John said to Jesus, "Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us." Jesus replied, "Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us."
Ten or so years ago while working for a Christian radio station, I recall a pastor walking into my office (OK, cubicle) who had a radio show on our AM sister station. I was the morning show host on our FM signal at the time. His entire ministry centered on knowing and living out your identity in Christ. He was passionate in his calling and a likeable fellow that knew how to strike up engaging conversations.
I can't remember why, but for some reason he brought up the ministry of Joel Osteen. Personally, at that time I hadn't seen any of Osteen's televised messages, I hadn't read any of his books (though my husband owned one or two of them) and I wasn't at all familiar with his wife Victoria's ministry. All I knew, was rumor had it, he was a motivational speaker, and nothing more.
But this pastor-friend of mine went on to say, that while he didn't necessarily agree with the popular minister's method of presenting the gospel, he couldn't argue with the fact that his own mother had come to know Jesus and committed her life to Him through Osteen's on-air ministry. His mother was ill and pretty much confined to her bed, so while she couldn't attend a local church service, she could pick up her remote and tune in to Joel Osteen's broadcast from Houston each week. The Lord obviously used his weekly program to reach her.
"Every now and then, we all need a little cake," the local pastor standing next to me said.
I've never forgotten that statement. What he was saying, was Joel Osteen may not serve up meat and potatoes and a helping of broccoli which we need to survive, but he provided a message that we could all benefit from on occasion. And a couple of weeks ago, I found myself in need of a sizable slice of cake.
I was feeling discouraged over work and life in general. Yes, I have so much to be thankful for, but for some reason there seemed to be some nimbus clouds hanging over my head that I couldn't escape. Nothing really felt right and I needed a huge dose of encouragement. That's when I remembered Joel Osteen. If you're sick, you visit a doctor. If you're out of shape, you go to the gym. If you're discouraged, I figured why not check out Joel Osteen.
Thankfully, I have Sirius XM in my car (probably a no-no for a gal who worked in local radio) so I spun the dial until I found the Joel Osteen channel. It was unlike anything I had ever heard. His encouraging, positive, messages blew my nimbus clouds from overhead, replacing them with those nice puffy ones - cumulus, I think. I've been tuning in periodically ever since, whenever I find my spiritual blood sugar plummeting.
Maybe you, too, are feeling a little down, or your spiritual journey feels a little dry or stagnant. Maybe it's time to shake things up a bit. Seek out a women's retreat or conference, consider a new Bible study at your church, check out a Christian radio station you don't typically listen to, shell out a few dollars to attend a Christian concert with a friend. Do something slightly out of the ordinary...eat some cake. It won't be a permanent fix but the small change may help you see things with a fresh perspective that may ultimately help you get out of that slump.
We all need regular infusions of encouragement, and I believe it's available if you look for it. Cake, anyone?
Lately, I've been so sedentary that last night I promised myself that I'd ride my bike through our neighborhood this morning. It's not a lot of exercise, but it's better than nothing and it gets my blood moving. It also provides a little much-needed quiet time.
I was only half-way through my typical route when I began focusing on how hard it was. "Man," I thought, "I know I haven't ridden my bike in two weeks, but it shouldn't be this strenuous." The weight of my legs seemed to triple with every push of the pedals. My breath became labored. Feeling a sense of defeat, disappointed that I wouldn't finish my course, I cast my eyes down. That's when I discovered two flat tires.
I quickly turned home knowing I wouldn't make it much further, not to mention it's bad for the wheels to ride a bike with flat tires. That's when the analogy hit me. "Isn't this like the spiritual life? We don't get very far on "flat tires."
How often have I started coasting in my walk with Christ, like a bike effortlessly breezing downhill, because the previous time I invested in our relationship was enough to sustain me? Life is good, there's more joy, more peace, less agitation, less anxiety. You begin to think life will remain that way. Then you hit level pavement. You coast a little further. Then a hill (like cancer, divorce, job loss, death of a loved one) surprises you and there's no steam left to get you back up again. Eventually, you return to what worked before...dedicated prayer time, daily scripture reading, little talks with God throughout the day, and seeking the Holy Spirit's guidance... and wonder why you ever stopped to begin with. Why is there a tendency to stop pedaling?
