Process of forgiveness: Part I–Everyone Sins


We live in a society where taking responsibility for mistakes is becoming obsolete.  How many people go to the courts and admit wrong.  Ninety-five Percent of people showing up before a judge will plead not guilty to what they have been charged with.  It is a sham as people want to get out of admitting fault and seeking ways to avoid the consequences of their destructive ways.

There are two kinds of mistakes that I am talking about.  The first one involves mistakes we make against God.  The bible defines these mistakes as sin.  Sin can be defined as either actively or passively going against what God wants us to do.  We may know what He wants and choose to actively go against His wishes, or we may not know what He wants and do and choose to do our own thing without knowing what He wants.  Either way, we are choosing our own path versus seeking His guidance.

The second kind of mistake involves choices against someone we know and have had interaction with.  It may be something we have said that wasn’t healthy or something we did, or even an unhealthy attitude.  Anything what causes us to be disconnected with another person is defined as sin.

Solomon, one of the wisest persons to have walked the earth, became King of Israel thousands of years ago.  When he first became King he wrote about this whole process of forgiveness so that those under his leadership would heed his advice and stay away from environments that involve disconnection from the Lord or from one another.  In this passage, I see 5 parts that are essential for experiencing forgiveness from the Lord and from one another.

The first part involves the recognition that everyone makes mistakes in their life.  Everyone sins.  Solomon is talking to the Lord when he says, “When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to a land far away or near; and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captivity and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong and acted wickedly’; and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their captivity where they were taken, and pray toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and toward the temple I have built for your Name; then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their pleas, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people, who have sinned against you. (2 Chronicles 6:36-39 NIV)

In order for us to experience forgiveness from the Lord or from one another, we need to recognize our contribution to the disconnection we are experiencing from Him or from one another.  John in the New Testament writes in I John 1:8, “If we say we have not sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. . .”  It’s easy to point out the flaws in others and blame others for our present circumstances, but much more difficult to look at our own mistakes and admit our contribution to the problems and the disconnects with the Lord or with others.

On this journey, for you to truly be healed in your relationships with God or with those you truly love on this earth, the first step when your are disconnected from them is to admit your inadequacy and mistakes–your sin.

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Past Enemy Resurfaced


Last night in our small group, one person was talking about a huge hawk they had encountered in their back yard.  We had a similar situation months ago, but the hawk no longer came into our back yard.  Our dog Monte hated this hawk and went crazy when this hawk would come and sit on a limb and caw and caw at him.  We began to focus on other topics and never thought a thing about it.

Until this morning.  I was in the kitchen making a cup of coffee and Monty started going crazy again at the sliding glass door.  I let him out and he went straight for the back fence where two of these birds were sitting.

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Needless to say, they flew away but he continued to bark for a few minutes.  He and I had thought that they no longer came into his yard to bother him.  It had been months since their last visit.  Yet this morning they came back to bug him.  No, not to bug him but to antagonize him.

Isn’t that similar to what happens to us.  We have a problem in our lives that we seek to remove from our lives and seem to gain victory and move on.  Then one day, out of the blue, it surfaces again in our lives and we experience the same reaction we had to it months earlier.  The hawk in our life could take various forms.  Alcohol.  Pornography.  An irritating person.  A fetish.  Bad habit.  Reactions we have to other people we don’t  like.  A qualitiy that we have tried to cut out in our lives that resurfaces.  We all have hawks that come to distort healthy thinking and living.

Jesus talked about this problem in John 10:10 where he says that a thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.  The hawk destroyed Monty’s calm demeanor this morning and our hawks come to alter the principles that God wants us to follow.  If we stop our focus and dwell on this concept, we will always experience hawks that take our attention away from our greatest purpose in life.

As you read the rest of John 10:10, Jesus responds to this dilemma by saying, “. . .but I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.”  We have a choice to focus on the God that has come to bring us an abundant life.  The hawk or the Lord.  My choice.

Monty is a dog and operates instinctually.  He sees the hawk and he reacts instinctually.  We are humans and we have been given a choice of whether to focus on the temptations of life, or on the one who wants to give us life and give it abundantly

On this journey I know that hawks fly around me on a regular basis, but I am choosing to focus on the One who has the power to transform my mind and perspective and urge you this day to do the same.

 

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We Did Not Inquire Of Him


David, King of Israel, was known as a man after God’s heart.  Whenever David thought about doing something, he would first inquire of the Lord before taking any steps to fulfill what he had in mind.  Almost all of David’s battles were initiated with prayer in seeking out what the Lord wanted him to do.  If David thought of connecting with someone, he would first seek the Lord to get direction from the One who knew ALL the answers to his questions.  He sought the Lord and His counsel for whatever circumstance he encountered.  On two different occasions when he was fighting the Philistines, he sought the Lord and the first time the Lord told him to directly attack the Philistines and on the second inquiry, the Lord told him to circle around from behind to gain the victory (I Chronicles 14:8-14).  He was a man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22)

In I Chronicles we find a side road that David took when seeking the Lord for guidance.  After he had become King, David had a wonderful idea to bring the Ark of the Lord back to the city of Jerusalem to be placed where God had established it.  The past king, Saul, was defeated by the Philistines and in the process of being defeated the Ark was also taken.

David was excited to bring the Ark back to Jerusalem. But he didn’t inquire of the Lord in the transportation of the Ark.  Instead of carrying the Ark by poles, they put it on a cart.  When the oxen that were carrying the Ark stumbled, Uzza put out his hand to steady the Ark and died because he didn’t treat the Ark as holy.  Here is a man after God’s heart, and yet there were times that David didn’t seek the Lord for His plan.  Consequences occurred.  Negative consequences occurred.  David was angry at God for taking Uzza’s life, but he hadn’t taken stock about the reason for the death of Uzza.

About three months later, David has a different perspective on the situation when he writes,  “It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the Lord our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.” (1 Chronicles 15:13 NIV)  God is interested in the big things of life when we are dealing with major wars needing to be fought, but He is also interested in the small details of life when we are facing the need to transport something or someone and wants us to inquire of Him.

I can see in my life that when I have sought the Lord on various situations and circumstances that have come my way, the Lord has given great victory and direction to my circumstances.  Unfortunately there have been more situations than I can count where I didn’t seek the Lord and it ended up disastrously.

On this journey, God is interested in giving guidance and direction in the big things of life as well as in the small things.  It is our choice as to whether to bring Him into our lives or seek our own way.  I prefer the former.

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108 Today. I Love It


Yesterday was the start of consistent 105-115 degree weather here in Phoenix for the next few months and I love it. Some of you are saying that I am crazy and a few of you are agreeing with me because you like the hot weather.  But I don’t love the hot weather for the hot weather. What? Some of you are thinking the hot weather has gotten to my mind as my thoughts don’t make sense. But bear with me a minute

It’s not the green grass that turns to brown and then dies under the sweltering sun that I like. It’s not the pool that turns into a bathtub in the summer and doesn’t give reprieve on a hot day.  It’s not the blistering steering wheel that you grab onto when your car has been parked in the sun for a couple of hours and you can’t reset your hands on the wheel to drive that I love.  It’s not the $200-$300 more in electric bills that we have to pay for in the summer that I love.  It’s not the physical drain that the unending heat gives to your body that I love.  It’s not the feeling that this heat will never end that I love.

So what is it.  You are probably saying that I’m sounding off my rocker now.  It’s what I see every year during this time that I fall in love with over and over.  What is it?  It’s the birth of baby quail.

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Yesterday as I was driving into our community, I passed by the gate and had to stop as a mother and father quail ran across the road.  When they are together, you can be assured that there are some babies not far behind.  And I was right, only these babies had been hatched only a few days earlier.  One came across, and then another and then another until the last two passed across the road.  The problem for them was that they couldn’t hop the curb like the mother, father and three of their siblings did.  After the third try, the fourth found his way into the bushes, but the last one couldn’t make the leap.  He tried several times and then would run back and forth along the curb to see if there was another way to get over it.  You could see the franticness he was displaying being separated from his family.  After the 9th try, he finally made it and ran under the bush of a mother and father who waited for him.

I stayed there until he was safe and felt some responsibility to make sure that no car would come along and run over my little friend.  It was a great experience to witness as I am reminded of Matthew 10:29 where it says that not one sparrow falls to the ground without the knowledge of the Father.  He cares for every quail born and He cares for everything that happens to us.  What a comfort we can gain by plugging into that perspective today.

On this journey, take time to look and appreciate His creation and see life from a different perspective.

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Dual Worship


I was reading in II Kings 17 this morning and something caught my eye.  Let me set the stage of what was happening.  The king of Assyria had defeated the Israelite nation and had taken many of them captive back to his country.  He then took other nations that he had conquered and had them settle in the Israelite nation including people from Babylon, Kuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharviam.  The chaos that was created caused the Assyrian King to call a priest from Israel to journey back to the land and teach the people the rules that God required for the land to be at peace.

The priest went back and did the very thing that the King of Assyria had commanded the priest to do.  What ensued caused me to ponder what was happening during that time as well as think about what is happening today.  It says in II Kings 17:41, “Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols.  To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did.”

I went to the dictionary to define idol and it says, “An idol is an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed or any person or thing regarded with admiration, adoration or devotion.” (Wikipedia)  We don’t have deities for the most part in Christian circles except for the Lord God.  What is interesting though in the rest of the definition is the phrase, “any person or thing regarded with admiration, adoration, or devotion.”

My mind began to think of the devotion we have in our society for social media such as Facebook, texting, twitter, the internet, games, etc.  When you go to a restaurant, you often find people eating together, but there is total silence.  I once timed a couple who sat down for lunch and they didn’t talk with one another for 25 minutes while they both were on their phones.  They had a total devotion to the phone rather than interacting with their significant other.

Watching TV and especially sports on TV is my greatest temptation.  This last fall when the football season came on, I sat and watched 5 games consecutively on one particular Saturday.  I had little to no interaction with my family and at the end of the day, I had blown opportunities to connect with them watching sports. There was no profit for me when I began to analyze the day, and I lost opportunities for doing other things with people I love.  I determined that I needed to take control of my schedule and time, or others and things would.

I believe that all of us are tempted to put people or things in that idol class and cause us to slip into a dual worship.  Watching sports on TV is not in itself wrong, but when we begin to become devoted to it, it causes us to slip into a dual worship mentality.  Idols can take many forms in our society.  We can idolize our children and put them above anything and everybody else.  It can be a myriad of things.  Shopping.  Boating.  Fishing.  Reading.  Serving.  Etc.  An idol is anything or anyone that causes us to become unbalanced in our priorities in life.

Spending daily time with the Lord can be a buffer for us so that He can convict us when we are leaning too much toward idol worship.  It’s good to take a periodic evaluation of our lives and the way we spend our time so that we don’t develop a dual worship.

The last sentence in that passage is revealing.   Whatever we do becomes an example for future generations to follow.  We are building a legacy every day by the choices we are making in the way we spend our time and the devotion and admiration we have for people and things around us.

On this journey be careful of pitfalls and temptations that can cause us to develop double vision.  Our next generation is watching.

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Tyler Has Graduated


Tyler Has Graduated Last Thursday was a memorable experience when our son graduated from Desert Mountain High School.  He was accepted to 15 of the 16 schools he applied to for this coming fall semester and chose Whitworth University.  We are so proud of his accomplishments and look forward to his future contribution to this world Congratulation Tyler.

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No Accountability


Graduation has come and has gone for Desert Mountain High School.  Tyler is no longer a high school student but is preparing for entering his freshman year at Whitworth University in Spokane Washington.  Carter finished his junior year at Desert Mountain and is waiting for his final year to follow in the steps of his brother and four siblings that went before  him.

Carter and I had an interesting conversation the other day as he was chosen by the departing seniors in charge of the wolf den (or cheer team or pep team as we used to call them) for all the athletic teams at Desert Mountain starting fall 2014.  Carter was chosen to lead this team for his senior year, but the team had a problem.  The past leaders had collected money for things they sold to the Desert Mountain students and had pocketed the money in their own bank accounts.  This action lead the principal of the senior class to call the IRS to investigate the fraud that was going on for this school group.

Carter was concerned and decided to meet with the principal to talk about what could be done to re-establish trust for the wolf den as they prepared to cheer on the teams for the coming year.  You see, there was no accountability and no trustworthiness built in the past leaders and Carter wanted to right a very damaged ship from the past.

It reminds me of the passage I read this morning in II Kings12:1-15.  It is a story of King Joash who had been selected to become king of Judah and was in charge of rebuilding the temple.  He appointed priests to collect the money given by individuals who in turn were to give it to people who would then give it to the workers.  The problem arose when Joash realized that the temple wasn’t getting built because no money was being given to those who were to give it to the workers.  He stepped in and told the priests to stop collecting money but to do what he told them to do.

The passage that caught my attention was verse 15 which said, “They (those who were to give it to the workers) did not require an accounting from those to whom they gave the money to pay the workers, because they acted with complete honesty.”  They acted with complete honesty.  What a testimony to a true character quality.  COMPLETE HONESTY.  When we are totally honest, we don’t need to be accountable because everything that we do is according to what we say we are going to do.  It’s what the New Testament writer says when he communicates the phrase, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.”  These workers were people of their word.  What would happen in our relationships or our work if we were people of our word and lived with the phrase “complete honesty” tattooed  on our daily lifestyle.

On this journey we have the privilege of changing certain characteristics in our lives and working on building new characteristics into our lives.  Complete honesty is a good one to take on.

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