Cleansing Stream

Many of my poems are about my addictions, anxiety, and other manifestations of emotional pain in my life. I recently finished going through the Cleansing Stream program, and it has helped me a lot. Cleansing Stream is a series of classes accompanied by prayer that helps people overcome emotional pain. I really recommend it. If interested, click this link to learn more: https://www.cleansingstream.org/

*Draw Near exists to glorify God and help others draw near to Christ by providing forever free ebooks.

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Christmas Thoughts

As I decorate my Christmas tree, I think of how the fir was used to explain the Trinity. It has three points, yet is one tree.

As I string on the lights, I meditate on this: Jesus is the light of the world.

As I top it with a star, I reflect on how the magi followed the Star of Bethlehem to see our Savior.

When I put the gifts underneath, I imagine the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh presented to Him.

As I fill my children’s stockings with candy canes, the shepherds that visited Jesus and their crooks come to mind.

When I decorate with red, I meditate on the blood shed by our Messiah. When I trim the house in green, I consider the everlasting life God gave to me.

Early Christmas morning, the kids run downstairs. Wrapping paper is flying and the kids are all smiling. Then they gather round to hear the Christmas story read from my Bible.

(From Luke 2:16-21) “So [the shepherds] hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.”

Thanks for reading my blog so I could share with you my thoughts and meditations at Christmastime. May the birth of Christ be our focus this year and every year. Our Messiah has come to earth to save us from our sins. Our joy should be full and overflowing. I pray your Christmas is merry and meaningful.

*Draw Near exists to glorify God and help others draw near to Christ by providing free resources. Click here to learn more about God and here to access free Christian ebooks. Thanks for visiting. Stay blessed!

Deliverance From Strongholds

When I was a non-Christian interacting with Christians, I had mixed feelings about them. On the one hand, I admired them for not cheapening their lives with the activities that accompany a sinful lifestyle. On the other hand, I assumed Christians had no fun since they did not exercise my idea of “freedom.” To me, freedom included the use of foul language, drinking excessively, and a lot of other things. After I became a Christian, I realized had not been free at all. I had been a slave to my sins, and Christians were the ones who were really free.

I began to pursue my own freedom and explored the ideas of repentance and deliverance. I learned if I repent of something, I turn my back on it. I give it up and don’t look back on it longingly. I learned from the Bible that if God delivers me from a sin, then He will give me the strength to overcome it. He will take it away from me. In the story of my salvation, I usually do not linger on the experience of repentance and deliverance even though it was an important part of my spiritual growth.

It was actually quite miraculous the way the Lord instantly helped me to repent of my sins and gave me strength to give them up, but that makes the story anticlimactic. There is simply not much to tell. I admit I did backslide into some of my sinful habits but soon realized they were not fun anymore. In contrast, there was a sin that I simply could not seem to give up. That was smoking cigarettes.

I continued smoking for sixteen years after I became a Christian even though I wanted to stop. I wanted to repent and be delivered just as I was from the other sins, but this sin was a stronghold in my life. I would not let go of it even though I knew I was a slave to it. I tried the nicotine patch several times with no success, but I tried it again with a prescription smoking cessation medication with a different result.

I was suddenly suffering from multiple side effects including frequent anxiety attacks. Worse yet, the desire to smoke was still raging inside of me. During one unusually long panic attack, I cried out to God and begged him to make the panic attack. Suddenly and audibly, I heard him. He promised to make the panic attack stop if I would quit smoking. Then my panic attack stopped. Strangely, my desire to smoke also disappeared in a sudden way. I felt a little tempted that evening, and the next morning the temptation was almost gone completely.

The Lord had miraculously delivered me from several sins early on in my spiritual walk. Later, He also delivered me a stronghold: smoking. He is an awe-inspiring God who loves His children too much to let us be slaves to sin. He wants to draw us away from sin so we can enjoy a closer love relationship with Him. I pray God delivers you from every sin including your stronghold in a sudden and miraculous way so you can see He is our Almighty God. Thanks for reading and God bless!

 

 

 

God’s Glory Through Healing

God displays His glory with healing in many ways. Sometimes He shows us His glory through doctors. After all, mankind is created in His image. Considering many medicines and even prescription drugs are made from natural materials (which is God’s creation), it is plain to see God’s glory through the use of medicine. In certain circumstances, Jesus even supernaturally intervenes to heal people and show His Father’s glory in a dramatic way. Regardless of how God heals, I think it is right to give Him the glory. That’s why I want to share this personal experience with you.

After my son was born, he started getting frequent ear infections just like I did as a kid. However, I realized he suffered from a more severe health issue that I knew nothing about. Our toddler had trouble breathing. Our pediatrician prescribed him inhalers. It was hard for me to know when our son needed to use the inhaler since he was so young, but it seemed like he needed it an awful lot. She eventually referred us to an allergist who diagnosed him with asthma.

With the help of his allergist, we made the tough decision to pursue immunotherapy (allergy shots) for his asthma. The prescribed treatment would require painful shots over the course of three years and did not guarantee results. Still, we wanted our son to be well and live a full life.

After a year of shots, our son’s breathing tests still showed no progress. The allergist even suggested stopping the treatment, but we decided to continue the shots in hopes there would be some improvement. At that time, I really began crying out to the Lord during that time and got others to pray for him also.

About six months later, there was a sudden and dramatic change in his breathing tests. His allergist said his test results were actually 101%! He recommended we stop all medication. We were overjoyed to learn his asthma was completely under control even after we stopped his medications. Now, my son occasionally uses his inhaler when he plays basketball, but other than that—he does not take any medicine at all. I believe God did a miracle in my son’s life.

Jesus performed lots of miracles in His life. The miracles brought His Father glory. They also displayed His authoritative power to forgive sins. We can trust in Jesus alone as our Savior because God’s Word tells us in Acts 4:12 “there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” I pray you will accept Him as Your Savior. If you have already accepted Him as Savior, I pray you give God the glory for all of the wonderful things He has done in your life. After all, He created you with such care and loves you very much.

 

Spiritual Sight

I remember when I was first diagnosed with nearsightedness at the age of 12. The doctors fitted me with contacts and eyeglasses. Suddenly and dramatically, I could clearly see each individual leaf on the tree outside the tall glass building where my doctor’s office was located. Suddenly I was able to see how absolutely beautiful the landscape looked to everyone else.

Over the next ten years, my prescription continued to grow stronger. I developed a love-hate relationship with glasses and contacts. Contacts bothered my eyes—mostly because my days were long and my lifestyle was active. Glasses were no better. They were uncomfortable, and I frequently lost them. That’s why I decided to get surgery to correct my vision.

Back then, doctors mainly performed radial keratotomy (RK) to correct vision. There was some risk involved. It was possible I could need contacts and glasses because it was not corrected enough. Another possibly was that my sight would be over-corrected, in which case I would be farsighted. Then there was the risk of something worse like infection. I was warned that even patients with perfect outcomes had the tendency to return to nearsightedness as they aged. Regardless of the risk, I stood firm on my decision to receive the surgery.

Just before the scheduled eye surgery, something amazing happened. I became a Christian. With my newfound faith, I began to pray incessantly that the surgery would be smooth and successful. The procedure did go well. It went really well, in fact. After I had healed from the surgery, I was able to see perfectly without glasses or contacts.

No experience has been more symbolic of my conversion to Christianity than this one. I had been unable to see the reality of God and His plan of salvation just like I was unable to see the details of the world around me due to my nearsightedness. Yet after surgery, I was able to see perfectly with my physical eyes just as God had spiritually opened my eyes. The Holy Spirit gave my heart a sudden understanding of the presence of God and His amazing plan for salvation.

It has now been over twenty years since my vision correction surgery. As the doctors had warned, my eyes did develop a mild nearsightedness. For a few years, I needed glasses for driving only. Oddly, even that mild nearsightedness has since disappeared on its own. I now see perfectly (20/20) again. I still wear glasses occasionally because it helps with the glare, but I am happy to report that God blessed me with two wonderful gifts: the ability to see physically and (more importantly) the ability to see spiritually. If interested, you can read my compelling salvation story HERE.

I hope you have made that important decision to receive Christ so that you can have access to that mysterious presence of God and be welcomed into that secret knowledge that is only available to those who welcome the Holy Spirit into their being. Thanks for reading and God bless!

 

 

 

 

More Than Luck

Psalm 121:7 says, “The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life…”

The sound of screeching tires sends a chill down my spine. The terror probably started with the car accident I experienced as a child. My dad was driving my brother and me home from a Christmas party when our car was hit by a drunk driver. The car was incredibly mangled, and my dad and I were hospitalized for awhile. Yet when I look at the picture of that car, I wonder how we survived at all! People have always said we were lucky, and for a number of years I agreed. Now, I am absolutely positive it was not luck. It was the Lord who protected our lives.

A similar experience happened again when I was a teenager. I was driving at night down a curvy, two-lane road when suddenly my car slipped off the edge of the pavement into a small ditch. I over-corrected by pulling the steering wheel too much and flipped the car completely upside down!  My door was jammed, but I was able to crawl out of the window. My only injury was a tiny scratch. For years, I considered myself merely lucky.

It wasn’t until I saw how the Lord protected my son that I truly understood how God has kept watch over me and my loved ones. I could be called somewhat of a “helicopter mom” because of the way I have always watched over my son. That’s not my nature, but it is something I have learned because of his inordinate attraction to dangerous situations.

I suppose this can be said of many boys, but with my kid it seems like something more. It like there is an invisible force that means to do him harm. If I shared every harrowing encounter he has experienced, we would be here all day so I will just share a few examples. He nearly choked to death—thanks to God, he lived. He nearly drowned while swimming in a river when he was pinned under by the current—thanks to God, he still lives. Then there is his asthma—thanks to God, he is well.

I trust God’s Word to do exactly what He says in Psalm 121:7. Psalm 121:7 says, “The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life…” I need only reflect on the wonderful ways the Lord has kept this promise (even before I knew Him). What greater love is there than this? Only that He would lay His own life down for us that we may have eternal life.

Although our physical bodies may one day die, we can fully trust in God’s protection over our eternal lives if we have received salvation. If we accept Christ’s blood as payment for our sins, we can know that we will receive the promise of eternal life. God is full of love, true to His promises, and never lies. I pray your life and the life of your loved ones is anointed by the protection offered in Psalm 121:7 and that all of you accept His blood as payment for your sins that you all may receive eternal life. God bless!

*Draw Near exists to glorify God and help others draw near to Christ by providing free resources. Click here to learn more about God and here to access free Christian ebooks. Thanks for visiting. Stay blessed!

My Child’s Faith Journey

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” —Proverbs 22:6

As a born again Christian with almost no church background, I did not have a clue how to raise a faithful child. As I reflect on my daughter’s faith journey, there is no question that it was orchestrated by God. I praise Him every day for the ways in which He has helped my daughter to become a lovely, faithful young woman. My heart is overflowing with thankfulness for the ways in which the Holy Spirit guided me to be a part of her journey.

Before my daughter was even born, it was on my heart to pray for her to know the Lord. After her birth, my friend mentioned that she was reading a novel to her infant. Inspiration hit! The Lord gave me a bright idea to read the Bible daily to my newborn. I read one chapter a day until she had grown out of those baby clothes and into toddler clothes.

She began to speak very early—so early,  in fact, that much of what she said was nonsensical. Still, I felt the Lord leading me to teach her not only the vocabulary of everyday items but also to say words having to do with Christianity like “God,” “Jesus,” “Holy Spirit,” “church,” etc. She had received a simple children’s prayer as wall art. I taught her this simple prayer to say at night before bed. Every morning, I felt inspired to say the Lord’s Prayer (found in Matthew 6:9-13) aloud on our ride to daycare. About the time I thought she should start memorizing the Lord’s Prayer, she surprised me by saying the whole prayer all by herself!

My daughter received lots of colorful children’s books with Bible stories. She read about Garden of Eden, Noah, Jonah, Daniel, and Jesus’ death and resurrection. I felt it was important to regularly stress the idea that the Bible and these Bible stories were non-fiction unlike her Dr. Seuss books and the many other books that filled our bookshelves.

As she grew too old for the children’s books, the Lord led me to buy her devotionals with prayers and encourage her to read them every night. We could not afford to send her to a private school or for me to stay home from work to homeschool so she attended public school. Since I felt like public school was the only open door, I hoped this was for a reason. I prayed for it to be her opportunity to be a light in her public school and to share Christ with her life. The decision of where to attend school is a hard one for Christian parents, but God shows us the special place that is right for each child.

Ever since I was saved, the Lord helped me to realize how important regular church attendance is to a happy and healthy Christian’s spiritual life. Since I attended church regularly, my daughter went to church her whole life. She was dedicated to the Lord. She sang in the children’s choir and was even chosen for a lead role in a church play. Being in that environment exposed her to regular opportunities to accept salvation, which she did. She was baptized by the age of ten. In church, she was encouraged to memorize Bible verses by her teachers and rewarded with small toy rewards.

Outside of church, I felt inspired to spend a little time teaching her about the disciples, the differences between being a Protestant and being a Catholic, and some other facts like who wrote the books of the Bible and when they were written. She was always eager be involved with her youth group and to serve in the church. Now she helps me teach Sunday School! (She hopes to one day become a public schoolteacher.)

I am so proud of the faithful young woman she has become, but I cannot take credit for it. God is her guide, and I just try to be His servant. I say “try” because I have certainly made my share of parenting mistakes along the way. Even then, the Lord has been strength in my weakness. I hope this blog will inspire you with some ideas on how to enrich your own child’s faith or maybe just to keep on trusting God as He leads your child on his or her own journey of faith.