Losing Everything

My own studies have immersed me in the awful book of Job. This man lost everything–there is much we can learn from him. But it may be a definite challenge to plow through these “dark” issues. But we need to do this, sooner or later.

First of all, Job is a mysterious book. There’s no reference to the Temple or the Temple services. No connection with other biblical writings or persons. Most students believe that the book of Job is the first one written in the Old Testament.

It’s not Jewish, but it’s not pagan either. In a real sense, it speaks about suffering and pain. Job lost everything. The book tries to explain what brokenbelievers face every day. We all struggle. We all will experience suffering and loss.

Job connects us with those with illnesses–mental or physical.

We are people who must try to navigate through dark things. Most will never really understand this, but we are those who must face adversity and conflict. Like Job we ask why. We may even end up accusing God of attacking us.

We have to sort things out and believe me, it’s never easy. As we try we’ll often ask “why me?” We often accuse God. But I’m thoroughly convinced that the Almighty isn’t fazed by our questions and we should never think we’re wrong when we so challenge his goodness. He’s big enough to handle these.

In Job we’ll hear God speak to us through “the whirlwind.”

I want to encourage you (the reader) to find place in your heart for this book. Job isn’t easy to read–but I’ve gained a lot by reading it in the Message translation, but any other modern Bible works.

We’ll realize all of our questions will probably not be answered, but that’s okay. The problem of our suffering will most likely remain. There are no pat answers. I’m sorry.

“Anyone who has suffered knows that there is no such thing as “getting a grip on oneself” or “pulling oneself up by the bootstraps. The only bootstrap in the Christian life is the Cross, sometimes laying hold of the cross can be comforting, but other times it is like picking up a snake.””

“Job knew this firsthand. From him we learn that there are no easy answers to suffering. That the mark of true faith is not happiness, but rather, having one’s deepest passions be engaged by the enormity of God. And through Job we learn the secret of the gospel: that “mercy is the permission to be human.” The Lord never gave Job an explanation for all he had been through. His only answer was Himself. But as Job discovered, that was enough.”

Mike Mason

‘Sunning Ourselves in the Smiles of God’

kites

A boy stood on a windy hillside, flying a kite.

He continued to release the string of the kite and it went higher and higher until it was completely out of sight. One of his friends walked up and asked how he knew there was still a kite on the other end. He replied. “I know it’s there, I can feel it tugging on the line.”

Like the kite, we can’t see heaven with our eyes, but we can feel it tugging at our souls!

As a person with a mental illness, it’s easier in some ways to think about that place I am journeying to.  Through many cycles of depression I find this present life gets old, and the more I hear about heaven, the more excited I get.  I imagine a life without meds, and the constant monitoring of my moods. This place is going to be good, and that’s just the start!

 Heaven is described as:

  1. a great reward, Col 3:24
  2. present suffering not worthy to be compared with future glory, Rom 8:18 
  3. eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 2 Cor 4:17-18
  4. surpassing riches of His grace towards us, Eph 2:7
  5. beyond all we could ask for or even think, Eph 3:20
  6. a complete and total healing, Rev 21:3-4

I sometimes think of my infirmities and pain.  I can’t wait to “shed” this mental illness. 

To be free from it will be one of best things I can think of.  To take off my depression, like a heavy coat on a warm day. To sit with Jesus in a cool garden with living water, that’s more refreshing than any iced tea. Eternity is my favorite things to think about–

“Where the unveile’d glories of the Deity shall beat full upon us, and we forever sun ourselves in the smiles of God.

—Ezekiel Hopkins 

I want to encourage you who are struggling now, with depression, anger,  schizophrenia, paranoia, abuse, OCD, addictions, PTSD, bipolar or any other handicap. There is a day coming, when we will forget the challenging battles that we’ve had to face. Wait for it.

And I must tell you, with all the strength I can muster–take hope and just journey one more day, and go ahead, dream about heaven.

Love, Bryan

 

When Despair Empties You

“It is through much tribulation that we enter the kingdom of Heaven.”  

Acts 14:22

As a broken believer this happens to me:

#1, I breakdown, and begin to fray. I begin to despair.

  1. #2, my own ‘faith’ is questioned, I’m burdened by my sin and guilt, I eventially become unsure of my salvation.

#3, I feel like I’m all alone. No one can help me. I’ve sinned my way out of the grace of God.

Life doesn’t seem to matter anymore.

When you’re profoundly depressed issues like a simple hot shower and eating something besides top ramen seem impossible. I’m embarrassed to say I once went 34 days with a shower. I laid in bed unable to function. I suppose that is the insidious truth about chronic depression, I know it well. God seems far, far away. Life doesn’t matter anymore. I am way beyond ‘salvageable.’ I obviously don’t say it but I feel like I’m destined for destruction.

  1. Just a word here about Satan’s battle for our souls. He is evil far beyond human comprehension. His schemes and plots are his attempt to destroy me and to extend his darkness.
  2. The devil is already condemned and his power lies emasculated (ouch!). With the weapons (Ephesians 6:10-18) we protect family and friends. We set free the captive, heal, and preach the gospel to those who can’t see yet.

There is much I can do before it gets to this point. Life’s concerns can seem insurmountable. We must grab the truth that clinical depression kills people. It slowly devours “a sound mind.” It cripples before it takes away your life. There is nothing quite like it; people tell you it will pass, and that you’ll see the sun again. But at the time that seems to be the worst advice ever given.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

2 Timothy 1:7

Meds help a lot. I used to take Zoloft and that is a godsend. I never missed a dose. I know I’m not bulletproof. But I’ve taken it for several years now. (It’s like insulin for a diabetic). Taking meds may not be your cup of tea, but pray about it and at least keep it as an option. (Just be aware that only a doctor can prescribe antidepressants.)

Afflicted souls are special to God.

And that alone truly comforts me. Sometimes it seems like there is an invisible tether that holds from completely dropping off the edge. When I do pray–it is desperate and brief. (More like a quiet scream for help.) There are no frills and no eloquence, but I know I’m being heard by Him who guards my soul.

7uyhjn xoikjhgfdnb People for the mo2st part, are of little help. And I admit that my attitude can be less than stellar. “Unless you have been lost in this section of hell yourself, it’s best if you just shut up.” (I don’t really say this, but I’m tempted to.)

But there are only a few that can speak clearly.

Almost always these are the ones who have been through some affliction themselves. They have been hurt and they ‘walk with a limp.’ I’m convinced that they can speak in direct proportion to the pain they themselves have suffered.

When I was very sick once I woke up to find another pastor praying prostrate on my bedroom floor. He didn’t have to do or say anything else. He left without saying some ‘pious’ word to me, yet what he did was wonderfully done.

“I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain.”   

John Henry Newman

Prepare in advance spiritually for the next. Identify those ‘dear-hearts’ who can help you in advance.Keep taking your meds, even if you think your o.k. And speak often with the Lord, and learn to listen to His voice. That “sound mind” is a promise for those who truly need it.

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The Art of Denying Jesus

deny

“Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he went away, weeping bitterly.”

Matthew 26:75, NLT

Three denials are followed by three reaffirmations.

A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”

John 21:17

The apostle Peter was a fervent disciple. He knew who Jesus was before most. He was always included in special times (e.g. the transfiguration, Gethsemane). He was favored by Jesus throughout times of ministry. I also believe that he was Jesus’ friend.

Peter is known for:

  • being called on the shores of Galilee, Matt 4:18-19
  • ‘almost’ walking on water, Matt 14:29-30
  • finding the tax money in a fishes’ mouth, Matt 17:24-27
  • having his feet washed, John 13:6-7
  • in Gethsemane– cutting off an ear, John 18:10-11
  • his remorse at denying Jesus, Matt 26:75
  • at the empty tomb with John, John 20:3-8

Peter’s own denials were of a serious nature affecting who he was, and who he was to become. Jesus astutely intervenes as they ‘breakfasted’ on the seashore. There would be three affirmations; one for each denial. Peter needed to meet the resurrected Jesus, and speak with him about what he had done. Peter needed this.

A denial has different intensities and can be used in many different ways.

Out of our own confusion, we realize that we can also deny Jesus. Perhaps frequently.  And none of us have an immunity as of yet. We deny the Lord when we refuse to speak of him to others. We deny the Lord when we fail to do what is right. Sometimes we deny him flagrantly, other times it is a more subtle attitude. At best, we’re still inconsistent, and at worst, apostate.

We’re not punished or abandoned for this behavior.

Human logic would suggest that we should be. But instead we are gently restored. Given the opportunity, Peter the fisherman, would eventually become a wise shepherd to the young Church. I would also suggest that Peter’s personal weakness would serve him well as a gentle, and caring pastor.

Peter, near the end of his life, goes ‘full circle’ and uses a very precise Greek word found in only two places in the New Testament. It is the specific form of the word “shepherd.” It is only used in John 21:16-17 in Peter’s restoration, and in 1 Peter 5:2. Peter encourages the Church with the same words Jesus himself spoke to him on the beach so long ago! Peter wrote:

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing.”

1 Peter 5:2, NIV

bry-signat (1)

 

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