Calming the Storm Within (Part 3: His Presence in Your Pain)

Calming the Storm Within (Part 3: His Presence in Your Pain)
A few months back, my husband and I drove past the hospital I gave birth in. We just got a glimpse of the building, and, immediately, my reaction was, “Aww… that’s where our babies were born!” 
And to that, my husband gave me the most bewildered look.
“Did you forget that all you did was cry in there? How do you feel so warmly about a place that caused you so much pain?” 
That took me back quite a bit, because my husband was right. 
That hospital was the place where I spent 20 plus hours in labor, only to find out I needed an emergency C-section for my firstborn. It was the place where two of my children were rushed into the NICU and I wept by their breathing machines for days. It was the place where I almost fainted in the middle of the hallway because I lost so much blood after surgery. It was the place where I had to complete my seminary finals in a medicated daze because my son came a month earlier than expected. 
And, yet, when I drove past that building, all I felt was pleasure. 
Continue reading “Calming the Storm Within (Part 3: His Presence in Your Pain)”

Calming the Storm Within (Part 2: Leaning on His Promises)

Calming the Storm Within (Part 2: Leaning on His Promises)
I blacked out once in my life. It was during a time when I was morbidly ill, to the point of months of hospitalization. My fever was so high that I became extremely dehydrated. But I didn’t know that I was that dehydrated until, one morning, I got out of bed and walked towards the living room. It only took a few steps for me to know something wasn’t right. I was walking and seeing, but everything went topsy-turvy. I knew I had to keep going, but I began to lose control of my limbs. And what started out as black specks in my vision turned into a big black wash of blindness. 
Then I fell.
And I fell hard. 
It’s a good analogy for what painful times sometimes feel like. 
Continue reading “Calming the Storm Within (Part 2: Leaning on His Promises)”

Calming the Storm Within (Part 1: Understanding Pain)

Calming the Storm Within (Part 1: Understanding Pain)
Most people approach their pastors in times of pain, so shepherding people through the dark nights of their souls is what I do.
Pain is merciless.
And oftentimes, the question is simply, “How can I go on?”
Whether it’s a slight rejection from the job you wanted or the traumatic tragedy of losing someone you love, pain is pain. And unfortunately, internal pain is the hardest to find a resolution for.
Continue reading “Calming the Storm Within (Part 1: Understanding Pain)”

Repentance to Redemption (Finale: Redeeming Weakness)

Repentance to Redemption (Finale: Redeeming Weakness)
No one’s perfect.
Although Christians are God’s children, we are still fallen children, no matter how polished we seem on the outside.
As a preacher, I am all about seeing the good in everyone, but, truth be told, I am also very aware of the struggle within the dark caverns of our souls.
You could have had a myriad of mountaintop experiences, victories, and even accomplishments. You could have been wrecked by that altar call at church, marked by that mission trip with orphans, witnessed power and miracles. Yet, at the end of the day, when you go back to your room and lie in your bed, you’re still flesh and bones. You are still a sinful person living in a depraved world.
Continue reading “Repentance to Redemption (Finale: Redeeming Weakness)”

Repentance to Redemption (Part 3: The Work of Restoration)

Repentance to Redemption (Part 3: The Work of Restoration)
A while back, when I was a volunteer at a ministry, I was faced with the need to take a step back from serving the church in order to allow some sanctifying and healing work to be done in my life. I was going through an extremely low season that led to my making poor choices left and right. Consequently, my pastor at that time recommended that I step down from my serving position to go through a “year of restoration.”
If I were to go back, I would have asked him to clarify what a “year of restoration” actually entailed. To me, it sounded like time-out, a probationary period where I held the responsibility to earn my “good girl” status again. And although this pastor most definitely did not intend it to be so, this placed me on a year’s journey of attempting to rebuild my life through my own striving. During that season, I did anything I could to fix myself, and I definitely failed. If anything, the attempt just left me more burnt out and jaded.  
Most Christians desire to be holy in character and pure in heart. Most would desire to be in good standing with the church community and their pastors. Yet, once the choice to repent is made, one still faces the challenge of rebuilding what’s been broken. This part can be hard.
Restoration is work.
But, it’s important to know that it’s God’s work.

Continue reading “Repentance to Redemption (Part 3: The Work of Restoration)”

Repentance to Redemption (Part 2: Reclaiming Your Identity)

Repentance to Redemption (Part 2: Reclaiming Your Identity)
God is an excellent Creator. His intentions for humankind were nothing less than spectacular. After Adam and Eve were created in the Garden of Eden, they were not commissioned to just survive and eat their way through existence. They were created to thrive, conquer, and expand their lot. Life was supposed to be about victories and progress, never-ending fruitfulness and unadulterated peace (Genesis 1).
In other words, you were created to be amazing, which makes sense because we were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Continue reading “Repentance to Redemption (Part 2: Reclaiming Your Identity)”

Repentance to Redemption (Part I: Trying to Change)

Repentance to Redemption (Part I: Trying to Change)

What if you just can’t change?

If the need to change wasn’t an issue, then Christianity would be a cinch. Free ticket to heaven? Great! Jesus loves me? Amen! He has a hope and future for me? That’s what I want too!
But, I shouldn’t be conformed to the patterns of this world?
I need to repent?
Put off my old self?
That’s much more difficult to embrace.

Continue reading “Repentance to Redemption (Part I: Trying to Change)”

The Pleasures of Prayer (Part 3: Battling the Soul)

The Pleasures of Prayer (Part 3: Battling the Soul)
You walk into Sunday Service, but feel drowned in discouragement.
You reluctantly open up your Bible, only to be burdened to appease God’s supposed disapproval of you.
Thinking about God stresses you out.
Worship is frustrating.
You feel blocked. Afraid. Pressured. Apathetic.
You’re stuck.
All of these are common soul issues that keep us from diving into the pleasures of prayer. And, by soul, we are referring to our mind, will, and emotions (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
If you are resonating with any of the above, I pray you find encouragement in knowing that this merely a stepping stone in your journey with Jesus. As long as you breathe, God is not done with your life!
In the meantime, the following are some practical steps to navigating through the deep waters of your soul.

Continue reading “The Pleasures of Prayer (Part 3: Battling the Soul)”

The Pleasures of Prayer (Part 2: Battling the Flesh)

The Pleasures of Prayer (Part 2: Battling the Flesh)
Prayer is like swimming in a river; the current of the Spirit’s Presence is powerful and refreshing.
However, many Christians do not experience freedom from the discipline of prayer. For some, it is not as much a privilege but a burden. There are, indeed, some challenging layers to overcome in order to break through into praying in the Spirit. I hope to unpack those layers in the following posts in this series.
The first layer is with the flesh.
Continue reading “The Pleasures of Prayer (Part 2: Battling the Flesh)”

The Pleasures of Prayer (Intro: The Joyful Revelation of Prayer)

The Pleasures of Prayer (Intro: The Joyful Revelation of Prayer)
Years ago, when I had half the number of children I do now, I sent the kids into their rooms for nap time. I felt led to enter into a time of intercessory prayer, but quite frankly, I did not feel like it. I was tired, and it was an uncomfortably hot summer day. However, in obedience, I entered my room and began to ask the Lord what to intercede for.
Initially, there was just silence, and I was tempted to just turn on the television.
But, I asked again, “Lord, what should I be praying for?”
And the Lord responded, “What do you want?”
Even though I knew I heard Him correctly, I was dumbfounded. What do I want? Up until this day, I thought prayer was just about me asking for whatever the Lord wanted to give! Or, it was just me rambling on about what I needed, hoping one or two would “make it” to God’s throne room. I didn’t think that what I wanted mattered. Little did I know, the Lord was teaching me a life-changing lesson that afternoon.
Continue reading “The Pleasures of Prayer (Intro: The Joyful Revelation of Prayer)”