Tag Archives: Stronghold Ministry

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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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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Grab On!


-Joe Fornear

Last weekend I was giving out Stronghold Ministry gift baskets at a Relay for Life in my hometown of Pittsburgh. My three sisters were with me at the Stronghold Ministry tent and my brother’s band was playing. They announced the time for cancer survivors to take their lap. One of my brother’s friends relentlessly encouraged me to take the lap. In my mind, I wasn’t there for me. Yet to humor him, I hit the track. I had never even been to a Relay for Life, and I was caught off guard by all of the cheering people lining the track. They were acknowledging the difficulty of our cancer battles. I flashbacked 13 years to the pain and powerlessness of my Stage IV journey – and to the amazing support of my family, friends and most of all, of the Lord, My Stronghold.Jesus reaching water - Goodsalt - 6-22-16 - cropped

I cling to You; Your right hand upholds me. – Psalm 63:8

If you’re like me, you have your good days when you feel you can conquer the world. Then along comes a wave of pain or a huge gust of bad news and you get all wobbly. I remember the times of overcoming and the times of sinking – just like Peter.

But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” – Matthew 14:30

Think about it, he actually walked on the surface of the stormy Sea of Galilee! Yet eventually, his faith wavered when doubts and fears crept in and down he went. Isn’t that the rub with walking above your circumstances – consistency?

The good news for Peter, and you and I, is The Master of Storms is always around us. Like a dad who patiently trains his child to ride a bike, He steadies and lifts us up when we fall. So c’mon, let’s take a victory lap while clinging to Him – grab on.

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Finding and Being an Oasis


-Joe Fornear

Why is this happening to me? A common human response to difficult times. Oasis in the desertIt’s evidently not a problem to ask this question of God – even Jesus asked on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” It’s also not a badge of honor to refrain from asking why. The Lord wants to show us His purposes in our trials:

No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. – John 15:5

Certainly, one of His goals during trials is to reveal Himself on a level not possible if our lives were trouble-free! This revelation of Him bubbles up and out to those in similarly hard times. Thus, we not only find an oasis in the desert, we become one! Paul certainly believed God was leveraging his troubles in this manner:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-6

The good news is the comfort He provides always matches the level of sufferings endured. And evidently He promises enough to share with others as well! So we receive His amazing comfort not only to alleviate our own pain and grief, but to spread it to others.

I could not “waste my sorrows” and bury the comfort I found during my Stage IV cancer battle. I am compelled to share both the challenges of the rough battle and the Lord’s provision through it all, including His ability to heal. Eventually the Lord lead my wife Terri and I to launch Stronghold Ministry, a care and support ministry to cancer patients and others in crisis. Yet the Lord wants each of us to leverage our troubles in our own unique way. The possibilities and opportunities are endless. If you run out of ideas – write to us and ask about our Stronghold Ministry “Ambassador” project. We can work together.

I get that after the battle subsides, some want to run far away from cancer. But every caretaker or patient is sitting on a depth of insight that only first hand experience can fully comprehend. Why me? Why you? What if He allows our battles, whether it be cancer or another trial, so we will be an inspiration and hope to many in the same ordeal? One helping many – the math alone explains why!

Here’s to leveraging our trials and being an oasis of His comfort to many!

About Those Clouds Following You

-Joe Fornear

A freeing thought today for my friends and their caretakers who are fighting cancer: Go easy on yourself! Goodness & Mercy - 3-16-16

The beatdown of treatments and cancer not only weakens the body, but also the spirit and soul. During an incredibly intense battle, our physical immunities decrease over time, and so do our emotional and spiritual defenses. We may feel overwhelmed by fears, depression, and self-pity, forming a gray cloud which seems to follow us around.

Yet do not fear or be frustrated with your inability to cope, this is where the Lord is holding on to you! He taught me this truth during my Stage IV cancer battle when they gave me just days to live in 2003. He has a strong hold on us! This is why we named our ministry, Stronghold Ministry.

Remember what He tells us through David in Psalm 23:6:

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life!

Think above and beyond that gray cloud for a moment. Hovering far above are two huge billowing clouds of pure love – His Goodness and His Mercy. Just as His Presence followed the Israelites in the wilderness in the form of a cloud, these clouds are His Presence with and for us! He follows us to watch over and bless us. So let Him carry you – float you. This is truly a difficult battle, so don’t be hard on yourself, He’s not. Rest easy in His grip, my friends.

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Love Floats – You!


– Joe Fornear

There is a new 1000 foot glass footbridge in China spanning 600 feet above a valley. above clouds- love- 1-28-16There are videos of people frozen on the bridge or crawling across because they’re so freaked out by the height. For many, 600 feet seems to be quite a long way – but 600 feet is nothing.

Imagine walking across a glass bridge in the heavens, miles above the earth. As you look down and all around, picture the huge expanses not to be clouds and air, but a humongous pool of God’s love for you. Right, that’s a lot of love. Now visualize all of that love enveloping you – and dive in. Let the purest of loves carry you along over your earthly troubles. Go ahead, float there in your imagination for a while…

The good news is you don’t have to pretend this type of love to be true – God says it is true! And some of His freest children, David and Paul, discovered this fact long ago. They call to us today to join them in being caught up by the Lord’s incredible love as well:

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. – David in Psalm 36:5.

(I pray) that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. – Paul in Ephesians 3:17-20.

“Yeah, yeah,” you might say, “I know God loves me.” Yet note Paul insists God’s love “surpasses knowledge.” In other words, it’s something you know and feel, and He wants us be filled up with this love! Words don’t do justice. Paul says it’s incomprehensibly wide, long, tall and deep! That’s a lot of love – extending up into the heavens.

So cuddle up to The One who is crazy about you and cares deeply about everything you face in life. Picture His love melting away each and every fear you’ve ever had. See His love releasing you of all tensions, worries and cares. He’s got you. Exhale. Smile. Soak. Float in His love. Repeat often.

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Keep Calm and Cry Out to Jesus

 

– Joe Fornear

Once during a particularly rough patch in my Stage IV cancer battle, a nurse popped unexpectedly into my hospital room. She must have noticed my eyes were watering a little. She presented a pain level chart with ten emojis. Busted, I pointed to the face cry outwith tears on the cheeks – pain level 10. So she gave me what seemed like a cart load of meds, which helped for a time, but I still needed something more. When she left, I began to “cry out” to God, my Stronghold. I suddenly felt His Presence and comfort giving me super-natural strength to bear up under the pain. Can’t get that from a shot or pill.

Sometimes life’s pain can be so physically and/or emotionally draining that something needs to give… quickly. When even the best of human efforts makes little difference, there is always something we can do – “cry out” to the Lord.

Now some might think crying out is a sign of weakness. Right, it is. One of the “aha moments” in my own fight with cancer was to admit how weak I was, because well, I was pretty weak – still am. And now, while helping people fight their cancer, I often find myself encouraging people to embrace their weakness, giving them “permission to be weak.” As Paul said:

Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:10

The Bible’s list of “weak” people who have cried out to the Lord in the midst of affliction is lengthy and impressive: Job & Hezekiah (when they were sick); David (when he was hunted by murderous enemies), Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Habakkuk, Paul (when asking God to remove his troubles – his “thorn in the flesh”), Peter (while sinking in the lake), even saints and angels in heaven. And yes, Jesus too:

In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. – Hebrews 5:7

No matter what happens, on the worst of days or years, He is there and He cares and strengthens us when we cry out. King David had many occasions to cry out and he always seemed to get something back from the Lord:

In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears. – Psalm 18:6

I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up, and have not let my enemies rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me. – Psalm 30:1-2 (He can heal straight up – emotionally or physically!)

I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord. How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood. Psalm 40:1-4

The final cry we share today is, according to the title of Psalm 102, “A Prayer of the Afflicted when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the LORD.” Appropriate, as it shows that crying out is for all us afflicted ones… of all generations:

But You, O LORD, abide forever, and Your name to all generations. You will arise and have compassion on Zion; For it is time to be gracious to her, for the appointed time has come. Psalm 102:12-13

People say a good cry cleanses the soul, but a good “cry out” to Jesus Christ the Savior can even bring eternal cleansing of our soul. Have you cried out to Him for eternal salvation, believing in Him alone for forgiveness of all your sin? I’ve done this and am incredibly glad! More on how and why here. And let us know if you received Jesus as your Savior through a book, blog, email or tract from Stronghold Ministry, we’d like to encourage you more and it will encourage us. We’re crying out for your good!

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Just. Be. Held.

– Joe Fornear

Sometimes a song can say it all… and help us sense the goodness of His grip on us. This song is titled, “Just Be Held,” by Casting Crowns. The lead singer, Mark Hall, is now in a cancer battle, but he helped write the song a couple years ago. Meditate and rest in Him.

Just Be Held
Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong,
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on.

And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go.

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away,
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held.
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place.
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held,
Just be held, just be held.

If your eyes are on the storm
You’ll wonder if I love you still,
But if your eyes are on the cross
You’ll know I always have and I always will.

And not a tear is wasted
In time, you’ll understand,
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands.

Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you’ll find Me.
And where you are, I’ll hold your heart,
I’ll hold your heart.
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who won’t let you go.

Find out more on how Joe found himself In the Grip of our Stronghold during his Stage IV cancer battle. His book, My Stronghold – A Pastor’s Battle with Cancer and Doubts, is part of our Free gift basket to cancer patients.

He Completed Me

– Terri Fornear

Step 10 – Continue to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admit it.Complete in Christ - 2-20-15

Step 10 reminds me that freedom is a daily process. My personal daily inventory always starts with the Gift of Righteousness which was once for all given to me, and Jesus is at the right hand of the Father “loving me out loud” to the Father:

Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. – Hebrews 7:25

Then peace, courage, patience, love, joy spring daily from His life within me.

In Your presence is fullness of joy; This is where my pleasure is today and forever. – Psalm 16:11

For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them. – Galatians 6:15

Step 10 helps me tune in to those moments when this peace of Christ is disturbed in me. Contrary feelings that perk up are insecurity, fear, resentments, loneliness, self-pity. These feelings may stem from the inventory I took in step 4. I might have received a message from a person or a situation that made me feel incomplete. I stepped out of my completeness in Christ – though He never left me.

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone complete in Christ. Colossians 1:28

When I step out of completeness, my flesh or self-centered part, becomes demanding and compulsive about getting what I need in unhealthy ways. This opens me up to hurting others who are “in the way.”

Step 10 wakes me up each day to being aware of my source of Life, whether flesh or Spirit. The Spirit actually leads me to love myself first – by receiving Christ’s view of me. Then loving others comes easier as I’m living out of completeness and fullness, not out of need or duty. Then I can go to anyone I’ve hurt and apologize without losing the truth about myself.

My job in Step 10 is to “keep myself in the love of God” (Jude 1:21) and to love others – in freedom.

Find out how Terri applies God’s Word to “situations” in her life. Her book, Dealing with Feelings, is part of our Free gift basket to cancer patients.

Overcoming Being Overwhelmed

 

– Joe Fornear

I recently got a note from a sweet woman with young kids whose husband was just told, “There is nothing we can do for you.” mountain- mission possible- 2-6-14She asked if I had any thoughts. No one ever wants to hear those words, still we have to boldly face bad news to keep it from overwhelming us. As Job said, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10). So in this post I thought I’d share my response to her.

“Well first I know and remember this sense of desperation well, as they gave me days to live in May 2003. They used the h-word – recommending I go on hospice. Tumors were invading both sides of my pancreas, causing excrucitating pain. I had lesions in a lung and a kidney and a big patch in my groin that grew through and fractured one of my sitting bones – ischium bone. I felt so out of control, but I kept telling myself three things:

1) Though I was totally out of control, God never is. So try to rest in His complete sovereignty over everything – God is way bigger than cancer. It’s never over until HE says it’s over, and He can heal at any old stage of cancer. So have hope that He CAN heal and also believe that healing is His default position.

But He (Jesus) said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” – Luke 18:27

2) Soak up HIS supernatural peace, the peace which He says “surpasses all understanding.” In other words, His peace doesn’t make human sense because it can make us relax even when earthly circumstances stink. God is at rest all of the time. He never panics – nor should we – even during impossible times.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:7

3) Face the possibility that He may choose not to heal – on this side. Do not fear this possibility. He will walk us through whatever He allows. In fact, even if we get healed a hundred times in life, we will all eventually face our mortality of both ourselves and loved ones. Yet let this sink deep into your heart and mind – His children will absolutely never be alone or abandoned to fend for ourselves (How to know if you’re His child? – click here). His Presence always goes with us and there is absolutely nothing to fear. So be bold and courageous about your future. Don’t let the enemies of doubt and fear chip away at your sense of well-being in the Lord. He holds your future and even if it is very hard – it is very bright!

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. – Psalm 23:4-6

I found that fighting cancer is a supernatural endeavor – not a do-it-yourself project. Lean on Him and ask Him to teach you how to fight with His supernatural resources. Thus, we end with Paul’s advice:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. – Ephesians 6:10

Find out more on what Joe found in God’s Word to fight bad news. His book, My Stronghold – A Pastor’s Battle with Cancer and Doubts, is part of our Free gift basket to cancer patients.

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-If you’re fighting cancer, please write and let us know how we can pray for you. We want to be “in your corner” and send you some free resources. -In His Grip is also sent as an email newsletter, a ministry of Stronghold Ministry – sign up here. All materials in this blog copyright (c) Joe & Terri Fornear. Scripture quotations from the NASB.

Amending Fences

 

-Terri Fornear

Step 9 – Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.picket fence

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. – James 5:16

I love this verse because God is telling us to say sorry to each other because we have the gift of “right-ness” in us so we do not need to defend or hide. We are okay all day long, even when we have hurt ourselves and others. Jesus’ blood is so loud over us all day long – when we are doing it right and when we are doing it wrong.

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense— Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. – 1 John 2:1-2

Doing Step 9

My work in Step 5 in naming my EXACT wrong will help me with Step 9. It’s so easy for me to have a false humility that says I am sorry for anything and everything so I can have a false peace in the situation. Sometimes I’d rather be wrong than honest! The exact wrong helps me to look at what my flesh has done to hurt another person.

For an example, I will use a situation with my husband, Joe, when I corrected him abruptly during a meeting. In this case, because of walking in fear or anxiety (my #1 flesh issue), I cut him off and blamed him for something that wasn’t right. I could tell it bothered him. So what was the exact nature of the wrong that I did to him? I was judgmental, critical, short and disrespectful.

Making a Direct Amend

Now while it is good for me to know the roots of my hurtful actions, this is not the time to explain to Joe why I disrespected him. So I want to go to him and simply say, “I’m sorry for rudely correcting you in that meeting. That was unkind of me. Will you forgive me?” Then I should listen to his hurt and feelings about how I treated him.

Making a sincere direct amends is my part in experiencing freedom and building bridges with those I hurt.

Find out how Terri applies God’s Word to “situations” in life. Her book, Dealing with Feelings, is part of our free gift basket to cancer patients.

Are We There Yet?

 

– Joe Fornear

Exhaustion… terrible inconvenience… unsanitary conditions… a nightmare scenario. Maybe God is manger Dec 2014trying to tell us something about life by the circumstances in which our King Jesus entered into our world.

Our journeys can be difficult and lengthy, like Mary’s. On that famous 80 mile trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem – who said she rode on a donkey? The Bible makes no mention of that. It’s likely Mary walked the entire four to six day trip while nine months pregnant, accounting for why they were such late arrivals in Bethlehem.

Along the way, Mary & Joseph’s nightly visits at “inns” probably entailed staying with animals. By the time Jesus was born in a Bethlehem stable, she may have grown accustomed to living with animals. Still, to the shepherds, a baby lying in a manger was truly a “sign.” In other words, even in that day, this was a “nightmare” delivery for any mom to have to lay her newborn in an animal’s feeding trough. And c’mon, there was room for them at the inn! There was just no room in anyone’s heart to give up their room for this baby to born.

So why did God allow such a distressing entry into the world for His Only Begotten? Sometimes faith is not about securing the removal of trouble, but being secure in the face of trouble.

A familiar Bible verse in 2 Timothy 4:7 uses a verb and noun for the “fight” of faith with a similar Greek root word – agonizo.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.

This word means “to contend earnestly; struggle; labor fervently.” We get our word “agony” from this word! Paul uses it several times to describe his prayer life. Certainly this contending applies to our physical, emotional and spiritual battles against cancer. I put everything I had into my fight and it took it all.

Joe’s full story in book form, My Stronghold, is part of our free gift basket to cancer patients.

Yet folks, until Jesus comes back, this life will have its share of agonizing battles! In Matthew 24, Jesus prophesies a series of cataclysmic tribulations – earthquakes, wars, famines. He calls them “birth pangs” – the “labor” of God’s universe to bring Him forth once for all in glorious fashion. So with bookends of tribulation marking both Jesus’ first and second coming, is it any wonder that “in the meantime” we have troubles? Some day these troubles will go away forever – no more tears or pain – but we’re not there yet.

(More here on how to get to heaven).

Yet rest well in this, my fighting friend, He who suffered much knows how to help those who suffer much. This Christmas lean into Him, earnestly agonize with Him – He gets it.

God’s Heart for You!

– Joe Fornear

We made this meditation video to encourage you in your cancer battle or any crisis. This meditation is from Psalm 139, God’s heart for the sufferer. You might be surprised by the frequency and nature of His thoughts toward you!

Request a free gift basket from Stronghold Ministry for you or someone you know who is fighting cancer.
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-If you’re fighting cancer, please write and let us know how we can pray for you. We want to be “in your corner” and send you some free resources. -In His Grip is also sent as an email newsletter, a ministry of Stronghold Ministry – sign up here. All materials in this blog copyright (c) Joe & Terri Fornear. Scripture quotations from the NASB.

Lighten Your Load

– Terri Fornear

Step 7  – We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.weight while racing - 7-25-14

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Hebrews 12:1

In the 6th and 7th steps, we become willing to let go of our defects, issues, behaviors, old feelings, unresolved grief, and beliefs that keep us weighed down.

My initial problem was my old nature – which was dead toward God (Ephesians 2:1-3). I couldn’t change it; train it; or make it “devoted” or pleasing enough for God.

I love how Paul says in Romans 6:3-5, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death… burial (v. 4) … and resurrection (v. 5)?”  There’s something here that we must first know or see; then believe; and then be willing to wear as our LIFE – our union with Christ on the cross. All of His work and none of our work.

No shortcuts… no self-help programs… no religious devotion plans. Just the LIFE of Christ in me and the new heart He has given me in the New Covenant. Walking by faith in His provision, which bears fruit in due season.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. – Hebrews 8:10

I wish I could say that I do not deal with anxiety and worry after Joe’s cancer battle! But no, these two enemies sneak into my life in many ways, tempting me to take over the reins of my life. Step 7 allows me to HUMBLY ask God to remove my shortcomings.

I love this step! It puts Jesus finished work center stage! I either believe His work works or I continue practicing religion without Him!

And in Him you have been made complete, … and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the circumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him. – Colossians 2:10

My true self is already as it should be. It is not something that I whip into shape – as it is the seed of Christ in Me!!!! That seed takes over where my powerlessness ends. His work becomes bigger as my eyes are open to God’s will – which WAS done on the cross!

Props to Coping with Crisis

-Joe Fornear

Last summer I was out on the lake in my 25-year-old boat, which you can think of as a giant fish magnet – just saying. At one point I decided to move so I started the motor and shifted into gear.boat ride - 7-11-14 Yet whenever I increased the throttle, the motor would only roar – there was no movement. A few guys stopped by to troubleshoot, until one finally towed me into the dock.

As I was pulling the boat out of the water on the trailer, I mentioned to a guy that my motor sounded great, but the boat wouldn’t go. While I was tying the boat down in the parking lot, he walked over and said, “Maybe your boat won’t go because it has no propeller.”

Sure enough the prop had come loose, spun clean off the shaft, and fallen into the lake. When the boat was in the water, no one could see that it had come off. I was embarrassed, but relieved there was a simple solution.

This boat breakdown was a bit like coping in my own strength during my Stage IV cancer battle. The Lord was “ever present” with His incredible power, but like a motor without a prop, I was not utilizing Him. I insisted on being strong in myself, and I was going nowhere slow – just drifting on the water.

I believe the key to coping with crisis is dependence on His power. In Paul’s prayer for the Colossians, the result of this dependence is great endurance, patience and joyful thanksgiving – which would come in handy in a cancer battle or in everyday life!

… being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father… – Colossians 1:11-12

Paul was no stranger to hardship. He mastered some miserable circumstances – jailings, whippings, beating and stonings. He knew what it took to not just survive, but to thrive. So like Paul, let’s allow dependence on God’s power to propel us forward into great endurance and patience, even joy.

You might be thinking: “Joy now, in the midst of my awful circumstances? No way!” But Jesus said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God!”