Mercy

The Mercy of King LouisXII of France.
Painted by Jean Bourdichon

I must confess, I don’t post as often as I used to because I feel inadequate, in so many ways, to write about God. I have accidentally upset some people I’ve communicated with online. I feel so bad about that, that I have let those feelings hinder me. It’s all about me, me, me. One time, a woman posted a picture of the construction of her new driveway. I noticed it was going to be circular with greenery in the center and wrote, “Oh, how elegant!” Well, in the picture there was mud and a bulldozer. I guess she thought I was being snide. I just meant the driveway would be elegant. There were a few incidents like this, because I don’t think things through. One of the horrible thoughts of my mind is me hurting someone’s feelings; and here I was doing it.

Well, I know Satan wants to discourage me from writing online. I must pray more about this. I must not let him make me look at myself and feel no good. I want to praise God. I want to lift him up and show people how truly wonderful he is. I’m so grateful to him for all the good he does in the world and in my family. I know we mostly read news about the evil that goes on in the world; but there is also so much good done every day by people who love people. I like what Joyce Meyer says about that, “Trust the Lord and do good.” Don’t be discouraged by evil – dwell on what’s good.

Psalm 103:11-14

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is His loving devotion for those who fear Him.

As far as the east is from the west,

so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children,

so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.

For He knows our frame;

He is mindful that we are dust.

Matthew 5:7

Blessed are the merciful. They shall obtain mercy.

Today, I read this meditation about God’s mercy. I thought it was beautiful. It was written by, Lloyd John Ogilvie, in God’s Best for My Life.

“This beatitude (Matt. 5:7) gives us another quality of family likeness we can have with God. He is merciful and wants to reproduce that crucial aspect of his nature in us. We are truly happy – blessed – when we are receiving his mercy and are communicating it to others. When we have felt God’s mercy in our failures and needs, we become merciful to others in their inadequacies and mistakes. Christ is God’s mercy incarnate. As he lives his life in us, our minds are captured by his amazing grace, our emotions are infused by tender love, and our wills are liberated to do whatever people need to feel loved again.

Mercy is profound identification. The Hebrew word implies living in another person’s skin, to feel, know, and experience what he or she is going through: empathy, sensitivity. The outer manifestation of our inner experience of God’s mercy is a graciousness which offers understanding, gives others another chance, and freely forgives. The qualification for receiving the continuous flow of God’s mercy is to give out what he has put in.

Psalm 103 has been a charge and charter for me in attempts to live this beatitude. The steadfast love of the Lord endures forever. Nothing can change it. Note all the things that quality of mercy overcomes. That gives us assurance and courage, strength and endurance. Reread the psalm as a prayer from your own heart as your expression of gratitude for mercy and as a commitment to be merciful. Now turn to Lamentations 3:19-26 and read again the good news that the mercy of the Lord never comes to an end; it never ceases; it is fresh every morning and all through the day, all because of the faithfulness of God. Blessedness is receiving and reproducing mercy.”

It isn’t always easy to show mercy and forgiveness. I remember when all the audio equipment was stolen from a church I attended. The pastor was very angry when he went up front to preach and promised to repay the ones who did the stealing.

In the 1940s, my mother and father took a homeless man into their home and got him a job. They came home from church one day and he was gone, along with my father’s best coat and a camera his brother had gotten him in Japan.

These are the kind of things God wants us to forgive and be merciful about. It isn’t easy. The only way to do it is to pray until our feelings match our knowledge of what God wants. Be determined; know that it is not only for their good, but for ours.

I Got The Message Bible.

I was reading something, can’t remember what, and the writer quoted from, The Message Bible. The words were so wonderful and alive that I kept reading those verses for days.

So, I looked up The Message Bible online and found out it was written by pastor Eugene Peterson, a scholar, theologian, poet and author, who reads Hebrew and Greek. This is what he said of his reason for writing The Message.

“While I was teaching a class on Galatians, I began to realize that the adults in my class weren’t feeling the vitality and directness that I sensed as I read and studied the New Testament in its original Greek. Writing straight from the original text, I began to attempt to bring into English the rhythms and idioms of the original language. I knew that the early readers of the New Testament were captured and engaged by these writings and I wanted my congregation to be impacted in the same way. I hoped to bring the New Testament to life for two different types of people: those who hadn’t read the Bible because it seemed too distant and irrelevant and those who had read the Bible so much that it had become ‘old hat.’”  Eugene Peterson.

Vitality and directness,” that is what I have found in reading The Message.

“For more than two years, Eugene Peterson devoted all his efforts to The Message® New Testament. His primary goal was to capture the tone of the text and the original conversational feel of the Greek, in contemporary English.” : https://www.biblestudytools.com/msg/

I had read his translation was idiomatic. I looked for descriptions of that and found this at:

https://examples.yourdictionary.com/idiom.html

Idioms exist in every language. They are words or phrases that aren’t meant to be taken literally. For example, if you say someone has “cold feet,” it doesn’t mean their toes are actually cold. Rather, it means they’re nervous about something.

Idioms can’t be deduced merely by studying the words in the phrase. If taken literally, you would think that someone with cold feet has… cold feet. But, after living with a certain group of people for a period of time, you’ll start to pick up their expressions. Let’s explore some idiom examples in American everyday language, international language, and the language of the arts.

The examples below demonstrate how you can’t really deduce the meaning of these expressions without knowing what they mean. The next time someone says they’re feeling “under the weather,” you’ll know it has nothing to do with weather patterns, but rather that they’re feeling quite ill.”

  • Getting fired turned out to be a blessing in disguise. – Getting fired (normally a negative event) turned out to be a good thing.
  • These red poppies are a dime a dozen. – These red poppies are very common.
  • Don’t beat around the bush. – Just say what you really mean.

I guess this is going to be a long post.

 I’ve been walking with God for 50 years. Of course, my walk looks like this:

 –__–__**–__==–__***####++___—***–

God’s walk looks like this: ********************

 Still, that’s okay. He’s beside me all the way. When I read The Message’s story of creation I thought, “This is the God I know!”

I’ll share some of the verses from The Message and you can see what you think.

Genesis 1:2-15

God spoke: “Light!”
        And light appeared.
    God saw that light was good
        and separated light from dark.
    God named the light Day,
        he named the dark Night.
    It was evening, it was morning—
    Day One
.

6-8 God spoke: “Sky! In the middle of the waters;
        separate water from water!”
    God made sky.
    He separated the water under sky
        from the water above sky.
    And there it was:
        he named sky the Heavens;
    It was evening, it was morning—
    Day Two.

9-10 God spoke: “Separate!
        Water-beneath-Heaven, gather into one place;
    Land, appear!”
        And there it was.
    God named the land Earth.
        He named the pooled water Ocean.
    God saw that it was good.

11-13 God spoke: “Earth, green up! Grow all varieties
        of seed-bearing plants,
    Every sort of fruit-bearing tree.”
        And there it was.
    Earth produced green seed-bearing plants,
        all varieties,
    And fruit-bearing trees of all sorts.
        God saw that it was good.
    It was evening, it was morning—
    Day Three.

14-15 God spoke: “Lights! Come out!
        Shine in Heaven’s sky!
    Separate Day from Night.
        Mark seasons and days and years,
    Lights in Heaven’s sky to give light to Earth.”
        And there it was.

The creation verses go on longer, but I’m just showing an example. For me, this translation shows God’s strength. I don’t know why, but the regular translations of, “And God said, “Let there be light,” seem passive.

I’ll show you the beginning of the Beatitudes from, The Message. Matthew 1:3-16

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

7 “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

9 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

Salt and Light

13 “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

What Did Jesus Say About the So-Called Little Things?

Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne…

Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you took Me in, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you visited Me.’

Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  When did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’

And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’”   Matthew 25:31-40

The other day, I was reading these verses and then went to see what Bible commentators had to say about them. I was disappointed to see a couple of them said something like this:

“If God will reward us for doing these small things, what will he give those who did the harder things and those who preached the word.”

Hmm, well I disagree with them. I think Jesus did mention the hard things. What is easier, to preach or share your last meal? What is easier, to give out pamphlets about Jesus or drive a distance to visit someone in jail? What is easier, to be a pastor or look after people who are sick and even take them into your house to care for them?

I think, that as usual, God’s thoughts are high above our thoughts and his ways above our ways. And I also think that this has been the problem with the Christian religion through the ages.

If the Christian churches had put suffering people first, the gospel would have been preached first in actions, and then in preaching. If a person is loved and helped by someone, with no other agenda than to help and love them, they would them be open to the good news of Jesus, for that is what he did and the common people loved him.

Yes, the common people loved him, but the church leaders hated him. They were jealous of his popularity and afraid of losing their power. I see church leaders like this today.

When Paul wrote about the church leaders who are around at the time of the end, this is what he said about them:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.   2Timothy 3:1-5

There are people like this leading churches today. It is easy to spot them because their actions and words betray their hearts. Jesus told us to be careful of whom we listen to. He said we will know them by the fruits of their lives. May God open our eyes and hearts to know the truth and follow it.

(You might wonder who I think I am by writing this stuff. Me too. I am nobody. I just write what my heart is full of.)

A List of Names.

Vietnam Memorial, photo by Noel Sheffer.

I was listening to a podcast this morning called, “Pray the Word with David Platt.”  He spoke on this verse of the Bible:

Nehemiah 11:12

“…and their brothers who did the work of the house, 822; and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, son of Pelaliah, son of Amzi, son of Zechariah, son of Pashhur, son of Malchijah…”

The house spoken of in the verse is the House of the Lord, the temple. It needed to be repaired or rebuilt. The Babylonians had destroyed it.

Mr. Platt said it seems like this is a Bible verse that could not help anyone – a list of names – but this is what he said he got out of it.

We count. Our names mean something to God. What we do means something to God.

I remember Jesus saying to his disciples, “Don’t rejoice the evil spirits obey you; but rejoice your name is written in heaven.”

It’s a pretty big deal our names are written in the Book of Life. It is much more important than if we can cast out demons like Jesus did.

I loved what Mr. Platt said about us and our names, he said, “You are part of a great picture that spans centuries.” Yes, as each generation comes and goes, those who believe are a part of those who build up the kingdom of God.

Learning to Play Elder Scrolls at 69.

It’s 10:00 pm and after months of binge watching, Father Brown, Midsomer Murders, Call the Midwife, and Sherlock, I’ve had to find a new series for my mother to watch. She has short-term memory problems so I had the Father Brown series on about 10 times until it moved into her long-term memory. She finally said the words, “I remember this one.” I should probably tell a researcher on the elderly about that.


While she watches I, clean, cook, paint, do some woodwork, listen to podcasts, and play Elder Scrolls. I’m 69 years old and I just learned the joy of this kind of game. I don’t even know the right name for this kind of game. Multi-player is part of it. Maybe role-playing.

My sister from Washington State introduced me to games. She wanted to do something with me since we live far apart. We started with Portal Knights, moved on to Minecraft and then landed on Elder Scrolls Online.


We played the first two games for awhile, but my sister’s wi-fi at her trailer park is quite weak. She got a booster, but still got thrown out of the game time after time, or she would appear with a head and no body, so we had to stop playing those. She said she tried for hours to find us another game but couldn’t find one the two of us could play together. She prayed and God told her, “Elder Scrolls.” She said, “Really!? Okay.” So that’s how we began. ( She’s not crazy; we both think God talks to us.)

It quickly became clear I was very bad at this game. Elder Scrolls loves to keep players in the dark about their rules and how to play the game. Or, if you look at it another way, they have so many pages of tiny writing your eyes start aching and your brain hurting. I can’t read much on the computer anyway, and I’m glad the game doesn’t seem to bother my eyes after we eliminated the blue light. My sister tried to help me, but it was painful for both of us. Her wi-fi also hated Elder Scrolls, so we gave up.
We gave up trying to play together, but I was determined to keep playing myself. There was this one thing I loved about the game: travel and scenery.


I’ve always loved to travel and in Elder Scrolls there are all these islands you can go to. The scenery and architecture of the buildings is different in each place. My favorite part of the game is walking through the woods finding stuff I need in order to make things like weapons, clothing and food. It is lovely and soothing until a white tiger sneaks up from behind, swipes your back and calls all his friends to finish you off.


I’m a wood elf. My sister said that is the best person to be because she likes to stand back and shoot people. But that wasn’t the weapon they gave me at the beginning. They gave her a bow and arrow but gave me a staff that shoots out fire! Oh yeah, I fell in love with it. It worked very well in a fight. Then I saw a different player with a fire staff who banged hers on the ground and the ground became electric, zapping people. Wow! How could I get that!? I got it now, baby.

Honestly, I never thought I would like a game like this, but I think I know why I do. After you finish a quest, after you save some lives, after you kill the bad guys, you feel great. You feel like you have really accomplished something good. After I saved the Queen’s life, people in the different cities said, “Are you the one who saved the Queen?” “Why yes I am.”


You know, I’m glad I can take care of my 92-year-old mom. But do I feel excited, elated and proud of myself like I do in Elder Scrolls? No! That thought does give me pause. I’m not sure what to make of it. What I do know is that I have something exciting to do again and that makes me happy.

So, my mom and I are growing old together, happy as if in our right mind. And one thing is really handy about this time of our lives. In the last five years I’ve become agoraphobic and rarely leave the apartment. My mom is weak and tired and doesn’t want to go anywhere. I mean, how great is that? God works in mysterious ways. But I guess it wasn’t a mystery to him that I would love Elder Scrolls.

God Surrounds Us.

I haven’t written lately. My mother had a few minor heart attacks and was in the hospital overnight. They sent us home with some pills and nitroglycerine spray, which is working very well. I’m glad she is still with us at 92 years old.

 In the third chapter of Joshua, the people of Israel are prepared to go into the promised land and take it. The Jordan River flows between them and Jericho. God tells Joshua to have the priests take the Ark of the Covenant to the river. They were to go ahead of the people with the ark and stop in the middle. Then the people could pass over. The river stopped flowing the moment the priest’s feet hit the water.

I thought about how God promises to go before us. “It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

My granddaughter just finished taking a college course on office work. She has been doing very well and is now in her practicum at the college itself. She loves the people there along with her desk space which has a lovely view out the windows. She would like to get a job there but there are no openings right now. She is concerned about getting a job. One reason I love God is that he says, “Don’t worry about anything.” I’m not worried for her because I know God has gone before her and she will get a job.

A job is a need, and he promises to supply all our needs. Many times he doesn’t do this swiftly. Many times he does. However long he takes, we can ask him to make us patient and to learn how to trust him in the waiting.

In Isaiah chapter 58, God tells us that if we are good to our neighbors and help the poor he will be our rearguard. The rearguard is a detachment of soldiers protecting the army as it marches ahead into battle. Yes, that is God. Isaiah 58:8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

God also promises to be beside us. “For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 41:18

Finally, God promises to surround us. Psalm 3:3 But you, O LORD, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.

Treasury of David: Bible Hub. “Here David avows his confidence in God. “Thou, O Lord, art a shield for me.” The word in the original signifies more than a shield; it means a buckler round about, a protection which shall surround a man entirely, a shield above, beneath, around, without and within. Oh, what a shield is God for his people! He wards off the fiery darts of Satan from beneath, and the storms of trials from above, while, at the same instant, he speaks peace to the tempest within the breast.”

It is good to meditate on these words. We can picture Jesus in front of us, beside us, behind us and then realize he is all around us. When I think hard about the fact that the God of the universe, a being that powerful and amazing, walks with me through life, I stand in awe and I am filled with gratitude.