Dr Ben Carson, The Prayerful Politician

Dr Benjamin S. Carson (63) had a childhood dream of becoming a physician, however, growing up poor in the 1950s in Detroit, with low self esteem and in a single parent household, the odds were certainly not in his favour. But Ben’s mother, having only completed grade three herself, challenged her two children to strive for success by focusing on education.
She encouraged her boys to reach beyond their meagre circumstances through reading and building their knowledge of the world. As he began to appreciate reading, Ben’s grades improved dramatically and he started to develop what would become a life-long appreciation for  learning. Life wasn’t smooth sailing though – Carson relates in his memoir, that in his youth he had a violent temper. Once, at age 14 he nearly stabbed a friend during a fight…
A changed man
”The knife blade struck the young man’s belt buckle with such force it broke and of course, he fled in terror. But I was even more terrified because it dawned upon me that at that moment I was trying to kill somebody over nothing.
I fell on my knees in the bathroom and started praying. I just said, ‘Lord, there’s got to be something better, I can’t control this.’ And there was a Bible, and I picked the Bible up and it just opened to the book of Proverbs, and I started reading and there were all these verses about anger and what happens to angry people. And I stayed in there for hours reading and contemplating and praying, and I came to an understanding during that time, that to react, to lash out, was not really a sign of strength.
It was a sign of weakness. When I came out of the bathroom after three hours, I was a different person, and I never had a problem with my temper since then.”
A career of service to others
Ben excelled in high school and upon completion, went on to attend college at Yale University where he met Candy, the young lady who would become his wife. After graduation, Ben would work as an X-ray technician, a bank teller, a school bus driver, a supervisor for highway cleanup crews, and a crane operator in a steel factory, before being accepted into the Michigan Medical School.
A world renown doctor
Ben and Candy were married, and after graduating medical school, Ben moved his family to Baltimore where he performed his residency training at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University Medical Centre. In 2013 Carson retired, and today he is emeritus professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery, and paediatrics at Johns Hopkins.
Some of Dr Carson’s career highlights include the first and only successful separation of craniopagus (Siamese) twins joined at the back of the head in 1987, the first completely successful separation of type-2 vertical craniopagus twins in 1997 in South Africa, and the first successful placement of an intrauterine shunt for a hydrocephalic twin.
“Even when I don’t operate, I pray because I feel that God is the ultimate source of all wisdom,” said Carson, “quite frankly, as a neurosurgeon, there’s a lot of emphasis on technical ability, but I believe that that’s something that can be taught, but wisdom comes from God and I think that it’s something that you have to seek.”
A sincere Christian
A committed and outspoken follower of Christ, Carson has served as an Adventist local elder and Sabbath school teacher. But he attends other churches. “I spend just as much time in non-Seventh-day Adventist churches because I’m not convinced that the denomination is the most important thing,” he told RNS in 1999. “I think it’s the relationship with God that’s most important.”
An influential leader
In 2001, Dr. Carson was named by CNN and TIME Magazine as one of the nation’s 20 foremost physicians and scientists. That same year, he was selected by the Library of Congress as one of 89 “Living Legends.” In 2008, Carson was presented with the Ford’s Theatre Lincoln Medal by President Bush at the White House.  
Later that year he was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian honour in America. Dr Carson has also been recognised by Harvard’s Centre for Public Leadership as one of America’s Best Leaders, and in 2009, the award-winning movie “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story,” starring Cuba Gooding Jr, premiered on TV.
A philanthropist
Carson Scholars Fund is arguably his most widely impactful accomplishment to date. Founded by Ben and his wife in 1994, the fund addresses the education crisis in the United States. When Ben and his wife, Candy, read a research study about the state of education in America, they were alarmed by the findings. The study showed that the nation’s students ranked #21 out of 22 countries; next to the bottom of the list in science and maths. Furthermore, the Carsons observed that many school display cases were filled with large trophies paying tribute to their sports teams’ achievements, while academic honour students only received a pin or certificate.
The Carson’s felt compelled to take action. They believed that if children could be taught early to excel in school, they would stay motivated and have a higher chance of educational success later in life. The Carson Scholars Fund was built on these principles, and it rewards young people of all backgrounds for exceptional academic and humanitarian accomplishments.
A gifted speaker
After delivering a widely publicised speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, Carson gained international acclaim for his forthright views. He became a popular conservative figure for his critiques on social and political issues. (His speech which chastened President Obama – who was sitting in the room – was controversial, yet hailed by many as a brave and necessary move).
A prospective president
In August 2014, at a meeting attended by a group of his closest friends and advisers at his home, Dr Carson announced his intention to form a political action committee as a means to “…further engage with the American people in the democratic process of supporting the best and the brightest candidates for political office in the upcoming midterms.”  
This year Carson entered the US 2016 election race, hopeful that he will make a dent against the (liberal) Democrat’s campaign. His success in this endeavour remains to be seen, but for now we pray for him to continue to stand for Biblical values and his Christian faith. We pray that he will hear from God and walk in the path set before him with courage, conviction and compassion.
In the wake of Obama’s irresponsible leadership, his far-reaching flawed foreign policy and his hyper-liberal agendas, America stands desperate for new leadership. Perhaps Ben Carson is the Daniel for that nation… 
The US Elections: Why Care?
It’s been said that when America sneezes, the whole world catches flu. The decisions made by their Administration have monumental consequences both domestically and abroad. We need to pray fervently for Obama as he serves his final term in Office. As Ben Carson succinctly said: “Many well-meaning Americans have bought into the PC speech code, thinking that by being extra careful not to offend anyone we will achieve unity. What they fail to realise is that this is a false unity that prevents us from talking about important issues and is a Far Left strategy to paralyse us while they change our nation…We can help our nation quite a bit if we refrain from getting into our respective corners and throwing hand grenades at each other, and instead try to understand the other’s viewpoint, reject the stifling of political correctness, and engage in intelligent civil discussion.”
By Jackie Georgiou

