Posts Tagged ‘truth’


After Jeremiah tells God’s people all the specifics of their sin, he reminds them how they had mocked, dismissed, abused, and marked all the true prophets he had sent to warn and correct them as useless exaggerators.

 The people’s attitude was this: Surely God won’t care about our sin.  Surely the true prophets are telling lies.  We prefer false prophets…the ones who tell us everything we like to hear.  We won’t be punished.  We can do whatever we want.  God doesn’t mind.  He probably doesn’t even see.  Go away, truth-teller.  You’re nobody and we don’t need to listen to your drama.

The second portion of Jeremiah 5, from verses 14-31, gives us more of a look into God’s own heart over his people’s sin and their refusal to hear truth.  Verse 14 begins with “Therefore…”  It says this:

“Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of hosts: Because you have spoken this word, behold, I am making my words in your mouth a fire, and this people wood, and the fire shall consume them.”   ~Jeremiah 5:14

Therefore, in other words, because of all those specific sins you are engaged in that I just rebuked you about, here’s what God is going to do.  God tells his prophet that his words, which are actually God’s words, will become a fire.  The people he speaks them to will be as wood and Jeremiah’s words will consume them.  Matthew Henry comments, “The word of God will certainly be too hard for those that contend with it.”  

Here, God was encouraging Jeremiah.  Often, those whom God calls to speak truth where lies prevail have God alone as their encouragement.  He is tender to those whom he calls to a ministry of difficult speech and subsequent rejection.  Jeremiah has doubtless already endured shame and reproach for speaking God’s true words. Therefore, God is very tender to place extra honor upon him and his words promising that they, nor his suffering on their account, will be in vain or unprofitable.  Jeremiah, your words, which are actually my words, those words are going to be a fire.  They are going to accomplish much and they are going to consume the enemies of my truth.  Trust me.

Consider the prophet.  Consider his position.  He only want to serve the Lord.  He has been given very specific words and a very specific task.  It is not an easy or pleasant job.  He has to tell everyone he knows the truth about their sin.  He has to warn them about what is to come if they don’t listen.  And they don’t listen.  They never listen.  They hate him for the truth he tells.  Still, God continues to instruct and encourage him in his duties. Keep talking, Jeremiah.  These are my words.  These are my people.  You just say what I tell you.

Show me a man called to prophetic ministry and I will show a man who grieves.  He grieved for his people who refuse to repent and be saved.  He grieved for their sin.  He grieved because he knew what was coming.  He grieved because with every painful effort of love he gave, they hated him even more.  It’s hard to love people who continually reject you.  But when you’re his servant, that’s the hand you are dealt.  You can’t stop loving them and you can’t make them listen to the truth.  This is the heart of God.  God grieves over all of those he loves, but who repeatedly reject and abandon him.  People like Jeremiah get to feel the sorrow of the Lord and know what it is to deeply love those who reject and abandon you for doing so faithfully.

Yes, when we serve the Lord faithfully, we get to suffer just like him.  We get to!  It’s a privilege.  We get to feel what he felt.  We get to grieve over what he grieves over.  We get to mourn with him, hurt with him, cry with him, and share our sorrow with him.  No one else gets to do that.  If that is not a privilege I don’t know what is.

How close do you have to be to someone for them to allow you to see their grief?  How intimate must your relationship be in order to share the deepest pain in your heart together?  There is no deeper connection than that.  When we grieve over Our Lord’s grief, we grieve together.  We know him in the closest way possible.  I can scarcely think of any greater honor.

Jeremiah goes on to tell the people what is coming if they don’t repent.  God is bringing a fierce enemy – a nation of tough, mighty warriors to destroy your harvest, your children, your flocks, your vines, and tear down your fortified cities.  Everything they loved and trusted in was going to be destroyed – save a few.  God said it would not be a complete annihilation, but a few would be spared.  Then he asks them some interesting questions.  Here’s what he says:

“Do you not fear me?  declares the Lord.  Do you not tremble before me?  I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they, roar they cannot pass over it.” ~Jeremiah 5:22

Don’t you guys know who I am?  Do you not fear me?  Are you not afraid?  I created the ocean!  Even the waves, which, by the way, you guys all fear greatly and which have unmitigated force and power beyond your own, even they cannot overcome or rebel against me.  I own them!  I made them!  I have absolute, omnipotent power over the entire sea; the entire creation!  Yet, you, you who claim to worship me do not respect me and refuse to hear my true words of warning and coming judgment?  Aren’t you afraid?  I AM!

