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Archive for April, 2011

This is it; this is the last thing on the list he thought as he jumped out of a perfectly good airplane at the altitude of eleven thousand feet. A parachuting instructor was strapped to his back for the tandem jump as he flew towards the earth at breakneck speed. This was so cool; John had always wanted to do this, now he could say he had. A videographer had jumped with them at the same time, and was filming Johns jump and the various expressions of happiness and surprise on John’s face. It was his first, and would be his last.

John had set out to fulfill a “bucket list” of things he wanted to do before he died. You see, John was diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer last fall, and given less than a year. The first six months, he felt nothing, no pain. In fact, he felt healthy as he set out to put a check by all the things he had always wanted to do before he died.

His wife didn’t understand why he wanted to go off about the world checking off this doggone punch card, when he could be at home with his family, but she didn’t stand in his way, and he left. First stop was the Caribbean, he was going to learn to dive, and explore the reefs off of Cozumel and the Gran Caymans. One trip after another, some with friends, some solo until he found himself here, at eleven thousand feet with the final check left to be marked, the list complete.

Riding back to the airport, be pulled the list out and made the check, completing all. He looked over the list, mentally replaying each and every adventure, skiing in the Alps, hiking on the Appalachian Trail, watching a space shuttle liftoff, all things he had always dreamed of, and now had done. He folded the list and placed it back in his jacket pocket, a mildly unsettling feeling coming over him. John had been trying to fill a hole, an emptiness inside by doing this bucket list thing. He figured he deserved to do all of those things, he had worked hard for thirty five years and would now never see retirement, didn’t he have it coming?

That was a month ago, my how time flies he thought as he stared at the ceiling. Soaring through the air like an eagle one month, dying in a hospital bed the next. It reminded John of the television commercial that say’s “life comes at you fast” because it really does. The pain had flooded in two weeks after the parachuting thing and only gotten worse. Sally wasn’t there when he returned from his adventure trip, and he hadn’t seen her since. She was staying with her mother, the kids were at college. He had tried to call her several times, but her mother wouldn’t put her through. “Now John, you have broken this girl’s heart for the last six months while you drained your savings chasing your pursuits, and it has to stop now.”

As he drifted off to sleep in a cloud of morphine, God was kind to him and sent him the sweetest dreams. He remembered having to win Sally back in college, she was dating someone else. He dreamed of their first little tiny apartment. He dreamed of the morning that Sally came in grinning ear to ear and announced that they would soon be three, and how they both laughed, then cried joyfully at the thought of being parents. He dreamed the time when the doctor handed Amber to him for the first time, and he fell deeply in love with his daughter at first sight. He dreamed of sitting at Josh’s little league games and standing up cheering for him when he got a hit. Visions of the four of them camping in the mountains, sitting around the fire ring together blessed his mind. He dreamed about when he had held Sally tight and comforted her when Josh left for college and they became empty nesters, and she wondered what was in store for someone who had spent her life being a mommy, when the kids were gone.

A sharp pain brought him out of his sleep and back into reality again, he looked down at the rolling table that contained his dinner. The bucket list sat at one end folded open. He picked it up and looked it over, somehow all of the adventure had gone from the listings, this list he had worked on for so long now meant no more than a discarded grocery list after a trip to the store. The list was filled with things he had done mostly alone. When had life gotten all about him? He didn’t know, but he felt truly alone, and that hole he had been trying to fill was still there. He wadded the list into a ball and threw it at the trash can at the end of his bed. He then picked up the phone and called Sally’s mother just once more, but this time with a different message. When she answered, tension clearly in her voice, he calmly apologized for the things he had done, how he had harmed their family, and asked forgiveness. There was silence on the other end of the phone and then Sally came on and said hello. Sally was shocked to find out that he was back, and pained to hear that her mother hadn’t told her John was in the hospital, she hurried right over. Over the next two days, Amber and Josh came home from college on emergency leave, and the family spent a lot of time together.

On the evening of the last day, John could no longer talk and felt as though he were being pulled backward out of his own body, he knew it was the end and that he was saved, he just wanted to stay a little bit longer. He looked into the faces of his family and his heart warmed, and all of the precious memories flooded back in, the kids on the trampoline, Sally goofy golfing with him, late night scrabble as a family. He never even thought about how it felt to climb Kilimanjaro or dive a reef, he couldn’t have cared less about the list. He felt a tap on his shoulder and someone he couldn’t see said c’mon, it’s time. He let go and felt himself being pulled into the light and a new and wonderful future.

This Story is Fiction

God Bless-JFT

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I am feeling stronger, this is day four in a row back in the saddle since being sick for nearly two months. Before getting sick, we were doing this hard-core ride a few times a week and I was getting into the rhythm, then bam, I was sick. I was glad to be back at it.

The ride was nine point one miles, beginning to end, and the first half as uphill, mostly steep and painful if you are trying to get back into the swing of things, but today it wasn’t too bad.

I was not walking uphill much, but riding through the tough spots as I became more conditioned. Two of my close brothers in Christ were with me, Mike a neighbor down the street, and Eric from the weekly men’s Bible study I attend. Eric is just getting back into things also, so we are more closely matched, Mike is conditioned and used to this, he is in great shape. Don’t get bored yet, I am just setting the stage for the rest of this story, which is true by the way.

The great thing about this ride is that, while the first half is all-uphill, the (back nine) as I like to call it is all down hill. The downhill part of the ride is about three and a half miles of downhill, which is amazing if you like adrenaline, which I must confess I/we do. I always go a little slower on the back half than my cohorts, because much of it is through cactus forests of varying kinds, none pleasant to crash into on a mountain bike. I always tell Mike to think about it, one wrong move and they will be removing cactus quills from him for the next ten years.

Thursday, I was feeling particularly strong and aggressive on the mountain, so I pushed it a bit more than usual, I rode uphill stronger, and was more aggressive than normal on the downhill. It was so fun, being out in nature, temp was dry and 90, nice Santa Ana breeze in our faces as we just cut loose. As I neared the end of the trail I poured it on a little heavier still, feeling my oats. Mike was right behind me, Eric a ways in front. In a split second going down toward a ravine, I felt my rear tire lose purchase in the loose rock and begin to slide. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to know that I was going down and it wasn’t going to be pretty. I was headed front first into a bunch of rocks at the top of a deep ravine, and there was no stopping it, so I did what I was trained decades ago to do, roll to your back and hope for the best.

The impact was horrible, torn skin, large rocks tearing flesh, gravel ground into skin, and the hard impact on my shoulder and ribs. Cloudy headed, can’t think, not sure what’s going on, Mike is at my side, asking me questions. I can feel blood going down my leg, and my shirt has been ripped open in back. I am not able to move for a while. Finally I roll onto my side to reveal my back and arm, the look on Mike’s face says it all, and the news is not good. Another biker comes up and tells us he is a medic and would like to help. They cut off large parts of my shirt, and irrigated my wounds, (road Rash), and start trying to think about how to get me out of there. We still had over 3 miles to go, and I decided to ride out. I was able to mount up and continue on, although in a world of hurt.

I made it home, and my girls tended to the rest of my wounds cutting my shirt off and cleaning them the best they could, but I needed a Dr. So I went in and got x-rayed up and patched up. I had large areas of road rash and heavy bruising, and a few cracked ribs, but I would live. Frustrated at the progress I had made, and the setback I had endured, I decided this setback was not going to take me out of the game.

The next morning, I put on my helmet, gloves and hit it again, I took it light and did about six and a half miles. I as glad I did it afterwards, although I hurt every step of the way.

The reason I chose to share this experience is because I think it is actually one more common to all of us. What happens to you may be that you work to be the best at what you do at the office, only to be let go and replaced by a younger less qualified person. You give all you have to be a good spouse and your mate still chooses to run off with another. We all crash and burn sometimes, but those times determine what we are made of. Do we throw a pity party for ourselves or get back on that bicycle, or horse, or job, or marriage and continue to give it all we have got, or do we give up.

A very wise pastor once told me, every great achievement is usually countered by a great temptation, or a great downfall. The devil doesn’t want us to succeed, he wants us to crash and burn, to give up, to be discouraged. If we give in to that rotten deceiver then he has truly won. When we face challenges of all kinds, we must turn to God in prayer, dust off our britches and get right back to it, don’t give him and inch. So the next time you get thrown by that horse of life, and find yourself bruised and battered, get back up and climb back on. The following is one of my favorite scriptures, because it makes everything clear, and makes sense of those times when we “crash and burn”. 

