The Blessing of Brokenness

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.  – Isaiah 57:15

The Blessing of Brokenness

Brokenness is actually a blessing, but too often we’re so caught up with wanting to feel better we miss God’s best for us. If you’re struggling . . . if you feel as if your faith is gone . . . don’t miss the blessing that comes with brokenness . . . Here’s a story that illustrates what I mean:

There was a young priest who was about to lift the communion cup and bless the cup. It was made of choice crystal. Just when he lifted up the cup, it slipped out of his hand and smashed in pieces onto the floor. He looked up at the senior priest thinking that he would be ridiculed. Instead the senior priest said, “I never knew there were so many beautiful pieces to reflect the light until the cup was broken. How marvelous and beautiful are all the pieces when the light shines on them!

Like the cup, our broken lives can accentuate the beauty of the light shining through them. For that light is the Lord. What we fear is to be broken or be seen as broken; but as this story  illustrates, it is in our brokenness that the light of Christ dazzles–drawing attention to His beauty, and making our lives beautiful as a result.

And, in the book, Wild at Heart, John Eldredge commented, “But you can’t do this at a distance; you can’t ask Christ to come into your wound while you remain far from it. You have to go there with him.” It’s o.k. to be broken; it is in our brokenness that we can bring it to the Lord and experience His touch and healing, and bring hope to our broken heart.

– Steve Arterburn

God can take all the broken pieces and put it back together in a way that is good. – Max Johnson 

Hiding God’s Word

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

Hiding God's Word

What sorts of things find their way into your heart and mind? If you’re exposing yourself to a constant barrage of ungodly words, music, or images, you’re not taking full responsibility for your life.You can fill your heart and mind with God’s Word, and when you do, you’ll create a defense against some of the evil messages the world so frequently sends your way.

The writer of Psalm 119 declared, “I have tried my best to find you–don’t let me wander from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:10-11). “Hiding” God’s Word in your heart essentially means memorizing and meditating on the Bible. God uses his Word–the Bible—to speak to you and show you how you ought to live.

You’ve been given the responsibility to guard your heart and to keep track of the things you hide inside it. So, what’s in there? Anger? Lust? Ugly images from TV, the movies, or the web? Are you harboring bitterness? Greed? Are you envious of others? If you’re struggling with these things maybe it’s because you have more of the world’s wisdom in your heart than the true wisdom of God.

Are you having a hard time finding God and following his commands? Hiding God’s word in your heart will foster spiritual growth by guarding against those things that hurt you and  displease God.

Steve Arterburn

I was thinking about how people seem to read the Bible a whole lot more as they get older; then it dawned on me . . . they are cramming for their final. – George Carlin

Staying The Course

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. – Hebrews 12:1

Staying The Course

If you’re a Christian, God has already transformed your heart. But He also wants you to enter life in him like an athlete enters competition. That’s why the Bible, more than once, likens the Christian life to a race. Our faith in Christ motivates us to run it, and His power provides the strength to finish–despite the many times we all stumble along the way.

This illustration of a race refers to races where the runner would strip off his tunic and robe so he could run without any hindrance. If someone tried to compete in his robes, he would get tangled up and wouldn’t have a chance at winning.

God wants you to finish the race of life well. Set aside the distractions and the sins that entangle you. Pace yourself. Exert yourself. And remember, many have run and finished before you. They’re that “huge crowd of witnesses” Hebrews 12:1 speaks about, and they’re cheering you on!

– Steve Arterburn

By perseverance the snail reached the ark. – Charles Haddon Spurgeon

The “Nubbies”

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. – Romans 5:1

The Nubbies

A psychologist friend recently told me about Cliff—a client he described as “a believer after God’s own heart.” After years of service to The Lord, Cliff’s wife developed aggressive cancer.  Many people joined Cliff in prayer for his wife, but she declined rapidly and died.  Through it all, Cliff didn’t break his determined gaze upon Christ.  Instead of allowing the tragedy to shake his faith, he allowed his experience of pain, suffering, confusion, and grief to push him deeper into the arms of the living God.

Cliff knew two things, and held to them tenaciously.  The first was that God was good.  He didn’t understand the circumstances surrounding his wife’s sickness, or why she had to suffer and die.  But he knew a reason resided with God, and that he would come to understand in the light of eternity.  The second thing Cliff held to was his certainty that God loved him-in spite of everything, no matter what, and through it all.

When you’re in severe pain or distress, life becomes pretty simple. You’re in survival mode, and you have neither the heart nor the strength to spread your emotional energy around.  As Chuck Swindoll might say, “Life gets boiled down to the nubbies.”

When pain or distress boils your life down to the “nubbies”, do what Cliff did.  Keep it simple.  Grab hold of what you know is true about the living God, and hold on like a pit bull.

– Steve Arterburn

The nearer the dawn the darker the night. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

Real Transformation

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17

Real Transformation

Have you invited God’s Son to reign over your heart and your life? If so, think for a moment about the “old” you, the person you were before you invited Christ into your heart. Now, think about the “new” you, the person you have become since then. Is there a difference between the “old” you and the “new and improved” version? There should be! And that difference should be noticeable not only to you but also to others.

Warren Wiersbe observed, “The greatest miracle of all is the transformation of a lost sinner into a child of God.” And Oswald Chambers noted, “If the Spirit of God has transformed you within, you will exhibit Divine characteristics in your life, not good human characteristics. God’s life in us expresses itself as God’s life, not as a human life trying to be godly.

When you invited Christ to reign over your heart, you became a new creation through Him. This day offers yet another opportunity to behave yourself like that new creation by serving your Creator and strengthening your character. When you do, God will guide your steps and bless your endeavors today and forever.

Today, remember this: a true conversion experience results in a life transformed by Christ and a commitment to following in His footsteps.

– Steve Arterburn

No man is ever the same after God has laid His hand upon him. – A. W. Tozer   

Being born again is God’s solution to our need for love and life and light. – Anne Graham Lotz

The transforming love of God has repositioned me for eternity. I am now a new man, forgiven, basking in the warm love of our living God, trusting His promises and provision, and enjoying life to the fullest. – Bill Bright

What is God looking for? He is looking for men and women whose hearts are completely His. – Charles Swindoll

When I met Christ, I felt that I had swallowed sunshine. – E. Stanley Jones

The Saddest Words

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;  my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. – Psalm 62:5-6

The Saddest Words
Several famous people were asked what they felt was the saddest word in the English language.  Listen to what some of them said:

  • But,” said Lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II.
  • Writer John Dos Passos quoted John Keats: “Forlorn! The very word is like a bell.
  • Statesman Bernard M. Baruch said: “Hopeless.
  • President Harry Truman quoted John Greenleaf Whittier: “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been!”

“But”, “forlorn”, “hopeless”, “it might have been” . . . together these words describe the heart of a person without Christ.  What a con­trast these sad words make to the promises of God.

In Jesus Christ, a forlorn, hopeless heart haunted by “buts” and “it might have beens” is transformed into a heart of hope and purpose.  Be encouraged by God’s specific promises of joy and hope of trans­formation for your life.

– Steve Arterburn

When hope is taken away from the people, moral degeneration follows swiftly after. – Pearl S. Buck

Expressing Grief

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27

Expressing Grief

Grief is the process that helps you release your pain and losses to God. In your grief, you come to terms with your past and you find freedom to live in the reality of the present. On the other side of grief, you’ll find hope for the future. So if you harden your heart and refuse to grieve, you’re likely to get stuck both emotionally and spiritually.

The prophet Jeremiah shared his grief and tears with God. Jeremiah lived with God’s people and pleaded with them to return to God. But his pleas fell on deaf ears, and his heart was broken. So in his grief, the prophet penned the words of the Old Testament book, Lamentations. When you read it, you’ll find that Jeremiah didn’t mince his words or hide his pain. He weeps openly and fully, releasing his emotions to God. It’s a great example for us when we grieve our own losses.

Lamentations doesn’t provide pat answers for the suffering you’ll experience. If you’ll read it, you’ll discover that it’s all right to be real, to be angry, to be disappointed with life, and to be concerned about what tomorrow holds for you. God accepted Jeremiah being angry, tired, and discouraged, and he will accept you as well. Just as God honored the tears of Jeremiah, He’ll honor yours if you share your pain and sorrow with Him. It’s likely to be the first step to bring healing for the present and hope for the future.

– Steve Arterburn

Grief  is itself a medicine. – William Cowper

I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process. – C.S. Lewis

Open the Eyes of Your Heart

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints. – Ephesians 1:18

Open the Eyes of Your Heart

Are you going through difficult times? If it does nothing else for you and to you, it will open the eyes of your heart. Walking through troubled waters is one way that God has of shifting your vision. When your heart breaks, there’s an avenue for God’s compassion to trickle in and envelop your heart with His. You’ll begin to look at others through the eyes of your heart and not through the eyes of quick judgment, harsh conclusions, or self-interest.

Your trip to the grocery store, to church, to Wal-Mart or Starbucks will take on a new hue. You’ll look at people and wonder what their story is; what their childhood was like; what caused them to be so happy or unhappy, why they seem this way or that.

Their job titles will be less important, their type of car won’t impress you, what kind of clothes they wear, or whether they’re wrinkled or stylish won’t matter anymore. You’re more likely to understand that they are in some pain and trying to run from it or trying to hide. Or, you’ll see their smile and demeanor and wonder if they’re truly happy or masking some inner, silent suffering or anger.

Now, you won’t get answers to all that you wonder about people and their stories, but your heart will be softened. You’ll find that you have a level of compassion that most people don’t have. If your heart is broken, let His compassion trickle in to your heart through the brokenness. Let Him open the eyes of your heart today.

– Steve Arterburn

A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal. – Steve Maraboli 

What value has compassion that does not take its object in its arms.Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The Psalms

But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. – Psalm 3:3-4

The Psalms

It’s impossible to adequately summarize the richness and breadth contained in the book of Psalms.  It was Israel’s hymnbook, containing songs of praise to God.  It also contains the cries of God’s people in difficult situations.  And it was a prayer book for Israel.  The psalmists looked to God in moments of private despair, in times of national suffering, and in the joyous moments of mountain-top experiences.

The Psalms are for us right now, today.  They are brimming with honest emotion.  Through them you can learn to pour out your anguish and your adoration, your suffering and confession, your hopes and your fears.  Through them you feel safe asking God why he has or hasn’t acted in a certain way.  Through others you might express your pain, heartache, and discouragement.  Through still others you may praise God as he frees you from oppression and sin.  Each psalm is an expression of the heart.  None of them are neat little packages of answers tied up with pretty bows.  They are living words, a collection of spiritual diaries from people who honestly sought God’s help and His heart.

Do you need spiritual direction or encouragement?  The Psalms can function as deterrents to keep you out of trouble, guides to help you through problems, reminders of the one who actually delivers you, or as beacons of hope to encourage you in perplexing or painful situations.  Read the Psalms and be ushered into the very presence of your loving and merciful God. You’ll be glad you did!

– Steve Arterburn

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.Psalm 1:1-2

Faith and Understanding

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

Faith and Understanding

Upon returning from space, the Russian cosmonaut Gherman Titoy said, “Some people say there is a God out there…but in my travels around the earth all day long, I looked around and didn’t see Him…I saw no God nor angels.  The rocket was made by our own people.  I don’t believe in God.  I believe in man, his strength, his possibilities, and his reason.”

Isn’t it amazing that at moments when we’re most vulnerable, and most clearly confronted with God’s majesty, we can be so unaware of His presence?

God is wiser than we can comprehend, more immense than we’re comfortable with, and merciful beyond the reaches of our imagina­tions.

Yet, He’s also the One through whom everything makes sense.  So don’t mistakenly think that faith is the result of understanding.  It’s the opposite.  Faith is the basis for understanding.

 – Steve Arterburn

Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light. – Helen Keller 

Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. It is the belief that God will do what is right. – Max Lucado

All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen. – Ralph Waldo Emerson