Love & Forgiveness

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As we approach the rememberance day of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, let us concentrate on the unfathomable LOVE Jesus had for all people. Love which included even those who hated him, and permitted a cruel death of himself to set us free. The amount of love it took for Him to suffer through flogging, humiliation, nails driven through his hands and feet, and death by hanging on a cross for all to witness, is beyond the human comprehension. Think about Mary also, witnessing her son be beaten beyond recognition and dying like that. How would you react to your child being killed in such a manner, would you forgive? The agony and pain she must have endured, especially knowing who her son truly was, the anger Jesus could have felt, yet it was love He choose even in the moment of final pain. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” Luke 23:34

The Bible explains Jesus is our Bridegroom and the church is His bride. As we think about it, one must understand what love is according to Him because essentially Jesus is marrying the saints of the church, (us). Reading a group of related scriptures can open our eyes and reveal Gods truth to our hearts and minds. So I have put together a group of scriptures that hopefully will unveil the truth of what Love really means. It has been said that love is an intangible thing. However, love is very tangible in our actions, words, and how we live on a daily basis.

Psalm 143:8: “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”

Proverbs 3:3-4: “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”

1 John 4:16: “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”

1 Peter 4:8: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

John 15:12: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 16:14: “Do everything in love.”

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

“Love does not keep a score of wrongs. Love doesn’t bring up past failures. None of us are perfect. In marriage and our close relationships, we do not always do the best or right thing. We sometimes do and say hurtful things to one another. Once done, we cannot erase the past. However we can confess and admit our wrongs. We can ask for forgiveness and behave differently in the future. Once we have confessed our failure and asked forgiveness, we can do no more to mitigate the hurt it has caused another. When we have been wronged by another and asked to forgive them, we have two choices Justice or forgivensss. If we choose justice and seek revenge, we make ourselves the judge and the other person the felon. This choice will destroy the relationship and make an intimate relationship impossible. On the flipside, if we choose to forgive (as we have been forgiven by The Christ) the relationship will be restored and a intimate closeness can evolve.

It is amazing how many people mess up their lives with living and dwelling in yesterday. Too many insist on bringing into today the failures and hurts of yesterday. By reliving yesterday over and over again, today is polluted and ruins a perfectly wonderful day denying a fresh new start each morning. Statements like “I can’t believe you did that, I don’t think I will ever be able to forget it, You can’t possibly know how much you hurt me, I don’t know how you can sit there so smugly after you treated me that way, You should be on your knees begging me to forgive you, I don’t know if I can ever forgive you, destroy us from the inside out. These thoughts and words are not of love and forgiveness, but indicate bitterness, resentment and justice. The best action we can take with the failures of our past and the hurts we have endured is to let them be history. Yes it happened, yes it hurt, and may even still linger. We cannot erase the events of yesterday, But we can accept it as history and choose to live life today free from the failures and hurts of the past, to move forward instead of letting our yesterdays holds us hostage in each new day. Forgiveness is not a feeling, it is a committment to let go of our yesterdays hurts and failures. It is an expression of love choosing to forgive and build up instead of tearing down a relationship with unforgiveness.” [1Chapman, pg 47-48]

Let us love one another as God has loved us. God has already demonstrated His love and forgiveness for us by permitting His only Child to be murdered for our sins in a most horrible display of injustice. Going a step further He forgave the persecuters in a demonstration of real love. Can you imagine as a parent witnessing your child going through what Jesus did? And then forgiving them for it? Even in His last breaths Jesus asked for forgiveness for those who partook in his crucifixion. Luke 23:34 (NIV) 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do…”

There is a demonstration of love and forgiveness from God the Father and Jesus the Son in the crucifixion. Jesus asking God in the Garden of Gethsame to take the cup from Him if possible and God reassuring Jesus He must go forward, and Jesus askling God to forgive His persecutors.

The last thought I want to mention about love is when we chose unforgiveness instead of love we are on very dangerous ground ourselves with God. Forgiveness by Love is so important to Him, He made it clear to His church, in Matthew 6:15 (NIV)15 “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

1-Chapman, Gary, The Five Love Languages, Book

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Faith’s Victory

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This morning as I was watching the last few minutes TV broadcast. The host was talking about faith without works is dead. It definitely was a “God thing” moment as it triggered my thoughts about the scripture in James in a different way.

