What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, September 28, 2017


There’s a lot of stuff going on in my life these days: doctors’ appointments, regular appointments, engagement party, trips to and from Kalamazoo to see one daughter, volunteer work, preparing healthy meals, communicating with my husband, listening to my daughters and son, and more. Those things could easily grab my attention and hold my attention. I don’t need to plan to do them; they just happen.
However, there are more important things, things I could easily put off as not urgent in my life. Only God would know if I didn’t do these important things. My relationship with God would suffer greatly if I didn’t do my morning routine things, but would anyone else even know? I can fool myself into thinking that I’m not hurting anyone if I let the routine of meeting with God daily slide for a few days. The reality is something altogether different. I would be grieving the Holy Spirit and causing myself much suffering – mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Ignoring this aspect of my life would eventually affect all my relationships and efforts towards joyful living.
I need to continue to resolve each morning, each time I falter, each night that I will be about God’s work. That starts with daily Bible reading, praise and prayer. It continues with sharing Jesus wherever and whenever I can. It also means loving unconditionally as God loves us – even sacrificing my life to help others if that became necessary. More often I don’t have to sacrifice to the point of death. It means putting the needs and concerns of others ahead of my own. And I can only love and serve that way if I’m in regular, intimate, contact with God.
Daniel resolved to follow God no matter what (Daniel 1:8). Different translations of the Bible use different words to describe Daniel’s mindset as he was made a captive of a foreign culture and kings. “Made up his mind” (NASB). “Was determined” (NLT). “Resolved” (NIV). “Purposed in his heart” (KJV). One commentator (Fronczak, p 22) explained it this way: “a strong word that means to be devoted to principle and to be committed to a course of action.” That’s a challenge to me today. It’s great (and beneficial) to have strong intellectual convictions, but if I don’t act on those convictions, I’m not really resolved. I can give a nod to the concepts of daily reading the Scriptures, Bible study, Scripture memory, frequent prayer, regular praise, Christian fellowship, serving others, and sharing Christ wherever possible BUT unless I do something about each of those things, my agreement means nothing. “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves (James 1:22 NLT).”

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Intimacy With God: Meeting a Need in My Life

Over the last 12 weeks or so, I’ve been sharing with you about the insights I’ve gotten from doing the Intimacy With God Bible study, by Cynthia Heald. I shared how my intimacy with God has grown and changed during this time (and hope continuing on from here). I can now say that my intellectual attachment to God has grown. That was always my strong suit before, and now it’s stronger. I rarely felt emotionally connected to God, but that has changed. As a result, I’m more able to see God at work in all areas of my life. I encourage everyone to develop both sides of their intimacy with God, and if you need help, invest your time and resources to studying Intimacy With God, by Cynthia Heald.
In writing my blog articles about intimacy with God, I mentioned several times how these concepts were helping me deal with the struggles in my life, as they were happening. What I didn’t tell you was what those struggles were about. I realize I’ve mentioned some of my various struggles in the past: mental illness, alcoholism, insulin-dependent diabetes, general fears, and various anxieties. However, since March, I’ve been dealing with something new: CANCER.
Follicular Lymphoma Grade IIIa, to be exact. I noticed a lump in/on my neck in late February and, after some urging from my therapist, I made an appointment to see my doctor. He thought it was “strange” also and referred me to a Ears, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist. After a couple of needle biopsies and a CT Scan (and lots of waiting in between each procedure), it was decided that in order to get an accurate diagnosis, some surgery was needed (on my left neck area where the lump was) to remove as much of the tissue as possible from which more biopsies could be done. That surgery happened on May 31st. It took almost two weeks to get any results from that, but when all was said and done, it was cancer.
I was referred to Oncology (Cancer Center) and after waiting some more, and seeing a doctor there, more tests were ordered, after which there was more waiting. Those tests revealed that the cancer, as far as they could tell, was not systemic and, therefore, Stage One. The course of action would be radiation treatments. So I was referred to a Radiology Oncologist. After a few more procedures and tests and scans, a protocol was set up for my treatment and I began treatments on July 31st. I went every weekday through September 6th for about 10 minutes of treatment. I was able to schedule the treatments for early afternoon each day and kept my usual morning routines as much as possible.
Now that stage of my treatment is over. However, I’m finding I need even more intimacy with God to deal with the “surveillance” stage, where there’s more waiting to see if the cancer is gone, shrunk, whatever. There are more CT Scans in my future, but right now I’m just in a waiting and trusting mode. Trusting God has become easier since I’ve been getting to know Him better through greater intimacy. As I said in my last blog article, I’m continuing to do several important things for depending on God, in all His greatness, as I draw closer to Him.
Maybe that’s why He didn’t urge me to tell more people about this. He wanted me to trust Him and lean on Him. On Him alone. Not on the prayers of others. Not on the sympathy of others. Just on Him alone. I think He led my Bible study partner and me to this study just so I could enhance my walk with Him and grow closer to Him. I’m going to continue looking for examples of Jesus’ intimacy with us and I’m going to continue to work on deepening my intimacy with Him. I’m seeing it everywhere now. Like in Psalm 5:3, I will turn to Him each and every day and order my life around my trust in Him. That verse says (I quoted it last week, too):
In the morning, O Lord,
            Thou wilt hear my voice;
In the morning I will order my prayer to Thee
             and eagerly watch.
Yes! In the morning. But also throughout the day as I review and memorize Scripture, study His Word, and spend time devoted to praising Him. And, sharing as much of Him as is possible with those who need to know Him better.
What can you do to grow more intimate with God? That is my challenge to you today!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

A Life of Deepening Intimacy

This week I finished the Bible study book on the topic of intimacy with God. It took all summer (12 weeks) to get to this point. However, I do not want my interest and commitment to intimacy with God to wane. I want to maintain a renewed deeper intimacy with God that this study has given me, and I want to go even deeper in feeling, knowing, and studying God’s presence in my life.
There are a few ways I intend to further enhance my connection to God: digging deeper into His Word, praising Him daily, and keep memorizing Scripture (and keep reviewing the ones I have memorized). In the conclusion of the Bible study one of the questions was, “Take some time now to reflect on your understanding and experience of intimacy as it has developed through this study. How will the insights you have gained in this study help you grow in your intimacy with God?” I thought and prayed about my response, and several things kept coming up. This is what I wrote:
This study has renewed my fervor for God . . . through Scripture memory and renewed commitment to praise. [These two things] keep me focused on God and His awesome, unique impact on this world and in my life. Only He is worthy of my dedication and devotion. Only He is caring for me in ways I cannot even imagine. Only He is worthy of praise. He has drawn me into intimacy with Him in new ways and restored my commitments to study His Word and proclaim Him whenever possible. He is opening my eyes to new (and/or previously existing) opportunities to love on and share with people who do not yet know Him. It flows out of intimacy with Him.
One of the psalms looked at this week was Psalm 5. I really like vs. 3 in the NIV:
In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice;
            in the morning I lay my requests before you
            and wait in expectation.
In the NASB the last line says, “In the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch.” Waiting in expectation and eagerly watching result when we trust totally in God to answer our prayers and bring about in our lives exactly what we need in order to live joyous and free lives. It reminds me of the prophetess and prophet in the temple on the day Jesus was presented there. They were eagerly watching and waiting for the Messiah’s coming. I should also be eagerly and expectantly looking for the return of Christ, however, I should also be eagerly looking and noticing God’s works in my current life. Maintaining intimacy with God motivates me to be looking with expectancy and hope. I’ve been able to see His hand in my life more readily since beginning this study. I want that to continue so I will continue to study His Word, praise Him daily, and memorize (treasure) His Word in my heart by memorization.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Expression of Intimacy: Praise

I love praising God. For a while, in the first 5-6 years of my Christian life, I praised God every day for at least five minutes. This came about because of an application I made from a seminar I went to with the woman who led me to Christ. I don’t remember a whole lot from that seminar (probably in 1979), but I remember the application. The speaker challenged us to pledge specific vows to God, and be amazed at His help at keeping the vows. I vowed to praise God for five minutes every day, early in the day. For many years, day in and day out, the Holy Spirit reminded me of my vow when I (almost) forgot about it on some days. Before I could close my eyes at night, the Holy Spirit would say to me, “Where’s today’s praising?” I would sit up in bed, thank God for His faithfulness in helping me to remember, and complete my five minutes for the day.
It was more than a habit. Some days it was what tied me to reality and truth in my messed up mind. Some days it brought me great joy and assurance. Some days it drew me closer to a fellow Christian as I asked them to praise with me. I truly believe doing it, wholeheartedly, kept me from falling off the deep end of depression or soaring to the psychotic stages of mania. I didn’t know I had a mental illness back then so there were no doctor-prescribed meds to keep me stable. I’m not saying I was “stable” during those years; I’m saying that things could’ve been much, much worse, either lows or highs. It was my source of hope when all else seemed to be hopeless.
I’m not sure why or when I stopped doing it. I do know that if I had kept it up, my journey into insanity might have taken a different route. I wish I had kept it up, but I didn’t. Over the years, I’ve thought about that vow and made attempts to start doing it again, but did not have a lasting practice of doing it. In my Bible study this week on Intimacy with God by Cynthia Heald, the topic was how praise is the expression of the intimacy we have with God. The greater our intimacy the more frequent our praise. I was convicted again about doing the praise daily; however, this time I’m renewing my vow to God and trusting the Holy Spirit to remind me daily to follow through on keeping it. In order to hold myself accountable, I decided I will write the praises out in a journal.
Scripture supports the concept of praising God frequently. Psalm 89:15 in the NIV says, “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord.” I’ve experienced many blessings because I learned and practiced giving God acclaim. Acclaim’s definition is to “praise enthusiastically and publicly.” Synonyms include “praise, applaud, cheer, commend, approve, compliment, celebrate, rave about, exalt, extol, and honor.” If we consider God’s character, it becomes easier and easier to acclaim Him, and that comes about by growing in intimacy with Him.
One of the best ways to begin praising God is to pray back to Him Scripture, especially some of the Psalms. I decided to memorize Psalm 150:1-2 because in those verses I am given plenty for which to praise God:
Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
Praise Him for His mighty deeds,
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.