Posts Tagged: christian

How Can I Keep From Singing (Reworked)

My brother reworked the hymn “How Can I Keep From Singing” to honor and remember his nephew Jonathan. It mostly draws from Unitarian and Christian versions, with a couple of lines written by my brother.

My life flows on in endless song Above earth’s lamentation.

I hear the real, though far off hymn That hails a new creation.

Above the tumult and the strife, I hear the music ringing; . . .

 

What though the tempest loudly roars, I hear the truth, it liveth.

What though the darkness round me close, Songs in the night it giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm While to that rock I’m clinging.

Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, How can I keep from singing?

 

With each new day my story grows, the pages ever turning.

And through it all I always hold This flame of hope still burning.

The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart, A fountain ever springing;

All things are mine since I am his–How can I keep from singing?

How Can I Keep From Singing Enya

 

 

Accepting the Lifeline: God’s Yoke is Light

Matthew 11:29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

If you’re a Christian and His yoke doesn’t feel light, why is that? I used to think a light yoke meant my circumstances weren’t heavy, but clearly my circumstances are extremely heavy. Our yoke becomes light when we know God’s gentleness and humility so well that the yoke is nothing in comparison. Paul touches on the difference of our earthly weight compared to the heavenly yoke, in Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. If my yoke still feels heavy, it is because I am the one still carrying the weight! I don’t know or trust God’s character; giving him full reign of my life. The yoke becomes lighter and lighter when I love Him completely and recognize his complete love for me. Have you ever been secure in that kind of love? Can we accept that he carried our burden on the cross, and therefore, find rest (relief) in the yoke of our savior.

Much of faith is getting to know our master’s character so well that we trust him implicitly. Think of it this way. We are drowning in sin, sin we are doing, and sin that someone is enacting on us. We are exhausted and God has thrown out his life line. We must choose to grab the line before we can rest and allow him to pull us to safety. Now I can keep attempting to save myself, or allow others to pull me under in their misguided attempts at saving me, or I can trust the character of God. This is so much easier when we get to know his character. We read his love note (scripture) over and over. We witness that he has rescued others, we ourselves might have thought hopeless, and we act on his character over and over. I’ll grab the lifeline of the certified swim instructor who has swum the channel! Jesus swam the channel of humanity! He tells us his yoke is light, because he wore the yoke of his father, and knows it to be true.

Observe His gentleness and humility throughout scripture. Don’t discount his love for mankind in the Old Testiment as well as the New. From the birth of creation he has loved and called you by name. We have to decide, will we take His yoke upon us? Will we accept the lifeline and rest?

 

 

Past or Present: The Finish Line is Ahead not Behind Us

Grief is not made for fence sitters. At this level it will either make or break you, there really is no in-between.. Grief reveals what you believe in your heart and then begs the question, “What are you going to do about it?” Do we define ourselves by what is taken from us or by what God has given to us?

Last night I melted down. Not because of bad things, but because through Jonathan’s death others, also deeply struggling,  are choosing life. As good and amazing as those miracles are, I found myself saying, but I want Jonathan! Natural right.

Actually those of us who believe in Jesus Christ, who are being led by the Spirit and not our nature, need to be maturing towards believing death where is your sting! Otherwise, every time I am reminded of what I have lost rather than what has been gained, I am undone, derailed–my faith unravels. For some this may sound a bit uncompassionate, but let me give you some clear examples of what I’m talking about.

Would you want a surgeon operating on you who couldn’t get past the patient he just attempted to save that didn’t make it? Or would you marry someone still pining over the boy or girlfriend that they didn’t marry? That would be miserable!

I am a miserable Christian if I am still burying my dead and not following Jesus’ example.

Philippians 3: 11that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.. . .13Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

The power of the resurrection is that what lies ahead is far greater than anything we leave behind! Like Paul I cannot claim that I have made this power central to my character yet. I have the head knowledge of this truth, but it has not penetrated my heart. The Lord has revealed (vs. 15) that heaven, and being with Jesus forever is still very abstract to me. But, Father I ask that you become my finish line! Open my eyes wide to your truth, your love and help me to mature in faith. May I become more focused on the living and celebrate with you that life is springing forth from Jonathan’s death. You are keeping your promise to me. Amen!

God Puts on the Breaks While Pride Attempts to Move Forward

Leviticus 26:19‘I will also break down your pride of power; I will also make your sky like iron and your earth like bronze. 20‘Your strength will be spent uselessly, for your land will not yield its produce and the trees of the land will not yield their fruit.

Hebrews 6:1Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God. . .

I was putting forth a whole lot of effort, but wasn’t getting anywhere fast. I am out of shape, but the ground was flat and I was on a decent bike. The breaks were malfunctioning and telling the bike to stop while my pedaling was attempting to propel me forward.  Finally the breaks locked up with a loud screeching sound and riding it was now impossible.

Do you ever find yourself exasperated at impediments and saying, “Why is life so hard?” You are putting forth a whole lot of effort in your Christian walk, your witness, your relationship with God and yet feel exhausted and fruitless. Time to check the breaks. Sometimes we are stalled because God is putting the breaks on pride. It is so easy for us to fall into the cycle (all pun intended) of pride. Thinking that we’re winning the race because of own efforts–we are all that and a bag of chips! God is a good parent, and he won’t hesitate to strip us of our medals if we are using drugs (anything but him) to enhance our ride.

Other times we are the ones putting on the breaks because we are on a faulty bike. Our upbringing, abuse, brokenness, and insecurities are constantly halting any solid progress because we are unsure of God’s character, don’t trust him, keep using worldly thinking, or just plain don’t know we are in a system that is not working. Saul (renamed by God: Paul) thought that he was killing Christians in the name of God. He was raised to think a certain way, and these people of “The Way” were, in his mind, blaspheming God. God slammed on the breaks of Saul’s forward progress on the road to Damascus, letters in hand, to preform mass killing of Christians. God slowed Paul up with blindness, and opened the eyes of his soul to Jesus “whom he persecuted.”  God put Paul on a new bike.

Mom offered to push my bike and let me try hers. With very little effort, I was practically flying down the trail. I expended so much unnecessary energy on a bike built to go, that was putting on the breaks the whole way. Our Christian walk can be much like this. We are moving forward, yes, but we are spent in the process. We are still operating in old mind sets. We are in the pew, but resisting Christ. It feels like two steps forward and a whole lot backwards. When I began taking my thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ my forward progress became easier. Christ said that we would bear much fruit when we are following him. If I am not, then it is time to check the breaks!

Depression, an Opportunity to Change the World

Read Nehemiah 2:1-3 And it came about in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, that wine was before him, and I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. 2So the king said to me, “Why is your face sad though you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of heart.” Then I was very much afraid. 3I said to the king, “Let the king live forever. Why should my face not be sad when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies desolate and its gates have been consumed by fire?”…

Speaking up about depression brings about change! Remaining silent keeps us stuck with our own limited resources. But, what do we do when we are depression spills over at work? Is it worth the risk sharing our struggle with our boss, our coworkers?

Nehemiah’s job left no room for mistakes. He was the cupbearer for Artaxerxes, a powerful king who would not have tolerated down cast servants in his court, even if they were friends. But, today when he punched his time card for work, his mind wasn’t on serving the king, it was on the ruins of Jerusalem and the king can tell something is not right. Nehemiah has just finished fasting and praying for help in the 1st chapter. Could the king be the answer to his prayer? He is afraid because his depression is now exposed to his boss. God has given him favor with the king, but is it enough?

With depression comes possibility. Things are not okay! Maybe there are legit reasons why we mourn. There is so much suffering and oppression in the world, and our depression is the chasm between our reality and how the world should be. The quicker we acknowledge our desire for relief, the sooner resources come. Certainly Nehemiah’s is down cast for good reason. Israel is in ruins and in chapter 1 he declares that it is because Israel turned their back on God. He cries out to God. He doesn’t try to dismiss his anguish, or put on a happy pretend face which might have kept him safe. He risks speaking the truth. The king gives Nehemiah charge over rebuilding the city walls and gates and even sends letters for materials to be provided. Change occurred because of Nehemiah’s depression was out in the open!

The whole world suffers from depression. Those of us who recognize things are not as they should be have an opportunity to make the world a better place. Since Adam’s fall into sin, we went from walking with God, to hiding, from enjoying the good things given to us to despising, and from satisfaction in God alone to seeking position, possessions and power to determine our worth. There is not a single human being or animal that was not affected by the curse of sin and death. Since depression is the natural state and consequence of our disobedience, what hope do we have?

Nehemiah. . .

  • Acknowledged—took note of—his reality
  • He mourned and laid out his heartache before God
  • He fasted and prayed
  • Shared his burden with his friend, the King
  • He spoke up
  • The king provided
  • He trusted God and began to rebuild

What makes us sorrowful? Depression is a good only when we allow it to motivate us towards change. I am aware that some of you who follow my blog are in daily pain physically and emotionally. There seems to be no relief from what you are experiencing. My heart aches for you. Don’t lose heart, don’t give up! Take one step today to open yourself to God’s resources. Nehemiah’s burden didn’t just appear over night, the ruins of Jerusalem were years in the making (a product of their rejecting God, and being taken captive by Babylon). I promise you that God is faithful, and I appreciate your honesty! May the exposure of our depression bring resources to rebuild our lives and those around us.

My son’s death has opened my heart wider for others who are tempted to despair. God has placed me in the unique position of experiencing abuse, suffering depression,chronic physical pain, and bearing overwhelming loss. Like Nehemiah I cannot hide my sorrow. So do I speak boldly of the need for our hopelessness to change? Yes, I may get some push back, but it is so worth speaking about suicide. Depression is a heavy weight on my spirit and I refuse to share it alone. Resources are coming! Don’t stop crying out!

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