A Contrite Heart

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17

After King David had committed multiple sins surrounding his adulterous affair with Bathsheba, he knew not only had he sinned against man and his kingship but most importantly against his Heavenly Father. The separation from God was wearing on his soul and, through the Prophet Nathan, his spirit was broken and his heart was made heavy. King David knew God did not want a burnt offering or any other ritual sacrifice to atone for his sins. The only way to find forgiveness was to humble himself before God and confess his sins. This is what today’s passage from David’s Psalm is saying.

God always wants us to confess our sins with humility and a contrite or humble heart. Since my diagnosis of Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, I find it increasingly easy to confess my sins to the Lord with a humble heart. The pride that once surrounded my life seems so distant and unimportant given all that I am going through with this disease. Now, I deeply desire for my relationship with God to be right, relevant, and real. I don’t want anything to separate me from Him especially something as simple as unconfessed sin.

The amazing thing is that we all have stuff going on in our lives. For me it is dementia, for you it may be something similar or entirely different. Whatever it is, don’t let unconfessed sin get between you and God. You must have God’s help to deal with the daily struggles you face. You need His security, solace, strength, and support to handle your unique situation.

I love the words from Hebrews, “Let us through off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Unconfessed sin entangles you and builds a wall between you and God! Humble yourself before God, confess your sins, and rebuild your right relationship with Him. God loves you dearly and longs to hear your humble confession. As long as you are honest with Him, maintain a humble heart, and honor Him, He will never forsake you even when you slip up and sin.

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The Joy of Your Salvation

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. Psalm 51:12

After being confronted by Nathan for his adulterous affair with Bathsheba, King David feels severely separated from God and is unable to cleanse himself from his sins. He cries out for mercy and asks for forgiveness so he might have sweet spiritual harmony with his Lord once again. He asks God to restore his joy and grant him a willing spirit to sustain him. King David wants the separation to end, the sin to be cleansed, and a right relationship with God to be restored. God has not left David but is waiting for him to confess his sin, crave His presence again, and seek His counsel.

When I was diagnosed with Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, I understood King David’s yearning for God. The diagnosis left me feeling separated from God because I felt like I was being punished for some past sin. I prayed for His presence and for joy to return after my diagnosis. As I prayed, God brought today’s passage to my mind. As I began to reflect on this Psalm passage; a Scripture I memorized many, many years ago, I could feel His presence once again.

Today’s Scripture is a power passage for me as I often repeat it over and over again. I even use the words of this powerful passage in my daily prayers. As I deal with the daily demands of dementia, I realize God has not left me alone to cope with this disease. In fact, He has been with me all along. All I need to do is focus on my relationship with Him rather than on my disease.

Perhaps this is what happened to King David; he became focused on Bathsheba rather than his relationship with God. Once his focus shifted from God to Bathsheba, David got in trouble. This can happen so easily in our lives!

If you are struggling with Alzheimer’s disease or any other serious illness, try to remain focused on God, not on your disease. If you can do this, then the joy of God’s salvation will soak into your soul and sustain you for the struggles ahead. You will once again have a willing spirit, experience the joy of your salvation, and be in a right relationship with the Father. What more could anyone ask for?

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His Perfect Presence in Your Life

Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:11

Whenever we sin we are momentarily separated from God until we confess and ask for forgiveness. If we continue to sin, this separation can move from momentary to a more lasting situation. God’s presence is no longer felt in our lives and we wonder where He has gone. The same can happen when we wrestle with depression or despondency over our current lot in life. As we anguish about difficulties, we begin to push God out of our lives because we ignore His great blessings.

This is exactly what happened to King David over his affair with Bathsheba. His sins pushed God out of His life. After his confrontation with Nathan, David realized his sins and sought forgiveness. Today’s passage reminds us of David’s deep desire to reconnect with God and hold on to the Holy Spirit who worked so heavily in his life.

Most people who struggle with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia also struggle with bouts of depression. When this happens to me, I spend time in prayer asking God to renew my spirit, to comfort me with His presence, and to allow the Holy Spirit to work within me to overcome my despondent attitude. The Holy Spirit is so very important in the life of a Christian especially when facing difficult circumstances. The Holy Spirit works wonders for us by:

  • Testifying on our behalf
  • Bringing joy in the face of difficulty
  • Confirming our inheritance and salvation
  • Praying for us in ways we can never understand
  • Gently guiding us into the will of our Heavenly Father
  • Giving us new desires, new abilities, and new deeds.

It is the Holy Spirit who brings us comfort, confidence and courage during the difficulties we face as we struggle with the demands of dementia. As long as we stay connected to the vine of Christ, the Holy Spirit works in, for, and through us to bring good out of every situation in accordance with the will of the Father.

If you are struggling today, do as King David did and pray today’s passage from the Psalms. Ask God to remain present in your life and to keep His Holy Spirit actively working on your behalf. If it is difficult to pray, ask the Holy Spirit to pray for you and then thank the Father for this great gift. Remember, God loves you dearly and He will never forsake you, His precious child!

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A Steadfast Spirit

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

Statistics indicate that between 5% and 10% of Alzheimer’s patients will exhibit aggressive or violent behavior most often in the later stages of the disease. It is most likely the scariest situations care partners face because the outbursts can happen over seemingly simple situations. It is perhaps the characteristic that I pray most often about.

As I struggle with Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, my deepest personal prayer centers on beseeching God to keep me calm, content, cooperative, and composed as I continue through the defining stages of this disease. I ask Him to create in me a pure heart from which the Fruit of the Spirit will continue to flow especially when I’m not fully aware of what I may be doing or saying. These Fruit of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control and I want them to mark my character to the very end!

My deep personal prayer is not just for me but more so for my primary care partner, my wife. I would never want to harm, hurt, or humiliate her because of my declining mental state. So I pray for a pure heart and a steadfast spirit just like King David did in today’s Psalm passage. David wanted a pure heart free from sinful urges and a mind that no longer dwelled on past sinful actions. He also wanted a steadfast spirit to keep him on the right path no matter what circumstances came his way.

I, like King David, desperately need this steadfast spirit as Alzheimer’s disease plays havoc on my brain. Therefore, I pray for a steadfast spirit as well as a pure heart so God’s perfect power and His Holy Spirit will guide my actions, awareness, and attitudes. This is my heartfelt prayer as I continue forward in my battle with Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

If you have been diagnosed or are living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, use today’s perfect Psalm passage in your daily prayers. Ask God to give you a pure heart filled with the Fruit of the Spirit and a steadfast spirit to sustain you in your daily battles. Remember, He loves you dearly and He longs to give you a pure heart and a steadfast spirit. Ask for His help today!

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To Hear Joy and Gladness

Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Psalm 51:8

There is nothing like hearing good news that brings joy and gladness to your heart. Good news can come in many forms like a letter from an old college roommate, a visit from a dear friend, a call from your children, or even an email from a long lost relative. In biblical times, good news was sometimes delivered by angels like the announcement of the birth of Christ to the shepherds. Good news refreshes the spirit, nurtures hope, and creates enthusiasm for life.

Today’s Psalm passage contains King David’s plea to God to hear joy and gladness so that he might rejoice once again. David’s spirit was crushed because of his sins surrounding the affair with Bathsheba. He needed forgiveness, a cleansed heart, a renewed spirit, and the good news that his relationship with God would be restored. Only then could he have joy and gladness in his heart.

When dealing with the daily demands brought on by Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, good news is always a welcomed event. To make sure I get my daily dose of good news, I read from the New Testament every day. There is always something special that speaks to my spirit and brings joy and gladness to my heart. Even though I’ve read through the New Testament many times, these Scriptures always refresh my spirit.

If you are struggling with the daily demands of dementia, spend some time in God’s Word today. As you read, ask God to use the Scriptures to personally speak to you and bring joy and gladness to your heart. His Word is powerful and it can heal a broken spirit. Read it today so you can hear joy and gladness and rejoice once again.

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The Most High

Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me. Psalm 50:14

When I was a young boy growing up in the suburbs of Baltimore City, one of my favorite games was King of the Hill. The kids in my neighborhood played this game endlessly on an old clay dirt hill in an abandoned lot close to where we lived. It was a great game for kids and we played for hours until we were dirt tired and completely exhausted. Often times I would be victorious. There was nothing like the feeling of standing atop the hill while all your friends lay at the bottom. Of course, being “King of the Hill” was only a momentary title because it wasn’t long until you were pushed off your throne or embarrassingly called home for supper!

Today’s passage from the Psalms reminds us God is the Most High and we are to honor him with all we have and in all we do. We bring Him our offerings, we praise Him, we worship Him, we set our hearts and minds on Him, and we talk with Him every day. No matter what our particular circumstances may be, He deserves all our honor and praise.

Now this is a very easy thing to do when everything is going your way and you are “King of the Hill” so to speak in your profession, family, finances, health, and life in general. But what happens when one or more of these things come tumbling down and you are knocked of your high and mighty hill? Do you still honor and praise the Most High? The answer is a resounding YES! God is still the Most High no matter what is happening in your life. He is still worthy of all your praise, all your worship, and all your honor.

Even in the midst of my struggles with Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, I continue to honor and praise the Most High. He is my King, He loves me dearly, and He is my refuge in times of trouble especially when I’ve been knocked down off my high and mighty hill of health!

No matter what is going on in your life, honor Him today with your praise. Always remember to fill your prayers with thankfulness for all He has done. He is your King, the Most High, and He is worthy of all you have!

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The Mighty One

The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. Psalm 50:1

Over the past few weeks, here at the Hornback Homestead, we have had some colorfully clad sunsets. They have been simply spectacular. I even stood outside for long periods of time to watch the colors change across the sky as the sun disappeared from view. They brought to mind these wonderful words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “When I bought my farm, I did not know what a bargain I had in the bluebirds, daffodils and thrushes; as little did I know what sublime mornings and sunsets I was buying.”

These spectacular sunsets have stood as an extraordinary reminder that God is still in control of the universe to include this particular planet we call earth. He is the Mighty One who spoke. “Let there be light,” and there was light. He spoke and creation responded.

It is so easy to lose sight of all that God has done and continues to do when you are dealing with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Your world often closes in and your focus is centered on just getting through the day. That is why I have to continually remind myself that God, the Mighty One, is in control and it isn’t all about me! That’s difficult to do some days but when I can see a spectacular sunrise or sunset, I am reminded of today’s passage from the Psalms. Then I remember how God is ever present, purposely active in my life, and in complete control of all things.

No matter what your struggles are today, remember God created the earth and He created you. Place your trust in Him and know that He cares for you deeply. Just like He controls the rising and setting of the sun, He longs to be in control of your life as well. All you need do is yield to the Mighty One, the God of all creation. Then, as the Apostle Paul declared, all things will work to the good for you because you love Him and you are called according to His purposes.

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My Redeemer

But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself. Psalm 49:15

David Wilkerson, an American Christian evangelist who was the founding pastor of the Times Square Church of New York and best known for his book The Cross and the Switchblade said, “Many of those who once were so passionately in love with Christ now run about pursuing their own interests. They’re burdened down with stress and problems, chasing after riches and the things of this world.”

Sadly, David’s words are so true and seem to emphasize Psalm 49 which is a warning to anyone who places his trust in worldly wealth, materiel possessions, or pretentious prosperity. All these earthly treasures will perish at some point and as Thomas Fuller, an English churchman and historian once said, “Riches may leave us while we live; we must leave them when we die.” No one can take their wealth with them when they die and their wealth cannot purchase life.

Today’s passage from the 49th Psalms reminds us that only God can redeem a life. Only God can take someone to Himself. He is the only one who holds the key to eternal life with Him. Worldly wealth and pretentious prosperity mean nothing to the Almighty. Trusting God, having faith in Him, and obeying Him are the true measures of spiritual wealth and well-being.

Since my diagnosis of Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, I have come to understand this particular Psalm more fully. Worldly wealth cannot buy me out of my predicament with Alzheimer’s nor can it bring me any hope of a cure. My hope lies in the Lord who loves me and longs to guide me in my daily struggles with this disease. He alone knows the length of my days and the perfect path for my life.

He is my guide and He has redeemed me! I place my trust in Him and care little about what this disease may do to my life. God is my sole source of strength, solace, and solitude. I am redeemed because of my Great Savior and long to be with Him for eternity. If you are struggling today, place your trust in the only one who can redeem you, guide you, and comfort you, the Lord Almighty.

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A Guide to the Very End

For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end. Psalm 48:14

In my younger years, I loved to go spelunking to explore new caves. I’ve been in all sorts of underground caves that were simply spectacular. However, anytime I went into an unknown or unmarked cave, I always went with an experienced guide; someone who had been there before and knew the way. When the situation is unknown, treacherous, and risky, an experienced guide is a must!

Life can be a treacherous and risky experience to say the least. It is often filled with treacherous trials, sorrowful situations, and incomprehensible illnesses. To navigate through any of these significant life events, you need a well experienced and knowledgeable guide who has led people through similar events before. Today’s Psalm passage reminds us that God is indeed our guide throughout life and He will always be our God for ever and ever!

I suppose you could say that Alzheimer’s disease, or any form of dementia, are incomprehensible illnesses that put you in unfamiliar conditions. Dementia is one of life’s treacherous trials requiring a guide who is both knowledgeable and experienced to lead the way through the least treacherous route. God has been my guide long before my diagnosis of Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. He makes things happen, opens doors, and directs me along the path I need to follow. I don’t often understand every turn we take but I just try to follow my guide because He knows the best way.

If you are struggling with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or some other serious situation or illness and feel like you’re in unfamiliar terrain, allow God to be your guide. He’s walked many travelers down this same path and He knows the easiest route for you to take. Trust Him, listen to Him, and follow Him. He is your God forever and ever and He wants to be your guide to the very end.

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Sing to the King of Kings

Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise. Psalm 47:6-7

I generally strive to be an appreciative, positive, and praiseful person. Even in the midst of all that is going on in my life because of Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, there is always something good which brings me to praise God. However, I must admit that I have days when I struggle to praise God. This generally happens toward the end of a long string of “foggy days” of confusion. I’m usually worn down and wondering when the fog will break and clearer thinking will prevail. At this point, all my usual methods to maintain my praiseful attitude have been exhausted.

When this happens, I am often reminded of Paul and Silas in prison with their feet in stocks in the inner cell. This must have been a miserable situation and what did they do? Acts records the following, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them (16:25).” If Paul and Silas can sing praises to God while in stocks, then surely I can sing praises in the fog as well. So I find some praiseful music on YouTube or a good Christian CD and start singing. This always lifts my spirits as I sing the familiar words and allow my mind to forget about my foggy predicament.

There is just something special about singing praises to the King of Kings that lift the spirits of those who sing. Perhaps this is what the Psalmist had in mind when he wrote today’s passage which may have inspired Paul and Silas to sing while locked in their stocks. Lifting your voice in praise to the King of all the earth is the right thing to do; especially when you don’t feel like doing it!

If you are struggling today from the daily grind of dealing with dementia, stop and sing a favorite hymn, psalm, or praise song. Sing it out loud and it makes no difference if you are off key or not! It will be music to the King of King’s ears and it will lift your spirits as well.

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