James 1:2-4, Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

God Bless

JFT

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The cold wind blew as I trudged up the dark road and the light snow had begun to fall. Surrounded by such harsh beauty, yet at the end of my rope. I have twenty miles to walk before the next services, and things don’t look good, the storm is looming around me, I can almost hear Satan’s demons heckling me as I walk forward into the storm. The interstate must have been closed miles back because of the storm, there are no longer any vehicles going by, and I no longer have any hitchhiking prospects.

I think back over my life as I trudge on, what a train wreck. I married early on, and had a couple of kids, that marriage fizzled not long after our little girl was born she took off with them, and I haven’t seen them since. Second and third marriages were short and not so sweet, filled with much screaming, shouting, and quest for materialism. I got into a church then, rededicated my life to God and began to try to live right.

I was doing well at work on the docks, making good money, and I bought a house, with the plan that I would look up my kids and try to get some time with them. Everywhere I looked was a dead end, there was no finding them, it was as if they had dropped off the earth. I started dating a woman I had met a while back, and she wanted to move in with me. When I told her that I couldn’t do it because it was wrong, she reminded me I had already been married three times, what did I have to lose? That was the last time I saw her.

The rest is just history now, the heavy shipping warehouse I worked at for twenty-five years closed down. The executives raided our pension fund, and I left with nothing.

I job-hunted constantly, but there were none to be found, everyone was laying off. It was just a matter of months until I lost my house. I had garage sale after garage sale to try to raise money, but it was just pennies on the dollar. I sold my car and was then officially homeless.

Life on the street is hard, I began to drink a bit too much as I slept behind buildings with other miserable people who were either in similar shoes, or mentally ill and forgotten.

The booze was just a balm for the pain of failure, not a cure, and you generally wound up worse afterward than if you hadn’t drank, but hindsight is twenty-twenty.

The snow is getting deeper now, and I can barely make out the shoulder of the interstate, there are no ruts in the snow, it is flat. It has been an hour since a car has come by. Why am I here, in the middle of no-where in a snowstorm you are probably asking?  When I was a kid, Flagstaff Arizona was my favorite place in the world, the tall forest, the beautiful mountains; I had always wanted to live there. My whole life has been a failure, one after another. I have never pleased my wives, my kids, my parents, my employers, and most certainly my God. When you are at rock bottom, you are reduced to your most base self, and that self wants to be up in the mountains just one more time. I always felt closer to God when I was here, maybe I can again.

It has to be close to midnight, I am tired of walking in the deep snow, so I leave the road and head for a large tree just off the road. I take my pack off and lean up against the tree. For a moment, the snow stops falling and the moon appears between the clouds, lighting up the most beautiful landscape possible. I look around me at the beauty until the blanket is pulled back over the moon, and the snow commences. I hear scurrying off in the trees and imagine it is Satan’s minions come to collect me for the short ride down. Then, the most amazing thing happens, I become warm inside, and I begin to pray to God. I asked Him to please let me have the lowest place in His kingdom, anything to just be a part of Heaven. I prayed so hard it reminded me of when I first became a Christian, when I would pray in bed until I fell asleep. With my head in my hands, I prayed until I  lost track of all time.

I was jarred by something, and I stirred. I must have fallen asleep because it was daytime now, bright sunlight through my fingers. I raised my head and looked up, a kindly looking old bearded man stood there looking at me, not speaking, not smiling, but actually with tears in His eyes. The snow was all gone, and so was the interstate, but everything else was the same. I was not cold anymore either as I stood up and looked down, I was dressed all in white, and my backpack was gone. I looked up at the kindly old man who was teary eyed, and He ran to me and threw His arms around me and hugged me with surprising strength. Son, He said, let me show you your new home, and He led the way.

God Bless

JFT

This story is fiction

When God Ran-Phillips Craig and Dean

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Sam sat nervously in his office, several of his large clients were coming in today to meet with him, and they had not given him an agenda on the meeting. When they arrived, pleasantries were exchanged; they sat down, and dispensed with their kindness immediately. They wanted something that Sam had told them was impossible several times, but they just would not let up. You see, Sam owns a franchise to a large insurance company, and while he has some freedom, he does have constraints from corporate on some items.

The clients Kept on, even when Sam told them he just couldn’t do it. Then the meeting got worse; they said they were willing to bring in their legal team to leverage him with a lawsuit if he didn’t give in to their demands. Sam was shocked. The exec’s left the room and even threw out a deadline for him to comply. He placed his head in his hands and thought, “what can I do”. The accounts were large; they would definitely affect his payday if he did not comply with their demands, not to mention legal fees. What they were demanding was wrong, it wasn’t what they had agreed to, it was just morally wrong. Sam reached across his desk and picked up the phone, he called his brother in Christ, a friend in whom he could seek counsel.

The exec’s walked back into Sam’s office, smug smiles on their faces. They knew Sam would comply, in this economy, he would be a fool to say no. Plus, he had called them back so soon, there was no way it would be no. Sam shook hands all around as they sat, and then shuffled some folders around on his desk, then handed a folder to each one of the three exec’s. He then stated that he had decided to release them from their contracts. Integrity is not only important at home, but at work also, and when faced with doing business in an underhanded way, he had decided he would rather have less money and sleep well at night. He then stood and held out his hand again, “good day, gentlemen”, as the stunned exec’s rose as if in a trance, and Sam ushered them out of his office.

Adjustments to the budget would have to be made until he could replace the clients, but they could handle it. A peace undoubtedly provided by the Holy Spirit came over Sam and he stopped being concerned about it then and there, He knew God had his back.

1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV)   do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

 

So what would have happened if Sam had chosen the other path and had made changes to the contract just to accommodate the execs? The contract is not unlike a covenant between two parties. Had Sam broken his company rules, fudged on the paperwork a bit, and given them the farm, what then? Next time it would be something else, and Sam would have been less likely to say no. It gets easier and easier to use the loopholes in life once you have taken advantage of them. It gets easier and easier to get your way on a technicality if that is the path you choose.

My belief is that every time we utilize a loophole, every time we utilize a technicality, a little piece of our integrity floats away. Once you have lost your integrity with others, it is very hard to get back with people. Trust lost is easier to regain than integrity lost, and without integrity, will anyone listen to you when you want to share the gospel?

Where are you, when faced with what Sam was faced with, would you let the paycheck go and “know” that God will take care of you, or would you cling to the money? It is very easy to talk about faith, about morals, but when we find ourselves on the firing line, we need to remember God allows His people to be tested. He will allow us to be tested also, the question is, will we pass?

God Bless

JFT

This story (fiction) based loosely on real events.

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I would tell you my name, but that would not be wise. I am a pastor, a pastor of a large church in Beijing China. We have many members, and things are getting increasingly tough. I say that as I am ferried to the local jail in the back of a prisoner transport vehicle, handcuffed to a steel ring. My crime is spreading the Word of God.

Sometimes being a Christ follower means being bold, stepping up and walking face-first into the line of fire, trusting God will either deliver you, or give you the strength to endure what is coming, and that is what we did today.

Churches always grow much more under persecution than they do in a free society, I don’t really understand why, but that is how it is. Our church, which is known as the Shouwang Church is no exception. We began meeting in my home a few years back. Always careful of the police who are dedicated to breaking up and arresting worshippers. We grew to fifty, then a hundred, then we began holding dual services at our home to accommodate everyone, but when you do that, you have to worry about arousing suspicion of police, and neighbors loyal to the communist government. It is hard to have a couple hundred people coming and going at your home each week and not drawing attention.

A couple of years ago, we put what money we had together and purchased a building that was going to be our new church. When we went to take possesion of the building, the developer refused to give us access, he said the government had warned him not to accommodate us. It was “our” building, yet we were locked out, and the government was onto us now. We went back to meeting in secret until we could pull some money together again and start over.

Finally we raised enough money and rented a vacant restaurant to use as a meeting house. It was perfect for what we needed. We began meeting there regularly, and everything was great. Our church grew and grew beyond our wildest hopes. We now had over a thousand members, and we were holding four services a week, considering a fifth as the building was full at every service. But then, the owner told us we must leave, we were no longer welcome on his property. The government had pressured him into evicting us. Once again, we were a church without a home.

Deciding to face the fire, we made the announcement that we would be meeting openly, in an outdoor public venue. We warned the members of the possible outcome, that we would probably be arrested, and that it would be fine if they chose to stay at home.

The police were a step ahead of us, they had the whole area we had planned to meet cordoned off and barricaded, so we chose a park to meet in. As one of our young men prepared to lead us in an opening prayer, an NPR reporter interviewed him and asked if he felt it was worth it to be arrested. His answer was “As long as they don’t hang any other labels on me,” he replied. “If they say I was detained for my faith, it would be worth it.”

 

When all was said and done, a total of one hundred sixty nine of us were arrested for an illegal church meeting. It is happening more and more these days, Christians disappearing in China, some come back, some don’t. There are now over one hundred twenty million of us meeting behind closed doors, meeting covertly to study God’s word. We still don’t know what we will do, but we trust God will point us in the direction we need to go. One thing is certain though, one thing is sure. Our faith is non-negotiable and we “will” continue to meet in worship to our Lord, whatever the cost.

God Bless-JFT

The events in this story are true, inspired by tribulations currently beng endured by the Shouwang Church in Beijing China.

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In two different places, a seed was planted, and it fell on fertile ground and new life began. As time passed and they both grew separately, their needs were the same, shelter and nourishment. When it came time for them to enter the world, they both came in discreetly. One in a barn, one in a forest. As time passed, the one who was born in a barn was subject to a more turbulent life, having to move from place to place to stay safe. First here, then there, you see, rumors had been started about Him, it was rumored that He was destined to be royalty. It was rumored that He actually was royalty, but that He just waited to claim His throne. So He was unsafe, He became hunted even as a child. The incumbent kings felt threatened by a child king, so they put a bounty out on Him, but that changed nothing, He was still born to be a King.

Now the other little fellow had quite a less climactic life, spending his days in the bright sunshine of his forest home. He loved his home and his peers in his forest home, but there were rumors about him too. It was said that he was special also, it was said that he had been created for one sole purpose. He had been created to carry royalty. He had been created to carry the savior of the world. He wasn’t quite sure what that meant, would he be fashioned into a fine carriage, would he be made into a chariot, he had no idea. He just knew what the rumors were; he had no idea how they would be carried out.

As the boy king grew into a man, He finally understood the ins and out’s of the great plan in which he was involved. It was a huge honor and also at the same time, a great burden that had been bestowed on Him by His Father. Sometimes when He thought about it the icicles rose up His spine, knowing what lie ahead for Him, and he would ask His Father for a reprieve, knowing full well that He had to go through with it to fulfill the scriptures. If He were going to be the King, if He were going to be the Savior, it had to be done.

One bright and sunny day in the forest, the little tree had become a forest giant; it now towered over all the other trees in the grove. It swayed softly in the breeze, contemplating the day when it noticed a group of men coming through the forest towards it. They were carrying axes and logging equipment, and they led many mules behind them also. The giant tree began to become excited now, thinking its time had come; it would now fulfill the task it was planted for. As the loggers swung their axes mightily at his base he wondered again what his shape and fashion would be. A fancy carriage, fit for a king? That is what he decided they were going to make out of him, as he felt them axe through his center. Before long, one of them shouts “timber” and he falls to the forest floor, but if trees could smile, he was grinning, his “real” life was about to begin.

The young man didn’t feel very royal as the Pharisees mocked Him and tried to trip Him up with trick questioning. These were supposed to be His people, yet they were a “brood of vipers” that had perverted His Fathers laws. He didn’t feel much like a king when they led Him before Pilate for judgment and His friends deserted Him. He didn’t feel royal when the people chose to release a murderer from prison if they would instead crucify Him, what was the deal with these folks. This wasn’t how the world treated most kings He had seen, but a king he was. His Father had created everything; God was supreme King, which indeed made Him a prince. Yet He was not treated like a prince.

The giant tree didn’t understand, they didn’t fashion anything fancy at all, no carriage, no chariot, just two coarse beams notched in such a way that they interlocked, A wedge was placed on the lower half of the longer piece. He was shocked at the waste that was made of his fine wood, how they had just cut out the two beams and the wedge, leaving most of the rest behind to rot. One of the lumberjacks cut a slab off of the remaining log and joked that it would be just the right size for a sign for the “King of the Jews”. The tree was shocked, the jacks had mentioned a king, but it was obvious he wasn’t going to be any kind of carriage now, He didn’t understand.

