Wounds of the Heart, Part 5

Heartbreak doesn’t just hurt, but it often feels downright insurmountable. So many questions come along with our pain: How can I move on? How can I get through this? Will I ever feel better?

It’s an unfortunate truth that heartbreak in any form, whether a mild rejection or a full-blown life-changing trauma, can propel us into an emotional tailspin. Just getting through the day can feel like: I don’t understand anyone around me, and now I don’t even understand me.

Other self-imposed questions tend to interrogate us. What did I do wrong? Can I ever fix this? Why am I such an idiot? Questions like these prance through our minds as if they own the place, and can take a toll on our emotional and spiritual health. It’s hard not to let these post-traumatic emotional experiences negatively define our character. That’s what I want to address today.

Sometimes, as evangelical Christians, we fear our emotions – as if to allow for emotion is to be less than a devout follower of Christ. But the Bible reveals a Triune God who is rich with emotionality. As we unpack the New Testament, we discover a Holy Spirit who not only manifests rich emotions Himself – but who is given to every believer so that we may enjoy a profoundly significant emotional life. Our emotions are closer to us than air, and must not be avoided. Being created in God’s image is not just the impetus for our ability to think and to reason – but it’s also the impetus for our ability to feel. Since we can’t (and shouldn’t) run from our feelings, we must deal with them in a Christ-honoring way. Since God has given us emotion, He has the power to heal our damaged emotions (and our unhealthy emotional reactions). We can trust Him for this.

When it comes to our true identity, if we attempt to re-define ourselves, we will self-destruct. But if we will embrace our identity IN CHRIST, we will be on the road to real recovery.

IN CHRIST, who are we?

  1. We are God’s friends (John 15:13-15). As I offer you each of these truths for your contemplation, my hope is that you’ll look up each text, and meditate on its glorious applications to your own emotional well-being. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you delight in these realities as personally applied to you!
  2. We are new creations (Second Corinthians 5:17).
  3. We are children of God, reflecting His own character, nature, and love (Ephesians 5:1-2).
  4. We are forgiven and free, even in our suffering (Romans 8:15-17).
  5. We are saints. Our lives have been divinely set apart for holy purposes (First Corinthians 1:2).
  6. We are recipients of wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption (First Corinthians 1:30-31).
  7. We are Christ’s brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2:1-12).

In terms of our identity, that’s only a start. But it’s a good one.

So here are our steps so far:



And today we’re adding:


We’ll pick up there next time. As always, I am grateful for your many contributions to my life – and to my own understanding and enjoyment of my identity IN CHRIST.


Pastor Charles

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Wounds of the Heart, Part 4

Now that we’ve faced our fallenness, what next?

Well, we must learn to grieve for the glory of God. Grief is natural and normal, whenever we face a significant disappointment of any kind. There’s no use pasting on a fake smile and pretending that everything is fine. As a matter of fact, suppressing grief – and never dealing with it appropriately or redemptively – can be very unhealthy.

Grief often overtakes us in stages. First we may feel shocked. (How could this have happened to me?) Then we may go through a period of denial. Next is often when strong feelings of anger emerge. Don’t be surprised by any of these. They’re all part of a normal grieving process. Sometimes, however, our sadness can evolve into excruciating pain – something more like depression. And this is where I don’t want you to get stuck. And, if you’re already stuck, I want you to be free!

How do we get unstuck?

When we’re in one of those life seasons that feels like perpetual winter with no sign of spring, pain can be piling up inside us like emotional garbage. Friend, don’t leave your grief unattended! If you leave your grief unattended, you’re likely to find yourself engaging in behaviors which you never thought were you. Bitterness can take over. You may soon find yourself isolated even from the people you love the most. You may discover that you’re suddenly blaming everybody around you for, well, everything! Not healthy. Not healthy at all.

So here is our second step toward healing: SPEAK YOUR SADNESS. You and I must learn to grieve well, and that starts with telling the truth: “I am hurt.”

John 11:35 can be powerful for us: Jesus wept. Even knowing that Lazarus would be raised from the dead in mere minutes, Jesus expressed – honestly and intimately – the sorrow of His heart. There had been a loss, and it was real. And it was sad.

If this frankness was right for the Son of God, can’t we be certain that it is right for us?





We’ll go from there next time.

Your heart is in His hands.


Pastor Charles

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Wounds of the Heart, Part 3

Have you ever been betrayed?

Scientists and researchers at UCLA and other places are documenting the links between emotional pain and physical pain. What impacts us at soul-level can take a severe toll on our bodies. But I probably didn’t have to tell you that.

As holy and powerful as God is, He knows what it’s like to be betrayed. The Old Testament, somewhat like a novel, reads like a series of: 1. God pursues His people in love; 2. God’s people enjoy His blessings; 3. God’s people reject Him, and abandon Him; 4. God’s people get into trouble; 5. God’s people ask for forgiveness; 6. God forgives and restores; and 7. Rinse and repeat.

So our Sovereign God knows what we’re facing when it comes to getting better – emotionally, and in every other way. In fact, He is the hope we’ve been looking for! Check out Paul’s testimony in Second Corinthians 1:8-11.

A broken heart is not likely to heal overnight. It’s not like getting a cavity filled. It may take months, or even years. We trust God with the timing, right?

But what I want you to wrap your mind around today is the good things that can come into our lives via a broken heart. Sometimes God uses these seasons of suffering to replace our pride and false identity with confidence in Him. Glory comes through pain. C.S. Lewis said it like this: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

So here’s what I want you to do …

Look back on that affliction of sadness that keeps dogging you. Maybe it was something that someone did to hurt you, or something that you did – and that you regret doing – and something that you can’t seem to move past (no matter how hard you try).

You’re going to take one step forward today – another step will come next week – but here is your one step for today: FACE YOUR FALLENNESS. Read, and reread (and reread) Romans 3:9-20. “None is righteous, no, not one.” This applies to you. This applies to me. This applies to our betrayers.

Thankfully, it does not apply to Christ. Hallelujah, what a Savior!


Pastor Charles

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La Lumière

We just touched down after a great week in France! Our friends, Randy and Jan Kent – and the team from Mission FPC: France Pour Christ, led by Jeannot Gauggel – could not have been more hospitable hosts. Because of the FPC approach to missions, we ministered alongside new friends from all over the world, literally. We came home with hearts which are full. We are grateful to our gracious God for the experience and the relationships.

We arrived in Nashville exhausted but invigorated at the same time. In days ahead we’ll be sharing more details with you, but I wanted you to see some photos of our ministries and missions. Our FBC contingency worked together exceptionally well, and I can honestly say that there was never a moment when I felt like we weren’t on the same team. I praise the Lord for His faithfulness in answering so many prayers for this trip.

Some of us made it up to the Alsace region – an area in northeastern France on the Rhine River plain – which is steeped in history. Bordering Germany and Switzerland, Alsace has alternated between German and French control over the centuries, and reflects a mix of both cultures. We met with Joseph, Natalie, and Roland, who are leaders of a congregation in the small city of Haguenau. The church has opened an outreach café to attract unbelievers (see pics of Jeremy and Sharon enjoying a raspberry smoothie, and our group around the table). We were more than impressed with their evangelistic fervor and creativity, and we’ll share with you some of that dialog a little later.

Our trip was capped off with our making the most of our 36 hours in Paris. We particularly enjoyed our guide, Claude, and his walking tour of Montmartre. The weather was perfect after a much-needed cool front invaded, and those memories became the icing on the cake.

As you may know from church history, the nation of France rejected the Protestant Reformation. As a result, much spiritual darkness fills the land. But God’s people are the light (Matthew 5:14) – la lumière – and our job continues to be to make Christ known: in postmodern France … and to the ends of the earth!

Thank you for praying us safely home.


Pastor Charles

Posted in Blog Posts

France Pour Christ


We have most definitely been sent out into a culture that could be described as thoroughly postmodern and post-Christian. Evangelical churches of all stripes struggle to proclaim the gospel of Jesus in a nation where most people believe that truth is relative and that Christianity has no place in public life.

Christians in France are doing whatever it takes to build bridges into the lives of unbelievers. Our main job here is to encourage church planters who are doing that very thing. You can see that some of today’s activities focused on people at a city park, where unusually hot weather still allowed for some important gospel encounters. Creativity, without losing the claims of Christ, is the name of the game! We’ll have plenty of fun stories to tell you when we get home.

It’s late here, and I’m totally exhausted. Please pray for me as I teach from Matthew first thing in the morning. I’m focusing on the account of John the Baptist, and our need to press on in faith even in seasons when we’re assaulted by significant doubt. I’ll write again later in the week.


Pastor Charles

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We made it to Europe! Thanks for your faithful prayers.

I’m writing on board our morning train to Epinal, France. We spent the night in Paris, and took in some of the sites. Enjoy the pics. The artistic Louvre photo is compliments of Talia.

Please pray for our new French friend, Julian. He’s traveling with us today, in the good Providence of God, and Jeremy and Julio are engaging him in gospel conversations.

Our devotion today was from John 1:12-13 and Acts 1:8. As we share Christ within a postchristian cultural context, and in every other venue, we need the life-giving empowerment of His Spirit!

I’ll write more from the mountains …


Pastor Charles

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Wounds of the Heart, Part 2

So how do we recover from the heart wounds of our lives?

Last week I mentioned that the place to begin is a place of honesty before the Lord. For example, if I think that the actions or words of another person have harmed me – perhaps even striking at the core of my sense of self-worth – then the place to start is by telling the Lord what’s on my mind and heart. Words are incredibly powerful. Just as words can inflict pain and breed hatred, words of truthfulness can establish trust and confidence. So we start by simply telling our Savior the truth. Remember: we’re not giving Him new information, but we’re choosing to walk with Him along the road of life. Our God delights in our choosing to draw near to Him.

What do we ask of the Lord?

For starters, we can ask Him to begin to convince us of the truth. Heart wounds, you see, deceive us. Lying is their native language, and their pain sometimes feels inescapable. So you and I need Christ to renew our minds, and to show us what is really true about who we are in Him. If we don’t seek Christ’s power for that kind of personal transformation, we may live the rest of our lives blaming ourselves for the wrongs which others have inflicted on us – or ensnared by bitterness and shame.

Let me offer a few truths for you to ponder until my next installment in this series (after my mission to France) …

  1. My heart wounds do not define me. It may feel at times like they do, but that is not true.
  2. I am made in the image of Almighty God. If you were here Sunday morning, we tried to make much of that glorious reality (Genesis 1:27). What better place would there be to start renewing my sense of identity and value?
  3. I belong permanently to Christ, who is redeeming and restoring me (Galatians 4:4-5).
  4. I am a co-heir with Christ of every spiritual blessing, even in and through my suffering (Romans 8:17).
  5. I am dearly and deeply loved, in spite of all my sin (Romans 5:8).
  6. IN CHRIST, I am forgiven for every sin: past, present, and future.
  7. What may have marked me – at least in my own heart – as a “total disaster,” the Lord intends to turn into a token of grace.

Sometimes it feels like we’ve boarded “the hot mess express.” Maybe so. But, when you and I begin to recognize the excellencies of our Captain, we can smile at every twist and turn.


Pastor Charles

Posted in Blog Posts

Wounds of the Heart

Last week I mentioned the inevitability of sadness in each of our lives. Even sad seasons which can tend to linger.

Sometimes life includes for us specific experiences which impact us profoundly, and which remain with us. Often these experiences stay with us because they have deeply imprinted important messages upon our hearts and minds. Some of these experiences are positive and wonderful, like the birth of a child. Who can forget the utter joy of that indescribable moment? Some of these experiences are nothing short of traumatic. Consider my earlier example … except this time the newborn baby dies. Profound sadness striking at the very core of Mom and Dad.

God has wired the human soul in such a way that we have a need to talk about the feelings which are “left over” from such life-altering events. But sometimes – especially when it comes to unresolved grief – we get shut down by others when we try to express what’s going on inside us. Normally the other person means no harm, but our pain is simply more than he or she can handle … and the resulting response toward us is something like: “You shouldn’t feel that way.” Have you ever been told that when you were trying to express yourself?

As Christ followers, we are called to care about the feelings of others. The Bible instructs us plainly (Romans 12:15): “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Many of the people whom we’re called to love are carrying around tremendous wounds of the heart. A heart wound is a like a physical wound in many ways. It is just as real. It may be invisible, but it shows up quite clearly in a person’s behavior – sooner or later. A heart wound is painful, and it must be treated with care or – like a physical wound – it will get worse. You’ve probably experienced a skin wound. You had to clean away any foreign objects or dirt so that the wound could start to heal. With a heart wound, the same principle applies. Maybe my own sin has contributed to my wound. If so, I will want to confess my sin to God so that real healing can begin.

Just like a physical wound often requires help from another person, so a wound of the heart – more often than not – requires that we let other people help us. James 5:16 connects our willingness to confess our sins to others with our experience of genuine healing in regard to those sins. That’s where James promises that the prayer of a righteous person has great power!

How might a heart wound manifest itself? Here are some possibilities I’ve observed over years of pastoral ministry …

  • persistent anger or rage
  • sadness that won’t go away
  • lack of enjoyment of life
  • persistent tension and no ability to relax, or insomnia
  • unexplained stomach issues
  • unexplained rapid heartbeat, trouble breathing, dizziness, or mental “fogginess”

Some people with wounded hearts don’t want to be around anything or anyone who reminds them of their trauma. Fear is often a big part of the “fallout” left over from a wounded heart. It’s often a fear that I’ll have to experience that same trauma again. Some people develop a difficulty remembering things – either the specific events of their traumatic experience, or in general. Some people obsess about their traumatic event, and find themselves plagued by the same nightmare over and over again. Sleep gets harder and concentration is dulled. Some people are simply exhausted. Some cry a lot … some never cry. Some turn to drugs or alcohol. If the trauma is particularly intimate – like rape or incest, or some injury that is inflicted over a long period of time, or something that results in severe devastation, or some intentional injury – the wound of the heart can be especially deep. Sometimes a person’s temperament makes a wound deeper – like in the case of a person who is simply sensitive by nature.

Our Lord Jesus experienced profound sadness in every way that you and I can imagine feeling abandoned or threatened, and Christ knows our struggles intimately. Here’s one Scripture I’d like you to take a look at if you’re struggling with sadness: Matthew 26:36-46. We see in this passage that Jesus called on His disciples to stand with Him in prayer, which they obviously failed to do. Christ experienced heart wounds, and He uniquely understands the brokenness of our souls! God wants us to be honest with Him about the wounds of our hearts. If you’re not quite sure about how to begin, please stay tuned. I’ll pick up right there next week.


Pastor Charles

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As June bled into July, the latest chapter in an ongoing tragedy became more vivid. Dozens of people had risked everything in hopes of a better life, but ended up clinging to a capsized rubber boat. At least three babies, and over a hundred others, perished off the coast of Libya in one of the latest waves of the migrant crisis. Hundreds before them lost their lives as well, just this year alone. The crossing of the Mediterranean is perilous under such conditions.

When we read the New Testament (Luke 13:1-5, for example), we discover that when Jesus walked the earth – as at most every other time in human history – the reasoning of many was to draw a precise line between tragedy (of whatever stripe) and the specific sin of a specific person (or group of people): to declare a direct cause-effect relationship between the two. “You sinned this way, and so this calamity has befallen you.” Sometimes the Bible does record concrete examples of the direct consequences of sin, but you and I must be humble in our assessments where the Scriptures do not speak so clearly.

You may also remember the account of the man who had been born blind, recorded in John 9. The question was: “Who sinned, this man or his parents?” Jesus’ answer was, “Neither!” And our Lord went on to explain that this particular affliction was designed for the glory of God. Of course both the man and his parents were sinners, but his blindness was the result of a much larger problem of sin: universal sin. Romans 5:12 describes this.

Sometimes, when tragedy strikes, we try to hide the truth about God’s sovereignty in a misguided attempt to comfort the afflicted by so doing. But to hide God’s truth is to provide no real comfort at all. (And sometimes God’s truth is given to afflict the comfortable!) We hide the truth about God and His sovereign power because we mistakenly conclude that the best way to minister to the hurting person is to tell him that God has nothing to do with his pain. But that’s not true at all. God is sovereign over the world that He has made. He is sovereign over the events of that same world. He is Lord of all. He is Lord of heaven and earth.

How great is this God whom we serve! I love the way Moses expresses it in Genesis 1:16 – “He made the stars also.” When I read that, I’m quite sure that there should be three exclamation points at least: “HE MADE THE STARS ALSO !!!” Isaiah rightly asks (40:12): “Who has … marked off the heavens?” We know the answer to that question: God!

We can’t even calculate the distance across this universe filled with stars. We do know that the nearest stat – other than the sun – is about 4.5 light years away. Since light travels at the speed of 186,000 miles per second, the nearest star is over 26 trillion miles away. And that’s just the nearest star! “HE MADE THE STARS ALSO !!!” The universe in which we live is so large that we can’t begin to fathom its grandeur. And yet, God has numbered every star and holds each one in its orbit.

There isn’t a random molecule in this universe that the Lord has made. Now we have the technology to look deep inside the human cell, and we discover there that the ingenious design and function within that tiny space screams the glory of God just as loudly as the enormous celestial bodies! This is the God of the Bible. He crafts every snowflake individually. He is the God of the whirlwind, the earthquake, and the storm. He sends every raindrop to water the parched earth. He parts the mighty sea so that His people can cross safely on dry land. And … only when the time is right … He calms the raging waters with the mere sound of His voice.

Our Sovereign is to be adored, and He is to be feared.

And, yet, this Sovereign God weeps. John 11:35. The shortest verse in the Bible, but don’t miss it. Christ is so moved by the reality of human sadness that He cries with His friends. Sometimes you and I should weep over the tragedy, heartache, and sadness we observe on Planet Earth. It can be overwhelming at times. But we don’t weep because we’ve forgotten who’s in charge.

We know. And so does He. Not one sparrow falls without His knowing, whether the sparrow is in North Africa or Western Kentucky.

Be still, my heart. Only perfect love can quiet this troubled soul. Only Jesus. The Triune God is enormous in His perfections and power, and in His grace, even when I can’t understand at all.


Pastor Charles

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Glorious, Glorious Praise

As our choir ties up loose ends so that they can take a much-deserved summer break from weekly rehearsals, I want to thank all of you who make our worship arts ministries such a vital part of the life and witness of First Baptist Paducah. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. In recent weeks, all of you have worked overtime to make sure that Paducah has experienced the love of Christ through our ministries.

The evening with Sandi Patty was, well – to steal from one of her older titles – glorious! I can’t tell you how many people stopped me to tell me: “We’ve never heard anything like this!” Sometimes we’re tempted to take our choir for granted because we get to enjoy their talents nearly every week, but it takes a regional event to remind us just how blessed we really are. Sandi commented that she had never worked with a better team of musicians, and she was deeply moved by a couple of our choir’s own selections – especially when our vocalists knocked it out of the park (as always). If you were here, you saw Sandi’s warm embrace of Kendra, and her tears.

Then you went out to The Lakes of Paducah and shared your gifts with the residents of an assisted living community. You stood in the hot sun, with barely a breeze, and – again – lifted high the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. You loved on friends and strangers alike, and lifted their spirits. The owners, staff, and attendees thanked me profusely. But you deserve the thanks.

Is it O.K. for the senior pastor to be proud? If it is, count me in. I am so proud of you. Every instrumentalist. Every member of the tech and T.V. crew. Everyone behind the scenes making it happen. Those of you who decorate for these special events, and who use the visual arts to connect people to the gospel of Christ, are among my heroes.

I’m always intrigued by the fact that the first ministers filled with the Holy Spirit – in the record of Scripture – were artists (Exodus 31:1-11). Surely the Lord would have us – stationed in a community of artists – display for the world a vision of “arts for the glory of God!” May Christ grant us the creativity, passion, and joy that we need to shake up our city with His praise! As a congregation, you are gifted of God. May each and every ministry gift poured out by the Spirit on First Baptist Paducah point with vivid clarity to the King of kings and Lord of lords!

You are gifted to serve. In just the last few days, you have demonstrated with hands, feet, and voices. I am humbled just to get to be a part of it all. Thank you.


Pastor Charles


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