Glory the work of suffering. How evil’s wounds become victory’s scars.

I work at being a writer. I practice each day and read the works of others and study the craft and have a curious mind when it comes to words and the working out of language. But within my old school pen or modern age laptop there is not any magical power or tendency within the equipment to ‘write’. They are only tools and cannot labor by themselves without the writer taking them up to work. The tools do not create or produce even a letter without being taken in hand.

So if glory is the work of suffering, is there any merit in affliction, sufferings and troubles?

Does God barter eternal glory for a toothache, family troubles, poverty, lack, widowhood, old age? We dismiss that immediately if we know even the beginning truths of God’s plan of redemption that Jesus is the only way to eternal life. God does not invest affliction with any degree of merit and certainly no ‘magic’ power to earn glory. Affliction works for us like my laptop and my pen. There is no merit in the keys that type the letter. The merit is in the hand of him that strikes the keys into an order. The efficacy lies in the strength and skill of the writer.

Have you recently had a severe family trouble? There is a saying, “A mother is only as happy as their saddest child.” We suffer with our children maybe more than they suffer. But have you been able to weigh the Lord’s dealings with you? Have you seen the effect of those trials upon your soul and what spiritual profit have you reaped? Can you find in these troubles any fruits of the spirit?

No. Huh? There’s not a greater love when you are in lack? A kinder heart when you’re being slandered? A greater patience in that third round of chemo? A stellar self-control that pushes aside even a snarl as you deal with back pain?

Then you are more like me and ‘woe, is me’ when suffering starts. We can find ourselves blowing up balloons of self-pity and having a woe-is-me party before we even see how we’re responding. If you’re critical of that then beware the seat of scoffers.

Trials test us.

They prove out what is real in us and sometimes the first fruits are spoiled, rotten. In the prequel to The Glory series, you’ll see this illustrated—Honey Cooper, a faithful cowboy, acts more like a rank bull when his world gets rocked. Believers don’t allows act out what we believe.

Often our flesh rises up and acts out first when we encounter suffering.

Afflictions can bring out rebellion, peevishness, fretfulness, self-pity, unbelief and even despair. Troubles can cause a tantrum that would put a two year old to shame. Most of us are not sanctified enough to say at the start of suffering, “This is my comfort in my affliction, for your word has quickened me;” or, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn your statutes?”

Our initial response can often be immature, but God. But. God. Works in us. His hand is upon the spade turning over the dirt and the typewriter keys guiding our story. Spirit fills us when we are upon the floor in an exhausted heap from our tantrum and words become prayer, supplication, confession, desires. Our first whispered, “Help me, God,” begins our cooperation for this sanctifying suffering working to make us more like Christ.

Our heart, too often, is so full of the world that there is in it little room for Christ until He himself drives out the intruders and prunes away the rabbit trail branches that lead to comfortable fruitless lives.

Affliction in his hands, and especially spiritual affliction, convinces us of the sin and emptiness of loving the world. It embitters us to its temptations and loosens our heartstrings to its pleasures.

We don’t understand the power sin exercises in our carnal mind. What strongholds it builds. We are blind to its destructive fruit. What a need there is for a fierce, furious love of God to go to war in our behalf against an enemy we often ignore and disregard or even flirt with. Christ is a jealous dominate lover of our souls. He will tolerate no rivals.  We are fools to think Him mean. Harsh. Uncaring. Strict. Or worse, far away. He is with us. Here. In this suffering, trouble, affliction, mess. And he is working. Working. That’s the key action.

I AM is working.

He is God and He is a hater of sin and a lover of His own. And He, is working in us. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:10)

We need His discipline to teach us the folly of our ways and assure us that nothing, nothing, nothing save Christ is eternal. We need his corrections to convince us that abiding and thriving is the holy way to glory not sufficiency and striving. We need Him. This Jesus. With his scarred hands, evil’s wounds now victories scars. What love is this? That God would show us how to suffer well.  What hope is this? That the cross, a torturous death device, worked out our salvation. What faith is this? That we are promised a result from affliction; Glory.

And as God is the saints’ glory so they are His. Glory. It is all His.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Cor 4:17-18

Want to learn more, read The Glory Series, parables about God’s glory expressed in contemporary fiction.

Glory is the extraordinary, mind-blowing weightiness of God’s presence as He brings to light & manifests all the goodness that He has & is.

 

God’s people need lifting up. Psalm 28

God’s people need lifting up.

Our thoughts are double minded.  Our souls are restless. Our pasts bear regrets.  Our burdens are heavy. Our battles long.  Our character weak.  Our faith subjective. Our judgment fierce. Our hearts grow cold. God’s people need lifting up.

David understood this as a man and a king. In Psalm 28 he writes, “The LORD is their strength, and He is the saving strength of his anointed. Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up forever.”

David taught us first we need to seek God personally – “Unto Thee, O God, do I lift up my soul.”

His Psalms taught us to pray for 5 things for ourselves:

Ps 143 – When I find myself in battle- Revive me

Cause me to remember what God has done in the past. Help me to know I can fight one more day if you wake me in the morning with the counsel of your loving, living voice.  God will deliver and hide us, teach us and show us the way. Where he leads we can follow for the Lord quickens His servants.

Ps 35 – When I need assurance- Reassure me

When I am under persecution, say unto my soul, “I am your salvation.”  Let me hear you say “I’ll save you.”  And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in my salvation.

PS 25 – When I am uncertain- Give me Hope

I lift up my soul to your counsel, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.  To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God. No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame.

PS 86 – When I am poor and needy- Give me joy

Because of who you are God, forgiving and good, abounding in love, none is like you, O Lord, For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God. Great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave, a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, merciful, imparter of strength, help and comfort.  You train me and teach me, put me together to be one heart and mind-undivided. What love! Knowing You I am filled with joy.

PS 141 –  When I need protection-Give me faith

I lift up my hands to worship you and call on you for help. Guard my mouth and heart from wickedness. Let me be indifferent towards everything accept your will for me. Set me straight through correction. Threats come but let me fix my eyes on you, O Sovereign LORD. I take refuge that you control all things and take good care of me. Keep me safe from traps and let me pass by safely.

PS 23 – When I am dumber than a sheep- Shepherd me

Lift them up is translated in the NIV, “be their shepherd and carry them forever” To lift God’s people up is to shepherd us forever.  If we are the Good Shepherd’s sheep “I shall not want” for the Shepherd feds and leads us. If we wander, he seeks us.  If we’re scared, he goes first.  He’s with us, even in the darkest moments and when we look back, we see it was only “goodness and mercy”. Our shepherd will never lead us where He cannot care for us.

As a King David also knew there were 3 ways God’s people need to be lifted up:

Living in this world but not of this world, God’s people need to be elevated in character.

More than 3000 times a day the world will try to convince you to follow its ways, put yourself first, gratify your lust, exchange a counterfeit for the truth and take a short cut. We need to be lifted up. Past our disciplined obedience that too often arm-wrestles with ourselves, out of the muck of our shame that never forgives ourselves and get down wind of the stink of our self-righteousness and be lifted up and empowered by God’s Holy Spirit.

We need to be lifted up to love God enough to obey not because we’re afraid of the consequences but because we love God.  We. Love. God.  And devotion requires our faithfulness to his instructions.

Moreover, God’s people need to be prospered in conflict.

When the battle comes, and it will hit you right between the eyes in your mind, we need to be lifted up out of the deception of our senses to remember the truth.  If we forget our helmet, drop our shield, put our barefoot in our big mouth and the combat boot of our enemy is upon our chicken necks, help us grasp hold of the sword of the spirit and speak Your words even if the only thing we can say is, “the Lord is my shepherd” let it be a battle cry.  Lord, lift up your children’s spirits in the day of persecution when our feelings get hurt help us not to fret or worse take vengeance but lift us up on the high road our savior walked of love.  When we hear bad news of cancer or chronic, suffer not the adversary to vex us to despair but lift us up in our weakness to experience Your supernatural strength. When we battle the mysteries of depression, the dark pits of failure, the heartbreak of betrayal, lift up your people’s voices to worship You who both gives and takes away. And if we are called on to die for our faith, may we rally beneath the banner of love that the martyr’s wave from Jordan’s shore and be lifted up by a measure of grace to endure any and all that is temporary for the eternal glory.

Finally, God’s people will be lifted up at last.

God will lift us up eternally. He will lift us up by taking us to a place prepared for us. A place that no eye has seen and no mind can imagine.  A place of glory without sin or its nature. He will lift us up and take us home.  He will lift up these worn out bodies from the grave and raise them to be imperishable.  At last, He will sweep our souls at once to his bosom and embrace us up to glory.

Lift us up. Lift our eyes up to fix on you. Lift our souls up to love you. Lift our prayers up to worship you.

Lift us up be our shepherd and carry us forever.

 

I wrote this after talking to someone about The Fury series.
I talked with God about why I’m writing, what we’re after in this partnership of story telling and the conclusion was again, to tell the truth in love. Reviewers agree that I am sometimes intense and might not be for readers who are looking for the classic sweet Christian story where characters do everything right. Apologetically my style is to write it real—meaning closer to real life, tackling issues with universal importance in a God honoring way. My characters will never be perfect but they will proclaim to you the love, grace and mercy of a perfect God. When I’m told my writing is intense, it makes me smile- I want to be branded as a Christian writer that writes it real not sweet. Labels like “raw and compelling” also reinforce that I’m finding my audience.  I’ve also been told the Fury is inspiring and that makes me lift my hands and give God the glory.  I held the pen and God directed the strokes.  I believe what we were both after is to communicate how much God loves us. We just can’t hear it said enough.

Here are some answers to a few questions I’ve been getting about Book One Eros.

Your new book is so intense. Why?

I like the ‘what if’ question it wakes me up – God’s people get complacent, we like our comfort zones, we need to be woken up and prepared to put into practice what we know.

But it’s horrible what happens (to Jaclyn) and the bad guy is…really evil.

Evil tends to be really bad- God’s people need to be reminded we have a savior and He came because we’re in a situation and need to be rescued.

But the spiritual battles are really raw and despite the story world, real.

I’m a teacher at heart and the spiritual armor of God (Eph 6) is subtly applied layer by layer throughout the conflict.  It’s the standard tell them, show them, let them, coach them strategy I learned in Christian leadership. We wash, rinse, repeat until we remember how to fight along with the characters.

But this book sounds edgy and I’m looking for a love story

You’ve found one, I wrote the Fury Series to remember that I am loved by God so much that Christ stopped at nothing to save me.  The hero in this story is outstanding, you’ll fall fast for the Fury. Promise.

But I’m not sure I can handle the evil element…I don’t like spooky/scary/suffering

Neither do I, the story isn’t about the details of abuse or the dementedness of an abuser but the battle to be free and believe in the power of God no matter where that battle might take place.  This story is for the captive but it is also for those that answer the call and come to bring the good news of freedom.

My prayer is that you are lifted up by this story.

Read the reviews on The Fury Series

http://www.amazon.com/FURY-Book-Eros-Fury-Series-ebook/product-reviews/B00OWPYUVY

The FURY Series by J.L. Kelly. An Intense Epic Where Two Worlds Collide.
The FURY Series by J.L. Kelly.
An Intense Epic Where Two Worlds Collide.