From the monthly archives:

November 2009

The God of All Comfort

November 18, 2009

But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus.
2 Corinthians 7:6 (NASB)
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“God uses people to refresh people.”  David Wilkerson

The Garden of Eden is the indefensible testament to broken relationships.  The single focus of the Bible changes from relationship to aloneness, from seeking to hiding, from being naked and not ashamed to hiding beneath hastily crafted exteriors of guilt.

From that one damning act of rebellion came the horror of aloneness… that gripping and dark reality that is the driving force in hearts today.  Don’t think me too dramatic, please.  Human beings are both driven to relate and committed to hiding at the same time, a paradox that is at the core of every relational anguish that we share.

The modern result is often some level of depression, a word that is highly misunderstood and rejected outright by the too spiritually minded.  None the less, it is an accurate word picture of many.  Life for many is a road filled with potholes, depressions if you will, that slows down travel and jars a world sometimes to the point of breakdown… an experience all too common in life.

The story of the Old Testament is the story of the sons and daughter’s of Eden who had lost their way, and of a God who followed.  Separated from God and one another, the skin of guilt covered every child born and soon became the norm, no longer recognized as the problem and instead becoming the identity.

It is interesting, don’t you think?  The final years of history before Christ are known as the Silent Years.  Four hundred years of silence from heaven.  Centuries of separation.  How could anyone continue to believe in a God who cared?  It is because our DNA is coded to only survive through relationships with both God and man.  No matter what the cost, we will wait and hope for someone who cares.

Jesus wiped away every vestige of fear and rejection, demonstrating the Good Shepherd to lost mankind.  His favorite word for God was simply “Father.” He was the answer to man’s separation and His cross became the bridge between guilty mankind and a holy God.  But it did not stop there.  Once the cross was planted on Golgotha, the wall of separation created in the Garden by sin crumbled at the foundation.

“He is our peace and has broken down the wall of separation,” declares Paul, “that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace.” At the cross, the death toll began.  The wall of separation between Creator and created was put to death.

The first defiant act of grace was the torn veil that separated common from sacred.  Torn in two from top to bottom Mark states, leaving nothing to the imagination.  The separation was done.  Intimacy was now to return first between God and man, and then between the sons of men.

That is why Paul’s words are so arresting.  He was writing to the church at Corinth, a church who’s passions went from the sacred to the sinful in a heartbeat.  Paul had written a scathing letter due to their lax attitude concerning the sin of one member.  His love for the church broke his heart and placed him on the potholed road of depression waiting for their response.

Finally, he confesses his fear of the broken relationship,

We were afflicted on every side: Outside were conflicts, inside were fears.

He loved them enough to tell them the truth and suffered in the telling over the potential of a broken relationship.  Sound familiar?

But here is the beautiful part.  God came to comfort him.  God came to console his heart.  God came to bind up the wound and heal… and He did it through a friend named Titus.

But God… comforted us by the coming of Titus.

I would rather have God send a miracle than a man.  My independence demands anonymity, not a hug, yet our Father is committed to showing His grace through His church.  In fact, He delights in using us to bring his most precious gift of comfort.  He is the God of all comfort and anoints and appoints you and I to deliver the goods.

The greatest gift God has given us is Jesus… He is our peace.  But peace without restored relationships is little more than a truce waiting to be broken.  Jesus though has broken down the dividing wall between God and man, bringing everlasting and complete restoration, and the blessing continues to give.  Even the shame between the children of Eden is gone.  Restoration between men has come.  The Father commissions us to give His most prized possession, the comfort of God, to one another.

Do you know someone who needs comfort?  It is the simplest way to display the mercy of God.  Do you need to receive comfort?  Then expect it from the simplest of saints.

Now go and do the work of the ministry.



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Are You Good?

November 12, 2009

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The Lord said, “…the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”    Genesis 8:21

“Why do you call Me good?  No one is good except God alone.”Luke 18:19

Humanism is the doctrine that states that people are born good.  It is the prevailing wind in every religion except Christianity and is the basis for the lie that good works are the ticket to a wonderful afterlife. It is also the undercarriage that drives the majority of faiths and denominations towards a gospel of good deeds.  In that sense, there is little difference between the Jehovah Witness, Mormon or Methodist (my apologies to the Methodist reader) who insists that good deeds are what makes me good before a holy God.

Humanism is the greatest assault against a biblical lifestyle today.  It is an insidious cancer that affects individuals and families and goes largely unnoticed until it reaches acute mass.  It weakens the message of the gospel, waters down the vibrancy of the Holy Spirit and impedes the advance of the Kingdom.  It is human power, human thinking and human doing, has little eternal value and cost a man his soul in the end.

Families are particularly at risk.  Parents today take tremendous risks by prioritizing wrong influences in their children’s lives. After all, they are “good kids” so why worry too much?  They have a “good” heart, don’t they?  “Good” parents today emphasize discipline through sports more than the discipline of the Word.  They are more committed to soccer practice than to Sunday School and more insistent on homework than the Word.

The psalmist said,
See if there be any wicked way within me and lead me in Your everlasting way.
Our bend is evil and nothing can begin to straighten it except the white hot purity of devotion to Christ and His gospel.  Yet for most in the modern church a desperate clinging to the cross of Jesus has been replaced by a smooth sail with the gospel of good works.

A young man, rich and successful, came to Jesus.  The Master saw the great potential in him as the man  robed in the rich purple of success bowed to the Messiah in the peasant garb.  “Good Teacher,” he began, “What do I need to do to inherit eternal life?”  But Jesus would not discuss good works. He wanted the man to encounter the Way, Truth, and Life.

“Why do you call Me good?  No one is good except God alone.”  Jesus begins.

Liberal theologians say that Jesus was stating that He was not God, but that is far from the truth.  Instead, Jesus was challenging the man on one key issue that everyone must decide and it is this…

  • Either Jesus is God or He is not good.
  • If He is not good, you should not follow Him.
  • If He is good, His words are not advice but a command from a Holy God… no debate, no discussion and no turning back.

“One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”  But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.  And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!”

The first thing you must decide is this:
Are you good or is Jesus the only one who is Good?  If you are good, then make your own decisions about your life, your money, and your relationships.  But if Jesus is the only one who is good, you must trust Him and His ways, not the humanistic fantasy that we are good people just trying to get by in life.  What a sham and what a horror for the one that finds out too late that it was a deception and a lie.

Jesus begins where he always does… “Who do men say that I am?  Am I good?  Then I am God!”

By the way, it was not his money that Jesus demanded.  It was the personal control of his life that the money provided.  Until that moment, the  young man had controlled his own life… money allows you to do that…  but by giving up, truly giving up the control, he was admitting that there was nothing he could do to earn the life he sought.
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Jesus comes to each of us with the same question, “Am I good?”  I must decide to trust my ability to meet my own needs or to trust my need for a real Savior.  Of course, maybe a plastic one on the dashboard will do.  A nice leather bound one with my initials in gold will suffice.  A gospel of good deeds that satisfies the lie of self-sufficiency, thank you very much.  But if He is good, then I am not, and the need for His constant touch and direction leads me to the path of true discipleship.

Are you good?  How about your kids?  It is one of the most important questions you will ever answer.



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The Hearing

November 9, 2009

“If I have found grace in Thy sight, show me Thy glory.” Moses’ words to God as he sought to know the way through the desert. Thank you for the many prayers, fastings and petitions that were heard by our Father on Jan’s behalf this past Thursday.  The hour and a half hearing took place […]

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Who Is the Greatest?

November 9, 2009

“That’s my place, Peter. Don’t you dare sit there.” John seldom spoke to his friend with such stern seriousness. All of the other disciples were rushing to the best places at the dinner table too. It was Passover, the most important meal of the year. The 12 Apostles were dining with Jesus in the upper […]

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When God is Silent

November 4, 2009

Where is God? I mean it. Where is He? I meet a lot of people who ask that question in one of a number of ways. Most are well meaning, by the way, not heretical kooks who scream at the sky every time life gets to be a nag. You hear the question in hospital […]

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