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?"

Wait.

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?"

"Yeah."

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!

Testify!

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...

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

His eye is on our children, too

One of the obstacles that Corrie and I have encountered as we've been believing Jesus for more of his kingdom healing power is this:

"Okay Jesus, all of this bold faith for healing, trusting that you died in order to pay the price for the redemption of our whole being---all of this sounds great!  But if it's true, shouldn't we start to see it play out in the physical realm?  i.e. Shouldn't we see some lasting results in my body?"

Now, at this point in our journey into the kingdom, neither of us can foresee backing away from this bold faith for healing.  Even if we reach the end of this stage of the game and stand before Jesus never having seen his healing power, we won't change what we believe.  Nonetheless, those thoughts come around tempting us to question.

BUT! We are starting to see miracles.  And there's no better remedy for doubt than real experiences with the our loving, living, REAL Father.

Yes, Jesus did say that blessed are those who believe without seeing (John 20:29), but he also likes to meet that faith with answers!
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 is a rewarder of those who seek him.
And it is our faith that pulls the promises of God and the spiritual realities of his kingdom into our physical world.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 6:12 Imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
The rest of this post is kind of a guest post.  "Kind of" because Corrie wrote it, and she's not really a guest on our family's blog.  "Guest post" because she actually wrote it for her own blog, which she has just started over at Hope & Homestead.  If you have the opportunity, you should go check it out.  She is a fantastic writer.  She writes with incredible depth and insight, coupled with hilarious humor. She's basically awesome.

Without further adieu, here's Corrie:


A few months ago I began to notice some brown streaky markings on Lulu’s neck. Ew, I thought, don’t you ever clean your daughter’s neck?
Yes, sometimes I speak directly to myself.
But at her next bath, they wouldn’t come off. Weird.
At the next bath, there they were again. Maybe they are sunspots, I thought.
Then I saw something online about Acanthosis Nigricans. They are brown streaky marks that people can get on their neck, underarms, and groin that can often be a signal of type 2 Diabetes, hormonal issues, cancerous tumors on the stomach or liver, OR sometimes they are just genetic streaky marks that girls especially can be self-conscious about because they never go away.
The internet can be so helpful.
My stomach dropped like a rock. How could I have missed this? What is going on in this little body that I can’t see? She seems perfectly healthy.
At worst, she could find herself checking her blood levels a couple times a day – or cancer. Or she could just not ever want to wear her hair in a ponytail and wish that her body was different.
The desire of a momma’s heart to make sure that her children have what they need and feel beautiful and are healthy is often overpowering, and it can tip over into fear awfully fast.
And that’s where I went.
Stomach ache. Looking at mayoclinic.org when I know I shouldn’t be. Worry. Worry. Worry.
My sweet husband can see it in my face now. Sometimes worry washes over me and steals my joy. It makes life feel like doom. And the enemy of our hearts starts in on speaking his incessant lies into my head.
“What makes you think that in this world, where so many people are sick, that your kids could escape it?”
Matt and I believe that Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to dwell in us, and that through His power the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will walk – on earth as it is in Heaven.
But when the rubber meets the road, when the poop hits the fan and other clich├ęs, will we put our money where our mouth is? Will we put our actions where our mouth is?
Sensing me tip over, Matt came calmly to my side and looked over my shoulder at the marks I was trying to nonchalantly inspect. If these were going to be around for a while, I didn’t want to speed up the self-conscious aspect by making a big deal out of them.
While I brushed her hair (that was my premise for the inspection), Matt just quietly held his hand out toward her and I could barely hear him under his breath declare in the name of Jesus that these marks were to mean nothing, were to go away, and were not to scare me anymore.
That night after she fell asleep I snuck back into her room “I’ll love you forever”-style and sat, as I often do, on the floor next to her little toddler bed that she is growing out of. I lay my hand on her snuggled up, heavily blanketed little form and surrendered her again, as I continually have to do, into Jesus’ hands. I entrusted her body to Him, and I thanked Him again for the honor of being one half of the duo that gets to usher her into life in this big awesome world; for the honor of being the one who gets to momma-love her so strongly, that I begin to understand a little more the love for me that led Jesus to endure the cross.
Matt and I decided together to wait a few more days before calling the pediatrician just to see what happened.
At bath time a day or so later, the marks were gone. I mean really gone. I mean gone before bath time even started. Before I had a chance to wash her down with a cloth.
I wish I had a before and after picture to show you, but that wouldn’t have worked with the whole “not making a big deal out of it” plan, so you are just going to have to take my word for it.
I would do just about anything to ensure my children’s safety and health and happiness. And I still will. This story doesn’t disqualify diligence and wisdom.
But parenting, and the crushing amounts of love that come with it, just expose my weaknesses. Because I can’t, just from willing it, make skin markings go away. But Jesus can. And through the markings that His skin received, we can be healed.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What Happens When "Nothing" Happens?

Okay.

Corrie and I have wanted to be totally honest throughout the life of this blog.  We want to share the unadulterated truth of our journey, our struggles, and our beliefs even when that truth seems to run counter to what we're going after.

Namely: healing, a deeper and more real experience of the person of Jesus, the kingdom.

After going to that healing conference at Bethel, wouldn't it be a beautiful thing to be able to write to you: I'm healed!  It's done!  Maybe I didn't feel it then, but I woke up the next day, or two days later or whatever and it was gone!

At this point Corrie and I would definitely consider a gradual healing to be a miracle.

Where My Body is at Now

Today as I write, my body isn't feeling all that great.  The joints that were crooked are still crooked.  The fatigue and adrenal exhaustion are still exerting their influence.  And the general pain, though not super intense, is still there.

After the healing conference, I went through a time of feeling pretty bad.  In fact, I had to increase my daily dose of prednisone (a steroid that suppresses pain and inflammation) from 30mg to 40mg.  This issue of prednisone is one that Corrie and I would love to be rid of.  It's typically pretty toxic and can have some negative long term effects.  We really want for me to be able to get off of it completely.

And in the last couple months, we've tried.  I dropped the dose first from 40mg per day to 37.5mg.  Then after two weeks, again to 35mg per day.

But shortly after, my body showed signs of REgressing rather than PROgressing and I had to go back up to 40mg and am still working on regaining my strength.

On the positive side, I have been gaining weight, which is huge for me.  It's nice to be able to hold my own against those light spring breezes  :)

What God is Doing in Us Now

There are quite a few details to that summary of my body's state right now, some of which are quite interesting and carry flavors of the miraculous working of His kingdom.  But those details aren't actually the point of this post.

The point is: We went to a healing conference where miraculous healing was clearly happening, where Jesus was clearly leading us.  Yet, we did not and currently are not experiencing the full extent of healing that we've been pursuing.

So what in the world do we do with that?

Battling this sickness for eight years is hard enough.  It could seem like salt in the wound to come home from that conference with what seems like nothing to show for it.

Offended by Disappointment

In Matthew 11, John the Baptist is stuck in prison with no hope of escape.  He's heard about the miracles that Jesus has done and is doing.  He saw heaven open over Jesus and heard the Father's voice bless him for crying out loud.

But now, in prison, when HE needs rescuing, he doubts.  "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?" (vs. 3)

Basically, "Are you really who I thought you were?  Because here I am, needing saving, and you're not doing it.  So maybe I should look for another savior."

I'm going to be bold and say that I think a lot of Christians join John the Baptist in this line of thought...especially when faced with persisting sickness, or any other type of disappointment for that matter.

And I'm going to be even bolder and say that this type of thinking brings death.

I don't mean to be insensitive or cruel.  But I speak from my and Corrie's own experience.  Everything in us wants to ask the question, "WHY?  Why, God, have you not healed me?  We need you to save us, and you aren't doing it.  So now we have to make sense of this current set of circumstances."

But when we dive in to this line of thought, our minds often inadvertently start undermining one of two things, or both: who Jesus is...and...who we are.

Who Jesus Is

Maybe some start looking to something other than Jesus to save them.

But more likely for us Christians, we tend to look to another version of Jesus.

We unwittingly remake him into someone who matches our disappointing circumstances rather than hang on in faith and patience until our circumstances bow at his feet.

This is where, I think, the thoughts come in that say that he must have a higher plan.  His ways are not our ways.  He's building my character.  Maybe he wants to heal some but not others, but not me.

And before we are even aware of what's happening in our minds, we reason ourselves right out of faith and into what has felt to me like paralysis.  And instead of a Jesus who came to bring light wherever there is darkness, to heal wherever there is brokenness, to push his kingdom violently into our existence, we start to believe in a Jesus whose power was great 2000 years ago and will be great again 2000 years from now.  But in the present, he really doesn't do much.

And now the Bible, the written revelation of God, is no longer the final authority on his character.  But our reasoning, our experience has usurped its place.  All of our "if then" statements make so much sense to us.

"If I am still sick, then it must be because..."

And these conclusions SEEM right!
Proverbs 14:12: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death."
Corrie and I have written and declared over and over and over: Jesus heals.  His name is Healer.  He can heal.  He WANTS to heal.  Even, he HAS already healed.  The Scriptures are absolutely rock solid on this.  Sickness should not stay where Jesus is present.  Therefore, in the body of a believer, sickness is a squatter.  It's illegal, and God has authorized us to evict it.

Similarly, in the body of anyone who is in the presence of a believing believer, sickness is still a squatter.  Because we believers get to bring healing to the world to show them God's overwhelming and REAL compassion.

So if we get offended at not seeing healing yet, and we redefine Jesus, we start to believe that maybe he's not the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Maybe he's not Jehovah Rapha.  Maybe he did not bear our illnesses and carry our diseases (Matthew 8:17).

Or maybe my Father, instead of wanting our family to be free of sickness, which is merely the result of sin and the curse of it, wants us to endure it so that we can get stronger.

As a family that battles sickness, this version of Jesus and the Father is not one that gives me and Corrie life and hope and joy and the will to keep fighting.  Instead it has in the past led to depression and angst and being angry at God.

But if we take God at his Word, his unadulterated, plain and simple word.  Then his goodness, his power, and the sheer magnitude of everything he has made available to us...they bring life!

Who We Are

If, in our offense, we don't undermine Jesus' character, then we are left to question who we ourselves are.  If Jesus is our healer, if the Father takes no pleasure in sickness but instead wants to get rid of it, then there must be something about ME that is keeping me from being high enough on God's list of priorities to think about.


He must not love me or like me or care to invest in me as much as his other children. 

So we beg and plead for God to please come to us, to look at us.  To consider us.  And in so doing we actually accuse God of not being compassionate, of not being caring, or of just being oblivious.

And we start to believe that we aren't worth his time.

But let me just say right now, we--me, Corrie, our family, and everyone in this entire existence--we are all worth all of his time.  We are not worthless sinners saved by grace.  We are precious sons and daughters of the King who were lost but have been redeemed by the high high price of Jesus' blood.  We are worth so much because he has declared it so.  We are worth the very life and death of Jesus.

Unoffended in the Truth

Jesus answers John the Baptist by simply restating Isaiah 61, the commission of the Holy Spirit over his life.
Matthew 11: 4-6: "Go and tell John what you see and hear: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.  And blessed is the one who is not offended by me."
What he is calling out to us is this:  "I am still your Savior.  What you are experiencing right now is competing for your loyalty, your heart and mind, your faith.  But do not waver.  Do not doubt.  Do not look for salvation in your own reasoning and explanations.  If you remain in me, if you stay steady in your faith in who I am, who I've declared you to be, in my truth, you will be blessed."

Thankfully, Holy Spirit in us gives us the tenacity to fight this good fight of faith.  We have to fight to take the kingdom.  That's why just a few verses later, Jesus says,
"From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force." (vs. 12)
It is fully ours, and yet it takes a violent faith to keep pushing in to it.

That's where we are.  We are still waiting for my body to reflect the healing that Jesus already paid for.  But we are not shaken in our faith or our resolve at all.  In fact, both are stronger now than ever.  We have seen too much of God's power to stop pursuing more.  We have known too much of his heart to want to find a savior anywhere else.

So, when "nothing happens" it doesn't actually matter.  We keep holding on to the truth, immerse our minds in it, let it permeate our whole being until we're transformed from glory to glory.  But that's a topic for a later post :)

The truth is, "nothing" never happens.  In the kingdom, something always happens.  And that's exciting.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

How Jesus Rocked Our World at a Healing Conference: Part 3

We woke up on day three of the healing conference, having just had a wonderful second night that really helped settle our hearts and answer some questions that we had after the first night.  As you may remember, we received powerful prayer for healing and were very blessed on that second night.

Then, the morning of day three came.  And again, like yesterday, my body was having the hardest day it had had in a couple years.  Except now, it had the previous day to compete with for the top slot on the pain scale.

What?

But Jesus, we are at a healing conference.  We prayed.  THEY prayed.  I didn't feel anything, but the people praying did.  So where's the healing?

These questions can, if we let them, suck the life right out of our countenance. And out of our faith. But they are legitimate questions to our natural minds.  If a = b and b = c, then a should equal c, right?  So what happens when c doesn't seem to show up?

This verse came to mind and is where we've landed:
Proverbs 3:5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
Our own understanding is where we look at the situation, the fact that my body is tanking, and think, "Jesus must not be ready to heal me yet."  Trusting in the LORD is where the situation loses all power to determine our beliefs and conclusions because the word of Jesus and his finished work of redemption stand truer.

And so, back to the story.

Day three.  A lot of pain in my body.  Corrie again was left to take care of me and the girls on her own, taking them to the store and to the hotel pool by herself while I lay in bed, hoping my body would somehow be revived.

Surrounded by God's Love

But God already had readied his people to come alongside us and carry us through.

One of my mom's good friends, who lives in Redding and goes to Bethel and who Corrie and I have actually never met, got in touch with us.  She had some extra tickets for Friday's day sessions (which had been sold out when we originally decided to come to the conference) and wanted to know if we'd like them.

We got back to her, letting her know that my body was far too sick that day for us to go anywhere before the evening session.  Rather than let that be the end of it, she instead got us in touch with one of Bethel's pastors who himself had been miraculously healed of stage 4 cancer several years prior.  He and his wife dropped everything and came to our hotel room to pray with us.

And what a blessing.  Even though we were in a strange town, far away from friends, Jesus was covering us with people we didn't even know, who loved us.

They prayed more faith-filled prayers against sickness, prayed prophetic words and promises over our marriage, and really built us up in the presence of Jesus.  Again, I didn't feel anything in my body, but they felt God's presence as they were praying.

Corrie and I felt his presence as well, not physically, but definitely in our spirits.  We were given new joy and laughter in the midst of my terrible pain.  We were given hope that God is indeed breaking this sickness.  And we were humbled by the prophetic words about our marriage and God's power working through us together.

After they left, we slowly got ready to go to the third and final session of the conference.  But this time, thanks to my mom's friend, we had seats reserved for us on the ground level.  We had been in the balcony on the previous nights, but this friend did everything she could to make sure that there was space for us on the more mellow, more comfortable, and just all around better lower level.  We shouldn't have been able to sit there, since it was reserved for people who paid for the whole conference.  But they didn't care.

To them, we mattered more than the rules.

Like Jesus healing on the Sabbath.  Or forgiving the adulterous woman.

And when we arrived that night, there were people we had never met waiting to help us in.  My mom's friend was out of town and wasn't even there, but she had called in reinforcements to help us unload the girls from the car, carry our baby stuff, show us to our seats, and make sure we had everything we needed. We were covered.

Surrounded on all sides by these people who loved us, we were ready for the incredible third session.

The Third and Last Session

Just before it started, another man who I hadn't met stopped and prayed for me.  He stayed very calm and not worked up during his prayer.  And suddenly he asked me, "Are you hot in here?"

No.

"Wow.  Crazy.  God is doing something right now, 'cause I'm burning up."  I looked up at him and sure enough, he was taking off his sweater as beads of sweat started forming on his face.

Yet another until-now-strange supernatural occurrence.

The session started with more worship led by Jeremy Riddle (which was fun because Corrie and I loved his song "Sweetly Broken" when it came out back in college).  Rebecca again was on her feet with her hands high praising Jesus.

After giving a mediumly brief message on healing, Randy Clark outlined how the rest of the evening would go.  They were going to play several videos, each of which would have several different healing testimonies.  They were interviews conducted with people who had been healed at similar gatherings.

Randy said that, if any of the testimonies were the same as or similar to what we were dealing with, we were to stand up after the video.  We would treat these testimonies as words of knowledge, meaning that a video showing someone healed of cancer would be similar to Randy saying from the front, "If you have cancer, I think that I am hearing God say he's healing you tonight."

So the lights dimmed and the first video played.  And the first girl on the video said, "I was just healed of...LYME DISEASE."

What?!

My heart beat like 30 times in 2 seconds and tears came to my eyes.  Corrie was taking care of Darcy, walking her in the back, but she also had a similar reaction.

"Jesus, is this for real?  This can't be real.  I'm not actually about to be free of this thing once and for all, am I?"

Then, I matched up with several other testimonies on that same video.  People talking about joints that couldn't bend all the way or that were just totally locked, pain in different parts of their body.

It was basically a checklist for a bunch of the things that are wrong in my body.

"Oh please Jesus."

So the video ended, and I stood up along with quite a few others sprinkled about the auditorium.  And at that point, it didn't matter to Corrie how fussy Darcy was.  She rushed back to be by my side.  And the people close to us gathered even closer to lay hands on us and pray.

And as we stood, me in a lot of pain, I kept checking different joints to see if they were loosening (particularly my right elbow, which is almost completely frozen).  They kept praying.  Nothing was changing.

Randy asked from the front who was getting healed, and all over the auditorium people were waving their hands.

Not me.

After a couple minutes, everyone sat down and the next video played.  When it was over, Randy asked the new group of people, plus anyone who hadn't been healed yet from the first video to stand back up.

So everyone gathered back around again to pray.  There was no supernatural evidence happening at this point, like prophetic words or strange sensations.  But again, we could just feel everyone's love.  And again, people weren't just praying for me but for Corrie as well.

(Note from Corrie: Several women gathered around me and actually wept with me for my pain, for all the days that I have had - like that day - to carry an unnatural amount of weight to keep our family going. And I just want to say that this was not worked up weeping. It was an honest sharing in the deep pain that I don't always display. I really believe that Jesus would  have done the same if He were sitting there with me.)

Even when the next video played, people didn't stop praying.  I sat back down, mostly because of my pain and tiredness, but people didn't leave for their seats like before.  They wanted to stay with us, to keep battling on our behalf.

Miracle #1

As waves of prayer for us kept coming.  We were able to witness what Jesus was doing for other people in the room.  Three people in particular really stood out.

At one point during the evening, we could hear a sudden uproar of excitement and commotion about six rows behind us.  We could see a group of people all standing around this twenty-something girl with their phones out recording, taking pictures, yelling, "WHOA!  Oh my goodness!!"

This girl had a metal plate in her forearm that you could see under her skin.  Well, she USED to have it.  But these people, her friends, were all watching as it disappeared in front of their eyes.  The bulge under the skin just shrank to nothing.

She had apparently been healed of AIDS and gotten saved a few years prior at the Healing Room ministry in Santa Maria.  But Jesus' grace and compassion don't ever stop...so he wasn't done healing her.

Miracle #2

Then, about 4 rows in front of us, in the very front row next to the stage, a woman fell to the floor sobbing, quite loudly actually.  Randy walked over to her with the mic to ask what was going on, but she couldn't pull herself together to answer yet.  Her husband, who was standing with his own tears coming down his face, said, "She knew she'd be healed tonight.  God said to her, 'If you go tonight I'll heal you.'"

Randy gave the woman some time to compose herself before coming back to find out what had happened.  She got up on the stage and plugged in her iPhone so that it could project some pictures that she had of her foot.  It actually looked a lot like my right ankle which is unnaturally turned out from the arthritis that has damaged the joint.

She then took off her shoe to show everyone her completely straight ankle with full range of motion and no pain.

Miracle #3

Another lady got up on the stage and shared her story.  She had suffered from Lyme Disease for 37 years.  Yes, THIRTY-SEVEN years.  When the video played, she too felt the same excitement that we had felt, and, whether it was during the video or after I don't know, Jesus completely took away every one of her symptoms right then and there.


But here's what really amazed us.  Everyone's hearts were so oriented toward compassion and love, toward not letting anyone leave without being fought for.  The ministry team immediately sent her straight from the stage to where we were sitting so that she could take up arms against the Lyme Disease in my body.

And she was the kindest most compassionate lady.  She sat, probably feeling bad that she was healed and I was still not feeling anything, and prayed for me for most of the rest of the night.

As We Were Leaving

After all of this and (we found out later) about 160 other healings that night, it got late and we needed to leave to get our girls to bed.  Corrie had already gone out to the foyer, sad to leave my side, but needing to settle and care for our two very tired girls.

I still felt no different than when the evening began.

But on my way out to meet Corrie and the girls in the foyer, I was stopped by a woman telling me, "There's a man who really really wants to pray for you."

At this point, I was tired, a bit discouraged, in pain, and just wanting to take care of my wife who had been so heroically taking care of our daughters while I was receiving prayer.  So I said, "Well, I can't stay right now.  My family is waiting for me and my daughters are melting down.  If he really wants, he can come out and meet us while we pack up our stuff."

She said, "Great," and left, presumably to go get him.  Again, as I was on my way to Corrie, a kind man, Zack, came alongside and asked if he could pray for me.  Getting a bit MORE tired now, I said, "Sure, but wait until I get to my family."  I figured this was the guy that the lady had gone to get.

