How Do You Know You Have a New Life, a.k.a, Freedom?

Going to Target this evening to pick up a script from the pharmacy and I decided to put the top down as it is an amazing, late-summer evening. Wow, it felt so great and I really wished I was driving an hour to get there and an hour to get back. The wind blowing through my hair, day giving way to night, and its open sky above me was tangibly a way to taste Freedom!

This set the stage for what was soon to come. I certainly had no idea. This is true of my existence much more often than I’d like to admit.

An hour later, sitting in my man cave reading from Acts I find these words, “Go stand in the temple courts and tell the people the full message of this new life.” An angel said this to the Apostles who had been put in prison for teaching and performing miracles in Jesus’ Name.

These words hit me:

“…tell the people the full message of this new life.”

This instantly made me ask myself a series of questions:

  1. What prison am I in that I cannot open the doors and need to be freed?
  2. If I’m not in a prison then am I telling people what Jesus has done (a.k.a., the full message of this new life)?
  3. What is “new life” and do I truly have it?
  4. What is stopping me from telling our story, Jesus and my story?

For question 1, the main prison that keep me locked up and bound in a stronghold made of a powerful chain of links stronger than iron–fear and secrets–no longer holds me captive. I am free. SSA/homosexual attractions and confusion is gone and growing less and less every day. Only God can do this. I have collaborated with Him. Together we are free and growing in Freedom.

For question 2, I have this blog and share with men, mostly, the ways He has taught me what Freedom is and how to walk in it. So, yes, I do tell what Jesus has done.

For question 3, “new life” for me is salvation from my sins AND living the abundant life Jesus has for me, daily (John 10:10b, NKJV “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”). No more guessing if I’m gay. No more wondering why I have unholy desires for men. No more porn and the sins that come with it. No more. Over eight years walking in pursuit of holiness and turning away from the lies of the enemy! Wow, thank you Jesus! I never could have done this on my own. And, I doubt I’d still be walking this earth if you wouldn’t have freed me!!

And last, question 4, what is stopping me from telling my story? Our story? Only me. You woo, prompt, and put opportunities in my path almost daily. And, I often reluctantly comply.

Why do I hold back?

There is still a level of fear in me. Yes, I admit it. And, writing these words (all the words of this post and blog) is yet another way to show this fear that it will not rule in my life!

Where are you in your journey? Are you free from your stronghold(s)? What is Holy Spirit asking you to do to start growing in Freedom? What are the bars to your prison cell? They truly are rubber compared to the strength of Jesus’ arms and power to bust you free!

I have always found that seeing God move in someone’s life gives me hope He can so the same for me. If you need hope to know change is possible then read my post sharing how He worked in my life, Can Your Life Really Change?

If you need any help in your journey leave a comment and let me know how to reach you. We can email, text, or talk. If you want your comment left private just say so. There is Freedom for you no matter what your stronghold is!

When Grief Does Turn Good – Reflection on Tragedy

I cross the street and I’m stepping on the set of a movie as this cannot be real! This has to be a scene being filmed for a new action adventure staring Bruce Willis, not my hometown of Joplin, MO. My mind is numb. My thoughts are processing in slow motion. This is is wild as my brain usually can go in many directions at a time and I work hard to slow my focus to what is most important at that moment. The central thought is, “They are dead.”

This was my life three years ago today at approximately 6:30pm (written on May 22, 2014). I lived in Carl Junction, MO. My parents and niece lived in Joplin, MO where a F5 tornado ripped through the town. Our satellite was out so we had no clue how bad the damage was from the tornado. My wife was receiving text from our youngest daughter about the damage. First, St John’s was destroyed. No way! This upset me greatly as it was my first real job, where my wife and I met, and I knew many people were there as patients and employees – what happened to the people? Next, Home Depot was gone. This cannot be true. My heart is starting to race. How bad was this storm? Then, the text came that Walmart at 15th & Range Line was gone. “That’s only a few blocks from Mom and Dad’s house! We have to go and check on them.”

We park at the Joplin School District Administration building and walk to their house. I’m in shock. At this moment, as I reflect, I can feel my mind and body go numb again. So much has transpired in three years. My dad perished from the tornado, and then my oldest sister died two mornings later from a stress induced heart attack. God is good.

The devastation was huge financially and priceless emotionally. This city is still scarred from the damage and yet healing has happened as businesses and neighborhoods are being rebuilt. This means lives are being rebuilt. God is good.

The community rallied together and we received an outpouring of assistance from those not affected, including people from all around the United States. I’m sure there were probably people from other countries who helped too. People affected helped others as they could too. God is good.
Personally, I went forward starting a new job where I was given so much assistance from new coworkers, who are now like family, processing the loss by grieving, attending the joint memorial service for my dad and sister, and trying to help my mom and the rest of my family recover. Many people were at my side which was very comforting. God is good.

Something was wrong though. Each week would pass and I would reflect upon it thinking it was horrible and next week will get better…but it didn’t. A good friend gave me the card of a Christian counselor. I put it on my desk and told myself I would call and make an appointment if the next week wasn’t any better. This went on for a month. On a Thursday, I started to leave my desk for some reason and, boom, it hit me again. I dropped to my chair and fought with every once of my strength not to break down. When I lifted my head from praying, I saw the counselor’s card and picked up the phone and called. God is good.

It has been three years ago and I’m am not the same man any longer. God is real. Yes, He is more real than anyone or anything else in this life. He is the unseen real. He has healed me of so much with more yet to happen as He is generous and there will always be more healing needed. What has happened is monumental though and, is a miracle! God is good.

I live with an excitement for each day and know what is to come is good. How can I do this? Because…God is good.

If you were hurt in any way from the Joplin tornado (really any tragedy) and are not thriving and better now than before, please get help. See a counselor, talk to your minister, let me know and I will help you however I can. God is real. He wants to help you. If you are hurting from anything and need help, He is real and wants to help you. If you want help from me, let me know and I’ll do anything I can to assist you so you too will know…God is real, He loves you, Jesus’ transformation for you will give you new life – one you cannot begin to dream how good it will be.

Anything that can happen in life to help you start to understand, or grow your understanding that…God is good, is good. This is when grief turns good. It takes time. This is true. If I’ve said once I have said a thousand times, “You get better or you get bitter.” I’m getting better. And I so thankful I’m not allowing the other to happen.

I pray you are learning this too in your journey with Jesus.

What Does It Take To Heal – Part 1, Know God Is REAL

This blog is about discipleship. So, what is discipleship? In my mind, discipleship is following a master and imitating their life, in both words and deeds. My Master is Jesus. How do I learn to follow Him? I read the Bible constantly as it is the greatest source of understanding and knowing Him. I read books (lots of books!) written by experts (especially compared to me!) on Jesus’ life and ministry. I listen to sermons, podcasts, and discuss Him with almost anyone I can get to talk to me for more than five minutes. Of course, that means I like to do most of the talking as I really like to talk and have everyone else listen! I am kidding…slightly. I pray, journal, meditate, and eat/chew on Scripture and practice spiritual disciplines. I’ll do anything I feel He asks of me to lean into Him.

I absolutely love the Bible! I see it as the greatest story ever told with God, known in the flesh as Jesus, as the leading man and everyone else has a character roll that is vital in telling His story–our story. It is “our story” because no one has a story all their own. It is always–Jesus and I/you. And usually there are several other people involved too. It is the most passionate, thrilling, compelling, saddest, magnificent, epic, quaint, (and many other adjectives I could use) narrative that explains how REAL God is and how much Jesus loves you and I. I truly doubt any story can be told that couldn’t be found somewhere in Scripture. Our story may have a modern rendition of a story in the Bible, but it is there.

You and I–our lives–are a story. If you’ve not read my story then you can check out Part 1 and Part 2 for the full details. So what do our stories have to do with healing? I have been reflecting back on my journey trying hard to discern what I did to break the stronghold of unwanted SSA (Same Sex Attraction)/homosexual desires. I have truly done anything I felt the Spirit asked me to do. He spoke to me through: professors in seminary, counselors, fellow believers, the Spirit, and I did whatever asked to the greatest degree of strength and energy I had at the time. Now, I will say at the beginning of my journey, I opened up to two buddies, sharing my “secret” for the first time to someone other than Jesus, and found such a relief that I felt I was healed instantly! I was, until I had the next encounter with porn or lusting, after some man who caught my eye in public because he was attractive–having something I perceived I lacked and desired from him. I believe this is the root of SSA. It is an insufficiency or void in identity. This causes desire to fill the void so one attempts to take from another man, found to be attractive and having what is perceived to be missing, for himself. When I begin to grow in my identity in Jesus and know that anything I lacked, He would supply and learn no one else could fill the voids; then I really began to see the desires fade and to transform. So, whenever I felt I was “healed” – it was never permanent as there was/is always more work to do. I was driven by “total healing.” For me this meant I would never find any man attractive, in any way, and certainly would never think about any man again in a sexual way. This “has” and “has not” happened. What does that mean?

I still find some men to be attractive. What about sexual attraction to men? Nope. That is gone.

Is it okay to fine certain men attractive? Yes, that is recognizing beauty in God’s creation just like I can see His handiwork in nature, art, music, written word, theater, inside myself, anyplace I am open to seeing the work He has done.

Do lustful thoughts about men come into my mind? Yes. The enemy is a great adversary. He also has a limited “bag of tricks.” He learns early in our lives how to tempt us and remembers “what” entices us and “how” we react to these temptations he tosses our way. He is very old and very good at his craft! These temptations turn into sins we commit when we are overcome by them. When we heal, he still tempts in the same ways. As we are transformed more and more into the likeness of Jesus his temptations have less and less sway over us. We are still tempted and these temptations in no way negate the truth that we are healed!

An alcoholic has greater and greater amounts of healing with less and less struggle as they work out their part of the healing process; yet twenty years of sobriety still does not produce a person who never has a temptation to drink. It becomes simpler, not easy, for the alcoholic to fight temptations as they learn their triggers and remember the consequences of past actions to help them say “no.” That is where success is found – saying “no” to the temptation and “yes” to Jesus. He is always there with an invitation to “follow Him” to counter the temptation. The alcoholic makes the choice. The person struggling with unwanted SSA/homosexual desires makes the choice too.

This is true for anyone of any struggle: food addiction, exercise addiction, word (gossip/slander, etc.) addiction, sex addiction, anything we put in God’s place as the single source of our worship. Truly it is an idol.

How does all this relate to what I found was the first and foremost important factor for my healing? I’m glad you finally asked! I once met a lady who gave me her email and it started with “dustfromthemastersfeet@domain.com.” Now, I had to break apart the words in my head and when I did, I smiled as my heart warmed. “Dust from the master’s feet.” Wow, how true this would be in the first century when Jesus walked the earth? His disciples would have dust from His feet fly onto them–their feet, sandals, the hem of their robes, anywhere it would land because they were “with” Him as He walked the roads teaching, healing, being God! They would have to be in a relatively close proximity for this to happen though.

Jesus doesn’t walk the earth any longer though, at least not in the same way. So, how do I get dust from His feet to fly onto  me? In the literal sense, I cannot. But figuratively, I can through the ways I mentioned earlier. I spend time with Him. I must experience Him. How is this done?

Seeking to have “dust from the master’s feet” on me requires I know in my heart this: God/Jesus/the Spirit…is REAL. Today, and for the past 1,899 years, this is a undeniable feat since Jesus left earth and ascended into Heaven to the right hand of our Father. The first one hundred years or so I would say it would be easier to say “yes” that Jesus was real. I don’t have any problem knowing that Theodore Roosevelt was real and he died within the last 100 years. The further back in history requires me to have faith that the history books, teachers in school, etc., are true and told the truth. So this can be applied to Jesus, for me, too. I do believe Jesus was real just like Theodore Roosevelt. Truly, more REAL!

But isn’t it more important for Jesus to be real than Theodore Roosevelt? As a Christian, absolutely yes! If Jesus wasn’t real then how could He have died for my sins and saved me? How could the Gospel be true? My life of faith is a lie.

I wanted to know how other people know God is real so I asked a group of men I meet with each week and each told me from their “encounters/experiences” of Him. The wording was a little different for each man and basically the same as what they said was how they had encountered Him in ways so they knew He is real. I also asked a few people on a Facebook page I created called “Consider The Cost” and they all basically said the same too. I was sum what surprised as I really expected the answers to be centered more from truth of the Bible. I know all the people who responded (about 15 total so this is not a sampling with a huge number of participants. You take what you get, right?) well and they all are very familiar at best, if not well versed in the Bible. Because of this I know they have a degree of belief from Scripture. Yet, none of them used this as their main way of knowing God.

When I ponder this, it makes total sense the response would be like this. If I would share with you how REAL a best friend of mine is–or my wife, daughters, family–I wouldn’t tell you how a book is the best way of knowing them! It would be the intimacy from our shared experiences that causes me to know they are real.

How can I know Jesus is real other than reading the Bible, listening to sermons, hearing from others how they know Him, etc.? I have “super-natural” encounters with Him! This is what the rest of this post is about. I have had encounters that are nothing less than phenomenal! I share them to inspire you. You too can experience these just as much as I have, or anyone else. Once you have a “super-natural” encounter, your faith will explode! What if you haven’t, and never do have, have an encounter that cannot be explained? You take in what others share with you and ask the Spirit to help you to know if the story is true. He will tell you. Pray and ask God to open your mind to know Him however He wants to share Himself with you. Be excited and expectant for Him to move…because He is doing it!

I share these encounters as they helped me in two ways:  God became REAL; and He could heal and transform me since He is REAL. I pray these stories will inspire and take your faith to a new, deeper level so you can trust God more to help you do the impossible in your life too!

My first “super-natural” encounter is from my childhood. I tell it in Part 1 of my story. I’m not going to repeat the details here. You can read it for yourself. What I want to share again here is that from a very young age I knew God was REAL, loved me, and had great plans for me. This aligns perfectly with Scripture. See Jeremiah 29:11. This was pivotal in my youth when I endured tortuous teasing, loneliness, and depression as I clung to the truth in the core of my being that God was REAL, He loved me, and was protecting me. The last one I see now but as I went through life I did not “feel” His protection. That does not make it untrue. When I look back at my life I can see this but “in the moments,” I certainly did not “feel” His protection. “Feelings” are great but cannot be the only indicator of truth. Truth is constant no matter I how I feel and I must remember this.

The next “super-natural” experience that I will give credit to Jesus was when I was approximately 10 years old. I was always scared of what was in the dark at night. (I still have problems on Black Friday when my wife goes out shopping and I have to sleep alone. Now, the problem isn’t enough to force me to go shopping with her…no way!) As a small boy, I would wake up at night and cry out for one of my parents to come sleep with me or let me sleep with them when I was a wee-little-tike. As I grew older though, I was expected to be brave and know there was nothing to be scared of and stay in bed and keep my fat mouth shut! No, my parents never said I had a fat mouth. They didn’t need to as I knew it myself! One night I awoke scared to death, more-so than ever. I literally laid there shaking in my bed. I was on the bottom bunk and my brother was on the top. He too had cut me off from climbing in bed with him when I was scared as by this time I was a tubby-tike, not much room for the two of us in one bunk bed! I remember trying to pray, thinking of something happy, straining my eyes to look around the dark room to see see anything move, and all of the sudden I heard a lion roar above my head and it went through, and over, my whole body. It was like I had been swallowed by this lion. I never understood what this could have meant until years later when I read the Scripture from 1 Peter 5:8, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” I wondered if the devil had eaten me that night? Since I struggled with unwanted SSA for so long I really thought this could be true. It was a lie though. The enemy planted that in me and I believed it. Instead, I had my first encounter with the Lion of Judah, Jesus (See Revelation 5:5) and felt “fear of the Lord.” I now see Isaiah 38:13-20 in this encounter:

“I waited patiently all night, but I was torn apart as though by lions. Suddenly, my life was over. Delirious, I chattered like a swallow or a crane, and then I moaned like a mourning dove. My eyes grew tired of looking to heaven for help. I am in trouble, Lord. Help me!” But what could I say? For he himself had sent this sickness. Now I will walk humbly throughout my years because of this anguish I have felt. Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You have restored my health and have allowed me to live! Yes, it was good for me to suffer this anguish, for you have rescued me from death and have forgiven all my sins. For the dead cannot praise you; they cannot raise their voices in praise. Those who go down to destruction can no longer hope in your faithfulness. Only the living can praise you as I do today. Each generation can make known your faithfulness to the next. Think of it — the LORD has healed me! I will sing his praises with instruments every day of my life in the Temple of the LORD.”

Do I think that God sent the sickness of SSA into my life? Maybe. If He did, is His glory now being seen in my life because He healed me? That would be a yes! Do I accept this as a blessing from God? Absolutely! The struggle I have gone through has brought me into His presence and He has healed me – the pain and suffering was more than worth all the cost to see Him,  to hear His voice, and to feel His healing touch! Yes, I’d go through anything He wants to allow in my life to be closer and closer to Him! I do not “seek” more pain and suffering. Yet, if it is His will, let it be done. He loves me and will never leave me. I sing His praises now and until I can no longer!!

My next encounter with Jesus was in college. I was on a retreat with my girlfriend’s youth group in Colorado. The mountains were beautiful. I’d only been to the mountains once previously. I felt so close to God the first time I was able to see them, to walk on one, when skiing, at night…every minute there. It was the most beauty I had ever been surrounded by in my life. I honestly don’t remember a ton about the retreat except two things: I had a “secret” no one knew, and I wanted intimacy with Jesus. What happened? There was praise and worship time, speakers, quiet time alone, and small group time. One of the times, when in a small group of our youth, we were meeting and we got in a circle to pray. I honestly felt very uncomfortable doing this as I certainly did not want to pray out loud. What would I say? Everyone would think I was a big dork! Well, as it turned out I didn’t have to pray out loud to be a dork to those in the circle. People started praying and the next thing I knew I was crying uncontrollably! Snot was going everywhere and I’m holding hands with two people so I cannot stop it. I was thrilled, overwhelmed, scared, pierced, crushed, built-up…all at once! Now I know it was a move of the Spirit. Then, I had no idea what was happening. I truly felt changed in my core and yet, was confused. No one really said anything afterward. As soon as the prayer was over I dashed to the closest restroom to blow my nose profusely. Later, the youth minister asked me why I was so upset and I didn’t have an answer. I reflected much on this event over the next few years of my life and when I did, there was a peacefulness and a longing inside me for it to happen again. Yes, I’d love for this to happen every day of my life! Maybe if the snot got on people it might be “holy snot” and they’d start to feel the Spirit too?

Skipping forward several years and I am married, we just bought our first house–we were so proud of it! I had a new job with a company doing accounting which I hadn’t done in a few years. I was excited about the job even though I was really hesitant about the work but the owner’s wife assured me she would train me. I knew I could do the work. I got along great with the employees and had some good ideas as I started learning about this company. Really, I was on cloud nine as everything in my life seemed to be great (except my dark secret that no one knew–unwanted SSA) when I went to work one Friday after working there for only six weeks…I was fired. She said she didn’t have the time to train me after-all, I had made a mistake with the balance of the checkbook when transitioning it to a computerized spreadsheet for the first time (had a bad formula so the balance was about $200,000 over actual – what’s the big deal about that?!?!) and was told to leave and they would mail my final paycheck. Really? I was shocked, to say the least!

This sent me into a depression landing me at the bottom of the ocean like the Titanic! I couldn’t believe this would happen to me. I had an impressive college transcript, passed the CPA exam my first sitting, great references, promotions in my previous job I had since college, I worked hard and never called in sick, didn’t do drugs, anything to deserve being fired. I was too immature to see it was just a business decision a small company had to make. Nothing more or less. And, yet again, it turned into a blessing. I filed for unemployment. We were fine financially between my wife’s wages and the unemployment. I should have enjoyed this time and instead I made myself, and everyone else in my life, miserable. The one good thing I did was go deep into reading the Bible, writing journal entries on what I read, and truly seeking to find God through Jesus for the first time in my life.

One night I could not sleep. It was the middle of winter and I was afraid I was keeping my wife up with my tossing and turning so I went to the formal living room to read the Bible and pray, thinking this would bring me some much needed peace. This room was the coldest room of the house and I turned the thermostat very low at night which made the room even more cold. I sat there reading Scripturess, seeking comfort. As I read I prayed the Scriptures. I remembering thinking how the prophets in the Old Testament would fall down on their faces and pray. I thought to myself, “Why not? I’ll do anything necessary to get God hear my prayer” and went face down in the living room floor. I started crying out to God, “Why me? Why did this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this?” I was crying hard going from zero to sixty like no other depressed man had, I’m sure! All of the sudden…in my head…not through my ears…I heard, “I will provide for you.” It was the most calming, soothing, melodic voice I had ever heard. I was practically wailing in prayer crying tears, snot, the full-Monty when this voice spoke into my brain and instantly, bam–I stopped crying. I laid there and the first thought in my head was Scooby-Doo’s “ruh?” and then I started whimpering a little like a baby does after they’ve calmed down and start to cry again, and instantly…”I will provide for you.” This time a warm blanket spread over me and I laid there basking in peace, love, warmth, God’s compassion and comfort like I had never experienced before. It was incredible!!! It was a spiritual orgasm. I hope that does not offend you but that is the best way I know how to describe it. If Heaven is going to be full of those then I certainly won’t want sex there! Just saying.

Later that winter, I decided one evening the next day I would go put in ten applications wherever I could. I instantly was full of dread! I hated filling out applications. I always felt people knew I had been fired from a job and was a horrible person. I had determined I must overcome this fear and depression. The alarm went off early the next morning . My wife got up going into our master bath to get ready for work. The light was visible under the door yet the room was still relatively dark as it was not light outside yet. I instantly was anxious about what I had planned for the day. There was no way I was going back to sleep. So, I took her pillow and put it on top of mine to prop myself up in bed. I have no idea why I did this as I did not turn the light on to start reading the Bible. I just wanted to sit up. I started praying for courage, wisdom on where to put in applications, for God to please go before me, to please help me do what I had decided to do. As I sat there praying my face started to feel warmth like the sun from summer was shining on it alone. I couldn’t pray anymore. All I could do was sit there and bask in the warmth. Tears started flowing down my cheeks. The tenderness of the Lord was touching me in a super-natural way! I put my arms up over my head resting them on the wall. Why? I have no clue. All of a sudden…hands were holding mine and I knew in my heart that an angel, or even Jesus Himself, was holding my hands. My face continued to feel the warmth and I could feel the warmth of the hands, they were slightly squeezing mine, almost like they were pulling me up to Heaven. This went on for several seconds and then slowly went away.
***
Over the next couple years I became very involved in church in many ways. The one way that brought me the most joy was doing dramas or skits selected by the minister to help bring life to the service. Approximately ten people, or so, regularly helped to stage and act in these dramas. I even wrote a few. They were my first stab at writing and I really enjoyed how they were received. We would always pray behind the doors onto the stage before the drama started. This drama included the parents and daughter from one family and myself. We started praying and the air changed as I prayed. It was thicker, electrified, we all could feel it. I remember the mom even made a couple of noises like someone was touching her when we were praying. We did the drama and I don’t remember anything spectacular happening. After the service was over we usually met up and I’d give praises for how it went as I love to encourage people. The mom asked if I “felt” anything different when we prayed and I said I did but didn’t know what it was. We all agreed that there was something very “different.” Now I know it was the Spirit filling the room, and us, as we offered up our drama asking Him to please be with us and to say what we needed to help anyone watching to hear the message of the skit.

This experience happened again toward the end of seminary when I went to an adviser seeking to find out what possibilities there might be for me to pursue with my degree. We spoke for a few minutes and the same thing happened as I just described, only more intense. The air changed feeling thicker, electrified, even a slight smell if I remember correctly. She was talking when she suddenly stopped, looked around the room, and then tried to start talking again but had to stop and said, “We must pray now Carey. The Holy Spirit is here now. I do not know why but I feel Him presence overpowering us, we need to pray.” And she started praying. I remember the feeling like it was yesterday. The words of the prayer? No. Super-natural encounters with God, Jesus, His Spirit, I do not forget!

As my studies in seminary progressed, and opportunities to share my “secret” happened, I was obedient to His gentle prompting, with the greatest of all blessings starting to happen–I began to hear His voice! It is uhmazzzing and, unnerving too, as He asked me to do things that were terrifying! I tell this story in more detail in Part 2 of my story. I had a class where I had to preach a sermon on campus in front of 28 fellow seminarians and the professor. In preparing to deliver this sermon, I asked Jesus while in the shower how this sermon would have the impact He wanted it to have. I truly wanted to tell the Gospel in my message even though the audience would be seminary students (one would hope everyone in this kind of audience would be believers). I clearly heard His response to my question, “Tell your story.” I stopped and let the water run over me. “No way” was my initial response. Then I knew I couldn’t tell Him no. I asked and He answered. I would do it. So I prayed, “Please Lord, give me the courage to do this.” And, He did as He has all along my journey, including this blog. The stories of intimacy in how He talks to me when praying, running, having dinner with my wife, almost anywhere, are “super-natural” to me also. And, this alone grounds me so that I push hard into my daily pursuit of holiness as I want to do nothing that would hinder, or prevent, this from continuing.

My last story to share here, not the last I could tell you though, is one that I will never forget! I gave to my wife for Christmas a Shih Tzu puppy. He was all black and basically a fur ball. He was hilarious! We bonded to him immediately, and he to us. I have always been a huge dog-lover! Some of my earliest memories are of puppies as my parents raised Collies, amazing dogs! We named this puppy, Oliver, and called him Ollie most of the time. Not long after getting him it became obvious he was my dog. He loved my wife but when I came into the room he would bee-line-it to me. He went to bed when I did and got up when I did. When I was home, he was almost always with me. We had him for three years when one night I was on a conference call with two fellow students. We were working on a big project–one of my last for the semester. Ollie came to me with one of his toys wanting to play. I didn’t have time to play right then so I let him out the front door. It was April 1st and the windows were open across the entire house. It was a beautiful evening. We wrapped up the session and were about to finish when I heard a car drive by the house, heard it hit something and instantly a dog yelping. I bolted out the front door to the street and found our Ollie on the side of the road. I gently picked him up and carried him to the light of the front porch. He was laboring to breath and had a tiny trickle of blood from his nose. Otherwise, he appeared to be fine. I knew he had been run over by the car. I cried and cried out to God to please heal him. I had been reading several books on divine healing that semester as I had a huge interest in this topic, for myself and others. So I was praying in any way I could remember these books described how to pray.

As I prayed the lady who had ran Oliver over walked up and told me she had hit him and was so sorry. I felt conflicted as I wanted to be mad at her but knew it was an accident. I told her it was not her fault and that I should have not let him out without being with him. We/I had gotten lazy letting him run the neighborhood instead of walking him on a leash. I went back to praying over Ollie and laid my head on his chest. I could hear his heart beating slower and slower. I had to hold back the tears and sobs so I could hear all the while praying from the center of my being. “Please Lord, not this dog too!” I had the memories of several dogs from childhood that had died from being hit by cars, as well as  old age, etc. and I couldn’t stand this to happen again. We really had not had him very long and to lose him so soon…? All of the sudden, Ollie raised his head and barked three loud, healthy barks and my heart soared! He was going to be fine! Then, he laid his head back down on the grass. I put my head back on his chest saying, “No, no, no, no, please Lord, please Lord” all the time his heart was beating slower and slower until, it stopped. I lost it!

Both my wife and I grieved deeply for Ollie. He brought such joy to our family since our daughters were grown, married, with their own children. We hadn’t had a dog for a few years as our last dog died of cancer when we lived in Florida. After Ollie passed, every night I went to bed and cried myself to sleep for two weeks. Ollie always went to bed with me and when my wife came to bed she would shoo him to the foot of the bed. Going to bed alone without him was the worst!

On the night of the fourteenth day after Ollie passed I went to bed and the tears started. It wasn’t only Ollie I was grieving. For some reason, every person close to me who had passed was on my heart: all my grandparents, my older brother who was killed in a car wreck ten days after I graduated high school, a close friend–an elder in our church–who died from cancer at age 48 a few years earlier, and other people would come to my mind as the tears flowed each night (I cried off and on all day too! I am a true “Sister-Sally!) and this night I felt like I could not take it any more. I prayed, “Lord, I know You are real. I am hurting so deeply for so many people and Ollie. You have touched me in super-natural ways before and I’d really like a special touch from you again. I really need You, Jesus.” The prayer trailed off as I fell to sleep.

I awoke at 2:58 am needing to go the the bathroom. I hate to get up during the night to pee so I laid there trying to force myself to go back to sleep. Soon, I knew it was useless and got up to go. As I went, I could feel my body waking up which was causing me to be alarmed. I had a crazy-busy day ahead of me and I needed sleep. If I woke up too much I knew I’d not go back to sleep for some time. I went back to bed. My wife had her back to me facing the opposite side of the room. I curled up on my side almost spooning her–knowing not to as she’d wake up and turn into Linda Blare–not pretty at all! This position wasn’t doing it so I rolled over hugging my pillow half on my left side but almost laying on my stomach (yes, I sleep in very strange positions!). I looked at the clock on the dresser and it was 3:11 am. I had been awake long enough that I really was concerned about sleep continuing and almost got up. I decided I would lay there for a little longer trying to go back to sleep. As I relaxed, still very awake though, I felt a hand on the center of my back from my side of the bed. No one else was in the house with us. This hand was warm with a comforting amount of pressure and I instantly thought of my prayer. I absolutely KNEW whose hand this was…Jesus! I laid there thinking, “Oh, the God of the universe is answering my prayer and is touching me…right now! This all happened very fast. My heart started to race, I knew this was His left hand and He was looking down at me as He stood beside me! I cringed a little and made a slight squeal, like a pig I think, and the hand was gone! I then started to cry as the last thing I wanted was for Him to remove His hand from me! My mind was racing and at the same time, filling with peace. Tears started to escape from my eyes as His peace permeated my being. “I had been touched by Jesus.” My body relaxed without me even having to try–there is no way I could have stopped this. I fell slowly to sleep with a new, deeper understanding how REAL Jesus is and how much He loves me to answer my prayer in such a profound way!

There are more stories to tell, but not here as this post is too long already. I know, with no doubts whatsoever, He will move in my life again in “super-natural” ways. If He doesn’t, I am great with all the ways He has revealed Himself to me. His Word is true and more than enough for me to know I can trust Him to be my Lord and Savior! These stories here–plunge my faith to “super-natural” levels that NO ONE can take away from me. You can scoff, doubt, confirm with your own stories, and be envious that these have not happened to you…yet! I’d be envious of stories like these as when I do read about stories similar to mine, I am envious! I always want more and more of Jesus!!

I know Jesus will do whatever He deems to help us grow in our faith. Does He do this for everyone? I don’t know. I’ve told these stories a few times when I thought it would encourage someone who was struggling in their faith. I tell these here and now to help you know God is REAL and Jesus loves you more then you could ever understand.

Since He is REAL…He can heal you too! Of illness or issue you need healing: physical, mental, spiritual, financial, ANYTHING.

“So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” Hebrews 11:6, NLT His rewards can be whatever He deems we need. I am very thankful He has decided to super-naturally reach into my life is ways that defy natural laws to ground my faith and to know how very, VERY REAL He is!

I pray He will touch you in a super-natural way that will increase your faith and cause you to know without any doubt how REAL He is and how much He loves you.

For me, it is an absolute necessity to know God is REAL, He loves me, and wants to bless me in many, many ways with the greatest being healing me of unwanted SSA/homosexual desires. If He did this in my life…He can heal you of whatever you desire healing from also. Will He? I know we are told to ask and we will receive, see John 16:24.

 

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