Be Not Quiet, O God

O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still. Psalm 83:1

I still remember what it felt like to receive the dreaded diagnosis of Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. After nearly 15 months of testing, scans, blood work, and countless trips to the neurologist, I received the diagnosis which left me feeling helpless, lost, and hopeless. I cried out to God seeking His help and wondering why He didn’t respond immediately. Like today’s passage states, I wanted God to not keep silent, to not be quiet, and to not be still.

I suppose, in my earthly senses, I thought God just wasn’t responding. Of course, nothing could have been further from the truth. God wasn’t still, He wasn’t quiet, and He wasn’t silent. Just because I couldn’t hear Him didn’t mean He wasn’t talking and taking action. The truth be told, He was busy preparing the perfect path I needed to follow and working to get my attention to follow it. His plan included:

  • Getting me connected with the Alzheimer’s Association
  • Getting me enrolled in a clinical trial
  • Guiding me to a great psychologist to have someone to talk with
  • Helping me retire early from a very stressful job which would make my journey with this disease so easier
  • Preparing me to give up driving when I could no longer safely drive
  • Teaching me to be content at home
  • Giving me purpose for my life with this disease.

As you can see, God was not still after my diagnosis nor was He silent. He was actively preparing my perfect path and teaching me to trust in Him.

Perhaps you are struggling with your diagnosis of dementia and wondering if God is just being silent, quiet, and still. Well trust me when I say, He isn’t! He hears your plea for help and is reaching out to you. All you need do is trust in Him and seek His perfect plan for your life with this disease. Somehow, He will prepare that perfect path and work to get you on it. All you need do is be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).

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My Defender

Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Psalm 82:3-4

Our little Methodist church does a food pantry every month for folks in our county who need a little extra food to make it through the month. We distribute canned food, dry boxed food, frozen meat, bread, drinks, fresh fruit and vegetables, and other staples. Every family gets at least two bags and a box full of groceries. It is humbling to see so many people in our community who need additional help just to make it through the month.

I have never known real lasting hunger, never experienced dire need, never lived below the poverty level, never been fatherless as a child, never had my unalienable rights removed, never suffered under the horrid hand of the wicked, and never been oppressed by the circumstances of this world or its economy. However, I have seen people in each of these categories and I’ve always tried to help out. Today’s Psalm passage is a prophetic prayer for people in these pathetic positions in life. As Christians, we are called to help people in need and to pray for God to move in their lives.

Although I’ve never experienced these stressful situations, I have experienced weakness, frailty, and vulnerability that stems from living with Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. As such, I spend much time in prayer asking God to help me through these conditions when they raise their ugly heads. God has been good and provides me power for times of weakness, strength for times of frailty, and protection when I feel vulnerable. His grace surrounds me and I am overwhelmed by His goodness. That is why I serve Him, why I help others in need, and why I praise Him so much.

If you are feeling weak, frail, or vulnerable today because of the impacts of dementia, spend some time in prayer asking God to bring you power, strength, and protection for your daily struggles. He longs to be your stronghold, your shelter, and your security for all you face. Remember, He loves you dearly and He is the defender of the weak!

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Restore Us, O Lord

Restore us, O Lord God Almighty; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved. 80:19

A few weeks ago, it was pretty dry in our neck of the woods. The grass was crying out for refreshment, the flowers in my gardens were wilting, and the pond had dropped almost a foot since the last rainfall. The Hornback Homestead was in dire need of a refreshing rain shower to restore nature’s beautiful green hue to the landscape. Thankfully we got a much needed period of rain that restored everything.

Just like a period of dry weather, our lives can become spiritually arid as well. This was the case for Israel after they had been ravaged by foreign oppressors. Psalm 80 is Asaph’s plea for God Almighty to restore His people’s spirit, to make His face shine upon them once again, and to save them from defeat. Now this prayer not only covered physical, national, and economic restoration but also spiritual restoration. He prayed for renewed devotion, revitalized spirits, rekindled passion, and restored loyalty to God Almighty.

Sometimes the struggles of dealing with the daily demands of dementia break us down. We become physically expended, mentally exhausted, and spiritually expired. When this happens, we desperately need restored devotion to God, rekindled passion for the fight, and revitalized spirits to continue forward. God is the only one who can author the revival we so desperately need.

If you are struggling today because dementia has worn you down, use today’s Psalm passage as your prayer for restoration. Only God alone understands your plight and stands ready to revitalize your spirit. All you need do is ask and it shall be given to you. Turn to Him today and His face will shine upon you and you will be restored!

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Generation to Generation

Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise your forever from generation to generation we will recount your praise. 79:13

The church I have attended for the past 30 years, Hodgenville United Methodist Church, celebrated its 175th Anniversary a few years ago. I found it quite amazing that over 175 years ago, God’s people decided to form a little Methodist Church in the community where Abraham Lincoln was born. Over multiple generations, a small segment of the sheep of God’s pasture praised and worshipped His Holy Name in our little church. Were there good times? Absolutely! Were there difficult times? Absolutely! Were there times of harmony? Absolutely! Were there times of discord? Absolutely! However, the church remained united under the voice of its sweet shepherd, Jesus Christ.

Today’s passage reminds us that as sheep of God’s pasture, we are to forever praise Him from generation to generation. Whether we are living in plenty or in want, whether well fed or hungry, we are to praise our Savior who generously gives us strength to do everything through Him. We do this because we love Him and so future generations will look back at our lives as a living testament of God’s grace.

So how does living with Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease or any form of dementia fit into this scenario? It simply means that in spite of your disease, you must continue to praise God. Why? Because God is still God and He is more than worthy of all your praise no matter what your circumstance.

I continue to praise and worship the Living Lord because my disease is but a temporary state in the full spectrum of God’s timeline. If I cannot praise God because of my current circumstance, what does that say about my faith? What will future generations think about my faith if I let this disease destroy my relationship with my Savior?

If you are struggling today because of some form of dementia, don’t let it impact your faith and trust in the Living Lord. Lean on Him for strength and remain faithful in all things for He will never forsake you. Stand firm, stay faithful, and steadfastly praise Him. If you can do this, then future generations will look back and know you were a strong sheep of His pasture!

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My Rock

They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer. 78:35

I thoroughly love the Dirty Harry movies where Clint Eastwood stars as Detective Harry Callahan. I enjoy them because you always know where Detective Callahan stands when it comes to law enforcement and the apprehension of known criminals. He doesn’t play favorites, politics, or games. He always stands on the side of justice. If you stand on the other side, well you’re just likely to “make his day.” To Dirty Harry, it seems pretty clear what is right and wrong.

In today’s passage from the Psalms, Asaph reminds the people of Israel that God was the Rock and Redeemer of their forefathers. When Israel maintained its covenant relationship with God, He blessed them and gave them success in all their endeavors. However, when they stepped off their Rock by not being faithful to His covenant, God’s anger rose against them. God’s covenant was clear and He didn’t play games or politics with His people. Either stand faithfully on His Rock and life was good or rebelliously step off His Rock and life became dreadfully difficult.

It really isn’t much different today. We either faithfully stand firm on God our Rock, relying on His strength for whatever comes our way, or we don’t. I don’t know about you, but I chose to faithfully stand firm knowing that God is in complete control no matter what the circumstances. You see, having Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t change my faith in God one bit. In fact, it simply reinforces my complete reliance on His perfect power to sustain me. Therefore, I stand firmly on God my Rock and I say to Alzheimer’s disease, “Go ahead, make my day!”

How about you?

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Meditate on God’s Mighty Deeds

I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. Psalm 77:12

Here at the Hornback Homestead, we are blessed with some sensational scenery especially in the fall when the leaves begin to turn. From our front porch there is a spectacular view of rolling hills and wooded areas that simply take your breath away during the autumn season. This sensational scenery stands as a stark reminder of the absolutely amazing handiwork of God when He created earth and my little corner of creation.

Often times, I sit on the front porch and meditate on the wonderful works of God. It is one of my favorite places to sit, drink my morning coffee, read from the Bible, and think about all the great deeds God has done. Today’s passage from the Psalms readily reminds us that we are to meditate on all God’s works and His mighty deeds just like the Psalmist. When we do this, we remember how incredibly awesome our Heavenly Father is in all the universe!

If God was able to create the universe, this earth, and everything on it, then He can surely work wonders through our lives if we will yield to Him. The Apostle Paul put it pretty succinctly when he wrote to the early Ephesian Church, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Even in the midst of my daily struggles with Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, I know God still uses me for good work in His kingdom.

No matter what your struggles may be, God has good work for you to do as well. As you meditate on His great works and mighty deeds each day, He will reveal good works that you can do for His kingdom. This is His plan for our lives and I for one will not let Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease get in the way of His perfect plan!

 

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God’s Good Deeds

I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. Psalm 77:11

A few years ago, while my wife and I were taking our evening stroll in the park near our home, we noticed a very strange sight on the park’s basketball court. A teenage girl, with her back to the backboard, was attempting to lob the basketball over her head and into the basket. Of course, this is not an unusual sight but the unusual thing was the teenage boy who was sitting on the court using his cell phone to video each attempt. The girl must have tried this shot over fifty times but as we neared the court, she miraculously made her basket as the young man captured it on video. I suppose family and friends are enjoying the video of her amazing shooting skill and perhaps her video has gone viral for millions to view as well.

Capturing memorable events by using video, still photography, or the written word are so very important. As Christians, we have an incredible written record of God’s amazing acts: The Holy Bible. In today’s passage, the psalmist declares that he will remember the deeds of the Lord and His miracles from long ago. He does this to fight the devastating depression deep within him as evidenced by his lamenting in the first ten verses of the 77th Psalm.

If you are struggling with the daily demands of dementia, then you’ve probably had some run-ins with depression just like the Psalmist did. I certainly have but when it happens, I remember the deeds of the Lord by reading His Holy Word. When I do this, some special scriptures sooth my soul, encourage me, and bring me peace. One of my favorites is: May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so you that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

This scripture is my prayer for you today as you go about your daily deeds. Hold on to His hope and may the power of the Holy Spirit fill you completely so you may overflow with hope so you might sooth the soul of others.

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Questioning God

Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion? Psalm 77:9

Often times when a diagnosis of dementia is declared, the patient wonders if God has forgotten them, if His mercy is absent, or if He is withholding His compassion. In today’s Psalm passage, Asaph questions God and cries out to Him in the midst of his depression. He too wonders if God has intentionally withheld His compassion and mercy out of anger. Nothing could be further from the truth. God does not use dementia as an arm of His anger toward mankind!

It is during these difficult days prior to and after a diagnosis of dementia that God’s compassion and mercy continue to flow freely. These gracious gifts are there wondrously waiting for us, craving to comfort us, and always available to aide us in the struggles we face. All we must do is seek our Heavenly Father and ask for His help.

Perhaps you are feeling angry with God today. Perhaps you are wondering if God is purposely withholding His mercy and compassion from you. Maybe you even think God is angry with you. I’ve been in the same sinking ship as I wrestled with God over these quirky questions. However, God had not forgotten me nor had He withheld His mercy and compassion. They were always available! All I needed to do was open my heart, confess my struggles, and seek His help. Only then did perfect peace flow freely in my life.

Therefore, seek God today. Ask for His heavenly help. Open your heart for His tender touch. He will comfort you and bring you peace for He is your merciful and compassionate Heavenly Father. Remember, He loves you dearly and He will never forsake you!

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Finding Peace

I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted. Psalm 77:1-2

Prior to my diagnosis of Early Onset Alzheimer’s disease, during the nearly 18 month diagnostic period, I spent many sleepless nights in distress trying to understand what was happening in my life. Like the psalmist in today’s passage, I sought the Lord at night with untiring and outstretched hands. My soul refused to be comforted because I was in limbo with regard to a definitive diagnosis for my troubling situation.

As I look back at that distressing period, I realize God used the time to bring me ever closer to Him as I sought His counsel day and night. God knew exactly what was going on but He needed my full attention and complete trust to help prepare me for what lay ahead. Of course, the diagnosis of Early Onset Alzheimer’s disease finally came and with God’s help, I accepted the diagnosis which allowed me to move from victim to warrior. You see, God heard all my cries for help and He was with me all the way.

Perhaps you are currently engaged in the lengthy diagnostic process or maybe you just recently received a diagnosis of early stage dementia. Either way, God hears your cries for help and understands your distress. Seek Him today and ask for His counsel. He can ease your anxiety by bringing a perfect peace that surpasses all understanding. How do I know this? Because He benevolently brought me that same perfect peace in the midst of my mayhem. I know He can do the same for you!

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Vows to the Lord

Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them; let all the neighboring lands bring gifts to the One to be feared. Psalm 76:11

Matthew Henry, a noted Bible commentator, wrote centuries ago, “As God’s mercies are new every morning toward his people, so his anger is new every morning against the wicked.” The 76th Psalm stands as a testament to this truth about our Heavenly Father. God certainly hates sin to say the least and His holiness requires Christians to have a righteous anger against sin. Therefore as Christians, we vow to try to live sin free lives and when we falter, humbly ask for forgiveness.

In today’s passage, the psalmist reminds us to make our vows to the Lord, fulfill them, and let the neighboring lands know it! Perhaps in today’s world making a vow to the Lord is an uncommon thing. Besides, what kind of vow could someone make that has been diagnosed with Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, another form of dementia, or some serious illness? Well, let me offer some suggestions:

  • To live faithfully in spite of your disease
  • To serve as you are able
  • To attend church regularly to worship God or listen to a church service if you are homebound
  • To continue reading and studying your Bible or have the Bible read aloud if you can no longer read
  • To maintain an active prayer life as you pray for the needs of others
  • To continue to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.

These are but a few vows that can be made even with a diagnosis of early stage dementia or some other illness. I have added another vow to my list which is to write devotions of love and encouragement for as long as God will give me strength, mental capacity, and insight into the scriptures.

God calls each of us to do something for His glory no matter what our circumstances may be. If you are struggling with illness, think of a vow you can fulfill for God. It will give your life purpose, bring you peace, and draw you closer to your Heavenly Father. Who knows, it might even let all the neighboring lands know how truly great your God is!

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