Tag Archive | Jesus

Love is greater than moral conscience

This post may seem out of character for me.  There are items in the news which I see differently from some of my conservative and Christian counterparts.  Usually I abstain from sharing my feelings on social or public media because, honestly, doing so rarely changes anything.  And that might be the case now, too, but I cannot keep silent this time.

In increasing numbers, Christian behaviour is at the forefront in the media, and to put it mildly, it is not perceived as loving. I am deeply grieved by how the “moral conscience” of some are driving people away from Christ, rather than drawing them near.

Christians—your actions are speaking louder than Jesus’ words.  How can those outside of Christ know his love if we refuse to serve them, stubbornly judge, or by our deeds, reject them?

Jesus called us to LOVE, His message was LOVE, and His ministry was and ever is LOVE.  I’m not going all new-age on you here. It’s just what Jesus said:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35).

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” Matthew 5:45-47

Christians are called to live above the law, not be excused by it Jesus said the answer to the law is fulfilled in this:

“Love the Lord you God with all your heart, soul, mind, and body, and your neighbor as yourself.” 

The apostle Paul called love, “the more excellent way.”

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He went on to say,

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”  1 Cor. 13:1-2

In a similar vein, the apostle James said we can talk about our faith until we’re blue in the face (well, not in those words), but if we don’t display loving actions, our faith will be empty, and our message, void:

“If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” James 3:15-17

Dear Christians, our faith is not expressed through anchoring our behaviours onto our “moral conscience”; rather, it is to be set into motion through loving deeds, untiring grace, relentless mercy, kindness, compassion, and, above all, humility!  Remember:

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

This leaves no room for pride, arrogance, or judgement. We need to humbly learn from our Lord who said that true greatness in God’s kingdom, is being a servant to all.

In the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan, two pious men walked past a man beat up by robbers.  A third man stopped and helped him in his need, a helper from a rejected culture, and someone that, under normal conditions, would never be regarded as a friend.  How does the story go??

Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Through love and mercy, we reflect God’s character, the very light and life of Christ:

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

That’s something legalism, rejection, and judgement can never do.

Believers, humbly live above the law, by going out of your way to show EVERYONE the same mercy, grace, and love that you have received.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  I John 4:9-11

Check out these two articles with similar sentiments, only better expressed:

Don’t Be Defined by What You’re Against

Bake for them Two

Alien with a Cause

“We don’t own culture, and we don’t rule it. We serve it with brokenhearted joy and longsuffering mercy, for the good of man and the glory of Jesus Christ.”

This quote, and my new, prayerful and heartfelt mission statement, is from an extremely relevant article by Dr. John Piper, even though it was written ten years ago.

I can barely stand listening or watching the news anymore.  I try to keep an eternal perspective of events through Scriptures, worship, prayer, and listening to other Christians’ worldview, such as Dr. Albert Mohler’s “The Briefing” podcasts.  But, I can relate to a guy who tweeted Dr. Mohler today:

“@albertmohler hey I had to stop listening to the briefing cause I was getting depressed at the state of our culture. Thoughts?”

Dr. Mohler replied:

“Glad to hear from you and hope you keep listening. God is on his throne and we must not despair. God is at work here and now.”

Dr. Mohler’s response and Dr. Piper’s article turn our focus to the Lord…but not entirely away from our culture.  Rather, in spite of upside-down world we find ourselves in, we need to view the present culture through the eyes of Jesus—the One who shows mercy, compassion, and gave His life for all, including those who scorned Him most:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36

Dr. Piper affirms,

The fact that Christians are exiles on the earth (1 Peter 2:11) does not mean that they don’t care what becomes of culture. But it does mean that they exert their influence as very happy, brokenhearted outsiders.

Why are we brokenhearted, when we’re called to be full of Joy?   He continues:

….our joy is a brokenhearted joy because human culture –- in every society –- dishonors Christ, glories in its shame, and is bent on self-destruction.

Along these lines, Wess Stafford of Compassion International, recently spoke about the meaning of “compassion.”  In his message, he said that we, like Jesus, are called to be “weeping warriors.”  He derived this term from the Latin and Greek words for compassion.  The former is compatior, or with suffering. That’s the weeping part.  We weep, groan, and suffer with the decline and sorrows of our present culture.

The Greek word embodies the fervor of emotion that rises up from other’s suffering, begging for change and action.  This compassion wants to stand between the woman and those who plan to stone her, to turn over the hypocritical tables in the church, rescue the abused, or find a home for the homeless.

Weeping Warriors.

So, with brokenhearted joy, may we walk in awareness of our indebtedness to God’s abundant grace towards ourselves and others; focus on God’s image stamped on every person; place our trust in His ultimate purpose; and make a difference in our world’s changing culture through tears, prayer, and action, for others’ good and God’s glory.

That is a cause worth living and, if need be, dying for.

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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A Song in the Night

“….‘Where is God my Maker who gives songs in the night, who teaches us more than he teaches the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky?’” Job 35:10, 11

Clouded moon

Christ’s death and resurrection is particularly dear to me this year, as our earthly celebration follows mere days after my sister-in-law passed away. Over the past four years, some of my posts documented Rebecca’s battle with cancer and requests for your prayers.  You shared in her victories and disappointments. Now she is gone–and it’s as difficult to write that as to believe it.

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” 

I Corinthians 15:56, 57

Becky wrote a song the night before she had a very difficult back surgery to remedy months of excruciating pain caused by an unforgiving tumor.  The song was put to music by the worship team at her church and played at her memorial service last week.  I may have a word or two wrong since I transcribed this from a shaky recording, but it deserves to be shared:

Becky’s Song in the Night

Jesus you are the bright and morning star

Illuminate our hearts and guide us where you are

Help us dear Lord in the shining light you send

Oh morning star, we love you, and we long for You

Jesus morning star, our lives in you made new

Jesus morning star, our lives in you made new!

~~

Chorus:

Praise the bright and Morning star

Praise his holy name

Praise the Master and the Saviour,

You won’t be the same

Praise Him, Morning star!

Praise Him, The bright and Morning star!

~~

Now as you rise in heavens glory, morning star

Help our hearts to rise up on your wings

Help us know the ways you made us free,

And let us see your beauty and your majesty!

~~

Praise the bright and Morning star

Praise his holy name

Praise the Master and the Saviour,

You won’t be the same

Praise Him, Morning star!

Praise Him, The bright and Morning star!

How amazing, that her song in the night focused entirely on her Morning Star!  Becky’s eyes were fixed on Jesus!

As we remember our Lord’s Passion, his suffering, pain and grief, may our songs in the night melt into praise in the morning, as we see Him, risen with power and glory, paving the way of Hope for our eternal future!

~~

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.   According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

And so we will be with the Lord forever.

I Thess. 4:13-17 

~

Little Moments of Grace

Six weeks into 2013.

How’s those resolutions going?  Perhaps at the cusp of the New Year, some of us were

reviewing the year,

regretting mistakes,

re-thinking goals,

and resolving to change..

But why do we keep repeating the pattern every year?

We long to make some dramatic difference in our lives, checkbooks, children, spouses, selves, homes, or whatever.  Or at least, I do.  I want that big “reveal” at the end of the year, or my lifetime, to show  visible improvement, growth, and purpose.  It’s taken me a long time to learn that life is not about the drama or applause.

Life is played out in the everyday moments, minutes, reactions, choices, and responses.

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Paul David Tripp discussed this in one of his recent articles:

“The character that was formed in those little moments is what shapes how you respond to the big moments of life.

What leads to significant personal change?

  • 10,000 moments of personal insight and conviction
  • 10,000 moments of humble submission
  • 10,000 moments of foolishness exposed and wisdom gained
  • 10,000 moments of sin confessed and sin forsaken
  • 10,000 moments of courageous faith
  • 10,000 choice points of obedience
  • 10,000 times of forsaking the kingdom of self and running toward the kingdom of God
  • 10,000 moments where we abandon worship of the creation and give ourselves to worship of the Creator.

And what makes all of this possible?

Relentless, transforming, little-moment grace….”

(From Paul Tripp Ministries, PaulTripp. com)

Oswald Chambers said much the same over 100 years ago in his famous devotional, My Utmost for His Highest :

“It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God: but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people, and this is not learned in five minutes”

So, even though it’s February, can we still do this?  Is it too late to turn little moments into blessings, the ordinary into the exceptional?

Pick a day, some odd day on the calendar, like February 10th, and choose to make your moments matter.  It’s not about lists of resolutions.   It’s about moments of choices.

Breathe a prayer.

Obey that still small voice.

Let a kind answer turn away a harsh word.

Forgive.

Little moments of grace….

weave a path to His glory and honour.

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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

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Poem, Linda Owen

Photos:  Hummingbird, Elaine Corneau

                Hands, Google Images

                All others, John Owen