Painless Childbearing Is Possible

When a pregnant woman anticipates the delivery of her child, she is often filled with fear and dread. The horror stories told to her by her friends as well as many movies, paint the picture of childbirth as a painful, dreadful and traumatic experience.
The fear of pain
A Biblical principle (Job 3:25) is that what you fear will come upon you. This is true even in childbirth: the fear of pain can cause a painful delivery with many subsequent complications.
When you have fear, your brain stimulates a stress reaction in your body which was originally designed by God as a survival mechanism to help you in an emergency situation. During this reaction, stress hormones are released which bring about various changes in your body to enable you to react quickly so that you can either fight off that danger or run from it – hence it is called the ‘fight or flight response’.
In this fight or flight state, blood flow is shunted away from organs that are not important in an emergency i.e. blood is directed away from your skin, digestive system (no time to eat a hamburger when you have to run for your life!) and your uterus – and the blood is instead sent to your brain, heart and muscles in your arms and legs so that you can think quickly and are geared up to either fight or run from the danger (flight).
As a result the uterus does not get enough blood and oxygen…and this lack of blood supply is what causes the pain (another example of pain caused by a lack of blood supply is chest pain in a heart attack where the blood vessels supplying the heart are blocked). The more pain is experienced, the more anxiety it causes, which results in more pain and the whole process is exacerbated.

Labour becomes exhausting
The lack of blood supply to the uterus makes the labour become inefficient because the uterus does not have the energy to effectively contract and push the baby out like it is meant to. Therefore the labour is prolonged and the mother becomes exhausted as a result of this time lag and pain…with adverse effects and complications on her and the baby.

Is painful labour a curse?
As Christians we often incorrectly believe that a woman has to expect pain in child birth because that is part of the curse put on women when Eve sinned in Genesis 3:16: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children.”
Firstly, when Jesus died on the Cross, He became a curse for us so that our sins may be forgiven and that by His stripes we would be healed and made whole. There is power in the Blood of Jesus to break all curses over our lives including the curse on child bearing. We are relieved from that curse when we appropriate that blessing by faith and obedience.
“Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken and afflicted by God. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded Him] we are healed and made whole.” Isa 53:4-5.

Hard work, but not traumatic
According to the Strong’s Concordance, the words in Genesis 3:16 which talk about the woman’s sorrow being multiplied during child birth are not referring to pain as we understand it. When we use the word pain, we equate it to the pain that we would, for example get when we sustain an injury. However that is not what this Scripture is referring to.
The word actually comes from “toil” which is also what Adam had to do when the curse was put on him for his sin. The word toil also means “pang” which is a pressure that comes – in other words a contraction during labour. Therefore a woman has to toil, or work, hard during labour (contractions) to deliver her baby, but it does not have to be painful. When you bend your elbow for example, the movement was brought about by the contraction of your bicep muscle – was that painful? Neither does contraction of the uterus muscle in labour need to be painful!

