Chosen Friends

by Mary Beth on April 3, 2021

“{Pain} removes the veil, it plants the flag of truth within the

fortress of a rebel soul.”   ~C.S.Lewis

Holy Week or Passion week

we remember our Lord Jesus,

our suffering Servant.

Jesus suffered as a thing to be despised; 

rejected by man, a man of sorrows,

 and familiar with suffering.

The Prince of Peace was perceived as someone punished,

struck by God and brought low.

Jesus suffered for us, Luther writes.

“Son to the mercy of sinners.” ~Is. 53:2-5 & Lam. 1: 12, 16, 21

*

-Jesus endured suffering.

Even His own disciples failed to understand His mission and kingdom rule of sacrificial love for God’s glory.

By their actions, they added to His pain.

-All the disciples left him and ran away. ~Matt. 26:56

Jesus loved enough to patiently endure this pain of betrayal.

Likewise as followers of Christ,

we’ll encounter painful trials of rejection,

betrayal, misunderstandings and

“bruising” from those closest to us;

even chosen friends.

*

-By His grace we’ll endure suffering.

As a writer and poet,

  writing Chosen Friends provided

a healing process for me,

 after a painful betrayal

experienced from a friend.

Through the obedient life of our great Shepherd;

His gentle and creative guidance,

specifically while observing Lent-

provided a balm that gently blew a

new perspective into my soul like none other.

From Genesis to Revelation,

we understand the painful depravity

experienced within our humanity.

Christ offers His example and strength to love patiently;

to endure trials through prayer, forgiveness, and seek

godly counsel to discern if any response is wise or beneficial.

Often we need to pray with David,

that our words and meditation would be pleasing to the Lord,

especially to navigate through challenging relationships

and in our society

that encourages an individualistic and bravado attitude.

Help me to understand such love and courage.

*

Chosen Friends

Chosen friends are but trouble,

Unless walking side by side.

The soul exposing an imposter; a double.

Truth that sharpens, cuts and divides.

Many claim boldly to love.

Offering a shadow of service,

What is the kiss?

Betrayal or an honest answer?

Conditional, upon the well they sip.

God of all comfort & compassion oversee,

A boldness must breathe, rest and plea,

Content in our deeper soul, I pray.

Mighty Warrior of the soul,

Tear the veil;

chip away, and awaken our hearts.

Reign through your beauty and art.

                                                                     ~mba

bleeding heart logo

“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, 
and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
                     ~2 Corinthians 3: 17
*

-Perseverance of the Saints

“Therefore, my brothers, therefore, sisters dear,
However I, troubled or selfish,  
fail in tenderness, or grace, or service clear,
I every moment draw to you more near;
God in us from our hearts veil after veil
Keeps lifting, till we see with his own sight, And all together run in unity’s delight.”
~George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul

The gospel message of Christ,

the sacrifice of His life and death on the cross,

speaks volumes about God and His gracious offer both of

forgiving love, and His serious wrath to all sin.

Both love and wrath meet at the cross.

Both mercy and grace join together at the cross of Christ.

God’s tenacious love, truth and merciful call

for our obedience to be holy, will show forth as fruit on a tree.

Job personally and painfully experienced this costly truth,

which sharpened his soul among friends.

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As Rabbi Abraham Heschel states: 

“Faith like Jobs cannot be shaken

because it is the result of having been shaken.”

Our experiences of betrayal or trials

are significant and painful struggles.

Suffering presents a theater of questions

that perhaps encircle our beliefs;

often to potentially shake the foundation of our faith.

How might we be hopeful when the winds blow,

or when we feel like we’re drowning, or the skies darken?

We will stumble. We will err. We will fall. We will grieve.

As Job, how might we learn from the wrestle,

to grow our trust in God’s providential love and watchful care?

To trust within the deep waters,

the hard to understand questions of the soul.

Questions flood into our minds and hearts with a force like an

ocean wave, regarding suffering and His sovereignty;

questions about our eternal God who sees,

knows, and hears all things.

We must encourage one another in His multitude of mercies,

to be among the perseverance of the saints.

Then we’ll proclaim as Job,

“I know that my Redeemer lives.”

*

 “How painful are honest words! 

Does he not see my ways and count my every step?

       If I have walked in falsehood or my foot

has hurried after deceit

—let God weigh me in honest scales and

He will know that I am blameless

                     –if my steps have turned from the path,

if my heart has been led by my eyes,

or if my hands have been defiled,

                      then may others eat what I have sown.”

                                                                       ~Job 6:25, 31: 4-8

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Pester & Taunt

by Mary Beth on March 31, 2021

Pester: to annoy, badger, demand.

Taunt: to scoff, ridicule, deride.

 Lent is a season of mercy, often blowing into our lives like the forceful winds and cold rain storms of March and April.

Lent season like Springtime, offers an opportunity for spiritual renewal to engage with geniune faith and repentance. A season for listening. A season for biblical understanding and wisdom. A season to remember Jesus, to savor His presence.

Yet we often face subtle opposition without and acute struggles within, as we press on to know the Lord.

From Scripture we know

Nehemiah had circumstances filled with ridicule,

constant scoffing, and he was badgered by enemies

in his calling and work for the Lord.

He remained loyal in prayer and wise

in his astute leadership to the Judeans.

The Judeans had returned from exile

to reestablish their community.

Within his leadership,

Nehemiah held a commitment of steadfast prayer,

and strategic leadership skills to remain faithful.

 Jesus faced evil taunts, pestering and mockery from Satan,

despite ongoing opposition he faithfully

surrendered to the call of God.

As Christians, we too will face similar opposition

of being mocked, taunted and pestered

especially as we follow God’s call to make disciples of all nations.

Likewise, we are not unfamiliar with opposition,

be it subtle or blatant.

In our devotion to Jesus Christ,

walking with other believers or encouraging

our family and friends,

 we will and do face opposition in the world,

against ourselves and with others.

As Nehemiah was confronted with mockery, taunting and ridicule,

he continued to be faithful to his calling

trusting the providential hand of God

in constant prayer and practical wisdom.

Satan aims to tempt us towards

compromise and complacency

in our obedience to God’s will, His timing and ways.

Our minds, souls and hearts are tempted to short-circuit,

to live our lives for pure pleasure and self-gratification.

All to aim and separate us from our heavenly Father,

by disloyalty, distrust, disobedience, etc.

 Until the Lord sheds light into our darkness,

we often don’t see opposition with spiritual eyes.

In the moments of vulnerability,

we need to stand firm against the ongoing whispers

and resist the temptation to compromise with darkness.

Light reveals darkness in its aim to taunt, pester or to mock.

*

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,

but against the rulers,

against the authorities,

against the powers of this dark world

and against the spiritual forces of evil

in the heavenly realms.”  Ephesians 6:12

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Confession and Repentance: Out of Darkness

by Mary Beth on March 31, 2021

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 “In our human nature, we’re masters of self-deceit.” R. C. Sproul

It is not natural for us as human beings to be open with our struggles and sufferings.
We have an innate propensity to hide.

A healthy and mature gospel community,

walks in open, godly confession and repentance.

Such attitudes and acts continue throughout our lives as Christians.

We have the charge and honor to bear each other’s burdens in the darkest of times.

~Confession and repentance are never out of season.

In struggling with sin,

an invisible veil of confusion can cover our hearts and minds.

But through faith and persistence,

our hearts can break through barriers of shame to the beginning stages

of confession and repentance, towards healing and restoration.

We are all in need of the Spirit’s provision to renounce individual sin.

~Confession is a grace aided by guidance.

Genuine repentance involves a godly sorrow for specific and general sins.

In Rosaria Butterfield’s successful book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert,

she communicates a powerful and bold witness to the Spirit’s fruit from her unbelieving heart and lifestyle of sexual sin.

From a prominent professor teaching a secular worldview-

to a believer growing in Christ, Butterfield articulates the process of the

“hard edges and dark valleys” in her painful confessions and changed lifestyle.

The process of freedom she “experienced in coming face-to-face with the living God”

led her to say, “How our lives bear the fruit of Christ’s spilled blood is important.” 

Wow, I absolutely love this statement!

Rosaria’s honesty and vulnerability in this area will challenge all Christ followers to such ruthless trust in God.

In a self-centered society of worldly priorities and shallow success,

it is refreshing to see a sincere confession accompanied by godly sorrow and genuine repentance.

~Repentance, like faith, is beyond an intellectual understanding.

We need the holy Scriptures to show us sin is wrong,

as well our need to God’s direction and guidance.

 
“For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword,
piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow,
and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ~Hebrews 4

We turn to Christ for salvation from our sin, yet we also turn from our sin.

The gospel of grace helps us do this.

In our repenting, we must ask ourselves if we are making a genuine commitment to forsake sin.

To be open with our struggles and suffering, is a call to come out of the darkness.
Out of hiding and into the light.
“…God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with ne another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”   1 John 1:5-9 & John 1:9-11 

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