A while ago (years) I read an article about a woman who had a wretched childhood and grew up into a wretched adulthood. Prostitution, porn, drugs, etc.
Then Christ made her His child.
There were a number of bloggers out there who had problems with her telling her whole story and the issues they had were varied.
One was - why does she glorify sin by telling of the sin she was in? That is not the way to look at it...she is glorifying God by telling the depths to which she had sunk and that God can nobody is beyond God's grace.
Another - who is she to think that she can just repent and have a "get out of consequences free" card? Does she really think that she can just become a Christian and be accepted? Hello? do you know what she did? That is not the way that it is! If the Father embraced the prodigal, so should we. It is our job to raise up the children in the faith, not keep them down.
Next - Okay, she's a Christian? but she will never be qualified for ministry - after all, she may be forgiven, but there are earthly consequences. No...no... Paul was a murderer. So was Moses. David was a murderer - and an adulterer. They were all ministers of God's Word.
I am working my way through "Prodigal God" and I am reminded that I am thankful for the "Fathers" and "neighbors" in my life.
I am thankful for those who welcome me back, who rejoice at my homecoming.
I am also increasingly aware of those who resent the grace extended - I am aware of the "older brother". Those who will not ony "not forgive", but also resent the forgiveness extended by the Father.
There was a time when I was the "older brother" - that was a lead up in my life to a time when I could be either the "older brother" from the parable, or I could choose to be the "right" older brother - the one who welcomed the younger back.
There are many people who are not ready to restore. Restore! That is the point of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not a hoop to jump through in order to get God's favor. Following God's pattern for forgiveness is the way that we show that we are forgiven. So much so that Scripture tells us that if we do not forgive, God will not forgive us.
Forgiveness is a witness to the world that we are forgiven. And if there are debts that we are holding, it is those sort of debts that will be held against us.
If favorite books in the Bible can be judged by the amount of underlining, highlighting and note-taking, mine is Philippians.
The first thing I have underlined is v.1:6 -
Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it out to completion until the day of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The note that I have in the margin reminds me that Paul was in prison when he wrote this - and still he wrote of peace and joy, surety and grace.
I am reminded that for the "remnant", persecution brings strength. There are places in this world where Christians are truly persecuted - tortured and killed; fired from their jobs. They watch their families tormented.
And still they praise our God. May we remember the persecuted church; pray for them daily - pray for strength and courage, pray that God will change the hearts of those to hate them. Pray that God will be glorified in all.
Last Monday I walked into school and one of the secretaries was waiting by the door to talk to staff as they came in. One of the students had passed away over the weekend.
He was in my classroom this year and took his turn as one of my favorite students (all of the students are my favorites, but sometimes at different times). The student was medically - well, he didn't take solid food by mouth and had a permanent feeding tube. He had a lot of digestive problems and was totally deaf with a cochlear implant.
Two weeks ago he was fine. His mom kept him home from school on Thursday to have two wisdom teeth pulled. The autopsy results are not back yet, but all we know is that he got some sort of infection, it got into his digestive system (which has always been compromised) and within a couple of days he was gone.
This young man had two things going on. The first was ebay. Our students get a small check for piece work they do and he spent his on ebay. I took a trip last year and was in the town where ebay has their international headquarters. So I went and got my photo taken in front of the ebay sign and gave it to this student. He carried it everywhere! He would see me and say (in the stilted way of the deaf)..."Ellen...ebay...California...airplane...whoosh!"
The other thing was Coke. That was unfortunate because of the stomach issues, but it was calories that he had a hard time getting. After his funeral on Friday afternoon his family sent everybody home with a can of Coke in his memory.
There are no guarantees in life.
This student was adopted. We have a large percentage of students who are adopted - some of the families families thought they were going to get a perfect little child and couldn't (for a variety of reasons) gave the child they got for adoption. Other students were taken away from families because while babies should have a loving family, there are no guarantees.
But he was adopted into a loving family with three other children - also impaired.
It was a beautiful service and I will most likely write more on that later.