God intended to accomplish a deep work in a woman during childbirth In 1 Timothy 2:15 it says that a woman shall be saved in child bearing. The word “saved” in that Scripture is not referring to salvation – women do not gain their salvation through having children! That word “saved” means that a woman shall be “healed, preserved and made whole” through child-bearing. When a woman goes from the
beginning to the end of the child birth process without some extreme medical intervention or drugs, there is a deep work that is accomplished within her body and soul that is unparalleled to anything in the world that a woman could ever experience.

A beautiful experience
Here is part of one lady’s testimony who had a beautiful and painless birth which illustrates that deep work that God intended to accomplish in a woman during childbirth: “I don’t condemn anybody who had epidurals because I would have been the first candidate to raise my hand for pain relief, but it’s just that I didn’t need it. The way that Jesus Christ met me in those moments is difficult to talk about without getting emotional. It restored to me my womanhood in a way that I didn’t know I needed to be restored. It took me to a place in my identity and in my being where there was a strengthening in who I am.”
“When I have times in my life where I’m having a really rough day or am going through a difficult period – this sounds so bizarre – but what I think about to encourage myself in the Lord is my birthing experience! Most people don’t want to think about it ever again! But the way God met me and brought [revelation to] me through trusting Him through that experience – I’m a better woman because of it. I have more to give  to others because of what happened in that birthing time. The Word of God says that you’ll be healed, preserved and made whole – that’s what the Lord intended during child birth. I don’t know how He came up with the idea to use that in a birthing experience, but He did and I believe that that is what the enemy wants to rob from women.”

Restoring what God originally intended
This knowledge is for God to come and restore to women what the enemy tried to cheat them of in child birth, which is being healed, preserved and made whole! Visit our website for a free book with a more in depth teaching on how to apply Biblical principles so that giving birth can be a painless and beautiful experience.

Dr. Michelle Strydom founded Eagles’ Wings Ministries. Enquiries for her materials (Books and DVDs), or to book her for a conference, please contact Charmaine: 082 920 7826 / cj.eagleswings@gmail.com. For references to medical journals which support the information in this article, read the article online at www.joymag.co.za. See www.eagleswings.co.zw for free resources and articles.

Canadian Medical Journal: Dr. Nancy K. Lowe: Explaining the pain of active labour: The importance of maternal confidence; Research in Nursing & Health; Volume 12, Issue 4, pages 237–245, August 1989. Article first published online: 23 JAN 2007
Canadian Medical Association Journal: Reduction of pain in childbirth by the alleviation of anxiety during pregnancy., 156(6), 831–835.
Journal of Perinatal education. Sharron S. Humenick, PhD, RN, LCCE, FAAN and Olivia S. Howell, MPH; Perinatal Experiences: The Association of Stress, Childbearing, Breastfeeding, and Early Mothering; 12(3): 16–41; 2003
DePunzio, C., Neri, E., Metelli, P., Bianchi, M., Venticinue, M., Ferdeghini, M., & Fioretti, P. (1994). The relationship between maternal relaxation and plasma beta-endorphin levels during parturition. The relationship between maternal relaxation and plasma beta-endorphin levels during parturition. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, 15(4), 205–210.


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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is primarily an anxiety disorder characterised by repeated thoughts, ideas, or sensations (obsessions), accompanied by driven behaviour (compulsions) aimed at getting rid of the unwanted thoughts. The compulsions bring temporary relief, which is very quickly followed by even more anxiety. This then becomes a vicious cycle.
An example is the person who has to check that the stove is off several times a day – as the fear of burning the house down creates so much anxiety that repeated checking becomes a compulsion to alleviate the anxiety – which of course never happens.

What kind of perfectionist are you?
The more severe the disorder, the more rigid and ritualistic the behaviour, which can so impede a person’s daily functionality that normal work and relationships are often impossible.
Perfectionists can experience different levels of obsessive thoughts concerning how things ought to be done, and they often display some compulsive behaviour to ensure that their high standards are continuously met. Research shows that there are two types of perfectionism:
Adaptive perfectionism – this is seen as a more healthy perfectionism characterised by high standards – both of the self and of others. Healthy perfectionists are conscientious and goal-directed individuals with an aptitude for delivering results and effectively organising themselves and everyone around them. They are often high achievers in society.
Maladaptive perfectionism – this is the unhealthy kind where a person is plagued by obsessive worrying about making mistakes in the past, present or future. They experience a lot of self-doubt and are concerned about being acceptable to other people. They are often labelled “control freaks” by their families. The high level of control helps them to alleviate their anxiety around what they could do wrong. Most often these people have low self-esteem and high levels of stress. In severe cases it can result in other mental illnesses including OCD.

