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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

His Way

Have you ever been wounded? Have you ever experienced a wound that slashed through your life and affected every aspect? Some people can say no while others know that some experiences leave you scarred, perhaps even handicapped in some ways.

When I became a Christian I thought, was led to believe, that anger, hate and depression would automatically be swept away by the flood of Jesus love. Jesus' love dramatically affected me, I was no longer alone and knew an unconditional love like none other. However, I was surprised by the anger and hatred that lingered within me. I learned the words, "Forgive as you have been forgiven" and I really tried to but the feelings of anger kept coming back. I was ashamed of those feelings so I tried to push them down but they seemed to grow. As the feelings intensified I became even more ashamed so I pushed down harder. I cried, "Lord please help me to forgive," but still I didn't seem to be able to let go. Finally I became depressed, I hated myself and I thought about dying a lot.

 Around this time we started going to a new church, one that had a professional counselor on staff. I decided with fear and trembling to pay  him a visit. Over the course of months I told him my story, one that few knew, and he helped me to sort through the confusion. As we walked through my experiences step by step, we prayed and step by step, I let go of my pain and I forgave. After months I found relief from anger, feelings of hatred and my depression was lifted off me like a heavy wet blanket.

Forgiveness can be a complicated matter. Sometimes one can forgive easily because the wound is little more that an abrasion other times it is a deep and wide gash or a cut that that has been opened over and over again. These injuries need treatment and time to heal.

After my sessions were over I thought that I would never have to deal with those feelings again but some things go deep and lurk in hidden crannies and then pop up when least expected. At these times I seek out help and talk things over, hidden things tend to grow rotten and create problems, talking about them helps to sweep them away.

I am the one who has benefitted the most from forgiveness. I have peace and true joy in my heart rather than turmoil and pain.

Sometimes we feel that we can't forgive because it means letting the person off the hook. Forgiveness is not the same as making excuses for a person. When we hurt others there is always a price to pay so when someone misbehaves and willfully hurts others they need to be held accountable for their actions. The Lord does not excuse our bad behaviour we must come to him and contritely confess our sins to recieve his forgiveness and grace. We are saved to eternal life and God calls us his children but there are still earthly consequences for our sins, we do not escape them and we shouldn't. Jesus says "if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift."(Matthew 5:23 &24)

Forgiveness does not mean making excuses for or letting people off the hook or allowing them to continue hurting others. Forgiveness means letting go of hurt, loving that person whole heartedly and praying for the Lord's blessings on them. Love and forgiveness do not always come instantly at our bidding or easily but if we are willing Jesus who is love can and will help us. I am thankful that he was patient with me and helped me.

I Corinthians 13

13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part,  but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Lately certain verses are resonating with me.

"Blessed [happy] are the poor in spirit [the humble], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3)
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal" (Matthew 6:19)
"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."(Matthew 6:33)

These verses speak to me because sometimes I get caught up in thinking about how I look, the clothes I wear, my hair style, make-up, the stuff I own. I have been influenced by the media that tells me that I should try to "look seven years younger" or that I need to own a certain pair of shoes, dress in fashionable clothes and look a certain way (Good Housekeeping). The truth is that I can only take this kind of thinking for so long before I break down. Experience has taught me that this is not the way to happiness or a sense of fulfillment but that this leads to feelings of futility. With this world's "water" I need to keep returning to the well time after time, Jesus however promises that "whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

Jesus knows the futility of setting my hopes and dreams on what our culture says is desirable, material goods, intellectual advancement, beauty or critical acclaim. Using these devices to fix what is wrong doesn't work because our satisfaction erodes with time and we must seek more. If I build a house out of sand adding more sand as it erodes will not fix the problem, I need to start over again using a completely different material. (Matthew 7:24-27)

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it."

Once in a while I forget Jesus words and I begin to build a little sand castle for myself and then Jesus reminds me of his words.

 "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness"

The following is an old hymn. We sometimes think that hymns are out of style but I have found that they hold wisdom that is often lacking in our culture and times. I know that I have much to learn from these oracles of God.

A Hymn of Grace


Keith W. Ward

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.