“What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.”
I read a lot of commentary on God. Fear God. God will get you. God punishes. The Bible talks about the punishment of God. Those seeking a power base build on this concept. They may be correct.
I just have a difficult time with it.
I have been around for awhile. I was named Dennis and along with it the world picked up on “The Menace”. The reinforcement for that attitude as a person was more than simple peer pressure, it bordered on expectations.
To be honest, I have been human all my life. I have studied Jesus, the Bible, many of the other religious writings and companion discussions on life is. I have been active in church, I have preached, I have sung in the Choirs and led worship. I am old enough for reflection and have come to a conclusion. GOD need not punish. HUMANS, given enough time, are more than capable of punishing themselves.
I have not been the perfect human. Far from it. I have been Dennis. My parents took me to Sunday school. I even took myself to church. I write Christian music and have for 40 years +. Even though I studied GRACE, Even with the knowledge of the Jesus story, Grace is a noble idea but it does not always bring a warm fuzzy to the past. The man in the mirror sees the past. The past is not always what it should be. AND IT IS WORSE WITH THE BURDEN OF KNOWLEDGE. If I knew nothing about Jesus and the story I could sit back and have excuses. I have discovered that I can punish myself much more thoroughly than God could, and much deeper.
What is a key to grace is the text above from the song of the same name “What a friend we have in Jesus.” A friend.
“Love your neighbor as yourself”. I have discussed the weakness in this assignment in the past. To love your neighbor as yourself requires you to love yourself. It requires you to be able to look in the mirror and with all the knowledge of your life that stares back at you from the mirror one needs, more than all things, is the shoulder to cry on to find forgiveness for yourself.
“What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.”
One needs to reach out to Jesus and GOD for forgiveness and know that GRACE begins at home for you to forgive the you. We, who believe in Jesus and the Jesus story have been given the privilege to do that by the knowledge of the life of Jesus. And more importantly, it is our gift to use it for ourselves.
My conversations with my friend Jesus and subsequent prayers with God is the healing affirmation that God is disappointed in me..”The Menace” but God took the measures to set the story straight and share that privilege with me. The mere fact of the story, the reaction of the disciples, the drive of those who shared the journey with Jesus after even denying knowledge of a relationship with him, it was all done that we may have that friend that we can share with. And share that knowledge with others. And heal.
If you find yourself in that place where punishing yourself becomes too much with all your sins and griefs to bear , God, through Jesus, has provided an avenue of help.
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow”.
Today is a new year. A new beginning and a new outlook. Take advantage of it and share that knowledge with those you know who may be helped by it.
GOD’s Mentors create actions. Such was a conversation I had the other day with a couple of workers in a testing center. We were discussing the rush rush of everyday life and how it seems that much is missed during it. I related a story of one of my mentors, Lyle.
Lyle was a neighbor and a great friend I had about (many) years ago. Lyle worked as a guidance counselor at a state hospital dealing with recovering alcoholics and had done so for 20+ years. In addition his faith was Methodism and I would refer to Lyle as a Christian. We had stopped for coffee one day and Lyle was somewhat distant, immersed in thoughts. I asked him what was going on.
“The great diet that I have been on and I have lost a lot of weight, has been liver cancer. It appears as I have just a few weeks before it wins. As a 12 steps counselor I find I have been going through all the steps. Today denial gives way to acceptance.”
I chose to spend my time with Lyle on morning walks with Lyle during the ensuing days. I will never forget one of the last days. We met outside and were walking around the neighborhood. I asked how he was doing. “It is interesting, Dennis. The greens have never been greener, the roses never more fragrant….”
Not too much later Lyle passed away at 53. We had shared a number of great moments together. Leading a summer parks ministry program, and retreats. He got me to begin thinking and that ended up with my launching Unorthodox Christianity.com some years later when the internet took over the universe.
So I was sharing this story with the two workers during a lull in their testing and no one else about. THE RUSH RUSH OF EVERY DAY. I mentioned that it got me to thinking.
“What do you think is the worst possible thing that you could ever hear from GOD?”
I went on, “I hear and read lots about GOD’s judgement. I hear how judgmental GOD can be and how strict and difficult GOD can be to those who do not ‘toe the line.’ So I have developed this scene that better describes what Lyle says and I believe that developed from this incident. I image that I have passed away and am in whatever place one passes away to. I have lived most of my life as a human being. I am fortunate to be one of the few who knows what GOD looks like. GOD has a big dent in GOD’S forehead from the many times GOD has struck GOD’s forehead and has said, “Dennis, you have done it again. I had made all the plans necessary to answer your prayer and you have changed your direction and now I have to start all over again.” The truth is that GOD started over again, next to me the whole way. Providing new mentors, new friends, new jobs, and more education. On this day, I am now at GOD’s spiritual home. I have been invited to have coffee with GOD and I go in. I reiterate:
“What do you think is the worst possible thing that you could ever hear from GOD?”
GOD sits back in the chair and asks me a question. “You know Dennis, I have not been to Earth for some time now. Tell me, what does a rose smell like on the first bloom of spring?”
I look back on my life and think. “I am sorry, I can’t say I know.”
God shakes GOD’s head and says, “That is so unfortunate, for this was your only opportunity to find out.”
There was no hell or damnation. There was no screaming or hollering. There was a simple truth. I am ready for GOD, because Lyle says..’The greens have never been greener and the roses have never been more fragrant…… Stop and smell the roses…Lyle says.”
Today those ladies know what the roses smell like on the first bloom of spring. Feel free to share this story with your friends, Facebook and any other encounter. These are the messages all of us are given to share. We are the spokespeople for GOD. We are the mentors.
I read this the other day from a posting person that I admire . “Christ says we are made to serve Him and allow Him to make the choices in our lives.”
The first thing that came to my mind is a story I tell about my relationship with “GOD”. I know what “GOD” looks like. There is a large bruise on “GOD’s” forehead where GOD’s palm has struck the forehead as “GOD” utters…..”Dennis, you’ve done it again. I had it all planned out and coordinated and now you change the direction of your life…”
The choices of GOD are not always so apparent that my choices coincide with “GOD’s” plan for me. My favorite poem talks about ‘The Road less traveled.” Why do I so often settle on the road less traveled?
Because “GOD” has never failed me in my choices. “GOD” mentions after saying how I have “Done it Again, Now I have to rewrite the plan I set up for you the last time.” Right, or wrong, the journey takes many twists and turns. This is not news to “GOD”. Perhaps “GOD” is pre-aware of the directions I will take and the design of my personal tapestry has already been prepared for the seemingly new direction I am moving in, which “GOD” has been aware of since the beginning. I have been allowed a second chance.
Each one of us is the architect of our own individual journeys. Often times the choices are less than wise, but always based on events within our own lives or compared to that of others. Where we do not always do well at predicting our own future, GOD can. The tapestry that surrounds us is too complex for us to sort. Consequently ‘free will’ often gets the best of us. How many times does GOD come across this over the history of the universe and the entities that reside there?
Have you made a mistake? Many? GOD understands what you even cannot see.
“Forgive them…..they know not what they do.” This is a quote from the GOOD NEWS.
Jesus brought a new perspective on GOD that we today call “GOOD NEWS”. It has never been FAKE NEWS. ‘FREE WILL’ comes with challenges, and is never “free”. Whether others judge you or not, you judge yourself. If you never judge yourself, your actions have their own judgements. Free is never free. A poor concept to extend.
This is where “Forgive them, Father…” comes from. The harsh Father who theoretically casts out the lost from the path to eternal life has given us an advocate. Jesus. A Jewish carpenter from a town called Nazareth.
“For they know not what they do….”
Those calling for Jesus’ Crucifixion did not know much more than they were told what to say in the middle of the night by armed advocates.
(At the risk of censure, our politicians perform about as well as the disciples did, and they theoretically know ‘the rest of the story’. )
Knowing “What A Friend I have in Jesus” and His stance on forgiveness does not make the mistakes free, it makes them forgiven because whom amongst us has not done things that “we know not what we do” or the repercussions as a result of our choices. For those mistakes will never be “free.” Not to me… And at some point in time our stewards will discover how not “FREE” their decisions have been. But they are understood and forgiven by one who lived the reality of life on Earth. One who has seen the powerful place self before others. Somewhere in a book I read years ago it is said the “The meek shall inherit the Earth.” Perhaps because only the “meek” shall survive the”Powerful.”
“FREE WILL” is a lie. Our actions cause reactions whether we like the results or not. It is to me, in those moments, reassuring to know that 2,000 years ago a mentor of mine pleaded for my forgiveness even in the place where I judge myself. And He will do that for me forever. “What a friend I have in Jesus….”
I read a bit. I read the news and read commentary. I pay more attention to the Christian take on things due to the name of my blog and do not, probably, write enough in defense of us.
The commentary I hear too much is that GOD, a loving GOD to me, is also a judgmental, stern and harsh patron. The GOD I have grown up with is referred to as “LOVE”. LOVE does not close windows or lock doors. LOVE does not criticize, LOVE comforts. The office of GOD has an open door policy. One needs not require a judgmental GOD. The man in the mirror tells me when I have done wrong, made a mistake, or fallen short of my example Jesus. Too often the mirror judgement is more damaging to me than any.
LOVE understands. No one on the face of the Earth has walked my journey, encountered my fears under my circumstances, made the same decisions for the same reasons. Save One. LOVE (GOD). If we knew everybody’s everything we may eventually learn to understand. GOD has walked the journey with me. Every minute, every day, 24-7. When someone says that you have to earn your time with GOD it is a lie. GOD knows EARTH. GOD knows that people are not always kind to other people. GOD KNOWS HELL. For too many that is EARTH. GOD knows what you have tried to accomplish, and what mountains you have had to climb. GOD (LOVE) does not stand on the sidelines of life. For all who ask, seek, or even irregardless, we have done the climb with LOVE’s help. Whether dressed as a parent, or a friend, neighbor or stranger, LOVE has helped with my climb.
LOVE will help you with yours.
Enjoy the day for the opportunities it represents, not lament it for the negatives of a past that has perhaps occurred. Make your corner of the world a nice one. A comfortable place to hang out for someone LOVE sends your way.
LOVE has an open door policy, let no one tell you otherwise.
“FATHER, FORGIVE THEM, FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO.” (Jesus of Nazareth)
I was asking my sister when I would be grown up (I want to go to Peter Pan this week). She said it is when you accept responsibility.
So I asked GOD while I was on my walk and He left me with this thought:
You are grown up when you can place the past in its proper perspective; embrace the day for the future that it represents, and leave the mechanics of that future up to GOD.
The current movement afloat is educational requirements to expand our historical knowledge of the middle east. In the midst the calling is to require the study of A middle eastern religion in a country based on a constitutional requirement to leave religion in it’s place and the government of life in another. How does one teach history by only teaching one religion versus the relationship that all religions have in common (often not peaceful among each other). That is like teaching one viewpoint on events, or not hearing “The rest of the story”. If we maintain only one perspective we only learn one perspective. We either teach all religions or none. Our constitutional creators recognized that our foundation is based on the freedom to exercise your religion, in the context of the law of the land and not to establish one over another. My friend, and many others I have known, were brought up to study and compare a number of religions. The confusion caused by a sincere study of religious doctrine as presented by a number of sources purportedly given to you as a message from a shared source (GOD, SUPREME BEING, MESSENGER or whatever) has resulted in most of these people refusing to be intimidated or swayed to join any of them as a result of the inconsistency of their doctrines within their own umbrella of faith let alone others. From my viewpoint of Unorthodox Christianity, Love One Another is a plenty sufficient message without any more doctrine attached. Doctrine is only a center for power, not a path to peace.