Strength of My Heart

Psalm 73:26 is one of my favorite verses. It says,

My health my fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. (NLT)

No matter what the doctors diagnose me with in the future, no matter what they’ve already diagnosed me with…it doesn’t matter because GOD remains a constant in my life. Like the verse says, He is MINE forever! I never have to worry about Him leaving me. I never have to worry about Him forsaking me. He is mine forever!

I had another MRI of my head on Monday. (Praise God I got through it…well,  with some help from Lorazepam, LOL. No matter how many MRIs I have, the claustrophobia NEVER goes away!) Anyways, my new endocrinologist is checking to see if my pituitary tumor has returned. My prolactin levels indicate that it possibly has.

If it has, it has and we will work together to come up with the right treatment plan. These type of tumors are usually benign and will shrink with medication. It CAN be removed and I’ve been thinking about asking my doctor if that’s a plan we might come to. This type of surgery will require them to remove it……wait for it….through my nose! It’s much less invasive, obviously, than having brain surgery.

Most likely, we’ll try to treat it with medication but if it doesn’t shrink then surgery could be an option.

I’m not worried. God has me in His hands. He is allowing these health issues to keep me humble, to keep my eyes trained on Him, to remind me to lean on Him through it all. Can He heal me completely? Absolutely! But like Paul, I think this is my “thorn in the flesh,” And I’m fine with that now. I didn’t used to be. There were times in the past that I would just cry out to Him…begging Him to make me whole, begging Him to heal me.

One day I WILL be made whole! It may not be here on earth but oh…when I see Jesus face to face….that will be glory!

The Lord is the strength of my heart. He is Jehovah Rapha (the Lord who heals)

 

Waiting and Witnessing

Revelation 22:7 says:

Look I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of prophecy written in this book! (NLT)

“People get ready!
Jesus is coming!
Soon we’ll be going home.”

–Crystal Lewis (song “People Get Ready…”)

I have so many family and friends who are lost. Who need the Lord in their life. They are blind to the fact that they are in need of Him. And it breaks my heart.

Yes, it breaks my heart but am I doing anything about it? Am I lovingly witnessing to these people often? Is my light shining for them to see?

I should want to see these people come to know the Lord! Where they spend eternity is crucial!

We should be on fire for the Lord, spreading his Gospel!  There are countless souls who have never even heard the Good News. That needs to change.

But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone TELLS them?

Romans 10:14 (NLT)

We must TELL them about Christ! We must be witnesses!

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere–in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth!

Acts 1:8 (NLT)

We don’t know the exact hour Jesus will return but He IS coming! And we must be right with the Lord.

You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.

Matthew 24:44

Let’s all be ready and waiting….and witnessing!

 

Always Be Ready

If you are familiar with the YouVersion app, you’ll know that they have different mini devotional plans you can follow. Currently I am reading the plan by Skip Heitzig called “What’s Next? Revelation Series” that takes me through the book of Revelation.

(Going through this plan has also made me want to reread the Left Behind series. So I’ve started book 1 once again. )

While we don’t know the day or the hour that the rapture will occur, (Matthew 24:36)  it’s something I like to imagine will happen in my lifetime. (Though I’m probably wrong….) I would love to be alive when that trumpet sounds!

It’s like the lyrics from the song “Fly Away” by FFH says,

Okay you win, you caught me day dreaming again
About our sudden evacuation
Okay I give in, I can’t help but wondering
But it seems I can’t get enough information
Curiosity has got a hold of me
Tell me how it’s gonna be-when
One day I’ll see you coming back for me
And all together we’ll fly away yeah
One day I’ll hear that trumpet loud and clear
And all together we’ll fly away
Oh how I long for the day
When we’ll fly away
I can’t WAIT for the day when we get to meet our Savior face to face!

Matthew 24:44 tells us to be ready!

You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.

In 1 Thessalonians 4 (NLT) we read that the Lord will come down from Heaven with a commanding shout!

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God. First the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.

Our lives here on earth are temporary! Our citizenship, our permanent dwelling place will be in Heaven, with the Lord God Almighty!

