Putting It Simply

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“But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:41-42, ESV

I tend to over-think things a lot. Everything gets so darn complicated. Often there is ‘a paralysis of analysis’ that gels into something stagnant and murky. I am definitely not the decisive person I admire from a distance. My illness is such that I can easily become “immobilized” in making simple decisions.

But I am aware of my desperate need of Christ Himself. My many issues demand a ‘heavy duty’ Savior, one who is capable of handling them. I guess I have tried many ‘gods’ and I haven’t found any of them who can take the load like Jesus can.

All that He has done in the Gospels, and all that He does presently declares to me his trustworthiness and power. My admiration for Christ as my Savior and Deliverer is written on the pages of the Bible. His present day ministry to me (and many others) is consistent with what I read about him in the Word.

And it is amazingly simple, when you think it through. He lived, died, and rose again for those ‘rebels’ who deserve death. The simplicity is profound. I do not have to be a Nobel Prize winner to understand. Without cheapening ‘redemption’ He has reduced things to a straightforward idea. He dies in my place, and now gives me his life to live.

I want to listen to Him. I want to come so close that I can hear the very inflection of his voice when he does speak to me. You see, we are built as communicators, and that is the part that ‘small gods’ can’t provide. They’re merely ‘dead idols.’

I so want to please him, even if he corrects me.

I want to learn at his feet, just as Mary did at her home in Bethany. Often I feel like I will probably be ‘the least of all the disciples’, but I’m okay with that. After all, it’s all about Him.

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“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

Revelation 3:20

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Animated Dust

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18 “I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

Luke 15:18-19, NLT

“In the same way, when you obey me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.’”

Luke 17:10

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I admit it. I am flawed. I am a contradiction inside of an enigma– at times more a devil than an angel. And today I fancy no pretenses to righteousness. But I can tell you all about sin, I’m thinking that maybe I’ll sell tickets. I’m the spiritual version of “the elephant man.” But yet, I still know that I’m completely loved and secure through faith.

I’m convinced that God’s ability to hold me outweighs all of my sin. His mercy is continually refreshed and continues to exceed my iniquity by a massive margin. I can try to blame my erratic behavior on my mental illness, as I’m reasonably certain that it has something to do with things.

“At best we are but clay, animated dust; but viewed as sinners, we are monsters indeed. Let it be published in heaven as a miracle that the Lord Jesus should set His heart’s love upon people like us.”

Alistair Begg

I will never have it together. At best I can only keep coming back to this Grace that has decided “to never let me go.” I only stand, only because He makes it so.  I’ve given up trying to be worthy enough. I seem to chase a ‘laser pointer’ like a over-caffeinated cat, and it is starting to get a little old. (But maybe this time I’ll finally catch it.) Writer Anne Lamott wryly explained her own issues:

“I thought such awful thoughts that I cannot even say them out loud because they would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish.” 

Anne Lamott

The Holy Scriptures never put human beings on a pedestal. We are never seen as noble or excellent specimens of righteousness. We sin in deed and in thought continually. The parable of the Pharisee and the Tax-collector tells us that a consciousness of sin and a holy God is the only way to be declared just. Both men were rascals, but only one admitted it.

We sin sins of commission and also of omission daily. In fact, I have determined that I have sinned more as a believer than I ever did as a non-believer. This shouldn’t be a surprise, but it is. I’ve been pretty busy the last 32 years. I have been ‘ungodly,’ on more than one occasion.

I want to encourage you today in Him. Life can be such a grind, and your hope anemic. But consider Him who has come for you. Let Jesus take your heaviness, ask Him for His peace. A fair exchange, don”t you think?

Pastor Bryan Lowe
Pastor Bryan Lowe

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Love Means You’re Real

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“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” -

1 John 3:18

 Often people will look at someone, and try to figure them out– they listen to their words or vocabulary.  They examine the things we say, and also the way we say it. But according to John, this a flawed way of discerning legitimacy.

Love, in his eyes, is most assuredly “doing.”  Speaking falls really short.  Our words, although important, are an insufficient way of proving authenticity.  When you listen closely, even the best fall short.  Love is not expressed by being profound or eloquent in our speech. We can shout out the truth and never show love at all.  That is disturbing, but when will we figure out that love is a verb.

“Actions and in truth.”  This standard propels us to another level.  To act and reveal, puts us on a sound and sure level of discipleship.  It means that we will not just say things that sound really good and wise.  But we would “do love” and not just be talking about it.  I can quite easily mimic the dialect of love.  I verbalize so much that is just plain goofy and nonsense.  My eloquent words simply fog and darken.  They are not real.  (If it were real, I would “do.”)

John is calling us believers to a much more real kind of love. 

If we do adjust ourselves to this, it alters and shapes us into authentic believers.  Admittably, this can be frightening, and something that will disturb us deeply.  Even as mature believers, we will avoid it and try to “imitate” something else.  It’s not only easier, but less dangerous.  And to love is to be profoundly dangerous.

We are expressly called to do, and not to say.  No questions about our words, and speech–they are significant.  But our deeds, putting love into acts and deeds is vital, critically so.  Being a doer, and not just a speaker, is the descriptive essence of the real believer.  We must do, and then we can say.

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Battle Scars

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It is a bad habit to try to teach without personal knowledge. We can preach, but we do not possess. This is one of the occupational hazards of those of us in our profession. It seems to carry a horrible curse of spiritual sterility, that the wise believer ultimately sees.

It’s been 11 years since a diagnosis of Bipolar 1 was made. I believe I was BP in my teens. Life is a roller-coaster for me, up and down, with a twist or two along the way. I am now fairly aware at 53 that much of my earthly existence  has already been lived. Life can become such a grind. I’m tired and broken, and ready for eternity.

“One should go to sleep as homesick passengers do, saying, “Perhaps in the morning we shall see the shore.”

Henry Ward Beecher

Billy Bray (a bearer of an unfortunate name) was an illiterate Cornish evangelist in the 1850s. He was heard to pray this: “Lord, if any have to die this day, let it be me, for I am ready.” By faith, I do understand these sentiments. I am ready to go as well.

I love collecting good quotes. (I also have a site at http://www.CrossQuotes.org.) But here’s two more good ones:

“God buries His workmen but carries on His work.”   -Charles Wesley

“If we really think that home is elsewhere and that this life is a “wandering to find home,” why should we not look forward to the arrival?”  – C.S. Lewis

Sorry if I’m being maudlin. But the battle is so long, and it doesn’t ever let up, does it? We all can become weary after a while. What we need is to be ‘shut in’ with the Lord. The Word reminds us:

Strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God”  (Acts 14:22)

“Tribulations” are common, and each must battle through them. And without being melodramatic, we each must walk through the blazing furnace. But I can also boldly attest that there is more than enough grace for each of us. We just need to become desperate enough. (Which shouldn’t be too hard).

Armor is given. Wearing it means you’ll survives (and thrive) to see another day. Those who may suggest that the Christian life is a “bed of roses,” I would say that they haven’t read Ephesians 6. If there is no war, why would the Holy Spirit tell us to put it on?

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Eph. 6:10-11).

We are starting to finally learn we must fall in love with Jesus. He receives us with a massive kind of love. And His mercy meets us at every doubtful corner. You have His Word on it. Simply ask Him to come to you. 

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Kyrie eleison, Bryan

(Lord, have mercy.)