Tag Archives: testimony

A Little Pick-My Up

I was sitting today, trying to get over a cold which has plagued me for 5 days now. On top of that, I had my maintenance chemo treatments Wednesday and Thursday, so my body is weak. I just needed rest, which is a hard thing for me to do. I like to be on the go. Sitting around is not my cup of tea. I needed a lift out of this place of being a bit down.

As I sat here, I thought about how much God cares for me, and I thought maybe you could use a little picker-upper as well. You see, when we are in a place of hurt or weakness, it’s easy to get a little down. It’s easy to feel like we are alone. We can get into a place of pity for ourselves because of the place we are in. I do not like those kind of thoughts.

Then God spoke to me and reminded me of a scripture that we should all strive to keep in our hearts for just such an occasion as this. Psalm 139:17-18 tells us this:

How precious to me are your thoughts, oh God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

It took me a long time to get my head wrapped around these verses. God has precious thoughts toward me? So many of them that they outnumber the sand of the sea? How can that be? I do so many things wrong! There are so many times I fall short of what He asks me to do! There are so many times I do things I know God would not like so much. I say things that are hurtful to others. How can He have precious thoughts of me?

Yet He does – more than I can imagine. Those thoughts are always there. When I think about that, how can I be down? How can I be discouraged? For me, it is impossible. These words lift my spirits every time, and I will endeavor to keep them in my heart and mind for such a time as this! I hope you will too.

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Crucified With Christ

Galatians 2:20-21 KJV
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
I am crucified with Christ

When I accept Jesus Christ as my savior, I am actually accepting His sacrifice on the cross for my sins. I’m also putting myself in His place and crucifying my fleshly desires. I am asking Him to take these things away.

I’m asking Him to give me a new mind and a new body that does not sin. The deeds that I once did I put aside because they are my sin stains. Christ died to take away those sins. These are the works of the flesh that we will talk about when we get to Galatians 5. They are such things as lust, fornication, backbiting, lying, cheating, stealing. All those things are displeasing to God.

That was the old me. But that me was crucified when I accepted Christ. It was put to death so that a new man can emerge. Paul says “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (1 Cor 5:17). This is how it should be when we take Jesus Christ into our lives as our Savior.

What happens to many is that they accept Jesus Christ but they do not crucify the flesh. They keep their old ways and their old habits. They don’t die to themselves. They continue to walk in the old man instead of taking on the new man. Remember that Jesus called our salvation being “born again.” (John 3) It is a new life. It is not supposed to be the same after we get saved as it was before. It’s supposed to be quite different.
But sometimes it takes a while for anyone to see a difference in our lives. I need to be very careful that I don’t judge the progress of a new Christian. God takes each person progressively through the process of salvation. Remember we have discussed how we are initially saved by our acceptance of Jesus Christ and are heaven bound at that time. But our salvation needs to be worked out. This is the process of crucifying the flesh and getting rid of our worldly desires.

Being crucified with Christ means that we have put aside the flesh and are doing everything we can to walk in the spirit of God and follow His will.
Nevertheless I live.

I am still alive. I still breathe and walk just like I always did. It seems like I’m the same person if people look at me. But they should not see the same person for very long. They should see somebody who has been changed. Not in appearance because my body still lives. But the works of the flesh have been crucified with Christ – they should no longer prevail.

Yes, I am still alive. I have not died as Jesus died. He was crucified in the flesh. I am crucified with Him in the works of the flesh and the sins that I once walked in. But I’m still alive. I still have the will to do what I choose. This is a time that is most critical for my salvation. Will I choose to follow Christ or will I choose to stay in my old way because I am still alive? I still have breath just like I always did. Nothing has changed that the world can see unless I allow the Holy Spirit to start working through me and change those actions that would make the world see a difference.

Before I was saved I was a person who would put down people all the time. I had a very quick wit and would come back with things that would hurt people and make fun of people. I also had a mouth that could not cease from swearing. Seems like every other word that came out of my mouth is one that was not pleasant. I was known for this and a lot of people avoided me because of my attitude. The friends that I had around me reflected those words.

When I got saved the words that came out of my mouth changed. It was one of those things that happened that surprised everybody around me. They could see, and hear, that something was different. This was actually not a conscious decision on my part. The former words that I used were crucified with Christ. Even though I still lived they were gone. It was the most amazing thing and everybody wondered what took place. This gave me an opportunity to tell them. Most didn’t believe that Christ could make that kind of difference. Others did and I was able to witness to them about the power of God and the salvation of Jesus Christ.
Yet not I but Christ liveth in me.

Here is the key to this verse. Are we going to allow Christ to live in us once we are saved or are we going to want to keep our own lives as they were? We make that decision. God never forces His will on our lives. Will we turn from our sin and follow Christ? If we do people will start to see a difference.

In my own case I give the example above about my words. I got saved on a trip to Iowa and then went back home to Massachusetts. But one of the things that I started doing was counseling with my pastor. I decided to go back to the same church that I had grown up in. The pastor met with me once a week. He could see that my self-image was destroyed by the years of drug abuse and alcohol. He gave me a book by Norman Vincent Peale call “The Power of Positive Thinking.” That, along with my daily Bible reading, changed my life. It gave me a new vision of what life could be like if I would just take the high road instead of the low road. All I needed to do was allow Christ to live within me. He would replace my hatred and anger with His love, peace, joy and hope.

I started to change. My whole attitude towards life changed. I stopped going into work drunk in the middle of the night and I actually started becoming more knowledgeable in the things in the workplace. I started to take on more responsibility at work and become much more respected. People could see that my life was drastically changing. I was no longer the kid that had long hair and just came in and did his job and got out of there. I was someone who started to interact with others. I was someone who was determined to get ahead instead of staying behind. But more than anything else I was someone who showed trust and compassion to others. I was someone who people could look at and say “That man has changed. There’s a difference in his life.”

That difference was allowing Jesus Christ to live in me as a part of me. It was Christ that was living in me. He was guiding and directing me. My life was so different and yet I still held on to some of those former sins. There were still things in my life that needed to be changed. Although I was walking and allowing Christ to live in me, my flesh still had its way at times. It wasn’t near as bad as it was before but it was definitely still evident. I was working out my salvation.
And the life that I now live I live by faith in the son of God.

My walk started to be a walk of faith. I started praying and believing God. I read his word daily. In fact in the two years after I got saved I read through the Bible twice. I had been watching the 700 Club shortly after I got saved and Pat Robertson said that a person should read the Bible through in a year to really gain insight into God’s word. I did that twice in the next two years. That foundation has done so much for me as my walk with Christ has continued. It was a tremendous boost to my faith. Granted, reading through Leviticus and Chronicles and those difficult books was very hard the first time through, and even the second time through. But as I started to understand how it all fit together those books took on more meeting. And when I understood that Christ fulfilled the law and become our sacrifice, reading Leviticus was a delight! My eyes are actually open to the price that Christ paid for us. It took on new meaning and boosted my faith even more.

I started to walk in that faith. I started to pray with people. I started to pray for people. I became much more involved in the church because I had faith in Jesus. He was my guiding light now, not my former ways – even though some of them were still around. I was changing big time. Those friends that were closest to me saw the changes. I could also see that I still had part of the world in me because I still did some of those things I did before. I did that out of need to have their approval. I still did not want to get rid of my old friends. And it was impossible for me at the time to hang around them and not do what they were doing. I firmly believe that is why God brought me to Iowa – to put that old life behind me.

But my faith had me at a different level and I witnessed to them and shared Christ with them. A few of them accepted Jesus during this time. A few of them did not see enough difference in my life and rejected what I had to say. But I planted the seeds that God asked me to plant and that’s the important part. We can only do so much in a person’s life. Sometimes they will hear the message and sometimes they won’t.
Who loved me and gave himself for me.

This comes back to the first statement In this passage. Except in the beginning of this passage he does not tell us why Jesus gave himself for us. It’s because He loved us. Yes, while I was still in sin Jesus loved me. While I was still cursing His name, He loved me. While I was doing everything I could to run away from Him, He loved me. While I was wallowing with the pigs in the mire, like The Prodigal Son, He loved me.
I always need to remember that He chose me. He chose you. Somewhere in our lives seeds were planted and the Holy Spirit worked on those seeds to convict us of sin and righteousness and judgment. Gradually He draws us closer and closer to His side because He loves us. He wants us to be a part of His family. He wants us to see what He has done on the cross for us. He wants all of us to be born again, to be saved. He wants you. He loves you and He gave himself for you.
Are you planting those seeds into other people’s lives? Do they know what is different about you? What are you doing to let people know that Jesus loves them? It only takes one seed. There’s an old chorus that says “It only takes a spark to get a fire going.” What fires are you lighting in other people’s lives? Is your testimony a shining example of a life of Christ? If not, are you working out your salvation with fear and trembling, submitting more to your Lord and Savior every day?
21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Allow God’s grace to transform your life. If you are trusting in your works to get you to heaven, stop! Don’t make Christ’s sacrifice of no avail. He died to set you free. He died so you could accept that grace by faith and be saved. Saved from the depths of hell, where all who are not born again will arrive someday. Saved from your own mistakes, shame and guilt here on this earth. Saved from a life that may have a lot of meaning on this earth, but has no heavenly reward waiting for you. Saved from yourself as well.

Once you are saved, don’t stop there. Don’t take His grace for granted. He expects you to grown, to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12). He does not expect you to stagnate and be unfruitful. His desire is for you to become who He made you to be. He formed you in your mother’s womb! (Psalm 139:13). He has known you all your life. He called you and chose you to be His vessel. (Jon 15:16). Become all you can be in Christ! He has so much waiting for you – things you cannot possibly imagine (Eph 3:20). His ways are higher than yours – let Him take you there! (Is 55:8-9). Answer His call!

Be blessed.

Between On and Start

It was a day I will not forget.  I have a driver who takes me to my chemo appointments in Mason City every other Wednesday.  He has been an enormous blessing to me and my wife throughout the two years I have been going to those.  He does it and asks nothing, but we give him gift certificates to a restaurant he likes as a token of our appreciation.  After all, it is a thirty-eight-mile trip one-way, and with today’s gas prices, it is costing him quite a bit to do this.

This past Wednesday, he told me when he arrived at my house that his car had trouble starting that morning.  It cranked for a while before it would start.  He thought maybe the battery was going bad.  He decided he would take it to a relative who ran a shop when we got to Mason City.  We had no problem getting up to the Cancer center.  He dropped me off and went straight to the shop, where he found out his battery was fine.  The mechanic said it was probably a bad spot on his started and he would most likely have to replace the starter soon.  He came back to the Cancer center and waited for me to finish.

We went out to the car and it started fine.  But the shifter would not shift out of park!  He tried and tried with no success.  It would not budge.  I called my mechanic, and he suggested we try pushing the brake down hard a few times to try and engage the shift interlock.  That didn’t work.  He suggested we take the bolt off that connects the shift interlock with the shift lever.  We did not have the tools for that.  I thanked him and decided to call the Ford garage in town, possible they had a mechanic that could come and help us out.

The service director answered the phone and I told him our dilemma.  He suggested we take the key and hold it between on and start with the motor off and then try shifting it.  That worked!  We then put it in neutral and started it.  We were on our way.  We had two more stops to make, and did not put it back in park either time.  But at the second start, we were both going in, and could not get the key out while it was in neutral.  I guess you can only take it out when in park.  Being in a safe place, and parked a little way off from other cars, we left the keys in and the doors unlocked and went it.  The car stayed there!

On the trip home, the cruise control would not engage at one point.  He tried several times, but to no avail.  Later in our drive he tried again and it kicked in.  Four problems, all within the steering column, in one day.  Not a good sign for his car with only 76,000 miles on it!  He was going to talk to his mechanic as soon as he got to town!

