We are excited to announce some new features to the blogsite. As more and more readers are viewing from foreign countries we have added the translate feature to the site. Our readers can also now choose to have the blog emailed to them, and they can search the blog by keywords on various topics. We hope that this makes the site more manageable for you. God Bless.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Cup Overflows

Part 1

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”
Psalm 23:5

Psalm 23 is a picture of a life submitted to God and to His care. David uses the imagery of a cup overflowing to describe a life brimming over with spiritual fullness. When I hear this passage I am reminded of the wonderful song written by Richard Blanshard entitled “Fill My Cup, Lord”:

Fill my cup Lord,
I lift it up, Lord!
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul;
Bread of heaven, Feed me till I want no more
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole!

But what exactly does God desire to fill our cup with? And is “fullness” really the objective? It made me begin to contemplate if we should be happy being full or if we should be striving to be overflowing? Having a “full” cup is a wonderful thing. Many people, however, feel limited on how much they can receive due to boundaries placed on them by the size of their container. They rationalize that in order to receive more from God they have to enlarge their capacity to receive, by acquiring a larger glass. Eventually, however, we are still limited in what we can receive because we are nonetheless confined to the boundaries placed on us by our new container. An example of such thinking is found in Luke 12: 16-19:

“The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and goods. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’

He had barns filled with grain and other commodities! But once He was full, his ability to receive was limited by the boundaries placed on him by his containers. So he decided to tear them down and build bigger barns in order to enlarge his capacity to receive. This displeased God:

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God.”
Luke 12:20-21

Enlarging our “capacity” to receive was never God’s intention! God’s desire for us is to live a life of “overflow.”

Pastor Scott Burr

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Heal the Wound, Leave the Scar

(Part 2)

“But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, declares the Lord.”

Jeremiah 30:17

In the culture that we live in, we don’t see scars as a sign of triumph over adversity. Instead, they are seen as marks of imperfection. We are embarrassed by them and try everything to cover them up. We see them as reminders of the wound. A wound we very much want to forget. For this reason, many people never really heal. In a roundabout way, they believe that if they don’t heal, they won’t scar. We want God to heal the wound without leaving any evidence that we were ever injured. If we cannot heal without a scar then many choose to live with an open wound.

An open wound is a wound that we experience the pain of everyday. It must be agitated daily as the wound is packed and dressed. The healing is hindered as the wound is forced to stay open. However, a wound that stays open too long becomes susceptible to infection. Spiritually speaking, an open wound that does not heal is vulnerable to unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred and depression. That is why Jesus declared in Luke 4 these words from the Prophet Isaiah:

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.”

Jesus declared that He was sent not just to comfort us in our time of need, but to heal our wounds…to bind us up. Many of you have been wounded or have been left with some pretty ugly scars. You may feel like Jesus, in that your “visage”- your reputation, dreams, and aspirations have been marred. You think, how can God use me now? Will anyone every trust me again? Will anyone ever accept me again? Will anyone ever love me again? The answer is….Yes!

There is a beautiful song by the group Point of Grace entitled “Heal the Wound”. The lyrics of the chorus of the song are this:

Heal the wound but leave the scar
A reminder of how merciful you are
I am broken, torn apart
Take the pieces of this heart
And heal the wound but leave the scar

Scars are a sign of God’s mercy and goodness towards us. How He walked with us through some of the most difficult times of our lives. Let’s face it, the more battles we face the greater the potential to be wounded. Even so, we can take comfort in these words recorded for us in Isaiah 53:5:

“But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by His wounds we are healed.”

Lord, heal the wound, but leave the scar.

Pastor Scott Burr

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Heal the Wound, Leave the Scar

(Part 1)

“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”
John 20:19-20

Many words could be used to describe Jesus’ disciples as they huddled together, behind closed doors, after Christ’s crucifixion…words like hurting, distressed, disillusioned, discouraged and wounded. The man that they had put their hope, trust and future in had been nailed to a cross. They were helpless to do anything but watch as the Roman soldiers pierce His side, sealing His fate, as the blood and water flowed. He was later removed from the cross and placed in a borrowed tomb…along with their dreams, hopes and aspirations.

Of course, the good news is that He didn’t stay there! After three days God quickened Him by the Holy Spirit and Jesus rose from the grave. He then came to those who were hurting, distressed, disillusioned, discouraged and wounded and spoke peace to them. The shepherd had returned to the sheep and the sheep knew His voice. However, Jesus did not stop there. He moved into the midst of them and showed them His hands and side.

There on His hands and side were the scars that identified Him as the one who was nailed to the cross and was pierced in His side. Although He had been healed and resurrected, He still bore in His body the scars of His affliction. Scars are caused by traumatic events. Isaiah the prophet described the brutality of Christ’s crucifixion this way:

“Just as there were many who were appalled at him, his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form (visage) marred beyond human likeness.”

Isaiah 52:14

It is these scars that Jesus chose to use to identify Himself to His disciples. He could have chosen to walk on water, cast out a demon, heal a blind man, raise the dead, or even still the wind and waves. Instead He identified Himself to them by showing them His scars. These scars were not pretty. They did not bring back pleasant memories for Jesus. They were, in fact, evidence that a traumatic event had taken place in His life. They were also evidence that His wounds did not kill him.

You see, there is a difference between a wound and a scar. According to Webster’s Dictionary a wound is defined as: “an injury involving breaking or cutting of bodily tissue. An injury or hurt to feelings or reputation.” Hurt, distress, pain and discouragement are often associated with it. A scar, however, is defined as: “a mark left after the injured tissue is healed.” It is a mark that expresses to others that you survived a traumatic event. A sign that you overcame your affliction. Scars mean that our wounds did not kill us, because scars don’t form unless the wound is healed.

Pastor Scott Burr

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Whitewashed Tombs

“When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised.”
Luke 11:37-38

Probably one of the most frequently heard objections, held by unbelievers, about going to church is that “the church is full of hypocrites.” Unbelievers, from my experience, perceive a hypocrite as being someone who tells you that the lifestyle or things you do are sinful, while struggling with the same things themselves. If that is what it means to be a hypocrite, then the church truly is full of hypocrites!

However, Jesus’ perceived hypocrisy through different lenses:

“Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.”

Luke 11:39

Many people view hypocrisy as pretending to be something that we are not. When in all actuality it is more about concealing something that we are. Jesus uses a parallel passage to drive this point home in Matthew 23:27-28:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and every unclean thing. In the same way you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

Hypocrisy is an attempt to conceal that which is dead inside by making the exterior more attractive. Unfortunately, the beauty of the exterior does not change the absence of life on the inside. A hypocritical spirit develops when we are more concerned about how people see us than we are about the fact that we are full of death and wickedness. Hypocrisy is projecting on the outside to have something that we “know” not to have on the inside. This is not pretending. This is deception!

It is condemning others for refuting the truth, while concealing the fact that we are actively rejecting it in our own lives. However, I am not a hypocrite because I struggle with sin. Let’s say that someone tells you a lie. You confront them about it and explain to them that lying is not the way God intended us to live. Immediately, they say, “Don’t be so hypocritical. Are you going to tell me that you have never lied?” At this point you have done nothing hypocritical. I have simply proclaimed a truth about God and the way He desires us to live. However, if we go on to deny that we have ever lied and work to conceal that fact that we have lied in the past; we will find ourselves moving beyond the truth into hypocrisy. It is not hypocritical to say, “I wanted to talk to you about the lie you told. It isn’t the way that God intended us to live. I know because I struggle with that at times myself.” The fact that I struggle against sin, does not negate the truthfulness of God’s Word. The fact that I don’t always live up to the standards of God’s Word, does not negate the truthfulness of it. Truth is hard to swallow whether is comes from a righteous man or a hypocrite. You may be very transparent with people and they may still reject the truth, but they will likely not reject you, giving you the opportunity to continue to live out your witness before them. Conversely, if you attempt to conceal the fact that you struggle against sin and continue to project a life free from wrongdoing, people will not only reject the truth you bring, but you as well. To them you are nothing but a whitewashed tomb. Yes, you look good from the outside, but you are full of dead men’s bones. Are you in sin? You must take time to deal with it. The shiniest tomb in the graveyard still holds dead men’s bones. Let us confess our sins to God and He promises to cleanse us from all unrighteousness-from the inside out!

Pastor Scott Burr