Paul tells us this in Philippians 3:20-21 (NLT)

But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.

Always be ready for Christ’s return! It will happen in a “twinkling of an eye!”

But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52(NLT)

Are you ready?

Present Troubles

I’ve been struggling lately.

My health, my finances, etc.

But I came across several verses in 2 Corinthians 4 that reminded me that our present troubles will not last very long.  In verses 8-9 we read:

We are pressed on every side by troubles but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down but we are not destroyed.

Then further down in verses 16-18 we are told,

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone but the things we cannot see will last forever.

It’s so easy to feel sorry for ourselves, to have pity parties when things get rough. But God’s Word tells us that one day all our troubles will be gone. We will be forever in His presence where everything is perfect.

Also, in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Paul reminds us that God’s grace is all we need.

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Can God take away my health struggles? Absolutely! Will He? I don’t know. But what I do know is this: His grace is all I need.

His grace is all YOU need.

 

Temporary Excitement vs. Eternal Excitement

Well, you win some you lose some, I suppose. But we SHOULD have won! We were up by as many as 13 points and we blew it in overtime. Duke won on a buzzer beater. *big sigh*

I did some  yelling at the refs as if they could hear me. I got so excited when it looked like we had the game in our reach. But nope. Duke stormed back and won by TWO points.

Losing this game got me to thinking though. I was so excited when I thought we would win this game but do I act as excited doing things for the Lord? I mean, while this game was very exciting..how much do I get excited when someone comes to know the Lord?

Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with being excited over a sports game. However, when a person puts it over being excited for the Lord there is a problem.

Ephesians 3:19-20 says

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. (NLT)

Think about those verses for a moment. Experiencing the love of Christ? That should excite us!

Philippians 3:20-21tells us,

But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly awaiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control. (NLT)

Citizens of heaven! Yes please! We definitely should be excited about that! Knowing that my weak, worn down bodies will be made whole again? YES!!!

Truth be told, sometimes we don’t act eager that the Lord will be returning one day. We don’t live our lives as if He could show up any instant! We are too busy worrying about earthly things.

About trivial things. Things that don’t matter. And yes, I’m including myself in this. I, too, worry about things that won’t matter one day.

But it clearly says in Matthew 6:33-34,

Seek the Kingdom of God about all esle, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will bring it’s own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (NLT)

Seeing people come to know the Lord? Knowing that Christ loves us dearly? Knowing that one day we will see the Lord face to face? These are things that should definitely excite us!

I want my excitement to be eternal, how about you?

I want to spend eternity with the one who loved me enough to die for me.

Heartbreaking

So in my last post I talked about how Prevail Church was being taken to court by former members, saying they are due the money that comes from the sale of the building we once met in. These people LEFT when they decided they didn’t like the direction Jonathan was taking the church. (although they were a part of the unanimous decision to sell the church building and relaunch as a new church. )

Well, the hearing was this past Tuesday and it was….awful to say the least. How these people can do this and still claim to be a Christian is beyond me. I sat and watched in disbelief as Jonathan was basically attacked on the stand by their lawyer.

My anger rose and my heart rate was 116 as I sat there, tears streaming down my face. A couple of times I glanced over at their side and just shook my head. It’s so heartbreaking that these people are doing this.

It says in the Bible, in 1 Corinthians 6 that we are to avoid lawsuits with other believers.

When one of you has a dispute with another believer, how dare you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter instead of taking it to other believers!

I Cor 6:1

Further down in verse 6-7 it says,

I am saying this to shame you. Isn’t there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these issues?

But instead, one believer sues another—right in front of unbelievers!

What was the result of the hearing? Well, unfortunately it has been decided for this whole nonsense to be taken to trial.

You know what’s really sad about all this? The fact that there are unbelievers watching this unfold. People we could be leading to the Lord who are no doubt not wanting anything to do with Jesus because His people are fighting over something as trivial as money.

My heart is breaking as I type this. It’s not fair what they are doing and it’s not biblical. I think the best thing at this point is to just split the money in half. Give them half and we take the other half and just go our separate ways. It’s clear they aren’t going to back down any time soon.

