How I (finally) forgave

If there were a meter by which to measure introversion, I’d register in the hermit zone. That means few people other than my wife and father know me well. While I prefer it that way, it’s often frustrating, especially where sharing my faith and talents are concerned. Not surprising then that I blog, journal, and post my original tunes on the web.

From time to time the Father has given me a friend with whom to break bread real and spiritual; someone to listen, offer wise counsel and encouragement. A friend is one of God’s greatest gifts as we make this pilgrimage through life.

The wounds from a friend can be trusted; but an enemy will smother you with kisses (Proverbs 27:6).

lovecoverssin

A true friend will point out an issue, that on my own I’m blind to or simply refuse to deal with. Anger is one such issue. Decades ago, a friend observed when it comes to dealing with anger, I do a “slow boil”. Eventually that simmering pot of upset within me would boil over and I became “hell on wheels” in dealing with every unjust situation or person who had wronged me.

Upon that all-too-familiar battlefield, the grace and peace of Yeshua takes a stand against the scars and injuries I’ve accumulated over a life time and the wearisome struggle to forgive those who inflicted them. These issues, together with the all-too-frequent Continue reading

Eye-opener: Sheep or goat?

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. (32)  Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (33)  And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. (34)  Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (35)  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, (36)  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ (37)  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? (38)  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? (39)  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ (40)  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:31-40 ESV

sheepNotice in Matthew 25:31-40 (above) there are 3 groups of people: “sheep”, “goats”, and “my brothers.” All too often when people read that passage, they see only 2 of the 3 groups, “sheep” and “goats”. When interpreting it, readers tend to assume that the “sheep” and “my brothers” are one in the same. If that’s correct, then for all practical purposes Jesus is commending the “sheep” for serving themselves, feeding themselves, clothing themselves, visiting themselves, etc.

Let’s begin by looking at the word “nations”; the Greek word is ‘ethnos’ and Strong’s dictionary defines it “a race (as of the same habit), that is, a tribe; specifically a foreign (non-Jewish) one (usually by implication pagan): – gentile, heathen, nation, people.” Continue reading

Building with living stones

A benefit concert for a free medical clinic inspired me to write a new song for the event. The heart of the person who put it all together really touched me as one of few genuine church building efforts I’ve seen in years.

livingstoneFor the concert, the Lord impressed me with a message about Church building. Most of us have heard that the “Church” is a people, not a building. Yet it seems whenever church building is discussed, the conversation always turns to a house of wood. Concerning the things of this world we work so hard to build and maintain, Paul tells us that the Lord will test the quality of our work by fire (1 Corinthians 3:13).

Accordingly, we really need to ask ourselves whether what we are working on will survive the fire, for only that which remains is worthy of our labors. We can be certain that our church buildings, camp and conference grounds, church buses and the like will be burned up. When the ‘things of this world’ are gone, I think we will see that our only enduring work is the investments we have made in others (Matthew 25:31-46). Continue reading

Preemptive grace

Washing the disciples feet has often left me wondering whether Jesus intended a greater lesson for us than to simply marvel at His servant-hood as is common in the annual celebration of the last supper. In fact, when Jesus had finished washing their feet, He asked:

Do you understand what I have done to you? (John 13:11)

FootWashingIn trying to grasp the significance of what He did, it is well to remember that Jesus remained with the disciples for 40 days following His resurrection. Surely Jesus could have found the time to wash their feet then, rather than on the night of His betrayal. Mere hours before His arrest, trial, flogging and crucifixion, Jesus must have been in emotional agony. Yet, Jesus concern was for the disciples who would be wounded by His death and scattered by the persecution that followed. Jesus knew they would be overcome with guilt and shame for denying Him and therefore potentially reluctant to return to Him. By washing their feet before they deserted Him, Jesus laid the groundwork of grace and prepared the way for the disciples to be reconciled to Himself. In so doing, Jesus reassured them of His love and the forgiveness that awaited them when eventually they did sin against Him. Continue reading

The Restaurant Revelation

My mother went to be with Jesus on May 22, 2003. Following her stroke the fall of 1999, dad devoted his life to mom’s full time care. As happens far too often, most of their friends left them. Since her care routine did not permit for morning outings, they could not attend church services and were quickly forgotten. Rather than accept isolation, dad began taking mom out to an early supper several times a week, which was no small effort on his part. Dad washed, clothed and fed mom and lifted her several dozen times each day and night, from bedroom to bathroom, wheelchair to recliner, in and out of the car.

momRestaurants provided mom with loving human contact, which was a healing balm for her spirit and helped to prolong her life. No matter how many times the wait staff came to the table, she greeted them with a cheerful “oh, Hi!” and one-armed hug. They remained with mom as long as it took her to order, which was in itself an act of love and grace since the stroke left mom unable to speak except for a few nonsensical words. The kitchen staff even helped to take care of mom, by cutting up her meat, customizing meals and coming out to greet her, where many more hugs were given and received.

Among the many cards and letters my dad received following mom’s death, were several from the restaurants they enjoyed. All were deeply touching and conveyed love and admiration, but one in particular set me to pondering with the observation: Continue reading