The Broken Christian

There are some instances that what we feel is only pain and it seems that all joy is lost.

Frustrations do come, in most cases they are inevitable. There are really phases of life wherein we realize our limitations and see our weaknesses. In those times we feel utterly helpless.

The feeling of helplessness, incompetence, inability, and incapacity is more than a monster that eats the soul – it is a decay that destroys from within, inside-out. A person who suffers from this for extended periods of time will result to a troubled and frustrated life, one that has no meaning or purpose.

A fulfilled life begins with Jesus. But often, the Christian life is frustrated, and is full of setbacks. Many factors contribute to the brokenness of the Christian life – inherent weaknesses and flaws, sins and God’s discipline, and most importantly – trials and tribulations. If we desire to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, it has been promised that we should first go through trials and tribulations.

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. (Mark 10: 25-30)

There are major differences though between the three major sources of pain and sufferings in the Christian life: 1) of sins and weaknesses, 2) of God’s discipline, and 3) of trials and tribulations.

Regarding the first one, of sins and weaknesses, the source of pain is very inherent and inward. It is something that the saint continuously fights and struggles with all the day of his/her life since the day of his redemption. The fight stops only when the saint reaches perfection in heaven. The weaknesses alone of the saint, like lust and greed, cause much pain already, but when the weaknesses bloom into acts of sin, the pain and the damages are magnified a hundredfold.

Regarding the second one, of God’s discipline, the pain is even worse in greater proportions than the sin itself committed, for it is God Himself who does the discipline and He intends to hurt the Christian. The more the Christian choose to live in sin, the more the discipline intensifies. It is only appropriate that we respond humbly to the discipline, submitting to God’s standard of righteousness, as the only way to benefit from the pain of the discipline.

My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord,
Nor faint when thou art reproved of him;
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth,
And scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

It is for chastening that ye endure; God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father chasteneth not? But if ye are without chastening, whereof all have been made partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore, we had the fathers of our flesh to chasten us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed good to them; but he for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness. All chastening seemeth for the present to be not joyous but grievous; yet afterward it yieldeth peaceable fruit unto them that have been exercised thereby, even the fruit of righteousness. (Hebrews 12: 5-11)

And lastly, regarding trials and tribulations, the pain like the second one is also caused by God, directly or indirectly, for it is often thru pain that God teaches His greatest lessons. If we think that most of what is bad that comes to us is caused by the devil, then we have a wrong understanding or belittling of God’s sovereignty. Remember when Satan wanted to hurt Job, he had to secure God’s permission, ultimately it is by God’s will that Job was hurt.

And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” (Job 2: 3)

Indeed, it is part of God’s plan to hurt us first before we bless us; God wants refinement of our character so we could handle His blessings.

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A New Beginning

So this is again a new beginning for me, and for us to start anew.

Everything has changed. The environment, the people, the sound and the noise, the tasks and the processes – all seem changed and transformed.

I do not know what this means to me, but one thing is for certain – it is for my growth. So on the path towards maturity, let me face the things unknown, let me embrace what I do not like, let me battle whom I fear, let me tread the path of uncertainties, and let me discover what I do not know.

This is it! Forward on towards maturity! Forward on the road to everlasting growth!

I try my best to step – only to see the stones bigger than my toes, and the pain overwhelming my enthusiasm. I feed my hands with new energy – but the tasks seem depleting me inwardly. I think and plan slowly and carefully – but the goals seem distant. I clear up my head and focus my mind on one thing at a time – only to be bombarded with dozens of urgent tasks.

I might have surrendered, but it will not be the best for me. If I turn my back on these new challenges, I cut off the new opportunities to grow. There is only one road for me then – to move forward and to go on!

Overnight Prayer – A moment of God’s Revival

07 JULY 2017, 11:51 PM
A week of utter weakness; a single hour of healing.

All that it needs is a single moment of praise and worship, and suddenly the shattered soul is healed.

As we sung our praises to God, what could I possibly offer to Him? I had no righteousness for the past week, virtually no prayers and Bible meditation. All that I offered to God was my broken heart – broken in true sorrowful repentance.

Psalms 51:17 (KJV) The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

That offering was what God was looking to receive from me – no hypocrisy, no hiding, but complete honesty and surrender. And through that humble submission, God was able to do His wondrous work of reviving my once-wounded heart, ready again for service.

Psalms 51:12-14 (KJV) Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

Let’s Get Up Again

07 JULY 2017, 05:09 PM

In my life of constant weakness amd struggles, against hardships, temptations and the test of character, may God again help me to endure.

I may not completely know the plans of the Lord, but I am resting on Him.

Will I teach again?

Will I pursue my teaching career? Only God knows.

Isaiah 55:8 (KJV) For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

The ways of the Lord, His plans and wisdom, are hard to comprehend. Much more, waiting proves to be a real challenge. Waiting tests our endurance, the depth of our character, and maybe the most of all, our faithfulness. Often when we do not understand God, or cannot anymore wait on Him, we start to choose our own ways and thinking. Often, this results in sinning.

It is always best to wait upon the Lord, fit wisdom and strength.

Psalms 27:14 (KJV) Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Isaiah 40:31 (KJV) But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

It takes more than that

26 OCTOBER 2016, 02:09 PM

I really thought I would be successful that time. But I was wrong. My efforts were not good enough.

For some weeks already I was planning to have a fasting in a place far from home – an ideal haven where I could have a full hold on God. Though my determination still falters on the last few hours, I still believed I would finally have it.

It made me think then and have a deeper introspection. What contributed to my failure? Or more blatantly, am I that far from God already that I could not fast?

Maybe it would help more if I say first my reasons for fasting.

My first reason is the feeling of utter helplessness. I have become so desperate in my situation that I needed something powerful just to meet my spiritual needs. I was actively pastoring a Church for the past few months, and the time has come that I would like to be the sheep now and not the shepherd. I would like to be fed and led, and be strengthened. I need the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, to heal my dying soul. I was like a deer panting for water (Psalms 42:1). The whole Psalm Chapter really says my condition.

Secondly, the ministry demands it. The last time I fasted about two months ago the gift of healing flowed powerfully everytime we prayed together. I do not mean that I receive more of God’s power when I fast; His miracles and healing are released by His grace and not by our good works. But, by fasting God is more able to prepare me first for His great works. Still I could not say that fasting is my little contribution, because I became successful in some of my fastings only because of His Grace. In God’s mysterious design, I fast and pray, and He moves more — yet I have no part in that. Maybe it is because God exalts the humble (James 4:10), and that fasting is basically the humbling of the soul before God (Psalm 35:13).

The third reason is that I really miss my intimate moments with the Lord. Since the advent of the wi-fi connection at home, my habit of long time spent in praying died with its coming. Much worse happened when I bought this Android cellphone. I am inclined into technology and it consumes my time heavily. I have to fast to break these addictions. I have to separate from the world and be silent to once again hear the voice of the Lord.

Lastly, I need guidance and answers. Does the Lord really want me to pursue my teaching profession while pastoring? My logical mind says no, for teaching will take much time from me — some quality time that I should spend with God and with the members of the Church.

Now let us return to the first question, why did my efforts to fast fail?

One reason is that I lacked all the necessary preparations. Before you fast, you have to prepare yourself spiritually and physically. I lacked both. I rarely prayed for it, and for some weeks already I was staying late at night then woke up late in the morning. Fasting demands that I saturate myself first in fervent praying, and that my physical body is prepared for it.

The second reason for my failures is that I have to make some things right first. Of course I know I will fast to ask for God’s help me to fix the wrongs in my life, but I do sense that I have to fix some of them now before I meet the Lord in prayer. Fasting is a sacred time with the Lord and for sure it has the spirit of repentance, but we will be able to show that our repentance is truly true if we start making amendments in our life now before the time of fasting comes. After all, my shortcomings in the family and Church really take the issues right back at the heart of self-denial and obedience. If I would really deny myself now and choose to obey, more than half of my shortcomings would be resolved now even before I fast. I hate to approach God in fasting with fake repentance, and much worse, to fast with no real intent of changing my ways, just like what God saw in Israel when they fasted in Isaiah 58. They fasted hypocritically with no repentance in their hearts.

To fast before God with a right heart is not a complicated thing, but not an easy one either. It takes more than sheer determination. It takes more than a simple sacrifice. It takes more than the usual planning. It will demand your everything — because you will meet your Holy God.

Broken Fellowships

By the term broken I didn’t mean having fractures. I only meant inward brokenness, or the brokenness of the heart.

I and my friends in the ministry and faith gathered as we were celebrating a birthday party. Our conversations however were mostly contrary to the usual ones that you’ll likely to hear during like events. We were happy to see each other, but we were also open to hear and learn from the wounds of the past.

In fact, I recall a particular passage in the Bible where God promised destruction as His discipline for His erring and stubborn children but also the rare privilege of being excluded from His anger upon hearing some who were talking of their sinfulness before God. Truly, God is near to them that are of a broken heart, and saves those who are contrite (Psalm 34:18).

I will go on to say that being broken and repentant in heart is something that pleases God, a sacrifice or a gift that God never takes for granted (Psalm 51:17). That is a lesson we learned from David when he was on the act of repenting to God after he realized his sins of adultery and murder.

Truly, it delights God to hear our praises. But often, we become hypocritical of concealing our weakness and sins and just choose to tell our good side – our ministry, sacrifices, and everything good that we do for the Lord. These good things are not bad in themselves, but God desires too that we reveal who we are truly before God – weak and always in need of help. This kind of spirit should never leave the Christian – it is a sign of continuous humility before God.

I observe that as Christians we are all in danger of feeling strong in ourselves. We often look on the outward things: the results of the ministry, the number of our members, our sacrifices, the amount of money that we contribute, or spiritual gifts at work, and the list could go on. But are these things really the measure of our true spirituality and condition before God? I am afraid that often, it is not.

I am saying this because we could choose to hide our flaws and sins behind our ministries and achievements. But deep inward – the part that sometimes only God could see (because we hide it from others) – we are filthy, weak, and in need of help.

Let true humility and repentance be in our hearts. It is never a shame to be honest before God. And by being broken, we could allow God to cleanse and mold us so we can be a blessing to others. By being tried, we could be a source of strength to others (2 Corinthians 1:6).

Saying Sorry

Saying sorry means you are acknowledging that you are wrong and you are ready to change your ways. Sometimes it means that if given the chance (like to turn back time), then you will undo your actions. Saying “sorry” means a lot to heal a broken relationship. Saying sorry is the first half — the second half is the forgiveness of the other party.

What if sorry is given but the mistake is repeated… again and again? Two reasons why that happens: 1.) The “sorry” is not sincere; 2.) The sorry is sincere but the person who said it suffers from a weakness that he could not overcome, which results in the mistake being repeated.

The question is: How much can you forgive?
Tougher questions: Does forgiveness has boundaries? Does forgiveness means having adjustments?