Keep His Word Near

But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming. Romans 10:8

In today’s passage the Apostle Paul reminds the saints in Rome that the Word is near to them. It is in their hearts and in their mouths. Why is this truth so important in the life of a Christian? Because there is awesome power in God’s Word. Power to calm, power to comfort, and power to sustain. As such, the Word must always be within our hearts and near to our eyes.

Anyone struggling with the impacts of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease understands how easily fear and anxiety can overshadow the foggy days that often accompany this disease. To temper the fear and anxiousness accompanying these “not so good” days, I slow my pace down, stay at home, relax outside, talk with the Lord, and read my favorite passages from the Psalms. There is something wonderful about the calming affect the Psalms have on an anxious spirit. Perhaps this is why the Psalms were written so we might enjoy comfort during difficult and trying times.

Because of the calming power of the Psalms, part of God’s Holy Word, I have many of my favorite Psalms posted all around the Hornback Homestead. They are tacked to big cedar trees in the fencerows, attached to fence posts, nailed to the barn walls, screwed onto plank fence rails, and even hung on the main light post that lights the driveway at night. I have them posted everywhere so that when I walk or work around the homestead, God’s calming Word is always near. It helps keep me focused on what’s important and reminds me God is ever present in my life.

One particular passage sticks in my mind, “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect (Psalm 18:30–32).” Because His Word is flawless and His way is perfect, then I have nothing to fear from this disease. I know His promises prevail, He makes my path perfect, He shields me from all harm, and His strength is sufficient for all I face in life.

His Psalms are comforting, His promises are perfect, and His Holy Spirit always helps me during the difficult days. That is why I keep His Word near to me, why I have it on my heart, and why it echoes in mind. The calming power of His Word makes living with this disease so much easier.

If you are struggling with the daily demands of dementia, always remember, His Word is flawless and His way is perfect. Life is so much better with His help! So keep His word near and never let it fade from your sight, heart, or mind.

Posted in God's Word | Leave a comment

God Is Made Plain to Us

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. Romans 1:18-19

One of my favorite devotional books is My Utmost for His Highest written by Oswald Chambers who was an early twentieth-century Scottish Baptist and Holiness Movement evangelist and teacher. Oswald died in 1917 from complications of appendicitis surgery because he resisted going to the hospital for he felt the beds were needed for the wounded from the third battle of Gaza. His devotional words inspire me daily to live my faith in a manner worthy of the gospel.

Oswald wrote these words under the heading, “Is Your Ability to See God blinded?”

If we are children of god, we have a tremendous treasure in nature and will realize that it is holy and sacred. We will see God reaching out to us in every wind that blows, every sunrise and sunset, every cloud in the sky, every flower that blooms, and every leaf that fades.

In other words, God is all around us and therefore His presence is visible in all creation. Because of this, God is made plain to everyone whether they choose to accept God or not. This is what the Apostle Paul was reminding the saints in Rome in the beginning of his letter of revelation of righteousness to them.

Since my diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, I must confess that I can spiritually see God reaching out to me in every living thing as I walk or work around the Hornback Homestead. He is present in the spring flowers that are beginning to sprout from the ground, the new buds starting to form in the trees, the greening of the brown grass as the soil warms, the raindrops that fall during the near spring storms, the amazing sunrises and sunsets that cascade across the horizon, the crisp, clear stars adorning the night sky, and the wild animals that frequently pass through the homestead. God created it all and His glory is revealed in His creation to this day. How could I possibly miss His presence unless I’m more worried about my disease than my relationship with Him?

God is made plain to me and I enjoy fellowship with Him every day in spite of my dealings with this disease. Perhaps this is one of the deeper meanings in what the Apostle Paul wrote to the saints in Rome. No matter how difficult life can be, God is plain to see if you will look with spiritual eyes and not allow your circumstances to blind you. God never hides and He longs for deeper fellowship with each of us.

Therefore, open your eyes and see Him reaching out to you today. Stay connected to Him and “your ability to see God will never be blinded” by any circumstance, not even Alzheimer’s disease!

Posted in In His Presence | Leave a comment

Suffering Produces Perseverance

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. Romans 5:3-4

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. As a concentration camp inmate, he discovered the importance of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most brutal ones, and thus, a reason to continue living in spite of all the evil surrounding him. Viktor Frankl later wrote about the patients he served after the Holocaust and declared, “I would say that our patients never really despair because of any suffering in itself! Instead, their despair stems in each instance from a doubt as to whether suffering is meaningful. Man is ready and willing to shoulder any suffering as soon and as long as he can see a meaning in it.”

In today’s passage, the Apostle Paul must have provided the genesis for the words of Viktor Frankl. Paul reminds his brothers and sisters in Rome that he and his fellow servants of Christ rejoice in their suffering because this suffering has real purpose! Paul explains that suffering leads to perseverance in the life of a follower of Christ. Furthermore, he proclaims that suffering produced perseverance builds character but not just any kind of character. It builds strong, moral, godly, fruit-filled, and spirit enhanced character. Character which God can use to touch the lives of others who are unsaved, sick, or suffering. Of course, Paul doesn’t stop with character. Paul reminds us that character develops hope and it is this hope that reinforces the love of Christ in our hearts through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Now perseverance is one of those words we love to read about but don’t necessarily want to live out. Since my diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, I have come to understand more about living with perseverance. I no longer struggle with the concept of persevering because I know it produces godly character and hope as I deal with the demands of this disease under the watchful care and gracious compassion of Christ. In fact, Christ is using this disease to bring new purpose into my life – a purpose to help others struggling with the disease and to raise awareness about all that needs to be done to bring an end to Alzheimer’s disease.

I am reminded of what the author of Hebrews wrote so long ago, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1).” So I “throw off everything that hinders” me and I “run with perseverance” the new race laid out before me as I try to do all I can in the fight against this disease.

Are my faith and trust in the Lord being put to the test? Most certainly! But with God’s help, I press on with perseverance, character, and hope. How about you?

Posted in Perseverance | Leave a comment

Patient and Hopeful through Prayer

But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:25

One of the things I enjoying doing is talking with other folks living with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. I do this through the support groups, memory café, and other venues provided by the Alzheimer’s Association. I find the kindred spirit of others who are living with the disease and dealing with similar issues a great way to connect, share, and support each other. I still remember the wonderful words of a very dear and wise lady who expressed how she liked to be called a patient instead of someone with Alzheimer’s disease. She liked the term “patient” because, and I quote, “a person with Alzheimer’s has to become extraordinarily patient with themselves to not become a crazy empty shell.”

Her words certainly hit close to home as we face the life changing impacts of the early to mid-stages of Alzheimer’s disease. I personally have to fight the tendency to throw in the towel and become a crazy empty shell as well. To do this, I remain physically active, pursue mental activities, stay rooted in the Scriptures, pray daily, and continue to serve others with this disease as well as my Lord. By doing this, my zest for life remains as I fulfill a godly purpose in my life.

In today’s passage, the Apostle Paul reminds his brothers and sisters in Christ to wait patiently for the hope they do not yet have. This is prudent advice for those of us dealing with Alzheimer’s disease because we desperately need to be hopeful while remaining patient in affliction. This may seem difficult considering all we face but Paul prepares us for this situation by instructing us to remain faithful in Christ. We do this through the grace of prayer which proves to be the catalyst for joy, peace, patience, and perseverance.

In spite of all that Alzheimer’s disease brings into our lives, it should never push out our prayer time and conversation with the Lord. Why? Because prayer keeps us centered on Christ, sets our priorities for the day, fills us with patience, gives us hope, and allows us to focus on the concerns of others by interceding for them in spite of our own situation. It is the wisdom and focus of prayer that brings new purpose into my life.

Perhaps becoming a prayer warrior is truly the purpose God intended for your life at this particular point in time. Besides, prayer promotes patience, peace, and perseverance. Prayer is so powerful it makes me feel somewhat normal again and part of something so great even Alzheimer’s disease can’t destroy it!

Being patient and hopeful through prayer is what keeps me from becoming a crazy empty shell of a person! How about you?

Posted in Prayer | Leave a comment

Righteousness and Peacefulness

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:20–21

The Apostle Paul spends a little time in the beginning of his letter to the church at Rome by addressing the righteousness and divinity of God incarnate. He reminds them God’s wrath is real and God will not force them, or anyone, to worship or obey Him. Instead, if they desire to be sinful, God will give them over to their sinful desires if they reject the salvation provided to them through His Son Jesus Christ.

Paul explains in today’s passage that God’s divine nature and eternal power are evident in His creation. There is no excuse for men to miss out on His powerful presence and perfect peace. Paul postulates we are to give glory to God and remember to thank Him for all He has done that gives us life. This is absolutely essential if we are to find peace in our lives in spite of any unpleasant earthly circumstances we might be enduring.

Peace is the byproduct for those who live in a right standing with God which we call righteousness. It reminds me of what the Prophet Isaiah wrote so long ago, “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest (Isaiah 32:17-18).” As we live righteous lives, peacefulness will be the fruit that flourishes forever in and around us.

