2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters,[a] and rightly so, because your faith is …
I’ve been MIA to my readers, I apologize. After Abuela left, I started deep cleaning the house this weekend. It was cloudy and gray out, and the wind was thick and forceful.
The rain came and went, and came again. Harder. Faster. Stronger. Longer.
The warnings on the radio never said there would be a tornado in our county, and then the power went out, and the wind and rain concoction was so thick, it was actually white, flying horizontally in strips across the back yard.
My husband shooshed me and said, “That doesn’t sound like normal rain…”
and we sat on the couch, unable to pull up a wireless connection on our phones.
I turned my phone off to save battery power, and when I turned it on again I had multiple messages from friends across town asking if we were ok. Turns out, a tornado touched down in our neighborhood. We are less than a quarter-mile away from some damage, and half a mile away from the major damage. We are so fortunate that our street was missed, but since this is so close to home, literally and figuratively, we are praying hard for those in need.
This morning I traveled around the neighborhood to see the damage. The news reports keep changing, but roughly ten houses were demolished. 40 damaged severely, 40-60 others damaged mildly. Other parts of town weren’t so fortunate.
This picture speaks volumes about the power of a tornado, and the power of God.
Our God is not a mean, wrathful God. He did not cause this Tornado to punish anyone. It’s simply something that was allowed because it’s a part of nature.
It’s an example to me of the fact that you might be twisted and turned and bent over backwards, but God will not break you. He will put you through the storm, and test you to see if you still praise him in it.
Here are a few others. Imagine my curiosity and my obsession with this, since this was my first tornado.
God bless those families in need, who lost loved ones, and who have a long way to go to rebuild.
A conversation with a friend led to a talk about taking the next step in her relationship with God. She wanted to change the relationship from a simple existence to an intimate two-way relationship. We decided that the bottom line is that you dictate your own relationship with God. How close, how intimate. He never moves far away.
Here I list ways to grow in your intimate eternal love with Jesus. These are not organized by importance.
1. Pray about it. Speak to God like you would a friend. Express to him your desire to grow closer to him. Ask him to help you with this desire. You with be strengthened for “checking in” with him in the beginning. He will see you through the end.
3. Download the Bible on your smartphone! Here is a link to BibleGateway. You can either do this on the web or through your apps. Then, sign up for a daily reading plan. There are such choices as reading the Bible in a certain amount of days, reading in chronological order, and more. Faith comes by hearing/reading. The more you hear your lips on Jesus’ word, the more your heart will be filled.
4. Get involved in a Bible study group. This is an instant support or prayer group for you. The more you surround yourself with Christians and those seeking God, the closer you will be to him.
5. If you are having a hard time keeping God on your mind, try something simple like placing sticky notes with reminders that say “God,” or have Bible verses on them in places you run into daily. A good start would include the bathroom mirror, your car, wallet, notebook, and your desk. God is everywhere anyway, so keep moving them around. This should be a reminder of his presence.
6. Listen to Christian or other positive music. “Garbage in, garbage out,” is the old saying. Listen to K-Love. Here’s a great way to start, just YouTube Chris Tomlin, Hillsong United, JJ Heller, David Crowder Band, and Chris August.
7. Go to church. Start looking in your local area for a church that pulls at your heart, where you can feel God’s presence, and where the Bible is preached. Don’t sign anything! And you should never feel guilty. We are all sinners, and trust me, church is the exact place we belong. If you feel you are not welcome in a church because you are shunned for being a sinner, that is not the church for you.
8. Get involved in church activities or Christian organizations such as FamilyLife.
The more you participate, the more you will get out of it. The times that you are absolutely dragging yourself to go to something, or you really do not want to attend an event, that is when you need it the most! Also, contribute a monthly donation to the Christian-based organization of your choice. You won’t miss the money, because God will bless you tenfold.
9. Serve others. Specifically ask God to help you fellowship and teach his Word. Be on the look out for those who need your help. Strangers and those who do not ask are most likely those need the fellowshipping the most. God has a tendency to guide us to fellowship in areas of our own discomfort. Humble yourself to do his work, no matter where he needs you.
10. Praise God always. Although abstract, you will eventually come to realize that God has given you what you have, and he should be praised and thanked for those things. He opens doors for us, gives us talents, loves us, provides for us and helps us prosper, and is always near, ready and waiting for you to come to him.
Is that too much work for you? Then click here for a little humor and the “quick” version.
“Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (NIV)
Imagine for a moment what the full armor of God looks like. Imagine how whole, how heavy, how unbreakable it must be. We are told to “put on the full armour of God,” not just part of it. Not just a breast shield but no back plate. Not just a bullet proof vest, but no gun. Not just a knee pad, but no helmet. It is imperative to wear the full armor. Instead of me standing upon my rock and casting stones at you, I will not say it is bad to go to church but to not read the word of God. Instead, relate it to the physical armor; the more protected you are with the armor of God, the more you are gaurded against the devil. He is constantly at battle with the will of God. Even when we do not recognize him, he is lurking, watching, sneaking, plotting, slipping into our lives where ever and as often as he can. We need to be covered by the armor of God always.
What does the full armor of God look like? Here is my list of the most important battle accessories:
1. Church attendance: The reason is not just to show your face every week so that everyone thinks you are a good Christian, doing what you’re supposed to do. The reason is because we are all sinners, working on our relationship with God, and there is no better place but when we meet together to hear the word of God. Faith comes by hearing, and what better place to hear his word, than in his home? Keep in mind that where two or more people gather to discuss his word, there a church is located. The church is inside of us, a part of us.
2. Reading the Word of God: Reading the Bible is different from studying and learning the Bible. God encourages us to keep his scripture in our hearts, so that we may readily have his word on our lips and in our thoughts. Imagine trying to find a specific verse in the Bible, but not knowing the exact words, or in what book to look. Even an online search might not be able to help in that situation. That happened to me today, as I prepared for this post, and I was ashamed of myself. I want to know his word to the point where I can find the scriptures I know and love. Then, I will be able to draw strength in times of need.
How are we to know what God wants for us, or from us? It is all written in his word.
3. Praying/talking to God: What better way to communicate in a relationship than to talk with one another? Talking to/with God is very important. Realize that when we want to be “close” to God, he is already there, doing his part. It’s up to us to work on our end of the relationship to feel that closeness. It comes easily, but with a little practice.
Be able to laugh, cry, moan in agony, or speak quickly from excitement when talking to God. A conversation with him doesn’t need to be stale, professional, and lacking emotion. Be real! A good friend has set an example for me in her conversations with God. The emotion in her voice is pure when she prays. If we’ve just had a bible study or some fun time together, she might laugh a little in her voice. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not disrespectful, it’s beautiful. Speak with him often.
What if you tried for 30 days to use these battle tools to ward off the enemy? What if you really poured your heart into getting closer to God? You have nothing to lose, and you have eternal life to gain. God is so great. I pray you are protected in your battles, and equipped with the proper armor.
“Molar number thirty-one is touching the bone, and you need a root canal to take care of it. But don’t worry, these days we use more machines than our hands to do root canals.” I peered over at the x-ray on the screen, and even took a picture with my cell phone (don’t tell my dentist). I saw the tooth touching the bone deep down. I felt the pain that brought me to the dentist in the first place. That’s it. The anxiety began. A root canal? No wait, ANOTHER root canal? I’ve already had one, two years ago, and I thought I was too young at that time, and that it was just a fluke. But my dentist said it, so it must be true.
I waited some time this year to get my teeth cleaned, get the periodontal charting done, and have my new x-rays taken. Don’t worry, I brush and floss regularly, knowing dental problems are hereditary. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!) So let me step on my soap box for a moment. That scraping sound? That’s my soap box on the ground getting dragged across the room. *Ahem* Good dental hygiene is more than just brushing and flossing. Brushing does more than just freshen your breath, and flossing does more than remove the red meat you should reconsider eating from your teeth. Fruit and veggies are good for your teeth. Fruit actually works between your teeth to clean them. Gross and intriguing. Good dental hygiene means better overall health. (Cue scraping sound again, as I put my soap box back in the corner.)
I called my husband, who didn’t take the news well. It’s not that we had to pay for it all, I mean, the military will cover a large portion of the root canal and the crown, but it’s the holiday season, read: little extra moolah. Bad timing.
For the most part, my radio is always on K-Love radio station. It’s a national company with local stations, and I thank my Lord I live in a “K-Love city”. K-Love plays positive, encouraging music. Perfect for the workplace, or anywhere else.
So I had my radio on as tears streamed from down my cheeks at the thought of the pain of the root canal, and the feeling of it. Raise your hand if you’ve had one before, so I don’t feel so alone. For those of you lucky ducks with hands still on your chin and the computer mouse, let me describe a root canal for you.
Remember the “pipe cleaner” fuzzy things from elementary school? It’s a piece of wire, with an ugly scratchy fuzzy piece of something all over it. I used to bend them into all different shapes, and loop them together to make childhood masterpieces. Well the dentist takes a smaller version of the pipe cleaner, and sticks it in the nerve of your tooth, wiggles it around and then some. Or at least that’s what it feels like. Couple that with blinding light, weird office music, and the incessant drilling and hooping and hollering going on in there, it’s not a fun experience.
Back to the moment with tears streaming down my cheeks. Lucky for me, K-Love is known for playing “the right song at the right time,” and really, it’s God doing it, not just the staffers at K-Love. At that very moment, “Healing Hand of God” by Jeremy Camp came on the radio. I questioned, consulted my friends, and wondered, “Can God heal my tooth?” Silly me, of course he can!
So I pray, and ask you all to pray with me, that next Tuesday when I get the x-rays done at the dentist again, that my tooth will not be touching the bone, and that I will not need a root canal. In fact, the dentist will scratch his head, shove his glasses up on his nose, and say “Hmm.. well wait a minute now, it seems as though we’ve been mistaken. You’re teeth are in perfect condition, and you don’t need a root canal.”
I wrote a list the other night of things I expect God to do for me. Did you know you can do that? I didn’t, until my pastor kept preaching it over and over again. I’m trusting God so much that I expect these things to happen from God. I’m sure the road may be a little bumpy, as most things on the list require me to change first, but as far as my tooth goes, I know that God wants his favor on me. God wants nothing but healing and prosperity and goodness for his children, including me! Tooth be healed.
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.