Posted: July 30th, 2012 |
Filed under: life | Tags: faith, forgive, grace |
5 Comments »
One day as I was observing how wisdom fares on this earth, I saw something that made me sit up and take notice. There was a small town with only a few people in it. A strong king came and mounted an attack, building trenches and attack posts around it. There was a poor but wise man in that town whose wisdom saved the town, but he was promptly forgotten. (He was only a poor man, after all.)
All the same, I still say that wisdom is better than muscle, even though the wise poor man was treated with contempt and soon forgotten.
The quiet words of the wise are more effective than the ranting of a king of fools.
Wisdom is better than warheads, but one hothead can ruin the good earth. -Ecclesiastes 9:13-18 MSG
I watched “Karate Kid II” with my family the other night. I’ve seen the movie so many times that, even though it had been years since my last view, I can recite certain parts without effort. Toward the end, Sato sent his peons to destroy the gardens of some of the villagers. It was a personal attack on their livelihood and was meant to provoke Mr. Miyagi into the long awaited duel with Sato. These attacks came a couple more times because Mr. Miyagi refused to fight his friend. Finally, Sato brought a bull dozer to the village and told Mr. Miyagi that if he didn’t fight, he would destroy the whole village.
Mr. Miyagi agreed to a midnight showdown, but only to save the village. While the bull dozer did some damage, the village farmers were heart broken. Women were crying and everyone was afraid. As I watched, I remembered what happened the night of the scheduled fight. There was a huge hurricane that destroyed the village anyway.
There is a parallel to real life that I found interesting. God continually tells us to not worry about our circumstances. He tells us that He’s in control, so much so, that we can offer our good cheek when the other has been pummeled. Entire religious groups are united under the “no contest” rule of engagement. You don’t fight evil with evil, you don’t return violence with violence. Mr. Miyagi could have escorted Sato to a garden that he forgot. Why? Because what God did that night would have made Sato’s attack useless.
Philosophers, Solomon included, have reasoned themselves into stoicism. Not because what happens doesn’t matter, but because our emotional outbursts do nothing but add to the damage. Wisdom comes from understanding that God is sovereign. If the villagers would have fought back and even killed some of the people who were destroying their farms, they would have won nothing. The storm, entirely in God’s control, would have impugned their efforts and made them no better than the instigated evil. That’s why calm patience and faith based assurance is better than freaking out and striking back.
I believe in a supernatural entity that wants to get you to focus on the shortcomings of another for the soul-killing purpose of removing your focus from Jesus. There is plenty to distract you from the truth of the Gospel. Self-righteous vengeance is only one of them. It’s especially sweet for the enemy of Jesus when you can do his bidding in the name of God.
Evil isn’t just after the one who does it. It’s after the one it’s committed against. It tries to draw you into a fight that you have no part being in.
The best way to fight the wrong done to you is to forgive it and refuse to let it determine your steps.
Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me. Redeem me from man’s oppression, that I may keep your precepts.-Psalm 119:133-134 ESV
Do you have a story about when you freaked out, or could have freaked out, only to learn that the situation was already taken care of and freaking out was unessesary??
5 Comments »
Posted: July 16th, 2012 |
Filed under: life | Tags: aftermath, change, divisions, faith, forgive, grace, hope, love wins, sin |
6 Comments »
So many have been hurt by people who call themselves Christians. Whatever the reason, or circumstance, wrong was done to repay wrong done and the cycle goes on and on and on. Slander follows slander. Lies fuel bitter retribution. Don’t you want the cycle to stop?
They used to go in and out of the holy place and were praised in the city where they had done such things. This also is vanity. -Ecclesiastes 8:10
How is it that the prideful and self-righteous can sit through a time of worship and not hear the call to love and forgive and restore? How can they preach the Gospel to some and withhold it from others? You see them unbothered by losing you. You hear of them using you and your failure in messages while not including your salvation. You are always lost to them and that fuels their pride. They get pats on the back for their message at your expense. Where is God, to them, while He is holding you? How can God be with them and you at the same time? That is the type of question that can fuel your pride, too.
It’s a trap.
The slow hand of God to right the wrongs can send you in one of two directions. You know who your God is by where this injustice sends you. Are you patient, putting your trust in God? Do you believe that you’re forgiven and loved in spite of their opinions? Or do you fight to show them their wrongs and refuse to move forward on your own? Are you stuck in the filth they refuse to wash off? When someone gets honor for bearing your sin and you get slandered for being a sinner, does it set your pride on fire?
You have to watch out.
Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil. -Ecclesiastes 8:11
God was patient with you while you were making your terrible choices. He didn’t give up on you while you turned your back to Him. Jesus didn’t come back while you were in the wrong bed.
Don’t wish that, which you were spared, to be poured over another.
God gave you time to come around. And here you are. God is giving them time to do the same. Have the same patience with them that He had with you. It may take a long time. Much longer than you took, in some cases. Hope for their day like you had yours. Hope and don’t give up. Move forward with your new life and let them go at their own pace. Nothing they say can put a price on your head. You are not the hunted. Your “WANTED” posters are out of date and faded. You have been pardoned. Sentence served by Jesus.
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. -2 Peter 3:8-9
Look at your own failure and what it taught you: A lesson in grace you could have learned no other way. Give them the time to learn the same lesson. Pride is a hidden sin that is hard to nail down on their own. They may not see it for a long time. Your sin was easier to see. It was messy and blatant.
It’s easy to see where you are and where others are not, but it wasn’t that long ago that you were where they are. You learned your lesson and learned it hard. Don’t be so quick to forget what it was like to not know how wrong you were.
“Someone will say what is lost can never be saved. Despite all my rage…” -Smashing Pumpkins, “Rat in a Cage”
Let the cycle stop with you. Until then, you’re just a rat in their cage.
6 Comments »
Posted: June 8th, 2012 |
Filed under: life | Tags: advice, aftermath, bitterness, faith, forgive, freedom, grace, healing, hope, love wins, sin |
13 Comments »
A few years ago, I had an affair that ended my marriage. All of my Christian friends will have nothing to do with me and I can’t get them to even talk to me.
What are we supposed to do in that situation? I know that God has forgiven me and changed me through this, but they don’t see it and they keep denying His power in my life. It crushes me. I know I was wrong, but they are, too. …
It’s hard to understand when people refuse to see the grace in your life the way you feel it. Sometimes it’s a battle to believe it for yourself. The bullets are still flying at you after the cease fire was called. It’s even worse when people you looked up to, who should know better, deny everything they preach with the way they treat you.
Times like this reveal a person’s true character. Sometimes it’s hard to watch it go down.
The trap to avoid is the urge to withhold grace from those who withhold grace from you. Grace doesn’t wait for the person to fix themselves. It doesn’t choose between bad and really bad. You should be an expert in that.
Don’t do anything you’ll have to apologize for later.
Nobody can take away what God has given you. It’s time to let God take care of your validation. He has His own timing for everything.
If you focus on the pain they’re causing you and are continually feeling like you’re being mistreated, then you will not get past focusing on yourself. It breeds bitterness.
This isn’t a battle between people, don’t let yourself sink to that level. You’re in a spiritual battle of faith. The battle is against resentment, self-pity, and entitlement. The battle is to believe Jesus when everyone else denies Him.
Every time someone attacks you, hell is trying to get you to doubt the power of the sacrifice of Jesus. That’s what is really going on. They taste the bile on their tongues and they think that’s the way your name tastes. They don’t know that the bile comes from inside them. As long as they don’t say your name, they don’t taste the bile. If they don’t taste the bile, then they never have to face their own disease of unbelief.
God is bringing them through their own journey, and this situation may be a big part of that. Be merciful because you know what mercy is. Be graceful because you know what grace is. Allow them the room to make mistakes and learn from them, just like you have.
Nobody who keeps a ledger of sins committed against them has a clue who God is.
You may never get your friends back. It’s a fact of life. I know it hurts and it may take a long time to accept, but just because you accept it doesn’t mean it will be set it in stone. I just frees you to be positive and productive while everything finds a place to land. Maybe they’ll come around, maybe you’ll be a little old lady when you get the call. But, maybe that will never happen on this side of life’s curtain. You have to let yourself heal without them. Let the scars seal in the good memories and don’t let the bad one’s infect it.
Remember, affairs are not just a religious horror, it is a horrible thing for anybody in any walk. It’s never okay. You have no idea what you’re mistakes have caused others to face in their own lives. Women whose husbands have strayed, but they’re working it out: you represent pain to them. To them, it feels like you undermine their fight for healing. Everyone is different and their takeaway value from your experience is going to reflect what is going on inside of them. Let it play out, it’s going to anyway. God knows what’s going on and He always gets His way. Relax in that. Find the freedom in the release.
You’re going to be okay. If He says you’re free, you’re free.
13 Comments »
Posted: May 8th, 2012 |
Filed under: life | Tags: faith, forgive, grace |
22 Comments »
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. -2 Corinthians 5:18-20
We have one assignment. That assignment is to spread the message of reconciliation. You can’t do this if you are unable to reconcile with another person. I’ll never understand how two people can have nothing to do with each other, but both claim to be serving the same God.
Forgiveness is not about being okay with what someone has done to you. It’s about being okay with letting God take care of you the way He sees fit. Especially when He tells you that He works everything out for your good.
Forgiveness isn’t an emotion, it’s an act of faith. Taking matters into your own hands, refusing to let someone move forward after they fall, is you settling for something much cheaper than reconciliation. You don’t have the luxury of making people pay, anyway. God does and He did, and you can look at the scars on His Son’s body for the proof.
22 Comments »
Posted: December 16th, 2011 |
Filed under: life | Tags: forgive, grace |
9 Comments »
I’ve been working on the left side of my brain lately. I’m teaching myself college Algebra to build new neuron paths and make myself more neurologically rounded. (yeah, that sounds nerdy…) It’s forcing me to be more detail oriented and it’s driving me a little crazy, but it’s fun when I get it.
I use the same parts of my brain when I’m studying theology as I do when I’m studying math. It’s details and terminology and it’s all based on a strong foundation that keeps building and building. The similarities between math and theology are interesting to me.
It’s 2 am and my brain is still buzzing from three days of studying, so I’m writing. If I were to start talking about systems of algebraic equations and posted a set to have you solve, you’d only be able to solve them if you knew the basics. Once you know the basics, you can run everything through the system with ease. However, if you don’t know the basics, then it’s all foreign language. Nothing makes sense.
Theology is like that. Sometimes I jump right into the middle of a concept and it makes no sense to some people because they don’t have the basics down.
The key to understanding Algebra is to know the order of operations. The further you get into it, the more there is to discover, but it never deviates from the system. There is only one answer and if you mess something up along the way, you’re off track for the rest of it.
It’s the same with theology. Words can trip you up and not understanding the order of operations can trip you up. The key to understanding the scriptures is to know the order of operations.
Last week I spent over three hours on an equation. I got all of the steps right and 99% of my answers were correct, but I continually came up with the wrong answer and it was making me crazy. After a late night phone call to a friend, I realized that I wasn’t dividing fractions right. I could get these complex systems, remember every single detail in the proper order, but I forgot something I should have learned in 6th grade. As educated as I was, not knowing a tiny basic detail made every perfectly executed step after it completely wrong.
That fact is a direct parallel to the spiritual mirror:
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. -1 Corinthians 13:1-3 MSG
You can get everything right. Follow the system, pay attention to every detail, and you can still come up with the wrong answer. Understanding the scriptures has everything to do with your faith in redemption. It’s a faith in God’s sovereign grace.
The problems that usually arise for people are the details. If you know too much about a person’s sin, it will be harder for you to believe in grace without hesitation or stipulation. It’s harder for you to forgive. Everything you do after that will be wrong.
You can fight your anger and your pride, but you do it with your own will. When you really forgive, you’ll still be haunted by your anger and pride, but your faith in the power of the grace of Jesus will empower you. All of your internal fighting will be laced with grace. The only way to be able to really forgive is through your faith in the sovereignty of God and His love.
You can get all of the steps right, but if you do not love, then you do not have not understood the most basic concept and everythig else is a mess of noise.
The practical application calls you to consider a situation where you are either focused on the circumstances or your focused on a God who promises that nothing happens outside His will. If it’s happening, He’s in on it and He has a plan for it. You not going to get anything unless you can get the basics of who you’re dealing with and how He affects everything.
9 Comments »