GOING DEEPER

website lines

Healing Power

“He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed” -1 Peter 2:24 

One of the many gifts of Jesus is that He is a healer. Since sin entered the world, God has been providing redemption to all people, first through old testament law, and second through salvation. Today, we all have the ability to be saved by accepting Jesus as our Lord, and by doing so we open ourselves up to the ultimate healing powers he has to offer and has promised us. Through closeness with Him we can be forever changed, never the same, and restored from all things past, present, and future.

“For though he wounds, he also bandages. He strikes, but his hands also heal.” Job 5:18

It seems healing occurs daily, hourly, minute by minute, but sometimes those faith building moments get overlooked…UNTIL…One specific, big, influential, life-changing prayer is answered. It is almost as if that one event clears the cloudiness that used to cover the other blessings, and suddenly our eyes are open to not just the BIG answered prayer, but all of the little ones.

Sometimes we keep all of the “coincidences” that happen to us in a vault locked by a code we ourselves do not even know, somewhere deep down in our soul. Sure, we noticed that we were sick and now we are not, or that we got in that car wreck that totaled our car, but we walked away with no injury. Instead of acknowledging that grandness, we simply write it off as good luck. We may even say “whew, God must have been there” and leave it at that. Then, at the next moment of doubt, we are right back to the cloud coverage of those blessings, locked tightly away, mostly forgetting they happened, and focusing more on the negativity surrounding us.

For me, this cycle continues over and over until BAAM! Something happens that is unquestionably God. There is silence in the loudness of life and we can hear His voice, physically feel his love, and allow healing powers to take us over. In a moment of complete clarity, a time where something we wanted and prayed for actually happens, we experience God as he wanted us to from the beginning. We are close. Connected. Loved.

During, or right after this time, if we look closely, all the clouds are gone, the vault is unlocked and we can remember all of the “tiny” events that lead to this larger one. In each of those thoughts, we see Jesus. Jesus, as we were meant to see Him. I could see Him standing in every single moment where I thought I was alone, and gain insight on how all of those moments were not only connected to each other, but lead to one moment of restoration.

Stay close to Jesus and do not miss the healing power he offers. The closer we are the more life-changing, redeeming moments we will have. The joy we can experience by letting go of our past pains, present worries, and future concerns is infinite if we allow Him to lead.

Zarmena Woods


Read more...

Then Sings Our Soul

At Triad Church we just finished a series, “When God Doesn’t Make Sense”. In the midst of life and our relationship with Him, we are constantly trying to gain understanding to what in the world He has planned for us. Many times, this seems so unclear that our faith dwindles, and we doubt His involvement in our life. If it doesn’t make sense, it must not be God, right? 

God has given us free will and intelligence as a human race. This means we can usually think and reason our way through any situation without seeking Truth and Its application to that situation. Although God knows what we are thinking, what we will do, and the outcome of it all, He wants access to our soul, freely given by us to Him. When life gets to a point “When God Doesn’t Make Sense”, our innermost being cries out…Then Sings Our Soul. 

Christianity can be a scary and shaky journey. When we want to control the outcome of our life, often, it seems things get worse and more out of control! God wants us to get to a point where our soul sings, cries out, and longs for Him. It is not our mind that chooses Him, it is our spirit. It is there His Spirit lives and we are connected.

So, When God Doesn’t Make Sense to us, we should check ourselves. Are we pouring our faith out from our soul, or our mind? Are we actually trusting Him, which means it may not make sense to us? If we trust Him, things just ARE. Sense or not, we move in obedience through all of the pain, heartache, fear, turmoil, and confusion to glorify Him. 

Our soul should sing and shout His praises! In fact, there is an entire book in the Bible that does this, Psalms. When reading Psalms, you can feel the depth of the cries of worship. It is deeper than just words written on a page, it is spirit-filled and sincere. This also occurs other places in the Bible, such as Isaiah and Revelation.

“Sing to the LORD a new song, sing His praise from the ends of the earth! You who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and those who dwell on them.” – Isaiah 42:10

“And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth.” – Revelation 14:3

The verse in Revelation speaks to the exclusivity of songs from the soul. “No one could learn the song except the 144,000 purchased from the earth”. God purchased our souls through the death and blood of Jesus. Only because of this can we sing such songs from the deepest parts of us. The emotion and intensity involved in singing is much greater than talking. How does it feel when you just simply read the lyrics to a song in a monotone, drab way, compared to belting it to a rhythm, and with a passionate roar? When our soul sings, we are like children screaming our favorite nursery rhymes, open, unafraid, and vulnerable. 

When God Doesn’t Make Sense to us, we need to look beyond our comprehension, and instead to His, letting our souls sing songs of acknowledgement and acceptance of His power and plan. 

“Behold I have a friend
The Spirit breathing holy fire within
My ever-present help
Speaking truth when I can’t find it

Light up this broken heart and light my way
‘Til my time on earth is done
Oh, Holy Spirit
Breathe in me like Kingdom come

Oh, Holy Spirit
Let Your work in me be done”

-Hillsong Worship (Behold)

 

 
Zarmena Woods

Read more...

“It Must Be Nice…”

If you start any thought or phrase with “It must be nice….” You are probably offended. “It must be nice to not have to work”, “It must be nice to grow up with 2, married parents”, “It must be nice to have money and not worry about bills”, “It must be nice to have a job and time away from your kids every day”. All of these are signs of offense.

Where does offense come from though? We know it is certain, Jesus said so, but how does it happen? Well, one way is through the lies we hear leading to discontentment. Most of the time, offense stems from falsely assigned jealousy. We want something someone else has, and in return we either offend them, or get offended by them.

The Bible says “Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest” (Proverbs 16:8). If we apply words like “little” and “rich” to our situation, not just to a measure of money, or having more or less, we can see that we all are rich in some areas and have little in others. Some of us are rich in time, but feel like we are worth only a little. Some of us are rich in money, but feel like we have little time with our family. The point is, we all have “little” in something, but with godliness, we can and should be content.

Freedom comes in obedience. Addressing an offense, the way God says to, whether warranted or not, will free us from the possible discontent that created the feelings of offense in the first place. If we feel discontent with our full-time job, or lack of close friends in the church, or relationship with Jesus, we may often find ourselves offended by those who do not work full time, seem to have plenty of close friends at church, and an admirable relationship with Jesus.

When we get offended let’s start to first look inward. If we have done that, and are still offended, let us commit to handling offense Biblically, reaching out to our brother or sister immediately instead of harboring an unwanted spirit.

“A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people” (2 Timothy 2:24). In order for us to grow with each other as followers, so that we may affect and show truth to those who do not yet know, we must learn to act in kindness, and with patience toward our differences. In this, we can learn contentment, happiness, and peace with what we have or don’t, knowing and trusting we are in exactly the right place, with the appropriate amount of all things, because God has his hand on us. Let’s become more content, less offended and offensive, and work towards the ultimate command to “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need” (Luke 12:31).


Read more...

Fasting & Obeying

2 John 1:16 says, “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning. His command is that you walk in love.” To obey God is to love God. Obedience is a tricky one because to obey you must first listen. Hearing God in our lives, clearly, is very difficult in the day to day hustle and bustle. BUT if we want to truly love Him, we need to listen, and obey.

Notice we do not listen, then think about it, then talk about it, THEN finally obey; He says it, we do it. For most of us this is not easy. There are many reasons we may not immediately rush to fulfill the command of God.

Recently, I participated in our church-wide, 3-day fast. I heard God tell me to fast TV, so I hesitantly did. Here was the reason for the hesitation: “Everyone else isn’t eating, what is TV going to do, if I am going to do it I should have to do what everyone else is doing”, “Fasting TV just isn’t enough God”. Basically, I heard, and thought, and questioned, and finally obeyed because I knew I was supposed to, not because my heart was bought in. Guess what? God used my fasting TV to answer a prayer that I have been praying for literally years!!

When we think what God is asking us to do is not “enough” in comparison to others, or we decide not to trust what we heard, we are NOT loving Him. Revelation 14:12 says, “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.” Patient endurance sounds like an almost impossible task. Endurance alone is tough, but now patience too? Yes, to obey God means we need to know things may not go the way WE think they should. We do not get to plan the conclusion or outcome of our obedience, only that we do what is commanded.

If God can do so much in 3 days with a church of people both corporately and individually, what can he not do in a year? Let’s be encouraged to spend 2018 obeying God IMMEDIATELY, no matter the outcome, even if we don’t understand, and be amazed by what he can do.
 
Zarmena Woods

Read more...

Light in the Morning

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning – Psalm 30:5

There is something about the night time that is unsettling. The darkness sets, the sun ceases to shine, and the world becomes quiet. Lights go out in houses, eyes close, and minds wander. Crime and chaos seem enhanced in the night, almost as if darkness increases bravery to act in ways that we know are fundamentally wrong.

And then, the morning comes. Light appears. The sun shines. Newness of the day sets in.

We are so lucky to have a father who decided to give us day and night. Can you imagine a life where we lived in constant darkness, or constant light? It is the contrast of the two that makes each day fulfilling and motivating. We know that with each night comes a new day. Whatever happened the day before seems to have a way of becoming less intense in the dawn of the morning. There is a hopefulness that arises in us each morning saying, “We can do this!”.

I think God created the two backgrounds, night and day, to give us insight to who he is. He is the light. He makes all things new. It is no wonder that with each sunrise we feel inspired, because it is a reminder He is with us. Without the night, we would not experience the amazingness of the day.

For many of us, either currently or in our past, our household stability is lacking or non-existent. For me, this meant dreading each evening in my home as a child. The day time was wonderful! I was surrounded by people, laughter, and learning. Then, the darkness would begin as the sun set, and fear of the unknown of what the night would bring would begin. That feeling of anxiety and loneliness is crippling.

We can rest assured in the night that there will always be a morning. God never fails to comfort us with the light of a new day, a new chance, an everlasting light that can carry us through the darkness in our life. Darkness is not scary with the Lord by our side. He shines in the gloomiest of situations.

Whatever darkness is a part of or ruling your life, find the light of the morning and the hope of the Savior. It is now, and always will be there.
 
Zarmena Woods
 

Read more...

He’s Not Weird.

He’s Not Weird.
 
Things that ARE weird:

Balloons are so weird… “Happy birthday, here’s a plastic sack of my breath.” –Bill Murray

Eyebrows– “Eyebrows are so weird when you think about it, they’re just lines of hair on your face.” -Anonymous

Clapping– “When you think about it clapping is so weird. ‘Oh, I like what is happening right now let me smash my hands together to express my delight’.” -Anonymous

Those are just a few examples of weird things, and I am sure we can come up with so many more!! Weird means to “induce a sense of disbelief or alienation in someone.”

The Holy Spirit. He’s NOT Weird.

In fact, based on the definition of making something weird, he is the opposite. He does not induce disbelief, instead he brings confidence. He does not alienate, he is close and eliminates feelings of isolation. He is not weird, he is God, and our gift to connect us to a creator that we cannot speak with or see.

The Holy Spirit convicts and comforts, affirms and denies. I see him as my mirror. As decisions are made, or thoughts are considered, he will reflect me to myself saying “How does that decision look to you?”, or “How does that feeling look on you?”. When I am insecure, he will hold up a mirror and say, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made” (

Psalm 139:14). When I am afraid, he will hold up a mirror and say, “You do not have a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7)

He is our reflection of ourselves and of God simultaneously. He can show us what we look like in a moment by convicting us, and at the same time display the will of God to reassure us. He is our conscience, our confirmation, our teacher and most importantly our friend. He will never leave us alone, or ask us to try to decipher this life’s ups and downs without aid.

If we ask him to, he will be by our side through every single moment, forever.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” – John 14:26
 
Zarmena Woods

Read more...

Live Like It’s Sunday!

A Holy Nation

When pride in physical culture supersedes our love for all people…we have a problem” –Pastor Dan

 

Ephesians 2:19-22  – Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

 

“I am Italian”. This would be my response to the question “What ethnicity are you?”. I have been raised and taught to be proud of this, to exemplify my heritage through the food I cook, flag I show, people I identify with, etc. Honestly, I would answer Italian before American. I hold such pride and status to this identity that it defines me. I NEED people to know I am Italian because for some reason that makes me think they will get me. Just by knowing one little fact about me, people can infer so much. The Truth I know is what I was raised to know by my family.

 

Until Sunday.

 

I wonder what would happen if someone asked us “What is your ethnicity?” and we answered “Christian”. Before identifying with Italian, or American, or Asian, or Russian, could we change our mindset to be identified by our royal family instead? Think about it. So much of who we are aligns with something other than God. How would people distinguish you? For me, people know I am an Eagles Fan, a Mom, Italian, a Personal Trainer, etc. I do not know that every person I encounter knows I represent the living Savior.

