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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More Like a Hospital!

“The church is not a select circle of the immaculate, but a home where the outcast may come in.”

“It is not a palace with gate attendants and challenging sentinels along the entrance-ways holding off at arm’s-length the stranger, but rather a hospital where the broken-hearted may be healed, and where all the weary and troubled may find rest and take counsel together.”

James H. Aughey

We live in challenging times. As people of faith, we’re slowly learning what Jesus really wants the Church to understand. Sometimes it seems we are taking two steps forward, and once step back. The Church must reacquaint itself with the total love of God for people once again.

The Father hasn’t given up on us. Repeatedly, over and over, (and then over again) we learn about His unreal faithfulness to the Church and His love for all people. But sometimes we have a hard time believing these things. Honestly, we’re not what we should be, but thank God we’re not like we were. We’re learning this as well.

On an individual levei we find it’s the “poor in spirit” and those who “mourn” (Matthew 5:3-5) who are the fortunate ones–these are those who are “blessed.” We are needy people, but the Father has and is seeking us. Always. He’s more faithful than the ‘faithfulist’ person who has ever lived!

And we also must understand this. He is always seeking those who are on the margins: the lame, blind, sick and crippled. (I for one have managed to combine all of these!) But thank God He’s still in the business of ‘collecting’ people who are desperate. And if you can’t see this, perhaps you should.

The Church, and the churches we attend, are meant for those who are sick–the outcasts. It’s primarily a hospital, and the “sentinels” (pastors and elders, and others) must understand this. We must know and believe this. And we must know for ourselves the love “the passes all understanding.”

Jesus loves all, but He’s looking for the outcasts.

A really good study are those persons in scripture, who in their neediness, scream out “Son of God, have mercy on me.” There are 4-5 in the Gospels who said this (outloud) and although they modify this plea/prayer in slightly different ways, all of them are very desperate.

(I’m seriously thinking about changing my middle name to “desperate.”) 

I encourage you to study this out, and get a deep handle on it. 

Our churches mustn’t lose sight of this kind of love, and if your fellowship isn’t doing this, just maybe you’re the one called to implement it. (And if this isn’t possible, you might consider moving on.)

Please reject the country club version of the Church. It isn’t right and it’s not the heart of God. It’s religion that comes to us in its gradient forms of foolishness. It doesn’t really reflect the intense seeking love of God. Somehow, along the way, these churches got lost. 

I suppose that the challenge/temptation is not just to turn away from the pigs like the prodigal did. But on the other hand, we also must not go to the opposite end–we dare NOT become the older brother– (Luke 15:1-2 and vv. 30-32). We usually will be one or the other. Unfortunately.

The question facing the Church is this:

Do we want a face-lift or a heart transplant?

One is for looking better, the other describes an entire overhaul. One is cosmetic, the other is a matter of life and death. One is minor, the other is not. What kind does the Church have?

————

I don’t know who the artist is who created this artwork that opens this. It resonates within my heart, and I love the ‘feel’ it brings. Notice the figures, they all have soiled garments, even the one doing the ministry!

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


	

A Plea

Being a Christian is not having better ideas, but having new eyes, a new heart. And God’s heart is broken over the sin and rebellion of men and women. Where’s the Church? Most never read their Bibles, they don’t pray or fast anymore. Instead, we listen to preachers who insist that political engagement is the solution.

This is not biblical.

The Church no longer has a passionate and all-consuming love and passion for Jesus (Rev. 2:4). We consult the internet and watch our favorite TV shows. We think that this is appropriate considering the evil we see. This is not the way.

Satan rejoices when we the Church capitulate like this. Most of us are not seeking the Lord. Churches are now a political force, and not a spiritual one. We don’t pray, and we seldom read our Bibles. We never fast or intercede. Our pastors never talk this way.

I heard recently a large church supported a chant, “Lets go Brandon.” (f**k Joe Biden). What a grief. We should be praying, “Let’s go Jesus.” (Or “lets go Church!) We’re no longer emphasizing the Kingdom of God. Statistics now tell us that only 20% of believers pray, and only 10% of us pray and intercede. Instead, we’re turning to the internet, and our favorite network commentaries.

Satan is rejoicing.

I believe we must be salt, we must be light. But we can’t adopt the world’s approach or techniques. We must pray. We must fast. We must read the Word again. We must become passionate about Jesus. Don’t allow yourself to be seduced.

“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his trickery, your minds will be led astray from sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

2 Cor. 11:1-3

This is my view. Others may believe differently. Please forgive me if I offend. That’s not my intention.

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