Tag Archives: love

Order and Compassion

 

And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.  By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.  And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house,  let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

Hebrews 10:19-23 (NLT)

Have you read through the books of Leviticus and Numbers in the Old Testament lately? Our church is reading through the Bible this year using the app, YouVersion. This is not my first attempt to read the entire Bible but I had forgotten the detail and even tediousness of God’s instructions to the children of Israel about…EVERYTHING. There was a right way and a wrong way for every circumstance of life. I’m sure my children would say that I must be Jewish because it worked that way in our household, too. (I have a teeny amount of Jewish blood.)

But what the Israelites never seemed to master was that if they obeyed these laws, God would bless them. No, instead they whined about the rules and even wanted to go backwards in time, forgetting the horrors of slavery in Egypt and, as a result, they suffered the consequences and anger of God again and again. An eleven day walk took forty years of wandering in the desert because of their willful and disobedient ways before they finally reached the Promised Land.

The festival of Passover began the journey for God’s people because it celebrated their liberation from Egypt. God wanted them to remember the lengths He had gone to free them and gave them very specific rules for the sacrifices they offered – from what type of animal or offering, to how to wash your clothes for purification at the end. Nothing was left to chance with death to those who were careless or disobedient. Blood and water were used again and again in the rituals and ceremonies. And, always, a perfect animal specimen was required to atone for a person’s sins as a sacrifice on the altar.

Easter brings the story full circle in that Jesus exemplified every aspect of the law for this perfect sacrifice and cleansing from our sin. And He did it once and for all.

Why did God put so many rules in place? Because He is holy and we are not and often choose to go our own way in sin…just like the children of Israel. But God loved those wayward people and forgave them again and again. He knew that one day, His Son, Jesus, would become the ultimate atonement for all who turned to Him as the Lamb of God…the perfect sacrifice.

Some may think it is too easy…that we have to DO something. No, we have to give up our pride and accept a free gift because of love.

Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

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Rescued

For he will rescue you from every trap
    and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.
    His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Psalm 91:3-4 (NLT)

Where did the month go? The last post was written the day before we drove to Mesa to check out a rescue dog to see if he was a good fit for us. We had been researching various rescue sites but finally found him on Craig’s list. As we drove to meet him, we tossed around several names but decided to wait until we actually met him. It took about two seconds and he was Rusty, a Havanese with a cream-colored coat and rust accents. We took him home.

In some ways, I feel the blur, like that of a new mother only with a toddler. He raced through the house creating chaos in the wake. He had been abused, likely by a man, because he was very hesitant around Mark. The foster mom found him in the pound, all matted and dirty but longing to get out of the cage. He literally crawled to her once out, fearful and cowering. But after six weeks of care, he was ready for a forever home.

For the record, I am not the dog person — Mark is — but because of his background, Rusty took to me. It’s been a challenge to transfer the affection and devotion to Mark but after 30 days, we are well along that road.

What have I learned from Rusty?

Patience.

Endurance.

Forgiveness.

Acceptance.

Trust.

Exhaustion.

Love.

I wonder what my heavenly Father would say about me? Probably, many of the same words would fit the scenario of my life. He was there in those moments when I was cranky, willful, disobedient, and tempted to give up because it was so hard. God persevered, grabbed my hand,  and returned me to the right path. He offered help and hope.

We discovered that a gentle voice, small hand gestures, enticement with treats, and a bunch of toys helped to gain Rusty’s trust. He learned that we were not going to leave him but would be there as his family. It didn’t happen overnight but patience helped all of us to keep going.

Doesn’t our Heavenly Father offer the same to us? He speaks to us in a still, small voice, opens his hand and satisfies our desires, and promises to never leave us. We are safe and secure in his love. And, oh, how patient He is with us. His love never fails.

A dog is GOD spelled backwards. What a great example of the relationship of complete trust and love that God offers His children when we turn to Him.

 

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May I help you?

Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men.

Colossians 3:23 (HCSB)

I grabbed my number from the dispenser on the counter and lingered near to be sure I heard it when it was called. This wasn’t the first time I had stopped by for the same problem. I was at Costco attempting to get my glasses adjusted. You would think it was a simple process.

The woman called my number and as I handed her my slip to confirm that I was next, she told me to wait a minute. I followed her around the counter where I noticed she was waiting on someone else at the same time. I think she thought it would only take a minute, but those minutes stretched on. She finally handed the problem to another employee and I gave her my glasses for adjustment.

She did a couple of tweaks, had me try them on, took them back and cleaned them and said, “Thank you very much.” I left because I can’t always tell if it is right until I wear them a bit. IT WAS NOT RIGHT.

A couple of days later, I decided to try again but I did NOT want that same woman. I pulled my number and waited. Thankfully, she was busy and when it was my turn, a young man, named Christopher, turned to me and asked, “May I help you?”

After briefly explaining my problem, he took the glasses and immediately offered to change out the nose pads. “I always do this for my customers because these are much more comfortable.” Great! The time and effort that he took to adjust my glasses so that they were just right was the exact opposite of my previous experience. He really did “help me.”

Certain businesses are known for their great service — Apple, Disney, Nordstrom, Ritz Carlton, and Costco (minus this one woman who I think was having a bad day) — to name a few. Rather than just being a number, you are a person and their aim is to please you and meet your needs with respect and accommodation.

Years ago, I was a discussion leader in Bible Study Fellowship and I remember the teaching leader admonishing us to not grow weary as we headed into the final stretch of the year. She said, “Don’t just finish somehow. Finish it will all that you have.”

As believers, our impact for Christ on those around us will happen in the small circumstances of life — standing in line at the grocery, walking the dog and passing others on the street, taking a moment to say thank you to the barista, opening the door for a mom loaded with children and stroller, opening the door for the older gentleman who is a bit unsteady, dropping a hand-written note in the mail “just because,” remembering birthdays and special occasions. Smile. Eye contact. A hug. Simple expressions of love.

Jesus loved people and they loved Him back. They wanted to be in His presence…near Him…touch Him. He had a reputation of care and concern and because of that connection, they listened to His message of salvation and accepted His gift of love.

What better way to represent Him and be His public relations people than to say, “May I help you?”

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Gleanings

 So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah. She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough. Ruth 2:17-18 (NIV)

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My daughter encouraged me to read the book, Giddy Up, Eunice – Because Women Need Each Other. It’s written by Sophie Hudson and it’s a good thing I have a husband from the South or she might intimidate me with all her Southern analogies. Her writing is downright funny. Being a California girl but raised by a mom who had some southern leanings, I get ‘most of what she is saying. And, because I love mentoring young moms, I’m always looking for ways to help them know that tomorrow is another day and they will make it.

Several chapters are about the story of Naomi and Ruth. I’d never given much thought to the idea of “gleanings” but learned from the book the importance of those leftover pieces of grain, dropped by the main harvesters, to those who followed behind. For some, it was life and death, starvation or a full stomach — such was the story of Ruth.

But the “gleanings” part started me thinking. Days are full, calendars are crammed, chores never completely done. Children are calling, husbands need attention, laundry and food preparation seem endless. How do we meet the needs of those “following behind”? How do we use our leftover bits of time to meet the needs of a fellow traveler and friend?

Start by paying attention to more than just your little world. Listen to comments as you wait to pick up kids, notice Facebook or Instagram posts that indicate a family in need. (Think of flooding in Baton Rouge.) Check the prayer requests from your church. Be aware!

When God nudges you to remember a person, send a text or email to let them know you are thinking and praying for them. Drop a card in the mail. Make dinner and drop off in disposable containers. Take a turn at the hospital so they can get outside for a little fresh air.

Mark has been hospitalized several times in our married life for one thing or another. Normally, I’m alone in the waiting room or his hospital room for the duration. At times, I prefer it so that I don’t have to worry about conversation. But I will never forget the time that he was in the emergency room waiting for a room to become available, and I walked into the lobby to see all the members of my small group there to support us. What a surprise and joy! One immediately asked me what I wanted to eat from In-n-Out. (I was starving but the dining room had closed for the night.) Those wonderful people gave up a couple of hours one evening and blessed me beyond words.

Gleanings are usually simple, love-filled offerings from one heart to another. It doesn’t have to be grand. It usually happens on the spur of the moment. The only requirement is to pay attention and offer your love and support. All will be blessed.

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Resume Update

We will not hide these truths from our children;

    we will tell the next generation

about the glorious deeds of the Lord,

    about his power and his mighty wonders.

Psalm 78:4 (NLT)

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A chapter closed this week and I pulled out my resume to update it. As I scrolled down the page listing activities, accomplishments, and positions, memories flooded my mind.

I received Christ as my Savior when I was nine years old and had a camp counselor that encouraged me to be and do all that God would have for me. I always wanted to make a difference and chose to participate in areas where that would be possible. The needs of my children, community, church, and nation called out for my help. And I answered with a YES.  My mother used to say, “A thing worth doing is worth doing well,” and I endeavored to follow her advice.

Yes, my resume has some impressive entries but the final line is the most important and says it all — Married to Mark Blumberg. Two children and five granddaughters.

So why do I update my resume? Maybe, one day one of those grandgirlies will find it interesting to read and discover that Nana had a life of purpose and position. But what I want them to remember most, is that Nana loved God, leaned on Him in difficult times, always believed in hope, and loved them with all her heart.

A resume is only a snapshot of fading achievements, but a legacy of love will last for generations.

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Mercy and Grace

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

(Hebrews 4:16 NLT)

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For the past three years I have chosen a “Word for the Year.” It may have been chosen out of desperation or because I wanted more of it in my life. Or I wanted to show more of it to others: my words — Hope, Joy, and Grace. In typical Gerry-fashion, I researched and found devotionals, books, and apps to study and find inspiration.

But this year of Grace, I noticed that the words “grace” and “mercy” were often linked in the same Bible verse. Are they the same? What is the difference? Why are they linked?

No, they are not the same. After looking them both up in the dictionary, the way I remember the difference is that mercy is not getting what you deserve while grace is getting what you don’t deserve.

Our church has been studying the book of Jonah and his story is a good one to illustrate both mercy and grace.

Jonah completely disobeyed God’s instructions to go to Nineveh to warn the people and instead headed in the exact opposite direction. A terrifying storm overtook the boat that he was on and eventually the sailors threw him overboard to save their own skins. To their relief, the storm calmed and they were safe.

But Jonah? Mercy arrived in the form of a great fish so that instead of drowning, he was swallowed by the fish and allowed to live and think about his decisions. Grace showed up when he was vomited onto dry ground so that he had a second chance to obey God and head to Nineveh to rescue the city with God’s warning. The people of Nineveh listened and a great revival occurred and God spared the city (the same Nineveh in recent news reports.)

Another word for mercy is kindness. Of course, the ultimate example of grace is eternal life because Christ took the punishment that I deserved.

In doing a little research I found:

Grace is something we all need, but we cannot earn it or give it to others. It comes only through the sacrifice of Christ. Mercy, though, is something we need at various points in our lives, and is something we are expected to show toward others. 

As we think about mercy and grace, today’s verse reminds us to come confidently before the throne of God to express our love, worship, failures, and needs. He is there to offer kindness and unmerited favor because He loves us so much.

Every day, we have opportunities to do the same—show mercy and grace.

 

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Rage vs. Respect

“When they cry for help, I will not answer.

    Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.

For they hated knowledge

    and chose not to fear the Lord.

They rejected my advice

    and paid no attention when I corrected them.

Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way,

    choking on their own schemes.

For simpletons turn away from me—to death.

    Fools are destroyed by their own complacency.

But all who listen to me will live in peace,

    untroubled by fear of harm.”

Proverbs 1:28-33 (NLT)

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Who wants to turn on the TV or radio these days? Or check the internet for news? Or read the newspaper? Everywhere I turn, the images are of fire, destruction, rage, and anger. Families are being torn apart. Politicians are trying to make a name for themselves. Citizens have turned against each other. Police are disregarded.

I remember a bumper sticker from my growing-up days — Respect Authority. We have a generation of young people that ignore, taunt, fight, and are proud to tell the world of their illegal actions and disrespectful opinions. They may hide their faces under a mask or hood, but mothers know. Some are willing to grab that child and take them home.

Why is all of this happening? Because we have lost a generation that respects or fears God. He is all but buried in all forms of civil discourse. I’m not saying that injustice has not been done. But the answer for the rage and anger is forgiveness. Wanting fairness or our own way is the action of a baby or young child. As we mature, we must put away those childish behaviors and look into the mirror and see the living God. There, we find perfect love and forgiveness as He forgives us for all the wrong we have done. Then we are able to forgive others.

I don’t have an answer for these problems. But God will not be mocked. 

I do know, that my peace is in Him.

Lord, protect our nation. May we fall on our knees and ask forgiveness from you and each other. Heal our land.

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Protected

He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Psalm 91:4 (NLT)

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After living in Arizona for a few months, Mark commented that he had never seen so many birds that would rather walk than fly. Whether it is a roadrunner or a family of quail, we constantly dodge them as we drive around our neighborhood. We have affectionately named all roadrunners, “Jake.” It’s easier. They are busy birds, always seem to be in a hurry, and, much to my surprise, are meat eaters.

We have a resident quail couple that visit a pot in our courtyard each spring. Mama lays her eggs under the geranium leaves after scooping out a hollow in the soil. She lays one or two eggs over several days until there are 10-15. Papa struts on the casita roof attending to his sentry duty, overlooking his future family, ready to squawk if any danger approaches. When all the eggs are laid, Mama sits…and waits. I love it when the babies hatch, hop to the ground, and scurry all around the patio. But the most fun is to watch them line up to cross the street—Mama in the front and Papa bringing up the rear.

Quail babies make perfect snacks for roadrunners. Danger hovers around them until they are grown and can take care of themselves. God, in His infinite wisdom and design, created this family unit with two parents to nurture and protect them until they are able to outwit their enemy.

Danger lurks on every hand for us, too, but God provides the cover that we need in a world that is often scary and out of control. His wings and feathers bear the brunt of the storms in our lives and His promises offer protection for our hearts and minds. We are not alone. He is both our front and rear guard.

Take courage from my little quail family. You are loved and protected.

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Remembering

Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.

    I have called you by name; you are mine.

Isaiah 43:1 (NLT)

See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.

Isaiah 49:16 (NLT)

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Tradition is important to me and my family knows that on your birthday to expect an early morning phone call that begins with, “Happy Birthday to you…!”

I met Mark on the Internet and only a few weeks into our friendship, I flew off to take care of the grandgirlies. The day before I left, I received a beautiful bouquet of red roses with a card that read, “I’ll work hard to see that you remember my name.” (Bonus points!)

I like cards. Mark and I have started the tradition of buying several cards — holidays, anniversary, birthdays — and having them pop up during the day as a way to celebrate the moment.

Recently, we celebrated our eleventh anniversary. I posted a couple of wedding pictures on Facebook and received 87 “likes.” It was not a particularly “special” year but it was a reminder that we had made it through some tough ones. As I reflected on all the people who cared about us, it brought me to tears. So many know my name.

But even if no one ever notices me or remembers one special day, I know that God has not forgotten. My Heavenly Father loves me yesterday, today, and forever. He doesn’t have to ask me how to spell my name — He’s got it written on the palm of His hand. How can I not love this One who gave His very life for me?

He remembers my name…

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Giver or Receiver?

And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Acts 20:35 (NLT)

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“I’d love to bring you a meal.”

“I’ll make you a pot of soup and drop it off after church.”

“Is there anything I can do for you?”

I’m usually the one doing the checking and making sure that everyone is OK. But I have been on the receiving end twice this year — when I broke my foot early in the year and this week after surgery. It is not in my nature to be the receiver and I must admit it has not been easy for me to accept these gifts of love.

However, I noticed that not everyone has the same gift of giving.

I have one friend who told me before the surgery that making a meal was not her thing but she would be praying constantly for me.

People from various parts of my life offered to bring food — neighbors, MOPS, Bible Study. Some I know well and others have recently entered my circle of friends.

My natural response is to tell them I have it under control. Rather than turning down the offer, I discovered that it is an affirmation to the giver to accept their offer and a joy to me to be the recipient of  their love.

I was reading a devotion this morning about the woman who presented the costly gift of oil to Jesus the night before He was crucified. Others around the table criticized her for wasting the money — it could have been spent on greater needs. But Jesus, reprimanded then and told them the she did what she could. And her story is remembered right along with His death and resurrection.

And so it is with us. We do the things that God has gifted us to do and in that we make up the whole body of Christ. Be gracious in both your giving and receiving.

Anyone want a hot dog?

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