Category Archives: Forgiveness

Worship Wednesday – We Who Are Forgiven ….Forgive – David Crowder & Matthew West

[Revisiting Worship Wednesday – The Forgiven Forgive – David Crowder & Matthew West – Deb Mills – Checking my heart.]

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.” He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  –                 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”Matthew 6:12

Early in Jesus’ earthly ministry, he preached out on a hillside to a great throng of people. This Sermon on the Mount set in motion the public teaching of Christ. In it, he focused on the hearts of men and women rather than on the religious law.

Toward the end of this sermon, he taught those in hearing how to pray. Within this beautiful prayer is the verse above:

“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

In this short verse, we hear both our need for God’s forgiveness as well as our need to forgive others.

To know the life-giving and eternity-saving forgiveness of Christ, we need to reckon with our own sinfulness. Yet, we are blinded to our need for Him by our disposition toward holding others’ sins against them. We can’t see our own need for forgiveness because our eyes, minds, and hearts are full of contempt for those we think need ours.

What a terrible and terrifying cost – to miss Jesus because we can’t forgive someone else. God have mercy!

This side of Heaven, we reckon with the presence of sin in our hearts and in that of others. It is a part of life in this fallen world. Just as we seek God’s face daily in confession and repentance, rejoicing in forgiveness, we have His grace and power to do the same for those around us.

Photo Credit: C. S. Lewis, AZ Quotes

Forgiveness…such a lovely experience, for sure. We LOVE being forgiven. Forgiving others is the tricky part.Photo Credit: C. S. Lewis, Twitter

All my life, I have heard how essential it is to forgive:

  • “Keep short accounts.” – my mama
  • “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Lewis B. Smedes
  • “Don’t retry people in the court of your emotions.” – Tom Elliff
  • “As long as you don’t forgive, who and whatever it is will occupy a rent-free space in your mind.” – Isabelle Holland

Christ Jesus, in the Lord’s Prayer calls us to ask God’s forgiveness for the debt of sin we owe and are unable to pay (thus needing Jesus as Savior). We ask God’s forgiveness as we forgive others – even if we are determined they owe us something (thus the word debts/debtors).

Seeking forgiveness for ourselves and forgiving others are high priority to God. They both relate to keeping our hearts pure before the Lord, keeping us from having a seared conscience, and acting for the sake of our brother/sister, restoring our fellowship with him/her (unity).

It is urgent that we ask for forgiveness and take action to forgive. Right away.

If we have sinned against another, leave our gift and go ask forgiveness.Matthew 5:23-24, also Mark 11:25

Leave Your Gift and Go – Life Action

As soon as we sense, or hear, or are made aware that we have sinned against someone, we need to move to make it right. Quickly. There is much at stake: our right relationship with that person, and guarding our own hearts from apathy, self-justification, or blame shifting. In other words, sin heaped upon sin. When we remember how much God has forgiven us, we are tuned into the destructive nature of sin on ourselves and others.

Then, on the flip side, if someone has sinned against us, go to him and seek peace…be reconciled. – from Matthew 18:15-17

What To Do If Someone Sins Against You: the Teaching of Jesus – Mark D. Roberts

Forgiveness is not a work by which we earn God’s forgiveness. It flows from a heart satisfied with the mercy of God and rejoicing in the cancellation of our own ten million dollar debt (Matthew 18:24). With man it is impossible, but not with God. – John Piper

Forgive Us Our What? Three Ways to Say the Lord’s Prayer – Jon Bloom

If I Fail to Forgive Others, Will God Not Forgive Me? – John Piper

It is not easy to forgive always. Some wounds are deep and reopened often. God makes a way. We cling to Him and to the amazing grace we have because of His forgiveness. Our emotions may lag behind and may take time, but we can forgive in an instant. Mark it down and remember it to God, ourselves, and (when necessary) the Evil One who accuses. We can forgive in an instant, and healing begins.

Two songs come to mind in thinking about our hearts toward forgiveness. David Crowder’s Forgiven and Matthew West’s Forgiveness. They both take us to the very teaching of Christ – how much our sin separated us from God – and how we who are forgiven from our burden of sin will never want to hold onto the sin of unforgiveness. The forgiven forgive.

Worship with me with the help of these two songs pointing us to a heart of forgiveness, a heart bent toward God. A heart He tenders toward those who need forgiveness, too.

“The Christian is to proclaim and initiate an irreconcilable war against his choice sins.”William Gurnall

Heavenly Father, thank You for this pattern of prayer that Jesus taught. Give me a gentle spirit and help me to be quick to forgive all those who have hurt or abused me… knowing that for Christ’s sake I have been forgiven of so much. I pray that I may maintain close fellowship with You, and be swift to forgive those who sin against me – in Jesus name, AMEN.” – Daily Verse

YouTube Video – Story Behind the Song “Forgiven”

Worship Wednesday – The Forgiven Forgive – David Crowder & Matthew West – Deb Mills

Precept Austin – Exhaustive study of Matthew 6:11-12

Forgiven to Forgive – Allen Webster

Forgiveness – First Presbyterian Church, Yorktown, NY

Photo Credit: FBC Yorktown, NY

Monday Morning Moment – In or Out – Your Choice, but You DO Choose

Photo Credit: Corinne Dobbas

A friend of mine lamented this morning that someone in her family unfriended her on Facebook. Painful. I get it. Been there.

We make choices every day to lean in or pull out. Some of these choices have little consequence. Others break hearts or turn them into concrete. Taking ourselves out of others’ lives has consequence.

Father’s Day is coming and it has become a complicated holiday for me. I had a distant birth father and a great step-dad – both gone. My husband is a good father. My son and son-in-law as well. What complicates it is when things with fathers aren’t so good. This Father’s Day marks two years of a painful extended family rift. The pain of that has wide circles reverberating throughout. Everyone hurts for those hurt the most. Do we just ignore it or take sides? That would be choosing the “out” option. Or do we choose to stay in – refusing to leave the room (or either room since there are two now), praying for wholeness and healing, and fiercely fighting for our family?

I choose the latter for as long as I’m allowed to do so.

To be honest, whether it is family/friend conflict, or political, social or theological division – we choose where we stand. We choose to set up camp in a tight zone of comfort with those like us, or we choose to battle for those in harm’s way…including ourselves.

Maybe it’s always been this way, but today, for sure, we must be on watch of being deceived by popular opinion. It is not unifying. A choice is required. To think we don’t have to choose is its own delusion.

We’re either in…or we’re out.

“We all, like Frodo, carry a Quest, a Task: our daily duties. They come to us, not from us. We are free only to accept or refuse our task- and, implicitly, our Taskmaster. None of us is a free creator or designer of his own life. “None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself” (Romans 14:7). Either God, or fate, or meaningless chance has laid upon each of us a Task, a Quest, which we would not have chosen for ourselves. We are all Hobbits who love our Shire, or security, our creature comforts, whether these are pipeweed, mushrooms, five meals a day, and local gossip, or Starbucks coffees, recreational sex, and politics. But something, some authority not named in The Lord of the Rings (but named in the Silmarillion), has decreed that a Quest should interrupt this delightful Epicurean garden and send us on an odyssey. We are plucked out of our Hobbit holes and plunked down onto a Road.Peter Creeft
Now, we can scramble back into the “shire” of our own choosing. Life is so much grander than that. Being an avid book person and homebody myself, I can easily snuggle down into a self-made and self-soothing burrow. This is my daily battle of thinking I am “in the world but not of the world”.
When we are physically (emotionally) absent in real life, we are choosing “out”, not “in”. That real life includes work, family, neighborhood, and some semblance of the world…which means choosing to be in with some we would NOT have chosen to be in with. Am I wrong here? Please talk to me in the Comments below.
“Reading a book about something can be an obstacle to doing it because it gives you the impression that you are doing what you are only thinking about doing. It is tempting to remain in the comfortable theater of our imagination instead of the real world, to fall in love with the idea of becoming a saint and loving God and neighbor instead of doing the actual work, because the idea makes no demands on you. It is like a book on a shelf. But, as Dostoyevsky says, ‘love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams’ (The Brothers Karamazov).”Peter Creeft
This choosing “in” even when it’s uncomfortable may actually be the road chosen for us. The choosing “out” dulls us to what could actually happen with {God and] us in the formula.
“This [the choosing out] is where our culture has evolved and I say reject it!”Angela
As these thoughts were cooking in my head, I came across the YouTube video below by Catholic priest Father Mike. It relates to a question he received on whether Judas Iscariot was in Heaven or Hell. Judas was the one who betrayed Jesus to the authorities who had him crucified. Later Judas would hang himself. Beyond that topic, Father Mike talked about our choices and how they affect both life and after-life.
“In light of heaven, the worst suffering on earth will be seen to be no more serious than one night in an inconvenient hotel.”St. Teresa of Avila
Photo Credit: Heartlight
We make choices all day long. Choosing how we spend our time, whose lives we lean into, and what we teach our children (by attitude and action) – all those choices have an “in or out” component. The quote above speaks to these choices. If we live for this world, our default is to hold tightly to our choices. However, if we live for the next, we can open our hands, and lean in. This life, no matter how hard, compared with Heaven, is like “one night in a bad hotel”. At its worst!
Perspective.
It’s our choice. In or out.

Worship Wednesday – “But God” – How Beautiful – Twila Paris

Photo Credit: Zelite

[Adapted from the Archives]

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved.Ephesians 2:4-5

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Romans 12:9-10

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.1 John 3:16

“A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.Genesis 50:20

Life is full of consequence. We are often initiators, of either good or evil. People see Christ in us…or something very different…dark even.

News cycles are short, and I’m not going to be specific here, because by next week we will be on to something different. However, I will say this: the church is under fire. When some, in the church, choose to live in ways that show dishonor to Christ or one another, then no wonder. The evil one never tires of working to destroy us, our character, our influence, and our witness.

The good and glorious God we know loves His church. We do not see always ourselves as the radiant Bride for whom Christ died. In fact, we too often find ourselves tarnished by following after the world and “the sin that so easily entangles us”. Still, the Lord waits for us…as we make ourselves ready for that day (Revelation 19:7-8).

How ever we see ourselves now…whatever we must do to stay the course or correct course…God calls us to see as He sees. He sees His church with eyes of love. He knows our frame. He knows the battles. He is with us and will fight those battles for us, as we stay close to Him and side by side with each other.

As for the current news cycle…where the church seems to chase after things not of the Lord or hide behind a facade rather than truth, we have two options: Love and lift it or leave it altogether. The last option is not a long-term option…long eventually becomes forever.

What will it really take for things to get better? What actions can right the wrongs and bridge the divisions? The words blasting through our news outlets seem more hurtful than healing. We as the church are wrestling with what to say…what to do. I have found that so puzzling given how the Lord has told us how to live and how to love…but we seem challenged especially in the dark dilemmas of our lives and times.

 

Photo Credit: Michael Catt, Twitter

We have a beautiful Savior who showed us how to really love each other. Words only (just talking about our differences or doling out our opinions) do not take us to the cross…or to the grave.

Our Savior held nothing back. Maybe we don’t know what that means for us in particular…but we know where to start.

We start with receiving the love Christ has given us, every one of us. We receive from His heart…from His hands. Then we reflect his heart and become His hands for one another. He loves…we love. He serves…we serve.

He has given us a way forward…ours is to take that path.

Worship with me…to this song by Twila Paris on the beauty of Christ and the beauty of His church – How Beautiful – [and then scroll down for a quick story at the end] –

How Beautiful the hands that served
The Wine and the Bread and the sons of the earth
How beautiful the feet that walked
The long dusty roads and the hill to the cross
How Beautiful, how beautiful, how beautiful is the body of Christ

How Beautiful the heart that bled
That took all my sin and bore it instead
How beautiful the tender eyes
That choose to forgive and never despise
How beautiful, how beautiful, how beautiful is the body of Christ

And as He lay down His life
We offer this sacrifice
That we will live just as He died
Willing to pay the price
Willing to pay the price

How Beautiful the radiant bride
Who waits for her Groom with His light in her eyes
How Beautiful when humble hearts give
The fruit of pure lives so that others may live
How beautiful, how beautiful, how beautiful is the Body of Christ

How beautiful the feet that bring
The sound of good news and the love of the King
How Beautiful the hands that serve
The wine and the bread and the sons of the Earth
How Beautiful, how beautiful, how beautiful is the Body of Christ*

Photo Credit: QuotesLyfe

Someone very dear to us had a medical need recently that would require everything he had in savings and then some. It had already been a challenging year for him, but life happens like that at times. A friend of his with whom he/we attended church years ago had this great idea to do a GoFundMe appeal. The donors who showed up to help him (both on GoFundMe and privately) were so kind and generous. His words: “Very generous and unexpected”. Most were believers. The church he is now most closely associated with also gave a large donation….but GOD. This meant so much for one who could easily have been discouraged by this next hard thing.

How Beautiful!

*Lyrics to How Beautiful – Twila Paris

YouTube Video – How Beautiful – Twila Paris (talks about the song before she sings it) 1994

Worship Wednesday – When We Love Like Jesus – How Beautiful – Twila Paris – Deb Mills

But God – Jon Bloom – Desiring God

31 But God Bible Verses – Lisa Appelo – and 32 But the Lord Bible Verses – Lisa Appelo

YouTube Video – Rev. H. B. Charles, Jr. – “But God” – sermon. Don’t miss it!

Worship Wednesday – Remember – Maverick City Music x UPPER ROOM

Photo Credit: Heartlight, Jeremy Taylor

From the mouths of children and infants You have ordained praise on account of Your adversaries, to silence the enemy and avenger. When I behold Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place – what is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You care for him?Psalm 8:2-4

Let’s just start right here. It’s been difficult for me to write a Worship Wednesday this week because the news has been so distracting and demoralizing, even defeating at times.

How do we let that happen? Given the God we know who also knows us (1 Corinthians 8:3). Nothing in our world right now is a surprise to Him. Is He angry at how sin is abounding? Absolutely. A pure and measured anger. An anger that accompanies His perfect compassion for the suffering of His children.

Gentle and Lowly – the Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers – Dane Ortlund – highly recommend this for our comfort in knowing Jesus

In this season of distress, our own compassion is matched by our accompanying anger at the wrongs around us. Our attention is drawn to what’s seen and we forget the glorious unseen.

Author, pastor Tim Keller‘s tweet helped me clear my head.

Photo Credit: Twitter –  @timkellernyc

Oh Lord, help us remember You. You are near and You are wholly and perfectly feeling the pain this world is experiencing. Your plan is in motion…whether we see it or not. You are moving in our lives today. We do not need to fear. Our eyes are on You right now.

Maverick City + UPPER ROOM‘s song Remember applies well to these moments of upheaval and struggle. It reflects Jesus’ command to remember Him through the Lord’s Supper and takes it farther to a daily sacrifice of praise. What He did for us we could not do for ourselves or each other. The Lord Jesus is still our advocate and intercessor. Hallelujah!

Photo Credit: Timothy Keller, Quote Fancy, Get Wallpapers

Worship and remember with me.

We see You on the cross
And You’re beautiful, God
The blood speaks a better word, yeah

The bread, Your body
The wine, Your blood
Sweet communion
You set a table for us
The crucified Jesus
No greater love
Than the bread, Your body
Than the wine, Your blood

Oh-oh, we will remember
Oh-oh, Jesus, our Savior
Oh, just to know You in Your suffering
Just to get me closer than I’ve ever been
Oh-oh, we will remember
Yes, we will, yes, we will
Yeah

The holes in Your hands
And the wounds in Your side
Thirty-nine lashes
Brought me back to life
And before resurrection
There was a grave
In hell, there was a battle
And my life was saved

Oh-oh, we will remember
Oh-oh, Jesus, our Savior
Oh, just to know You in Your suffering
Just to get me closer than I’ve ever been
Oh-oh, we will remember

Yes, we will, yes, we will (Hey)
Oh, we can see it now
And we can see how (Mmm, yeah)
Oh, Your blood made a way
Your blood made a way
Hey, hey

And this is our Savior
Look at Him, look at Him
This is our Savior
Look at Him, look at Him
This is our Savior
Look at Him, look at Him
This is our Savior
Look at Him, look at Him
Our Christ Redeemer
Look at Him, look at Him
Our Christ Redeemer
Look at Him, would you just look at Him? Look at Him
Our Christ Redeemer
Look at Him, would you look at Him?
Our Christ Redeemer
Look at Him

And oh-oh, we will remember
Oh-oh, Jesus, our Savior
Oh, just to know You in Your suffering
Just to get me closer than I’ve ever been
Oh-oh, we will remember

This is our Savior
Look at Him, look at Him
This is our Savior
Look at Him, would you just look at Him? Look at Him
This is our Savior
Look at Him, look at Him
This is our Savior
Look at Him, would you just look at Him?
Oh, our Christ Redeemer
Look at Him, won’t you look at Him?
Oh, our Christ Redeemer
Look at Him (Look at Him)
Our Christ Redeemer
Look at Him, look at Him
Our Christ Redeemer
Look at Him (Look at Him), oh (Hey)

Would you just look at Him? Look at Him
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him (Look at Him, look at Him)
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him (Look at Him, look at Him)
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him (His eyes like fire)
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him (His hair like wool)
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him (His feet like brass)
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him (He’s beautiful)
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him (His eyes like fire)
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him (His hair like wool)
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him (His feet like brass)
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him (He’s beautiful)
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him, oh

Oh-oh, we will remember (Oh, hey)
Oh-oh, Jesus, our Savior
Oh, just to know You in Your suffering
Just to get me closer than I’ve ever been
Oh-oh, hey, we will remember

And how could we forget?
After what we’ve experienced
Oh, it’s unforgettable (Woo)
It’s unforgettable
Oh, how we could forget? (Look at Him)
After what we experienced
Oh, up from the muck and the miry clay
He lifted me (He lifted me)
Up from the muck and the miry clay
He lifted me (He lifted me)
Oh, I remember, I won’t forget
How He took my life from the pit (Hey)
I remember, I won’t forget
How He took my life from the pit, oh
We remember, we won’t forget (Yeah, yeah)
How You took our lives from the pit
We remember, we won’t forget
Look at where we are now
Look at where we were back then
We remember, we won’t forget
How You took our life from the pit (Hey)
Oh, we remember, we won’t forget
Look at where I am now
Look at where I was back then
We remember, we won’t forget
How You took our life from the pit (Yeah)
We remember, we won’t forget
Look at where I am now
Look at where I was back then
We remember, we won’t forget
How You took our lives (From the pit), hey
We remember, we won’t forget
(Look at where we are now)
Lift your voice, lift your voice

Oh-oh, we will remember
Oh-oh, Jesus, our Savior (Oh, just to know you)
Oh, just to know You in Your suffering
Just to get me closer than I’ve ever been
Oh-oh, we will remember

Oh-oh, we will remember
Oh-oh, Jesus, our Savior
Oh, just to know You in Your suffering
Just to get me closer than I’ve ever been
Oh-oh, we will remember*

We are far from unmoved by the news of the day – war, wildfires, abortion battles, soaring prices, drug deaths, and racial divides. Yet, in the midst of being the church in these situations, we turn our eyes to Jesus, fix them on Him…and remember.

*Lyrics to Remember by Maverick City x Upper Room

YouTube Video – Remember (Shortened Version) – Lyric Video

Photo Credit: Timothy Keller, Quote Fancy

Photo Credit: Heartlight, C. S. Lewis

Worship Wednesday – What If – Matthew West with Lathan Warlick

Photo Credit: Heartlight, Jeremy Taylor

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.Psalm 90:12

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business, and make a profit.” You do not even know what will happen tomorrow! What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.James 4:14

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.Deuteronomy 6:6-7

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.2 Peter 1:3

The older we get the less surprised we are by the brevity of life.

Heaven keeps getting sweeter as more and more of our loves exit this crazy world. However, as much as we look forward to seeing Jesus, we want to stretch our days out with the joys of this life. Family, friends, our work and art, the every day splendors of life.

As we turn our thoughts to the day-to-day, we can shrink our view of forever. We soak up the sweet moments with our grandchildren and the beauty that surrounds us…even in a world scorched by war. Most of us live outside of the hard of that reality and can turn our thoughts to tending our yards and finding deals for family vacations.

Those are good things.

The dilemma is when good overrules what God is up to in our lives. God is about revealing Himself through us to a world that desperately needs Him…and we receive back the joy of being part of that loving, comforting, healing work.

The thing we face each day is whether we are willing to be part of that. God’s ways are higher than ours but are also scarier as well. But oh so satisfying!

I’ve lost four days this week to a cold. Just no energy added to complete brain fog. The keeping company with the couch was about the best I could do. Then hearing the song “What If” coincided with my day of starting to feel better. Joy!! That I have today to follow God.

It’s all we ever have, for sure. Today.

The official video of “What If” shows a series of family events around singer, songwriter’s Matthew West‘s birthday (with a little surprise ending). Fun times. Making memories. Going after experiences over material gifts. All the sorts of things that are large in our culture right now.

Larger still is the deeper meaning of West’ song. He is definitely communicating to be intentional about life, being that it is but a vapor. As video spells out, we squeeze all the good we can out of life, but that “good” is far more than just trips of a lifetime or every fun memory we can give our children.

If we’re hoping to orchestrate the “best version of our lives“, we have all we need…today…for that to happen.…as God defines it. His idea of that is so much larger than we imagine for ourselves. To bear witness to Him, to reflect the love of Jesus, to display joy, to give hope, to make a difference, to stand in the gap, to repair the breach.

Matthew West has given us many empowering songs including “Do Something”, “Forgiveness”, “Look What You’ve Done”, and “I’m Not Strong Enough” – all of which I’ve written about and taken hope from.

West talks about the story behind the song “What If”:

“You should do one thing a day that scares you…What if is a life-defining question. What if I made a change that I know I need to make, what if I sought help for an area of my life where I’m struggling, what if I stepped out and lived boldly for Christ, what if I stepped into the fullness of God’s plan for my life?  Or you can wait until the story is all but written, then you’re answering the question in the past tense. I want to answer that question now. While I still have a chance to change the things that can change. I don’t want to be answering the ‘what if” question when it’s all too late. Then it’s just about regret. I want to look back and know that I have no regrets. John 10:10 –Jesus said “I’ve come that they may have life and have it to the full”. The time is now. Live like today is the only day you’ve got. For the best version of your life, answer that “what if” question now.”Matthew West

What scary thing might God be calling you to endeavor today? He is with you. He is always with you. West reminds us to live today like it’s our last. A good word.

I’ve had a few regrets in my life…not so many because Mom taught us to keep short accounts with God and people. Asking for forgiveness and forgiving others are two parts of that. As much as it is possible, live at peace with all men (women). No grudges. No regrets. It is a daily battle, but one filled with God’s purposes and promises, as we keep our minds on Him.

