Tag Archives: Devotion

Two examples of authentic love, one from a woman, one from a man

Time for examples of real, self-sacrificial love
Time for examples of real, self-sacrificial love

Actually, there are 3 stories – Dina added one in the comments which I have copied onto the bottom of the main post.

Let’s start with the most self-sacrificial example first. This one made my toes curl in admiration.

From Life News:

When St. Louis mother Cara Combs was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma while she was pregnant with her fourth child, she was given the choice of having treatment or saving her own life. She chose to save her baby. She decided to put off treatment in favor of giving birth at the 28th week to give her baby girl a chance to live.

Sadly, Combs died Tuesday morning — three days after giving birth.

In deciding to reject treatment, Combs posted the following on Facebook:

I feel it’s time to post this because I know a lot of information is going around. Last week I was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma. I am also 25 weeks pregnant. I can’t begin treatment while pregnant so I have some tough decisions to make. Against the advice of my oncologist, I am choosing to delay my treatment for three weeks in order to get the baby to 28 weeks. There is no good decision here. We will both be fighting for our lives and I feel incredibly guiltily about that. I saw a dermatologist last year and she didn’t find anything concerning. Even my oncologist can’t find the source. At 38 you don’t expect to find out that you are dying. It definitely puts things into perspective. All I can say is enjoy every minute with your kids and don’t stress about little things. The baby will probably be born the first week of December and I will start treatment 48 hours later. I know we are in for some big upcoming battles. Thank you for all of the support we have received so far. It is very much appreciated!

Tragically, Roy Combs had to post the message on the family’s GoFundMe page this week about losing his wife:

I wanted to let everyone know that we lost Cara Walters Combs this morning. I don’t have to tell you how great of a person she was. She will be missed by all. I always knew she was destined for greater things. We all have a perfect angel looking over us. She was the strongest person I ever met and the best wife and mother. She sacrificed everything so her legacy could live on. Thank you all for your support and prayers. She was my everything and always will be.

In similar cases, doctors often suggest an abortion, but, as studies show, there is typically no need for women to destroy the life of their unborn child to save their own. Her story story confirms what research has shown: women who are pregnant and battling breast cancer don’t need to have an abortion.

She made the ultimate sacrifice for her unborn child – she wanted to be sure that she would not hurt her child with chemotherapy. Now, can we at least agree that this was a more noble choice than abortion? Not obligatory, for sure. But heroic. That’s the kind of woman I would want to get up and go to work for every day. Someone who thinks about the needs of others first.

Anyway, on to part two!

This one is from MercatorNet.

And they write:

A few weeks ago Shannon mentioned the high numbers of divorces around the world. (She even included a colourful map – I’m such a cartophile…) She wisely noted that dedication is probably the key for a happy marriage, if you are prepared to be in for the long haul from the start then you’re more likely to work through the hard times rather than cut and run.

Along such lines, watch the above video entitled “What is love?”. It shows the love of a man (Bill) for his wife of 50 years (Glad) who has advanced alzeihmer’s disease. God forbid that anything should happen to her, but I hope that I will be able to serve my wife with the love, cheerfulness and dedication that Bill demonstrates in this video. If love is willing the good of another then Bill is a great exemplar of love. It is a great antitode to today’s “me-first-and-foremost” mentality and culture. It is also the (hard) answer to today’s high divorce rates. Perhaps with a few more Bills in the world that map in Shannon’s post will become less red…just something to think about this Advent.

Indeed.

If you are looking for someone to marry, look for someone who is good at dealing with the needs of other people. Someone who doesn’t mind responsibilities, expectations and obligations. Good news for those people, though. You can break that self-centeredness by doing things you don’t feel like doing. You have to train yourself to not cut and run when things get difficult. Doing whatever you feel like doing is bad training for marriage. Doing things for others that you don’t feel like doing is good training for marriage. Fortunately, there are lots of positive messages about self-denial and self-sacrifice in the Bible. Those can really help you if you are unable to resist the pull of fun and thrills.

Here is a comment that my good friend Dina had about the first story:

As you know, I am a midwife. I once looked after a woman with cancer that was diagnosed during the pregnancy. She refused treatment to help baby Grace come safely into the world. They had tried for 12 years to have a baby. The pregnancy made her cancer worse as it was an oestrogen based tumour, and she died when Grace was 10 days old and in the special care baby unit.

I remember wheeling her through on her bed to the baby unit so she could have a cuddle with Grace. She said to me “I would save Grace’s life over mine every time” the morning she died.

I get a Christmas card and a picture of her every year. Grace is 11 now, and I will never forget her mother’s determination, and the strength she found to live long enough to see her born safely.

I read a lot of military history, searching for examples of bravery and courage to humble me. It’s easy for me to think that men are the only ones who are self-sacrificial because that’s who I read about most. But clearly, women love self-sacrificially as well, and sometimes paying the ultimate price.

Finally, here is some good advice from the Bible for everyone to think about:

Phil 2:3-8:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Remember, everyone is made in God’s image, and you can love them. It’s easier if they’re  lovable, of course – not everyone is safe to love.

Two examples of authentic love, one from a woman, one from a man

What do white roses mean?
Time for examples of real, self-sacrificial love

Actually, there are 3 stories – Dina added one in the comments which I have copied onto the bottom of the main post.

Let’s start with the most self-sacrificial example first. This one made my toes curl in admiration.

From Life News:

When St. Louis mother Cara Combs was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma while she was pregnant with her fourth child, she was given the choice of having treatment or saving her own life. She chose to save her baby. She decided to put off treatment in favor of giving birth at the 28th week to give her baby girl a chance to live.

Sadly, Combs died Tuesday morning — three days after giving birth.

In deciding to reject treatment, Combs posted the following on Facebook:

I feel it’s time to post this because I know a lot of information is going around. Last week I was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma. I am also 25 weeks pregnant. I can’t begin treatment while pregnant so I have some tough decisions to make. Against the advice of my oncologist, I am choosing to delay my treatment for three weeks in order to get the baby to 28 weeks. There is no good decision here. We will both be fighting for our lives and I feel incredibly guiltily about that. I saw a dermatologist last year and she didn’t find anything concerning. Even my oncologist can’t find the source. At 38 you don’t expect to find out that you are dying. It definitely puts things into perspective. All I can say is enjoy every minute with your kids and don’t stress about little things. The baby will probably be born the first week of December and I will start treatment 48 hours later. I know we are in for some big upcoming battles. Thank you for all of the support we have received so far. It is very much appreciated!

Tragically, Roy Combs had to post the message on the family’s GoFundMe page this week about losing his wife:

I wanted to let everyone know that we lost Cara Walters Combs this morning. I don’t have to tell you how great of a person she was. She will be missed by all. I always knew she was destined for greater things. We all have a perfect angel looking over us. She was the strongest person I ever met and the best wife and mother. She sacrificed everything so her legacy could live on. Thank you all for your support and prayers. She was my everything and always will be.

In similar cases, doctors often suggest an abortion, but, as studies show, there is typically no need for women to destroy the life of their unborn child to save their own. Her story story confirms what research has shown: women who are pregnant and battling breast cancer don’t need to have an abortion.

She made the ultimate sacrifice for her unborn child – she wanted to be sure that she would not hurt her child with chemotherapy. Now, can we at least agree that this was a more noble choice than abortion? Not obligatory, for sure. But heroic. That’s the kind of woman I would want to get up and go to work for every day. Someone who thinks about the needs of others – not someone like this woman who would not resist her own selfish desires.

Anyway, on to part two!

This one is from MercatorNet, and it’s their most popular story for this week:

And they write:

A few weeks ago Shannon mentioned the high numbers of divorces around the world. (She even included a colourful map – I’m such a cartophile…) She wisely noted that dedication is probably the key for a happy marriage, if you are prepared to be in for the long haul from the start then you’re more likely to work through the hard times rather than cut and run.

Along such lines, watch the above video entitled “What is love?”. It shows the love of a man (Bill) for his wife of 50 years (Glad) who has advanced alzeihmer’s disease. God forbid that anything should happen to her, but I hope that I will be able to serve my wife with the love, cheerfulness and dedication that Bill demonstrates in this video. If love is willing the good of another then Bill is a great exemplar of love. It is a great antitode to today’s “me-first-and-foremost” mentality and culture. It is also the (hard) answer to today’s high divorce rates. Perhaps with a few more Bills in the world that map in Shannon’s post will become less red…just something to think about this Advent.

Indeed.

If you are looking for someone to marry, look for someone who is good at dealing with the needs of other people. Someone who doesn’t mind responsibilities, expectations and obligations. Good news for those people, though. You can break that self-centeredness by doing things you don’t feel like doing. You have to train yourself to not cut and run when things get difficult. Doing whatever you feel like doing is bad training for marriage. Doing things for others that you don’t feel like doing is good training for marriage. Fortunately, there are lots of positive messages about self-denial and self-sacrifice in the Bible. Those can really help you if you are unable to resist the pull of fun and thrills.

Here is a comment that Dina (yes, that Dina) left on the post, which I have copied here:

As you know, I am a midwife. I once looked after a woman with cancer that was diagnosed during the pregnancy. She refused treatment to help baby Grace come safely into the world. They had tried for 12 years to have a baby. The pregnancy made her cancer worse as it was an oestrogen based tumour, and she died when Grace was 10 days old and in the special care baby unit.

I remember wheeling her through on her bed to the baby unit so she could have a cuddle with Grace. She said to me “I would save Grace’s life over mine every time” the morning she died.

I get a Christmas card and a picture of her every year. Grace is 11 now, and I will never forget her mother’s determination, and the strength she found to live long enough to see her born safely.

Finally, here is some good advice from the Bible for everyone to think about:

Phil 2:3-8:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Remember, everyone is made in God’s image, and you can love them. It’s easier if they’re  lovable, of course – not everyone is safe to love.

Don’t let unmet needs block you from honoring your obligations to God

Theology that hits the spot
Theology that hits the spot

I’m still reading the devotional book (Paul Tripp’s “New Morning Mercies”) that Dina asked me to read. I will be reading it all year. I find that about one devotion a week is useful, the rest are fluff. However, because she is willing to keep asking me how I am doing with it, and also listen to me complain and criticize, I am keeping up with it.

I wanted to blog about the March 17th devotion.

Here it is:

If you put too many things in your need category, you will end up frustrated with life, hurt by others, and doubting God’s goodness.

It really is one of the sloppiest words used in human culture. If need means “essential for life,” then the vast majority of the things we say that we need we don’t actually need. You know this if you have children or are around children. Let’s say you’re a parent and you have taken your child to the mall (which is your first mistake). As you’re walking through the mall, your child sees the sneaker store and immediately makes a left-hand turn. Now, with nose pressed against the window of the store, he says, “Mom, I neeeeeeeed those sneakers.” You look down at his feet, which are encased in perfectly good shoes, and you say: “No, I’m not getting you those sneakers. You already have perfectly good shoes.” Now, when you say this, your child does not think: “What a wise mother I have been blessed with. She has seen through my distorted sense of need, has recognized selfish desire, and has lovingly rescued me from me.” No, your child lashes out against you: “You always say ‘no’ to me. I don’t know why I have to have the one mom who hates sneakers.” Then your child refuses to relate to you for the rest of the time that you are in the mall.

When you tell yourself that something is a need, three things folio’ First, you feel entitled to the thing, because, after all, it is a need. Second, because it is a need, you feel it’s your right to demand it. And third, you then judge the love of another person by his or her willingness to deliver the thing. This not only happens in our relationships with one another, but more important, it happens in our relationship with God. When you name something as a need and God doesn’t deliver it, you begin to doubt his goodness. What is deadly about this is that you simply don’t run for help to someone whose character you’ve come to doubt.

In Matthew 6:32, Jesus reminds us that we have a heavenly Father who knows exactly what we need. There is comfort and confrontation in Jesus’s words. The confrontation is this: the reason Jesus reminds us that we have a Father who has a clear understanding of our true needs is because we don’t have such an understanding. We constantly get needs and wants confused, and when we do, we are tempted to question the love of our heavenly Father. The comfort is that, by grace, we have been made to be the children of the wisest, most loving Father that the universe has ever known. He is never, ever confused. He knows our every need because he created us. We can rest in the grace that has made us his children, knowing that our place in his family guarantees that we will have what we need.

For further study and encouragement: Psalm 145

I’m posting this because it applies to me. I have a need for recognition and acknowledgement from Christian women, and for a very long time in my life, I had to do without it, despite making what I considered to be all the right moves. I don’t think anyone would say that I was not a successful person, and not a successful man. But I think something has changed in the culture that makes it harder to get appropriate recognition from women, even if you do all the right things. So I had to face this problem of having an unmet need for most of my life, until I started blogging and met tons and tons of women who recognized and acknowledged me. (My love language is words of encouragement)

I think the best thing I can say about this is that it hasn’t affected my willingness to serve God. I remember having a conversation with an atheist woman who expected God to meet all her needs. She expected him to appear to her and explain why she had certain bad experiences. And of course he didn’t appear, because it’s a suffering religion. The founder of the religion did everything right, and he still suffered. You can do everything right as a Christian, and still suffer. When you are suffering really badly from unmet needs, the best you can do is decide to keep faith with God and not let your unmet needs cause you to dump him.

So I guess my advice to all of you is to say that I am right with you having an unmet need. But if I can keep doing my job for God, then you can do it, too. You can have needs. You can ask for them to be met. You can talk to God about it. But it still may not be forthcoming. And then you have a decision to make. Make the decision I made, and resolve to keep serving regardless of whether your needs get met.

Three reasons why you should be aggressive about giving grace to others

I’m still reading the devotional book (Paul Tripp’s “New Morning Mercies”) that Dina asked me to read. I will be reading it all year. I find that about one devotion a week is useful, the rest are fluff. However, because she is willing to keep asking me how I am doing with it, and also listen to me complain and criticize, I am keeping up with it.

I wanted to blog about the January 19th devotion.

Here is the text:

JANUARY 19

If you look into the mirror of God’s Word and see someone in need of grace, why would you be impatient with others who share that need?

Maybe one of the biggest sins in our relationships with one another is the sin of forgetting. I wish I could say that this is not my problem, but it is. It is so easy to forget how profound your need of grace is, and it is equally easy to forget the amazing grace that has been freely showered upon you. And when you forget the grace that you’ve been given, it becomes very easy to respond to the people around you with nongrace.

It is very clear that grace toward others isn’t best born out of duty. Pretend with me that I plop down on the couch next to my dear wife, Luella, and say these words: “You know, Luella, I have come to the realization that it’s my duty to be gracious to you. So I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to give you grace, not because I really want to, but because I guess it’s what I have to do.” Do you think that Luella would be encouraged by that statement for a moment? I think not. A joyful life of grace toward others grows best in the soil of gratitude. When I really reflect on who I am, when I take time to consider the grace that I couldn’t have earned, achieved, or deserved but which has been lavished on me, and when I remember that that grace came at the cost of the life of another, then I am joyfully motivated to give that grace to others.

For the believer, harsh, critical, impatient, and irritated responses to others are always connected to forgetting or denying who we are and what we have been given in Jesus. It is very clear that no one gives grace better than a person who is deeply convinced of his own need of it and who is cogently aware of the grace he has been, and is being, given.

Because we forget so quickly, because we fall into believing that we are deserving, and because we tend to think that we’re more righteous and capable than we actually are, we all need to be given grace right at the very moment when we are called to be a tool of grace in the life of another. The God of grace is working his grace into everyone in the room. First John 4:19 really is true: “We love because he first loved us.” Now, that’s worth remembering.

For further study and encouragement: Ephesians 3:14-21

I don’t want to get grace confused with forgiveness. I wrote about forgiveness before. Grace is more broad than that. If you “borrow” my roadster and wrap it around a tree, and you are really sorry and offer to pay for the repairs, then I forgive you. Grace is not just about forgiveness. Grace can just be you being kind and supportive when we play StarCraft 2, even though I am terrible at it. Grace is unmerited favor. I may be terrible at StarCraft 2, but you just keep playing with me and encouraging me until I get better at it (Thanks, Blake!). Grace can also mean just giving you nice things that are extra and unexpected, like sending a Kindle e-book to a friend for his birthday (Happy birthday, Wessel!)

So, here’s my three points about the devotion above:

First, the basis for us giving grace to others is because we have received grace ourselves. It really has nothing to do with how we feel about the person, or whether they deserve it. Grace is unmerited favor, so it’s just something you do to give people some extra care or some extra tolerance. You can look in Matthew 18:23-35 to see how much God wants us to treat other people the way he treats us. He forgives us, we forgive our neighbor. He gives us grace, we give grace to our neighbor. It’s not good if we take the benefits from God and then do not show that we appreciate it by treating our neighbor the same way as God treats us. Think about the Lord’s Prayer: “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”.

Second, we should be happy that we get the opportunity to give other people grace, because we are imitating God when we do that. In fact, we should be aggressive about seeking out opportunities to do this. What is the point of being a follower of Jesus if you never get to experience what Jesus does by imitating him? We have to share in the same joys and sorrows by doing the same things. I never really like a woman until I see her trying to do actions that are helping to achieve goals that I think are important. I can explain to her what apologetics is and buy her books. But the real joy comes from seeing her read and study and then take action – speaking in public (Dina) or teaching in church (Mary) or organizing an apologetics event (Tracy). I think God is happy in the same way if we try to imitate him as a way of respecting what he has done for us.

Third, we must not underestimate how much grace a person needs by judging how much we needed. Some people need more grace to grow as a Christian than we needed ourselves. So long as a person is moving in the right direction and following Jesus, we should give her as much grace as we can – but still being good stewards of our time and resources. The key is – so long as she is growing in the right direction, and not rebelling. The simple fact is that we are not in a position to know how far any person can go, and God gives us so few people to care for anyway. Why not splurge and give lots of grace to the people we are assigned to care for, even if it’s much more than we needed ourselves? That is the whole point of it – to do more than is expected.