Tag Archives: guilt

Please Forgive You!

Five for Five by Brendan C. under Creative Commons License 2.0; Source:

Five for Five by Brendan C. under Creative Commons License 2.0; Source

“How could I DO that! It’s not fair! It’s not right! That just hurt them too much! How can I say I love then, when I did that?!”

For the past couple posts, “In Love We Trust” and “Please Forgive Him!”, we have been discussing intimacy and the immediate love relationship with the Divine, and how it both reflects and is reflected by, our relationships with one another.The central theme I present (with which you are welcome to disagree if you choose) is:

We cannot truly love those we do not trust. And we cannot truly trust those we do not forgive.

One day, Jesus was asked…

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” [Matthew 22:36-40]

Now, Jesus was only asked about ONE SINGLE commandment. And He answered the question. But notice, He simply COULD NOT leave the statement at that. For Him to address our relationship with God, without addressing two other relationships was simply not acceptable to Him. That would have been wrong. And He refused to do that.

“TWO relationships?” you ask. Yes. It is easy to see that Jesus speaks of our relationship with others here. In fact, time and time again we see this text and that of the Good Samaritan circumscribing Jesus’ understanding of “neighbor”. But there is another entire relationship contained in His simple words “as yourself”. Contrary to a great deal of religious-looking thinking, writing, preaching, teaching… we are NOT to “despise ourselves”.

This may be a strange thought to some, Gentle Reader, but we are to hold ourselves in the same sacred love as we hold others… the same as Jesus holds us… the same as the Father and Spirit hold us. Please, stop, for just a moment, and consider that statement.

Why? Why are we to do this?

Because this is what God does, what God has willed, what God has done.

The Apostle Paul discusses this incredible reality in his letter to the Romans:

“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. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” [Romans 5:6-11]

God loves us FIRST! He loves and came/comes to save SINNERS, the UNRIGHTEOUS, His ENEMIES!

We SAY these things so readily and blithely, Gentle Reader. But so seldom do we stop and think them through. Are you in Christ? Indwelt of the Holy Spirit? Does God hold you in the hollow of His hand? I suspect so. (Otherwise, this isn’t a blog likely to appeal to you, so I trust that to be so.) But beloved brother or sister… just as for myself… that didn’t happen and doesn’t happen because “we got sorted out enough to entertain His presence!” Far from it. He comes to those who NEED Him, and receive Him in that need. It has nothing at all to do with our getting “cleaned up enough to touch Him”… He is the only one who can “clean us” in the first place!

So, why am I bothering to belabor such a fundamental Truth?

Because it is so very easy to forget our own helplessness, as we grow in Him. As we grow, our conscience becomes more sensitive, more attuned to right or wrong, to godliness or dissipation, to purity or depravity, to righteousness or callousness, to love or indifference. We become more aware of the moments when we forget His presence and grace, and act out of appetite, pique, or adrenalin. The Spirit within our conscience points out such moments in our considerations, we know remorse, repentance, and we grow in our understanding, compassion, and love.

It seems an odd thing, but the more we mature in Christ, the more loving we become. But at the same time, our “internal standard” increases as well. Our expectations of ourselves rise, so that often, rather than acknowledging and praising God for our growth (our increase in loving others and decrease in wounding neighbors) we feel more dissatisfied than ever. Our guilt, our shame, our dissatisfaction can increase rather than diminish. There is a subtle trap of darkness here… undermining grace, hope, gratitude… endorsing and affirming pride and a sense of hopelessness or despair.

Now, this post could become a long, scripture-laden, multi-faceted teaching… or we can keep this simple. So I just want to put some ideas our here, let you consider them (prayerfully), and see what you think. I would appreciate comment, response, reaction, and discussion if/as you feel led. So here we go…

  • God loves FIRST. He did. He does. That’s it. We can choose to receive that or not, but we never did, we don’t, and we never will… “merit”… “deserve”… or “get good enough” to deserve or earn that love. We can just reflect it to Him, and refract it to others… but only He IS and RADIATES Love as His very essence and being.
  • In this life we yet walk subject to “glass darkly” incomplete vision and understanding. We know moods, feelings, reactions, adrenalin, illusions and temptations that from time to time we use our free will to choose, in place of God’s will. That is, sometimes we sin, treating one another or even God Himself as less than sacred and holy.
  • When we recover our peace in Him, we become aware of such past moments, and experience remorse, perhaps even shame or guilt. We can respond to such awareness with either of two kinds of sorrow, one that leads to death, the other to repentance.(see 2 Cor 7:10)
  • The sorrow that leads to death haunts us, dwells in a closet of buried regrets, and emerges in our lowest hours to foment a sense of despair, hopelessness, worthlessness, and guilt that robs us of any sense of joy or life. It drives us away from God in our shame and the desire to hide from Him. The sorrow that leads to repentance is clear and can be uncomfortable, but seeks light and cleansing and hope. It is a sorrow that seeks to reconcile and render relationships whole again, rather than distant and disrupted.
  • The crucifixion and redemption of Jesus at Calvary, the sacrifice of His blood shed on the cross, was so complete and so perfect that it forgave all sin for all time: past, present, and future. Such that there is no further room in the life of the believer for an ongoing sense of sin, guilt or shame.
  • God, in the crucifixion and redemption, paid for and REMOVED all sin and its stain, from those who believe. As far as east is from the west. There was a Writ of Transgressions (a charge sheet) against us, which has been nailed to the cross and obliterated in Jesus’ blood. Our sins are buried in the deepest abyss of the sea. There are TWO goats in the Atonement Sacrifice, one that dies to pay the price of sin, the other on whom the blood is poured and is driven from the camp (the Scapegoat). There are TWO sets of “books” at the White Throne Judgment: one BOOK (singular), (The Lamb’s Book of Life) containing the names of the redeemed, and the BOOKS (plural) (The Books of Deeds) that are opened ONLY for those NOT in the Book of Life, who are judged according to their deeds.
  • Jesus has clothed us in His own robes of righteousness, which is why and how God sees us (right now!) as clean before Him.

Now, do we all “feel” this, “realize” this, walk in full “awareness” of this all the time every day? No! We yet experience our own frailties and faults, failures and missed marks day after day. Nonetheless, God has already woven all of that, and this, into His plans, His tapestry of time… and it is all accounted for in His will.

“Forgiveness” is a yes/no proposition in life. Either we choose a universe where Forgiveness exists… for ALL… or we do not. Forgive others. Yes. Forgive God. Assuredly. But also… of great importance… Forgive yourself!

So many people “stand apart” from God, because there is something in their past (or even their present) that THEY cannot forgive, so they dare not embrace Holy God.

Know what? He knows about that. He always did. He knew about it before you did. He knew about it before you did it, before you knew it was wrong, before you repented it. He LOVES you… and LOVED you BEFORE you did it, WHILE you did it, and now. He does not, and never has, despised you or been ashamed of you.

So here’s the challenge: If God Himself loves, forgives, and embraces you (and me)… knowing full well (even better than we do) all our shortcomings, vulnerabilities, failures and habits… who are we to condemn ourselves and retain our shame and guilt? If Jesus Himself DIED, according to both His and the Father’s will… to FREE us from sin, guilt, and shame… is there any merit in holding on to those despite His sacrifice?

Do you have faults, Gentle Reader? So do I.

Does an “accountability list”, or an inventory “examination of conscience” sometimes seem to fill you with despair or disgust? Well, I do that sometimes.

But it took a really REALLY long time, before Jesus sat me down one day, hugged me, and said, “I know every stumble every time, and I always have. I know every flaw and failing, and I always have. And yet I chose to die for you, knowing all that, just because I love you that much and I want you to embrace Me as I embrace you. Now… if you are ‘good enough for Me’ just as you are, will you please let yourself be ‘good enough for you, too’? Since *I* forgive you… will YOU please forgive you, too? If you can quit focusing so much on the stumbles and frailties, and focus on My embrace, instead… you’ll find you stumble a lot less.”

So there you go, Gentle Reader. Since He has forgiven you so much, and gone to such trouble to make it so and take all stain (past, present, and future) from you… Please forgive you, too! It’s a choice we make. We can live WITH forgiveness… or not. It’s entirely up to us.

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Posted by on September 16, 2015 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized


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Dreadful Confession – Hilarious Conviction


OK, Gentle Readers… I have a confession to make. I like cooking shows. What’s worse, I love cooking competition shows. Once in a while I enjoy watching a group of people work under greater pressure than I feel from time to time. If you don’t know the kind of show I mean… like “Chopped“, or “Hell’s Kitchen“, or “Iron Chef“… well, perhaps that’s a good thing. But now you know my own dark secret, and the air is clear between us.

SO…. I was perusing Food Network a bit ago, and stumbled upon an episode of “Worst Cooks in America” (which I’d never bothered to screen), and the post was titled “It Just Keeps Getting Worse”. And… *blush*… I was intrigued. So… *voice drops to a shamed whisper*… I watched it.

Um… um… Believe it or not, I cannot recommend more strongly that you invest 43 minutes of your life, perhaps with your family gathered around you… to watch this. I believe it will bless your life… I KNOW God blessed mine with it… as I have come through the following stages (in order), as I’ve continued to watch further episodes on YouTube:

  1. I laughed so much and so often in the first episode it brought tears…
  2. I realized, afterwards, that I felt very convicted and guilty because it seemed I was feeling “ridicule” for the contestants (who are in it for $25K, so, that mitigates a lot of guilt). But… but… ridicule isn’t a big tendency of my heart, so I prayed on this. (Cf Luke 18:10-14)
  3. In prayer, just relaxing with the experience, I embraced again my more habitual “heart tone” of “there but for the grace of God”… and asked the Lord where the grace was for me here…
  4. Laughing, He asked, what if I thought of this episode in terms of “Little Monk, the Theologian”? My own “competence” in things Kingdom, on my own, without Him?
  5. Now THAT, I found resoundingly laughable! And I richly laughed at the thought. Without Him, I’m a stumbling infant without a clue. I AM a contestant on this show! Yes!
  6. And with THAT I had His utter encouragement to be free of any further conviction and go on with the program and see where it led.

Having done so, I have been incredibly blessed to watch what happens in the lives of these people. They have garnered my respect, my admiration, and my love.

(With me laughing all the while!! Now with them, rather than at them)

Ever have one of those days, or moments, when you struggle with self-condemnation? I do. Ever have one of those days or moments when you take yourself too seriously? I do. Ever have one of those days or moments, or aspects of your life, where you just want to throw up your hands convinced that you will never improve at this? I do.

Well, if yer at all like me… invest these 43 minutes, and perhaps be led to a bit more, and be encouraged and blessed by it!

Grace to us all, Gentle Readers! Such a work in progress, eh?

The Little Monk


Posted by on February 20, 2015 in Quiet Time, Uncategorized


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Journey — Unwelcome Guests

Desert CaravanGreetings, Gentle Reader. Please forgive my absence for these days. I have been ill. Nothing serious, just one of those annoying little “molecules that think they’re alive” things, that wreak havoc on otherwise peace-loving internal organs… creating digestive chaos of all sorts. Well, and a bit of fever, and difficulty with focusing my vision… or sitting upright… or staying awake. Anyway, certainly not conducive to typing in any form.

Things are much better now, and I can again appreciate some of the beauty of this trip. But even in the early part of my little “side odyssey of infection” there, the Lord was kind enough to provide a moment of “comic relief” I thought you might enjoy.

This is, in my part of the United States, the school holiday called “Spring Break”, and my daughter and grandkids have taken the opportunity to visit for the week (and managed to bring along with them the little molecule that laid me low, who they had hosted the prior week… we’re a “sharing” family).

My grandson is 5 years old.... *pause*…. That really about says it all, if you know any 5 year old persons, especially little boys. Just in case you do not, my grandson’s basic motto is… “CHARGE!!!!” (Often screamed at the top of his lungs, full tilt run, sword held aloft in one hand, shield buckled on to the other, seeking the nearest dragon who DARES rear his/her ugly head in the presence of the Little Prince’s family or pets (whom Little Prince is sworn to defend)!)

My granddaughter, on the other hand, is a vastly more ancient 7 years old, speaks of back-in-the-day as “when I was little”, and alternates between two general roles in their scenarios… playing “Damsel in Distress” to the Little Prince’s rescue efforts… or… his “Hall Monitor”. By this I mean that she often sees it as her own divinely appointed task to inform adults (particularly their mother) of any misdeeds or bending/breakage of rules, norms, mores, or regulations… of said Little Prince. Our Little Princess has long treated this task as her holy and sacred trust.  (Her parents work diligently to discourage and correct her for the annoyance of “tattling”, while at the same time dancing the fine line that… frankly… the straight-up intel is both valuable and (at times, perhaps even) life-saving. Little Prince can be VERY creative.)

OK, here’s the scene… daughter and I sitting in living room watching a movie… children playing quietly in “their room” in my house, where they can watch movies, scatter toys at random, and generally enjoy being as boisterous as they choose without adults nagging at them.

Suddenly… Little Prince breaks free of the dungeon and TEARS across living room into kitchen SCREAMING… “I DIDN’T DO IT!!!” Ducks out of view….

Daughter and I blink… look at one another… wait for sound of screaming or crashing or glass tinkling… we hear nothing. All is silence. No Little Prince. No Little Princess. No debris sounds. We shrug… I wonder if daughter can resist the temptation… she cannot… we hit “Pause” on our movie, as…

“Little Prince?” daughter ventures in a tentative voice… “What… precisely… is it, that you did not do?”

*crickets chirp in the silence…  until…. a moment later*

“I DIDN’T DO IT!!!” streaks the Little Prince, dashing back at top speed from the Kitchen back to the Play Room.

We continue to ponder these mysteries for a few seconds, as I wait to see how daring is “Mother-who-Must-be-Obeyed”, and whether she’ll decide to stand up and investigate or not. She decides discretion to be the better part of valor and as I reach to press “Play” there is just one final act to this minor melodrama…

Little Prince emerges one last time, stands in front of “Mother-who-Must…” and screams, “I DIDN’T DO IT!!!” and disappears back into the Play Room.

As Daughter and I ponder this, our Little Princess appears utterly casually bouncing a balloon in the air, into the foyer (where she can play balloon-volleyball).

“Um, Little Princess… is everything OK?” Daughter asks.

“Yup!” responds Little Princess, without hesitation.

Now, bear in mind… were there ANYTHING to REPORT, on the Little Prince… THIS would have been the moment seized without hesitation or remainder. But… NOTHING.

So… at this crossroads of horizon… this potential detective mystery… prudence won out. Nothing more emerged. The principle of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” prevailed… we hit the “Play” button, and carried on with our quiet afternoon and movie.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


A few moments later, in the back of my spirit, the Lord began laughing uproariously. I was confused…

“Um… Lord?”

“Oh, Little Monk! You have NO idea…” as He continues to laugh in clear good humor.

“Huh?” I respond, with all the sophistication I could muster.

“I go through that ALL the TIME. You, your friends… all the time!”

I was confused.

“You’ll come running out to Me, screaming… ‘I didn’t DO it!’… about something-or-other you feel guilty about. Sometimes, you really DIDN’T, and of course I KNOW that… but you still think you have to convince Me of it. Sometimes, you DID… and of course I know that, too… but I took care of it, forgave and removed the stain of it… but you still think you have to lie to yourself, or to Me, or to others about it.

“In either case, you’ve been driven into a panic by a random prick of meaningless guilt! Scares you, disrupts our relationship, doesn’t accomplish a thing. Just meaningless noise.

“Beloved child, don’t let random ‘spirits of guilt’ prod you and panic you. My children do this to Me all the time. The Father and I just look at one another, blink, and laugh when you do this… much as you did there.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Little Monk, on your journey here… consider leaving behind these random barbs of meaningless guilt. They only distract and disturb you. When you experience conviction of spirit, yes… come sort that out with Me. But these little ‘stampede spirits’? Laugh, and dismiss them. They accomplish nothing.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Hmmm… who’da thunk it? A 5 year old Little Prince… first sermon… not bad, eh?


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