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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
Christian Blog honesty

Just a Little Off Course

Photo by Kristopher Allison on Unsplash

I read a story recently about a plane that crashed into a mountain because the pilot, while on approach to an airport, unknowingly followed the wrong navigational beacon. The cockpit instruments told him his true position, but he kept flying off course for over a minute–until it was too late. Post crash analysis confirmed: the pilot had not noticed a one-degree-per-second turn to the right. The autopilot was dialed to the wrong navigational aid.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

Proverbs 14:12

The story above brings to mind the error of the Pharisees and Sadducees in the New Testament. They took God’s law and added their own rules to it. And just like the story of the pilot, following the wrong navigational beacon led to disaster.

For a fresh look at how this is still happening today, please read, Christian-Social identity or Spiritual reality? by Perth Girl.

Now, to my own story of getting off course from Christ. For most of my adult life I’ve struggled with social anxiety; last year, after suffering two panic attacks in as many weeks, I sought relief through mindfulness meditation.

Sitting quietly, one chooses a focal point–like the breath–and keeps coming back to it when distracted. The idea is to let your thoughts (good or bad) float by like clouds while you observe with curiosity. The result is like pushing a pause button on life, and it really helped with my anxiety.

I downloaded a couple of meditation apps, read some great books by mindfulness experts, and participated in live-streamed offerings. But the more I delved into mindfulness, which is rooted in Buddhism, the more I realized the navigational beacon of my teachers was Buddha, not Jesus Christ.

It dawned on me, I was taking a one-degree-per-second turn away from the Living God, inadvertently setting my auto pilot on the wrong flight path. Thankfully, I listened to the Holy Spirit and got back on course with Christ.

Jesus answered, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

I still meditate occasionally, but now I keep in mind where the true airport is!

Photo by Patricia McCarty on Pexels.com

For a different look at this same subject, please see my post, What Time is It?

Categories
Hope

An Alternate Past

Photo by Ashutosh Sonwani on Pexels.com

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever–do not abandon the work of your hands.

Psalm 138:8

Last night, I had an intense dream. I was riding with my brother in his 2000 GMC Yukon, as he confronted me about my alcohol abuse. I listened, but then pointed to my recently imploded career and crumbling marriage as a hopeless situation that drove me to drink. My brother wasn’t buying it, as he brought up a mutual mentor of ours who’d always believed in us both. I feigned agreement, but simply wanted out of that SUV–somewhere where I could be alone with my addiction.

Clearly, this was a flashback to an alternate past; my brother sold that Yukon years ago! My ministry and marriage did indeed fall apart (in 2000), but I’ve never struggled with alcohol abuse, though it IS a family weakness.

Friend, I believe God rewound my life last night and showed me what COULD have been– had I not trusted His grace and followed His steps at a pivotal time.

If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand.

Psalm 37:24

I don’t know about you, but I tend to fixate on questions about my NEXT step, not the steps I’ve already taken. But in reality, they’re both on the same path, one that God has planned from start to finish (Ephesians 2:10).

Today, and always, may you and I trust God enough to stick to the main roads of His providence. AMEN

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/06/11/an-alternate-past/

Categories
Christian Blog Comfort

Teddy Bear Out The Window

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18

My wife and I were driving to church this morning, and there he was: a little brown teddy bear lying face down on the shoulder of the interstate. Both of us agreed there must be a story behind this seemingly lost friend, one that involves a heartbroken little person.

Isn’t it interesting how we develop emotional attachments to objects like stuffed animals? Somehow, they generate security and help us self-soothe.

Until I was about 4 years old, my “teddy bear” was a small crocheted blanket the family aptly named, “Nasty.” I’m told (I don’t remember any of this), I refused to let go of Nasty long enough for him to be washed. And when my mother occasionally did coax my little comforter from my grasp—for a much needed bath–I stood in the utility room and cried the WHOLE time.

I still have Nasty. He is safe in a trunk with several other family heirlooms. Yet other adult appropriate security blankets have taken his place. A special co-worker, a much loved family member or mentor, or even a favorite chair, I’m sure you can relate.

Psalm 34:18 says that God is CLOSE to the broken hearted; He doesn’t keep driving when our teddy bears go out the window. He also helps those who are crushed in spirit; He sent an angel to comfort Jesus when he collapsed at the cusp of His own crucifixion (Luke 22:40-46).

And He will comfort you and me. Guaranteed.

Check out the very next verse of Psalm 34!

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all;

Psalm 34:19a

Hold on Teddy, Daddy’s coming…

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/06/09/teddy-bear-out-the-window/

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.”

Categories
Comfort grace love Peace Protection

The Miracle in the Rain

“I will be glad and rejoice in Your love,
for You saw my affliction
and knew the anguish of my soul.” Psalm 30:7

It was raining steadily as dozens of cars crept through the student drop-off line at my school. Some students prepared for the weather, wearing rubber boots and carrying umbrellas, but others did not. One little girl, in particular, was reluctant to get out of the car in just her tee-shirt and shorts. From the school doorway, I could see her and dad going back and forth.  Finally, I saw him say, “Get OUT of the CAR!”
The dejected youngster exited slowly and began to make her way down the stairs to the building below–head down and arms folded. By the time she reached the door, she was soaked, her clothes polka-dotted with rain. I said, “Good morning, young lady!” But it was too late; she promptly burst into tears.

Several children waiting to go into the building noticed the commotion. Turning to look in unison, they seemed about to take a step back. But then, the most amazing thing happened. One child stepped forward, and then another, and another. The drenched and distraught 2nd grader and I were soon surrounded by smiling students, one of whom exclaimed, “Group Hug!” Quickly, everyone encircled the two of us in a tight ball, frozen in place for a good five seconds.

When everyone let go, a miracle had occurred! The sopping wet youngster was no longer sobbing. She dabbed her eyes with a tissue, offered by another student, and chose to face the day.

As a Christian, it is comforting to believe God knows the troubles of my soul and sees the pouring “rain” on this life’s journey. He is a God of love who helps us love one another. A group of children and a little wet friend just reminded me of this.

black and white clear cool dew
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Categories
grace

Bottomless Grace

milky way galaxy during nighttime
Photo by Hristo Fidanov on Pexels.com

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”  2 Cor. 12:9

Do you remember that carnival ride, the one with the false floor?  It spins around really fast and then the bottom drops out.

Fortunately, it spun so fast centrifugal force held everyone in place; nobody fell into the abyss.

Isn’t God like that?

Every time the bottom drops out of life, His powerful grace holds us in place.

It’s a done deal.  God’s grace is always enough.  Not will be or may be, but IS!

Trust His bottomless grace.

 

Categories
grace

Showing Grace to Others

boy child clouds kid
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

“The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction.” Prov. 16:21  

Many of us have heard the saying, “A child may forget what you say or do, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”

The scripture above contains a truth of God that is as real as the Law of Gravity:  “pleasant words promote instruction.”

Being gracious to others isn’t always easy or come naturally, but it’s God’s way of doing things.

The challenge today is to extend God’s grace to others–whether they deserve it or not.  After all, He has been gracious to us.

“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” Ps. 103:10

This post originally appeared August 25, 2018.