Afterward {why I decided to quit}


For if Jesus [Joshua] had given them rest,

then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.

Hebrews 4:8

Here’s what I’ve been thinking. This time of the COVID-19 has given us cause for much thought. How to readjust life to fit the pandemic. How to live with the new ‘normal’.

The pandemic put many people into circumstances beyond their control. Some of us have lived that way, at least in our minds if not in reality, for many years. For the Christian, life is about submitting control to God. Humility. Looking up from the bottom of something, myself or my circumstances.

Blogging is a way to express oneself publicly, with as much freedom as one gives oneself. Essentially it is either self-centered or others-centered. I suppose my struggle with blogging is my struggle with giving up my piece of life which no one else controls. Do I deceive myself into thinking that I blog for God, while it is really for myself?

These four and a half months of not being physically at church, family members working and schooling from home, wearing a mask in public, limited social exposure and so forth, have given much room for self-examination.

What is my motive for doing what I do?

How long should I keep doing it?

Is it glorifying to God?

Is it edifying to me and the people affected by it?

Does it obey the principles in Scripture?

Specifically as it relates to blogging. 

For the past week God has been impressing on my heart the word mercy and the theology of the mercy seat. I hear it in the hymns, I see it in the Psalms and the Gospels and in the book of Hebrews which I am memorizing. The impression I get is that in general we spend much time emphasizing grace and ignoring the sacrifice which paid for it.

And the tax collector, standing afar off,

would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven,

but smote upon his breast, saying,

God be merciful to me a sinner.  Luke 18:13

The note in the Scofield reference Bible (1967 edition) says the word merciful used here is the Greek word hiliaskomai, used in the Septuagint and N.T. in connection with the mercy seat. An instructed Jew, the tax collector was thinking not of mercy alone, but of the blood-sprinkled mercy seat. His prayer might be paraphrased, “Be toward me as thou art when thou lookest upon the atoning blood.” The Bible knows nothing of divine forgiveness apart from sacrifice.” (end quote)

The writer of Hebrews impels us to come to the throne of grace in order to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (4:16)

The publican (in the parable of Jesus) prayed in humility for mercy because he was not merely asking for what he could obtain. But he was remembering the sacrifice which was paid in order that he might obtain it freely.

Nothing is free. Everything has a price. We remind ourselves that freedom (in America, and elsewhere) is not free. Many paid the ultimate price with their lives that we might enjoy freedom without cost.

Mercy is the same. It is freely given, but not with out great cost to God. When we ask to benefit from this mercy without acknowledging the mercy-giver and the great sacrifice of His Son’s death on the Cross, we miss the point of mercy (and grace).

Asking for mercy for myself is selfish.

Acknowledging the sacrifice brings glory to God.

When asking for mercy , remember the blood of Christ, the price of mercy, and the mercy-giver (God).

In your asking, Glorify God.

Grace is freely given.

Mercy paid the price.

And one of many places in the Psalms where mercy is named as belonging to God:

I will sing of the mercies of the LORD forever;

with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 89:1

That being said (that is the end of today’s lesson, (smile) where do we go with this blogging thing?

First, I do not think I am a writer. No one ever encouraged me to write. I like to write, but my lack of audience tells me that is not my thing. Personally I would just as soon write with pen on paper or just for myself.

Secondly, the purpose(s) which I had ten years ago when starting blogging, and the general world of blogging, have changed. Blogging seems to be all business or talking to oneself any more. While I would like to earn money blogging, I do not wish to make a business of what I write. Hence, blogging has no real purpose now.

(The original purpose was to encourage Christians in their walk with Christ with a mix of Bible reading schedule, Bible memorization, book reviews, social media, and New England.)

Thirdly, hanging onto something which takes my mind and energy away from the real world in which I live seems to be a form of rebellion which keeps me from  giving God complete control.

Because of the few faithful readers I will continue the Bible Reading Schedule to the end of the year 2020. The blog won’t be shut down, but the daily posts will end. Decision made. It is time to move on.

In the end I suppose I am using my last opportunity to exercise my control over something. I did not come to this decision easily. For several years now I have wrestled with the lack of peace and purpose in this blog. I have more peace about not continuing than I did about continuing.

Should you wish to contact me, all comments go directly to my email. No problem there. It will be interesting to see if the spam comments slow down at all. Thankful for Akismet. And very, very thankful for the faithfulness and long-suffering of God, as well as for His mercy and willingness to sacrifice His only Son that we might live through Him. That is grace.

Without mercy there is no grace.

For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Chirst, our Savior, that, being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:5-7

 

Happy #Birthday to Me


Thank You, LORD, for giving me life.

Thank You for giving me human flesh and a human mom and dad.

Thank You for offering to me the gift of eternal life through the shed blood of Your only Son, Jesus Christ.

Thank You, Jesus, for dying in my place and for not being ashamed to call me Your next of kin.

And thank you so much for such dear friends and family as You have given me to travel with through life.

One of my friends, whom I have known nearly forty years, never fails to send me a birthday card. She does this for many friends, I’m quite sure, not just me. And she always writes a personal note, filling the entire card with her words.

Usually something about her family, who feel like family to me, and often asking about mine. Today when I opened her lovely card there was an extra envelope inside. What a blessing. Let me tell you what sweet thing she did.

The envelope is addressed in neat script, in pencil, to my friend and her husband. The stamp was cancelled in July 1992. I recognized the handwriting as my son’s. Next to the address was written in her handwriting (and underlined) the word SAVE.

My son was twelve years old in 1992. He’s turning forty next month. What a treasure to read a letter written to this family of dear friends whom he had known as a very young child, but clearly held in great regard. The letter was written in thanks for their annual birthday card, and the gift of one dollar enclosed.

The gift to me of reading my son’s sentiments in the context of my own birthday, his upcoming one, and the fact that he is also a father, is precious. Life intertwined. One of the threads that cannot be broken.

Love. The love of God shown from friend to friend, family to family, generation to generation in sentiments which can not be removed.

Thank you, my friend, and thank You, my Father.

For I am persuaded that neither death , nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creation, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

How Deep the Father’s Love for Us written by Stuart Townend. Check out his website for the lyrics and background of the song. I am not receiving anything for you clicking through to his site.

Here is Fernando Ortego singing How Deep the Father’s Love.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

Thank you for sharing my day with me. God bless you with His great love.

Something(s) New


This is raw writing, unedited. However it comes out, it will be published from the heart. It is a combination of my personal mental, emotional and spiritual reaction to the COVID19 pandemic and subsequent effects of social distancing. It is not intended to be political, but personal.

My backstory briefly is that I was unemployed for two 1/2 years, and underemployed (not earning a living wage) for the past two 1/2 years. That to say that I have been seeking God’s leading in basic provisions of life for the past five years. I was not put in this position by the pandemic. My general attitude has been one of hopeful expectation of God’s provision, though at times I have been discouraged.

But it’s not always about material provisions, nor is it ever all about me.

Here’s what is on my heart. Recently I wrote about Five Ways I See the Hand of God in COVID-19 .   I don’t have another list this time, rather more general ways of thinking which I believe are from reading God’s Word and being more open to His ways than my own.

The stay at home order has not provided me with more time. I have the same amount of time, and less uninterrupted as everyone is now at home. So I’ve had to work harder to focus. It hasn’t come easily. I spent weeks being distracted, with an ever-shortening attention span, keeping one eye on the COVID19 updates and half the energy on taking care of myself. I have to admit I let the whole thing get to me, as well as feeding off the emotions of others in the house. When I should have been praying.

I was praying, but I was also listening to a lot of news. Some of it was necessary to wrap my brain around this new thing, and to figure out with my family what our response would be. The long and short of which is that God has gone through that process with me, and hopefully we are coming out the other side. Not that the pandemic is over, but that life will continue and God is still in control.

The other factor in all this was that two of our friends died (non COVID deaths) a month ago. The number of deaths and praying for so many families dealing with grief was overwhelming for awhile. I am sleeping better now I think. The thing I am learning about grief is that by going through it praying for others, God is able to strengthen me to keep on where I thought it impossible. That is such a neat lesson to learn.

Now what about something(s) new?

This week my thinking was directed toward beginning new things. I set up an Instagram account @mercyjoypeace, and am getting a new blog ready on which I plan to communicate Scripture and thoughts from particular words or ideas in the Bible. No formal Bible study, just quick ideas to inspire your own study. I have found this helpful during this stay at home time, and God put the idea in my mind to do the same for others.

Another new thing is learning how to do a podcast, and doing video posts. Something I would never have imagined myself doing before these last two months! Whereas before I clung to familiarity and routine (which has been so difficult during this time), God is showing me that I can be comfortable in new things when I trust Him.

Another perspective of looking at new things is whether or not I have forgiven myself (God certainly has) for past sins, which can hinder moving on with new things. I have had difficulty with this in the past. God is showing me how as we speak.

So I thought I’d start here with a few verses about NEW THINGS.

  1. This verse is rather drastic, but it’s definitely about a new thing. Numbers 16:30  But if the LORD make a NEW thing, and the earth open her mouth and swallow them up with all that appertains unto them and they go down alive into sheol; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.  (After which the earth swallowed them up, the sons of Korah.)
  2. Solomon says there is no  NEW thing under the sun in Ecclesiastes 1:9. What is not new to mankind may very well be new to me though.
  3. Lamentations 3:22-23  It is because of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are NEW every  morning; great is thy faithfulness.
  4. Matthew 9:16; Mark 2:21; Luke 5:36, NEW cloth to old garment not a fix
  5. Matthew 13:52  —  Then said he unto them, Therefore, every scribe who is instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a man that is an householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure things NEW and old.
  6. 2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a NEW creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become NEW. This is likely the best verse for this topic.
  7. Galatians 6:15 is similar to #6. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision availeth anything, but a NEW creature.
  8. Ephesians 2:15 speaks of Jews and Gentiles becoming one in Christ, certainly a new concept.
  9. Ephesians 4:22-24  That ye put off concerning the former manner of life the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the NEW man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
  10. And similarly, Colossians 3:10 And have put on the NEW man, that is renewed in knowledge after the image  of him that created him. This whole passage expands on this idea (5-17) in practical ways.
  11. The entire book of Hebrews is about better things, a better way, being through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Hebrews 10:20 By a NEW and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.
  12. Revelation 2:17 and 3:12 speak of a NEW name.
  13. Revelation 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things NEW. And he said unto  me, Write; for these words are true and faithful.
  14. John 3:3 and 1 Peter 1:23 speak of being born again, not using the word but certainly speaking of a NEW birth.
  15. Missed verses speaking of the NEW heaven and NEW earth. 2 Peter 3:13 is one. Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for NEW heavens and a NEW earth, in which dwelleth righteousness.

This is not an exhaustive list, but gets the idea across and hopefully sparks an interest in NEW things through which God may be glorified. I challenge you to see what new things God will teach you during this time of global pandemic. I know of no better help in trouble than to go to God in prayer and to read and study His Word (and memorize it). God bless you, my friend.