Psalm 85:15--But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth
Candy and I spent most of the morning writing back and forth about questions regarding the definition of Christians and evangelicals and current events that troubled her. While we may not have the same political leanings that does not prevent us from having honest and prolonged discussion. She ended our time with kind words and greetings to my family. Candy is one of the most warm-hearted persons I know and it is always a privilege to be around her.
Zechariah 7:9—“The LORD of Hosts says this: Make fair decisions. Show faithful love and compassion to one another.”
It is cold outside—twelve degrees above zero. Snow is on the ground and from inside my office window it looks beautiful. It’s a matter of perspective. December can be a wonderful time of warmth for many people; a chance to be with family, to take a break from work and to enjoy each other’s company. But I could equally write that this month is a frozen, depressing period for many people; the reminder that loved ones are gone, unemployment a reality, and a feeling that few care or understand.
It was truly an implausible act. She lived behind fortified walls yet chose to be vulnerable. For a woman of the street she possessed great insight. She knew that her city would be destroyed because she believed the reports of the Destroyer. As new stories meandered along hot, dusty streets and through bustling merchant shops, hearts despaired and courage disappeared. She saw things differently; embracing faith from a heaven and earthperspective.
Why did the spies go to her house? She could easily have reported them. Even the king knew they visited her and dispatched messengers who told her to bring them out for arrest. No, she knew a lot about men, and these two were different. So she hid them on her roof and lied about them leaving the city. Later under the cover of darkness she gave them a rope so they could escape down her wall. She was an audacious woman with a simple request.
The prophet Jeremiah foretold disaster for his countrymen and they felt he was a traitor. Powerful officials talked King Zedekiah into having him killed because his words weakened the resolve of their soldiers. So they took the old man and threw him into a cistern where he sank into the mud. Ironically, Ebed-melech, an Ethiopian eunuch who served the king, interceded on his behalf. The king had a change of heart and ordered Ebed to take thirty men and rescue Jeremiah before he died. The wise eunuch threw rags down to him to put under his armpits and then with ropes pulled him out. God was so pleased with the Ethiopian that through Jeremiah He promised to preserve his life.
Sandy sits on the iron bench bolted to the sidewalk by Prink Avenue and finishes her cell phone conversation. Unhesitatingly, she stands and moves into the crosswalk practically daring the cars to stop. The yellow Walk light has not yet flashed but she doesn’t care, she is an important person and she knows the drivers will wait. Her spiritual life is much the same. Sandy approaches God and expects that He will listen to her because she is a good person and her list of accomplishments warrants in her mind, His favor.
Step after step in unison they marched, accenting the weight of each boot upon the carpet so that everyone in that banquet room could hear. Not an eye wandered, each man in his dress uniform staring straight ahead as they slowly moved across the assembled guests. Near a small round table, the squad leader halted them and faced them to the center. Then he moved to the second man and slowly saluted him, before taking from his outstretched hands the folded flag. In return, the one no longer carrying his nation’s colors, saluted. Next, the sergeant marched in silence to the empty table and placed the folded flag upon it. Returning, he aligned himself in front of the next man in line. From this one’s hands, he took another folded flag. Instead of saluting as before, he turned to his right and waited while the last man in formation moved to join him. Slowly the two unfolded the mostly black flag. Then, with reverence and precision, the younger soldier snapped the flag in place on a thin pole, beside the empty table set for one. Across the bottom of that flag were printed the words, “You are not forgotten.”
God broke my heart on January 24, 2007. This was our third day of teaching in Eldoret at Bishop Bondet’s Evangelistic Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The theme was disciple making. But before Dad taught his segment, we traveled to Reverend Ombima’s orphanage.
We walked down a dirt road too rutted to allow vehicle passage. On the right side of the Kenyan clay open sewage flowed. In that putrid water we walked past pigs happily foraging. Surrounding us were the homes of many squatters—families eking out a living in a destitute slum. Finally we reached the property where World Revival Evangelistic Ministries (WOREM) five-year old Jireh orphanage is located. S.I. Ombima and his pregnant wife Metrine, humbly live here along with Sylvanus Mukhaima (Moses), their talented and inspiring 21 year-old worship leader.
I’ve never had a ministry to the poor. Few of my friends are financially needy and those I work and live around are middle or upper-class families. While my finances have often been sparse, compared to most in the world I am incredibly well off. So, I wondered what it would be like to spend so many hours each week helping those at the center of ever-converging problems from which escape seems bleak and overwhelming.
Recently, the Vietnam Traveling Wall (the 3/4ths replication of the amazing black wall in Washington D.C.), traveled to Portland, Oregon. Etched in somber stone is the name of every veteran killed in Indochina. During the opening ceremony I represented the 104th Division. Afterwards I was invited to a dinner with the special people from the cemetery that planned the event.
In the early fall of 1976, homesick Panya Sawan walked the streets of Newberg, Oregon. While his feet moved his mind questioned if he made a big mistake. Yet, as much as he missed his family, the thought of returning to his Thailand home was equally painful. Would his family consider him a failure?
I sometimes look into their eyes and wonder what lies inside their head. Is the fact that virtually no one smiles a sign of emptiness? Or are they simply tired from a long day? Driving down Hwy 99W it isn’t hard to see faces of drivers traveling in the other direction because with all the traffic lights, no one moves very fast.
John 6:37,44--Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out . . . No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.
Do you know people who walk around with a mental rap sheet with the goods on all who have offended, hurt or angered them? My friend Alan shared with me about a man where he works who cannot forgive him for an incident that occurred well over five years ago. Any chance he gets to stick Al with evil he maximizes. It makes for a tough work environment.
Ephesians 4:32--And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave youin Christ.
Colossians 3:13-- accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.
Psalm 116: 5--The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is compassionate.
Another day of silence . . . what sickness has quelled my mind and muzzled my voice that should thunder like an awesome waterfall the roaring news of God’s eternal love? Why do I languish far behind the Master’s call and command? Where is the compassion in my heart for those groping to find the Light? How can I shun spreading the antidote to sin to those whose eyes wear its unmistakable mark? Have I forgotten so quickly the One who willingly hung there abandoned and abused to take my sin?
I used to walk by the ringer and think, “Oh I hope he doesn’t look at me.” I avoided eye contact because I didn’t want to give. Coming out of the store I walked fast in a hurry, so as not to be accosted. If only guilt rang more quietly than those obnoxious bells.
It’s amazing what an angel will do. She sat on the low wooden bench and watched as the people passed by her. Her faded yellow dress did not match the orange socks pulled just below her knees. Tangled hair and a face unmarked by soap whispered her motherless fate. She held in one hand a beanie baby—a three legged dog, while in the other she clutched a mystery bag of who knows what treasure. Her feet lightly swung as if to some hidden melody. One shoe revealed a severed heel that if she walked would have flapped to its own rap. The other shoe no longer had lace long enough to tie a bow.