I Love The Word “Restore” Repost

Here is a repost of a blog I posted on December 10, 2010. I feel amazed at how God continues to work the miracle of restoration in my life and in the lives of loved ones.

Lately I’ve been meditating on the word “restore.”

Here are some synonyms for the word: reinstate, re-establish, bring back, return, refurbish, renovate, repair, rebuild, fix.  Just reading them lifts my spirit.

I think of the restoration to health I’ve experienced after being sick for long periods and times of celebrating the return to health of my children and grandchild, especially after life-threatening illnesses.

I recall relationships restored. Not long ago a former friend whom I’d had a falling out with years ago, came back into my life in a miraculous way, and we were reconciled.

I think of the countless times God’s resurrection power has restored my love for my husband when it seemed I couldn’t go on in our marriage because of how he had sinned against me. It seems that same restoration has worked in his heart when I have not loved him as Jesus would.

I think of prodigals I know who have come home.

There comes to mind restoring of treasures I’ve lost–like lost journals or a lost pet. What elation I felt back in 1993 when our dog, Buck, came running back to us after jumping out of our van during a trip to Alaska and taking off full speed into the woods.

Restoration also causes me to remember the times things were repaired or renovated in our home.

I marvel at the scores of times God has restored my peace when I’ve felt overwhelmed with fears.

When I ponder the word “restore,” three verses from Scripture stand out. I have prayed these often and experienced God answering those prayers.

He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. He restores my soul.  Psalm 23:2-3 AMP

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:12

And I will restore or replace for you the years that the locust has eaten…Joel 2:25

With Christmas coming, God is reminding me Christ’s coming to this earth was all about restoration.

It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but cancelling them] and committing to us the message of reconciliation (of the restoration of favor). 2 Corinthians 5:19

Too often I take for granted the idea of reconciliation with God—that God desired to restore favor with us—with me. He didn’t have to do that—just as friends I’ve hurt badly don’t have to want to be friends with me anymore. But God mercifully chose this. And even if I can’t find one other thing on this earth to be grateful for on any given day, this truth is something for which I can be eternally grateful.

Not only did God restore His favor with me, but He also took me when I was dead and restored me to life. Wow!

Thus it is written, The first man Adam became a living being (an individual personality); the last Adam (Christ) became a life-giving Spirit [restoring the dead to life]. 1 Corinthians 15:45

During this holiday season and beyond, I am determined to continue to celebrate the word “restore” and how it has impacted my life.  God is showing me restoration is an ongoing process–that He’s not finished restoring. There are still hurts to be healed and lies to be eradicated from my soul.

My goal is to stop resisting and to remain completely committed to this restoration process. What joy there is in knowing God is more committed to the process than I ever could be.

How about you? Are you willing to embrace the word “restore” and all the promises connected to it? Are you ready to commit to the process of allowing God to completely restore in your life all that needs restoration?

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Deliverance From Exiting

Recently as I composed my ABC prayer list for various behaviors and issues my family members (and myself) needed to be delivered from I thought, What should I put down for the letter “e?”

The word “exiting” came to mind.

Family members—including me—struggle with this issue.

It happens when a person checks out—either literally or in their minds or hearts—of a situation or circumstance they never longer want to deal with.

When I thought about this, a list of circumstances which family and myself battled with in connection to exiting came to mind.

I thought of exiting from jobs. Years ago I exited from jobs quickly several times in a row once something arose I didn’t like about the job.

Then there’s exiting from marriage via divorce or withdrawal of one’s heart and love.

As Christians, we battle with the tendency to exit from church life, prayer, closeness to God, reading the Word.

Two of my family members chose extreme exiting when they decided to exit from life by committing suicide.

So many times over the years I yearned for an exit from painful situations. When it came to my marriage, God gave me a prayer to say in hard times when I felt I wanted to get far away from my spouse—maybe even forever: “Lord, when I want to run away, give me strength to stay and pray.”

Sometimes the need to exit exists. The key centers on checking it out with the Lord. Most wrong exiting takes place on the emotional level. We feel something, and we exit. That’s what I did during my early days of employment.

