Saturday, January 28, 2012

Gospel + safety + time

"It’s what everyone needs.  Everyone.  Gospel + safety + time.  A lot of gospel + a lot of safety + a lot of time.

Gospel: good news for bad people through the finished work of Christ on the cross and the present power of the Holy Spirit.  Multiple exposures.  Constant immersion.  Wave upon wave of grace and truth, according to the Bible.

Safety: a non-accusing environment.  No finger-pointing.  No embarrassing anyone.  No manipulation.  No oppression.  No condescension.  But respect and sympathy and understanding, where sinners can confess and unburden their souls.

Time: no pressure.  Not even self-imposed pressure.  No deadlines on growth.  No rush.  No hurry.  But a lot of space for complicated people to rethink their lives at a deep level.  If we relax, trusting in God’s patience, we actually get going.

This is what our churches must be: gentle environments of gospel + safety + time.  It’s the only way anyone can ever change.

Who doesn’t need that?"

Gospel + safety + time

Gospel + safety + time avatar
is a post from: Ray Ortlund

Thursday, January 26, 2012

"And of his fulness have all we received." — John 1:16

     These words tell us that there is a fulness in Christ. There is a fulness of essential Deity, for "in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead." There is a fulness of perfect manhood, for in Him, bodily, that Godhead was revealed. There is a fulness of atoning efficacy in His blood, for "the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin." There is a fulness of justifying righteousness in His life, for "there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." There is a fulness of divine prevalence in His plea, for "He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him; seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them." There is a fulness of victory in His death, for through death He destroyed him that had the power of death, that is the devil. There is a fulness of efficacy in His resurrection from the dead, for by it "we are begotten again unto a lively hope." There is a fuIness of triumph in His ascension, for "when He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and received gifts for men." There is a fulness of blessings of every sort and shape; a fulness of grace to pardon, of grace to regenerate, of grace to sanctify, of grace to preserve, and of grace to perfect. There is a fulness at all times; a fulness of comfort in affliction; a fulness of guidance in prosperity. A fulness of every divine attribute, of wisdom, of power, of love; a fulness which it were impossible to survey, much less to explore. "It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell." Oh, what a fulness must this be of which all receive! Fulness, indeed, must there be when the stream is always flowing, and yet the well springs up as free, as rich, as full as ever. Come, believer, and get all thy need supplied; ask largely, and thou shalt receive largely, for this "fulness" is inexhaustible, and is treasured up where all the needy may reach it, even in Jesus, Immanuel--God with us.

C.H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Victory in Chronic Pain

This morning begins a hard day. I have a chest cold which magnifies the chronic pain and fatigue already in my frail little frame. So I am home alone again waiting for church service to be over in hopes someone can come hang out with me.

So I am home alone doing the last thing I probably should be - looking at Fibromyalgia sites. This past week I have been researching doctors as my last Fibromyalgia doctor doesn't believe FMS is debilitating. He clearly doesn't have it. FMS is so tricky because no one can see the disability - and there is no diagnostic test that will prove it on paper. I need a doctor that will believe me, then progress can be made. Anyway, I stumbled onto a couple websites that intrigued me. The first, Living With Fibromyalgia, is a great explanation of what FMS feels like and the repercussions on one's life. The other, What Your Doctor Doesn't Know About Fibromyalgia, by Linda Melenk MD.

Both are great descriptions of the suffering that goes on beyond the physical pain itself. The first was accurate but pretty depressing. Line after line I heard in my heart, "But there is Hope! Living Hope amidst the pain!" The second one ended like this,
"FMS isn’t listed on a death certificate as a cause of death, but it can be deadly. FMS patients die from drug overdoses, lethal combinations of drugs, heart attacks and strokes caused by unendurable pain, withdrawal from drugs, and other causes linked to FMS. Sure, it would be easier for me to write that we are all going to recover completely immediately. Too many times, the helpful books I read (and there are some that were not) didn’t seem to address the panic, helplessness, despair, and severity of pain I was feeling. “If we can just keep our patients alive long enough to find a treatment,” my pain doctor said once, sighing as she handed me a prescription for Percocet. This is the story of staying alive."

My heart aches to hear this. Here, hope is placed in the treatment. Yes, finding someone to believe you is helpful. Yes, finding treatment that works is helpful. However, if we are relying on that next treatment, that next person to believe and understand, we are again trapped. We are chasing yet another carrot. I understand and will not deny the importance of an understanding support system and medical treatment. However, I want to scream on a mountain top, There is Hope for joy! This pain isn't for not! There is victory through the pain! There is One who will always understand, Who will never grow weary of you, Who is never overwhelmed by the length and breadth of your need, Who is the Great Physician, Who always wants to hear you cry out to Him! A doctor says, “If we can just keep our patients alive long enough to find a treatment,”, I say, Hear me and I will show you to the One and Only who will give you life long after treatment is found and He will give you life abundant even if treatment is never found.

The Great Physician promises: our present sufferings cannot be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us; we are more than conquerors in Him; though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day; He will give us a spirit not of fear but a spirit of power, love and self-control; your perseverance in pain will result in praise and glory and honor; you will have inexpressible and glorious joy! Why can He promise these things? Because He has overcome this world. He has conquered death. These, and everything in heaven and earth are all His to give. He is pleased to do so. Who? The Father, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Son, Jesus the Christ. The Holy Spirit, comforter and guide. The Most High God can address your panic, helplessness, despair and carry you through the most severe pain. His is not a story of simply staying alive or bearing down in pain. His is a story of abundant life in perseverance and eternal (pain and sorrow free) life beyond this one. Call out to Him and He will answer.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Overcomer

"To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the Tree Of Life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God"
Revelation 2:7

    No man may turn his back in the day of battle or refuse to go to the holy war. We must fight if we would reign, and we must carry on the warfare till we overcome every enemy, or else this promise is not for us, since it is only for "him that overcometh." We are to overcome the false prophets who have come into the world and all the evils which accompany their teaching. We are to overcome our own faintness of heart and tendency to decline from our first love. Read the whole of the Spirit's word to the church at Ephesus. If by grace we win the day, as we shall if we truly follow our conquering Leader, then we shall be admitted to the very center of the paradise of God and shall be permitted to pass by the cherub and his flaming sword and come to that guarded tree, whereof if a man eat, he shall live forever. We shall thus escape that endless death which is the doom of sin and gain that everlasting life which is the seal of innocence, the outgrowth of immortal principles of Godlike holiness. Come, my heart, pluck up courage! To flee the conflict will be to lose the joys of the new and better Eden; to fight unto victory is to walk with God in paradise. 
C.H. Spurgeon