Archives For suffering

Until Then

October 14, 2013 — Leave a comment

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brokenroadUnanswered pain won’t go unanswered forever…but it sure feels like it sometimes. Pain is a former thing that will one day pass away. Life has a way of bringing challenges into our lives that at times seem too much to endure. Aches, limitations and even permanent limitation haunt many this side of eternity. Depression that is inescapable and scarring that runs through the soul unhealed, call for many to give up…and they do.

For all the bad things pain brings…pain also acts as a signpost pointing to an end to pain forever. Pain has a small whisper calling for you to endure anyway. Pain speaks with a faint voice of courage and resourcefulness; calling us to take hold of the future that will one day be ours. Pain calls to you to help others who are going through similar pain until the pain is no more.

Revelation 21:4b stands true, “neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” You will have a new body in the age to come. You will be untouched by the things of this present age. Pain, disease and any limitations will be forever cast aside.

For now, there is a call to press on, a call to endure by the power of His grace, which is sufficient for all things and all circumstances. Paul asked the Lord three times to remove his thorn in the flesh. The answer he received from the Lord was simply this, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

Until then…

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bandaid

Wounds can produce the most amazing and beautiful testimonies for God’s glory. The story of your wounds becomes His glories story when you put them in His hands. Wounds show that we as Christ followers are being healed toward a future where wounds will be no more.

Holding on becomes easier when you know He is holding you instead of you holding on to Him. Meaning for your wounds may come, meaning for your wounds may not come, but soon and very soon you will understand- when eternity breaks in to heal the earthbound wounds of this age.

In the now, we count the times we pray for complete healing, but then, prayer will not be needed. He may heal you now, but He will certainly heal you then. Keep moving; keep believe, and keep living because He, with wounds in His hands, side and feet- lives for you. In fact, His wounds were for your ultimate healing.

Wounds that remain don’t mean that He doesn’t hear you or care for you. In fact, wounds that continue testify to the fact that He is true and alive. Jesus said in this world you would have trouble. However, He went on to say, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” We walk through the shadows now only to eventually walk into the eternal day He promised.

You were not called to conceal your pain. As C.S. Lewis once wrote, “The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “my tooth is aching” than to say “my heart is broken.”

You are a wounded healer being healed.

 

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Jesuslike

The only prophetic voice that spoke on Golgotha was from the middle cross. The man on the left cross-needed the man on the middle, and the man on the right cross-needed the man on the middle also.

The only redemptive work taking place that day was from the man in the middle. He was 100% man and 100% God. God in the middle was showing the world the only way to eternal life. Choosing the man in the middle makes you the only alternative society that has the right answer.

In a world of ugly, beauty can only be seen through the lens of the cross and what Jesus accomplished by willfully submitting to His Father’s will. Only by following the suffering of the cross can we live as sheep among the wolves of the left and right.

The only thing that will ever change the world is when His followers simply follow Him. When we choose the left we are not choosing Jesus. When we choose the right we are not choosing Jesus. Only when we choose the man in the middle do we choose the path that leads to Heaven and Earth coming together.

The cross of Christ takes away resentment and fills our hearts with hope. Down through the centuries, resentment and power have crucified many. However, resentment and power met its match the day it confronted Jesus.   Resentment and power  was confronted by love and love won forever!

Jesus took the dreadfulness and ugliness of a Roman cross and painted it with the beauty of God’s own blood so that humanity could be free from evil forever.  Freedom comes when you choose the man in the middle. Once we choose the man in the middle, we are called to a different way of living. We are no long left or right. We are now the middle. As the writer Brian Zahnd says, “We are to model what it means to be Christ-like in a Caesar-like world.”

Along with Paul, we cry out, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Gal 2:20)

unbelief

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Now that’s my kind of prayer! It’s my kind of prayer, and I venture to bet it’s your kind of prayer from time to time also. It’s not a faithless prayer. It’s a prayer that is mixed with trust and yet a hint of despair.

Despair is often the unwanted guest of an ongoing crisis. Despair somehow slips into our temple and pokes around causing us to doubt things will ever change.  Such is the case of the man in Mark 9.

His son is a demon-possessed, and he brings his son to the disciples of Jesus for deliverance. His steps of faith toward the men of God have ended in complete failure.  The disciples are not able to help his son.

The voice of despair grows stronger in his heart. He thinks to himself, “What now?” Suddenly, Jesus takes center stage. Jesus asks a few questions, and the man asks Jesus to do something. “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” I love the response of Jesus, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believers.”

Then we see the broken beauty of the moment. A man of flesh and blood has faith and yet unbelief mixed in his heart, but Jesus answers his prayer anyway. With tears, the father cries out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” It’s a prayer that bottles the request to remove the despair and fill up what is lacking in his trust.

He has seen the failure of the disciples, and it has only increased his  sense of despair and now what faith he has left seems to be quickly draining away. However, whereas the disciple didn’t have enough faith to accomplish the request, Jesus has unlimited power.

Jesus helps his unbelief and the miracle happens. Sometimes the greatest faith move you can make is to give your unbelief to Him in faith! The cries of this man’s heart have resonated with many that fight the same battle across the sands of time. He prays for relief just as he is, a doubter that needs a touch from God. Never forget; you can do the same.

 

nofaithDo you need faith for God to break into your life and do the unexpected? If you read all of Luke chapter 7, you will find the answer. Luke Chapter 7 is a beautiful portion of scripture of both faith in the heart of humanity and the absence of faith. God works in both situations.

In Luke 7:1-9 Jesus heals a Centurion’s servant. I post about it here. A short review revels that Jesus is sent for in order to heal the slave of a Centurion. As Jesus is on the way to perform the healing, the Centurion sends another word for Jesus not to even come, but to speak the words of healing only, and it will be done.

The Centurion confesses that he is not even worthy for Jesus to come under his roof. Along about verse 9 the Bible says that Jesus was blown away at that kind of faith. In other words, Jesus was astonished! That is something powerful to think about in and of itself.

However, the very next miracle begs the question, where is the faith? In the healing of the Centurion’s servant we see the faith, but here Jesus moves and does the greatest of miracles without the faith of anyone. Jesus is not tied to the faith of man. He never has been tied to the faith of man, and he never will be tied to the faith of man. It’s a beautiful paradox because on one hand without faith it is impossible to please God, and yet on the other hand he moves without any faith exercised by anyone in the crowd that day. That is simply breathtaking and beautiful to me.

The whole miracle is even more beautiful when you realize that Luke would have us to hear the future echo of the death and resurrection of Christ in the present story. Here in Luke 7:11-17 the widow and her dead son are being carried outside the gate to the burial ground to rest in death. Think ahead with me to the Jerusalem. Jesus is followed by a crowd also, and his mother, as he is on his way to death and a grave. The only difference is unlike the boy who he raised from the dead and had to die again physically, Jesus will rise to never die again. He is alive forevermore.

Put yourself in the crowd the day Jesus raised the young man from death. Professional mourners and wailers were making noise as they did in the 1st century. The mother could cry without embarrassment with those around her doing the same. The family would have been carrying spices for the body, and they would have been heading for the family cave where they would place the young man’s body.

Suddenly in the middle of all of this, a stranger and his disciple appear along side of them. Jesus walks up to the crying mother and whisper in her ear, “Do not weep.” Then he turns and touches the coffin and speaks, “Young man, I say to you, arise.”

Everyone is shocked! A miracle requiring no faith on their part has been done. They glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.” They would have been thinking of Elijah and Elisha. They found themselves standing along side God between the echoes of Eden and the cross and resurrection to come. God was with them. The resurrection and the life was standing right in the middle of death.

Now, what are you worried about today? What life problem has you worried that your faith is not strong enough to make it? Yes, faith is important. Yes, faith is a gift. Yes, faith at times can even astonish God himself. However, what about when you have no faith? Can God still move in your life? YES! Just ask the young man raised from the dead.

Let God whisper in your ear today, “Do not weep.”

 

 

 

 

suffering-suffering-for-blog

Acts 5:40-42 ESV

And when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

It has been said, “God doesn’t simply want us to feel good. He wants us to be good. And very often the road to being good involves not feeling good.”

In John 16:33 Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

We are promised tribulation. We are promised suffering. Suffering can be embraced as a wind of advancement or suffering can be embraced as a wind of retreat. The choice is yours to make. If you choose to retreat, then you will need no armor. If you choose to advance through it, then God has the power you need to do so.

In Acts 5 Peter and the apostles suffering pressed them forward and not backwards

1. They were beaten and charged to not speak in the name of Jesus anymore (A wounding of the flesh and a wounding of the spirit)

2. They rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name

3. They daily taught in the temple and from house to house, preaching Jesus

They could live through suffering because they had a view that looked higher than the suffering right in front of them. Suffering becomes beautiful when you look up, around and down and realize you are following Jesus.

The eyes of suffering see clearer when they look forward at the kingdom to come, instead of backwards at the suffering it takes to get there.

Out of the Darkness

Out of the dark forbidding soil The pure white lilies grow.

Out of the black and murky clouds, Descends the stainless snow.

Out of the crawling earth-bound worm A butterfly is born. Out of the somber shrouded night, Behold! A golden morn!

Out of the pain and stress of life, The peace of God pours down.

Out of the nails — the spear — the cross, Redemption — and a crown!

Author Unknown.

trust

Letting God into your problems is different from letting God watch your problems. Letting Him into your problems means you allow God to have control of what you are trying to run. On the other hand, letting God watch your problems is an insult to the work of the cross. He endured the cross so that you might be free in Him.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” (NASB) You and I fight against God when we try to control and win against the problems of our lives. It can’t be both ways with God when it comes to the subject of control. You can’t control and surrender control at the same time.  Either you are in control, or God is in control. One works to bring Him glory, and the other points to our own pride as the answer.

In order to have peace, the surrendering of your problems must be laid at the feet of Jesus. You must stop striving by taking your hands off the proverbial wheel of control. You long for peace and rest but you will never experience either until you give your problems to the Prince of Peace.

God loves to speak to His children, “The battle is not yours; it’s mine. You don’t have to fight in it.” You need to take the discouragement, the tiredness and the fatigue that comes along with carrying all the troubles and realize that it doesn’t depend on you. God is calling to you over and over to let Him  take control. Bless God today by giving Him the gift of your rubbish.

Turning your rubbish over to God means you must trust Him. When you don’t understand, or life seems unfair and makes remarkably little sense at all, that is a definite signpost pointing you to turn it all over to Jesus. Don’t be the person who says they trust God, but when trouble hits they run it through their own filter first. Remove the filter and let God be God in your life.

Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths”

Problems-of-Faith

Acts 5:40-42 ESV

And when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

 

It has been said, “God doesn’t simply want us to feel good. He wants us to be good. And very often the road to being good involves not feeling good.”

Suffering can be embraced as a wind of advancement OR Suffering can be embraced as a wind of retreat

In Acts 5, Peter and the apostles suffering pressed them forward and not backwards

  • They were beaten and charged not to speak in the name of Jesus anymore
  • They Rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name
  • They daily taught in the temple and from house to house, preaching Jesus

They could live through suffering because they had a view that looked higher than the suffering right in front of them.

Suffering becomes beautiful when you look up, down and around and realize you are following Jesus.

20121229-evil

I’m starting to understand more and more as I grow older the better question to trouble in the world and evil in the word is “How long?” and not “Why God?”

I’ve arrived at a place where I no longer have to have an answer for trouble; nor do I have an unquenched need to have God give me an explanation for all things wrong and evil.

Instead, I’ve learned to live in the direction of healing and correction of all the wicked and evil in the world. After all, that is what the Christ follower is called to do.

We are called to follow the Price of Peace. My prayers are prayers for God to bring an end to all the evil and turmoil. The message of the Bible is God has promised to end evil, and I just stand, walk and believe. “One day,” will become “The day” all evil ends.”

I trust in the fact that God is perfect love and has a perfect power, and yet things often look out of control and dark. However, I don’t have to look for answers to why evil. I just have to look at the answer for evils final defeat, and that answer is Christ.

I’m not called to understand the evil of this world. I’m called to be a light in it until the light of Christ and His glory floods the earth forever. I don’t have to understand evil, and I don’t have to accept evil. I’ve accepted Christ, and He alone is the undefeated King.

Christopher Wright writes, “Evil has no proper place within creation. It has no validity, no truth, no integrity. It does not intrinsically belong to the creation as God originally made it nor will it belong to creation as God will ultimately redeem it.”

Now my beloved Christ followers…go and live the light and watch as darkness slowly dies. WE WIN!

Revelation 21:1
21 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.

Feelings1

I’m empty today. There is nothing inside of me that is happy. I’m my own worse nightmare. I break promises to God all the time, and I feel there is no way He can love me knowing the thoughts of my heart.

Bitterness haunts me and broken dreams seem to be the only thing in front of me. I keep going and yet deep inside I long for another direction for my life. I question if God knows what He is doing in my life. I fail so often I’ve almost started to expect nothing less.

I wonder constantly how to be a better Father, and yet I seem to never follow through on things and time is slipping away. I desperately want to be a better husband and yet I fall short time and time again. I want to be a better pastor, but I’m confused to what all that means and I wonder if I’m just setting myself up for more disappointment.

I write these things today to show you the voices I encounter on a daily basis, but I also write to tell you more.

I’m actually not empty because He said He would always be with me. That is a promise I can count on regardless of feelings. I don’t have to always be happy because He has promised me joy by the power of His Holy Spirit. I don’t have to worry about being my own worse nightmare because He is for me. I may break promises, but He is the God of mercy and even though He sees the thoughts of my heart, He knows I’m but clay and loves me anyway.

The Bitterness that comes from broken dreams only proves He has a better plan and a better way. The longing for another direction is only a thought of momentary escape, and God knows I’m committed until the end. He is not afraid of my questioning Him because in doing so, I’m drawn closer to His heart. I might fail more often than succeed, but He is there to pick me up when everyone else has run away.

He whispers to me that being a Father is not about being perfect but about loving them and pointing them toward Him, the perfect Father of all. He encourages me to love my wife as Christ loved the church and yet knows I will fail from time to time. Again He shows me His mercy and Grace. He calls to me to remain steadfast in being a pastor and promises me that when the chief Shepherd appears, I will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Oh the beauty of following Christ! Maybe you have similar feelings about your life today? If you do have similar feelings, then welcome to the human story. If you do have similar feelings, then He knows all about them. If you do have similar feelings, then you need to know they will one day pass away forever. Until then, keep walking, keep believing for He is with you.