OH how my heart hurts. The way they are treating Pastor Jonathan is just downright cruel.

I’ve been struggling with my feelings since this whole mess began. I struggle with my attitude towards them. I struggle with wanting to tell them off. But that wouldn’t be very Christ-like. I don’t want to repay evil for evil. (Romans 12 tells us not to) I don’t want to hate them. Honestly, I don’t. It’s just so hard right now.

I’ve been digging into the Scriptures to find verses on bitterness, anger and forgiveness these past several days.

*side note* Because I suffer from bipolar disorder, sometimes it’s harder for me to let go of things. I am in no way trying to make excuses, however. Please don’t get me wrong. I am praying to God about my attitude and reading His Word daily.

It says in Romans 12:9-10

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other.

Then a little bit further, in verse 18,

Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone

That’s what needs to happen. We need to peaceably come to a resolution. And while right now it’s seems really really hard to love these people, the Bible says we should and that’s all that matters.

So y’all….please please continue to pray for this situation that it can be resolved quickly and peaceably.

Be Civil Minded

23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.

2 Timothy 2:23-24

I have so many thoughts racing through my mind right now. I’m struggling with fits of anger over a situation and I want so badly to open my mouth and voice my thoughts but I know I shouldn’t.

For those of you who have read my posts over the past year you know that I am a part of Prevail Church, formerly Hyde Park Free Will Baptist.  Our pastor, Jonathan, was unanimously voted in to be our new pastor. However, once Jonathan started making changes, many members became upset and left the church.

We had to find another location for our church unfortunately because the building we were meeting in started deteriorating and the roof had so many leaks and repairs that it would cost more to fix it up than it was worth. So the building was put up for sale.

Well now, these former members are taking us to court over the sale of the building. They believe the money should go to them. They are actually trying to “reform” Hyde Park.

*takes a deep breath* THEY LEFT THE CHURCH!

You guys, this whole mess has me heartbroken. I grew up in this church.

Tomorrow there is a hearing at 2pm. It’s a public hearing so all are welcome. My mom and I will be there to support Prevail and Jonathan. If you don’t mind, say a little prayer that God’s will is done and that we can all remain civil around one another.

 

A Fan or a Follower?

Kyle Idleman, pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky has written several books that I absolutely love. The very first book I ever purchased of his is “Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus.” In this book, Idleman discusses the difference between being a fan of Jesus and a follower of Jesus. Here’s the synopsis

Are you a fan or a follower? The dictionary defines a fan as “an enthusiastic admirer.” Fans want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires sacrifice. Fans may be fine with repeating a prayer, attending church on the weekend, and slapping a Jesus fish on their bumpers. But is that really the extent of the relationship Jesus wants? Jesus was never interested in having admirers. It’s not fans he is looking for. Not a Fan challenges you to consider what it really means to call yourself a Christian. With a direct frankness that you’re not likely to hear in Sunday school class, Kyle invites you to take an honest look at your relationship with Jesus. His call to follow may seem radical to us, but Jesus desires it for every believer.

I’ve read this book several times and get something new from it each time. Some quotes from the book include:

The biggest threat to the church today is fans who call themselves Christians but aren’t actually interested in following Christ. They want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits but not so close that it requires anything from them.

Ouch. Idleman doesn’t mind stepping on toes, does he? But hey it’s the truth! There are plenty of so called Christians who want to experience the good things Jesus has to offer and that’s it. Following Jesus? No way. It’s too hard. Too much to ask.

Jesus doesn’t expect followers to be perfect but he does call them to be authentic.

No one is perfect. We live in a fallen world. The second Eve took that bite, perfection was something humans would never achieve. However, Jesus does expect authenticity from us.  We are called to be real, to be legitimate.

It’s much easier to talk about following Jesus when you are making general statements rather than specific commitments.

Easier said than done, right? It’s so much easier to SAY you’ll follow Jesus. Actually committing to Him? A lot harder…but it’s what Jesus expects of us. To commit.

I highly recommend this book. You’ll get your toes stepped on, definitely. But the book really makes you think.

