Thursday, July 17, 2014

Death

We need to feel helpless to appreciate and recognize our need for God.
The problem with that is: I don't want to! I want God to empower me to be fruitful for Him! I want to have such amazing faith that I don't stumble over my own inconsistencies! I want to pray and see Him work, instead of to do all that and watch as nothing changes. Sometimes I feel like I'm sitting alone in a big empty bubble, just watching others in their bubbles struggle. There's no escape, nothing I can do. I cry out to the Lord but my voice doesn't project. Where does our help come from? When will it come and who will it reach?

This week, an amazing woman of God died. Her name was Jessica Marie Hehn, and she was the first person I ever prayed for who was healed...and now she's dead.
Jessica was extremely young and healthy. She was actually a very successful vegan health guru, who was newly married and excited to have babies. Out of nowhere she was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. Can you imagine a more insulting diagnosis than lung cancer for someone so healthy? Right after I was healed she called me and I boldly told her about Jesus. I boasted about The Lord Who Heals and when I paused to take a breath I was surprised that she responded,"Oh, I know He will heal me." She had the faith I was sure no one else had. The faith that took me months of sleepless nights, hundreds of desperate prayers, thousands of mental debates, to grow to the size of a mustard seed. Since then I've talked to many more ailing people and she is still the only one so certain of her earthly healing. And she was right! That is, until she wasn't.

It was pretty quick that Jessica was healed and she praised the Lord for it. That was a few years ago now. I don't know when it came back or any other details, but a few weeks ago she got sick and couldn't recover. I'm very sad about that, but I'm more devastated by the last post I saw by her husband, right before she died. He faithfully declared that he knew the Lord would heal her. I know, I know that she was healed in heaven--that's what we say to him when we hug him in the receiving line. That's what we say to each other so we don't have to evaluate our theology or dare to question our own faith. In truth, Jessica and her husband did it all right. They prayed and believed He would heal her. They gave the glory to God. They boldly fought off all desire to water down their beliefs to match up with the world's expectations. And, then...she was rewarded by going to heaven, and he had to stay on earth. Without his wife. Without proof to support his faith. Without a reason to keep believing.

Oh, the agony of defeat! The heartbreaking ache of emptiness that comes with this helplessness! The anger from recognizing there is no one left to blame. This is the state of mind we often must embrace to recognize the Lord. The graver the despair, the more clearly we see our surroundings. The more we appreciate when He moves. I'm ready to appreciate Him! Ready for what He will show the whole world when He finally deals with all this cancer and pain. Ready.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: First to the Jew, then to the Gentile." Romans 1:16

Monday, July 7, 2014

Big Prayer Request!

A few weeks ago the Lord put it on my heart to set up a 24-hour prayer time for a few of the very sick ladies I know with cancer. I would have liked to do it with more notice but there's a sudden, more urgent need for it so we went ahead and scheduled it to start this Wednesday (7/9). We are trying to get people to sign up to pray in 1-hour increments for 24 hours, so please consider taking a slot (or, 22 of them... :).
When you look at a day it doesn't seem hard to pray for an hour, but I think when you sit down to do it it's overwhelming. People who've done tons of this can pray for several hours, but those people are much holier than me. So, I'm going to share my "Praying for Dummies" tips. I'm not name-calling here, just thought I'd break it down so it doesn't seem so daunting.

1. Try to get somewhere alone. Even from the dog, who seems so sweet and cuddly until you try to focus on prayer and he starts bringing you the ball. Move anything distracting away--there is no such thing as multitasking appropriately while praying. I have prayed in the car (parked in the garage), in a variety of different closets, the yard, Abi's bed, the bathroom...I do best praying late at night or early in the morning because then I can sit at a table but still not be interrupted.
2. Prepare your prayer list, a Bible, paper, a pen, any notes/scriptures you've been meditating, and any good lists of scriptures you have (I have a Biblical promises one that's good, and I try to look those up in the Bible to get a better idea of the context while praying).
3. Set your clock for a start and stop time (if it's for something like this day of prayer--otherwise you don't need an end time). You might be having such a great time with God that you don't want to end it, but usually if you don't have the end time set it's like working out--you start watching the clock to see how much longer. Once your clock is set you can turn that part of your brain off and just wait for it to tell you you're done.
4. Pray out loud. Doesn't matter if you're alone or not (although obviously alone is better). This helps you stay awake (What's that? I'm the only one who falls asleep while praying? Riiiight...). It also helps you stay focused. Your ears hear the way you drift off to planning your day or making a shopping list, and get you back on track.
5. Write down the random, off-topic things that come to mind so you don't deceive yourself and think you're supposed to cut your prayer time short and do those things. Once they're written down, forget about them until later.
6. Also write down the cool things God shows you, because sometimes when you're done you can't remember it all.
7. When you're out of things to pray about, go through the little tips you know, like praying the way Jesus did, ACTS, ABCs (look these up), or just ask God to help you pray. If you're praying for another person, ask for empathy and brokenness for her, and He will increase your passion and interest in interceding for her. Make sure to think back to all the amazing things He has done for you or others and thank Him for those.
8. Remember that prayer is communicating with God, so just talking at Him isn't enough. Talk to Him and leave time for Him to answer. Ask Him to prepare your heart to hear from Him, ask Him to show you anything you need, and then just be still. Jot down anything that comes to mind but wait, wait, wait for more. It's not always the first thing that comes to mind that you need to know. Sometimes it's waiting in faith for more answers. More of His heart. More wisdom. When you find your mind wandering off, do your best to control it or just move back to talking out loud to God.
9. Don't be ashamed to be honest with God. He knows it all anyway, and the brokenness that comes from admitting your sin and struggles helps you grow closer to Him and to be more holy.
10. Seemed like a good idea to have an even 10 points here, but I can't think of another.

Anyway, here is some information about the 24-hour prayer-a-thon. Please consider signing up. You can pray from anywhere for an hour and it'll bless you so much to see how He answers! Sometimes it isn't in the way we expect or desire.

If you're local, we'll be ending the 24-hours with group prayer at 9am on Thursday at Four Oaks Community Church.

To sign up to pray:
 1. Click this link to go to our invitation page on VolunteerSpot: http://vols.pt/s6X85n
   2. Enter your email address: (You will NOT need to register an account on VolunteerSpot) 
   3. Sign up! Choose your spots - VolunteerSpot will send you an automated confirmation and reminders.
Note: VolunteerSpot does not share your email address with anyone. If you prefer not to use your email address, please email epetscher@gmail.com and I can sign you up manually.

Barbara H.
Barbara has been praying with faith for her physical healing from cancer for 18 months. Back in January of 2013, she was advised to contact hospice but chose to trust in the Lord instead of that fear, and He has blessed her for it. However, she and her husband, Dan, are struggling with some discouragement and despair as her body is exhausted from chemotherapy and the cancer metastasized to her liver and lungs. From Exodus 17:11-12, we remember that Moses was tasked with holding his arms up so his men could win a battle. His friends came along and helped to hold his arms up. Barbara has been praying for others for many years, and in that way she has taken a turn holding up the arms of others. We are ready to hold hers up now and to see the Lord's glory as He completely heals her and restores her health.

Exodus 17:11-12
So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set.

Gulan
Gulan was born in Cuba, the daughter of a Cuban woman and a Chinese immigrant. She is the loving mom of two daughters and grand mom to eight grandchildren. She and her husband emigrated to the United States in 1970 from Cuba in hopes of making a better life for their children. She and her husband later divorced. She made many sacrifices including working in a non-air conditioned factory for years to provide for her girls, many times going without for herself so that her girls would have what they needed. With God's help she put both girls through college. She was a smoker. She gave up smoking ten years ago.  She was diagnosed with adeno carcinoma, non-small cell lung cancer five years ago. She also has emphysema and heart disease. She is a strong woman, dealing with a lot of fear….but courageous, nonetheless because she has faced her fears over and over again. God has been good to her in many ways. She came to know Him and realize that He was the one that watched over her on a Mother's Day many years ago. She can point out His faithfulness in her life over the years. Thank you for your prayers for her.

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Karen W.
Karen has been battling breast cancer for many years and the more it spreads into her body, the more desperate she is for the miracle it will take for her to survive and be healthy to continue to raise her children. She has two daughters and a son—her son is the youngest at 11 years old. Karen has an amazing husband and is saddened that her whole family has had to sacrifice and form so many memories of her being sick. Karen is going through chemotherapy and is unable to eat, so is extremely thin and frail. Her mother is moving in to help physically support Karen and the rest of the family. Please join us in praying for her total physical healing, and that she will spend many years completely pain and cancer free, enjoying the gifts the Lord shares and serving as a living testimony for the power and mercy of the Lord God Almighty!


Job 9:15

Though I were innocent, I could not answer Him; I could only plead with my judge for mercy.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Art of Worthlessness and the Joy of Hope

I'm totally worthless, and I don't say that in some sort of low self-esteem, depressed tone. I mean that I am completely devoid of all value. The things I do each day could be done by anyone. I live now to glorify God and not only do I repeatedly fail to do so, it also doesn't matter to anyone but me that I do. The thing about God is that He doesn't NEED me to do it (Acts 17:25, "And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else"). He graciously allows me to do it. Each time is a blessing. Because my heart is such that I passionately desire to brag about God and His mightiness. I long to extol the Lord because I have experienced His love and character. I know Him and want others to taste the joy that comes with it. 

I pray for many miracles, and have not seen many lately. I do not pray for them because I'm stuck on some thought that God doesn't want or allow suffering. I pray for them because I want every person on the earth to experience a supernatural, perfect answer to prayer. We shouldn't need to experience such miracles because our faith is in what can't be seen, but the honor of being involved as a recipient of a miracle or to observe the answered prayer is life-changing. Seriously. If you haven't experienced one, change your life until you do. And by that, I mean literally, get on your knees and pray to the only one who can create the world and everything in it, and seek His face. He will guide you from there. There's no formula, just an honest desire to find Him and when you do you will be forever changed.

Proverbs 10:28 The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.

I often think back to when my friend Debora was healed last October. It's really embarrassing, what a hypocrite I was about it, actually. I had prayed (along with many) with utter abandon and brokenness for her to be healed. The stage 4 breast cancer had metastasized to vital organs that didn't respond well to chemo. She'd been off chemo for awhile and the scans had not shown improvement so we our only hope was back in His mighty hands. For days we waited and waited for her PET scan results and finally, instead of those coming through, I got an email that another friend was in labor with a child. As the hours passed, I lost my faith.  I had a feeling of dread--I was certain that God would not heal Debora and let my friend have a healthy baby on the same day. For the umpteenth time, I just "knew" Him, and "felt" this was so. When I finally heard my friend's baby was born healthy I broke down. I was happy for her but was certain that this demonstrated that He had made His choice. Clearly, He had chosen my friend and her baby` over Debora. I was so disappointed, completely crushed. And little angry, to be honest.

I kept praying for Debora while the time ticked by, because I had assured Him that I wouldn't give up, but my faith was shaken. I was like Peter who boldly stepped out of the boat but looked around and started sinking. Like always, I wanted others to pull me up and assure me that God would work, but when they didn't my faith wasn't strong enough to keep my head above water (Mth 14:29).

It was after regular business hours that we even got the call, so I had stopped watching the phone. I'm so grateful that it had no signal because it meant Debora had to leave me a voicemail that I can preserve for the long term. The memory of what God did for her is recorded there whenever I check my messages--all the incurable, terminal cancer was gone. Doctors couldn't do it. Medicine and diet were unable. But God was able. And willing. It's not about the cancer, it's about His mercy. He answers prayer. He wants us to see that. To feel it. I embrace just the memory of the feeling that I had that night when I was reminded of His righteousness. Of His goodness. Of His Sovereignty. Yet again, He broke down the walls of the box I continually try to put Him in and allowed me to see even more of Him than I did when He healed me. I didn't sleep that night. There was so much joy. Inexpressible Joy. It consumed me so much that I couldn't really function. Words didn't express it and memories don't fully preserve it. That joy is merely a fraction of what we will experience in heaven for all eternity, when He restores our bodies and invites us into eternity with Him. I'm sure many of you who prayed for me felt that joy when I was healed as well. I am truly worthless in all I do, but He still looked at me and valued me highly enough to pour out a huge measure of His awesomeness that day.

God doesn't heal everyone, as we know and many, many, many, many, many people make sure to remind me all the time. But He chooses to heal many. He chooses to answer our prayers and open the window to His goodness for we who don't deserve it. We, who think we know Him but actually can't guess His next move. We will never guess who He will choose, so all we can do is follow through with His commands. He says to pray for the sick, so we pray (James 5:13-16). He says to believe He will answer, so we believe (Mark 11:24). He says to worship Him with all our hearts, minds and souls, and so we do (Luke 10:27). It's hard and scary but the rewards are beyond all measure.

And, incidentally, if you don't have any of "your own" sick people to pray for, please pray for some on my list! The three miracles we are begging for right now all have late stages of terminal cancer. Karen, Barbara, and Gulan have faith and desire to be healed, so please lift them up and beg Him to bolster their faith and relieve their physical and mental pain!

Hebrews 10:23-2 

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

An End to Suffering

Yesterday at tee ball I chatted with friends and moaned about the heat while Abigail gingerly batted and skipped around the bases. I barely paid attention and mostly waited for the game to end so we could get on with the day. On the way home Abi mentioned that a little girl on her team doesn't have a mommy. Because her mom died of stage 4 cancer. One of my first thoughts was, "Why didn't I know?" because I'm That selfish. I actually think I know every woman in town who is sick. Or that I have a supernatural sense for when a motherless child is on the tee ball field. Or that it would have actually made a difference if I had known.

My next realization was that it could have been me. With one different choice from our Savior, Abigail would have been the motherless one on the team. Naomi would spend her time in daycare and the workers there would feel so sad when she was confused and tried to call them "Mom". It could have been me. God doesn't make mistakes, so it shouldn't have been me in that sense, but if you look at how worthless I am as a person, a mother, Christian, wife, sister, daughter and friend, it should have been me. Someone who doesn't even enjoy the blessings of this life doesn't deserve to be the recipient of a miraculous gift. But as quickly as that sorrow sinks in, it is replaced by the Lord's still, calming, all-encompassing peace. He saved me because of His grace, His mercy, His plan--not mine. I could actually be a fruitful person, I could be close to perfect in all I do, gracious, devoted, and compassionate. But I still would never earn His love.





Ephesians 2:4-9






"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God."








I've been surrounded by suffering lately. So many people are sick and dying, and God pointed out to me that as a society we sort of celebrate suffering. It is obviously helpful for us, because the more we suffer the more we seek God and recognize our need for Him. But I wonder if we celebrate suffering more than we celebrate Him. When you think of the Bible, I think an outline would reveal that the whole thing points to Jesus, our Savior. We all suffer, it is biblical, but that's not the theme of the Bible. The Good News isn't about us at all. It's about Jesus and what we do with Him and His truth. 











"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news" Romans 10:15











I think it's time to put an end to the suffering. I'm ready to remember the lessons He brought us through it instead of focusing on the circumstances. Seems to me that we find a lot of reasons to wait on celebrating Him. We have a hard time rejoicing in Him when we're suffering. Some of us even think about how we'll be doing all that rejoicing in heaven, like that nullifies the fact that we already have our Savior! We live in a fallen and sinful world, but that doesn't make God any less...God. He doesn't change so He won't be any "better" in heaven, we just won't have as many crummy circumstances that color our view of Him. 










"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds" James 1:2













I think the original point of singing songs in church was to praise Him for His sacrifice and presence. That the appreciation for who He is would overflow so abundantly from our hearts that we would be incapable of withholding beautiful musical offerings toward the heavens. I had a little vision today at church, of what it would be like if we all actually entered the sanctuary in that state of mind. That we would all simultaneously arrive at the conclusion that God Almighty is perfect, loving, amazing, sovereign, all-knowing, pure love and MUST be praised! That it doesn't need to wait until the perfect song is played, or fit into the 17 minute pre-scheduled worship time. That our love for God would spill from us so readily that we wouldn't care that we don't sing well or don't know the words, we would just rejoice at His awesomeness without delay.









