challenges

/Tag: challenges

Broken Batteries

“I’ve been told I’m just a body.”

“I struggle feeling like I’m too broken for God to actually use me.”

“I think God sees me as a piece of dirt.”

“I look so ugly unless I wear makeup.”

“I never want to be raped again.”

Heartbreak, over and over again. I am sitting across Starbucks tables, carpet floors, couches, cups of tea and coffee when I hear these words. My spirit is continually rent by the twisted lies coming out of the mouths of these women, young twenty-somethings who have been repressed and depressed and caged by various turmoils.

I am small. So. Terribly. Small. What on earth am I supposed to say, when the backstories come out and I haven’t lived through half of the nightmares of half of these voices? What do you offer souls that have been busted? How can I reverse a lifetime of degradation at the hands of an abusive father,

Broken Batteries2019-10-08T02:29:18+00:00

Broken Beating Hearts

Tonight, I met Hagar.

She was pushing a stroller at top speed through the subway tunnel. She was haggard, dirty, poorly dressed. Her daughter was eerily silent.

“Excuse me, I was wondering if you could help me out?”

Metra ticket….safe house for women leaving abusing relationships….they’re saving a bed for her but she needs to get to Kenosha….

I didn’t have my purse. She left as fast as she arrived.

I was frozen to the cement and felt a wave of emotion. I wanted the scene to be put on hold so I could sit there for a moment, process the fact that this woman was on her own, with a baby, run down, with nothing to her name.

God, do you see her? Will you encounter her, save her, restore her?

My heart is continually made heavy by the racking pain of other people’s stories. My story is hard, but it’s pretzels compared to 99% of

Broken Beating Hearts2016-04-05T01:54:02+00:00

I’d like to order one Rapture, please…

It’s hard to look at the monstrous expectations of your future and of yourself and not be overwhelmed. I want to grow up well. I want to do this life thing right, honor God, finish strong. Keep going….

There are plenty of folks in Scripture I can see parallels with. It’s hard not to feel like Timothy sometimes, staring at a rag-tag congregation of Ephesians who are veering into idolatry and Paul’s far away and it’s up to his youthful, dreadfully inexperienced self to protect the deposit of truth and lead them back. The pressure against maintaining the Gospel even among his own was very real.

It’s hard not to feel like Daniel, a kid in a foreign land where they’re forcing him to melt into a new identity and making him do things his Jewish mother would gasp at, and he’s navigating the war between inner resolve and compromise. The pressure

I’d like to order one Rapture, please…2019-10-08T02:29:19+00:00

Perhaps

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” the congregation sang. Worshiping at a historic church here in the City, I receive a weekly dose of beauty and hymnody. This morning, as I looked another semester square in the face and was wondering how long I’d be able to retain my mental capacities, I joined in singing these words.

“Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow…”

Anxiety is a crippling demon that drowns out the truth. Shutting out the reality that God is here and able prevents us, his children, from letting the peace of Christ rule richly in our lives (Col 3:15). We have peace that endureth, and we are united with the One who has bestowed pardon for sin.

The thing is, God always comes through. What does that mean? It means that he never fails and always does what is right. This could mean that he chooses not to rescue us from our

Perhaps2019-10-08T02:29:19+00:00

Wounds and Boxes

There are several storage tubs currently sitting under my bed. They hold things of mine: gloves, an extra hat, shoes, summer clothes neatly folded and laundered.

We tend to associate storage with organization, or unneeded items, or solved predicaments. Our closets hold possessions that are not necessary for regular use, or perhaps they keep hidden things that shouldn’t be seen by visitors in our lives.

Each one of us has a heart closet. In his great redemptive work of love, Jesus cleans out our souls with his blood and enters inside. He takes up residence (Eph 3:17-19), and as we grow up spiritually, he travels further, requesting access into more and more chambers of our closets.

Sometimes, though, there are scars. We make mistakes that leave deep wounds. We run to disobedience, lusting after idols and sin. We bury a hatchet instead of dealing with it. We overlook our offenses against others. In

Wounds and Boxes2015-12-02T05:21:29+00:00

They held feasts in their homes on their birthdays

Tragedy comes in different packages.

It’s a suicide bomber at a Parisian concert hall. It’s a phone call that dad has brain damage from a slip on the linoleum. It’s a cursory glance at the Bible instead of a long drink. It’s an alcoholic beverage or a frosted sugar cookie or one more click on the computer even though you vowed to stop and “just do today” in God’s grace. It’s realizing that you got something really, really wrong.

For Job, tragedy was a gaggle of breathless messengers who delivered the worst news of his life. I wouldn’t ever be able to hear running feet the same way again if I had been him.

His life had been idyllic, blessed by the hand of God for being obedient. And yet, in his sovereignty, God destroyed his life: his children, his material wealth, his personal wellness.

Friends came, sat in silence for an eternal seven

They held feasts in their homes on their birthdays2019-10-08T02:29:19+00:00

She had a four-bedroom house once

“I left him four months ago.”

I don’t know how much of it is real, but the Lord has led me to talk and pray with M several times while doing street evangelism. Her life is incredibly broken, marked by abusive relationships and disease and too many children left to fend for themselves while their mother tries to beg a few dollars.

Women like M make me want to curl up and weep. I cannot fix her problems, and so I want to run away. I have none of her problems, and so I feel a sense of shame. But still I sit with my legs politely folded as she updates me: how she might be getting housing soon, how she’s so excited (she then proceeds to pull out photos of her children). And I give her a dollar and encourage her and then our group pulls her into our circle for

She had a four-bedroom house once2019-10-08T02:29:19+00:00

Incarnation Incarnate

 

Do you neglect your body? Because Christ sure didn’t. He redeemed what he took on, and I suppose that includes the human body.

Marissa and I were talking in her room the other night, attempting to do homework and read but not getting very far. She’s a bit of a health nut. I appreciate her insight.

“Christians should really be the physically healthiest people out there. I mean, we’ve been made spiritually whole by Jesus, so that should extend to how we treat ourselves physically.”

She got me thinking. Do I take care of my body? Because Jesus died for me, and he was incarnated into a human body. You’d think that would mean something to us, right?

And yet how often do I see in my own life and in the lives of others this attitude that our bodies are just trash receptacles, temporary “tents” that we can use however we want and to do

Incarnation Incarnate2015-10-21T04:46:16+00:00

“Wake Up, You Need to Make Money”

M and her family are missionaries in Africa. Their life has been characterized by moves and shifts, encountering the most broken people, and utter reliance on the Lord.

She didn’t finish her degree at Bible college and is in the process, after almost 20 years, of completing her last two semesters. Because, hey, there was no money, and then they got good jobs and had kids, and then they moved overseas where ministry happened. Now she walks into brothels and shares the Gospel and rescues babies from their pimps and brings them home.

We were eating dinner at Dr. G’s apartment, and I was fascinated by her story. Her husband’s business is what completely supports her ministry to these women, and because of his connections, he’s been able to get them out of trouble on many an occasion.

She said, “What God redeems, he uses.” Her husband’s terrible childhood and exposure to the

“Wake Up, You Need to Make Money”2015-09-28T05:00:25+00:00

Sometimes Quiet is Violent

I remember sitting with Luke on the steps to the alleyway last semester. He was dying inside for lack of peace. Over the next few weeks, we talked and prayed and cried out to God together. I fervently read the Psalms with him. We’d eat french fries and wonder when God would respond.

We didn’t doubt, we just wondered.

I’ve been confronted with the idea that God suffers inconsolably with us, and that discontent breeds love, so we all must be discontent, including God. That he’s impatiently pacing back and forth, waiting for the day when perfection can be restored in heaven. Eden made us lose our innocence, and now we have to face the tragedies and sufferings that accompany knowledge of good and evil. He’s going to wipe our tears away, but I denote a problem with this image of a suffering God who is out of control, doesn’t understand, and doesn’t

Sometimes Quiet is Violent2019-10-08T02:29:19+00:00