Kingdom of God

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.”

Encouragement for Parents with Chronically Ill Children

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If there’s one “skill” I have honed having a chronically ill child, it’s patience. Patience, as many know, is one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. My entire adult life, I’ve functioned in two speeds: fast and faster. I made quick decisions in everything; procrastination is not in my vocabulary. This can be an asset but, also a liability depending upon the situation. With a child who is perpetually ill, there is no such thing as “instantaneous”. There’s waiting on getting an appointment with specialists, waiting on meds to kick in, waiting on doctors to decide the next move, waiting in a lobby to be seen by doctors who are running behind (sometimes hours), and so on.

In this, I have learned (by force, in a manner of speaking) that patience is an invaluable asset in the Kingdom of God and, in turn, my life. Although, there are times when going fast can be good because we need to think on our feet, it can cause a stream of destruction by refusing to slow down long enough so as to properly evaluate the end result of our momentary actions. Patience comes from pause and pauses are very good. Pauses allow us to properly assess what is happening and what needs to occur next if, that is, we are wise enough to stop whining through the halt.

Impatience has proven itself deadly or, at the very least, tumultuous. Abraham birthed his own enemy through Ishmael. The prodigal son received his fortunes immediately but, then lost everything until he humbled himself. Judas received his fortune by selling out Jesus and his end was quite horrible. Eve’s impatience for more caused the death of mankind; on and on the stories go. The impatience of my youth caused me to marry a vile man; the repercussions took two decades to subside. On the flip side, Joseph, because of his intense patience, became ruler over all of Egypt, second only the Pharaoh. Patience, once Abraham surrendered to God’s timing, birthed many nations in his old age through Isaac.

 

My point is this: there is good in every obstacle if only we look to God. “There are no problems, only possibilities and opportunities”, I heard back in the 90’s from a wise man. I must admit, I initially thought the man was loony but, it began a new quest to look at things differently. Fast forward twenty-five or so years: I could easily murmur and complain about how difficult this all has been with Sophia or, I can choose to look to God so as to recognize good which has come about through the intense difficulties we have faced. Patience allows us or, rather, me, to see with Kingdom vision instead of the here-and-now.

I am forever changed for all this and I know, with great confidence, it will (in time) change Sophia for the better. There will be people with whom she can relate whereas someone else may not. This will cause her to be a game-changer in the lives of those who are otherwise hopeless and helpless. It will make her far more compassionate and relatable than someone who can only assume how they would feel or respond in a particular trial. Patience in allowing ourselves to endure something with grace and growth instead of attempting with futility to “get out of jail free quickly” develops endurance, perseverance and victory.

Watchman Nee (my favorite author and man of God) said (and I paraphrase) God’s people try too hard to pray themselves out of tribulation when, all the while, God is purposing to train us through it. Getting out to quickly actually hurts us because we soon will have to start over in another trial so we may eventually learn what we need. God’s will is not necessarily to experience “healing” (in whatever capacity) instantly because we will miss its purpose. In this thinking, my friend was correct: There are no problems, only opportunities and possibilities. Are you looking for your possibility and opportunity?

When All My Strength Has Failed

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Chapter Thirteen: Igniting God’s Completed Work

Faith, faith, faith and more faith is the key to unlock the Kingdom of God and His power therein. When I read Hebrews 11 in its entirety, I stand amazed; first at God, and, secondly, at the people who withstood things most of us can’t fathom in their wildest nightmares. What these folks endured is nothing short of a miracle because they didn’t buckle, not even in the face of death. The chronicle of these mighty people of God reminds me of Matthew 10:28 which instructs, “do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

In this world and, more specifically, in the Church, people are far more concerned with what people think of them than being obedient to the Word of God (the expression of His power). Forget being concerned with being hung, beaten, burned or tortured in some capacity since we can’t get past being afraid of someone rejecting us. This is a sad fact but, looking around the churches, it’s evident. We are far more concerned with the opinion of our fellow man than following Christ outside the city walls no matter the repercussions.

How can we possibly walk an authentic life of faith if we can’t get past worrying about what someone thinks of us be it family, friends, co-workers, fellow church members, or whomever? This behavior does not and cannot please Yahweh. Having good intentions without faith cannot please Him; consequently, we squelch His power within us. When we are not walking in faith, God cannot materialize His completed work and then we’re left wondering, “Where’s God? Why isn’t He helping me? Where is His power now?” To quote my friend, Rachelle Freeman Sanders, “Faith doesn’t move God; faith is your positive response to what God has already done by grace. ‘Won’t He do it?’ you ask. No, He’s already done it!”

When you get to the place where you genuinely desire experiencing His power moving in your life, start with faith. This isn’t to insult where you are with Christ; it is simply a fact which applies to everyone. This is for me and this is for you. Faith is where Holy Spirit power ignition begins and ends and it usually comes prior to falling in love with Him. Faith is the vehicle which delivers into your life that which God has already accomplished before the foundation of the world (Hebrews 4:3). Everything past, present and future was perfected before the Earth was set in motion, we’re just watching it unfold over the centuries. How you operate in faith in the face of your most ferocious adversary will determine how far God can present and produce His completed work.

Faith is paramount to any Christ-follower. Faith is the ignition switch to God’s power and strength. The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Without faith, how can one have joy in Him? If we only have information about God with which we desire to share with others yet have no joy, where is the supernatural strength required to be displayed in everyday life so as to draw others to Christ?

We who desire earnestly to follow Christ must understand, all that is to be done is already accomplished. There is nothing more for Christ to do on your behalf. Money problems? Already solved. Children problems? Already resolved. Spousal problems? Already finished. Do you see? God sees the end from the beginning because, in God’s timing, the ending has already been fulfilled.

If this were inaccurate, how could God have spoken of Jesus in the Old Testament? How could the prophecies yet to come have been written? It’s because it’s already finished. Furthermore, how could Christ say in John 16:13, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” The “what is to come” part reveals what already is but is yet to be. The truth is, according to the Spirit of God, all is already complete. We’re simply awaiting it’s unfolding.

***

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval…and what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:1-2, 32-40, (NAS)

“and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:2-3, NAS).”

When All My Strength Has Failed

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Chapter Twelve: The Word of His Power and Strength of His Might

Right away, I must address the powerful few words of Hebrews 1:3: “He upholds all things by the word of His power.” Such an amazing testament to the Triune God! It doesn’t say, “the power of His word” no, it’s the word of His power. To express it another way, He is all-powerful, all power and, when He speaks, the words merely express His nature of power. In this, it isn’t words alone, it’s that His words are an extension of who He is. It’s His power that allowed Christ to purify sinful man through a willing crucifixion, and that which also permitted Him to sit at the right hand of the Majesty of high. Just awesome!

Now to Isaiah 50; what a powerful commentary from our Lord. He asks the question, “Why was there no man when I came…there was no one to answer? Or have I no power to deliver?” In between these words He asks, “Is My hand so short it cannot ransom?” It is imperative for God’s people to awaken to His majestic power whether He speaks or is silent. We must believe and know unwaveringly that, no matter how difficult our situations, He is all power and there is nowhere His righteous right hand cannot reach.

Then He continues, “…that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.” This is simply breathtaking. No one was there for Him when He came to them and I can only assume by reading the whole of chapter 50 that they had no confidence in His power, in who He is, or in what He is able to accomplish on their behalf. His holy people had sinned against Him due to lack of faith in His supreme power. He is 100% capable and willing to sustain the weary and able to do so with only one word of His power.

What will it require for His people to come out of the slavery of religion, tradition, and the world’s wicked system so as to comprehend His power and willingness to share that power with His holy people? God’s power to heal, sustain, refresh, and restore is without limit; it is we who limit His power because we do not believe in it or in Him. If we did, we would experience restoration and power prior to things being remedied. We believe, therefore we are supernaturally able to see before it manifests in the Earth and in our daily lives. There is no limit to His power.

Strength and might have nearly the same meaning, yet the Bible was compelled to say “the strength of His might” as if two separate entities. To me, it reiterates the infinite power of God. The repetition of ‘strength’ and ‘might’ reveal something so powerful it’s far beyond our natural comprehension. God is all power, all might, all strength; He is in all things, through all things, and all things were created by Him. That’s the strength of His might!

We have the ‘word of His power’ as well as the ‘strength of His might’. How incredible that our perfect, holy God would grant feeble, sinful mankind such unlimited power. When you read “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1)”, what does that mean to you personally? When He tells mankind, “I satisfy the weary one and refresh everyone who languishes (Jeremiah 31:25)”, how does that resonate with you?

 Too many are quoting Scriptures but they don’t mean anything to them, not really. When they’re in a gale and the wind and rains of life hit so hard they can’t breathe, their true beliefs come front and center. When their child is dying of cancer and they can’t understand or even see God, or when they’re facing foreclosure on their home and have no idea where to take their family, or their marriage has crumbled unexpectedly, mere theology, church membership, and good deeds bear no weight; they have no eternal spiritual value because they are not rooted in relationship with God, who He is, knowing His promises are authentic, or that He is who He proclaims Himself to be.

Going through all we’ve endured these last many years caused moments of pause in me, I assure you. When we were being hit over, and over, and over again, there were flashes of, “Really? God, are You there? Is there a point to all the praying?” I am not ashamed to admit this because, in those moments, in the questioning, God proved Himself repeatedly. I can’t help but recognize God in every nuance. When we question with the desire to learn, He always responds. We need only pay attention.

Every single time, without fail, His strength and His might would overtake me one more time. When I was so physically weak, God would provide a way to accomplish whatever necessary. I was never alone, I was never without power, I was never without His might, joy, grace, love or mercy. God’s might and strength often come in the quietude of life, the softer more delicate moments. He isn’t always a sonic boom, but rather a hush that accommodates peace when all else is seemingly falling apart.

***

He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power (Isaiah 40:29, NAS).”

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3, NAS).”

“Why was there no man when I came? When I called, why was there none to answer? Is My hand so short that it cannot ransom? Or have I no power to deliver? Behold, I dry up the sea with My rebuke, I make the rivers a wilderness; their fish stink for lack of water and die of thirst. I clothe the heavens with blackness and make sackcloth their covering.  The Lord God has given Me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word (Isaiah 50:2-4, NAS).”

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Ephesians 6:10, NAS).”

“…Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10, NAS).”

“The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places (Habakkuk 3:19, NAS).”

 

 

Encouragement for Parents with Chronically Ill Children

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Joy is altogether possible in the face of sorrow. “The joy of the Lord is my strength” is seen in Nehemiah 8:10. These words came on the cusp of having fought tirelessly so as to rebuild the city wall. They toiled and, simultaneously, stayed prepared for battle. Exhaustion must have been merciless during that time. Nevertheless, they rejoiced recognizing that, literally, joy in the Lord was the strength that kept them going so as to succeed in their mission. Joy was their hope, their power in duress.

So it is with parents of chronically ill children, be it physical, mental, or emotional illness. Only in the power of the Lord Jesus Christ can anyone endure such a task as watching their children suffer, taking them here and there for treatment, trying new diets and/or medication, and so on. I cling to the words of Roman 15:13 which reads, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

I retain joy and hope in Christ in the inner most part of my being while, on the surface, I feel intense sorrow for my child’s anguish. Just as the torrents of rain, wind, and hail pound upon the surface of a well’s water, the deepest part of the well is unmoved by the turmoil. My spirit-man (the inner most part of me), which is one with Holy Spirit, is unmoved by the elements which cause temporary sadness.

Christ is my hope, both for my child’s wellbeing, mine and our family. For example, Sophia was doing well on the new meds until she contracted an infection. One round of antibiotics made it a bit better but was insufficient. Yesterday, we discovered she has an infection in her bones called orthomyelitis. She’s been in terrible pain with bizarre and never before experienced symptoms. She cries a lot. They’ve put her on a 21 day regimen of antibiotics and may possibly need IV antibiotics. These are the very meds which have caused severe and chronic stomach troubles. It feels as though we’re on a hamster wheel and can’t figure out how to exit.

Notwithstanding, what I feel is not aligned with the promises of God. I have living hope in my God, for He cares for her. I believe she is healed. I have faith, not in what my eyes see, but in who my God is. I cling to His promise that, what Satan means against her for evil, He will turn for her good because we love Him. Curses will turn into blessings. As I have stated in most all my blogs and books: God. Is. Faithful. Always. I refuse to lose faith or sight of the sovereignty of the Almighty. This is my power. This is my strength. This is my endurance to the end.

When All My Strength Has Failed

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Chapter 11: Going Beyond Theology

For me personally, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not my theology, They are my reality. They are not (nor are They meant to be) a religious system so as to make me or anyone else more moral, but rather a Kingdom Government in action through God’s supernatural life living through mortal man.

Anyone can be well-versed in their theology, in their catalog of internal information about God. Very few, on the other hand, know God personally, intimately through Christ to the degree that one cannot be separated from the other. No religion or denomination in the world can offer such a relationship. Only seeking the face and heart of God and seeking understanding and wisdom from above can offer such a stable, unwavering relationship of oneness with Almighty God.

My personal stance is simply this: come what may, God is God, He’s on His throne in Heaven and in my heart and nothing shall move me. He is my entire existence, not merely in a section of my life. He is my God and I am His people. That isn’t theology, that’s the Kingdom of God active through my otherwise worthless mortal body. Though I may falter, my most earnest desire is to live only as one hidden in (consumed by) Christ.

It is in this condition that I can truly be strengthened by this Christ when I am weakened in the worst of circumstances. In this state, through years and tears, loss and heartache, I am fully persuaded that God will manifest His completed work. In so doing, curses transform into blessings, tears turn to laughter, and lost years are redeemed. In this, weakness is the blessing so that God’s strength may reign. I have nothing of myself of which I may boast.

Theology is merely a theory of sorts; it’s one man’s opinion of God. This is why there are thousands of varying denominations among those who claim to follow Christ. Building your relationship with Christ on a surface of theology has no foundation on which to firmly stand. It may seemingly work for a while but, when the rubber meets the road, you’ll quickly discover theology is sinking sand.

When your child, spouse or parent dies or becomes infirm long-term, you lose your great paying job you’ve had 20-30 years or all your possessions or, in some way, your status-quo crumbles before your eyes, you’ll find out promptly the ruse of theology. I read a story the other day about a young woman whose husband lost his life to cancer. Their two small children were devastated to have to grow without their daddy. She would now have to work so as to provide for these two while raising them without help.

In the article, she commented that churches don’t need more coffee bars or bright lights or any other window dressing  so as to draw a bigger crowd. In fact, she stated, she needed only Jesus. All the theology and fluff of the modern-day churches were as good as nothing without the presence and power of God expressed so as to heal her brokenness. She was weakened as unto death and only the word of God’s power has the ability to accomplish such an impossible task. No theologians debating whether or not she should be dunked or sprinkled, wear pants or skirts, slacks or khakis, read the King James Version only or another; whether the church should sing old hymns or have a praise and worship band, was going to mend her broken heart. Theology is, as far as I’m concerned, as good as nothing. Only a relationship with the Living Christ will do.

The Body of Christ, as a whole, must seek true transformation, not just a few characteristics of Christ or theology of old. In other words, you must be changed into the likeness of Christ at your root. At the Mount of Transfiguration, Holy Spirit came upon Jesus. He was changed into the likeness of the Father. He was already God in physical form; He was in every way “like God,” yet He still had to be transformed. There was a transition from one way into another entirely different one. His body remained the same, but the internal man became something otherworldly.

If Jesus had to experience transformation, you too must experience this metamorphosis. The problem with Adam and Eve was, although they were created in the image of God and were placed in the center of perfection, they had yet to be transformed. They were, as we’ve discussed at length, of the Earth. It was required of them to fall and then, having knowledge of good and evil, choose to be morphed from the inside out. Just because you’re saved from hell does not equate transformation. It’s altogether transitioning from earthly to heavenly and living accordingly.

Interestingly enough, we’re instructed to “seek His face,” yet He told Moses, “No one can see my face and live!” If you seek and find God’s face, you will be broken and changed forever at a mere glimpse; you won’t be able to live as you were. Since we’re called, post-resurrection, to suffer not the flesh, seeking His face and finding Him will accomplish that quite well. If, on the other hand, you seek only His attributes or characteristics, you will only appear changed for a time. Without your internal man being changed, this translates as nothing more than a farce. Religious theology seems to render only moderate external changes that have no eternal value.