Elias Grey’s Story

Just a few short days ago, on February 5, 2012 a baby named Elias Grey Rush was born and went to be with Jesus due to hydrops.

Elias Grey, though his life was short, had a huge purpose. This little one is pointing people to Jesus. Through his parents’ (Trisha and Ruben) testimony, we see how God is our strength in times of great trial.

I am captured by Elias’ story for many reasons. One being that he shares the same name as my son. And if that wasn’t enough to grab my attention, he was born one day apart from my firstborn.

My heart is drawn to him because of these things, but also because I know his mommy, and I feel for her. But what I have seen amazes me. The real compelling part of his story is the faith I see in his parents.

(photo source)

In the midst of this extrodinary loss his mom, Trisha, said, “I believe God’s promise to me, that He will never leave me or forsake me. I believe that suffering will bring about joy. I do. I haven’t lost hope in Jesus, in my Savior.” Trisha’s testimony is amazing! Read her prayer. “My prayer has been that God would get the glory and that somehow, lives would be changed through Elias’ story on earth, however long his stay is.” I believe Trisha’s prayer is being answered. Lives are being touched. God is building faith. And God has given us a beautiful example of how He is our strength in the midst of incredible pain.

If you’d like you can read about Elias’ birthday . Also read Trisha’s post on Purposeful Pain.

If you are willing, please stop for a few moments and pray for Trisha and Ruben. They have a great Savior who is working all things together for their good, but they are still feeling tremendous loss and could use our prayers. Thank you for parntering with them in this way!

The Prayer Of George Muller

By: Mark Baker

I just finished reading a biography of George Müller. All over the world, Müller’s name has become a byword for effectual prayer. Near the end of his life, Müller recorded that he has received over 30,000 answers to prayer—and each of these answers to prayer came within the same day of his prayer—some even within the same hour! In 1880, Müller preached a remarkable sermon on prayer where he outlined four conditions on which successful prayer depends:

(1)   Prayer must be according to the will of God.

(2)   The basis of the answer to prayer must not be founded on our own goodness or merit but rather on Christ (cf. John 14:13-14).

(3)   Our prayer must be backed by faith in the power and willingness of God to answer our prayers (cf. Mark 11:24)

(4)   We must be willing to patiently wait until the “yes” answer is received.

Though Müller clearly demonstrated faith in God’s ability to immediately answer prayer, he was also accustomed to waiting for long periods of time for God’s answer. This lengthy quote, taken from Müller’s 1880 sermon on prayer, is helpful in demonstrating such a powerful dynamic of prevailing prayer:

“In November 1844, I began to pray for the conversion of five individuals. I prayed every day without one single intermission, whether sick or in health, on the land or on the sea, and whatever the pressure of my engagements might be. Eighteen months elapsed before the first of the five was converted. I thanked God, and prayed for the others. Five years elapsed, and then the second was converted. I thanked God, and prayed on for the other three. Day by day I continued to pray for them, and six years more passed before the third was converted. I thanked God for the three, and went on praying for the other two. These two remain unconverted. The man to whom God in the riches of His grace has given tens of thousands of answers to prayer, in the self-same day or hour in which they were offered, has been praying day by day for nearly thirty-six years for the conversion of these two individuals, and yet they remain unconverted; for next November it will be thirty-six years since I began to pray for their conversion. But I hope in God, I pray on, and look yet for the answer” (George Muller: Delighted in God 193).

One of the two unconverted individuals became a Christian before Müller’s death, and the other was converted shortly after Müller left this earth. Whether it is faith for an answered prayer that is needed within the hour, or faith to prevail in prayer for a lifetime, Müller’s testimony points us to the God who is faithful to answer the prayers of his people.

Trusting God In Times Of Pain

Matt Hammitt, a Christian musician, had a choice to make when he heard his son Bowen had a heart defect. He could have become bitter and angry at God, or he could trust his sovereign Lord in his time of pain. Today I wanted to share his story as an encouragement to you. Hammitt relied on God and kept his heart fully open to both Jesus and his son. I pray that like Matt Hammitt you can keep your heart open before the Lord and allow Him to heal you even in the most difficult of times.

If you have any trouble watching this video watch their story here. This is the song Hammitt wrote to his son in the midst of his struggle.

It Is Well With My Soul

For this month’s testimony, I wanted to share a video about the great hymn writer, Horatio Spafford. Spafford’s life was marked with tragedy, yet he turned to Jesus for his strength. I hope you are encouraged by this short video about his life. And I pray that like Spafford, you can say, “It is well with my soul.”

Corrie Ten Boom’s Testimony

Corrie Ten Boom, standing naked next to her older sister, watched as a concentration camp guard beat a helpless prisoner. While Corrie was concerned for the prisoner, her sister Betsie prayed for God to forgive the brutal Nazi guard. What Corrie didn’t know then was that God would use not only her sister’s testimony of forgiveness to affect people all over the world, but hers as well.

Corrie Ten Boom was carried into a world that we would all fear- concentration camp. Corrie dealt with starvation, thirst, nakedness, beatings, death of family members etc.. all for helping the Jews. Her own heritage would not have led to her imprisonment, but it was because she offered help to God’s chosen people that she faced great suffering. She chose to listen to the Spirit of God, and let His word guide her.

It was God who sustained this woman in a time of great horror.

After Corrie’s release, she began to preach the Gospel of Jesus and about forgiveness. In Munich she was at a church service when she saw her first S.S. solider since being in concentration camp. The sight of this man brought Corrie back to a room full of “mocking men, the heaps of clothing, and Betsie’s pain-blanched face” (238).

The man approached Corrie after the service and said, “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein. To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!” (238).

The man extended his hand. Corrie was faced with a decision. Keep her hand at her side and refuse to forgive this brutal, sinful man or extend the forgiveness that God offers to each of us.

Corrie’s thoughts boiled with anger, yet she knew even in the moment it was wrong. Corrie knew that Christ had given up his life for this man and that had died on the cross to forgive his sins. Could she ask for more than that?

In that moment, Corrie cried out to God to forgive her and to please help her extend forgiveness. Struggling to lift her hand she felt no charity, no kindness, and no warmth. She cried out to God again for help (238).

As Corrie placed her hand in his a miracle took place. Read Corrie’s words, “From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me” (238). In that moment, Corrie discovered that forgiveness relies on God. “When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself” (238).

What enemy is God calling you to love? Is there someone you need to forgive today? Remember God gives you the ability to do what He has commanded. Cry out for help. He will help you.

(The quotes used in this post were taken from The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom.)

A Tragedy Turned Into Triumph

On October 2, 2008 I lost my first baby. I remember my cheeks were hot with tears, as I felt the sting of sudden loss. As the mysterious world of pregnancy slipped from my grasp, I waded through various emotions. I was sad because I wouldn’t be afforded nine months to carry life. I was angry that wouldn’t be able to hold onto the delicate life that had been placed in my womb. Pinpricked by the reality of death, I faced tragedy.

What I didn’t know on October 2nd was that Jesus had victory waiting for me around the corner. What I would find out was, Jesus is good at turning tragedy into triumph. He was the one who could lift my head that was heavily tilted toward despair. He was the one who could take the sadness that clung to me like cobwebs and turn it into joy. He was the only one who could triumph.

What helped me while facing tragedy was to know who God is. God is a rescuer. In Exodus 1-3 there is a group of people who were stuck. Their lives were bound with chains. Slavery had overtaken them. Like many of us today the people were oppressed and carrying heavy burdens. The people were afflicted. But bigger than their very real problems was a God who loves to rescue.

This God that loves to rescue is one who hears. The same God that heard the people’s cries for help is the same God who will hear your cry for help today (Exod. 2:23-25; 3:7).

This God that loves to rescue is one who sees. God saw the oppression of His people and did not stand idly by. That same God sees your hurt. This God that loves to rescue is a hearer, and a seer, but also one who knows. At the end of Exodus 3:7 it says, “I know their sufferings.” Jesus knew the suffering of His people, and He knows what is making the tears flow for you. He knows what is causing you pain. He knows your suffering.

This rescuing God hears. He sees. He knows. This God came to deliver His people (Exod. 3:8) and to bring them out of their affliction (Exod. 3:17). This God is Jesus. And “Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). Jesus can deliver you and is strong enough to bring you out of your affliction.

Just because God knows about our pain and can rescue us doesn’t mean that our pain isn’t real. We can cry. The people in Exodus cried and even groaned, but they did it before the Lord. Their hope was in the only one who could deliver them. In the midst of tragedy it is important to know what to do.

In the middle of tragedy cry out to God. In Exodus 3:23-25 the people cried and groaned before God and He heard them. Jeremiah 29:12 tells us to call upon God, to come to Him, and to pray to HIm. He will hear us.

Don’t just cry out but seek the Lord with all of our hearts. Not just the pieces that are together. Not with just the pieces that are presentable. Bring Him your whole heart. Even if it crushed, broken, tattered, or bruised. Bring the whole thing even if it is burning with a desire to sin.Bring your whole heart even if it is confused. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says that the eyes of the Lord are looking for a whole heart devoted to God. We don’t have to get our heart right before we bring it to God. Bring it no matter what condition it is in. Watch God take that heart and rescue it, restore it, and renew it. He can and will give you a new heart, a healed heart, and a whole heart.

Our Testimony Will Be Our Ministry

Have you ever wondered why Boaz was so kind to Ruth at the threshing floor (Ruth 3)? Why was he the only one who spoke up about her? Why was he willing to not only marry her, but redeem her whole family while everyone else remained silent?

I think the answer is found in Boaz’s testimony. Do you know his story? It is incredible.

The Bible introduces Boaz’s mom to us as a prostitute. Talk about some family bondage, but this was his testimony. Boaz grew up with a mom that had once been a foreigner to God. He lived with a mom whose city had been evil. He had a mom that was in a pit of sin until one day she radically encountered God.

