Christian, Forgiving

The Scariest Words from Jesus

Matthew 18:34-35

Matthew 18:34-35  “And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

Is unforgiveness an unforgiveable sin? It appears so, doesn’t it? If we do not forgive, neither will we be forgiven. That is serious, and scary.

Forgiving those who have sinned against us was important enough for Jesus that he included it in the prayer he taught his disciples. “Forgive us our trespasses as we have forgiven those who trespass against us.” How many times have we prayed this prayer and not really thought about what it means?

(Aside: in the same way we have prayed “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth. . .” and not realized that Jesus is talking about the kingdom of God coming to earth, not our going to heaven.)

How do I know if I have truly forgiven those who have sinned against me? What does it mean to “forgive from the heart”?

I have come to some clearer understanding of this lately.  Formerly when I would counsel people about forgiveness, I would start by explaining what forgiveness is.  There is a lot of misunderstanding about forgiveness. People usually think that if they forgive someone it means that what that person did doesn’t matter. This reaction may become evident when I ask someone to forgive me and that person says, “It’s OK. It doesn’t matter.” That’s wrong. It does matter. It matters to us, but more importantly it matters to God. This can also happen when I think about something that someone did to me. I could think, “Well, it doesn’t matter.”

It matters. We must examine our heart. We must remember the pain the sin against us caused. Now we are getting closer to “forgiving from the heart.”

One of the ways this is explored is to say to yourself, “I forgive so-and-so for doing such-and-such because it made me feel ___________________ you fill in the blank.

Graphic example: I forgive my uncle for sexually abusing me when I was eight years old because it made me feel dirty, defiled, and guilty.

Or less graphic: I forgive my fourth-grade school teacher for what she said about me in front of the class because it made me feel stupid and embarrassed.

We can’t just blanket everything with “I forgive everyone for ever hurting me.” That does not come from the heart.

Again, forgiving doesn’t mean that what the other person did to us was all right or that it doesn’t matter. Forgiving means that I am no longer going to let this sin against me control my life. I would tell people that only person I am hurting by not forgiving that other person is me. Your ex-husband is having a great time with his girlfriend. He doesn’t care that you have said, “I will never forgive him.”  It is like taking poison, and hoping the other person dies. So I used to tell the person I was counseling to turn it over to God. He can bring retribution better to that person than you ever could!  That’s what I used to say.

Recently I have learned that is not right. That is not forgiveness from the heart. Hear these words from the Bedtime Shema, a Jewish prayer to be said before going to sleep.

“Master of the universe, I hereby forgive anyone who angered or antagonized me or who sinned against me—whether against my body, my property, my honor or against anything of mine; whether he did so accidentally, willfully, carelessly or purposely; whether through speech, deed, thought, or notion; whether in this place or another place—I forgive every [person]. May no one be punished because of me.

The last sentence rocked my world. “May no one be punished because of me.” Or because of what he or she has done to me.

We have a responsibility to those who have wronged us to forgive them, for their sakes, as well as for ours. It is not a matter of turning them over to the Lord for retribution.

This illustration might help. Imagine you and the person you are forgiving are standing near the foot of the cross. You turn to the other person and invite him or her to come to the cross with you, to receive the same forgiveness that you have received.

Yeshua said to love our enemies, and pray for those who despitefully use us. Take the one who has wounded you to Yeshua. Ask him to forgive, just as he did when he said, “Father, forgive them.”

Grace, law vs grace, Replacement Theology, Uncategorized

Grocery Store Jesus

Recently I heard another story about people when asked where their groceries come from answered, “From the grocery store”.  I have always found it surprising when people say that. They may understand that the food is not produced in the grocery stores, but they give little thought to all the background that is behind that product to get it to the grocery store.

When I heard this comment a few days ago, it got me thinking.

I “got saved” more than 40 years ago. Up until almost 10 years ago I did not think much about the Jewish background of “Christianity”. Everything changed after I made my first trip to Israel in 2013. I came back from that trip stunned. For several months I could not even express what I had seen, much less understand it.

Someone asked me, “What was the highlight of your trip, Grace?” I couldn’t answer. I stared at that person for a several seconds, then said, “Chris, I can’t answer your question. I feel as if I am standing in front of an incredible stained glass window. You are asking me to remove one pane from that window to try to explain the whole thing. I can’t do that. It would not explain anything and in trying to do so I will ruin the whole picture.”

My visit to Israel was more than a paradigm shift, it was life changing. I started to see the Hebrew/Jewish background and context of my faith. I started to ask questions.

“What is this thing we do on Sunday mornings, and why is so different from what we read in the book of Acts?” I asked my husband.

I read several books on the history of the “Christian” church through new lenses.

I no longer thought of “Christianity” as a different “religion” from Judaism. I began to understand the continuum. “Christianity” was never intended to be a new religion. The Bible that I had been studying for so many years is Jewish, start to finish.

What an exciting, enlightening, enriching journey it has been for the past few years.

Jesus did not suddenly pop into history; He came through thousands of years of preparation in history—Jewish/Hebrew history. (it is His Story minus one s=history).

We skip the vast richness of our faith when we just pick up Jesus and don’t understand all the development of His-Story behind it.

Here is my analogy:

  • So many people pick up their food at the grocery store, but don’t know all the background that went in to getting it there. Yes, the food is nourishing but mostly unappreciated for what it took to get it to the grocery store.
  • So many people pick up their Jesus at church-and yes he is nourishing, and saving, and secured our future, but the taste is bland without savoring the cultivation and care it took for him to arrive.

Appendix:

A partial list of  what I have learned since studying Jesus in his context

  1. Jesus, Yeshua, was, and is a Jew
  2. Replacement theology is wrong
  3. Yeshua did not start a new religion
    1. Our faith is Jewish, start to finish
  4. The law was not abolished
    1. Yeshua’s “fulfillment” of the law did not abolish it  
    2. Yeshua never broke the law–that would have disqualified him as the Messiah
    3. Gentile believers were expected to attend synagogue and learn the Torah (Acts 15)
    4. Yeshua did not change the food laws
  5. The gospel is “Repent. The Kingdom of God is at hand.”
  6. Heaven is not the goal, nor our home
  7. Sabbath did not get changed to Sunday
    1. Sabbath keeping is the 4th commandment
  8. Paul was a faithful Jew all his life.
    1. He did not “convert” to Christianity or get his name changed on the Damascus Road
  9. Pharisees are not all hypocrites
    1. Yeshua was a Pharisee
  10. “Binding and Loosing” are legal terms, meaning prohibiting and permitting
  11. “An eye for an eye” is a legal term having to do with monetary compensation for loss
  12. The Sanhedrin is the high court, like the supreme court in the United States
  13. “Old” and “New” Testament names are misleading
  14. The Bible does not teach “original sin”
  15. The “evil eye” is stinginess
  16. “Treasures in heaven” is a euphemism for “Treasures with God” and does not refer to a place

I would love to hear your comments, questions, additions or corrections. I am still learning.

Define Love

Define Love

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Love is the sacrificial giving for the betterment of the other.

Object Solicited Love vs Subject Generated Love

Think about 7th grade grammar. You learned what the subjects and objects of sentences are.

Subjects do the action.

Objects receive the action.

i.e.: Jack (subject) hit the ball (object).

There is no such thing as “Object Solicited Love”, but the whole world is built around it. Drive the right car, get the right haircut, go to the right school, live in the right neighborhood and somebody, maybe everybody, will love you. Not true. That is not love. It is something else—admiration, lust, envy, maybe even trust. But it is not love.

We love because He loved us. This is love, not that we loved him, but that he loved us.

He loves because it is in his nature to love us, not because of something that we do, or did, to make him love us. We cannot do anything to make Him love us more, or less. He loves because that is who and what He is—the one from whom love flows. His love is what flows through me.

I love you because He loved me. You cannot do anything to make me love you. I love you because the love of the Father flows through me.

The Father is the subject of love. He is the one doing the loving. I love because he loved first. Anything less than that is not “True Love”. Anything less than “True Love” is not love, it is a lesser thing.

I am the object of His love. So are you. I love you not because you have done something to make me “love” you. That is impossible.

This is love: God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

We didn’t do anything to make Him love us; He just did.

That’s True Love.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Uncategorized

Granddad’s House

 

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Granddad’s House

“Ain’t gonna need this house no longer.”

Mothers’ Day 2014.

My mom had been diagnosed with Aortic Stenosis. It’s serious. It would kill her. Eventually it would cause heart failure. Nobody knows how long she had but statistically someone with severe AS lives two years or less. How long it take for the hardening of the aortic valve to get to the point where it caused heart failure was up to the Lord.  In the meantime, Mom’s attitude was great. She was ready to go to the Lord when he called her. While she waited she prayed through her alphabet lists.

My sister-in-law, Marlene,  was visiting for Mothers’ Day. She wanted to go see “Granddad’s House.” I had not been back there for years. I even avoided driving by it. But  Marlene wanted to see it, so Tim and I loaded Mom in a wheelchair and we took her.

The house had been vacant since we sold it in 2005. The new owners had been taking care of the yard and keeping the place looking nice, but the house had recently sold again. The new owners had not been keeping it up. The place looked awful. The lawn hadn’t been mowed for weeks, weeds clung to the sides the  building. The paint I had so carefully applied years ago, hung in shredded fragments or lay scattered under the ragged shrubs and roses. My grandmother’s favorite yellow rose bush outside the dining room window had climbed all the way to the second floor. A single crumbled bud still clung to the vine.

Marlene got out of the car to take pictures. I sat in the back seat hurting and stunned.

This had been the house where my grandparents had lived. Every summer when I was growing up, my family would drive from California to spend time with my mother’s parents.  They bought it in 1946 when they returned from 25 years on the mission field in China. My mother had been a student at the University of Washington then. My grandparents had lived in that house until they died–my grandmother in 1977 and my grandfather in 1980.My husband and I bought the house from Granddad’s estate. We had it as a rental house until 1994 when we sold our home in Ferndale, paid off our debts and moved in to it.

At the time that Bob and I moved in our marriage was failing. We were divorced in 1996. When everything else in my life was chaos and pain, I found comfort in being in that house. The one place in the whole world where I had had unconditional love as a child.

I built a white picket fence around the house. The fence had been to contain my border collie puppy, but it had much deeper significance to me. The fence marked my boundaries, my place. This is where I belonged.

As I looked over Drayton Harbor from my quiet time place in the front room I told the Lord I would like to name the house.

“What shall I name it, Lord?”

“Harbor House”, I heard.

That same day I painted the name on the mailbox.

A couple of days later a friend stopped by and asked me if I were opening a bed and breakfast.

“No,” I laughed in reply. “That’s just what I do, not my job.” It was true. I nearly always had people staying with me. My future son in law called them my “waif collection”.

But the Lord had plans. A couple of years later I did open a bed and breakfast there. That is a different story.

I loved that house. I told my friends that I expected to live there the rest of my life. Apparently, the Lord had other plans. In 2005 my new husband and I sold the house to develop our business elsewhere. That is also another story.

Tim had found a piece of property about 10 miles away, on a busy road, where he felt our goat dairy business could prosper. I could not imagine selling Granddad’s house. One morning as I stood in the front room Drayton Harbor looked as if it had molten gold poured over it. The Canadian mountains stood as a snow peaked backdrop. I worshipped the Lord with my hands raised. I praised him for the beauty of the place where I he had brought me. Then I heard his voice.

“Are you willing to give this up so someone else can learn to worship me here?” He said.

Without hesitation, I answered, “In a heartbeat.”

“I have a plan,” He said.

“OK,” I answered.

I called a neighbor who had told me that if we ever wanted to sell it, let her know. In less than 30 minutes the house was sold. Cash. Full price. No inspections. We could take all the time we needed to move. I could not help but see the hand of God in that.

Even though I believed that the Lord had arranged the sale and had us move to the new location on the Birch Bay Lynden Road, I grieved the loss of that house, every day. From the new house I had a view of the busy road. Not only did it have no beauty, it was also noisy. Conversation was impossible on the front porch because of the road noise. I told Tim even before we agreed to buy that property that it would not be permanent. It was not a home. It was business. I grieved the loss of the water view and a place to be quiet before the Lord.

As business prospered through the years. The noise level increased. I fed all the employees at lunch time. They used the house as their break room throughout the day. Customers drove in the driveway. Trucks came in and out. Change was the only constant.

Then in the fall of  2015 Tim and I  moved to this condo on the other side of I never have to move again. But I am the Lord’s bond servant and He may yet have another plan for me.

I still don’t know what his plan for Granddad’s house is. It has been vacant since we moved out 12 years now. It would have failed any inspections in 2005, now it is in ruins.

After Marlene got back in the car we drove down to Semiahmoo, thinking that we would have lunch there. But I was in too much pain. I really could not think about lunch, much less a Mothers’ Day Brunch celebration. We drove back to our place on the Birch Bay Lynden Road.

The next morning while I on the treadmill I heard this song.

“This Ole House”

by  Stuart Hamblen

This ole house once knew his children
This ole house once knew a wife
This ole house was home and comfort
As we fought the storms of life
This old house once rang with laughter
This old house heard many shouts
Now she trembles in the darkness
When the lightnin’ walks about

(Ain’t a-gonna need this house no longer)
(Ain’t a-gonna need this house no more)
Ain’t got time to fix the shingles
Ain’t a-got time to fix the floor
Ain’t got time to oil the hinges
Nor to mend no windowpane
Ain’t a-gonna need this house no longer
I’m a-gettin’ ready to meet the saints

Ain’t a-gonna need this house no longer
I’m a-gettin’ ready to meet the saints

 

As I listened, I thought about Mom’s failing body. She would not need it much longer. The song gave me joy.

When I shared the song with Mom and Marlene, Mom told me that she had painted a picture of a house and put that song title on the picture. She found the picture. The house wasn’t Granddad’s House, but it was on Drayton Harbor Road. The view behind it could be the view from Granddad’s House. The house in the picture was in as deep a state of disrepair as Granddad’s House is.

The picture struck me.

“Ain’t gonna need this house no longer,” it says.

Truth, suddenly, set me free.

“I ain’t a gonna need that house no longer, I ain’t a gonna need that house no more.

“Ain’t got time to fix the shingles, ain’t got time to mend the floors. . . .

“I’m a getting ready to meet the saints!!!”

 

With the truth in my heart, not just my head, I was set free.

With the Lord’s perfect timing he used my fading mother, my sister-in-law’s curiosity, an old song, and a water color painting to set me free of that old house.

When the Lord has set you free, you are free, indeed. Praise God!

this-old-house