Brokenness to Beauty

Transforming Your Brokenness into a Beautiful Life


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Back to Blogging

After four months away from blogging, I’m back and hope to stay here posting more often.  In May, you could say I was thrown a curveball, health-wise, by an exacerbation (a big word for worsening) of the MG (myasthenia gravis). I was out of commission for several weeks as a result.

Thank God, my strength is nearly back to where it was before the curveball hit me and knocked me down.

As I cried out to him with this new hit to my health, the Lord brought this verse to mind, “Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken” (Psalm 55:22 NASB).

I especially like the note in my Bible indicating the word “burden” can mean, “what he has given you.”

“What God has given me.” That put a completely new spin on the idea of a burden. Somehow, as bad as the burden might be, knowing God has given this burden to me for this time, and knowing God, it is for a reason, gives me hope. Even when I don’t know that reason or how long the ordeal.

How is that I have hope? My hope is rooted in the character of God, not circumstances.  I know God is compassionate and gracious, full of lovingkindness and truth (Exodus 34:6), and is righteous in all he does (Psalm 145:17).

And not only do I know it in my head from reading the words of Scripture. I have experienced God’s compassion and grace, his lovingkindness and truth and faithfulness. This experiential knowledge is part of me now.

 

Even when I cried out, “Why is this happening, God?” he reminded me to throw this curveball back to him.  Knowing that he wants me to give it back to him also gives me hope. I have confidence that “what God has given me” is not for my destruction but for my growth in grace, and God, who gave the burden, will hold me together and not allow me to be shaken to pieces (Colossians 1:17) for I belong to him by faith in Jesus Christ. I will not destruct, because his gracious hand is holding me (Psalm 37:24). Peace follows from the decision to trust God and throw the burden back onto him.

I cannot have hope and peace and confidence if I refuse to throw that burden back onto the Lord, if I turn my questions into a rant and accusation against God that refuses to remember all the goodness of the Lord poured out on my life.

I’m not referring here to an honest pouring out of your heart to God as you wrestle with the real circumstances you find yourself in. The psalmists did that all the time. But they came with humble hearts as well to the God they knew they could trust, even when it felt like he was absent.

I’m talking about continuing to accuse God and harden my heart. If I harden myself to his kindness, I may very well become so brittle that I will be shaken into a thousand pieces. I may very well self-destruct.

I do not want to go there. Ever. From that place, it is a hard, long road to get back to where I should be. And I don’t have to go there, I don’t even have to carry that heavy burden. God will.

If we give the burden back to him.

When we do our part of that verse (cast our cares on God), he does his part (keeps us together, keeps us from falling apart). I can attest to the truth of that.

This hope and peace God gives are available to anyone who will humbly come to Jesus, embrace the truth that God cares for us enough to carry our burden, and throw their burden on the Lord in the midst of their suffering. Hope and peace are there for us because God is faithful to do his part, holding us up and keeping us from falling apart.

Now, because of his goodness and faithfulness keeping me from being shaken to pieces, I am back at the keyboard creating blog posts.

What is threatening to shake your world? Be encouraged to trust in the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord in the midst of it.

 

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Photo by Liane Metzler on Unsplash

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Living Like You’re Dead

I’ve had a blog post rattling around in my mind for several days, yet unwritten. Then I read Bills’ post this afternoon. It is so true and powerful, I had to share it with you. Bill always teaches and challenges me. I hope you will feel the same way after you read this post, take to heart what he says, and implement what is needed to rise to the challenge of God’s Word spoken by our brother Bill.

Unshakable Hope

The title of this blog might seem like an oxymoron, but I hope to convince you otherwise.

I have come close to death several times even before ALS entered my life 21 years ago. With each brush with death, the more I am able to identify with death and eternity and live my life accordingly.

You might think that viewing my life as having one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel would be a depressing way to live, but I’ve discovered just the opposite; it’s a very liberating way to live, at least, from a Christian point of view. I think it’s also the viewpoint that Christ intended us to have.

In the days leading up to Christmas every year, Mary and I always watch “It’saWonderfulLife” and the 1951 version (the best version) of “AChristmasCarol.” After…

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Thanks-living

Unshakable Hope

Even though I cannot eat (by mouth) anymore, I still love the Thanksgiving Holiday. (I no longer have to worry about that gluttony thing).

Over my 21 year journey with this horrible disease called ALS, I’ve become a more grateful person. I also seem to notice ingratitude in myself and in others more than I did before ALS entered my life.

Through my observations, I’ve concluded that ungratefulness and unhappiness go hand-in-hand. Think about it, have you ever known a happy ingrate? Yeah, neither have I.

The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” – Henry Ward Beecher

The Bible doesn’t tell us to be happy, which leads me to believe that not even God could teach happiness. However, the Bible repeatedly tell us to be thankful:

“...let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts…

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The Man In The Mirror

In Lesson 2 of The Bible Study Guide I write:
“We learn about God and his ways by reading Scripture day after day, year after year, relying on God’s Spirit to teach us spiritual truths, as 1 Corinthians 2:10–13 states.
When our reading of and obedience to Scripture is combined with teaching by God’s Spirit, we are strengthened to endure and to persevere through the difficulties of life, whether our difficulties be small or great.”
I recently read a post by Bill on his blog “Unshakable Hope,” which vividly and poignantly captures thoughts on the question of “Who am I becoming?” as I look into the mirror.
I can see the changes physically when I look in the mirror in the bathroom. What about the changes, and those that need to take place, when I look into the mirror of God’s Word? Who am I becoming?
Read James 1:21-25, quoted here from The Living Bible:
So get rid of all that is wrong in your life, both inside and outside, and humbly be glad for the wonderful message we have received, for it is able to save our souls as it takes hold of our hearts.
22 And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to. So don’t fool yourselves. 23 For if a person just listens and doesn’t obey, he is like a man looking at his face in a mirror; 24 as soon as he walks away, he can’t see himself anymore or remember what he looks like. 25 But if anyone keeps looking steadily into God’s law for free men, he will not only remember it but he will do what it says, and God will greatly bless him in everything he does.
I’m reblogging Bill’s post, “The Man in the Mirror,” in the hope that you will be as challenged as I was by what Bill writes. I listen to what Bill has to say because he is living proof of the truth of God’s word. He is living out our unshakable hope in Jesus Christ.
Read his post and see why I say those things.
After you’ve read Bill’s post, I encourage you to leave him a reply, then come back to my blog ,brokennesstobeauty.wordpress.com , and leave me a note. I’d like to hear from you. What did you get from Bill’s blog post?
“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you,
with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another … “ (Colossians 3:16)

(Reblogged from “The Man in the Mirror,” posted August 3, 2017, on Bill’s blog “Unshakable Hope,” https://unshakablehope.wordpress.com/author/bsweeney60/ )

Unshakable Hope

Can you imagine going a whole month without seeing yourself in a mirror?

If you’re a follower of my blog, you know that I’ve had ALS for almost 21 years, and that I’m totally paralyzed and home-bound. In addition to an excellent nurse visiting me once a month to confirm that I’m still alive, a very nice lady also comes to our home once a month to cut my hair. She came the other day to cut my hair so Mary maneuvered my wheelchair into the bathroom in front of the dreaded mirror (mirrors don’t lie). “Who is that guy with gray hair and big bags under his eyes?” I asked myself.

You see, unless I ask Mary or my caregiver to place me in front of the mirror, which, for obvious reasons, I rarely do, haircut time is the only time I have to face this 56 year old…

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Encounters Along the Path

I met Ethel[1] on the bike path again today. We walk early in the morning to avoid the southern California heat, and sometimes encounter one another. Ethel is a woman of God. I’m always happy to see her.

This morning we talked about our mutual concern for the homeless men and women we see on the streets around our homes. We’ve both said, “Lord, what can I do? What would You have me do?” Ethel is a woman of prayer, and a woman of action in obedience to the Lord. I’m convicted and encouraged by her.

Colton Avenue biking-walking path

 

As we walked and talked, Ethel and I were surprised to discover we both have concern for the same homeless man. At different times, independent of one another, we have seen him sitting outside a small church building along our walking route. His name is Tommy[2]. I know this because every Thursday morning Tommy attends the same Bible study at church that I attend.

One day, not long after I started attending the Bible study, Tommy walked into the building, backpack in hand, and asked if he could join us. Our group, used to homeless men and women around our church, welcomed him into the Bible study.

Every week Tommy gets his cup of coffee, opens his Bible and appears to follow along. He contributes to the discussion at times. But Tommy’s mind lives in a parallel universe; his comments make no sense to the rest of us. We listen politely and try to respond as best we can.

I began praying that God heal Tommy’s mind. I pray for him the same as I pray that God heal the bodies of those who are sick or injured. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. Those works are at the root of all that has gone wrong with us spiritually and physically; mind and body and soul.

The New Testament gospels overflow with demonstrations of the destruction of the works of the devil by Jesus and his apostles as they taught the gospel of the Kingdom of God, healed and cast out demons. The final blow to the devil was Jesus’ death and resurrection. The major battle has been won.

Now we are in the mopping up period after that decisive battle; we live in the age of the Acts of the Holy Spirit. Since God the Father gave Jesus all power and authority, Jesus has commanded us, his followers, to continue his works in his world. He gave us his Spirit to do these works.

Ethel and I know God is at work, and we get to be part of it. When two people independently have burdens for the same person, are praying for him, and reaching out to him, you know God is up to something.

God wants to reach, redeem and restore Tommy.

Will you join us in seeing the Kingdom of God come to life within Tommy?

[1] Her real name, with her permission to use it.

[2] Not his real name.


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Don’t go out undressed

 The following is reposted from

 A CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW OF FICTION

A LOOK AT FICTION AND OTHER BITS OF CULTURE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE BIBLE

a blog written by Rebecca LuElla Miller.

Her post, titled “Combating Satan,” was so convicting and right on I wanted to share it with you. I keyed in on what she said about most people stopping too soon when they talk about the Armor of God, as listed in Ephesians 6. I’ve noticed the same thing. We certainly want our bodies to be fully clothed when we leave the house. How much more do we need to be fully outfitted spiritually, wherever we are.

Combating Satan

 

Scripture, of course, is the only reliable source of information on the subject of combating Satan. In Ephesians the Apostle Paul names the armor we need for the battle we’re engaged in “against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12b).

 

I’ve most often heard the armor identified as the list in verses 14-17: truth, righteousness, the “preparation of the gospel of peace,” faith, salvation, and the word of God. Each of those elements Paul aligns with physical armor of his day.

Too often that’s where we stop since the metaphor stops, but Paul went on to name another vital element we need in our battle against the schemes of the devil—prayer.

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (Eph 6:18-20)

Pray for all saints. Pray for those who are charged with proclaiming the gospel.

Years ago when I wrote a series of posts about Satan, I couldn’t help but think about C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters. This little book contains supposed letters of instruction from an under-secretary of a department in Satan’s organization to his nephew Wormwood, a junior tempter. At one point he gives his thoughts about rendering prayer ineffective:

 

The best thing, where it is possible, is to keep the patient from the serious intention of praying altogether … If this fails you must fall back on a subtler misdirection of his intention. Whenever they are attending to the Enemy Himself we are defeated, but there are ways of preventing them from doing so. The simplest is to turn their gaze away from Him towards themselves. Keep them watching their own minds and trying to produce feelings there by actions of their own wills. When they meant to ask Him for charity, let them, instead, start trying to manufacture charitable feelings for themselves and not notice that this is what they are doing. (pp. 33-34)

Screwtape goes on to say that should “the Enemy” defeat Wormwood’s first attempt at misdirection, all is not lost. He can still disrupt “his patient’s” prayer by getting him to pray to a “composite object” constructed from images of “the Enemy” during the Incarnation and images associated with the other two Persons, coupled with the patient’s own reverenced objects: “Whatever the nature of the composite object, you must keep him praying to it—to the thing that he has made, not to the Person who has made him” (p. 35).

It seems to me this “keep them from praying” strategy might be all too real. How many churches dropped their prayer meetings? How many Christians dropped their family prayer times, their before-meal thanks, their individual quiet times?

And when we do pray, how much of our time is filled with requests rather than praise and thanksgiving … or confession? How many of our requests are for ourselves rather than intercession for all the saints and for those who preach the word of God? When we intercede for others, how much of our prayer is for what’s happening physically rather than for what’s happening spiritually?

Lest you wonder, I’m feeling quite convicted.

This post is a revised version of one that first appeared here in June 2019.

https://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/author/rebeccaluellamiller/

 


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Brokenness

I began today preparing to write Lesson 10, the last lesson of the Bible study I’m writing for my book, Brokenness to Beauty. Lesson 10 covers the last three chapters of the book. To me this is the most powerful and important section for in it I talk about the great question of all time: why am I here? (And it’s companion question: how can I live with suffering?)
Then this morning I read another blogger’s post that my friend emailed me. I’m glad she shared this post because the writer speaks to a couple of important matters I discuss in my book: understanding (or not) all God is doing through our suffering, and how we are to live with suffering. These issues raise huge question marks in our minds when all we can feel is our own pain. But there are answers. Please read the following blog post and think about Katy’s conclusions. And pray for me as I write Lesson 10: our reason for living, especially when we are suffering.

Journey with Katy

I have found great freedom lately in coming to the awareness that I do not have to understand God to know Him. In fact, knowing Him helps bring understanding, but understanding is not essential to knowing and living in relationship with Him. If I had waited to understand my husband,Stan, before I married him, I would still be unmarried. Of course, understanding helps with knowledge but it is not a necessity to entering into relationship, or, may I add, staying in relationship.

Jesus didn’t explain His love He demonstrated it. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)”Certainly this is true with the mystery of suffering. Rather than giving us a book of answers to the question of why we suffer, He shows us by suffering Himself for my sake!

this-is-my-bodyLast week while taking communion at church I…

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