Pre-Existing Condition

 

pre-existing condition

While my husband and I were still dating, I experienced the crushing loss of my older brother—he was only 35. My brother and I both suffered from the same medical condition known as familial adenomatous polyposis. The mere fact that I inherited it means there is a 50% chance that I will pass the same condition on to my children. If gone untreated, FAP invariably becomes a high risk factor of colon cancer during the adult years. So at age 19, my brother had most of his colon surgically removed. Unfortunately, the procedure was not fail safe. In his early 30’s, my dear brother was diagnosed with colon cancer, and it eventually got the best of him. My husband understood the seriousness of my condition prior to our engagement, yet he married me regardless. Because he loves me.

I thought about this one day and felt exceedingly grateful for my husband. He looked past my condition and chose to spend his life with me. I would consider myself to be sort of “high risk”. Not only with the cost of medical bills from frequent check-ups, but also the chance of what could happen with our children. High risk for sure, yet he chose me. And then I began to think of the risk Jesus Christ took when choosing to be my Savior. I mean, I was born with a pre-existing condition, one that goes deeper than any physical condition could ever reach—a condition called sin. We were all born into it, and there is a 100% chance that our children will be born into it.

It is in our nature to sin, and sin separates us from God. It’s pre-existing and perpetual. And if not treated, it’s deadly. We are all considered “high risk”. It’s in our nature to turn away from God in our sin, and yet, Jesus wants a relationship with us anyway. So much so that He established a new covenant with us through His death, burial, and resurrection. Ephesians 2:3-5 says, “3Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh,fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath,even as others. 4But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love where with he loved us, 5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)”. Jesus understood the magnitude of our sin, prior to purchasing us by His own blood, yet He offered Himself regardless. “Why?” you may ask…because He loves us.

love, covenant

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unseen danger

If you don’t mind, I would like to take a trip down memory lane – and oh what a trip this was. One clear autumn evening, while driving to class, I passed a large vehicle on the highway. I didn’t think twice about it, other than to notice that it was a classic tractor trailer. Mere moments later, a car in front of me abruptly slammed on its brakes, immediately triggering me to do the same. I happened to peek into my rear view mirror and noticed the tractor trailer that I passed a few miles ago approaching my vehicle rather quickly. I then heard the squawking of its hefty brakes and watched as the rear of the truck began to fishtail with the grace of an elephant on skates. In no time at all, the truck’s cab was right beside me on the shoulder. There was nothing I could do. It all happened so quickly, yet at this moment life seemed to move in slow motion. I knew that I would be seriously injured, if not killed, once the truck finally hit me. I could feel the rapid pounding of my heart and suddenly…traffic began to flow and I was able to drive out of harm’s way, unscathed, as though nothing had happened.

In all actuality, “nothing” had happened. Something major “could” have happened, like a tractor trailer crashing into me causing a major multi-car pileup. But it didn’t. Had I not taken that glance into my rearview, I probably would never have even known that I was in imminent danger. This caused me to take a close examination of my life and ponder on the many unseen dangerous circumstances that God blocked and protected me from. I could only thank Him, so when I reached school safely I bowed my head in humility and worshipped Him for His protection; protection from both seen and unseen danger.

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Have you ever been in a life-threatening situation and then, just like that….nothing? You’ve just experienced God’s protection. We can all probably recall one or more similar experiences. Knowing that God protects us from seen dangers, we can only imagine His protection from the unseen. Psalm 121:5-7 says “5 The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. 6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.8 The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.” This passage in Psalm describes the Lord’s protection from dangers of all kinds. In Hebrew literature, a way of expressing totality was by naming a pair of opposites (“sun” and “moon” or “day” and “night”) to include everything between (see also Psalm 91:5-6)i. “The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night,” then, describes God’s protection from dangers we see (during the day) and those we don’t see (during the night).

So let’s take a moment to pause from life’s crazy demands and thank the Holy Spirit for His faithful and continued protection.
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i. http://www.bibleteachingnotes.com/templates/System/details.asp?id=29183&fetch=8457

 

Finding Your Altar

So what does it really mean to have an altar?

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Lest you find me vague, let me give you a back story. After enduring a tumultuous and stressful couple of weeks, I laid in bed one day talking to God. I began by giving Him every excuse in the book that I could find as to why I refused to seek Him to relieve my pain and move on with my life. My main excuse was that I wished I could just run to an altar, kneel down, and with tearful repentance of my pride and stubbornness, cast all my burdens on Him. But I could not do so because my husband and I had not yet found a church home, meaning I have no such altar. And then the Holy Spirit gently reminded me that I actually have the freedom to do all this, and more, because of Jesus Christ.

Jesus sacrificed His life to give us the opportunity to have a relationship with God (2 Corinthians 5:14-21). We no longer have to wait for a priest to enter the Holy of Holies once a year and offer burnt sacrifice to the Lord on our behalf (2 Chronicles 29:19-29, Hebrews 2:17). We no longer fear condemnation or execution for being imperfect, unclean creatures in the presence of the Almighty. We may freely enter His presence just the way we are, at any time or place, because of our relationship with Jesus Christ. And that’s a wonderful thing.

We have the now. We need not wait for ideal conditions. While a church home is important, I don’t have to wait until I find the perfect church with a perfect altar. I can kneel at my bedside, or walk around in my living room, or sit in a parked car. If I truly am a child of God and have a relationship with Him, my altar is portable. It walks with me. It’s a part of me. So I no longer have any excuses.

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So, where is your altar?

 

Potter & Clay Part 1: I AM CLAY

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Gen. 2:7) I AM CLAY. ‘What is clay?’ you may ask. By definition it is earth or mud. I am simply earth or mud, lifeless, until God sees fit to breathe into my nostrils and make me “alive”. And when He removes His breath of life, I return again to dust. clay

O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? Saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.” (Jer. 18:6) God is my potter. He has the ability to shape and mold me in His hands (Jer. 18:2-4), and He has the power to allow defects or reshape me. But this I have learned – my willingness to allow God to form me into what is good in His eyes determines my outcome.

The story of the potter and the clay is what I would call a “perfect allegory”. Especially once we compare the spiritual implications of the narrative to the actual steps of making pottery. Since the last time I cast a mold was way back in elementary school, I spent some time researching the steps of pottery-making and learned a few things. First, pottery is simply “clay hardened by fire.” Second, the only two ingredients necessary for making pottery are clay and water. This gives the water a conspicuously crucial role in molding the clay. In the Scriptures we see water being depicted as the Word of God (Eph 5:26), which was God (John 1:1), and the Word becoming flesh (John 1:14a), which is Jesus (John 1:14b). It is no surprise, then, that God would use the symbolism of water to indicate the need for spiritual molding that happens only by virtue of His Son.

Matthew 4:4 reads, “But he answered and said, it is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Given what we already see about water, this says to me that in order to become what He desires, we should immerse ourselves in the word of God. If you don’t know where to start in your Bible study, I recommend you view this video for suggestions or really research some of the scriptures in this article. Similar to new year cleaning, it is important to allow God’s word to prick your heart and cause repentance for God to begin to shape and mold you into a vessel that is good in His eyes…potternclay

Part 2 of Potter & Clay coming soon

new year cleaning

The New Year is a popular time for ritual or tradition – one of which is new year cleaning. I don’t know if there is an “official” name for this, but many people find it necessary to give their home a good cleaning prior to the new year’s arrival believing that this will determine the condition of the home throughout the upcoming year. Although I do not hold that particular belief as Gospel, I did get the chance to do some deep cleaning during my holiday break from work. As I labored to purge the refrigerator, God brought the spiritual implications of deep cleaning to my attention, and, needless to say, my heart was pricked. The experience inspired me to focus this blog post not so much on the tradition of new year cleaning, but the analogy of cleaning out the refrigerator to the necessary deep cleaning of our hearts.

Tell me if this sounds familiar: you go out grocery shopping, return home to put the groceries away, and find there is little to no room to put the perishable items (which is alarming because we go grocery shopping to replenish our food)! That is usually about when I realize it is time to clean out the fridge. If you’ve had this experience, then you know how strenuous a task it is. The tedious part is first removing all of the old refrigerated items before we can even begin to actually “clean.” This can be a daunting task but it must be done in order to first see what we have lurking in the cracks and crevices, then scrub the inside. This type of cleaning is called “deep cleaning” because it focuses on more than the cosmetic aspect; it takes some time plus serious elbow grease.

During this deep cleaning, the Psalm “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right sprit within me” (Psalm 51:10) came to mind. I pondered deeply on the spiritual implications of the task at hand. I looked at the empty belly of the fridge, door ajar, scouring pad in my right hand, cleaning solution in my left, and realized: God works on us from the inside out. We will never truly change unless we have a change of heart. The way it happens is as simple and similar as with the refrigerator – it is not going to clean itself, rather it is dependent on someone taking the time to remove all the “stuff” and scrub it from the inside out. Putting things back happens afterward, but then carefully to only include the items that are good.

David knew that it’s the inward part of man that matters, the heart. He wrote in Psalm 51:6-7 “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” When going through a change of the heart, we must allow God to throw away the rotten to allow space for the good. But how can we do this unless we allow God to clean us out? We must submit to God and allow him to show us the deep, dark, hidden truth of what is in our hearts in order to rid ourselves of it.

I understand that this is not an easy proposition; opening yourself up and letting God work on your heart. There may be things residing inside of you that you had no idea were there but are truly stifling your walk with God. Maybe an old grudge or anger from losing a loved one. These types of things have a devastating effect on your daily life. Once you see it, you have to allow God to throw it away or it will only come to rot. Yes, it may hurt to let things go that you may have held so close to your heart for a long time but there is such freedom in the yielding. You will experience “the joy of salvation,” as David put it. Bear in mind that your future is dependent upon your now, so don’t allow the junk of this life to dictate your tomorrow. Allow God to give you a good deep cleaning.

What’s in your fridge?fridge

new traditions

The approaching Christmas season calls for an unavoidable trip down memory lane. As the Gameboy of yesteryear is replaced by the laptop perched above my knees, I am remembering specific things about the holidays such as family, food, and fun. I recall the excitement I experienced as a child anticipating opening presents and spending good quality time with my family. Along with my early thirties, life has brought about a few changes; I am now married, living in a different city, and many of my closest relatives have passed. Because of this, holidays have come to include a time of sadness where laughs are replaced with tears.

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Although I do miss the traditions I’ve had the privilege of experiencing throughout my childhood and adolescence, I am determined this year to view the holiday season in a Better light. I have been blessed in the past and I am blessed in the present. I have a wonderful husband to share my life with and I’ve decided to create new traditions with him instead of allowing the unbridled wind of change to continue hampering my holiday seasons like MomMom’s Thanksgiving night girdle. No, this year we decided to decorate our apartment as a couple to invite just a bit more of the Christmas feeling – and I will still have the opportunity to visit family back home sometime during Christmas break.

I know there are many people out there who’ve experienced some kind of change that may have disrupted their usual holiday ritual and is now a source of pain or stress. Whether due to a change of demographic or loss of a loved one, it is difficult to enjoy the holiday season the way you have in the past. I simply cheer for you to embark on a different path this season. Instead of isolation and depression, I encourage you to make new holiday traditions. MomMom would be proud.

So, what new traditions will you include in your holiday season?Image