Today

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May all the nations praise you (Psalm 67:3; NLT).

1. Lord,
Today, may many hear your voice,
Starting their journey
Back to your embrace.

2. Lord,
Today, may many turn to you,
Asking forgiveness;
Welcoming your grace.

3. Lord,
Today, may many follow you,
Serving their neighbours;
Learning to do good.

4. Lord,
Today, may many join with you,
Knowing your presence;
Living in your love.


References

1. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts (Hebrews 4:7; NIV).

He returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him (Luke 15:20; NLT).

2. Repent of your sins and turn to God (Matthew 3:2; NLT).

Perhaps even yet they will turn from their evil ways and ask the Lord’s forgiveness before it is too late (Jeremiah 36:7; NLT).

God saved you by his grace when you believed (Ephesians 2:8; NLT).

3. If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23; NLT).

Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others (Mark 10:45; NLT).

Learn to do good (Isaiah 1:17; NLT).

4. When we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death (Romans 6:3; NLT).

His name is the Lord – rejoice in his presence (Psalm 68:4; NLT).

Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them (1 John 4:16; NIV).

God is love

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You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful,
slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love
(Nehemiah 9:17; NLT).

1. God is shelter, and space;
Mercy, and grace;

2. Forgiveness, and care;
Wrathful, yet fair;

3. Salvation, and might;
Darkness, and light;

4. Tumult, and peace;
God is love, without cease.


References

1. All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 36:7; NLT).

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1; NLT).

There is […] one God and Father, who is over all, and in all, and living through all (Ephesians 4:5-6; NLT).

2. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies (Psalm 103:2-4; NLT).

God is a raging fire (Deuteronomy 4:24; ESV). 

Everything he does is just and fair (Deuteronomy 32:4; NLT).

3. The Lord is my light and my salvation (Psalm 27:1; NLT).

He shrouded himself in darkness (Psalm 18:11; NLT).

4. I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me (Psalm 42:7; NLT).

The Lord is peace (Judges 6:24; NLT).

God is love (1 John 4:16; NLT).

Wholeness

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Be thankful in all circumstances
(1 Thessalonians 5:18; NLT). 

1. Thank you for my body,
And thank you for my mind,
Thank you for my heart, Lord,
And my soul.

2. Thank you for your care, Lord,
And your forgiveness, too,
Your healing, and the faith
Which makes me whole.


References

1. You, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand (Isaiah 64:8; NIV).

He himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else (Acts 17:25; NIV).

2. If God cares so wonderfully for the flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you (Luke 12:28; NLT).

He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases (Psalm 103:3; NLT).

It is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8; NIV).

Thy faith hath made thee whole (Luke 8:48; KJV).

I love you

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1. I love you, Lord,
Please help me
By forgiving all my sins,

2. By healing me,
And saving me,
And giving my soul wings.

3. I love you, Lord,
Please help me
By redeeming me from death,

4. And crowning me
With mercy, Lord,
Beyond my final breath.


References

1. I love you, Lord (Psalm 18:1; NLT).

He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy (Psalm 28:7; NLT).

He forgives all my sins, and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! (Psalm 103:2-5; NLT).

2. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15; NLT).

Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:31; NLT).

3. God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave (Psalm 49:15; NKJV).

4. The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NIV).

A letter (with thanks to M.R.)

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Trigger alert
Today’s blog is about emotional abuse, and its consequences.

Introduction
The following quotation sets the scene, though its relevance might not be clear until you have read the whole article:

Turn your steps towards these everlasting ruins, all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary. Your foes roared in the places where you met with us; they set up their standards as signs. They behaved like men wielding axes to cut through a thicket of trees. They smashed all the carved panelling with their axes and hatchets. They burned your sanctuary to the ground; they defiled the dwelling place of your Name. They said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!” They burned every place where God was worshipped in the land (Psalm 74:3-8; NIV).

An open letter to my mother
Mother, despite claiming to love me, you established control over me from my early childhood onwards. You did this through scorn, criticism, bullying, condemnation, rage, and bouts of violent destructiveness. These behaviours made me fear you deeply. I lived in dread of your next outburst.

You continued to maintain control over me during my teenage years and adulthood, too, using intrusion, disapproval, and anger when I dared to express personal feelings, thoughts or beliefs you didn’t like. Similarly, you reacted with fury and threats of coercion if I tried to make my own decisions about what I wanted to do with my life. When I made mistakes, or got things wrong, you never forgave me, or forgot it. All this made me dread seeing you and spending time with you. I particularly hated the sound of your voice, and loathed you touching me, but was afraid to stand up to you, or to say “no”.

Your ways of controlling me have had severe, pervasive, long-term consequences for my mental health, in the form of low self-esteem, anxiety, dread, panic attacks and agoraphobia. I have also had to cope with a constant sense of not wanting to be alive, with chronic depression, and with episodes of acute depression. Furthermore, one question has always preyed on my mind:

How could you say you loved me, yet behave as you did towards me?

It didn’t make sense. I just couldn’t square what you said with what I experienced.

Then, on the 24th of May, 2020, a friend sent me a message she had seen on a Facebook site about domestic abuse. It read:

It’s not CONSENT if you make me afraid to say no.

I stared at these words, instantly electrified by their brevity, clarity and profound truth. Within seconds, a personal variation flashed into my mind:

It’s not LOVE if you make me afraid to say no.

Deeply stirred by this insight, further phrases began tumbling out of my unconscious mind. Here are just a few examples:

It’s not love if you make me afraid to disagree.

It’s not love if you criticise me all the time.

It’s not love if you make me afraid to be myself.

It’s not love if you make me afraid to choose for myself.

It’s not love if you belittle my achievements.

It’s not love if you only approve of me when I behave like you.

At last, in my late sixties, my friend’s message had given me the answer to my question: your behaviour towards me shows clearly that you did not, in fact, love me in any meaningful way at all.

This shocking realisation made me consider what kinds of behaviour do, in fact, reflect and express genuine love. Here are the best answers I’ve found so far:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, or boastful, or proud, or rude. It does not demand its own way (1 Corinthians 13:4-5; NLT).

It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5; NIV).

I know that none of us is perfect, mother, but when I confronted you, you could at least have admitted what you did to me, and said you were sorry. Over the years, I managed to raise the subject of your behaviour with you several times, always at huge personal cost. However, you never responded with genuine understanding or honesty, instead always trying to justify, minimise, or deny what you had done.

For many years now, I have worked hard to forgive you. Sometimes I even think I’ve succeeded. Fortunately, God understands and accepts the intense anger and bitterness that can still occasionally emerge from my mind, heart and soul. Slowly, gently, he gives me the insights I need in order to be healed, for which I am profoundly thankful.

Ruth.


References

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other (Romans 12:9; NLT).

Do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them (Ephesians 6:4; NLT).

I am the Lord, who heals you (Exodus 15:27; NIV).

Have faith

Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28; NLT).

1. Turn to Christ for healing;
Cry out, for he is near.
Have faith that he will help you
When you suffer pain and fear.

2. Ask him to forgive you,
Confessing every sin,
And trust that he will help you
While you try to change within.

3. Bear your cross, and follow;
Let Jesus share your load.
Rely on him to help you
As you walk his narrow road.


References

1. If you are willing, you can heal me (Luke 5:12; NLT).

He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5:34; NIV).

2. Forgive us our sins (Luke 11:4; NLT).

Trust in God (John 14:1; NLT).

3. Take up your cross and follow me (Matthew 16:24; NLT).

Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14; NIV).

In your presence

1. Father,
I am always in your presence.
Please help me to remember you today –
Constantly attentive to your guidance,
The still, small voice within, that shows the way.

2. Father,
I am always in your presence.
Please help me to remain in you today –
Constantly rejoicing in your goodness,
And following your Son, so I don’t stray.

3. Father,
I am always in your presence.
Please help me to commune with you today –
Constantly confessing my transgressions,
Always quick to listen, and obey.

4. Father,
I am always in your presence.
Please help me to unite with you today –
Constantly beseeching your forgiveness,
And serving you in all I do, and say.


References

1. You have brought me into your presence forever (Psalm 41:12; NLT).

Remember the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 8:18; NLT).

After the fire [came] a still small voice (1 Kings 19:12; NKJV).

Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go” (Isaiah 30:21; NLT).

2. Remain in me, and I will remain in you (John 15:4; NLT).

Rejoice always (1 Thessalonians 5:16; NIV).

May your faithful people rejoice in your goodness (2 Chronicles 6:41; NIV).

If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23; NLT).

3. Commune with your own heart (Psalm 77:6; KJV).

We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5; NIV).

If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just (1 John 1:9; NLT).

Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him (Deuteronomy 13:4; NLT).

4. Whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17; NIV).

“O Lord,” I prayed, “have mercy on me. Heal me, for I have sinned against you” (Psalm 41:4; NLT).

Serve only the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 13:4; NLT).

Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father (Colossians 3:17; NLT).

These words

These words you hear are not my own;
they belong to the Father who sent me
(John 14:24; NIV).

1. Your kingdom come:
These words give hope,
Reviving my weak faith.

2. Deliver us:
These words speak truth;
They show me you are great.

3. Forgive our sins:
These words grant peace;
Your pardon makes me whole.

4. As we forgive:
These words pledge rest
To my poor mind and soul.

5. Your will be done:
These words bring calm
To my last days on earth.

6. For evermore:
My spirit flies
To you, who gave me birth.


References

1. May your kingdom come soon (Luke 11:2; NLT).

2. Deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:13; KJV).

3. Forgive us our sins… (Matthew 6:12; NLT).

4. …as we have forgiven those who sin against us (Matthew 6:13; NLT).

5. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10; NLT).

6. Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever (Matthew 6:13; NKJV).

Into your hands I commit my spirit (Psalm 31:5; NIV).

The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NIV).

Good and bad

1. Thank you, Lord,
For good and bad,
For all I’ve learned,
And all I’ve lost.

2. Thank you, Lord,
For all you give,
For all you take,
And life’s great cost.

3. Thank you, Lord,
For all your love,
For your forgiveness,
And your Son.

4. Thank you, Lord,
For sending us
Your Spirit, who
Makes us all one.


References

1. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows (John 16:33; NLT).

2. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised (Job 1:21; NIV).

3. He loves us with unfailing love (Psalm 117:2; NLT).

4. You are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28; NLT).

After death


1. After death, Lord,
All of us will meet
Those we abused,

2. And we will grasp
How much we damaged
Those we have misused.

3. We will face
Our callous deeds,
The hurtful words we spoke,

4. Until we beg forgiveness
From all those
Whose hearts we broke.

5. Help us now, instead, to change,
Say: Sorry, Lord,
And try

6. To live more like
Your only Son, on earth,
Before
we die.


References

1. The time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgement (John 5:29; NLT).

2. Now I will pour put judgement on you for the evil you have done to them (Jeremiah 23:2; NLT).

3. Human pride will be humbled, and human arrogance will be brought down. Only the Lord will be exalted on the day of judgement (Isaiah 2:17; NLT).

4. You should fear punishment yourselves, for your attitude deserves punishment. Then you will know that there is indeed a judgement (Job 19:29; NLT).

5. If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5:23-4; NIV).

6. As we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgement, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world (1 John 4:17; NLT).