CAUTION: Offense Straight Ahead

I viewed a video a few weeks ago by a pastor warning against having a spirit of offense. I must admit, at first I was a bit stymied by what he meant. Over the next couple of days I mulled over and prayed about what this pastor said in his short 5 minute video.

I found this on lifehack.org. Although it is humorous, it is also a very true definition of what it means to have a spirit of offense.
” It’s called Offend-initis, a skin condition whereby the thickness of our skin melts away to the point where everything offends us. Symptoms may include: hurt feelings, indignation, irritability, disappointment, grumpiness and an all-around allergic reaction to anyone who says or does something we don’t like.”

Let’s face it… it is very easy to contract Offend-initis. Everywhere we turn there are individuals, groups, organizations and public officials who are saying and doing things that offend us as Christ followers. We are told our beliefs are narrow-minded at the very best, and downright absurd at the very worst. Our desire to defend our beliefs often makes us respond as offended people, but I would echo the pastor’s words that we need to stop having a spirit of offense.

Instead, think about who and what is really being maligned in our present culture/society.

It is the Lord God Almighty, and the truths taught in the Bible! Even though we find ourselves the target, we need to pray we will not be offended! I know this is counter to everything we feel in our spirits when we are targeted. But our underlying, ongoing desire is to see God lifted up as we pray for everyone who is on the offense trying to fight against the God of the universe and His ways.

Having a spirit of offense creates an ongoing atmosphere of animosity and stress for us and those around us. However, defending God and our beliefs, as given the opportunity, creates an atmosphere of possible change….change that will be God honoring and not offensive to God and His truth.

Thanks for letting me share my heart. Please let me know if I can pray for you in a specific way during this very difficult time in our nation and world. The best way to do that is to fill out a contact form on my website: www.caringhansen.com

HOPE For These Troubled Times

This year has been a year of great change, confusion, frustration, fear and uncertainty for the future. Every year has its challenges for us… whether personal, familial, financial or a host of other possibilities. However, 2020 has heaped challenge upon challenge on each of us, which at the very least, is exhausting. 

What if I said I had the answer to these questions and that there is hope in that answer… but, I didn’t share the answer? I wouldn’t be a good friend, would I? I am sure you are thinking, how can I be so prideful as to say I have the answer?! Well, let me rephrase the first part of that sentence.  – What if I said I thought I had the answer to these questions and that there is hope in that answer? The response is still the same, isn’t it? I wouldn’t be a good friend if I didn’t share what I thought was the answer.

I know that many, or even most, of you who read my blog are Christians, but the Lord has laid this on my heart and so, in this post I am going to share, as graciously as I can, the reason for the hope I have within me. Do you know what being a Christian really means? I doesn’t mean I am better than you, or that I think I am better than you. It doesn’t mean that I have to follow a list of do’s and don’ts. AND, it definitely doesn’t mean that I live perfectly – not even close! What it does mean is that I have believed what the Bible says about who Christ was and is, and that I have made a decision to live my life as a follower of Christ.

The “plan of salvation” are some scripture verses that explain who God is, who Jesus Christ was/is, who we are to God and how we can be saved unto eternal life by simply believing that Jesus is who the Bible says he was. Here are those verses.

John 3:16 “For this is how much God loved the world—he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift.  So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life.”

John 14:6 “Jesus explained, “I am the Way, I am the Truth, and I am the Life. No one comes next to the Fatherexcept through union with me.”

Romans 3:23 “…for we all have sinned and are in need of the glory of God.”

Romans 6:23 “For sin’s meager wages is death, but God’s lavish gift is life eternal, found in your union with our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One.”

Ephesians 2:8,9 “For it was only through this wonderful grace that we believed in him. Nothing we did could ever earn this salvation, for it was the gracious gift from God that brought us to Christ!

Romans 10:9,10 “And what is God’s “living message”? It is the revelation of faith for salvation, which is the message that we preach. For if you publicly declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will experience salvation. The heart that believes in him receives the gift of the righteousness of God—and then the mouth gives thanksto salvation.”

John 1:12 “But those who embraced him and took hold of his namewere given authority to become the children of God!”

I too have had many times of feeling hopeless and fearful of what is ahead of us as a nation and world during this time. I am not immune or somehow exempt from these feelings because of my faith. However, what I do have is a hope that I can draw back to each time I feel overwhelmed by life’s circumstances.

I do not want to alienate you or offend you. My sole purpose is for this post is to share what I feel is the most important thing I have ever shared with you. I will joyously answer questions if you want to ask me more about this “plan of salvation”.

I am praying for each of you who read this because, in this uncertain time, we can all use some prayer.

I Haven’t Been Practicing What I Preach

Practice what you Preach

I have been struggling the last couple of months with the circle of life.

Within just 36 hours of my mother’s death we were overjoyed with the announcement that our first grandchild was on its way.  But somewhere
in the midst of the emotional roller coaster of life, during those days, I found myself dealing with feelings that I didn’t even know were there. Feelings of discouragement and disappointment and disenchantment.  Brutally honest rantings with God regarding MY choices for the end of my own life.  I want to leave this earth for my heavenly home while I am still a vital part of society and my family.  I don’t want to be a burden and overstay my welcome here below.  …sound familiar?

This week while struggling to pray, in this emotional state, the Holy Spirit whispered “you are thinking too much of the creation and not enough of the Creator”.  What a hard pill to swallow – not just because it was true…but because I have admonished and encouraged women I mentor and teach to not think more of themselves, as the created, than they do of their Creator!   …yet I was doing exactly that…and it somehow felt justified.  After all, with all that has transpired in my life these last several months; wasn’t what I was feeling just part of being human? Yes! But it really was nothing more than a “righteous” pity-party.  I say “righteous” because I really did desire to be “morally right” and focus on God and not on myself – but in the midst of real-life events and human emotions and feelings….I lost sight of my Creator.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying that I am over all these feelings now and thinking only of God.  What I am saying is that I am choosing to place my focus in a different place than I have been.  I do not know what life will look like for me in the next moment, hours, days, month and years.  AND, even if I saw it all I wouldn’t understand or comprehend what my Creator was doing in, and through, my life.  That is what we grasp for.  But for all our grasping, we come away empty-handed with bleeding fingertips.  God says “the peace of God which passes all understanding will keep my heart and mind through Christ Jesus”. Phil 4:7   There is only one way to have that peace.  It is not focusing on me, myself and I!

If you have followed my blog much you know that I love the words to old hymns.  I found myself quietly singing the words to the last verse of “My Jesus I Love Thee” while lying in bed last night.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

The only way I will “love my Creator God in life and in death” is by thinking more of Him and less of myself.  This is my constant prayer and HOPE.

Encouragement and Enrichment from Hymns of Old – Part 4 (final part)

…a series on words/phrases from old hymns to encourage and enrich.  old hymnal

 

“To God be the Glory”

Several weeks ago our pastor began to sing this hymn toward the end of his sermon and the phrase “opened the Life-Gate that all may go in” caught my imagination.  I knew I had to share this hymn with you as the last in this series because it tells us how we can know we will spend eternity with God in heaven.

This hymn was written by the famous blind hymn-writer, Fanny Crosby in 1872.   I am going to share the words of the first verse and chorus with you, because they are so powerful – but, I will change some of them to be easier to understand than the Old English it was written in.  I want to then focus on the phrase I referred to at the beginning: because it will encourage and enrich your life, in a way nothing else can,  IF you take it to heart and act on it.

To God be the glory, great things He has done,
God so loved the world that He gave us His son (Jesus).
Jesus gave up his life on the cross as an payment for sin – mine and yours,
…and with his death and resurrection he opened the LIFE-GATE that all can enter in.

Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord – let the earth hear God’s voice.
Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord – let the people rejoice.
Oh, won’t you believe in God the father and Jesus God’s son
And then you can give God glory – for the great things He has done.

Have you ever heard the word “gospel”?  Do you know what it means?  It refers to the “good news” – the Biblical account of  Jesus coming to earth – born of a virgin, living a perfect life and then being killed and buried…only to rise from the dead in order to pay for your sins once and for all.  The Bible says that if you believe the gospel you have salvation (saving faith from your sins and the consequence which is eternal death).

If you are a sci-fi fan you may watch Stargate.  For those of you who have never watched the show, let me explain that there is a “gate” that opens up and allows people to travel from one galaxy to another or one time-continuum to another.  It is a very ethereal gate through which you pass from somewhere else in time and space back to the present time on earth – or vice versa.  (For those of you who are hard-core sci-fi fans, I apologize if I have described this “gate” in a less than adequate way.)

Picture with me a gate that is not hard to open in one direction…yet impossible to open the other.  This Life-Gate is exactly like that.  Unlike the Stargate, the Life Gate is a one-way gate.  If we believe the gospel we walk through the gate to forgiveness of sin and eternal life.  The gate never opens back up the other direction, no matter what we do.  AND, it is yours to walk through by simply believing the Biblical message about Easter.

The movie “Son of God” has been in the theaters for several weeks now.  If you have had a chance to see it, or possibly “The Passion of the Christ” that Mel Gibson produced a number of years ago – you are familiar with the story/plot.  This story/plot is this gospel message I keep referring to.

If you have already believed and walked through the Life-Gate I know you are praying for others who haven’t, to do so when they read this.  If you have not believed before, for whatever reason; put your disbelief aside – believe – and walk through the Life Gate.  Come…join me and millions of others who, over the course of history, have believed the gospel.

The Bible says that when someone walks through the Life Gate the angels rejoice.  As humans, rejoicing often leads to singing.  Perhaps it is so with the angels, too.

…and so, we end this series “on a good note”!

The “Surgeon”

scalpelWe’ve all heard the analogy of God as the Great Physician. Let’s take a little different route and explore the analogy of The Holy Spirit being a surgeon.

When we need surgery on our physical bodies, the Doctor prepares us by telling us the problem, the procedure, the possible complications and the expected outcome he’s hoping for. We then place our trust in him to perform the procedure.

Then with our modern day technology we are anesthetized and when we wake up, the surgery is over. Pain can be lessened with pain-killers and so we begin to heal. However, no matter how skillful the surgeon is we have unsightly scars that last a lifetime. Many times the outcome is not what the doctors or you had hoped for…or planned on.

Spiritually speaking, when the Holy Spirit knows we need surgery, He too tells us the problem. Sometimes through prayer and Bible study; sometimes by other people’s witness. There are many avenues He uses.

If we truly desire His best for us, we agree to “surgery”. Often the procedure is long and painful. Unlike physical surgery, we are “awake” through all of it! Oh yes, He is gracious, gentle and loving, giving us peace and comfort, but we feel His spiritual scalpel intensely.

We often cry out in the middle of it “STOP”! I can’t take this, it’s too much to bear, and being the merciful God that He is, He does our bidding, leaving us with open wounds and diseased spirits that will need more surgery later on.

BUT, if we let His skilled hand finish the work and close the wound, the healing can begin. The Holy Spirit is never unsure of the outcome. He KNOWS what we will become once we have healed. Something even more wonderful is that the scars from Spiritual surgery will always leave you more beautiful than before. There is no disfiguring, no never!

THANK YOU GOD FOR THE SCARS!

May I Be as it Becomes You

past-present-future

Unusual title? Yes…but, I think you will see why I chose this phrase for my title in a moment. This double entendre phrase has much to think about in both contexts.  But, first I have to clarify that “YOU” in the phrase refers to God, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Now you are starting to get it, right?

Next, I need to explain the meaning of the word “be”.  It has many meanings, yet the one that is the most interesting, the most pertinent to this phrase – and the hardest, is “to remain unmolested, undisturbed, or uninterrupted”.

God calls us to simply BE.  We get so caught up in the DO that we forget to BE….  “Being” is not thought of as an active verb, yet to remain unmolested, undisturbed or uninterrupted in our walk with the Lord, requires a great deal of action.  That action is stillness.  Oh, that is so hard!  We want to be running, or at least walking for the Lord.  That feels “Christianly” and it suits our humanness perfectly.  It holds the connotation that if we are doing for the Lord we must be pleasing the Lord.

Both contexts for this phrase will obliterate the idea that we can, should or must do anything to please the Lord.

May I be as it becomes YOU: The first context is so simple…yet hard to grasp. As we are quiet and still remaining:

unmolested by the world’s influence

undisturbed by the trials and tragedies of life

…and uninterrupted in our focus on God we will become more like Him.

Remember your teacher in elementary school correcting you when you asked “Can I please go to the restroom”?  What was the correct way to ask that question?  “MAY I please go to the restroom?”  Because it was not a question of if you were capable of walking to the restroom, but rather, if you could have permission to leave the classroom.  I know it seems like a silly memory to bring up, but notice the phrase is, “May I be as it becomes YOU”.  In other words, we have the capability to fulfill the rest of the phrase.  It is within our grasp, not because of something we are doing, but because of our “BEing”.

I am not suggesting that we wil ever become God or “a God’ like those in the New Age movement teach.  What I am saying is that as we are still and allow Jesus to work in our lives we will become more like Him in our daily thoughts, actions and reactions.  There will be  less of us and more of Him showing to others.  We are being as it becomes Him.

Perhaps a somewhat old-fashioned, but very descriptive word in this next context is “becomes” or “becoming”.  It means to flatter a one’s appearance or to be suitable, fitting and appropriate.  This second context of this petition: “May I Be as it Becomes You”, is simply an admittance that we desire to be becoming to God.  Flattering to God’s appearance because we are suitable, fitting and appropriate.  That is such a beautiful thought to me. That I could be flattering to God, suitable, fitting and appropriate seems an impossible feat. And, it is without the precious work of Christ on the cross. Because of Christ, God sees you and me through the blood that Jesus spilt and our image is pure, spotless and without blame -flattering or becoming to God. So, the second half context of this petition is already a reality if we have believed in Jesus as our savior.

Did you get what I just said? The second context doesn’t have anything more to do with what I do, or don’t do, than the first context did. What a resting place! What a joy! Not “CAN” I Be as it Becomes You…but rather “May” I and the Fathers says “Yes, not only may you – but you ARE”.

All the Colors of the Rainbow

makeup-geek-glamorous-swatch-217x300Summer fashions are immersed in COLOR!  Everywhere you look there are mouth-watering shades of cotton candy pinks, frosty sorbet lavenders, creamsicle oranges and many more.  They evoke a carefree, sweet atmosphere in the midst of an anxious world.

To boost their “color power” this season’s makeup should be just as luscious.  Come with me and take a stroll along Rainbow Lane.  We will start with what products are available and how they work best.  Then we will move on and take a moment looking at techniques and tips for applying these delicious products.  Finally, we will complete our stroll with a spiritual application of color.  Here we go!

It’s all about sheer, glossy and natural color…the more transparent the color, the more summery the look.  Try…

  • stains, bronzers or tinted moisturizers
  • sheer liquid or gel stick blushers
  • light, sheer color eye shadows
  • ultra slick lip-glosses and stains

Limit YOUR rainbow by choosing just a couple of colors.

  • purples, pinks and reds are universally flattering
  • oranges and yellows look best on olive complexions
  • pastels are the best choice on light skin – except pastel blue on blondes
  • try matching the flecks of color in the iris of your eyes for eye shadow shades

With any given outfit highlight only one feature

  • gorgeous eyes
  • healthy glowing cheeks
  • plump shapely lips

Use contrast

  • with bright colored clothing choose a subtler shade of the same color…or try a contrasting bright shade
  • with pastel outfits choose makeup with more vibrant color
  • use the colors in a print to help determine makeup shades; choose only one or two

Five Great Tips

  1. For an instant “teeth whitener” apply a blue-based pink lip-gloss – the bluish tint will reflect onto your teeth making them look whiter.
  2. To help soften and diminish facial lines stay with lighter, less vivid shades
  3. To intensify eye shape and add impact to small eyes, try a dark colored powder liner    along the upper lash line
  4. To make the whites of your eyes appear whiter and brighter use navy eyeliner
  5. Keep your makeup fresh and safe with these “expiration date” facts
    3 months – Mascara
    6 months – Foundation, lipstick, liquid blush and liquid eye shadow
    3 years – Powder blush and powder eye shadows

Daytime application of your makeup should be with a very light hand.  Remember we are going for summery, sheer and natural.  Nighttime and formal occasion application can be a little heavier.  However, remember to highlight only one feature at a time.

Picture, if you would, the all colors in a rainbow as I conclude with these thoughts.  One of the wonderful attributes of God is goodness.  Did you know that generosity is a synonym for goodness?  Think of it!  God could have given us simply red, blue and yellow.  Instead we have burgundy to salmon, periwinkle to teal, banana to chartreuse…and on it goes!  Breathe in all the wonderful colors we are so generously blessed with.  Now go have some fun and be a little daring…enjoy!

Thank You God for Breast Cancer

I will never forget the night before my first mastectomy. I was early October and the house was very quiet. As I sat in my favorite “God spot” – I was praying and contemplating what was about to happen. I think most everyone thinks they will go to the grave with all their body parts intact. It simply had never occurred that might not be the case for me. I began to quietly sob. What happened next is something I have a hard time explaining. As I quietly cried I felt arms wrap around me and heard the words, “You don’t have to cry, because I am right here beside you – but, you can cry it you want to”. I know it was God’s arms and His words saying He understood the “want to” of crying because of what I was going through humanly, but that I didn’t have to cry out of fear and discouragement. Of course, then I cried like a baby…a child of God who knew, like never before, that I was being taken care of.

You might ask why I didn’t pray for a miraculous healing. I did, during the weeks between diagnosis and surgery. I knew my Lord was completely capable of healing me and prayed to that end. However, I didn’t get a miraculous healing and I am thankful I didn’t. Do you think that an odd response? Possibly, but I know now that if I had experienced a miracle I would praise God for that experience always pointing to that time and place as where God met me. Without a miraculous healing I learned to see God in each step of my cancer journey and praised Him for every moment of every day He sustained me. I believe my faith grew unlike it would have had God instantaneously healed me.

I was healed enough by early November to begin grappling with doing chemotherapy. How could I knowingly “poison” my temple? Together, my husband and I decided to go forward with what the doctors were recommending, praying that we would know if and/or when the Lord told us to stop.

Following the second treatment, and just four days prior to Christmas, I began running a 105° fever. I was admitted to the critical care unit. Everyone knew I was infected with something, they just didn’t know what. As I lay in my hospital bed that first night, I felt completely helpless knowing I was too weak to even get myself out of bed and that I was at the mercy of the staff. Those of you who know me know what a “doer” I am. There was nothing I could “do”, making this the most difficult place to find myself. My feeble prayer was simply “please God protect me”.

Early the next morning the doctor told me that, although they still weren’t certain what I was infected with, they were certain I was allergic to chemotherapy. My spinal cord was shutting down. All my blood results were at critical stage putting me on the verge of death. At that moment I knew God had screamed “stop!” I could not and would not ever do chemotherapy again.

The following day the answer to what I was infected with came. Staph! Then it struck me – this infection named “staph” had saved my life. Had I not begun running a fever, indicative of the infection, I would have died quietly at home never knowing the death grip chemotherapy had on me. God saved my life with staph! Not something very many people can say…but, our God uses some pretty unconventional tactics, doesn’t He?

On Christmas morning I was released and able to spend the celebration of Jesus’ birth with my family. The story doesn’t end there, though. On New Year’s Eve day I was back in the hospital with an abscess. The infection was surgically removed and the wound left open to heal. As I belly-ached to a wonderful nurse friend, asking why God didn’t just clear up the staph with the intravenous drugs instead of needing surgery – she quietly explained that my route was the most effective way of getting completely rid of staph. Once again it was clear God was in complete control and I was the recipient of His blessings.

…and so, I began to heal.

“Thank you God for breast cancer”. Without it my faith would not be as strong; my life not as rich; and I would not have a passion to help someone everyday be ALL God made them to be. Anyone who says Christian’s use Jesus as their crutch doesn’t get that we, as followers of Jesus, are the only ones walking straight and tall while all the rest of the world walks with a limp. My faith is not a crutch – it was, and is, my source of strength, hope and daily joy through life’s valleys of the shadow of death.

I have much more story to tell, because it was eighteen years ago this month that I began sojourning cancer. I will share from time to time in posts, so check back often.

Can You Say “Stage One” Five Times?

There it was…a lump in my right breast. I wasn’t looking for it, my hand just slid across a hard little lump during my shower that evening in January. I knew God had guided my hand over that exact spot because it remained elusive to being found again for several minutes.

Let me back up several decades… to my formative years. At the young age of eight, I climbed into bed with my mom one early Saturday morning after dad had left for work, and asked her how to invite Jesus into my heart. From that day forward I had a strong faith that only deepened when I married my high-school sweetheart at eighteen and became a mom to two sons in my early twenties. Our sons took us on a roller-coaster journey through possible leukemia, ADHD, fractured skulls, (yes both of them from different accidents) a dog attack to the face, and multiple other injuries that sent me scurrying to the closest first-aid course. I too, found myself dealing with multiple health issues that no one seem to be able to diagnose or help relieve the symptoms of. In 1986 I found myself in a women’s Bible Study at our church called “Diet, Discipline and Discipleship.” It intrigued me because much of my pain came from eating. I would later see that this study was homework for the biggest lesson of my life.

Here it was now 1991, and once again the doctors had no answers. A mammogram and ultra-sound revealed nothing, but I saw my doctor each month for a year. Each time she palpated the lump concluding that it was not changing. At the year anniversary we decided it would be prudent to just have me keep a watchful eye and report any change.

Fast forward and it is now spring of 1994: Our lives were full of activity with one son still in high school. I was happy to be a mom, wife and now model and actress. But, then – it happened again as my hand slipped over my soapy breast…a second lump just a short distance from the first.

Another mammogram and ultrasound to help diagnose – this time adding an MRI, and still the lumps remained invisible. I recall the doctor’s words being something like “well, we really should probably just take them out” and biopsies were scheduled. I had none of the risk factors for breast cancer – at least none that had been determined by 1994, so each medical professional I saw before and during the procedure assured me all was going to be fine. But everything was NOT fine. The words “cancer” and “multi-centric” were uttered before my husband and I walked out of the surgical room that day.
Life felt like a whirlwind over the next few weeks as I began to learn more about my specific diagnosis: multi-centric infiltrative ductal carcinoma. To spare you all the medical verbiage let’s move fast forward to about three weeks later when the final diagnosis came in following a subsequent surgery. They had found a total of five separate tumors – all in one-quarter of my right breast. The good news was I had five separate tumors; meaning none had metastasized, so the doctor did not have to add together the sizes of the tumors to stage me. The bad news was I had five separate tumors, which is all but unheard of!
Thus my cancer journey began. My faith was tested as my health eluded me…but, my faith became stronger, and more personal than before. “Thank you God for Breast Cancer” will be the continuation of my story. Please check back in a couple of days to read it.