A Hospital for the Broken, Part 1: The Patients

“29 Jesus returned to the Sea of Galilee and climbed a hill and sat down. 30 A vast crowd brought to him people who were lame, blind, crippled, those who couldn’t speak, and many others. They laid them before Jesus, and he healed them all. 31 The crowd was amazed! Those who hadn’t been able to speak were talking, the crippled were made well, the lame were walking, and the blind could see again! And they praised the God of Israel.”

-Matthew 15:29-31

 

There are two sides to the Christian walk, and understanding the faith in general. There is the perfection of a God who loves us so much that He sent His perfect son to live OUR life, die, and rise again so that we also may have life. Matthew 20:28 says that “28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”We all know and love this part. We love thinking that God is so loving and so perfect and just wants to bless us and the best for us.
The part we don’t like to accept, however, is that WE have to admit our own fault in the first place. Look at the first part of these verses. The people brought to Jesus are blind, lame, dumb, and more. I think we can all find ourselves in this. We have infirmities. We are born into a sinful nature. Romans 5:12 states that “12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.”. The ones specifically mentioned, however, I feel have a deeper meaning. 

1) We are lame and crippled

This isn’t lame as in “not cool”, although that case could be made as well.

Dictionary.com defines lame as “1.crippled or physically disabled, especially in the foot or leg so as to limp or walk with difficulty.
2.impaired or disabled through defect or injury: a lame arm.
3.weak; inadequate; unsatisfactory”
All three can clearly apply to our lives. When we are born, we are born into the curse of sin. It’s not just something we DO, it’s a part of the nature of man. It’s a part of humanity. What does this do? It cripples us. It makes us unable to walk forward toward our God, thereby rendering us weak in our own flesh, inadequate to do His work, and unsatisfactory to be in His presence. Sin is an impairment to us. Psalm 107:14 says that “He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; he snapped their chains.”.  Chains of what? Sin. 
As in John 8:33-34,
33 “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” 34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.”
We have our own opinion of bondage. We say people are bound up or crippled by alcohol, or drugs, or a wild lifestyle. But what we fail to realize is that we are all bound by sin. It cripples us, rendering us lame and useless. 

2) We are blind

 
When Adam fell, he tore man apart from God. The entire world we live in is apart from God. There has been a darkness that shrouds us and covers our eyes. But we don’t want to admit that we are blind. We try and make our own way, and what happens? 
14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”
-Matthew 15:14 (KJV)
We stumble about in darkness because that’s all that can exist in the absence of Light. We are too proud to admit that we are failing, and falling. We are following Satan when we are not following God. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 says that “3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”  Paul talks in Corinthians 13 about this. Right now, we see things darkly, unfocused. But when we come to know Christ, things are made clearer and more whole. I may not know EVERYTHING right away, but there are things that are made abundantly obvious. The friends I now see who are living in sin versus those who walk in Jesus’ blood. 
Unfortunately, many live in darkness and cannot see without the Light of this world. “4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[understood] it.”
-John 1:4-5

We have so many different ways, so many religions, denominations, self-help books that try and get us through this life. But all of us at some point, missed the point. JESUS. We are all guilty of this fact.

 
3) We Can’t Speak..Truth
 
This one is a bit tricky. We CAN speak.
Actually, the problem here is that we speak too much.
Humanity has been shouting since we were created. Just look at Babel. But what we don’t speak is truth. Individually we all reject or have rejected God. We create our own brand of truth that we proclaim as the right way to live. Everyone has this idea that we can pick and choose what we want to believe, but don’t have to sell out to anything. Even those who claim to be Christians can speak falsely. Like it says in Isaiah 29:13, 
“And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.”. Sometimes our “Christianity” becomes as far removed from God as a polytheistic religion. What we are refraining from speaking is the sovereign name of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus. We have had motions to remove it from our pledge, from our money. It’s one of the most controversial names anywhere. It’s also one of the misused. It’s not cool to talk about the Gospel, but it can be used as an expletive. We don’t know how to speak or what to talk about. And each of us has been here. No one can say they haven’t been mute about Christ, that they have always spoken truth. No. We all are guilty of not speaking the truth. 
 
 
 
In conclusion, we are all guilty of sin. We all have been crippled by it, been blinded by it, and have spoken falsely because of it. Take this parable.
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

-Luke 18:9-14

All of us, myself included, have been like that Pharisee. We think that because we are “good”, and not like the real “bad” people, that we are okay. WE ARE NOT OKAY. We NEED to be able to admit this in order for anything good to be done in our lives. God is willing to help and can push us in the right direction, but He won’t force anything. The decision has to be ours. But how can a patient be healed if he won’t admit he is sick? I had to. I still have to remind myself. I don’t have this all figured out. I make mistakes, I mess up. Jesus Himself said He didn’t come for those who are okay, but the sick. WE are all sick. If you learn anything from what I’ve said, let it be this:

IN ORDER TO BE MADE WHOLE, WE HAVE TO ADMIT WE ARE BROKEN.

 

Jesus didn’t heal people who didn’t need it. But on a spiritual level, we all need healing. Whether you don’t know Jesus, or don’t have a relationship with Him, or have been straying to do things your own way, we need to come to realize that we can’t do life on our own. Next time, we’ll be talking about the One who heals us when we are broken, and how He does it. 

 

God bless!
~Michael Wright, Jr.~

 
 

Walking the River

“Measuring as he went, he took me along the stream for 1,750 feet and then led me across. The water was up to my ankles. 4 He measured off another 1,750 feet and led me across again. This time the water was up to my knees. After another 1,750 feet, it was up to my waist. 5 Then he measured another 1,750 feet, and the river was too deep to walk across. It was deep enough to swim in, but too deep to walk through.”

-Ezekiel 47:3-5

I have read this passage of Scripture before, but never really took time to notice what was going on here. It just seemed odd. A man leads Ezekiel alongside a river, then takes Him across. Then again, and again. And later on, he takes Ezekiel back to notice things he hadn’t seen the first time. Interesting, yes, but nothing spectacular. I read it again a week ago and some things jumped out at me. I believe this passage is an example of our walk with Christ and how to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Here are 4 things that I think we need to know in order to better walk with our Lord.

1)We must be willing to trust our guide

This may just be more of an overall theme, but it’s important nonetheless. Ezekiel trusted the man leading him, whether it was alongside the river or across it. He never questioned the man. In the same way, we need to trust in God. Whether we are just walking alongside Him in life, or He is leading us across the river, we need to let Him be in complete control. We must surrender to Him and His guidance. It’s as simple as that.

2)We must be willing to walk ALONGSIDE our teacher before going deeper

One of the things that struck me was that, before crossing the river, they walked alongside it for a ways. As people we want things NOW. We want that special revelation now, we want this trial to be over now, we want this season of blessings to start now.Sometimes “now” has to wait. We need to develop an attitude of patience and discipline, to allow ourselves to learn from God and what He has to say in the day-to-day. Not everything is going to be a big test or trial. Psalm 1:1-2 says that
“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.”

Day and night! It’s a daily walk we have, not just going from one experience to the next. We need to develop a daily walk with our Lord and Savior-so when those moments DO come, we will be ready.

3) We must be willing to walk into the river

This is another matter of trust. It says that at three separate times they crossed the river-the first being easy, the second deeper, and the third deep enough that you could only swim in it. I see this as the revelation of Christ. We walk with Him in the day to day, and there come times-whether a Christ encounter, or a big trial, or a time of tragedy in our life, where we are called to go deeper with Him. As we grow in our faith these things grow as well, because we need to get to a place where we are willing to let Him carry us completely. We may still have to-and be able to-walk on our own. But when it gets to the point where we can’t walk, do we have a deep enough relationship and trust with Christ that we can let Him carry us?

4) We need to recognize that the river isn’t there to hurt us

One of the most interesting things to me about this passage was in verse 8. The man asks Ezekiel “have you been watching, son of man?”. He then leads him back along the path they walked. It was full of trees, fruit bearing-and the river, the man says, is one of healing. We all have times where we just can’t see the road ahead. We don’t understand what’s going on, and we don’t know why God would do this to us. But we need to start watching with a different set of eyes. We can’t think about what’s happening NOW but about what God can do with this in the future. And while sometimes things are just way beyond us, we can know that the paths God takes us down are always good and perfect. Even if it doesn’t feel like it in the moment. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”. That’s in Jeremiah. God has plans of good for us, for He IS good. The waters of the river of your life, in God’s hands, are restoring and pure, no matter how scary and deep they may seem.

In conclusion, we need to develop a deep trust in our God in order to get through the trials of our life. Our walk on this earth needs to be rooted in a wholehearted deep trust in the One who leads us. Whether it’s just learning for a season, or going to cross the river, we need to rest in our Maker.

Elijah on Mount Carmel-Spoken Word

this is a spoken word piece I did for my church this Sunday. It brings to mind an excellent question-how long will we waver between two opinions? God, or the other false idols in our lives?

Victory in the Valley

“5 When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
    he brought me into a spacious place.
6 The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?
7 The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
    I look in triumph on my enemies.”
                     -Psalm 118:5-7

My mother is dead.
She committed suicide Friday, June 21st.

This is the kind of news that shakes lives, and faiths. It has done both to me. I will be honest, I’ve been questioning a few things since then. I don’t get suicide, and what happens to those that commit it. I won’t pretend to have those answers. 
There is, however, one thing I do know.

No matter what the problem is, no matter what the tragedy, our God is greater. 

I know that I can cry. I know that I am able to grieve. Ecclesiastes states that there is a time for everything under the sun-grieving, and dancing. I’ve had my moments of grief. I’ve also had my times of strength. The thing that I want to encourage you in, however, is the assured steadfastness of our God. Throughout all of this He has never left me. He has been the one that I lean on more, He is the one I yelled at and cried to and found comfort in. I have found peace and solace in the Lord in these times. I have found eternal joy-though I may not be happy in the moment, I rest in Him.

I say all this to bring about the question-how can we have victory in what seems to be a dark, endless valley?

I see three things that we can do.
Sing to the Lord, Study His Word, and Stand on His promises.

First, singing to our Lord. One of the hardest things to do in hard times is praise God. Yet we are called to do so! James 1:2-4 says this. 
” Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
We are to consider it JOY when we face trials. All of Psalm 118 is praising God for the victory delivered in the face of giant trials. Why are we supposed to consider trials joy? Going back to James, when we are tested it helps us to grow and mature in our walk with God. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says that ” In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”. It is promised to us that the Christian life will result in many trials-whether they be from Satan, trying to hold you back, or God allowing Satan to test you (like Job), or just life. We are promised trials. That is fact. It’s how you react that determines what is going to happen. You can mope, get depressed, get angry..all those negative emotions. You could get mad at God.
Or, you could thank Him for an opportunity of growth, and give glory to His name. In doing this, two things happen-He will bless you for being faithful, and your faith and strength in hard times will grow. I’ve seen both throughout my situation. It’s one of the hardest things to learn to do. But it also is one of the most necessary. God is God whether times are good or bad. We have to serve Him and love Him the same as well!

Second thing is to study God’s Word. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that “16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[a] may be complete, equipped for every good work.”. Scripture is here to teach and to train us. It has answers and comfort for all sorts of situations!! Something that has been huge in helping me through tough times is turning to God’s Word. Whether it’s reading the cries of David’s heart in the Psalms, or reading letters of teaching and instruction from Paul, God has had a Word for me whenever I need it. 
This is something special about having a relationship with God. When reading the Bible under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, He can/will reveal things to you that you need. The Bible is completely relevant to the issues of today, no matter what anyone says. It just takes diligent reading and the revelation through the Holy Spirit. 

The last thing we can do is stand on God’s promises. 
God will never leave you or forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)
God will give you strength to run the race (Isaiah 40:31)
Jesus already has victory (1 Corinthians 15:17)

Did you hear that? Read it? Jesus already has the victory! When He died and rose again, He claimed victory over death and Satan and all of the demonic powers. Not to say He didn’t already, but at that point “it is finished.”. No matter what the situation is, Jesus has the victory. His burden is easy and His yoke is light. Hook up with Jesus and let Him relieve you of your pain, your burdens. Take hold of the promises of God, because God never will break a promise. Ever. He is eternally faithful.

In conclusion, Jesus is eternally victorious. When your situation in life is going bad, just remember. God is greater than our sorrow. Greater than our pain, our suffering. When we have trials, trusting in God will lead us to a even better future. We need to praise Him, study His Word, and trust in what He says. 

God bless!

~Michael Wright, Jr.