Forgiveness

...now browsing by tag

 
 

September 6

Tuesday, September 6th, 2022

The long weekend is over (Labor Day) and I’m back! I know that just has you jumping for joy!! 🙂  I had a nice weekend. Relaxing. A great meal with friends on Saturday (since we “rained out” for a bike ride. In quotes because it never rained like they said it was supposed to). So, I rode 21+ miles yesterday with Ryan S. instead of Saturday.  (It is the longest I have ridden since my surgery on June 14th). Then, he went home and rode 30+ more. He da man! I remember when I used to do those kinds of things. These 70 year old legs would protest that kind of feat these days and wouldn’t think of doing something like that…unless I don’t want to move the next day…and the next…and the next. 🙂

Okay, now for the devotion based on The Trail by Ed Underwood. Before I give you Principle #5, which will include a recap of the first 4 principles, I want to take a side road based on #4. #5 will come tomorrow.

When we talk about intimacy, I think one of the hardest things to do is to be honest. My mate must feel safe (enfolded if I may use that word) in a cloak of warmth and protection and security that comes from me.  After being a pastor for about 50 years, I have seen precious few marriages where safety and security were evident. If you have one, you are blessed.

With that intimacy comes the ability to forgive. No marriage is perfect because no person is perfect. Intimacy is a rare commodity anyway, but when the inability to forgive crops up…forget it!! I have seen marriages blow up over the littlest thing which became a great thing all because of the inability to forgive. Big or small offense, forgiveness is not an option. Someone has said, “To err is human; to forgive divine.” It seems like I have heard something on the order of “We are most like beasts when we sin; we are most like God when we forgive.” (If not, I lay claim to that! 🙂 ) Whether I heard it or made it up, it is true.

So before  I move on to Principle #5, let’s make a stand right here right now to forgive others-from the smallest to the largest offense. It starts with us, whether there is an apology or not.

I don’t remember there being an apology when Someone I want to model said, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”

July 20

Wednesday, July 20th, 2022

As I sat down this morning to enter my devotion that I had written at home during my Encounter Time, I suddenly realized that I wanted to take a different course. I will save that devotion for tomorrow.  Since you were praying for me yesterday (last night) concerning the funeral, I thought I would let you know how it went.

I told the family when I saw them at the visitation that whenever I hear of someone or am asked to do a funeral of someone I do not know, I always wonder if possibly I have met them before. I go to the Y on a regular basis and have since I moved here in ’05. I have also been active in the community for that many years so it is totally possible I have met someone but not known who they were. I did not know (let’s call him John).  I know exactly where he lives since I have been by there numerous times.  But I had never met him.

All in all I thought the service went well. It is my practice to neither send someone to Hell or to Heaven, unless I know they were a Christ-follower to the core. John was a man of faith. His family was telling me of the churches he attended in the area.  (Funny aside: OVCF bought this building in 2010 from the Mormons. When the 3 siblings met with me this past Sunday, they knew exactly where the building was because they used to attend here. This was one of their dad’s stopovers during his search for meaning).  Neither of them are now or ever plan to become Mormons…ever.

Anyway… the service went well.  I was able to use their eulogy and their suggested Scripture and implement them into my words from Psalm 23 (the requested Scripture from them).  I do believe an open door is there for future interaction.

I learned something which I already knew but needed to have reinforced in this day and age of militancy. Just like no one likes to be put into a cookie-cutter and classified at “being just like all the rest,” John broke the mold. I can honestly say I do love gay people. I have no animosity with or toward them. I try to be kind and respectful toward them as individuals. I do not agree with their lifestyle choice (and he began questioning it big time the last year of his life).  As I said, John broke the mold. He was not flashy. He was not the “typical” gay man. He was not flamboyant. He kept to himself and he kept his lifestyle to himself. That doesn’t make it right in God’s eyes, but it flies in the face of the militant ones who want to garner so much attention.  He lived with questions and the last year of his life the question of “Have I sinned too much? Could God love me?” surfaced in conversations with his children. I wish I had known him to tell him that no one sins too much and yes God loves Him. Does He approve of the lifestyle? No. But he had already decided a friend is all he wanted, not a relationship.  I met his friend and he was a true friend with none of the “fringe benefits.” John was done.

Jesus once told a parable about the man who had laborers in his field. He needed more so he went and got more. He needed still more and got them. At the end of the day he paid them all the same. It doesn’t matter when a person comes to Jesus. Early in life; middle of life; or on their death bed. The reward of heaven is the same. I cannot say whether John bowed his knee to the Father in Heaven.  He knew. He had been taught (outside the Mormon faith) of his need for Jesus. I can only hope and pray he made his choice. But it is still not my place to say yeah or nay.

As for the 3 siblings: I am hoping and praying for fruit. One lives out of town so I don’t see much interaction from her family.  The other daughter I had a chance to talk with and she expressed an interest in coming to OVCF. In fact, she said, “Don’t be surprised if some Sunday you see us walking in.” I told her I would look forward to that.  The son? He pretty much kept to himself but since I know where he lives, I can keep in contact.

So as I close this rather long (and I suspect sometimes rambling) post, would you mind praying for the Lawson family? Pray for them to find the wisdom and peace they crave. They are definitely going to need God’s direction as they sort through things. And pray for fruit to come from my ministry to them. I am thankful to God that He brought them my way. And I am thankful that He made it possible for me to be His representative. 

And I thank you for praying for me.

March 15

Tuesday, March 15th, 2022

“My dad can beat up your dad.”  “My dad is smarter than your dad.” “My mom is prettier than your mom.”

Remember those days? (I have a hard time because they were so long ago. 🙂 ) That game is still played by kids…and adults. The comparison game.

It never stops. Sports. Academics. Opposite sex attraction. Jobs. Friends. Physical stature (“I’m taller/stronger/faster than you are now.”) Church size (“We had x number of people this past Sunday.”) Sin.

Sin? Back the truck up!! Yes sin. When was the last time you heard someone say, “My sin is so much greater than yours so I deserve a much greater punishment”? On rare occasions…maybe…you might hear someone who is truly humble and will admit their sin. Most often it is more common to hear someone say their sin is not as bad as that person over there. “I don’t do this or that.” “I haven’t committed adultery.” “I haven’t left my spouse.” On and on the “I haven’t” goes.

Only when we see our sin in light of God’s unrelenting grace and the sinless Son of God will we see a more truthful picture of who we really are. When I think I am more righteous than I am I become a Pharisee like the one in Jesus’ story of the Pharisee and tax collector in Luke 18: 9-17.

God sees me for who I am. He is infinitely smarter than me. It would be much better for me to approach Him as a tax collector than a Pharisee. Comparisons pushed aside.

“Father, may I see myself as You see me…as I really am.”

March 7

Monday, March 7th, 2022

Try as I may there is one thing I simply cannot stop doing: sinning. I can wake up with all the resolve in the world, but it isn’t very long before I can rack up      sin #1. Than sin #2. Then sin #3. Ad infinitum. Ad nauseum. Romans 3: 23 haunts me more than i want to think about. I fall short of God’s holy standard.

When I used to talk to young people about coming to Christ, I used to describe sin like a person pole-vaulting. His goal is to get over the bar. The pole vaulter gets set, runs down the track, plants the pole and doesn’t go over it. He might come up way short. He might knock the bar down. But unless he clears it, he is disqualified.

Sin is like that. Disqualifying us. Now, there are three approaches we can take:

  1. We can deny the evidence. You know…never admit sin. I believe that is called blindness and arrogance.
  2. We can wallow in our guilt and shame. Been there, done that. The reality of sin  overwhelms us. This is especially true of repetitive sin.
  3. In our grief and brokenness, we can come to the only One who can forgive us. The choice: flee or come. Run to God or run away. Why would anyone want to run away from the only One who could bring peace and relief?

“Father, I know I sin every day. Instead of denying or hiding, help me to always run to You.”

 

March 3

Thursday, March 3rd, 2022

“May I never boast except in the cross of Christ.” So the Apostle Paul says in Gal. 6:14. What does that mean?

The title of this blog is “Living in the Shadow.”  Shadow of what? We all know what a shadow is. “A dark area of shape produced by a body coming between rays of light and a surface.”  It’s also used in reference to proximity.  Think “me and my shadow.” My idea for the title was “what is it like to live in the shadow of the cross?”

Well, for one, we learn who we are. At the foot of the cross there is no rich or poor, black or white, male or female, slave or free (to borrow Paul’s words). Someone has said, “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.” The cross reminds us who we are-sinners in need of God’s grace. There is no need-no, there is no warrant for us to think we don’t need to be there or that we are not as bad off as someone else. At the foot of the cross there is no way we can or should think more highly of ourselves.

As we learn who we are, we also learn who God is. As we become more and more aware of our sinful state, we should also become more and more aware of God’s unrelenting grace. No need for me to clean up first; God does that for me.

“May I never boast except in the cross of Christ” is good advice for all of us.  Come to think of it; I have no reason to boast except in the cross. I certainly can’t boast about anything I have done. That is a losing game.

March 1

Tuesday, March 1st, 2022

Have you ever noticed that sometimes simple is best? You go into a restaurant and you are hungry for a cheeseburger. But many restaurants don’t have just a cheeseburger. They have a double cheese with bacon, avocado, onion, BBQ sauce…okay the whole kitchen sink. Its so sloppy you spend more time wiping your hands and mouth and beard (if applicable), or your shirt that you can’t even taste the cheeseburger.

I like wings-boneless- thank you very much. I don’t like them hot. I know one restaurant with so many sauces one can’t make up their mind. And to top it off they have a 3 or 5 alarm sauce. No thank you. I want to enjoy my wings. Carolina Gold with some Ranch on the side sounds really good about now.  Oops its only 5:15 a.m. 🙂

The book of Philemon-which I read this morning- is like that. Simple. To the point. People love Romans and the prison epistles that Paul wrote. I do too. But sometimes a simple message is enough. Philemon had a slave named Onesimus who ran away.  Somewhere along the line he was converted under Paul’s ministry and Paul wanted to honor Philemon by doing what was right-he offered Onesimus back to him. He could have ordered Philemon to take him (v.8), but instead he appealed to him as a friend and a lover of Jesus (v.9). If Philemon didn’t want Onesimus, Paul did!  But he wanted Philemon’s consent (v.14).

Simple. Direct. Loving. Respectful. Paul shows us how it is done. Friendship is worth preserving no matter your lot in life. No matter your likes or dislikes.

“Father, friendship is so important. Thank you for this postcard by Paul to show us how it is done. May I be a friend who is loving and respectful in all things.”

February 24

Thursday, February 24th, 2022

I’m a little late getting here this morning. An icy night slowed down some things. But here I am! 🙂 🙂

“Not me.” “Not me.” “Not me.”

If she heard it once she heard it a thousand times. My mom raised 4 boys. There was 10 years difference between me and the youngest brother so he was too young to get in on the “not me” party.

Something happened. Mom found out. She would line us up and ask which one of us did it. “Not me” three times. Then she would look at one of my brothers and say, “Why did you do it?”  The weeping and gnashing of teeth would appear and the different reasons out of their mouths, but she had found her culprit. My brothers were guilty and she exposed their lie.

As it was, so it still is. Not with them. I’m not that aware of all that is going on in their worlds to be the “action police.” No, I’m talking on a daily basis. The “not me” was an attempt to shift the blame elsewhere and not take responsibility.

We all tend to think we are more righteous than we are. We don’t like to think we are messed up as we are, as in need of God’s grace as we are, as sinful as we are. I’m good (maybe you too?) at throwing out the excuses and looking for someone else to throw under the bus.  Making excuses seems to be easier than admitting fault.

I was in a meeting yesterday with some area folks where accountability was brought up as something missing in a certain organization. And that is what all this is about. Accountability before a God who knows all, but wants us to admit our sin, confess it and seek His grace.

It is time for an honest reckoning of our need for God’s unlimited and forgiving grace…as we are honest and accountable to Him.

“Father, the ‘not me’ doesn’t work with You. You want and need me to be honest with You and with myself.”

P.S. As you probably noted, I highlighted their guilt in the “not me” scenario.” It stands to reason I was guilty…once or twice or….

January 31

Monday, January 31st, 2022

For my communion thought yesterday I shared the following:

Paul David Tripp in his book, New Morning Mercies, wrote this: “Face it, your most brilliant act of righteousness wouldn’t measure up to God’s standards; that’s why you’ve been give the grace of Jesus.” (January 30)

He goes on to write;

The more you understand the magnitude of God’s grace, the more accurate will be your view of the depth of your unrighteousness; and the more you understand the depth of your unrighteousness, the more you will appreciate the magnitude of God’s grace.

To understand God’s grace we need to understand sin. Sin in a condition of the heart which affects us all. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” It might be easy for us to deflect attention from our sin by placing more blame on someone else’s sin, but that doesn’t work with God.

God didn’t leave us in this sorry, helpless, and hopeless state. He sent His Son to do what we could not do. We can stand before a holy God-perfect in every way- broken, imperfect, weak and frail and be unafraid because Jesus stands in our place and says, “He’s mine.” (Or she’s mine). When God looks at us He sees Jesus and sees perfection, Christ’s perfection.  What is really cool is that Romans 6 says, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid.” God’s grace is always greater than my sin. That is not a license to sin, but it does give thought to the greatness of His grace.

Can there be any better news than that?

“Father, thank You for the sacrifice of Jesus. Thank you for His willingness to stand in my place. And than You for the magnitude of Your grace.”

LOVE GOD DEEPER…WORSHIP HIM MORE

 

January 18

Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

A couple of nights ago Jo was watching TV and as I was walking through I stopped to watch. It was an episode I had seen before on NCIS about the death of a homeless vet. It was at the end of the show when Gibbs was scrolling through his computer looking at vets who died homeless.  Director Vance walked in and said, “There but for the grace of God.”  Gibbs said, “Yep.”

That is a very familiar saying (“There but for the grace of God go I”). It is also a saying which can be said with no religious connotation at all. It is simple an acknowledgment of gratitude and recognition that another person’s fate is not our own.

But for the Christ-follower that phrase takes on a much deeper meaning. Think about it: all we are/ all we are not; all we have/all we have not, comes down to grace. Consider these words: “All of us, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the wrongdoing of us all to fall on Him.” (Is.53:6- NASB2020)) Other translations conclude that verse with “and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity (sin) of us all.”

We were not left alone, lost, or hopeless in despair. Not with Jesus! Isaiah tells us that Jesus chose to identify with us and become our substitute all. because. of. grace.

I would be lost. I would be lonely. I would be hopeless. I would be aimless. “There but for the grace go I.”

“Father, thank You for Your unlimited grace. Thank You for rescuing my sorry and lost soul and raising me to new life.”

January 17

Monday, January 17th, 2022

First,  some updates for you. Funny how God works. I have been wondering how Martha and Diane have been doing so I emailed Diane but wasn’t sure if Martha would be able to do that. But as I was looking I saw a post-it-note with her address (I had sent her something) and a phone number. Lo and behold it was hers!  Martha texted back and said she was doing much better and hoped to come home tomorrow (Tuesday).  She was in ICU with viral pneumonia (not COVID-related).

Diane is suffering from COVID-pneumonia.  She is now home after 7 days in the hospital. Still on oxygen. Please keep praying for her.

Now to the devotion for today:

In preparation for the next sermon series called “Truth Decay,” I just finished reading Another Gospel? by Alisa Childers for the second time. In a chapter she entitled Cosmic Child Abuse? she took on the progressives who want to say the following:

“Who originated the cross? If God did, then we worship a cosmic abuser.” (p.207) William Paul Young, author of the heretical book “The Shack.”

“Penal substitution {Note: one dying in place of another} is tantamount to child abuse.” (p.208) Steve Chalke

“God didn’t set up the sacrificial system. People did. The sacrificial system evolved as humans developed rituals and rites to help them deal with their guilt and fear.” (p.209) Rob Bell

Others like Richard Rohr and the late Rachel Held Evans were also included. Their quotes were too long to include.

I reject the whole idea of God as a cosmic child abuser. God’s wrath seen at the cross existed because He is love. It was through the death of Jesus on the cross that we find forgiveness NOT wrath.

In Galatians 6:14 Paul wrote, “May I never boast except in the cross of Christ.”  The progressives can say, “May I never boast except in man’s efforts/ingenuity.” Guaranteed that unless they come to the cross, they will most definitely experience God’s wrath (which they say doesn’t exist because He is a God of love not wrath).

“Father, thank you for the cross.”

LOVE GOD DEEPER…WORSHIP HIM MORE