Friday, 16 November 2012

Eye Exam

If you have ever had your eyes examined you may recall that the doctor tried having you look through different lenses to determine which lens provided the greatest clarity for each eye.

I realize that many of the people I deal with have a difficult time forgiving those who have inflicted past and/or current wounds.  Winston Smith, in his book Marriage Matters  describes the feeling as in “the darkest moments of hurt, you may look inside of yourself to find some help in forgiving and feel that you’re hunting for water at the bottom of a dry well. When you’re consumed by your own hurt, where does forgiveness come from?” The “go-to” Scripture reminds us that each of us has been forgiven much.

Furthermore Smith writes “Our ability to forgive comes from appreciating and living out of God’s forgiveness. If you don’t yet understand how much you’ve been forgiven, just remember that your forgiveness required the death of God’s own perfect son. When you appreciate and live out of the joy and gratitude of God’s forgiveness, it becomes easier to forgive others.”

“Bestowing forgiveness isn’t about looking inside yourself to find an appropriate emotional response; it’s about focusing on God’s love and grace and asking for the ability to pass it on to (the one you need to forgive).”

For those who have a strong “vertical connection” i.e. have been able to really internalize the love of God and truly appreciate, as best a human can, God’s sacrificial act this Scriptural reminder is enough to enable us to extend forgiveness in the most grievous of situations.  This is one potential lens through which you can view forgiveness, one which I would call the “thankful” lens.

There at least two additional lenses that might enable you to see the wound you have received in a less distorted way.  One such way is to accept that Matthew 6:14-15 is one of the most disturbing passages in all of Scripture, at least for me.  For what it says to me is that if I am unwilling to forgive my brother /sister in Christ that God will not forgive me.  I would call this lens the “Scare me out of my wits” lens.
The final lens might be called the “it’s all about me” lens.  Which when taken at face value appeals to most of us.  This approach suggests that failure to forgive will most likely manifest itself in a physical and/or psychological problem for the one who is unwilling to forgive.  It is referred to Biblically as a “root of bitterness.”

The final lens provides a “painful but helpful” view of your situation.  Assume that God is trying to get your attention.  What valuable lesson does he want you to learn from the pain that has been inflicted on you.

Hopefully one of these lenses will work for you.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Jesus Cares - Really!

Kevin Carson posted a blog entitled “Enjoy Your Day – Jesus Cares”.  My first instinct was to delete the post.  First of all I am well aware that Jesus cares.  Secondly I thought there are a lot of people who are hurting and to tell them to enjoy their day and that Jesus cares seemed unfeeling, uncaring and too cliché.  Boy was I wrong.

I’m certain that some of you who are reading this blog are experiencing some real struggles, be they marital, financial, or a problem parenting, etc.  Perhaps you are not feeling the love right now.  Consider the following:

In recounting the events surrounding the resurrection of Lazarus Kevin postulates:

First, Jesus demonstrates His love and care even when we as His people do not understand or at times even believe. He sees His two heartbroken friends who love Him. Jesus cares that they hurt and mourn with a general sense of unbelief. So Jesus cries. Interesting response, isn’t it? John makes it clear that Jesus had already determined to raise Lazarus from death. He told his disciples, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I make wake him up” (John 11:11). So, the end of this story is already known to Jesus. He understands better than anyone present that this is getting ready to change from a funeral to a party. Yet, Jesus still hurt because His friends hurt and were weak in faith. The good news for us is that Jesus is no different today. Friends, Jesus cares…
Even before His death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus shares with Martha the ultimate hope each person has regardless of one’s pressures and hardships. In Jesus, we live. In your current struggle, you may be questioning how much Jesus loves and cares for you. You do not need to look any further than the cross of Jesus Christ to be encouraged by the love and care of Jesus.

During times of great difficulty most Christians can still intellectually acknowledge that Jesus cares.  What we need to remember is that when we are hurting we have a great High Priest who is standing by our side, weeping.  He cares that we are hurting and that we are weak in our faith.  The end of our story is already known by Jesus and He wants us to truly believe that indeed “all things will work together for good” for our Lord and Savior went to the cross for you and for me.
Enjoy your day!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Made, Picked and Packed by God

   Be devoted to one another …honor one another above yourselves.  Romans 12:10

Have you ever purchased something and inside the package was a slip of paper that read “picked by Angie” or “packed by Hugo”?   This personalized touch makes the employee feel good about what they are doing because it is a form of recognition.

 As I thought about this process my mind took a strange detour.  When you get right down to it each of us was “manufactured” by, “picked” by and “packaged” by the Creator of the Universe. Wouldn’t it be cool if each time a baby was born he or she would come out of their mother’s womb with a note affixed to their forehead that read “ this baby was created by me”, signed God. 

Now I’m sure that God, being God, already gave this a thought and rejected it.  In the first place He has a monopoly on the manufacture of babies.  He holds all the possible patents with regard to making, picking and packing them.  So God, being God, probably assumed that a “post-it-note” on the baby’s head would be redundant.  Secondly, God knew that several thousand years later we would be telling the story of how someone who worked for 3M and who sang in a choir invented Post-it notes.  God has a thing for urban legends.

Of course had God resorted to marketing His wares in the way I suggested, He would have had to say,  “No returns”.  Let’s be honest, as a parent there are usually one or two times in the child’s life that you would rather have a “store” credit and send the kid back.

Fast forward to the time when this incredible, one of a kind, creation meets another of God’s unique creations and they tie the knot.  Here in lies part of the problem.  Because we realize that we are a magnificent product of Almighty God we assume that we are special, failing to acknowledge that we are no more special than everyone else on planet earth.  As a unique creation we are prone to put our desires ahead of everyone else’s desires (James 4;1-2); we are self centered (2Corinthians 5:15) and we want the universe to revolve around us.

Each of us carries God’s signature, His autograph so to speak.  We are a “hand crafted” piece of work, designed by the King of Kings.  The next time you see your husband or wife picture them with a Post-it note on their head, with God’s autograph.  Surely that will give them a value that is irreplaceable.  In addition realize that your spouse is God’s handpicked gift chosen just for you.