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Christian Blog forgiveness

Weeds Are Flowers Too

“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.”

A.A. Milne

If the guys on my dorm hallway at seminary had been the twelve disciples, then *Sean Fitzpatrick would have been Peter. Too say that ‘Surly Sean,’ as he was known, was rough around the edges is putting it kindly. Brash, quick tempered and occasionally foul-mouthed, he was far from the typical divinity student.
Sean looked like a shorter version of Tom Selleck, from the show Magnum P.I.–right down to the shorts and Hawaiian shirt. And just like the character on television, he was always ready with a playful insult.

I asked one of the other guys on the hall, “What’s with this dude?!” My friend told me that Sean came to seminary after his father died of a heart attack while they were on a hunting trip. The grieving young man was adrift, so his pastor suggested he come cross-country to attend seminary–thinking it might help the healing process. But Sean only lasted one semester; training to be a pastor was NOT his calling. This was no surprise to the rest of us.

Nevertheless, as I got to know my fractious neighbor, I realized he was a true brother in Christ who just happened to come from a different place than I did. Sean told me of growing up in Philadelphia, where Irish kids like him walked down the middle of the street to avoid being mugged. It was unimaginable, to a small town boy like me, who grew up where people seldom locked their doors.

We lost touch after he left seminary, but something told me Sean was back in Philly. So three years later, I looked him up. He was married and a recent father to a baby daughter. I reminded him that the last time we’d talked he insulted me. I won’t repeat what he said–this is a G-rated blog–but to him, these were terms of endearment. However, three years later, he couldn’t believe he’d talked to me like that! Clearly, Surly had sweetened. He even thanked me for being a good friend during a tough time in his life.

There are lots of ‘Seans’ out there, people who aren’t exactly like you or me, people who are hurting. And God loves them too. Remember one of the nicknames Jesus’ enemies gave Him? They called him a ‘Friend of Sinners’ (Matthew 7:43).

When Sean showed up at a seminary, he was like Zacchaeus in the Bible, up in a tree looking for Jesus. But most of us pious would be pastors avoided him, because we thought weeds aren’t really flowers. We were wrong.

For the son of man came to seek and save the lost.

Luke 19:10

*not his real name.

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 Blog forgiveness Hope

There’s Something ALL Over the Floor!

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)

The other day I was hungry, so I went into the kitchen and made a sandwich. I also poured myself a tall, cold glass of lemonade. But the pitcher was pretty full and a tiny amount sloshed out on the floor. So I got a paper towel and wiped it up. Mission accomplished. I thought.

My wife comes into the kitchen while I’m eating, and as she passes the fridge she freezes in her tracks, looks down and says, “There’s something ALL over the floor!” I say, “Where?! I cleaned it up!” “Can’t you see it? Right there,” she says, pointing at an invisible spot in front of the Frigidaire. I’m crouching down like a golfer reading a line for a putt, but I don’t see it. “It’s sticky,” she says. “Did you spill some lemonade?”

BUSTED.

Isn’t this how we are with God sometimes?

God: “There’s something ALL over your life.”
Me: “Where?! I cleaned it up!”
God: “Can’t you see it? Right there.” (He points to my heart.)

Question: What’s a passing grade with God? My son asked me that once. I hated to break it to him, but I told him it’s a 100 A+. He looked at me with huge eyes. Even at nine years old, he knew getting a 100 all the time is next to impossible.

There is no one righteous, not even one; (Romans 3:11 NIV)

There is good news, as you probably know. God may not grade on the curve, but He DOES show mercy.

If you , O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. (Psalm 130:3-4 NIV)

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you that we can be reunited with you through the blood of Christ. Without Him, we could never make the grade. AMEN

https://davidsdailydose.org/2020/06/20/theres-something-all-over-the-floor/

Categories
forgiveness Hope

Peace by Piece

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

Romans 14:19

During WWII, Matsuko and her family were among the many Japanese Americans forcibly interred in camps. For three years she longed to return to the farm near Salinas, CA where her husband Hayato’s family had grown strawberries for three generations. It was HOME.

Finally, the war ended and the Nakamura family returned. But as they stood across the road from their once well kept farm, it was clear all was NOT well. The strawberry fields surrounding their home were overgrown and the front door of the house gaped wide open.

Thankfully, a kind neighbor saved all the farm equipment, but the house had been ransacked. Almost everything of value had been either looted or destroyed.

Matsuko was particularly distressed that the pillagers smashed all of her mother’s china. Not one plate, cup, or saucer survived intact. She began that same day to sort the broken pieces, putting them carefully back together with glue.

One day her young son, Kato, asked her why she was going to so much trouble. After all, she’d only been able to patch together a few plates.

I must take things broken apart and make them whole again.

Matsuko Nakamura

Thank God for people like Matsuko who strive to make things right; who pick up the pieces (no matter how small) and put them back together again.

Is there something broken today that with God’s help you could “peace” back together?

Blessed are the peacemakers.

Jesus (Matthew 5:9)

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/08/03/peace-by-piece/

Categories
acceptance forgiveness grace Hope Justice

That’s Not Fair!

slippery foot dangerous fall
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging.” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” Romans 12:17-19 The Message

It’s a privilege to spend most of my days teaching four and five-year olds. The miraculous mix of wonder, authenticity, and innocence found in young children is indeed a balm for the soul.

What a pre-kindergartener feels is right on the surface-there is no mask. Such an, “always keeping it REAL” approach to life is inspiring.

Take, for instance, my most recent encounter with a pint-sized Italian girl who speaks almost no English. Twice during class she abruptly stood up, put her little hands on her hips, and bellowed,”Non e giusto!” in her native tongue. A quick check with Google Translate solved the mystery. She was saying, “That’s not fair!”

Of course, it was something relatively insignificant–to an adult. Someone took her place in line; she didn’t get a turn. “Calma per favore,” I said in a pleasant voice–“Calm down, please.”

The next morning, I read the scripture above during my devotional time. Then God whispered, “You know, David, you act like a preschooler sometimes; you let people push your, “That’s not fair!’ button.” I have to admit, He’s right.

I often judge myself by my intentions but judge others by their actions. I take offense and contemplate vengeance without knowing all the facts. I presume to be wiser than God.

#bad recipe

According to Jesus, our response to an offense should be forgiveness (Luke 6:37). We are to desire justice, (Micah 6:8) not revenge.

“Calma per favore,” says the Almighty. “I’ll take care of it.”