Being Very, Very Sick

Potter shaping a ceramic plate on a pottery wheel
Potter shaping a ceramic plate on a pottery wheel
“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.”

2 Corinthians 1:9

To be chronically ill often means awful frustration. We can’t do what we want, we are ‘trapped’ by a disease we never asked for, and we’re held hostage by our minds and bodies. We once had a job– a career… and our time was occupied by that.

We were accustomed to something, anything more than being very sick.

I once was a pastor of a small church. I also taught Gospels for several years in a local Bible Institute. I loved ministry very much. They defined my identity and gave me purpose. I enjoyed helping people and teaching the Word. I endeavored to be faithful in the ministry. I hope I did.

With the sudden onset of a brain tumor, followed up by a diagnosis of bipolar disorder (BP), my life more or less exploded. I had extensive memory loss. I knew I had to step out of the ministry. I simply could not function. It was a hard thing to leave it behind. (I still miss it).

My depression grew even more profound with the stillborn death of our third child just 3 days before her delivery, Things suddenly ground to a standstill as my wife and I tried to process all of this. I guess I just couldn’t understand and more or less just shut down. I was angry at God. I spent months in bed, unable to function.

A profound sadness settled on me.

Some people were true jewels. Others were mean and uncaring. (I had to learn to take the good with the bad.) I suppose I should have understood, but things were so tangled up inside me that I couldn’t verbalize a thing. But God knew all about me.

The post-op recovery following the tumor was an ordeal, as I had to learn many things all over again. A few years later I ended up on disability; I was unable to work, and my symptoms were so unpredictable. I dealt with profound depression and a solid dose of paranoia and fear.

I learned that meds can help, but they can’t fix the problem.

The isolation of being ill seems worse than the pain. We wonder why this is happening to us, and we hear lies about our worthiness or God’s goodness. Our value to others seems to be scuttled by our illness. We can feel cursed, forgotten, crippled by God, or even worse. (Maybe even irrevocably lost.)

Satan craves our spiritual destruction, and he snares unsteady souls.

I admit I have been slow to learn this– but God brings good things out of the dark. I’m embarrassed by my personal lack of acquiring all of this. Now I’m starting to learn finally, and I want His words to reflect these truths.

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”

2 Corinthians 4:7

This light will shine. The treasure is found in clay vessels. Brokenness only means the treasure is now seen clearly. It’s important to note–treasure loses none of its value by being surrounded by broken clay. Our weaknesses are being turned into goodness, understanding, and love for our brothers and sisters.

Troubles of many different varieties will visit us. Count on it.

No matter what their nature, God holds his people in place while everything else is falling apart. But for the broken believer, there is another dimension; we will indeed triumph. The tragedies we’ve had to endure only supplement our faith. We will stand– because He makes us stand.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.”

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

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Comprehensive Protection

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The Book of Daniel contains the acts and welfare of the Jewish people in Babylon. They are captives and so many of the stories shared here are accounts of spirituality under duress. King Nebuchadnezzar, in an attempt to unify his kingdom, proclaims himself to be a god. He commissions a 90-foot statue to be erected; he orders that, on a prearranged moment, all would fall down and worship.

Thgold statueere are three Jewish men: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who are brought to the king with the charge of ‘failure to worship.’ They refused to bow at the statue at the signal. They were observed standing when everyone else was kneeling. Non-compliance to the king meant the death penalty, but that doesn’t deter the three.

Their faith will not allow them to sin in this way.

They are resolute. The first, second, and third commandments clearly forbid the worship of all idols. There were no other options. Perhaps they valued their souls more than they valued their lives. In some things, there can be no accommodation– no compromise. Standing before the king and threatened with death, they declare their allegiance to the living God.

Dan. 3:16-18:

 “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

The king is enraged.

Few have ever spoken and defied him like this (and lived). He orders the furnace to be heated up like never before.  Here the king is making a statement. He will not tolerate this kind of ‘rebellion’ in his kingdom. All of his governing leaders will witness what he does to ‘traitors.’ These Hebrews must be made an example.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods”

(v.v. 24-25)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are thrown into the fire. The men who escorted them are killed by the heat. Ironically, Nebuchadnezzer can’t protect his own men from death while the three Jews are not touched, not even a little.

They are joined by a fourth man and they walk around in the midst of the flames.

Suddenly, Nebuchadnezzer realizes that the God of Israel is not only a real God, but a force to be reckoned with. The men’s faith has saved them. (And his men are dead.)

The complete story is quite compelling. The king orders all that the real God be worshipped. Henceforth, no one shall ever speak against this God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are promoted in the kingdom.

The lessons for today are many,

  1. God’s Word is to be obeyed no matter what it costs.

  2. When confronted, we must never hedge over our beliefs.

  3. God is present with us in our furnace, we’re never alone.

  4. In the fire, our faith will ultimately triumph. One way or another.

We may be standing in similar times. Faith will be tested. The Word must be believed and trusted. It is ‘comprehensive protection’ for our lives. Obedience to God will lead us into difficult places, but faith will triumph.

“When you have no helpers, see your helpers in God. When you have many helpers, see God in all your helpers. When you have nothing but God, see all in God. When you have everything, see God in everything. Under all conditions, stay thy heart only on the Lord.”

