Categories
Christian Blog forgiveness

Must Repentance Happen All at Once?

My blogging buddy Jeffrey has a daily series where he shares a scripture passage and then provides some brief thoughts. The topic this July 4th was, “Let it go,”– based on Colossians 3:13–and it was all about forgiving the faults of others because, after all, Jesus does the same for us.

Jeffrey is quite the wordsmith when it comes to encapsulating truth. And somehow, this pithy statement (below) jarred my memory about a rush to judgement involving someone who later became famous.

We’re all in the ditch. Who’s got the right to say I’m muddier than they are?

Jeffrey H. King, in Quote for 07/04/2020

I recently learned an interesting fact about country music legend Willie Nelson. In the 1950’s he taught Sunday School at a Baptist church in Fort Worth, Texas! However, his pastor gave him an ultimatum–either stop playing music in beer joints, or stop teaching Sunday School.

Nelson, who told Rolling Stone magazine in 1978 that he once considered being a preacher, left the church (and organized Christianity) for good. Understandably, he was disappointed by a policy that arbitrarily condemned people like him. According to a 1997 interview in Texas Monthly, “Willie’s God was always willing to give a guy another chance.”

*Maybe it’s just me, but that pastor sounds a bit legalistic.

No, playing music in bars and teaching Sunday School don’t exactly go together, but was it REALLY necessary to give Willie such an ultimatum?

“Don’t conclude before you understand. After you understand, don’t judge.”

Ann Dunham

Instead of firing Willie, his pastor could have suggested starting a Saturday night concert series at the church, where Nelson and his music buddies played alcohol free shows featuring gospel and G-rated country music. Monetary donations for the musicians could have come from church members and the community. Who knows, maybe the “Red-headed Stranger” would have said yes?

That church missed a unique opportunity to reach people with the gospel.

This brings up the idea of repentance. It means the same thing between everyone and God–a turning around–but it doesn’t always happen the same way. Some have an all-at-once-life-changing testimony, but others do not.

Please observe the following crudely drawn illustrations:

My good friend, and brother in Christ, came up with a saying that’s a great example of the picture on the right:

“Two wrongs don’t make a right, but three lefts do.”

Tom Myers

Just in case you’re wondering, the idea that people can repent in stages, and not just all at once, is in the Bible.

2 Kings chapter 5:1-19 tells the story of Naaman, a brave Syrian army commander. He was a successful soldier, and the king’s right hand man, but Naaman had an incurable skin disease called leprosy. Through a captured Israelite girl, he is encouraged to seek healing from the prophet Elisha.

The General is healed of his leprosy, and pledges—going forward—to worship only the God of Israel. However, he asks for forgiveness, when, back home with the King of Syria, he visits the temple of the pagan god Rimmon and customarily bows to the idol.

Elisha’s response? “Go in peace.”

So, there it is. One of the greatest prophets of Israel’s history didn’t condemn a man for wrongly bowing to an idol; he knew Naamon would keep turning left until he was right.

Something tells me, had they lived at the same time and place, Willie and Naamon would have been good friends.

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Jesus –Luke 6:37

*Perhaps it’s hypocritical of me to judge Willie’s pastor. Like my buddy Jeffrey H. King says, let it go.

Categories
Christian Living Discipleship

The Narrow Path

One of my favorite blogs is Devotional Treasures. Alan, who goes by the moniker holytreasurehunter, is a brother in Christ from the Kingdom of Fife.

Yes, I had to look it up. Fife is in Scotland, and it’s home to over 40 golf courses–including the world famous seaside links at St. Andrews.

On Devotional Treasures you’ll find simple stories about prayer, revival and walking with God. There are also amazing pictures of the Scottish countryside, along with wonderful scriptural applications to life.

What impresses me most about Alan’s blog, however, is how he comes across: he is simply a guy who takes walks with God and then writes about it.

Please check out Devotional Treasures; you’ll be glad you did!


Actually, it was a post Alan wrote on July 9th, entitled The Way of the Lord, that inspired this one.

As I mentioned earlier, the holytreasurehunter likes to take walks through the Scottish countryside near his home. One of his favorite journeys reaches its highest point at a place he calls the narrow path.

Photo by Alan from Devotional Treasures. Used by permission.

As you can see, this is most certainly a single person one-way walking situation! In fact, Alan says he often “steps up on the stone dyke to let folk pass.”

Anyway, the post refers to Matthew 7:12-14, about the narrow gate that leads to heaven. I kept staring and staring at that slim path in the picture until it dawned on me: there’s only room for one person at a time–with Christ in front leading the way!

Two days later, I opened a compilation of classic Our Daily Bread devotional readings. The entry for July 11 was entitled, No Place For The Devil.

The key verse was Ephesians 4:27, where Paul exhorts his readers to, “Neither give place to the devil.” According to the author, the word ‘place’ is important. The devil can’t fill the same ‘place’ as the Holy Spirit.

“It’s the narrow path!” I blurted out loud. If I’m filled to the brim with the Holy Spirit, there’s no room for the devil!

It’s just Jesus and me.

There’s one caveat, however: being filled with the Spirit means handing over the reins of life to the will of God (Romans 12:2). And the best way to know the will of God is to know the Word of God.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Psalm 119:105

Isn’t it amazing how a brother blogger and a devotional writer from 50 years ago worked together–within 48 hours of each other–to impress the same truth into another believer’s heart?

God is good!

Categories
Christian Blog Giving

The Blessing Box

From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.

John 1:16

In my little hometown, there’s a Blessing Box. It’s an old soda cooler repurposed by a kind family and filled with non-perishable food. People take what they need and leave what they can. The box has only been active for a few months, but it looks like items are both coming and going.

Whoever came up with this idea is an angel! A barrier to giving and receiving has been broken down, because those using the box can remain relatively anonymous–its, quite simply, take it and/or leave it.

A friend from South Korea once remarked that people in the West find it easier to show kindness than to receive it. Do you agree?

Frankly, I see her point, it’s harder for me to receive than to give. However, the early Christians in the book of Acts were comfortable with both.

All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone who had need.

Act 2:44-45

The passage above doesn’t mention in detail how the receivers responded to the gifts, but it appears both give AND take were welcomed.

Interdependent generosity still exists among Christians today.

My brother and sister-in-law live on eleven acres at the edge of a local city. Full Quiver Farms (they have seven children) is always abuzz with back and forth blessings.

The Boy Scouts need a place to store a massive trailer filled with canoes? Not a problem. “Park it in the back,” says my older brother. A friend’s mom was flooded out by a hurricane for the second time? “She can stay with us as long as she likes,” says my sister-in-law.

But the gate also swings the other way. When my brother’s family needs something (maybe a pickup truck and trailer) they reach out to their ‘blessing buddies’ and borrow it. Back and forth it goes, and it’s been happening for years!

Christians can be Blessing Boxes with skin on!



Take what you need. Leave what you can. But, above all, be blessed.

By yourself you’re unprotected.
With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round up a third?
A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 (MSG)

https://davidsdailydose.org/2020/07/11/the-blessing-box/

Categories
Christian Blog Comfort Hope

God is God, Wherever You Are

Photo by Farrel Nobel on Unsplash

For many of us, these times we’re living through have brought forceful emotions to the surface. For me, this has been particularly visible through mood swings and dreams.

I’ve always been susceptible to up and down emotions, but COVID 19, and now racial tensions on a national level, have taken things up a notch. The hills, drops, and loops of my life roller coaster are larger and occur more frequently.

Hyper-vigilance is the new norm. An unexpected loud sound–FedEx guy rings the doorbell and the dogs go nuts–sends my adrenaline soaring. A typically low-grade frustration takes me from sea level to death valley in a microsecond. It’s like I’m sailing on an even keel one moment, and slipping on a banana peel the next.

Uncertainty impacts the mind.

My pre-covid emotions were driving a Toyota Prius. Currently, I’m cruising in something more like this:


Dreams: they reveal our subconscious desires, and lately mine have been most enchanting. Two nights in a row, I’ve dreamed of intense platonic interactions with others.

Dream number one involves a heart-to-heart conversation with a former colleague I haven’t seen in years. In the second dream, I’m bear-hugging a childhood friend. I’ve also dreamed I’m at some sort of adult summer camp with a bunch of strangers, hiking through the wilderness and making smores by the fire.

Obviously, I’m craving connection with others.

Isolation impacts the mind.

Uncertainty and isolation pack a one-two punch that can put you on the canvas in a heartbeat.

For me, it’s always comforting to look in the Bible for someone who faced a similar situation. Evidently, the psalmist was going through a bit of a dry spell when he wrote this:

As the deer pants for the streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God, when can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42:1-2 NIV)

Clearly, here’s a person craving connection, but with God, not man. Maybe this is the secret.

In another psalm, there’s a different deer:

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to stand on the heights. (Psalm 18:32-33 NIV)

Thirsty for a drink, or standing on the heights, God is the one who sustains.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:12-13

God is God, wherever you are.

Follows your heart–no matter how far.

Sees every turn. Knows every scar.

He’s still God–wherever you are.