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Nothing But the Blood

blood of jesus christ

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

1 John 1:7, NIV

At first glance the Old Testament is a collection of extremely bloody books. So many sacrifices were made that the Levitical priesthood had to sacrifice lambs 24 hours a day. People had this desperate need to cover their sins with an offering. This was instilled in them by the Law and their conscience. The guilt emanating from their sin must be covered by a lamb’s blood.

As our sins mount up (and they will) we have an innate need to cover them up. Sin is almost never hidden, and never exalted as a virtue. And yet we try to skate though our accumulation of many sins. We forget many, and try to excuse the more heinous. Our guilt condemns us, and we have no choice but to hide it, from ourselves, others and from God. We can no longer pretend we’re without sin.

“Human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and can’t really get rid of it.”

-C.S. Lewis

The Jewish people no longer sacrifice lambs, and the Gentiles have never caught on to this idea of a physical sacrifice. But sin has never gone out-of-style. But there is still a way for God to forgive our sin. The New Testament teaches clearly that Jesus has offered His blood as the payment of every sin ever committed. His death wiped our slates clean, forever.

The New Testament is crystal clear on this. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ had enough sufficiency to cover everyone, once, and for all. It all seems astonishing, beyond belief and possibility. The blood it seems, has never lost its power. This may be why Christians can’t seem to ‘shut-up’ about their faith. They ‘see’ something! At long last, the tremendous guilt is lifted from the believer, and they want others to know about it.

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus.”

(Hebrews 10:19)

Simply put, you now have the confidence–‘backstage passes,’ into God’s presence, all because of His death. The cross is far, far beyond a gold religious medallion worn around the neck. The cross of Christ, and more precisely His blood, is now regarded as complete righteousness for anyone (who by faith) receives it as his/her own. A brand-new confidence takes hold. “God loves me, and He really has forgiven me.” 

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

(2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT)

Our sins and our weaknesses, whether they be from our fallenness, whether they be genetic or environmental, are now smothered in the blood of Jesus. That red blood makes us ‘white as snow’ in God’s analysis. ‘Brokenbelievers’ everywhere are cheering. We know we aren’t quite right, and we understand our sin, but we have become fans of Jesus Christ. After all, His death has brought us eternal life.

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Picking Up a Stone

“They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”

(John 8:7, NLT)

“None knows the weight of another’s burden.”

-George Herbert

Definitely we must discern motives and false doctrine. We’re to be constantly aware of people and issues that swirl around us–of this there is no doubt, we mustn’t be ignorant. This is a healthy “discernment.” But we must learn that having discernment isn’t a way that passes out a ‘guilty’ penalty? We are ‘seeing’ things these things–not to pass judgement, but that we might pray clearly and earnestly, and grow into His love for the weak.

But ‘judging’ dear one, is His exclusive jurisdiction. It’s far beyond our ‘pay grade.’ He is the final judge in everything. He judges justly and lovingly. He alone knows and understands everything very clearly.

It becomes imperative that we understand this; that any real discernment given is only to intensify and escalate the calling of every ‘saint,’ intercessor, or pastor. We discern, not to pass judgement, but to pray more clearly and effectively. What you see or sense is for the prayer closet, not before a judge’s bench.

And yet how foolish we are. Do we really have the ability to ascribe a penalty on someone else? Could it be when we decide to throw rocks at certain people we’re in the terrible danger of forfeiting our own salvation? “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt. 6:15.)

(If you have a ‘rock’ in your hand, you are in definite danger. Please consider this–it’s never easy, is it?)

“Don’t judge others, or you will be judged. You will be judged in the same way that you judge others, and the amount you give to others will be given to you.

“Why do you notice the little piece of dust in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the big piece of wood in your own eye? (Matthew 7:1-3)

We are broken people. We struggle with many different things. Some of us are mentally or physically ill. We are not whole yet. Some of us must take meds to help us be ‘normal.’ We deal with issues that would devastate someone else. And we don’t have it anywhere near together. And yet out of our ‘hot mess’ we think we can penalize someone else? Really?

We really don’t have a problem with worldly people. We understand that they are lost in their sins, terribly wrapped up in their own personal darkness, and that should definitely disturb us. We must point to the Blood of Christ that forgive us. We share the good news of true repentance and faith. His Spirit teaches us to be witnesses of His love to everyone we meet.

But in the light of this, isn’t strange that almost all of our judgement is somehow directed at other believers! Why?! For some strange reason, it ‘seems,’ we think that we must pronounce guilt and (by doing so) we declare our own “holy” attitude to our place in the Body . In a weird sense, we think we have the supreme calling to condemn someone else’ walk, and by doing so exalt our own!

“The life of faith is a struggle enough in a broken world without us complicating it for other believers.”

–Jake Colsen

It just may come as a shock to some, but it’s extremely difficult to throw stones at someone when we are busy “washing” their feet.

Granted, “we are to be wise as serpents,” But that same verse instructs us “to be as harmless as doves.” (Matt. 10:16.) A loving meekness and gentleness, needs to be combined with intense spiritual power. We must embody “the fruits of the Spirit.” These things are the characteristics of the Spirit-saturated believer. I

Jesus washing the feet of His disciples

“The nature and end of judgment or sentence must be corrective, never vindictive; it is always for healing, and never for destruction.”

–John Owen

Perhaps when we judge others, we reveal that we don’t understand what ‘real’ discipleship with Jesus is? Somehow it seems, we really aren’t quite grasping the immensity of His grace on guilty people? Do we really understand His profound love for the fallen? “God so loved the World…” Have we have any idea how patient He is with us? Do we doubt His ability to correct others? (Again, these are awfully hard questions.)

“Judge not lest you be judged.” (Jesus’ words really do scare me sometimes. )

Certainly, I intend to confront darkness. “You are the light, a city set on a hill!” I am His salt and light and I do shine into this black night. But that is His doing, not mine. I do not generate light on my own. The Bible declares me as ‘self-righteous’ when I try. I am a broken person, who is just starting to understand the scope of my own brokenness and weaknesses. I’m starting to realize I’m not in the position to Judge someone else. I’m not quite healed myself yet and I must not think I can point to someone else as being worse than me.

Quite simply, I can’t throw ‘rocks’ at other believers anymore. I can no longer pass out any condemnation from my own limited understanding. My chief concern right now, is to be a humble, earnest Christian who is always ready to forgive those who, in their awful sin and confusion, are hurting others. I’m beginning to see that my calling is to be that; a simple servant to my brothers and sisters, nothing more, and nothing less.

Your terribly sick ,’ rock-slinging’ brother,

Bryan

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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, 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.

These 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. Bryan and Les are 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.

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‘Snowflake’ Discipleship

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation!” 

(Psalm 139:14, MSG)

“God is not a duplicator, He is a Creator. You are an original.” –Reinhard Bonnke

Man makes styrofoam cups that are all the same. God creates snowflakes that are completely different. I’ve been thinking about something. I don’t know if it’s scriptural. Maybe yes, and maybe no. I’ve been known to miss it.

The Bible states many wonderful things. One of them is that we are created in the image of God, and I’m quite certain that each of us are shaped completely different. Essentially we are the same, we all share a very common “person-hood.”

Each have come to Jesus, through our repentance and faith. We each have been filled with His Spirit, we read the Word and we each fellowship with other believers. In that regard, we are one, quite the same. We believe that there is Someone who doesn’t change. He is the “reality behind the real.” The Creator and the Truth.

The other day I found my Grandmother’s Bible. I was somewhat intrigued, and I supposed that it might just ‘impart’ some special spiritual blessing to me. I sat down on the couch, and reverently opened it up. It was filled with wonderful handwritten notes.

Could it carry a special touch from the Lord? Perhaps I thought it would have a special spiritual aura to it? I was more than a little curious. And wouldn’t you know, it zapped me in a very interesting way? It was an old Thompson Chain, KJV–first edition I think. As I sat down to read it, I slowly began to realize that it was entirely like my own! The verses and the promises were the same, they had not changed. What was true for my grandma was true for me. That amazed me, and it kind of sent me spinning.

Each of us struggle with many different things. We endure depression, PTSD, schizophrenia, even suicidal thoughts. We struggle with different addictions and lonely divorce. There are those believers who are epileptics or disabled. There are some of us who have been raped or molested. I have a paralyzed right arm, and am typing this with my left hand. I also struggle with depression and anger.

Each of us are the same in a basic sense, and yet we are all distinctly different. We all have gone through different things, some quite awful. These issues are uniquely our own. They’ve shaped us in completely different ways. Our “personal” testimony is completely different than someone elses. We respond to our different circumstances in different ways.

We are the “snowflakes’ that have been artistically crafted. Our circumstances are individually tailored by God, who is the ultimate Artist. I opened this post with the idea that God creates “snowflakes,” and I’ve been told that they are all unique, not one of them is exactly the same. Somehow, they seem to be crafted by a Someone who loves this whole idea of an extravagant creation. The Bible reveals He does this work with true wisdom, a special love and surpassing power.

“People are special, and human life is sacred, whether of not we admit it. Every person is worth fighting for, regardless of whether he is young or old, sick or well, child or adult, born or unborn, or brown, red, yellow, black or white.”

–Francis Schaeffer

I do believe that when we stand before God we will all have these fantastically different stories. Each of us have found forgiveness, mercy and grace that the Lord freely gives us. As “grace-walkers” we’ve become are the new discoverers, through our issues of prosperity or pain— our life is mixed with His grace, filtered through a myriad of circumstances. They mix exceedingly well.

We begin to see, and understand, that there implications of being this special. God took Joseph and ‘molded’ him by His unique circumstances, He went from slave to Prime Minister overnight. Each of us billions have become unique testimonies of His incredible care. As true believers, we can lead them to the Father. We need to pray for the “field” and the workers who labor there.

“They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

(Rev. 12:11, NIV)

I hope my meandering doesn’t scare you. I didn’t intend to.

Your very unique brother,

Bryan

commentsbb@yahoo.com

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Hope in My Pocket


It was a long cold winter that year. I felt sure it would never end. The sun finally emerged one day, but it was still a bit cool so I pulled out my favorite yellow spring jacket. I reached into the pocket and to my surprise I found a $20 bill. I must have known it was there at one time because I most likely put it there. But it had been a long winter, a long time since it was warm enough to wear that jacket. Even though I didn’t know it, that $20 bill was there all along just waiting for me to find it again.

Sometimes hope is like that $20 bill. We have it and we know it, but in the long hard winters of life we forget about it. The winter can be so long and so cold that we lose all memory of hope. But even though we forget, hope is there all along just waiting for us to find it again.

I struggled a long time with the pain of fibromyalgia. I had no hope that I would feel well. God reminded me to fear not for hope was still there.

I despaired for five years because of underemployment. I had little hope of securing and being able to keep a full-time job. God reminded me to fear not for hope was still there.

I felt despondent for what seemed like forever over the loss of my mother. And later my father. I had no hope of feeling joy again. God reminded me to fear not for hope was still there.

I traveled the long road of despair and depression, stemming from trauma to bitter to forget. For over a decade I was certain I would be broken forever. God reminded me to fear not for hope was still there.

Recently, I have been in anguish over the state of our world, the corruption and greed, the violence and sickness, that seem to rule the day. Is there any hope for a better world? God reminds us to fear not for hope is still here.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

Romans 5:3-5 NLT.

We may forget our hope in the long cold winters of life, but our hope—our God—is still here with us. Some of what we hope for we will not see until we reach heaven. But some of what we hope for is sitting in the pocket of our yellow spring jacket waiting for us to find it again.

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Jesus Is Pretty Big

Jesus is pretty big. Among a few other things He created the genome, our minds, the human body, the realms of quantum mechanics and the cosmos, the plant and animal kingdoms, the earth and its ecosystems and matter in its myriad forms. Perchance you’re tempted to think you have His mind you may want to review that list.

Jesus is bigger than the US federal government, all the combined national governments, the weather, the magnetic orientation of the earth, our expanding universe, New York abortion laws, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, pornography, international boundaries, cancer, gender confusion, genocide, and evil.

And He still reaches out for the weak and needy. His hands were ‘pierced’ for you.

I hope my point is self evident.

Your brother,

Les

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Grace: Be All You Can Be

“Grace is given to heal the spiritually sick, not to decorate spiritual heroes”

Martin Luther

There exists a mentality among Christian believers where our faith will somehow grant us a pile of ‘nice things.’  This concept tells us that material possessions are a sign of His blessing.  If we just have enough faith, we will truly live in a land of wonder, grace and material blessings.

Doing missions work in a very poor town in Mexico, I was horrified to find this twist.  (I had thought that it wouldn’t really work among the desperate.)  But an especially virulent type was working in the hearts of some of my brothers and sisters.  They latched on to this idea that since they followed God that soon they could count on special favors from Him.  (Like a car, electricity, running water.) Some ‘converted’ just to get these things from God! I refuse to judge them, since I see a variation of this in my own life.

From their cardboard shacks, they could somehow generate a special favor from the Lord.  It came as a relief to me that there were some believers, who over time, began to see that grace was really an undeserved gift; material blessings could never come in this way.  God’s grace alone would make them wealthy!

Somehow, we can get confused and believe that if we jump through the right hoops God is obligated to give us what we want.  But the true Kingdom doesn’t work like this, you can’t use Him in this way. Grace was never meant to ‘decorate’ a believer (least not primarily) but to mend us, to prepare the fallen for eternity. God is not your cosmic bellhop.

Listen! God’s grace is given to heal us.  It is a gift, and it will always be a gift.  We don’t deserve it, we don’t earn it for having enough faith.  Grace isn’t supposed to be like this, rather it’s more like an I.V. to a dying man.  It is dialysis to the woman with kidney failure. It is ‘radiation’ to the cancer patient.

The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?” 

(Jeremiah 17:9, ESV)

Grace comes to us because we are so very sick. We are deeply affected by a spiritual disease.  We should think (rather than see it as a reward) that it is the treatment for that which has deeply sickened us. His love is seen, especially seen, in the worst of us. That’s the way grace works.

God is not against us because of our sin; He is with us because of our sin.

Just thinking out loud here.  I hope I haven’t offended.

Your desperately “sick” brother,

Bryan

commentsbb@yahoo.com

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Please, Light My Darkness

 

“Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
       Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death.”
 

Psalm 13:3, NIV

God is the sole developer of light.  He creates it and then assigns it to whom ever He chooses.  He is the proprietor and the sole creator of its properties.  Without Him actively bestowing light on us we would have no access to its power or its benefits.  He holds the exclusive patent.

As Adam’s progeny we have experienced a light moratorium.  We have been cut off from its many synonyms.  Illumination, understanding and wisdom are just some of the essence of light.  When we have it, we are astounded that we lived without it, and we are amazed at the ignorance of our past days.

“The unfolding of your words gives light;
       it gives understanding to the simple.”
 

Psalm 119:30, NIV

Darkened by our sin, we struggle throughout our blinded lives, unable to understand or grasp what is our real purpose.  Meaning completely eludes us.  However, we are directed by the Psalmist to open our hearts to the gracious gift of light.  It illuminates us, giving us a sense of what is real and how life truly unfolds.  That word “understanding” from our text is critical .  No matter how stupid and pathetic we have become, the Word of God penetrates our fog and gives us a sense of what is true, and what is real.

Let it unfold, let it open up in your understanding.  Like an umbrella on a foggy and rainy day, when it opens it will cover you.  Notice that the source of lit-up truth emanates from the “words”.  Place yourself in His Word, let it pour over you and let it bring you to the the place of joyful acceptance.

The verse speaks of being “simple”.  That actually is a pretty descriptive of our condition, and reveals much of human history and “so-called” progress.  The word means “naive”.  History opened up shows people to be amazingly compliant and susceptible to dictators and men with power.  We seem to follow leaders with sinister and strange purposes and agendas. History shows it over and over.  We just can’t grasp what is true and what is real.

Jesus has come as the “Good Shepherd”.  Those of us who are being led into His Grace and Truth are finding light.  He is revealing to us a definitive understanding of truth.  And we need truth desperately. Let Him lead you.

Your “lit-up” brother,

BryanContinue reading “Please, Light My Darkness”

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The Lamb’s Victory

Jesus will rule over every puny king and president.

He rules. He doesn’t bow, salute or kneel before any inconsequential king or constitution. They serve Him. He is eternal and supreme, and amazingly enough, He is a friend to every believer (that astonishes me!) He is an intimate King who is patiently waiting for us to hear Him.

As ‘broken believers’ we have to grasp this. It should totally revolutionize and adjusts the way we live. Our depression, disability or present pain will end soon. And we will step out of these things and step into an eternal light. My weaknesses will end, perhaps soon, and we will see the true King.

We will understand completely then. These things that have ‘crippled’ us will be seen through the eyes that now love and adore. Our ‘pain’ has finally ended, and we will be made whole. I will meet Him, face-to-face. You better believe I will rejoice! We will sing!

“He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
    and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
    for the Lord has spoken.”
(Isaiah 25:8)

And He makes us rejoice! The difficulties I face now are temporary, and just a few short years (thank God!) Someday, quite soon, I’ll shed these hard, hard issues–just like a ‘snake’ sheds its skin! I will be brand-new, and I will rejoice in this Kingdom of my Father.

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)

Hang in there dear one! I know it’s hard, and we can get confused and lost as we ‘meander’ through this world. Things are difficult and perhaps quite painful. Brokenbelievers has two administrators now, (Linda and myself.) Each of us has experienced ‘pain’ up close. Both of us hurt, and we both carry scars from every battle we had to face. The Holy Spirit hears our cries, and has come to our aid.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26)

Honestly now. We stand because He makes us stand. We still face formidable issues, and there is a savage enemy who has dedicated to destroy each person that cries out to God. He hurts us. He wants to destroy us. There is not an ounce of kindness or mercy in Him. He exists only to destroy. And he is very effective.

“As I looked, thrones were placed,
    and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
    and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
    its wheels were burning fire.
10 A stream of fire issued
    and came out from before him;
a thousand thousands served him,
    and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
    and the books were opened.
(Daniel 7:8-10.)

The Lamb does triumph. He will rule forever. Of that I have no doubt. Yet in the thick of things–these things that debilitate and destroy, we struggle. Our flaws and disabilities seem insurmountable. It’s awfully hard to make it through each day. We hang on, but often just barely. Our tears are real, and we wonder if we will make it through these things. And then there is tomorrow, and often that doesn’t look so good either.

But the Lamb wins! Those who surrender to Him (like you and I) share in this incredible Kingdom. He wipes away each ugly sin by His bloody sacrifice. He redeems every awful circumstance (things we have done, or have been done to us) and elevates us to sit over each enemy. We will finally understand, and we will really see. Most likely we will be shocked! We will see each other through the lens of eternity.

I don’t know your issues, your pain or your obstacles–and you don’t know mine really. But Jesus knows, and somehow He has carries us. The Lamb does triumph. We will share in His victory. And it will be for ever and ever and ever!

Your “waiting” brother,

Bryan

Contact Linda or myself at commentsbb@yahoo.com

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God Used My Trials


Trigger Warning: This post involves rape. If you are sensitive, please tread lightly. It is not my intention to cause more pain, but to show how God can use even our worst trauma for good.

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Genesis 50:19-20 (NIV)

We moved from my childhood home in sunny Southern California to a one-traffic-light town on the outskirts of a Washington rainforest right before I started eighth grade. I made new friends, quite different from my old friends. And I met my first boyfriend.

When you’re fourteen, they call it puppy love. I thought it was real because he claimed he loved me, too. He was older and cute in a rugged sort of way, with shaggy long brown hair and a scruff of facial hair, not quite a beard and mustache.

One day he asked me to go for a walk, just to talk. The biting cold drove us indoors to his house. In my naiveté, I never saw it coming. At the tender age of 14, my 105-pound frame was overpowered and violated. Without a second thought, he crushed my spirit and devoured an innocence I can never redeem.

It can sound like a platitude, or worse, this oft repeated verse. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV).

Surely, Paul didn’t mean all things? He couldn’t have meant the rape I suffered? God certainly can’t bring any good from the suffering, shame, and depression that followed me for decades after?

Or can He?

Even now—as a powerless, frightened little girl lives in me and I sometimes struggle with deep despair, doubting God’s blessings—God reminds me I am His beloved. He has empowered me to survive any trial. I may feel powerless and frightened, but the truth is He will not allow me to be utterly destroyed.

Trauma and loss are inevitable for all of us. I’m not alone even in this dreadful experience of sexual assault.

When I consider my experiences in the light of God’s purposes for my life, I see the blessing. His bigger plan becomes less fuzzy, if not clear. I see how my troubles drew me closer to Jesus as my only refuge.

The path my life may have taken—had there been no pain, no loss of innocence—is one in which I may have never understood my need for a Savior. When all is well, what does one need saving from? But I did need to be saved from a darkness that grew deeper with each successive trauma I experienced. I desperately needed rescuing so I could live this wonderful, light-filled life He gave me.

I like the woman God has shaped me into, even if suffering was required for the Potter to mold this piece of clay. God did not plan or desire my suffering, but He certainly used it to develop in me the compassion, mercy, and humility that have become my hallmark. In all my experiences, He worked for my good because He loves me. He has called me to use my experience to give hope to others.

Do you need this hope today? It’s just a story away. I’d love if you would share your story so that God can begin to use it for good, too. If you don’t know how to even start writing your story, check out my guided poetry journal, which you can request here: https://anotherfearlessyear.net/i-believe-you.

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Are We Standing in the Gap?

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior.” (1Timothy 2:1-3, NLT)

“The Church has not yet touched the fringe of the possibilities of intercessory prayer. Her largest victories will be witnessed when individual Christians everywhere come to recognize their priesthood unto God and day by day give themselves unto prayer.” –John R. Mott

You are a priest without a collar. Your work is called “intercession.” It isn’t for cowards or the spiritual lazy. It needs to be ‘hidden’ in order to really work. No one should see, there will be no adulation or recognition. You may not even feel special. But God sees and hears you. Jesus told each one of us,

“But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (Mathew 6:6)

When we ignite in prayer, we will see things as Jesus sees them. We will share His view and take part in His high priestly ministry. Jesus isn’t complacent, sitting on His throne, waiting for time to run out. I suppose that is the view of some, but it honestly isn’t real.

“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most (Hebrews 4:14-16, NLT)

Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34, NIV)

When we start to really intercede we become a sort of a “sub-priest.” We serve under the Lord Jesus the High Priest’s direction. We engage our work under the Holy Spirit’s oversight, and we start to plead for those who need Him most. We are the one’s who make things happen when we stand with Jesus. So who and what do we pray for?

  1. Family and friends
  2. the sick, those in distress
  3. the stranger, the one who bags our groceries
  4. the church we attend, the pastor and elders, the congregation
  5. missions, or missionaries in a certain country, or in general
  6. for ministries working under God’s direction
  7. finances, supplies, for more workers in the ‘vineyard’
  8. safety and protection from the evil one, cults and businesses that ‘traffic’ in evil
  9. more wisdom and grace for all who are ministering God’s Word, for other intercessors
  10. our government, police, soldiers–from the ‘dog catcher’ to the president

These ten are just a start to get you going, this list is not complete by no means, but it’s a beginning. As you start praying you will add and expand these things. Remember that faith is a key component in the work of intercession. You must come in harmony with His present ministry. You do this through:

  1. praise and worship
  2. Bible reading and thinking about the Word
  3. listening and discerning what is happening around you
  4. asking questions that really matter
  5. being humble and broken, not haughty or proud as you pray
  6. becoming alert to all of the needs around you, be sneaky but holy
  7. instill in your heart the Kingdom of God and the supreme ministry of the King
  8. exercise His authority over the earth, see things as they really are
  9. personal prayer times that get you ready to pick up the ‘mantle’ of intercession
  10. see yourself joined in this ministry of Jesus, who wants “all men to be saved”

Don’t be surprised if the Spirit draws you to a specific need. I believe that there are ‘specialists’ in the Body of Christ. One person will concentrate his attention on the sick or the demonized. Another may be dedicated to praying for the president or the Supreme Court, and someone else might pray for certain missionaries or countries. In short, you must listen to the High Priest, and get your cue from Him. He most certainly will direct you on where you should stand!

There is definite power in joining with another or in a group. It seems to me though that this can be a challenge as we can get disengaged or passive. Spiritual laziness extinguishes the fire of God. Yet if we are sincere our intercession can become ‘turbocharged’ when we are actively with another. It should be a skill we develop over time. It will take concentrated work on your part to stay focused.

None of this is concrete. I know my own limitations on this stuff. All I wanted to do is give a different perspective and to, somehow, shine a different light on this subject. And I most certainly covet your prayers as I learn to intercede.

Your brother, who is still learning,

Bryan

  

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My Anger

“Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.”

-Ecclesiastes 7:9

“Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past … to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back — in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.”

-Frederick Buechner

What really happens when I get angry? I suppose my B/P goes up and I get all red, but just perhaps it’s a bit more than that. The Bible is painfully clear on the subject of anger. It seems there is an anger that is righteous; and one that is unrighteous. It is the latter I’m most familiar with, unfortunately. And repeatedly our anger, the earthly kind, is condemned by Scripture. It is terribly wrong, and it is sin.

Merriam-Webster defines anger as “a strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism, or rage.” This definition seems right on. First–it’s a strong feeling. There is an intensity to it, and it ‘clouds’ my sense of what is reasonable. Second–it has some form of frustration and irritation. Third–it escalates into “rage.” And I suppose that anger at this particular level is where it really, really gets destructive. At this point we become totally irrational and unbelievably destructive. When we get to this point we become “fools.”

I remember clearly having a dog that killed a chicken. My dad took the carcass and wired it to the dogs neck. After some time that chicken began to rot. It putrefied to the point where pieces of that carcass started to fall off. I can still see the dog’s eyes rolling, and he was slobbering all over. the place. That dog never even touched another chicken. It completely cure him. (I suppose the ASPCA would object today.)

I suppose that is what carnal anger is like. It’s something that we carry around and it defiles us. We learn that evil attaches itself to each of us and pollutes us. We soon realize that this kind of life is really death. When anger is attached to us, we are poisoned inside. Someone once said that “he who angers you, conquers you.”

No matter how just your words might be, you ruin everything when you speak with anger.”

–John Chrysostom

There is another kind of anger though. It’s the kind that is turned on when we are angry with ourselves. We call this “self-condemnation.” Internalized disgust with yourself is extremely corrosive to our personality and our spirits. Instead of an authentic confidence in what Jesus’ has done, we look inside with hate, anger and disgust. We condemn and put ourselves under a twisted form of justice that is not biblical, nor is it true.

When we become angry with ourselves (and yes, we sin constantly) we dismiss the sacrifice of Jesus and His forgiveness. We become a law unto ourselves, and we pass a guilty judgement on our sinfulness. Christians are quite often ‘crippled’ by self-condemnation and a vicious guilt. Perhaps we are the most ‘visible’ when it comes to this kind of self-hatred.

Satan is the prime instigator of this attack. He desires to split you from fellowship with God. That is the way he functions, you might say that this is his evil ‘ministry.’ His specialty is guilt, an inciting an unholy anger which we turn inward. We give him the right to accuse us before God. We no longer see the blood of Christ as our covering for our sin. He indicts us before a holy God, and all we see is our guilt. Is it any wonder that we are angry with ourselves?

“The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have now come. The accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accused them day and night before our God, has been thrown down.” (Revelation 12:10)

I suppose this anger at ourselves is perhaps our most difficult challenge we face. More believers are ‘hamstrung’ by this than any other sin. When we turn on ourselves, we become angry and self-condemned. We avoid His healing presence, His Word and the fellowship of other saints. Most of all, we don’t want to pray or worship.

Dear one, come to Jesus, and bring along your issues. He is the one who loves you. He died, and He has covered you with His blood. He is God’s Passover lamb who takes away all your sin. Jesus’ present day ministry is not just sitting on a golden throne, He is actively interceding for you even as you read this.

” He poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12)

Your forgiven brother,

Bryan

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A Prayer for Bryan

We must lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us.

C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, chap. 4, para. 15, p. 22.

