Kimalea’s Story: stage two breast cancer

This article was so inspiring I just had to share it. Much of what keeps me going faith-wise is the sense that God is with me every day, through trials and tribulations and my ever-present weaknesses. He is ever faithful. I hope you find Kimalea’s story as uplifting and hopeful as I did. Here is a beautiful quote:

Every day I remind myself, cancer cannot make me afraid without my permission. And, I will not give it permission.

I begin each day with praise. When I start to list all of the people and blessings I’m grateful for, I realize how rich my life is and how very blessed I am. I know God will never leave me or forsake me, and no matter how difficult things are, He is a very present help. He’s my refuge. And I know that He is in my present, but He’s also waiting for me in my future. He goes before me to prepare my way as I purpose to follow him. I do not fret, as God will provide. My opportunity is to feed my faith and not feed my fears.

Kimalea was treated by the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, where faith in Christ is positively embraced and encouraged as part of each patient’s care.

One of the first things that cancer does is to try and steal hope. But we recognize that God is the source of hope.

For the entire article, see the beautifully written:
http://www.cancercenter.com/faith/kimaleas-story

Advertisements

Christian Book Review – “Dark Journey Deep Grace” by Roy Ratcliffe with Lindy Adams

Jeffrey Dahmer’s old life saw him as one of the most infamous serial killers of our time. The question this book poses is: can God forgive even Jeffrey Dahmer? I had to buy it and read it to really learn about the heart of God, in particular His mercy and redemptive love for mankind. I wanted to know how it is that He can behold even the most (to human eyes at least) unpromising of sinners and yet patiently seek their higher good.

The book was fascinating. Yes, there are sections that are difficult for anyone, let alone a Christian to read. Chapters 3 and 4 describe in detail Jeff’s crimes that he committed and they make for heavy going. But persevere, and you uncover precious gems such as this: Jeff was receptive quite early on to God’s grace:

Grandmother Dahmer was very religious and read the Bible daily, and living with her had a positive influence on Jeff at the time. Still, he wrestled with his urges and began to act upon them again. (Dark Journey Deep Grace, p50)

Then this:

A prisoner can grow more resentful for the treatment received in prison. Many certainly do that. Or a prisoner can develop new criminal skills and figure out how not to get caught the next time. Some also do that. Or, a prisoner can reflect on the crimes and the lifestyle that lead to such a place and make a new decision: “I’ll never do that again, so help me God!” Imagine the thoughts of serial killer and mutilator Jeffrey Dahmer when he ended up in prison. He felt great remorse, which he confessed on several occasions. He had ruined his life beyond repair…Who could he turn to except God? Certainly, no human would hear the cries of his heart and believe the depth of his sorrow. Only God could. Jeff remembered going to church with his parents as a small child…In his adult years, when Jeff lived with his grandmother, and especially as he struggled with his internal urges to kill, he took an interest in his grandmother’s church and her Christian lifestyle. But he never invested enough in her faith to ease his tortured mind or get whatever help he could for his inner Armageddon…But after Jeffrey’s arrest, a veil was lifted. He began to see order and design in the universe. He began to see the case for God and to see Jesus as the only answer for the havoc he had wreaked in his life. He began to have hope for his ultimate fate. Is it possible that God could really love him – Jeffrey Dahmer? Could the salvation that Jesus offers be available to him, too, despite his heinous acts? Did Jesus die for Jeffrey Dahmer too?

The answer this book gives is a joyful and resounding “yes.” Jeff’s conversion was sincere though some – even some Christians – questioned his sincerity. At least one person stated that if Jeffrey Dahmer was in heaven they didn’t want to go there (see p84 in the book). Such comments made me ashamed to be a human being and a Christian. There are two issues here: the first is the old saying, “there but for the grace of God go I.” The second issue is that we are all sinners in God’s eyes, he puts no difference between any of us. All are undeserving yet were awarded mercy and grace by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

It is worth noting that Jeff received no benefits whatsoever after converting to Christianity. His sentence remained the same and he eventually died in prison. He underwent persecution, in fact, which is what is promised to every true follower of Christ. As it is written:

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33)

Some examples of the difficulties Jeff experienced post-conversion:
* Every time he tried to testify of his faith in Christ on national television, those segments were cut out of the broadcast
* He had his tiny prison allowance cut to be distributed to victims’ families
* He received unopened pornography in the mail (when every other package sent to him was opened and checked by guards), which nearly resulted in him being defeated in his Christian walk

What was wonderful to read about, however, was how the Spirit of Grace moved in his life. He felt compelled to evangelise his new found faith with others, to support and encourage them, which is a sign of the Spirit of the Lord working in someone’s life. On page 110 Jeff commented that he was glad that a prison attack recently made on him was not fatal. He said: “There is so much I want to do for God here in prison, so many people I want to share the gospel with. I want to talk to my mother about my faith. I can’t imagine God taking those opportunities away from me now. I am so thankful that I survived.”

As final reflections, I would like to close with three scripture passages. The first was read by Jeffrey Dahmer in his statement to the court in 1992 where he likened himself to the worst of all sinners who was yet shown mercy, Paul:

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
(1 Tim. 1:15-16)

Then some reminders that were given to me by the Spirit of Truth after I finished reading this book:

but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 that no flesh should glory in his presence.
(1 Cor 1:27-29)

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
(Matt. 25:41-46)

My testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, who has the power and wisdom of God

Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

I have testified on this website that I have suffered from demonic attacks since 2004. Shortly after the attacks began, I had two strange experiences, on two separate occasions, that I wanted to recount here for the edification and comfort of others. I am certain I am not the only person on earth who has been afflicted with demons, so wanted to offer what hope and consolation I can at this point in time to others. At any rate, the experiences both occurred during dreams.

In the first, I partially awoke to a demon attempting to pull something invisible out of the centre of my chest, right over my heart. Though there was a pleasant sensation to what he was doing, I knew that it was wrong spiritually so spoke up immediately. I said, “No, stop!” The fallen one asked, “Why?” To which I replied, steadfastly, “Because I don’t want to be open to ANYTHING.”

At this moment the demon was blown back away from me, as though by a mighty wind. I was astonished to witness this in my dream and knew without a doubt that God had honoured my decision to keep protecting my heart spiritually. This was what I wanted to make people understand and be comforted by: that God is merciful, has unlimited power over demons, and will honour our spiritual decisions.

The second incident I wanted to talk about occurred a few months later (to the best of my recollection), while I was struggling to find my childhood faith in the Lord Jesus Christ again. I was, again, being harassed by demons in my dreams when, suddenly, a calm and familiar male voice spoke from behind me. I couldn’t see who spoke but I remember his words. He simply said, “Make the sign of the cross.” I suddenly felt empowered or inspired spiritually within my dream and found myself saying, “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost” while crossing myself.

Again, to my awestruck eyes, I saw ALL the demons blown backwards into the distance as though struck by a tornado. I am 100% convinced the Person who spoke was the Lord Jesus, who saves to the uttermost those who call upon Him in faith (Hebrews 7:25).

Some Holy Scripture passages glorifying Christ and His power that seem pertinent to the above testimony:

1 Corinthians 1:18
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

1 Corinthians 1:24
But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

1 Corinthians 2:4-5
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

What does the Word of God teach about grace vs works?

My notes based on the Word of God (please kindly compare back to your own prayerful readings of the Word):

God offers eternal life as a free gift, but only through faith in His Son Jesus, who bore our sins for us and who alone is perfectly righteous in the Father’s eyes. We can stand on Judgement Day only due to this faith in the Lord Jesus’ work for us on the Cross:

Isaiah 53:5
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, the Father’s “lamb of God”:

John 1:29
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

God provided for Himself a perfect, holy Lamb to take away our sins, similar to how He provided Abraham with a ram so Abraham didn’t have to sacrifice his own son Isaac in the Old Testament.

The following text is taken from “The Journal of Bible Accuracy” website, http://www.jba.gr/Grace-and-works.htm. I’ve included it here because it helped open the eyes of my understanding to how grace relates to works in salvation of someone’s soul. I was previously a little confused about this:

The word “grace” used in Bible is a translation of the Greek word “charis” . “Charis” means “free undeserved favor”. In the Bible, it means “God’s unmerited favor”. It is very important to have a correct understanding of the word “grace” as all too often people confuse grace with works. However, grace and works are entirely different things. Romans 4:4 tells us:

“Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.”

In this passage the word “gift” is the word “charis” in the Greek text, which as we have learned means grace. What this passage tells us is that when someone works for something, that which he receives back is a reward for his work. This reward therefore is not given to him by grace, as a gift, because he worked for it, and thus he deserves it. In the same way, when the Word of God says that something has been given to us by grace it means that it has been given to us as a gift, as something for which we didn’t qualify and for which we didn’t work. It is clear therefore that something either will be earned by works or will be given by grace. It cannot be both by works and by grace at the same time. Difficulties in understanding and accepting this fact have caused many Christians, instead of enjoying what they already have by grace and then utilize it to build their fellowship with God, to try to achieve by works what they already have.

Another passage which shows clearly that grace and works are entirely different things is Romans 11:6. There we read:

“And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were [i.e. by works], grace would no longer be grace.”

Once again, this passage explains to us what we have already seen: if something is gained by works then it could not be by grace since otherwise “grace would no longer be grace”!!! How clear and pure is the Word of God. Many of us when we go to the Word of God, we think that what we read has to mean something different than what is said! We need to understand that the Word of God means what it says and says what it means. It is our refusal to accept the Word of God that has produced all these strange ideas that gift means wage and grace means works. We go to the Word of God with the preconceived idea that we must do something to achieve a right position before God and when we see that the Word of God says that this right position has been granted to us by grace, through the accomplishments of the Lord Jesus Christ, on the condition of our faith, then we worry what is wrong with the Word. Rather, we should and must ask what is wrong with our preconceived ideas. When you go to the Word of God you must leave out any preconceived ideas you may have about it. You must go with the intention to fit your ideas to the Bible and not the Bible to your preconceived ideas. With regard to the topic of salvation and righteousness, and seeing the confusion that abounds about it, it is no wonder that God paid such special attention to tell us that when He says grace He means grace and not works!

Now does this mean that God does not want us to do good works? Of course not! In fact He has created us for good works and He has already prepared them for us (Ephesians 2:10). However, what I want to point out here is that we start as righteous and saved, and as we grow in our fellowship with the Lord, the works come as the fruit of that fellowship. These are not works that we have predetermined to do for God but works that “GOD has prepared” (Ephesians 2:10) for us. It is important to understand how you start. If you start doing good works in order to achieve a good position before God then you have missed the point. You will always end up with condemnation because you are trying to achieve righteousness by works, which is impossible. However, if you know that, because of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ and your faith in Him, you start as righteous and saved and that all these were granted to you as gifts (by grace), when you believed, then you can go ahead and do the works that God has prepared for you. These works are then not the means of your relationship with God but the fruit of that relationship. And God does want us to bring forth much fruit for Him. As the Lord said in John 15:8:

“Herein is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be my disciples.”

Ephesians 2:8-10 summarizes the relationship of grace and works very well:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Though we are not saved by works, we are created in Christ Jesus for good works, that God has prepared for us to walk in them. To say it differently, though works do not precede our salvation, they should definitely follow it! We, as professing Christians, are indeed expected to live and walk as Christians, doing what the Word of God says and walking in the good works that God has prepared for us.

To conclude therefore: salvation is by grace through faith. It is not of works! On the other hand the fact that we once believed is not the end. We should move ahead and seek to find and do what God has prepared for us, bringing forth fruit for our Lord. As He said “every tree is known by each own fruit” (Luke 6:44). James goes even further saying “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). The fruit of our life proves therefore whether our faith is a true living faith or a dead faith (just a confession made sometime, somewhere). To say it differently: are you saved? If yes, then walk as saved! Ephesians 5:8, 10-11 encourages us:

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light …. finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.”

Tassos Kioulachoglou