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We loathe hurtful people. We have a particular distaste remembering when hurtful people turn their hate on us. What normal humans relish in being reviled?
Maybe for you it was during a family gathering and the whispering started when you walked into the house. Small groups of people stopped their conversation. Some stared at you with that smile of mockery.
Or perhaps it was at the office. Across the way near the water cooler three co-workers were whispering as they stole a glance or two in your direction. When you stared back they acted as if nothing was happening.
Worse yet, possibly it was at church when you were tortured with piercing words. They made you the victim of their gossip. To top it off they had the audacity to consider themselves and their fellow slanders the righteous ones.
Anyone who has led or anyone who has tried to accomplish anything knows what it is like to have a chunk of their heart torn out by those who practice hate.
What if that pain in your past could be removed as if it never happened? If a wave of a hand could make it all disappear, scars and all? Jesus did that for us when He died on the cross.
We needed miracle in our lives. The pain was so excruciating that we sinned in response. We traded insult for insult.
Now, tired and weary of the pain we looked for redemption. Jesus gives it to us through His sacrifice on the cross. The guilt and pain are placed on Jesus.
He takes it all and pays the price to get rid of it all forever. Do you feel the relief? But, there is more!
He not only made our hurt from others disappear it was so powerful He took away the act of the gossips go away too. All of the world’s sins were taken on by Jesus on to Himself as He died on the cross for them all. That is a good sacrifice. That is why the Friday commemorating Jesus’ death is called Good.
While the Savior hung on the cross, people mocked him. They spit on him. They threw things at him. He felt the hate for us.
He was beaten with angry hands. A whip tore his flesh. Worst of all the Father abandoned him because that was the price of sin. He felt all this for us.
The darkness of separation from the Father did not last for the Son. It was over. Jesus declared, “It is finished!” Good words on our Good Friday.
A lot of anticipation preceded this film. Its public announcement both in the news and through trailers stirred a massive amount of interest. But, I wondered, “Would the film live up to anyone’s expectations?”
It is a very good movie well worth seeing. But, prepare yourself. This true story will affect you deeply.
On the 11th Anniversary of the unprovoked attack on the United States’ World Trade Center and Pentagon, hostile forces attacked the US diplomatic center and CIA “Annex” compound. A small band of 6 CIA contractors made up of former Navy SeALS, Marines and Army Rangers take the initiative and do all they can to defend the Americans who are in the crosshairs of the terrorists. These 6 faced overwhelming odds yet managed to fend off the waves of attacks.
A historical fact that left me mystified at the outset of the story is that the USA has over 200 diplomatic outposts of one nature or another around the world. Of those there are around a dozen that are classified as severely hostile and dangerous. The two most dangerous are both in Libya: Tripoli and Benghazi.
Every other country had pulled its diplomatic teams out of Benghazi. The USA was the only country with a remaining contingency. It was a city torn by military factions and violent extremists yet its two sites were woefully under-protected.
When the US Ambassador to Libya came to town, he had a protective team of a mere two US combatants. The compound was primarily protected by local police and native personnel who ran away as soon as the attacks began. No one trusted these local hirelings so there was no surprise when they betrayed their clients and ran for their lives.
As the story developed, the dangers of a planned attack showed heroism in action. No help was forthcoming but the few did not hesitate to put their lives in harms way to protect those who were in danger. Even in the face of administrative fear and hesitation, the 6 fought off wave after wave of terrorist combatants.
Respect for the courage of the few Americans skyrocketed. Sadness sank into fearful desperation when the US government failed to send in the resources necessary to render necessary aid to the brave 6. Those two words make up my summary of how this story affected me: respect and sadness.
photo credit: film promotion release poster
Have you visited the mighty Pacific Ocean? It is unforgettable. There is something remarkable about this massive body of water and how it impacts the land that is home for all of us human beings.
Countless people flock to the shores of the saltwater expanse. They play on the beaches, marvel at the power of the shifting currents, take advantage of the teaming life below the surface and find an incomparable respite every evening when the sun sets with a unique masterful display of color.
There is something else about the ocean that leaves a mark on our human memories. Along the shores, up in the hills are the vestiges of another power common on the ocean. It is the wind.
Temperatures shift and start the air moving in powerful layers from one direction to the next. God set this in motion with the creation of the world, currents not just in the waters but also in the air that keep alternating directions. It is the wind.
Tall fir trees with trunks gnarled, bent and twisted by the constant blowing of the winds stand in groves along the coast. They give me pause. Each one has stood against the threats to level them. Storms and daily pressure have left their mark but the trees still stand.
The scars and wounds add to the beauty of the fauna that decorate the hills along the edge of the Pacific. It is amazing that they have survived. While many gaze at the vast oceanic vistas, I for one turn away and soak in the scenic sculpture created by the winds and the strength of life in the trees.
This forest of trees almost appears as an army of sentinels slowly making its way to the sea. The onslaught of the sea winds have taken their toll on the tree features and come to a truce. Each force standing at the edge of the battle lines respecting the right of the other to be present.
The ocean coughs up its winds and the trees bend their boughs. Yet, the roots grip tightly to the soil and will not release further ground. It is a scene of power and persistence.
God created this dynamic picture of life. Nothing is static when it is truly living. There is always growth, always movement and always change.
Keep on living and keep on with growing. Change as necessary. But, hold on to what is important.
photo credit: brucefong photography
There is never a repeat or warm up or left-over sunrise. Like snowflakes there are never any two that are identical. Instead, each one is a unique combination, a mysterious blend that spreads the picture around and makes each one tailor-made for that particular day.
This time it was not only the colors that were sensational, it was also the perimeter features that made the sunrise pop out of the horizon. It was not only about the colors but it was also about the clouds in the sky.
Do you see the contrast? God gives the sky texture. The clouds are close by but the sunrise is a long way off. The light of the morning is overtaking the clouds that ruled the night.
The world was once shrouded in an uninviting frightening stillness of aloneness, abandonment and anxiety. But, it is quickly dissipated. It is diluted to the point where we wonder how we ever were fearful or hopeless. Life is just like this.
Someone may have hurt you deeply. Your sorrow was unrelenting and excruciating. Inside you were about ready to give up.
Yet, something gnawing in your soul urges you to press on. A light glimmered in your spirit reminding you that God was still there. When people failed you, God was powerfully present and He chased away the darkness.
Once the light comes you feel rejuvenated. Courage was restored. Those who had done their worst were no longer capable of doing any more.
It is time. Get up. Dust yourself off. Wipe away your tears. Leave those who have done evil behind.
God is not finished with you yet. The truth has kept you buoyed up and now that the night has expired you are still standing. Yes, there will be other tough moments in life. God has told us that trials will come. They are designed for correction or edification. Maybe there will be a little of each.
Whichever the case God does not hurt for pain’s sake. He is ready to lift you up and carry you along. God is about blessing not hurt.
When my day starts and a gorgeous sunrise greets my commute into the office, I receive it a testimony of God’s greatness personalized just for me. You can do the same. Every sunrise is new, different and big enough for all who will accept it.
photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography