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Tag Archives: Healing

Praying for Sick Friends

No verse.

Dear God, I am going to take a break from my normal patter this morning and just pray about something that is on my heart: grave illness.

My wife and I were talking over breakfast about a seminar she recently attended. As part of her presentation, the speaker talked about her son being diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma when he was a young teenager. He is now 22 and, I believe, in remission, but the process of going through that pain of treatment and fear of death was obviously life-altering.

I told her about a Facebook post I read yesterday from a high school friend whose daughter is in high school and fighting cancer. I cannot imagine that kind of suffering in watching my child go through something like that. It’s one thing to experience some of the typical and even atypical things we’ve experienced as parents, but to watch your child suffer a tragic health thing and then through difficult treatments must be brutal.

One of the things I said this morning is that it is one thing to say, “Well, if I got so sick that only radical treatments would save me, then I would just not get the treatment and accept my impending death.” It’s another thing to 1.) actually be faced with that decision, but 2.) even more so to have to make that decision with your minor child. At some point, I would think that CPS and the courts might even take that decision out of your hands. I don’t know. I can’t even wrap my head around it.

Father, the amazing thing about you is that you CAN wrap your head around it. You know all of this and what is going to happen. Thankfully, this high school friend is a believer and follower of you. She can see your mercies and grace in the midst of pain. I want to pray for her this morning. I want to pray for her entire family. And I want to pray for her daughter. Please be in the midst of this situation. Please make their path straight. Please heal. According to your will, Father, please flood this family with your presence, your peace, your mercy, and your healing. I also want to pray for another friend who is older than me and announced a couple of nights ago that he has elected to stop treatments for his disease and go on hospice. Flood him and his wife too. Help them to bathe in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Help them to float in your grace and joy. As your eyes move to and fro throughout the earth, strongly support them because I know their hearts are completely yours.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2019 in Miscellaneous

 

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Emails to God – The Courage to be Bold (Matthew 20:29-34)

29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

33 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”

34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

Dear God, I’ve never understood why the crowd rebuked the two men. Were they embarrassed by them? Isn’t that why they were there—to have Jesus do something special for them too? Why try to shut these men up?

What these men realized is that they had hit the lottery and they were going to cash in their tickets. Of all the blind people born in all of the world in all of history, these two were in the right place at the right time. They are part of a select group that actually saw you, incarnate, walk by. They had a chance to talk to you and ask for your mercy in person. They were not going to let it pass.

Sometimes life takes courage. There are opportunities that come up that I am too often too intimidated or reluctant to take advantage of. One of my biggest weaknesses as a manager is that I avoid confrontation when an employee is doing something wrong. I try to coax and maneuver them into the behavior I desire, but sometimes there is a place for bluntness. I almost fired someone yesterday because something got to the point with them where their behavior was crossing a line. I had talked to them about it before, and they said they understood, but yesterday I was in a position where I was able to leave no doubt  about what I expect. My regret is that I let it fester as long as I did. Frankly, it wasn’t fair to this employee that I hadn’t.

Father, there is an old hymn, “Spirit of the Living God, Fall Fresh on Me,” that ask you to, “Break me, mold me, fill me, use me…” I think I am good at breaking myself through my mistakes and failures. I pray that you will take the broken parts, mold me into your image, fill me with your Spirit, and use me however you will.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2012 in Matthew

 

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Emails to God – Why Don’t I Fast More? (Matthew 17:14-21)

14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” [21]

Dear God, Mark’s telling of this story includes the line about this kind only coming out through prayer and fasting. Why don’t I fast more? I can tell you that every time I have fasted I have seen you move.

The most recent time was about two months ago. I was facing a funding crisis for a project on a Monday that would cost a lot of money. I was overwhelmed and distraught. So I decided to do something I haven’t done in a while and take a day to fast and pray about the situation. I did so the next day (Tuesday). The first thing that happened was that a large donor called me out of the blue on that very day and told me that he was thinking about us and the situation and to let him know if we need anything. Basically, he was good for a chunk of it. Then I contacted two different foundations who know us. They each told me that they would be willing to get us 1/3 of it. Then on Friday I talked to a fourth resource who told me that they would help. So, within four days I had nearly all of the money lined up. Why? Because I was so brilliant? No. I am convinced it is because I took the time to fast and pray, asking you to intervene in a big way—which you graciously did. I even emailed the first man and told him how you used him in my life.

Father, there are other things that I should fast and pray for. The leadoff hitter is probably my kids. They are teenagers and need your protection. I need to fast and pray for them. My marriage is approaching the 20-year mark, and I need to spend more time fasting for it. I have friends who are struggling. I need to fast and pray about that. Our organization at work is still facing formidable challenges. I need to fast and pray about that as well. So I commit to you that I will do that. I am going to pick a day that week to fast and pray to you so that you will be glorified in all of these areas of my life.

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2012 in Matthew

 

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Emails to God – Just to Touch His Cloak (Matthew 14:34-36)

34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

Dear God, this constant attention must have seemed relentless—not only to Jesus, but also to the disciples.

It is interesting to see that the cloak is emphasized here. It doesn’t say that Jesus healed them or touched them. It says that they “begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak.” There was just such desperation. People were leaving their work and their lives to follow him around. Now they were coming from everywhere just to touch his cloak. There are times when I think that our society is drifting so far from you because we are simply not desperate enough. You can count me in that boat too. I think I am not more dependent upon you because I am not desperate enough to go anywhere or do anything just to touch your cloak.

Father, I don’t want to be desperate in a sense of need, but I do want to be desperate for you. I want to be willing to do anything you ask of me at any given time. I want to be a living sacrifice to you. I want to offer all that I am up to you for all that you are. I want you to live through me and touch others through me. Help me to be a better representative of you to my wife, my children, and everyone else with whom I come into contact today.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2012 in Matthew

 

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Emails to God – A God Who Understands Setbacks (Matthew 14:13-21)

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Dear God, when I stop and think about the numbers, 5,000 people (not counting women and children) is A LOT of people back then. That’s a good-sized small town. And they had followed Jesus to a remote place that he had chosen for solitude and mourning. He was a rock star by any definition, but he was a rock star that cared about their needs. He not only had compassion and healed their sick. He also cared about their need for food.

But I want to focus for a second on Jesus’ need for a little mourning time after John was killed. This must have been painful for him. John was his cousin, and, while we don’t know how much they knew each other from their childhood and earlier years, we know that they knew each other. We know that they each knew WHO the other was. This was surely something that shook Jesus as he made his way through human life.

There are things that shake me all of the time. I remember several years ago when I found out my parents were separating. I was in my mid-thirties and yet it really threw me. I took a day off from work to kind of clear my head. I distinctly remember sitting at a park and watching my five-year-old daughter play while I processed the potential death of a marriage that was important to me (they eventually reconciled). Sure, I eventually was able to function again, but just the idea of my parents divorcing shut me down for a bit.

Father, thank you that you are a God who knows what it is to mourn. You are a God who understands the human condition. You understand what it is like to lose a loved one, suffer poverty, be tempted by power, have a friend betray you, etc. Help me as I experience the various trials that come my way. Help me to accomplish the work outside of the home that you have for me to accomplish. Help me to love my wife. Help me to parent my children. Help me to befriend the friendless. Help me to draw closer to you and then allow you to flow through me into my own life and to others around me.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2012 in Matthew

 

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Emails to God – A Coded Message from Jesus to John (Matthew 11:1-6)

Matthew 11:1-6

1 After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns ofGalilee.

2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

Dear God, there are two interesting things here: 1. John the Baptist doubted. Sure he was in prison, but his faith waned. 2. Jesus said, “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” That implies that there will be those who stumble, but it is their fault that they stumble. But there will also be those who do not stumble over Jesus and his teaching, but embrace it and walk with it. Those people will be celebrated (blessed).

Regarding John’s doubts, this is so encouraging for me because he knew Jesus for most of his life. He somehow knew who Jesus was in terms of being the messiah at Jesus’ baptism. And yet, sitting in prison, facing death for being so outspoken, he doubted. He wondered if he had done it all for nothing. He had been so radical in his life. Should he have been?

So Jesus affirmed him. The affirmation is a little cryptic. I wonder if it was an inside deal with them. I wonder if they talked as children and dreamed of what would happen when Jesus came into his ministry. In essence, this seems cryptic, but it is a code that John would understand?

I wonder if this second part (about the stumbling) was part of the code too. I wonder if, as children, they talked about how they would offend and be rejected by some. John was looking for some peace and restoration of his faith. I never thought of it before, but I wonder if Jesus was doing that by taking advantage of the personal relationship they had had since their childhoods.

Father, there are times when my faith fails. Frankly, my faith was needing some affirmation on Monday. I took a day to fast and pray and then you spent the rest of the week affirming my faith. Thank you. Thank you for how you have answered my prayers. Thank you for how you will continue to answer my prayers. You care about me. You care about those around me whom you want to bless through me. So I submit myself to you and thank you for not rejecting me for my mini crises in faith, but, instead, you affirm me and bless me.

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2012 in Matthew

 

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Emails to God – Riding Jesus’ Coat Tails (Matthew 9:18-26)

18 While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.

20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”

22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

23 When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, 24 he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. 25 After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 26 News of this spread through all that region.

Dear God, this is almost the Cliff’s Notes version of these two stories. Matthew streamlines them for us. He doesn’t go through the whole process of Jesus asking who touched him to be healed. He doesn’t tell us about the little girl’s mourners who try to get rid of him. He just gives us a glimpse of Jesus’ power, and how it is related to the involved people’s respective faith. Mark gives us more detail, but Matthew gives us the basics. I am glad we have access to both.

In this case, Matthew is showing us a man who is, indeed, the Messiah. He is showing us the raw power that flowed through Jesus’ human frame. He (Matthew) remembers it as being one of the first things that happened when he joined the group. That must have been amazing for Matthew. I can imagine that he would have felt excited about his decision to leave his tax collection business and join Jesus’ entourage.

Of course, there will come a time when Matthew will wonder if he had made the biggest mistake of his life—namely the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. But for now, this is exciting stuff. Jesus is obviously special, and Matthew gets to ride the wave a little.

Father, remind me of how special you are. Yes, there are times of struggle, and each day has a little bit of struggle for me now, but for the most part, this is a time when I can look at just about every area of my life and see your blessings. So help me to remember that. Help me to feel your smile and live into the love that you have for me today. Help me to worship you the way you deserve to be worshipped.

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2011 in Matthew

 

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Emails to God – Do I Appreciate Sin Forgiveness? (Matthew 9:1-8)

1 Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2 Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”

3 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”

4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” 7 Then the man got up and went home. 8 When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.

Dear God, did Jesus intend to heal this man or simply forgive him of his sins? In reading the way this is written in the NIV, it is almost as if he would have let the forgiveness be the end of it. It was only when he was trying to prove a point to the teachers of the law that he moved forward with the healing. Perhaps he intended this all along, and this is how he was making his point. But it’s interesting to consider the idea that Jesus saw this man’s biggest need as getting his sins forgiven as opposed to walking. Do we perhaps take getting our sins forgiven too lightly?

I would say that we definitely take the forgiveness of our sins by you for granted. This is probably something that all Christians need to covet more—the idea that you would choose to forgive our sins. My mind tells me that healing someone and making them walk again is the bigger miracle, but I suppose if I were before you and your glory, and scared out of my mind (see Isaiah), then the idea at that moment that you would give me a “pass” for my sins would seem like a bigger deal than you healing my physical body.

Father, help me to remember the glory of your grace and redemption. Help me to remember to share that glory with others. For those who are lost and still seeking, please help me to share your love with them. Be glorified in me so that others might see you through me. Let that start with my children and my wife, and then flow into my coworkers, family and friends.

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2011 in Matthew

 

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Emails to God – Who will Pass This Way? (Matthew 8:28-34)

28 When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. 29 “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”

30 Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31 The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”

32 He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. 33 Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.

Dear God, the end of verse 28 strikes me: “They were so violent that no one could pass that way.” There was a problem in the community’s midst and no one was willing to deal with it. Instead, they all worked around it and just waited for it to go away.

I can easily see myself doing that. The easiest thing to see in my life is homeless people. I run across them all of the time in my work, and they are soooo hard to help. Frankly, it’s intimidating to help them because you know it will require 1.) so much and 2.) so long. There isn’t a quick fix for some people. We have to invest in them, and, unfortunately, I find that I am not often up for the investment.

On the other hand, I saw some people last week make the decision to invest in someone’s life. They found a woman who is seemingly homeless. I say “seemingly” because it is hard to know exactly what the truth is. They brought her to us for dental care, but, between this one couple at one church and other man at another church, they have helped her with food, shelter, and even got her a job. How will it end? When will it end? Where will it end? I don’t know, but I know that I really admire these people because they decided to do what the people in this story wouldn’t do. They went the way that others didn’t want to pass and reached out to help.

Father, first, I pray for this woman and the people who are helping her. Guide her and direct her on her path. Draw her into you. Help her to feel you and your presence. Give her a long-term solution for her life. Second, I pray for the people who are ministering to her. Protect them and give them the strength, wisdom, and discernment they need to be your hands and feet to her. Give them an extra measure of joy this Christmas. And, finally, I pray that you will guide my family and me through each situation we encounter. Give us the courage to “pass that way” so that we might be a source of your love for others. Help me to teach your compassion to my children. Help me to understand what it is you would have me to do at any given moment.

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2011 in Matthew

 

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Emails to God – Debating Prosperity Gospel (Matthew 8:14-22)

14 When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.

16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

“He took up our infirmities

and bore our diseases.”

18 When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”

20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Dear God, I got into an interesting conversation with a couple of pastors last night. There is a certain television pastor out there who I cannot stand because of his prosperity message. This came up during my conversation with them and, to my surprise, they started defending him. Really? This guy? Is there something in this guy I have missed? Is there are depth there I haven’t seen? I respect these two men and feel that they have earnest faith. How can they support what this guy preaches?

I kind of liken it to this passage. In my own theology of how you work, there are people you intended to be wealthy, people you intended not to be wealthy, and people you intended to be poor. It’s not fair. To our eyes, it can sometimes seem like there is no rhyme or reason to it. Young, good people die. Old, grouchy people live. Who can explain it? But I think that a lot of my feelings on the subject come back to passages like this.

People started following Jesus because they got excited about him. They were excited about the miracles and they wanted to be near the power. So when a teacher of the law (I actually never noticed before that this was a teacher of the law who was saying this) said he would follow Jesus anywhere, Jesus had a surprising response. The same for the other disciple—a very insensitive response. He was saying that there was going to be a cost for following Jesus. Material possessions and ease of life were not necessarily part of the deal. For some they might be. But for others they won’t be. Heck, look at John the Baptist. He was fulfilled spiritually, but he did not live an easy life, nor did he die an easy death.

Father, I hope I didn’t offend these men too much, but, I’m sorry, I just don’t buy it. I just don’t buy that you intended all of us who love you to live materially rewarded lives. The poor widow who Jesus saw put in her tiny offering went home poor and probably spent the rest of her life poor. That’s just how it is for some. They have a role to play. In her case, she is an example to me, and she never knew she would be. Help me to be willing to endure whatever it is you have for me to endure regardless of whether or not I see the purpose. And while I am thinking about it, for the wonderful blessings you give to me, including a good job and a healthy family, I thank you so much. You have been more than doubly good to me.

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2011 in Matthew

 

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