Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Faith Through the Storm: Part 2, One Week on Lower Prednisone

A week ago, yesterday, I dropped my current daily dose of Prednisone from 40mg to 37.5mg. This is our second attempt in 2015 to begin the process of getting me off Prednisone completely. After the first attempt,  I had to go back up to 40mg because the pain and inflammation came on too strong. You can read more about the whole story here if you'd like.
This time around, our doctor has me taking another drug whose sole purpose is to modify my symptoms. It's not curative and can be fairly toxic in large doses. I'm taking the smallest possible dose in hopes that its action in my body will help carry some of the burden that the Prednisone has been carrying as we try to get me off of that.
I started taking Methotrexate about a month ago and have been seeing some noticeable improvement in symptoms, as we expected. But we can't settle. Not where we're at. That's why I started the lower Prednisone dose two Sundays ago. No settling. Jesus promises health, and so we push for that until it comes.
The week has been noticeably rougher. It's amazing how much of a dropping prednisonedifference 2.5mg, one half of a tiny tablet, can make! I've had a bit more pain and a lot more fatigue, but the overall trajectory is good. Imagine a line graph. We should typically expect a little dip in how I'm feeling every time we drop the Prednisone dose (where the line goes down). But ideally, that dip would only last a short time before the line turns around and starts to go up again. As long as the overall trajectory is up, then we keep dropping the dose, bit by bit.
So far, the progress is good. We're going super slow with the whole thing because my body has been in such a fragile state for quite a while now. So the fact that the week has been pretty good is very good news.
To be honest, I'd much rather have our victory over Prednisone and the whole disease be overtly and obviously miraculous. You know, no help from another drug. No dips in how I'm feeling along the way. A quick process of going from 40mg per day to 0mg in a matter of days (which is pretty much unheard of after you've been taking Prednisone for as long as I have).
But does it mean that Jesus hasn't, or won't, come through? No.
I do want to make something clear. Corrie and I believe 100% that all healing is in line with the heart of our Dad. Whether that healing be the instantaneous miracle of a tumor shrinking, a wrist getting healed, discoloration on our daughter's neck going away--or the gradual healing of a cut from peeling potatoes--or the healing of a staph infection through antibiotics.
However--and this is a big however--we also believe that it's possible to see each and every physical infirmity, injury, disease, disorder, disability healed by the hand of Jesus. That's what we want. We want a testimony at which everyone can look and "know that there is a God in Israel and that this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear."
The spiritual battle for this thing is already won. Matthew 8:17 says that Jesus already bore away our sicknesses and pains. And Galatians 3:13 says that he redeemed us from the curse by becoming a curse for us.
The battle was won by Jesus on the cross once for all. So we live from that victory and believe his truth no matter what. We believe that it's possible for this disease to go simply by believing and walking in faith that the finished work of Jesus is THE MOST powerful force in existence. He came to destroy all the works of the devil, of which sickness is a part.
Corrie and I will push on for that. Yes, we are growing up into that faith, up into the full measure of the stature of Jesus. In the process, we are faced with very real giants. And as we are learning who we are in him, and as our faith for more and more of the reality of heaven to bust into our existence is growing, the medications are helpful and good. But may we all need them less and less as the reality of Christ in us, the hope of glory, radiates out from our spirits into every corner of our lives.
And by the way, here's a fun promise that God recently showed me we can stand on:
Mark 16:18  "If they drink any deadly poison, it will by no means hurt them."
It would seem like this isn't true for my body, if I've been experiencing toxicity from the medication. But no, it is true. No medication, no poison has more power over my body than the word of God. No poison has the right to hurt me anymore, because the promise is for all who believe in the name of Jesus.
So whatever damage has been done...it's subject to the pervasive grace and love of Jesus. Whatever bones have been cracked and adrenals have been burnt out...they are subject to Jesus's making the lame walk. And by the way, the promise for us all is:
Joel 2:25   I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Faith through the Storm

Faith in the Storm
As many of you know, my health has been somewhat shaky for the past few months.  Obviously it's been a battle of ours for the last 8 years, often marked by times of seeming to get better, only to be followed by times of seeming to get worse.

In the early part of 2015, I had to increase my daily dose of Prednisone from 30mg to 40mg because the pain and inflammation all over my body was getting worse, and we couldn't figure out why. The treatments that have worked for me in the past seemed to actually be exacerbating my symptoms rather than moving us closer to healing.

After a couple months on this higher dose and having done some other treatments to help support my body, we tried unsuccessfully to lower my Prednisone dose back down.  So I had to go back up up to 40mg per day, and I've been at that same dose for the past 4 or 5 months.

While the Prednisone is definitely useful and effective in relieving the Lyme/Arthritis symptoms, namely by keeping my body's pain and swelling down, it is not good to be on such high doses for such long periods of time (about 4 years total).

Now, my body feels like its primary battle is against the Prednisone. I won't go into all the details, but my Prednisone-specific symptoms, which I've never had until recently, are a puffy face, adrenal exhaustion (which I can feel through cyclical waves of fatigue and pain throughout the day), easily breakable bones (especially my ribs), dry eyes, and a couple others.

If true healing is going to take place, the toxicity from the Prednisone needs to be halted. 

We are hoping and believing for me to eventually be free of it all together.  But the last times we have tried to drop my dose, believing Jesus to support my body and free me from Prednisone, it just hasn't happened. My pain got too bad, joints started getting too swollen, and pushing forward in faith to lower and lower doses just wasn't having our hoped-for effect on my body.

There's a line of thinking that offers itself as a temptation. "You're stuck. You're stuck on this drug and it's hurting you, but there's nothing you can do about it. You've prayed and believed for health and freedom from it. You've put your faith in Jehovah Rapha, but it's just not doing anything. He's promised healing, but you're not going to get there."

That's why I'm writing this post, friends. Corrie and I cannot give in to the drawbacks that we've experienced in my health at the cost of believing the Lord's Word. And it's hard because we can start to feel like we can believe something all day long, but it sure would be nice for that belief to pan out in our experience. If Jesus is powerful and real and active, then it should pan out, right?

But if we give up, then it never will.

Faith in the Storm

Jesus has recently been using the short little story from Mark 4 verses 35-41, where he calms the storm after being asleep in the boat for a while, to pull me further into a place of intimacy with him. With these fresh eyes for it, the story is quickly becoming one of my favorites in the gospels.

It begins with Jesus telling his disciples after a long day of ministry, "Let's go to the other side of the sea." So they set out in their boat only to be faced with a huge storm whose waves began to fill the boat. This was clearly not the voyage that the disciples had in mind when they heard the innocuous words, "Let's go to the other side."

In a panic, the disciples went to Jesus and asked him somewhat accusingly if he cared about whether or not they were currently "perishing."

So Jesus woke up from his nap, stood in the boat, and, as though he had it under control all along (which he did), told the storm to be quiet and stop.

But what gets me is his response to the disciples. See, I always read this story and thought that he was a little harsh on them. And I never saw their question, "Teacher, don't you care that we are perishing?" as anything other than an honest, legitimate question coming from some guys who were clearly in danger.

And right! How could Jesus be sleeping at a time like that? It sure doesn't seem like he cared at all! If the disciples DIDN'T go wake him up, then yes, they would have died. So they did the right thing, right?

Why, then, the rebuke from Jesus? "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?"


Wasn't there faith in the very act of going to him for help in the storm? But Jesus said that they still had NO faith.

Jesus has said in many ways--in the Bible, to Rebecca, to Corrie, to me, through friends, through prophetic words--"Let's go to the other side of this lake. Let's get you healed."

And we've believed him, we've gone for it. We've said, "Yes Jesus, you are our healer. You can heal me. You WANT to heal me." Even, "You HAVE healed me."

But we're not at the other side yet. We're still in the storm. Learning faith.

So if faith is not what the disciples did, if it's not, "Jesus, don't you care that this disease is still attacking my body? Don't you care that I'm still stuck on Prednisone? Save us!"--then what IS faith for us right now?
Hebrews 11:6  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
This is more than, "Jesus please heal me, but your will be done, not mine." The verse says that faith believes that God rewards those who seek him. That God answers the cries of their heart. Faith holds on to the fact that our Dad already gave us his Son freely, so how will he not freely give us all things (Romans 8:32).

Faith spends time in the quiet place of intimacy and learns our Father's heart. If we ask him for fish or bread, he does not give us something different! But he gives GOOD things to those who ask (Matthew 7:9-11).

And faith stands on the promise that "Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you HAVE RECEIVED it, and it will be yours."

This is not, friends, "Whatever you ask, believe that you've received something different..." Corrie and I are asking for healing, and this verse says that THAT is what we have received.

Pushing Through to the Other Side

Corrie and I will keep standing firm through the storm. Our recent experience has looked like the storm is too much. It's looked and felt like my body is just stuck on Prednisone, left to suffer from its toxicity.

But Jesus has said differently! Jesus has said that we are going to the other side. And so in the rest that comes from knowing his character, that his word stands true, that he can be trusted, we won't panic in the storm. But we'll come sit down next to him and share our hearts with him. We'll tell him that fear is tempting us. We'll tell him about the lurking disappointment that could sweep over the sides of the boat.

And then we'll listen as he assures us that he is good, that his promises stand true, that he is Jehovah Rapha, the LORD our Healer. And he'll say, "Everything I have is now yours. When I died, you died with me so that you could be raised to new life and receive every gift, every blessing, every victory over all the works of the devil."

We'll stand back up in the boat and be able to see the storm for what it really is, an impostor that threatens and intimidates and makes a big show of strength. But here's what Jesus said about Goliaths: "I have given you authority to trample every snake and every scorpion."

As Corrie and I face this storm, we declare with the full backing of heaven:
You come to us with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but we come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whose word and promises you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into our hand, and we will strike you down and cut off your head. We will give your dead body to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all may know that there is a God in Israel, Jehovah Rapha, our great Healer and Champion, and that all of this assembly, everyone watching may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear.  For the battle is the LORD's, and he HAS GIVEN you into our hands.  (paraphrased from I Samuel 17:41-47)
I've got to imagine Jesus looking up from his bed in the boat, with a twinkle in his eye and excitement in his smile, "Now that's faith. Let's do this."

Please Join Us

We are about to start another round of lowering my Prednisone dose. My doctor has put me on another medication to help with the process. Would you all join us in faith as we subdue this enemy? Though, on the one hand, this battle is mine and Corrie's--on the other hand, it is all of ours. The enemies we defeat and the ground we take in healing are victories for all of us as we push back the darkness to bring more of his kingdom and presence to this earth.
Hebrews 11:1  Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 10:35-39  Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.
For, "Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him."
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

When Jesus Visits

Our daughter, Rebecca, came to me one morning about a week or two ago.  We were in the middle of getting ready for our day.

"Dad, did you know that Jesus came into my room last night?"

Record scratch.  THAT'S not the conversation I was expecting right now.

Calmly and matter-of-factly I replied, "No, I didn't."

"Tell me about it."

"Well, he came over to my bed before I fell asleep and he told me, 'Rebecca I know you love your daddy, and I know you need me to heal him, and I am going to heal him."

"Rebecca, I love that!  That's so special.  Isn't Jesus really really good?"


And then she continued on with her morning, probably playing with her sister or something, leaving me to marvel at our daughter's very own relationship with Jesus, who knows her heart and cares about the things that really matter to her.

A little while later, Corrie came to me and asked if Rebecca had told me about Jesus' visit.  Apparently, Rebecca shared a little more information with her.  Corrie asked her what Jesus looked like, and she said that his body was like stone but covered with jewels.

(Side note: as I was asking Rebecca about it again, I asked, "So his body was covered with gems, huh?" "No, Daddy.  Not gems...jewels.")   :)

Corrie asked her what his face looked like, and she said that it looked like the pictures of Jesus in her storybook Bible, but that it was hard to see really well because he was too shiny.

The way I see it, we basically have two options at this point. We believe her. Or we don't. And here's my question: Why is it so easy to NOT believe her?

Eh, she's just a kid.  Kids say all kinds of things and have a propensity for pretending and making things up.  She was probably just imagining, but definitely not experiencing something real.

It'd be easy to simply write it off both in my mind and hers. "Now, Rebecca. Did Jesus REALLY visit you last night? Are you sure you weren't just imagining him? Are you sure you weren't asleep?"

There there. Why don't you let the adults handle appearances of Jesus?

To be brutally honest, I think that Jesus' appearing to Rebecca presents a very pivotal and potentially dangerous opportunity for both her and us, her parents. We have the opportunity, right now, to either foster and protect her childlike heart, her faith OR to pull that seed right out of its soil, fostering doubt in the name of wisdom.

I want to be very careful here, because the way that SEEMS right--the way that feels like having a cool head, a sound mind, wisdom--actually goes against the heart of Jesus.
Luke 18:16-17  But Jesus called them to him, saying, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."
When the children ran to him, his presence, his appearance, Jesus didn't rebuke them. He rebuked the adults standing by who were (probably with the best of intentions) quenching the children's innocence and faith. And he didn't say, "To such, who have been tempered by the reason of loving adults, belongs the kingdom of God." He just said to the kids, pure, innocent, and ready to believe. These have the kingdom! So we adults should take some lessons from them!

Then there's this story from Matthew:
Matthew 21:15-16  But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant, and they said to him, "Do you hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes; have you never read, 'Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise'?"
It's interesting that it's the Pharisees--the quintessential Bad Guys of the Bible, the ones you DON'T want to be--who question the children in the verse in Matthew. "Hey Jesus, don't you hear what these kids are saying?! They're worshiping you and calling you the Son of David! Clearly, they don't know what they're talking about. That's not who you are."

But Jesus' reply shows that God himself put that revelation in the children. They were testifying to EXACTLY who Jesus was.

So when we hear our five year old daughter tell us that Jesus showed up in her room and spoke to her about healing me and appeared shiny and like stone with jewels all over him...we're going to believe her. And not just that she thinks she saw him. We believe she actually saw him.
John 14:21  "And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Prodigal Father Part 1: All That Is Mine Is Yours

In stark contrast to the incredibly deep spiritual direction that this post is going to take, I’d like to start out with a reference to Zoolander.

“But wait!” you say, “I haven’t seen Zoolander!”

Don’t worry – it’s not a thinker movie.

Check out this clip:

When things don’t go his way, Derek has an identity crisis and, staring into a puddle, asks: Who am I?

His reflection is no help.

I have felt this way before. I’ve never lost a modeling competition (I won them ALL), but my foundations have been shaken a good deal. And I’m not just talking about west coast earthquakes.

But Jesus has been speaking to Matt and me lately about our identity in Him. Our adoption, our sonship, our co-heir-ship.
And I was brought to the story of the prodigal son where Holy Spirit highlighted some things I had never seen before.
I noticed that these brothers both had lost sight of their identity. Neither of them was living in what it meant to be sons and coheirs.

Growing up I can remember thinking “that brat, asking his dad for a bunch of money! And that dad is kind of a push over…he didn’t even flinch.”

Interesting. The dad didn’t even flinch.

I wonder if that isn’t where the son went wrong. Was the asking for his inheritance wrong, or was it the way he spent it?

When I was a kid I loved going to my grandparents‘ houses for all the obvious reasons. My dad’s parents’ house not only had my Grandpa and Grandma IN it, but also a pool, a pool table, a TV bigger than me, and a substantial stock piling of Dole pineapple juices in tiny little cans.

I am not sure if Grandpa himself liked these, as I have actually never seen him consume one…but they were always there. And I loved them.

Mom and Dad didn’t want us to be little crazy kids, though, and tear through our grandparents’ house eating anything we wanted so I was always instructed to ask Grandpa or Grandma first before I had one.

And, every time, Grandpa’s response was: “Of course! You can have anything you want.”

He almost seemed confused as to why I was asking.

So I would enjoy a can poolside with my cousins. The 90s were awesome.

However, I’m not sure Grandpa would have been quite so thrilled if I had opened up the can and poured it down the drain.
While the juice was blessing me and filling me and taking care of me it was all mine to have as much as I wanted. If I had been flippant with it, that would have changed.  It seems to me that the son’s offense wasn’t in wanting his inheritance. He grieved his father when he took that inheritance, along with all his other stuff (probably also given to him by his father) and left.

So not only did the dad not flinch at the request, but he divided the inheritance right then and there and gave half to his younger son. My study Bible says that was very uncommon.

But then our Heavenly Father IS uncommon! He made us co-heirs. Through Jesus we have received adoption as sons by which we cry out Abba! Father! (reference) And we know that Abba translates as basically “Daddy,” which is an incredibly close and intimate term for father.

(An aside: I love the poetic irony of God. He set up how inheritances should work in the old testament and then BLEW THAT UP in the new testament. I find that so magnificent.)

These sons weren’t being intimate with their father. The younger took his freely given inheritance and squandered it, while the older assumed that he couldn’t have his. The one felt that he had to leave and be his own man while the other thought he had to unquestioningly serve in order to gain approval. Neither was wanting to be close with and known by his father.

What if I had always just sat there in my grandparents’ house knowing that they had pineapple juices and assuming that, if I was good enough, they might bring me one, but never asking for it? My grandpa can’t know what I need unless I am talking with him and letting him know me.

And so bitterness consumed the older brother. His inheritance sat right there in front of him, and he never asked to participate in it. In self-righteousness he even spits out that he has always “served” his father, when it doesn’t really seem like that was a requirement put on him. The father doesn’t even acknowledge the statement in his answer, but instead just asserts “you have always been with me”.

If we are serving our Father in order that He might bless us, I believe our motivation is wrong and is setting us up for bitterness and even worse, distance. Our heavenly Father wants to know us. He wants to be with us. Jesus endured the cross for the joy of having us restored to Him. That is a Father who is going out of His way to get us to Him. Why would He go all that way and then stand at a distance once He has us and make us serve Him? If our serving of Him is born out of thankfulness and joy, and wanting to honor our Father who has freely given us so much, then the outcome is more closeness, not mere admittance.

It goes against our “it’s a hard knock life” mentality to graft into our noggins the concept that we did nothing, nor can do anything to earn our inheritance. We weren’t good enough. We aren’t now (in our own power). And we won’t be in the future (I’m pretty sure I’m going to sin around 2pm today when I get angry cause Darcy will refuse her afternoon nap). In the same way I never did anything to earn my grandpa’s love and pineapple juice. I was a total user in his house. I played pool upstairs, then I played in the pool outside, then I drank his pineapple juice, and then I lounged around and watched TV, and then I trotted along behind him while he did some chores, and then he would take us all out to dinner where again, I could “have anything I wanted”…!?!?!?!

All he needed in return is that I loved him and was his.

Heavenly Father has been getting at this point with me lately. The Bible says that in Him we are: saved, redeemed, more than conquerors, sons and daughters, brought close, seated with Christ, free, heirs, a royal priesthood, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, and on and on. We didn’t deserve it, but there it is.

What am I supposed to do with all of that?

That needs to flavor my life somehow.

And I think that it’s more than where we spend our Sunday mornings (or Saturday nights in our case) or what music we listen to as we drive around town. It’s more than how we tithe and what homeschool curriculum we buy.

The closeness we are invited into by our Father does not have to wait around until after death. In fact the father in the story tells the older son that his brother had been dead, but was now alive. We have been made alive in Christ!


I am so thankful that I never forsook my Father and I never really had “prodigal” wandering years.

But I don’t want to live like the older brother either. He was waiting around for his inheritance that was already there, and was living like he couldn’t have it until later – like some family heirloom samurai sword that you can look at but never EVER touch…And that confused, self-righteous bitterness blocked the closeness that they could have been enjoying all along.

Why does it feel weird to be close to heavenly Father? Why does it feel odd to trot along behind or beside Him while He moves about His kingdom just as my Grandpa and I walked around his property? Why does it feel odd when I hear someone refer to Him as “Daddy” or “Papa God”? That is what Abba means…and yet…

Can it be that in wanting so much to not be the prodigal son, we have become the stingy son? And we have put that stingy-ness on the Father as well.

In another coming post I am excited to share more about what our inheritance in Christ is. But for now ask Holy Spirit to speak to you and to establish (maybe for the first time in your life) WHO you are in Him. Jesus, impress on our hearts the awesome fullness of the place you have made for us: adopted Sons and Daughters who did not deserve it, but who want so much to represent you, our lavish Father.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Healing My Sin, Healing Our Marriage

We were sitting together, Corrie and I, in our room not sure how this talk was going to go.  We had had a bit of a fight the night before and had gone all day without having a chance to sit down and work it through.  So after the girls went to bed, we both knew that we had to work it out.  We want to be close to each other and just letting things fade into the distance is not the way to get there.

Neither is digging in my heals, fighting for my rights, and feeding my anger.  But I wanted tonight to be different.  That's why we were sitting in our room instead of the living room.  I sensed that Jesus would do something good, and I wanted him to do it in our room.  I wanted his healing to fill our space, to change the atmosphere there from what had happened the night before.

As we were sitting facing each other, Corrie cautiously, but lovingly and hope-fully, told me that I had gotten really angry.  It didn't seem like me.  It scared her.

There it is.  Anger?!  Wait.  I'm not an angry person.  Most people who know me would say the same.

This had been coming up somewhat frequently for us over the last several months.  And to be honest, I either didn't see it or didn't categorize it as anger because, in my mind, it was justified.  How can I be unrighteously angry if I DESERVE to be angry?

But something broke that night.  I don't know what caused it.  I can't give you a trigger or a formula:  If you are struggling with x then do y and it will be fixed.

Just seek Jesus for his presence and power.  Spend time with him.  Talk to him.  Listen when he talks to you.  Then rivers of living water will flow from you, and you won't have to work up holy living.  It just happens.

It doesn't matter what the struggle is.  Sickness, bondage, hurt, sin, anger, marriage stuff.  Be with Jesus.  Any answers outside of his real, near presence are incomplete.

That night, when Corrie shared her heart with me, it finally broke through what had been my hardened walls. 

I had hurt her.  I had HURT her.  My love.  My beautiful wife.  My best friend. 

I had hurt her, and that fact mattered more, finally, than all of my rights and hurts and thoughts and reasons for justifying my anger.  I had wounded her heart.  That fact broke my heart.

And I cried in front of her.

It wasn't for show.  It wasn't to impress her with how sorry I felt.  It wasn't anything I tried to do.  It just happened because, like I said, "Rivers of living water will flow."

After these tears Corrie and I together went through a process of dealing with sin that we learned at the marriage conference we went to several months ago.  It involves going through some steps of repentance and actively resisting the sin.

A Fresh Perspective on Sin

But it's so beautifully different than the way I had thought about sin growing up.  When I saw something in me that I wished were different (anger, depression, lust, general melancholy, fear of people...especially NEW people!), it became a huge source of self-doubt, self-deprecation, and an endless spiral of guilt and shame.

I'd ask questions like, "What's wrong with me?  I've been a Christian for however many years and still can't get it right."

Or there's the questions to God.  "What's wrong with you?  You say you're powerful but you still can't get me right!"

This is what happens when we don't know, or don't believe, who we are--who we've become under the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  It doesn't matter how crappy I feel about myself, the Bible says that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has gone and the new has come.

Romans 7 says that it is no longer I who sin, but the sin that is in me that sins.  John 1 says that, because I believe, I have the right to be a child of God.  His DNA courses through my veins now.  And isn't it in Peter where we see that we're kings and priests?  "A royal priesthood."

Sin is not my identity anymore.  It used to be...but then...Jesus!  Now, the sin, the anger, is an enemy.  I am not on its team.  Therefore, I come against it in the authority that he has given me over every power of darkness (Luke 10:19), and in the presence and power of Holy Spirit, because "greater is he in me than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4).

As I repented of my anger toward Corrie and we, together, fought back against the sin, we asked the Father to send it away from me and to replace it with something from his heart instead.  When we asked him what that something was that he wanted to exchange for the anger, he showed me a vision.

Visions from God's Heart

I saw myself standing in a small square of land surrounded on four sides by tall stone walls.  It was like a hollow tower.  As enemies attacked this tower and stones were knocked out of the walls, I would scramble to try to repair the holes quickly before any flaming arrows could get through.

I knew that these walls were anger.  I was using anger as a way of protecting myself from anything that could hurt me.  Specifically with Corrie, getting angry and staying there was a way of isolating myself from real closeness with her.  My anger cut her off from me while it was telling me that it was actually the only way to get what I want in our marriage.

In that anger, my focus was on myself and nothing close to caring for her.

Then, suddenly, the walls were gone, and I was standing in the same place alone, with no walls this time.  I could see now that I was on a hill with a battle going on all around.  Covering me was this armor that kept flickering in and out between armor and the body of a lion.  When it was armor, it was solid and very visible.  But when it switched to the lion it became more transparent, almost superimposed over me.  It looked as if both the lion and I were occupying the same space without one replacing the other.

When arrows would hit me now, it didn't matter.  They were immediately extinguished (if they had been on fire), and they fell right off.  Who needs walls when Jesus lives in you?  Who needs to fight for your own rights, to dig in your heals to make sure you get your due when the Spirit of God is your protection, your very identity?

Psalm 16:8 "I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken."

Psalm 62:6 "He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

Proverbs 28:1 "But the righteous are bold as a lion."

The Father showed me that this is the man he made me to be for my wife.  A man with no walls of angry self-protection...firstly in our marriage.  My protection is the armor he gives me, which is his very presence inside of me, the presence of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.  And his armor does not divide us.  It unites the two into one.  It both keeps my heart strong to love, and it fights for and protects her heart.

After the vision stopped, and I told it to Corrie.  I immediately had thoughts of doubt and accusation come at me.

"This isn't real.  You're not hearing from God."

"This doesn't mean anything.  You haven't changed yet, so why should you expect to change now?"

"Corrie isn't impressed with this.  She won't believe that you'll change.  You've hurt her so much already."

As I was telling Corrie these thoughts, out of nowhere I heard in my spirit a lion roar.  It was quite loud and powerful and right above me, like Jesus was standing over me.  As it roared, I felt a warmth flowing down my head and back, almost like his breath.

Sure, the devil may prowl like a roaring lion, speaking lies and defeat and death.  But Jesus is stronger.  Jesus is more powerful.  His roar is louder and gets the final say.  What he stakes a claim to, no power of hell is allowed to have.  Jesus, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, can have my sin, my anger.  He can have my emotions.  He can have my mind.  And he can have my marriage and the woman I love.

I'm done with you, anger.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Praying for the Mailman

"Come one Rebecca.  Take my hand while we walk in the street."

I was keeping Rebecca focused on the task at hand (a task in and of itself as parents of 5 year olds know) as we set out for the park.

As we stepped off the driveway, one of our regular mailmen was there, his truck parked at the bank of mailboxes, which is just about 40 feet from our driveway.  He noticed the way I walk, with an obvious limp from my soon-to-be-free arthritic joints.

"Are you okay?" he asked.  "Did something happen?"

That's always a tough question to answer because I never know how MUCH of an answer the person is ready for.

"Yeah, I'm okay," I replied.  "I've been battling arthritis for a while now."

"Arthritis, huh?  You know, I've got arthritis too."

Bingo.  The way I happened to answer resonated with some common ground in him.  And I got excited because this was shaping up to be a great opportunity for praying for healing for this kind man.  And to top it off, Rebecca was right here with me and she would have an opportunity to see her Daddy show Jesus love and power to someone who needs it.  So rather than keep on talking about my health, I asked him about his.

"Oh really.  Where?"

He went on to explain that his lower back, particularly his spine, had some pretty significant issues.

"Does it hurt all the time?  Or just when you're straining it?  Or more in the winter than the summer?"

"No it hurts all the time.  Just worse sometimes than others."

Okay, this was my fork in the road.  I could stay comfortable and give my condolences and go on my way, hand in hand with Rebecca.  Or...or...

Or I could step out in courage and faith and go for this thing.  If I'm gonna believe in healing, then Jesus please help me to walk in the boldness of your Spirit and live like it :)

So I continued, "Hey, this might be weird, and I know you're working, so I won't keep you long.  But I was wondering if it would be okay if I pray for your back right now.  I don't know what you believe or anything like that.  And to be honest, it doesn't really matter.  Jesus really really loves you, and I believe that he would love to show you by healing your back.  Would it be okay if I pray for you?"

I didn't preach at him.  I didn't try to get a conversion out of him.  I just wanted to love him with the power of Jesus and let that do its own work.  And to my surprise, he said yes!

So right there, in the street by our driveway, at the back of his mail truck, I put my hand on his back and I prayed, "Thank you Jesus for (name) and for how much you love him.  Thank you that no matter where he's been in life or what he's done, you love him immeasurably and you really want to show him.  So in the name of Jesus, I command the pain in this back to leave (name) right now.  And I speak full and complete healing to his spine and muscles and ligaments.  Everything that is not the way Jesus made it to function, be restored and fully well."

He turned around and looked me in the eyes.  And I could see surprise and awkwardness.  But I could also see genuine gratitude, like he was thankful for someone to love him, and at least try to meet his need without asking for anything in return.

I asked him, "So do you feel anything?"

"No, not right now.  But you never know, it could have started something, and maybe I'll be able to tell later."

A kind, gracious reply.  I could tell he didn't want to bum me out.  I thanked him for letting me pray for him and that I believe that Jesus wants him well.  Then, Rebecca and I said goodbye and headed off to the park.

Corrie and I are so brand new to praying for people for healing, and we have a lot to learn.

I learned that day that, if nothing happens at first, I'd like to ask to pray again, and again, and again if needed.  Sometimes these things take a few assaults on them before they bow to Jesus and get out.

I learned that, even though I don't know whether he was healed or not.  And even though I don't know what Jesus may have done in him through my quick encounter with him...it's okay.  I loved him.  I was the conduit for Jesus to love him.  And it's his kindness that will lead him to repentance, not my pressing and pushing to be able to share the full gospel message.  If I get to...great.  But what I really want is to demonstrate the gospel in power and love.

I also learned how great a privilege it is to model Jesus for Rebecca.  Maybe she didn't see the mailman healed right then.  You might think, "Doesn't that rock her faith?"

The truth is...NOT AT ALL!  In fact, quite the opposite.  She prays for healing quite often and has seen it happen a couple times.  Her faith and awareness of the reality of Jesus was not weakened by this man not getting healed right then.  Her faith was built by watching Daddy go for it!

Let's keep seeking Jesus for more of his healing power to be released through us.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Healing Miracles are Happening!

We have had a few more healing miracles happen in our family lately, in addition to the one with Rebecca's acanthosis nigricans that Corrie wrote about in our last post.  Here they are!

Ear Infection
The week following Rebecca's neck getting healed, she got pretty sick with a nasty cold.  It was hanging on for a while and then, one day, she started crying out of nowhere.

"What's wrong Rebecca?"

Through tears and a bit of panic, she replied, "My ear hurts really bad!"

Uh oh.  Ear infection.  Please no.  She's never had one before, which has been great.  Can we keep that streak alive still?

It was hurting her really bad and we had to do something for her, poor thing.

Corrie did some research for a few minutes, since, being health hippies, we weren't super excited about antibiotics.  We found that breast milk can actually help ear infections (if you happen to be nursing currently).  It's recommended to apply it every couple hours for 24 to 48 hours.  That should help the infection subside.

Well, we didn't get a chance to go that long.

Corrie put some drops of milk in Rebecca's ear right then.  When she was done, I put my hand on her ear and again, like with the neck thing, commanded the ear infection to leave in Jesus' name, because he loves her and paid the price for her body's redemption. Short. Simple.

Rebecca fell asleep for a short nap, tuckered out from the intense pain.  She woke up fifteen minutes later, and the pain was completely gone.  And it never came back!

Intense wrist pain
A few weeks ago, sometime in May, my mom came home from work with her wrist in intense pain.  It was at the point where it would nearly prevent her from being able to work, since she works in a medical lab handling various instruments and blood samples, etc.

After some debate in my mind, I suggested that we pray for it.

Corrie, Rebecca, and I gathered around and commanded healing in Jesus' name.  And then asked my mom if she felt anything.

Nope. Nothing. Still hurt.

We tried again, and again...nothing.

Hmmm.  Oh well.  We tried.  Maybe we would be able to try again later.

But for now, Corrie had to go to a meeting and I had to take Darcy into her room to go to sleep.  So Rebecca and my mom were hanging out just the two of them for a couple minutes.

When Darcy had fallen asleep, I emerged from her room to hear this report from Rebecca:

"Dad, I prayed for grandma again in her bathroom."

"What did you pray?"

"I said, 'Pain leave grandma's hand.  Be healed in God's name, in Jesus' name."

So precious.

"And guess what, Dad?  When I was done praying, her face was like this." Rebecca demonstrated for me a face with wide eyes and open mouth, full of excitement and shock.  "And she said that her wrist felt better.  Like it was healed!  And now when I'm telling you about it, Dad, it makes me want to cry."

Incredible!  First of all, what a precious girl.  Second of all, I love that Jesus loves Rebecca so much that he uses her willingness to work a miracle.

Later that night, the pain came back for a little while.  But it left again on its own shortly after and, as far as I know, hasn't come back since.

Headache and Nausea
A few days after this wrist fun--on Memorial Day actually--my mom woke up feeling as if she had gotten food poisoning (how she described it).  She had a terrible headache that was coupled with pretty extreme nausea.  The two would intensify when she stood up.  So she was pretty much lying down all morning.

Corrie and I were going to have some friends over, but were wondering if we shouldn't just in case this thing was the flu  We didn't want to be spreading that to the poor unsuspecting family!

But mid-morning came and we went to my mom's room where she was incapacitated, sitting on the floor leaning back against her bed.

Together, we decided to pray for her.  I put my hand on her head and commanded the headache and nausea to leave, regardless of the cause (flu, food poisoning, etc.).

When we were done, I asked my mom if she felt anything, and she said that she felt a fluttering feeling in her stomach.  Then, believing that Jesus had healed her, she stood up off the floor and walked around.  Instead of feeling worse after standing, she was feeling better!

She slowly milled about her room and then slowly did a load of laundry.  All the time her pain and nausea lessening.  By the end of the day, after a long nap, it was gone completely and she was able to keep her plans to go visit her friends to celebrate the holiday!

For full disclosure, a couple days later, she was hit with a very bad headache (no nausea this time) and was laid up in bed for several days until visiting the ER and having a simple procedure done to fix the headache.

I don't know if this second round of headache was related to the first at all or not.  To me it doesn't matter.  We saw victory in that moment.  The nausea and headache left when we stood in the power of Jesus and the authority he has given us.  I don't know why the other headache came a few days later, and why it didn't leave when we prayed for it that time.

But each victory is worth celebrating as we keep pushing in to the kingdom and taking more and more of the promised land back from the enemy's hands.

The Dam is Breaking

Whether these instances seem small and trivial, or cool and significant, I know we're seeing more of Jesus' power.  Corrie and I want so badly for this dam of healing to break and to see our lives and others' lives (through us) flooded with our Father's healing heart and power.  So when we see the dam that's holding that healing flood back start to crack, it doesn't matter how big or small those cracks are...they are still cracks.

And when the dam starts cracking...