Tag Archives: Christian maturity

Our invisible building


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(J. R. Miller, “Unfinished Life-building”)

“This fellow began to build—and was not able to finish!” Luke 14:30

We are all builders. We may not erect any house or temple on a city street for human eyes to see—but every one of us builds an edifice which God sees!

Life is a building. It rises slowly, day by day, through the years. Every new lesson we learn, lays another block on the edifice which is rising silently within us.
Every experience,
every touch of another life on ours,
every influence that impresses us,
every book we read,
every conversation we have,
every act in our commonest days—
adds something to our invisible building.
All of life furnishes the materials which add to our life-wall.

Many people build noble character structures in this world. But there are also many who build only base, shabby huts, without beauty—which will be swept away in the testing fires of judgment!

There are many, too, whose life-work presents the sorry spectacle of an unfinished building. There was a beautiful plan to begin with, and the work was promising for a little time—but after a while it was abandoned and left standing, with walls halfway up—a useless fragment, open and exposed, an incomplete inglorious ruin—telling no story of past splendor—as do the ruins of some old castle or coliseum—a monument only of folly and failure!

Sin in some form draws many a builder away from his work—to leave it unfinished.

It may be the world’s fascinations, which lure him from Christ’s side.

It may be evil companions, which tempt him from loyal friendship to the Savior.

It may be riches, which enter his heart and blind his eyes to the attractions of heaven.

It may be some secret debasing lust, which gains power over him and paralyzes his spiritual life.

Many are those now amid the world’s throngs—who once sat at the Lord’s Table and were among God’s people! Their lives are unfinished buildings, towers begun with great enthusiasm—and then left to tell their sad story of failure to all who pass by. They began to build—and were not able to finish.

It is sad to think how much of this unfinished work, God sees as He looks down upon our earth. Think of the good beginnings which never came to anything in the end. Think of the excellent resolutions which are never carried out. Think of the noble life-plans entered upon by so many young people with ardent enthusiasm—but soon given up. Think of the beautiful visions and high hopes which might have been splendid realities—but which have faded out, with not even one earnest attempt to work them into life!

In all aspects of life—we see these abandoned buildings. Many homes present the spectacle of abandoned dreams of love. For a time, the beautiful vision shone—and two hearts tried to make it come true—but they gave their dream up in despair, either enduring in misery—or going their own sad and separate ways.

So life everywhere is full of beginnings, which are never carried on to completion.

There is  . . .
not a soul-wreck on the streets,
not a prisoner serving out a sentence behind prison bars,
not a debased, fallen person anywhere—
in whose soul, there were not once visions of beauty, high hopes, holy thoughts and purposes, and high resolves of an ideal of something lovely and noble. But alas! the visions, the hopes, the purposes, the resolves—never grew into more than beginnings. God bends down and sees a great wilderness of unfinished buildings, bright possibilities unfulfilled, noble might-have-beens abandoned; ghastly ruins now, sad memorials only of failure!

The lesson from all this, is that we should . . .
  finish our work,
allow nothing to draw us away from our duty,
never become weary in following Christ,
persevere from the beginning of our ideals—steadfast unto the end.

We should not falter under any burden, in the face of any danger, before any demand of cost or sacrifice.

No discouragement,
no sorrow,
no worldly attraction,
no hardship—
should weaken for one moment our determination to be faithful unto death! No one who has begun to build for Christ—should leave an unfinished, abandoned life-work, to his own eternal grief!

“This fellow began to build—and was not able to finish!” Luke 14:30

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I am a perverse and unruly patient!


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(Letters of John Newton)

I am bound to speak well of my Physician—He treats me with great tenderness, and bids me in due time to expect a perfect cure. I know too much of Him (though I know but little) to doubt either His skill or His promise.

It is true, I have suffered sad relapses since I have been under His care. Yet I confess, that the fault has not been His—but my own! I am a perverse and unruly patient! I have too often neglected His prescriptions, and broken the regimen He appoints me to observe. This perverseness, joined to the exceeding obstinacy of my disorders, would have caused me to be turned out as an incurable long ago—had I been under any other hand but His! Indeed—there is none like Him! When I have brought myself very low—He has still helped me. Blessed be His name—I am yet kept alive only by means of His perfect care.

Though His medicines are all beneficial—they are not all pleasant. Now and then He gives me a pleasant cordial; but I have many severe disorders, in which there is a needs-be for my frequently taking His bitter and unpalatable medicines!

We sometimes see published in the newspapers, acknowledgments of cures received. Methinks, if I were to publish my own case, that it would run something like this:

“I, John Newton, have long labored under a multitude of grievous disorders:
    a fever of ungoverned passions,
    a cancer of pride,
    a frenzy of wild imaginations,
    a severe lethargy, and
    a deadly stroke!

In this deplorable situation, I suffered many things from many physicians, spent every penny I had—yet only grew worse and worse!

In this condition, Jesus, the Physician of souls, found me when I sought Him not. He undertook my recovery freely, without money and without price—these are His terms with all His patients! My fever is now abated, my senses are restored, my faculties are enlivened! In a word, I am a new man! And from His ability, His promise, and the experience of what He has already done—I have the fullest assurance that He will infallibly and perfectly heal me—and that I shall live forever as a monument of His power and grace!”

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Redeem the Rejection of Singleness


The narrow wayRedeem the Rejection of Singleness
May 21, 2015 by Fabienne Harford  Topic: Dating & Singleness

You can read the original article on Desiring God here:http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/redeem-the-rejection-of-singleness

Redeem the Rejection of Singleness
When I was a little girl, I never associated being alone with being rejected. Time on my own afforded me the opportunity to disappear inside my imagination without interruption. I’m not so different now than I was then. I still love finding time away from the world.

However, if I’m not careful, my joy of aloneness gets sabotaged by the painful thought that maybe I am alone because I am not wanted, not chosen, no one’s favorite.

Why Does It Hurt?

Rejection hurts — and in singleness there is plenty of it to go around. Whether it’s the explicit rejection some men face when they ask a woman on a date, or the implicit rejection of wondering why no man is asking you on a date, the single will have to face the fear that they are not wanted.

The world may tell you the solution to this pain is to speak worth over yourself so loudly that you drown out the whisper of rejection. But it doesn’t work. Because we were created to have worth spoken into us by Someone outside of ourselves. What a great gift that needy design is for continually driving us to God. And what a terrifying distortion it is when we let it drive us to mere mortals. There is no person on earth that should have the power to speak into us value or worth in such a way that it secures our identity.

The church may tell you the solution to this pain is a simplistic notion of Jesus; that if you embrace the truth that he wants you, you will be able to overcome the pain of rejection in singleness. Sounds good to me, but there is an agonizing question I find bubbling up in my soul when I consider this: If Jesus is supposed to satisfy all my hunger to be loved and wanted, why doesn’t he?

The Sabotage of Acceptance

We will never find Jesus’s approval truly satisfying until we stop seeking our approval from others. In the book of John, Jesus asks this question:

How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? (John 5:44)
When we treat people as if they have the power to determine our value, we attribute to them a power that belongs to God alone. As long as they hold power over our worth, we will never feel safe and satisfied in God’s acceptance. It’s like wondering why the finest steak in town isn’t satisfying us when you keep shoving McDonald’s fries down our throat before you eat.

Jesus says that if affirmation from people can add to your sense of self and deep security, it will rob you of the ability to experience deep belief in him. If we want to know why we aren’t satisfied in Jesus, here’s his answer: You receive affirmation from creatures and don’t seek it from the only Creator.

That’s why I feel no hesitation in claiming that the pain of rejection we face in singleness is one of God’s sweetest gifts. It provides a head start on being satisfied in God.

Don’t Waste Your Rejection

Part of the reason rejection hurts so much is because it’s tearing away from us the approval of men. If we can fight the urge to comfort ourselves by scrambling for more human affirmation, we can use that hurt as an opportunity to drive us to seek our affirmation from God.

“The pain of rejection we face in singleness is one of God’s sweetest gifts.” Tweet
You will waste the rejection of singleness if you let the pain drive you to seek affirmation of worth from people instead of God. God has designed this beautiful gift of singleness to highlight your need to be chosen and to underline the inadequacy of people to fill that need. Don’t be ashamed by your hunger to be wanted and chosen. Don’t try to cover or conceal or fill it with positive thinking or encouragement from mortal men. Let it drive you to cling to the God who has chosen you at great cost.

Let no one except God have the power to determine your worth. Let no covenant, other than the New Covenant with Christ, satisfy your need to be chosen.

Gaining Christ

If you are no mortal man’s favorite, you are in good company. Besides me, you’re also in the company of the one who was “despised and rejected by men.” Don’t waste the opportunity to be comforted by the great high priest who can sympathize with your weakness because he has experienced the full depths of rejection.

As you find yourself secure in Christ, you will stand more fully on the great promise that you will never be forsaken, never be rejected by God. Every hour of every day, for all eternity, you are wanted, chosen, picked. And you know why? Because Jesus was willing to face rejection so that you could be secure. He faced our nightmare so we could live in the dream: unconditional love from our sufficient Savior.

Overflowing in Love

The more you seek and experience the glory that comes from the only God, the more of an asset you will be to the hurting and broken around you in the church and the city. You will go into this world full, not empty — satisfied, not starving. Instead of looking around and constantly perceiving the world through the lens of rejection, you will be so safe and secure you will be free to look around and pursue the rejected.

In Christ, we are free to receive the aloneness of singleness as a gift, knowing that it is not ultimately rooted in rejection. That fear and insecurity is drowned out by his great and precious promises.

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31–32)
Settle it in your mind: You are not alone because you are unwanted, unloved, or rejected. Your life is being written with kind and perfect intentions by a sovereign and loving God who is stewarding all things to give you the greatest possible good: himself.

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The Sacrifice of True Love.


I have been thinking about Love a lot lately.

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, it seems thoughts of love are on the minds of many people. I have seen magazine articles and blog posts about romantic love, read facebook updates from single friends about love lost or love’s disappointments. Warm, thoughtful posts by newlyweds and flirty posts by folks who are looking in all the wrong places cover the walls of some of my facebook friends.  This is the month that most Americans celebrate romantic love, whatever that might mean to them.  Every human being needs love and companionship and I understand the need to express that but there is a love much greater and far deeper than anything that could be expressed with a candy heart or a box of chocolate.

Over the years I have had to make a few adjustments in how I view true love. It’s wonderful to see a married couple who love each other and stand by that union, the love we express for our family members, children, pets and friends is wonderful and is a blessed gift that we often take for granted.   As a Christian it’s taken me a long walk down the road of maturity in Christ to learn exactly what Christian love is, or should be all about. For many years growing up I was well aware that my home life was not the source of much love on my behalf. This lack of love led me down all sorts of wrong paths, wrought with false hopes and many tears. I learned that Mom’s don’t always love their Daughters.  Brother’s and Sisters are often not close. Men leave, friends can be fickle  and that ultimately no one really owes you anything, let alone kindness or love. I learned that love comes in many forms, but the only love that is lasting is God’s love. For many years of my young adult hood I helped take care of my Father who had a Major stroke and suffered eventually from Dementia. It was a long tough road and romantic love, though it showed up in my life a few times, never quite had the strength to weather my choice in loving my Dad through his illness.

I learned that loving people is much harder than receiving it. Not until I was saved did I totally understand God’s sacrifice of His one and only begotten Son, and I am still coming to terms with how monumental that sacrifice was, and how as a Christian I am called to love people with that same Agape love that God showed a sinner like me. Love that has no strings, no rewards or even personal satisfaction. This is not a love that tolerates sin or heresy, but a love that in Christ calls me to love even my enemies. That’s a pretty tall order, and one that I am just beginning to understand. I may never have warm fuzzy feelings about someone who hurts or is mean to me, but I have to give them the same patience and mercy that God has given me and that’s tough.

While I studied scripture and pondered these things I found two really great sermons from my Church and I have included the links below for you to listen if you choose. I also included an amazing story of courage and sacrifice about a Christian Brother named Dirk Willems. I cannot imagine the sacrifice he was called to make, but his life was a stunning example of true love. The drawing at the top of the page is about him and his story.

Christian Love Part 1

Christian Love Part 2

Late in the winter of 1569, Dirk Willems of Holland was discovered as an Anabaptist, and a thief catcher came to arrest him at the village of Asperen.

Running for his life, Dirk came to a body of water still coated with ice. After making his way across in great peril, he realised his pursuer had fallen through into the freezing water.1

Turning back, Dirk ran to the struggling man and dragged him safely to shore. The thief catcher wanted to release Dirk, but a burgomaster – having appeared on the scene – reminded the man he was under oath to deliver criminals to justice. Dirk was bound off to prison, interrogated, and tortured in an unsuccessful effort to make him renounce his faith. He was tried and found guilty of having been rebaptised, of holding secret meetings in his home, and of allowing baptism there – all of which he freely confessed.

“Persisting obstinately in his opinion”, Dirk was sentenced to execution by fire. On the day of execution, a strong east wind blew the flames away from his upper body so that death was long delayed. The same wind carried his voice to the next town, where people heard him cry more than seventy times, “O my Lord; my God”. The judge present was “finally filled with sorrow and regret”. Wheeling his horse around so he saw no more, he ordered the executioner, “Dispatch the man with a quick death.”

“If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn’t love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others, what good would I be? And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, without love I would be no good to anybody. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would be of no value whatsoever. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever. There are three things that will endure—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”  1 Corinthians 13

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