Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Cure For Shame

Shame is one of the most painful emotions that we ever experience. It happens because sometimes others inflict shame on us and other times we do it to ourselves. Either way, it is difficult to get rid of the shame. I see people in my practice that bear shame from their childhood and have been lugging it around all their life. Some have gone through shameful divorces but have never healed. Still others have been hurt in a thousand different ways. The shame steals their joy and enthusiasm for life, and they live life without any hope. There is someone who can help change that, and his name is Jesus.

Jesus specialized in healing the heart and taking away the shame. He did it for Peter, the disciple who was so self-reliant. He assured Jesus that he would never abandon him. In fact, he would die for Jesus if necessary. Jesus, in an attempt to show Peter his presumption, told him that he would deny that he ever knew Jesus three times before the cock crowed (Luke 22:34). Peter was dumbfounded to hear that. He thought he would never do that.

When the arrest of Jesus occurred, Peter acted impulsively, cutting off a man’s ear. He no doubt was humiliated when Jesus told him to put the sword away. He helplessly watched as they took Jesus away in shackles. Peter kept his distance, but he followed Jesus. Though the interrogation of Jesus took place indoors, he stayed outside and waited. Then it happened; someone identified and accused him of being a follower of Christ. Then it happened twice more, and each time Peter vehemently denied that he knew Jesus. Then at that very moment, they led Jesus outside, and a rooster crowed, and Jesus’s eyes met Peter’s (Luke 22: 60-62). Jesus’ prophesy had come true just as Jesus said it would.

Peter’s pain was no doubt unbearable as he wept bitter tears of regret. His sense of shame and failure overwhelmed him, and he disappeared in hiding. What is amazing is the way Jesus, after his resurrection, sought Peter out and very gently and slowly healed Peter’s heart. There was a second part to the prophesy of Peter’s denial that is very encouraging: Jesus said that after he had failed, he would turn back and strengthen his brothers (Luke 22:32).

In John chapter 21 Jesus met Peter and six other disciples after a night of fruitless labor on the sea. He told them to cast the net on the right side and you will catch fish. They did, and the haul was enormous. That triggered a memory for Peter because Jesus had done this once before. Jesus grilled fish and bread for them on a campfire and fed the hungry fishermen. He talked with Peter and asked him if he loved him more than anything. Peter said he did. Jesus asked him the same question three times, and Peter gave the same answer. Jesus told Peter to follow him and to feed his sheep.

Peter’s heart was healed, and the shame was taken away. Jesus, who knows how to bind up the broken hearted, can heal anyone’s broken heart. He can take that shame away and send you forth into a fruitful life and ministry as he did Peter. Trust him as Peter did.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Total Eclipse

Today is the long awaited Total Eclipse of the sun that has been announced for months. I am told this phenomenal event of an eclipse that will travel across the entire country has not happened since 1918. World War I was still going on the last time this happened. Today the total solar eclipse will cross thirteen states beginning with Oregon and ending with South Carolina. My home is in St. Louis, Missouri, so we are in its path. Evidently, people are coming from all over the country to one of the states like ours to view this spectacular sight. NASA plans to send up two airplanes flying at 50,000 feet to film the eclipse from nine miles in the sky.

Marilyn and I celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary today on Eclipse Day. We cannot see the eclipse from our home very well because we have many tall trees. We went to an open field that belongs to our church and watched it from there. We took our lunch along and sat in my pick up. We watched the clock as we ate lunch because at 11:49 AM the partial eclipse started. We would step out the truck periodically and see with our glasses the moon eating away the sun. Then at 1:17 PM we could view the total eclipse. It was so incredible because it grew dark all of a sudden. We first noticed the night-lights coming on around a building nearby, and the headlights on the truck came on automatically. We rolled the windows down, and you could hear the sounds of nighttime with crickets. Birds were nesting for the night. We took off our glasses and watched for a minute the outline of the sun as it was eclipsed by our moon. It was beautiful to behold. David said long ago, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Ps 19:1).

Every day we have opportunity to see the wonder of God’s creation around us. We can see it in a sunrise or a sunset or in the changing of the seasons or the many wonders of creation. We can see it in those we love around us each day. Today we saw it in the beautiful eclipse. How great is God!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Thy Will Be Done

The Jesus we see in the garden of Gethsemane is a Jesus we have never seen in the Gospels. Mark says that Jesus was overwhelmed with sorrow to the very point of death (Mark 14:34). What agony Jesus confronted within himself as he prayed. His body and his soul were completely overwhelmed with an impending fear of death. This seems so strange since Jesus had never shown fear. Not when he battled Satan in the wilderness, nor when he encountered the people of Nazareth who tried to kill him. Not even when he confronted demons or his enemies who wanted him dead.

Why this fear? The reason Jesus was fearful here in the garden was not a fear of his physical death but of his spiritual death. Jesus understood that he was about to become sin for the whole world. He knew the wages of sin was death. Jesus asked his Father, “…if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). We see Jesus’ humanity and his understanding of what he would have to endure spiritually, and he prayed for another way. Jesus asked his father to take away the cup.

What did Jesus see in the cup? Imagine the most appalling filth, the most wretched of human sins, and you have the contents of the cup. Sometimes we read of a man or a woman killing an innocent and helpless baby in a horrific way, and we cringe. Imagine the cruelties of slavery or the injustice of sex trafficking that goes on in the world today, and you see the filth in the cup. Jesus saw the entire sin of the world before him, and he recoiled so much that the thought of the cup repulsed him.

Jesus, however, finished his prayer with these words “take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). What a small word but how big a difference it makes. The three Hebrews showed this kind of commitment when they vowed not to bow down to an idol and they believed their God would deliver them. “But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Dan 3:18).

Jesus asked his Father if there was any other way, yet what he wanted most was his Father’s will. What a prayer and what a model for us! Many times we will beg God for deliverance, but where is the part of the prayer where we pray for God’s will? Every emotion and every thought in Jesus’ mind and spirit demanded deliverance from this cup. Jesus knew what was ahead, but in spite of that sadness that overwhelmed him, he chose the will of the Father.

Where is the man or woman of God who can submit every prayer and petition through the filter of God’s will? More important than the miracle we want or the deliverance we crave is God’s will. May we, like Jesus, learn to pray with every petition “…yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).