Wednesday, September 28, 2011
However, I’ve some questions, which might be beneficial for others to read and grapple with too. So here they are:
1) Is spiritual depression a sin?
2) Is one who suffers from Spiritual depression a, “very poor representative of the Christian faith? (Martin Lloyd Jones)”
3) When it comes to this matter – spiritual depression – what thoughts are given to Jesus being, “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief?”
4) What about the prophets? What about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? What about David and Solomon? Did they deal with spiritual depression?
5) Mountains or beach?
Now, I’m serious when I say, I want your answers if you’re willing to give them. So either leave them as a comment (anonymous if you’d like) or e-mail to me here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, September 26, 2011
How fast my foes increase
Conspiring my eternal death
They break my fleeting peace.
Arise, Oh Lord, fulfill your grace
While I your glory sing;
My God has broke the serpent’s teeth
And death has lost his sting.”
Death is unknown to us, and reasonably so, for none who has traveled it successfully has returned to tell of the subtle nuances of it. In many respects it is the final journey. Faced alone. “Alone into the unknown.”
But imagine this, for those who are believing the gospel, the burdens shouldered for their entire life will be finally removed on those other shores of eternity. The weight of sin rid of completely. The thorn in the side ultimately eliminated.
The fears and the foes, which increase, those conspirators of death, usurpers of peace have been beaten back to the gates of hell, and will be forever locked in the depths of their ‘kingdom’ for the serpent’s teeth are broken and death has lost it’s sting.
Though the flesh may fail our Jesus did not. Though the heart might faultier our Rock remains firm. For God will give the poor in spirit his Kingdom; comfort to the mourner; the earth to the meek; righteousness to those who thirst for it; mercy for the merciful; himself to the pure in heart; & his kingdom to the persecuted. He is & must forever be the strength of our hearts and our portion forever. He is enough. He is good. (Ps 73:23-26; Matt 5:1-12)
“But you my glory and my strength
Will on my tempter tread
Will silence all my threatening guilt
And raise my drooping head.”
Friday, September 23, 2011
Hated for the sake of Jesus, for his name’s sake. Too often we’re reviled as believers not because of Jesus’ name but because we’re judgmental prigs or Theological throat cutters.
We’re hated because we’re jerks. Rather than living lives of love we’re living lives of I’m-right-and-you’re-wrong-and-going-to-hell-for-it.
Hell is real and important but as finite individuals we’re not capable or are we ever commanded to damn anyone or make definitive statements about other people’s salvation. It’s a big enough deal to, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” rather than trying to work out everyone else’s too.
But in the end, whether you’ve been believing since you were five or just started believing at 55 or are far from belief the fact remains true, we all need the gospel. The message will not or should not change. What is effective at saving dead men is effective at feeding the living.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
I was at a conference last week where one of the speakers spoke (odd, right?) about hiding in God. At first thoughts it sounds like a cheesy Christianise statement, some cliché thought up for the Kindergarten Sunday School class in 1992. But the depth of it is mineable, so mineable in fact that one could mine the aspect of hiding in God for one’s life and never run dry.
At least that’s the thought.
For the flight back I had bought “A Greif Observed” by C.S. Lewis (because the only seventh Harry Potter book the store had was a hardback brick and errbody know my arms are little) wherein he begins to talks about the door being slammed and double bolted in his face when he needs God most.
I’ve felt that, have you? Even though I don’t believe God to ever be silent, I’ve experienced a seeming utter silence. When shouting only compounds the void.
Lewis goes on further in the book to recount the locked door again by saying it was his own cries that drowned out the answer, his own forceful hammerings that caused the small whisper to be lost.
That might be true. But it may be as simple as we don’t want him to answer. Even in our desperate need, with as many pure motives as possible there is still sin. Sin which reviles the shadow of the Almighty because, “I don’t want to live in anyone’s shadow.” Or, “I don’t need to hide, I’m a man.”
Which leads me to the verse I want emblazoned on everything everywhere, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Monday, September 19, 2011
Perfect for climbing or sitting at its base and thinking. I’ve been finding myself there often lately. It’s a true statement to say the tree has seen me cry more than most people. It’s also seen me laugh a whole dang lot (my mind is kinda odd… if you didn’t already catch that little factoid).
Which brings me to my point. Suffering or pain or misunderstanding whatever vocabulary you’d like to chuck its way. And on top of it joy, ‘cause I think joy is misunderstood to mean happiness. But I don’t think joy means feeling happy, no; I don’t believe that by any stretch of the imagination.
What I mean is this: In the midst of misunderstanding the circumstances I am in complete understanding (and more than that, believing) the reality of the gospel. So in loss recognizing the vast gain found on the treasure of the gospel. Or in pain realizing the comfort found in the refuge of Jesus.
Joy is understanding your eternity is secure. Not as seeing your circumstances as painful. Oh though they might be more painful than you’ve ever felt before, and all the crushing weight of fear and the unknown come washing over you like some torrent of needles… Joy is planted in the heart so firmly so as to be the roots of faith.
But these lyrics ring true, “Soon shall close the earthly mission, swift shall pass thy pilgrim days, hope soon change to glad fruition, faith to sight, and prayer to praise.”
Bare and laid out,
Everything inside us is filthy and tainted by the profusion of our sinful hearts.
We’re unable and dispassionate,
Shattered by the fall we need you.
We need you to be Creator,
To create new hearts within us;
We need you to Promise,
To covenant with us;
We need you to be Listener,
To hear the cries of our affliction;
We need you to be Priest,
To perform our religion;
We need you to be King,
To reign in our hearts;
We need you to be Prophet,
To declare your Truth;
We need you to be the God-Man,
To bear our penalty;
We need you to be crucified,
To bear your wrath;
We need you to live,
To be our intercessor;
We need you to be Avenger,
To conquer our enemies;
We need you to be Warrior,
To slay our adversaries,
We need you to be our God;
This is what we will need forever and always.
More than self-help, self-awareness, self-efficacy, self-pity, self-confidence, self-glory, or any other hyphenated self-word you can toss out,
We need God to be God.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Their very redemption was at hand. The stones could feel their purpose riding by; knowing their groaning had been heard by their maker & they were soon to be remade. Renewal from corruption; freedom from sins; the curse turned upon it's head and the world to be right once more.
It is the same for those who've heard their Master's call. The once stone hearts have become living flesh and are singing the glories of their King. The very stones are crying out in adoration to the Redeemer.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
This verse has been popping up in my little brain for the past 3 weeks like clockwork (and no that clockwork is not orange). It’s simple enough, right? I mean, Paul gives 5 statements, how hard can that be to understand? Let’s take ‘em in stride.
“Be watchful…” It’s Paul, so let’s assume he's speaking of being watchful for the return of Jesus as well as being vigilant against wolves seeking to lead people away from Jesus. Yet at the same time seeing your own heart for what it is and knowing the necessary antidote is nothing more or less than Jesus. You must be watchful in all things (and by all I really mean all).
“… Stand firm in the faith…” Not wavering with every turn of your heart or gust in the relevant theological trends. Believing so boldly and so soundly in your mind and heart so as to understand Martin Luther’s words of, “sin boldly.” Seeking above all things the truth of Scripture and wisdom of the Lord.
“… Act like men…” Yes. Not a boy who is being rebuked and thus cowers with his head hung low not looking into the eyes of the rebuke. Not a boy who would rather have momentary gratification than protect and lead a family. Not the pansy who thinks working out more and having more sex and drinking more than anyone else makes him more "manly." Act like men. (Eph. 5:25-33; I Tim. 6:11-21; Titus; I Peter 3:7)
“… Be Strong.” Be strong for the weaker vessel. Be able to protect the one in need of protecting. Be strong in the faith for your family and friends. Be strong in the Lord because he has made you that way for his own glory. Not weak of mind, but strong; not weak of spirit, but strong; not weak of heart, but strong.
“Let all that you do be done in love.” Again, I’m fairly sure that, “all,” here means – ALL. Paying the bills, doing the laundry, speaking with that annoying person, let all that you do be done in love. I would dare to say there is nothing more powerful or dangerous than love. It is thus understandable for God to command us to, “Love the Lord with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matt. 22:37)
Simple enough, right? Only by the grace of God purchased at the cross of Christ will our sinful hearts be able to do any of these. Only by Jesus are we made free. Free from cowardice, weakness, apathy, faithlessness, and blindness. So, you see, we don't just need to act better, we need to be born again.
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
“Still He blesses those on whom he sets his love in a way that humbles them, so that all the glory may be his alone. Still he hates the sins of his people, and uses all kinds of inward and outward pains and grief’s to wean their hearts from compromise and disobedience. Still he seeks the fellowship of his people, and sends them both sorrows and joys in order to detach their love from other things and attach it to himself. Still he teaches believers to value his promised gifts by making them wait for those gifts, and compelling them to pray persistently for them, before he bestows them. So we read of God dealing with his people in the Scripture record, and so he deals with them still. His aims and principles of action remain consistent; he does not at any time act out of character. Our ways, we know, are pathetically inconsistent-but not God’s.”
Again, "Still he seeks the fellowship of his people, and sends them both sorrows and joys in order to detach their love from other things and attach it to himself."
May it be his merciful grace for us to understand this within out heart of hearts.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Often these things become our focus, our aim and our goal. To succeed in the arena of job or school becomes a higher dream than knowing God.
We are broken, this is true, we are shattered by the fall but we are not helpless. We are, as faith (singular not plural) so dictates, rescued by the Rescuer.
Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law so that we are now capable to seeing our jobs as fuel for his glory; our schooling is now instrumental to our callings.
So go, work your job; strive to pay attention in your classes. Because the King sits on his throne and the Redeemer of your souls has covered you with grace so your guilt and your shame are no longer you. Who you are, the real you (as a believer in the gospel), is the finished work of Jesus. You are righteous because he has made you so. You stand before the throne of God above with a strong and perfect plea and it is Jesus.
Friday, September 9, 2011
For many they “cannot help but believe,” which for agnostics and atheists alike drives them nuts (and reasonably so). For some they must search out meanings and swim in the fathoms of the ocean of belief before they’re saturated to the heart with it. For others, they simply can’t believe.
“… If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom 9:9)” It is indeed astoundingly simple, this process of belief. Yet the complexities of it will resonate through the believer’s life until their death, and even then their eternity will be and already is being shaped by it.
“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. (Isa 45:22)” Turn, some translations say ‘look,’ and be saved. What is more easy than looking? Yet what is more difficult than dying to self?
Astoundingly simply, yes - O my God yes - to believe my wretchedness redeemed is astoundingly simple (because I long to believe it). Infinitely complex, very much so, for why should God redeem my wretchedness? How do I die to myself? How do I see Jesus as more worthy of all of me than my stuff? (I’m sure the questions would fill this journal if I were to keep writing them, for infinitely means unending).
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Really the idea came up ages ago from an old Youth Pastor, it was the first thing he told me when I conveyed my desire of being a pastor to him. He said, “Are you alright with being alone?” At the time I didn’t get it (quite actually, I still don’t think I get it.), but now it makes a little more since.
I don’t think he meant physically alone. Like, “Are you ok with being by yourself.” Nor do I think he meant it in the terms of the lonely-leadership syndrome. I really think he meant it like I mean it now to say, “Are you ok with being alone with God?”
You see that’s the issue. We’re not alone, there’s an omnipresent God around. But we’re not ‘ok’ with being just with him. Is this wrong? To some degree it is. When we’re constantly running from thing to thing trying to never be alone, then yes, yes this is wrong. But when the silence of the absence of others washes over us and we are alone with the Creator of the universe – that’s probably one of the best things to be doing.
So, here it stands, the question at the end of my thinking, “Why am I not alright with being alone with God?” The answers are long and various, but the simple fact-of-the-matter is this: my sin can’t stand him. Thus, it’s back to Jesus my saving Lord. Who makes me capable of knowing I need this omnipresent God and not merely that but causing me to feel love toward this ever-present Father.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
As believers we shy away from the fact of spiritual warfare. Our Christian “Society” brands people “weird” for seeing or feeling or fighting the demonic - but it’s what we’re told we'll fight, not flesh and blood but rulers and principalities of this present darkness (Eph 6:12).
I don’t think everything the believer fights is demonic, nor do I think that there is a demon behind every problem, but I do think when the believer is believing but is still fighting with all their might there is a spiritual battle occurring.
You might know this feeling. When you believe that Jesus is your only hope, but still feel as though the ground is falling out from under your feet. When you say, “I believe, help my unbelief,” and you mean it with every fiber of your tiny being yet still feel your weakness more than his strength.
However, what must be remembered are these light and momentary afflictions; these struggles against the spiritual and the physical; these duel wars of treachery and weakness are preparing for us a glory which cannot be imagined in our baseness.
The serpent’s teeth are gone. The demonic forces – which are real -- have no lasting power. We, you and I dear believer, are to be fighting one fight from now until we’re called home or our King returns: Believe Jesus to be your only hope.
Friday, September 2, 2011
Maybe I’m just less found than I guessed I was. Thinking I knew the path before me but never having seen or tread it before. Remembering the previous dark part of the forest and thinking this one so similar as to be one with the last.
Perhaps this is where I’m supposed to be. Returning to a familiar lesson to learn it again (kinda like my experience with Algebra). Or maybe he thinks it best I have my doctoral dissertation written on this field of study so as to be of maximum help to others.
Whatever the reason I am back to the same place and the trees look so very familiar and the undergrowth is becoming broken down in the path for either I’ve walked it time and time again or he has prepared a way for me.
Learn your lessons well and look to lean on the Lord the teacher of your soul. Because the pupil needs to be guided by the hand at times for the want in his heart is be waylaid by the tempting sight of a far off mountain. Yet he must press on towards the lofty goal set before him, though he often losses sight of it in the trees.