Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Forgiveness is the Key

The room is dark and every surface hard.  A cold chill blows in from the tiny, barred window.  It’s dank, and there’s a constant dripping from the ceiling that echoes through the room as it falls against the unforgiving ground.  It relentlessly interrupts the peace of the one who shares the room.


Someone’s in prison because you put them there. We all put someone in prison when we choose not to forgive. 

In Matthew 18, Jesus tells the parable of a man who owed his master ten thousand talents.  He was not able to pay so he begged for mercy.  The master had compassion and forgave a debt he could never repay.

That same servant then went and confronted a fellow servant who owed him a few hundred denarii.  The second servant also begged for mercy but the first servant refused, and had him thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.

In Greek mathematics, ten thousand was the highest possible number.  A talent was worth approximately six thousand denarii, and one denarii was the amount of a day’s wage.  Ten thousand talents would be equal to sixty-million day’s wages, or about 164,384 years.  In other words, it is an impossible debt to repay.

Our debt as sinners to God is impossible to repay.  Not only could we never know the amount to be repaid, but even if that amount could be counted, we would never have the proper currency.  The only payment is death.  So God sent Jesus—the sinless Son of God—to pay our debt in full.  And when we accepted that payment, we were set free. 

And then someone sins against us.  The pain is significant but the debt is nowhere near what we were forgiven for—every sin we will ever commit.  Still, sometimes we stubbornly refuse to forgive.

Jesus finishes the parable by saying,

Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.” This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’” Matthew 18:32-35 NIV

You walk up to the darkened room and stand at the barred door. 


You see the shadow of the person inside. Only your forgiveness can unlock the door. 

You choose to forgive. 

The lock snaps free and the door swings open with a creak.  You strain to see who’s inside.  The one you've set free walks forward to greet the light and breathe in the fresh air.  You recognize the face only there's a new joy dancing in the person's eyes and a new love in the heart.

It’s you. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Journey to Becoming a Writer

I loved English.  I loved dissecting sentences and putting them together.  I loved reading novels and poetry and all kinds of non-fiction. But I never thought of being a writer.  I never considered a blank page.

I grew up, got married and had two kids.  I became a Christian and got busy serving at church.  I cooked and baked and painted and sewed and read.  But I never contemplated writing. 

Then I was asked to teach, and then to write short devotions.  But I still didn’t consider myself a writer. 

And then God slowed me down.  He has a way of doing that.  And I found more time to sit at the computer.

A friend suggested I start a blog.  She said I was a writer.  I wasn’t sure if I should believe her.

God slowed me down even more.  I couldn’t stand for long to cook or bake or shop anymore.  Painting was out of the question.  So I began to write.  I remembered the words of my friend, and I started a blog.

I didn’t think of myself as a writer, but God did.  He slowed me down so I could see what He saw.  He wanted to show me some things so I could share them with you.

God has brought me to this place to show me that I am a writer.  He has made me so.  Not for myself or my purposes but to glorify and magnify the Name of Jesus.  And for that privilege I will humbly say, I am a writer!


(This is my submission for the I Am a Writer contest for the blog Jeff Goins Writer.)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Glorifying God in the Daily Challenges of Being a Mom

Moms face more challenges than they ever would have expected on the day they first met their child.  It starts out easy--bottles and naps and diaper changes (quick ones if it’s a boy).  And the crying, oh yes, the crying.  One of mine had a shriek that could crack a window pane. 

Then the challenges graduate to making sure every drawer and cabinet and toilet seat is securely locked.  And there are the temper tantrums, in the middle of a store or restaurant no less, with every judgmental eye glaring in your direction. 

Then there are the school lunches, the peer pressure, the homework left until 10 pm on Sunday night.  There are pre-teen crushes and sometimes bullying, either on the giving or receiving end. There’s the time they get lost in the store for a full 7 minutes and 18 seconds. 
There’s the first time your child lies to you.  And the first time they say, “I hate you!”

There are threats to run away to live with a friend who has much better parents than you.  There are struggles about what to and what not to watch on TV.  There are the late nights wondering who they’re with and what they’re doing. 

Sometimes the challenge is losing a child far too soon.

Sometimes there’s shoplifting or drugs or alcohol. You listen for sirens or a knock at the door.  You wonder for long stretches if anything you’re saying is sticking between the ears.
And through it all you love them with a love that is indescribable.  They are not just your child but a part of yourself.  They are your heart living on the outside.  And you’d do anything for them.
It’s a wholly beautiful mystery, this relationship between mom and child. 

And some moms face challenges that others of us will never know.
When the angel Gabriel told Mary that she would be with child, being an unwed mom would be just the beginning of the many challenges she’d face. She had no idea what else was coming.  Seeing her son crucified would be the greatest challenge.  But she accepted those challenges with grace and humility as she told the angel, I am the Lord’s servant.” May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38)

And in the end, that’s really the greatest challenge of all--to accept the unique challenges given to us in each child every day with grace and humility unto the Lord.  And when we do, and we train them up in the way they should go, and never give up (okay, maybe for a minute or two), we bring God glory.

What you do does not go unseen, dear mom. God sees it all and He smiles on you. What you do matters, and in the end it will all be worth it.  God will make sure of it.

This is the story of another mom who has accepted the challenges of the precious child given to her by God with grace and humility.  I am strengthened by her inspiring story and I think you will be, too.

Happy Mother’s Day and thank you for all you do!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Prayer For Our Nation

National Day of Prayer 2012

Heavenly Father,
We come to you today, not in our strength, not in our intellect or anything within ourselves, but solely on the grace afforded us by the blood of Your Son. We acknowledge our sin before You and ask that You would forgive us.  Forgive us for turning away from You and Your righteousness.  Forgive us for turning away from morals, for justifying our sin.  We ask for Your mercy.  We need You and invite You into our nation and ask that You would once again make us a nation whose God is the Lord.  Woo us back to you, Father. Draw us back into your safe and loving arms.  Turn our hearts back to you.  May we come back to you as a prodigal child returns home. 

Father, I lift up our leaders to you and ask that you would prick their hearts to desire You above all else in their lives. Give them a boldness and courage to do the right things, not right according to our own human reasoning, but right according to Your Word.  Only You know what the future holds and only You know the direction we need to go as a country.  Father, open our leaders’ eyes and may they receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and may you give them Your wisdom. Open their eyes to see the fruitlessness of going their own way.  Help them to make the right decisions for the people of this country. 

Father, make your people sensitive to Your Holy Spirit that we might follow You no matter how difficult that may become.  Light a fire within our hearts again to follow only You rather than the world.  May be we be sick of the world’s ways and come out from it to be a separate people, holy unto You.  May we be of one mind, serving You and doing the work of the kingdom while we still can.  Turn us back to our first Love, that we may love the Lord with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our minds, and with all our strength.

I pray for the people of this country, those who are homeless, without jobs, sick and without healthcare.  Lord, please show your loving kindness to them and help those who earnestly want a job to find a job. Please provide shelter and medical care for those who need it.  Where we, your body, can help, give us hearts to help and the means to do it.  Help us to be known as those who are actively, lovingly reaching out to people in need.  May we set the example to the rest of the world.  I pray that you would raise up well-trained and loving teachers to put in our classrooms and that our schools would be a safe place for our children to learn. 

Father, help us to see how foolish we’ve been.  Give us a vision for the far-reaching consequences of our sin and may we quickly repent of our sins and turn our hearts and families and businesses and nation back to You.  May we seek to glorify and magnify the Name of Jesus in all we do and say.  Father, please hear our pleas through the blood of Your precious Son, Jesus. 
We love You and praise Your holy Name.  Amen.