Tag Archive | mercy

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

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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Forty years and a lifetime ago…

“No,” I said apologetically, “I wasn’t at Woodstock.”

My girls seemed disappointed that I didn’t take part in the iconic festival of my day.  And I felt a tinge of regret, too, because it seemed I missed out on a major identification point with my generation.

But God did one better.  He sent me to a festival of eternal proportions.

Explo ’72

Exactly 40 years ago today, as 80,000 candlelights flickered across the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas, the Lord filled my heart with His light.  “It only takes a spark….”

Candles across the Crowd

What an awesome week!! Just six days after my high school graduation, the Lord set favourable boundaries around my future, by sealing my will in His.  And that one day made all the difference in the next forty years, and eternity, for me.

The days before that amazing night were filled with seminars, street evangelism, and some exceedingly convicting teaching on sex and purity by Josh McDowell.  And then there was the music–Johnny Cash, Larry Norman, Love Song, Andre Crouch and the Disciples, Randy Matthews, Children of the Day, and many others!  The evenings were filled with a call to follow Jesus.  On June 15th, candles were distributed to a Bowl full of young people, while Dr. Billy Graham spoke:

“I am asking you to light a candle…and we will start a spiritual fire here tonight that could sweep the world.”

The entire stadium glowed with candlelight.  We can’t really know, and only eternity will be able to reveal how much the world may have been affected by that evening.  But I know this…I changed.   It was the culmination of a mother’s prayers and the beginning of a new life in Christ.

As much as that one day changed the course of my life, it cannot be isolated from everything that took place prior to that time.  My earliest memories are of my mom reading the Bible to me every night before bedtime.  She also made me watch every single Billy Graham Crusade, go to church, Sunday School, and behind the scenes, prayed for me daily!

And, as anyone knows who has read about Moses’ forty years in the wilderness, Israel’s forty years of wandering in the desert, or David’s forty year reign, there was much more that needed to be worked out in my life after my initial surrender to the Lord–much more!

For the first several months following that momentous day, I probably sinned more than I did in the 17 years prior!!  What a wreck, as I grappled to hold onto my will, my desires, and the future I thought I wanted for myself!  A rigorous tug-of-war raged in my mind and almost took away all God had in store for me.

But, God’s grace is greater.  He had new mercies waiting for me every morning.  He guided me through decisions, 36 years of marriage, raising children, homeschooling, serving  20 years in the military, and too many other things to recount here.  He has been, is, and always will be, FAITHFUL.  That is my favourite characteristic of God!  I can truly sing with the heavenly host, Great is Thy Faithfulness!!

That day and the thousands since, constantly reveal His love to me, over and over and over again, through the Cross of Jesus, the Word of God, and the gentle wooing of His Holy Spirit.  There is no other place I would rather be than in Him.

I feel blessed and privileged to have been part of something much deeper and greater than Woodstock.   Explo 72 was a place in time where God stepped in and turned a remnant of young people to Him; He ignited a generation to serve Him around the world, and stirred up wave upon wave of new music and praise to glorify His name among the Nations!

I used to tell my daughters that sometimes a very simple decision could potentially be a life-changer.  Reaching out to the “new kid” at school, deciding NOT to go a party, or choosing TO go somewhere else..taking the road a little less travelled.

My life changed in 1972 when I decided to join our youth group on their journey to Dallas, Texas.

Yeah, Woodstock made quite an impact on my generation.

But Explo 72 changed us for eternity.

Life Magazine wrote about it.

And there was even a little book about it.

But in case you haven’t heard of Explo 72, you can read what Wiki says about it HERE!

It would take a book and a village to write about my forty year journey with the Lord.  Suffice it to say,

“Whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:7-11, 14

Here’s a few YouTube videos created from The Jesus Explosion record album (yes, the vinyl product) recorded Live at Explo 72.

Randy Matthews:  Didn’t He

Larry Norman: Sweet, Sweet Song of Salvation

Johnny Cash:  I See Men as Trees Walkin

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What decision is God asking of you today that might make the difference of a lifetime for you–or someone else?

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!

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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.

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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! *

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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

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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

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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.

Scales of Suffering?

Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD; Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
Psalm 30:1

Do you think God won’t help you find your keys because it’s not a big enough concern?  There are more important things to Him, such as feeding the poor, defeating the Taliban, hovering over cancer wards, or preparing the world for Jesus’ return, right?  So why would He bother to help find those keys?

Or maybe, when a migraine, cold, fever, or a yucky flu bug brings you down,  do you silently doubt that God will answer your prayer for healing, because, after all, “it’s not cancer”?

If so, welcome to my world!

I constantly gauge my needs, pain, or “suffering” by other’s.  In fact, I even had a hard time writing the word “suffering” because I don’t really think I know what it is—in comparison to rest of the world.  If you’re like me, you may be encouraged by reading this article, No More Minimizing Pain, by Ed Welch of Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF):

“There is no suffering gauge in Scripture, as if being burned at the stake scores a 100, Stage IV cancer is an 85, a broken friendship is a 50 and uncomfortable shoes are a 5.  If there were such a system, a person whose suffering topped out at 80 would have to defer to the one who measures 81.   The one with the less severe suffering would have to suffer in silence. He or she would have no right to seek the comfort of others or God.  To do so would be hogging time that could be better used by more qualified sufferers.  
Dr. Ed Welch, CCEF

I wish I had written this!  But I couldn’t, because I live in the comparison world of meters, gauges, and deference.  I question if my suffering is even on the charts!! Maybe a .003 on the scale of world-wide problems.  Those lost keys, forget about them.  And no hope for my headache as long as a thousands of parents are visiting their children in Pediatric Cancer wards.  But, Dr. Welch goes on to say,

“The danger in establishing a pecking order within suffering is that you feel authorized to call out to the Lord when things are really bad, but you remain isolated and silent if your pain is below the national average.”

So the biggest fault, or sin, of minimizing pain and suffering is that it keeps us from calling on the Lord. And, for me, this attitude creates a dangerously false god, who doesn’t want me to bother Him unless it’s really Bad…somewhere between 75-100.

What a dreadful trap to fall into, even though it appears rather noble.  It reveals my lack of understanding of God’s love and unbounded mercy.

“..when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.”
2 Corinthians 10:12

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The entire article may be found HERE.   Thank you, Dr. Welch!