The weight of the trials in life can become crushing when we neglect to fill our "spirit tanks" with the things of God. A lack of discipline unnecessarily complicates and tarnishes our days. Jesus said he came that we might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly. Life is GOOD! Or at least it should be.
If you've been away from God, I encourage you to get back on track. Get excited that the God of the universe wants to spend time with you! He desires to guide your steps!
I became energized as I neared home this morning, knowing I'd fill my tires and biking would become easier and more pleasurable again. If you determine to strengthen your relationship with Christ, your life is going to become more pleasurable and fulfilling, too. Get pumped and ready for the ride of your life!
Why does Jesus physically heal some people and not others? I think that’s a question we all eventually wrestle with, in particular when we, or a loved one, or a child is ill and our prayers for healing seem to go unanswered. It’s a question that re-entered my mind as I read today’s Gospel passage from the Catholic daily Mass readings. I think it hints at why Jesus chooses to heal or not.
First, let me share the passage with you.
"As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew.
There are a few key things I’d like to point out from this passage.
#1 Jesus Answers the Prayers of Others
Simon’s mother-in-law did not ask for healing for herself, that we’re aware of. BUT James, John, Simon, and Andrew did. They are the ones who took Jesus to the woman to rid her of her fever, in much the same way that the friends of the cripple confined to a mat lowered him through a roof to get in the presence of Jesus for healing. Remember that story? Blessed are those of us who have friends that will intercede for us when we’re in need of a touch from the Master. Never stop praying for your friends or loved ones.
#2 Jesus Doesn’t Heal All
Did you notice the use of the words “all” vs. “many” in the provided verses? People brought to Jesus ALL the sick and demon-possessed. It doesn’t say SOME but ALL. Every last one with leprosy, cancer, stomach ailments, deformities, etc… came to Jesus. I’m sure some of those people were already convinced Jesus was the Messiah and had high expectations that they’d be healed while others were just curious if he was truly a miracle worker sent by God. Nonetheless, the entire town gathered and what does scripture say? He healed MANY of those with various diseases and drove out MANY demons. Not ALL. If he was capable of driving out some, certainly he was capable of driving out ALL. So why didn’t he? That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? I think the following verses give us a tiny glimpse into the answer.
#3 Jesus Came Not to Heal, But for Our Salvation.
The day after some people undoubtedly rejoiced over the renewal of their health while others struggled with disappointment, wondering why they were no better off than before they encountered the Savior, Jesus left to pray. The people followed him and I can just envision some were those he declined to heal. Can’t you hear it? “Jesus, you healed my neighbor, but what about me? Don’t you care?” But Jesus told the disciples, “Let’s go somewhere else so I can preach, that is why I have come.” Jesus was on a mission from the Father to help people understand the Kingdom of God. To help them understand what was necessary for salvation. I truly believe what scripture tells us, that God works ALL (there’s that word again) things together for our good – and the greatest good is that we receive salvation, to avoid the fires of Hell and to spend eternity with him. And it’s my belief that if withholding healing from us is what causes us to draw closer to him, and to draw OTHERS closer to him, then that is what he’ll do. THE GREATEST GOOD IS FOR OUR SOULS TO REACH HEAVEN.
Of course, there are other scriptures about healing that point to the importance of having faith as well as wanting to be healed. But know it’s never our faith alone, it must be coupled with God’s will for our life. Ultimately, we must TRUST him (trust is my word for 2019) to do what is best with our heart-felt petitions, knowing he loves us and our loved ones more than we do.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." ~ John 3:16
What a comfort that when Jesus chooses to heal, he does it with the ease used to heal Simon’s mother-in-law. He compassionately takes our hand. Nothing is too complicated for God.
Funny that the title "Author" appears above this description yet I have no idea what to share about myself in this space! How about my first name is Kim. My last name is Tisor. Tisor rhymes with miser, though I try not to be one.
For more information about me, please visit the author page.