Markers for OCD:

Always wanting to do things 100% correct and in a very specific way
Irrational thoughts of controlling the outcome of life events if you “just do it right” – like preventing the death of a loved one if you check that the doors are locked and the alarm is on in a ritualistic and obsessive way
Doing things over and over again to make sure that there won’t be some catastrophe as a result of your mistake
Obsessions and irrational beliefs – for example that you should control your thoughts, walk on a certain side of the road, that one has to rid oneself of germs (by washing your hands compulsively) to prevent a deadly disease, ‘rules’ about certain behaviours, excessive hoarding of items in case they are needed for later use and irrational counting of items/steps
Inability to get rid of unwanted thoughts and behaviours, resulting in even less self-confidence, lower self-esteem and more controlling behaviour to compensate.

It is important to note that symptoms vary, can come and go or can change over time. It can also worsen with age. People often resort to ineffective coping mechanisms to control their thoughts and behaviours like using drugs or alcohol to combat their feelings of anxiety.

What can be done?
People with OCD benefit greatly from therapeutic interventions aimed at changing their irrational thoughts and behaviour. The most effective of the therapeutic methods is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This aims at gradually reprogramming thoughts around the triggers, as well as coping with the anxiety and resisting the urge to engage in the compulsive behaviour. Cognitive restructuring helps one to rationally evaluate beliefs that create fears and compulsions.
From a Christian counselling perspective, we are reminded of the many Scriptures telling us not to fear, to renew our minds and to take every thought captive in obedience to Christ.

The Holy Spirit will help you
With the help of the Holy Spirit – who gives us the ability to control ourselves and our urges (compulsions), as well as a trusted counsellor who can offer some useful CBT techniques, it is possible to combat unhealthy kinds of perfectionism and obsessive-compulsive tendencies. In severe cases the need for appropriate medication in addition to the above might be necessary. Other techniques that are especially helpful are:

Stress management techniques like exercising, deep breathing, following a nutritional diet and avoiding anxiety inducing drugs like caffeine
Support groups to share problems and gain fresh perspective on one’s ideas and problems have shown to be highly effective
Practising mindfulness and gratitude has been shown to decrease anxiety levels. In addition one has to practice giving up the control and hand it to God. 

ROCHÉ SNYMAN is a Counselling Psychologist and a part time lecturer at the Institute of Christian Psychology. For more information call  011 827 7611 or www.icp.org.za

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Questions About Healing

The fact that God heals miraculously has never been in question. Throughout Old and New Testament times, and right to the modern era, miracles of healing have taken place and even the dead are raised by the Power of God.
Divine Healing is one of the most precious truths taught in the Bible, and yet one of the most debated, as people seek an answer to this question: Why don’t we see these kind of miracles anymore in our normal daily experience?
Faith or formulas?
Some believe God has changed His tactics and like King Asa of old, resort first to the physicians. “And in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady was severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but the physicians” 2 Chron 16:12-13.
Others treat God like a “bubble-gum machine” – put in the right coinage and the goods are automatically delivered! Their faith is based on assumption or, perhaps, presumption and they forget that the Lord is a Personal and Sovereign God who responds to faith and not formulas.
Is healing for all?
Is it wrong to pray for people on the basis of faith in God’s Word? The ministry of Jesus was characterised by great healing miracles. Christ the Healer commands us to “heal the sick” Matt 10:8.
The Gifts of the Spirit for use by believers to influence people for the Lord include “Gifts of Healing” 1 Cor 12:7-11. Believers are told plainly that “they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover” Mark 16:18. James tells us that the “Prayer of Faith” will save the sick (James 5:15).
Healing is very obviously part of the Christian message, but we need to be clear about the personal Will of God for each individual. Problems arise when we presume to tell people they are healed without a clear word from God.
The Apostle Paul wrote that he was buffeted by a messenger of satan and he prayed earnestly for deliverance. He never assumed his healing on the basis of his prayer. He waited until God spoke to Him. The Lord told him of His higher purposes in that instance. No prayer or casting out of devils can cancel out the sovereignty of God in the life of an individual. Paul heard from Heaven before he
accepted his problem as God’s Will for him at that time (2 Cor 12:7-10).
Submission to God’s will is key
When we wait on the Lord until we are sure of His revealed Will, we will easily receive from His Hand. Israel walked into the Red Sea on the strength of God’s personal word to them. The Egyptians tried the same thing with disastrous results. One man’s faith is often another man’s presumption. We must be led by the Spirit of God at all times (Romans 8:14).
A balanced approach and understanding in these matters will result in the Name of the Lord being glorified at all times, His power and compassion revealed, and His Will submitted to. 
Is Healing in the Atonement of Christ?
The Bible teaches clearly that healing is most definitely provided for in the Atonement of Christ. The Gospel of Matthew records an instance when Jesus prayed for Peter’s mother-in-law, who was instantly healed. News spread like wildfire and soon crowds of sick people were clamouring to get into the house.
Matthew 8:17 records that He healed every one of them and Matthew goes on to state that this was in fulfilment of a prophecy contained in the Old Testament book of Isaiah.
Jesus bares our sickness
Isaiah wrote of the Coming Messiah and said: “Surely He hath borne our grief, and carried out sorrows” Isa 53:4. The word translated as ‘grief’ by the Authorised King James Version is the Hebrew word ‘Kholee’. It refers to ‘sickness’ (Chalah – to be weak, sick, or afflicted.) Compare Deuteronomy 7:15, 28:61, 1 Kings 17:17, 2 Kings 1:2 and 8:8 where the same word is used.
The word translated as ‘sorrows’ comes from the Hebrew word ‘Makob’, which refers to physical suffering and is translated as ‘pain’ in Job 33:19 and 51:8. Matthew quoted that verse literally from the original Hebrew: “…Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses” Matt 8:17.
Our health is guaranteed
1860 Revivalist Andrew Murray (Divine Healing, pages 99 and 119) put it this way: “It is not said only that the Lord’s Righteous Servant had borne our sins, but also that He has borne our sicknesses. Thus His bearing our sicknesses forms an integral part of the Redeemer’s work, as well as bearing our sins. The body, soul and spirit have been created to serve together as a habitation of God…the sickly condition of the body is – as well as that of the soul/spirit – a consequence of sin, and that is what Jesus is come to bear, to expiate, and to conquer.”
Our healing was definitely secured by Christ the Healer. While we do not always experience physical healing in this life, we may be absolutely sure that we will finally be completely healed when we receive our resurrection body. 
While we understand from the Bible that Christ paid the full price for our sin and our sicknesses, we also know that not everybody receives Divine Healing in this lifetime.

There are many reasons some are not healed. Here are just seven:

Failure to exercise genuine faith. Some mistake their own ability to believe with God-given faith. Faith embraces far more than mental assent. There is a vast difference between ‘Faith Healing’ and ‘Divine Healing’ – they are poles apart.
Wrong teaching. Many have been taught that sickness is “the chastening of the Lord” and that is their lot in life. Strangely, those same teachers do everything in their power to regain their health via doctors, medicine, operations, etc. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God and meditating on Scriptures, such as James 5:14, Matthew 8:2-3, 1 John 5:14, Mark 11:22.
Unforgiven sin. If sickness comes our way, we need to search our hearts first to make sure we are not harbouring unforgiveness or other sin. “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” James 5:16.
Broken health laws. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made”, it is true, but we need to recognise that our physical bodies and minds have limitations. Abuse in any area will lead to problems.
Unknown reasons. Unexplained suffering in our bodies may have a variety of causes and earnest seeking of the mind and will of God is required. Compare the experiences of Trophemus (2 Tim 4:20), Epaphroditus (Phi 2:25-30), Timothy (1 Tim 5:23), Paul (2 Cor 12:7-10), Early Christian Martyrs (Heb 11:35) and Elisha (2 Kings 13:14,21).
Unbelief and stubborn refusal to believe God. The Bible notes that Christ the Healer could not do many miracles in His home town because of the stubborn unbelief of the people of Nazareth.
The sovereignty of God. He has provided forgiveness for the sinner and healing for the body as a blessing resulting from the Atonement of Christ. However, He chooses at times to supersede (or transcend) both natural and spiritual laws, and act in His sovereign right to accomplish His Will.

God’s Will is sovereign
God’s sovereign will must be taken into consideration in our approach to the Lord for anything, including healing of the body. But we must never forget that exceptions do not alter the rule expressed in the prayer found in 3 John 1:2: “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 
There are many means and methods of ministering healing to the sick and suffering so it is important to be led always by the Spirit of God.

Here are seven ways to receiving healing as taught in the Scriptures:

Prayer. James 5:13,16 says if anyone is afflicted, let him pray. The continual fervent prayer of a righteous person is very effective. It is good to seek the Lord first before turning to other means for help. Prayer accompanied by fasting is very powerful.
Laying on of hands. Scripture encourages the laying on of hands. The Bible says every believer has the “Life of God” in him or her and we may impart healing to others by this means. The quickening, life-giving power of God may be transmitted when hands are laid on the sick. Jesus felt “virtue” go out of Him when a woman touched the hem of His garment (Mark 5:29-30). Consider Hebrews 6:2, Mark 16:18, Mark 6:5, Luke 4:40, Luke 13:13, Acts 5:28.
Anointing with Oil. This method is explained in James 5:13-16. It is the duty of the sick to call for the Elders to anoint them with oil and it is the duty of the Elders to obey this Scriptural injunction. Compare Mark 6:13. Oil in the Scriptures is always symbolic of the Holy Spirit and clearly signifies the work of the Spirit in healing (Acts 10:38).
A Point of Contact. Mention is made in Acts 19:11-12 of special miracles being wrought by Paul through the use of handkerchiefs and other items of clothing. God has used simple means to inspire faith for healing. In one instance Peter’s shadow was the point of contact (Acts 5:15). The woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment received healing. The dead man who touched Elisha’s bones sprung back to life (2 Kings 13:14,20,21). The Communion Service is yet another example – 1 Corinthians 11:29-32.
The Written Word (the Bible). There is power in the Word of God, both written and spoken. It is a supernatural Book with a supernatural anointing and when we speak His Word in faith, mighty things happen. Compare Psalm 107:20, John 6:63, Jeremiah 1:12, 1 Kings 8:56, Matthew 21:33, Mark 11:22-24.
Praise. The importance of praise can never be over-stressed. “God inhabits the praises of His people” Ps 22:3. This is a most powerful way of expressing your faith and trust in His Written Word and His faithful character. Praise the Lord for your healing, purchased two thousand years ago on Calvary. Appropriate the accomplished work and receive your healing.
Confess Your Healing. We must learn to take God at His Word. In the same way we “confess” our salvation and faith follows (Romans 10:9), so the truth of God’s Holy Word works in us as we believe and confess it. Our confession, of course, must be subject to the sovereign Will of God for our lives. Faith to confess only comes when we know what God’s Will is. 

Can we expect to experience healing in this life? Yes, but always subject to the perfect Will of God for our individual lives. Some believe it is only the Will of God to heal us if He makes it known to us. I believe it is always the Will of God to heal us…unless He reveals otherwise. The Lord’s sovereignty and our human responsibility to receive and apply the Word of God by faith are both important as we consider the question of healing. 
Val Waldeck is an author, Bible teacher and Kindle Publisher: www.valwadeck.com. For more information on this topic, read the book Christ The Healer by F.F. Bosworth. Look for it in your local bookstore or find it on Amazon.

From Exhausted To Energised

A good portion of my work these days involves coaching and mentoring leaders, both in the United States and around the world. Increasingly, whether I’m speaking with leaders at home or abroad, at Willow Creek or in other circles of my life, I hear the same words repeated over and over: exhausted, overwhelmed, overscheduled, anxious, isolated, dissatisfied. It’s a common problem – young and old, rich and poor, professionals and parents, women and men. And it’s a global issue – I’ve heard these words in English and in [firstworld and countless other developing nations].

Simplify your life
It was startling to hear these words so often, that made me realise that, as leaders and Christ followers, we needed to address this situation. So whenever I had a chance, I began openly discussing burnout, stress, and dissatisfaction. My gut told me the topics might strike a chord with people, because they certainly struck a chord with me. I grossly underestimated the impact!
As I explored the concerns that leave people feeling isolated, overwhelmed, and exhausted, and as I sought to formulate a framework for how to tackle the diverse complexities of these issues, I began using the term ‘simplify’. How do we simplify our lives? The term stuck. The very word seemed to energise people.

Jesus urges us to slow down
Of all the people Jesus interacted with during His three-year teaching ministry, Scripture records only one person whom He redirected in the area of simplicity: a good friend of His, a woman named Martha.
The incident I’m about to describe took place as the demands on Jesus were growing. The more He taught, the more people wanted from Him – more healings, more miracles, more of everything He could offer. His days were increasingly packed. So occasionally, Jesus called a time-out and retreated to the serenity of the guest quarters in Bethany, where He could wind down for a day or two and refuel in the company of His close friends.
Here’s how Luke describes one such visit: “As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only One. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her’ Luke 10:38-42.

Are you too busy?
You can see the dynamics of this situation shaping up from a mile away. Mary and Martha have had no time to prepare for this drop-in visit by Jesus and twelve dusty disciples. But Jesus feels comfortable enough in His friendship with them that He stops by for some replenishing time.
Mary sits at Jesus’ feet. Meanwhile, Martha has busied herself in the kitchen getting a meal going. She is frantically trying to play the role of accommodating hostess, tending to the physical needs of Jesus and His disciples – appetizers, entrées, and drinks. It begins to grate on her that Mary is simply lounging in the other room with Jesus, catching up on the latest events.
After a while, Martha snaps. She loses it. She’s clearly ticked. We don’t know whether Mary has missed, or has chosen to ignore, her sister’s hints that she needs help, but at a certain point, Martha bursts into the room and interrupts the conversation Mary is having with Jesus. She doesn’t address Mary; she addresses Jesus directly with an opening salvo: “Lord, don’t You care?”

Be still and sit at His feet
The irony here is thick. “Don’t You care?” she asks the Lord of the universe, the one who left Heaven’s splendour to put on human flesh and descend [into the earth]; who has been out on the road, teaching and healing and serving others until He’s absolutely exhausted; and who will soon bleed and die for the Redemption of everyone in the world, including Martha.
I picture Martha in this scene with a wooden spoon in her hand. But Jesus doesn’t escalate the conflict. He doesn’t power up on Martha. He doesn’t say, “How dare you speak to the Son of God this way…” According to the text, He simply says her name twice: “Martha, Martha.” In other words, “Easy does it, Martha. Take a chill pill.” Then, with genuine kindness, He makes an observation: “You are worried and upset about many things.” He can tell she’s overwhelmed, overscheduled, and exhausted – the very words that define our culture. And He invites her to put down her spoon and take a couple of deep breaths.
What do you really need?
In Luke’s text, Jesus tells Martha something that I, too, often need to be reminded of: “Few things are needed – indeed only One.” Martha was missing what mattered most, but not Mary. She got it. “Mary has chosen the good part,” Jesus says, “and I’m not going to take it away from her…I will not send her into the kitchen to do a dozen things that don’t really matter in the big picture.” By affirming Mary’s choice, Jesus invites Martha to set down her apron and follow her sister’s example.
Your heart and mine yearn for an antidote to all the ‘driven-ness’ and busyness in our lives. The antidote isn’t getting it all done in the kitchen – or the office, or the mall. The antidote is leaving that stuff – sometimes undone – to sit down for an unrushed conversation with Jesus. What a terrific story. In a few short words, Jesus teaches us about His values and priorities.

What sacrifices are you making?
Simplified living is about more than doing less. It’s being who God called us to be, with a wholehearted, single-minded focus. It’s walking away from innumerable lesser opportunities in favour of the few to which we’ve been called and for which we’ve been created.
It’s a lifestyle that allows us, when our heads hit the pillow at night, to reflect with gratitude that our day was well invested and the varied responsibilities of our lives are in order. If we don’t change how we live, our overcomplicated world will begin to feel frighteningly normal. We will become accustomed to life at a frantic pace, no longer able to discriminate between the important and the unessential. And that’s the danger: When we fritter away our one and only life doing things that don’t really matter, we sacrifice the things that do matter.

