Tag Archives: Jesus

Unmerited Grace, Unwarranted Forgiveness, and Undeserved Love

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Grace. Forgiveness. Love.

These are three words that people throw around time and time again. I do, and you may too. The question is – do you believe that they are for everyone? Think about those people who are hard to extend grace to, who just don’t deserve forgiveness, and those who are really hard to love. Do you have a mental picture of someone in your head right now? I know I came up with several examples.

As an example, I will bring up a recent news event. A little ten year old girl was abducted. An amber alert was issued, and hope for her safe return was sent around the nation. We all went to bed that evening, many people nationwide praying for her to be returned home safely. The next morning, however, the news reports were heartbreaking. A man had been found, arrested and charged with her murder. Murder. Seems she wouldn’t be returning home safely after all. I know my heart broke with many, many people about this. My initial response was WHAT THE <insert expletive of your choice here> IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE???? Then, as the news story further unfolded, it was noted that this precious child had been abducted, molested, and then murdered. Harder to think about, this was all allegedly purported by someone many children trust every day – a teacher. This made me angry…and it should. This broke my heart…for what the little girl endured, but also for her family, and for those who loved her, and now will miss her.

Now that I have painted this hard to think about picture, I’d like to offer another scenario that will likely make your stomach turn. It may even make you angry. But, what I’d like, more than anything else, is for it to open a dialog. I’d like to hope you will at least think about it.

Let’s take this man. A man many people have called all sorts of names – many I will not repeat, cause they are not appropriate for general audience. That said, people have also been quick to explain what they’d like to do to this man. What punishment they’d give him, if it was their ability to do so. I bet you could imagine what your punishment for his crimes would be. Torture? Execution? Whatever method chosen, it would likely be very unpleasant, and likely painful.

So, about my scenario regarding the man charged with kidnapping, molestation and murder — Does he deserve grace? What about forgiveness? Surely not love!? Couldn’t be – he doesn’t DESERVE any of those things!! I would like to challenge this line of thinking!! No, he absolutely does NOT deserve grace, forgiveness OR love. The truth is, though, NONE of us do! God hates sin. ALL sin.

*******Prior to my continuing, I would like to insert this little caveat. While I am about to explain my thoughts about grace, forgiveness and love – as it relates to a criminal of his nature, I want to make it known how I also feel. I believe 100% that this man, provided he is found guilty of the aforementioned charges, should be held accountable. I think he should be punished, and every amount of the legal ramifications he is due, SHOULD be afforded him!!*******

Now I’d like to explain my thought process behind what I mentioned earlier. This man needs grace. He needs forgiveness, and he also needs love. As Christians, we are called to love as Jesus loved. What does this REALLY mean though? God’s grace is not earned, and you can never actually earn it. The same rings true about forgiveness. God forgives. Period. At this point, you may be thinking I am off my rocker! That may be, but not for these reasons. You see, every human being alive needs grace, forgiveness and love. Period. EVERY PERSON.

Does this mean we have to love (or even like) what he did? ABSOLUTELY NOT! But, if we are truly going to love as Jesus loved, we are going to dig deep, ask God for help if need be, and offer him love. This doesn’t mean we’d ever want to even look at him. It doesn’t mean you’d run up and give him a bear hug. It doesn’t mean you would ever invite him over for Christmas dinner. What it does mean, is that you’d want to see his heart softened, him come to know Jesus, him turn from his criminal ways, and ultimately end up in Heaven one day. Does he DESERVE it? No! But, I’m back to the same sentiment that NONE OF US DO! Should his crimes be forgiven? Not in the eyes of the law, and not as it relates to justice being served legally. What it DOES mean is that God gave his only son to die on the cross to forgive EVERYONE of their sins. This man’s horrible, despicable choices are no different. Jesus has already paid the price. As I mentioned previously, I absolutely believe he should be held accountable for the choices he made, and for the crimes he committed if he’s convicted. Grace does not erase what he’s done. It doesn’t make it all better. It does, however, give him the opportunity to do the right thing. It makes it possible for him to have a second chance.

I recognize this isn’t necessarily a popular topic, and I’m okay with that.

It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you’ve done. God loves you, God forgives your sins (if you ask Him to) and He freely gives you grace. Knowing that God’s grace is freely given, that His forgiveness is for the taking, and His love is very real is not a ticket to commit crime. It is, however, the possibility of a second chance. It’s not even living a perfect, or blame free life. It’s knowing that you ARE human, and at some point – you WILL mess up. But, it’s the knowledge that God’s grace is sufficient to cover you, His forgiveness is available simply because you ask and make the choice to change, and His love – it’s yours because you are precious. You may not always feel precious, and you may not understand how anyone could love you – let alone the creator of the entire universe — but it’s true. You are loved.

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365 Moments Of Gratitude: Thankful For Boldness

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Today I am simply grateful for boldness. I am finding that, the more I ask God to help me have boldness, He responds. I’ll be telling a story, mid-sentence even, and realize I’m talking about Jesus, healing, prayer, etc – without so much as a second thought. Where I was shy, and wouldn’t speak my heart out of fear of “what if…” or “what would they think, say, react…” I am now finding the words are there. The boldness to speak them – also there. Thanking God today for all He is, and for helping me become all that I can be through Him.

365 Moments Of Gratitude – Thankful To Have A Story To Tell

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Today at church, our pastor spoke about having a story. Each and every one of us have a story to tell. It is ours, and ours alone. The good, the bad, the beautiful and even the ugly make up who we are and the life we live. Our past, present and future comprise our story. It is this story that people will see whatever we are a witness of.

As Christians, God gives us a story. He doesn’t erase the “bad” parts and keep only the good. No! Instead, He redeems us, and allows every part of our story to share grace, hope and peace with others. The things in my life – the ups and downs, the peaceful moments and struggles alike, will be a living testimony of who Jesus is – through us.

Something I have said before, and that was mentioned today is that we are very well the only Jesus some people will ever see. As I was explaining to my husband, there are many people who do not know Jesus. They don’t attend church, and the Bible is nothing more than “just another book” in their eyes. To that person, I (as a Christian example) may very well be the only church, the only Jesus, and the only witness of who He is that they may ever know.

I want my life to be a witness of who He truly is. The life change and personal transformation I have experienced – and continue to experience every day – is something I want every living breathing human being to come to know. When people experience even a fraction of the love He has for us, life change happens.

I want to live my life in such a way that my story – my experiences in life that brought me from where I was to where I am today – speaks for itself. It is my desire that my story share the same amount of peace, grace, hope and love that was shared in such a real way with me. If anything I have been through in the course of my life (good or bad) can be used to share Him with another human being – to share grace, peace, hope and love — it will have a purpose greater than I could imagine.

I am one person, with one story – and it is with that story that I want to share gratitude and thanks to God for giving me. It’s my story. I am the only one with this story. I am thankful for my story – for all of it – for it is what has made me who I am.

New Years Eve 2012 AHA Moments (Also Known As “God” Moments)

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I had an amazing few days recently. As this title suggests, I had some “AHA moments” this week. I have had the opportunity to dig a little deeper and seek the heart of God on many topics and areas of my life. I would like to share the personal aspects and thought processes I’ve gone through recently.

One such moment was with regards to serving / volunteering. I had an amusing reaction when I was sent a request to volunteer at church this past week. It wasn’t a bad response, as much as a “really!?” response. My thoughts went along a negative reasoning path. Meaning – I have just been missing out on worshipping lately…and sometimes just feel disconnected in a way.

I should also mention that I’d been having a pretty “not so fun” sort of time surrounding Christmas. To say depressed wouldn’t explain it fully. I had much on my mind, and then the things going on at home – it just wasn’t a good time. There were actually some pretty uncertain thoughts going on in my head. So, I saw the request to serve after having served a couple weeks in a row and at first I was worried. I was concerned that if I didn’t just have time to sit worship Him, that I might somehow drift or disconnect even more.

It was what happened next that rocked my world. Really, as plain as day – I was just mumbling – talking to God and it was as if I heard Him say “Is my arm to short? Do you not believe that I am able to take care of you? You’re my child – and when you serve in any capacity that allows others to come to know me – I can and will take care of you – physically and mentally.” In that moment, He helped me realize that what I tell others every day is true: He IS God, and He IS in control. It was as if He was asking if I even believed my own words.

It was also impressed on my heart to check my attitude – and that many things in life are a direct result of my own choices – mentally, in this case. Yes, there are evidently some chemical imbalances at work as well…but all in all, many things are within my ability to affect the outcome of. For instance, many many times in the past two days or so have popped up challenging my sanity. I have asked God to help me have His heart – to react to people and situations as He would. My children, and my husband alike – that I could have a soft heart, and make conscious decisions to do the right thing – even when it’s not fair, even when it may hurt, and even when I just plain don’t want to. If I aim to resemble and be the hands and feet of Jesus, life won’t always be this virtual bed of roses. However, in the midst of it all, He is – and always will remain – faithful…100% of the time.

I also had some more “aha moments” so to speak. Mostly, with relation to my health – mentally yes, but mostly physically in this case. Much of what’s going on in my body is out of my control. For those things, I put them in God’s hands. He knows exactly how to deal with me. For the things within my control, I have to act. Action is a requirement. To accept the status quo as a way of life, to just not care – that doesn’t end up working out in the end. I cannot eat whatever I want, and expect to look how I’d like. Conversely, I cannot refrain from exercise and expect my body to magically conform to my desires. When something pops up that irritates or hurts me with people I care about, it is my choice to harbor bitterness, or to forgive. Forgiving, however, sets me free – not just them. When I feel a bad mood approaching, or negative thoughts, etc – it is my choice to give them to God, or to try to battle on my own. I also have the ability to CHOOSE to think positively instead of dwelling on the negatives. If my house is a disaster (and I won’t lie – it is) – I can either choose to tackle it, even if that means starting with baby steps. I can do what I know to do, and allow that to make a difference. I can choose to be the wife and mom that God has called me to be…or, I can be self centered, and choose a selfish life of the status quo. I have to be the adult, and not allow things to just fly because I’m too lazy to deal with them. My children need guidance and direction, consequences to actions – and especially, consistency. Again, not going to end well if I’m content with the status quo.

It’s ultimately been a very deep and soul-searching sort of few days in my life. In so doing, I’ve also decided to get real with God, and with myself. I’ve chosen to make much different choices, to take proactive steps instead of sitting by, idle, expecting things to change on their own. And, I have to say, much of this was sparked by a conversation we had last week with someone unafraid to speak the truth, but in love. It made sense, and God touched my heart. It made me realize that I live much of my life for myself. Yes, I care and act on behalf of my friends and family, but I allow my own personal struggles and drama get in the way of doing the things I know need to be done. I’ve also made some changes with what I eat, and how active I am. Again, I can only affect the things within my power to do so – but I CAN affect those things. God gives us free will, but again, it is that free will that will either set us free and help us grow, or smother us and keep us trapped.

I can only pray that God use it to touch others, and help them come to know Him in a more real way – to also know they aren’t alone, etc. Something just happened, that light went on in my head, and some sort of switch flipped…and I see things in very much a different light.

If you find yourself relating to any of these areas of life, please know – you are not alone in your thoughts or struggles. Never give up hope – look to God as your source….knowing that He will not let you down. He created you, and He knows exactly how to take care of you, and every situation you might face.

My Thoughts On Christmas Eve

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This morning, I was on Facebook and, where you can update you status, it asked what was on my mind. As My response, I said the following:

What’s on my mind, Facebook? Well, since you asked…on my mind are many things.

I’m quietly remembering that today would have been my grandmother’s birthday. Even though she went to Heaven over a decade ago, I still miss her very much and cherish all the moments and time we did have together.

I’m also thinking about the other side of the family. I’m thinking about my grandmother, as she is celebrating several “firsts” without my granddaddy (her husband of 67 years) by her side. This is the first Christmas he won’t be there. I miss him also very much. Praying God’s loving arms hold and comfort her (and all who are missing him) today and always.

Today I’m also thinking about my friend Andrea who said goodbye to her precious Jonathan at this time last year. I’m praying for her entire family as they remember his short but beautifully meaningful life. May God’s arms of comfort surround them always.

More than all this, though, I’m thinking of another little baby – who would grow to be a Savior – the one who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords…the one the Christmas season is all about -Jesus…thinking of Him and His crazy, undying love for each and every one of us – no strings attached. Just love.

So, with that, I want to wish you all a very blessed Christmas, and a happy New Year. May 2013 be a year of blessing, and may each and every one of you see God’s hand in your life in a very real way.

If you are hurting or struggling this season, please know two things -you are not alone, and I’d be happy to talk, listen, and ultimately to pray for you. Feel free to post in comments, or to message me directly. Smile, friends – you are loved.

As I mentioned, this season can be an amazing and joyful time of the year. However, for many, it can be heartbreaking. On this Christmas Eve, the above are some of the thoughts that are in my head with specifics to this day. In the midst of any heartache, any situation or any turmoil – one thing remains constant…the little baby who grew be the King of Kings, the Lord of lords, and the Savior of all mankind. He is the constant. His love permeates each and every heartbreaking situation you or I may remember or find ourselves facing. Look to Him, knowing you are not alone.

I would like to extend the same thoughts I did earlier on Facebook. If you are celebrating, hurting, joyful or sad – I’d love to talk, listen and hear your story. If you are celebrating and want to share, awesome. If you are mourning and missing someone, not awesome – but, in either scenario, I’d love the opportunity to laugh or cry with you, but more than that – to pray for you. You, my friend, are loved.