"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!" Psalm 150:6

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Suffering and all that jazz

Here's what's keeping me up on this lovely evening: Suffering. Not that I'm personally suffering more than usual, but there are some ideas floating in my head that I think the Lord is trying to teach me about. For one thing, I'm praying for two very sick women with breast cancer. Honestly, both are about to die. But one is ready and waiting for heaven, and the other is still praying for a miracle. She's a believer, so is it her heart's desire because He put it there and is waiting for us to pray and believe she will be healed? Or is she struggling to trust Him with her children once she's gone? Afraid of this heaven we read about, which sounds so great but is eternal and, therefore, beyond our understanding? 
How do we pray for people who suffer when we don't get marching orders straight from Him? Isn't this faith that can move mountains big enough to expect and ask for things greater than our friends can hope for? Do we dishonor Him with safe prayers like those to "ease suffering"?

Jesus set the example with, "Father, if you are willing take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." Luke 22:42. We can't go wrong praying the way Jesus did! But Jesus was God and knew His mission was to die for our sins. Karen, the one who wants to live, has no idea what He wants. So, we pray for more faith for us and for her. We pray when she is too sick to do so herself, that angels will minister to her and lift her up. We pray for her broken heart to heal on earth, and that she will not feel ashamed or deserted, but will experience His true, unshakable love. And we pray in agreement with her to the only One who was given all authority on earth (Matthew 28:18) to completely remove all her cancer. That she will not die but live and proclaim what He has done (Ps 118:17). Then we close our prayer back in rightfully humble place, remembering that we are servants to the only one who is truly faithful. That His glorious and perfect will is done with both of these ladies.

Ephesians 3:19-21 "and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."

Here's a little housekeeping: I'm having some trouble with this blog, so for the past year or so people couldn't "join" it. I thought it was weird that people kept telling me they read it but there were no new followers. I'm not sure how or if that differs from subscribers, which I can't see at all but seems to send emails. So, if you haven't ever followed it, please do so because I think it's time to move off Blogger and that will be a way to make sure everyone gets the address change. Also, I've read a bit about what a pain that change is (and that I can lose access to this blog at any time, how sad!), so if you have tips or suggestions please send them my way!

My final update is that although I stated a few weeks ago that I was trying to write a fiction book about all this cancer, it's just not coming together as I hoped. I guess I got the message wrong from the Lord, so please please pray for me to hear what I am supposed to do. I have several thoughts but don't want to continue taking the wrong avenues. Over the past few years I have been blessed to verbally share my testimony on an average of every two months. But now I have none on the books and I'm not sure if that means it's time to change my focus or not. I do LOVE to share what the Lord has done though so please let me know of any opportunities!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Pain and Comfort

A well-known Tallahassee resident is about to die because of breast cancer. She's battled it for years with many ups and downs, but now her liver is failing so no one expects a recovery.
Everything she is going through is exactly what I used to be afraid of. It's exactly what I prayed against--people not believing she has enough faith to survive, people adjusting their prayers from requests for healing to begging for her to be released from her awful time in "this life". When she passes many will sigh with relief as the burden of having worried about and sacrificed so much for her over the years passes.They will talk about how she's in a better place now. And they will be right. 

Maybe having watched her health decline will make it easier for her boys and her devoted best friend to recover from losing her. Maybe having hundreds of people offer hugs and platitudes will ease the pain. Perhaps all the flowers that are delivered will send delicate fragrances that seep into their consciousness and revive special memories of happy days spent with her. Or, maybe none of this will help. 

Probably the fact that her boys have no mother will put a damper on the summer. The scent of the flowers will likely become a stench to all who cross them, a reminder that she cannot smell them any longer. Those who loved her will have pain that cannot be covered by reminders of this heaven that we cannot fully envision. 

Self-control and smiling faces can mask the pain but only one thing can remove it. The One who endured it all but didn't have to (Hebrews 12:2). The One who truly understands what we go through and promises to comfort us with the peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7). The one who is closer than a brother, who sustains us on our sick bed but still numbers our days (Ps 3:5; Job 14:5). Only He can bring true healing, and only He will bring true healing (Jer 30:17). 

2 Corinthians 1:3-4, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ending that 21 day challenge and some prayers/praises

I need to take a minute to post a few prayer requests that people have made me aware of (usually through comments on here) If you send them to me, please let me know the results, the less we know the harder it is to pray, and honestly when there are so many to pray for sometimes it's the details we learn that remind us in daily life of the circumstances and ignite our passions...

First, Abbie is my neighbor who had brain surgery for a non-cancerous tumor a few months ago. She had to leave her family to go for radiation in a different city for 6 weeks! Please pray for her total, permanent healing, no side effects or problems with the radiation, peace and provision for all involved, and a miraculous restoration of her lost vision! God can DO it! Pray that this is an amazing time for every family member, not one filled with sadness or fear. Luke 12:28-31, "But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you."

A man named Radu who is only 31, with two children, was recently diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. Please, please pray for his faith, peace, and total, miraculous healing. Pray that the Lord will use those around him to truly encourage him, and that his hope and strength will be found in the Lord. There is something about this case that really stirs me up. I think we will pray Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Also, a wife named Naz is asking for serious prayer for her husband, who has stage 4 pancreatic cancer. There is a little information and a request for financial support here: http://familyfightingcancer.wordpress.com. Please pray for them and see if He leads you to contribute money or a nice note in the comments, a special verse, etc. 
I think we pray for total peace, that their finances and other concerns of this world would be cast aside so they can enjoy time together without the incomprehensible burden. Pray that He would bless them each with one-track minds and be reflections of you despite their circumstances. And pray for each of their faith, health, spiritual, and physical healing that will all be to glorify the Holy One.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Ephesians 1:2

An anonymous person posted about her mother's stage 1 breast cancer. Pray for both of their peace, as it's so tempting to get caught up in the terror that comes along with troubles of this world. Pray that the cancer will be permanently removed from her body and that it will not be permitted to control their thoughts or bodies! Matthew 6:31-33, "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

Tamara had cancer (I think it was breast but not positive) in the past and is fighting it again. Please pray for her and her friends and family's assurance that the Lord has a perfect plan and will turn all things the enemy intends for evil into good. Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."


A friend of mine's mother and sisters have all battled breast cancer and anger. Please pray He will be glorified through all of it and that they would turn from trusting themselves and blaming Him to trusting in Him and seeing His goodness.Romans 8:5, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit."

My friend Mandy's mother has been battling a return of multiple myeloma and we are praying that He will make it disappear so they can extol the great things the mighty one does! John 15:5, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."

Okay, the end of the 21 day challenge (which has taken about 4 months to get through!) is here. 
Day 20
John 20
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripturethat Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 
and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other
 at the foot. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” 
she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw 
Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15 He asked her, “Woman, why 
are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you
 have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my 
brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them
 that he had said these things to her.
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors 
locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be 
with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And 
with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, 
their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when 
Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails 
were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the 
doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then 
he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my 
side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who 
have not seen and yet have believed.”
30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in 
this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Until this year I always thought Thomas got a bad rap. It didn't seem that bad to me for him to want to see Jesus with his own eyes. But now that I know more about faith--that true faith is reinforced by His signs and answered prayers, but is not contingent upon them--I reflect on this with different eyes. We should strive for the faith that is so strong we don't need to see the scars. After we know what will happen it's easy to look back and see where we could have had more faith, but in the moment it's very, very hard. Thankfully there's a helper that we will read about in John 21!


Day 21
John 21
Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way:Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.[c] When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”)21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.
25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

In case you didn't know, the disciple John is the one who wrote this book and is also the one "whom Jesus loved". What's that all about, because we know He is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34, etc.)? I guess He doesn't deliver consequences based on how much He likes someone, but still enjoys us in unique ways. John was a great guy and is possibly the only disciple not martyred, but when we remember that heaven is better than here, that sort of gave him the short end of the stick.