Daily Archives: December 27, 2013

love lavished : hope brought : mercy munificent : grace given

Love, hope, mercy and grace – four words I’ve often connected to Christmas and beyond – and today, I’d like to delve


A word that cannot defined my man, but by God

That being said, I looked to 1 Corinthians 13 for today’s definition rather than Miriam-Webster’s dictionary:

If I…do not have love, I have nothing…If I…do not love, I am nothing…Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13

God is love.

If I…do not have [God], I have nothing…If I…do not have [God], I am nothing…[God] is patient, [God] is kind. [God] does not envy, [God] does not boast, [God] is not proud. [God] does not dishonor others, [God] is not self-seeking, [God] is not easily angered, [God] keeps no record of wrongs. [God] does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. [God] always protects, [God] always trusts, [God] always hopes, [God] always perseveres. [God] never fails…these three remain: faith, hope and [God]. But the greatest of these is [God]. 1 Corinthians 13

Simple and incomprehensible at the same time.

It’s more than a verb.

It’s a noun.

He lavished his love upon us at Creation. His love enabled him to continue to pursue us even though we had flaunted our sin in his face. Love was the reason he became a man, born as a baby, who lived and died just so our relationship with him could be restored once and for all.


One of my favorite words

Simple…and yet, complex.

If you read through the Psalms, you’ll discover that David knew God loved him, without a doubt. David had experienced it. We can too, if we but choose to allow Jesus to do so.

Spent time with him; sit in his presence and bask in it. Soak it in. Breathe deeply and sense his love as it fills every fiber of your being.

And it remains – yesterday, today and forever.


Hope is to anticipate or expect with confidence.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6.19

Jesus came and hope arrived.

I’ve said it before and I don’t mind saying it again.

Christ is hope.

He is hope to the person out of a job, to the struggling single parent, to the dying believer. Even if you feel that you can’t find your way out of the murkiness of the struggles of this life, if you have Jesus, you have hope.

It’s not a false hope, either. It is very real.

God’s promises brought hope before Christ.

His birth confirmed it.

And his resurrection ended the argument of its legit-ness once and for all.


In your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God. Nehemiah 9.31

Mercy can be defined as not getting what you deserve.

Read through any Old Testament story and you’ll understand that without the mercy of God, we’d be finished.



God loves us so much and is saddened when we intentionally do things contrary to His will (when we disobey him). The pain isn’t surface level with him; it cuts deep.

It was in his munificent mercy that he extends grace to us through his son; through his coming to our world in human form to teach us how to live as his children and to die; to sacrifice himself and everything that he is just so our relationship with him could be restored.

And rarely do we see mercy without grace…


If mercy is not getting what you deserve, grace is getting what you don’t deserve.

Grace is free, but it doesn’t come cheap.

It’s hard for us to wrap our minds around the grace of God. We don’t live in a world where grace is really practiced or even valued. And as a result, no one expects it — not from the people around them and certainly not for a holy and perfect God.

We often look at ourselves and see our weaknesses and where we fall short. It’s easy for us to question why God would want anything to do with us and again, this all comes down to who he is — love, compassion and mercy.

We can’t hid who we are and it ridiculous when we think we can either put on a front for God (who sees us down to the center of who we are) or toss in the towel, assuming we’re simply not worth it.

God knows you. He knows me. Deeply.

He created us and knows exactly how our minds and hearts work.

In some ways, we’re right in thinking that we don’t deserve grace. We sin and we mess up, time and time again. Humanity is a mess. A beautiful mess.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. Psalm 103.13

We aren’t deserving of God’s grace, but his gives it anyway – a free gift; one that we don’t deserve.

It’s not given because of who we are, but because of who God is.

He is compassion and mercy.

He is love.

He loves us so much that he was willing to die for us. What kind of god does that? Certainly not one created by man.

God chooses not to run away from our mess. He lives in it. And he lovingly helps us clean it up, day by day, moment by moment, trial by trial.

Let me ask you – as you contemplate God and who he is, what will your choice be? Will you choose the darkness that this world offers? Or will you choose light?

the importance of forgiveness

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” C.S. Lewis

I’ve written on the topic before and, while I’ll be referencing earlier posts (here and here), some of this is new; a part of the truth I’m just beginning to grasp.


That one act/word has been a constant in my life this last year (and beyond, now that I think about it).

Forgiveness is not a feeling. No, it definitely is not.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean to forget. I probably won’t. What good would that be if I couldn’t use what I remember to help others walk through similar situations?

Forgiveness is not pretending you weren’t hurt. And I was. Deeply.

Forgiveness is not trusting the person again. I may or may not… Only God has the power to redeem and restore relationships, but I can’t do that on my own.

Forgiveness is not really even reconciliation, although it does play a part later…and that’s if both parties are willing to let bygones be bygones, to set those feelings of resentment aside and give it another shot.

Forgiveness is an act; a decision you make to obey God and in the process, allowing him bring healing to your heart.

Forgiveness hurts.

And no one can make you do it.

Forgiveness is a choice.

God can’t make you do it.

Again, forgiveness is a choice.

We each must individually decide to give up our perceived right to hurt the other person back. We must forgive because God has forgiven us much.

“God’s grace and forgiveness, while free to the recipient, are always costly for the given… From the earliest parts of the Bible, it was understood that God could not forgive without sacrifice. No one who is seriously wronged can ‘just forgive’ the perpetrator… But when you forgive, that means you absorb the loss and the debt. You bear it yourself. All forgiveness, then, is costly.” Timothy Keller

Forgiveness is letting it go, taking on all of the bitterness of the situation and allows God to handle the justice part in his perfect timing, even though we would probably rather see that person squirm right now.

Forgiveness is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight… Oh, I believe we can get there with Jesus’ help, making it more of an attitude or a lifestyle rather than an act we do every now and then.

Forgiveness takes time.

It is an act of grace that reflects God’s treatment to me. When I forgive, I release that situation, those people, to God, who will work directly on that other person, probably persistently, and in his time; his good and perfect time.

That is one thing I’ve had hammered home this last year… I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning what it means to forgive.  He’s been messing with me big time in that department.

Not only has he affirmed his love for me; he’s held my hand through the ups and downs this year has tossed my way.

These last seven years have been quite the wild ride. I’ve been learning to forgive and let go. I’m learning to forgive those who were horrible to me when I was a kid,  to forgive my dad for his shortcomings, roommates for selfish actions and words said in heated moments, a young man who rarely gave anything in return, extended family members…the list goes on. I’ve also been learning to be just a tad bit kinder to myself; to forgive myself.

Priscilla Shirer in The Resolution for Women writes that if we refuse to forgive ourselves (or allow Jesus to do the forgiving), we are saying that we he did on the cross wasn’t enough.

It was enough; more than enough. What he did on the cross, the price he paid, will always be enough.

“…We must say to ourselves something like this: ‘Well, when Jesus looked down from the cross, he didn’t think “I am giving myself to you because you are so attractive to me.” No, he was in agony, and he looked down at us – denying him, abandoning him, and betraying him – and in the greatest act of love in history, he STAYED. He said, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.” He loved us, not because we were lovely to him, but to make us lovely…” (Timothy Keller)

That is what forgiveness does.

Wen you truly forgive, the love of God flows freely into your life and through everything you do. When your decisions are not controlled by the other person’s behavior (or your resentment toward them), you have forgiven. When you’re free from the pain, anger and feelings of hatred toward that person and you find yourself experiencing God’s peace, you have truly forgiven. When you’re able to let that person go rather than allow those same feelings (the pain, anger, resentment, etc.) have a hold over you, you have forgiven.

Forgiveness has the power to redeem.

Forgiveness has the power to renew.

Forgiveness, through Christ Jesus, has the power to restore me. It has the power to restore you. And, through forgiveness, Jesus can restore relationships, but only if the other party wants a restored relationship. If they don’t, you simply have to let go and move on.

And that’s what I’m doing now.

December has been a month of realizations and I refuse to be held back by something I cannot control any longer. I can only control me and I, for one, want to live. I don’t want to spend my life waiting…. waiting… waiting… I want to live while waiting, not stand at a standstill.

Forgiveness is allowing myself to move on, but not forgetting. In forgetting, you say that it didn’t happen. It did. I’ve learned from those situations that have affected my life and I will remember, but not in a way that keeps me bound. The remembering enables me to help others who are walking through or will walk through similar situations. There is love in that.

There is freedom in that.

Favorite Christmas Hymns: an everlasting light

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel;
Born is the King of Israel!

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. – Matthew 1.21 NIV

Every time this son is played, I’m reminded of a time in my childhood….the glass-spun star looping over the shepherds heads as they had just heard the angels sing of Christ’s birth. I remember watching them all scramble to their feet, with their handmade staffs in tow, holding onto their sashes in fear that their costumes would fall off if they didn’t. Children rushing to the make-shift manger holding a doll that represented Jesus, just to catch a glimpse of what it may have been like for those real shepherds; for the real Mary and Joseph.

The imagination of a child is an amazing thing. I feel blessed in the fact that I’ve managed to hold on to some of mine. I remember what it was like and how easy it was to simply believe. No questions.

It simply was.

It simply still is.

It is widely known that Noel is the French word for Christmas, but do you know the origin of the word? Noel comes from the Latin words natalis, meaning “birth.” Therefore, the title of the hymn, fully translated, is “The First Birth.”

This song is about the Nativity Story, the birth of Jesus as we see in the Bible. Angels came to Joseph and Mary, telling them “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Jesus came to save us from our sings. That is what this season is about: the remembrance of this birth and the life of Jesus. He was born here, lived here, died here and was raised again here, all so that we could have life and a new way to have a relationship with God.

This song reminds of the hopes and expectations of salvation that came with the birth of Jesus, and serves to remind us that, no matter where we find ourselves in our lives right now, that this Jesus was here, and we will always have hope in that. This is a chance to celebrate not only the newness of his life, but an opportunity to start your life over with new birth (“You must be born again” 9 John 3.74)).

Whatever sin, whatever shortcoming, whatever failure, whatever weakness, whatever reason you have, a child was born and he has come to save you.