Posts Tagged ‘Forgiveness’

Introspection

May 31, 2013

Recently, our pastor gave a sermon in which he confessed the following:

He believes that everyone who dies deserves to have a funeral. As a result, the local funeral homes call him from time to time to officiate at funerals in which just he and the funeral director are the attendees. He does not want to be judgmental towards anyone because all are sinners, as is he, and he doesn’t feel he has the right to deny a funeral to someone.

But then the Boston Marathon bombing happened.
And it made him seriously think about his stance:
Hypothetically speaking, if he were called to officiate at the bomber’s funeral, could he go through with it?

Obviously, he wasn’t really going to be called to do that particular funeral, but he did have to consider the possibility that someday he may be called on to officiate for someone  heinous. I mean, that dead bomber’s family had a difficult time finding a funeral home who would accept the body, let alone finding an officiator.

Would he have the fortitude to go ahead with such a funeral?

After much consideration, he honestly couldn’t answer that. As much as he believes that all people deserve a funeral, he couldn’t bring himself to give a definite “yes” to that self-imposed question.

And it made me think.

What convictions do I have that might be seriously challenged someday? For example, I don’t believe in the death penalty…. but what if a serial killer murdered my child? Could I stand by my conviction, or would I be clamoring for lethal injection? I really don’t know if I can answer that. On the one hand, the Bible tells us that vengeance belongs to God, but on the other hand, I would feel that the killer deserved death for depriving me of my child.

I also believe that all who have finished their time in prison should be forgiven and given a new lease on life. BUT…. if a pedophile molested my daughter, could I be as forgiving when he finally is released from prison? Again, I’m not sure if I can answer that.

And we all should consider possibilities that can challenge our personal convictions. Although certain situations may seem highly unlikely, there really is no such thing as absolute-impossible. And I don’t think it makes someone a bad person if they cannot stand by their convictions — it just means they need to lean into the Lord’s strong arms and seek His love to get through the crisis.

We are all imperfect people, and we all have challenges that are hard to manage. If you find yourself facing this kind of challenge don’t let it discourage you. God sees everything you’ve gone through, what you feel, and what your situation is. He waits patiently for us to come to Him, and like the loving Father He is, He isn’t going to reject you simply because your convictions are being severely challenged. Although we may fail ourselves, He will never fail you.

If you find your convictions to be twisted inside out, resist the urge to feel like a hypocrite or a failure. Instead, hold tight to Father’s strong hand and let Him lead you through the darkness and into His light.

 

Ash Wednesday

February 22, 2012

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lent season: A period of 40 days (not counting Sundays)  before the Easter holiday. It is a time in which we focus on repentance and the free gift of Salvation offered to us through the blood of Jesus Christ, our Saviour. This is a time observed primarily by denominations such as the Anglicans/Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians and Roman Catholics.

It is an observation in which a congregational leader marks the foreheads of participants with ashes in the shape of a cross. The member traditionally keeps the marking on his or her forehead until it wears off naturally. The purpose of this ritual? To remember the biblical ritual described in Scripture in which people who are in mourning place ashes on their heads to publicly show their state of  mourning and penitence (Daniel 9:3, Matthew 11:21).

We mourn because our sinful flesh continues to lead us astray.
We mourn because Satan currently retains his influence on this world.
We mourn because we make our God sad when we fall into temptation.

And we repent, throwing ourselves onto the mercy of Christ’s Blood to save us from the wicked shackles of sin.

Amen, come Lord Jesus.

Training the Kitten

October 28, 2010

We have a ferocious little tiger named Theo living with us.
He’s an orange striped tabby, about six months old, and he is quite the little hunter:
Like when you’re coming up the hall and he attacks you from around the corner.
Or when he spies his little jingly ball and he carefully stalks it and……POUNCES!
Oh he’s so proud of his kitty prowess!

And…he’s also not very good at listening to us.

Sigh.

He knows he’s not supposed to get up on the kitchen table, evidenced by the fact that he’ll immediately get down when we enter the room. And he knows he’s not supposed to get into the trash, evidenced by the incriminating kitty claw holes in the rim of the trash bags. And you tell him “Down!” or “No!”… but he’ll just go and do it anyway when he thinks we aren’t looking.

Oh he’s just as cute and cuddly as any purry furry can be, and he just loves us to pieces!  (And how can we not love him in return?!) But he still has that annoying tendency to sleep on the table, rummage through the trash, and occasionally knock things down from the breakfast bar. (Bad kitty!)

And I don’t know which annoys me more: The fact that he continues to disobey us, or the fact that I can see a bit of myself in him; the bit that I’m not so proud of.

I mean, thinking about it, I’m not much more different than Theo in some ways. I love the little bugger, and he loves me too, but still he breaks the rules even though he knows better. Just like I love God, and He loves me…and yet I find myself breaking the “rules” sometimes, even though I know better. As much as I didn’t want to, I realized that I saw a little bit of me echoed in Theo’s behaviour.

And it makes me understand God just a teeny bit better: I screw up, but He loves me and forgives me. I screw up again, and yet again He forgives me! Not an awful lot different than what happens between Theo and us.

 

In The Way

September 14, 2010

I have a problem in my relationship with God.
The problem is ME.

What’s worse is that I can’t get away from me in order to get away from the problem!

My problem is that I get in my own way, all the time! I’m incorrigible — I just can’t seem to stop! I make plans to deepen my relationship with Him, but I fall off the wayside after a while. I’ll have solid intentions of working on a particular personality flaw, and I fail miserably.

How can plans that seem so easy be so hard to follow through on???!!! Sounds easy enough: JUST DO IT, as the Nike slogan says.

Yeah. Right.
And the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

God wants to work in me in good ways — I know it. And for the most part, I do follow His lead. And, just as I’m doing well and going strong, I stumble over myself yet again.

Really, it’s annoying.
And what’s more annoying is that I can’t blame anyone except for myself.

And so, once again, I find myself at the mercy of God’s gracious gift of forgiveness and make a promise to do better.

Fortunately, God’s mercy isn’t finite. I fall again and repent again, and in return with His great Love and Wisdom, He is willing to forgive me.
Yet again.

What a wonderful God we worship!

He doesn’t use our past deeds against us if we earnestly seek His mercy. And He’ll bolster our faith if we only ask Him to. His patience with us is immeasurable, His unconditional love for us is a great comfort when we stumble over ourselves.

Thank you God, and thank you Jesus, for the gift of mercy and forgiveness!
Thank you for not condemning us for being stubborn and stupid!
Thank you for accepting us in spite of ourselves!

Amen and amen.

City Of Refuge

May 2, 2010

The bible reveals that God gave the Israelites six cities of refuge that were meant to be places of asylum for people who have caused an accidental death. Because the Law at the time allowed for the kin of the victim to avenge any death, these cities of refuge allowed the killer to take sanctuary until the assembly could determine by trial whether the killing was accidental or purposeful. If the killing was purposeful, the killer was turned over to the avenger. If the killing was deemed to be accidental, the killer was to stay in the City of Refuge until that city’s High Priest died — meanwhile, the avenger was not allowed to harm the killer ever again. If, however, the killer did leave the city of refuge before the high priest died, then the avenger was allowed the vengeance. (Numbers 35:11-29).

It was a very loving thing for God to give them cities of refuge, being that fatal accidents could occur at any time.

Today, we are all in need of having a City of Refuge. How many times in the news do we see fatal accidents happening? Products are recalled due to fatal results, doctors misdiagnose patients, airplanes malfunction and crash, a child darts out into the road… it goes on and on. Although these are all accidental deaths, these are still humans causing the deaths of other humans — and any one of us could be the cause of a fatal accident at any time.

People driving while texting, drinking too much, forgetting safety rules, distractions, making faulty devices, not being thorough in their work — all these have the potential to cause a fatal accident.  None of us are immune from the possibility. And, by causing another’s death – even by accident – we’re overstepping our boundaries on the sanctity of life. Remember, God even notices when a little ol’ sparrow dies (Matthew 10:29-31), how much more will he notice when a human dies?! If we cause a death, do we have a City of Refuge we can flee too, so that God doesn’t avenge the death on us?

YES!

Remember, manslaughter is accidental murder, and God will judge all murderers to permanent destruction (Revelation 21:8). HOWEVER, we do have a hope, or a refuge, from this judgment! Our refuge lies in Jesus Christ, who is the everlasting High Priest who can protect us from our deserved vengeance! Our City of Refuge is the heavenly city of New Jerusalem — where Christ rules and judges and protects all who come to him for sanctuary! (Hebrews 6:18-20)

This gift of Christ is the most cherished gift from God that we should never take for granted. So, next time you read or hear of a fatal accident in the news, pray for the one(s) who caused the accident — pray for their salvation, and that they come to know and enter the City of Refuge. Pray that they learn to present themselves before the High Priest of New Jerusalem, for by that you are praying for their very lives.

Peace, and Amen.


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