Our New Home

Our New Home
I love all the summer greenery around our home!

Friday, October 28, 2016

What's Your Source of Life?



If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time then you most likely know that I am a man that puts a lot of stock in the Word of God.  Which as I wrote about yesterday, is what my wife and I have come to see as the script for the story of our lives!  

I know many people who look to the daily news in order to stay informed as to what is happening in the world that may affect their lives.  I have come to learn that no matter what the news says, I do not have to fear or be moved.  Instead, I am thankful because the Word of God tells me that no matter what… Papa God will always lead me in victory! (See: 2 Corinthians 2:14)  I’ve made a point over the years to always look at the Word before I look at any paper or electronic news source.  This way I am fortified for any natural reports that I may hear or see.

My reliance on the Word has only increased over the last nine years with the battle for my wife’s health.  And throughout that time I have learned many lessons concerning how His Word affects the very core of our daily lives.  I have seen that when one is fighting a war for a loved one’s health, that this individual NEEDS the constant input of life that only the Word of God can give!

Early on I would find myself getting very frustrated and drained when I was around certain Christians.  Recently I have come to understand that in most instances, when we were around these folks, the only Word that was being spoken was coming from myself or my wife when she still was still able to converse with those around her.

Romans 10:17 tells us that “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”  (ESV) So no Word = no faith!  The writer of Hebrews tells us that “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 ESV)  I now understand that to mean that fellowship with other Believers that is centered around the Word brings life and involves the whole man… spirit, soul and body!  If the conversation is only based on natural things then it is only a mental exercise! 

Don’t get me wrong.  There is definitely a place for these kinds of discussions, but when the conversation is center on an individual fighting for their very life, then I want to speak the Word into the discussion!  Believe me when I say that those of us who are in the throes of a life or death situation NEED to hear the Word in order to continually build up our expectations for the miraculous power of God’s Word to be working in our situation.  Remember Hebrews 11:1 declares that “Faith assures us of the things we expect…” (God’s Word ©)  People in the middle of a battle NEED to keep their expectations HIGH!

I am so thankful for friends like my long time buddy John who calls me from California on a weekly basis to encourage me with testimonies he’s been a part of as he has prayed for friends that needed a touch of God in their bodies, or simply to share a scripture with me.

So yeah… I am a man who greatly desires to hear, and hear, and hear the Word!  For Piper and I… it is the very fountain of life… His Zoë… the absolute fullness of the God kind of life! 
It is the power that gives me the strength to get up with a smile (most times…) in the middle of the night to meet my wonderful wife’s needs and keep a smile on my face and faith in my heart and on my lips when I see the devastating changes that have come upon her person.  It is the way the expectations of God’s personal words to me that “the best is yet to come”  stays sharp and alive in me!  I mean let’s face it… “If God be for us, then who (or what) can be against us!” (Romans 8:31 KJV)

Therefore, let me leave you with this question to ponder over this upcoming weekend: “Do you have God’s Word of life ever growing in intensity, reality and power in your daily activities?”  I sure hope so!  Have a great weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What source of Zoë life am I expecting to encourage, uplift and empower me today?”

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Story of My Life



I heard a quote the other day by the late William S. Buckley that made me laugh so hard that I almost dropped the cup in my hand.  I found the quote amusing not only because it was funny, but also because it seems to be something that I see unfolding almost daily in our current presidential campaign.  He stated that: 

“Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views,
 but then are shocked and offended
 to discover that there are other views.”

I have found myself shaking my head many times over the last year or so as I have been closely following the events that tell the story of this year’s campaign.  It always tends to catch me a little off guard when one of the candidates or party representatives utters something that seems totally out of kilter to my experience within the middle class America I live in.

Mr. Buckley’s quote hits home to me for as a Christian, my beliefs have become more and more under fire.  Suddenly I am considered to be a right wing radical and called a bigot and a racist simply because I do not agree with someone else’s views.  My viewpoint, that is based within my position as the righteousness of Christ, is now seen to be a threat to those who espouse a more liberal view that many times does not line up with the Word of God… which is the Word that I look to as the final word in any and every situation in my life.

But you know… I have come to realize that God’s Word has the power to change my life for the better, while the others who belittle what I and thousands of other Christians believe, does not!  In fact, I had a revelation this morning as I was speaking out the Word to my wife while we sat at the breakfast table.

As I have mentioned many times before, the Lord spoke to my heart over five years ago now, and told me that the number one thing that I could be doing for my wife as we walk through this battle with Alzheimer’s was to saturate her with His Word both day and night.  That command made immediate sense to me for by that time in my Christian walk I had a firm understanding of Romans 10:17 where we are instructed that “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” (KJV)  I also gained the insight that while Piper’s physical brain was going through a time of trauma, that her spirit was still strong and receptive to the restorative and healing powers of His Word.

These directions also seemed to give me answers to my disagreement with many good meaning Christians who told me that there was nothing that I could do spiritually for Piper, for as a mature Christian, her healing was totally up to her.  That thought just didn’t sit right due to the unique debilitating effects of this disease that makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the affected individual to reason and act responsibly. So after receiving that command, I have been diligently speaking God’s Word of healing over her both day and night every day since!

This morning as I ended our morning confessions with Jeremiah 1:12 where we are told that Papa God is “watching over my word (logos) to perform it” (ESV) I suddenly understood the performance that He was talking about!  After a moment’s pause I turned excitedly to Piper and exclaimed “The Word that we’re speaking out over you both day and night is God’s script for the story of our lives!”

I’ve written enough scripts for church productions over the years that I have an intimate understanding of the importance of the performers following the script in order to bring the play to its proper conclusion.  And God’s Word is the perfect script for Him to follow in the performance of the next chapter in the epic story of the life and ministry of Jim & Piper Berruto!

So… I guess it really doesn’t matter what others may think of me, or what titles they’ll attach to what I believe… simply because it may not agree with their philosophy of life.  What matters most to me is that I keep following the script that Papa God has written in His Word!  In the end, His Word will be the only one that really counts!  His Word tells the story of a strong, confident, healed and whole Piper.  The world’s script does not have such a positive ending.   Our faith in God’s Word supersedes the limited boundaries of the world’s wisdom and empowers those of us who believe to do exceedingly, abundantly above all…

I started out with a quote so I’ll end in the same way.  Charles Spurgeon, one of the most influential British preachers of the 1800’s, defined what it means for a Christian to have faith, trust and/or believe (all from the same Greek root) in God and His Word by explaining that: “Faith is believing that Christ is what He is said to be, and that He will do what He has promised to do, and then to expect this of Him.”

Is this the script that you follow in your believing?  I hope you’re having a great week and in the midst of it, I encourage you to keep confessing: “I am expecting the script of God’s Word to be the story of my life today!”

Monday, October 24, 2016

ARE!



Yesterday was a lovely day here in the northeast central region of North Carolina.  We had the pleasure of enjoying the majority of the afternoon in emergency room 10 at the Central Harnett Hospital in the beautiful town of Lillington.  Right after I gave Piper her 2:00 o’clock dosage of one of her meds, she started coughing rather rapidly and her sinuses seemed to go crazy.  Her breathing was labored and she was conjested and even though she eventually began to calm down, I decided to ere on the side of caution and drove the eight miles into Lillington since pneumonia is a major threat to someone in her condition.

Well, as it turns out, the examination and chest X-ray looked good and we were finally released a few hours later.  I mentioned to my cousin later that night that I wasn’t sure if the trip to the hospital wasn’t more for my benefit than for Piper’s!  But I am glad that I took her in and got her checked out.  I am thankful that although this event was a bit scary, that it proved to be nothing too alarming.

Something that I am also thankful for is all the “ARE’s” that I noticed while confessing God’s Word over my wife this morning!  Since these are faith confessions that we are making and because faith is always current tense, I speak out the various promises of God as if they are happening right now!  This morning I came to the revelation of how many times I used the word “ARE” when confessing what the Word says Papa God is doing for Piper.

We always begin with Exodus 15:26 where we acknowledge by proclaiming and thanking Papa God that “You are Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who heals us” (See: Exodus 15:26) and then continue through many of the promises in the Old and New Testaments that declare what He is doing for the health of my wife.  It soon becomes obvious that Papa God is the God of positive action when it comes to the lives of His children who actively believe and take actions based on the truth of His Word.

We left that hospital feeling tired but yet greatly relieved, encouraged and at peace due to the good reports and advice we received from the medical professionals.  This morning I awoke still feeling a bit tired, but we quickly received the peace that came from the encouragement and advice we received from the Word of God that we spoke out.  I knew that the medical staff at the hospital would immediately take action when it came to the needs of my wife, just like I realized this morning all the actions that Papa has, is and will continue to take on our behalf when we place our active trust in Him.

We’ve been to this little hospital enough times now that I recognize and expect a certain process to occur when we walk in the door.  Although I admit, that I am still amazed at how fast they do it compared to the hospitals we visited back in California.  Once we got to the registration desk things began to happen.  We were quickly signed in, ushered to the initial examination room where the nurse was waiting for us and then accompanied to the treatment room that had just opened up where the medical staff immediately began the various applicable tests to determine Piper’s needs in order to commence the needed solution.

And that is exactly what I felt this morning when I realized all the activities that Papa God and His myriad of angels ARE doing for us every time we enter into His presence through the study, confession and corresponding actions of faith in Him and His Word.

Every time I humbly and hungrily enter into fellowship and communion with Him, I have learned to expect certain results because He is a God who loves to take action in behalf of those of us who actively believe! (See: Mark 16:17)

So what about you?  ARE you seeing Papa God and His Word taking action in response to your daily, diligent and consistent fellowship with Him and His Word?  Have a great week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Through my steps of active believing, am I EXPECTING Papa God and His Word to take action on my behalf?”

Friday, October 21, 2016

Out of Order!



One thing that I have learned as a 24/7 care-giver to my wife is the importance of routine and the keeping of a certain semblance of order in our lives!  I have come to realize that sleep deprivation is just a normal part of the new set of responsibilities that I have very willingly accepted to make sure that Piper’s needs are met on a daily basis.  But the downside of operating in this mode is the relative ease in which I can slip and fall into the traps of frustration, irritation and the noticeable absence of patience!

That’s why sticking to a regular schedule and/or routine, making a point to pick up after myself, keeping the home clean and orderly and making sure that things always get put back where they belong is so important to me.  I may be tired, but the order and routine greatly help to lessen the possibilities of frustration and burn-out… while helping me to keep my eyes off of myself, to stay focused on meeting Piper’s currents needs and to keep firm and positive expectations of our stand of faith for her healing based on the promises of God’s infallible Word!

With all that said, this morning began off schedule!  I originally woke up around 6:30 and quickly found myself thanking the Lord that I could sleep for another half hour before having to get up.  But that extra sleep did not come easy as the dog was rolling around on the floor and bumping into my bed during the process.  Then I could also hear Piper yawning in her bed next to mine and knew that she was awake as well.  But I persisted in my quest for sleep and the next thing I knew it was 7:30 and I was a half hour late according to our new morning schedule!

So instead of being able to take my time to get up, get dressed and groomed, the coffee brewing and everything set up for Piper’s get up routine, I flew from the bed, quickly threw on some clothes, forgot about the coffee and opening up the curtains in the front rooms, and grabbed Piper’s clothes and other needs before joining her at the side of her bed!  The nice thing was that although Piper had awoken earlier than normal, she was doing fine, was at peace, alert and seemed content.  

As I sat down on my bed and began to share our morning scripture confessions with her, I had the sudden overwhelming sense of the peace and stability that came from the Word of God that I was beginning to share with her.  Even though we were off schedule and I was rushing to catch up and restore some order to the day, His Word brought to me an instant calm, peace and rest.  At that moment I just had to stop and raise up my arms while proclaiming thanksgiving to Papa God.  I don’t know what it is, but I am one of those folks who can’t seemed to praise and worship Papa God with words of thanksgiving without physically raising up my arms in submission to Him.

I can still vividly remember a group of us worshipers standing hand in hand in a circle at the conclusion of a Watch-Night service on New Year’s Eve sometime in the late 1970’s at the Baptist church we attended and served as Youth Ministers, and slipping up my right hand as we sang a hymn.  I didn’t even think about it at the time as it was an involuntary response to the anointing that filled that beautiful sanctuary that night.  

What I did notice when I opened my eyes at the end of the song was the stares of those conservative Baptist saints that we were worshiping with!  I was very thankful for the reassuring squeeze of confirmation that Piper gave my other hand in response to the wide eyes of the rest of the group!  But you know… nobody ever mentioned anything about it and it may have acted as a catalyst to help others in that church to enjoy new freedoms in their public and private worship to God over the next few years amidst the influences of the burgeoning Charismatic Movement that was sweeping the denominational churches at that time!

I realized this morning at that moment of revelation, that I was very THANKFUL that God’s Word was one of the only things that never changed over the course of the years that we have been dealing with the physical changes in my lovely wife.  Throughout all the radical ups and downs that we have been through, His Word has been the strong foundation, the rock that has kept us on track and focused on the plans He has set for us to follow.  2 Samuel 22:47 tells us that “The Lord lives!  Thanks be to my rock!  May God, the rock of my salvation, be glorified.” (God’s Word ©)

The life changing events over the last nine years have given Piper and I a whole new and greater appreciation of what it means to have THAT Rock as the foundation of our lives!  Ephesians 5:4 says that “It’s not right that dirty stories, foolish talk, or obscene jokes should be mentioned among you either.  Instead give thanks to God.” (God’s Word ©)  The Message Bible concludes that verse declaring “That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style; (for) Thanksgiving is our dialect!

Over the course of this experience in our lives, we have had some, according to this verse, “foolish talk” spoken to and about us to others.  Albert Barnes defines “foolish talk” as “the kind of talk which is insipid, senseless, and stupid; that which is not suited to instruct, edify, profit” the situation or need at hand.  Those words shook the world that I had come to depend on.  I knew in an instant that some things had radically changed.  At the time I didn’t have a clue as to why things happened as they did, but suddenly, certain relationships that I had and hoped to continue to depend on for physical, mental and spiritual support went up in smoke.

You talk about a strong California earthquake!  But through it all, I quickly realized that God and His Word NEVER changes!  I am thankful that the ROCK of our salvation is always the same, always there for us, always strong, always faithful to His Word and always able to penetrate any need, any hurt, any trauma with the strong embrace of His loving arms!

As I sat there earlier this morning and even now at the table in our dining room, I can’t help but continue to speak “our dialect”… the dialect of THANKSGIVING unto Papa God.  I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how much your world is shaking and how little you may understand the reasons why… that you and I can ALWAYS be THANKFUL that God is close at hand with the steadfastness of His Love, of His Word and of His power that overwhelms and overcomes the disturbances that we encounter in our daily lives!

So, go ahead… Take a moment right now and say it with me: “Thank You, Thank You, Thank You Papa God… for no matter what, YOU are and always will be the Rock of my salvation!”  Have a great weekend, stay focused and thereby THANKFUL to Papa God, and as you do, keep confessing: “I am Thankful to Papa God and expectant of His steadfastness, of His goodness, of His peace, of His wisdom and of His love for me each and every day of my life!”   Give THANKS and don’t allow anything to cause you to become “Out of Order.”