Doctor’s Orders

 

“And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:17

I am convinced that as strugglers, who just happen to be believers, that there is a deep truth we must understand. In a nutshell, the terribly weak get sprinkled purposefully into our churches–they have a much needed ministry, a honest calling to become the ‘audio-visual’ (AV) department of the Church.

Allow me to explain–we display for all who can see, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. We can be really mixed up, and really confused. But in contrast, He has become our everything, He is now our all in all. As AV people, we show and declare the deep, deep kindnesses of God. We display grace to the “hard-hearted.”

We are meant to be seen and heard, because that is what the AV department does best.

But that is really not our natural tendency or inclination. Jesus spoke of becoming a “candle on a lamp stand,” that gives light into the house. I suppose because of all our inconsistencies, this is often frightening–but this is our certain place in a dark, and very foolish world. And again–we’re now on display, whether we like it or not.

Because we belong to the AV department, we’re compelled to announce the solid mercy and kindness of God. Maybe in this short life, that is all we can really do. Fair enough. But still we hear that frightening call to become visible for Him– to point to His fantastic glory. He deserves this, and uses the worst He can find.

We may become quite intimidated by this ‘ministry.’ It seems we know far more about sin than we do about holiness. Quite a few of us are expert sinners. Some of us have our  Ph.D in evil. We have taken training in sin, and are quite proficient in it.

“This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all.”

1 Timothy 1:15, NLT

When it comes to holiness or purity, we discover that we don’t have a chance. Without His grace on us, we don’t belong in heaven. We will often try to pretend like we do, but we are surprised when the Holy Spirit tells us “No.” He will not let us deceive ourselves in this way. We have no claim to righteousness. Without Jesus, we stand in front of all of heaven, wearing filthy rags.

Our sins and weaknesses, depressions and sicknesses, have become even more evident in time. We are the ones who walk with a definite limp. We will falter, and we stumble. But we continue to turn to Jesus–over and over. And in this persistent action, others will see a broad mercy that is poured out on rascals such as us. We will be those AV people.

But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’”

Luke 18:13

Blessings to you,

Bryan

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Those ‘Marginal’ People

broken_heart

“Light shines in the darkness for the godly.
    They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.”

Psalm 112:4, NLT

The glory of Jesus lies in this: in weakness, vulnerability, and apparent failure. He has called forth disciples to come after Him, willing and able to carry the cross and relive His passion with compassion.

They are marginal people, not part of the scene, irrelevant to the “action.” In their ministry or quiet presence they do not need to win or compete. They may even look like losers, even if its just to themselves.

The world ignores them. But they are building “the Kingdom of God” on earth by reaching out in vulnerability and weakness to share the suffering of their brothers. They work by love rather than continue in sin.

“Where the compassionate One is, there will His servants be.”

Manning-devo-coverBrennan Manning, “Reflections for Ragamuffins.”

From an entry dated June 27th.  “A Stranger to Self Hatred,” by Brennan Manning.

Copyright @ 1982 by Brennan Manning, reprinted by permission of Dimension Books, Inc.

Notice Leah’s Eyes, [Handicaps]

 

Portait of woman wearing scarf with eyes closed

 

Stuck in the wonderful convolutions of scripture we can start a great study of Leah and her sister Rachel. These two daughters of Laban have become Jacob’s wives.

Now, we may question this polygamy when all we know is monogamy. These kind of decisions may be criticized and even outright challenged, but we will change nothing (and does it really matter)?

Jacob longs for Rachel. She is his “soul mate” and because he is so much in love, the customs and technicalities of the day somehow get by him. Because of this, he will have to take on Laban’s subtle trickery, where daughters get exchanged, and he must sort out who is who.

Laban’s deception really creates a crisis. But it seems Jacob just rolls with it. I suppose deception has always been Jacob’s strong suit. (But when a deceiver gets deceived, that can’t be all bad, I suppose).

Jacob is so in love with Rachel that he works for seven years for the right to marry her. This may be a bit outrageous. But we really must weigh these issues. I believe Jacob really is a monogamist at heart (shh… don’t tell him). He can only see that one girl that he is crazy about, his true love, Rachel. But it’s Leah that I think about. Her own issues are unique. Genesis 29 explains it a bit cryptically,

“Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance.” 

Genesis 29:17

I must tell you that there is confusion by commentators about the “weak eyes.” Some take it literally (as in, she in very “near-sighted,”) others who look at the original Hebrew find the words to be a bit looser and vague. They think that this is a polite way of saying she really wasn’t pretty. IDK, but I think I can gain from either interpretation.

In the long view, Leah would birth four patriarchs for Israel. But she would struggle with jealousy over her younger sister’s beauty and favor. Her pain was real, and she would hurt deeply over this.

I think I may understand Leah. She is wounded, and life requires that she live as unwanted. She sticks out as a woman of tragedy and broken hopes and dreams. She will always live as a reject. At best, she will always be a distant second, and perhaps a bit scorned and neglected for this.

Leah is the champion for the challenged.

I so love Leah and I do understand her. Her life is a long tragedy and very full of sadness. For the next 30-40 years she will always be a cast-off, someone who has been broken on life’s hard wheel. I look at her with a painful bit of understanding. She reminds me of being a struggler and a survivor. Her sad life is comparable to us who have to fight so hard over our own illness or handicap.

I have no idea what her issue was. But I do know that she was weak, and challenged by this terrible weakness. I understand this. My own life has been “topsy-turvy” and a really hard struggle. Somehow it seems we must work through way too much. It doesn’t seem fair. 

For those of you who are confined to a ‘chair,’ and the others who must deal with mental illness. Leah should be our hero. Those who have been betrayed by addiction, or who have felt rejected through a bitter divorce. Leah speaks to us. For she is for every loser and for failures of all stripes. But through all of our “set-backs” and messes, we must realize that God does love us– even as we weep.

We may have “Leah’s eyes,” but we also have His grace.


“When you encounter difficulties and contradictions, do not try to break them, but bend them with gentleness and time.”

–Francis de Sales

bry-signat (1)

You Can Only Come Through the Door

“I am the door, and the person who enters through me will be saved and will be able to come in and go out and find pasture.” 

John 10:9

This is powerful–its implications can rattle the windows! I sometimes struggle with depression, and sometimes with an assurance of my salvation.  Even after 40+ years of walking with God my mind boggles at my salvation.  But I read this and it tells me that Jesus is the door.  I need to understand that Jesus has to be the entry point for every real seeker.  We must cross over God’s own threshold to find eternal life.

Philosophy and religion are crowbars which many are using to force open the door. 

People are doing their best, but the door remains solidly shut.  There isn’t any other way in.  If the door is closed, no one can open it.  Access is restricted to those who will come through the door that is the Lord Jesus.

There is total forgiveness waiting to anyone who enters through this door.  A transformation of the heart is now given to all who come in properly.  Once we enter through Jesus,  our life opens up and we can live out lives of real love and goodness. This is the Gospel, and at last we understand what life is really all about.

We now know what is real, and what is not. 

We have been outrageously blessed! Jesus Christ has the keys, and He has opened the door for us. It was once securely locked, but now we can step right in, it is now unlocked for everyone who will put their trust in Him. We can enter in, and we will find everything we were looking for. Our pasture is waiting. We can step into a place that has been prepared just for us.

“God saw in the cross of His Son the only door by which he could enter to give a blessing to sinners.”

 -G.V. Wigram

Your brother,

Bryan

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