Tag Archives: Forgiveness

Don’t Stuff it Away – Deal with It

The sad news is that this is way too common. A School Shooting. It was October 2006, a lone male adult walked into single room school house in Lancaster, PA. The school house was for the Amish community. No security, no metal detectors, no anything. Before the man killed himself, he had shot 10 young girls, 5 of which became fatalities.

All across America, emotions erupted in anger, brokenness, sadness, and even just apathy. One can imagine the tears and the shouts that erupted – globally. But there was another emotion – surprise. A surprise that turned to inspiration, For you see, the Amish community, even the families of the wounded and lost, showed … Forgiveness.

Even before the whole story was reported, some of the offended families reached out to care, to show compassion, to hug the family of the shooter. The community did not let bitterness take root but; thus based on the Biblical standard of being forgiven, they carried the principle to the end result, and they showed forgiveness.

They didn’t ignore the grief. They didn’t tolerate the sin. They didn’t bury the act in their minds and turn to just cope. They proactively reached out to show love, compassion and tenderness. Yes they cried. Yes they mourned. Yes they acted Biblically.

Too often we, and by we, I am even referring to those as myself who strive to be living by a Biblical worldview … too often we hold bitterness, resentment, unresolved anger within ourselves and we seek revenge, at least just to get even. But more than get even, we do the Sean Connery, Untouchables, philosophy – we bring a gun to a knife fight – we think we need to go bigger and badder.

But that is not the standard that is healthy for us. That is not the Biblical response. Now, be warned, the Biblical response is not easy. It is not what the world would emphasize.

300 years ago, a reformed pastor wrote a work that included a discussion on forgiveness. This discussion, steeped deep in scripture, gave seven characteristics of forgiveness …

Thomas Watson

WOW – tough stuff. But rewarding stuff.

Let me close with one underlining principle, we do this for just one reason and one reason only – because we were first forgiven. When you realize the depth of what Jesus did for you, for me, in spite of our wickedness (more like our disgustingness in our depravity) … when you realize the depth of His love, wow, why wouldn’t we show forgiveness to others. (for reference, read Matthew 18)

Her State is Now Fixed

Today, I write with a burden we all share at some time. I am writing from having lost a loved one. Though this timr is one not unexpected, it still is a time that makes us ponder that which is the next step in our journey. And while this part of our journey may be filled with moments of Muddy, Messy, and Marred shoes … for those that believe and call on the Lord, there is hope, there is forgiveness, there is all things new.

My eldest brother said it in wonderful words that each of us should hear. For you too can know this grace.

From the Facebook page of my brother …

At 3:15 am this Saturday morning, my sister and I stood by the bed of our mom while she breathed her last breath. There was a thought that kept crossing my mind over the next hour or so as we waited for the proper people to arrive and take her body to be prepared for her burial. The thought, “her state is now fixed” lightly embedded itself in my conscience. She was 86 years of age and was loved and respected by many. I loved her. Through all of life’s transitory events, pains, griefs, tears, joys, laughter, surprises, changes, sins and reconciliations, she was and always will be “mom”. Yet now, as I type these words that are inadequate to express the truth, mom is in an unchangeable and eternal place and reality that is beyond description. I know more that I know anything at this moment that she would want me to say to you, “ friend, there is a day, that will be your day to die and face a holy God. Once that day arrives it will eternally be fixed. You will not be able to change it. Jesus was not fearful of addressing people’s deepest and most urgent need. He warned of hell and gave free offers of heaven. We need Him. Our sins have separated us from God and the only reconciler is The Son Of God, who though while we were His enemies, He died on a cross and was raised from the dead, to bear our shame and deserved due judgment. What keeps you from turning from your life of sin to Him who receives sinners?”.

I love mom deeply, beyond expression. I honor her as the mother God ordained for me. But she would tell you that this is not ultimately about her. It is about Christ, her LORD and redeemer. For “ He who has the Son has life, but He who does not have the Son does not have life…”. Come to Him, by faith, that your soul may live and your sins removed fully.

She will be missed. Remember this date, February 5, 2022. For on this date you heard the news of the death of one who belonged to Christ and you also heard the news of how you this Christ can be yours.

I Was a Sour Patch Kid

We will leave the argument of “did I ever grew up, or am I still a kid today?” to a later date. I’d probably lose that debate. Let’s get to the story …

Sour Patch Kids is a strange candy. Who would name their candy “kids?” It’s like they are making us to be little cannibals. We are eating kids? Give me another blue boy to bite their head off. Let me down a green gal or two. I just bit off a head and dismembered a kid. Eating them makes me think I’m a Hannibal Lecter in training.

It’s not the same as with Goldfish or animal crackers. Eating them makes us carnivores, not cannibals. Okay, maybe gingerbread men come close.

And their marketing scheme – good and bad. The creator of the commercials for Sour Patch Kids makes me even more confused. It’s like they are little Chucky dolls, but candy. They are alive and they do impish acts of mischief that warrant acts of retribution. But just when you want to rip them apart, they do some act of sweetness that makes you forget the violence you were planning as revenge.

My thoughts are to build little guillotines and chop off every little head. To tie the SP kids to four toy horses that are then pulled in opposite directions to rip the candy apart. To tie the SP kids down, get sharp knives and dissect them. But I digress.

Growing up, I was like a Sour Patch kid. I imagine many of us were. I rebelled, yelled at others, was selfish, and wanted my way. I did little impish acts against my siblings and blamed them when my parents confronted me.

But then I’d act innocent, sweet, and give my best little angelic face and all was forgiven. They would look at me and forget the Sharpie art on the wall, overlook the broken tool dad told me to stay away from, or ignore the empty cookie jar I was warned to stay out of.

First I was sour then I was sweet.

We have a bigger problem. In all of life, we are pretty sour, messed up, and far from being angels. And God isn’t fooled or distracted by my best little angel face.

Last night, we had Bible drill at our church. Our older graded kids shared some scripture they had memorized. They demonstrated Bible knowledge and awareness. They acted so sweet. I was so proud and I know parents and grandparents were too. Little angels quoting scripture.

The truth … I know them better. They are not always so sweet. Angels? Fallen angels maybe. Pouty, selfish, rebellious snots. They’d kick you in the shin just as quick as they’d hug you.The bigger truth though, we still love them.

And the even greater truth is this … yes, God sees each one of us, sour and all, and he still loves you and me and the whole world. He didn’t give up or turn away. He sent his son to take our punishment.

No act of sourness on our part is ever too bad for the sweetness of the grace of our God. For me, for the kids, for you … that’s what I’m really excited about.

I was (am) a sour patch kid … and God still loves me and you.

The Life of a Failure … The Story of Two Fires

He was on the path to success. One of the inner 12 to the most popular Rabbi of his day. He was respected by the other 11. He had lived 3 years of adventure – seen lives changed, people healed, food multiplied, even the dead rise. He had walked on water and spoke up claiming he knew his master was the Son of the Living God.

But in a matter of days, everything around him collapsed. He had refused to have his feet washed only to be rebuked. He had drawn his blade to defend his master, only to be shut down and corrected. And then he had denied Him three times, and that on the same day he said he would never do that.

Fire place #1 … Jesus has been arrested. They were questioning Him before the high priest, and Peter had stealthily followed. He was warming himself by a fire, a charcoal fire. Once, twice, thrice they asked him if he was one of the disciples. Denial three times over, even cussing at them. And there by the fire … the rooster crowed and Jesus looked at him. So, he fled. Defeated, broken, a failure.

And Jesus died. But He didn’t stay that way. He rose from the dead.

And though He had appeared to Peter, I can imagine Peter felt like he had blown it so badly, failed so terribly, fallen so far … that he was way beyond ever being used again. So he went back to the one thing he thought he hadn’t messed up. He went back to fishing. But even there, he failed. All night he fished … and caught nothing. He was worthless.

But Jesus looks past the screwups. He knows the failures but doesn’t give up on us.

The following morning after a night of catch less fishing , (a few weeks after the resurrection) Jesus shows up on the beach and tells them to cast the net on the other side. They do it, and BAM, fish … lots of fish.

Fire place #2 – Peter, realizing it was Jesus, jumps out of the boat and swims to shore. And what does he find? Jesus cooking fish and bread for breakfast cooking on a charcoal fire. The word appears twice in scripture. It is used here and at the denial.

I believe Jesus was connecting and dealing with Peter’s failure. And He was giving Peter a future. It’s not directly in the text, but there are so many connections in these few verses. And charcoal fire would be only just one way.

He ate with Peter. Experienced fellowship. Peter was challenged three times about love. And He gave Peter a future.

Jesus can do the same with you. Don’t let failure define you. Let Jesus deal with it. Let Him deal with the failure and let you know He still has a future for you.

Peter would not see fire any more and connect it to failure. It would now be the place Jesus have him a future.

I have failed, lots. But I know they were not the end. Don’t let failure define you. Take them to Jesus.

3 Little Verses

He was a man after God’s own heart. The slayer of giants. Musician. Poet. As a young lad, he defended his flock from bears and lions. He was a warrior, leader, and king. But his legacy is tainted by three little verses …

In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, … But David remained at Jerusalem. It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” (2 Sam 11.1-3)

This one moment, this turning point in his life, this tiny sliver of time in the whole journey of life, changed everything. He neglected his duty as King. He made a bad decision. He stumbled. And lives were impacted. A marriage destroyed. Lives were lost.

If you’re like me, we don’t have just one little three verse catastrophic decision. We make multiple bad choices. We neglect our duty, let our guard down, and well, become stupid. And around the board we go again. And again.

For David, God wasn’t done with him yet. It took a strong willed prophet to confront him to his face. But more than that, it took humility, repentance, and the grace of God

Sometimes it takes a person in my face too. Sometimes it takes a nasty stumble. And in every instance, it takes repentance and a whole lot of grace – and God’s got a whole lot of grace. And God’s not done with me – or with you yet either. Don’t let one bad choice let you miss out on all that God has for you. If you’re still breathing, God is not done with you yet either.

But let me give one other piece of insight. Other than correcting the times of erring, we would be better off by preventing the times of stumbling in the first place. Put safeguards in place. Be honest and wise about what stumbling blocks you have. Take actions to prevent the temptations in the first place. Guardrails – Hedges – A System to Protect.

Why would you battle a temptation in the future that you have the power to eliminate today.

… Craig Groeschel

Don’t be defined by three little verses – Our God is bigger than that. He was with David, and He is with you too. He restores our joy. He forgives our transgressions. He creates clean hearts. He restores our soul. And I rejoice. You can too.

A Man That Drives Off Shame and Humiliation

Let me tell you from the very start … you are not the center of the universe. You have messed up, you are broken, and you deserve shame and humiliation. The world does not revolve around you. Nor does it revolve around me.

Now that you have been encouraged for the day, let me give you the really good news. God loves you and He invites you, no, He will carry you into His presence. Let me share with you where I’m coming from …

A man. Last of his disgraced’s family line. Grandson of a wicked ruler. He had lived a life of exile, hardship, and heartaches. When he was young and his family was being wiped out, his nanny took him and fled – but she dropped him; and for the rest of his life, he was lame. This was long before the ADA, so he had no way to earn a living.

But a wonderful act of grace was to change him forever, and demonstrate to us what God does for us. His name was to be a truth we need to learn.

His name … Mephibosheth … which means ‘dispeller of shame.’ He was the grandson of King Saul, son of Jonathan.

And now, David had taken the throne. Would David kill him? Would he be seen as a threat? What would happen? Can you imagine the fear, anxiety, shame, and dread he must have experienced.

David sought out any remaining family of Jonathan. And when he learned of Mephibosheth, David had him brought to his palace. He set workers to serve him, and David brought him to his table – the king’s table. For the rest of his life, Meph would have a place at the King’s table. Grace, mercy, and open arms. No, more than open arms … David brought him in. He was carried to the table.

As I prepare for Sunday, when we will share in the ordinance of communion, I am reminded that I was broken, I was unworthy and I was unable to enter into the presence of our Lord. I was a man in shame. But He not only provides a way, He is the One who brings me in. He lifts me out of my bondage, bought forgiveness with His own blood, and prepares a table before me. He dispels my shame.

And He can do it for you too.

So may you, and me, each one of us a broken and hopeless person, know there is hope. There is forgiveness. There acceptance. He carries us to the table.

And the One who does that for us … his name is Jesus.

If you don’t know him, then I encourage you today to discover for yourself this one who takes us and brings us to his table. DM me or seek a church or an online site that shares this great message of hope.

He dispels shame and He brings us into His presence. And for that I will praise Him forever.

For that message of hope … go here. It’s also and App … look for ‘Life Conversation Guide’

For a great song that tells of being carried to the table … go here.

Grace … Get it, Share it, Appreciate it

I met a guy this weekend. A young man that understands grace in a way that I never really will. Scripture tells us that the one forgiven much – loves much. Now don’t get me wrong, I know I am a sinner and I know I don’t deserve His grace … but I also know I am loved and forgiven based on His grace. But the story I heard this weekend just reminded me how huge God’s love really is – an ocean doesn’t even come close to describing it, for an ocean can be measured. Yes, huge, but still measurable. God’s love is even greater. Wow!

So, Grace.

This young man had a rough background. He has done some intense criminal activities, and still could face prison time. But you know … I saw tenderness, humility, and a love for others. He said if he went to prison, he was okay with that. He would just share God’s love there. Wow.

Years ago, I was blessed to travel with a ministry group. Once, a former Hell’s Angel travelled with us sharing his story. Just like this weekend, I was in the presence of someone who understood great forgiveness, great grace, and had a deep love for God.

Scripture tells us that the one forgiven much – loves much!

Neither of these guys were perfect. They both were still growing in the grace and love of our Lord. But they both reminded me how much I too, and you too, need God’s love and forgiveness.

But we often forget it – take it for granted – and don’t even care about showing it. One of the saddest memories in my ministry was the response of a church member when we were doing an Purpose Driven Life Weekend in Louisiana. I scheduled prayer meetings for various small groups in homes scattered throughout the community. One of the homes was owned by a person that had made some unwise decisions in the past … had confessed to his small group and asked for forgiveness from God and from them. And I was the leader for the prayer meeting, not the home owner. But another member said it was inappropriate and I should move the prayer meeting. When I discussed forgiveness and grace with the ‘disappointed member’, they said we shouldn’t forgive and that we forgive way too much. Again, wow. I asked if we should accept his tithes and offerings, let him sing in church … after all, he had asked for forgiveness. They stared in disbelief I would even ask. Once more, wow. But this wow is in my disbelief.

Now, where am I on this scale? Too often a bit too unforgiving and lacking compassion. Too often forgetting how much He has forgiven me. I’ve softened as the birthdays have piled up. It helps me understand how in John 8, when Jesus wrote in the sand – it was the older ones who dropped their rocks and walked away first. We realize how messy we really are … and how great His love truly is.

So … don’t wait till your my age to appreciate His grace. Know now, live in it now, and let the world know – we are forgiven.

Be blessed.

Todd, one with muddy shoes.

Weeds of Bitterness, Fruit of Forgiveness

Forgiveness and the Root of Bitterness …

Years ago, while on my hands and knees weeding a flower garden at Friendship Baptist, Jim Reese politely and humorously gave me weeding advice. Yeah, not the best at flower gardening … but I did appreciate his advice. I think the chairman of deacons enjoyed way too much watching me struggle a bit.

I saw a commercial this week of a handy, dandy weed remover — you don’t even have to bend over. One step on this marvel of science digs up the weed by the roots, then push the release handle and let the weed simply drift harmlessly into the trash bin … voila (or wahlah for this southern drawl). If only it were that easy in life.

Getting rid of weeds quickly is important. They have abundant seed production and rapid population establishment. They adapt, spread, take over. They reduce crop quality, interfere with harvest, serve as host for diseases, and can produce toxic chemicals to humans and animals. Pretty heavy stuff. Which may be why the Bible warns against the root of bitterness in our lives – a poison. One clear verse is found in Hebrews 12.15 …

See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness, springing up, causes trouble, and by it many be defiled

Also this week, I got a chapter excerpt from Mark Driscoll’s October’s upcoming book Spirit-Filled Jesus. It dealt with forgiveness and gave seven benefits to true forgiveness. This brief excerpt was an excellent encourager and gut wrenching reminder of why believers should always be forgiving people.

If you are forgiven by God, then you are to be forgiving like God – Mark Driscoll

Here are the seven points …

1. Forgiveness glorifies God

2. Forgiveness blesses the one forgiving

3. Forgiveness blesses the one being forgiven

4. Forgiveness defeats the demonic (doesn’t give him a foothold)

5. Forgiveness is grace to your offender

6. Forgiveness is a witness to others

7. Forgiveness opens you to the flow of the Holy Spirit

I will just throw them out there, let you ponder, and maybe entice you to dig a little into these principles.

I await the whole book to see if it becomes a resource as I hope it can be. Forgiveness and non-forgiveness are critical issues in people’s lives and I pray that this work may be help to those who need it. I know there are times I do. And I bet you have times you need it as well.

Link for the excerpt here