Consider Kindness

Love-shaped-SunBy faith we have been made acceptable to God. And now, because of our Lord Jesus Christ, we live at peace with God. Christ has also introduced us to God’s undeserved kindness on which we take our stand. So we are happy, as we look forward to sharing in the glory of God.

Romans 5:1-2, CEV

 Have you ever felt unwanted?  Maybe coming from a club, or a meeting or even a church.  Being undesirable or unwanted will obviously brings a sense of bad feelings.  We’ll struggle with bitterness and even a simmering kind of anger.  Rejection has a special way of penetrating our thinking like nothing else can. It is a nasty thing.

Those with disabilities are often excluded from many things. We are often overlooked or maybe even shunned. This hurts but we get used to it [sorta]. Often we build robust internal worlds where we belong. But that seems like a poor substitute.

Our faith has made us acceptable to God. 

We are suitable only because of what Jesus did for us.  Jesus makes a connection between God and us. Jesus picked up all of my sin, shouldered it and then carried it far away from me.  He died for my sin , now I will not have to. He took my place, in the ‘greatest mystery’ in the history of man.  ‘Why Him, and why me?’

Romans 5:2 develops an idea of getting an introduction to God and His ‘overboard’, extravagant kindness.  I’ll let you know right now, I am a big fan of ‘kindness’.  There is a goodness that the Father now shows us.  He is gracious, gentle and cordial to me as I struggle along.  But, more then anything, He is completely kind.

motherteresa-kindness-quoteKindness and tenderness fit precisely together.  Both together are quite a force to be reckoned with.  But there is one thing more.  If we delight in all the kindness shown to us, we need to practice pouring it on others.

A 100,000 tons of kindness has just been detonated on you.  Look around you, and then ‘share the wealth’. It’s simple, I have been given a vast amount of kindness for this sole reason– that I might give it away to those around me.

 

ybic, Bryan

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Zero Condemnation

Condemnation-Condemnation can go viral among believers.  Not only does it infect us, but we become ‘carriers’ that often can sicken others spiritually.  Our attitudes and thinking can become quite disturbed, and we then communicate that to our family and friends.

To be perfectly honest, condemnation is not easily defined.  But it seems to be  the feeling that we are being judged for our sin.  It carries a judicial sense that a verdict has been spoken over our lives–and we are guilty as charged.  Condemnation carries a sense of finality or doom.  It has an idea of irreversible punishment. (Conviction, on the other hand is hopeful and comes with promise.)

People who are trying to live with condemnation feel as if they are waiting for an executioner to appear.  There lives are filled with dread and foreboding. But it all seems right. Life unfolds for them in dark paranoia.  On the other hand conviction will lead us to compassion and mercy, but condemnation is a lie and falsehood.  There is a profound sense of guilt which a believer is able to push back–but only so far.  It is heartbreaking to see, especially when you understand the scope of the battle that is taking place.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:1

The human race is under the righteous judgement of God for our sin.  We cannot pretend that this isn’t real.  Just a cursory overview of history supports this fact, with our wars and famines.  In our natural state, we excel at mistreatment of others.  There is a viciousness and an evil that is embedded in our hearts.

But Jesus is our Savior, He came in the pattern of a sacrificial lamb.  He took on all of your sin, and evil.  He absorbed it, and took your guilty verdict.  He was your sacrifice.  What Jesus did was complete and total.  He just didn’t take a percentage of your sin, He took everything from you–no matter how dark and evil.  He siphoned it all away. and He carried all your weight. He took all the punishment.

Condemnation comes when we find a reason not to believe this.

Condemnation-flattenedThere is almost always doubt involved, and it seems too good to be true, after all.  There is also a entrenched concept of justice, right and wrong.  Believers with a real feeling for ‘the scales of justice’ find themselves without any hope. They lose the concept of mercy and grace for their sins.

“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.”

Revelation 12:10

There is an evil presence in this world.  It accuses us, and confuses us.  His name is Satan– and he is all together evil.  He makes a concerted effort to try to destroy us.  He floods us with wickedness and darkness.  If you will not stand against him, he will bring you down. However, you must understand this, he has been defeated.  But I must reinforce this, without Christ, there can be no immunity from the darkness of condemnation.

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A Fog Like a Cage Without a Key

Walking-in-the-Fog“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key.”

Elizabeth Wurtzel

Depression is a stealthy thief; anxiety is like an unwanted guest. Both are brutal companions to have skulking around. They carry misery wheresoever they go.

A good many people simply don’t understand you. They often chalk up feelings like this to a lack of faith. And true, there maybe these issues. We understand having faith to be healed. But what about faith to be sick? Isn’t this just as important?

I have to believe that being a broken believer, with a mental illness, is as formidable challenge. I have to believe that holding a faith in a merciful God in my depression is as critical as any miraculous healing. [It may even take more faith.]

I believe in supernatural healing. Jesus Christ is the same today as when He walked the shores of Galilee. I trust in His grace and know His power. Many are touched by His healing hand.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” 

Hebrews 13:8

Depression comes– and it irrevocably changes me. But mixed with an ample dose of His love, it loses much of the sting. I know it is painful and seems endless. But the Lord promises to deliver me, and He is always faithful. Always faithful. Always.

Faith handles chronic depression quite handily. It has never lost a single bout. I want to encourage you today. If you’re not in the throes of deep depression now, begin to build your faith for those lean times ahead. Start to stock up provisions spiritually.

If I have throughly confused you, I apologize. Perhaps this post was meant for someone else, and that’s ok too. Oh, and that fog— there is a key.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 1:6, NASB

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Pressed Roses

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33, ESV

This world is not our friend. And then we often face issues that create ugly things–  a fight with a spouse, poor choices, money problems– a lengthy list that seems that we’re always adding new entries. And as we each of us work through our tears, as we face sickness, loneliness, fear and misunderstanding.

In this world of woe and trouble, we discover that life is itself often brutal. Myself, I must deal with clinical depression, paranoia and physical pain. It is constant, a barrage of challenging things. Sometimes they swallow me up, and I lose my way.

I was thinking this morning, of a recent find in the pages of an old book– pressed rose petals! The book had been many years on the shelf. When I opened the book they I found them.  Typically, they are fairly well preserved. They still have color and shape. And most of all, they still have a fragrance.

I really don’t know what I’m supposed to do when this happens. Do I just “read” around them, or do I physically remove them? I almost feel that they are sacred or something. Do I find an old jar and store them? But no matter what I do, I always pause and think. Sometimes though, I can even remember the incident that they were given. An anniversary or a birthday maybe? Or sometimes they are given, “just because.”

Two distinct thoughts work in me. I look at the hard, hard things that I have had to process through my past, and present, and most likely, my future. I have to believe, from all that I have read and the preaching I have heard over the years that my pain gets turned into gold (or into roses!) This is exclusively a work of God. The second thought is a little bit harder to think through. But Jesus is the rose. He is the beauty and the fragrance of heaven come to earth.

There is an old fable kept by the believers of the first century; it was said that wherever Jesus stepped while on earth, roses would spring up in His footprints. This is only a legend of course, but that doesn’t mean that it is all false. Some of these stories have more truth in them than we think.

 

Coming to Him is such pleasant thing. It shouldn’t be an agonizing ordeal. It is not a painful or real sacrifice. After all, He is the rose. Roses are beautiful, they have a definite fragrance. There is a symmetry to them, and they are special, people will cultivate them for their beauty. Roses are never a hassle, for some reason we can never send or get too many.

“I am the rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.”

Songs 2:1, ESV

“A discipleship without flowers, probably isn’t worth having.”

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