The Rigidity of Evil

I have a heart--but it is broken and crushed.

I have a heart–but it is broken and crushed.

Today I realized that I was sick and very tired of myself. It’s really not disgust, or even loathing. It’s more like a weariness, an exhaustion. I’ve never felt this way. In a strange way it intrigues me. Could this definite disenchantment mean something spiritual? Does it have value, or am I just feeling self-absorbed or conceited?

There is a real rigidity to evil. As I have seen it– sin hardens all who touch it, plain and simple. My growing immobility disturbs me, as I know I’m developing a “hardness of heart.” Atherosclerosis is a condition of a sick heart where arteries become blocked. It’s also known as “hardening of the heart, or arteries.” It is a patient killer, slowly and surely making hard deposits that block the flow of blood.

The Bible speaks about having a hard heart. It also uses the metaphor of fallow ground that must be plowed up. Jesus used the same image in His “Parable of the Sower” in Matthew 13.

“A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain.”

There are only four real options.

  • The first is seed that never arrives.
  • The second lands on hard stones.
  • The third possibility is landing on thorns and thistles.
  • Only the fourth flourishes.

    Heart of Stone Heart of Flesh

    The Battle of the Heart

The question I have is this, can the hard soil become soft, and can the good soil become overgrown with thistles? Is this a static, set experience? Or could it be far more fluid? I seem to move from one soil condition to another.

I have found that my own  heart drifts. Manic Depression is a mental illness where emotions fluctuate constantly. They gallivant around, floating here and than there. I maybe depressed and suicidal in the morning, and then I can be euphoric in the evening. It’s having the identity of a “wandering star.”

I want my heart to soften. I want to sit with Jesus and hear His words. I need Him to share what He is thinking about. Any sin I entertain has a hardening effect in my spiritual heart. This really scares me. *

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ybic, Bryan

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A Retrograde Faith

Loveonthewall

ret·ro·grade

  [re-truh greyd]  (ret·ro·grad·ed, ret·ro·grad·ing.)

adjective

1. moving backward; having a backward motion or direction; retiring or retreating.
2. inverse or reversed, as order.
3. Chiefly Biology. exhibiting degeneration or deterioration.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 16 Jul. 2013. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/retrograde>.
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24 “But my people would not listen to me. They kept doing whatever they wanted, following the stubborn desires of their evil hearts. They went backward instead of forward.”

–Jeremiah 7:24, NLT
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I seldom seek out things like this to write about. In my 30 years following the Lord Jesus, I have been bludgeoned more than a few times by people wielding Jeremiah like a cudgel. Mostly, these are good people who I liked and honored. (But maybe they had too much coffee that day, IDK.)
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But there is a real issue here. Many who start out strong and brave end up on the scrap heap. Somehow, I suppose they were never able to tune their “ear” to His voice. But to be really honest– this can be a hard thing. And many of these dear ones end up with a retrograde walk in the Spirit. They would deny this, but if we look for a passion, we will see that a “first love” it will be absent.
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That passion is the pulse, the blood pressure of a walk that is so vital and so authentic. We can measure our own walk by this singular means– “first-love.”  Rev. 2:4-5 shouts to us,
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“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.” 
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A retrograde faith may not deny Him, but it can often draw us into the place where our denial isn’t necessary. And that I suppose may be the scariest part of becoming apostate. We just slip; we slip right off of the map into an “almost-discipleship.” We would never dream of speaking an outright denial (never, ever) but we end up in this grey zone, nevertheless.
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I have no desire to manipulate you through nice sounding words and phrases. But I feel duty bound to tell you up-front. Having a “first-love” will protect you. A “first-love” will cover you and lead you through many diverse issues. Revelation 2 was the Father’s plea to a Church that had seemingly advanced in every way. (As a pastor I would have loved to oversee this Church.) But the Father spoke a clear word of correction to them. And  I’m sure that it was hard to accept.
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The “retrograde Church” exists. Unfortunately, it is alive and well, but we must share with these dear ones about the true freedom which comes from the “first-love” relationship with the Lord Jesus. Our love for Him, and His love for us will protect us from something that goes “backward” and not forward. I can only say, love Jesus, and make Him your “first-love.”
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“Whom should we love, if not Him who loved us, and gave himself for us?  –Unknown

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ybic, Bryan

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Discipleship is Intimacy

Intimacy with Jesus

There is so much good about any emphasis the Church puts on discipleship.  We pray, fast, and study the Bible better than any other generation.  We have as our pastors and teachers men and women equipped in our seminaries in Greek and Hebrew, educated in counseling and Church growth.  We are doing missions with the best of them.

But there is something amiss.  I believe we have misplaced intimacy.  Our worship services seem mechanical.  We are no longer in a wild love affair with the One who really matters.  We no longer just spontaneously think of Him, crying out for His mercy and love.

It could be that the evangelical Church in America has passed its expiration date.  We have grown confused, and have struggled with an emptiness that is at the core of a legalistic and a works dominated life.  We do not cry out with a passionate love for Him who desperately wants to hold us close.

The Book of Song of Solomon is the love story between a shepherdess and her beloved.  This love is a love that envelops and controls a person’s entire being.  Her love is intense as well as thirsty.  She needs her shepherd.  There is an element of being ‘lovesick’ and never settling for a second best relationship with her beloved.

Biblical discipleship must always be intimacy with Jesus.

In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul writes about his deep concern for that particular Church,

2 “For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ. But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent.”

There is jealousy involved here (which is suspect by us) and a foolishness (which is embarrassing) and is emotional.  This passage suggests a higher and purer following of Jesus that Satan wants to corrupt.  Paul was concerned that these Corinthians would not be a pure bride.  He got jealous over their vulnerability. He believed that they would miss the bridal love that they possessed.

I want to challenge you to keep the innocence of your relationship with Jesus. Guard it and refuse to be led away from its simple devotion.  Love with a white hot love.  Learn the language of romance again and remember that your discipleship is not an end in itself.  Biblical discipleship is intimacy with Jesus. We must settle on this in our hearts. The true foundation of discipleship can only be a kind of ‘first love’.

“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!”

Revelation 2:4

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Traveling Mercies, [The Journey]

Things can get pretty grim just living life.  But add a disability, and suddenly blam! It gets worse.  A mental illness intensifies life, and the weird concoction of symptoms and hospitals, therapists and medications and family/friends is a bit daunting for anyone. Imagine, that it’s a bit like running through the wilderness slathered in ‘bacon grease,’ trying to stay ahead from the bears (I’m writing this from Alaska, hence the bear imagery, lol.)

My walk with Jesus has extreme variations (at least, on my part.)  I’m up, and then I’m down.  I’m on fire and then I’m cold.  I struggle to attempt at least a modicum of consistency, wishing I could just put two ‘good days’ together.  I am ashamed by this volatility.  The apostle Peter, or David are probably the only guys in scripture I can really understand.

The impulsivity of my mental illness has driven me to turn my credit cards over to Lynn.  I try to avoid liquor stores, porn sites, and urges to strip off my clothes and run down Pioneer Avenue.  I definitely try to go to Church, read the Bible and pray.  But I have been known to hallucinate, I hear things, and get awfully paranoid.  I’m always, it seems just one step ahead of my psychiatrist in avoiding the hospital.  (And I want to keep it that way.) And suicidality is an almost real monster– always lurking for me under my bed.

But I have also learned many other things from being a mentally ill believer:

  • When its really dark, His love always comes through. He understands me. He intentionally ‘looks’ for me. He’ll never quit on me.
  • My discipleship is not about the externals of my theology, but it’s about romance from my heart.
  • In my pathetic brokenness, He is my strength and my shield. Always.
  • Worship and prayer are more like invasive “medical procedures” that keep me alive.
  • Love. I’m learning to be kinder and more aware of others then ever before.
  • I want to live in the Light and respond to others in Christlike way. Never out of my fallen sinfulness.

I suppose I could add more, if I thought about it.  Ultimately, it all comes down to the presence of Jesus Christ coming to meet me, to forgive me and to change me.  This simple blog is saturated with posts that other Brokenbelievers can wade through, and some just might help, lol.

The title of this post alludes to a quote I found. I’ve gently modified it. Not sure where I found it. But it gives the explanation for all that I’ve said:

“Life should NOT be a journey to heaven with the
intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well
preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways,
with bruises and band-aids, and some tears as well, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming… “WOO HOO what a ride!”

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Kissing Crooked Lips

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“The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’”

Luke 7:34

God in a profound way, accommodates Himself to our ‘sickness’.  We find that He has this beautiful quality about Him, that He becomes quite tender and gentle around any spiritual disease. He certainly gravitates to the broken. His love for sinners is a well established fact we must consider frequently.

In his book Mortal Lessons (Touchstone Books, 1987) physician Richard Selzer describes a scene in a hospital room after he had performed surgery on a young woman’s face:

“I stand by the bed where the young woman lies . . . her face, postoperative . . . her mouth twisted in palsy . . . clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, one of the muscles of her mouth, has been severed. She will be that way from now on. I had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh, I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had cut this little nerve. Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed, and together they seem to be in a world all their own in the evening lamplight . . . isolated from me . . .private.”

“Who are they? I ask myself . . . he and this wry mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously. The young woman speaks. “Will my mouth always be like this?” she asks. “Yes,” I say, “it will. It is because the nerve was cut.” She nods and is silent. But the young man smiles. “I like it,” he says, “it’s kind of cute.” All at once I know who he is. I understand, and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with the divine. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth, and I am so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers. . . to show her that their kiss still works

This is who Jesus has always been. And if you think you are getting to be a great kisser or are looking desirable, I feel sorry for you. He wraps himself around our hurts, our brokenness and our ugly, ever-present sin. Those of you who want to draw big, dark lines between my humanity and my sin, go right ahead, but I’m not joining you.

I need Jesus so much to love me like I really am: brokenness, memories, wounds, sins, addictions, lies, death, fear….all of it. Take all it, Lord Jesus. If I don’t present this broken, messed up person to Jesus, my faith is dishonest, and my understanding of it will become a way of continuing the ruse and pretense of being “good.”

God truly loves the unlovely.

He is passionate about those who have been disfigured by sin. Those who turn to a sort of ‘spiritual Botox’ can only hide their blemishes. But coming to him we find healing and acceptance.

You’re the young woman in the opening story. The kisses of your Savior are yours. Unconditionally. 

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Some of this post was taken from an old post from the blog of the “Internet Monk” and has been repeated here for your edification.

This blog can be read in its entirety at : http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/imonk-101-when-i-am-weak-why-we-must-embrace-our-brokenness-and-never-be-good-christians

The Internet Monk’s website is really engaging and diverse and I strongly suggest visiting it.

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Jesus, the Romancer of the Church

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“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.'”

John 3:16-17, New Living Translation

What if I told you that the universe was built for a romance?  Undoubtedly historians and psychiatrists would find that objectionable.  We may not understand life as clearly as we could, but it sure is not a passionate romance, or is it? But could it be a plausible reason for existence? 

I’ve been reading the Old Testament book of Song of Solomon the last few weeks and have thinking a lot about this very intense allegory between a shepherdess and her lover.

It is full of passion and of public declarations of love and desire.  A dialogue is developed, and truths are volleyed back and forth from character to character.

“Kiss me and kiss me again,
    for your love is sweeter than wine.
3 How fragrant your cologne;
    your name is like its spreading fragrance.
    No wonder all the young women love you!
4 Take me with you; come, let’s run!
    The king has brought me into his bedroom.”

Songs 1:2-4

Scripture as a whole leads us to believe that romance is much more substantial then we dreamed it could be.  But if we can, we should visualize Jesus’ love for us as being his motivation for doing what he has done, and is doing.  Love is what keeps him from letting us go!

There are dozens of scriptures that declare a heated love for you.  I believe in a divine romance that Jesus has for your soul.  Love continues to motivate him to reach out for you.  Your devotional life (as Christians call it) is your dialogue with Him.  A sharing of hearts between you and Jesus.

The ancient Jews regarded the book of Song of Solomon to be the ‘holiest of holies’ of scripture and set apart to be read during Passover. 

That time, the Passover, was the most significant in the act of redemption. The inclusion of this book was no accident. It reveals a deep lover that woos a bride. He is quite passionate about you.

You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride;  you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.”

Songs 4:9, ESV

I think that our pastors, and leaders need a “theology of romance” to clarify the place of discipleship in our hearts.  Instead of cold doctrine we need a fervent passion to work it through our lives.  We are the bride of Christ, and we must be reminded of that.  “I am my beloveds and he is mine.”

“Who is this sweeping in from the desert,
    leaning on her lover?”

Songs 8:5, NLT

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Just One More Dance [Scandalous Joy]

Do the Dance-- For Him

Do the Dance– For Him

14 And David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod.”

2 Samuel 6:13-15

When I start to dance, you had better head for higher ground!  I am without question the world’s worst and the clumsiest of all.  And since my brain surgery it has gotten even worse.  I need to use a cane now, because of all that.  (If you look up “klutz” in the dictionary you’ll see my picture lol.)  Even so, I do love the idea of dancing, but I’m like Bozo, the circus clown, on roller-skates.  I lurch from side-to-side and I’m always on the verge of falling on someone’s lap.  Which is a real hoot!

But there is just one dance that I am waiting for. It is the dance I will have with my Savior.  There will be a day, in a place and time where He will call me and I will dance.  It will be remarkable for me, and its a day that I anticipate and hope it comes soon. (I have been practicing, lol.)

To dance is to liberate your heart.  You must cancel out all self-consciousness.  If you are self-aware, you will never enter into the joy and wonder of the dance.  You will be a perpetual wall-flower, living only on the edges.  And, you will be very sad.

It seems you must dance in your heart, before you can ever dance with your feet.

I desperately want to dance.  I see Him clearly on that day when I have no cane, and am as graceful as I hope to be. I will not be watching you, (sorry) but I will see only Him.  I believe that my heart will beat exclusively for Him.

Some of you have been crippled; smashed in the awful gears of life. But I also know that your life can be also astonishingly full of grace– you have endured so much, and yet Jesus intends to occupy your thoughts and vision.  When I am with Him, my heart will finally be free to dance. You will find Him to be the “Dancing Lord.’

“Young women and young men, together with the elderly, will celebrate and dance, because I will comfort them and turn their sorrow into happiness.”

Jeremiah 31:12-14

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