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Posts Tagged ‘Forgiveness’

Saving Grace

The 2012 cinematic adaptation of the musical based on Victor Hugo’s novel, Les Misérables, was tremendous. But my favorite adaptation of the novel was the 1998 film starring Liam Neeson. There’s a reason.

Even though the acting is superb, and the costumes, music, and scenes look first-rate, there is another element that outshines them all.  The Grace of God

Before I show you the clip of my favorite scene, here’s a brief set-up: Jean Valjean is a ex-convict living in pre-revolutionary France. Just released from prison, he wanders the streets because no one will take him in. Finally, a kindly old bishop feeds him and lets him sleep overnight.

Let’s watch the scene in the movie to see what happens.

 

Behold the transforming power of the grace of God. This must be one of the best illustrations of the grace that God has given to us.

The bishop had the right to have to Valjean imprisoned. Justice demanded it. But when the Bishop went against every human instinct for revenge, it transformed Jean Valjean’s life forever.

Being offered such grace—when he had never even sought it—tore down all his defenses. He dedicated his life from that point to helping others. Valjean kept the candlesticks always as a reminder of grace.

The Transforming Power of the Grace of God

We could summarize most messages we hear at church with two words: “Be good.”

But we need to hear more than that. Why be good? Here’s one answer:

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.”—Titus 2:11–12

The grace of God is a constant theme in the Bible, and it culminates in the New Testament with the coming of Jesus (John 1:17). The word translated “grace” in the New Testament comes from the Greek word charis, which means “favor, blessing, or kindness.” We can all extend grace to others; but when the word grace is used in connection with God, it takes on a more powerful meaning. Grace is God choosing to bless us rather than curse us as our sin deserves. It is His benevolence to the undeserving.

Planting

This grace is unique and is God’s gift to us.  This week, how will you reflect on this grace? What does this actually mean to you?  May you, my brothers and sisters again remember that it is by this grace that our place in heaven is assured. It was freely given to you and nothing can separate us from this.

Grace and peace my friends.

The Candlestick

Did you notice the candlestick
That I gave to you today
You forget to take the best
When you had it all your way

Do you notice how I reacted
When you said all you had to say
The nonchalant casual reply
Before you went about your way

For you your words are not compelling
And your story is so small
You wonder why I don’t respond
Or say very little at all

But I forgive and pray for you
That one day you will grow
Into the story that you live in
For it’s greater than you know

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I’m not very good with criticism or ‘constructive feedback’. I’ve noticed that I may hear nine really good things, but it’s the one critical comment that will eat away at my soul. I usually tell myself that it’s really nothing, that “you just have to laugh about it,” and that those small paper cuts really don’t hurt. But they do.

Over time, these small afflictions or wounds build up and we experience “death by paper cuts.”

So what is the solution – not the band-aid solution, but the real solution – forgiveness.

Rob Bell, author of What We Talk About When We Talk About God says that we are called to forgive by going through three steps:

1. Name it. We shouldn’t just ignore it or minimize it. By naming why we are hurt we can disarm the wound’s secret control over us.

2. Accept it. Realize that you are hurt and don’t throw the pain back or nurse it secretly on the side.

3. Absorb it. This is the most painful part – what Tim Keller equates with a form of death. It’s really awful to absorb the wrongs others have done to you, but on the other side of that death is new life; resurrection that will empower you to love more like Christ.

The cross says the pain stops here. The way of the cross is a way of absorbing pain, not passing it on, a way that transforms pain from destructive impulse into creative power. When Jesus accepted the cross, his death opened up a way for the redeeming power of love ~ Parker Palmer

May you this week, come to realise that death by paper cuts can lead to new abundant life and a new hope. When you suffer from the paper cuts of life remember that there is One who has suffered before. May you come to know that forgiveness of others brings healing to you.

Death by Paper CutsDesperation

Another GroundHog day
Undigested dreams in my gut
Will I survive another day of
Death by paper cuts

I’m careful with my words
Use Howevers, not buts
But some people breath
Death by paper cuts

They won’t stop you cold
No sledgehammer and nuts
But if they surround you’ll suffer
Death by paper cuts

Heaven would be such relief
From all earthy doors slammed shut
But look for the resurrection after
Death by paper cuts

The created cosmic pattern
When life is your rut
Seek the abundant life after
Death by paper cuts

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It occurred to me the other day that I had been harbouring some unforgiveness for some time, in fact a long time, actually for over 20 years. I recall an incident with a friend of mine almost three decades ago that ended our friendship abruptly. I’m not sure who was at fault or who was to blame. It was probably me – I started it. I’ve noticed over the years how this unforgiveness, this unwillingness to let go has shaped my thinking about friendships. It’s faulty thinking. Like a short-circuit. Through a series of recent events I now recognize this for what it is. I recognize that I need to forgive, let go, and move on. It’s a gift I need to give to them and myself.

Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself
~Suzanne Somers

Forgiveness is no small thing. It is a brave thing to do. It requires courage, facing fears, feeling the flawed thinking and reaching out. Reaching out to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. With forgiveness comes healing, insight and understanding. This is what I hope and what I’m looking forward to. So today I’m asking for forgiveness from an old friend. I’ll be sending my friend a link to this post. In this act I hope that the cost and waste of time will be no more.

Forgiveness is the economy of the heart… forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits. ~ Hannah More

This story may be mine. You may see yourself or a friend in this story. We are all faulty, flawed and forgiven because Jesus paid the price on the cross. You can do the maths as well as me: 1 Cross + 3 Nails = 4 Given.  So what about you? Do you need to forgive, do you need to let go and move on? Here or somewhere this week be real – it may just help someone break free from their faulty and flawed thinking. Will you?

Forgiven

Forgive me
I never knew
How much our friendship
Meant to you

I never knew
How much your thought
For many years
The cost I bought

How much our friendship
Meant to me
More than you know
But now I see

Meant for you
This I know
Will your forgive
How much I owe

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A quick google will tell you that the average human being has around 60,000 thoughts per day?  That’s about one thought per second, assuming you think while you’re asleep? You do think when you sleep right?  Either way it’s still a lot of thoughts to think about.

I find this factoid really interesting.  First of all, I’d really like to meet this ‘average human being’ (aka John Doe in the US, The Man on the Clappham Omnibus in the UK, or the typical Kiwi in NZ). Secondly, I’d also like to know where the number 60,000 comes from?  Is this an average?  Maybe it’s really just one thought that grows arms and legs and takes a drive down through the Avenue of the Mind (one of my earlier poems). Anyway, I’ll take it for granted that someone has spent some time to work this out so let’s just say this is true.

How many of our thoughts are positive or negative? What’s the split?  I know that what I fill my mind with usually starts coming out my mouth pretty quickly.  I try really hard to surround myself with positive people and think positive thoughts, because I really believe you become what you think.  As Henry Ford once said, “If you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re right!”  It’s about that simple really.

What are you thinking about right now?  How many of your 60,000ish thoughts today were good, noble, and pure?  How many were just neutral (most of mine fall into this category), and how many had you travelling in reverse? 

Here’s some of my thoughts on this:

What Was I Thinking?

Unchecked thoughts
Flow through my mind.
Filling it fast
In a split second of time.

True thoughts?
Some do appear,
Of a moral compass
For my ship to steer.

Noble thoughts?
There are a few,
Of a royal kingdom
With mansions new.

Right thoughts?
There are some left,
They lead me straight
Through life’s hard test.

Pure and lovely thoughts
Are clearly there,
I cling to those
As the day draws near.

Admirable, excellent and
Full of praise?
These thoughts are first
And fill my days.

Of the thoughts I think
They change my view.
Perhaps one day
They’ll change me too.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true,
whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent
or praiseworthy—think about such things.
~ Philippians 4:8

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The Question

Share with me your hurts,
And I will turn them into character.
Speak to me your worries,
And I will change them into hope.
Ask me that question you’ve been longing to,
And I will answer you – if you listen.

Be still for one moment and close your eyes.
Empty your mind for just one minute.
Do you feel me working in your heart?

Sit beside the one you love,
And I will heal their hurt.
Walk beside the one you love,
And I will ease their trouble.
Ask me that question –
And I will be your answer.

For your purpose defines your character,
Your life gives hope,
And in your question,
You will find the truth.

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The Beach

Down to the beach of golden sand,
I walked with a small stick,
The tide was out, the sun was low,
I knew I had to be quick.

I found a piece of untouched sand,
That the tide had washed so clean,
It glistened in the morning sun,
It sparkled and shimmered it seemed.

I used the stick and started to write.
Those heavy words that had held me back,
All the things that I had to let go,
My troubles, my worries, my lack.

Before too long I had filled that beach,
Down by the water’s edge,
I walked back to soak up the view,
Of all my words etched in black.

The sun rose up, the waves rushed in,
And covered my words that day,
God took my story of my sin,
And washed it all away.

The tide groaned out, the sun sank low,
And on that golden shore,
The sand was untouched by human hands,
The story of sin was no more.

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I held Your hand today.
And I felt you begin,
To heal my rejected heart.
And it’s all that I could do,
To wait for the healing.

I forgave you the other day.
And I let go of your grip,
Of all that consoled me,
For far too long.

In Your touch today,
I felt the years wind back.
You were the same yesterday and today.
And it’s all that I can do,
To wait for the healing.

Time disappeared, like a lifting fog,
The fresh wound and the old scar became one.
The warmth of Your hand,
Became Your refining fire.

In my hand today,
You placed a seed,
Of hope, of love, and of a place to stand.
And it’s all that I can do,
To wait for the healing.

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