Category: love

Don’t Believe the lies

It’s a brand new year…again.  Time to set goals and to reflect on the past year.  My encouragement for this year is “Don’t believe the lies”.  We all battle the attacks of the enemy in some way.  For some we may be too fat.  For some we may be too old (or too young).  For others we may be worthless or without talent.  I’ve said it before that I battle with “Failure”.   Here’s my example today:

I’ve been playing the stupid (I call it stupid because it is very addicting!) game of ‘2 Dots’ on my phone.  I hit a level that I couldn’t pass.  Immediately I began to believe that I wasn’t good at the game and that I was a failure because I couldn’t pass one level.  God pointed out to me (as a lesson) that I was battling over level 775.  “If you are not good at this game, how could you have won 774 games before this level?”  Good point I said.  “Remember when you got frustrated at level 50 and you quit and deleted the app only to download it again the next day start over?”  Yes I said and I now I’m at 776 because I finally won 775 as I began writing this.

How many times do we look at one failure and believe that our whole life is a failure?  How many times have you loved your children but you sulk when you lash out in frustration or weariness and believe that you are a bad parent?  How many times have you sinned and felt like God will never love you again?  How many times have you ended a project and say you will never try again?

Don’t believe the lies.  You are not called to failure and you are not called to quit.  If you do it wrong this time, throw it out and start over.  God doesn’t love you because you are successful.  He loves you because you are you.  Count the 775 things that you have done right and don’t worry about the one that has you frustrated at the moment.   You have way more successes than failures.  Remember that!

Luke 1:37
For no word from God will ever fail.
hannahpraise
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Person of the Year 2016

The first person that came to mind this year was the “Aleppo Boy”.

aleppo

He was the young boy pulled from debris in Syria.  I decided to go bigger and considered an award to all children of war and began gathering photos.  The most iconic photo I remember is from my childhood war (Vietnam) and is called “Napalm Girl”.  Anyone over 55 in America knows who this is.  I wanted to know where she is today and what became of her.  After reading her story, I easily decided to nominate her as “My Person of the Year.”

Her name is Phan Thi Kim Phuc or just Kim Phuc.  She was born on April 2, 1963 (three years younger than me) in South Vietnam.  Kim lived in the village of Trang Bang and on June 8, 1972 at age nine she was hit by a napalm bomb.  She became famous for being photographed by Nick Ut as she was running naked.  Mr. Ut won a Pulitzer prize for the photo and it was featured in the New York Times and Life Magazine.

napalm

 

Kim was badly burned and tore off her burning clothes. In an interview many years later, she recalled she was yelling, Nóng quá, nóng quá (“too hot, too hot”) in the picture. She was taken to a hospital in Saigon where it was determined that her burns were so severe that she probably would not survive.  After 14 months in the hospital and 17 surgical procedures she was sent home.

Phúc was removed from her university as a young adult while studying medicine and used as a propaganda symbol by the communist government of Vietnam. In 1986, however, she was granted permission to continue her studies in Cuba.  She had converted from her family’s Cao Dai  religion to Christianity in 1982.  After arriving in Cuba she met another Vietnamese student who she began dating and later married.   On the way to their honeymoon in Moscow, they left the plane during a refueling stop in Newfoundland asked for political asylum.   The couple now lives in Ajax, Ontario near Toronto and have 2 children.   In 2015, it was reported that she was receiving laser treatment at a hospital in Miami, Florida to reduce the scarring on her left arm and back. The treatment was provided free of charge.  She has continued these treatments even though they are very painful.

 

Kim has said, “Forgiveness made me free from hatred. I still have many scars on my body and severe pain most days but my heart is cleansed. Napalm is very powerful, but faith, forgiveness, and love are much more powerful. We would not have war at all if everyone could learn how to live with true love, hope, and forgiveness. If that little girl in the picture can do it, ask yourself: Can you?”

 

Kim Phúc Foundation

In 1997 she established the first Kim Phúc Foundation in the U.S., with the aim of providing medical and psychological assistance to child victims of war.  

In 2004, Phúc spoke at the University of Connecticut  about her life and experience, learning how to be “strong in the face of pain” and how compassion and love helped her heal.

On December 28, 2009, NPR broadcast her spoken essay, “The Long Road to Forgiveness.”  In May 2010, Phúc was reunited by the BBC  correspondent  Christopher Wain, who helped to save her life.

