When we pray things like, “God, break my heart with the things that break yours” or sing things “break my heart with what breaks yours” (I like that song, by the way) it’s easy to focus on things like mercy and grace. And those are good. They are God’s heart.
But there’s another side to his heart. He loves mercy and grace. He’s all about some social justice. But he also loves righteousness – and the earth is full of his love (and his righteousness).
The other side of God’s heart
He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.
(Psalm 33:5 ESV)
If we really want to have God’s heart, we have to learn to love both righteousness and grace. Both justice and mercy. And that love (and the ability to love) is God’s heart expressed, a gift of God to us. And a gift of God to the world, flowing through us.
I struggle to embrace both sides of God’s heart. I struggle to embrace his love of righteousness when I so need his mercy and grace. But I also struggle to share his mercy when I feel I’ve been wronged or misunderstood.
Lord, help me!
In this I can certainly identify with Paul when he says, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24).
This shouldn’t be new news to me. But sometimes I forget. Sometimes I struggle. And the only thing I know to do is rely wholly on God’s grace at work in my life.
I have to trust that if God loved me so much that he gave his son for me (John 3:16) and that he also gave me the Holy Spirit as a down payment or deposit (2 Corinthians 1:22) that he will also be faithful to complete this work in me (Philippians 1:6)
How about you?
How well do you identify with both sides of God’s heart – righteousness as well as grace, justice as well as mercy? And how willing are you to suffer shame to satisfy righteousness so you can extend mercy?
Has life ever thrown you a screwball that turned your life upside down? It’s happened to nearly all of us. Some situation in life takes the wind out of our sails and knocks us back a step or two.
“What do we do when that happens?”
A few weeks ago my daughter tripped over a balloon and broke her leg. Not one of those little “breaks” but the grandmother of all breaks – a femur broken totally in two. We spent a little under a day in the emergency room (I’m not making this up) while the doctors and nurses figured out what to do.
I don’t know about you but I’m not really fond of failure. I’ve had plenty of experience with failure and, though it can teach me things I need to learn, it’s still pretty low on my list of things I’d like to do. So, over the years I’ve noticed when I’m likely to fail and I’ve tried to structure my life so I can avoid it as much as possible.
Now, it’s not possible to completely avoid failure. In fact, it’s probably not even desirable to completely avoid failure because we can learn so much from it. But I also think it’s foolish if we only look to our own failures for learning.
Doesn’t it seem smarter to learn from the failures of others when we can?
If you’ve never considered fasting as a spiritual discipline, I can heartily recommend it. There’s more to a fast than just giving up food and it can yield great results in your life and improve your relationship with God.
I don’t fast a lot. I eat a lot. I think about food almost all the time and sometimes it really takes a significant event to get me to skip even a snack. That’s partly because I like food and partly because I overdid fasting a few years ago.
Rhonda Frazier (Super Science Mom) recommended 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (Amazon link) to me. Well, really, she recommended it to all her closest friends on Facebook. I bought it yesterday for my Kindle (it was $2.99 yesterday, $4.99 today) and I’m already about two chapters into it.
Excess in our Lives
I know, all that detail is probably not all that important to you, but here’s the deal. This book is really kicking my tail. It’s making me think about the way I approach life and how much stuff I have and why I have it. Excessive stuff. It’s making me think about my (sometimes bad) attitude in light of the fact that God has richly blessed me and I’m surrounded but stuff nearly as far as I can see. It’s made me see a little of the excess in my life.
Now, I’ve been working with the idea of a more minimalist life for several months. I’ve subscribed to a few blogs and I’ve known that I have more stuff than I need and that often my love of stuff is stealing my joy. I know that my life is cluttered. Yours probably is too.
The struggle, though, is knowing how to approach it. Sure, there’s a part of me that likes the siren call of Zen minimalism. But I don’t really buy into the Eastern mysticism thing. And, devoid of that, my only foundation is (or was) not being wasteful and trying to make myself happier. Continue reading
Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country. Amen.
There was a time when children in the United States were required to make a declaration of dependence in school. That time has passed and it’s no longer mandated in our public schools but it does not change that we are all dependent entirely on God’s mercy and grace. That we, as citizens of our cities, nations, and the world need his blessing. His blessing for us, for our families, and those in leadership.
Why not take a minute today to remember your dependence on God? And become a living declaration of dependence.
It’s Friday afternoon. By now, many people are off work and headed to wherever they go. But, before you unplug (and I hope you do unplug), take a minute to answer this question:
Have YOU been hanging on for the weekend?
In other words, is your weekly life so bad that you live for the escape of the weekend? Or are you able to live an integrated life where you’re fully engaged in your work and your family, your vocation and your avocations?
Sure, it’s great to look forward to things. I look forward to holidays and vacations. I want to unplug and to spend some quality time with my family. I’ve been known to watch a movie or head out to the park. We need to recharge.
And, no, my life is not all fun and games. Or puppies and rainbows. But it’s a good life and life – this life – is God‘s gift. A precious and valuable gift. A treasure.
So I’m not trying to escape my life. I’m trying to live it.
Are you trying to escape your life?
If so, what are you going to do about it?
Photo credit: Ken’s Oven on Flickr (Creative Commons License)
It’s important to know what’s right. But it’s also important to do what’s right.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.
James 1:22-25 (ESV)
Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.
James 4:17 (ESV)
Sometimes I struggle with this. I know what to do but, because I’m selfish I don’t do what’s right. Or because I’m afraid. But, in any event, I still have room to grow. How about you?
Bless God that there’s still hope!
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
James 4:6-10 (ESV)
Lord, in your mercy continue to work in the lives of your saints – including me – to bring your kingdom to earth. Grant that we might move in righteousness, peace, joy, and hope. That our lives might be marked by your mercy.
Sometimes, especially in Christian circles in the United States, it sounds like we expect God to “miracle up” some success for us. As though he’s a genie in a bottle, who exists to fulfill our every whim. But that’s not what Scripture says and it’s often not our experience, either.
Rather, success requires that you work really hard to become really good at what you do. That’s not to say that relationships and opportunities aren’t important. They are. But you also have to work really hard. That’s just the way it is.