Tag Archive | God

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?

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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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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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A Psalm for this New Year

 In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. 

Psalm 139:1

Psalm 139 is where I head for New Years, birthdays, and any day I need a reminder that someone Greater than I is ordering my life!

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Psalm 139 

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!

You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.

You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.

Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 

 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 

 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 

 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 

 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 

 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 

 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.a Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

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.

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me!

They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain!b

Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?

I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!

And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

~~~

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.

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Grace in the Details

A little change of pace for this week.  Taking time to focus on our Lord, through creation, communion and the Cross.

Creation:

John said that these butterflies literally posed for the camera!  What glorious detail!

So often we are overwhelmed by the big and grand ways the Lord displays His grace towards us.  But sometimes, the tiniest of flowers, a seed, or an insect, may speak of God’s wonder in a different way.  May we learn that His love, compassion, and grace towards us is also found in the details.

Love exiles fear

“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”  I John 4:18 (NLT)

“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!” Psalm 139:17

“Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”  I Peter 5:7

Perfect Love casts out all Fear!  That’s is the WHOLE reason we don’t need to fear! And a good word for us on Fearless Friday!   As we direct our minds towards His love, our fears will blur. One version of the Bible says, our fears will be Banished!!

What does expelling or banishing fear really mean?  Here’s a few choice words:

deport, discard, dismiss, dispel, drive away, eject, eliminate, eradicate, evict, exclude, exile, extradite, get rid of, isolate, oust, outlaw, remove, rusticate, sequester, shake off, shut out

So perfect love exiles, eliminates, gets rid of…all fear. These words suggest a near-annihilation of something, placing it beyond reach or grasp.  We’re often unwilling to release the strangle-hold we have on our fears, because we still doubt His love.   So, perhaps this excerpt from Spurgeon will give a glimpse into God’s perfect love..for us:

God is always thinking upon us, never turns aside His mind from us, has us always before His eyes…

His thoughts area always tender, loving , wise  prudent, far-reaching and they bring to us countless benefits.

In all our wonderings, the watchful glance of the Eternal Watcher is evermore fixed upon us–we never roam beyond the Shepherd’s eye.  In our sorrows He observes us incessantly, and not a pang escapes Him; in our toils He marks all our weariness, and writes in His book all the struggles of His faithful ones.

The thoughts of the Lord encompass us in all our paths, and penetrate the innermost region of our being.  Not a nerve or tissue, valve or vessel, of our bodily organization is uncared for; all the littles of our little world are thought upon by the great God.

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I really enjoy finding songs that amplify our discussion, and today, this one by Annie Herring and Matthew Ward speak perfectly of perfect love:

Apple of His Eye
Glimpses CD

He’s the one who loves you more than you will ever know
He’s the one who dries the tears you cry.
He has formed your very soul and knows your every need
He will guide you through your darkest night.

Chorus

For you still carry inside you His light that never dies
And you are always before him
The apple of His eye.

He’s the one who holds you close when no one will come near
The one who sees what no one else can see.
He’s the one who keeps your burden light enough to bear
For He will be your strength when you are weak.

Nothing in this world could ever keep His love from you
And He gave His life to see this promise through.

He’s the one who loves you more  than you will ever know
And He has counted every tear you’ve cried.
He will take your tear-stained heart and make it light as snow
And He’ll become your wings so you can fly.

For you still carry inside you His light that never dies
And you are always before Him,
The apple of His eye!

~~~

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are!  I John 3:1

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

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. I John 4:10

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Dear Father, Help us to focus on your Love today, not our Fear. Help us to release the grasp we have on our fears, worries, cares and anxieties.  Exile, banish our fears far from us, by filling our minds and hearts with the knowledge and awareness of your perfect love…love that hung on a cross in our place.  Love that knows us better than we know ourselves.  Thank you!  In Love’s Name, Jesus, Amen.

~~~

[Note:  I regret that I can’t upload an audio version of this beautiful Annie Herring song presently.]

Sin in Control

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.”      Psalm 51:4

I’m not a theologian, I don’t read Hebrew or Greek, and I’m not a subject-matter expert about much of anything. There.

But sometimes I’m burdened about something so much, that I’m compelled to step out of my comfort zone (as a warm-fuzzy encourager), and share my heart. It’s my sincerest prayer that through today’s post and future Titus2sdays, you may grow in the Lord, pleasing Him in every respect, and His name would be glorified.

Even though it’s quite clear that the desire of  human nature is to control and be in control, I think women struggle the most with this battle. I  know—I am one.

Genesis 3:16 reminds us why we’re so encumbered:

To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

When boundaries are set, we instantly to try to step over them, climb under them, or reason our way around them.  The apostle Paul discusses this inclination extensively in Romans 7.  Specifically, verse 7 says,

For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”

So, just as the Word revealed Paul’s coveting as sin, we too face an uncomfortable fact:  Our desire for control is sin. We don’t want to be ‘ruled’ by anyone, God or man.  Perhaps because we don’t trust others to make the right decisions on our behalf.  Or, we don’t trust God.  And that equates to sin.

But desiring to control is more than not trusting God, it’s attempting to be God.  One of my favourite authors, Paul D. Tripp, discusses this dilemma:

  • The desire to be God rather than to serve God lies at the bottom of every sin that anyone has ever committed…. Sin is rooted in my desire to live for me. [1]
  • Self-sovereignty is the dream of every sinner. It’s hard for us to trust ourselves to the wisdom, power, and control of another. We want to write our own drama, and we want to be the central character of the story. But the spiritual reality of the universe is that we are not authors of our own story. Our story is a part of a larger story written by the Lord. In this story we are never on center stage. That is a position to be occupied by the Lord alone. [2]
  • You and I can change no one. Ultimately, personal change comes from only one source: the gracious act of a powerful God. When people try to change one another, typically the focus is on behaviour. Yet behaviour is not really the issue…the root problem is the heart. When we attempt to do God’s job and change someone’s heart, we only cause frustration to ourselves and pain to the other person. [3]

So try to control others according to our limited wisdom or for our benefit, we become self-serving, we hurt others, and, we’re sinning against God.

“Against You only, I have sinned.”

Thankfully, the Lord is gracious. He is compassionate, wise, understanding, and above all, forgiving. He is able to help us. We can and must depend entirely on Him, yielding our hearts and minds to His control.

What a wretched woman I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!!  Romans 7:24

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Let’s pray together about this during the week and ask ourselves:

Where do I need the grace of God to say no to the temptation to step over God’s boundaries and control?

How have I sinned against the Lord by trying to control others?

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Dear Lord, Thank you for the victory we have through Christ! We are incapable of living out this Christian life apart from you.  Sometimes it’s so difficult, we feel like quitting. Please meet us first thing each morning and all day long, with your mercy and grace, to enable us to relinquish our behaviours, thoughts, and words to You. Your kingdom come, Your will be done…not ours. In Jesus’ powerful name, Amen

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[1]  Whiter than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy

[2]  A Shelter in A Time of Storm: Meditations on God and Trouble

[3]  Broken-Down House

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Join us next Titus 2sday for more discussion on control, trust, and the help available through Jesus!

In Pictures

“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”     1 Thessalonians 5:18
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My thankful list in photos, on this Meditative Monday:
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(Beth custom-made this beautiful purse for me, then packaged it in my favourite wrap–brown-paper tied up with string!  🙂

The Perfect Purse, by Beth Stone

 

 

52-54.  My grandma’s dishes :-), a great deal on this second-hand china cabinet, and one of my current and highly recommended reads, Feminine Appeal, by Carolyn Mahaney

A few of my favourite things

 

 

55.  John’s laughter and “temp” dog (enjoyment w/out the responsibility)

John with our "Temp" Dog

 

 

56.  The intricacies of a flower

A closer look

Tulip Details

 

 

57.  The deer that come to our yard (before ‘temp’ dogs chase them away)

One of Many

 

 

58. The help, awesome talent, and friendship of our brother-in-law, Harold

Carpenter's Hands

He turned this…..

Before...

Into this…

After....and more to come!

And he continues to work hard (between a much-needed break)!

John and Harold (aka The Finisher)

 

 

This last item for today will get a post of its own soon….
60.  Our peaceful hollow, in His hands…

Ahhh

Roof with a View

 

 

Join me and others here in giving thanks to the Lord for ALL His unspeakable gifts: