Sinner Friendly?

When a sinful woman in that town found out that Jesus was there, she bought an expensive bottle of perfume. 

Luke 7:37

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It is wonderful how genuine goodness draws to itself the unfortunate, the troubled, the friendless, the outcast, the fallen. Wherever Jesus went, these classes always found him out and gathered about him. It was because he was the true, disinterested friend of all men. They found sympathy in him. He would listen to their story. Though he was the sinless One, there was yet no air of “I am holier than thou” about him. He was just as gentle to an outcast sinner as to a spotless Nicodemus. No matter who reached out a hand for help, he was ready to grasp it. One of the truest things ever said of Jesus was the prophetic word concerning him, “A bruised reed shall he not break.” He dealt always most gently with sore spirits and with bruised hearts.

Those who want to be useful in this world must have the same qualities. There is a kind of human “holiness” that draws nobody to itself, but rather repels; genuine holiness, however, wins its way everywhere into men’s hearts. The secret of it all is in living “not to be ministered unto, but to minister;” in considering one’s self not too good to serve the unworthiest of God’s creatures. If we stay in this world to be served, we shall be of no manner of use. But if we live to minister to others, yearning to be of service to every one we meet, our life will be something worth. The hungry-hearted and the soul-needy will be drawn to us, and God will love to put work into our hands.

We need, too, to train ourselves to exceeding gentleness in dealing with human souls in their spiritual crises. Many earnest people, in the excess of their zeal, so incalculable harm to those whom they greatly desire to help. People with sore and bruised hearts usually need loving sympathy and strong, kindly friendship much more than they need theology. –JR Miller

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‘Behold, a gluttonous man, and a drunkard, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners!’ 

Luke 7:34

“A pharisee is hard on others and easy on himself, but a spiritual man is easy on others and hard on himself.” 

A.W. Tozer

 

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When God Makes Toast

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“The sinners in Zion are terrified;
    trembling grips the godless:
“Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire?
    Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?”

Isaiah 33:14, NIV

There is a strange lack in the Church, and quite frankly, it is disturbing. Our churches have operated on nothing for so long, what we think is normal isn’t even close. We really should compare ourselves to the young Church in the early chapters of the Book of Acts. Each believer had his own personal “flame” resting and abiding on them.

“Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.”

Acts 2:2-3

Our churches should be places where we directly encounter the Lord God. I would like to suggest that our elders, and our ushers, start handing out life-preservers, and flares. (Rafts, of course, should be readily available.) For who can know what will happen when we make “first contact” with the Living God. All provision for survival should be made. Ambulances should become routine when the Church meets. Agape love can completely undo us. It seems meeting with God is a bit like dwelling in a nuclear reactor, of love and of mercy and grace.

When God’s presence rips into us full blast, we will have to decide whether to take Him in His tumultuous power, or walk away unscathed. Do we fully understand the power that we so blithely invoke? We often tolerate something less, to see that our life isn’t turned upside down. Perhaps we reason, or think, that this is the most terrible thing that could happen to us. But His special grace just can’t be filtered out, or eliminated, without changing the gospel.

We are bread in His toaster. He sears us with divine grace. (He then slathers us with ‘butter.’) Something akin to a deep agape love singes on us, and perhaps we might easily ignite. But perhaps that is what it is all about anyway, isn’t it?

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Invisible Pain

I posted this recently on my blog, Linda Kruschke’s Blog. This post was inspired by a flare up of my fibromyalgia. One of my fellow bloggers who has bipolar commented that the pain of bipolar is also a form of invisible pain. It occurred to me then that this is a perfect post for the encourament of broken believers, many of whom struggle with some form of invisible pain, whether physical or mental pain.

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I really didn’t want to write about fibromyalgia, but then I realized that sharing my struggles with this syndrome might help someone else who struggles with invisible pain.

When someone breaks a leg, or suffers a severe burn, or is covered with cuts and bruises it is easy for people to see what is wrong and to sympathize. But the pain of fibromyalgia is invisible pain. From the outside the person suffering with the pain of fibromyalgia looks just fine, and so people don’t understand what they are going through.

It is also an unpredictable pain with no easily determinable cause or trigger. One day you feel just fine and you wake up the next day feeling like you got run over by a freight train. I’ve gone for months feeling fine, with very little pain, then suddenly every muscle in my body aches and certain movements cause sharp pains in my legs, arms, and neck.

I try to figure out why. I’ve had doctors give me conflicting theories of what causes this pain, and I have read conflicting theories as well. One doctor told me it is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Another has told me it is caused by what I eat, by an inability of my muscles to process sugar that results in toxins in my muscles. Another suggested it is a symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that stems from some early trauma. I have also read that there is a strong link between fibromyalgia and Epstein Bar Virus (or mononucleosis), which I had when I was in junior high. Finally, I have read that it is simply hereditary.

The pain of fibromyalgia is truly invisible. There is no medical test that shows whether someone has fibromyalgia. There is a “tender point” test in which the doctor checks 18 designated tender points on the body and if 11 or more are tender to the touch a diagnosis of fibromyalgia can be made. But even that test is somewhat subjective.

All my life I have felt pain in circumstances where someone else thought I shouldn’t have felt pain. I can remember saying something hurt when I was a kid only to be told, “That didn’t hurt.” This summer I experienced pain from something that didn’t seem like it should hurt. I was at my cousin’s house in Houston and his granddaughter was playing with three pine cones. She kept handing them to me to play with, but the sharp points started to really hurt my hands. I said I didn’t want to play anymore because it made my hands hurt. My sister looked at me and asked, “Does that really hurt?”

Invisible pain. It’s difficult to cope with sometimes. But I know that Jesus knows how I feel, and that give me a great deal of comfort. Although the pain Jesus experienced when He was scourged, beaten, and crucified was quite visible, He experienced an invisible pain, too. He experienced the pain of having the sin of the world laid upon Him and of His Father turning away as He cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46 (NIV).

If you struggle under the weight of invisible pain, take heart that you are not alone. Christ understands your suffering and your pain. You also have fellow Christians who understand what you are going through. The apostle Peter provided for us who suffer a wonderful encouragement in his first epistle:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a 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.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 

1 Peter 5:6-11 (NIV).

Satan would love to devour us in our pain, to make us fall and cease to be of use in God’s kingdom. But if we cling to Jesus, cast all of our fears and anxiety on Him, He will help us to defeat Satan’s plans. If you are struggling with invisible pain and feeling like you are at your wit’s end, leave me a comment and I would love to pray for you. It would be a blessing to me to be able to ask our Lord to strengthen you and give you peace and comfort, that you might be enabled to stand firm in your faith. Would you do the same for me?

ysic, Linda K.

http://lindakruschke.wordpress.com/

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Against the Cosmic Powers

Perfectly safe.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places”.

Ephesians 6:12, ESV

Satan attacks us in two distinct and recognizable ways.

First, he stirs up our desires and inflames our appetites for sin. He is very good at this. He knows all about you, and what you like.

Second, he accuses us of committing an evil against God. Scripture identifies him as “the accuser of the brethren.” He condemns us as perverse, rebellious, seditious and evil. “See what an evil wretch you are, your heart is small, black and hard.”

But the believer will run to the cross, and hold on. He will hear the blood of Jesus cry out for his soul. In this simple act of obedience and faith, he allows Jesus Christ to deliver him/her from darkness. There is absolutely nothing to be done except this, and this is enough. Sin can never hold a broken believer, who has a child’s heart of humility.

“And thus I shall always do, whenever you leave me to myself.” ~Brother Lawrence

I cannot fight this dark battle in and of myself. I have neither the armament nor the understanding to take on “cosmic powers”. I must become broken, and weak, and then the Spirit will shelter me. Being manic depressive can actually be of help. I know my own weakness, and it lays me at the feet of my Lord, with no pretenses of strength.

Romans 8:31-32, The Message reads like this,

“So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen?”

It is the ‘nerd’s’ dream, of being absolutely protected from his tormentors by someone with superpowers. And scripture makes it clear that this is not far from the truth. God defends us not just because he loves us, he protects us because his reputation is on the line.

“Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture (verses 33-34, the Message)

Oh struggling saint, you cannot battle alone. Apart from him, you can do nothing. Spiritually, cover yourself with the righteousness of Jesus. Do not venture out against these dark forces, when you have the love of One who cannot fail.

aabryscript

 

 

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That Awful Wasteland of Alzheimers

alzheim

What is Alzheimer’s disease (AD)?

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks of daily living. In most people with AD, symptoms first appear after age 60. AD is the most common cause of dementia among older people, but it is not a normal part of aging. Dementia refers to a decline in cognitive function that interferes with daily life and activities.

AD starts in a region of the brain that affects recent memory, then gradually spreads to other parts of the brain. Although treatment can slow the progression of AD and help manage its symptoms in some people, currently there is no cure for this devastating disease. AD is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German doctor. In 1906, Dr. Alzheimer described changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness. He found abnormal clumps (now called amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (now called neurofibrillary tangles). alzheimers-brain

Today, these plaques and tangles in the brain are considered hallmarks of AD. The third main feature of AD is the gradual loss of connections between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. This loss leads to diminished cell function and cell death. We don’t know what starts the AD process, but we do know that damage to the brain begins as many as 10 to 20 years before any obvious signs of forgetfulness appear. As nerve cells die throughout the brain, affected regions begin to shrink. By the final stage of AD, damage is widespread, and brain tissue has shrunk significantly.

How many Americans have AD?

According to recent estimates, as many as 2.4 million to 4.5 million Americans have AD. Unless the disease can be effectively treated or prevented, the number of people with AD will increase significantly if current population trends continue. That’s because the risk of AD increases with age, and the U.S. population is aging. The number of people age 65 and older is expected to grow from 39 million in 2008 to 72 million in 2030, and the number of people with AD doubles for every 5-year interval beyond age 65. In the years to come, AD is expected to pose physical and emotional challenges for more and more families and other caregivers, in addition to those with the disease. The growing number of people with AD and the costs associated with the disease also will put a heavy economic burden on society.

How long can a person live with AD?

AD is a slow disease that starts with mild memory problems and ends with severe brain damage. The time from diagnosis to death varies—as little as 3 or 4 years if the person is older than 80 when diagnosed to as long as 10 or more years if the person is younger. Other factors that affect how long a person will live with AD include the person’s sex, the presence of other health problems, and the severity of cognitive problems at diagnosis.

What is dementia?

Dementia is a general term that refers to a decline in cognitive function so extensive that it interferes with daily life and activities. This loss in the ability to think, remember, and reason is not a disease itself, but a group of symptoms that often accompanies a disease or condition. Many conditions and diseases cause dementia. Two of the most common causes of dementia in older people are AD and vascular dementia, which is caused by a series of strokes or changes in the brain’s blood supply. Other conditions that cause memory loss or dementia include:

•medication side effects

•chronic alcoholism

•certain tumors and infections in the brain

•blood clots in the brain

•vitamin B12 deficiency

•dehydration

•high fever

•some thyroid, kidney, or liver disorders

Many of these conditions are temporary and reversible, but they can be serious and should be treated by a doctor as soon as possible. Emotional problems, such as stress, anxiety, or depression, can make a person more forgetful and can be mistaken for dementia. Someone may feel sad, lonely, worried, or bored when facing retirement or coping with the death of a spouse, relative, or friend. Adapting to these changes leaves some people feeling confused or forgetful. Supportive friends and family or professional help from a doctor or counselor can help older adults adjust to big changes.   Source: National Institute of Aging, http://www.nia.nih.gov/

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