Freedom Friday: Why I Still Wear my LIVESTRONG Bracelet and Listen to the Song “Healer”

My dad gave me a LIVESTRONG bracelet to wear as I ran my 2nd 5K in 2008.

I had raised over $1000 for cancer research and was super excited to run. This was my first race to run for those who can’t run themselves. I’ve worn it for every race since.

My dad had been wearing one for a long time and supported the LIVESTRONG foundation in other ways. He identified with Lance Armstrong’s own battle with cancer and his decision to live life to the fullest as long as he is able.

Lance Armstrong admitted to doping shortly after my father died of cancer.

I still wear my LIVESTRONG bracelet.

Running the Baltimore Marathon in Oct. 2013, LIVESTRONG bracelet on

Running the Baltimore Marathon in Oct. 2013, LIVESTRONG bracelet on


Michael Guglielmucci composed the song “Healer” in late 2006 after announcing he was dying of cancer. This song was a popular choice at the church we attended in Boston prior to moving to Virginia. I cried through many choruses, declaring, “I believe You’re my healer, I believe You are all I need,” all the while recognizing that God didn’t appear to be healing my father. I sang with passion, “You walk with me through fire; You heal all my disease. I trust in You – I trust in You,” knowing that trust is a choice to believe in God’s character, to rely on His goodness, to ask for His eyes to see clearly when nothing seems to be making sense.

At some point in the last year, I was told about the history of the song which had surfaced in 2008. Michael Guglielmucci had faked his illness, an attempt to create a diversion from a 16-year battle with pornography addiction.

I still sing the song “Healer.”


We often lack true grace in our society. I’m not talking about sloppy or cheap grace – the counterfeit that allows us to continue in our sin when God beckons us to live in freedom.

I’m talking about real grace.

The kind of grace that Jesus extended to the woman caught in adultery, recounted in John 8 – grace that extends a hand when you’re down, helps you up, and then commands you to “Go and sin no more.”

The kind of grace that Jesus talked about when He said to forgive “seventy times seven” times.

The kind of grace that hung from a cross so that we could have a chance at the abundant life of freedom we were created to live.

How many second chances has Jesus given you?

What about third? Fourth? Fifth? One hundredth?

We need to learn about true grace. We want justice; we don’t want to forgive. We laugh at others’ failures in hopes that somehow, it shows us in a better light. We try to negotiate when forgiveness is appropriate, as if Jesus’s words weren’t clear. We don’t extend to others the grace we expect for ourselves.

I wear my LIVESTRONG bracelet (I don’t wear the original one my dad give me; I now wear his) as a reminder to live a life of goodness, one of my father’s aspirations. I wear it, reminded of a man named Lance Armstrong who had imperfections, but chose to do much good with the influence he had gained. Yes, he made some big mistakes and then he lied about them. Is that unforgivable? I wear this bracelet so that I remember to not lose heart when life gets hard. I wear it as a reminder that nothing is impossible with God.

I sing the song “Healer” because Michael Guglielmucci knew God could heal him of his pornography addiction. He knew it so deeply in his soul that he wrote a song about it. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know I don’t believe God heals us in a bubble (James 5:16), that healing generally happens in the context of community. I pray now he has found the healing he needs. I sing the song because the words aren’t any less true just because Michael Guglielmucci was lying about having cancer when he wrote that song; the truth contained in the song has not changed because the writer’s lies were exposed. I sing “Healer” because I desperately believe in its sentiment.

For nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible
Nothing is impossible for You
You hold my world in Your hands

Extend grace to someone this week, even if they don’t deserve it. Especially if they don’t deserve it. That is what the cross did for you and me. Forgive someone. Ask God to search your heart and show you your own graceless attitudes.

Lord, help us to be more like You.


Freedom Friday: The Power of the Cross

This the pow’r of the cross
Christ became sin for us
Took the blame, bore the wrath
We stand forgiven at the cross

I sang this song the other night at a gathering. Since then, I’ve been asking myself: what is the power of the cross?

Here are a few thoughts as we celebrate and mourn on this Good Friday.

The power of the cross is:

1. Surrender
The power of the cross is Jesus’ perfect picture of surrender.

Here are some excerpts of Matthew 26:38-46, as Jesus wrestles with the path before Him.

38 Then he said to [Peter, James and John], “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
46 “Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

After praying those three times, Jesus gets up to meet His fate. He chooses to trust God, and surrenders to the very reason and purpose God sent Him to earth.

Isaiah 53:10 states “Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.” NIV1984

God’s will to crush Him? To cause Him to suffer?

Yes. Sometimes, suffering is God’s will, and this was true for Jesus. So that we could be reconcile to God and reconnected to our power source.

And Jesus surrendered to that will.

“Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8 (NASB)

True surrender requires complete submission to whatever God has for us. We can’t hold certain things too tightly and try & live in a state of surrender to God. He wants it all.

True surrender is yielding oneself completely to God’s power and control. It’s saying, “God, You created me, You have a plan for me, and You alone know what’s best for me. Have Your way in my life.”

Oh to see the dawn of the darkest day
Christ on the road to Calvary
Tried by sinful men, torn and beaten then
Nailed to a cross of wood

It’s a declaration of God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness. The power of the cross thus is Jesus’ example and demonstration of perfect surrender.

2. Forgiveness
The power of the cross is total, finished forgiveness.

Jesus said to His disciples at the Last Supper about the cup he offered to them: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:28 (NIV1984)

Colossians 2:13 (NLT) states, “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.” I’ve always loved the way the NASB puts verse 14: “having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

Our certificate of debt was nailed to the cross! It has been forgiven, once and for all. We have been forgiven, and thus we can forgive.

In the New Testament, the most common word translated as “forgiveness” means, literally, to release, to hurl away, to free yourself.

I’ve heard it said that forgiveness is like releasing someone from prison, only to realize the person in prison was you. Unforgiveness can keep us locked in a cell of resentment, pain and bitterness.

Forgiveness is a complicated topic in some ways. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean that we reconcile and continue a relationship with the person who needs to be forgiven; that’s not always a healthy choice. Forgiveness simply means we extend to that person the love of Christ by no longer holding their sins against them in our hearts.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NIV1984)

Oh to see the pain written on Your face
Bearing the awesome weight of sin
Ev’ry bitter thought, ev’ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow

The power of the cross is undeserved, complete forgiveness.

3. Victory
Finally, the power of the cross is ultimate victory.

Now the daylight flees, now the ground beneath
Quakes as its maker bows His head
Curtain torn in two, dead are raised to life
Finished the vict’ry cry

After the apostle Paul talked about our certificate of debt being nailed to the cross, he said this in verse 15: “In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross” (emphasis mine).

Life can sometimes feel like one defeat after another. We seem to hit obstacle after obstacle, trial after trial. The power of the cross is the reminder that in the end, God always wins.

Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

“The prince of this world now stands condemned.” John 16:11b

Ultimately, the power of the cross is the power to defeat sin and death. It’s a declaration that God wins every time. It’s a symbolic representation of what God is able to accomplish.

The empty cross declares – is anything too big for God?

Oh to see my name written in the wounds
For through Your suff’ring I am free
Death is crushed to death, life is mine to live
Won through Your selfless love

“For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” Colossians 1:13-14 (NLT)

Jesus purchased our freedom. He won our victory. He bought our forgiveness. And He perfected surrender.

Have you embraced the power of the cross?

This the pow’r of the cross
Son of God slain for us
What a love, what a cost
We stand forgiven at the cross

All songs lyrics are quoted from “The Power Of The Cross” by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend, © 2005 Thankyou Music

Note: It may seem strange to have a decorative cross as the image for this post. Personally, I struggle with the images we have created, of what we think the cross may have looked like. Since this cross was made and given to me this week by a dear friend, I decided it was just as appropriate as the images generally used.