Friday, April 10, 2009

Be Not Dismayed by Soul-Trouble

The lesson of wisdom is, be not dismayed by soul-trouble. Count it no strange thing, but a part of ordinary… experience. Should the power of depression be more than ordinary, think not that all is over with your usefulness. Cast not away your confidence, for it hath great recompense of reward. Even if the enemy’s foot be on your neck, expect to rise amid and overthrow him. Cast the burden of the present, along with the sin of the past and the fear of the future, upon the Lord, who forsaketh not his saints.”

- Charles Spurgeon, The Minister’s Fainting Fits

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Outside the Camp

Leviticus 13 is a long chapter. And all it does is answer the question, "what do you do if you think someone has leprosy?" The priest has an integral part in examining the person and determining whether he is ceremonially clean or unclean. (I'm glad pastor's don't have to do that today. We can leave it to the medical professionals.) 

"Check the discolored spots of skin. "
"Check the color of the hair on the spot."
"Examine scaly infections."
"Check the garmet that has a mark of leprosy, whether in warp or woof."

My favorite instruction is this: (v. 40) "Now if a man loses the hair of his head, he is bald; he is clean. If his head becomes bald at the front and sides, he is bald on the forehead; he is clean."

But the saddest is shortly after:
“The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp. (45-46)
How painful to have to declare to all "I am unclean!" and to remain so for as long as one has the disease. How painful to live alone. How painful to dwell outside the camp, away from the Living God.

Jesus healed the lepers and gave them their life back. Jesus drew near to them and brought them back, inside the camp. But he went outside the camp to the Place of the Skull (Golgotha), too a place where people died to be the perfect Sin-bearer. And we are bid to go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. (Hebrews 13:13)


Get your kids (ages 9-14) out there and have some fun! I'll be hosting clinics in April / May and a track meet in May.

A Bed and Breakfast near Kingston, Tennessee. Sally and I are spending a couple days there next month, courtesy of some generous friends!

Live in the Nashville area? Looking to get some good, farm-grown vegetables every week for 6 months for a fair price? Check out Kingdom Acres. Contact and ask about farm shares. Deadline to sign up is this month.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Gift of Conviction

Has it been a while since you've really felt convicted of sin? Specific sin. Personal sin. Ugly sin.

The old saying goes of a Christian, "I'm not perfect, just forgiven." True enough. And I am eternally grateful that in the Gospel there is held out a promise of complete forgiveness -- once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, so that sinners may be reconciled to God.

But there are times when the forgiven person grieves God and brings pain to himself and others because of wrong choices, breaking God's commandments, and laziness in the battle with the ever-present indwelling sin. And sometimes the feeling of having done wrong is not there. We don't break down and cry; we don't feel that our sin is rebellion toward God; we don't have a vision of our God as a consuming fire of holiness.

But bless God for those times when we feel His grief, our wretchedness, and the hypocrisy. Those times when we experience God searching the heart and feel the presence of the Holy Spirit who "convict[s] the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment." (Jn 16:8). And if God so chooses to use other people to bring that awareness about, then bless Him too.

If God brings conviction into your life, accept it as a gift. Treat it like news from a doctor that you have a terrible, potentially deadly ailment, but one that can be treated. True conviction is a searchlight of the heart. Let it show you the problem and convince you to get help from God before it is too late.

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