As you struggle with the daily demands of Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to remember who God is and His absolute divine nature. This has helped me understand the big picture of what God is doing in my life, how He plans to use my condition to glorify Him, and how He continues to allow peace to flow freely within me. I know this may sound “Pollyanna” to non-Christians but it enables me to continue forward in the good fight knowing He is in complete control, His eternal power is absolute, and His divine nature encompasses even my illness.

In spite of my living with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, I will continue to glorify His name and thank Him for the bountiful blessings He continues to bestow in my life. Can you do that or will you be like the majority of the Romans at the time of Paul’s letter and ignore His holiness, eternal power, perfect peace, and divine nature?

Therefore, when in Rome, or anywhere else, act like the Apostle Paul. Glorify God, live in righteousness, and enjoy the fruit of peacefulness!

Posted in Peacefulness, Righteousness | Leave a comment

Present Sufferings

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

A few years ago, before my son headed of on the missionary field, he had rotator cuff shoulder surgery. He convalesced at our home and we pampered him back to health. While he stayed with us we attended worship service at the small church he attends which is about 15 miles from our house. One particular service stood out because the pastor spoke on a message that penetrated my heart. The entire service was wonderful but what I enjoyed most was the sermon. It had been many years since I’ve been challenged theologically and spiritually by a sermon. The message centered on suffering as described in Romans 8:18-25. The pastor’s sermon lasted almost 45 minutes but I took copious notes making the time go by quickly.

I continue to chew on the meat of this message especially when I read today’s passage from Romans. Being challenged spiritually by a sermon on suffering is what I need since I’m struggling with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. I suppose you could say that my present suffering is this early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and I often forget to take a spiritual look at my illness. Sure it places significant daily demands on my life, but these are truly, as Paul says, not worth comparing to the future glory God has in store for me!

Perhaps you are wrestling with a similar spiritual struggle in your life as well. Then maybe today’s passage will help reminds you it’s time to get off the milk of easy Scripture and start chewing on the solid food Paul is referencing. If you’re ready, read Romans 8:18-25 and chew on the meat of this thought-provoking Scripture for a while. Perhaps, like me, you’ll come to understand your present sufferings are minimal, mere birthing pains, when you consider the future glory God has in store for those who wait patiently for their reward. It reminds me of what the Prophet Isaiah wrote, “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31).”

Is this a hard message to digest? Absolutely! Paul certainly doesn’t sugar coat his words when it comes to waiting and suffering. However, Paul goes on in verse 26 to remind us how the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness (our suffering) by praying and interceding for us in groans words cannot express. As we wait and hope in the Lord, His Spirit will help us run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint as we persevere through our present sufferings.

Posted in Patience | Leave a comment

Encouragement of the Scriptures

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

Today’s passage was written by the Apostle Paul to remind the early Christians in the church in Rome to be an encouragement to others, to stand unified under the gospel of Christ, and to glorify God with one heart and mouth. Of course, all this would be made possible through the encouragement of the Scriptures which were written under the holy inspiration of God to teach, give hope, and enable them to endure all types of trials and tribulations while living out the Gospel of Christ.

As I read through the Bible and especially this letter to the Romans, I keep Paul’s inspirational words in mind so I don’t miss the encouragement God has made available for me as well. Often the daily demands of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease can literally grind your hope away, especially on the “not so good” days when fogginess engulfs your life. When these days take their toll, you need a source of hope and encouragement that speaks to you personally.

My source of strength comes from His word. It amazes me how anything written so long ago could possibly give hope and encouragement during my current battles with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. However, today’s passage reinforces the fact that everything written in the Scriptures does provide encouragement and hope to those who read it. Hope that God is with you, the promise that He has a plan for you, and the encouragement knowing He will never forsake you.

I miraculously find God speaking directly to me as He brings me words of love, hope, and encouragement. If you struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, seek encouragement, hope, and love in God’s holy word today. You won’t be disappointed!

Posted in Encouragement | Leave a comment

Devoted Servants of God

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:9–10

After my diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, a member of my church was an incredible source of encouragement and strength for me. This man had endured tremendous hardship in his life that initially made him bitter and tarnished during his early years as a young man, husband, and father. But through the overwhelming power of Christ, he matured into a godly man who used his past hardships, struggles, and illnesses to demonstrate the awesome power of Christ in his life.

This magnificent man has since passed away but his memory is etched in my mind forever. Men like these are true treasures in the life of any congregation and especially in the lives of the servants they touch. They are magnificent messengers of a gracious God who provides encouragement, strength and hope to anyone enduring the trials and struggles life often dishes out.

When I was initially diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, this man not only prayed continuously for me but also started watching out for me, monitoring my manual labor at church so I didn’t overdo it, and standing up for me when others commented about my declining performance brought on by the disease. In today’s passage, Paul purposely reminds us to be devoted to one another in brotherly love as we honor one another above ourselves. By doing this, we allow God to use us to show His love to a hurting world that urgently needs His caring touch and compassion.

In my case, God used my dear friend to assist me as I continued to serve, lovingly stand up for me, and impart His love and concern for my wellbeing. As you struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, rest assured God has already sent servants to assist you in your battles. Of course, these servants come in many different forms. They may be doctors, nurses, friends, family members, or aides. When they appear, remember they are devoted brothers and sisters in Christ who share God’s love for you with sincere and compassionate hearts!

Of course, God does require something in return. We are to be devoted to others in brotherly love as well. Even though we struggle with the daily demands of dementia, we can still be heartfelt servants to others who are struggling by allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to flow through us and pour out compassion, kindness, love, patience, peace, and goodness to those around us.

Posted in Service | Leave a comment

More than Conquerors

As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:36–37

I recently returned from the February board meeting of the Alzheimer’s Association’s National Board of Directors. This particular meeting was especially fulfilling since the board approved its Strategic Plan for 2019-2021. This plan has magnificent and compassionate goals for the Association which include doubling the amount of money spent on research for a cure, improving care and support for those living with the disease, extending the Association’s reach into communities to administer programs to patients and caregivers, and continuing to press federal and state legislatures to improve care, fund research, and make Alzheimer’s disease a priority in their annual plans.

I am always encouraged by the spirit of compassion, confidence, commitment, and courage of the national board members and the staff of the Alzheimer’s Association as they face the, as yet, undefeated giant of Alzheimer’s disease. They are truly more than conquerors because they are committed to never giving up in the fight against this disease. They continue to strive to find innovative ways to open up new research venues, fund young researchers, and seek a new, dynamic treatment and a final cure for this disease. They inspire me to continue forward in my daily battles as I serve on the board to provide a voice for the more than 5 million Americans living with this disease.

In today’s passage, Paul reminds us that we are all more than conquerors when we serve our Lord and stand firm in fulfilling the purpose He has laid at our feet. We do this by the power of the Holy Spirit who grants us courage, commitment, and confidence to press on toward the goal in spite of the insurmountable odds many of us face. Even though we may suffer from this disease, we can still be people with purpose – a purpose to bring an end to Alzheimer’s disease.

If you are dealing with some form of dementia, I pray you will be more than a conqueror as well. Do something positive to help in fight against this disease. Join a support group, become involved in The Longest Day campaign, start a Walk to End Alzheimer’s team, become an advocate, attend the Advocacy Forum in Washington, write your congressional leaders to seek additional funding and support for research and care for those living with the disease, or give to the Alzheimer’s Association to help them in the fight against this disease (alz.org).

We can all be more than conquerors and together we can bring an end to Alzheimer’s disease!

Posted in Service | Leave a comment

I Am Not Afraid

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.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Romans 8:15–16

Today’s passage from Romans reminds us we are all children of God and we can cry aloud, “Abba, Father” anytime we are afraid. Because we are sons and daughters of the living God, just like his beloved Son Christ, we no longer have to be a slave to fear. Perhaps you have been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or are already struggling in the early to mid-stage of this disease. Maybe you’re afraid of what lies ahead as your memory, reasoning skills, and decision abilities fade. There is no need to be afraid because your adopted Father will watch out for you because you are His child. Just remain courageous in Christ.

I love what the author, artist, and professional speaker Mary Anne Radmacher wrote about courage when she claimed, “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” And that is exactly what you do when dealing with the daily demands of dementia! You remind yourself that if today was not a “good day” you will simply try again tomorrow. There is no need to fear. When you are no longer a slave to fear, then courage fills your spirit. It reminds me of what the Apostle Paul wrote to his beloved friend Timothy, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (fear), but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).

I can testify our Father has made me fearless of the future, sent His angels to watch over me, and comforts me in ways simple words alone cannot express. Even though I struggle with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, I am not afraid for God is with me providing comfort, strength, courage, and purpose. As I continue to serve Him in some manner, He assures me all will be well and I have nothing to be afraid of for He will never forsake me.

If you’re afraid, simply cry out, “Abba, Father” and His peace will permeate your spirit. Don’t live your life as a slave to fear! The Holy Spirit reminds all God’s children that they are co-heirs with Christ. Was Christ ever afraid? Absolutely not! And since His spirit lives with each of us, we should not be afraid either.

I am not afraid! How about you?

Posted in Fear | Leave a comment