The two met on a hill, The young king was laid down against the coarse wood and the heavy nails were driven in, piercing not only the young King, but the tree that had grown to carry Him. The young man cried out each time as the Romans swung the heavy hammer, driving the nails through His royal body. Each time a nail was driven in, the kings blood would pour out and mix with the sap from the giant tree. A Roman joked as they nailed the sign above His head, and the tree finally understood. The tree was set into place on top of the hill for the long six hours it would take for the King to fulfill His destiny. The tree finally knew the rumors it had heard since its germination were true, He had been created to carry the royalty, and he was carrying the Savior of the world.

God Bless-JFT

Oh the wonderful cross, Chris Tomlin

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How could you say that to me, the young woman said as she reeled, tears of hurt streaming down her face. Surely he couldn’t love her if he was able to say something like that to his wife. He looked down defiantly and said nothing to her, made no attempt to ease her hurt. She wheeled and went into the bedroom, closing the door behind her, he heard her set the lock. She was so hurt by what he had said, how could things ever be the same again. It was going to be a long night, as a new scar was formed.

One year later, He is a changed man in many ways, he no longer drinks, he treats her well, and they are for the most part happy. She can’t seem to be as open and trusting as she was before the night that they had that big fight, things had never been the same. She figured it would just take some time to get over it, to forgive and forget. One day she would maybe be able to let it go, just not today

A different girl, her car wouldn’t start, she tried in vain to get it going but it just wouldn’t turn over. She looked at her watch and saw it was already after eleven, and knew her dad would be worried, probably angry. Along about eleven thirty a kindly man gave her a jump, her battery was dead because she had left her headlights on. She pulled into the drive at eleven forty-five and knew right away it was going to be a bad night. Her fathers concern burned away right before her eyes and was replaced with pure rage. He screamed at her about every mistake she had ever made and how she could not even be trusted to be in before a simple curfew. She tried to explain what happened with the battery but he wasn’t buying any of it, his mind was made up, she was guilty.

As she went to her room, tears streaming down her face she hated him for not trusting her, and another scar was born.

Twenty years later, it is thanksgiving and the family is gathering, she dreads being around her family. Her dad is not a hothead anymore, but every time she sees him, she sees him angrily shouting at her. She limits the time she and her family spend over there because she has decided she will never give him a shot at redemption, forgiveness has never come to her, and it never will. It is much easier to hang on to anger and hurt and let it nurse us along, let the hate keep us warm, than to let it go and give someone the same forgiveness that has been extended to us.

Forgiveness has been a theme that I have written about frequently, maybe because it is so integral to my salvation. My salvation would not exist without it, none of ours would. Yet forgiveness is not a simple subject, there are many facets to forgiveness. There is the wonderful feeling of absolution when we sincerely apologize to someone and ask his or her forgiveness. There is the facet of forgiveness that deals with requesting forgiveness, but not being forgiven, which will sometimes happen. When this occurs we move on, a sincere apology is adequate whether it is accepted or not.

Then there is the facet of being the person who is offering forgiveness to another. Is there a limit to how many times we are to forgive another? Seventy times seven is a lot of times, I think the point is that we are supposed to pull forgiveness from a bottomless well for those who offend us, as forgiveness has been pulled from a bottomless well of Christ’s blood to forgive us our trespasses.

In short, it really takes a lot of energy to stay angry at people for long periods of time, yet our world is full of people doing just that, many of them Christ followers to boot. I know I have been the guy who has uttered thoughtless words to my wife before, and hope she would forgive me for them. I know I have been the father who has provoked his children to wrath before, and hoped that they would forgive me for that also. So think about this next time someone wrongs you. Should you jump up and offer a hasty forgiveness? Do you have to wait till you see their remorse before you forgive them? I will leave it to the scriptures to answer that question.

Acts 7:59-60  While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

Luke 23:34   Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Stephen was being stoned to death by people who were cursing, humiliating, and murdering him, yet he cried out for their forgiveness. Jesus hung on the cross, nails in each wrist, through the top of both feet, after being flogged and having a crown of thorns shoved on His head. They were spitting on Him, hurling things at Him, cursing Him, and were definitely not repentant, yet He cried out to God for their forgiveness.

These scriptures scream to me that grudges are wrong, hanging onto hurt, hate, anger for years, even decades does nothing but drive a wedge between us and others, not to mention a wedge between us and God. Not only that, but it screams to me that we need to forgive quickly, even while we are still being wronged. Talk about a tough idea to wrap your mind around, but that is what “I” get from the scriptures. I suppose we can all afford to cut each other a bit more slack. God Bless

JFT

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