The Real Treasures, [Weaknesses]

treasure

As Christians often our theology tells us that mental illness, depression, and bipolar disorder have no place in the believer’s life.  So we hide, sneaking into our sessions with our therapists, and change the subject to minimize our exposure to direct questions. We have had to hide our issues really well. 

But I would submit to you that it is we who are closest to the Kingdom of God. It is far easier for us to approach the Father, in our brokenness, humility, and general lostness. We have needs; a sound mind, a healthy body and we know it. We have no illusions of wellness, nothing can convince us that we are well. We are not.

We are broken and only our loving creator can mend us.

You might say that the Church needs us. An Archbishop was given an ultimatum by the Huns who surrounded his cathedral. “You have 24 hours to bring your wealth to these steps”, the war-leader demanded. The next morning the Archbishop came out leading the poor, the blind, the lame, and the lunatics. “Where is your treasure? Why have you brought out these… people?” The Archbishop simply and quietly replied, “These are the treasures of the Church, these who are weak are our valuables. They make us rich.”

We often can value giftedness more than weakness.

I am afraid the the Western Church no longer sees its “treasures” like it should. In our pride and self-centeredness we have operated our churches like successful businesses. We value giftedness more than weakness. We definitely have no room for the desperately weak. I suppose it’s time for the Church to begin to act like Jesus.

Church isn’t where you meet. Church isn’t a building. Church is what you do. Church should be a verb.  Church is who you are. Church is the human outworking of the person of Jesus Christ. Let’s not go to Church, let’s be the Church.

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Sifted, Like Wheat, [Trial]

Threshing Wheat

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat.  But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”

Luke 22:31-32

I’m thinking about failure;  it is something that I am really, really good at.  In my almost 56 years I just realized that I’ve experienced more weak moments then strong.  I have easily failed more than I have succeeded. I am embarrassed by this. I have figured that I’ve sinned, and failed more as a Christian, than I ever did as a pagan sinner. And things show little sign of improving.

Simon Peter is about to undergo a trial so intense and difficult, that unless Jesus intervenes it will probably destroy Peter.

The only other blatant attack where Satan seeks permission is in the life of Job. It is reasonable to believe that the forces of hell are concentrated on Peter.

You and I undergo some of this onslaught ourselves.  We go through periods of intense trial.  Everything just falls apart, and we lose hope.  I’ve had several periods like that, a tornado from hell bears down upon my life.

There is remarkably good news in this.

  • First, Jesus is praying for me to endure.  He is the faithful intercessor for my soul.
  • Second, He gives us a modicum of understanding by warning us of the approaching storm.  Peter is told ahead of time of what was going to happen.
  • Third, the wheat will be sifted.  Sifting or the harrowing of the grain is a good and godly activity. It is a good thing, as it builds your faith.
  • Four, you will survive to strengthen your brothers and sisters.

All pain and failure gives us a mandate to serve others. Our weakness gives us a spiritual license to become a shepherd of mercy and hope.  (You could say that you are now a licensed minister.) We can ask for nothing more; it is a good and profound work.

In love’s work, only the wounded can truly serve.

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Mundane Atrocities, [Woundings]

home-care-options-abound-for-people-suffering-from-depression-in-home-care-support-services

“Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.”

Proverbs 4:23

We often carry in our hearts the woundings from other’s actions and sins. We will typically respond in different ways. Some insulate themselves, others get quirky; quite a few turn on to drugs and alcohol to ease the pain. Very few handle these wounds properly without God’s intervention.

We can get quite innovative building and maintaining these deceptions and protections. If you’ve been ‘wounded’ you know what I mean. I struggled for the longest time over something spoken in jest– harmless banter that became poisonous over time. We can hurt from just simple trifles.

There is something I call, ‘mundane atrocities.’ They are casual encounters that are woven over time to produce nasty results. They can often be the raw material for the deceptions that shape us.

The story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis 39-50 provides us insight into the life of one man who sincerely follows the Lord, through outrageous ‘twists & turns.’ He navigates as a dreamer and a loved son, to slave and then prison. Over the years Joseph is hurt by the brokenness of those around him, yet he moves through these without becoming derailed.

Joseph says something toward the end that is quite perceptive. In Genesis we read of his heart in these mundane atrocities. These are the words of a broken man, from a broken family

“But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.” (45:5)

 “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (50:20)

Mind you, this is after years of false imprisonment and vicious misunderstanding. Joseph sees God’s hand in deep injustice. He keeps his spirit clean through it all. He could’ve reacted and insisted on vengeance, but that would not happen.

I believe there exists a “Holy Order of the Josephites.”

Joseph is a prototype, a real example for us who must navigate through the tangledness of life. I believe there exists a “Holy Order of the Josephites.” It is bestowed on those who have experienced this first-hand and come through with their spirits clean. (We call this Christlikeness.)

Jesus himself walks by your side through all this pain. Fix your eyes on the one who understands intimately your situation. “God means it for good” and intends on bringing you through this, you will stand by His side one day soon.

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