Chased, I stumbled onto grace.
Grace and the Library
“Do I need my library card to pay the fine?” I asked the clerk as I handed in my two overdue books. I didn’t have my card with me and was unsure whether I would need to go to the car for it.
“Uh, I don’t think so.” The charming young girl lifted her eyes from the computer business she was doing with my books and smiled.
Intently, she punched buttons, looked back at my books, then at me and said, “I don’t think you owe a fine.”
“Well, yes, they were due yesterday. I think I do.”
“No. No fine. They were due yesterday, but you have a day’s grace. You’re set.”
“Don’t hear that much, do you?” She was a charming young lady and she flashed again her beautiful smile.
She couldn’t know that, as I stood in the Lake Havasu public library last week, there shot through my being the wonderful thought of God’s mercy. His mercy! God’s mercy extended to my wretched being. God’s mercy that counts me righteous–me, a sinner! God’s mercy that reaches long when I stumble, when I lose my way, when I forget who I am, when my vision becomes blurred and confused by worldly thinking. God’s mercy that saw me before I was ever born, selected me, and called me to be a part of Him and of His work.
How many times have I heard Jerry say across a pulpit: “Grace is the unmerited favor of God.” Unmerited–think about it. Think about grace and mercy that halts the hand of deserved judgment; grace and mercy that releases a river of holy blood to absolutely absolve, annihilate, and destroy my sins, those ugly and despicable transgressions against God’s laws.
One hundred and seventy times is the word grace mentioned in the Bible. Uncountable are the times that, in shame, I have extended a shaky hand and begged again for God’s grace and for His mercy. Never has He ignored me; not once has He refused my plea.
Paul addresses the subject:
“…My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness…” II Corinthians 12:9
My other blog is here.
Of Infinite Trust
Earlier today as Jerry and I sat relaxed in our morning time together, he lifted his eyes from the newspaper and said, “Anderson is selling their new cars at $1.00 over invoice today.” He returned to his paper, and I stopped my reading, and began to think of trust.
“It would be interesting, Jerry, to select a new car at Anderson’s, then check with another dealer and see what the difference would be.” I paused, then asked, “How much is the markup on a car?”
From this simple beginning sprang a thoughtful conversation about trust. To be honest, our words slipped into considering the lack of trust in our society, and in our world as a whole.
“People don’t much trust anymore,” Jerry said.
“And with good reason.”
True, huh? Shameful, wouldn’t you say?
While I believe our conversation was on target this morning, I can think of many people in whom I can put my trust and confidence. I could whisper of monstrous sin, of deadly addiction, of fractured relationships and detect no glimpse of disdain or repulsion. I could blurt out my ugly fears, and cry out my doubts… and would be assured of comfort and of godly direction. I could speak of need for money, or for a restoration of my soul…and within my hands or inside my being would come those things. Those whom I trust–I have no doubt–would guard my secrets until their own very being had dissolved into death.
Of One other, I am sure. That of my Savior, my Master. For not only does He hear and guard my secrets, He alone is the way to healing and to restoration.
Psa 65:5 By awesome deeds You answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation, You who are the trust of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest sea;
By no means am I deprecating Anderson. I have heard nothing of a negative nature concerning them. In fact I hope this helps them sell a car or two. Let them know you heard it first here.
Demonstration of Honesty from a Liar
Picture from AP
Her words were riveting. Enthralled, I listened, for she indicated she had something important to say. In the beginning, her beautiful voice rang strong and deliberate, but merely a few sentences into her press conference outside the U S District Court, she wavered and then she was crying. I was close to tears myself, when in a breaking voice, she apologized to her children, to her husband, her family, her friends, her country, saying she had lied, she had been dishonest. I don’t follow sports, so up until a few days ago, I was not at all familiar with Marion Jones.
Throughout the day yesterday, her words were repeated by the media, and each time I heard them, I was impressed with this beautiful young woman. A three-time Olympic gold medalist, for years she has been lying–angrily, I understand–as she defended herself against charges of steroid use. Yesterday, she admitted her deception.
I may be fooled in this person, for I note that not only has she been entangled in illegal steroid use, but she also is charged–and has pled guilty–to involvement with a check-fraud scheme. So, I acknowledge, I may be wrong, but to me, Marion Jones appears truly repentant, and I want to talk a little in this devotional about honesty and repentance. I’m raising some questions to which I would like your response.
Not since God fashioned Adam and then Eve has there lived one human who has not at one time or another lied. All of us–to one degree or another–have been devious and misleading. Admit it, now. We’re all flawed, and dishonesty comes easily to us. But most of us take ourselves in hand, and certainly after we come to know the Lord, we strive for integrity and truthfulness.
Luke 16:10 – “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (NIV)
What should happen when someone has been dishonest? How can we recognize a change in one’s spirit? Does it matter to you if a person appears repentant? What of blame? Does it mitigate the circumstance if the person takes the blame for his/her action? Does it make a difference if a person admits to lying only when the truth is revealed–or about to be revealed–as seems to be the case with Marion? What of restitution? Does it elevate Marion in your eyes that she is retiring? Do you have difficulty trusting someone who admits to having lied? What of repeated lying and repentance? Do you see lying as a serious problem in our society? What about among church people? Why do you believe this is so–or not so?
I have more questions than I have answers, but in Marion Jones, I sense true sorrow and repentance, and I respect her for that. I may be wrong here…time will tell.
Damaged, but Precious
This morning on the Museum Security Network, I read the following reports of severe damage that in year’s past was done to the works of the famous artist, Rembrandt.
Rembrandt is probably one of the most famous artist who ever lived, who’s name is recognized world-wide. Rembrandt was born in The Netherlands in 1606 and died in 1669. His most famous painting is The Night Watch . Rembrandt would have never imagined his soon to be world famous painting would be vandalized, not once, but twice, in later years. A 1975 vandalisim has been well publicized. But was there others?
I have searched the Internet for any information of a 1911 attack on The Night Watch painting and no where have I seen anything about this incident. Why is there no mention of this act of vandalism against this masterpiece?
And now the rest of the story…………..
On January 13, 1911 in Rotterdam, a disgruntled Navy cook, angered by his discharge from the service, went into the Rijiks Museum and badly slashed the masterpiece with a knife. The man’s name was Sigrist, and he said he vandalized the painting as an act of vengence against the state for discharging him.
On June 19, 1999 I received the following update:
May I suggest an addition:
There were three incidents, not two. The 1975 incident was the worst. Large pieces of canvas were lying on the museum floor after a psychic cut the painting. It took a long time, about half a year, to restore the painting. This was the first time all old varnish was removed. The 1975 damage can still be seen on the painting (not very clearly, but if you know where to look for it…)
April 1990 another patient threw acid on the Nightwatch. Thanks to an extremely quick and adequate reaction of the guards damage was limited to the varnish. By the way: the guy who did this cut and severely damaged a Picasso in another Amsterdam museum last month.
When I read this and considered the efforts that were expended to restore these priceless works of art, my mind flashed to the human soul, and the bodies wherein are housed these everlasting entities. I thought of the damaged people around me, people bearing hideous scars, people whose lives and bodies reek with sin poisoning and whose minds and emotions are slashed through with the havoc of evil living . I thought of myself, born fully entrenched in the curse of sin, and who has to fight constantly to live a holy life.
But as damaged paintings are yet considered precious and worthy of enormous amounts of time, energy and sums of money to restore them, surely every human being must deserve the same attention and respect. No matter the damage, the slashing, the scarring we have endured, we are yet loved by Christ, and His redeeming blood is available to exact a full and beautiful restoration
A Gentle Deal
“And the king (David) commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom…” II Samuel 18:5
In my study yesterday I read again this bitter story where David’s son undermines him, steals the hearts of the people, wages war against his father and tries to take the throne from him. During one of these dreadful days as David fled for his very life into the mountains
“…David…wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot: and all the people that was with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up.”
I weep with David for I have sons, and the love I have for those young men and for my daughter is beyond sounding. Its raw deep cannot be fathomed, and I suspect that a person who has not a child can in no way understand the passion of such relationship. So, I see David weeping as he trudges up the hillside, head bent, head covered, his feet bare…weeping, soul-sick.
THE land on the east of Jordan, where David found a refuge,
was called Gilead, a word which means “high,” because
it is higher than the land opposite on the west of
Jordan. There, in the city of Mahanaim, the rulers and
the people were friendly to David. They brought food of
all kinds and drink for David and those who were with
him; for they said, “The people are hungry, and thirsty, and very tired, from their long journey through the wilderness.”
And at this place David’s friends gathered from all the tribes of Israel, until around him was an army. It was not so large as the army of Absalom, but in it were more of the brave old warriors who had fought under David in other years. David divided his army into three parts, and placed over the three parts Joab, his brother Abishai, and Ittai, who had followed him so faithfully.
David said to the chiefs of his army and to his men, “I will go out with you into the battle.”
But the men said to David, “No, you must not go with us; for if half of us should lose our lives, no one will care; but you are worth ten thousand of us, and your life is too precious. You must stay here in the city, and be ready to help us if we need help.”
So the king stood by the gate of Mahanaim while his men marched out by hundreds and by thousands. And as they went past the king the men heard him say to the three chiefs, Joab, and Abishai, and Ittai, “For my sake, deal gently with the young man, Absalom.” (Scripture translation from the Baldwin Project)
Deal gently, men. Deal gently with my son.
And to those who have wronged us, we pray aloud, deal gently, God, deal gently. And perhaps, just perhaps, those against whom we have trespassed will in a gracious forgiving moment pray also, deal gently, God, deal gently.
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Oh that Men Would Praise the Lord
“Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness,…
Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses.He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.
Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” Psalm 107: 8-15
What a joyous and praise-worthy occasion was Sunday after our service when we all went to Mike’s house where Jerry baptized Jason.
Jason is a very sweet young man who has lived a disjointed, drug addicted life. Over dinner on Sunday, he told us that he has been addicted to methamphetamine for 12 years–since he was 18 years old. It had ruined his life…until we were introduced to him, told him about Jesus, and he decided to rid himself of his old life, and to walk with Jesus. I weep as I write this, for Jason is such a gentle young man, and I know satan will continue to fight him. But God is stronger than the enemy, and we’re believing that Jason will learn to lean on God and continue to walk with Him. Please help me pray for Jason. If you ever chance to meet him, you will instantly love him.
Taken in (See more photos here
I can only imagine the grief that Jason’s parents have suffered through these difficult years. Although they haven’t been to church yet, they watched as Jason was baptized, telling us they wouldn’t have thought of not being there. They wept…and thanked us again and again.
For the Spirit of Stephen
After we had been at DJs RV park here in Lake Havasu for around a month, with the blessing of the management, I began a Ladies Bible Study which meets each Tuesday morning at 9:00. My first series was on Forgiveness, a subject which touches all of us, of course. Throughout our lives, there will come many occasions when we are called to either extend forgiveness, or to beg a healthy portion of it for ourselves.
Yesterday morning, Jerry continued with his study of the book of Acts, reviewing the latter part of chapter 7, which he had dealt with last week. As I sat on a plastic folding chair yesterday, and read those verses again, somehow I could almost see Stephen, that courageous kneeling disciple, who for the Gospel’s sake, was its first martyr, and who was the epitome of the spirit of forgiveness. It is an astonishing story: verse 54 says the unruly, ungodly crowd to which Stephen had just preached, attacked him with such hate and anger, they actually gnashed on him with their teeth. They bit into his flesh…think about it…because “they were cut to the heart.” Because he had recited their story, their history, their reputation.
Please jump to the next to the last verse of the chapter–verse 59:
“And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”
This blessed, brave, crouching man, with thin, fleeting breath, makes the appeal that God extend mercy to the very ones who are intent on snatching away his life. Amazing, truly amazing.
I need a cupful of that kind of a spirit; no, I need a jug full, a big jug. Better yet; a stream, a river, a surging ocean portion must I have.
A Biblical Admonition To Be Cheated
It was into the left margin of my Bible beside I Corinthians 6:7, at some distant time, for I don’t recall making the notation, that I scribbled a single word: interesting. There followed a tiny check mark. I believe I have mentioned that in our Tuesday morning Women’s Bible Study here at DJs, we are studying the subject of forgiveness. Today, quite at length we discussed the earlier referenced scripture, which I’ll write out for you here:
“Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because you go to law with one another. Why do you not rather take wrong? why do you not suffer yourselves to be defrauded?”
Quite a scripture, huh? And it was quite a discussion into which we entered this morning. Actually, I didn’t even refer the ladies to the first part of the verse which deals with going to court with a brother, but we only discussed the latter portion of that passage. The platform was our study today of offenses, and the objective of this particular lesson was to understand that to be godly, progressive women we should avoid being offended. Suffer wrong, suffer mistreatment, Paul here is saying. It is better to do so than to offend your brother.
Such advise is powerful, but certainly there are limitations. Our study today led to the subject of “tough love” with wayward children, and violent marriages and mistreatment that should not be tolerated. But without going to the extreme edges of the subject, I wonder how we do with this scripture. Are we willing to be mistreated, to suffer wrong in order to have a godly, non-offensive spirit? Are we capable of taking a loss without resorting to the courts? Oh, I know a way around this scripture is the claim: “Well, they can’t be my brother or they wouldn’t treat me this way.”
A few months ago, I learned of a young man who did some physical labor for a brother in the church. There was some sort of a misunderstanding and the man decided he didn’t need to pay the laborer for his work. The young man desperately needed the money, but decided to follow God’s principle, and went on to his next job. I may never know the end of that story, but I expect that since these two men are brothers in Christ, the issue will at some point be resolved.
Perhaps, though, the misunderstanding will never be resolved and the debt will never be paid. But if we are to follow Paul’s commandments here, we will allow ourselves to suffer loss so that our brother is not offended.
Offense presents an ugly, enduring head. Proverbs 18:29 speaks to this issue: “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.”
And you? Are you willing to suffer loss, are you willing to be cheated, in order to protect yourself from ill-will and to shield both you and your brother from painful offense?