Tag Archive | Bible

The N to the B to the F to the J.C. Word

I hate the N word.  The rage it contains, regardless of who says it or how it’s spoken, pierces my heart and make me want to throw up!  It is aimed to hurl hurt, harm, and ridicule.  Its intent is to make someone feel like less of a person than others.

And yet, Jesus said that if we call someone, “You Fool!” we are guilty of murder in our heart.   Fool?  Really?

“Fool” seems so tame compared with the variety of awful words we call each other, or even ourselves.  But that’s because Jesus, always, always aimed for the heart.

“For out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”

He knew if it wasn’t “Fool” it would be something else. It could be the N word, or the b word, or a whole collection of words connected with the F word somewhere or how.  There are so many creative ways to call someone a Fool.  How scary and dark the caverns where we mine words to tear down another person.

James, the brother of Jesus, shared this dilemma and disgust in his letter:

“…no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be!”  James 3:8-11

It should not be!

And that’s not all.

                                               Jesus Christ.

How did you read that?  If I put an exclamation point after it, would it change the meaning?

Jesus Christ is the name of my Lord and Saviour, God’s precious Son, the only mediator between God and man, my Creator, Beloved redeemer, the one in whom I place all my hopes and fears, and very life.

Yet, JC is written into movie and television scripts with the same frequency as the f or gd or the b word.  And even if someone doesn’t believe he was God or “all that,” why do they yell his name when their finger gets slammed in the car door?

Jesus Christ is daily mocked through the slanderous use of his name.  So how does He feel about that? Is he surprised?

Not really.  Nothing surprises Him, especially not our sordid behavior or our ridiculous, slanderous words.  In fact, the Psalmist actually predicted it ages ago:

“When I put on sackcloth, people make sport of me. Those who sit at the gate mock me, and I am the song of the drunkards.” Psalm 69: 12

So Jesus knew his name would be used maliciously.  But it doesn’t change who He is.

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth”  Philippians 2:9-10

While for some, his name is a curse word on their lips, for others—for me—Jesus is the name above all names.   And someday, no matter how we say it now, we will all bow in hushed reverence at His name.

~~~

Back to the heart.

Is JC a mockery word for you?   If he was just a man, why His name?

Emotions, words, actions.   Where will our words take us?  What do they say about us?

~~~

Parting thoughts from Jesus Christ himself:

“A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.”  Matthew 12:35-37

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To the Breathing: Choose Life!

Sudden Deaths.  Three people I knew have died suddenly this year.  Two were 51 years old, one was only 28.  One day they were alive and well, the next day, gone.  As just 1 person in a big world, my experience is reflected a 1000 times over around the globe.  People meeting death and their Creator in the blink of an eye.

None of us can make sense of death, except that it’s something we all, ultimately, must face.  But we usually think we’ll have some preparation for it, time to contemplate our beliefs, settle our affairs, say some last meaningful words to our loved ones…  Yet, that’s not really what plays out for everyone.

So, in the face of our frail brevity, I encourage the breathing, my dear friends and family, to take Today seriously.  Today is all we have.

Love one another.  Be kind, compassionate, forgive, show mercy, share your blessings with the poor.

And most importantly, please don’t neglect what Christ has done for you.  Believe and receive His gift of Grace.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3”16

Reflect and turn to “God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.”  I Timothy 2:4-6

If I had but one day, this is the most important thing I could pass on. This life is brief, and, eternity is, well…forever 🙂

So, today, choose your eternity, by choosing Christ.

Today, choose life.

Because I love all of you…

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Creation Speaks

Creation Speaks

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.  Romans 1:20

Happy Hummer

Dear young man, who admires me with wonder
Who loves the streams and hills,
I, creation, know our sculptor
Who lifts me from this sodden earth
and carries me from flower to fleur.

My handiwork is fully His
Made for your delight;
to admire, photograph,
or stand in awe,
to pause and merely sigh.

Fearfully and wonderfully made

Yet, I creation, pale to you,
birthed, eternal soul
You, with searching heart and mind
Gentle spirit, good and kind
You, for whom He died.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19:1

I, creation, certainly wonder
Why man rages ‘til day is done
But more, I grieve and groan and long
To speak through my unspoken song
Of our Creator’s love..

…the engraved signature of the artist’s Son.

Engraved Love

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes on Him will not perish but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Poem, Linda Owen

Photos:  Hummingbird, Elaine Corneau

                Hands, Google Images

                All others, John Owen

Jesus, My Prize

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” 
I Cor. 9: 24-25

Wow, it’s been quite a work out, I am completely out of breath, and I need some serious recup time….from all the Olympics we’ve been watching!

Along with the sporting events, I really love the personal stories that chart the courageous journeys of various athletes:  each story is different, but the similarities are noteworthy—their road to the Olympics was not easy, filled with intense training, focus, sacrifices, hurdles (literal and figurative), races won and lost, aches, pains, and sheer exhaustion.

A little Citi commercial captures the discipline unseen to the cheering crowds:

“Take a day off? I can’t take a morning off.”

 “I haven’t ordered dessert in two years.”

 “I haven’t watched TV in months.”

And I wonder why I’m no Olympian 🙂

But I am in a race. And God’s Word reminds me that I’m pressing on for a prize much greater than a gold medal, of more value than huge commercial endorsements, and more enduring than world fame.

Jesus, my Redeemer and Saviour, is my Prize.

“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:12

His worth is beyond compare and His value, priceless.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16, 17

No fireworks, TV coverage, or anthems play as we press on to Him. But, hey, we do have a cheering squad!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

If we falter, stumble, or lose ground along the way, we have a loving Father who will pick us up and carry us across the finish line.

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy….” Jude 24

 “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

 My favourite part?  There are no losers! Everyone in Christ wins!

“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8

And finally, there is no room for pride in this race. Humility is the winning characteristic.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” I Peter 5:6

The journey of a Christian is not easy.  It is a lifelong,uphill climb; often met with more jeers than cheers.  And it requires as much diligence and discipline as we see demonstrated in the most inspiring of Olympians.

Please, join me, in the challenge, so we can encourage each other as we…

“….press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:14

Too Busy Being Me

Amidst this sad consciousness of imperfection, here is comfort for you–you are “perfect in Christ Jesus.”  ~ Spurgeon

I am so imperfect.  And quite the imperfect blogger.  I’ve been terribly sporadic this year!  So, thought it time to lay out all my excuses and explain why I’ve been less-than-regular with writing and encouragement.

My husband has often says of himself, “It’s a full-time job just being me.”

And so with Linda….I’ve been too busy being me.

Being me, as any beloved child, is about partaking in God’s daily discipline and grace.  Discipline, because I need it so much, and truly deserve it.  Grace, well, because I need it so much, and don’t deserve it.

And being me has felt a bit like Bilbo Baggins, who said he felt “thin, sort of stretched, like butter, scraped over too much bread.”

Stretched, but content…

.

~~Living in Ottawa, but preparing to leave for our “other” home, building on relationships while facing goodbyes, being served by the very people I seek to serve, tutoring and plugging along with my degree, surprisingly chosen for the “novel” task of ghostwriting,  and most recently, selected to be a contributing author for Regent University’s new blog.

~~A grateful wife of 36 years to a lovely, deep man, with an oft broken, contrite, yet humorous spirit!

~~Always a mom, though my daughters are grown and don’t live anywhere nearby.   But I’m a mom, and thankfully, ever will be!

~~A grandma to two precious little ones, with another on the way!  When I’m with them, I can’t imagine being away.  And when I’m away→→I skype!!

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~~An only, beloved child to my sweet mom, and this year, planning her 80th birthday celebration and reunion! How priceless is that?!

Being me may keep me from blogging regularly, but may it never keep me from daily seeking the Lord, leaning on and learning of His unfailing love and surpassing mercy.

I just pray that me being me won’t get in the way of

Him being Him,

in me,

for

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

~~~

Maybe you could share how you maintain blogging and other responsibilities, while still being you?

Starting February off on a Good Note

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;   His mercies never come to an end;  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”        Lamentations 3:22, 23 (ESV)

I haven’t shared any new songs for awhile, so today offers as good a reason as any to post a new one.   The lyrics for Have Mercy on Me are below, and the graceful melody is in the Music Box.  If you like the song, there are a lot more on the album, The Gathering, available at Amazon or Sovereign Grace Music (I get no absolutely no profit from them 🙂 )  Blessings!!

Have Mercy on Me

I am a sinner; You’re blameless,

Lord My sins against You can’t be ignored

They will be punished, I know they must

Your law demands it, for You are just.

If You would count everything that I’ve done wrong

Who could stand? But there’s forgiveness with You, God!

~~

Chorus

Have mercy on me, have mercy on me

A broken and a contrite heart You won’t turn away

Have mercy on me, have mercy on me

Because of Your steadfast love.

~~

Father of mercy, You gave Your Son

To make atonement for wrongs I have done

What You required,  Jesus fulfilled

I don’t deserve it—I never will! *

~~

We love and worship you today, Dear Father, for the new mercies you have in store for us, today, this month, this year.  Each morning we awake to a loving Father who desires good for us.  Each evening we can sleep well, knowing you never sleep, keeping a watchful eye over your children.   Through such comfort, I hope and pray that we can trust you more. Why do we draw away, why do we not run to you?  Help us to lean on you with absolute trust and reliance.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

~~

from The Gathering: Live from WorshipGod11.  Music and words by Pat Sczebel and Dale Bischof © 2011 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP)/Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)

Some thoughts on Anger

“Everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”     James 1:19, 20

We are to take extreme CARE with the emotion of anger.  I’ve heard it’s okay to be angry, because after all, the Word says “Be angry and don’t sin.”  But I find there’s quite a blurry line in my life between anger and sin, one I can’t see very well, so perhaps I should avoid that contested boundary if at all possible.

Jonah offers an interesting contrast between man’s anger and the Lord’s.  One is quick.  The other, slow.

But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry.

He prayed to the Lord, “O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

But the Lord replied, “Have you any right to be angry?”

Jonah also illustrates the great chasm between our anger and God’s forgiveness.  Jonah gets angry over a plant dying!  Yet, for the life of him, he can’t grasp God’s mercy towards the 120,000 people (and their cattle) He spares due to their sincere repentance!

He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?” “I do,” he said. “I am angry enough to die.”

But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”

In the book of Job we read, that even when we feel sick and tormented, a rash and angry response will undoubtedly lead to sin. “Beware that wrath does not entice you to scoffing” (Job 36:18).

However, God’s slowness to anger always results in compassionate redemption:

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.

He will not always strive with us,  nor will He keep His anger forever.

He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.

Psalm 103:8-13

And finally, our anger often usually leads to unforgiveness.  Jesus is pretty clear how he feels about that in his parable on the unforgiving servant:

“Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?”  Matthew 18:33

Ultimately, humans have a bad track record with anger.  We are encouraged to put it aside, along with all the junk it creates in our minds (and bodies).  So….

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

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

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

Ephesians 4:29-32

~~~

Dear Lord, Help us to have mercy on others as you have had towards us.  Help us to forgive as we’ve been forgiven, and love as You have loved.  Only then can we experience release from the burden of anger, draw others to You, and accomplish Your redemptive purpose.  You are so merciful, Lord.  Amen.

 

P.S.  A little ♪ note on mercy can be heard in the Music Box above.  It’s a new song by Sovereign Grace Music called, Have Mercy on Me.  You can listen on this site, and dowload at Amazon.com or Sov Grace’s website.

Even better…

Here’s a little Post Script to What’s Your ___ for 2012?

The Psalmist reminds us that no matter what our goals, longings, or desires are, there is something Better!

“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.”  Psalm 63:1-3

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” Psalm 84:10

 

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Assurance for the Journey

Someone may have made this point already, but my husband says that each day is a lifetime.  We wake up/are born, we move through the day/live, and go to sleep at night (sometimes)/a mini-death.  So resolutions shouldn’t be limited to New Years, birthdays, anniversaries, etc;  everyday we should resolve to surrender to the Lord, and trust His guidance… moment by moment.  God’s promises are for each day (give us this day..), so too, should be our reliance and trust.

Spurgeon offers this assurance for today’s Journey, and every Today:

And the LORD shall guide thee continually. ~ Isaiah 58:11

“The Lord shall guide thee.” Not an angel, but JEHOVAH shall guide  thee. He said He would not go through the wilderness before His people, an angel  should go before them to lead them in the way; but Moses said, “If Thy  presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.” Christian, God has not left you  in your earthly pilgrimage to an angel’s guidance: He Himself leads the van. [yes, he said ‘van’ :-)]

 You  may not see the cloudy, fiery pillar, but Jehovah will never forsake you. Notice  the word shall–“The Lord shall guide thee.” How certain this makes it!  How sure it is that God will not forsake us! His precious “shalls” and “wills”  are better than men’s oaths. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

Then  observe the adverb continually. We are not merely to be guided sometimes,  but we are to have a perpetual monitor; not occasionally to be left to our own  understanding, and so to wander, but we are continually to hear the guiding  voice of the Great Shepherd; and if we follow close at His heels, we shall not  err, but be led by a right way to a city to dwell in.

If you have to change your  position in life; if you have to emigrate to distant shores; if it should happen  that you are cast into poverty, or uplifted suddenly into a more responsible position than the one you now occupy; if you are thrown among strangers, or cast  among foes, yet tremble not, for “the Lord shall guide thee continually.”

There  are no dilemmas out of which you shall not be delivered if you live near to God,  and your heart be kept warm with holy love. He goes not amiss who goes in the  company of God. Like Enoch, walk with God, and you cannot mistake your road. You  have infallible wisdom to direct you, immutable love to comfort you, and eternal  power to defend you. “Jehovah”–mark the word–“Jehovah shall guide thee  continually.

~~~

Dear Father and loving Guide, Thank you for the assurance of your Presence and the promises you give.   Help me to trust you more.  “Trust in the Lord with all you heart, lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.”  I’m so blessed to be your child, and I trust you as my loving Father.  In your son’s precious name, Jesus, Amen. 

~~~

Enlarge My Life

“How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it.”  G.K. Chesterton,  Orthodoxy

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”  John 3:30 

The Season is picking up speed, rushing forward with frenzy and tension; we’re being constantly reminded of gifts we forgot to buy or people we forgot to write; we’re facing difficulties, sorrow or grief in stark contradiction to festivities around us; the checkbook is empty; good intentions fall flat.  Our failing self seems to loom larger, while meaningful life grows smaller.

I’m not sure how you handle any of this, but the Lord keeps calling me to quiet my soul, trust His care, and turn my focus back to Him.  But since that all sounds a bit abstract, I’ve come up with a few concrete ways for Him to increase, and me to decrease:

1.  Rest and recall:

Os Guiness wrote in Long Journey Home,

The decisive part of our seeking is not our human ascent to God, but His descent to us.  Without God’s descent, there is no human ascent.

We keep trying and trying to ascend to some performance mark.  That mark is different for each of us–it could range anywhere from how soon we finish the gift shopping, to how well we put on a smile in the midst of deep, deep pain or grief.  But it’s not about making the mark, performing, ascending. This Season, and everyday of the year, is ALL about the Love the Father demonstrated to us, while we were yet clueless (my words).  He Gave entirely.  We receive, entirely.  He did Everything.  We can do nothing.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.  2 Corinthians 8:9

2.  Worship:

What other season of the year do stores and public venues inadvertently pipe songs of worship and praise to the Newborn King?  [Though, they’re becoming less prevalent due to the growing secularization of Christmas.]

Listen to the words.  Fill your car, home, cubical, iPod, or kitchen with songs of angels.  Join shepherds and kings, rich and poor, old and young, in the magnificent Wonder of all that is Christmas!  What joy we miss if we fail to truly hear and rejoice aloud that A Child is Born, God and Sinner are Reconciled,  the Desire of Nations has come, God with man is now residing, Born that man no more may die, Glories stream from heaven afar, King of Kings salvation brings, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn! 

If you lack music in your world, you can find some in my Music Box, which has a broad mix of Christmas and other worship songs.  Both iTunes and Amazon have loads of Christian music artists who praise our Lord with new songs and old!  Try out Folk Angel, Keith and Kristyn Getty, and David Crowder Band, for some new takes on the old faithfuls.

3.  Give, give, give:

     Give praise to the Lord,

                           give yourself,

                                                give to the poor!

Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! Psalm 29:2

Worship is a gift to the Lord Jesus, whose Birth we celebrate, whose advent, we require.

Give.  We can give kindness, gentleness, goodness, compassion, and understanding.  A smile, a tear, a note of thanks, a hug.  A prayer.

Something surreal and unexplainable happens in our heart and soul, the grief and sorrow fade just a bit, whenever we give our time, attention, or God-given blessings to someone with less   May the Lord open our eyes to our “neighbor,” the lonely, unloved, the poor, near or far, or anyone He brings our way.

And we can give easily, anonymously, and practically to those who suffer most–the hungry, oppressed, needy, abused or persecuted.  A little of our “mortal wealth” can bring great gladness and joy!

Here are a few ‘giving’ websites which help enlarge my life, while making my selfish self a bit smaller:

http://www.samaritanspurse.org/

http://www.compassion.com/

http://donate.worldvision.org/OA_HTML/xxwv2ibeCCtpSctDspRte.jsp?lpos=sponsor-a-child_top_img_gift_catalog&go=gift&&section=10389

http://www.christianfreedom.org/

http://freesetglobal.com/usa/home-USA.html

[And a big thanks to Beth Stone who shared the last two suggestions on her website!  Thank you Beth!]

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Dear Lord and Father, Thank you for all your blessings, great and small.  Help me to decrease, and You to increase in my little “kingdom of one.”  Enlarge my life, to see beyond me, beyond the present, to people who need you here and now, and forever.   Above all, help me not to be ashamed of Jesus Christ, who is the Hope of this Season and every day, the only way, truth, and life. Proclaim Him through my life, worship and giving.  In His eternal name, Amen.

~~~~~~