Tag Archives: forgiveness

Play Like a Wild Man

Story of the Day for Thursday January 19, 2012

Play Like a Wild Man

                      . . . Don’t you know that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 

                                                                                    Romans 2:4

The second half of the Rose Bowl had not yet begun before Roy Riegles sinned.

Riegles was an All-American defensive lineman for the University of California.  He recovered a fumble and started to run with the ball.  But, for reasons he could not later explain, he got turned around and started running in the wrong direction.

His coach, Nibs Price, could not believe what he was seeing!  His teammates shouted furiously for him to stop.  Benny Lom, a halfback, raced after him.  After a 65 yard scamper, Lom caught him on the one-yard line.  A few plays later, a punt from the end zone was blocked for a safety.

To say that Roy Riegles was discouraged in the locker room at half-time is to master the art of understatement.  He was completely distraught.  After his idiotic mistake, he had no intention of going back on the field for the second half.  When coach Price told him he would start the second half, Riegles objected, “Coach, I can’t do it.  I’ve ruined you.  I’ve ruined myself.  I’ve ruined the University of California.”  He was too ashamed to face the crowd.

 

Coach Price knew that Riegles did not need a good chewing out.  He needed comfort.  The coach encouraged him and sent him back into the game in the second half.

And Riegles played his heart out.  So much so, that, despite his huge mistake, he was later named to the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame.

 

Roy Riegles is the poster boy for all of us who commit sins which let our friends and family down.  Which let ourselves down.  Which let our Lord down.

What do we need at times like these? A good chewing out?  You’ve experienced that, haven’t you?  And it has left you ever more depressed.

Jesus wants to put his arm around your shoulder, and let you know it’s going to be okay.

 

But here is the thing that seems hard to understand, at times.  If you comfort someone when they sin, and tell them Jesus forgives them, doesn’t that just give them an excuse to continue sinning?

Well, let me ask you this: Do you think coach Price’s comfort and encouragement at Roy Riegles blunder made him want to go out the second half and make more mistakes for his team?

No way.  The coach’s kindness lifted Riegles up, and he played like a wild man in the second half.

God’s kindness does the same thing.  It leads us to repentance.  It fires us up to play the second half with renewed passion and enthusiasm.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

Rescue From the Bog

Story of the Day for Monday January 16, 2012

Rescue From the Bog

                      “The grace of God . . . instructs us. . . to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age.” 

                                                                             Titus 2:11-12

 When kids go to summer camp one of their responsibilities is to plot mischief.  You just know that someone is going to get a frog in their bed or the guys are going to raid the girl’s cabins and pull some sort of prank.

Let’s try to imagine this: as the kids wave good-bye to their parents and assemble in the cafeteria, the camp director spells out the rules.  One of them is that must never leave the fenced camp boundary.  “There are quicksand bogs on the adjoining property,” he warns them, “and it’s very dangerous.”

Off limits?  Dangerous?  For kids, this is an irresistible enticement. So, in the middle of the night a few boys sneak out of their cabin and climb the fence.  Sure enough, there is quicksand out there.  And they are stuck.   Their struggling only mires them deeper.  As they sink to their waists they finally cry out for help.

Eventually they see a flashlight bobbing their way and their sleepy-eyed counselor inspecting the damage.  With a big sigh he says, “Didn’t we clearly warn you to stay on the camp property?”

“Yes.”

And didn’t we tell you there were quicksand bogs out here?”

“Yes, we’re sorry.”  By this time they are up to their chests in the quicksand.

“Well, I want you to know something,” the counselor says, “I forgive you.”  And then he wishes them a good night and goes back to bed.

 

Can I ask you something?  Do you think those boys would be satisfied with the response of their counselor?  “Dude! Did you hear that?  He forgives us!  He’s not mad at us for breaking the rules.  Awesome!”

This is not how the story ought to end, is it?  But don’t you see that this is exactly how some believers view forgiveness?  They think, “I like to sin, and God likes to forgive me and say it’s okay.”

When God forgives us it means that our sins have been taken care of.   He’s not holding them against us.  But (and here is the point, so listen up)  God’s forgiveness means that he also wants to pull us out of the quicksand.

And isn’t that what we want?  God’s forgiveness is not a free pass to jump the fence.  But when we do jump the fence and get stuck in the bog, know this:  Jesus not only will come to tell you he forgives you; he will also reach out his hand because he wants to rescue you from the bog.

                                                  (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

The World’s Worst Pets

Story of the Day for Wednesday November 2, 2011

The World’s Worst Pets

                     Put up with each other and forgive whatever complaints you may have with each other. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  

                                                            Colossians 3:13

 I just read a list of the worst pets to own. The article held no value to me because I’ve never been tempted to own a Madagascar hissing cockroach, or an iguana (which can grow to six feet and often carries disease), or a boa constrictor (which can do just what its name suggests).

Don’t get me wrong – I do own dangerous and undesirable pets (which, inexplicably, failed to make the list.)  I’m not proud of this, but I currently own a menagerie of pet peeves.

Pet peeves multiply faster than rabbits, and you waste a lot of time feeding them. A pet peeve, by definition, is something that annoys you. So why I keep adding to my collection of things that irritate me is, to say the least, mystifying.

 

But, just as mystifying is the new school of thought that help us cope with life’s grievances. The new thinking claims we have a right to be angry. When we experience injustice – or even unfortunate events – we, supposedly, are entitled to be upset.

Well, okay. Maybe it does help to ventilate anger and express grievances. But I can’t help thinking about Charlie Plumb. Lieutenant Plumb was a Navy pilot in the Vietnam War, when he was shot down on May 19, 1967, south of Hanoi. As a POW, he endured unimaginable tortures, starving, and humiliation. Five years and nine months later, Plumb was released and returned to the United States.

Plumb underwent routine psychiatric counseling to help him deal with the trauma from his years of imprisonment. “You have the right,” the psychiatrist kindly told him, “to be bitter.”

But Plumb refused to accept this kind of therapy. “I have the right to be bitter?” he would ask, “That’s like saying I have the right to have diarrhea.”

Now, I doubt if I could stagger out of a prison camp like Charlie Plumb and simply forgive those who tortured me, and get on with life without experiencing deep emotional damage. But, I wish I could.

 

A few weeks ago, I rode over a thousand miles with a guy named Rob. When I drive I get easily annoyed with other drivers who fail to dim their headlights or signal a turn in busy traffic. But Rob had a different approach. He talked other drivers through their faults. “Hey, buddy,” he would calmly say, “no need to cut so sharply in front of me.” “Hey, buddy, no need to tailgate me; I can’t go any faster than the car in front of me.”

By the end of our trip Rob had a lot of “buddies.” But he taught me that life is better lived when we calmly accept the faults of others rather than adding to our growing list of grievances.

Peeves make lousy pets.

                                                            (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

 

Newfangled Quartz Movement Contraptions

Story of the Day for Saturday September 3, 2011

Newfangled Quartz Movement Contraptions

                  “The time is coming,” the Lord declares, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the old covenant.” 

                                                                              Jeremiah 31:31-32

 When Jesus reached in his pocket and pulled out a new contract from God, the people who had the hardest time accepting it were those who were legal experts on the original contract.

 

In 1968, Switzerland dominated the world of watch making – owning over eighty percent of the market share in profits.

The Swiss were proud of their watches – and for good reason: they made watches of exceptional craftsmanship.

Yet, in a little over a decade, Switzerland was devastated. Their profit share plummeted to less than twenty percent. By 1988, employment in the watch industry in Switzerland sank from 90,000 to 28,000.

 

What happened?

The quartz movement watch captured the world’s attention. It was not only cheaper than a mechanical watch, but far more accurate.

 

The devastation of the Swiss dominance in watch making, however, is not so much tragic, as ironic. After World War II, the Swiss invented a quartz clock. In 1962, a laboratory was established in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, to develop the quartz movement watch. The world’s first prototype quartz wristwatches were displayed in 1967. That year, their laboratory in Neuchâtel entered their quartz movement watches in time trials and won the first ten places for wristwatch accuracy. Two years later, their Beta 21 was available for commercial production.

But the Swiss watchmakers couldn’t adjust to such a radical change.  They focused, instead, on their proud history. They had a well-deserved legacy for making fine mechanical watches. They weren’t about to change their way of life for some newfangled quartz movement contraptions.

 

Switzerland was well-positioned to dominate the world in quartz movement watches, just as they had for so many generations with their mechanical watches. But they refused to invest in the new technology because they had mastered the old so well.

 

God’s first covenant stipulated that we would be blessed if we were obedient. Since no one was obedient, God announced his new covenant: he would forgive all who looked to him for mercy.

This new covenant, like the quartz movement watch, was definitely a change for the better.  The only ones who have ignored it are the self-satisfied: those who are (falsely) proud of their religious accomplishments.

                                       (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Kissing a Clenched Fist

Story of the Day for Tuesday July 19, 2011

 

Kissing a Clenched Fist

                   They got into such a heated argument that they parted company. 

                                                                    Acts 15:39

 Before Paul became a believer, he despised the church. He breathed out murderous threats against the church and tried to arrest anyone who listened to Christian radio stations. Jesus finally turned Paul’s life around, but the church leaders were too afraid of him to let him into the fellowship. Barnabas, bless his heart, took Paul to meet the leaders of the church and convinced them his conversion was genuine.

Paul befriended Barnabas and the two stood by each other’s side in a great theological debate about how to handle pagans who came to the faith. On a missionary trip, the two shared their adventures together.

Yet, despite their close friendship and shared adventures, Paul and Barnabas got into a squabble about whether to take Mark along on their next trip. The argument grew so heated that Paul and Barnabas parted ways.

 

We’re all a bit daffy about arguments. If we estimated how often the rest of the world is in the right when they argue, we’d say, “Oh, about half the time.” But, if we ask ourselves how often we’re in the right when we get in an argument, we would respond, “All the time!” All of us think this way, but if you do the math, it doesn’t add up.

 

Arguments often flare up over trivial differences. If Paul and Barnabas would have decided to take a nap first or share a candy bar, I doubt they would have even gotten into the scuffle they did. They could’ve worked it out.

 

James Kay, in his book, Seasons of Grace, described an incident in Damascus, Syria, where a bicyclist rode down a market street, balancing a crate of oranges on his handlebars. A man, bent over with a heavy load, walked in his way and the two collided. Oranges went rolling down the street and the two got into a quarrel over who was at fault. A crowd gathered as the cursing and clenched fists indicated a fight was about to erupt.

Then a little man walked into the fray, took the clenched fist of the bicyclist in his hands and kissed it. The two men relaxed and the crowd murmured their approval. Instead of assigning blame everyone gathered the oranges and put them back in the crate, as the little man slipped into the crowd.

 

Like the rest of us, even the apostle Paul could slip up. But all was not lost because he knew where he wanted to go. He knew that we should avoid quarreling, but when we do, we must learn to reconcile.

As an old man, he advised Timothy, “Avoid foolish and stupid disputes because you know they cause quarrels. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel.”

And, he also asked Timothy to bring Mark along on his next visit, because “he is a good help in my ministry.”

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Move the Kettle Off the Burner

Story of the Day for Thursday July 7, 2011

Move the Kettle Off the Burner

 

                                   A fool gives full vent to his anger but a wise man holds it back. 

                                                                                        Proverbs 29:11

 Anger is meant to make the world a better place, yet sadly, our anger usually leaves a trail of destruction. We lash out in anger but our intent is not to help, but to hurt others.  Our anger is retaliation to those we think have wronged us. And we want it to sting.

 

Yet, just as we are about to make the crucial first step of admitting the harm our anger is causing, the “experts” wave the latest research in our face.  Suppressing anger, we are told, is psychologically damaging.  We must learn to “vent.”

When psychologists say ventilation is beneficial, we must ask, beneficial for whom?  Is venting beneficial to the poor soul whose car stalled at the traffic light as he listens to the angry honking cars behind him?  Is ventilation beneficial to you when you make a mistake and someone explodes with rage? Look, if “ventilation” is good because I feel better after cursing you, it is still an act of selfishness; others must suffer deep wounds for the sake of my “relief.”

Once someone tried to rationalize their hot temper by saying, “I blow up, and then it’s all over.” Their friend pondered this, then replied, “A shotgun does the same thing. But look at the damage it leaves behind.”

The fact is, ventilation is not good. Not for others, and not for yourself. Recent psychological research on anger has reversed its former advocacy for ventilation. Beside the obvious fact that “venting” corrodes relationships, psychologist are now finding that venting anger does not decrease but increases your inner rage and bitterness.  To put it simply: The more you vent, the angrier you become.

We’re finally catching up with God. The Bible has taught from ancient times, “A fool gives vent to his anger, but a wise man holds it back.”

Psychologist, Gary Emery, has found that only one out of three hundred happily married couples reported that they yell at each other. Healthy relationships are not fostered because couples have learned to “vent.”

 

When you set a tea kettle on a hot burner, how do you keep the kettle from exploding? One way is to allow the steam to escape. If you choose to do this, you will have a continuous plume of scalding steam. But, there is another way: move the kettle off the burner!

Did you know that God is not angry with you because of your sin? He wants you to bask in the inner peace that comes from knowing this.

It’s a new day when you realize that God has come to you to take you off the stove.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Take the Whole Mess to Jesus

Story of the Day for Friday June 24, 2011

Take the Whole Mess to Jesus

 

                Wash me thoroughly from all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always staring me in the face. 

                                                                     Psalms 51:2-3

 In 1987, Ron Harper Mills told a story to the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. The story wasn’t true (although the internet gossip machine claimed it was). Mills said he made it up to entertain the audience and “to illustrate how, if you alter a few small facts, you greatly alter the legal consequences.”

 

The story goes like this: Ronald Opus left a suicide note and then jumped from a ten-story building. As he fell, a shotgun blast tore through a window and killed him. But, Mr. Opus’s suicide attempt would have failed because construction workers had set up a safety net and he would have fallen harmlessly into it.

When a person attempts suicide and succeeds, even if the mechanism of death is not the one intended, it is still considered a suicide. Yet, because the suicide would have failed, and he was killed by the shotgun blast, homicide now had to be considered.

The shotgun blast came from the apartment of an elderly couple. They had been arguing and the husband had threatened her with the gun. The man pulled the trigger, missed his wife, and the blast pierced the window. When you intend to kill subject A, and instead kill subject B, you’re guilty of the murder of subject B.

When confronted with the murder charge, both the husband and wife insisted that the shotgun was unloaded. The old man said he often threatened his wife with the unloaded gun, but had no intention of killing her.

The killing of Mr. Opus, therefore, would appear to be an accident.

As the investigation proceeded, a witness claimed he saw the elderly couple’s son secretly load the shotgun. He was angry because his mother had cut off his financial support, and the son, knowing his father’s habit of threatening his wife with the shotgun, loaded the gun in the hope that his father would shoot and kill his mother.

The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son. But here is the exquisite twist: Mr. Ronald Opus, who jumped from the building in a suicide attempt, it turns out, was the son of the arguing elderly couple. He loaded the shotgun and had, therefore, murdered himself.

 

We tend to judge the depth of our sin by the seriousness of the consequences. That can only send us, as Ron Harper aptly points out, into endless speculation of “what ifs” and “yes, buts.”  The emotional torment of doing this will never end. Even if you try to convince yourself you weren’t really at fault, your heart will give you no peace.

There’s a better way. Take the whole mess to Jesus, lay it at his feet, and ask him if he would cleanse you.  Ask him to wash you clean, and make you feel like you just stepped out of a bubble bath.

If you ask him to do this, I know what Jesus will do. I’m not going to tell you, though, because I want it to be a surprise.

                                      (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

The Singing and Dancing of Angels

Story of the Day for Friday June 10, 2011

The Singing and Dancing of Angels

                  And coming to his senses he said, “. . .I will go to my father and tell him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven
and before you. . .’”

Luke 15:18-19

Our heavenly Father is not always the best listener. At least, not as Jesus tells it in his parable.

The younger son demanded his share of the inheritance. This was an audacious insult – tantamount to saying he
wished his father was dead. He did not want a relationship with his father; he only wanted things from his father. Once he had what he wanted, he left home.

He partied hard. But in the end, he was hungry, homeless, and lonely. Sitting in a pig sty gives you time to think. The broken
son realized that even his dad’s servants enjoyed the security of a roof over their heads and bread from his father’s table.

With nothing more to lose, the son decided to head for home. He carefully rehearsed his speech: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”

The son was still a long way off, when the father saw him walking home. What happened next was so shocking that those in the Middle East could not even bear to translate it in their Bibles for 1800 years. Not until 1860 did the first Bible from a
Middle Eastern culture translate Jesus’ words that the father “ran.”

Men of wealth or prominence in this culture never, ever run. It is disgraceful because honor is shown by the slowness of your pace. The rabbis taught that dignified men must always keep one foot on the ground.

But the father is so overwhelmed at the sight of his lost son that he utterly humiliates himself – he races to meet his son.

The rules of etiquette would have the son initiating the greeting by kissing his father’s hand – or, if he had wronged him, by kneeling to kiss his feet.

The son did neither. He never got the chance. His father wrapped him in a bear hug and kissed him on the neck.

With his father’s hot tears on his shoulder, the son began his prepared speech: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be. . .”

But, as Jesus tells it, the father was not a good listener. He doesn’t wait for his son to finish before he calls out to his servants, “Bring him the long robe! And the family signet ring! And sandals!” The party is on!

Don’t ever forget this. When you turn toward home, you may not receive respectful silence for the recitation of
your confession. The singing and dancing of the angels may very well drown out your nice speech.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Get Rid of the Garbage

Story of the Day for Tuesday June 7, 2011

Get Rid of the Garbage

 

                   Get rid of all bitterness and rage, and anger and shouting, and cursing and any kind of evil.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, showing grace to each other, just as in Christ God showed grace to you. 

                                                                       Ephesians 4:31-32

 

 

So, how do we take control of our anger?

For starters, let’s realize that anger does not control us.  We like to say, “You make me so angry,” but no one makes us angry.   We choose to become angry because of our own pride or impatience or selfishness.

 

Secondly, be careful about the environment you choose.  Have you ever watched other groups of people and noticed how they tend to adopt similar habits of behaving?  Though it is much easier to notice in other people, we all do the same thing.  That is why Proverbs 22 says, “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man.  Do not associate with someone who is easily angered, or you might learn his ways.”

 

Third, don’t resort to cheap fixes.  Find the source.

Let’s suppose my house reeks from rotting garbage.  What can I do?  I could open a window and let in some fresh air.  Good idea, right? And what would that do?  Besides being unpleasant to my neighbors it would only lesson the stench temporarily.

There is another way to relieve the disgusting smell.  Get rid of the garbage!

The Bible tells us to “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”  God’s Word isn’t telling us to open a window, but to get rid of the garbage.

We are to replace anger with kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.

That’s great, but how?  The apostle Paul continues, by “showing grace to each other just as, in Christ, God showed grace to you.”

That’s the key.  If we are bitter it is because we haven’t dealt with our own guilt.  Let God forgive you.  He’s not mad at you.   He has taken all his anger for the injustice of our sin on Jesus.   People who have accepted this kind of love from God are well on their way to laying down their anger.

 

Years ago, a pastor told us about visiting one of his members.  As she recounted a grievance about someone from years ago, the pastor expressed surprise that she could even remember all the details that happened so many years ago.

She explained, “Oh, I keep a book.  Every time someone hurts me, I write it all down.”

The pastor then learned she had been keeping a record of grievances for 25 years.  After patiently explaining the beauty of our forgiveness by Christ, he told her she needed to take her book and immediately throw it in the fireplace.

She paused.  Then, with a sigh, her precious book was turned to ash.

They prayed. And then she smiled, because she knew she was free.