W is for Will

Hi everyone, and welcome to week 23 of The ABC’s of Contentment. Today we’re on the letter W, and W stands for the word Will. There’s two verses today. The first verse is James 5:14 where it says, “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.” The second verse is James 4:14b-15 where it says, “You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” Again, today’s word is Will and this is a very touchy subject. Some Christians could look at those verses and they could say, “Shouldn’t we expect miraculous healing? The age of miracles is still with us, right?” That’s a good question. I’ve done a lot of research on the subject. As you know, one of my favorite spiritual mentors is Joni Earecksom Tada. I mention her a lot because she’s been very influential on my thinking throughout my life when it comes to subjects like this. She actually went to many faith healing services when she first had her accident and she wrote a pamphlet called, “Where’s My Miracle?” When we’re done and I upload the video, I’m going to leave a link to the pamphlet in the description. In it, one of the first things she says is that the age of miracles is still with us. She says the mistake in this line of reasoning fails to understand the purpose for miracles in the New Testament. Miracles had a special place at the time of Christ because they proved who He was and who He claimed to be- the Promised One of Israel. Miracles had a special place at the time of the apostles because they proved they too were who they claimed to be. She goes on to talk about how all of this was happening before we had the New Testament written down. So anyway, we live in a society where we want everything to be a quick fix. However, God is not required to stick to a formula. Just because He did something in the Old Testament times, doesn’t mean He has to do it the exact same way now. Look at me. Do I believe in miracles? Yes. Take for instance my birth. The way I survived when I was two months premature; that shouldn’t have happened. The only way that can be explained is a miracle of God, and I’m alive to tell about it and proclaim His good news. When I had the surgery, we didn’t know that it would turn out as well as it did. But God did. The same thing happened when I was born premature in the Neonatal Unit. God had His hand on the doctors. He knew how things were going to turn out. He had a special plan. God worked through the doctors as I believe He works through people today. However, people have come up to me over the years and they’ve prayed for me many times as if prayer is what’s going to make me rise out of my wheelchair. You know what? I appreciate prayer because I do need prayer to deal with my disability on a daily basis. But people cannot make me rise out of my wheelchair. It hasn’t happened and I don’t expect it to. Does that mean that I did something? No. Does that mean that my birth was caused by a sin my mother committed? No. It means that God had plan, God has a Will, God has a purpose, things turned out the way they did, and that’s okay. I have to be thankful that I’m living, that I’m able to do what I’m able to do, and just have thankful heart. Here’s another example of a miracle; a story that my friend Jessica shared with me. Another church that she went to a while ago had somebody who was deaf in both ears, which means she couldn’t hear at all. So people prayed over her, and Jessica’s dad and the kids started talking and she was covering her head. He was like, “Are you okay?” She said, “They’re talking too loud.” So then, just to make sure that he wasn’t crazy, he started talking to her softer and softer and she could hear him. Again, the only way stuff like that can be explained is by miracles of God. So why does God allow some people to be healed and some not? Or is it just the way we think of healing in our society? I don’t have all of the answers. I don’t have the mind of God. But I do know that, like I said, God reserves the right to heal or not heal people physically as He sees fit. If He believes that physical healing is how they’re going to serve Him best, then He will. However, if He doesn’t feel that physical healing is the best thing for them, then He won’t. He is in control of all things. That’s what sovereignty and God’s Will is all about. Another great speaker, Elizabeth Elliott (she is in heaven now) said, “God’s will is never exactly what you expect it to be.” Amen. I know that. I’m a living example. My biggest problem with faith healers on T.V. is that people have a tendency to give them all of the credit. As if the faith healers are God, and God is not. In my mind, if those people really had that gift, (again, I’ve done a bunch of research) why are they making money healing people? Why are they going on extravagant vacations? They should be using their gift to honor the Lord and bring glory to Him, not themselves. When I was born and doctors didn’t think that I would make it, my mom and my family said, “Thank you Lord.” That’s what I wish people would say more often, but they don’t. They tend to give credit to the one human being as if they’re God; and only God is God. If it wasn’t for God pulling me through my birth, I wouldn’t be here today. It’s only because of God, by His grace, that I’m still breathing; even with some of the health issues I face with cerebral palsy. I don’t expect in my case (while I know healing can happen) the cerebral palsy to go away; and that’s okay. Instead, I’d rather study God’s Word and just learn how to make my joy complete in all circumstances that come my way. That’s what I’m really stressing in the series; how do you make your joy complete in all circumstances? Even when God doesn’t give you everything you ask for. It’s like, think about when you were a child. You knew Christmas was coming and you had toys and gifts that you wanted, but did you get everything on your Christmas list? No. Even when you went to the store with your mom or dad, did you get that piece of candy all the time? No. Why not? Because a loving parent doesn’t give you everything that you ask for. The same goes with God. Just because we ask for healing, and there’s nothing wrong if we ask Him for healing; the Bible talks about it. That doesn’t mean that God’s going to give it to us all of the time. My concern, and that’s why I started this series, is that as Christians, we tend to pray for healing; and that’s it. While praying for physical healing is not a bad thing, it shouldn’t be all that we pray for. If we don’t get that physical healing, like I think of that physical healing that the doctors thought I would receive when I had the surgery, we should be praying, “Lord, can you please help me learn how to live with this? Show me how to live and get through it; depend on you and be a blessing to others.” I hope that makes sense. I think I covered everything. Now let’s see, and that there’s my friend Jessica who who’s behind the scenes. She reminds me and keeps me on track. Just like Jodi says in another quote from “Where’s My Miracle?” She says, “On a scale of one to ten, how quick are you to ask God to remove that painful situation from your life? On the same scale, how quick are you to share the gospel with others? Remember, God saved you so that you could share the gospel with others. And your painful situation may be His best platform to showcase that.” Remember, if He doesn’t heal you, it’s not about you. It’s for His glory; to bring glory to Him. I think that says it all. Amen. Now let’s close in prayer. Lord, please make my desires the desires of your heart. Give me compassion for those who have greater afflictions than mine. Help me to be made selfless. Give me patience and endurance as I learn to pray according to your Will. Thank you that you’ve brought me to a place where I can accept the Cerebral Palsy as a gift and remind me on a daily basis, through your word and through people, that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Thank you for healing me, not physically, but spiritually, because our world needs more of a spiritual healing than a physical healing. In Jesus name, Amen. That’s it everybody. Thanks for watching. I’ll see you next time when I talk about the letter X and X will be about the history of Xmas Bye. God Bless.
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V is for Vase

Hi everyone. Welcome to week 22 of The ABC’s of Contentment. Today we’re on the letter V and V stands for Vase. I told you I’m going to give you a condensed version of what I did for my Awana girls about how becoming a Christian is like becoming a Vase and give you a gospel message, so that’s what I’m gonna do. Here we go. First, here’s all the pieces that I made when I learned how to make a Vase. Again, this took 11 weeks, and all these pieces could represent how even when we come to the Lord and start becoming a Vase, growing in the Lord and getting to know Him is a process. It doesn’t just happen overnight like things do in the movies. Here’s the finished product that I made, and here’s a yellow one that my friend Jessica made. The reason I’m showing two different colored Vases is to show that not every Vase, not every life, is going to be the same. Sometimes we’re going to have different experiences and learn different things, even as Christians; but that’s okay. The important thing is that we grow in the Lord and get to know him; and when our time comes, we get to meet him face to face in heaven. The question is: are we ready for that? I once saw something on Facebook that a friend of mine had said, “Christians are people who are walking each other home.” That’s so true. Our goal is to help each other along. If we were all the same, relationships would be boring because we would have nothing to learn from each other. We’d all be robots. God never intended for us to be robots. Instead, he intended for us to be Vases. I’m using the Vase analogy because I thought it was appropriate. Remember Romans 9:20-21 that says, “Lord, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?” There’s a lot about pottery in the Bible, so I thought it was appropriate; here we go. Here’s the gospel. God had planned for us as humans to have a relationship with him and be together in heaven in paradise where everything would be perfect. When He created Adam and Eve, He only gave them one rule to follow. Can you imagine if you only had to follow one rule? That would be great, wouldn’t it? I think so. Anyway, they only had one rule to follow, but they fell. God said in Genesis 2:16-17, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” One thing that you learn about God and His Word is that when God says something, He means what he says. God is not a liar. Anyway, all they had to do was follow that one rule but they failed. So because of that, we humans are like broken Vases because of sin. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of glory of God.” So the Vase (our relationship with God) has to be repaired. In order to help repair the Vases, God sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” So now that Christ died for us and rose again, there’s hope! The Vase can be repaired! Yay! Acts 16:31 says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Then after we accept Christ as our Savior, we begin to be transformed into that beautiful Vase that God meant for us to be in the first place. Psalms 51:7 says, “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” From the day we accept Christ as our Savior, until the day we get to heaven, God is always working on us to complete that work that He started when we first became a Christian. Until the day we get to heaven, we’re like unfinished Vases. To become that finished Vase we have to do our part; it’s not all up to God. So how do we begin to become a finished Vase? Well, like I said, we meet with other Christians and learn from each other. Read his word and pray. We actually spend time with God and get to know Him. Philippians 1:4-6 says, “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Now the Bible doesn’t say anything about become a Christian and your life will be smooth-sailing. No. Just because you become a Christian doesn’t mean you won’t have problems. Look at the Apostle Paul; even when Saul became Paul, he got thrown in jail many times because he was preaching the Word of God. But he still never went back on his faith; even from inside the jail cell. He wrote letters to other believers to encourage them because he knew what it was like to be in the big bad world. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, the Apostle Paul says, “I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecution, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” See my strong muscles? Let’s face it: even though God forgives us, it’s not always easy for us as humans to forget the past. We all have things in our lives that we could look back and say, “I wish I hadn’t done that. What did I do that for?” As the Apostle Paul stated in that last verse, just because you become a Christian doesn’t mean you yourself forget what you did. The Vase may have blemishes, but it’s those blemishes that God uses in our lives to help us minister to others and show us how far we’ve come. The more you get to know the Lord (and this is why it’s so important to spend time with him in His word), the more you’ll be saying, “Thank you Lord for not removing those blemishes from my life. Thank you for what you brought me through. Thank you for who you are. Again, I could go on and on. So this is a condensed version of the gospel and if you’re interested in seeing the full lesson I did for the girls, come to my YouTube channel and look for the video titled, “How Becoming a Christian Is Like Becoming a Vase.” Thanks for watching everyone. If anybody has any questions about what I said, when I upload the video, feel free to leave questions or comments below. I’m here to help okay? Thanks for watching. I’ll see you next week when we talk about the letter W and W will be for Will. Bye everyone, God Bless.

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U is for Understanding

Hi everyone, and welcome to week 21 of The ABC’s of Contentment. If you’d have seen my laughter this morning, that is what contentment is all about. That is what happens when you’re content and joyful in Jesus. So anyway, like I said, it’s week 21, we’re on the letter U, and U is for Understanding. The verse that goes with the letter U is Proverbs 3:5-6. This is a famous, often quoted verse, and it says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Amen. This is a principle I’ve seen to be true in my life over and over again. One of the areas I saw it in was back in 2017 when I was working on learning how to make a vase for the lesson I did for my Awana girls. I did it for 11 weeks, and every week that I did it with Jessica, we put up a picture, I put it on my blog, and I wrote a short devotional. If you’re interested in checking it out, it’s on my blog. It’s a picture, a short devotional, and if anyone is a Sunday school teacher, I added activities for kids to do. So if anyone wants to use it as a curriculum, you’re welcome to do that. Anyway, moving on. I saw this to be true when I was learning how to make a vase. Little movements can be hard because of my limited hand dexterity. One of the things I first had trouble with was learning how to get the right heighth for the vase. We got to week eight and I finally learned how to get the right heighth for the vase. I worked on what’s called internal and external rotation, which is this. See, this is internal; now this is external. I know, it’s a simple movement, but when you have something like cerebral palsy, learning to do little things like that take time. That was a great day! That was a day when Jessica hardly helped me at all. I did the vase almost all by myself! However, that day Jessica took the picture just in time. Shortly after she took the picture, then I had a hard time getting my fingers to wrap around the play-doh. It was as if once we took away the containers, my brain said, “What’s going on?” My brain was used to doing internal-external rotation with the containers, but not by themselves. When someone has something like cerebral palsy, that’s what happens. When I’m used to doing something a certain way with my muscles, things take time. Change takes time, I should say. So of course, I’m going to leave a link to that great day on my blog. But like I said, the reason it looks so good in the picture is because my muscles had just been warmed up, so my mind was still fresh as to how it should be done. The same thing happens in Christianity. We don’t always Understand what the Lord is doing in our lives, but that’s okay; we just need to trust Him and know that He will reveal His perfect plan and His perfect timing. Again, I’ve said this many times, so I’m sounding like a broken record, but I don’t care. The question, the thing is, there’s always a lesson. Are we willing to learn that lesson and are we willing to see what that perfect plan is? His perfect timing; are we going to trust Him? Lord help me to remember that everything that happens in my life is in your will, and that your will is perfect. When I don’t Understand what’s happening in my life, help me to remember that. Thank you that in Your Word it says that someday I will understand and there will be no more tears. I look forward to the day when I will fully understand your ways. Amen. By the way, I forgot to mention that Joni talks about this in one of her radio broadcasts. There’s a song called “Someday He’ll Make It Plain” by a guy named Adam Geibel. I’m going leave the link to that broadcast in the description as well as a link to week 8 on my blog and you can look at it. Some things aren’t meant for us to Understand until we get to heaven and that’s okay. Like I don’t fully Understand why God didn’t allow the surgery I had to work 100% and let me walk without the walker; but I will someday. I look forward to that day. Well, that’s it everyone. Thanks for watching. I’ll see you next time when we talk about the letter V and V will be for Vase. Vase is going to be the week that we that we talk about a gospel message. I’ll show you a condensed version of what I shared with my girls. Bye. God Bless
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