3032

He Was at Home

3032

“A few days later, when Jesus came back to Capernaum, the news spread that he was at home.” 

Mark 2:1

You can’t hide the presence of Jesus.  There is a ‘built-in’ need for Him in the hearts of men and women.  You can’t keep it quiet, it is an open secret.  Believing people let it out in many ways.  You can see it in their faces, and hear it in their voices.  They become gentle and caring, where once was selfishness and anger.  Peace is present, and a wonderful new thing called joy.  They can’t help but share about their new guest, when they speak it spontaneously spills out.

Spring flowers can’t help their beautiful fragrance.  There is a fragrance that announces that He is present.  You might say that He takes over, just as a bright light takes over the darkness.  When Jesus is present, His brightness pushes through the cracks and shines out every window.  He cannot be contained or hidden.  Love itself is invisible.  But it has an effect on all who take it in.  The very presence of Jesus transforms us.

My heart is now His home.

People travel and gather great works of art.  They collect these things of beauty and culture.  They will go out of their way to search for paintings and statues of grace and elegance, and finding them they will spend a great deal of money to obtain them.  But no one or nothing can compare to having Christ as the honored guest. The poorest farmer can be the wealthiest man. No matter how quietly Jesus enters, His presence will soon make itself known.  Where Christ truly abides, nothing but good will be observed.

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.”

Ephesians 3:17, NLT

bry-signat (1)cropped-bbbanner.jpg

 

Our Gentle God Loves Kindness

His hands are gentle

His hands are gentle

When I think “gentleness”, what pops into my mind is my wife holding and caressing my infant daughter almost 20 years ago.  Her touch is soothing.  She softly hums a lullaby.  The farthest thing from her thinking at that quiet moment, is anything  harsh or cruel. 

One of my favorite verses telegraphs the wonderous news, “He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle.”  (Isaiah 42:3, NLT).  God’s temperament is gentle and kind.  He is patient far beyond any human logic.  As a matter of fact, his love seems to be borderline ridiculous.   As believers, we need to get used to His strange proclivities of loving all and turning away none.  I really believe that harshness and cruelty are the furthest thing from His mind or heart.

I for one, am glad God is like this.  When I’m depressed or manic, paranoid or confused, I am so glad that God is not a man.  He doesn’t give up on me, others have marked me off as a discipleship failure, and let me go.  But He loves me even more than a mother loves the baby on her lap.

A.W. Tozer writing on Psalm 18:35: “Your gentleness has made me great.”

“God is easy to live with. Satan’s first attack upon the human race was his sly effort to destroy Eve’s confidence in the kindness of God. Unfortunately for her and for us he succeeded too well. From that day, men have had a false conception of God, and it is exactly this that has cut out from under them the ground of righteousness and driven them to reckless and destructive living.

Nothing twists and deforms the soul more than a low or unworthy conception of God. Certain sects, such as the Pharisees, while they held that God was stern and austere, yet managed to maintain a fairly high level of external morality; but their righteousness was only outward.

Instinctively we try to be like our God, and if He is conceived to be stern and exacting, so will we ourselves be. The truth is that God is the most winsome of all beings and His service one of unspeakable pleasure.

The fellowship of God is delightful beyond all telling. He communes with His redeemed ones in an easy, uninhibited fellowship that is restful and healing to the soul.

He remembers our frame and knows that we are dust. He may sometimes chasten us, it is true, but even this He does with a smile, the proud, tender smile of a Father who is bursting with pleasure over an imperfect but promising son who is coming every day to look more and more like the One whose child he is.”

………………………………

– A.W. Tozer in The Root of the Righteous, pp. 13-16. As quoted in the Banner of Truth Magazine (issue 531; Dec. 2007).

bry-signat (1)

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg

When You Can’t Find an Exit: Psalm 88

No exit, today!

A  Simple Psalm of David

    1 O Lord, God of my salvation,
      I cry out to you by day.
      I come to you at night.
 2 Now hear my prayer;
      listen to my cry.
 3 For my life is full of troubles,
      and death draws near.
 4 I am as good as dead,
      like a strong man with no strength left.
 5 They have left me among the dead,
      and I lie like a corpse in a grave.
   I am forgotten,
      cut off from your care.
 6 You have thrown me into the lowest pit,
      into the darkest depths.
 7 Your anger weighs me down;
      with wave after wave you have engulfed me.
                         Interlude

Psalm 88:1-7, New Living Translation

I definitely needed this Psalm today. Yesterday I went to the doctor and was blindsided by news that really isn’t good, at all.  Of course, I also have this ongoing struggle with depression.  Today I feel like I’m running a marathon with ‘leg weights’ on.  I thank God for David’s depression.  “Thank you God for letting this happen to David!”

This particular Psalm is radically different than the others.  This Psalm has no kind words, and no praise to God for deliverance.  It is a singularly sad song.  Imagine if you will, a huge stone fortress in the mountains.  Every room has a door, and every room a window.  All except one.  No light enters this room.  There is no entrance or exit, no way to get free.  Psalm 88, would describe living that torturous experience.

I like my Psalms to be strengthening or encouraging.  But then comes this one!  his Life unravels and frays.  Everything scrambles and gets confusing. Life comes apart on me.  The thought of being one who is irretrievably lost and damned, tunnels into my thinking, like a strange kind of worm, assaulting my thinking.  The despair is beyond belief, I have no words to describe its special variety of darkness.  But anyone who has walked into this hell will understand.

Am I ‘less’ a Christian because of this vicious despair?  Some would say so.  David in verse 1-2, calls out to God.  (I guess this what you are supposed to do).  There is a sense of consistency in his cry.  In verses 3-5, we see him evaluating his position.  Again, there is a underground current of despair.  There is simply no help, no deliverance for him.

And in verses 6-7 is a painful recognition that God is doing all of this.  It’s a bitter and painful place to be.  There are no explanations why life has gotten so nasty and bitter and out-of-control.  But one thing that Psalm 88 does quite well, it strips you of any dignity that you have left.  I think that there exists a faith behind your faith.  (If that makes any sense at all?)

Now, I will get on my ‘soapbox’.  There is so much embedded in the Psalms.  Comfort, faith, victory and hope are what we find,  and more.  But in Ps. 88, we find a black pearl, the only one of its kind.  Somehow, we dare not leave it behind, just because we don’t understand it.  I’m convinced that it has tremendous power to the disciple in endless pain.  Just vocalizing this Psalm does something to us.  These words help.  This Psalm is ours.  God has provided it for us.

bry-signat (1)

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg

Grace, Without Any Additives

grace1

We have been touched by the light

I believe that God’s grace goes far, far beyond what we have learned up to now.

It  seems everywhere we look in the Gospels we are accosted by extravagant love and bottomless mercy. Jesus fully explains God’s grace; He reveals the true nature of God’s graciousness. Often Jesus’ parables come ‘fully loaded’ and are precise explanations of God’s steady love for people.

When you finally see it, you want it, and you will sell all you have to hold it. Grace is everywhere, and it shouts to us of ‘agape’ love– love without limits, because it is God’s love. Deep inside us is an empty chamber that only grace can fill.

flourish15

“My life is a witness to vulgar grace–a grace that amazes as it offends.  A grace that pays the eager beaver who works all day long the same wages as the grinning drunk who shows up at ten till five.  A grace that hikes up the robe and runs breakneck toward the prodigal reeking of sin and wraps him up and decides to throw a party no ifs, ands, or buts.  A grace that raises bloodshot eyes to a dying thief’s request–’Please, remember me’–and assures him, “You bet!”  

A grace that is the pleasure of the Father, fleshed out in the carpenter Messiah, Jesus the Christ, who left His Father’s side not for heaven’s sake but for our sakes, yours and mine.  This vulgar grace is indiscriminate compassion.  It works without asking anything of us.  It’s not cheap.  It’s free, and as such will always be a banana peel for the orthodox foot and a fairy tale for the grown-up sensibility.  Grace is sufficient even though we huff and puff with all our might to try to find something or someone it cannot cover.  Grace is enough.  He is enough.  Jesus is enough.”

Brennan Manning “All is Grace,“ (everywheregospel.wordpress.com)

bry-signat (1)

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg

Related Links:

http://brokenbelievers.com/2012/11/17/brokenness-depression-brennanmanning/

http://brokenbelievers.com/2012/10/03/ct-interview-with-brennan-manning/