Compassion

I awoke this morning in awe at how the Lord is changing things in my heart.

A few decades ago, I had to ask the Lord for compassion. If He wanted me to be a pastor, then there was no way I could function with the hardness of heart I exhibited toward people. I operated from the standpoint of, “You made your bed. Now you have to lie in it.”

It broke my heart that my heart was in such condition.

Over the years that followed, I have seen the Lord’s work of grace in my heart, as compassion has been developed. It is not something that I have done, but a work of grace within me.

This past decade, He has been teaching me the difference between human and divine compassion–a lesson not easily learned. (I’ll not discuss the distinctions of each here. Maybe later.)

I’ve grown to have compassion on those whom I love, and those with whom I am related in business or socially.

But, this morning, I awoke with a burden on my heart for those I only know through the blogosphere. I’ve never met them. I do not know the sound of their voice.

I only know that they are hurting–and I was hurt by their pain.

For that I am grateful.

One is caught in the aftermath of an ice storm and has no power.

One has had his income severely curtailed and has to relocate.

One has a new job that changes the way things were done at home, and mutual support is now challenging.

One is dealing with marital betrayal.

One is dealing with a son who is having tremendous difficulty.

I awoke praying intensely for each of these–my friends whom I have never met–in a way that I’ve never prayed even for those oft-repeated ‘prayer requests’ for sickness and pain within the local assembly.

It is a new day for me. And I am thankful for the new work of the Holy Spirit in my life.

Gracie’s Quest

When I first began this blog, I had Gracie sign on as an author. I knew that she had things to say that would be a blessing to the Body of Christ.

Her first article, “Learning to Speak the Word” is still the most viewed post on this blog. It is read by someone almost everyday, according to my stats page.

When we share in the mornings after our individual time in  the Word, her insights into a passage are always an inspiration to me. I just don’t see the way she sees. I love hearing what she gets from the Lord.

She often sees what is not written, and that helps my understanding of a particular passage, adding color for this otherwise “Dr. Dry-As-Dust” teacher.

However, her contributions were too few and far between.

As she has been going through her healing from a traumatic past, I have encouraged her to write publicly about her process, with no success. Then the Noreaster put out a call for Storm Stories. I pressured Gracie to join in, and, thankfully she gave in.

Writing her story gave her the impetus to write even more.

I had hinted more than once that she should have her own blog so that she could post at any time the mood struck. (I didn’t like her being under my shadow. She has her own light that needs to shine for all to see.)

I must be getting better at being an encourager, because she has given in to this request also. (Might be ’cause she loves me 🙂 )

Gracie has started her own blog called Gracie’s Quest.

I look forward to how the Lord will use this new addition to the blogosphere.

Our virtual community is growing.

Give her a visit and share the love.

Chained, but NOT Bound

Philippians 1:12-14

Phl 1:12  

I want you to know, brothers,[fn4] that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel,

Phl 1:13  

so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard[fn5] and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.

Phl 1:14  

And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word[fn6] without fear.

 

What happened to Paul had to be terrifying to the natural man; but, apparently, Paul had learned how to rise above the dictates of his flesh.

This holds for me a powerful example of what it means to keep my eyes on Jesus, not looking at nor considering the circumstances.

“Hey! How ya doin’,” the pastor greeted his friend.
“Fine…under the circumstances,” the friend replied.
The pastor retorted, “What are you doing under there?”

The humor in that setup continually reminds me to maintain my focus. Sometimes, the situation becomes heavier than others, and I falter. But, what I have discovered as I pray about my failure, is that the situation became heavier when I began to consider it. Therefore, I am still looking for the secret to not give in to the temptation to consider, worry, fret, question, or whatever my circumstances.

I am learning to commit my way to the Lord on a daily basis. I am learning to commit my thoughts. I am still learning what all that means and how it is carried out on a daily, moment-by-moment basis.

Paul found himself chained, his freedom to move about openly hindered. Yet, it in no way took away from his commission to preach the gospel.

Rather than be frustrated about his plans to travel, he just relaxed in the Lord and continued to do what he had always done–preach Jesus.

It is when I begin to focus on my plans for the kingdom and then see how they are not working out that I become frustrated. A lack of money can do it. A lack of a place to meet can do it. A cross word from a loved one can do it.

But, as we work our way through this study, I will eventually see why Paul was able to say, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”

Maybe I will be further along in my journey by then, and will have a more encouraging note to write.

NOTE: There is an ongoing study of the epistle to the Philippians. It is a verse-by-verse study by all who participate.
Won’t you join us?