it would be so awful! 

That’s not to say we forget all of the bad things that happen to us. But time has a way of softening so much of the difficult, stressful or painful things we go through. Even better than time, is God’s healing touch. Whatever we bring to Him, He can heal. Then, even if we remember the circumstance, the painful emotions are no longer there. He’s done that for me many times. 

In recent years I’ve learned to pray, “Lord, help me to remember what you want me to from this situation/trial/experience. And help me to forget the rest.” He has answered that prayer, for which I’m very grateful!

And as my friend Kati says, when you’re in the middle of a new trial, just tell yourself, “I can’t wait til I’ve forgotten about this.” 


Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Whose voice are you listening to?

I confess, I enjoy watching Hallmark movies. Even if you don’t enjoy sappy, predictable, happily-ever-after movies, I bet you’ve seen enough other kinds of movies to agree with my next statement.

The main character always seems to struggle with listening to the wrong person. 

Have you noticed that? For example, the brave heroine, for some reason, listens to the gossip/slander/lies of the “mean girl” who’s trying to get the hero or beat the heroine somehow. Or the noble hero makes progress on his quest until he listens to the lies of his rival/negative friend/critical parent. As a result, he makes a bad choice and has even more difficulties to overcome. 

As outside observers of the characters, you and I feel compelled to say, “Stop being an idiot! Don’t listen to that person!” 

Why listen to someone who has proven they are untrustworthy? And yet, how many of us have done the same thing? How many times have we listened to someone and acted according to their words, even though we knew they weren’t trustworthy? 

In this crazy, mixed-up, sinful world, it’s vital that we listen to the right voices – the voices of those we know we can trust. And there’s one voice we can trust 100% of the time. 

When Jesus declared, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6), He gave us a solid foundation to build upon. Jesus is the Truth. He always speaks the truth. He is always trustworthy. 

When I look at it logically, I’m astounded at how easily we doubt God and believe other people’s lies. Doesn’t that seem crazy to you when you think about it?  

The reality is that our lives are also full of emotions, not just logic. It’s the emotions that often cloud our perspective. In the movie example, there’s always a strong emotion involved that causes the character to listen to the wrong person and believe the lies. I think it’s similar for us as well. The difference for us is that while with people, it’s hard at times to tell who is trustworthy and who isn’t, we already know God is trustworthy – no matter what. 

For me, this reflection isn’t as much about which people I should be listening to, as it is a reminder that God’s voice is the one I can always trust. 

Unfortunately, the enemy will always be whispering his lies to us – through friends or enemies, family or strangers, media or circumstances…he never quits trying to intimidate, discourage or deceive us. 

But the good news is we have a constant source of truth! The Holy Spirit, called the Spirit of truth, lives in us. The Bible is available to us, so that every day we can fill our minds with what is true and compare what we hear to unchanging truth. And God always provides people in our life who are trustworthy and will speak His truth to us in love. 

Yes, it’s a battle. No, it’s not fun. But we do have a choice. And we have a trustworthy God. 

So the question remains – whose voice will we listen to? 

“The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.” –Psalm 145:13b 

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” –John 8:32 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Thankful For “Messiology”

Several years ago, someone loaned me a little book called “Messiology” by George Verwer. The subtitle of the book is long but interesting: “The Mystery of How God Works Even When it doesn’t Make Sense to Us.” I had been noticing more often how God was at work in my life, even when I messed up, so I was intrigued by this subtitle. I started reading the book, and I discovered a profound truth put so clearly into everyday words. 

“Put simply, messiology is the idea that God in His patience, mercy, and passion to bring men and women to Himself often does great things in the midst of a mess…I sometimes refer to it his as ‘radical grace.’…no matter how filled we are with the Holy Spirit, we are still human. Our humanness has its beautiful side and its messy side.” (George Verwer) 

I used to see life choices as mostly good or bad, right or wrong, God’s will or not God’s will. And I was afraid of making a wrong choice, of not following God’s will. Looking back, I think it was an unhealthy fear. Yes, I still want to do what is right. But somehow the fear of doing anything wrong actually kept me from trusting God and seeing Him more clearly. 

Ironically, after I had lived through a season of my life being a mess (and after reading this book), I saw so clearly that “messiology” is a beautiful truth that frees us in many ways. 

*When I know God will be faithful to work all things for my good, even my sin and mistakes, then I can let go of guilt and regret. 

*When I see God as always at work, even in my utter mess, I can have peace knowing that nothing is wasted. 

*When I have confidence that God’s grace, sovereignty, and power is greater than my own human frailty and failings, then I don’t have to fear failure or be paralyzed by not wanting to make a wrong choice. 

*When I believe God is working out His greater purposes no matter what, then I can forgive others and trust Him when I don’t like what’s happening. 

*When stop pressuring myself and others to always “get it right,” then I can both receive and give grace, as I walk this journey with others and Jesus. 

Is any of this resonating with you? I hope it is! I wish I could go back 15 years and live with this beautiful understanding. It would have saved me so much stress, anxiety, fear, guilt, grief, etc. 

Life is hard. We are imperfect humans. That’s the reality. But at the same time, God is greater! He is always at work. He keeps His promises, and He remains who He is, regardless of what we do or what happens to us. 

Yet one more reason why He is so worthy of our praise! 

“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” –Jeremiah 32:27 

“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory.” –Ephesians 1:11-12



Wednesday, July 27, 2022

A Tribute

Several years ago, I “met” a fellow missionary through some mutual friends. We never actually met in person, but through sharing emails and messages, it was easy to see she was a kindred spirit. She was a missionary to her home country and people of Colombia, the same country I had grown to love as a teenager when my family lived there as missionaries. And while my Spanish wasn’t great, Martha’s English was quite good, and we were able to communicate and build a sweet friendship.

Martha had been blessed by reading my blog, and one day she offered to translate my blog posts into Spanish, so that more people could read them and be encouraged. I was so happy and grateful for her kindness and willingness to do this! She happily gave her time and energy to translate all my posts after that. 

Then a few years ago, Martha had a severe stroke, and we didn’t know if she would make it. So many people were praying for her, and miraculously God brought her through! However, she had months of intensive therapy, and never regained full function. Even after all of that, she told me she wanted to keep translating my blog posts, that it was a privilege for her. So I started sending them to her again, and she kept on translating them faithfully and joyfully...until recently. 

Earlier this month Martha went to be with Jesus. While I knew she was still dealing with complications from the stroke, it was surprising news to hear she was no longer fighting the earthly battle. 

I’m no stranger to grief. And yet, somehow it takes me by surprise every time. I thought Martha and I still had plenty of time to encourage and cheer each other on. Now she is Home, and I’m processing the loss of her presence on this earth. 

I rejoice that she is with Jesus, and she is completely healed and whole! 

I miss her already, and wish we could have one more text conversation, full of her faith-filled words and cheerful encouragement. 

I’m sad that her translated words will no longer grace future blog posts. 

I’m so grateful for all the posts she did translate, which will hopefully continue to encourage Spanish-speaking readers for many years to come. 

I pray that her friends and family will find comfort in knowing she ran her race well and is now enjoying eternity with her Savior. 

I know her life’s impact will continue to bear fruit and bring glory to God. 

I honor her for a life well-lived, for letting Jesus shine through her so brightly, and for being a blessing in the lives of so many!


I wish had more eloquent words to give tribute to my friend, my sister in Christ, this beautiful daughter of the King…but since I’m feeling at a loss today, I’ll just say this – 


Martha, you are missed. You are loved. You made a beautiful difference in this world and for eternity. Until we meet again my friend, enjoy the glorious life you have graduated to…and give Jesus a hug for me!

 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Something To Look Forward To (Algo que esperar con anhelo)

When I was in college, I helped with childcare during Wednesday night church. One of those nights, a little boy asked me how old I was. I told him I was 21. He looked shocked, shook his head and said, “No way, you’re not 21!” I laughed at his response and assured him that I was indeed older than I looked. This little 8 or 9-year old boy then paused with a very thoughtful look on his face. Finally, he said, “That means when you’re 82, you’ll only look like you’re 72!” His insight surprised me more than my age had surprised him. I just chuckled and said, “That’s something to look forward to I guess.”

The irony is that I think we do need something to look forward to, even something as silly as that. When life is only difficulty, pain, and suffering, it’s hard to keep getting out of bed each day. 

