Defined

sky sunset person silhouette

On a strictly human plane I owe my inspiration for this page to Nick Vujicic and the faithful blogger who suggested that her readers find him on the internet.  Nick is a man who for no medically identifiable reason  was born without arms and legs, and who against all odds has become a happy husband, father and motivational speaker who travels the world.  I was so impressed by what I saw and heard that I took notes.  One particular declaration reverberated in my heart, because I remember sharing with a friend and saying something very similar.  Nick put it this way:

I am not a man without arms and legs; I am a child of God;  I am forgiven of my sins; I am an ambassador of the King of kings and Lord of lords; I am nothing but a servant of the Most High God…Whatever Jesus conquered, I conquer.

In response to this conquering Truth, I offer the following poem of sorts:

Defined

You are not defined by your condition

physical,  mental,  or financial

You are not defined by your abilities or limitations

Your talents or gifts,  your successes or failures

You are not defined by your age

You are not defined by your height or your weight

you are not defined by your flawless complexion or your disfigurement

You are not defined by your hair,  your nose, your ears or your feet

You are not defined by the mirror

You are not defined by your education or employment

your house, your vehicle, or other possessions

You are not defined by your marital status

Your fertility or infertility

You are not defined by the opinions negative or positive of  your spouse

Your  mother-in-law,  your friends or your enemies

You are not defined by your own fluctuating  self-evaluations

You are defined by the Creator of the universe

Who looks from you to the crucified, risen, ascended and returning Christ

and declares you His child

Forgiven

Accepted

Blameless

 

Long and burdensome would be a list of ways we define ourselves and allow ourselves to be defined; but the right to define rests with God alone, and since He alone defines rightly, let us surrender our lists to Him, and allow His Truth to define our lives.

References:  1 John 1:9; Ephesians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:23,24

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From a Dream to Debridement

grayscale photography of toddler sleeping on bed
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I love it when the Lord takes me on a journey, as He did recently.  It started with a disturbing dream that awakened old memories and deep emotions.  I began thinking about wounds and how crucial it is to forgive those who have hurt us.  And somehow i found myself travelling over 40 years back in time to an isolation room where my little niece was hospitalized with second and third degree burns on her leg from backing into a  hot vaporizer.  She was there for quite some time, and I was there mostly as relief so my sister could look after things at home.  I remembered how the nurses took care of her leg:  in full sterile garb, including gloves and masks,  they would enter the room carrying their stainless steel trays of scissors, tweezers, gauze,etc.  My niece  would scream and,  through our tears,  we would try to comfort and calm her  as they carefully removed dead crusty skin and dabbed at the fresh blood…

Those memories took me to the internet where I added a new word to my vocabulary: debridement (pronounced  de-breed-ment), according to Winchester Hospital,  is the removal of unhealthy tissue from a wound to promote healing.  The process can be done several ways and for the following reasons: to remove tissue contaminated by bacteria, foreign tissue, dead cells, or crusting; to create a neat wound edge to decrease scarring; to aid in the healing of very severe burns or pressure sores; to get a sample of tissue for testing and diagnosis.

The journey made more sense as all these thoughts came together.  In Christian circles – at least,  in my circle of Christians – when emotional wounds are mentioned , we often begin to entertain the idea that unforgiveness  may be the problem.  As I considered my dream in the light of my niece’s burns and the daily debridement of her wounds, I realized that my pain wasn’t due to unforgiveness; rather, it was evidence that God cares for me enough to faithfully debride my  wounded heart of  spiritual contaminants and crust, of foreign tissue and dead cells (attitudes toward myself and others) that if left on their own would  surely hinder my health  and leave me with unsightly and unnecessary scars.

Thank you, Lord, for the journey!  Thank you for removing unhealthy tissue!  Though the process is painful, I welcome your debridement.

Faith to Start Home

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John 4 recounts the story of the king’s officer who went to find Jesus and begged Him to return home with him to heal his son, who was at the point of death.  Jesus told him rather bluntly that he was just looking for signs and miracles, and if he didn’t see them, he would never believe.  The officer pleaded all the more, “Sir, do come down at once before my child is dead!”  Jesus didn’t give him a sign or even offer to go with him; He simply gave him a word, a short command accompanied by a brief promise:  “Go in peace; your son will live!”  The officer’s response to that word is astounding: with no suggestion of offense or disappointment, he unhesitatingly “put his trust in what Jesus said and started home.”  Yes!  He started home with only a word from Jesus to put faith in his heart and confidence in his steps!  And before he got home, his servants met him and reported that his son was well, and upon questioning them, he realized that his son had begun to recover at the very hour that Jesus had given him the word – the very hour when he had started home!

John 20 tells us about Thomas insisting on seeing the nail prints in Jesus’ hands and touching His side.  When Jesus gave Thomas the opportunity to touch Him and believe, Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, Thomas, do you now believe (trust, have faith)?  Blessed and happy and to be envied are those who have never seen Me and yet have believed and adhered to and trusted and relied on Me.”

Lord, give me a heart to seek You, ears to hear You,  and faith to start home!  Let me be among the blessed, who believe though they have never seen, whose faith is activated and sustained solely by a word from you!

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Eureka!

yellow steel bathtub

Eureka! According to Wikipedia, it’s an interjection used to celebrate a discovery or invention, attributed to Archimedes’ of Syracuse (288 -212 BC),  who was perhaps the greatest scientist in antiquity.  Legend has it that when he stepped into a bath and noticed that the level of water rose, he suddenly understood that the volume of water displaced must be equal  to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged,  whereupon he is said to have been so eager to share his discovery that he leaped out of his bathtub and ran naked through the streets of Syracuse, crying “Eureka! Eureka!” .  This scientific principle explains why  a dirty ring forms around the tub at a certain level when one grubby grandson takes his bath, and why  another dirty ring forms at a higher level when the second grubby grandson joins him.   It also justifies the  lesson in Home Economics when the teacher taught us to use the water displacement method to accurately measure quantities of solid fats like shortening and butter.  Needless to say, I can’t remember when I last used it, as I’ve long since discovered – Eureka! Eureka!- that quantities don’t have to be so exact!

What brought all this to mind ?  John 3: 25-31.  The disciples of John the Baptist shared with him their concern that “everybody” was flocking to Jesus while John himself was losing followers.  John replied with both spiritual insight and exemplary humility.  Recognizing that God is sovereign, that He rules the universe, John assured his disciples that “A man can receive nothing except as it has been granted to him from heaven.”  In other words, if the popularity of Jesus was growing at the expense of John’s, it was God’s doing, and John was content with it.  He knew he wasn’t the Christ, and he had no need to be more than the forerunner God had appointed him to be. He didn’t have to be the bridegroom; his joy was complete in being the groomsman.  With straightforward simplicity he summarized what should be the guiding principle of every believer:  “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

We can’t have it both ways.  If we want Christ to increase in our lives, we have to decrease.  Like Archimedes, my grandsons, and solid fat, we have to go down in order for Him to go up.  It’s all very scientific, but what does it mean in practical terms?  How do we decrease in a way that will allow Christ to increase?

Have you ever waited in line for something and let someone else go ahead of you?  Of course you have!  We all have!  It’s called being polite, kind, or thoughtful, and it’s what this principle is all about – being spiritually polite, kind, and thoughtful.  Put simply, we decrease when we put God first (His will and His way) each and every day; when we honour and prefer others over ourselves (Romans 12:10); and when we are like John, not estimating or thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought (Romans 12:3).

Naked Archimedes isn’t the only one to discover exciting, irrefutable and  practical truths.  Dear christian, keep your clothes, but do celebrate the discovery; apply and eagerly share John’s Principle of Increase and Decrease! Eureka! Eureka!  Eureka!

 

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Sunday Science Lesson

black and red computer motherboard

Want to know what goes through my mind on a Sunday morning?  Here’s an example… Electricity (power) functions with two types of materials: conductors and insulators.  Conductors, like gold, silver, copper, and aluminum have free electrons which allow them to conduct electrical current very easily.  Insulators, like glass,air, plastic, rubber and wood hold on tightly to their electrons, oppose electrical current,  and make poor conductors. In most materials even the outermost electrons are so tightly bound that there is essentially zero electron flow through them with ordinary voltages.

This speaks to me of  my response to the power of the Holy Spirit.   Are my “electrons”  free or tightly bound?  Are my heart and mind open or closed?  Do I allow the Holy Spirit to flow through me?  Am I a conductor or an insulator?

That Sunday morning I prayed that those gathering for worship and fellowship would each be a good conductor, readily receiving and allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to flow through us.  It was elementary science, but it gave me a fresh perspective and a   lesson  I won’t soon forget!

 

 

 

 

No Reply

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

I’m not sure why, but when someone asks me a question, my automatic response is to attempt an answer.  This wasn’t the case with Jesus.  Sometimes He flatly refused to answer.

Luke 20 relates an incident that took place at the temple:  Jesus was teaching and preaching when the chief priests , scribes and elders came up and said to Him, “Tell us by what authority You are doing these things?  Or who is it who gave You this authority?”  Their question may have been valid, but Jesus recognized that instead of  acknowledging His authority, they were actually challenging it, so he put the ball back in their court and cornered them by asking them a question they weren’t bold enough to answer: “Was the baptism of John from heaven, or from men?”  After arguing, discussing and reasoning among themselves, they decided that no matter how they answered, they would find themselves on the wrong side of politics!  They gave up and told Jesus they did not know from where it came, ” and at that Jesus concisely and authoritatively brought the interruption to a halt with these words, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Again in Luke 23, it is recorded that Jesus was sent to appear before Herod Antipas because Pilate could find no fault in Him.  Herod was eager to see Jesus because He had heard so much about Him, “So he asked Him many questions, but He made no reply.”  Herod was giving Jesus one last opportunity to speak for justice and to defend Himself, but as Isaiah had prophesied years before, “He opened not His mouth.”  Did He have nothing to say?  Not likely! This was a moment of unyielding self-control, of holding Himself in check; well able to reply, Jesus chose to rule His own spirit (Prov. 16:32) and say nothing.

What do these incidents teach me?  Sometimes the best answer to a question is another question, and some questions shouldn’t be answered at all.  I don’t have to – nor should I – answer every question that comes my way.  No reply is in fact a reply, don’t you think?

 

 

Tell Nothing

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And Jesus charged him sternly (sharply and threateningly, and with earnest admonition),and [acting with deep feeling thrust him forth and] sent him away at once.

And said to him, See that you tell nothing [of this] to anyone…

-Mark 1:43,44

The “him” in this incident is a leper, whom Jesus has healed.  We can only imagine the awestruck excitement of this man who had come to Jesus and begged, “If You are willing, You are able to make me clean.”  His heart must have been beating out of his chest, and his mouth so full of praise that I see him like a race horse waiting for the gate to open: “Let me go!  Let me go!  Let me tell what You have done for me!”  Shockingly, Jesus forbade  him to say even a word about it, and, not so shockingly, human nature being what it is, Mark tells us that “he went out and began to talk freely about it and blaze abroad the news [spreading it everywhere].”

I used to think that Jesus was using reverse psychology in this case: that he really wanted everyone to know about Him, and that by telling the man not to talk, He was guaranteeing that the man would spread the news everywhere.  Not so.  Jesus meant what He said.  It really wasn’t time for publicity, and because the man who was healed didn’t listen to Jesus,  he actually hindered His work to the point that Jesus “could no longer openly go into a town but was outside in [lonely] desert places.”

Strange evangelistic program!  “Tell nothing [of this] to anyone!”  We usually encourage people to talk freely about what the Lord has done for them and others, but this incident demonstrates the importance of  hearing the Lord and doing what He says.  Sometimes we can talk too much, too soon, and actually hinder what God is doing.