Saturday, July 2, 2011

Living a tenderhearted life

Tenderhearted; Merciful; Grace-giving

Prayer: “It is one of the most difficult things that we, in our own human attitudes, can tackle, with the help of God. In our own callous hearts, our soul’s deepest desires are those we are afraid to relinquish. These are the burdens that the Lord wants. And these are the burdens that we should be praying for with and for one another. That is the tenderheartedness that the Lord seeks. Yet our longing hearts, in our fear of letting go, beg us to give these things to Him. He grieves as we don’t give them to Him. God’s joy comes in the morning, when we give our burdens up to the Lord and learn to love deeply and graciously, as He does with us. Tenderheartedly.”

“The heart is used in Scripture as the most comprehensive term for the authentic person. It is the part of our being where we desire, deliberate, and decide. It has been described as the place of conscious and decisive spiritual activity.” (J. Stowell, Fan the Flame, Moody 1986, p. 13)

2 Kings: 22:18-20

18 But as for the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the
Lord, in this manner you shall speak to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel: “Concerning the words which you have heard— 19 because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become a desolation and a curse, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,” says the Lord. 20 Surely, therefore, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place.” So they brought back word to the king.

This scripture refers to Josiah, King of Judah (2 Chronicles 34:1). Josiah’s heart was SO tender toward his people that when God pronounced judgment over them, he wept and tore his clothes before the Lord. And the Lord heard Josiah. Josiah grieved deeply and personally for the sins of others, the people of Judah. And as he cried out to God in prayer and grief, the Lord heard his prayers and answered them.

In modern-day culture, we would call this emotion empathy. But the Biblical meaning of “tenderhearted” goes beyond our modern-day perception of what empathy is. What do we think of when we hear ‘empathy’. How do we respond in empathy towards one another? Is it simply a thought that runs through our heads? Or do we take action for our brothers and sisters as we sense deeply and carry their burdens on ourselves?

The Hebrew word for “tenderhearted”, eusplagchnos, is found only in the Bible twice.
The Hebrew word, however, does not mean what we think it might mean. Eu means well. Splagchnon means bowel.

This word literally translates as having strong, healthy bowels. The inward organs were considered in those times to be the seat of emotion and intention. The word then means compassionate, easily moved to love, pity, or sorrow. It describes one having tender feelings for another. For example, the phrase “I felt it in the pit of my stomach” is a modern parallel.

Ephesians 4:32
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (NLT)

1 Peter 3:8
“Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.” (NLT)

Other cross-referenced verses:

Peter 1:22
Peter 5:5
Philippians 2:3
Ephesians 4:2
Romans 12:16

So, the Greek word refers to that deep internal caring, comparable to the modern expressions such as “broken-hearted” or “gut-wrenching”. Splagchnon is the strongest Greek word for expressing compassionate love or tender mercy and involves one’s entire being. It describes compassion which moves a person to the very depths of their being. In the Gospels, apart from its use in parables, it is a word used ONLY for Jesus.


I want to be clear, carrying one another’s burdens does not mean that we must feel as if we’re carrying a weight for one another. Jesus himself said “my yoke is easy and my burden is light”. There, also, is how we should be relating to our brothers and sisters, also saved in Christ and reconciled in relationship both vertically and horizontally. What I mean by this is that Christ not only came to reconcile us to himself, but also to one another. As we are all parts of one body, we must also recognize one another’s strengths, talents, faults, and struggles. It is our differences, our strengths and faults that make the body of Christ strong. But if we fail to walk in relationship with the Lord, none of these things matter. This is why we must care for one another by interceding for each other’s burdens.

Being tenderhearted leads to a grace-filled life. This is true not only for other people, but for ourselves as well. And because we are tenderhearted towards others, we have a greater understanding of God’s love and tenderheartedness for us. We understand how God grieves for us in our own sin. And this understanding (among other Spiritual disciplines) is what draws us closer in relationship with God.

Some quotes:

Euspagchnos is not a word about conduct. It is about literally, your insides. Be well-disposed towards each other in your deepest innerbeing. It is the EXACT opposite of hypocrisy that acts tender and feels malice.

“Christians are to be noted for their tenderness of heart. They are to be full of deep and mellow affection, in opposition of that wrath and anger which they are summoned to abandon.” -John Zadie

P.S. None of this comes from the idea that I walk perfectly, or for that matter even CLOSE to well in this. We are all a work in progress. We are works that the Lord has promised to bring to completion. Amen.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Loving and Caring for One Another as the Church

I will come back to this post in the next several days, but I wanted to put forth some Scripture as it stands right now.

Lately, these have been the scripture verses on my heart.

Philippians 4:4-9
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

1 John 2:7-11

7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sisterb]" style="font-size: 0.75em; line-height: 0.5em; ">[b] is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sisterc]" style="font-size: 0.75em; line-height: 0.5em; ">[c] lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

1 John 4:7-21

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Ephesians 4: 29-32

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Until next time

"Where I Belong"- Cory Asbury

My Mom once gave me a dinstinction between different types of musicians that made much sense to me and has become what I hold to be true. There are hearers and doers. Though a musician all of my life, my instinct has always been to almost drown myself in the lyrics, the beats, and the emotions of the music by listening, rather than playing. As a kid and an adult I have had talent, but not the motivation to become a serious instrumentalist or vocalist. Though, I would like to sing in a community choir or play in a community band. I am a listener. I am a hearer of music and love to bury myself into the lyrics through songs that are meant to touch the soul and heal it. I believe that this is the core purpose of worship music, to help the persons leading worship and those listening by leading them into a more meaningful experience with the Lord. A core purpose of healing wounds through the Word in song, and to deeply touch the souls of those who need it most. Today is one of those days where my thoughts aren't so easily taken captive and I fall back into some of my old patterns. So as I struggle through my day, "Where I Belong" speaks the words of my heart and reminds me to seek after only the Lord. For He is my rock and my strength. He does not change His mind about the plans He has for us. His promises never fail.

‎2 Corinthians 1:20

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God.

Lamentations 3:22-24

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;

therefore I will wait for him."

‎1 Samuel 15:29

He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind."

So, without further adieu.

Where I Belong

Cory Asbury

Your presence is all I am longing for, here in the secret place.

Your nearness is all I am waiting for, here in the quiet place.

Here in the secret place.

My soul waits for You alone,

like the watchmen wait for dawn.

Here I’ve finally found the place where we’ll meet, Lord, face to face.

I’ve finally found where I belong

I’ve finally found where I belong: In Your presence.

I’ve finally found where I belong is to be with You, to be with You.

I am my Beloved’s and He is mine

So come into Your garden and take delight in me. Take delight in me.

Delight in me! Delight in me!

Here in Your presence, God, I find my rest. Here in Your presence God.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Hebrews 12:1,2 "And Life Goes On"

Well hello there, if you subscribe to my blog. I know it's only a few of you. Clearly I'm way overdue for a post, since the last one was in September of 2009. It's been about a year and 3 months. In any case, I have some thoughts to share with you that I hope bless you like they did me. Perhaps it's not the most powerful of revelations, but it has been a necessary one as I learn to rejoice in how the Lord is providing for me and loving me infinitely well (even when I can't see it).

So, Hebrews 12:1,2 says "Therefore, since we are surrouned by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

This verse is something that I shared with one of our youth kids yesterday evening and it's been on my mind since then. I realized this morning as I was pondering those verses that, well, no matter what, life goes on.

We are never so down and out that God isn't ready to fight for us and to help us get up from whatever we fell down doing... For me, it's been the sadness and nostalgia of moving, of finishing school, of starting the search for a new job. Life is moving on, and to me, it's scary. For others, it might be unhappiness with self, with others, or with the Lord due to our lack of understanding of his mysterious ways. But we are always put in situations to push on towards the goal, to keep running the race even when our feet "get tired". Though, there's a verse that speaks to that too, in Isaiah 40:28-31. Somewhere is that cluster of verses it says (and I might be paraphrasing), "even youths will grow tired and weary, but those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, and will rise up on wings like eagles". It's beautiful isn't it? So my encouragement to both myself and you today is, get up! Dust off your feet! And keep running the race with perseverance in front of the cloud of witnesses, and rejoice in how the Lord has provided for you and will continue to do so forever.

"Notice how the flowers grow. They do not toil or spin. But I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown in the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, you of little faith?"
Luke 12:27-28

Lord let it be as you have said. Let us run the race with perseverance that we might dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Amen.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Living In The Light

First, hello again. I know it's been a while since I've blogged. Secondly, prepare yourself. We are about to talk about some REAL issues, heart issues. You know the ones, those secrets which we hold so closely to ourselves, afraid that if someone even glimpses them, they'll never look at us the same way again. Well, I am here, and I am real. I am struggling. This particular blog is about my transparency, with you, friend. It would be a lie to say that I've been walking in transparency with anyone. There has been sin in my life which has stayed hidden away, one of those secrets that I keep to myself because I'm afraid, that if anyone even catches a glimpse of it, they might see me differently. I am, as I strongly suspect that you already know, quite imperfect. I'm untrusting, self-serving, self-gratifying, unfaithful, and fully undeserving. I admit that it's rather unnerving writing this down in a blog, but I want to live in the light, no longer separated from the Living Water that I've been turning away from, but fully embracing the spring of life that Jesus brings to me.

First, in case you're unaware, please believe me when I say that Jesus Christ is the living water. In other words, He brings life into our soul, meaning into our lives, and purpose. Without Him we are left to chase our own debacles, our failures, ultimately wondering what we were chasing after for fulfillment in the first place. I was chasing after love. When I think back on my experiences, the first place that I am brought to in Scripture is Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan Woman at the well. Jesus was incredibly faux pas. First, he was a man, talking to a woman, alone, asking for a drink of water. This was SCANDALOUS, absolutely SCANDALOUS. But, not only that, she was a Samaritan, known as a half-breed to the Jewish community, and hated by them consequently. And finally, if that weren't enough, she was an adulterer, kicked out of the community (which is why she wasn't at the well in the morning with the other ladies of the town) having not 1 or 2 relationships, but 6 in total. Six relationships! She was looking for love, but I think it was a bit obvious that she hadn't found it. But this was her day! She didn't know it, but THIS was the day when her life would change, this was the day that she would never be thirsty again. Here's how her story goes:

John Chapter 4:

"The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, although in fact, it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. When the Lord heard of this, he left judea and went back once more to galilee. Now, he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Will you give me a drink?' (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food) The Samaritan woman said to him, 'You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?' (For Jews did not associate with Samaritans) Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.'
'Sir,' the woman said, 'you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?'
Jesus answered, 'Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
The woman said, 'Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.'

(Here comes the important part of the story for us to note)

He told her, 'Go call your husband and come back.'
'I have no husband,' she replied.
Jesus said to her, 'You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.'
....................... [continuing at verse 28)

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 'Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?' They came out of the town and made their way toward him."

Jesus' interaction with this woman is complicated, but what we must draw from this is simple. First, God knows EVERYTHING. Jesus had never met this Samaritan woman before, yet he knew every detail of her life, intimately. Likewise, He knows every detail of our lives intimately, whether we choose to share it with him or not. He knows those secrets which we think we hide so well, that we think are hidden away in dark places. They are not hidden from his sight.
Secondly, He offers us a living water. What exactly is living water? What does this mean? This is how it simplifies. This Samaritan Woman had chased after love for her entire life, so much so that she had already had 5 husbands, and was now in an adulterous relationship with a sixth man, a sixth. So many men, so little love, so little satisfaction. She thirsted after men, because that is where she thought she'd find satisfaction and fulfillment. She was wrong.
We are an empty, thirsty people, running after things which will never fulfill us. Even the richest man longs for something more than money, the philanderer longs for more fulfillment than sex could ever give him. We long for something more.
Jesus offers us that. What He offers us will quench our desire, quench the seemingly never-ending thirst we feel for more in this life. He offers us living water, an everlasting love, riches beyond compare, fulfillment like we have never dreamed. But to inherit this, we must live in the light. We must be cleansed by the living water, shedding those dark places, becoming transparent to the living God, becoming transparent to his church. At first, it's terrifying. What will they think of me? I am too ashamed. How will I ever find the courage? How could I ever be so open, so revealing in front of others? Courage comes from the the daily renewal. Drinking from the well of living water every single day gives us the courage to cast off those masks which have hidden our true identities. It gives us courage to say that we are not ashamed of our mistakes, because grace covers over our sins. In the eyes of God that shame is washed away, and we are clean, like lambs before him, spotless. He loves us with the love of a true Father, a Creator who longs to be in relationship with his sons and daughters no matter the mistakes.

In Christ, there is freedom. In walking in the light, there is freedom. I pray that we no longer live in the dark, scared and ashamed, but that we would drink daily of the living water, and find ourselves living in the light, with all our sins washed away, pure in His sight. Amen.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Proverbs 27:5 "Better is open rebuke than hidden love."

"Better is open rebuke than hidden love." Rebuke is definitely an issue that we, the church struggle greatly in. We have become weak and are unable to rebuke those who sin openly in our midst. 2 Timothy 3: 16-17 states that, "All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." Keeping these two scriptures in mind, today's church at-large has failed, myself included.
As Americans we are taught to be self-focused, to have a faith that is not based on the community of the church, but based solely on individuality. This is wrong. The community of the church which we are all blessed with is there to keep us focused, provide support, and provide rebuke in love. I think that when Christians generally think of the word/action of rebuke/rebuking, it's usually with a negative connotation. This does not have to be the case, and I will share with you why I believe that.
We all know the verses in 1 Corinthians 13 which describes the characteristics of love. Some of the characteristics include patience, kindness, being humble, not being rude, not boasting. We are able to rebuke with humbleness, with patience, being humble, not being rude, and not boasting in our own pride. Through the Holy Spirit we are able to truly love, if we let Him work through us. This doesn't mean that we give free passes to those Christians who sin. This means that our love should extend so far as to make sure that we keep one another accountable, that we walk soundly in our faith. In fact, Titus 1:13 tells us this: "This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply that they may be sound in their faith." Luke equally says, "If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him." (17:3).
Rebuking someone does not mean that we forever get to hold sin over one another (as I so often forget). Rebuking someone comes from a love rooted so deeply in the Lord that we wholly desire to help one another lead a holy (set apart) life. I for one confess my sin in this area. I am so good at holding other people's sin over their head even after I have supposedly forgiven them. I pray that the Lord forgives me for this, and that they bear with me in love. I know that the Lord has often rebuked me, taught me, disciplined me, for things which I knew were wrong. Revelation 3:19-22 reads, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.' " The lord does not discipline us out of anger, He disciplines us out of love! He disciplines us out of a genuine desire to be with us in the end, after everything is said and done, He wants to sit with us on the throne! God didn't send his only Son Jesus Christ to die on a cross in order that we might continue to live in bondage! No. Absolutely not. He died in order that we might overcome, in order that we might be reconciled with God through the death of his son.
Now is the time for the church to rise up! Now is the time for the church to live in boldness with one another. In order for others to see the Christ in us, we must walk through the refining fire, we must rebuke one another in love, we must have a genuine desire to help one another live holy lives. This is our charge. I'll end much like I began, with a verse from 2 Timothy 4, "I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the WORD! Be ready in season and out of season. convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." Amen.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Sacrifice...."Father, not my will, but yours be done"

What is it to realize the sacrifice that was made for you and me on the cross? Jesus, fully human, and fully divine, felt all of the same feelings that we feel, everyday. He smiled, he laughed, he cried, he was crushed, physically and emotionally. His friends, in the garden could not even stay awake one hour while Jesus went and prayed. The son asked the Father, 

Luke 22:42, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done."  

Do we realize what the means to say, not MY will, but YOURS be done. God called us out of death by paying the price for our souls on the cross with his son. Imagine the agony, the torture, of Jesus on the cross, the blood. I cannot fathom the anguish that Jesus felt on the cross, yet His anguish brings me joy! It brings me joy to know that I am saved by the blood of the Lamb, the one who fulfilled centuries of prophecy, who was nailed to a tree, for my very life. I tremble to think, I wonder how I take for granted this blood shed for me everyday, and pray for mercy to the God who cared enough to save me from an eternity of sin and hell. 
I am justified through the Cross, by grace, through faith, and He beckons me from the Cross to my knees, so that I may be at a loss for words, and humbled in surrender to His will. I am continually amazed as the multitude of Jesus' sacrifice for me is revealed. I am sweetly broken for the man who saved my life, my first love. The truth is, I want you to know this as well. I want you to rejoice in your salvation through Jesus Christ, and repent of the sinfulness which we all take part in. We are empowered by the Spirit and we have victory in ALL things. Victory through Jesus Christ. And in this knowledge, I am invited to rejoice, in ALL things. I rejoice in my salvation through Jesus Christ and his death on the cross, for me, and for YOU. My prayer is that we would ALL know Him, for he is merciful, righteous, he loves justice, and and He is faithful, unyielding, and above all, loving. I see the work of the Lord in my life, in the woman I've become, how he's blessed me with community, and 2 churches who love me and support me. Come to Christ, investigate Him, find Him. His love is unfailing, He created you, He wants to know you, intimately. Come to your Creator. Fall in love once again. Know that I love you, and that this is my prayer for your life.