About Anger and Stress

Our society seems to take two stances on anger – either it is 100% unacceptable or it’s funny. The Lord doesn’t think there is anything funny about our anger nor does the Bible teach that anger is 100% unacceptable. In fact we are given permission to be angry with an admonishment to not sin when we are angry.

Anger management is important. Learning how to discern what we are angry about is equally because it helps us express our anger in more appropriate ways and can move us towards taking some constructive action. Continue reading

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Blind Sighted Love

When Jesus speaks to us about sin, love and life we know he speaks the truth. When Jesus looks at us, we know he sees the truth in our lives, the good truths and the bad truths. He shows us and tells us about the error of the bad or sinful things we are doing in thought and deed. He calls us to repentance and forgives those who truly repent. He is blind to our forgiven sins even when the rest of the world isn’t. Continue reading

Lent as a Season of New or Re-Birth

DoveOften Lent is spoken of in terms of repentance and/or forgiveness, and yet those two actions lead to a birthing of new love in our hearts and minds.
What are we to repent of? We give up stuff, but what good is giving up something if our minds and hearts aren’t changed? With New and with rebirth we give up old ways of thinking – Jesus began his preaching ministry saying – ‘Repent and believe in the good news.’ Maybe more people would participate in a Lenten discipline or program of some kind if more churches began the season with those words instead of reminding everyone about how wretched we are . . . how we aren’t worthy . . . Think about when John the Baptist told his own followers he wasn’t worthy to untie the thong of Jesus’ sandles – What was Jesus’ response? Jesus told John the Baptist to baptize him. To me this is certainly a message about John the Baptist’s worthiness according to Jesus, according to God. Later Jesus told his disciples that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them.

So, what do you think about your own baptism? I’ve talked with people over the years who fear they are not worthy to be baptized with water much less the Holy Spirit. And I’ve talked with some people who say they don’t want the Holy Spirit because they don’t want something weird to happen to them. But the power that the Holy Spirit gives us is power to overcome wilderness experiences of temptation that Jesus overcame.

What do you think about forgiveness? So many people talk about the challenges of forgiving other people. I’ve heard people say “I’ll never forgive so and so!” And I’ve heard people say “I can’t forgive myself!” In having conversations over the years I’ve learned that if a person thinks they can’t forgive themselves or other people they often believe that God has not forgiven them. It seems to me that when we experience lack of forgiveness we are experiencing a sort of spiritual death. For our spirits to come alive, we must receive the Holy Spirit, in the same way that Jesus encouraged his disciples to receive the Spirit.

The Spirit helps us to Repent and Believe in the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness towards us and other people. We have not received authority to condemn, we have received a command to forgive. Let your spiritual birth or rebirth begin with forgiving yourself, for seeking forgiveness for your own wrong actions and thoughts and then forgive others.
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Father, Forgive Them . . .

Walk in ForgivenessYesterday evening my husband and I went to see the movie Son of God. Two scenes are embedded in my mind and heart both have to do with forgiveness . . .
The first is the scene of Jesus asking ‘Which is easier to say; Your sins are forgiven. or Get up and walk.? The Son of Man has the authority to forgive sin.’

The thing about saying ‘get up and walk’ to someone is that most of us could say this to someone and that would not happen, the person wouldn’t get up and walk. But it did happen for the paralyzed man when Jesus reached toward him and helped him up. It was after the man got up and walked that Jesus looked around and then said ‘The Son of Man has the authority to forgive sin.’

Throughout the New Testament Jesus is called The Son of God and also The Son of Man . . . Jesus had the authority to forgive sin because of who Jesus is. But what has Jesus said to us about forgiving sin committed against us? He said we must forgive other people the same way He has forgiven. Now which is easier for you to say to someone? Get up and walk? or ‘Father forgive them’ or “I forgive them.’ Think about that for a time . . . Who gives us desire to forgive? Who gives us authority to forgive? Who gives us ability to forgive? Who has the final say when it comes to forgiveness?

The other scene from the movie that is embedded in my mind and heart is Jesus on the cross saying ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.’
So often we think that people are fully aware of the wrongs they are doing toward us or other people or even God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit. What is our reaction then? What action do we take? A lot of times we assume what might not be true. Maybe not everyone is really aware of what they are doing all the time . . . the people chose to release a murderer back into their population rather than Jesus who would never murder anyone . . . I mean, what seems more crazy than that? Really? What is our response supposed to be? Wouldn’t it seem the sane response would be to say – put that murderer back in jail and release Jesus? Jesus was executed and what did he say? Father, forgive them . . . How do you think his followers responded? I think they too, forgave . . . but they told the story and the story continues to be shared . . . Now what are we going to do with this knowledge in our generation? It’s a good question for us to ponder and discuss . . .

Ash Wednesdays Remembered

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I attended the Ash Wednesday Service this evening and I have a confession to make. I don’t like getting ashes put on my forehead, never have. When I was a young girlĀ I didn’t like the ashes falling onto my glasses and into my eyes when I blinked. Perhaps that’s where my dislike of ashes on my forehead began. When I got a little older I realized that a lot of people don’t walk around with ashes on their foreheads and so I felt ‘conspicuous’ and I don’t like feeling ‘conspicuous’ so that perhaps compounded the issue of my dislike of ashes on my forehead. Then I got a little older and came across a verse in the Bible where Jesus tells people when they fast they shouldn’t disfigure their faces so as to be seen . . . so I went without getting ashes for a short period of time and was considered a little ‘rebellious’ for my age by a couple people in the church. But my mother didn’t force me to do something I struggled with. Then for a time I fell away from church and when I came back to church, well getting the ashes on my forehead again for the first time wasn’t so bad. It was evening and the only place I had to go after church was home so I wasn’t going to feel ‘conspicuous’ But somehow I was still disturbed with having ashes on my forehead. Mind you, it wasn’t the dust part I didn’t like, I didn’t mind the ‘Remember you are dust and to dust you will return.’ I just didn’t like the ashes on my forehead and then when I started reading the Bible I came across that verse again where Jesus told people not to disfigure their faces and I asked professors and Priests and Pastors why we are still putting ashes on our foreheads and I received the Historical Church Tradition answer. But I wanted more than an answer, I wanted oil on my forehead – when you fast put on oil and wash your face. That’s what I’ve wanted for so many years and a couple weeks ago I told my Priest – I’m still waiting for the option of having oil instead of ashes. He touched my arm and said, “I know! I know! and smiled.” A couple years ago I asked him if I could have my ashes on my hand instead of my forehead and he is kind and so he obliged and having the ashes on my hand helps me to reflect on the life of Christ, the manner in which he died for me (and for you, for everyone, our sins killed him, may they not kill us and may we remember also that he forgave us our sins and granted us peace . . . In the midst of a chaotic world, I am praying that we may all have a peaceful Lenten season of change in our hearts, our minds, our homes, our lives and in the world.