Be Patient, It Will Happen

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18 “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”

2 Corinthians 3:18, NLT

9 “Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.”

Colossians 3:9-10

2 “throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.”

Ephesians 4:22-24

The very essence of your discipleship is to change. Maybe that’s why we are still here on planet Earth. We’re simply learning to be like Jesus. Sometimes we can feel the swirl of frustration and depression. Why is it taking so long? We seem to go through the same lesson over and over again. As a bipolar person, I especially understand this, I ‘bounce’ through life without going anywhere. (I think some will relate.)

My sanity comes from God’s consistency—not my own. One appellation He goes by is the ‘rock.’ This comforts me a great deal. He stays faithful, even when I cannot. He is the singular stable point in the quicksand of living.

In the midst of stripping “off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds,” we will encounter opposition from evil. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil” (Eph. 6:11.) So the battle is within as well as without. I must remind myself of this.

“O God, if in the day of battle I forget You, please do not forget me.”

God supplies all that you need, in spite of these adversities. It can be hard, sometimes it seems like I’ve been ‘slathered in bacon grease’ and let loose in a tiger’s cage. But there can be no victory without opposition. There are three ways to implement sanctification (becoming Christlike.)

  1. You must ‘put off’ your sinful nature
  2. You need to ‘put on’ Christ
  3. You will have to be ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’

This isn’t a formula for Christlikeness, it’s more like lines to help you stay on the path–guidelines. Theoretically, we can simply give these a glancing assent. But that will ‘cut the nerve’ of any victory that you might receive.

One more thing. Prayer is the venue in which this almost always take place. Some pastors wield the need to pray like a club. This is most unfortunate (but be easy onpray1 them, they are still learning to shepherd God’s people.) Overlook much, but learn to pray. At its essence, it is just being alone with God for a few vital minutes. But it also can be more than that. It seems prayer is a ‘microcosm’ of your discipleship.

The struggle for holiness is first won in your prayer closet. There are no short-cuts to speak of— nothing quick or easy. But there are also no time-clocks to punch. Every person is different, but all believers will pray. Pray poorly, pray weakly–but by all means pray.

Be patient. Often it will take some time to make it workable.

“Prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan. “

John Bunyan

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Untangle Me, Again

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Life gets tangled
The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”

Words of David, 1 Samuel 17:37

I wrote this post in February, 2012.

“In recent weeks I’ve gone through a time of profound confusion. My grip on reality has been tenuous at best. I’ve had a struggle with a depersonalizing sense, I seem not to “see” reality as I used to. Everything seems increasingly odd, and disjointed. I see myself outside myself. Everything is knotted up.”

“I have had bouts with this before. And yet every time the Father has “fathered” me. I have been led through each bout. In many ways, the clinical depression has changed, now it slams. It used to be kind of low grade—a grey fog, a steady and tedious despair, but now its more like a black lightning bolt.”

“I have had suicidal urges and thinking. I hate handling a kitchen knife, as I get the urge to plunge it into my chest. It’s funny like that, I call out to Jesus and He truly does find me. He straightens out my knotted life has only He can.”

“This blog initially started off in September 2009 following the idea of “broken believers.” Perhaps it was overly ambitious. But my heart’s desire was to be transparent and very honest. I still want to see this happen, and it does, sometimes. I know I am no super saint with just the right answer for everyone. If I ever made this impression, please forgive me.”

You see, I am the broken believer of this blog.

Tricycle Theology, Psalm 106:1-5

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Johnny’s new trike

A Psalm Study

Psalm 106:1-5, New Living Translation (NLT)

Praise the Lord!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
    His faithful love endures forever.
Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord?
    Who can ever praise him enough?
There is joy for those who deal justly with others
    and always do what is right.

Remember me, Lord, when you show favor to your people;
    come near and rescue me.
Let me share in the prosperity of your chosen ones.
    Let me rejoice in the joy of your people;
    let me praise you with those who are your heritage.

These five verses cap a “Psalm of Rebellion,” tragically found in part two of this psalm (vv. 6-46.)  This work dates to ‘post-exile’ times, and Daniel is believed to have written it. Nehemiah himself quotes from it as he intercedes for the nation upon Israel’s return from captivity.

But these five verses are very different from the rest of the Psalm. They ably serve as a positive introduction to some pretty depressing stuff. I like these first five, they carry a refreshing quality about them. I read them and I’m happy I did.

V. 1, Thanksgiving is to be a normal part of the believer’s life. Imagine little Johnny. He is celebrating his sixth birthday today. His uncle has brought over a gift—a bright red tricycle, with ribbons out of the handlebars! Johnny is estatic, he can’t believe it. Mom steps in and says to him, “What do you say, Johnny?” Johnny thinks. “Thank you, Uncle Ed. This is what I’ve wanted my whole life.”

If the truth be told, Johnny’s response to his uncle’s perfect gift is much like the believer’s response to God. “What do you say, Johnny?” Johnny’s mom would say— and that is what the little guy did. We are to also give thanks. To do is an easy thing, and perhaps does more for us than our Father in heaven.

V.2, “Who can ever praise him enough?” Excessive displays of affection are ‘nothing to roll your eyes at.’ Some wag defined a fanatic as “someone who loves Jesus more than you do.”

V. 3, is an observation by Daniel about the joy available to us if we will only work-out our issues of obedience. This verse might seem out of place, but I assure you its not. It fits in well with vv. 6-46.

V. 4, Remember me, Lord,” contains the desire to be included in the grace that will follow. We should let our heavenly Father know that we want to be part of what He is doing.

V. 5, “Let me” is repeated three times. This phrase is critical to the believer’s walk; it is a statement of submission combined with desire. The writer is asking ‘permission’ from God to become part of the aspects of His kingdom. Matthew 7 gives us the principle that God is looking for. So ask.

8 “For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Matthew 7:8

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Chasing Down Euphoria

“That’s the difference between me and the rest of the world! Happiness isn’t good enough for me! I demand euphoria!” 

Calvin & Hobbes, comic strip

One of the blessings of turning 54 is I come to a place where I can sit and think about my life. I’m intrigued by how it unfolded the way that it did.  I know I can be a bit of an eccentric. But that’s ok. When the warm ocean current of depression and the cold water current of weird personality meet it will  get very tumultuous.  And being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder brings even more issues. But I do admit– I have lived life hard. (Perhaps harder then it had to be.)

I do have a ‘dark side.’ One of the most disturbing areas I had was an almost insatiable thirst for ‘euphoria.’  Both drugs and alcohol, I discovered would put me in the place of exhilaration and elation.  And I longed for anything that would put me in this mental state.  If you had come to me with two hits of ‘acid,’ I would definitely take them both, and not even blink. That has changed since I accepted Christ. The inpulses are tamed by God’s Spirit and Word. (Thank God!)

My quest for euphoria has taken me down some strange paths.  I learned to buy those drugs that would work that special bliss into my being.  But I couldn’t maintain euphoria.  I chased after that idea, without ever achieving it.  LSD, PCP, marijuana, whiskey, cocaine, and  even ‘needles’— all those old standbys have brought me to a false sense of inner freedom.  I tried to stay ‘stoned’ as long as I could. I drank enough vodka to float a battleship.  I was a maniac. Completely out-of-control.

“You will be bruised all over, without even remembering how it all happened. And you will lie awake asking,  “When will morning come, so I can drink some more?” 

Proverbs 23:35, CEV

depressedcomputerThe man who penned this must have knew the back side of getting hammered.  There is a lot of pain in this lifestyle, and not just hangovers and depression. Yet we can’t wait until we can start it all over again.  This love for the high is the precursor to addiction.  Crossing this line is a moment of strange logic for the user, but in reality,  it is a form of mental illness and insanity.

My addictions (which imprinted an ‘addictive personality’) are seldom reasonable.  As I pursue the euphoria (I love to get “high!”) my own ravenous appetite begins to feed off my own personality.  When a dam breaks, it starts at a tiny leak. This can take several years.  But the pressure will slowly continue and then it begins to escalate.  Soon the water pushes through until the dam breaks.  Floods ensue as the lake flows through.  Disaster is just that close.

“You say to each other,  “Let’s drink till we’re drunk!  Tomorrow we’ll do it again.  We’ll really enjoy ourselves.” 

Isa. 56:12, CEV

When we pursue, and then try to purchase our euphoria, we will inevitably end up as drunks and as addicts.  When fixed on the pursuit of carnal pleasure, we end up destroying ourselves, and the lives of those closest to us. When I start hurting others by my actions, I must consider I may have a big problem. Maturity is in part, understanding our desperateness, and then moving beyond it.  But the reality is that we are scarred, and that we continue to escape by “the skin of our teeth” until we die or get sober. Only Christ can save the euphoria-chaser.

Sometimes I’m a piece of work, it’s alright though because I’m His piece of work.

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