Forgive, forgive, forgive…

The Gospel message yesterday really got to me. It was the parable Jesus used to talk to Peter and the disciples about the number of times you forgive someone for wronging you, sinning against you. Peter suggests seven times would be adequate, but Jesus counters, “not seven, but seventy-seven.” He then tells them a story about a master who graciously forgives the huge debt one of his servants has with him only to find out later that the servant refused to forgive a much less significant amount that someone owed him. The master, Jesus tells us, is less than amused. (Matthew 18:21-35)

So its pretty straight forward – we are supposed to be extreme in our forgiving… But if we are honest, we are not, and this is a huge massive problem for a species that values community the way we do. No matter what you say, you need people. You need them near you, you need their support, you need their love, and maybe most importantly you need to be needed. Yet when we harm one another, sin against one another, its damages our ability to be in community with people and if we are unable or unwilling to heal those injuries by forgiving the offender, we end up stuck in that place.

Please understand that I am saying this knowing that I can hold a grudge like my two year holds a cookie.  It is something that I have to work on daily and sometimes even more often than that, and its why I know this to be true.  If we can be extreme in our forgiving we are able to be freed from the pain and struggle and fatigue that comes from lugging around all that anger, frustration, sadness or whatever other negative emotion we might feel towards another person. We can leave it behind and go forward. This is a big deal for God. He doesn’t want us to carry this garbage around. He doesn’t want us to hold these painful events to our hearts. He doesn’t want any of us to feel that disconnect from the people around us. Real peace in you life comes only when we have begun working to let go of the hurt.

This is just what came to my mind today…

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Sin? You got nothing on me…

Sin used to terrify me.

Sin, that thing that paves the path to hell, that thing that stains our soul and leads us to the depths of despair through grief, guilt, and shame. Its everywhere and, seemingly, in everything. The Ten Commandments, the guide of the what not to do in life, contain as its first proclamation a sin that appears unachievable – to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and body. Continue reading

Make Clean Our Hearts…

I don’t know if I am concocting a new personal theological stance, maturing in and moving deeper into my existing stance, or fiddling with something that doesn’t need to be fiddled with, but recently I took a course on something called Logosynthesis (healing with words). The course is all about freeing ourselves from what is essentially blocked energy. Now, I’m paraphrasing and offering little in the way of detail, doing the course little justice, because what I want to focus on is how it has shifted my thought process as a Christian so far. Continue reading

Street Preachers…

I was in Halifax last week for some meetings and one night, while I was walking back to my hotel I came across some street preachers.
“Repent!”
“Jesus saves!”
“For God so loved the world…”
I have a special place in my heart for street preachers.  I think it takes great courage to get up and share God’s message, any message for that matter to a group of strangers that did not invite you to speak and have no initial interest in what you are saying.  I wish I had that kind of courage.  So please understand that I am not arguing with their message; the Gospel is the most beautiful gift ever given to humanity.  Whether it is 2000 years ago or today, the Gospel speaks a truth that has never, nor will ever be diminished.
I accepted their literature that night – nothing wrong with it, pretty standard.  I listened to their message – sounded good.  I watched… And there I noticed a problem.  They were sharing their message AT the people who were walking by without shifting their language to a medium that those folks could understand.
Today’s populace is very smart and they do understand what words like repent mean, but what they don’t understand is why there is a need to repent.  They understand the word sin (generally means bad stuff), but they don’t not understand, for the most part, what their sins actually are, nor do they necessarily see the deep consequences of those sins.
I love the enthusiasm those young men showed that night, what they were missing was Jesus’ very intentional desire to listen to the people He was speaking to.  There was a reason He sat with the tax collectors, prostitutes, criminals, sinners and generally untouchable people.  Yes, it was an act of mercy and love, but those principles are seen most in His listening to them so that He could better articulate the deep and unfailing love of God in a way that those souls could hear and understand.
As Church, again its wonderful to go out to the streets to share God’s word, but as Church we are called to be Christ-like, so we are called to listen, to understand the people we are ministering to, and to learn and to speak their language so that the power of God’s message to the world can spoken INTO the lives of neighbors and strangers alike.  Everything else is scattershot preaching – a few hits from thousands of words with few of those hits being terribly convicting or life changing.  And that’s true whether you are preaching salvation from a milk crate on Robie Street, standing in an immaculate pulpit and sharing the merits of St Augustine, or reading a ready-made downloaded sermon from the internet, it’s all hit or miss if you do not speak the language of the people you are with.
Know your people and if you don’t know your people, get to know them.  The Gospel can only be shared among friends.

Crossroads – July 2016

My dad used to work in a prison. “Jim”, a childhood friend of his, was an inmate. Jim had been in and out of jail most of his life – the very definition of the word “institutionalized”. He was a large man who lived by a specific code, hard-wired into his conscience over his years of incarceration. His record was long, and at this particular time, he was serving a life sentence for murder. Continue reading