Encouragement, JustTalk, My Thoughts, relationships, testimonies

THE Most Powerful Redemption Story Ever

My family has been going through the “Avatar: The Last Airbender” series for family night. It’s been really fun, but more than that–it’s been very enlightening. And I’m not talking eastern mysticism. I mean truth. We recently finished the series, and this article is about a specific scene on the very last disc, so–I’ll only say this once–SPOILER ALERT!!!

 

Zuko was an amazing character. He was really childish at first. I didn’t like him–he didn’t even look cool with that ridiculous ponytail making his scar stick out like a sore thumb. But as the series went on, I grew to appreciate his pain and struggle, because it was relatable. He was meant to represent the very essence of the struggle between light and darkness, between good and evil. And, honestly, I think the writer(s) did a pretty good job with that. There’s not always an easy answer or a clear path. And we all have scars from past wounds. Usually from someone with our last name….The madness and mental instability, the pain and struggle–that’s relateable. Now, this story was made for children, so we can scream out the obvious right answer from the sidelines (like he can really hear us) and think of him as an idiot for choosing darkness–AGAIN. But, when we take a look at our own lives, when it is us on stage with everyone else on the sidelines, we realize that it’s not so easy to see the big picture. All we can see is what’s right in front of us. Everything else gets lost in the moment. We choose the dark far more often than Zuko, honestly. We are far more dual than we care to admit….

 

I have acted in plays before. I can tell you that there’s this funny feeling I get when I’m up on stage. It’s like my mind goes completely blank, and it’s only because I’ve carved my lines into my mind that I can remember them at all. Everything feels kinda hazy–like I’m doing everything on-the-fly. No practice, no prep, it’s all me in my bare nakedness, just winging it and hoping I don’t ruin everything. I can sit back and laugh at that now, because I’m not standing on a stage. Or, rather, because I don’t see the stage I’m standing on. Yet aren’t I doing the same exact thing every day of my life? I’m just flailing around, trying to get my lines right, messing things up A LOT, and just hoping that, in the end, it’ll all come together and touch the audience somehow. The world is my stage, and I’m a character in this play whether I want to be or not. If you watched my life, you could sit back and yell at me from the sidelines about what an idiotic decision I’m making and how it’s so obvious I should be doing something else (and, believe me, you’d be doing that a lot), but, like Zuko, I get lost in it all and I’m just trying to make it, struggling between the darkness and the light, never really understanding which one is going to satisfy me, even though the answer is obvious. In the end, though, like Zuko, I choose the light. But not before a lot of scars are made and a lot of people are hurt….

 

Despite Zuko’s folly, I grew to love him as a character. Sure, he WAS pretty childish, but remember he was still basically a child. He was terribly sorry for all he had done, but there was nothing he could do to make it right. His suffering would not make it right. Good works would not make it right. Correct philosophy could not fix the damage. What does one do when they kneel before the one they’ve hurt and there is nothing–NOTHING–they can do to fix it?

 

The answer is only that mercy is necessary. Because vengeance, violence, suffering–these things will not heal. They will only worsen the pain. So, the answer is obvious. You are at the victim’s mercy. Literally. You must be at their mercy. They have to let go of the past and grow something new in its place….

 

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And that moment, when Zuko knelt before his uncle, tears streaming down his face, begging Iroh to forgive him for all his foolishness–that moment as Iroh clutched Zuko tightly in his arms, tears streaming down his own face–that moment when Zuko was unworthy but found grace–it struck a chord with me. It resonated with my own heart. Because, there I was, kneeling before the One I had betrayed, the One who had loved me, cherished me, grown me, cared for me–I was kneeling before the One whom I had hurt the most, tears streaming down my face, begging for forgiveness–and I found grace. I could have wept. The moment was moving for me. It touched me deeply. This was no children’s tale. It is the story of every prodigal son who ever knelt before their Father figure and found grace. Countless lives, innumerable souls, all finding the same grace He extends freely to everyone who will take it. Because, like Uncle Iroh with Zuko, God loves us deeply and only wants what is best for us. He sits there by our side while we drive around madly on a wild goose chase, going a 100 miles an hour in the wrong direction, and He sighs, trying to steer us the other way. But we don’t listen. He stays with us as, time after time, we fail in our endeavors to bring satisfaction to our souls and honour to our name, and He tries to tell us the answer. But we don’t listen. He leaves us in silence as we fume and rage, trying to find our own way. He weeps with our weeping, rejoices for our small gains, and ever watches, heavily, as we choose darkness over and over again, betraying Him with our every step….And, after we have run our last mile, worn out all our efforts, and come to our wits’ end, He whispers to us softly the hard truth. It is then that the paths diverge….

 

Some of us, as Zuko did, will ultimately choose the light, and will come weeping before Him with all our shattered pieces, expecting all the well-deserved wrath to be poured out on us. But, instead, He wraps us up in His arms, weeping for our ultimate return to Him, cherishing our very being, though we’ve hurt Him more than we’ve hurt anyone else. He gives grace, and, ultimately, He will let us rule with Him in a new kingdom of prosperity and peace and love….

 

Yet others will be Azula, choosing the maddening darkness until their very last breath, and meeting the ultimate ruin of their own selves, because they would not heed the light. For all my lack of care for Azula throughout the series, in that last moment, when she is wailing and squalling like a small child, trapped and helpless, at her literal wits’ end, I had nothing but pity for her. I wanted to help her, but there was nothing left to help….

 

As for the Fire Lord, well….We know his end. His power will ultimately be taken away, to do no more harm to anyone ever again….

 

For now, I’m still on the stage. I’m still flailing and wandering. I’m still being clutched in my adoptive Father’s arms, still weeping because the pain is yet too near, the struggle yet too real. I am still often betraying Him, yet I find a neverending supply of grace. He has every right to be angry–to eliminate me–but He chooses to love and forgive me instead. And that brings healing. That brings redemption. Because of that, I am being made new. And this, my friend, is the greatest redemption story ever. πŸ™‚

 

 

~Peeps~

 


***DISCLAIMER: Images used in this article are not mine! They are strictly the porperty of their original poster….***

 

 

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Holidays, My Thoughts, Plight of the Poor, song lyrics

A Christmas Story in Their Affliction

(Picture not my own…)

 

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer

Our spirits by Thine advent here

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night

And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

(~”O Come Emmanuel”)

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One thought plagues my mind this Christmas, and I am constrained to share it with you all. This message really starts with one small baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger….

 

As we marvel at the “Christmas Story” of Jesus’ birth, I cannot help but thumb through His life. It helps me put things into perspective. As we follow Jesus through the Scriptures, we find him mentioned as a baby at his birth and dedication (and pre-birth prophecies) and then as a toddler when the “wise men” show up, bearing gifts. This is all-too-familiar to us and many grow weary of hearing it. But time goes on. Jesus really was a human. He didn’t stay in the manger. He grew up. Think about it…

 

He played with toys, no doubt, and perhaps some neighborhood sports. He had friends and siblings and family. He undoubtedly worked as Joseph’s apprentice in carpentry. He was the first-born son, so he would have been expected to take up the family business. He kept the Sabbath and followed the law and celebrated whatever Jewish holidays were on the calendar. He shared gifts and meals and stories with real people. Can you imagine kid Jesus laughing with you about how much fun you had out on the lake? Or talking excitedly with you about an upcoming holiday? Or how about him tripping over something in the floor and spilling his food everywhere? He was really there. Undoubtedly, people around him thought him a strange child. He never sinned; so no fighting or lying or stealing or dishonoring his parents–the usual childhood diseases. He wasn’t even greedy or obnoxious or prideful or mean or ill-tempered. I mean, when you really try to imagine a child like that, they begin to seem fantastical, don’t they? I imagine the women getting together for general gossip and talking about how abnormal Jesus was. Imagine the things they must have said to Mary! Anything from,

 

“Your son is soooo well-behaved! I wish my kids were more like that….”

 

to

 

“I’m telling you, Mary. There’s just something not right about that boy. Something unnatural….He’s got to be ill in the head! Look at him stalking off alone all the time! I really worry about him, Mary….And the way he talks….”

 

And, for a moment, place yourself in his siblings’ shoes! It can be summed up in one statement:

 

“Oh, really, James?! Why can’t you be more like Jesus???”

 

I mean, when you think about it, Jesus must have had a pretty rough childhood. The next time Jesus is mentioned (chronologically) is when he was 12 years old. He and his family made the trek to Jerusalem for the Passover. By a bizarre set of misunderstandings (I have actually witnessed something similar before), Jesus was accidentally left in Jerusalem. After a frantic and painstaking search FOR THREE DAYS, his parents find him in the temple having a deep theological discussion with the rabbis there. The rabbis were astounded with his depth of thought and understanding, especially for someone so young. We all know the story, right?–

 

(Luke 2:46-51; KJV)

“And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.”

 

One thing that sticks out to me is that Mary asks Jesus, “Why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been searching frantically!” She calls Joseph “your father”. Understand, even though Joseph was Jesus’ father by law, he was not Jesus’ biological father. I sometimes wonder what Jesus called him, especially when I see Jesus’ response here. Mary makes a statement about Joseph as Jesus’ father, and Jesus points her to who his Father really is. Interesting….The next time we read about Jesus (other than Luke’s words that “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”) is at his baptism.

 

But here’s my point in sharing this today: Notice something here. As you read through Jesus’ baptism and ministry and death and resurrection–Do you notice that someone seems to be missing? Joseph. After Jesus’ episode in Jerusalem when he was 12, we never read about Joseph again. Matter of fact, when Jesus is on the cross, he gives the care of Mary over to John (John 19:26-27), which he would not have done unless Jesus was the primary caretaker of her. We can only assume that Joseph passed away sometime between Jesus’ 12th year and his baptism.

 

Now, most of us don’t ever imagine Jesus crying. Yet we see clearly two times when he did, and strongly: 1.) When Lazurus died and 2.) in the garden of Gethsemane. So, we know he was certainly capable of feeling deep sorrow. Think about it though–He was human! He lost his dad, even if it wasn’t his biological father! Imagine it–his whole family grieving. His mother suddenly a widow. Jesus finds himself fatherless, in the physical sense. And then it hit me harder: Jesus was the firstborn son. It would have fallen on his shoulders to provide for the family and be the caretaker of his mother and father to his siblings. He could have been as young as 12 or 13….

 

This makes me remember what Isaiah said in the prophecy:

 

(Isaiah 53:3a&4a; KJV)

“He is…a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief….

Surely he hath borne our griefs,

and carried our sorrows….”

 

This is the beauty of the whole story encompassing Christmas to Easter. God the Son forsook His royal throne in heaven to descend to earth. He was born from a woman just like you or me. I mean, for several years, he was just an abnormally good and wise young boy. He cried. He laughed. He played. He cuddled. He giggled. He pooped. He had sleepless nights and illnesses and simple childhood woes. He had siblings who squabbled and talked with him and imagined futures of carpentry and marriage and wealth–perhaps a way out of a poor man’s life….He was just a kid. He was just Joseph’s son. But he wasn’t. As he pointed out to his mother, he was someone more than they could imagine or grasp. Their beloved Messiah was among them that entire time. Can you imagine them praying in the synagogue for the messiah to come and save them, weeping for the prophesied One to come, all the while he was sitting their as a growing young fatherless poor man in their congregation. He was bowing his head and seeking the Father’s will and learning who he was and why. And all those people who expected him to take up his “father’s” role as a carpenter were astounded when he told them he was called to be a rabbi. He was a human yet God. He was humbled into human form though he held all glory in his being. And for all of who he was, and all of what he deserved, he chose to come into a poor family. He chose to be a fatherless child. He chose to be a widow’s son. He chose to bear our griefs and carry our sorrows, and know intimately what it means to be human. And the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all….

 

Therefore, this is for you, the fatherless and widows who suffer with your own afflictions: My dears, he was also afflicted. He knew personally the griefs of widowhood through his mother. He experienced the grueling trials of being fatherless. He knew what it meant to lose someone. He knew what it meant to feel loneliness. He knew what it was for no one to believe in him or think much of him. He knew what it meant to be overlooked and forgotten. He too had to remember that he was not truly fatherless, that he had a father in heaven, just like you and I. He knew. He felt. He was there. It is because of this that he is able to bear your sorrows and carry you through your trials. It is because he went before you that he is able to be with you and understand you. It is because he humbled himself and gave himself over to his meager life that he now is there, knowing where you are and holding the answers, pointing you to your real Father in heaven….

 

(Acts 17:27; KJV)

“That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:”

 

Take comfort: he knows your pain and he is there. When you feel overlooked or forgotten, he is there. When you feel helpless and alone, he is there. When you are poor and and hungry, he is there. When you are hopeless and desperate, he is there. He is not far from any one of us, but his heart is nearest to and hurting for “the fatherless and widows in their affliction” (James 1:27). Trust me, he cares. You can never imagine just how much….

 

Merry Christmas to you all and remember what we celebrate: We celebrate God become man to forgive and walk with each of us every day–all who will come to him. Celebrate the gift of Jesus, and remember his sacrifices as you begin a new year bearing his name….

 

 

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(Isaiah 53; KJV)

“Who hath believed our report?

and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant,

and as a root out of a dry ground:

he hath no form nor comeliness;

and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

He is despised and rejected of men;

a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief:

and we hid as it were our faces from him;

he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

 

Surely he hath borne our griefs,

and carried our sorrows:

yet we did esteem him stricken,

smitten of God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions,

he was bruised for our iniquities:

the chastisement of our peace was upon him;

and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have turned every one to his own way;

and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,

yet he opened not his mouth:

he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter,

and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb,

so he openeth not his mouth.

He was taken from prison and from judgment:

and who shall declare his generation?

for he was cut off out of the land of the living:

for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

And he made his grave with the wicked,

and with the rich in his death;

because he had done no violence,

neither was any deceit in his mouth.

 

Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied:

by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many;

for he shall bear their iniquities.

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great,

and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;

because he hath poured out his soul unto death:

and he was numbered with the transgressors;

and he bare the sin of many,

and made intercession for the transgressors.”

 

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Plight of the Poor

Let us Help the Sick; Let us aid the Weary

http://www.gfa.org/cs/medical-ministry/?cm_mmc=GFA-_-Email-_-2903832-_-160405%20Digest%20317%20WB64-G100%20(1)%20remainder

 

What can I say that has not already been said? Live like Jesus. Walk in His steps. If He needs clothed, clothe Him. If He needs food, feed Him. If He needs medical aid, aid Him. If He needs upliftment, uplift Him. Whatever the need, we are called to meet it. And He said that if you do these things to the least of these, you have done them to Him. (Matthew 25) Let us go forth weeping and sewing so that we may return rejoicing, bringing our sheaves with us (Psalm 126:). Let us help the sick. Let us aid the weary. πŸ™‚

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Plight of the Poor

Earthquake Victims Receive Warm Blankets in Time for Winter

 

Because there’s still a need and there are still hurting people. This disaster left it’s mark and it’s our job to be with them. God, please provide for the needy and helpless….

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Holidays, My Thoughts, Plight of the Poor

Too Full to Care

*This is an artilce that was supposed to be posted the day after Thanksgiving, but the holidays were too busy for me to really remember and post it. So, today, the first day of a new year, we are going to enjoy a little flashback from the previous weeks of holiday cheer:

 

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A heavy tension hung in the air. Their was a steady build-up as the week progressed. But now it was finally here. Thanksgiving had arrived at last!

 

All through the week-long holiday break, I had prepared mentally for this day. “No overeating,” I told myself, “Absolutely no gluttony this year.” When Thanksgiving morning finally came, it was the most gorgeous day we had had in a long, long while. Perfect for the holiday! As we cooked and made ready, an excited tension welled up in us with each moment.

 

I kept focussed.

 

The day progressed, and I had the best Thanksgiving since the ones when I was a little girl making trips to Alabama to see my grandparents for the holiday. We spent nearly the whole day there! We had so much fun! We ate lunch and laughed and talked and talked and talked. I ate more than usual but not too much. I was just over satisfactory (a huge improvement from previous years!) and I was quite pleased with myself, though slightly disappointed that I didn’t do as good as I wanted to. We stayed for hours. Then, we watched a movie and had a good time. Then, we ate supper. I did a little worse then, but still not terribly (this was an unexpected meal, to be honest). We stayed a little while longer talking, but finally had to go since my grandmother was about to fall over with fatigue. So, we left.

 

When we got home, we unpacked everything and started settling down. It was late now. As I finally managed to make it to my room, I thought, “I’m so full!” I glanced over at the clock. 7:40pm.

 

“Hmm…” I thought, contemplating this, “I wonder what my missionary sister-in-Christ is doing.” (I have a copy of her schedule for a normal week.)

 

I dug out the schedule, but already I knew. Between 7 and 8 ( It would be A.M. where she was, and ~30minutes before our time), she would be eating breakfast…..Breakfast. She would be eating breakfast. In India. A small breakfast, no doubt. And risking her life daily to proclaim the Gospel.

 

 

And I had just complained about being too full.

 

 

I nearly broke down into tears. What had I done? Didn’t I care? I am less ignorant about the extreme poverty in places like India, yet I am “too full” to care. “What am I doing?!” I asked myself.

 

That’s a valid question. What am I doing? What am I living for? Am I satisfied with overeating and squandering my God-loaned resources when His command is to give relentlessly? Am I satisfied with letting my poverty-stricken brothers and sisters do all the work while there is a world of resources I could be sharing to further the Kingdom of God? Am I satisfied living for nothing but myself? Brethren, this is far too small a thing to live for! What a worthless treasure! O what guilt and shame to stand before the almighty and holy God and give account for my self-centerdness! What a waste to stand before the One I love and tell Him of all the reasons why I spat in the face of all He suffered for! O what tears of bitter grief I write this with even now! Am I satisfied with this? Knowing what will one day be? Knowing the souls that are in hell that I could have reached had I not been too preoccupied with pleasing myself?

 

I am determined that this shall never more be. I will not continue to be too full to care. I am tired of living for myself. God, stamp eternity once more on my eyes and show me what is truly worth living for. I will follow You.

 

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***Picture was done by Unnibabu on Deviantart. It is entitled, “beggar and burger(Poverty)”. http://unnibabu.deviantart.com/art/beggar-and-burger-Poverty-574356890

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Holidays, song lyrics

Beauty in the Ashes: Remembering to Love the Forgotten

 

‘Twas the night before Christmas

When all through the house

Every creature was stirring,

Perhaps even a mouse!

 

Indeed, my parents were wrapping gifts and finding a place to put them (since we didn’t put a tree up this year) while my brothers chatted away excitedly in their room (sharing a wall with mine. Fun.). Even I was up, but I couldn’t breathe (Sinuses. Only in Mississippi are there tornado watches/warnings in 70Β°F weather at Christmas time). Christmas lost some of its magic for me some time ago, when I truly experienced the materialism of our culture. We opted for a small Christmas this year. So, I wasn’t quite so excited about gifts. I wanted it to be about more than that. I wanted to focus on higher things. Focus….

 

So, I decided to read some Scripture (sleeping wasn’t really an option, even if it was 9:30pm and I hadn’t slept well the night before). What to read? Well, what better place than in Luke for this season? So, I decided to start at the very beginning. Chapter 1.

 

 

I didn’t get far.

 

 

Something immediately got my attention. Verses 5-6 of Chapter 1β€”β€”

 

“There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”

 

I did a double-take. Now, I don’t know about you, but I thought Mary was quite somebody, the way she took the whole thing. But this! This was way more mind-blowing! Did I just read that Zacharias and Elisabeth walked in the law blamelessly??? I understand that they were sinners like the rest of us, but apparently they were doing pretty well at this time in their lives! I mean, to be called “righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless”! That’s serious stuff! I started thinking about that….

 

What would I give for the same to be said of me? Righteous before God…Walking in all His commands blamelessly….What would I give for such a powerful testimony?

 

This thought seemed to coincide with another thought that has been haunting me lately. Afterall, what are His commands that we should walk in? Well, I can tell you one major one:

 

(James 1:27; KJV)

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

 

This one “command” is very powerful to me. This ordinance, established primarily in the Old Testament, has impacted my life in a more violent way than perhaps any other ordinance I’ve found. And I still struggle with it….

 

 

What, God? Haven’t you seen the widows around here? They are crazy! Out of it! They don’t really need me. Besides, that’s someone else’s job. Oh. And the fatherless? They may be more messed up! How do you expect me to minister to that little boy whose Daddy is in prison and whose Momma can’t have him by law? He is absolutely messed up! I mean, do you see the way he acts?! And oh my goodnessβ€”the way he talks! No way. Not my mission field. Orphans? Er…I don’t know any…..So, that’s out of the question….What? What do you mean, “What’s your mission field then”? I have a mission field…..er….Well, you know….there are people….around….that come in contact with me occassionally….Well, what did You expect? I’m not perfect, afterall!

 

 

For years, even though I never dared to say such things to the Most Holy and High God of the Universe, I nevertheless thought them (indirectly) in my mind. I dodged around doing my part. And I am ashamed to say that it took a series of near-death experiences for me to wake up. I still try to blind myself often, but it’s over. God has completely wrecked my life. I can never go back again. It’s too painful to stay where I am. I must move forward.

 

So, why not strive to be blameless in at least this command? What I have found while reaching out of my comfort zone, was that it’s not so bad when God is already there waiting to bless everyone involved. Sureβ€”I’m not completely comfortable. I’d just as soon be at home playing Legend of Zelda Windwaker on the Wii than be in a Nursing Home with an old woman I barely know. Yet, when I did reach out or saw others reach out, I found something of far greater worth that I hadn’t seen before: beauty in the ashes, treasure in the brokeness. The smile of an old woman who is usually all alone at Christmas. when someone suddenly reaches out and helps the her find joy this season. The sparkle in the eye of the orphan who receives a gift for the first time. The neediness and hurt of the fatherless child finding healing in time spent with a new mentor. What these things are doing are of far greater value and beauty than imaginable. And all because someone followed God’s commands, perhaps not perfectly, but at least blamelessly.

 

So, this Christmas season, let us truly analyze whose life we can impact. Let us visit the widow and fatherless in their distress and try to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. Let us reach out and love somebody.

 

To go with this, I thought we should listen to our brother TobyMac, who is bringing us partially into the shoes of an orphan with a need:

 

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“This Christmas (Father of the Fatherless)”

By: Nirva Ready and TobyMac

 

 

Now Jonnie never got his wish December 25th

That’s what he said when we left the orphanage

Nine years old, but Jonnie was an old soul

Gonna spend his first Christmas in a real home

Then he showed me a picture he made the night before

A drawing of a man standin’ outside the door

He said, β€œI see him in my dreams

He comforts me when I can’t sleep”

 

Father of the fatherless

Be with your sons and daughters this Christmas

This Christmas

 

β€œBelieve in angels?”

He asked starin’ at the sky

I said I do and saw a sparkle in his eye

Big brother for the weekend, respondin’ to the season

I took the chance that givin’s better than receivin’

Two nights, a new family, some holiday cheer

We laughed and sang

Came on a midnight clear

We gave, received, and as we headed to a close

We looked to the heavens, and it started snowing blessings

 

Father of the fatherless

Be with your sons and daughters this Christmas, this Christmas

(You ain’t livin’ β€˜til you choose to give

Love and joy and peace to one of His)

Father let us not forget

The children who are all alone this Christmas, this Christmas

(You ain’t livin’ β€˜til you choose to give

Love and joy and peace to one of His)

 

[James 1:27]

Religion that God our Father

Accepts as pure and faultless is this:

That we look after orphans and widows in their distress

Merry Christmas everyone

 

Joy to the world

The Lord is come

Let Heaven and nature sing

Let Heaven and nature sing

Let Heaven and nature sing

 

Big brother turned dad in a couple weeks

Some gifts give more than you could ever dream

Started out as a plan just to do my part,

But that little man went and stole my heart

 

Father of the fatherless

Be with your sons and daughters this Christmas, this Christmas

(You ain’t livin’ β€˜til you choose to give

Love and joy and peace to one of His)

Father let us not forget

The children who are all alone this Christmas, this Christmas

(You ain’t livin’ β€˜til you choose to give

Love and joy and peace to one of His)

 

Let Heaven and nature sing

Let Heaven and nature sing

[x2]

 

From me and mine, to you and yours…

Merry Christmas

This year, reach out and love somebody, y’all

 

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β˜…DISCLAIMER: All images used on this blog are strictly copyrights of their owners. I do not claim credit/ownership for any images used here in my blog unless stated otherwise. If I have offended anyone by posting any images on my blog, please contact me via email and I will remove specified image(s) ASAP.

 

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Uncategorized

Encouragement for Sisters Lost in the Mist

[Photo not mine.]

 

Our dear sister Kinuko has blessed my heart deeply with one of her recent posts. I pray you to take a moment and read her encouragement to sisters around the globe who feel like they are in the mist and cannot get out.

 

http://japanesebiblewoman.blogspot.com/2015/12/are-you-feeling-as-if-you-were-in-mist.html

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Uncategorized

Lord, I am a Blind Sheep!β€”A Prayer from Kinuko-san

[Picture not mine]

I was so touched by dear Kinuko-san’s recent postβ€”a poem that she wrote. I asked her permission to reblog her post. You can find the original here: http://japanesebiblewoman.blogspot.com/2015/10/lord-i-am-blind-sheep-my-poem-and-prayer.html

Please go check out her site. She is such a tender maiden for our Lord. πŸ™‚

“Lord, I am a Blind Sheep”

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Lord, I am a blind sheep.

A dull sheep who runs about thoughtlessly.

Even truth-seeking heart would lose its power in front of this dullness.

The tragedy is that, though I know well that there are various wolves with sheep clothes,

walking about, seeking whom they may deceive,

I cannot hear Thy voice very well!

One day, am I going to be eaten by one of them?

Since I am blind and cannot hear very well,

would You do me a special favor?

Even after calling me by name and leading me out to the pasture,

Lord, would you continue to carry me through to the final destination?

Because of Thy servant’s dullness and weakness,

please grant me Thy special mercy.

[written by Kinuko]

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Plight of the Poor

A Call to Pity; A Call to Compassion

18k1rnfhm63tvjpg(not my photo)

<PitΒ·y

[pit-ee]

β€” noun, plural pitΒ·ies.

1. sympathetic or kindly sorrow evoked by the suffering, distress, or misfortune of another, often leading one to give relief or aid or to show mercy: to feel pity for a starving child.>

[Definition according to Dictionary.com.]

This definition perfectly describes and captures this word. Pity. What does it mean to have pity? The Bible describes God as pitiful (or full of pity):

(James 5:11)

Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

(KJV)

We that are His know this to be true. We know of the pity of God. How He loves us and is merciful toward us. We know this very intimately and we are grateful! Yet there is something that we often do not consider: that the Bible also commands us to be pitifulβ€”

(1Peter 3:8-9)

Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:

Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing:but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

(KJV)

Now, this particular verse is speaking more concerning forgiveness for wrongs done to us. But I want to focus more on the compassion side of it. Pity for the suffering. Do we, who are being made slowly more and more into the image and glory of God, follow His example of pity? Do we pity the poor, the fatherless, the suffering, the rejected, the starving, the destitute? Do we pity and care for those in need? You know, the Bible speaks much about God being the defender of the poor:

(Psalm 12:5)

For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy,

now will I arise, saith the Lord;

I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.

(KJV)

(Psalm 14:6)

Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor,

because the Lord is his refuge.

(KJV)

(Psalm 69:33)

For the Lord heareth the poor,

and despiseth not his prisoners.

(KJV)

(Psalm 72:12-14)

For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth;

the poor also, and him that hath no helper.

He shall spare the poor and needy,

and shall save the souls of the needy.

He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence:

and precious shall their blood be in his sight.

(KJV)

(Psalm 140:12)

I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted,

and the right of the poor.

(KJV)

(Psalm 9:18)

For the needy shall not alway be forgotten:

the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.

(KJV)

(Proverbs 23:10-11)

Remove not the old landmark;

and enter not into the fields of the fatherless:

For their redeemer is mighty;

he shall plead their cause with thee.

(KJV)

(Proverbs 22:22-23)

Rob not the poor, because he is poor:

neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:

For the Lord will plead their cause,

and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.

(KJV)

Matter of fact, one of the primary purposes of God’s command to Israel to rest every seven years was so that the poor may be provided for:

(Exodus 23:11)

But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat:and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard.

(KJV)

See, our Lord Jesus knows the pain of the poor. He himself became poor and endured such horrid suffering. In one of the prophecies of His death, this picture is clearly painted for us:

(Psalm 69:20)

Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness:

and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none;

and for comforters, but I found none.

(KJV)

Yeshua Himself wept and mourned. He Himself took on the form of man (already such a far fall from His riches in glory!), but not just a manβ€”a poor man. A carpenter’s son. He Himselfβ€”the Lord of the universeβ€”experienced the overwhelming trials of poverty and the pain or the lack of pity taken on the poor.

Seeing that He suffered so in poverty and that He sees the poor in their suffering, one can understand why God would have such a heavy heart for them. But He has chosen His people as the tool to provide for the poor. Now, one might think this a burden. But think. God could very easily provide for them Himself. So why doesn’t He? Why does He chose to use us? Get this: we get rewards for the good we do to them! And not just that! We get spiritual blessings and joys from it! We are taught many a spiritual lesson through them (such as humility, sincerity, temprance, faith, etc.) and find our deepest dependance on God when we are with the poor. God wants to use us so that He may bless us! It is part of His ultimate love toward us!

So, do we take pity on the poor?

I can’t help but say, “No.” on behalf of my people. My dearest friends, I look around just my bedroom (preoccupied by a sixteen-year-old girl alone) and want to weep. So cluttered that it’s hard to keep it clean, it is full of mostly junk I hardly use. And I look at myself in the mirror and want to puke. I gorge myself daily and laugh with my congregation members about how much I overeat. But this is no joke to the Lord. While we are busy hoarding it all to ourselves and working to get even more, every ~3.6 seconds someone in the world dies of hunger. Stop for a moment and take in the reality of that. It has probably taken you about 5 minutes (and that’s for the faster readers) to have read this much if this article. By the previous statistic, ~83 people died of starvation while you were reading this…………..Does anyone else notice a problem? Meanwhile, I eat enough in one meal to support an orphaned child through Holt International* for two or three days’ worth of meals! This is no joke. God takes this very seriously. Firstly, overeating is a sin (a sin of excessiveness; Philippians 4:5). Secondly, it does not just affect you. It kills other people. And considering it is done willfully, it could be considered murder to God. I don’t know. But I do know this: God takes it seriously. How much jewelry do you own? How many sodas do you drink in a day? How many concerts or expensive restaurants do you go to? How many cars do you have? And don’t think that I exclude myself in this. But this has torn me up over the past year. I cannot stop thinking about it. I no longer can laugh at overeating. I can no longer push it off like it’s nothing. For the first time in my life, surrounded by a culture that overlooks it almost completely, I am beginning to see the heart of my Lord, my Love, in this matter. And it hurts. I started noticing the passages I had simply overlooked before. And for those who will hear it, read a portion of what Scripture has to say about this (because this is by no means all of them. Simply the more promenent ones.):

(Proverbs 21:13)

Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor,

he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.

(KJV)

(Proverbs 21:21)

He that followeth after righteousness and mercy

findeth life, righteousness, and honour.

(KJV)

(Proverbs 21:26)

He [the slothful] coveteth greedily all the day long:

but the righteous giveth and spareth not.

(KJV)

(1John 3:17-18)

But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

(KJV)

(James 2:14-20)

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works:shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well:the devils also believe, and tremble.

But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

(KJV)

(Proverbs 28:27)

He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack:

but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.

(KJV)

(Proverbs 29:7)

The righteous considereth the cause of the poor:

but the wicked regardeth not to know it.

(KJV)

(Proverbs 11:17)

The merciful man doeth good to his own soul:

but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.

(KJV)

(Proverbs 14:20-21)

The poor is hated even of his own neighbour:

but the rich hath many friends.

He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth:

but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.

(KJV)

(Proverbs 14:31)

He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker:

but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.

(KJV)

(Proverbs 19:17)

He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord;

and that which he hath given will he pay him again.

(KJV)

(Psalm 10:2)

The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor:

let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.

(KJV)

(Psalm 41:1)

Blessed is he that considereth the poor:

the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.

(KJV)

(Psalm 82:3-4)

Defend the poor and fatherless:

do justice to the afflicted and needy.

Deliver the poor and needy:

rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

(KJV)

(Proverbs 22:9)

He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed;

for he giveth of his bread to the poor.

(KJV)

O my dearest, dearest sisters and brothers in Christ, how often do we misrepresent our God by the lack of pity we take on the poor! This article today is a call, a call to all those who will hear, a call to band together in unity, love, pity, and compassion! This is a call to obedience to our overwhelmingly loving and pitiful Lord! Will you please join me in an effort to free the poor from not simply their physical suffering, but also their spiritual bondage? Will you not stand up for what the Lord has commanded? Will we not change the world by such a call to compassion? All the skeptics, all the critics, what will they have to say to such a thing? For long years they have rejected our God because of our lack of love. Will you not stand with me to win back the name of Jehovah? Will you not stand with me to show the world who our God, Yaweh, truly is? Not that He needs us, but that He delights in using us for His glory. So let us then stand. Let us then answer to the call of the poor, “Yaweh reigns and cares. Here He is, living in and through each and every one of His people.” Give the world the so desperately needed light. Give them the hope that they are thirsting for. Give them Jesus.

In a last closing, I want to share with you a poem that I wrote a little while back. I truly believe it was given me. It is from the perspective of a poor widowed woman. In a time of emotional distress over the poverty of people worldwide, I could not sleep. It was a quiet night. I had just watched a movie about orphans in India. I was grieved. I could find no rest. For the first time ever in my life, reality had clutched my heart and soul. In a fit of weeping and mourning and praying, the words of this poem came to me. I quickly wrote them down. Though it may not be perfect rhyme or rythem, I pray that it touches your heart as much as it did mine that night and ever since. Thank you.

~~~Proverbs 28:27~~~

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Please don’t pass me by!

Please just take a look!

I may be dirty on the outside,

But please don’t judge my book!

Well, the truth is:

My soul is dirty, too.

But, to be honest,

It’s only ‘cuz of you.

You wouldn’t listen when I cried.

You’d just walk away.

Rather than give something up,

You’d have me face another day!

I am hungry; I am poor.

I know you have what I need.

Still, you just pass me by.

You simply refuse to heed!

Forget your God and your money!

You never cared for me!

If your God is so wonderful,

Why don’t you hear my plea?

You live in excess that I disgust!

Yet, I truly wish to be

In your position, in your place,

Caring only for me…

Still, you send SOMETHING my way.

I will grant you that.

But what did THAT accomplish?

You’re still getting fat!

Meanwhile, I watch the days go by,

Just hoping I’ll see another.

I never know when I will die.

Maybe first ’twill be my brother.

Or perhaps ’twill be my baby boy,

Or my daughter as she’s raped.

You watched, didn’t stop it.

You just sat and gaped!

Oh, hear, rich American Church!

Hear this fleeting word!

Justice is always done,

As you well know and have heard.

If this dirty shell hangs over fire,

And this you surely believe,

Then why don’t you do something?

‘Tis less than you can achieve!

Reason has it, you can see,

That I won’t listen to you

Until you’ve shown me some proof

Of what you say to be true.

Don’t you dare talk of MY sin!

You don’t follow your OWN religion!

You don’t stretch out your soul to the hungry!

You don’t take the homeless in!

No, I shan’t hear your Bible!

Not ’til I’ve seen your “light”,

Not ’til I see this Lord, through YOU,

For whom you verbally fight!

‘Tis all you do, you bloody souls:

Write papers and boycot things!

Show me your “pure and undefiled religion”

And what you know that brings!

Instead you mock and spit your dirty lies.

Don’t tell me “I can’t afford”!

Look at my baby whose starving to death

And give me that bloody sword!

Truly selfish are you all!

Your “sinners” treat me as well as you do!

Even THEY give to charities

And throw me a dollar or two!

The day you die, I hope you find

In the life that you now live

Some satisfaction and well done

In what you didn’t give!

Sadly still, I must confess,

Though if you hear these stabs,

You shall not change, still passing by,

Though your toe still lightly dabs.

Truth all be told, in what you do,

Your fate you surely bind!

Your kids shall waste, and you shall see

The price for being blind!

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(Not my photo)

(Not my photo)

*Holt International:Β http://www.holtintl.org

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