Tag Archives: Christ

God likes to Share Secrets…

15 Jun

 

 

Sitting in a Bible Study one morning, I was tired and cranky and having a hard time finding anything of interest in what was being taught. Just at my most uninterested moment, God stepped in and brought life to his word.

 

In John’s account of Mary at the tomb after Jesus’ resurrection, it reads “but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.” John 20:6-12

 

I’ve read the passage many times, but this time God spoke. “Do you want to hear something interesting,” he said to my heart.

 

 “Yeah,” I responded eagerly, excited for revelation that was about to hit me. The Bible is a fantastic book; it’s full of history, life stories and the guiding principles God intends for his people. I have read the whole Bible, actually several times over and over again for the last twelve years. Many times I’ve read simply out of obedience. I would read a chapter and not understand it or even forget that I had read it altogether.

 

However…there is this other, deeper side to the Bible; one that is full of revelation only accessed through God’s Holy Spirit. When you hit that vein…it’s like striking oil.  Words that never made sense or seemed to be just words, suddenly pop of the page, grabbing your heart in both hands and usually sending your mind reeling. Your entire being seems illuminated and ringing in tune with the Truth. Yet, at the same time you feel small and insignificant compared to the size of the revelation you’re trying to digest.

 

“Do you know why two angels were in the tomb, one at the head and the other at the feet of where Jesus had been placed in the tomb,” God said coyly.

 

I didn’t know; I just thought it was because there were two angels standing around in the tomb to testify about Jesus’ resurrection.  “No, why,” I asked.

 

“They are the real, manifested angels who had been only symbolically portrayed at the top of the Ark of the Covenant.”

 

Understandably, this might not mean much to you or make much sense, but for me it was a moment of pure bliss and revelation…the Bible coming to life and giving imagery to the gold covered Ark with two angels at the top which the Israelites carried through the desert, described in Exodus 25, “And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends.”

 

For me, this revelation sent my mind into outer space and gave me a whole new appreciation for God’s intricate timing and structure regarding his interaction between heaven and humanity.

 

For you, I hope it brings a comfort and a challenge. Comfort if you currently are reading the Bible and find it dry and boring at times; but a challenge that there is more. Before God’s revelation came about the Ark, I had read the passage several times. I had questions in my heart regarding what was written, but I allowed them to linger unanswered and wasn’t offended that my questions weren’t being resolved. That is always fertile ground for God to plant in; He loves a hungry heart.

 

What’s a passage in scripture that challenges or even offends you? Keep it close, lose the offense, but seek the Truth and God will eventually bring revelation through the Spirit that will blow you away!

Face to Face with the Holy Spirit: Receiving the Holy Spirit Part 4

2 Jun

At first, I didn’t tell anyone about my “Night of Terror.” I was unsure of what exactly had happened and felt that if I shared the experience, they might get spooked out or wonder about my sanity. “This Holy Spirit stuff is terrifying,” I thought to myself. “THAT, THAT…whatever that was, is exactly why I wanted nothing to do with this spirit nonsense!” Resolved to shut out the supernatural for good this time, I decided to put this Holy Spirit thing behind me and move on!  

 

Apparently even though I was determined to be done with the Holy Spirit, God wouldn’t let it go. A few days later I woke from a terrifying dream. I was shaken with fear and back in that dark place; however, very slightly, to my soul I could feel God almost reprimanding me. “There is no fear in love,” he prompted me sternly. “If you have fear, you are not in Christ. It’s impossible to be in Christ and fear.”  Then he issued a command, “Try again.”

 

Not so sure God really understood the circumstances, I finally decided to open up and share about my situation and God’s desire for me to take another whack at this filling, or baptism, or demonic open house deal. After explaining the situation to my parents, they reassured me, “It’s a counter attack.”

 

“What is this,” I thought to myself, “World War Three!”

