Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 26 September 2017

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.  Hebrews 12, verse 11.

A few more thoughts about this verse before moving on from it.  Life ‘hurts so good’ and we endure pain that can discipline us.  Pain can either break us or make us; talk about a cliché yet it’s true.  Pain made my parents and it disciplined their path home.

I’m going through a tough time right now.  I don’t want to share details at the moment but it’s a time of dread, anxiety, and uncertainty.  It seems like God is disciplining me for things I’ve done, almost like it’s punishment.   Bad decisions, risky gambles, and poor choices seem to be coming home to roost, and I’ve felt more down in the last few days than I’ve felt in years.  I take heart, however, in words like verse 11, knowing that God’s discipline is given to me in order to build discipline.   In this season of change, He’s changing things in my life to prepare for something else, something good.   When I think of it that way then things don’t seem so bleak.  When I think about the pain of these days, I think there’s something better just up ahead.

I think about my dad.   I’ve said before that I grew up thinking my dad was less than he was.  It was only when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer that I saw just how iron-strong he really was.   It wasn’t just Dad’s strength:   it was God’s strength in him.  Dad endured disfiguring surgeries, painful radiation, and sickening, weakening chemotherapy.  He had always been a handsome man, but the cancer treatment robbed him of his looks.   Dad loved to sing and listen to music, but the treatment made both unpleasant.   And even his hobby, watching movies, seemed to be badly affected because it was tough for him to sit still for long periods of time with his body trying in vain to heal.   Or even to see.  But I never heard him complain about it, not even once.   The week before he died, we were talking and he said “I don’t want this but I’ve got it.   I know where I’m going and I know it’ll be ok.”   Is that the expression of a man resigned to a death-fate, or is it the faith of a dying man expressing knowledge that God is in control?   I will always know it was the latter.

And I think about my mom.   By her choice, she spent the last year of her life in assisted living, moving to Texas to live in care and to be near some of her grand-kids.  Quite honestly though, I spent much of that year mad at her.   It had fallen to me to clean out her house and renovate it for sale:   a monumental task.   My wife and sister helped a lot, and my son and son in law helped with the move, but most of the physical, financial, and emotional work was mine.   In the last week of her life, Mom called me several times per day, asking me to come over to her new place and do things, check on things.   In-between her calls and my work, I felt frazzled and exhausted.  On the night she fell ill, her heart started racing and wouldn’t slow down.   I took her to the hospital and they admitted her.   Even though I knew inside that something was happening, I took it for granted that she would recover because she always had.   A few hours later, she had a massive heart attack and was put on life support.   A few hours after that, she briefly regained consciousness.   Confused at first, she quickly understood what was happening and spent her last few waking moments saying goodbyes, giving forgiveness and praise to people who needed it, and even telling a few jokes.   She died a few hours later.   I will always know she went home to heaven because she had expressed to me over many years her faith in God.   In her last moments, she was accepting and ready.

Please excuse all the times I’ve referred to myself in this missive.   I wanted you to know how these good people passed from this life to the next.   They did it with Godly dignity and realistic courage.  Mom died quickly; Dad lingered for months.   Both of them knew the pain of debilitation, and the pain of worry over how to meet their human responsibilities.  Yet the real love of God was stronger for both of them, and when it mattered most, the pain paled in comparison.  I don’t like the things that are happening in my life now, but when equipped with the God-loving faith my parents taught me, I know that the pain is only temporary.   That what I believe is stronger, and that the things of this world, in God’s good time, will pass.

For further reading:  Isaiah 32:17, James 3:17-18, Romans 5:3-5.

My Lord, abide with me and all who hurt.   Love us and forgive us and help us to do the work You set before us.  Help us to trust you more.

 

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Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 25 September 2017

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.  Hebrews 12, verse 11.

No pain no gain, right?   That does seem to be what the verse is saying, doesn’t it?   But here’s the kicker:   you don’t have to be in pain.   You know this is true.   All the pain ever needed was felt on the cross by our Savior.

Why is it that our country, America, seems to have so little righteousness, peace, or even discipline in it right now?   I was one of the fools caught up in debating the NFL national anthem brouhaha this weekend.   None of what I read, or even what I said, seemed very peaceful.   North Korea seems bent on starting a war and we seem more than willing to oblige their intention.   The stock market is in joyful turmoil, seemingly poised to either rise even higher or crash very soon.   Hurricanes, over-zealous media, hyper-sensitivity over small things, differences in beliefs and politics and ideologies, gender confusion, violent ‘protesters’ in the streets:  it seems like we have lost our way.   Or have we?

Isaiah said that “the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.”   Those were his inspired words over 2800 years ago.  In his day, Israel was indeed being disciplined.   Isaiah prophesied the coming messiah who would bring about peace forever.   Yet that peace would come only after great testing.

Let’s be honest:   there are nations in history who have been tested far worse than we of 21st century America are being tested now.   There are times in our history when we have been divided so much that war broke out.   There have been divisive figures all throughout history and history still clocks on today; it will continue to do so until Jesus returns as He said He would.   Until then, we are being disciplined.

Sometimes it hurts.   Death, divorce, unemployment, losing your home, sickness, pain:   they all hurt.   It hurts when God allows them into our lives.  Yet Romans reminds us that “we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”  Those beautiful verses, my wife’s favorite, don’t tell us “suck it up buttercup.”   Instead, they remind us that God is with us, at work in us even in the hardest times, and even when we don’t like it.   Good comes from bad.   Suffering teaches us about the character God built into us.   And God refines us as we persevere, instilling into us hope as a guarantee of peace to come.   Think of yourself as 10 carat gold being refined by melting into 24 carat.   The impurities are being stripped away, and that hurts.   But it’s for good.   Think of it as medical treatment for a dread condition.   Before the healing can start, the cancer needs to go away.

Right now life is hard.   It’s hard to talk with people.   It’s hard at home.   It’s hard in public and sometimes even in private.   I don’t like the feeling of being disciplined, of having God tear me down to build me up in other ways.     Yet I do know He’s doing it, and that what He does is always good, for good, to produce good.  Gain from pain?   Yes, even when, as Johnny Cougar sang, “it hurts so good.”  But we don’t need the pain because Jesus already felt it.

For further reading:  Isaiah 32:17, James 3:17-18, Romans 5:3-5.

My Lord, the refining You’re putting me through hurts.   Strengthen me to persevere by clinging to You.   Abide with me that I may come closer to You in all ways here.

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 21 September 2017

Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.  Hebrews 12, verses 9-10.

The other day I mentioned my parents, stating that they weren’t physical disciplinarians.   After my sister and I entered elementary school, I don’t remember Mom or Dad ever spanking us.   Especially Dad.   Spanking and physical discipline just wasn’t part of him.  Yet for years I thought my father was a weak man.   It was only after I grew up that I realized how wrong I was, that he was actually a good and fundamentally decent man who stood fast on principles.   Dad ‘shook off’ a lot because, if it didn’t interfere with his principles, then it didn’t matter so much.  But he rarely gave an inch when his principles were called into question.

One of those principles was that a person, especially a man, should always do their best.   I never really knew the side of my father who worked in an office.   Dad was an ammunition inspector for the Army, and I don’t recall ever seeing him in the office (because he worked on Army bases where we usually didn’t go).   But I have a box full of awards from his 30 years of work testifying that he had always done a great job.   I do remember Dad working around the house, doing all kinds of home improvements.   He self-taught those things; nobody taught him how fix electrical wiring, hang drywall, or make home repairs.   When I was growing up, except for a two year period where we lived in a house that needed no work, I don’t think I could have named a weekend when my dad didn’t work hard at something.

He always did his best.

Since I got out of the Air Force 21 years ago I have worked for eight different companies (nine if you count my own in that I’m currently an independent consultant).   I can honestly say that, for most of those jobs, I did my best.   A few times I didn’t, and one time I didn’t cost me a job last year.   I felt betrayed by those people; maybe some day I’ll share the rest of the story.   But the long and short of it was that they abandoned me so I abandoned them and it showed in my work.   These days, I love what I’m doing.   I enjoy the work, I really enjoy the team I’m working with and the ones I’m leading, and I am energized at the challenge of the task.   It’s a pleasure to do my best.   When you think about it, I wouldn’t be where I am in this job if “those people” last year hadn’t launched me along the trajectory I’m traveling today.   That’s something to be thankful for.  See what happens when you do your best?

Have you considered that God is doing His best as well?   Moreover, He’s doing it for you, on your behalf, for your good.    God made you legitimate.  He bought you back from the consequences of your sins and set you on a better path.  He gave His Son for you.  He gives you food, air, water, shelter, other people, and love and you don’t have to do anything to deserve them.   You and I are on God’s mind 24/7 even when He isn’t on ours.   Have we really considered that God does His best for us every day, even when we refuse to notice?

It seems so easy to question God when things aren’t going well for us.   It seems so easy to curse His name when we’re up against the wall, or when we don’t get what we want.   Yet have you considered that these are times when God allows (or brings) adversity into our lives to refine us for better things?   I know this is true in my own life, and it hurts when it happens.   But things always turn out for the best eventually.  God gives us only what we can handle and asks us to handle the negative things only so that it will lead us back to Him somehow.   Through them all, He still provides those things mentioned above whether we are in want or in plenty.

God’s a father like me, like my dad.   He gives us His best in all things.   It’s a trustworthy, true thing to believe, to make the bedrock of your life.  Today would be a good day to make sure we do the same for others because of Him.

For further reading:  Numbers 16:22, Revelation 22:6, Isaiah 38:16, 2 Peter 1:4.

Lord, thank You for doing Your best for me.   Your best is simply You because nothing is better than You.

 

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 20 September 2017

If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.  Hebrews 12, verse 8.

Yesterday we talked a bit about discipline, and how discipline is done through both tough words but also mentoring, listening, and a number of other positive but strict behaviors.   That’s the “what,” maybe even the “how.”   Today we get “why.”

If you aren’t disciplined, then you’re a bastard.   Know that I use that word here for effect, not as profanity.   A bastard is “a person born of unmarried parents; an illegitimate child; spurious; not genuine; false.”   That’s from dictionary.com.  If you aren’t disciplined, you’re fake and illegitimate.  Your birth is beyond your control, but claiming a birthright that isn’t yours isn’t.  You have no right to be an heir to what’s good.   Taking it a step further, if you don’t allow yourself to be disciplined by God – made a mentored disciple – then you’re that fake, that illegitimate false person.

That’s rough.  You could use the slang of that word to describe it; you might even describe me with said word.   Fair enough.   I’ll throw down another hard truth:   this isn’t teaching for lightweights, for the weak of mind.   This is serious business.   I think of myself as a serious man.   Sure, I’m lighthearted, joking, and I try to get along with most folks.  But that’s the method brought about from within.   If you strip away everything I think or believe, at the very core of it you’ll find I seriously believe in Jesus and I take that belief seriously.   It’s the bedrock of my existence.   I take it seriously because it merits serious investment of the heart.   Faith in Jesus is a matter of life and death.   Embrace the faith and live; reject the faith and die.   It really is that simple.  I want to live, so I take it seriously.

That matters because our opponent does too.  Jesus cautions us through His close friend, Peter  to “be self controlled and alert” because our “enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”   Those are powerful words, figurative in language yet packed with realistic power and warning.   The devil, a very real bastard, is a miserable demon.   He’s false.   He isn’t heir to anything.  He covets endlessly, destructively, viciously.  He wants company, and he uses every means at his disposal to lure in followers.   I don’t know what they see in him; perhaps none of us does.  Jesus called him the father of lies and Peter cautions that he’s mortally dangerous.

If you want to stand against a dangerous foe, you need discipline.   You need to be trained up in the ways of doing so.   Most of all, you need something to believe in when the foe attacks and knocks you back hard.  You can’t be false; your belief must be legitimate, honest, firm.  Jesus can give you that truth, that legitimacy, that honesty, firmness, and genuine quality that you need to stand fast.   When He gives it to you, He’s disciplining you as His brother, sister, son, and daughter.   Faith takes courage; faith requires steel in your spine.  Growing in faith is serious business, even as He honestly says that His “yoke is easy and burden is light.”  Jesus knows that and knows it can be tough.  When He disciplines us, it’s like He is drawing us closer to Himself as family.   That makes us bona fide, legitimate.

Am I disciplined?   In some ways, yes; in others I’m very much a work in progress.   Some folks might call me a bastard, though, and many of them wouldn’t use it as a compliment.  They may have a point.  If you want to not be called such things, then retool your life in such a way as to make those words inappropriate when used to describe you.   Why?   Because Jesus makes you His own.   He was serious enough about believing that that He willfully bled and died for you.   That’s serious.   After all, in Jesus there are no bastards.

For further reading:  John 8:44, Matthew 11:30, 1 Peter 5:9.

Lord, holding on to You can be tough, but You have made me legitimate.   Thank You for loving me that much.

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 19 September 2017

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?  Hebrews 12, verse 7.

When we think of parental discipline, we tend to think of punishment, that discipline is strict or harsh or carries negative connotations.   That’s all sometimes true, but it’s also only half the picture and I think it misses the kind of discipline God is advising us to share with others.  My parents weren’t harsh.   They weren’t physical disciplinarians (though we got occasional spankings) but they could sometimes be cold.   Mom and Dad had my sister and I when they were older, in their thirties (a rarity in the 1960s), and I don’t think they had it in them to be physically harsh or abusive.   They had struggled to build a family and didn’t want to be physical.  Yet they could sometimes be distant, disconnected, even mean.   They yelled and argued from time to time; what couple doesn’t.   But that was the extent of their ‘violence.’

I wish, now, that they had felt closer to God, seeing Him as a providing Father.   I wish they had been more active in ‘discipling’ us.   God, our Father, is, and in being our disciplinarian, He plays many roles.

Mentor – I believe God schools us as parents.   He wants us to be, first and foremost, mentors to our kids.  Life is the most precious gift He gives, and He gives it to we the people as parents.   We get to create these little beings like ourselves, then raise them and teach them how to live in this world.   God wants us to mentor them so they will know Him, then know the ways of the world.   By focusing kids’ view of the world through God, we teach them that He is supreme over all.   That He is the provider, giver, and lover of all.   That He is all through the world yet close inside their hearts.   The best teachers for that lesson are Mom and Dad.   They can most effectively teach it by modeling that relationship, by inspiring their kids through active examples.

Show and tell – God gives us a world to live in so that we can teach our kids how to do the same.   Sometimes that involves teaching tough lessons; sometimes it involves standing by while we watch those kids learn those tough lessons on their own.  Yet we equip them to persevere and succeed if we mentor them in the ways of the Lord, then show them how to apply that teaching in all they do.  It’s like a game of show and tell, where you bring something and show it off to your class.   In parenting, our class is our kids, and they’re interested, engaged, ready to learn.   How about we teach them about their Savior?

Listening – One of the first times I remember really connecting with my father was the night my girlfriend (my fiancée actually) and I had a huge fight.  I stayed up all night, so upset that I couldn’t sleep.   Dad woke up and asked me what was wrong.   He then spent the rest of the night listening to me talk through the relationship from start until it’s (soon to be) finish.   I believe God put it on his heart to listen to me that night, so that when he finally did open up and share some of his own story I would be ready to receive it and understand.

Leading – Finally, we must lead.  This isn’t an option:   it’s a requirement.  You may not be comfortable ‘leading from the front’ but if you’re going to be a parent (and especially if you’re going to live as a God-fearing and God-following one) then you must lead.   You don’t have to be General Patton; you aren’t Billy Graham.  God didn’t make you to be either of them (unless He did).  Instead, He made you to be you, with your own memories, experiences, and abilities.   When you’re a parent, it’s your duty – and your privilege – to lead your kids and grandkids to the Lord.   You get to serve as the go-between, facilitating the relationship they can have with their Creator.   You do that by leading, by being yourself and using your talents to inspire others.

Sometimes doing all this involves tough love.   Today’s verse reminds us of that.   Sometimes that’s even the approach God takes with us.   God doesn’t bring sin into our lives but He can and does allow, even move, sin’s consequences to affect us.   That feels harsh when it happens, but He does it to build us up.  After all, the Proverb reminds us that ‘iron sharpens iron.’  Yet even in those times of adversity, God’s providing love is still with us.   If you’re a parent, you can understand that.   You love your kids even when you discipline them because, after all, they’re disciples and you want them to grow strong.   Now go out and prove it.

For further reading:  Deuteronomy 8:5, 2 Samuel 7:14, Proverbs 13:24, Proverbs 27:17.

My Lord, I praise You for the tough love You show, for discipline in my life, and for building me up through all of it.

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 18 September 2017

And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”  Hebrews 12, verses 5-6.

If you’ve read this blog for awhile, you know I have three kids (and three grandkids).   The most important task I have on this planet is to “go and make disciples.”   I do that by using the talents God has given me to shine in front of others.   All that starts with my kids.  When I was a young man, I wasn’t interested in being a parent.   I wanted to see the world, do great things, be ‘somebody.’  Long before my kids were born, I thought I was destined for greatness, to be famous, to do big things in a big world.   As a dad (and now a grand-dad), I’ve done all that.  Looking at life from the other side of the parental glass, God guided me to see the world with my kids, to do great things with them.   I’m somebody in their eyes.   They think I’m great, I’m the world famous Dad Bod from Paris, and I’ve lived large because of them.

Nowadays, I see that the most important task I’ve been given on this planet starts with sharing Jesus with my kids and grandkids.   I didn’t always see things this way; it’s been a long time coming.   Along the way, I’ve made serious mistakes, I’ve been a hypocrite, I have failed over and over.   Yet I’ve also usually done my best, and I realize now that the good things and bad alike are gifts from God.   I give them to my kids as gifts by sharing how I behave, what I believe, what I do with them in the perspective of trying to live out the words in my Bible and the things I share here.

Here in America, we idealize our kids.   We put them on pedestals, spending exorbitant amounts of money spoiling them.   Nothing is too good for our kids; nothing they want is out of reach no matter what it costs us.  Have you realized yet that we have it backwards?   Our kids (usually) don’t want lavish spending.   Our kids want we parents to lavish love on them.   We don’t do that by buying them things.   We do it by first sharing the lavish love of Jesus.

And it aint always easy.   Sometimes I still rebuke my grown-up kids.   Sometimes I say things they don’t want to hear, but I rarely do so off the cuff.  When I speak up it’s because there’s something I want them to know, even if it’s just “I love you.”   We have to remember that the core of “discipline” involves a disciple and discipling.  More than any other role in this world, I want my kids to be disciples of Jesus.  I’d my honor to parent them along that disciple’s path.

Larry Elder is one of the people I follow on Twitter.   He often quotes that the single biggest problem in the ‘black community’ today is the absence of fathers.  Statistically and realistically, kids do better and have a better shot at a happy, successful life if both a mom and a dad are present in a committed relationship.   I believe that’s true in every situation, not just in the black homes of America.   No I’m not disparaging single parent homes, especially single mom homes.   I’m simply sharing a factual statistic with which I agree.   After all, it’s the model Jesus instituted and the one He modeled in His own life.

We don’t know what happened to Joseph after Jesus became an adolescent.   Sometime after the incident where Jesus was left at the Temple, Joseph disappeared.   He probably died; he’s absent from the rest of the Gospels and Jesus doesn’t say.   Some folks would think this means Jesus was raised in a house where there had been a deadbeat dad.  Some infer a message of “see, dad’s don’t matter.”   Both of those interpretations are greatly lacking in both insight and common sense.   A better way to look at it is that Joseph’s role was complete.   His mission was complete (and successful) and his purpose fulfilled.  http://www.allaboutjesuschrist.org/joseph-the-father-of-jesus-faq.htm says that “Perhaps the cause or timing of his death is not nearly as important as the strength of character he displayed.”   I like that interpretation, because it jives with the entirety of his adopted son’s life.  Joseph trained Jesus in the worldly skills of carpentry and working with people.   He stood by Him even before He was born by refusing to deny Mary as his wife.   He took Jesus to the synagogue, and he imparted on Jesus patterns of behavior that were displayed all through the adult ministry we know about.   Joseph raised other sons and daughters with Mary, and he taught Jesus how to be a big brother, how to be both family and friend.  Have you ever considered that Jesus did some of the wonderful things He did not just because He was God, but because He was God who also learned at the feet of a good step-father?

Someday I’d like to ask Joseph how he handled things as a father.   Dad to dad I’d like to ask him a few questions.   I’m betting that, in the conversation, Joseph might just say it was the most important task of his life:   discipling the Man who he would follow as the Savior of his life.

For further reading:  Psalm 94:12, Psalm 119:75, Revelation 3:19, Proverbs 3:11-12.

Lord, help me as a parent to live out a good example for my kids and all the folks around me.

 

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 14 September 2017

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.  Hebrews 12, verse 4.

“I ain’t got time to bleed.”   That quote is 30 years old this year.   In case you don’t know where it came from, it entered the pop culture lexicon in the movie “Predator,” starring Arnold Schwarzeneggar and Jesse “the Body” Ventura.   Let’s not discuss Arnold; our focus is on “the Body.”   You’ll recall that Jesse Ventura had been a Navy Seal, then a professional actor.   After Predator and a few other less than memorable movies, Jesse ventured into politics.  He was eventually elected governor of my home state of Minnesota where his performance was less than stellar.   His tough-guy approach to governing didn’t quite fit in. Harkening back to Hollywood, “I ain’t got time to bleed” was Jesse’s most famous line in the movie, uttered before his character became prey to the alien predator.

When you’re out of time, you bleed.   Better to make time to bleed now.   Whether you make time for it or not, here on this planet, you’re gonna bleed.

When you’re really down for the struggle, you commit your blood to it.  In other words, if something means enough to you, you’d better be willing to die for it.   Your spouse, your children, your pride, your image, maybe even your country:   for these things, most people make the time to bleed.   For most people, these things are important enough to die for.  Ask Jesus about it.   After all, you were important enough for Him to die for.   Jesus had time to bleed because His bleeding made it possible for your peace and your life after bloody death.

Do you believe enough to die?

In the developed world, when most people die their bodies are bled dry.   Whether you were ready to die or not, when you die in the West, you’re gonna bleed.  The undertaker cuts open your body and opens an artery until all your blood is drained.   Then they’ll sew you up.   They will then inject a solution of formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, methanol, ethanol, phenol, water, and dyes back into your cadaver in order to simulate a life-like skin-tone (see https://www.everplans.com/articles/the-embalming-process-explicit).  Yep, it’s gruesome, but that’s what happens.

When you’re out of time, you bleed.   At that time – and there will be ‘that time’ for all of us one day – it won’t matter whether or not you bled when you still had time.   Were you a giver, giving from your heart to live out the calling Jesus gives you, living out His fruit of His Spirit?   Or were you Jesse the Body, raging day to day because ‘I ain’t go time to bleed?”

Tell me:   is what you believe important enough for you to allow someone to kill you for it?

The fact is, Jesse had it all wrong.  If you really want to overcome the temptations of our world, you make time to bleed.   If you struggle against them, it’ll cost you.   You’ll be persecuted, attacked, maybe destroyed.   It (literally) may kill you.   If you believe enough in resisting the temptation of sin, you’ll bleed.   You’ll bleed emotionally.  You’ll bleed rhetorically.   You’ll probably bleed physically.   All this will happen because sin and it’s father, Satan, are the ultimate predators.

And resisting the urge to sin, whatever your pet sin might be, is depressing.   It’ll bleed you from the inside out.  It’s tough to fight off the voices that tell you “just one more.”  It’s wearying to have to say “no” when it would feel so good, so right, to simply give in.  The predator knows that.   He’s a damned coward, you know.   He only attacks when we’re weak because we’re easier to overcome when we’re weakened.   Yet if you truly believe in this Jesus and all He’s called you to be for Him, you resist.   You hurt; you struggle; you’ll bleed.  It’s important, you know.   It’s what Christ did.

I’m sorry if this hurts; I’m sorry if you came here today looking for some happy uplifting words to get you through your day.  That isn’t what’s on deck for today.   This is a harsher truth.  Today there is the sober reminder that, if you haven’t resisted the devil to the point of it shedding your blood, then you aren’t broken yet.   Much as it may hurt, there will be more pain in store for you.   It’s going to cost you blood.   Life is a one-way death trip, and the only thing that’ll get you through it is blood:  your believing in Jesus’ redeeming blood to the point of the world taking your own.  Take heart, then, in knowing that it cost Jesus His as well.   He’s right beside you as you struggle.   When you dig for that courage to resist, that urge to go on just a little more, that’s Jesus’ Spirit building you up.   Putting strength in your resolve and steel in your spine.   Jesse Ventura could only dream of that.  I hope he has time for it.

For further reading:  Hebrews 10: 32-34, Hebrews 13:13.

Lord, when I bleed, let me bleed in service to You.