Life: God’s Winning Way

As children of God, we should desire to live a life that is pleasing to God. What pleases God? Obedience.

I know. We don’t really like to hear that word. For some it takes us back to childhood when we were taught the meaning of obey by our parents, teachers, coaches or authority figures in our lives. The life lessons on obedience were most often taught AFTER we had done something wrong. We broke a rule, we covered up our misdeeds, we acted out in anger, we dismissed the guidance and warnings of wiser ones and did it our way.

Obedience defined is compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another’s authority. Obedience often has a negative connotation and a bad reputation. Why is that?

The thought and act of obedience suggests that we must give something up, stop an activity we enjoy, start a practice we dislike, turn away from something that brings pleasure or deny ourselves.

Well, that may be true. But, the only way we fulfill God’s plan and purpose for our lives is to do His will. God has prescribed the right way to live: obeying his laws with all our hearts.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11).

God has given us His word so that we can stay in the path of His plan for our life. Gain understanding, so that we may keep your law and obey it with all our heart. Obey and you will be blessed, disobey and you will be cursed. (Deuteronomy 28).

And here is the secret: you will never know the JOY of obedience unless you trust God. Obedience is an act of faith, love and surrender to God. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3)

Obey God and you will experience life and peace and overwhelming joy! There is joy in hearing His voice, peace in submitting to His plan, as you trust Him for the outcome. Rest assured – the victory has already been won, in Jesus name.

God of the Impossible

Jesus replies, “what is impossible with man is possible with God”  (Luke 18:27)

In May of 2016, my family gathered in Atlanta to celebrate the high school graduation of my nephew. We were so blessed to be among all the exuberant seniors and cheerful relatives in that auditorium. It was a beautiful day and a joyful time for our family.   The next morning, my brother was outside in the yard, doing last minute spruce ups for the big graduation party later that evening.   Inside, the women were doing what women do in the kitchen. Suddenly, they heard a thud on the back deck. My brother had stumbled onto the deck and collapsed against the house.  He was unable to stand, right himself, or hold his head up.

Once the paramedics arrived for the assessment and transport, they indicated it was just heat exhaustion.  They were wrong. It was NOT heat exhaustion.  It was far worse.

Once at the hospital, the doctors discovered there was bleeding in my brother’s brain. Without the neurological expertise to perform surgery, my brother would die.   The plan was to immediately airlift him to Kennestone Hospital where the neurological surgeons could do what was required to save his life.

It was an emotional roller coaster.  Every fiber of my body was telling me to go into sheer panic mode, to shut down or to just collapse on the floor and cry.  But God!  I felt His presence and I knew that all the strength, composure and peace of mind that I needed could ONLY come from Him.

My sister in law was in the ER bay,  when they asked her to step out so they could intubate my brother in preparation for air transport. My mother and younger nephew were in the waiting room and my older nephew was on the way.  I now had to go and tell them the Dr’s report. I walked into that room praying for the right words.

It felt as though the beat of my heart was in a race and that my head might explode.  But then ….I looked up, stood still and knew that God was with us.  The reality of His presence was like a warm blanket of strength and peace for me.   I went back into the waiting room and told my family the Dr’s report. And then I just began to pray out loud for God’s promises of healing and restoration. My younger nephew and Mother were in the room and prayed with me.

I thank God that I was in the midst of the calamity and chaos that day. Because I believe it was prayers of many and the confidence in speaking God’s promises over my brother, that sustained him.   God dispatched his ministering and warring angels into the situation in the ER room on that day.   God sustained him….for I did not know it then, but they did not expect him to survive.   BUT God…is able to do what is impossible with man.

As they were preparing to take my brother out to the waiting airlift, my older nephew began to literally unravel, so much that he was hyperventilating.  An exceptionally compassionate nurse and a very sympathetic security guard calmed him down.  Together, this duo gave my nephew both a “Relax and breathe” intervention and a “Be strong for your family” pep talk.  I think hospital nurses and apparently security guards, are  the most compassionate, self-sacrificing and special people on earth.

After my brother arrived at Kennestone Hospital, they immediately took him into surgery to find the source of bleeding in his brain and to stop it.   After surgery, the neurological surgeon told us that my brother had  a birth defect – something called an AVM – arterovenious malformation.  It is a tangle of veins and arteries that can occur anywhere in the body.   It may lay dormant, causing no symptoms…until it ruptures.   The Dr. said there was significant bleeding in his brain.  And to make matters worse, while he was on the operating table another blood vessel burst, causing even more bleeding in the brain.   The Dr. told us t that there was too much bleeding in the brain and that my brother would not survive. In fact, he gave him less than a 4 percent chance.

Well that’s all God needs!  In fact, God doesn’t need that much.   He is a God that performs miracles!   He is a wonder working God!  He specializes in the impossible!

But that Dr. was fulfilling his responsibility to give us his best assessment based on his human knowledge and expertise.

Like most people, I have experienced times of great challenge, hardship, and on a few occasions, felt disaster looming.   All of us encounter adversity in life, at some point.  And if we are not prayerful, adversity may turn to hopelessness.  But the word of God says, and we wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.  (Psalm 33:20).   The word of God also says that we should not become anxious nor full of anxiety, but rather pray and make our request known to God and the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).  It also says that above all else, God wants us to prosper and be in good health. It is on these and other scripture that I constantly leaned.

The giant you are about to encounter and perhaps, stand face to face with, may be beyond your capacity to fight or overcome.   But God promises that He will never leave you nor forsake you.   And the secret to our faith IS confidence in what we hoped for and assurance about what we did not see (Hebrews 11:1).

Well, thank God for the confidence in hope.  Thank God we knew to take our gaze off the circumstances of the physical condition, and not to put trust in the Doctor’s report.  I could only look up at God, and believe in Him and trust His report.   The doctors believed my brother would die and we believed God – that he would not die but live and declare the works of the Lord!

My brother survived the surgery.  He was still critically ill, but God had a plan that the doctors did not see.  For the next month, still in the neurological ICU, my brother’s damaged brain condition wreaked havoc on his body, impairing one system after another.    At first we were just looking for signs that he could respond to simple commands – move your hand, lift your right arm, wiggle your toes.  And when those simple tasks were accomplished it was as though he had walked on the moon!   Day after day, he endured procedures, tests, interventions and a plethora of medications to stabilize or regulate his systems.  Every day, he made small progress.  He moved a hand or arm or foot.  He turned his head in our direction when he heard our voice.  And one day, he opened his eyes and looked in our direction as we walked into the room.  He could see!  We responded with the joy and excitement of a baby taking their first step!  His badly damaged brain was healing.

It was clear that the doctors and nurses on that unit believed they were witnessing a miracle.   You could tell by the hopeful ray of light in their eyes as they walked past his room, or the guarded smiles of the nurses assigned to his care.  Yet, there was one pessimistic doctor that needless to say, my family did not appreciate.  While we needed and expected the doctors to be open and honest about his medical condition, decisions and treatment plan, we were not willing to receive a talk on preparing for the worst, when we were hopeful and putting all our trust in God.   From that moment, I became very aware of the spirit of every medical professional that entered the room.  As my brother lay in that bed, he needed every energy source to speak life and every spirit to believe in the Almighty power of God to heal and restore his body.

They told us all the bad news and not to expect much really.  That his eyesight would be impaired, that he might not talk that it he might not walk.

Thank God, my brother’s brain injury and very unique case qualified him For Shepherd Center, one of the leading rehabilitation hospitals for brain and spinal injuries.   He was accepted and later admitted there.

When he arrived at Shepherd Center, he could not walk, talk clearly or see very well. He had double vision and wore special glasses. His badly damaged brain was improving daily, but he sometimes talked in numbers instead of words. In the early days there, he had to wear mitts on his hands so that he would not pull out or dislodge any of the lines.

Later, after my brother had been in rehab for a short while, one Dr. said my brother had suffered an injury of “gargantuan proportions” and that he was nothing short of a miracle.   That was 2.5 years ago now.  And just recently my sister and I accompanied my brother on one of his doctors appointments.   It was an ENT doctor that had never seen my brother before.   I watched as he scanned his electronic medical record.   He took a long time to review it, periodically looking at my brother as though he was making sure he was real.   He said, Wow, you have been through a lot!  My brother said Yes, a lot.   He continued to review his record, looked at my brother and said, you have had a lot of surgeries and procedures.   My brother said Yes, I have.    Doctor looked again at his record, looked at my sister and I and said, “he is a medical miracle”.    Yes.  He is a miracle…God’s miracle.  What the doctors all thought was impossible, was possible with God!

I believe it was the power of prayers that got my brother through those first few hours – which turned into days, weeks, months and now years!

The Lord was with him. We believed God.     He will fight our battles if we take our positions and stand still.  (2 Chronicles 20:17).  God has the final say!

God Speaks

He says, “Be still and know that I am God;  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  — Psalm 46:10

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The world is a noisy place.  There is chatter all around – on the TV, radio, in our places of work, at home with the family, on the train or subway to and from work.  Even in places of worship the decibel levels seem to be increasing….but there we are lifting our voices in worship, prayer, praise and singing before the Lord.

Today the incessant chimes, rings and buzzes of cell phones, social media platforms and technology have invaded our senses.  We have become ever vigilant and alert to the many noisy interruptions we experience all day; too numerous to count.  This hypersensitivity to noise and interruption has diminished our ability to focus,  concentrate, think critically and reason.

But there is a place we can go to escape the disruptive noise of everyday living.   It is to seek retreat  in the presence of God.  To those who believe in Him,  we seek to be in His presence; to find His purpose for our day and His plan for our lives.  And God does speak. He reveals it to those who yield to the Holy Spirit; the third person of the Trinity – God spiritually active in the world.  When we incline our ear to hearing, we gain understanding and are led to do His will.

Have you ever heard God speaking, in that still small, yet discernible voice?  The voice unlike any other,  yet words cannot describe it?   It is usually void of sound – inaudible.  But when you hear it, not in your ears but in your spirit, it is unmistakable.

Yes, God speaks –  in many ways: through the Bible:  Continue reading “God Speaks”