Tag Archives: mercy

A Hoped For But Unexpected Blessing

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participate in a weekly photo challenge for my photo blog, and this was too good not to post here, too.  While pondering this week’s photo challenge theme Extra, I remembered finding a 4-leaf clover a day or two before.  I also remembered seeing some clovers whose leaves had a reddish edge.  Four-leaf clovers have an extra leaf, so I decided to venture out in hopes of finding one for the challenge.  As I strolled to the back yard, I also thought, “Lord, it would be really cool to find a red 4-leaf clover.”  Even though it wasn’t actually a prayer request, and even though He doesn’t always answer our prayers in the way we want or expect, I was so excited and surprised to actually find one!  What are the odds?  Seriously!  Jesus loves this ragamuffin!

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.  —Jeremiah 33:3

 

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My Favorite Brown Shirt

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Have you ever had a favorite shirt you had to get rid of because it became stained or ripped?  A few months ago as part of a ladies’ Bible study that used our closets as a metaphor for our minds, we were asked to bring something from our closet that represents hope.  I brought one of my favorite shirts, a brown long-sleeve tee.  Even though it has gotten stained many times such that I thought I’d have to toss it out, after applying some stain remover, it has always come clean.  The reason it represented hope to me is because it reminded me that Jesus doesn’t toss us out when we become stained with sin.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  I was reminded of this recently in Sunday school as our pastor has been teaching through Psalm 119 and reminded us that God has promised not to forsake us utterly when we seek Him.

 

And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.  —Psalms 9:10

 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.   —1 Timothy 1:15

 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.   —Psalm 51:7


Like a Tangled Slinky

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I have a little friend I sometimes pick up and take to school, but since her older brother and sister have to be in school earlier, she comes to my house for about an hour.  She loves playing in my office and pretending it’s a secret lair.  She also loves playing with toys my second son had as a little boy that my granddaughters now enjoy.  One of those toys is a plastic rainbow Slinky.  Just as it was time to take her to school, she brought the Slinky to show me she had gotten it tangled.  Her sweet voice was so apologetic.  I took the tangled mess from her little hands and said, “That’s okay.  I’ll take care of it.”

Later as I began to untangle the Slinky, I believe the Holy Spirit helped me to see that we are like my little friend, handing our tangled messes to our Heavenly Father when we can’t fix them ourselves.  I had created a tangled mess this week, but Father was so tender and loving when I handed Him my ‘Slinky’, and people I had hurt reflected His mercy and love as well.  I’m so grateful I can go to Him with my messes and not be scolded or turned away.

“Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.”  —Psalm 103:13


No Offense Taken; Raising Awareness

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Have you seen this picture?  You may have if you have a Facebook account or browse memes.  A few friends have alerted me over the past year or so about a meme, because it contains this picture along with two others, and because this one is of me taken almost six years ago.  I am grateful for friends who love me and were offended for my sake and even defended me publicly.  Why were my friends concerned and feel the need to defend me?  Because the meme mocks Christianity by making us look superficial, and because they know me.  Thank you, Tim, Greg and others.

The meme bears three images with the heading “THANK YOU JESUS”.  The caption under my photo says, “For helping me find my car keys”.  Then there are two other photos, one of the professing Christian football player, Tim Tebow with the caption, “For letting me throw that touchdown,” and a third photo of an emaciated little boy bearing no caption.

While I was saddened to see the meme, I was not offended.  In fact, I was even grateful.  I’m saddened because the meme portrays Christians as being superficial and as Jesus not caring about the emaciated child, who it would seem has nothing for which to be thankful.  I am grateful, because the meme is a good reminder that people are suffering tremendously, and if the meme has moved even one person to act out of compassion, why should I be offended?

What can you do?  Give to an organization that helps people in need.  Give to and/or volunteer in a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter.  Does your church have a food pantry or benevolence fund?  Keep your eyes and ears open for people in need or suffering from a crisis.

Food for the Hungry (FH) is a Christian organization serving the poor globally since 1971 by reflecting the love of Christ in short-term emergency relief and long-term work.

Project Rescue provides physical, emotional and spiritual rescue and holistic restoration to women and children in sexual slavery.

Compassion International is a Christian organization that exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.


Conviction Vs. Condemnation

Have you ever felt condemned?  This video of an excerpt by Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church is just over five minutes long and well worth listening to if you’ve ever felt condemned by something someone said or did.  There is a distinct difference between conviction from the Holy Spirit and condemnation from Satan.

In addition, while I don’t agree with everything Pastor Peter Haas teaches, in his sermon Pharisectomy Part 2 – Joy Driven Christianity, he said this:

“The Bible teaches that guilt, shame and condemnation are inferior substitutes for grace.  They are an inferior form of motivation, but they are a form of motivation, make no mistake.  That’s why so many preachers turn to them.  That’s why so many Christians turn to shame.  They get an instant response when you shame someone.  The only problem is it kills joy, and it’s not sustainable.  And joy is the very power that God gives us to overcome sin.  Again– the joy of the Lord is your strength…. We use guilt, obligation and shame to motivate ourselves and others into being a better person, and not only does it steal our joy, it steals God’s glory.”

If you are feeling heavily burdened because of something someone said, or if you have been made to feel like God cannot use you because of something you did, please watch this video.


A Personal Prayer From Psalm 69

ImageValarie of Encouragement For Every Day wrote a blog post about following the leader, and she reminded me of a prayer I often pray from Psalm 69.

O God, You know my foolishness;
And my sins are not hidden from You.
Let not those who wait for You, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed because of me; Let not those who seek You be confounded because of me, O God of Israel (Psalm 69:5-6 NKJV).

I am so far from perfect, and I do stupid things just like everyone else.  Praise God, who is rich in mercy!


This Is Love: A Conversation With a Modern-Day Roman

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Yeah, I know it’s almost Christmas, but we would have no Resurrection Day apart from the birth of our Savior.  So I thought this would be an appropriate time to share a conversation I had almost five years ago with a skeptical, modern-day Roman in response to the photo above.

sara y tzunky:  Why this is love????? To die is love? To be beaten is love? Not try to save itself is love? To walk around with a cross on his shoulder is love? Why this need of the blood to demonstrate love? Why this need of shoving the worst and not the wonderful of this world to give love? I never understood.

Me:  sara y tzunky, is there anyone you love so much you would be willing to give your life to save theirs?

The Bible says that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Sin is ‘lawlessness’ (1 John 3:4); it is any violation of the law or character of God. It is basically saying to God, “I don’t like Your rules, so I’m going to do what I want to do.” The penalty is death.

The Bible says that all have sinned and have come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We all deserve death because none of us have lived up to God’s law. We have a difficult time just keeping ten of them, much less the two greatest: Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:37-39).

The only One who could pay the price… the penalty… for our sin was the perfect Son of God, Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). Not only did Jesus teach about love, but He demonstrated His love by being willing to suffer under the sinful, violent hands of mankind to save those who would accept His sacrifice as a gift of eternal life. He did that for you.

sara y tzunky:  Thanks for your answer, dear SweetCapture.
I am sorry but I believe you don’t understand.
The penalty of sin is death. In which sense? Following the Bible’s standards I am a sinner. I am writing to you so you can observe that I am not still death. So what?
You said: Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” This is exactly the point! For yours believes God and his son Jesus are omnipotent so they had the possibility to choice the way to forgive your past sins. So why they don’t choose something more happy and positive? Like I don’t know, transport all of us another time in the Garden of Haven or for example give a big party inviting every man and woman and explaining to them that is better to live in a life of love and peace. Why blood blood blood blood and blood?
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). Perfect I agree. And better is a God that created sin, that eliminates sin (or you believe that there is something that God actually had not created?). Big amount of love in this case! So why Jesus doesn’t lay down his life not to die but to work hard doing something like eliminate from this planet materially sin forever and ever? Why all this publicity for hate and death? Why all this publicity for the cruel Romans? Why not to show something of peaceful, just to explain like the thing should go? Why blood blood blood murders crosses, studs, swords, armies, power and poverty? Why not life love peace, prosperity, food, happiness eternal life, freedom, beauty of nature, speaking with birds etc etc? I repeat they are God and they can do whatever they want.
Thanks for your attention

Me:  sara y tzunky, I understand the confusion since Adam and Eve did not immediately die a physical death. Death means ‘separation’, whether it is a physical separation of the body and spirit, or whether it is a relational separation of people and people, or people and God. Before Adam and Eve sinned, they had personal and close fellowship with God, and they could have lived forever, because they had the tree of life. After they sinned, because they separated themselves from God out of guilt and fear, and because of God’s holiness, they lost that close fellowship. The literal translation of Genesis 2:17 is “dying you shall die”, so while they didn’t die immediately, they were in the process of dying until they eventually died. They no longer had the Tree of Life and close fellowship with God to sustain them.

God had given them only one commandment. Just one. He had provided everything they needed in a beautiful garden… everything was good. The only thing forbidden to them was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They ate its fruit because they wanted to become gods… equal with their Creator, rather than trust that He knew what was best. They wanted to do what they wanted to do. God had warned them of the consequences, but they chose to believe the serpent rather than God. They rebelled and brought evil and death into the world. God did not create sin. God’s character is one of law and order. Remember, the Bible says that sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4). A God of law and order cannot act contrary to His nature. Sin is the absence of law and order, so it is not something that is ‘created’ but something (law and order) that is taken away or disregarded.

If you tell a child not to touch fire, and they touch it, the consequence is not happy and positive. They get burned… sometimes badly. It doesn’t matter how much the child is sorry for disobeying, s(he) will still suffer for making that wrong choice.

Why the publicity for hate and death? Because mankind, even to this day, believes we can choose or evolve to become better. Jesus was peaceful and taught about love, obedience, peace… yet the violence within men’s hearts brutally killed Him. It revealed the true nature of mankind. And because God could offer forgiveness for such a horrible act, it reveals God’s matchless love and mercy. All other religious effort is man seeking God…only Biblical Christianity reveals a loving God seeking after fallen Mankind. Those who choose to believe what He has said about Himself and accept His gift of eternal life, will live a life of love, peace, prosperity, happiness, freedom, and beauty with Him in Heaven.

sara y tzunky:  Dear SweetCapture,
How it is nice to discuss with you about Love on a Flickr page. For me Love or love is LOVE not Death. And Death is Death not separation or something else. The word “death” was used in every time to scare simple peoples. If you or the ones who wrote your Bible want to mean separation why they didn’t use the word separation? They use death, blood, fire, eternal pain and other pleasantness to scare and bend people. Another thing: if Jesus comes to erase yours sins why in the sense of your Holy text you are still doomed to die? Something didn’t work well or what?
I think that you continue not to understand what I have said. But this is surely the fault of my English. I sorry I am from Italy, Rome: I am a Roman. So I will use the word of a great ancient philosopher, Epicurus: “Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent –and he is not a God-. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. If God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?”. So we came back to the first point: if it exists a Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, if there is blood death and destruction, if there is a bad nature of mankind is because God want it -supposing naturally that God exists and he is like the Bible depict him-. So if there is a man dying nailed to a cross is because God want it. For this reason I believe that this is not love, this wickedness. This is wickedness even because you believe that actually Jesus is God.
Best Regards, A Roman

Me:  sara y tzunky, first, your English is good. I understand what you mean, because I have also had questions like yours.

God does not use death, blood, fire, eternal pain, and unpleasantness to scare and bend people for His own purposes. He warns us of things, because He has given us a certain level of freedom to choose, and He desires we would trust Him and choose good. False teachers and leaders use those things to bend and scare people for their own gain.

If you do not want your child to harm himself or others, you warn them about bad things… unpleasant things. Yes, you hope to scare them enough to avoid the bad things, but you are not simply trying to bend them for your own purposes. It is for their good.

Jesus’ death erases the penalty of eternal separation from God. It does not erase the consequences of a physical death. God has promised that those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and believe that He was raised from the dead, when we die a physical death, He will give us new heavenly bodies that will live forever with Him in Heaven. As long as we live in our physical bodies and in this ‘dying’ universe, we will continue to experience that physical death… UNLESS we are still alive when Jesus returns once more, not as a suffering servant, but as a victorious King.

God said, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9), and “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God…” (Deuteronomy 29:29). There are some things that are beyond our understanding because God is too big for our limited minds to understand or because He simply has not revealed those things to us. God will eventually abolish evil. Why didn’t He prevent it from happening? Unless a person has a choice as to whether or not they will love and trust you, then it is not love at all. God gave Adam and Eve two choices: trust me and do not eat the fruit and you will live in this garden forever… or eat the fruit and experience death. They both chose to trust the serpent and their own judgment more than God, and they chose the consequence of the curse. God never wanted it, but since He allowed Adam and Eve the choice, He also provided a way to be redeemed from the curse… because He still loves us… but He will not force anyone to love Him back. To me… that is true love.


Happy Birthday, Chris

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My first-born son had an accident yesterday, and I’m so grateful he’s still here to celebrate his 25th birthday today.  Instead of losing his legs or even his life, he came away from the accident with a scraped ankle and a non-displaced fractured heel.  Even though he was in a lot of pain yesterday, he laughed and said, “Well, at least I’ll have the day off on my birthday.”  His foot is terribly swollen, and he’s still experiencing a lot of pain off and on, but he’s doing well today.  Prayers for a quick recovery would be much appreciated.

I am so thankful the Lord blessed me with Chris, when it seemed I might not be able to have children– then He blessed me with two more.  Chris is a very intelligent, soft-spoken, considerate young man with a dry, covert sense of humor and a tender heart.  He is becoming a strong, supportive man, as well as my friend.  Thank you, Lord, for Your mercy and grace in allowing me to be his mom and for watching over him, especially yesterday, and giving me another day with him.

Happy birthday, Chris.  Thank you for being a wonderful son.  I love you.


Pleas for Mercy

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I don’t always fully understand why God answers some prayers and not others with the outcome for which we are praying and hoping, but it really is cool when He does.  My daughter and I did more short hikes this summer than we have in the past.  She wanted to get conditioned for a backpacking trip in California with a small gathering of a larger homeschool alumni group that consists of people from all over the country.  Although one person did have to be evac’d due to altitude sickness, there were no serious injuries.  That was definitely an answer to prayer, and while my daughter could share several from her trip, I want to share the ones in which I personally saw  God’s mercy and favor revealed.

It started when I drove my daughter to the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Manchester, NH, and we discovered that she had actually booked her departing flight through Boston Logan Airport in Boston!  Even though we had arrived two hours early, the travel agents were late, and by the time we discovered the mistake, we had only one hour before her flight was scheduled to leave, and Boston is about an hour from Manchester.  She had the choice of buying another ticket or trying to catch another flight in Boston.  We decided to drive to Boston.

When we arrived, I dropped her off and went to park the car.  Inside the airport, I found her sitting on a bench with tears in her eyes.  Apparently, she was given a standby ticket, but since neither of us had ever flown standby, I wasn’t sure what to do, and she said the agent was impatient and not very helpful.  I suggested we go back to inquire and possibly purchase another ticket to ensure her flight.  We were able to speak with a different agent, who was very compassionate and helpful.  She informed us that the airline’s policy for missed flights was to issue a standby ticket, even if seats are available.  She then suggested my daughter not waste her money buying another ticket, because the flight had one open seat as well as two passengers who had not yet checked in.  She said, “You stand a really good chance of getting on.”  She even gave me a gate pass so I could go through security and accompany her to the gate.

After waiting at the gate, her name was finally called, and she was given a ticket to her first destination.  Hmm… we wondered why she wasn’t given a second ticket for the rest of her flight.  The agent informed us that since my daughter had missed her original flight, she would again have to go on standby in Denver.  Our hearts dropped.  We were under the impression that if she got on the first flight, she was home free.  We both silently prayed.  Passengers began to board, and as she waited in line, the agent called her over again.  Even though it was against policy, the agent had noticed the flight from Denver to LA had several empty seats, so she just went ahead and booked a seat for her.  Tears ran down our cheeks.  Praise God!

But that’s not all or even the best part.

My daughter is usually really good with planning and scheduling her own trips, but because of the confusion with her flight there and knowing she didn’t have a printout of her return flight, I sent her a text with the confirmation code.  I also looked over her itinerary and noted she had only a 35 minute layover in Chicago, so I advised her to go straight to her gate upon landing.  Unfortunately, her flight out of LA was late in departing such that it was due to arrive at the same time her connection was due to leave.  Because the airport is two hours away from our home, even though I didn’t know if she would make it to Manchester that night, I had to head out anyway.  And because her flight was due in at midnight, she had booked a hotel room for us.  As I drove down the dark interstate, I prayed, I begged, I pleaded that the Lord would not make her stay in Chicago alone.  I asked him to increase the speed of her present flight and delay her connecting one.  I pleaded for His mercy.

All of a sudden I received a text, so I pulled over.  Her flight had touched down in Chicago, the flight crew was aware of everyone’s situation to make their connections and would try to accommodate everyone’s needs.  I thanked God as I started to drive again, and I continued to plead.  I pulled over again when my phone signaled an incoming call.  Yes, the plane had arrived, and the crew was aware, but there were no gates at which to dock!  Really?  She asked if I would mind picking her up in Boston if she missed her flight and could get one there.  “Of course!” I said, even though I dreaded the thought of going to Boston at night.  She later sent me a text letting me know she got on her original flight and would be flying into Manchester. Woo hoo!  Apparently, when she’d gotten off the plane, she ran to the gate, but it was dark, and a woman informed her the door had already been closed.  She sought out an agent to see if she could get to Boston, but she heard her name being called over the intercom.  She left the counter and went to the gate, and the woman said, “I’m gonna get you on that flight!”  She grabbed my daughter’s hand and took her down the ramp .  Now, I don’t want to get anyone in trouble and give away the details, but the woman was able to get her on the flight.  When my daughter found an empty seat in the front of the plane next to an elderly couple, she apologized for holding things up.  The lady said something like, “Sweetie, I don’t know what you’re talking about.  We were told they were having trouble with the baggage.”  With a sigh of relief, tears in my eyes, and thanksgiving on my lips, knowing I had time before her arrival, I checked into our hotel and then waited for her at the airport.

But that’s still not all.

We had a nice time of catching up that night, and in the morning when I opened the Bible app on my phone, the reading for the day was Psalm 116.  And this is what verses 1 and 2 say, “I love the LORD because he heard my plea for mercy, and listened to me.  As long as I live, I will call to him when I need help.”

Thank you, Lord…


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