Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why Suffering???

Another year is coming to a close, which tells us we are getting close to the end of another year of treatment.  However, in this completion there is the shadow of February 10, 2011 that approaches, which is the date of our son’s diagnosis.  Another shadow now looms and creates increased anxiety and fear.  It is our daughter Simone’s third birthday in January.  This month and on for the next few years will have an increased anxiety around always wondering what bruises mean on our daughter’s body as it was when Gabriel was three when he was diagnosed.  This anxiety will continue onto our daughter Yasmine.  We fight each day to remain focused on God so that our fear does not disable us.  During this journey there has been an awareness of anger that surfaces during more anxiety prone times when we look at our son who suffers both physically and mentally with cancer treatments.  This anger needs to find its way out and often it turns to God as a question of “WHY?”  My heart has always cried for others that have suffered and wished that I could do more.  During this journey we have become more and more overly aware of the suffering of others in this world.  We know our son is not the only one suffering.  Many of us have questioned the suffering from starvation of children in underdeveloped countries, rape and abuse, murder, such as the Tori Stafford case, natural disasters that have killed and left people homeless.  We see continued pain by people in Haiti, and now they are trying to cope with cholera.  The people that I counsel are hurting and in pain for reasons from sexual abuse, abandonment, marital discord, depression to even wishing to take their own life.   

In the last six weeks before Christmas we have been looking at suffering in our home church.  A topic that most don’t want to touch as it is one that we all struggle to understand especially when children are involved.  We as Christians trust that God has a bigger plan and purpose.  We also know that the suffering in this world is not greater than the pure joy and happiness that will happen when we go to be with Him in heaven.  However, it is still hard and painful here on earth. I try at times to fight off tears during unexpected environmental triggers that remind me of the life that we travel and the past road that I once traveled.  I am thankful to my Father above how far he has brought me.  

Mike and I may feel pain for others who are suffering, but at this time our journey of suffering touches the very vein of our existence.  Our children!  We weep and cry out to our Father in heaven…”please, prevent this pain to our son”…”please, take this all away,” but this journey continues and we continue to seek our heavenly father for peace and strength. 

One of my first blogs I shared a very short message of the suffering being the fault of Satan, and not God.  In the last six weeks I have come to know this message deeper as I have studied with my home church family on suffering.  I thought I would use this blog as an opportunity to share what I has been reinforced for me through these last six weeks.  Just as the pastor asked those listening to lock this in…I, too, ask you to lock this in when reading.  Remember… “GOD LOOKS LIKE JESUS.”  I have always known that, but don’t always remind myself that God has not caused my son to be sick and he is not causing suffering in this world.  I know when our journey comes to an end as long as we stay focused upon our Heavenly Father that He will use this to His glory and all will be better than before.  Satan does not win in the end.  I have to constantly remind myself of God’s enduring love when I awake at night in tears and feel very alone at times.  I have to remind myself of God’s enduring love when my son is hurting.  I have to remind myself of God’s enduring love when I fear for my daughters.  I have to remind myself of God’s enduring love when people think this journey is easy and think our son has just “caught” something as if it is a cold or flu. I have to remind myself on a daily basis of God's love and faithfulness to His word because when I don’t it is when Satan inserts fear and anxiety.  It is this fear and anxiety that cause a paralysis in seeking God.  I am to “trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).”  This journey would be 100% harder without God’s grace and the continued strength that He provides us.  I do not know how others do this journey or any journey of suffering without Him. 

When all is said and done….God will win this battle. 

Remember the reason for CHRISTmas.  It is truly about Jesus Christ who was born that so He could die for our sins.  God has been suffering alongside us and he suffered when His very own son died on the cross for our sins.  There will come a day when all of this suffering comes to an end.  This is God's plan and He will see it through.  I look forward to the day we can rejoice with Him in heaven and see no more pain and suffering. Look to Jesus to know who God is and forever will be.

God’s grace is sufficient for us.  He loves me and He loves you.  Life is more difficult without having Jesus Christ in your life. I know…I have lived a life without God during difficult times in my past that no one should ever have to experience.  I have lived both sides and will no longer live without Him.  I hope you find peace, love and laughter in your life during Christmas and throughout 2011.  Remember, when you spend time with your loved ones that for many people Christmas is a time of sadness.  Christmas time represents pain and isolation.  Please pray for all those that struggle that you know and don’t know. 

I am here for those that need a non-judgemental friend to lean on and an ear to listen.  I love you all as Christ loves you.  I will be that person who will walk alongside you as you question and wonder about Jesus Christ without judgement.  I inspire to embody Jesus in ways that I can and pray that God will continue to mould me to be like Jesus Christ. I am not perfect and will continue to make mistakes.  I hope that as God continues to mould me and teach me that I will continue to forgive and to be forgiven when I make mistakes.  I pray that I can exemplify Christ today and forever.    

Click here to listen to messages on understanding suffering in this world  under the series entitled My God Why?

God Bless you all!

I have copied/pasted a summary of scriptures and some brief points from our last message that was provided by Gregory Boyd who provided our final message on suffering.  In addition, some powerful scriptural quotes and quotes from Gregory Boyd’s published books.   I have also added a compilation of scriptures that was completed by our new dear friend and home church family member Bram that is extremely helpful in studying scriptures about this very topic.  Thank you Bram for sharing this with us all!

I hope that you find this information helpful as you question and wonder about this life.  I wanted to provide a more in-depth blog compared to the one I touched on in the beginning of my blog writing. 

Scripture says Satan is…

“the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

“the principality and power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2)

“the ruler (archon) of this world” (John 12:31; 14:32; 16:11)

“[the one who] controls the entire world” (1 John 5:19)

“[the one who] leads the whole world astray” (Revelation 12:9; 18:23)

“[the one who] holds the power of death – the devil” (Hebrews 2:14)

Romans 8:20-22
We have to be able to say, “An enemy has done this” and stop blaming God for the stuff Satan and demonic powers do. I’m convinced the greatest and most successful trick of the enemy is this….

 He comes and sows seeds and then gets people to blame the farmer

 He comes and sows hell and gets people to blame heaven

 He comes and screws up creation so that it’s filled with earthquakes, mudslides, hurricanes, malaria, cancer… and then says “Look what the Creator brings!”

An Enemy Has Done This!

He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
~Jesus

Satan masquerades as an angel of light.
~The Apostle Paul

“We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”
~The Apostle John

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
~The Apostle Peter

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
~James, the brother of Jesus

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work.
~The Apostle John

“The time of judgment for the world has come, when the prince of this world will be cast out. And when I am lifted up on the cross, I will draw everyone to myself.”
~Jesus

The ultimate source of all evil is found in the will of free agents rather than in God.
~Greg Boyd, from his book “God of the Possible”

“Jesus never once appealed to a mysterious divine will to explain why a person was sick, maimed or deceased, as many Christians today are inclined to do. Rather, in every instance, he came against such things as being the by-products of a creation gone berserk through the evil influence of this satanic army.”
~Gregory A. Boyd, from God at War

“Jesus devoted his ministry to getting these ‘spiritual rapists’ off their victims. He didn’t waste time searching for a hidden divine will behind evil, asking ‘How could God do this?’ or ‘Why would God allow this?’… Jesus ministry was a ministry not of resignation but of revolt.”
~Gregory A. Boyd, from God at War

Compiled by our dear Friend Bram

Characteristics of demons and how Jesus dealt with them
Matthew 12:43-45
“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then is
says, I will return to the house I left. When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in
order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there.
And the final condition of that man is worse that the first.”
  • demons can talk
  • demons can look and observe
  • communicate to other demons, and satan
  • demons can think, make choices, have feelings (see James 2:19)
  • demons have desires, and their own will
James 2:19
“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that- and shudder
Feelings- such as shiver/shudder
Matthew 28:12
“But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
Mark 1:21-28
“They came to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by and evil spirit cried out, What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are- the Holy One of God. Be quiet! Said Jesus sternly. Come out of him! The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, What is this? A new teaching- and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him. News about him spread quickly over the while region of Galilee.”
  • demons know who Jesus is and what will happen to them, they have knowledge.
Mark 1:32-34
“That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon possessed. The whole town
gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who He was.”
  • don’t allow a demon to speak
Mark 1:39
“So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.”
Mark 6:13
“They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.”
Luke 8:27-33
“When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me! For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places. Jesus asked him, What is your name? Legion, he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the abyss. A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into them, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.”
  • demons come from the abyss and don’t like it there (see revelations 9)
  • demons have self knowledge, they have a name
Luke 13:32
“He replied, Go tell that fox, I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day- for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem.”
Luke 4:40-41
“When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his
hands on each one, he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, You are the Son of God! But He rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew He was the Christ.”
Acts 19:11-19
“God did extraordinary miracle through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out. Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day, the evil spirit answered them, Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you? Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had  practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the valued of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.” 
  •  Only as believers can we by the authority given by Jesus, drive out demons. (see mark 16:17)
  • Confession, and renouncing of evil deeds
  • Then the footholds, detestable things of the enemy were destroyed (see also Deuteronomy 7:26)
  • Demons left and people were cured of their diseases
  • Sorcery is demonic and evil
Revelation 9:1-11
"The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star (satan) that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star
was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions (luke 10) of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion (luke 10) when it strikes a man. During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.
The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. Their hair was like women's hair, and their teeth were like lions' teeth. They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. They had tails and stings like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss (satan), whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon (destroyer, satan)."
  • Discription of what a demons looks like
  • satan is king and head off all demons
1 timothy 4 :1
"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things
taught by demons."
  • Demons can “teach” people, deceive them with lies and they will abandon the faith, very important to know who you are in Christ.
  • They will follow false religions and idols for example (see 1 Corinthians 10:19-21)
1 Corinthians 10:19-21
“Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or than an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.”
  • Behind every idol is a demon
  • You cannot serve the lord and be participants with demons
  • God wants us to have no part with demons, stay in his will to be protected
1 John 5:5
“they(demons) are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.”
  • Demons speak the things of the world, not of God and the world listens to them
Healing and Deliverance:
Acts 8:6-7
“When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. So there was great joy in that city.”
  • Healing by deliverance of demons (see also acts 19)
Luke 4:39
“So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.”
Acts 10:38
“How God annointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” 

Jesus defeated all of the enemy
Collossians 2 :15
"And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He(Jesus) made a public spectacle of them(demons, satan)
truimphing over them by the cross.
  • Jesus defeated and disarmed them on the cross
  • By the blood of the lamb that was shed on the cross we can overcome them (see revelation 12)
  • Satan and his demons are disarmed and defeated foe’s
Acts 26:18
to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'
1 John 3:8
"He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason
the son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work."

The authority we have been given by Christ:
Luke 10 :17 -21
“The 72 returned with joy and said, Lord even the demons submit to us in your name. He replied, “I saw satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
  • demons will submit to us as disciples of Christ, in Jesus’ name
  • we have been given all authority and will not be harmed, if we stay in God’s will and not give satan a foothold
  • also we can overcome them with the Blood of Jesus (revelation 9)
Mark 16:17
“And these sings will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons, they will speak in new tongues.”
  • Only believers can drive out demons in the name of Jesus
1John 4:4
"You dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the
one who is in the world."
Matthew 12 :29
"Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off is possesions unless he first ties up the
strong man? Then he can rob his house."
Bind demons, take back what has been stolen from us (see also Luke 11 :21,22)
Collosians 1 :13,14
"For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, i
whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins"
Romans 16 :20
"The God of peace will soon crush satan under your feet."

How to stay protected, and the things God has given us to fight them.
Ephesians 4:27
“And do not give the devil a foothold.”
  • don’t give satan a chance, stay in God’s will
  • cover yourself daily with the blood of Jesus as a hedge of protection to overcome them (see revelations 12)
2 Thessalonians 3:3
“But the lord is faithful and he will strenghten and protect you from the evil one”
Ephesians 6:10-18
The Armor of God
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your
stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against
the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly
realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand
your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."
  • Put on the full armor of God everyday!
  • Need God’s armor to stand against the devils schemes which we are not unaware of. (see 2 corinthians 2 :11)
  • We fight against the rulers, authorities and powers of the dark world, against evil spiritual forcers. Different levels of authority in the demonic realm, some demons are stronger then others and rule over each other having satan as their king. (see revelation 9)
  • Faith is important to stop the enemy’s attacks, use God’s word which is the sword of the spirit. (See Hebrews 4 :12) Fight satan with the truth of God’s word, against all of his lies. (see John 8 :44)
  • Pray hard in the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 10:4
"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to
demolish strongholds."
The weapons that are given to us have divine power to destroy the devil’s strong holds
2 Corinthians 2:11
"In order that satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes."
Deuteronomy 7:26
“Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you like it, will be set apart for destruction. Utterly abhor
and detest it, for it is set apart for destruction.”
  • Stay protected by not giving satan a foothold or bringing anything into your house that has anything to do with the demonic realm, get rid of it! (see acts 19)

Promises :
2 Thesssalonians 2 :3
"But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one."
  • God promises us that he will protect us from the evil one, if we stay in His will
James 4 :7
"Submit yourselves then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

No relationship between God and satan :
2 Corinthians 6 :14b-18
"For what does righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with
darkness ? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial (satan, hebrew meaning-destruction, wickedness, ungodly, evil. New testament meaning, of satan, worthlessness.)? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said : "I will live with them and walk among them and I will be their God and they will be my people" Therefore come out of them and be seperate, says the Lord."
John 8:49
"I am not possesed by a demon," said Jesus, "But I honor my Father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking
glory for my self."
Acts 26 :17b-18
"I(Jesus) am sending you(Paul) to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the
power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me"
James 1 :13
"When Tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he
tempt anyone;"

How do demons enter our lives?
1. Anything to do with the occult or false religions, either by yourself or a family member. Exodus 20:3-5
2 Corinthians 11:3-4
2. Any negative influence before birth, curse, see exodus 20:5
3. Extreme influence during early child hood
4. Emotional reasons- demon of fear, lust, through media for example
5. Sinful habits which become iniquities
6. Laying on of hands 1 timothy 5:22
7. Careless words, Matthew 12:36-37, see also idol words

Idol words and busybodies
1 Timothy 5 :13-15
"Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they
become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to. So I council younger widows
to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. Some have in fact already turned away to follow satan. "
  • Idle words open a door for demons
  • Watch out for careless words, see Matthew 12 :36-37
  • No slander, instead, ephesians 4 :29
Jude 9
"But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, the Lord rebuke you!"
  • Don’t slander at the devil
Test the Spirits
1 John 4:2-3
“This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in
the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist (satan).”
  • Only the Holy Spirit can acknowledge that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh
1 Thessalonians 5:21
“Test everything Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil”

Can a believer be oppressed by a demon?
  • Realize difference between oppressed and possessed(see Luke 8)
  • Oppressed- Katadunasteno 2616- to exercise dominion against- to oppress
  • Possessed- daimonizomal- to be exercised by a demon- have a demon- to be vexed with or possesed by a demon.
Acts 10:38
"How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him."
Acts 10 :38
"And no doubt you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power then Jesus
went around doing good and healing all who wee oppressed by the Devil, for God was with him." (NLT)
Acts 5:3
“Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land.”
  • Ananias was part of a church community(see vs. 11)
  • He was oppressed by satan
Luke 13:11-13,16
“and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then He put his hands son her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”
  • She was a daughter of Abraham, oppressed by an evil spirit
  • She was set free from her oppression and her infirmity
Matthew 16:22-23
“Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never Lord! he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
  • Even the disciple Peter was oppressed by satan, also see Luke 22
Spiritual warfare between the angels of God and demons, and the role of God’s angels for us.
Daniel 10 :13
"But the prince of the Percian kingdom(demon) resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief
princess, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia."
  • Spiritual warfare
  • God’s angels fight against demons
  • This was a strong demon, he ruled over the Percian kingdom
Psalm 92 :11-12
"For He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their
hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone"
  • Angels protect us
Hebrews 1 :14
"Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to those who will inherit salvation"
  • Angels minister to us
Origins of satan and who he is now
Satan- opponent, arch enemy of God, adversary, accuser
Devil- slanderer, liar
Ezekiel 28:13-18
“You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald,
chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub,
for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were
blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your
widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of
God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud
on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the
earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings. By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching.”
  • satan was a cherub (head of music) and arch angel (in command of 1/3 of the angels), he was very important and powerful
  • satan walked before the throne of God
  • satan sinned, and was taken away from the throne of God
Isaiah 14:12-17
"How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne
above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred
mountain. will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit. Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate:
"Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble, the man who made the world a desert,
who overthrew its cities and would not let his captives go home?"
  • lucifer (morning star) has been cast to the earth
  • he wanted to be like God
Revelation 12 :3-4,7-9, 10-11, 17
"Then another sign appeared in heaven : an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven
crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars(angels) out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The
dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. And there was a war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down- that ancient serpent called the devil, or satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say : "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night has been hurled down. They overcame him by the BLOOD OF THE LAMB and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death." Then the dragged was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring- those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus."
  • there was a war in heaven between Michael and his angels and the satan and his angels.
  • satan was thrown out of heaven and cast down to earth taking 1/3 of all the angels with him.
  • satan leads the whole world astray (see 2 corinthians 4 :4)
  • he accuses us
  • satan has been overcome by the blood of Jesus
  • we can overcome satan with the blood of Jesus
  • satan makes war against us (see peter 5 :8,9)
Luke 4:6
“And he (satan) said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I
can give it to anyone I want to.”
  • We had authority over the earth before the fall but satan stole it from us after he deceived us in the garden. Now however all authority has been given back to us and we need to take back what has been stolen from us. (see Luke 10)
  • satan became the ruler of the earth after the fall instead of us (see 2 Corinthians 4:4)
  • see genesis 1:26 which says we as humans were to rule over the earth
1 Peter 5: 7,8
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like roaring lion looking for someone to
devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith because you know that your brothers throughout the world are
undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
  • Seeks to destroy and make war against us, he knows his time is short
2 Thessalonians 2:9,10
"The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance witht the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of
counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They
perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved."
2 Corinthians 11 :3
"But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ."
  • Satan deceives and tries to lead us astray from our devotion to Jesus
1 Chronicles 21:1
"Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel."
2 Corinthians 4:4
“The god (satan) of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that hey cannot see the light of the gospel
of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
John 8:44b
“He (satan) was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he
lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
  • satan attacks with lies, we need to know who we are in Christ and fight him with the truth of God’s word
Zechariah 3:1-4, 7
“Then he showed me Joshua the high pries standing before the angel of the Lord, and satan standing at his right to accuse him. The Lord said to satan, “The Lord rebuke you, satan! The lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.” The angel of the Lord gave this charge to Joshua, “this is what the Lord almighty says: “if you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.”
  • Satan accuses, just like his demons(see revelation 12)
  • Stay in God’s will
Luke 8:12
Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.
  • Satan is the sower of doubt

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Honest Reflections

As I ponder about the last few months a few words come to my mind.  These words are joy, blessings, happiness, sadness, frustration, overwhelming and isolation.  These words convey a mixture of realities for our family.  I am sure we all face similar emotions in our families, but the difference for our reality is that they are all controlled by one facet.  It is the journey of walking hand to hand with your son as he faces a brave walk with cancer.  It is the moments such as observing our children hug and share how much they love each other that bring us joy and happiness.  It is in the moments that my children look to me and tell me I am the best mommy ever and that they love me sooooo much that brings me happiness.  We love the moments we get as a family to run around in our backyard using our imaginations and going for simple walks together to adore and walk in amazement in God’s miraculous creation.  Over the last few months since my last post we had a joyous occasion participating in camp Trillium.  Our children were entertained with our “special friends” whom we appreciated bringing smiles to our children’s faces.  Mike and I had the entire weekend while at camp Trillium to reconnect and spend time together while each of our children were with their “special friend.”  I was reminded once again why I love my husband and fell in love with him 11 years ago.  During one of our evenings together for a walk listening to the sounds of the night and chatting amongst ourselves we happened across another couple.  This couple shares in our love of the Lord and daily walk in faith while their daughter battles cancer.  This couple amazed us at their strength and faith in Jesus Christ and this glow radiated all through them.  We were glad to have met our new found friends and family in Christ.  We look forward to getting to know them more though there is a great kilometres between us.  I am glad for e-mail, phones, facebook and an occasional visit to keep in touch.

Our family was booked for Disney over the thanksgiving weekend, but this trip was soon cancelled after Gabriel spiked a fever.  We were saddened and frustrated that our trip to escape our reality for seven days has now been put on hold.  We were admitted to hospital for four days over thanksgiving weekend.  However, we enjoyed a lavish thanksgiving spread from turkey to amazing desserts.  This meal was generously donated by families who share this journey and volunteers of Childcan.  We thank this organization for sometimes the unrecognized giving you provide to families during a difficult time in our lives.  Our trip will be rescheduled once Gabriel’s counts are stabilized and once most viruses lay dormant so that a plane trip is less infectious.

Gabriel began his first experience of school routines in the world of education when he began senior kindergarten in September at a private school.  We are happy that we chose this school as Gabriel’s class has a total of seven children and no more than 100 children in his school.  The risk for infections is less compared to a larger school, so we are less concerned.  However, there is always a risk when he is in the community around other children, but we trust the Lord to protect him from serious infections.  His school has been extremely supportive and caring.  Gabriel has shown such growth in confidence.  He continues to amaze me as he shows such sensitivity, love, and generosity at such an early age.  His walk with cancer may have robbed him of some of his childhood, but it has not taken away the spirit of gratitude that God continues to teach him.  He is an honourable little boy whom God will have great things for him one day. 
 Gabriel is busy learning to skate and swim on the weekends and Monday evenings.  He loves sports and does bring out his competitiveness.  The process of signing Gabriel up in activities involves the same as we did for school.  It is never an easy process as it takes meetings and letters to all parents.  I am sure many ask why we bother if there is a risk to Gabriel.  My response to this statement is that mental health is just as important as physical health.  I cannot and will not limit Gabriel’s growth.  I want him to experience life.  I don’t want this disease to debilitate his mind.  I want him to have fun and gain confidence in himself.  I don’t want cancer controlling all elements of his life.

Simone is busy participating in swimming and ballet on the weekends.  She loves ballet and calls this her school.  My little girl is gracious, kind and loving.  Simone seeks to ensure that people who are sad are lifted up with a smile, words of encouragement and a hug.  She brings me to tears when I see such innate beauty that can only be a true gift from our heavenly Father.  She teaches me so much at such an early age. 

Yasmine is growing so much.  She is such a content and spirited child.  She loves to seek out her siblings to spend time and laugh with them.  I am excited to see what she continues to become and know that will be of great things because our heavenly Father instills great things.  We are made in His image, which means we can aspire to do great things through Him and for His glory. 


Mike and I have come to know this journey as one that takes an appreciation of the day to day.  There are moments when life is hard, sad and overwhelming and we find that every ounce of us has been drained.  It is those days that anger surfaces and finds its way to each other.  These days tend to align with long days at the hospital for lumbar punctures.  These days are hard as I watch my child be put to sleep knowing he is receiving chemo in his spine to prevent cancer.  Mike and I have come to appreciate that arguing about superficial and inconsequential attributes of life does not matter.  We try to seek compromises to such inevitabilities of life.  This journey has cemented our love and I am blessed for that.  It is not the particular method that I would have liked to have cemented our love, but I try to find the roses amongst the thorns. 

Mike and I sadly made a decision recently to stop attending our church based upon the increased risk to Gabriel.  During our short time back our family has been exposed to hepatitis, shingles, and chicken pox.  Mike and I made the decision to continue instruction at home together as a family.  In addition, Mike and I are looking forward to starting back at our home church.  I am also reminded that everything is in God’s timing.  The first day back to home church for Mike and I begins with the series topic called “suffering and the hard questions of life.”  This topic is the very topic that Mike and I struggle with each day as we walk hand in hand with our son who is fighting cancer.  We are thankful to Grandpa and Grandma Smith for kindly babysitting our children while Mike and I attend.  We thank you for your love and support.

Mike and I share sadness when we think of the friends that we have lost or have withdrawn from us.  This journey has brought much restriction, limitations and has taken a lot of our life.  We know there are friends who have struggled with knowing that a child has cancer, there are others that have not understood when we have had to cancel as a result of this journey and others simply by ignoring the very nature of this disease and just don’t want to acknowledge the journey we are on.  We have always put our family first, but since Gabriel’s diagnosis we have done so even more.  We want to thank those who have stayed by our side even when we could not devote a lot of time and had to cancel.  We value your friendship and we love you all. 

To our families…we love you and thank you for your unconditional love and support.  This journey has been made lighter as a result of your care and ability to leave all your expectations of us behind. 

We have not been able to be all things to all people, but I hope that one day we will be able to be there for you no matter who you are and the differences in the past.  Life is too short to carry burdens, pain and bitterness.  My goal is to continue learning how to emulate Jesus’ love and grace for all people.

Gabriel’s Treatment

Treatment has been frustrating and overwhelming.  Gabriel has been off of chemo four times as a result of viruses and his immune system dropping.  During maintenance counts are to be stabilized.  However, Gabriel’s immune system has been bottoming out and poses a great risk of contracting even the slightest infection.  At this stage we are concerned about infections that pose a threat to his life based upon the difficulty in stabilizing his counts.  A particular reason why his immune system bottoms out is from the high risk protocol during the intensive phase.  Gabriel’s diagnosis with a translocation leukemia chromosome resulted in a high risk protocol that has caused his bone marrow to become tired.  His bone marrow reacts more quickly to chemotherapy and drops his counts after a certain phase of treatment.  Our Oncologists is still testing dosage levels to determine the right amount for Gabriel so that his counts will stabilize.

We continue to walk this journey with faith and love.  We have days where this journey is difficult, but I am reminded that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins.  Jesus underwent much pain so that I and everyone else who chooses him and follows will have eternal life.  I cannot fathom the pain that our heavenly Father was feeling the day his very own son died on the cross.  God realized that through his son’s death our lives can be renewed so that one day we can go to live with Him.   

I would like to end this blog with my thankfulness, prayers and a special poem written by a dear friend, sister-in-Christ and confidant.  Thank you Rosalind. You inspire my soul, give me ears to listen and encourage my heart.  In love always!

Thankfulness
  1. That God is teaching me to appreciate each day for what it brings.
  2. Each of the beauty in my children.
  3. For friends who have stayed by our side when there were many times we could not give in return.
  4. For the unconditional love and support of our family.
  5. That Gabriel and our family was protected from chicken pox, shingles and hepatitis.
  6. For opportunities such as Camp Trillium.
  7. Meeting our family-in-Christ at camp Trillium.

Pray for:
  1. Gabriel to be CURED.
  2. Protection over Gabriel’s organs from potential risks of chemotherapy.
  3. Protection from serious infections and that Gabriel does not spike a fever that causes admittance.
  4. Counts to stabilize.
  5. No brain function damage from chemotherapy.
  6. Strength and peace for Mike and I.
  7. Growth in faith and walk with our heavenly Father.

This poem strikes my very thoughts concerning this journey that I am on as a mom to a child fighting cancer and the fears that I have concerning my other children.  These words touch ever cord and bring tears to my eyes every time I read it.  Beautiful poem Rosalind.

“No Answers Yet”
Mystery remains. Faith is necessary.
I step into that foothold even though a chasm stretches beneath me.
 I see as through a glass darkly. My eyes are dimm. I strain to no avail.
I have to trust, rest, listen to my heart. Listen to Yours. Rest in You.
 Like a seedling, awakening to warmth and light,
I reach towards what is right and good.
Trusting judgement, listening to that steady, still, small voice.
Trusting in goodness. Trusting Your Word
 Conditions, contrasting challenges, dark and light, turmoil and peace, right and wrong,
pain and comfort, injustice and justice, rejection and acceptance, work and rest.
I twist and turn, coiling, reaching upward, weaving through obstacles, grasping at handles.
I dig in deeper for sustenance. Rooting.
 Like a child quieted by a parents gentleness and loving care. I lean in and am held. Quieted.
 Darkness may envelop me but I am not lost.
 For we walk by faith, not by sight." (2Cor 5.7)


Thank you for spending a little time with our family even though it is through my blog. 
Blessings to you all,

Love,

Tina

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Laugh, Love and Joy

Outings and Fun

I am reminded that my children are growing when I look at my pictures over the last few months.  I was told this quote "the days go by slow, but the years go by fast."  I don't think you can truly understand this quote until you have children.  There are days when I am not sure when sleep will come again, but when I look back at how quickly time truly does goes by I am reminded again to slow down as time does slip by fast.  A constant theme in my posts!

We have been enjoying this beautiful weather.  We have done much since my last post in April.  We went to Niagara Falls for a few days in May to stay at Great Wolf Lodge.  We had a blast and was reminiscent of the days before diagnosis.  Gabriel was accompanied by his cousin for this trip, which was so much fun to have him with us.  We have been doing some smaller trips to parks, and playing a lot in our backyard.  Gabriel has been practicing riding his bike that we just purchased this past month.  He seems like such a big boy as I watch him peddle around on the road as we walk.  Simone tends to walk when Gabriel is biking.  She could walk loops around our subdivision.  She seems to have a tremendous amount of energy, which she often reminds me of myself and makes me laugh.  I guess having 50% of my chromosomes may have resulted in something from her mommy.  It will be interesting to see what my three children will become, but right now I continue to teach myself to focus on the gifts that are provided in the moments.  However, one particular area of thought that both Mike and I share pertain to our recent conversation about the future.  This thought was triggered after our niece graduated grade eight.  We realized that this milestone will be significant for many reasons for each of our children.  A particular important attribute for our family is that we know our children have defeated and won this journey of cancer.  Graduations represent a completion to our family in so many different ways that even though I don't want the years to go fast I do look forward to putting this part of our life behind us.  The worries and fear will forever exist, but I am realizing that I must give everything over to our heavenly Father so it does not create a shadow of bitterness and negativity.

We just went camping at Pinery Provincial Park.  The evenings were quite cold, but lots of snuggling did the trick at keeping warm.  We enjoyed a few days together a way from home, but we were quite happy to be back in our cozy beds after two nights of chilly evenings.  We have also been spending lots of time at my mom and dad's trailer at Springlake.  There is so much to do for the kids at the park (splash pad, beach, boating, fishing, sports galore, and driving around in the golf cart).  The trailer park is only 10 minutes from our house, so it is very convenient and encourages relaxing and having fun with our children.

We are looking forward to our Childcan day at Wonderland, Camp Trillium and our trip to Disney World in October.  We also have a cottage weekend planned with Mike's side of the family, which will be fun for the kids.  Our annual Bender camping trip is coming up too!  This has been going for years now and all the children look forward to this time together.  My side (19 people) spend a long weekend at the Pinery.  Our summer seems to be booked with many exciting outings and activities.    

On the Homefront

We have added a clothes line and garden this year, which reinforces my need to be environmentally conscious and protective concerning what chemicals we ingest.  I love that I will be able to pick fresh vegetables.  I also love smelling the fresh air on my clothes and using less electricity to dry my clothes.  When I was in University I was always seeking ways to be an advocate for the environment and human rights issues.  Since I have not been in school my focus has turned to the best that I can provide for my children. I have learned that I can still find ways to meet this passion within the boundaries of my home/property via online and simply small changes to my own life.  I miss getting involved in activities, but in time this too will return.  One area that has returned in my life is the opportunity to go back to work.  After University, I wanted to make sure that my children would always remain first.  I realized I could not do this unless I stayed home full-time.  I chose to work one to two times a week in the evening in private practice providing individual, marriage and family counseling.  I love want I do and knowing that I am helping people with various stages of their lives. I have been back for two months, which has been great to be able to give back by helping others. The changes in my area of work pertain to specialization.  I am working on my Gottman Marital Certificate and researching specialities in the area of helping families with a child diagnosed with cancer.    I am not sure where life will lead, but I am willing to go wherever our Heavenly Father leads me.

Special People

I wanted to insert a "special people" piece in this blog as Mike and I have met many people over this past 1.5 years of treatment that are on a journey with childhood cancer.  One family in particular is Bob and Dione.  We recently met Bob and Dione at Springlake. Their son was born with no function in the left side of his heart, which he needed a transplant.  There is a high risk of cancer for post-transplant patients.  Their son was diagnosed with Burkitts Lymphoma. We share similar concerns and fears and has been wonderful talking about this journey with them.

We also think often of Connor and his family.  Connor is one-year younger than Gabriel.  He was diagnosed with ALL too!  We think of your family and wish you much happiness.  We hope that we will be able to get to know you more as you share our faith in God and many concerns that this journey brings.  We enjoy the updates we receive on your caring bridge website.  Thank you for posting to update everyone.

We also hold close to prayer families we have met such as Carla Garrett and their baby son.  We also hold close to prayer Jacob from Woodstock who was diagnosed with AML.  

Treatment Update for Gabriel

I always leave this piece to the end as I don't want this to be the overarching area of our family.  I must admit it is very hard.  Mike and I find our conversations always lead back to the discussion about this journey.  It includes treatment, past experiences, oncology doctors, our sympathy for others going through this journey, etc...  It seems there are so many areas of discussion that we have to look at each other and say "enough."  As for our journey, it does continue.  Mike and I know that most people don't realize that his treatment is still extensive with many difficult days, weeks and unpredictability.  Gabriel's immune system has been very low for over three weeks, which meant that he has not received chemo for almost four weeks.  Our anxiety increases as this happens because if a child during the duration of maintenance (Gabriel 2.5 years) is off of chemo 10% of maintenance it increases the chance for relapse.  If relapse occurs it also increases the chance for bone marrow transplants.  This is one of the two reasons we want people to tell us if your child or yourself are sick as if Gabriel gets sick all chemo is withheld.  This cannot happen if at all possible. 

Gabriel's medication regiment is quite detailed, which is shared between Mike and I.  Mike has to do the chemo as women in child-rearing years are not suppose to handle chemo.  Scary!  You realize how potent this medication must be if oncology has recommended for women not to handle this stuff.  I give Gabriel his septra (prevention medication for serious form of pneumonia) and his dexamethasone (we call it the grumpy medicine as it changes our son's personality drastically).  Mike has most of the medication protocol has Gabriel receives his oral chemo every night around 11 p.m. at which he has to wake him.  Every Wednesday night Gabriel then receives two different types of chemo meds.  In addition, once a month he receives chemo via his port-a-cathe and every three months a lumbar puncture to insert chemo in his spinal cord.   As I type this I cannot help but have tears well up in my eyes.  I tend to operate as a robot concerning treatment as this helps me get through all details.  When something different occurs (fever, exposed to a potential Hep A scare, chicken pox, scares with our other children) I am quickly reminded that this journey has its moments of fear and anxiety that have to be dealt with outside of my robot function.

Gabriel began chemo again one week ago and started off at 50% of dosage, but one week later was raised to 75% as the closer to 100% the better.  Our oncologist is still determining proper dosage so his neutrophils are not too high or too low. We pray that this is determined by the time Gabriel goes to school.   Gabriel has missed one month of T-ball and soccer as a result of his neutrophils being low.  This part makes us sad as he cannot just be a child.  He is back to T-ball and Soccer again, so it was nice to be able to see him run around. 

Please pray for the following:

1.  No Fevers and remains healthy
2. Does not Relapse
3.  No side effects from chemo 
4.  Protection over our Girls


Thank you for spending time reading this post and a small part of our journey!  Mike and I are gradually venturing out and spending time with friends.  We look forward to these moments will all our friends and family.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

When it Rains We Will Still Make the Sun Shine

Each day as I look at my three beautiful children I am reminded that life should be cherished in the small moments. We often get caught up on completing our tasks for that given day and forget to stop to appreciate what each day holds. My children remind me to slow down! They have the ability to show me that life is full of much wonder and amazement in all the details of life. I am considered an organized planner from the very day I wake to the years in the future. However, these last few days have caught me off guard as I have realized once again that my life cannot be fully organized and defined as normal. I strive to make life normal based upon what society deems to be normal for my children. The truth betold is that our life will never be similar to the majority of families in society. We are reminded instantaneously how vulnerable our family is when our son can be playing one moment and then the next minute spike a fever that causes us to rush to the emergency department for treatment. Many families will not experience thoughts, emotions, and general life struggles such as: The fear the we have to always give over to God concerning our son's health and the concerns for our other daughters, insensitive comments by people as they truly don't understand what it is like to have a child diagnosed with cancer, the worry, the sadness, the questions of "why us," "why my child," how can I make this better, how can I make sure that our daugthers don't miss out because of this diagnosis, how can we make sure that Gabriel does not miss out, how do we protect him, how do we go about our life without so much focus on our family, and most of all the overwhelming feeling of what does tomorrow and the future hold. My husband, myself and our children live a life in unpredictability. One moment we are having fun and then the next moment it changes. We are reminded once again that life as it was before February 11th, 2009 will remain a memory that is gradually fading as more memories begin to replace that time when life was more simplier. I know that I cannot change our circumstances, but I CAN CHANGE HOW I RESPOND TO OUR PRESENT DAY AND FUTURE. My children will know that laughter, love and sadness our true experiences, and it is okay to experience all emotions. I will teach them that we make our destiny brighter when we choose to view life's circumstances as one that will help us grow and one day to help others. I will teach them through this experience the value of empathy for one another. I will teach them to love everyone and to never persecute. To reach out in love. Most importantly, I will teach my children that God loves them and has a Will for each of their lives.
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