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Living among Immortals

“There are no ‘ordinary’ people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.”
–C. S. Lewis,
The Weight of Glory

I’m still alive and writing!  This year has been gratefully busy and spread out between family, grad school, and helping a humble ministry leader express his story for a future book.  And, in a mere hours or days, we will be meeting and welcoming two more little ones into our growing family!

Baby A on the way

Soon we’ll see Baby B

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But I’m so behind with sharing. My heart and mind are full of songs, opinions, new favourite quotes, and encouragement from God’s Word.  So I better get started.

There are no ordinary people.

Jericho Road’s Coffee House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We live our life among the immortal.  Every single person we talk to, brush past, or ignore, is valuable, every spirit, eternal, and each soul, purchased by our Saviour’s blood.

You

and

I

and

each person

that crosses our path,

will outlast the prettiest flower

and the deepest sunset

and the wildest mountains

or the most graceful deer~~~

~~~~

If that be true, how do we treat others?  The others we may not like, who have hurt us, or tailgate us on the highway, or make choices that cause us pain?

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

John 13:34

Jesus didn’t ask us to love one another.  He commanded it!

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

  Matthew 7:12

Casting Crown’s song, Jesus, Friend of Sinners, says it like this:

Oh, Jesus, friend of sinners,
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus friend of sinners break our hearts for what breaks yours.

Jesus, friend of sinners, the one who’s writing in the sand
Make the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember we are all the least of these
Let the memory of your mercy bring your people to their knees.

How do we live among such immortals?

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”

and

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

Ephesians 4:31,32

We will never meet a mere mortal.

May the Lord grant us the grace and humility to treat everyone we meet on our journey with an eternal perspective. We already have an example from Jesus:

“….whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Matthew 20:25-28

Let us love one another…as long as we have breath, to eternity….and beyond!

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”   Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

[I invite you to listen to Casting Crown’s song in its entirety from the Music Box.  And you can purchase it for yourself on ITunes or Amazon.com.]

 

God of This City – Our City

 “Someday you will live forever in a fully restored house [city], but right now you are called to live with peace, joy, and productivity in a place damaged by sin.  Emmanuel lives here with us, and He is at work returning his house to its former beauty.”
Paul David Tripp, Broken-Down House

 

As part of  my “God of This City” series, I want to share a little slideshow compiled from John’s photos of our current city, Ottawa, set to Tomlin’s song, God of This City.  This isn’t a ‘tourist’ video made to highlight key sites of this beautiful city (tho scenic pics are included), but rather, a glimpse of what the Lord sees everyday…people who need Jesus!

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”  I John 3:16

 

 

I encourage you today, to pray for your geographical city–wherever God has placed you.  Pray for your government leaders, law-makers, judges, police officers and other civil servants, for your school teachers, pastors, co-workers, employers, employees, along with your neighbors, friends……and your precious family. 

How to Disarm an Angry Person

“A gentle answer turns away wrath” Proverbs 15:1

Ministering grace in a time of need.

That’s what I desire of this blog, my Facebook page, and Twitter comments.  Granted, I’ve strayed from those at times, but the Lord pulls me back.  Back to Grace. Back to Him.

With that in mind, I wish to share a post by Christian counselor and teacher, Ed Welch, which I pray will minister grace to someone today.  Whether at work, in church, your marriage, family, or in friendship, the Lord may call you to respond correctly to someone’s anger, justified or not.   The Proverbs and our Lord’s example gives us the Ultimate guideline on how to respond to situations of every kind, and this article elaborates on some of those.

Here’s an excerpt that spoke to me, but please check out the article in its entirety HERE:   How to Disarm an Angry Person | CCEF

Track the life of Jesus and you will see that he was never angry because of the insults and derision of the religious leaders. He never took the attacks of others personally. That’s what happens when you live to enhance the Father’s reputation, you empty yourself of any interest in your own personal honor and reputation, and you love other people more than they love you. That’s what happens when you know that your Father is the perfect judge, so you don’t have to be the judge pro tem.

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:23)

Divest yourself of all the things you desire and cherish for yourself. Do you want love? Toss it and keep only the necessities, such as the desire to love. Do you need respect and understanding? It will only be an encumbrance. Get rid of it.

Help for Haiti

What can I do?   TV headlines, news articles, and live video feeds keep us informed about what’s happening in Haiti.  But beyond keeping us informed, we also begin to feel helpless.   These actions hardly seem original, but are, nonetheless, necessary:  

  1. Pray.  Pray for the children.  Families.  Missionaries.  Safety for relief workers, our Marines, EMTs, etc.  Successful relief efforts.  Clean water.  Medical assistance.  For the gospel to take root in the hearts of the Haitian people. Life. 
  2. Give:   This may be more difficult for some.  But in Haiti, a little can go a long way.  $10 is a start.   Here’s some organizations experienced in getting help quickly to the  needy:   Compassion InternationalSamaritan’s PurseWorld Vision  
  3. Make it personal.  I don’t know anyone in Haiti.  But as I read missionary updates, prayer requests, blogs from Haiti, or faith-based  reports, the story becomes personal.  Names, needs, photos.   So, as I read, my spirit groans… in deeper, more effective intercession.
    Read/follow these sites to help make this devastation personal:    The Livesayhaiti Weblog          Missionary Flights International

 

HT:  The Gospel Coalition/Carrie Koens

A Monument of Grace – You!

“A monument of grace, a sinner saved by blood..”  John Kent, 1803

When I wrote earlier that I long to be a ‘monument of grace,’ I realized that such a declaration could sound prideful or be misunderstood.  On the contrary, given the context of the hymn and Scriptures, a monument of grace is not an invincible statue or unattainable standard.  Rather, as Paul David Tripp notes in his book Whiter than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy, a monument of grace is humbly

“realizing that my story of God having rescued me by his grace is a tool that God intends to use in the lives of others….I’m not teaching the person about grace..I am sharing my experience of grace.  People learn, not because I’ve opened the dictionary of grace, but because I’ve shown them the video of grace in operation. ” [1]

You, too, your story, your life, is a monument of grace to others.  What are you showing others in your life about the riches of God’s grace?  After confronted with his own sin, David was enlightened to the priceless, undeserved grace of God towards him, and said:

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.  Then I will teach transgressors your ways.”  Psalm 51:13

And in the New Testament we read,

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.”  Ephesians 1:7

so…..

“to me, the very least of saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ.”  Ephesians 3:8

 

Tripp continues that I/you,

 “have been called to a daily life of gospel transparency, where you’re ready, willing, and waiting to share your gratitude for the grace you’ve been given with someone who needs it just as much as you.” [1]


Today, humbly, gratefully, lovingly stand as a monument–a testimony–of God’s grace; once lost, now found;  blind, now seeing…to those around you who need precious, amazing grace, but don’t even know it.
 

 

[1] Paul David Tripp, Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy. Crossway Books. IL.  2008.  pg 72.

Who is My Neighbor? – 4

And Jesus was going about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.”  Matthew 4:23

“..and He went about doing good.” Acts 10:38

Jesus said, “Follow Me.”  What does this look like?  The verses above give us a start.  And John Stott elaborates further in his booklet, “Who is My Neighbor?” [1]:

‘He went about doing good.’ This is a beautiful description.  Jesus never did harm to anybody.  On the contrary, to everybody and in every circumstance he did positive good.

“He was not afraid to look human need in the face, in all its ugly reality.  And what He saw invariably moved Him to compassion,, and so to compassionate service.  Sometimes He spoke.  But his compassion never dissipated itself in words; it found expression in deeds.”  He saw, He felt, He acted.

“If, then, we are to resuce the concept of ‘doing good’–which Jesus both exemplified and commanded–from the scorn it has currently acquired, we shall have to rid oursleves of patronizing and self-righteous attiudes, and of a superficial ‘commitment without involvement’ mentality.  ‘Doing good’ must be the genuine expression of our love…love that is not sloppy or selfish sentimentality, but rather the sacrificing of ourselves to serve others constructively.

“It seems incontrovertible that if we are even to begin to follow the real Jesus, and to walk in His shoes, we must seize every opportunity to ‘do good.’ Our good works will show the genuineness of our love, and our love will show the genuineness of our faith!”

“..we have hear of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the brethren.”  Colossians 1:4

“..constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father.”  I Thess. 1:3

 

There’s so much more to be said regarding loving our neighbor, the who’s, what’s, how’s and when’s of it all.  Suffice it to say, we should Just Do It.

[1] John R.W.Stott, Who is My Neighbor? Inter-Varsity Press, London. 1976

Who is My Neighbor? – 3

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  But if any one has the world’s goods and see his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?  Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth.”   I John 3:16-18

Today I want to share more on how to love our neighbor, with quotes from John R. Stott’s booklet, Who is My Neighbor?  [1]:

Love, then is sacrificial service, giving oneself to serve others….The call to lay down our lives is not necessarily a summons to spectacular deeds of heroism (though some are called to this): it includes unspectacular (though not less heroic) deeds of service.   We can “lay down our lives’ when we give them freely in the service of others.  But where there is not giving nor serving, however loud our protestations to the contrary, there is no love.

“…With devastating force John applies his principle to the more affluent Christian.  He describes him as having two characteristics.  First, he ‘has the world’s goods,’ and second, he ‘sees his brother in need.’  This is the situation.  He ‘sees’ and he ‘has.’  He sees the need and has the wherewithal to meet it

“We know what Jesus did. He saw, he felt, he acted.  What about us?  If we don’t apply what we have to what we see, we are ‘closing our hearts’ against our needy brother….So, if His love is truly within us, it is bound to break out in positive action, in relating what we have to what we see…..The love of Christ prompts us to share with others both our material blessings and our spiritual riches.”

 “And beyond all these things, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”  Colossians 3:12-14

 

Tomorrow I’ll conclude this topic (maybe) with Scriptures and thoughts on Jesus’ example of love.

[1]  John R.W.Stott, Who is My Neighbor?  Inter-Varsity Press, London. 1976

Who is My Neighbor? – 2

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”  Galatians 5:13

I found a booklet in our little library from 1976, entitled “Who is My Neighbor,” [1] in which John R. Stott discusses the example Jesus gave of love, and specifically, the who, what, why, and how of loving our neighbor.  I’d like to post the entire thing here, but due to space and copyright limits, I really can’t.  So, I’ll just share a few excerpts over the course of several posts.

WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?

Stott:

“The victim [in the Good Samaritan] was just ‘a certain man,’ undistinguished by any characteristic except that he was a human being in urgent need.  The Good Samaritan did not know him, and in worldly terms was under no obligation to help him.  He probably belonged to a different race, rank, and religion.  BUT, his need, together with the Samaritan’s ability to meet his need, constituted him his neighbor.”

Jesus:

I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

“For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?  Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?  And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles [unbelievers] do the same?  Therefore, you are to perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect.”  Matthew 5:44-48

Stott:

“So, we must be ‘perfect’–that is, all-embracing in our love.”

 

 [1]  John R.W. Stott, Who is My Neighbor?  Inter-Varsity Press, London. 1975.

Earlier posts on this subject are under “Heroism of Love“, and “Who IS My Neighbor?”

Who IS My Neighbor?

“Love your neighbor.”


After my last post on loving our neighbor, I brainstormed the age-old question, Who IS my neighbor?” 

This question, from Luke 10:29, was originally posed to Jesus by a lawyer, who was “wishing to justify himself.”   [Some things never change 🙂 ]

The Greek word for neighbor comes from plesion, which means “the near.”  So a neighbor is anyone, everyone who is near:

Spouse
Children
Parents
Siblings
Other Family
Friends
Neighboring neighbors
Co-workers
Students
Professors
People at church
Strangers we walk past
The cashier, waitress, security guard, traffic cop, taxi driver we encounter
The homeless person we walk past, or try not to walk past
The immigrants, legal and illegal, that we notice each day

After Jesus shares a parable in response to the lawyer’s question (known to many as The Good Samaritan), Jesus asks,  “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?”

The lawyer responded, “The one who showed mercy toward him.”

Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”  

John Wesley commented on this Scripture, saying,

“‘Go and do the like manner’.  Let us go and do likewise, regarding every man as our neighbor who needs our assistance. Let us renounce that bigotry and party zeal which would contract our hearts into an insensibility for all the human race, but for a small number whose sentiments and practices are so much our own, that our love of them is but self love reflected!”

Everyone is our neighbor.

Matthew Henry drew a similar conclusion from Jesus’ instruction:

No one will ever love God and his neighbor with any measure of pure, spiritual love, who is not made a partaker of converting grace….It is lamentable to observe how selfishness governs all ranks; how many excuses men will make to avoid trouble or expense in relieving others.

“But the true Christian has the law of love written in his heart. The Spirit of Christ dwells in him; Christ’s image is renewed in his soul. The parable is a beautiful explanation of the law of loving our neighbor as ourselves, without regard to nation, party, or any other distinction…. The believer considers that Jesus (thus) loved him, and gave his life for him…and having shown him mercy, he bids him go and do likewise.  It is the duty of us all, in our places, and according to our ability to succor, help and relieve all that are in distress and necessity.” 

Everyone is our neighbor. 

Lord, help us to daily respond in sincere love and mercy to everyone You’ve placed in our lives, just as You’ve demonstrated unconditional kindness, compassion, mercy and love towards us!! 

Heroism of Love

“Love your neighbor.” 

A challenge to heroic love:

Love your neighbor.  Perhaps he rolls in riches, and you are poor, living in your little cottage side by side with his lordly mansion.  Every day you see his estates, his fine linen, and sumptuous banquets.  God has given him these gifts. Do not covet his wealth, and think no cruel thoughts concerning him.  Be content with your own lot, if you cannot better it.  Do not look on your neighbor and wish that he were as you.  Love him, and then you will not envy him.

“Perhaps, on the other hand, you are well off, and the poor lie near you. Do not be too proud to call them you neighbor.  Accept your responsibility to love them.  The world calls them inferiors.  In what are they inferior??  They are far more your equal than your inferiors, for God has made “of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth (Acts 17:26).  It is your coat that is better than theirs, but you are by no means better than they….

“But, perhaps you say ‘I cannot love my neighbor, because, for all I do for them, they return ingratitude and contempt.’  That leaves more room for the heroism of love.  Would you be a featherweight warrior, instead of bearing the rough fight of love?  He who dares the most will win the most.  If your path of love is rough, tread it boldly, still loving your neighbors through thick and thin.

“..if they are hard to please, do not seek to please them, but to please your Master.  Remember, if they spurn your love, your Master has not spurned it, and your actions are as acceptable to Him as if they had been acceptable to them.

“Love your neighbor, for in so doing, you are following the footsteps of Christ.”

C.H. Spurgeon, Morning by Morning