God Has Friends in Low Places

I was sitting in the backyard listening to an audiobook and getting a much-needed dose of vitamin D. Two mockingbirds were darting back and forth just a few feet in front of me. They began making so much noise that it was becoming difficult to hear my audiobook. I knew that they had a nearby nest and were only trying to protect their young from a potential threat. Apparently, mockingbirds don’t understand that a paralyzed guy in a wheelchair doesn’t pose a threat. I wouldn’t have harmed them even if I had the ability because Atticus Finch said that it was a sin to kill a mockingbird.

Then I saw two beautiful bluebirds sitting side by side on the lowest limb of the large live oak tree. These two little birds were just minding their own business. Like me, they seemed to be doing their best to ignore the noise and the antics of the paranoid mockingbirds. Every five minutes or so, one of the bluebirds would fly over to an old birdhouse. Mary’s been meaning to replace that birdhouse because the wood is rotting. After observing this for over an hour, Mary came out and told me that the bluebirds have a nest in that dilapidated old birdhouse.

I thought there must be a severe birdhouse shortage in our area for these bluebirds to have chosen this run-down dwelling to build a nest. It was then that I had somewhat of a revelation about the beautiful and Holy taking up residence in dwellings that are far beneath them. Jesus was born in a smelly stable. There might have been a pair of bluebirds nesting in that stable. The Holy Spirit resides in the followers of Christ:

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

I’ve met some rough-looking followers of Christ over the years. Many of Christ’s most fervent followers were once prostitutes, alcoholics, drug addicts, gang members, murderers, on and on the list goes. And then there’s me… Regardless of how we might look on the outside, we’re all broken down “birdhouses” on the inside. As the Bible says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).

Yet, this sinless Jesus will put His Spirit in all that ask Him to. Wow!

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Jesus was born in a place that most homeless people would have avoided. But, Even if Jesus would have been born in the most magnificent palace on earth, it would have been far beneath Him. It’s as if God chose the lowest of places to emphasize this. Yes, that’s it exactly.

The disciples were grief-stricken after Jesus explained to them that He would have to die. He comforted them with there words: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17)

The night before the crucifixion of Jesus, Peter cowered before a small group of slaves, denying three times that he even knew Jesus. Weeks later, after being filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter stood before a crowd of thousands of powerful Jewish leaders, likely some of the people who condemned Jesus. Peter boldly declared that Jesus is Lord. Then he told them to “Be saved from this perverse generation!” (Acts 2:40). I think saying things like that was politically incorrect even in that day. I wonder what he’d say today. Regardless of what he said, his message was effective, and “about three thousand souls” committed to following Christ that day.

Years later, after being arrested by the Romans, Peter was told that he would be crucified if he didn’t renounce Jesus. Contemporary sources write that he refused to renounce Jesus. He told them that he didn’t feel worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord and Savior. Instead, he asked to be crucified upside down. They granted his request.

It’s been two thousand years since Peter’s crucifixion. Many have been executed for refusing to deny Jesus. In the face of death, many others renounced Jesus and lived.

What choice would you make if put in this position?

By definition, a true follower of Christ is someone who has the Spirit of God living inside of them. I still think it will be a difficult choice, but if the Holy Spirit is in you, you will say no to this life and yes to eternal life.

“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11)

Having God’s Spirit living inside of us gives us Unshakable Hope.

Rewritten from a post five years ago.

Advocates for Bill and Terri ~ A Spiritual Exercise

This follow-up to a previous post, Words of Life ~ ADVOCATE, is a means to share how the Lord has been working in my heart the last few days, and to ask you to join me for a life-changing experience.

The Lord brought Bill and Terri into my life several months ago. Bill lives in the southwestern part of the USA and Terri in the eastern region. They have become advocates for each other.

As they have shared how God is working in their lives, I have become an advocate for them before the throne of grace.

If you know Bill and Terri, you can skip this part and go to the exercise. But it may be a good thing to review who and where they are.

Bill and Terri each live in a physical state of paralysis. Their conditions are similar but different in how they operate in that state. They are mindful of their circumstances and have learned to function and communicate with others in a gift of clarity most of us do not have. They are each a special gift to us who know them.

Bill
Bill, diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) over twenty years ago, has been preserved long past the average two-to-five year expectancy. The Lord has done a miraculous work in Bill for a witness of the Unshakable Hope he has in Christ. With Mary, his wife and principal advocate, Bill lives at home, functioning with modern equipment that moves him from and into his bed and chair. He writes with his eyes with a computer designed for this purpose. For his blog and book project, Bill is filled with the Spirit of God, influencing and encouraging people throughout the world to know and trust their lives to Christ. His hope is not in himself or anything of this world but only in the promises of eternity when he will have full use of his body and faculties to praise and serve the Lord.

Even though ALS has drastically changed my life and that of my wife and our two daughters, I don’t believe anyone should allow a disease or any life-challenge to define who we are.

To do so is to give that challenge more credit than it deserves and is the first step on a dead-end road of hopelessness.

This trial has taught us that the only way to experience genuine and consistent hope, peace, and joy in the middle of a trial is to view our lives and situations through God’s eyes. For me, learning this was a long and difficult process—but a rewarding one; an ongoing process that will continue until the day I go to be with the Lord.

Terri
Terri, from a fall in her kitchen, has been a quadriplegic since 2013, She is single and dependent on medical staff in a nursing facility. She, too, is a witness for Christ, and attends her church for worship. Terri has siblings and church family who are advocates in the capacity of which they are able. She uses some of the same equipment as Bill and by her voice, communicates through her computer. In these six years, dealing with other medical issues, she has spent time in ICU and been moved to other facilities which upset any rhythm in her life, causing depression and anxiety. From one of her blog posts, I quote the following.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5

No matter how frustrated, disgusted, or depressed, I get about being a quadriplegic, I know I’m where I am meant to be. I don’t have to understand why this happened. I only need to acknowledge that God is sovereign, loving, and good. And he doesn’t make mistakes.

Bill and Terri’s readers continue to encourage and support them. The greatest encouragement comes from Bill and Terri to us when we read what the Lord is doing in them.

A SPIRITUAL EXERCISE AS AN ADVOCATE

We cannot, as advocates for Bill and Terri, appeal with the strength of the medical equipment they need. Those things are already provided for them. The idea and the means for advocacy on their part is for the spiritual strength and grace they need to endure and triumph as witnesses for Christ as they are bound, imprisoned in their bodies.

They are teaching us what the world is like ~ paralyzed ~ and in need of a heavenly outpouring of the Spirit to move in His people.

Here is where we can be a part of an awakening in the body of Christ.

For the last few days, the Lord has uniquely led me to pray and intercede. At first, the thought was only for Bill and Terri. Then the blessings came for me, my family, my church, and the whole church worldwide.

Three things will come as a result of this exercise.

1. Bill and Terri will be strengthened in their witness of Christ.
2. We and other Christians will be strengthened in our witness for Christ.
3. God, our Father and our Lord, Jesus Christ will be glorified.

This exercise began when I awoke. I lay still as if paralyzed like Bill and Terri. Quietly I waited, arms at my sides, imagining their immovability; then, remembering Psalm 46:10 ~

Be still, and know that I am God,

I again waited ~ motionless.

Stillness is not easy in a world that is spiritually paralyzed. The body does not want this stillness and will not succumb to it except by His Spirit.

“I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”

This exercise is an excellent means to realize that every breath is by His Spirit and through Christ alone.

The Spirit then moved me to the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Our whole of living moment by moment, day by day, is for this purpose. He wants us to know Him as our Father. Through us, He is exalted, honored, and His name hallowed in this world.

This prayer and this thought of His overall sovereignty and exaltation led me to ask for an outpouring of His Holy Spirit from His throne of grace to fill me and enable me to pray in the Spirit for power as an advocate for Bill and Terri.

From the Holy Spirit’s leading, then came the request for the Spirit’s filling for them. I prayed for the continual work in their lives to overcome in the battle against weariness, discouragement, uncertainty, depression, and anxiety. Among other requests, I prayed for the Lord’s filling and leading for Bill to finish his book.

There was a third request for the filling of the Spirit for His people everywhere. (You need facial tissue for this exercise.)

I went to the next petition, which the paralyzed body of Christ needs ~ asking for His kingdom to come in power by His Spirit, and His will to be done in the hearts and lives of His people everywhere.

“God hath made with me an everlasting covenant |
ordered in all things and sure,
this is all my salvation and all my desire.”
2 Samuel 23:5

Even as with David, this everlasting covenant revealed and fulfilled in Jesus Christ, is God’s means to establish His kingdom’s rule here on earth and His will to be operative in the hearts and lives of His people.

It is by His divine power that we destroy strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bring every thought captive in obedience to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Before getting up to start my day, I finished petitions for which I usually ask. I asked for the Spirit to raise me and His people everywhere for the work He has for us to do ~ to be the moving witnesses Bill and Terri encourage us to be.

These are only the beginnings of what I have experienced in this new intercession.

During the day, this exercise can be done anywhere and anytime you can lie down, or even sit quietly and still ~ as you desire the Holy Spirit’s filling and moving in your heart and spirit for you, Bill, Terri, all who are ill or physically handicapped, and especially for the moving of God’s Spirit.

Teach your children and do this as a family exercise. Let this exercise displace some of the time you usually spend with your devices. Set your timers and stop and pray throughout the day.

If possible and you feel led, continue this exercise for a week. We may post some of the responses and address any concerns next week.

Advocates for Bill and Terri could become a movement in this world to bring an awareness of the need for God’s Spirit for all people. Let us share this need and call others to join this exercise of intercession for His glory.

Since getting to know Bill, and Terri, through her blog, emails, and my phone conversation with her, Jerry appreciates his wheelchair, and the use of his one leg though he has not been able to walk for over two years. It is amazing how your life can change when you are aware of the more significant needs of others.

Please share this with your Christian friends even as you become an advocate for Christ’s sake.

Gracious Father in heaven, Whom have we in heaven but thee and there is none on earth we desire beside thee. Draw your people to this intercession with understanding and the Spirit. Fill us and enable us to pray in the power and intercession of the Holy Spirit and Christ, our High Priest, who sits at your right hand calling us to Him, for thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, forever. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran