Friday, March 23, 2007

Faith and Healing

I had an interesting conversation on Wednesday morning. I was running late and frazzled getting everything ready for Bible Study (as usual!). One of the ladies that is new to our group, I'll call her Margie, was early much to my dismay. I was still making coffee and sweeping the floor. They just found out that their son has been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. It's been a huge shock and lifestyle adjustment for them. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to deal with that. We had been praying for them since we heard about it.

Well, when Margie got to talking about it she told me she was claiming total healing for her son. She conveyed how difficult it is because never before have they had to have this kind of faith. I was trying to be polite and encouraging at first but as the conversation progressed I realized I was going to have to say something. She had a little booklet they got from their pastor on healing. She was showing me the passages in it. So I dove in. I am so bad at handling conflict and never feel I have the right words to say in those situations but I'm thankful God prompted and led me.

This is a tough subject. Certainly we must have faith in Jesus Christ and certainly I believe that God has the power to heal. There are many examples in scripture and modern life of healing. My father-in-law has such a story. Margie told me that Christ did not come and die so that we would suffer and be sick. It seems to me that ultimately a lot of scriptures are referring to spiritual healing from our sin.

There are some passages I thought of like when Jesus asks for the cup to be taken from him before he goes to the cross (Matthew 26:39) and when Paul asks three times for his thorn in the flesh to be removed (2 Corinthians 12) but it isn't. God's response - My grace is sufficient for you. There is suffering and pain for us in this world. There is no way around that. The negative side of the healing belief that no one wants to talk about is if you are not healed, then you do not have enough faith. Tell that to a Godly person dying of cancer or the young parents we know that just lost a baby. Do those things happen because of a lack of faith on our part? Maybe we give ourselves too much credit.

There are many stories of Jesus and the Apostles healing people in the New Testament. That very day in our study we read about the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years and was healed by touching Jesus' clothing (Luke 8:43-48). Healing was a major part of his earthly ministry.

So I am not sure what to make of it. Jesus tells us to expect suffering (Matthew 16:24, Colossians 1:24) and he does not heal everyone. It seems kind of manipulative and demanding to me to say, "Hey God, look at all my faith! You must heal me (or my family member)." Is it not based on God's mercy and grace?

There is a friend of my parents who has cancer. She is not very old and she is not getting better. She has been really honest about her thoughts and feelings. Although she would like to live and see her grandchildren grow up, she has placed herself in God's hands and care. When that is done, we seem to be committing ourselves to the Lord, in his time, in his plans.

Luke 22:42
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me;
yet not my will, but yours be done."

Matthew 16:24
Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. " (The Message)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Reading and Observations

Our church has been reading books leading up to Easter for the last few years. This year we are reading "The Jesus Creed" by Scot McKnight. It's subtitle is Loving God, Loving Others. It has really been great so far especially because it is really easy for me to let the things I DO for God become my relationship with him. This has challenged and reminded me to it is about love. So I have been reading it whenever I have the chance and trying to catch up to where the church is. Scot McKnight also has a blog called Jesus Creed ( He is really interesting to read and I think his books are available there as well.

So, to get to the point of my observations, I was waiting for one of my kids and reading the book on Monday. There was another group of people waiting in the same hallway. There were 3 or 4 adults and a whole crew of kids. They were loud and odd. The apparent matriarch of the crew was talking loudly on her cell phone (as if we all wanted to hear her conversation) about money and wondering where it is all going. After she hung up, the rest of the adults were continuing the conversation loudly about how they can't keep helping her out, they don't have any money either and on and on. Meanwhile, the kids were running around like maniacs. Slamming the glass doors, banging on other office doors, carrying the baby around and dropping her, fighting and yelling at each other loudly. It was quite the scene.

I was really not trying to eavesdrop. I just wanted to read my book, but it was kind of hard not to hear what was going on. They were irate over the fact that one of their family members had stolen something and lied about it. They kept saying between cuss words that people must tell the truth and be honest. I was thinking that I agree, people should be honest and truthful. I want to teach my kids that. But why on earth would you be compelled towards honesty in an environment like that? They are trying to uphold Godly morals and principles without God. I think it would be nearly impossible to teach that without connecting it back to God.

I guess there are probably other ways to teach values. There are a lot of moral people that aren't Christians. But it seems like it would be empty teaching. I would quickly become apathetic about being good and moral without seeing the bigger picture of God's plan. Why should we be honest? Because God is honest and just. Because we want to be like God. Because that is how God tells us to live and conduct ourselves. Now that's something I can identify with. That presents a purpose for living that way.

The second thing I observed is how piously judgmental I was of these people. There I was with my nose stuck in my "Jesus Creed, Loving God, Loving Others" book looking down at them for the way they behave. Those are exactly the people Jesus would befriend and care for if He were here. He died for them. It was humbling to admit that I have such attitudes. I am a missionary for crying out loud. But I hope now that my eyes have been opened, Jesus will soften my heart towards the people around me - as loud and unlovable as they may be.

The Jesus Creed (Mark 12:29-31)
"Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
with all your mind and with all your strength."
The second is this: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
There is no commandment greater than these.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Turkey Soup for the Body

I think I may have been whining before about the flu bug that's been ripping through our house for a few days now. Just as I've gotten everything cleaned up and laundry done from one person, someone else succumbs! So today Mike was sick but made it through church, I was home with Abby and in the afternoon someone pulled into our driveway. I was (and still am) in my pajamas. I was kind of annoyed because I just want to be left alone and not answer the door in my PJ's.

Well, I had to bite my tongue because this dear woman in our church brought us a big pot of turkey soup and homemade bread. It seemed a bit like liquid gold to us. I am stunned by how such a simple gesture meant so much.

Our church does a lot of meals for people who are sick, experienced a death in the family or had a baby. Sometimes I wonder if such an old fashioned practice is still worthwhile and appreciated today. Well, I think I have my answer. Caring for people by meeting their physical needs shows the love of Christ.

1 John 3:17-18
"But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth."