Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

Loving a Lymie

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It’s not easy loving a lymie, or anyone with chronic illness actually. It’s not that it’s hard to love the person. Many times you’ve known them and loved them long before they got sick. What’s hard is when God calls you to come alongside someone who is ill and is likely to remain ill for the rest of their life (aside from a miraculous healing…always a possibility). It’s tough and I’ll tell you why.

Whether it’s a friend, a family member or someone from your church, you probably know someone with some sort of chronic illness such as fibromyalgia, MS, lupus, Lyme Disease or even something that hasn’t been diagnosed yet. If you’re my friend, you know me! If you’re not already aware, I have chronic lyme disease and have been sick for going on six years now (though the past 18 months has been by far the worst).

It’s not an easy path when God calls you to support and love someone who is always sick for many reasons. Here are a few for you to ponder and perhaps pray about:

  1. The Long Haul

Chronic illness is, by definition, a lifelong problem. Unless God heals it miraculously, a person who is chronically ill is likely to be sick throughout their life on earth. Why does that make them hard to help? Because they ALWAYS need help. It’s not quite the same as bringing a meal to someone who has the flu or cleaning someone’s house after they just had a baby. When you’re called to serve someone with chronic lyme or another illness, there is no end in sight. We are “needy” for the long haul. It’s hard on our friends and family, and it’s so very hard on us. Believe me, we don’t want to feel like a burden. We don’t want to ask for help over and over.  We really don’t want to be so keenly aware that we will suffer like this for the rest of our lives. Still, Christ gives us assured hope that this pain and sickness, while it may last for the duration of earthly life, will be healed when we are with Him. So we press on.

  1. Chronic Illness is Boring

If you knew me before I was sick, you know that I was a very active person. I have a big personality, some would say. I love to laugh and have fun and go out. Being sick really interferes with your social life. I’m blessed that I can still make it out sometimes, but more often I’m too tired and sore to leave the house much. I don’t always make it to church (which is super hard for me). I can’t go to every birthday party or concert or ministry event. When you love a lymie, you have to realize that we just aren’t as “fun” as we used to be. We can’t do what we did before. It’s hard to be friends with someone who can’t go shopping with you or come to your kids’ birthday party. Still, you can have fun with us if you come and sit with us a while. We can laugh and catch up and have a nice visit if you don’t mind us lounging around in our PJs.

  1. You Give More Than You Get

If you’re called to walk alongside someone with chronic illness, understand that you’ll probably be giving more than you receive in some ways. We may not be able to “do” acts of service for you in the way you do them for us. We may not be able to cook you meals or help clean your home or bring you coffee as often. Again, I’m blessed that I’m still able to do those things on good days. I find it absolutely delightful to do meals for people or to run errands and help out. I love that I can still do that and I’ll keep doing it until I absolutely can’t anymore. Still, for many lymies their illness has meant they are bedridden and confined to their homes. Sometimes they are attached to IV’s, trying to recover. Ultimately loving someone who is very sick means you have to give without asking for much in return. What we can always give back is love, prayer and friendship. Sometimes that has to be enough.

  1. Another Post About Lyme?

Yes, I post a lot about lyme disease. Some people post a lot about fibromyalgia or MS. Why do we do that? There are several reasons. When it comes to lyme disease, people generally know so little about it…even in the medical community. We are always trying to raise awareness. We also share because we often feel lonely in our illness. We are aware that people don’t usually understand what we’re going through or how sick this disease makes us, and we have a strong desire for our friends and family to understand. Sometimes we post because we really need prayer or because we’re having a particularly bad day and need help but are too prideful or shy to just come out and ask for help. When you love a lymie, you may have to deal with reading posts or hearing us talk about our illness. It may seem boring to you or redundant, but it’s what is happening in our lives. If you ask how we are, our first response will usually be about being sick because it affects every area of our lives. Please be patient with us. Loving an ill person means you should take an interest in learning about our illness, reading our sometimes subtle pleas for help and offering us lots of grace.

  1. Love Bears All Things

Love bears all things and endures all things and believes all things. Love never fails. Loving the chronically ill is not an easy road. I can tell you that having chronic lyme has affected many of my friendships. I have often felt alone, misunderstood and that others don’t believe how sick I am because we don’t always look sick on the outside. Lyme Disease beats a person up physically, emotionally, financially and sometimes spiritually. We have a hard time finding a doctor to help. Treatment makes us sick and often leads to bankruptcy.  It’s so very hard, my friends.  I’ve been blessed to have one friend from church who checks in on me consistently and offers to bring meals and groceries (thanks Anna!!!) and also several good friends locally who have surprised us with meals, offered to help around the house and even brought me coffee ! I’ve also had some amazing people in my life help with the cost if treatment.  I appreciate you all more than words can say. Loving someone with lyme is not easy, but true love bears all things.

Loving someone with chronic illness is a burden, but it can also be a blessing. I believe truly that we, The Church, are called to love and serve one another in a real, daily life kind of way. I believed it before I was sick and I believe it now. Jesus sacrificed everything for us on the cross, but before that He also took on the position of the most humble servant in the house and washed feet. He ministered to crowds to the point of exhaustion. He wept over the death of Lazarus with great compassion, even though He knew He would raise him from the dead. Jesus served people fervently. He gave all of Himself and that’s what we are supposed to be doing. I will keep doing it until I have no more strength left. Now I need to work on being willing to receive from others that love and support in my illness, putting pride aside.

So there it is friends. It’s difficult to love someone who is always sick, who can’t give much back in return, who isn’t quite as fun anymore and who goes on and on about the new research coming out about their illness. I get it. I see that it’s hard, but if God calls you to love that person, then He will give you the strength, the wisdom and the courage to really love and serve them. Honestly, I think it’s something we are called to do. The Church needs to do this. This is how The Church is supposed to function. Yes, it means sacrifice. Yes, it’s often inconvenient. Yes, it’s also a blessing.

Sick as a dog via photopin (license)

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Admonish One Another

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InspirationDC via photopin cc

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Proverbs 27:5-6

There is a lot of confusion these days about the function and design and purpose of the church. Let me clarify that when I use the word “church”, I am not referring to a building. We are the church. You and me. The church is the brethren of believers that are scattered here and there, meeting in fellowships nearby and around the world. So when I talk about the church here, I’m talking about God’s people. The Church of the Way, as it was called in early church history.

The Church has many functions, as described by the New Testament books. Yet, it seems we have all but abandoned certain aspects of, what the Word of God said, were important roles and responsibilities towards each other. You see, we are called to love one another, to build relationships, and to allow the Lord to knit us together into a beautiful woven, open and welcoming community. We are called into closeness and family…not Sunday morning smiles and empty greetings. We are called to something deeper and more real. Real church.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,  bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:12-17, ESV

We are God’s chosen ones, and therefore we are called into a certain type of relationship with each other. Let’s make a list of some of the aspects of this calling as stated here in this chapter of Colossians:

  1. Compassion
  2. Kindness
  3. Humility
  4. Meekness
  5. Patience
  6. Bearing One Another’s Burdens
  7. Forgiving
  8. Loving
  9. Peaceful
  10. Thankful
  11. Teaching
  12. Admonishing
  13. Praising God Together

This is a great list, and we could do a study about each of these aspects, but today I want to focus on the one word on this list that people seem to really shy away from in the church: admonishment. Throughout the New Testament we see admonishment and yet in the modern church we rarely see it. I believe there are a few reasons for that: 1. People don’t often build the type of relationships in which it’s appropriate; 2. Many churches don’t make this Biblical practice a part of their culture and therefore people just don’t understand the importance and benefits; 3. Many churches are all about getting people in the door and less about the spiritual growth of the congregation; 4. People are not used to being confronted about their sin; and 5. People are unwilling to move past their comfort zone into all that God has for them.

Admonishment is not a bad word when you understand the meaning, purpose and benefits. The word “admonish” doesn’t mean to discipline someone. The actual translation is more like “a warning”. In other words, when you admonish someone you are warning them about sin they may not see and/or the possible consequences of that sin. It is not a harsh spiritual lashing, but a loving warning from a friend…an encouragement to turn away from a sin that is detrimental and in order to grow spiritually.

The benefits of admonishment are beautiful. When my husband and I first got married and lived in Scotland, we were part of a church that truly believed in discipleship and New Testament relationship. My pastor’s wife, a wonderful sister who encouraged me in so many ways, admonished me at times in my walk and in my marriage. While no one’s pride enjoys their sin being brought to life, I was open to her warnings and they ultimately brought me into a deeper relationship with God, a much better marriage and a more full church life experience. We are called to admonish one another for the sake of edification.  The scripture is full of examples and instruction in this way.

“I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.  Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.” Acts 20:29-31

“I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.” 1 Corinthians 4:14

“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you…” 1 Thess. 5:12

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Galatians 6:1

“Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” 2 Thess.3:15

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” Proverbs 19:20

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:2

 

In order to build a community and a culture in which admonishment is  a normal part of life, we need to build close relationships. I know that as a believer I want my closest friendships in the body to be with others who want all of what God has for us. Therefore I want to build up relationships where speaking the truth in the love (even admonishment) is welcome and expected. We have to build relationships for this to happen. Admonishing someone you barely know is not always wise or expedient. We don’t run around warning everyone of their sin. This is an aspect of the church family that is found in close knit relationships, where iron sharpens iron (usually making a spark) and where the entire relationship is covered in love, prayer and truth.

Pray about it brethren. Pray about building relationships within the church family that are strong enough to be real with one another. Walking in love and unity, take on the call to admonish, confess, edify and help one another grow up into spiritual maturity. It’s what God wants. We know that from the scripture. We need this blessed benefit of the church family in our lives. We certainly do.

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A Message About Love

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photo credit: “Love One Another…” ~ digital paint effect ~ [Explored] via photopin (license)

“1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

I know a lot of clanging cymbals. I know plenty of Christians who are bankrupt in the love department. I’m sure that I’ve been one a time or two in my life. Yes, I’m quite sure that I have, but something has happened to me.

There’s been a change of heart here. You see, for so long I depended so heavily upon the apologetics and study of my faith and the Word of God (not entirely a bad thing), but I often failed in the love department. I failed to see people hurting. I failed in compassion but excelled in the “calling” of giving advice. I had a quick answer for everyone but not a heart of discernment as to when to share that advice and when to be a silent encourager.

As God has shown me to see His hurting people through His eyes, my heart has softened to the plight of the suffering and lost of this world. My eyes see more clearly now that there are people within the church who are in pain but suffer in silence for the sake of an obligatory smile on Sunday morning. Well-primped and properly-dressed Christians fill up the pews and all is right in the world….only it isn’t. Very little is right in this world because the enemy of our souls is constantly on the prowl, looking for whomever he may lie to, cheat, harm and break. Death and sickness plague us. Adultery and immorality are ever present. We rejoice in the Lord and His blessings, but may we never forget that this world is moaning as it awaits redemption and renewal.

With all the suffering that there is in this world, we need to be all the more abundant in love, compassion, grace and bearing one another’s burdens. We need each other. We need love. There’s no question that we need to study God’s Word and know His precepts also, but fellowship and love within the body of Christ must never be side-show attraction or a secondary concern in the body. Disconnected believers are easily brought down. Isolated Christians have no one to see when they are falling and no one to pull them up when the cares of the world pull them down.

Clanging cymbals. They do everything right, don’t they? They know the Bible. They live pure lifestyles and their tithe is 10.1 percent. The words on their lips are goodness and their homes are fortified. They do everything right….except love. They do everything well…except that which is most important.

“Faith, hope and love; these three abide, but the greatest of these is LOVE.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

We learn so much about love from this chapter in 1 Corinthians. My heart cries out to my fellow believers that we need to understand love more. We need to give it more freely. We need to be willing to get our hands dirty to wash the feet of those who have walked a thousand miles in pain and hardship. We need to love til it hurts. Love is sacrifice. Didn’t our Savior teach us that? We need to love like Jesus did….laying down our lives and giving all of ourselves.

Don’t be a clanging cymbal, dear one. Don’t excel at having all the right answers but fail at loving with a pure and dedicated love. Agape love. Unconditional love.

When I die someday, whenever the Lord wills that to be, I don’t want it to be said of me that I was a Christian who knew all the right answers. I don’t want it said to me that I was a good tither or had an excellent church attendance record. I cringe to think that my mourners would speak only about the Lord’s gift of music in my life.

Oh Lord, may they remember me as one who loved! Jesus, may I love so fiercely that people would never forget it. May my love comfort Your children and draw in the lost! May I love without reserve! May I love without bounds! May Your perfect love be perfected in me that I might be worthy of being called a Christian at all!

May we love deeply. May we love true. May our love be a sweet, sweet sound to the Father and may our love drown out the clanging cymbals.

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