John 10:17-18 (The Trade)

Rene Yoshi:

A fantastic analogy! Thank you, Jesus!

Originally posted on The River Walk:

The Trade Edit

“The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” (John 10:17-18)

Read: 2 Kings 20:1-19, 2 Chronicles 32:24-31, Isaiah 38:1 – 39:8, 

Relate: A team of eight men, Army Rangers, are sent out on what basically amounts to a suicide mission to rescue one soldier. Captain Miller and his team are some of the army’s best. The one soldier they are sent to retrieve hasn’t really done anything. His only value is in the fact that his three brothers all died on the same day and the army wanted to be able send at least one child back to mommy. Seriously. That’s it…

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Unconditional Love and Grace Are Not Dirty Words

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A few weeks ago I heard a preacher talk about God’s unconditional love as if it was a dirty word. On another occasion, an old friend spoke of grace with equal disdain. I understand where they were coming from. One was coming from an attitude of legalism, while the other was grieving over grace being taken for granted and used as a license to sin. I am grateful that the pastors and teachers at the church I attend preach about God’s unconditional love and grace in a balanced way and without contempt.

 My daughter and I were discussing how people see truths differently depending on where they are in life and through which lens they are looking. For example, a person who truly recognizes his or her own utter depravity and the amazing grace and unconditional love of God, tends to really understand grace and is able to be gracious toward others. They see grace in a very positive way. Those who tend toward legalism and feel justified because they are able to keep certain commandments or live what they consider to be a good Christian life, tend to view unconditional love and grace with less value and speak contemptuously about churches that emphasize God’s love and grace. It is reminiscent of what Jesus said to Simon, the Pharisee, when he scorned Jesus for allowing a prostitute to wipe His feet with her hair. Jesus said:

“Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gave me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but his woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, her sins which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” (Luke 7:36-50)

The preacher I heard also mentioned visiting a fellow Christian, and upon finding out he had beer in his refrigerator, condemned him and questioned whether or not the man was a true Christian. Even if the man was an alcoholic, it does not mean he is not a Christian. What if he is addicted but wants to quit? What if he agrees with God that his drunkenness is sin? Didn’t the Apostle Paul himself say in the very same letter to the Romans concerning there being “therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, that he himself does what he doesn’t want to do and doesn’t do what he wants to do? Didn’t Paul call himself a wretched man and thank God for Jesus Christ his Lord? (Romans 7 :14-25)

The attitude of the preacher reminds me of the parable Jesus told of the Pharisee and the publican (with modern claims added in italics and parentheses for emphasis):

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. (Alcohol has never touched my lips, nor my feet entered a movie theater. I am in church every time the doors are open, and I go out soul-winning every week.)” And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. —Luke 18:9-14

Another preacher, who is full of grace, has never condemned his crack addict friend. He does not question his love for the Lord just because his friend is in church for a time and then falls back into his crack addiction. This preacher loves his friend unconditionally and encourages him to never, ever, ever give up. Which one would you say is more like Jesus?

Unconditional love and grace are, indeed, not to be used as a license to do whatever we want. If we do that, then it is fair that our love for God would be put in question. But if we hate when we sin, if we agree with God and try to turn away from doing it again…

and again…

and again,

He forgives us 70 x 7, because He is full of grace and a love that does not put conditions on us, like doing penance, before He will love us again. His love is unconditional. A person who simply dismisses sin and makes light of it because of grace and unconditional love, may need to consider the seriousness of sin, the purpose of obedience, and his/her own love for God. Likewise, people who speak of unconditional love and grace with disdain, may need to consider their own depravity and remember from what they themselves have been saved.

If I err, I would rather err on the side of love and grace.

 

If you liked this, you might also like… Love Sometimes Comes in Waves


Walk With Me

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The Prayer Journal: Le Cran

First-in-France

Saturday, November 3, 1917 – Conviction

Richie placed his pencil in the seam of the journal and lifted his eyes to the gray clouds that hovered over the French countryside. It had rained the past few days and looked like it was going to again. The days had been gray, that monotonous dullness of an earth that is undecided between a fall bare of leaves or a winter bare of snow. He missed home in Maine, although it probably looked similar.

Richie rotated his right shoulder, stretching the sore muscle from the long day of training. He had not had to do any trench exercises back in America; he couldn’t say he cared for them much. The French were lively trainers for the now small American Expeditionary Force, as rough as any sergeant he’d had yet. They seemed to fancy charges and bayonets, but he’d take any training he could get. After all, they had been the ones fighting this war for over three years now.

“Hey, Brickman,” a voice called. Richie looked over to see another private holding out a cup to him. “Tea?”

“Sure.” Richie took the cup and nodded a thanks. He had never drunk so much tea in his life. May had always fancied it, but Richie had not ever seen the appeal. The taste was growing on him, though.

