If you can, check out this link and listen to the audio message. It’s a young person sharing their story about eating disorder recovery, redemption and seeing shame put to shame. It’s very powerful. Click the text below to get to the page.
Here’s another powerful insight from BeautyBeyondBones. Please check it out. Just in case it interests you, I’ve included my comment that I left with the post.
You know what I love? I love when you’re watching or reading something for the 100th time, and then all of a sudden something “clicks” and it’s as though you’re seeing it brand new, with fresh eyes. That happened to me today. At church. We were reading the Lazaraus story, where Jesus raises Lauzarus from […]
When the apostle John wrote that, he wanted to make sure everyone got it – Lazarus was dead. Anyway, I want to embrace your epiphany and raise you one more. I hope you don’t mind…
I would like to suggest that one doesn’t have to have an ED or have a bad temper and so on to have a stench. Paul says that all our RIGHTEOUSNESS is filthy rags (very nasty smelling).
In Zechariah 3, the prophet is given a vision of the high priest. There are several clues this is on the day of atonement. The cleansing – physically and spiritually – that the high priest would do was far beyond what any of us might do. And yet, he stands before God with “filthy clothes.” The words there indicate excrement and/or vomit.
But the Good News is, God, unlike us, seems to have smell blindness. He comes near the wretched, the filthy, the smelly and even the dead; not just near but touches them and by that touch says, “I accept you, you are my beloved.” It’s hard to resist a God who loves like that.
I stumbled across this and it’s too good not to share. The reference is at the end. I did a little editing so it makes sense out of it’s original context but the meaning is intact.
Imagine that our Good, Good Father appears visibly among us this evening. How would we speak to him? Or to make it more personal, let us say that he is willing to meet us in our living room. As many of us as could, would go over there and gather around him, just as the crowds did around Jesus—Mary loved to sit there at his feet.
Now, as we walk into the room, we know that God is the all-powerful Creator of the whole vast universe. We know that the mighty angels, sinless as they are, stand overwhelmed with awe and wonder at the majesty and glory of our God. Yet, though that all be true, if we are afraid to go in, then God has failed to convince us of the truth about himself. And Jesus has failed to convince us, not just with his words, but with what he has demonstrated to be true when he was here, that God is infinitely powerful, but equally gracious, and there is no need to be afraid. How could we turn down what he has paid such a price to reveal?
God is seated there and we are gathered around him. What should we say? Should we be the first to speak? Once we have started speaking, would we talk all the time? Or would we let God speak for a while? Normally, when we pray we do all the talking, don’t we? And then we say Amen, and go about our business, or go to sleep. It would be like meeting in the room with our Heavenly Father, and talking to him incessantly for several minutes, and then saying, “Amen, thank you very much,” and then going home. It wouldn’t make sense, would it? It certainly wouldn’t be conversation as with a friend.
Supposing we should have the inestimable privilege of talking there freely with God the Father for a whole hour; would it be appropriate at the end for someone among us to arise and say, “This has been such a special occasion, don’t you think we ought to close this meeting with a word of prayer?” Or would it be correct to understand that talking, conversing, having conversation with our God as with a Friend for that whole hour actually is real prayer, and we have been praying the whole hour long?
Conversation means at least two people speaking. But how do we converse with God when we can’t see him just now, because of the present emergency? We all understand that emergency and why in mercy he does not reveal himself visibly to us at this moment. And so, the Bible is called the Word of God—God speaking to us. If we wish to hear God speak, except in most extraordinary occasions, God speaks to us through the Bible. We speak to him in prayer.
Truly, as someone has said, “We commune with God through the study of the Scriptures.” I certainly find prayer much more meaningful while reading the Bible. Have you ever had the experience of talking to God while reading certain parts of the Scriptures? Have you ever found yourself talking out loud, “That’s magnificent!”? Who are you talking to? But that’s real conversation. We read, we listen in that way. And then we talk back to God.
Graham Maxwell. Excerpt from the audio series, Conversations About God, #15, “Talking to God as a Friend” recorded May, 1984, Loma Linda, California.
Is personal, private prayer easy or hard for you?
What does prayer mean to you?
What are the challenges you face in living a life of prayer?
What have you learned about prayer that can be a help to others who are struggling in their prayer life?
When I was a child, our family regularly travelled to “the big city” to visit relatives. The signal to me that we were nearing the city (are we there yet??) was a large grain elevator right beside the highway on the outskirts of the city. What’s a grain elevator? They used to look like this:
On the side of the grain elevator, in huge letters, was written Mark 8:36:
Now I didn’t grow up with any kind of faith practice. I had never read the Bible or even attended a church. Even so, Mark 8:36 really impacted me and I would think on it often, both when we drove by it and throughout the year.
Now the word soul here doesn’t mean a disembodied ghostly thing that exists beyond your body – what some call an immortal soul. That whole concept is foreign to the Bible. Soul is an old timey way of talking about ourselves – our personhood or being. Even though I had no clue about that as a young person, that’s how I internalized the message: who I am is worth more than the whole world so don’t sell out; don’t compromise the truth of who I am for short term or even large gain. You could say, it’s one of my core values.
But I have to confess, I have sometimes sold out. Seeking for love and belonging in places that never satisfied, holding back from fear, overcome by doubt… I have tried to gain “the world.” This isn’t a woe is me, wallowing in regret kind of post. I’m just being honest. I am happy to report that over time, as I have grown more into myself, I sell out less and less.
Have you ever sold out? Have you ever attempted to gain the world – whatever that means to you – only discover you were losing yourself in the process? How did you correct your course? Have you found yourself selling out less? What’s made the difference in your life?
Recently, Ty Gibson, a pretty awesome guy I follow on Twitter (@ or check out Digma) tweeted a sermon. Besides me thinking that tweeting a sermon is brilliant, his message was profound, transformational, a paradigm shift. So I asked him for permission to share it here so your mind can also be blown.
Sermon by Ty Gibson
I’ma preach a Twitter sermon this morning y’all. Opening prayer: Lord, wake us up to YOUR agenda. In the name of Jesus, Amen!
Scripture reading: Jesus said, “the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness ABOUT ME.”
And Paul tells us precisely what the Spirit’s mission is: “GOD’S LOVE has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”
Praying for the Spirit in “latter rain” power while fostering a dysfunctional spiritual environment is an exercise in “pagan” futility.
We have a fundamental content problem—not a power problem, a program problem, or a logistics problem. The WHAT must precede the HOW.
Will it ever occur to us that maybe God isn’t sending the Spirit upon us because we simply aren’t saying to the world what He wants said?
God won’t add supernatural power to the church until the gospel of His healing love defines our message & pervades our fellowship. Ouch!
We need to align ourselves with God’s agenda of non-condemning love (John 3:16-17) if we want God to take our voice viral.
So let’s pray for humility & repentance for making the church a place of controversy, argument, politics, personal agendas, and division.
Let’s pray God liberates us from our deeply embedded theological pride, legalistic coldness, lack of love, and missional narrowness.
And then, when it is evident that our message is Christ and Christ and Christ in all His unparalleled beauty…
…and when, in the light of His love for us, it is evident that we love one another more than our opinions, positions, & power plays…
…then, and only then, will the Holy Spirit descend upon us with latter rain power & the whole world will be lightened with God’s glory.
Closing Prayer: God, forgive us for expecting You to empower our agenda. May we humbly align ourselves with Yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
By Timothy Keller. Found this via Twitter at the NYPost (http://nypost.com/2016/12/24/christmas-is-the-most-unsentimental-way-of-looking-at-life/)
Christmas is the most unsentimental way of looking at life
Christmas is the only Christian holy day that is also a major secular holiday. This brings some discomfort on both sides. Many Christians can’t help but notice that more and more of the public festivities surrounding Christmas studiously avoid any references to its Christian origins. The background music in stores is moving from “Joy to the World” to “Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas.”
On the other hand, nonreligious people can’t help but find that the older meaning of Christmas keeps intruding uninvited, for instance, through the music of traditional Christmas carols. It can be irritating to have to answer their child’s question, “What does that music mean —‘born to give them second birth’?”
Christmas does not say, ‘Cheer up! If we all pull together we can make the world a better place.’
As a Christian believer, I am glad to share the virtues of that day with the entirety of society. My fear is, however, that its true roots will become more and more hidden to most of the population.
The secular Christmas is a festival of lights, a time for family gatherings, and a season to generously give to those closest to us and to those in greatest need. These practices are genuinely congruent with the Christian origins of the celebration. The emphasis on light in darkness comes from the Christian belief that the world’s hope comes from outside of it. The giving of gifts is a natural response to Jesus’ act of self-giving, when he laid aside his glory and was born into the human race. The concern for the needy recalls that the Son of God was born not into an aristocratic family but into a poor one. The Lord of the universe identified with the least and the most excluded of the human race.
But the truth is that Christmas, like God himself, is both more wondrous and more threatening than most understand.
Christmas is about receiving presents, but consider how challenging it is to receive certain kinds of gifts. Some gifts by their very nature make you swallow your pride. Imagine opening a present on Christmas morning from a friend — and it’s a dieting book. Then you take off another ribbon and wrapper and you find it is another book from another friend, “Overcoming Selfishness.” If you say to them, “Thank you so much,” you are in a sense admitting, “For indeed, I am fat and obnoxious.”
In other words, some gifts are hard to receive, because to do so is to admit you have flaws and weaknesses and you need help. Perhaps on some occasion you had a friend who figured out you were in financial trouble and came to you and offered a large sum of money to get you out of your predicament. If that has ever happened to you, you probably found that to receive the gift meant swallowing your pride.
There has never been a gift offered that makes you swallow your pride to the depths that the gift of Jesus Christ requires us to do. Christmas means that we are so lost, so unable to save ourselves, that nothing less than the death of the Son of God himself could save us. That means you are not somebody who can pull yourself together and live a moral and good life.
Christmas, therefore, is the most unsentimental, realistic way of looking at life. It does not say, “Cheer up! If we all pull together we can make the world a better place.” The Bible never counsels indifference to the forces of darkness, only resistance, but it supports no illusions that we can defeat them ourselves. Christianity does not agree with the optimistic thinkers who say, “We can fix things if we try hard enough.” Nor does it agree with the pessimists who see only a dystopian future.
The message of Christianity is, instead, “Things really are this bad, and we can’t heal or save ourselves. Things really are this dark — nevertheless, there is hope.” The Christmas message is that “on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”
Notice that it doesn’t say from the world a light has sprung, but upon the world a light has dawned. It has come from outside. There is light outside of this world, and Jesus has brought that light to save us; indeed, he is the Light.
Adapted from the book “Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ” by Timothy Keller (Viking). Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan.