SOAP: John 5:1-15 You Are Well

Two things before I dive into today’s SOAP.

First, On the advice of a trusted brother here on WordPress (thank you, Bruce), I have loosened the noose and am giving myself permission to not “feel” behind if I can’t keep up with this SOAP series EVERY day.

But I have chosen instead to compensate for by, God willing, continuing SOAP through the entire New Testament.

I will let it take however long it takes, but I’m really getting a lot out of this process and I’ve never read the NT from beginning to end straight through, so I’m really excited about this.

And the second is, unlike other mornings, I read the passage today before starting this intro section and my heart is already heavily stirred by today’s reading.

In my opinion, one of the most challenging verses in all of the Bible is in here, can you guess which one it is? 

I’ve also got a second challenge for everyone.

Something is missing in this passage, do you see what it is? (hint: it has something to do with the translation I am using)

I’m excited to get started, let’s do this!

Artus_Wolffort_-_Christ_at_the_Pool_of_Bethesda_(Ontario)

Artus Wolffort – Christ at the Pool of Bethesda

Scripture

John 5:1-15 (ESV)

The Healing at the Pool on the Sabbath

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’ 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.

Observation

  • v1 – there was a feast of the Jews
  • v3 – in these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed.
  • v5 – One man…invalid for thirty-eight years
  • v6 – “Do you want to be healed?”
  • v7 – Sir, I have no one…
  • v8 – Get up…
  • v10 – It is unlawful
  • v11 – But.. the man who healed me… said to..
  • v13 – the man who had been healed did not know who it was
  • v14 – “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”

Application

v1 – these guys eat a lot!

What that stirs in me is that I’m not a very social person. I find crowds and lots of simultaneous conversations creates anxiety in me. But the Jews and the first church of Acts, they hung out together all the time in celebration and fellowship.

Is my propensity for solitude a God-given trait or leftover from my younger wounded places?

Should I be pushing more against my comfort zone and spending more time “feasting with the community of believers?” 

v3 – a multitude, as in a lot of crippled people.

This just broke my heart for all of the sick and suffering in hospitals, convalescent centers, rehabilitation centers, and the host of other people where the millions of sick, crippled and dying gather with the hope that they may be healed.

When we pray for Jesus to break our hearts for what breaks his, these are who he is talking about, along with those in prison who are just suffering from broken hearts and minds.

Is my heart troubled enough to take action for the people in my community who need prayer, comfort, encouragement, mentorship or other tangible resources that I could provide?

v5 – Thirty-eight years, likely most of his life.

When I’m struggling with feeling like my life is hard or isn’t fair, do I ever take into consideration how incredibly blessed I am, even with the challenges I face?

When I complain, am I not telling God I am dissatisfied with my life? 

And when I’m complaining to God about areas of my life that are the results of my own choices (hated job, broken relationships, self-induced health issues, child custody problems), am I not blaming God for situations that I got myself into and in which I have the free-will to get myself out of, or at least make the best of?

An invalid likely doesn’t have the same opportunities that I do, the same as persecuted Christians throughout the world don’t have the same freedoms I have, and yet I can complain about my life?

According to 2013 statistics, over 50% of the world’s population lived on less than 2.50 per day, nearly 4 billion people. Am I ever ungrateful for my income?

v6Do you want to be healed?

The obvious answer is “of course Jesus, please heal me”. But we shouldn’t be so quick to answer questions with our minds without first letting God check our hearts.

If I got well, I would have to go back to work. Isn’t being sick convenient for me? 

Am I doing everything I can to get back to work ASAP, or is there a part of me that enjoys the freedom of being sick?

Doesn’t being sick come with the perks of not having to be responsible for anything? Or being able to tell people “I can’t”. Or having people serve me or express sympathy for me?

Obviously, I’m not suggesting anyone wants to be sick, I surely don’t! And as much as I hate not being able to live the life I once lived, being forced to unplug from the matrix isn’t an entirely horrible experience. The daily challenge for me now is to reinvent my life within the boundaries of my new condition and not just succumb to a victim and helpless mindset. 

I believe the question is powerful in that it makes us take ownership of our condition, we must choose to get well before we can be healed. 

v7 – Sir I have no one.

This stirs a couple thoughts. One, how sad! He has no friends, he has no community support. He has been left alone and forgotten for 38 years. He has nobody to show him compassion or mercy.

My church is doing a very intentional season of finding orphans and foster children new homes. How much these at-risk children need someone to show them compassion and assistance.

The second is, he didn’t respond to Jesus with “yes, I want to be healed”, he replied with the reason why he believes he hasn’t been healed. Maybe not an excuse, but it wasn’t a direct answer to Jesus’ question.

I’ve recognized this in myself, I think it comes from (within me anyway) from shame. I feel the need to explain why I make the choices I make or how I got in the situations I got in. Someone can ask me a simple question and I’ll give my resume’.

Why do I feel the need to explain (defend?) myself when I’m not even being accused?

Is this a place of my long-standing victim mentality that wants to constantly say “it’s not my fault”, when in reality, everything in my life since moving out of my parent’s house has been my choice, so everything is of “my doing”. 

What would it look like to truly take ownership and responsibility for everything in my life that was under my control, good and bad?

v8 – GET UP!

This hits home in ways.

What would it look like to “get up” emotionally, be to filled with gratitude instead of discontent, to be filled with hope instead of fear, to be filled with love instead of apathy?

How easy is it for me in my condition or situation to “stay in bed longer” (proverbially or actually) than is necessary, could I “get up” more often physically, press against my mental or emotional resistance that says “I can’t”?

 In what ways could I “get up” spiritually when God feels distant or disengaged from my life? Is that not an intentional pursuit on my part, especially in light of the fact that He promises to never leave us or forsake us?

v10 – The Jews…It is unlawful

Again, our journey into SOAP is meant to be personal. How do the attitudes, mindset, and culture 2000+ years ago affect me today? 

With this one, I recognize that because of my abusive childhood I was taught to live by “the law”. You break the rules you are punished, lived within them and you are accepted and maybe even get a glimpse of love.

Here, Jesus heals someone of a lifetime disability yet “the law” says He did a bad thing.

How much of my own self-worth or expectations are still governed by what some perceive as right or wrong instead of by what is motivated by grace-filled and compassionate love? 

Sometimes the world’s (or even religious) laws are to be broken in the name of love, compassion, rescue, redemption, restoration.

Have I stopped judging myself and others legalistically and instead see the world through the eyes of Christ?

V11 – Jesus told the man to get up, so he did. Chances are he was aware of “the law” also, so there might have been a concern that “if I pick this up I might get in trouble”.

We don’t know that, but I’m struck by the thought of what it would look like to be obedient and when others complain simply blame Jesus.

How often am I willing to do the Christ-like thing and when persecuted or ridiculed simply point to God and say “He told me to”? Obedience, obedience, obedience!

v13 – The man didn’t even know who Jesus was, all he knew is that he was healed. That was enough for him to obey Jesus when he told him to ‘break the law’ by picking up his mat.

Have I been rescued from my old life?

Aren’t I being made whole more and more each day?

Hasn’t God protected me my entire life from my insane years of active addictions and horrible decisions? 

Isn’t He providing strength each day, new wisdom over the years, and a promise of better days ahead and eternity with Him? 

Should not all of that be enough for my gratitude to overflow my borders and pour out into the world in the form of obedience, service, and sacrifice for His glory and not still be in pursuit of my comfort or pleasures?

v14 – Sin no more! If you do, something worse may (will?) happen.

This should terrify us all. There are many scripture verses that tell us our sin is at the root of all that ails us.

After salvation, our sin no longer holds the penalty of eternal death, but it very much gives Satan and his minions of pain and darkness to affect our lives.

My sin invites in “worse to happen to me”, why would I ever consider it an option ever again?

Amen


I don’t know about you guys, but this passage is packed with some of the most intense life-altering truths when I gut-level honest with myself.

The beauty is, God didn’t come to condemn so these really close-to-the-bone questions and exhortations are meant to grow us, not fill us with shame or condemnation.

This leads to the place of “what am I going to do with the gift of insight God has given me through His Word today?”

So, at the start of this blog, I challenge you with two questions.

Can you tell which verse I believe to be the most challenging in the bible?

For me, Jesus asking “do you want to be healed” digs so far down in my soul if I am being soul-searchingly honest with myself.

I have found in recovery ministry that “being the victim” is what serves us very well in keeping us locked in our attitudes and addictive mindsets.

Even if we stop using our drink/drug/food/shopping/gambling or other coping mechanis of choice, we still can believe that most of our life problems are everyone else’s fault and that we are helpless victims.

Being healed means I will need to take 100% accountability for my success and failures in life, and that can be SCARY!

Denial kills more people than any other cause in life (my opinion). A person who doesn’t believe he is sick, or that his illness (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual) isn’t serious, will never ask for help. And if others offer to help, they will never take “the treatment” offered. (again, mental, physical, emotional and spiritual remedies)

What is “missing” in this translation and many other translations within this passage?

John 5:4 is missing!?!?

That blew me away!!! And I looked up several translations and it is missing in many of them. Some without a footnote even mentioning that it is missing.

How can that be?????

In the NIV, NLT, ESV, and others it is just not there. Here is the footnote from NIV

John 5:4 (NIV)

Footnotes: John 5:4 Some manuscripts include here, wholly or in part, paralyzed—and they waited for the moving of the waters. From time to time an angel of the Lord would come down and stir up the waters. The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease they had.

Many think all translations are sound, but here is an example of a profoundly good reason why we all should reference several versions when looking for biblical accuracy.

There is a big difference between the waters having healing power (the inference without verse 4) and that of an Angel stirring the water (actual verse 4).

So, did you get them both right?

Did you have a different verse in here that strikes a deeper chord in you than the one I picked? 

Today the message on my heart is gratitude, let’s go live as if God is truly good to us and our life in Him is sufficient.  ~Blessings in Christ

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When A TODO List Becomes Toxic

N I K A O S*

no-todo

This could be a tricky concept to navigate, but I’ve had a recent revelation that has been a game-changer for me… and of course I’ve gotta share it with you!

Now don’t get me wrong, I live or die by my todo lists.

The problem with me, however, is that I’m a driven performance-based perfectionist who doesn’t have an “off” button.

You might be asking “what’s wrong with that”. And on some level, you would be correct.

It has served my career and bank account well for several decades.

But living on the edge like that for too long WILL HAVE (not might have) catastrophic health, relationship and overall well-being negative effects.

And in my case, to the extreme. Burnout is real.

I knew I was getting more and more tired over the last few years, but the doctors, cardio tests, bood work, MRIs and every other test imaginable all…

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How To Extract Life-Changing Takeaways From Any Experience

Psalm 26:2 (AMP) Examine me, O Lord, and try me; Test my heart and my mind.

wisdom

If we are intentional of looking for it, God will always provide an epiphany – A Golden Takeaway from any significant experience in our life.

When that happens, it leads to a new set of options, choices that we can utilize in the future to grow and achieve greater levels of peace, wholeness, and connectedness to others, ourselves and God.

It is through a new awareness that we gain new perspectives.

When our patterns of thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors start to make sense we can then choose to change (or more accurately surrender our dependence on) the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that no longer serve us well.

What follows is the way in which I “work things out”.

It is how I attempt to discern “what is God trying to tell me here” and “what I am supposed to do with it”.

So what do you say, you interested? Great, let’s do this!


The Process of Processing 

  1. What happened (the situation)?
  2. What were my motivations, emotions, and spiritual condition (called States)?
  3. What does God want to reveal (post-reflection)
  4. How have my new perspectives and awarenesses changed (take-away)
  5. What can I do differently next time (action plan)

What follows is an example of how that exact process plays out for me. This is a very real situation that just slammed into me within the last 48 hours.

It is a compare and contrast from two similar events in my life that had polar opposites driving forces and outcomes, and the emerging awareness has the potential to be life-changing for me.

And who knows, maybe for someone else?

There is a ton of backstory and details to these events and my mindsets, emotions and spiritual state in each are complex, but my new goal is this:

LESS IS MORE – NO MORE 6000 WORD BLOGS!!!  (you’re welcome)

Let’s see how I do with that. (I’m already at 300 ugh!. 

I guess you could say you know you are a writer when you have to limit the number of words you type instead of struggling to reach a goal. Totally off-topic there, this isn’t helping!

CASE STUDY – THE TWO TRIPS


STEP ONE – What Happened

This all revolves around 2 separate road trips that I’ve taken in the last year. I’ll call them Trip #1 and Trip #2 (creative eh)

TRIP #1

This took place soon after I first got sick when I was forced into a medical leave of absence over a year ago.

I first drove to meet a friend and we camped for a few days but instead of turning south from the campground to go back home, I ended up turning north on an impulse to just “see where it leads”.

It was a spectacular 10-day journey of prayer, journaling, sight-seeing and soul-searching throughout the coastal areas and mountains of Central and Northern California, complete with an endless stream of Divine Coincidences

TRIP #2

This happened yesterday, nearly a year after the first trip; and although the original intent (on some level) was similar to trip #1, the outcomes couldn’t have been more radically different in every aspect.

This trip started out as me just wanting to clear my head (similar to trip #1).

But what manifested as was an 860-mile round-trip from Los Angeles to Cedar City Utah in a 22-hour waking nightmare.

Same person, same car, same intent/desire, but insanely different experiences.

Why did they turn so different?

Gratefully God can work with those kinds of questions!

Mark 12:29-31 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” [my emphasis]

STEP TWO – What Were My Mental, Emotional, Spiritual & Physical States

1 Thessalonians 5:23 (ESV) Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I have found it critically important when trying to discern why things go right and why things go wrong, what part of it was “up to me?”

It comes down to self-awareness which is never intuitive. And it is likely the most critical life-skill that is never taught. 

95% of our thoughts, feeling and actions are driven subconsciously from our mind/body past experiences.

It’s an auto-pilot and without recognizing the survival forces at work (fight or flight response) can drive us to live reactionary lives. We say, do and feel things not based on current realities but largely on past “take-aways”.

So I always start by asking myself: What were my “states” before and during the encounter?


TRIP #1

Mental – I believe I was clear-headed. I had a sense of adventure, of wanting to explore. I was feeling like I was a free spirit who could do whatever I wanted (which is not normal for me).

Emotional – I was in a pretty good place. I was apprehensive about the impulsiveness of the decision but I was expecting a really neat experience, even though I had no idea what to expect.

Physical – My health condition was a serious consideration, but I theorized that laying in a hammock on the beach watching a beautiful fire-red sunset was better than laying in bed at home. So I was alert to my physical limitations and believed this was a reasonable act self-care. 

Spiritual – Here is the secret sauce. Every step of the way from the second I turned my car north away from the direction of home, I took a stance of nearly excited faith. “This is crazy Lord, but I trust you”. 

I won’t share all of the DIVINE MIRACLES that took place on trip #1 but the very first one will blow your mind, at least it still does mine.

Were there Divine Appointments?

I drove north wanting to go to Big Sur campground along Highway 1 in Central California. It is the exact place where I gave my life to Christ some 8 years before then and being that I wanted “get with God” on this trip, where better to go?

big-sur

The problem is, Limekiln Campground is a small-ish campground in one of the most spectacular regions of the California Coastline, and reservations are made a year in advance. You NEVER just drive up there expecting a spot. And this place is remote, if camping isn’t available here you might be homeless. No cell service, and no services for many miles.

What I was doing was CRAZY. Yet this was a different kind of crazy in this trip versus trip #2 as you will soon see.

So what happened? I went there on faith. And long story short, not only was I ultimately able to get a spot in Limekiln Campground, the ONLY spot available was the EXACT SPOT that I gave my life to Christ at 7 years earlier.

That is an impossible outcome, but easy for God. And the entire trip went that way.

Every campground was “impossible to get into” yet by some miracle, I got in… for 10 days straight hopping from campground to campground I was met with miracle after miracle.


TRIP #2

Mental – The premise of this trip was a trainwreck from the beginning. If you’ve been following my blog in the last week or so you know my counselor has been uncorking some childhood trauma stuff. I haven’t wanted to go there but I also believe God said: “you are ready”. So I’ve gone fearfully but willingly.

On this day I was having a really rough time, I was stuck ruminating on past events, and as they say, what you feed grows. And this was feeding my emotions.

Emotional – Again, trainwreck. What was uncovered was long deep and buried shame, self-hatred, and rage toward people who have treated me terribly throughout my life and I just “let them do it”. I’ve been passive, insecure and fearful all my life but most of the vile of poison what outside of my awareness in the 95% subconscious fight-or-flight regions of my brain. Fight or flight was alive and well this day!

Physical – I was not healthy. I hadn’t been sleeping well the last few nights and with the emotional exhaustion, my body was not doing well. But I was also filled with fight-or-flight chemical flood as the pain and anger escalated throughout the day. I was worn, and my bed would have been the safest place for me, but I had to run.

Spiritual – Here is where I believe the takeaways are going to come from. I’m somewhat processing this live right now as I type this so this is an organic exercise. So I was in prayer all day, but the emotional state and ruminating thoughts seemed stuck. My motivation on this trip was not “I’m moving towards God”, it was “I’m running from this house”.

Were there Divine Appointments?

I believe there were Divine Appointments on this trip also, but many different kinds. I left at 5pm physically worn and drove with no direction from God, instead just “where do I feel like going”. I drove to the mountains and didn’t “feel” better so I drove to the desert and didn’t “feel” better so I drove to Las Vegas and still didn’t “feel” better so I kept driving east until 2am, complete exhausted and nearly hallucinating on the road.

Again, what I was doing was CRAZY, but this time truly cray-cray!!

no hotels

One of the reasons I kept driving, there were no hotels available for hundreds of miles!

And when I finally stopped driving out of necessity? Still no hotels! I ended up sleeping near a dumpster behind a restaurant in my car in 37-degree temperature for only 3.5 hours. When I woke up I had the (rational) thought, “what the hell am I doing here” and pointed home and started driving.

I believe the Divine Appointment was that there were no Divine Appointments. This was all about me and my feelings and God wasn’t going to bless this trip. He kept me alive, but my entire experience was miserable.


STEP THREE – What Does God Want to Reveal?

I could have just had the thought, the first trip was great and the second trip sucked and leave it at that.

I’m very intentional in my prayer life, and I know and expect that when I go to God with feelings of hurt and confusion that He wants to give me peace and rest through the types of comfort and revelation that only He can provide.

So when I asked God “what the hell was that about?” (yeah, we have a pretty casual dialect, He gets me) He was quick to respond.

Clearly, the Divine Appointments were off the charts different. In the first, I met with blue skies and blessings beyond measure. But trip 2 was dark and met with resistance and tension the entire time.

This was my Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde struggle that I battle with, and they each took their own version of their perfect trip.

Obviously, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, I was not the same person on both trips.

God was reminding me that my battle is not with “unfair or difficult circumstances”, it is always within myself.

STEP FOUR – The Perspective Shift

So what is my take-away?

Before making any decisions in life I have to make sure that The Four States are in order first. If any is not in balance, then getting them there becomes my highest priority at that exact moment. It will overshadow everything I do if I don’t.

And if all four are out at the same time, I’m at grave risk of making decisions that can physically or emotionally harm myself or others. It is not a rational place!

In the case of mental or physical illness (depression, chronic illness, etc…) I do not need to make excuses or feel guilty when saying “I can’t”.

If people don’t understand that I am doing what I have to do for me and are disappointed and take it personally, then that’s on them and not on me.

It comes down to self-care. What were my states?

Trip #1 – clarity of thoughts, emotionally stable, physically aware of self-care boundaries and spiritually consulting and trusting God with every risk-filled decision. This trip took place during the daytime – in the Light

Trip #2 – ruminating thoughts, emotionally unstable, physically exhausted and spiritually disconnected from God (and therefore susceptible to Satan’s influence on my decision-making processes). This trip was overnight – in the Darkness

If I had been more SELF-AWARE (and especially God aware) I would have realized that my desire to re-experience last year’s trip, albeit good, was entirely impossible in my current condition.

Not just one, but all four States were extremely out of balance and I should not have been on the road in the first place. Saved by Grace for sure!!

STEP FIVE – The New Action Plan

  1. SELF CARE MUST TAKE PRIORITY
    • I should not tackle any activity or make a critical decision if all 4 states aren’t well balanced. 
    • I shouldn’t feel guilty or compelled to meet other’s expectations if my 4 states aren’t well balanced.
  2. IF I AM STUCK IN ANY STATE – ASK FOR HELP!
    • Spiritual – find someone to pray with me
    • Physical – find someone to help me
    • Emotional – find someone who cares enough to sit with me in it
    • Mental – find someone to process with me

As obvious as those may seem, I don’t do them well, and I don’t do them consistently.

In fact, this whole exercise has given me a greater perspective of how when I let my emotions guide me I will almost always make bad choices.

I’ve been led by my emotions (mostly fear and pride) my entire life, and driven by a sense of shame and obligation in selecting the things I will do in life.

In many cases, they may have “looked like” love, but they were in fact just manipulations so I “looked good” to others so I could hopefully “feel good” about myself. (hard to admit that)

I believe this is what God talks about when He talks about the condition of our hearts.

Proverbs 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.

Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world,[a] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.


Well, what do you think?

2600 words are better than 6,000. But I still feel like I need to find a way to get to the point in smaller bites. I’ll keep trying 🙂

The problem is, there is a lot packed in there today. The beauty of this is, it’s nothing more than trying to explain the process of Sanctification, which is a combination of our willingness and God’s timetable.

So in essence, we are always right where we are supposed to be in our unique journey of redemption!

My message seems to be about revealing the places of darkness where the enemy of our souls has tricked us into believing things about ourselves, others and God that don’t serve, us, Him or others well.

Through greater self-awareness, we can become stewards of our own inner and outer selves and thereby serve God and others with a pure heart where everyone wins.

For those of us who have experienced childhood trauma or neglect, the process of self-care is not intuitive. In fact, the road ahead is hard.

But both God and Science agree: we can be transformed by the renewal of our mind!

Amen!!

Posted in faith, God's story, hope, love, my story, Nikaos, Nikaos.net, Recovery, The Life Mastery Project | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

We pause for a short intermission

I just wanted to pop in and say hi.

If you’ve been following you know I’ve been sharing a bit more raw and exposed stuff from my childhood, you can thank God for that as I invited him into that space and asked him to show where I was still hurting. He is definitely faithful.

Yesterday morning the counseling sessions continued to open Pandora’s box and pull out more nuggets that have been long tucked away. I was bouncing off the walls yesterday afternoon and left the house at 5 PM for a short drive to clear my head.

I ended up driving from Los Angeles to Utah, rolled in there at 2:30 AM this morning, slept in my car for 3.5 hours in 37 degree temps, woke up 6am and asked myself what the heck am I doing and drove straight home.

860 miles round-trip in 22 hours on three hours sleep for no good reason while having a chronic illness that increases fatigue exponentially… not my brightest day.

But I did get some “everyday parables”, and likely another episode on “Can Christians be depressed” series, but not today! I just got home and I need a shower and a 12hr nap.

So for now I just wanted to say and that I’m grateful to be home safe. It may not have been an epic journey but it sure was a big one crammed in a very small window.

Prayers you all are having a blessed day!

G

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Everyday Parables – The Old Hammock

Jesus Visits Martha and Mary

38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”


This photo of Comfort Suites Seven Mile Beach is courtesy of TripAdvisor

A friend of mine and I met one day just to connect and chat, pray and enjoy some good fellowship.

At one point he randomly said, I want to buy a hammock.

We small-talked about camping and the different kind of hammocks available for a while and as we were chatting, I had this overwhelming thought come to mind:

How much is our faith like a hammock, even if we’ve had it for a long time and we can see holes where our faith is imperfect, it can still support our weight, and it will always be the best place for us to find peace and rest. 

His reply: “You know George, sometimes a hammock is just a hammock”.

My reply: “not for me it isn’t, everything has a deeper meaning if you’re looking for it”

So, don’t worry about the condition of your hammock, just make sure to take advantage of it often and spend time basking in the comfort it provides.

Our faith is meant for us to use much more than we often do.

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What Do You Think Of Coincidences?

I was just reminded of a personal experience revolving around a coincidence a few years ago that was so powerful that it has become the “reason for my enduring faith”.

Granted it is only one of a hundred experiences since coming to Christ, but nothing even close to this.

And because of this one event, nobody will ever be able to convince me that the Trinity of God isn’t real and alive and present and active in our lives. 

Holy Spirit

source: Flickr

My Conversion

When I first came to Christ in 2011 I was on fire. I had a Saul to Paul conversion experience and I was shouting my testimony from the treetops, how God instantly released me from drugs and alcohol.

It was unbelievable how people were drawn to me, believers and unbelievers alike. They would come to my office on their breaks and share with me their story of pain, confusion and hurt and I would offer wisdom, advice, and prayer.

This happened a lot

Their Heartache

One coworker who I didn’t know really well came to me one day and shared with me how he and his wife used to be missionaries but now they were back home and his wife got hooked on crystal meth. His heart bled out all over the place, we prayed, I comforted and encouraged, and he left.

I didn’t think anything about that after that day, I rarely saw him and weeks had passed.

My Intercessory Prayer

One night around 9 pm I was making the hour-long drive home from visiting my son and about 15 minutes into the trip a literal pain shot through my chest and I was filled with a sense of extreme urgency; a panicked emotion was overwhelming.

It wasn’t a heart attack as I first thought, however, because instantly I saw that man’s wife in a battle for her life and I became terrified for her. I began to pray and cry.

Mind you, I have never had anything like that happen before (or since) and I had never done remote intercessory prayer before.

But, for the next half hour, I prayed for this woman’s life whom I’ve never met and only heard about briefly weeks earlier.

And I prayed, and I cried, and I got angry, then desperate. The emotions and urgency remain super strong.

“Lord, she’s in trouble, please help, please interceded, the enemy wants to destroy her and she is not strong enough to do this on her own. Have mercy Lord, fight the battle for her, bring her victory, protect her from the evil that surrounds her”

I’m not sure why, but I never thought about that incident after that night, it’s like I forgot about it by the next morning.

Until…

The Warfare

A couple weeks later the husband came in all excited and said: “George, I’ve been meaning to tell you something for weeks, you won’t believe it”.

I could see his excitement so I told him to sit and tell me all about it. And he did.

They had taken a homeless person into their home. They let him sleep and eat there. After a couple weeks the man said he wanted to start a bible study and asked if he could use their home, they gladly agreed.

It went great for a few weeks, but my co-worker’s wife would not come out and join them no matter how much he asked (begged) her.

Then one night, with no warning, she came into the room during one of the bible studies and confessed her addiction in front of everyone, broke down in tears and asked if they would pray for her.

Of course, they did, they all stood and gathered around her and prayed intense spiritual warfare prayers for a 1/2 hour straight, casting out demon strongholds and ushering in the protection of the Holy Spirit.

I was amazed at listening to the encounter and then all of a sudden it hit me, he said: “a couple weeks ago”!

I asked him exactly when. He replied that the study is on Wednesday nights.

Hmmm, I visit my son on Wednesday nights, I then asked exactly which night and at what time.

He said, well, we had just started at nine PM and she came in a little after that… probably around 9:15.

Yep, you guessed it.

One Holy Spirit

This man, whom I didn’t know well, and his wife, whom I’ve never met, and a group of people who were all strangers to me were all engaged in a spiritual warfare battle for her life some 30 miles away at the EXACT MOMENT that I was mysteriously complelled to pray for her.

That incident still chills me to the bone some 7+ years later.

Spiritual warfare is real, and our prayer matters

God will use us in the war if our body, mind, and soul is in right standing with God through faith in Christ.

So how do you feel about coincidences?

Acts 2:38 (NIV)

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Posted in Addiction, bible study, drugs, faith, God's story, Holy Spirit, Jesus, my story, The Cross, trials | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

SOAP: Day Fifteen – At The Exact Moment!

Forward

We are at the 1/2 way point in this 30 days of opening the Bible with the agenda of finding relevance to our modern-day life in rebuke to the false belief that the Bible isn’t relevant to us today.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve discovered that this process of looking for an application is providing exhortation in a whole different way than I am accustomed to.

I find it fascinating that I’m now seeing the actions and attitudes that people took which facilitated certain outcomes instead of just viewing the Bible as historical reference material.

For example, simply reading about Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well and learning that the final outcome was that many in the town of Samaria became followers of Jesus is interesting… but how does that affect me today?

However, when searching the passages for an application, I found that she was surprised by Jesus, called out by Jesus, then moved to a belief in Jesus, and lastly, she obeyed Jesus, shared her testimony with the town, invited others to come to see.  

Her being originally ignorant but staying engaged with Jesus and then being convinced and obedient is what saved the town; God used her to save a town!

It made me recognize that God wants to use us the same way. She didn’t need any huge theological teaching or persuasion, she was simply excited and intrigued about her encounter with Him and invited others to come to see.

It challenged me to look at my heart and ask if I am still excited about Jesus and do I invite others to Him to “see for themselves”.

What was originally just historical information became an exhortation by shining a spotlight on my relationship with Jesus and asking me to examine my level of enthusiasm and effectiveness in my own evangelism.

The reason I’m sharing this is that I have noticed that after only 15 days of this endeavor I am developing a new habit.

I’m being rewarded by the SOAP process and am beginning to look forward to it more each day.

One thing I wanted to point out in the Application Section. I post the questions first person and open-ended for a reason. It might be helpful if you were to ask yourselves the same questions that I am extracting for my own walk.

Who knows, might stir something?

I don’t share my answers because these are the kinds of things that are personal between us and God when we ask Him to reveal the condition of our own heart.

Our relationship with God is not anything others can properly judge because they don’t walk in our shoes… we simply just need to be honest with God and ourselves.

So, what do you say, are you still with me? 

Ok, let’s do this!


SonRoyalHeal

Healing the royal official’s son by Joseph-Marie Vien, 1752.

Scripture

John 4:43-54 (NIV)

Jesus Heals an Official’s Son

43 After the two days he left for Galilee. 44 (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) 45 When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, for they also had been there.

46 Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.

48 Unless you people see signs and wonders, Jesus told him, you will never believe.”

49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

50 Go,” Jesus replied, your son will live.”

The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52 When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”

53 Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.

54 This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.


Observation

  • v45 – They welcomed Him… They had seen Him before
  • v47 – He heard Jesus was in town…
  • v47 – He went to Him and begged…
  • v50 – Your son will live… the man took Jesus at His word
  • v53 – This was the exact time…

Application


v45 – Because they had already seen Jesus and knew of Him, they welcomed Him.

  • How do I experience Jesus, as someone whom I’ve seen at work in my life previously and I now welcome?
  • Is He familiar or is He a far off historical figure without influence or power who I don’t even give much thought too except on Sunday, “if” I go to church?

v47 – He heard Jesus was in town, which means other people were talking about Him in public places most likely.

  • Do I engage in conversations about Jesus with other Christians in the public space or keep those kinds of conversations reserved for private venues?

v47 – He went to Jesus and begged Him for intervention.

  • When I pray or go to Church or sing worship music or evangelize… do I have the sensation that I’m “going to Jesus”. 
  • Do I make my deepest hearts desire known when I do go to Him? 

v50 – The man believed Jesus when He said: “your son will live”. I think of so many verses along this line of response… your faith has made you well. Or ye have little faith. 

  • On a scale of 1-5, how much faith do I have that Jesus is there for me and wants to answer my righteous prayers? (not gumball machine prayers)
  • How much faith do I put in God’s Word and the Holy Spirit within me?
  • If those aren’t a 5, what can I do to grow in my faith?

v53 – The exact time Jesus said “he will live” the boy was healed.

  • How do I view coincidences, random acts or Divine Providence?

 


Prayer

Abba Father, Your desire is for all to come to know and rely on You. And Your promises are extravagant if we will do that. I thank You for Your Word that calls me (us) in closer, and that it reveals the only important task in my life, which is to come closer, to lean on You, to love You, to worship You, to forever be increasing my faith in You. I pray now, as I do every time Father, that anyone who might be reading this and who might be questioning their own faith, that they would be filled with a desire to move closer to You now. I know when they do Lord that you don’t hold back and rejoice in revealing more of Yourself in those moments. Thank You, Lord, for your unending love, mercy, kindness, and patience. May you be glorified this day. 


Make sure and check out this new post where I share the testimony of a “coincidence” that will likely blow your mind, it does mine over 7 years later!

If it didn’t happen to me I would have never believed it. 

Blessings in Christ,

George

Posted in Addiction, bible study, drugs, faith, God's story, gratitude, Jesus, my story, S.O.A.P | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment