When you look into the mirror do you see yourself as special or do you see flaws? Have you a desire to become better in some way than you already are? You may consider yourself to be beautiful, handsome, clever, upright, truthful, honest, forgiving, friendly or sadly none of these things. Most of us will agree if we are honest with ourselves that we do have one or two shortcomings though we would rather keep that private. The truth is, the real truth is this, we aren’t as perfect as we would have others believe and we hide it. There isn’t one person on this planet who is perfect and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. We are however very special and each one of us is unique…… we are loved just as we are…….
God Loves You as You Are (Exodus 34:5–6)
The Lord does not cherish us as we deserve (if that were the case, we would be desolate) but as he must, unable to do otherwise. He is love. Hard as it is for us to believe—because we neither give nor receive love among ourselves in this way—we yet believe, because of the life-death-resurrection of the Carpenter-Messiah, that his Father is more loving, more forgiving, more cherishing than Abraham, Isaac or Jacob could have dreamed.
What this says simply is that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is gracious. His love is gratuitous in a way that defies our imagination.
It is for this reason that we can proclaim with theological certainty in the power of the Word: God loves you as you are and not as you should be! Do you believe this? That God loves you beyond worthiness and unworthiness, beyond fidelity and infidelity, that he loves you in the morning sun and the evening rain, that he loves you without caution, regret, boundary, limit or breaking point?
The day is a special one for me as it marks the anniversary of E’s birth. Though I may not observe such days generally speaking, I never forget what they mean in my life. I took the opportunity to take E out to lunch though not specifically to mark the day I thought she would appreciate it anyway. I treat her to lunch quite often during the year so lunches have no special significance other than to enjoy each other’s company in some convivial place other than home. It is nice to go out for lunches now and again. I asked her how it felt to be now the age she is (I’m not revealing that) and she replied just the same as it was yesterday! How true a statement was that! Marking an annual date as something special is rather ridiculous when you think about it. What is the point? It is just another day. We could mark each day equally as such, a special day and this we should be doing anyway. We none of us know how many days we have on this planet so we should be enjoying every one of them in whichever way we feel is right. In January next year, the 27 th to be precise, I will have known E for 45 years. I loved her the first time I saw her and that hasn’t changed even though many other things have since. It is all about love.
Life is all about love for without love we have nothing. It isn’t an option, it is a command we should obey. Didn’t Jesus say, ‘A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.’ (John 13:34)? Without love there is friction, discontent, discord and a host of other things which bring us down. Love lifts us up, makes us feel good not only about life in general but in ourselves. With love in our hearts we are at peace with ourselves and with the world. I wish I could take everyone out to lunch but that is obviously impossible. I can however demonstrate love in everything I do and this is what we all should do. Every day then becomes special to us and hopefully to those we meet too. Yes I remember October 11, 14, November 21 and a host of other ‘special’ days in my life but in reality every day is special.
There is no-one who does good in this world (Psalm 14:3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one). Oh there are those who some consider to be good because of what they have done but that compliment is based upon human views. Even the person whom we may consider being good falls short of the mark in the eyes of God. That aside I think we can safely say that there are quite a few bad people in this world. Maybe you have met with some of them in your corner of the world? Probably. Most people might be considered upright, honest and trustworthy and have good moral standing in our eyes but we all know there are some who are not. These will be deceitful, selfish, scheming and dishonest and I’ll wager many of us will know some like that closer to home. The good and the bad are usually easy to discern, eventually anyway but the ugly may not be.
When I say ugly I am not referring to someone who is not as good-looking as others or who has the misfortune not to appear physically attractive; no, I am referring to one who has personality problems. The ugly person is the one who speaks ill of others where there is no justification, the one who speaks in whispers to another about someone else. Perhaps they do it through jealousy or hatred or because the person holds a differing point of view. Perhaps it is racially motivated, perhaps it is homo-phobic or based upon fear. Perhaps they are simply bullies. Whatever the reason the ugly person is the nastiest of them all. Theirs is a life intent on making someone else’s life a misery. I have met a few ‘ugly’ people like this over the years and I’m certain I am not alone. The problem the ugly person thinks their target has is actually a problem they have themselves but they cannot see that. When we were young my siblings and I were always taught that it is rude to whisper (about someone else) but I know I have not always adhered to the teaching in the past. It isn’t nice to be obviously whispering about someone in their presence and it certainly isn’t nice to be on the receiving end of such behaviour is it? Jesus said ‘Love one another’ and to do that we must begin by looking inward to our own hearts. Treat others as you would like them to treat you, with respect. It doesn’t matter who or what they are, you don’t have to ‘like’ them…..just love them. Don’t be an ugly person for the chip on your shoulder will become a heavy burden and you will crumble beneath the weight.
I very seldom if ever write about my personal relationships in my posts though I have been more open in my personal pages above regarding such things. It is hard for me to do so now. Life can be so difficult at times. Stressful situations, personal relationships, financial problems, poor health, irritating neighbours and many more can all have a detrimental effect upon us. As a Christian I am called to rise above these things yet I may still have to deal with them, in fact being a Christian does not mean I will never be affected by them or that they will somehow magically disappear, they won’t. Our difficulties arise when we don’t know how to deal with them. Fellow Christians will say things like, ‘Trust in The Lord’, ‘Lay all your burdens at His feet’, and they would be quite right but we have to meet Him half-way. We have to do our bit too. If we approach things in the right way and trust in The Lord’s guidance we will overcome. Sometimes though no matter what we do it doesn’t seem to work, at least as we thought it should and that is the point, not everything is going to work out the way we want it or expect it to do. Good friends give good advice. We’ve all heard the saying, ‘Some people will never change’, yet we often continue attempting to persuade them. This has been especially true in my own situation. My ex, ‘E’, is a prime example. Over the years (forty-four) I have known her she has been stubborn. We used to go to church together at one point but her heart wasn’t in it. She always blamed her mom for ‘forcing’ her to attend church when younger and that is why she says she doesn’t believe in God. Many times I have witnessed to her but the main way was by example, showing love, being tolerant and understanding and not putting her under pressure. Nothing worked and still doesn’t. I have to live with her and it can be so difficult. I could have left her, deserted her and left her to her own devices but because of my love and concern I persevered. I still persevere and will continue to do so until I die though she may never change. Aside from her beliefs just living together is sometimes problematical for me as I am very often not treated well by her even though I treat her with love and respect and we end up not speaking. Usually it is because of her stubborn refusal to apologise for her behaviour toward me when she is in the wrong. My friend tries to cheer me up and she tells me not to let E’s behaviour affect my own peace and happiness but that is so hard to do. I get knocked down but I get up again and again and again. I refuse to give in to her bad behaviour yet I have to forgive her. I always forgive her but it never seems to have any effect. Sometimes I feel at my wit’s end wondering if things between us will always be this way. Unless you live with a person like E you will never really know what it is like. Leaving her isn’t an option, she needs more love.
Do you ever wonder why sheep stay together following each other so closely? People are very much like sheep, they will, by and large, follow in the same way. Of course people are individuals but only up to a point. We follow trends together, partake in the same holidays, do pretty much the same as each other in many ways. Today, that is the 31st of October is beginning to mark an increasingly popular holiday we call Halloween. One family’s children keenly follow what they think as harmless fun and before we know it every other family’s children are doing the same thing. It is all about not wanting to be different, not wanting to be left out or to be labelled a spoil-sport. Their individualism is lost to the cause. Why are people so ready to follow like sheep? I label Halloween as evil, an evil event of evil origin. There was once a time it was rare to celebrate such holidays but now it is beginning to be considered normal to do so. Much of the celebration, probably most of it is fuelled by commerce as are the other holidays of the year. Someone saw a way to make pots of money and hey presto, it all became popular. None of what Halloween represents today is good. Children are encouraged to make-believe in ghosts, ghouls, witches and wizards and they dress in orange and black, the colours now associated with Halloween in this country at least. Pumpkin sales go through the roof and are mainly only sold at this time of year and used not for cooking but for ornamentation. What sense is there in that? Children are also misguided and encouraged to go ‘trick or treating‘, basically a threatening behaviour to those on whose doors they knock. What they are saying is give us a treat else we will do something nasty. Is this not evil at work? No, it isn’t just a bit of fun, let’s call it by its rightful name.
We teach children all the wrong things and then wonder why society is in such a state. Santa Claus, birthday and Christmas presents, the paraphernalia surrounding Christmas and Easter and Guy Fawkes are all symbols of secularism by which the human race sets its standards and everyone follows like sheep. In my blog yesterday I posted an article about a loving and peaceful world, the way it should be and will be one day but we have to rid ourselves of all this useless clutter and evil that fills our lives first. Only one thing prevents it from happening and it is what is going on in our hearts. Ask yourself why the world isn’t like the one described in yesterday’s post and what you yourself will do to change things.
‘We played many different games as children much as they do now., hide and seek, hopscotch, tag, football and cricket, rounders, skipping and a few others. During the summer months mum and dad took us out on weekly day trips, usually to the seaside and it was such fun getting things ready for the day out. We would make sandwiches with all different fillings, take a cake and biscuits some lemonade and a few items of fruit. We had to be certain we’d packed our swimsuits too! Half the excitement was in the preparation and getting to the destination. If it showed any signs of possible rain dad would tell us that the trip was off but most of the time he was just teasing us. Unless it was pouring down with rain and unlikely to stop we would make the trip. Often on the journey home we would tuck in to the remainder of the sandwiches and we would all be very tired after the day’s events. Those days were some of the most enjoyable times in my life and were only made so because our parents loved us so much. I thank them both.’ (Extract from ‘My Story’ above)
How much do you remember about your childhood? Was it a happy time? Were your parents or parent, attentive, loving, generous? Did they have time for you? Many of the problems we have today could be attributed to a lack of involvement by parents. Parents who do not guide their children, do not show their love often end up driving them to become anti-social and unloving or caring themselves. The problems are passed down through the generations. Is it possible that those who take drugs or end up in jail for criminal activity may not be as they are had their parents been more involved, more loving? It isn’t a guarantee of course that anyone’s children grow up to be upright citizens but it surely must be a possibility that if their upbringing lacked a loving environment they would be more likely to end up as they are. In Scripture we are instructed to bring up our children in the ways they should go for it is their formative years that influence how they will live and behave as adults. I am so happy that my childhood was a pleasant time for me, at home at least. It wasn’t that way for me outside of my home. You can read something about that in my pages above. Alas, for many children though their lives are not filled with love, affection and attentive parents.
Having decided yesterday (Saturday) that I was going to rest for the weekend I had no reason to get up early but nevertheless that is what I did. It is all about my sleep requirements. I find I am awake after five hours or so of sleep. I could have laid there in bed but that isn’t usually my style so I got up and found myself in good spirits. It was change the bedclothes day so that was one of the first things I did, after my daily prayers. I was downstairs around 7.15 and after putting the bed linen in the washing machine I had my breakfast. I spent a little time on the computer by which time the washing was done and needed hanging to dry. The weather these past few days has been rather wet and windy at times so rather than hanging the washing outside to dry I hung it in the boiler room. It dries just as well down there. I took my radio down into the cellar where I keep the treadmill and spent some time on it. I was feeling on top of the world. Later, after a shower I decided to peel some more of the apples and make some crumble. I was going to make a pie or two but changed my mind for the crumble instead. I had returned the radio upstairs and had it on whilst I was peeling the apples. It was the Sunday morning show on BBC 2 and they were playing an hour of love songs. I had just started peeling the apples when a song called ‘You are the sunshine of my life‘ by Stevie Wonder began to play and when he reached the line ‘You are the apple of my eye‘ I was touched and my eyes began to water. I was thinking about E. Anyway a little later another song broke out called ‘I will always love you’ by Whitney Houston and before it had hardly begun I was in tears, I mean streaming down my face tears. Again I was thinking about E. In fact believe it or not the tears are beginning to swell up now even as I write this. I am a very sentimental person it is true. The joy of love overwhelms me. A few songs later and I had settled down a bit. I had to concentrate on what I was doing! Soon enough the apples were cooking slowly but not too much so as the slices remained solid and I had made the crumble. I had enough apples and crumble for two large dishes and they went into the already heated oven to bake slowly for twenty-five minutes. Whilst they were baking I made myself a large cappuccino and washed the pots and utensils. It was still only five minutes after twelve when the crumbles were done. I then spent some time reading my Bible as I normally do on a Sunday morning. I am currently reading it through again from beginning to end and have just reached the Book of Job. Now there was a guy who had troubles! We think we have it bad sometimes. You should read Job. The preceding Book is Esther. That was the one I read through this day. I have read the Bible through 31 times so far with this one being number 32. I learn something new each time! I don’t confine my reading to just Sundays by the way. Anyway I was feeling on top of the world again on Sunday after feeling a little down in the dumps on Saturday. Now I was ready for the week ahead.
Do you bear a grudge against someone who has hurt you or offended you in any way? Perhaps a partner or a friend has let you down and you cannot find it in your heart to forgive them? Think about what is going on here, who is suffering? Are you happy and at peace through vengeance or do your thoughts give no consideration to the matter? Here is an article, one of which I receive every day, which touches on this subject. It doesn’t matter that you are not a Christian, though the article is written for those who are, the same principle applies to anyone.
05 Jul 2014 Forgive, for Your Own Sake!
‘…Forgive as the Lord forgave you.’ COLOSSIANS 3:13
A lady writes: ‘I found my husband with another woman. Although he begged me for forgiveness, I wanted my pound of flesh, so I filed for divorce even though our kids asked me not to. Two years later my husband was still trying to get me back, but I wanted none of it. He’d hurt me and I wanted revenge. Finally he gave up, married a young widow with two children, and rebuilt his life without me. They’re all so happy and I’m just a lonely, miserable woman, who let bitterness ruin her life.’ Now there’s no question that infidelity is wrong. But without forgiveness, what’s left? There’s a point at which anger stops being a healthy emotion and becomes a driving force. Like a drug, you need larger and larger doses. Once that happens, you move even further from forgiveness, because without anger you’ve no energy at all. It’s what drives hate groups and extremists. Without bitterness they’ve no reason to exist. If you take bigotry from the racist, revenge from the zealot and chauvinism from the sexist, what’s left? ‘Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.’ Bitterness is fatal; it kills your soul. So how can you stop yourself from becoming bitter when you’ve been hurt? a) By looking into the face of the person who hurt you and seeing, instead, the face of the One who showed you mercy when nobody else would have given you another chance. b) By realising that before the day, the week, the month or the year is out, you’ll be needing mercy yourself.
8 All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. 9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which one can say, ‘Look! This is something new’? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.
How many times have you heard it said that it’s happened before or it’s nothing new? Well here’s the truth of the matter, there’s nothing new under the sun. What’s been will be again, maybe in a different guise but nevertheless it will surely come again. Some even claim that modern technology is nothing new. They talk about ancient batteries and computers that have been discovered in archaeological digs. Whether these things are true is very much debatable but events, attitudes and behaviour certainly don’t change on the whole. People remain as they have always been, some loving, kind, courteous, humble and others hateful, brash, uncaring , selfish just the same. The eye never has enough of seeing. Isn’t that just so true? We never seem satisfied with our lot, always striving for more yet having received it are still not satisfied. Look at those who acquire great monetary wealth. Most will say that it hasn’t necessarily brought them happiness. Wealth isn’t about the money you have in the bank but the store you have in Heaven. With mankind nothing really changes.
In times gone by as times today
We fought and died and lost our way
And in those days all was the same
Just as it is, we’ve nothing gained.
We grow in peace, we grow in war
But all remains as was before
A lesson learned is soon forgot
It seems as if we’ve lost the plot.
We cleverly invent new things
And revel in the joy they bring
But sadly at the end of day
We have to give them all away.
Our lives are centred in this world
Which doesn’t last, or so we’ve heard
We live our lives just for the day
But never take the time to pray.
When we depart from out this place
Do we expect a saving grace?
By then it all will be too late
If to our hearts we close the gate!