Joy

Encouragement for Parents with Chronically Ill Children

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Question #2: How do I handle watching the disappointment in my child’s eyes when they want to and try to do something very important to them and they cannot; I just hold them in my arms as they cry?

 

This question is tough and, if you are a parent of a disabled or chronically ill child, you know it all too well. I can recall when Sophia would desperately want to go to school, go play, or simply hang out with her friends yet could not because of illness. It is truly a gut-wrenching thing to know your child is in not only physical pain, but also mental and emotional pain. It messes with their psyche. I would have to leave the room and cry for her without her seeing my distress lest I cause her more suffering. For me, and I can speak only for myself, the only comfort I found was in knowing God has a perfect plan for Sophia, that, in His right timing, old things will pass away and everything Satan means against her for evil will turn for her good because I love the Lord.

Clinging to the promises of God are all we have in those moments, literally. The only solace any of us have in any tormenting or strenuous situation is faith. Faith that God is faithful when we are faithless. Faith that there is a God, that He is compassionate, and that He knows what He’s doing. I regularly went to Psalm 27, which reads, “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” The next part is vital which instructs, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.” It sounds much easier than it is, this is know. Regardless, it is the Lord’s instruction because His faith is in Himself. I can’t tell you how many times I had to cling to these Scriptures when all else seemed to fail. All the meds, the doctors, and anything I did to help her failed and miserably so. But God…these words, though cliché to many, are powerful. But God. But God has a plan for all the suffering. But God has a purpose for the sorrow, tears, and anguish of any given moment. All I know is that God is faithful to His righteous seed and, if you have proclaimed that Jesus is the risen Son of God both in word, heart, and deed, there is a brighter day ahead.

I would always remind myself that, beyond the terrible days, weeks, months and, yes, years, God will turn the curses into a blessing. It is an unbreakable promise of God written in Deuteronomy 23:5 stating, “Nevertheless, the Lord your God was not willing to listen to Balaam, but the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the Lord your God loves you.” Brilliant! My hope has to be, your hope has to be in God alone. There is no other Source than He. It is a great time to encourage your child that God is faithful even when it doesn’t feel like it, that He will accomplish the impossible on our behalf in a way we cannot imagine. Teaching them to be content in all things, in every circumstance, is vital to whatever comes next. In our weakness, we are made strong through Christ.

Philadelphia: A Kingdom Call To Brotherly Love

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Chapter 14: Give Unrelentingly

I could write an entire book on giving but, for sake of time, I’ll attempt to give a brief overview on how the Lord calls us to give. I’ve added a list of texts at the end of the chapter. “Giving” is not what we see in churches across denominations where we robotically take our 10% or whatever amount and place it in the offering plate Sunday after Sunday. If we are called of God to do that, fine, but giving as Christ calls His people is far beyond that. I hear all the time, “I saw a beggar and I didn’t give him anything because…” 

  1. They should get a job
  2. They’ll use the money for booze or drugs
  3. I have my money set aside to give to my local church
  4. I don’t want to
  5. I hate beggars
  6. They’re lazy
  7. They’re undeserving
  8. They won’t pay it back
  9. They’ll rob me
  10. I prayed for them already
  11. They’re ungrateful
  12. I don’t like them
  13. They smell badly
  14. They look scary

There are many other reasons, but these seem to be the most frequently used. Luke 6:30 begins with the words, “Give to everyone who asks you…” That alone debunks all excuses pertaining to not giving. It further states, “If they steal from you, give more.” That dethrones the remaining excuses used to not give. If we want to go further, read James 2 where we see praying, alone, is insufficient. Faith has legs and hands and feet and money. Faith in Christ will cause us to give, not just prayer, but physically meeting the needs of others.

If we’re still wondering when, how much, and to whom we should give, I John 3:17 clarifies with, “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” If we have the means and someone is in need, give. It’s that simple. In the early church, those who had plenty sold their goods so that no one was without. Selfishness was not an option. When they sold their possessions so as to give, it didn’t leave them penniless, it merely allowed everyone to have and no one was in need.

Why aren’t God’s people giving in such a fashion? It’s because we’ve become calloused, greedy, and hard-hearted. It is time to thaw our frozen, stingy hearts and begin to love one another with prayer, time, energy, and money.

***

“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him (I John 3:17, NAS)?”

If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that (James 2:15-16, NAS)?”

Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back…Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you give, it will be measured back to you (Luke 6:30, 38, NIV).”

Additional texts: Deuteronomy 15:10, 16:17; Proverbs 21:26, 3:27, 11:24-25, 22:9, 28:27; I Chronicles 29:9; Matthew 6:3-4; Mark 12:41-44; Luke 3:11, 6:30, 38; II Corinthians 9:6-10; John 3:16; Acts 20:35; Romans 12:8

Philadelphia: A Kingdom Call to Brotherly Love

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Chapter 8: Prayer and Encouragement

Accompanying kindness, compassion and the other attributes of the Spirit are prayer and encouragement. If we are correcting a brother and we are not encouraging them back to spiritual wellness, we are not operating under the directive of the King. The entire written Word of God is based 100% on compassion. Even in the Old Testament when God would annihilate entire cities and tribes, it’s because they would not relent in their wickedness and they, by their own actions, forced God’s hand so as to protect His righteous seed. It is never God’s desire for anyone to perish (I Peter 3:9).

This life should only be a pre-cursor to better things to come, not worse. Blatantly or inadvertently, most people purpose to cause this life to be the “best” through worldly lusts of the flesh (sin); as a result, only hell to follow. This life is temporary and we must approach it as such or we will be consumed by the evil one. Sin is death and it is our command as Kingdom citizens of Heaven to cause those in darkness to most earnestly desire the Light. In this mindset, we will devote ourselves to prayer; prayer for the lost, the dying, the sick, the poor, the haughty, the wicked, the righteous, and so on. Prayer is encouraging, both for the one for whom we pray and for the one praying. I’m always encouraged when I stand before the throne of Grace regardless of the reason. We must encourage one another and pray that the faith of our brethren not fail in the hard times. We are to be people builders, not people destroyers.

Not Destined for Wrath: 

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing (I Thessalonians 5:9-11).”

We can look at these verses two ways: 

  • we are not designed for God’s wrath against us, but for His love to consume us
  • we are not designed for wrath against other people, but for His love to come through us so as to turn others toward the Kingdom of God

 

When I hear of or witness firsthand a “Christian” extending wrath against any other human being, I am saddened because I know it saddens the heart of God. For example, recently Joy Beher of the TV show The View referred to Mike Pence, the current VP of the USA, as one having a “mental illness” because of his faith in Jesus Christ. The multitude of the Christians of the land was ready to lynch her at high noon for such disrespect.

Let us recall Psalm 119:165 mentioned earlier: “Great peace have they who love Thy law and nothing shall offend them.” Christians, different from authentic followers of Christ, are quick to offense and quick to criticize the world when they say foolish things against God. She later apologized to the Vice President and, as one would imagine, Christians were once again offended because her apology was a day late, a dollar short, and altogether insincere, allegedly.

When will people of God recognize that the world will speak and act as the world, as the one running the world’s system? His name is Satan, the devil, Beelzebub, Lucifer, etc. When the peace of God rules in our hearts, we will be able to extend love and honor to those in and of the world. We will begin to have a Kingdom perspective instead of an earthly, fleshly, limited view.

Prayer is required in such situations, not criticism. It’s equated to being mad at a baby for screaming for not getting their way when what is required is discipline and instruction, not anger and wrath. Worldly people, aka those not of Christ, are like those babies. They don’t know any better. The only way to spiritually handle it with efficacy is to encourage those in Christ so as to not combat the wrong entity or in the wrong way.

People are not the enemy, Satan and his legion of demons are. The war is between Heaven and Earth, between God and the devil. We mere mortals are caught in the crosshairs. When mere mortals surrender to Christ, we become something more than mortal; we transition into the supernatural strangers and aliens from Heaven sent to Earth so as to pronounce and expand the Kingdom of God.

Once that transition occurs in an individual’s life, we no longer see, think, act, walk or talk as our old nature. We are no longer to function in the “tit-for-tat” mentality. We are no longer to be offended by the foolish deeds of darkness. Joy Behar, for example, is a person whom God loves and for whom He gave His life. Our human enemies of this life are people for whom Christ died. Pray for them. Stay away from them if the situation warrants, but do not retaliate in a manner of hatred and wrath. Do everything offense-free and with a heart to turn them toward the heart of God.

***

“but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers (Luke 22:32, NAS).”

“These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer…(Acts 1:14, NAS).”

“For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother (Philemon 1:7, NAS).”

“Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ (Philemon 1:20, NAS).”

 

 

When All My Strength has Failed

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Chapter Sixteen: Bearing One Another’s Weaknesses

This is a subject near to my heart as it has been grossly misinterpreted by most. Have you ever had a loved one in dire need of assistance and, since you want to ‘bear their burdens’ according to our Lord’s instruction, you get dragged into their chaos and feel more burdened than they? It happens all the time. We think we’re doing right by people when we engage in their problems and we wear ourselves out trying to help when all we do is feel as bad or worse and no one gets actual aid.

We must keep the ‘bear one another’s burdens’ in proper perspective with the fullness of the Word. To be sure, the only way to accomplish this daunting task too big for mere mortals is to first be a person who casts their own cares upon the shoulders of Christ. We must learn to, and I quote, “Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”

If we cannot care for ourselves in such a manner allowing ourselves to be burden-free through Christ, how can we consider attempting to help someone outside ourselves? We will only further exacerbate our own problems and theirs. It goes back to the question, “Why worry?” If I as a minister, wife and mom cannot cease worry about my own, what good would I be to another? How could I rightly say to one in need, “Trust God” if I’m not doing it myself? I can teach others to pray with power and authority, faith and praise because I first practice it myself with my family. I first must surrender before I can call someone else to surrender.

When I do this, I can indeed help bear another’s burdens because I can, with ease, lead them to the Christ who bears my burdens. Then, we are both free of burdens. Burden-bearing is about no one but Christ alone, the one bearing the entirety of the burden. All roads lead to Christ and Christ is the only road to God the Father, the quintessential burden-bearer.

In summation, the first step in bearing another person’s burdens is to make sure you, first and foremost, have cast your cares upon Christ. Then, and only then, will you be equipped with the power and presence of Holy Spirit so as to lead them to the One who can lighten their heavy load.

My personal self-evaluation: If my yoke is hard and my burden is heavy, I have not cast my cares upon Him and a recalibration is required. With all I’ve endured with mine and Sophia’s health, when things became too hard and heavy, I consult the King and resubmit my troubles to the trouble-checker. At that, I immediately experience the relief of such heaviness and go on about my day. I deal with today as tomorrow has enough troubles of its own and will care for itself.

***

“Come unto Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30, NAS).”

Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves (Romans 15:1, NAS).”

Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions (Romans 14:1, NAS).”

Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble (Hebrews 12:12, NAS).”

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father (Colossians 3:12-17).

When All My Strength Has Failed

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Chapter Fifteen: Strength for the Weary, part II

Weakened Unto Death:

What a beautiful act of unwavering love when God sent His Son in human flesh weakening Himself, the Almighty, so as to rescue those who are weak. Honestly, I can’t mention this enough as we, His creation, seem to keep missing this incredible act of kindness, thoughtfulness and, yes, weakness. He became all things to all people so some may be saved. I become overjoyed and saddened simultaneously when reading I Corinthians 9:22. The gift of Christ thrills me; adversely, the fact He states “some” may be saved is sad. Only a few will answer the call of Christ by surrendering their fleshly strengths so His strength can prevail.

Mankind, better yet Christ-kind, gets so frustrated at God when things aren’t fixed the instant they pray or within a week, months or several years. They expect God, because they deem themselves a “good person”, to jump the moment they pray or, better yet, they expect to have no real life issues as though they are exempt. These people have deluded themselves into thinking they deserve exemption from hardships.

The truth of the matter is, God has already extended all the help there is to give – the sacrifice of His life. What we fail to see, especially within the confines of the professing Church, is that we are to relinquish our lives (all the good and the bad) so that we may position ourselves to receive His completed help, as previously discussed. John 16:33 states, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” This is a past-tense statement, not an “it is forthcoming” possibility. Furthermore, John 19:28-30 confirms with clarity, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished…when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”

We become weary in situations of life, death, divorce, abuse, poverty, resentment, rejection, abandonment, or whatever life throws our way, and haven’t figured out how to receive the power and dominion we’ve already been bestowed while enduring hardships. When will we understand that weakness is the greatest place to be? “He gives strength to the weary”, reads Isaiah 40:29. This isn’t just a matter of saying, when we are weary, God gives His strength; it’s far more reaching than that. It’s saying, it isn’t until we are fully weakened that we are in a place where we can receive His strength. When we are strong in ourselves, who needs God or anything He has to offer? When things are great, good, or even bearable, we continue to cling to dead flesh. In turn, without intending, we forgo the rest and peace of Christ which can only be birthed through relinquishing ourselves to God.

If you truly want to be renewed in strength, stop resisting natural weakness. It isn’t a shortcoming; it’s the only place where Christ can actually take over. When you realize “it’s finished” and there’s nothing more for Christ to do on your behalf, you’ll quickly perish your fleshly nature so that His completed work can begin to manifest in every area of life.

When Paul became truly weary, he was positioned to receive the fullness of Christ. Jesus gave Himself over to utter weakness that the glory of God the Father could accomplish His perfection through His human death. Strength for the weary comes because you are weak. Because Christ was weakened unto death, He could bear us when we are weakened unto death. In other words, once we have suffered and disciplined ourselves to cast our cares upon Jesus, only then can we guide others how to do the same.

***

He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:29-31 (NAS)

To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some (I Corinthians 9:22, NAS).”

When All My Strength Has Failed

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140918131138-leicester-skeletons-1-horizontal-large-galleray (2)Chapter 14: It’s All About Refinement

If I have heard once, I have heard a thousand times, “They were such a good person until thus and so happened; then they really changed for the worse.” With all my being, I believe trials and tests do not change a person, they simply bring to light who the person is at their center. It was definitely true in Job’s case as well as my own. Neither of us knew what was wicked within until the disasters came.

Adam lived in utopia and it was true for him. The worst comes out of people in dyer situations because the love of Christ is not in effect. Sure, they may be saved from hell but a person led by Holy Spirit would be able to recognize what God was allowing to happen and even why, instead of tail-spinning out of control and losing sight of God’s reality. Just because one is led by Holy Spirit for a long time does not mean that, in an instant, they can’t revert back to the flesh. Satan is crouching at the door waiting for an opportunity to stumble you. You and I must daily die, which is merely a result of having been transformed into the image of God.

When my first husband left with a note on the coffee table, I fell apart. I began cursing, ranting and raving. Why? It was because I had no grounding in an intimate relationship with God. I had never once said, “Father, show me everything that is wrong within me. Lead me into righteousness.” I had received salvation at the age of six and went on my way “getting people saved” as I was taught. I didn’t drink, curse, sleep around or do drugs. I was basically a “good” kid. However, in reality, it was all a lie because there is no one good but God.

I failed to hear from God, receive warnings, admonition, or anything of the kind. If I had, I would not have married two wrong men. I knew nothing of God except being able to quote a few Scriptures. In my mind, making a profession of faith was equated to “an intimate relationship” when it was nothing more than the beginning of what should have developed into an intimate relationship. I was weak in Christ on my best days and was so because I thought myself spiritually strong and mature.

A terrible weakness in God’s people is the feeling of unworthiness, yet we call it humility. When you focus on your own unworthiness, you are focused on self. Although it certainly appears humble and righteous on the surface, contrary to popular belief, this is another lie from Satan. It is actually false humility, self-abasement, and self-righteousness.

False Humility: “I am unworthy to walk in the shoes of Jesus, so I won’t. I’ll sit here quietly in my recliner of do-nothing. Praise God, one day I’m going up yonder in the sweet by and by. I’ll wait here ‘til I get to Heaven to throw my crowns at His precious feet. Who am I to walk in authority and speak with boldness? I’m too humble to do that.”

True Humility: “I am unworthy and I know it. However, with that knowledge, I (the unworthy one) choose to surrender and live only unto Christ (the worthy One). I choose His worth and allow Him to speak, think and operate through my mortal body. I choose to walk boldly and courageously in the authority and power He projects through me. I give God all praise, honor and glory for all accomplished.”

I pray every believer will get this imbedded in their spirit, heart, and mind. God is not asking for your perfection or power since you have none to offer. He is asking for your willingness to allow Him to move through your weak mortal body as you are merged with Him as one entity. Allow refinement when the hard times hit let you be overtaken by the evil one through despair. God is the perfection in the weakest places of life. Yoked together Christ is the only hope for strength and a sound mind.

 ***

“so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:7, NAS).”

 “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it (Genesis 4:7, NAS).”

 

Encouragement for Parents with Chronically Ill Children

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I must be transparent. The “mamma bear” Alexys and the “minister” Alexys are often in conflict. As a minister, I purpose to live a life of balance, love, patience, kindness, holiness and to be at peace with everyone, at least as far as it is up to me. Adversely, as a mother of a chronically ill child, I often feel the urge to, at the very least, tell someone off. Or, at the worst, punch someone squarely between the eyes for their neglect, bullying or disregard for my child who only wants to be well and accepted by her peers.

For example (in no particular order):

 

  • Dealing with doctors who pass her around from this one to that one or one questions another’s diagnosis or treatment and look at me as though I’ve done something wrong.
  • When kids her age at school or elsewhere tease and/or bully her because they don’t understand her situation, why she likes colored hair, why she’s so shut down, or why she doesn’t fit the acceptable body image.
  • When the youth pastor at our church refuses, though begged repeatedly over a year, to reach out to her or have girls her age reach out to her. He visited her once, had a couple girls text her a few times and, just like that, she was quickly discarded and forgotten like yesterday’s news.
  • Dealing with the school powers-that-be who threaten to call truancy because they question the word of doctors as though she isn’t really too sick to attend; who demand meeting after futile meeting.

 

In the aforementioned scenarios, yes, I definitely want to scream at and hit someone albeit completely contradictory to who I am in Christ. These are the times where I preach the Word of God to myself so as not to completely ruin my testimony for the Christ whom I love and serve. Mamma-bear has, on occasion, gotten the better of me because I despise the injustice thrown at my kid.

The struggle is real and I have to combat it on a regular basis. When these people who are in positions to help my child do not and, furthermore, cause more harm, I battle with mamma-bear, with the inclination of my fleshly man to do what would otherwise come very natural to me. My personality is very aggressive, forthright, proactive and protective and, therefore, it would be nothing for me to blast someone (and I have). I purpose daily to walk according to the Spirit of the Living God versus my natural man. I have to daily find the balance between knowing when and what to speak to whom and just letting loose when the notion strikes.

I have definitely learned, throughout all of this that, in fact, I am fully capable of restraint, patience, and silence; that I can choose to be self-controlled, to be silent when necessary, and, when I speak up, I can do so without yelling or demeaning the person at which my words are directed.

I Corinthians 1:27: “but I discipline my body to make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”