Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pastoral Ponderings ~ The Inseparable Family of God

          This may sound strange from someone who has witnessed so many families, friends, and churches rejecting each other, but I have a wonderful hope in the inseparable nature of the true family of God. That’s right, no matter how many separations happen on earth, and how painful those separations may be, there is this one, great, over-riding hope, as certain as God himself, that NOTHING “will be able to separate US from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”[1]

          I ended up on this beautiful affirmation as I was meditating on the throne that “stood in heaven”, and the particular focus of, “with one seated on the throne”.[2] Obviously, the kind of person who sits on a throne determines how we feel about his reign. Since it is God who sits on the heavenly throne, all that we know about God is a huge comfort and security for his children, and an insurmountable terror to his enemies.

          With all of this roiling through my mind, I came to Paul’s wonderful declaration to the children of God: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”[3] The point is simple; when we understand that God is the one on the throne, and that there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist,”[4]then there is never going to be one enemy of the church that succeeds against God’s people. There will never be enough enemies of God gathered together to stop God from carrying out his plans and purposes for his children. Revelation shows us beasts, and antichrists, and false prophets, and the red dragon himself, all opposing God, and all failing.

          To help us in our faith, Paul gives us this description of our Savior: Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”[5] Let’s consider these five things about Jesus that give us grace to persevere.

1.       Christ Jesus

          “Christ Jesus” is the one with whom we have to do. This is what sets this apart. It is Jesus, the Son of God who became the Son of Man, who entered time-bound humanity in order to lay down his life to secure an eternal salvation for all who believe in him. We are safe because no one else can compare to him. He is the image of the invisible God,[6] the radiance of God’s glory.[7] There is no one, and no collection of ones, who can successfully stand against him, ever.

2.       the one who died”.

          Look at the One who died, and look at the fact that he DIED. This ONE, DIED. He died my death. He died for me. He died for my sins. God said that if we ate from that tree we would die, and so death was waiting to have its way with me. But Jesus died, and so my death has been taken care of. There is no further punishment on me if Jesus paid the punishment himself. And no enemies of God can erase what Jesus accomplished for me through his death.        

          3. more than that, who was raised”.

          Jesus not only bore our sins on his body on the tree. He not only felt every nuance of sin, death, hell and the grave. He not only felt the magnified ugliness of sin, the curse of sin multiplied by every human being that was chosen by God to be holy and blameless in his sight. But he was victorious over it all in his resurrection. All his enemies will die the second death. Jesus will live forever, and give forever-life to all his brothers.

          4. “who is at the right hand of God”

          The one with whom we have to do, the one who has brought us to himself, the one we are “in”, is Jesus Christ, the glorified Son of God, who is seated at the Father’s right hand. He is in the place of power and authority. He has been given the name that is above every other name:[8] “King of kings and Lord of lords!”[9] He is above everyone else from any place else. He is above any collection of people, any thread of figures weaving themselves into the wicked plans and purposes of the red dragon. Every possible arrangement of people, or collection of powers, is less than the one who is on the throne, and the one who sits at his right hand.

          But there is more!

          5. “who indeed is interceding for us”

          The issue here is simple: what is Jesus doing at the right hand of the Father? Is he still judging and condemning us as sinners? Is he expressing the image-frown of the invisible God’s disappointment in us? Is he saving up condemnation against us, storing up wrath for the day he comes in judgment?

          No, for all who are his, he is indeed interceding for us. He is praying for us. He talks to the Father about us. He pleads the blood he shed as the security of our eternal happiness in his presence. As John wrote: My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”[10] Of course, God is working to free us from sinning. Of course, he gave us the manifold wonder of Scripture so that we could have constant encouragement to stay away from sin.

          However, he also provides for us so that we know what to think when we do sin. If we fall into sin, we look up to Jesus, at the right hand of the Father, and we see our advocate, our mediator, our defense attorney, who speaks to the Father on our behalf. And what he keeps before the Father is his “It is Finished!” Judgment against Monte Vigh is finished. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)

          I would apply this to myself in this way: There is therefore now no condemnation for Monte Vigh because Monte Vigh is in Christ Jesus. There was condemnation for Monte’s sin, but that has all been propitiated[11] through the blood of Jesus Christ so that the wrath of God against my sin is removed forever! The Spirit of life has exercised the very law of God that I live, and has set me free from the law that sought my eternal damnation, the law of sin and death.

          Believers in Jesus Christ are always going to face powerful forces that are against us. Governments will destroy church buildings, burn Bibles, and throw Christians into prisons. They will massacre Christians in the hope of scaring other Christians into silence. They will express a constant threat of terrorism that will not be covered by the world’s news media so as to avoid the possibility of stirring up whatever hidden expressions of the image of God is still able to be touched by sympathy and compassion.

          The message of Revelation is the message of Romans, that if God is for us, who can be against us. Look at that beast, and that false prophet, and that antichrist, and that red dragon, and that collection of armies from all nations, all those beings who are against us. Now look upwards through that doorway that stands open in heaven,[12] and see the throne that is standing there, and see the one who is seated on that throne, and see the one who is seated at his right hand, and the complete sevenness of the Holy Spirit always moving between God and his people. It does not matter who is against us if the Triune is for us.

          From my heart,



© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)


[1] Romans 8:39
[2] “At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.” (Revelation 4:2)
[3] Romans 8:31
[4] I Corinthians 8:6
[5] Romans 8:34
[6] Colossians 3:15
[7] Hebrews 1:3
[8] Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2)
[9] Revelation 19:16
[10] I John 2:1
[11] Propitiation is “the removal of wrath by the offering of a gift” (NBD). It describes how Jesus so satisfied the wrath of God against our sin that there is none left. The wrath of God against our sin has been fully expended, and there is no more to give. The wrath of God is now removed from those who believe in Jesus Christ so they will never experience God’s wrath. There is still wrath stored up for those who reject Christ’s gift, but the true child of God will never see it expressed towards anyone in the household of God.
[12] Revelation 4:1

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pastoral Pings ~ A Childish Clarification

          Although I get a little disappointed when I realize I miscommunicated something, I also appreciate the opportunity to elaborate on a point that may require a little more attention. So, with a hopeful heart, I clarify something I stated in my last blog-post, “Attachment Pain and the Comfort of God.”

          The statement that did not come across clearly was this: "A conclusion I have come to after a decade of working with children is that children need to be taught not to attach."[1] By this, I did NOT mean that we “need” to teach this to children, or that we “should” teach this to children. In no way would I ever advocate deliberately teaching children that they should not attach to their family, friends, and caregivers.

          Rather, what I had hoped to communicate was that children would never think negative thoughts about attaching unless someone taught them that viewpoint. In other words, children do not develop a fear of attaching as a normal part of growing up. Someone would “need” to teach it to them, otherwise it would never occur to them to fear something as wonderfully designed into them as attaching to others.

          While a decade of working with children has convinced me that they would only fear attachment if they were taught to do so, my couple of decades of working with adults has led me to conclude that few of us (if any) escape our childhood years without some form of hurts that have gone underground. Because we were created with a masterful complexity as creatures made in the image of God, we end up in quite a mess when we get broken. The many forms of dissociative disorders[2] are expressions of something God made very good being broken into many pieces.

          Putting the two worlds together (children and adults) has helped me to see why so many adults have unresolved childhood issues. It is because we were never taught how to bring our heartaches to God and people when we were children. If we have never brought out those heartaches when we were young, someone needs to teach us how to do it no matter how old we are now.[3]

          I have had people tell me that Christians do not have childhood issues to deal with because Jesus dealt with all those things on the cross. That is like telling someone that they do not have cancer because their son went through medical school and is now a cancer specialist. Jesus provided for the fullness of the new covenant to be applied to all who would receive it, but much of the transforming work of the gospel happens as people interact with God and with one another in the church. In other words, life-change is a life-time commitment!

          I love the way Paul expressed it: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”[4] Yes, we are “being transformed” as we grow up together in Christ; but, it is from one degree of experiencing the glory of Christ to another.

          However, it includes God’s modus operandi of leading us to see our poverty of spirit (like attachment pain), bringing us to mourn the condition of our souls, leading us to meekly acknowledge another area of our lives we cannot fix ourselves, and so causing us to hunger and thirst for the righteousness of being full of joy like Jesus Christ.[5]

          The bottom line is that, we should not accept a fear of attachment as a good thing when it is really a sarky expression of self-protection that limits God’s relationship-building work in the church. Instead, we should present our fear of attachment to God so that his perfect love[6] can so heal and overcome what others have done to us, even what we have done to ourselves, and we can grow up to know that we are beloved children of God who imitate God’s fearless love in the way we relate to one another.[7]

          From my heart,



© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] I have changed the sentence to read: “A conclusion I have come to after a decade of working with children is that they instinctively know how to attach to others, but would only develop a fear of attaching if it is taught to them.”
[2] I believe that all dissociative disorders can and should be brought to Jesus Christ through the soul-care of the Church so that everyone experiences the soul-rest Jesus promised in Matthew 11:28-30.
[3] Praying through the Psalms is one of the best ways of teaching children of all ages to pour out their hearts to God for the soothing, comforting, and healing of their souls.
[4] II Corinthians 3:18
[5] Matthew 5:1-12 ~ The Beatitudes show us the qualities we can expect to see in the people God is blessing with the transforming work of the kingdom of heaven.
[6] There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.  We love because he first loved us. (I John 4:18-19)
[7] Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Pastoral Ponderings ~ Attachment Pain and the Comfort of God

          Whatever I share with you comes from my place in the body of Jesus Christ. It is not better or worse than another believer’s offering of ministry, but it is inevitably going to have differences that are intended by God. Of course, we always want the differences in the gifting of believers to come together as beautiful notes of harmony, and so I trust that what I share today will harmonize with what God is already doing in your life.
          For me, that includes the necessity of doing my utmost to connect the heartaches of God’s children to the comfort of God’s words. I have been shaken up by too many stories of childhood abuse, struggles with eating disorders, bondage to addictions like pornography, leaving me longing to know how to apply God’s comfort in life-experience, not only in theological explanations.
          This morning I was considering the difference between the apostle John writing “behold” rather than “I saw”,[1] and suddenly, there it was. Not a revelation of something spectacular; not some amazing experience of being “in the Spirit” in whatever way John was in the Spirit. No, it was nothing fanciful, or special, or dramatic at all. It was a sudden feeling of deep, inner pain, joined by the friendship of tears that sometimes seem all too quick to make themselves known.
          My immediate thought was, “what’s the connection?” I do not presume to make the decision to separate something I read in the word from something that is going on inside me. I trust God to bring things together in ways that only he would think of doing, resulting in help and healing the natural mind would never imagine.
          The pain I felt this morning was nothing new. I had felt it for a long time before someone gave me a way to describe it. It is called, “attachment pain”. There does not need to be a memory to go along with it; there does not need to be flashbacks of abuse, or conscious experiences of trauma. It is pain associated with failed attachments, or failed relationships.
          I have often wondered what it would have been like to grow up in the garden of Eden without sin ruining everything. The very design of man as male and female speaks of God’s creative masterpiece of relationship. A baby would have entered the world into the arms of waiting parents. Long before he could ever understand such things, he would experience the way God had designed his mother so that the early months of feeding would require the most personal and intimate of attachments.
          If you have ever seen the expression in the eyes of a mother and her baby looking at each other during breastfeeding, you have seen the glory of God in designing us to attach to relationships in the most warm and life-giving expressions of love. Such things are to help us understand what it means that God so loved the world that he would send his only Son in the likeness of sinful man, so that he could be lifted up on beams of wood that would spread his arms open wide as a Shepherd longing to gather his lost sheep into his love.
          Even the pain of failed attachments can point us to God because he tells us why attachments fail, and why we are so self-centered and self-consumed that parents and babies do not attach in the loving ways we were designed to experience. He can explain why siblings are more likely to live in rivalry than honest and sincere attachment. He tells us why relationships fail, why fear is more common than faith, and lust is more common than love. It is all explained by one simple fact: All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way”.[2] God’s way is the way of love; our way is the way of self; hence a world full of attachment pain.
          The reason that someone like me has hope in the face of inexplicable heartache is because of how this verse from the Bible finishes: “and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Jesus, longing to attach with us as the firstborn over many brothers,[3] bore the very iniquity of the man he had created, in order to return his people to the relationships of utter and eternal attachment he had designed for us. This is what we long for, and what we mourn for in its absence.
         Since first finding that there was a name to identify the sabotaging pain that would rise up from nowhere, I have heard too many stories of dear children of God carrying this pain, and often wondering why it is there. Many people who have grown up in churches, and have tried for long years to just be the good boy or girl everyone expects them to be, find their masks crumbling with a relentless pain that defies explanation. Pastors and wives express their confusion and heartache over churches that dismissed them without any regard for the biblical description of relationships among God’s children. Some people completely give up on the church because judgment, condemnation, and rejection are far more common than healthy, honest, heart-to-heart, attachment.
         A conclusion I have come to after a decade of working with children is that they instinctively know how to attach to others, but would only develop a fear of attaching if it is taught to them. They attach to their parents without any effort, but can be taught to shut down by simply afflicting enough pain to discourage them from trying. They attach to other relatives and caregivers as the most normal thing, unless these relatives or caregivers communicate to them that they are not wanted. They attach to their peers, even from a very young age, unless their peers respond with cruelty, rejection, and hatred.
         I say this because I would like to encourage people to realize that attachment pain may be very common, but it is not normal. Just as God did not design paradise to experience death, or sin, he did not design paradise to include attachment pain. We who have hope in Christ have the assurance that there is coming a day when he will wipe away such pain, and lead us into the greatest and most wonderful attachments we could ever imagine, in a world of joy that will never end.
         In the meantime, join with me in holding on to such promises of God as this: He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”[4] It doesn’t matter whether your brokenheartedness is over your sin, or the sin of others against you, God heals the wounds. He will also heal relationships where both parties will let him.
        When God tells us, Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,”[5] he invites us to mourn our sin, and the sins of others, anything that his caused attachments with God and others to fail, and feel the comfort that he brings to all who will come to him in such honesty and humility.
         Jesus presented himself as the one who came “to proclaim good news to the poor… to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”[6] That is such a thorough description of healing that there is no doubt this includes God’s remedy for anything we would associate with attachment pain and its symptoms.
         I do not need to find the word “Alzheimer’s” in the Bible to know how to pray for someone, help a family adjust, or help people direct their hearts into the eternal hope of Christ in the midst of heartbreaking changes. I do not need to find the word “Schizophrenia” in the Bible to know that we can walk with someone in the hope and grace of Christ, and seek the peace of mind that God has promised.
        In the same way, it is not necessary to find “attachment pain” in the Bible to admit we feel it. We do not need to find “anorexia” in the Bible, nor “marijuana”. Scripture is clear in its message of hope to people caught in any addiction, overwhelmed with any fear, feeling any pain, and we simply need to teach what accords with sound doctrine”[7] as we respond to whatever we face in people’s lives.
         In my case, it was this verse that got me going this morning: “At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.”[8] Considering that John said, “and behold,” instead of “and I saw”, touched something in my heart and I needed to immediately bring it to God. Even as the tears of pain rose up from within, the comforts of God poured down from above. I was not a mere bystander who was invited to come and see something that John had experienced a long time ago in some isolated experience of wonder. Every child of God who ever reads this verse, hears resonating within their hearts the cry of “behold!” By faith, we can look at the things John saw and behold them. What he saw, and wrote down into Scripture, we can now receive by hearing these words, and feeling the same faith rise up within our hearts as John felt as God wrapped the vision of heaven around his awestruck soul.
       I would not tell you about my experience with attachment pain if I did not have a glorious message of hope to share with you as well. At the same time, I could not keep my experience to myself when I know that there are many brokenhearted believers in Jesus Christ who need someone putting a name to the pain so they know they are not alone. We can all feel some greater comfort in knowing that God will keep healing this pain in this lifetime, and lead us into pain-free attachments of godly love that will remain intact and secure forever.
        From my heart,
© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Revelation 4:2
[2] Isaiah 53:6
[3] Romans 8:29
[4] Psalm 147:3
[5] Matthew 5:4
[6] Luke 4:18-19
[7] Titus 2:1
[8]  Revelation 4:2

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pastoral Pings ~ Rejoice, O Prisoners of Hope!

          The word of God gives us words to describe the condition we are in, making us feel that we are understood; and it gives us reason to rejoice and be glad no matter what condition we are in, or what feelings of grief and sorrow consume us. Today God brought these two comforts together in a very meaningful way.

 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
(vs 9)

          As I have already received so much encouragement from Revelation’s emphasis on the second coming of Jesus Christ, I found this prophecy about Jesus’ first coming to hold a wonderful call to joy.

          One of the things to keep in mind about the full picture of prophecy in the Scriptures is that the church has the best reason to believe all the New Testament prophecies of Christ’s second coming. The Old Testament saints were called to look forward to the coming of the Messiah, the Christ. They had many examples of God’s faithfulness to his covenant throughout their history, but they had no previous example of the Word becoming flesh to dwell among us.

          Simply because God was faithful and true, God’s people were expected to “rejoice greatly” because their king was coming to them. They were given a description of his arrival that was so specific, that when Jesus did come riding on a donkey’s colt, the crowds rejoiced greatly, just as the prophecy had declared.

          What New Covenant saints have now is the fulfillment of that prophecy, and all the other prophecies speaking of Jesus’ first coming. We have both the prophecies, and the many eye-witness testimonies of their fulfillment. Our brother Matthew loves to tell us that a specific experience in the life of Jesus on earth “was to fulfill” a specific prophecy spoken about him hundreds of years earlier.

          What ministers to me about this is that we are living in a one-time-only experience for God’s people. This time between the two comings of Jesus Christ has given us the myriad of prophecies declaring the certainty of Jesus’ first coming, the wonderful proofs of these prophecies being fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, and now a whole other collection of wonderful prophecies about the second coming of Jesus Christ. We are not merely living in anticipation of the Messiah’s first coming, hoping that the God who gave us Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, and David, would give us this one who was greater than them all. We are living in anticipation of the second coming of our Great God and Savior after knowing the amazing, and wonderful, and awesome way that God sent him into our world the first time.

          So, while Zechariah 9 reminds us of the Son of God’s first coming, riding into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt, praised by the people who knew it was him; it also gives us this beautiful connection to Jesus’ second coming.

“Then the Lord will appear over them, and his arrow will go forth like lightning;
the Lord God will sound the trumpet
and will march forth in the whirlwinds of the south.” (vs 14)

          Whatever else this may have included, I found this ancient description of God coming to rescue his people very affirming. It reminds me of the promises of Jesus’ sudden appearing, that it will be as obvious as a bright bolt of lightning; it will be accompanied by the trumpet blast of God; and it will include gathering the elect from the four winds.

          In the midst of this chapter I was drawn to this amazing verse: “Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double” (vs 12). While we may sometimes feel like we are prisoners of sin, or prisoners of bad experiences from the past, or prisoners of negative messages that have been spoken and confirmed throughout our lives, this particular imprisonment stands out from them all.

          The ring in my heart was, “Make me a prisoner of hope!” I want to be chained to hope, imprisoned by it, unable to resist its grasp, captured by its promises and declarations. I want to be overcome by hope, captivated by the testimonies and descriptions of what is in store for those who know and love the Lord Jesus Christ. I want to feel this hope poured into my heart, filling me to the full, overflowing to the joy of others.

          It took me all day to share these thoughts. It was particularly uplifting because, by the evening, I was tired, and my mind seemed to be hindered by a weary brain. I thought I would give one last try to bring these morning thoughts to an evening conclusion. What happened surprised me. God took me back to the joyful thoughts and feelings he had given me at the beginning of the day, led me into further meditation on these things, and returned me to joy just in time for a good night’s rest.

          I testify, not only to this one thought, but to the faithfulness of God to bless anyone who earnestly seeks him. As David said a long time ago, How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.”[1]

          From my heart,


© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Psalm 139:17-18