Depleted, distracted, discouraged
The path to simplicity is not for the faint of heart. It’s a process that requires total honesty. So let me pose the question: How depleted are you? How long has it been since you have felt fully replenished?
When we’re connected with God and we’re secure in our identity as His daughters and sons, we can spend all our energy on stuff that meets God’s agenda for our lives, rather than on image management. Life is simpler when we have only one agenda to meet: God’s. For me, the number one priority in my daily, weekly, monthly, and annual rhythm is to stay as closely connected with God as I possibly can. It is by far the biggest replenisher in my life. 
BILL HYBELS is the founder of Willowcreek Community Church. This extract is from his book Simplify’. It offers ten practical chapters that will help you to simplify and unclutter your life. For more info: www.willowcreeksa.co.za
Bill Hybels will be speaking via Podcast together with several other international business leaders at the 2015 Global Leadership Summit in South Africa. See www.willowcreek.com/gls/i_southafrica.asp for more details.

Family Feuds

Fighting within families is nearly as old as time itself. Soon after the creation of the world we find the first-born earthling killing the second-born earthling over some perceived slight. Incidentally, Abel was wholly unaware that he had offended his brother Cain to warrant a cold-blooded murder. It nearly seems as if this incident set a precedent for the future of mankind.

God and man
Perhaps it would do us well to consider the nature and purpose of a family, and then from there see what we can do to preserve this precious unit. Essentially God, who is love, created humans because He longed for relationship. The very nature of love requires that we have to love, and also be loved in return. This reciprocal exchange forms the basis of all relationships, and in the mind of God, sealed the purpose and function for His creation.
We read in Genesis that this perfect relationship lasted for a while, where the Lord is found to walk in the cool of the day with Adam and Eve. However, we are soon introduced to satan, who is pathologically jealous of the relationship between God and man, and we also see how cunningly he puts a wedge between the Lord and the crown of His creation.

A history of hatred
The plan of God was that man was to multiply, increase, be fruitful, and to be the ranking authority over all the creatures on earth; the earth still belongs to God! In essence man was to rule, subdue and reign on earth as a steward of His property, and to help him in this task he could rely on his family. But that prideful fallen angel is still at work to bring about disunity and to dismantle as best he can the family unit of God’s intention. The history of mankind is filled with stories of family feuds, and leaves in its wake hate, bitterness, unforgiveness and death – this is far removed from the original blueprint for mankind. Writers and film-makers have immortalised many tales that at its core have family fighting as the theme.

Satan brings destruction
God’s idea of family gets a renewed focus in the New Testament, where believers are again encouraged to call Him Abba Father, and where they are referred to as children of God. The family unit again became the focus and purpose behind mankind’s existence. Yet, still the enemy of mankind schemes to break up the unity upon which God commands a blessing. In most cases the basis for disunity in many families is small and insignificant issues, which through pride and the refusal to forgive, soon blossom into a full-scale storm of anger, strife and hate.

Disunity in the Church
The New Testament Church is also likened to a family, all being brothers and sisters in Christ. It is rather sad that within this family there seem to be constant and persistent fights that bring dishonour to the Father. One hears about congregations that are openly hostile to one another, denominations that will not tolerate those with a different view, and ministers publically attacking their brothers for insignificant issues.
Often ministers are ruled by them striving after numbers (members of their church family), boasting about the financial income they are able to generate, or even about the impact they have in the local community. The World Christian Encyclopaedia cites 33 000+ total ‘Christian’ denominations. I do not decry denominations per se, however, when one considers that a denomination is basically defined by its doctrine (set of beliefs and interpretation of Scripture), and that many denominations were birthed through a church split (family feud), it does put a damper on the celebration. Now, what is true for congregations (of all denominations), is also true of other Christian organisation and companies, and one is constantly exposed to stories of feuding in the media. Ultimately I am decrying the dishonour within our Christian family, not only towards one another, but also towards our Father.
I often wonder how it was possible for 33 000 separate belief systems to have been birthed out of one Cross, one Death and one Commission, and all this over a mere 2015 years! Imagine the impact of a ‘single family’, with a singular vision and purpose, on a society! Imagine the significant contribution this family would be able to make in the lives of people! Imagine a family united in love, with no in-fighting, grudges or offenses, but with a single focus of sharing that love! If we are able to imagine this, then nothing we can imagine will be able to predict the response from God!

Tell the world about His love
It is time that the family of God place focus on what really matters: tell the world about His love. In love there is no disunity, hate or striving, but everything opposite to this and more!
So, are you ready to look at your own life and opinions, and restore those relationships that have suffered either consciously or unconsciously? Are you ready to forego your perceptions for the sake of focussing on simply loving God and others? Are you ready to decree that the greatest thing in life is to love and be loved in return? 
By Waldo Malan – River Ministries