Private Richard Brickman, 6th Marines, AEF. We’ve been here in France for a few weeks now. Days are long and they are working us hard. The French are trying to ready us up for the fight. They’re tough, but seem pretty well spent. Can’t say I blame them.

Actually writing in the journal was somewhat surreal. He had been spending the past months reading the entries May and her grandfather had made. Her grandfather was… (Read more)

 

The Prayer Journal is a fiction blog series written by my son.  If you are just joining in, click here to read the previous chapters.


Wisdom Wednesday: Sing, Whistle or Blow Bubbles

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One of the easiest and fun things we can do to improve our mood and health is to breathe. Have you ever found yourself breathing so shallowly that you were almost unconsciously holding your breath, especially in moments of concentration or stress? Breath equals life.

“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” —Genesis 2:7

“Fear less, hope more, eat less, chew more, whine less, breathe more, talk less, say more, hate less, love more, and all good things will be yours.” —Swedish proverb

As you may have heard or read, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine,” and while doing deep breathing exercises can help us feel better, there are fun ways to get more oxygen into our bodies.

 

Sing!

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“Singing lightens sorrows.” —Spanish proverb

 

Play a wind instrument or just whistle!

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“Breath is the music of life.” —Indian proverb

 

Blow bubbles!

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Bubbles are like wet kisses floating in the air, waiting to pop and tickle the one who touches them.

Although all these things may not equal deep breathing exercises, they do encourage a greater intake of oxygen and can create a positive mood and improved health.  Blowing bubbles is also whimsical, relaxing, and can produce fun and entertainment when children leap and run to pop them. So the next time you feel stressed, take a moment to breathe.

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If you liked this, you might also like… Wisdom Wednesday: Laughter

 


The Prayer Journal: Part 8 – Go in Peace

The 8th installment of my son’s online fiction series.

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“So, Virginia?”

Richie dropped his bags on the wooden walkway and turned to face May who stood inquisitively looking back at him. She was wearing a blue dress and her usual white sun hat. She looked gorgeous; her hair was in curls and her cheeks were rosy.

“That’s what they tell me, Teach. Orders are to meet there and join the other recruits who are making up the 6th Marine Regiment.”

May nodded and smirked. “I’m sad I’ll miss seeing you in your uniform. I am sure you’ll look dashing as a marine.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to wear it for you when I get back.”

“You better.”

Richie could see May’s gaze fall on the train that stood behind him. Her forced cheerful expression began to crack and show the anxiety within. Richie placed his hand… (read more)

 

If you are just tuning in, click here for the other installments.


Godly Songs Are Not Repetitious and Are Full of Doctrine. Oh Really?

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A few weeks ago, I attended a local event hosted by a church, which was also attended by several pastors within their association. Have you ever heard Christians dis other churches for singing anything other than hymns? They say things like, “Godly music must be rich in doctrine,” or “Songs of worship should not be repetitious. That’s what’s wrong with today’s contemporary songs. They’re just fluff,” and they actually call the songs that other churches sing “ungodly”. I often wonder if they have ever read, studied or been helped by the book of Psalms.

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Psalm 136 is an example of a psalm that contains a lot of repetition:

An exhortation to give thanks to God for particular mercies

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.

O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever:

The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever:

The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever:

And brought out Israel from among them: for his mercy endureth for ever:

With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him which divided the Red sea into parts: for his mercy endureth for ever:

And made Israel to pass through the midst of it: for his mercy endureth for ever:

But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him which led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him which smote great kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:

And slew famous kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:

Sihon king of the Amorites: for his mercy endureth for ever:

And Og the king of Bashan: for his mercy endureth for ever:

And gave their land for an heritage: for his mercy endureth for ever:

Even an heritage unto Israel his servant: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever:

And hath redeemed us from our enemies: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth for ever.

O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.

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Is Psalm 136 ungodly and unsuitable for church worship because it is repetitious? If not, then why are contemporary songs rejected simply because they contain some repetition?

The song in the video below is the cry of a broken heart, a crushed spirit due to the loss of a child. The lyrics reveal the struggle of the heart to continue trusting in God— “To think that Providence would take a child from his mother while she prays, is appalling.”

Wasn’t King David open and honest with the LORD? Can we not be as well, or is this song also unacceptable and ungodly?

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Psalm 6 is an example of a psalm that does not contain the kind of doctrine that the pontificators say godly songs should contain. It is a cry of the heart:

David’s complaint in his sickness

To the chief Musician on Neginoth upon Sheminith, A Psalm of David.

O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.

Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.

My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?

Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies’ sake.

For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?

I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.

Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.

Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping.

The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer. Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.

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The same pontificators talk about how things are a matter of the heart, and yet deny the same when they reject songs that are cries of the heart to God. Which is it? Is it really a matter of the heart or a matter of musical taste?

 

If you liked this, you might also like… God Danced?

 


The Prayer Journal: Part 7 – Unmade Choices

I was on vacation and am in the process of catching up.  Here is the 7th installment of my son’s fiction blog series.

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May plopped into her desk chair and stared out her room window. Now that school was over, she had taken a temporary job as a store clerk for the summer. It had been an especially long day and all she wanted to do was relax. She let her mind rest as she stared blankly out into the Maine countryside.

After a few moments, May sighed and pulled out her journal. She reached for her pen.

Monday, June 18, 1917

“May!” Mrs. Branson’s voice called from downstairs, interrupting her writing.

May sighed again and placed the pen next to the book. Going out of the room and to the top of the stairs, she called back, “Yes?”

“Richie’s here to see you, dear,” Mrs. Branson replied with the hint of a smile in her voice…. (Read more)

 

The Prayer Journal: Part 1 – To Continue a Legacy

The Prayer Journal: Part 2 – Doves and Serpents

The Prayer Journal: Part 3 – Diligence But No Direction

The Prayer Journal: Part 4 – Sweet Answers

The Prayer Journal: Part 5 – What Is Best

The Prayer Journal: Part 6 – Register to Bravery

 

 


Wisdom Wednesday: Keep Your Heart

Photo credit minus type:  Nithya Ramanujam via Free Images

Photo credit minus type: Nithya Ramanujam via Free Images

This post is mostly for young people, but since I’m not immune, it’s a good reminder for those of us who are on the other side of the hill, too, especially for those who may be just starting a new stage in life.

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” —Proverbs 4:23 NLT

I, and I’m sure many others my age and older, can confirm the validity of Proverbs 4:23, because the course of our lives has been determined by what our hearts have followed. For some, it has been a pretty good road, but for others, it has been hard and filled with regrets. Although some people would say they are grateful for the lessons learned, if they could go back and have a do-over, they would.

“To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.”  —Chinese proverb

“We’re prone to let circumstances fuel our emotions. Then our emotions dictate our responses, and so we become victims of our circumstances and of our emotions…” —Nancy Leigh DeMoss in Trials That Reveal Your Heart

“Look not upon your desires and your heart will not be confused.” —Chinese proverb

Sometimes flattery grabs the attention of our hearts, because it fills the common need of acceptance and love. Compliments and encouragement are one thing, but be careful of flattery that is intended to capture your attention for selfish reasons.

“The ear is the road to the heart.”  —French proverb

Sometimes our present circumstances are tough or even bad, and all we want to do is escape, and we go for the first person or circumstance that would appear to rescue us.

“A fleeing person is not choosy about his road.” —Japanese proverb

“Whether you understand the motivations of your heart or not, really what’s driving your actions, and what’s driving your life and how you fill your day, actually comes back to what you believe is actually gonna bring about the most fullness of life possible for you.” —Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Fig Leaves, Lies and the Grace of God

“If you want to know where your heart is, look to where your mind goes when it wanders.” —Unknown

“Your feet will bring you to where your heart is.” —Irish proverb

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  —Jesus

“For where your treasure is…”

The deeper meaning of Proverbs 4:23 reveals the value of our hearts. Most other English translations more accurately read similarly to the NKJV, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Our hearts are like a water spring, a source, and everything in our lives flows from it, and that is what determines our course. It is like a life giving spring, but if it becomes polluted, it can mean disease or death, suffering and heartache, so we must guard it well.

I would be the last person to tell you that it’s easy to control the direction and affections of your heart. And changing the course of that direction can be especially difficult when it involves the heart of another as well. Have you ever found yourself involved in a relationship and found it difficult to let go because you didn’t want to hurt the other person? They usually end up getting hurt in the end anyway, so it’s better to guard your heart— and theirs— from the beginning.

“He is most free from danger, who, even when safe, is on his guard.” —Latin proverb

“It’s okay to follow your heart, but take your brain with you.” —Nicole Hill

 

 

If you liked this, you might also like… Wisdom Wednesday: Breaking & Making Habits and God’s Plan for Your Life May Not Be What You Think It Is

 


The Prayer Journal: Part 6 – Register to Bravery

The 6th installment of my son’s fiction blog series.

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Tuesday, June 5, 1917 – Courage

“What’s that book, Teach?” Richie asked. May turned her gaze from her journal to look at him from under the shade of her sun hat. Richie was squinting from the glaring sunlight, dressed in his suit with his hands casually in his pants pockets. His flat cap did little to keep out the sun, but it looked fetching on him.

“My grandfather’s journal,” May replied. “Since he passed, it’s passed to me. I haven’t written anything for a few weeks and thought I would probably have time today.”

“Journal, huh?” Richie asked. He grinned and looked at her sideways. “Am I in there?”… Read more

 


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