Monthly Archives: August 2015

Planted by the River

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God spoke to me this morning—and, ironically, He used Facebook! Prayer Tree in EthiopiaNow, I don’t recommend starting off the day with Facebook, but that’s exactly what I did this morning; and it just goes to show that God can use any means He wants to get our attention.

What caught my eye this morning was a post from a friend who… well, you should read it in her own words:

Saturday night I was baking cookies for my boys when I burnt my hand badly. Brian came home from a work-trip at midnight and we were in the ER until 8:30 the following morning. My hand was so badly burned and swelling that they cut my wedding ring off and recommended that I see a plastic surgeon asap.

Twenty-four hours later, after a horrible reaction to the pain meds including multiple rounds of vomitting, I called the plastic-surgeon’s office. And, I cut off the bandage on my hand. Despite not being able to keep down any pain meds, I had NO PAIN and MY HAND WAS HEALED.

Later Monday, I was in the plastic surgeon’s office, reviewing pictures from the ER and said “I think maybe I’m here to encourage you…”

The doctor, a beautiful asian woman, Harvard Med School Grad, former Johns Hopkins Resident said, “Yes, actually, I’ve been really sad because my son is leaving for college. I could use some comfort!”

“Well, God is a God of comfort! I’m so thankful that he’s gifted you to be a healer for many! That’s just incredible!” I said.

She replied, “Well, thank you!”

Then I said, “I don’t normally do this but… can I pray for you?”

She said yes.

So I prayed, “Lord, you’ve known this doctor and watched over her all the days of her life and you have a plan for her future! I pray that she will experience your comfort like the arms of a kind, strong husband around her. I thank you for equipping her to help kids and grown ups heal from horrible scars, allowing them to be accepted in our culture. Lord, you know that it’s not what’s on the outside that matters to you. Thank you for helping others heal with this lady’s help from scars and may they heal from the inside out…”

I explained that praying is turning to God. That she could turn to God in prayer for comfort at any time.

The doctor said she had chills while I prayed.

It’s two days later and my hand looks perfectly healed. No pain.

Did I mention that my mom, sons and husband prayed for my healing? Because they did!

I shouldn’t be surprised that God still answers prayers like that, or that He heals people like that, but I confess: I am. But I’m also encouraged. And I needed that reminder of God’s sovereignty and His care for us.

But God didn’t use just my friend’s words this morning; He also spoke to me from His own Word. I’ve been slowly making my way through the book of Jeremiah recently and after closing down Facebook, I read these words in chapter 17:

The man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence indeed is the LORD, is blessed. He will be like a tree planted by water; it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit. (verses 7-8)

Then this, in verses 14-15 (which hit me especially hard after reading my friend’s story!):

Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed; save me, and I will be saved, for You are my praise.

My prayer for today: Healing, Sovereign Father, help me to trust you today. Refresh me from the streams of Your grace. Sustain me in the time of drought. Free me from worry and keep me producing fruit. Heal me; save me, for You are my praise. Amen and amen.

What I Want for the Church

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As I have searched for a Lead Pastor role, I have been asked a lot of different questions. One of the best was this one: In what area or areas are you passionate about seeing the American church change or move forward?

I am passionate about seeing the American church grow in health, unity, and mission.

Health is primarily a local church issue. Unhealthy churches cannot produce healthy fruit (see Matthew 7:17-18). For a church to be healthy, it must have a healthy pastor and healthy leaders. This doesn’t mean everyone in the church needs to be healthy, for as Jesus also said, “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” But for the church to be effective, the church itself must be healthy.

Unity is one health factor at the local level. There must be unity among the leaders, and the congregation must be united behind them. But unity is also needed across the spectrum of Christian faith: local churches need to unite to impact their communities; denominations and other regional and national church associations need to unite to impact their regions, the nation, and the world. A divided church at any level will not accomplish the world-transforming mission of God.

Mission is possible when churches are healthy and united. The mission of the Church—stated even more simply than “make disciples of all peoples”—is to Love God and Love People. This mission is lived out both locally in our communities and globally as we partner with, serve, and learn from the church in other parts of the world.

Why am I passionate about this? Because I have felt and seen the great pain caused by the American church. I am passionate because for too long, the American church has been marked by division and a separatist attitude that have increasingly driven people away from Jesus more than drawn them to Him. We have complained about our nation’s moral nosedive but have been helpless to stop it—not because we have been unable to elect Christ-following political leaders (see Jeremiah 17:5), but because we have not loved our neighbors. When the American church recognizes and acknowledges its own sickness, it can take the steps needed to get healthy; and when the church gets healthy, we will be able to unite behind God’s mission…enabling a far greater Kingdom impact on our nation and the world.