Tag Archives: pain

don’t feel bad for your self, just contempt

I am reading a newly published biography/collection of essays – John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine and Doxology (Reformation Trust, 2008).  I have read and re-read a particular statement by Sinclair Ferguson with regard to Calvin’s view of himself and God’s kingdom.

Calvin sought, personally, to develop a balance of contempt for the present life with a deep gratitude for the blessings of God and a love and longing for the heavenly kingdom.

This is killer.  As the Sonship (World Harvest) curriculum teaches us about the gospel… we only magnify the cross as we grasp the magnitude of our sin.  And therefore if we minimize our sin and stuggle, we shrink the cross.  SOOOO – contempt for my life and this broken world it is… contempt for my perpetual struggle to control my tongue, my rash anger, my attitude. Contempt for my struggles to listen to people, to have my heart break with/for people.  Contempt for a broken world of oppression and ignoring people who hurt and disease and death and broken relationships.

Only by that contempt comes a CROSS magnified comprehension of all for which Christ came to live and die!  Only by that contempt comes KINGDOM passion and desire and surrender. 

Should I feel bad for myself when life does not work out the way I want, when my weaknesses in my flesh get the best of my body, mind or soul?  No, not bad… just contempt, whereby I might have a contemptuous comprehension of a comprehensive cross.  Amen.

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Sexual Brokenness and the Gospel

This weekend, Cornerstone PCA and Calvary Bible Fellowship Church are hosting Harvest USA’s

Sexual Brokenness and the Gospel Seminar

Unfortunately, the myriad of sexual-brokenness related needs have skyrocketed in our church and sexual culture.  The normalcy of pornography and image desensitizing has risen to epidemic proportions.  I could put statistics here, but that would only be shock valule about how many others struggle.  If you struggle with sexual brokenness – guilt from the past, addiction in the present, family exposure (perhaps you are a casualty of some else’s struggle) – and you live in our near the Lehigh Valley of PA, join us for this incredible gospel-centered weekend.  Email me for details.

It is not a conference on sexual perversion or sexual evil… but the reality of sexual brokenness.  How many of us break over the misuse of something God created to be good and beautiful and guiltless??!!  The weekend is for men and women, singles and marrieds, parents and youth.  All of us live in a sensual culture that leaves its wake of tears. 

Join us.  If you cannot or live outside of our target, pray for the Harvest USA speakers and the individuals/families who will be joining us.  If you personally struggle with an addiction and desire to discover release and resurrection victory but you don’t know where to turn, email me should you choose (jim@cornerstonepca.net). 

 The gospel of Christ’s righteousness given to us IS relevant to this broken need.  It is a safe solution that is no longer costly to you and me… Christ has borne the cost of your freedom from this enslavement.  There is hope!  There is freedom!  There is forgiveness!  There is guiltlessness!  There is a Redeemer who was broken for our brokenness, that we might be whole.  Soli deo gloria!

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Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters is a correspondence between Uncle Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood, two demons setting about the deceit of their ‘patients’ – you and me – who they DO NOT want to be in the secure grip of their Enemy – Christ.

Last night I read something that is worth broadcasting:

Screwtape wrote to young Wormwood about you and me, his “patients”…

Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation – the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks.  If you had watched your patient carefully you would have seen this undulation in every department of his life – his interest in his work, his affection for his friends, his physical appetites, all go up and down.  As long as he lives on earth periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty.  The dryness and dullness through which your patient is now going are not, as fondly suppose, your workmanship; they are merly a natural phenomenon which will do us no good unless you make a good use of it. 

Screwtape writes on:

To decide what the best use of it [this life of peaks and valleys] is, you must ask what use the Enemy [God the Father] wants to make of it, and then do the opposite.  Now it may suprise you to learn that in His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He [God the Father] relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks; some of His special favourites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else…   It is during the trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that the patient is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be.  Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best. 

But of course the troughs afford opportunities on our side also.  Next week I will give you some hints on how to exploit them,  Your affectionate uncle Screwtape

What an acknowledgement of the GOSPEL becoming LIFE for us when we are in the troughs of weakness.  What a warning on the necessity that we look to God alone in our times of trial – the “troughs of life” afford immense opportunity for the enemy as well.

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laying it all out there

I recently met a new friend, a PCA gospel friend, who started out our conversation by saying: “I’ve read your blog and you really lay it all out there.”  Do I?  Or maybe I’m holding back much more, and my heart – like yours – is darker and more corrupt than could ever be shown?  Perhaps I do do lay it all out there. 

Then a church attendee told me last night that if I ever stop sharing the struggles of my own life when I preach that she will stop listening. She said the same: “Thanks for not holding back.”  To which I said, “Well I do hold back some things.  I don’t tell people how often I beat my wife.”  JOKE.

I don’t even know what  it is to lay it all out there.  But I know that this blog is my place to honestly divulge that I am the worst of sinners with the most need for dependence on Christ.  I really do feel that way. 

Last week was horrible.  Scary thing was – I started the week with multiple announcements to my family that it was going to be the best week ever.  Work on Monday.  Then New Year’s Eve.  Bowl games on Tuesday.  Fiesta Bowl on Wednesday night (atta boy Papa).  Les Miserables on Broadway on Thursday.  Day off on Friday.  Wedding party on Saturday.  The best week ever.

Not really.  See, I have always known that, even on the good days, I have isolated moments of selfishness.  Just moments so I thought – until last week.  Then last week I realized why my life is often a string of selfish moments (you know, with the good life being the links on the chain)… it is a string of selfish moments because I am as self-absorbed as Satan was before he his Fall.  Maybe an exaggeration.  Could be.

I’ll leave the actual selfish tantrums for you to imagine… but I say this to those who know me.  I am a sinner.  I am a husband who fails to love his wife.  I am a dad who is often interrupted by his kids – not because they do a lot of interruptions – but because I am constantly preoccupied with my life that I don’t want to have interrupted!  I am a wrecking ball of dispassion and myopic vision (I am so nearsided I see only me).  Last week, rather than mending the broken or being broken with the broken – I tended to tell the broken to get over it and quit messing up my good week.  O, and then I would go and preach or lead a Bible study or pray with people at the office… 

I am weak.  I need the gospel.  I hurt.  I hurt others.  I am not even laying it all out there… nor do I care if I have laid out too much.  Praise be to God that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ.  Praise be to God that when we are weak, he is strong.  Praise be to God that he will finish the work that he has begun in us. 

O, and I’m glad its a new week.  Nothing to hide.  Nothing to fear.  Nothing lie about.  I am the worst of sinners, but he gives more grace. 

O to plant a church where people as unilaterally messed up as me gather to worship and depend on the God of glorious grace for the weak. 

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