The Ultimate Love Story – A Thoughtful Prose

The Little Things

 

Imagine a boy meeting a girl, a very special girl.  To this boy, he couldn’t tell what it was but knew there was something different about her.  He wanted to get to know her; he wanted to spend every available minute and second with her.  Perhaps he was too shy or perhaps he didn’t want to encroach upon her space too much, so he tried to give her little hints.  He opened the door for her, offered to carry heavy loads when she seem burdened, and tried to be there for her when she needed someone to listen.  To him there was no one else in the world.  “Could this love exist?” He thought, “How did I get so lucky?  Does she even notice me?”  For it seemed that some days she didn’t even give him a second look or acknowledge he was there.  Could such a creative and loving affection be innocuous to even the creator of such great love and affection?  Imagine, if you could, God as this boy.  He tries little things to get her attention.  Even as kids, little nudges and pushes were the playground equivalent for attention.  Yet, she didn’t seem to notice.  She might have seemed a little flattered, but soon became distracted by what she considered to be older, more attractive boys.  At least for some time, she lost interest.  After realizing the self-conceited attitude that these once appealing boys had, she remembered her ‘old stand-by,’ the boy that never actually left her.  Though his affection and attention never waned or wanted, she was used to the pampered treatment by the others and asked for a sign of his affection.  It was in the little things his affection showed.  Had she but paid more attention to the little things she might have seen his love.  It was in a small, relatively little way that God became real to her.  Had she but noticed the little things that led to this, perhaps more fuss would have been made.  Maybe she would have taken notice.  Maybe she would have listened better to what he had whispered.  He tried to tell her about how much he loved her, about the plans he had for her, about how much he would sacrifice for her.  He spoke until his voice was drowned by her unnerved conscious.  She wasn’t sure she was ready for this, and some of what she heard had scared her.  Her rejection of him cut him deep and broke his heart, and the sacrifice he spoke of was all that was left to do.  There was no other choice.  He loved her enough to die for her; he laid down his life for her.  The talk of sacrifice seemed like a little thing, not a warning.  Did he have to die for her?  He had mentioned how a man might lay down his life for a friend, for someone he loved.  She didn’t fully understand that it was this sacrifice, this gift that was the proof she had asked for.  If only she had paid more attention to the little things, she might have seen this seemingly-little … thing coming.  He had spoken also of a future.  What future?  Was there life after death?  What comes next?  The one she loved died; he had taken her place.  It was still in her grief that hope came.  Death could not contain such love, though it might try to restrain.  Such was God’s sacrifice.  His redemptive love took form to take her place and released death of its power.  His gift was his place for hers.  Death no longer has its power; it no longer has its sting.  Its once held victory was its ultimate defeat.  There is a life after death.  The future he spoke of is still to come.  It was the little things that spoke of this.  God, still, remains real through the hope of what’s to come.  There are little things to be done; preparations are to be made before the fruition of the promise.  There is still the reminiscent helper that reminds her of the little things.  One day when all the little things are done, there will be one more thing, one not so little, to do.  The boy that once tried to get the girl’s attention will return in his fullness and glory to take an expectant maid in hand to be his eternal wife.

(This was first written down December 17, 2005 with slight revisions at different times, after mulling over the relationship God has had with the nation Israel – and later on “the church” – throughout the Old Testament and into the New Testament. Jesus Christ has been depicted as the bridegroom to the Church in the New Testament. There is so much to who Jesus is that this creative prose may only scratch the surface at the whole of truth.)

A Renewed Sense

It could be on the order of a revelation that I awoke this morning with a renewed sense of the world around me and my potential capabilities in this world.

In placing no blame, I’m inclined to say that my self-confidence has been stunted in my up-bringing.  Many factors, I’m sure, could be called to bear on this but the crux that shaped my self-confidence hung on an idealized structure and perfect professionalism that in my mind could never be attained, or for which that I may never be good enough.  Such felt my outlook on entering the world.  Even as a Christian and with my worth tied to my identity in Jesus Christ, I had at least a sense of inadequacy of “taking on the world” and striving for my goals.  My budding Christian maturity not-withstanding, I’d say my generic two-cent pep talk to my teenage self might be:

Don’t forget that every working professional is by nature human and that every business, economy, or government is shrouded by some layer or more of a game-like perception.  Do not put limits on yourself for what you want to achieve.  Strive for the best in yourself and others. 

In expounding, it seems that in all the working and professional pursuits – be it forming a nation, government, or running a local business – they may all be boiled down to some analogous base of kids playing games in the backyard like army, house, doctor, or shopping.  These innocent and fun games are usually perceived as how they might view the “adult” world.  I wonder if the opposite might be an even truer and profoundly more insightful understanding that our once child-like games have just expanded or continued at greater levels now that those kids have become older.  It feels and looks truer to me as some of the “professional” veneer has been peeled back thanks to indiscretions, mis-dealings, and sub-standards from those acting within – or without in some cases – our grown-up agreed-upon arrangements. 

Having now some years on my teenage self, I hope that I’ve grown and matured along the way not only physically, mentally, or emotionally but also spiritually with my walk with Jesus Christ.  I’ve been known to myself to put on rose-colored glasses, and I hope that in what I convey here aids only in removing such a tint.  To add a further note in light of my faith, my two-cent addendum might be:

We all have the same start, whether you stand with Christ or not.  Everyone is your neighbor.  Find and hone the talents God gave you so you may better know your part in God’s bigger picture.

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Feel Cracked or Useless? – A Devotional

Twelve Ways to Be Useful to God

A water-bearer in India had two large pots, both hung on the ends of a pole, which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot always arrived half full.

The poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water-bearer one day by the stream:

‘I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologise to you. I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts.’

The bearer said to the pot, ‘Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.’

Thankfully, God uses cracked pots! You do not need to be perfect for God to use you. We want our lives to count for something. If you want to be useful to God, here are twelve keys:

Psalm 57:7-11

1. Know that you are loved

God uses you because he loves you. David says, ‘For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies’ (v.10). This is where it all starts – knowing that you are loved by God.

2. Worship the Lord whatever

God is looking for worshippers. David says, ‘My heart is steadfast, O God… I will sing and make music… I will praise you, O Lord’ (vv.7–9). Respond to the experience of God’s love by worshiping him with every gift that you have – not just privately but also in public (v.9) – not just when you feel like it but ‘steadfastly’ – in difficult times as well.

3. Honour God in your life

God honours those who honour him. David writes, ‘Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth’ (v.11). This is David’s ultimate desire. It is the same desire that is expressed in the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, ‘hallowed be your name’ (Matthew 6:9).

Lord, thank you for your great love for me that reaches to the heavens and for your faithfulness that reaches to the skies. I pray today that your name will be honoured through everything I do and say.

John 5:16-30

4. Do what ‘the Father’ is doing

The Pharisees, who were deeply religious, had become corrupted, legalistic and rigid. They criticised Jesus because a man paralysed for thirty-eight years had carried his bed on the Sabbath.

Jesus is in communion with God and is the beloved Son of God who does everything the Father wants him to do. He cannot be separated from his Father. He is one with the Father.

Jesus is God: ‘he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God’ (v.18). Yet Jesus is also the obedient Son of his Father. He said in response to those who wanted to kill him: ‘I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does’ (v.19).

Rather than initiating your own plans and asking God to bless them, try to see what God’s plans are and join in.

5. Listen to God

The people of God got themselves into trouble, as we see in today’s Old Testament passage, because they did not listen to God (Judges 6:10). Jesus says the key to life is to listen to him and believe: ‘I tell you the truth, those who hear my word and believe him who sent me have eternal life and will not be condemned; they have crossed over from death to life’ (John 5:24).

Even Jesus says, ‘I can’t do a solitary thing on my own: I listen, then I decide’ (v.30, MSG).

6. Do all the good you can

You cannot earn your salvation by ‘doing good’. However, the evidence of a life of faith is a life of doing good. Jesus himself, we are told, ‘went around doing good’ (Acts 10.38). Jesus says, ‘For a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned’ (John 5:28–29).

As John Wesley said, ‘Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.’

7. Seek to please God

I find this one of the hardest things to even begin to put into practice. It seems so natural to seek to please myself. Jesus said, ‘I seek not to please myself but him who sent me’ (v.30). To live a life seeking to please God involves a complete U-turn. It is not only a one-off U-turn but it is something that you have to try to put into practice every day. It is not easy!

Father, help me to listen to your voice, to discern what you are doing and join in – not seeking to please myself but rather seeking to please you.

Judges 6:1-7:8a

8. Cry out to the Lord for help

The people of God were in trouble once again. They had done ‘evil in the eyes of the Lord’ (6:1). As a result they were oppressed (v.2) and ‘reduced to grinding poverty’ (v.6, MSG).

