Secondhand Pain – Strength for Watching

-Terri Fornear

Do you ever feel like you’re not going to make it through a situation? Hopeless and seeing no answers? That is how I feel when I watch someone I love in pain. Whether the pain is physical or emotional, I feel my own helplessness to its full extent. I do not handle these times very well. Anxiety roars and fears chase my heart into hiding. I become paralyzed.

I’m beginning to take tiny baby steps through these times. Psalm 68:28 is one of the first cries of my heart. “Summon your power, O God; show me your strength, O God, as you have done before.”

I found a great quote about watching from the devotional, Streams in the Desert,

“He becomes my strength to sit still. What a difficult accomplishment this is! If I could only do something! I feel like the mother who stands by her sick child but is powerless to heal. What a severe test. Yet to do nothing except to sit still and wait requires tremendous strength.”

He becomes my strength to watch without answers. He becomes my strength to handle anxious thoughts that crowd my mind. He helps me take each thought captive to Jesus. His Life within carries me through fears I cannot overcome on my own.

To the outside world I may look void of faith and hope. When Jesus was on the cross, they shouted, “Where is your God now? Let Him deliver you.” I sometimes feel like such a failure as a Christian. The battle is in full rage. This is not the time to look at myself or measure my faith. I look away to Jesus, who was far from impressive on that cross. He looked like a loser. So I go to Him for that very strength He exerted to stay on that cross.

He’s giving me His heart for the one I love who is in pain. He is praying through me for deliverance of that pain, for wisdom for the next step. He is interceding through me. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20). The Lord is my strength when watching.

Lord, live through us so that we can handle the intensity of one of our greatest battles – knowing how to help loved ones in their battles.

*Do you know “The Two Ways to Get to Heaven“?

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Giant Down in the Valley

-Joe Fornear

We all spend time in The Valley of Elah. There, giants are found. David faced and took down the giant, Goliath, in The Valley of Elah, (1 Samuel 17). His victory came within minutes of first witnessing Goliath’s taunting of “the armies of the living God.” In contrast, we’re told his brothers and the Israeli army spent the previous 40 days in that valley cowering and running from Goliath!

“The Philistine came forward morning and evening for forty days and took his stand.” – 1 Samuel 17:16
“When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid.” – 1 Samuel 17:24

So what distinguished the one who overcame his fear from the ones who cowered under it?

  • The fearful ones focused only on human sight.
    The men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who is coming up?” – 1 Samuel 17:25​

They saw Goliath’s size and strength and did their math. They surfed the internet, read statistics, and focused on human “probabilities” of winning. They looked merely to their own human resources – no wonder doubt paralyzed them. During my intense battle with Stage IV melanoma, I learned the hard way what a difference focus makes!

  • The one who overcame focused on faith.

David “saw” his God as far bigger and greater than any obstacle, be it a lion, a bear, or oversized human.

Now am I saying if we have enough faith, we’re guaranteed God will answer every prayer? Clearly, God responds to faith! Yet He is not bound by it. He does, however, guarantee victory over fear!

But how did David develop this type of faith?

  • David knew Who God was.
    “I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts” – 1 Samuel 17:45​

David “saw” God as commander over the “hosts,” all the angelic armies of heaven. Many Bible students believe the reference includes the vast arrays of the heavens, all the starry hosts (Genesis 2:1). These are the lights of the night, the trillions upon trillions of stars He flung across the heavens in an instant.

  • David knew who he was.
    “I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts” – 1 Samuel 17:45​

David confronted Goliath in the Lord’s “name,” with His full authority. David represented God on that battlefield and he knew God had his back.

  • Though David used human tools with the five rocks and sling, He knew the Lord was ultimately He Who wins a fight.
    “The LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S” – 1 Samuel 17:47​

God allows taunting, destructive Goliaths in our lives to demonstrate His love and power. Perhaps you’re facing a giant now – cancer, a financial crisis, a troubled child or relationship. Put down the giant of fear by God’s incredible power, knowing God has your back!

Do you know “The Two Ways to Get to Heaven“?

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The Master’s Cleanse

-Joe Fornear

A touch from God often comes with a taste of tears. Those mighty men and women of the Bible, those vaunted “saints of old,” they endured stretches when tears were so frequent, they called them “food.” Most often we read this as a bad thing, but tears can be cleansing … and good. I busted down more than once during my intense battle with Stage IV melanoma and it helped to know tears are common and have a purpose. Yes, my male friends, even for us.

The Psalmists of the 42nd Psalm let us in on their “desert” struggle. Their thirst for God entailed wondering if He was even there! I’ve wondered at times myself. Perhaps you wonder today. Maybe like the Psalmist you’re on a “salt water cleanse” of tears now.

  • “My tears have been my food day and night” (Psalm 42:3).
  • “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me?” (Psalm 42:5).
  • “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” (Psalm 42:9).

But surely that’s not all there is – just knowing we’re as emotionally stuck as the next guy or gal? No way! The Psalmists proclaim, there’s hope, much hope! Heck, there’s always hope.

Yet hope is a choice. It’s a fight of faith. Don’t let the enemy tell you there is no hope, that God is not there. That He’s abandoned you and there is no coming back from your circumstances or the circumstances of someone you love! The Psalmists encouraged their own souls with the facts, and they set aside those negative emotions and lies. Tell yourself the truth and refocus:

  • “Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence” (Psalm 42:5).
  • “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God” (Psalm 42:11).
  • “Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me. The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; And His song will be with me in the night” (Psalm 42:7-8).

Those who are in Christ are perfectly united with Him, so we cannot even be separated from Him (for more on union with Him go here). “The one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him”  (1 Corinthians 6:17). As He is the Bread of Life, His Presence is a food we can definitely feed on. His goodness fills us up deep in our spirits and changes our “countenance” – our moods. Our souls are lifted by wave upon wave of His love washing over us.

Also, when times are tough, know that He cries with you. He tastes your tears. He’s on a salt water cleanse with you – He is after all, “The Tear Collector!” And He wants you to know this desert experience is temporary – it will NOT last long. Cease squirming, running, turning, numbing or shaking your fist at Him, or others. Let Him comfort you and lift you up. You’re one with Him and He with you!

*Join Joe & Terri Fornear on 3rd Tuesdays of each month at 7:00 pm CST on Joe Fornear‘s Facebook page for our one-hour online prayer meeting. Joe’s FB page is here, add him as a friend to get notifications for this event and for other encouraging posts. Let’s find out together the difference prayer can make! Next meeting on May 16th. See past episodes in February and March and April.

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At Pain’s End

– Joe Fornear

A key development in every child’s life is when they learn pain is not permanent. That scrape on the knee stings like crazy now, but it won’t last forever. You can walk it off or apply some ice. In the same way, followers of Christ can develop coping skills to endure the pain of this life, knowing well that pain is temporary.

Who among us has not wondered, “If God loves me so much, why is He allowing this overwhelming pain in my life?” In various forms, this is the most frequently asked question by cancer patients to us at Stronghold Ministry. It was my great question during my own Stage IV metastatic melanoma cancer battle.

Our annual Easter celebration of the Cross and the Resurrection reminds us of God’s answers to the pain question. In short, He made pain temporary. Here’s why:

  • He knows how to use temporary pain for our permanent gain.

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. – 1 Peter 5:10 

Note, pain has beneficial outcomes of maturity and stability as it’s temporarily allowed by God in this life – “for a little while”. (More on handling pain in our five-part blog series, “Is Pain In Vain?”).

  • On the cross, Jesus provided for the removal of painful diseases in this life.

When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES.” – Matthew 8:16-17

In this passage in Matthew, many will recognize a key line out of Isaiah 53 about Him taking away our weaknesses and diseases. Not all would apply these verses to Divine Healing today. My question is why would we not ask God to apply it to our sicknesses today? We all apply the Isaiah 53 verses on forgiveness today! I certainly applied these healing verses after they gave me days to live in May of 2003! (More on healing in our seven-part series, “Miracles for Today Series.”)

  • Jesus gave us our only ticket out from the eternal pains of hell.

All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. – Isaiah 53:6

He endured unspeakable pain and separation under the wrath of God, so that we would not have to endure the eternal pain and separation which we have earned. For more on our only ticket to heaven, check out our newly designed tract, “The Two Ways to Get to Heaven.” Thus, heaven will not entail suffering at all!

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. – Revelation 21:4

So let’s all rejoice this Easter weekend that pain has met its end! Thank You, Lord!


*Please note – until further notice our monthly 3rd Tuesday Stronghold Ministry Praise and Prayer Meetings will be on Facebook LIVE! See past episodes in February and March and April.

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Dare to Err on the Side of Belief With Us

– Joe & Terri Fornear

​Jesus made many claims about the power of prayer, most of which challenge our conceptions of … everything! Consider just one “outlandish” statement in a long list of His amazing quotes on prayer:

“Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.” – Mark 11:23

After reading this verse, some readers may have stopped reading already. Some may have had a huge letdown in their spirit. I understand, you’ve prayed and prayed and so far – nothing. “Hope deferred makes the heart grow sick” (Proverbs 13:12). True, hope can be scary and false promises can be manipulative, but do we really want to explain away Jesus’ promises? I felt the tension during my battle with Stage IV “terminal” cancer. The doctors gave me days to live in May of 2003, would I dare believe God would heal me by “telling” the cancer to leave?

Through a mix of doubts and boldness, Terri and I, and faithful friends and family decided to err on the side of belief. After all, Jesus always seemed to be moved to miracles by faith. He was clearly disappointed, even perturbed by doubt.

What about you, what mountains do you face? Do you have a flicker of hope to explore the realm of what is possible through perseverance and sheer obedience to pray like He commanded? Let’s journey together to plumb the depths of prayer and His supernatural power. Join us Tuesday, March 21st from 7:00 to 8:00 pm CST! Terri Fornear and I will be live from my Facebook page praying for the impossible! To get notifications of all our LIVE video events, become a Facebook friend of Joe Fornear here.

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*Please note – until further notice our monthly 3rd Tuesday Stronghold Ministry Praise and Prayer Meetings will be on Facebook LIVE! 

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Why are we switching our Prayer Meeting to Facebook LIVE?

Last month, we held our prayer meeting on Facebook LIVE (see the video replay here) and discovered excellent connection with hundreds of cancer patients, their networks, and friends of Stronghold! The power of prayer was multiplied as we prayed for one another! All together we became what Terri Fornear called “a house of prayer”!

We’ve often said about our monthly prayer meeting, “Some of the people who need this prayer meeting the most can’t be here.” This is true for several reasons:

  • Some are quarantined at home to protect their immune system
  • Some are hospitalized
  • Some are feeling ill or weak due to treatments
  • Some don’t know what to expect
  • Some live out of town!!

So join us online as we bring our Prayer Meeting TO YOU!

Tuesday, March 21 (3rd Tuesdays) – on Facebook LIVE from 7:00-8:00 pm on Joe’s Fornear’s Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/joe.fornear. More info:

  • Become “friends” with Joe Fornear on Facebook to get notifications of our live events.
  • Join in for the entire hour from 7-8:00 pm CST … or any length of time!
  • Be ready… between now and Tuesday’s online gathering write your request on Joe’s Facebook post about this meeting!
  • Invite those that are sick, shut in, or wanting to be touched by God!
  • Be ready to listen and be quiet together as we hear HIS encouragements through each other. During the LIVE event, write in verses, prayers and thoughts which fan faith, hope and love.
  • Let us know when He answers your prayer! “See” you tomorrow night, Tuesday, March 21!

Check out last month’s video – click on pic or link below!

https://www.facebook.com/joe.fornear/videos/10211399012466117/

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Hinged or Unhinged?

-Terri Fornear

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? – Matthew 6:26

I was looking out the window when a red bird flew by. It landed on a branch, and began staring at me through the window. At first, I laughed because it was so intentional in watching me. Then I got curious and looked up the word “cardinal.”

I couldn’t believe what I read. The word comes from the Latin word, “cardo,” which means hinge; “that on which something turns or depends.” The first thing I read about the spiritual meaning of red birds is they symbolize the “blood of Christ.”

So as I sat and obeyed God’s command in Matthew 6:26 by “looking at the birds of the air.” (I just had to let you all know I was obeying God. I love how HIS commands are not burdensome – 1 John 5:3). I heard God’s voice for me on …

  • The “hinge” word was loud – everything rides on the blood of Christ!
  • Jesus finished work on the cross is the hinge to LIFE.
  • His blood cleansed my sin – forever (Hebrews 10:10).
  • His body broken, buried, and raised for me so that my “Adam” life (Romans 5) was put to death and HIS resurrected LIFE was united to me (Romans 6).
  • I take up His cross today and say, “His finished work is enough for me to rest in.”

Staying hinged as I look at Mr. Red Bird staring at me …

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Check out our video describing the benefits of Stronghold’s Stepping Into Christ Groups. 

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What If God Was ALWAYS on Your Side?

-Joe Fornear

That would be really nice, right? Well, welcome to Niceville – He IS always on your side!

You might be thinking, “If that’s true, it sure doesn’t feel like it!” I can relate. During my Stage IV cancer battle, I wondered at times whose side He was on. My feelings and expectations often robbed me of the peace and joy He offered – and this when I needed Him most! Those who are “in Christ” can trust His promises. We can call them “facts.” I invite you to soak with me in this passage on His loyalty to us in Romans 8. And let fact triumph over feelings!

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:31-39

Seems Paul knew we would have a hard time believing in Jesus’ love and commitment to us, especially in hard times. So he jumps up and down here, using sweeping, all-encompassing language to make his point! Though He doesn’t specifically mention cancer, surely sickness fits in the “tribulation” category. So rest assured, no matter what is going on in your life: The love of Jesus Christ is so sticky – once it gets on you, no thing, sickness or person can get it off of you!

You may wonder about sin – perhaps our sin separates us from His love. Paul answers this too for those who are “in Christ.” It is God’s justifying power through the cross of Christ which makes this sticky love of Jesus even possible (Romans 8:33). God Himself HAS decided to make us forever clean of all sin – past, present and future sins! So who can condemn a person when God has justified her or him? “There is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1)!

One question remains – are you “in Christ”? Getting into Christ happens when we place our faith in Him – in Him only – to save us from our sin. God then places us and “hides” us in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30; Colossians 3:3). The Bible says we cannot earn this salvation by doing good works. Well, we could if we lived a perfect life! But if you’re not perfect, like me, you need His grace to be transferred into Christ. This is grace, an undeserved gift.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9

So if you’ve not yet placed your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, please do it now, and enjoy His sticky love now and forever. More on this in our good news tract, The Two Ways to Get to Heaven. And please let us know if you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior as result of reading either this blog or the Two Ways tract.

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Wading Through the Voices​ 2

-Terri Fornear

December and January were interesting months for me personally and as an “Abiding Coach.” Three of our cancer families “lost” someone they love. My 96-year-old dad visited us for 14 days and I experienced the confusion, body weakness, and hearing loss of aging. All this made even everyday issues of people, like hard marriages, unmet goals, and financial fears, seem overwhelming. My own ability to “STOP” suffering and fix this world frustrated me. I wanted to hide under my bed, plug my ears and close my eyes.

Then that still, small voice softly let me in on HIS heart:

“Terri, I am sharing the fellowship of My suffering with you as you have the courage to feel. Every time ‘Creation groans’ with a death cry, or a decaying sound, you are hearing what I never wanted MY creation to experience. I know the story of Adam and Eve is simple, but what happened is simple. Giving them freedom to know MY love, My provision, My creation, My personality – without death in the atmosphere – was always My intention. Yet they didn’t believe My voice was full of love and good for them. Giving them the freedom to choose My love was the only way they would know Me and My love.”

Paul said this in Philippians 3:10-11,

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Suffering can open eyes and ears to receive His love – for all eternity.

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Wading Through the Voices

-Terri Fornear

People often ask me, “How do you hear God’s voice?” How do you know it’s not your own voice or your imagination or positive thinking?

I remember a time when “I got religion” after I met Jesus. I started looking “outside” myself to hear Him. I believed Jesus’ voice only came through church leaders or good, strong Christians. Only they could tell me what Jesus wanted for me which sounded a lot like:

  • Keep the ten commandments
  • Make sure you share Jesus with everyone you see
  • Be nice, submit to authorities
  • Be in community and be accountable
  • Pray; be grateful; surrender etc.

Photo by zaghami – http://www.deviantart.com/art/The-Good-Shepherd-409811073

All these “things” aren’t bad, in fact when I listen to His Voice they often happen. But what fun is it to carry out a daily list of “good stuff”? It got burdensome and cold to me. Almost like being married with no intimacy – just roles to play. A couple playing roles can get through a day and the marriage, but there is no real life in it.

In John 10, Jesus gives a whole different way to do life. He says to start with what He does for us. He’s the Good Shepherd Who lays down His life for me. Therefore only good comes from His voice. He desires to give HIS life to me to live through. He saves me daily. He wants me to hear His love, care, and no condemnation.

Jesus says we can hear His voice, and He tells us what HIS voice sounds like in Ezekiel 34 and what He does for us:

  • Strengthens the weak
  • Heals the sick
  • Bounds up the injured
  • Finds the straying one
  • Searches for the lost

That’s God’s voice. Now it’s up to me to receive His love and stay in conscious contact with HIM. He is always with me and working for me to see and hear of His love.

The Liar comes to tell me God isn’t for me; is mad at me; expects a lot from me; He isn’t good and He is far from me. This is the daily, invisible battle. Jesus’ voice is the only way through enemy lines. His GOOD Shepherd voice brings life to every moment.

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Perfect Plans for You

-Joe Fornear

History is truly “His story.” We make plans and do our thing, but He works it all to our good (Romans 8:28). At first, however, developments might not look good at all! In fact, sometimes people may deliberately intend evil for us, like Joseph’s brothers sinister plan to kill him! Even then, God worked things to the good, as Joseph said later after much suffering at the hands of his brothers, “What you intended for evil, God intended for good” (Genesis 50:20).

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At the end of 2016, please consider helping us continue our mission in reaching people fighting cancer and helping ground people in the fullness of Christ. Donate at our secure website here or through our PayPal page here. Or send us a check at PO Box 38478  Dallas, TX 75238. Check envelopes must have December postmark for tax deduction in 2016. Don’t forget to remember us if your employer matches donations – our Federal tax ID is – 26-1656081. We’re so grateful for you!


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As we look back on and evaluate 2016 and plan for 2017, let’s keep in mind He operates on an entirely different plane than us. We can operate on that same plane if we live by faith in His ultimate goodness. Consider His heart toward us and our future in Jeremiah 29:11 –

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for your well-being and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

Maybe we complicate things, and it is quite simple. One day all of our troubles, no matter how devastating now, will definitely end up for our good. Let’s grab onto that solid truth today and throughout 2017. Let’s plan on God showing up!

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Christmas and Cancer

-Joe Fornear

The Christmas season can be really rough when you’re fighting cancer or grieving great loss. I remember the beginning of my cancer battle on December 23, 2002. I was recovering from a rough surgery to remove a large mass of an unknown cancer from under my arm. The next day, while still feeling the anesthetic and loaded up on pain pills, I forced myself to attend church on Christmas Eve. This was after all the church I had planted and pastored for 12 years. I wanted me and everyone to feel … normal. But normality had gone, and I should not have gone that evening.

My doctor called the next day on Christmas Day to deliver my diagnosis. He was heading out of town for a break and had to wait for the pathology report himself. Still, it remains a painful memory – it “ruined” my Christmas. Then I knew I needed to pick up the phone to tell my parents and siblings that I too had melanoma. I say “too” because my dad was in his last weeks fighting the same disease – metastatic melanoma.

Now I share all of this to connect with those of you who won’t be going to holiday parties or church or who are even in the hospital reading this. You might feel like everyone’s having fun and enjoying themselves and you’re left out and hemmed in to loneliness and darkness. I felt those feelings that Christmas in 2002. But there’s hope – lot’s of it. I so I want to try to help you and me focus on the most important thing about the Christmas season and life, Jesus. Isaiah 9:2 says,

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.

This passage is part of one of the most beautiful pieces of poetry about Christmas, or about anything really, from Isaiah 9:1-7. It sets the context of the oppression and burdens that the people were under when Jesus was born into their country. Yet we too can experience His light and the release from burden and oppression from Jesus! So I want to unwrap this incredible gift of a Person from this passage to help us focus on what it’s all about. Drawing from Isaiah 9:6 & 7 (below in red), I intertwine some brief commentary on what He means or can mean to us (in green).

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;”
Jesus is the Father’s beloved child and Son whom He joyfully gifts to us to become our Savior, Lord, Brother and Friend! Quite a lot of hats He wears and He wears them all extremely well. He is the very best gift God could have ever given!

“And the government will rest on His shoulders;”
He’s got broad shoulders and can carry every load. In this day of flawed leaders, He is and will be the perfect leader of all nations and all beings – including the angels!

“And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor,”
He knows exactly what we need. He knows how to let us know what we need. He knows how to teach us to cope while we wait.

“Mighty God,”
He is not a merely a man who understands us, but He willingly shares His Divine power to enable us to cope with humanly impossible circumstances, like cancer, like grief.

“Eternal Father,”
He’s been around forever so He knows how to parent and provide for you and I, His dearly beloved children.

“Prince of Peace.”
He instills, even installs, His perfect peace into our innermost being. He’s the author of the peace which surpasses understanding. It doesn’t make sense to most people!

So though your life might be very difficult right now, seek to set your focus on THE gift, Jesus Christ, and what He has done for you and how much He loves you. You may just find that this Christmas is the deepest and most meaningful of your life!

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Beyond God With Us


-Joe Fornear

During the Christmas season, much is made about Jesus’ name, “Emmanuel,” which means He has come to be with us. And rightly so! It was an incredible expression of love and humility to leave heaven’s comfort to live among us. But there is so much more to the geography of His Presence. 

Diving deeper, we learn He lives “in” or inside of those who believe on Him as Savior (more here on how to believe on Him and invite Him inside you). So, double wow! He came to live on the planet AND to reside within you and me! But wait, there’s more …

Deeper still, not only has Jesus come to live among us and in us, our union with Him is so complete that Paul wrote,

For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. – Colossians 3:3-4

And,

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. – Galatians 2:20

It’s almost like we’ve partaken of the divine nature ourselves! Wait, that’s exactly what Peter wrote,

He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature. – 2 Peter 1:4

Our complete union with Him is such an amazing gift to enjoy at Christmas and every day. Let’s explore what this means in our daily lives:

  • Though we may be physically alone, we have the Great Companion to accompany and even more to complete us. We’ve arrived!
  • Though we feel overwhelmed, we have the Great Enabler infusing us with power to take the next step. We’re more than conquerors!
  • Though we beat ourselves up over our sin and weakness, we have the Great Encourager to root for us and lift us up. We are free from sin and condemnation.
  • Though we’re frustrated by our circumstances, the Tranquil One provides us perfect peace deep inside. I found this so true at those times when I leaned on Him during my battle with Stage IV metastatic melanoma cancer.

All of this happens internally! He doesn’t “come down” to earth to answer our prayers now – He springs up from within us to act on our behalf. Him and I are never separate! You and Him are never separate! I want to quit seeing Him as “out there,” rather He’s one with me – “in here”!

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PUSH – Pray Until Something Happens


-Joe Fornear

Someone once told me they “tried” prayer to change some unpleasant circumstances and it didn’t work. I think we’ve all been there. I certainly have. After asking God to intervene over and over with no change, it’s tempting to move on to other solutions. Yet hang on, there’s a better way.

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In my last Grip message, “We Can Live in the Eye of the Storm,” I covered how we can thrive in His peace in the midst of harsh circumstances. I also promised to discuss another big mistake we make in the midst of unanswered prayer. Here it is: We quit praying too soon! We can resign ourselves to a powerless, miracle-free life! What if God wants to remove the trial altogether in response to our prayers?

First, let me stress there’s been enough damage from overstated teaching on prayer and I don’t want to add. I’m not saying if we pray long enough and right enough we’re guaranteed to get the desired answer. Yet, in my view, there’s actually more understated teaching on prayer. (More on this point next time.) It’s undeniable though, Jesus and our Father urged us to persevere in prayer – don’t ever quit. One assumes for good reason. Consider these verses:

  • And he told them a parable that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. – Luke 18:1
  • Pray without ceasing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:17
  • Rejoice in hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. – Romans 12:12
  • To this end, we always pray for you, that our God will count you worthy of His calling, and that He will powerfully fulfill your every good desire and work of faith. – 2 Thessalonians 1:11
  • I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined to me, and heard my cry. – Psalm 40:1
  • Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. – Colossians 4:2
  • Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7

There’s a raw simplicity to Jesus’ counsel on prayer. In my opinion much of the confusion during harsh trials is reduced when we simply follow His direction. During my Stage IV cancer battle, I may not have understood why the trial was so intense, but I knew how He was asking me to pray. The bonus of persevering in prayer is He often answers later in the game; that is “late” from the human perspective. So let’s persevere in prayer up until the final whistle blows. Let’s PUSH – Pray Until Something Happens!

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Living in the Eye of the Storm


-Joe Fornear

So you’ve hit up everyone you know to pray for your physical healing from cancer. Perhaps deep in the night you’ve cried out to God for a better marriage. Maybe you’ve practically begged God for a different job. And a few might be interceding for all three of these at once! Yet often requests go unanswered.

So now what? When God allows troubles to linger, are we stuck in hopelessness, doomed to misery?eye-of-storm

Fortunately, Jesus spoke to this in His final days on earth. He said tribulations are an inevitable fact of life in this world, but we CAN have peace in spite of these troubles!

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

He made it crystal clear in advance – He will not answer every prayer to remove our trials, though of course He could. Yet He promises to forever provide us with an inner serenity so that circumstances don’t dictate our moods and well-being. We can live in the eye of the storm – in Him. Though frankly there were times I was overwhelmed, there were also several times I experienced this peace during my intense battle with Stage IV melanoma.

If you’re like me, when seeking peace in this life you make a huge but common mistake. It is insisting, even demanding, that peace must come through the removal of obstacles. Yet Jesus is offering His overcoming peace in the very presence of life’s pain and difficulties.

So join me in asking Him to teach us how to latch on to Him and His peace in the midst of trouble. This is one prayer that He’s guaranteed to answer! Next time I’ll discuss another big mistake we make in the midst of unanswered prayer.

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Where Is God While My Heart Breaks?


-Joe Fornear

I hear it in your voices. I read it in your emails and notes. I see it in your eyes. Your cancer battle is a beat down. Mine was too. If it’s not the cancer wreaking havoc, it’s the treatments. You might be wondering, “Where are You, God?” I have wondered.

As we’ve mentioned over and over in our blogs, and in our books, if we’re feeling forsaken in the midst of pain and grief, we’re in very good company. Even Jesus felt forsaken, but you know what, He was the only one Who ever was truly forsaken. The rest of the Father’s children have just felt forsaken. Jesus literally was forsaken as our sin fell on Him and He was punished in our place. This so we would never be forsaken. He says He never leaves us, right?broken-hearted-9-13-16-small

When Jesus started His ministry on earth, He gave us His “mission statement.” He succinctly told us what He wanted to accomplish among us and in us. His first priority – no surprise here – was to preach the gospel, to deliver His good news (more on that good news here).

His 2nd priority? To bind up the broken-hearted. This is what He does. It’s Who He is. It’s why He came! His mission statement and promises:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners… – Isaiah 61:1

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. – Psalms 147:3

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18

So, “Where is God while my heart breaks?” The answer is simple – He’s not far away – He is near! So don’t drift away from Him in disillusionment and numbness. Draw near to Him, He has drawn near to you. We can believe it because He promised, so don’t believe your emotions or lies in your head. This, my friends, is where He is while our hearts break. Meet Him at a location near you.

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