If you’ve been a visitor to Broken Believers blog for very long, you may have notice a drop off in the number of posts over the past year. You may have attributed it to COVID-19. I mean, really, can’t we blame a lot of things on the uncertainty of this pandemic? But that’s not the reason posting has dropped off.

The main reason is that Bryan Lowe, the trusted servant of God who started this blog and has kept it going for so long, has experienced some serious health issues. He is currently in Colorado, where for the past five months he has been undergoing much testing and treatment, but no answers yet. He has lost far more weight than he should and is having trouble gaining it back.

Bryan longs to return to Alaska, his favorite place to be, with the exception of being in the presence of the Lord. I think Alaska is the closest place to heaven on this earth for him.

And so I am helping out around here to keep Broken Believers Blog going. I’ll be posting more than I have in the past. I hope what I post will be a blessing. But the first order of business is a prayer for Bryan. I know he appreciates all the prayer he can get, because he knows God honors our prayers when we lay before Him what is in us.

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 gain weight and to feel well again. Return Bryan to his home in Alaska 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.

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Finding a Safe Place

Coming to this point of trust is almost always a difficult challenge. We have roamed on our own for many years. We have avoided coming into the fold. We have seen difficulty and hardship and yet we insist on a journey of separation.

The Shepherd still waits. He stands in the midst of His flock. He is their sole defense from the enemy, and most of His sheep know this, and those who don’t soon realize their peril. The “thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10.) This is both a terrible warning for some, and a wonderful promise for others.

Proximity is our choice. Jesus stands waiting for us to choose between either distance, or intimacy. In some challenging way we have the awful ability to come closer, or to keep wandering. Perhaps we chose to become prey for the enemy. Satan hates us, and he hunts everyone one who strays.

Scripture is crystal clear. There can be no “sugar coating” this. We are on the devil’s hit list, and will remain there until the Lord carries us home. The best the enemy of our souls can offer the us is hell; an awful separation from God. You and I have a difficult choice to make, or is it?

“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

We really do resist coming close to Jesus. Perhaps it is the hardest thing we will ever do. We’ve been wandering for so long we consider it the norm. At times we try to run and hide from the enemy. Other times we try to attack him, convinced of our own strength–our own power. But Satan operates in the spiritual realm, and he has the distinct advantage.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesian 6:12).

Jesus’ closeness must be chosen. We must make our way to side of our Shepherd–we must come to Him, just as we are, with our burrs and wounds. We must come closer, to be protected and healed.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John10:14-15).

Listen! You have run out of options. You dare not keep wandering. You must make a choice. What is happening around is driving you to His side. He desperately pleads. Every real pastor, teacher, evangelist or believer is reaching out to you, crying out for your soul to come home. But the decision is yours alone.

What is keeping you from Him? What sin is messing with your mind? You will never be safe if you insist on traversing this world on your own. He protects His own from the thief and the murderer. You haven’t the wherewithal to keep dawdling. You need to decide.

I wish it was different. I wish I could make the decision for you, but it is not within my power. You are the one who must turn, you’re the one who must repent and ask forgiveness for your wandering (your sin.) You are the one who must cry out to the Shepherd for safety. All I can do is too beg you to come to your senses and return to the Shepherd.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10.)

A Simple Sheep,

Bryan

You can write me if you want, slow299@yahoo.com

Featured

Dear Darker Me — A Letter Poem

I attended a conference once called Shattering Stigma: Mental Illness and the Church. In a session about anxiety, the presenter said one phrase that has stuck with me: “Don’t believe everything you think.” Just because a thought enters your mind doesn’t mean it is true. For me, that is especially the case when Darker Me decides to throw her hat in the ring.

I wrote this poem, a letter to Darker Me, after I’d spent a few days believing her lies about and interpretation of something someone else said. Thankfully, upon closer examination the lies were exposed. I hope this poem encourages you to examine each thought, especially if it is negative, to determine whether it is true.


Dear Darker Me,

I tumbled like Alice as I followed you
down a rabbit hole
but entered no Wonderland.
I found no Mad Hatter,
though I found I might be mad myself
for listening to you.

You are no White Rabbit.
Like the Cheshire Cat you
point me in the wrong direction.
I lost my way in my own twisted mind.
You are no Queen of Hearts to insist
I cut off my head or stay stuck in it.

Lost for days wandering among
thoughts that made no sense.
You interchanged truth and lies!
Nothing was what it seemed to be
as I followed you into
an Unwonderland of dredged up
hurt feelings and wrongs recorded
on an endless loop.

I must find my way out,
back to the surface where,
Truth is truth
and lies are exposed by the Light.

But everything exposed by the light
becomes visible—and everything
that is illuminated
becomes a light.

I’m afraid I must expose you,
dear Darker Me,
that I might live without
your control over my mood.

I suppose we’ll meet again,
but for today I bid you adieu.
I know this light is not for you.

I choose to awake from
the nightmare you’ve drug me into
and rejoice in the truth,
in the Light.

Sincerely,
Christ in Me

If you struggle in dealing with Darker You and think processing your thoughts in poetry, check out my guided poetry journal here: https://anotherfearlessyear.net/i-believe-you/ It was originally designed for those who had experienced sexual trauma to process that pain, but it can be a blessing no matter the pain you need to express.

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How Well Do We Suffer?

“Some Christians are called to endure a disproportionate amount of suffering. Such Christians are a spectacle of grace to the church, like flaming bushes unconsumed, and cause us to ask, like Moses: ‘Why is this bush not burned up?'” –John Newton

It seems that pain is the best teacher. I suppose as we navigate through life we find the ‘capacity’ of our hearts expanding. We learn the hard way to come under God’s direction, and we finally learn to love others. Maybe this is how God changes us? After all, isn’t the crushed grape that yields the wine?

C.S. Lewis once made the comment, (and it’s worth thinking about,) that “experience is the most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” We face many obstacles, run into quite a few dead ends, and along the way we learn that when we really hurt, we really start to learn some things.

I look over my life and it seems chock full of challenge. I’ve lost the use of my right arm, I have struggled with severe depression. I had a brain tumor removed, and now have “absent” seizures. I struggle with intense fatigue. (I no longer can pastor a church or teach in a Bible college.) My wife and I have lost a child. I have prayed earnestly for a complete healing and had others pray for me. It’s funny, but all of this has happened after I became a Christian disciple! I often ask myself why? What did I do to deserve all of this?

Paul and Barnabas came into an interesting place (we can read about it in Acts 14.) “They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.” All of this happened after Paul was stoned by the Jews.

Some of our Bible teachers we listen to minimize suffering, and a lot of our own theology factors out pain and difficulty. But is this what the Bible teaches? If we read Hebrews 11, we find that life could be pretty grim for those with faith in God.

“Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.”

Why does it have to be so hard? Common sense suggests that things should get easier for those who believe. We somehow think that God rewards faith with instant glory. I painfully discover that my discipleship, my faith, doesn’t mean some wonderful existence on this planet. It seems that pain becomes the way we grow up and mature in Him. I honestly believe, after 40 years of following Jesus, that suffering is part of God’s plan for me. It has never been easy. I wish it was.

No matter what you are going through, remember that God always loves you. He has chosen us to navigate us through much difficulty. We must however, convert these painful things by our faith in Him. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).

We must learn to regard people less in light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.” –Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Your brother,

Bryan

Featured

Standing With Her in the Rain

standingaloneintherain1

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”

Galatians 6:2, NLT

By Lisa Schubert, Guest Author

Samantha approached me outside the church on Thanksgiving morning with her hair disheveled and her coat covered with dirt smudges and raindrops. She demanded to borrow my cell phone to find if the Thanksgiving dinner she had requested from a charitable organization would be ready for pick-up in an hour. I was in a hurry. I needed to be inside preparing to lead worship. I begrudgingly let her borrow my phone, but I insisted on dialing the number myself and standing with her in the gentle rain.

Samantha issued commands to the person on the other end of the line. When she hung up, the rant continued against our church, our staff, the weather, and this meal that would serve as her Thanksgiving dinner. I had to let her go mid-rant, but not before reminding her that I would keep her in my prayers.

Cross-in-the-Rain-

My encounters with Samantha have continued over the past few months. She’s almost always confused, angry and paranoid. She tells stories about growing up with another member of our staff, who never met her until recently. It’s hard to know how to respond to Samantha.

A friend called me recently to ask if our church had any resources for helping congregations to welcome those who struggle with mental illness. I pointed her in a few directions, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) at www.nami.org. Even as I offered her the information, I felt uneasy. Connecting with those who have mental illnesses is a complex, difficult journey.

It was raining again on Monday when I saw Samantha. She was sitting in the front lobby of the church. She shouted at me as I walked out the door, “Be careful out there! Two guys tried to kidnap me, and I wouldn’t want that to happen to you.” Unwilling to believe her, I replied, “Samantha, I’m sorry you had a rough morning. I’ll be thinking of you. Hope your day gets better.” I continued out the church doors and opened my umbrella.

I later discovered that Samantha was mugged that morning. Thankfully, the police believed her while I had blown her off. They arrested the alleged perpetrators that afternoon.

I’m embarrassed by my lack of gentleness and compassion toward Samantha, and I know I’m not alone. I wonder what it means for the Church to embrace, accept and listen to those who have mental illnesses. I wonder how church leaders like myself can grow and help others to deepen their care for people like Samantha.

There are no simple answers, but I think the answer starts in a simple place: We stand with them in the rain.

Lisa Schubert is Associate Pastor of Discipleship and Formation of North United Methodist Church, Indianapolis

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