"Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye." Acts 7:51 (KJV)
When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. Acts 7:53 (KJV)
Why the rage? The truth was too much for the heart. Is too much. The law is written into it and pokes that finger of Guilt over again. Bruising. Damaging. Killing. Truth approaches and the desire is to lash out from the pain. I don't rage because I'm innocent. I rage because I'm not and can't stand it. I want an excuse. I want the accusations to stop.
I'm a baddy
She's a baddy
Wouldn't you like to admit you're a baddy, too.
If I'm not that bad, why does the pride leap out of my chest in defense? All claws and teeth. Ready to strike.
Stay away, Spirit. Nothing to see here. Go away.
No, no no.
I am totally justified in my action, word, thought.
Do not come closer.
I'm good. I'm good. I'm good.
Have ya looked at the sin over there?
Pshh, this is nothin'
Seroiusly, don't come closer.
The law squeezes. Condemns. Holds a mirror, saying, "You've got a lot of something on that stiff neck of yours."
It's a hard thing to want to see.
But the gospel comes in.
Stops us cold on the road.
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Acts 9:1-5
Revealing the other side to our need. The cure. The Savior. The freedom.
It hushes the heart. Be still. Over and over, be still.
But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift.
From Rev. C.H. Spurgeon (via spurgeon.org)
'And now, lastly, poor sinner, has sin made thee unfit for heaven? Grace shall render thee a fit companion for seraphs and the just made perfect. Thou who art to-day lost and destroyed by sin, shalt one day find thyself with a crown upon thy head, and a golden harp in thine hand, exalted to the throne of the Most High. Think, O drunkard, if thou repentest, there is a crown laid up for thee in heaven. Ye guiltiest, most lost and depraved, are ye condemned in your conscience by the law? Then I invite you, in my Master's name, to accept pardon through his blood. He suffered in your stead, he has atoned for your guilt and you are acquitted. Thou art an object of his eternal affection, the law is but a schoolmaster, to bring thee to Christ. Cast thyself on him. Fall into the arms of saving grace. No works are required, no fitness, no righteousness, no doings. Ye are complete in him who said, "It is finished.'
Relief flows in tears, not rage.
Apologies to Benji Magness for leapfrogging off his tweet today.
Forgiveness and reconciliation.
More than lip service.
Especially as weaponry is being fired from those lips.
Poison darts of punishment.
Come to the table and I'll serve you up a cold plate of revenge. With cold looks and cold stares. The venom dripping from the corners of my mouth being the perfect compliment to the meal. Feeding me and making me taller and stronger, while you shrink and shiver. Allow me to pour you a cup of coffee brewed through my filter of hate. God, there is such sweet satisfaction in being right and never letting you off the hook for being so wrong.
Hey, would you mind wearing your transgressions on you sleeve? Maybe post it on "What I Wore Wednesday" and every day ever after. Yeah, yeah. You're sorry.
Never sorry enough for me. I'm not wrong about you.
Shhh. I don't care to hear you. Not listening. I already see your heart in my god-likeness. Vengeance is mine sayeth......wait, how does that go again?
Feel the pain you've caused with every pass in the hall. With every seed of discord I plant among the peeps around us. With my gossipy lip service.
And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:33-35
"I forgive you" but I don't.
"I believe in mercy" but I don't want to give it.
"I believe in reconciliation" just don't ask me to participate in it.
Let me pay lip service to and keep my unforgiveness in my pocket for a rainy day. A little morsel to feed my belief that I really am better than you, filthy one.
"I believe I'm a sinner" in theory
"I believe Christ died to cover sins" lucky you
"I believe in humility" because it's my job to keep you low
"I said I forgive you" because I'm the bigger person, now pay up and pay up and pay up.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Old foe, I'm trying to let you off the hook. I'm suffocating on the same one.
Can we lay downs our arms? God laid His down.
The rainbow that I have put in the sky will be my sign to you and to every living creature on earth. It will remind you that I will keep this promise forever. When I send clouds over the earth, and a rainbow appears in the sky, I will remember my promise to you and to all other living creatures. Never again will I let floodwaters destroy all life. When I see the rainbow in the sky, I will always remember the promise that I have made to every living creature. The rainbow will be the sign of that solemn promise.
All the pain and the scars
Could you lay down your arms....
It might be easy for another man to see
But I think you still look a lot like me
Old Friend Lyle Lovett
A very good listen:
When God Put His Weapon Down (and When He’ll Bare His Teeth) | Benji Magness
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
When a random thought is not random at all, it's a zapping of the Spirit.
..So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8:7-11
While going about a few errands this week, it struck me. Pow! Jesus does not say to the woman, "throw the stones back at your accusers." He let the weight of conviction speak to them in the silent spaces between words. The woman had no stage for defense. No excuse or justification. And though her sin was being used as a cover for their plotting hearts, she was no better than her accusers. We, the redeemed, do not shout "love" by repaying evil with evil. Because there is enough evil to go around and around and around.
What are all the ways we are called to show love to each other as the church, the family of God? It isn't just the service or ministries we participate in. Not just the meals to the hungry and house-ridden. Nor just comfort to the hurting. But in the obedience to his word. All of it. Through the empowering of the Holy Spirit, turning the other cheek and loving our enemy. Laying low under the covering of the Christ. Leaving our pound of flesh where it belongs. How does our undeserved forgiveness and trust in an all-powerful God shine if we get into a stone-throwing contest? Be humbling, all the time, humbling. Because we are all humbled before Him. None of us can stand in His presence. In fact, the passage from John 13 comes after Jesus washed his disciples feet and tells them, "For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.."(vs. 15) He demonstrated meekness and love. He is the king! He is washing their dirty, dirty feet. For those of us who are not the perfect son of God, to whom much GRACE has been given, much GRACE is expected. When all my feistiness and snark and haughtiness come bubbling up this week, I'll remember, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more." At least, I know the Holy Spirit will remind me.
Love the Lord by loving His children. All of them. And they will know.
Of course, there's so much more truth to be found in John 13. Go read the whole thing here.
So, it's actually possible to be prideful and snotty when God has allowed total humility to rain down on your life. How can that little monster still have life when I'm the biggest sinner in the room? Seriously, girl! Do we need to go down the list of ways I have been ungracious to others?
A false balance is an abomination to the Lord,
but a just weight is his delight.
When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with the humble is wisdom. Proverbs 11:1-2
It's not only that differing measures are used for my sins and others, it's also between the others, themselves. Love and understanding is given to some and other select few have no grace, whatsoever. Larger transgressions seem to get a pass with those I like.....or from whom I have received forgiveness. Relatively small things are pocketed away for those I have contempt for. And probably have a portion of that contempt because of something they have against me. Or because I am intimidated by them in some way. They can do no right. This leads to lack of prayer for God's love in the form of grace, mercy, and refinement to come into their lives. I do not love my enemies. I sit here on a mountain of treasured love from God's people and want to withhold it from a select few. As my beautiful counselor said to me this week, "I think you still have some humbling coming your way."
Thing is, my eyes have been opened to the ways I have judged motives and hearts. Affecting and preventing relationships. Some of them with potential to divide within our church body. Many of those, I am getting the privilege to know better. As fellow humans. With messes and scars and joy and lessons to pass along.
And though I undoubtedly deserve it, no one has ripped me to shreds.
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed[a] thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”Luke 18:9-14
We are all the tax collector and the Pharisee. The prodigal son and the older brother (see Luke 15). Sometimes,in the same breath. God, help me see all that I want to hide. And grow me in your wisdom. And love. And love. And love.
Writing soundtrack for today
Rip Her to Shreds-Blondie
The Pure in Heart-The Foxglove Hunt