Years ago, when I battled suicidal thoughts, God gave me an interesting insight: “It’s not your body or your life that you want to leave (exit); it’s the emotional turmoil and torment you want to get away from.”

I pictured myself throwing that—and not my body—over a cliff.

As I began to pray for God to deliver me from the effects of traumas which haunted me from the past and serious conflicts in my present relationships, my desire to exit left me. What took its place was an expectation that God would help me to become the best me I could be in each difficult circumstance in my life.

That’s exactly what happened.

I saw as I stayed—even in hard circumstances—God brought about healing in myself, my relationships (both with people and with Him.) I became a stronger Christian, and I drew closer to Him and experienced intimacy with Him and people I never dreamed could be possible.

Not long ago I heard a radio show where the speaker talked about dealing with discouragement in various circumstances.

“One of the most important actions you can take to deal with difficult circumstances is to just show up,” he said.

Showing up is the opposite of exiting. How often I meet people who refuse to go to church because of hurtful circumstances there. I’ve done it myself, but then I learned about the necessity of showing up. When I showed up, I worked through conflict and allowed healing to take place. I liked what one person told me in the midst: “If you have been hurt by people, you need people to find healing.”

The others who didn’t show up repeatedly and let bitterness grow exited the church, church life, and even their walk with God—including close family members of mine. They made the decision: “I can’t go back to church because church people hurt me so much.” Some blamed God, so they exited their relationship with Him.

In these cases, as I learned more about their circumstances, I discovered they failed to do an important action which helps us to keep showing up instead of exiting: consult the Lord. I like the way my Bible study teacher says it: “Have you asked the Father?”

Of course, the enemy tries to get us so mad at the Lord we have no desire to consult Him. Many people who call themselves atheists are really just people who are angry at their father.

In the past, in the course of a day, when I felt like I wanted to run away from my marriage, I realized I sometimes did it even while I remained in the same house as my husband. I would hide in the bedroom and avoid all contact with him. Bitterness grew, and it hurt our relationship—and my spiritual life.

These days when a conflict arises, I don’t make an exit—unless the Lord tells me to. Sometimes that happens when my husband needs a little time to cool down. And the exit remains short-lived.

In most cases, I stay and attempt to handle the conflict in a godly way—making sure I don’t take an exit from Christlike behavior, which can easily happen in a disagreement or fight.

I rejoice today that God didn’t decide to exit from interactions with human beings. How difficult we must be to deal with for our perfect, righteous, loving God.

Instead of exiting, He chose entering this world for His Son, Jesus Christ, so we could be saved.

What a terrible outcome for us if God chose exiting. I think of the damage done when we choose exiting in an attempt to “save ourselves.” How many lives did we not touch that God wanted us to?

One verse which helps me to stay even when times get hard is Proverbs 18:10: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.” NKJV

I think of the literal name of Jesus and all Jesus stands for as being “my strong tower.” He remains my protector. I don’t need to exit to protect myself.

Today I stand determined to refrain from exiting—except as the Lord leads. I desire to walk through every door He opens and not back out of it until He says so. I want to be like Jesus—humble and obedient. And I want to count on God to protect me and keep me strong through every difficult circumstance I face.

I praise Him for His faithfulness in doing so throughout my life as I call out to Him. What a mighty God I serve.

“A Strong Tower (Blessed Be The Name of the Lord) by Ruth Hanna

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4R2AuVYgZsg

 

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ABC Prayers

Lately I’ve been praying the ABCs.

It started months ago while I jogged, as part of my prayer time. My first ABC list contained the names of God and started out with Abba Father, Bread of Life, and Comforter.

While I ran, I would go through the alphabet and think of a word to go with each letter. As I created the names of God list, I praised Him for each name.

Then I went home and wrote the list in my journal where I could refer back to it as needed. I came up with other lists, which related to God such as:

“Adjectives To Describe God:” Almighty, Beautiful, Caring…

“Actions by God:” Affirms, Beckons, Comforts…

After praying with and praising from these lists many times over, I created other lists, which centered on intercession:

“Strongholds In My Family Members:” Addictions, Belligerence, Critical spirit…

“Gifts Family Members Need:” Abiding (in Christ), Boldness, Comfort…

“Actions Family Members Need to Be Engaged In:” Adore, Believe, Call (on God)…

This week I created two more lists, which have to do with me:

“ABCs of Gratitude:” Abba, Brothers, Cousins…

“Actions for Elaine:” Adore (Him) Bow (before Him), Comfort (others)…

These lists remind me to pray and spend time in worship, prayer, and intercession.

As I contemplated these lists today, I remembered an ABC list I made years ago. My husband, Steve, and I faced hard times, and often engaged in skirmishes which threatened to destroy our marriage.

I bet I could come up with a negative character trait in my husband for every letter of the alphabet, I thought after he lashed out at me and refused to understand my point of view.

I wrote out the list, and as I looked it over, two thoughts came to mind: I struggle with many of these traits and “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5)

Soon, at the Lord’s prompting, I created a different ABC list, which contained my husband’s positive qualities. I thanked God for each one. Since then, I learned to thank God for my husband instead of report to Him faults I saw in the love of my life.

I plan to continue to use my recent ABC lists (and perhaps some new ones) to enhance my prayer life and draw me closer to the Lord. These lists help me to embrace God’s commands found in Scripture:

“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16)

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 NIV

I praise God for showing me new ways to help me focus on and stay connected to Him—even in hard times.

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Thank You Prayers

For years on various days when I walked or jogged, I prayed parts of Scripture which I memorized. Often I prayed Psalm 23: “Lord, please be my Shepherd today.”

Then one day, this thought came to mind: Instead of praying, God be my Shepherd, I need to thank Him that He already plays this vital role in my life.

Since then I pray memorized Scripture differently.

Here’s how I pray Psalm 23 (based on English Standard Version)

Thank You, Lord, that You are my Shepherd, and You have dealt with all my wants. Thank You for all the times You make me lie down in green pastures. Thank You for leading me beside still waters. Thank You that You repeatedly restore my soul. Thank You that You lead me in paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake. Thank You for the times when I walked through the valley of the shadow of death (or as I walk through this dark valley) I need fear no evil, for You are always with me. Thank You for Your rod and staff, which comfort me. Thank You that when You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, You anoint my head with oil, and my cup overflows. Thank You that goodness and mercy are following me all the days of my life. Thank You that I will dwell in Your house forever.

As I pray this way, my heart feels overwhelmed with gratitude for all the ways God intervenes in my life. I no longer beg Him to do so, but realize He already accomplished the actions in these verses. I feel closer to the Lord, and I celebrate His precious promises to me and how He fulfills them.

Also, since I have to add the words “thank You,” I need to think, instead of just reciting Scripture like multiplication tables.

During these days surrounding Thanksgiving Day, I will find more Scriptures which I can pray in gratitude. And I will celebrate all the ways God kept His promises to me and His faithfulness over this past year and over my lifetime.

Here’s another Psalm I pray often as I marvel over God’s forgiveness of my sins:

Thank You, for having mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love. Thank You that according to Your great compassion, You have blotted out my transgressions and washed away all my iniquity and cleansed me from my sin…. (Psalm 51)

How easy I fall into the trap of focusing on what’s wrong with my life. Gratitude lifts me out of that trap.

I think of Psalm 100:4 which reminds me to: “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless his name.” For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.”

Verse 5 reminds me of three truths, which lift me up despite all the struggles in my life: “For the LORD is Good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.”

Lord, please keep me out of the pit of ingratitude. Let my heart ever overflow with thankfulness for all You have done for me, in me and through me. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

“Give Thanks” by Don Moen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMTmZKotTYw

Another “Thank You” song by Don Moen: “Thank You, Lord.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K44trVhtZX4

 

 

 

 

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Finding My Sweet Spot

Not long ago, I talked to a teen who told me she hated her high school.

“Can’t you find anything good about it?” I asked.

“No, I can’t.” she said. “People there take drugs, get in fights, and most aren’t very nice.”

“And the teachers and other adults just don’t seem to care,” she added.

As I prayed for this young person who last year loved her middle school, I asked God for an answer I could give to her.

“Tell her to find the ‘sweet spot’ at her school,” was the answer that came to mind.

I heard that cliché before, so I decided to look it up. This is what I found online: “the point or area on a bat, club, or racket at which it makes most effective contact with the ball.”

The non-sports definitions said, “a location or combination of characteristics that produces the best results,” “a pleasant or favorable place.”

I passed the “find your sweet spot at school” message on to her.

“There is no sweet spot there,” she answered.

“Are you sure?” I asked.

Suddenly she smiled and said a person’s name.

“That’s my sweet spot,” she said.

As we talked, I discovered this was an individual she had met this school year.

“If you didn’t go to this school, you never would have met that person,” I said.

Her attitude seemed to improve a bit. I’m believing it will improve even more as she stops focusing on what’s wrong in her situation and keeps her eyes on what’s right and good.

Lately as I think about this principle in my own life, I see God repeatedly brings something pleasant and favorable in the midst of difficult circumstances. The key is to keep my focus on that instead of on difficulties.

Growing up in a small home with seven siblings and lots of chaos, my sweet spot was reading.

Later it became writing.

These days in the midst of difficulties, music serves as my sweet spot. So many times when I turn on the radio (my first choice is the JOY FM) as I battle negative thoughts and hopelessness in regard to certain situations, a song will come on which speaks directly to my struggle.

On my job working with the mentally ill, I lead a music group where I share uplifting songs with the patients either through going to Youtube or on my guitar. Often I’m the one who’s lifted up. The time I spend with the patients enjoying music is sweet.

Other times God brings a person into my life just at the right time who ministers to me in such a way that I feel overwhelmed by all the encouragement one individual can give to me.

Even when these don’t seem to work to lift me up when days seem dark, there is a truth which proves true again and again.

Jesus is my sweet spot.

When I remind myself He is with me through every trial and trauma of life, I feel loved and cared for. I celebrate what He did for me on the cross. I thank Him for coming to this earth, so I could be set free.

A verse came to mind as I thought about God being my sweet spot in the person of Jesus Christ. I thought about the fact that no matter what happens, I can enter into His presence and be lifted up.

“In Your presence is fullness of joy; At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 NKJV

I can rest in the truths that Jesus loves me, He’s for me, and He’s with me.

Now that’s a sweet spot nothing and no one can ever take away from me.

“My Sweet Lord” by Crowder

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QlHp1GMJEww

 

 

 

 

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The Gospel Makes A Way

Forty years ago this week, I made the best decision of my life. I received Jesus Christ as my Savior. I thought I already possessed salvation, but I realized although I attended church and had a heart for Jesus, I never invited Him into mine. I wanted to follow Jesus, but I never surrendered my life to Him before that day, but instead tried to remain in control.

Not long ago I wrote a poem about the subject after reading a prompt: “The Choice.”

THE CHOICE

Forty years ago

in the midst of a storm,

and a stormy marriage,

while traveling to Florida,

I said, “Yes” to Jesus

taking charge of my life.

The cords of depression

and doubt loosened

as I gave up my obsession

to be in control.

I wanted to be whole,

but my efforts to heal myself

accomplished nothing.

 

That day I realized

He alone is my healer.

He alone is my helper.

He alone hears and heeds

the cries of my heart

He alone loves me completely.

That day I made my life’s

best choice, and because of it

every day I have

a reason to rejoice.

Since that time God healed our marriage, and we love each other more than the day we married. He healed hurts and heartaches and led me to help others deal with theirs.

My desire for friends, family, and those who cross my path in search for a better way to live life, I can say offer only one statement, “You need Jesus.”

He led me out of darkness, and He will do it for anyone else who says “Yes” to His invitation.

I pray if you never have, You will do it today.

Here’s a link to my official salvation testimony, which was published in Moody magazine in 1998.

https://elainecreasman.wordpress.com/a-love-that-never-fails/

“The Gospel” by Ryan Stevenson

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTdFEZhjiko

 

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The Untangling–Again

wind chimes (2)Over 20 years ago I had a piece published in a Sunday School take-home paper titled, “The Untangling.” I thought of that true story recently when I faced a new tangled mess, which I felt determined to untangle. Here is the story from years ago followed by my thoughts about my latest untangling:

“I give up,” I said and tossed the tangled necklace into the kitchen drawer with the paper clips and safety pins.

I had hoped to give Mindy, our 10-year-old, the heart necklace I found as a gift for Christmas, but getting the knots out seemed impossible. Finding it on the hidden road close to the hotel where the nursing seminar was held seemed special.

Not wanting to miss my daily walk, I set out during the lunch hour in the congested city area. To my amazement, I discovered a little road leading into a peaceful neighborhood on a lake. Trees abounded, the breeze refreshed me, and I felt thousands of miles away from the city. On that road, I found the necklace.

Now I knew why. Someone had probably thrown it away when they saw how tangled it was. It was so pretty–with a delicate chain  and a filigree heart a little smaller than a dime. Despite the abuse it had been through, the necklace looked shiny. I was sure if it was real gold, but it seemed a shame to throw it away.

Christmas arrived, and I gave a store-bought jewelry gift to Mindy.

The necklace stayed in the drawer until two months later when I decided to give it another try because Mindy’s birthday was coming up. It seemed the Lord urged me on. “This time don’t give up. I’m going to teach you something with that necklace.”

Suddenly the necklace took on new meaning. It was one of God’s children with a tangled, messed-up life. Beauty was there, but the tangled mess made it seem useless. My hands symbolized God as I worked on the untangling process.

Several times I felt like tearing at the delicate chain and then trashing it, but I knew God would never do that. Instead He works patiently with us, untangling the messes our lives have become.

I worked for over an hour, but the knots seemed worse. I thought of the disorders in my life. God had worked through them with me–my battles with depression, the crises in our marriage and with the children, my fear of intimacy with God. Gratefulness filled my heart for how God patiently untangled each one.

I had other things to do, but untangling the necklace seemed so important. If I could unravel this impossible mess with God help, then I knew he could solve any problem in my life and in anyone’s life. This necklace became a promise delivered to me from God–if I got it untangled.

It seemed amazing to me, as I coaxed my hands to be gentle like God’s, that the delicate chain didn’t break. I used a safety pin to pull the chain and spread it out to get a better look at the knots. After another hour, every kink was gone. Carefully, I spread it out on the kitchen table and stared at it in awe.

I felt tempted to put it away for safekeeping, afraid now to give it to Mindy, afraid she might tangle it again. But that was not God’s plan.

I presented it to Mindy for her birthday.

“This is a very special necklace,” I explained to her. “It was a gift from God.”

I shared with her the untangling process.

When Mindy wore that still tangle-free necklace, it reminded me of God’s patience with us. It also reminded me He never gives up on our lives.

Not long after, when things seemed a bit knotted in my life and in the lives of those I prayed for, I went into Mindy’s room and took out the necklace. As I fingered the delicate chain, I remembered, “He is able.” ….

My recent tangled mess involved a wind chime Steve and I bought a number of years ago out west on a trip. For a while it hung in my office at home, but over time the fishing lines which held the beautiful agate geodes and hung down, became badly tangled. So I took the wind chimes down and stuck them in a closet.

Not long ago I told myself I wanted to deal with broken things in our home. Those wind chimes came to mind. Also, my story from years ago did too. Even though the fishing lines remained tightly twisted with each other, I refused to believe it was impossible to untangle them.

If I could untangle that necklace, certainly with the Lord’s help I can untangle this mess, I thought. So I determined to work on the wind chime

I worked on it one day, and then proceeded to continue the task the next. I remained patient, I prayed along the way, and I enlisted help from my husband.

Praise the Lord! The wind chimes now hang in our kitchen by the sliding glass door and look and sound lovely. This untangled beautiful piece also serves as a reminder of all the times and ways the Lord untangled the messes in my life and continues to do so. I praise Him for His faithfulness.

On Thursday at the writing group I lead, one of the members had a quote in her writing, which goes along with untangling: “Yet through all, we know this tangled skein is in the hands of One who sees the end from the beginning; he shall yet unravel all.” (Alexander Smith, 1830-1867)

Verses that comes to mind as I think of untangling are these:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble,” Psalm 46:1 NIV

“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.” Romans 8:28

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…” Ephesians 3:20

I look forward to seeing how God will untangle the present “messes” I face in my life. The key is to remain dependent on Him.

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