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Grounds for Mercy

A French news report told the story of a young field dog that jumped on its deer-hunting master in a playful show of affection. When the pup’s paw caught the trigger of the hunter’s firearm, the gun accidentally discharged, resulting in the loss of the owner’s hand.

The victim later blamed himself for not having the trigger safety on, and made it clear that he still loved his dog.

But what if a dog does harm with some degree of intent? A British news source tells the story of a woman who died of an infection after being bitten on the hand by Brannigan, her beloved Rottweiler. According to friends, the dog had bitten her in the past as well. But she refused to get treatment because she was afraid authorities would insist on euthanizing the dog.

In both cases, the affections of a dog owner for a pet ended up costing a lot. One lost his hand, the other her life. In both cases, whether the dog had enough “intent” to be considered dangerous in the future was considered. The accidental nature of the hunting accident was obvious. However, after his loving owner died, Brannigan was put down so that he wouldn’t bite anyone else.

As I read these stories, I thought about the way the Bible handles the issue of intentional and unintentional wrongs. In the law of Moses, as in our own courts, the issue of motive was a factor. Moses had special instructions for the kind of ritual sacrifice made for wrongs done in ignorance (Leviticus 4:27-31) and for harms done with intent (Leviticus 6:1-7).

Even in the New Testament, God’s mercy seems to take into consideration whether a person has sinned intentionally or not. The apostle Paul, for instance, recalls in his first letter to Timothy all of the mayhem and grief that he caused followers of Christ before his own conversion (Acts 8:3; 9:1,13). But then Paul adds that God made allowances for him because his blasphemy, persecution, and abuse were done “ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Timothy 1:12-16 NKJV).

What was Paul saying? Was he implying that he deserved lenience because he persecuted Christians, thinking he was doing God a favor? Or was he trying to avoid responsibility by claiming ignorance?

These are important questions for any of us who know that we have willfully broken the laws of God. While it would be nice to think that all of our wrongs have been done without conscious forethought and intent, we know better.

So let’s take a closer look. Before assuming that Paul considered himself a special case, it’s important to see that he didn’t just claim ignorance and unbelief for himself. In his first letter to the Corinthians, he went so far as to say that, if those who crucified Jesus had realized who he was, they never would have done it (1 Corinthians 2:8). The apostle Peter agreed. He too believed that those who called for Jesus’ death would not have done so if they knew who He really was (Acts 3:17). Then there is the example of Christ Himself. According to Luke, as Jesus hung on the cross, He asked His Father to forgive those who were crucifying Him, because they didn’t know what they were doing (Luke 23:34).

In addition, it’s important to note that when Paul claims ignorance for himself, he still accepts responsibility for his wrongs and for the harm he has done. Paul shows that he is not giving himself special consideration when he goes on to write, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15 NKJV).

When Paul calls himself the “chief” of sinners, he uses a word that indicates that he sees himself as the “foremost” of undeserving and unworthy rebels.

Likening himself to the worst of sinners, Paul then goes on to show the real reason God showed him mercy: “For this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life” (1 Timothy 1:16 NKJV).

In other words, when Paul said what he did about acting ignorantly in unbelief, he wasn’t distinguishing himself from the worst of sinners. He was identifying with them. He saw himself as an example of how patient, compassionate, and merciful God is toward all who believe in Jesus.

Father in heaven, thank You for reminding us that You see the full picture of what we do with and without willful conscious intent. We will be forever grateful that You have found a way to offer sinful, ignorant, self-deceived rebels like us mercy at the foot of a blood-stained cross. —Mart DeHaan

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105 Responses to “Grounds for Mercy”

  1. ve9cbc says:

    Man, you got me thinking today! I really appreciate this article. I am so grateful that we have a truly loving God. Thanks to His forgiveness, I am approaching my 10th year of recovery. Any day that I can open my eyes – it’s going to be a good day.

  2. SFDBWV says:

    I am guessing that this is one of those automatic things that pop up the first of the month. As well as this subject one we did many months ago.

    I guess I will set out both yesterdays and this one, I don’t like to lick my calf again and two different threads are difficult for me to follow.



  3. remarutho says:

    Good Morning BTA Friends –

    In the story of the hunter who lost a hand in play with an exuberant pup, there is an illustration of the serious though not deadly result of being born into the fallen world. The post applies in a newly painful way on account of recent events in our national life. We could spend our time crying over the loss – but by grace we learn to celebrate what has been spared.

    Heard this morning about a woman who lost both legs in the Boston Marathon bombing. She lay in a hospital grateful that her life had been spared, but dreading a future of dependence upon those around her for everything. Then, a Marine veteran of the Middle East wars walked in and said, “I was just like you – I felt what you are feeling when I lost my legs in an i.e.d. explosion.” He told her she could be restored, and that in some ways new artificial limbs are better than natural ones. What a gift!

    This morning, feeling that I have lost some wonderful aspects of life that have been removed from me by temptation and sin, I also must confess that Jesus’ amazing, miraculous gift of his own life blood has given even greater riches of his presence and blessing.

    I pray with all who lift their hearts to the Lord in thanksgiving – as you prayed Mart:

    “We will be forever grateful that You have found a way to offer sinful, ignorant, self-deceived rebels like us mercy at the foot of a blood-stained cross.”


  4. remarutho says:

    Another mercy of the Boston Marathon explosions: It was time for the shift change at the medical stations. As you know, shift change reporting takes about 30 min, so there was a double shift present when the casualties started coming in. The shift being relieved stayed to work together with those coming on duty.

    Thank you, Lord, that we who believe in you and try to serve you day by day do not believe in luck or coincidence! Your purposes and your will for good swallow up the evil intentions of your enemies. The darkness has not overcome the Light of the world. Amen.

  5. poohpity says:

    Great article Mart! Another that takes some good self evaluation followed by understanding the miraculous grace we have received. Never get tired of reading about that keeps me daily grounded at the foot of the Cross.

  6. poohpity says:

    Can you imagine the difference it would make if we shared the mercy we have received more than how spirit filled we think we are to those around us? If we took responsibility like Paul did about his true condition and what he found in Jesus our witness would be true. Paul boasted but he boasted in the troubles, trials and suffering he had gone through not how wonderful he felt he was like in self righteousness or such a good Christian man but he shared what Jesus had done for him in his true state and he seemed so grateful not only at the beginning of his life but until the end. Never forgetting who he was compared to Christ not his fellow human beings which kept him so humble. May I never forget what I am like compared to Christ. His mercies and grace will always continue to very amazing if I never forget that.

  7. teddybearmiller says:

    I owe my life to Jesus and Paul. I, like Paul, was one of the worst of sinners. I struggled with forgiving myself for the wrongs I had done. It wasn’t until I read about Saul who became Paul that I knew there was hope for me. I am a recovered addict/alcoholic for many years now. The story about Paul gave me hope. Learning about and accepting Jesus into my life gave me Freedom and Inner Peace. Only someone who has lived a life such as Paul or an addict who has lived in a dark world of drugs and crime can truly appreciate what Jesus Christ has done for us. As Jesus said; He didn’t come for the Righteous but for the sick, the poor and downtrodden. He said the well don’t need a doctor but the sick do. Many like myself relate to Paul’s life. Only Jesus Christ could have saved us from our ignorance. Courts, laws and prisons were just a part of living in that dark world of drugs and crime. They didn’t save any of us from our own self-destructive lives.

  8. oneg2dblu says:

    Pooh… just to think about how much we have already changed in our lives since we allowed the Holy Spirit to indwell us, is to me, proof that change is all part of our displayed, lived out, new life in Christ.
    Thank God with His forgivenss and help we do not have to keep dragging those same sins back to the foot of that cross every day.
    We all have dropped many stones, (sin’s weight) at His feet and do not have to carry them again.
    Although His mercies are new every morning, every day walking with Him provides us opportunity to change in ways we certainly could never accomplish alone.
    He alone stumbles the whole world and the world wants that stone removed from its path, but finds no way, for they walk in darkness.
    Perhaps today our displayed light of changed lives will shed some light for those who will see our change and desire it for themselves, as we are to be both light and salt. Gary

  9. poohpity says:

    Gary, my hope is that people see the mercy offered by Jesus that will be the thing that brings change and redemption to their lives. Hopefully we will be very slow to throw stones at others until we see that there is much more that needs changing in our own lives. We are ALL a work in progress and if we realize that then we will not want people to look to us but to Jesus. Paul realized the true condition of his heart even after conversion that he still did things he did not want to do but God’s mercy was greater. We can be a light but hopefully a light that tells others of His mercy just like was shown to us.

  10. poohpity says:

    Not how great our display of light is because just in that we have failed to die to self.

  11. oneg2dblu says:

    I thought I said when we walk with Him daily, not alone.

    He provides ways for us to be the light and salt that others may see…ways we could never be in ourselves.

    How do you see where I was saying “look at us” and not Christ in us, as being displayed in our changed life, our new life in Christ?
    I was speaking of being salt and light, and you reply throwing stones and needing more change in ourselves, and that we have failed to die to self?
    I find it rather interesting how we all see, or find different things in others words.
    Perhaps I should only speak to grounds for mercy on this thread and have confused the topic.
    I do however, thank God that Paul shared his grounds for mercy, along with his changed life, as being part of that very light and salt he shared with others.

  12. poohpity says:

    Gary, I was thinking about what you said, “we do not have to keep dragging those same sins back to the foot of that cross every day.” If we commit them then would that not be the thing to do? They may or may not be the same sins but there will be some sin everyday that God will forgive us for. We have to remember God even sees the secret places hidden in our hearts and our thoughts. If we say we have no sin now that we are in Christ Jesus from what the Bible says that is a lie even Paul in Rom 7 confesses of his struggles with sin because we are still in the flesh. We still have much ground for mercy till we go home to be with the Lord. That is what I believe and if we do not see the sin in our own lives then there may be an problem. That may be why people point out the sin in others because they are not aware of their own.

  13. foreverblessed says:

    Teddybearmiller, thank you very very much for your story, you are proof that Paul is an encouragement.

  14. phpatato says:

    Deb – you said, “Can you imagine the difference it would make if we shared the mercy we have received more than how spirit filled we think we are to those around us?”

    “If we took responsibility like Paul did about his true condition….”

    And again in the following post – “Hopefully we will be very slow to throw stones at others until we see that there is much more that needs changing in our own lives.”

    And again, “We are ALL a work in progress…”

    May you permit me to change all the “WE” and “OUR” words and replace them with “I” and “MY”? Those sentences are really packed with powerful thoughts.

    Your comments would then read – Can you imagine the difference it would make if “I” shared the mercy “I” have received more than how spirit filled “I” think “I am” to those around “ME”?

    If “I” took responsibility like Paul did about his true condition….

    Hopefully “I” will be slow to throw stones at others until “I” see that there is much more that needs changing in “MY” own life.

    “I” am a work in progress…..”

    To change what you said to the first person is important because, in my opinion, change happens one person at a time. Using that wide sweeping brush on everyone (WE) usually renders no immediate action which results in no change. People tend to like “WE” because it is a great word to hide behind. That is why, to me, the Body of Christ will never be seen in a better light. Members think it is someone else’s job to change.

    Great comments!


  15. narrowpathseeker says:

    Excellent point Pat!! YOURS is a great comment as well. Just before I came to the site, I was having a talk with myself and I was pretty much telling myself the SAME THING or it may have been the Holy Spirit talking to me, but when I saw your comment I was just…”WOW!!” Anyway it was along the same line, but I love the way you worded it! I think you hit the nail right smack on the head as in regard to the Body of Christ not being seen in a better light. I think that give us “ALL(sorry)individually a LOT to think about.

  16. oneg2dblu says:

    I can not speak for others here, but for me, if I lay a stone down at the base of the cross, then, I do not carry the weight of it any longer. It is in that premise I spoke as I walk in forgiveness and mercy with the Lord.
    Now if one then pick that very stone back up again?…

    Then, one has created another set of circumstances for themselves and Christ in doing so.
    Yes, none of us now living in these corruptable tents will find perfection, and the law of forgiveness is seventy times seven, but that was not what I was refering to.
    There is a difference between walking in forgiveness and not carrying the weight of the past, from walking in one’s repetitive sins.
    It is why lifestyle is so very important. IMHO Gary

  17. poohpity says:

    Pat, I really thought as Christians “we” are in this together and that there should be harmony in how “we” think and act. Saying the “we” in those instances shows that “we” all share a common thread while being unique in our relationships to God “we” all struggle with the same struggles. That to me brings us together rather than a separation. I for one want to be a part of something bigger than myself as in the community of believers. We does not exclude me, it includes me.(Psalms 133:1) If I were finger pointing then I would have said you or you guys or you all which would have excluded me. Have “we” not all shared in the mercy of the Cross and that includes those who have not yet believed. Do those areas not apply to your life as well or are you saying “not me”?

    Mart, when you prayed, “You have found a way to offer sinful, ignorant, self-deceived rebels like “us” mercy at the foot of a blood-stained cross.” according to Pat that should have read, “You have found a way to offer sinful, ignorant, self-deceived rebels like “me” mercy at the foot of a blood-stained cross.” I am thankful you said “us” because I feel the same way you do.

    This morning I was going to say that “we” oops “I” as a believers/believer compared to nonbelievers share one thing and that is praising God and the desire to get to know Him where non believers have no desire to know Him or even acknowledge there is a God. The sin is not any different it is the forgiveness, mercy and grace that “we” oops “I” have accepted and they have yet to do.

  18. narrowpathseeker says:

    My father had an expression when subjected to people he thought didn’t know what they were talking about. It was, “I have forgotten more than you will ever know”. I have adapted that for me these days to, ” I have forgotten more than I can remember on any given day”

    I have learned many very important lessons in life, but I don’t always remember them until after I have opened up the barn door. I have come to believe that God reminds me of specific lessons learned that I need to know for that day as in “Give us this day” I especially believe when I get a strong thought and then someone speaks about that very thought very soon after, that it is something I need to do.

    This happens to me frequently on BTA. God’s presence here is very real to me.

    Would you all join me in praying for Hissparrow and AmazedbyHisgrace and any others that I can’t remember right now that we have not heard from in a very long time? Thank you.

  19. oneg2dblu says:

    As we all HOPEFULLY attempt to filter out some of the world around us through the Holy Spirit’s leading and as He convicts those things within us as being something to let go of or not continue to embrace, is to me, where true freedom comes from.
    For me, that is where I claimed and fully understood,
    1 Corinthians 10:13. The newly found abiltiy to avoid falling victim to temptation’s next step, our evetual actual sin taking root in us and producing with it, it’s bad fruit. Embracing God’s promise instead of temptation’s evil pursuit. Gary

  20. narrowpathseeker says:

    Pooh, PLEASE, PLEASE don’t start. People are just starting to come back.

  21. poohpity says:

    That is true Gary we do have the help to not fall victim to temptation. When I am tempted to react to someone in anger, malice, disdain or contempt God can give me another option. God has given me the ability to identify those things that are not in line with what pleases Him. It would be nice if I always heeded those convictions but when I do not; 1 John 1:9 which is between 1 John 1:8,10

  22. phpatato says:

    Deb I wasn’t being sarcastic or finger pointing. You seem to have taken offense to what I said by your pointed “oops” injections. I’m sorry. Perhaps I didn’t word my comment properly.

    You were pointing out great thoughts that should apply to all in the Body of Christ. I was taking it one step further by saying that in order for the “ALL” in the Body of Christ to get to the point of not throwing stones and by taking the responsibility like Paul did, it has to start with each person personally to lay down that stone and not throw it, to each and every day reach out and show that mercy to those around us. That is action on an individual basis. When we start with ourselves – “I”, that ripple effect will then start to include two then three and before you know it ALL in the Body of Christ. But sadly, people pass the buck. There is very little ripple effect going on.

    I was simply trying to enhance what you were saying because they were great comments. Please know that I will, in the future, carefully analyse what it is I am trying to say if I’m led to comment at all. I truly am sorry.


  23. poohpity says:

    narrow, are you blaming me for people not commenting on here? Is there the slightest possibility that it may have to do with outbursts of anger, no discussion on the topics, they are busy with something else or many other reasons? I have spoken to several who no longer comment and it was not because of me that they have left, they have stated they were amazed that I am still here and have not walked away but I still enjoy the topics Mart writes about and how they push me to learn.

  24. poohpity says:

    Pat, hopefully the mercy God shows us will be the only thing that has a rippling effect out to others. You do not need to apologize for your opinion of my use of pronouns and I feel in some circumstance that may be the way to approach some areas other times “we”, which is all inclusive, works too when it is common to humanity.

  25. phpatato says:

    Deb I believe that there is a whole lot more than just mercy that God shows us that has to have a rippling effect. I guess that is where you and I start to differ and part ways. I also believe that when using the word “we”, the word “I” must always be at the forefront, at the beginning of the line, or ahead of everybody who is being implied by the word we, because without any “I’s” there wouldn’t be a “we”.

    Have a nice day.

  26. SFDBWV says:

    There is a general acceptance that children are *covered* from the womb to an age of accountability; that age somewhat different in all people as well as belief that those among us who suffer mental disabilities can not be held accountable either.

    So it is their *ignorance* that makes them *innocent* and mercy given to them without the formal acceptance of Jesus as Lord.

    So how far is it reasonable to take the concept of *ignorance* as an acceptable excuse for not accepting Jesus as Lord and more importantly for purposely causing harm or suffering upon Christians all the while believing one is doing the work of God?

    The Islamist believes in the very same God as did Abraham acknowledge as God, the same one the Jew does and I may say the same one as Christians do.

    Should then God forgive these people for the extreme prejudices they inflict upon Christian and Jew alike, because they *think* they are doing God a service as did Paul?

    These boy’s who permanently maimed, killed and altered the lives of their victims in Boston thought they were fulfilling some responsibility to God in their action.

    Should we as Christians just forgive them and let them go unpunished for their actions?

    What about all over the world where Islamic terrorist’s main kill and destroy. Should they be held accountable to the laws of humanity or is it just left to God to decide?

    Some of you will say you forgive, but in truth you want justice and in the case of anyone anywhere causing harm and pain to another human being in the name of God you decide right away that they are wrong.

    Yet many a war has been fought in the name of good over evil and most people see that as doing God’s will.

    Once Jesus intervened and set Paul straight in such a way that Paul was forced to acknowledge as the hand of God, then Paul became the zealot for Jesus he once was for God.

    A choice Paul made.

    What so then of all the Zealots who know of Jesus, yet decide they know the mind of God better than Jesus reject His authority and continue to persecute Jew and Christian alike and anyone else that don’t bow to their demand they accept Allah as God and Mohammad as the Prophet.

    So tell me how then are the grounds for mercy and grounds for justice divided, and are both justified?


  27. SFDBWV says:

    Pearl, Pat, Claudia, Della and all bird lovers I looked out this morning at my hummingbird feeder and was blessed to see a male Baltimore Oriole and its mate feeding out of one of them.

    I often hear their song, but am always excited to see them.

    I have loaded 5 truck loads of fire wood and given to my neighbor who helped me cut and load it, and have hauled away as many loads of tree limbs from the trees that fell from last October’s snow hurricane called Sandy.

    I have made a small dent in the work that needs done, but a summer of work ahead to finish.

    Pearl when are you leaving for Switzerland and Deutschland?

    I haven’t talked with Janet for a couple weeks; she is leaving the 21st of May. She lost her husband last fall and in true pioneer fashion and by her husbands request she drove his body from one end of Utah to the other in their pickup truck for his funeral and burial as a last trip across the world they loved together.

    I am strengthened by the proverb that says a good man will be remembered for being a good man, but a stinker will be remembered for being a stinker…..A lot of poetic license there, but I think you all get my meaning.

    We are having perfect Spring weather 34 this morning and 66 this afternoon. Glenna is enjoying making flower gardens everywhere and I am just glad the snow is gone. Matt has now lost 117 pounds and is up to doing over 12 miles a day on his recumbent bike every day.

    Blessings to all.


  28. poohpity says:

    Pat, do you feel you have yet more to grow and change? Do you feel you are in process and have not yet reached all that God intended you to be? If the answer to those are yes that is how I feel would not the be appropriate pronoun be “we”? Do you take responsibility for your current condition of needing mercy like Paul as I sure do then would it not be “we” again?

    It is the rippling effect of mercy alone that people will be drawn to Christ through us. God asks us to above all else is to show mercy not our sacrifices or anything else he desires mercy. (Hosea 6:6; Matt 9:13; Micah 6:8)

  29. oneg2dblu says:

    We are all here by choice, to be and to share together, to grow off each other in many ways, if we are ready to do so.
    If not, even the grounds for mercy seem to not be filtered as we would prefere them as they end up in our cup again, where we must bear them or choke on them.
    I think back to what Steve shared at the onset saying he did not want to attend two threads, one already covered a while back.
    Sometimes we have to filter ourselves as he has wisely done here, although he is weelcome and missed. Gary

  30. oneg2dblu says:

    As soon as I posted, Steve is suddenly everywhere.
    Answered Prayer? :)

  31. narrowpathseeker says:

    Steve, I am leaving Saturday(4th) for Switzerland and the 9th for Bremerhaven(for 4 days) so I guess I won’t run into Janet. ;-) I wish I could have though, she sounds like someone I would really like a lot.

    Sightings of Baltimore Orioles have been rare for me. They are so beautiful… you are being well blessed this year Steve and thank you for sharing. I am glad to see you back, Sunshine…just in time. ;-)

    Congratulations to Matthew.. Matt, I have shamefully gained another 8 lbs. I thought the yard work I was doing would take the place of walking…it didn’t! I don’t understand why as I walked for only twenty minutes and worked in the yard up to 8 hours a day. Losing weight is not an easy thing to do, Matt…that is a great accomplishment. Good Job!!

    Pat, what is the weather like in Canada? It was 74 degrees here today..

  32. narrowpathseeker says:

    Gary, I believe so! (answered prayer) ;-)

  33. oneg2dblu says:

    Steve… Paul was doing what was on his heart, was part of his belief system, and was driving his personality of being a forceful extremist in all his endeavors.

    Even remarking that he was beating his own body into submission.

    A true athlete if I’ve ever heard one, driven to achieving a perfection not really achievable, but always trying to break his own record through a personal best effort.

    Keep up the good work Matthew!

    The only trouble is another Proverb…”All a man’s ways seem right to him…”
    Then, one day Paul meets His maker, finds His maker’s truth, and changes where he was going, or repents, and goes in another direction, thus following God’s truth.

    Is the Islamist doing the same?

    Only if He is following the same God as in the Holy Bible, the Almighty One, who gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to save the world.
    Allah as defined in the holy books of Islam, does not qualify to be that same God. IMHO

    Allah did not meet Paul on the way to Damascus, He met someone else, the God of the Holy Bible, and that changed his whole world and much of ours as well.

    All Praise, Glory and Honor be to that God which Paul and we as Christ Follwers have encountered.

    Yes, today we live in the Age of Grace, so the rain falls on both the weeds and the productive good fruit bearing plants equally. But, only those who bear good fruit, those who produce the right God, that changes them from where they were headed, certain destruction and death, and redirects them into His Eternal Life.
    No virgins are required where God’s elect are going to spend their Eternity.
    I’m sure most of us do want justice and mercy applied to both us and those who bring evil upon us as well.
    For now only our form of justice will come today, but God’s will Reign in Eternity. Gary

  34. phpatato says:

    Deb Please forgive me if I purposely don’t answer your questions. It will accomplish nothing if I do. I have stated my thoughts and opinions. I’m sorry they didn’t satisfy you. If you and I were in a room together, sitting cozily in two big armchairs where we could quietly discuss our heart issues, I would welcome that because I AM SURE that we would both end up on the same page. But in this forum, I have seen too much go awry with bitter and hurt feelings resulting.

    I do hope you understand. Let us move lovingly along that narrow path we are so eager to stay on.

    Pearl, in the words of my sister, “today was a beautifully large day” here outside my nation’s capital of Ottawa. The temperature reportedly at 6pm was 26c or 79f. The sun is shining, the birds are singing and by the look of it, I need to cut the lawn. Sat looks wonderful as well for Dad’s inurnment. It will be in contrast to what I will be feeling on the inside. I’ve got my hats ready.

    I pray you have a wonderful holiday! I won’t be on tomorrow as I leave with my sister for the family cottage so that we are close by to do some work at the grave site tomorrow afternoon – spring tidy around the headstone. I do hope you get access to a PC and will let us know all about your travels.

    Steve I have enjoyed listening to a woodpecker while hanging a line of laundry outside. He seemed to be intent on getting what he wanted done because there was hardly a break from his pecking. lol Give Matt a hug with a thumbs up for me.

    Gary I enjoyed your comment on filtering ourselves. I hope my filter is not too dusty so it allows what has to be filtered to pass through easily.

  35. foreverblessed says:

    I would like to thank you again for all your blessings, I would like to tell that when I read them, every time I read them, my heart leaped for joy, and it was as if God was taking your blessings and multiplying them and pouring them over my fellow countrymen. Our God is an awesome God.
    God bless you all much and much!

  36. foreverblessed says:

    Must we ask for justice done,
    or is there a higher way:
    to see what God says in His Word: Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you.
    It is such a simple instruction, and it takes christianity so long to do this.
    I was telling about my country, and the war they started to free themselves. I do not know if this was God’s way. I liked the courage shown by William of Orange Nassau to not follow his emperor in killing people for their faith, but to have started a war?
    There still is a remains of a sort of civil war in our country, the south part remained cathlic, and didn’t like the war.
    If they would not have started a war, the persecution would have gotten worse and worse, there would have been many convicted to a real christianity by the bravity of the martyrs, it would have opened the eyes of many a cathlic, now they still do not know what their church has done, as in their history books, these killings are not mentioned.

    We have said we wanted to follow Jesus, this means that we must be willing to follow the way that Jesus showed, and that is this one: “When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, he entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.” 1 Peter 2:23

    This is a hard subject, and one that is so easily overruled by our reasoning, but this teaching is strong meat, and not milk. We need to ask form God and let the Holy Spirit guide us into all truth, and it may take years till we grow stable enough in Jesus to accept this teaching.

    But in the United States the church is not part of the government, so the government can do what it wants to do, but we are part of the church of Christ, and the Church cannot demand justice, as we have just read above: Jesus entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. And we follow Jesus.

    The fact that Jesus wants us to bless, is so that in some way many of those harsh zealots, will be touched at heart by the love of those who follow Christ. I think that Stephen when he was stoned did sow some seed in the heart of the young Paul who was watching there.

    What would you have done if you were Stephen, would you have called for justice done to Him? Stephen did not, but glorified His Father who was in heaven.

    We are called to suffer for doing good, this is God’s Word, and then we say: no, justice must be done! They must bear the consequences of their evil.
    It is not that God wants us to suffer, but by our suffering God knows that maybe some of these evil people will be touched in their hearts

    1 Peter 2:18-25
    Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

    22 ‘He committed no sin,
    and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

    23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 ‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’ 25 For ‘you were like sheep going astray,’ but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
    I pray that God will open all our eyes to this truth,
    may God bless you all!

  37. foreverblessed says:

    Sorry, I should rewrite the above comment in another tone:
    How can we as christians ask for justice done, if we are to follow Christ who said: Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you.
    If Jesus entrusted Himself to God, 1 Peter 2:23
    and asked not for justice done to Him, why would we be any different from Him, i we want to follow Him as we said we did want to?
    Jesus rejoiced in that He knew that through His suffering many would come to salvation, and so it is with the martyrs, many an evil person will come, and has come to salvation because of the joyfull suffering shown.
    rather we should pray that many evil hearts will be touched by blessings from God.

  38. SFDBWV says:

    Under this canopy of believing in a god are many inventions and imaginings of man.

    Our languages and cultures all filled with the influences, myths, and superstitions of our lost and wayward ancestors.

    I miss the input Bill could offer here as he is far more informed than I on the various religions of the world, I hope he decides to come back and help us learn more about ourselves.

    I would suppose that the point in history where mankind lost contact and truth about God was when He divided the nations of the world through the confusion and distrust of an uncommon language. Something God did Himself in order to force mankind to spread out into the world as well as not be unified in a purpose not in line with God’s will for us.

    Archeology is filled with the evidences of man’s religions, which nearly all included human sacrifice at many different levels.

    We Christians accept the story of creation and recorded history from the writings of Moses and the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as being the only true account. Added to our faith in this written accounting of who God is and His relationship with us is the story of a man called Jesus, in who we are separated to be His people because we believe Him to be the Son of God and the second part of the trinity; The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.

    In this faith are our grounds for mercy. In all of it; by discovering who the real God is and through believing Jesus of Nazareth to be His Son and in fact God, and through the discovery of learning the True nature of God and His desires and love for us.

    One of the things we discover is that He always provided a way for mercy. That His plans have always been directed toward a way of providing mercy.

    God Himself is our grounds for mercy.

    So where does this leave all the other people who all throughout history up to and including now who have not accepted the written Word of God to be the writings of Moses and the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Jesus of Nazareth to be Lord?

    What are their grounds for mercy?


  39. SFDBWV says:

    Foreverblessed, I am sorry while I was writing my last post you were laying out an excellent argument of mercy over justice. I very much enjoyed your concept and agree with all you said.

    There always seems to be a problem dealing with living in a solid tangible world and following the rules of a Kingdom that is not of this world.

    Ideally Jesus would have His Kingdom rules of behavior lived and acted out here in this world. In fact as you pointed out this is exactly what we as Christians are supposed to be doing.

    However the problem exists that there is an anti attitude opposite to that Kingdom behavior at work in the world. That creates a need for righting wrongs and providing accountability for ones actions, here and now in this world or else we have no structured community and anarchy will rule.

    It is not until this anti-Christ spirit is taken out of the world that people can live in the pure harmony God intends and intended for us.

    Only God can do that.

    We in the mean time can only stand in opposition to it and show a better way to behave among others. In doing so we can either allow for the forces of evil to triumph over us or do something to stop it.

    In making laws to protect ourselves and others from the evil of this world means we have to also enforce them.

    A difficult position for many of us Christians to be in, a position of exacting justice for the peace and security of us all.


  40. oneg2dblu says:

    Steve… good thoughts.
    I do not believe that God places His elect in positions that would make them fail, just bfor the sake of failure, or test them beyond their ability to suffer, for the sake of suffering. But, He does grow us through our suffering and failures for a greater purpose.
    I feel that He first prepares us through testing, and then calls us out so we can learn to endure and conquer our trials in and through Him, to bring us out of ourselves and into His best.
    By using the giftings, blessings and calling He provides for the greater good of His Eternal plan.
    Yes, that road is paved with many obstacles, tough hills, scarey turns, and deep ruts, which He helps us through, and yet many more lying just ahead can be avoided if we just Follow Him.
    Yet all of us I believe, knows we were really on the road to our Damascus or destruction, before we encounter the Living Word, and what we choose to follow after that encounter is where the Word becomes the Way.
    Paul walked the talk, and we as Christ Followers can do what God calls us to do, even if it is exacting justice for the peace and security of us all.
    When we serve our calling as a Christian, we are doing what we were already prepared to do in and through Him.

  41. oneg2dblu says:

    I just visited the Two Listeners site, God Calling, God at Eventide, for May 3, it speaks volumes about this.
    Be Blessed

  42. poohpity says:

    I say yes foreverblessed, I want to follow, depending on God and His mercies rather than on what I feel is justice like Steve was saying. One depends on God the other depends on self. Very big difference and very different outcomes.

    If I believe that God has shown me much mercies then I will be apt to show them to others. If I believe when I first accepted Christ that I was not in that much need of mercy because I may have been raised in a Christian home to begin with then I will not show much mercy to others. Degrees of mercy like some believe there are degrees to sin. Which would I prefer to be around? Of course the one who has been forgiven much because they know how to love much. Who will be a light? The one who shows much mercy and love. Not by the good they do because even non-believers do good but the one who knows their true condition before a mighty God who has accepted His mercy, that is there every morning, for such an undeserving, rebellious and self serving lot of which I can claim to be one.

    The difference will be like night and day, those who trust justice to God or those who only trust in their own abilities to serve justice. One ends in a far reaching love the other normally ends in anger, malice and destruction.

  43. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends –

    The apostle Paul has a unique place among the saints because he did travel the road of faith in Jesus as one of the first to see and understand the long saga from creation through the patriarchs to the coming of Messiah. In this sense Paul is an example and a model for us (1 Timothy 1:16) At first he performed no better than the most hard-shell Pharisee in the temple organization.

    As you wrote, Mart:

    “In other words, when Paul said what he did about acting ignorantly in unbelief, he wasn’t distinguishing himself from the worst of sinners. He was identifying with them. He saw himself as an example of how patient, compassionate, and merciful God is toward all who believe in Jesus.”

    What is displayed in Paul’s deliverance and transformation is that “the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus,” (v 14) as he tells Timothy. The Grounds for Mercy are certainly God’s “utmost patience” and his profound love and grace. No person or group approaches the throne of grace with any worthiness at all. We only hope and believe in the character of God — “to the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17)

    It seems to me we human beings simply trust in ourselves until every hope in that false covering is stripped away. Then, we turn to the Lord because we have no resources left: wealth, personal power, prestige and finally sheer stubbornness are shredded. We stand exposed, half clothed in the tattered remains of our self-esteem – like Joshua before God (Zechariah 3:4, 5). I have been rudely awakened at times in my life when I have seen how I wounded those I love and who love me – and have seen with agony of self-realization what part I have played in Christ’s suffering. The only ground remaining is his great love for me.


  44. remarutho says:

    God’s love in Christ is unexplained, unmerited, unearned, deeply felt, shocking, amazing and super-abundant. We truly have bitten the hand that feeds us. Failure is not who we are. It is what we have done. Jesus’ blood can sponge away any sin — so that God no longer takes it into account. Our gracious Creator is the God of grace and God of mercy — forgiving seventy times seven. Yours, Maru

  45. narrowpathseeker says:

    WOW Maru!! AMEN! I think my most difficult battles are with false pride and stubbornness. Even though I have had many victories over those facets of the flesh, they keep coming back for more and I foolishly let them in. I hope someday while I’m still here on earth that my victories over those two will be permanent.

  46. poohpity says:

    Amen and Amen!!

  47. remarutho says:

    Seems to me the Lord delights to take up the crustiest, most “reprobate” sinners and shine his glory though us/them! I pray too, Narrow, that his victories in me will remain. Let us trust him for the good outcome!

  48. SFDBWV says:

    Very often we hear people say that the face of a broken hearted Abraham about to kill Isaac is a reflection of the face of God as Jesus went to the cross.

    I would like to propose another analogy if I may. What heartache and expression do you suppose God had when He pronounced the outcome of the original sin to Adam and Eve?

    What expression does your mind conger when you think of God drowning all the remaining people and every living creature in the great flood of Noah?

    How then do you think God will feel when the great judgment comes and all whose name is not written in the book of life is cast into the fiery lake *forever*?

    I know what a fathers love is, I can not imagine not finding a way to forgive my children for whatever it is they may have done or do.

    Love and indifference cannot exist in the same emotion, not in my heart anyway.

    The gist of the question of grounds for mercy is established in the fact that Jesus of Nazareth is the only means and grounds for mercy.

    *All* who ask for mercy in the name of Jesus is given a pardon. What then of all those who don’t ask for mercy through Jesus of Nazareth, yet ask for mercy from God?

    What is their eternal and spiritual fate?

    Will Jew, Hindu, Muslim, Atheist, Pagan, Buddhist, New Ager, or any number of the world’s religious followers not be given mercy?

    Jesus said “Father forgive *them* for they know not what they do.”

    Was He speaking only of those who stood around Him there at the cross or was He not speaking throughout history, before and after the sacrifice of the cross?

    Is He not speaking of all who rejected Him as well as all whose sins placed Him there?

    While we strain for justice in an unjust world, could it be that all the acts of an unjust world also were crucified there on that cross once and for all?

    Could it be that “Love Wins” after all?


  49. oneg2dblu says:

    Steve… your line of questioning leads me to believe you are searching for a Universalist, or all roads lead to Heaven, type of answer.
    Unfortunately, you won’t find your answer in Following Christ alone, if all other leaders and religions already qualify all others for Paradise.
    You won’t find it in the God-given teachings of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ either, if every other voice has an equal message.
    If so, the entire bible is nothing but a foolish story where heaven and hell, God and Satan, right and wrong, dark and light, have no real value in their message, their preservation, their teaching, or their ability to bring new life through faith in Christ alone, which is the whole basis of the biblical message, the salvation that is found only in the gospel message.
    Why do we now look for universal answers that would bring all faiths, all people, all religions, all truth, all teachings, and all other gods, into the same result or the same resolve with or without Christ?
    It that supposed to be some new found grounds for mercy?
    I can not even consider “another way,” after having tasted the riches of knowing Christ, and the promise of His salvation through faith in Him, and finding His grace/mercy is sufficient. Gary

  50. poohpity says:

    The flood of God my mind congers up people who really did not care about God or seeking God. Maybe the flood was a merciful act. I always remember that was done after the women of earth copulated with beings from heaven and I have no idea what evil they did that the bible speaks of but as I trust God I am sure there was a very, very reason for what He did no matter what it looks like to me. Genesis 6:1-7 NLT

    Do you think those cast into the fiery lake care maybe at the time they approach the fiery lake but they were given plenty of time to cry out to God in their life time after warning and warning they seemed to never have listened. Again if I believe God does the best things for all peoples of the world and desires that NONE should perish I will again not trust my human reasoning but put my trust in God who is omnipotent, omniscience and omnipresent.

    One would have to read all R. B.’s book to understand the point.

  51. poohpity says:

    To even compare God’s love to that of a human being’s love toward their children seems to show a lack of understanding of God. That is an impossibility as I understand it there are times a parent will do what we may see as love but will cause a child to not develop into all that they can be because it may smother and cause dependence on us.

    If I have been a part of letting people know of the mercies of the Lord and spreading the Good News then I will have taken an active role in their eternal destination by sharing but if I do not then does that give the responsibility to others? That one person God put in my path to tell of the wondrous work of the Cross, am I really concerned about their eternal life or is it all just words?

  52. narrowpathseeker says:

    This is about the last time I can post here before I leave, but I do have a couple of thoughts on Steve’s last post and I think I’m on the same train.

    First of all, I think God can do anything He wills to do and that He will give even the worst of us every chance there is to make it. Yes, only through Christ, Gary, but there are just things we don’t know. I don’t think we(at least I know I don’t) understand everything written and there is most likely far more NOT written that we may not even be able to imagine, never mind understand.

    I have had an experience that I won’t post here, ever, which has some backing of scripture (the way I see it). However, after the reaction I got from a pastor many years ago for asking about it, I will never discuss it in a Christian circle. However, no one will ever convince me that it is not part of God’s way to do what we may think is impossible. God did say there were things we just don’t know.. I fit real good into that concept.

    OK…I have to go weigh my check in luggage…it was 50.4 lbs…so I took out a heavy shirt and poncho to wear….I sure hope it is cool tomorrow.. ;-)

  53. oneg2dblu says:

    Yes… there are mysteries that go undefined and God can and will do what He wants, whenever He wants, for as long as He wants, to whom ever He wants, and He answers to no one.
    But, He is also a person of his word according to His word, and from that word we know called the bible, He has clearly laid out for us who will believe in His Son Jesus Christ, His plan for us. Do we need to know more?
    We know this much, “Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!”
    So, we are on a pretty solid foundation if we are already believing and following Christ.
    He defines who will go to the Lake of Fire; He defines who will spend Eternity separated from Him.
    We have His word on it!
    Why should we then try to second guess the rest of His plan for those whose names He does not write in the book of life?
    “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.”

  54. oneg2dblu says:

    pooh… “To even compare God’s love to that of a human being’s love toward their children seems to show a lack of understanding of God.”
    That’s a tad harsh don’t you think… being that God says He is our Heavenly Father and we are his children, whom He loves as a father loves his own.
    God gives us this language and linkage of our humanity in the use of His words, He speaks to us in terms we can understand.
    So, that really is not such a bazar statement to say, as a father loves his child.
    Of course, our perfection is never found here in our humanity, but in the words that God uses for us, we can certainly relate to Him.

  55. oneg2dblu says:

    Steve… you certainly set the stage for an abundance of responses with all your ponderings, exstapolations, and statements. But, I know your heart is for Christ first, and the rest of your thinking is a strech at best, but leads us into a healthy dialogue.

  56. oneg2dblu says:

    pooh… great question. “If I do not share the Gospel message, then does that give the responsiblity to others?” (my paraphrase)
    I do not know that answer, but I know this teaching of Christ found in Matthew about being Salt and Light.

    “You are the salt of the earth. But, if the salt loses its saltiness , how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
    You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
    In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13,14,15,16.
    I wonder what good deeds would qualify for being salt and light?
    Oh yeah, those are the very things we do every day when we believe and obey. Gary

  57. poohpity says:

    Gary, do you really think you fully understand God’s selfless love? I do not think there was anything harsh about that at all. I see in scripture the reference to being our Father but as a human father would you send your only son to the Cross for someone who did not deserve forgiveness and mercy or even for someone who did deserve it? God’s love seems to be bigger, deeper, higher and wider than anything I have ever understood or experienced by another human being. I love my children very, very much but God loves them more than I ever could.

    What exactly do you think that salt and light are?

    narrow, praying for traveling mercies, safety, fun and a wonderful time with your family!!

  58. poohpity says:

    Even non-believers and evil people do good deeds.

  59. foreverblessed says:

    Wow, a lot of discussions going on, first let me say: Narrow, a very good journey, and I am looking forward into seeing you here in Europe (in the spirit).
    It is getting springtime here, a bit late though, but in my garden the fruit trees are in full bloom! Such a good site, I hardly see bees, so I prayed to God to sent some of them. Lately the European government has banned some pesticides which are bad for bees. As there is a bee problem, many die, and they don’t know why.

    Steve: mercy over judgment, that is what God called us to do, you say, ideally- that is very interesting: ideally- do we not need faith in God, to let Him take care of the consequences of His risky laws of His Kingdom? Love those who hate you.
    I am not a police officer, nor a judge in a legal court, so I do not have to see maintain law and order in my country, neither do you have to take care of law and order in your country, maybe sometimes in your own city, as you are a mayor. But how often does that happen? How often do you have to act when someone violates a law?
    So it is not that difficult to live by the rules of the Kingdom from Heaven. I am a citizen of His Kingdom. It is somewhat strange to say: wekk Gid that is very risky of You to tell us to love the enemy, that will bring anarchy. I am somewhat bestranged by your writing, and by Gary approving of it, By our own reasoning we nullify the Word of God.
    Sorry God, it is getting anarch here, Your Law must wait till all have accepted Your Word.
    I also want to say, that God is leading me, He showed me once that forgiving is not the same as reconciliation. Joseph had to test his brothers when he met them again in Egypt, He did not embrace them at once, he first tested them. I had to do the same with a family member who had been living a selfcentered life, to see if there was a change in attitude, to see if the welfare of others would be a point of interest to this person, and it didn’t. Joseph tested them twice, very hard. So the next test is coming too. Just wait on God,.

    Steve, about your point that Love wins: Yes
    Gary, I do not see your point: if God shows mercy to everyone, that His word would be of no value: What if the mercy shown is only through the Cross of Jesus?
    1 Cor 13:7 Love always hopes: I see God as One Who always hopes for the change of attitude for all of His creatures, always, so also when they are in hell for eternity. As long as eternity lasts His mercy lasts longer. That for me says it all.
    If His Mercy lasts longer then His judgment all scriptures are fulfilled. And no mercy without the acceptance of Jesus as Savior. Even if it is at the day of Judgment, yes

    Isaiah 9:7 Of the increase of His Government, there will be no end
    the word increase is used only here, and in some other form in Isaiah 33:32, it is more then only the greatness, it is ever increasing, ever getting bigger. For eternity it is getting bigger; I vision this as forever and ever, people who are in hell come to a change of heart one by one, Yes, and then they can accept Jesus as their Savior, there is no other way out of the kingdom of darkness, you have to be bought out of it, a price has been paid for it by Jesus. He being the Creator of all things His blood reconciles all things to God whether things in heaven or things on earth, all things Yes Our Savior, and Redeemer.

  60. SFDBWV says:

    I am a man and as a man I think as a man, feel as a man, understand as a man. God does not want me to Be Him; He wants me to be the man He wants me to be.

    This audience and participants are here for us to discuss things we “Think* about, sometimes in concert with the subject Mart has opened for our thinking, sometimes in another direction, so in that light I will ponder many thoughts and not condemn the thoughts of another. My responsibility to always expose the “Good News” that God has provided a way for mankind to be reconciled to Him and His name is Jesus of Nazareth.

    It is said that a “leopard never changes its spots”, that old adage is clear here amongst the combatant who thinks an exchange of conversation is the same as sparing in some contest, always hitting below the belt.

    I can only love as I understand it, God has given me love so that I *can* understand it and also as a gift given me the ability to take insults and slanders and see them for what they are. Instead then of getting angry I am led to pity the offender.

    You are right Gary in believing it wrong or incorrect that all religions lead to God, they do not.

    However all people of every religion are equal in a need for mercy from God and though not deserving it, God made a way for them all to be forgiven.

    Jesus says for us to love even our enemy and to pray for them.

    What do we pray for concerning an enemy, that they burn in hell for eternity or that they have a change of heart and be granted the same mercy as we want for ourselves.

    The subject has been up long enough that I have to go through a back door in order to read postings and post (a problem with my computer talking to BTA). Also it seems that there is another old problem still present and so I will sign off until the next subject comes up if Mart so desires.


  61. foreverblessed says:

    Always waiting for a change of heart, that is what God does, which is in line with the scripture:
    Love always hopes
    There is a russian story about God waiting for a change of heart, also of people who are in hell, (I think Dostojevski wrote it down, see if I can rewrite it:)
    A terrible old woman, harsh, unloving, merciless, ends in hell. After a long time, it is found out that in some compassionate deed in her past she had given an onion to a hungry neighbour. This onion was used to drag her out of hell. While she grabbed the onion, someone asked: will this onion be strong enough to get her out of hell? Lets wait and see, God answers. And yes, slowly she is dragged higher and higher. But then others in hell around her see what is happening, they grab her by her legs and want to be taken out of hell with her. The old woman kick with her legs and says: get of my legs, this onion is only for me to get me out of hell.
    While so speaking the onion snaps, and she falls back into hell.

    No change of heart yet.
    This by the way is only to discuss amongst ourselves as christians, those who already have accepted Christ as their Savior, and who know how costly this redemption was.

  62. foreverblessed says:

    Pooh, “To even compare God’s love to that of a human being’s love toward their children seems to show a lack of understanding of God.”
    Of course, God’s love is immeasurably higher then that of a parent, but, still it resembles some of the love of God. Like in God calling, the writer says: Just like a mother, who is pleased in organising a birth day present for her child, she thinks of how her child will react, and is already happy for her, so God is thrilled to prepare the blessings He is going to give you.

  63. tracey5tgbtg says:

    Steve you asked “While we strain for justice in an unjust world, could it be that all the acts of an unjust world also were crucified there on that cross once and for all?”

    I believe the answer is yes. I believe that God has the infinite power needed to make atonement for every sin that has been and will be committed. Jesus paid it all. Some people know this – they are called believers. Some people don’t know the saving grace of Jesus Christ – they are called “the lost” or unbelievers. Although they wouldn’t call themselves lost. They would call themselves rational human beings with a mind of reason who believe that man is innately good and capable of producing his own acceptable morality. The question is: When will God open their eyes to the truth? No one comes to the Father but through Jesus. No one finds the way unless the Holy Spirit opens their eyes. No one here can say I found Jesus because I was smart enough to make the right choice. Ephesians 2:8

    John 3:6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

    Is God’s mercy infinite? Yes. Universalism (I think) says everyone is going to heaven because everyone is good enough. But God says no one is good enough to get to heaven, so I will make a way for everyone to get there. How could God save someone who didn’t accept Jesus as Savior before they died? I don’t know…maybe the same way he brought Lazarus back from the dead after three days. Don’t tell God what He can and cannot do. God can do all things. For Him, nothing is impossible.

    Gary – I think you were a tad harsh to call Pooh a tad harsh. Her point makes sense to me. I did not understand the love of God for us as his children until I had a child. I never understood unconditional love until I felt the grip of my love for my newborn baby. Knowing nothing could change the depth of my love for my child. First I realized that this was the love that God had for me. Second I realized that the love I felt in my heart was a drop compared to the ocean of God’s love. This, as in everything God created is just a fingerprint of the unspeakable goodness and majesty of God. We cannot comprehend the whole of God.

    Foreverblessed – thank you for your comments!

  64. oneg2dblu says:

    Pooh… may I ask you an honest question and receive an answer from your heart, not your head?
    Aside from the love of God, which of course has no equal, what human love, the only kind you can possess without God, had the most impact on your ability to forgive unconditionally?
    Was it a parent child relationship?
    A close friend?
    Or was it with an animal like your beloved poohpity that most embraces this unconditional love relationship?
    I’ll wait your answer before I say anything else…

  65. tracey5tgbtg says:

    It has been commented that less people are commenting on the blog. I wanted to say that when I first started posting I simply typed “beenthinking” into a search engine usually google and the first result would be a link to this web site.

    However, since that period of time when there were so many glitches on the website, I can no longer do that. I can not get a direct link to this blog though the internet or even to rbc ministries. The closest link I get is to rbc.about which talks about rbc and has a link to the home page and from the home page to bta. Is this just me?

    Also, on a side note – really enjoying the discover the word topic.

  66. oneg2dblu says:

    foreverblessed… you’ve read me wrong on this.
    I was not agreeing with Steve as much as I was questioning his many faceted post.
    No one here, (meaning ME) is saying we have any greaqter love than God has for us.
    No one here, (ME again) is saying the bible has no value.
    I was trying to say (IF) all roads lead to heaven then the very clear and narrow biblical path of through Christ only, becomes pretty weak if we can actually get saved by any other means than Christ, I do not know, or do I search for, any other means, religion, god,
    The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want of another…leader, or ideology.
    I was questioning “why” look other places by saying we should not be in want of one, in want of another way.
    I hope that comes across as being uncoditionally loving to you.
    I hope you will not find my response here as a bit harsh as well.
    If you do, then I am mis-read again. Gary

  67. oneg2dblu says:

    tracey… I use the Our Daily Bread website every day now and I actually only type (our d) then select the ODB, and link to Been Thinking About from there. I always read the Our Daily Bread devotional every day, since January 1st, 1991.
    This month however, is the first time I’ve decided to just use the web only, and I will no longer get the actual in the hand devotional.
    I hope that may help. Gary

  68. poohpity says:

    Gary, I wish I could forgive unconditionally but have not made it there nor do I think I ever will. When I forgive it is a process I go through and it takes time with a lot of help. In counseling I learned the process and the ability to look at all the mistakes I have made then to realize how much I have been forgiven everyday. So probably it was self awareness that taught me forgiveness the most. Hope that answers your question.

    Now will you answer mine about what you think the salt and light are exactly?

  69. tracey5tgbtg says:

    Gary – thanks for your help. I have bta and rbc both bookmarked plus they are obviously both in my history so I can easily get to them.

    I was thinking that it is not as easy for a new searcher, who has never been here before, to find this blog or the rbc homepage without going another place first such as our daily bread.

    Was wondering if it was supposed to be like that to make sure that only posters who were serious about the topic would find the blog.

  70. oneg2dblu says:

    pooh… I trust you know that I am not personally ataching you, only challenging your challenge to Steve’s words. I just thought you pushed Steve’s thoughts around to fit your understanding and lacked compassion for what he was trying to say.
    The love of a father for his child is certainly no simple matter, perhaps even beyond our understanding as well. But, if God calls himself our father and us his children, than that love connection we clearly can understand must be pretty powerful.
    That is the whole depth and breadth of my statement.
    It was not a put down on pooh, or a harsh treatment in my opinion.
    I just want to clear the air of any harshness toward others if possible.

  71. poohpity says:

    Gary, if I disagree with anyone it is not done in harshness.

    Being a parent myself I know that with one of my children out of pity for her I did not love her the right way with correction and she was let to slide in to many areas. It was personal experience that said, “That is an impossibility as I understand it there are times a parent will do what we may see as love but will cause a child to not develop into all that they can be because it may smother and cause dependence on us.” That is from my life story of being a parent and the consequences at 35 she lives although many choices at that time were from what I saw as love.

    So how was that harsh? God’s love is way different than ours, it is way better and more thorough. I often times did not consider what I do today with my children will effect their future life. Will my choices prompt them to be able to take care of themselves when I am gone. It was not until 10 years after her birth when the boys came along did I start parenting with the future in mind. I learned from the mistakes of smothering and causing dependence in her life.

  72. poohpity says:

    Gary, I take it you do not know what salt and light look like in a believer aside from doing good deeds.

  73. foreverblessed says:

    One thing about participating to this blog is that it teaches me to do something about my “self”. If I put forward a thought here, and someone takes it down, in a nice way or in a less nice way, it doesn’t matter in what way, but then I feel put down myself. Great: at first this would make me feel down for awhile, a few years ago. But now I see this as an opportunity to get some work done on my self.
    Thank you Gary, for the May3 God calling devotional, that is hard stuff: kill the self. So when I feel put down, that is the time to say, well, self, you die. Whatever that means, I do not know what it means, but I do know that I should not listen to self in that instance. And immediately I have to turn myself to God, and ask Him to fill me with His love.
    His glorious love filled for my poor old self. A very good exchange!
    I pray that we all here may find this a good reason for discussing here. And not be so easily vent the hurt, tell God you are hurt.
    And I was someone who was easily feeling hurt. It was a problem when I was young. That it takes such a long time to grow.
    Anyway, I wish you all good growth in love from God.

  74. oneg2dblu says:

    pooh… I’m sorry but I thought that sharing a verse about letting your good deeds shine forth as light, bringing glory to God, would bring about something else. Like a more positive response.
    Now, “my knowledge” as a believer as to what salt and light should look like is being challenged here, and my answers are not coming back as quickly as you want them to.
    You assume way too much about my lack.

    Unfortunately I do not stay at the same location very long as I move about my day, so there will be lapses in my ability to make a speedy reply at times. Please Forgive!

    Being that good deeds certainly can’t be part of this conversation now, this is what I would say about the word salt.
    “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always filled with grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer anyone.”
    I trust that is more to your liking.
    Was my not quoting this verse, also what you meant when you said, I take it you do not know what salt and light look like in a believer?
    I assume if a believer’s salt and light does not look Christ-like, then you are probably right.
    Does every verse I share need to encompass everything about a specific word or topic to have any merit on its own?

    I’ll be quiet now… while you share with us, what you want to share about light and salt aside from doing good deeds, and how it should look as a believer.

    As for as parenting skills with your children and your life experience, I do not think Steve was speaking to either of those, he was speaking of his own experience, but I may be wrong in that as well.
    He has so far removed himself from this now, as I wish I would have done also, but just for the record and to not ignore you, I’ll reply.
    I was only speaking to my interpretation of God’s wording in that He uses the father/child relationship with us when He defines relationship in His word.

  75. poohpity says:

    Gary, if that was how you were going to answer the question, you had all that time sitting long enough to ask all those others questions of me and then had the nerve to ask me to be honest.

  76. BruceC says:

    Well; he I go again. Still having problems with the site. I will have to e-mail Mart to see what is up. Could be my satellite/internet provider.
    But from what I see from skimming over the responses I was wondering if maybe we need to show a little mercy to one another? Just a thought.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  77. oneg2dblu says:

    pooh… I surrender to your always forgiving and merciful nature, you have clearly absorbed and used all your bible knowledge to defeet your personal veiws and only serve to reflect your Christ-like actions.
    Please forgive me as I will not engage this always accusing venue any further with you.I would rather be silent than feed your accusations and their self-seeking merit. Have a great day and serve your blessings upon someone else. Gary

  78. oneg2dblu says:

    P.S. Your most honest answer to the unconditional love issue, (which you would not answer by the way,) would have been nothing other than self.
    You see we have this innate self-serving abilty to hide our ever our most vulnerable imperfection, the ability to Unconditionally Love anything outside ourselves! That is why the (I) stands directly in the middle of our SIN nature.

  79. poohpity says:

    Gary, I did answer your question, “who had the most impact on your ability to forgive unconditionally?” I said I am unable to forgive unconditionally and if I had to point to someone it would be knowing myself and how much I have been forgiven in my ability to forgive others.

    I believe that is just one area we are salt and light the ability to show mercy like we have received. If we believe that there is grounds for mercy because we are such a good person then we will not understand that mercy but realizing there was no grounds for mercy because we are rebellious, self-deceived, sinful and ignorant but yet shown mercy then we will show that mercy to others. It is not self righteousness that draws people to Christ.

  80. poohpity says:

    Malachi 3:16-17 NLT

  81. oneg2dblu says:

    pooh… that was one of your most power replys because you actually took the conversation right back to where I was trying to get it to go from the onset where all our problems fall on the inner being when we chose to react in the flesh.
    I am right now in a place where I can only ask questions about biblical principles but do not have access to my bible where I can quote the word verbatim.
    So, to answer your premise of avoidance, I waited until I got home to revisit your question instead of using off the cuff comments, I really wanted the fullness of the word to reflect my reply. Although, I do have my tiny pocket Gideon’s with me right now, I’m mobile, I preferer my full NIV and operating on a larger screen at home.
    So things as they appear at your end do not reveal the rest of the story and may add to this confusion and frustration you feel, for that I am both resposible and unintentionally guilty.
    I really do not enjoy being accused of lying or trying to scate out of the moment, though and I am equaly frustrated by none answers from others as well.

  82. oneg2dblu says:

    skate out of the moment…:)

  83. oneg2dblu says:

    BruceC… I trust He and we are working on that right now. I have found that the spirit sometimes waits for the flesh to vent, before it works its mercy upon us.

  84. poohpity says:

    I do not think one needs the Bible to answer the question of salt and light it is more what draws you to other Christians. That answer seems to come from the heart not the head or found in scripture. I said you had the nerve to ask me to be honest yet when I was I got trampled and scorned but it would not effect my honesty anyway.

  85. oneg2dblu says:

    pooh… yes, of course you are right. What never do I have to ask anything of you.
    Sorry, I failed the test.
    Looking back over all that missed opportunity to just express without the bible, I would say to your intial inquiry, “Do you really think you understand God’s unconditional love?
    Here’s my belated answer, Yes, I do! I found it in the cross!! gary

  86. oneg2dblu says:

    sorry i’m on my small screen and only see my errors after i post….

  87. poohpity says:

    The Spirit stops the venting by the gift of self control using patience, kindness, gentleness, and mercy in our responses rather than anger, malice and hatred. Seems to help us also ask ourselves the question what is causing me to become so defensive to what another says. Could it be something I do not like about myself and I am feeling a conviction? I know for myself that answer mostly is yes. If I get a stir of anger then it may be an area that needs work like what forever eluded to. Then give someone the benefit of doubt that what I am thinking says more about myself than them.

  88. oneg2dblu says:


  89. poohpity says:

    Yes, I believe the Cross does give us a glimpse but what does one feel when no is an answer to a prayer. Or we are suffering for awhile or going through a trail do we still see God’s love? How about the flood do we see God’s love in that?

  90. oneg2dblu says:

    I would say that one must rely on His word, by faith in Him, which says His ways are not our ways. To trust in the Lord and not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will keep you.
    As far as the flood goes, one would say that God’s wrath is justified by Him, and evil will meet its match. Disobedience and unbelief have their consequences, and it is a fearful thing to dishonor the only one who has dominion over your soul for eternity.

  91. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends –

    The French hunter who lost a hand and still loves his dog is a picture of God. The man’s love for the silly, exuberant pup covers the (great) loss of one of his hands. The apostle Paul sees himself in the great circle of God’s love with profound gratitude. He thought before he encountered the risen Christ that he was zealously doing the right thing to please God – seeking to exterminate all followers of the Way in the whole empire. His enthusiasm was misplaced – and was not pleasing to the Lord. His offense was unconscious.

    It seems some people have difficulty seeing the Creator God as our heavenly Father. This may be because of unfortunate events in early life – or any number of uncomfortable memories associated with an earthly father figure. Might we accept God as our new Father – and the Father of the Lord Jesus? Perhaps over time that joyful exchange can be accomplished.

    Gratitude to God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is not lessened by any earthly picture of who God is. Paul says, “For now (in this life) we see as in a mirror, dimly, but then (when we enter the kingdom fully) we will see face to face.” (1 Corinthians 13:12, 13)

    We pray with you, Mart, your prayer of thanksgiving:

    “Father in heaven, thank You for reminding us that You see the full picture of what we do with and without willful conscious intent. We will be forever grateful that You have found a way to offer sinful, ignorant, self-deceived rebels like us mercy at the foot of a blood-stained cross.”


  92. poohpity says:

    Amen Maru, so our grounds for mercy is that we have been shown so much we are to give it away to others the same way we have received it.

  93. narrowpathseeker says:

    Hello Everyone! I arrived safely in Switzerland yesterday morning. I could not sleep on the plane no matter what position I tried to get comfortable. With time change and
    all , slept 12 hours.. having a wonderful time viewing God’s beautiful work!!! Have to run , get back maybe tomorrow, grandson needs to use pc…

  94. kingdomkid7 says:

    If I am forever grateful for the gift of undeserved mercy and salvation, and if I remember how easily I can deceive myself into believing good things about myself, (perhaps especially the falsehood of how “humble I am”), then maybe, just maybe I can open my mouth and speak. On second thought, maybe I should just be quiet.

    Enjoy Switzerland, Pearl!! Get your yodel on!! ;-)

  95. oneg2dblu says:

    Good morning all… Just having read, David’s grounds for mercy found in the Psalm 4, and then reading 2 Timothy 2:19, which says we “must” do something, like avoid our sinning. In light of that passage and too many others which we seem to also want to avoid, I question our motives as Christians if after we have been called to the cross, to Christ as Lord, to Christ as Our Savior and Our God, through the Hand of His Grace and Mercy freely given, never earned by us, but yet fully embraced by us as our newly found forgiveness and our new life in Him, do we then still qualify as being ignorant, self-deceived rebels now claiming to be as a blind child of God, possessing the helper the Holy Spirit, yet praying and acting like we’re still just as lost in all our sin choices, still blinded, like those who know Him not, and have not claimed or made use use of all His greatest blessing given to change us?
    Is there really a compelling action to be taken on our part, a thing that must be called our good works, our call to serve and knowing well that faith without works is dead
    What if we were to fashion our prayers believing as we should, that we have already received what we are asking for, and then actually living in it?
    Would we need to continue to re-enforce our weaknesses and not find the strength to be thanking God that He has provided an ability of great change in us, that is reflected in our ability to now live as He commands?
    Just a thought about our perhaps being ignorant and rebellious, or having a self decieved intent, or the motivation we project upon ourselves as we pray in this relenting helpless posture of a victim.
    Instead of our professing our ever slipping nature, why can’t we find the willful power in our intentions of prayer that claims as Habakkuk, you Lord have given me the feet of a deer enabling me to climb upon the heigths?
    I tend to look at one prayer as a form of helplessly dumping on the Lord, and the other as receiving from the Lord, a claiming of strength provided by Him.
    Just sharing another perspective… Be Blessed, Gary

  96. kingdomkid7 says:

    Perhaps, Gary, you see a “victim” posturing where there is none. We are “more than conquereors” through Jesus Christ. So I totally agree with you that our new lives should reflect the redemption of Christ that is upon us; but that does not mean that we still won’t periodically mess up even as we walk in our newness. The Word warns us to not think we are standing lest we fall. (a paraphrase . . .). Correct me if I am wrong, but your concern seems to be over what I will call a hyper-grace movement that seemingly condones wayward, lax, and blatantly sinful conduct. Am I right about what concerns you? I share that concern, if that is what you are expressing.

  97. poohpity says:

    Is it not honesty to admit the areas in our own lives that still need work, it seems to slow me from looking in the lives of others. I am a conqueror when I can admit there is something that needs conquering in my life. Isn’t self deception thinking we have nothing that needs work?

  98. bubbles says:

    A craft store had Bible verses and sayings in large script that are a type of decal that can be applied to a wall.

    They had “For the Lord is good, His love endures forever.” Psalm 100:4

    I purchased this and it is now on the dining room wall.

    The KJV uses the word “mercy” instead of “love”. I understand the other version using “love” in place of “mercy.” But I would much prefer the word “mercy” instead.

    I will be forever grateful for God’s mercies. They are new every morning.

    Where would I be without the mercy of God? Oh, I do not deserve this. I am thankful for His long suffering patience with me.

    I am thanking God for His mercy today.

  99. bubbles says:

    See I already made a mistake. It is not Psalm 100:4, but 100:5.

  100. oneg2dblu says:

    kingdomkid7… yes, you and I are on the same page.
    We all walk in mercy and grace every day and we are all undeserving.
    But, I also recognize we have the power within us, a God-given power to resist evil, overcome temptation, and walk victoriously in Christ.
    Through our right choices, also freely given as an alternative to sin, and now to be chosen as we are changed with God’s help.
    This premise of, I can’t not sin as being our humble confession of helplessness, is as prophetic to the one who employs it or falls victim to it, be it used an excuse or crutch against any change, as much as saying the more powerful confession of, I am able to be more than a Conqueror through Christ Jesus who empowers me, so I can overcome and change.
    Let’s all embrace, “Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world,” instead of claiming this I can’t, Cant.
    I find this hyper-grace movement is the most disturbing and growing fever for non-change, or no need to change,
    that is such a popular teaching for itching ears today.
    Just by using our salvation as the vehicle which allows for sin to remain in us without ever fearing its consequences, is really distorting the intention of, “There is now no condemnation for those who are found in Christ Jesus.”
    (Where to me, being in Christ should be walking with Christ victoriously away from where we were found, ever living in our chosen sin.)
    It is like saying there is now no condemnation for those who choose continuing in your sins, by relating continuous sinning to an ever expanded grace covering, which is embracing only our salvation, more than actually Following Christ.
    It is another form of the entitlement ideology in a religious following, saying you get all the promises, and provide nothing in return, no works, no effort, no need to change, no fruit to bear, no accountability, only salvation.
    Where is the dying to self?
    Where is the room for the Wrath of God?
    Where are the commandments?
    Where is the obedience?
    Where is the Fear of the Lord?
    Where is … ?

  101. oneg2dblu says:

    I wonder if it is considered to be a pride issue to thank to the Lord for providing the empowering use of His Word, the empowering use of His Holy Spirit, and the goodness of His gifts, which have all brought about a positive change in your life as the resultant factor of having a relationship with Him. Not abiding in any religion, but a relationship where obedience is paramount to showing Him how much you love and honor Him, after having received His Grounds for Mercy that He so lovingly lavished upon you?
    Or, are we thinking we are better served in staying where we were found, in our sin filled helpless state? Like a servant burying the coin in the ground, or staying in the ground for mercy so as not to lose it, knowing how harsh a ruler He is thought to be, not investing and growing the deposit entrusted in you?
    As a religious person, one might sit in the comfort of the pews surrounded by like thinking others, listening to watered down teaching for the masses, making no waves of conviction that would help change us, just the expected amount of minimal participation.
    As a disciple and follower though, wouldn’t we come out of our comfort zone, out of the pew and expect greater and wonderful opportunities that live outside the confines of religion and doctrine, free to express the fullness of meeting Christ at every waking moment in our lives, and sharing what others fear to share, the truth about sin.
    Afraid to be forever labeled as prideful, because you refuse to follow the politically correct worldly ways, or those ingrained in all their preconceived religious constraints like don’t judge others by their sinning lifestyles, acting as a perfect Whitewashed Pharisee, or with a withered fasting face for gathering approval at every corner, but who is really still unchanged and dirty on the inside?
    If we all truly have the Armor of God, we had better put it on and make our stand against the rising tide of self-serving man who changes laws to suit his own desires, regardless of what God has placed in His Word.
    As the great grace teacher Paul said about sinning more so that grace would abound, Romans 6:1, 2 “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!”
    We should not till the soils of sin to gather up the grounds for mercy either. IMHO

  102. foreverblessed says:

    Bubbles, thanks for the Psalm. isn’t that great? We can rejoice and be glad, sing praises to God for His mercies!
    Gary, I invite you to join us, and sing for joy with us, for God is great, and so are His mercies.
    Bubbles, there is a Psalm which has this line His mercy endures forever in every verse, I think it is Psalm 136.
    The old King James, had it rendered:
    His mercy endureth forever
    But now it says, His love endures forever.
    I have been looking up the word, as far as I can, I am not a linguist, the Hebrew word is not love, it is sort of loving kindness together.
    Maybe difficult to translate into an english word that does not exist.
    I was used to that mercy word.
    This morning my eye fell on Psalm 105:1-5
    O that we could sing together without feeling restrains, or hesitation.
    Gary I invite you to come and sing this with all your heart, be welcome!
    I am so happy I can sing for gladness because of His mercies. THere was atimje I couldn’t, that was in my childhood church, kind of fundamental sort, which preached the obeying of God’s law more then grace. And it stayed in my mind, that if you keep His commandments, then you would not need His grace so much, no need to ask for forgiveness, as you were not sinning.
    Now my whole attitude is changed: even for “normal” living I need God’s mercy, I have no deep lasting love myself, no matter how hard I try, so I need His mercies, that He lives in me.
    And so yes, I seek His face every morning, more then ever, and forever! Psalm 105:4
    O come and sing for joy for His mercies are new every morning

  103. foreverblessed says:

    spelling check: there was a time I couldn’t,
    But now I can, I can sing of joy because of His mercy.
    This is the restraint: if you think of mercy, you immediately think: I must have sinned otherwise no mercy is needed.
    And therein lies the lie: Mercy is new every morning because God IS mercy. Thank God. And when I am in Him I am where I should be, and there is the time to sing His praises! Yes

  104. oneg2dblu says:

    foreverblessed… thanks for the invitation to join all of you in your chorographed praise and worship section,
    what a blessing it brings. I trust that we can also be invited to share in the rest of the book as well, with its warnings against prevading evil in our lives if we really love one another. It is all part of the whole sharing experience when we live in Christ… would you agree?
    Like loving upon our children, but telling them only to go play together, eat together, and grow together, but without also telling them to stop, look, and listen before crossing, who be failing to love them completely.
    Looks like you’ve already answered that before I asked, with your last entry. Gary

  105. oneg2dblu says:

    wher’s my spell check when i need it…:(
    Choreographed “)

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