I know everyone is quite busy this time of year. I have a long list of “to do’s” myself. But I wanted to take a moment to share a quick message, and a prayer.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Christmas and the real Spirit behind it. Yesterday we were asked, “What gift would you give to God”? It is His birthday being celebrated after all. But from everything I have learned over all these years, I know that the one gift He desires most of all, is my heart.
Sometimes my mind becomes very distracted with the details and demands of everyday life, and I lose my focus on what really matters…God, my family and friends, and doing what I can to be a blessing to others.
So I want to take this time to tell all of you…you are the gifts that I treasure most in this world. Thank you for the time and the love you have given me. I wish you all the very best blessings of peace, love and joy to fill your hearts in the days ahead. Merry Christmas to all, and Happy Birthday Jesus!
A Thanksgiving Day Message
There are so many reasons I have to be thankful for, I couldn’t possibly list them all here. But as I’ve been thinking about those reasons, I realized that I could summarize them all with this:
I am thankful for being loved, and for the ability to give love!
God’s love is the greatest gift of all. It is the beginning of and the reason for all the blessings we receive, including life itself. And because His love is so great, it cannot be contained in one heart alone. It grows, and then we can share it.
So I want to take the time to say THANK YOU to God, for the gift of love! And THANK YOU to all of my family, friends and neighbors, for sharing your love!
As we celebrate this Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, I pray that every heart on earth be filled with such love and joy, that the whole earth sings a song of praise and thanks.
Always remember, God loves you, and that is worth being thankful for.
Have you ever had one of those moments when the phone rings and on the other end is someone in desperate need of consoling? You know, like a family member or friend with a shocking message of being diagnosed with cancer or some other terminal illness, or news of a horrible accident with a seemingly hopeless outcome? Perhaps you, yourself, have had a frightening diagnosis, injury, or circumstance.
Needless to say, it’s not an easy situation to respond to. It is usually uncomfortable, because most of us immediately feel incapable of doing anything useful, no matter how much we may want to help.
Many times over the years I’ve been asked to pray for someone. And I always did. But for a long time, my prayers were more in the form of begging God to “please help”, and I’m not really sure that there was much faith in my heart that God was even listening.
As I studied the bible more, my relationship with God began to change. I started to trust in Him more, even though I couldn’t always understand everything. And my faith grew stronger. This had an impact on my prayers as well. I stopped begging, and started believing. I started believing in the power of prayer, and I started believing in miracles.
Now I need to explain something here. For over half of my life, I lived apart from God. I knew a little about God when I was young, and I had a little bit of faith. But after praying for healing for my grandmother (in my begging and unbelieving way), she died the very next day. And I lost my faith, not understanding, and I chose to turn my back on God. But, thankfully, He didn’t turn His back on me. I won’t go into all the details, but over time, God continued to speak to my heart, calling me back to Him.
I want to share a few scriptures that have had a very strong impact in my faith since then.
The first one, “Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths”. (Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP) From these verses, I began to learn more about trust, which is an issue I have always had struggles with. I finally understood, there will always be people that will mislead, deceive, and disappoint me, but God is ALWAYS faithful.
The second verse is, “Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]”. (Romans 12:2 AMP) After living apart from God for so long, it took a while for me to understand that there were many “worldly” influences that had filled my heart and my head, lying to me about who God is, and limiting my faith in Him. But this verse taught me that I need to ignore what the world says and does, and to constantly renew and refresh my spirit in God through prayer and reading His word. And having a pastor that is dedicated to teaching and preaching God’s truth has been not only helpful to me, but necessary.
The third verse, and perhaps the hardest for me to grasp was “Jesus glanced around at them and said, With men [it is] impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God”. (Mark 10:27 AMP) To fully understand this verse, I had to go back to the beginning, to how God created everything. I had to try to picture it in my mind, to imagine such an awesome power. And I had to choose to believe it in my heart, which caused me to feel very humbled by His majesty.
As I said earlier, I now believe in the power of prayers, and I believe in miracles. Not only because of the stories told in the bible, but because I have witnessed them personally.
Many of you may have read my book, “Faith, Hope & Miracles”, where I shared the miracle of what happened to my youngest son when he was killed in an accident, and then brought back to life and fully healed. As thousands of people were praying for a miracle for us, the doctors said there was no hope for my son’s survival, let alone recovery. But when an 8 year old boy comes back to life and tells you what it was like to sit on Jesus’ lap in heaven, things change!
That was a few years ago. More recently, I received a call asking for prayers for a 1 year old girl that had been diagnosed with the probability of leukemia. The first blood test indicated a very low white blood cell count. A second test was done a few days later, and the results were much worse. So a bone marrow biopsy was requested. In the meantime, a network of thousands began praying for this little girl and her family. Before performing the biopsy, a third blood test was ordered. This test came back perfectly normal, no indication of leukemia was found!
At the same time, many of us were also praying for a woman with issues regarding her uterus. At first, x-rays showed a couple of “spots”, so more tests were ordered. These spots were found to be 2 medium sized cysts. Further tests a short time later using a microscopic camera revealed that the cysts had grown to large fibroid tumors. This woman went in for surgery last Monday to have the tumors removed, but the tumors had just disappeared!
There were no medical explanations for how these three individuals were healed. But the bible gives a perfectly clear explanation…Divine Intervention.
I have personally witnessed many other miracles aside from physical ailments. There have been financial matters, legal troubles, marital and relationship struggles, all with seemingly impossible odds. Some have been resolved instantly, others over time. But in all circumstances, there was prayer and faith.
There is one thing that I must make perfectly clear, in order to prevent any misunderstanding. God does indeed perform miracles, and they are all around us, every day. But we must remember and understand, He is God, holy and righteous and all powerful. He is not a “genie at our command” that grants our every request. This is what I did not understand when my grandmother died. Sometimes we do not get what we ask for. God does things according to His ways, and in His timing. Though I cannot explain the ways and the whys of God, I can say with all confidence and certainty that He knows what He is doing, and it is all good. His timing is always perfect, and He is always faithful. We can and should trust in Him completely!
One mistake that is often made is the “I’ll give Him a try and see what happens” kind of attitude. If the wish is not granted as soon as asked, then we say there is no God, or He doesn’t listen. It is the perfect excuse to give up on Him.
I admit freely, it is not always easy to believe and have faith. In fact, sometimes it is downright hard! But it’s not about getting everything we want. It’s about knowing that there is One that loves us so much and wants for us to be with Him for all eternity. It’s about knowing that we don’t deserve to be in His presence, and there is nothing we can do to earn the privilege, but that by His mighty love for us, He provided a way for us, through repentance, baptism and receiving the gift of His Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). We can choose to live with Him, on purpose, following in His ways.
We all have a choice. We can be like the world, unbelieving, scoffing at, mocking and rejecting what the bible says. Or we can choose to believe what the bible says, believing in the power of pray, trusting in His answer, knowing Jesus is the one true God, and we can choose to believe in miracles. What do you believe?
I recently came across an article titled “6 Things About Chronic Pain You Didn’t Know You Knew“. While reading I thought, “This is a fairly accurate description of my life for the past 12 years”.
I have 4 different types of arthritis: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, fibromyalgia and several old injuries from indiscretions of youth, including a few spinal injuries. On a scale of 1 – 10 with 10 being the highest, my average daily pain level is between 3 – 4. Then there are times like this past week after my back went out again, the pain jumps up to 15+.
Trips to the ER bring cocktails of morphine and valium which zonk me out for a day or 2, and usually makes me sick. Chiropractors won’t touch me anymore because of the degeneration of my spine, and the latest physicians recommended surgeries only give a 40% chance of success.
So I use exercise, diet, homeopathic and herbal remedies of every kind, along with massage and pain pills, hot and cold packs, and rest. But mostly, I pray.
I pray for strength, healing, courage, and determination. I pray for a cure, to end the suffering. I pray for miracles, and I give praise and thanks for the good days and the mobility I have left. I also ask to be used as a blessing to others, in sharing hope and encouragement. That’s one of the main reasons I created this blog.
When my lower back went out last week, it caused immediate waves of intense pain which dropped me to my knees. I knew what was coming next, as I’ve been through this before. The spasms started just above my left hip and radiated in every direction from there, with the muscles playing a sort of tug-of-war with my spine. As I started to feel somewhat dizzy and sick, I cried out and began to pray.
In times of intense pain, I’ve noticed my prayers also become intense. In between the short gasps for air were short cries of “Dear Jesus”, “please, no”, and “help me”.
Eventually, with the help of my 11 year old son and a cane, I was able to get to my recliner and got seated. After getting an ice pack on my spine and taking a muscle relaxer and pain pill, I cried. And I prayed hard. Once the valium took effect, I drifted off to sleep for about an hour.
In the past when my back has gone out like this, after about 3 days it starts feeling a little better. This time was different. For one thing, there was some slight paralysis in my legs. And the muscle spasms were pretty constant, continuing to cause waves of pain through my spine, hips and legs.
Since I had run out of muscle relaxers and the only pain pills I had left were ibuprofen, there was not much relief from the pain and I couldn’t move very much. But from the lack of movement, stiffness began to increase throughout my entire body, causing even more discomfort. I continued using ice packs and heating pads, and generic arthritis rubs, which did bring some short term relief.
All in all, the whole situation caused a lot of stress, discouragement and fear. Thoughts were racing through my foggy mind of “what if” situations. Things like “what if I become fully paralyzed”? Or “what if the pain doesn’t go away”?
Since I couldn’t do much of anything else, I did a lot of reading from the bible. And as my mind was drawn to the subject of suffering, I decided to read the book of Job. It definitely gave me a different perspective on the subject. For one thing, it made me quit feeling so sorry for myself.
I also read from the New Testament, several passages regarding suffering for the cause of Christ and how it should be considered a blessing and privilege. (2 Corinthians 1:5, James 5:10-11, 1 Peter 4:12-13, Philippians 4:11-13) I know that those references were more along the lines of suffering from persecution, and that is not what my suffering comes from. But still, pain is pain, regardless of what is causing it.
While I was reading these scriptures, I remembered when I had read them before, and how I admired these people for their courage and commitment. I thought about how I would respond to being tortured for Jesus’ sake. I thought, “I could handle it” (referring to being put to death by stoning or beheading). I’ve always been tough and stoic, and able to handle all sorts of different types of pain and injuries, in the past.
But in dealing with this current episode with my back, I found myself pleading, “Either cure me, or kill me! I can’t handle this pain anymore.” That’s when I realized that even though I may not be facing persecution in the ways of the apostles, I am facing persecution, of pain. That’s why I could identify so well with the description in the article about chronic pain. I knew that there was no way possible that I could deal with that intense pain, not on my own. I remembered the bible promises that God will never leave or forsake me. And though there may be times when I feel alone, if I start to pray with my whole heart, I can feel His presence with me.
It’s been over a week now since my back went out, and I’m happy to report that I am slowly regaining movement and feeling. There is still pain and spasms, but not to the degree that it was. My physical condition is improving, but even more importantly, my spiritual condition is improving. While my body may deteriorate, my spirit will continue to grow stronger, as long as I keep my heart and mind on Jesus.
I thank Jesus each and everyday, because He is the only reason and the only way I can make it through these pains and keep going. I know He will heal me, if not here on earth, then when I get to heaven. I know there is a way through the storm, there is hope. And His name is Jesus.
To everyone out there who is suffering, whether it is from physical, mental, or spiritual pain, please know, you are not alone. Don’t give up! No matter what illness or disease or affliction you may have, put it in God’s hands. Trust Him. In the end, He is the only One who can help us.
I will keep all of you in my prayers. God bless, Amber.
* For more information on arthritis, please check out The Arthritis Foundation.
* I’d also like to introduce a new partnership with Endless Pursuit, a faith based Multiple Sclerosis nonprofit based in the Pacific NW.
I have a prayer request this morning.
I’ve seen and felt the power of prayer, I know that God hears and answers. So I’m asking for as many as would join me, to pray for my son Daniel. He’s not the type that would ask on his own, so I’m asking for him. He’s having heart surgery in a few days. I’m praying for his soul first, and then his heart.
I thank you all in advance for joining me in this. If you could pass it along to others, I would appreciate it greatly.
God bless, Amber
Where Is Jesus? He’s In My Heart!
Some people are saying that America was never a Christian nation. Some are saying that it used to be, but is not now. And others are insisting that it still is. I can’t honestly and accurately say what is (or was) in anyone else’s heart or mind but my own. I guess it doesn’t really matter what anyone calls this country. I personally, am a Christian.
The word Christian means to follow Christ, to be Christ-like. It was first used (Acts 11:26) in Antioch (not as the English word we use now) to describe the people that were following the teachings of Jesus Christ and trying to live their lives according to the examples He had given. More accurately, it described the people that had received the Spirit of The Holy Ghost and had given their lives completely to Him. It did not mean to simply believe in Jesus, for even Satan believed, but I’m pretty sure he would not be called a Christian.
In any case, the core nature of being a Christian is not about being in a group where everyone agrees with or goes along with everyone else about all things. It is more about a personal relationship with Christ in our own heart. God made us all individuals, each one of us is unique. In being unique, we are not going to agree with each other on everything. But as Christians, we are all subject to His instructions (the Bible) in loving one another and how we are supposed to work together for His glory.
The Bible says in Romans 12:3-5, “3 For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him. 4 For as in one physical body we have many parts (organs, members) and all of these parts do not have the same function or use, 5 So we, numerous as we are, are one body in Christ (the Messiah) and individually we are parts one of another [mutually dependent on one another].” (Amplified translation)
In this context we are being instructed to work together for the common goal of what is good for us all, with each contributing his or her own unique gift or talent, but moving in the same direction as a whole in God’s will.
Not including our past history or how this nation was founded, the current percentage of the population claiming to be Christians in America is 73%. (Wikipedia) So I have to wonder, if we are doing what we are supposed to as a whole (living under God’s leadership), how is it that we have allowed so many of (man’s) laws to be passed that are essentially “escorting God right out of our lives”? If the majority of this nation is declaring that we are Christians, why are we condoning these laws with our silence? God’s Word is pretty clear about homosexuality, murder, theft, etc. Yet we continue to allow our own government to pass laws to the contrary, just so long as they call it by a different name or don’t bother us with it.
As an individual with only one voice, I cannot change much. But as a population of 73% of the American public, when we stand together, we can change a lot of things. That is to say, if we stand together and take action. The Bible commands believers in Psalm 94:16 to RISE UP and STAND UP for God against evildoers.
I am not suggesting that we try to force anyone to become a Christian. That is not our business, it’s God’s. What I am saying is that by being too silent and ignoring the direction our politicians and government have taken and the laws they have passed under the pressure of a small minority group, we are allowing the moral fabric of our nation to be destroyed.
Our children are growing up confused and unbalanced. In their hearts they may feel something of a basic sense of what is right or wrong, but they see the examples of what is being allowed or being pushed as “normal and acceptable behavior” plastered all around them. Even in a lot of the Christian homes there is compromising and excusing, instead of truth and obedience.
And then we cry out in wonder at the insanity of a brutal beating of an elderly man for a few dollars. We scream in outrage at the raping and beating of a young teenage girl. And we ask why in the shooting of innocent children. Why would or how could anyone do such horrible things? The answer is simple, because of evil.
It’s not about passing more laws to take people’s guns away. (Cain didn’t use a gun to kill Able.) It’s not about passing laws to allow people to carry guns either. In fact, it’s not really about passing any laws at all. We were already given Ten Laws a long, long time ago, and if those laws were actually observed, there wouldn’t be any other laws needed.
The problem is we can’t obey those laws without God’s help. That is why Jesus came. He lived to teach and show us how to live. Then He died, rose up again, and ascended back up to Heaven to give us the gift of His Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). It is only with His precious gift that we have the means to live in obedience of His Word.
But what good can His Word do if no one sees it, hears it, or experiences it’s power around them? We need God and His Word to be the center of our lives, because without Him, evil overcomes.
It is not my desire or intention to judge anyone else for what they believe or not, or for what they do. It is just my belief that as a Christian and an American, it is my right and responsibility to stand up for what I believe in, and to live my life accordingly. I believe in “the land of the free, and the home of the brave”. I believe in “the right to keep and bear arms”. I believe in “one nation, under God”. I believe in “God shed His grace on thee”. I believe in “thou shalt have no other gods before me”. I believe in “For God so loved the world…” I believe in “love one another, as I have loved you”. I believe in repentance, being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. And I believe in “…as for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord”.
I will live my life and teach my children as Jesus leads me. I will vote as Jesus leads me. I will speak as Jesus leads me. And I will love others, as Jesus leads me. Will you?
My prayer today is that hearts and minds are opened to Jesus’ gift, that eyes will see the truth, and that the people of this country and all around the world will know His great love for us all. May peace and joy surround you, and God bless. – Amber
A Happy and Blessed New Year
I want to wish all of you a very happy and blessed 2013! I pray that this new year brings a renewed joy and peace to your hearts, that your spirits are filled a burning passion for Jesus that shines bright, and that His great love overflows from you to everyone around you!
Over the past few weeks I have been spending some thinking about my priorities and my schedule. Life seemed to be getting filled with many frustrations of not being able to accomplish all of the tasks on my lists. I realized that I was spending too much time on unnecessary things, and not enough time on the things that really matter.
My first priority is God. Although I had made the decision for making Him my number one a long time ago, lately there had been so many other things in my life that I felt like I was rushing through my time with the Lord, to hurry up to get onto other things. This is not right, this is not treating Him with the honor and respect that He deserves!
This was also the situation for me with my family and friends. I was telling myself that I had to wait until all of the other things on my list of “to do’s” needed to be done first, and then I would have time to spend with my loved ones. The problem with that is my “to do” lists never seemed to get completed, or if they did, I was too tired to do anything else. And some of my relationships have ended up suffering for it. This is not right either.
In retrospect, I have always tried to be a responsible person, taking care of business and getting the job done. However, it was always my decisions and goals that I was working on. I did not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ for the first half of my life, and seeking His guidance on what to do with my life has been a difficult thing for me to learn. Being raised with an independent personality, I was used to directing my own path, and I couldn’t figure out why things didn’t work out the way I planned. It wasn’t until I learned that I am not in control, that I even began to seek His counsel.
For the past couple of years, I have been feeling the Lord directing me in my heart toward certain endeavors. But I was trying to figure out how to follow His directions and mine at the same time. It was a hard realization to finally figure out that I can’t do both. But it was an easy enough choice to decide who to follow, especially with my established track record. My ways did not work outside of His plans for me.
And so I have spent a lot of time praying for His guidance, asking Him to reveal to me what He wants for me and from me. This was how the subject of my priorities came up. In addition to God now, my greatest passions have always been my family and friends, animals, and writing. There are many other things that I care about and enjoy, but these are the areas that Jesus wants my main focus. When I realized that I had been spending more time on things other than these four priorities, it made sense that this was where the majority of my frustration was coming from.
This past two weeks I had slowed down my hectic schedule and began spending more time with my son, just to enjoy his company. And I spent more time in prayer and reading the bible. I discovered that our time in church was also far more enriching to my spirit and my joy was returning. I also made time to spend with some of our friends, and with our pets. Even though some of my tasks did not get completed, I felt a renewed sense of joy that I have not felt in a while.
One particular thing that had been heavy on my heart was my family. Most all of my family lives far away, and it’s been many years since I’ve visited with them. Money and time have always been an issue, which in itself has caused a lot of stress. But a few nights ago, I was feeling a strong desire in wanting to see my family. I went onto the internet and looked up the specials on airfare and found a 65% discount available. I checked my savings account and found that I could actually do this! There may be some things that will have to be sacrificed for now, but my family is worth it! So I will be taking 3 weeks off in February to spend with some people that are very dear to me.
After making the reservations, the excitement in me has grown and created more energy than I have felt in years! God is leading me into a new direction, showing me the importance of letting Him have total control, and the precious peace and joy that comes from it. And I have a renewed spirit for my writing as well. My writing has always come from my heart, but lately it had started to feel more like an obligation or another task that needed doing. And it felt like I had to force the words out, one at a time, instead of letting it flow like water. But the enjoyment of it has returned, and I look forward to my time putting the words down again.
I can’t say exactly what all this new year will bring, but I can say there is a positive outlook to it. I am expecting good things, even though I know that it may not all be good. I am expecting joy and peace, even though I know there may be times of chaos. I am expecting many blessings, because I know God is good, all the time. He has already blessed me in more ways than I count, and I have learned that the greatest blessing of all is love! Jesus loves me! HE LOVES ME!!! What more could I possibly ask for? And yet, He gives me so much more! A family and friends that I love very much, the awesome beauty that surrounds me, a home that keeps me safe and comfortable, a Pastor with a heart for truth, a church where I know His Spirit flows, a mind that can form words and a desire to share them, comfort in times of trials, strength when I am weak, courage when I am afraid…the list goes on forever!
I know every day of my life is another chance for learning something new. Each day brings new opportunities and blessings. I have a new excitement in my heart, to see what wonders God will bring each day, and knowing that no matter what, He is always with me!
I am thankful for everything God has done and is doing for me. And I am thankful for the opportunity to share it with everyone. I pray that this new year will be filled with many good things for all of you, and I pray that many more souls will come to Him that saves!
God bless, and Happy New Year!
“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
Unceasing prayer brings the glory of God down. That doesn’t mean you’re not doing anything else. It means that just as you are always physically breathing in and out as you go about your day, you should always be spiritually in a conversation with God. Always talking: “Yes, Lord;” and “See that, Father?” and “Help me, God,” and always, always in an attitude of thankfulness.
Prayer brings us into a closer relationship with God, which is exactly where we need to be.
Father, continue to stir me toward a consistent attitude of prayer so that my sensitivity to immediate and momentary times for prayer is increased. Help me not only to pray without ceasing but to jump to special invitations to pray. Thank You for drawing near to me as I draw near to You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.