Tag: forgiveness

snow

alphabet of thanks, “W”

I’m thankful for the color WHITE today.

First of all, let’s go back to my post about the color red and why I’m thankful for it. I told you there was another reason I liked red which I would share today. It’s because it reminds me of the price that was paid for me, for all of us.

red

It reminds me that my sins, which the Bible describes as the color of “crimson” (red), is washed whiter than snow.

Every time, and I do mean every time,  we have our first big snowfall, I think of that verse. It gives me such a feeling of being covered with grace. It reminds me of the forgiveness that is mine. It reminds me of the mercy that covers my sin.

snow

 

I’ve always liked white paired with red.

It really never dawned on me until I wrote the post about red, that that is the reason I like the combination of red and white.

The red reminds me from what I’ve been rescued; the white reminds me I have been rescued.

It provides me with a visual journey of Jesus’s sacrifice and my redemption.

God bless and have a wonderful pre-Thanksgiving day today.

 

 

expressing our Christian views

How to express our Christian views.

I’m ashamed to admit I got pulled into a less than kind exchange with someone on another blog some time ago.

I wasn’t unkind; they were. Wow, were they!

The author of the blog didn’t like the fact that I disagreed with him on some points. However, I also agreed with him on a number of points.

It was the agreement that prompted one of his commenters, not him,  to unleash his hate on me.

Apparently, because I wasn’t willing to condemn certain groups of our society straight to hell because of their behavior, I was the one in danger of going there myself. I guess I was too “liberal” in my Christian views.

I’m upset with myself for being drawn into a disagreement with someone whose only agenda was to argue and not seek to understand. His “words” were mean and hate-filled.

But can I say as a woman who has called God her “father” for years, I don’t understand hatred, no matter where it’s coming from and no matter to whom it is addressed. And I’m sad to say it often comes out of the mouths of those who claim to be followers of Jesus. In fact, can I further propose, it’s worse when it comes from Christians.

Christians who have experienced love and forgiveness from an almighty God should be the last people on this earth to condemn anyone for differing views.

I’m guessing that either:

  1. They’ve never understood the gift they have received,
  2. They don’t understand “forgiveness”,
  3. They’ve forgotten their own history,
  4. They are not really followers of Christ.

To make it clear, we don’t have to water-down our faith. We never have to pretend to agree with someone’s point of view if we really don’t.  We should feel free to voice our beliefs no matter what.

But there are ways to use our words that draw people to God not push them away. 

If we read just the story of Jesus and just his words, we see the balance between speaking truth and showing love. Somehow Jesus managed to do both. And yes, he did upset people. I’m not suggesting we won’t as well.

If we offend someone because of beliefs and we’ve expressed our views respectfully, then their offense is on them, not us. For that we don’t have to apologize or feel bad. We have spoken the truth.

But if we offend someone because we have directed hate towards them, we’re the ones who need forgiveness.

This week I’ve written about “words” and how our words make a difference. I offer a challenge this morning.

Read the Proverbs. You will find references to how we should communicate in every chapter. There is more good advice in that book than any other book in the Bible.

Wars have been fought, marriages have ended, friendships destroyed, and lives have ended because of words.

With every encounter, we use words. They are either tools or weapons.

God bless and have a good day.

 

 

Maundy Thursday

When you’re worried about making a big mistake

Last night my husband and I went to our church’s Maundy evening service.

A Maundy service commemorates the ceremony of washing the feet of the poor, especially commemorating Jesus’ washing of His disciples’ feet on Maundy Thursday, the night before his crucifixion. 

Our service was a combined service along with twenty other local churches. We expected a big crowd so my husband and I got to church early only to sit and wait for the church to fill up. It didn’t. But there was a nice diversity of people.

At one point there was a re-enactment of the washing of feet with four pastors taking turns. But the best part was the service of Tenebrae.

The word “Tenebrae” comes from the Latin meaning “darkness”, or “shadow”.  The Tenebrae is an ancient Christian Good Friday service that makes use of gradually diminishing light through the extinguishing of candles to that symbolizes the events of Holy Week from the triumphant Palm Sunday entry through Jesus’ burial. Lights are gradually diminished with the increasing darkness symbolizing the darkness of Jesus’ death. When the church gets dark, worshippers are encouraged to take that time to reflect on their life in light of the death Jesus and what it means to them personally.

Maundy Thursday

We had seven different pastors read portions of that week’s events, from the betrayal to the crucifixion. The readers were particularly good. Some of the headings of the Scriptures were, “The Shadow of His Agony and Arrest in the Garden”, “The Shadow of His Death”, etc.

A young man from our church sang some “dark” songs in between each reading. However, at the end, a man from one of our local black churches sang “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” I can only say, it sent shivers down my spine. This version will, too.

But here’s what it meant to me.

I’ve struggled with some things surrounding my mom’s declining health, including taking care of her finances and getting things in order. It’s been very stressful for lots of reasons I can’t share. I’ve struggled with the “unfairness” surrounding some of these issues.

Ordinarily, I never consider whether I’m being treated fairly or not. It’s not who I am usually. But it has been with this experience.

While I sat there last night, it occurred to me that these circumstances are allowing me to experience on even the tiniest scale how Jesus must have felt about the unfairness of what was happening to him. There is, of course, no scripture to suggest this, but I don’t think it’s too far a stretch to think that Jesus might have had a moment when he thought that way. Remember, Jesus was as human as he was divine.

I felt properly chagrined at my attitude when I considered what I was dealing with compared to the unfairness of a crucifixion of an innocent man.

We usually don’t attend the Maundy service so I surprised myself when I told my husband I wanted to go. Now I know why. I needed a “slap up along side my head”, and I got it.

But as the service went on and I was feeling pretty bad about my former attitude. (Part of being forgiven is thinking seriously about our sin.  If we really are aware of our sin, there should be some feelings of sadness. That’s how change usually happens and accepting forgiveness means a change is needed. We just don’t accept forgiveness and go one making the same mistake. We might for a while till we get it “licked” but it’s not something that continues. If it does, we weren’t serious when we confessed it.)  It also occurred to me that I had been worrying I would make some really wrong decisions during this season of my mom’s impending death.

During the service, I felt God saying to me, “I will never let you make a big mistake if you just keep listening.”

I know that now.

We can trust God to lead us in the right way, if we follow his voice. And following his voice means, praying and listening, and reading his word. There is no other way.

I’m so glad I was there last night. “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” took on new meaning.

God bless and I hope the miracle of Easter Sunday has special meaning for you.

forgiveness

How to really forgive and should we forget?

(This is a long post today but not nearly long enough. The subject is forgiveness which certainly can’t be thoroughly covered in one post.)

Forgiveness is such an over-used, over-applied, and misunderstood word I can hardly bear to hear it spoken. People use the word so casually anymore, it’s lost its meaning. I’m a Christian and I believe in forgiveness but I have big issues with how the word is bandied about these days.

First of all, forgiveness should be considered a serious issue. God thought it such a serious issue, he sent his son, Jesus, to die to pave the way for our forgiveness. And that way was death. So when we haphazardly and casually use the word, we ought to be ashamed. After all, God apparently spent centuries considering forgiveness and what He needed to do about it. So if it was that hard for God why shouldn’t it be for us as well?

Secondly, forgiveness should never be given easily for a serious offense. If someone has truly hurt you or someone you love, it needs to be addressed first. Before you forgive, you need to let the person know exactly what was said or done that offended you.

A blanket “I forgive you” without the offense being clearly defined, is a forgiveness that isn’t a healing kind of forgiveness. It’s shallow and doesn’t enable long-lasting healing. 

And if it’s us that needs the forgiveness, we need to be willing to listen and offer a genuine apology with the intention of not committing the same error again. If we continue with that behavior, we might still be forgiven but we can’t expect the relationship will certainly deteriorate or terminate altogether. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we keep “stepping in it”.  And a “my bad” is not an apology.

And finally, too many people like to say they forgive because they are afraid to confront.

I know way too many people like that and sometimes I’m one of them. Sometimes we say we “forgive” because we simply don’t want to confront. 

But that’s dishonest.

We say we forgive but we hold in our hurts and they end up weighing us down. Unless they are addressed and discussed, forgiveness becomes only an exercise in using the word. The perpetrator thinks they’ve been forgiven when they’ve only been dismissed. And if we’re the perpetrator we operate under the same illusion. And our behavior is held against us when we thought we were forgiven.

All you have to do is see what happens to families when someone dies and there’s a little money left over and someone doesn’t get what they thought they should. Wow. Every old hurt comes to the surface. Every little thing that was swept under the rug is shaken out from under that same rug. Wounds fester and sometimes families fall completely apart.

When Jesus forgave it was always with the condition that the behavior would change. Even when those words weren’t spoken, one only has to read all that Jesus said to know it is true. We are always held accountable. Forgiven, yes, loved, yes. Accountability, yes!!

The timing of forgiveness is crucial. If we wait too long, we will simply forget about it and the offender will never know of his need for forgiveness. If we forgive really serious offenses too quickly, we cheapen the meaning and price of forgiveness. 

Let’s also remember that every little thing that offends us doesn’t require forgiveness. I mean do you go to the Emergency Room for a minor cut when a band-aid will do?  Truth is, we might be offended too easily. That’s our problem. If you find that you’re always having to forgive others, maybe you’re just too sensitive.

And some things just aren’t that important. I mean look at Facebook. The things that people get offended over these days is just ludicrous. What happened to a sense of humor?

I hope you don’t think I’m suggesting we don’t forgive. What I am saying is that forgiveness is a serious act as demonstrated by the cost Jesus paid. We shouldn’t treat it lightly. If we say we have forgiven someone, we’d better be ready to live it out. I can’t think of any offense greater than to “fake” forgiveness. And I think it happens all the time.

  • We can choose to overlook a lot of things. That is not forgiveness.
  • We can choose to ignore a lot of things. That is not forgiveness.
  • We can choose to “go along” to “get along”. That is not forgiveness.
  • We can choose to pretend it never happened. That is not forgiveness.

So how do we know we’ve forgiven someone? I think it’s when we feel a peace within ourselves. It’s when we can genuinely wish the best for that person. It’s when the offense no longer occupies our every thought or keep us awake at night. We know we’ve forgiven when we get on with our lives. You notice I didn’t say forget. I can’t think of a scripture verse that says we have to forget and I do believe that we can remember without having it affect us negatively.

How do I know? Because I’ve had to forgive some very serious offenses over my lifetime. I can tell you today that my life is one hundred percent better because of it. Some of the forgiveness took years to accomplish. In most cases, I was not given the opportunity to discuss anything because the other party wasn’t willing to have that conversation. As I wrote in the beginning, it would have been so much more healing if we could have.

But I didn’t do it flippantly. I took my time to think it through so that when I finally uttered those words, they meant something.

Probably most people confuse forgiveness with absolution. When we forgive we don’t absolve anyone of their behavior. Only God can do that and God only does that if asked. Remember that. When we forgive, we aren’t saying we condone the offense. There might well be legal and moral consequences. People are still accountable whether forgiven or not. That includes us.

And the final thing about forgiveness is how to do when it’s so hard to do. I simply remind myself of all I’ve already been forgiven. If I got what I deserved, I probably wouldn’t be here. Most of us wouldn’t. God is that good.

I hope if you’re struggling today with this whole subject, you find this helpful. I highly recommend this book called “Forgive and Forget”, by Lewis B. Smedes, for an in-depth study of this subject.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.

ashamed

What to do when you’re ashamed of yourself

Boy, have you ever gone through a spell when you were thoroughly and completely ashamed of yourself?

ashamed

I sure have.

I sure am.

Not because I’ve done anything to be ashamed of but because I feel my heart has been so lacking in compassion.

We can be so hard on ourselves. We prefer to punish ourselves rather than confess our dark heart to the Lord.

In our humanness, we feel we need to be punished. Isn’t that the way the world works? Isn’t that what we deserve?

I'm ashamed

To bring it to God and have it washed away just for the sincere asking seem preposterous to our feeble minds. And yet that’s what God says we are to do. That’s why his son was sacrificed, that’s why his son was resurrected.

And yet some make forgiveness so cheap. Ask and you will receive. But it isn’t quite as casual as it sounds.

With confession and forgiveness must come a change. James McDonald, famous author and pastor, says, “If you’re faith hasn’t changed you, it hasn’t saved you.” I buy that.

Words are cheap. Maybe we can’t change all at once but if we’re not seeing any progress, our sincerity might be in question.

And I think sometimes we are too quick to ask for forgiveness. If we give ourselves a little time, we might learn that what we think we need forgiveness for is not where the real problem lies. For example, a person might ask for forgiveness for snapping at someone when the underlying issue is really jealousy. The first requires an apology; the second forgiveness.

So let’s not be too hard on ourselves but let’s be honest and thoughtful with our confession.

forgiveness

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