Category Archives: Love

New Mercies Every Morning

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One of my favorite passages of scripture is from the Book of Lamentations (a short little five chapter book in the Old Testament right after the Book of Jeremiah),

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ~ Lamentations 3:21-23, NIV.

I love knowing that God has new mercies and fresh compassion for me every single day. It’s wonderful to know that His faithfulness towards me is such that I never have to worry that I might wake up one morning and find out that God is having a bad day. God isn’t capricious like my father was. I could never tell from one minute to the next how my father would be feeling, and therefore how he would treat me.

My father was diametrically opposite from, and opposed to, everything about God. The most dependable thing about my father was that you couldn’t depend on him for anything.

But God is everything my father wasn’t, and He never changes. It says this in a number of different ways throughout the Bible, and I am so very grateful and thankful to God for His constancy and faithfulness. The Book of Hebrews says,

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. ~ Hebrews 13:8, ESV.

It says in the Book of Numbers,

God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? ~ Numbers 23:19, NLT.

And one of my all-time favorites,

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. ~ James 1:17, KJV.

Last, but certainly not least,

35, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36, As it is written: “For Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37, No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38, For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:35-39, NIV.

The Old Testament verse referenced in Verse 36 comes from the Book of Psalms,

Yet for Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. ~ Psalm 44:22, NIV.

It’s extremely comforting to me to know that it’s impossible to separate me from Christ’s love, that God won’t let anything, ANYTHING, come between me and Him, and He’s proven that to me too many times to count. The most obvious confirmation, of course, is the cross, but just the fact that He’s been with me and kept me alive all my life ~ even when I didn’t know Him ~ is all the evidence I need, even if I didn’t have the cross. But I thank God for the cross!

 

Author and Finisher

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I love the phrase, “…the author and finisher of our faith…” in Hebrews 12:2. It’s talking about Jesus, of course. I like the way the NIV puts it,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of [our] faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ~ Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV.

It’s like my faith ~ my story ~ is a book, and Jesus is its author. He’s the One who began my story, and He’s the One who will finish it, as it says in Philippians,

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. ~ Philippians 1:6, NLT.

I love the Bible. It always tells the truth. The verses I quoted above tell the truth about God’s activity in my life. And the cardinal truth can be found in this verse in Hebrews,

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” ~ Hebrews 13:5, NLT.

Throughout my life ~ through all the abuse, all the times my mother tried to kill me, all the horrendous and terrible things my father did to me, all my suicide attempts, even during the period where I was enraged at God ~ through all of it, God was there, keeping me alive, shielding me from the worst of the abuse, and even protecting me from myself.

He’s never failed me, He’s never forsaken me, He’s never abandoned me, plus He’s given me beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning, as it says in Isaiah,

To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. ~ Isaiah 61:3, NKJV.

God has given me so much beauty in my life! He’s been so incredibly good to me, and He continues to be so on a daily, minute-by-minute basis. The cross is the best, most beautiful gift He could ever give me. It’s the best demonstration of true love anyone could ever give to another person, as it says in the Gospel of John,

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. ~ John 15:13, NLT.

Monsters Aren’t Monsters. They’re Evil Humans.

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When someone commits a particularly heinous and horrific crime, especially if he perpetrates a whole series of extremely monstrous and evil acts, people ofttimes refer to that person as a monster. But I don’t think such a one is a monster because, it seems to me, giving them such a designation makes them less than human, and it feels like that somehow excuses their behavior.

I think rather they’re fully human, just as human as any other person on earth. The difference is, they’re giving place to the lowest, most sordid, wicked, degenerate, and evil desires that a human being can have. Rather than allowing God to reign in their minds, they’re giving Satan free rein. Rather than being a mix of evil and good, as most people are, they are entirely and perfectly evil, with no good in them, or at the most, very little good.

I’m not sure there is a human being who is perfectly evil with absolutely no good, because it’s hard for me to think about giving up on anyone. God didn’t give up on me when I was at my worst. Seems to me the only one who is entirely evil with absolutely no good is Satan himself, but I could be wrong about that. There might be others who’ve sold their souls to him, I suppose.

Another aspect of this, though the connection may be somewhat tenuous, is when people commit murder and then kill themselves. I’ve always thought people who commit such crimes perpetrate them and then commit suicide so they don’t have to face justice. But I think they’re only thinking about human justice, without considering divine justice, which is much more sure and all-encompassing, because God knows all the facts of the case.

Seems to me such people have, at the very least, a poor understanding of who God is, if they believe He exists at all. If they truly understood God they would know that it would be better to face justice in human courts than to have deal with the consequences of God’s divine justice. In a human court they might be able to get away with lying, if they’re good enough at it, plus they might be able to hide their true motivations before a human judge, whereas that’s not possible with God. God knows our deepest motivations, and the thoughts and intents of our hearts. You can’t put anything past God.

But there could be another reason why people commit suicide after they perpetrate these heinous crimes: maybe they all of a sudden realize what they’ve done, and they find it so unacceptable that they decide they don’t deserve to live any longer. In other words, they’ve created an extreme example of internal cognitive dissonance by their actions, so they kill themselves, thus exacting capital punishment on themselves before anyone else has time to carry it out.

However, in punishing themselves, they’re proving once again that they don’t understand God’s character at all. It says in James, Chapter 2,

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. ~ James 2:12-13, NIV.

What that says to me is that while God is a god of judgment, He is also a god of mercy, and if we are merciful in our dealings with other people, He will allow mercy to reign over judgment in His relationship with us.

These people have also shown, it seems to me, that they believe they’ve committed the unpardonable sin, or at least it’s unpardonable to them, and they think it deserves the death penalty. Seems to me they’re saying that they know better than God, which sounds a little arrogant to me, but what do I know.

