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A Testimony of Faith

In this third and last blog on faith, I am so very pleased and honored to have as my guest Sallie Metzger. Sallie is a dear friend and member of the church I attend. A few months ago, Sallie was told that she has breast cancer. It is not news that any woman wants to hear, especially those with young children, like Sallie.

Sallie has the most amazing faith of any person I know. Not once has she faltered. Not once has she questioned God (at least publically). Sallie has written a few journal entries since this part of her life started a few week ago and she has kindly agreed to letting me publish here. Enjoy Sallie’s blog for today and be encouraged!

My Dear CTK Family,

You have so blessed and cared for me with your encouraging words and prayers and I am so humbled and grateful. I begin my second round of chemo (of six -21 day cycles) this Thursday and I would ask you to continue to uphold me in prayer and also my husband Richard and our three boys; Thomas, Georgie and Charlie. My parents, Bud and Virginia, will be here and I am especially hopeful that all will go well as I know that if I were to have a hard time, it will be hard for them also. If I may be permitted to increase my request, my brothers Tucker, Ned and Matthew have their own personal struggles over my “situation” and their own trials. Satan has been very busy with my family lately. My personal need at this time is that you would pray especially that all my cell counts be where they need to be so that there is no need to intercede medically and so that no chemotherapy is postponed.

It is not lost on me that the majority of my chemo occurs during Lent. I know nothing with God is arbitrary and certainly not when I’ve handed it over to Him. I know that this has first passed through my Father’s hands and He has said it’s OK for me and that what satan means for my harm, the Creator of the oceans means for my good and for the furthering of His Kingdom. Several people (some of you even) have spoken to me about words they have had in prayer regarding a ministry for me once this trying time is over. In those messages and in my own study, I learn that God Himself really does walk with me each step, guiding and comforting, while training and equipping me for the next path He will set before me. He is ever-deepening my faith and understanding and my compassion for others. He has taught me that just “getting through” is not His desire for me, but that I am to be learning and healing in ways other than just physically; and that I am to overcome and be victorious so that I can take on new work for him. A lesson I am learning, as I daily submit to God’s teaching me in this time, during this Lenten season, is faith in endurance. “And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup…” Matthew 20:23 “… anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:38 {as in, don’t just make it through breast cancer or whatever, but pick it up and follow where I want you to go.} Those are hard, but these I think are exciting views of the prize- “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Rev. 3:5 “To him who overcomes I will grant to seat with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Rev. 3:21 “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” Rev.21:7

Someone wiser than I recently “coached” me to take this posture when facing pain, discomfort, nausea…whatever is the dis-ease, to get on my knees and sacrifice to Jesus telling Him, “You endured SO much for me, I can take this, that is so small in comparison, for you. “ Amen? Which takes me back around to where I began; He is for my benefit and the benefit of His Kingdom so I can make sacrifices and endure for Him, especially during Lent when we are obliged to consider just these things. Thank you for letting me share my walk with you as you uphold me IN my walk.

I am humbled and delighted to be a prayer minister with the Order of St. Luke the Physician and to be called upon to pray for you as you hold me up in prayer. What a tremendous family we have at CTK and I could never express what a blessing you all are to me and to my family. “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” Phil. 1:3

Your sister in Christ,
Sallie

Sallie,
Thank you for sharing with us today! Dave and I continue to pray for you, knowing that God is your Healer!

MARANATHA!

(c) 2010 Edwina Cowgill

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A Gentle Nudge or a Bucket of Cold Water

Have you ever noticed when you are going through an issue that God wants you to learn from it? During that time, many things regarding that matter will come to your attention – sometimes in gentle nudges and sometimes like a bucket of cold water poured over your head. It might be a friend, who has no idea of the problem you face, making a comment relating to what you are walking through; you might read a Scripture or article that speaks to you about your issue or maybe even see a movie that in some way addresses your situation.

If you read my blog from yesterday, you know that I went through what I called a “crisis of faith” a few weeks ago. If you did not get a chance to read it, please go back and do so as it will help you to understand this blog. Hopefully.

Since that crisis has passed, I have read some comments that have spoken to me. I believe there are those of you who also need to hear this, so please read on. Just because our situations may be different, the fear, doubt and lack of faith are the same.

