Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Monday, July 23, 2012


This is a sad statement to make, but I really have a hard time with forgiveness. And not just when it involves me doing it, but when it involves me receiving it.

There have been things done and said to me, that I have a really hard time forgiving. I think I have forgiven the person, and then up it pops days, months, even years later. It is so easy to hold a grudge. Why is that?

And on the flip side, it isn't any different. When I hurt someone, I have a hard time believing I am forgiven. I feel like I need to atone over and over.

Even with God.

It could be partly due to the way I was raised, having preachers who seemingly loved to scare people into going to the altar at camps and revivals, and even in their home church. For someone like me, it just helped reinforce the idea that I could never be good enough.

And it hasn't helped that I have to deal with a "besetting sin." I always feel like I need to do more, that even though I asked God to forgive me, He hasn't quite totally done so.

But the thing is, when God forgives us, He remembers it against us no more. It has been said that it is just as if I'd never sinned. Sounds simple, yet profound. So why is it so hard to grasp?

I have been doing better with the forgiving issue lately. Maybe it is part of growing older. I have come to learn that just because someone disagrees with me, does not mean they are personally attacking me, though some can do so.

I have learned that holding a grudge does me no good, only harm. While I am stewing and dredging it over and over, the guilty party isn't even thinking about it, and is going on their merry way. Meanwhile I am miserable. Forgiving someone isn't just for their sake - it is for ours also. Maybe more so. Most of the time, the person will never know  you made the choice to actively forgive them, and it will make no difference in their life. However, it makes a big difference in ours. And besides, God commands us to do so.

Back in October, I was privlegded to go hear the Gaither Vocal Band in concert, along with a few guest groups. One of those groups was the Issacs, who does mostly bluegrass music, not a favorite of mine. They sang a song new to me that was from a CD that had just come out. I loved it. Not only was it pleasing to the ears, but it has a great message. As soon as intermission came, I went and bought the CD. The song is "Why Can't We?" Lyrics and video below. Check it out.

Why Can’t We?

By Rebecca Bowman Isaacs, Sonya Isaacs Yeary, and Jimmy Yeary

Verse 1:
He lies awake there all alone every night
Lookin’ back on all of his mistakes
Wishin’ through the tears that he could just go back
Cause there’s a lot of things he’d like to change
He just can’t forgive himself and forget
Even though God already did

If He can love someone
And find the good within
In spite of what they’ve done
No matter where they’ve been
If He can let it go
And set the debtor free
If He can keep forgiving you and me
Why can’t we

Verse 2:
There’ve been times I’ve been so hurt by someone else
I didn’t wanna give a second chance
I let all the bitterness take control
And took grace into my own hands
But even Jesus said whoever’s done no wrong
Let him throw the first stone

If He can love someone
And find the good within
In spite of what they’ve done
No matter where they’ve been
If He can let it go
And set the debtor free
If He can keep forgiving you and me
Why can’t we

He was hated and rejected
Betrayed by those He trusted
Even hanging on the cross
He said Father please forgive them

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Accepting a compliment

Too many people are like me. We have a hard time accepting a compliment. Example:
Person: "I really enjoyed your piano special this morning."
Me: "thanks, but my sister plays much better than me".

That IS true, she can play better, and I am pretty sure I replied with that more than once in my life.

Why do we have a hard time just accepting a compliment with a simple "thank-you"?
One reason could be that we are raised to fight against pride, and we fear by just accepting the compliment, we will appear, or actually be, proud. For me, I have fought low self esteem and image all my life, it is actually hard for me to believe I am any good at something, and the people are just trying to be nice.

I was talking about this with someone recently, and they made a good point. They said something like this: "you not accepting compliments is a slap in the other persons face..    your making THEM feel bad for being kind to you.  accept the gift they are giving...   you would never just say no thanks at Christmas and birthday right? So often you don't want to be prideful but its not about YOU, think of how THEY feel, and get over yourself..." (Pretty much verbatim there)
They had a good point. We may as well tell them they are wrong, and don't know what they are talking about. Sound rude? We may not intend to be so, but we are being so. And maybe not all people giving the compliment will be bothered by that kind of response, but some will.

It had made me think and decide to turn over a new leaf. From now on, when I receive a compliment, I shall just politely say "thank-you." It is NOT pride to do so, and it will make the other person feel better than if you shrug the compliment off. So someone else is better at it than you, or you made one mistake while playing or singing? So what. Get over yourself and accept the compliment. It is what you'd want done if you were complimenting.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Loving the bad man, and everyone else

It's sometimes dangerous when I think, and I've been thinking. A couple of things have made me think.The First is a  series of books I just read by Hank Hanegraaff and Sigmund Brouwer, The Last Disciple Series. The other is a movie I watched, Loving The Bad Man.

The books are historical fiction set in the days when Nero was emperor of Rome. As with all historical fiction, there is real and fictional parts. There was a lot in the books about the persecution of Christians, and how Nero treated them. Pretty bad stuff. I wouldn't have wanted to be a Christian living in Rome in those days.

Loving The Bad Man is a Christian movie that deals with forgiveness. A young woman is raped, and the rapist is caught and goes to prison. The rape results in a pregnancy, and after the baby is born, the young lady feels she must start visiting her rapist in prison, and forgive him and love him.

I include myself in this when I say it, but we Christians have lost loving. Jesus said the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as our self, that he who loves not does not love God, for God is love. And other similar statements.

Maybe we are too busy, too wrapped up in ourselves, but the church has lost loving. We are good at judging, condemning, and shooting our wounded, but loving: not so much.

Oh it is easy to love our kids, our pastor, the people who treat us well. That is a piece of cake. But what about the others? The drunk, the drug addict, the homosexual? What if the person treats us wrong? Could we forgive and love someone who raped us or someone we love? Someone who killed a loved one in a drunken accident?

We get angry over the smallest things. In the past I have given my opinion on a certain type of schooling and the issues I see with it. Wow. I think I would have gotten less angry response if I had criticized God. I have inferred a certain singer that people hold in too high of regard might not be in Heaven....again, angry response. And sure, I have a habit of saying what I think, but get real people. That is small stuff. We could face real persecution and bad things some day, and if we react like that when someone criticizes something we hold dear, then how on earth will we stand up to real tribulation?

We are all guilty. Very few have the loving thing down pat, and then we wonder why sinners hate the church and view us a judgmental and hateful. Maybe its because all too often we are.

What would happen if an openly gay person started to your church? Would everyone gasp "child molester!, back off, and isolate that person, or would people befriend him, welcome him, love him?

What if an ex-con started to your church?What kind of reaction would he get? Rude looks, a cold reception?

Some years back, I was sitting in church, and the speaker mentioned homosexuality. A friend of mine behind me, leaned up and said "they ought to hang all of them queers." Wow. Fast forward a few years and we had the topic of homosexuality in Sunday School. A couple of people were very vocal about it. One man said he'd rather have a murderer around his kids than a gay person. Another man said he's never want one of those guys around his kids.

That is just a couple of examples about one sin. If we have those kind of attitudes, is it any wonder there are people avoiding church, and that there are people sitting in our pews that are afraid to be honest about what they are dealing with? Can you imagine if someone went to one of those guys I mentioned above that was silently struggling with same-sex desires?

I did a couple of blog posts about Christians wearing masks. (http://thoughtsofasojourner.blogspot.com/2010/02/masquerade-party.html and http://thoughtsofasojourner.blogspot.com/2010/02/more-on-wearing-masks.html). I talked about how so many people in the church hide their struggles. If we loved more, is it possible that people would be more open, more willing to seek help? Who knows how many men - and women - are in our churches addicted to pornography, struggling with same-sex attractions, are having an affair, or other things that aren't "nice sins." If we loved more, and judged less, how many of those might come forward? That isn't to say we must approve of sin.

WWJD. That was popular a while back, and became pretty much a fad, but it is a good rule to live by. Jesus would love, for He IS love.

I don't believe God is impressed with perfect church attendance, or how much we put in the offering. I think what pleases Him, outside of someone living for Him and obeying Him, is when they love others. The ones who aren't easy to love. The ones whose actions and lifestyle aren't what we approve of, and what God doesn't approve of.

There was a song written several years ago titled "To be like Jesus." I could be wrong, but I think when we are most like Jesus, is when we love.