Growing Pains

My son spent a few days in the hospital last week. He has rare and potentially serious health risks so his doctors tend to be extremely cautious, and because of his symptoms, he was admitted to the hospital .  Thankfully, it wasn’t serious and he was able to come home yesterday where he is recovering quickly.  We rejoice and praise God!

There is nothing I have experienced in life harder than watching my child, my son, suffer in pain, endure medical tests, procedures, and surgeries, and fight for his life.  He has battled many, many times and we have faced the very real possibility of having to say goodbye.

Thankfully, through prayer and amazing medical miracles, God has brought healing.  He has also brought strength!Enduring through these health scares has deepened my faith exponentially.  It has strengthened my husband’s faith, our family’s faith, even friends have shared how much they have learned to trust God as they have prayed for our son!  We rejoice and praise God!

Throughout every challenge in life, health, financial, emotional, you name it, God is faithful!  He never leaves us, never forsakes us, and never, ever abandons us to face trials on our own.  His powerful, comforting presence is always with us.  But He doesn’t always remove the challenge right away.  And, we must accept that He may not remove it at all.

We’ve heard the saying that sometimes He calms the storm, and sometimes He calms His child.  This is true, and, either way, He wants deeper, stronger faith that can withstand any storm.

My best friend recently shared a tender moment between her and her daughter that has touched my heart and reminded me about the importance of growing spiritually.  She has been experiencing horrible aches and growing pains that keep her awake at night.  One night, recently, she asked her mom…

“Why can’t I just grow peacefully?”  

She understood that the pain was a result of the growing process.  She would be taller, stronger, more mature, but first she had to go through the process.  She had to grow.  She just wished it could be peaceful rather than painful.

But growth it seems is never peaceful.  We earn our character, stature, height, wisdom…our maturity comes from growing, and growing almost always hurts! And just like a child who is getting bigger, we must earn our spiritual growth too.

God wants our faith to be stronger, and our understanding of Him to continually grow deeper.  He desires for us to grow in wisdom and love. But He also knows that to receive the full benefits, to reap the full rewards, we have to endure the growing process.  And, that often means growing pains.

When hardships and trials come or tragedy blindsides us, we may be tempted to cry out in anger and ask God “Why? Why did this happen?  Why did You allow this?”  And in these moments of heartache, in the midst of suffering, and during the struggle, we are faced with a choice.  And it is a huge choice with life-changing consequences–eternal consequences!

 

We Must Choose

 

Option 1~~We can trust God, remembering His faithfulness, reminding ourselves that if He has allowed this pain, then He will use it for good.  We can choose to trust God and allow Him to bring comfort, love and peace through the growing process, understanding and remembering that we will reap the benefits of a more mature, enduring faith, even in the pain and suffering of the moment.

Option 2~~We can get angry, allowing unforgiveness and bitterness to take root and grow.  We can focus on our pain and the situation, only looking inward at ourselves and our own feelings.  We can run from God and unwittingly choose to live in agony.  Our pain will grow, and the hope inside us will begin to die.

And make no mistake, we will make a choice.  And if we are not intentional to choose God and move toward Him, we will slip and slide away from Him–not choosing God is choosing to leave Him! And we will reap the consequences of our choice.

One choice leads to peace, comfort, and unbelievable growth.
The other only leads to more pain.

One choice offers hope.
The other removes all hope.

One choice leads to life.
The other only leads to death.

The choice is completely ours to make.  We must choose wisely and we must be intentional about our choice. God will never force us to Himself, but He will call us and empower us with wisdom…if we ask.  So how do we choose correctly?  How do we ensure that in the hardest moments of our life, our faith will stand?

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Ideally, we will begin to prepare our hearts and minds before tragedy strikes.  Jesus has warned us that we will face trials of every kind, hardships, even persecution.  We need to live aware of the risks, but even more aware of the power of God which is in us.  Choose right now, today, how you want to react to the next struggle.  The trial will come, but Jesus has already overcome!

 

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Prayer is a powerful weapon and essential to living on purpose.  God is fully aware of what He will allow in our lives.  He is also fully prepared to help us, lead us, guide us, and teach us through every situation if we let Him.  Spend time in His presence before, during, and after hardships–in every moment, God’s Spirit is with us and He will use all things for good–let Him!

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Transparency and humility will make all the difference! We must put aside our pride, stop trying to “have it all together”, and we must recognize the sin of relying on our own strength to persevere.

We tend to respect and reward stoic, “I can do this” attitudes, forgetting that it is God who is the true source of strength. We weep in private and smile in public. We fake endurance and decline help when it is offered.  And we are not only robbing ourselves of the true healing strength that God offers, we deprive others the joy of serving God and loving His bride.

