Faith · Prayer

Without a Thought

One of the most unsettling stories in the Bible, comes from the chapters 38 and 39 in the book of Isaiah.

In this historical account, King Hezekiah becomes very sick… to the point of death. In walks the great prophet Isaiah. He has no fancy message, no hopeful encouragement, he just states the word of the Lord: “Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”

I don’t know about you, but with Isaiah’s perfect track record, I would of wept in complete despair. For when the Lord speaks to Isaiah, those words are concrete.

He’s a prophet of God, tested and true.

I think it’s important here to note that a word from the Lord is true and final – however, God has given us a secret weapon that can change everything: Intercession.

He does this so that when we get a prophetic word, we do not need to sit in despair. We can DO something! We can turn to him and pray! In this sense, prophetic words are rarely concrete. In the hands of a prophet, God’s words are to be shared with others. But for the receiver of the words, they are to be brought to heartfelt prayer!!

Hezekiah does exactly this. He breaks down and prays; weeping and begging God to let him live, to not cut him down in the prime of his life. God hears him and listens.

Do we get this?!?

God hears him AND listens!!!

God gave the word, which was final: Death.

But then he saw his beloved child, weeping in despair, pleading for more time to serve him and God relents.

If this message doesn’t wake us up to prayer, I don’t know what will. Our prayers have the power to change our outcome.

How often do we do this? How little we take advantage of this precious gift!

King Hezekiah is healed! How I wish the story ended here!

After King Hezekiah gets better, the king of Babylon sends an envoy with gifts to celebrate Hezekiah’s recovery. Hezekiah shows them everything in his kingdom, all his possessions. We aren’t given a reason for this, but one would assume he did so out of pride. Then the prophet Isaiah asks about the envoy and specifically, what the king all showed them.

“Everything” is Hezekiah’s reply.

And Isaiah utters another prophecy: “Hear the word of the Lord Almighty: The time will surely come when everything in your palace… will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord Almighty. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood born to you, will be taken away and become eunuchs in the palace of the King of Babylon.”

And we collectively hold our breath, awaiting another impassioned prayer by the king who changed his own outcome. Surely, after seeing the Lord change what was to come over his own life, he will cry out on his knees for the future generations!

Here’s Hezekiah’s response: “ The word of the Lord you have spoken here is good.” For he thought, “there will be peace and security in my lifetime.”

My children… taken into captivity!!

The word of the Lord is “GOOD”?!?
Shackles on these precious ones…

“The word of the Lord is GOOD?!?”

If this is not the most disturbing display of selfishness, I don’t know what is!

Where is the desperation? Where is the man who reminded God of his promises? Who reminded God of his righteousness? Where is the repentance? Where is the humility that he had claimed he would live out for the rest of his days?

Silence.

Reminding me of my generation:

Hours pined away on social media and screens. We know how damaging these things are for our children. We know it already! Yet… “It’s the easy thing to do.”

“I can’t adult today.”

Five minute devotional books sold by the dozen because we “don’t have the time for long devotions” while we laughingly post on Facebook about our five hour Netflix binge and ask “Is there anything else to watch?!?”

Our generation, splurging on frivolous and unnecessary things: expensive outings, over priced coffees, beauty care and home decoré… all while adamantly claiming: “we barely make enough to scrape by.”

Trust me, North Americans, we simply do not know what these words mean!

Our government spending outrageously, knowingly, unsustainably. Obviously with no care at all for the future generations, because “We want to live prosperously NOW!”

“We deserve better.”

Without a thought for future generations. What a hauntingly disturbing response from a selfish generation in the midst of a pandemic.

Who knows what lies ahead? Who has the wisdom to discern the times?

I think we would do well to remember King Hezekiah. Do we only care about the here, the now? We may not have the future told to us, but we most definitely can get on our knees and change the course of it.

What are we waiting for?

Faith · Family · Parenting · Prayer

A Parents Call to Pray

I’ve been all over God’s word today… Deuteronomy, Psalms, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Proverbs… and you know what I see throughout it all? The same loving, gracious God, gently calling and beckoning his people to walk in his ways and teach his ways to the next generation.

And the realization hit me: I can teach my children, but it is God alone who can save their hearts.

God alone can grow the seeds that I’ve so earnestly planted. God alone can hold their hearts and win their love and devotion. This is why my prayers are so important. For what my teaching is powerless to do, my prayers CAN do! I don’t want God to just have their outward obedience! I want him to have their hearts to the very core!

Dear parent, do you feel helpless for where your family is at? Pray!

Do you feel like all your efforts in teaching your children were in vain? Pray!

Have your children rejected your teachings? Pray!

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise up early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat, for He grants sleep to those he love. Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in ones youth.”

Psalm 127:1-4

Surely the Lord answers our prayers in accordance with his will. And we know from scripture it is his will that NONE should perish, but that all will come to repentance.

Faith · Forgiveness · Freedom · Prayer · Reconcilliation

The Very Best Thing

I realize that I’ve had quite a few heavy posts lately and that usually reflects that I’ve had a hard month. It really had its ups and downs. But today I’m feeling truly blessed!

On Sunday, I went Prayer Summit at my church. If you’ve never hear of it, basically it’s a huge prayer meeting. I’m sure there are well over a thousand people attending from many different countries, languages, and denominations. I was just overjoyed to be a part of so many people worshipping together. And it’s times like those that I really get a different perspective.

I’m sure that if we had all come to search for something we disagreed on, we’d find as many opinions as there were people in the room. But we weren’t there to focus on those things. We were there because we agreed on ONE thing. The very best thing: Jesus. And the love that flows when we focus on worshipping Jesus together is unlike anything else.

Too often the body of Christ is so consumed trying to figure out how to all agree on everything that we really forget how much we have in common. Jesus! Our Hope, Our Life, Our Saviour, Our Righteousness, Our intercessor, Our friend!

And yet there’s this struggle among believers for unity. And I truly believe it’s because we talk too much and don’t worship enough! How can I tear down, gossip about, judge my fellow brothers and sisters if my eyes are on Christ? How dare I focus on the negative things in the very people Christ DIED for?!? How dare we fight over foolish controversies and ideas?!?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about ignoring or turning a blind eye to evil and injustice…but really, how easily am I willing to tear down a brother or sister in Christ?  Over political views? Over child rearing? Over fitness or eating habits? Over a wrong attitude they may have? I shamefully admit that all too often, I’ve been quick to point out the flaws in other people. But why? Why do we insist on turning on each other, rather than walking beside each other in humble love? Why do we insist on always being right? Why do we continue to think the worst of others? Should we not rather in holy fear focus our own imperfections and give others the benefit of the doubt? How often do we actually see what’s going on in their hearts anyway?

And here’s something remarkable: When we come together to worship, we suddenly don’t feel like those little things matter anymore. It is here we come and find peace. It is here we come to be made whole.

What is it about worship that binds us together? Why do I look over beside me and see a complete stranger worshiping and feel like I’m beside family?

When we worship it is actually an expression of our reverence for God. And when we stand before a Holy God it complete awe, suddenly we can’t help but begin to feel very small. So far are we all from God’s perfection that all our sins are comparatively equal. And then looking at this perfect Jesus, who lavished his great love on us, dying for us and continues to care for our needs so tenderly everyday, how can we say I’m not willing to love my brother? And it’s here where our differences don’t seem to be all that important any longer: All made in his image, all dearly loved by God.

And he says: “This is my command to you, that you love one another.” He doesn’t say just to love those nice to us, those who look like us, those who agree with us, those who smell nice, or who are fun to be around. Love one another. I’m pretty sure that means everybody.

And with all the hate in the world today, it’s especially important that we don’t follow those patterns. Please dear brothers and sisters, we have so many opportunities everyday to speak life or death to each other. Choose love.

There’s a song I used to sing in church. I wonder what would happen if we stopped just saying the words and started living them:

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah they’ll know we are Christians by our love

“If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” -Jesus Christ

 

Depression · Faith · Forgiveness · Freedom · Prayer

Finding Joy in Hardships

Joy is easy…when times are good. But what about those darkest of times… those days, weeks, months or  even years where you find that everything you dreamed of comes crashing in?

These past few years have been the hardest years of my life.

Now if you know my story, that’s probably a bit hard to believe. But what about your teenage pregnancy?? What about the loneliness of losing all of your high school friends as they went on with their lives without you? What about the months you watched your son suffering in the hospital, wondering if he was going to live to see his first birthday? What about the time where your spouse lost his job and you had no idea how you were going to feed the three young babies depending on you? Harder than those days? Yes. A hundred times…yes.

It hasn’t been the outward kind of hard, where everyone can see what’s going on and rushes in to help. Our health is great, our finances have been good, our marriage is doing well. These are things we so often take for granted until they’re gone. Losing a loved one, failing health, money struggles, or having a rough marriage bring very dark times as well. But these aren’t the type of hardships I’ve faced this past year.

I was quite suddenly faced with a totally unexpected confrontation, during a very difficult season of my life. This brought about a dark feeling of rejection that I can’t, try as I may, find the words to explain. Maybe it’s hard to explain because I’m not free to tell the whole story… just vague little pieces to protect those involved. I think only those who have felt so hurtfully accused, deeply rejected and so utterly confused as to WHY, could fully understand what I’m talking about. But the hardest thing wasn’t that it happened…it’s that was happening for over a year. For months, I went to bed almost every night with my pillow soaked in tears, wondering if I would ever again lie down with peace in my heart. And for the most part, I carried these burdens alone – desperate to talk to someone, anyone who would listen…but my heart was torn because it involved those I loved SO dearly, so I kept silent.

My life, to the very core, was being shaken. At one point I truly believed that I had lost the favour of God on my life. I began to do everything I thought I could do to win his favour back. I tried so hard to admit all my faults, to confess and confess and confess, to not be defensive, to take the blame, to restore the peace…and through it all, I began to let go of something very important; my joy.

My joy was gone. Somewhere along the way, my eyes had turned from looking at Jesus and I began to focus on the problem. Like Peter among the waves, I had stepped out of the boat in full confidence; only to lose sight of the fact that I was never meant to walk on water…I was simply supposed to look at Jesus. When I realized this, healing could begin.

Here I was faced with one of the most difficult questions to ask during a trial: How can something like joy be found again…even if your circumstances haven’t changed?

The first step was to recognize the devil’s lies. I realized that I can’t do works to earn God’s favour. Period. God’s children receive his favour as they look to him. And when we have our eyes on him, he loves to pour out his favour.

I also had to let go of the way I wanted things to turn out. I felt that if I just did my very best, if I prayed hard enough…then God would make things better. As it turns out, God never promises to make the road easy or better. He does promise to work everything for the good of those who love him. And I needed to trust this promise. As soon as I was free from focusing on my problem, I could fully turn my attention to pleasing God.  Then and only then, could I follow the steps HE wanted me to take.

The final piece in my journey to rediscovering joy was found in the book of Philippians. If you haven’t read it before, or even if it’s been a while, read it. It’s a true gem. Here is a book written by a man almost 2000 years ago, who had been through so many trials. At the time he wrote it, Paul was in prison, facing a very lonely future, a trial which could’ve led to his death, and hearing of people against him actually preaching – all while he sits under house arrest. Despite all this, the letter is one of the most joyful and thankful books of the bible. Instead of complaining about the negatives events that surround his current circumstances he chooses to see the positive side of things. He also shares two secrets about finding joy and peace that I began to cling to:

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace…” Philippians 4:6-7

Pray. That much I had done. Telling God what I need. Check! Thank him. Thank him! Thankfulness is part of the secret to having the peace of God in your heart. And I began to thank God, even in my pain. Declaring his goodness out loud is SO POWERFUL! As I began to thank God, day after day, I slowly started to see some good things that had come out of my situation. And then, the final secret to joy:

“…I have learnt the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13

I can have joy because he gives me strength.  

This realization, that God wasn’t just watching me suffer from the sidelines – but actively walking through the fire with me and holding me up, brought me great joy! Every painful moment, he was there. Every night I cried, he was holding me. And in my weakness he is beside me, giving me strength. I am not alone. Now that is a reason to have great joy!

“In your presence is fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11