I’ve been through more than one season in my life when I wondered if I’d ever have anything to look forward to again. Maybe you can relate. Thankfully Jesus has once again refreshed my perspective to encourage me in my current trials. He has reminded me of a few very important things that I can always look forward to…

I can look forward to Jesus keeping all His promises to me. No matter how awful my circumstances, Jesus will never leave me; I can look forward to His presence with me every moment. I can watch with anticipation to see how He will work all things in my life for good, even the awful things. Suffering can’t stop Jesus from being true to His Word. That’s something I can look forward to. 

I can look forward to experiencing Jesus’ grace every day. God’s grace is not only sufficient, it is super-abounding! It never runs out. It never stops. It never fails. And in weakness, hardship, heartache, etc. His grace pours over me, whether I recognize it or not. It’s something I can not only look forward to, but look for and rejoice in every day.  

I can look forward to seeing Jesus do miracles. Maybe they’ll be “small” miracles, like helping me get out of bed when I think I can’t. Or maybe they’ll be “big” miracles like seeing a friend I’ve prayed for finally believe in Jesus. Since God is always working, I can look forward to seeing Him at work in miraculous ways, both in my life and others. 

These are only a few of the things that we can look forward to, regardless of circumstances. The beautiful reality is that everything that is true about God, is something we can look forward to in the future – because He doesn’t change. He will still be with us, still be loving us, still be pouring grace over us, still answering our prayers, still delighting in us, still singing over us…every day from now until we see Him face to face. 

And I wouldn’t be surprised if He threw in a few delightful surprises for us along the way as well. Even in the hardest trial, He still has ways to give us sweet gifts. 

I hope these thoughts have encouraged you today and given you something precious to look forward to. 

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” -Romans 8:28-30

 


Algo que esperar con anhelo 

 

Cuando estaba en la universidad, ayudaba con el cuidado de los niños durante las reuniones de iglesia los miércoles por la noche. Una de esas noches, un niño pequeño me preguntó cuántos años tenía. Le dije que tenía 21. Pareció sorprendido, sacudió la cabeza y dijo: “¡De ninguna manera, no tienes 21!” Me reí de su respuesta y le aseguré que, en efecto, era mayor de lo que parecía. Este niño de 8 o 9 años se detuvo con una mirada muy pensativa en su rostro. Finalmente, dijo: “¡Eso significa que cuando tengas 82 años, sólo lucirás como si tuvieras 72!” Su perspicacia me sorprendió más de lo que le había sorprendido a él mi edad. Me reí y dije: "Eso es algo que esperar, supongo." 

 

La ironía es que creo que necesitamos algo que anhelar, incluso algo tan tonto como eso. Cuando la vida es solo dificultad, dolor y sufrimiento, es difícil seguir levantándose de la cama todos los días. 

 

He pasado por más de una temporada en mi vida en la que me preguntaba si alguna vez volvería a tener algo que esperar. Tal vez puedas relacionarte. Afortunadamente, Jesús una vez más ha refrescado mi perspectiva para animarme en mis pruebas actuales. Me ha recordado algunas cosas muy importantes que siempre puedo esperar… 

 

Puedo esperar que Jesús cumpla todas sus promesas para mí. No importa cuán terribles sean mis circunstancias, Jesús nunca me dejará; Puedo esperar Su presencia conmigo en todo momento. Puedo mirar con anticipación para ver cómo Él obrará todas las cosas en mi vida para bien, incluso las cosas terribles. El sufrimiento no puede impedir que Jesús sea fiel a Su Palabra. Eso es algo que puedo esperar. 

 

Puedo esperar experimentar la gracia de Jesús todos los días. La gracia de Dios no solo es suficiente, ¡es sobreabundante! Nunca se agota. Nunca se detiene. nunca falla. Y en la debilidad, la dificultad, la angustia, etc. Su gracia se derrama sobre mí, lo reconozca o no. Es algo que no solo puedo esperar, sino buscar y regocijarme todos los días. 