Keeping Short Accounts with God – Jonathan Kirby

Worship with me to West’s song “What If” featuring artist Lathan Warlick:

I’ve heard ’em say before to live just like you’re dying, yeah
Wish I could say that’s how I am but I been lying, yeah
Lying in my bed at night, and one too many times I’m thinking
What if, what if
My biggest fear is waking up to find what matters
Is miles away from what I spent my life chasing after
Is my story gonna have the same two words in every chapter?
What if, what if

But last I checked this heart
Inside my chest is still beating
Well, I guess it’s not too late

What if today’s the only day I got?
I don’t wanna waste it if it’s my last shot
No regrets in the end
I wanna know I got no what ifs
I’m running till the road runs out
I’m lighting it up right here right now
No regrets in the end
I wanna know I got no what ifs, yeah

See, I refuse to be a shoulda woulda coulda been
I can’t go back in time, I don’t have a DeLorean
What I’m trying to say is I don’t wanna say these words again
What if, what if

But last I checked this heart
Inside my chest is still beating
Well, I guess it’s not too late, no no

What if today’s the only day I got?
I don’t wanna waste it if it’s my last shot
No regrets in the end
I wanna know I got no what ifs
I’m running till the road runs out
I’m lighting it up right here right now
No regrets in the end (yeah)
I wanna know I got no what ifs (no what ifs)

I can see the clock is ticking and I’m tired of wasting my time
I’ma do it for today, so if tomorrow come, then I’m fine
Yeah, I’m far from perfect, I’ll be asking God to keep me in mind
And this life is shorter than we think, it’s really passing us by
I can’t be taking what’s going on for granted and when it get hard you won’t see me panic
Went through the storm and came out with scars but you don’t see me with no permanent damage
Yeah, this life is like a vapor, so go ahead and take advantage
Of what’s going on now, while you still got time to manage, yeah

‘Cause what if today’s the only day I got? (I’ve got it, got it)
I don’t wanna waste it (haha) if it’s my last shot (let’s go)
No regrets (no) in the end (in the end)
I wanna know I got no what ifs (I got no what ifs)
I’m running till the road runs out (whoa)
I’m lighting it up right (ah) here right now (yeah)
No regrets (no regrets) in the end (in the end)
I wanna know I got no what ifs (no what ifs, let’s go)

I wanna know I got no what ifs (no what ifs)
I wanna know I got no what ifs (no what ifs)*

*Lyrics to What If (Songwriters: AJ Pruis, Matthew West, Ran Jackson)

What If Bible Reading Plan – Matthew West

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Worship Wednesday – The Commission – Cain the Band

Photo Credit: Daily Verses

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:18-20

When good news shakes up and transforms our very lives, we don’t keep it to ourselves. We can’t. In fact, in his last conversation with his disciples, the Messiah Jesus speaks of this in commanding terms.

The occasion for his words in the Gospel of Matthew was a gathering of Jesus’ followers with him. They were filled with both the comfort and joy of having come through His unwarranted death on a Roman cross and then having witnessed His resurrection from the dead. Nothing could keep Jesus in the grave. Nothing.

He took our sins to the cross. He died in our place. He gave himself for our sake that we could know His abundant life on earth and be with the Lord forever in Heaven.

In his commissioning (Matthew 28:18-20), he spoke to his followers but the words ring through the centuries to all of us and to those who come after us. Only he had the authority to speak them and to send us out. His authority came from the Father, we can speak the good news of Christ through his authority and the power of the Holy Spirit. He goes with us and is with us always.

So what is our commission?

  • Go – to our children, our larger families, our friends, our neighbors, our workplace, the marketplace, the world.
  • Make disciples – not by any coercion or bait-and-switch strategy. We live Christ before others and we speak the words of Christ to those he places in our path. We are not Christian from birth (as some think about Christians). We are also not saved by manipulation or parental persuasion. We are saved by reckoning with our sinful state and need for a savior. The Lord saves; we cannot save ourselves. “Making disciples” is to lay out the truth of our own experience in received salvation from Christ and inviting others to receive the same. It is not the Lord’s desire for anyone to die without an opportunity to come to faith in him (2 Peter 3:9). He has commissioned us to bring about that opportunity.
  • Baptize – in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus himself was baptized, (without need but as a witness for what he calls us to do). It is a public pronouncement of our faith in the sufficiency of Christ and our decision to follow him.
  • Teaching to obey. Obedience to Christ is not a peevish, demeaning thing. It is a beautiful alignment with all his promises, with all of who he is, and with all the good he brings out of our obedience – not just for ourselves but with a wide and generational ripple effect.

And that glorious promise: He is with us always. Glory!

[A note from my mom when we took a job outside the U.S. – she was a great pray-er.]

Have you received this Christ as your savior? Not an acknowledging of a form of Christ made popular across religions…but the One true God (three in one, in perfect unity). Not a “hope to get to Heaven” ticket…but through a personal relationship where God the Father sees us as we were meant to be – pure and beautiful sons and daughters, transformed by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Salvation – Explore God

For those of us who have experienced this incredible, undeserved, God-given adoption into his kingdom, we have our commission.

Worship with me (lyrics/music in the link).

See my hands and look at my feet
It’s okay if it’s hard to believe
I have faith that you will do greater things
It’s my time to go, but before I leave
Go tell the world about me
I was dead but now I live
I’ve gotta go now for a little while
But goodbye is not the end
Don’t forget the things that I taught you
I’ve conquered death and I hold the keys
Where I go you will go too someday
But there’s much to do here before you leave so
Go tell the world about me
I was dead but now I live
I’ve gotta go now for a little while
But goodbye is not the
End of the journey
The end of the road
My spirit is with you
Wherever you go
You have a purpose
And I have a plan
I’ll make you this promise
I’ll come back again
But until then
Go tell the world about me
For I was dead but now I live
Oh, I’ve gotta go now for a little while
Hey, but goodbye is not the end(Go tell the world)
Oh, go tell them about me
(Go tell the world)
I’ve gotta go
(Go tell the world)
For a little while
But goodbye is not the end*

*Lyrics to The Commission

YouTube – The Story Behind the Song The Commission by Cain

Cain the Band Website

YouTube – I Am with You Always: Matthew 28:18-20 – Desiring God – John Piper

Monday Morning Moment – Generational Sin and Trauma – Don’t Trip Over What’s Behind You

Photo Credit: Seneca, Facebook, Natural Life

My maternal grandfather was a drunk. When he wasn’t withdrawn, walking trails in the woods, he could be mean to both his wife and his five children. How he and my grandmother, a pampered and passive woman, came to be married, I didn’t think to ask. Nor did I ask them or my mom about their childhoods.

My mom was an elegant woman. Beautiful, generous, selfless. She took the brunt of her father’s rages – standing between him and her mother or him and her two younger brothers. The two older brothers left home as soon as they could lie about their ages to join the military.

How she and my biological father married was less a mystery. He was her way out of a hard life at home. Then it would turn out that although there was not so much violence in our childhood home, there was neglect. He wasn’t a drunk but he never cared to work. When Mom finally divorced him, her heart had become so wounded and weary, it was a matter of just having one less mouth to feed.

Mom would later marry my step-dad who was a sweet daddy to me. He was harder on my brothers…and on his own kids from his first marriage. It made me sad and a little frightened, especially for my older brother. He was old enough to have seen our grandfather drunk; he knew the dismissive behavior of our biological father; he felt the anger of our step-father. My younger brothers and I missed a lot of that.

Divorce and its fallout became something I would determine to avoid…even if it meant not marrying at all.

I did marry, and a wonderful man. We are very different from each other. We have different struggles and different childhood experiences. However, from the beginning, we shared the personal experience of the nurturing love of parents, faithful to God and each other. This has been a strong foundation for us to learn to love well and parent well (hopefully). It is not the whole of it though.

In all of this, there is still the puzzling over what we bring to our marriage from past generations…and what will we transmit to our children?

Looking into our pasts isn’t always inviting. Some prefer to “let sleeping dogs lie”. I’m learning that our past informs our future; in fact, our past can predict or prescribe our future. It seems wisdom then to examine what we can of our past, and that of parents and grandparents.

Not to blame. Not to lay responsibility for some present lack in ourselves. We all make mistakes as parents even when we deeply love our children. The look back is to help us to heal any harm and to guard from bringing past hurts to our children…without thinking… without intending.

When our parents experience trauma in childhood – or endure the consequence of sin from a parent – they carry that into adulthood and potentially will transmit it to their own children. Not all survivors of adverse childhood experiences will follow this cycle, but it’s rare to avoid altogether.

My mom was very intentional in showing us love after experiencing so little in her childhood home. She did bring some of her trauma forward and we experienced it…without her meaning for us to. I remember trying, from an early age, to be as good as I could be for my mom…and failing. She had tried to do the same as well, in her growing up years…but with harsher consequences than I had.

“The child speaks what their parents could not. He or she recognizes how their own experience has been authored, how one has been authorized, if unconsciously, to carry their parent’s injury into the future.”Molly Castelloe, How Trauma Is Carried Across Generations

Photo Credit: Twitter

Have you discovered areas in your own life that if left unattended will transmit to your children’s lives? Fears, self-worth issues, anger, negativity, anxiety, perfectionism, sadness…or sin of all kinds that we have harbored (and maybe witnessed in our childhood). We can change the future, with God’s help, but taking a good long look at our past. Asking questions and considering what consequences are playing out in our current lives and our children’s.

We can break the cycle of generational trauma or sin, but it requires relentless intentionality on the parents’ part. Both for our own healing and for our children’s health. I didn’t want my children to be afraid or unsure of how valued they were. I wanted them to always know the experience of being safe, seen, soothed, and secure. Was I successful…not always…in fact, I was unaware of how generational sin clung to me. I didn’t have words for it like now.

The Adam Young Counseling podcast has been a tremendous help to me in looking at childhood trauma and generational sin. He gives practical and reasoned helps in how to heal from our own trauma as well as how to curtail the repeat of generational sin in our children’s lives.

What are your thoughts? Please add to Comments. May God help us all to be blessings (and not cursings) to our children and to theirs.

What Is Generational Trauma and Is It in the Bible? – Ashley Hooker

The Sins of the Fathers Visited Upon the Children – S. Conway

What Are “Sins of the Father”? Understanding Generational Consequences – Michael A. Milton

YouTube Video – Generational Sin + Trauma – Gospel Care Class

Worship Wednesday – In Christ We Can Have Peace – No Matter the Trauma

Photo Credit: Daily Bible Verse

Today is Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent. This 40-day commemoration is meant for us as Christians to look squarely at our sin before a holy God. We are to reflect on what He did, through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ to redeem us from that sin. Forgiveness is a huge theme of Lent, as we examine our hearts and deal with areas where we need forgiveness from God.

Worship Wednesday – Ash Wednesday – the 40-Day Lenten Road to Easter – Deb Mills

When we look at where we have done wrong, parallel to that is the reckoning with the wrong done to us by others. We ask forgiveness of God, we seek to forgive those who’ve wronged us, and we humble ourselves before those we’ve hurt, asking their forgiveness.

All this forgiveness talk! Asking for it, giving it, receiving it…and yet the key to it all for us is the tiny phrase Jesus spoke (John 16:33) “in Me”.

When we are so disturbed by the trauma we have experienced…or the trauma we have caused, our troubled thoughts stay focused on that wrong. That undoneness…that sense of hopelessness that it will ever be healed…that dark place in our minds we can’t seem to climb out. However…

He gives us a way forward through His very presence with us. Trauma isn’t easily remedied, but it can be got through, so to speak, as we tune our thoughts and turn our eyes onto Jesus.

A podcast I just listened to this week really spoke to my heart of the beauty displayed in the person of Christ. [Creating Beauty in the Bomb Shelters of Our Lives – Being Known Podcast – Season 4, Episode 1]. In the face of trauma, we too often forget His love and His presence with us. In the podcast, Christian psychiatrist Dr. Curt Thompson gives practical helps (writing our story, talking about our trauma with a person we trust, learning how we to take our trauma to God).

The biggest takeaway goes back to the phrase “in Me” – in Christ. We are truly known and loved by Jesus…our life, our being, all of who we are is settled in Him. We can have courage. We can have peace.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my older brother lately. He died at 61. When our parents divorced, he was old enough to have experienced the rupture of that relationship as well as the knowledge our dad (biological father) just didn’t care enough for us…he just didn’t care. I can only imagine how that haunted my brother growing up. What trauma my big brother would experience in life…some self-imposed… I wish I had tuned in better earlier… My peace and comfort about him and what he went through in life rest on the trust that he is now with Christ, in Heaven. The troubles of this life are forever behind him.

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Worship Wednesday – God’s Perfect Peace – Like a River Glorious – by Frances Havergal – Deb Mills

For today…on this Worship Wednesday…this Ash Wednesday, let’s focus on the hope we have, even in trauma…

In Him…in Jesus:

He is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see, to him be honor and eternal power. Amen.1 Timothy 6:15b-16

When we pull away from the noise of this troubled world and the dark thoughts of trauma, and draw near to the true Christ, our minds are renewed. The joy of being known and loved by such a God diminishes those things that hold us in bondage. Take heart, Dear One.

Listen below to the amazing 5 minute description the late Pastor S. M. Lockridge gives of our Lord Jesus…and take courage.

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Lenten Devotional – 40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Preparing for Easter – 50 Devotional Readings from C. S. Lewis

2022 Lent Project – Biola University – Center for Christianity, Culture, and the Arts

Sunday Grace – A Valentine’s Day Reflection on the Deep, Deep Love of God – Deb Mills

5 Friday Faves – Beyond the Guitar’s Latest, Parenting Pearls, Aging Well, Words, and War

Quick take on favorites of mine over the last couple of weeks:

1) Beyond the Guitar’s Latest – Enjoy!

2) Parenting Pearls – So thankful for wisdom of others…especially in parenting and raising children to be mentally healthy and resilient. How other cultures parent is also intriguing. Below are some of both.

Mom blogger Becky Mansfield wrote a great piece on things we don’t want our kiddos to forget.  Please share in the Comments what you hope your children don’t forget.

What Really Matters: Things I Never Want Our Kids to Forget – Becky Mansfield

Photo Credit: Facebook, Becky Mansfield, Your Modern Family

First, You Decide that Kids Belong in School – Carrie McKean – a writer friend of mine in Texas; everyone won’t agree with her, but she writes well and with reason for us as parents during our time with COVID.

A Top Researcher Says It’s Time to Rethink Our Entire Approach to Preschool – Anya Kementz

It’s Easy to Judge Until It’s Your Kid; Let’s Try Compassion – MaryBeth Bock

The Secret of Arctic ‘Survival Parenting’

3) Aging Well – Start young. Start young to age well. If you have to catch up (like me), there is still time.

The Seven Habits That Lead to Happiness in Old Age – Arthur C. Brooks

Forgiving People Is Good for Your Health. Here’s How to Do It. – Rachel Feltman

Forgiving People Is Good for Your Health. Here’s How to Do It – Rachel Feltman

Photo Credit: John & Julie Gottman, Yes! Magazine

4) Words – As much as I love words this quote from Jesus’ teaching gives pause: “But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.”  – Matthew 12:36-37
Words matter. Words mean things. We should be generous with life-giving words and sparing with words that destroy.  Silence and restraint have their place.
What If– A poem by Malcolm Guite
What if every word we say
Never ends or fades away,
Gathers volume gathers weigh,
Drums and dins us with dismay
Surges on some dreadful day
When we cannot get away
Whelms us till we drown?
What if not a word is lost,
What if every word we cast
Cruel, cunning, cold, accurst,
Every word we cut and paste
Echoes to us from the past
Fares and finds us first and last
Haunts and hunts us down?
What if every murmuration,
Every otiose oration
Every oath and imprecation,
Insidious insinuation,
Every blogger’s aberration,
Every facebook fabrication
Every twittered titivation,
Unexamined asservation
Idiotic iteration,
Every facile explanation,
Drags us to the ground?
What if each polite evasion
Every word of defamation,
Insults made by implication,
Querulous prevarication,
Compromise in convocation,
Propaganda for the nation
False or flattering persuasion,
Blackmail and manipulation
Simulated desparation
Grows to such reverberation
That it shakes our own foundation,
Shakes and brings us down?
Better that some words be lost,
Better that they should not last,
Tongues of fire and violence.
O Word through whom the world is blessed,
Word in whom all words are graced,
Do not bring us to the test,
Give our clamant voices rest,
And the rest is silence.
Then, on a lighter note:  there’s this sweet game that is all the rage right now. Wordle created by Josh Wardle (launched in October 2021). I love it because it is not time-consuming. You get one word puzzle a day that is challenging but doable. So fun.

What to Read About Wordle While Everybody’s Still Talking About It – Alex Dalenberg

Twitter, Karen Swallow Prior (Click to read the full thread)

Wordle App (different game, different creator)

5) War – We have all read and watched about the current invasion of Ukraine by Russia. How to respond? Who to respond? I won’t pose an opinion here because we have so many, and they don’t help really. Praying is the most important thing we can do. Below are some links I found interesting this week (well, links that weren’t behind a paywall). Praying…

Photo Credit: Facebook

War in Ukraine: Essential Reading

Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky: the Comedian President Who Is Rising to the Moment – Stephen Mulvey

Wendell Berry’s Advice for a Cataclysmic Age – Dorothy Wickenden [Lengthy biographical piece on Berry’s advice – also includes an audio file which you can listen to instead of reading the story.]

Here are a few quotes from the piece above:

“Think Little. Nearly every one of us, nearly every day of his life, is contributing directly to the ruin of this planet.” Berry went on to say that he was “ashamed and deeply distressed that American government should have become the chief cause of disillusionment with American principles.”

In a Jefferson Lecture in 2012, he quoted Stegner’s description of Americans as one of two basic types, “boomers” and “stickers.” Boomers are “those who pillage and run,” who “make a killing and end up on Easy Street.” Stickers are “those who settle, and love the life they have made and the place they have made it in.” They are “placed people,” in Berry’s term—forever attached to the look of the sky, the smell of native plants, and the vernacular of home.

He told the crowd that, as a member of the human race, he was “in the worst possible company: communists, fascists and totalitarians of all sorts, militarists and tyrants, exploiters, vandals, gluttons, ignoramuses, murderers.” But, he insisted, he was given hope by people “who through all the sad destructive centuries of our history have kept alive the vision of peace and kindness and generosity and humility and freedom.”

“A properly educated conservative, who has neither approved of abortion nor supported a tax or a regulation, can destroy a mountain or poison a river and sleep like a baby,” he writes. “A well-instructed liberal, who has behaved with the prescribed delicacy toward women and people of color, can consent to the plunder of the land and people of rural America and sleep like a conservative.”

“If two neighbors know that they may seriously disagree, but that either of them, given even a small change of circumstances, may desperately need the other, should they not keep between them a sort of pre-paid forgiveness? They ought to keep it ready to hand, like a fire extinguisher.”

“Jesus said, ‘Take no thought for the morrow,’ which I take to mean that if we do the right things today, we’ll have done all we really can for tomorrow. OK. So I hope to do the right things today.”

Wendell Berry – Americans Who Tell the Truth Website

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Any favorite finds you’d be willing to share? Post them in the Comments and thanks so much for stopping by.

Bonuses:

Setting a Valentine’s lunch for our grandchildren:

The Real-Life Diet of Kenny G, Who Learned to Cook to Set an Example for His Son – Mick Rouse

YouTube Video – Jesus’ Heart – Eric Gilmour and Dane Ortlund

Three Encouraging Quotes

Worship Wednesday – Somebody’s Prayin’ – John G. Elliott

Photo Credit: Heartlight

 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.1 Timothy 2:1

When we lived overseas, one of my greatest joys was to pray, on the streets doing errands. In Cairo, Tunis, Sfax, and Casablanca. Just walking in and out of stores. Praying for people as they came across my path. Strangers with lives of which I had no knowledge. Except for those things we all hold in common. Work, health, family, and some understanding of God. I felt such a connection with these people who I might never really know…or maybe I would…one day.

Praying.

What a privilege also to pray for those near to us…family, friends, neighbors, colleagues. Near…and far. Those in power and those far removed. Those who deeply need prayer in the moment as well as those who discount their need…but it is still there.

In the early 90s, an album by singer, songwriter John G. Elliott found an enduring place on our playlist. Let All the Thirsty Come (1988). Beautiful lyrics and Elliott’s voice brought these heartsongs to life for us. In particular, our favorite song is his Somebody’s Prayin’. Not surprisingly, he is on staff today at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri.

My Mom was a great pray-er, and we, her children, are still buoyed on the wings of those prayers. Now, my praying mentor is my treasured mom-in-law. She is praying, early morning and through the day, for many somebodies…us included. [She won’t love the image below that I captured without her knowledge. For me, it is a beautiful, albeit early-morning-grainy image for me of one before the throne of God.] So thankful for her and for the God who draws her to Himself.

If you wonder sometimes if anyone is praying for you…take that wondering to God and with it your own prayer for someone else. Keep in mind that in our loneliest, most isolated times, Someone is always praying for us…His name is Jesus.

Who is there to condemn us? For Christ Jesus, who died, and more than that was raised to life, is at the right hand of God—and He is interceding for us.Romans 8:34

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Worship with me (lyrics and music in the link. This cover done beautifully by Ricky Skaggs).

Somebody’s prayin, I can feel it
Somebody’s prayin’ for me
Mighty hands are guiding me
To protect what I can’t see
Lord I believe, Lord I believe
That somebody’s prayin’, for me

Angels are watchin’, I can feel it
Angels are watchin’ over me
There’s many miles ahead ’til I get home
Still I’m safely kept before Your throne
‘Cause Lord I believe, Lord I believe
Your angels are watchin’ over me

Well, I’ve walked through barren wilderness
When my pillow was a stone
And I’ve been through the darkest caverns
Where no light had ever shown
Still I went on ’cause there was someone
Who was down on their knees
And Lord. I thank You for those people
Prayin’ all this time for me

Somebody’s prayin’, I can feel it
Somebody’s prayin’ for me
Mighty hands are guiding me
To protect me from what I can’t see
Lord I believe, Lord I believe
Somebody’s prayin’ for me*

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I hope you know you’re prayed for…thanks for those of you who have prayed for me over the years.

*Lyrics to “Somebody’s Prayin’” – Songwriter: John G. Elliott

John G. Elliott – Bandcamp – Music

The Heart of Songwriting – John G. Elliott – International House of Prayer, Kansas City

Our Top 10 Blogs of 2021 – International House of Prayer, Kansas City

Photo Credit: Heartlight