I am broken. Always.

Broken Flame by Thien Bao

I remember attending a meeting at a church several years back and woman there making the comment, “We are all broken!” And in my heart, I rebelled against that statement. We are not broken, I thought. Jesus has healed us!  I was right in my thinking; but I found out this week that I was also wrong.

Jesus has healed us. But we are broken. Always. On this planet, in this flesh, we are broken.

It’s been a very long and difficult week. God, in His Sovereignty brought me face-to-face with the fact that being saved by His Son’s blood does not mean I can walk upright without falling. Yes, I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me, but do you know what I learned this week? There is always a little bit of something in me that is resistant to relying on Christ’s strength. Whether it’s a Rebellious Something, which wants to have its own way or a Proud Something, which wants to prove its ability or a Doubting Something, which thinks I’ve fallen on grace one too many times…

I am a broken gal this week. While I recognize (now) that I am forever in need of Christ’s rescuing from sin on this earth, the Proud Something in me is still kicking and screaming. But I WANT to be capable of pleasing You on my own! I can’t face You if I NEED You!!! It sounds silly to you, probably? It sounds silly to me. But so true, at the same time. I am not just painting a picture of a silly, rebellious child here; I am that child.

So why am I here today? What am I trying to say? This is definitely one of my lesser-prepared posts — okay, completely unprepared. A stream of consciousness, if you will.

I suppose I’m here today to let myself off the hook — and to let you off the hook too. I’m not perfect; I don’t have it all together; I love Jesus with all my heart but I still want to sin sometimes. A lot of the time. Several times a day, I want to sin. And I can not take ANY credit for the times I successfully resist sin, because even though I may be choosing to rely on Christ’s strength, I would FALL if He weren’t there. And I can claim no part whatsoever in ensuring that He is there for me; that is all Him.

So. Those of you who keep your distance because I paint too pretty a picture of myself, come closer. I am dirtier than you think, and quite possibly dirtier than you. If I have, in any way, led you to believe that there are trophies to achieve on this walk or leveling up to be done or successes to strive for, I apologize from the deepest depths of my heart. There is only one Trophy and that is Jesus. There is only one level you have to “pass” and that is embracing Him. There is only one success to be had, and it belongs to God. He successfully reconciled us to Him through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

If you don’t believe that I am all that dirty, I will humbly muddy up a private message for you. But it’s not about me, so be prepared for a diligent mopping up with the gospel of Jesus Christ and how He has forgiven me.

*sigh* I’m still sad, inside, at just how…incapable I am of doing the right thing every time. However, I’m also thankful and filled with peace. My Deliverer is coming, and until then, He is standing by. My Jesus is mine and I am His.

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When I Feel Desperate Without Vision…You Wrap Around Me Like A Winter Coat

From a non-Christian’s perspective:

+ I have a diabolical plan to convert as many people to “my religion” as possible, so I can move up in the pyramid scheme of Christianity.
+ I’m manipulative and sneaky, and everyone around me is being slowly brainwashed as I subject them to my “religious drivel”. 
+ I’m a tryant-in-training, with a long-term goal of taking away everyone’s freedom and forcing them to obey rigid rules and regulations.
 
What’s really happening:
+ I believe Hell is real and I cry sometimes, thinking about the reality that not all of my friends and loved ones will be in Heaven with me. I can’t even walk into a Starbucks without being aware of the fact that every single one of those people will end up in Heaven or Hell. Everyone has an eternal destination.
+ I’m terrified of pushing someone even further from the life-saving truth, so I post Bible verses and inspirational quotes in the hopes that the Holy Spirit will move on their behalf and help them to see the reality of a Creator who loves us.
+ I’m learning to be like Jesus, with a long-term goal of freeing people from Satan’s deception so they can experience the joy that comes from “reading the manual” of life, as God wrote it. And I screw up royally sometimes.
 
I’m realizing that I’m a closet-evangelist. I don’t like Bible-thumpers and I don’t want to be a Bible-thumper, but in recent days, it’s becoming clear to me that no matter how honest, sincere, and loving I am in the sharing of my beliefs, 
+ there will be people who perceive me as a Bible-thumper, even a hateful, racist, bigoted one
+ there will be people who disagree with me
+ there will be people who (thankfully) love me in spite of disagreeing with me
+ there will be people who suddenly decide to hate me
+ there will be people who twist what I say to make it sound as hateful as possible
+ there will be people who try to use scripture against me, but use it incorrectly and then refuse to be enlightened on its contextual meaning. 
 
Jesus said the world will hate His followers, because the world hates HIM. And that helps. It prepares me for the sting of harsh words, for the sucker-punch of lies being told about me, for the pain of losing friends. 
 
But nothing soothes more than this: every hateful word, every rebuttal, every attack is a radar reading — it says I’m being heard. It means that someone else out there is quietly taking it all in and God is working in that person. And ultimately, all the hate that people think I’m spewing, that usually gets turned back on me? It gets turned into love: one more person who discovers the love that God has had for them all along. It turns into joy: angels rejoice every time someone decides to trust Jesus. It turns into freedom: one less person that Satan gets to destroy. 
 
I will not give up in sharing my faith, because in due time, I will reap a harvest. People will know the truth and the truth will set them free. The numbers I reach will be a pittance compared to people like Paul and Mother Theresa, but it will be more than none and that is enough to keep me going. Because Hell is real and I don’t want anyone I love to go there. I don’t even want my enemies to go there. ♥
___
What can I do with my obsession?
With the things I cannot see
Is there madness in my being?
Is it wind that blows the trees?
Sometimes You’re further than the moon
Sometimes You’re closer than my skin
And You surround me like a winter fog
You’ve come and burned me with a kiss
And my heart burns for You
And my heart burns
And I’m so filthy with my sin
I carry pride like a disease
You know I’m stubborn God and I’m longing
to be close
You burn me deeper than I know
I feel lonely without hope
I feel desperate without vision
You wrap around me like a winter coat
You come and free me like a bird
And my heart burns for You
And my heart burns for You

Jealous of God’s Ears

Every Sunday is a heavenly experience, literally. Can you imagine what it will be like to sing praises to God with EVERY SINGLE FOLLOWER OF CHRIST THAT HAS EVER EXISTED? Can you imagine what that will sound like? God gets to hear it every Sunday, as people all over the world gather together and worship Him through song.

You would think it sounds chaotic and noisy, but I have a hunch it’s a multi-dimensional, harmonious sound, something we can’t even FATHOM on this side of Heaven; and certainly something our current ears would be incapable of processing correctly.

There are two things about Christian culture today that make me very sad: division and apathy toward Heaven. Randy Alcorn pegged it in his book when he said that Satan can’t rob us of our joy, so his method is to make us ignorant and apathetic. Are you looking forward to Heaven? If the answer is no, then you’re probably not fully grasping what Heaven is like. I vehemently recommend reading Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven. It literally changed my life.

Every Sunday whets my appetite for Heaven, the presence of God, fellowship with believers, and the new, sin-free Earth. It’s going to be indescribable. ^_^

God WILL Give You More Than You Can Handle!

I see variations of this often:

“God never gives us more than we can handle!” (So chin up, be encouraged! This disaster you’re facing isn’t as disastrous as you think it is so YAY!)

The problem is, this is an untruth, and the spreading of it is actually resulting in deeper discouragment, feelings of failure and a debilitating sense of inadequacy for a lot of people.

The only verse in the Bible that even remotely comes close to the aforementioned sentiment is this one:

1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

It says He will not let you be TEMPTED beyond what you can bear (and, to further clarify, the writer is speaking to people who believe Jesus is their Savior).

As far as disaster is concerned, there are tons of scriptures referring to it in various ways, but they all underscore a very important point: GOD is our Rock, our Shelter, our Refuge and our Strength.

Philippians 4:13 says that we can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us. Would we really need Christ if God never gave us more than we could handle on our own? No, we wouldn’t.

The fact is, we DO need Christ and God DOES give us heavier burdens than we can handle often. He does this because He wants us to lean on Him; He wants to show us His power and He wants to show His love for us by being there for us!

Romans 8:28 says that God is working all things together for the good of those who love Him. There are some very important qualifiers in this verse:

1) All things: That means ‘everything’, from the job loss to the cold virus to the unpleasantness of changing poopy diapers several times a day. ALL things.

2) Good: This one is tricky, because we like to define ‘good’ as ‘pleasant, comfortable, easy’. But in reality, ‘good’ means

Adjective: To be desired or approved of.

Noun: That which is morally right; righteousness.

God is working all things for the good—toward an end result that is desired and approved of by Him. That end result (also according to scripture) is our righteousness, our being like Him. This sounds kind of boring and unappealing to most people but that’s because we forget that God is the creator of joy—and He sent Jesus so that our joy may be full! So the ultimate end result is our fullness of joy, and THIS, my friends, is good indeed.

3) Those who love Him: This is the most important part of this verse. If someone doesn’t love God, they will not have the same comfort that someone who *does* love God will have, during a trial or disaster. His benefits are for His followers. This is why it is so important for those of us who know Him to point others to Him, so they can experience the same comfort and strength that we do. The ‘comfort’ that the world offers is so empty…

So let’s summarize:
God WILL give us more than we can handle but He has GOOD INTENTIONS toward us, and being perfect like He is, His good intentions always bear good fruit. If you love God, He’s got your back. Life might be uncomfortable, unpleasant and hard, but the end result WILL be fullness of joy (and we get to experience a lot of joy even before the end result!).

So be encouraged! But be encouraged with Truth! The world’s version sounds good and even feels good, but when it doesn’t pan out as anticipated, you’ll end up even more discouraged than you were when the chips first fell. God’s Truth always pans out. Believe it so you can experience it.