Tag Archive for healing

Receive The Grace That Is In Front of You

A hand held out to receive grace

No matter where you are grace is right in front of you.

There are days when I struggle just to acknowledge the sovereignty of God over everything. I was having one of those days a couple of weeks ago. In fact it had stretched out from being one of those days to being one of those weeks. I was spiritually coasting and I was needing to get my eyes and my heart back on Jesus. One evening later that week I was spending time with one of my brothers in the Lord and he said something that has stuck with me everyday since then. He said something to the effect of “receive the grace that is in front of you.”

Normally a comment like that would slip right by, but the Holy Spirit used the comment and the giver of the comment to teach me two very important things:

1. I need to spend time with my brothers and sisters in Christ as often as possible. This goes way beyond seeing them at a church service. I mean living life together so that I get this kind of gospel encouragement daily. This will keep me from being led away by my own deceitful heart (Hebrews 3:12-14).

2. No matter where I am and what I have done, grace is always right in front of me and it is greater than my sin. I don’t know about you but there are days at work when I have blown it. I have not used my time wisely or done my work as unto the Lord. Maybe I have had a lustful thought or just have been selfish and prideful. On days like that I just want a do-over. Instead of a do-over, Jesus is standing there holding out His arms as if to say, “If you will forsake your sin I will heal you and give you joy” (I John 1:9).

There is so much hope in knowing that Jesus will always be there for me. That He is reaching out to me through my brothers and sisters in Christ. That His grace is ever before me if I would but leave my sin behind and come to Him empty handed to be filled. That’s grace. That’s worship. That’s good.

Who Needs Christmas?

This Article In It’s Entirety Is Re-Posted From Matt Redmond’s Blog

Christmas Is for Those Who Hate It Most

By: Matt B. Redmond

We are by now accustomed to hearing about how Christmas is difficult for many people. The story of Scrooge and his—ehem—problems with this season is no longer anecdotal. It is now par for the course. Maybe it always has been. Maybe the joy of the season has always been a thorn in the side of those who can scarcely imagine joy.

Not too long ago, I heard from someone about how difficult Christmas would be because of some heartbreak in their family. There was utter hopelessness and devastation. Christmas would be impossible to enjoy because of the freshness of this pain. It’s been a story very hard to forget.

I get it. I mean, it makes sense on the level of Christmas being a time in which there is a lot of heavily concentrated family time. The holidays can be tense in even the best of circumstances. Maneuvering through the landmines of various personalities can be hard even if there is no cancer, divorce or empty seat at the table. What makes it the most wonderful time of the year is also what makes it the most brutal time of the year. My own family has not been immune to this phenomenon.

But allow me to push back against this idea a little. Gently. I think we have it all backwards. We have it sunk deep into our collective cultural consciousness that Christmas is for the happy people. You know, those with idyllic family situations enjoyed around stocking-strewn hearth dreams. Christmas is for healthy people who laugh easily and at all the right times, right? The successful and the beautiful, who live in suburban bliss, can easily enjoy the holidays. They have not gotten lost on the way because of the GPS they got last year. They are beaming after watching a Christmas classic curled up on the couch as a family in front of their ginormous flat-screen. We live and act as if this is who should be enjoying Christmas.

But this is backwards. Christmas—the great story of the incarnation of the Rescuer—is for everyone, especially those who need a rescue. Jesus was born as a baby to know the pain and sympathize with our weaknesses. Jesus was made to be like us so that in his resurrection we can be made like him; free from the fear of death and the pain of loss. Jesus’ first recorded worshipers were not of the beautiful class. They were poor, ugly shepherds, beat down by life and labor. They had been looked down on over many a nose.

Jesus came for those who look in the mirror and see ugliness. Jesus came for daughters whose fathers never told them they were beautiful. Christmas is for those who go to “wing night” alone. Christmas is for those whose lives have been wrecked by cancer, and the thought of another Christmas seems like an impossible dream. Christmas is for those who would be nothing but lonely if not for social media. Christmas is for those whose marriages have careened against the retaining wall and are threatening to flip over the edge. Christmas is for the son whose father keeps giving him hunting gear when he wants art materials. Christmas is for smokers who cannot quit even in the face of a death sentence. Christmas is for prostitutes, adulterers, and porn stars who long for love in every wrong place. Christmas is for college students who are sitting in the midst of the family and already cannot wait to get out for another drink. Christmas is for those who traffic in failed dreams. Christmas is for those who have squandered the family name and fortune—they want “home” but cannot imagine a gracious reception. Christmas is for parents watching their children’s marriage fall into disarray.

Christmas is really about the gospel of grace for sinners. Because of all that Christ has done on the cross, the manger becomes the most hopeful place in a universe darkened with hopelessness. In the irony of all ironies, Christmas is for those who will find it the hardest to enjoy. It really is for those who hate it most.

Merry Christmas from Clapham Community!

Confession Or Isolation?

God uses community to help us confess and gain victory over sin.

I recently had the privilege of seeing a very funny and yet very haunting movie. The name of the film was Get Low. It stars Robert Duvall (pictured left) as the lead character, an old hermit named Felix Bush. The film, supposedly based on a true story, depicted how Bush came into town after 40 years of solitude and asked the local undertaker to plan a living funeral. Bush wanted to have his funeral while he was still alive. You can guess how the humor of such a request could be played out on the big screen especially when the undertaker is played by Bill Murray.

I wont spoil the plot but the movie makes many good points. One of the main points that stuck with me as I left the theater is how Bush had to suffer loneliness and solitude needlessly for 40 years because he refused to confess his sins. Ultimately it is up to the individual to confess and repent of their sins but there is also direct bearing on community. God has designed His body to be the means by which we confess and find healing for sin, but often times we care more about the image we project than the vulnerability that we need.

In his book, Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer states the case with great clarity:

The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners!

Bonhoeffer goes on to say:

The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation.

If we are not that confessional outlet for our brothers and sister in Christ, reminding them of grace and assuring them of forgiveness, then we have missed our calling. The community of faith is built on such confession and it is the reason why that so many believers (and not just people on the fringe mind you) are struggling with sin and isolation. We have to take up this charge and show vulnerability and strength for our brothers and sisters. For there is one sure promise that Bonhoeffer makes and that Felix Bush could have used all those 40 long years:

If a Christian is in the fellowship of confession with a brother he will never be alone again, anywhere.

Confession or isolation? Which will it be?

Is Your Church A Hospital Or A Museum

Church should be more like a hospital and less like a museum.

I have grown up in church. Since I was in diapers, the overwhelming majority of my Sunday’s and many Wednesday nights have been spent in church. I love church because Jesus loves the church and because the church is who I am called to be. I don’t, however, love the fact that many churches have become more like museums than hospitals.

The church was never intended to be a museum. Jesus, who is the chief cornerstone of the church (Eph. 2:19-22) was also known as the great physician. In the gospels, Jesus made it abundantly clear that His desire was to be about the healing of sinners from their sin (Matt. 9:12, Mark 2:17, Lk. 5:31). In treating this most eternal and deadliest of diseases, Jesus also went about taking care of the immediate physical needs of the people he healed. His ministry was humble, messy, laborious, time-consuming, all-encompassing, and painstaking. Many of the people who came to him were poor, ragged, diseased, uncouth, dirty, and undesirable.

By contrast, museums are clean, well-ordered, and leisurely. The people who attend them are generally well-dressed or at least clean. There are plenty of guards or ushers on hand to make sure that order is kept and that nothing goes missing. Any undesirables that look out of place are met with careful scrutiny. The works of art that are on display are cordoned off so that no one gets to close so as to spoil them. It is a very uplifting if not sterile environment.

The unfortunate fact is that sinners both, saved and un-saved, don’t feel welcome in many churches because they see them more as museums than hospitals. They feel as though they need to clean up their act before they can come. After all, who really wants a prostitute, or a drug-addict, or someone struggling with homosexuality to come into their church bringing all these sores with them? Or worse, who wants all the nicely dressed people who are already in church to begin to rip off their nice robes and show the sores of broken marriages, pornography addictions, stealing, lying, and alcoholism that lie beneath the surface?

If we were honest with ourselves and with each other we would seek to create a soul hospital that is a community centered around the gospel where the following words would have meaning:

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

– James 5:16

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power.

– Joseph Hart, 1759