Stories of faith, life, and love

Tag: love

Write Stuff Wednesday: Love You Forever

child“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” – Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

I doubt any children’s book garners reactions as strong as those elicited by Love You Forever. Those reacting in the negative find it kind of creepy. The elderly mother pretty much drives across town, breaks into her son’s home, and holds him like a small child to sing him her song of love. I get the creepy vibe, but it is only a story meant to bring home a point. I can overlook that particular part of it.

For others, the book is a wonderful story of a parent’s unending, never changing love for her child. At each stage of his life, the mother never fails to remind her child that her love won’t fade away. When she is too weak to sing her song to him, the son responds to that constant love by singing the song back to her and then continuing the song by singing it to his newborn daughter.

Anyone who has spent time with children know there are less than lovable times. Whether it’s fits in the toddler years, questioning authority in the junior high years, out and out rebelling in the teen years, or knowing everything there is to know about life in early adulthood, a parent’s patience and child-rearing know-how is tested at various times throughout the process of raising their children.

Even if we remember to cherish each stage of development, we pray for strength to survive it and bring our child through it successfully. We hurt with them when they fail, even as we encourage them to get back up again knowing they’ve not learned yet and will fall again. We repeatedly face disappointment and frustration as we watch our children act against what we’ve taught them. At their worst times of disrespect and disregard, our patience wears thin.

But even when we’re pushed to our limits, our love remains strong. No matter what our children do, we love them. We may not agree with their choices. As they choose paths better left untraveled, we hurt for them. We pray for them and try to guide them as we see them head toward sin. The pain and frustration we feel runs deep as we watch our children choose lives that take them further from God instead of to Him. But even then, we love them.

It’s a stunning picture of God’s love for us. We have hurt, disappointed, and betrayed Him time and again. We’ve chosen to ignore Him to go our own way until the results of our choices send us crying to Him to fix the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. When He doesn’t fix it, we treat Him like He’s the one responsible for our pain.

We act this way even though He’s given us everything. In our sin, God is the one who provided the way for us to be reconciled to Him. He is the One who sent His Son to die on the cross in our place to take the punishment for sin that only we deserve. He is the One who promises to make us His children and heirs with Christ when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior. He gave us His Holy Spirit to live in our hearts so we can know and follow Him better in our earthly lives. He allows us to be part of reaching others with the gospel. And He promises one day we will spend eternity in His presence.

God hasn’t blessed us with these things because we deserve it. Our continued failure to turn to Him, seek Him out, learn from Him, and live the way He wants us to live is proof enough that we aren’t deserving. But God gives anyway. Though our continued sin and reluctance to follow after Him in everything we say and do has to sadden our Heavenly Father, He always forgives. Though He doesn’t always remove our consequences, He is always willing to bring something eternally beautiful from the chaos we find ourselves in. God does all this for one reason. Love.

Jeremiah 31:3 is God’s own Love You Forever to us. He tells us, “‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.'” Everlasting is forever. It isn’t contingent on us. It relies solely on God’s love, on God being love. 1 John 3:1 reminds us that it is God’s love lavished on us that allows us to be called children of God. His love isn’t dribbled down over us. It is poured in abundance over us.

God’s love is freely given to everyone. We don’t earn it through being good. God acted in love toward us while sin still made us His enemy. We can see what love is not because “we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins”.

Unlike our fallible love, limited by our weaknesses, God’s love for us will never fail to do what’s best for us. It will never let us down, no matter what our circumstances may try to tell us. It is forever, unchanging, and perfectly given. God will love us forever and for eternity His children we will be.

Right Stuff Wednesday: Grief and Love

Hobbit Home“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” – J.R.R. Tolkien – The Fellowship of the Ring

It doesn’t seem right, but I think there is a lot of truth in this quote. On the surface it seems like a great quote to encourage keeping perspective. There is bad, but there is good too. Let’s look to the good. But the quote is more than an attitude adjustment.

Love is mingled with grief. We see it more each day. I’m not going to argue whether or not it’s really worse. The argument could be made that it’s been bad all along, but our ability to broadcast it to the four corners of the globe have made it more noticeable. It doesn’t matter which it is or even if it’s a combination of both. What matters is that love and grief are walking side by side in this life.

Some of the grief in our lives is self-made. Sinful and simply bad decisions bring consequences that we didn’t think would ever happen to us. Our lives aren’t immune to the results of other people’s actions either. Sometimes nature takes center stage in hurling grief onto our paths. Natural or self-made, grief is grief. It would be easy to focus on it and let ourselves be sucked further under into our grief. It’s easy to play the victim and cry “woe is me” and determine there is no way out of the hurtful place we find ourselves.

Please understand, I’m in no way diminishing the pain or disappointment or loss anyone has faced. These griefs are real and cutting. I know. I’ve faced them too. The problem comes when we choose to continue living in them, letting them paint the landscape of our lives. I believe there is more for us than the darkest times in our lives. It’s in the most painful times of our lives when true love (and I don’t mean the romantic kind) becomes the sweetest.

Little acts of kindness, unearned and unexpected, bring light into the darkness grief tries to shroud us in. When done in godly love, they can bring peace, hope, and moments of joy one can cling to as they work to rise above the darkness. They can remind us we are not alone. We are not fighting alone. We are not hurting alone. It’s why Romans 12:15 instructs us to share in each other’s joys and hurts.

Reaching out to others in active, godly love is also a great reminder to us that we have another who understands what we’re going through. Hebrews 4:15-16 reminds us that Jesus sympathizes with our weaknesses. He understands our temptations and hurts. Jesus knows disappointment. He understands betrayal. He has felt what it’s like to be utterly alone. In our griefs, it is the love of God shown through others that brings the comfort of knowing know matter how we may feel, we are not alone.

It’s sad to say, but sometimes it takes the grief to move us to compassion. Think about the days following true tragedies. Many can remember 9/11. It was a horrible time of loss for so many. Fear was rampant. But so was love. People gave of themselves and their resources to be there for those in need. Families spent more time together. It didn’t take away the pain for those who suffered loss, but they knew they didn’t stand alone.

It happens every time there is a natural disaster. The people around are mobilized to help. Our sense of what it means to be human and compassion move us to help in any way we can. Sometimes it’s as simple as listening to someone’s grief. Other times it involves taking action.

When we get into step with those walking through times of grief, God’s love shines a little brighter in their lives. Their grief may remain, but for a moment it may not hang so dark and heavy over them. How great would it be if it didn’t take the times of grief for our love to sweeten someone’s day?

When Truth Hides

background-2013633_960_720Truth is important, but sometimes it’s hard to find. We see polarizing stories on the news every day that threaten to tear our nations apart. Sometimes they even threaten to tear God’s people apart. But if we take a step back, we realize each side of these debates have often latched onto one small idea or event and run with it. Even our news sources have lost objectivity. It used to be “just the facts” and let the people decide. There is nothing objective about any news source today.

Each side twists and highlights the things that make them look better and the other side look like the devil himself. Each side has an agenda. The stories they cover, the issues they bring to light, may be important. People may need to know these things, but the way the stories are presented breeds hatred, discontent, and divisiveness. Each side claims truth. Each side has proof. Honestly, each side has people paid to make the “facts” work in their favor to push their agenda. That’s why each side can come up with data, polls, events, and numbers to back up their idea. If you know the right way to frame it, you can find information to back up anything you want. And that’s exactly what each side does.

But simple, honest truth being hard to find sometimes doesn’t mean that it’s not important. In fact, I think it makes it more important. No one understands this better than Sergeant Caleb Dockery in Her Place in Time by Stephenia H. McGee. When Lena shows up out of nowhere in the plantation house turned civil war hospital where he’s recuperating, Caleb doesn’t know what to think. She claims to be from the future. She claims to go back and forth between the two times by putting on a yellow dress. It makes no sense. She speaks in strange ways. Her manner and customs aren’t at all like ladies of his day. A lot of what she says and does is controversial and even scandalous, but is she really from the future? Her methods of nursing wounded soldiers lend credence to her claims. But she slips away unseen at times, and she’s admitted she doesn’t believe in the south’s cause in the war. Could she be a spy?

Even as Caleb wrestles with his doubts, he can’t deny he’s attracted to her, and she seems to be attracted to him as well. His doubts about her trustworthiness, her honesty, keep them at arm’s length. He can’t quite reconcile what she’s saying to be truth, and she won’t give her heart to someone who won’t trust her. What she’s saying seems impossible, too impossible to accept as truth. Besides, she’s still trying to figure out what is really going on and why it’s happening. The only question that remains for us is if either of them will find out the truth before they lose what God’s trying to give them forever. It all comes down to truth.

In an age where people try to dress lies and nuggets of truth as the complete truth, Christians are sheep in the midst of wolves. We need to take Jesus’ directive to “be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves” to heart. We can be part of the problem or the solution. It’s easy in today’s social media crazed days to spout off about everything that irks us. Even in those of us who find loving people easier than others can find our patience and acceptance stretched to their limits. We preach the necessity of loving everyone but then demonize those on the opposite side of the situational fence. We read a simplified post that agrees with our view point and forward it to all our friends, expressing disgust at anyone who dares see things from a different perspective.  In essence we’ve been neither wise nor innocent, instead becoming one of the wolves.

If we are to be wise, we need to start being responsible with the truth. When we see issues dividing those around us, we need to take a step back. Believers can’t hide their heads in the sand. We can’t ignore the things going on around us, but we can make sure all we say, do, and post falls under the umbrella of love and truth. We need to go beyond sound bites of media and seek out all the information we can get before choosing to speak. We need to seek God’s will before we choose to make a move.

In seeking truth and God’s will on how to respond to that truth, we allow ourselves to become wise while staying innocent. We refuse to be part of the problem. We allow room for healing in places where divisiveness once reigned.

By the Book: Do you seek truth instead of giving in to a knee-jerk emotional reaction to what you see or read? Do you seek God’s wisdom and way before you decide what steps to take?

Write Stuff Wednesday 7

roses-2840743_960_720“Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.” C. S. Lewis

When I type the word smile and search for synonyms, I get six different options. If I do an internet search, one website gives me twelve. Though I have to be honest, I don’t really consider some of their choices exact synonyms.

Our language is full of variations for individual words, and an author has to be careful to choose their words wisely.

He leered at her.

It sounds bad. I wouldn’t want to be the object of his look. Is he a stalker? Is he planning an attack? I don’t really want to find out.

He smirked at her.

It’s a little less bad. He’s probably a little arrogant, and she probably just said something he found less than worthy. If she sees it, the look is likely to do one of two things. It could embarrass her. It could also make her angry if she doesn’t believe he’s everything he thinks he is.

He grinned at her.

Without any other context, this could be good or bad. But for the most part, we see a grin as a good thing. It’s playful, happy, and friendly. Maybe she just said something funny. Or maybe he’s shy and the grin is how he’s trying to show that he likes her.

All three are very different sentences, but all three words are included in the list of synonyms for smile. It’s the author’s job to know which one will best fit their story and avoid giving the reader the wrong ideas.  The word or phrase has to fit the specific action and the intensity of the scene.

Choosing the wrong word can be damaging to the story you want to tell, but choosing an overused word or phrase can be just as harmful. When a word or phrase has been used to the point of becoming cliché it loses its power. At that point, your message is worse than lost. It’s boring.

Have you ever heard a small child trying to learn the art of telling jokes? We laugh politely at first wanting to encourage them. They know they’re on the right track without understanding why. So, they continue telling the exact same joke the exact same way. Even if their experience was more organically arrived at, by making the right face at the right time or inserting an unexpected phrase into the conversation, they only understand that it brought laughter. And they keep doing it. It works for a little while. Then, the laughter stops, and they don’t understand why it isn’t funny anymore.

This is the clichéd word or phrase in our writing. It stops carrying its original weight because we’ve overused it, stripping it of its depth of meaning. As writers, we’re warned away from these powerless words.  Meaning can be restored over time, but only if the words are used correctly and sparingly.

The results of overuse reach far beyond the world of writers. Consider the word love. We have several types of love. There’s brotherly love, unconditional love, and passionate love. These three are used in scripture. In the original language they were distinct words. Yet when we translated them we had no better synonyms than love for each one. Only in looking at the context and at times a concordance can we find the intended meaning.

But it gets worse. We throw love around for everything from our latest crush to the new cupcake flavor at our local bakery. As it’s lost some of its depth, the word has come to symbolize nothing more than a feeling of want and liking. Maybe that’s why we’ve forgotten love isn’t always about making someone feel good. Sometimes, love has to take the tough path because real love, scriptural love is choosing to act in the best interests of someone else even if it isn’t easy for the one loving or the one being loved.

When Jesus pushed the rich young ruler to take a look at his allegiance to his fortune, he went away sad. He couldn’t accept Jesus’ requirement. Does that mean Jesus wasn’t loving him? Not at all. He was doing the most loving thing in pointing out what kept the man from truly following God. Even though it was hard to see, it was love that kept God from removing Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Through his struggle, Paul was able to learn to keep his focus on God and to trust in Him instead of relying on his own abilities. It was more loving for God to allow the suffering and work to grow Paul through it than for it to be removed. If removed Paul would face the temptation to put himself in God’s place as he saw his accomplishments as his own instead of God’s. God doesn’t take joy in our suffering, but He takes great joy when we allow Him to work in our suffering to make us more like Him.

Churches speak of love regularly, but the word has been watered down even in the pews. It’s time for believers to reclaim the meaning. It’s time for the church to live love like Jesus did. It’s time those who claim God in their lives begin loving not only in theory but in truth. Love should drive our actions and attitudes. When we do the hard things it should be for the best of others and in ways that leave those who are struggling to accept the truth feeling God’s love instead of feeling alone. When we do the easy things of love, it should be for God and those He loves instead of to make a name for ourselves.

By the Book: What does love mean to you? How can you help give love back its power?roses-2840743_960_720

Write Stuff Wednesday 3

glass-ball-1667668_960_720“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Chekhov

The afternoon was hot. The sun beat down. However, the evening brought  a cool breeze.

Waves of heat rose from her cheek, blistered by the merciless afternoon sun hours before. Only the cool evening breeze brushing across it offered brief relief from the unquenchable flame.

Both paragraphs give the same information. The day went from hot to cool as afternoon became evening.  The first paragraph is functional. It gives facts. We’ve all experienced a hot afternoon and a cool evening breeze.  But reading facts doesn’t draw the experience out of your memory. It doesn’t make you picture it or feel it.

The second paragraph shows you the effects of that hot afternoon. It creates a picture in your mind. You can relate to it because you’ve felt a sunburn. You know how relief feels whether through a cool breeze or aloe. And you know how quickly that relief fades, leaving heat waves to rise off your skin again. You can see and feel the heat of this imaginary day because the paragraph does more than give you facts. It shows you the story.

Showing versus telling. It’s drilled into the minds of writers in every book and conference.  It’s a little thing with a huge impact. Do you want people to simply read your story? Or would you rather they get drawn into the story, reacting to each scene through the connections you create?

With a plethora of books, classes, and workshops on the craft of telling versus showing, we should be experts. We’ve listened to and agreed with the teaching. We’ve implemented the lessons. And then, when we think we’ve outgrown it, we find ourselves slipping back into old habits. That last scene lacks the ability to draw in the reader. We’ve reverted to telling instead of showing.  And with that change, we’ve lost the interest of the reader.

Showing rather than telling is vitally important for writers but not only for them. It’s a necessary skill for believers as well. We talk a good game. In our efforts to “go into all the world and preach the gospel”, we memorize John 3:16. We can tell the story of how sin separates us from God. We share how helpless we are to correct our current situation. Praise God that we don’t have to, because He sent Jesus to take the punishment of death that we owe. We can use the Roman road of salvation to help someone each step of the way. We can lead them in a heartfelt sinner’s prayer of repentance. We welcome them to the family and rejoice that they are now reconciled with God.  We’re good at these things. We’re good at the telling of faith and love.  And please believe me, I understand their importance and am not making light of them. But as with writing, we lose can lose impact if all we have is words.

God gave His people in the Old Testament very specific ways to live. He didn’t do it to hinder them. He did it to make them stand out. He wanted the world to see the difference He made in their lives. If the Old Testament serves as a physical example of the spiritual truth of the New Testament, a foreshadowing of the time during and after Jesus’ ministry, then isn’t the lesson of being different one we should take seriously?

God is love. Scripture says so. God’s love is unconditional, unchanging, and does what is best even when it’s hard. God’s love is active. It sent Jesus to the cross in our place. It meets people where they are without letting them excuse or continue sinful behavior. It changes lives. Can we say the same for our love? We can say God is love. But are we limiting ourselves to telling the world this or do we strive to show it in our actions each day?

Faith is “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen”. It is “by grace you have been saved through faith”. Faith is more than knowing something to be true. It is taking that belief so far into yourself that it changes the way you think and act. Knowledge that a bridge will let you cross a river safely does you no good if you don’t believe it deeply enough to step onto the bridge and cross the water. James 2:17-18 says, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works’.” James was saying without action to back it up, you’re telling faith and not showing it. He goes even further to say that when you do this faith is dead. The faith isn’t rooted deeply enough to cause action, and without action, it loses its power.

As believers, it’s time we learn the lesson of the writer. It’s time to learn how to show our faith and love rather than simply telling the message.

By the Book: Like a writer, do you find yourself slipping into old habits and telling more than showing your faith and love? Consider what causes this in your life. Are there any ways you can safeguard yourself against slipping into telling when those times come up?

Love is a Verb

DC Talk rapped some very wise words when they told us “Luv is a verb.” So, their spelling may have intentionally left a little to be desired, but the message is clear. Love isn’t a feeling. Love isn’t something that just happens. Love is a choice, and love is an action. Love is something we are all called to exhibit in our daily lives. Active love changes lives.

No one knows this better than Anna Hartwell in Safe Refuge by Pamela S. Meyer. Growing up in a wealthy Chicago family in 1871, Anna has had opportunities others haven’t. She’s seen a lack of love in action in her family and the man she’s been promised to marry since birth. Her mother reaches out to those she considers less than herself only when it will promote her standing in society. Her sister is young, but often distracted by the trappings that come with a life of wealth and social standing. But Anna is different. Through her church and personal relationship with God, Anna has seen real love. Anna has had the opportunity to realize those her parents consider lower class and less worthy have simply not been as fortunate financially. Anna’s heart is soft to the needs of others, and she reaches across the lines to befriend and help those in need.

When tragedy strikes her family and all of Chicago in the form of the Chicago fire, the differences between her family’s version of love and real love becomes even more apparent. Anna experiences the results of love in action as her family flees their hometown for Lake Geneva and finds people willing to give of themselves to those affected by the fires, whether rich or poor. These examples strengthen Anna to keep giving of herself without reserve to the neediest of the refugees despite her own loss. And when her family’s whole world is turned upside down with devastating news, Anna learns what unconditional love really is. For Anna, love is what changes everything.

It’s a lesson we can all stand to take to heart. God is love, and His love is unconditional. His love prompted the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for people who had and would continue to reject Him and His ways. His love reached out to the unlovable. His love moved to change the lives of those the rest of the world would have considered unworthy. His love didn’t condone sin, but it also didn’t alienate the sinner in the desire to purge him of his sin. He loved the people to the truth, and that love changed hearts and lives.

The call to live lives of radical, active love is found in Jesus’ words from Matthew 25:40 which encourage us that whatever we do “To one of these brothers of Mine, even to the least of them” we did it to Jesus. There are countless verses about bearing with each other in love, carrying one another’s burdens, sharing each other’s joys, taking care of the widows and fatherless, and caring for all those in need. But Jesus gave us more than His words. He gave us His example. To the ten lepers, He gave healing even though only one would ever thank Him for the gift. To the woman caught in adultery, Jesus gave mercy and encouragement to go and sin no more. To the woman at the well, He gave her the truth of her sin wrapped in the softening blanket of hope. To Peter, Jesus gave forgiveness and restoration. The 5,000 received enough food to fill their bellies so they could focus on the teachings that would fill their souls.

And for us? Jesus gave His live in exchange for ours to pay sin’s debt. He gave it before we ever loved Him, before we ever knew Him. He gave it without reservation. He gave it to us, the creation that is so much lower in standing than the Creator. He gave it without regret to people like us who, even after being forgiven, would continue to fail Him and forget Him more times than we will even admit to ourselves. He gave to show us that love is a verb.

By the Book: Study the life of Jesus. How does it teach us love? How are you showing others love in your daily life? How good are you at putting love into action unconditionally?

MCM: Heroes and Villains Edition

Usually on Main Character Monday I feature the main protagonist, the hero, from one of the books I’ve reviewed. We love our main characters. They give us something to aspire to. They remind us of us. We connect to their stories, and we are firmly in their corners. We learn with them, hurt with them, and laugh with them. Their lives, the growth they go through during the time of the story, encourage and challenge us in our own lives.

But what would a main character be without their antagonist, their villain? These are the characters created to receive our dislike. They are the ones challenging the characters we love. Sometimes they act in deplorable ways. Even the less vile ones exhibit characteristics that simply rub us the wrong way. Their methods, their driving forces, are not things we aspire to. We don’t want to see ourselves in these characters. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t as necessary to the story, and it doesn’t mean there aren’t lessons we can take from them as well.

Often, the antagonist of a story isn’t what you would term a true villain. They aren’t pure evil. They aren’t psychopaths. These certainly exist in stories, but what about the others? Some of the most strongly written antagonists have stories that are just as compelling as their heroic counterparts. They are stories of hurt, pain, disillusionment, disappointment, and torment that twist the hearts and minds of the antagonist.

Kristen Heitzmann is an expert at creating this type of character. Her antagonists are so complex that to use them as an example would give away too much of the stories she’s written. I found only one of these characters that I feel I can share anything about in the novel The Edge of Recall. He is a young man with a more than troubled past. Hidden since childhood from a world that is less than understanding and far from kind, Donny knows to survive he has to stay invisible. However, when developers threaten to unearth the only home, the only safe place he has ever known, Donny realizes the only way to protect himself is to get rid of them. Donny has spent years honing the skills he needs to survive, including breaking into houses and stealing what he needs. He puts these skills to use as he terrorizes those he believes wants to rip his home away from him.

Donny is far from being the only antagonist in the story, but his part in the novel is equally terrible and heartbreaking. He does some horrible things in his attempts to keep himself safe. And we realize actions have consequences no matter their motivation. But at the same time, Heitzmann gives us a clear picture of the pain that molded him into the man he became. This is where we find our challenge.

Donny didn’t set out to be the bad guy. People rarely do. Hurt and fear can push people to things they never would have imagined possible. Again, I don’t say that as an excuse to justify wrong actions. There are plenty of people that find something to hold onto, to encourage them to rise above the sad tales of their pasts. Even for those who don’t there is still accountability. But there is a level of accountability for believers as well.

Scripture tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. The New Testament tells us in many different ways to bear with each other in patience and love. Our battle cry when we are faced with the topics of abortion or euthanasia is “God made us all. We’re all loved by Him. We all have a purpose and deserve a chance at life.” It may be right, but what about when we’re faced with someone different than us? Do we cringe and pass to the other side of the street when we see the literally dirty, smelly old man coming? Do we make a moment’s stilted conversation and excuse ourselves as quickly as possible when we come in contact with someone who has a mental challenge, physical defect, or is just plain socially awkward? What about that annoying person who always seems to want to be around us? How do we treat him?

How many have suffered mentally and emotionally at our own hands because we were too uncomfortable to deal with them in love and patience? How many have internalized the pain and poured it out on others, when a simple act of kindness could have given them something to hold onto, could have given them hope? Please understand, I am not saying we are responsible for their actions. Everyone has choices. But we are responsible for our actions, and those actions can cut deeper than we realize.

James 1:27 gives us the definition of pure religion according to God. In addition to living a life that is undefiled, he says it is “to visit widows and orphans in their distress”. How often are we guilty of brushing off the cranky old widow or needy little kid? Of looking only at our own needs and the needs of those in our immediate circle? Micah 6:8 says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” When we as believers start doing justly and loving mercy, when we act in patience and in love, we can become God’s hope for someone who’s hurting. We can’t make them choose the hero’s life over the villain’s life, but we can show them there is a better way. Isn’t it time we did our part to ease and heal the hurts of those God has brought into our lives?

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