So we got to Corrie and the girls, and he was about to start praying with ANOTHER guy came up and said his name was Ben.  He seemed to have some kind of authority around there, because it seemed like people knew who he was.  And somehow he did look familiar.

He was the guy who "really really" wanted to pray for me before I left.  He said that he saw me in the auditorium from his seat and that I appeared to be glowing white hot.  He felt the Holy Spirit moving him to pray for me.

Ben and Zack prayed.  Power-filled, faith-filled, authority-filled prayers against this sickness.  Prophetic words about our lives and God's vision for us. 

And with that, we were blessed and loved and had met God again.  My body felt no different, but our spirits were a thousand times strengthened and infused with the love of Jesus for our family.

I want tell you where I'm at now, physically, and how Corrie and I have processed through everything that we experienced there.  But telling the story of day three has already made for a long post.  Thank you for sticking through to the end! I'm going to sign off for now and save the rest for the next post.  So stay tuned!

By the way, it turns out that Ben is a pastor at Bethel, and that we had seen him in the movie Sons of God.  A great movie really worth watching.  It's free online, by the way!

Also, I looked him up on Facebook and found that he's leading the Awakening Europe conference this summer along with another preacher Corrie and I love to listen to, Todd White.  All of it is definitely worth checking out.

To read the other parts of our Healing Conference series:
Part One
Part Two
Darcy's Interlude

Monday, April 20, 2015

How Jesus Rocked Our World at a Healing Conference: Darcy's Interlude

So, even though this is the third post in the Healing Conference series, it is NOT part three.  I'm sorry everyone.  I know you were all eagerly waiting for part three, but I had to include this little tidbit.  It didn't quite fit in part two, even though it happened on that night, but it still deserves to be told because it's one more example of God showing us that he sees, he knows, and he is very real.

At one point during the second night of the conference, Darcy started getting fidgety and borderline fussy, so Corrie took her out into the foyer of the auditorium to walk with her a bit.

While she was out there, sacrificing her energy and her opportunity to listen to the awesome message, no doubt also still worried about how my body was doing, God met her and filled her heart with his love for her and our family.

Out of nowhere, a man who we didn't know walked up to Corrie and told her, "I just wanted to tell you, I see a rainbow over your baby's head right now (as she was sitting in her stroller).  And I think that God wants you to know that she is a promise to you that what has happened will not happen again."

Immediately, the significance of this hit home with Corrie.  "Well, she is our rainbow baby."

"What does that mean?" he asked.

Amazing!  The guy didn't know Corrie or our history, and he didn't know what the picture God had given him even meant!

"That's what they call a baby who is born after the mom has had a miscarriage.  Two years ago, I miscarried, and now Darcy, here, is our rainbow baby."

And then, having just met Corrie and still having never met me, this man prayed a powerful, prophetic prayer for our family.  He prayed for my healing, standing against disease on our behalf.  And he prayed that we would be established in a place where it would seem impossible to actually get established.  The picture that he got for us was that we are like a flower on the side of a rocky cliff.  Nothing is supposed to grow there, but because God has declared it, it does. 

We had traveled to Redding specifically with the idea of going deeper in our healing journey with Jesus.  But what he had in mind was to draw us more fully into his heart.  He doesn't compartmentalize himself into the healing side, the prophetic side, the comforting side, the disciplining side.  In him the fullness of deity dwells bodily.  So in him, we get ALL of him.

In that moment, he was ministering healing to Corrie's heart.  Man, he's good! 

It was as if he was saying, "Yes, I know you want healing, Hallock Family.  I do too.  But in the process, I want you to know that I want ALL of you.  Every pain, every brokenness, every child, whether still with you or here with me.  Your whole family is all mine and I care about every facet of you.  This issue, Darcy as your rainbow baby, may seem insignificant at the moment compared to the pressing health needs of Matt's body.  But it is SO significant.  It is SO near to My heart.  And you, Corrie, are not forgotten in the midst."

"So seek me for healing.  But seek Me, not just the healing.  Because when you seek Me, then I get all of you, and then you get everything I am."

Thank you Jesus for bringing us into greater intimacy with you.  It's in that place of shared intimacy with the Trinity (John 17:20-23) where all of your gifts and promises and goodness find their
meaning.

To read Corrie's beautiful post, written two years ago, on her miscarriage:
See Through

To read the other parts of our Healing Conference series:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three (coming soon...)