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Posts Tagged ‘mercy’

God’s Mercy


Sometimes we don’t realize the depths of God’s mercy and kindness.

Tonight I’m a little more aware.

This afternoon I was in my office trying to read (and listen to U2) while Amie and the kids were downstairs. This morning the girls begged to leave their Barbie stuff on our new, expanded porch (evidence of God’s kindness to us). So all 4 kids were playing out there.

While they were out there, Jadon noticed we had a visitor.

That visitor was among the Barbie stuff she was about to reach for. That visitor was a rattlesnake!

She screeched and left the porch screaming “snake” and ran upstairs to get me.

Amie, not yet realizing where the snake was, got the kids off the porch.

The snake was 3-4 feet from the porch door. They had walked right past it when they went out to play, and right past it when they came in.

When I came downstairs, the snake was curled up and chilling out as you see in the picture.  For the life of me, I don’t know how this happened.

Not the how it got there part, but why it was just laying low.

Now, I have never been this up close and personal with a rattlesnake before. Oh, there was a tiny one by the church one day. This one required a little more distance.

After taking the picture from the safety of the kitchen, I opened the door. There was a broom up against the wall, so I decided to play shuffleboard with the rattler. Shuffled it right off the porch. Shuffled it again in the dirt.

Now it was unhappy, coiled and ready to strike. Amie and the kids were freaking out. It wasn’t getting the hint, though.

I decided to try the hose to drive it further away.  It kept trying to get closer, not slither away. Idiotic snake!

I threw rocks at it. Apparently I was too close and just couldn’t hit the stupid thing. It wasn’t backing down, and neither was I. If only the flat shovel had the long handle I’d decapitate the hissing, rattling predator in my backyard. I was wishing I had a shotgun to blow it into oblivion.

While this was going on Amie called the fire department. That is what you do here, for some reason. They don’t want you to kill the snakes, as if there is some kind of shortage of them. This year we’ve seen 2-3 run over in our neighborhood. More than in the first 2 years combined.

The fire department was there fairly quickly. Thankfully they didn’t have more important work to do.They said the rattlesnake business was quite slow this year, until the rains actually came. Now they are busy. I walked them into the back yard and one guy picked it up with one of those things old people use to get stuff off the ground. He put it into a metal box with a glass wall, and they locked it up. Good-bye visitor. Don’t come back!

Tonight I’m just amazed that none of my kids were hurt. Scared, yes. But none were bit. And I’m thankful for God’s mercy and goodness to us today.

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In a letter discussing his new Bible Study on Ruth, Paul Miller talks about “love with no exit strategy.”  That phrase is striking.  God has no exit strategy in His love for those He adopts in Christ.  He perseveres through all our rebellion, fear, lack of trust, manipulation and tantrums.  He’s in it for the long haul.

Adoption has to be like that too.  You can’t have an exit strategy, but willing to do whatever is necessary before and after the child comes home.  Just like when the child is coming from your (or your wife’s) womb.  You’re committed even though there will days when you want to be committed (to an institution).  You’ll love your kids and you’ll hate them at moments.

Amie sent me a link to someone else’s blog about their adoptions.  This summer they adopted a boy and a girl from Ethiopia.  Their newly adopted kids are older than our newest little guy will be.  We might face similar struggles with our newest little girl.  Here’s a glimpse:

Remy gave us about 12 hours of honeymooning until her terror burst onto the scene. Sometimes her fear is so palpable, it literally takes my breath away. New places: terror. New faces: total insecurity. Transitions: help us, Jesus. She has asked us every single day since July 22nd if she is going back to Ethiopia. Every. Single. Day.

(more…)

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I’m reading through Zechariah these days.  In chapter 7 some of the people send representatives to Zechariah to hear from God about a particular issue.  Ever since the destruction of Jerusalem, and the exile, the people have celebrated a fast.  Now that they are back in the land, they want to know if they should continue this fast on the anniversary.  It would be like us wondering if there should be a commemorative fasts on 9/11.

God’s response was- you’re missing the boat.  Their fast had nothing to do with seeking God.  It was home, not God, that they missed.  They had not learned their lesson, for this was the same message proclaimed long ago by prophets like Isaiah (see chapter 58 in particular).  Now here is my point-

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: Judge fairly and honestly, and show mercy and kindness to one another.  Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and poor people.  And do not make evil plans to harm each other.” (NLT)

Note the parallelism.  To judge fairly and show mercy & kindness are the opposite of oppressing others.  As a result, the one another includes the widows, orphans, foreigners and the poor- those most likely to be oppressed since they had no means of resisting evil.

We fool ourselves if we think we’re obeying God as long as we aren’t oppressing widows, orphans, foreigners and the poor.  God’s will for us is to show them mercy and kindness as well.  This is part of righteous living, part of bestowing righteousness on them.

Adoption is one way to show kindness and mercy to orphans.  It is a way in which our faith is expressed in love toward God and others (which in Galatians 5:6 is the only thing that matters).  It moves us out of a self-centered quasi- or counterfeit faith.  Or better put, reveals we have genuine saving faith- the kind that results in obedience (James 2, Ephesians 2:10).

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I started reading Generous Justice by Tim Keller today.  While the book is not about adoption and orphan care, it certainly has some great implications for them.

He starts with talking about Micah 6:8, that we walk humbly before God by acting justly and loving mercy.  They are connected, not separate.

“In Micah 6:8, “misphat puts the emphasis on the action, chesedh puts it on the attitude [or motive] behind the action.”  To walk with God, then, we must do justice, out of merciful love.”

In other words, because we love mercy we act justly.  As Christians, we have received mercy (and Jesus received the retributive justice we deserved).  As the gospel transforms us, Jesus makes us people who are merciful (Mt. 5) and pursue the rights of others.

“Over and over again, misphat describes taking up the care and cause of widows, orphans, immigrants, and the poor- those who have been called “the quartet of the vulnerable.””

He quotes a number of passages which use justice to describe how we are to treat those who are often defenseless.  Among those are Zechariah 7:10-11, Deuteronomy 27:19, Jeremiah 22:3 and Deuteronomy 4:6-8.

“If believers in God don’t honor the cries and claims of the poor, we don’t honor him, whatever we profess, because we hide his beauty from the eyes of the world.”

In other words, God’s people are supposed to manifest his beauty and glory as we care for such people in great need.  The church, and individual Christians, should want to glorify God by, in part, caring for orphans.  Adoption glorifies God precisely because it is just, in addition to merciful.

Keller makes the argument (which I agree with) that to not do such things is in fact unjust.  We are unrighteous when we close our ears to their cries, and our wallets to their legitimate needs.  Adoption is one way to respond to their cries, and meet the need of orphans for parents to protect and provide for them.  Are you listening?

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