Friday, September 30, 2016

When "Saying Nothing" Isn't an Option

                                                                                                Friday, September 30, 2016

Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.  Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.  Stop being angry!  Turn from your rage!  Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm.  For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.  Psalm 37:7-9(NLT)

Recent and increasing outbreaks of violent confrontations that end in death for black persons are more than a cell phone video phenomenon.  It is a sign of just how grossly-divided Cain and Abel can get.  

Our culture may congratulate itself on granting “rights” to everyone, because we are the land of the free; but if that is so, why the rage?  Why is it that the African-American community feels so disenfranchised and powerless…so much so that the push-back turns deadly?

I wish I knew.  And I wish I had a pill for fixing that would actually work.

I’m white because that is how I was born, and I grew up in the lower middle class.  I’m not a political-science guru, but I watch what happens; I listen and think, long before I get involved.  So, I’m an introverted observer who cares that all people be treated fairly, and do have not a clue as to how to make that happen. 

But, because I don’t want to be complicit in the perpetuation of racism, for me the idea of saying nothing is hardly an option.

The key is to not say too little or too much, neither too softly nor too loudly; many a well-intentioned word, because of anger or impatience, has turned evil because it was not carefully spoken as the truth in love[ii].  As the Psalmist cautions we must stop our anger and turn from our rage, even in the midst of racial outrageousness we witness on the evening news.

Outrage and anger speak from both sides of the firing line.  Black Lives Matter has a strong case against unwarranted brutal treatment at the hands of those charged with the responsibility of protecting people and their rights.  Blue Lives Matter correctly defends the innocence of officers acting appropriately in bad situations.  Some, on both sides, have touched-off more violence with hasty intemperate words. 

It is a flaming mess!

God’s Word cautions us not to take vengeance. [iii]  That is God’s purview, and we are not good at it.  The Psalmist tells us to trust God to do whatever “punishing” needs doing.

But that still doesn’t speak to what we must do in speaking against the evil of racism which threatens to destroy both those who are targets of racial bias, and those who unwisely give racism an undeserved validity with their rage and violent pushback.

Dr. Martin Luther King was a pacifist without question.  If there was to be a protest marking the unfair treatment of people, he was ready to do so without the kind of rage we see boiling-over in our streets today. 

Of course Dr. King was human with all the potential for error and sin that each of us possesses – but I believe he got this right.  We cannot let rage and anger destroy us…and that’s what it will do if we don’t dial it back!

For You Today

Take time to get to know someone with whom you disagree; you might find more common ground than you ever imagined!

You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i] Title Image: By Tony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota, via Wikimedia Commons
[ii] Ephesians 4:15
[iii] Romans 12:19

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hard Thoughts

Thursday, September 29, 2016
The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words.  I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.  Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:  The faithful love of the Lord never ends!  His mercies never cease.  Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”  The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.  So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.  Lamentations 3:19-26(NLT)
Perhaps the hardest of thoughts is to have hope in the midst of grief. 

Battling grief is a common experience; if you live long enough grief will be more than once your uninvited companion on this journey through life.  Often a first touch with grief is as a child when grandparents die.  That was my lot as a pre-teen.  It was then I learned Jeremiah was right; you never forget the time of loss.  In seminary a wise professor shared with us would-be preachers that one of the last, arguably best gifts people give to their grandchildren is their own death; it is a valuable and needed preparation for learning to grieve while parents are still around to comfort and guide.

It has been a little more than a year since my Dad became part of the church triumphant in heaven.  From our family’s perspective he was the last of his generation.  With him passed away any first-hand memories of our family history.  And with our family’s sketchy knowledge of our ancestry, there is a haze of unknowing rather than links to the past.  For my remaining brother and cousins, we don’t know where we come from, and that speaks much about the emptiness and finality of loss.

So what about hope in the middle of loss and grief?

Jeremiah said he dared to hope because his track record with the LORD is that there is mercy forthcoming every morning, like the dew on the ground.  And hope, itself, is much like faith; it is (as the writer of Hebrews proclaimed) the evidence of things we long to see.

There is no standard, one-size-fits-all way to move through grief.  There is certainly no way to escape it altogether, at least not in a healthy way.  It must be embraced as necessary to the process of accepting God’s new mercies in a rotten time.  It must be endured as the inescapable price of loving. 

The question isn’t will I grieve; the question is always, how shall I grieve; how do I start?

Let me borrow some military advice from Jean-Luc Picard.  He is the fictional captain of the Starship Enterprise. 

Patrick Stewart played the captain for the 1980’s TV series, and every time the Enterprise was about to begin a new adventure traversing the next galaxy, or getting ready to do battle with the evil enemies of The Federation, Captain Picard would look wistfully out the front windows from the command center and issue the order to the helmsman, Warp speed….ENGAGE!
This is how we begin – without fear, without hesitation, but not without God.

For You Today

If your pathway is remembering with hard thoughts today, engage…God is faithfully in the middle of it with you with all the new mercies you need.

You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i] Title Image: By Jiri Hodan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

I Can't Get No Satisfaction

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Someone came to Jesus with this question:  “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”  “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied.  “There is only One who is good.  But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.”  “Which ones?” the man asked.  And Jesus replied:  “‘You must not murder.  You must not commit adultery.  You must not steal.  You must not testify falsely.  Honor your father and mother.  Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied.  “What else must I do?”  Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.”  But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.   
Matthew 19:16-22(NLT)
There isn't a sinless character in the Bible (with the exception of Jesus).  I'm glad we see the warts of such heroes as Moses, Abraham and Peter.  Each of them experienced that what's the use feeling from time to time. 

Aimlessness, or purposelessness, is tied very closely to man's innate need to know, and experience the presence of God.  In reality, it is the lack of that close relationship with God that causes that void in life.  Ultimately God is our purpose and reason for living.  Scripture teaches we were created for God, so without Him we will tire of life's toys and distractions; we feel empty.

Nobody is immune to this void.  In the account of the rich young ruler, it was that restless feeling that there was something he'd left undone with his life that prompted his question…what else?  It's very much like attending your wife's high school reunion; somehow you just don't fit.  It’s a squirmy restlessness; you’d just rather not be there.

The man asked Jesus to help him sort it out.  Jesus pointed the man to what God said about behaving yourself found in the Ten Commandments.  But the man wasn't content with superficial rules-keeping; he'd done that all his life.  He was rich and respected…he had it all, but still, on the inside there was no peace.  Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones sang about this ruler in the 60's; I Can't Get No Satisfaction was voted America’s all-time #1 Rock and Roll favorite[ii].  WHY?  Simply because it matched with what is singularly THE most common human experience – emptiness, the kind of void which traces back to being separated from that for which we were created.  We can't be fulfilled outside of a close, loving fellowship with God.  The tragedy of people searching for a sense of purpose in the drug culture, booze, or new toys is that the frantic race for a higher high, or a longer lasting popularity, or a new and different experience is just what Mick Jagger sang about: 

"I try, and I try, and I try, and I try; I can't get no satisfaction!"

And the terrible reality about emptiness is that we choose it.  Jesus wanted the ruler to choose a relationship with God; the only requirement was to remove whatever stood between.  The man had already dealt with the one thing that trips-up most people – our pride!  Just coming to Jesus with his questions shows the ruler wasn't overly prideful.  His problem was his materialism, his wealth.

Choices are a part of everyday life.  We choose to get up in the morning, and what clothes to wear.  When given the choice - Jesus or wealth - the ruler was sad.  He was sad, having glimpsed the one thing that would give him peace, and choosing the one thing that would ensure he would never have peace…no satisfaction! 

We are strange people indeed, when we choose death over life.  Reality screams that you cannot have new life when you refuse to let go of the old. 

For You Today

For a growing Christian, part of your prayer every day ought to include, like the rich young ruler, anything else?  But when the answer comes back…make a good choice!

You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i] Title Image: By Bert Verhoeff (ANEFO), via Wikimedia Commons
[ii] American Bandstand – Dick Clark emcee 1990

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

When Jeremiah Preached Prosperity

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

“Now I want to say something more about this city.  You have been saying, ‘It will fall to the king of Babylon through war, famine, and disease.’  But this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says:  I will certainly bring my people back again from all the countries where I will scatter them in my fury.  I will bring them back to this very city and let them live in peace and safety.  They will be my people, and I will be their God.  And I will give them one heart and one purpose:  to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants.  And I will make an everlasting covenant with them:  I will never stop doing good for them.  I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me.  I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.  “This is what the Lord says:  Just as I have brought all these calamities on them, so I will do all the good I have promised them.  Fields will again be bought and sold in this land about which you now say, ‘It has been ravaged by the Babylonians, a desolate land where people and animals have all disappeared.’  Yes, fields will once again be bought and sold—deeds signed and sealed and witnessed—in the land of Benjamin and here in Jerusalem, in the towns of Judah and in the hill country, in the foothills of Judah and in the Negev, too.  For someday I will restore prosperity to them.  I, the Lord, have spoken!”   Jeremiah 32:36-44(NLT)
Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, preached pretty much a message of gloom and doom.  Then it all changed; he became a prosperity preacher!  The point was that God was going to restore prosperity to His people after a time of discipline.  Many point to the historical re-population of Palestine after World War II as the fulfillment of this prophecy.  I look at it as the prelude to fulfillment, with much more to come.  God is not done with Israel!

Some are fond of looking at Israel and proclaiming the church as the New Israel.  While there are parallels to draw between the church and Israel, a quick rehearsing of history would tell a chilling truth that if you want to step into that role, it isn’t all beer and skittles.  Think hatred, persecution, and holocaust!  Israel’s history is fraught with pain.

The church has had its share of all of that, and, like Israel, God is not done with His bride; not by a long shot, especially when you consider the promise of Revelation:

Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder:  “Praise the Lord!  For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.  Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him.  For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself.  She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.”  For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.  And the angel said to me, “Write this:  Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.”  And he added, “These are true words that come from God.”  Revelation 19:6-9(NLT)

As Yogi Berra used to say:  It ain’t over till it’s over.

There are those who proclaim the end of the church, as if somehow the current malaise in God’s church translates as total failure, and the next generation will now, with its technology and information-sharing, have to save the Kingdom. 

Well, the Church is always going through transition, strains of tradition, and trouble.  Jesus never claimed it would be easy or clear cut; walking by faith never is!  But walking by faith also means walking towards the light.

And that is the greatest form of prosperity, bathed in the light of truth, to stumble no longer in the darkness of this age.

For You Today

God is not done with Israel.

God is not done with the Church.

Do you see a pattern here?  That pattern means God isn’t done with you either!

There, I’m a prosperity preacher!

You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i] Title Image: By RobertMWorsham (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, September 26, 2016

Open Door Policy

Monday, September 26, 2016

“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea.  This is the message from the one who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation:  “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold.  I wish that you were one or the other!  But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!  You say, ‘I am rich.  I have everything I want.  I don’t need a thing!’  And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.  So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire.  Then you will be rich.  Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.  I correct and discipline everyone I love.  So be diligent and turn from your indifference.  “Look! I stand at the door and knock.  If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.  Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.  “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”  Revelation 3:14-22(NLT)
An open door is a metaphor that can take you in more than one direction.  An open door can be an opportunity, or it could be an invitation at work to go to the boss for frank discussion anytime. 

An open door can also be the symbol of confidence someone expresses in the possibilities of friendship and community; you are welcome here anytime!  The context here makes this kind of warm invitation a really strange one.  After all, the risen Lord Jesus is telling John to tell the Laodicean church their lukewarmness made him sick!

Lukewarm friendship; how does that work for you?

Okay, so everyone can see this invitation is preceded by a warning – I’ll spit you out of my mouth!  Cold water works, hot coffee works, but neither is good lukewarm.  My wife likes iced coffee, sugar-free, vanilla, non-fat, yada, yada, yada.  Give me hot, black, no sugar and I’m ok.  If I forget my coffee for an hour and absent-mindedly take a sip, I’m really close to my Jesus imitation; can’t stand tepid coffee; nothing more nauseating!

So there’s the caution against cooling off, or warming down – lukewarm indifference. 

And there’s an invitation of strong friendship – dinner and a movie with Jesus.

And it’s conditional – turn from that indifference; accept the correction Jesus offers and the open door thing is going to happen.  And the key to it all is in our hands, because it’s our door….the door to each of our hearts.

And that door is only opened from the inside…like any common house door lock, you must be willing to open your heart to God; He will not pick that lock like a burglar…He waits for you to accept His invitation to open the door.

He calls, but He won’t beat down the door!  He will step inside when you are ready to get white-hot for him!

For You Today

When I was very young we didn’t have a lock on the front door.  Friends and neighbors were pretty much welcome to open the door and come on in. 

Is that the kind of open door policy you have with Jesus?

You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i] Title Image: Henry Fox Talbot [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Necessary Art of Forgiveness

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”  “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!  “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him.  In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars.  He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.  “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’  Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.  “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars.  He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.  “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time.   ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded.  But his creditor wouldn’t wait.  He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.  “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset.  They went to the king and told him everything that had happened.   Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant!  I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me.  Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’  Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.  “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”  Matthew 18:21-35(NLT)
Forgiveness is at the heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  A Christmas card I once received had this paragraph:
"If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator.  If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.  If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.  But since our greatest need was forgiveness, God sent us a Savior."
There are countless examples of forgiveness in the Old Testament.  Esau forgave his tricky brother, Jacob.  Joseph forgave his nasty brothers who sold him into slavery.  In the New Testament, the Gospel is replete with forgiving.  Jesus forgave sins – he forgave Judas in advance – he forgave his executioners from the cross – he forgave Peter for his denial.
Where does forgiveness start?  The dictionary defines forgiveness as: 
to grant pardon, to cease to blame, to cease feeling resentment towards.
Those are verbal descriptions of what happens when forgiveness is given; however, it doesn't answer the question about where forgiveness begins.  The Bible answers forthrightly (as with every other important question of life), that forgiveness begins in the heart. 
The Jews, God's very special people, were used to write almost our entire Bible.  In Jewish thought the human heart is the hidden spring of the personal life
In the Jewish wisdom library we find the Book of Proverbs, 30 chapters of the collected wit, lore and God-inspired thought of the race.  In those thirty chapters are more than eighty references to the heart as the center of living.
The Jewish concept of the heart is organized into three fields:
Reason or logic is our sense of understanding.  In Western thought we say it is the mind.  It is where intelligent creatures separate from the animal kingdom.  Problem-solving is a matter of the heart.
Emotion is the visceral announcement of the heart's condition and desires.  Much of our lives revolve around such emotions as love, anger, compassion, self-preserving instincts or emotions.
Will or moral choice is the place of the soul. 
·       Reason corresponds to the mental, or spirit capacity. 
·       Emotion corresponds to the body, and the
·       Will is the soulish part of us that makes moral decisions of right and wrong.
When we understand the different concepts of the heart of humans, (reason, emotion, will), it is then much easier to understand that, for the heart to truly forgive, all three must be involved.  It is the surrender of the total, threefold heart.

Surrender of Reason

In our parable the king knew that the debt was not payable.  There was no satisfying such a great sum ($10 million).  The Hatfields and McCoys felt the same way.  The 1880's newspapers were filled with accounts of this family feud.  Nobody seems able to recall how the thing got started.  Reports are that it was either Metaphysical and Philosophical divergence on the Civil War postures, or it was hog stealing.  Either way, nearly 100 men women and children died.  It didn't make a lot of sense.  There was no surrender to reason. 
In 1976 Jim McCoy and Willis Hatfield – the last two survivors who took part in the fighting – shook hands at a public ceremony to dedicate a memorial to the victims.  McCoy died at 99 years old in 1984.  His burial was conducted at the Hatfield Funeral Home in Toler, KY.[ii]
Christian reasoning is different from the worldly reasoning; the Bible tells us to be different.  The world sees unilateral forgiveness as a refreshing exception.  In the Kingdom of God it is the living, breathing norm!
The surrender of our reason means allowing our thinking/mind to be controlled and governed by God's Word.  There are several components to surrendering our “reason”:
Response to the command of Jesus 
   (seventy times seven)
Peter knew the Jewish rule; forgive a wrong once, twice, three times, then take revenge.  He thought he was being magnanimous by more than doubling it to seven times.  Jesus told him to forget his scorecard, and just forgive.  We are also commanded to forgive like that.
And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 
2 Corinthians 5:18(NLT)
Our business as the church is the ministry of reconciling people to Christ.  We cannot imagine to even begin to talk of reconciling others to a God we cannot see if we cannot forgive and be reconciled to the brothers we can see. 
A lack of forgiveness hampers the work of the Holy Spirit of God in us.  There are some things that do not break our fellowship – these hardly need to be considered.  However, if there is something that continually eats away at your insides, it must be dealt with.  A good rule of thumb is:  Anything that can't be forgotten is probably not forgiven either!  It must be driven from your relationship with your Christian brother or sister in open, face-to-face reconciliation.
There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.  James 2:13(NLT)
Surrendering our reason means allowing God to have final say in our thinking process. 
In our text, the unjust steward, who wouldn't forgive his fellow servant who only owed him $20, didn't reason well.  He had been forgiven much; he wouldn't forgive even a little. 
We have always heard how the Father's love is unconditional; this is not the case with His forgiveness.  When we refuse to forgive, we refuse to be forgiven.  A dear friend of mine said to me recently that forgiving others is the hard part of that!  Uh…yeah!
A preacher wrote, Can you humbly beseech God, and with tearful eyes look up to Him for pardon while you have your foot upon your brother's neck or your hand at his throat?"[iii]

Surrender of Emotions

The text says the servant's master took pity (had compassion) on him.  It is not easy to surrender your emotions, especially when you believe you've been wronged or hurt.  It is perhaps the most difficult part of forgiveness to place yourself in the other person's shoes, and feel his pain.  It is not right to fake compassion, attempting to manufacture or manipulate feelings that aren't really there. 
However, The Bible demands (and integrity dictates) that we earnestly seek to surrender our emotions, and let God help us with feeling for those whom we need to forgive. 
There are two disciplines we can enter into in order to help our compassion:
Identify with the Immensity of our debt
The wicked servant owed $10-12 million.  That's a large debt! (Except for our government -- they don't notice anything under sixty billion!) 
George Buttrick said, A cross was raised to forever silence the heresy that forgiveness was easy
When someone has wronged you, it will be easier to surrender your emotions if you first consider how much Jesus has forgiven you before you get all hurt and angry over what your brother has done to you.
Imitate the Intensity of His Love
 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  Eph 4:32 (NIV)
The family of God is tied from individual to individual with a bond of love.  Love is verbal, visceral and visible.  To surrender our emotions to each other means we cannot be "cold fish," nor can we be seething hotbeds of anger.  We must seek to imitate the intensity of the love of Christ.  It was He who wept over Jerusalem who stoned the prophets; it was He who wept over Lazarus; it was He who groaned for each of us in the Garden of Gethsemane.
To imitate the intensity of Jesus' love is to act that way until we feel that way.  C.S. Lewis wrote, "It would be quite wrong to think that the way to become 'loving' is to sit trying to manufacture affectionate feelings.  Some people are 'cold' by temperament; that may be a misfortune for them, but it is no more a sin than having a bad digestion is sin, and it does not cut them off from the chance, or excuse them from the duty, of learning 'love.'  The rule for us all is perfectly simple.  Do not waste time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor; act as if you did...When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love them.    If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more.  If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less."[iv]

Surrender of Will

In the story of the wicked servant, the king wiped out the debt and allowed the man to start over.  A church member told me that her family had a dozen children.  When they were grown, whenever one was ill, or had other trouble, the other eleven would band together to help with the bills.  When the trouble or illness was over, there was nothing to repay. 
This is the way God forgives us when we act in faith.  In Exodus we read of God's people being passed over by the death angel.  Moses had instructed the people to kill the lamb and put the blood on the door posts.  Those that did were released from their debt of sin, and the death angel would pass over that household.  Forgiveness demands that we:
Have a Passover
A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.   Prov 19:11 (NIV)
Sometimes you are absolutely right.  Sometimes the other fella is absolutely wrong.  He hurt you, he was wrong, he should be hung!  (At least we think so!)  I want to assure you that the details are less important in the eyes of eternal Almighty God, than the relationship of your brother and you.  In the early part of this chapter the Lord said if your brother offends you (even if he's dead wrong) you go to him and begin to get it straightened out!
Make it a Priority
Experience tells us that reconciling and forgiveness require all three parts of a man's heart.  When we forgive only with the reason, or mind, it will fail us when our emotions flare up.  Forgiveness that is based solely on an emotional tug of the heartstrings will fade with time.  There must be reason, emotion AND a definite choice of the will.  When we submit that will to Christ, and humbly forgive, our prayer is heard in heaven.

How Do You Do It?

How do you forgive with the mind, emotions and will, and actually make it stick?
Five Suggestions:
1.     Pray - Nothing great is ever accomplished without God.
2.     Choose to forgive, and then choose to never again hold it against him/her.  Remember, when God forgives He casts our sin into the deepest part of the sea’ then He puts up a No Fishing sign.
3.     Seek for some good quality in that person on which to dwell.  Consider that person your former adversary.
4.     Relax Don’t judge, and don’t worry.  Let your own goodness be the only thing the Holy Spirit has to use to convict the person of wrongdoing. 
5.     Do something sacrificial for that person.
According to ancient Oriental tradition, whenever a debt was settled, either by payment or forgiveness, the creditor would take the canceled bond and nail it over the door of the one who owed it.  Anyone passing by could then see that it had been fully paid. 
Jesus did that for us.  That is exactly the meaning of the word Jesus cried out from the cross:  tetelestai – it is finished! 
We should do it for each other.  We should do it now!
1 Hand-PenIn the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen

[i] Title image:  By US Air Force Public Affairs, via Wikimedia Commons
[ii] Peter Johnson, USA Today, (4-14-88)  Mrs Naomi Perry of Gainesville, Fl is a descendant of the original McCoy's.  She was married to my father-in-law for a brief time (they didn't get along any better than her ancestors).
[iii] Marcus Dods, The Parables Of Our Lord, (NY, Fleming H. Revell Co, c.1900) 130
[iv] The Bible Illustrator,  (Hiawatha, Ia, Parson's Technology, 1990) 2200-2209