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The Book Thief
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
On Gold Mountain
Bread & Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter
City of Tranquil Light: A Novel
The Distant Land of My Father
The Paris Wife
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Fall of Giants
World Without End
A Stolen Life
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption
The Pillars of the Earth
Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation
The Road
Trials of the Earth: The Autobiography of Mary Hamilton
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal
Cutting for Stone

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Entries in mercy Monday (7)


release: 40 words in 40 days

Lent culminates in the resurrection. A place where Christians celebrate the forgiveness of sins and the release from the prison of depravity. We are new creatures because of the forgiveness extended to us.

This morning as I mapped out my world, my day. I noticed how many offenses I carried. I thought of how futile and unnecessary it is for me to carry those. It’s exhausting. It’s stressful. It’s harmful.

One of the meanings of forgiveness is release. I can let go of these offenses and my compulsion to control the outcome. When Peter asks Jesus how  many times we must forgive our brothers, Jesus replies 70 x 7. Then he tells a story about a king and an evil servant. 

The servant ran up a debt of $100,000. When the king called the debt, the servant threw himself at his feet and asked for more time to pay. The king acquiesced.  As soon as the evil servant left the room, he encountered a fellow servant who owed him $10. He seized him by the throat and demanded he pay up. When the fellow servant begged for mercy, the evil servant threw him in jail. No mercy. 

The king got wind of the injustice. He dealt with the evil servant by demanding that he pay up the $100,000 in total. Jesus said, “And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.” Luke 18:35

I want to bask in the mercy extended to me through Jesus. And then let it overflow to those in my life. These petty offenses pale in the light of the love given to me freely. I release them.


surprised by mercy

You have never disappointed me.

The words rang through the phone receiver and melted my fears calming my soul. She spoke those words right after I had delivered some news that would disappoint many. Did she know that 22 years later they would define our relationship and continue to echo?

Her name, Zelda Bernice, means Woman Warrior Brings Victory. She looked like anything but a warrior. Mess with any of her family and you would quickly find out. Her eyes twinkled mischief. Many times I ran to her when the world caved in and I needed comfort. As the first-born grandchild, I named her Momice perfectly combining Mama and Bernice.

If mercy means to be freed from the consequences of sin, she showed me mercy and love. Over and over and over. Her home offered a haven from the war between my parents. She only lived a mile or so from us. Beulah, the bus-driver, would often ask me “your house or your grandmother’s.” At her house, my favorite  after-school snack was melted cheese. She sliced it thick and placed it on a cookie sheet. Then popped it in the oven long enough for it to melt a little. We ate it with a spoon. 

When disappointment or hurt has marred a relationship, few will continue to pursue in love. The Love of Our Father pursues relentlessly, always standing looking toward the horizon for us to return to the Shepherd of Our Souls. She showed me this on human terms. It’s how she lived. Her arms ready to receive, to wrap me up in love and mercy.

At 23 years old, I expected her to be hurt. I thought she would maybe lecture me. For sure, I assumed she would withdraw. Instead she said those words that will live with me my whole life.

You have never disappointed me. 


receive mercy

Writing about mercy with Jenn Lebow on Mercy Mondays ended up on my highlight list for 2012. As I researched and read about mercy, it made me thirsty. Thirsty, that is, for mercy. 

Quickly I saw that my little Campus Crusade definition “to withhold a judgment deserved” did not do justice to this term. Perusing the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, I discovered that the Hebrew term for mercy also means womb. Hebrew is a language of few words, actually. Often the complex abstract words have literal meanings. As a lover of words, this delights me. And so I wrote a definition of mercy from my study of it:

Mercy is a woman. A woman with a womb. She is strong and tender. Her arms open wide to embrace and hold fragile, war-weary souls. She is not faint nor is she shy. Her strength in the face of fear and cavalier sin overwhelms the crudest sinner. Her ancient face is lined with furrows of kindness and gentleness. Goodness marks her days. As we fall into her embrace and burrow into her womb, life-giving blood courses through our souls. Sins  evaporate. Shame flees. Forgiveness triumphs.

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student of mercy

I echo David in Psalm 27: ONE THING I ask and seek, to muse the beauty of the Lord. During fall break we camped at the Smokies. I had plenty of time to muse and drew this sitting around the campfire. My journal still smells like smoke.

I am a student of mercy. 

If I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned my need to continue to gaze at the mercy of Christ in order to live a merciful life. As we have pondered and grappled with mercy over at Mercy Mondays with Jenn LeBow, all of us have been changed. That’s because when we gaze upon the beauty of the Lord, we are changed. Some facet of our lives reflect more purely the character of Jesus.

Mercy exists because our God is merciful. He has more attributes than I have words. In my finite mind, I like to boil His character down to Mercy and Strength. We humans are usually stronger in one of these character traits than the other. But God holds them both equally.

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mercy in action

Today, on Mercy Monday, I choose to share about one person who has shown me more about mercy than perhaps any other. 

Silvia worked alongside me in Honduras where we served as missionaries by fostering four boys. She served our family by helping us with cleaning, cooking and laundry. At one time, seven children gathered round our table. That’s a lot of mouths, socks, and leaves tracked in on shoes. Silvia walked to our home in the mornings arriving around 8:00. 

Although she could not read, Silvia hid God’s word in her heart. She memorized large portions and could retrieve verses to fit particular situations. She never came across proud or as if she had this spiritual thing wrapped up. 


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