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Author Archives: wheelsms

How does Jesus meet our needs?

I have made the statement on many occasions in my preaching and my prayers that God meets us right at our point of need. It is one of my foundational convictions and tends to creep into what I say on various occasions.

If you were to ask, “How does he do that? Give me an example.” I would point you to the gospel of John. Seven times in that gospel, Jesus makes the statement, “I am . . .” Through these statements, Jesus reveals his identity and purpose in coming to earth. In so doing, I believe that Jesus meets us at our point of need. He addresses seven basic needs of each and every person on planet earth.

Each one of us longs for satisfaction. In John 6:35, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” Hunger and thirst are two of the most basic needs of life. They reveal a desire for satisfaction and contentment. As the bread of life, Jesus satisfies the deepest desires of our hearts.

Many times throughout our lives, we need guidance and direction. In John 8:12, “Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” When the power goes out, we look for candles or flashlights to lead us to safety. Children want a light to lead them to mom & dad. As the light of the world, Jesus leads us out of the darkness and guides us to safety.

John 10:7–9 reveals another aspect of Jesus’ identity. “So Jesus again said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.’” A door keeps out the bad people—the thieves and robbers. It makes us feel secure. But it also opens to a place where we can rest and relax. As the door, Jesus brings us into a place of rest, safety, and provision.

In John 10:11–14, Jesus meets our need for belonging. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.” Jesus is more than a hired hand who takes care of people. As the good shepherd, Jesus knows our name and our needs. He builds a relationship with us. He treats us as part of his family.

John 11:25 addresses the question of whether there is hope beyond the grave. “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.’” As the resurrection and the life, Jesus assures us that heaven awaits for those who believe in Christ

We live in a world of multiculturalism, pluralism, and world religions. We are told that truth is what you determine for yourself. Every belief is of equal value. We are left confused and wondering. In John 14:6, Jesus addresses our need for certainty. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” As the way, the truth, and the life, Jesus gives us a sense of certainty in an age of perplexity.

At times, we may feel like our lives and careers are going nowhere. We feel as if we are spinning our wheels. In John 15:5, Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” As the vine, Jesus produces fruit in us if we stay connected to him. Jesus will give our lives purpose and meaning.

During the holiday season, our eyes are drawn to scenes of the nativity; to the babe lying in a manger. This year, let your heart come closer. Draw near to the One who says “I Am the Bread of Life, the Light, the Door, the Good Shepherd, the Resurrection, the Way, and the Vine”.

If you are . . .

  • Hungry, yet longing for something to truly satisfy.
  • Lost and alone in the dark, searching for answers and guidance.
  • Feeling insecure and defenseless, or searching for security and protection that will be there when you need it.
  • Feel like you don’t belong, and are searching for a sense of family and relationship.
  • Long for the assurance that there is more to life than just this—that there is life beyond the grave.
  • Confused by so many different beliefs and options, and are searching for certainty in an age of perplexity.
  • Wondering if you matter and if your life will make a difference, longing for a sense of significance and a source of fruitfulness.

. . . then come to Jesus. He will sooth your fears and satisfy the deepest longings of your heart.

 

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2017 in Bible Study, Gospel of John, Personal growth, Scripture

 

Recovering from setbacks

Three steps forward, two steps back. Progress and regress. Small steps and setbacks. Whichever descriptive phrase you pick, it seems to describe my recovery process.

My physical therapist has praised my recovery progress. She has seen the change in the few weeks she has worked with me. She has me doing gentle stretching exercises and other activities to get my muscles moving. The biggest challenge is trying to raise my foot to get it on the first step of our stairway. Due to the swelling in my thigh, calf, and foot, the leg is quite heavy. When I started, I could barely get my foot off the ground. Now, I can get my big toe almost on the step. One small step.

Two weeks ago, the therapist expressed concern the swelling had not gone down appreciably. She called the surgeon’s office who scheduled an ultrasound. They discovered a small blood clot in the calf. Since I was already on a blood thinner, the docs simply had me continue the medication.

This week, a follow up ultrasound discovered that not only had the clot not gone away, it had spread to another vein. (My primary care physician is unsure if they missed it the first time or it expanded.) The doctor changed medication and increased the dosage. He also counseled my therapist to be less aggressive in my therapy. Rather than tackle the stairway, I will spend the weekend doing my stretching exercises and laying down to elevate my foot.

I was either very naïve or overly optimistic when I thought I would be healed and back to preaching by the six-week mark. Needless to say, I found this setback discouraging. While I am making progress, it’s much slower than I anticipated. While my healing is progressing, the snail’s pace is wearying.

I am fortunate to be part of a team that is saving me from myself. I would have pushed myself to be preaching this weekend. I would have done it, and paid the price many times over since I am not yet physically able to stand or sit for any length of time without becoming uncomfortable. The elders wisely counseled me to wait until January to resume preaching. We have an associate who is preaching in my absence. Many have encouraged me and given me permission to heal. I still struggle to give myself that same permission.

I am doing ministry. I met with the elders last night. I attended the Awana Christmas party this week. I am involved in staff issues, mentoring, and offering advice on various ministries. I am just not yet physically able to preach yet.

Once again, I have to trust that God is in control of the details of my life, including the length of time it takes for my leg to heal. I need to rest and wait on him.

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2017 in Personal growth

 

Stuck in the waiting room

It seems like I am trapped in the waiting room. Like my friend Calvin observed, time tends to stand still.

One friend suggested I do a study of the concept of waiting in Scripture. Unbeknownst to her, I actually wrote and published an article on the subject in the early 90’s.

Her suggestion prompted me to go back and reread it. Now, I just need to believe what I believe.

 
 
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Be amazed and wonder

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2017 in Quotes, Tim Challies

 

The Statute of Limitations on Sin

With each passing day, more and more accusations come out about past indiscretions. Sexual misconduct. Terrorism. Conspiracy. Bribery. Doping accusations. PEDs. Fake news.

The headlines prompted me to wonder, What is the statute of limitations on sin? Is there anything in my background I need to be afraid of? Any skeletons in my closet that I should fear coming to light?

I am not perfect by any means. Never was. Never will be. There are certainly things in my past that might cause me to be embarrassed, but nothing that would bring an indictment. That being said, that doesn’t mean I don’t experience false guilt at times. At times like this, I need to be reminded of what Scripture tells me about forgiveness.

If I confess my sins, God promises to forgive me (1 John 1:9). He buries my sin in the deepest part of the sea (Micah 7:19). He removes my sin from his presence, as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). God chooses to forget my sins and will not remember them (Isaiah 43:25). I am totally and completely forgiven.

Even though I know this to be true, the enemy still accuses me and heaps false guilt on me. He whispers, “Who do you think you are? Don’t you remember that you did _______?” He stands before God and condemns me for my sins. But when that happens, Jesus comes before the Father as my defense lawyer and says, “Father, I died for those sins, and Mark has already confessed them.” (1 John 2:1-2).

While the world may have a long memory and bring up my past failures, God has a short memory when it comes to confessed sin. He chooses to no longer remember what Christ has forgiven. Jesus reminds the Father that his death covered my sins.

Thank you Lord for dismissing the statute of limitations on confessed sin.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2017 in 1 John, Scripture, Theology

 

Wheeler Family 2017 Newsletter

Here’s the highlights of 2017 for our family. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or your favorite soft drink and enjoy.

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2017 in Family & Friends, Photos

 

Good news for the rest of us

Book Review: Blessed are the Misfits: Great News for Believers who are Introverts, Spiritual Strugglers, or Just Feel Like They’re Missing Something, by Brant Hansen

Christian books tend to be written by megachurch pastors, people with an outstanding testimony, those who have overcome great odds to become wildly successful, and others who have a riveting story to share. While we encouraged and entertained by these books, many times we walk away wondering why we don’t have a similar story to tell.

Author and radio host Brant Hansen has written a book for those of us who feel like we don’t fit in. We wonder why we still struggle with sin, why we aren’t passionate about our faith, why we struggle to tell others we are Christians, and why we feel like we are missing the key ingredient for a victorious faith. The author writes from his own experience of being an introvert and an “Aspie” (he was diagnosed with Asperger’s on the Autism Spectrum Disorder scale).

The book addresses topics such as if we don’t feel God’s presence, what to do when we don’t like talking to people let alone sharing our faith with them, and the struggle to pray. Written from the context of the author’s own struggles, the book is very personal and real. While I wouldn’t say it is the most encouraging and uplifting book, it is one which is very honest. It will encourage you to embrace both who you are and how good God is.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2017 in Books