Shine On

Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly. Psalm 102:1-2

Psalm 102 is a serendipitously special Psalm. You see, most Bibles preface this Psalm with the following words:

A prayer of an afflicted man. When he is faint and pours out his lament before the Lord.

There are times in our lives when we must each deal with affliction whether it be Alzheimer’s disease, another form of dementia, cancer, Muscular Dystrophy, Cerebral Palsy, or heart disease just to name a few. These are dark and difficult times as we wrestle with God over our affliction.

Today’s passage from Psalm 102 could easily be our prayer! We wonder if God hears our prayers or just hides His face during our distress. We need help and answers immediately but God does not always respond according to our “immediate” desires. Sometimes we must persevere and shine on with hope through the dark and difficult days. As believers, our firm faith, our committed confidence, our heavenly hope, our steadfast strength, our resilient resolve, and our tenacious trust must be unshakeable during difficult times. Why? Because God is with us and His grace is always more than sufficient!

You see, it is in the darkest night that the stars shine their brightest. In our darkest, dreariest, and most difficult days we are to shine like stars as we hold out the word of life (our faith) for current and future generations. God has certainly not turned his face from us. Instead, He has provided us with all the strength we need to serve Him and shine on in a manner worthy of the Gospel.

As you deal with your dark and difficult days, by all means pray. Cry your heart out to God if needed. But in the end pray with boldness that God will provide you strength, sustain you, provide you solace, and shelter you so that you might be a beacon of light. God is with you, He loves you, and He will never forsake you. So shine on today!

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The Lord Is Faithful

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:4-5

Today’s passage reminds me that God’s love endures forever and His faithfulness continues through all generations. In other words, God’s love and faithfulness are eternal. As I struggle with the daily demands of Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, I remain thankful for all the good things God has done and will continue to do in my life. How can I be so bold as to make this statement? It’s simple. If God has been faithful in the past, then He will be faithful in the future just like today’s passage proclaims.

Therefore, if God is faithful then we should be thankful! Being thankful is a choice. No matter what your circumstances may be, there is always something to be thankful about. If you are struggling today because of the demands dementia places on your daily living, focus on something to be thankful about and then praise God for His goodness in your life. You will feel better, you will draw closer to God, you will begin to comprehend His faithfulness, and God will bless you with His love, mercy, and grace. Always remember, God has been faithful in the past, God is faithful today, and God will be faithful in the future.

The Lord is good and his love endures forever! His faithfulness continues through all generations. Let us praise His name today!

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He Is Holy

Great is the Lord in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations. Let them praise your great and awesome name – he is holy. Psalm 99:2-3

I suppose you could say that I am a morning person who always looks forward to the start of a new day. Every morning is a chance to start anew, wait on an anticipated blessing from the Lord, delight in the marvels of God’s creation, or enjoy the fellowship of other Christians. Every sunrise marks an opportunity to seize the day so God can be exalted in my life, family, community, and country. It all starts with the dawn of a new day and the eagerness, the thirst, and the hunger to be still before the Lord and praise Him. There is no better way to start each new day!

Perhaps this is the message the Psalmist was trying to convey in the 99th Psalm. Since God is supreme, sovereign, holy, mighty, enthroned in heaven, Lord over all nations, just, and righteous, then He is worthy of all our praise. In spite of anything happen in our lives or on this earth, God alone is sovereign. He directs all things and He works all things according to His will, not ours.

Take time this morning to quietly read the 99th Psalm and spend some time mediating on the words you’ve read. Spend a few moments praising Him for His great works in your life, for the many blessings He has bestowed upon you, for the plans He has for your life, and for His protection. Thank Him for the forgiveness of your sins and the right to be called a child of God. He is God Almighty, He is holy, He is awesome, and He is worthy of all our praise. If you will do these few things, your day will go unbelievably better and be filled with the joy that only comes from knowing God is in complete control.

It truly won’t matter if you have Alzheimer’s disease because you will be basking in the warmth, comfort, and safety of your Heavenly Father! He alone understands everything you are going through. He alone wants to be your guide along the unfamiliar Alzheimer’s path. He is the only one who can provide the hope you need to continue forward. So be still before Him today and praise Him for He is Holy!

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Free to Sing to the Lord

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. Psalm 98:1

As we approach the weekend, I must admit that I absolutely love Sunday mornings! Even though I’m retired and no longer go to work Monday thru Saturday, Sunday mornings remain special to me. Why? Because of the joyful anticipation of going to church to study and worship with my faithful friends in Christ. There we read Scripture together, recite familiar covenantal oaths, hear marvelous messages about remaining rooted in Christ, and, of course, sing songs of praise and glory to our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son.

Congregational worship is a special gift that should always be anticipated with joy. Why? Because, like today’s passage from the psalm declares, God has done marvelous things in our lives! His right hand and holy arm have provided salvation, safety, security, stability, sustainment, solace, and shelter for all His children. Now that is something truly worth singing about!

Besides, worship is the place where I feel free from Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. I don’t have to think about what to say when words escape me, my prayers are uttered in spiritual silence, and all the words of worship are set before me. All I have to do is read, think, or sing them from deep within my heart. If I mess up, the sounds of the congregation cover my misguided mistakes which seem to happen more frequently now. Nonetheless, through the worship experience, I am free to praise God!

Worship is blessed, priceless, and delightful even if you are struggling with Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia. Attend it and look forward to it as often as you can for you will be blessed! God does marvelous things still today and one of them is through the worship services of His beloved church. Whatever you do, don’t let the demands of dementia keep you from worshipping your Heavenly Father. You see, there is freedom in worship so go and sing to the Lord!

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Good and Simple Things

Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart. Psalm 97:11

I love going outside to lock up the chickens here at the Hornback Homestead in the coolness of the evening, especially when there isn’t a cloud in the sky. The thousands of stars light up the night sky and I am overwhelmed by the beauty of this awe inspiring sight. As I take in the night sky, joy floods my soul as I graciously thank the God of Creation who miraculously created this spectacular sight.

In spite of living with Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, my heart is filled with the joy of God’s grace in my life. Because of His grace and goodness, the simple things always bring me the greatest joy. Reading the Psalms, studying the Scriptures, walking outdoors, working in the gardens, playing with my dogs, sipping a hot cup of coffee on a cool morning, snuggling on the couch with my wife, serving the Lord in some capacity, and praising God for all He has done in my life are just a few things that warm my heart and bring me joy. I don’t need to travel to far off exotic places, own fancy sports cars, dress in fine tailored clothing, live in a mansion, dine in the finest restaurants, or belong to the best country clubs. No, it’s the simple things of life that bring the joy God intended.

And when joy fills my heart, thankfulness naturally follows forth from it. Thankfulness for a God who directs my life in a manner that brings contentment and comfort. Besides, wasn’t it the Apostle Paul that reminded us, “Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Therefore, as we remain rooted in our Lord, not focusing on our disease, then we should naturally be gushing over with thankfulness because of His great goodness!

As you go about your day today, thank God for the good and simple things in life that bring you great joy. If you journal, write about it so you can refer to it later in life. If not, make a list and refer to it as often as you can. Even with dementia, there are many things to be enjoyed, especially your relationship with Christ. Read His Word, treasure His Scriptures, and spend time talking with Him each day so you might stay rooted in Him. If you can do this, joy will continue to fill your heart.

Like today’s passage says, God sheds light and joy on the righteous. Therefore, let us shed thankfulness upon Him!

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Declare His Marvelous Deeds

Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. Psalm 96:3

We recently received a new pastor at our United Methodist Church. He came from a small congregation in Eastern Kentucky and he is a wonderful, down to earth man of God. One of the things he has added into our worship service is an opportunity for anyone in the congregation to declare what marvelous deeds God has done in their life this past week. It is truly amazing to hear how God touches the lives of people I know.

This has become a highlight of worship for me because I love to hear how God has moved in our congregation. Sometimes these stories are quite dramatic and it is always reassuring to hear that God still does marvelous deeds for ordinary men and women. Today’s passage from the Psalms reminds us that we are to declare His glory and His marvelous deeds among all people and all nations.

You see, people need to hear that God is still God and He still works in marvelous ways. Even though I struggle with Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, I still witness God’s wonderful works and His marvelous deeds in my life. That is why I write these devotions so that others may know that God’s love, grace, and mercy still flow even after a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

In my travels, I have met so many others who are afflicted with this disease and continue to do the same. They share how they are still functioning well in spite of dementia and give credit to God for their victories. If you are dealing with the daily demands of dementia, I urge you to share your successes and remember to give God the glory. He continues to help me and I know He will do the same in your life. So declare His glory today and tell of His marvelous deeds in your life!

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The Good Shepherd

For he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Psalm 95:7

A flock of sheep can be pretty skittish at times to say the least. In my younger years, I raised a few head of sheep and they were always prone to being spooked. At the sound of a loud noise or the sight of an intruder, they would take off running and literally run into the line fence, the side of the stock barn, or even a nearby tree trunk before stopping. I’d have to quietly walk after them, bring some ground feed or cracked corn for them to eat, and speak gently and reassuring to calm them down.

I was by no means a perfect shepherd but the sheep soon became accustomed to my voice as well as my presence. Being located near the flock gave them comfort, protection, and assurance that all was going to be okay. I suppose we are a lot like those skittish sheep I raised. We also get skittish and spooked when something unusual, unnerving, or unfamiliar happens in our lives; like a diagnosis of Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. These words from a doctor can literally send you frantically running in fear. Fortunately, we have a Good Shepherd who can calm us down if we will only listen for His reassuring voice. In fact, today’s Psalm passage reminds us that as Christians we are people of God’s pasture, part of the faithful flock under His compassionate care.

Does this mean we won’t get sick? Absolutely not. But it does mean that God will continue to care for us because we belong to His flock. If you are struggling today because of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, don’t try running frantically away from your problem. Instead, accept the fact that you have dementia difficulties, seek God’s heavenly help, be still and listen for His voice, stay attuned to His Word, and trust that He will compassionately care for you in spite of your disease.

God has always been my shepherd, especially over the nearly eight years of my battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He has always been present in my life, always watchful, always caring, and always comforting. So fear not and always trust in Him. Why? Because He loves you dearly. Remember, if you are part of God’s flock, you will always be under the care of the Good Shepherd!

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The Lord Is Watching

For the Lord will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance. Psalm 94:14

A few years ago, I remember watching a touching news story about Lauren Hill, a 19 year old freshman who had an inoperable brain tumor that would eventually terminate her life. Lauren’s goal was to play one collegiate level basketball game in spite of her terminal illness. She finally got the chance to play that game and scored four unbelievable points for her team. Coach Pat Summitt, who died in 2016 from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, even presented her with the U.S. Basketball Writers Association’s Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award during the game’s half time ceremonies. Both Lauren and Coach Summitt are an incredible inspiration for anyone who is struggling with a terminal illness.

During the game, when Lauren scored her points, the stands ignited and the opposing team cried with tears of joy and amazement. Everyone was blessed by her courage and her determination to move forward in spite of insurmountable odds. As I watched the news story and read the many news articles following that incredible game, I couldn’t help but think, “This is what happens in heaven when Christians continue forward in service to the Lord in the face of insurmountable difficulties, terminal illnesses, or unheard of suffering.” You see, the Lord does not reject His people nor does He ever forsake them. He is always with them providing encouragement, strength, grace, and mercy for their seemingly difficult and daunting tasks. Even His angels, although many times unseen, are helping them and cheering them on.

God’s grace is all around us no matter what our personal circumstances may be. So often we see with earthly eyes but if we could only look with spiritual eyes, we would see so much more. It would not only encourage us to press on toward the goal (to quote the Apostle Paul) but to be thankful for God’s incredible gift, HIS GRACE!

If you are struggling today because of the demands of dementia or any other serious situation, don’t you dare give up! You are not alone for God is with you and your fight is His fight. He loves you more than you can possibly imagine and He will never forsake you just because of your situation. God will always remember you and He will see you through your storm. Remember, the Lord is watching so continue to press on toward the goal which is Christ Jesus!

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He Reigns

The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and is armed with strength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity. Psalm 93:1-2

Psalm 93 is a stunning declaration of the divine sovereignty of our Lord. In other words, the Lord is God alone and He reigns from up above! He has always existed and will continue to exist for infinitum. He reigns over heaven and earth, He will forever exert His will, and He exercises His rule over everything. God reigns! Not man, not politicians, not foreign governments, not other false deities, not random fate, not circumstances, not illnesses, not Satan, and certainly not earthly ideas. Only God reigns on high and because of that He deserves all our praise!

Sometimes we have to hear these words with our whole heart to fully comprehend that God is in complete control of all things. No matter what is happening in our lives, God is robed in majesty and He reigns for all eternity. This is a foundational truth of all Christian theology and it is the reason I place my trust in Him. In fact, we actually declare this when we repeat the Apostle’s Creed each Sunday and say, “I Believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth.”

This foundational truth helps me deal with the daily demands of dementia. Why? Because I know that God’s love for me is eternal, He is always working toward the good for me, and His grace is more than sufficient for all I am going through. He is my Heavenly Father and I trust in Him in spite of all that is going on in my life with this disease.

If you are struggling today because of the demands of dementia, keep in mind that God still reigns over all things. He reigns over the universe, earth, nature, all nations, history, future events, and the destinies of men. Therefore, He reigns over you as well. Turn to Him today and seek His counsel. Ask for His help, His comfort, and His compassion. Remember, He loves you dearly and He will never forsake you because He is a just and righteous God. So praise Him today for He is the Lord who reigns for all eternity!

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Bearing Fruit

They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” Psalm 92:14-15

Today’s passage from the Psalms reminds us that as children of God we can still bear fruit even in our old age. In other words, as we grow older we can continue to serve God and exalt Him. Why? Because God is upright, He is our rock, and He is righteous with no wickedness in Him. In order to continue to serve and exalt God, our hearts must be right and pure.

King David was a man after God’s own heart so he knew how important a man’s heart was to the Lord. Serving God with wholehearted devotion and a willing mind was an absolute necessity for David to live a godly life filled with wisdom and goodness. King David’s love for the Lord stands as a model for all of us. God wants us to love and serve Him with this same zeal and spirit.

So how does this impact us as we deal with Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease? It simply means we must continue to serve the Lord in the midst of our storm. We don’t blame God for what has happened. Instead, we graciously ask Him to use us as He chooses according to our abilities.

When we do this, our relationship with God will be strengthened as we draw closer to Him because of our illness. You see, God still remains Lord of our lives and nothing changes that fact. As we continue to seek Him, serve Him, and love Him, we can continue to bear fruit. Being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia won’t change this one iota! Why? Because His Holy Word declares it. So bear fruit today and proclaim the goodness of the Lord for Christ is counting on you.

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