Category Archives: empathy

Lost friendship

A Scenario…

A true friend indeed. One you have known from childhood. Then came the day when your friendship was tested. It was too painful for him to remain loyal to you.

In his own eyes – he would have suffered much loss while attempting to be true to you and your friendship.

Nevertheless you expect him to be true. And now you are devastated that you separated, and your friendship was split apart.

You couldn’t agree. You couldn’t forgive his actions. You can’t continue to argue to no avail. He did what he did. He did what he reckoned he just had to do.

Such is the human drama – the storyline differing from scenario to scenario, but the emotional conflict the same.

Write your own story to the tune of these words.

The script consists of – friendship – longstanding, conflict, disagreement, damage, hurt, separation, unforgiveness, and loss.

Human weakness that couldn’t handle the challenge of remaining true, couldn’t take the resultant disadvantage to the self, couldn’t embrace the ‘friends at all costs’ ethos.

The ability to disagree and lose the unity of friendship is common to man.

The sombre notes of dissension set in. On and on go the wrangling words trying to solve the situation.

The bickering eventually only stopping by separation and a long distance put between the persons involved.

It all comes from a nature man is born with. But many – don’t even accept this concept.

James 4/

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war…

The wars come from our desires, the old word is lust, – an uptight defensive, verbal hitting out at others – that catches alight – further, to sometimes awful consequences resulting in physical violence.

How is man capable of such friendship-destroying episodes?

He is  capable because it comes naturally.

These words I found in a Christian song, by DC Talk:—

Tell me what’s going on inside of me – I despise my own behaviour –This only serves to confirm my suspicions –That I’m still a man in need of a Saviour

I could end the post here.

But before I do (having highlighted the problem) – the closing statements are –

God is not the author of confusion. It is Christ’s desire that all believers in Him as the Son of God – be one in Spirit – one in The Lord.

If there must be a parting of the ways – then forgiveness must be that choice of the will, and from thenceforth no abiding return is to be made to the former hurt and disagreement.

And when the person or persons find themselves re-visiting the hurts – they/we must consign these thoughts to the cross by faith.

Ideally all should reconcile as Christian brothers and sisters. But unfortunately the floor of the church is littered with broken relationships, and we can’t pretend differently.

We can only exhort each other to reconcile in humility, laying aside the right to be right.

Finding, and returning to what we all hold dearly, holding The Head from which all the body is supplied and knit in love.

If the other party(ies) won’t come with you to the foot of the cross again. Then you/we must keep our own hearts in the choice of forgiveness.

(see Colossian 2/19)

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Religion

Religion

You have heard the saying to ‘squeeze the life out of something’.

This is what religion does.

Of course in order to sound plausible I need to start by defining ‘religion’.

My plausibility is not the type that involves deception, by the way.

‘Religion’ is a term used – in Christian churches that have experienced the life-giving power of Christ, – to highlight the opposite-experience. 

Another word that is used is ‘Legalism’, when describing the opposite to ‘joy unspeakable and full of Glory’.

The Pharisees are usually offered as examples of this negative use of the word ‘Religion’.

They were caught up in the outward appearance of things, they added to the Word of God, with man-made concepts, rules and regulations.

They majored on the minors and minored on the majors.

Jesus speaking of the Pharisees said:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

Until Jesus completed God’s revelation to man communicating it in His New Covenant – the law stood it’s ground, as it were, as given in the Old Testament.

Jesus didn’t destroy the law – He fulfilled it.

Forgive my analogy but for me (as an artist/painter) I see the Old Testament Law and its demands as the drawing before the colour was added.

I know – not the soundest of analogies.

But Christ came to give us Life and Life more abundant. Whereas many Christians are like the Pharisees who wish to bind folks with heavy burdens.

One gentleman responding to a gospel invitation to become a Christian – was heard to say: ‘No thanks I have enough problems of my own..!’

You see all he heard was an invitation to ‘religious rules’ and a lack-lustre life of asceticism.

Jesus puts it this way, illustrating lifeless drudgery –

For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

God has His laws – but they are the laws of liberty!’

James 1/25

But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it…

Not religious servitude to a hard taskmaster. But words of life to guide us in our behaviour.

Speaking of the liberty offered to everyone who will believe – God says:

II Corinthians 3/

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

The Holy Spirit is the life-giver and He then feeds us spiritually with His word/law.

None of this makes sense until we meet Him.

But the purpose of this post is to say that ‘religion’ in the negative sense, in the sense that I have just described, and alluded to, will neither satisfy you or set you free from the influence of sin.

Only a living relationship with the Living God will do that.

There is a proper use of the word religion in James 1/27 (If you care to have a look).

As I write this it crosses my mind that I may well have written on this before? Well, I shall do so again.

But it is extremely important that we are not deceived into a Pseudo-version of Christianity.

As you enter the New Year – please search for the real thing!

Storm steadying voice

STORM STEADYING VOICE

Matthew 8/

23 Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. 24 And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. 25 Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

26 But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 So the men marvelled, saying,“Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

In these days there is need, like never before for a steady voice.

By a ‘steady’ voice I mean the kind of voice that expresses a steady heart-and-hand in steering the ship through the narrow gap between rocky waters, without making shipwreck.

The only steady hand we can completely trust and rely on is the hand of God. The hand of Jesus in the boat – to rest His way through the storm.

The storm is only something that can drown or kill in the natural world. But the natural wind and sea obey Him.

So for Him there is no stormy-sea problem in your natural emotion He cannot calm.

But for us no one can boast of the storms of life being ‘water off a duck’s back’ – far from it, we are prone to panic, to discouragement, and to becoming overwhelmed, just like the early disciples.

We are just made that way. The lower nature has made us that way. The storms of life provoke all kinds of reactions. Born out of fear and panic and hurt.

So as we look for a man to steady the ship and to show us the way – we cannot find one.

No man except the one of whom it was said – ‘no man ever spoke like this man…’. The man Christ Jesus. (John 7/46).

There are mature strong leaders in the church. Proven men of calibre, who have weathered many storms and having done-all-to-stand – are still standing.

But many have fallen under the storm of temptation, or failure, or persecution, or pleasure.

No one can set the sinless example that alone will give us complete confidence in them.

The preachers too need to hear the sermon.

The preacher delivering God’s message, must in turn listen to God.

The congregation need to honour  the message, if it is in line with the words of the Son of God.

Taking the bible-based words as a word from God, and not from man.

As we honour the preacher so we must honour his audience.

But we must reserve our worship for God alone, and not for His servants, because His servants are encompassed with infirmity, like all humans. (Hebrews 5/2)

We might say that anyone with ‘half a brain’ can see the increase of chaos and darkness on the face of the earth, working through man’s nature.

As soon as someone stands for the ways of Christ – they seek to discredit him and look for ways in which to catch him out – and brand him a fake, because he preaches Christ. Just like they did to the King of Kings Himself.

…And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. (Mark 12//13)

Pray for ‘Great Grace’ in these days – the church needs it!

And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. (Acts 4/32)

Vulnerable with whom?

VULNERABLE WITH WHOM?

We can talk about what is happening in society. We can talk about what is happening in the world.

But what, (perhaps needless to say), is happening inside us, is what we are most familiar with.

Being self-conscious human beings, means – our self-awareness leads us to personal concerns – first.

Everyone’s aspirations differ, I guess with some overlapping, but never quite the same.

Our mind is pre-preoccupied with the body we live in. First-things-first is usually subjective.

We are fragile flesh. Prone to the same highs and lows.

Body, soul and spirit beings.

Inescapably we succumb to self-interest first, punctuated by a few sacrifices we may have made for others along the way, in order to change our self-oriented daily narrative.

Christians or non-Christians, acts of charity, and good deeds-done are common to all.

Some have been more sacrificial than others, in their service to their fellow man.

I am way down the pecking order when it comes to good deeds done, to the benefit of my fellow man. 

I can only hope that my service of ‘words’ has helped others to some small degree, along the way.

But mankind is housed in flesh, and we all have this earthly tent in common. We live in these corruptible bodies, with all our mutual limitations.

We are prone, as is said of Elijah: ‘to like passions.’

James 5/17: Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months

Despite these ‘like passions’ common to us all – Elijah (Elias) was a spiritual man, able to pray and receive answers.

Many believe in vulnerability. Many believe they should share their weaknesses openly with all who will listen.

This they usually conclude is being real. We should be free to share our innermost weaknesses and needs, they believe, to authenticate our genuineness.

Others consider this to be airing their dirty linen in public.

 Dictionary –  To discuss very private, personal matters, especially that which may be embarrassing, in public or with other people.

When we share such private thoughts, we leave ourselves open to ridicule or unfair judgment from others.

It establishes in their minds a certain outlook towards us.

Even if we grow, and overcome those inner weaknesses, it may well be, they remain convinced, that we have not, indeed, overcome.

And should we fall yet again into negative behaviour of whatever kind, they affirm to themselves that indeed, we have not moved on.

Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is not the whole answer to finding help. We need to ask “with whom can I, or should I, be vulnerably open?”

Those who are at all familiar with this blog, and this season of Christian-perspective posts, will not be surprised in the least at my next exhortation:

Vulnerability, that is – being vulnerable and therefore usually confessional  – in an acceptable manner is firstly vertical, before it is horizontal.

Prayer to Christ Jesus the one who is seated at the right hand of God the Father, in an unimaginable way, and who ever lives to represent those who want Him as their saviour and advocate, is the vertical friendship that I am referring to.

Proverbs 18/24

A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Christ Jesus is that friend that sticks closer than a human being/brother, if He is invited into our lives.

He is never surprised at your vulnerability, nor ignorant of your attempts to be and do what is right. He is compassionate and understanding, willing to forgive when you fail, and willing to comfort the downhearted in His presence, where there is fullness of joy.

Be – as vulnerable as you want to be – with Him. Tell Him honestly what you think of yourself. Share with Him your most intimate thoughts.

Having done this – you can then move from vertical communion with Christ to the horizontal, in finding a real, true human friend, to open your heart to.

This is not always an easy task. But don’t give up, there are still some genuine, ethically sound, sincere counsellors who will keep confidence, and lend a helping hand.

You know I’m going to add – Christian ones.

Despite the onslaught of failure amongst people in positions of trust, and despite the hypocritical representation of religion, there are still those who are salt and light.

Men and women dealing with the same weaknesses Elijah, and you and I, contend with, both in ourselves and our fellow human beings.

Like Elijah the prophet – we can still pray and get results, especially in areas of subjectivity.

To finish – I must bind myself to the first part of the verse quoted above:

Proverbs 

A man who has friends must himself be friendly…

I raise my glass of coke –

“Here’s to your friendship”

Freedom

FREEDOM

The word – freedom – can mean different things to different people.

There are Pharisaical religious bondages that many need to be freed from.

Hostages know all about the joy of freedom when eventually they are rescued.

To be able to visit your place of worship freely without restriction is another appreciated liberty.

Freedom of speech is championed by many.

The lines of a chorus come to mind – “Are you free!?” “Have you got the victory?”

Succinctly that’s what freedom consists of – victory.

Free from an addiction, free from oppressive bullies, free from a restrictive governmental regime, or on a lighter note – Free from having to pay to park. Free from nuisance phone calls.

I have read that in some countries such as the USA an ornamental key – the key to the city is presented to esteemed visitors, residents, or others whom the city wishes to honour. This is a variation on the freedom of the city tradition.

But true freedom is not – being allowed to do exactly as we wish, especially at the expense of others. So freedom, must also include, having rules.

The imposition of one persons will on another is generally interpreted as oppressive, and robbing them of their freedom. It certainly can be.

But the imposition of a long-suffering and tolerant Saviour-God’s will upon mankind, if we would only wake up to it, is the imposition of a rule of love that brings mankind to the best possible place he could be in.

The Lord Jesus Christ wants to ellicit our willing response out of the freedom of choice that we have. He wants us to honour the rules of His kingdom, the kingdom of God.

True freedom is the ability to do what is right.

Jesus is willing to give that freedom, that liberty, that ability to walk with Him, and so overcome all that this present world contributes in binding us to the tyranny of sin.

But there must be a strong desire to escape to spiritual freedom.

Paul the Apostle says: Wretched and miserable man that I am! Who will [rescue me and] set me free from this body of death [this corrupt, mortal existence]?

He goes on to affirm the way of freedom:

Thanks be to God [for my deliverance] through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

We have all seen the movie scenes where there is an exchange of the kidnapped for the ransom, and it usually involves a walk of some kind, from one place to another, from the oppressors into the arms of a loved one.

Jesus has paid the ransom, now a walk must take place from the bondage and imprisonment of sin – to Him. 

Seems only appropriate, as you or I consider our imprisonment of whatever kind – for me to ask have we begun our walk to freedom in Christ?

Some bible verses without the references – 

So if the Son makes you free, then you are unquestionably free.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Healed from a distance…

Healed from a distance.

Mark 7:25-27 Amplified Bible (AMP)

27 He was saying to her, “First let the children [of Israel] be fed, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the pet dogs (non-Jews).” 28 But she replied, “Yes, Lord, but even the pet dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 And He said to her, “Because of this answer [reflecting your humility and faith], go [knowing that your request is granted]; the demon has left your daughter [permanently].” 30 And returning to her home, she found the child lying on the couch [relaxed and resting], the demon having gone.

A woman came to Jesus on behalf of her daughter. Who had been taken hold off by a demonic spirit.

The mother was not a Jew.

The Jews were God Almighty’s chosen people.

God – since way back – wanted the Israelites to follow Him like no other nation would, upon the earth.

At certain times they failed to do so, miserably, throughout their history.

But it’s not over yet.

After Jesus – the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world – died on the cross – God turned to the gentiles and offered them salvation through The Lord Jesus Christ, and the Jewish people would need to recognise Jesus as the Messiah if they too were to join God’s sons (children) – 

Romans 8/14 –

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

The Syrophenician woman was a gentile, but not able yet to avail herself of Christ’s full salvation.

History had still to take it’s course, before Jesus would die for the sins of the world.

Jesus would die to answer the correct demand of justice, and at the same time release God’s offer of forgiveness to a lost and dying world.

So she could not avail herself of the perfect salvation God was in the process of accomplishing through His Son on the cross.

But she did get her request answered.

Interesting, that in her case, because of her chronic need should there have been on her part – any ‘race-snobbery’, or anti-semitism, it was dispensed with.

Need, as they say – is a great leveller.

She just knew this was no ordinary man, and all else must be set aside if she was to avail herself of what she intuitively knew Christ could offer.

Her daughter, received no direct encounter with Christ. She was not present when her mother interceded on her behalf.

But rather – the power or God hit her and she was set free, even though no doubt miles away.

No laying on of hands, no application of clay, no instructions to go to the local priest, no outward sign of Christ’s involvement. 

Just His spoken word(s) in response to her need and her mother’s spoken request mixed with faith, on her behalf.

We can be far from persons in need. Jesus is no longer in the flesh on the earth. Yet the power of God can be released to those who make their requests known unto God, on behalf of others.

The Holy Spirit is a very present help in times of trouble.

Psalm 46/1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.