Tag: faith

Alzheimer’s Took Mom, not Jesus’ Presence

Alzheimer’s Took Mom, not Jesus’ Presence

It would be one of the last conversations I would have with Mom. It was 2016 and she was now succumbing to Alzheimer’s unrelenting grip. As we sat together in her small but comfortable living room, I tried to communicate with the woman who had been my Mom for half a century. Her fading into the unknown was unsettling, for she was only a remnant of her full self, but she was still Mom.

My wife had gone outside to look after our kids and to give me some time alone with my dying mother. Dad joined them. There was an awkward silence in the room as we sat, unable to really communicate, broken only by the sound of my kids playing just outside the sliding glass door. I asked Mom questions, if she remembered this or that, hoping to break through the wall the disease had built around her. I wanted to make a connection, but it wasn’t happening.

Occasionally, something would get her attention and she would respond, mostly with garbled speech that reflected a misalignment of mind and tongue, one of the debilitating affects of Alzheimer’s. In spite of our lack of cognizant communication, I felt centered to be in her presence, for she had sacrificed so much for me and my four siblings, for our whole family. The unseen connection came through loud and clear, at least in the form of an inner peace. Still, I longed to connect verbally somehow, visually, on the surface I guess. It was as if my senses of sight and hearing needed confirmation of what I believed to be true, but wanted to know with certainty; that Mom could hear me, understand me and know full well that it was me sitting just across from her.

As I sat waiting for some kind of sign that she was not fully recessed into the annals of her mind, thoughts of a difficult past rushed my spirit and wouldn’t let go. These were memories, both painful and pleasant rising to the surface. Not just of my history with her, but of her past well before I came into the picture. The many stories she told over the years of her upbringing were circling in my mind as if she had just told them to me the day before. I recalled watching a home video taken in 1942, when she was only about six years old, playing in the backyard, having no idea of the life God had in store for her. Now, she was in her last months and in her eighties. I was trying to celebrate her soon departure from a broken world and a fading body, but sadness took the moment.

Discouraged that I wasn’t getting through, I decided to ask her about her faith, her love for the Bible and Jesus. It would be one last attempt to stir something within her. I started with asking her if she missed reading the Bible, which was important to her for as long as I could remember, but not much of a response. Then I asked her if she still prayed or spoke with Jesus? Without letting more than a second pass after this question, her thin face turned toward me and her warm Hazel eyes locked with mine. In perfect speech and obvious determination, she said; “oh yes, I talk to Jesus everyday.” Her face again then turned back to the wall she had been staring at for the past thirty minutes or so. Stunned at the sudden level of clarity in her speech and focus in her eyes, I sat there speechless. For a few moments, Alzheimer’s had no power. In fact, it didn’t seem to even exist. We finally connected, but on her terms, that of her and her Savior.

Mom was the original witness to me as to the love and goodness of our Christ Jesus, and she had just witnessed to me again, and in such a way I didn’t see coming. I was reminded that Jesus was there the whole time, even in the midst of her debilitating disease. And perhaps there to give me one last wink through Mom, one final witness through the woman that brought me into this world.

Mom went into the arms of God just one week before Mother’s Day 2017. Her witness to his love and ever-presence, even in the midst of her haunting disease, will stay with me forever. Love you Mom. I’ll see you in the age to come.

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Living Beyond Your Potential

Living Beyond Your Potential

I hear things all the time like; “you can reach your potential” or “you have great potential”. And in this world, the attention we receive from others, and value attributed to us, are often based on the potential others see in us. But the love and possibilities we have in Christ Jesus go beyond the world’s value system and its criteria for mere human potential.

In God’s world, he is not interested in us living up to our own potential. Rather, to the possibilities in his limitless nature. Regardless of our limitations and weaknesses, turning to God opens the doors to eternity itself, which has many implications.

Jesus states “with God all things are possible.” Mathew 19:26.

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Set your heart on what your dreams are, not on whether you have what it takes to accomplish those dreams. God can give you that. He can open any door. Especially to those who pray and act in faith.

Ask yourself what you really want to do with your life, and what his will for your life is, and ask God to open the doors. Give no regard to limitation, which is fear based thinking.

Trust in the advise given in Proverbs; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; Proverbs 3:5 NIV.

In many ways, the Word of God is trying to tell you and me that in Christ Jesus, anything can be accomplished for good as we trust our dreams and desires to our Lord and Savior. What “impossible” request will you bring to God today?

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Jesus’ Name Still Has Power

Jesus’ Name Still Has Power

In February of 2010, a store owner in Frisco Texas was about to be robbed at gun-point by a hooded intruder. The owner pointed her finger at him and said; “In the name of Jesus, you get out of my store. I bind you by the power of the holy spirit.”

What moves me about this story is that the owner embraced courage over fear while under pressure of being held-up. She could have reached out to 911 or a shotgun behind the counter, but she invoked Jesus’ name instead. She could have caved to fear and dropped to her knees at the demands of fear personified. But the owner refused to partner with fear and insisted on tapping into the power of God by calling upon her Savior.

Her brave act also served as a witness to the thief. Maybe it will change him, maybe it won’t. But at least he’s been introduced to the power of God.

Most of us probably won’t have to rebuke a would be robber. Our biggest challenge may be just trusting God with our lives in general. Our addictions. Old habits that won’t die. People we just can’t seem to forgive, or the need to forgive ourselves. Whatever we’re dealing with, calling on the name of Christ Jesus still has all the power we need, especially as we call on him in faith. But for me, there remains a mild fear that I may find myself in the wrong convenient store at the wrong time.

A friend is considering getting a permit to carry a weapon. He is a long time Christian but feels compelled to protect himself and his family. We talked about what it means to trust God with every aspect of our lives. I can understand the temptation to want to look to the gun to protect those you love. But doesn’t our faith equip us with something much more powerful? And if we do carry a weapon, will we turn to God or the gun in a crisis?

There is a lively gun debate going on in our country right now, as you know, but this blog is not about that. I’m simply asking the question; Do we trust God completely with everything, including our personal safety?

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As believers, our destiny is in Christ. When or how we leave this world may not be in our hands. So, I’m not sure relying on a weapon or any other form of self protection will change our fate ultimately.

At the same time, I feel that protecting those we love is our job and part of our commitment to them. But where do we draw the line? I would like to hear your thoughts on the matter.

As for the hooded intruder, upon hearing the name of Jesus boldly spoken, the gun-toting assailant appeared stunned and then turned and walked out the door empty-handed, cursing, with his weapon at his side. Love confronted fear, and fear lost.

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The Opposite of Love; How Fear Keeps us From What we Want the Most

The Opposite of Love; How Fear Keeps us From What we Want the Most

Everyone wants love in their life. Perhaps it’s our deepest yearning. But love eludes many Christians. Statistically, our failure rate is about the same as any other group. One may even feel they’re a catch. Finding the life long love seems rare still. Why the scarcity? Why the confusion? In order to get a clearer picture of how love works and why one might be missing out, we’ll do well by first looking at loves opposite; fear.

Many things come to mind when I think of fear; being overly cautious, the attempt to eliminate risk, timidity and nervousness. Who hasn’t been completely controlled by these at one point or another? But for some, the nature of fear is a way of life. A philosophy to live by. One’s fear may be found in an overly practical nature for example. And this philosophy may be so committed to saving a dollar that the thought of splurging on a bouquet of flowers may seem wasteful, unnecessary.

Everything must be logical to the devoted practical philosopher. All things attained must be for an actual need. No extra’s. As a general approach to life, everything must be verified and confirmed with the attempt to eliminate any sense of the unknown.

If you’ve ever traveled with someone like this, or worked on some kind of a project, you know how this way of thinking can suck the life out of any situation, any relationship. Being insanely practical is respected and applauded in some circles. It’s even treated as if it’s wisdom. But I’ve come to see it as one of the great enemies of love, and fear is at its core. There is a time for practicality, and we all need some level of it. But could an over-application be killing one’s chances for love?

The nature of love could not be farther from that of fear or extreme practicality. Love accepts that not all risk can be eliminated, and even celebrates its presence as adventure. Love is confident that things, however they turn out, will work for good. Love leaves room for spontaneity. Is willing to splurge. Love is thrilled at the mere possibility that something just might be. It’s whimsical, creative and imaginative. Taking a chance is at the heart of what love is.

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We’re really talking about faith. Faith in the ability to believe in something before it’s materialized. People who walk around with the spirit of faith are much more likely to embrace the possibility of love. The very disposition of their heart and mind is inclined to believe in not only love for others, for themselves as well.
But the person who has given themselves over to the idea that all things must be proven in advance and insists on controlling as much of their own life as possible, will have a harder time with love. They want the benefit of love but they don’t believe in it enough to take a leap of faith for it. It’s just too risky after all.

All this talk about love and fear is really a spiritual one, and this is where we can see the difference most clearly. Overly practical ways have a way of creeping into the Christian faith, which stifles any real chance of a close love with our Creator. God in fact insists that we live from a spirit of faith, a crucial component of our, well, faith, and love. And if that’s not happening with God, love with another person is less likely, especially one of Gods design.

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15 NIV

If you aren’t experiencing the love you want with another person, maybe focusing on your love and connection with your Creator is what God wants for you right now. Nothing prepares us better for love with another than a close walk with Jesus our Savior. Get filled with his love, take a chance with Him, and maybe you’ll have the faith, courage and insight to pursue a love with another, as God wills for you.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18 NIV

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