At the end of myself…at the feet of Jesus

Matthew 25: 40, And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.


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Love God by Loving the Least of These

Matthew 25: 40, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Broken people are easy to ignore. The outcasts, the maimed, the poor, the unwanted, if we aren’t one of them, we don’t really understand them. If you’ve not been confined to a wheelchair, if you don’t know someone who is, can you really relate to what someone who is faces on a day-to-day basis? If you’ve not been in poverty, it’s hard to know just how gut-wrenching the daily life of an impoverished family is. It’s so easy to ignore families who aren’t just like ours. The mother who dresses poorly, eyes always downcast, acting as if she is afraid someone will speak to her–she probably is afraid. Do you love her enough to find out? If we love God, we have to love His people, and not just our own family and friends, not just those we love to catch up with from time to time but the broken ones, the impoverished ones, the ones maimed and damaged by life and by others. Even those caught up in the logical consequences of their own poor decision-making who now have repented and want to live for Christ–to fully live for Him–how often we turn such a one away. We’ll put the elderly on our prayer list. We’ll call the sick (maybe). We’ll take a meal if someone has a new baby or a death in the family. But what of those who are continuously suffering, what of them? What do we do for the abused? For the lonely older lady who did all she could when she could but now has no one, have we forgotten her? What about the one suffering through an unwanted divorce? What about those whose lives have been destroyed by economic disasters? Oh, we’ll organize drives and go paint houses for the elderly, we’ll get the guys together to fix a single Mom’s car or we’ll gather and fill shoe boxes at Christmas for the poor children across the sea so they know that somebody cares. We do all of those things and we feel really good about ourselves when we do. But, once the project is over it’s back to business as normal and those poor folks get ignored for the rest of the year. We’ll speak to them in church (usually in a hurry so we don’t feel guilty about ignoring them while we’re also making sure there’s no time to really connect with them or for them to put any demands on us–we’re just so busy, you know?). If we get around to it (or if we’re really pressed to) we’ll try to raise some money to help them take care of their needs, we’ll say a quick prayer for them (quickly before we forget we promised), we’ll even pick them up for church if no one else will. That’s usually as far as it goes. We see them as a project to do rather than people to love.

Most Christians act like they think that abuse, poverty, unending health challenges are diseases that if we get too close we might catch. We don’t want to get involved, we don’t want demands made on us. We certainly don’t want our own comfort zone somehow compromised by having to think about what someone else is dealing with daily. You’d think we believe in karma rather than the grace of God (maybe they did something to somehow deserve this, brought it on themselves….). Yeah. And maybe it’s just what God has for them and maybe you are the one He’s chosen to put in their path to do something about it.

Funny but I can’t see Jesus hiding from such things, can you? He was always right there, right in the midst of those who were wounded, hurting, maimed and poor. Healing the broken, serving the outcasts, loving the unlovable. Doing His Father’s will. We read the stories and we think how great He was for doing such things yet, when we get the chance to do the same, we balk and run the other way.

It’s time for a change. We need to ‘fess up that we’ve been wrong. We need to get into the midst of the pain, come along side the abused, the sick, the broken, the lonely and the poor and help them. Ask them how they are and really mean it. Hear their stories. Help them. Serve them. Day in, day out, until we’ve actually made a difference in their lives. Until their pain is ours and our joy is theirs. It’s time to do so because Jesus has told us to do so. He’s told us to care. So let’s get on our knees and ask Him to show us those He has for us to serve and then, let’s get busy serving.

Are you ready?

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Silence Heard in Hell

James 1: 27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (ESV)

Each one of us has an incalculable impact on the lives of others. What we say or fail to say, what we do or fail to do, what our lives stand for or what we fail to stand up for, openly displays our convictions for all to see. Daily we prove our devotion to God by our choices: little devotion shows itself in excuses, much devotion shows itself in being obedient to Him even when no one else will be.

Those of us who write about or minister in the area of domestic abuse–especially as it relates to Christians–are often accused of “over-emphasizing it”, “creating problems” or “attacking” other Christians, especially leaders, who have repeatedly refused to address this issue.

Yet, when one out of every three women is affected by abuse during her lifetime, when one out of every four women experiences domestic abuse in her marriage, when a woman is abused every 9 seconds, how can addressing such horrors be over-reacting? The abused and their children are, for all intents and purposes, widows and orphans and we are commanded to care for them.

So, in order to be pleasing to God, we must get the emphasis off of those of us who do write or minister for or to the abused. Our focus should be first and foremost on the glory of Christ but since it is He Who commanded us to care for the widows and orphans, I believe that we are bringing Him glory when we address it. It isn’t the only thing we ought to address but it is definitely one thing that we should. So, then the question should never be “Why does she, why do they, talk so much about abuse?” for that is focusing your attention on frail humans (where it doesn’t belong) rather than on God (where it does). Instead, let’s ask:

“Is ministering to the oppressed mandated in Scripture?”

“Does my theology show itself in my obedience to this mandate? Or, does it show itself in my refusal to obey?”

“Since Jesus said what we do for “the least of these” we are doing to Him, what does my refusal to minister to the abused speak of how I honor and value Christ?”

Be sure of this: the devil is on the side of the abuser; he’s all for abuse maintaining its hold in the church. That should tell us something about where we ought to stand on this issue, don’t you think?

Since one out of every three women is affected by some form of abuse in her lifetime (not necessarily by her husband), it is quite probable that in a church with 30 women, 10 have suffered abuse. In a church with 300 women, approximately 100 of them will have experienced abuse at some point in their life. What if one of them were you? Would you want the leaders to speak up, speak out and defend you? Or would you be content with it continuing to be ignored?

There is a desperate need in the church today for godly men and women to be willing to openly address this issue. To educate themselves on domestic abuse. To be willing to call out the abusers. To minister to the abused. Believe the abused. Most Christians aren’t. Even most Christians in Reformed circles aren’t. By failing to speak out in behalf of the abused, by pretending this isn’t an important issue (or that we are somehow infringing on other’s rights by addressing it), we are speaking very loudly about it. Very loudly, indeed, and our silence is heard in hell.

If we aren’t speaking out against the abusers, we are silently endorsing their sin. If we aren’t ministering to the abused, we are heaping more abuse on them. Worse, when we fail to stand for truth, we ourselves are sinning against a holy God.

The obligation to speak truth lies with each one of us. We’ve been silent far too long. We must teach about abuse and minister to the abused because the abused are important to God. This isn’t an easy issue to address; if you take a stand on it some folks won’t like you. Some already don’t like me for taking such a stand but that’s okay; it’s God Whom I am seeking to honor, not a person. I’m walking into the fray and we invite you to go with me. We might get singed but since many of Jesus’ followers have been burned at the stake, that’s a small price to pay. I pray that many others feel the same.

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Have you ever stood against abuse of any kind (abortion, rape date, verbal, emotional, physical…)? What was the response of others?


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Others May, You Cannot by G.D. Watson

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
(Matthew 16:24-25)

If God has called you to be truly like Jesus in all your spirit, He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility. He will put on you such demands of obedience that you will not be allowed to follow other Christians. In many ways, He seems to let other good people do things which He will not let you do.

Others who seem to be very religious and useful may push themselves, pull wires, and scheme to carry out their plans, but you cannot. If you attempt it, you will meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.

Others can brag about themselves, their work, their successes, their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing. If you begin to do so, He will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.

Others will be allowed to succeed in making great sums of money, or having a legacy left to them, or in having luxuries, but God may supply you only on a day-to-day basis, because He wants you to have something far better than gold, a helpless dependence on Him and His unseen treasury.

The Lord may let others be honored and put forward while keeping you hidden in obscurity because He wants to produce some choice, fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade.

God may let others be great, but keep you small. He will let others do a work for Him and get the credit, but He will make you work and toil without knowing how much you are doing. Then, to make your work still more precious, He will let others get the credit for the work which you have done; this to teach you the message of the Cross, humility, and something of the value of being cloaked with His nature.

The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch on you, and with a jealous love rebuke you for careless words and feelings, or for wasting your time, which other Christians never seem distressed over.

So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign and has a right to do as He pleases with His own, and that He may not explain to you a thousand things which may puzzle your reason in His dealings with you.

God will take you at your word. If you absolutely sell yourself to be His slave, He will wrap you up in a jealous love and let other people say and do many things that you cannot. Settle it forever; you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue or chaining your hand or closing your eyes in ways which others are not dealt with. However, know this great secret of the Kingdom: When you are so completely possessed with the Living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of heaven, the high calling of God.