But, though they had eyes, they did not see.  Though they had ear, they did not hear.  This people had stubborn and rebellious hearts.  They love false prophets and lies.  they think not about the fear they ought to have of God.

“Shall I not punish them for these things?…” Jeremiah 5:29

He shall.  He did.  He will.  Remember that.


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“And this is the verdict: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.” ~John 3:19

Most people would not call a movie about an imprisoned serial killer “light,” but I’m not most people.  The new release, Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer,  exposes the evils of an abortion-ridden culture, and it does so in some unexpected ways.  This movie shines a light on the last choice any woman ever wants to have to make, and it takes great pains to maintain the dignity of women who find themselves in a situation where they don’t feel they have any other options.

The Gosnell movie did not show us a lot of day to day business at the clinic.  We didn’t really see a lot of blood and gore or agonizing women in premature labor.  We saw only snippets of patients and procedures. The entire movie ran from the perspective of the police and the District Attorney.  I went in expecting a medical menagerie and got served a crime scene investigation/court trial.

What I saw in that particular type of portrayal of this horrific story was that, in a sea of thousands of people who saw and knew the evils being done to women and children in this case over the course of three decades, there were two or three who cared; who dug deep; who pursued justice at all personal and political costs.  In a world full of irresponsible authorities who avert their eyes when difficulty comes at a call of personal sacrifice, that, friends, is one of the most honorable, noble, and rare traits ever found.

The film provokes it’s watchers to consider whether unwanted people are still people; whether mistreatment, murders, and even full-scale massacres are acceptable because someone else requested and paid for them; whether women are really better off when they choose to eliminate their children; whether abortion is truly a liberating “choice” or whether it is a life sentence to an end of guilt, shame, or even, in some cases, death.

At one point, the film highlights what “normal” abortion clinics do for babies born alive, and, in that moment, we all are awakened not to how different it is from Gosnell’s procedures, but how tragically similar.  Though not on trial in a court of law, yet, all are indicted along with him in that moment.

The movie shows how biased the media is on this subject by depicting images of the courtroom void of news reporters and any media presence at all at the trial.  It teaches us how true it is that the problem with humans is not that we do not have enough light, but that we love darkness.  Even when darkness is clearly exposed, most simply pretend not to see.

“Gosnell” was not a story about abortion as much as it was a story about justice – justice for impoverished women; justice for living, moving newborn babies; justice for serial killers; justice for hundreds of millions of lives snuffed out under the guise of modern medicine.  As we saw Dr. Gosnell’s endangered pet turtles throughout the movie,  we are reminded that justice is both endangered and, all too often, quite slow in coming in our world today.  It will not be so in the after world.

In conclusion, Dr. Kermit Gosnell is sentenced to life in prison.  Did you catch that?  A man who sentenced so many to an untimely and unholy death was punished by being afforded life.  Life in prison is still life.  If there was one line that echoed loudly in my mind from this film, it was the concluding words scrolling at the end informing us that an administer of thousands of deaths was himself sentenced to life.  Life.  He was given life.  Guilty as the day is long, even the long arm of the law and worldly justice honors life in such a degree that they know better than to take it away from another.


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Entering Esther chapter 7, while Haman’s wife is still telling him he is going to lose (imagine that), the king’s men come to get him for the second feast Esther has prepared for he and the king.

The king again asks Esther’s request.  This time she reveals Haman’s dubious plot to kill the Jews.  She courageously asks for her life and the life of her people.  She even goes so far as to say they would accept being slaves if it meant honor and advantage to the king, but Haman’s plan was not slavery, rather, annihilation.

The king angrily asks who would plot and plan such a thing.  She points right at the man sitting across from the both of them: Haman.  Remember that no one knew until this very moment that Esther was Jewish.

