Archives For restoration

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image credit: ESPN

 

Lance Armstrong will announce to the world tonight that he used performance enhancing drugs as part of his run to dominate the cycling world. You may or may not think that cheating at cycling is a big deal. I get it. National exposure for cheating at a niche sport is pretty weird, right? Probably not enough to get national exposure and receive the kind of press that it’s received.Until you consider that Lance is a hero outside of the racing world. See, Lance contracted testicular cancer at age 25. Left untreated, it spread throughout his body, and he had a massive, very public, battle with cancer. Knowing not whether he would live or die, he launched the LiveStrong Foundation, and began advocating and fighting for the life of people stricken with cancer. LiveStrong has done tremendous work in the area of cancer research.

But Lance has learned what many of us have learned. As he covered up his cheating by lying about his steroid use, he had to lie even more. Sin compounded sin compounded sin. The more people he deceived, the more people he had to deceive as he spiraled downward.

Sin loves to hide itself behind layers of more sin.

Lance lied publicly and privately. As people questioned his actions, he went after them, publicly and privately. In the public courts and the courts of public opinion, Lance trampled on people as they called his integrity into question. Threatening phone calls, law suits, and nasty emails were sent to try to “disprove” Lance’s guilt.

The Reaction To Confrontation

Which is no shock to us, right? When you’re called out for something you’ve done, you tend to not react so positively, right?

Sin has a way of masking itself. With masks on top of masks. The deeper you go, the deeper you have to go. The more people you deceive, the more you have to continue to deceive.

In Scripture, King David knew this, too. (see 2 Samuel 11) He saw a beautiful girl, and he wanted her. So he summoned Bathsheba to his quarters, and slept with her. He sent her home, only to soon find out she was pregnant. So to cover up his sin, he decided to pull her husband, Uriah, home from the war. He got Uriah drunk, and urged him to go home and sleep with his wife, hoping to cover up his sin by leading everyone to believe Uriah had gotten Bathsheba pregnant. Sin covering sin.

Uriah didn’t take the bait.

So David had Uriah sent to the front lines of the war so he would be killed. David had Uriah killed to cover his sin.

Adultery, murder, lying and deceit.

You know what broke the cycle? Nathan, the prophet, confronted David on his sin.

David was absolutely broken. He confessed his sin and received forgiveness. He was completely open with God about his rebellion and need for grace. He admitted he’d messed up in a big way. And you know what the crazy thing was? God heard David, answered him, and restored to him joy!

Finding Hope

Maybe you’re on that spiral right now. You’ve messed up, and very few people know. You’ve got your public persona…and your private persona. And you don’t like that. I know you don’t. It’s not making you happy, and you’re scared to death of the consequences that your exposure could bring.

To stop the spiral, you’ve got to take off the mask. Live life freely in transparency, confession, and ample portions of grace. Quit pretending, quit hiding, and quit living life in fear. Quit acting like everything’s ok, because it’s not. God longs to restore joy to you, and free you from the chains that you’ve shackled yourself with.

Sin loves to hide itself behind layers of more sin. And that cycle won’t stop by itself. In fact, If you want to break that cycle, take a cue from David. Then bask in grace, and be quick to give it away.

If you want to have true joy and true freedom, it’s time to be honest.

Was David’s life easier once he confessed? Nope. In fact, he still had a long, hard road ahead. But it was a brighter, more hopful, more full road than the dark path he was sprinting down.

The road to healing isn’t easy. But your moment of exposure and fleeting shame will lead to a lifetime of restoration and love from our Savior.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.

Then I will teach your ways to rebels,

and they will return to you.

Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;

then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.

Unseal my lips, O Lord,

that my mouth may praise you. – Psalm 51:12-15

 

 

 

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Beautiful scars

Ben Reed —  July 16, 2012 — 2 Comments

I tore my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament…in other words, I broke my knee) in high school. As a senior, I had to go to prom and graduation hobbling around on crutches…just how I’d always dreamed.

ACL reconstructive surgery, then 6 more weeks of crutches and therapy later, I’m left with a scar. 3 scars, to be exact. They stand out on my right knee as reminders of that painful injury.

And they’ll never go away.

image credit: CreationSwap User Jaret Benson, edits mine

No matter how much I pray, how much I wish them to, or how much vitamin E oil I put on them, they’re stuck on my knee for good as a permanent testimony and constant reminder of that injury, the surgery, and the pain associated with it all.

The most embarrassing part of the scars, though, isn’t the scars themselves. It’s how I tore my ACL. But that’s another post for another day. :) I just keep telling myself that chicks dig scars. That’s still a thing, right?

Scars of a Different Kind

Lots of us, though, carry scars from different injuries. Scars not from a physical accident, but from pain of a different kind. Pain from broken relationships, broken dreams, unrealized potentials. Some have been the product of our own bad choices. Others have been forced on us without our consent. Our scars remind us constantly that we have been injured, marked, and forever changed. Behind the scars lie the most horrific events in our lives. The scar is the outward-facing result of pain we wish had never happened.

We try to hide those scars, but a pair of pants and a long-sleeved shirt won’t do the trick. So we hide behind beautiful masks, thinking nobody will notice. But they don’t go away, do they? We begin to look at the scars not as battle wounds we can be proud of, but as a mark of disgrace that spreads to the inner fibers of who we are and of the story God has thrust upon us. A reminder that life’s not fair, not easy, and that even our own stories are broken.

A deeper reality

Do you know what scars really represent, though?

Healing.

They represent that an injury is gone. You’re forever marked, but not plagued by a constantly open wound. The wound scabbed over, then scarred. It leaves you looking different, but healed.

Scars represent healing from a traumatic event. They remind us that though life was seemingly unbearable, God has mended the wound, reminding you constantly of the healing that happened.

Look at your scar as a disgrace if you’d like. As an ugly part of you that everybody stares at, questions, and judges you for.

Or embrace that as part of your story. As part of your healing and restoration. As a unique piece of your journey that God intends to use to heal others.

Life-Changing Scars

Scars will change your life, if you’ll let them. It’s someone Else’s scar that will bring you ultimate healing (Isaiah 53:5), and your own scar, as tarnished and sensitive as it may be, that God can use to speak hope into someone else’s. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

Life leaves us with ugly scars that stand out, occasionally still hurt, and attract attention.

But scars are a symbol of healing and the restoration that only God can bring.

 

 

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You can’t see God right now because you don’t want to.

I read 95% non-fiction.  The fiction I read is stuff like The Pilgrim’s Progress.

I know…I’m a nerd.  But I’m a learner (StrengthsFinder confirmed that), and am always looking for some new concept to engage.  Fiction doesn’t necessarily offer something new to learn…it offers a fun experience.  A story that is engaging, funny, or exciting.  And though there are definitely messages and truths to be found in fiction writings, be honest…that’s not why you read them.  You read them because you enjoy getting lost in a good story.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Which is why, throughout the month of December, I decided to put down my nonfiction and pick up a good story.  I’m reading (almost done) through the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan.  Rick is a good storyteller, and I’ve enjoyed reading through the books.

The Mist

In the books, monsters and half-bloods (half-human, half-god) live, work, and fight right among mortals.  There’s a Mist that’s present on Earth (hang with me…I’m going somewhere…it’s fiction, okay?) that causes mortals to see supernatural people and events in a way that is not supernatural…which explains why we never “see” any of these events.  The main character (Percy Jackson) wields his sword and fights with a god in the city of Los Angeles…and the newspapers report that damage has been done by an earthquake.  When he fights 3 demons in a city bus, mortals see something completely different, explaining away what they saw as a natural occurrence.  In another instance, mortals saw a homeless boy that was big and goofy…through the Mist, he was really a Cyclops.

A little silly, yes.  A little childish, maybe.  But there are implications here for us.

We choose the Mist

Because we do the same thing every day.  God is at work all around us.  He’s causing the sun to rise and the rain to fall. (Matthew 5:45)  He’s changing hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26).  He’s turning the hearts of fathers to the hearts of their children. (Malachi 4:6) He’s holding the universe together.  (Colossians 1:17)  He’s healing relationships.  Overcoming fears. (2 Timothy 1:7)  Breaking the bonds of addiction.  Restoring marriages.  Drawing those who are far from Him closer.  Answering our cries for help.

And yet we choose to still ask, “Where’s God?!?”

The reason you can’t see God right now is not because He’s absent. Or abandoned you.  He doesn’t work like that.

The reason you can’t see God right now is because you’ve chosen not to. Even when you’re far from Him.  And your story has taken you off the best path.  And you’ve got more junk in your life than you’d like to admit.

God’s not far away (Acts 17:27).  You’ve just got to look through the Mist.

Have you seen God working lately?

Have you ever chosen to not see what He’s doing?

 

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