Ryan & Jordan

with Pioneer Bible Translators

Category: Wisdom

Have Mercy: second part

by ryan

This is an extension of the July 25 post Have Mercy.  We reflect more on what our friend Matthew is teaching us (in a sense two friends named Matthew if you count the one who wrote the book almost 2000 years ago).

And on the mountain Jesus also taught:

μακάριοι οἱ ἐλεήμονες,

ὅτι αὐτοὶ ἐλεηθήσονται.

In English:

The merciful are blessed

because they will be shown mercy.

God is the source of mercy; we are to be conduits of mercy.  We must first receive from God.  If we receive mercy, we must also extend mercy. To better understand this, let’s look at an analogy from the geography of the Jordan River.

The Jordan (which means ‘Descender’) flows out of the Sea of Galilee down into the Dead Sea.  The moving water is God’s life-giving mercy.   The Sea of Galilee was a great spot to fish in Jesus’ time.  The fish are people.  You might have guessed this, but there are no fish in the Dead Sea, because it has no outlet and so mineral concentrations are too high.

So in the Jordan River valley, fish live where water flows.  People live where mercy flows.  The Jordan used to be large and teaming with fish, but now the fish aren’t doing so well because the flow has been diminished by dams.

People don’t do so well when they block the flow of God’s mercy. So let’s stop building dams and start passing on the mercy we receive. Let’s be like the Jordan, receiving water from on high and then passing it on to the people downstream.  That’s where life happens.

Jordan my wife is a good reminder and her name is fitting, because she passes God’s mercy along to me every day.


Have Mercy

by ryan

One day Jesus went up a hill with his disciples and taught them.  As it is written:

Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι,

ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.

Or, in English:

The Spiritually Bankrupt are blessed,

because the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

Spiritually what?

Let me tell you a story inspired by a story Jesus told (Luke, chapter 18).

One day two very different men happened to be praying side by side at an important spiritual place.  One man was a religious expert, an authority on the Scriptures.  The other was a business man who cheated people, embezzled funds and was a traitor against his people.

The Religious Man stands and prays, “God I thank you that I am not like other men: blackmailers, unjust people, people who have sex outside of marriage, or this bad business man next to me.  I fast twice a week and I offer ten percent of what I get to you.”

The Business Man didn’t even look up. “God, be merciful to me, a man who has wronged you.”

Then Jesus says, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who realize they could never be good enough to earn God’s forgiveness and favor–the Spiritually Bankrupt.

We are all Spiritually Bankrupt.  The thing is, only some people ask for mercy.


We’d like to thank our friend Matthew for teaching what inspired this reflection .

a bit on Truth

by ryan

I don’t recommend reading Ralph Waldo Emerson; there are better people to read out there.  But I do like some of his lines:

Thee, dear friend, a brother soothes,

Not with flatteries, but truths,

Which tarnish not, but purify

To light which dims the morning’s eye.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mister Emerson here reminds me of a couple proverbs of King Solomon:

Better is open rebuke

than hidden love.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend;

profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

Being nice and polite are not wrong in and of themselves, but they are never grounds for obscuring the truth.  I am not saying here we should forget about being nice and polite.  Rather, there is a more important virtue: love.  Nearly two thousand years ago Paul of Tarsus wrote a letter in which he exhorts followers of Jesus to “speak the truth in love.”  In a later letter he writes:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

What is true?  What is worthy of praise?  I know only who is True and who is Worthy of Praise.  I sing with David and many others:

Bless YHWH, O my soul,

and all that is within me,

bless his holy name!


Note all quotes in this post are actually translations, except the one by Mister Emerson.  The ones from the Bible in this post keep with the wording of what is often called the English Standard, except where I keep the transliteration of the Hebrew name of God in Psalm 103 instead of trying to find an English word.