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Jesus-style Ministry is Ministry to the Broken

20140708-072915-26955869.jpgJesus didn’t come to make healthy people feel better about themselves. He came for the sick. He came for the broken. He came for those who could acknowledge their need for deep, soul healing. And he almost got killed for doing so.

The first time Jesus revisited his hometown of Nazareth after having been baptized, he went to the synagogue to participate in Sabbath worship. Young man would often participate in the service by reading from the Scriptures. So someone handed Jesus the scroll that contained Isaiah 61 and Jesus proclaimed,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, j To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord .” …

Luke 4:18-19 NKJV

And then he announced that his public ministry would begin on this platform. He had come to be the anointed one, and his particular ministry would be one of healing the broken. The people of Jesus’s hometown hated that idea so much, they almost stoned him to death for saying it. Perhaps they were just zealously protecting the synagogue against blasphemy. After all, Jesus was basically proclaiming himself as Messiah.

Or perhaps, they didn’t want to face the brutal truth of their own brokenness as well as the deep need for their synagogue to approach ministry to their community differently. One of the hardest things for us to do is to face the deep reality of our sin and need for repentance. We prefer to preach prettier doctrines. But real ministry is ministry to the broken.

Real ministry isn’t easy. It requires us getting real about our own sin, responding with the work of repentance, and becoming completely humble before God. But if you want smile of God on a ministry, and the blessings of God on the work of the church, you must absolutely tackle the most difficult ministry of all – the ministry of the healing of the soul.

Can You Just Heal My Boy?

Boy“I begged your disciples to cast out the spirit, but they couldn’t do it.” (Luke 9:40 NLT)

The disciples had plenty of great experiences to boast about. They were in the inner circle. They had been hanging out with one of Israel’s most popular rabbis. But on this day, they were powerless. They had religious solutions to offer, but this man wanted just one simple thing… “Can you just heal my boy?”

Sometimes we have a ton of great answers to offer, but no one is asking the right questions. Broken people are the worst. They never quite understand the importance of our religious ceremonies, liturgies, and traditions. They don’t seem to care about our denominational structures, our political schemes, and our battles over buildings and secondary doctrines.

Instead, they have the nerve to ask questions about their enormous, real life struggles. From their point of pain, they seem to ignore our list of programs and ask questions like… Can you heal my boy? Can you help my marriage? Can you help me stop looking at pornography? Can you help me find forgiveness for my abuser?

Maybe we should start answering different questions.

Photo By Christian Haugen

How to Fix Broken Relationships

BrokenContext: The following are my notes for a message to the men gathering for Saddleback’s Herd Saturday, which is why it’s a message directed primarily at men.

Two Things Men Do Well

We’ve been raising both a daughter and a son. I’ve watched my daughter grow from a baby to an eight year old. She has an amazing imagination. She writes, draws, paints, and builds things. Now I’m watching my son grow up and he just turned one year old. I’ve already noticed a significant difference between the two of them. While Ella is being artistic and imaginative, Sam is breaking stuff! He’s a one-baby wrecking crew. He climbs, he knocks things down. He screams at the dog for no reason. He isn’t mean, he’s just… industrious.

Watching them reminds me of the two things that men, in particular, do well.

  1. We have a knack for breaking stuff.
  2. We balance it with a knack for fixing stuff.

This includes relationships. We have a tendency to break relationships too. Sometimes it’s our selfishness and other times it’s our insensitivity. Either way, we have a tendency to wreck friendships and marriages. We’re sinful men, so we often hurt people.

I believe firmly, however, that we’re also good at fixing broken relationships too. We just don’t realize it often enough.

James knew about our tendency to wreck things – not with our hands, but with our words. He wrote about it in chapter three of his general letter. He opens up by reminding us of just how much damage we can do with our tongues. We can set the world on fire, burn down relationships, and destroy people’s lives with our words.

By the way, have you "liked" Grace Hills Church on Facebook yet?

Then James turns his attention to the tactics necessary for fixing and rebuilding peace in a broken relationship. In [youversion]James 3:17-18[/youversion], he mentions seven tools and attitudes we ought to have toward those with whom we’ve wrecked things.

Seven Tools For Fixing Broken Relationships

  1. We need to be pure, especially in our motive to restore broken lives.
  2. We need to be peace-seeking rather than imperialistic. It’s not about conquering, it’s about reconciling.
  3. We need to be gentle, which doesn’t mean weak. It simply means to be under control in our approach.
  4. We need to be willing to yield – to give the right-of-way to the other person.
  5. We need to be full of mercy, which is more than forgiveness, it’s the ability to offer something that either isn’t deserved or can’t be repaid.
  6. We need to be full of good deeds – the actions that demonstrate the value we place on making peace.
  7. We need to be sincere – brutally honest, with ourselves and others.

It’s Time to Get Proactive

These things aren’t easy to do. They’re all tough. We want to lash out. We want to take back lost territory, establish our dominance, and fight for our right to be right. But a wise person once said, “You can be right, or you can be married.”

James dangles before us a prize – a reward if we’ll put aside self and put in the time necessary to cultivate peace and healing in our broken relationships. This is a Bible principle. We typically won’t change because of anything in the past, but the future motivates us. This is why the Bible leans so heavily on our future reward as motivation for living life well.

Here’s the bottom line – if you’ve hurt someone or a vital relationship is damaged, you probably already know what you need to do. It’s just a matter of putting in the time and going through the tough stuff so that you can reap the reward of a restored relationship and blessing. Are you willing to do what you know you need to do today?

photo source: purplegecko

Easter Means Healing Now, Hope Forever

Let me focus in for a moment on Simon Peter, one of the key disciples surrounding Jesus. You may know the story by heart in which Peter asserted that He would never dessert the Lord Jesus, to which Jesus replied, “Before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.” Sure enough, Peter forsook his allegiance to the Lord Jesus and denied Him, even cursing, to distance Himself from the cross.

For Peter, the story didn’t end there. There was a time of restoration and healing. Two elements would dominate Peter’s life for the rest of his existence. First, healing now. Second, hope forever!

Let’s listen to the heart of one man who was radically changed by the first Easter… one man who would never be the same again…

[Read more…]

I Believe In Divine Healing

Olive Oil and VinegarWhen W. A. Criswell was asked, “Do you believe in divine healing?” his response was simply, “Is there any other kind?” I love that! James 5 contains a passage of Scripture that addresses prayer. It’s often misunderstood, but if we grasp its meaning, we’ll unlock some amazing truths that will mature us in our prayer life.

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. [Read more…]