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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Joy and Trials

James 1:2-4

Consider it all joy my brethren when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

I read that the deeper meaning of the word “joy” is to be satisfied. I want to ask you if you are content or satisfied with your lot in life. James says that we should be. In fact, he says that when we encounter rough waters – when we encounter various trials – we are to meet those trials with contentment.

By definition “trials” are sufferings that put strength, patience or faith to the test.

James was talking to fellow BELIEVERS. That's US.

How can we rejoice or be content when we are suffering a trial of some sort? We are not glad to be unhappy – but we celebrate the fact that in the midst of painful, hurtful circumstances – God is there – with us – meeting our needs. The God of the universe has made Himself small enough that He has concerned Himself with and acquainted Himself with MY problems! It's not the problems that matter so much (the problems come and go) but with a sense of wonder I am transported far beyond my trial – and I “see” God holding me up, bending over me, attending me, expressing His tender love for me....

When I say that I 'see”it, it is through the lens of faith. I am believing that God is who He says He says He is and that He loves me the way He says He does. To do this I have to know what the Bible tells me about Him.

Do prepare now for the testing of your strength, faith, and patience by READING the Word. We must first KNOW the Word. Then we BELIEVE that Word. Then we ACT on the truth of that Word. It will feel bad at first. But push through that pain. There is joy unspeakable on the other side of that trial.

As I write this I am reminded of my childhood. Whenever I got sick, my mother would take care of me. She would take care of me. She would feed me delicious meals, medicate me, see that I rested in bed, freshen my sheets every day, and so on. I loved the attention. I didn't like being sick, but I loved the TLC. I think James is telling us this same thing: You don't have to like the trial, but rejoice in your heavenly Father's tender loving care over you.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Power of Love

Thank You, heavenly Father, for sending Your Son to redeem me.  I can't figure out why You would want me, except that You love me.  You ARE love.
Love is not weak or polite, nor does it wink at sin.  Love is the power and creative genius that made the heavens and the earth and all the creatures in it.  Love not only lifts me up amidst the sorrow and the torment of things gone wrong, but it also crushes the counterfeit of good.  It will obliterate the hypocrisy of disease.
Love is tenacious in it's pursuit of us.  It never gives up as long as there is life and a chance of redemption.  Jesus set His face like a flint towards the cross, and did not shrink back.  At the time appointed, we will see that magnificant power under control.  That's what love is.  It does not cower before anyone, and is obedient only to theTtruth.  Love looks you in the eye and unfalteringly speaks the truth.
My truth today is PD doesn't control me, - like love gone wrong - It attacks me, and like a twisted piece of metal it is a mangled version of life.  But He Who is Truth and Love will prevail.  I will endure to the end of this life that evil has for the present claimed - until the coming of His great great kingdom and the unveiling of His Truth.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

We Need a Saviour

People with PD need a Saviour (a Great Physician) !  We are broken and cannot fix ourselves.  We have tried diet, excercise, positive thinking, physical therapy, medicine and surgery, but we still have this affliction.  And it progresses.   This is also our  spiritual condition.  We are sinners.  Even if we figure our sins are minimal and we are not as bad as some others - the truth remains:  We are sinners.  Even if we lived a sinless life from our first moment of birth we would still be sinners in need of a Saviour.  Why?  Because every human being has a sin nature that we are born with.  We are tainted from the beginning.  It is just as impossible to get rid of sin and it's effects, as it would be to heal myself of PD.  We are utterly powerless.
As Believers, we have allowed Jesus Christ to pay for all our sin and then to cleanse us from every particle of it in our lives.
I have had a transforming and life-giving surgery that has gotten rid of many symptoms of this disease. This was arranged by God.  I have been "saved".  Spiritually speaking Jesus Christ has come as the Great Physician into my life and saved me from certain spiritual death.  Some people (many in fact) refuse this wonderful gift, (spiritually speaking) and stubbornly continue to refuse help as they weaken and lose their abilities.  That would be like me telling the neuro-surgeon:  thanks for your offer of a better life, but frankly I'm going to decline your offer to help me - to make life wonderful.  I'd rather die.
As Believers, we have accepted the Saviour's beautiful gift.  We could not have earned what it took to pay for all the sin in our lives, but He opened the Book of Accounts, and marked in the space beside my name - PAID IN FULL
 Thank You, heavenly Father, for Your priceless gift!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I Have Learned What is Most Important

I'm sixty years old.  Sometimes I feel every bit of that plus more........and other times I feel what I'm guessing normal may feel like.  Of course having had this disease for over 20 years now, I don't guess I really know what normal feels like.  Whatever.  But what I want to say is that PD (monster that it is)  has taught me different values - better ones.  Before, I depended upon the temporal parts of me.  Like my youthful appearance, my size 2 body, the gift of grace on a  horse - the way I looked and the way I carried myself.  I also developed character and tried to always be kind and generous among other things, but now that I don't have that young face and body, or those graces, I have had to realize that skin deep isn't good enough.  I want to be good and strong, honest and faithful, loyal and loving.........  What I cannot do physically any more, is a temptation to insecurity.  There are no approving glances or admiration at my physical skills.  Instead I am clumsy and slow.
But, do you know - this is why I have learned what is most important.  It takes courage to face the world with less than everybody else has.  When you step outside your secret world, it forces you to call up the strength you never thought you had.  It encourages you to be forgiving and patient with others, because you know you are taxing on people at times.  You learn to reject embarassment over meaningless things like inability to use a fork correctly, or hold a tea cup without trembling.  These problems force me to grow past the things that I will leave behind when I leave this earth.
I will never love PD.  But I am a different person than before.  I am a better, deeper person.  I am less interested in SELF and far more interested in you.  Life with PD has called forth my best efforts and taught me to notice the little things, because I can't do what I once thought were the big things.
I hope that one day, I will meet you..........  I wonder what you think of life with PD, or just plain life...........  And I want to say, that it takes grace - and lots of it - to move through life with a broken body.  I think you must be beautiful..........and one day I hope I will meet you.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Shepherd King Part 9

The Shepherd King
Part 9

Hours later, aware that I was not alone, - I saw it, - but I wasn't sure if it saw me. The moon was full and cast deep shadows that were in stark contrast to to the bright light surrounding them. Into my line of vision came a creature like a wolf, that was jet black and shaggy with tangled fur and red eyes, as tall as a large pony. Upon its back sat a creature – I don't know what. It's teeth were long and sharp. It had a stench that reached my nostrils almost before I saw it.

Then in an instant I knew that it was aware of me. With eyes narrowing to slits, it threw back it's head and screamed a blood curdling warning to its companions who couldn't have been far behind it. Its steed was pulling at the reins, eager to pounce and the creature pulled out a sword and pointed it in my direction. I could hear the galloping monsters behind it nearing my line of vision. The first one began speaking evil words that though I did not understand them, made chills run up and down my spine. The words had harsh sounds and the voice that delivered them seemed to come from the depths of its cold heart.

I waited until it seemed the last one had rounded the bend, and I could wait no longer...... I called to the scorpions, commanding them to attack and kill these evil beings. They appeared to glide out from under the rocks in endless waves, covering all, stinging until there was no life left in those frightful bodies.
I was nearing Parkinson's Disease and the closer I got to it, the worse my wounds became. The town itself was set in a valley where bare rock could be seen, and shallow depressions of dirt were scattered at random as far as one could see. Only the spindly weeds were able to scratch out a life and draw some form of nourishment from the otherwise barren place.

An old woman approached me, with head down and bent over. Her voice was weak, so I had to strain to listen to what she said.

You must be the new person. We have been expecting you.” Pointing to a dilapidated old shack (not unlike the other houses in the vicinity)she began shuffling towards it. This is where you will stay.” There was no mention of a departure time, and my heart sank as I drew nearer to it. I couldn't help but think of the differences between this scrappy lean-to and the wonderful safe houses where help had come to me in the past.

Your assignment is to pray. All distractions have been taken away from you so that you can devote all of your time to prayer.”

What will I pray about?” I asked.

You will pray for our people (others who also pray) and you will pray them through hard places and to be protected from the dark ones. The Shepherd King will tell you as you go........”.

She turned and made her way to a large house where others were also going. She motioned for me to follow. When I entered this house, I saw that they were praying with one accord – one mind – one heart. I joined in with them, and so the days went. I also prayed much by myself. At last the day came when I could not even carry my backpack or walk without assistance. I cried out to the Shepherd King unceasingly. I wanted Him to heal me, and I knew that He could......... But I had never seen a person healed, so there was much turmoil within me. My heart was so sad......... I no longer knew
the joy of movement. I felt I was nearing death. I had served my time in the forces of the Shepherd King. On the last stretch of this journey, I wept tears of sadness, of loss of hope..........

One day during my quiet time of prayer, suddenly I heard a man's voice – a wonderful voice. Full of compassion and care, He lifted me in His arms. He was so strong. Together – in His strength – we crossed the threshold of the door leading outside, and He found a tree where He could prop me up. He knelt down before me, and swept my hair back from my face. He looked deeply into my eyes. There was wisdom and love on His face and even in His hands. Who WAS this man?

Do you know who I am?” He asked. I confessed that I did not, though He seemed strangely familiar – as if I had known Him a long time. I am He who protected you from the fiery arrows in enemy attacks . I am the Healer of your wounds, and I carried you when you could not walk. I rescued you from the tangle of thorns. I am He of many names and I have billions of Messengers – some of whom have I sent to your aid. I am the Defeater of Demons, and the Scorpions and Snakes obey me. I am the author of the Book of Life and I have helped you to understand the wisdom contained within its pages. I sent my servants to share their food with you. I am the One with authority over giants and the one who shielded you from their attack. I am the lowly Shepherd King
who rules.  I am also the Giver of Gifts, and I have one for you.

It is many moons since then. But I remember it very well. It was not the kind of gift you can put in a box and wrap. It wasn't exactly the kind of gift that could be seen – at least not directly. There were no bright colors with shine-y paper foils, and no bows. It was spectacular all the same. It was wondrous yet has been passed over by men who could not see it's worth – men who did not dream – whose thoughts went no further than their eyes could see. Hidden treasure it was – pure gold – so pure – transparent like a bottomless crystal...... It was all new to me– never before imagined, yet it is older than the stars. Fluid - like sparkling water – definable yet eternal. It was not to be found in the window of a store or on someone's wish list. No one had ever dreamed how huge this tiny gift would be – how it would bring healing and guidance; how it would open eyes and ears.
Older than the stars, but new to me, He gave me a Word...........a new Word, that only I know). He has called me into a place of partial healing for now; and one day it will be complete. I wait with a holy anticipation. The Shepherd King has given me His Word that these things are true.

My Shepherd King has been here with me all the time . And, lo He always will be there.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Shepherd King Part 8

The Shepherd King
Part 8

More and more of the time, I was depressed. My wounds had not healed and every movement had become an effort, draining my energy. I found a spot to rest on the road I traveled and sat with my little book to read of the wonderful things to come........ I read of miracles of healing and how the Shepherd King's mighty warriors crushed His evil enemies. I read of the things He believed in – how He stood for truth and how He loved His own. He would even fight for His people. I dreamnt of becoming a great warrior in His ranks. It gave me hope that I too would one day be healed and have the joy of effortless movement, of no pain and I would not be able to contain my joy! But for now it made me sad in some ways because the Shepherd King had not come yet.....not to me.

Were the Shepherd King's promises really for me? Does the Shepherd King still do miracles today? I was thinking on the wonderful words in His book, and totally absorbed in my thoughts: “O, Shepherd King, that You would rend the heavens when You hear our cries! That You would come down from Your wonderful palace and heal us! That the mountains might shake at Your longed-for presence – and as fire burns brushwood; like fire that causes water to boil – come and heal us! May the fire of Your love heal us. And then Your name will be known to all Your adversaries (like to the town of Parkinson's Disease) – that hell hole of a town - so they would be moved at Your presence!”

As if in answer to my thoughts, The ground began to rumble. Rocks started falling and trees fell over. If this could be put into words, I think it would be the Shepherd King's reply. I think He was saying that indeed He would one day come for me. And that He had never left me alone – though I couldn't see Him – and I was not to worry because He never would. And lastly, He seemed to say that I had a part in defeating the darkness, though I could not see it. I had purpose, and I was very precious to Him.

All was quiet – for a moment …. And then, I saw that when the rocks moved, it had disturbed a nest of scorpions. They were very large and very deadly. I could not move fast enough to get to a safe spot, and so they began to advance towards me with their tails curled up, ready to sting.

I could open my book though and my eye fell on this line: “I – the Shepherd King – have given you authority to tread on scorpions and snakes. You will command them, and they will obey.” Without thinking I held up my hand and said, “Stop!” They came to a stop! Then I commanded them to lie in wait for the wolves that had been tracking me, and to KILL THEM.

Night was coming on. With my back up against a wall, and a clear view of the path I had just come from, I waited.................... 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Shepherd King Part 7

Shepherd King
Part 7

I couldn't dress the wounds and cuts and bruises the goblins had left me with, because I couldn't reach my back. I was learning though, to be content in whatever circumstance
I found myself. I found that what I thought I needed was not always what I really needed. I was becoming grateful for what I DID have.

One day, I came upon a village of giants. They were evil beings and were hardly able to get along with each other. They were dedicated to killing all who were in the service of the shepherd king. They had great physical strength, and that coupled with the attack on the mind made them unstoppable conquerors and soldiers of the fiercest kind. They were hideous.

I stuck to my narrow path and did not veer to the right or the left. I was spotted by some of these ungraceful and grotesque warriors. My heart nearly stopped as they began running towards me. I froze. But a funny thing happened. When they got close enough they reached out with swords and their large hands trying to take my head off, or pull me apart, and they found there was an invisible shield around me. I was sealed. They couldn't touch me.

I found my best weapon to be the Word of the Shepherd King – all in my book. These giants could easily have killed me (and on more than one occasion they did try). Indeed, I did not have the strength I had started out with. I was slow and clumsy. Passersby on the narrow road I was on, would stare at me, indicating with their eyes how useless and ugly they deemed me to be. Some laughed at me. The Shepherd King did not show Himself on these occasions, but He was there............... I knew He was there.

The hair on the back of my neck would raise up whenever one of these giants came near. I could feel their eyes when they were staring at me, but eventually the tables turned and THEY feared ME. I was so devoted to the Shepherd King that my light had grown brighter and brighter. They couldn't stand the light and would retreat whenever it would shine forth with sunbeams looking like golden ladders reaching from heaven to earth. I had almost no strength to fight with anymore, but I would read the words in my book that said, “I can do all things through the Shepherd King who strengthens me.” The book told me that the Shepherd King would fight for me, and that He would never leave me. It even told me that my life had purpose. I was not some kind of coincidental mishap that fate had raised up from the the random mixture of my ancestor's DNA.

And so I continued on my journey – a different person than when I started out.