A Blessed Discomfort

Love One Another

What follows is NOT an ordinary, run-of-the-mill blessing.  Some would undoubtedly wish for one, and others anticipating what follows, will skip this blog.  It happens all the time.  But, at distinct times, the Holy Spirit surgically slices through our foggy-ness and illuminates us to ourselves.

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers,
half truths, and superficial relationships,
so that you may live deep within your heart.

 

May God bless you with anger at injustice,
oppression, and exploitations of people,
so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

 

May God bless you with tears to shed for those
who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war,
so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them
and to turn their pain into joy.

 

And may God bless you with enough foolishness
to believe that you can make a difference in this world,
so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

–From a Franciscan Benediction

Blessed with discomfort, anger, tears and foolishness.  Too often, we often think our discipleship as a massive undertaking for a personal renovation.  And when that does happen, thank God!   But we must drive this home, spiritual make-overs are not the point of holy living! 

We are directed to engage the world and to hammer away at the lies, in order to free people, under the direct supervision of the Holy Spirit.  When we serve, give, love, we will be surprised to find that our own lives will change, almost as an after-thought. Just maybe, that is what God intends? Maybe.

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

Matthew 25:40, NLT

 

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Is Jesus Enough?

 

Is Jesus enough? This is a penetrating question which begs for a response.    The world would dismiss this as religious fervor run amok. But the whole Bible still asks this vital question. Jesus desires us to have Him as our first love.

Is heaven enough?   Sometimes I don’t think about eternity for months at a time.  Older saints remind me that they are getting prepared for eternity.  A strong belief in heaven should uproot “besetting sins.”  Heaven is my ultimate destination.

Will I be willing to forego the things of this world now?  It seems I live for this present moment with no urge to “store up riches in heaven.” There isn’t room for my things in God’s kingdom. You ‘ll never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer. (At least I haven’t.)

These three questions may seem harsh and fanatical, but they are questions that beg a response. Positively put they are as follows:

  1. Jesus deserves my love and the totality of my being.
  2. Heaven and all its glory awaits me (and my family and friends).
  3. I want to renounce the things of this world and replace them with the things of the next.

Perhaps these are the starting point. Maybe they are kind of necessary for today’s discipleship.  I simply submit them for your consideration.  I certainly share this out of love for you to think about.

“The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

2 Timothy 4:18

“My home is in Heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.”

    –Billy Graham

 

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Go Lower Yet

footwashing

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”

John 13:14

Some Christians reading this part of scripture, have concluded that foot washing should be part of the Churches customary routine.  Their case is compelling, and they may be right in their interpretation.  There is as much support for this as with other things, and Lord knows we could use the humility by getting on your knees with a basin and towel before a brother.  It probably would relieve issues between saints. It may even heal Church splits. (Oh my!)

Jesus pronounced that His act of service was to be imitated by everyone who would follow.  He further would assert that His example would be emulated by every believer that followed after Him.  Our service to our brother, or sister is to help them become clean Christians.  We have this ministry of the basin and towel to remove the dirt and filth that comes from walking in this world.  Of course, we cannot remove sins.  But we can serve as Jesus would and intervene with His power.

Cleansing people we encounter will be a demanding challenge.  It will call us to strip our lives down to a minimum, and to get lower.  We need to get so low that we’re on the floor.  This requires much grace and discipline.  We must weed out every pretense and pride–especially the kind that says, “Look at me serving; am I not wonderful?  I am a true disciple now.”  We are to shake off thoughts like that.  We are to love others, and be brutal on ourselves. (Not in a morbid way, just less of ‘yourself.’)

While in my first year of Bible college, I developed a bitter dislike for a classmate.  He had been a lead guitarist; he was handsome and popular, and he oozed pride from every pore (at least I could see it).  I actually took it on myself to be God’s hand in humbling him.  I became antagonistic and scorned him every chance I could.

Within days, my prayer life shut down, the heavens became brass.  One day I was praying and the Holy Spirit graciously zapped me.  I became aware of my sin toward my brother, and I repented. There was a real definite leading, to find a basin and a towel, and then to wash his feet.

God reconciled us, as I kneeled at his feet in that dorm room.  From that point on we became very good friends.

We must go lower still.  We must scrub our way into the heart of our sister and brother with a basin and towel.  Water always finds the lowest point, were it pools and gathers.  When we lower ourselves even deeper we find His presence waiting for us.  But we must cleanse our own hands first, and His blood must work its ministry on me. It’s then I can proceed to clean the filth off of their feet.  If I am not clean myself I will only perpetuate the dirt on to my brother with my dirty hands.

The challenge for us is exceptionally real.  Christlikeness will always demand this humble grace.  When we think about being like Jesus we must make sure we are following the Jesus in the Bible.  The Jesus who washed dirty feet as a slave.

Let us not have any foolish nonsense of a discipleship that doesn’t kneel before our brothers in humility.

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Getting Past Your Past

Shame

“For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.” 

2 Corinthians 7:10, NLT

“You will have mercy on us again; 
 You will conquer our sins.
 You will throw away all our sins
 into the deepest part of the sea.”  

Micah 7:19, NCV

My own past has been particularly brutal and ugly.  I have done quite a few evil things in my lifetime which I am ashamed of.  Regret and sorrow over my sins frequently troubles me.  And I have to come back to seeing my sins covered by His blood. See https://brokenbelievers.com/my-story/

“Properly remembering our past sins with shame will deter us from repeating them and help us receive God’s saving grace.  When we recall our failures through the lens of Christ’s mercy, God produces in us ongoing repentance and deepening humility.” 

–Robert D. Jones

I have walked in self-hatred for many years.  I know all about loathing, fear and paranoia over my evilness.  These things have handicapped me spiritually, and hating yourself is a terrible way to live.  My struggles with guilt and regret have deepened my sense of despair and depression.  I find that I am ashamed of my shame.

I have included in this post the lyrics to Bob Bennett’s song “Lord of the Past”.  He is a gifted song writer, and an exceptional guitar player.  (I can’t find it on Youtube.com).  If you’re like me, you will find that you resonate with those who have been assaulted by the past. We now speak a common language, and we understand each other. 

LORD OF THE PAST
Bob Bennett
© 1989 Matters Of The Heart Music (ASCAP)  

Every harsh word spoken
Every promise ever broken to me
Total recall of data in the memory
Every tear that has washed my face
Every moment of disgrace that I have known
Every time I’ve ever felt alone

  Lord of the here and now
Lord of the come what may
I want to believe somehow
That you can heal these wounds of yesterday
(You can redeem these things so far away)
So now I’m asking you
To do what you want to do
Be the Lord of the Past
(Be the Lord of my Past)
Oh how I want you to
Be the Lord of the Past

All the chances I let slip by
All the dreams that I let die in vain
Afraid of failure and afraid of pain
Every tear that has washed my face
Every moment of disgrace that I have known
Every time I’ve ever felt alone

Well I picked up all these pieces
And I built a strong deception
And I locked myself inside of it
For my own protection
And I sit alone inside myself
And curse my company
For this thing that has kept me alive for so long
Is now killing me.
And as sure as the sin rose this morning,
The man in the moon hides his face tonight.
And I lay myself down on my bed
And I pray this prayer inside my head

  Lord of the here and now
Lord of the come what may
I want to believe somehow
That you can heal these wounds of yesterday
So now I’m asking you
To do what you want to do
Be the Lord of my Past
You can do anything
Be the Lord of the Past
I know that you can find a way
To heal every yesterday of my life
Be the Lord of the Past.

aabryscript

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When It is Far Too Dark

sad-guy-alone

Practical Thinking: When the Darkness Overwhelms

Depression has been called the “common cold” of mental disorders, and one source estimates that it disrupts the lives of 30 to 40 million Americans. For many, a “cold” isn’t even close to describing their depression; it is very challenging and destructive.

Here are several things that you can do right now:

  • Avoid being alone.  Force yourself to be with people. (I know “force” is a strong word, but if that is what it takes!)
  • Seek help from others. This will require some humility.  Reach out to someone who will understand.
  • Sing. Music can uplift your spirit as it did for King Saul (1 Samuel 16:14-23). Get an iPod and fill it with good music. It is worth it.
  • Praise and give thanks.  This can really push back the darkness.  “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
  • Lean heavily on the power of God’s Word. Write out verses; listen to the teachers on Christian radio.
  • Rest confidently in the presence of God’s Spirit. “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance” Psalm 42:5.  Remember that God is not against you, He is on your side.

“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

Romans 8:31-32

“God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that he won’t stop before it is complete on the day that Christ Jesus returns”

Philippians 1:6

Keep coming back to Brokenbelievers.  On this site you will find a lot of good teaching which can help you sort things out.  And if you “comment” on any post I will receive it, usually within a few hours at the most.  I’m not a medical professional, however I’m an evangelical pastor, with my own history of mental illness and major medical problems.  I will get right back to you.  And I can pray.

 

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See the book Healing for Damaged Emotions for more details, David A. Seamands, Healing for Damaged Emotions (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Chariot Victor Books, 1991) (ISBN: 0896939383). )

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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 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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What Could Have Been

What do you regret? As a believer it is already forgiven.

“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future.”  

~Fulton Oursler

Regret is an ugly thing. Dictionary.com describes “regret” as, to feel remorse for, or to feel sorrow over. It is a difficult emotion for us, as there can be a dissatisfaction, or sorrow or remorse over, it can be a paralysis of sorts. It is the kind of personal sorrow about ones behavior in a certain situation, that can be overwhelming.

There will always be a deep sense of loss for “what could have been.”

I regret many things, my mind works as an active recorder. Future life continues its relentless advance, and there is from the past a constant awareness of darkness, failure and sin.

There are some who have no idea what I’m talking about. I might as well be speaking Chinese. But there are others who will “spark” on what I have just stated. Regret for many of us, is savage and bitter.

Not a day goes by when the voice of darkness doesn’t speak to us. My thinking is that it may be more reasonable to take a baseball bat across your femurs, and dealing with broken legs, than handling regret gone viral.

We think “about what could have been.” We imagine life without regret, of things we might have done not having this dark burden. However, these possible choices are things we can never be sure of.

In my younger days I dreamed of attending college, and then going to seminary. I really thought that I wanted to be a pastor, in some small Lutheran church in the Midwest. But this would never happen. It was just an aspiration, a dream. And it wasn’t reality (even though I wish it had been).

I assure you there are much nastier and blacker regrets, there are things of which I am profoundly ashamed. But my point is this, they exist, they do unsettle us, and the present moment is corrupted by my past behavior.

You are not unique or alone. There are millions of sincere Christian believers who face what you are facing.

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

1 Cor. 10:13, NLT

I must tell you that there is a spiritual war. Satan is the enemy of our souls. He will bring to your mind fear and confusion. In scripture, he is called “the accuser of the brethren.” He has a diabolical ministry is to bring you down. He operates out of pure hatred, and he will never show you mercy.

We must develop a more scriptural method of wrapping up our minds in God’s Word. It stops and then alters the spiritual radiation from the enemy. The Word has tremendous power to halt the enemies attack. Ephesians 6:10ff tells of spiritual armor that must be utilized and worn.

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”

Ephesian 6:13

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