Sometimes our walk with the Lord can be like our time with that car and the shift lever problem.  We will come to a comfortable place in our walk with Him. We are open to His blessing, His grace and His mercy.  But we are not doing anything to pass those blessings on to those around us, which is what we are supposed to do.  We are stuck between on and start!  Jesus told us, in His sermon on the mount, that:

Matthew 5:13-16 King James Version (KJV)

13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

This is a mandate to take what He has so freely given to us and give it to others.  We just can’t seem to get up the courage to start doing something for God.  But we are called to the mission field we are in.  God has given each of us a circle of friends that need to be reached with the Gospel.  No one else has the same mission field.  Our family, our friends and our business associates all need to hear about God’s love for them.  

 Hebrews 12:1-2

12 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God

It is time to put our lives in drive – start to run with patience the race that is set before us.  We do this by remembering what Jesus endured for us, and by looking at how so many that have gone before us have accomplished being salt and light. Their testimony should spur us on to do for others as he has done for us!  Let’s DRIVE!

 

Be blessed

Changing Times

In a couple weeks, we willl be changing our clocks, turning them ahead one hour for daylight savings time (DST).  There are many states that are contemplating leaving them at that time instead of turning them back again in November.  Right now, I believe ony two states leave their clocks at the same time all year, Indiana and Arizona.  Could be wrong there, though.

Can you imagine the confusion as neighboring states are on different times?  I think Massachusetts is considering staying on DST, but the other New England States are not.  So one state in the middle of a five state region will have a different time 5 months out of the year.  There are a lot  of people from New Hampshire and Rhode Island who cummute into Mass. every day and visa versa.  Every day they will face a time change!

I have heard rumors that our president is considering keeping the clocks at DST Time year round and doing away with the time change.  If many states are going to do it, I think it should be a national mandate.  The whole country should be the same when it comes to time, spllt up by the time zones we have.  It will make life much simpler for us all.

There is a solution to this change conundrum.  But in our lives, changes can come when we least expect it.  Usually it is out of our reach to control the coming change.  I can think of several in my life, but none as dramatic as March 10, 2016 when I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a cancer of the blood system that my doctor said would take at least two years of therapy too overcome, if it worked.  Almost everything in my life would change.

We had some warning of what was coming.  Two pneumonias in three months made my home doctor curious, so he did a CT scan and they found lesions on my bones that looked like Myeloma.  But it was not official until the bone marrow biopsy came back on March 10.  My mind was prepared for the diagnosis.

My job, selling insurance face to face with employees, would be put on hold for two years.  Big restrictions as travel and physical exercise or play would be curtailed.  Medications would slow me down and put me at risk in many ways.  I went into it not knowing the complexities or all this, but have taken on the changes one by one.  They have been intense.

What could I do?  I could have worried and fretted until I was distraught.  I could have gone into a depression  and thought my world was collapsing.  I could have blamed God and gotten mad at God.  I could have become angry and lashed out at those around me.  I could have taken the low road, like so many people do.  This change was not fair and I did not want it.

None of that would change the change comming.  I was not in control of this change, but I knew who was.  I knew God could do anything, so rather than have any of the reactions I just mentioned, I went to the ultimate authority for answers.  

No, I should restate that.  I did not seek answers as to why.  I sought Him.  His mercy, His grace, His peace, His joy, His comfort.  I gave Him praise, for God is the one who is in charge of this change.  I rejoiced because I knew He would be with me no matter what came my way.  He is my source for all things good in any situation.  He will give me strength to go through the batttle.

Then, in the middle of the storm, in the middle of this drastic change in my life, He started to give me words.  Words of rhyme to write down – words to songs and poems to bless His people with.  Words of a teacher – teaching His truths to His people.  Two blogs were started.  A ministry sprouted out of this change.  A change in the midst of a change.  A wonderful, meaningful change that would touch many and dramatically increase my faith.

Two stem cell transplants and two years of chemo have come to pass.  Still 8 months to go.  Over 700 poems written.  Studies through 5 books of the bible, including every Psalm, have been written.  A book is in the beginning stages.  All God given and inspired.  All to bless His church.  The nasty change the enemy threw at me became a blessing to hundreds and a life changing event for the good for me.

How did I do this, seeing all that I went through?  Two verses tell the whole story.  Two verses that drastically changed my life in a hotel room almost 40 years before. Two verses that moved me from Mass to Iowa.  Two verses that told me to marry a young girl back then, and she became the most amazing caregiver a person could ask for.  Two verses I have built my life on through every battle.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all thy heart and lean not unto your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths”

I trusted Him in the storm.  I knew He would be with me through the whole thing so I did not need to fear or doubt that He would bring me through.  I knew my mind and understanding could not be trusted, so I trusted in His.  He knows me better than I know myself.  I acknowledged that He is in the midst of the storm, and He could calm the sea.  I allowed Him to direct every step, every little healing, every pain, every bit of energy I had.  He was the director of my recovery and I would ppraise Hin for that ebery day, every hour, every second.

On top of that, He brought prayer warriors into my life.  Some were already there, some came out of nowhere because God brought the to me.  All across this country, some in  Europe, a young man in Uganda and others have been praying and asking God for favor and healing.  Many, many prayers have been answered and many more will be as we go down the path.  They have provided strength every day.  This community is among them.  From the depths of my soul, thank you!

I am now in remission and doing maintenance chemo.  This change in my life has been a huge blessing. There are times I feel that I was called to have cancer so I could spread the word that Jesus can bring us through anything life may throw at us.  The plan is to go out and share His truth wherever I am welcome.  This change is for this time – whether it is DST or not!

Be blessed

A.S.K. – The Key to Prayer Chapter 3B – We Must be Understood

If I decide to travel to a foreign country as a missionary or just on vacation, I need to have an understanding of the language that is being spoken. If I do not then it will be very difficult to have effective communication with the people that I am talking to.

I’m an insurance salesman. When I talk to clients about the products that I sell, I need to talk in language that they will understand. It would be easy for me to list off the benefits quickly and use all the acronyms that insurance tends to have. But if I don’t show them how those things will benefit them then I will not be communicating effectively with them. They will hear me but the benefit of my programs will go right over their heads.

It’s one thing to be heard and it’s another thing to be understood. Now we can go to God with all the prayers we want but we have to speak in a way that He understands. I know that God knows every language on the face of the Earth. This is not a language issue. This is an issue of going to God with a heart and words that communicate with Him on the level that He wants to communicate with us.

Being understood is the second key pillar in carrying on effective communication in our prayer life. And there is one key ingredient to being understood by God – faith. If we talk to God with faith then He understands our prayer.

Hebrews 11:6 King James Version (KJV)
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

The author says it is impossible to please God without faith. You might ask what about the unbeliever who reaches out to God and asks in prayer. Romans 12:3 tells us that God has given to every man The Measure of Faith. I believe that what this means is that everyone is given the same amount of faith to start with, we just all have that faith given out to different areas of our life.

For example, I have decided in my life to place a large portion of my faith in God. I have enlarged that faith in God because I have diligently sought Him and have spent a lot of time in His word. I still place some of my faith in other things, like my bank, my insurance company, my car, my house (that it won’t cave in), etc. My brother on the other hand, places his faith in science. He trusts science to give him that answers to the things I have faith about, like the origins of the universe and this earth. He has some faith in God because I have heard him say he will pray about certain things. If he would diligently seek God, a larger portion of the faith he has been given would start to trust God.

Even the unbeliever who reaches up to God and asks for healing for a loved one or for knowledge and wisdom when looking at a new job will catch God’s ear because they are extending just that small amount of faith that’s needed for God to hear them.

Hebrews 11:6 also tells us that that our faith must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. If that doesn’t tell you that He answers prayers, I don’t know what does. Those rewards are the answers to our prayers. When we call out to God in faith we are automatically implying that He is and we are automatically implying that He will reward us in our prayer. What’s the use for calling out to Him if we don’t think that’s true? As we seek after God, most often we learn about Him through His Word.

Romans 10:17 King James Version (KJV)
17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Diligently seeking Him means that we give all we have to search for God, His will, His Word and His mission for our lives. We do this through reading the word, and through meditating on that word. As we do, that measure of faith He has given us points more and more to faith in God. as we believe in God and believe that He is a rewarder of those that seek Him out.  That seeking also produces more faith in us and we will be understood even better as we grow in our Christian faith.

On the other side of the spectrum are those that don’t have full trust in their prayers. In James, they are called double-minded.

James 1:6-8 King James Version (KJV)
6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

The double-minded man is someone who doesn’t ask in faith, he just asked because it’s a popular thing to do.  He doesn’t really think that God will accomplish what he is asking for. James compares this to a ship and is tossed to and fro in the wind. I think of the movie The Perfect Storm when they are being tossed about. Or the disciples on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus was sleeping during the storm. They woke them and He calmed the storm and said “Oh ye of little faith”. (Matt 8:23-27). Did Jesus really expect them to calm the storm, or did He say this because He had told them they were going to the other side, and they doubted that they would make it? The disciples at this time, in the middle of the storm, were double-minded. They just did not know what to do in such a storm.  James says a double-minded man should not expect to receive anything from God!

Here are just a few verses that tell us why we should have having faith when we pray:

Jeremiah 32:17 King James Version (KJV)
17 Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:
Philippians 4:13 King James Version (KJV)
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Mark 11:23-24 King James Version (KJV)
23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
Matthew 17:20 King James Version (KJV)
20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
All of these verses, and many more, tell us that faith makes things possible that we might deem impossible. I could go through whole a whole litany of impossible situations that were turned around because people believed God but I’m not going to do that. Instead I can just use my own testimony the short version.

In March of 2016 I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma stage 2. Stage 2 typically is not very favorable. But from the very outset I believed God and I believed He had a plan. I stood on my life-verse – Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”  I was calm, and just trusted Him. I never doubted His mercy.  I went through two stem cell transplants in the period of 6 months. My right shoulder gave out on me for no apparent reason and I’m right handed. I became extremely weak after the second transplant, barely able to walk around with a walker in my home. But I’ve never stop trusting God and knowing that He had a purpose and a reason. In fact, even at my lowest point, I would say “God has been very merciful to me”. I always approached everything with the faith that He was going to completely heal me.

I never had any side effects from chemo, like mouth sores, upset stomach, diarrhea or anything else. None of these things affected me. They told me my shoulder would probably not start working again or if it did it would take at least 2 years. It started working in 8 months and it is almost back to normal. The neuropathy seems to be getting better and I’m still believing God for full healing there.

Many prayed that the diagnosis was wrong, and that I would be instantly healed. I was not. Many, around the world, are praying now that God will continue to move – He is. He had a plan for the 2 years that have gone by so far! God has given me a ministry I never even dreamed of – online!

The Holy Spirit has spoken to me songs and poetry almost daily. Since the beginning of this cancer I have written over 700 poems and songs of praise and comfort, and shared them on my Psalmist page and a Facebook page, which has over 3,000 followers. On my other blog on this platform I have done studies through the books of Philippians, Ephesians, Psalms and James. I have been in the word more than ever in my life. Through all of this I have had thousands of encouraging comments and messages on how people have been touched by the words, a few people have been saved by the words, and some were healed. God gets all the glory!

This is a ministry that most likely would not have happened if I had not been sick for so long. I most likely would not know any of you who are reading this post right now, and I would not have been blessed by your blogs. God had a purpose for this in my life, and the result is only just beginning. As a rewarder of my faith, I know He has more in store. I’m looking forward to the day that I can go out and minister the gift of healing in other churches around the Midwest. God has given me a platform to shout His praises and I intend to do that very thing. All because, when this all began, I prayed the prayer of faith and asked God to use this situation for His glory. I was just clay in His hands.

What are you going through that is hard? Glorify God because of it! Ask Him to use you in the middle of the storm. Ask Him to make you a blessing to others as you weather the storm that has you reeling in life. Don’t allow the situations you face to block out the mercy of God.

God understands faith. To effectively communicate with God first we must be heard and then we must be understood by praying the prayer of faith. In the next lesson we will talk about the Third pillar of communication and that is expecting a response. Stay tuned

A.S.K. – The Key to Prayer : Chapter 1A – Prayer is a Conversation with God

Some people just have a knack for carrying on a good conversation. They have a natural inquisitiveness that knows the right questions to ask and keep the conversation going. When I was on the road all the time I remember listening to a talk show host named Jan Michaelsen on WHO in Des Moines. He was exceptional in knowing the right questions to ask to his guests. He was able to keep you listening to a strong message mixed with his humor.  I marveled at the ability he had to stay focused with any person that he came in contact with.

Are you a good conversationalist? I am not. I try to talk to someone and I just fumble around for different things to ask most of the time. Unless it’s somebody I know really well I just don’t have those questions top-of-mind. I used to go to a lot of networking meetings held by the Chamber of Commerce and different organizations and I could just not get the knack of walking up to somebody and starting a conversation. It always seemed to not get very far. This is a skill I hope to work on when I get back out and see people again.
Prayer can be a conversation with God. It can be a give and take on many different levels if we are keenly in tune with the Holy Spirit. The biggest problem we have is taking the time to listen in the middle of our prayers and they becomes just a request and not a conversation. We can look at the Bible and see many examples of conversations with God. Here I just a few:
Gen 3:9-13 – Adam and God have a conversation about eating from the Tree of Life
Gen 4:9-15 – Cain and God discuss Abel and the consequences of his disappearance
Gen 17:15-19 – Sarah discusses with God about having a child in her old age
Gen 18:23-33 – Adam pleads wit God over Sodom and Gomorrah
Exodus 3:11-4:17 – Probably the longest conversation in the Bible was Moses and God                     when Moses was commissioned for the task ahead at the burning bush
Exodus 32:30-35 – Moses admits Israels sins
Job 38-42 – God and Job exchange words
Isaiah 6:8-13 – Isaiah’s commission to go to the people
Acts 9:4-6  Paul on the road to Damascus.
Many of the prophets held short conversations with God.  One of the things I notice is that the further we get into the word the less we see people having conversations with God. Man becomes so entrenched in himself and in his everyday situations that he no longer converses with God.  He just takes his request to God and then leaves without listening.
I think that God wants to have conversations with us. He wants to speak to us even more than we want to speak to Him. He wants to ask us questions and see where our hearts are. If you look at the Psalms real closely you will see several times that David speaks and the Lord speaks within the same Psalm. This is the type of prayer that we should be praying. Allowing God to actually fit into our conversation and into our words as we listen to him in between what we say to Him.
I have had only a few such conversations, and each time I walked away with a greater sense of God.  When He starts asking questions, they are not the simple things we usually converse about about, like weather and sports.  His questions dig deep into our lives and cause us to pause and reflect on the path we are on.
I remember one particular time that I had a short conversation with God.  I was at Pure Life Ministries and was walking on their prayer trail listening to a CD testimony.   The missionary in India was sharing that he had started stalking a lady hoping to develop a relationship with her despite the fact that he was married.  As he sat outside her house, all set to go to the door, God spoke to him and asked him if he had any idea how many people would be affected if he did this thing.  Then God asked me the same question – did I have any idea how many people were affected by my sins.
The weight of that question dropped me to my knees and I flung off the headphones and started weeping.   I could think of the affect on my family and I asked God to open my eyes.  As He did, I saw my employer who had fired me over my sin, I saw my church and other churches.  I saw friends who trusted me.  I asked Him how I could ever make it up too them.  He kept showing me people and the weight of that was incredible.  I just kept weeping, down on my knees.  I said Lord, show me the way to make it right.  Then He showed me the cross.  He said “My Son is the way.  Follow Him.”  I will, Lord, I will.  This was the end of the conversation, but not the story,
The next morning, at around 2 in the morning, I could not sleep.  I walked out on the ridge, down to the life-size cross that was erected there at the top of the prayer trail.  I looked at the cross and fell at the foot of it weeping again.  For the next 45 minutes, I slowly prayed Psalm 51 over and over.  God had touched me deeply and I was never the same after that.
When we have this kind of conversation with God we can’t help but take a hard look at ourselves and make changes.  This type of close encounter is one we will never forget and we should strive to have that intimate time with Him.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible now is the one that says “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). I’ve come to realize what that means even more intimately after my study in the Psalms. It means that when we still ourselves and our mind and our thoughts and wait on God He will reveal himself to us.
They say it takes about 20 minutes of concentration to block everything else out and just focus on one thing. I would guess most of us, including myself, do not take 20 minutes to block things out before we go to prayer, before we listen for God. Let us all work harder at stilling ourselves before Him and then listening to what He has to ask us so that we can have a conversation with God and enjoy a much more intimate prayer life.

A.S.K. – The Key to Prayer : Chapter 1 – What Is Prayer?

The storm was threatening to meet us about 45 miles before we reached home. The forecast as for the rain to change to snow, and that snow would be blowing in on 30-40 mph winds. I with a 3-hour drive ahead of us, we started out hoping for the best and saying a prayer that the storm would not produce what was forecast. As we traveled closer and closer, I kept checking the future radar, and nothing changed. The snow had actually reached to just north of our destination on it’s steady march to the southeast.

We made a stop about an hour from home and once again I checked the radar, expecting to see the snow closing in on us. Much to my surprise, a dry patch had worked its way into the storm center and it was starting to influence the advancement of the snow. Actually, the snow was now moving backwards, traveling to the northwest instead of towards us. This is unheard of in Iowa! Snow just doesn’t travel that way. I had spent some time with God in prayer, and my petition was heard and answered. The rest of the drive, there was absolutely no precipitation.

If you asked a hundred people, you would probably get 50 or 60 different answers. Some might say it is meditation to reach a higher level of consciousness. Some might say it consist of bowing to the East 5 times a day while petitioning their God. Others would say it I dancing and chanting around a fire to appease a higher spirit. Then some might say it is just crawling inside yourself and thinking about what you’d like to become. The interesting thing is that all of these answers are correct! Prayer is different to everyone and they all have their own method of accomplishing it. For this study, we will stick with the Christian religion alone, but may make reference to other belief systems along the way. To cover all religions and all beliefs would simply take too much time. Besides that, the things we bring up here would be somewhat the same in other religious practices, and can be tailored to those as well.

According to the on-line dictionary, prayer if defined as
“a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.”

Wikipedia carries this definition:
“Prayer (from the Latin precari “to ask earnestly, beg, entreat”)[1] is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship through deliberate communication.”

In the Bible, the Hebrew Old Testament word used for prayer is “tephilla”. This word means to entreaty supplication, or intercession for someone else. It can also be a spiritual hymn or song. It is used 77 times in the Old Testament, always with a sense of reverence. Some of the scriptures that use this word are:

1 Kings 8:28
28 Yet have thou respect unto the prayer (tephilla) of thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer (tephilla), which thy servant prayeth before thee to day:
2 Chronicles 7:14-15
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
15 Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer (tephilla) that is made in this place.
Psalm 4:1
4 Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer (tephilla).

In the New Testament the Greek word is “proseuche”, and can mean prayer to God or a place set aside for prayer. If you go back to the root it actually comes from a word meaning to wish for. It is used 37 times in the New Testament. A few verses where this is used:

Matthew 21:22
22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer (proseuche), believing, ye shall receive.

Acts 6:4
4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

Philippians 4:6
6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Now all that is wonderful, but it really doesn’t tell us what prayer actually is, does it? The definitions and the Biblical words don’t tell us how to go about praying – how to accomplish it in practical way. That is what we will attempt to do with this study.

This chapter will focus on what prayer is. We will look at 4 methods of defining prayer, each a little different than the other. Then we will investigate scripture to show how these 4 principles do the best to define prayer. These 4 areas are conversation with God, communication with God, faith-in-action, and the core principal of this book – A.S.K.! In the ensuing posts, we will look at each one of these individually to give us all a better understanding of what prayer really is.