There are pictures on the internet showing Kim’s burns.  I chose a happier current photograph.  I have been touched by Kim’s life since 1972 and again now reading about her courage, faith and forgiveness.  I hope this Person of the Year blesses you as well.  Please pray for ALL the children facing war around the world.

napalm2

Most of this information is edited from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phan_Thi_Kim_Phuc

War, earthquakes, famine

We are currently in battles over bathrooms, gay weddings and a host of liberal issues.  Some would call these 1st world problems.  Since our country is wealthy and at peace we can take the time to argue over such trivial things.  If we were at war or dealing with a natural disaster or famine we would never bother to spend time on such stupid subjects.

The point is, if we were fighting for our survival we wouldn’t worry about who was married or what bathroom they used.  In a catastrophic world, we would be lucky to have any kind of bathroom.  We probably wouldn’t have the luxury of having traditional weddings with cakes and photographers.  Survival.  That’s all we would be focused on.

What may be a sin in a 1st world may not be anything in survival mode.  What may be disgusting in normal settings may be celebrated under extreme conditions.  Eating a rat is repulsive to me but if I was starving, a rat may look pretty good.  You get the point?

Now you may say sin is sin.  True.  But many rules go out the window when survival is at hand.  I think Grace moves to a new level and Mercy definitely has new status.  You just can’t condemn someone who is trying to survive.  I don’t support looters but someone stealing a loaf of bread to feed their family . . . well….

You may think that you are living in 1st world reality with no real problems but we’re not.  We are at war.  People all around us are suffering and trying to survive.  Sin is sin but don’t forget about Grace and Mercy.  And while you’re at it, throw in a little Love.  We’re not in Kansas anymore.

Matthew 24:6-8

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

world fell apart

Discrimination

Not all discrimination is equal.  A business model can be set up to cover a great deal of it.  If a person comes into a store or an office, it is often obvious if they are mistreated by observing physical and verbal reactions.  It’s another thing when phone calls are not returned or online applications are rejected.  A small business owner that screens all calls coming in may decide not to pursue a customer and the customer in most cases won’t know why – they can only assume.

People discriminate on many levels – not just race and the other top issues.  A screener may not like how someone talks or how they present themselves.  A minor listing on a resume may turn off an employer that no one else would ever think of.  Levels of hatred come in many shades, styles and colors.  I knew an employer who threw away any resume that listed a church affiliation or “Sunday School Teacher” because they assumed the person was a “Bible Thumper” and wouldn’t fit into the class of other current employees.  Would those applicants ever be able to figure that out?  I doubt it.

Some businesses are easier to discriminate in.  A baker has a hard time defending why they won’t make a cake for a gay wedding.  I call these “close market” cases.  The business person is cornered and cannot get out of the discrimination without it being obvious.  Other businesses are more open and can pick and choose who they want to service without punishment.  A delivery business may fit into this by saying they won’t travel to a “certain area” because . . . well maybe it is too far or it doesn’t fit their driving schedule.

Hollywood and other entertainers are having a hay day with this level of discrimination.  They are refusing to do business in states where they disapprove of certain laws.  Is this their right?  Maybe.  But why are they permitted to refuse business out of their basis of discrimination and others aren’t.  Isn’t it discrimination if an entertainer refuses to perform in an area for any reason.  Could they be prosecuted if it could be proven that they refused to go there for racial reasons?

Remember; the baker, the photographer, the florist, store owner etc are backed in a corner and it’s easy to pick on them.  We have a much bigger discrimination going on where the powerful can move and change their discriminations at will and get away with it because they are in open markets.

Discrimination is always here.  It is always changing and morphing into a new ugly creature.  Be on guard.  We may not be offering “whites only” drinking fountains anymore but we are still offering “________________ only” . . . you fill in the blank.  Who are you discriminating against today?

James 2:3-5 (NIV)

If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

108

 

An Empty Cross

At our darkest times we kneel and cry out to God.  Can you imagine the pain, fear and dismay that Mary and the disciples experienced as they watched Jesus beaten and hung on the cross?  I can’t even watch the movie “Passion” because it’s too painful for me to ‘watch’ His suffering.

Imagine returning to the empty cross on Saturday and Sunday morning – promises broken, hope crushed, love lost.  The only things left were blood, memories and hopelessness.  Do you think the Romans bothered to guard the empty cross as they guarded the tomb?  Why bother?  Jesus wasn’t there anymore.   It was over.  The cross is empty.  I imagine that hill being a very lonely place the day after . . .I don’t imagine anyone hanging around.

Do we walk away?  Do we give up?

Over?  How do you define ‘over’? Jesus did suffer and die.  Many thought it was finished.   Is our hope ‘over’ with the cross or just beginning?

Bow down at the cross but remember. . .the end is just the beginning!

John 19:30

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

cross

Dog Haters

I can classify people into two groups – one group can’t pass by a dog without petting it and talking to it; the other group can pass by a dog and not even acknowledge it being there.  Dog lovers and dog haters.  I’m sure that some fit in the middle but if you watch people walking in a neighborhood or park, I bet you will find them closer to the simple two groups.

Where do dog haters come from?  Some had bad experiences as children – maybe they got bit; maybe they were raised to not appreciate dogs; they never had one; they’re allergic;  they’re clean freaks; maybe they are just too busy to appreciate furry friends.

Some are a mystery.  My parents were both dog lovers and we always had a dog.  My oldest sister and me are extreme dog lovers.  My middle sister is a dog hater.  How did this happen?  She didn’t have a bad experience with a dog?  She should have had a biological temperament to loving dogs.  How did she turn out so different?

Most people learn to love dogs as children but some don’t until they are adults.  Some people aren’t exposed to dogs until they are adults so they don’t know the benefits.  Some grow up loving dogs as children but tire of them and only see their faults.  Some can’t be bothered by them as adults.  “They are too much work” they say.  Bad experiences can happen at any age and make a person afraid of all dogs.

Dog lovers – there are some who can’t have enough and some who tolerate.  Some will pet a neighbor’s dog but will never have the “challenge” in their own home.  Some will go overboard and have several dogs in the same house.

Are you a dog lover or dog hater?

Funny thing about the word “dog”.  If you turn it around, you get “God”.  What’s even funnier is that many of the same reactions to dogs applies to how people fit with God.  It seems that a person either “loves God” or they don’t.  Some will grow up in homes that love God but somehow they fall out of step and go another direction.  For some, there is an obvious reason – a hurt or a bad experience that turns them.  Others aren’t exposed to God as children.  Some may not find God until their adult years.  Some will grow up loving God but then get tired of the work involved or the mess that goes with being a follower.

Where do you fit in – are you a God lover or God hater?  There really isn’t room in the middle.

Revelation 3:15 (NIV)

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

beagle

Forgiven

You messed up.  Bad.

You need to confess to your loved ones.  You need to confess to God.

Will they forgive you?

Will you forgive yourself?

Will you stand again and move on?

How long will you beat yourself up?

If God says your forgiven, aren’t you?

Let it go and move. (and give yourself a break)

Luke 7:46-48

46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

jonah

14 years and final

I was reminded again this week how fragile life can be.  Another local 14 year old took her life.  Devoted to God.  Active in a good church.  Active in a youth group.  Home schooled.  Good family.

Don’t bother asking why.  It gets you nowhere.  It is senseless, heartbreaking, earth shattering and most of all . . . it is final.  It’s done and can’t be changed.

I am reminded daily with pictures of my 14 year old.  He would be turning 18 this May.  College?  Military?  Missions? Girlfriends?

Remember 14 year olds.  Your pain is temporary.  Your decision is final.

Psalm 18:3-5

I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
    and I have been saved from my enemies.
The cords of death entangled me;
    the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
    the snares of death confronted me.

Isaiah

 

Pardon Me

Pardon me, kissing you like I’m afraid
But I know I’m being played with
And you’ll leave me when you get the chance.

Off you’ll go, in the darkness of the night
Like a bird in freedom’s flight,
You’re thinking only of deliverance.

Close your eyes, and pretend that you are me.
See how empty it can be
Making love if love’s not really there.

Watch me go, watch me walk away alone,
As your clothing comes undone,
And you pull the ribbon from your hair.

This song by Larry Norman has always been one of the eeriest songs I know.  I always wondered why he wrote it, who he was talking to, if it was literal or spiritual.  I have to admit it bothered me with it’s down beat, instruments and lonely tune.  I still don’t know who he wrote it to or why.

One day it hit me in the face what it means to me (not saying this is what Larry meant for it).  For the first time it held spiritual meaning and I wept as I listened to it over and over again.

God has poured His love on us and yet we turn on Him.  We pretend to love Him but love’s not really there.  We only pretend  hoping for deliverance.  We bow down on Sundays hoping that that is enough.  But how soon do we walk away?  How soon do we cheat?  How soon do we walk away in the darkness of the night?  Are we thinking only of deliverance?  Are we only thinking about what we can get?

Ezekiel 16:14 And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign Lord.

15 “‘But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favors on anyone who passed by and your beauty became his. 16 You took some of your garments to make gaudy high places, where you carried on your prostitution.