Built to be Broken


14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16  For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. – Psalms 51:14-17 (ESV)

Shiny and new.  That’s how our society likes things.  We would sooner replace something that needs repair than fix it.

These are definitely the days of disposable thinking.  Corporations even help us along by manufacturing products with “built-in obsolescence”.  We had an appliance salesman once tell us that “they don’t build freezers like they to.  If you have an old chest freezer that still works, don’t get rid of it.  The new ones are made to last only about seven years.”  (I have no scientific data to back up the salesman’s statement.  I am merely paraphrasing his words.)

It’s a good thing for us that God doesn’t take that approach.  When sin entered the world, the Lord could have looked at Adam and Eve and said, “Well, they’re broken.  Guess I’d better toss ’em out.  They’re useless now.”

But He didn’t.  Instead He made a way for us.  Even when humanity became so sinful and depraved that God opted to flood the earth and wipe the people from the face of the earth, He waited until only one righteous family (Noah’s) remained.  That way, mankind would not be utterly obliterated, but would have another chance.

Even at that low point, humanity was deemed worthy of saving by God.

God did not create mankind with “built-in obsolescence”.  Rather, it is in our brokenness that we are strengthened, matured, and deemed worthy.  To have a “broken and contrite heart” is to realize our sinful nature and how totally we rely on God.  Our hearts are broken and contrite when we turn away from our old ways and allow God to break us and “create in (each of us) a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within (us)” (Psalms 51:10, ESV).

We are not worthy because of anything we do or say or think.  We are righteous because God has made us so.  Some folks have a hard time with that simple truth.  They want to hang on to past sins and pains like a badge of honor.  While scars are permanent reminders, they should bring back the memory of a wound bound and healed.  The scar means the pain is gone.  The wound is healed.  Scars should bring joy, as they illustrate God working through our brokenness.

Consider this: when we have a broken bone, we cannot fix the injury ourselves.  We need a doctor to set the bone so it will heal properly. As the bone begins to repair, there is a point when the area of the break is stronger than the unbroken parts.  Later, when healing is completed, the entire bone – even the area where the fracture occurred – is of equal strength.

So it is when we are broken in spirit.  Broken in family.  Broken hearted, broken in any way.  We cannot heal ourselves.  We need Jesus.  And when God comes to help us, we are stronger at the area of the break than anywhere else.  Once we are healed, the scar remains to remind us of God’s great love and care for us.

For you.

It is through our brokenness that we find how helpless we are, yet not disposable.  God is with us.  Which is good news, because we cannot survive without Him.  And our scars serve to remind us – and proclaim to others – that God is good!  That the Lord loves us each so much that He sent His Son to die for us.  That He is our healer, The One Who cares for us.

The One Who says we were not created with “built-in obsolescence”.

It doesn’t matter what you have done.  Go to the Lord.  Be utterly broken of yourself and your sin and let God our Father save you.

Mend you.

Heal you.

No, you don’t deserve it.  None of us do.  It is a gift from our Loving Savior.  And what true gift has to be earned?

For Those Times When We Doubt the Nearness of God…

  We all have – or have had – those moments when we are tempted to not believe that God is near.  Even though He promised to never leave nor forsake (abandon) us, we sometimes get overwhelmed with emotions, worries, pain, insecurity, sorrow… so much so that it can be very very difficult to experience God.
Here’s a quick tip: if you’re feeling like the Lord is nowhere to be found, go outside.

Look up at the sky.

Notice the blue hues of a clear day.  See the clouds wisping by ever so gently.  Feel the sun warm your skin.  Watch the birds fly by.

If the day is gray, notice the swirl of the sky above.  See the way the clouds turn and swirl.  If it’s raining, feel the drops on your face.  

If it’s night, check out the moon.  Understand the stars are suns, hundreds or thousands of light years away (meaning you are seeing light emitted hundreds or thousands of years ago).  Look at the constellations, the twinkling lights that have guided humans across this earth for eons.

Look at all this and ask yourself: what human can create anything this magnificent, this intricate?  How could this all possibly continue to revolve and move with great purpose and not be guided by the hand of God?  

Look up.  He is there.  Maybe you cannot see Him, but you see His creation.

And His sustaining power.

And He – God the Creator, God our Father – is sustaining you as well.

You are loved, dear one.  Deeply, completely loved.

Grab an Oar

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? – Psalm 27:1 (ESV)

I have a particular bent against worry and anxiety.  There was a point in my life when fear nearly consumed me.  Like the apostle Peter, the waves nearly pulled me under. 

But God didn’t let me drown.  He didn’t let anxiety get me.  He didn’t allow fear and worry to drag me the bottom of the depths.

Tonight, I sit here thinking about how many of my friends and loved ones are courageously facing cancer.  I think of those dealing with other illnesses, or family struggles, or money issues, or just general anxiety issues.

I know so many of you are hurting, uncertain about the future, mourning,  troubled, saddened, frightened…

This comes straight from my heart to you.  Trust in Jesus.  Trust in the Lord.  I know it may sound like a cliche, which is most unfortunate because faith is the answer.

How often do we struggle over the uncertainty of the future?  If only we knew what was going to happen, we could plan for it.  Save for it.  Brace ourselves for it.  Maybe somehow change – or even avoid – the situation altogether.

The simple fact is we cannot know with certainty what tomorrow will bring.  But we can put our trust wholly in The One Who does.  We can rest in Him and say, “No matter what happens, the Lord is with me.  He is my shield, my helper, my guide, my Father.  No matter what happens, He is beyond circumstances.  He is greater than anything I dread.  In Him I place my full faith.  Not in my limited intuition or intelligence.  Not in my ways.  Not in what others say.  My faith is in God, and He has the final say.  Period.”

Truly, we have nothing to fear.  Nothing past, present or future.  We are God’s and, no matter what, He has a plan.  He will gives us the strength to endure, the wisdom to enlighten, the direction to press on.  He will use us to bless others who face what we each face.

You are not alone.  You are not helpless.  You have a large community of fellow believers in Christ ready to embrace you.  Most of all, you have God.  He will never leave you.  He will not abandon you.  He may have you in a painful season to teach you something.  But, regardless, He is with you.

Can you think of a gift on earth more precious than that?

Wait and Other Four-Letter Words


Photo by S. Sepp.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! – Psalm 27:14 (ESV)

“Wait” is a four-letter word.  In my mind it ranks right up there with the most offensive four-letter words ever uttered (you know, like “diet” or “kale” [blech!]).  I don’t know about you, but my life is busy (another four-letter word).  Who has time to wait?

Sometimes we’re waiting in traffic (as in “slow” – go ahead and count the letters in that word as well).

Sometimes we’re waiting for something far more serious – a doctor’s report, financial help, healing in a relationship that’s gone sour… any number of troubles that come to us in life.

And waiting isn’t always easy.  Waiting can often lead to worry (worse than a four-letter word by one letter).  And worry leads to anxiety.  And the two together lead us away from faith.

There is good reason why Jesus tells us to keep our eyes on Him.  We are called to abide in Him – to stay (a good four-letter word) in Him, make God’s will – His kingdom – our home.

This leads us to one of my favorite four-letter words: hope.  The apostle Paul reminds us to “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12, ESV).  When we do these things, we keep our focus on the Lord and His promises.

And, as Peter learned when he walked on the water, staring at the storm will only cause us to drown.  But keeping our eyes on Christ saves us.  He is our hope.  “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

Another lesson Peter has shared with us: “…with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8, ESV). God operates on a whole different plane than we do.  He is not contained by time or matter.  The past, present and future are all the same to our Heavenly Father.  He is utterly boundless.

His timing is perfect.

His strength is perfect.

His love is perfect.

His ways are perfect.

We are not called to understand everything, or know when (or if) things are going to come to pass.  But we are called to be faithful, to put our full trust in God.  We need to simply lift our hearts to the Lord and know that, no matter how life goes, we are God’s children. He loves us and will never abandon us.  His will (four-letters, great word) eclipses anything we believe we need (yes, four-letters again).

Our strength comes from hopefully waiting on God, knowing He is far above our circumstances.  He has a plan (four letters again) for our lives – for my life, for your life.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

Maybe “wait” isn’t such a bad four-letter word after all.

One From the Archives: Souvenirs from Parke County


Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. – Proverbs 19:21 (ESV)

Note: seeing that we just returned home from a trip back to Indiana, this oldie from the archives seems apropo.  Enjoy and be blessed!

The road started out paved. I crossed the covered bridge at a walk, listening to boards creak and squeak beneath my slow rolling tires. A hard left, a hard right, a high climb up the steep hillside. The close trees on both sides broke open to reveal acre upon acre of muddy fields, cattle, and barns – many leaving so hard that they look like one brisk wind would topple them.

Then the pavement ended, and the mud-and-gravel path began.

This didn’t look familiar.

Yes, I had to admit. I was lost. I had driven off the beaten path to find a different route to Bridgeton.

But, being lost can have its advantages. As I drove around Parke County, I had time for quiet relaxation, reflection and prayer. By God’s grace, the skies were sunny, ribboned with jet trails hanging high in the still air. The temperature was warm.

Here is some of what the Lord showed me, and reminded me of, as I drove around the Big Raccoon Creek area:

1. As I felt my way along the winding country roads of Parke County, I knew that, as long as I followed my compass and kept heading east and south, I would eventually intersect with Bridgeton Road and, from there, the town of Bridgeton. When we lose our way with Christ, all we need to do is follow our compass (faithfully following God’s Word). He will put us back on the path, headed in the right direction.

2. The joy is in the journey itself, not merely our destination. I could worry because I didn’t know where I was. But I knew I would end up where I was meant to. Far better to have faith, rest, and enjoy the ride. Absorb the scenery. Learn from what you see and experience. Be inspired. There is no sense in hurrying through life just to get from point A to point B. We miss so much when our final stop is our sole focus.

3. The adventure won’t truly begin until you face your fear and say, firmly and decidedly, No. The idea of driving – think crawling with wheels – across a 104 year old wooden covered bridge that sounded like it might give way beneath me was not exactly what I would call fun. But, once I had braced the steering wheel and slowly made my way through the bridge – getting past the part of the drive I dreaded – I was ready to move onward into the unknown. When we face our fears head on, we see how irrational they truly are.

4. It is good to go back and remember. Bridgeton is a place my dad used to take us fishing. (Too bad I didn’t like fishing. But that’s another story for another time…). Bridgeton Baptist Church is where I began to learn to appreciate – at age 12 – strong Biblical teaching and a love of Scripture. Big Raccoon Creek at Bridgeton is where I was baptized. I can still feel the sensation of being dunked in the cold creek water, feeling the unnerving loss of control as I went down into the current, and coming up cleansed. That was 35 years ago. A lot happens in that span of time. We change, we grow, we learn, we are influenced… It is good, in a soul correcting way, to go back and remember. Just don’t try to pitch a tent and stay there.

5. There is still at least one place on earth where, if you wave at a stranger you pass along the road, he will wave back. If he wasn’t the one to initiate the wave, that is.

Don’t get so caught up in your planned life route that you inflexibly ignore the surroundings you pass. Don’t forget where you came from. And don’t forget that you are never at a place where the Lord cannot find you and right your path. Life is an adventure. Trust in the Lord and appreciate the trip.