I for one would much rather have God’s mercy than His judgment, and God is far smarter than I am as far as whether my sins are forgivable or not, so I think I’ll let Him make those decisions!

Working Hard at Doing Absolutely Nothing, or Maybe I’m NOT Such a Lazy Bum.

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I’ve been wanting to write about the fact that I don’t have a job, which makes me feel like a I’m not much more than a big, lazy bum.

I’ve tried a number of times to get a job, to no avail. Everytime I apply for a job some place, something always happens that makes it not work out. Either I’m under-qualified, or I’m over-qualified, or I’m too old (I’m 65), or I’m too highly educated, or I’m too religious (I’m an evangelical Christian), or I’m too opinionated, or I’m not opinionated enough, or…, or…, or ad nauseam, ad infinitum. And the few times I’ve had a job, that didn’t work out either, with one exception: my job working for ADS (Airport Delivery Service). I really like that job, and I was good at it.

My job with ADS was the best job I ever had. It was a job where I returned people’s lost luggage out of John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, and I got to drive to interesting hotels and ritzy houses all over southern California, plus I got to meet a lot of fascinating people. In addition, I could listen to my favorite stations on the radio, without regard to anyone else’s listening preferences. It felt a little selfish, but I was the only one riding in my car, so it didn’t really make any difference.

But if I were to think about it logically ~ hard to do, but I can manage it ~ as well as listen to what my friends tell me, I would realize that I probably do more than I’m aware of. I have three friends, all of whom depend on me for moral support. Both Karens are taking care of their significant others. Karen C. is the primary caregiver for her mom, who is in end-stage Alzheimer’s Disease, and has been for awhile. Karen G-N. is the primary caregiver for her husband, David, and her newborn baby. David is on dialysis three times a week because he needs a kidney transplant, and Karen has been doing the dialysis at home ~ imagine that ~ kidney dialysis at home; what will they think of next. Pretty soon they’ll be doing heart transplants at home without benefit of doctors or nurses.

So David has been in the hospital for three or four months, and he hasn’t even met his baby son for the first time yet. Jonathan (the baby) has been on this earth since May 21, and David has yet to meet him. That’s just wrong! And Karen has needed friends to transport her and the baby to the hospital so she could visit David. I’ve provided the transportation, and then watched Jonathan out in the waiting room while Karen and David visited, and then drove Karen and Jonathan home again.

And then there’s the other Karen, Karen C. She doesn’t need me to drive her anywhere, but she needs lots of encouragement because she has to take care of her mom all by herself, so she’s always sleep-deprived. She has a professional caregiver (some kind of nurse) come in from the outside for six hours on Thursdays, and someone comes in to give her mom a bed-bath once a week, and someone comes in to clear her catheter and change her bladder bag once a week. So anytime something happens with her mom that worries her, Karen calls me and asks me to pray for her.

Amazingly, God always answers those prayers. I say amazingly because there hasn’t been a prayer that I’ve prayed for Karen’s mom that God hasn’t answered ~ with healing, with wisdom for whatever problem with her mom Karen’s been having that she hasn’t been able to figure out. God has always answered every prayer I’ve prayed for Karen’s mom, usually within the hour. There may have been one time where I prayed that her mom wouldn’t have to go to the ER, and she ended up having to go anyway, but that time they discovered that the problem was much deeper and more complicated than either Karen or I were aware of, so it was actually a good thing she went to the hospital.

And then there’s my friend, Helen, who lives in Australia. She had a stroke on May 29th, and while I can’t do anything to encourage her in person, I can support, inspire, and motivate her via email. Rachel and Kim are certainly doing that, and I can do the same. I can send her scripture verses, and cheerful letters, and prayers as well. It turns out you can do all kinds of things in an email letter! And her son is keeping Rachel, Kim, and me up to date on her condition and progress with daily letters.

So the upshot of all of this is that maybe I’m not quite as lazy as I think I am. Even though I don’t do much more than sit around in my apartment all day, while I’m sitting, I do a lot of encouraging and supporting and motivating of my friends. And when I go out, it’s to do the same thing ~ encourage, inspire, and motivate the friend I’m going to visit.

I guess I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

Cool.

Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment…

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I’ve been thinking about a phrase from James, Chapter Two, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” ~ James 2:12-13,

So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. ~ ESV.

And I especially like the way the New Living Translation says it, because it explains what’s meant by the phrase, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” I’ve long thought that mercy and judgment were inextricably intertwined, and the way the New Living Translation phrases it, it seems that I’m understanding it correctly:

There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.James 2:13, NLT.

I found a good illustration of this concept in Matthew 18:23-35, the parable that Jesus told of the unforgiving servant, and the New Living Translation tells it quite well:

Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold ~ along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned ~ to pay the debt. But the man fell down before his master and begged him, “Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.”

Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. “Be patient with me, and I will pay it,” he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.

When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called the man he had forgiven and said, “You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?” Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.

This says to me that for mercy to triumph over judgment, forgiveness must be offered by the wronged party to the person who wronged them. So, while God certainly plays a part in the matter, if we want God to judge us mercifully come judgment day, we must act with mercy towards others in our dealings with them in this life. We must forgive when we are wronged rather than holding a grudge or seeking revenge. Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (see Matthew 5:44), and that’s certainly what He did when He forgave those who crucified Him as He was on the cross (see Luke 23:34), which is all the more remarkable considering the agony and excruciating pain He was in at the time.

So Christ is our example, and He’s the best example we have. If I need to know what to do in any situation, all I have to do is figure out what Jesus would do, and if there’s no specific precedent to follow, then follow the path of Love.