Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Carrying Our Kids to Christ

Opposition can come from the strangest places; discouragement from the oddest sources; and both at the most unexpected times. 

When someone is seeking the Savior you would presume that the Savior's servants would be excited. But that's not always the case. 
Sadly there are times when ministers can be mean, congregants cruel, and leaders just plain lousy. There are times, if we're honest, when you and I may be much more of a discourager than an encourager to a soul on their journey to Jesus.  

In Matthew 19:13-15 we are told of a time when a group of children were brought to Jesus in order that He might lay His hands on them and pray.  Sounds like a good thing, but that good thing was oddly disdained by the disciples - disdained to the point that they began to rebuke the parents for carrying their kids to Christ! 

Crazy, huh?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Hardness of Heart and the Ruin of Relationships

Modern divorce rates are high. The last official statistic I found from the CDC was that somewhere around 50% of marriages now end in divorce. In the arena of special needs, where my own family exists, the rates are even higher - hovering around the 80% mark (often due to the weight of physical and emotional burden that husband and wife carry). These are heartbreaking figures, and they result in heartbroken lives. 

Sure, living under the same roof can be rough and marriage can be hard, but then again, since the fall, what relationship isn't? 

Parents and progeny fuss and fight. 
Friends become foes. 
Churches split.  
Relationships rupture.
Many marriages are a mess.

This morning, my quiet time took me to Matthew 19 and a section on divorce.  In the text, a group of Pharisees have come up to try and trick Jesus – as was their custom.  They toss out a question about whether divorce is or isn’t lawful (and lawful “for any cause at all”) and then misquote Moses hoping to trip and trap my Lord.

As is always the case, they fail in their folly.  How do you ever outsmart omniscience?  Jesus does a beautiful job of correcting their twisted teaching by driving them all the way back to the institution of marriage  - marriage before sin made a mess of it.  He looks at the original portrait of the Master rather than the marred imitation of the impostor. 

There’s much I could write on this, but today’s post is actually not one on marriage per se, or about divorce in particular – though it clearly has a ripple effect on both.

This is a post about hard hearts.  My hard heart, your hard heart, the ravaging effect of hard hearts, and ultimately about the One who changes hard hearts.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Parable of Pardon

"Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea...                                             
...until they have to forgive someone!”  

Those words of C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, hit me hard as I read them.  

Selfishly, I want to be forgiven. 
Sadly, I don’t always want to forgive. 

More often than I wish to admit, I’m pretty pitiful at pardoning and fairly fickle with forgiving.  While Peter asked Jesus just how much he had to forgive a sinning brother, I seem to be often guilty of wondering just how little must I?

Forgiving can be a hard thing, but as we grow weary let us remember that forgiving is a gospel thing.

According to the Bible we are called to forgive fully and freely because in Christ we've been forgiven fully and freely.  Driving that idea home, Lewis wrote in another book (The Weight of Glory) that “to be a Christian is to be willing to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

I’m not sure that this picture is portrayed in any more piercing fashion than it is in the story of “The Unmerciful Servant.”  This is a parable of pardon and it is one that convicts me to the core.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Just How Much??

Over the course of my life many of its circumstances have forced me to really wrestle through the concept of forgiveness. 

Friends have failed. Family has bailed.  How am I to respond?   

I’ve been wronged - should I forgive?
I’ve been abandoned - can I forgive? 
I’ve been betrayed - will I forgive?
I’ve been abused – must I forgive?

Forgiveness can be a tough teaching because, if I'm really honest, forgiveness goes against the grain of my nature.  

When you push me, my natural response is to push back.  
When you talk about me, my innate reaction is to talk about you.  
When you walk away from me my first reflex is not to walk towards you... 
     ...well, at least it’s not to walk towards you with Christ like love.  Sadly, if truth be told it may be to walk towards you with balled up fist much more than with outstretched arm!  

I often don't feel like forgiving.

Yet, in spite of my feelings, God’s Word tells me to forgive.  Over and over and over it tells me to forgive!
In response I ask, “Well, how much, God?  JUST HOW MUCH do I have to forgive THAT person who did THOSE things to me??” 
Or if more honestly stated, perhaps the real question is “just how little forgiveness can I get away with?”