Paul Madson

THOUGHTS, QUOTES & REFLECTIONS

Month: September 2012

A Sacred Sorrow

“He was despised and forsaken of men,

A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”

(Isaiah 53:3a NASB)

Several years ago, I read Michael Card’s excellent book, A Sacred Sorrow: Reaching Out to God in the Lost Language of Lament. It ministered to me deeply then, and continues on to this day.

Here is a brief description of the book:

“It’s easy to praise God when things in your life are going well, but what about the other times? What happens when mountaintop experiences cascade into seasons of struggling in the valley?

God desires for us to pour out our hearts to Him, whether in joy or pain. But many of us don’t feel right expressing our anger, frustration, and sadness in prayer. Our personal worship experience is not complete unless we understand the lost language of lament.

From Job to David to Jesus, men and women of the Bible understood the importance of pouring one’s heart out to the Father. Examine their stories and expand your definition of worship. Let your pain, questions, and sorrow respond with praise to a God who is moved by your tears.”

Here are a few other quotes from the book that I found helpful…

Page 11

“It’s an odd thing. Jesus wept. Job wept. David wept. Jeremiah wept. They did it openly. Their weeping became a matter of public record. Their weeping, sanctioned by inclusion in our Holy Scriptures, a continuing and reliable witness that weeping has an honored place in the life of faith.

Why are Christians, of all people, embarrassed by tears, uneasy in the presence of sorrow, unpracticed in the language of lament? It certainly is not a biblical heritage, for virtually all our ancestors in the faith were thoroughly ‘acquainted with grief.’ And our Savior was, as everyone knows, ‘a Man of Sorrows.'”

Page 20

“The bottom line: We are all born into a world we were not really made to inhabit. We were created for God, made to flourish in the comfort of the Presence of our Father within the warm context of His undeniable hesed (the Hebrew word “hesed” is often rendered ‘mercy’ or ‘loving-kindness’).

Now, in this fallen world, we are cut off from them both. Only the loving sovereignty of an all-wise God could redeem such a hopeless situation. His solution? To use suffering to save us. To redeem our own suffering and most significantly to redeem all mankind, through His own suffering on the cross to pay the price for our sin. In order to turn around and move once more in the direction of God, we must find this path He has carved out. We must call out to Him in the language He has provided. We must regain the tearful trail. We must relearn lament.”

It should be no wonder then that lament is so much a part of the fabric of the Word of God. The Scriptures are filled with lament. Every major biblical character, from Abraham to Paul, is heard praying their protests to God and sorrowing for their sin by means of lament.

The complaints are eerily similar throughout the chorus: “Why do You hide Your face from me?” “Where are You, O Lord?” “If You really love me with an everlasting love (hesed), then why am I sick, why do my enemies triumph over me, why am I forsaken, what am I to do with my sin?”

Depending on which commentary you pick up, you’ll read that from one-third to over one-half of the psalms are laments. With the exception of one psalm (88), each lament turns eventually into praise, revealing an important truth that has been lost; lament is one of the most direct paths to the true praise we know we have lost.

“There is an appointed time for everything…a time to weep.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4)

Page 22

“Our inability or refusal to enter into personal lament betrays the fact that we do not recognize the depth of our sin. We stubbornly refuse to have our hearts broken by it. The only result is that our sins continue to break the heart of God. It is only after lamenting our sin that our eyes can be truly open to the glorious truth that we stand forgiven, with the righteousness of Christ, and realize that we are in the Presence of the One who has heard our cries with tender and sympathetic ears.

Apart from lament, you and I are robbed of our true identity before God. We remain unaware of the depth of our fallen identities as sinners and blind to the reality and depth of the costly forgiveness that is offered to us through Jesus Christ.

The laments of Scripture can help us relearn this lost language. Characters like Job, David, Jeremiah, and even Jesus provide us with paradigms of lament.

This book is simply an attempt to look at their lives and listen to their laments. This is not a book about some new way to get what we want from God. Rather, it is a biblical exploration of the spiritual lives of broken men who gave up all they ever wanted to discover what it was that God wanted most to give.”

“The truth is that there are such things as Christian tears, and too few of us ever weep them.”  (John R. W. Stott)

“Entrust the past to God’s mercy, the present to His love, and the future to His providence.” (St. Augustine, from Confessions)

Selah.

P.S. A personal note about the format of my blog…

Some may wonder why it is so often filled with quotes from other Christian leaders and writers – both past and present. I realize that most blogs are filled with original thoughts (or mostly original) written by the blogger in their desire to help us understand God’s Word better. My reason for quoting others (rather than primarily writing my own thoughts) is simply because I truly do not believe that I have much of anything original worth sharing – that hasn’t been said better by others that have gone before me. But I do find great help and encouragement from very gifted pastors and leaders throughout church history whom God has used to help “explain” and“expound” God’s holy Word. Ultimately, only God’s Word is divinely inspired and fully trustworthy. Pastors’ sermons, articles, blogs and books are simply their attempt to help all of us understand better, and apply more deeplyGod’s timeless Word.

 

Quit the Sweatshop Religion Game

My question for you today is simply this:

Do you really (really?) believe that Jesus “paid it all”…and that you now (as a believer in Jesus Christ) stand before Him totally and completely forgiven and clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ?

Here’s an excellent post I came across from Pastor Justin Buzzard on the “gospel of grace and sweatshop religion.”

The gospel of grace is the end of all sweatshop religion. We are saved by Jesus’ sweat and blood, not our own.

I think the existence of sweatshop religion can only be attributed to Satan, the Enemy of God and grace. Somehow Satan has so deceived the world that most people confuse Christianity with a sweatshop: sweating and laboring in cramped, love-less conditions in order to make a buck.

Read the Bible or hear the true gospel preached and you discover that Christianity is actually the announcement that the sweatshop is closed! God has fixed our greatest problem for us. The Son of God lived, sweat, and worked for us. Jesus did the labor that we could never do: performing perfectly for God. And along with his perfect life, his perfect performance, Jesus received the punishment we all deserve.

Instead of pridefully and sheepishly trying to make up for our very imperfect lives in the sweatshop, we are free to exit the building. Listen closely and you’ll hear the announcement made from Calvary 2,000 years ago: “It is finished!” The sweatshop is closed!

Sinner, quit the sweatshop. Your sins are forgiven. There’s a new life waiting for you.

In case you still have doubts, I challenge you to ponder deeply the following Scripture verses…

“…but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God.” (Hebrews 10:13 NASB)

“…He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:12 NASB)

“…having forgiven us all our transgressions, having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13b-14 NASB)

“…and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.” (Philippians 3:9 NASB)

“…to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us.” (Ephesians 1:6-8a NASB)

“When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30 NASB)

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

THAT… is the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Selah!

To Quote: Trusting God’s Goodness in the Midst of Suffering

“For I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18 NIV84)

“When we allow God to be exalted in our difficulties we are in the perfect place to smell the fragrance of His Presence.” (A.W. Tozer)

“God is in the business of turning rough coals into diamonds through pressure. When we suffer, it is a God-given opportunity to become more like the One who suffered most.” (Randy Alcorn)

“God’s promises are like the stars; the darker the night, the brighter they shine.”(David Nicholas)

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” (Corrie ten Boom)

“Is there nothing to sing about today? Then borrow a song from tomorrow; sing of what is yet to be. Is this world dreary? Then think of the next.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

“Do not be anxious about what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.” (St. Francis de Sales)

“Christ followers contract malaria, bury children, and battle addictions, and as a result, face fears. It’s not the absence of storms that sets us apart. It’s whom we discover in the storm: an unstirred Christ.” (Max Lucado)

“There is an old proverb which says, ‘Never cross a bridge before you come to it.’ How many Christians are filled with sorrow on account of imaginary troubles! Many timid Christians have a trouble manufactory in their own houses; they sit from morning to night endeavoring to make trouble for themselves. We have quite enough real trials to bear; and if we make any more of our own, we have no promise that God will give us grace to bear our self-made sorrows. How unwise are those people who crowd a whole year’s troubles into a single day!” (C.H. Spurgeon)

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet ourinner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NASB)

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 89:31, 37-39 ESV)

“God writes with a pen that never blots, speaks with a tongue that never slips, acts with a hand that never fails.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

Selah!

P.S. Here are a few scanned pages from the NASB Bible that I used from 1975 to 1985. As you can see, these verses on “the goodness of God” in the midst of suffering ministered to me deeply. Also, I share these with you simply to encourage you to mark up your Bible – the notes and markings will reassure and strengthen your heart as you journey through life.

Psalm 27:13-14 (NASB)

Psalm 73:23-28 (NASB)

 

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