Tag Archives: mercy

“It’s Not Fair!”

Story of the Day for Tuesday September 11, 2012

 

“It’s Not Fair!”

 

                                 Mercy triumphs over judgment.  

                                                                              James 2:13

 

 

Many complain that mercy is unfair, and, of course, they’re absolutely right: it is unfair. Is it ever right to bend the rules for a higher cause than fairness?

 

In 2002, Jake Porter attended Northwest High School in McDermott, Ohio – even though he couldn’t read. Jake had Fragile X Syndrome – the most common form of genetic mental retardation.

Yet, Jake was unfailingly cheerful and loved by his classmates. The Homecoming Queen, at the big dance, chose Jake as her escort. Doug Montavon, the school’s all-time rushing leader, doted on Jake and helped him along during football practice.

 

The last football game of the season saw Northwest take a thumping from Waverly High. With five seconds left, Waverly was leading 42-0 when Northwest coach, Dave Frantz called a time out and met with Waverly’s coach, Derek Dewitt.

Coach Frantz told Dewitt that he wanted to send in Jake Porter, who would be handed the ball and would simply take a knee. But Dewitt was having none of it. He returned to the sidelines and told his defense that when the ball was handed to number 54, they were not to touch him, but make sure he scored.

When the quarterback handed Jake the ball, he ran to the line, stopped, and, confused, started running the wrong way. But the referee and players from both teams pointed him toward the goal line.

Jake sliced through the line and galloped for daylight. When he crossed the goal line everyone went wild. Players from both teams were hugging each other. Players from both teams hoisted Jake on their shoulders. Jake’s mom, Liz, said there were no longer two teams out there. “Everybody was on the same team.”

 

Jake’s touchdown run was, of course, unfair – and, with the ref’s assistance, illegal. The sportswriter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette whined that if mentally challenged kids want to compete, let them do it in the Special Olympics. “Leave high school football alone, and for heaven’s sake, don’t put the fix in.” Other voices joined him.

No one argues that Jake’s touchdown was fair. It was clearly compassionate. But afterward, people became friendlier. Coach Dewitt, the first black coach in the history of the conference, found racial slurs replaced by people approaching him in grocery stores to shake his hand. He was no longer a black man; he was a man. Dewitt said he caught the school bully patiently teaching a couple of special-needs students how to shoot a basketball. Coach Frantz even got a phone call from Steve Mariucci, the head coach of the 49ers, because his NFL players were so touched by Jake’s touchdown.

 

It’s not fair that any of us should be reunited with God. But I hope you won’t mind if Jesus bends the rules of fairness so that, in the end, mercy will triumph.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

Knowing Which Way to Run

Story of the Day for Thursday June 21, 2012

Knowing Which Way to Run

                   Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, with hearts cleansed from a guilty conscience. 

                                                                                   Hebrews 10:22

“Oh, look at that horse! I want it.”

We were driving in the Black Hills a few miles from Mount Rushmore and my daughter, Elly, spotted a ranch that hosted trail rides.

“Which one?” I asked.

“The pinto. Can we buy it?”

“No, we can’t afford to buy another horse. We’re going to have to steal it.”

“How?”

“Easy,” I told her. “We slip into the stable around midnight when no one’s around.”

“But how will we get her home?”

“We’ll tie her halter to the back of our van and she can trot behind us back to Montana.”

When we reached Mount Rushmore I walked into the visitor center to ask if there were any open campgrounds in the area. The man behind the counter said, “Yes, just a few miles west of here is a campground I think you’ll like. It’s called Horsethief Lake.”

Later on our trip, we spent a night in Medora in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I started reading an account Roosevelt wrote in 1886 about chasing thieves who stole his boat. The men they chased, Roosevelt wrote, were also suspected of the “worst of frontier crimes, horse-stealing.”

Even though we were only joking about stealing a horse, reminders of our imaginary crime began popping up everywhere. If this happens in an innocuous situation, how much more ominous is it when we have a guilty conscience?

Guilt is a good emotion — just as pain is a good sensation. Neither are pleasant, of course. But if you accidentally lay your hand on a hot stove, pain screams “Hey! That’s not such a good idea!” Pain watches over you to protect you from serious damage.

In the same way, guilt sets off alarms to warn us when our soul is in danger.

My natural impulse when I have a guilty conscience, however, is to run in the wrong direction. When I do wrong, I know God disapproves. So, instead of moving away from the guilt, I move away from God.

But when we’ve messed up, the Bible urges us to draw closer to God. We can’t erase our guilt, but our heavenly Father can. If we see him carrying a bucket, it’s not because he intends to slap us on the side of the head with it. The bucket’s full of water because he intends to wash us clean. He wants to forgive our sin and remove the guilt.

The secret to being a would-be horse thief is knowing which way to run.

                                                        (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 
 

Speaking Clearly Without Saying a Word

Story of the Day for Tuesday December 6, 2011

Speaking Clearly Without Saying a Word

                 And Joseph got up from his dream and did what the angel of the Lord told him.

                                                                        Matthew 1:24

When we read the Christmas story and hear about Mary and Joseph, does it come as a surprise to you that, in the Bible, Joseph never speaks a single word?

Why does this seem so odd?  Maybe it’s because Joseph “speaks” so powerfully by his life.

After Joseph was engaged to Mary, he discovers she is pregnant.  At this time, he doesn’t know what’s going on.  But he does know that Mary isn’t pregnant because of him.

In the Old Testament, if a woman is betrothed and another man sleeps with her, both are to be executed.  Not only that, but in the culture of the day, Joseph is expected to stand up and defend his innocence by publicly denouncing Mary.

 

But Joseph didn’t do this.  Instead, he planned to divorce her quietly.  Engagements could only be legally dissolved by divorce, but he could do so without making a big stink about it.

Do you see what Joseph’s plan meant?  Mary, he thought, had been unfaithful to him.  As heartbreaking as this was, Joseph didn’t plan to retaliate by harming her.  But think about it: if he divorced Mary quietly, who would everyone assume got her pregnant?  Joseph!  Yet, Joseph was willing to bear the public shame in order to protect Mary.  And, not only that, by divorcing her quietly, he also loses the dowry he paid for her.

Joseph had no idea Mary was pregnant because of the Holy Spirit.  Only later, in a dream, does the angel of the Lord tell Joseph what is happening and that he must take Mary as his wife.  And he does.

 

In the 19th century, one of the most well-known preachers in America was Charles Spurgeon.  On the side, Spurgeon and his wife raised chickens and sold the eggs.  Some of Spurgeon’s close friends and relatives expected a discount on the price of his eggs.  Spurgeon refused. He insisted that everyone pay the full price.

Needless to say, Spurgeon earned a reputation for being a cheapskate.  It wasn’t until after Spurgeon’s wife  died that the public learned all of the money the Spurgeons raised from the sale of his eggs went to support two poor widows.

Charles Spurgeon was willing to let gossips attack his character rather than reveal the true motive for his egg prices.  Joseph was willing to bear dishonor and humiliation rather than to expose Mary to public disgrace.

Are you willing to do the same?

Joseph’s displayed a higher kind of righteousness; he showed mercy.  And, in the years to come, Joseph’s son would proclaim that God longs – not to give us what we deserve, but to show us mercy.  And Jesus would invite us to both accept and adopt this higher law.

That is why Joseph speaks so clearly without saying a word.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Led to the Truth

Story of the Day for Tuesday May 31, 2011

Led to the Truth

 

                   Jesus said, “Come, follow me.”  And they left their nets and followed him. 

                                                                         Matthew 4:20

 

Secretary of State, William Seward, negotiated with Russian officials. At four in the morning in March of 1867, he hammered out a treaty.  Russia agreed to sell some of their territory for about 2 pennies an acre.

Many critics were furious.  Horace Greeley, the famous journalist of the day, called the agreement “a dark deed done in the night.”  Soon the purchase was popularly dubbed “Seward’s Folly.”

Seward had just negotiated the purchase of over a half million square miles called Alaska.  The timber had no value – there were abundant forests much closer.  There were few profitable resources in fish and fur.  But Seward had the foresight to see the importance of Alaska from a diplomatic standpoint.  Relations between Russia and Great Britain were tense.  Seward bought Alaska, in part,  to ease international relations.

But here is the point: while Seward had good reasons to buy Alaska, he was totally ignorant of the best reasons: the gold and oil.  Today, Alaska has more natural resources than any other state in the Union, but Seward didn’t know that at the time.

 

When Peter and Andrew left their fishing trade to follow Jesus, they had no idea that his purpose was to be tortured to death as the sacrifice for our sins, and then rise from the dead, so we might have eternal life.   They had been following Jesus for quite some time before Jesus ever explained his true mission, and when he did, the disciples were either confused or upset!  Peter was shocked.  “This shall never happen to you, Lord!”

Wait a minute – if the disciples did not understand that Jesus would die and rise for our salvation until after the resurrection, then why did they follow him?

The disciples did not drop their fishing nets and follow a man they had never seen.  People so crowded the shore to hear this man that Jesus had to commandeer Peter’s boat and push off from shore to teach the multitudes.  Before Peter and the other disciples left everything to follow Jesus, they had already seen his compassion for the sick.  They had already witnessed his mercy to sinners.

 

Just as Seward made a sound decision, but ended up getting far more than he could imagine, so the disciples followed Jesus because he was changing their lives, but found out later that he would save their souls.

God doesn’t dump the whole truckload of Truth on us the minute we believe.

Jesus did not immediately reveal the whole truth of the Gospel to his own disciples.  Gradually and patiently, he led them to that truth.  If you feel guilty because you don’t immediately blurt out the plan of salvation when you first meet a new face, maybe your feelings of guilt are not coming from God.   Maybe, like Jesus, we can begin by demonstrating the compassion and mercy of the kingdom life. . . so that they may long for, and find, its source.

                                                                (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarr)