Jesus restores what’s broken, but He doesn’t overlook our pain. And I love that about Him.
When Jesus appeared to the disciples after the resurrection, the scars from his wounds were still visible on His hands and His side. he didn’t make them disappear. he didn’t make it seem as if the brutality that He had just gone through had never happened. he could have. he could have made His scars disappear quicker than Jacob the Werewolf can heal his mutant body. He can heal anything absolutely and completely. But instead, He chose to let the scars remain.
I have scars that remain. I have one on my chin. I let a boy I had a crush on convince me to ski a black with moguls on my very first day skiing when I was in the 7th grade. It didn’t end well.
I have scars that people can’t see too. I have scars from school, where I never felt accepted by the people in my class. Always there, but never visible.
I have scars from the hurtful words I was told by family members that said they loved me.
I have scars from things I’ve looked at, thought, said, or done.
And while I can ask for forgiveness from God, myself, or others, sometimes those scars remain. they don’t just disappear.
And while so much of Christianity is about God forgiving and choosing not to remember, i still remember. i still know that what happened, happened. That’s why I love that when Jesus appeared to His disciples, He still had scars. he still had nailprints on His wrists. he still had a wounded side. He hadn’t forgotten.
But those were no longer about what happened. Those wounds meant something else. Those wounds meant that Jesus’ death had restored a relationship between us and God. Those wounds meant that Jesus understood brokenness, pain, and heartache.
While His scars were still there, they no longer meant that they were the end of the story. Those wounds were part of the story. Easter isn’t just about the cross; its about the empty tomb. Jesus overcame His scars. And He helps us do the same.
Like Jesus, my wounds no longer have to be my story-they can be part of my story. I can remember them, but they don’t define me. They were real and they happened and I’m not going to dismiss them. but God restores so that they’re not my entire story – they’re just part of my story.
My God is a God who restores and heals, and there’s more to me than my scars.
I sit here with a strange feeling tonight..an empty feeling..a feeling that I have never had after a tv show. I graduated from seminary in May 2008. The next week, I began a journey through a TV series that would be like none other. For the 3 months of that summer, me and 2 friends watched 4 seasons of Lost. My every thought that summer was Lost..I was scared “the others” would jump out of the bushes in front of my house in Highland Park. Lost was everything. Then came season 5, then season 6 – the last season. Once a week, the past 2 Springs, I have watched Lost. Then ran home and read blogs, listened to podcasts, read articles…I studied for a tv show! What was this thing I was watching? This year, Lost Talk at the YL office on Wednesday at 10:15 am – time to process, think and discuss. Dorks, yes I know.
Then tonight happened. The end. 4.5 hours of Lost. Now, Jimmy Kimmel talking about Lost. The finale, it’s over. 6 seasons, 6 years, hours of studying, processing, discussing, missed sleep because of thinking and wondering, 6 seasons of confusion = right now. And I am left now with an empty strange feeling…because this world will never satisfy.
It’s a feeling like I have after all the wonderful Christmas presents that costs hundreds or thousands of dollars have been unwrapped and you think, “Is this it?” The things of this world will never satisfy. There is a longing and a desire and a deep knowing that there is more to this life. Its like what Solomon says after acquiring all the world has to offer and says that it is all meaning less.
Is Lost bad? No! By any means! This tv show has been wonderful! But it is a strange feeling to have after a tv show is over.
Paralleled with boys – they will never ultimately satisfy. I long for love. But when I find out a boy that I am close to (or so I thought), is visiting my state but didn’t tell me about it, I hurt. May 11 – I talked to this boy and at the end of our discussion, knew I needed to write him off in my heart. And I did, or so I thought. But then I find out he is in my state but he didn’t tell me..even though I asked him about coming here when we last talked and he said it didn’t look like he was coming. That was 2 weeks ago..maybe he bought a last-minute ticket, i don’t know. But it just hurts that I wasn’t even important enough for him to even tell me about it. So again, this world doesn’t satisfy. Boys, tv shows, books they all leave me with an empty feeling when they are over…
There is only 1 thing that can fill me completely. The Lord is all that will ever completely satisfy. Why do I consistently try to pour myself into other things while knowing they will not ultimately satisfy me? Will I ever learn or will I always be looking for the things of this world to fill me? Lord, take my heart and make it yours!
In high school, the pastor at my church had an affair. In college, one of my ministry teachers was on a medical sabbatical at one point because of extreme depression. In grad school, the pastor of my church stepped down because he was addicted to medication. A friend’s dad who is in ministry has an affair. Another friend’s mom who is married to a man in ministry, leaves her husband for an old crack head boyfriend. My ministry mentor turns out to be a child molester. And now, my beloved pastor has brain cancer.
The manifestation is extreme. Whether any of these things are the act of the free will of man, or ordained by God, they are all a manifestation of sin. Oh how extensive sin is in this world! My heart breaks when I see the sufferings of my precious middle schoolers, as they chase after this world and the temporary enticements of it that seem so so important but in reality mean so very little. The enticements of this world are ever growing. Everything around us seems so so good, so easily attained and so worth everything it takes to get it. Living in the middle of a very rich city makes this especially hard. I live in the midst of an environment of people who make a lot of money, live in nice expensive (and sometimes HUGE) places, travel, drive nice cars and always dress really cute. While non of these things are in themselves wrong, they shift focus. As rebellious stubborn people, we are always striving for more in this world. Sin manifestes itself in this city just in shifting our minds away from the grace of God and to ourselves and how we can make more of ourselves in this world we live in.
But ministry…My heart breaks when I hear of ministry leaders who fall and lead others astray from the Gospel and especially breaks when I know and love these people who are broken by sin. My heart breaks for the 28 year old mom with 3 young children who’s husband who is my very dynamic pastor diagnosid with brain cancer. Or..the young mother of a precious 4 year old daughter who’s husband was discovered to have been living a lie for the last 10 years and is a child molester. All these people who are affected by the manifestations of sin. All of the tragedies of life are rooted in sin.
Sin is horrific..it is absolutely grotesque to the sight of God. These stories are just examples of who sin is playing out in our world. It is destroying everything. Brain tumors exist because of our rebellion against God. Sin is working its way to steal, kill and destroy. And my thoughts when I hear these things? I hurt, I am angry, I don’t understand. I want to turn to someone and just ask “why?” but I am scared to. Every ministry leader in my life has fallen in some way and I am scared to trust another. Jesus…I must make more of Jesus. Do I really really believe it? Do I really believe that Jesus will make more of him self through the sin in this world. That as my friend and pastor suffers through the horrible disease of brain cancer, do I really believe that more of Jesus is being glorified through it as he suffers well? Jesus came to save us from this sin, that is moving to destroy us. He came to save us from sinners and also to point us to a future glory – there is coming a day, a joy set before us, that Jesus has promised that he is coming to make all things new. He is coming to save us from this world that is groaning from the sufferings of sin.
And now, as we live in this sin manifested world? Its a battle, a spiritual battle…As I am in my 2nd year of full time ministry, I am already weary from the effects of sin, and my life is just beginning..Ministers in this world are the hardest hit, they are the ones Satan targets to bring down with sin. Its a battle. I want to get married, I want to love, to be loved, to have children, to raise them in the ways of the Lord, and to minister and disciple youth in this world..But I will admit I am a little scared. It won’t be easy by any means. I will always be hit on all sides..pain and sufferings will always be a part of my world. Because its a battle..and I choose to head face first into this battle because its worth the fight. I know the end of the battle. Jesus wins, sin is destroyed. This is the faith we walk in. That Jesus Christ’s coming floods us with hope and arms us with such a degree that no longer do we have to deal with sin, but sin has to deal with us. Death doesn’t have any sting anymore, I know how it ends. And so, I live in this way now. And so, as I hang my head and cry in the face of the pain of sin today, I cry out for the Lord. Come Lord Jesus, Come!
Soon and Very Soon – Hillsong United
Soon and very soon
My King is coming
Robed in righteousness
And crowned with love
When I see Him, I shall be made like Him
Soon and very soon
Soon and very soon
I’ll be going to the place He has prepared for me
Then my sin erased, my shameful garden
Soon and very soon
I will be with the One I love
With unveiled face I’ll see Him
There my soul with be satisfied
Soon and very soon
Soon and very soon
See the procession
The angels and the elders round the thrown
At His feet I lay
My grant, my wishing
Soon and very soon
I will be with the One I love
With unveiled face I’ll see Him
There my soul with be satisfied
Soon and very soon
Though I have not seen Him
My heart knows Him well
Jesus Christ the Lamb, the Lord of heaven
I will be with the One I love
With unveiled face I’ll see Him
There my soul with be satisfied
Soon and very soon
Soon and very soon
Soon and very soon
Came across this this morning on Lauren Chandler’s blog…thought it was a great reminder for us. As I think of the craziness of this sin-polluted world that Charles Spurgeon talks about here, my heart is burdened. Spurgeon puts into words the many feelings I have so far about Winter..Winter has only been here a few weeks, but it has been a hard season..so much that burdens the heart. I pray that He remains the source of my warmth this season!
Morning + Evening by C.H. Spurgeon–
December 1, Morning:
“Thou hast made summer and winter.”–Psalm 74:17
My soul begin this wintry month with thy God. The cold snows and the piercing winds all remind thee that He keeps His covenant with day and night, and tend to assure thee that He will also keep that glorious covenant which He has made with thee in the person of Christ Jesus. He who is true to His Word in the revolutions of the seasons of this poor sin-polluted world, will not prove unfaithful in His dealings with His own well-beloved Son.
Winter in the soul is by no means a comfortable season, and if it be upon thee just now it will be very painful to thee: but there is this comfort, namely, that the Lord makes it. He sends the sharp blasts of adversity to nip the buds of expectation: He scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes over the once verdant meadows of our joy: He casteth forth His ice like morsels freezing the streams of our delight. He does it all, He is the great Winter King, and rules in the realms of frost, and therefore thou canst not murmur. Losses, crosses, heaviness, sickness, poverty, and a thousand other ills, are of the Lord’s sending, and come to us with wise design. Frosts kill noxious insects, and put a bound to raging diseases; they break up the clods, and sweeten the soul. O that such good results would always follow our winters of affliction!How we prize the fire just now! how pleasant is its cheerful glow!
Let us in the same manner prize our Lord, who is the constant source of warmth and comfort in every time of trouble. Let us draw nigh to Him, and in Him find joy and peace in believing. Let us wrap ourselves in the warm garments of His promises, and go forth to labours which befit the season, for it were ill to be as the sluggard who will not plough by reason of the cold; for he shall beg in summer and have nothing.
Somewhere around 1987 I was old enough to venture out on my own and have some fun. As a child, I had the perfect idealistic childhood. I have great memories of riding my bike all around the small town we lived in, knowing everyone in town, even being able to “charge” my ice cream at a resturant to my dad with no questions at all. I loved that part, I felt so grown up. My dad was a farmer back in that day and I would go to work with him, riding the tractor, playing in the cotton trailer, hide n seek in the corn rows…I loved the small town; both of my sets of grandparents lived maybe 2 miles away, all my friends lived on my block, we played tons of sports together, had great summers, had tons of fun and our only rule was to be home by the time the streetlights came on. Small town life was wonderful in 1987ish.
At a very very childlike faith, I asked Jesus into my heart at the age of 6. At that time, I wasn’t really sure what was going on except I knew I was a sinner and needed a Savior to clean my heart. I do not remember that exact moment, but I do remember times after that. I remember sitting with my friend Monica and talking about how I wanted to go tell all the world about Jesus. Even though I had never gone much farther than the banks of the Gulf of Mexico in Destin Florida at that point in my life, I knew there was a world out there that desperately needed to know the story that I heard at such a young age and I wanted to be the person that went and told them.
I loved to read even then. I would read anything that I could get my hands on. I loved to read, to learn, to imagine this world. I loved to draw my imaginations and write stories about other people’s lives. I feel as if I lived in a dream world a lot of the time…all of my life I knew there was more to life, more to this world than I knew and I wanted to know it, experience it, tell others about it. More, I always wanted more.
Church at this time was nothing more than something you did on Sunday mornings. In my mind, Church was a place you dressed up for, looked nice, put on the face of “Everything in my life is great”, and went every Sunday morning from 9:30 -12. If the preacher preached longer than 12:00, people got mad. That was church, the place you went and really I didn’t see “church” anywhere else. I didn’t see much joy in “church.” The older I grew, the more boring it got, boring and judgemental. I saw the other poeple my age who were in church on Sundays but who were drunk the night before but then I heard that if you drank you went to Hell. I didn’t know what to think about church. It was something I knew I needed to go to, but something that was not interesting and I didn’t trust the people that were in the building with me. They all seemed fake. More..I knew there had to be more to the church thing..I believed the things I read in Scripture that said that Jesus is more than a place you went on Sunday morning..I knew there was more..i just didn’t know where to find it.
As I grew into my middle school years, life wasn’t as fun anymore and the small town didn’t have its same appeal that it once did. I never really completely fit in. I had friends at school, played every sport and had friends there, but most of my nights and weekends were spent alone, the older I got. Living in a small town didn’t give you the different groups to choose between, we only had 1 group at my small private school – the party group. I wasn’t allowed to hang out at the places they went and so, I was left alone a lot of the time. In middle school, everyone is trying to figure out who they are but where I grew up, there was only 1 “type” of person you could be – rich, snobby, party type girl. Maybe even a hunter or something like that. I was not that. I loved reading, music and art, sports and the outdoors. I loved to travel and adventure. I loved learning and trying new things and meeting new people. I didn’t know who I was but I knew that no one else was like me and I knew I didn’t fit in where I was. At this point of my life, I wanted to get out of small town, but for different reasons that I did as a child. I wanted to get out to a bigger places where I could find friends, people that accepted me for who I was.
As the years passed, this feeling intensified. Then in 2000, it was time for college. I wanted to go far. I applied to Duke and to the University of Tennessee but was not allowed to go out of state for school. So I picked Mississippi State University; the biggest university in Mississippi, 2.5 hours away from home, my dad’s alma matar, and also one of the best schools to go to for architecture and engineering (my interests at that time). I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do in life, my life wasn’t really focused on Jesus at that point in my life, but I knew I wanted to do something big. I wanted to excel in whatever I did. I wanted to be a Frank Lloyd Wright or Miles Van der Rohe, something to that effect. I wanted to absorb as much knowledge as I could so my first year, I took as many classes as I could. I took cal 1 and 2 in the same semester, computer programming language classes, Intro to Logic, crazy classes. I don’t know why, but I just wanted to learn, wanted to study, wanted to know. Jack of all trades in a way. Little did I know that God was slowly shaping me during this time. He was laying people in my path to point me back to Him – friends on the 5th floor of Rice Hall at MSU, RUF, Student Association and other friends in my classes. I remember talking with my friend Josh Blades, just dreaming with him. He wanted to be president of the United States (which I can still totally see him doing) and I just dreamed of being an architect in a big high rise building on like the 100th floor in NYC, looking down over the city. My sophmore year, I switched my major to graphic design and my dream just changed to a big time designer in NYC but that year, God brought my cousin to MSU. My cousin is 6 months younger than me but was a grade behind me in school. She and her twin sister were some of my best friends in high school. They lived in a town about an hour away but accepted me into their friends during those years. They don’t know how much they did for me those years. My cousin was a lot like me and we decided that we wanted to go work at a ranch in Montana or something that summer. Well, Kanakuk came to campus that year for an event called After Dark. Neither of us had ever heard of Kanakuk but we decided it sounded like fun and we would apply to work at that camp for the summer. Little did I know what God had in store for me at Kanakuk…
I went to Kanakuk the summers of 2001-2004 and God slowly shaped and changed my heart during those years. I came to Kanakuk as a very insecure baby Christian and was instantly welcomed by Will Cunningham, the camp director. I worked at KKountry, the little kids Kanakuk kamp. My first summer at Kanakuk, I met some amazing friends, was discipled for the first time in my life, learned about teaching others about Christ, and saw people on fire for Christ, a complete first in my life. I had never seen anyone excited about Christ, and willing to give their life for Him. That first summer in Branson Missouri, God started tugging on my heart and placing a burden there for kids. Every summer I went to Kanakuk, God grew that burden. The summer of 2004, I knew without a doubt I wanted to go into ministry and work with kids, teaching them about Christ, but I didn’t know what that looked like other than working at Kanakuk. So that was my dream, to work at Kanakuk. I went back to college in 2004-2005 with plans to graduate and go to the Kanakuk Institute, a seminary like program for a year that Kanakuk runs. I had never seen a church that did ministry like I envisioned (middle school focused) and all I knew was Kanakuk and KLife. I had been volunteering with Young Life during the school year but I didn’t know you could work with them. I applied for the Kanakuk Institute, but didn’t get in. There was no reason, it just wasn’t where God wanted me. So that year of school, I graduated very confused. I knew the burden God had placed on my heart, but I didn’t know how to fill it. I needed more, I wanted more than what I was seeing there in Mississippi, I just didn’t know where to go. I had only seen it in Missouri on the kampground of Kanakuk.
That summer I moved to North Carolina because some friends asked me to go with them to work. It was a hard summer. I lived in a beautiful place, on a tiny island called Hatteras Island, part of the North Carolina Outerbanks. Me and God fought a lot that summer. I did not know what to do, I had no idea where to go, what to do, and I wanted more. I wanted to be big…I had dreams of being someone like Beth Moore, but for middle school girls. I felt like the door to Kanakuk was closed, and that was all I had ever known. I wanted more than I had ever had in my life, I wanted to learn more, fit in somewhere, teach others, help steer kids out of the chaos that I had to go through, teach them about the JOY of Christ that I had never known until I went to Kanakuk. But how did I find that? I was angry that God had left me here, completely lost and confused. I felt like He was no where to be found in my life and no matter how much I tried to find him, He was silent. After the summer, I had to move back to Mississippi with my parents but the dead feeling continued. Hurricane Katrina hit, life turned upside down, then fell into a boring normalcy..I had a job as a graphic designer, and I went to church, but really? is that life? I had no one my age that lived in the town, church wasn’t anything to get involved in; i went to a bible study but it was only people my mom’s age. MORE…I craved more..I desperately desired friends, to be known, joy in life, someone to talk to, to serve others, pour into others live’s especially kid’s lives, the excitement of life that I had briefly experienced in Missouri..MORE..but where was it? My family was perfectly content in their small town life. They loved it and would even get mad when I talked about not being happy. They said there was something wrong with me, that life in a small town Mississippi was good and they loved it, there was something wrong with me if I didn’t either. But I didn’t love it, I felt trapped..I wanted MORE than small town Mississippi.
And I ended up in Dallas. It wasn’t me, it was God that put me here through a random train of events. Dallas, not a city I had ever imagined I would go to. Nashville, Charlotte and NYC were my cities, not Dallas. But I got put here. And I found it! I found the more..I found friends, I found a church that was alive. God took me to Japan, to California, Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, and Austria. He led me to seminary where I fell in love with books and theology, languages that are no longer spoken, topics that only nerds discuss and all the more. I found and fell in love with Starbucks, not necessarily the coffee, even though I do love it, I love the atmosphere and people. I found other theology loving friends here that I love to sit down and talk about some random deep theology talk till 3am, just for fun. Right now, I sit beside my friend Tom and my friend Angel is working behind the desk; various other friends are scattered throughout the room. I met them and many more about 4 years ago when I started coming here. We have built friendships, discussed lives, and I have shared Christ with each one of them. I have not pressed it on any of them, they have just asked, we have talked and we have built a friendship. I saw my friend Robert pray for the first time in his life one night here, I see God working here, I love this city because of times like that moment at West Village Starbucks. Besides my non-believing Starbucks friends that I love with all my heart, God also lead me to a church that believes wholeheartedly in community. I found friends here, good, biblical, godly friends. For the first time I have gotten to know and love godly men and women that walk beside me in my hard times and good times. They hold me accountable, grow with me, point out sin in my life, encourage me and help me in this walk with Christ. Through this, I have learned what it means to not live this life alone. I can’t imagine living it without others like these friends I have here. He then led me to Young Life, the job that I never imagined but exactly what I was looking for. I work with just middle schoolers in North Dallas and it is the joy of my life. More..I am here…..Yes, I still want more, but I feel like where I live now, it is open to me..I feel free to discover more..More..diving into Christ and finding more of Him, being willing to go wherever in this world where I can tell millions more about Him. I desire to tell the millions about Him, write a book that millions read, speak to millions, something. I do desire to be used in a big way for Him. This world is my playground and I want to go wherever He leads me to be used in whatever way He wants me to.
As I think of this more, I question..am I wrong to want more? As I write out my desires through the years, I see how I always wanted more and it seems completely ok to me. However, when I was home this past weekend, my family got mad at me several times because they say I think where I live is better than where they live. My first thought when my dad said that was, “Am I an elitest?” Am I wrong to love the place I live more than the place they live? Was it wrong for me to grow up there, be unsatisfied and always want more? An elitest – The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources. By that definition, I don’t at all think I belong in that group. In fact, I feel like I am the complete opposite. Mississippi – where racisim is high and people consider themselves better than others because of economic status or color, that is the exact opposite of what I want to be. I do pride myself in the fact that I have friends of every color, nationality, and type. I love where I live because of the freedom I have here, because of the dreams it has allowed me to find. And in my life, it is better than where I grew up. I do not want that life there, I was not happy there. I needed more.
Mississippi – a wonderful place to have a childhood and the perfect place for some people to live, work, and raise their families. But not me. I needed more of this world.
Within 3 days last week, I found out that I was not getting a raise next year, that I was being kicked out of my office, and that I was being kicked out of my house…..
What is God teaching me? Am I supposed to still be in Dallas, with Young Life? I don’t understand where all this is headed? I am nervous about this summer, and scared about next year..what do I do? God, what are you trying to show me?
found in http://www.reformationtheology.com
One of the most prevalent motifs that runs through the whole Bible is its constant reminder of the insufficiency of man. While this may seem all too obvious, we need constant reminding of this critical truth in our everyday lives. This goes for the non-Christian, because he has no hope apart from Christ’s mercy, and for the Christian who has no hope, save in Christ and Christ alone. This is not only clear in those parts of the Scripture which are propositional but also are quite pervasive in the gospel narratives. If you look closely at many of the stories associated with Christ’s earthly ministry, it becomes clear that deliverance occurred in individuals only when the they were so desperate that they came to an end of themselves and were reduced to begging, if you will. Grace works salvation in us, not as we are, but first humbles our pride revealing our natural brokenness, spiritual bankruptcy and impotence, which none of us naturally appear ready to admit. For our true condition before God is that we cannot even lift a finger toward our salvation and can bring nothing to God except that which He first gives us.
In the gospels, the first reaction to an encounter with Jesus was often a holy fear or dread when confronted with His capacity to provide that which they were insufficient to provide for themselves. When Peter was fishing all night and then in the morning commanded by our Lord to cast the net to the other side of the boat to cath fish, Peter immediately took in such a load of fish that the boat began to sink. Peter’s reaction was holy fear and a desire to get away for the Lord for in it He saw his own sinfulness.
In each of the stories on Mark 4:35-5:43 we see similar happenings:
In desperation, after the disciples woke Jesus from sleep on the turbulent sea, Jesus calmed the waves, “And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?” (Mark 4:41) Their fear of Jesus was now greater than had been their fear of the storm.
After Jesus cast the demons into the herd of swine, those who saw it ran off to report it and when others….”came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.(Mark 5:15)
There was also a woman who was bleeding for 12 years that touched Jesus garment. After being healed “…the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth.” (Mark 5:33)
Then lastly the crowd was astounded after Jesus raised the twelve year old dead girl to life. (Mark 5:42)
Take note, in each story, as in many more stories in the gospel narratives, people have come to Jesus to help solve some problem after all possible human means have been exhausted, many times after years of trying. The result was often people falling at Jesus’ feet. But the proud who failed to see their own desperate condition, had no such reaction. Jesus said, “If you were blind you would not be guilty of sin, but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” We are not quick to learn this lesson, i.e. that we are a dependent people and have nothing in ourselves and can do nothing apart from Jesus. That which we can do, we can only thank Him for. God reaches us when we find ourselves in desperation because we so often wrongly trust in our own boasted self-sufficiency. But Jesus calls us to pray always .. because prayer is a posture of looking away from ourselves for help to the only One who can provide it. The Bible uses these stories, most importantly, to exhibit our own helplessness, a situation which we human beings cannot resolve.
It seems that Jesus brings about events in our lives that will reveal our insufficiency so that we might find Him. For as long as we pridefully think all we can help ourselves (even a little), He remains hidden. But take note, it is by the grace of God we are what we are, which means that even the very humility needed to recognize the truth and excellency of Jesus does not come naturally. It is a gift of grace. When Peter acknowledged Jesus was the Son of the living God, Jesus quickly quenched any pride that might rise up in Peter by reminding him that even his very understanding of this was not revealed by flesh and blood but by His Father in heaven. This strips man of all possible hope in himself, even to understand or lift a finger toward God. Christ is awakened, as it were, when he hears us pray, for then we no longer are looking to our own resources nor think we have the ability in ourselves.
The common thread through these stories, and many like them in Scripture, is a revelation of man’s utter insufficiency. This is really the last thing the natural man wishes to hear so he suppresses this truth, but Jesus keeps reminding us that true faith can only be a humble faith. That is, a disposition of a beggar reduced to desperation which abases oneself and exalts God alone. No one can be a true believer unless they truly believe they justly deserve the wrath of God save in Christ’s mercy alone, having no confidence in the flesh. The will of the true Christian is bowed and despairs of all hope in himself – they can only find solace, peace and hope in Christ. We see the effects of grace working in a person when they come to the end of themselves and their own resources. Only as we become sensible of our own inadequacy and helplessness and our pride is mortified does it become apparent that Christ has done a work of grace us. For even the very humility to believe does not come by nature, but by grace. There is nothing more essential to true religion. The only door we can enter heaven is extremely low, such that we must crawl on our hands and knees to enter. True faith trusts God’s righteousness and excellence, not our own.
This is most clearly revealed in Jesus parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, where the Pharisee boasts of his obedience and the tax collector simply looks to the ground, beats his chest and asks for mercy on the sinner. This is our true position before God.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly,
but the haughty he knows from afar.
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:”I dwell in the high and holy place,and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,to revive the spirit of the lowly,and to revive the heart of the contrite.
But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word.
3″Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
This humility is the first essential thing pertaining to the true faith – to renounce all natural self-exaltation, and glory only in Christ.
How does this affect our preaching to unbelievers. In every way. Ichabod S. Spencer once said, “To cut off the sinner from all reliance upon himself, his merits and his powers; and throw him, naked and helpless, into the hands of the Holy Spirit to lead him to Christ in faith; should be the one great aim of the ministry.”
If a preacher (or a doctrine) nourishes a good opinion of man, he is spawning a dangerous error, for all men naturally are a god to themselves. They need little further encouragment to think even more highly of themselves. Consider this: if the carpenter working on your house tells you that your entire house is rotten and eaten through with termites, and thus must be torn down and a entirely new house buit in its place, but a second carpenter tells you that’s its ok, you don’t need to worry, that the house will probably stand and only needs a little reinforcement at minimal cost … most people would be naturally willing to listen to the later. The first carpenter’s advice is too drastic, you think, but you know the first one is right. Likewise, Christ comes to us and, in love, informs us that our natural state is rotten and and the old frame of the house must come down so that a new one can be built in its place. its devastating news. But the synergist comes in with his corrupt doctrine which enflames the pride of man by telling him that he is not as far gone as the other asserts. God merely need superadd grace to what you already have. (Gurnall) No, says Christ, “unless a seed falls to the ground and die, it remains a single seed” … and “he that would save his life must lose it.”
Yes we must pay our debts in full, but thanks be to God, Christ is our paymaster. Send your conscience and Satan to Christ and let them make a charge against Him, who is now sitting at God’s right hand incerceeding for you, to clear all your accounts.
In talking with a friend at the current moment about one of the huge points of brokenness in my life, he brought up that I am holding this thing/person as an idol. This thought had never occurred to me before, but it is something that makes total sense when I think about it. Dr. Richard Kaufmann, movement leader at Harbor Presbyterian Church led the session Preparing & Preaching a Gospel Centered Message at the Acts 29 Regional Conference. In this session, he said that there are four idols that drive most people. These are power, control, approval, and comfort.
Which one do you seek? Oh I know which one I seek. If these things can be idols, then the person I was looking to to provide this idol is also one. Can I give up this idol of desperately wanting a person to like me, to want me to be a part of their life? What about, would I give up having a person like me in order to just be free from the emotional bondage that is associated with it? I’m scared to let it go, scared that upon letting it go, it will not exist anymore…that we have already said our last goodbye.
The danger with these idols is that idols always disappoint in so many ways, and have caused extreme hurt. They are weak: They can’t deliver when you succeed; they can only raise the bar. They can’t forgive you when you fail; they can only lower the boom.
They are harmful: They hurt you spiritually, emotionally and physically. They hurt others by undermining your ability to love.
They are Grievous: Most importantly, by going after these idols/other lovers you are saying to God: “Jesus is not enough. I also need _________ in order to be happy.
This is where we need to preach the gospel to ourselves daily. Preaching the gospel to others is easy, saying we live our lives so others can see the gospel through us, yeah, i can do that..but i forget the gospel in my own life. I let the idols of this world, the things I am allowing to try to fulfill me to take control, and when they hurt instead of fulfill, i am lost.
John writes in 1 John 5:20-21: And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
John Piper says that no one ever said that they learned their deepest lessons of life, or had their sweetest encounters with God, on the sunny days.” I look to that statement and just wonder where God is going with these cloudy days. I want to write something deep and theological right now, but brokenness is overwhelming me.