The Lord is Near

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles. 18 The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit. Psalm 34: 17-18

I get the broken heart thing. If you’ve lived on planet earth for more than a few years, you do too. Unfortunately we’ve all been there before, and probably will be again. The good news though is that God meets us in the middle of our broken heart and trauma. He promises. Cross His heart and hope to die. He is near to those who have a broken heart.

How near is the Lord?

The original Hebrew word used in this verse is qarowb which means near of place, time, and personal relationship. God takes your broken heart very personally. He will comfort you in very meaningful specific ways if you draw near to Him when He draws near to you.

Broken

The word broken used in this verse bears studying. From the original Hebrew, broken transliterates as shabar which means to rend violently, to crush, to be maimed, crippled, shattered. Strong words for a deep hurt.  But within the violence and devastation of shabar is a glimmer of hope. This word which speaks of destruction also means to bring to birth. Can it possibly be, in some instances, that a broken heart is the beginning and birthing of something new and meaningful? Only God can do that.

But God’s not done yet

Go back and read the verse again. It also says God saves those who have a contrite spirit. But what is a contrite spirit? What does contrite even mean? Like myself, I think you’ll be surprised.

Contrite in the original Hebrew (dakka’)  means very much crushed, crushed to dust or crushed literally to powder. My heart has been very much crushed and literally crushed to powder. This kind of brokenness is broken beyond repair.  It reaches past I need to get the Elmer’s so I can glue it back together broken. There is no glue that repairs dust. This is hopelessly broken. But

The Lord is near to the contrite

Psalm 34 promises God saves those whose who have a contrite spirit. Let’s say the verse out loud using words from the definition: God saves those whose spirit has been crushed to dust. You see dust is one of God’s favorite creating mediums ( see Genesis 2:7).  He fashions very good things from dust. God dives in with His holy hands and creates a new spirit from the dust and ashes of broken dreams, relationships, and failures.

A final word

The Hebrew word for save used in this verse is yasha’ which means, to save, to deliver, to free, to liberate, to be victorious. You will be liberated from the pain of your broken heart and shattered spirit.  Give Him your heart and trust Him to redeem, restore and recreate your life. In Jesus Name, Amen.

If your are struggling with brokenness, please leave a comment below. I’d love to pray for you.

By Mary Kane

All rights reserved. Copyright 2020

Resources on Brokenness:

Re-purposed

The Blessing of Brokenness




Cancel Culture, an Old Tactic

Cancel Culture

Cancel culture is alive and well in America today. 

If you dare to disagree with whatever “they” deem to be acceptable thinking on a topic or issue, the mob gangs up and cancels you — your social media presence, you job or business, whatever it is that is important to you and your livlihood. You’re now a cancel culture victim.



We see it on both sides of the political aisle, as people and companies are boycotted by those who disagree with them, all with the intent of destroying reputations, social status, and finances.

This ultimate rejection isn’t new. It’s an old tactic that’s been around a long time.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].

John 10:10 Amplified

Satan is the original cancel culture maven. He wants you to fail, so he will do all he can to discourage you, steal your blessings of peace and  joy, kill your relationship with God, and destroy your life’s purpose and calling. In short, his desire is to cancel every Christ-follower. 

How do we recognize our enemy? Let’s look at a few of his tactics.

Sometimes the voice of rejection that is shouting the loudest in my head is my own voice. 

What?! How could this be? Well, think about what you’re filling your head with. What thoughts are talking up the precious real estate in your brain, as Dr. Caroline Leaf is fond of saying. 

First, the enemy plants a negative thought in our minds, and before we know it, we’ve not questioned whether it’s true or not, but we’ve accepted it as true, and we let its poison have free rein in our minds.

For instance, after years of believing that God would equip me to do what He was calling me to do, the thought popped into my head that that wouldn’t be true for me any longer.  What God was calling me to do in this next phase of life was just too big for me to do, too audacious.

Who was Just Little Old Me to think that God would take the time to equip me to do this? I chewed on that thought, I hate to admit, for months, and my faith plummeted. I felt stuck, depressed, and lethargic. I wasted a lot of time in the doldrums by letting those thoughts run unchecked through my brain. 

Another problem is the voice of comparison. 

I don’t have to look very far to find those doing similar work as I am who are 

  • smarter
  • younger
  • better connected
  • more resourceful
  • prettier

By the time I’ve made it to the bottom of that list, I’ve forgotten all about the calling on my life and how God has equipped me in the past. 

But God hasn’t.

Finally, I started listening to the right voice in my head. The voice of the Holy Spirit who reminded me that I can do all things God wants me to do “through Christ who strengthens me.”

I stopped giving the negative voice in my head so much real estate and started thinking God’s thoughts. I realized that Satan was trying to cancel God’s purpose and plans for me in this next phase of life, but that on the cross God had already canceled Satan’s hold on my life. I just needed to believe it.

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception [pseudo-intellectual babble] according to the traditions [and musings] of mere men, following the elementary principles of this world, rather than following [the truth — the teachings of] Christ.

Colossians 2:8 Amplified

If we didn’t have a choice in the matter, God would have never told us to “see to it.” It’s my choice what I think and what I believe. Don’t let Satan push the cancel button on your calling.

See to it that you find it and live it out. 

How about you? What is the enemy trying to cancel in your life right now? And what do you need to do to cancel him? Let me know in the comments below.




4 Steps to Become a Christ Follower

These are uncertain times, but there is one thing you can be certain of–God loves you! He also has a plan for your life, to give you a hope and a future. In order to become all that God creates you to be you must make a very important decision and take the 4 steps to become a Christ follower.



Step 1. Admit you are a sinner

Sin is something that goes against the truth of God’s word such as stealing, hurting others, or lying. If you are like me you can think of many things you’ve done wrong. Romans 3:23 says we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Step 2. Believe that Jesus died for you.

Because of our sin, we need a Savior. “While we were yet sinners, Jesus died for us.” Romans 3:23

Step 3. Ask Jesus to be your Savior.

Tell Him of your need for a Savior and ask Him to come into your heart. “Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13

Step 4. As a Christ follower, rejoice in your salvation.

Now that your burden of sin and the emptiness of your heart is lifted, you can rejoice! “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

For a little more information on how to become a Christ follower, please click on the play button below.

4 Steps to Become a Christ Follower

If you decided to become a Christian,  welcome to the family! Please leave  a comment in the comment section below. I’d love to chat with you!

 

See below for other salvation resources:

How to Become a Christian by Faithward

Peace with God

How to know God

 

all right reserved. copyright 2020




Are we Drinking from Living Water or Cracked Cisterns?

For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me—the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all! Jeremiah 2:13

One hot summer day, I filled a jug with water and tea bags and let the tea brew in the sun all day. That evening I transferred the tea to a pitcher and placed it in my refrigerator. A couple hours later I opened the door only to find a puddle of tea running down the shelf from an unnoticed crack in my pitcher. My broken pitcher couldn’t hold any tea.

We run the risk of being like that cracked pitcher.

In the passage above, God is lamenting how His people, the Israelites, have abandoned Him. He was offering them an abundant life in a covenant relationship with Him. He referred to Himself as the fountain of living water. Yet the people tired of that relationship and turned from God to cracked cisterns, which could hold no water at all. In other words, the people abandoned God and started to worship the false idols of the nations around them. When they did this, they themselves became marred by sin, no longer able to have a healthy relationship with God.

Why would they do this?

Their bloom of love for God had faded. Somewhere along the years, they tired of the relationship, of following God’s rules. To them it probably looked as if their neighbors in the nations around them were having a lot more fun than they were. The neighbors didn’t have nearly as many laws to uphold. The Israelites were looking for the next exciting thing.

Have you ever felt like that?

When we become bored, we often disconnect from God. When we stop reading His word, praying, studying the Bible, worshiping, and listening to Him, we are at risk for exchanging the truth of God for lies. We become vulnerable to the temptations around us. We allow our red, hot love to cool to lukewarm mediocrity, and if we don’t reconnect, we may let our relationship fizzle out all together. Soon we find we’ve wandered over to the land of the cracked-pot gods doing things we should never be doing, wondering how we got there.

Reignite the flames

If your spiritual life has burned out, reignite the flames. Recommit to prayer and ask God to show you what your purpose is for this season of life. Make time with Him a priority each day. And start looking for the opportunities He is providing that you have been missing, while saying no to the opportunities the enemy has deceived you with. Keep the fires of your first-love God going. His creativity and love for us never fades. After all, He is the fountain of living, read that life-giving, love-breathing water. Be a vessel that is intact enough to hold and absorb that water and then share it with others.




International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church with Guest William Stark

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The simple act of living out their Christian faith is dangerous for so many Christians around the world. Because of extremism, many are part of underground churches that worship in secret. Other have no community support at all and worship on their own.

Let’s consider some facts on persecution. According to Open Doors, every month around the world the following occurs:

  • 322 Christians are killed for their faith
  • 214 churches and Christian properties are destroyed
  • 772 forms of violence are committed against Christians (this includes beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests, and forced marriages)

According to the Pew Research Center, among the world’s 25 most populous countries, these five countries have the highest religious restrictions: Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia, and Turkey.

2016 International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

This Sunday, November 6, 2016, is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Please take some time to pray for those who are suffering for their faith. I have listed resources here that will help you to pray in an informed way. These resources also highlight other ways you can help if you desire. For example, through VOM I have purchased Action Packs and filled them with blankets, clothing, etc. for displaced Christians. You’ll find numerous opportunities to make a difference. But remember, we need to start with prayer, as that is the most powerful way to affect change.

Update to 2013 Podcast

In 2013 I interviewed Todd Daniels from International Christian Concern. This year Only By Prayer welcomes William Stark From ICC as he gives us an important update on what we can learn from the persecuted church and how we can support them. Listen below or you can also subscribe on iTunes.

Resources for the Persecuted Church

There are other organizations as well. These will get your started as you seek to become informed and to help. Thank you for supporting our brothers and sisters in Christ, and feel free to post your prayers in the comment section.

Pray on!




I’ll Be Happy When …

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“Are we there, yet?”

We think of this as the quintessential question whiny kids always ask in the car. The truth, though, is that many of us spend our lives with this question rattling around in our brains:

Am I there, yet? 

Where, exactly, is there? It’s a mythical place somewhere in the future when the Next Big Thing will make me feel good. I’ll be happy when Friday comes … when I can go on vacation … when Christmas gets here … when the holidays are over, and the kids go back to school.

The problem lies in always expecting to be happy — sometime in the future.  We steal the joy from the present, by constantly looking ahead. Anticipation is great, but

we make a soul-sucking mistake when we suppose that only epic (and usually expensive) moments can refresh our spirits.

The key to preventing (or fighting) “I’ll Be Happy When Syndrome” is a simple change of attitude.

“Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” I saw this message on a card, and bought it as a reminder to myself, struck by how it illustrates the substance of Philippians 4:11b. I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. So how do we learn this skill?

There is a new catchword in our culture — mindfulness — that means “the state of being conscious of something; focusing one’s awareness on the present moment.” A good concept. I think of mindfulness as a 30-second vacation because it doesn’t have to take any longer than that.

green mug, tea cup, coffee cup,How does a 30-second vacation work? By sinking into the experience.

I have a favorite mug that one of my daughters gave me. I love my mug!  Every time I use it, I feel loved because my daughter chose a celadon green glaze she knew would please my eye. It’s heavy pottery; I enjoy it’s weight in my hands and its smooth texture. Its heat warms me. I enjoy the taste and smell of my drink.  Then I rinse my mug, put it in the dishwasher, and go on with my day.

LavenderThe hospital where I work has a beautiful campus. On my way in from the parking lot, I pass plants that change with the seasons.  In the spring, I pause under a pear tree, look at the blossoms and inhale the fragrance, then head into the lab to work. This morning, the heather was in bloom.  In the autumn, I stop for a close look at a burning bush. Winter comes, and I notice that the frost on the drain cover looks like a spider web.

And the list goes on.

I soak in a spectacular sunset. Peruse the stalls at my local farmers market. Read the Sunday funny papers on my front porch. Savor a Fannie May milk chocolate vanilla butter cream melting on my tongue. Sit entranced by the sizzle and flash of lightning Front porchduring a thunderstorm. Afterward, I stand in my yard inhaling the freshness, trying not to step on the worms.

Living in the moment takes nothing away from the big events of life. They will still be yours to enjoy. But instead of packing all of your fun into a few limited experiences, look for the 30-second vacations God puts in your path on a regular basis. You’ll be more refreshed, and when you do take an extended vacation, you won’t be so desperate for everything to go perfectly, or so devastated when it doesn’t.

Where to start?

The next time you find yourself enjoying something, stop and give yourself fully to it for 30 seconds. Then, start actively looking around you for things to relish. Concerned that people will think you are crazy? Just tell them that you are “practicing mindfulness,” and you will impress the socks off of them!

God’s ideal for us includes joy, both now, and in the future. Psalm 23 reminds us that God not only walks with us through the shadows, but that he restores our souls on a daily basis. “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life.”

Have you taken a 30-second vacation yet? I can’t wait to hear what it is. Please share below, and know that you finally have an answer to the question:

Are we there, yet? Yes! 

LauraGuest poster Laura Hulce ( sister to Mary and Jane) lives in Western Michigan, a few miles from “The Big Lake” (aka Lake Michigan) which is the scene of many of her 30-second vacations. She and her  husband Andy have three grown daughters, two sons-in-law, and one grand-dog — all currently living  in the U.S., which was not the case for a number of years!  Laura works full-time as a clinical laboratory scientist, a profession which a co-worker once described as hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror when a patient goes south. Actually, Laura likes her job very much — most days.

Leading a discipleship group is Laura’s primary ministry. She is convinced that she learns as much from the terrific and wise women in her group as they learn from her. Free time? Reading, hiking, bike-riding, resale shopping, and geocaching.