Thursday, June 06, 2013



I have to admit that while going about the everyday chores of preparing supper and doing laundry this evening I barely noticed the clouds that began covering the sky until all of a sudden I lifted my head and realized that the house seemed a whole lot darker. When I looked out the window I immediately thought to myself, ‘Oh boy, where did that come from?’ In that same moment, flashes of lightning began to streak across the sky accompanied by loud claps of thunder – and a few seconds later, the rain began to fall. Not those little droplets that come with a sun shower; no, these were the hard torrential kind, the ones that make you soaking wet just running from your house to the car and vice versa.

There is something about those powerful displays of nature that make me stop for a moment and consider the awesome majesty of God. How he can speak the words that cause the rains to fall and thunder roll; how the mountains seem to reach the sky and the oceans meet the horizon, and then how the same God that put all of these into place is moved with the infirmities that wound our hearts and pierce our souls and will speak peace into the storms of our lives.

As I was pondering those thoughts this evening, in the middle of our rainstorm, I was struck with the words of the song that say:

When I pause in the hush of His holy presence
When I’m so still I can hear each whispered word
When I pause to pray, I enter His cathedral
These are the times, when God seems so near

 Of course, He doesn’t always seem near to us, does he? In fact, the verse of this song also says:

There are times when I cannot feel His presence
When the clouds of doubt obscure the Master’s smile
But when I’m still enough to hear His gentle whisper
Then I know my Lord has been there all the while
It’s a funny thing about storms, often times - especially in life - they come when we are least expecting them. We seem to be going about our everyday lives when all of a sudden the winds pick up, then the clouds blow in, and before we know it we find ourselves in the middle of a torrential rain storm. It could be any manner of circumstances really – sickness, death, relationships, finances – any number of things could put us in the midst of a storm that clouds our vision and causes our view of the Master to suddenly become obscured. It is in these moments that we so often ask the question – where is God?

Last summer I heard a message entitled “When God is Inattentive”. In it, the Pastor discussed the impact that storms so often have on our lives, our faith, and our view of God. One of his key points was that when we feel that God is being inattentive, uncooperative or late we begin to believe that “If God is SILENT, He must be ABSENT”. However, that is very much not the case.

In Mark 4 Jesus’ disciples find themselves in a boat with their Master, when all of a sudden “there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up” (v. 37, NIV)

Imagine  – Jesus ‘chosen’ ones, in a boat with this man whom they had taken for the Messiah, and it looks as though they are about to drown. I picture them trying to hold the boat against the winds, perhaps someone trying to bail the water out as it is pouring in over the sides, and looking at each other in shock and disbelief as Jesus sleeps soundly on a cushion in the stern of the boat. I can imagine myself in this situation and I am pretty sure that I would NOT be impressed. No wonder they called out to Him and said “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (v. 38, NIV)

Have you ever been able to relate to these disciples? Ever been in a storm and wondering “Do you even care that I am perishing?”

The disciples were obeying God when they landed themselves in the midst of their storm. In fact, they were in the boat with Jesus, the safest place they ever could have been. So why did they question him? I mean really, they had seen Him perform miracles, it’s not like they didn’t KNOW He could help them – He was just choosing not to, he was being ‘inattentive’. And if He didn’t soon wake up He was going to be too late.

It’s a funny thing about positioning. We learn in high school that the sun is 400 times bigger than the moon, and yet the moon is able to totally block our view of the sun, not by its size but by its position. Although the disciples knew that Jesus was able to calm the storm, their view of Jesus was blocked by the circumstances that they were in. They allowed their blaring circumstances to hide the truth they knew about Jesus.  

But Jesus had not changed, despite the raging storm, despite the winds and the water pouring in over the sides, He was still in control. And in a moment’s time He spoke and “rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still’ and the wind died down and it became perfectly calm” (v. 39, NIV)

I don’t believe for a second that Jesus was being inattentive, I believe he was waiting for the call of his beloved, for the opportunity to show himself to them in a real and powerful way. Jesus knew the storm was coming before they got in the boat. He could have prevented it from ever happening at all, but if the storm hadn’t come, they would never have seen him speak to the waves and calm it. And in the words of Pastor Darren Herbold “A raging torrential storm did not wake Him, but the desperate cry of one of his own did”.

Storms are never pleasant, they do instill a fear sometimes, and they do shake our faith – mine for sure. But hopefully we can learn from the disciples and call out to the one who is able to rebuke the winds, tell the waves to be still and turn a raging storm into a perfect calm, and when He does we can say to one another with a new appreciation for who He is, “What a mighty God we serve, that even the winds and the sea obey Him”.  And we can know 'our Lord has been there all the while'.

Praying for you as you ride out your storm…


Saturday, March 30, 2013

It's Saturday, and you don't know Sunday's Coming!

I sit here in the wee hours of Easter Saturday morning, awakened from my sleep and unable to return because of the thoughts that dropped into my head at yesterday morning's Good Friday service.

I love the Christmas season, with it's message of peace and love and new hope, but there is something about Easter that as a just stirs in me a sense of overwhelming gratitude for the price that was paid for me on that ancient day at Calvary.

As I sat in yesterday's Good Friday service and drank in the worship, the songs telling of a Christ who was crucified at Calvary and rose again on the third day, the thought came to me...we never talk about Saturday! I wonder why that is? Then just as quickly the answer came...Friday we celebrate his crucifixion, Sunday we celebrate his resurrection...but the only thing between Friday and Sunday is the waiting and the mourning, and what celebration is in that??

Living on this side of the Easter story, I believe it is quite easy for us to rush from Friday to Sunday without grasping what those early Christians must have endured in that period of time between Christ's death and resurrection. Imagine what it was like for them knowing that their Lord, their Saviour, the one who had cast out demons, healed their sick, and given them hope... was gone!!

What was left? What did it mean?

Life as they had known it was dead, and they had nothing left to live for anymore. Everything they had ever put their faith in had vanished in the time it had taken Him to speak the words "It is Finished".

I can imagine the celebration that began in the realms of darkness when Christ breathed His final breath. In that moment, the one that held the greatest threat had been conquered, defeated, DEAD! As Phillip Yancey*** puts it, "The snake of Genesis had struck at the heel of God, the dragon of Revelation had devoured the child at last. God's son, sent to earth on a rescue mission, had ended up dangling from a cross like some ragged scarecrow. Oh what a diabolical victory"

But my friends, that is not where the story ended. As Yancey goes on to say "Oh what a short-lived victory. In the most ironic twist of history, what Satan meant for evil, God meant for good. Jesus death on the cross bridged the gap between a perfect God and a fatally flawed humanity."

Have you ever been watching a really good movie - perhaps a suspenseful drama - when someone comes along and tells you what happens at the ending? Somehow it takes away the effect that I'm sure the producers spent millions of dollars trying to have on the watcher! Of course, when the story happens to be our lives, we would love if someone would come along and tell us how it's all going to end. My good friend has said so many times "I wish sometimes that God would just send me an email and let me know how this is all going to play out!"

Can anyone relate?!? I know I can.

I can only imagine that those who loved Jesus and had followed him throughout the life of his ministry would have loved to have known on Friday what would be happening on Sunday. But the truth of the matter was that they did not and Saturday was a very real day for them. They didn't know he was coming back, they didn't know he needed to die in order for them to truly live, they didn't know the divine plan that laid behind the reality they were living out on Saturday.

I guess that's why Saturday doesn't get much attention, I mean why would it really, all it held was "heartache and defeat".

But here is the beauty of Saturday my friends. The greatest act of history was carried out behind the scenes of the doom and darkness that was lived out on Easter Saturday. While the disciples mourned behind locked doors, and the women held each other in tears and desolation, Jesus Christ was working his greatest miracle of all. In death, life had only just begun.

We as humans rarely want to remember the suffering in between Friday and Sunday but Phillip Yancey says "In a real sense, we live out our lives on Saturday, the day with no name". 

My life has had a lot of Saturdays. Those periods of time that I look back on with shuddering as I recall the mourning, the darkness, the hopelessness. But thank God as Yancey puts it - Friday was made good because of what happened on Sunday!  He says that "the disciples who lived through both days, Friday and Sunday, never doubted God again. They had learned that when God seems most absent he may be closest of all, When God looks most powerless he may be more powerful, when God looks most dead he may be coming back to life".

What day of the week is it for you my friend? If you are living out your Saturday I am here to tell you that "Weeping may last for the night, but JOY comes in the morning!" (Psalm 30:5) and Sunday is on it's way! I know, right now it is hard - and it looks as though there is no hope in sight. But while you are weeping in the darkness, God is working out the details of your situation. And what the enemy has meant for evil in your life, God has meant for good. Sunday is coming, keep holding on to the promises, and as the words of one of my favorite songs says "He'll soon be here, He'll roll back the stone, and He'll call out your name!"

Love this song by Guy Penrod - "Death had lost, and life had won, for Morning had come!"

 Praying for strength as you wait for your morning!
Happy Easter!
Tammy JOY
***Phillip Yancey - The Jesus I Never Knew - pgs. 273-275

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Starting Over...Again!!

In 2009 my life was plunged into the greatest pit of despair that I had ever imagined I might face. At that time, I went through all manner of emotional lows that one goes through in such situations. I became angry with God, I walked away from him, I asked myself why I ever believed in the things that I had all my life. I dabbled in the things of the world, and in the end I found myself emptier than I had ever been in my life. At that time I realized that God was not the source of my problems, and that even through my anger and bitterness with Him, He had walked beside me, and was ready and waiting with open arms to bring me back to Him.

Upon surrendering my life back to His will, I walked through a journey of healing and restoration, and am so thankful for the friends and family that God placed in my path to help me through those difficult days. They were not pretty, and only those that walked with me can truly relate to the ugliness that was my reality during that time. 

After 2 1/2 years, this past May I decided to take the plunge and move on to what I believed was newer and better things for my life. A fresh start, a new day. I took a step of faith and moved along with my family to a new city, a new job, a new life. 

I guess I did this with some amount of naivety with regards to the challenges that I would face with this change. I think I believed that in making the move everything in my life would then fall together and I would just have to simply follow the yellow brick road that God had laid before me. I entered this city believing that finally I had arrived. 

Boy was I ever WRONG!!

Since making this move, I cannot even begin to tell you the challenges that I have faced. It seems that day after day there is one thing after another. I sit sometimes and wonder - "God, where in the world are you in this?? What is UP?? This is not how this was supposed to be!!". 

