Experienced at Healing Broken Hearts

One of my sidebar links is Of First Importance, a daily blog filled with excellent quotes. They can be RSS fed or sent as daily emails. Here are two from this week so that you can sample the kind of daily encouragement that the site brings.

“There never was one who came to him with a broken heart, but he healed him. He never said to one, “You are too bad for me to heal;” but he did say, “Him that cometh to me, I will in now wise cast out.” My dear hearer, he will not cast you out. You say, “You do not know me, Mr. Spurgeon.” No, I do not; and you have come here to-night, and you hardly know why you are here; only you are very low and very sad.

The Lord Jesus Christ loves such as you are, you poor, desponding, doubting, desolate, disconsolate one. Daughters of sorrow, sons of grief, look ye here! Jesus Christ has gone on healing broken hearts for thousands of years, and he is well up in the business. He understands it by experience, as well as by education. He is “mighty to save.” Consider him; consider him; and the Lord grant you grace to come and trust him even now!”

- Charles SpurgeonChrist’s Hospital

“The happiness promised us in Christ does not consist in outward advantages—such as leading a joyous and peaceful life, having rich possessions, being safe from all harm, and abounding with delights such as the flesh commonly longs after. No, our happiness belongs to the heavenly life.

Christ enriches his people with all things necessary for the eternal salvation of souls and fortifies them with courage to stand unconquerable against all the assaults of spiritual enemies. From this we infer that he rules—inwardly and outwardly—more for our own sake than his.

Thus it is that we may patiently pass through this life with its misery, hunger, cold, contempt, reproaches, and other troubles—content with this one thing: that our King will never leave us destitute, but will provide for our needs until, our warfare ended, we are called to triumph.”

—John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2.15.4


September Hits Like a Ton of Bricks

Most people in Silicon Valley kick into high gear on the week after Labor Day. Even though the Bay Area has a nearly year-round outdoor climate and a seemingly endless vacation season, that Fall pixie dust floats down when the calendar turns to September.

Little kids in soccer uniforms trample all over. The guy who didn't return your email all summer suddenly needs your presence in a meeting within 20 minutes. Traffic jams line up outside the school parking lot. Conversations include arcane college football stats. To do lists grow faster than the 'do'ing.

For parents, the month includes an endless, constant, annoying series of forms to fill out. This is when it becomes clear that the legal department has taken over everything related to children. A waiver for lunch? Eight versions of a health history? Out-of-state emergency contacts in case the Bay Area is destroyed by an earthquake or alien invasion... and somehow mommy & daddy are buried in rubble... yet heroically the teacher is able to call a relative four states away... who will arrive in time to administer Tylenol... because the form that authorizes Tylenol was vaporized in the disaster? Huh?

I enjoy the quickening pace that September brings, but at some point for most of us the pace becomes: frantic. Frantic is when things are done out of the fear that not doing them will bring some kind of life crisis. Like the endless forms, a frantic life is driven by "what if" or "if only."

A Christian can be very active and still avoid being frantic. There's a deeper trust that God will do what He says. Activity and work become an expression of trust, an exercise of calling. And an opportunity at some point to simply stop, to "be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)

DISCUSS: when do you cross that line from busy to frantic? What gets you back?


In Mammon we trust

Jesus called Mammon a competing god.
Wealth itself (the mere object) is simply a piece of creation. Yet Mammon is the personification of the power that money has to control our desires, actions and dreams. It is potent and secretive, easily weaving itself into our perfectly normal needs.

The lie of Mammon is that it can give us what only the true God can: security or power or pleasure or acclaim or success. Four simple-yet-lifelong steps:
  1. Exposing the lie is the first step in becoming a person who uses money for it's proper purposes, rather than being used by Mammon."Money, you don't own me!"
  2. Remembering the sacrificial love of Jesus, who gave up everything for his people is a daily discipline to become free from Mammon's tyranny. Gratitude to God is a way to savor the good things that you have without becoming addicted to them. "God, you have been good!"
  3. Becoming a 'cheerful giver' (2Cor 9), able to delight in letting money leave your hands without guilt or grudge. Trusting that God's care will continue in the future as it has in the past. "Sure, I can help!"
  4. Maintaining a general modesty, essentially becoming monetarily humble even if income or wealth increases. Living so that people see less of you and more of Jesus through you. "Wow, I want that... but can I do without?"
Discussion: What is one simple way to keep from buying unnecessary things?

Recent sermons on money: Generosity and True Riches