Posts Tagged With: redemption

My Darkest Night: A Confession

My darkest night and day, inside was pain, my soul bound up in chains.

I looked confounded, looked uncertain, certainly looked confused.
I tried rejection, I tried inspection, and I tried just to refuse.
My soul was heavy, my mind a mess, my heart got torn in shreds.
I was left alone, adrift, and nearly left for dead.
This is what I almost, nearly, and completely would have done.

Looking out, looking up, looking all around.
Feeling lost, feeling forward, feeling like I might be found.
I hear a cry, I cry for help, I cannot help but cry.
I wonder how, I wonder where, I mostly wonder whom and why?
What could I, should I, would I do?

I look away, I look inside, yet I seem to only stare.
My hands hang limp, brain disconnected, yet I truly care.
I am not wise, I’m at a loss, I am not self-improved.
I want to hide, I want to run, yet inside I am moved.
What can I, shall I, will I do?

I look behind, I look within, and then look far beyond.
I have no power, no potion, and no magic wand.
A little truth, a little prayer, and lots of simple mercy:
For my family, for my friends, and for my foes quite early.
This is what I could have, should have, and will have done.

For, Yes! Redemption came, my mind was changed, and I rose up not the same.

Categories: Good News, Peer support, Poem, Suffering, Testimony | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Resurrection

Resurrection praised above the heroes of pagan peoples’ past:
Conquering fears, false confidence, and every sin.
The death prick was plucked out and wounds were healed
through him who was scourged for us and rose again.
Bearing burdens of all who’ve fallen into sin,
Lifting all who start to trust in Him,
He carried the beam outside the gates
and emptied the tomb for those who’d rest
and wait for the First Day to come.
He rose with healing wings
and simple, saving outstretched arms.
Light shines and darkness flees.
The day extends and terror ends.
Soon the nations will bend their knees.

Categories: Poem | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

From Angry Drunk to Sober and Silly

This week, I would like to share a Guest column by J.S. A friend who wanted to share the following story.

I was lying across the design table. I was one of a team of four doing a full-scale drawing of a new Corvette. As part of a job shop, we were seeing if the engine would fit in the engine compartment.
We had to lie on the table to do the drawings, because we were each doing a different part of the car. While there, I was actually daydreaming about going out afterwards and having that first drink, knowing that it would not be the only drink.

I always had alcohol in the car wherever I went. I would have a pint that was open under the driver’s seat and an unopened pint under the passenger’s seat. I also had a fifth in the trunk so I didn’t run out. I was loaded.

I should have been stopped by the police and given a ticket or been taken to jail, but I wasn’t. I deserved to be though. By the grace of God, I never had an accident, not even any close calls. It is a miracle that I was never even stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. Eventually I was fired from that job for being drunk on the job.

My drinking, of course, was exacerbated by the fact that I was bipolar and had gone undiagnosed for years. It had gotten so bad that I was growling at people. It wasn’t funny. If only I could go back and erase that or make it right, but of course that is not possible.

Another job I had was as a technical illustrator, and I had a bad morning, so I went down to the bar and had two quintuples (10 shots of alcohol) and then topped it off with a double. Afterwards, I went back to work, but of course I was useless the rest of the day.

I was married at the time, and it was a loveless marriage. I loved her but she did not reciprocate. She said the only reason she married me was to get away from home. When I got angry, I would take one of my World War II daggers and hack the walls, making an awful mess of it.

I had another job working in the Ford Motor Company on the technical illustration team. Scientists and engineers would produce rough sketches, and we had to turn them into professional drawings and lettering. I often worked overtime on the part-time job. When we worked overtime, the company would pay for us to eat out. I would drink my dinner. I would have liked to have been hired there, but I know that my drinking stopped me.

I have had so many jobs that I cannot remember all of them. I was always fired from the jobs or quit over the way I was treated. It wasn’t that I was treated badly, I just couldn’t get along with anybody and was drunk all the time. I even went to sleep with a bottle of liquor in hand.
My drinking started when I was 22 years old and had continued for years. I remember having the thought, “I’m 22 now, I guess I should start drinking and smoking.” That was a dumb decision.

Earlier when I was a teenager, I had been involved somewhat in church and had enjoyed participating in First Baptist Church in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I had played the part of the tribune in a play called the Robe and even made my own costume.

Years later when I was living with my mother, I decided to check the church out again. It was a different pastor, but he spent a lot of time with me. I put him through the wringer because I was still drinking, though not as heavily as before … and he always forgave me. He would come and see me and I would be sloshed. The pastor would talk me through it, and I would stop drinking for a while until there was another crisis of some sort. But eventually something happened.

In 1974, one night in late October, It suddenly dawned on me that I had not had a drink in weeks. Not only had I not had a drink, but I didn’t want one even though the house was full of booze. I stopped smoking cigars at about the same time.

I even had had incidents at the house. I would be misbehaving somehow and the police would come and take me to the nearby psychiatric hospital, because basically I was crazy. This one night, when it dawned on me that I hadn’t had a drink, I couldn’t get over the fact that I didn’t even want a drink. I took every bottle of hooch that was in the house and poured it down the drain. That was a lot of alcohol going down the drain. In those days, the liquor would have been worth about $100, quite a bit for that time.

I maintain that I didn’t quit: the Lord took it away from me. It had controlled me.

On a hot day in summer, I would sometimes have 1 bottle of beer usually just part of the bottle and not the whole bottle. The rest would be left on the table. It was not like when I was drinking the hard stuff. I am no longer compelled like I used to be, by the grace of God, I was saved from myself.
I’ve been sober since 1988. I know He took out insurance for me, because now if I ever get a whiff of hard alcohol, I gag.

Sometime later, after I had been seeing a Dr. Longacre for depression for a long time, I mentioned to her what I was dealing with, and she diagnosed me as having bipolar disorder. After the diagnosis, I began being medicated to counter the disorder. The Lord worked through the psychiatrist at community mental health to keep me stable and restore my emotions. It took about 7 years to maintain an effective balance. I take the medicine regularly so that I do not return to being looney.

My mother is now dead, but I wish she could see that I am now sober and sane. While I have hurt many people over the years and wish I could undo all the damage, I cannot. As I was reminded recently by my pastor, I cannot go back, but I can go forward and make a difference in the days ahead for the glory of God, though I am one of the least of His subjects.

…and here is a glimpse of God’s mysterious ways of protecting us:
I was getting off work one Monday, and had the impulse to go to a music shop in town. I didn’t know why since I had been there just two days before. As I was pulling into the parking lot, a tie rod broke, making it so I could not steer the car. If I had not been just creeping along pulling into the parking lot, I would have been driving 70 miles an hour down the freeway. The car had to be hauled away by a tow truck and the manager of the store was so helpful that he drove me home a significant distance. Surely that was divine intervention as I remember wondering, “Why am I going to the store, I was just there two days ago.” Then this happened. God was watching out for me.

Categories: Testimony | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Redemptive Suffering: Judaism, Christianity, & Islam

Go outside the gate to the wandering peoples.

Go outside the gate to the wandering peoples.

Ashura is the day when Shi’ites comemoratethe martyrdom of Mohammad ‘s grandson, Hussein son of Ali. Some Shi’ites cut themselves with knives and chains to identify with the suffering of Hussein. One saying goes, `A single tear shed for Hussein washes away a hundred sins.`”
http://www.LoveSaudis.com
This Shi’ite holiday took place last week.

In Judaism and Christianity, there is also a certain amount of truth to the fact that suffering is redemptive. In the Hebrew Scriptures, it was a truism, that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness required bloodshed.

Perhaps the clearest place where this is taught in the New Testament is the Letter to Hebrews. In the Mosaic Law, the sacrificial laws of Leviticus are clearly explications of the principle of life for life via blood. However, the levitical sacrifices had to be continually offered. Those sacrifices & ashes were then taken outside to camp. Sin was removed as the sacrifice was removed.

When Jesus came, he preached the truth in love and then was rejected by His people. He too went outside the gate and suffered “outside the camp” thus removing the sin of the people against him outside the camp. He took away sin once for all.

Now Christians, whenever we are oppressed and opposed for taking a stand for truth in love and love in truth, whenever we suffer rejection, we can still praise the Lord knowing He has a plan for that rejection, namely to remove the sins of those who oppose. We leave people who oppress alone in order to allow them to find peace. We move on and allow the people we were reaching previously to reconsider.

In my own life, I have been removed from a number of jobs. Those which I most enjoyed have either regretted disallowing my role or have found a way to reincorporate me. Is that because I am special? No. It is because all those were works of reconciliation. Actually, that is the goal of life: reconciliation. We are born alienated from God and must be reconciled to God. While children are born somewhat innocent, they bear the guilt of previous generations. They inherit the load, genetic or social or moral or whatever you want to call it, that separates them from the peace God intends. However, by regularly leaving previous situations we have gotten ourselves into and the associated sins, we find ourselves gradually liberated to serve the living God with the Good News of Redemption.

Increasingly, we become better and better bearers to truth and purer and purer in our love for others.

Lest anyone believe that by their migrations they have already achieved perfection, if you are lowly enough to browse the internet, you are not perfected in the glories of heaven where people praise God perpetually. So then, what must we do? Praise God as much as you can now. Spend your days invested in the glories of grace by talking about Jesus.

You say, but that would be very unproductive!

Ah, what do you have to do that would be better than praising Jesus? Whipping yourself with and lacerating your skin? Let me urge you to press in to Christ and not to give up. Focus on Jesus in all you do.

Last week, my wife & I went to a lecture by John Lennox … however we were turned away due to the crowds. The theme of the discussion was going to be, “Does science need God?”

Let’s tie these two questions together: suffering & science and the redemptive power God in both.

Science ultimately has no real reason for why there is suffering. It can only say that there is. It cannot answer the question of why we are so dissatisfied with suffering if indeed death has been there from the beginning. So the Bible’s account of Eden when all was innocent is better than naturalistic, uniformitarian declarations. It is what it is is not a very satisfying truism.

God is who He is. Or better, God said, “I am who I am” That same “I am” has sent me to share this thought: we suffer because the human race falls short of God’s standards. All other discussions of secondary causation such as social pressure, genetic mutation, gravity, entropy, fall short if the question of Why? is left unanswered.

Pragmatic science is unsatisfying. Just like Adam was unsatisfied with naming animals until he named his wife and sang a love song over her, so all fields of science are meant to serve human society, and these are best accomplished when done in the covenant of love that God gives the human race.

So we see that even the Shoah, the Holocaust could be redeemed. God used it to motivate much of the West to call for an Independent nation for the Jews: Israel was nearly born in a day, as Isaiah had prophecied.

Now, do you want to redeem your suffering? Are you rejected by those who are powerful and prominent? Then go to those who are not so significant in your community. Go to those who are regarded as the nobodies. Sit beside those that the world laughs at. Hug the crying. Pray for those who are sick. Read to those who cannot read for themselves. Sing with a lonely child who longs to sing to the King.

There are so many ways you can go outside the gate as Jesus did. Don’t wait. Go today. God will go with you and then you will smile in His presence.

Categories: Good News, Islam, Suffering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Redeeming the Time – Making the Most of the Moment

In Ephesians, we are exhorted to buy back the time, or as the Holman Christian Standard Bible puts it: “making the most of the time, since the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16) http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians%205:15-16&version=NKJV;CEV;HCSB;MSG;NIV

Life is not to be wasted: no frittering away time with cheap sins and silly chatter. Get to the Good News.

This need not be boring. Is God boring? Is God bored? God is interested in your life and thinks about your life all the time. Are you boring? God is constantly supervising a universe that could easily implode were it not for the fact that He sustains the constants and restrains evil.

God is active is redeeming people today. Are you?

Are you redeemed? Are you out of the slave market, or are you always looking for another dollar and another way to serve yourself? Are you confused by all the options that the modern world offers you? OR … Are you free to serve the Living God?

Jesus is calling sinners to repentance. Are you calling sinners to repentance? There are two options, sin or repent and call sinners to repentance. If you think there is such a thing as holy selfishness, you are wrong. If you want to draw near the Lord, labor to share His Name with others. It is not a heavy load.

Jesus is the root of all joy. So when you share Jesus, you are sharing joy. If someone rejects joy by rejecting Jesus, you can keep your joy because you are being honored by suffering the same rejection that they gave to the prophets. If your message of joy in Jesus is received, you have the joy of sharing the Love of your life with another and growing the family of God.

If you receive Jesus as your joy, all of heaven rejoices with you and you will probably want to share Jesus with others.

Are you happy? Are you joyful? Jesus likes it when you look to Him and when your eyes meet His in the secret place, He will smile at you. The smile of King Jesus will give you LIFE!! Oh, friend, don’t look to your own resources. Look to Jesus. Don’t waste your life on lesser things. Let every little detail of your life serve to glorify God.

If you are a carpenter, build up the Kingdom. If you are a plumber, drain away the old ways. If you are a doctor, bring healing. If you are a government employee, admininister justice with mercy. If you are a missionary, go in the power of the Lord and help others find peace with God.

You say, Oh, but you don’t know how much I have to do each day!

Let God help you through the day and you will find your load lighter.

You say, Oh, but you don’t know how much I have sinned and how far I am from God’s mercy!

Did you know that you cannot escape God’s mercy in this life. Seek Him while He may be found. Cry out for His help! He will come to you in a moment.

Do you not understand?

Pray for wisdom.

Are you sick?

Pray for healing.

DO NOT GIVE UP.

Jesus loves you.

Every moment, focus on the work God is calling you to do. In those slow times, pray for others or simply thank Jesus that you have found rest for your soul.

My heart is happy because I got to talk to someone about Jesus today. This is my mission in life: to talk to people about Jesus and to listen to God’s heart about those I see. He loves people. So I usually have something to talk to Him about. I must confess, sometimes, I find it hard to be quiet, so I will go do that now: be still and know that He is God. He will be exalted among the nations. He will be exalted in the earth.

Categories: Evangelism, Good News, Prayer, Revival | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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