Strength for What?

There is nothing weak about God. His love is strong. His wrath is strong. His justice, His light, His grace, everything about Him is so mighty we can’t fathom it.

And God is more than willing to empower us with His strength.

But not so we can spend that strength getting whatever we want. In fact, He may want us to use that strength in a rather surprising way.

[We pray that you will be] strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;

-Colossian 1:11 NKJV

In this passage, Paul describes how he is praying for the Colossian church. (And there are so many wonderful things he prays for them, but I’m trying to keep this concise today.)

He prays that God would strengthen them with all might, according to God’s own glorious power. Does that not sound wonderful?

Then he goes on to say how that power will be used:

To have joy when we’ve been suffering for a long time.

Not just to patiently and miserably endure suffering. But to endure with joy.

The more I think about it, the more I realize I will definitely need God’s own power to succeed in that.

It might not look grand and glorious to the world. It’s not showy strength. Not the kind of strength that features in an action movie.

But it’s a steady, indomitable strength that allows us to rejoice even when we’ve been stuck in a painful situation for so long we hardly remember life before.

That’s God’s strength.

-Miss Darcy

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A Tale of Two Fish

I got my first pet fish a little over a year ago–a gorgeous blue half-moon betta with metallic aqua on his tail. I named him Caspian, after Prince Caspian from Narnia. Cass for short, or for people who couldn’t pronounce Caspian.

I had him almost eleven months before he died. (Amazing how attached you can get to a leetle fish.) I didn’t want that tank to sit empty, so I scrubbed it clean and went to the pet story that very day and bought another betta. I almost bought a red one, but apparently I can’t resist the blue ones. I came home with a dark blue veil-tail, which I named Rillian (after Prince Caspian’s son).

I guess I expected them to be almost identical. A betta fish is a betta fish, right?

But these two fish weren’t the same. They had different personalities.

Yeah, I see you rolling your eyes, but most people acknowledge that dogs have their own personalities, so hang with me a little longer.

Caspian was an arrogant little thing. Loved nothing better than to admire his reflection. If I traced my finger along the outside of his tank, he ignored it. And he hated it when I cleaned his tank. I had to chase him round and round the tank before I could scoop him out into the holding cup. (I always figured he’d work himself into a heart attack, but he never did.) He’d just sit and sulk until I put him back in his freshly cleaned tank.

He had the funniest way of turning his nose up at you. He wasn’t the sort of pet I baby-talked.

Rillian is very personable. When someone puts their face up to the tank, he swims over to say hi. He wiggles and flares his gills and follows your finger along the tank. He’s better at aiming for his food than Caspian was. And he doesn’t mind it when I scoop him out of his tank for cleaning.

Altogether, he’s more approachable. I can call him Rilly sometimes without his being insulted. 😉

So perhaps their “personalities” have to do with the way I interpret their behavior. But the fact is these two fish behave differently.

God cares about His creation so much that He bothered to give two little betta fish different “personalities,” so to speak. Two betta fish that might have died in the hatchery or at the pet store, and absolutely no one would have cared beyond the fact they’d lost a very small amount of cash.

The God who made the stars also cares about little fish no longer than my finger.

He makes them beautiful, and He makes them unique.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God.

“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

-Luke 12:6-7 NKJV (emphasis mine)

-Miss Darcy

Though He Does Not Know It

I used to love to read Leviticus when I was younger. I remember a pastor saying, “If you can’t get to sleep, just read Leviticus.” And we all laughed, but I privately disagreed. I thought all the details of the laws and sacrifices were vastly interesting. (If you want to read yourself to sleep, try the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles. They take a huge amount of concentration to be interesting.) 🙂

But it’s been a while since I visited Leviticus, so in March I went back to see if I still find it fascinating. I do. Almost every chapter, some tiny thing jumps out at me that I hadn’t really thought of before.

Here’s one:

“If a person sins, and commits any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD, though he does not know it, yet he is guilty and shall bear his iniquity.

“And he shall bring to the priest a ram without blemish … as a trespass offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him regarding his ignorance in which he erred and did not know it, and it shall be forgiven him.

“It is a trespass offering; he has certainly trespassed against the LORD.”

-Leviticus 5:17-19 NKJV (emphasis mine)

Even if a person didn’t mean to sin–if they sinned without even realizing it–they were still guilty. God still required a sacrifice to atone for their sinning in ignorance.

Jesus was our ultimate Sacrifice. The final Lamb who died for the sins of mankind.

Including the sins I don’t even realize I’ve committed.

My sinful nature is so much a part of me that sometimes I won’t even realize I’ve sinned. (Maybe I’ll see it later; maybe I won’t.) And think of all the times I know I should do something good and don’t do it–that’s sin, too. (see James 4:17)

Jesus died for those sins.

For all the times my folly and pride and callous sinful nature keep from seeing my sin, Jesus shed His blood.

All these sins I may never specifically seek forgiveness for because I don’t even know I’ve done it–Jesus forgives those.

Somehow that truth hadn’t hit me hard until I read Leviticus. I’d never thought to thank Jesus for bleeding on behalf of all my sins of ignorance.

Don’t we have a wonderful, merciful Savior?

-Miss Darcy

I Will Praise Thee, Lord

(I wrote this a few years ago, but some of it is convicting me anew these days.)

I will praise Thee, LORD, for Thy goodness to me.
My cup cannot contain the joy Thou givest.
From the chains of sin Thou hast redeemed me;
Thou hast set me free to rejoice.
Thou hast ransomed me from the kingdom of darkness
An brought me to dwell in Thy light. 

With infinite wisdom Thou leadest me,
And with love Thou directest my paths.
Thy love for me is deeper than the ocean,
Demanding my devotion with its all-consuming flame. 

O LORD, my heart is Thy temple.
And what is a temple for?
A place to burn sacrifices my heart shall be.
My desires, my needs, my weakness, my strength,
All shall burn on the altar for Thee. 

So may my life bring glory to Thee
Through Thine own unfailing grace.
Thy mercy extendeth beyond my vision;
Thy peace hath given me rest.
With all my soul I praise Thee.

-Miss Darcy

Euthanasia and Crazy Aunts

I did a dumb thing last week–I attempted to watch an old Cary Grant film, Arsenic and Old Lace. I say “dumb” because if I had been completely honest with myself, the premise was against my better judgment. But I’d heard so many people say, “It’s so funny!” “Cary Grant makes such great faces!” “I laughed my head off!”

I like to laugh as much as the next person. I like black-and-whites. So I thought I’d try it. Which shows I’m just as easily influenced as anyone, and I must be more on my guard.

If you’ve never seen the movie, the premise is Cary Grant’s character, Mortimer Brewster, visits his brother and two old-maid aunts in the old family home. Everyone thinks the aunts are sweeter than sugar-syrup, the kindest little old ladies you ever hope to meet. But Mortimer discovers his aunts have a warped sense of kindness.

They have developed a habit of poisoning old men who have no family left because they feel so sorry for the lonely old men. At least, that’s the reason they give Mortimer when he demands to know why there’s a dead body in the windowseat. I didn’t watch the whole movie, so I never discovered if they had another underlying reason.

I admit, the first part of the movie, before we got to the poisoning part, was quite funny. And I agree that Cary Grant makes spectacular faces. Excellent actor.

Yet I couldn’t laugh, uninhibited. I sometimes have a morbid sense of humor, but this went beyond morbid. Crazy old ladies who have now poisoned twelve men is not funny.

These two were insane. Obviously. Some insanity results from chemical imbalance in the brain, trauma to the brain, or deterioration of the brain.

And some insanity is the direct result, or the partial result, of demonic oppression. Serial poisoners are demonically insane.

So I’m watching these two cute old ladies defend their actions to their nephew, apparently convinced that their multiple first-degree murders are perfectly fine. A good deed, in fact. And I’m supposed to laugh at Mortimer’s shock and horror?

I could laugh at Mortimer’s brother who believed he was Teddy Roosevelt. I could laugh at one of the first scenes where the poster-child for bachelordom is getting a marriage license.

Or if the movie had been an exploration into human nature, perhaps I could have watched, albeit in horror, and learned from it what I could. I’ve read the movie’s synopsis, and I think some of the underlying themes do make a good point.

But I was expected to laugh at demonic insanity and the havoc it caused. And I found that slightly horrifying.

All that said, I liked one line in the movie very much.

Mortimer Brewster told his aunts that their “kind deeds” were not only illegal, but also wrongWhich shows you a great deal about society then compared to society now. Our current society seems to believe that if we can just get something legalized, it will change from being wrong to being right.

If the majority decides what’s right and what’s wrong, then the Holocaust wasn’t wrong in Germany because the majority believed it was right. (Or at least said they did, perhaps out of self-preservation.)

And the movie begged the question: Is it ever right to kill a human to save them from suffering?

A child who will be born into an Indian slum–abortion would mean he never has to live in misery.

A girl trapped in sex slavery–the easiest way to “release” her would be to give her enough pills for a fatal overdose.

A soldier rendered a quadriplegic in battle–maybe he wouldn’t want to live without the use of his arms and legs.

An old woman dying from terminal cancer–why bother with sufficient morphine? Just give her too much and let her die.

What those two demonically insane aunts were doing in the movie–we call that euthanasia these days.

Mercy-killing.

We humans–who openly admit that “nobody’s perfect,” who constantly affirm that “everyone makes mistakes”–we think we have the knowledge and wisdom to decide when a person should live or die.

Stupid? I think so.

But maybe those who believe euthanasia is okay can’t help themselves. If serial-killing for the sake of kindness is demonic madness, then supporters of euthanasia must be deceived by the devil. So cold logic, however convincing, may never change their minds.

Their mental eyes have to be opened first. And only one Person can do that. Jesus.

I never thought of that before. I didn’t think of human euthanasia much at all, except to think it’s wrong and “How can people do that?” It never dawned on me as strongly as it did after watching Arsenic and Old Lace that the only way to stop euthanasia is to pray.

To pray God will bind Satan’s deception. To pray God will open people’s eyes so they can truly understand the reasoning against euthanasia. To pray God’s Truth will blaze so brightly it shines through even the blackest of Satan’s deceptions.

-Miss Darcy

A Wise Man’s Face

I make no secret that Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books of the Bible. Last time I read it, I ran across a verse I hadn’t given much thought to:

Who is like a wise man?
And who knows the interpretation of a thing?
A man’s wisdom makes his face shine,
And the sternness of his face is changed.

-Ecclesiastes 8:1 (NKJV)

The second half of the verse stuck out to me.

“A man’s wisdom makes his face shine…”

When we say a person’s face shines, we might say it shines with joy. Or gladness. Or peace.

We never say a person’s face shines with sorrow or pain or misery.

“And the sternness of his face is changed.”

I picked up a thesaurus to look at stern. It can mean “grim; implacable; unrelenting.”

Possible antonyms are “lenient; soft.”

I think we tend to think of wisdom as something that makes you stuffy. Judgmental. Rigid.

Maybe you’ve heard the joke about two boys walking down a country road one day, fishing poles in hand. They passed by a field where a mule looked over the fence at them. And one boy said, “That mule must have my grandfather’s religion.”

Can you picture that grandfather? Long-faced. Disapproving. Never smiling. Never merciful. Oh, he was probably a Bible-reading, God-fearing, prayer-praying, maybe even Jesus-preaching man. Yet was he truly wise?

Maybe as we get wiser, we smile more. We show more grace. We have more joy.

I’m not saying wisdom means you have no strong principles to guide you. No, wisdom has very strong principles. But true wisdom will change you inside so that your face shines.

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

-James 3:17 (NKJV)

So the next time someone gives you advice, study their face. And study their attitudes. If they’re negative and hopeless, scowling and severe, you might need more than a few grains of salt to go with that advice.

Because true wisdom makes its owner’s face shine.

-Miss Darcy

This Present Age

The sermon I heard on Sunday was for me. So many things the pastor said blessed me, encouraged me, and challenged me. But today I’ll just share one thing he said.

The Christian’s ultimate purpose is not to live in heaven.

The Christian’s ultimate purpose is to bring a little piece of heaven to this earth.

When I die, I’m going to see my Savior Jesus face to face. I won’t have to fight sin any longer. I will know my God as I’ve not been able to know Him on this earth.

But.

Just because I’m still on this earth doesn’t mean I don’t know God now. I know His grace, His power, His light, His holiness. I know the joy of being in His presence even though I cannot see Him. I know the King of Heaven.

So my purpose is to live under the laws of my King, for I am a citizen of His Kingdom, even though I do not currently dwell there. That way, the citizens of this other land where I dwell–a.k.a. the world–can see a bit of what heaven looks like.

This morning I read in Galatians:

who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,

-Galatians 1:4 (NKJV)

Jesus’ sacrifice did much more than save us from sin’s punishment.

He delivered us from “this present evil age.”

And it is evil, wouldn’t you agree? But, though we live here among it for now, it need not have power over us. Jesus can deliver us, and will deliver us when we ask.

I love that word, deliver. It means: “To release or rescue from bondage, danger, or evil of any kind; set free.” Is that not glorious?

Also, did you catch the last phrase in that verse? “According to the will of our God and Father.” It is never God’s will that we be not delivered from this present evil age. Not later. Now.

Mind you, in 1 Corinthians we find that:

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

-1 Corinthians 15:19 (NKJV)

Christians do suffer in this life, and when nothing else can lift our spirits, we look to our hope after death. One day, I will struggle with sin no longer. One day, my body will not fail me. One day, I will have rest and peace and joy unhindered. One day, I will commune with God face to face.

That hope is the culmination, not the beginning, of our deliverance from this present evil age.

In that reality, we press on. We don’t hide from the evil of this present age. We know we’ve been delivered.

And we want to share that deliverance with anyone who seeks it.

-Miss Darcy