Thursday, June 28, 2012

Shame Interrupted: He Knows My Name

I just started reading Ed Welch's blog series on shame. The blog highlights topics from his latest book Shame Interrupted: How God Lifts the Pain of Worthlessness & Rejection (New Growth Press).  I haven't gotten a hold of the book yet, but I have really been enjoying the blog. Check it out!

Shame Interrupted: He Knows My Name

Topics: Shame
Published: Jun 12, 2012

“Open a Bible at random and you will find God’s words speaking to those who live with shame.” I have said this many times and didn’t intend it as exaggeration. But I never put it to the test.

Eyes closed, I opened to… 1 Chronicles 3 and 4. As I scanned the pages, I saw-genealogies! How about best out of two?

I was just about to close the Bible and aim for a more likely passage, when I again noticed the many names. So many names. In a sea of Israelites, God sees individual people and knows their names.

That reminded me of a story.

A mission team from our church was in Ivory Park, a destitute township outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. They were doing kids clubs and were overwhelmed with hundreds of orphans.
What should the team do? They planned crafts for about one hundred. What about some songs? Donna Buddemeier had an inspired thought.
“Let’s sing, ‘He Knows My Name.’”
I have a Maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in his hand
He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And hears me when I call

Hundreds of children sang this song—many of them having no one who knows their name. They sang with smiles and hand motions. They sang loud and with layered harmonies that rivaled the Soweto Gospel Choir. Witness it and tears stream down your cheeks and your faith in Christ soars, as you believe your Maker might even know your name too.

“Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5). When someone important knows your name, your heart responds—you have been honored! The important person is associating with you.

When you are known by name, you have found favor in the eyes of the person who speaks it (Exodus 33:12).

But best of all is that those who have identified themselves as being with Jesus carry a new name. Those who experience shame often say that their name is shame.  Though they are blessed to be known by name, they still feel . . . dirty. A new name, therefore, is just what they need. As people sometimes take on a new name in marriage, so we will all have a new name that identifies us.
They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads (Rev. 22:4)

You might have a hard time believing all this at first, but then read another Bible story, and then—another. They bear witness to the God who “knows” you, in the very best sense. After a few dozen more stories about the Father’s unique interest in the discarded and outcast, you must give up and believe.

He knows your name and will also give you his.
{"He Knows My Name" lyrics by Tommy Walker.}

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Craft Day

Here are a couple projects inspired by meanderings on Pinterest.

Grease board from items in my storage bin.

 This is just an old frame, a cheap sage pillow case and a coaster. I wrote verses to memorize and encouraging quotes so if I am stuck in bed that day I have encouragement right in front of me. On "bad" days it is easy to get discouraged and lonely so having God's word big, bold and right in front of me helps. In the corner, I put a picture my boyfriend took in Korea to remind me to pray for Korea. Praying for others is so helpful to keep from self-loathing... and this reminds me how wonderful my boyfriend is and I get to pray for him.

 Jewelry organizer out of an old frame, lace, a guarder and push pins.

 I tried to hang my earrings on the lace but the lace kept drooping. Thankfully, the elastic from the guarder was strong enough. It was nice to put some of my old dance and acting stuff to use!

I really didn't want to spend any money on this project so instead of buying hooks I used some pushpins. At first they didn't hold, so I had to hammer them in. Nothing super spiritual here... other than the organization keeps me from losing my mind. :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Christ, Satan and Us

 Some of my favorite quotes about Satan:

"There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them." -C.S. Lewis

"The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." -Martin Luther

"Satan does not care whether he drags you down to hell as a Calvinist or as an Arminian, so long as he can get you there." -Charles Hadden Spurgeon

"The devil as a serpent does more mischief than as a roaring lion. If we had to meet the devil, and knew him to be what he is, we might far more easily conquer him; but we have to deal with him disguised as an angel of light, and here is the need of an hundred eyes, each one of them opened by God, that we may see." -Charles Hadden Spurgeon

Father God, I thank You that because I am in Christ, Satan, the prince of this world, has no hold on me. (Prayer from Beth Moore's Praying God's Word, John 14:30) 

As Ray Ortund reminds us, we have authority in Christ and we are not unaware of the Emeny's schemes.

You have authority in Christ
You have authority in Christ avatar
  Ray Ortlund

“Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.”  Luke 10:19

In Dynamics of Spiritual Life, Richard Lovelace proposes that one of the “primary elements of continuous renewal” in a church is “authority in spiritual conflict,” pages 133-144.  We are not on the defensive.  We have authority from Christ himself.  The blows we do receive from Satan “come from a retreating enemy,” as Lovelace says, because of the decisive victory of Jesus on our behalf.
Lovelace draws from Scripture five fall-back strategies of Satan:

1.  Temptation
“The enemy strategy here is either to disfigure a Christian’s witness through public scandal, to gain some evidence through which his or her conscience can be accused and discouraged, or to weaken faith in the possibility of sanctification in some contested area.”

2.  Deception
“Negatively, demonic agents induce a strong conscious aversion to biblical truth, an inability to comprehend it and a distaste for what little can be understood. . . . Positively, the forces of darkness inspire and empower antichristian religious counterfeits . . . . The deceiving work of Satan can even be done in and through Christian believers, as Christ’s famous rebuke of Peter shows.”

3.  Accusation
“Demonic agents italicize the defects of Christians and the churches in the minds of unbelievers and cause true Christianity to be branded with the image of its own worst exemplars . . . . They are also particularly active in dividing Christians from one another into parties . . . . Finally, satanic forces attack Christians directly in their own minds with disturbingly accurate accounts of their faults, seeking to discourage those who are most eager and able to work for the kingdom.”

4.  Possession
“The Gospels plainly describe a condition in which human victims come almost helplessly under control of alien personalities.”

5.  Physical attack
“From data in the Gospels it appears that demonic agents can occasionally cause illness, at least psychological and neurological ailments like dumbness and epilepsy.”

More should be said about all this, and Lovelace does say more.  But he wisely affirms, “The battles we fight against [demonic powers] should not be occasions of anxiety.  They force us back to reliance on Christ’s redemptive work and enhance our dignity and authority as redeemed saints who have the power to judge angels.”

You have authority in Christ
You have authority in Christ avatar

is a post from: Ray Ortlund

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ministry Can Be Dangerous

Lord, Your timing is indeed perfect! The following is an adapted excerpt from Tim Keller's article, Ministry Can Be Dangerous. You can download the full article here.

It is always gratifying to see Christians become active in church ministry rather than remain mere consumers of spiritual services. There is nothing so fulfilling as to see lives touched and changed through your service, whether you are a volunteer, lay leader, church officer, or staff member.
But the Bible sounds a cautionary note. By its very nature, Christian leadership involves extolling the glory and beauty of God above all else. It means pointing others to God’s worth and beauty even when your own heart is numb to any sense of divine love and glory. As someone who ministers to others, how will you survive when that happens? Following are two things to remember.

1. Do Watch Your Heart

The first—and right—thing to do is to watch your heart with far more diligence than you would have otherwise, and to be very disciplined in observing regular times of daily prayer. In these times you may find your heart warming to God’s reality. Prayer can fan the flame of that reality, allowing you to speak to others out of your daily sustenance from God.
Even so, your heart may continue to feel spiritually dry or dead for an extended period. Such a condition requires that you keep your regular times of prayer even more diligently. Humbly acknowledge your dryness to God and set your heart to trust him and seek him despite it and during it. This deliberate act is itself a great step of spiritual growth and maturity. When you speak to God about your dryness, rather than avoiding prayer times, it reminds you of your weakness and dependence upon his grace for absolutely everything. It drives home the importance and preciousness of your standing in Christ.

2. Don’t Rely On the Excitement

The second—and wrong—thing is to rely not on prayer and your relationship with God but on the excitement of ministry activity and effectiveness. In this way you can begin to lean more on your spiritual gifts than on spiritual grace. In fact, you may mistake the operation of spiritual gifts for the operation of spiritual grace in your life.
Gifts are abilities God gives us to meet the needs of others in Christ’s name: speaking, encouraging, serving, evangelizing, teaching, leading, administering, counseling, discipling, organizing.
Graces, often called spiritual fruit, are beauties of character: love, joy, peace, humility, gentleness, self-control. Spiritual gifts are what we do; spiritual fruit is what we are.
Unless you understand the greater importance of grace and gospel-character for ministry effectiveness, the discernment and use of spiritual gifts may actually become a liability in your ministry. The terrible danger is that we can look to our ministry activity as evidence that God is with us or as a way to earn God’s favor and prove ourselves.

If our hearts remember the gospel and are rejoicing in our justification and adoption, then our ministry is done as a sacrifice of thanksgiving—and the result will be that our ministry is done in love, humility, patience, and tenderness.
But if our hearts are seeking self-justification and desiring to control God and others by proving our worth through our ministry performance, we will identify too closely with our ministry and make it an extension of ourselves. The telltale signs of impatience, irritability, pride, hurt feelings, jealousy, and boasting will appear. We will be driven, scared, and either too timid or too brash. And perhaps, away from the public glare, we will indulge in secret sins. These signs reveal that ministry as a performance is exhausting us and serves as a cover for pride in either one of its two forms, self-aggrandizement or self-hatred.

Here’s how this danger can begin. Your prayer life may be nonexistent, or you may have an unforgiving spirit toward someone, or sexual desires may be out of control. But you get involved in some ministry activity, which draws out your spiritual gifts. You begin to serve and help others, and soon you are affirmed by others and told what great things you are doing. You see the effects of your ministry and conclude that God is with you. But actually God was helping someone through your gifts even though your heart was far from him.
Eventually, if you don’t do something about your lack of spiritual fruit and instead build your identity on your spiritual gifts and ministry activity, there will be some kind of collapse. You will blow up at someone or lapse into some sin that destroys your credibility. And everyone, including you, will be surprised. But you should not be. Spiritual gifts without spiritual fruit is like a tire slowly losing air.

So let’s examine ourselves. Is our prayer life dead even though we’re effective in ministry? Do we struggle with feeling slighted? Are our feelings always being hurt? Do we experience anxiety and joylessness in our work? Do we find ourselves being highly critical of other churches or ministers or coworkers? Do we engage in self-pity? If these things are true, then our ministry may be skillful and successful, but it is hollow, and we are probably either headed for a breakdown or doomed to produce superficial results. Abraham Kuyper wrote that Phariseeism is like a shadow—it can be deepest and sharpest closest to the light.
Christian ministry changes people. It can make us far better or far worse Christians than we would have been otherwise, but it will not leave us unchanged.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Guilt and Shame

Guilt and Shame touch every heart.  For me, it is probably my biggest battle.  It is a battle against half truths and flat out lies about who we are.  The full Truth is that Jesus Christ bore our sin-shame and victimization-shame on the cross.  He took the punishment we deserve.  He took the shame that results from our sins and the sins of others against us.  But will we accept His gift?  Will we accept His forgiveness and/or accept His healing and give that shame up to Him?

Jesus rose from the cross. Shame remains nailed to the cross.  In His resurrection, Jesus conquered sin, Satan, death, hell and absorbed the wrath of God. We can be freed from our guilt and shame if we would only give it (and ourselves) to the Lord Jesus.  You can be freed from guilt and shame if you surrender it (and yourself) to the Lord Jesus. 

Recently the CCEF (Christian Counseling and Education Foundation) and Ed Welch have been speaking out on topics of guilt and shame.  In October there will be a conference where teachers will be addressing shame.  Check it out.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Where We are is of God

CT:  You seem to have a strong sense of place, of the importance of one’s location.

EP:  I enjoy reading the poet-farmer Wendell Berry.  He takes a small piece of land in Kentucky, respects it, cares for it, submits himself to it just as an artist submits himself to his materials.  I read Berry, and every time he speaks of “farm” and “land” I insert “parish.” . . . The pastor’s question is, “Who are these particular people, and how can I be with them in such a way that they can become what God is making them?”  My job is simply to be there, teaching, preaching Scripture as well as I can, and being honest with them, not doing anything to interfere with what the Spirit is shaping in them.

CT:  What does it mean to experience all the material of our lives as an act of faith?

EP:  That I’m responsible for paying attention to the Word of God right here in this locale.  The assumption of spirituality is that always God is doing something before I know it.  So the task is not to get God to do something I think needs to be done, but to become aware of what God is doing so that I can respond to it and participate and take delight in it.

CT:  As a pastor, then, you see grace in some unlikely situations.

EP:  Yes, and my job is not to solve people’s problems or make them happy, but to help them to see the grace that is operating in their lives.  It’s hard to do, because our whole culture is going the other direction, saying that if you’re smart enough and get the right kind of help, you can solve all your problems. . . . The work of spirituality is to recognize where we are — the particular circumstances of our lives — to recognize grace and say, “Do you suppose God wants to be with me in a way that does not involve changing my spouse or getting rid of my spouse or my kids, but in changing me, and doing something in my life that maybe I could never experience without this pain and this suffering?”

Interview with Eugene Peterson, Christianity Today, 3 April 1987, pages 25-26.

Where we are is of God
Where we are is of God avatar

is a post from: Ray Ortlund