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.
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.
Chapter Ten: Spirit of Power, Love and a Sound Mind
The King James Version of II Timothy 1 uses the words “sound mind” (which I prefer believing it makes the message clearer) instead of “discipline”. That being said, a sound mind produces self-discipline so I believe the words to be interchangeable here. There are scads of texts referencing the mind so, we can logically deduce the mind is of great importance. When we are weak in body and heart, if we keep our minds sharp as to the person, promises and love of God, we won’t so readily lose our minds, as is so commonly stated as a natural reaction to weakness in times of trouble.
We must keep our minds clear because the world and all its woes will readily overtake us if we allow. We must be vigilant, watchful and sober-minded lest we fall prey to the one who despises us without measure. God has, with great liberty, given us a spirit of power and love and discipline. We are created in His image; thusly, we have His nature. We generally, unfortunately, choose the nature of the flesh over the nature of God. When we allow Holy Spirit to overwhelm us, we will have no room in us to be overwhelmed by the flesh.
To say, “I love the Lord” and think yourself close to God just because you prayed an unbiblical “sinner’s prayer”, you’re faithful to church, and do good deeds, is insufficient so as to sustain you in this world of muck and mire. We must know the Lord on the most intimate level if we can expect to be sustained through life’s trials and tribulations.
We are instructed in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” In other words, dwell on God, His Kingdom, His righteousness, His love, His power, His authority, His comfort, His promises, and whatever is of the Kingdom of God. There is no way, in the midst of chaos and confusion, any of us can set our minds on these things if we are not locked in to God 24/7/365. It’s difficult enough when you are, so you can understand the difficulty of being able to reroute your mind when you’re only a Sunday church-goer or Christian by title and not in daily action.
Life can be grueling, no doubt. I know, for me, even though I know God and His Word intimately, how challenging it can be to “speak that which is not as though it already was” as did God Himself in Romans 4:17. We are to speak God’s promises, not the circumstances. Inevitably, when I get worn down, sometimes the circumstances come right through my lips without even thinking. That’s the nature of the flesh at hand. I have to immediately pull down the words (remove them) and replace them by speaking God’s promises. As with Sophia, though it appears she’ll never be better (circumstance), I speak, “I thank God she’s already healed, in Jesus’ name. We will soon witness the physical manifestation of God’s promise of her healing.” If I didn’t walk and talk with God every moment of every day, I would not have His strength to overpower my fleshly weaknesses.
Throughout the challenges with having had toxic black mold in our home causing the auto-immune issues of which Sophia and I have had to contend, God has been faithful so as to speak directly to my spirit reassuring me we are both healed. Believe me, there were times all I could see was the pain and suffering but, regardless, because I hold fast to His promise, I can see the end from the beginning. No one can survive (much less thrive) in this wicked world with merely some theology and a lot of church activities. Survival and thriving through this rough terrain requires knowing God in such a way that no one and nothing can steal your faith. Having a mind set on the heavenly (whatsoever is good, pure, etc.) instead of that of the earthly (whatsoever is horrible, bleak, tainted, etc.) is a matter of life and death.
“For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God (II Timothy 1:6-8, NAS).”
Chapter 9: Why Worry, part II
Circumstances are Irrelevant
“He will not fear evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is upheld, he will not fear, until he looks with satisfaction on his adversaries (Psalm 112:7-8, NAS).”
Your circumstances will no longer have effect on your walk with Christ. Your circumstances will no longer make you or break you. Your circumstances will no longer dictate how you conduct yourself. Once you realize in your heart and mind that,
- His love is unfailing and His eye is on you always;
- He has defeated the enemy;
- everything the evil one does against you for evil, God has already turned around for your good;
- the world is condemned and has no power over you;
- the evil one has been overthrown and is acting on borrowed time;
- you are more than a conqueror
- Yahweh is a friend that sticks closer than a brother
– you will begin your life of victory, strength, power, and love in Jesus!
Once I identified with Christ and related to Him on a personal level, I was able to come to a place that, when adversity comes, I literally laugh. As in Psalm 112 verses 7-8, I have no fear of bad news and neither should you. I know immediately that Satan cannot succeed against me or my family. I laugh even through tears knowing that whatever the situation, it has already worked in my favor. I could write a book merely on the blessings of God turning things around for my favor! Let’s stop giving Satan a foothold by worrying about everything that appears bad. Begin to praise His holy name that it, whatever “it” is, has already become a benefit to you and not a liability. Deny that old Adamic fleshly nature that Christ overcame on the cross.
You are your own worst enemy when you do not fully know or understand who God has made you through the blood and the water. Peter refers to those in Christ as “aliens and strangers” because your origin has changed from the earthly to heavenly. Christ was a stranger on Earth, and, since He is your life, you too are a stranger. Do not act like the earthy man as through you are of this world.
Prayer: My Father, Husband and faithful Friend, I want to identify with You. I want to relate to You as You identify and relate to me, a mere human. As You chose to live as a man on Earth just to be able to identify with my plight and then die for me that I may live with You, I give my life to You. I hide myself in Thee, O Lord, so that all I know of my identity is that of Jesus Himself. Selah.
Chapter 9: Why Worry, part I
Worry is the polar opposite of faith. I am always baffled at the ongoing worry, stress and fretting among the so-called seasoned men and women of God. They read, and read, and read the Word yet they walk away every time with just as much fear as when they sat to read. Worry weakens faith; or rather, worry is the evidence faith is not present.
How might one accurately say, “I trust the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength” or better yet, “I believe the whole Word of God” but can’t have enough faith for Him to provide their needs. Worry makes the one who claims to be a follower of Christ look hypocritical to the spectators of the world around them. What hypocrites we are when we proclaim faith that Christ is real yet don’t believe Him for any sort of miracle. In my estimation, there are very few among the multitudes who call themselves “Christians” who actually believe in the God they proclaim.
It’s incredibly easy to praise God and give Him all the glory when things are going really well, but throw in a little wind that lasts longer than 30 minutes and panic ensues. Jesus said to His closest comrades, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Is He saying the same to you? If He is, it isn’t to condemn or guilt you, but to bring you to reconciliation that He is who He says He is and has given His church power over the enemy. He allows the struggles of life to first reveal how little faith we possess and, secondly, to produce much needed faith. Thirdly, in the trials and strengthening of our faith, He is able to glorify Himself when He presents Himself sovereign when all else fails.
Worry is the catalyst for Satan to run rampant in your life. Worry is the adversary to faith. Anxieties, fears, and distresses reveal where we are not with God. They are the factual expression of how we really feel about God. They are of the flesh, not the Spirit. Instead of condemning yourself when this happens, encourage yourself in the Lord so as to usher in much needed faith. Beating yourself up only further exacerbates your dilemma. Learn to discipline yourself so as to refresh your memory of how God has moved on your behalf in the past. Your situation is temporal but God is forever and ever. E.g. when you’re in fear, remind yourself, “Christ is my strength and my salvation. There is none I shall fear. He is my rock and my stronghold.”
It is never God’s desire or mission to shame you but to encourage and persuade you to trust Him. Nothing is for nothing and everything is for something. Find out God’s “something” in your trials. If you ask with a genuine heart so as to discover, He will reveal Himself to you in the most personal way. Take the time to seek that you may find your way through the wilderness. God is sovereign and “shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).”
The “according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” is revealing. Again, the “shall supply” is not that He must suddenly create something for you, but that, because of what is already created in the riches of Christ, He will get it to you in perfect timing. What you need, He’s already produced in the heavenly realm; Heaven is the storeroom for what you need ushered down to Earth. Walk according to faith and you’ll see things work for good for those who love Him. It may not manifest physically the way you would choose, but His ways are infinitely supreme to that which we can think or imagine.
“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life (Revelation 2:10, NAS).”
In my 50 years of life, jealousy has never been something to which I have commonly subscribed. I’m always elated to witness success and assist others so as to catapult them into greatness. That being said, having a chronically ill child has, on more than one occasion, provoked a spirit of jealousy within me. I deal with it in the throne room of grace, to be sure, as soon as I feel it. Nevertheless, the pangs of such a vile emotion rear their ugly head when I least expect it. When I see all around me the kids of friends, family, acquaintances and even strangers who are perfectly healthy and thriving, as awful to admit as it is, I feel the sensation of jealousy. It is not for money or possessions, but for good health for my daughter. I weep for my sweet Sophia as I know others weep for their suffering children.
From family to family, it’s a sliding scale of illnesses and severity but, I assure you, pain is pain. I don’t have less sorrow for my child than a parent of a child with cancer or more sorrow than a parent with a kid with an infection which is taking longer to subside than average. Hands down, it is all horrible watching your child suffer while other children run, play, go to school and do the things healthy kids do. Sophia has begun a two month regimen of medication specifically for her issues. It’s been two weeks and we’ve seen some improvement. She’s been getting caught up in some school work and able to spend time with friends here and there. It has been encouraging to watch as slow progress is still progress.
Yesterday, just as Michael and I had embarked on a much needed date night, we had just sat down at the restaurant to order and the phone rings. Sophia called bawling her eyes out because, while at her friend’s house, she threw up repeatedly and was in a lot of stomach pain. What’s more, she was/is very frustrated she can’t seem to kick this and the correlating problems. This morning at church, a friend was excited to revel in our mutual friend’s daughter’s achievements where she had deservedly, once again, taken 1st place. Of course, I am thrilled for my friend’s daughter; in fact, she’s my best friend. Our daughters are only a year apart and we are each other’s daughter’s god-mothers.
I thought to myself how astonishingly disgusting it was that I would feel such pain and jealousy for one I love so dearly; its a bit of a paradox. Even as I type, I weep at the unbearable thought that I would have such emotions. It was all I could do not to cry the entire service knowing my baby was hurting and feeling the way I did. Notwithstanding, the fact remains, people in my shoes do feel surges of jealousy with the desire for our kids to be able to enjoy childhood/teenhood just like everyone else’s kids.
Just the other day, a friend wrote asking me to pray for peace for her because she was feeling jealousy for reasons I just described. She is a follower of Christ and knows God has a perfect plan for her child, yet struggles with such feelings. She mentioned that watching photo after photo of other kids doing so well and having such joy brought her more pain.
I responded like this (roughly): “My personal peace comes from reminding myself that, at the conclusion of this part of Sophia’s life, it will catapult her right into the perfect will of God. If I may be frank, you do not need prayer for peace, you need to believe God has a plan and that it is good; belief is where the peace lies. I don’t know what God has designed for your daughter’s life, but a part of that is not you feeling devastated as if there’s no hope. I say this to you as I must daily remind myself.” Knowing, believing, trusting and accepting God does have a plan is the key. This knowledge is how I am able to:
- Call myself to accountability in my incorrect emotions
- Pull down (away from) my mind all thoughts not of God
- Pull those thoughts into the obedience of Christ until my obedience is made complete
- Refuse to allow my mind to continue a process of comparing Sophia’s life to anyone else’s
- Remind myself God is faithful, He has a plan, He is in love with her and He purposes the best for her
- Believe all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who walk according to the Spirit
- Trust God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength – regardless of what my eyes see or emotions feel
- Reestablish peace that passes all understanding
If I may help you in any way, please reach out to me on Facebook, email or in the comments section. If there’s help for me and my child, there’s equal hope, help and peace for you. Jealousy of others will only lead to further destruction, chaos and confusion, it is a murdering spirit. Just because we feel something in a moment of weakness does not mean we have to allow it to overtake us. Focusing on the love of God chases out feelings which are not of God. Blessings!
Proverbs 14:30: “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”
The Real Fight, part II
Pulling Down Imaginations and Strongholds:
According to II Corinthians 10:3-4, we have authority through the blood to pull down imaginations and strongholds that arise within you. This means to “take hold” of them and forcibly remove them before they cause irreparable damage. Everything begins in the mind and, if the mind is spiritually weak and contaminated, your actions will follow suit. Before you go into any battle for someone or something, you must first have yourself clean. Here’s the breakdown of the instruction of II Corinthians 10:3-4:
Imaginations: have you ever let your mind wander into some out of whack place? It could be imagining having an affair, stealing from your company, lying to get out of something, and so on. Imaginations that are not led by Christ lead people away from God, not toward God. You are not to allow your mind to wander. Take control over it. You are to operate with the sound mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5). In purity, imaginations are what allow you to have visions from God and see them through to fruition. Those visions bring hope to the believer and salvation to the unbeliever.
Strongholds: anything that has a grip on you that would hinder you from being all God created you to be. A stronghold can be holding on to the past, bitterness, anger, greed, jealousy, addictions, or countless other things that seem stronger than Christ in you. When you are led by the Spirit, you will want to pull them down to keep them from oppressing you.
Pulling Down: it is not as much praying as it is commanding those things that hinder you to leave. Commanding things to leave is part of the authority God gave you over your own person. When things try to get in my head, I speak out loud so that demonic forces coming against me can hear, “I command you, in the name of Jesus, to be loosed from your assignment over me (name what it is).” Then I begin to replace them with whatever of God is the opposite. If impatience, replace it with the patience of Christ; if anger, peace; if hatred, love; if sorrow and depression, joy; anxiety, calm; if impurity, purity.
The mind is the home front of all battles; the real battle begins there. Keeping your person clean is imperative. “Pulling down” thoughts, ideas and images of the world that keep us bound in heaviness is our responsibility to keeping an easy yoke and light burden.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying imaginations and every high thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we. For even if I boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be put to shame (II Corinthians 10:3-4, NAS).”
This has everything to do with pulling down imaginations, strongholds, and every high thing that exalts itself above the name of Christ. Your mind needs to be transformed because the thoughts of the flesh are corrupt and full of perversion. Your mind, in its natural state, is a cesspool of garbage keeping you weak and unable to tap into the fullness of God’s might and power. He would not instruct you to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” if the mind wasn’t a snare and easy prey for the evil one.
When you realize you are seated in heavenly places with Christ, in Christ, you will think His thoughts. You will begin to see clearly as He sees. You will comprehend God vindicates those who are His own and extends rest for the weary. God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and sound mind.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith…Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse (Romans 12:2-3, 14, NAS).”