Jesus in a Wheelchair

“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:37-40

Part of my meditation last week was on Jesus’ words describing His second coming to establish His glory.

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory,
and all the holy angels with him,
then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:”
Matthew 25:41

The nations shall be gathered before Him and He will separate the sheep from the goats. Those who ministered to others in His name will be honored with Him.

As I thought of the coming glory of our Lord, I remembered those to whom I have ministered in the past. My heart was warmed and quickened from twenty-five years ago in the three weeks I cared for my mother and dad when he was dying of cancer.

Then there were the times through the years of caring for four of our granddaughters.

At the same time, Mother was living with Jerry and me, enduring Alzheimer’s disease.

In 2006, a month after she died, Jerry had emergency surgery and the month after, His leg was amputated.

He recovered from a heart attack almost three years ago but has not walked in over two years due to problems with diabetes.

Wheelchairs are familiar to our family. Because these events happened after the Lord gave me a new heart and spirit ~ a new life in Christ ~ in 1992, my life has been consecrated to Him through my devotion to my family and others in need.

Tears sometimes flow from the joy of knowing all these years ~ especially the last thirteen ~ have been in my ministry to the needs of others as “unto the Lord.” He has always been as close as my immediate family, in our church family, and our neighborhood.

Endurance is experienced as we are ministering in His name. It is in His strength that we live unto Him and for His glory.

This joy of service in His kingdom here is but a taste of the eternal kingdom that is to come. There is no greater life here than living to serve Him and others.

“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand,
Come, ye blessed of my Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you
from the foundation of the world:”

Matthew 25:34

Gracious Father, we praise you for giving us eternal life in Jesus Christ, your dear Son. We thank you for the indwelling of your Holy Spirit ~ the Spirit of Christ, our Lord. No words or actions can pay for the precious gifts and blessings you bestow upon us as your children. Reveal your love, joy, and peace through us as we minister to others by your grace and for your glory.  In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Related Publication: TWO FULL PLATES ~ Learning to be a Caregiver

Endear and Endure

Hereby perceive we the love of God,
because he laid down his life for us:
and we ought to lay down our lives
for the brethren.”

1 John 3:16

If the Lord brings us to the heights of Christianity ~ Beyond a Mere Christianity ~ it will be according to the truth that the apostle writes here. What keeps us from reaching this height? It must be that we fail to perceive the love of God, who, in Christ, laid down his life for us. To perceive is to see with a spiritual reality ~ beyond our physical sight ~ how much He loves us and how He proved His love. We will look in depth in two other chapters at how His great love begins to work in the hearts of His children, but for this one we are led to write of those who, with time and experience of HIs grace, know the presence and power of the Holy Spirit of Christ working His own nature and disposition through them in relationship with others.

Several years ago, with a new birth (John 3:3), there was no real understanding of the difference He would make in my life. Baptism at the age of eleven did not change my heart; self-centeredness was still my nature. Years later, it was God’s Holy Spirit speaking through His Holy Word when He gave me a new heart and spirit (Ezekiel 36:26) that I longed for the life of Christ within me. Repentance and faith was a work of His goodness and mercy in me (Romans 2:4); the effect of His Spirit in the new heart and spirit within me.

Everything changed on that beautiful day in 1992 when He brought me to Himself, so that I never looked back.

He endeared Himself to me, speaking through the written Word and His Spirit so that I could see Him as the loving Creator and Redeemer that He is. Since then, He has been an ever-present guide and protector of my mind, heart and spirit. He has endured with me through all the trials and adversities we have encountered. The more affliction we experience, the more of His love and care are ministered by His Holy Spirit and the more we are able to see and care for others. We continue to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). We could speak of many trials we have endured, but time and space do not permit here. We have published eight books that witness of His presence and teachings.

Most and best of all is how He endears Himself through us to others. At present we are formatting One Month to Live ~ A Father’s Last Words, the story of God’s abundant grace as we cared for my dad during the last three weeks of his life.

Never would I have known that being a caregiver for my dad, for grandchildren, for my mother with dementia and  for Jerry the last twelve years would have prepared me to practice this endearment. We, together, have learned to see the needs of others; to pray for them; to reach out to any that the Lord shows us. We don’t have to look far. Within our own family, and our church family, there are many who need encouragement. Just a word of support and hope is enough for most. These are the closest to us and the ones with which we have developed lasting relationships. In Prayer and In Touch is our email prayer ministry, whereby we stay in touch as we pray for others.

We are enabled to see the needs of others when we go for appointments. We may never see some of these again, but the Lord knows what they need. A smile, a “thank you,” a word of greeting or a short conversation can leave a lasting impression to the glory of our Lord.

It is those who are the closest whose needs we know and with whom we endure through their difficulties, sharing the promises of God’s Word, praying for special needs, taking a meal, etc. Whatever is needful, the Lord provides through us, His people.

We encourage those who are continually experiencing the hardships of this life to see others in need and pray with the desire to know how you can help them. Focus on the Lord and His will in how we can care for others greatly changes how we see our own needs. It is good therapy for the soul to count others in greater need than ourselves.

Is this what John meant in 1 John 3:16? What does it mean to lay down our lives? I believe it means that we first give ourselves to the Lord as the apostle Paul speaks in 2 Corinthians 8:5. I have TWO FULL PLATES, but this does not keep me from seeing others in their needs, praying and reaching out when the Lord leads. He always provides more room on our plates for others, and gives the extra strength that we need and extra servings pf joy.

We are, by His mercy to us, called to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to serve Him and others (Romans 12:1-2).

He endured all the wrath and punishment for our sins, so that we as His people would be united in our love for Him and one another; to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:1-2).

Jesus now and forever endears Himself to us, and endures with us as our Lord and High Priest. It is when we endear ourselves to each other and endure with one another that we are stronger. As we are united in Christ, members of one body, we stand against the enemy with great power. His Spirit is revealed through those who “in lowliness of mind esteem others better than themselves; who look not on his own things, but on the things of others.” Philippians 2:3-4

Father in heaven, open our eyes and hearts. Draw us heavenward to receive your humility, grace and love that extends to others ~ for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen
~ Fran
The following is from Philippians 2:5-11. Have This Mind is the title of an album of Scripture Tunes recorded in the last twenty-five years.

Power and Mercy

Power without mercy is like
a locomotive without brakes.

It destroys everything in its path;

And eventually destroys itself.

Power With Mercy
Power with mercy brings things together, unites, and bears the fruit of its own working. Such was the purpose of the coming of Jesus Christ, to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8); to restore what His Father had created in their image.

All God’s creatures have power ~ power that was given when He created the first man. It is a latent power in each of us. How we use it depends on who harnesses it. Jesus Christ gives the Holy Spirit to those who believe in and follow Him so as to turn the power within us by His grace, to live in Him, and through Him. The fruit of His grace through us is mercy toward others, even those who continue under the power of the enemy.

Paul prayed for the first Christians:
“that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, (are) being rooted and grounded in love.” Ephesians 1:16-17

being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:11-14

Dear Father in heaven, as you watch your creatures here on earth, please have mercy upon us. Rend the heavens and come down; as the melting fire burneth, make your name known among the adversaries. Fill us with your Spirit of grace; unite us as your children that we may be light in this darkness. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Breakthrough

In February, Jerry and I were waiting in the podiatrist’s exam room for him to have his foot x-rayed. So as to encourage him, I said, “There is light at the end of the tunnel.”

His response was, “Are you sure it is not a locomotive?”

I said, gently, “Yes, I am sure.”

There was no definite meaning, nor explanation for my words, just sharing the spirit of God’s grace as we have experienced His presence through all our difficulties in the past.

The nurse wheeled him out, leaving me alone with my own thoughts in the cold, tiny room.

The still, small voice to which I have become accustomed in quiet times, asked, “Am I your God?’

Humbly, I answered, “Yes, Lord.”

“Then, trust Me.”

As simple as that, without audible conversation, I knew that however long this new episode would last, the Lord was assuring me of His presence and power with us.

Six Months Later
We have waited, as in times past, for healing, not only for treatment for the diabetic ulcer that podiatrists started in February, but for tests and an eventual stent for an aneurysm in his leg in April, to allow blood flow to the foot. Added to this was another wound from that incision

In July this wound closed after treatment with a wound vac. The same treatment did not work for the foot. This was their last resort after trying provadine, skin grafts, collagen, and foot baths. So, they sent us to the wound healing center thirty minutes away.

In this first visit last week, they took a culture that showed MRSA, a staph infection, for which they prescribed clindamycin. Yesterday, for our second visit, we were encouraged with the wound half the size as last week. The wound specialist believes this to be the reason for lack of healing, assuring us of complete healing soon.

At the outset of this sore, the primary care physician prescribed two rounds of antibiotics, but he, nor the podiatrist did a culture. There were no visible signs of infection while under the care of the podiatrist.

We are not resentful that they did not do a culture, but glad that it was done last week, believing that all things are revealed and healed in God’s timing.

Hidden Infection
This all reminds me of how things can be hidden. Just as we all carry the infection of sin within us, not knowing that we need healing, it manifests itself in different ways. Relationships are broken, families are torn apart, life can be emotionally and physically unhealthy because of hidden sin.

It is when we come to the only one who can do a culture for us that we know our sin, and accept the prescription, believing that He is able to bring total healing.

Jesus Christ came to earth as the Great Physician over 2000 years ago, He was, and still is, our breakthrough.

Gracious Father in heaven, we praise you for all things; for Christ, your Son, whom you sent to reveal our sin and to heal broken lives. We thank you for wisdom given to men to solve physical problems and to provide healing, believing that all healing is from you, for your glory and for the purpose of our serving you, living in praise and thanksgiving for your mercy, your grace, your goodness and power in our hearts and lives. Thank you for the encouragement that Jerry might soon be able to wear his prosthesis, and that we will be able to worship with your people again. We ask for your healing for others who are ill, in need of physical and spiritual healing. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Christ in the Heart of a Caregiver

Today marks our fifty-sixth anniversary. If you knew how we started, and what we had to work through, you would wonder how we made it this far. Had it not been for the Lord Jesus Christ, I would not be here, and being a servant to my husband would not have been an option. During this last valley we have been going through, the question has been asked, “If you knew what you know now, would you have married Jerry?”

I was honest in answering, “No, I don’t think I would.” My vision of marriage was like most other twenty-two-year-olds. He was the man I wanted to spend my whole life with, but no thoughts of ill health for either of us was in my mind. I was selfish then, and had I known, I would not have committed to such a marriage that would require being a servant for the rest of my life.

The True Meaning of Life
Years of learning the true meaning of life brought me through different stages of serving others, then to the point eleven years ago, with his amputation, to the reality that I would be Jerry’s caregiver for the remainder of his life.

It was before then that the Lord changed my heart and my life, so that I would be willing and ready to give my life to serve Jerry, “as unto the Lord.”

Unless the Lord brought me to this place, I would never have known the joy of being His servant.

With this said, I want to share how our Lord Jesus Christ dwells in my heart, strengthens and supplies all our needs “according to His riches in glory.”

Promises From God’s Word
References are from Colossians 1:27; Ephesians 3:16-17; and Colossians 1:11.

“To them (His saints, His people) God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27

This is the means of our hope ~ Christ living within, in whom is all our hope for now and for eternity.

“that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—…” Ephesians 3:16-17

This is my life. Two main areas of service are Jerry, first, and then, Home. Everything else falls into the category of Other.

Christ is the center of all, shouldering all for me that Jerry needs.  He is our strength and shield.

Under the Almighty arms of Jesus are all we need for the care of our home. And according to His will working in us, we are enabled to care for the other things. Some of these may be ongoing; others may be on the spur of the moment. Except for posts on this blog, writing was put on hold this year. According to His will, and in His timing we will continue publishing our books.

When asked, “How do you do what you do, joyfully?”  ~ Joy and praise are part of a life of thanksgiving for all that Christ has done for us. Sacrifice for Jerry and others is the only reasonable response.

Gracious Father, thank you for this opportunity to witness of your grace in a world that seeks its own desires. We praise you for choosing the role of servant and caregiver for me and making it a joyful experience. Thank you for the fruitful years that you have provided for Jerry, for me and our family. We praise you for your continued wisdom, strength and grace for the days ahead. We never know where you will lead us, but we are assured of your presence, even as you have always dealt bountifully with me. Thank you for Christ, your Son, who lives within us, and in whom we live, as we dwell in the secret place of the most high, abiding under the shadow of the Almighty. Keep me humble in HimIn Jesus’ name we thank you and praise you. Amen,

images: Google

After the Storm ~ Peace

Jerry and I are just coming through another one. Though still not where we hope to be (Jerry has not walked since January), as we wait for a reasonable recovery, we are resting in the will of the Lord where we are now.

