Forgiveness Required

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.  Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’  In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.  This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”   Jesus, Mt 18:33-35

To the extent that I receive forgiveness I have it to give.  The verses above are the conclusion of  an illustration regarding heaven that Jesus told. (Mt 18:23-35)  In it we learn of someone who experiences the freedom of being forgiven without ever truly receiving it.  When I find it difficult to forgive, if I recount the forgiveness that I have received it gets easier.

The point I want to leave with you today, is that, although forgiveness may be hard, it is essential.  Work at it, re-affirm your forgiveness of those who trespass against you.  I know it’s hard; personally I have had to work at and re-affirm my decision to forgive daily for months and months when an offense has been great.  Truth be told, I still have to re-affirm years later when I’m reminded again.  Along the way it feels like I’m just going through the motions but eventually my heart begins to change as I internalize and express the mercy and grace God continues to given me.  Unforgiveness is a burden that sucks the life out of you; it’s a deadly poison.  I want to encourage you to embark on a journey of forgiveness so that you can be set free –It may be a long and difficult journey, but you’re worth it!

I pray that God gives you the grace to start today.

Two by Two

Two of every creature that has the breath of life in it came to Noah and entered the ark. Gen 7:15 CSB

Consider: The whole world knew Noah was building the ark. No doubt he was the brunt of many jokes over the 100 year construction. Everyone’s heart was so hardened that they didn’t even take notice when a most unusual event unfolded before their eyes. What an incredible testimony of truth when pair after pair of animals showed up and boarded the ark. I can only imagine the lions waiting patiently to board behind what would normally be their prey. A strange sight no less, but there was no fear of God in any of the onlookers to goad their conscience to repentance.

What a sorry state to find yourself in when your heart is so hard that repentance can’t break through.

Lord, thank you for not giving up on me. My flesh is stubborn and rebellious. Thank you for providing the way, the gift of repentance and the grace to respond! Amen.

Gospel Power

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”  Romans 1:16 AV

As a young man I was blessed to intern at a race car manufacturer in Great Britain. They were a small company with little more than a handful of people, limited resources and equipment, and yet they competed successfully in a world market. As I worked at the various stages of manufacturing the thing that impressed me was how they were able to do the most with the least. In fact, I found “doing the most with the least” was common thought out the culture there in Great Britain. Undoubtedly that culture was also part of the founding of our nation however, somewhere along the way it has been lost. One can only wonder how many things haven’t been attempted for lack of the “right” equipment.

There is a woodworking store a few miles away that I frequent on occasion. Until recently, every time I went there and looked at all the amazing tools a voice inside me would say, “If I had those tools I’d do a lot more woodworking.” One day, when I left the store, still dreaming about all the woodworking that I’d do with those amazing tools, truth confronted me. If I was passionate about woodworking wouldn’t I be doing it already with the tools I already had?

The people I worked with in Great Britain figured out ways to utilize the tools they had. In fact, they did an amazing job even though it would have been easier with better tools. When faced with a task they rose to the challenge and weren’t afraid to work harder. I’ve been making excuses based on what I don’t have. Lord, do I do that with the gospel?

*Why the block plane?  When I was a boy I had a woodworking teacher, Walter R. Olsen (1927-199?); Mr Olsen to his students.  He was a tough kind hearted man who I now have the highest respect for.  He was a principled man who strived to bring out the best in his students.  We didn’t have the latest and greatest tools like some of the other schools but now that I think back on it I can only wonder if Mr Olsen wanted it that way.

I had a project that required me to plane down some boards.  We didn’t have a powered planer so I had to do it the old fashioned way, with a 12 inch block plane –by hand.  I glued up 2 qty 3/4 x 24 x 42 inch boards for the sides, 2 qty 3/4 x 24 x 24 inch boards for the ends, 2 qty 3/4 x 12 x 24 boards for the rockers and a 3/4 x 6 x 36 board for a stiffener and set out to make them flat.  To my surprise they were flat by the time I reached 5/8 of an inch.  I asked Mr Olsen if I could stop there and he replied, “What do the plans say?”  I said, “1/2 inch” to which he said, “Keep going!”  Mr. Olsen didn’t want to hear that I made the plans and I could change them.  I spent the whole semester planing boards from 3/4 to 1/2 inch!

Thank you Mr. Olsen, I miss you my mentor, my friend!