Wednesday, September 30, 2009

O Lord, You Dig Me!

In researching resources on the doctrine of adoption, i have been overwhelmed with the amount of sermons, blog posts, articles, commentaries, outlines and books on the topic. There is so much legit information from scholars who have done the work! So much so, that one really doesn't need to do the work of studying scripture. I could actually take in an abundance of others' ideas and studies to have a really good idea of what God says. I do believe God speaks and comforts through His people, but it is also good to investigate for yourself.

This is just a peek into how much God loves us!

Psalm 139:1, 8-16

1O lord (Yĕhovah - name of the supreme God), thou hast searched (chaqar - to dig) me, and known (yada` - acquainted both commencing and complete) me.

O supreme God, You dig me continually and completely!

8If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

9If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

10Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

11If I say, Surely the darkness (choshek - a dark place as of Hades) shall cover (shuwph - to bruise, crush, gape upon) me; even the night shall be light ('owr - light, Jehovah as Israel's light) about (ba`ad - behind, through denoting any kind of nearness) me.

12Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

13For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.

14I will praise thee; for I am fearfully (yare' - to tremble for joy) and wonderfully made (palah -be separated, be distinguished) : marvellous (pala' - be extraordinary) are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

15My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

16Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Who Can Bear It?

This morning I put a cover over Miss. Bluebell (my scooter/mobility device) confirming to me that she is now in storage, no longer of immediate need. What I feel about that is such a myriad of different shades and chromas that it seems I feel nothing. I do remember what I felt the day Miss. Bluebell came in the mail, my friend Taylor put her together and I sat in her for the first time. I wept. At the time, I had no idea what was to become of me. Broken, for the pain was so intense that I - a stubborn "walk it off" dancer - had surrendered to disability. I remember the chronic physical pain i endured every minute of every day. The hours and sometimes days spent in bed just breathing for that was all I could do. I remember the anguish of the pain being so great that the food i had hoped to nourish my body was rejected. And trips to the ER, wishing I would just pass out or die. That was bearable.

I came across Proverbs 18:14 this morning and, oh man can i agree:
"The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, But {as for} a broken spirit who can bear it?"

I know now that all the physical pain was a mere reflection of the emotional/mental/spiritual pain that had gone unattended. Now, with the exception of a zap here and some weakness there, the Somatization has reversed and there are days that I long for the physical pain.

It is so clear to me why, after being so grotesquely mutilated, the only record of Jesus crying out is at the moment of spiritual death. Why, at Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives the distress Jesus felt was so great that His capillaries broke and blood came as sweat. The spiritual grief that is capable in our soul is too much for the mortal body. Muscles spasm, vision is lost, blood vessels break, neurons misfire - in our earthly dwelling, the fullness of the Spirit cannot be contained.

Having a very small peek into this kind of torment, i like to believe that immeasurably more than this pain is the inexpressible and glorious joy to be found in Christ.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ephesians 1:3-14

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

This is where i have been spending most of my time. Not a bad place to be.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Silent Fighting Trek

The word fighting has been taking on a new connotation for me. It has become less and less associated with hurt and more like this:
11But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
1 Timothy 6:11-12

Have you ever thought to yourself, "Why are you down cast O my soul, why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God. . . i am fighting to keep my hope in Him but my heart will not follow. I can not see the separating of bone and marrow or soul and spirit. I don't see how this is working good. It seems it will never end! I don't understand what is happening to me - i may even be doing it to myself. I am struggling to see in the dark!"?

The other day a friend shared with me this poem by Cameron Townsend:

Trust Him when dark doubt assail thee;
Trust Him when thy strength is small.
Trust Him when, to simply trust Him seems the hardest thing of all.
Trust Him, He is ever faithful.
Trust Him, for His will is best.
Trust Him, for the heart of Jesus is the only place of rest.
Trust Him then through cloud and sunshine;
all thy cares upon Him cast,
til the storms of life are over,
and the trusting days are past!

One thing i have learned is, in the midst of struggle there isn't any one thing someone can say, or that one verse one can share with you that will make everything okay. It is more of a silent fighting trek. A continual fight against lies and a silent cleaving to Christ.

13And Moses said to the people, "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14
The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent."
Exodus 14:13-14

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
Hebrews 11:1

A few things that have encouraged me through the dark:
Trail and Jesus
Why you can make it through anything
Living Hope

Friday, September 18, 2009

Both Rain and Sunshine Makes a Rainbow

Lately i have been struggling to remember that God uses trial, suffering and sin (including being sinned against) for His glory and for our benefit. Sometimes it is exceedingly difficult to look through the cloud of adverse circumstances to see God's face. Circumstances lie to us just as our emotions do, yet because of His mercy, God has given us His word to remind generation after generation of His character. Not only are we blessed with promises like Romans 8:17, Ephesians 1:11-14, Psalm 116:1-2, and 2 Peter 3:9; but we are privy to tales of God's beloved; people in history who loved, trusted and even failed God through great trial.

In this day we have been blessed with a spy glass into the nature of God showing us how He has kept His promises. So many stories like that of Job, Elisha, Ruth, Daniel, David show us a pattern of grace. It may be impossible for us to see the light at the end of our personal tunnel, but we are aware of God's pattern of love and care for His people. Ultimately, we know that Jesus in His glory awaits us in eternity and that is the greatest gift we can't imagine. Yet, as in the cases of Job, Joseph and as Peter may have alluded to in 1 Peter 5:10, God will also bless us in this life for His glory as well. Be it blessings of wisdom, knowledge of God or:

Genesis 50:20

20As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

This Scripture encapsulates the entire story of Joseph. After being sold into slavery by his brothers, taking false charges of rape and enduring years in a dungeon, Joseph had every right to want revenge on his brothers. Instead, he sees that God used his circumstances to stage the greatest hunger relief program of the ancient world.

There are many things that we are suffering in now that, when we look back, we will see the sovereign hand of God guiding us.

Today's commentary by:
Dave Whitehead, Senior Pastor,

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Joy in Swinging

I don't think i ever realized the joy that could be found in swinging; but on my walk today i decided to stop by Veteran Park and swing. Is it weird that i was having more fun than the little girl sitting under the slide? And i am certain the soccer players thought i was un poco loco. But as they looked on in confusion, i looked up swinging with my Abba.

"I see Your face in every sunrise
The colors of the morning are inside Your eyes
The world awakens in the light of the day
I look up to the sky and say
You’re beautiful"

Monday, September 14, 2009

At Evening Time It Shall be Light

Here are some excerpts from, Joy in Life's Hard Times by Charles Spurgeon "At evening time it shall be light"
Find the entire article here

"Whenever philosophers wish to establish a general law, they think it necessary to collect a considerable number of individual instances; these being put together, they then infer from them a general rule. Happily, this need not be done with regard to God. We have no need, when we look abroad in providence to collect a great number of incidents, and then from them infer the truth; for since God is immutable, one act of His grace is enough to teach us the rule of His conduct. Now, I find, in one place, it is recorded that, on a certain occasion, during a certain adverse condition of a nation, God promised that at evening time it should be light. . . when I find this written in the Book of God, that on a certain occasion when it was evening time with His people God was pleased to give them light, I feel myself more than justified in deducing from it the rule, that always to His people at evening time there shall be light. . .

"We shall have our sinrises, our meridian noon, and then the sinking in the west; we shall have our sweet dawnings of better days, our Reformations, our Luthers, and our Calvins; we shall have our bright full noon-tide, when the gospel is fully preached, and the power of God is known; we shall have our sunset of ecclesiastical weakness and decay. But just as sure as the evening-tide seems to be drawing over the church, "at evening time it shall be light."

However red with blood, however black with sin the world may yet be, she shall one day be as pure and perfect as when she was created. The day shall come when this poor planet shall find herself unrobed of those swaddling bands of darkness that have kept her lustre from breaking forth. . .

"Well, Christian, thou hast after that had a sunset; the sun which shone so brightly, began to cast his rays in a more oblique manner every moment, until at last the shadows were long, for the sun was setting, and the clouds began to gather; and though the light of God's countenance tinged those clouds with glory, yet it was waxing dark. Then troubles lowered o'er thee; thy family sickened, thy wife was dead, thy crops were meagre, and thy daily income was diminished, thy cupboard was no more full, thou wast wondering for thy daily bread; thou didst not know what should become of thee, mayhap thou wast brought very low; the keel of thy vessel did grate upon the rocks; there was not enough bounty to float thy ship above the rocks of poverty. You used both industry and economy, and you added thereunto perseverance; but all in vain. It was in vain that you rose up early, and sat up late, and ate the bread of carefulness; nothing could you do to deliver yourself, for all attempts failed. You were ready to die in despair. You thought the night of your life had gathered with eternal blackness. You would not live always, but had rather depart from this vale of tears. Was it not light with thee at evening time? The time of thine extremity was just the moment of God's opportunity. When the tide had run out to its very furthest, then it began to turn; thine ebb had its flow; thy winter had its summer; thy sunset had its sunrise; "at evening time it was light." On a sudden by some strange work of God as thou didst think then, thou was completely delivered. He brought out thy righteousness like the light, and thy glory as the noonday. The Lord appeared for thee in the days of old; He stretched out His hand from above; He drew thee out of deep waters; He set thee upon a rock and established thy goings.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Not so Lil' Update

It has been a little over five months since i was diagnosed and i am pleased to say that i no longer have chronic pain. I still have pain - and i'll explain why in a bit - but it is so minimal compared to what it was before. God answers prayers. Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no, and sometimes not yet; but He always answers. To the request of Him to take away this physical pain that has been in my body for four years, He has answered, "Yes,"! Praise God and thank you all who have kept me in your prayers!

So, what is the diagnosis? I realize i never clearly laid it out for you. Mainly because of my self-conscientiousness. It is a bit complicated and takes some explaining and an open mind... here it goes...

I have been diagnosed with what medicine calls, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with Somatization. Most people know what PTSD is but Somatization isn't so well known. The full term (which i don't like to use because of the connotation the first part of the word may evoke) is Psychosomatization, which basically means (psyche = mind, soma = body) that emotional/spiritual pain is manifested in physical pain. The diagnosis helps to understand what is happening, however, i think sometimes we use diagnoses as excuses for our behavior instead of actually pursuing the hard work of healing the heart issue. I prefer to say that i have a troubled soul that Christ is healing as i will and work.

So what do you do for that?
Most doctors will prescribe mood altering medication and psychiatric therapy. I do not recommend either. Before i was diagnosed, my neurologist put me on Cymbalta for the pain. It is a medication that changes the chemical balance in your brain. Originally it was for depression and anxiety but later was found to help relieve nerve pain and Fibromyalgia. I sought out wise counsel and we decided (at the time with the limited information that we had) it was a good decision to take the medication. I believe we made the right decision at that time but Cymbalta did not help the pain and made me more emotionally numb. If you are told you have anxiety or depression, i do not recommend mood altering medication. If you look on the site, it is said, "The exact way Cymbalta works in people is unknown." Sounds dangerous to me and i can tell you, the side effects and withdrawals are not exactly a breezy walk in the park.

As for psychiatry and therapy - i do not recommend those either. Most ideas you will be taught will only help you become more selfish and introspective which can potentially make your spiritual condition worse. There are some helpful insights from psychology (which my bff Beth can tell you more about than i can) but if it is not applied through the lens of the Gospel, it can be damaging. My suggestion is Biblical Counseling.

Hebrews 4:12-16 says, "12For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. 14Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

Who better to help you heal that the One who knows all?
The Word became flesh in the God-man Jesus Christ, the ultimate healer.

Since i have begun fighting repression to deal with the sin thrust upon me and my sinful reactions to such, the somatization has almost completely reversed. My body is still pretty weak due to the duration of the chronic pain, as well as pain relapses from time to time when i get really overwhelmed, but no longer is it crazy pain every minute of every day. It is an important step, but i will tell you that spiritual pain is far worse than physical pain could ever be. It makes me dwell on that moment on the cross when Jesus experienced spiritual death. His body and mind were tortured but it was the spiritual pain of being separated from the Father that made Him cry out.

So far, Christ has helped me begin to win the perhaps continual battle against depression and anxiety; which (in my case) are sinful reactions. The PTSD however is still visceral. A slammed door, loud footsteps and metal clanging against metal are a few things that cause a reaction that seems to be in my body separate from my logical and rational mind. This is helped by taking every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), holding fast to the Word and remembering that God is sovereign. My plan now is to study the doctrine of adoption that says those who are in Christ are given not a spirit of fear but that of adoption (Romans 8:15, 23), predestined to be adopted through Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:5; Galatians 1:5).

Unfortunately Arnie is still alive and well yet provides opportunities to work out my faith. So the plan for Thriving with Arnie now is to keep you updated on resources and insights i find as a result of the studying to come.

For anyone struggling to believe that God could have loved you so much that He has smitten His perfect son to adopt you, i highly recommend listening to C.J. Mahaney's sermon, God as Father: Understanding the Doctrine of Adoption as well as reading, Adopted for Life by Russel Moore and chapter 19 of Knowing God by JI Packer as recommended to me by my pastor. C.J. also recommends Children of the Living God, by Sinclare Ferguson and Adopted into Gods Family by Trevor Burke.

Love is terrifying and God has shown it will cost you everything, yet we receive the merciful love of God. It is not an even trade - we receive so much more!

Friday, September 4, 2009


Ezekiel 1:22-28

22Over the heads of the living creatures there was the likeness of an expanse, shining like awe-inspiring crystal [a surface like the sky, glittering like crystal-NLT; looking like the terrible and awesome [dazzling of shining] crystal or ice-AMP; like the awesome gleam of crystal-NASB; qerach-> keh'·rakh-> frost, ice, crystal], spread out above their heads. 23And under the expanse their wings were stretched out straight, one toward another. And each creature had two wings covering its body. 24And when they went, I heard the sound of their wings like the sound of many waters, like the sound of the Almighty, a sound of tumult like the sound of an army. When they stood still, they let down their wings. 25And there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads. When they stood still, they let down their wings.

26And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. 27And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him. 28Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around.

Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell [naphal-> nä·fal'->to fall (of violent death)] on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

Ezekiel 2:1-3, 14-15

1And he said to me, "Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you." 2And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. 3And he said to me, "Son of man, I send you..."

With what message has He sent you? What would the LORD have you do today?

14 "The Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness in the heat [chemah -> khā·mä' -> hot displeasure, indignation, rage] of my spirit, the hand of the LORD being strong [chazaq -> khä·zäk' ->severe, sharp, hot] upon me. 15 And I came to the exiles at Tel-abib, who were dwelling by the Chebar canal, and I sat where they were dwelling. And I sat there overwhelmed [`ataph -> ä·taf' -> faint, swoon, fail, feeble] among them seven days."

When was the last time you sat dumbfounded by the LORD for seven days? Seven hours? ... minutes?
... seconds?