Whatever is Pure - September 2005
The Father Of Compassion And The God Of All Comfort
Turn on the news, read the newspapers or talk to anyone on the street in North America right now and the horrors of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama should drop you to your knees in prayer. As you touch the lives of those effected directly or indirectly, you may stumble as to how best to minister, once practical needs are met.
Inconsolable grief. The dictionary defines it as: sad beyond comforting; incapable of being consoled. I have experienced such grief in my own life and have witnessed it in the lives of my friends, family and loved ones.
I find it heart-wrenching to be witness to such grief often more than to be 'in' such grief. I want to take their pain away; I want to apply that 'cure-all' salve that takes away the grievous injury to their heart. I long for the words that stops the anguish, answers the questions, soothes the spirit. Watching my loved ones in such pain, I would do anything to take them out of that pain. I stumble for words, my heart races and I search my mind for 'just the right' word or the 'right' bible passage. Before I have a chance to speak them, however, I usually have a check in my spirit, the Lord gently reminding me of what my friends need at that very moment.
They don't need my answers. They don't need my wisdom. They don't need a plan; they don't need a theological discourse on why there is evil in the world. Words can assault their ears and bruise their already wounded hearts. What they need is simply - me - and my ability to listen and to simply be with them in the very place they are in.
I remember vividly the reception that followed my brother's funeral. My parents house was swamped, over 200 people crammed in every nook and cranny of the split-level. Wandering through the crowds of Christians, nonbelievers, relatives, neighbours, church folk, people from work, they were all there to bring comfort and to be comforted. Words washed over me and off me and I only have brief memories of some of the younger people there, who in their own discomfort tried to counsel me to buck up, cheer up and praise God, that I was sinning if I could not truly rejoice that my brother was in heaven. At that moment, I selfishly only wanted my big brother's arms around me and hear one of his corny puns. I've since forgiven them, as they were so young. I found a quiet nook to sit, pressed up against a kitchen counter and leaned against the wall. Immediately, someone came along and wanted me to tell them about my 'work for God' in Ontario. I know his heart was full of good intentions but I politely excused myself. I literally elbowed my way through the hallway, politely murmuring as I went, until at last I was outside.
Shivering, as it was a cold April day in Alberta, I took deep cleansing breaths and looked skyward, sending a silent plea to the Lord for something. Something I couldn't put to words. Suddenly, my name was called and I turned around to find open arms outstretched. Not a word was said as I was enfolded in the loving embrace of a dear friend. Another friend came alongside her to shelter us both from prying eyes. My pain was too deep for words, even for tears, but I received what I needed at that moment. The freedom to just.. Be. All I could say after a few minutes was two words. "I hurt." And they held me some more. I felt a divine infusion of strength, love and grace pour into me that upheld me and lifted me to be able to be a support to my parents until it was time for me to leave once again.
If someone in your life is hurting right now, could I encourage you to take the brave step of just.. being with them? Staying still, listening to them, listening even to the pain in their silence? It is indeed a brave act to sit quietly in the place of grief and not to pull that person out of their grief when it is not yet time for them to leave that place.
2 Cor 2: 3-7 (NIV) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
© Katherine Walden
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In the Valley Alone
I will not leave you as orphans but will come to you..... John 14:18
Lets face it. There are times, when we walk through situations and seasons in our lives, when we are lonely. We even feel very much alone. No one is exempt. Its just part of life.
In these past few weeks I have been walking through one of these valleys. At times, loneliness has quietly crept up and unexpectedly pounced on me. Sometimes seemingly from out of nowhere, sort of like being hit with a wave.
Even though I have felt lonely, I haven't been in this valley alone. Far from it. Many, many relatives and friends, some I don't even know, have consoled, comforted, supported, and greatly loved me during this time. Countless kindnesses, prayers, and blessings. Yet some things we hold close, in our hearts, and they belong to no man except us.
I would rather be on a mountain top experience. I love those seasons. Yet I've learned most of life is lived somewhere in-between. And I've learned its all good. And, its all a gift.
All the years my dad lived alone, after mom died, I would often say to him, "I don't like you being alone on Sundays (or a holiday, or birthday)" and he would always say, "I'm not alone! Jesus is right here with me." He said it so often, that the reality of that finally began to sink in. In every way, Jesus was his companion, there at the house, right there with him.
As I've thought about this, the beautiful beloved 23rd Psalm came to mind, where David says,
Even though I walk through the valley …….You are with me.
We all have been, or will be, in a valley season during our life journey. It is beautiful beyond belief, and peaceful beyond our finite minds comprehension, to know and sense the truth of the words in the Bible, that bring comfort and healing.
In the valley I may feel lonely, but am I alone? Not really; JESUS is with me. He's right here with me.
Sally I. Kennedy
Author of "Words from the Heart" and " Little Parables from Ireland" (Creation House Press)
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She woke abruptly to the alarm clock "beeping its lungs out!" The hated alarm clock-was there anyone out there who looked forward to waking up to an alarm clock? Rolling out of bed, she walked over to her computer and sat down briefly to see who had emailed, blogged, or faxed her in the night. Her cell phone had a new text message reminding her about a get together for the singles at her church on Sunday. She headed to the kitchen to fix the "precious brew of beans." Nothing was better than a good cup of coffee in the morning.
Back to the computer to check the chat rooms and who was on this morning. A couple quick IMs to friends who were on her buddy list, then off to the shower to get ready for school. Where was her Romeo? Surely, the man of her dreams would show up any day now and sweep her off her feet. Yet, would she have any time for him between her friends, work, lunch dates, and weekend schedule? Hummm…she hurried off to school. Just before pulling into the school parking lot she prayed "God please help me get a good grade on my test today."
In this world, everything fights for priority in our life. Work demands the most precious 40+ hours of our life. Sleep needs time, as do family, eating, and some relaxing. For singles, finding that elusive lover consumes time and energy unlike any other activity. Just those few items takes most of our time and there is little left, if any, to do anything else.
In church on Sundays, we are reminded that we have not given much time to God during the week, except for the prayers we prayed before meals. However, He is God and knows our thoughts even before we think them, right? God is the most available of all the people that we should focus our time on, yet He is the most overlooked. Maybe God should become only as available as we are to Him, or has He already? When is the last time you heard God speak to you?
Martha in the bible had the same problem with being too busy to hang out with God. In fact, she had Jesus over to her house to hang out and nearly ignored Him.
"Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me."
And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38-42
Martha was busy worrying about temporary things ignoring what her priorities should be. She, like Mary, could be hanging out with Jesus the very Son of God, who would buy her eternal life with His own death. We too, like Mary and Martha, could spend any amount of time we would like, hanging out with the Trinity. Not just on one occasion like with Martha, when they are at our house, but anytime and any day. Likewise, it is foolish beyond measure to have the writings of so many wise men compiled into a book called the Bible and to ignore them. Yet, many go about their daily tasks and relationships and never give a second thought to how basic the important priorities in life are. The world will steal away all types of time and energy from us if we let it. When instead, everyday we could make it a priority to spend just a little time with the One who created us, which is worth more than any other way we could spend our time.
What do we spend the hours of our days focused on and do we spend them in the best possible way? Tomorrow you will have at least 12 hours that you will be awake; could any of those be spent hanging out with God? Spending time with God according to the bible should be the single most important priority in each of our lives. Next should be the time we spend with our family. Mary recognized that nothing was more important than spending time with Jesus and Martha spent her time worried about things that were only temporary. There are hundreds of things each morning and each day that could occupy our time and priorities, God asks for only a portion of it when as our creator, He could demand it all.
2004-2005 © Scott Michael Ringo All Rights Reserved
The Sinner's Hope
Behold !The Lord upon the throne
He calls everyone to be His own
He welcomes everyone having a desire to atone
Hallelujah! Praise God! We are no longer alone.
Behold God Almighty, behold our king!
His power, His might forever rise high
Let us sing, let our praises ever ring
For surely, oh surely, we'll never die.
For we have believed, trusted in His care
And He was faithful and delivered us from Satan's snare
On His Son, our Saviour, we depended
We have been cleansed, every sin repented.
No longer do we fear of being rejected
Nothing makes us disappointed and dejected
For the Lord, who is in Heaven, loves us
With a rich blanket of love He covers us.
Oh, what love! He loved us to the point of death
He shed His blood on the cross to lend us breath
Oh, what compassion; oh, what grace!
Oh, what mercy do we see upon His face!
His love is so pure, His love is so tender,
His love is so compassionate, He forgives the offender
Howe thank you Jesus! Our lives to you we surrender
Clothe us Father, with righteousness and splendour.
Lord God, to be with you we long
Where there's many a praise and many a joyful song
Where we can quench our thirst from the River of Life
And satisfy our hunger from the Tree of Life.
Come, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, come!
Come and take us away to join your kingdom
We will wait, Mighty Father, for the trumpet's call
And then, we will rejoice with you at Satan's fall.
© Sneha John
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