Tag Archive | God’s Word

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~~~

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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.]

 

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

A Time for Everything

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Eccl. 3:1

After several months of intense activity and 2500 more miles on Trustee Toyota,  we arrived back at The Hollow and I aggresively set out to tackle a personal to-do list; as one can imagine, The Hollow is ever in want of care and upkeep.

The Hollow

We inherited a lovely herb garden when we bought our home 6 years ago. It is often a source of blessing, and less frequently, a curse.  Loads of herbs, fragrances, and enjoyment; but not without regular weeding and transplanting, and battling with the lemon balm which always wants to take over.

The Herb Garden

But today the Lord let me learn and enjoy a little blessing from it.  He gave me Rest.

Rosemary Clippings

These cuttings were leftover from the day I did the dirty, weeding and pruning work.

But the restful part was bundling them up.  Why?

Because, what else can one do while sorting through little sprigs, tossing the bad ones, gathering 12-15 fresh ones together, cutting twine just so, and tying the twine around each little bundles?  Not much, but…

Listen.

I listened to worship music, the birds singing, hummingbirds at our feeders, and other buzzing things.  And I listened to the Holy Spirit, reminding me how much more important my relationship is with Him, than being busy.

Rosemary sprigs, all cozy in the basket

All in all, it was a pretty productive day.

“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength….” Isaiah 30:15 NIV

“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.”  Eccl. 3:11 (NLT)

[Little disclaimer–these photos aren’t from John’s talented eye; instead, my eye and little HTC cellphone are the culprits.]

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

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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.

Christmas Carols Grace Notes – 2

[This article was first posted on Dec 13, 2010.  Sharing it again, because the song is That good. Blessings!]

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Is the world listening to the carols of the season, ignoring them, or simply apathetic to their content?

How much more intense could the gospel message be, than to declare the sufferings of Jesus through concrete visuals like “nails…spear…pierce…and Cross?” Yet that’s what this modest, lilting, 17th century Celtic melody proclaims with bold lyrics penned by William Chatterton Dix (1865).

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

What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and lamb are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

         Raise, raise a song on high,
         The virgin sings her lullaby.
         Joy, joy for Christ is born,
         The Babe, the Son of Mary.

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One reason the world doesn’t hear this gospel message is that many recording artists simply skip over the second stanza about Jesus’ suffering.   Perhaps they think the verse doesn’t lend itself to the joyful Christmas spirit.  Or maybe they don’t embrace its meaning..or the cross.

Thankfully, Third Day sings the entire song on their CD, Christmas Offerings.  I just uploaded their track of today’s carol in the music box so you can listen along, and worship, not just the Babe, but the Word made flesh and our King of Kings!

[Bebo Norman also sings a beautiful rendition of this, but, disappointedly, he omitted the crucial second stanza.  But I still love his testimony, voice and music, so I uploaded his version from the newly released CD, Christmas from the Realms of Glory (Extended Edition) . ]

Perfectly Weak

“For my strength is made perfect in weakness…”  2 Corinthians 12:9

[Travels, transitions, family times, grandparenting, border crossings, and more…my excuse for a big, bad case of blogger’s block.  But I can’t wait to share of God’s grace through all this…in between our routine days, like Titus 2sday!]

Last time we ‘met’ for Titus2sday, we were discussing sin, control and being out of control{!}  This sense of being out of control, whether in marriage, parenting, emotions, family matters, health, the work place, finances, or  ___ [fill in the blank], generally makes us feel pretty weak. Or perhaps, like me, perfectly weak!

But this awareness of our weakness brings us to a better place than perceived strength or control ever could—to pure reliance on Him.

These excerpts from Spurgeon (my fave) encourage us in our utter and perfect weakness:

Are you mourning over your own weakness?  Take courage, for there must be a consciousness of weakness before the Lord will give you a victory.

Your emptiness is but the preparation for your being filled, and your casting down is but the making ready for your lifting up.

In seasons of severe trial, the Christian has nothing on earth that he can trust in; therefore, he is compelled to cast himself on God alone.

There is no moment of our lives, however holy, in which we can do without His constant upholding.

~~~

I am SO weak.  I come to the Lord with empty hands…therefore…

“…I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me!”
2 Corinthians 12:9

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Dear Lord,  We are all so weak.  We rejoice in the day when our faith will be sight, and we shall be like him, for we shall see him as He is! (I John 3:2) But until then, our weakness weighs us down, it interferes with our relationships and daily lives.  We need you, Lord, we need Your strength to be made perfect in our weakness..whatever that looks like.  Help us let go of the controls, and trust in the power of Christ that dwells in us.  In His Strong Name, Amen.

One day late..

…on my Titus2sday post for the week! 

For a few weeks, I’m going to delve into something very touchy for us as women. Or at least, for this woman!

Control.  Or…

Before delving into a discussion, I thought the following verses might help lay some groundwork: 

 “The Lord is the stronghold of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?”  Psalm 27:1

“..your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”  Genesis 3:16

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

“Your kingdom come, Your will be done.”  Matt. 6:10

I know these seem like a mish-mash collection of verses, but I’m hopeful we can tie them together in a life-changing way that will bring glory to the Lord!  Yes, I’m optimistic! 

And perhaps, you could ask yourself these questions: 

What do these verses mean to you?

Where do you tend to look for security?

How does my kingdom tend to get in the way of God’s kingdom?

 

Some parting encouragement for the week:  This struggle to live for the Lord and not ourselves is not waged with our own feeble weapons.  We are SO weak.  We feel so alone in this battle.  But God’s Word comforts us  over and over again that He is with Us.  He is praying for us.  His strength is made perfect in our weakness.  His grace is greater.  His grace is enough…

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness!”  2 Corinthians 12:9

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It’s my deepest desire and prayer that these verses and questions will bring all of us to a greater and utter reliance on our relationship with the Lord, and away from our perceived strength, stamina, and control.  Looking forward to going deeper with you in His Word, next week!  Blessings!