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GOD OUR HEALER

 

Yes, God heals. But what does that mean? And why is it important? As I’ve meditated on this I’m increasingly impressed with how vital God’s healing is, yes for our bodies but just as importantly for our spiritual well-being. Healing is about release from pain and limitations. It’s about return to full function. It’s about restoration to wholeness. To health. To well-being. As Healer, God seeks to bring us back into unobstructed union with the Divine.

 

GOD WANTS TO HEAL US

It’s important to know that God wants to heal. Longs for us to be whole. Heals so that we can be restored to true and full fellowship with God. The following scripture verses underscore God’s persistent, unrelenting desire to have us be whole and in relationship with him/her. God is proactive as Healer.

 

“I am the Lord who heals you.” (Jehovah-Ropheka = the Lord your Healer). Exodus 15:26   “See now that I, even I, am he; there is no god besides me……..I heal….” Deuteronomy 32:39   “…they did not know that I healed them.” Hosea 11:3 “I will seek the lost and bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak…” Ezekiel 34:16a “I have seen their (willful) ways, but I will heal them; I will lead them and repay them with comfort…” Isaiah 57:18 “(God) binds up; …. his hands heal.” Job 5:18 “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.” Matthew 8:17 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 “He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.” Matthew 4:23 “Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. Mark 1:41-42

 

FAITH UNDERGIRDS HEALING

Next, it’s good to remember that faith accompanies healing. We need to reach out. To ask. To receive. We need to believe and accept God at work in our lives. To be complete, God’s work as Healer requires belief and acceptance on our part. True, some healing seems to occur without the recipient actually asking. Who, but God, knows the readiness of that person’s heart? As a gift offered is not complete until the intended receiver accepts it, so God’s gift of healing is not complete until we believe and make it our own. The following verses illustrate several stories of seeking healing, believing and being healed.

“O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.” Psalm 30:2 “Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue (whose daughter was ‘dead’), “Do not fear, only believe.” Mark 5:36 “Then (Jesus) said to him (the tenth leper), ‘Get up and go on your way, your faith has made you well.’ “ Luke 17:19 “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 “Wherever (Jesus) went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.” Mark 6:56 “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved…” Jeremiah 17:14 “Jesus said…‘Take heart, daughter, your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well.” Matthew 9:22 “Come, let us return to the Lord; for…he will heal us;….he will bind us up.” Hosea 6:1 “Daughter, your faith has made you well, go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” Mark 5:34

 

GOD’S HEALING RESTORES WHOLENESS

Finally, the result of healing is to be made whole. To be set free. To know the joy and peace of physical and spiritual renewal and well-being. To have union with God and fellowship fully restored. Surely our response after this should be thanksgiving and praise to God our Healer. Consider the following stories.

 

“I will bring health and healing…I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.” Jeremiah 33:6 NIV “Jesus….said…’Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick;   I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’ ” Mark 2:17 “…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power;…he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” Acts 10:38 “Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases…..he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4a, 5 “I will heal their disloyalty; I will love them freely….” Hosea 14:4 “For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, says the Lord.” Jeremiah 30:17a

 

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits – who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases…” Psalm 103:2,3   “So (Naaman) went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan…his flesh was restored…and he was clean….Then he said, ‘Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel; please accept a present…your servant will no longer offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god except the Lord.’” 2 Kings 5:14-17   “…ten lepers…were made clean….one turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him…Jesus asked, ‘…the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ “Luke 17:14-19 “When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, ‘Woman, you are set free from your ailment.’ When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.” Luke 13:12,13

 

 

…Have you prayed for healing and thought your prayer was not answered? What might be going on that makes it feel that way?

…How do you know when God has healed you? What has your experience been?

…After healing, in what ways do you integrate thanksgiving and praise into your life?

 

 

We thank and praise you, Healer God, for pursuing us so that we might know healing, wholeness and full intimacy with you.

 

 

Hi, I’m Bobbie and am what some would call seasoned. Now in my early eighties I look back on a life full of experiences through which God has shaped and refined me – still a work-in-progress – and for which I’m so very grateful. My first husband and I raised three daughters and both of us worked full time. Following his death from leukemia, God gave me another good man to partner with. Our combined families now delight us with 17 grandchildren. Our church’s prayer ministry is my passion. I also enjoy reading, journaling, long walks, jig-saw puzzles and knitting prayer shawls. I’ve known Janet and treasured her friendship for close to 35 years and am honored to share on her blog.

 

c Barbara Spradley, 2015, All Rights Reserved

 

…and a little child will lead them.

Isaiah 11:6

Each of the last three summers in July, our family has been graced by the addition of a new grandchild. In 2012 we welcomed Caleb, in 2013 Evelyn, and in 2014 Joshua. Since Caleb is now almost three, we have started going on what he likes to call “adventures.” Recently, we spent a morning together at the Richardson Nature Center. We put on a show with the various animals in the puppet theatre, played the wildlife matching game, sat (almost) quietly in the outdoor observation room learning to use our binoculars, employed our strainer and magnifying glass to explore pond water life, and played imaginary games inside the big tree branch fort in the woods. Happily exhausted and hungry after a full morning of activity, we were walking hand in hand to the car with the promise of a Dairy Queen lunch ahead when Caleb called my name. “Dita,” he said, in a rather reflective tone. “Yes, honey,” I responded. “You are a really fun girl!”

As silly as this might sound, those beautiful words meant more to me than I can begin to express. In the weeks since, I have continued to return to that sweet exchange countless times in my mind and I have also happily shared that story with just about everyone. Each time I recall it, I find myself encouraged, heartened, and inspired. I am at a juncture in life where I have a strong desire to rediscover parts of myself that have been more dormant than I’d like, to resurrect my spontaneity, creativity, and playfulness! I have long felt that children are very discerning, wise, and honest, so the fact that my grandson deemed me not just a fun girl, but a really fun girl felt like a true call, an engaging invitation, the most timely and meaningful blessing.

Receiving that wonderful gift prompted me to think of other blessings I’ve received, precious words shared at tender times that continue to echo through my soul with their goodness—my best friend telling me that she always feels she’s come to know herself so much more deeply having spent time with me; my husband calling me his soul mate; my mother, on her death bed, telling me what a beautiful family I have; my son-in-law sending me a hand written letter explaining his decision to call me mom.

I also found myself remembering powerful blessings I’ve witnessed and some that I have offered myself. When a dear family friend was dying and had his family gathered around his bed, he chose to take that opportunity to share a final word of wisdom, encouragement, or challenge with each person. These messages have been remembered and referenced often in the years that have followed. As part of a Bible study I was in, I was encouraged to write notes to all the people in my life who had helped shape and influence my walk of faith. I wrote to over twenty different people and spoke specifically of how each person had blessed me through his or her example, encouragement, knowledge, or commitment. Some of those people still remind me of what it was like to receive those letters. One year when three cousins in our family were all graduating from high school, I suggested we celebrate them with a sending circle where all the relatives literally gathered around them in a circle, to name gifts, strengths, and positive memories associated with each graduate. Those kids left that day, soon on their way to college, having been wrapped in the love and positive regard of their family members. Several years ago at our large, extended family Christmas, we enhanced our tradition of gift giving by adding the gift of words. Before a person would open his or her gift, the givers would take a moment to affirm things they most admired, appreciated, or enjoyed about the receiver. We soon learned that everyone was blessed by hearing the many wonderful attributes that were highlighted.

Of course the Bible is filled with all sorts of stories that include blessings. One of my favorites is from Numbers 6:24-27: “The Lord bless and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Our church often sings this blessing at the end of services and also invites us to say it as we extend our hands of blessing over various groups of congregants as they venture forth to camp, the mission field, or their work in the world. Because of its importance in our lived experience, our youngest daughter asked her grandfather to pray this blessing over her and her husband at the conclusion of their wedding last September. Shortly thereafter, he passed away, but these precious words continue to echo in their hearts.

 

In his beautiful book of poetry To Bless The Space Between Us, author John O’Donohue includes a section at the end on how to retrieve what he feels is the lost art of blessing. He explains that in his native Ireland, the act of blessing is part of daily life and that not just clergy but everyone can offer blessing. He encourages his readers to learn to bless not only others but themselves as well. By the blessings he includes—for beginnings, desires, thresholds, homecomings, states of heart, callings, and endings—he seems to suggest that nothing is outside the reach of a heartfelt blessing. Best of all, he defines a blessing as “a circle of light drawn around a person to protect, to heal, to strengthen.” He goes on to describe exactly what I recently experienced with my dear Caleb, that “a blessing calls forth wholeness and forebrightens the way.”

Within the next few months, I am overjoyed to report that we will be celebrating the arrival of two more grandchildren. As you might imagine, I have already written a blessing that I am praying as we await their arrival.

 

 

 

 

Baby Blessing

Our loving and gracious God,

As we come before you in prayer today, we stand on tip toe, holding our breath, eyes wide with anticipation , awaiting the arrival of our brand new family members!

For these precious babies we pray:

~May your journey here be smooth and safe

~May you hold fast to the spark of the Divine that you carry within you

~May you have a healthy body, a keen mind, an adventurous spirit and a deeply caring heart

~May you be blessed with a strong sense of self worth and always know how cherished you are by your Creator, your family, and your friends

~May you bless this world in countless ways by who you are and by how you choose to live

 

And for the parents we pray:

~May your hearts be filled with peace and joy as you approach this special delivery

~May you trust that the beautiful love you share will only expand as you welcome this sweet child into your family

~May you embrace this amazing opportunity to grow with your child in wonder and in awe of our beautiful world

~May you always look to this child’s Divine Parent for guidance and direction

~And may you know that our family is an unending circle of love and support, with you and for you throughout this lifelong adventure

May it be so. Amen.

 

They can be like the sun, words. They can do for the heart what light can for a field.

 John of the Cross

 

 

Reflection Questions

~What feelings or experiences do you have around blessings?

~How have you been blessed by others?

~How have you blessed others?

~What are the ways you bless yourself?

~Is there someone whose blessing you are longing for or who you are longing to bless? How might you create the opportunity for this to happen?

 

 

Warm Greetings! I’m Tracy Mooty, a really fun girl!

I am one who enjoys listening intently, making meaning, and deepening my capacity for joy. Janet and I first met at Colonial Church years ago, and, thanks to her mostly gentle prodding, we’ve partnered to offer all sorts of programs and retreats. She’s also the reason I’ve entered into this adventure! Thank you, Janet!

 

May you go forth to bless, to be blessed and to be a blessing!

 

c Tracy Mooty, 2015. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Celebration of the Inauthentic

 

I recently co-facilitated a group activity that one person said was as inauthentic as Garth Brooks trying to sing gansta rap. Another person said the activity was all malarkey. I recognized those skeptical voices. They are often within me. I have a long tradition of challenging what seems inauthentic to me, both around me and in my own behavior. When I was a teenager in church, I would make long lists about the things I thought were inauthentic about the worship service. I didn’t understand how reciting creeds from hundreds of years ago could be an authentic expression of someone’s faith in that moment. After most work I do, I often repeatedly critique myself for not being as fully present and connected as I could’ve been. I have always longed for what was more authentic, more real. Sometimes this longing has been helpful and sometimes it has been an obstacle for me.

In the group activity people that some people said was inauthentic, we asked them to talk about new things God was doing in their lives and churches. For many people, having an intentional conversation about this is inherently awkward and uncomfortable. Many people that were enthusiastic about these conversations also acknowledged that it stretched them outside of their comfort zones and made them anxious.

I’ve come to appreciate doing things that might seem inauthentic to me at first.

Crying doesn’t come easily to me. Sometimes I set aside a time to pray, knowing I need to cry, and asking God for the gift of tears. It can feel very inauthentic to me, but God often helps me get over this, and some tears often come out while I feel held by God. If I could see myself from a distance, I might be quite challenging about how inauthentic it looked.

My kids and I sometimes do laughter yoga together, where we start laughing on purpose, just to laugh, even though nothing funny happened or was said. Once we start laughing, we often keep laughing naturally. Like the tears, this is often cathartic for me. From a distance, choosing to make yourself laugh also looks quite weird.

I have sometimes made authenticity an idol, acting as if it is more important than God. Some others might be naturally authentic almost all the time. I’ve found that it sometimes helps me to fake it until I make it. My awkwardness is also a reminder to me that my efforts won’t get me to God–that only comes through grace.

I welcome what feels inauthentic, if it leads us closer to God. I pray that God use times of discomfort and awkwardness to draw us closer.

Breaking Through Distractions

I burned a pot of rice the other day. The rice smelled like cigarettes. The pan took about an hour and a whole lot of Bar Keeper’s Friend to clean. Burning food is one of my wake-up calls–a pretty obvious sign that I need to start paying attention. That I am living distracted. This time, I was not distracted by anything noble. Time slipped away from me as I sat down to quickly check my email.

 

A while back, I burned a pot of oatmeal to a crisp because I got caught up in reading a library book that was talking about Presence. (Pause.)

 

I keep finding that I am easily distracted. Distracted by life. Distracted by the toys laying all over the living room floor. Distracted by my need to know things if there is something to be known. Distracted by the ever growing to-do-list. Distracted by what others think of me (or by the fact that they probably don’t think of me at all.) I am distracted by my need to define myself and to prove myself worthy. I am distracted when I look for my worth in the world around me.

 

Sometimes I am distracted by really good things. Important things. Like the question: “What is it exactly that I am supposed to believe about Jesus?”

 

When I try to figure things out, when I cannot let something rest, when I forget all about the deeper work that I am being called to, I know that I am living distracted. I am learning to recognize the symptoms.

 

But then what? What can I do?

 

I keep praying for open eyes and an open heart. It is a lot of work to live open, and sometimes it is easier to stay distracted.

 

I am learning to ask: “What is it that I am looking for?” Am I looking for clues to who I am? Am I looking for validation of my worth?

 

I am learning to remember who satisfies my soul.

 

God satisfies my soul in a deeper way than anything else. I’ve felt it. Experienced it. Why do I forget?

 

I am learning to let God define me.

 

I am learning to trust that God will let me know what I need to know when I need to know it.

 

I am learning to pray: “You are Enough.”

 

God is more than enough. God is everything. To glimpse God’s presence in the middle of my ordinary day is to glimpse eternity breaking through. It is participation in the Life that was and is and is to come. That Life that flows through time and connects those whose hearts hunger and long for and seek after God’s presence with us. This is Life. This satisfies. This is being awake. This is freedom.

 

As I exhale my prayer of “You are Enough,” it rises up out of me. I hear a whisper in return: “You are enough.”

 

I breathe in this Enoughness–mine and God’s–and I feel myself beginning to glimpse what it means to be whole.

 

“The essential religious experience is that you are being ‘known through’ more than knowing anything in particular yourself. Yet despite this difference it will feel like true knowing. . . . Such prayer, such seeing, takes away your anxiety about figuring it all out fully for yourself, or needing to be right about your formulations. At this point God becomes more a verb than a noun, more a process than a conclusion, more an experience than a dogma, more a personal relationship than an idea. There is Someone dancing with you, and you are not afraid of making mistakes. –” Richard Rohr, The Naked Now (That book about Presence that distracted me from my oatmeal.)

 

 

 

 

© J.L. Sanborn, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Jessica is mom to three little-ish people and wife to a great guy. She used to do lawyer things. Now the future is wide open as she learns what it means to belong in her own feet. She writes about faith and becoming at https://jlsanborn.wordpress.com.

 

 

Friends,

Just a note to say that 10 of Red Sea Band icons are on display at Taraccino Coffee shop, located at the interesection of University Ave and E. Hennepin Ave in NE Mpls. (right next door to the Brueggers and kiddy corner from Surdyks). They will be there until the end of July.

Here’s one of them: Tamar on snare drum.

I hope you enjoy them.  Janet

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