114. “The Insanity Of God: A True Story Of Faith Resurrected” By Nik Ripken

114. ” . . . Dmitry repeated his intention. ‘Bring it tomorrow, and I will sign it.’ That very night he sat on his jail cell bed. He was in deep despair grieving the fact that he had given up. At that same moment, a thousand kilometers away, his family, his wife and his children who were growing up without him and his brother, since through the Holy Spirit had sensed the despair of this man. His loved ones gathered around the very place where I (Nik) was sitting. Miraculously the Holy Spirit of the living God allowed Dmitry to hear the voices of his loved ones as they prayed. . . .” ~ Nik Ripken

“Dmitri’s Song (Jesus Is Alive)” ~ Todd Smith

Sorry for this post being late due to Weather Conditions of Where I Live – 58. ” Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates The Claims Of The Gospels” By J. Warner Wallace

58. “SHUNNING THE TRUTH: There are many possible reasons why people deny or shut the truth. Not all reasons are based on evidence. Jurors can reject a truth claim for rational, emotional, or volitional reasons. Sometimes jurors have rational doubts that are based on evidence. Perhaps the defense has convinced them an alternative explanation is supported evidentially. . .” ~ J. Warner Wallace

“Why Is Important For A Christian To Select A Good Jury?” ~ J. Warner Wallace

113. “The Insanity Of God: A True Story Of Faith Resurrected” By Nik Ripken


113. ” . . . We will prepare your confession tonight and then you will sign it tomorrow, then you will be free to go. After all those years the only thing that he had to do was put his name on a document saying that he not a believer in Jesus and that he was a paid agent of Western government trying to destroy the U.S.S.R. Once he put his signature on the dotted line, he’d be free to go. . . .” ~ Nik Ripken

“Dmitri’s Song (Jesus Is Alive)” ~ Todd Smith

“Spiritual Rhythm: Being With Jesus Every Season Of Your Soul ~ Winter Activities – Prayer” By Mark Buchanan (pgs. 44-47)


WINTER’S WORK

Prayer

The Sons of Korah discover a good work in winter.

I’m back where we started in the last chapter, in Psalm 88, that dispatch from the heart of darkness, that song in the key of desolation. I’m back with those psalmists in the throes of their wintertime, in the grip of their wild harrowing sorrow. They, too, find that their’s work in winter that only winter knows.

It’s prayer.

The psalmist prays like never before. He prays day and night. He cries out, he calls out, he spreads his hands to heaven. Winter tries to bury him, and he keeps on digging his way out.

Prayer is the ongoing work of winter. But this go either way. Wintertime can poison the life of prayer as much as awaken it. It can deaden it, or revive it. Usually, it forces a fluctuation between the two. Cheryl, my wife, illustrates this as much as anyone I know. My wife and Carol, my colleague, did many things together — shopped, watched movies, attended conferences, planned renovations to my house. Mostly, though, they prayed. Theirs was a sisterhood anchored in intercession. So it was natural, as Carol fell ill, for them to pray together for God to do something big, decisive, impressive — to step in and save the day. To heal her. They prayed many other prayers besides that — prayers for family, for friends, for the church, for courage no matter what. But always, they prayed for healing.

The healing never came. There were hopeful turns of events that seemed to bode well — the day, for instance, Carol’s eyesight, damaged from the first surgery, recovered enough that she could drive again. And prayer oftentimes did give them the courage they asked for. They found redemptive, defiant, subversive power of laughter in the face of adversity, and so made jokes of Carol’s baldness, puffiness, her black eye-patch that made her look like a rotund and hairless pirate. Neither the praying nor the laughing staved off the dying. The disease’s retreat was only ever a regrouping, and the next visit to the oncologist always brought troubling, sometimes devastating, news.

A day came when Cheryl had to pray alone. Carol was too bloated, addled, groggy to join her, and besides, she was moved to a hospice in another town. So Cheryl began a journey that was mostly solitary, almost wordless: the groaning Paul describes in Romans 8, where words fail. This is prayer matched to the rhythm and pitch of the entire broken frustrated creation, that song of lament and protest in a minor key, mournful and defiant as the song slaves sing picking cotton or prisoners sing breaking stones.

During this time, Cheryl was part of a prayer team at church. She headed it, in fact. Every Sunday, people came to her for prayer. Many asked for her to pray for strength and faith to cope with Carol’s illness. Some came with illnesses of their own, or on behalf of loved ones struggling with cancer, lupus, renal failure, multiple sclerosis, congestive heart condition, chronic depression, bipolar disorder, and many other strange or common ailments that mess with us. Cheryl prayed, dutifully. But later she confessed how hard it was to pray believing. Her words un her own ears sounded rote, trite, mechanical, and often she fought down an inner voice that mocked her, that told her that this was an exercise in futility, putting band-aids on mortal wounds, singing lullabies to broken hearts, crossing her fingers as the sky falls.

That’s where Psalm 88 helps. In this man’s wintertime, he prays, too, though his capacity to believe is strained almost to extinction. He prays anyhow, and in this way: according to what he knows of God, not what he sees of God. Or put it this way: his praying is anchored in God’s revelation of Himself in Scripture, not in his firsthand experience of God in his daily life. He doesn’t pray because he can taste and see that the Lord is good. He prays in spite of that, contrary to the evidence at hand. What he tastes is bitterness; what he sees is darkness. Circumstances erode his faith rather than buttress it.

So he pushes himself beyond circumstances. He resists the temptation to equate circumstances with God. He prays not because God’s been good to him but God’s Word says God’s good, and he is betting the whole farm on its being so.

That’s Biblical faith. Everything short of this is a hedged bet. Everything short of this faith based on what I can, at least dimly, see. And to the extent I can see, it’s not yet pure faith.

Winter grows pure faith. It grows almost nothing, but it grows Biblical faith like no other season can. It combines unique conditions that nurture the certainty of things hoped for and the assurance of things unseen. It is the season above all seasons when we walk by faith and not by sight. There is no better ground for growing an abiding faith that weathers the worst life can throw at you. In later chapters, we’ll talk about seasons we love, especially summer (go back and read some of the posts I put on this past summer featuring this book). As delightful, as fertile, as summertime in the heart is, it is almost useless for growing faith. It may produce a bounty of joy, vast crops of thanksgiving. But not faith, that fierce, hardy Scotch broom of a thing that clings to rock and ledge, grows in sour places, withstands hurricanes.

Think about this: when you want someone to pray for you, you instinctively seek one who’s endured at least one long, hard, dark winter. Better if it’s been many such winters. You know, even without knowing the details, that such people have deep faith, faith rooted in season and out, in the character of God revealed in the Word of God, not faith subject to whims and moods, or to life’s wheel of fortune, its random sequence of pitfall and windfall.


~ Darren’s Comments ~

If you haven’t been following the TrueLifeChristianity.com blog since at least this past December, I have tried to relate my life with the book Spiritual Rhythm: Being With Jesus Every Season Of Your Soul by Mark Buchanan. Mark begins with the season of winter, all it’s apparent drabness, slowness, coldness and relates it to True Life Christians and what they go through with their soul.

So for all True Life Christians you can relate to what this book has to say. In the season of everyone’s hearts winter, sometimes it can be slow and hard and cold where your heart is prone to depression, this is the book that allowed me to clarify God’s purpose in my life and maybe your too. I don’t plan on rehashing the first part of my major testimony in the miracle God is performing in my life, although you have to take a long view of miracles because it didn’t happen instantaneously. So, I urge you to go back and read the section of Spiritual Rhythm, as I relate my life to this book.

Praying is the subject I want to tackle in the section of Winter Activities in the book since I did do a lot of praying when I was in this particular part of my life, when I realized this situation was real and not a dream or nightmare that seem to last days on end. Once I realized in that moment that I was going to have to rely on God through everything, that’s when my prayer life took on a deeper level. For the Apostle Paul says:

See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 5:15‭-‬19 ESV

This many years after turning 18 (freshly becoming an official adult in the U.S.A.), I received an unwanted post-birthday present-the car accident), I, on occasion, still have trouble giving complete thanks and rejoicing always for that situation because of the things it left me with (slowness in everything I do, a physical limp, expressive aphasia, etc). However, I can effectively say that I pray without ceasing since I don’t want to quench the Holy Spirit and continue to do so. In fact, at times, most of the time, I can say that I am happy that I went through that horrifying, almost death-inducing car accident in which I went through months of in-patient and outpatient rehabilitation which incurred many different therapies.

In that season of winter, I discovered a closeness with God through prayer that I will never let go, in season and out: winter, spring, summer, and fall. You can to don’t let a tragedy like the one I had to speak to you about closeness with God, but take on the same attitude that the Apostle Paul had when he wrote the Philippians saying:

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own.

Philippians 3:8‭-‬12 ESV

I feel confident in saying this: You cannot go through life not being affected by tragedy, but one of my favorite verses comes from the wisest man who lived in his time or ever, Solomon:

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 18:24 ESV

Take this wisdom and impart it to you and others.

Mark Buchanan Explains His Book: “Spiritual Rhythm: Being With Jesus Every Season Of Your Soul”

~ Darren L. Beattie, The Soul Blogger

112. “The Insanity Of God: A True Story Of Faith Resurrected” By Nik Ripken

112. ” . . .This went on: year after year after year. His guards tried to make him stop. The authorities did unspeakable things to his family. At one point, they led him to believe that his wife had been murdered and that his children had been taken by the state. They taunted him cruelly. ‘We have ruined your home, your family is gone.’ Dmitri’s resolve finally broke. He told God that he could not take any more. He admitted to his guards, ‘You win! I will sign any confession that you want me to sign! I must get out of here and go find where my children are!’ . . .” ~ Nik Ripken

“Dmitri’s Song (Jesus Is Alive)

57. “Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates The Claims Of The Gospels” By J. Warner Wallace

57. ” . . . There are, according to the ruling of the court, reasonable  doubts, possible  doubts, and imaginary  doubts. The definition acknowledges something important. Every case has unanswered questions that go unanswered. There are, according to the court, reasonable doubts, possible  doubts, and imaginary doubts. The definition acknowledges something important. Every case has unanswered questions that will cause jurors to wonder. All the jurors will have doubts when coming to a decision. We will never remove any possible uncertainty. That’s why the standard is not beyond any doubt. . . .” ~ J. Warner Wallace

“God’s Not Dead: Court Scene Defending Jesus”

111. “The Insanity Of God: A True Story Of Faith Resurrected” By Nik Ripken

111. “. . . There was another discipline too. Another custom that Dmitry told me about. Whenever he’d find a scrap of paper in the prison, he would sneak it back to his cell, there he would pull out a stub of a pencil or a tiny piece of charcoal that he had saved, and he would write on that scrap of paper as tiny as he could all the Bible verses, scriptural stories orsongs that he could remember. . . .” ~ Nik Ripken

“Dmitri’s Song ( Jesus Is Alive)” ~ Todd Smith

“Spiritual Rhythm: Being With Jesus Every Season Of Your Soul ~ Winter Activities”  (Part 1- pgs. 42-44) By Mark Buchanan

The strangest thing happened this winter: it snowed and snowed, weeks on end. I hadn’t seen snow like that since my childhood. Temperatures dipped well beneath freezing. Icicles hung from the eaves of my house; they started no bigger than hairpins, but grew as thick and as long as stalactites, as menacing as scimitars. The roof got to snow-laden I feared its collapse, and every day sometimes several times a day, I had to shovel my driveway. Mountainous piles accumulated at the edge of my yard. My street narrowed to a single lane, a trench gouged out by snow trucks. Cars navigated down it slowly and cautiously, tires often gnashing and spinning.

This isn’t supposed to happen, not where I live. The paper from Victoria, daily, emblazoned startled and startling news about another record broken, and some days it didn’t come at all — the paper, that is — because of those record-breaking conditions.

Christmas Eve the sky opened up like an ancient sorrow and let loose a blizzard that didn’t let up till early morning. The snow was so deep and heavy that my makeshift carport, constructed from metal poles and heavy tarps and lashed down with an elaborate spiderweb of rope, collapsed. I discovered it Christmas morning when I let the dog out. The mangled structure trapped my car beneath it. It took me two hours to dig the car out, banged up like someone had pounded one side with a truncheon. The damage was almost artistic, the top of car door’s rim fluted the way my mother used to pinch the edge of a pie crust. The car’s side mirror had snapped clean off at the neck but still hung on, skewed and drooping, dangling by its adjustment cables.

All this surprised me with an insight I already had, except I hadn’t paid close enough attention to it: winter imposes work. There are certain kinds of labor, and certain kinds of play, only possible or required in winter.

During those days when the snow kept accumulating, when the sky was a blur of white and the ground a sea of it, I had to shovel for the sake of sheer survival. My driveway is short and steep: it climbs a height of over a run of thirty-five feet, a pitch of 7:1, which makes it equivalent to a gabbled roof, a billy goats bluff, a sudden escarpment. The thinnest veneer of ice makes ascent a carnival of antics — spinning wheels, fishtails, abrupt rocketing. Anything more means we’re homebound. I had to stayon top of work to keep up with it all. Whenever three or four inches accumulated, I bundled up again, brave the blizzard (usually with my trusty dog lolloping through the deepening banks with a kind of drunken abandon), and hunkered down to task. I developed a rhythm akin to rowing: push, scoop, lift, fling. After clearing the ground, I filled a plastic bucket with coarse salt and scattered it like an ancient farmer sewing barley seeds, broadcasting it side to side as I took long strides up and down the driveway. Grains of salt pocked the crusts of ice until they became filigree that I scraped off with my shovel blade tipped upside down.

My muscles, not used to this combination of demands, ached for the first few days. Truth is, I resented the labor. Each time I time I cleared the driveway it took close to an hour.  It consumed time I might have spent doing other things. I went to the task muttering, returned from it relieved, and also a tad sore at thosewho sat by the fire while I toiled in the storm. They were lucky to have me. They were lucky I didn’t perishin the wilds. Maybe, in their self-absorption, they wouldn’t have known my abscence till morning. Then, alarmed and duly smitten, they’d send out a search party that, hours later, would discover my carcass, rigid with death and ice, ashen with cold, buried beneath a layer of snow so thick I barely left a bump on its surface.

But soon I got to enjoy it. The work, I mean. I relished when the snow reached that magic depth that warranted another round of push, scoop, lift, fling. My body adapted admirably to its new role. I’d come back in the house steaming like a horse. The labor, its vigor and purpose, shook me from the lethargy induced by idleness. I felt that God, for a spell, had granted me an urgent and necessary work, one with measurable results. I even bought winter boots, manly clodhoppers with knobby threads, zippers and laces and flaps, and steel toes, just in case. I had, briefly, joined the ranks of farmers and carpenters and lightbulb makers, people whose efforts we rarely stop to appreciate but which, should they cease, we’d suffer for the want of.

For the record, I don’t always feel this way about my day job.

Now, mid-January, my world has resumed the winter I’m accustomed to — drab, cool, wet, grey. All that remains of the mountainous snow piles are ridges of dirty slush. Bundling up means putting a windbreaker over my sweater. Winter footwear means I lace up my runners than slip on my loafers, and I’ve resumed wearing only slippers for my little jaunts to the curb, to take the garbage out or let the dog do his business.

It’s all rather depressing.

I’d forgotten winter calls forth deep and almost dormant reserves of manliness, or at least fortitude (to which no gender lays special claim). There’s work in winter only winter knows. (And play in winter that only winter knows, but more of that later.) It’s hard work, and good, and needed, and restoring in its own way.

~ Darren’s Comments ~

Do you remember a few years ago, when in New England if not then New Hampshire, we had a cold spell where the weather was bitterly cold for three weeks, end on end. In fact, were considered blessed if the temperature was anymore than 5 degrees faranheit since it was hovering around below 0 for those three weeks. It extended past Christmas and New Years. And while most of the other houses had ran out of fuel to heat their houses, our little miracle was that we didn’t run out of fuel until the below 0 weather stopped. I called the company that delivers our propane, and they said it would take a few days because they were so backed up because the number of houses that were in need of fuel were astronomical. I smiled thinking God even watches over how much fuel we have.

Or this one winter, my wife prayed for snow and heaps of snow piled up that season for at least two or three times a weak. The reason why my wife prayed for snow is because we had little of it, except an occassional storm or two that would give us at the most 8-9 inches per year. She was hoping that we would have a nice winter season with plenty of snow that it doesn’t get washed away by some rain storm that would happen less than a week after the storm left. Well, her prayers got answered with one to two snow snowstorms a week for that particular winter. I remember early on in that winter I asked her not to pray for snow again. Instantly, she knew how powerful is the prayer of the righteous as she leans on Christ’s righteousness.

Yes, those two winters were different but each had its defining quality: they were hard on the body. One winter that was the longest stretch of frigid below 0 weather; the other endless snow. However, during each of those two winters, I started to complain and at times I was wondering if my family would miss me if I was gone frozen into a popsicle stick with my properly gloved hands behind a one-stage snowblower that took me almost two to three hours to clear going out there two or three times to make a pathway to the house — all around the house.

As harrowing as those two winters were, those two winters have nothing compared to the winter of the heart I did experience shortly after my 18th birthday (JUNE 28, 1989). Although it was in the beginning of summer it was the start of a long, rough winter which has shaped the rest of my life. I still have residual effects: I limp when I walk, my fullest sprint is like a regular man’s jog, I have speech or expressive aphasia (which is frustrating beyond belief), I talk slower so that makes a majority of people think that I am slow in the head not that I have a post-graduate degree, etc. However, I take that since God said through the writing of the Apostle Paul that “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)” and a verse that I found (even though I listened to/read the Bible in various translations) was coming from the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2:21 which says, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, LEAVING YOU AN EXAMPLE, so that you might follow in His steps” (ESV).

“Now, mid-January, my world has resumed the winter I’m accustomed to — drab, cool, wet, grey. All that remains of the mountainous snow piles are ridges of dirty slush. Bundling up means putting a windbreaker over my sweater. Winter footwear means I lace up my runners than slip on my loafers, and I’ve resumed wearing only slippers for my little jaunts to the curb, to take the garbage out or let the dog do his business” (“Spiritual Rhythm,” pg. 44). The major effects upon my life has been done at the young age of 18. If I could, I’d probably go back and change some of the foolish decisions I made leading up to the car accident. Yet, would I? Seemingly, it would have made my physical life a whole lot easier, but there is some wisdom in what I’m about to share with you: don’t look at hard times as the thing you must endure, rather look on those hard times as an opportunity for you to get closer with God. Remember, it was the Holy Spirit that led Jesus into the desert to be tempted (Matthew 4:1-12), so that means in order to get closer to God you have to be tempted and go through rough times, even unto physical death if you want to stand up for His name.

Finally, to tell you how much I suffer since my major car accident would not do the word justice any good. In fact, many of you who are reading this have many stories of the like although in many different scenarios, ages, situations, etc. . . The common denominator is hurt. This one question remains: How could a good God work through so much hurt and pain? The answer is simple: Christ bore it all for us so that in His death He put those situations to death. Christ is the ultimate reconciler because He went through it first. The rough childhood, the rape, the molestation, the feeling of being jipped, anything that you have gone through, like my car accident. That is why I could do nothing without My Saviour. He’s there through the thick and thin of it, whatever your “it” might be.

“How Do You Measure Your Spiritual Growth?” ~ Mark Buchanan

~ Darren L. Beattie, The Soul Blogger ~

“The Insanity Of God: A True Story Of Faith Resurrected” By Nik Ripken ~ Quote 110


110. “. . . The reaction of the other prisoners was predictable. Dmitry recounted the laughter, the cursing, the jeers. The other prisoners banged metal cups against iron bars in angry protest. They threw food and sometimes human waste to try to shut him up and extnguish the only true light shining in that dark place every morning at dawn. . . .” ~ Nik Ripken

“Dmitri’s Song (Jesus Is Alive) ~ Todd Smith

“Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates The Claims Of The Gospels” By J. Warner Wallace

56. “. . . In legal terms, the line that has to be crossed before someone that something is evidentially true is called the standard of proof (SOP). The SOP varies depending on the case under consideration. The most rigorous of these criteria is beyond a reasonable doubt that is required at criminal trials. But how do we know that you’ve crossed the line? The courts have considered this important issue and have provided us a definition. ‘Reasonable doubt is defined as follows: It is not a near possible doubt because everything related to human affairs is open to some possible or imaginary doubt. It is that state of the case which after the entire comparison of all the evidence leaves the jurors in that condition they feel an abiding conviction of the truth of the charge. The definition is important because it recognizes the difference between reasonable and poseible . . .” ~ J. Warner Wallace

“Why Is it Important For Christians To Understand The Difference Between Possible and Reasonable Doubt” ~ J. Warner Wallace