Tag Archives: compassion

Good Gifts

 

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I think that sometimes people can have a misconception of the term ‘good gifts’ as used in the Bible. When we look at what society terms ‘the good life’ and look at the lives that many Christians lead, there can be cause for some confusion.

I’m reading through Isaiah right now and right in the midst of all the terrifying prophesies of doom and destruction, I came across Is.30:18a:

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion.

It is such a beautiful reminder of God’s infinitely gracious heart. Even though His children have rebelled against Him time after time and refused to repent, He still longs to forgive them and show them His mercy and goodness.

A major aspect of the Gospel message is that God is offering forgiveness; an escape from judgment and assurance of heaven.

But I think a commonly held opinion here on earth is that if we repent and start living ‘good Christian lives,’ then God is obliged to stop ‘punishing’ us and start ‘rewarding’ us in the here and now. What we can fail to realize is that God is reward enough.

Verses like this one can be misconstrued to mean that God wants to give us prosperity here on earth. And while that is certainly true at times (I am by no means trying to deliver a ‘vow of poverty’ message), those earthly rewards should not be the be all and end all.

God loves us and will give us what He knows is best for us. Like a father refusing his child a cookie before dinner, God will not give us things that will harm us, draw us away from Him, or work contrary to His kingdom plans.

The beautiful thing about God is that He is all sufficient. The grace and compassion He offers us is so far and away more than we could ever need or ask for and is so inexhaustible. God really is enough.

All the shinies here are on earth that seem just out of reach to us can lead us to the very wrong, yet still hurtful, conclusion that God is holding out on us. We start to think that He must be punishing us for a sin, or even be taking things away out of cruelty. The end result is that we are left feeling beaten up and poorly cared for.

But God wants to satisfy us. He wants us to find our all-in-all in Him. He desires – even commands – that we live lives full of peace and joy and love. God wants you to be happy but He wants you to find that happiness in Him. Because the world does not satisfy, and it’s weak version of happiness has no staying power.True contentment can only be found in the love of Jesus.

Today, as I look around me, it’s easy to begin compiling a mental ‘wish list’ that I could start praying for. The list can become long and overwhelming very quickly, and I’m often left feeling alone and neglected. Sound familiar?

I want to start focusing more on the Giver than on His gifts. The blessing God offers me of just being His child is more than enough to sustain my short life on earth, regardless of trials and tribulations. The fact that the Almighty Creator of the Universe longs for me to call Him Daddy is all the blessing and gift I could ever need.

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Thoughts on Raising Kids from Someone who has no Kids

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(Originally published 8/15/13)

This post is a bit different from what I usually write. I love kids and though I don’t have my own (yet), I’ve worked in childcare in some capacity or other for the last thirteen years. I recently finished reading a book on Irena Sendler and it gave me a thought I wanted to share.

For those of you who have never heard of her, she was a social worker in Warsaw during World War 2. She, together with a network of helpers, rescued 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto and many adults as well. She and her associates smuggled these children out in countless different and ingenious ways, at great personal risk and sacrifice to themselves.

Irena herself was arrested at one point and spent 100 days in a Nazi prison, suffering through brutal interrogations, inhuman living conditions, and constant death threats. She was scheduled to be executed but was released by a guard who had been bribed by Irena’s friends. She was officially reported dead and had to go into hiding. Even then she continued her work.

By the end of the war she had suffered through and born witness to a level of inhumanity that most of us can hardly fathom. Still she did not stop helping. She worked tirelessly to rebuild Warsaw and reestablish the community. And she remained a staunch supporter of Jewish rights, even to the detriment of her health and home life.

With all that, the most memorable quote in the book for me actually came from Ms. Sendler’s father.

In the chapter chronicling her childhood, we learn that her father was a doctor who treated the poor, often receiving no pay and sometimes even giving his patients money for medication. He caught typhus and died after treating people during an epidemic that no other doctors would go near.  Here is an excerpt from that chapter:

“I was a very pampered child. When they visited us and saw just how extraordinarily mollycoddled I was, both my aunts, who were teachers, would say to my father: ‘What are you doing, Stanislaw? What will become of this child?’ My father would then answer: ‘We cannot know what life holds in store for my daughter. She may not have fonder memories than when she was mollycoddled.’ As I often remember how difficult my life has been, I also reflect on how prophetic those words were”

– ‘Irena Sendler: Mother of the Children of the Holocaust,’ by Anna Mieszkowska

Three times a week, I watch two little boys, ages two and four, and I don’t think I could love them much more if they were my own children. I love spending time with them for a number of reasons, not least of which is seeing all the spiritual metaphors between earthly children and spiritual children of God. Both sets of kids make so many of the same mistakes. I believe children need discipline and structure and this belief hasn’t changed. But more and more often, as I try to help these two little guys navigate the turbulent seas of toddler-hood and preschool, I feel God tug at my heart to show grace. This quote has come to mind several times already and melted my heart, filling me with compassion for the sweet little miscreants.

More than anything, I’ve come to realize just how much power we have over the situations in children’s lives and how much responsibility we carry for making them feel safe and loved. We are truly molding them as we contribute to their personalities, habits, beliefs, and memories. I see the importance of discipline and rules on a daily basis, but I also see the importance of loving them as Jesus loves us. What I mean by this is not growing frustrated with them, having a God-given endless supply of patience, praying over them, and most of all, making them feel as loved and secure as we possibly can. Since our heavenly Father’s most shining examples to us are love and grace, shouldn’t that be what we strive to show children above all else?

So I would just like to encourage all of you to give the special little one(s) in your life a hug, because you never know how much it will mean to them later.


Common Frustration

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The other morning, when I took my trash to the dumpster, I saw an elderly gentleman dumpster diving. I don’t believe he is homeless, as he looked clean and tidy and had a truck. But I still felt bad for him.

I live in a part of town where this type of thing is common place. Nearly every trip to Walmart includes a couple panhandlers. Whenever I go online, I’m bombarded with a long list of tragedies that are occurring all over the world.

So many people need help. So much change is needed. It makes me feel so small and powerless and frustrated!

But I serve a mighty God. One Who heals the sick and sets the lonely in families. One Who is beyond able to bless all those who call upon His name. One Who has equipped me for every good work.

It can be easy to fall into the mindset that one person cannot make a difference, but there really is One who can. God is good, and He is faithful, and He will even let us help. If we let Him, He will use us as His instruments to bless others. He will make a difference and He will use us to do so.

We only have to be willing and He will cause the opportunities to flood in.

One of my favorite avenues for change is the charity Compassion International. Here is a beautiful video about the difference any one of us can make in the life of a child.

Help doesn’t have to come in monetary forms either. Time can be just as beautiful a donation. Many of us don’t have to look any further than our church nursery for volunteering opportunities.

Or maybe God wants to use some of us in our own homes, and break our hearts for the hurts of those nearest to us.

Whatever the case may be, God is in control and His plan is perfect. Waiting patiently for His perfect will in this world, and committing to serve as He advances His kingdom, shows that we have faith in His promises to bring all things together for the good of those who love Him and call upon His name.

That kind of faith in action is the best weapon I know of to combat the frustration.


Blogging for Compassion

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Time for another Compassion update =)

This month, compassion is doing something pretty exciting. For the fifth year in a row, they are sending ordinary bloggers to Uganda to spread the love of Christ and write all about it.

One of the main goals on this trip is to raise awareness and we’re hoping to see 400 kids find sponsors!

Please join us in praying for the success of this mission and that God would blow our goal out of the water!

Check out the link to the right (Five Days in Uganda) for more info and the blog posts themselves and please help spread the word!


Having it Both Ways

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Last time, I wrote about how we as Christians, instead of being hypocritical, should try to imagine what it’s like for those who don’t know God. We should love on people.

But society would have us head from one extreme to the other and tell people there is nothing wrong with sin.

Today, many people are preaching acceptance and tolerance. The popular conclusion is that either you love everything about someone, or you hate/fear everything about someone. For many, it’s either tolerance or persecution.

In fact, a popular consensus is that Jesus’ main message was peace and tolerance. People who say that obviously haven’t read the Gospels.

Everywhere Jesus went, He healed the sick, cast out demons, and forgave sins. He never once told someone they were just fine the way they were.

When He encountered sick people, He healed them. After He forgave sins, He told those people to “go and sin no more”. He told those who wanted to follow Him that they would have to deny themselves and take up their cross in order to do so.

Wouldn’t it be ridiculous if a doctor said to his severely ill patient, “Oh no, you’re fine just the way you are. We’re not going to change you at all.”? That person would die without the necessary treatments and that doctor would be responsible.

So how can we think that a Righteous and Holy God, who cannot tolerate sin to the degree that He sent His Son to die as an atoning sacrifice, would then teach people that sin is acceptable?

Imagine giving your life in exchange for a cure for someone else’s disease and then telling them they are just fine and don’t need to take it. That’s ludicrous. And that is not Jesus’ message.

“Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.”

Luke 12:51

People do not like to hear that they are doing something wrong. But if we love them, and have compassion on them, we have to tell them. Even if that causes division. Even if it gets us labeled as judgmental hypocrites.

Let people call you that if they want. Just make sure it isn’t true.

As I said last time, make sure you’re preaching God’s Word and not your own set of rules.

You can show someone compassion without tolerating a sinful lifestyle that’s drawing them away from God.

You can give someone grace and tell them to repent before it’s too late.

You can give people selfless, patient love while still hating the sin that’s separating them from God.

satan wants you to believe that it’s either one way or the other. Please don’t believe him. Instead, ask God to work in your heart and love others through you.

Ask Him to fill you so full of His perfect love that it spills over onto everyone you meet, whether they like it or not.

What do you think? Can you love someone without accepting their lifestyle? Or am I way off here? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.


Hypocrisy: It’s Only Cool if I do It

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I’ve been reading and thinking a lot lately about the hypocrisy in the church and judgment vs. tolerance. I came across this passage in Luke that I think makes some interesting points:

‘But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath: and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath.” The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or his donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom satan has bound – think of it – for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?”’

Luke 12:14-16

The callousness of the synagogue ruler astounds me. Can you imagine the uproar if hospitals were closed one day of the week? Picture being sick for eighteen years and suddenly you have access to the miracle cure. Would you want to wait even one more minute?

The Pharisees took the Lord’s commandment and warped it to fit their own end. They changed the rules, manipulating the Law of God and then imposed their own ideals on the people.

Don’t we as Christians do that sometimes? Sometimes we make up the rules and when someone breaks one of those rules, it’s like God no longer has our permission to work in their lives.

Jesus came to heal the sick, but we get irked when He doesn’t follow our guidelines.

“No Lord, don’t bless her with a Godly boyfriend. I know what she did with her last one and if she were truly repentant, she would never date again and only focus on You.”

“God, why did you give him the job at the church instead of me? He goes out for drinks with his friends once a week and I haven’t touched alcohol in years.”

We Christians labor under the delusion that people have to attain a certain level of holiness before they are worthy of God’s healing power in their lives. We weigh others in our own scales and find them wanting, then we get indignant when God begins transforming them. Or sometimes, we just choose to reject their confession of faith and refuse to love and accept them as a brother or sister in Christ.

Like the Synagogue ruler, we tell them they can only be healed if they are seeking God the way we believe they should.

I love when Jesus says “think of it.”

We should never allow our religious regulations to crowd out compassion. It doesn’t matter if someone is committing the most offensive, heinous sin in the world. That only means they are all the more ill, all the more in need of God.

Think of it.

Think of being so lost you don’t even know you’re lost; so trapped in sin that you’ve fooled yourself into thinking you’re ok and don’t need to change. Think of living a life apart from God.

Do we really want to stand in the way of Jesus’ healing work in someone’s life just because He isn’t going about it the way we think He should? Are we that conceited? That uncompassionate?

Have you ever told someone to come back when it’s no longer ‘the Sabbath’? You know, after they’ve cleaned themselves up a bit? Or are you letting love and compassion govern your actions and bringing people to Jesus to be healed?

I know I’ve been guilty of holding people to my standards instead of God’s. Well, no more. I’m throwing out my scale, because it’s God’s opinion that matters, not mine. 


A New Year’s Resolution that Might Actually Work

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I have never liked New Year’s resolutions. Many things about them rub me wrong, but the thing that turns me off the most is that it seems no one ever reaches the goals they set for themselves. It seems like we all start the year off excited and energized, ready to improve! Then life happens. We switch from thrive mode to survive mode and we don’t visit the gym again, our devotion time grows slack, and we still haven’t kicked that nasty habit.

No, my typical New Year’s resolution is to have no New Year’s resolution.

But I think this year might be different.

As some of you may know, last month I started blogging for Compassion. I do this to promote awareness for children in need and to encourage others to contribute to a great charity and a cause I believe in (click the link on the right of the page to learn more). Every month, we compassion bloggers are tasked with a different topic.

This month is New Years Resolutions… yay.

But Compassion is suggesting something I’ve never come across before.

The task I’ve been given is to choose one single word for 2014. Not a phrase, verse, or sentence. A word.

The basic idea is to think about all that I want to accomplish and see happen in my life over the next year and boil it down to a single word.

The word can be anything, but it must be chosen carefully. This word is meant to guide my spiritual and personal growth through the next year.

It’s sort of a guiding star, if you will. For example, I could choose the word love and focus my next year on loving God, others, and myself more. I could choose the word generous and determine to, with God’s help, give more. I could choose the word trust and spend the next year surrendering more to the Lord.

I’m intrigued by the concept because repetition is one way God really speaks to me. I’ll hear something in a sermon or read it in a book and it will hit me right between the eyes. Then, a few days later, I’ll receive an email or read a blog with a similar message. God will usually bring a point up three or four times before it starts to penetrate with me, so this sounds right up my alley.

At this moment, I do not yet have my word. I plan to pray about it, search the Scriptures, and ask God what word He desires to use in my life.

I think this is a very intriguing idea and I’m excited to see what God does with it.

If you’d like more info, you can read about some other people’s experiences here.

If you decide you join me, I’d love to know what word you choose, why, and how God is using it in your life =)


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