Friday, December 26, 2008

A Goodbye

A Call to Remember was the purpose of this blog. A call to remember the Lord's deliverance. A call to look back and ponder the big questions of life. A call to remember not only the times of joy but also the times of sorrow. Why? Why does God call us to a life of remembrance? Because He wants us to remember our intimate moments with him. He wants us to remember and see his fingerprints on our life. After all, our story is really His story. Our life is really about His grace. When we have crossed over the river of sorrow we are called to remember the Lord's faithfulness and deliverance. We are called to know that He not only parts the waters of sorrow but at times he choses to carry us through them. He picks us up and carries us to the other side so not even our feet get wet. He wades through the water and tells us to rest a moment. It is in this carrying that I find myself now.

Death why does it come so easily and quickly for some and others suffer and struggle through it?
I am so thankful for the promises of God and his faithfulness. I am thankful that this life isn't all there is. I am so thankful that my eternal life has begun; that it began when I entered into a relationship with Jesus.

Eternal life is to know God. Eternal life is centered in a relationship with God and Jesus his son. I’m emphasizing this because we see suffering this side of eternity. It is at these moments that I am reminded that the world doesn’t belong to God. The world is sustained by God and we know Jesus is the authority above every authority so we know Jesus has authority over the world and over Satan but it is Satan and his dominions that rule the world this side of eternity. I am so thankful that there is life after death. That God has placed within our hearts the concept of eternity though our earthy bodies give way.

Isaiah tells us that, "Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength." I trust in this promise. I trust that when I am weak I am strong for His power is made perfect in weakness.
I am reminded that this side of eternity is not easy and it is often filled with loss and heartache. Confusion and chaos. I'm so glad that my Savior can identify with my weakness and sympathize with my heartache. After all, he came and dwelled among us. Paul tells us that since we, the children of God, have flesh and blood, he too shared in our humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death-that is the devil- and free us who all our lives were held in slavery by our fear of death. The scripture also tells us that He was tempted in every way and is able to sympathize with our weakness. We know that he suffered greatly for our benefit. All of this he came and endured to have a relationship with us. To be made a merciful and faithful high priest. Who can and does sympathize with our human weakness.

This stone of remembrance is a special stone in honor and memory of my grandmother, Helen Cyganiewicz. My Big Momma. She passed away Christmas day. Please pray for my family. My dad especially. She fought hard to the end and was in distress some of the time. I am so thankful that she is now with Jesus in heaven and has been united with my Papa and her daughter Ronni and son Louis. Most importantly, I am so thankful she arrived there on the day that we celebrate and remember Jesus' birth. She was an amazing woman. She had some gumption. She will always be remembered for her perseverance in life and her great determination.

I treasure every prayer lifted up on behalf of my family.




Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fear Not: Part 5




The next thing we must do after we identify and confess our fear is to submit to the will of our heavenly Father. This is not easy. The healing process involves pain but it is absolutely necessary if we desire to be freed from our fears. I want to share with you something I wrote when Hannah was 19 months old. I wrote this on March 25 2006, we had just returned home from spending almost a week at Children’s Healthcare with our Hannah. I believe this is the ultimate picture of trust and devotion. I pray that my life reflects the lessons I learned from Hannah that precious week at Children's.

Hannah's Journey 2006
God further reveals himself during times of trouble. He strips away all distractions. The mundane events of our day are no longer the issue of our frustrations. The little list of to do’s is thrown out the window along with our preconceived agendas on what the day holds. What is left is a new perspective.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006, Hannah our little girl is sick. She is having a hard time walking, wobbling around as if drunk. Her determination is what keeps her going but she is clearly troubled and insecure. She gropes about looking for something to hold onto her eyes showing every emotion. What we see right now is panic. She sits down and holds up her arms for me to pick her up. She is tired and gives up the fight for now but she will try again. She rests her head on my shoulder, puts her finger in her mouth and we wait. Wait for the series of tests we are told must be preformed. Over the next three days Hannah will undergo a MRI, Cat Scan, Spinal Tap, EEG (tests that look at her brain activity), blood work, sedation and doctors coming in and out to further analyze her behavior and progress. I want so desperately to comfort her. I want to reassure her that I am walking along this scary journey with her. I want her to know how much I love her and that all these tests are for her good. They are going to tell us what is making her feel the way she does and help us determine how to make her better. Wanting so desperately to tell her all of this knowing I can’t because she doesn’t understand and has no capacity to understand breaks my heart.

Saturday, March 25, 2006, we are now at the end of this God ordained journey. We went from being told that she had a severe but treatable nervous system disorder that was attacking her nervous system to finding out that it was Atoxia which is swelling of the brain due to infection. Atoxia we are told will go away on its own.

New Perspective, The lessons we walk away with from this experience are profound. The thing that breaks my heart the most and yet is the most precious to me is this….No matter how many times Hannah was poked and prodded, she trusted me; No matter how scary the tests, she trusted me. She had no capacity to understand and yet she simply trusted. She still wanted me to hold her to comfort her. She still knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I love her and would never leave her. She recognized this love and received it even in the midst of this testing. I was the one walking her into these tests and into the scary places and allowing these events to happen to her and yet she wanted me to be the one to comfort her through them. HOW REVEALING!! God our heavenly father so desperately wants us to see him in the same innocent way. We are all stumbling around. We are all groping our way through this journey called life. We are being tested, poked and prodded. At times we want to give up. We need a rest and are weary with trying to walk in our own strength. It is at those times that God wants us to plop down and reach up so that he can carry us through them. He wants to walk us into our times of testing and to be the one to comfort us and carry us through them. Our trust in him is precious. It moves him to tears. When we trust him no matter the circumstance and rely on his strength it gives him the opportunity to carry some of the burden. He would have not been able to teach us this precious truth about himself if we had not walked through this journey with Hannah.

We are all sick. We all struggle this side of eternity. We were not created for the world and the purposes of the world. We were created for God and his purposes. To be used by God we must be free from the stronghold of fear. We must live our life in total submission to him allowing him to mold us and shape us into who He created us to be. Allowing him to reveal the areas within us that he desires to heal. Being free from fear is an ongoing process. It is a daily submission. It is a daily battle that we were not created to fight on our own. It is God’s battle.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Fear Not: Part 4

I mentioned in the previous post that the wall I built around my heart to keep pain out actually was the stronghold that kept God's love from entering in. In Tearing Down the Walls.
Fear becomes a STRONGHOLD when it begins to control our actions. Let me read you the definition of a stronghold. A stronghold is a fortress or castle. It is anything that set’s itself up against its opponent. In the ancient times a stronghold was the LAST line of defense. So if Fear is a Stronghold in our life it is literally putting up a wall or a fortress against Faith. Fear also sets itself up against our dependence on God for deliverance.

Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 for further insight, For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.

So a stronghold of fear sets itself up against the knowledge of God. But here we see that the Word of God has the power to demolish strongholds. Let’s go back to our definition of a stronghold. A stronghold is a fortress or castle that sets itself up against an opponent. In ancient times it was known as the last line of defense.

Let me ask you a serious question, do you really want your strongholds demolished or would you rather have them diminished? Let me explain, a stronghold can become such a fortress in our life that the thought of it being demolished is terrifying to us. It is then that our stronghold has become our IDENTITY! Some examples: A man who is afraid of failure at work becomes a work-a-holic. He works hard at his job and in return becomes really good at what he does. His work over time becomes his identity. God created man to work as for the Lord but Satan distorts this by instilling the fear of failure into the man. Work becomes a place the man retreats to when Satan brings those fears to the service instead of retreating to Almighty God.

Women are all about relationships and spending time with other women. God created us to be in relationship but Satan distorts this when we put our trust, faith and self worth in our relationships instead of in God. It is when we retreat to our friendships to get our emotional needs met INSTEAD of retreating to Almighty God that Satan has distorted what God created for good and turned our relationships into a powerful stronghold. Our relationships; what groups we belong to, what supper clubs or Bible studies we attend become part of our identity. Now, let me clarify, God created us to be in relationship with other women but He never intended for us to get all our emotional needs met by anyone other then Him. He desires to meet our emotional needs. He alone can fill our emotional cup.

God wants to be our stronghold. The place we retreat to when life throws us a curve ball. He wants us searching his holy Word for encouragement and us finding rest and peace in Him and Him alone.

The Word of God helps us to identify strongholds. We are in a war for our mind and heart. We must fight this war with our weapon, the Word of God. When we identify our stronghold we must confess it and allow the Lord to heal us.

Sometimes we need help in identifying our fears. The Lord has given us his Holy Spirit, the Counselor that leads us into all Truth. But sometimes our strongholds are so buried in our past and we have spent so much time stuffing them down that we need help identifying the root cause of our fear. We might need to seek the help of a Godly Christian counselor to help us identify the root of our fears. I’m not talking about just any counselor. I’m talking about a Bible believing, Jesus preaching, filled with the Holy Spirit counselor. A counselor who has a Biblical word view to help us search the scriptures for God’s truths.

God doesn’t want us living in the past, he wants to FREE US FROM OUR PAST!!! Christ died to set us free and if Jesus sets us free we are free indeed. Listen, I know firsthand how hard it is to take this first step. We might be afraid of the pain we will feel if we go back. But Godly sorrow always leads to repentance and freedom!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fear Not: Part 3

After we cry out to God we need to allow him to reveal areas within us that he desires to change. You see everyone in here struggles with one form of fear or another. For instance, one of my biggest fears is pain. I tend to think of it as being a worry wart. I’m constantly worried something is going to happen to Rob, one of my girls or a loved one. I don’t know if I can endure that kind of pain and loss. I’m afraid the sorrow would be enough to kill me. I wouldn’t want to do life without them and in return could I stand firm in my faith and endure the suffering and pain of losing them.

I’m also afraid of physical pain. I don’t like needles. I’m afraid of death not because I’m unsure of my salvation but because I’m afraid it’s going to hurt. I’m also afraid of causing someone else pain. I am a people pleaser. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I am constantly weighing my words because I don’t want someone to feel pain from my words or actions. The reason I tell you all of this is because I want you to see that all these fears stem from the one fear of pain. My behaviors stem from my fear of pain. I will do anything to avoid feeling pain.

Before I get into the different types of fear I want to state that we all have unique God given personalities and gifts. My three girls have unique personalities. Each one of their personalities is special to their mama. I love their uniqueness but with each personality there is a weakness. I also want to state that Satan knows our weakness! Fear distorts the natural personality traits that God has given you! The traits I’m about to talk about are not bad in and of themselves but fear can distort these traits and cause them to become our idols and strongholds!

We all have fears. Some of us have a fear of failure but we tend to think of ourselves as being work-a-holics or perfectionists or maybe we call ourselves overly conservative. We avoid trying new things because we are fearful we will fail at them. We develop behaviors to keep us from feeling failure.

Some of us have a fear of rejection but we would tend to think of ourselves as Independent or maybe we tend to think of ourselves as trendsetters. We mask our fear of rejection by buying the latest fashions and keeping up appearances. We want and desire nice things so that people will admire us and accept us. We develop behaviors that protects us from feeling rejected.

As I mentioned earlier, God has given each of us unique personalities. He has given most women the desire to be beautiful. He has given us desires to be beautiful for our husbands. But our appearance becomes our idol when our focus and self worth are entirely placed on how we look. It is then that fear distorts what God created for good and turns our appearance into our idol or stronghold.

Some of us have a fear of being alone, this one is a big one for women. What we fear is the feeling of loneliness but we tend to refer to ourselves as people pleasers, extroverts and socialites. Those who fear being alone can also have a tendency to be very controlling. They hold on tightly to those they love in fear of losing them. They develop behaviors that keep them from feeling alone or lonely. This one in particular is a tough one for me.

I went to a Christian counselor for some counseling and she had me take a personality test. The results from these tests proved I was a compulsive sanguine which means I have a compulsive desire to be around others. Now, the Lord created me an extrovert. In and of this fact is not the bad thing but when my focus is more on spending time with others than spending time with God. My relationships become my idols. I put my self-worth on how much time I spend with my friends or how many activities I can cram into my week.

The point I’m trying to make is this, we all struggle with fear. As I mentioned earlier fear is a heart issue but often times our behavior can help us to identify our fears. Asking questions like why do I do what I do? Or what is the motivation behind my behavior? These insights will help us to identify our fears.

Next week we will focus on Strongholds and Identity. I hope this is insightful and encouraging. God wants us to be free. Who Christ sets free is free indeed. My desire is for you to be free. I desire to be free. I am praying for all of you reading this blog. If you have specific prayer requests you can email me at lizblalock@comcast.net. It is my joy to pray for you!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Fear Not: Part 2

This is a continuation of Fear Not

Just to review; Let’s go back to our verse in John 14, Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. Fear is a heart issue. You and I both know that it is much easier for us to change our behavior than it is for us to change our heart. Heart issues are something we cannot combat on our own. We must have the help of the Holy Spirit. And yet when we look at the word for trouble in the Greek, the word Tarasso, it implies that Jesus is also referring to the mind. Let’s read the definition again, Tarasso to take away our calmness of mind, to cause one inward commotion, to perplex the mind by suggesting scruples or doubts, to disquiet; to make restless. But Jesus tells us not to let our hearts be troubled. Notice he didn’t say do not let your minds be troubled. He said our hearts not our minds. Jesus did not make the mistake of using the Greek word tarasso when speaking to his disciples. But why did he use a word that seems to appeal to the mind? I believe Jesus knows that to deal with mind we must look at the heart. He knows that our heart is the wellspring of life.

Let’s turn to Matthew 15:8-9, let me give you a little background. The Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus in Capernaum from Jerusalem to ask him why his disciples break the elder’s laws by not washing their hands before they eat. Jesus quoting Isaiah states to the Pharisees, “ The people (speaking of the Pharisees) honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain: their teachings are but rules taught by men. He goes on to say, “Listen and understand. What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him unclean, but what comes out of his mouth is what makes him unclean.” These are what make a man unclean, but eating with unwashed hands does not make him unclean. Jesus goes on to say in verse 18, “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean. For out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony and slander. This verse implies that essentially all sin resides in the heart. Again it is so much easier for us to obey behavioral commands of what we are and are not to do than it is for us to obey with our hearts. We must take a stand to guard our heart. John 14:1 says do NOT let your hearts be troubled. The word LET in this verse implies that this fight is active. We must guard our hearts. We must be careful what we allow to penetrate our heart. It is a daily conscience effort to preserve our hearts in Christ and preserve our hearts in truth.

Let’s go back one last time to John 14:1, Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God trust also in me. Fear is a trust issue. Who are we putting our trust in when the storms of life are raging war against us? Are we putting our trust in ourselves or are we placing all faith and trust in God. Are we focused on our situation or on God’s truths and his Word? Trusting that he is going to work out his purposes within us? Do we believe that God is going to supply us with all we need and give us the strength to get through the darkest night? In the midst of our fears our focus must be entirely on God. Faith conquers fear.

We Cry Out! Let’s turn to Psalms 22:1-11 Read aloud. We can cry out like David. Our God is big enough to handle all our fears. We must cry out. When we cry out it opens up communication between you and a mighty God. It gives him the opportunity to comfort you through your times of fear and despair. In fact when you read the Psalms you discover that what starts out as crying out turns into praise. When we cry out to God in the midst of our trouble he in-turn reveals himself to us. Think of it this way, if your child was fearful or sad you would want them to come to you and tell you what’s wrong. You would want them to TRUST you with the things closest to their heart. Most of the time I already know why Hollen is sad but I still want her to trust me with her feelings of sadness and her fears. I want her to want me to comfort her through them. Jesus being tempted in every way can comfort us through the toughest of times. He longs to comfort you.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fear Not: Part 1

Do not let your hearts be troubled trust in God; trust also in me. John 14:1

We as women are so in tune with our feelings and emotions that at times we fall into the trap of believing that our feelings and emotions are truth. How we feel about something becomes our reality. We rely so much on how we “feel” about a situation that our feelings often override God’s truths. For instance, when we say things like, that just doesn’t “feel” right to me; I don’t “feel” like God loves me; I don’t “feel” like I love my husband anymore; I’m “feeling” a little off today; That particular verse doesn't seem fair and doesn't feel right. We are allowing how we feel at that particular moment to define our actions and our reality. It is at these moments that we must remember, God's truths override our feelings. Can I just interject for a moment, God's will for our life very rarely appeals to our flesh therefore, our feelings can not be trusted. For our flesh and the Spirit are constantly at war within us.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. John 14:1
The Greek word for trouble in this verse is the word Tarasso, which means to agitate, to cause one inward commotion; to take away one’s calmness of mind. It goes on to use words like to disquiet, to strike with fear and dread; to suggest scruples and doubts. When I read this definition I picture someone who is restless, who doubts, someone who is unfocused.
Henceforth, the word Tarasso distracts us from God’s truths and causes our minds to be filled with lies and confusion.

I struggle with fear. Most of the time my fear is unfounded and totally irrational. My husband always says I missed my calling in two areas, 1. As a lawyer because I will argue a point to the ground and not back down and 2.In the C.I.A. in the Preventative Terrorism Division, P.T.D for short, this is my term for my fear disorder. My husband’s term is probably more appropriate, Conspiracy Think Tank Division, C.T.T.D for short.
You see I struggle with imaginations. I will get silly ideas in my mind and what starts out as this possibly could happen turns into this is going to happen and it is going to happen now. What is my plan of action? I’m telling you if anyone comes in my front door when I am home alone they will be greeted with a golf club in one hand and knife in the other. If anything they might go down in a heap of laughter. Now, I can share this and we can laugh about it but the truth is I have struggled with fear since childhood and I’m sick and tired of being afraid.

John 14, Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. Fear is a heart issue. You and I both know that it is much easier for us to change our behavior than it is for us to change our heart. Heart issues are something we cannot combat on our own. We must have the help of the Holy Spirit. And yet when we look at the word for trouble in the Greek, the word Tarasso, it implies that Jesus is also referring to the mind. Let’s read the definition again, Tarasso, to take away our calmness of mind, to cause one inward commotion, to perplex the mind by suggesting scruples or doubts, to disquiet; to make restless. But Jesus tells us not to let our hearts be troubled. Notice he didn’t say do not let your minds be troubled. He said our hearts not our minds. Jesus did not make the mistake of using the Greek word tarasso when speaking to his disciples. But why did he use a word that seems to appeal to the mind? I believe Jesus knows that to deal with mind we must look at the heart. He knows that our heart is the wellspring of life.

Just a little exerpt from the bible study Footsteps. Hope you have a wonderful day. More on Fear in the days to follow. I would love to hear from you if you struggle with fear.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Who is it that you are looking for?

As I am writing this I'm not sure what the Lord is going to reveal. I am overwelmed with the love he has for us. Sitting here now I am overcome with emotion for him and all he has done for us.

When the officials and chief priest came to seize Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus went to them knowing all that was going to happen to him, he asked them, "Who is it you want?"
"Jesus of Nazareth", they replied." I AM HE", Jesus said. Again Jesus asked them, "Who is it you want?" "Jesus of Nazareth", they replied. "I told you I AM HE"... they bound him and took him away. (John 18:4-8)
In three short verses Jesus says "I AM HE" twice. I am the one you are looking for. The one who will go willingly to die for the sins of mankind. For what the leaders of the world plot for evil the Lord orchestrates for good. Jesus was the one they were looking for in the garden to crucify. He is the one we look to to save us from our sin and call Lord. His death and ressurection brings us life. His death brings life. The ultimate paradox.
Death brings Life.
Mary Magdalene went to the tomb of Jesus weeping over the death of her Lord, Jesus asked Mary, "woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" (John 20:10-13)
Could Jesus be asking us the same thing..."Liz why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" I AM HE, I AM HE. If your need is great He is Greater! I Am who you are looking for!

I Am the Great I Am
I Am the Great Counselor
I Am your Redeemer
I AM Savior and LORD
I Am who I Am
I Am your Mighty Warrior
I Am the Prince of Peace
I Am King of Kings
I Am Lord of Lords
I Am your Creator
I Am the Lamb of God
You ARE Lord and I am not

When Jesus came to Casarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
They replied,"some say John the Baptist, other say Elijah, and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets".
"But what about you?", he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Matthew 16:13-15
Who do you say Jesus is? Who is he to you? He desires to be YOUR Great I AM!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Why Are You Crying??

I am plagued by fears. Most of the time my fears are completely irrational. I can get so hyper focused that I get lost in my own thoughts and have a hard time pulling myself back to the present reality. I was having one of my moments of fear when I cried out to God for deliverance. Deliverance over my fears. It was then that he asked me this question, " Liz, Why was Mary crying in the Garden?". My response, "Lord, what does my fear have to do with Mary in the garden?" I want to share with you what the Lord showed me by asking me this not so simple question.

John 20:10-15, Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 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." At this she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

"Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it that you are looking for?"

Could it be that when we are in the midst of our anguish that our minds become cloudy? We are so focused on our present reality, we don't see Jesus as he really is? High and lifted up seated at the right hand of God. Exulted. We are so focused on our present situation that we fail to see all that he is doing in our lives and in the lives of others. I want to point out that this same chapter tells us that Mary went to Peter and John and told them that "they" had taken him out of the tomb. The difference was that when Peter and John saw the empty tomb they believed and went back to their homes.

You see, like Mary I can get so caught up in my present sufferings that I react as if there is no God at all. Can you identify with Mary's weeping? Do you feel her sorrow? If you like me can identify, let me encourage you, God does not leave us in our pit of despair. You see Mary went looking for Jesus. She went looking expecting to find him in the tomb dead unable to save her from her present grief but nevertheless she went looking. Mary went looking to anoint Jesus with oil but she is the one who left that day anointed! Let me ask you, "who is it that you are looking for?" "who is it that you seek?"Jesus was and is and will be your deliverer. He is more than able to meet all my needs and he is more than able to meet yours as well.


Welcome

This is a blog of remembrance. I have found that the most intimate times with the Lord are the times when we feel we can not go one more day in our own strength. Only when we are awakened to our depravity can we experience the all consuming love from the one who loves us wholly and completely. I want my girls to know all that He has done for us. This is a collection of stories documenting our story which is really His story weaved through our fragile and fleeting lives. My call to remember....