The Garden Prayer

For years, the account of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane puzzled me. I couldn’t get past the following train of thought: “If Jesus is God, then He knows what God knows. If God knew that the only way to redeem humanity was for Jesus to be crucified, then Jesus knew that. Then why on earth did He ask God to ‘let this cup pass from me’ if He knew that wasn’t an option?” I dissected the account of Jesus in the Garden more times than I can count. I looked for answers, prayed for answers, asked others for answers… and got a lot of nothing. I was trying to make sense of my second cancer diagnosis when I was drawn back to the account of Jesus in the Garden … and it finally clicked. In the Garden, Jesus showed us how to go to Our Father and ask Him to take the hard things from us. He asked for another way to deal with the sin of mankind while remaining completely submitted to God’s will. The account is there for me (and for you). Scripture says this: Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39 HCSB Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.” Matthew 26:43 HCSB   In the Garden, Jesus shows us this beautiful truth… When life presses on you so hard that you can’t rest, your chest hurts, and you have a hard time breathing…...

God is Great … God is Good

My family served lunch at our local soup kitchen last month. I leave there with something each time we serve there: a new or better understanding of the plight of those who depend on the soup kitchen for their meal; a renewed appreciation of the blessings I so often take for granted; a heightened respect for those who so faithfully serve our homeless community; and a desire to do more to serve where God has placed me are but a few of the things I’ve taken away from the soup kitchen over the years. Last month, I received the most amazing and unexpected gift. Once we’re prepared the lunch plates and those who were eating had been invited in and seated, the fella in charge that day welcomed everyone. He thanked us for providing the meal and for giving our time to serve it. Then he announced that it was time to bless the food. He’d prayed with us multiple times already that morning…long rambling prayers that one would expect from someone who depends on the Lord daily for every little physical thing. He prayed prayers of thanksgiving for the food we’d prepared. He prayed prayers of protection for our family and the others who served that day. He prayed for God’s blessings to rain down on our lives. So, you can imagine my surprise…no, my SHOCK, when he began to bless the food… “God is Great, God is Good…” I am ashamed to say that my immediate thought was “WHAT?!?!? Are you kidding me?” I instantly remembered teaching my children to pray “Dear God thank you for the hot dogs...

“God Won’t Give you More Than You Can Bear”

This phrase has been both puzzling and troubling to me over the years, specifically when I had cancer and during times when I experienced spiritual warfare personally and in our ministry. So, I went digging for answers. There is no scripture that tells us that God won’t give us more than we can bear or that tells us that God won’t allow more than we can bear. What you WILL find is 1 Corinthians 10:13, which states: No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV) This verse is referring to TEMPTATION. God does allow us to be tempted to sin, but He NEVER sets us up to fail. He will not allow circumstances so that the ONLY option we have is to sin. God is loving and ALWAYS gives us an alternative to sin. We misquote this verse and use it to apply to hardships, sickness, and all sorts of troubles…which seems harmless enough. I find comfort in telling you “God won’t give you more than you can bear.” It helps me reassure myself that you are okay and not in need of my help. It’s not as comforting when you are on the receiving end of this platitude. In fact, it has caused me a great deal of grief. I remember thinking on more than one occasion, “Well, what is wrong with me then? I am fairly certain that this is more...

Under Attack?

This week, I have been thinking a lot about “The Battle.” I’m not sure that Christians take Satan’s attack on us seriously. The Bible refers to him as a prowling lion, looking for someone to devour. I recently discovered some interesting things about how lions hunt. Today, I want to share something that especially caught my attention, perhaps because this is something I can personally identify with…. Antelopes, while physically fast, are mentally not quite so sprightly and pay perhaps too little attention to learning from their mistakes. Sound like anyone you know? Sure does sound like me. In some areas, I am consistently strong and victorious, but in others…not so much. I read about a group of Thomson’s gazelles crossing a patch of thick bush in order to drink. That particular patch of bush was bristling with lions who instantly grabbed and ate one of the gazelles. The rest of the gazelles scattered to safety, but over the next few hours the same group of gazelles, having apparently forgotten the recent murder of one of their companions, tried not once, but twice, more to get to the water using the SAME route…with predictable results. Oh my goodness! How many times do I walk right into Satan’s traps? Much like those poor gazelles, I forget all too quickly that my enemy is lying in wait. Scripture warns us, even commands us, what to avoid. We all have that one sin that we love: that one thing that we don’t want to let go of. If we let our guard down, Satan doesn’t have to put forth much effort to ensnare us … he simply lures...

Dieting and My Christian Walk

Recently, my hubby said something in a sermon about people being willing to give God some of ourselves, maybe even most of ourselves, but until we give Him EVERY-thing, we won’t experience Christianity the way God intended. So I’m thinking to myself, “That’s sounds a lot like dieting.” (Probably because I would REALLY like a huge plate of nachos for lunch instead of the baked fish waiting on me.) The comparison occupied my mind for several days as I adjusted to my new diet. Each time I made a poor food choice, I was reminded how similar choices hinder my Christian walk. What if I eat mostly “allowed” foods, and give up all the “bad” foods except maybe one or two? Can’t I give up the extra pizza and sugary soft drinks with friends, but eat a pack of cookies in private? I mean, giving up MOST of the foods that make me fat counts for something, right? Surely giving up MOST every “forbidden” food allows me the right to a nightly bowl of vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate syrup and candy coated sprinkles. Of course not! I have to wonder why so many of us do the same with our Christian walk. We give up most everything, only holding on to those “little” vices that we “deserve.” Surely giving up most of our sinful desires counts for something. Giving up MOST of our “old life” gives us the right to hang on to one little part of it, doesn’t it? I can have all the tools to get healthy. I can join a gym, carry a gym pass on my key ring, pack my gym bag...

Little Things

  Tonight was one of “those” nights when everybody is ill and getting on everybody else’s nerves. I think I actually heard my little one say that her brother was breathing her air. It was more than I could stand. I thought I was going crazy, but just before I told my family that I was moving to Montana to grow Dental Floss Bushes, the Holy Spirit reminded me of something…. Trust that what Scripture says is true…like when it tells me:  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) Does this verse apply when my children are fighting over stuff that they don’t even care about? Does this apply when everyone gets on my nerves, when my feelings are hurt, or I’m misunderstood? Does it apply when I’m just grumpy? The verse doesn’t say “Pray about the big stuff.” It says to present EVERY situation to God. So, tonight I did. I ordered my two precious bundles of joy to get their bottoms over to the couch “Before I count to three”, threatened to sell them to the circus if they so much as THOUGHT of touching each other, promised to tape the mouth of the next one that spoke a word, and, with both of them staring at me with that “yep, she’s finally lost it” look in their eyes….I prayed. For their benefit, of course. I prayed because they need to know how to ask for forgiveness.  I wanted God to...

Lift your Staff

Throughout Scripture, we see God using people who have tragic beginnings to bring about His plans. I was recently reminded that God uses us in spite of  (or even because of) our pasts. You can find this story in the Book of Exodus, but the very short version goes something like this: Moses was born an Israelite, adopted by an Egyptian Princess, murdered an Egyptian who was abusing an Israelite, was exiled to live the end of his life as a shepherd. Then God called Moses to service. God chose Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Pharaoh realizes that he has freed his workforce, and sends all his armies after them. The Israelites find themselves trapped in the wilderness between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army and they cry out for help… Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.” Exodus 14:15-18 (NIV) If the rod Moses carried was his shepherd’s staff, and many believe it was, then it represented his failure, his exile, and his fall from “Prince of Egypt” to “shepherd”. Satan would love for us to believe that our past makes us weak and useless to God....

As we approach Sanctity of Life Week…

January 15-22 is National Sanctity of Life Week. There will be much talk of the staggering statistics of abortion, and they ARE staggering… Over 56 million babies have been aborted since Roe Vs Wade. Statistically, 1 in 3 women have had an abortion. If you are one of the “1 in 3,” this is for you. Let’s face it, if the ONLY thing you wanted to do was go back in time and make a different choice, you couldn’t. Abortion is a permanent answer to a temporary situation that leaves you with the aftermath of a choice that you should never have needed to make. The fact that you chose to have an abortion is terrible. Letting Satan use that choice to keep you in bondage to shame and guilt for the rest of your life is an absolute travesty, and because we DON’T discuss it, Satan is able to whisper terrible things to your already battered heart. The truth of the matter is, what happened was and remains terribly wrong. Even so, there IS hope. For the non-Christian struggling with the aftermath of abortion, please know this… Forgiveness is available to you. Healing is possible. You CAN be restored. Jesus died to pay the penalty for all our sin. That includes all sexual sin and abortion. Nothing you have done is beyond His power to forgive and nothing done to you is beyond His ability to heal and restore. If you are searching for “something” to fill the aching and longing in your restless soul, that “something” is Jesus. Only He can quiet the demons you face. For the Christian....

My prayer for you this Christmas

As I prepared to write about the joy of Christmas, I was reminded of how HARD Christmas can be. I want all the family together. I want to give amazing gifts. I want to prepare mouthwatering recipes that will be requested for years to come. I want…well, I want “perfect.” Thing is, life’s not perfect. Families certainly aren’t. As if a “perfect” family Christmas wasn’t enough of a challenge, there is so much to DO in December: Christmas plays and concerts, visiting Santa, Christmas shopping, Christmas parties, company dinners and Christmas parades. The list of things to do and places to be is endless. Now, add to ALL that the social stress that comes with living in a country where not everyone celebrates the birth of Jesus. Christians are offended when stores promote “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”  We remind everyone that CHRISTmas is about CHRIST, but do we really believe that? Have we bought into the world’s version of Christmas? I’m afraid we have. I think that we have made Christmas about family, Santa, gifts and feasts. I think that we celebrate Christmas just like “the world” does…. and, I think that is the real root of all the stress and anxiety we feel at Christmas. Maybe you’re thinking “Not me. I know that Christmas is about Jesus.” If you aren’t sure where you stand on this,  here are the questions I asked myself earlier this week: If there was no tree and no twinkling lights, would it still feel like Christmas? If there were no presents, would it still feel like Christmas? If there was no family, would it still feel like Christmas? If ALL you had was...

A Season of Joyful Thankfulness and Deep Gratitude

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) November comes with all sorts of opportunities to express thankfulness. The things at the top of my “Things I’m Thankful For” list are not surprising. They include salvation, family, friends, church, home, and career.  These have not changed in years and I doubt they will change in the future. However, the things further down my list have changed significantly as time has passed. For example, my parents’ divorce ranks high on the list now. For most of my life, I considered myself and my family  damaged beyond repair because my parents don’t love each other. Divorce broke our family. That is for certain. Divorce is NOT God’s plan…also for certain. Even so, I have grown to be thankful, not for my parents’ divorce, but for what God did in spite of it and through it and even because of it. He gave me two sets of parents who love me dearly and four sets of grandparents who do as well. He gave me siblings, nieces and nephews I’d not have otherwise. While my parents’ divorce is something that caused me pain for years, I eventually saw the blessings that God has given me because of it and, while I would love for my parents to have had  a “happily ever after,” I have become deeply grateful for the family I’ve been given as a result of their divorce. The deep gratitude I feel for my parents’ divorce is very different from the joy-filled thankfulness I feel for my family and friends....