Walking With Alzheimers

Daddy called this morning at 6:42, having punched the buttons of the phone for my mom, he said hello and handed it to her. Fearful and panicked she told me, once again, how something was really wrong and begged for me to help her.

It is profoundly sad to watch someone be mentally ravaged by Alzheimer’s. I find myself praying my mama will slip into a place where she is unaware of all she has lost, where the fear of what is happening will be replaced by a peace of living only in the now. Her peace, however, will be my deepest lost, for she won’t remember me.

Its twisted. She is fearful of losing all of what she knows, but it’s only in the losing of it all she will not be tormented. She begs for help not realizing the price of the relief.

Its warped. I long for her peace, and so pray for what she is longing to not happen, the losing of her memory.

Still, in all of this I am growing. I’m learning to live while I grieve, and allow myself to grieve while I live. I now savor moments and embrace unexpected opportunities, purposing to have no regrets. And, I find myself with an increasing capacity to love beyond myself.

I fully realize I’m not alone walking through challenges that press me to process the experiences of life. What are you learning in your circumstances? How are you growing?

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Removing Barriers to Faith

2 Kings 18:1-8

Hezekiah’s trust in the Lord was greater than any of the other kings of Judah, either before or after his reign. His faith was active, powerful and affective, demonstrated in destroying the places of idol worship and the idols God’s people were worshipping, refusing to submit and serve a foreign king, and stricking down his enemies in the surrounding territory. Hezekiah’s faith in action paved the way for the people to worship the One, true God, and protected their ability to continue doing so.

I find myself, as a pastor and leader of God’s people, asking myself how I can follow Hezekiah’s example in removing barriers that prevent people from living lives of worship to God.

  • What false altars, practices and idols are in lives around me that I can help take down?
  • What is tempting me to give away any of my allegiance to Jesus, and affect those God has placed under my care?
  • What should I be targeting, as an enemy, that is coming against God’s people?

My prayer: Lord, help me to hold as fast to you as Hezekiah. Show me ways where I’m not walking as close to you as I should, where I am not following what you have asked of me. Be with me and allow me to create paths of greater worship for your people.

Sweet Spot Truth

Thoughts I’ve been processing from Pastor Jon’s sermon, Kingdom Come: New Testament Generosity…

While having money and wealth are not evil, the desire to be rich and the love of money are. Without a correct view of possessions, we can polarize to having a poverty or pride mentality. A poverty mentality is driven by fear, hoarding possessions, judging others because of their possessions, and believing blessings are not deserved. Pride wants us to be known, judges people with “lesser” things as being lazy and ignorant, and believes blessings are earned. The “sweet spot” is gratitude and contentment, understanding God knows and provides what we need when we seek Him first. ~ Pastor Jon Cobler

Money and wealth hold such weight in our society, with power to provide beyond our needs and fulfill our dreams, their naturally “neutral” state is hard to comprehend.  We all recognize there is pleasure in pulling cash out of our wallet to pay for a wanted purchase, and pain that comes with a desire to have, without the ability to pay. The pleasure that comes with abundance and the pain that comes from lack make it all the more challenging to hear the desire to be rich and the love of money are evil. Being motivated to seek out all we can to fill our needs and be comfortable is a natural by-product of our sin nature, and I’ve found it’s not something I can eliminate from my life without the power of the Holy Spirit. I have had to work on adjusting my belief systems to align them with the truth of scripture.

The belief systems of people with a poverty or pride mentality are faulty.

Poverty:
“I don’t have enough.”  “I’m not worth more.”  “They have too much.”  “I don’t deserve blessings.”

Pride:
“I don’t have enough.”  “I am worth all this and a lot more.”  “It’s their own fault they don’t have more.”  “I’ve earned what I own.”

The Sweet Spot Truth:
“I was created in the image of God and am of great value, regardless of my possessions.”  “When I seek God first He provides all my needs.”  “Other people are valuable, regardless of what they own.”

Living in the Sweet Spot of gratitude and contentment for even a short period of time helps bring about a desire to stay right there, centered in Jesus and seeking God first.

To get to the sweet spot:

1. Take some time and identify  your own faulty belief systems
2. Confess to the Lord what you have been believing
3. Ask the Lord to forgive you for believing things about yourself and others that are not true
4. Accept the forgiveness He extends to those that confess
5. Ask Him to replace your old belief systems with a new ones based in truth

Heart for Ministry

To begin my blog, I’ve chosen to share from a scripture the Holy Spirit used to reveal God’s desire for my ministry.  Principles I learned from this account in Jesus’ life ignited within me a deep desire to be like Him in the lives of others…

The story:

Tired, hungry and desiring to slip away with His disciples to rest, Jesus was moved with compassion when He saw the crowd of people waiting for Him. Recognizing their need for someone to lead them, He stepped up, laying aside His own needs and desires, and taught them many things. As time passed and the hour grew late, Jesus’ disciples came to Him and suggested the people be sent away to find something for themselves to eat. In response Jesus turned his attention to training His own disciples, calling them to step up to meet the needs of the people. He directed them to take account of what resources they had, and after organizing the crowd and blessing the food, distributed it to them to pass out. Everyone ate and the leftovers were collected.

It’s a story of self-sacrifice, compassion, teaching, training, organizing, and meeting needs of people. Amazing in itself.

Enter the power of God, transforming a simple story into a testimony of His character and ministry:

The crowd exceeded 5,000 people, the disciples didn’t spend any of the money they had on hand, only five loaves of bread and two fish fed everyone until they were satisfied, and twelve baskets of leftovers were collected.

It’s a story of believing for the impossible, the miraculous stretching of resources, and knowing God’s desire to abundantly satisfy and bless beyond the need at hand.

Enter God’s call:

With no bread, bags, money or sandals, and only one tunic apiece, the disciples went in pairs, traveling and calling people to repent. They cast out many demons and anointed many sick with oil, healing them. Upon returning to Jesus they were told to go away and rest. Tired, and hungry they slipped away and found a great crowd waiting for them when they arrived.

Tired and weary, yet obediently doing as Jesus asked, the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 occurred from their hands.

From Mark 6, my heart’s desire: to be moved with compassion, to teach and lead others, to  create systems that enable His hands to move in meeting the needs around me, to believe in the impossible and to be a participant in His miracles.