 

My dad went on, “Satan used your childhood fears to scare you out of moving forward. He capitalized on your weakness because he’s worried you’ll find out who you really are in Christ.” I was surprised there was no surprise on his part. “He’s especially concerned about you becoming a Spirit filled Christian who walks in the power and authority of Christ Jesus. That’s Satan’s worst nightmare…you moving from a ‘good Christian’ to a believer relying on God’s Spirit.”

 

So, tucked under my covers that night, I made another attempt at inviting the Holy Spirit. I’m not sure why I was so formal, but my journal notes record that I kept repeating, “may the Spirit live in me, may the Spirit live in me, may the Spirit live in me…” As I was drifting off to sleep, suddenly, what felt like 1,000 volts of electricity, bolted through my body.  Like a closed circuit, power was running on loop from my head to my toes, vibrating every fiber of my being with energy. Yet instead of being deadly and draining, it was energizing and life giving! It felt as though light was streaming from every pore, and my whole body slightly trembled from the “surge.”

 

Swimming in bliss, I slowly opened my eyes to the “real world.” Directly over me, hovering parallel to my body, with five inches between us, was a figure. The general form of a person, I could make out a head and shoulders with a “body” that continued down the bed. Face to face, I encountered the living Spirit, the Holy Spirit, of God Almighty. S/he was majestic. Though the face had no distinct identity, the being swirled with every color of the rainbow in an iridescent light show. There was the sudden awareness that while I was in my room, I was not in this “reality.” The whole space seemed to be transcendent…other worldly.

 

Paralyzed in awe, the Holy Spirit leaned down just slightly and gently kissed my forehead. I winced in shock and closed my eyes tightly. Over the next twenty minutes, God continued to energize me with his power and I eventually drifted into a deep, peaceful sleep.

 

Waking up the next morning, I was still me. All the “feelings” were gone, and there was no evidence of the experience. While the event was transformational, the change in me was almost imperceptible at first. It was over the years looking back that I could quantify the now living and active Holy Spirit in me, working through me, empowering me to hear and do God’s will in my life and the lives around me. I was now, a girl on fire, a girl on a mission…

Welcome into my Heart Jesus; Just Don’t Touch Anything! Receiving the Holy Spirit Part 2

17 May
To be brutally honest, I don’t distinctly remember the event of accepting “Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.” However, I do faintly remember being asked by my parents or a Sunday school teacher, “Do you want to let Jesus come and live inside your heart?” It sounded like a good idea at the time and I didn’t think it would hurt…so sure, why not! I pictured this miniature Jesus wearing his white robe.  He walked up to my heart-shaped heart and paused for a moment. Turning his head to catch my gaze, he waited for permission to enter. As soon as I gave the go-ahead, he smiled and put his hand to the brass knob, opening a little door and entering into my heart. Once inside the dark and hollowed-out heart, he sat down, and closed the door behind him. There he was forever in me…my heart-sized pal.
For years, nothing seemed any different; I was right, it didn’t hurt a bit! In the fall of 2001, I was going to be attending UC Berkley.  Before my course load could take over, my mother suggested we attend The ALPHA Course at our church, so I could get a better understanding of my faith. The lessons cover everything from “Who is Jesus?” and Why did he die?” to “How can I resist evil?” As I sat through the courses, I finally learned who this Jesus was residing in my heart. He wasn’t my pint-sized helper; he was a radical man who came to remove the barrier between humanity and its Creator. But the classes that rocked me the deepest were about the Holy Spirit: “Who is the Holy Spirit?” “What does the Holy Spirit do?” and “How can I be filled with the Holy Spirit?” Although the sessions were enlightening, the whole thing creeped me out.
“Spirit!” I thought to myself, “I remember the last time I got mixed up with spirits!” It was as though the word “Holy” was not just before the word “Spirit;” I didn’t care if he was Holy, un-holy, good, bad or ugly; no “spirit” was getting inside of me!
Nearing the end of my final semester at junior college, I was attending an awards ceremony with my mother. As we waited for it to begin, a woman in the receiving area struck up a conversation with us, “where are you transferring to?”
“UC Berkeley,” I responded, very proud of myself and sure that she would be too.
“Oh wow!” she responded, but then took me by surprise, “Are you a believer? If you are, you better be careful!”
“What are you talking about?” I responded offensively that she wasn’t purely impressed with my future University, but rather was focusing on my faith.
“That place is heavy spiritually, a real war zone. I hope you have been preparing yourself for battle and ready to fight the good fight of the Lord!” She swung her arms wildly and took on a warriors stance, “You’re gonna need the armor of God to survive in that environment! Most of all you’re gonna need the power of the Holy Spirit to lead you in God’s paths of righteousness!”
“This woman is crazy!” I thought to myself. “And what is the deal with this Holy Spirit? If she’s what ‘having the Holy Spirit’ looks like…no thank you!”
And when I attended UC Berkeley that fall, I strong-armed the Holy Spirit as long as I could…until I couldn’t.
Here’s a link to The ALPHA Course – I recommend it HIGHLY!