    Charles Spurgeon

The Dangers of Porn

Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.”

Matthew 5:8

“The righteous shall move onward and forward; those with pure hearts shall become stronger and stronger.”

Job 17:9

We live in a time when impurity threatens many men and women. Pornography is easily accessible in our generation. The internet is flooded with sites that’ll hurt believers. It will ruin our relationship with our heavenly Father. It affects our marriages and destroys our connection with others.

There is intense guilt that comes from using porn.

It covers us with a shame that hurts us deep inside, something detrimental to intimacy with our spouses, family, or friends, and as well with other believers. We’re guilty of hidden sin. Satan uses it to further isolate the Christian.

Porn causes us to be secretive. We want to hide it from others. We learn how to delete “cookies” on our computers. We want to hide the things we are doing. We must understand that using porn becomes addicting, it’s sort of crack cocaine to our spirits.

Masturbation is common to those viewing pornography.

Our view of naked men or women in sexual acts objectifies them. Subconsciously we start to evaluate our closest relationships. We compare others to the things we see.

  • It’s addictive. We can’t imagine life without it.
  • It seperates us from others. It begins to isolate us.
  • We have a secret life, hidden and masked.
  • Porn is easy to find, and it latches itself in our minds and hearts.
  • It often leads us into further and deeper perversions.
  • We see others as objects, not people who God loves.
  • It often leads one into a life of hypocrisy and deception.
  • Porn can lead one into masturbation and wrong relationships with others.
  • It weakens our God-ordained relationship with our spouses.
  • Viewing porn is a form of adultery.
  • We start to compare our spouse to the things we’ve seen.
  • It instills us with guilt and shame. It will destroy your discipleship.
  • The time we spend in porn can be better used for the Word, worship and prayer.
  • It desensitifies our relationship with God’s Spirit.

There’s so much more that can be added to this list. But this dear one is just a start. Perhaps you’ll discover more that should be added.

“I have made a covenant with my eyes.
How then could I look at a young woman?”

Job 31:1

“Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things.”

Philippians 4:8

Only the Spirit of holiness can make an impure heart pure. However, we must do the ‘leg work” and make it to free ourselves from this sin. Our minds and hearts are our battlefields. To recognize this constantly is necessary. We must take solid steps to take the victory He gives. I realize that the demonic forces are very intense, but God’s power is far stronger.

Your desire to be pure is evidence of God’s care and grace.

If you’re struggling it’s really helpful to share your problem with someone you trust. Becoming accountable will help. Please don’t be afraid of being judged. Quit lying to yourself (and others) that you can overcome this on your own. You can’t hide it any longer.

If you wish you can contact Linda or me. If anything we can pray.

“Can a man embrace fire and his clothes not be burned?”

Proverbs 6:27


	

Toxic Shame

Some years ago while in prayer I saw a white marble fountain situated in a gorgeous courtyard. It was beautiful. As I looked I realized that it didn’t have clean freshwater like you might think, but it spewed feces and urine. It was gross, it was awful, and I immediately understood.

I realize that I was that marble fountain, and I generated only filth.

Being ashamed is cruelty that can only destroy a person. We think we must have defense mechanisms to survive. We drink, use drugs, get involved with sex. We might put on a tie and raise our hands in the church worship time. Whatever works I suppose. Almost always shame drives us to look for ways to escape.

People who live with shame often feel worthless, depressed, and anxious. Shame can be a contributing factor to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. People who are constantly ashamed live out a difficult emotional and mental battle each and every day.

The psalmist understood. The human spirit can not handle shame. I know first-hand that it’s terribly destructive. Psalm 44:15 describes a person who understood:

“My disgrace is before me all day long,
and shame has covered my face.”

I believe only the power of Jesus can “purify” us. Only He has the ability to clean my spirit. In the New Testament, we see Jesus healing the leper with just a touch. Shame will be removed from your heart when he touches your own “leprosy.”

Here are things you must remember.

  • Shame seperates me from God.
  • Shame is a sign of self-hatred.
  • Shame makes me feel like giving up.
  • Shame leads me to go out and sin more.
  • Shame destroys the gifts that He is waiting for me to serve others.
  • Shame makes me judgemental and critical of others.
  • Shame weakens the Church in ways I can’t comprehend.

These two verses (below) are true. They will move you out of shame and guilt. These two must be believed and put into practice before you can be really free. It will probably be a battle–every day. The following two promises are crucial.

“But if we confess our sins to him, he can be depended on to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. And it is perfectly proper for God to do this for us because Christ died to wash away our sins.”

1 John 1:9, LB

“Once again you will have compassion on us. You will tread our sins beneath your feet; you will throw them into the depths of the ocean!”

Micah 7:19

I must reiterate this, and use all authority God has given to me, to bear on you its importance.

Jesus stood against Satan in the wilderness. He used the Word to do this. You’ll need to do this if you want to destroy Satan’s grip on you. You must do the same. Too many people are waiting for you to do this.

Unless you do so you will be destroyed by the enemy. I dare not pull any punches with you. I don’t mean to be hard, I really don’t.

I strongly suggest you share your battle with another believer who will understand and be discreet.

Shame is the raincoat over my heart that repels the living water of Jesus. It’s that shame that keeps me from understanding that I’m the beloved of God and His precious child.

 

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