Five Minute Friday: More

As soon as I read today’s word for Five Minute Friday, one verse of Scripture came to mind, Ephesians 3:20. We serve a God “who  is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” And almost immediately, a question came to mind: Do I really believe this? 

I want to respond with the cliche, “God says it, I believe it,” but when I look at my life I know this would not be honest. I struggle to believe God will do MORE THAN ALL I ASK OR IMAGINE.  I believe God is at work in my life, and yet years of asking and not receiving what I was hoping for have caused me to doubt this promise of Scripture. In my life, this especially applies to the area of healing.

Could this apparent contradiction between God’s Word and personal experience simply be from a lack of undnerstanding of God’s ways? What I see as a blessing, God is His greater wisdom may see as a hinderance to my spiritual growth. So beautiful promises such as this one must be balanced with the overall message of Scripture. 

God doesn’t always give us what we desire, because He knows in some cases what we desire isn’t the best for us.  While we are only looking at today, He is looking at eternity. I don’t claim to fully understand this verse, but I suspect we will understand it more fully when we see Christ Jesus face to face. And for now, I’m choosing to trust that God is always good, kind, and faithful, even when in my human mind all the pieces of the puzzle don’t fit together.

Judgment Begins at the House of God

America is in trouble! This is a message being spoken by Christian leaders all over our nation, from Billy Graham to Pat Robertson, from John MacArthur to Steve Strang (founder and president of Charisma Magazine). All of these believe that America is in danger of coming under the judgment of God. Many believe this judgment has already begun.

Signs are clear that America has lost its moral compass. According to an article on, since 1960, crime in the United States of America has increased by 371%, with juvenile crime up 920% since 1985. The homocide rate is the highest of any industrialized nation. The U.S. is now the world leader in divorce, teenage pregnancy, voluntary abortion, and illegal drug use.

Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham and Chairwoman of the National Day of Prayer, says America has gone astray. She is among those who have been crying out an alarm. “We live in a nation that has lost its soul. Our abundance has led to greed. Our freedom has become license to turn away from God and pursue the role of the prodigal. Our national religious heritage is being forgotten or ridiculed as irrelevant or old fashioned.” She added, “America has become one of the most sinful nations in the world. We have done more to destroy the morality of other countries than any nation in history. We have become the single greatest market on the globe for illegal drugs, and we lead the world in exporting pornographic magazines and films.”

So where is the church of Jesus Christ in the midst of this widespread moral decay in our nation? As many as 70 million Americans go by the name “Christian,” so why isn’t the church having a positive influence on our culture as a whole? Could it be because we have become so much like the world around us that we no longer have the ability to be the seasoning and preserving salt that Jesus called us as His followers to be? That we no longer shine a light on the corruption in our nation because that same corruption has invaded the church?  I agree with syndicated newspaper columnist Cal Thomas who recently wrote, “The Church needs fixing too… much of America’s major social problems can be put at the feet of the undisciplined, biblically ignorant, disobedient, uninformed, uncommitted, lethargic church.”

One reason for the condition of today’s church is that the church as a whole has abandoned the Scriptures and is preaching what Paul referred to in Galatians 1::6 as “another gospel.”  If Paul were alive and in America today, I believe he would again say, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:” (‭‭Galatians‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭KJV‬‬)

Many churches today preach what David Wilkerson called “an accommodating gospel,” one that is willing to do whatever is needed to make unbelievers feel comfortable. Instead of preaching the necessity of repentance and death to self, these churches exclusively emphasize God’s love and grace. Love and grace are definitely a part of the gospel, but so are God’s discipline and judgment.

In fact, 1 Peter 4:17-18 makes it clear that God’s judgment of a nation will begin among His people. “For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, ‘If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’” (‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4:17-18‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

So, in light of this truth, is there any hope for the American church? YES! But that hope will come with change. Here are a few of the things that need to change.

  • Christians need to return to God’s Word, the Bible. A recent article on declared America is now biblically illiterate. “Most Christians know enough about the Bible to be dangerous. The Bible in America is a massive industry ($2.5 billion) yet it is the best seller few read and fewer understand.” Change in our nation will require Christians to believe God speaks to us through the Bible and to remain in the Word daily.
  • James 1:22-25 makes it clear that just hearing (or reading) the Bible isn’t enough. We must begin to see it as our guidebook on how we are to live. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
  • As the church of Jesus Christ, it is our responsibilty to pray for our nation. Pray for repentance and forgiveness, beginning with God’s people. “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chr. 7:14).
  • Finally, Jesus’ church must love Him more than the things of this world. “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (‭‭1 John‬ ‭2:15-17‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

It is sobering to realize that we can no longer honestly call ourselves “one nation under God.” If we want to see that once again true, the change must begin with God’s people. As Jesus said, His true church will know what it is to be hated by the world. “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (‭‭John‬ ‭15:19‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

Spoons and the Savior

I believe the “spoon theory” has some validity. It is true, if you suffer with a disability or chronic illness, you have a limited amount of energy available and need to plan your day around how difficult each task is for you to complete. This theory says you wake up each day with a set of spoons. Spoons equal energy and ability to do tasks. Each activity costs you a certain number of spoons, and when they are gone you’re done for the day.

While I understand the rational behind the spoon theory, it has one major flaw – it leaves God out of the formula. Yes, it’s wise not to overdo it on any particular day, but if God has purposes for us to fulfill He can add supernatural grace and strength to what we lack. Enjoy reading this guest post, written by Jerusha Borden, a fellow member of God-Living Girls.

The last time I saw my older brother, I was being wheeled away in a wheelchair. I’d been visiting him and his wife while in the city for a medical appointment, and I was heading home. Excited to see my boys, I woke up early only to discover searing pain in my body, especially my back. It was so awful, I couldn’t even stand up.

I knew my plane was leaving at a certain time, and I only had a few minutes to get washed, dressed and pack up my things. But in that moment, I couldn’t imagine doing any of it.
Have you ever heard of the spoon theory? As it goes, if you suffer with a disability or chronic illness, you wake up each day with a set of spoons. Spoons equal energy and ability to do tasks. Each activity costs you a certain number of spoons. Getting dressed may be one spoon, for others five. Running an errand can costs several spoons. Exercise often costs the greatest amount of spoons. And when you run out of spoons, that’s it. You’re done for the day.

So what happens when you wake up with zero spoons? It certainly felt like it for me. I couldn’t move. I lay on my back in the guest room panicking. What was I going to do?

Sometimes we are slow to turn to God for help, and other times we aren’t. Usually when pain is present I our lives, we are much less likely to forget. So as I lay there, with only about thirty minutes to get out of bed and out the door, I called out to God for help.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

I’m not used to God moving quickly. Perhaps that’s my lack of faith showing through. But this is the fastest a prayer has ever been answered in my life. As soon as I finished praying for help, I gathered all my strength and stood up. It hurt like I can’t even describe.

Letting out a deep breath, I prayed for help again. I washed up and got dressed. The pain was great but God was greater. I felt His presence as He helped me accomplish these small things. A few minutes later my brother knocked on the door to tell me it was time to go. I told him I felt like I was dying and asked if he had any Advil. He came back with a cold bottle of water and a handful of pain meds. As I downed them, I prayed they would work fast.

God heard me again. As I hobbled to the car, the pain was great but I managed to get in. As we navigated through the airport, it felt less. Relief came as a support personal opened up a wheelchair and I sat down. I don’t love using a wheelchair. It makes me feel embarrassed, being the size I am. I’m always afraid of what people will think of me. I don’t know why spectator opinions matterso much to me. I’m working on that.

But, sitting helplessly in a wheelchair drugged up on pain meds is how my brother saw me last. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the negative. I could dwell on how it made me sad to see him walking off with the image of a somewhat crippled sister changing his image of a once agile sister who could bicycle as fast as he could. A sister who once jumped with him on trampolines. A sister who raced him up the hill after rolling down.A sister who could walk.

Yes, I could get caught up in that. And sometimes, I do. Reality is it hurts when you look back over the life changes that occur when your body goes through something unnatural. But there’s something else at work here. Where there’s the unnatural, there’s also the supernatural. And I’m not talking about science fiction.

Here’s the thing. The Saviour debunks the spoon theory every day. When we cry out to Him for help, He is there. Somehow on the day when I couldn’t move, I flew home, went grocery shopping and visited some friends. Normally, doing any one of those things would liquidate my short supply of spoons. But not when God intervenes. Through His power, my weaknesses are made strong. Through his power that day, my supply of spoons multiplied. In fact, I didn’t think about my energy level at all that day.

I think about that day often. I think about it when I’ve been standing too long and my legs ache with fire. I think about it after I’ve run errands and I’m recouperating in the couch. I remember my cry for help, and His beautiful provision. It still blows my mind I managed to get on that plane.

God allowed Naomi’s suffering to give birth to her greatest joy.He wants to help you when you’re weary. He wants to fill you up when you’re empty. His loving kindness is better than any spoon you’ll ever find. Relying on him is the only way you can leave your spoons behind.

That day in the airport, I was wheeled to a spot where I’d wait to get taken to the plane. The support personnel laid my bags on the floor next to me and said someone would be there to help me with them for boarding. Normally, I’d grab my phone and scroll through Facebook or browse through Pinterest while I was waiting. I couldn’t because my bag was out of reach. As I sat there, feeling vulnerable and alone, I witnessed something I might have missed with my phone in hand. A beautiful, spectacular autumn morning sunrise. As the sun rose up past office buildings and skyscrapers, it took my breath away.

Jesus fills our every need. Who knew that morning my greatest need was abandon my spoons and wake up with the sun?

Lessons From Job: Elihu Defends God

In Job 32, we are introduced to another person who has apparently been there listening to everything Job’s friends – Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar – have said.  We learn he was a young man, and because of this he had waited for the older and supposedly wiser friends of Job to finish before he chose to add his input to the conversation. But he was now angry at what he had heard and felt compelled to speak.

In Job 32-37, we learn what Elihu has to say.

  • Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar blamed Job’s suffering on some past sins, which Job consistently denied. Elihu, however, focuses on Job’s present sin, that of speaking wrongly of God during his suffering. In this, Elihu was correct. 
  • While Job’s friends were focused on proving he deserved what had happened to him, Elihu was more concerning with defending God. He wanted Job to see that the things he was speaking against God were wrong.
  • One of the greatest tests we face in suffering is continuing to trust God’s love and goodness when we don’t understand why we are hurting. God did not answer Job’s “why?” questions, and Job had become angry at Him, accusing Him of denying him justice and making his life bitter (Job 27:2). 
  • Much of what Elihu says is basically repeating some of Job’s own words back to him. For example, in Job 13:23-24, Job said to God, “How many wrongs and sins have I committed? Show me my offense and my sin. Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy.” Elihu paraphrases this in saying (Job 33:8-10), “But you have said in my hearing – I heard the very words – I am pure, I have done no wrong; I am clean and free from sin. Yet God has found fault with me; he considers me his enemy.”
  • Even though much of what Elihu said was correct, his words cannot all be taken as truth. For example, Elihu proclaims that God is answering Job’s questions – such as, “God, why is this happening to me?” – but Job just wasn’t listening (Job 33:13-14). This was not true. Even when God begins speaking to Job in the final chapters of the book, He does not answer Job’s whys.

(For more on God’s failure to answer Job’s whys, see last week’s article:

    So what can we learn by reading Job 32-37, where Elihu is speaking?

    1. Even when we have a wealth of Bible knowledge, like Elihu we will fall short in our attempts to understand the complexities of our own or others’ difficult circumstances. 
    2. Choosing to walk in faith in areas where we lack understanding is more important than having an explanation of what is going on.
    3. To place our faith in a person, we must first know he or she is trustworthy. Trials will touch our lives. No one is exempt. The best way to prepare ourselves to walk in faith when the tests come is to spend time in God’s Word, getting to know Him better. 
    4. Perhaps Elihu’s biggest mistake was having TOO MUCH to say. His monologue lasts through six chapters. Psalm 141:3 (NIV) says, “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” This is advice Elihu would have been wise to have followed. 

    Elihu had many words to share with Job, some wise and others not so wise.  He had a better understanding of the situation than Job’s friends, but not a perfect one. He rightly corrected Job for his wrong attitude toward God, yet not all he said was true.

     The only one with perfect understanding is almighty God, and next week we’ll look at what He said to Job. In the meantime, guard against allowing bitterness against God to take root in your heart (Hebrews 12:15) when you don’t understand your circumstances. Learn from Elihu that saying too much can be a bigger problem than saying too little. And if you find yourself in a place where you feel you need to speak with someone concerning their response to suffering, use your words sparingly, wisely, and with grace.

    Under Construction

    I am in the process of making some changes in my blog that will eventually lead to a new website. As I’ve prayed and sought God’s direction concerning my blog, I believe He is directing me to narrow the focus – and with this, the name. 

    I began my blog several years ago as a means of encouraging others who are struggling in their Christian walk. But as God has shifted my emphasis in ministry to meeting the specific needs of Christian women within the chronic illness community, my blog has also begun to change. Most  of my recent writing has been related to walking victoriously as a Christian with chronic illness, and this is the path I believe I’m to continue down. Because of this, my previous tag line will now be the title of my blog: Living with Chronic Illness: Count It All Joy. This is the first of several changes to come.

    About Chronic Illness

    Chronic illness is a term used to describe any illness that lasts of more than a few months. Arthritis, cancer, diabetes, fibromyalgia, heart disease, and lupus are all considered chronic illnesses, and these are just a few of the better know diseases that fit into this grouping. Many chronic illnesses are invisible to the general public, but if you suffer with one or more of these you know that looks are deceiving. Chronic illness is life altering!

    According to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics I could find, as of 2012 about half of all adults in the United States have one or more chronic illnesses. I am a part of this statistic. Seven of the top ten causes of death are chronic diseases, and arthritis – one of several chronic illnesses of which I’m well acquainted – is the most common cause of disability in our nation. 

    Eighty-six percent of healthcare spending in our nation is the result of chronic illness in its many forms. This final statistic isn’t a surprise to anyone who personally deals with chronic illness, since medical costs are usually one of our largest budget areas, and that’s for those who are blessed to have adequate medical insurance.

    As a born-again, Bible believing Christian, I believe healing is a part of God’s ultimate plan. For some, that comes on earth,  either miraculously of through the medical system, for others when we see the Lord face-to-face. I continue to pray for healing, both for myself and for others who live with chronic pain and illness. But the focus of this blog is on how  we can live victoriously in the here and now. How do we deal with the current, day-to-day struggles of life with chronic illness and pain? This has recently been and will continue to be the focus of my weekly blog posts.

    In addition to personally written inspirational articles to encourage you in your walk with Christ, I will occasionally be writing reviews of books that have helped me grow in my knowledge of how to live a life pleasing to the Lord while facing chronic illness or other trials. Sometimes, I will feature guest posts to give a different point of view than my own. I hope to include some practical posts, giving ideas for coping with specific problems or limitations caused by chronic illness.

     This is not a medical blog – I have no medical training, so I’ll leave that to those who are qualified. Its purpose is simply to help my readers navigate the often perplexing path of living victoriously as a Christian with chronic illness. My desire is not to compete with any other Christian blogs that share this purpose.  I personally subscribe to several, and I benefit from what I read. My desire is that my insights on living wisely as a Christian with ongoing illness will present another resource to turn to for help. My hope is that you will join me on this new path, whether you are personally affected by chronic disease or simply want to be better prepared to minister to friends and/or family members who need help in this area.

    Accepted In the Beloved

    When we started the recent Proverbs 31 online Bible study, I really didn’t expect it to be applicable to my life. I was basically doing this study of Lysa TerKeurst’s new book Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely, for two reasons:  1) I enjoy reading anything written by Lysa TerKeurst, and 2) a group for ladies with chronic pain and illness that I’m a part of was doing the study. 

    Boy, was I wrong! From Chapter 1,  God has brought things to mind that I hadn’t thought about in years, little things that happened to me and caused me to feel left out. Lonely. Rejected.

    What I’ve faced was minor compared to what many of the ladies in our group have faced. But any form of rejection is difficult to live with because it attacks the person we are. It ruins our self-esteem. And this isn’t accidental.

    Satan’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy our lives, and rejection is one of his most common tools.

    Whether you experienced rejection from your parents, the very people God intends to wrap their arms around us and make us feel accepted,  from others in your childhood or youth that made sure you knew you didn’t fit in, or as an adult, rejection results in emotional wounding.

    As Christians, we have the resources to deal with these wounds. But God will not force us to bring our hurts to Him for healing. If we do, healing will come. Maybe not overnight, but it will come. But if we refuse to take these hurts to the Lord, they will grow and fester into major spiritual wounds such as unforgiveness,  jealousy, and anger toward God.

    As believers in Jesus Christ, we have the needed tools to “face it head-on.” We have discussed many of them in the last few weeks: honestly facing up to what happened or what was said to me,  learning how to replace the lies with truth,  learning how to cast down imaginations” (2 Cor. 10:5 KJV) about what we think other people are thinking about us, and learning to find our identity in our relationship with Christ, to name a few

    Today, I want to introduce what I personally believe is the strongest antidote against the bondage that comes from rejection: knowing that we are accepted in the beloved.  

    What does it mean to be ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED?   

    • To be accepted is to be received and approved with grace or favor.
    • The Greek word used here for accepted is only used in one other place in the New Testament. In Luke 1:28, an angel comes to Mary to promise the birth of Jesus, and his first words are “Greetings, you who are highly favored!”  To be accepted, therefore, is to be highly favored by God. Mary was to give birth the true Son of God, because she was highly favored by God, chosen out of all the Jewish women who were alive at that time.
    • This same Son of God died on the Cross for our sin, was resurrected on the third day, later ascended to heaven and is now seated at the right hand of the Father. 

    So who is ACCEPTED?  Why are they (we) ACCEPTED?  The key is the last part of this phrase. We are ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED.  God doesn’t accept us because of our good works. He graciously accepts us – though we don’t deserve it – because we belong to His dearly beloved Son

    John 3:16 makes it clear that God loves “the world”- all those who are a part of His creation. But to be accepted by God, we must behidden with Christ in God(Colossians 3:3).  
    I once heard this described as a bookmark, placed in a book to mark the spot where I stopped reading, but which has slipped down into the book so it is no longer visible from the outside. When I look for the bookmark, I only see the book in which the bookmark is now hidden. 

    Likewise, when God looks at those who have made Jesus Christ Lord and Savior of their lives, He only sees His beloved Son. For example, according to 2 Corinthians 5.21, since Jesus who had no sin became sin for us, we have become the righteousness of God. So when God looks at us He sees the righteousness of God, not our unrighteousness.

    So to summarize:

    • God’s acceptance of us has nothing to do with our spirituality or good works.  If we look within, we will doubt God’s acceptance every time we fail to “measure up” to the inner standards we have set.
    • God’s acceptance is constant, whether we are walking in the fullness of God’s grace or despondent because of our repeated sins and failures.
    • God’s acceptance of us is only and always based on His love and acceptance of His Son, in whom our lives are hidden. 
    • Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Victorian England’s best-known Baptist minister, said in his devotion on Ephesians 1:6,(concerning our acceptance by God), “What a state of privilege! It includes our justification before God, but the term ‘acceptance’ in the Greek means more than that. It signifies that we are the objects of …. divine delight. How marvellous that we, worms, mortals, sinners, should be the objects of divine love!”
    • Because we are hidden in Christ, when God looks at us He sees His perfect, sinless Son. Or as Spurgeon worded it, we “stand accepted in One who never alters, in One who is always the beloved of God, always perfect, always without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.”

    Please join me in this prayer:

    Heavenly Father, studying Your Word about our acceptance in the Beloved has opened my eyes to what an enormous gift this is. No matter how many times we have suffered under the rejection of others, we can be assured that we have been accepted by the only One who truly matters, Almighty God.

    You loved us enough to send Your only Son to die for our sin and to make a way for us to be right with You. Because of this, we have a place of significance, in Your Son Jesus Christ. When You look at us, it is with eyes of love and acceptance, not of judgment and condemnation. 

    We are objects of divine delight! What a hard thing to grasp, as we look at our undeserving lives. Thank You, Heavenly Father, for making this possible through the death of Your beloved Son. Enable us by Your Holy Spirit to walk in light of this huge sacrifice You made for us, seeking to please You in all we do.  We pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.