Posts Tagged: Christ

God’s Gym: Working Out Depression

 

Suicide doesn’t water down my faith with

flowery prose about God.

I take my doubts to the mat and wrestle

with who I believe Him to be.

Depression is the resistance between

my will and Yours being done.

Sacrifice, daily dripping with sweat,

works out belief on the gym floor of reality.

 Muscles cry out at the strain of discipline.

But still you coach me beyond what

I think I can reach. “Just one more breath!”

Shaping and toning my soul into your image.

Turning heads with a foxy endurance

that is not of this world!

Dogged by Cynisim: Loving People More Deeply

John 15 The Message (MSG)

11-15 “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.

While cooling down after biking yesterday, I met a man walking his dog. When I asked to pet the dog, he explained that the dog was a police dog and he was unsure how he would react. He told me about the dog, clearly sharing his love for the animal. His current belief is that dogs are so much better than humans because they don’t lie to you, or let you down. A thinking, at one time, I would have agreed with.

Today I met him again and told him I had been thinking about what he had said. I made it clear that I understood being let down, but I’ve also discovered that people are worth the risk. He acknowledge that he had grown cynical. Again I relate, because I struggle with this temptation on a daily basis.

I catch cynicism in my impatience with Brian and the kids, judgmentalness creeps in when I see the world hurting each other like I’ve been hurt. I expect more pain rather than more goodness. The wall, I thought torn down in my 20’s, becomes surprisingly solid when I feel vulnerable. But, brick by brick, Christ bore the weight of every wall, our cynicism and our brokenness! He declared from the cross: YOU ARE WORTH REDEEMING! God showed me last night that dogs have to be trained and sent in to rescue people from burning buildings; people  choose to go into burning buildings to save.

God chose to save us cynics. Yes I have been let down by people, but if Christ chose twelve rough-around-the-edges men as his core group and came to call them friends, people are worth risk loving.

Promotion: Crossing the Line of What Ifs

2 Corinthians 3:2 You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.…

Ephesians 4:10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) 11And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;…

Completion opens the door for promotion, but it also opens us to rejection. Much of my struggle with depression has stemmed from a desire to say just the right thing and do just the right thing, to please others. And, at the first sign of displeasure, I quit. I bought the lie that the incomplete was safer than risking completion, and therefore, further rejection.

But, in this world rejection is guaranteed. Jesus had more followers leave him, than stick with him! (John 6:67) Just ask Dr. Zeus or Picasso if completion resulted in rejection from man. History is replete with man’s rejection. By not completing what God assigns us to do, we attempt to control the what ifs and disappointments of life. God has brought me into repentance and realization that Jesus, for the joy set before him, completed the cross! How can I not also do the same? God expands our tent as we are faithful. Through completion we draw clearer conclusions about life and base further action on the reality of our beliefs.

I believe that God’s power surges through my writing. His word will not go out and come back void, no matter how imperfect I am. Risking publication, putting these blog posts into a book form to encourage and help a wider audience, who may be grieving and struggling with depression, is scary. I printed out the first draft of the daily devotionals, just before our trip to Texas, and it was like a line drawn in the sand was crossed. I am, heart pounding, deeper into enemy territory than I have ever been before. There is no longer any question that I am a “letter writer”, bolder and more skilled in the gospel message through written form, rather than public speaking. Words open my eyes wider to God, delighting in discovery of his truth, and more resolved in purpose. I’ve shared my journey with you for almost two years, crossing the line of private thought, to encourage you publicly . . . but to reach farther? How can I not share his love and presence through writing?

God has uniquely gifted each of us to share the gospel. Lay claim, in obedience to His will, to His complete work revealed through you.

The Juxtapositions of Christ

I dance where there is no music,
I sing when there is no song,
I cry out when there are no words, and
I am silent when the world is shouting out!
I heal when there is no medicine,
I carry your burdens when others put them down,
I love when others hate me, and
I forgive when I should keep a record of wrongs.
I live when death surrounds me, and
I die to self to preserve your life.

 

(Poem written in the early days of grief)

 

I Have Never Been Stranded on Mars, but if I were . . .

“At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem and you solve the next one, and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home.” –Mark Watney (The Martian)

I have had a multitude of troubles thrown my way, but I can honestly say, I have never been stranded on Mars. In the early days after Jonathan’s death a friend asked, “How are you doing this? How are you able to function?”

My answer, “I’m not.”

I knew several things almost instantly the day Jonathan died.

  1. This was hell on earth.
  2. I could not stand in this furnace alone.
  3. I would grieve with hope.

Galatians 2:20I have been crucified with Christ; and 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 up for me.”

I live, because Christ lives. The more I am crucified with Christ, my fleshly desire to have Jonathan alive dies. So many of us do not get over losing our children because it is a way of keeping them alive in our minds. God does not say, “Just get over it.” He mourns with us! At the same time he invites us to the realization that God will be glorified. We cannot stare longingly at the grave of our past and expect to resurrect what is not within God’s will. We must keep our eyes fixed upon the cross if we want to live.

I wrestle with this aspect of God’s character, but I also know he did not spare his own son. When Jesus started talking to the followers about “eating his flesh”, many walked away. (John 6:53) This is a hard teaching! Will I leave Jesus because I cannot fully get my mind around what he is asking of me? No! Who else in this world has changed my life. Who else has loved me like you? You are the Christ and my salvation is in you alone.

I am finding that the cross is the juxtaposition of Christ! Opposites collide on the cross– life and death, pain and pleasure, law and grace, sin and holiness, shame and glory. On the cross Jesus understands, both my deepest sorrow, and the heights of his fathers glory. And as I die my spirit is revealed more and more. I pray that I too, one day, can fully state. “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” I don’t have to scramble, alone, to solve enough problems to get home. Christ already solved them for me on the cross. I’m already home!

 

Good morning Lord

Matthew 25:20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’

Father, I raise my hands to you. Thank you for Daniel and Natalie who fill our house with laughter and adventure. What a precious gift my hard working husband is; teach me to bless and treasure him as you desire to bless him. I praise you for my many sisters and brothers in Christ. Truly I am never alone!

Open my eyes to heaven, that I may more clearly see your mighty acts poured over the earth. Strengthen my body so that I can serve you without reserve. Help me to get to know the spirit that you have placed in me and equip me to fight despair, lifting others out of the pit as you have lifted me! Father, it is your will that none perish and I come into agreement with your will.

You have gifted writing to me! I return the gift to you like the servant entrusted with five precious talents. May my delight in glorifying you increase! Amen.

Would You Walk Through The Door?

Philippians1:29For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

 

You stand in a room filled with doors. Each one opens to a path you could take, but only one leads to the salvation of many people. If you walk through that door you will experience depression, betrayal, abuse, overwhelming loss, constant stress, persecution and die an early death. Would you walk through the door?

Let me know your thoughts.

 

Repentence Leads to Paradise

Luke 23:39-43One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41“And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” 43And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”…

“Christians are forever being asked to forgive, but there seems to be little emphasis on responsibility and repentance.” my friend contemplated today.

The criminal on the cross shows us what true repentance looks like.

  • Fear God
  • Acknowledge our guilt and Christ’s innocence
  • Accept punishment as just
  • Believe that Jesus is the son of God
  • Godly sorrow

The result of true repentance is that we are with Him in Paradise!

Many of us have claimed that we are a slave to no one. Jesus would respond:

John 8:34-35, 44- “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35“The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.”

44You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies 45But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.

On the flip side unrepentance looks like:

  • Fear man, but not God
  • Slave to sin
  • Inflate our righteousness and deflate our guilt
  • Worldly sorrow (sorrow that never leads to repentance)
  • Constantly demand proof from Christ
  • Do not believe the truth Jesus speaks into our lives
  • Follow Satan

There are no fence sitters. Faith is not dependent upon our parents faith or lack of faith. We must chose independently . . . will I go on cursing God and die in my sins, or will I accept that I am a sinner saved alone by his grace. One way or the other we are called to account for our actions. In this life or in death. Yes, forgiving others must be a part of our daily actions; Christ forgave the world because they did not know what they were doing, even as they crucified the Son of God. But, he also lay the ground work of repentance right up to the cross. Many believed as Jesus was being crucified! Like the criminal on the cross they saw the stark difference between themselves and the innocent lamb hanging on the cross.

It is hard for me to write that we either follow Christ or we follow Satan. I want to believe that mankind is naturally good. But in my own original repentance, the truth of Christ’s statements to those who were about to murder him, made me painfully aware of the gap between my guilt and Christ’s innocence. I was following Satan and despising Christ. It is in that uncomfortable place I was offered the free gift of Paradise– truth that daily transitions me from building my kingdom to delighting in His.

Forgiveness and calling to repentance are both necessary for head turning transformation. Some  will reject and some will embrace forgiveness and repentance, but both are necessary to accomplish Jesus’ work of salvation in us.

 

The Frangrence of Triumph

2 Corinthians 2:14But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;…

As I grieve I want to wear the perfume of triumph! It comes from knowing who God is, trusting what he is doing and believing he will reveal his truth through us. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary explains that those who won battles were doused in sweet fragrances. My fragrance should be Christ because he is the source of my victories. I have had many! To claim victory we have to remember His faithfulness.

  • He chose me
  • Plucked me out from despair
  • Equipped me with scripture to fight the devil’s schemes
  • Made me a prayer warrior
  • Caused me to delight in others
  • Gave me a desire to share his love
  • Crushed the enemy’s attempts to destroy me through abuse and fear!!!
  • Defeated the grave long before I had to place my son in it

 

Too often I wear the scent of death. My circumstances are complicated and constant, but God is faithful to give abundant life. I see his hand so clearly, yet I turn my eyes to what isn’t and begin to act like God is not enough for me.

Today I allow you, Father, to wash away my sorrow. Lord, infuse me with the scent of understanding your ways. Discipline my brokenness. May my life become a beautiful fragrance of glory in the midst of a world filled with the dank scent of despair.

Fireworks on Easter!: Celebrating Our Freedom in Christ

Galatians 5:1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

“We should have fireworks on Easter!” A friend declared as we discussed Colossians on Sunday. We all laughed, but she is right. Christians have a freedom given to us that no law, no country, no philosophy and no religion can ever take from us. That is something to celebrate! Even if the United States were to crumble and our ‘Independence Day” be no more, our freedom comes from a cross and our God sacrificing himself for us so that we no longer have to live under the tyranny of sin.

So the question is, do we live in that freedom? Can you imagine any slave, once given their freedom, choosing to go back to that slavery? Yet we Christians do it all of the time. If Paul is having to tell the Galatians to live in the freedom, chances are good they were choosing to go back into the yoke of slavery. In this passage Paul mentions circumcision (belief that the law through circumcision saves us), sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, and orgies. The church is fresh from the resurrection and is choosing to return to things had enslaved them before their salvation. And the church of today is just as susceptible to returning to slavery. The rate of divorce is just as high in Christian marriages as it is in secular. The church is filled with back biting, grudges, idols, strife, jealousy, sexual immorality, fits of anger, dissensions, divisions etc. How in the world can we model freedom of Christ to an unbeliever if we keep returning to it when we don’t think God is meeting our desires?

This week I came face to face with some of my own slavery. I sat there cross armed and anger boiling inside me. The person across from me was revealing to me some idols she saw me worshiping. I’ve got news for you, idols aren’t just statues we place on our mantle. They are anything that we place above God, and anything that we are willing to sin to achieve.

For me, one idol is that I can somehow keep my two little ones safe. On the surface it is a good desire, but if I’m willing to sin to meet these desires then I’m not living in the freedom of the cross. At the core I don’t think God is capable of keeping them safe so I attempt to be God for them. Beneath every motive for sin is a belief that God will not meet my needs and desires.

Another idol lay hidden beneath the statement “no one will ever hurt me again”. One of the characteristics of Christ that I wrestle to accept and emulate— he didn’t fight back. He was spit upon, falsely accused and did not defend himself. This is a major strong hold for me. I keep having the same conflict over and over because self-preservation is my idol. “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:25)

I don’t have to live chained to idols. I can have freedom by keeping in step with the fruits of the Spirit.

The fruits of the Spirit (freedom) are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. That deserves some fireworks!

Freedom scriptures:

Romans 8:21

1 Corinthians 7:21

2 Corinthians 3:17

Galatians 5:13

Ephesians 3:12

James 1:25

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