The Great Physician

I am one of those people with a rare fact: I have never had stitches, broke a bone, or stayed overnight at a hospital (outside of my first few days from the womb). I had a surgery once, but it was only to get my tonsils taken out. I got free popsicles that day, so that doesn’t really count. Sometimes I wish I had more tonsils to give just so I could get another free popsicle.

But anyways… sometimes I forget that God is seen as the Great Physician. I ask for healing, but sometimes I forget what “healing” means. Whether it is spiritual or emotional or physical, it is hard for me to conceptualize “being made better,” because sometimes I forget that I was ever sick… mostly because I rarely get sick. So sometimes I pray for healing not really knowing what that means. I ask for something my mind doesn’t completely understand. When I get my answer – when healing has finally warmed its place within my heart of hearts – I don’t really realize that anything happened. Then months later the light bulb will burst forth with an iridescent shine above my brow as I realize that the pain I once felt was gone, and I am now more complete than before.

God is good like that. He heals when we don’t know we are sick. He sees the disease when we merely see the symptoms. He heals us when we don’t realize we are hurting. God is good like that. He is the Great Physician, and He has come to heal.

I think when God takes us under the knife there are one of two types of ailments he is alleviating. There is the tumor and the appendix. The tumor is an obvious threat. It is a protrusion bulging from one’s true self. It is a growth of miscalculated DNA that is slowly sucking the life out of a person. They clearly see this as something that isn’t right. The signs are seen from a mile away! One look in the mirror is a reminder that this person needs to change.

Maybe you have a bad habit that you just can’t shake. Maybe sometimes you burst out in a fit of rage to the ones that you love, and you quickly retreat to a place of self-loathing and grief. If you remain how you are, the outcome is simple: you will never become the person you need to be, and push everyone you love away. It is scary. And you know it is time to change.

The appendix for mankind was probably something that was needed a long time ago, but over time man had adapted to a point where the appendix now just exists. And in man, sometimes the appendix gets filled with disgusting stuff, and what was originally created to help man now might kill him if not removed. I think mankind is like that with some things. As a child, God put defense mechanisms or habits in some people’s paths to protect them in their pain or ignorance. But some of these things will have to eventually go for the person to mature, or they will become stagnant.

Maybe through God’s provision He helped you get a job, but now it is time for you to take a step out in faith and move your way up the ladder of influence into another professional field. If you stay where you are, you might be at a place where you aren’t challenged or used to the best of your ability. You aren’t only doing yourself a disfavor but you are also disfavoring God and the world.

Most people find it really easy to see the tumors in their lives. Addictions and social sins paint a grim picture of one’s self-image. Because of this, people usually spend most of their lives working on getting rid of the tumors in their lives. They spend so much time on trying to remove their own tumors, that they miss God’s hand and miss noticing the appendix. For this reason, it is usually ignoring the slow and increasing pain of the appendix that kills people (I am speaking strictly spiritually here).

You can try to improve yourself, but remember that God is the One who is promised to be faithful to sanctify through and through. Also, remember that you need to be holistic when approaching Christ-likeness. Not doing the right thing is just as bad as blatantly doing the wrong thing. Knowing who you are in Christ is the first step to becoming more like him. Remember that Christ took the pain of the cross for our holistic healing.

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Birthday Suit Buffoonery.

What is the point of taking off our clothes?

Well… to put new clothes on. Duh!

Why don’t we just wear the same clothes every day?

Well… because that is gross and unhygienic.

It seems so dumb to explain it this way, but we get naked to get clean and change in to clean clothes. We wear a myriad of different garments, because sometimes the clothes we have on get dirty. I know… you thought it was because Capitalism told you that you needed to have BOGO shirts that are marked-up because they have a company’s personal logo (or is it, “billboard”?) written on it. But you have a closet full of clothes, because sometimes you have to take old clothes off and put new ones on.

I was doing some research in Colossians and reached a point in chapter 3 where Paul was telling the Gentile Christians to “put off” their old selves and “put on” their new selves. Paul focused on telling the believers not to partake in sexual sins specifically (Col 3:5) and sins of speech (Col 3:8). He said that by believing in Christ, they had taken off their old selves and had put on themselves a new self which was in the image of its creator – an image similar to Adam before the Fall (Gen 1:26-28).

I think the church has focused too much on taking off the old self and has forgotten about putting on a new self.

And people are just living life confused in their birthday suits.

All I hear from Christians is everything every person is doing wrong. Secular music is doing this, or public school is doing that. They forget to tell people the things they should be doing instead. They don’t notice the good things that some people are already doing either.

Paul here in Colossians 3:5, 10, and 12 specifically uses words that are associated with putting on and off clothing. Imagine the believers, after accepting Christ, stripping all the dirty and putrid clothes that once represented who they were. Cool. Their slate is clean. But if they would have stopped there, then they would be naked – spiritually in the buff. They needed to put on themselves clothes that marked what they were as believers – clean clothes like those of their Creator.

Now some would think that Paul would go on to explain personal characteristics that the believers needed to have to be holy. But Paul calls them holy before he tells them what they needed to do!!! Their holiness was not measured by what they did; it was a status of who they were now as God’s chosen people. These virtues are considered an application of their holy standing before God. These virtues don’t make them holy! “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…”

Also, Paul did not encourage virtues to the Colossians that could be attained by one person alone. Paul shared virtues that could only be shared within a community – compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. These are things that each individual had to work on within them selves but for the sake of the community. Paul then shifts to how the community has to act together – with forgiveness, love, in peace and with thanksgiving.

I see so many people judge others for all the wrong that they are doing, when they themselves aren’t doing any good.

They just aren’t doing anything evil.

And that just makes them naked:

A truly indecent exposure.

Sometimes we can get so focused on working on ourselves that we become hermits and forget that Christianity isn’t for ourselves. It is for others – receiving reconciliation and being a part of that reconciliation to the world (Col 1:20-23)! The only vice in Colossians 3:5 that wasn’t sexual in nature was about self-centeredness – which was then called, “idolatry.” Don’t live for yourself.

Don’t make an idol of yourself.

Live for others. Don’t just strip yourself of all the bad in your life, but embrace the good. Put on a new change of clothes! Reach out to others. Love binds all virtues together (Col 3:14). It binds all people together. And it is contagious! You can’t live for God if you are not living for others – in your house, in your church, in your community.

For the sake of us all, will you put on some clothes?

“It’s About the Call.”

“For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding…” -Prov 2:6

It is always an encouraging moment for a pastor when they realize that something has finally “clicked” with a person to whom they are ministering to.

I remember Pastor Heather had an open forum one night at youth group (yes, I had a female youth pastor). At this time, I had committed my life to Christ, but not everything had “clicked” yet. My older sister had gotten saved six months after me, and she had quickly grown more mature than me as a “new believer.” I remember at the forum someone had asked a question about the existence of God, and I raised my hand to respond… once Pastor Heather allowed time for peers within the youth group to give their opinions on the questions asked. What I responded with was the Teleological Argument for the Existence of God – though I didn’t know what that was at the time. I remember Pastor Heather’s countenance turned from interest to bewilderment as I explained that the world around us shows design and that must point to a Designer – a very profound thing for a young teen to understand and articulate.

Recently, I heard my good friend Osheen preach at my college alma mater. Her text was that from Exodus – when Moses gets called by God to deliver the Israelites (she craftily referenced the movie, “The Prince of Egypt”). Her application of the text was focused on insecurities and the call of God. Moses believed that God would deliver His people, but Moses didn’t think that he would be the means of that deliverance. But he wasn’t – Osheen made that clear. Oftentimes we put Moses as the main character when it is God through whom deliverance came.

I think a lot of one-liner’s are platitudinous. But one that I think holds merit is that God doesn’t call the equipped, but He equips the called.

When I first got saved in 2003, I didn’t know anything about the Bible. I literally didn’t know what the “Book of John” meant. I ended up settling in 1John because I thought that the 1, 2, and 3 before John’s name were chapter marks. I remember also being confused as to why the Psalms didn’t rhyme, and why all the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) were practically the same story about Jesus’ life and death and resurrection. The Bible was just a book to me.

After I got saved, I found that Proverbs was known as the “book about wisdom” in the Bible, so I thought that I would start there. Every single night I would read Proverbs 1-4, one passage from the Old Testament, and one passage from the New Testament, and I would ask God to give me wisdom so that I would understand Him more, and in understanding Him, find more reasons to love him.

Today, I have my B.A. in “Bible & Theology.” I graduated Cum Laude, and I got to serve on various ministries at my school: student government, traveling ministry teams, and even as president of my school’s philosophy club. I owe so much to Central Bible College, whose slogan was, “It’s About the Call,” at the time when I applied. They helped equip me and helped me to learn how to use wisdom and the Holy Spirit to make God’s Word be more than just a book, but come to life!

It is so humbling for me to look back and remember who I was when I got saved – a rebellious teen that listened to Metallica and knew nothing about the Bible whatsoever. But it is crazy that God will use the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. God has done so much through me intellectually that there is no way I can say that I learned this all on my own… I am not that smart! It was by the power of the Holy Spirit that God’s Word was illuminated to me. And I need to always remember that.

If you feel like you aren’t qualified for the task that you feel God has called you to just remember that you are feeling the same way almost all of the prophets of the Old Testament felt. Ask God for wisdom and seek it. And remember that God is going to do things bigger than your own capacity, because He will get the glory for it! It is truly a miraculous thing for God to do the extraordinary through ordinary and mundane human beings. Don’t get discouraged. Be firm. Stay faithful.

“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding…” -Prov 3:13

To God be the glory forever and ever,

Amen.

People. Politics. Perception.

It was an early spring night and all seemed right in the world. The young couple was sitting alone in a parking lot, and though the air was getting warmer, the windows of the car were nonetheless foggy to a point that the windows were translucent. These teenagers sat in the car alone feeling as though no one in the world knew where they were or what they were doing. It was as though time had stopped.

After several minutes, however, headlights were seen in the near distance, and some of the kids’ friends were seen coming towards the car with toilet paper and other mischievous items in hand. After a confusing ordeal, the boy in the car put his hand on the window to alert the others he was there. The pranksters saw this and knew that though they might’ve been caught, that what they assumed of the couple was even worse. This was totally inappropriate behavior for people of their reputations…

One of the things that I’ve noticed over the past couple months is that we always assume the worst of people. Whether its Barack Obama or Mitt Romney or Tim Tebow, it seems like the world is ready for people to make a mistake – to mess up and fail.

We watch getting close or being open to some people we first meet because of things we hear about them from others. We judge people before we are even introduced to them! We assume we know motives, actions, and hearts, because we have seen this kind of “lurking” behavior before.

Think of how many amazing opportunities we have missed because we have assumed the worst from someone or something or some situation.

There are friendships we might’ve missed because we heard from a friend of a friend that they were bad news. There are lives that aren’t changed because we assumed that the life or situation the person is in can’t and won’t be changed…

But even if that is true, don’t they deserve the chance?

And don’t we deserve to give it to them?

It was March 2008 when I was found in that car with that girl. We had watched a midnight showing of a new movie that had just come out, and our friends had just dropped us off at her car. She was giving me a ride home, but we got distracted and started to talk. She was a good girl and actually had never had a boyfriend or kissed a boy at that point. But after that night, rumors went around and reputations changed… even though that night nothing happened. Even though it might’ve been our faults for putting ourselves in a situation that appeared bad, I wonder what would’ve happened if our friends just would’ve asked us and believed us on what had happened that night… To this day, I would say this is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me.

All of us have failed. All of us have fallen short. Yet God has given us a second chance. Let’s stop assuming the worst from people, and stop believing everything we hear from others – whether it’s our friends, family, co-workers, or the media. Let’s embrace those who others aren’t embracing. Let’s trust people until they themselves have given us a reason not to. And let’s realize that we have the opportunity to change a life, a family, a circumstance, and a nation by the way we perceive and judge those that we are looking at…

Because our own bitter lives are dependent on it.