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Showing posts from November, 2017

When You're Not OK

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When we struggle with deep issues, we can suspect no one wants to hear the true depths of them. Though longing to unburden ourselves, we are skeptical anyone could understand.

We do not have to feel disconnected when we come to God. With God, not only is He aware of our brokenness, He does not want us to put on our best “OK face” when we come to Him. We need not dust ourselves off and pull up our own bootstraps to get His attention. This position is when we are least blessed. God does not want our self-manufactured efforts; He wants us to receive His tender grace in Jesus Christ. He calls for us to come to His Son in transparent honesty at the deepest levels as we admit our desperate need. Do you feel vulnerable and helpless? You are in the perfect place for God to draw you closer to Him. Our weakness is the door to His strength.

When we are at an end of ourselves is when God can reach us at the innermost level. While everything in our world can be far from fine, we can come to Him a…

A Bruised Reed

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When our hearts are frozen in the dark of depression and loneliness, hopelessness creeps in like a cold fog. During these valleys we may be tempted to think God is unresponsive or unapproachable. The weight that bears down on us is so heavy our prayers seem disconnected. We wonder, does God care? If suffering from emotional and mental disorders, or issues that cause us shame, these feelings can be a deep struggle.

Throughout Scripture we read of God’s loving-kindness for those who are brokenhearted. Matthew 12:20 states:  A battered reed He will not break off, and a smoldering wick He will not put out. This calls to mind Jesus’ gentle care for us. Christ comes to us where we are, in the suffering which leaves us hurt and defeated. In our brokenness, He redeems and heals with pure mercy. His grace is powerful in the depths of our struggle.

God's love is not subject to the ups and downs of our emotional state. He is steadfast and faithful. In the pressing trials of our life He reve…

What Characterizes Being a Man?

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Men possess innate qualities. A goal oriented and purposeful single-mindedness is exhibited. While men are driven, what could be positive traits are so often preoccupied with sex, money, power, and position. One only needs to observe the media to see the things men want or read the latest news headlines and discover where we fail as our castles of desire crumble.

In some circles, to recognize any difference between the sexes brings outrage. Gender roles are under attack. Shame is directed at being male. We also find a subtle notion that failure is unique to the male.

In another sense, men have largely abdicated their roles. Fathers abandon their children to run away from responsibility and pursue pleasure. Absentee fathers are epidemic. If a man is present in family or society, we often find passivity. This leads to acquiescing to life around us, investing little of ourselves. It is easier to let someone else take the lead, reduced to indifferent detachment and apathy. Wives and fami…

Yearning for More Than Conditional Acceptance

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Most relationships are conditional. We have all felt its weight in our lives. Our interactions are based on performance wherever we go. From family to social circles, are lists of requirements to be acceptable. Some of these are subtle while at other times there is deliberate intent to harm.

We live in a society full of  hypersensitive animosity, prepared to be offended before an offense even takes place. On an interpersonal level, if our needs or demands are not met, we do not accept those around us. We write them off in our minds, reject them, or consider them unworthy of our attention. How many churches are reduced to enmity and groups striving against one another? The pecking order of school life is a hotbed which can lead to abuse, leaving scars that affect our self worth. Throughout our life, the message we receive is our value equals the conditional criteria with which we must we measure up.

The human heart longs to be accepted. The experience of being rejected or feeling unwe…

Will God Still Love Me if I Fail?

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Are you disappointed with yourself? Do you feel down? In Christ the barrier of enmity is removed, bringing us near to God. His relation to us is that of surrounding us with love. Not vague sentimental love only when we do well, but pure love that is not withdrawn when we fall on our face or can't seem to overcome our shortcomings.

When we submit our lives to Christ, we are not in a relationship bound by circumstance. This is how the world operates. There we are only as acceptable as our performance, a reactionary condition where we are constantly evaluated. Fail or make a mistake and retribution is demanded. We could be snubbed, condemned by social circles, or treated differently by those who once befriended us. If we have taken the step to receive Jesus Christ, God bases our connection with Him on grace. In Jesus He accepts us and loves us without merit of our own. Christ paid the price for our sin and lived a perfectly holy life we can never achieve. Salvation is such a wonderf…

Depression

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Nothing leaves a black smear of discouragement like depression. Hope seems beyond our reach.
Disheartening clouds surround, our emotions become blighted. Day-to-day activity is hard to face. The darkness of depression can bring a numbing separation from anything positive.

During these times we find conflict within. We may wish for compassion, but part of us wants to withdraw. The thoughts “leave me alone” and “please help me” exist together. We long for the empathy of others yet retreat into ourselves. Though surrounded by people we can experience a profound loneliness. When we isolate ourselves, hopelessness descends.

Who will take time to pause, listen, and understand? Most in our social circles mean well, but do not wish or are unable to get close and connect on a deeper level. Pat answers can be an automatic response from otherwise sincere people, or as a way to dismiss the uncomfortable.

Guilt often accompanies depression. As Christians, we may think we should not struggle, that…

Loss

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Loss is a major theme in life. We understand this when a loved one departs, yet the older we get the more this reality encompasses many issues. Here are just a few: Loss of cherished goals or dreams, of health, financial security, or friends. We may even grieve the loss of inner stability and our strength to cope if emotional problems descend on our lives.

The impact can affect us profoundly, leaving painful emptiness. When discouragement becomes hopelessness, we find ourselves in a dark place. Our world can seem full of futility.

In our lifetime, we will experience the pangs of disheartening endings and disappointments. Instead of dulling ourselves with cynicism or running away, we can face these times with secure hope. Though we are wounded, it need not define us.

Ultimate hope and assurance does not rest in ourselves. Despite the hurt we go through, our lives can be defined by what we have gained. Without a Redeemer, we are lost in sin and in enmity with God. Yet, He loves us with…

Is Faith Blind?

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Skeptics claim you have to check your brain at the door to have faith. A prevalent assumption among those who believe is we must close our minds and take a blind leap. There is an overt view on the one hand, and an intimation on the other, that acknowledging God is beneath our intelligence. We feel thinking needs to be set aside. While people of faith do not display the smugness that today's scoffing figures in the atheist movement do, this weak outlook does not honor God.

Truth, wisdom, and knowledge will not be fully known unless we humble ourselves before the God who made us. Until we acknowledge the Almighty who created our existence and gives ultimate meaning to our lives, we will be in the dark. Worse still, unless we accept His Son, we are at enmity with our own Creator.

Life is not intended to be removed from God. There is no relevance without Him. His character is so full of unsearchable wisdom, His Word and gospel so imbued with sublime power as to surpass what this wor…