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Right, Wrong, Up, Down – Who Knows?

Christian: So, how do you know what is right and wrong? How do you decide if something is right or if something is wrong?

Atheist: If it hurts others it is wrong.

Christian: Why should I care if what I do hurts someone else?

Atheist: Because it is wrong to hurt someone else.

Christian: You just went in a circle and ended up back where you started.

God is the standard of right and wrong.  Without Him we have no idea of right and wrong.  ’The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good.’ Psalm 53:1

Some Thoughts on Forgiveness – Part 3

A blog by Don McGlothin

Forgive, and don’t forget why… If we were to believe the great lie “forgive and forget” then wouldn’t we forget why we forgive? Wouldn’t we forget what we forgave, or when, or who, or even how? Wouldn’t we forget forgiveness? Are we trying to forget its importance, not only when we use it, but how we might receive it…They are the same. “Forgive us our trespasses, AS we forgive those who trespass against us.” Is this a timing issue or a “why we should?” Are we asking to be forgiven at the same time we are forgiving someone, or are we asking to be forgiven in the same fashion in which we forgive. I’ll assume both, and thus the take away should be “forgive fast and fully”. The sooner we forgive the more quickly we can heal. The more fully we forgive the more fully we will be healed.

Above I mentioned some wonderful things… forgiveness, love, joy, and peace. In reality, this is one opportunity and four results. Only one of these things is an opportunity to show God our love for him while simultaneously showing his love to another. It is an opportunity to willfully submit ourselves to him. That is forgiveness. You might say forgiveness is married to love and their offspring are joy and peace. With forgiveness you show God you love him while showing his love to another.

Gray is not as dark as black, I get that, but it is so cloudy and glum and can never be as bright as white. So, “Forgive, and don’t forget why” might serve us better than another lie that defies our God given reasoning like, “Forgive and forget.” The lack of reason is how you know it’s not from him.

To all, I ask forgiveness for the parts I’ve played mainly my anger and things I did or failed to do. If you think you should ask it of me for your part in things you did or failed to do, I already have forgiven you…but I will gladly do it again if you need to hear the words. I wouldn’t mind the opportunity myself.

Witness of the Martyr

“The word for ‘witness’ in the New Testament, martus, is the source of the English word martyr. Those who suffered and died for the cause of Christ were called martyrs because by their sufferings they bore witness to Christ.”  ’Surprised by Suffering, R. C. Sproul

May we be found worthy to witness for our Lord.  The Gospel is clear on Jesus as the suffering savior and we are called to share in His suffering as we are called to share in Him.

Some Thoughts on Forgiveness – Part 2

A blog by Don McGlothin

We know there are bears in the woods, as we know there are evil people in the world. However if we were walking in the woods and happened upon a bear just out of hibernation I doubt we would think to ourselves “Ha, I knew it.” Rather our mind and body would take to a sympathonimetric response, i.e. “fight or flight” mode in the interest of self-preservation. The first instinct would be to flee, and get away from this situation. Now if we were to happen upon a stranger harming our child a different and more powerful response would take place…like “Fight or Flight” in its nature, very intense, but not in the preservation of self, but rather in preservation of the child…Love becomes involved; love for our child.

You might be thinking that to harm one in order to keep them from harming another is not love. You might see it as a contradiction to my view of religion, but then you must re-examine our view on the Body of Christ, we who are, or want to be “in him” and with him “in us”. If we are the body, the arms the legs the muscles that are intended to do his will then how could one, being present, not attempt to stop an evil act with all they have been given? Why in times like this would your body and mind simultaneously have such a strong response if you are meant to do little or nothing?

We are again trying to apply man’s standards to God’s understanding, and I assure you it won’t add up because we cannot fathom his complexity…or even his simplicity.

The subsequent challenge then becomes to learn to let your anger go after it serves its purpose of stopping the evil….then forgive. If you think anger does not help at all then call it wrath and see if God ever used it to stop evil…and if vengeance is his, re-examine what part of his body we are. Whatever you call it, anger or wrath must be cast out after its intended use. We are not God, and have no abilities to completely control it. To keep it in you, however small, it will take up space…then it will grow and eventually it will be all you are. To let the anger go, you then create more room for love, joy and peace.

With love, you will find forgiveness, then on to joy and eventually peace.

Stay tuned for part 3

God’s Place, God’s Time

Was out walking and witnessing with some friends the other night.  We had various opportunities to speak to some people that evening.  We were down by the river at a festival and about ready to head back to the church and call it a night.  As we were walking there were two sets of steps to choose from, one closer and one further away. We chose the closer.

These steps leading up from the festival area, close to the rivers banks, were pretty steep and long.  As I neared the top section of the steps I came up to a woman who was starting to slow down and even struggle somewhat.  To be honest, I was starting to slow down some as well. When we are walking and witnessing we try to listen to the Holy Spirit to lead us when to approach someone. Admittedly, our “spiritual” ears aren’t always in tune so we do the best we can, probably hoping to err on the side of speaking more often than not.  We look for opportunities and many would be surprised at how often people want to talk.

I arrived at the top of the stairs just ahead of the woman.  I felt like I should speak to this woman I had never before seen in my life and I said, “I wasn’t sure either one of us were going to make it up those steps.”  She immediately responded, “well I struggle with severe arthritis.” I replied to her, “I’m sorry, would it be okay if I prayed with you for your arthritis?”  With absolutely no hesitation, she said, “Please do, I would like that.”

We stopped right there just beyond the top of those steps and she reached her hand out to me and we prayed together. After our prayer my friends and I spoke with her and her husband for a long time.  We talked about church and different beliefs, but focused on what we believe about Jesus Christ. She was genuinely interested and genuinely relieved.

God had worked this encounter out in full detail. We had chosen the right set of steps at the right time to be walking next to a woman struggling with severe arthritis. God had pre-ordained this meeting.  When my friends and I had left the church earlier that evening we had not planned such an encounter, but God had.

 

Some Thoughts on Forgiveness – Part 1

A blog by Don McGlothin

Mankind must make up standards to help us fathom the complexity of this world. Twelve inches is a foot sixteen ounces is a pound and so on. There is good and there is evil…one being the opposite of the other. Now to be that extreme in our understanding or application would result only in chaos, so things can’t be just black and white. We need gray…I get that. I wonder though if we have sought to destroy both black and white altogether or if we only see gray until black or white meet our personal need.

Suppose a stranger harmed you child? This person is evil; you are certain, after all, they did something where good was absent…an evil thing. Now suppose a child you truly loved did the same evil thing to your child. By all counts the stranger is an evil person that harmed your child.  On the other hand, the one you loved has also betrayed your trust, and discarded your love for them to better their gratification. The evil stranger may not have done any of these things. Has the evil act changed? No. But the measurement will. Is the child you love an evil person as well?

Healing must take place. Not just for the child, but for you, and the person who committed the evil act. It will be very hard indeed. The child must know what happened, how they were involved, and must know about forgiveness. Healing can only take place when forgiveness is present and practiced.

Stay tuned for Part 2

Let Them Take Advantage

By Joe Jaggers

Okay, picture this. It’s a beautiful spring afternoon in a small town and you are out for a walk down Main Street. As you are walking down the street looking into shop windows you come upon a man sitting on a bench next to a liquor store. You notice that this man looks a little bit intoxicated and by the way he is dressed there’s a good chance he is homeless. The closer you get to him the more you struggle within yourself how to deal with this gentleman. Do you pass him by? Do you make eye contact and say hello? Or, do you quietly move to the other side of the street acting as if you needed to go that way in the first place? All of these options go through your head but today is different. Today the words of the missionary that spoke at your church the week before ring in your head. Today, you decide to sit down next to this gentleman and witness to him about Jesus Christ.

As you sit with the gentleman for a few minutes telling him about Christ, you are able to push past the nerves that you are feeling at the beginning. The words that are coming out of your mouth must be from God because you really didn’t know you knew so much about the Bible that you could explain it to somebody. And on top of all of this the man you were speaking to seems like he is truly interested in what you’re saying. Everything seems to be heading in the right direction for you to bring this man into the kingdom of heaven but that is when it happens. You ask him if he wants to pray and he says sure. But as you are praying you take a quick little peek to see if he is truly with you. As you wrap up your prayer you look at him and say, “Jesus truly loves you. You need to continually look to God to supply your needs.” And that is when the man tells you he is hungry and then he asks you for some money. You can smell the whiskey on his breath, and he is sitting next to the liquor store he spends most of his time in. You think to yourself if I give this man money there is a 98% chance he will drink it away and the thought of him taking advantage of you really ticks you off. What do you do?

I tell this story because something similar happened to me recently. There is one big difference between my experience and the one I wrote about above. And that is, that I had a previous relationship with the gentleman that I spoke with. I already knew some of this man’s history and I knew that not everything he told me about himself was true. So when he asked me for money I had to come to a crossroads that I had faced once before. In college, a man stopped me in the Wal-Mart parking lot and told me a sob story about how he could not make it home and he was hungry and was out of money. I knew in my heart that this man was lying to me so I made him promise me he would not by liquor with the cash I gave him. He promised me, so when I watched him walk away, my heart and trust were broken as he entered the liquor store with the cash I just gave him. So, do I give this man standing before me now the money he is asking for knowing that he may be taking advantage of me?

Here’s the lesson that I’ve recently been learning myself. Sometimes God will call you into a situation that you willingly allow yourself to be taken advantage of.

“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Be as wary as snakes and as harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and beaten in the synagogues. And you must stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. This will be your opportunity to tell them about me – yes, to witness to the world. (Matthew 10:16 – 18)

When you go out into the streets, people are looking to take advantage each other. Because Christians are supposed to have a good nature, we are seen as easy prey. But Christians have come to realize the situation and have stopped letting themselves be taken advantage of. Now I’m not saying that Christians should walk around with a kick me sign on their back and give out wads of cash to everyone who asks. We are to use to servant and lean on Holy Spirit’s guidance. We are to be “wary as snakes.” We are to be aware of the situations that we are in and the possible intentions of the person to whom we are speaking. But Jesus also calls us to be “as harmless as doves.” When being held in someone’s hand, a dove is at the complete mercy of the one holding it. The dove could possibly fly away, but instead puts its trust in the one holding it and that means it could be easily killed.

“But I say, don’t resist an evil person! If you are slapped on the right cheek, turn the other, too. If you are ordered to court in your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow. (Matthew 5:39 – 42)

The dove and the snake could apply to this passage in Matthew 5. The dove is called by God to turn the other cheek but the snake knows that when he does there is a very good chance that he will be slapped on the other side as well. But once again, Jesus calls us to give what is asked for but then double down and give what was not.

Being taken advantage of hurts our pride, makes us feel dumb, and strips us of our rights to stand up for ourselves. But we have to think about who we represent when we step out on the street as a Christian. What did Jesus do for us when he came to earth? What rights can the one and only son of God cling to? Do our rights compare to the ones Jesus holds?

                Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5 – 8)

When Jesus went to the cross he knew that there would be people who did not deserve the blood he was going to shed but he willingly went anyway. Jesus knew that for the rest of time there would be people begging him for what he had, only to wander back into the darkness they were in before. But Jesus willingly went anyway. Jesus knew that there would be people that would live their entire lives on their terms only to accept his gift at the very last second of their life but Jesus willingly went anyway. Jesus knew that all of humanity is like the beggar on the bench. He knew all humanity was going to take advantage of his ultimate gift through his blood. Jesus knew that none of us deserved what he would do for us and he knew that we would make him promises we wouldn’t keep. But Jesus willingly lets us take advantage of him because of his love for us. Always follow Christ’s leading but know that at some point you will be taken advantage of.

Feed the hungry and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as day. (Isaiah 58: 10)