God changed everything in his family. Boaz now lived with a mom who decided to partner with the people of God and was led to confess that the “LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath” (Josh. 2:11). He grew up with a mom who made oaths to ensure that her family would be redeemed. He lived with a mom who concealed things in order to be loyal to the one true God. He grew up with a mom who was faithful and loyal to her family. He lived with a mom who saw God work redemption even in the midst of judgment (Josh 2).

So, why was Boaz kind to Ruth- a foreign woman who was from an evil city? Why was he willing to redeem her even in the midst of judgment? Why didn’t he treat her like a foreign woman, but instead as a woman who had been transformed by God and saved from sin?

He may have been the only one to notice Ruth, because God had turned his testimony into his ministry. You see our testimonies are meant to give us a lens to see our appointed ministry. Because of what we’ve been through, we are going to see things others might not. Because God had comforted Boaz’s family with redemption and loyalty, it is not surprising that Boaz was able to see where he could extend that same comfort to his future bride.   

Boaz’s experiences were meant to give him lenses to see others who were hurting and needed Jesus’ touch. God gave him a unique perspective. He equipped him to minister to Ruth because of his testimony with God.

The same is true for us. Our testimony is our appointed place of ministry in the church and with unbelievers.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort hich we ourselves are comforted by God.”

I love this verse, and cannot tell you how many women I have been able to pray with and speak to because the Lord allowed me to lose a child to miscarriage. God has not only given me eyes to see hurting people, but he has turned my testimony into a ministry.  

So the question is: what has God equipped you with? What have you been through where Christ comforted you? Friend, those areas where the Lord comforted and healed you is probably going to be your strongest area of ministry.

First we must be comforted by God in all of our afflictions, so that second, we can share that same comfort with others (2 Cor. 1:3-4).

Surprised By Hope

I remember my sophomore year of college like it was yesterday. Let me tell you, it was like I got a one-two punch. Bad news threw the first blow and even worse news threatened to take me out. Isn’t it weird how tragedy comes in twos and threes? One was enough- thank you!

In a matter of minutes, a phone call changed the course of my year. In a matter of seconds, the light of God came and exposed darkness. That light would change my family forever. The circumstances were bad and the reality of sin was painful.  In that moment, I felt hopeless.

But I learned that I cannot surrender to my circumstances.  I cannot let betrayal, pain, and confusion dictate truth to me, because hope does not depend on my circumstances.

The truth is, “All things will work together for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).  

Honestly, I looked at my situation and asked God, “How is any of this good?” It wasn’t until later that I realized that God’s definition of “good” was very different from mine. I defined “good” as 1. Nothing bad ever happening 2. Things always going well for me 3. Always getting what I want 4.Succeeding in everything that I do, etc…”

My Pastor Nathan Tarr said, “When we hope in a promise, like Romans 8:28, that God will work all things in our lives together for good, but then import our own vision of what that good must be, we set ourselves up to be “ashamed” of God and “disillusioned” with God (cf. Phil. 1:20).”

I was disillusioned with God, and it wasn’t until I saw God’s definition of “good” that my perspective changed. So, what does God mean when He says “All things will work together for good”?

 Let’s redefine “good.” The “good” that God promises us in His word is that…

  1. The Gospel will progress.  Philippians 1:12 says, “I want you to know, brothers, what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel.” The terrible circumstance in your life right now may be the very thing God will use to bring the Gospel to you or the people around you.       
  2. Faith will progress. In Philippians 1:25, Paul shows us that there will be “progress and joy in the faith.” We can be confident that it will progress because our hope is in Jesus who is the “founder and perfector of our faith” (Heb. 12:1-2). Sometimes the sanctification and progressive work that God wants to do in our hearts is hard, but He will refine us with the circumstances of life regardless of whether they appear good or bad to us.

Looking back on my circumstances as a sophomore, I can see how God was building up my faith. The circumstances never changed, but God was doing a good thing by conforming me into the image of His Son (Rom 8:29). He was giving me a testimony. God was showing me my need for the cross. Gospel work was happening in my heart. Faith was progressing. Jesus kept His promise to work “all things” together for good in my life.

Jesus kept His promise, and for the first time in my life I have hope. In the past, I hated the word “hope” because I was hopeless. So I was surprised by the hope the Lord showed me.  This hope is something that I expect God to do in me, yet I don’t possess it fully right now.   

This hope is not founded in my circumstances; rather it is founded in the word of God and in the person of Jesus.

I have hope that God will sanctify me in the truth of His word (Jn. 17:17).I have hope that these trails will make me steadfast and that I will lack nothing (James 1:2-4).I have hope that when God “has tried me, I shall come out as gold” (Job 23:10). I have hope that God will conform me into the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). I have hope that I am being transformed in the same image from one degree of glory to another, for this comes from the Lord who is Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18).I have hope that if I endure, I will reign with God (2 Tim. 2:12). And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil. 1:6).

Christ in me is the “hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).