 

We must learn to be transparent with our brothers and sisters in the faith. And, we must learn to love others above ourselves. Sometimes we will be in need, and other times, we can offer comfort.  We must learn to do both in joy and humility!

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We know we can’t always control our circumstances, but we can decide how we will react to them. And in every moment of life, we have a life or death choice to make.

Will we grow, or will we wither and die?  

 

The Holy Spirit has been given to us, and through Him, God’s love has been poured into our hearts. We have peace in abundance and incredible hope, even in times of trial.  Our sufferings begin a growing process in us that leads to endurance, character, and hope.  In our suffering, we have the opportunity for growth, the chance to develop a mature faith that will never fall or stumble, but will stand triumphantly no matter what storm is raging around us.

 

So can we grow peacefully?  Can we ever say a prayer or do a good work, and poof, instantly be more mature, stronger in our faith and trust?  Well, God can do anything, and in Christ, we can do all things, but, for lasting growth, for true, deep strong maturity, we almost always must go through the process, and endure growing pains.

 

This is how we learn endurance, develop character, and increase in hope.  This is how we become unshakable.  This is how we come to know, without a doubt, no matter what, that God is faithful and loves us.  Always!And this is why we can rejoice in all things–even our suffering! Not because we enjoy suffering, but because we know it will lead to a deeper, more intimate relationship with God!

 

So often, we want immediate healing, instant answers to our prayers, quick results.  But God wants deeper faith, complete trust, and stronger followers.  So today, whatever you are facing, trust God. Ask for healing, pray for miracles, and trust Him that His answer–and His timing are perfect!  And remember, even though the process hurts, there are amazing, unbelievable, eternal rewards when we trust God!
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Father, You are faithful.  You are good.  You love me.  Help me trust You completely and rejoice in all things, even in my suffering.  You will grow me, and develop my faith as I learn to overcome and find strength in You.  Thank You for Your Holy Spirit who comforts me, sustains me, and fills me with Your love.  I choose to trust You and let You grow my faith in You until I am unshakable.  In Jesus’ name, Amen!
 
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

 

photo credit: Growing Shrub via photopin (license)

Resurrection Power

I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 1:19-20)


Easter week is a special time to focus on Christ.  It is an opportunity to reflect on His sacrifice, and remember His pain, suffering, and death.  But even more so, it is a wonderful time to rejoice over His resurrection and His victory over sin and death!  We celebrate Jesus and remember that because of His great sacrifice and resurrection, we are forgiven, we are washed clean, and we are declared righteous—not because of anything we have done or ever could do, but simply as a gift to reunite us with our Creator and make us holy—thank You Jesus!

The Spirit of God, which raised Jesus from the dead, is also alive in His followers.  The “incredible greatness of God’s power”, “the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead…”, this power is in us, available for all who believe Him.  I want to understand the incredible greatness of God’s power–this same power that raised Christ and is available to every believer.  I want to live with this power working in me and through me!  

Inside every believer, we have an endless supply of life changing, world changing, death defying power, and yet we so often live in defeat and despair because we allow the Spirit to become dormant and quiet inside us, drowned out by the noise of this world.  The Holy Spirit must be so frustrated with me and with so many other believers as we wallow in silly, changeable things rather than take up our sword of the Spirit, armed with truth and knowledge and faith and fight!  Fight for our mental health, our physical health, our friends and family who are lost and hurting, and a dying world!  It is so much easier and comfortable to live in my tiny world and never look up and out—but God is calling every believer to a world changing, life changing faith and strength in Him and I don’t want to miss it!

So I’m wondering, where is the power to change lives and change the world that we see in the New Testament?  Those believers were simple people, fishermen and women who were scared, normal people until the power of Jesus’ resurrection!  Filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, the same power that raised Christ from the dead, they changed the world!  And this power is still available to us today.  It hasn’t diminished or changed–our desire and our focus has!  Where is the hunger for God’s word and a desire to be changed by it?  Where is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit so great that thousands of lives are changed in a moment and then the revolution spreads throughout the world and changes it?   
The life changing, resurrecting, lift giving power is available but we have to live it and use it!  We can’t just play church and go about our lives in a comfortable fog, ignoring the pain and hopelessness around us—every single person who calls themselves “Christian” MUST begin to actually follow, mimic, look like, sound like, and imitate Christ and be changed from the inside out! 
The Holy Spirit is in us and the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is in us!  He is here and waiting for us to jump in and be part of something amazing and world changing—it is time to stop bickering among ourselves inside beautiful stained glass sanctuaries and pristine fellowship halls that keep the hurting world out.  POWER is found in the Holy Spirit and the world needs Him—needs to see Him in us and needs to feel that love!
God is a God of abundance, but too often I wallow in mediocrity.  God is a God of love, yet too often I sink to irritation and annoyance.  God is a God of peace, yet too often I am in turmoil with worry and fear.  God is a God of forgiveness, yet too often I squirm in guilt and self condemnation.  NO MORE!  My God is bigger and stronger and more powerful than anything this world or the enemy can throw at me, and I refuse to live a moment longer accepting anything less than His unequaled, unending, limitless power reigning in me! 
So this Easter week, as I remember the sacrifice and celebrate the resurrection, my prayer for myself and every other believer is that we would be completely changed and so incredibly full of the Spirit that we simply can’t be stopped!  That we would unite as the Body of Christ, His beautiful bride, and show a hurting, dying world that there is hope, love, healing, forgiveness and an eternal joy that only comes through Christ Jesus! And He is coming back for His bride!

Lord Jesus, help me live with Your power in my life.  May Your love and peace be so evident and strong in me that others see it too.  Empower me and equip me to not only be changed, but to create change around me and may Your Word go forth and thousands upon thousands be transformed by You!  Fill me and transform me Holy Spirit and use me to Your glory!!
Happy Resurrection!

Resurrection Power

I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 1:19-20)


Easter week is a special time to focus on Christ and remember what He went through and suffered for us, as well as a wonderful time to rejoice over His resurrection!  We celebrate Jesus and remember that because of His great sacrifice and resurrection, we are forgiven, we are washed clean, and we are declared righteous—not because of anything we have done or could ever do, but simply as a gift to reunite us with our Creator and make us holy—thank You Jesus!


I want to understand the incredible greatness of God’s power–this same power that raised Christ and is available to every believer.  I want to live with this power working in me and through me!  Inside every believer, we have an endless supply of life changing, world changing, death defying power, and yet we so often live in defeat and despair because we allow the Spirit to become dormant and quiet inside us, drowned out by the noise of this world.  The Holy Spirit must be so frustrated with me and with so many other believers as we wallow in silly, changeable things rather than take up our sword of the Spirit, armed with truth and knowledge and faith and fight!  Fight for our mental health, our physical health, our friends and family who are lost and hurting, and a dying world!  It is so much easier and comfortable to live in my tiny world and never look up and out—but God is calling every believer to a world changing, life changing faith and strength in Him and I don’t want to miss it!

So I’m wondering, where is the power to change lives and change the world that we see in the New Testament?  Those believers were simple people, fishermen and women who were scared, normal people until the power of Jesus’ resurrection!  Filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, the same power that raised Christ from the dead, they changed the world!  And this power is still available to us today.  It hasn’t diminished or changed–our desire and our focus has!  Where is the hunger for God’s word and a desire to be changed by it?  Where is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit so great that thousands of lives are changed in a moment and then the revolution spreads throughout the world and changes it?   
The life changing, resurrecting, lift giving power is available but we have to live it and use it!  We can’t just play church and go about our lives in a comfortable fog, ignoring the pain and hopelessness around us—every single person who calls themselves “Christian” MUST begin to actually follow, mimic, look like, sound like, and imitate Christ and be changed from the inside out! 
The Holy Spirit is in us and the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is in us!  He is here and waiting for us to jump in and be part of something amazing and world changing—it is time to stop bickering among ourselves inside beautiful stained glass sanctuaries and pristine fellowship halls that keep the hurting world out.  POWER is found in the Holy Spirit and the world needs Him—needs to see Him in us and needs to feel that love!
God is a God of abundance, but too often I wallow in mediocrity.  God is a God of love, yet too often I sink to irritation and annoyance.  God is a God of peace, yet too often I am in turmoil with worry and fear.  God is a God of forgiveness, yet too often I squirm in guilt and self condemnation.  NO MORE!  My God is bigger and stronger and more powerful than anything this world or the enemy can throw at me and I refuse to live a moment longer accepting anything less than His unequaled, unending, limitless power reigning in me! 

So this Easter week, as I remember the sacrifice and celebrate the resurrection, my prayer for myself and every other believer is that we would be completely changed and so incredibly full of the Spirit that we simply can’t be stopped!  That we would unite as the Body of Christ, His beautiful bride, and show a hurting, dying world that there is hope, love, healing, forgiveness and an eternal joy that only comes through Christ Jesus! And He is coming back for His bride!

Lord Jesus, help me live with Your power in my life.  May Your love and peace be so evident and strong in me that others see it too.  Empower me and equip me to not only be changed, but to create change around me and may Your Word go forth and thousands upon thousands be transformed by You!  Fill me and transform me Holy Spirit and use me to Your glory!!

Happy Resurrection!