Category Archives: abiding in Christ

Things I couldn’t say.


kintsugi-crack-method-1How do you start blogging again after so long an absence? I really wondered if I would ever have anything to say again. I had so many things I wanted to write about but for some reason when I sat down to type my thoughts were such a jumble, nothing made much sense to me or was worth sharing. A few weeks ago while driving in my car talking to the Lord I suddenly had one of those aha! moments. No light bulb appeared magically above my head but I was overwhelmed with the realization that even though it was never a problem for me to share about my health issues and open up about the emotions associated with living life chronically ill, my mental health was another matter entirely.

Several years ago when I was still posting here I slowly stopped writing and started sharing snippets and thoughts from devotionals or books I was reading. When I look back at this blog initially it was a safe place to collect my thoughts, work through theological ideas and learn and gain strength and encouragement from other bloggers. It’s obvious to me now that I was in the process of shutting down long before I stopped posting entirely. It’s taken me a few years to sort through what exactly happened, the mistakes I have made and to move forward with honesty, courage and repentance where necessary and to face the truth of my limitations with grace. It’s sometimes hard admitting your mistakes but it’s often harder to really leave them at the cross and go forward with some kind of mercy towards yourself. If that sounds radical or heretical it’s just how it is with mental illness, sometimes we are our own worst enemy. Shame helps nothing and it’s been a wrestling match trying to handle my issues without heaping more hot coals on my own head.   It’s been an intense journey and it’s often seemed like one trial after another.

I’m happy to say that having survived these tests my faith is not only intact, it’s stronger than ever. For the first time as a Christian I feel real, lasting joy regardless of my circumstances. Like the Apostle Paul, or Joseph and so many saints before me I can say that the joy of the Lord has sustained me, regardless of prison, shipwreck or palace. I’m at a place beyond simple gratitude and thankfulness for my salvation, I’m at a renewed place of hope and real, lasting peace knowing that no matter what, I can trust in and lean on Christ.  It’s often tough trying not to confuse our earthly parental relationships with our relationship to our heavenly Father, even more so for a child of abuse.  My struggles with anxiety and CPTSD have only strengthened and confirmed my relationship and place in God’s kingdom and that’s led to a newfound joy and strength in my life and I need to share that with people. Whatever it took to get me here was worth every pain, frustration or fear and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to once again share those experiences with other people.

Hopefully in the next few weeks I can try to work through what happened, how I coped successfully and often unsuccessfully and through my thoughts help encourage someone else struggling with some of the same issues I faced. After all that’s the point isn’t it? As Christians we just keep putting one foot in front of the other following Jesus and in that process we find that when we look back there are thankfully other people coming up the road who need our help somehow. I hope this blog and it’s sort of rebirth can be that help for someone, and honor our Lord in the process.

As I was in the process of posting this I came across this nugget of wisdom from J. R. Miller. If you are struggling today with shame, failure or weakness take heart, this will hopefully encourage you.

“God is the God of those who fail. Not that He loves those who stumble and fall, better than those who walk erect without stumbling; but He helps them more. The weak believers get more of His grace–than those who are strong believers. There is a special divine promise, which says, “My divine power is made perfect in weakness.” When we are conscious of our own insufficiency, then we are ready to receive of the divine sufficiency. Thus our very weakness is an element of strength. Our weakness is an empty cup–which God fills with His own strength.” J. R. Miller, “The Beatitude for the Unsuccessful” 1892)

 

“He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

 

 

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TRUE GREATNESS


Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

'California_Field_Workers',_oil_on_canvas_painting_by_Warren_Eugene_Brandon

Many are reckoned great by the world, and are often envied by their inferiors, who are yet ignorant of what renders man truly great. A courtier, as Ahithophel, a prince, as Haman, and a king, as Belshazzar, may be vile and sordid people; for often in the highest stations the basest of men are set up. Coaches and chariots; horses and hounds; many servants, and a numerous retinue; a sumptuous table, and fine apparel; high titles, and honorary posts; great friends, and noble blood; rich connections, and immense wealth—do not constitute true greatness. It is not nobility, or popularity, or beauty, or talent—that will render one great. It is not strength of body, natural courage, liberal education, bright parts, or sparkling genius—that can make a truly great man. Hence this seeming contradiction, yet sterling truth, Great men are not always great.

Are there, then, great men any where to be found? Yes, though they attract not much notice or regard of men. The holy, humble, self-denied soul, is truly great. He who lives above the things of time, and has his meditation on God, and the things of the invisible world. He who is pleased with a little of the good things of this world—can forgive enemies—pass by affronts—forget injuries—repay hatred with love—rejoice in tribulation—triumph in faith—have rule over his own spirit—mourn for the sins of the times—weep over his lack holiness—tremble at God’s threatenings—depend on the promises—bewail his omissions—repent daily for his sin—wrestle in prayer, and prevail with God, and, Enoch-like, have his conversation in heaven, and walk with God—this is he who is truly great in the eye of angels, in the eye of God!

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Love grows in the shade


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In one of my garden books there is a chapter with a very interesting heading, “Flowers that Grow in the Gloom.” It deals with those patches in a garden which never catch the sunlight. And my guide tells me the sort of flowers which are not afraid of these dingy corners–may rather like them and flourish in them.

And there are similar things in the world of the spirit. They come out when material circumstances become stern and severe. They grow in the gloom. How can we otherwise explain some of the experiences of the Apostle Paul?

Here he is in captivity at Rome. The supreme mission of his life appears to be broken. But it is just in this besetting dinginess that flowers begin to show their faces in bright and fascinating glory. He may have seen them before, growing in the open road, but never as they now appeared in incomparable strength and beauty. Words of promise opened out their treasures as he had never seen them before.

Among those treasures were such wonderful things as the grace of Christ, the love of Christ, the joy and peace of Christ; and it seemed as though they needed an “encircling gloom” to draw out their secret and their inner glory. At any rate the realm of gloom became the home of revelation, and Paul began to realize as never before the range and wealth of his spiritual inheritance.

Who has not known men and women who, when they arrive at seasons of gloom and solitude, put on strength and hopefulness like a robe? You may imprison such folk where you please; but you shut up their treasure with them. You cannot shut it out. You may make their material lot a desert, but “the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.”
–Dr. Jowett

“Every flower, even the fairest, has its shadow beneath it as it basks in the sunlight.”

Where there is much light there is also much shade.

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Let my life be filled, packed and crammed


broken house

Wasted time, it’s often the bane of my existence. I putter and fret and think about wordly stuff that just doesn’t matter. My selfish thoughts take up far too much of my time and I stand surrounded by souls that need Christ. I stand convicted and ashamed. When I think about time, and it’s redeeming I realize I have so little left here to reach out to the people in my path and I try to regroup….let it be my prayer today to stop and share Christ with anyone who is willing to listen.

(Charles Spurgeon, “Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden” 1883)

“When men have much to say in a letter, and perceive that they have little paper left, they write closely.”

Looking at the shortness of life, and the much that has to be written upon life’s tablets–it befits us also to do much in a short space, and so to write closely.

“No day without a line!” is a good motto for a Christian.

A thoroughly useful life is very short, for it is but a span–but how much may be crowded into it for God, our souls, the Church, our families, and our fellows!

We cannot afford wide blanks of idleness. We should not only live by the day, but by the 20 minutes, as Wesley did. He divided each hour into three parts.

So scanty is our life’s space, that we must condense and leave out superfluous matter–giving room only to that which is weighty and of the first importance.

Lord, whether I live long or not, I leave to your discretion. But help me to live while I live, that I may live profitably. You can give life more abundantly. Let me receive it, and let my life be filled, packed and crammed, with holy thoughts and words and deeds to Your glory!

“But this I say, brethren, the time is short!” 1 Corinthians 7:29

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Home


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by Horatius Bonar

Afflictions are preparing for us a “more abundant entrance,” a weightier crown,a whiter robe, a sweeter rest,a home made doubly precious by a long exile and many sufferings here below. However desperate our earthly warfare may be, it is not forever. No,it is brief,very brief. Its end is near, very near. And with the end come triumph,and honor, and songs of victory. Then, too, there follows peace, and the return of the war-worn soldier to his quiet dwelling. This is the joy of the saint. He has fought a good fight, he has finished the course, he has kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for him the crown of righteousness. His battle is over, and then for him there are rest and home. Home! Yes,home! And what a home for us to return to and abide in forever! A home prepared before the foundation of the world. A home in the many mansions. A home nearest the throne and heart of God. A home whose peace shall never be broken by the sound of war or tempest. A home whose brightness shall never be overcast by the remotest shadow of a cloud. How solacing to the weary spirit to think of a resting-place so near, and that resting-place our Father’s house where we shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, where the sun shall not scorch us,nor any heat, where the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall feed us and lead us to living fountains of waters,and God Himself shall wipe away all tears from our eyes! The time is at hand. The conflicts are almost over. Our struggles and sorrows are nearly done. A few more years, and we shall either be laid quietly to rest, or caught up into the clouds to meet our coming Lord. A few more deaths, and then we shall be knit together in eternal brotherhood with all the scattered members of the family. A few more suns shall rise and set,and then we shall ascend in its strength the one unsetting sun. A few more days shall dawn and darken, and then shall shine forth the one unending day. A few more clouds shall gather over us, and then the world shall be cleared forever. But a few brief years, and we shall enter in through the gates into the city, sitting down beneath the shadow of the tree of life, feeding upon the hidden manna, and drinking of the pure river clear as crystal,which proceeds out of the throne of God and of the Lamb! Bu a few brief years and we shall see His face, and His name shall be upon our foreheads! We have only the foretaste now. The full brightness is in reserve,and we know that all that is possible or conceivable of what is good and fair and blessed shall one day be real and visible. Out of all evil there comes the good; out of sin comes holiness; out of darkness, light; out of death, life eternal; out of weakness, strength; out of the fading, the blooming; out of rottenness and ruin,loveliness and majesty; out of the curse come the blessing, the incorruptible, the immortal, the glorious, the undefiled! Our present portion, however, is but the pledge,not the inheritance. The inheritance is reserved for the appearing of the Lord. Here we see but through a glass darkly. It does not yet appear what we shall be. We are now but as wayfaring men,wandering in the lonely night,who see dimly upon the distant mountain peak the reflection of a sun that never rises here, but which shall never set in the “new heavens” hereafter. And this is enough. It comforts and cheers us on our dark and rugged way. It would not be enough hereafter,but it is enough just now. This wilderness will do for us until we cross into Canaan. The tent will do until the eternal city comes. The joy of believing is enough until we enter on the joy of seeing. We are content with the “mountain of myrrh,and the hill of frankincense,” until “the day breaks and the shadows flee away.”

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Where lieth peace?


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He said, “I will forget the dying faces; The empty places, They shall be filed again. O voices moaning deep within me, cease,” But vain the word; vain, vain: Not in forgetting lieth peace.

He said, “I will crowd action upon action, The strife of faction shall stir me and sustain; O tears that drown the fire of manhood, cease.” But vain the word; vain, vain: Not in endeavor lieth peace.

He said, “I will withdraw me and be quiet, Why meddle in life’s riot? Shut be my door to pain. Desire, thou dost befool me, thou shalt cease.” Not in aloofness lieth peace.

He said, “I will submit; I am defeated. God hath depleted My life of its rich gain. O futile murmurings, why will ye not cease?” But vain the word; vain, vain: Not in submission lieth peace.

He said, “I will accept the breaking sorrow Which God tomorrow will to His Son explain.” Then did the turmoil deep within him cease. Not vain the word, not vain; For in Acceptance lieth peace.

-Amy Carmichael

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The Power and Pity of Jesus.




I have had a hard time lately just living.

It’s been a bit of a struggle, in all areas of my life for some reason, illness, financial issues, and assorted hurts and buffets abound but God in his amazing, unmerited mercy has supported me with great preaching and teaching and He’s blessed me so abundantly by just being there for me, there is so much evidence of His strength in my weakness. He is my rock and my fortress and the harder and tougher life is it seems the stronger the hold of His mighty hand! I love him so much and as I sat in my office trying to find some comfort in his word, I stumbled upon these two sermons. These are so good that I sat, in my office and sobbed into my paperwork. He is our Risen Savior and even in the most seemingly unimportant personal stuff, He cares for us. I hope these are encouraging to you. They sure were to me.

In Love and Faith in Jesus Christ, Mrs. B.
The Power and Pity of Jesus part 1

The Power and Pity of Jesus part 2

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The Resurrection


By John MacArthur


In 1874, a Baptist minister named Robert Lowry penned one of the most stirring hymns to ever exalt the resurrection of Jesus Christ–“Low in the Grave He Lay.” Notice how these verses contrast the impotence of death and suffering with the resurrection power of Christ:

Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Savior;
Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!
Vainly they watch His bed, Jesus my Savior;
Vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!
Death cannot keep its Prey, Jesus my Savior;
He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!

Death, man’s most dread enemy, is powerless to reign over the Lord of life. And that truth has significance for you and me, here and now in the twenty-first century. You can see it in the most exciting and rousing part of Lowry’s hymn, the refrain that punctuates each stanza:

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Do you see in those lines what Jesus’ resurrection means to you? If you are a Christian, you can rejoice in the fact that Christ rose from the dead as a victor, a champion who lives forever to reign, “with His saints.” That refers to the promise based on our baptism into the death and resurrection of Christ–it is our hope and the reason and ground of all we believe.

But what if there were no resurrection? What if the resurrection of Jesus Christ is just a first-century myth to be ignored or marginalized as a secondary issue? The implications of that approach are devastating to Christianity.

I want to draw your attention to what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:16-19 so that you can see what happens when you forget the resurrection.

For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

Without question, if Jesus is still in the grave, if He is perpetually the sufferer and never the Victor, then you and I are hopelessly lost. And though that is not the case, I want to focus on the hypothetical “what if” that Paul assumes temporarily in 1 Corinthians 15. “What if the resurrection were a myth? What if Jesus Christ were still dead and in the grave?”

First of all, you would still be in your sins, under the tyranny of death along with the most vile and unbelieving pagan. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then sin won the victory over Him and continues to be victorious over you too. If Jesus remained in the grave, then, when you die you would also stay dead. Furthermore, since “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), were you to remain dead, death and eternal punishment would be your future.

The purpose of trusting in Christ is for forgiveness of sins, because it is from sin that we need to be saved. “Christ died for our sins” and “was buried, and … raised on the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). If Christ was not raised, His death was in vain, your faith in Him would be pointless, and your sins would still be counted against you with no hope of spiritual life.

Second, if there is no resurrection, then “those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” That means every Old Testament saint, every New Testament saint, and every saint since Paul wrote would be suffering in torment at this very moment. That would include Paul himself, the rest of the apostles, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Moody, and the faithful and prayerful saints you’ve known–every other believer in every age also would be in hell. Their faith would have been in vain, their sins would not have been forgiven, and their destiny would be damnation.

In light of the other consequences, the last is rather obvious. “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” Without Christ’s resurrection, and the salvation and blessings it brings, Christianity would be pointless and pitiable. Without the resurrection we would have no Savior, no forgiveness, no gospel, no meaningful faith, no life, and we could never have hope for any of those things.

To have hoped in Christ alone in this life would be to teach, preach, suffer, sacrifice, and work entirely for nothing. If Christ is still dead, then He not only has no ability to save you in the future, but He can’t help you now either. If He were not alive, where would be your source of peace, joy, or satisfaction now? The Christian life would be a mockery, a charade, a tragic and cruel joke. Christians who suffer and even die for the faith would be just as blind and pathetic as those “believers” who followed Jim Jones and the People’s Temple, David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, and Marshall Applewhite and the Heaven’s Gate cult.

Since a Christian has no Savior but Christ, no Redeemer but Christ, and no Lord but Christ, if Christ is not raised, He is not alive, and our Christian life is lifeless. We would have nothing to justify our faith, our Bible study, our preaching or witnessing, our service for Him or our worship of Him, and nothing to justify our hope in this life or the next. We would deserve nothing but the compassion reserved for fools.

But, God did raise “Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:24-25). Because Christ lives, we too shall live (John 14:19). “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:30-31).

We are NOT to be pitied, for Paul immediately ends the dreadful “what if” section by saying, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20). As Paul said at the end of his life, “I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him [i.e. his life] until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).

Those who do not hope in Christ alone for salvation are the real fools; they are the ones who need to hear your compassionate testimony about the triumph of Christ’s resurrection. So don’t forget the resurrection; rejoice in it and glory in it, for He is risen indeed.


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The Lord of the Dance


little girlby RC Sproul Jr.

I was reminded this afternoon of a liturgy within a liturgy that I practice. My two youngest daughters, Erin Claire and Maili had their first dance recital. They are a part of a small ballet group made up of homeschooled little girls in our broader community. They danced beautifully, received their applause, smiled as only little girls can, and came and sat beside me, giving and receiving hugs. The entire rest of the family was there to cheer them on. The second dance troupe was a little older, and they danced to Pachelbel’s Canon in D. As they danced I glanced over at my eleven year old daughter Shannon, smiling joyfully as she took in both the music and dancing. She sat there in her wheelchair and rejoiced.

Each Lord’s Day at Saint Peter Presbyterian Church we confess our faith together. Usually we sing together either the Apostle’s Creed or the Nicene Creed. That is the liturgy I was reminded of. The liturgy within the liturgy is this–when we get to that part in either creed where we affirm our belief in the resurrection of the body, I look to my little girl Shannon. For her, and therefore for me, the resurrection of the body isn’t merely a theological affirmation. It isn’t merely a careful add-on to the really important thing, getting our souls saved. It is instead a promise to long for, to cling to, to rejoice in.

Our Lord came not just as a soul saver, but as a redeemer. The good news is not merely that our spirits do not end up in hell, but is instead that we will be saved to the uttermost, that our resurrected Lord has secured us completely. The effect of sin in the life of my precious little girl, the illness that leaves her so unsteady on her feet that she spends most of her days either in bed or in that wheelchair, this too will be beaten. Jesus, our hero, has promised to rescue my precious little maiden.

It was, however, in the context of that music and that dance that this became so much clearer. I once heard that Pachelbel wrote his Canon in D in a fit of ecstasy, believing he was hearing the very music of heaven. I heard he was so moved by what he heard that he never wrote another piece of music. And so I too think of heaven when I hear those strains. And there up front these little girls are dancing. I remembered as I watched Shannon watch, that Jesus would not only heal her body, that He would not only make her mind whole, but that He will on that great day dance with her. He will hold her close, and twirl about His throne room to the music of the spheres, and together they will laugh at the joy of it. As Aslan roared “Ohhh Children!!!” as he frolicked with Lucy and Susan after he was raised, so will Jesus roar “Ohhhh Shannon!!!” I will watch, and I will give thanks. This is the good news of Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Dance.

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What are You Seeking


This is for you Kit, I wrote this last summer sometime and Bucket had it on her old blog but I am posting it again here for you guys to read.

Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

What are you seeking?

Are you seeking prosperity, good health, a lucrative career, signs and wonders, manifestations? I believe that whatever a person seeks that is what he will find, so what are you seeking? In Matthew 7:7 Jesus tells us to ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened. We need to ask ourselves what should we actually be seeking? Isaiah 55:6 says “Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.”

This all makes me think of my 15 year who sometimes makes me feel like his personal customer service department instead of his mother. These are some common things he might ask me, what’s for dinner, did you wash my favorite shirt, can you take me to the movies, can I have some money, where’s the peanut butter, I need some medicine for my cough. If any of my answers don’t please him, he might roll his eyes and go to his room and slam the door. I also remember when my children were babies I would go in to get them out of the crib in the morning and they would be waiting for me with their sweet faces all lit up with smiles, giggles and coos, they would be so joyful at the site of their mommy. When they learned to talk and I would leave them at grandpa’s house and I would come back to get them they would run up and throw their arms around me and tell me how much they missed me and shower me with hugs and kisses and tell me all about what they did while they were at papaw’s house . When my children were little they depended on me for everything, I was the center of their world and as they grow older they depend less and less on me and their interests and friends are now the center of their world.

I am left to wonder is my relationship with Jesus like that of a teenager or like that of a small child. Am I seeking Him or am I seeking what he can do for me. Am I seeking His hands or His face? Am I showering Him with childlike love or constantly begging Him to give me something, fix something or take me someplace? Am I sullen and distant from God when He doesn’t give me what I have asked for when I should be thanking Him for all that He has already done. Am I simply satisfied with just Him or do I have to continually beg for more and more and more. All He wants from us is to seek Him, our #1 priority in life should be simply to know HIM! We can’t know Him if we aren’t seeking Him and we aren’t seeking Him if we are constantly asking or begging for Him to do something for us or give us something. God crucified His only son to atone for our sin, He was perfect and sinless but yet that just isn’t enough to satisfy us. We have to keep begging God for more. We should be begging God to give us a heart that loves Him, a heart that loves Him so much that nothing else matters. There may come a day when you will have to lay down your life for Him, can you say that you love Him enough to do that? You see if you seek Him you will find Him.

2 Chronicles 7:14 says “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land

Lucy (Dana Baker)

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