In July I started to blog from a book by Beth Moore entitled Believing God. In it Beth outlines a challenge for trusting in God to take you from the place that you are currently in to your Promised Land, all based upon holding up the shield of faith against the fiery darts of the enemy. Thinking at the time that I had already found my Promised Land, I very eagerly started to write. I made it through three weeks of writing and then absolutely FROZE!! You see, things began falling apart and my own shield became so heavy. In that moment the enemy took full advantage of my weakness, and came in with an attack that has taken me right off my fighting feet and landed me flat on my face. I mean, how could I minister to others about faith and claiming your victory when here I was living in defeat. 

My next week of writing was supposed to be on a truth that the enemy has thrown up at me so many times, and I just could not bring myself to believe it enough to write the words for others to see. Given my own feelings about myself and the struggles in my life that I was facing at the time, there was no way that I could write. And so I didn't, instead I pulled the covers over my head and allowed the enemy to fire his darts at me one after the other. 

Doesn't that seem easier sometimes? Does anyone else ever get feeling that they just don't have the energy to fight anymore? I know that I am not the only one. In Psalm 55 v6, David says "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest" (NASB). Can anybody relate?? 

David knew, however, where to find his strength. In Psalm 57 v1 he says "Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For my soul takes refuge in you; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge. Until destruction passes by." (NASB). How grateful I am that no matter what the circumstances and no matter how long I wait, trying to find my own way out of my destruction, He is always there waiting for me. And that I can find rest in the shadow of His Almighty wings. 

 So what was the next truth I was supposed to write about? "I am who God says I am" - what a challenge for me. I cannot even begin to tell you how the enemy has had a field day with this truth for me. And in complete honesty, it is still a daily struggle, to believe that I am not the person that I believe I am, or that Satan tells me I am, but that I am the woman that God says I am, a new creation in him. 

In her book, Beth has a lot to say about this truth, and it seems that it is something that as believers we all struggle with. My struggle with writing this has been feeling that I had to answer for all of the things that I am or am not as a person, a woman, a christian, in order to feel qualified to even touch on the subject. But the bottom line is, it's not about who I really AM, it's about who God SAYS that I am. And the same is true for you,  2 Corinthians 5:20 says "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come" (NASB) We do not have to define ourselves by our past mistakes, our present weaknesses, or our faults and inadequacies. Because, the truth is that we are a flawed human race - but through the Grace of our Lord, we are New Creations in Christ Jesus.

To those that waited for my posts over the past couple of months, I apologize. In my weakness I have just not been able to write, and as I waited, the enemy whispered to me that I had failed, and now there is no point. Ugh! But I write today because I do truly believe that the One that is in me, is greater than the one that is in the world  (1 John 4:4). So, I'm picking up my sword again, and pressing on. 

I'd like to talk more about who we are in Christ. I hope to do that in the weeks to come. For now, I invite those that are struggling with their identity in Christ to watch this series by Beth Moore. This woman's ministry has been such a blessing to me over the years, and this message spoke so strongly to me, and is what has given me the strength to pick up and start again. I believe that it is a word for anyone that is weak in this area of their walk. It is in a total of six short videos, but believe me, it will be time well spent as you sit and take this word in. 

Blessings to you, today and always.

Tammy JOY.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Faith Challenge
Principle #2:
God Can Do What He Says He Can Do!


Hello friends!! How was your week? I am thankful to say that mine was a whole lot better than last week!!

I am so excited to share with you the nuggets of truth that I have found in this week's chapter of "Believing God" by Beth Moore. Last week we discussed the first principle of our Faith Pledge which is "God is Who He says He is" this week we take that principle one step further to say that "God Can Do What He Says He Can Do". In fact, Beth Moore states that...

God can do what he says He can do precisely because He is who He says He is. Most of the biblical titles for God...connect who He is to what He can do.

For instance:
As Savior, He saves
As Deliverer, He delivers
As Redeemer, He Redeems
As Master, He assumes authority
As Bread of Life, He provides
As Almighty, He exerts divine strength

 What glorious hope we can have as Christians if we were to really believe that God is capable of being and doing all of these things. Think about your current situation, what if you believed even for a fraction of a second that God could do what He has said He can do in your circumstance. What would that mean for you? Believe it friend, because if God IS even a fraction of what He says He is, then He has to be EVERYTHING He says that He is. Which means that He is TRUTH (John 14:6) and therefore what He has said He can do He TRULY IS able to do! We cannot believe part of what He said without believing ALL of what He has said.

In Luke chapter 4, when Jesus began His public ministry, he went into the Synagogue and read from the book of Isaiah (Ch 61), proclaiming that this Scripture was now being fulfilled before the people's very eyes. Beth Moore, in her "Breaking Free" series states that in reading this scripture, Jesus actually took complete ownership of his 'Job Description'.

This is what that scripture says:
The Spirit of the Lord is Upon Me,
Because He Anointed Me to Preach the Gospel to the Poor,
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
And recovery of sight to the Blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
Luke 4:18-19

In another scripture, John the Baptist, while he was in prison, sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was really the "one they had been expecting". You see, although he had declared that Jesus was indeed the Christ, had even heard confirmation from Heaven that He was the son of God, John's circumstances were such that he was now beginning to question if Jesus really was who he had thought He was. Anyone ever been where John was?? I know I have!!

Jesus reply to John was as follows:
Go report to John what you hear and see:
The blind receive sight and the lame walk,
The lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear,
The dead are raised up,
and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
Matthew 11:4-5

So, what about these miracles that Jesus performed? Were they just something that happened in 'Bible Times'? Or what about even before Jesus came to earth? Like Abraham's receiving a son at the ripe old age of 100 (Genesis 21), or the Israelites crossing the Red Sea on dry land (Exodus 14), or three Hebrew boys walking around in a fiery furnace yet never getting burned (Daniel 3). I dare to believe that the same God that brought these biblical miracles to life is the God that I serve today, and therefore He is able to do the same for you and I as He did for them.

So Beth Moore offers two reasons why we may not see as many miracles today as we once did, they are as follows:

1. We are a dreadfully unbelieving generation

"We are caught in a tragic cycle. We believe little because we see little, so we see little and continue to believe little..."

2. God may just be waiting for us to muster up some corporate belief and start asking Him for our miracles.

"If in reality we are seeing few wonders of God in the midst of His people and through His people, shouldn't we...inquire why?
 Are we not equally desperate?
 Is God no longer willing to intervene miraculously and wondrously in our behalf?
We are surrounded by a dying and depraved world,
 mounting violence and threat of mass destruction, disease, plague, enticing false religion and a surging fury of satanic assault and seduction.
 We are desperate for the wonders and miracles of God.
We need Him to show His mighty arm and tell the world that He is alive, active, and very much with us.
We are told churches are in terrible decline.
 Many pastors and leaders are depressed. Oppressed.
 Throngs of clueless people encircle us.
We need more than the best programs and planning can accomplish.
In fact, we need more than we have the courage or imagination to ask. 

Oh that the church would fall on it's face and cry out the words the prophet Habakkuk cried: "Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known"

Even as I write this today I am dealing with my own areas of unbelief, questions that I don't know the answer to and fear of what the truth might be.
I ask the Lord, as the father in Mark 9 (v 22-24) asked...
"But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us".
Jesus response to this man...
"If You can? All things are possible to him who believes".
 In other words, it's not a question of IF He can, the question is...
 Do We Believe He Can!!
Then the cry of our hearts must be the same as this father's was...
 "Help my unbelief".

As I end for this week, I'd like leave you with a song entitled "Do it Lord". What if we truly believed we would someday see the things in this song come to light! Would you dare to believe with me that the Lord can "Do it"?

Remember this friends:
 "The God we serve is able (Dan 3:17). Everything is possible (Mark 9:23). Nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). We can always hope and pray diligently for a miracle. If, in God's sovereignty He chooses to accomplish His purposes another way, let it not be that we have not because we asked not (James 4:2) or that we have not because we believed not (Matt 9:29)
Beth Moore, Believing God, pg. 61

Praying for you until next week, that your faith will be increased!!

Love and blessings,

Tammy JOY

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Faith Challenge:
Principle # 1: "I AM"
 God Is Who He Says He Is!!

What a Week!! I once heard Pastor Brian Brown preach a message entitled "Different Levels, Different Devils". Well, I think when I wrote that blog last week I introduced myself to a devil from a different level, because I have faced fiery darts this week that I was definitely not expecting; And yes, some of them pierced into old wounds that had already been struck one too many times. There were moments I thought my shield was going to drop right to the ground. But God IS faithful, and in the midst of struggle he has always provided me with the people and resources I have needed to get me through. At one point this week, when I really didn't know where to turn next, I went to my promise box and pulled a promise - praying it would offer some encouragement that things would be ok. This is what it said - "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God." Revelation 3:12. And on the back side - "Our Father, help us to hold fast to our faith in you. Give us strength not to give up under the pressure." Tell me my God is not real?? You may call it coincidence that I pulled the very words that I needed to hear in my hour of need, I call it God, speaking to me through the instruments he has chosen to use in my life.

So last week I introduced a faith challenge from Beth Moore's book "Believing God". This week we will focus on the first statement of our faith pledge which is "God is who He says He is". In order to help us remember each statement we will count them off on each finger of our right hand. After going through all five you will be able to hold your hand high as a symbol of your sword of faith. Let this first statement be your thumb principle. As Beth states "The thumb principle is the most crucial because all others hinge securely upon it." (Believing God, p. 44). Just as our thumb is the strong point of our hand, our belief in who God IS will be the basis on which our faith is grounded.

Jesus asked two very important questions to his disciples when he was on earth, the first being "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" (Matt. 16:13). Well, in today's society that is becoming more and more of a loaded question isn't it!! Who do people say He is. Actually, some people say that HE isn't at all, arguing there is no such thing as God. Others will try and fit Him into the description of what they "think" he is rather than what He really is.
Here is what Beth Moore says about those who try to define God within their own limited realm of knowledge...

All human attempts to define God cannot help but minimize Him. We somehow want to neatly package God and make everything about Him explainable.  We decide that what's not explainable is not plausible. We try to make God behave and fit into our textbooks.  We want Him to calm down and not be so...God-ish.

All attempts to take away the mystery and wonder that surround God leave Him something He is not. We cannot tame the Lion of Judah. There is a mystery, a wonder, and yes even a wildness about God we cannot take from Him. Nor would we want to if we could grasp the adventure of Him.

I don't know about you, but THAT is the God that I want to know. The God that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that I could ask or think!! And friend, I can guarantee you, THAT is the God that I DO know!!

This brings us to the next question that Jesus asked His disciples in the book of Matthew..."Who do you say that I am?".

As a child, I was "rocked in a Pentecostal cradle" as some would say. As I grew older, my love for church continued to grow as I became an adult. In fact, the church became my haven, the place that I would look to for refuge, shelter from storms, recovery from tragedy. I took my burdens to my church family and they prayed me through...I thought that was how it was supposed to be...right?!?

When my marraige began to fall apart, I guess a part of me expected the same love and understanding that I had received from my church family and friends as in any other situation. I was shaken when I began to notice that people stopped looking me in the eye, stopped asking me how I was doing...for fear that I just might answer! Some decided they had all the answers for me - and gave me direct instructions for exactly what I needed in order to make things work, others advised me that "God hates divorce" and so I needed to "seek God" more in order to save my marraige.

Needless to say, I was devastated. What had happened to all of the people who KNEW me?? Hadn't the life I had lived over the years meant anything in this situation? Did people not know that I had not gotten to this place in the blink of an eye? I thought the church was supposed to support you through everything?

Talk about having my faith shaken!! Everything I had ever believed in seemed to be crumbling! The life I had known, the God I had served seemed to be failing me in the hour that I needed him most!!

So what did I do?? Well, I did what any irrationally thinking, broken, and hurting woman would do in the situation, lol! I got angry with God!! How could I have lived my life for this thing called "christianity" when all it did when you needed it most was slap you in the face! I mean, seriously, did "God" not know what I was going through?? Had He not seen my efforts to make things work a different way?? What a waste of my time...what a waste of my life!!!

In my anger, I slowly moved away from God! I stopped going to church, I stopped praying, and if anyone suggested I "give my burdens to the Lord", I very clearly advised them that Him and I were not on speaking terms at the present moment!!

Of course, as you can imagine, life did not get better! In fact, it got a whole lot worse!! I was miserable, and even my non-christian counselor finally got to the point where she said "I don't know how you are going to do it, but  somehow, you need to find your way back to the faith of your childhood". Thank God for that Pentecostal cradle!!

Slowly, as I began to turn my heart back towards God, I realized something. All my life, I had placed the greater portion of my faith in the church. Suddenly God was showing me that the church was made up of people - people trying to make it in their walk of faith, sometimes stumbling, sometimes not really willling to open their eyes to the truth of various situations, sometimes slow to listen and quick to judge...sometimes, people just like me!!

Fortunately, He did not stop there. Instead, He whispered gently into my ears and into my Heart that I did not need to put my faith in people, but rather in Him. He was the one that was capable of binding up my broken heart, He was my redeemer, He was my Wonderful Counselor, He IS my Prince of Peace. He loves me no matter what my life looks like - not for what I am because of who He IS!

As difficult as those days were, I can look back now and say that I am better for them. Because as a result of them, I have fallen in love with a Jesus I never knew before. My life has been completely changed. Why? Because He was all I had left to hope in, and when I began to believe in the truth of who He is, He began to show Himself to me in a very real and powerful way. 
When Jesus asked his disciples "Who do you say I am?", Simon Peter answered Him and said "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God". And Jesus response to Him - "Blessed are you, Simon son of are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of Heaven" (Matt 16: 15-20) Peter believed that Jesus was who He said He was, and Jesus blessed him for it. He will do the same for you, if you are willing to believe in Him!

What is your personal battle today? Did you have a rough week as well? Ruth Graham, daughter of the great Billy Graham penned it well when she titled one of her books "In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart". Isn't it true - so many broken, so many hurting. Searching for something to ease the pain of their awful situations. Friend, I would like to challenge you today. Believe God Is Who He says He is. Feel you have nothing left? I invite you to seek Him and ask Him to reveal Himself to you.

Priscilla Shirer is a fantastic women's bible teacher. Last year I had the opportunity to take advantage of a video bible study in which she was a part of. I am attaching a portion of one of those videos here in which she powerfully describes some of the many things that "He is". As you listen, think about who He is to you, think about who He has been, and then think about who you need Him to be. Then believe...He will not let you down - His word is true, and He IS who He says He IS!!

"He is everything for everybody, every time, everywhere, and in every way!" That just gets me excited!!

Friends, I am hoping you will have a wonderful week! I pray that you will believe God to be all that you require for your present situation!

Blessings until next week when we learn "God can do what He says He can do"


Tammy JOY

Monday, July 09, 2012

Faith Challenge:

Holding Up the Shield of Faith

Once again, I am nose-deep in another book by Beth Moore and my spirit has been stirred as she talks about faith and "Believing God". I sit here reading this evening and I am quickened by the truth that so many of us ("us" - meaning myself included!) as Christians believe IN God without actually BELIEVING GOD; and that there are so many promises and so much power available to us as Christians if we were to only grab a hold of our shield of faith and raise it high in the confidence that God is Great, and He is OUR Great Deliverer, the Author of the Story that is Our lives. He is waiting with p ower from on high - waiting for us to walk in the victory that has been won for us through the death of His Son, Jesus.

I'd like to share with you an excerpt from Beth's book entitled "Believing God" in which she describes the importance of faith in fighting our battles and going forward in victory...

Among the strategically prescribed pieces of armor the King James Version (KJV) tells us, "Above all, taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked" (v.16). Why "above all" do we need to learn to use our shield of faith? Because the shield is the  armor's armor. The ancient warrior hoped the fiery dart never reached the helmet or the breastplate. A direct hit on any of the other defensive covers could still stun and bruise even if it didn't wound. The warrior's goal was to extinguish any oncoming dart with his shield in order to diffuse all potential damage. When the warriors shield was down, the other pieces of armor were vastly more vulnerable. The same is true for our warfare. Our toughest battles will invariably concern matters of faith - times when we're tempted to think God's word and His ways won't work for us, that He has abandoned us, let us down, or failed to come through for us. If Satan can get us to drop our shield of faith, he knows we can't remain standing for very long.
Firsts have great importance in Scripture. Do you know the first recorded words that ever came out of the Serpent's mouth?
"Did God really say...?" (Gen. 3:1)
He used the spade of deceit to sow doubt. Satan, posing as the serpent, couldn't keep Eve from believing in God so he did the next best thing. He baited her, tempting Eve not to believe God or trust His motives. Her walk was crippled, her doubt was contagious,and the couple lost the land God had placed under their feet. You see, when Eve dropped her shield of faith, every other piece of spiritual armor became vulnerable. Satan knew she wouldn't remain standing for long. When she fell, she fell hard. I know the feeling. 
"Above all" you and I need to learn to take up our shield of faith. We also desperately need to know the Word of God and wield up the Sword of the Spirit so that when the enemy slyly suggests "Did God really say...?" we can know the answer emphatically. When we respond to attacks of doubt, distortion, and deceit with the truth of God's Word, the fiery dart is extinguished and the enemy takes another hit"
(Believing God; Beth Moore; pgs 26-27)

So obviously, we are not living in the Garden of Eden today, and our own particular battle does not involve a fruit tree. However, we do share the same enemy, and he is still in the business of trying to knock us down with the fiercest of darts. So what do they look like? They are different for all of us, yet really the same. Our fiery darts are aimed at the areas of our lives where the enemy knows we are weakest, that one spot in our shield that maybe was hit once before, or where our arms are getting tired and we are holding it up with the last bit of strength we have left in us. And we are beginning to doubt that God really is who He said He was, able to do what He said He would do.

My heart aches when I think of what those darts look like in the lives of my friends, family, and my fellow sisters and brothers in Christ. I'm sure so many of us can relate to what they are - Empty Cradles, Broken Homes, Unexpected Lay-Offs, Insufficient Funds, Positive CT Scans, Depression, Anxiety, Addiction. They are so ugly, and yet all too familiar to so many of us. Too often I have felt the angry force as one of them or another knocked my own shield down, causing me to fall to the ground - my faith shattered, my fight gone. Asking God "why", or thinking to myself "is He really going to supply all my needs? Because I don't see any way out of this one!"

But I am here to tell you today that there really is victory in and through the blood of Christ our Saviour. And I have learned that putting your faith in God can transform the story of your life from one that is broken and defeated to one that is beautiful and exuberant! God just requires that we hand the pen of our lives to Him, and trust Him to do what only he can - take our chicken scratch, nursery rhyme life stories and turn them into a Shakespearean classic, written in the finest of penmanship. That's the business of our Lord - trading beauty for ashes, sorrow and shame for the joy of the Lord.

So here is your challenge - and it may be for only one person - I don't know. But I truly believe that this message is for someone. If you are going through a battle, the darts have beaten your shield so low that you are struggling to stop yourself from falling...Friend, it is time to get your shield back up in the air!! High - not of your own strength - but out of the power that has been provided for you as a Victorious Soldier in the Mightiest of Armies.

In "Believing God", Beth outlines a pledge of faith that I am challenging you to memorize as an act of faith and a means of strengthening the power of your shield. There are five statements and I am challenging you to memorize one a week for the next five weeks. Beth has dedicated a chapter of her book to each individual statement, and so I am committing to walk beside you for the next five weeks with tidbits from the book that I believe will help you on your journey to complete and total surrender to God's faithful provision.

The pledge is as follows:
      1. God is who He says He is
      2. God can do what He says He can do
      3. I am who God says I am
      4. I can do all things through Christ
      5. God's word is alive and active in me
Of course, these statements, in and of themselves have no power. They are simply truths brought forth by a woman who has proven God's faithfulness over and over, through the darkest of battles and the fiercest of fiery darts. Your greatest power will come from the Word of God - and so the other challenge is to find a promise - be it a scripture verse, particular psalm, or section of scripture that speaks to your heart or is applicable to your situation and memorize it. Write it on your heart. WRITE IT ON YOUR SHIELD!! When Jesus was tempted in the desert, it was the Word of God that He used to ward off the temptations of the enemy. Three times He fought back with the following statement "It is written...". Let's follow His example and use the Sword of the Word to fight back against the enemy's angry darts!

After a lifetime of wishing, hoping, and longing, I have finally enrolled myself in some formal online Biblical Training. My first course is a study of Genesis. It's funny how stories that you have read over and over, and learned in Sunday School can suddenly shout something you had never even realized was there before...this happened for me in the story of Abraham and Sarah. After waiting a lifetime for a child, Sarah had pretty much given up on the idea of having one of her own. It's really no wonder that when she was well past the childbearing age that she laughed when the Lord told Abraham that in the next year they would receive a son. God responded to her laughter with a question..."is anything too difficult for the Lord?". Just as he had promised, in the next year Sarah became mother to a bouncing baby boy, and her words were as follows: "God has made laughter for me, everyone who hears will laugh with me". Somehow I get the feeling that Sarah's laughter was a little more genuine the second time around. Sarah may have doubted - but Abraham was faithful! He held tight to his shield of faith, and God honored his faith by giving him and Sarah the object of their heart's desire - a child! Abraham and Sarah named their boy 'Isaac' - guess what the name means..."He laughs". Sarah never forgot how God turned her snickering laughter of doubt into an overwhelming laughter of joy.

Where are you in your battle my friend? Do you laugh at the thought that God could possibly show up now and turn your losing battle into a victory? My prayer for you is that you will take hold of the shield of faith and claim victory over the fiery darts of the enemy - so that one day you will be able to say like Sarah - "God has made laughter for me" - and when I hear your story I promise to laugh along with you.

Love and Prayers,
Tammy JOY!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Coming out of the Darkness

Hello Friends

Today I have decided to share the story of my journey with depression. Although not an easy story to share, I feel that to contain it would be an injustice to the One who carried me through, and a letting down of those who could use the confidence and reassurance of one who has been there. I know that many of you will not be able to relate to the feelings that I will describe here - but I also know that some will feel as though I am looking into the very fiber of their being, and touching on the deepest darkest secrets of their reality.

Depression is a very ugly condition, and until I walked the road,  I could never have comprehended the depths of this despair. However, I can say with confidence that there is hope for individuals that are struggling with this illness, and I hope that sharing my story, will speak into the heart of some soul that is longing for reprieve and offer the hope of light at the end of the darkest tunnel of their lives...

24 hrs after my son Riley was born, my life forever changed. I was tending to him, and preparing to lay down for the night when suddenly I began to feel extreme anxiety - to the point where I could no longer hold the baby and had to call for the nuse to come and get him. I spent the rest of that night rocking myself back and forth trying to overcome this fear that had gripped me with a force that I was unable to fight - it was one of the scariest moments of my life.

That night was the start of what led to a very deep and dark depression.
Something that I had never even imagined was possible. I had always thought that people who were depressed just simply couldn't deal with their problems and they needed to get over it. I soon learned that this was so far from the truth. I had many people tell me during that time that I simply needed to fight it and I would be better - but I couldn't fight it, because it was so much bigger than me.

For about two months I lived in constant fear and anxiety. I couldn't tend to my two children, I didn't want to get out of bed in the mornings, and I felt that no matter how hard I tried I was sinking deeper and deeper into a cold dark pit. I tried to explain it to my friends and family but no matter how hard I tried I couldn't make them completely understand what I was going through - not because they didn't care but because unless you have been there you just cannot understand what it's like.

During that time, I cried out to God daily for deliverance from this awful place. I refused to take medication because I felt - and had had heard so many times - that starting a medication was like telling God that I didn't believe he had the power to take me out of this dark place. I did not want to have a "false sense of happiness" and although my family and closest friends supported me in my decision, it began to get to the point where they began to seriously fear for my health and well being.

For two months I carried on in this situation. I went to church every Sunday and believed with all of my heart that this would be the moment that he would take it from me, but yet in the night I would once again wake and shake for hours with the most extreme anxiety and fear. Not wanting to bother anyone, I would long for the daylight to come where there would at least be someone else awake to sit with me and bear me up in prayer. Some nights it was so bad that I did wake my husband, or call my parents or my pastor and beg them to pray for me. I can honestly say that the experience definitely brought me to a place where I was totally reliant upon God. I realized that I was unable to do anything on my own, and in my darkest moments - I felt his presence in a very real and powerful way. Always when I was at my darkest point I would have something happen - be it a phone call with a word of encouragement, a verse come to my mind , or a song that seemed to lay upon my heart that reminded me that God was near to my situation, he cared, and he was not going to leave me alone. I lived moment by moment on the strength that he was providing - yet I longed for this to be over.

My husband, at the time that this was happening, worked on a ship and would have to go away for two months at a time for work. The time came that he had to leave, and the panic just began to overtake me. I laid awake and literally shook through the first night that he was gone, then in the morning, I packed up my young family and went to my parents home so that I wouldn't be alone. While at their house, I began to sink deeper and deeper into the pit of my depression, until I resolved to myself that it was better for me to not be alive than to be living like this. I went for a walk alone that day, and in my irrational thinking, I stood on the rocks of a cliff and fought with everything that was in me not to jump. As much as I knew that this was the wrong thing to do - I also felt as if there was no other way out, and that my family and my children would be better off without me in the mess that I was currently in.

Somehow, I found the courage that day to walk away from that cliff - mainly because I felt that if I did what I was thinking to do, I would be letting down the people that loved me the most and they would be dissapointed in me - which I didn't want; and I knew that if I jumped I would spend an eternity in hell - which I still believed was even worse than the hell that I was currently living on earth. I believe it was only the grace of God that kept me from jumping that day. As I walked home, I battled within myself once again with the idea of starting medication. I didn't want to be faithless and give in when God was able to carry me through - but yet I knew that I couldn't carry on much longer in the mess that I was currently in.

When I got home that day, I knew that I was in a very scary place, and that I needed immediate deliverance. I called one of the ladies in my home church and asked her to alert the prayer team that there was a situation that needed desperate prayer. I didn't give her the details, and she didn't ask, but in a matter of a couple of hours, I felt that heaviness, and the desire to kill myself begin to lift, and I knew that God was intervening once again.

I'd like to say that at that moment I was instantly healed, but this was not the case. It seemed as though God was trying my faith, and proving to me that in every situation he was there with grace to bring me through. I was learning to be totally dependant on him to carry me through the situation.

Throughout this time, there were a few friends that I talked to and shared my most deepest darkest feelings. These dear friends prayed with me, believed with me, and cried out to God on my behalf when I didn't have the strength or the energy to do it myself. At the time, my best friend was living here in Fort McMurray, and knowing the awful place that I was in, she decided to come home for a few days to spend some time with me. This dear friend was also a nurse, and although she fully believed that God could take this depression from me - should he choose to, she also felt that I was at the place where medically I needed treatment for my current condition.
So my friend came to visit and she helped with the baby, she played with my two year old, she listened to my fears, she talked with my husband, she wrapped her arms around me during my panic attacks holding me so tightly that I was physically unable to shake - she literally did everything that she could possibly do to alleviate some of the strain of our situation. Then on the last day that she was with me, we went for a drive. I was so upset - and shared my frustration and exhaustion with having been living this nightmare for two months straight. I expressed my lack of understanding of why God was choosing not to take this from me when I was crying out with everything that was in me, and believing and waiting on him to do it. Knowing that she had little time left with me before going back home, my dear friend voiced the words that had been laying so strongly on her heart in the past two weeks since she had been with me. In that moment she looked at me and said "Tammy, as your friend I can totally understand why you have not gotten treatment for this, but as a nurse, I strongly believe that you need medication". She then went on to talk with me about the fact that if I had been dealing with a heart condition, or diabetes, I would have long since gotten treatment for my illness, and that in this situation it was no different. I was sick, and this sickness was totally debilitating not only myself but my family as well. She urged me to consider the fact that starting medication was not telling God that I didn't believe he was able to deliver me, it was admiting that I had an illness and the same God that made provision for the discovery of insulin also gave the medical wisdom for the invention of antidepressants. My God did not require that I suffer any longer when there were things out there that could help me be the person that I truly was, and enjoy the beautiful children that he had blessed me with.

I am so thankful for my friend's courage that day to speak the words to me that I did not want to hear, but so desperately needed. The next day I went and filled the prescription that my doctor had given me a month before but I had refused to take, and in a short time I began to feel better. It was as if the darkness was beginning to fade away, then suddenly one day I woke up and noticed that the sun was shining - and I realized that I hadn't noticed the sun in a very long time. At that moment, I realized that I had not given up on God or submitted to my weakness or failure by accepting treatment for my condition - I was simply accepting the provision that was made available for me through the miraculous invention of medicine.

I'll never know exactly why God chose not to give me immediate deliverance from my depression. But I believe in my heart, that it was to bring a message to people in this world who have too long believed that seeking treatment for this illness is admitting a lack of faith in God's delivering power. I also know that had I been immediately healed, I would not have learned to lean on him in the way that I did when the darkness was overwhelming me and there was no other place to look but up to him for the strength to get me through the moment.

As a nurse, I am aware that illnesses such as depression and anxiety are on the rise in our world today. As a christian, I also know that the stigma that goes along with this illness has not dissolved - in society or in the church. I pray that my story will somehow touch the heart of some soul that is struggling with depression and has been told by one too many people that God does not want them to take medication. Do I believe that everyone that goes through a low point in their lives need treatment? Definitely not; however - I do believe that there are situations whereby individuals are deeply suffering in a pit of depression and the lie that accepting treatment is showing a lack of faith in God is preventing them from receiving what they need to overcome.

I wonder what it would be like had God chosen not to allow me to walk through the valley of depression at all. I wonder where my relationship with him would be today.  Can I say that for the past eight years life has been rosey and I've lived on the mountain, No! There have been times, while walking through the valleys of life, that the darkness of depression has creeped into my life once again. In those moments, I have cried out to God - and clung to the resources that are available to me that allow me to rise above the confines of my condition and live the life that he desires me to enjoy. One thing I do know for sure is that I will not allow the struggle and the battle that I fought be my defeat! Rather, I choose to bear this cross for His glory that I might be a vessel that He uses to speak to others who have walked or are currently walking this road and have lost hope in the possibility of a brighter day.

As I mentioned earlier, in the midst of my darkness there was always a word or a song that would come to me and offer hope of a brighter day to come. During this time, another dear friend of mine gave me a song by the Crabb Family that became a daily source of strength. I clung to the words of this song, believing that one day I could sing them victoriously and with the confidence of knowing that I had overcome. I am attaching this song, with hopes that it will do the same for some soul that is searching for something to hold onto. Listen to the words of this song and cling to the truth that in the midst of whatever storm you are facing in your life, you may not be able to fight it on your own - but friend I promise you - that Jesus Christ is able to do ALL that you can't!!