Do You Believe In Miracles?

One of the great things about Christmas, if we take step back and reflect, is that it reminds us that Jesus was human like you and me. He came into this world the same way we did and experienced the same emotions and temptations. Yes, Jesus came for the ultimate purpose to pay the price which should have been ours for our sins, but I believe one of His purposes was also to allow us to truly see the heart of God in a way we could not fully comprehend if there was only God the Father up in Heaven. One of the places where we get great insight into his heart is through the death of Lazarus in John 11:1-43.

I don’t know what 2019 has brought you and what 2020 and beyond will bring you, but I know this past year has brought my family and I some challenges with 2 spine surgeries in my neck and some loss of functionality in my hand, as well as other changes, I thought I would never see. However, it has also brought blessings and what I would call miracles in the midst which we would not have experienced without these challenges. Yes, I am still praying for an additional miracle for my hand to fully come back, but these experiences brought me closer to God with more gratitude for His blessings and my main prayers have been that my experience helps others in some way (at least 2 people so far are seeing the same surgeon) and that God be glorified through it.

In these verses in John, we see Mary and Martha first react in a way that most of do through challenges.. questioning why He let this happen and even why He wasn’t there (John 11:21, John 11:32). After He sees Martha and the other Jews crying it says in John 11:33 that He was “deeply moved in His Spirit and greatly troubled.” It then says right after in John 11:35, “He wept.” In my humble opinion, He is not weeping because His friend, Lazarus, died…for He knew what was going to happen and says so at least 4 times before this (John 11:3, John 11:11, John 11:14, John 11:23). I believe He is weeping because He sees the pain of Mary and Martha and the other Jews. How blessed are we that we have a God who cares about our pains and showed us that in the physical person of Jesus? Our feelings matter to Him. He cares.

Jesus also tells us multiple times here in these verses the purpose of our pain..

“..This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”          

John 11:4

“Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to Him.’”

John 11:14-15

“Jesus said, ’Did I not tell you that if you believed you will see the glory of God?’”

John 11:40

“’…..but I said this on account of the people standing around that they may believe that you sent me.’”

John 11:42

We must know and trust that nothing happens “to us”…only “for us”…or better yet…”for Him.” This is hard. We don’t like pain and problems. I mentioned earlier Martha was upset and took a jab so to speak saying to Jesus that this wouldn’t have happened if He was there (John 11:21), but she also says in John 11:22, “But even now I know whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” It’s okay to be human and be upset for a moment..that’s normal..but she gives us a great example of going back to believing and trusting in Him. Jesus says we must fully believe in the glory of God and His ability to do miracles in John 11:40 when He says, ….”Did I not tell you if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

Through my health challenges in 2019, I’ve tried to do my best to share my faith in God and His plan and will for my life, and most importantly, share the miracles/blessings that have still come in the midst of it. What could have been could have been way worse. It was a miracle to find my doctor in Pittsburgh who performed a procedure no one else is doing with the least long term effects..even my doctors at Mayo didn’t know about it. I only found him because my sister-in-law’s sister had the same condition and found him. Or worse yet, if I was born in a different time in history when no treatment was available, I would have become paralyzed in time.

One of the biggest miracles in this situation did not happen this year though, it happened in 2002. I can vividly remember sitting in front of the computer at home and trying to decide if I was going to choose a major of biology on my University of Illinois application and pursue my dream to be an orthodontist, or switch to a business major at the 11th hour. I decided to switch to business. Why? I didn’t fully know at time…maybe less time in school (haha) was my dream though. Now, 18 years later, I can see God’s plan for that change. I would not be able to practice as an orthodontist today with the loss of functionality of my hand, and I would not have been able to purchase insurance to protect my income for my family due to pre-existing conditions before I would have even started my dental training. However, because of that click of a button and God’s plan..not mine…I can still continue my career as a financial advisor and have multi-generational impact and provide for my family through the work I do. Praise God.

We can find God’s blessings and miracles through every situation, even death, when we just reflect and search. Will you join me in praying for wisdom to do our absolute best in 2020 and beyond to look for them…and most importantly to glorify Him through them…no matter how hard it is? God cares, and He has a plan…even when it seems impossible to see. Let us trust in and remember that.



Lazarus ” אלעזר” “God has helped”

Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John record many miracles that were performed by Jesus. These gospels have just a small fraction of what and who Jesus healed and touched before his earthly death.  Still today, we can hear, see, and feel Jesus’s hand in our miracles and the miracles of others.  Today, we get to read about life after death for Lazarus in John 11:1-45. One of his last earthly miracles that really sent the religious leaders into a panic demanding Jesus’s death.

But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” John 11:4 

Reading through this miracle of bringing someone back to life after four days is unbelievable.  It is only God possible. He had brought a couple of others back to life, but not after four days! This story also leaves me with some gut-check questions as I read through the scriptures.  Think about these questions with me.

  1. Who do you go to when you need extraordinary help? Do you rely on your personal strength or strength of man or? Do you rely upon  Jesus?              (Further Reading Psalm 3)
  2. How do we respond to adversity? Is it a grumble, complain, or blame? Or do we glorify His name in everything? ( But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

( 2 Corinthians  1:4 )  5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too

3. Are you walking in the dark or light? What do your choices look like? Are we trusting in His timing? 

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

4. Lazarus was dead to the physical world. The first word Lazarus heard was Jesus telling him to, “come forth”. When we physically die,  will the first person we hear be Jesus? Will you “come forth?”

Dear Heavenly Father thank you for the stories of your love, grace, and truth.  Help us to walk in the light, trust you in the face of adversity,   This heart-breaking story was all part of your plan. We love you and just ask for you to keep us in your light.  In your name, we pray. Amen



We Can’t, He Can…and to Him Be the Glory!

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”                 Ephesians 3:20-21

These verses were read in our church a few years ago. These were verses that changed my life, and I hope I can use to change the lives of my children and those I help lead.

My Dad always said, “You can find time to do everything else to do in the week, so you can find time to go to church on Sunday.” Truth be told, I think these words were first the words of my late grandmother, Mary Ellen, who passed earlier this year. At our firm, we have a saying called “Don’t miss the assembly.” It means, don’t miss a development or learning session because one thing said there could impact you greatly. Our retired managing partner, John Wright, would always say, “You’re either green and growing or ripe and rotting.” Over the past few years, church has become something I look forward to because I love the time of worship and the opportunity to praise Him. But, it’s always been something I have needed like putting gas in the tank each week. It seems like the message is always something we need at exactly the right time which I don’t think is any coincidence. And every once in a great while, something is said that changes your life.

Many of us are lucky enough to be raised in good homes with good values where parents taught us to think of others first and to not think too highly of ourselves. Don’t be cocky or arrogant…be humble. However, we often confuse what humble means. A few years back I also heard it said that being humble means thinking of yourself less, not thinking less of yourself. When we think less of ourselves and what we are capable of and when we lack confidence in what we can do and in our future, we are really showing a lack of confidence in God and what He can do. This verse tells us we can’t, but He can. It’s not our power, but “HIS power within us.” This is why we should be confident…not because of ourselves, but because of Him. And…He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” Yes, challenges will come and life won’t be easy. Bad things will happen. This is not the prosperity gospel I’m speaking of. But, there is no need to worry about the future. He’s got this. And He will do more through and with you (even when you’re in really bad situations) than you ever expect or could ever think you are capable of. And when great things happen in life, Ephesians 3:21 makes sure we keep our priorities right. He gets the glory…”forever and ever!” As my pastor growing up, Rev. Richard Harre once said, “We can be calm, confident, and courageous in our Lord, Jesus Christ!”

Tongues and Tebowing

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 14.

I must have looked at the schedule of dates, chapters, and writers nearly five times just to make sure that my day to write and topic was 1 Corinthians 14 on speaking in tongues. Yes..the schedule was the same the fifth time I checked as it was the first! Thankfully, a few weeks ago my brother in Christ, David LaFrance told me about Pastor John MacArthur’s Grace to You app which has sermons on every chapter in the Bible, and it had 4 on this chapter alone. In listening to a few, I didn’t feel quite as inept and nervous to write on it, not only because of John’s teaching and clarification, but also because John said this chapter was without a doubt the hardest to understand in 1 Corinthians and maybe the Bible. He also said he has read close to 50 books on this chapter and the topic of speaking in tongues and no two authors fully agreed on everything. That was my sigh of relief you just heard that I don’t need to get everything just right, and I just needed to pray for guidance and attempt to do my best.

John gives some great context in that the Corinthians were seeking a state of ecstasy, not only in their own homes and personal time with God, but also while in the church and around others. They were looking for an out of body type experience. It is also important as we read this to understand that John states the word “prophesy” was not used to describe predicting the future until the Middle Ages. In fact, defines prophesy as “to give instruction in a religious matter.” It also gives the word preach as a synonym. This is what Paul was referring to. John also states that the purpose of the church is to edify people about God. defines edify as “to instruct or improve…” If we understand these two definitions, then we can more clearly understand in 1 Corinthians 14:1-5 what Paul is saying in that preaching and using your spiritual gifts within the church is to help others more clearly understand and to glorify God is what is important. Being in your own state of ecstasy by speaking in a tongue no one can understand is not right because it helps only yourself. In fact, John  MacArthur goes as far as to say that if you use a spiritual gift only for yourself it is a sin and you are prostituting that gift given by God. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:1-5 that especially within the church, it is much better to preach because you are helping others.

Some may ask about Acts 2 where the Holy Spirit comes on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came and many spoke in tongues. John clarifies this is different because when the Holy Spirit truly comes like in Acts 2, everyone understands each other and the different tongues/languages which are being spoken. In this instance, God is being glorified and edification occurs because everyone understands each other. In Corinth, each individual was speaking a tongue/language which no one else could understand in public in the church. John MacArthur also interprets what Paul is saying to be the singular word for tongue which is also translated as gibberish. No one can understand gibberish, except for the one speaking it, so it is not used to help others better understand God.

So, how can we put this into context within our world and lives today? As I mentioned in our introduction to 1 Corinthians two weeks ago, not too much has changed. We still live in a society seeking ecstasy and personal experience. We are encouraged by others, advertisements, and entertainment sources to do whatever feels good to you, and it is all about you. I could just say one word that sums this up..selfie. However, I will say two words that amplifies even more the gravity and depth of our self-centered nature and the all about me world we live in…selfie-stick.

Paul tells us here in 1 Corinthians 5,12, and 26 that it’s not about you. The purpose of the gifts God gives us is to build up the church and the purpose of the church is to bring beauty to her bridegroom, Jesus. Just a few days ago we studied 1 Corinthians 10:31 which says, “So whether you eat or dink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” And then in 1 Corinthians 10:33, “just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they might be saved.”

Let me use on example of the gift of athletic abilities and sport. I have heard many Christians even criticize Tim Tebow for his outspokenness about his faith, thanking God in interviews after victories, and for “tebowing” after a touchdown. I once read a book where Bobby Knight was quoted as saying he didn’t have his teams pray before games because God didn’t want his team to win more than the other team, and God was not going to parachute down and make a basket for them when they needed it. I think many Christians take this posture and for example, think it’s wrong to mix sport and faith. They think athletic gifts are just athletic gifts and not for God’s glory and that when Tebow thanks God after winning a game that he’s saying God wanted him and his team to win more than the other team. I didn’t used to like it when athletes thanked God after victories as well. However, I missed the point. Tim is not saying God wanted his team to win more. What Tim is saying is that it’s not about him. God gave Tim the gift of athletic ability in order to glorify him and not only is Tim thanking him for these gifts, but most importantly, he’s actually using these gifts to glorify God, spread the Gospel, and model the love of Christ so others can see and will be drawn to Christ’s love by what he does both on and off the field.

Just like speaking in a tongue (gibberish), what good is the gift of athletic ability if you are only using it to benefit yourself and for your own selfish desires and not to bring glory to God and bless others? I’m very passionate about the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The FCA’s vision is “to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.” Tim embodies this. He is impacting others for Christ through sport and the athletic abilites God his given him just as God is instructing us to do in 1 Corinthians 10 and 1 Corinthians 14.

Let’s learn from this and ask ourselves today the following questions. How can we use the gifts God has given us (and he’s given us all gifts) to glorify him? How can we spread the Gospel as Jesus instructed us in Matthew 28:19? How can we help others know him and his saving grace on the cross wherever he has placed us whether that be in our home, neighborhood, athletic field/court, and yes, even our workplace? How can we make wherever we are a mission field for him and his glory?


1 Corinthians 10

    Since I last wrote two weeks ago, we have finished the book of Acts and are now reading 1 Corinthians together.  In today’s reading, our focus is on chapter 10. This chapter has two primary themes:  it is a strong warning against idolatry, and an equally strong encouragement to glorify God.

    Paul begins by warning the Corinthian people against putting anything – another person, an object, a behavior – in God’s rightful place.  He mentions sexual immorality, testing God, and…grumbling.  Paul writes, “We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.”  (1 Corinthians 10: 10)  Grumbling?  When I’m overwhelmed, I can be a good grumbler.  A really good grumbler, actually.  I try not to, but it happens more often than I’d like to admit.  So, reading Paul’s words about grumbling and idolatry really made me think.  How is grumbling a form of idolatry?  Personally, I grumble when I think that I should be treated better, or that a situation should have turned out differently.  Basically, I grumble when I’m making everything about me.  Ouch.  Right?  What should I do – what should we do – when we are tempted to grumble?  This is what I’m going to do:  since I grumble when I feel overwhelmed, I’m going to do a better job asking for help.  There are plenty of people in my life who are ready and willing to help me – and I’m pretty sure it is impossible for me to request help and to grumble at the same time.

    Next, Paul gives his readers hope.  He explains that even though we will face temptation as a follower of Christ, God is faithful and will always – always – provide us with an escape route from that temptation.  He says, “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”  (1 Corinthians 10:13)  Did you catch that God provides us with the way (ESV)?  One way?  How, then, do we know what that way is?  I believe that He is The Way.  We stay close to Him.  We read His word.  We pray.  Then, we will be less likely to bend to temptations, and when we do – and we will, because we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) – we will be more likely to quickly glimpse that one specific escape route:  the one that leads directly back to him.

    Paul’s last words in this chapter are both beautiful and challenging:  “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  (1 Corinthians 10:21).  I remember when I was a new mom, hearing a speaker suggest that when we performed the more mundane tasks of motherhood – like changing diapers and washing toilets – we should praise God that He has given us the ability to do those things, and consider our daily chores a privilege.  I remember jumping on that bandwagon right away -only to forget a day or an hour later, and begin grumbling to myself in my head.  With perspective, and age, I’ve come to think of this verse in a different way.   Now, throughout the day, I praise Him for the privilege of walking through my life with Him.   I seek to glorify His name by doing the work that He has called me to do each day.  Without grumbling.