Whisper to a Scream: Hearing God’s Voice

8 May

One of the most frequent questions asked when people are learning to hear God’s voice is, “How do I know if it’s me or God?” One answer to this question not only helps discern God’s voice compared to our own, but also gives insight into a principle of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Imagine you are in your room on a quiet night reading a good book; it’s just getting dark outside as it begins to rain. By the soft glow of your lamp, you snuggle in as the storm outside grows, blowing wind and pelting raindrops…suddenly “BANG,” a thunder clap echoes through the valley startling you!  

Here’s the Principle: In the natural realm, when you experience something, that experience will be the most real and vivid. In trying to recall the same event, it will only become duller. Meaning, if I asked you to recall a thunder clap, I can almost guarantee your recollection of that event will pale in comparison to the actual real event when you heard it firsthand.

However, when God speaks to us, often the first time you hear something He’s saying, it’s the quietest. When God speaks, it’s sometimes (not always) an internal whisper. Yet in time, the thing God spoke to you in the quiet of your heart, seems to grow clearer and louder over time almost to the point that it seems to be reverberating in your bones. The Principle: In the Kingdom of Heaven, everything only gets bigger and brighter, moving from glory to glory.  It’s a Kingdom that never fades or diminishes. “‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty.”  Haggai 2:9

Personal Experience:  My friend’s boyfriend and I didn’t get along; there was a mutual dislike between us. One night as I was falling asleep, I felt the slightest question come to mind, “Would you wash John’s car if God asked you to?” At first I disregarded the thought as insanity. The next day it seemed to breeze past me again, “Would you wash John’s car if God asked you to?” This time I was agitated and found the question obnoxious. By the third time, God asked me directly, “Would you wash John’s car if I asked you to?” Now I was convicted; I began to ponder my prideful and stubborn attitude toward my dear friend’s boyfriend. This car washing question was now haunting me!  Finally I faced up to the problem, “Lord,” I started, “I feel like you are challenging me to ‘love my enemies,’” I grumbled. “So the answer is ‘YES,’” I conceded. “If you asked me to wash John’s car, I would do it.”

“Good, just wanted to know,” is how I felt the Lord respond to the raw revelation of my heart. With a sigh of relief, I was glad that ordeal was over and in actuality God was NOT requesting I actually go and wash John’s car. The pay off…my attitude was now changed toward John, and in turn, so did our relationship. I took him and my friend out to dinner apologizing for my behavior; they graciously accepted and we all moved forward (it’s a good thing too because a few years later they got married).

God was increasingly vibrating an attitude out of my heart until it shook free. What began as a passing whisper in my soul, intensified into a throbbing concern as God’s voice rocked my being.

What passing thought might God be using to speak to you?

Do you have a fleeting idea that challenges you in a loving, scary way?

Don’t dismiss it, turn aside and take a look at it; see if God grows it with intensity within you?

It just disappeared! cancer < GOD

1 May
We sat around the table as a family. All five of us agreed that we would seek God for an answer, especially my mom. She wasn’t getting up without hearing something. One by one over the next three hours, my brother, dad, daughter and I left. Alone at the dining table, my mother waited for her “sign.”

 

Three months earlier on May 24, 2005, my mom was diagnosed with stage three rectal cancer. The hard, immovable mass was the shape of half a baseball, had tentacles, and had begun spreading to her lymph nodes. The advised treatment by Kaiser was six weeks of chemo and radiation to ideally “shrink” the cancer; then surgery to cut out the remains and perform a colostomy, ultimately rerouting her rectum to an external port at her side with a bag attached to receive the waste.

 

The “C” word had gripped me with fear; our whole family was in turmoil. Out of desperation, my dad suggested he and my mom go to a place he’d seen healing first hand; at the battered women’s shelter where he often volunteered, they prayed for things like a broken leg and back pain and seen people healed right before their eyes. Yet, even with these stories of miraculous healings, my mother’s mantra was, “Why would God heal me?” And while she couldn’t fathom why God would heal her, in particular, of cancer; she allowed the women of Shepherd’s Gate to lay hands on her, and ask God for a miracle.

 

As they left the property, the Director of the Ministry, Steve, offered my dad prayer as well, adding, “We don’t know what’s ahead, but I’m sure you’re going to need prayer as well.” And while my mother felt no different as they got into the car to leave, my dad claims that not more than a few minutes later, suddenly the Gift of Faith (see 1 Corinthians 12:7-11) was dropped into him and, “I just knew she was healed.” In the nine months leading up to this moment, my dad had been searching the scriptures, reading, and re-reading all accounts of healing.  The Bible has 43 recorded miraculous healings, and my dad knew each one intimately. Apparently, the reading of scripture had prepared the soil of my dad’s heart so that when prayer was added to the fertile ground of hope, faith sprouted in abundance!

 

The same day, my father gathered the family in the kitchen, “I know you are going to be healed; I know Elaine is going to be healed of cancer by Jesus.” We all looked at him with doubt in our hearts and concern on our faces. But he insisted, “I have read accounts where Jesus healed over and over again. I think God was preparing me; I know God heals. I can’t convince myself that he doesn’t. It would be like trying to convince me that the Pacific Ocean was not out there to the west. I know it is; just like I know you are going to be healed Elaine.”

 

While most wives might be encouraged by their husband’s declaration of faith; years of mistrust concerning my dad only made my mom uncomfortable and nervous. She didn’t trust her husband’s motives and she didn’t think God would do something so extravagant for her; the best plan of action in her mind was to take the doctor’s advice and go for the full medical treatment with all the bells and whistles, even if it did mean never using a toilet the same way again.

 

photo(13)Two weeks later, my dad’s proclamation about her healing began to take shape…the only problem was, we had no evidence. In the bathroom, just as she was about to flush, she spotted a fleshy clump with root-like fingers floating in the bowl; a similar but smaller specimen had appeared during her last bathroom visit. Yet even with two occurrences of abnormal items in the bowl, it didn’t yet register to her that she had seen firsthand “exhibit A and B” of her personal miracle. Out of habit and not thinking, she flushed the toilet.

 

Sixteen days later on July 11, 2005, my mother started chemo and radiation treatment at Kaiser Hospital in Walnut Creek. After only one week of treatment, her Oncologist called with some peculiar results. “Good evening,” Dr. Lui began. “Well, I have looked over your chart and it’s a bit strange. The cancerous mass is malleable and has become granulated tissue. When I examined you several months ago, the mass was solid…hard as a rock. Now the tissue is clumpy and gelatinous. It appears to be coming apart.” He paused and then added, “I cannot attribute this to your receiving only one week of chemo and radiation treatments (his records would later show he changed his mind). I might even classify it as miraculous.” But before we could start celebrating he went back into doctor mode and advised, “However, I think we should still proceed with your medical treatments just to be safe.”Being a good patient, my mother did continue her treatments for four and a half more weeks. Even while the evidence was mounting in favor of a miracle, she still needed to be fully convinced in her own mind that God was doing something phenomenal for her.  So there we sat…around the dining room table; my mother intently seeking God’s will about the situation. After we had all gotten up and left, she remained, determined not to move until He spoke. She wasn’t willing to simply adopt my father’s faith; she needed something of her own. As she sat quietly, eyes closed, she says at one point this large eye was all she could see in her mind. It filled her head and this tranquil blue eye was fixed on her. Along with the intense onlooker, who she could sense was God, came this verse into her head, with power and life:

 

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye.
 Do not be like the horse or like the mule,
Which have no understanding,
Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle,
Else they will not come near you.”
Psalm 32:8-9

 

This was the confirmation she had been longing for; without hesitation she too believed God was healing her and that she no longer needed the chemo and radiation treatments. That very afternoon on August 15, 2005, she called her doctors, “I believe God is healing me of cancer so I won’t be showing up for any of my chemo or radiation treatments.”  While they couldn’t stop her, the doctors advised highly against her decision; it was a death sentence in their minds.

 

On October 21, 2005, during Dr. Lui’s third examination since my mother had stopped her treatment, he became flustered and panicked.  In an authoritative, but frantic way, he ordered the nurse to get him prepped for a biopsy so he could remove tissue from the original cancer site. Duriphoto(14)ng the first examination after my mother stopped her chemo and radiation treatment, he refused to take a biopsy; while the mass of tissue had shrunk to only one tenth of its original size and God’s healing was materializing, Dr. Lui was still convinced logic would prevail and the cancer would need to be surgically removed. By the second visit, the tissue abnormality was now the size of an M & M, and Dr. Lui was still on track to do his job regardless; he didn’t care that his target was rapidly shrinking before his very eyes. But by this third visit, all hope for “business as usual” was gone…literally!  At the original cancer site, the rectal wall, previously engorged by a firm tissue mass of cancerous cells, was now totally pink and smooth, with no signs of abnormality. ALL THE CANCER HAD DISAPPEARED! Grabbing for metal devices, trying to find the right length and tool, Dr. Lui pinched and cut a piece of tissue from the site of origin as my mother winced in pain. “I’m sending this out to the lab immediately,” he said. “While it looks like there is no cancer remaining, we need them to test these cells because we can’t be sure it’s gone.” I don’t think Dr. Lui was against my mother being miraculously healed, it’s just that he’d never seen it happen before; he didn’t know what to do with himself. He was a doctor, without a job.

 

As we waited patiently over the weekend for the test results, there was rising hope that indeed, my mother had been miraculously healed of stage three rectal cancer! I’m sure it sounds odd that we weren’t already popping the champagne cork; but when you’re in the middle of a miracle, you aren’t quite sure what’s happening.

 

Doubts plague your thought life, “Is this what normally happens when someone does only part of their chemo and radiation treatment?”

 

“Is it a temporary glitch and the cancer will come back with a vengeance?”
“Did we imagine this whole ordeal? What is going on?”
The other difficulty with front row seats to the miraculous is that it’s nothing like it would be in a movie; there’s no soundtrack playing to a crescendo, lighting and close-ups to signal one intense moment over another and no voice-over to clue you in on what’s happening.

 

However, when the test results came back negative for cancer, when my mom flatly refused surgery altogether, and when each year every exam only confirms the lack of any cancerous cells…over time, this miracle only becomes more real and shines God’s glory over our family!  I now can confidently testify that God personally stepped into our lives, and did the impossible. We each were beautifully confronted with the Truth that God the Father is good, that Jesus the Christ does heal, and that the Holy Spirit personally brings life altering revelation from the throne of God.

 

Witnessing a bonafide Biblical sized Miracle pretty much messes up all prospects of remaining an average “churchgoer,” a “theological exert” or an aloof Christian with a laundry list of requests for God. I was face to face with my Creator, nowhere to hide; and I was now on the hook to respond in some manner…

 

What would you do if faced with a miracle? How would it change your life?  Who would you tell? How would you celebrate and acknowledge the event?
Intersecting Story: Origin of the Species