Featured

The Only Army that Shoots its Wounded

anxiety (2)

By Dwight L. Carlson

From an article in Christianity Today, February 9, 1998

The only army that shoots its wounded is the Christian army,” said the speaker, a psychologist who had just returned from an overseas ministry trip among missionaries. He summed up the philosophy of the group he worked with as:

1. We don’t have emotional problems. If any emotional difficulties appear to arise, simply deny having them.

2. If we fail to achieve this first ideal and can’t ignore a problem, strive to keep it from family members and never breathe a word of it outside the family.

3. If both of the first two steps fail, we still don’t seek professional help.

I have been a Christian for 50 years, a physician for 29, and a psychiatrist for 15. Over this time I have observed these same attitudes throughout the church—among lay leaders, pastors, priests, charismatics, fundamentalists, and evangelicals alike. I have also found that many not only deny their problems but are intolerant of those with emotional difficulties.

Many judge that others’ emotional problems are the direct result of personal sin. This is a harmful view. At any one time, up to 15 percent of our population is experiencing significant emotional problems. For them our churches need to be sanctuaries of healing, not places where they must hide their wounds.

THE EMOTIONAL-HEALTH GOSPEL

Several years ago my daughter was battling leukemia. While lying in bed in the hospital, she received a letter, which read in part:

Dear Susan, You do not know me personally, but I have seen you in church many times….I have interceded on your behalf and I know the Lord is going to heal you if you just let Him. Do not let Satan steal your life—do not let religious tradition rob you of what Jesus did on the cross—by His stripes we were healed.

The theology behind this letter reminded me of a bumper sticker I once saw: “Health and Prosperity: Your Divine Right.” The letter writer had bought into a “healing in the atonement” theology that most mainstream evangelicals reject.

According to this traditional faith-healing perspective, Christ’s atonement provides healing for the body and mind just as it offers forgiveness of sins for the soul. The writer meant well, but the letter created tremendous turmoil for my daughter. While evangelicals have largely rejected “health and wealth” preaching—that faithful Christians will always prosper physically and financially—many hold to an insidious variation of that prosperity gospel. I call it the “emotional-health gospel.”

The emotional-health gospel assumes that if you have repented of your sins, prayed correctly, and spent adequate time in God’s Word, you will have a sound mind and be free of emotional problems.

Usually the theology behind the emotional-health gospel does not go so far as to locate emotional healing in the Atonement (though some do) but rather to redefine mental illnesses as “spiritual” or as character problems, which the church or the process of sanctification can handle on its own. The problem is, this is a false gospel, one that needlessly adds to the suffering of those already in turmoil.

This prejudice against those with emotional problems can be seen in churches across the nation on any Sunday morning. We pray publicly for the parishioner with cancer or a heart attack or pneumonia. But rarely will we pray publicly for Mary with severe depression, Charles with incapacitating panic attacks, or the minister’s son with schizophrenia. Our silence subtly conveys that these are not acceptable illnesses for Christians to have.

The emotional-health gospel is also communicated by some of our most listened-to leaders. I heard one national speaker make the point that “At the cross you can be made whole. Isaiah said that ‘through his stripes we are healed’ … not of physical suffering, which one day we will experience; we are healed of emotional and spiritual suffering at the cross of Jesus Christ.” In other words, a victorious Christian will be emotionally healthy. This so-called full gospel, which proclaims that healing of the body and mind is provided for all in the Atonement, casts a cruel judgment on the mentally ill.

shooting
Don’t Shoot the Wounded

Two authors widely read in evangelical circles, John MacArthur and Dave Hunt, also propagate views that, while sincerely held, I fear lead us to shoot our wounded. In his book “Beyond Seduction”, Hunt writes, “The average Christian is not even aware that to consult a psychotherapist is much the same as turning oneself over to the priest of any other rival religion,” and, “There is no such thing as a mental illness; it is either a physical problem in the brain (such as a chemical imbalance or nutritional deficiency) or it is a moral or spiritual problem.”

MacArthur, in “Our Sufficiency in Christ”, presents the thesis that “As Christians, we find complete sufficiency in Christ and his provisions for our needs.” While I agree with his abstract principle, I disagree with how he narrows what are the proper “provisions.” A large portion of the book strongly criticizes psychotherapy as one of the “deadly influences that undermine your spiritual life.” He denounces “so-called Christian psychologists and psychiatrists who testified that the Bible alone does not contain sufficient help to meet people’s deepest personal and emotional needs,” and he asserts, “There is no such thing as a ‘psychological problem’ unrelated to spiritual or physical causes.

God supplies divine resources sufficient to meet all those needs completely.” Physically caused emotional problems, he adds, are rare, and referring to those who seek psychological help, he concludes: “Scripture hasn’t failed them—they’ve failed Scripture.”

A PLACE FOR PROFESSIONALS

When adherents of the emotional-health gospel say that every human problem is spiritual at root, they are undeniably right. Just as Adam’s fall in the garden was spiritual in nature, so in a very true sense the answer to every human problem—whether a broken leg or a burdened heart—is to be found in the redeeming work of Christ on the cross. The disease and corruption process set into motion by the Fall affected not only our physical bodies but our emotions as well, and we are just beginning to comprehend the many ways our bodies and minds have been affected by original sin and our fallen nature. Yet the issue is not whether our emotional problems are spiritual or not—all are, at some level—but how best to treat people experiencing these problems.

Many followers of the emotional-health gospel make the point that the church is, or at least should be, the expert in spiritual counseling, and I agree. Appropriate spiritual counseling will resolve issues such as salvation, forgiveness, personal morality, God’s will, the scriptural perspective on divorce, and more. It can also help some emotional difficulties. But many emotional or mental illnesses require more than a church support network can offer.

I know it sounds unscriptural to say that some individuals need more than the church can offer—but if my car needs the transmission replaced, do I expect the church to do it? Or if I break my leg, do I consult my pastor about it? For some reason, when it comes to emotional needs, we think the church should be able to meet them all. It can’t, and it isn’t supposed to.

This is why the emotional-health gospel can do so much harm. People who need help are prevented from seeking it and often made to feel shame for having the problem. Thankfully, more and more people in the Christian community are beginning to realize that some people need this extra help. If professionals and church leaders can recognize the value of each other’s roles, we will make progress in helping the wounded. Forty percent of all individuals who need emotional help seek it first from the church, and some of these will need to be referred to mental-health professionals.

Church leaders should get to know Christian therapists in their communities so they can knowledgeably refer people with persistent emotional problems.

Featured

A Date With the Awl

Body piercing has become pretty much acceptable just in the last ten years.  Studs are placed in a hole or piercing to make a permanent decoration.  I have seen a fair amount of it, and I think that a stud in the tongue has got to be the most intrusive.  (I recently read of a young girl who died after her tongue was pierced from an infection).

There is “body piercing” in scripture.  In Deuteronomy 15:12-18, slaves who are being set free by their master after six years of service, could, if they loved and were loved by their master, could choose to remain a slave to him.

“But if your slave says to you, “I don’t want to leave you,” because he loves you and your family and has a good life with you,17 stick an awl through his ear into the door; he will be your slave for life. Also do this to a female slave.”

Deuteronomy 15:12-18

This was a decision that required elders to act as witnesses.  It was significant as well as completely binding.  I like to think of the ceremony to be kind of a cross between a wedding and a circumcision. (Sounds fun, huh?!)

The slave would be led to a doorpost and the master would take an awl, and push it through his ear lobe.  This designated the slave to be forever “owned” by a specific master.  Herein lies a picture of the Christian.

Many times in the New Testament we are called to be servants (slaves) of Christ.

Peter, Paul, James, and Jude referred to themselves as “bond servants of Jesus Christ” in their epistles.This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is awl-piercing-faith-1.jpg This is not a forced servitude. It’s a choice made in love!

There are many believers who have done the same, they have fallen in love with their Savior.  They do not plan on a life apart from Him.  So spiritually they have gone to the doorpost, the awl is pushed through their ear, and they are marked from that point on.

Although the ear was pierced physically in the Old Testament, a different kind of piercing takes place in the New.  In Romans 6:16 we read,

“Surely you know that when you give yourselves like slaves to obey someone, then you are really slaves of that person. The person you obey is your master. You can follow sin, which brings spiritual death, or you can obey God, which makes you right with him.”

Romans 6:16, (NCV)

When the prodigal son returned home from the far country he fell before his father and humbly ask,make me your servant.” (Luke 15:19,21) He, in essence, was saying to the father, “pierce my ear.” The father made him a son, but the attitude of the son’s heart had changed to the heart of a servant. So it must be with us. Only then will we live a “pierced ear” life, revealing to all that we are servants of Jesus Christ!

“Savior, I know Thou hast allowed me absolute liberty, to serve Thee, or to go my own way. I would serve Thee forever, for I love my Master. I will not go out free. Mark my ear, Lord, that it might respond only to Thy voice.”

— Jim Elliot, Missionary and Martyr

 

Featured

The Power of My Wound

Healing doesn’t happen all at once.
Sexual trauma runs too deep,
is much too complex for simple remedies.

We have no Star Trek sickbay
or magic tricorder
to bind up the wounds,
erase the battle scars.

And would we want to if we could?
Would we walk away,
pretend it never happened,
we were never assaulted
violated… hated… berated…
made to feel shame and doubt?

Could we ignore the very truth of what we
know was wrong… evil… the vilest of all?
Could we simply walk away
and cease to bear witness
for those who come after?
Or maybe for those violated before
our own innocence was vanquished
but are yet to heal at all?

If we could be healed completely
in an instant, in the blink
of a selfish, knowing eye…

But to do so meant leaving
our sisters, our friends,
our daughters, even strangers,
without the hope of #MeToo?

Could we? Should we?

Because to heal 100 percent
I think is to forget every ounce,
every moment, of
the pain and struggle.

And to forget is to lose compassion.
So perhaps it is worth the
ups and downs of scars
that appear healed but sometimes,
more often than we’d like, bleed tears
of understanding helping others
feel not so alone.

Often I pray for complete healing.
For years I prayed to forget.
But then I remember that
without my wound
I am not me.

Without my wound,
the scarring of my heart and soul,
I am powerless.

aasignLinda

AnotherFearlessYear.net

 

Featured

Getting a Grip on Boredom

Monotony can easily become an issue for many. I had been told to be on alert for it, but it seems like I’ve got to learn for myself.

With any chronic illness, there can be something tedious and routine about life. To have a physical or mental illness is acutely painful in many different ways. Afflicted people understand what I’m talking about. Pain can be intense and intrusive. Sometimes these things can become really depressing.

The sheer boredom of my illness can strangle my walk. It seems every day is the same and the foreseeable future holds little hope of it changing. Now I’m a reasonably sedate person. I don’t need a lot of excitement. (I like a good book and a cup of tea.) I’m not after adventure, but I don’t care too much for monotony either.

Brain-numbing existence is quite common for the afflicted.

Many people don’t understand this. Others do. And it’s not limited to us who struggle with illness. It’s seen in other people too. This brain-numbing life happens to many as well. Consider–

  • the single mom working as a secretary
  • the man mopping floors
  • the college grad frying burgers
  • the resident at the old folks’ home, every day is the same

These situations seem inescapable. We see ourselves locked into a situation where escape is not possible. We are consigned to do whatever our circumstances dictate. We’re all trapped. Pure and simple. We can find no meaning in our lives; we start to despair, “Will it ever be different?”

I believe the drabness of our lives can often be attributed to a lack of intimacy with the Lord Jesus. We are built for fellowship with God, and anything else is just “treading water.” Nothing satisfies, except Him present. I need Him desperately.

When I’m filled with hopelessness, I often find myself filling the emptiness with anything I can find. This usually leads to even more sadness and deadness inside. It’s a vicious cycle that destroys as easily as more gross and obvious sin.

When I ponder my hopelessness I feel like giving up. I simply don’t want to take another step into the doldrums of what my life has become. I despair that life will continue its suffering grind.

I must have joy in order to survive.

“The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10). I don’t have to dwell in the grey drabness of hopelessness. My heart can find a reason to “sing to the Lord.”

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart celebrates, and I give thanks to him with my song.”

Psalm 28:7, CSB

The Psalms repeatedly tell me the incredible power of a life that sings.

The Holy Spirit understands our brokenness. Jesus is interceding for us at this very moment, and I can rise above this tedious mess I have made for myself. This is the only way out for me. Depression is a form of suffering.

I give it to Him. I take the strength and joy He gives.

Featured

Social Anxiety Understood

“In any social situation, I felt fear. I would be anxious before I even left the house, and it would escalate as I got closer to a college class, a party, or whatever. I would feel sick in my stomach-it almost felt like I had the flu. My heart would pound, my palms would get sweaty, and I would get this feeling of being removed from myself and from everybody else.”

“When I would walk into a room full of people, I’d turn red and it would feel like everybody’s eyes were on me. I was embarrassed to standoff in a corner by myself, but I couldn’t think of anything to say to anybody. It was humiliating. I felt so clumsy, I couldn’t wait to get out.”

Social phobia, also called social anxiety disorder, is diagnosed when people become overwhelmingly anxious and excessively self-conscious in everyday social situations. People with social phobia have an intense, persistent, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others and of doing things that will embarrass them. They can worry for days or weeks before a dreaded situation.

This fear may become so severe that it interferes with work, school, and other ordinary activities, and can make it hard to make and keep friends.

While many people with social phobia realize that their fears about being with people are excessive or unreasonable, they are unable to overcome them. Even if they manage to confront their fears and be around others, they are usually very anxious beforehand, are intensely uncomfortable throughout the encounter, and worry about how they were judged for hours afterward.

Social phobia can be limited to one situation (such as talking to people, eating or drinking, or writing on a blackboard in front of others) or maybe so broad (such as in generalized social phobia) that the person experiences anxiety around almost anyone other than the family.

Physical symptoms that often accompany social phobia include blushing, profuse sweating, trembling, nausea, and difficulty talking.

When these symptoms occur, people with social phobia feel as though all eyes are focused on them. 

Social phobia affects about 15 million American adults. 

Women and men are equally likely to develop the disorder, which usually begins in childhood or early adolescence. There is some evidence that genetic factors are involved. Social phobia is often accompanied by other anxiety disorders or depression, and substance abuse may develop if people try to self-medicate their anxiety.

The use of anti-anxiety drugs may be used and they can help you get through “bad patches” when anxiety becomes too much. It’s possible that these meds can help. Let your doctor guide you.

Understand that social anxiety can be successfully treated with certain kinds of psychotherapy or medications. You probably should find someone who understands what you’re dealing with. They need to be good listeners and have an encouraging voice.

Bringing in a pastor or elder must be considered.

Prayer and counsel are a must. Holding on to God’s promises is necessary and as you deal with this it can be God’s way of strengthening your walk. The Word is packed full of His promises. The Lord knows-He wants you to take up and understand what He wants to give you in this.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10

Featured

Preparing Yourself for Water Baptism

water-baptism1

(You may copy and distribute this teaching freely.)

“Those who accepted his message were baptized.”

Acts 2:41 

 “Repent and be baptized.”

Acts 2:38 

 “Having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your  faith in the power of God.”

Col. 2:12 

Perhaps the most significant decision we’ll make is to follow Jesus Christ into the waters of baptism.  This is just obedience to the Lord’s command to be baptized. Discipleship begins when we appropriate baptism into our faith. Ideally, it will forever alter your life. At least that is the Father’s intention.

Baptism becomes a public pronouncement or declaration to the physically seen world and to the invisibly unseen world of the Spirit. 

It takes faith to be authentically prepared for baptism.  You will be taking a stand. By faith, you’re making public your allegiance to Christ. It is an important and critical step.

“Baptism was to put a line of demarcation between your past sins when you are buried with Him by Baptism–you are burying your past sins–eradicating them–putting a line in the sand saying that old man is dead and he is no longer alive anymore and I rise up to walk in the newness of life.”

T.D. Jakes

I suggest that you prayerfully attend to the process listed below.  You will find there is a big difference between truly being baptized, and just getting wet!

The interrogative process can be used to solidify the faith before man and in front of His people. In a sense, it’s much like the vows made by a husband and wife in the vows of marriage.

I.  A series of questions are asked, to which the reply is always, “I renounce them.”

  1. Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?
  2. Do you renounce the evil powers of this world that corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?
  3. Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God?

II.  The second half also must be asked, to which the reply is always, “I do.”

  1. Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Savior?
  2. Do you put your whole trust in his grace and love?
  3. Do you promise to follow and obey him as your Lord?

III.  The Apostle’s Creed can be recited publicly (or privately in prayer).

This is our faith boiled down to its core essence. This declaration helps set us apart from the World, the flesh and the devil:

“I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, who was crucified, died and was buried.

He descended into hell. and on the third day, He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church,  the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.”

This really needs to be understood and accepted. I suppose we will develop these into living discipleship; you’ll that water baptism is analogous to a master key that opens the door to a special joy. Obeying the command to be baptized pleases Jesus. And that is what we long to do.

“Indeed, baptism is a vow, a sacred vow of the believer to follow Christ. Just as a wedding celebrates the fusion of two hearts, baptism celebrates the union of sinner with Savior.”

–Max Lucado

“Baptism is an outward expression of inward faith.”

–Watchman Nee

“Baptism separates the tire kickers from the car buyers.”

    –Max Lucado

A special word to “older” believers: There may come a time when you feel that you would want to be baptized again.  I believe that this is not only allowable but commendable.  You may have not had a good understanding of the baptismal process, but now it makes sense.  I would encourage you to follow your heart. God will honor your rededication. Ask your pastor or elder what they think.

 

1brobry-sig

 

You may copy and distribute this post in its entirety.

 

Brokenbelievers.com is a member of Faithful Bloggers

g

Featured

My Dear Child – A Letter from God

Hold Hands

My Dear Child,

I see that you are trying to be
just as good as you can be
but what you clearly do not see
is you can’t do this without Me

I know that you are wondering why
I do not stop what makes you cry
but if on Me you will rely
every tear that falls I’ll dry

I love you more than you’ll ever know
in your holiness, I want to grow
and though your progress may seem slow
the path you walk in the way you must go

I will comfort you when times are tough
I will watch over you when life is rough
I will rescue you when you’ve had enough
What’s too big for you, to Me is small stuff

May the Father’s  grace and peace be yours, now and forever,

Linda

 Linda L. Kruschke’s Blog

Featured

The Fellowship of Pain

“In one of the villages, Jesus met a man with an advanced case of leprosy. When the man saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground, begging to be healed. “Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”

Luke 5:12, NLT

The Bible text reveals that this man is desperate.  His leprosy has advanced; he is covered with it from ‘head-to-toe.’ He’s an outcast now, completely infected by something he never asked for; he is ‘unclean’ and completely without hope. There is no treatment, the doctors can do nothing.

The leper knows that without the touch of Jesus, he’ll never be healed. 

He knows it; he doesn’t need to be convinced by anyone over the complete hopelessness of his condition. He has heard that he can do incredible miracles. Could it be that Jesus can heal his sickness? The leper comes and falls on his knees before the Lord, with his face in the dirt. This man is completely broken; he has no hope, except for Jesus. What else can he do?

Our diseases differ, but our lives have been completely changed by our pain. We all have this in common. 

Our pain and darkness vary. Some hurt more, some less. But we’ve all come to the place where we no longer have illusions of somehow being made whole. Whenever we meet, I think there should be a secret handshake or a password. We all share a comradeship— we’re all part of the same community. 

We’re a broken club of tired and decidedly unclean misfits.

We belong to the fellowship of pain.

Lying in the dirt, we start to believe the unbelievable.  Our faith doesn’t activate our healing, as much as it simply guides us to Jesus. We can kneel, and perhaps that’s all we need to do. His presence drives away the fear, the doubt, and the pain. He’s come, and somehow we begin to hope for mercy. Only he can carry us through this.

I have struggled with deep dark depression. I’ve had to take meds.  But when I come into Jesus’ presence, all my melancholy is driven out. He comes and I start to hope again.  Am I a stellar example of perfect discipleship?  I think not. But isn’t about us becoming “angels,” perhaps it’s more about us learning how to kneel, and to allow Jesus to touch our hearts.

You must do this. Repeatedly.

“The power of the Church is not a parade of flawless people, but of a flawless Christ who embraces our flaws.”

“The Church is not made up of whole people, rather of the broken people who find wholeness in a Christ who was broken for us.”   

–Mike Yaconelli

r

Featured

Jumpstarting a Prayer Life

We must (MUST!) pray as believers in Jesus. Prayer is the oxygen of our spiritual life. We must breathe, or else. When I go to my doctor she puts an 0ximeter on my finger so she can assess how my lungs are using oxygen. I suppose if we would put it on our “spiritual finger,” might it reveal something?

We don’t know exactly how to pray, I think communicating with God isn’t natural. We must be taught. The disciples wanted desperately how to pray–they didn’t know how, (Luke 11:1-2). So, we too must have Jesus teach us.

We can only learn how if the Spirit teaches us.

Also, we must practice praying. We may do it terribly rotten, but we should never give up–it’s not natural–it’s supernatural. But we learn by doing. We may get discouraged but keep at it. Even if you’re a pro, the Holy Spirit will make sure you keep learning. Our walk should always grow deeper.

For me praying the Psalms is good practice, and there are 150 of them. The Jewish people have a 4000-year start on us–they’ve used the Psalms as their prayer/praise book. My sense is that this covers every human need–the entirety of our spiritual walk!

I think that Psalms 103 might be a great place to get started.

I’ve been told by some that the “Lord’s Prayer” is quite useful as well. I guess if you honestly take it phrase by phrase, something good will happen. I’m still learning (and I suspect I still will).

Below we find a way to jumpstart our prayer life. I hope you can use it.

One more thought. “Conversational Prayer” is a good thing for me lately. Talk with Jesus as if He was in the same room with you (He is) and just converse. Share your ups and downs, and it’s okay if you feel messed up. Relax. He’s your Father!

He absolutely loves talking with you.

Featured

Putting Out the Flames of Hell


I love this quote. I don’t remember the first time I read it, but it resonated with me immediately. I see in myself that person, carrying buckets of cold water to douse the flames trying to consume the lost and hopeless.

I’ve been through hell here on earth. Over a decade of it. I felt sure all was lost. The thoughts in my head wouldn’t go away. They said things like:

  • I’ll always be broken.
  • My family would be better off without me.
  • Nobody likes me.
  • I’m worthless.
  • I’ll never hold down a full-time job.
  • I’m weak and helpless, good for nothing.
  • I can’t leave my house; it’s not safe.
  • I’m going to be attacked again and I deserve it.
  • I hate people!
  • I just want to die.

Depression that stems from sexual trauma is a special kind of hell.

The way our culture questions survivors of rape, asks what they did to bring it on, makes many victims say nothing. They tell no one. Instead, they keep the secret inside and bury it in their soul, where it sprouts and grows. It grows bitterness, self-loathing, fear, anger, hatred, and hopelessness. It grows lies, like the ones I told myself over and over. That secret fans the flames of hell, burning the soul.

I walked out of those flames.

Okay, maybe crawled would be a better description. But I am victorious, still alive, still a little broken but okay with that. I didn’t do it alone. I had friends, family, prayer warriors, and Jesus Himself who helped me.

I’ve learned that none of my burning thoughts, even if they were partly true, didn’t change the fact that God loves me. He loves me so much He sent His Son Jesus to redeem me, to douse the flames of hell for me.

And when I began to share my secret, let it out into the light of day, something amazing happened. The sprouts of bitterness, hatred, and hopelessness began to wither. Jesus exposed the lies I had believed and showed me these truths:

  • Though I am a cracked jar of clay, I hold His power within me. (See 2 Corinthians 4:7-10).
  • My family needs me just the way I am.
  • A lot of people like me, and quite a few love me too.
  • I am worth dying for. (See Romans 5:8).
  • I can do anything Jesus calls me to do. (See Philippians 4:13).
  • I am weak but He is strong. (See 2 Corinthians 12:10).
  • My soul is safe in the arms of Jesus, even if my body is not. (See Matthew 10:28).
  • If I am ever attacked again, it won’t be because I deserve it.
  • I LOVE people!
  • I want to die to self and live for Christ. (See Galatians 2:20).
  • It is well with my soul.

Those statements are true for you too.

If you are feeling the flames of hell on earth, for whatever reason, I am here to pour the cool water of truth on the lies that are fanning the flames. And not just me. I know that Bryan is also here to help carry you out. I pray you can connect locally with loved ones who can help bear your burden and bring you into the abundant life Jesus promised.

The despair of hell can seem so real, but trust me. It is only a deception of the evil one. I in no way want to diminish the pain you are feeling. I know how painful depression and trauma can be. But hold on. Help is on its way.

Take a peek at my blog.

Featured

Furnace People Understand Suffering

The Furnace

“I have refined you, but not as silver is refined.   Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.

Isaiah 48:10

“Once we have come through the ‘furnace of humiliation,’ desperately, fearfully clinging to Christ for all He is worth, then we are fully equipped to march into somebody else’s furnace.”

‘Blessed with Bipolar”

Becoming a real and authentic person starts with basic responses that we’ve made in the presence of Jesus. Amazingly, this simple faith becomes the prerequisite, granting us the right to enter into the promises of the Lord. If you have those promises you may enter in. However, without faith in those promises, you won’t find anything real or true.

You will not be able to handle the Kingdom of God unless you’re walking out of a life of brokenness and humility.

Furnace people will often recognize those without any real and tangible connection with God’s work. There are furnace promises, but they, without truly understanding them will walk around in unreality. Often ‘they get religion.’ These are those who land on “the rocky soil.” They become ‘quasi-disciples’ who will do and say things that they really don’t really understand.

But furnace people have the connection to that which is honest and true. They rarely enter into anything false or manipulative.  Their own hearts are transformed by the fire, and only then are qualified to minister God’s grace. Only furnace people can enter in. You will know them by their scars.

The Church has a tremendous need for those who have withstood the furnace of humiliation.

After we endure its ugliness and its great evil, we’ll discover that we’re in an altogether different place than when we first started. The Church is waiting for those who went in and then come out on the other side.

I was thinking today about Joseph, and his ordeal, as found in the Book of Genesis chapters 37-50.  He was a rare kind of person. Perhaps, one in a hundred. You may emulate but never attain his faith. His confidence in the Lord was true.

Furnace people have the ability to function gracefully at this particular stage.

Furnace people are sovereignly brought to a place where they can minister the grace of God into desperate situations. We must convince ourselves, that furnace people have a gift.  They have been through the worst.  They may be battered and bruised.  But they still stand.  We must look to those who are the gracious agents of a loving God.

Our brothers and sisters have carried the Word with wisdom and grace. They come to us, through the fire. But will we receive them?

My hope is that you would personally grasp what God has worked in you. That really is your truest calling.  The things good or bad, that have happened to you are part of how you’ll understand grace. He waits for you to respond.  Will you come to Him, through the grace you find in the flames? The most gracious people you’ll ever meet are those who endured God’s furnace.

 “He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord.”

Malachi 3:3

***

My newest blog: alaskabibleteacher.com

Featured

He Knows Where I’m Going

climbing-to-the-top-2125148_960_720

“I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find him.I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I look to the south, but he is concealed.

“But he knows where I am going.
And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.
For I have stayed on God’s paths;
I have followed his ways and not turned aside.”

Job 23:10-11, NLT

 Job is not sure where God is exactly.

He can’t really provide us any insight or understanding. But Job knows one thing very well; the outcome will be wonderfully ‘golden’ (v. 10).

Job explains his confidence, “He knows where I am going.”  That sweet understanding gives him an awareness and a sensitivity toward the presence of God.  “He knows where I am going.” He, the Almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer of everything, looks to me, Bryan, the puny and small–the littlest pimple on the ankle of the smallest flea. Yet, He knows everything about me.

Verse 10 becomes my trumpet blast. 

Testing me is His full intention.  He intends to make me pure and true. And as I think of this, I first should understand that it is ‘He’ that is making me.  It’s the Father’s work; it is certainly not by my silly little efforts.

His intention is to put us in His crucible. It’s there that He heats us until we are melted and gleaming–shiny and pure.  Just understanding this process, brings us into a huge, new dimension.  We understand now why we have this dynamic we call discipleship.  Under_construction

Verse 11 now speaks to us about this sweaty work of growing up.  There is an “Under Construction” sign that hangs over us, we are being worked on. And Job’s faith, thrown into the crucible, becomes transformed into a solid walk. Is this plausible for us today? Should we evaluate our walks from His perspective?

Job claims this understanding.  “For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside.”  Some might suggest religious pride.   But also, could it be that he has been transformed by the crucible? Could it be that a man was being changed and altered by a heated furnace?

The intensity of the Holy Spirit, and His sovereign use of our various trials, delight in this process we call sanctification. Make an effort to walk in that direction today.

flourish9

“The same Jesus who turned water into wine can transform your home, your life, your family, and your future. He is still in the miracle-working business, and His business is the business of transformation.”

-Adrian Rogers^

Featured

Tears Have a Purpose

her-tears-grey-puddle

I’ve been thinking a lot about tears lately—in part because Pastor Bryan pointed out to me how many hits my post titled God Keeps Your Tears in a Bottle has had, in part because I’ve cried more than a few tears this year, and in part because I’ve been listening to Johnny Cash’s Cry, Cry, Cry in my car all week—and I thought I’d share my thoughts with you all here.

People cry for a lot of reasons.

Earlier this year my sister died of breast cancer at only 61 years old. I cried, a lot. It’s normal and even helpful to shed tears over the death of a loved one even if we know where they are going when they die, because it allows us to express the grief we feel over not having them in our lives any more here on earth.

I remember a time I had a previous boss say some very cruel things to me in front of other people. She accused me of having done things I had not based on motives I did not have. I was very angry, hurt, and frustrated. And I cried, a lot. I didn’t cry in front of her, mind you, but afterwards I did. And it was good to express that anger to others.

Just yesterday I experienced unexpected tears.

I was reciting the prayers of the people in church, which I’ve done many times. Our church has many prayer concerns for members, family, and friends with health concerns and more. Towards the end of the prayer I began to lift up prayers for a church member’s brother-in-law who is a pastor back in New York because he is faced with conducting the funerals of two teens who had been killed in an accident last week, and with comforting the families of three other teens who are in critical condition.

I unexpectedly had tears in my eyes and my voice cracked praying for these teens and families that I don’t even know. But they were good tears because they touched those who heard my prayer and I know they touched our Lord, too.

I have cried tears of loss, anger, indignation over an injustice, frustration, compassion, and even of joy. I sometimes cry tears of regret when I hear a beautiful song about the sacrifice of Jesus, knowing it is my sin that required him to suffer.

Tears often serve a purpose, as expressed in this poem that I wrote recently:

Tears

Tears of sorrow, anger
drench my soul
course without end
eroding pain, anguish

Where once only aching
occupied my heart
now is a deep empty ravine
carved by a river of tears

Tears of forgiveness
water my soul’s riverbed
allowing flowers of love
to flourish and grow

Peace arises in my heart
held aloft by God’s promises
the fragrance of sweet alyssum
blossoms of my soul

I think the saddest tears of all, though, are the tears of major clinical depression. These tears are so sad because the one who cries them doesn’t know what purpose they serve.

I remember when I was suffering from depression sitting in a chair and just crying. When someone asked me why I was crying all I could say was, “I don’t know.” And I truly didn’t. The tears didn’t wash away pain; they only seemed to make it all the worse.

In the midst of such tears, there is One who knows their purpose.

Romans 8:26 says: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Through prayer God can sometimes lead us to an understanding of the purpose of the tears of depression, and ultimately to healing. Often the wounds are so deep it takes years and a great many groaning prayers to heal. But we must accept our weakness and our need for God’s Holy Spirit to intercede for us.

For me, after much prayer of my own, the blessed prayers of others, and the intercession of the Holy Spirit, God led me to an understanding of the purpose of my tears. They were tears of anger and unforgiveness; they were tears of lament that I had allowed myself to remain in bondage to the sins of another for so long.

With God’s help, the tears did lead to healing once I truly understood why I was crying.

May You Know His Peace,

Linda K

Linda has a good and perceptive blog that touches hearts worldwide. Please do pay her a visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

The Good Shepherd’s Oil

Post by Heart Prints

I have to admit, I always wondered what this part of Psalm 23 meant. I thought “He anoints my head with oil” was figurative language for God keeping the Psalmist healthy. I never knew this parallel.

“You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.”

Psalm 23:5, ESV

“Sheep can get their head caught in briers and die trying to get untangled. There are horrid little flies that like to torment sheep by laying eggs in their nostrils which turn into worms and drive the sheep to beat their head against a rock, sometimes to death. Their ears and eyes are also susceptible to tormenting insects.”

So the shepherd anoints their whole head with oil.

“Then there is peace. That oil forms a barrier of protection against the evil that tries to destroy the sheep. Do you have times of mental torment? Do the worrisome thoughts invade your mind over and over? Do you beat your head against a wall trying to stop them? Have you ever asked God to anoint your head with oil?”

He has an endless supply!

His oil protects and makes it possible for you to fix your heart, mind, and eyes on Him today and always! There is peace in the valley! May our good good Father anoint your head with oil today so that your cup overflows with blessings! God is good and He is faithful!!”

Posted by Heart Prints

“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.”

1 John 2:20

Oh How He Loves You!

Featured

Without Your Wound, Where Would Your Power Be? 

angel6

The subject of “the pool at Bethesda” alludes to the Thorton Wilder play, “The Angel that Troubled the Waters.” 

The play is based on the biblical verses of John 5:1-4, however, it changes the end of the parable. 

The play tells of a physician who comes to the pool of Bethesda, hoping to see the stir, and then be the first in the water, and healed of his melancholy and debilitating depression.  An angel appears and troubles the water. Everybody at the pool hopes to be the first one in and to be healed of their disability.

…………………………………………………………………

An angel appears and blocks the physician at the very moment he is ready to step into the pool and be healed.

Angel: “Drawback, physician, this moment is not for you.”angel1

Physician: “Angelic visitor, I pray thee, listen to my prayer.

Angel: “This healing dear physician, is not for you.”

Physician: “Surely, surely, the angels are wise. Surely, O Prince, you are not deceived by my apparent wholeness. Your eyes can see the nets in which my wings are caught; the sin into which all my endeavors sink half-performed, cannot be concealed from you.”

Angel: “I know.”

Physician: “Oh, in such an hour was I born, and doubly fearful to me is the flaw in my heart. Must I drag my shame, Prince and Singer, all my days more bowed than my neighbor?”

Angel: Without your wound where would your power be?” 

“It is your very sadness that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men. The very angels themselves, cannot persuade the wretched, and blundering children on earth, as can one human being broken on the wheels of living. In Love’s service, only the wounded soldiers can serve. Drawback.”

Later, the person who enters the pool first, and was healed rejoices in his good fortune, then turns to the physician before leaving and says:

“But come with me first, an hour only, to my home. My son is lost in dark thoughts. I — I do not understand him, and only you have ever lifted his mood.”

“Only an hour… my daughter, since her child has died, sits in the shadow. She will not listen to us, but she will listen to you.”

…………………………………………………………………

For me, the play pierces with the ‘bullet message’ of this wonderful line— “Without your wound where would your power be?“

This seems to me to be a slow percolating of Paul’s teaching, mainly, that it’s through my weaknesses that I can truly minister to others like Jesus. It’s the Apostle Paul declaring it’s the weak things that work to create something solid and true in us. And I hope in the many lives that this ministry, brokenbelievers.com reaches.

I hope so anyway. Pray for Linda. Pray for me.

1brobry-sig4 (2)

 

I first encountered this excerpt in the book, “Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging,” by Brennan Manning. The book is a worthy read, and worth finding if you can.

Please check out Brennan Manning’s Facebook page for more info.

 

Featured

When Angels Stand Amazed

457

“When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.”

~Barbara Bloom

Just a short word of encouragement to all my suffering brothers and sisters. 

I believe God loves you (it’s not a cliche) and has a tremendous plan for you.  Scripture tells us that we will reign with Him (and the last time I looked, there is no disqualification for being mentally or physically ill). 

Having suffered through your whole life will be just an enhancement, a bonus when you finally are held by Jesus, in His arms.

Those of us who struggle with depression, mania, and paranoia know a lot about cracks and brokenness.  Mixed states, anxiety, and social withdrawal all have taken their toll. Some of us hear voices. Addictions and suicide attempts have made up our past life (and even sometimes try to intrude on the present.)

Some of us have physical disabilities. We come to worship from our wheelchairs and walkers. Some of us are deaf, and others are blind. But we come still. Our hope is in the coming King who promises us a new and fully redeemed Kingdom. There will be no more pain.

I have a dear friend with advancing Alzheimer’s who understands little of what is happening to her,  but she still worships God with the rest of the congregation. Before dementia, she was a spiritual marvel.  Without a doubt one of the astonishing women I had ever met.

Now however, when she raises her hands, I believe the angels step back in a deep awe. 

I just realized this–the angels understand worship, they really do. Praise seems to be their specialty. Each angel that surrounds the throne has a PhD in “worshipology.”

But you know what? They really don’t understand our worship out of our pain, weakness, and brokenness.

Let us worship God with our cracks and brokenness.  In John 12:1-7, a woman breaks open a jar of nard on Jesus’ feet, while the other disciples hang back and complain. 

But always remember this dear one–it is only by being poured out that one can release the perfume.

bry-signat (1)

*

Oh How He Loves You!
Featured

Being Very, Very Sick

Potter shaping a ceramic plate on a pottery wheel
Potter shaping a ceramic plate on a pottery wheel
“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.”

2 Corinthians 1:9

To be chronically ill often means awful frustration. We can’t do what we want, we are ‘trapped’ by a disease we never asked for, and we’re held hostage by our minds and bodies. We once had a job– a career… and our time was occupied by that.

We were accustomed to something, anything more than being very sick.

I once was a pastor of a small church. I also taught Gospels for several years in a local Bible Institute. I loved ministry very much. They defined my identity and gave me purpose. I enjoyed helping people and teaching the Word. I endeavored to be faithful in the ministry. I hope I did.

With the sudden onset of a brain tumor, followed up by a diagnosis of bipolar disorder (BP), my life more or less exploded. I had extensive memory loss. I knew I had to step out of the ministry. I simply could not function. It was a hard thing to leave it behind. (I still miss it).

My depression grew even more profound with the stillborn death of our third child just 3 days before her delivery, Things suddenly ground to a standstill as my wife and I tried to process all of this. I guess I just couldn’t understand and more or less just shut down. I was angry at God. I spent months in bed, unable to function.

A profound sadness settled on me.

Some people were true jewels. Others were mean and uncaring. (I had to learn to take the good with the bad.) I suppose I should have understood, but things were so tangled up inside me that I couldn’t verbalize a thing. But God knew all about me.

The post-op recovery following the tumor was an ordeal, as I had to learn many things all over again. A few years later I ended up on disability; I was unable to work, and my symptoms were so unpredictable. I dealt with profound depression and a solid dose of paranoia and fear.

I learned that meds can help, but they can’t fix the problem.

The isolation of being ill seems worse than the pain. We wonder why this is happening to us, and we hear lies about our worthiness or God’s goodness. Our value to others seems to be scuttled by our illness. We can feel cursed, forgotten, crippled by God, or even worse. (Maybe even irrevocably lost.)

Satan craves our spiritual destruction, and he snares unsteady souls.

I admit I have been slow to learn this– but God brings good things out of the dark. I’m embarrassed by my personal lack of acquiring all of this. Now I’m starting to learn finally, and I want His words to reflect these truths.

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”

2 Corinthians 4:7

This light will shine. The treasure is found in clay vessels. Brokenness only means the treasure is now seen clearly. It’s important to note–treasure loses none of its value by being surrounded by broken clay. Our weaknesses are being turned into goodness, understanding, and love for our brothers and sisters.

Troubles of many different varieties will visit us. Count on it.

No matter what their nature, God holds his people in place while everything else is falling apart. But for the broken believer, there is another dimension; we will indeed triumph. The tragedies we’ve had to endure only supplement our faith. We will stand– because He makes us stand.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.”

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

bry-signat (1)

Visit my new site: alaskabibleteacher.com

Featured

Avoiding the Cul-de-sac

“Then God said, “You’ve been going around in circles in these hills long enough; go north.”

Deuteronomy 2:3 

I believe that there are cul-de-sacs in a broken believer’s walk. There are times when we seem to walk in circles and our path seems to take us around and around. It can be a real cause of frustration–we know deep down that there must be something more.

For city planners, a cul-de-sac solves many problems. Homes built there can be off the beaten track, kids can play without too much concern about traffic. The idea can be very appealing.

But a spiritual cul-de-sac can be dangerous.

The children of Israel are free from the profound bondage of their Egyptian masters. They now know freedom, but… (you know).

The children of Israel wandered. They turned an 11-day journey into 40 years! Although one can learn things going nowhere, it really isn’t what the Father wants.

The scenery never changes (“what? didn’t I see that cactus before?) The journey becomes one of repetition. Around and around, dealing (and seeing) the same old stuff, over and over. We really don’t see anything new. We really don’t hear His voice.

This really isn’t what God intended for you.

Perhaps going in circles is a real issue for those with physical and mental issues. We feel trapped by our illnesses, hemmed in by these difficult things. We wander and continue to take another trip around the mountain. Instead of having a ‘straight’ walk, ours is crooked.

Our journey needs to be ‘linear,’ not circular.

I know all about these dead-ends. I’ve been there. I guess if I was to explain my own walk it would be one word–stagnant. I wandered in circles dealing with the same ugly stuff over and over. It seemed like I never went forward. My life was caught in some kind of spiritual loop.

Quite often we get trapped through sinful habits.

Sometimes we can’t break out of this vicious cycle without the Father’s helpful discipline. We must understand that the Lord will “rock your world” if you keep choosing to sin.

He will not allow you to continue in rebellion or disobedience.

I saw others on their straight path. Yes they sinned and struggled, but they seemed to be going forward, and I wasn’t. There were my issues, Bipolar and chronic pain (what a mix, huh)? I knew I was trapped and I never could break this on my own.

The spiritual scenery never changed for you.

God really does love you. You must become utterly convinced of that. If you’re stuck in a cul-de-sac you must know this. Condemnation never comes from Him. Never. I suggest that you call on Him (get on your face) and ‘beg’ to be with Him.

Featured

I Came to Love You Late [Regrets]

regret

Regrets are a funny thing.

You really start to gather them when you get into your fifties. They are a bit sticky, once you have them, they’re hard to get rid of— (kind of like dog hair on a nice jacket.) I’m 61 now and am surprised by the memories of things gone by. I guess this is one of the job hazards of getting old.

Why do we remember the bad things– surely they weren’t all mistakes?

God’s Word gives us fresh insight into this state of mind of regretfulness. What it gives is akin to instructions to disarm a bomb— it’s ticking, and ready to explode. There are some who have been severely wounded when a regret goes off. Out of the blue–whammo!

But what really bothers me is all of the missed opportunities.

I wonder what life could have been like if I had accepted Christ at a younger age. A lot of pain would’ve been averted and perhaps I might have loved Jesus deeper than I do now. Some of us come to love Jesus late in life. There is so much time frittered away.

I regret the years spent in rebellion and disobedience. I remember the words of a 70-year-old man who had just received Christ, “Why did I wait so long for this to happen?”

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

Philippians 3:13-14, NLT

Paul learned to adjust his vision. He no longer let regret define him, choosing rather forget the past and press into the future. The solution to regret is to focus on what lies ahead. Heaven is our destination–it is our calling, it’s really where we belong.

And Peter tells us that our past sin was enough. We have wasted enough time doing evil. I don’t know about you, but I had a bellyful of sin, and it’s time to lay all the foolishness and rebellion and live instead for God. Enough is enough.

3 “You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols.”

1 Peter 4:3

There is a sorrow that leads us to repentance (2 Cor. 7:10), and since it affects me I should make full use of it— not knowing when it will leave. I have regrets like anyone else, but there is also the joy of having my sin forgiven. They both mingle and at times I rejoice, but the sadness comes and goes as well. David, that great sinner-king, understood the joy of forgiveness.

Oh, what joy for those
    whose disobedience is forgiven,
    whose sin is put out of sight!
Yes, what joy for those
    whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,
    whose lives are lived in complete honesty!

Psalm 32:1-2

“Maturity comes from obedience, not necessarily from age.”

    Leonard Ravenhill

Featured

Comprehensive Protection

daniel3

The Book of Daniel contains the acts and welfare of the Jewish people in Babylon. They are captives and so many of the stories shared here are accounts of spirituality under duress. King Nebuchadnezzar, in an attempt to unify his kingdom, proclaims himself to be a god. He commissions a 90-foot statue to be erected; he orders that, on a prearranged moment, all would fall down and worship.

Thgold statueere are three Jewish men: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who are brought to the king with the charge of ‘failure to worship.’ They refused to bow at the statue at the signal. They were observed standing when everyone else was kneeling. Non-compliance to the king meant the death penalty, but that doesn’t deter the three.

Their faith will not allow them to sin in this way.

They are resolute. The first, second, and third commandments clearly forbid the worship of all idols. There were no other options. Perhaps they valued their souls more than they valued their lives. In some things, there can be no accommodation– no compromise. Standing before the king and threatened with death, they declare their allegiance to the living God.

Dan. 3:16-18:

 “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

The king is enraged.

Few have ever spoken and defied him like this (and lived). He orders the furnace to be heated up like never before.  Here the king is making a statement. He will not tolerate this kind of ‘rebellion’ in his kingdom. All of his governing leaders will witness what he does to ‘traitors.’ These Hebrews must be made an example.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods”

(v.v. 24-25)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are thrown into the fire. The men who escorted them are killed by the heat. Ironically, Nebuchadnezzer can’t protect his own men from death while the three Jews are not touched, not even a little.

They are joined by a fourth man and they walk around in the midst of the flames.

Suddenly, Nebuchadnezzer realizes that the God of Israel is not only a real God, but a force to be reckoned with. The men’s faith has saved them. (And his men are dead.)

The complete story is quite compelling. The king orders all that the real God be worshipped. Henceforth, no one shall ever speak against this God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are promoted in the kingdom.

The lessons for today are many,

  1. God’s Word is to be obeyed no matter what it costs.

  2. When confronted, we must never hedge over our beliefs.

  3. God is present with us in our furnace, we’re never alone.

  4. In the fire, our faith will ultimately triumph. One way or another.

We may be standing in similar times. Faith will be tested. The Word must be believed and trusted. It is ‘comprehensive protection’ for our lives. Obedience to God will lead us into difficult places, but faith will triumph.

“When you have no helpers, see your helpers in God. When you have many helpers, see God in all your helpers. When you have nothing but God, see all in God. When you have everything, see God in everything. Under all conditions, stay thy heart only on the Lord.”

    Charles Spurgeon

Featured

Our Salvation Is Quite Sure

My favorite of all the apostles is John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” I love his Gospel, the three epistles that he wrote, and of course,  Revelation.

There are a couple of things I love about John’s writings:

  1. He reminds his readers that he was an eyewitness to Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
  2. He clearly sets out the evidence for Jesus’ divinity.
  3. He focuses, particularly in the epistles, on the love of God.
  4. He reveals the power and purpose of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers.
  5. He provides believers with an assurance of salvation.

It is this last point that I want to write about today. Early in the history of the Christian faith, deceivers had come into the church who taught that one had to achieve sinless perfection to be saved. John wrote his first epistle to combat this heresy. The same type of heresy has crept into many legalistic denominations even today. By outwardly following the rules, such people claim to be without sin. But as John writes:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

1 John 1:8-10 (NIV).

John here provides assurance that the fact that the believer sometimes sins does not negate their salvation, because Jesus is faithful and forgives our sin. One of the definitions of assurance on Dictionary.com is “full confidence; freedom from doubt; certainty.” Throughout this epistle, John provides further assurance that those who trust in Jesus can be assured of their salvation even though they are not sinless and perfect.

The word “know” appears 42 times in this short epistle because John wants to make sure believers know that God loves them and that they can rely on His promise of salvation. In each of the chapters of the epistle, John includes his assurance:

I am writing to you, dear children,
   because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
I am writing to you, fathers,
   because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
   because you have overcome the evil one.

1 John 2:12-13 (NIV).

“Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”

1 John 3:21-24 (NIV).

“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.”

1 John 4:15-16 (NIV).

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

1 John 5:13-14 (NIV).

None of us is perfect and completely sinless. If we were, we would not need a Savior. But we do need Him, and we thrive best knowing that He is faithful in His promise of salvation for those who believe.

John does not advocate living a life in which we sin ‘willy-nilly’ simply because we know we can be forgiven.

Now don’t get me wrong. Those who truly believe in Jesus, and trust in Him for salvation, will desire to keep God’s commands. His Spirit living in our hearts will help us to overcome the temptations of the world and to love as He has commanded.

You may be struggling today with worries that you are not good enough, or that God will give up on you and you will lose your salvation. But remember – God is faithful in His promises and He has promised eternal life to all who believe in Jesus and allow His love to live in them. He has not hidden the truth from us but has made Himself known through His Son and the witness of the apostles so that we can be assured of our place in His Kingdom. Your salvation is sure.

aasignLinda

Featured

Bipolar Basics, [Symptoms]

Bipolar disorder symptoms are characterized by an alternating pattern of emotional highs (mania) and lows (depression). The intensity of signs and symptoms can vary from mild to severe. There may even be periods when your life doesn’t seem affected at all.

The manic phase of bipolar disorder
Signs and symptoms of the manic phase of bipolar disorder may include:

  • Euphoria
  • Extreme optimism
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Poor judgment
  • Rapid speech
  • Racing thoughts
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Agitation
  • Increased physical activity
  • Risky behavior
  • Spending sprees, credit card irresponsibility
  • Increased drive to perform or achieve goals
  • Increased sexual drive
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Tendency to be easily distracted
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Drug abuse

The depressive phase of bipolar disorder
Signs and symptoms of the depressive phase of bipolar disorder may include:

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Sleep problems
  • Appetite problems
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Problems concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Chronic pain without a known cause

Types of bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder is divided into two main subtypes:

  • Bipolar I disorder. You’ve had at least one manic episode, with or without previous episodes of depression.
  • Bipolar II disorder. You’ve had at least one episode of depression and at least one hypomanic episode. A hypomanic episode is similar to a manic episode but much briefer, lasting only a few days, and not as severe. With hypomania, you may have an elevated mood, irritability, and some changes in your functioning, but generally, you can carry on with your normal daily routine and functioning, and you don’t require hospitalization. In bipolar II disorder, the periods of depression are typically much longer than the periods of hypomania.
  • Cyclothymia. Cyclothymia is a mild form of bipolar disorder. Cyclothymia includes mood swings but the highs and lows are not as severe as those of full-blown bipolar disorder.

Other bipolar disorder symptoms
In addition, some people with bipolar disorder have rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. This is the occurrence of four or more mood swings within 12 months. These moods shifts can occur rapidly, sometimes within just hours. In mixed state bipolar disorder, symptoms of both mania and depression occur at the same time.

Severe episodes of either mania or depression may result in psychosis or a detachment from reality. Symptoms of psychosis may include hearing or seeing things that aren’t there (hallucinations) and false but strongly held beliefs (delusions).

Taken from the Mayo Clinic/Bipolar Disorder Symptoms site:

Featured

Should I Take Medication?

What’s Your Take on Christians Using Antidepressants?

by Pastor John Piper

I’m going to say that there are times when I think it is appropriate, but I want to go there cautiously and slowly, with warnings.

Depression is a very complex thing. It’s got many layers. I think we all would agree that there are conditions in which nobody would deny that certain people are depressed in a pathological way because they’re immobile. They’re not even able to function.

And then there’s a continuum of discouragements and wrestlings with having an ‘Eeyore-type’ personality, which may or may not be depressed.

So that means that I want to be so careful not to have a knee-jerk reaction. When you come into my office and describe to me your discouragements, I don’t want my first response to be, “See a doctor and get a prescription.”

I fear that is way too quick today. The number of people on antidepressants as a first course rather than the last course is large.

And the assumption is that you can’t make any progress in counseling unless you get yourself stabilized or something.

So I just want to be very cautious.

As a Christian who believes that Christ is given by the Holy Spirit to deliver us from discouragements and from unbelief and sorrow and to help us live a life of usefulness, what makes me able to allow for antidepressants is the fact that medicine corresponds to physical realities.

And the physical realities are that we get headaches that make us almost unable to think. Migraine headaches can put a man out. And we are pretty much OK if the doctor can help us find some medicine that would not let us get these immobilizing headaches.

And the headaches clearly have a spiritual impact, because they’re making me unable to read my Bible and function in relation to people that I want to love and serve. And so medicine becomes spiritually effective in that way.

So we apply this principle that we all use to depression, and then the fact that the body is included in depression. Whether we should use the terms “chemical imbalances”—I’ve read both sides on that. Some people say that there is no scientific evidence for such a thing and others say that it is a given. Whatever. Everybody knows that there are physical dimensions to depression.

If that physical dimension could be helped by medicine—in the short run especially, sometimes long term—then I think, in God’s grace and mercy, we should take it as a gift from his hand.

 


© Desiring God, desiringGod.org

John Piper is the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, where he first sensed God’s call to enter the ministry. He went on to earn degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.) and the University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 30 books and more than 25 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at desiringGod.org. John and his wife, Noel, have four sons, one daughter, and an increasing number of grandchildren.
Featured

A Painful Victory

Who Suffers From Affliction?

Everyone does.  We all experience trial and affliction no matter who we are or how lost we are.  Everyone hurts.  Often we see the ungodly man or woman in suffering:  Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.” Ps. 107:17

However, it really isn’t as easy to understand the sufferings of the believers.  We can try to explain it but we still end up with questions:  “Many are the afflictions of the righteous,  but the LORD delivers him out of them all.”  Ps. 34:19. 

I guess there is some comfort in knowing that other believers are also being tested and that it is part of God’s plan.

What Are Some Godly Examples of Testing?

  • Job– “see thou mine affliction;” Job 10:15
  • Moses– “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.”  Hebrews 11:25
  • David– “I am afflicted very much;  revive me, O LORD, according to Your word.”  Ps. 119:107
  • The Prophets– “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.”   James 5:10
  • Jesus Christ– He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth”  Isa. 53:10
  • Paul– “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart” I wrote to you, with many tears. “ 2 Cor. 2:4

But it is not enough to know the ‘realness’ of your affliction.  We insist on knowing why.  Why am I suffering in this way?  Moses, probably the stellar personality in the Old Testament asked, “So Moses said to the LORD, “Why have You afflicted Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all these people on me?”  Ex. 11:11

Afflictions Are For Our Good

Psalm 119:75 says, “I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.”

Why would David thank God in afflicting him? I think that David was able to see through the affliction.  He then could realize that the intentions and purposes of God were good and edifying to him.  He saw the divine purpose in God’s hands.  He chose to trust that.

This pain is working out for our good

The Bible is quite clear on this subject.  “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”  2 Cor. 4:17.  Exceeding and eternal!  Words that need to impress us with their weight.  Our afflictions are not our focus, it’s what they produce must be our focus.

We are explicitly told this, And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose”,  Romans 8:28.

Kyrie Elesion, (Lord, have mercy)

Bryan

Featured

Praying for the Weak and Lonely

Those of us who are stronger must pray for those who are not.

We need to “stand in the gap” and intercede for those who are struggling so hard. Each of us has a sphere of influence, family, and friends–use it. They’re counting on us to lift their need to the Father.

Let’s pray . . .

God our comforter, you are a refuge and a strength for us, a helper close at hand in times of distress. Enable us to defend others so they’ll hear the words of faith. May their fear be dispelled, their loneliness is eased, and anxiety is calmed, and hope reawakened.

May your Holy Spirit lift them above sorrow to the peace and light of your steady constant love; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Amen.

These are words of faith that force fear and anxiety to leave, and these words can calm and protect. We truly believe that God’s power can strengthen them. We can trust the Spirit to transform their lives and overcome their weakness.

“The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds.” 

2 Cor. 10:4

Let’s pray for all those who are weak and lonely. They need us more than ever.

 

A prayer based from p.360-361 of Evangelical Lutheran Worship: Pastoral Care.

Featured

World Bipolar Day–March 30, 2022

Born March 30, 1853

The vision of World Bipolar Day is to bring world awareness to bipolar disorders and to eliminate social stigma.

World Bipolar Day (WBD) – an initiative of the Asian Network of Bipolar Disorder (ANBD), the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF), and the International Society for Bipolar Disorder (ISBD).

On March 30th, the birthday of Vincent Van Gogh, was posthumously diagnosed as probably having bipolar disorder.

The vision of WBD is to bring world awareness to bipolar disorders and to eliminate social stigma. Through international collaboration the goal of World Bipolar Day is to bring the world population information about bipolar disorders that will educate and improve sensitivity towards the illness.

Bipolar Disorder (also called manic-depressive illness) is a mental illness affecting up to 2% of the population worldwide. It represents a significant challenge to patients, their family members, health care workers, and our communities.

While growing acceptance of bipolar disorder as a medical condition, like diabetes and heart disease, has taken hold in some parts of the world, unfortunately the stigma associated with the illness is a barrier to care and continues to impede recognition and effective treatment.

Despite the alarming number of people affected with a mental illness, statistics show that only one-third of these individuals seek treatment. According to Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the NIMH (USA), psychiatry is the only part of medicine where there is actually greater stigma for receiving treatment for these illnesses than for having them.


Check-out “World Bipolar Day” on Facebook.

Featured

Pray without Ceasing

In early 2021, I wrote this post asking the readers of Broken Believers to pray for Bryan. Once again, I am asking you to pray for him. Although doctors have determine what the issue was that seemed mysterious for so long, they are not much closer to bringing him healing. He is currently hospitalized in Alaska and has asked me to fill in here at Broken Believers when I can.

I believe the Lord still has much for Bryan to do and that He can bring healing if that serves the greater good. I also know that Bryan is not alone in the hospital because his friend Jesus is by his side. And so I offer this prayer, similar to the one I lifted in early 2021.

MY PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

I lift up to You Bryan, Your dear son and loyal servant. You know exactly what is going on in his body and in his mind. I pray for Your healing touch, for Your comfort and peace, and for Your wisdom for the doctors treating him. Lord, help him to find the perfect balance of medications and to feel well again. Return Bryan to his home with a refreshed spirit and strength to continue to serve You in whatever way You are calling him to do.

In the meantime, Lord, give Bryan rest for his body and rest for his soul. Help him to draw closer to You, Jesus, and feel Your very real presence. Lead him in paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake. Make him to lie down in peaceful pastures and restore his soul. Let him truly know that this time of illness has not been wasted but is being and will be used by You for Your glory and his good.

I ask all these things in the precious name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.

YOUR PRAYERS

I hope that you will join me in praying for Bryan. I know over the years he has faithfully prayed for many of you and continues to do so. He has a heart to serve, but serving is difficult when illness strikes. Please pray that he has peace. If you would like to post your prayer in the comments, I know he would be blessed.

Your sister in Christ,
Linda K.

Featured

Forgiveness Healed My Heart

Trigger warning: This post is about suicidal thoughts and hopelessness. If you are currently struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to someone at one of the hotlines we have posted here.

I had all but given up. I mentally catalogued the various prescription and over-the-counter pills in my medicine cabinet. There were enough to end my hopelessness forever. I truly believed my one-and-a-half-year-old son and my longsuffering husband would be better off without me.

I saw no other way to escape this deep depression that had engulfed me for what seemed like forever. I had tried everything—academic accolades, career, marriage, counseling, antidepressants, alcohol, exercise, motherhood, even religion—but nothing pulled me from my pit of misery. Near-constant tears were destined to drown me if I didn’t kill myself first.

I credit God with stopping me from following through that day. His Word says, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.” Psalm 34:7. His word did not fail me when an angel stopped my hand from a dreadful mistake. “For no word from God will ever fail.” Luke 1:37.

When a friend learned of the depths of my despair, she invited me to a women’s Bible study. It had been a long time since I had engaged in any formal study of the Scriptures. I was nervous because I felt certain they would see me for the fraud I felt I was.

But those ladies didn’t judge me or tell me I just needed more faith. Instead, they loved me and lifted to God my simple prayer: “I just don’t want to be depressed anymore.” It took me over a month to whisper that prayer request, but it didn’t take Jesus long to answer it.

The answer came in a most unlikely way—through a dream.

I had been harboring bitterness toward a number of people who had harmed me, but the worst offender was the boy who had raped me when I was only 14. I had often said that he ruined my life. One night I dreamed I was going about my ordinary life, buying groceries, taking bills to the Post Office, and depositing a check at the bank. As I completed each errand I turned to find my attacker, down on his knees, asking me to forgive him. Each time I brushed past him, refusing to accept his apology.

I awoke from that dream with the certain knowledge that forgiveness would set me free. Yet I knew I could not do it alone. I sat on the edge of my bed and prayed for God’s help to forgive all those grudges I had recorded in my heart. Cleansing tears streamed down my face as I poured out my prayer to Jesus.

That very hour I felt something was different. The darkness had been lifted and the light of hope streamed in. That was over twenty years ago and although I can still be a bit melancholy, I have never again felt the deep and abiding hopelessness that tried to lure me to the medicine cabinet.

Your sister in Christ, Linda

AnotherFearlessYear.net

Featured

Thinking Without My “Tin Foil Hat”

As we think of mental illness an immediate question arises:  what is “serious” mental illness, and how is it different from the normal issues that are part of everyday life?

Wearing a tin-foil hat is the delusion that those who wear them are some how protected from space rays or conspiracy theories. Crazy, I know. But some believers approach mental illness in this way.
Brother and sister, we’re called to think biblically. Ephesians 6:17 tells us that the “helmet of salvation” is the only head gear we’re called to wear. It tells us that the ‘warriors’ protection is God’s salvation. We are protected by a helmet of truth.
We must educate ourselves, through our community, and knowledgeable Christian leadership, to serve the broken that are in our midst.  This figure includes a wide variety of disorders, these stats are compelling:
  • Severe mental illnesses affect 5.4 percent of adults,
  • Some 22 to 23 percent of the U.S. adult population—or 44 million people-“have diagnosable mental disorders”
  • Such statistics only begin to capture the level of pain many of our fellow believers endure daily.

 One person wrote of the broad reach of mental illness:

“I have a thousand faces, and I am found in all races. Sometimes rich, sometimes poor, sometimes young, sometimes old. I am a person with the disabling pain of a broken brain.”

We must find an acceptable form of understanding about mental illness if we are going to find our way to those who are quite frankly, very definitely lost.

Both Scripture and eldership, (healthy counseling), should be an active component to recovery. The sacrifical sacrifice of Jesus, through His blood must be taught again to the afflicted. Mental disease needs to be as understood in the same context as a physical one (e.g. diabeties or cancer).

Discernment must be sought as the whole person often needs to be taught. Issues like guilt, unforgiveness and pride are a big part of seeing people set free. Issues of past trauma like sexual and phyical abuse are factors as well.

 Your support of Brokenbelievers.com through your prayers and encouragement goes a long way. Linda and I need your help in this. We both need wisdom and a gentle hand on our lives. As we reach out, a ‘tinfoil hat’ is definitely not part of our acceptable head gear. 

The Father’s love embraces the torn and wounded consistently. This is the key to the healing of a broken heart.

Featured

When You Need to Cover Nakedness

“And don’t build an altar that requires steps; you might expose yourself when you climb up”.

Exodus 20:26

“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.”

1 Peter 4:8

While I lived in the SOS Ministry house in the Mission District of San Francisco a dear brother taught me this principle.  Living in Christian community is a really wonderful thing.  But it also could be a challenge at times.  What Michael shared, allowed my understanding to grow to meet the need of the moment.

The principle is this:  

We are called to cover up our brother’s nakedness.

 Throughout the scripture “being naked, or nakedness” is always a shame.  It comes welded to the concept of being vulnerable or exposed to the sight of everyone else.  It also carries the idea of sin; it is sin that everyone can see; it is very obvious.

For those of us who often sin, we evolve the idea of keeping a lid on it, and being secretive with it.  There will be people who will never know.  Often sex sin, drug and alcohol sin, both are kept hidden from view of family and friends, and the Church.

Noah and His Nakedness, Genesis 9

“Noah became a farmer and planted a vineyard. When he drank wine made from his grapes, he became drunk and lay naked in his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, looked at his naked father and told his brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth got a coat and, carrying it on both their shoulders, they walked backwards into the tent and covered their father.”

“They turned their faces away so that they did not see their father’s nakedness.”  

Genesis 9:20-24

It’s hard to process this patriarch’s gross sin. 

However in all fairness Noah had lost everything in the flood, so perhaps we should be gentle with him. On the other hand, people who cover up the nakedness of others seem to be gentle and humble.  They would never, ever dream of making a scandal.  They are trustworthy and understand to a great degree the things that make a man or woman of God.

Leviticus 18 is the “magnum opus” of nakedness.

We are pretty much told over and over in this chapter, not to ever uncover another. Actually is pretty emphatic and somewhat redundant. But I think the Lord wanted it repeated this way.

Our vulnerabilities are there for all to see.  But there are also men and women who go out of their way to protect and shield.  They are safe people, in the classic sense of the word.  They cover-up, but never in negative or criminal way, but in love and blessing. (If it is a serious crime, the police should be involved.)

Mature believers will step forward and protect the open areas of others. 

Quite often we are exposed, open to attack on our weaknesses.  Mature believers will step forward and protect the open areas of others.  They will refuse to judge or point out sins.  But they will stand in the gap, shielding and protecting.

God’s final word on nakedness is in Revelation 3:18, and this is a good place to conclude this post,

“My advice to you is to buy pure gold from me, gold purified by fire—only then will you truly be rich. And to purchase from me white garments, clean and pure, so you won’t be naked and ashamed; and to get medicine from me to heal your eyes and give you back your sight.”

*bry-signat (1)

Featured

God Loves Misfits

They were a motley collection of misfits.

A tiny purple alyssum and a scraggly white alyssum. Two mini daisies. A wee snapdragon with a single bloom. Each had volunteered in various annual pots left on our deck over the winter. As spring sprung, so did these tenacious sprouts.

We wanted to plant new, healthy flowers in the old pots. But I couldn’t bear to toss my little band of misfits. Somehow I knew they held such promise. They were of hearty stock, small though they were. So I replanted them all in what I dubbed my planter of misfits.

Misfits1

Kind of pitiful, isn’t it? Still, this silly planter grew dear to my heart.

Jesus’s Band of Misfits

The disciples that Jesus called to follow him were a lot like the sprouts in this planter. They were a motley collection of misfits. A few fishermen. A tax collector. A zealot and a thief. None were learned men. Not quite what we would expect the God of the Universe to choose for his followers.

But choose them, he did. And at times they were quite pitiful. They misunderstood his teachings. They jockeyed among themselves for position. They doubted—oh, how they doubted. Then they all scattered when he was arrested.

Still, Jesus knew somehow that they held promise. They had potential. With a little training, some time with the Master, and an infusion of the Holy Spirit, they would become a great band of disciples. Pointing others directly to God and his Messiah, they would start the Church—his Church—that would still exist 2,000 years later.

My Lovely Band of Misfits

I doubt my little planter will still be in existence in 2,000 years, or even two. But with a little care and watering, an infusion of fertilizer and sunshine, it has grown into a beautiful planter of flowers.

Misfits2

The purple, yellow, and white overflow the pot and provide beauty to my deck railing. I am delighted that I had faith in the ability of these sprouts to blossom into something extraordinary.

We Are All Misfits

Have you felt like a misfit, too? I know I have on many occasions. I struggle to fit in and I doubt—oh, how I doubt—my own potential. When depression threatens, I even doubt God’s love and my own worth in this world.

But God knows our potential. We who follow Jesus are his people, called to bring him glory. We are called to sprout and grow in beauty and faith. We may be a motley band of misfits, but we are his misfits. And we are dear to his heart.

Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present.

There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.

Philippians 1:3–6, Message

Your Sister in Christ,

Linda K. 

 

Linda K.

Linda’s Blog

Featured

Other Blogs by Linda & Bryan

A Place where His Light Shines Bright

Linda L. Kruschke

Linda writes candid memoir and fearless poetry, and delves into hard issues others tend to avoid. She is also a sexual assault survivor and a recovering lawyer. She wants you to know God’s redemption and healing are just a story away. Because she struggles at times with depression and chronic fibromyalgia pain, she shows compassion to others who do as well. God often teaches her important lessons in everyday events and she shares those lessons with her readers. She publishes a monthly email newsletter that you can subscribe to here.

  • anotherfearlessyear.net – A hodge-podge of poetry, essays, recipes, and more, started in 2009 on a whim as a place to share God’s truth, love, and grace.
  • themighty.com – Linda’s corner of a community of people who struggle together with chronic and mental illnesses, encouraging one another to keep moving forward.
  • anchoredvoices.com – A place for women to use their words and creativity to point each other to the God who anchors the soul. Linda is the resident poet. Guest submissions encouraged.

Bryan Lowe

Bryan is dedicated to serving broken Christians through a message of grace and discipleship. His special focus is ministering to mental illnesses and other disabilities. He has been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and Lewy Body Dementia. God has called him to write and encourage after 35 years of full-time ministry. He was ordained as a Pastor in 1996.

Bryan’s Testimony–“A Savior of Crazy People

  • gospels101.com A fresh and different look at the people in the Gospels whom met Jesus Christ face-to-face. A new perspective that will make things become alive for the reader.
  • redletterstudy.com A walk with Jesus through the “red letters” of scripture, examining the words and miracles of Jesus Christ. In many Bibles his words are in red, that is the thought behind this blog. It’s also a devotional study with simple entries that are short, and hopefully a blessing.
  • parables101.com This is a devotional look at the parables Jesus used and the Kingdom insights that explain the way it meets us.
  • songsstudy.wordpress.com Considering the love of Jesus for your soul. Short devotional posts that survey the Book of Song of Solomon, passage by passage.

There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.

Philippians 1:6, The Message Bible

Featured

A Savior of “Crazy People”

“For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night.”

1 Thess. 5:5

My testimony of the grace of God:

A year before I received Christ as my Savior, I was hospitalized in a U.S. Army psychiatric ward.  My uniform was replaced with the distinctive attire of a mental patient.  Ironically, I’d been attached to the same hospital working on the pediatric floor.  And to make things only slightly more surreal was that a medic there on the psych ward was someone I bought drugs from!

Previous to this hospitalization, I had dropped two hits of LSD and found myself in an awful mess.  It was night and I was hallucinating heavily.  I had lost control of my thoughts.  I had pretty much flipped out  and it entered my drug saturated brain that the darkness would kill me that very night!

Utterly convinced I was going to die, my mind seized upon the street lights. 

If I could stay in that illuminated circle I could escape dying that night!  The light would save me.  I stood under that street light for several hours.  As I stood I could see very clearly the boundary between the light and the dark.  I knew I was safe as long as I didn’t wander, but I was trapped.

Despite that traumatic experience, the drugs and my mental instability continued to slide. 

I was shooting up cocaine, crossing my “no needle rule.”  I also became quite the heavy drinker, with Jack Daniels for breakfast.  I had one basic rule though.  As a medic who worked in maternal/child health, I had the best assignment in the Army.  Many people coveted it, and I was not going to endanger it by drugs or alcohol. 

I never went on duty loaded.  It was my rule. I would be the best medic the Army ever had.

Shortly after my psych ward discharge, I was reassigned to Labor & Delivery on the night shift.  One slow time I was pulled from my duty there to go on an ambulance run as the medic in charge.  We were called to officer’s housing were an older man had died in bed. This got me thinking.  Back at the hospital I returned to L&D.  On the way back I took a shortcut through a ward on another floor.  That’s when I found it!

On a waiting room table was a small book called, “More Than a Carpenter” by Josh McDowell.  I picked it up, reading it right on duty because there were no one in the delivery room.  By the end of my shift I was well on my way to becoming a Christian.  It was a book solidly speaking of the light, and of the dark.  And I knew beyond a doubt that I couldn’t remain in the dark anymore.

I was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in June of 1982. 

I became a born again believer shortly after that.  I went to Bible College that October.  Life has become radically different, and over time I became a missionary and a pastor. 

All I can tell you is that Jesus is real, he is alive and the Bible is true.  I have translated from the dark to the light, and I am not afraid anymore.  Jesus is my light.

“The people who sat in darkness
    have seen a great light.
And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow,
    a light has shined.”

Matthew 4:16

Some Very Good Links:

“How to be Saved,” gotquestions

The Sheer Hopelessness of Mental Illness,” brokenbelievers.com

Alaska Bible Institute, my Bible College, (a great school)

“More Than a Carpenter”, by Josh McDowell, (check it out on Amazon) 

 
Featured

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 perhaps be honestly 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.   Water always finds the lowest point, were it pools and gathers into the place of healing others. Perhaps the Holy Spirit will not lead us ‘deeper’ until we start practicing true humility.

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.

We must scrub our way into the heart of our sister and brother with a basin and towel. 

The challenge for us will be a super-challenge.  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.

Featured

Was Jesus Mentally Disturbed?


“When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

Mark 3:21, NIV

Even our Lord’s own family did not believe Him.  I can see them gathering out of concern, not only for concern for Jesus, but for the family name– perhaps they felt a need even to protect themselves?  They talked at length, and decided on an intervention, to take custodial care– as families must do at these difficult times.

Jesus had been saying things, disturbing things. 

He had resolutely confronted the religious system, and then rebuked King Herod and the civil government.  He was living on an edge, and the sense that His family had was that He had become mentally unhinged.  He had been cavorting with decidedly irreligious and wicked people.  He lived in constant bedlam, with people mobbing Him for healing.

His teaching seemed extremely radical, almost absurd. His “parables” contained bizarre ideas. And the massive crowds actually would chase Him, trying to anticipate His next move. He was essentially a celebrity –  a “rock star.” I suppose we have no idea, of His appeal to the masses.

We have some choices that must be made. What do we make of Jesus? Is Jesus Christ:

  • Legend
  • Lunatic
  • Liar
  • Lord and GOD?

In his famous book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis makes this statement,

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg–or he would be the devil of hell.”

“You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.”

The accusation has often been the case for His followers. Some of Paul’s friends thought he was crazy when he went blazing over land and sea to carry the gospel to every city. But his answer was, “No, I am not crazy; the love of Christ controls me” (2 Cor. 5:14). 

This was a good kind of crazy. 

He was being used by Jesus to continue the ministry that Jesus had started– the establishment of the Kingdom of God. 

I believe it is a far deeper insanity, that seals up the truth and the light and keeps it away from unbelievers.  It is crazy to know total forgiveness and unconditional love, and then to avoid opportunities to share that same love. Now, that is crazy!

Our fear of being ostracized and mocked is an intense experience. Peer pressure is not just something our teens go through. We are always in danger of being molded into the world’s image.

Who are we? 

Our Lord and Master was vilified, He was falsely accused of insanity.  But perhaps, it is the other way around.  Perhaps it is this world, and its bondages and sicknesses that is ill.  

You must decide.

Please see this link: “Who is Jesus Really?”

Featured

Mastered by Jesus

“A Christian is not a person who believes in his head the teachings of the Bible. Satan believes in his head the teachings of the Bible!”

“A Christian is a person who has died with Christ, whose stiff neck has been broken, whose brazen forehead has been shattered, whose stony heart has been crushed, whose pride has been slain, and whose life is now mastered by Jesus Christ.”

–John Piper

No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

John 15:15

It seems that the purpose of life is not to find our freedom. It’s really meant to find our Master.

Yes, the idea of being a slave to anyone is repugnant. We chafe at this, and yet man was never meant to be seperated from the Lordship of Jesus. We’re instructed repeatedly with the New Testament idea that “our life is not our own”  Over and over God proclaims Himself as the King.

That troubles us somewhat.

Not so much when life is fairly good, granted, but in those hard moments when a decision must be made between enjoying the titillating “lusts of the flesh,” or accepting the fruits of the Spirit. This is one of those “lordship moments.” They come, and go, and they show us exactly who we are.

If you’re really going to be authentic–a legitimate and real disciple, then you must determine who is going to be “boss.” This isn’t one of those casual decisions. You must securely fix it in your heart.

Your decision must become a settled issue.

The thief on the cross knew salvation, he was promised an eternity with God simply by faith. But I submit to you that he had put himself under the Lordship of Jesus, simply by recognizing the sign, “the King of the Jews.” I believe he saw and understood its imlications. Jesus was King!

This is a very hard word for some, but many of our personal issues hinge on this.

I know this first-hand. It can be a monumental struggle. You must admit to not only having Jesus as your Savior, but you also must put your life under His total Lordship.  You need to pick up your cross daily in order to follow.  You need to learn how to kneel.

I’ve chosen a crown to open up this post–it’s done on purpose.  I simply want you to to understand the supreme call He has on your life. Here’s Bob Dylan, and he nails this idea down:

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

You must learn here and now to kneel before the Sovereign King

 

Featured

Not Better Off Dead

A few weeks ago in response to a poetics prompt to write about a first time for something, I thought of something that I have only done once, and am thankful I’ve never had happen again. But there are people who have had this happen so many times they maybe can’t even remember the first time.

My prayers are with them, my hope that they recognize the lie that suicide is the answer to pain and suffering and that our loved ones would be better off if we were dead.

Not Better Off Dead

Clearly I recall the first time
the thought entered my mind
They’d be better off if I was dead

I immediately knew it was wrong
but still a method to my madness
began to form in the recesses of
my deeply troubled mind

I could picture the bottle of pills
designed to make me better
but could just as easily
be my demise

Then they’d be free, I’d be free

The Psalmist wrote
The angel of the LORD encamps around
those who fear him, and he delivers them

That first time His angel
was encamped around me

He delivered me from that first thought
made me know it was wrong
ensured it was the last time
that thought ever entered my mind

Now we are free and together
because the Lord let me know
I was not better off dead

*

Linda’s Blog.

I write candid memoir and fearless poetry and delve into hard issues others tend to avoid. I want you to know God’s redemption and healing are just a story away.

Featured

The Coming Train Wreck, [Future Events]

”The Lord helps them,
    rescuing them from the wicked.
He saves them,
    and they find shelter in him.

Psalm 37:40, NLT

We are witnessing something awful and terrible.  Our society is being destroyed.  We are just bystanders, there is really nothing we can do.  However, the survivors will need our assistance.  So we will wait for the inevitable crash, and our chance to bring our Savior’s love into the awful melee which will follow.

Things are accelerating. 

This heightens the tension, which pervades our lives.  We make assumptions of the upcoming derailment which may, or may not be accurate.  But we all sense something dreadful and foreboding is approaching.

Something evil this way comes.  It’s seems that it is inevitable.  They say that just before a big thunderstorm, the birds head for safety, they disappear.  The birds know, while we are still trying to connect the dots.  We look to the skies, and anticipate a coming danger.

The crisis that is coming will stagger the unbeliever. It will challenge the believer.

As Christian believers, we must ready ourselves.  Our viewpoint of eternity will become a much needed commodity for those who go through the devastation of the train wreck.  It is what will pull us through some black and bleak times.  But we can ask for grace, not just to help us, but to help them.

When the storm gets close, the best we can do is to head for the “storm cellar.”  As a boy, growing up in the Midwest, I have clear and distinct memories of heading for that basement shelter, with my family.  When a massive event is coming and seen on the horizon, the only thing we can do is find shelter.  To choose to hide, and to take cover can only be prudence, and wisdom.

While things are collapsing, we need to find solace in His shelter. 

His wings shelter us, and we find refuge in that intimate place.  So much news is grim, and we can so easily slip into depression and despair.  We look around, and turn directly to the wings that cover us.  We are protected and sheltered in that place. The metaphor perfectly fits perfectly.

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.”

Psalm 91:1-2

We should rest our souls in Him. 

Some may look at everything coming down and decide to step right into storm to shut it down.  But it can’t stop, it is of the Lord.  Quite a few of the prophets in the Old Testament saw and knew what was going to happen.  They couldn’t do anything against Babylon or Assyria.  But with their voices they strengthened and encouraged God’s own against an outrageous brutality. That is a good thing.

bry-signat (1)

Featured

Hello Darkness, We Meet Again

It’s a Psalm written in black ink on black paper. I can’t find a glimmer of light in its 18 verses. Psalm 88 is the worst psalm in Scripture. Strangely enough in Hebrew, the last word of the last sentence is “darkness.” I suppose that explains a lot about its content and significance.

Within its dark words, we see and hear much that we’d rather not.

A commentator describes Psalms 88 as “the public confession of persons excommunicated.” Others suggest that the writer has discovered he has the physical disease of leprosy. This Psalm is bitter and hard. Its companions are the book of Job and Lamentations. They’re part of the Word of God we would rather forget.

As believers in Jesus Christ, how do we deal with such awful darkness?

I dare you to read verses 3-5 of Psalm 88. They pronounce the depth of the afflicted:

I’ve had my fill of trouble;
    I’m camped on the edge of hell.
I’m written off as a lost cause,
    one more statistic, a hopeless case.
Abandoned as already dead,
    one more body in a stack of corpses,
And not so much as a gravestone—
    I’m a black hole in oblivion.
You’ve dropped me into a bottomless pit,
    sunk me in a pitch-black abyss.

Psalm 88 is nothing less than a scream of pain directed at God.

It’s the almost animal screech of the human heart that encounters the worst. Some would suggest that a believer is immune from this kind of darkness, that as a believer in Christ’s victory we’re exempt and delivered from these things.

Explain that to the man who loses his family in a car crash, or to the woman who has just been told she has leukemia. What about the young girl who has just been brutally attacked and raped? Where is God then?

Is there room in your personal theology for such terrible darkness?

We’re not immune from tragedy as believers. It’s a part of living in a fallen world. If anything at all, pain teaches us things we’ll never learn in the sterility of a classroom. If we’re going to survive this suffering it will mean we’ll need to throw ourselves on God like never before.

God has not suddenly lost control of the universe, or, of your life.

If we turn to God in faith, like a little child, we will be led (far too slowly it seems) through our hard (impossible?) things. And we’ll understand what faith really is, and we’ll learn how to love like never before.

We are following Jesus and He has led us to this grief for His reasons.

Most jewelers will display their most precious diamonds on a black background. Perhaps that helps us sort this out. Hebrews 12:5-13 is a bit of a challenge. In theory, we grasp it, but in reality, it’s bittersweet. The sweet part is His closeness–we’re sons and daughters!

 “Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline?” 

Hebrews 12:7, CSB

Bring your pain and suffering into His tender light, and do so repeatedly. Let the gentle arms of the crucified One hold you close. Pour your heart out to Him-if you’re broken then bring Him the pieces. I encourage you to not waste your sorrows.

Featured

Am I Like Peter?

To follow Him can be really hard. There doesn’t seem to be any contingency plan for any who are looking to escape such a drastic call. Jesus either is, or He isn’t our Lord. “Do you also want to leave?” This is a question that will be asked to every disciple–sometimes once, and sometimes repeatedly.

There are these crystalline moments when I must make a decision. Will I take up my cross and go with Him? There doesn’t seem to be any room in Jesus’ band for ‘almost’ disciples. That scares me sometimes.

Being obedient is far from easy. Today’s cross is waiting for me. I’m afraid at times that I won’t be able to take the next step as a true follower. Am I just fooling myself?

All of heaven seems to stand on tiptoe to see what I’m going to do next.

Who am I really?

“After this, many of his disciples left. They no longer wanted to be associated with him. Then Jesus gave the Twelve their chance:

“Do you also want to leave?”

“Peter replied, “Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. We’ve already committed ourselves, confident that you are the Holy One of God.”

John 6:66-69, The Message

Image from Wikipedia, verses are from The Message Bible by Eugene Peterson.

Featured

God’s Red Bull

We are told to press in, and to reach. 

We’re to be energized by contact with God’s Spirit.  He fills us up, enables us to run full tilt, stretching and straining.  The muscles in the neck popping out, and lunging for the tape. This is Paul’s understanding of his daily walk.

Paul was an athlete in the Spirit.

These days, developing a spiritual athleticism would not be such a bad idea.  We live in a society where we sit and watch the NFL: there are 22 men on the field, desperately in need of rest, and they’re surrounded by 50,000 people desperately in need of exercise.  We have become a society of observers and that is a shame. 

God loves us, sent his only Son to die for us.  God sets us up with a energy-packed, Red Bull. And I respond with an anemic, 2% milk religion.  And that perhaps is the real tragedy.

There’s a real tendency for entropy as a follower of Jesus.  Things have a real tendency to wind down, and start moving in the opposite direction.  I think all of us can relate to the “Sunday Syndrome.” In this truly wonderful world of fellowship, worship and the Word we seem to come together.  Life is good on a Sunday morning.  And it should be.

But we wind down, and by Thursday we have sinned and compromised a hundred times or more.  Life is not good on a Thursday afternoon.  Because of our mental illness this degradation downward is usually worse.  We experience a whole lot of shame and guilt. And that poisons our spirits.  

Throw into the mix some depression, anxiety, or OCD and it makes consistency even harder.  It’s a challenge to maintain a credible Christian walk. It’s kind of the deflated feeling  four hours after downing three Red Bulls.

Paul, always an interesting fellow, described his own personal walk with Jesus in Philippians 3:10f. in the Message Bible.

10-11I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.

 12-14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this…

...but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. 

Can you really tap into all of that energy? 

Paul is downright aggressive here, he models a “muscular Christianity” that pushes through every obstacle, whether within or without.  Most of our translations use the word “work” when translating “effort”.  The Church fathers used the word “energy” instead.  There is a distinction. 

Energy, or “energize” denotes an outside source for power.  I energize my electric razor when I plug it in at night.  It takes a charge and runs accordingly on demand.

We are told to press in, and to reach. 

We’re to be energized by contact with God’s Spirit.  He fills us up, enables us to run full tilt, stretching and straining.  The muscles in the neck popping out, and lunging for the tape. This is Paul’s understanding of his daily walk.

Paul was an athlete in the Spirit.

These days, developing a spiritual athleticism would not be such a bad idea.  We live in a society where we sit and watch the NFL: there are 22 men on the field, desperately in need of rest, and they’re surrounded by 50,000 people desperately in need of exercise.  We have become a society of observers and that is a shame. 

God loves us, sent his only Son to die for us.  God sets us up with a energy-packed, Red Bull. And I respond with an anemic, 2% milk religion.  And that perhaps is the real tragedy.

Featured

Loneliness is Real

“I lie awake.
I am like a lonely bird on a housetop.” 

Psalm 102:7, NCV 

 “The first time I defended myself, no one helped me; everyone left me. May they be forgiven.”  

   2 Timothy 4:16, NCV

The Bible is very sensitive and aware of the difficulties of loneliness

Many in its pages, must deal with the sense of being left alone. We’ll encounter this awful thing before our day is done.  To be alone, isolated, and separated brings us a ‘solitary confinement‘ of our hearts.  That difficult confinement will never be easy.

There’s also a place where the Lord orders us to be quarantined. In order to deal with certain sins, He will purposefully isolate us from others. Believe it or not, our sinful attitude can spread to others. I have seen this and have experienced it for myself.

Both David and Paul were often lonely. 

King David looked around and found nobody that he could be with.  He felt like a solitary bird when all had flown away.  The apostle Paul knew true abandonment.  Everyone had left him by himself in this difficult spot. The reality is, we need others.  And often, too often, this is withheld from us, and we’re somewhat vulnerable.

Jesus knew what it was like to be terribly lonely. 

“You will leave me alone, but I am never really alone because the Father is with me”  (read John 16).  I often think He spent all that time in prayer, to somehow connect with His Father because of loneliness.  It seems Jesus had a deep need to be understood.

Loneliness can be redeemed. 

It very often can spur us into a deeper awareness of the Spirit.  As a point of bruised weakness, it can bring us to a sense of His deep love for us.  It will probably not change the situation, but it can change our hearts.

Loneliness is one of our Lord’s favorite tools in restoring our hard hearts.  It has a wonderful capacity to do things in us, that none of  His other ways would work.  It can be the perfect mechanism for Him to deeply touch us.  And He will not hesitate to use it.

Often there can be a severe loneliness as we move toward Him. 

This is acquired loneliness that comes when we start separating ourselves from the World.  Few or any will understand you, or why you are doing this.  To follow Jesus, is to become like Him.  If He struggled at times with loneliness, so will you.

I have nothing at all to say to those who want to escape this bitter misery.  I can say no ‘magic words’ that will lift you out of this pain.  I do understand, I really do.  All I can tell you is that He is wildly and passionately in love with you.  If everyone forsakes you and leaves you standing alone in a tight spot, He will be there.

“For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  

Hebrews 13:5

Featured

The Snare of the Fowler, A Satanic Trap

“Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the perilous pestilence.”

He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.”

Psalm 91:3-4, NKJV

“There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan.”

C.S. Lewis

I believe that there is a great opposition to living free. Satan contests every square inch. His ‘modus operandi’ parallels the predator. He likes to hunt human beings. We see his power and influence all around us.

I’m being quite careful not to be melodramatic or manipulative when I say this, but Satan has a terrible plan for your life. He often uses human ‘lackies’ to carry out his wishes.They will use deception, lies and foolishness to snare people’s souls. They [he] will even resort to brute force. As a result, many believers are being persecuted for their faith.

Some Old Testament thoughts:
14 “David now stayed in the strongholds of the wilderness and in the hill country of Ziph. Saul hunted him day after day, but God didn’t let Saul find him.”
1 Samuel 23:14, NLT
5 “My future is in your hands.  Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.”
Psalm 31:15
7 “We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap. The trap is broken, and we are free!”
Psalm 124:7

And there is plenty more where this come from. And we haven’t even got to the New Testament yet, where there are substantial references to this kind of attack. The doctrine of Satan is developed further there. Perhaps it is because we encounter the person of Jesus Christ and the act of personal redemption He made for each of us. Through this we discover that we have an enemy that we were never really aware before. And guess what— he hates us!

Some New Testament thoughts:
4 “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News.”
2 Corinthians 4:4
12 “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
Ephesians 6:12

Just as we have in Jesus a personal savior, we find we also have an anagonist and a sworn enemy that is set on going to war on us. We didn’t ask for it, and it would be really swell if he didn’t exist at all. But the evil around us has a source  and we dare not minimize it.

Our fealty to Jesus becomes critical at times like this. Spiritual warfare has an ebb and a flow to it, sometimes the battles can be intense, and at other times less so. But we cannot do nothing at all apart from the blood of Christ. We must defend ourselves, by calling out to God, or else we will become a casualty.

  1. We can pray.
  2. We can read truth (the Bible).
  3. We can praise and worship.
  4. We can put on “the armor of God’ (Ephesians 6:11).
  5. We can “submit to God” (James 4:7).
  6. We can resist Satan and be firm in our faith, (1 Peter 5:9).
  7. We can “plead the blood of Jesus” over our lives, and over our loved ones, (Exodus 12:13)

Probably the capstone is the following verse. This pretty much sums up this ‘act of resistance’ we are all called to do. I wanted to emphasize it because it is critical:

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

1 Peter 5:8

Featured

The Scum of the Earth

“But when some of the Jewish religious leaders saw him eating with these men of ill repute, they said to his disciples, “How can he stand it, to eat with such scum?'”

Mark 2:16

“When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.”I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.”

I Corinthians 4:12-13

My ministry is “Scum of the Earth Teaching Ministry.”

Here is the teaching I gave on “How Scum Hear His Voice” given at a home fellowship group given on February 9, 2020, Homer, Alaska.

The video teaching can be found here.

It was a bitterly cold night, with lots of wind, but the fellowship was very good. and the wood stove was a blessing. After this teaching, we had a good time praying and took communion.

I really hope this blesses you.

Featured

More Like a Hospital!

“The church is not a select circle of the immaculate, but a home where the outcast may come in.”

“It is not a palace with gate attendants and challenging sentinels along the entrance-ways holding off at arm’s-length the stranger, but rather a hospital where the broken-hearted may be healed, and where all the weary and troubled may find rest and take counsel together.”

James H. Aughey

We live in challenging times. As people of faith, we’re slowly learning what Jesus really wants the Church to understand. Sometimes it seems we are taking two steps forward, and once step back. The Church must reacquaint itself with the total love of God for people once again.

The Father hasn’t given up on us. Repeatedly, over and over, (and then over again) we learn about His unreal faithfulness to the Church and His love for all people. But sometimes we have a hard time believing these things. Honestly, we’re not what we should be, but thank God we’re not like we were. We’re learning this as well.

On an individual levei we find it’s the “poor in spirit” and those who “mourn” (Matthew 5:3-5) who are the fortunate ones–these are those who are “blessed.” We are needy people, but the Father has and is seeking us. Always. He’s more faithful than the ‘faithfulist’ person who has ever lived!

And we also must understand this. He is always seeking those who are on the margins: the lame, blind, sick and crippled. (I for one have managed to combine all of these!) But thank God He’s still in the business of ‘collecting’ people who are desperate. And if you can’t see this, perhaps you should.

The Church, and the churches we attend, are meant for those who are sick–the outcasts. It’s primarily a hospital, and the “sentinels” (pastors and elders, and others) must understand this. We must know and believe this. And we must know for ourselves the love “the passes all understanding.”

Jesus loves all, but He’s looking for the outcasts.

A really good study are those persons in scripture, who in their neediness, scream out “Son of God, have mercy on me.” There are 4-5 in the Gospels who said this (outloud) and although they modify this plea/prayer in slightly different ways, all of them are very desperate.

(I’m seriously thinking about changing my middle name to “desperate.”) 

I encourage you to study this out, and get a deep handle on it. 

Our churches mustn’t lose sight of this kind of love, and if your fellowship isn’t doing this, just maybe you’re the one called to implement it. (And if this isn’t possible, you might consider moving on.)

Please reject the country club version of the Church. It isn’t right and it’s not the heart of God. It’s religion that comes to us in its gradient forms of foolishness. It doesn’t really reflect the intense seeking love of God. Somehow, along the way, these churches got lost. 

I suppose that the challenge/temptation is not just to turn away from the pigs like the prodigal did. But on the other hand, we also must not go to the opposite end–we dare NOT become the older brother– (Luke 15:1-2 and vv. 30-32). We usually will be one or the other. Unfortunately.

The question facing the Church is this:

Do we want a face-lift or a heart transplant?

One is for looking better, the other describes an entire overhaul. One is cosmetic, the other is a matter of life and death. One is minor, the other is not. What kind does the Church have?

————

I don’t know who the artist is who created this artwork that opens this. It resonates within my heart, and I love the ‘feel’ it brings. Notice the figures, they all have soiled garments, even the one doing the ministry!

Featured

Martyrdom Maybe?

martyers

Believers must consider the issues of being salt and light in a pagan culture who refuses to claim Christ as Lord.

The Words of Jesus demand our complete response to the Gospel. The temptation is often reducing the call to something easier and more comfortable. We don’t really want to give up the world’s system for all that the Kingdom of God declares to be true.

It’s imperative as disciples that we fully understand that Jesus is Lord, not a political leader–not a nation or a political party. We’ve become citizen’s of something that is superior to a patriotic physical reality. We don’t fit. (Philippians 3:20 and Ephesians 2:19.)

Steps to faithful living as we seperate ourselves from the World’s way of doing things really must be considered:

In order to do this must make the choice:

  • To be true. Endure. Continue to pray and witness. Be faithful to Him.
  • To be prayerful. At least working on it. I know prayer is supremely powerful, linking my inadequacy with God’s capability.
  •  To be joyful. Sing often. Thanksgiving all the time. Our tormentors hate joyful hearts. It seems to disturb the darkness that is part of sin and rebellion.
  • To be real. Being faithful to Jesus. No lies, no illusions. Every aspect of our lives is to be the truth. We understand that Jesus is alive, and He is Lord.
  • To be giving. Time or talent, it’s a stringent test of a believer’s maturity. Money is secondary. We serve Jesus with an open hand.
  • To be convinced. We need to become fully convinced of the message of the gospel, and to be sure of His love. Not easy, but always needful. 

In the time of ancient Rome, Christians were in the limelight, it seems, but only as martyrs. Believers made a definite decison to die rather than renounce their faith. Often faithfulness was especially hard–one had to count a cost to follow.

It’s good to understand the world never burned a casual Christian at the stake.

The lions in the Coliseum made quick work of the Christian’s faith. Thousands of believers were burned at the stake. But these martyrs succeeded in reaching many by their witness, and a pagan empire was brought to Christ, en masse!

Someone said that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.”

Perhaps martyrdom will be our path to reach America with the Gospel.  The New Testament word for “witness” is martyr.  It very well may be that our blood will be the seed for a new generation of believers. It should come as no surprise. 

martyrdomI preached once on the UC Berkeley campus.  It’s a  challenging place; a condensed stronghold of a godless ‘intellectualism’ (if you can imagine that).  There is always a few people that for the most part bright and engaging. 

But as I got ready to leave, I met a university professor.  He looked at me in his tweed jacket and sweater vest and said something I will never forget.  “Too bad we can’t feed you to the lions”.  That’s all he said. When he spoke to me it was was a flat-calm statement–terse, cold and frightening–it was eerie and quite weird– mostly because I knew he meant it. 

In this ‘enlightened’ campus, there was a coldness–a hatred that I never encountered in the areas of inner San Francisco–Polk Street. or the Tenderloin’ where I preached also.

True, the Haight/Ashbury neighborhood in SF can be a little ‘rough’ at times, I once was punched in the face while preaching by an angry ex-believer, but to be honest, nothing compared to ‘Berzerkeley‘ (that’s what we called it.)

In three years of full-time evangelism I never met another man that was as hateful to the gospel of Jesus Christ as this professor in Berkeley. This incident was a brazen and deliberate calculation against the Gospel. Perhaps persecution by hardcore intellectuals will become the catalyst for our martyrdom to come. (?!).

No matter what happens. We are in God’s hands. Period. 

Our obedience to Jesus should be a decision we must make right now.  We can’t just hope to stand, or hope to be faithful. We must actively plan for persecution. This could very well be our time. It’s coming. And please get ready, you must watch and pray.

“But others trusted God and were beaten to death, preferring to die rather than turn from God and be free—trusting that they would rise to a better life afterwards.”

Hebrews 11:35

 

Post art “The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer,”  by Jean-Leon Gerome (1824-1904)

Featured

Listening to the Spirit’s Nudge

Did you ever get the urge to call someone you hadn’t talked to in a while? Or to send an email to a friend you hadn’t seen in ages? I know you have — we all get those thoughts and urges seemingly out of the blue.

The more important question is, do you listen and follow through?

 Do you pick up the phone or compose that email? Or do you just let it pass?

The older I get the more I realize that those thoughts and urges to contact someone I haven’t thought of in a long time is really the Holy Spirit nudging me to be there for that person when they need it most. God created us to be in relationship with Him and with others, and He delights when we heed His nudge and provide support to others when He knows they need it most.

This kind of Holy Spirit nudge happened to me just last week.

It had been over a month since I had posted anything here at Broken Believers, and hadn’t really thought about Pastor Bryan or the folks who read this blog for a while because I was wrapped up in my own life. I guess I figured Bryan had it handled and would keep the fires burning here for the many Christians struggling with mental illness and in need of support.

Then last week I had this overwhelming urge to post something here, and the phrase “melancholy beckons me” kept running through my head as a post topic (which I did post last Saturday). I heeded the Spirit’s urging to post something, only to discover that Bryan’s computer had died and he was unable to post anything, and will be out of commission for a few more days at least.

I didn’t know that he was experiencing this problem, but God did. And I believe God knew that it was important for the lifeline that is Broken Believers not be set adrift even for a week.

So I am here to help because the Holy Spirit nudged.

He does that, you know, more often than we’d like to admit. For the broken believers of the world, and those who know and love them, I believe that heeding the Spirit’s nudge is of the utmost importance. He made us to be in relationship — to uphold, encourage, and strengthen one another in times of trial and darkness — and what a blessing it is when we follow His lead.

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Philippians 2:1-2 (NIV).

 

Featured

Welcome to Schizophrenia

Do you know someone who seems like he or she has “lost touch” with reality? Does this person talk about “hearing voices” no one else can? Does he or she see or feel things that others can’t? Does this person believe things that aren’t true?

Sometimes people with these symptoms have schizophrenia, a serious illness.

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a serious brain illness. Many people with schizophrenia are disabled by their symptoms.

People with schizophrenia may hear voices other people don’t hear. They may think other people are trying to hurt them–we call this paranoia. Sometimes they don’t make any sense when they talk. The disorder makes it hard for them to keep a job or take care of themselves.

Who gets schizophrenia?

Anyone can develop schizophrenia. It affects men and women equally in all ethnic groups. Teens can also develop schizophrenia. In rare cases, children have the illness too.

When does it start?

Symptoms of schizophrenia usually start between ages 16 and 30. Men often develop symptoms at a younger age than women. People usually do not get schizophrenia after age 45.

What causes schizophrenia?

Several factors may contribute to schizophrenia, including:

  • Genes, because the illness runs in families
  • The environment, such as viruses and nutrition problems before birth
  • Different brain structure and brain chemistry.

Scientists have learned a lot about schizophrenia. They are identifying genes and parts of the brain that may play a role in the illness. Some experts think the illness begins before birth but doesn’t show up until years later. With more study, researchers may be able to predict who will develop schizophrenia.

What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia symptoms range from mild to severe. There are three main types of symptoms.

Positive symptoms refer to a distortion of a person’s normal thinking and functioning.

They are “psychotic” behaviors. People with these symptoms are sometimes unable to tell what’s real from what is imagined. Positive symptoms include:
  • Hallucinations: when a person sees, hears, smells, or feels things that no one else can. “Hearing voices” is common for people with schizophrenia. People who hear voices may hear them for a long time before family or friends notice a problem.
  • Delusions: when a person believes things that are not true. For example, a person may believe that people on the radio and television are talking directly to him or her. Sometimes people believe that they are in danger-that other people are trying to hurt them.
  • Thought disorders: ways of thinking that are not usual or helpful. People with thought disorders may have trouble organizing their thoughts. Sometimes a person will stop talking in the middle of a thought. And some people make up words that have no meaning.
  • Movement disorders: may appear as agitated body movements. A person with a movement disorder may repeat certain motions over and over. In the other extreme, a person may stop moving or talking for a while, a rare condition called “catatonia.”

Negative symptoms refer to difficulty showing emotions or functioning normally.

When a person with schizophrenia has negative symptoms, it may look like depression. People with negative symptoms may:
  • Talk in a dull voice
  • Show no facial expression, like a smile or frown
  • Have trouble having fun
  • Have trouble planning and sticking with an activity, like grocery shopping
  • Talk very little to other people, even when they need to.

Cognitive symptoms are not easy to see, but they can make it hard for people to have a job or take care of themselves.

Cognitive symptoms include:
  • Trouble using information to make decisions
  • Problems using information immediately after learning it
  • Trouble paying attention.

Helpful Links for Further Thought

The Mayo Clinic:Good, solid and trustworthy, a great introduction.

WebMd: Early Signs to look for.

World Health Organization: More advanced, but still accessible and understandable.

 

%d bloggers like this: