God, your prayers and Dr. Barsky slayed Goliath!

What is the Goliath in your life?


In 2004 I had my first kidney stone attack! I asked the doctor in the Vermont emergency room if anyone had ever died from kidney stones. (Even after having had two 10 pound babies and surviving, I literally felt like no one could ever survive this pain). He assured me that I was not going to die and said “It’s the spasms that are causing you pain right now, not the kidney stones. If you start to feel those spasms coming on in the future, take an ibuprofen, drink lots of water and it will stop them before they get out of control” So that’s what I’d done for 12 years until about 4 years ago when both kidneys started bothering me.  
One Dr. told me, three years ago, I was a walking time bomb and wanted to operate the next week. Unfortunately when Obama Care came into effect I could no longer afford the 300% increase in the out of network office visits and had to leave my Dr that I had come to trust. I saw several others that were in my plan but I could not muster up the confidence I needed to allow them to operate on me.  

Finally, I found Dr Barsky,from the Delaware Valley Urology and Stone Center, after much research and was quite confident in him. I saw him this past August (Although I had Foolishly put off the operation he wanted to do the previous year!) I went back to him due to the constant pain in my left kidney. I remember, quite some time ago, calling my friends to pray and laying in bed praying intensely for God to take authority over my body and the seriously intense pain in my right kidney. I had not had any pain in my right kidney at all since. I honestly thought God had healed me.
Prompted by a dream vacation Chris and I had coming up with friends to celebrate our 38th anniversary (and the pain in my left kidney that was no longer responding to the large amount of water I was drinking) And not wanting anything to ruin it I thought I’d best get the pain in my left kidney checked out. As Dr Barsky was looking at my reports he asked me repeatedly where my pain was. I would say, “my left kidney”, and he would say, “show me. You have no pain in your right kidney?” And I would repeat, “no”. He said were getting aggressive with this and started that day with a flurry of tests that ended with my first operation on Sept 1.  
I was wheeled into the prep room- Number 11 – which had been my favorite number since a child. (Me and Him!) I looked up and directly across from me was the number 7- Representing perfection and the sign of God in the bible as well as completion, obedience and rest! Lol I knew God had just spoken to me and I had complete peace. I was amazed!  
Afterward, at home, I was in excruciating pain and still another 2 hours to go for my next dose of pain medication! I could hardly speak as I called Dr Barsky. He said if I needed to I could take one every 3 hours rather than 4. I took one and my husband called his friend Frank to pray! Unsurprisingly the pain was totally gone shortly after Frank sent out the prayer request! No more meds! Never underestimate the power of prayer! 
So the next operation on Sept 13th my prayer was NO Pain LORD please! Ironically enough I was checking phone messages just before I was wheeled into the operating room and there was Dennis once again in my voice mail praying for me! After the operation I asked the male nurse if I could have a stronger medication for the pain this time as the last pain meds didn’t work! The attending male nurse in the recovery room said, “You may not have any pain at all”, When he wheeled me to the car and said God Bless You, I had the sense he had prayed for me NOT to be in pain. Finally home in bed, I kept waiting for the pain, however, amazingly enough, it never came! I had NO PAIN! I never even had to take the pain meds!
Once again a third procedure on September 23rd to have the stent removed proved to me that we “Have not because we ask not”! Again in excruciating pain a prayer request was sent out and within an hour God had taken all of my pain away and I never had to take another pain pill!  For pain that intense to end so quickly could only have been an act of Gods mercy!
After more tests, X-rays, ultrasounds, etc. Dr Barsky concluded that my right kidney was again healthy and fully functioning. He decided that it was safe to operate on my left kidney to remove Goliath, a 16 mm stone. This time rather than put me through the agony of a stent for two weeks he opted to do Shockwave Lithotripsy.  I thought “this should be a breeze compared to September”.  Afterward I literally felt like a boxing match had taken place inside my body. This time the pain woke me in the middle of the night, so intense I literally got sick. This was worse than any pain I had felt so far. I took a pain pill and I prayed for God to come against the pain in my body that I knew was NOT designed by Him! My husband Chris sat on the edge of my bed and prayed for me and after a couple hours I was able to fall asleep. When I woke the pain was gone- no more pain pills and it did not return! Thank you Lord!
I tell you all this because I want to urge anyone who is putting off taking care of their body- to not be a bull headed wimp like me And take care of your temple! Trust God! I thought I could control what was going on with my body and I allowed the fear of the stents and operation to affect my quality of life and make decisions for me. You see I was very close to losing my right kidney due to my foolishness. A 13mm and 8mm stone had been stuck in my ureter. My kidney had completely shut down and stopped working and had not been working “for quite some time” according to Dr. Barsky. He was not sure how much damage had been done at first.
God in His graciousness completely restored my right kidney. His timing was perfect! After the operations in Sept we were able to go on our cruise as planned. Afterward on November 3rd Goliath was delivered! Through the powerful prayers of my church, friends and family God got me through the pain- quickly!! And thanks to the God given knowledge and gifted hands of my Doctor and the amazing equipment used today, I now wake up each morning with NO PAIN and do not have to scope out a bathroom every half hour!! The power of prayer was evident and I am so grateful.  God was with me as He promises, every step of the way and would have been years earlier as well. He says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” Joshua 1:9

JOY

imageJOY is the word that has been resounding in my mind for the past two weeks! I heard the acronym somewhere Jesus first, Others second and You last. Everywhere I looked… there was the word- JOY! In scripture, on signs, written in Christmas cards, wall plagues and in great big letters that light up in Michaels craft store! After walking round and round the store I finally went back to the place where JOY sat and bought those big light up letters that spell JOY. I didn’t know it then but God was up to something!

My three oldest (already testosterone filled at 6, 8 & 12) grand boys were visiting and vying for first place in all that they found to do one morning before Christmas! They always have to establish the alpha in the pack when they first get together after not seeing each other for awhile. Eventually after demanding apologies they work things out but sometimes it’s more aggravation than I really care for! So as they were checking out the big JOY sign, of course all wanting to turn it on and off I sensed a teachable moment and I asked them if they knew the real meaning of Joy. Of course they all wanted to be the FIRST to answer and be the one with the RIGHT answer. After listening to their answers I shared mine with them. J for Jesus first, O for others second and Y for you last.

AHA, a moment of silence until one of them said and of course they all quickly agreed, “But Nonna, if you are saying Jesus is first, and Others are second wouldn’t that make me first, and pointing to the other two, them last because I am the “other”. That means I’m first and you are the other,” ‘no I’m the other and your last,’ ‘NO I am the other!” And on and on went the discussion with all of them insisting they were the “other.” And that made them first! I have to admit they had me confused until I convinced them that they were each the YOU. Haha

Joy in the journey is my most sincere prayer for 2016. I want the light of Jesus to shine through me when my light is faded and dim! The Words of my mouth to be the sweet aroma of His breath when mine trickle out of stinking thinking. I pray that my thoughts be His clear encouraging, kind and good thoughts when my own are dingy, full of cob webs and lacking the luster of love that He desires. Fill my thoughts with “love luster” Lord! Guide me Father down the path of Your choosing and not my own. Let me walk the journey of 2016 with the JOY unspeakable that only comes when we willingly put J-esus first, O-thers second and Y-ou (ME) last!

It was no accident that I was seeing JOY everywhere I went because I was given opportunity over and over again this holiday season to live it out and yes I failed miserably, often! You see I now realize there was a major missing ingredient in those trials. The “J.” The AWARENESS that Jesus was right there with me through the trial. That it was Him that needed to respond through me with His words, His thoughts and His work. I needed to step aside and allow Him to step up! I needed to whisper, “Okay Jesus this is all YOU not me, you have to do this!”

JOY is my word this year and Psalm 139:23-24 is my prayer:

“Search me , O God, and know my heart;                                                             Try me and know my anxious thoughts;                                                           And see if there be any hurtful way in me;                                                       And lead me in th everlasting way.”

It is only with an increased awareness of His presence with me EVERY STEP that I can truly experience true JOY! Needless to say, I am going to keep my JOY letters lit all year long as a reminder that true Joy comes from putting Jesus first, Others second and You (ME) last!

Are Pastors REALLY people too??!!??

This blog is dedicated to all the amazing men and women who have been chosen to shepherd God’s people!

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1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 ESV  We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.

Moses was probably the first “Pastor” we see modeled in the bible. Having grown up as an Egyptian prince he had all the physical comforts of home before he answered the call of God to set His people free! Just imagine leading, what some scholars believe was, over 2 million Israelites for forty years as they grumbled, mumbled, kicked and screamed! And through a desert no less. God used Moses to impart His law to His children.

Amazingly, not too much has changed these days as God anoints men and women, raises them up to shepherd, teach and minister! Pastors today face some of the same trials as Moses as they minister to we modern day Israelites!

These pillars of strength have families, homes, children, health issues, personality glitches, car problems, leaky faucets, squeaky doors. While they are looked at as our pillars of strength they breathe real air and bleed real blood and feel real feelings too. Pastors can be wounded and hurt, stepped on, talked about, ridiculed, put down and yes they can also sin! Pastors are people too!

Similar to Moses grumbling millions, they sometimes have congregations riddled with men and woman that cause dissension, sucking the life out of them. They are wounded when their congregation is scattered and at odds with one another and often find themselves spending time doing damage control rather than being about the business God chose them for.

For every seat in their congregation a pastor has a different set of expectations thrust upon them!

Lets just think about some of those expectations for a moment…
They are expected to do weddings, funerals, baptisms, dedications, counseling, to visit EVERY sick person (well maybe not just every sick person but every hospitalized person). They are expected to teach, preach, and pray for us! Lead the men, lead the women, oversee the children’s ministry and all other church activities, be available when we feel a need to whine, cry, complain, reprimand, criticize, and tell him/ her that we know a much better way to run the church! We then expect our Pastor to anoint us, bless us, lead us, talk to us, listen to us, give us hope, help, healing, love, encouragement, and keep us awake during the sermon!

I admonish my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to first “Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” So when our enemy the devil comes prowling around your church (and he will) seeking someone to devour he will not use you to take a bite out of your Pastor. Test the spirits. Do not let the enemy use you to throw fiery darts at your pastor.

I raise my glass and make a toast to ALL Pastors everywhere and especially to those who God has given me the incredible blessing of knowing personally! Brothers and sisters we will be held accountable one day for those pastors who could no longer walk in their calling because of the verbal abuse and mental anguish we put them through.

We are called to encourage and pray for God’s chosen ones!

I’ve adopted this list partially written by Pastor Dick Hester, to pray for Pastors, and especially for those in my church!

I pray that they would love Jesus with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and that their ministry would never steal from them their first love, Jesus Christ.
I pray that they would love and serve their wife and family with glad hearts and that their family would have love for the ministry instead of resenting it for “stealing” their husband and daddy away.
I pray for a passion; for conviction and dedication to their calling and to Jesus Christ.
I pray for wisdom and free access to the Holy Spirit to change course when He nudges.
I pray that they will walk in confidence while kneeling in humility as gentle shepherds who care for their sheep.
I pray for encouragement in their faith and ministry, and against those who attack, slander, harm, or speak evil against them.
I pray that their teaching and preaching will be accurate, true, bold, convicting, encouraging, anointed, and Christ-centered.
I pray that God will guard them from burnout and depression.
I pray that they will never fall prey to envy, jealousy, insecurity, or comparison.
I pray for their holiness and purity, and against lust, affairs, love of money, and pride.
I pray for rest spiritually and physically, and that they know that it is not their ministry they are leading, but God’s.
I pray that they will finish better than they started.
I pray that they will take time to have fun, do things they enjoy, spend time with their wives and play with the kids, and get away often to find peace and solitude.
I pray for God to raise up people around them to assist them, serve them, honor them, encourage them, pray for them, admonish them, and protect them.
I pray they will recognize and encourage those around them to use their gifts to teach, preach, and serve.
I pray that ministry, teaching, preaching, and leading will never become a chore for them, but that it would always be a joy and blessing to serve the Lord and His people with kindness and gladness, and that they would enjoy every aspect of leading, whether easy or hard, for the glory of God.
“I pray these things for pastors or leaders. I hope all of us will pray them for one another.”

Please remember Pastors are people too! People with tons of expectations heaped on them and a huge job description! Please pray for them with me!

LOOK TO THE STEPPING STONES OF YOUR PAST TO KNOW YOUR FUTURE!

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Confused about where you’re going? Look to where you’ve been!

I once coached a middle aged woman who was depressed and felt she had no purpose in life. We began a journey to find “significance” in her life. We started this journey many years prior and identified the “Stepping Stones” in her life. Some were joyous times, some were sad, some were worthy of reflection while others she wanted to forget completely. As we went down this path of her past one thing was certain. Every one of those stepping stones were abundantly rich with one thing! Experience! Each brought with it things she had learned and was able to implement in the next stone of her life. We were able to identify a pattern unfolding in her life as she became aware of her Divine design. God had created her with a purpose and she now knew what that was as she saw her story unfold.

Oswald Chambers was an early twentieth-century Scottish Baptist, Holiness evangelist and teacher. He was best known for the devotional My Utmost for His Highest. This is what he once said “In the beginning we do not train for God, we train for work, for our own aims; but as we go on with God we lose all our own aims and are trained into God’s purpose. Unless practical work is appointed by God, it will prove a curse.”

Okay so your past is filled with stepping stones that brought you to where you are. What do you do now when you question, “Why? Why am I here?” Grow where you are planted! Then wait for God to provide opportunity for you to use those stones to direct your future!

So how do you grow where you’re planted? I can think of no better way than to take Paul’s advice to the Colossians. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24). He goes on to say in Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;

Joseph was a great example of growing where he had been planted! If you look at the stepping stones in his life the road wasn’t always rosy! He was rejected by his brothers, sold into slavery, lied about, thrown into prison. He could have chosen to be bitter and unforgiving but rather he chose “to grow where he was planted” each stone of the way. While God was preparing him to be head of the nation Israel he worked with all his heart as for the Lord, not for man. He worked hard and diligently whether in Potiphar’s house or interpreting dreams in prison.

Moses and Jesus were other examples. Moses served in Pharaoh’s house and then watched over sheep for forty years. While he probably questioned more than once his calling and thought “at least the sheep did what I asked” he had been prepared to lead the Exodus of the Israelite nation out of slavery!

The bible mentions little to nothing of Jesus’ life between the ages of 12 and 30. What we do know is that he worked as a carpenter in his father’s carpentry shop. Those stepping stone years led to Jesus ultimate calling. We can probably guess most assuredly that it was during those years Jesus learned about relationships as he encountered various customers. Having a restaurant I can attest to the magnitude of personalities one encounters. Over 50% of Jesus’ teaching addressed issues experienced in every day life by a vast array of personalities!

So the next time you may be tempted to whine and complain, curse and quit, know that God has a purpose and a plan for your future. He is preparing you, right here, right now, for something much greater if you grow where you’ve been planted and don’t give up!

I leave you with a favorite passage of scripture! Jeremiah 29:11-15
11 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’

HEY YOU! YEAH YOU! YOU ARE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!

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“You are not the boss of me!” This is a phrase I have been hearing so often lately! And one, if I’m honest, I have heard from my own grandchildren at one time or another! Worse yet from my own mouth! Amazing how a tiny young three year old thinks he can look up at you with those big adorable blue eyes and pack a punch and knock his Nonna in her place, by uttering those seven little words! How many three year olds have heard those words from their six year old brothers, who have said them to their twelve year old sister. And how many baby sitters have been challenged, “you are not the boss of me” by the young ones they were given charge over!

Challenging authority is often looked at as a sign of strength in today’s society. Teachers are challenged, parents are challenged, police officers, government officials and right on up the chain of command. Pastors who have been anointed by God to bring conviction to sin in our lives- are challenged! And if I am honest- really honest there have been times I have challenged my own spouse with, “You are not the boss of me!”

Romans 13:1 says, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

Hebrews 13:17 NASB Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

I have had the great privilege of knowing many anointed men of God! Men whom God had chosen to shepherd His people. It is with great sadness that I say I have seen some of these men “crucified” by the very people they were appointed to shepherd. If what God says is true- and it is- then He is the One “Who is the boss” of that Pastor! It is His job to bring discipline and conviction of sin where needed.