 

We are a part of a family, THE family. Being Christian is an identity, not a religion. We are a chosen generation by God. We can choose to be Catholic, Baptist, or any religion, but we are CHOSEN to be Christian, no matter what other identifier we decide to link to. The only choice needed is to decide to be a part of the regeneration (Re-Geneing) by believing in and claiming Christ as our Savior. Will we continue to choose to reject our identity by just showing up to church and being “good people”, or will choose to be “God people” and have our life reflect him.

 

We were chosen to tell the world the solution, the peace that exists, the time is now.

 

Galatians 3:28  – There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
 
Zarmena Woods

Read more...

Follow Me: Make Disciples

Excerpts from Follow Me study:
 
Jesus transformed everything about the disciples’ lives: their thoughts, their desires, their wills, their relationships, and ultimately their very purpose for living. Not surprisingly, the Book of Matthew ends with Jesus’ command for His disciples to make more disciples – what we know as the Great Commission:
 
Jesus came to them and said, ” All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:8-20
 
What are your initial reactions to Jesus’ words in these verses?
 
Do Jesus’ commands in these verses apply to you? Why or why not?
 
Considering Jesus’ call makes me wonder what we’re missing now. When I look at the church today, it seems that we’ve taken the costly command of Christ to go, baptize, and teach all nations and mutated it into a comfortable call for people to come, be baptized, and sit in one location. Many Christians seem to have exempted themselves from any personal responsibility to fish for men, and I’m convinced the majority of Christians wouldn’t identify making disciples of all nations as their primary purpose in life.
 
What’s your reaction to the previous statements?
 
Is making disciples of all nations the primary goal for your life? What evidence supports your answer?
 

Read more...

Follow Me: A New Creation

Excerpt from Follow Me daily study:
 
If anyone understood the rigors and pressures of superficial religion, it was Nicodemus. Trained as a teacher of the law and a ruler among God’s people, Nicodemus was like many professing Christians today: he possessed a measure of belief in and respect for Jesus while ordering his life around the commands of Scripture. He prayed and went to worship. He read and taught the Bible. He lived a good, decent, moral life.
 
For Nicodemus, everything was right on the outside, but something was wrong on the inside. Despite all the religious stuff he did, he had no spiritual life; he was empty. Fortunately, he came to Jesus seeking that spiritual life.
 
Jesus’ answer to Nicodemus’s questions was puzzling at first. He said, ” I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). Jesus elaborated a couple verses later , saying, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit (v. 5).
 
What images or ideas come to mind when you hear the phrase born again? Why?
 
That phrase “born of water and the Spirit” is key to understanding what Jesus was saying because it points back to an important passage from the Old Testament:
     I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Ezekiel 36:25-27
 
What images or phrases strike you as most interesting in these verses? Why?
 
How do these verses connect with Jesus’ words to Nicodemus?
 
What Ezekiel wrote about is exactly what Jesus came to do. He came to cleanse us of our sin through His sacrifice on the cross; to wash us with “clean water” (v. 25). And in doing so, He gives us something infinitely more valuable: a new heart. We’re born again! He gives us His Spirit to live in us and change us from the inside out. This is what it means to experience supernatural regeneration. 
 
That’s why Paul wrote these joyful, exuberant words in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
 
That’s also why the Bible teaches that faith alone is the only way to experience salvation from sin. Faith is the antiwork. It’s the realization that we can do nothing to help ourselves except trust in what Jesus has done for us through His life, death, and resurrection.
 
Have you experienced supernatural regeneration? How can you tell?

Read more...

Follow Me: Adopted by God

Excerpts from Follow Me study guides:
 
Think about Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John as they walked with Jesus along the Sea of Galilee. Do you think these men knew how their lives were going to change when they left their fishing businesses to follow Jesus?
 
In what ways has your life changed since you began following Jesus?
 
In which areas of your life do you most see the need for on-going change?
 
Are you willing for Jesus to change these areas? If so, tell Him right now.
 
Search the Scriptures:
 
Read Galatians 4:4-5 and Ephesians 1:5. What do these verses tell you about your relationship with God? Throughout Scripture, God uses the picture of adoption to describe His relationship with His people.
 
When did God begin the process of adopting you into His family?
 
Read Psalm 139:13

Read more...