Tag: forgiveness

War, earthquakes, famine

We are currently in battles over bathrooms, gay weddings and a host of liberal issues.  Some would call these 1st world problems.  Since our country is wealthy and at peace we can take the time to argue over such trivial things.  If we were at war or dealing with a natural disaster or famine we would never bother to spend time on such stupid subjects.

The point is, if we were fighting for our survival we wouldn’t worry about who was married or what bathroom they used.  In a catastrophic world, we would be lucky to have any kind of bathroom.  We probably wouldn’t have the luxury of having traditional weddings with cakes and photographers.  Survival.  That’s all we would be focused on.

What may be a sin in a 1st world may not be anything in survival mode.  What may be disgusting in normal settings may be celebrated under extreme conditions.  Eating a rat is repulsive to me but if I was starving, a rat may look pretty good.  You get the point?

Now you may say sin is sin.  True.  But many rules go out the window when survival is at hand.  I think Grace moves to a new level and Mercy definitely has new status.  You just can’t condemn someone who is trying to survive.  I don’t support looters but someone stealing a loaf of bread to feed their family . . . well….

You may think that you are living in 1st world reality with no real problems but we’re not.  We are at war.  People all around us are suffering and trying to survive.  Sin is sin but don’t forget about Grace and Mercy.  And while you’re at it, throw in a little Love.  We’re not in Kansas anymore.

Matthew 24:6-8

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

world fell apart

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Forgiven

You messed up.  Bad.

You need to confess to your loved ones.  You need to confess to God.

Will they forgive you?

Will you forgive yourself?

Will you stand again and move on?

How long will you beat yourself up?

If God says your forgiven, aren’t you?

Let it go and move. (and give yourself a break)

Luke 7:46-48

46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

jonah

Wash your feet

I was talking with a dear friend of mine this week and she gave me this quote: “Wash the dirt off your feet”.  That hit me.  She didn’t realize it at the time but I really needed that!

We all go through struggles.  We all step in the mud and sometimes it is the other dark stuff!  It’s a mess and when it dries it will stay unless we wash it off.   It’s bad enough that we walk through trials and tribulations but when we continue to carry the dirt it holds us back from what we are called to do.  We keep those memories and hurts close and the dust reminds us everyday what damage was done.

Wash the dirt off and begin walking in a new day.  Don’t let the dust of the past hold you down.  Wash your feet and be joyful for a new opportunity to come!

John 13:12  (NIV)

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.

feet

Thank you to Ralph Munstermann for sending me this photo of a prison ministry team washing the feet of prisoners in a South African prison.

On the other side of Planned Parenthood

Besides writing about my son’s suicide, this may be the hardest article that I’ve written.  I am an avid pro-lifer and I have stood against Planned Parenthood ever since I was in 8th grade and a PP rep laughed at a boy who raised a question about condoms being too big to fit him.  Yes – true story – To be fair, her answer (after snickering) was “if it is too big, you don’t need one”.  This sophisticated answer came from an organization attempting to stop unwanted pregnancy and sexual disease.

I am not writing today about body parts and selling them for research.  I am writing for the silent hurting women who may have had an abortion because they felt like it was their only option.  I’m writing to women who may have been deceived by PP or another provider not knowing the affect to themselves.  I’ve been told rather boldly that I can’t comment on abortion because I don’t have a uterus.  I also haven’t had my legs amputated but I can have empathy for those who have.  And, by the way, don’t comment on teen suicide or adoption or separation disorder unless your child has died from it.  Get my point?

I am not a woman but I am a father and grandfather.  I can’t imagine the fear, anxiety and angst of a woman who finds herself pregnant at the worst time of her life.  As joyful as a planned pregnancy is, an unplanned unwanted pregnancy must be beyond words of description.  Don’t pull the hate card at this point.  You can blame all you want for sex outside of marriage, promiscuity, sin etc.  We have all sinned and fallen short . . .  but all sins don’t carry a lifelong change with decisions that are at the top of life’s pyramid.

The bottom line is: a woman has three choices – keep the baby and deal with a life of consequences, adopt the baby and deal with a life of consequences, abort and deal with a life of consequences.  The first choice will be evident for the rest of her life – “how old were you when you had him?”.  The second choice will be evident for approximately six or seven months (when I was a teen, pregnant girls disappeared for a school year and then magically came back from never never land and didn’t talk about where they were).  The third option is not evident to anyone but the woman.  Our society doesn’t brand women with an abortion tattoo.  You may be sitting in your office now spewing opinion about PP and abortion while the woman sitting right beside you may have had an abortion and never confessed it you.  And why would she?  I don’t believe any woman is proud of this decision and most I assume struggle with it to some degree and don’t go around telling the world about it.

Imagine for a moment being that woman.  She wakes everyday knowing what she did.  Whether she affirms it or not, she has to deal with it.  She hears the news just like we all do.  She sees the images.  She hears of the gruesome procedure and the sale of body parts.  How is she supposed to act?  How is she supposed to feel?  How is she to grieve, confess, share?  How does she enter into a church discussion or lunch talk knowing her side of the story?  A co-worker recently said in front of me “that celebrity committed suicide, he just went to hell”.   I nearly exploded!  I chose to go in the bathroom and calm down rather than tear them apart.

In my lifetime, I have had a total of two women admit to me that they had abortions.  Not only do we not require women to where the abortion tattoo, we also don’t expect the woman beside us at work, church or school to openly talk about having one.  Since we don’t know about it, we make the assumption that no one has had one.   It is a secret on both sides.  The women don’t want to talk about it and we don’t really want to hear about it.  By not hearing about it, we don’t need to hear the personal side of it.  We don’t need to hear the pain and agony and sorrow because that’s when it really gets messy.  That’s when we put a face on the decision.  That’s when it’s no longer a news story or demonstration and it becomes a friend or loved one who may still be suffering.

I will continue to post against PP.  I will continue to ask our government leaders to de-fund them.  I am still a advocate for adoption and I will help to support a young mom who chooses to keep her child.  But . . .I will be sensitive to the hurts of those who chose an option that I don’t support – right or wrong those women are still children of God and need to be loved and forgiven.  Their actions are NOT worse than mine and they need the love of Jesus just as much.  For those women, I pray for peace and forgiveness and the grace to share with other young women who may be facing this difficult time.

woman

Mark 11: 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Dirty Hands Clean Hands

Remember back to when you had your hands in something very dirty and smelly.  You washed your hands numerous times with hot water and soap.  They looked clean but when you smelled your hands they still smelled like whatever you were in.  Were they clean or not?  You weren’t sure were you?  Does the remaining smell mean that the dirt is still there lingering?

If it bothered you enough, you put on some kind of scented mask – maybe perfume, cream, or scented soap.  You thought if you could take away the smell, you might feel like you were finally clean.

Still not satisfied you got really drastic and went for the rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.  Now you have washed and killed anything lingering there.

As a child I often observed adult’s hands – I could tell if they were auto mechanics, farmers or painters by what was left on their hands and under their fingers.  A man at church did auto body and his hands were a permanent mix of paint colors.  Were his hands clean or were they just stained?  Is there a difference?

How is your heart?  Is it clean?  Really clean? Or is there a lingering smell from a previous sin?  Is it stained or is it dirty?  Do you try to clean it but not “feel” clean?  What will it take to get clean?  And then stay clean?  Will you get it clean only to get dirty again?

A friend recently blasted God as a failure.  With many unclean words he described a God that allowed a world to spin into death and destruction.  I dialogued with him about it trying not to be too preachy.  He is obviously searching for answers and hasn’t been able to find any.  He is searching for peace but living in chaos.  I am praying for him to find the one cleansing that can give him that peace.

Matthew 23:25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

hands

Anger

There are times of intense anger when dealing with suicide.. .  I almost wrote suicide victims – but who are the victims?  Are the ones who ended their lives the victims of suicide or the survivors that loved them?  One is gone and out of their misery.  The others will live with the fallout for the remainder of their lives.  Anger is a normal emotion with any death.  We have anger towards God for allowing it to happen.  We have anger against illness, accidents, and everyone involved.  Suicide only adds another level of anger – anger against the one who opted out.  Words like selfish, quitter, hopeless come to mind.  The eternal question of “why” is tattooed on our hearts and the longing fearful thought “was there something that I could have done?”

The anger boils and spills over and soaks everything close by.  I find myself looking at pictures and saying “You bastard!  Why did you do that?”  I don’t even talk like that.  Why do I say it to my own son?

Am I missing the last two words in that question: “to us?”  Am I mad that he did it “to us”? or am I mad that he is gone by his own hand?  Am I mad that he was so abused that he saw no way out?  Am I mad that he didn’t give healing one more try?  One more day?  Am I mad that I wasn’t there to stop it?  Does it matter?  I’m angry.  I’m angry every time I see a picture of him with a big smile and wonder why it couldn’t have helped him like it helped others.

Anger.  Can I forgive him while I’m still angry?  Will the anger subside?

Two years have gone by.  The questions linger but life continues.  I pray for forgiveness to come.  I pray for love to overflow rather than anger.

because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

Isaiah

Jesus died for somebody’s sins . . .

There are many reactions to Jesus.  I can only imagine the extent of beliefs over the past 2,000 years.

Here was one that I found very sad.  It is quote from the singer Patti Smith.  I didn’t expect her to be a Jesus follower but it still made me sad.

 “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine” 

Mark 2:16-18

New International Version (NIV)

16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

 

Homosexuality is

I feel bombarded with the issues of homosexuality.  It is constant.  Daily.  Everywhere I go and everything I do.  It is commented during the Olympics, football, TV, movies, church, news, everywhere.  I can’t get away from it.  In light of that, I will make a prediction:  In 10 or 20 years from now, the homosexual issue will be settled in the church and the church will wonder what the “big deal” was back in 2014.

Since we are all struggling to know God’s direction with this, let’s look at the subject from a slightly different angle.  This is certainly not exhaustive and I have not put any great research into it.

There are a variety of sexual related sins listed in the Bible: Fornication (sex before marriage), Adultery (sex outside of marriage), Remarriage after divorce, lust (basically the same as fornication and adultery in God’s eyes), and homosexuality.

In the traditional Godly lifestyle that most of us understand we go through some kind of variation of this:  We date or court someone of the opposite sex and eventually get married.  The traditional process in this is that we don’t have sex before the wedding night with our spouse or anyone else.  Otherwise we are in sin.  We all have different opinions on “how far” is sin.  For some it is kissing.  For others it is anything but sexual intercourse.  You get the picture.  We all have sexual desires and attractions but we need to “wait” until that special day with that one special person.

In the church, we uphold this pattern and most people do not confess their sin unless they get caught (typically by getting pregnant). This sin was once a horrendous sin to recover from in the church.  Today, not so much.  Sin has a way of softening in time.  Most churches still outlaw leaders who are in an adulterous relationship.  Would you accept a pastor who was living with a partner outside of marriage?  Divorce has made a remarkable transition in the past 50 years.  I assume the church will welcome “living together” in the near future as well.

Ok, so back to the LGBTQ issue (did I get all of the initials?).  If we are to welcome homosexual marriage in the church, do we look at it from our current traditional pattern?  One realizes that they are gay.  One is attracted to another of the same sex.  The two have a courting relationship (no sex), get married and consummate the relationship at marriage.  They stay married and have a monogamous relationship for life.

Or, since we are welcoming any lifestyle, do we also allow the LGBTQ crowd to break any of the rules and have sex with anyone at anytime and except it all as being good?  You can certainly be monogamous and be gay.  Bi-sexual pretty much means more than one sexual partner so that steps into the fornication and adultery camps.  Transgender – I’m not sure what camp that fits into.  The same for queer.

One of the recent Mennonite articles discussed a woman who is a lesbian and in a relationship becoming ordained.  Everyone is focusing on the lesbian issue.  They didn’t mention that she was also divorced from a marriage to a man.  She now has at least two sexual sins on her sheet.  If she had sex with her partner before getting married, she has another mark.

Do you see where this is going?  I’m not casting judgment.  I am in the middle of hashing this out like everyone else and I have a long list of relationships with gay friends to add to my journey.  I’m just throwing into the pot more questions, concerns, doubts, etc.  How does the church love everybody and deal with sin?  The wisdom to this is above my pay grade. One thing I know, whether right or wrong in 10 or 20 years it will be accepted and we will wonder why I took the time to write this in 2014.

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Dying from sin on a day with a “Y” in it

I read this quote today in USATODAY, “Sorkin adds that (Philip Seymour) Hoffman, a ‘kind, decent, magnificent, thunderous actor,” did not die from an “overdose of heroin — he died from heroin. We should stop implying that if he’d just taken the proper amount then everything would have been fine.”

The thought occurred to me; this is the same way God looks at sin.  It’s not a great big horrible monster sin that kills us and separates us from God.  It is ANY sin.  We love to say that Hitler is burning in hell or that some deranged pedophile will perish but all of us will find our peril if we don’t repent.

We don’t want to hear that do we?  Society won’t stand for it.  We talk in terms of “good person” and “did so much good”.  We talk about “white lies” and we laugh at gossip.  We lift up the greedy business barons that profit from the sweat of their workers.  We worship celebrities that taunt anything decent.  “It’s all done for show”.

Bottom line: We lie – we separate from God.  We cheat – we separate from God. We think of an affair – we commit adultery.

There is a lot of hate out there today, on BOTH sides of the isle.  There is a lot of judgment.

We’re not dying from an overdose.  On Hoffman – And finally Sorkin notes: “He didn’t die because he was partying too hard or because he was depressed — he died because he was an addict on a day of the week with a y in it.”

We sin, we die. If it were not for God’s grace and mercy we wouldn’t stand a chance.

Romans 3:23  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God