Typically I correlate that passage with our faith being visible in our actions towards others. Which is a true fact; our actions should speak without words about who we are in Christ. However, there is another side of it. Faith in God is a cornerstone on which we build the foundation of our lives. We live in a way which reveals who we are in Christ. Yet when we come against a challenge or obstacle we can become so focused on it we forget the power of our faith can move mountains. We pray expecting God to move the mountain, forgetting He gave “us” the power in our faith to do it.

Even in the middle of a crisis or dilema, we can have thoughts and doubts, thinking maybe we misunderstood God’s direction or plan and we tread off course. We tend to think and believe if it is truly God’s will or plan, he will pave the way and we will not encounter hurdles which seem to deter or derail us completely. Even with fervent prayer the hurdles too often seem to continue to prevent our way from the finish line.

Let us think about it for a minute or two. We are on a journey doing God’s will and hit a wall; a big huge stone wall so hard we rethink  our situation and consider we took the wrong road at the intersection. But what about all our preparation prayers, our lifeline of awareness to the divine inner power? We sell ourselves short too often. We are stronger and wiser than we often realize. So what about our faith? If we truly have faith then our works cannot be stopped by any wall or obstacle. Our faith should be so powerful by the might of the Holy Spirit, that we jump those hurdles (like on a trackfield) and press on to the finish line. Real faith does not permit us to second guess our paths. God is with us all the time.  When we are in earnest prayer seeking His will we do not take the wrong crossroad. Instead we are on the exact path that is our correct journey. Many times those walls, bumps, hurdles are deliberate to test our faith and character making it even stronger than before.

God never gives up on us, even when we are ready to give up on ourselves or the path we are on. Faith rushes in when we allow the doorway to our hearts and mind to be open just for Him, even if it is only barely ajar. Our faith creates an atmosphere of hope that supernaturally draws us in the right direction to people, jobs, ideas, seed planting and whatever else is purposed for us. Our faith is our guiding light.

When all else seems to fail or be too difficult, dig deep and pull out of those crevices all the faith within you. Stand firm and tall in your faith. Perhaps this is the meanings of “Faith without works is dead.”   It is true our deeds reveals our faith, but going even a step further, let us allow our faith to rule and power through every obstacle and situation.  Not letting the hurdles and walls cause us to question why or to doubt our path. But, to instead use our faith as a ladder to walk right over those things of the enemy, intended to cause doubt and stop us from winning. Let us remember always that the battle has already been won, and we have the power by the Holy Spirit to overcome any situation by the might of our faith.

Recommended reading entire chapter James 2

James 2:14 “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions?”

17 “So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.”

21 “Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see, his faith and his actions worked together.”

26 “Just as the body is dead without breath,[d] so also faith is dead without good works.”

Hebrews 11:1 ” Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (NIV)

Philippians 3:14 “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Proverbs 3:5 & 6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Deuteronomy 20:4 “For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”

1 John 5:4 “4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”

Miracles Happen

This is a true short story.
God answers all prayers, even those lifted up in the heat of a moment. God has answered so many of my prayers it would take all day to list them. But I want to share one in particular with you. It was mid-June, and the hot summer heat in Clarksville AR was reaching over 100 degrees.  My son Matt and I travelled toward California to his new Tech Grad program in Rancho Cucamonga. It was a tough time, it was 2009, and the previous year had nearly devasted my husband and I financially.
Matt and I were travelling on a very tiny budget from East Tennessee to California. On our journey as we crested the top of a steep hill the Blazer conked out completely. We are on the side of the road with engine hood up, Matt (just graduated from UTI Auto Tech Secondary School) was looking to see if he can fix it.  We were on our second day travelling and it was horribly hot.  Our budget did not include money for repairs let a lone towing.  We were stranded and out of options at that moment.  Desperate, I say outloud, God We Need A Miracle right now.
Within a few minutes a truck pulls up containing a husband and wife.  They say, “we passed you and felt like we were supposed to turn around and see if we can help.” My son and I are very skeptical of highway stalkers, looking at each other reading each other minds that this could be very dangerous.  However we were in such a desperate situation, we decided to accept their offer to sit inside the truck in the AC while we figure out what to do. As we craw into the back of the crewcab, the man gets on the cell and calls a towing company.  He arranges the tow of our vehicle back to the last exit where a motel was located.  He then offers to drive us there while our blazer was in transit there.
We arrive safely and the tow cost $100… money we really didnt have to spend because it would cut the budget too short to get to california. The hotel discounted our room 🙂 . The man and woman tell us they got a room for the night too. With Stalker thoughts in our minds we are again weary. Matt and I discuss the crazy fact of who picks up strangers takes them to a hotel and gets a room beside them?  Stalkers thats who!  The man knocks on our room door and offers to drive Matt to the nearest store to buy some parts to try to fix the vehicle, Ugh more money.   As they went in search of a parts store, I was left with the mans wife.  She tells me about her spiritual journey and I was very touched and let down my guard a little more with her open candor.
The men arrive back with a few things the man paid for and my son tries to fix the car without a positive result.  Meanwhile, I have been in touch with my husband during the whole time.  I call him again and tell him we are stranded and Matt cannot fix the blazer here.  My husband prepares to make the 10-12 hour drive to where we are and swap vehicles for us to finish our journey to California. That same night the couple knocked on our door and invited us to dinner, we agreed. We arrived at a Mexican Style Restaurant and ate very good.  I went to pay for our portion of the food and the waiter tells me no charge, the man I’m with took care of it. Looking back at our table and the strangers smile, I am speechless. The evening was filled with good conversation that continued even after we travelled back to the motel. At the end of the evening the man came to me and hands me $100. saying its not a loan, I know you could’nt afford that tow bill, hopefully this will get you to California, your son is quite a wonderful young man. Shocked at the generosity of this man, I didn’t know whether to accept the gift or not.  At that moment I recalled my open prayer for a miracle just earlier that day.  I asked him why did he do all this for us? We are complete strangers to each other. He simply said he had done this before, when he gets the feeling someone really needs help he answers. He told me of other stories where he and his wife had helped others.
Matt and I went to sleep that night exhausted, but our bellies were full and we were safe in a cozy bed.  We woke up early the next morning and went to the couple’s room hoping to share the continential breakfast with them. They were gone. We never saw them again, although I did call a few times to report Matts progress at the Grad program and to thank them for their generosity and answer to God’s prompting.  We lost touch soon after unfortunately.
God answered my request for a miracle that day and I will never forget it. Miracles happen everyday all around us, God answers prayers in so many ways, we just need to keep our eyes open a little bit more to see them.

HANDS OF WISDOM

Hands! I love the hands of a wise woman.  She is elderly in years yet has the wisdom young can only hope for.  Her experiences are broad and humbling, yet to be discovered by her juniors. Her gray hair glistens in the sunlight yet pales in comparison to the exquiste beauty within her precious hands.  There is great value in those soft aging hands of our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Oh! the babies those hands have rocked gently to sleep, the endless hours of diligently snapping green beans on hot summer days, carefully hand mending clothes, bandaging boo-boos, gentle weeping over things she wishes she could have prevented. And most of all the endless hours on her worn knees with folded hands in prayer to the Father asking for provision, love and protection for her children and family.  Her hands with every wrinkle, crease, age spot and scar reveal the real story of life without ever saying a single word.

 

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THE POWER OF PRAYER

This blog is from a term paper I wrote a few years back.  I enjoyed writing it so much I thought it would make good reading for a blog.

 
May 4, 2015

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How many times have we said or heard the phrase “Well, all we can do is pray about it.”  What!  Did I just say that or hear someone make that statement?  What foolishness we speak and forget the true greatness which is manifested through sincere prayer.  Prayer is a gift from God; it is communication with our creator.  Our prayers can move mountains, it can make or stop things from occurring, and it can provide, heal and change hearts.  At bedtime, in the quiet huddles at a hospital, through email and Facebook posts, in fasting and church services, prayer is at the heart of each of these and in unlimited access to the Father.  Many times we put limitations on what we allow God to help us with and we try to carry too much of the load ourselves.  Our silly phrases can lend to serious foolishness, our words matter much.  Prayer is a powerful expression that can even be a resolve to life or death situations.

 

So what is prayer and what does it do?  Whenever a person goes into prayer, the forces of heaven are released and the same power that freed Jesus from the grave becomes available to us only by the Father.  The limitations of what he is willing to do for us are those we impose ourselves.  In prayer, the Holy Spirit intercedes and raises each of our petitions to the Father, made possible by the sacrificial blood of Jesus on the cross.  This is confirmed in Romans 8:27, “And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” (NIV)  Magnificent and mysterious things happen through prayer.

 

It is through prayer we are renewed by the Holy Spirit daily and we are redeemed in salvation.  Comfort and love fill the air space we inhabit when we pray, our souls are soothed.  God’s warm love is exhibited during prayer time and envelopes the worshipper, his presence is great and wondrous.  During these precious moments we are alone with Him, he hears our voice and we know him.   We become conscious of the fruits of the Spirit in earnest prayer seeking, Galatians 5:22 &23      “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”       Prayer defeats the enemy as stated in 2 Chronicles 20:2-25.  Praying is life sustaining and keeps the church alive in unity, as is exampled in Acts 4:24-33.  Praying honors God and is an important part of all Ministry; 1 Kings 18:24-39 and Ephesians 6:18. [Morris: pgs 4 &5]

As we can see, prayer is a critical daily element to life itself.  It accomplishes more than we can imagine.  For these reasons among many others, we also need to understand how to approach The Father in prayer.  “God rewards the Believer who operates in faith, it pleases him.  It is important to come in faith, ask in faith and receive in faith.” [Morris: pg 7] People go without necessities because they do not ask God in prayer to provide for them.  We are told in 1 John 5:14 & 15 to make our requests known to God.  We are also reminded in James 4:2 that we do not have because either we failed to ask for it or we asked with the wrong intention at heart. “…You do not have, because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”  Another essential part of prayer is to always pray in the name of Jesus, as we are told to do in John 14:13.  When we go to the throne of the heavenly Father in prayer, we only have this privilege because of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross.  Therefore when we pray it must always be in the name of Jesus.  When we pray in this appropriate manner, God is glorified and responds to our prayers.  [Morris: pg 8]  Another part of prayer is physically how we approach the throne, or ‘positions of prayer’.  [Morris: pg 27]

 

There are at least 9 or more positions individuals use to pray.  Some of these include Lifting up our hands, bowing our faces to the ground and just before sleep in the bed.  Let us focus for a few minutes on my three most used positions of prayer, standing, kneeling and the position of my heart.  Often a big deal is made out of the way we pray by the church.  First let me remind you, God hears all prayers offered in the name of Jesus.  In fact there are at least 27 scriptures that reassure us he hears our prayers.  Some of my scripture favorites regarding the Father hearing us are Psalm 55:17, Matthew 7:7 & 8, Hebrews 11:6 and John 15:7.

 

When I go to prayer I typically begin in the standing position, with worship music on, my eyes closed, incense offered and often a candle lit to remind me of the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Everyone has their own way they offer prayer in their closet; I do not believe there is specifically a right or wrong way as long as the position of the heart is in right standing.  The right heart is being earnestly seeking God and His will for us.  James 4:3 & 4 clearly says, God knows our heart and motive for the things we seek in prayer, and it is imperative that it be pure.  “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

 

My prayer closet routine helps me lose focus on me and daily life things and solely reflect on God.  Some prayer closet actions may become habit and I believe that is fine as long as it leads your focus on God and not the rituals themselves.  After preparing my prayer room for worship, I stand and soak in the words of worship music and the soothing smell of incense.  I seek the comfort of the Holy Spirit.  As I move into that precious secret prayer place my next actions depend on the leading of the spirit.  I often sing praises, I always pray and most times end up on my knees for a while listening to what the Lord has to say to me.  “Solomon both stood and kneeled to pray and scripture tells us that Stephen and Jesus kneeled to pray.  Scriptures 1 Kings 8:54, Acts 7:60 and Luke 22:41” [Morris: pg 27] It really boils down to your heart and God and nothing else.  If the position of your heart is in the right place everything else is mute.  God is interested in our authentic worship and heartfelt faith, not whether we are standing or sitting, positions are the human way of honoring and glorifying God in prayer.

 

The types of biblical prayers used for specific desired outcomes are unlimited.  However let us focus on three kinds of prayers that are purposeful to all believers; Spiritual Warfare, Discouragement, and Knowing God’s Will. We will begin with Spiritual Warfare.  This is an aspect of prayer life too many Christians know little about or completely overlook.  To gain a better understanding of the magnitude of Spiritual Warfare a few facts are helpful to understand about Heaven.  Spiritual warfare is the largest topic of the three in my opinion.  One of my favorite books and author “War in Heaven” by Derek Prince explains the subject of Heaven and warfare very well.  Let us start by looking at 2nd Corinthians 12:2-4 in which Paul is speaking about visions and revelations from God.  In these passages he explains about a man he knew in the past who was caught up to the “Third Heaven”.  This clearly tells us there are three Heavens, the third being the place of God’s personal dwelling and the most sacred paradise.  The Greek word for paradise is ‘Paradeisos’ meaning garden.  God’s garden is in heaven and a second biblical reference to this can be found in Luke 23:43.  [Prince: pg 12]

The Book of Revelation briefly talks about the second or mid Heaven.  In both Revelation 14:6 and 19:17 references are made to an angel and birds in the midst of heaven or mid-heaven.  The Greek word used for mid-heaven is ‘mesouranema’ which means mid-heaven.  There are no specific references to the location of the first heaven so its location is not specifically known.  One of the many inhabitants of the heavens is angels.  There are two categories of angels those of God and those of Satan.  The Bible makes many references to the angels and the various purposes of them, such as in Matthew 18:10 Jesus speaks about the children who have angels.  Angels are mentioned as God’s messengers, God’s agents of protection and warrior angels, who engage in conflict with the opposing angels.  The third heaven God’s garden is said to be a peaceful place of beauty.  The mid-heaven is where angelic conflict and warfare occurs as Satan pours out slanderous accusations against Christians to God.  Revelation 12:10 tells of Satan being the accuser of our brethren before God.

 

What do the facts about heaven have to do with prayer?  The two go hand in hand with each other.  Human life has many conflicts, struggles and even war and it is the same with the Godly and demonic angels.  For the most part people accept conflict as an acceptable regular part of life.  But as noted in 2nd Corinthians 10:3-5 the conflict we accept are really to be battled by us spiritually with the tools God has provided for our benefit.      “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

 

Paul tells us the Christian war is different than what is seen with our eyes on a regular basis.  He tells us this is a spiritual war and our weapons to fight this war are not the same as those which our human soldiers use on the earthly battlefields.  They are something much more that comes from God and is very powerful.  Ephesians 6:12 specifically tells us that our battles are in the spiritual realm and not on the human level. Over and over again the Bible refers to our Lord who is mighty in battle.  The book of Ephesians provides us a detailed description of what our spiritual weapons are.  In Chapter six Paul tells us again that we do not struggle human against human, but against the powers of the dark world and against the forces of evil in heaven.  The spiritual weapons (armor) he speaks of is, salvation, truth, righteousness, faith, the biblical word and prayers (also in spirit).  There it is one of our main weapons to fight against the evil principalities is prayer.  The reality and situation we face as warriors in spiritual warfare is described well in the book of Daniel beginning in chapter 10.  There we find him fasting and praying for 21 days.  He was sad about the enslavement of his people and Daniel was seeking God’s help.  An archangel of God called Gabriel came to Daniel and made known to him that his prayer was heard by God on the very first day he prayed it.  When Daniel asked why it took 21 days for God to acknowledge, Gabriel explained that it took that amount of time and help from another angel Michael, to battle past the prince of Persia.  Daniels persistence in prayer was the key, he helped the angels battle against Satan through his prayer.

 

As we pray throughout the day, over food, and in our closets we are going to battle against evil principalities that hinder us.  As told in the book of Matthew, we have the power to bind these principalities and loosen its grip on us.  We need to be suited for spiritual prayer by putting on our armor; reading the Bible, walking out our salvation in righteousness and truth. Having unwavering faith and trusting him for everything and then there is prayer itself, the critical link of communication to the Father for life.      “The reality we must grasp in spiritual warfare prayer is that though Satan has been attached, overpowered, and stripped of his armor, he is still holding on to a lot of plunder that isn’t rightfully his.  Through warfare prayer we help others go in and get back the stuff in their lives that Jesus secured for His own purposes through his death and resurrection.” [Rhodes:  Pg 111]

 

Sometimes it may seem like our prayers are not being heard or answered and we begin to doubt and become discouraged.  I think this happens often because we do not understand the second half of the statement, ‘God answers prayers.’  Yes he does, but the second part is; we have accountability and there are hindrances to answered prayer.  When we pray, are we asking for selfish reasons (Psalm 66:18), is there any unbelief within us (James 1:5-7) are our motives from the right place, do we abide in Him, do we have any idols in our life, do we believe God’s rewards and answers, is there any un-forgiveness in us?  God is very specific about un-forgiveness (Mark 11:24-26) within us, this is a critical part of our walk.  God has said if we do not forgive others, he will not forgive us.  If you feel like God is not hearing your requests, the answer could be pending until these reasons are all in balance.  [Morris: pgs 12 &13]

 

Overcoming discouragement can be very difficult if we are not in regular prayer time with God and using our spiritual weapons daily.  Depending on the root of our discouragement being experienced will determine how quickly you recognize it for what it is and take victory over it.  Sometimes discouragement is because you have been waiting for a long time for answered prayer or it could be a battle of depression, feeling of inadequacy or other areas of exposed weakness.   We are not alone.  Even Moses felt discouraged at times and complained to God (Exodus 5:22, 23).  But he did it with an attitude of integrity and humility. [Copeland: pg 150] We can feel like it is inappropriate to approach God with these types of things, but the truth is He already knows.  If we attempt to cover up our discouragement we cannot get past it and we are not being truthful.  Remember that Truth is one of our spiritual armor items.  When we become discouraged this is the time to turn to the Father even more.  We also need to check ourselves to see if we have lapsed or failed to follow God’s direction along the way.  Even in times of discouragement sincere prayer is still the battle key to our freedom.

 

In times of discouragement we need to have some scriptures hidden deep within our memory bank to pull out and use.  God wants to help us, he wants to adhere to his word and perform it (Jer. 1:12). [Copeland: pg 151]  We should not become discouraged if we are enduring trials, James 1:2, 3 says we are to be joyful when we encounter trials, because they are proving our faith and will complete patience.  It goes on to say that once patience has had her perfect work, we will become developed and lack nothing.  This promise alone should make us want to be patient and not be discouraged, however in the middle of it sometimes we cannot see what is right in front of us.

 

Wisdom and God’s will is something we can never have enough of when applied appropriately.  The saying that comes to mind is; ‘I wish I knew back then what I know today.’  I have said this so many times, but the truth is some of that wisdom I wished for could have been possible through Bible study.  We cheat ourselves out of this important element called wisdom, when it is available to us just by studying the Bible.  Now that does not mean we could know all of what we do today back then, because of life experience.  It is true that we have trials and experiences that teach us as we go through life and it is improbable to expect that as a youngster.  However the wealth of wisdom found in the scriptures, can make life easier and it is available to us even as young children.  All we have to do is read, study and then apply it.  God’s will is also explicit in the Bible and available to us from childhood until life ends.

 

God’s will for us is twofold.  There are things he wants for each and every one of us and there are individual specific things he desires for us too.  For example, it is God’s will that sinners are saved according to Romans 10:8-11.  It is his will to heal the sick (Exodus 23:25) and prosper us (3 John 1:2).  God also wills us to walk in the Spirit (Romans 8:1, 4) and to walk worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1). [Morris: Pg 19].  We should desire to do God’s will, and trust his will to be the perfect thing for our life.  His will is designed to complete us and bring joy with purpose.  We should pray in a way that honors God and requests to know what his will for us is.  A way to ask God to show us his will is: “Father, I ask you to fill me with a knowledge of Your will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives so that I will live a life worthy of You, Lord, and please You in every way.  Let my life bear fruit in every good work, as I grow in the knowledge of God.” [Copeland: pg 189]

 

Prayer builds dreams and yours is in the process right now if you have been spending time with God in prayer.  We are called to make the most of each and every day while we wait patiently for our journey to be complete and prayers answered in God’s timing.  Only he knows when the perfect time for answering our prayers is.  We are to honor God by trusting him and following his lead.  We have no way of knowing exactly when our answers will come, but we can take solace in being assured he answers all of our prayers exactly at the right time.  Impatience with God breeds frustration and moves us into a place of instability.  “Be generous with patience, give it away freely to yourself and others.” [Meyers: pg 38]

 

Christians are Intercessors.  When God saved us he filled us with the life of Christ who is always interceding.  And through our propensity to identify with another’s pain or pray on their behalf out of love and compassion, intercession occurs and is every believer’s call and destiny.  When it comes to prayer there are no chosen few.  We are all called to pray, whether it is for spiritual warfare, wisdom, encouragement or for one another.  Prayer is not a request of God, it is a requirement and expected from each of us.  Prayer is for our own beneficial good and we are wise to obey.  [Donihue: Pg13]

 

RESOURCES:

Bible, King James Version:  Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1970, Book

Bible, New International Version: The Knowing Jesus Study Bible, Zondervan, 1999, Book

Bible, Good News Bible Today’s English Version: American Bible Society, 1993, Book

Bill Morris Ministries, Inc.: Syllabus, Prayer – TH 408

Copeland, Germaine, Prayers that avail much:  Harrison House LLC, 2012, Book

Meyers, Joyce, When God When:  Warner Books Inc., 1994. Book

Donihue, Anita Corrine, When I’m On My Knees: Barbour Publishing Inc., 1997, Book

Prince, Derek, War in Heaven: Chosen Books, 2003, Book

 

Foster Parenting & Adoption

I am beginning a new blog on foster parenting and adoption through fostering.  I’ve now been a foster parent going on three years.  The journey began with the intent to adopt a very nice teenage boy with some special needs.  My storyline is based on Tennessee Law and each state has different rules and policies which could make your experience diffent.  This story will be an ongoing part of my blog with periodic updates on progress until the story reaches a good stopping point.

Its important that you the reader understand I am a 50 something married woman with two grown children and one grandchild.  This fact is very relative to this story.  Age has a lot to do with many things eventhough the younger we are the more we deny this truth.  It all began one late night when I could not sleep.  I often transfer from my bed to the sofa, because the transition tricks my mind into thinking I am now more comfortable and can sleep.  It was late October and a chill was in the air.  I snuggled under the blanket on the soft sofa and fell fast asleep.  I am a night dreamer and I believe often (not always) dreams tell us many things, including messages from the heavens. This particular night I had a very vivid dream.  In fact to this day I am not sure if I was dreaming or it was reality.  Nonetheless to me it was a real event.

I recall sitting on the sofa and Jesus sitting beside me.  I dont remember seeing His face or anything, I just knew it was Him.  Quietly He said to me I should adopt a child.  I replied to Him that I was fine with that but He would have to convince my husband this is something we should do.  I did not believe my husband would agree due to our age and the point we were at in life.  In the morning when I woke up I began the normal early routine of fixing coffee and getting ready for work.  As I went about preparing for the day I temporarily forgot about the vision until…there it was forefront in my mind to where I could think of nothing else. This is how my journey as a foster parent began.

I briefly mentioned the vision to my husband and his reaction was what I expected, he likes things as they are currently.  Just the two of us, quiet and no drama, but he agreed to think about my request to make an inquiry.  The next morning I asked him again and he reluctantly agreed to making an inquiry for adoption.  That morning I got online and was directed to the adoptuskids.org website.  It was such a strange feeling seeing all these children listed like the pets at the local shelter.  The listings were complete with pictures and descriptions of them and their hopes and dreams for the future.  It was heartwrenching and felt so wrong to pick a child like this.  But I read through them all several times and one teen girl kept resurfacing in my mind, so I made the inquiry on the website.

The next morning I received a call from the website and was asked if my homestudy was complete?  Homestudy?  Whats that I asked, she said I had to go through an agency so my home could be verified that it was fit for adoption.  She then asked if I had completed the PATH classes yet?  Another unfamilar term for the me the newbee.  PATH?  She then explained we had to sign up for the classes before we did anything else and just to let me know the likelyhood of us adopting this girl wasnt very good because they (meaning Dept of Children Services in TN “DCS”) are really designed for Foster Care.  I was very disheartened and doubted that my vision was real.  I began to pray very hard and I asked God to confirm this direction so that I am sure this is what I am supposed to do.  I believed He would answer in a way I would understand whether I should push forward or not.

The following morning in early November I received another call from DCS in response to my inquiry.  I was a bit confused because I already had the call the previous day and I told the woman about the call and that I was dissueded from pursuing adoption.  She was upset that anyone would say that to me and stated the previous response must have misunderstood me.  She offered to go ahead and contact someone regarding the PATH classes for me and to get the ball rolling.  Thank you God for the firm confirmation.  I agreed to scheduling the classes and waited for the call.  I explained to my husband about the requirements and surprisingly enough to me he agreed.  The next day someone from a related agency contacted me and scheduled us to get started on the PATH training classes, and it just so happened they were starting in two weeks right around Thanksgiving.  Another confirmation from God in my mind.  Great we were now scheduled for the classes.  In the meantime I received another call from the “Placement Specialist” for the girl in my inquiry.  We talked a long time about what we needed to do to prepare for the possible adoption.  The Specialist was excited about the possibility of a permanent home for this child.

Fast forwarding to the month of January…

In January we finished taking the PATH classes to become a Foster Parent.  Both becoming a Foster Parent and the PATH classes are a requirement to adopt from the Adoptuskids.org .  We began planning a near future visit with the girl, all we had left to complete was the Home Study which we were told does not take very long.  The Homestudy is in reality the longest part of the process.  This is where you have tons of paperwork to complete with very personal questions about your family background, what kind of marriage do you have, what kind of marriage does/did your parents have, your relationship with your siblings, etc.  It also includes a home inspection that have many requirements, a background check, fingerprinting, and so on.

While we were waiting for the Home Study process to finish an unexpected problem developed with the girl.  Our faith is very real to us and my conviction that I was given this directive from above is unflappable.  Once of the reasons I felt so connected to this particular girl was she had written part of her story and said she wanted a christian home that would support her in faith.  I didnt feel like there were a lot of children that had been the horrific situation she had and still held on to her faith enough to make a christian home critera for placement.  At this time she lived in a foster home and had been there about a year.  The unexpected problem arose when she was asked to visit with us to see how each of us clicked together.  Faced with this she did not want to leave where she was.  I questioned the specialist then why would we force her, and was told the current Foster parents did not want to adopt her mostly because of her serious medical conditions and potential for extreme medical bills.  I also asked myself why would I want to take this on at this point in my life, but the answer was always the same, because I was sure this is what God wanted.  So we pushed forward to see if somehow we could ease her mind and set up the meeting.  Meanwhile our Homestudy is finished and it is now the end of February.  I remember the call well, the one where the specialist said the girls Foster Parents faced with adopting her or losing her is moving forward with the adoption.

At first I was heartbroken and I didnt understand why I had gone through all of this only to have it end this way.  But after some thoughtful prayer I realized this was the plan all a long for this particular girl.  If we had not pursued a possible adoption of her, the people she had called family for over a year would not have made the move to make her a permanent part of their family and this is what her heart truly wanted.  God used us to make this girls prayers become reality.  I am firmly satisfied with that.

So where do we go from here?  Was this child a help to progress to the one we are ultimately supposed to help?  Adopt?  One of the issues for my husband and I is we really do not want to be Foster Parents, our ultimate goal is adoption.  The main reason for wanting adoption over Fostering is the turmoil over separation of the kiddos as they come and go.  I am a sensitive loving soul, there is no such thing as staying detached for me.  I must love them all like my own, I cannot do any less and this sets me up for constant turmoil and heartache.  While I am more than willing to obey Gods plan, I can only take so much emotional upset before deep depression sets in.

The placement specialist contact me after a week or so and asks if I am interested in another child.  I had been praying and did not feel like my job was complete yet, and so I said yes.  I started scouring the pages of adoptuskids.org again waiting for one particular one to fill my heart.  At first it just didnt happen.  My husband and I did not want to take on a child that was too young.  We wanted to help the older ones that are harder to place, just like the girl.   There was one boy who’s eyes really kept pleading with me through the picture, but he was special needs and I was uneasy about it.  I inquired with the placement specialist about several others from the website and there was one possibility but she thought he was going to be testing the waters soon with a distant family member.  But she did have a young man that she thought would be a perfect fit, was I interested in some pictures?  Yes and there he was the boy with those eyes!!  We set up a first meeting we drove a long way to spend just a few hours with him.  He stole my heart all six foot three of him!!  Oh and that sweet smile it just melted me.  By April he had moved in with us.  In order to move forward with any adoption, each child must first be Fostered by you for a minimum of six months.  This young man was autistic and needed some special things such as education and proper ettiquette training.  We moved forward and all was very well for about three months.

I think it was mid June when he had his first extreme anger outburst at a local kids center we had him enrolled him.  When they called me I truly thought they were mistaken as I had not witnessed this side of him at all.  From there things went down hill, there were problems at home and school.  It wasnt working out and I wasnt equipped to change it.  I was heartbroken and so was he the day he left to return to his special residence school.  The boy and I had really bonded and it was terrible for both of us.  But due to his background he had extreme anxiety regarding men.  Eventhough we were going through a lot of family counselling together to try to fix it, the problems were getting worse not better.

After he left, about a month went by when he called me and asked if I minded if he continued to call me, of course I said he could call anytime I truly loved him.  This was about October sometime.  It was hard to believe that almost a year had gone by since we first answered this calling.  It was decided he would make a home visit for Christmas and we would see if things were now better since he had a lot of therapy and was now understanding the consequences his actions can have.

The Christmas Visit.