We have been through many storms such as these, and expect that we may go through others before we get to the end of this life.

He has proven that storms are good for us (Romans 8;28-29).

They take us away from our home base.
They scatter our hopes for anything in this world.
They bring us in touch with people we have never known, some who have been hit worse than we have.
Through these times, He gives us hope and encouragement for others we meet, and find others whose hope is in Him.

We experience the Lord’s presence like no other time in our lives.

Just as Jesus’ disciples looked to Him and He spoke to the storm, He is with us through it and speaks peace to it in His exact timing.

Peace is never as real and powerful as when He brings us through.

Our love for Him is never stronger than when He endures with us.

Our joy is never greater; our faith never deeper planted in Him than through these times.

The sun is never brighter than when we come to a resting place in Him.

Our faith increases during these times.

Endurance, hope, strength, grace, and wisdom grow through these adversities.

The doors of heaven are opened for us, beyond our circumstances, to see the One who created us and redeemed us for Himself, so as to keep us by His power for eternity with Him.
The peace of our Lord is promised to all who endure the storms of this life for a life beyond this one.
He does not allow us to be overcome, but enables us to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

Gracious heavenly Father, we give you thanks for your grace, power and presence with us during the storms of life. You have always been faithful to keep us through all our circumstances, no matter how difficult they seem. There are many who are struggling. Please be with these; guide them and give them peace. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Related post: God is Greater Than

images: google

The Patience That Leads to Contentment

The title for this post came as Jerry and I waited for the nurse to bring his discharge papers late last Monday afternoon.
He was admitted as an outpatient early Wednesday morning and discharged as an inpatient late Monday afternoon.
Wednesday, we waited two hours before they took him to have a stent inserted in an aneurysm in his right leg.
After the procedure, we waited while they applied pressure to stop the bleeding where a sheaf was used to insert the stent. He had to stay overnight to be sure there would be no more bleeding.
Thursday, we waited for the results of an ultrasound that showed the artery had not sealed and for the news that Jerry would need major surgery to seal the artery.
Then we waited for the results of an EKG and ultrasound of his heart to determine if he could endure the surgery.
Friday, we waited for the outcome of the surgery.
Saturday and Sunday, we stayed while a wound vac was used to suction drainage from the four-inch incision.
Monday we waited until the vascular surgeon removed the wound vac.
Now at home, we both wait for Jerry’s healing and our strength to return, so that we may continue to serve Him.
We have indeed experienced many blessings everyday, as the Lord continues to show us His mercy and grace. It is in these difficult times that He continues to grow us in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Before I began this post early this morning, my thoughts were centered in how to describe the true Christian life. The words, faithful, obedient, and steadfast, were a few that came to mind. Patience is not always the first that we think of, but if we look to the last book of God’s Word, in Revelation 13:10 and 14:12 (KJV) these both speak of “the patience of the saints.” The English Standard Version translates patience as endurance.
“If anyone is to be taken captive,
to captivity he goes;
if anyone is to be slain with the sword,
with the sword must he be slain.
Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.”
When I think of waiting in the circumstances of this life, it in no way compares to the terms of “taken captive” or “slain with the sword.”
In Revelation 14:12-13 we find again the word endurance related to faithfulness and faith of the saints in Jesus.
“Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”
It is amazing what the Lord does during our times of adversity. Waiting is linked to patiently enduring whatever He has planned for us, working all things for our good, as He has predestined us to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-29) even as He is faithful to us in all that He is and does.
Three main thoughts came during those six days in the hospital (this is our third visit since it opened three years ago):
God, our Father, is always faithful, even when we are not. He promises to complete the work He has begun in us.
Blessings are hidden in the places we would rather avoid.
We mature when we endure.
Contentment was the only sense that I experienced as we waited for Jerry’s discharge papers Monday afternoon, the fruit of the Lord’s working in my heart during those six days.
Dear Father, we thank you for continuing to fill us with your grace, wrapped in your glory, so that you will not fail to bring us through this life in Christ, even as you are preparing us for your eternal glory. We praise you that you never fail, able always to hold us, strengthen, and grow us as your children. Fill us with your Spirit today and through us, witness to others of your goodness. In Jesus’ name we thank you and praise you. Amen.