The turning point came for them, as it so often does for us, when they ‘cried out to the Lord for help’ (v.6). I am so thankful for the many times in my life when God has answered my cry for help. Whatever difficulties and challenges you are facing today, cry out to the Lord for help.

9. Know that God is with you

God raised up Gideon and said to him, ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior’ (v.12). Gideon said to God, ‘But Lord… How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family’ (v.15). The Lord answered, ‘I will be with you’ (v.16).

Jesus, has promised that he will be with you always, until the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

10. Know your weaknesses

Gideon is another example of God using cracked pots! Gideon said, ‘How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family’ (Judges 6:15). I often feel that God cannot use me because of my weaknesses. But sometimes God works through our weaknesses better than through our strengths.

Personally, I draw great comfort from the words of the apostle Paul: ‘Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me… For when I am weak, then I am strong’ (2 Corinthians 12:9–10).

11. Obey God fearlessly

Gideon ‘did as the Lord told him’ (Judges 6:27), even though he risked death (v.30). I find that I am often timid in the face of opposition. However, the opposition we face is nothing compared to what Gideon and, certainly, what Jesus faced. As Joyce Meyer says, ‘When fear knocks on your door, let faith answer!’

12. Be God-confident

The secret of Gideon’s power was that ‘the Spirit of the Lord came upon [him]’ (v.34). Don’t be self-confident; be God-confident.

God does not need large numbers. In fact he said to Gideon, ‘you have too many men’ (7:2). He does not want the people to think it was their own strength that saved them. He reduced the numbers from 32,000 to 300 (vv.1–7).

We do not need large numbers to see a nation transformed but we do need the power of the Holy Spirit. If you are confident in God, he can work through you as he did through Gideon.

Lord, I need your Holy Spirit if I am going to fulfil the calling you have given me. Please send your Holy Spirit upon me today. Come, Holy Spirit.

Poems About life and God

Imperfect Me

If I try hard and still fall down

Then don’t see all that I could learn

If I come close and still fail

Then don’t get much of what I did earn

 

Why do these things hurt?

When I see me struggling

Why are they so hard still?

When all I see is my fall

 

You still call me up when I’m down

You view me better, even perfection you see

You still believe in me when I don’t

You still encourage and love imperfect me

 

So believe in me when I doubt

Carry me when my feet falter

I’m on my knees and call out

Encourage my mind and heart to alter

For fear and doubt call and linger

If I can walk closer with Your will

As a small child clutching at your finger

Pause at times and hold me still

If I can own what you said for my heart to hear

I can walk with ease and go placidly

For gone, I’m sure, will be doubt and fear

Approaching then noise and haste intrepidly

 

Of course I may struggle but be assured

There is some reason and refining

In this proofing ground to be matured

To my Father’s heart, mine aligning

 

I’ll get up when I’m down

Taking your view, owning what to be

Believing in You, endeavoring for more

You still encourage and love imperfect me 

Musings on Music. Why Do We Listen?

Where words fail, music speaks. – Hans Christian Andersen

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. – Victor Hugo


O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD,
            Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.

– Psalm 95:1 (NASB)

What music do you like?  Pop, R&B, Classical, Blue Grass, Jazz, and many other mentions of types and genres of this thing we know of as music evoke memories, reactions, and emotional responses – and for good reasons.  (My guess is there’s nothing you don’t already know here, and if you want the short version, feel free to skip to the end.)  I think it might boil down to the representative spirit that accompanies such accompaniment of tunes.

Culture is one of the biggest influences, as I see it – if not THE biggest.  From infancy to adulthood, we experience the environs and surroundings of familial, and perhaps regional, sounds from folk and tradition (and other similar things).  Culture is a multi-faceted thing itself and blends in and through the elements below.  A measure or two from a particular instrument might take you on a journey representative of some far off place.  If you heard a zither, of what would you think?  If I were to mention bagpipes, where or what might come to mind?  The migration of people and the expansion of internet capabilities have led to cultural influences, including music, to cross tangible and intangible barriers and be more freely shared.  Different cultures meet, clash, mix, and maybe blend.  And you also get cultures within cultures.  Some examples might be the British invasion (musically), Christian reggae, and country rock.

Perhaps the message in the music could be called the driving force for the cultural influence, though I wonder if vice versa might be truer.  It’s not just a sharing of a note, chord, or tune, but something more I think – especially for the listener’s benefit.  If you think of a decade or era of human history, there’s likely to be specific sounds or tunes that epitomize that timeframe and perhaps specific events.  If you hear mention of the ‘70s or ‘60s, what comes to mind?  If I were to say Big Band or Louis Armstrong, where or when would that take your mind?  Some tunes represent those times, but they do because of the happenings in those times and what the artists wanted to convey and express. Live easy, enjoy life, make love not war, etc.

Emotions are near with listening to musical pieces and usually associated with both culture and message.  In reading the lyrics, “We didn’t start the fire, It was always burning…”, could you have continued to the next line or did you hear the tune?  There’s reason to aid memorization by putting a tune to it; it helps the recall of that fact.  Have you felt anything when hearing Andrea Bocelli singing “Time to Say Goodbye”?  Have you ever watched a silent movie?  You need that piano to help make it interesting and move along the story.  There is a score or soundtrack for a reason; it helps evoke and bring to mind emotions the movie makers intend.  A romantic scene would probably be boring without some stirring strings.

Motivation beyond just emotional, cultural, and spiritual is another facet.  I mention this because I also work out to music.  So it seems that however the artist may have been motivated for the song, the music still helps motivate me on.  To extrapolate as the listener, music does tend to be an impetus for an outcome, and in that sense motivates those who listen.  The cavalry charges after the bugle blown.  Revelry and taps accompany the flag flown.  Some songs call for introspection, to be awed by beauty, or some other silent action.  Others are more stirring.

There is a spiritual-ness I think to music that can help tie message with culture, message with emotion, and such.  Sure, there is the term Spirituals in reference to songs categorized as worship songs with religion.  I mean it in this case in a general sense, not tied to one religion or another.  But there is no doubt that religions around the world use songs as a form of worship.  In fact, if you look at the Bible, it talks about using songs as a form or expression of worship and not confining worship to only songs.  I think if one were to ponder on the effect of a song (any song), there would be more found than just the mechanics and previously mentioned aspects. 

I mentioned a representative spirit in relation to music, which seemingly brings it all together.  I mean that to describe our tie and reason to why we enjoy music.  Each, or a combination, of the aspects mentioned above are our reasons for what’s on our playlist. Each song resonates and ties to a profound element that we find within ourselves.   We’ve identified with some spirit of that song, whether it was the musicality of the tune or message or emotion or culture reference, etc.  Memories come easily when associated tunes catch our ear.  It does seem to be part of the soundtrack compilation of one’s life, a soundtrack that is ever changing.

Since music can speak to us deeply, shouldn’t we then be mindful about what type of music or content we’re enjoying? What music encourages you or you find uplifting?

Had “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” by Journey stuck in my head; hope you don’t mind I chose to include a link for it. 🙂

A Pilot’s Prayer

Almighty God:

At birth we were cleared for takeoff and began to practice all sorts of maneuvers.

Each day, as we mature, and take solo flights into the dimensions of life we encounter some unexpected turbulence.

Often, we are blown off course by the winds of hatred, prejudice, or brutal force.

Under the pressures of business, and home, and society, we experience vertigo as to a proper sense of values.

At times, we become desperate, and are caused to shout “Mayday” only to discover that there is no location or situation outside of your control zone.

O God, let our flight plan be your will and our true course in line with your commandments.

Then, when we make our final approach in life, may we, with all the angels in heaven, be prepared to say: “I’d rather be flying with you = today, tomorrow, and forever.”

Amen

Note: I don’t know the original author; if you do, please let me know. Thanks.

Poems about Life & God

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot loose.”

– Jim Elliot

Quizzical Socks

A girl in a paradoxical box

Had some amazing locks

Belonging to hair of golden brown

Composed a rich laden crown

Surprisingly, she had quizzical socks

This girl living in a paradoxical box

Though her reality is obvious to us

She remained completely oblivious

She went on her way

From day to day

Not knowing a box confined

Her oblivious state of mind

On her way she walked

Each foot with the quizzical sock

As contradictions of the way she talks

Which support the confines of her box

Though the hair can be misleading

There is a principle some aren’t seeing

Though she talks within her box

She walks with quizzical socks

Which, in other words, can be said

As others have heard or read

“You can talk the talk,

But can you walk the walk?”

So this girl in a paradoxical box

Who goes around in quizzical socks

Is she alone as she walks?

No, others wear mismatched socks

  • March 31, 2005

On Forgiveness: Personal Thoughts

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

post

I Felt Challenged upon listening this morning to a sermon by Alistair Begg on Forgiveness (7 May 2019, “Forgiven and Forgiving” Part 3 of 3; https://www.truthforlife.org ).

This is an aspect of Christian living that is vital, necessary, and not easy.  It is really at the core of things.  In light of Pastor Begg’s look at the Lord’s Prayer and his sermons breaking down the phrases Christ uses, I find it pressing on me to examine my heart and thoughts for what might still be slights or offenses that I need to fully or completely forgive.  I rather appreciate Pastor Begg’s look and what it means to forgive:  

(Excerpt from the sermon: 

And it is essentially a threefold promise, because when we express forgiveness to another person, this is what we should be saying: “I forgive you. And therefore, I will not bring the matter up to you again. Secondly, I will not bring the matter up to someone else. Thirdly, I will not bring the matter up to myself.”

)

I’ve started to pray-fully think and review the things that come to mind when I ask myself, “Who or what do I still need to forgive?” and I intend to take these things to God.  While upon examining these things, I know or realize that the better approach isn’t to take it to the person but to God since it’s been so long or could make things more complicated or worse.  My initial thoughts when I go to my mind and start to look at my heart is a bit like, “I’m good; there’s nothing I need to forgive,” but that doesn’t seem wholly true.  Oh, I guess I suppressed or didn’t fully address this or that.  In fact, a couple things easily came to mind as I was listening to the sermon.  Turns out I thought I’d already dealt with them, and I may have. Perhaps I didn’t address them to the fullest extent. Some of that may be God’s timing in dealing with a me that wasn’t completely ready.  No, I’m not going to list those past things here.  I intend to list them elsewhere and then pray over them.  I want to take them to God and forgive those slights.  Then I’ll strike them off the list and throw the list away – not quite as far as the East is from the West but in a trash bin far from me.

It is a choice, not dependent on feelings.  Yes, I know I may not feel like wanting to forgive but I can still choose to forgive.

(Excerpt from sermon:

So we forgive in obedience to the command of God, we make the promise as God has made, and it is more than possible that eventually the feelings will follow.

)

There have been clearly defined faults by others in my life.  There have been things of my own making in a sense.  Maybe then I need to forgive myself about those things that I’ve influenced?  There are past relational complications.  Bitterness and resentment have been allowed to grow, and there may need to be recognition of forgiving what I can and relinquishing the rest to God.  What then might I do with these residue of feelings?  Take them to God I suppose.

I know I’ve previously wanted to blame those who’ve hurt me and wanted them to recognize, recompense or deliver restitution.  I’ve gotten angry, but come to fatigue myself and think it all wasted energy.  What’s the point since harm’s been done?  Is it going to do any good if I pursue what seems reasonable vengeance?  Maybe they should at least know I hurt.

Is it so hard for the other party to see how much I’ve been hurt?!  Though in looking at the cross, I feel so small and unqualified when I want to yell that to others.

Yes, there are consequences to what transpired.  Forgiving doesn’t eliminate or make those consequences go away.  And it seems I’m living with the hurt and wounding of some of those consequences.  Can I then properly address and help heal those areas without getting pissed off or negating forgiveness?  I know these things are best handled by God and His grace; yet, it’s still hard not to get my emotions so stirred up and potentially in the way.  Are they going to scar much in the healing process?

I feel like it’s been slow, but the more manageable approach it seems to me is to address each in turn those rooted aspects, to weed them out with love and patience.

I need to be intentional about speaking God’s truth over and replacing where I’ve harbored, and internalized, lies about myself, others or situations.  I am NOT alone!  I have brothers and sisters in Christ.  I have a wife.  I am a loved person, a child of God.  Truths that should be reiterated again and again, since years have passed to only reinforce lies.

I need to realize and wholly embrace all that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit provide in a complete consummate relationship as a believer and fellow heir.  I need Jesus!  I depend, and should even more, upon Him daily.  I need to look to God in all things and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading.  I should start the day off with Him and be intentional throughout the rest of the day, every day.

I need to adopt better habitual mechanisms that could replace sinful, harmful ones that have become ingrained.  Easier said than done, I know; new habits can take time.  That’s why and where reminders and others can help, supporting me in going through.  I need to choose to look at right or good things, instead of letting my mind wander.  Let my guard be ready.  I need to put on God’s armor daily and dwell in His word frequently.

I need reminders that emotions are acceptable, as well as communicating in a safe, right way and environment.  At times I need to yell at paper!  At times I need to cry on the carpet before God!  I need and can confide in close friends!  I need and should be open and honest with my wife!

It’s all about relationships.  Praying intentionally the Lord’s Prayer allows me to examine my relationship with my Heavenly Father and my relationship with fellow people, especially those I love.  Forgiveness is key.