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Bloody Fingers?

Thomas 2

So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and *said to them, “Peace be with you.” And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and *said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus *came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He *said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus *said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” [John 20: 19-28]

I was recently in a conversation with a friend in advanced theological studies. It was pointed out that of the 14 student cohort moving through these studies in lockstep, 12 candidates do not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. Bear in mind, this is a Christian Seminary, whose students are career tracked to senior pastorate, denominational administration, and seminary faculty.

I’ll admit, I was a bit stunned. My overwhelming feeling was confusion, interspersed with some anger, sadness, and a healthy dose of frustration. The idea of pastoring a Christian church, when deep in one’s heart of hearts lies the belief that Easter is a fraud, left me a bit at sea. I felt a need to respond in some way, and yet quite at a loss as to how.

What does one do, teach, say, or even blog when God’s sovereignty over death itself is not only questioned (which is a healthy academic exercise — questioning everything), but utterly rejected as morality fiction? So… my adrenaline ran free… I talked with some friends, I emailed some friends, and settled… nothing at all. Basically, I looked towards the heavens, spread my hands, and felt like an ecclesiastical Chicken Little running in circles crying “the sky is falling!”

The next day, when the adrenaline rush had waned, and the Lord got to get a word in edgeways over my frantic (unidirectional) prayer…. I thought He’d be upset alongside me, and suggest some massive prayer campaign for revival and faith among the collective church, etc., etc.

Imagine my surprise when, in a FAR more matter of fact manner than I’d have imagined possible, He just slid up alongside me at my chair and said, “Um, Little Monk? What’s the problem? I’ve been through this. You feel all akimbo to realize that some of My servants don’t believe in My physical resurrection. I’ve been there before, you know… Thomas traveled with Me all three years, hearing everything I said, seeing everything I did. He knew Lazarus. He was at the Last Supper and with us in the Garden. He knew ALL the other disciples, and he knew the women who reported My rising and what the angels told them.

“And nonetheless, knowing ALL of that and ALL of them, still… his mind could not accept, could not comprehend, the possibility that I had risen from the dead. How in the world can you judge these students, or anyone, for struggling to wrap their heads around such a possibility?

“How did I handle that situation? I met his need. He made a straight up, bald faced, statement of what it would take for him to believe I rose from the dead. He meant that, and I took him at his word. The next time I came, I saw him, bid peace to him, and invited him to put his fingers in My wounds and his fist in My side. As it turned out, he found that after all, he didn’t need to do that.

“But Thomas had to see for himself. He needed to have a personal affirming experience of Me, to believe in My resurrection. Many people are that way, many people are skeptical of claims. Thomas was My disciple and friend before his faith was strained this way, and he was among the full Apostles, spreading the gospel thousands of miles after that day. He set Me a test, I met that, and he served Me faithfully and mightily.

“Nothing has changed today. I have many servants who love Me, worship Me, follow Me, and yet (perhaps deep in their heart of hearts) cannot comprehend or accept My resurrection. If they will do the same thing Thomas did… if they will encounter Me and set me a condition by which We, they and I, can experience one another by which they will believe, I will meet that joyfully. Just as once I did for you, by the way.

“Invite such people to come apart for a time, come find Me, encounter Me, and let Me show them My risen self in some way they can accept. It is vastly more comfortable to have faith in what one sincerely believes. Now, it is much happier and easier for faith to come by hearing, and hearing by My word. But those who doubt and resolve those doubts, can certainly be among My most mighty servants.

“Don’t judge. Invite and encourage. I’m always ready to encounter. Be at peace.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

<Sigh> So there we are, Gentle Reader. A bit of a confession, I guess. The Lord is just so much more patient, calmer, so much less judgmental than I am. I keep thinking I’m growing up, but so often He reminds me of such simple things.

Grace to you, and to all of us, Gentle Reader! — The Little Monk

 

 

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Posted by on October 2, 2017 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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Angel’s Journal, Entry Four: “Utter Shock!”

Journal Entry:

Finally, bleakly, a bit tremulously, I take up quill to install another episode in this journal. I hope one day, someone puts these events together into some sort of document for the humans. It’s all just so extraordinary, it would be a shame to lose it all with one generation.

Anyway…

“Yesterday”, so to speak, I could not even attempt to get my thoughts down. Even now, they will just come in patches as I sort this all out.

But after settling down in The Temple to teach after His entry, The Master and His disciples did some preparation for the Passover Supper they would celebrate together. Again, a couple of the messenger angels here got to forewarn some of what The Master would need… a room, utensils, food and such. (There was much excitement and just the teeniest bit of jostling, as angelloi crowded the assignment desk pointing out excellent reasons that THEY were the perfect one to deliver a given instruction. Nothing discordant, mind… just a bit… er… enthusiastic. Yeah, that’s the right word… “enthusiastic”.)

So, most of us settled back a bit relaxed, thinking all was well. After all, we’ve watched for years as The Master gathers friends for dinner and parties. He heals, He teaches, He relaxes, He enjoys. It was so strange. Some of the higher ups just became ever more tense as the time approached, where most of us (myself, certainly) thought things were going well.

The meal certainly went well… as John (the youngest) entoned the traditional words, “What makes this night different from all other nights?” and His Majesty was praised for His unflagging faithfulness and love for His children. But then The Master got up, stripped down as if to fish, and washed His disciples’ feet. He spoke so incredibly of being servant to one another, and servanthood. Brought tears to the eyes of many of us angels, as we are PURELY servants, and we love our role. But never have we heard it so exalted, nor realized how fully The Master is the Ultimate Servant. We did not know we could love Him more than we always have, but indeed we do. He taught all of the disciples to become servants, and so to teach others. And then… He renamed them “friends”, no longer “disciples”. It was quite beautiful.

Then, when supper was ended, all became still and quiet when The Master took the bread and named it His flesh, and the cup of wine and named it His blood, saying they were to consume these as He was giving these over for them. That they ever were to do this in remembrance of Him.

The Host began to hum as He spoke, and ended with a choral “Amen” as He exited for the Garden.

We all saw His tragic exchange with Judas Iscariot, and poor Jemireh (Iscariot’s guardian angel) broke down in tears as The Master gave his charge the sop, and Judas dashed out to the echoes of “what you must do, do quickly.” We all tried to comfort him, knowing Judas’ choices were his own and this had ever been foreseen. But poor Jemireh yet grieved the choices his charge had made, and questioned if he could have done more to bring Judas into the light rather than the darkness. None of this was helped by the taunts of the Dark One who had captured Judas’ heart with his ambitions and fears.

But when the party moved to the Garden of Gethsemane, everything felt faster and tighter.

Oh, one odd thing at the supper… just before they went out to walk, The Master asked if they had a sword. Michael’s head shot up as if dashed with water. All his cohort began to ready their armor and weapons, thinking they’d be mobilized within moments. When they found a sword there, The Master said to take it. Never before had He commanded them to be armed. It was very odd, but He explained nothing, so we just waited.

It wasn’t very long before we saw His need… but I cannot write more of this now. It’s all yet too fresh, and all this has seemingly drained me.

More in a little bit…

Journal Entry by — Makarion Nous, Angel 3rd Class, General Duties

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2016 in Lenten Journey, Uncategorized

 

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It’s Not the Feet and Hands, but the Eyes

earth beautifulHere we are in Lent. That’s a different thing for everyone. “Seasons”, Liturgical Seasons, are wondrous times, opportunities for the Holy Spirit to focus our interior eyes on a particular aspect of grace and our relationship with God. Such seasons as Lent, or Easter, or Advent, or Christmas, or the Pentecost… all allow us to concentrate our gaze on some facet of this “Crystal Rose” in our Garden of Prayer, the King of Kings. Generally speaking, the Lenten Season is somber, reserved, reflective, looking forward through the great trials and sufferings of Christ approaching the Crucifixion, as He draws to His climax in Jerusalem and the Cross.

What should Lent be like? Well, if the rhythm of this season resonates, the experience should be whatever the Holy Spirit calls for it to be for you in your own unique journey with Christ. For some, it is a time of recollection of our own need for grace; reminder of our frailty and fallenness, sense of responsibility for our wrong decisions, and awesome wonder at all the pain heaped upon our dear Lord in our place, in payment for our own regrettable actions and decisions. For others, it may be an intense awareness of Jesus’ passion, of His strength, courage, determination to do the will of the Father no matter the personal cost. Lent may generate the intense response of admiration and worship for so noble a Lord who struggled and overcame so much to honor the will of God.

There is no “right” way to experience Lent, and no “wrong” way, as long as the Holy Spirit is given free rein to prepare straight paths for the renewal of the Truth of the Resurrection, and the glory of Jesus’ triumph over Death itself on Easter. Traditions, customs, denominations, cultures, and eras are incredibly diverse in their observation of the Lenten Season. Across my own life, the experience has been tremendously different from one year to the next, one decade to the next.

So let me invite you, let me encourage you, to make way for the Holy Spirit to use this season to bless you. Let me invite you to enter into the Scriptural experience of these days approaching Easter, making straight paths for the Holy Spirit to show you whatever nurtures your relationship and awareness of the immediate and intimate presence of Christ in your life and spirit. Your experience doesn’t have to “look like” that of anyone else, as long as the focus is on Jesus the Christ, and the scriptural elements that so richly fill these days and these pages.

This one thing I would note in addition.

That there is no meaning to Lent, no meaning to the suffering, no meaning to even the “forgiveness of sin”, or the “payment for sin”, or the “satisfaction of God’s justice”, or even the “extension of grace and mercy to man”… if those are seen as merely “functions”. If those are seen as “things God did” or “things God does”… When we see these things as simple “extensions of God’s methodology”, we miss the point entirely.

All these things… ALL that we see of grace, of God’s workings…. is direct expression of His Infinite Love and nothing less.

Embrace the awareness, the sorrow, the contrition of knowing He took our own just punishment for our own willful and willing sin… yes. Don’t reject or resist that, if that is what the Spirit leads. Embrace the awareness of His suffering, His pain, His humility and obedience, His submissiveness to His destiny and the Father’s will, in the blood and the nails… yes. Don’t reject or resist that movement of your heart into His on the Cross, if that is what the Spirit leads. But in all of that, just don’t get so fixated on the blood, the scourge, the thorns, and the nails… that we neglect to look at His face, His eyes. They radiate with the reason for it all… His Infinite Love, Our Father’s Infinite Love, the Spirit’s Infinite love… for you, personally, individually… and every other child He has fashioned as well.

Let us not gaze upon the mysteries of Lent, these incredible 40 days, or Passion Week with its horrors, spectating like onlookers at the scene of a great train wreck. If we fixate, fascinated on the scourge, the thorns, the nails, and the blood, and we miss the wondrous theme playing just below that surface… we simply witness a deep drama of horror and cruelty.

Even in grief, we want to remember that undergirding all this… is unspeakable Infinite Love. That’s what all of this is about. This is the act, prepared before the foundations of the cosmos, that embraces all of creation in the arms of Infinite Love… by the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Amazing, isn’t it? Amen.

 
 

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Easter as Father’s Day

Empty TombI just want to post this quick note on this incredible and special day.

If you follow this blog at all, you know that lifting up Jesus is my passion, and I’ve talked of Him and the Cross often in these recent days.

But I’d just like to note a thing that rankled on me one day a while back. I listened to a very Christian preacher who I love dearly, share from the pulpit on an Easter Morning. He intensely shared his heart that he felt that all the Resurrection stuff focusing on Easter was misplaced. That the Cross was the important element, and Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross was where we should focus. That all the attention paid to Easter somehow took something away from Good Friday and Jesus. To Him, Easter was the “day Jesus was absent”, and therefore not of the great importance Christendom placed upon it.

Um… be proud of me, Gentle Readers… if you know me very well, that is… because I SAID NOTHING about this to him, either then or thereafter. This is the first time I’m mentioning it, and it was years ago!

Now, any of us might critique that underlying theology, given that Paul declares the Resurrection to be of singular importance to Christian faith and witness. But, besides that, I found myself a bit “squirming” and uncomfortable about the lack of recognition or appreciation of the FATHER’s role in all this.

Even today, to be truthful, we all tend to focus almost entirely on JESUS in the Resurrection. But this much my friend had right in his diatribe… Jesus… did not perform… the Resurrection.

Good Friday, the Crucifixion and all the Passion that led up to it, is indeed an unspeakable tableau of love, grace, and courage as Jesus walked through inconceivable suffering to pay the price of our redemption. No doubt of that at all.

The other day I wrote of the extraordinary Trust involved in the Cross. But throughout this wondrous time, Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, even today.. Easter, Resurrection Sunday… I seldom hear the Father addressed or appreciated at all. And really… Friday was Jesus’ day to shine and be glorified… today is the Father’s.

Look:

Acts 2:24 But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.

Acts 3:26 For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

Acts 5:30  The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross.

Acts 10:40   God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible,

Acts 13:30 But God raised Him from the dead;

Romans 7:4 Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.

Romans 10:9  that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

Galatians 1:1  Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead),

Colossians 2:12  having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

1 Peter 1:21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Now, I ask you, who is the “God who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory”? Jesus did not raise Himself. He could not. Not once He died. He had given up His authority and life, and cast His fate entirely upon the Father in faith, hope, and love.

“For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” [John 10 17-18]

And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last. [Luke 23:46]

Anyway, rest assured, Resurrection Sunday is a tremendous testament and glory to Jesus Christ. His resurrected self, the testimony of witnesses and angels, make this an altogether spectacular day in our worship of Him and His grace in our redemption.

But I just feel like I want to raise and flap a little pennant here on behalf of the Father as well! So often that “God”, as presented in the Old Testament, is seen as the dour stern judge that Jesus has to RESCUE us FROM! We deal with this all the time. So many Christians I know can readily accept the reality of grace at the hands of Jesus, but really struggle to envision that from the Father. Even though Jesus has said that to see Him is to SEE the Father, or that He (Jesus) only speaks the Father’s words, and only does His works.

But right here, on Easter Resurrection Sunday, we see THE FATHER move in grace. He, and He Alone, raised Jesus from death to life. He fulfilled the plan they had carried out now for 33 years, which they had drafted from the Fall of Man.

I love Easter Sunday. I love Resurrection Sunday. But in large part, I love it in recognition of another name it could go by…

Father’s Day

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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To Love Enough to Lose

As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” (John 6:66-67 NASB)

“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:9-15 NASB)

Gentle Readers, we are this day in an extraordinary memorial time… Holy Saturday… the Sabbath Day between the Crucifixion and the glorious Resurrection Day of Easter. We have come through what is, in many traditions, a time of preparation called Lent. In my own life, this has often been an extraordinary time when God teaches and transforms, renewing the mind and deepest recesses of my heart bringing some new understanding of life, of love, of Him, to this ever-so-stumbling child that I am.

Now, this year has been more extraordinary than any other, and I’m not going to try to describe here the picture God has carefully been painting, stroke by stroke, layer by layer, onto the canvas of my soul. For one thing, while I can now discern its outlines and contours, the work is not finished yet… and description would be incomplete and inappropriate.

But I CAN testify, and glorify Him, and witness to the marvel that is His grace and patience teaching so slow a learner as I… and share just a glimpse of the texture He weaves through Scripture and His Heart.

Without bogging down in detail, God has drawn a number of incredible threads and themes into my life across recent months… and been braiding them, harmonizing them, into a challenge that I understand, comprehend, embrace deeply into my heart and spirit, the texture of HIS heart regarding love, forgiveness, wholeness, healing. Everything He has taught, everything He has challenged, everything He has illuminated in scripture has keyed on a singular theme… “Relationship”. On “love as I love”. On how HE sees sacred lives, on how He defines relationships, and how He commands communion.

In these last intense weeks approaching tomorrow, you may recall my struggles with the idea of “forgiveness” when called to work towards the healing of victims subjected to unspeakable offenses. How do I love the “offender” as strongly and purely as the “victim”? For so Jesus has challenged me to do. How do I grow strong enough to absorb an indescribable amount of vicarious hurt and damage from innocents as I work with them, without reflexively curling up to defend my trembling heart to shield it in an armoring layer of “professionalism” and “clinical detachment”? How do I answer a challenge to take no offense at anything at all, to pour myself out without hesitation or reservation, in a pure one-way flow of grace and love… regardless of feedback? How does one yield sufficiently to “Christ in me, the hope of glory”… to Christ-likeness… to the Indwelling Spirit… that one gives, one loves, one speaks the words one is called to speak, that one embraces any and every sacred child of God equally and infinitely, without even KNOWING OR CARING whether they receive and respond to that love… or reject it… or even reject you and your heart and motives entirely and vilify, accuse, and alienate from you instead?

So big… the picture of God’s heart. Too big to get down here.

But a couple bits, a couple strokes, will fit on this page.

“Relationships”

That is a contour we can fit here.

And this… a strange one… “I don’t care!”

I found myself saying this a great deal a while ago. I would struggle with challenges… tasks or frustrations or obstacles that seemed to entwine themselves and keep me from meeting my goals. And I would ponder and fret, trying to find a solution to situations or problems that seemed too convoluted to untangle. And I would find myself figuratively throwing up my hands in frustration at my own inadequacies, saying “I don’t care” HOW this is supposed to work out, I’m just going to move forward step-by-step, blind as I am, following what dim light I can make out, and not care about outcome, process, or mechanics.

The phrase made me uncomfortable.

“I don’t care,” is not a series of words that fall frequently from my lips. They reflected a deep sense of weakness and sense of inadequacy. I am not accustomed to a sense of “incapacity” or futility, and the jarring nature of hearing such words in my ears made me stop and examine… was I leaving the path? Was I tarrying in darkness or shadow? Was I yielding, in my pain, to a sense of despair or doubting of grace and God’s sovereign capacity? I offered my heart, this weakly pulsing, perhaps doubting, heart to Jesus, asking, “If I am out of order, if I am looking elsewhere but You, please recapture my attention and focus!”

Jesus comforted…. that no, I was not disoriented… I was yet securely focused on Him, but we were passing through a dark place and I did not yet understand, did not yet see, what He was trying to teach and show me… but it was a process, and this was all progress, and I was to be patient… both with Him and with myself. That yet, He Himself, was teaching me the phrase, “I don’t care”. But that I, of my humanity and experience of life thus far, took the phrase to mean I would not pour myself out for others, that I did not or would not love or allow grace to flow through me to others. And that perception and perspective was NOT me or my heart.

But Jesus challenged me to embrace the phrase, not reject or deny it, but allow it… realizing that it had another meaning as well. I had only seen half the story. To wait, to keep allowing, keep absorbing, keep embracing anything and everything He brought into my day, and allow Him to grow me to see the phrase another way.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Yesterday, Good Friday, I got it. I understood.

Tomorrow, Easter, I will understand more.

But to wrap this up…. to invite you along, Gentle Reader… on this journey and challenge, here’s what I have come to understand as of yesterday!

The verses quoted at the opening of this post reflect an amazing truth. They say, through Jesus’ very words and actions….

“I don’t care!”

That is, they point out that Jesus’ is going to think, do, say, and love PRECISELY as the Father does, wills, and flows through Jesus. What Jesus thinks, does, says, and how He loves…. has NOTHING AT ALL to do with how His disciples, now “friends”, respond to that.

Whether they come or go. Whether they believe or deny. Whether they obey or sleep. Whether they remain with Him or flee into the night….

JESUS DOESN’T CARE! HE JUST LOVES THEM, AND LAYS DOWN HIS LIFE FOR THEM.

There’s two ways of “not caring”. One is not to love in the first place, and to refuse to put oneself out for the other. The second way is to pour oneself out fully for the other, give oneself with abandon, to God’s expression of love to and for the other, without counting the cost or conditioning that by what we “get back FROM the other”.

Jesus, without hesitation, condition, or remainder, literally poured out His life’s blood for…

His friends the disciples (all but one of whom abandoned Him in His loneliest hours)… for you… for me… (and I’ll confess, I’ve never come CLOSE to being His most grateful friend)… for the jeering crowds surrounding Him who blasphemed, spat upon, and threw garbage at Him… and, frankly (scripture says)… for all who fell in Adam. (As in Adam all men sinned… so…)

Bottom Line: “I don’t care” is an incredibly important phrase that I needed to learn to embrace.

GRACE FLOWS ONE WAY ONLY! Father to Son. Son (through Spirit) to us. And then… in Him… from and through us to others and into the world He provides around the creation that is our lives with which He graces us each and every day.

It is the same lesson with which He opened His ministry at Sermon on the Mount!

I am to LOVE. I am to FORGIVE. I am to BLESS. I am to SPEAK FORTH THE GOOD NEWS OF HIS HEART. Wholly, totally, and without remainder, condition, or measurement of the cost or the nature of response of the “sacred other” with whom I am relating.

Why?

Because this is how He loves us. This is how He loves me. And, if I am His, then I am to love others… ANY others… ALL others… exactly the same way.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Keep me in your prayers, Gentle Readers. Yet a work in progress. I can almost see the picture now. Just a few more brushstrokes and He will be done. When? When will I get to see the unveiling? When He says so. And how soon is that? Exactly what will it all look like?

I don’t care.

And that, is good.

 
 

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Does God Think Upside Down?

Ever had those days where God is teaching you something… or rather… He HAS TAUGHT you something… and you get it (you think)… but He just keeps teaching it to you over and over again as if you had never heard Him in the first place?

This happened to me once before, years and years ago, when I was listening to some teaching on an audiotape about forgiveness… and the speaker said this phrase, this critically important phrase… and I GOT IT… I thought. But God just kept saying, “Nope, you missed it. Rewind. Play it again.” And He just kept on keeping me at this for 30 minutes, until finally it was like a dam burst in my soul and suddenly I really got it, all the way through me, and my life was never the same. I’ve spent the rest of my life trying to share this phrase with the rest of the world. The phrase, by the way, was…

“The power of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, the strength of His blood and forgiveness, was so complete and so perfect that it forgave all sin for all time, past, present, and future… and removed it from us, as far as the east is from the west… such that there is no further room in the life of the Believer for any ongoing sense of sin, guilt, or shame.”

And while my “head” and my “mouth” could have said this for years, I’d always secretly lived in the little “Perry Mason Heresy”… thinking that while I would, indeed, get to heaven because I belong(ed) to Him… I was still going to have to go through some ridiculous and shameful “courtroom scene” when I died, trying to justify or explain all the stupid things I’d ever done in this life. Somehow I had managed for years, even in ministry, to miss the significance and implications of “take away sins”, or “washed whiter than snow”, or “putting on the righteousness of Christ”.

I was free! Totally and utterly free! Free to respond fully and wholly to the magnitude of such love! O my… changed me forever.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Well, that was a long time ago… and yet, here I am again, hearing the truth, knowing the truth, believing the truth, and yet hearing God say to me… “Nope, you missed it. Hear it again!”

Perhaps ye can help me, Gentle Readers, for I truly think I’ve “got this”. And yet… I am convicted that I’m missing its true significance.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

What am I missing, you ask? Glad you asked.
* hears echoes of ‘what then do I yet lack?’ *

It’s this truth…

God… forgives… FIRST!

I mean, it’s simple and obvious, isn’t it?

“God so loved the world that He gave…” (Jn 3:26)

or “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8 NASB)

Tol’ja it was simple, didn’t I? And yet… and yet… I’m not getting it, not fully, not yet.

I almost know where my problem is. It’s this little niggling hiccup… like a tickle in the throat. It’s this temptation to say, “Yes, but…” in recognition of our traditional thinking that says, “in order to be forgiven, we have to be sorry, we have to say so, we have to feel guilty, and we have to resolve never to do it again!” I mean, if we don’t do all those things, if we don’t beg God on our knees for His gracious forgiveness, trembling in fear… then it can’t really be God, can it?

I mean really, be honest, aren’t you cut from the same cloth? Isn’t there this little knee-jerk conditioned part of you that says, “Well, grace is all well and good, but after all… not even GOD can be THAT Good! I mean, we’ve at least got to feel bad and be sorry… even if we don’t need to totally BEG!”

I mean, really… we must have to do SOMETHING… haven’t we? I mean, we can’t be supposed to really just depend on GOD… HIMSELF… ALONE… to deal with our forgiveness and redemption, are we? He must need us for SOMETHING, doesn’t He?

Here’s the essence of my niggle and conscience.

I get it… I do… really… Grace. God Alone. God did it. God does it. His sovereignty. His authority.

And yet… and yet…

God says, “Nope, you’ve missed it. Go back over that again!”

And so I do.

And it is just so amazing, I guess I struggle to let my head wrap around it.

We get it so backwards. Like that WE have to start all this. WE have to conceive of a grace and love so big it encompasses the possibility of forgiveness and redemption. WE have to suggest it to God. WE have to persuade Him to this path. Like its all OUR idea rather than His.

Really? REALLY??

How can I even START to think this way!?

But even now, God says…

“Behold…”

And this singular image comes to my eyes. Jesus saying, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing…”

And I ask myself, “How many of THEM are sorry or seeking that forgiveness? So… Who does that forgiveness depend on, them? Or Him and HIs will alone?”

So… which came first… Contrition, or Forgiveness?

Is it possible, is it just possible, that perhaps it is God’s forgiveness, the grace that flows from and through that, that makes it possible for us to experience repentance and contrition?

Am I the only one who tends to think backwards?

So a work in progress, Gentle Reader. Keep me in your prayers!

Grace to you!

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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