Mathew Henry’s commentary says this in regards to the respect we show to our Pastors.
“The people must search the Scriptures, and so far as the ministers teach according to that rule, they ought to receive their instructions as the word of God, which works in those that believe. It is the interest of hearers, that the account their ministers give of them may be with joy, and not with grief. Faithful ministers deliver their own souls, but the ruin of a fruitless and faithless people will be upon their own heads. The more earnestly the people pray for their ministers, the more benefit they may expect from their ministry.”

We seem to forget that it was God Himself that actually put that chain of command in place. That all authority over us has been put there by the One who “is the boss of us!”

Romans 13:2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

God is the One who calls people into their positions in life and most importantly into their relationship with Him. Just as he said in Mathew 4:19-20

“‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.'” At once they left their nets and followed him. Our world would be quite a different place had they said, “No, You are not the boss of me!”

So lets stop and pray first! Before we challenge those in authority over us. Lets be honest with ourselves first and before raising the hammer and the nail – before any scratching and clawing begins… Get down on your knees and cry, complain, rant and wail if necessary to the One who is the Boss of YOU! The One who is the authority over ALL authority! Before challenging the authority He has placed over you- Ask the Holy Spirit to go before you, ask Him to give you eyes that see the truth. Trust the ONE who is able to change hearts and change lives, not just momentarily but forever!

February is thought of as Love month! Love those whom God has placed in authority over you! Love your Pastor, Mom, Dad, the policeman who pulls you over, the teacher who gave the bad grade, a spouse, boss and the list goes on! Most importantly, you could show no greater love than to teach the children in your life- adult and juvenile alike- by your actions- Who is the boss of them!

And if you hear the words, “You are not the boss of me!” You can reply, “Maybe not, but I know the One who  is!”                                                  image

THE ONE RESOLUTION THAT TRUMPS ALL OTHERS!

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THE ONE NEW YEARS RESOLUTION THAT WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN ALL THE REST!

New Years is typically a time for making resolutions- I’m not going to eat so much- drink so much- curse so much- yell at my kids so much- I’m going to be kinder, calmer and eat good food- get rid of the toxins and build my immune system- lower my cholesterol- eat less sugar- spend more time with family- spend less money and THIS YEAR I’m going to emulate that Proverbs 31 woman! If she can do it so can I!

There is just one teensy weensy problem. Most people will fail. According to Forbes 40% of Americans set New Years goals. The University of Scranton research suggests only 8% of people will keep those resolutions! We set resolutions & goals before ourselves. BIG HUGE MOUNTAINS of them that set us up for failure from day one! I know because I have tried to climb those mountains alone many times! If we dissect some of those things we’d like to change or get rid of in our lives I think we may be surprised that those things are actually idols… TV, alcohol, drugs, chocolate, food, etc. Mountains full of desires and things that we have replaced the God of the universe with. Time we could be spending with Him growing in a closer and more intimate relationship with Jesus.

God says in Isaiah 45:2-3, “I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and Cut-through bars of iron. I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.”

Those things that tower in front of us- the things we want to change in our lives are often mountainous. Mountains are not easy to climb even harder to level. Especially if you’re not in good shape. It takes some work on our part before we can be a seasoned mountain climber! It takes something much bigger than ourselves and just getting in shape!

AMAZING GOD! God says He goes before us and HE levels the mountains. How freeing is that? He will cut through the gates of bronze and bars of iron that imprison and defeat us year after year! And not only will He do that for us He will give us hidden treasures in place of those things we give to Him. Those treasures may come in the form of miracles or gifts or they may be a result of the refiners fire. Much heart ache, maybe even a bit of persecution. But know one thing- God does not lie and if He promises treasures and riches stored in secret places He will deliver. He knows us by name and He wants us to know Him and that He is Lord! Lord above all those difficult things that loom before us. He is telling us there is hidden treasure and basically that treasure is Him!

Jeremiah 29:11 is a well known, much recited verse, “For I know the plans I have for you” saith The Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” But the REAL TREASURE comes in the next few verses. Verses twelve through fourteen say, “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity…

When we gaze into the face of the One who knows us by name and replace all our resolutions with just one. To know Him better- to walk with Him and talk with Him (as the old hymn goes) to spend our life pursuing Him, the chains will fall off and the mountains will crumble! And guess what? If they don’t crumble our God will lift us and carry us over them and show us that secret place!