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Original sin — why we suffer

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God my Creator brings me comfort through His creation!

Took my coveted walk through the fall woods this week. So much beauty on a trail created a few hundred years ago! Osage orange trees line the walk to the Wye River. Early settlers used this trail to buy and sell goods ferried to and from Baltimore and Annapolis. Now it is a barely used, oft forgotten by-way only enjoyed by nature lovers.

The short trail was long and painful for my loved one.

These days are full of pain and sorrow for both of us — a year out from the cancer diagnosis. Nothing will ever be the same for us in this life. Cancer surgery was brutal.  We will likely not grow old together.

 Yet creation and the Creator cheer us on. Mad chaos did not reign for millions of years. We’re not creatures of time and chance. And God didn’t create this pain, suffering, and death.

The doctrine of creation, original sin, and the fall of man gives us hope. WHY?

Just as surely as God proclaimed judgments of pain, suffering, and death on those who ruined His beautiful, perfect creation —  so surely He promised redemption and mercy!

As caregivers for the chronically ill, we see pain and suffering almost every single day.

If you live with it, you feel its reality like the twisting of a knife!  Knowing suffering is a temporary curse for those who love God heals those wounds.

If you believe and have this  amazing faith that you are part of some cosmic accident, then there is no hope in your future.

Nothing really matters.

Suffering is all the more brutal when you believe that you should just eat, drink, and be merry — you’re gonna die anyways. The Grim Reaper gets us all. True!

That old serpent the Devil would have you believe that this is all there is to life. He fools millions into eternal Death.

He’s hungry for the souls of men. He’s fat with the slaughter and destruction and death all around us.

Just as God served up justice on the ruination of His beauty and good work in the Garden, so He is faithfully redeeming His fallen creatures who call upon Him.

“Truly, truly I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has eternal life and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death into life. Truly the hour IS COMING and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live…

Do not marvel at this.

For the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come out — those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” John 5:24-29  

The cycles of the seasons remind me that death and rebirth — new life in Christ, is the grand drama of His triumph over Satan and original sin. “It is not death to die, to leave this weary world…”

Our sin is no match for His abundant pardon and grace!

Praying His grace will triumph in your life and mine this week on our journey Home.

 

Joy unspeakable at the journey’s end…

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The broad strokes of God’s love

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Dear Sister in Christ, dear fellow care-giving wife, it’s the best of days when you are mind-blown, blown away, filled to overflowing with the knowledge of God’s love for you.

NOT all days are like this. In fact, most days we trudge along. One step, one foot in front of the other.

Then God takes off the blinders when you just refuse to let go of Him and His love. God, I will not let you go unless you bless me. Like Job, you know deep down — though He slay me, I will trust in Him.

Just one tiny glimpse of a few truths of Scripture where God shows His love, and I feel like the richest lady on earth. I’m writing this to remember this day. I’m setting up my memorial stones, and telling myself, remember. Don’t forget. God loves you dearly, fully, completely in Christ Jesus.

I want to tell you, too. I’m hoping you will be encouraged along with me. If you’re at all like me, you need it. You struggle like me to desperately believe and hang on to hope in God’s unfailing goodness and love for you.

What sparked this epiphany? Valentines Day? Naaah. Actually, that’s a hard holiday for those of us whose husbands are too laid up with health issues to be that romantic knight in shining armor.

In fact, I’ll turn off my FB feed that day. I don’t need to feed the feelings of longing when I see my friends light up and share all the wonderful things their truly good hubs do for them. I am blessed by their godly love. I really am. But I don’t need to wallow in what I am missing.

What I have is actually waaay more wonderful!

The Lord my Maker is my Husband.

He sings over me.

He rejoices over me.

He came looking for me, and brought me into His house of love.

He says all the riches of His eternal kingdom are mine forever.

He tells me over and over that He will provide for my needs. And He has. So very faithfully and just in time.

Where do I see His love painted in such big, broad brushstrokes? First, in Jesus’ broken body, hanging on the cross for my sins, eternal love is painted in blood.

Next, I see His compassion poured out on those whom society rejected: the weak, the blind, the sick, the lame, the lepers, the prostitutes, the tax collectors (thieves by their day’s standards), and the Prodigal Son. This means compassion for sick husbands, too, unable to provide for their wives.

The disabled, the abnormal, the “special needs” among us all find equal grace and equal royal privileges at the foot of the cross.

Let me illustrate this point.

In the Bible, mentioned more than once, are a special category of people called “eunuchs”.  Ha! I’d always glossed over that until recently.

Eunuchs are a special class of people also mentioned in Augustine’s works, known as “hermaphrodites”. A certain class of these were forbidden by the Law of Moses to enter into temple worship. (Deut. 23:2) Outcasts by no fault of their own.

But Jesus did not ignore this problem. (Matt. 29:12)  In fact, unique prophecies included eunuchs with amazing promises given to them.

One of the most remarkable of these eunuchs was Daniel. A man who could not enter God’s temple entered into God’s presence in prayer so faithfully that angels literally fought the powers of hell to bring answers to his prayers.

In Isaiah 56 God lavishes beautiful, rich promises on these persons with special needs and physical abnormalities.

Finally, in a burst of gospel beauty, Philip encounters the Ethiopian eunuch who is reading Isaiah. Philip is specifically commanded by the Spirit to speak to the eunuch about Jesus.

The eunuch then asks a loaded question,

” What prevents me from being baptized?” Acts 8:26-28

Philip, a blue-blood Jew, understood what doors God’s grace had opened.

Boom! Baptized then and there. No second-class church membership for this eunuch.

In Christ alone we find this wholeness, a total acceptance in the Beloved. His perfect love lavishes His perfect beauty on His children. Now that’s more than any husband could give to me this Valentine’s Day.

 

Week 2: Don’t Let My Mind Fall In the Sewer (a.k.a., …”lead us not into temptation”)

 

“Your mind is a sewer, and only Jesus can keep the lid on it.”

A crowd of restless, hormonal teens were listening so intently that you could almost hear the war raging inside of them. This was NOT the message that pop culture constantly flooded them with. As the older, wiser, twenty-something counselor,  even I held my breath and bowed my heart under the truth of my inner sinfulness. What I did not know was how many times this little phrase would convict me, and help me stay the course with the light of Scripture to guide me.

But when you got married, you didn’t sign up for celibacy, right?

I’m right there with you. Most likely, your spouse didn’t sign up for chronic illness either.  Cancer, illness, and injury all stem from the effects of death entering the world after the fall of man in the garden. And, no, I am not advocating a celibate marriage. All too often chronic illness robs marriage of many things, sex life included.

Christ was in ALL points tempted, yet He did not sin.

Think about it with reverence and awe. Quite clearly, Christ was single, and was tempted to sin in this area. Thirty-three years of vibrant manhood, and he did not cave in to temptation in body or mind. If you are His child you are a joint-heir with Jesus, and His divine power is able to keep you from falling.

Three powerful ways to keep from falling:

  1. Flee temptation! Like Joseph in Egypt, leave your very garment behind, because Satan still is in the business of ruining lives. Think of those whom you would devastate by your unfaithfulness. Keep the sewer lid closed by avoiding books, movies, and music that would fan the flames of unfulfilled desire. Get out of Dodge!
  2. Cry out to God in prayer! “God, help me in Jesus name.”  Think of Christ sweating blood in Gethsemane in agonizing prayer. Ask for cleansing. (I John 1:9) When a lurid thought crosses your mind, send it back to hell where it belongs. You are a beloved daughter of the King. You don’t need Satan’s junk food.
  3. “Love the Lord YOUR God with all your mind.” Find time in His Word daily. Jesus defeated Satan after 40 days in the wilderness by answering with God’s Word. Remember His Day to keep it holy. When we give one day in seven to the Lord, He meets us and strengthens us through the Word to face this sinful world. Delight in the beauty of God’s lovely world, art, beautiful music — whatever is good, true, and lovely.

Did I mention prayer already? Find a prayer partner. Ask for prayer. Pray for a prayer partner. With a sewer in our minds and a battle every time we face the world, we need some serious prayer coverage,  you and I. If you comment here, I really do pray for you. Pray for me. I’ll take all the prayers I can get.

On Being Married and a Mind-Virgin, Part I

Who knew? Who knew that a married woman might need to commit to being a mind-virgin? (No, I did not coin this term. Click on over to girldefined.com to read that lovely blog.) With all the moral ruckus and rubbish swirling in the news, this topic? Now? Because, Christian sister, you are more vulnerable than most married women.

Sex, legitimate, saved-for-marriage sex was one perk of tying the knot, right? Then chronic, life-changing illness struck, and one sure sign that your man was not malingering his illness was that your sex life was gone or mostly absent. Especially in a young, virile man — not a normal problem.

Sex, being God’s magnificent plan, has His blessing and wall of protection around this beautiful garden: marriage. So what happens when you watch your lovely, private garden wilt and fade? You hurt and grieve. When you watch other families in your church and community bloom and grow, enjoying the fruits of their garden multiply, you may be tempted to be bitter and sour. Many days you may feel like a half-widow with many needs unmet.

Many of us have to leave our gardens and be bombarded by neon signs that say “Free pleasure, this way!” Or, “YOU deserve the best.” We toil and labor to meet our family’s physical needs, and sometimes it seems our husbands are locked away in a world of pain that we have no key to enter.

I am thrilled to remind you that if you are a daughter of the King, there is always a sparkling, flowing fountain of Living Water in your garden! READ ON!

Remember John 4? Jesus had a divine appointment with the woman at the well, who was,well, for lack of a better word, a sex-addict! She had tried marriage five times, and was currently fornicating when she met Jesus. Her garden wells had left her unquenchably thirsty.

‘Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life’.” John 4:13-14

Above all else, remember you must keep returning your heart’s focus to Jesus. Simple words, but ASK HIM for living water. Ask Him to encourage and fill your heart and mind for this not-so-normal pilgrimage. If He would give living water to the Samaritan woman, He will give it to you. Must. Have. Living. Water!!!

Stay tuned for more on being a mind-virgin.