Category Archives: empathy

No violence

No violence 

‘Over and out!’ he shouted down the phone

‘Over and out?’ I asked – reasons for – unknown

‘Yes we always part that way,’ he said

‘Leftover from back in the day’

 

He was talking to an old school friend

The one who used to drive him round the bend

Marvellous what the years can change

When we mature and rearrange

Our thinking – on things once in concrete

We learn life is not so black and white

Things that before we held in a tight grip

We can now studiously allow to slip

And though we hold our principles fast

We embrace differences – so friendships will last

So into the air I say:

Agree to differ – and from all violence turn away

Response?

RESPONSE?

I guess whether Christian or non-Christian – when it comes to writing articles, making comments, writing a post, or preaching a sermon, it is stating the obvious to say that we want to think, that what we have spoken or communicated in whatever form – is relevant.

Think of the thousands who put fingers to keys in blogging format to get heard/responded to.

We quite like the idea of others being affected by what we say, – do we not?

Eliciting either affirmation, wonder, admiration, pleasant surprise, thanks, agreement et al.

All responses we, (unconsciously perhaps?), seek for, when communicating.

You write a post on some pop star – and it adds another ten people to the ‘fan club’/followers, or they love the song you have posted, and look for more of same.

Political movements seek to harvest followers for their cause or politician.

And of course, those running a business are delighted when you respond by ordering their product.

Posting – speaking – communicating – blogging – vlogging – whatever involves visual or verbal communication has usually some goal in mind.

And we sit back in our chairs satisfied, when positive response is received.

It’s a basic human instinct or need to be appreciated.

When the negative response comes along, we of course don’t like it. And either ignore it – or enter into verbal fisticuffs with the perpetrator.

(Which usually is non-profitable and a waste of time. The exception proves the rule when both parties learn something)

Now normally this introduction of mine would have some such above mentioned goal in mind, i.e. eliciting response of some kind, as I lead us to some salient point.

That is – it would seek to get your affirmation or  positive response, followed by actions you might take – as you – whatever…

Join the club or buy the product or change your life.

But guess what? – that’s it. I simply want to point out we are all looking for response.

So when I talk to God – I am looking for response. I send my words to Him in prayer, and at times am more conscious of His response than others.

I guess you didn’t expect this to end up on the subject of prayer?

Again – guess what? – neither did I…

[No response to this Post – called for, or is there?]

Not getting through

NOT GETTING THROUGH

Now there ain’t much extra I can say

Cause I’ve been talking since the beginning of May

You’re a mystery and I can’t catch the full picture anyway

At least that’s – what I now feel to say

 

The other full picture is far far away beyond the clouds

The clouds of more than night and day

And as I mystically stand to pray

You are out the door – hurriedly on your way

 

And when we meet up again you don’t engage

When I speak – you say:

 “I don’t wish to know that – kindly leave the stage”

I’m – taken aback by your coldness – I feel under siege

 

You want to say destructive things

While a posy of peace is what I bring

You don’t hear a word of my attempt to assuage

The anger you are dishing out like some kind of plague

 

Your human heart is seized-up and bound

All packed together and hard as the dusty ground

To disentangle the fishing line – best to start in your prime

All confused and fussed-up and breaking down

 

Try to get some help as you let out another yelp

And I dash for your shoulders to keep you on your feet

I knew there was a purpose in my words as we meet

Eventually you have to listen –

you think my spoken words are deep

 

At least we have become half-friends

We might never meet again

I give you a piece of paper with some kind of message

Plus my address – email – telephone –

but still you won’t let me – meet your need

 

I put my arm around you one more time

Look you in the eye and see everything’s still not fine

You half heard all I had to say

There’s love waiting when you get back

I hope you find peace and get on the right spiritual track

Desire

DESIRE 

Matthew 14/

But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.

Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.

And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger.

(also Mark 6)

As I continue my clear-out/re-appraisal of all things on paper.😎

I came across a sermon of mine entitled – DESIRE.

I have not looked at what I have written.

Desire – have you any thoughts on the subject?

Desire – common to humankind.

The King James uses the word ‘lust’. The dictionary defines this as:-

noun [mass noun]

strong sexual desire: he knew that his lust for her had returned.

[in singular] a passionate desire for something: a lust for power.

  • (usually lusts) mainly Theology a sensuous appetite regarded as sinful: lusts of the flesh.

So even the dictionary in directing us to the term, includes theology.

But I’m guessing most folks in the 21st century reserve the word ‘lust’ for strong sexual desire.

So let’s stick to the word desire, good or bad.

We think of King’s sitting triumphantly on their thrones, with their ‘subjects’ doing obeisance. 

Perhaps the king waves his hand for all to be silent. And he offers the pleasing servant whatever he/she (the servant) – desires.

I’m sure this has happened quite a few times in history, with various monarchs.

In Herod’s case – “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half my kingdom.” [see Mark 6]

Offered to a young lady who had pleased his other desires with her dance.

She in turn – lays aside her own desires in her desire to please her mother. (After all – a murder ‘prize’ instead of half the kingdom?!!)

Outcome of these whimsical desires? – A godly upright man is beheaded.

As any man would – John must have wondered if God would deliver him from his imprisonment? Instead of deliverance he was left with a returned greeting from Christ.

Luke 7:21-23 New King James Version (NKJV)

21 And that very hour He (Jesus) cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight.

22 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. 23 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

Many wonder at the loss of the lives of stalwarts, self-denying front-line workers in this pandemic. Laying their lives down in service to others.

I wonder too. God help them all.

The tragedy of lost lives in a Pandemic – into the thousands.

See also below The tragedy of lost lives at the hand of another sinful tyrant called Herod…

At the time of Christ’s birth, Herod, insecure in his position of authority, commanded that all the male children, under a certain age, be put to death:

Matthew 2/

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:

18 

“A voice was heard in Ramah,

Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,

Rachel weeping for her children,

Refusing to be comforted,

Because they are no more.”

For many this Pandemic has brought great loss and great pain.

Today is it true to say – society mourns that bit more for the loss of children than adults? I think so.

Usually because they (children) have their whole lives before them. Herod’s desire was power and pre-eminence.

Amidst this pandemic, we desire all tragedy to end. Many desire their loved-ones to recover.

Amongst God’s desires, is the desire, that mankind would listen to Him.

And that we would return to Him and turn from sin that produces the actions of a man like Herod – to mention only one aspect of the manifestation of rebellion against God and His ways.

What do we desire?

We desire this pandemic to go away. And I pray to that end.

We desire comfort for the loved ones who have lost relatives – for this we pray.

We desire a better world.

But what else does God desire?

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Is love on the way out?

Is love on the way out?

A progressive thing might be

For me to love you and you to love me

But oh – what does this all mean?

For love goes up or down the graph of

Human feeling

Whether agape or eros or phileo or storge 

Loving seems best in every way

While you reach out a hand

Or you are willing to understand

Love triumphs and conquers

Will love leave the earth?

Is it on it’s way?

In these days Phileo decreases 

But The Son responds to our invitation

And releases…

All Staggered to Completion

ALL STAGGERED TO COMPLETION

So here you are looking for hope in all this

Your engine has wound down to a standstill

And your frustrations have burst in steam

from your carburettor

 

Your well-oiled inner mechanism

Has rusted to the tune of your seeping lubricant

I’m adding insult to your injury

By using metaphors to seal your plight

 

You rise –

Hands pressing your head on either side

You can’t abide this anymore

You don’t need a shrink to explore

The inner frustration your life has made for itself

 

You stagger across another floor

Ten times wider than the one’s before

Like a drunken man in an amusement arcade

You press all passing buttons but the jackpot evades

You roll and rock your way past oncoming shoulders

 

Avoiding a punch – you hit the street

Sunlight contrasts in blistering heat

Your eyes on fire and screwed up to meet

A breath of semi-fresh air hanging about

 

This is your lot – all mental and felt

You must find help

You want to help yourself

Another stagger – a stumble – and a fall

– A crawl

Into a corner in the shade

 

This will have to do – to park your doubt

You join the throng of the thoughtful down-and-outs

 

Get to that agency of help

Find that pastoral hand outstretched

There you can moan and shout and yelp

Letting it all spill out – clean clear and without a doubt

Your full inner-self out on the floor

You won’t be needing it anymore

A new self you must find –

One washed and renewed and set on high

 

I speak of no earthly solace

And certainly not one in outer space

I speak of One who gives Amazing Grace

Strength of Humility

STRENGTH of HUMILITY

Now the scribes and the authors have

given us their words

And man exults in their earthly jive

All – holding out hands to affirm –

‘See there it is… and there you have it’

As though they are uncommonly wise,

Rather than servants of corruption

They accompany their ideas with a smile

But the fairy tale queen in disguise

suckered Snow White

And we too by giving too much import

Will die on sinking sand as we bow to their pride

For no man should offer a full

five-star response – if he is wise

Hold in reserve to realise that

man at his best is vanity

And besides, though catering to your need

Man’s solace ends at that place –

where it is engraved on a stone

No man ever spoke like this man –

that’s a different matter

That’s a different kettle of fish,

He spoke the words of spirit and life

He gave the words to end all strife

Peace that passes all understanding

As He stoops low – going to all lengths

With perfection – compassion and with humility

He shows us – He is The Rock of all strength

Questions answered

QUESTIONS ANSWERED

The answers to all the questions a person might have, regarding Christianity, can be found in The Bible.

A lot of questions are answered directly, but if not, then indirectly.

Because of one particular truth, we can have insight into another.

Life is full of questions, especially about the hereafter. The answers are either crystal clear in the Bible, or shrouded in mystery.

Some questions are difficult to answer, others simple.

A lot of us get stumped regarding such hereafter questions, and indeed questions on how to behave and what to believe in – in this life – never mind the one to come.

Then also, people’s spiritual experiences differ from person to person. Differ, either in kind, or in intensity.

Many are either confused or open to everything and anything under the ‘spiritual’ label, going astray in their desperate quest for the right and real thing. The real McCoy as we say.

Some gullible, fall prey to evil disguised as good, attaching themselves to some ‘ulterior motive-type’ cult.

We need to exercise great caution about what we ‘sign up to’ spiritually.

Yet we can close ourselves – out of hand – to anything ‘spiritual’, without due consideration and proper search/research.

Perhaps one of the most common reasons that non-Christian folks do not entertain the gospel message, is because of the failure of it’s adherents.

All sincere Christians who are found confessing Christ as their Saviour, wish that it were true, that they lived as perfectly as others expect them too, because of the profession and confession they are often heard verbalising to others, in the hope that they too might become followers.

Christians with their imperfections and shortcomings, are a hindrance to others believing in Christ. The reasoning of the unbelievers can go something like this:

“You call yourself a Christian, but you are clearly a hypocrite, that doesn’t practice what you preach and yet lay on others…”

In response to this reasoning, we can say that there is sincere failure, and hypocritical failure.

But the whole good news premise of the gospel is that: yes we will fail daily, but we find forgiveness and acceptance through genuine confession of sin.

It is often true that the most difficult person to forgive is oneself.

In a particular incident the very thing that Christ’s audience accused Him of and rejected Him for – was the very thing He did for the wholeness of mankind. (Matthew 9):

When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”

And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!”

But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” And he arose and departed to his house.

So God being willing to forgive was shunned. God in Christ standing before them was unrecognised and rejected.

So the true Christian, very much aware of his own sins, has come to Christ and asked for forgiveness. Christ Jesus is faithful and willing to forgive, regardless of how many times we drop the ball, whether in a major or minor way.

But because we profess to Follow Jesus Christ, – others simply want to reject us because something is missing in our ‘performance’, in their eyes.

We don’t conform exactly to their expectations. We may have idiosyncrasies, not necessarily to do with morality, we may worship in a manner not appealing to them. We may have made a real mistake and are post-forgiveness, but they will never forget it, and hold it against us. They may hear of something in our pre-Christian believing life, and they hold this against us still.

Others pick on minor faults that we still have, to justify themselves in their rejection of Christ and His message.

Christians availing themselves of God’s unmerited favour and finding forgiveness when they fail – and yes sometimes though failing miserably – need to know in whom they have believed. And realise that:

Romans 8:31

[ God’s Everlasting Love ] What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

If God the supreme judge of the universe is willing to forgive us, we can with Paul humbly say:

1 Corinthians 4:2-4 King James Version (KJV)

2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.

4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

There is a time when we must stand in the confidence of sins forgiven and in God’s promises, regardless of what others might think of us or hold against us.

This privilege have those who truly and sincerely give their lives over to the God-man Christ Jesus, who will ever – be lovingly correcting us, but has totally accepted us – when we accept Him as Lord of our lives.

Proverbs 24/16

For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again,

But the wicked stumble in time of disaster and collapse.

 

 

Heaviness

HEAVINESS

We all experience different emotions in an average day. Christians experience also varying degrees of spiritual discernment.

For example, we can sense that God is grieved by our, or other peoples actions.

It’s true also that Christians or non-Christians can be repulsed by various acts of evil, that they find out, have taken place.

We can feel sorry and aggrieved that certain things have happened to friends or loved ones.

Being aggrieved by the actions of others and affronted by their awful behaviour, is both an intellectual and emotional experience.

Intellectually we become aware of the awful facts and process them with the accompanying emotions.

It is true also that we become accustomed to awful news and can become indifferent to it. Usually out of a sense that there is seemingly nothing we can do about the situation – and our sense of human powerlessness can have a numbing effect.

When bad stuff is up close and personal – of course this creates an even more difficult scenario to deal with.

And we have to handle the personal hurt we feel.

Again this is different for the true Christian because there is a spiritual sensing involved that adds to the intellectual and emotional negative experience we may be having.

Paul the apostle tells us of his personal heartfelt – intellectual/emotional/spiritual experience when he says:

Romans 9:1-3 New King James Version (NKJV)

Israel’s Rejection of Christ

9 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,

This was not just being sorrowful over someones situation, condition or experience, but he was also sharing God’s burden. Entering in to sharing God’s heart.

Jesus reveals His burden to us, as the Son of God,  when He gives us insight into His heart of love and concern for His people. On this occasion regarding the Jews blindness to the Messiah:

Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem

41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

He was also speaking prophetically as one who knew the future and their future.

So this was not just the heart of the human Jesus breaking, but the heart of The Son of God also.

That which is coming upon the earth – is increasing the spiritual heaviness, and the spiritual dearth, and Christians are conscious of this, sometimes more than others.

As a response to these negative and spiritually heavy times, we can only set ourselves to endure. Set ourselves to remain faithful to seek our solace in Christ through prayer and worship and fellowship, searching out true believers, and real genuine friends.

Regardless of how many times we are disappointed by the behaviour of others, Christian and non-Christian alike, we must set ourselves to seek first the kingdom of God. Take strength from the many great biblical examples of true men and women of God – the cloud of witnesses who have endured and gone before us into the eternal presence of God.

Hebrews 12:1-3 New King James Version (NKJV)

12 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Human effort

HUMAN EFFORT

As human beings our lives consist of three things:

Things we think, things we say, and things we do.

I don’t know of any others – do you? Things we see, hear and smell – yes.

But these – activate the mind or open the mouth or cause the response of action.

As we look back at our lives – have we thought some good thoughts, said some good things, or carried out some good deeds?

In my self-analysis mode – I’m afraid if it were left to me to judge my ‘performance’ in this, it would be of miniscule achievement. Judging by my perceived standard of ‘good’ that is.

‘Don’t be too hard on yourself.’ I hear that empathetic person say.

No? I’m not being too hard on myself. It’s just that the standard I have in mind I have only seen in one person. And I always fall short of His example. Fall short because I am still trying to give way to Him. I’m still learning how to let His life reign in me.

How much harder must it be for those who have not invited Him to be their friend and mentor.

Most who have glanced at this blog, know of whom I speak.

Here’s what He tells me: 

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

This completeness is achieved by accepting the gift of Himself. Free fellowship in spirit and truth.

I am complete, not because my thoughts, words and deeds satisfy, but because I have believed in the One who satisfies my desire to know His goodness and mercy. They shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in God’s house forever.

(Psalm 23/6)

Remaining Option

REMAINING OPTION

Sometimes we encounter a person who seems totally insensitive, regarding how they treat their fellow human beings.

We could mention – i.e. explore – delve into – the many reasons they have ended up like this in their character and lifestyle.

The challenge when we are on the receiving end of their folly and they treat us unjustly, unfairly, without due consideration of where we are at – is to ask the above person(s), questions in an attempt to find reasons (usually underlying unresolved hurts) why we are receiving their unacceptable attitude and behaviour.

Empathetically responding when we are on the receiving end of their immaturity. This ain’t easy to do – is it?

We, left to our own devices will react and put them right. An angry exchange usually takes place as we unnecessarily defend ourselves in response to their false accusations or attack.

At the same time we must consider the possibility that some folks are hell-bent on not changing. They don’t want help, and don’t perhaps even see the need for it.

From a Christian point of view when they refuse to entertain our helping hand or calm reason – we have one remaining option. 

Pray for them.

Matthew 5:44

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Failure

Failure

I think it is safe to say that every human being suffers from a sense of failure in their life, at some point.

We can say that this is real or imaginary.

Questions get ravelled-up together. Questions such as – what is the purpose of life anyway? Or what have I really done with my life? Why have I not been more successful? Why do I not get invited to the party? Why can I not pass this driving test?

And so on…

Most of these have a sense of failure pending or following.

Not wanting to be boastful/big headed – we can be the first to admit that others seem to excel where we have failed.

But if we are at all logical – then we can add to the mix – ‘well what is success anyway?’

We have raised two or three children who are all doing well, who are solid and not neurotic or dysfunctional, but who perhaps themselves, lead a good home with balanced offspring.

Whereas over here the head of a multi-million pound/dollar conglomerate – a millionaire – well, his children are rebellious and in rehab.

So who has been successful in this scenario?

We learn then that success is comparative.

Truth is, we are all failures. And can still find acceptance in Christ. Who clears the conscience, and loves the unlovely me.

But in these days what is put forward as important and representing real success, has changed. And will go on changing. Not for the better – in it’s abandonment of what is of real value.

The predominant values of the society we live in are the result of the majority-held views. Views that build up in the psyche of the citizens of the place we dwell in. Then there is the world view.

There comes a mental blindness with this. When common decency is replaced with something else, building up to confusion running rampant.

The words of the old classic hymn come to mind:

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand.

I stand appreciating The Victor who took my place on a cross, and who offers the gift of His success and acceptance, making such as I, a king and a priest unto God.

Revelation 1/6

And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.