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September 2022


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“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)

We know God heals the brokenhearted, but who are these brokenhearted people God heals, and how does He heal them? defines “brokenhearted” as: “burdened with great sorrow, grief or disappointment”.  Our culture often connects this with romantic break-ups or the loss of close family and friendships, and God can certainly bring comfort to His people in those situations. (Matthew 5:4)

Scripture also speaks of “a broken and contrite heart” – a person who has become humbly repentant before the Lord after being convicted in their heart of pride and sin. (Psalm 51:17) God’s forgiveness of our sins through Christ can provide great comfort as He creates in us a “clean heart” and “right spirit”, restoring the joy of our salvation. (Psalm 51:1-12)

When Psalms 34 and 147 speak of the brokenhearted, however, I believe God is looking beyond those who mourn or repent. The Hebrew word used for “broken” (“shabar”) can mean “shattered” or “crippled”. The Hebrew word used for “heart” (“leb”) refers not just to emotions but to the mind and will – what we call the inner man or inner woman. 

In short, I believe these psalms reveal God’s desire to heal the crippled soul.

Our families, neighborhoods, and congregations include many people, young and old, who have been deeply traumatized, particularly in their childhood. Some were abandoned. Many were sexually or physically abused. Even more were verbally abused – living proof that the nursery rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me”, is a lie of the devil.  

As a result, these people struggle every day with various levels of anxiety, depression, anger, bitterness, isolation, guilt, shame, and low self-esteem.

Other children, even if not the victims of overt abuse, wrongly learned from their parents or other caregivers that you are supposed to earn love and acceptance. When they did well, they received approval, but when they made a mistake, they received condemnation or rejection. This eventually leads to the assumption that if things go wrong, it must be because you did wrong. As a result, these people struggle with fear of failure and rejection. They often become people-pleasers or perfectionists, which can disguise their pain and fear. 

God designed human beings with three basic needs: the need to belong (love), the need to feel safe (peace), and the need to know your life has value and significance (purpose). Those crippled in soul are challenged in one or more of these areas. Yet most of them will not seek healing.

When our body is crippled by injury or disease, we do not hesitate to seek help. But when we are crippled in soul, the opposite occurs. We fear the stigma of mental illness. We fear people in our churches will think we lack faith. So, we keep telling people we are fine when we really are not fine at all   

Those who do seek help from secular sources will primarily receive medication, which may help you cope but will never heal you. The fortunate ones get the benefit of empathic counselors, particularly with approaches in cognitive behavioral therapy that seek to change how you think about life, situations, and yourself. But it is difficult for secular therapists to help you take those changes in thinking to the deeper levels below your rational mind – to your memories and subconscious where the pain is rooted. You need the power of God to do that.

How does God heal the brokenhearted? Through biblically grounded Christian counselors (pastoral or clinical), loving Christian community, the experience of God’s presence, and the power of prayer, the Lord can:

1. Plant hope in your heart that you can be healed. This is where it begins.

2. Guide you through forgiveness ministry so you are free from anger, bitterness, guilt, and shame. This includes forgiveness of yourself.

3. Convince you in the depths of your being that you are incredibly loved and valued by God. The truth sets you free, and His perfect love casts out all fear! (John 8:32; 1 John 4:18)

4. Impart His eternal perspective into your memories so the power of the hurts fades away, leaving behind redemptive gifts of wisdom, humility, and empathy for others.

5. Deliver you from any demonic oppression that is aggravating your pain and obstructing your efforts to heal.

6. Set you on the path to the wonderful hope and future He has for you as His child. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Healing in part can come quickly, like surgery, even though healing in whole will usually require a time of rehabilitation. Our Lord can heal the brokenhearted if they will respond to His invitation: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

God bless you, and God bless our community


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“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:8)

John 15 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. It is the source of the name my beloved Christie and I gave to our ministry: Friends of the King Ministries. (vs. 12-16) Even more important, it sets forth the all-important parable of the vine and the branches. (vs. 1-8) 

I picture Jesus leading His disciples from the Upper Room to the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal. As they walk through the Kidron Valley, He points to the vineyards around them as an illustration of how they and we must serve Him after His ascension to heaven. Like branches attached to the vine, He expects us to bear fruit for His Kingdom. To do that, we must abide in Him as He abides in us. Apart from Him, we accomplish nothing.

This parable is well-known to most Christians even though we may differ in our understanding of exactly how we “abide” in Jesus. The Greek word used for “abide” is meno, meaning to remain, stay, abide, or dwell. Through the Holy Spirit, our Lord Jesus Christ abides in us. (John 16:13-16; Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 6:17) To live fruitful Christian lives, we must avoid bouncing back and forth between occasional focus on Christ, focus on the world, and focus on our “flesh”. (Galatians 5:16-25; 1 John 2:15-17) Instead, we must stay focused on the Lord, His presence within us, and His will for our lives.

All of us struggle to stay constantly aware of Jesus throughout the day even though that would be a wonderful way to live. I believe those who struggle most are professing Christians who fail to understand how important it is for them to “bear fruit” for Christ. In the parable, Jesus stated this is how you prove you are His disciple and how you bring glory to our heavenly Father. (v. 8) Left unstated by Jesus was a truth His original disciples knew well already. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit apart from the vine, so a vine without branches does not bear fruit at all! 

God can do anything without help, but God chose to give stewardship of the earth to mankind and has never withdrawn that assignment. (Genesis 1:26-31; Psalm 8:3-8, 115:16) So God will always work with us, but rarely without us. We are all gifted and called. (1 Corinthians 12:4-27) The Vine needs His branches just as the Head needs His Body. (Ephesians 1:22-23) The purpose of what we have traditionally called church ministry – worship services, Sunday schools, and bible studies – is to equip all Christians for the real work of ministry in this broken world. (Ephesians 4:11-16) 

Our fruit is the witness of our lives every day by word and deed to the love, truth, faithfulness, grace and power of our heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ, who brought us out of darkness and into His Kingdom of light. (Acts 1:8; Colossians 1:12; 1 Peter 2:9) We love our neighbor and everyone God loves. (Matthew 5:43-48) We serve God and others, treating others like we wish to be treated. (John 13:1-17; Matthew 7:12) We are a house of continuous prayer. (Isaiah 56:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:17) 

Although not saved by works, we are saved for good works (good fruit), so our fruit has the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Ephesians 2:8-10; Luke 6:43-49; Galatians 5:22-23) The bad fruit of sexual immorality, hatred, strife, fits of anger, divisiveness, and self-centered ambition do not grow on God’s Vine. (Galatians 5:19-21) 

The vital importance of branches bearing “much fruit” for our Lord is underscored by our heavenly Father’s role as the Vinedresser. (vs. 1-2) I believe we are now living in a season of His pruning and removal of branches so His true Church can shine brightly amidst the increasing darkness. (Isaiah 60:1-3) 

Despite biblical commands to the contrary, many people are choosing long-term to forego the gathering of God’s people in favor of broadcast services or nothing at all. (Hebrews 10:24-25)   A great many local churches are shrinking or closing, and denominations are both shrinking and dividing.  

Some view these developments as a time of spiritual defeat, but what I see is a divine shaking (Hebrews 12:26-29), a refiner’s fire (Malachi 3:2-3), a sifting of wheat from chaff (Luke 3:17), and, in the language of John 15, the hand of the Vinedresser pruning and removing whatever holds back the glorious fruitfulness Christ wants His Body to have. 

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, be a branch that abides in the Vine and bears much fruit to the glory of God! The Vine and the Vinedresser are counting on you.

God bless you, and God bless our community.