 

Be Angry and Sin Not…

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair
Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

I was angry a LOT in high school. Back then I didn’t know I was bipolar. I didn’t get diagnosed until about 7 years later. But my mood swings were ridiculous. I sometimes wonder why in the world they didn’t catch it sooner. I was diagnosed with being clinically depressed. But boy, was I an angry person.

I was so bitter. I hated life.

Although I found Christ in 2003, I still struggled. It wasn’t until 2017 that I got serious about my faith. I had started this blog way back in 2010 and then forgot about it. But in 2017 I signed back on and made it a point that this would be a blog for Jesus. Was I still struggling? Well, yes. But I finally found Someone who I knew without a doubt would carry me through it. I finally nailed things down with the Lord and committed myself to following Him.

Do I still have bouts of anger? Do I still have bouts of depression? Absolutely. I’m human, after all.

So there is a situation going on with my church that I can’t go into details about but has been making me pretty angry at some people.  I ask that you please pray for this situation. And pray for me as I work through this anger.  Ultimately, God is in control and knows what’s best.

I use the YouVersion Bible app and if you don’t use it, I recommend you give it a try. There are tons of devotionals/plans you can read on different topics. I decided the other night to look up plans on anger. And I came across quite a few plans!

I have slowly been releasing my anger. With God’s help, the anger is being replaced with compassion. And sympathy. I am learning to look at things differently.

I do believe that there is righteous anger. I mean, Paul says in Ephesians to “be angry and sin not.” (Eph 4:26) There are situations where we SHOULD be angry. But in that anger, we must not sin. In that anger, we must not seek revenge.

It can be a bit confusing to many because Paul says in verse 26 of Ephesians to “be angry but do not sin” and then a few verses down he says to “get rid of all bitternes, rage and anger….” (Eph 4:31)

I believe that Paul is saying to get rid of any unrighteous anger. Anger that produces malice and brawling, anger that seeks revenge.

Do you have an anger problem? Seek the Lord. Release the anger unto God. You really will feel so much better!

The Church and Mental Illness

I was saddened to hear about the death of Jarrid Wilson..if you don’t know who he was, he was the associate pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in California. Sadly, he took his own life on Monday. He was 30.

Wilson and his wife founded “Anthem of Hope”, a program meant to help people who suffered from depression and mental illness.

I sit here in complete disbelief. But I realize that mental illness does NOT discriminate. It can strike anyone at any given time. Christian or not. Pastor or parishioner.

It’s time that the church step up and help deal with this mental illness crisis. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly 43.8 million people experience mental illness in a given year. That’s 1 in 5 adults.

I believe that the reason the church doesn’t reach out is because they just don’t know how to handle it. But it’s time to change that. It’s time to start having meaningful discussions about the seriousness of mental illness.

There is a stigma surrounding mental health. It’s time to erase that stigma. Mental illness is REAL folks. Let’s stop pretending it doesn’t exist.

Its Not a Lack of Faith Issue

I have suffered from depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder for many years.  I was told by someone once that my faith was not strong enough and that’s why I was suffering. I’ll never forget that.

But it’s not a faith issue. What if what I had was physical? Diabetes, or cancer? We don’t question those illnesses so why is mental illness any different? According to Ed Stetzer,

We can talk about diabetes and Aunt Mable’s lumbago in church—those are seen as medical conditions, but mental illness–that’s somehow seen as a lack of faith.

Mental illness is a chemical imbalance in the brain. It shouldn’t be treated any differently from a physical illness.

My Thorn in the Flesh

Can God heal mental illness? Absolutely! He can do anything! For me, personally, I find my mental illness to be my “thorn in the flesh.” I have actually grown closer to the Lord these past several years. And I believe the verse that says, “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. (2 Cor 12:9)


Warning Signs

  • extreme mood swings
  • talking about being burden to others
  • increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • talking about being hopeless
  • talking about having no reason to live
  • talking about being trapped and in unbearable pain

What Can You Do?

  • Ask–Talk to them.
  • Be There
  • Listen without judgement
  • Help them connect–create a network of resources and individuals for support
  • Follow up–continue to have contact with them

 

If you or someone you know is severely depressed and suicidal please contact

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255