Yesterday the last one of the orphaned kittens I have been trying to save died. It is a long an involved story of sadness that has set my heart to pondering life in general-from my Christian worldview. There were 5 kittens that were found-they were about 2 weeks old-and had been abandoned by their mother. They were covered with feces and maggots and fleas. I hate to get involved in these situations but I am a weakling about baby mammals in general and baby dogs and kittens in particular. When you try and rescue very young and very sick little things it almost always has a sad ending-for them and for my heart. I sometimes hate myself for the emotional energy that gets consumed in my obsession to save the unsaveable. The Lord has just wired me to be filled with awe and compassion for his world and his creatures. These kittens were too sick and too young for me to bring back from the brink of death-even though I have been very successful raising baby animals who were quite young but in good health otherwise. I am sure the reason the last kitten who died last evening had such a depressing affect on me is that I had her for 4 days and I had hoped that she would be a survivor-but she had an abscess on her navel that caused infection to invade her tiny little body that even an antibiotic from the vet could not cure. I did my best-she was warm and clean and fed and deeply cared for. I had an excellent home lined up for her if she had made it.
When I see suffering in the animal kingdom I am always reminded of the terrible suffering that goes on in this fallen world daily. It reminds me of the millions of aborted babies who are ruthlessly murdered in the womb by their mothers and their accomplices. I am reminded of the thousands of children around this globe who die of starvation-abuse and neglect daily. Sometimes the suffering that is out of sight is also out of mind-and we need reminders that the good life that most of us have experienced in America for the past 200 years is not the natural state that most humans have experienced since the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden. Don't forget that western Christian-what you and I have experienced is a cushy life compared to the cradle to grave suffering and misery in most of the world for most of history.
It took dying kittens to start my ponderings of a suffering and dying world that is foreign to most of us. Only the Gospel can bring hope to the real world. Because the promise of the Gospel is that at God's appointed time there will be an end to sin-misery-suffering & death. Because of the death burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ-not only was sin atoned-but the promise was given to God's redeemed that this life and all of the misery that most of the world deals with daily will end. This world and everything bad thing in it are temporary-very temporary.
I am grieved when I see Christians who have it so good here-in this world-that they do not look for and anxiously await the return of Christ. May we never forget that the end of the world is approaching-whatever your eschatological view. Those that love His appearing seem to be few-imo. We must treasure not just our salvation from sin-but also the coming of the Lord(or our going to Him) above all. The truth is that for those of us who love God-who joy in Christ and his redemption-the very best is yet to come!
I am thankful that those dear little kittens started me meditating and pondering truths that are priceless treasures. It is our duty to support in every way possible the Gospel being published to this dying world. Quite honestly-the Gospel is the only good news that our sin filled and suffering world must hear.
Saturday I talked about how easy it is to let bitterness drown the soul when affliction and suffering are dogging our steps. One of the big remedies for bitterness is to have thankful heart. I think it is a true statement that bitterness and thanklessness are twin sins-they go together and if you allow one to take up residence the other one is sure to follow.
I will never forget the first time I read Romans 1:20-21 and had a life changing understanding of how important verses 1:18 through 1:24 are in showing a downward progression that leads to the wrath of God. When people suppressed the truth-they refused to glorify God and were not thankful-they then became futile in their thoughts and their foolish hearts were darkened. I realized that day how destructive it is to not give thanks to God in every circumstance.
Notice that I said in every circumstance and not for every circumstance. In the worst circumstances of life and in the face of great loss we can and must raise our voice to the Lord in thankful praise. We are thankful that he is sovereign over every situation that comes our way. He is not surprised by our suffering-he has lovingly decreed it-for a purpose that we may not understand until we see him face to face. I want to list just a couple of the reasons we can be thankful in all circumstances.
We are thankful because God is our refuge and a very present help in time of trouble Ps. 59:16 &Ps. 46:1-3. These powerful verses remind us that we will not fear even if the earth is removed-because God is our God-we hide under his mercy and grace always protected and loved as his children. God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. NKJV
We are thankful for the One who cried out to his Father in the garden to have the cup of God's wrath removed-but loved the will of the Father above all his suffering-Our Savior understands our tears. Heb 5:7-8 who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. NKJV NKJV Heb 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. NKJV
One more thing and I will be done for today. I really want to talk much about the topic of thankfulness, but in small doses-because big issues are better digested in small doses. We can be thankful and not bitter because anything we face in this life is only temporary. Talk about a reason to rejoice and be glad! Weeping may endure for the night-but joy comes in the morning. We may be relieved of some of our sorrows in this life or we may not-but this is certain-we will be relieved and for some of us that day will come sooner than later. God himself will wipe away every tear from the eyes of his own. Rev 21:3-4 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." NKJV
In light of these truths a thankless heart is inexcusable and has no place in the life of any believer.
I have been considering lately how easy it is for bitterness to creep into the human heart-Christan as well as the unbelieving. Severe affliction is as likely to cause the growth of bitterness as it is to cause the growth of sweetness if we are not watchful of our souls.
The scripture is replete with warnings about bitterness and what it will do to us if it conquers us instead of us conquering it. No one on earth has had to battle this with more vigor than me-and I ask God daily to keep my heart soft and pliable in his hands-and to never let me be fooled that I am ok when I am not. I talk to my trusted friends and ask them to help me be sure I am doing ok in my battle against this sin-because it is a soul destroyer.
The Word of God has this to say in Ephesians: Eph 4:29-32 ESV Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
In this passage we learn some really important things about bitterness (1) It grieves the Holy Spirit of God. (2) it is usually found traveling around in the heart with other bad things like anger-wrath-clamor-slander and malice(desire to inflict injury, harm, or suffering on another).(3) God has given us the means to fight this sin as we put on kindness-tenderheartedness-forgiveness just as God in Christ has forgiven us.
Bitterness in the heart of the Christian can be caused by many things. Here are three things that I know can make us vulnerable to having a bitterness takeover. (1) Not having an answer to the why questions. Honestly-we don't live very long in this world before we realize the answer to why things happen to us are rarely known this side of eternity. The whys generally don't bother me anymore but I do battle with the "how long" question a lot. Soreason (2) is this-unrelenting suffering that seems to have no end in view. Reason (3) is that someone has wounded or offended us in a grievous way-and maybe they don't even see it it or care. Here are just three reasons -there are dozens more but I want to be brief today. Many of you can relate to one or more of those 3-we have all been there or will be if we live long enough.
This warning is a stern one form Hebrews: Heb 12:14-15 ESV Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
We see here that a root of bitterness can defile many -but that the Grace of God is a powerful weapon against bitterness ruling over us. As you meditate on the first passage you will note again that bitterness never dwells alone in the heart-it always has wicked company.
What is necessary in this battle is a constant intake of the Word of God-constant vigilant prayer-accountability to trusted advisers and a heart overflowing with God's sufficient Grace.
Today is a big day-I guess. Many thousands of Christians and Conservatives(not always the same animal) are turning out to support Chick-Fil-A. I did not get to do this myself because they are not in my town. If they were I probably would have gone and had a nice Chicken sandwich.
I am not a Christian who believes that politics or boycotting-or turning out in support of a very slandered and bullied business changes very much. In the long run God and God alone is able to change the course of....anything.
What I do have a problem with is some Christians on FB and some Christian bloggers that try to take the high ground and criticize Christians who did turn out in support of CFA today. I read one blogger this morning who said Christians were not promoting the Gospel and may alienate their gay friends by participating today. It never occurred to me once that Christians who ate at CFA today are trying to promote the Gospel-I scratched my head trying to figure that one out. One blog in particular had this to say, here "I want to pull these sisters and brothers aside and ask them what
they think they are accomplishing by publicly declaring their love for
Chick-Fil-A. Do they feel they are supporting the first amendment? Do
they believe that eating a chicken biscuit sends a message to governing
officials like Thomas Menino and Rahm Emanuel that they can’t force
their views on others? Or do they think they are taking a stand for the
traditional definition of marriage? If all these Christians are motivated by protecting their first
amendment rights, then let’s make that clear. If the goal is to win the
culture war by purchasing waffle fries, I want no part of this buycott silliness."
Now that sent me scrambling to my FB page and then here to explain something: Going out to Chick-Fil-A today is not about the Gospel at all-so I wish
all the take the high ground bloggers would just stop. As far as I can
tell Christians and conservatives did not turn out to Chick-Fil-A today
to further the Gospel or to alienate gays-they turned out to stand up
against the liberal bullies who would love nothing more than to destroy a
great business because of a very mild response
to a question about family-and to say we stand with you Mr Cathy and
Chic-Fil-A against being bullied into silence. Conservatives have turned
out to say-I will not stand for your bullying tactics you leftists.
Here is Mr. Cathy's original statement.
"In the interview with the Biblical
Recorder of North Carolina that sparked the furor, Mr. Cathy supported
traditional marriage, though the words “gay,” “homosexual” or anything
similar never explicitly came up. “We are very much supportive of
the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a
family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our
first wives. We give God thanks for that. We know that it might not be
popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we
can share our values and operate on biblical principles."
Is this a reason to act like a bunch of mad dogs in the desire to rip a
good company to bits(as the left has done)? No friends -it is not. We
better be pushing back against the left or they will destroy all our
rights to teach God's Word and speak God's truth.
The day is fast approaching when it will be illegal to do this kind of video. I am reminded of the following quote by Ronald Regan "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We
didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought
for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we
will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."
It's February and time for me to talk myself out of the dark place I usually go at this time of the year. Having suffered much loss in the last couple of decades including the death of my only child in an auto accident and the life threatening illness and disability of my husband-I know much more than I would choose to know about pain.
Every year at this time I end up asking the same question of the Lord-and it's not surprising that the answer never changes to this question of mine about suffering. I understand that what I deserve is Hell -that is what I have earned. However because of the death and resurrection of Christ on my behalf-I will never suffer Hell-for which I will thank and praise God eternally.
The wonderful gift of my eternal salvation has not excluded me from pain in my life here on this earth though. I am convinced that the normal Christian life is full of trial, temptation and pain-that is the history of the people of God-the norm. We here in the West know little of suffering for our faith-and that could change very quickly. However most of us who know Christ do know that pain in this life is a happening.
One of the truths that always comforts my heart about this is to realize that Jesus is called the "Suffering Servant" and "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief". No one understands grief better than the Lord Jesus Christ. We have a High Priest that can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities-He knows and understands pain and a crushed heart. God has an eternal purpose for His glory in our pain. If we fail to have an eternal perspective in this life-we will surely stumble-and become bitter.
The answer to the mending of a broken heart for the suffering saint is exactly the same as it was last year when I asked it. We all need to be reminded. Below is a portion of what I wrote last year about the mending of a broken heart.
"Since the fall of the human race as recorded in Genesis Chpt. 3 and the
curse that the entire creation has been put under-life-for most humans
has been full of hardship and heartbreak. Some of our sorrow is due to
our own foolishness and sinfulness. I am not talking about that today. I
just want to share with you today how God heals the wounded and broken
hearts of those who love him and belong to him. I can speak from
experience about this subject-because I am one of those people. If you
are a believer in Christ-you will suffer loss. You will experience
pain-you will be afflicted.
I can remember those early days after the death of my son-it was so
unexpected-so sudden. My husband has medical issues and is disabled. My
son was such a help to me with his father-and the two were best friends.
We saw him everyday-the three of us would take a daily walk with our
dogs. I remember my pleas to God-I wanted to know WHY? It made no sense
to me at all. I needed my son-I had had enough loss in my 50 years. In
the depths of this dark despair-as I cried out to the Lord day and night
with my broken heart-I was given a treasure. The treasure was mine all
the time-but the Lord had to show it to me clearly because in that dark
place-I could not see. I began to read and mediate on and memorize Psalm
91. This is a wonderful place to stay for awhile if you are in the
midst of suffering. I remember praying that psalm to God daily-a
sentence here-a verse there. I remember the comfort the nearness of God
himself brought to me. Ps 91:1 He who dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him will I trust.
Iam so fond of my times with Job-though few of us have ever
suffered like he did-I feel he is a kindred spirit for sure. I can still
remember Job's anguished cry the first time I read it and really
understood what he was feeling in his heart. Job 23:1-7 Then Job answered and said:
2 "Today also my complaint is bitter;
my hand is heavy on account of my groaning.
3 Oh, that I knew where I might find him,
that I might come even to his seat!
4 I would lay my case before him
and fill my mouth with arguments.
5 I would know what he would answer me
and understand what he would say to me.
6 Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power?
No; he would pay attention to me.
7 There an upright man could argue with him,
and I would be acquitted forever by my judge.
Job had lots of questions for the Lord-and he longed for a chance to
contend with the Almighty about his suffering. He wanted an audience
with God-he wanted to remind the Lord what a righteous man he was-he
longed to be acquitted of the accusations against him -by his so called
friends. He wanted an answer to his WHYS!
Then when we get to chapter 38- God finally shows up.I am putting a tiny
portion of that passage here-I ask you to read Job chapters 38-42-these
are some of the greatest chapters in the entire Bible when we have
unanswered questions for God. Job 38:1-4
1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
2 "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
3 Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
4 "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
It saysin verse one that God answered Job-but God's answer to
Job is a series of questions that bring Job to his knees in worship-as
we see in chapter 42. Job 42:1-6
Then Job answered the Lord and said:
2 "I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?'
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4 'Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.'
5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
6 therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes."
You will notice through the entire discourse with Job that God never
answers the question of WHY-which we think we must have. The way that
God mends broken hearts is not by answering why-but by answering WHO?
I can't tell you how life changing it has been to me to understand that
the more I know God-Who He is and what He is like-the less need I have
to know why. Please do not misunderstand-the pain of these losses will
never be entirely erased in this life (a mended heart is always
scarred)-the choice that has to be made in the time when the pain
threatens to undo us is to focus on God. Who he is-What he has done for
you and me through the cross of Christ-the promises he has made to us
that are fast and sure.
If you are a Christian-you will suffer loss of one kind or another on a
regular basis. Make your life a mission to study God-because knowing God
is the only thing that makes any sense of suffering.
To put it another way-God mends a broken heart by the revelation of Himself: this my soul knows very well."
I can't say it any better today than I did last year.
It has been my delight to discover professor Grant Horner's Bible reading plan, taking me on a wonderful journey through the Bible in a year. I first read about the plan from a tweet by Nathan Bingham(if you don't follow him on Twitter-you should as he tweets a wealth of resources daily). That tweet led me to the Ligonier Websitewhere Nathan has compiled a list of great Bible reading plans. After looking at all of them I chose the Horner plan because of Professor Horner's explanation of what this plan has done in his own life-and what it can do for others like me.
Much to my delight I also found that TimChallies( who explains the planHere) is inviting us all to use this plan on a FaceBook page, and now I am doing this with a group of more than 1000 other people and can post comments about the day's reading etc. It is a real blessing to see what others are learning and discovering too.
The final icing on the cake for this reading plan is that there is an app. for your iphone or ipad that you can download for free-it is called Bible Bookmarks. Go to the app. store and download it and you can track your daily progress from your device. The beauty of this is that you don't have to write anything down. Just click the done button and you are moved on to the next day's reading. You can also do your daily reading from the app. and you can choose from 4 different Bible translations for your reading.
I have done the reading and tracking for day one-all those beautiful chapter ones that we love so much. I had a hard time not parking in the passages, which defeats the purpose and the beauty of this plan. The strength of this plan is what it will do for you as you continue to use it. It will be an awesome tool for comparing scripture with scripture. You will be in 10 different books of the Bible and you will see how the whole of God's Word fits together in unity. Professor Horner urges us not to do a Bible study but to read methodically through at a comfortable pace. He has been doing this for 24 years, you can read his testimony about it here pt. 1 and here pt. 2.
So if you haven't settled on a plan for this year-you may really like this one. Let me know what you think.
I am a wife, mother, homemaker,Women's Bible study teacher and very amateur theology buff. I am a sinner(a fact I am reminded of daily) who has been saved by a great Savior. I have named my blog "A Good Finish" because how you finish your Christian life is really more important than how you started it(especially as you near the end of your days on earth). Paul said it this way "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith". I really can't say it any better than that. It is my desire to have a strong finish. Old saints should glow with the glory of a life lived with and for their Lord. That is my prayer and my desire but not always my reality!