I’m currently reading Desperate Hope: When Faith in God Overcame My Despair by Candi Pearson-Shelton. Here are a number of quotes that I want you to read and allow God to speak to you through these words:

“No, this [your issues] has nothing to do with how strong you are, but everything to do with knowing how strong He is.” (emphasis mine)

The end of our hope can be bitter and bruising, and it certainly gives cause for a crisis of faith…You may well be questioning who it is you’ve been believing this whole time. You may be ready to give it up and move on. I believed God, but I wanted to hope in my human capabilities. I wanted to keep my hope alive in my own plans…but when rubber meets road, we are merely humans with eyes that see in part, not really able to absorb the picture in its entirety. That requires hope in Someone else completely.

“Some may trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will trust
in the name of the Lord our God.” (Ps. 20:7)

Coming to the end of my hope brought me to the beginning of complete hope in Him, no fragments left behind here or there in other ill-chosen places. I found that God sometimes drives us to places that force the end of hope in ourselves so that we place absolute hope in Him. In order for Him to trust us with great things, we have to eventually come to this realization. We need to ultimately trust in the Lord our God. At the end of the day,the trust He places in us is based on the same thing that drives our trust in Him: Himself! I see that it isn’t so much about Him trusting me after all. That has something to do with it for sure. But it has more to do with the fact that He trusts Himself in me. I want to always be found in a place of submission to His power at work in me so that He can place His trust in me, even when it hurts, to carry out His glorious work.” 1

From a sermon presented by Matt Cuthbertson, at the 2004 Convocation of the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church, Laudate Service on June 29:

“When you’re really moving in faith, you’re moving without an escape plan. Faith doesn’t have an escape plan, a back door or a Plan B. You can’t say, ‘God, I’m going to believe for this, and if it doesn’t happen, I’ll do this.” So many times, we build escape plans in our lives in case God doesn’t deliver – because we’ve been hurt in the past. People have let us down or we’ve let ourselves down. Someone asked me, ‘But what do I do when it doesn’t happen?’ I said that this is how I’m going to live: wholeheartedly in faith, without an escape plan. If things don’t go my way, or if I didn’t hear correctly, and things fall apart, I’m going to embrace the pain and look at my life as part of the big picture.

The only thing that will last is the love God has toward us. When you believe for something, hold on to the love that God has shown. If you get crushed, don’t stop living. Don’t put up walls or veils over your heart. You have to keep living with a whole heart, no matter what happens to you, no matter what pain you endure. You must embrace it and see it as part of a larger picture, like Paul did. He called his afflictions – which seem pretty heavy to me – light afflictions, because he saw a bigger weight of glory, a destiny for his life.” (2)

Sometimes God can give me a gentle nudge (or two) and I get it. But sometimes it’s more like a bucket of cold water poured over my head to wake me up. Every day this week has been a bucket-of-cold-water day!

MARANATHA!

(1) Pearson-Shelton, Candi. Desperate Hope: When Faith in God Overcame My Despair. Pages 49, 52-53. David C. Cook Publishing, Colorado Springs, CO.

(2) Cuthbertson, Matt. International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church Convocation. Laudate Service. June 24, 2004.

(c) 2010 Edwina E. Cowgill

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Crisis of Faith

For those of you who don’t know, my sweet husband, Dave, has had numerous health issues for almost three years. It was May 4, 2007, when I first learned that he had been in pain all that week. Dave is a software consultant and normally travels 50 weeks each year. I remember that date specifically because he had come home a couple of days early to help me prepare our house for our first party. We had moved into our house in February of that same year and were finally settled in and ready to entertain. We were expecting about 30-40 people that Saturday evening.

Dave’s pain from that week never abated, in fact, it worsened. After going through many tests, procedures, exams and doctors, Dave’s first surgery was in July of 2007. Since that surgery, he has had a total of six surgeries and all six have been connected in some way to the spine. Two neck surgeries, one back, one hip and surgery on both arms and wrists. It occurs to me at this point, that perhaps it is no coincidence that all of these health problems are some way connected to the spine. The spine is the backbone of the body. It is basically what holds the body up straight and helps to hold the body together, so to speak. The husband is the priest of the home – the “backbone,” if you will. He helps hold the family together. Hmmm…definitely something to think about there. But, back to my original thoughts…Most of the time during these three years I have had all the faith I needed to believe for Dave’s healing. Yes, I questioned why he wasn’t healed, but I never doubted or lacked faith. Until a few weeks ago when I realized I had no faith left. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

A week or two after I realized I no longer had faith to believe for Dave’s healing, my priest’s sermon and article was “When Belief is Not Enough.” Coincidence? I think not. Here is an excerpt from an email I sent to him after his article was published in a local paper:

Your sermon on Sunday and this week’s article are most timely for me. I find
myself in a place I have never been before. Even when my first husband left and when my teenage daughter was pregnant, and all the details and circumstances that surrounded those two situations, I never doubted God’s faithfulness. I never doubted His presence. Yes, there were times of questioning, times of being in a spiritually dry land, but even then, in the deep recesses of my heart, I knew God was there. Now, I am at the point of “I simply cannot believe.”

Dave has been in pain twenty-four hours, seven days a week for two years and nine months. We have prayed for his healing; he has been prayed for by numerous people, he has been anointed with oil and prayed for; and he has been prayed for by people he doesn’t know and who don’t know him. Not only have we not seen any healing of a measurable amount, but in actuality, he is no better and probably some worse than he was almost three years ago when this started. Dave says he has resigned himself that “this is the way it’s going to be.” And I guess that’s where I am because I can no longer believe that God will heal him.

After I wrote and sent this to my priest, I let this situation go. Completely. Let. It. Go. After all, if I no longer had faith to believe for Dave’s healing, why worry about it? Over the next several days I began to notice that I had peace about this situation. I had not done anything different-I hadn’t prayed in a different manner and I certainly hadn’t increased my faith – so why was I at peace? I had let go. Completely. Let. It. Go. And when I did and stopped worrying about Dave’s health, THEN God was able to give me peace. And with peace, comes faith and with faith, comes freedom. I am no longer worried about Dave’s health.

Spine – the backbone of the body. Priest of the home – backbone of the home. Definitely something to think about.

MARANATHA!

(C) 2010 Edwina E. Cowgill

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The Pastor’s Wife


As a child, Jennifer AlLee lived above a mortuary in the heart of Hollywood, California, which may explain her unique outlook on life. Her publishing credits include a contemporary romance novel, The Love of His Brother (November 2007) as well as skits, activity pages, and over one hundred contributions to the popular My Devotions series. She’s an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers and serves as the Nevada Area Coordinator. Jennifer resides in the grace-filled city of Las Vegas with her husband and teenage son. Website: http://www.jenniferallee.com/.

Book Summary:

Maura Sullivan never intended to set foot in Granger, Ohio, again. But when circumstances force her to return, she must face all the disappointments she tried so hard to leave behind: a husband who ignored her, a congregation she couldn’t please, and a God who took away everything she ever loved.

Nick Shepherd thought he had put the past behind him, until the day his estranged wife walked back into town. Intending only to help Maura through her crisis of faith, Nick finds his feelings for her never died. Now, he must admit the mistakes he made, how he hurt his wife, and find a way to give and receive forgiveness.

As God works in both of their lives, Nick and Maura start to believe they can repair their broken relationship and reunite as man and wife. But Maura has one more secret to tell Nick before they can move forward. It’s what ultimately drove her to leave him six years earlier, and the one thing that can destroy the fragile trust they’ve built.

My thoughts:
I have been a church business administrator for almost fifteen years. I have seen my share of what pastors’ wives go thorough – the really good, the good, the bad, the really bad and the ugly. Jennifer AlLee has taken what can be two very touchy subjects -the demands placed on a full time pastor by his congregation and what that does to the relationship between he and his wife, as well as the demands and expectations placed on a pastor’s wife by the congregation – and she has handled these two topics with grace and mercy. The Pastor’s Wife has moments of humor and times of spiritual teaching and healing. I highly recommend this book!
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A Typographical Error or a Misinterpretation?

I was raised in the Baptist Denomination. At that time, the King James Version was the only Bible and some people still believe that the King James Version is still the only “true” Bible out there. Baptists believed then, and still do, that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. In other words, there are no mistakes in the Bible.

There were very few (I don’t remember any) Bible translations until The Living Bible was produced when I was a teenager. The Living Bible opened the flood gates for other translations and today, there are hundreds of translations ranging from The Message to Young’s Literal Translation. In the small amount of research and study I have done of some of these translations, I have found some to be helpful in my understanding of scripture and some translations to be so far off, they’re not even on the radar screen.

I write all of this because I heard an interesting interpretation of a scripture verse last week at, of all places, a church tax seminar. (By the way, if you are reading this and you are a church business administrator, secretary, bookkeeper, check-writer, you need to call me ASAP.) This was actually a wonderful seminar because the speaker could have been a preacher, but that is not what God called him to do. There were several times throughout the day that we received short sermons. One of those sermons was on Isaiah 59:19. “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against him.” He related that he had heard a different interpretation and the minister that shared it, said there had been a typographical error when the Bible was first translated into English. The comma had been put in the wrong place. Move the comma to after the word “in.” Now read it: “When the enemy comes in, like a flood the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against him.” I must admit – I like this version a lot better because it places the strength and power with the Spirit and not the enemy.

So, what is it? A misinterpretation? A typographical error? Or is it right just the way the King James Version has it recorded?

You decide and let me know what you think!!

Maranatha!

© 2010 Edwina E. Cowgill

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Ash Wednesday 2010

Today is Ash Wednesday, 2010.

Ash Wednesday is a Christian holiday (holy day) that is not a biblical requirement (rather like Christmas and Easter). Nevertheless, it has been honored by Christians for well over ten centuries at the beginning of Lent, a six-week season of preparation for Easter. In the earliest centuries, Christians who had fallen into persistent sin had ashes sprinkled on their bodies as a sign of repentance, even as Job repented “in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). Around the tenth century, all believers began to signify their need for repentance by having ashes placed on their foreheads in the shape of a cross. Notice: even this sign of sinfulness hinted at the good news yet to come through its shape. Ash Wednesday is not some dour, depressing holy day because it symbolically anticipates Good Friday and Easter.

Today, celebrations of Ash Wednesday vary among churches that recognize this holiday. In the church that I attend, ashes are placed on our foreheads as a reminder of our mortality and sinfulness. The person who imposes the ashes quotes something like what God once said to Adam after he had sinned: “You are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19). This is the bad news of our sinfulness that prepares us to receive the good news of forgiveness in Christ. This good news is celebrated in the Holy Eucharist immediately after the imposition of ashes.
During the season of Lent, it is common practice to give something up for Lent. This means, depending on how you count the days of Lent, fasting from something for about six weeks. (Officially in the Western world, Lent comprises the days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. But many traditions do not count the Sundays during this period as belonging to Lent. Thus Lent covers 46 days, but only 40 days belong to the Lenten fast.)
I am a Type II diabetic, so I cannot fast a full meal. Over the years, I’ve fasted sweets, or chocolates, or anything white (sugar, flour). I would do okay for the first few weeks—or in the case of chocolates—a few days. Another year, I decided to fast television. There’s nothing good to watch anyway. This worked quite well during the week as my hubby was always out of town on business. It was harder on the weekend, because he would always turn it on. So, ultimately, that sacrifice didn’t work either.
Last year, I got the novel idea of asking God what should I fast for Lent, 2009. Below is my journal entry from Ash Wednesday, 2009:
Over the last several days, I’ve been wondering what to give up for Lent.
To me, if giving up” something doesn’t bring about a permanent change,
then why bother? So almost every year I struggle with what I should give up.
This morning as I was praying, I asked God what He wanted me to give up.
Very clearly, I heard Him say, “Yourself.”
“Excuse me??”
“You. I want you to give up yourself – everything about you – to Me.
For the next 40 days – every morning before you start your day – I want
you to ask Me what it is that I want you to do that day. And I will tell you.”
And He did tell me. Some days I had to give up my agenda for that day. Some days I had to lay my dreams and goals at His feet only to receive them back from Him in greater form and detail. Many days He asked me to give up time spent on frivolous activities and spend that time with Him instead. There were so many ways that God used those 40 days to help me grow spiritually and to draw me closer to Him.

I am sorry to say that I did not keep this up all year. I did maintain it for a while after Easter, but gradually I stopped. But my “fasting” this year will again be “me.”

For the next 40 days, every morning I will ask God “What do you want me to do today?” And I will listen and do what He says to do that day. I will not think about tomorrow because on that day, I will again surrender myself, ask God what He wants me to do and be obedient to His call that day.

After all, isn’t that the way we should live each day?

Maranatha!!

© 2010 Edwina E. Cowgill