Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

A lesson in Hebrew

It’s hard to preach the truth, because people will start to hold you accountable to it. 

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“The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions.”

God is good. But when he saves us, he doesn’t tell us to stay as we are. He tells us like the woman caught in adultery, to “go and sin no more.” Her sin did not become less real because He forgave her. And his forgiveness did not take away her need to change. Salvation does not remove from us the responsibility of the law; it simply removes from us the fear of it. Salvation allows us to look in the mirror and face our fears, our sins, our inadequacies, and our worries, and enables us to say that God is greater than the things we let control our lives.

The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalms 34:18) The word for near in Hebrew is karov, and it means close enough to touch. We don’t need to shout for God to hear us, or kneel for him to listen, or close our eyes for him to act. God is close to us. Close enough to touch.

The truth is, much of the suffering we go through as Christians is inward. We are attacked with depression, self-hate, sin, temptation, lack of self-confidence, failure, and lust. Often times there is sorrow in our heart that no one else can share. But our brokenness is what draws us to Christ for healing.

God is near to those with a broken heart, or nishbar lev. The Hebrew word lev refers to our inner life: our affectations, our mind, and our will. Those who have a broken heart realize that they have no control over their own lives. They are inwardly broken, and are in need of God’s salvation.

Salvation, in Latin is salvare, to save, which in Hebrew is yoshia. In the Hebrew language yoshia signifies ‘making room from what restricts or distresses us.’ Thus Salvation frees us from what oppresses and constricts our inward life. It is God saving us from ourselves.

“A sculptor does not use a manicure set to reduce the rude, unshapely marble to a thing of beauty. The saw, the hammer, and the chisel are cruel tools, but without them the rough stone must remain forever formless and unbeautiful.”

“A sculptor does not use a manicure set to reduce the rude, unshapely marble to a thing of beauty. The saw, the hammer, and the chisel are cruel tools, but without them the rough stone must remain forever formless and unbeautiful.”

For God to work in you, he will often times remove the things you trust and cherish, so that instead of life’s priorities and passions you will focus on Him.

‘The flaming desire to be rid of every unholy thing and to put on the likeness of Christ at any cost is not often found among us. We expect to enter the everlasting kingdom of our Father and to sit down around the table with sages, saints and martyrs. But for most of us it would be an embarrassing experience. Ours would be the silence of the untried soldier in the presence of the battle-hardened heroes, who have fought the fight and won the victory, and who have scars to prove that they were present when the battle was joined.’

Oftentimes we want to be used by God, but determine by ourselves the time, intensity, and method of the trials and suffering we meet on the way. We want our strengths and abilities to shine forth, not our broken hearts, or our weaknesses.

We don’t have to look for suffering in order to be used by God—trials will always find us. But when they do, will we see them as God being indifferent to us, or will we see it as His hand molding and growing us so that we might enjoy being with him for an eternity.

Examine it further:
A.W. Tozer. Eric Jonas Swensson. Crossway. Hebrew4Christians.

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To be condemned…

I sat in church. Second row from the front. Different week, same routine.
But I desperately wanted to leave. The tiredness of everything the week had brought hit me at that very moment, and I was so tempted to just get up and walk away. I had a ride to church, but at that moment I seriously contemplated walking the 30mins back home. But somehow.. I decided to stay.

I’ve started realizing that the moments when I most want to get up and leave the presence of God are the times that I need to sit and stay the most.

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The preacher started speaking. His general topic: “the attitude of gratitude.” ‘Cute,’ I thought to myself. I settled in for the long haul, but my ears picked up as he slowly focused in on his point.

My eyes followed him as he spoke. He had a deformed hand, so whenever he spoke I always made a conscious effort to focus in on him and not his hand. The first time I had heard him speak, I couldn’t hear his words. I was staring. His deformity was all I could see. But I no longer let myself see him by what he was outwardly lacking. That day he spoke about how he lost so many fingers. I realized people around me began to stare at what was left of his hand. But my eyes never left his face. He talked and talked. At this point he had stepped down from the pulpit. He paced back and forth in front of the church, and then he reached out and touched me, with his hand that wasn’t whole, and I didn’t flinch. I only smiled and looked straight into his eyes.

Then he turned to me and said. “God is not going to bless you because you are good.” I almost cried. That was it. Those were the words. That was the message.

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As I grew in my Christian walk, it became less about how much time I spent with God, and more about how much I could do for Him. But the more I did, and the more I grew. The more I felt the weight of my sin.

I sought to be good. But word after word, action after action, thought after thought, condemned me. I recognized my self as a sinner, not a saint. I was so aware of my shortcomings, failures and burdens. I was consumed the knowledge that not only was I disappointing God, I was also disappointing myself. I was called to a higher standard. But it seemed like I could never reach it. Should I just give up? Should I accept defeat? Was it even possible to reach that perfection?

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Precept after precept, law after law. The bible. It condemned me. Shouldn’t I be struck down? Why would God even bless me?

I realized over time that I could never accept God’s forgiveness, if I couldn’t also subsequently forgive myself.

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His banner over me is love.

The law has seen me fall short time and time again, but his love always seems to lift me up.  Yes. It is indeed discouraging to fail in your walk with God, but never even trying to live God’s purpose for your life is akin to slavery. You become a slave to your every whim, want, and desire. No higher calling. No greater mission. No moral compass. You become consumed with pleasing yourself, and soon realize that self is never satiated.

The most amazing thing is that the people around you, those who proclaim to have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, will judge you, condemn you, and rebuke you. But Jesus speaks in love, and tells you to go and sin no more.

I often wonder at the magnitude of the sin of the woman at the well. What a burden she must have felt to never sin again. How hard was it for her to leave her current husband, one that she probably loved, though she had no legal claim to him? How did she support herself without a male companion? Did her whole lifestyle change overnight, or was it a gradual process? Did she wake up the next day, a saint? Perfect in all her ways?