The king is so irate that he takes a walk outside in his garden.  Haman was literally his  best friend.  He is likely considering how foolish he’d been to approve of something without considering the false allegations Haman had made against this entire people group.  Nevertheless, this guy has to choose between his best friend and justice for innocent people; His best friend and the truth; His best friend and his queen.  His idea of who his best friend was supposed to be and who Haman actually was.  It’s a difficult and traumatizing place to be.

Not only that, but this king has a temper.  Remember Queen Vashti?  He has zero tolerance for the usurping of his God-given authority.  He has some serious righteous anger when people close to him start to think they are in charge above him.

Meanwhile, Haman begs for his life from Queen Esther.  The king walks back in, confronts him on his improper etiquette, and further indicts and accuses him.  One of the king’s men tells the king of the gallows Haman had built for Mordecai, the man he just got done honoring for the sparing of his life.  That was the final blow.  The king said, “Hang him on that.” 

Esther and Mordecai’s courage saved them and their entire nation from sure destruction.

The pride of the self-interested, self-proclaimed kings inside someone else’s kingdom always cause themselves a great fall.

Who is king in your world?  Do you have citizenship in the kingdom of heaven where Christ is king or do you have your own kingdom where you pretend to be king in his stead?  Do you make your own rules and honor yourself or do you obey Him and live to honor him?  Pride and self-interest will destroy anyone it masters.  We serve a jealous king.  If he is ruling and reigning, we cannot.

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Esther 3 gives us a better picture of the character of both Mordecai and Haman.  When we consider who they are based on their respective actions, we see clearly who is really who.

Notice that it is after Mordecai proves faithful to the king that Haman is promoted.  The text tells us that Mordecai would not bow down to Haman.  While it can be quite difficult to watch unfaithful peers get rewards when you are the one who actually deserves them, this was not the reason Mordecai failed to pay homage to this man.  No.  Mordecai had a God who forbid him to worship or bow to anyone besides him.  In fact, all the Jews had that same law.  Funny that he’s literally the only one in the entire kingdom who obeyed it.

Anyway, Mordecai refuses to bow and thus shows us that his service to the king stopped when it impinged upon his service to God.  It also tells us that his revealing of the assassination plot in chapter 2 was not a self-serving act of brown-nosing, rather, a genuine act of service and faithfulness to the king.  We know this because when given the opportunity to bow and worship the king’s leading man, he wholly refuses, even at the urging of many peers.  Mordecai wasn’t a suck-up.  He was an honorable truth-teller.

Esther 3:4 tells us that his peers tried to get him to bow day after day and he continuously refused.  He may have been protecting Esther by telling her to keep her Jewish heritage under wraps, but he himself was surely not afraid to let his faith be known and observed by all.  Eventually, his peers told Haman about Mordecai’s failure to bow to him.

Verse 5 tells us that Haman was “filled with fury” – so much so that he hatched a plot to annihilate every last Jew because of it.  Well, because of Mordecai and because there was a long time hatred between the Jews and the Agagites since the time of King Saul.  Let’s consider Haman’s character for a moment.

Haman was promoted, yet fearfully insecure and jealous.  He was holding on to an old rivalry rather than living in the present.  Despite the fact that every other person in the kingdom appeared to be giving him honor including his king, that wasn’t enough.  Mordecai’s insurrection completely undid him to the point of mass murder plotting against an entire race.

So, Haman did what any unstable villian would do – he darkened the people he personally hated to the one with the most earthly authority.  He misled the king to believe that the Jews were lawbreakers, hindrances, and problem-causers.  (We see the exact same behavior with the jealous officials in Daniel’s story.)  Not only does he discredit the Jews, he pays an astronomical amount of money to the king as a bribe to seal the deal for their extermination.  The sum given by Haman to the king was said to be equivalent to two-thirds of the annual revenue of the Persian Empire at the time.  Little wonder why he is named “the enemy of the Jews” in verse 10.

The king takes the bait and signs, seals, and delivers a decree to kill ’em all to each and every province in his kingdom.  Matthew Henry notes, “No crime is laid to their (the Jews’) charge; it is not pretended that they were obnoxious to the public justice, nor is any condition offered, upon performance of which they might have their lives spared; but die they must, without mercy.”  Such is the lot of all those who fall on the wrong side of justice with corrupt authorities.  There is never a valid charge, never an honest explanation for the brutal treatment given.  When those with authority decide who they dislike, any reason or lack thereof for ostracism, excommunication, or even extermination will do.

The result of Haman’s plot is confusion.  Wherever there is jealous, insecure, corrupt, abusive leadership, there will be confusion.  The Enemy loves confusion.  But Mordecai’s courage proves that God will use a single, solitary objector in times like these.  As the old adage goes, right is right even if everyone is against it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is for it.

Never, ever be afraid to stand up for the truth in the face of a world of liars.  God will surely use you if you do.

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My husband taught on Colossians 4 this past Sunday and there were a few things I wanted to study further and comment on because of their great importance.  After his discourse on interpersonal and familial relationships, Paul begins chapter four with a few last commands and then mentions quite a few people.  Being that most of them have weird names and most of us generally gloss right over the closing salutations of epistles, I want to look at those people specifically and glean some wisdom as to why he does this.

Firstly, Paul tells the Colossians to pray.  He instructs them to be both watchful and thankful in prayer.  He asks them to pray for he and his companions who are in prison for preaching the gospel, and especially that they would have opportunities to share the gospel.  He also asks that they would pray that he would be able to convey the message with clarity.

Next, he tells them to be wise – especially toward outsiders.  He is speaking of those outside the faith, also known as unbelievers.  He instructs them to always speak with grace, tastefully, if you will.  The reason he gives is so that they will know how to answer everyone.

Now, before he closes his letter, Paul begins to name names.  He mentions more than a few individuals and a couple groups of people.  It is quite important that we consider these people, who they were, and try to understand why he does this.  Why are these names included in the sacred scripture?  Let’s see.

The first person mentioned is Tychicus.  Paul said he was sending this man to tell the Colossians how he was – to give a report on Paul who was, of course, in prison for preaching the gospel.  He includes a man named Onesimus with Tychicus.  He calls Onesimus a faithful and beloved brother and adds that Onesimus is “one of you.”

Onesimus.  Now here’s a guy Paul devoted a whole book – Philemon – to.  The whole whopping one chapter of Philemon is a matter of Paul vouching for Onesimus.  Why does he do this?  He does it because Onesimus had been Philemon’s slave.  Onesimus had run away.  He had been a slave.  He’d done wrong in his past.  But he had been converted to Christ and Paul had discipled him.  He had ministered to Paul in prison and Paul knew first hand that Onesimus was a changed man, that he was trustworthy, and that he was a true brother in Christ.  Paul also knew that Philemon would not take well to Onesimus’s return.  He knew that it was very likely that he’d be looked down upon, excluded from fellowship, and thought ill of when he returned to Philemon.  Therefore Paul sends a letter to instruct Philemon to accept this man.  He does so once again here in Colossians.  Paul goes to great pains to include and honor Onesimus in the church, even after all the failure of his past.

It is very important that we get this.  It is important that we understand why Paul did this.  Why was this so incredibly important to Paul – so much so that he makes special mention of this man not once, but twice in the epistles?

Paul was once like Onesimus.  You and I were once like Onesimus.  Lost sinners do wrong things to others.  When we become Christians, people do not automatically believe that we are changed.  Church people, on many occasions, do not feel particularly inclined to include us after we have just come out of grievous sin and rolled on into their fellowship.   They’re scared.  They’re proud.  They’re self-protective.  Paul knew how people are – even Christian people.  Good leaders understand the difficulty diversity brings.  So, instead of excusing the suspicion and prejudice he knew his buddies were going to have against this man, he takes special time to honor and publicly vouch for him calling them all to grace, peace, acceptance, and inclusion of this particular brother in Christ.

Barnabas did as much for Paul in Acts 9.  Remember, Paul was a murderer, a Christian hater, an abusive religious leader.  Not many Christians were real anxious to trust and include him just because he said he knew Jesus now.  But Barnabas stood next to Paul.  He did what Paul is doing for Onesimus here.  Paul knew how it felt to be the one under a cloud of constant suspicion and mistrust.  Therefore, he instructs his church to include this man.  What a beautiful picture of grace.

Matthew Henry says this: “The meanest circumstance of life, and greatest wickedness of former life, make no difference in the spiritual relation among sincere Christians; they partake of the same privileges, and are entitled to the same regards.”

Next, we have Aristarchus.  Aristarchus was just mentioned as a fellow prisoner.

Then we have Mark, the cousin of Barnabas.  Remember, at one point Paul had big issues with Mark.  Mark had deserted while they were preaching the gospel and went home.  The next time when Mark wanted to go on a mission with Paul, Paul absolutely refused to take him.  Here, though, we see great evidence that Paul and Mark were completely reconciled.  By making mention of Mark here, and even giving great recommendation and honor to Mark in view of the churches, Paul proves his forgiving spirit and that reconciliation was full and final.

This is what Christians are called to do even when disagreements are sharp and strong.  This is the gospel applied to our relationships.  Christians are not at liberty to stay at odds with one another no matter how severe the disagreement is.  We are called to reconcile – and reconcile to the point of previous peace or better.  This is a very important principle found in Paul’s mention of Mark here.

Next we have a man named Jesus who was called Justus of whom little is known and then Epaphras.  Epaphras is honored for his faithful prayers for the church.  He was actually the founder of the Colossian Church.  Then, we have Luke the doctor and Demas mentioned.  Demas later forsook Paul and in 2 Timothy 4:10. Paul calls Demas out by name for his sin.

Now this, remember is the same guy who just instructed his church to always make sure their conversations were seasoned with salt and full of grace – especially with outsiders/unbelievers – yet he writes his very public letter to Timothy that this particular guy forsook him and states his specific sin – loving the world.  The fact that Paul mentions Demas here with honor tells us that Paul had no personal issue with Demas before he called out his sin and his name individually for all to know.  There’s a lesson here.  It is not wrong to call out sin in leadership – even by name when necessary.  (See 1 Timothy 5:20)

Next we have Nympha.  Paul greets Nympha and describes her as one who has a church in her house.  Gasp!  A girl!  With a church!  In her house?!  What?!! Yep.  I think that greeting speaks for itself.

Finally, Paul mentions Archippus.  Here is an interesting instruction.  Paul tells the members of the Colossian Church to admonish this minister – their minister!  The people are called to admonish their leader and remind him to make certain he is working diligently for the gospel.  Imagine that.  Wow.  Kinda puts to rest some misconceptions of the religious rules we are indoctrinated with today, huh?

I don’t know about you but I am just amazed at the amount of wisdom found just in the listing of these names in this ending salutation.  There is great wisdom, instruction, and importance in understanding who these people were and why Paul takes the time to mention them.  They are thus:

  1. Your past should not dictate your future within God’s church.  You can do great things for God even if you were the worst kind of sinner in the lowest social position!  Good leaders will build up the lowly and call others to do the same.
  2. Your disputes with other believers, regardless of how sharp, can and should be fully reconciled.  Restoration among all believers is the gospel lived out.  
  3. Present good standing in the church does not excuse poor future behavior and sin.  There should be no good old boy system within God’s church!  Good leaders are never partial and they give honor and call out sin as needed no matter who is involved.
  4. Girls can have churches!  Churches can be in houses!  Hallelujah!
  5. Members can and should admonish their leaders. 

Lastly, Paul concludes with asking the Colossians to, “remember my chains.”  Think of me.  Pray for me.  Be faithful.  Remember my suffering for Christ.  Remember me and remember why I’m here.  We should all remember those who suffer and are persecuted for the sake of Jesus Christ as well.  Amen.


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The three “R’s” used to be readin’, ‘wrightin, and ‘rithmetic, right?  In home school, at least at my house, we have a different set of “R’s.” They are respect, reasoning, righteousness, and responsibility.  If I succeed at teaching them those things, I have zero doubt that my kids will succeed in whatever it is they choose to do in life.  Even if their paths and choices lead to failure, they will succeed in character, integrity, and wisdom if just these four things are instilled in them.

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan!’ For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'” ~Matthew 4:10

“What?!  Why would he say that?!” exclaims my indignant nine year-old.


“Why would Jesus tell the devil to worship God?!  He will never do it!!”

“Just because we know someone is not going to listen does not mean God does not want us to tell them the truth.  Truth has two purposes.  One is grace for those who will listen and change by it.  The other is condemnation for those who will refuse it.

In other words, Jesus’ faithfulness in telling the truth of the scriptures to those who do not listen is actually what he will point to when he judges them.  It is not just sin that will condemn people, it will be also the saving grace God gave that was refused.

 The only sin listed in the Bible as unforgivable is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.  What that means is that when God shows up to teach us and offers His truth to us by grace and we disbelieve, dismiss, and ignore it, we cannot be forgiven because we have pulled the rug out from under the means by which he saves.  If we refuse the Spirit of God when it speaks plain truth to us, we stiff arm God’s grace and we remain in stubborn, willful darkness.

We must learn to love the truth, girls.  No matter how uncomfortable, difficult, or painful it may be for us to accept, we must always embrace truth.  Never refuse or put off the truth of God when you learn it.  The Bible says, “Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.  For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.  Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now its the day of salvation.” ~2 Corinthians 6:1-2

There is a particular urgency to the truth.  Today is the day.  Don’t put it off.  Don’t wait one more second.  Take the truth to heart, now!  Today!  Do what is right, right away!  That is how we are to react when met with the truth.  Jesus is the Truth and he is the Way.  If we are following him, we must obey the truth, and obey it quickly.

The next day Bible class resumes.  We read Revelation chapter 16.

“Then I heard the angel of the waters say to God: ‘Holy One, you are the One who is and who was.  You are right to decide to punish these evil people.  They have spilled the blood of your holy people and your prophets.  Now you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.’  And I heard the altar say: ‘Yes, Lord God All-Powerful, the way you punish evil people is right and fair.'” ~Revelation 16:5-7

This time my seven year-old protests.

“Doesn’t God say ‘Don’t do bad things back to people when they do bad to you?!’ Why is he doing bad to the bad people?  He is disobeying himself!!!”

“God tells us not to take revenge.  The reason we are not allowed to take revenge is because he is going to.  He tells us not to repay evil with evil because if we do, we will be judged, too.  God has to punish evil and he will punish evil because he is just and fair.  He punished Jesus for our sins but those who do not love and obey Jesus will get their own punishment.”

“Education was, in fact, so important to the Puritans that it was required.  By 1642, parents were required to teach their young children to read so they could know the Scriptures…The purpose of teaching was to learn the Word of God and defeat Satan, who was the deluder.  So the law to teach was called the ‘Old Deluder Satan Act.'” ~Linda Lacour Hobar, Mystery of History, Vol. III

My lessons for the week are very clear.

1. Tell the truth even when your hearers refuse to listen.

2.Trust God to judge evil.

3.Remember that it is parents who are responsible for their children’s education.

4. The ultimate goal of educating children is knowing and understanding the Scriptures.


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He calls me on his birthday.  Seventy-one today.  A true father to the fatherless, he cares to listen.  He asks my condition.  He encourages, advises, and patiently instructs.  Here is a man who loves unconditionally.  I know,  not because he says it; I know because he does it.

If only we knew how much we are loved.  If only we loved like Dennis.  What grace!

Flooding in comes all the grand examples of the providence of God.  The red birds’ appearing.  The chance meeting with Daddy’s best friend.  The parable of daily bread read to a dying woman after holding out my empty hand repeating softly, “I trust you, Lord.”  The tender, unmistakable instructions to eat; to rest.  The dinner date planned months prior.  The revelatory dream.  The friend who just happened to be there.  The song that prepared.  The woman with the expensive perfume.  The beatitudes.  The movie.

Yes, the movie.  Collateral Beauty.  Pain is not collateral damage.  Pain is collateral beauty.  If we hurt, we know we love.  We have love.  We share love.  We do love.  Even the deepest pain reflects our grandiose blessedness.

If only we knew how much we are loved.  If only we loved like Dennis; like God.  His love is everywhere; in everything; always.  Even all that is wrong in the world proves that true love is real, that injustice is wrong, that righteousness is worth striving for, and that pain has great and beautiful purpose.

When a man cannot so much as speak for how much he hurts; how much he loves, therein is the power of God.  Pain is not collateral damage.  Pain is collateral beauty.  My Lord, I trust you.  My God, how great Thou art!

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