Which came first? The Chicken or the egg?

Which came first? The Chicken or the egg?

A classic, arguable question that can be easily answered if one looks to the Word.  On the fifth day, God created “every winged bird according to its kind.” Genesis 1:21b. So, there you have it – he did not create all the eggs to hatch, but he created the winged bird first.

Who should reach out first when an offense has been made?

A tough question, but also easily answered if one looks to the Word.  Since the days following creation, God has been offended throughout history.  Yet, in love, He reached out with his Son, Jesus; John 3:16 explains – “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only Son…” – Why? So that all the offenders, of God the Father, could be forgiven and given the ability to go to heaven and have eternal life.  John 3:17 tells us what Jesus was NOT given for: with grace, “God did not send his Son into to the world to condemn the world, but to save the world.

God reached out first and that’s what we ought to do also…in love and in grace.

What kind of picture would humanity be in if God waited for the offenders (us) to reach out to him before he gave his only Son to die?  I know God would still be waiting, because we are naturally a stubborn people, and there would be no hope in this life. But no, and thank God, He did not wait.  HE LOVED US FIRST is what 1 John 4:19 tells us. Not because we deserved it, but because God is mercy.

“We love, because he first loved us.”

There you have it – We, who have been offended, must reach out first in love and in grace and offer continual love and mercy to the one who maybe doesn’t deserve it.

In this action, HOPE will prevail and relationships will be healed, as our broken humanity is healed through the blood & sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  May this New Year be a year of healing broken relationships:  between you and God, and between you and others, in love, grace, and mercy.

Be THAT One!

Do you know this very short story paraphrased from Luke 17:11 – 14?

Ten sick men called out to be healed.

Jesus healed them.

Ten men went on their way….

BUT,

One man came back praising God loudly,

threw himself at Jesus feet and began thanking Him.

One out of Nine.

Math is not my forte – yet even I know, one out of nine is not a good percentage.

I ask myself today…am I one of the nine or am I like the one?

Of course, I want to think I am like the one who came back; I want to be THAT one!  Yet, I know I often go through my days not thanking Jesus for even the very breath I breathe.  So as I ponder this Thanksgiving Day – the Federal holiday established in 1863 by President Lincoln – I fear I have come up short on my true list of thanksgivings to my LORD.

Authenticity that is full of heart….

it is what I desire in my offering of thanks to God today.  

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The one came back praising God loudly. Why loudly?  I think because he was overflowing with gratitude that could not be contained.

Rabbi, You are Awesome!  

Praise you for being the ultimate healer! Praise you for being mercy itself!

Bursting forth the thank-you’s came!

Thank you, Thank YOU, THANK YOUUUUU!!!!!!

It built up to a crescendo of music to the LORD’s ears.

Yes, I want to be THAT one!

The one came and threw himself at Jesus feet.  Can I even imagine?  It must have been in total bowing in honor to the power of Jesus; like from the old hymn – we at his feet may fall!

 All hail to Jesus the King, YOU are LORD of all!

Too dramatic?

When I consider who I am, next to who He is (?)…I think not. He is worthy! This is my prayer today:

Lord, forgive me for my feeble memory that fails to thank you for every moment of my life; every thing I have is from you and I am really thankful…help me in my weakness and cause me to be overflowing with authentic heartfelt appreciation for who you are and for all you do for me.  Remind me by the power of your Holy Spirit to turn back often and give you thanks – not only today, but every day you allow me life on earth.

May I be THAT one!

Praising your name, falling at your feet, and giving you deep heart thanksgiving.

Friend, Be THAT one with me…

and let’s increase the percentage of men who turn back to Jesus.

Thanksgiving Day is meant to be every day!

And Mercy is its Name

The man sits.

The old man sits.

The old man sits facing out, gazing with non-expression, looking at the traffic as it passes by.  No movement.  Just stillness.  I am captivated.  Just a quick glimpse registers a myriad of questions in my thinking as I drive by.  Me in my van and this old man in his house looking out.

Why is the old man sitting there, looking that way?

Was it his choosing to be watching the cars go by?

Did someone place him there, in the sunshine to be warmed?

What was he thinking?

Lonely covers the scene. Lost-ness oozes.

For just a second or two, my vision assumes it all.  My inner being aches for the old man.  And I think, how sad.

*****

This winter continues to whip and the cold stings.  I ponder: why must we endure the winter and its cold; the whip and sting of this life?

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Whipping and stinging of loss abounds.  Loss of income, of friends, of children, of ability, of security, of laughter, of love, of purpose.  All of it whipping and stinging.  Aches and sickness and disease step up the intensity of the season that mimics death.  In my imaginings, I become like the old man sitting, while lonely wraps around like a shawl and lost-ness overtakes me.

It is a hopeless place.

Then,

the balmy breeze surprises as it blows in and melts the frozen and drips in streams.

The smell of earth and the sinking in mud returns

and the sunshine is brighter.

And warmer.

I wonder: Where is the old man now?

*****

All of this is a metaphorical painting and Mercy is its name.

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I am reminded of God’s love for us.  Each one of us is seen by Him.  His vision of us assumed it all.  We are allowed to experience the winter so we can experience the spring.  We must endure the whips and stings to appreciate the blowing and melting and sun shining even brighter.

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2: 4

This is the hope-full place.

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My inner being aches no longer and I prayed for the old man.

Green is on it’s way!  Spring follows winter and I am so glad.

And I am saying: Thank you God for your mercy on us!

  Lost-ness is no more.

Meditations on a Swing Set

Gazing out at the snow covered swing set in my back yard

a string of thoughts

was set into motion.

Child’s play. It is all a prep.

A revving up to the heart break of parenting.

Do you remember?

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The two year old struggling to get on a swing….?

Chuckling, a twitch of heart pang feels for the child who has no skill yet.

The three year old who sits and calls to you: “Push me!”

Smiling, a sympathetic heart watched as the child attempted the swing motion with uncoordinated thrusting back and forth that resulted in no momentum at all.

Now the child can push himself. And he swings with oblivious abandon.

No chuckles anymore, fear has come. We hear the thud and then the cry; he fell off the swing….clocked his brother in the crossing…and the two collided.  Heart aches.

Higher and higher the swinging goes.  The poles rise up out of the ground and slam down into the ground again.  A warning is given.  But it falls on deaf ears.

The heart hurts.

Cringing accompanies the fear now and a rehearsal recalling the quickest route to hospital is begun in the mind.  And the eyes continue to watch…

He jumps off and exclaims, “Geronimo! Look at me!”

The heart skips a beat. Maybe two.

This time there is no run to the hospital.  This time.

A revving up.  A prep for the heart ache in the raising of our children.

My heart has swelled with feeling and sympathy.  My heart has ached, and hurt, and skipped many a beat.

Then and now. Even more now.

The swing set has been replaced by a bigger play on life.

What to do?

Then I thought, Apply the lessons to me.

I am the child and my God is the Father.

At times…

Why do I pursue life, on my own, without Him?

Why do I  thrust myself forward and back unproductively?

Why do I pump harder and harder without attention to my surroundings?

Why do I turn a deaf ear to the warnings of my Father?

How have I caused my Father heart ache?

Is not my Father also looking down with a heart chuckling feeling for me; Does His heart not ache, and hurt, and perhaps skip a beat as He has had  to watch me stumble along in my way?

And yet.

He is patient.  He is compassionate. He is ever forgiving.

Mercy and Grace are poured out upon my walk with Him.

And so too should I be.

God, my Father, is a lover of hearts,

a changer of hearts.

Hearts are HIS main concern!

And so too should be my way.

So I continuously turn my heart back to Him and pray.

Forgive me LORD, for all I have done to cause your heart to ache.

LORD, grant me the gentleness of heart to offer mercy and grace to my children.  May you give me your wisdom in guiding them.  Help me to be patient and compassionate and forgiving. 

Even when my own heart is breaking.

There is HOPE in the cleansed heart….HOPE for the changed heart…

all for the Glory of God!

HOPE!

Tuesday Tidbit: Got the Advocate?

Perched in a usual spot

with expectation of a calm eve,

the start of the storm rolls in with a low rumble…

the smallness of it’s voice is disregarded.

Like a whip cracking alongside a steed

the voice increases with defiant stabs

and wounds the trusty bonds.

Creating a tumultuous clash at the footing of the landscape

the voice,

like a lion,

braces with a roar and frantically paces in his cage.

Stripped of fight

the decision to step aside leaves the door open

and the owner of the storming voice

carelessly tosses aside the heart that loves even still.

Left in the aftermath lull

there is little to do

as emptiness fills up the vessel.

Numb and distraught and confused

the dust settles.

The words refuse to come but the soul wails!

The Advocate quietly and assuredly arrives

speaking in earnest He gathers the weakness up and brings to mind

all that was taught and recorded.

The heart is revived

and is able to stand at the threshold

ready to give and receive the mutual embrace.

The storm transformed

returns the young voice,

while mercy and forgiveness and love 

remain.

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Are you the voice of disaster?  Or are you the heart that is wounded?

Are you the one who needs transforming or the one in need of restoration?

Perhaps you have had a season in both situations, over time…?

In moments when I am desperately seeking and not knowing what to do or what to say, left in the aftermath —  I am thankful for the Holy Spirit who was given to me.  The Advocate – the One who supports and stands up for me – comes and teaches me and gently reminds me of all Jesus taught.

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26

He strengthens my heart to persevere and stand able.  Able to both give and receive mercy, forgiveness, and love.  Just as Jesus taught.  Just as Jesus did.

Today I remain, perched in a usual spot, full of peace

as I have been ministered to by the Advocate.

Got the Advocate?

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Tuesday Tidbit: Surrender and Raise the White Flag

The dusty, tiny printed book that was used as the conduit for the Holy Spirit’s ministering to me during the wee hours was Jeremiah Burroughs’, Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.   Paul, the apostle said “I have learned to be content in whatever state I am” (Philippians 4:11) and so it is with us too.  We must learn it.

We must surrender by exercising much faith. Burroughs challenges, “The  more you in  a believing way surrender up yourself to God, the more quiet and peace you will have.”  What release and freedom this idea suggests.  Surrendering up your burdens and casting them down before the all Mighty God is certain to bring quiet and peace inside.  Contentment.

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Then, I say, raise the white flag!    Twofold, Burroughs asks us to consider the mercies that God Himself showers upon us; they are new everyday!  And then consider why we should not be willing to suffer a little for the glory of God; be willing to be used in service for His purposes. Once we whole-heartily know and accept our place in relationship to the infinite God, we find contentment.

Join me in the learning of contentment my friend! Surrender in faith and raise the white flag of willingness.