Mudslides – Part Two

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
    and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
    out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
    and steadied me as I walked along.
Psalm 40:1-2

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid rock, I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand.
“The Solid Ground”

 


 

 

MUDSLIDESWe’re exploring mudslides of a personal nature.

Here are five testimonies.

Moses said to God, ‘Why are you treating me this way? Why dump the responsibility of this people on me?  I can’t do this by myself—it’s too much, all these people. If this is how you intend to treat me, do me a favor and kill me. I’ve seen enough; I’ve had enough. Let me out of here’.”

When Queen Jezebel heard what Elijah had done, she sent this message to Elijah: ‘You killed my prophets, and now I swear by the gods that I am going to kill you by this time tomorrow night.’ So Elijah fled for his life. He went into the wilderness, traveling all day, and sat down under a broom bush and prayed that he might die. ‘I’ve had enough,’ he told the Lord. ‘Take away my life. I’ve got to die sometime, and it might as well be now,’ Then he lay down and slept beneath the broom bush.”

This is Job. “If my misery could be weighed, if you could pile the whole bitter load on the scales, It would be heavier than all the sand of the sea! Is it any wonder that I’m screaming like a caged cat? Let God step on me—squash me like a bug, and be done with me for good.
Where’s the strength to keep my hopes up? What future do I have to keep me going? Do you think I have nerves of steel? Do you think I’m made of iron? Do you think I can pull myself up by my bootstraps?

Here’s Jeremiah. “Let the day my mother bore me be cursed. Let my birth notice be blacked out, deleted from the records, Why did I ever leave that womb? Life’s been nothing but trouble and tears, and what’s coming is more of the same.”

Lastly, consider David. “I’ve had my fill of trouble; I’m camped on the edge of hell. I’m written off as a lost cause, one more statistic, a hopeless case. Abandoned as already dead, one more body in a stack of corpses, And not so much as a gravestone—I’m a black hole in oblivion.

 

A cancer victim joins a group of survivors. She hears the stories of those who have also experienced the mudslide of cancer. Gradually, she is both comforted, encouraged and motivated. She is not alone!

 So it is with us. We’re not alone!

More about that next time.

Let God define you

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10)

All of creation is content to be what it was made to be, except man. Fish flourish in water. Ants are not depressed about their size; they are productive, building massive colonies. We waste time aiming at the bull’s-eye on someone else’s board, pursuing a race we were never equipped to run.

masterpieceLet God, not you or the culture, define you and your distinction. You are His masterpiece. There are more than 7 billion people in the world, but no one exactly like you. Nothing about you is a mistake because God doesn’t make mistakes. He took extreme care in sculpting you with everything you need for accomplishing His purpose. When God created you, it was with a predetermined course in mind, an assignment just for you. “Everything got started in Him and finds its purpose in Him” (Colossians 1:17). Because you are His creation, it’s important that God defines you and no one else. You will be tempted to forget this from time to time because so many competing forces want that opportunity: you, your family, friends, coworkers, enemies, and the media. You must resist them all. If you don’t, you will never become all God intended you to be. I admit it’s easier to adapt to someone else’s concept of you, accept that label (even if it’s negative), or mimic a friend than to spend quality time developing an intimate relationship with the only One who knows why you are here in the first place. Quality relationships always take work.

Before you were born, God selected your parents, your intellect, your looks, your race, your gifts, and your talents. Your mother may have told you that you were a mistake. Maybe for her, but not for God because He doesn’t make mistakes. It doesn’t matter the circumstances of your birth, planned or unplanned. God was not caught sleeping that day. You were in His mind before you were born. God told Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). Notice that Jeremiah did not stop God mid-sentence to tell Him about his dreams or visions for his life. He didn’t ask God to orchestrate his long-held desires. Jeremiah recognized that the sovereign God of the universe, Who created everything, and Who knows everything about everything, was speaking. Jeremiah’s Creator told him, “I knew you before the sexual act occurred that created you. I set you apart because I have a distinct assignment, an appointment for you.”

Those words don’t only apply to Jeremiah. Yes, the assignment was specific, to be a prophet at a particular time to a particular people, but the God of Jeremiah is living today and does not change. He has a specific role for you. It may be in your home, on your job, in your neighborhood, or on the world’s grand stage. It is uniquely crafted for you. He ordained that you would be alive now to accomplish it. What I love about letting God define us is that what He has in mind is usually more massive and exciting than we could ever imagine. Our race, gender, looks, pedigree, intelligence, natural abilities, and age cannot hold us back when we are in sync with His purpose. There is no greater joy than knowing that you are right where God wants you to be, doing exactly what He had in mind for you. —Cheryl Martin, Distinctly You

Christ and creation—Jesus: the tool of construction

Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:24)

In the last post in this series, we learned that whereas the Father “is the ultimate source of all things,” Jesus is the Father’s construction agent. The obvious next question is: how did Jesus do it? How exactly did He construct the cosmos? What did He use to get the job done? The answer is simple but exceedingly profound.

God is the One Who used His power and made the earth. He used His wisdom and built the world” (Jeremiah 10:12). The foundation of what IS … is God’s power and wisdom. I suspect that you understand the word “power.” Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki? However, the word “wisdom” is a bit more difficult to grasp, especially from the Hebrew perspective. We’re more acquainted with “knowledge,” the accumulation of facts and figures.

So, check this out: “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I have specifically chosen Bezalel. I have giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. He is able to design pieces to be made from gold, silver, and bronze, to cut jewels and put them in metal, to carve wood, and to do all kinds of work. He’s a master at every craft!’” Bezalel’s profile captures the meaning of wisdom. Get the point?

Now, here’s profundity—“Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” As Father’s construction agent, Jesus himself is God’s power and wisdom at work in building and sustaining the universe. Just as the Sistine Chapel is a display of Michelangelo, the Creation is a grand display of Jesus! The material world is jam packed with His power and wisdom!

mandarin duckMeister Eckhart said: “Every creature is a word of God.” Here’s an illustration: a mandarin duck. What you observe in design and coloration is a display of Jesus, the Word! Perhaps we should learn to utter this simple prayer of Michelangelo: “Lord, make me see Thy glory in every place.”

Mental Health Monday—John Tesh and the struggle that nearly took his life

The people of Capernaum heard that Jesus was at home. Jesus was still teaching when four people came, carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. Because of the crowd, they could not get him to Jesus. So they made a hole in the roof above Him and let the man down in front of everyone. When Jesus saw how much faith they had, He said to the crippled man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and go on home.” The man got right up.  He picked up his mat and went out while everyone watched in amazement. (Mark 2:1-12)

Four people came, carrying a paralyzed man.” There are times when we’re spiritually paralyzed, unable to get ourselves to Jesus. Consider David’s words: “I am sinking in deep mud, and there is no solid ground; I am out in deep water, and the waves are about to drown me. I am worn out from calling for help, and my throat is aching. I have strained my eyes, looking for Your help.”

Jeremiah also described the condition: “He shuts me in so I’ll never get out, manacles my hands, shackles my feet. Even when I cry out and plead for help, He locks up my prayers and throws away the key. He sets up blockades with quarried limestone. He’s got me cornered.”

And, the great apostle Paul said this to the church at Corinth: We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death.”

At such times we need others to carry us to Jesus. We need others to bear our burdens—“Carry one another’s heavy loads. If you do, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” This is the time and place wherein Christian fellowship is tested. Will we do what Jesus did?

This is the story and testimony of John Tesh; yes, THE John Tesh. Listen carefully because someday YOU may be spiritually paralyzed!

Faith on Fridays—Faith and feelings

Faith in Jesus makes up the Mechanics of Life.

Elijah (1 Kings 19:3-5)—Terrified, Elijah quickly ran for his life. He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all—to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life!”

David (Psalm 22:1-2)—My God, my God, why have You abandoned me? Why are You so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to You, my God, but You do not answer. Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief.

Solomon (Ecclesiastes 2:17-20)—This made me hate life. It was depressing to think that everything in this life is useless, like trying to catch the wind. That’s when I called it quits, gave up on anything that could be hoped for on this earth.”

Jeremiah (Lamentations 3:20)—I gave up on life altogether. I said to myself, “This is it. I’m finished.”

Paul (2 Corinthians 1:8)—We do not want you to be uninformed about the troubles we experienced in Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.

Elijah, David, Solomon, Jeremiah and Paul—these were heavy hitters in the realm of faith! YET, they experienced and expressed deep emotion! Conclusion: faith and feelings are not mutually exclusive. Emotion is part of the original human package. Look at the Model: “Jesus saw Mary weeping, and He saw how the people with her were weeping also; His heart was touched, and He was deeply moved. ‘Where have you buried Lazarus?’ He asked them. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they answered. Jesus wept” (John 11:30-33).

To ignore, repress, or dismiss our feelings is to fail to listen to the stirrings of the Spirit within our emotional life. The gospel portrait of the beloved Child of Abba is that of a man exquisitely attuned to His emotions and uninhibited in expressing them. The Son of Man did not scorn or reject feelings as fickle and unreliable. They were sensitive antennae to which He listened carefully and through which He perceived the will of His Father for congruent speech and action.” —Brennan Manning

Here’s practical advice for balancing faith and feelings: “Buffeted by the fickle winds of failure, battered by their own unruly emotions, and bruised by rejection and ridicule, authentic disciples may stumble and frequently fall, endure lapses and relapses, get handcuffed to the fleshpots and wander into a far county. Yet, they keep coming back to Jesus” (Manning). Why? “Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.” —C.S. Lewis

Check back next Friday as we continue our Faith on Fridays series.