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Ocean View Methodist


May 04, 2014
Always the Conquerer Sermon


Today I want to share a bit of our story with you and then share how God
is showing Himself faithful to us
Parenthood has never been an easy journey for me. I honestly didnt even
know if I wanted to be a parent. Kids were so sticky and always had runny
noses and dirty clothes and it seemed like so much WORK.
And then as I grew up older I realized the stickiness wasnt the biggest
problem but really what was scary about parenthood was that you were
responsible for the hearts and souls of these little people and you could
totally screw them up!
When I was little I thought my parents were perfect, and then one day it
dawned on me that they werent perfect, and then later I blamed them for
all my problems and fears and issues. I eventually worked through it, but it
made me so terrified of parenting. My parents did the best job they could
and always loved us but still I grew up so messed up. There was too much
potential damage to reek on a child how could I do that to someone?
These fears too were worked through as I came to know the cross deeper
and understand that my job wasnt to be perfect but to point people to the
forgiveness and love of Jesus Christ, and that included my children.
So, mostly because Casey would be parenting them too and he is obviously
a great parent, we had Kieren. We WANTED a boy but settled for a girl
and fell in love with her instantly. Her middle name is joy and she lives up
to that moniker. She has the best laugh in the world and brings love and joy
wherever she goes.
But still even with a princess parenthood isnt easy and I wondered if we
could actually raise a second child. Casey and I went back and forth for
hours about having a second and ultimately we had Keller because Casey
wanted a son. And he gave me an ipod. That is a true story. I eventually
relented and got pregnant because Casey bought me an ipod. But that is
another story.
As my belly and body grew with Keller I wondered how I could ever love
another child like I loved Keller, but grew strength in seeing the community
of Ocean View and how you all loved Kieren and our family. We could do
it together.
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Then Keller was born and everything changed again. He was the sweetest
gift that I never knew I wanted. It has been a beautiful journey watching
this boy grow up and develop and I have an insane and unnatural love for
him. I am obsessed.
But then at about 16 months we started noticing that Keller was developing
differently than other kids. He wasnt talking much, he wouldnt really eat
many different foods, and he hated being with a lot people.
Kierens fifth birthday party was horrific for him as our home was filled
with people, noises, and smells that he hated. He was anxious around all
the people and I knew something was different about him.
So we booked an appointment with a pediatrician who also deals with brain
issues and thought he might have some sensory issues to deal with.
But in March she diagnosed Keller with autism and everything changed in
our world.
The definition of autism is that it is a spectrum of brain development
disorders. Something in the brain is not developing properly and the
symptoms are varying but mostly include difficulties in social interaction,
communication, and often show repetitive behaviors.
Keller is almost two and only has a few words and deeply struggles with
social interactions with people unless he feels completely safe. So now
among his most feared places include this church on a Sunday morning.
We did not even know what autism was when we got this diagnosis and
having a child who doesnt communicate or interact socially is basically the
opposite of everything we are as a family.
It has been so difficult to get our heads around what this is, and what is
more complex than this disorder is the myriad of ways you can treat it.
Already we have four therapists for Keller and the list will only continue to
grow. We basically treat the symptoms of autism but it is unknown how
you get autism and it is also unknown how Kellers life will look.
Some people with autism grow up nonverbal and unable to live alone.
Others grow up to be prodigies in math and science. Still others develop
and eventually lose their diagnosis and lead completely normal lives.
Kellers future is unknown and that is very hard for us. I feel like a dark
cloud has formed over our home and every thought, moment, and
interaction is tainted with the sad reality that Keller has autism. The future
is unknown and this has been a scary and sad place for me.

All these questions and fears and feelings I have laid down at the throne of
God. We have not run from God or blamed God, we have run to Him.
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We have fallen at His feet and asked Him to carry us and guide our every
day.

But we have also learned that surrendering everything to God, bringing
ourselves to Him, praying with everything in our guts, doesnt mean that
God will change our circumstances.
Many of you know this place. Sometimes we pray with everything in us for
something to change, for the darkness to lift, for a different result, and God
doesnt seem to show up in the way we want.
For us, we believe that God is going to do miraculous things in Kellers life.
We believe His story is for Gods glory. But those are our visions for
tomorrow and today is still dark.
There are times when even though we know tomorrow is a new day; our
today is dark and difficult.
This has been my story and I want to share what God has done in my dark
moments.
In my todays God has just been with me. I have cried out to God for
answers and dreams and hopes for the future and I have not heard what is
to come. But I know what is today. God is today. God is with us. God is
for us.
I have found solace in much of Gods word during this time, but Romans 8
has been a place where I have found Gods voice and also wrestled with
Him confused on His goodness and promises. This is what we read in
Romans 8:

Romans 8
35 Who shall ever separate us from Christs love? Shall suffering and affliction
and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or
destitution or peril or sword?
36 Even as it is written, For Thy sake we are put to death all the day long; we
are regarded and counted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing
victory through Him Who loved us.
38 For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor
angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to
come, nor powers,
39 Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to
separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Paul is writing this book to both Jews and Gentiles in the city of Rome.
There are many things these people are struggling with, but one thing all
people wrestle with is trial and tribulations and how to find God in them.
It is evident that Paul wants to lock closed the case for every follower of
Christ who wonders if God has forgotten them. For every believer that
thinks they have committed the worst sin and God cant forgive them. For
every time a believer thinks this is the end and God isnt real. Paul says that
there is nothing that can ever separate us from Gods love.
There are things that happen all the time in this world that make us wonder,
WHERE IS GOD IN THIS?
Just now in Ocean View as the fighting and gang violence increases. I have
already heard people say where is God in this? Where is the church? Why
arent Christians praying? But I dont think that is the right answer. In fact
it sounds just like the really bad friends of Job who said that Job must have
done something wrong to cause all the pain and darkness that was being
inflicted on his life. But Jobs friends were wrong, and we knew it from the
beginning of the story. Job was a righteous man and there was nothing he
had done wrong, and yet his life was filled with darkness and terror.
Just because we encounter hardships and difficulties doesnt mean we have
an unconfessed sin or that God is punishing us. Bad things happen to bad
people and bad things happen to good people.
The Lord give and the Lord takes away. This is the ebb and flow of life, not
the justice and judgment of God.
So what happens when things go wrong and we are in the dark and there is
no one to blame? What do we do where the problems persist and the
answers dont come and the darkness is still there in the morning?

Well Romans 8 tells us, but its easy to miss. Romans 8 says that we are
more than conquerers in Christ Jesus, but it doesnt say what we will
conquer.
We ASSUME that we will conquer our situation or our debt or our
wayward family member or our trial or our joblessness or our own pain and
hurt. We ASSUME that is what Paul means we will conquer so we look and
wait and pray and wait and wait and wait. And we think God has forgotten
us.
But God has never forgotten us. God will never leave or forsake us and
nothing separates us from his love. So what do we conquer? We conquer
facing our trials alone.
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We might face trials, we might be in darkness, we might pass through
hardship but we will do it with Christ and His love. We will always have
Him with us and he will never leave our side. You are always the conquerer.
When go through trials and darkness we are not separated from Christ but
instead we get a more intimate and thrilling experience of Jesus love
When our flesh and our life and our own dreams die than Christ can truly
live in us
Galatians 2:20 says, My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is
no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly
body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself
for me.
Even though in the worlds eyes you may be suffering and withering away,
inside you have the advantage of a firmer faith and a deeper love with God
that could only be developed through trial. You are always the conquerer.

Here is what is revealed in our trials. What is revealed is what we treasure.
When we are separated from happiness we grieve. When we are separated
from health we grieve. When we are separated from easiness of life we
grieve. When we are separated from what we want in life we grieve. But in
all these things we are not separated from Jesus Christ
This shows me my ultimate value. Ultimately I want Jesus but I also want
my health and my children and my happiness and the world the way I want
it.
Jesus says in this world you will have troubles but he says that HE WILL
BE WITH US.
The Holy Spirit is the comforter who was sent to be near us every moment
of every day. We are never separated from the love of Christ, no matter
how dark the days, and THAT IS the treasure.
And I think that is sometimes why God allows the dark days, so we
remember what the treasure truly is. The treasure isnt the light of our lives,
the treasure is the light of CHRIST. The goal isnt a happy world the goal is
JESUS. And sometimes it is ONLY through the struggles that we realize
the truest treasure in our world, otherwise we are blinded by the world.
Sometimes we can only understand that we are crucified with Christ when
everything in our lives is crucified and we let Jesus truly be raised in us.
Psalm 73:26 says, My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the
strength of my heart and my portion forever.
So whatever you are facing, whatever you are feeling, however dark the road
may seem right now, know that in Christ we are more than conquerors.
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And what that means is that you WILL conquer your situation. Now it
might not mean you will conquer it in the way you perceive or prefer, but
you will conquer. You will survive. You will thrive.
That is because thriving in Jesus how thriving in the world sees it. Thriving
in Jesus is always being loved by Jesus. Always being closer to Jesus.
Always knowing the heart of Jesus. And that is the victory you will always
win. You will conquer everything in your world because you will always
have the ultimate treasure with you, and that is Jesus Christ. You are
ALWAYS the conquerer.

PRAY