brokenness

Your Mess Becomes Your Message

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” – 1 John 3:1a I have witnessed it’s the sinners, the mess-ups, and those who make a muck of things who make some of the greatest disciples. If I go to my doctor with an unknown condition that I cannot cure, and my doctor says, “You know what? I had that, too. I know just the cure.” That makes me feel pretty good. That is what the transforming power of discipleship is all about. Jesus says, “I’ve seen this before. Let me show you.” There is truth to the old adage, “Your mess becomes your message. Your test becomes your testimony.” Just remember that there’s no tragedy; there’s no falling short, that God cannot turn around.  I had this radical experience in high school where I

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Imperfect Yet Perfectly Loved

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” – Titus 3:4,5 Do you ever feel like you’re not enough? Are you constantly believing that after you change that one thing in your life, then you’ll be blessed? Unfortunately, it’s easy and all too common to feel like people don’t really see you, and that if they did, they wouldn’t love you or might even reject you. At the root of this is often the mistaken belief that God is mad at you. After all, if He doesn’t approve of you, who will? However, this is the good news about Christianity —  it’s like every other religion, only inverted!  Nearly all religions say that if you do X, Y, and Z right, then God (or the gods) will be on your side.

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Jesus Softens Hard Hearts

“Then he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.’” – Matthew 13:3,4 I touched on this subject last month, but today, I want to look at how hard hearts develop. Many of us are familiar with the parable of the sower, which is the story Jesus told of the farmer who went out to scatter seed; some of it fell on the road, some on rocky soil, some on thorny soil, and some on good soil. The thing that most fascinates me is the seed that fell on the road. Unlike our paved highways today, a road in Jesus’ day would have been simply a dirt-packed trail that had been trodden so frequently it had become impacted, hard, and nothing could grow there.

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You are not Alone

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.” – Psalm 68:5,6 For the next few days, we are going to be talking about something that’s (unfortunately) more and more universal in our world — loneliness.  Isn’t it interesting that when we punish a child, we give them what’s called a “time out,” which involves being alone for a period of time, often with no toys or interaction? And when a prisoner is out of line, they are further punished by going to a place of solitary confinement. Here, they are completely alone and often in the dark for a number of days or weeks. It’s a known fact that loneliness is one of the worst things for the human spirit and feeling

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Grace and Truth

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14 Do you like things that are salty and sweet? I sure do. There’s something about kettle corn, salted caramel, and french fries with milkshakes that creates the perfect balance of flavors. Interestingly, I believe this is how grace and truth function in the life of a believer. The Bible says that Christ — the Living Word — came to earth full of these important, and seemingly opposite, characteristics. You see, whereas grace is unmerited favor, or getting what we don’t deserve, truth calls out reality and reminds us of what we do deserve. So how do these two coexist and complement each other? The answer is simple, and it’s found in the salvation we

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What’s Your Battle?

“Sovereign Lord, my strong deliverer, you shield my head in the day of battle.” – Psalm 140:7 The late actor Robin Williams once paraphrased Plato in saying: “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about, so be kind, always.” And as cliche as this expression sounds, I think it’s important to understand how true it is so that we allow it to shape our interactions with others. The reality is that life is hard, and humanity is struggling with all kinds of issues — some people are just better at hiding it. No one has it all together, and the mistaken belief that they do is what causes many of us to feel alone in our pain. Nevertheless, we’re not flawed because we’re going through stuff, and it’s important to give ourselves grace so we can heal and extend mercy to our fellow brothers and sisters. Nobody

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The Journey to Healing

“Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.’” – Luke 17:19 In continuing our study of the story of the ten lepers who cried out to Jesus for healing, it’s interesting to note that He bid them embark on a journey in order to see their miracle manifest. Though He often touched someone — or even spoke a word — and restoration happened immediately, this time it was different. Rather than instantaneously changing their circumstances, He instructed them to go and show themselves to the priest, who happened to be in Jerusalem. Since they were near Samaria at the time, it would have been a three or four day walk from where they were to get to the temple. And while they could have come up with any number of reasons why they shouldn’t make the trip, they started moving with the faith that

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Perfection Not Required

“On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” – Mark 2:17 It’s probably unorthodox for a pastor to say this, but I want to have a church filled with sinners. There are plenty of congregations filled with saints and people pretending to be perfect, but I don’t believe that’s what the Body of Christ is supposed to look like. The church is not meant to be a country club of righteous friends who meet to pat each other on the back, but rather a gathering of thirsty, weary souls yearning for His Living Water. As disciples of Jesus, we’re broken people who want to be better, and we strive toward sanctification, righteousness, and Godliness. But most importantly, we receive the Lord’s love so we can love each other, especially

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Perfection Is Not Required

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” – 2 Corinthians 4:7 One of the most liberating truths I ever learned is that you don’t have to be perfect for God to use you. As Christians, I think many of us have the mindset that in order to do big things in the Kingdom of God, we must have it all together and have worked through all of our issues. However, this mentality is damaging and untrue, and it serves only to keep us stuck! If everyone waited until they were healed to step out in faith, nothing would ever happen (and the devil would love it). In fact, the most wondrous thing about living life in Jesus is that when we surrender, He does the moving. As we make ourselves available to be, as Henri

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You Are Not Your Mistakes

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” – Hebrews 12:1 Often, when we struggle with things like addiction or long-standing sin, we grow discouraged because we feel like we will never beat it. We make progress, but then we backslide, and the devil whispers in our ear that we’re just too broken and messed up to change. In fact, this is how he gains a foothold in our lives. When we listen to his constant fatalistic commentary, he convinces us to give up on ourselves, and that’s when we get in trouble. Once we’re running with the ball of self-defeat, we’re tempted to believe that our Heavenly Father feels as negatively about us as we do, and our view

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