Somehow I know in my heart that after Jesus told her to go and sin no more, it was just the beginning of her transformation. That though she daily found new sin in her life, she daily went back to the source that not only convicted her, but continually cleansed her. The battle is not for the faint of heart. But how comforting to know that the battle is not ours, but the Lord’s.

He is able

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“♪He is able.”

“♪He’s able.”

 

She sang, but her voice began to shake and finally, it cracked. Sucking in another labored breath she tried her best to continue.

 

“♫I know He’s able.”

 

As she sung the tears began again. But she knew she had to finish.

 

“♫I know my Lord is able to carry me through.”

 

She sung it like a question. But by the end she knew she had found the answer. She sang the chorus again. “♫He is able…” And this time, her voice was stronger, she was surer.

 

By the third time she sang it, there was no longer any doubt. It was certain. He is able. The tears stopped and she smiled. She sung with confidence and certainty and her voice rang true. She chuckled. Now she began to fear she would wake the neighbors. And again, she smiled.

 

That night she had thought of her fears. They were not abstract—simply mere shadows of the night. But they were real, vivid, and ever present. 

 

The thing was, she had brought her burden to Christ.

And after so many years, she knew He must have seen it.

Countless times she fell on her knees in prayer.

He must have heard it.

So many things she tried, each time with hope renewed as if the last failure was never present.

Surely He could recognize that.

 

She prayed for a change.

Then, she prayed for His will.

But still, there was no change.

So she began to accept maybe ‘thiswas His will.

 

She sprung up from her bed. And searched frantically through her drawers.  Finally her fingers jammed against the cover. When she picked up the book. She flipped and flipped, until she found the passage that she was looking for. It had been there all along; read and re-read, marked and highlighted, but only now did she understand.

 

2 Corinthians 12. She read it out loud.

 

“Because of all that Christ has revealed to me and done for me. If I wanted to boast, I could. But I don’t, lest others begin to think of me as greater than I am.  But God, in order to keep me from becoming arrogant, allowed me to have a great burden, “a thorn in my flesh: a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take this away from me. But still He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” So now, because of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

 

I sat back and marveled. It seemed that there was nothing I could experience that God had not already prepared an answer for in His word. I thought God had left me in my weakness. Perhaps, He too, was even ashamed of me. But I began to see how He had made my weakness, into my strength. How He opened doors that I could have never walked through even had I been perfectly whole. What I had always saw as my burden. God was telling me was His perfection.

 

The truth is: as He works miracle after miracle in my life, I wish I could have taken the credit. I wish I could have said, thank you! Yep, it’s me who deserves the praise! But nothing could be farther from the truth. All He has done and will do in my life. I don’t deserve, I didn’t earn. And I can no longer hide behind a perceived impression of perfection. I AM WEAK! But He my friend, is STRONG 🙂

Inadequacy?Loneliness? … A discourse.

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For a person who has always felt most at peace when in solitude, it was quite disconcerting to see loneliness settle in. With this loneliness came the desire to fill it. Acting on impulse, this gaping hole was easily filled with things that soon became detrimental.

Sitting back I began to observe this phenomenon all around me. It seemed like this world was filled with people who in their loneliness reached out for anything that would give them happiness, attention, satisfaction, or love. And yet this happiness was always so fleeting. Lovers leave, money finishes, the party ends, and night becomes morning. The high and the drunken stupor ends in pain when the sobriety of the morning hits.

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Drinking away sorrows– ends in alcoholism, just as fast as chasing highs leads to addiction. The trouble never stops and thus neither does your dependence. The churchgoer ridicules the drunkard for his bottle, and the drunkard ridicules the churchgoer for his hypocrisy. Yet are they so different? Both with longings, desires, hopes, and failures.

Then there is that woman next door; who’s girlhood days have passed as she looks in the future expecting nothing but more of the same. She is lonely, in ‘need’ of a man. She boasts in her aloneness while grooming herself to perfection in hopes of catching the eye of the next man who looks her way.

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Meanwhile she is oblivious to the fact that the old mamas at church who tell her that her biological clock has ‘tocked’ are living in misery in their own loveless marriages.  These old mamas have their husband in bed every night, but the space in between them lies cold. They were a Ms. and lonely, but now they are Mrs. Lonely. So they have more kids, join clubs, or support groups, and throw themselves in every work their hand finds—hoping to convince themselves that they are… “fulfilled.”

And finally there is that boy who looks like a man. He talks like a man, walks like a man, and lusts like a man. Yet when he is alone, his thoughts are that of a boy. He fights those feelings of inadequacy and he craves power over his own life and over his future.

mna, just a boy

We all go through life stumbling around, picking ourselves up, and developing our own coping mechanisms for loneliness, failure, and lust. We keep seeking, but not many find.

To the woman who is no longer a girl, and to the boy fighting to be a man: You can find a balm for your hurt and relief from your longing. But only at the foot of the cross.

foot of the cross

I have found only one place where it’s okay to be lonely and broken, confused or hurting. It’s okay to be lost and discouraged, weak and weary. Just come with your baggage and your sins, and lay down at the feet of Jesus. The walk of faith is not easy, and failure is guaranteed. But this time, when you fall, Christ Himself will pick you up.

Love w/ Him

I’m in love with Him.
Head-over-heels in love with Him.
With Him I lose my train of thought.
And I long for Him.

I want to run into His arms and stay there.
Forever with Him.
I tell you, I’m in love with Him!
That deep, everlasting, self-sacrificing love with Him.
That grace-flowing, life-altering, rediscovering love with Him.
So I will stand on the rooftop and scream for all to hear!

I’m in love with Him.

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