 

Puedo esperar ver a Jesús hacer milagros. Tal vez sean “pequeños” milagros, como ayudarme a levantarme de la cama cuando creo que no puedo. O tal vez serán milagros “grandes”, como ver a un amigo por el que he orado finalmente creer en Jesús. Dado que Dios siempre está trabajando, puedo esperar verlo obrar de manera milagrosa, tanto en mi vida como en la de otros. 

 

Estas son solo algunas de las cosas que podemos esperar, independientemente de las circunstancias. La hermosa realidad es que todo lo que es verdad acerca de Dios es algo que podemos esperar en el futuro, porque Él no cambia. Él seguirá estando con nosotros, amándonos, derramando su gracia sobre nosotros, respondiendo nuestras oraciones, deleitándose en nosotros, cantando sobre nosotros… todos los días desde ahora hasta que lo veamos cara a cara. 

 

Y no me sorprendería si también nos arrojara algunas sorpresas agradables en el camino. Incluso en las pruebas más difíciles Él todavía tiene formas de darnos dulces regalos. 

 

Espero que estos pensamientos te hayan animado hoy y te hayan dado algo precioso en que esperar. 

 

“Y sabemos que a los que aman a Dios, todas las cosas les ayudan a bien, esto es, a los que conforme a su propósito son llamados. Porque a los que antes conoció, también los predestinó para que fuesen hechos conformes a la imagen de su Hijo, para que él sea el primogénito entre muchos hermanos. Y a los que predestinó, a éstos también llamó; y a los que llamó, a éstos también justificó; y a los que justificó, a éstos también glorificó.” Ro. 8:28-30


Wednesday, January 26, 2022

A Prayer for a New Year Filled with Healing (Una Oración por un Año Nuevo Lleno de Sanación )

It’s astounding to me how many people are in need of healing right now. Daily I see prayer requests from friends about themselves or someone in their family who is dealing with sickness, accidents, hospitalizations, etc. It feels overwhelming at times. Thankfully, I’ve also been hearing many reports about how God is answering prayers – bringing healing in so many situations, and giving supernatural comfort in others. 

Now that so many people are focused on asking for healing, it makes me wonder if more of us will realize God is interested in so much more than physical healing. Our heavenly Father’s heart longs to bring healing to our souls as well. This is often a harder need to recognize, share, or ask for prayer about. I think too many of us keep the wounds of our souls to ourselves, and we don’t ask for or receive the prayers for healing we so desperately need. 

 

I’ve been on a rather epic healing journey for over 25 years. I’ve experienced numerous physical and soul challenges, wounds, and pain. Thankfully, I’ve also experienced God’s touch in both physical healing and soul healing. The irony is that it seems no matter how much God heals, there is always more to be healed…there is another layer inside to heal, or a new physical challenge, or more painful circumstances we didn’t expect….

 

After everything I’ve been through, I can only say that there is an unexpected blessing in coming to know Jesus more deeply as my Healer. As much as I long for the day when I see Him face to face and everything is healed, I can appreciate the fellowship with Hiim that comes in the midst of the pain and heartache. I think that’s why Psalm 34:18 says “The LORD is close to the broken-hearted….” 

 

Asking for healing means acknowledging that we need help beyond ourselves. And in that place, we are ready to receive grace. 

 

Grace strengthens us when there isn’t relief of physical pain.

Grace carries us when we’re too weak to care.

Grace comforts us when there are no tears left. 

Grace heals things we never expected to be freed from.

Grace touches places deep inside us, breathing new life, peace, and hope into us. 

 

All this comes through our humble Savior – who completely understands our pain, who loves us unconditionally. In His presence, we find healing in ways we didn’t know we needed or ever believed possible. 

 

So, as we start this new year, I have a challenge for us. Let us continue praying for physical healing for our friends and loved ones. But let us also pray for soul healing for others and for ourselves. Let us bravely ask trusted friends to pray for our soul healing as well. Let us discover more of who Jesus is as our Healer. Let us encourage others with our stories of healing. Let us demonstrate with our prayers and our testimonies that the gospel is true and God is still doing miracles among His people. 

 

Will you join me?

 

 

Jesus, 

I thank you that you are our Healer. I praise you for all the ways you have worked healing in my life and those I love. Yet Lord, we are so needy. We need your presence, your grace, and your love. As we begin a new year, we ask you to give us courage to keep praying for healing. Help us see beyond the physical to the soul healing you wish to give. Draw us near to know you better in our pain. And fill us with praise to you, as you do more than we can ask or imagine! We love you, Lord. Amen. 





Una Oración por un Año Nuevo Lleno de Sanación 

 

Me sorprende cuántas personas necesitan curación en este momento. Diariamente veo peticiones de oración de amigos acerca de ellos mismos o de alguien de su familia que está lidiando con enfermedades, accidentes, hospitalizaciones, etc. A veces se siente abrumador. Afortunadamente, también he estado escuchando muchos informes sobre cómo Dios está respondiendo las oraciones, trayendo sanidad en tantas situaciones y brindando consuelo sobrenatural en otras. 

 

Ahora que tantas personas se enfocan en pedir sanidad, me pregunto si más de nosotros nos daremos cuenta de que Dios está interesado en mucho más que la sanidad física. El corazón de nuestro Padre celestial anhela traer sanidad a nuestras almas también. Esta es a menudo una necesidad más difícil de reconocer, compartir o pedir oración. Creo que muchos de nosotros guardamos las heridas de nuestras almas para nosotros mismos, y no pedimos ni recibimos las oraciones de sanación que tan desesperadamente necesitamos. 

 

He estado en un viaje de curación bastante épico durante más de 25 años. He experimentado numerosos desafíos físicos y anímicos, heridas y dolor. Afortunadamente, también he experimentado el toque de Dios tanto en la curación física como en del alma. La ironía es que parece que no importa cuánto sane Dios, siempre hay más por sanar... hay otra capa interior que sanar, o un nuevo desafío físico, o circunstancias más dolorosas que no esperábamos.... 

 

Después de todo lo que he pasado, solo puedo decir que hay una bendición inesperada al llegar a conocer a Jesús más profundamente como mi Sanador. Por mucho que anhele el día en que lo vea cara a cara y todo se sane, puedo apreciar la comunión con Él que surge en medio del dolor y la angustia. Creo que es por eso que el Salmo 34:18 dice “Cercano está Jehová a los quebrantados de corazón;…”

 

Pedir sanación significa reconocer que necesitamos ayuda más allá de nosotros mismos. Y en ese lugar, estamos listos para recibir la gracia. 

  

La gracia nos fortalece cuando no hay alivio del dolor físico. 

La gracia nos lleva cuando somos demasiado débiles para que nos importe. 

La gracia nos consuela cuando ya no quedan lágrimas. 

La gracia cura cosas de las que nunca esperamos ser liberados. 

La gracia toca lugares muy profundos dentro de nosotros, infundiéndonos nueva vida, paz y esperanza. 

 

Todo esto viene a través de nuestro humilde Salvador, quien comprende completamente nuestro dolor, quien nos ama incondicionalmente. En Su presencia, encontramos sanidad en formas que no sabíamos que necesitábamos o que nunca creímos posibles. 

 

Entonces, al comenzar este nuevo año, tengo un desafío para nosotros. Sigamos orando por la sanidad física de nuestros amigos y seres queridos. Pero oremos también por la curación del alma de los demás y de nosotros mismos. Pidámosle valientemente a nuestros amigos de confianza que también oren por la sanación de nuestra alma. Descubramos más de quién es Jesús como nuestro Sanador. Animemos a otros con nuestras historias de sanación. Demostremos con nuestras oraciones y nuestros testimonios que el evangelio es verdadero y que Dios todavía está haciendo milagros entre Su pueblo. 

 

¿Me acompañarás? 

 


Jesús, 

Te agradezco que seas nuestro Sanador. Te alabo por todas las formas en que has trabajado en la sanación de mi vida y la de aquellos a quienes amo. Sin embargo, Señor, estamos tan necesitados. Necesitamos tu presencia, tu gracia y tu amor. Al comenzar un nuevo año, te pedimos que nos des valor para seguir orando por sanidad. Ayúdanos a ver más allá de lo físico hacia la curación del alma que deseas brindar. Acércanos para conocerte mejor en nuestro dolor. ¡Y llénanos de alabanzas a ti, ya que haces más de lo que podemos pedir o imaginar! Te amamos, Señor. Amén.