Testimony Tuesday: Surviving Cancer

Testimony Tuesday: Surviving Cancer

In the journey of my life, yesterday a chapter ended.  Thank goodness, I didn’t get stuck but moved past my circumstances, when I was diagnosed with my first brain tumor. 

I say first because there was a third time around. And each time, it was a severe blow that overpowered me and almost put me under. I have a history of brain tumors (Meningioma). Therefore, I want to share what God has done in my life, God brought me through it all. 

I was a single woman working in the medical field with no expectations of bad news. I started having severe headaches, and knew something wasn’t right. A MRI was ordered and my peaceful life was impacted significantly when the doctor called me at work and gave me the results. My physician asked: “is this Peggy Hatton?” I said yes. He said “your “MRI” results revealed a large brain tumor.” I said, “what?!” I cried, wanting to scream, but had to hold it in because I was at work. 

And the first thing that came to my mind was, “I’m going to die.” I notified the supervisor of my situation and let them know that I had to leave. I wasn’t any good after hearing this. I had to call my cousin to pick me up because I couldn’t drive either. I was weeping non-stop. I cried unstoppably until my face was swollen. I knew God was the only one who could help me and I prayed and talked to him saying, “Why Me Lord?” I felt the Holy Spirit respond: “Peggy, why not you? Don’t be discouraged, I will always be with you.”

God comforted me and I moved forward and had the first brain tumor surgically removed. Although I woke up temporarily blind, the surgery was successful. I was still in ICU when an optometrist came and worked on my eyes. I was so scared. Later on that day, my vision returned. 

After all of the procedures, my eyes have never been the same. Today, I use numerous eye drops and visit an optometrist regularly. I accepted what I had no control over. 

Years later, I started having severe headaches again and knew the brain tumor had returned. Another MRI was taken and showed it had returned with a vengeance, it was brain cancer. I prayed and put it in God’s mighty hands. 

I had radiation treatment for brain cancer.  Today, I am still having more treatments and is scheduled to graduated soon. None of this was easy and if I didn’t have a mustard seed of faith in God, I wouldn’t have made it. 

I interacted with cancer patients and we all need encouragement, inspiration, and  love. This is whyI am sharing my story to uplift others in their battles.

This illness shattered my life, caused me to become disabled, and live less fortunately financially. However, God has truly blessed me and I thank him for placing supportive saints around me.

During all my trials and tribulations, real compassionate people reached out through texts, calls, and visits. I thank God for his mercy, grace, and his angels.  act of kindness and thoughtfulness was greatly appreciated.

When going through battles, everyone needs somebody. It helps so much just knowing other people care and you are not going through this alone. There is always someone in circumstances worse than yours. No matter how tough this battle has been. I never lost my faith in God, therefore I never lost a battle. I kept my head up, wiped tears, and kept moving. 

Through it all, as a wounded soldier, God gave me peace that passes all understanding. 

 

Pots and Kettles

Pots and Kettles

Something I’ve always struggled with while studying the bible is the relationship between the Old Testament and New Testament. The New Testament holds a special place for most Christians because it contains the records of Christ’s life. As we strive to become more like Christ, it is easy to focus exclusively on this series of books while neglecting the wisdom and historical context provided by the Old Testament. On the other hand, I’ve witnessed people strip that same historical context from this part of the bible for personal and political gain. So I decided to try and develop a better understanding of what this collection of books is trying to say for myself. 

One of the aspects of the Old Testament that often goes overlooked are the books of  prophecy (Isaiah through Malachi). Compared to some of the more popular Old Testament books, these stories tend to be less self-contained and also require some outside knowledge of the context in which they were written to make much sense. One historical event in particular sticks out in these books, the Babylonian captivity. 

The comparison between America and Babylon has been made to the point of meaninglessness, instead, I want to focus on Israel’s role in this story. First though, it would help to establish a definition for what the Babylonian captivity was and its relevance to biblical history. In 586 BC, King Nebuchadnezzer of Babylon invaded Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish temple. After the city fell, he enslaved large swaths of the population and forced them to migrate to Babylon. This exile contains the stories of Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego. However, leading up to this point, God sent many prophets to warn Israel of its fate. The biggest warning, perhaps, was the fall of Israel’s northern kingdom to the Babylonians nearly a decade earlier. In fact, the prophet Jeremiah tried to warn Jerusalem that they would meet the same fate as their northern counterpart if they didn’t attempt to make a change. Sure enough, this fate came to pass and it irrevocably changed Jewish culture and religion as a result. 

But I want to focus on how things got to this point. How could a God that claims to love his adherents also allow them to be enslaved, conquered, and killed. The answer lies in the nature of covenants. One of the oldest and most important covenants in the Bible is between God and Abraham. It provides the cultural narrative of the Jewish faith, that God promised to protect and guide the descendants of Abraham so long as they remained loyal to him alone. Pretty simple, but the region where Jerusalem is located has always been a hotly contested area of land. All around Israel, powerful cities increased their strength beneath the banners of false gods and idols. Over the course of centuries, Israel declined in prominence from the golden age of King David as places like Babylon, Persia, and Egypt began to thrive. Instead of remaining faithful to the invisible promises of God, Israel forsook it’s covenant in order to gain a fraction of the wealth and influence seen sprouting up in the neighboring nations. 

Ultimately, it is this betrayal that caused the downfall of Jerusalem. A promise takes two sides to uphold and God showed the people of Jerusalem grace by giving them an example of what awaited them in the future. Isaiah 2:6-9 follows the prophet Isaiah as he tries to convince the people of Jerusalem to return to God’s covenant. His diagnosis is very clear. Israelites abandoned God in favor of sorcery, sexual ritualism, and idolatry. Despite the warnings from the prophet and the destruction of the Northern Kingdom, Israel persisted until their eventual destruction and captivity. But why? What force could be so powerful that it would prevent an entire nation that had been blessed beyond desire in the past to forsake their faith? 

At the heart of the problem is pride. Isaiah 2:6-9 illustrates the relationship that Israel had with these idols. They were works of art on some level, seemingly erected by patrons in order to display not just their piety but also their wealth. They literally erect works made from their own labor and worshiped them as if they are gods. In return, these idols made them prosperous. Eased political tensions within the region came about as a result of this cultural cross-pollination which facilitated trade which, in turn, made Jerusalem very wealthy. Gold and silver were seemingly endless in those days. In their quest to elevate their nation and by extension themselves, Israel broke their covenant with God thus removing his blessing and making them vulnerable to Babylonian invasion. 

My first impulse when researching this topic was to point my finger at the world around me and externalize the accusations leveled against Israel onto American culture or the modern church, but that misses the point entirely. Culturally, we have an idea of Babylon as greedy, vain, sexually immoral, and paganistic. On closer inspection, however, Israel was just as guilty of all of these things if not more. What is the point of judging Babylon when they were ignorant of God’s power entirely. In much the same way that Israel bore witness to the full power of God in its history and chose to forsake that in favor of idols; there are certainly places in my life where my faith fails despite the overwhelming blessings God has given me in the past. There are certainly places in my life where I put myself on a pedestal so the admiration of others drowns out the guilt I feel. Instead of trying to deny that those parts of me exist, perhaps it’s better to recognize the areas in my life where I put myself before Christ and address them. This might not be everyone’s story, but if you think you’re too holy, well-respected, or ecclesiastic enough to never struggle with pride then I have a trophy to sell you to commemorate your spiritual enlightenment.

Why Don’t We Celebrate Pentecost This Year?

Why Don’t We Celebrate Pentecost This Year?

Pentecost is one of the most important days in scripture, one of the most important days in Church history, and one of the most significant days for all Christians because it is the birthday for the Church. But it is a day that often passes with little celebration and attention in the lives of many believers. Why don’t we celebrate Pentecost?

The other major Christian holidays have found widespread secular adoption and commercialization. Christmas season is still the greatest period of retail sales in the world, with images of Santa Claus, reindeer, gifts, and winter weather dominating our consciousness. The popular images are far removed from the poor young girl from a small unimportant town giving birth to baby Jesus in Bethlehem that is the true meaning behind the holiday. Easter has widespread fanfare involving bunnies and eggs, chocolates and baskets in the popular culture. But believers rarely forget the Good Friday services, Easter outfits, and proclamations of “Hallelujah” in response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead. Christians almost universally celebrate Christmas and Easter.

But Pentecost, the occasion of the Holy Spirit appearing from heaven in the upper room and filling the disciples that began the church in Acts chapter 2 has no such consistent celebrations or commercial fanfare. 

We should absolutely celebrate that the Holy Spirit has come to dwell among believers. The new creation has begun and the “already but not yet” Kingdom of God is made visible in the lives of those who follow Jesus Christ. We should have fanfare that God’s promise of living in our hearts, calling all people to Himself,  and dwelling among humanity have been fulfilled. The Church being given the power to destroy the works of sin and evil in the world were fulfilled on Pentecost. In Acts 2, the Apostle Peter clearly explains that Pentecost is the fulfillment of scripture, that people were able to know God who speaks their language, and that the Holy Spirit was evidence of God among those who believes. God is not a distant force or impersonal figure. The Holy Spirit is at work everyday in our lives as believers. We can experience God in completely new ways because of His presence with us. We can discern God’s truth, share spiritual gifts with one another, and overcome sinful behaviors and sin-filled systems through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Pentecost allows us to move from knowing God’s works in the past to experiencing them in the present. Because of Pentecost all nations were invited to know the God of Israel in the ways they could understand Him. We should celebrate that the Holy Spirit is God with us today, by celebrating Pentecost. Our celebration may not have commercial Holy Spirit clothes and toys to buy. We may not hear seven sermons in a day as we reflect and are uplifted. We may not see a Pentecost holiday special on TV or Pentecost music on the radio, or Pentecost memes on our social media timelines. But we can give thanks to God for the greatest gift of the Holy Spirit  in our lives. We can praise God in our worship services as we remember the birth of the Church. We can reflect on the work of the Holy Spirit in the world. And we can celebrate Pentecost however we celebrate it as believers have been called to celebrate it for thousands of years. 

Devotional: A Choice To Be Made Right

Devotional: A Choice To Be Made Right

Scripture: Galatians 5:16-26 NLT

16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.

Every day we make choices that impact our lives in a positive or negative manner. We may think of decisions and choices that we have made in the past that we regret and wish we could have handled better.

Galatians 5:16 reminds us that we are in a walk, not a race to fulfill our destiny and the only way we are going to achieve it is by doing it God’s way. His way is exemplified by the fruits that come forth when we are obedient to the leading of His Spirit.

As we walk with the Lord, the fruits of the Spirit impact our character and make us more like Christ. When we identify ourselves as believers who love Jesus we choose to willingly sacrifice anything that does not please Him. Holy Spirit helps us gauge our passions and desires with His will and purpose and if they do not line up, we are willing to lay them aside.

Keeping in step with the Spirit means we are daily tuned in to what God has to say about our lives, and open to adjust accordingly to what His word and will says. As we grow in Him and develop in the fruits of the spirit, our character is given an opportunity to grow and develop and mature.

In time, we begin to model Christ-like behavior. We resist and overcome the things that used to control us and bind us to our old nature before we submitted to Christ because our desire is to please God.

As you make decisions this week, examine and evaluate whether the results of those decisions will draw you closer or further away from the will of God. Remind yourself that you have the ability to choose right, and become more like Jesus Christ.

 

Prayer

Dear God,

I desire to develop in the fruits of the Spirit and walk upright before you. Teach me how to make the right decisions that please you and make me more like you. Remove any feelings of regret that I may be having in my heart that hinder me from making the right choices. Grant me the grace to move through this life with the right pace and posture of walking with you step by step and fulfilling your will for my life.

In Jesus Name,

Amen