Friday, February 5, 2016

RECYCLING BROKEN PEOPLE


What kept the recycled Saul of Tarsus from falling into the brink when facing public humiliation, gross misunderstanding and antagonistic betrayers? How did Paul keep recovering from brutal attacks, punishments and imprisonment?




Colossians 1:
24-25 I want you to know how glad I am that it’s me sitting here in this jail and not you. There’s a lot of suffering to be entered into in this world—the kind of suffering Christ takes on. I welcome the chance to take my share in the church’s part of that suffering. When I became a servant in this church, I experienced this suffering as a sheer gift, God’s way of helping me serve you, laying out the whole truth.
26-29 This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time, but now it’s out in the open. God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory. It’s that simple. That is the substance of our Message. We preach Christ, warning people not to add to the Message. We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less. That’s what I’m working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me.
(The Message)


In the simple, earthy way that The Message reads, it is this—Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory.

No matter what happens to you, there is the comfort of God and hope of resurrection to keep you enduring. This suffering is not the intended permanent state of God’s child.

Paul realized that his own years of endurance came from acknowledging that God is generous in helping us. What he could not do in his failing strength, he could do with the grace and energy that God gave him in knowing Jesus.

Paul could afford to break, because Christ’s strength became that much more apparent in difficult conditions that exposed his weakness.

Vance Havner said,

"God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever." [1]


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

EVERYBODY HURTS


Every religion and every irreligious view must account for human suffering. Christians do not have the exclusive rights to suffering, but we do have a path through it.


Oswald Chambers said,

Suffering is the heritage of the bad, of the penitent, and of the Son of God. Each one ends in the cross. The bad thief is crucified, the penitent thief is crucified, and the Son of God is crucified. By these signs we know the widespread heritage of suffering.[1]

What can we learn about the path through suffering by looking to Jesus? There is a truth worth knowing in the sufferings of Jesus. It is not enough to know that his hands and feet were pierced with thick nails; it’s not comfort to know that he was spat upon and whipped mercilessly. It is the inevitability of joy and resurrection that cause us to find hope in Jesus. His endurance is only inspiring if there is something more than punishment and death.

The virtue we may be lacking is endurance. It’s easier to lose heart and go home than to put our trust in a promise that suffering will one day collapse into joyful abandon.

Horrific labour pains can resolve with beautiful, new life. You may not have the inner resource to push, but there is a guide at your side who reminds you that you are almost there.




[1] Oswald Chambers, Christian Disciplines: Building Strong Character ©1936 by Oswald Chambers Publications Association

Saturday, January 30, 2016

WARMTH FOR THE WINTER SOUL


Creeping sadness… like the setting sun during a winter power outage…


Disappointed with people who know better… wearied by their callous disregard…


Uncertain about my future, my health, my happiness…

God’s voice sounding like the adults in Charlie Brown cartoons…

The tired, detached feeling of being alone in the company of laughing hyenas…

Been there… done that… is there hope for a winter soul?

A prayer for the dying… Hear my cry, Jesus. You have something I do not have. Help me!

Tim Keller said,

“No matter what precautions we take, no matter how well we have put together a good life, no matter how hard we have worked to be healthy, wealthy, comfortable with friends and family, and successful with our career — something will inevitably ruin it.”[1]

In preparation for the coming tragic letdown of Golgotha, Jesus asked his disciples if they still believed in him. It’s a good question for all of us who sometimes struggle with unbelief, doubt and discouragement. Do you still believe even though your heart is filled with dread?


John 16:
31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. 32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”


I don’t know if you saw it right away, but losing hope and fear are the common lot. Leaving Jesus and going home are predictable patterns. But, Jesus is not dependent on your faithfulness to him.

If we all leave Jesus behind, he will still not be alone. We might be alone, but not him! He has the Father with him always. Inseparable from God…

Jesus will be okay with or without us… and he is not being glib or unfeeling to say that. He is telling us that he has the peace we desperately lack. He tells us this so we can take heart. Take Jesus’ heart when you lose your own…

If suffering and fear are your present state, Jesus invites you to lean into him. He overcomes the desperately, troubled condition of the world and invites us to the peace he has.



[1] Tim Keller, Walking With God Through Pain And Suffering, 2013 Dutton, p.3

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