The Burden of Another

Would that within the church each of us had someone to whom we could go and to whom we could express our doubts, our fears, our questions, our disappointments, our hurts–all of it, a real “gut-spilling”–and be assured that person would not unfairly judge us, nor tattle on us, but also would guide us and instruct us, and if we were wrong, who would tell us so. Surely there are a few such ones, although I suspect there to be a wide and dangerous dearth of such people.

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Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2


I know these situations call for extreme carefulness and wisdom of the highest sort, for it must be acknowledged that sometimes when a person approaches another because of trouble in his life, he/she may adamantly reject the advice that is offered, or even take offense at the suggestions. Yet, I believe we must take the risk . . . if we are to fulfill the law of Christ. For we must remember what burdened is, how it looks, how it may act, how ugly it may have become. A truly burdened person may virtually in some ways have lost touch with reality and may be unable to recognize viable solutions. In a funk. Disconnected.

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Courage and a mantle of bravery are required of a pastor who sees one under his care who is floundering and who instead of ignoring the situation or of excusing himself by saying I will pray approaches the person and offers help. (Certainly there are times when prayer is the sole answer, and we must have the wisdom to discern the difference.)


Very recently I was approached by a person who pointed out a flaw in me that had hurt that person. I was stunned for I had no idea my actions/words had resulted in that effect, and certainly it was not deliberate. Yet I suffered and felt deep pain. But I respect that person, and I am thankful he/she felt comfortable with telling me of their hurt and that they felt comfortable enough to reveal their questions. I will help them bear their burden (wishing I could do more.) I will be more careful with my own actions and with my own words. Thereby we fulfill the law of Christ.

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So what can we do? A couple of things come to mind. One is that I look around at my own life. Is there order? Am I progressing? Am I growing in Christ? Are relationships within my family and within my circle of friends healthy? Do I even have friends? Real ones? If I see a serious deep issue here, may I find someone to whom I can “spill my guts” and from whom I anticipate direction. May I determine to take no offense at what is offered me.

Second is that I look within myself to discern whether another human being who is in pain, who is floundering, can feel comfortable with coming to me for help, for direction, for healing.


The pictures? Taken from a high seat in a double-decker bus last Spring as we toured Rome.

The Lifter of My Head

Psalm Series Number 3

Scholars believe that when David begins this Psalm by speaking to his widespread trouble, he actually was referring to Absalom who rose up against his father, and who tried to wrest the kingdom from him. Pitiful are these opening words when David wails,

“LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me,”

and then continues in verse 2 by noting that his enemies harshly castigate him by saying that not even God can help him.

“There is no help for him in God.”

So much is contained in these two short verses. The deplorable thought of a son who would speak and act against a godly father is a subject that is filled with much pathos and tragedy, and though in the end Absalom came to a bitter death, the hurt expressed here is wrenching. Discouraged and bruised, David moans aloud his rebuke of the troops that have gathered against him.

Are not family hurts and schisms the most grievous of all. Can not our children or our parents or our close friends gash our minds and cause excruciating heart wounds such as can no one else. They who are so dear and precious wield dreadful power of extraordinary injury.

And so David laments.

And then, interestingly, is introduced the word Selah, an expression that is not totally or clearly understood. In the main–though the term probably has to do with a rest in a musical score–the term calls for a break from reading, a space to contemplate what has just been read, a respite, a moment of cogitation, of reflection. The word is used only in the Psalms, and once in the book of Habakkuk.

Verse 3, through the concluding one, note a drastic change in tone, one in which David remembers that God is a “lifter of mine head.” What a tremendous word-picture is that of our Jesus bending over one of us–defeated, enemies around us, maybe bleeding, perhaps mortally wounded–BUT Jesus lifts our head! He restores us, soothes our hurts, wipes our tears, mends the broken places in our hearts.

David snatched himself out of his gloom, and reports being able to sleep, even though the enemy was all about him, having courage restored, and knowing that God had torn apart his enemies, even to the breaking of their teeth!

Love this Psalm, although its early verses are painful.


My other blog is here.

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

Love it!


My other blog is here.

The Paradox of “Good” Friday

I’ve thought often about today in history, and of our reference to the Friday before Easter as being Good Friday, and of how in a very significant way, it was anything but good. Not all parts of the world speak as we do. According to Wikipedia this Friday is described in various ways.

No matter which word we choose, the word proves to be a paradox.

Good Friday, you say? How could such a day have been good?

“And he (Judas) came to Jesus…and kissed him.”

“Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands.”

“Then began he (Peter) to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew…And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.”

Great Friday, you say? How could such a day have been great?

“And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

“And they all forsook him and fled.”

Holy Friday, you say? How could such a day have been holy?

“And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face…”

“Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him…”

“And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head…”

More to truth do these countries speak:

Day of Christ’s Suffering

“And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha where they crucified him…”

Sad Friday

“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, Mary…”

Long Friday

“And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews…came therefore and took the body of Jesus.”

And yet, I fully understand Good and Holy and Great. For on that memorable Friday, salvation for all mankind was wrought.

“And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

“Jesus said, ‘It is finished.'”


My other blog is 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.


    My other blog is here.




    A Lamb Story

    One of the most touching stories Jesus ever told was that of a shepherd, who, discovering that one of his sheep is missing, leaves the others who are safe in the fold–braves the elements, the darkness, and the unknown to find the lost sheep. And when he finds that shivering and cold one, the sheep who is injured and hurting, he gathers him up, lays the exhausted sheep around his neck, and makes again the long dark trek to the comfort of the fold. There he feeds the lamb and tends its wounds. He calls loudly to the others, “Rejoice, I have found my sheep that was lost.” Luke 15

    Once when I didn’t even know what was going on, when I was yet a child Jesus saw my wandering steps and understood the danger I faced. He left the others, the ones already safe in the arms of salvation, and came after me. He gathered me up in His arms–me, a ten-year-old girl, naive, ignorant of the challenges of life I would face, needy, sinful and lost. Jesus came after me, secured me safely in the fold of salvation. He continues to watch over me, to tend me and to bind my wounds. How grateful I am.


    My other blog is here.

    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.

    best regards,

    Ton Cremers


    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


    My other blog is here.

    Ever Learning

    “I didn’t go to the Bible study because I was ‘dogsitting.'” Actually she said she was “taking care of the babies,” but both she and Jerry knew she was referring to her caring of two small dogs. Admittedly, adorable dogs…pampered dogs.

    I wasn’t there when she said it, but Jerry told me about it later. I just stared as he relayed the message, and a kind of sadness settled over me. For the one who said that to him is really a sweet and loving person, who in many ways has begun to reach out for God, and who has made great strides in ridding her life of negative and harmful habits. I feel sympathy for her…sympathy because just yet it appears this very sweet lady may need a wee adjustment in the setting of her priorities.

    But how can I judge? For often I am guilty of the same thing. Oh, it is not revealed in such flagrant demonstration as the missing of a Bible study because I don’t want to leave an animal alone. Rather it is highlighted by my limited amount of Bible reading, my pitiful measure of energy given to witnessing to other people and my small effort at intense personal prayer. God help me to improve my own life, to delve more deeply into the ways of God, to perfect my own spirit. Have patience with me God, please extend anew your grace and mercy. For without them, I am destined for damnation.

    I love the words of David in Psalm 27:4-5…and this is truly my prayer.

    “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion; in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.”

    I do desire my Lord. I do want to seek after Him. I do want to dwell in His house and behold His beauty.


    My other blog is here.

    To Grasp a Hand

    “As the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various kinds of diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on each of them and cured them.” Luke 4:40

    Picure of doctor holding Baby Samuel's hand

    I recall the startling jolt I received when I first saw this picture and read the story associated with it. I was in the public library in Junction City, Oregon, the magazine in which the image appeared was outdated, and (confession coming) I wanted to tear out that page and keep it. I resisted that evil urge, though, and left the magazine intact. I’ve never forgotten that tiny baby hand holding onto his “saviour”, nor do I suppose I ever will.

    A striking message is here: Each of us need other human beings. We need to stroke them, to be with them, to depend on them…We need to heal people by touch, by grasping their hands, by offering a finger. Jesus did, our supreme example, our Master, our Teacher. And though we cannot heal as He did, we are commanded to “heal the sick,” to touch people, to “lay hands” on the needy.

    Dr. Joseph Bruner at Vanderbilt is known for his work in fetal surgery, especially on babies with spina bifida, a condition in which the spine does not close properly during development. Vanderbilt confirms that little Samuel Armus was 21 weeks-old in the womb which makes the surgery very risky because if anything goes wrong, the baby cannot survive on its own. Dr. Bruner and his colleagues, however, have done numerous successful spina bifida surgeries on fetuses that are not yet viable. In this particular surgery, the baby’s hand poked out of the incision in its mother’s womb and Dr. Bruner says he instinctively offered his finger for the baby to hold. Most versions of the story say the baby reached out and grasped Dr. Bruner’s finger, but in an article in USA Today on May 2, 2000, Dr. Bruner says both the mother and the baby were under anesthesia and could not move. Michael Clancy, the photographer who took the picture and who owns the copyright to it says, however, that out of the corner of his eye he saw the uterus shake and the baby’s hand pop out of the surgical opening on its own. Clancy says that when the doctor put his finger into the baby’s hand, the baby squeezed the finger and held on. You can read Clancy’s description of the experience and more about the picture at his website at

    Update: The surgery was successful and little Samuel Armas was born on December 2, 1999, and has been developing well, according to his parents, Alex and Julie Armas.

    More here at Freerepublic.


    My other blog is here.