The Hidden Smile of God, [Discovery]

 

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Imagine for just a moment, you can actually see the face of God. Is He…?

  • angry, seething with a vindictive hostility
  • rolling His eyes, amused, maybe a bit perplexed
  • disturbed, frustrated, ready to give up on you
  • not looking at all, bored, detached, not caring
  • smiling at you, like a proud Father?

Three simple verses for the God’s ‘face-seeking’ person.

13 “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” says the Lord.”

Jeremiah 29:13-14

3 “Long ago the Lord said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.”

Jeremiah 31:3

32 “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Luke 12:32

There are many, many more like these three. (But I didn’t want to scare you.)

God’s love is not logical, or mechanical. and you can’t see His face based on your performance. You simply just can’t do enough. So we all must come to Him the same way— on our knees. God’s love is outrageously understood, it is completely undeserved and perhaps just a bit scandalous. So settle this now, you’ll never, ever be good enough, (but you can be bad enough).

I believe the face of God is smiling on us, and He ‘lights up’ when we come into His presence. He is incredibly gracious. You can thank Jesus— it was His cross and resurrection that made access to God possible. (O.K., just one more verse.)

19 “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”

Ephesians 2:19

There is a freedom that comes when you quit struggling and simply believe in ‘the smiles of God,’ and when you know deep-down that you belong. Everyone who comes to Him comes by the goodness (and sacrifice) of Someone else. And that is remarkably good news.

Hallelujah,

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“The Church Collects Sinners,” [God’s Hospital]

This following excerpt is from the devotional book, “Living the Message,” by Eugene H. Peterson.  This pastor-professor is probably the person I want to grow up to be like; he has a gentleness and eloquence that is seldom seen–and highly respected.
Author of many books, and his extraordinary translation of the Bible, titled “The Message” which is regarded by many as a masterpiece of the English language. 
Additionally, he has recently focused on the pastor, and on the many issues a pastor might face.  He understands being a servant of the Gospel and the Church. 
I encourage you to read his stuff.  

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“When Christian believers gather in churches, everything that can go wrong sooner or later does.  Outsiders, on observing this, conclude there is nothing to this religious business, except perhaps, business…and a distant one at that.  Insiders see it much differently.”
“Just as a hospital gathers the sick under one roof and labels them as such, the Church collects sinners.  Many of the people outside are just as sick as the ones inside, but their illnesses are either undiagnosed or disguised.  It is similar with sinners outside the church.”

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 Some other quotes by Eugene Peterson:

  • “All the persons of faith I know are sinners, doubters, uneven performers. We are secure not because we are sure of ourselves but because we trust that God is sure of us.”
  • “When we submit our lives to what we read in scripture, we find that we are not being led to see God in our stories but our stories in God’s. God is the larger context and plot in which our stories find themselves. “
  • “When we sin and mess up our lives, we find that God doesn’t go off and leave us- he enters into our trouble and saves us.”
  • “American religion is conspicuous for its messianically pretentious energy, its embarrassingly banal prose, and its impatiently hustling ambition.”
 
Some Good Solid Websites:
 
 
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Intensely Loved, but Definitely Broken, [Reality]

bryondeck-2For everyone who loves Jesus, but yet has had an experience of terrible loss, sickness or the death of a loved one…this post is meant for you.

I am evangelical, a former pastor, and a Bible college instructor. I also have bipolar depression, and a bit of paranoia and delusional thinking. I have been hospitalized in mental hospitals seven times in 10 years.  But, I love Jesus more than anything. And I’ve been told by many who repeatedly insist that He loves me as well.

I have experienced the darkest and most crippling depressions.  There are some weeks (months?) I could not get out of bed, shower or even eat.  For this Bipolar, I must take Lithium, Zoloft, and Lamictal.  These meds hold me in place. I’m being treated for a seizure disorder, and have had surgery to remove a tumor in my brain. I now walk with a cane.

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

1 Corinthians 1:3

This blog is geared for the mentally ill believer, the terminally ill, habitual sinners and all who are confused and dismayed by their own brokenness. But you don’t need a diagnosis to read this blog.

It seems like failures—

  • the mentally feeble,
  • lame,
  • chronically ill
  • blind, and deaf
  • sinners, great and small
  • and mentally ill have not always been welcome in the Church. I think that is about to change.

I’m honestly convinced that it has been the churches’ loss. How is the Church ever going to learn to love the unlovely without us to ‘train’ them? We the disabled are sprinkled into each fellowship to tutor them through our illnesses.

The church need not look to new ‘fund raising ideas’ or to pave the parking lot, it just needs to reach out to the broken– one at a time.  I think God will bless every church who will do this. This is the work and passion of Jesus. This is what Jesus’ church looks like. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10.)

The Church needs us, whether it realizes it or not.  It is as broken people that we model our fallenness as the paradigm to intimacy with Jesus.  We often are the first to know that it has never been about our giftedness, but our intimacy. 

We are a witness, a tangled but tangible reminder, of how God’s grace gives His power to the weak and despised (2 Cor. 2).

“For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” 

Matthew 9:13

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Mathew 11:28-30

I simply can not say anything more. Just please love us.

“The power of the Church is not a parade of flawless people, but of a flawless Christ who embraces our flaws. The Church is not made up of whole people, rather of the broken people who find wholeness in a Christ who was broken for us.”

–Mike Yaconelli

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All scripture quotations are from the New Living Translation.

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