Tag Archive | Jesus Christ

TRIBUTE TO MY FATHER

Dear Readers,

On 7/17/2017, my father went to be with the Lord. That’s an awful lot of sevens, and that is interesting because the number 7 is often associated with perfection or completion in the Bible. What’s even more interesting is that his name, Kamal, in Arabic, means perfect.

I think he would get a kick out of that. 🙂

One of the things I remember the most about my father is how light-hearted he was and how easy it was to make him smile. Anytime I would come over, he’d grin from ear to ear like it was the first time he’d ever seen me.

As I grew older, I grew to appreciate his sweet disposition and sense of humor.  He was just one of those types of people that was a delight to be around…and he had a quick wit! One day we were at his Dr’s office for some tests. I asked him if he remembered the tech’s name. He did. He stated her name, and I said, “Baba, that’s right! You got it right!”  He smiled and said, “Of course, but I only remember the girls’ names!”

Yet this sweet, unassuming man also went through many difficulties – he moved his family to the U.S. with limited resources, cared for my mother through her illness, and persevered through his own failing health with a quiet strength. I’d often get so worried about him, only to discover that he would again surprise me with his energy and tenacity. I later came to understand that this perseverance came from a strong faith and trust in God. He lived a life that proved God’s love.

I remember once when I was going through a very difficult time in my life. He and I would take walks around the neighborhood every day after work, and I’d complain about my troubles. He’d look at me and say, “Margaret, if God will allow anything negative in your life,” – and he’d say this with emphasis – “it is for a very good reason.” He was right.

And when I had regrets, even the big ones, one of the most hopeful things he taught is that God can even use my mistakes to work together for my good and His glory.

I will always consider him a gift to us, one that I have often wondered how I could deserve.

One thing I am especially grateful and honored to have gotten from him is a love for word of God. My father was a prolific writer, and I think this interest was a strong and distinctive bond between us. I’d often joke with him about how I was most blessed of the three of his daughters to have seemed inherit this from him.

His legacy will live on in countless binders he has written, Bible Studies on every subject you can think of. He’s poured his heart into a study about the book of Galatians that’s been published in Arabic. I’m so grateful to continue his work and vow to publish it in English.

He was the spiritual leader of the family, teaching us of God’s love, even from an early age. I remember we would come home from church and he would always bring up the sermon and we’d discuss it over lunch. One day, reading from our children’s bible, he turned to each of us and told us that Jesus loved us enough to die on the cross for us. I remember that moment because it was the first time that I knew in my heart that someone had to, and I believed.

He lead me to the Lord, and without this, without the fact that he reflected Christ so much, without his demonstration of how life is to be lived, I would not be who I am today.

He was fascinated with Heaven, and often spoke of it with eager anticipation. I can’t imagine how much he is beaming from ear to ear right now, finally reunited with my mother and in the presence of God. It blows my mind that he has all of his questions answered now and is brought back into the arms of the God who created him.

Was my father perfect? If he was here today, he’d laugh and “Yes, of course, that’s my name!”  Yet although no one is perfect, Hebrews 1:14 tells us that because of Christ’s atonement for sin, one day we will all be made perfect:

For it says, “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified”.

Just like my father is now perfected in Heaven.

KEEPIN’ THE FAITH: OUR PROMISE OF PERSEVERANCE

 

Dear Readers,

“Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine, O what a foretaste of glory divine”1

We sing this old hymn from time to time, but I also wonder how many truly born-again Christians struggle with doubt when it comes to their salvation.

One of the things I love the most about the Doctrines of Grace is that it biblically asserts that any attainment of salvation, any price, and any means we have to God is dependent upon Him, not of ourselves, who can and will fail. Is there a greater security of a believer’s place in heaven that is greater than God Himself?

On the contrary, His word shows us that:

Since

…we are unable to save ourselves so…He saves us. (Eph. 2:1)

…we are unable to choose Him…so He chooses us. (Romans 9:18)

…we are unrighteousness…so Christ provides the means to salvation (John 6:37-38)

…we are given ears to hear…so He calls us (Romans 8:30)

What He has ordained to save, died to save, and called to salvation, He will preserve to the glory of His Name.

So, we, as products of God’s grace, Christ’s work on the cross, and the Holy Spirit’s calling will surely persevere to the end, eternally saved.

Thus, the fifth and final point in the Doctrines of Grace: The Perseverance of the Saints.

“He that hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6)

The word of God confirms this truth over and over:

“And this is the Father’s will, that of all He hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day” (John 6:39)

“I give unto my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28)

“There is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1)

While we may fall, while we may have times of spiritual weakness or rebellion, the Holy Spirit within each true believer’s heart will continue to convict. The believer will come forth, and go forth again unto the ways of the Lord.

I love the words of W.J. Seaton – “The salvation that begins in the mind and purpose of God must end in the fulfilment of His unthwartable purpose that those ‘whom he did foreknow’ are eternally united with their Saviour.”2

Blessed Assurance Indeed!

 

1) “Blessed Assurance” Christian Hymn – Lyrics – Fanny Crosby, Music –Phoebe Knapp, 1873

2) Pamphlet “The Five Points of Calvinism”, © The Banner of Truth Trust 1970, Reprinted 2012 by VersaPress, Inc. P.22

 

OF MANKIND AND BAD APPLES

Here’s something you never want to see… There, in the middle of a what you thought was a delicious, shiny apple is a worm, creeping out as if to defy you to take another bite. Um, no thank you, I’ll pass!

But how does it get inside the apple to start with? We may think it burrows its way from the outside, but the opposite is actually true. A fruit fly inserts a small, hollow tube from her body into a young apple. Then she releases her egg through the tube.  Soon afterwards, the egg hatches into a tiny white worm in the heart of the apple. *

 Apple 2

You may think I’m exaggerating with what I’m about to say, but I believe that bad apples and mankind have one thing in common – we’re both rotten to the core.

This is explained when you study the doctrine of Total Depravity as it refers to the inward condition of man. The Bible says that the heart of man is “deceitful and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9), born dead in transgression and sin (Psalm 51:5Psalm 58:3Ephesians 2:1-5).  This is not to say that an individual is as bad as he could possibly be, but that every part of him is tainted by his sin, that there is nothing within him that naturally wants to seek God. (Romans 3:10-11). To think that we are anything more is a delusion of pride.

In fact, the thought that we are all inherently evil may be downright offensive in this day and age, when “feeling good about yourself” is the chief goal of self-help books and even some Christian books. I’m not promoting an unbalanced, guilt-ridden view of man. What I am trying to do is shine a light on the fact that the Bible never says anything about having a “high SELF-esteem. When it states anything about the value of man, it’s always in light of what Christ has done for us. The thinking that we are polished and pleasing in ourselves alone is as deceptive as a beautiful apple that is really rotten inside.

Which is easier? To be selfish and greedy or to give to others? To lie or to suffer under the truth? The answer is easy. With no constraints, it’s much easier to seek ourselves and our own gain above anything else. To borrow a popular phrase, (and quite accurately in this case), we’re born that way. Think about it. Have you ever met a baby that doesn’t demand its own way? They have no concept of how their actions effect others. They make their needs known no matter what time of the day or night it might be. We don’t have to teach them how to be self-centered. However, they do have to be taught morals, selflessness, kindness or any other trait we hold valuable.

King David referred to this sin nature. He said, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). Elsewhere, He states, “Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies” (Psalm 58:3).

Like the worm in the apple, sin didn’t originate outside of ourselves, we inherited it within ourselves from our first earthly father, Adam. Genesis 3:1-7 describes the first sin of man, which was Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden. From that point on, human nature was tainted and passed down from generation to generation. Think of it this way: Nothing holy can come from what is unholy, like a bad seed cannot produce good fruit.

Romans 5:1 say it in a nutshell:

Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.”

We were condemned through one man, Adam, but we are justified (made right), through Christ (the second man mentioned, uppercase).

You see, Jesus Christ was never stained by original sin. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit (born of a virgin) and not of man. (Matthew 1:18, Isaiah 7:14). This means that He bypassed the sin nature of Adam. Equally important, He alone lived a perfect and holy life; He was the only One suitable to take on the condemnation we deserve, making the way possible for us  to stand blameless  before a holy God.

So if it is clear that no man naturally seeks God, how can anyone be saved? The answer is that God must overcome man’s depravity and open his eyes to his spiritual state, the condition of his core being. To understand that man cannot save himself may shatter the false hope of striving to be “good enough” for God. Yet it rightfully puts the high and exalted view of God as Sovereign, glorious, and our only hope.

To God be the Glory.

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6, ESV).

*http://superbeefy.com/how-do-worms-get-into-apples/

THE STORY OF A BLIND MAN ON A CLIFF

Blind man

Once upon a time, there was a blind man walking along the trail of a steep canyon. He was used to living on his own and was confident he could hike to the other side. However, as he began to tire, he became careless and started to zigzag along the trail.

Soon he began to walk much closer to the drop-off of a thirty foot cliff. Even though the brittle ledge began to crumble beneath him, he didn’t realize how dangerously close he was to the edge.

“I see you’re having trouble walking this trail”, a passing hiker said. He stopped and pulled some headphones out of his backpack. “Here’s some soothing choir music to comfort you. Peace along the way, my friend”.

So he continued, kicking up loose gravel and billows of dust with each step. His foot nearly slipped off a time or two, but he kept on, enthralled by the music.

A little while later, he came upon another hiker.

“You have so much potential,” he said. “Don’t ever criticize yourself.” He put a hand on his shoulder and smiled broadly. “Tell yourself that you are smart, that you are able, that you are loved. That’ll give you a shot in the arm, right buddy?” He stuck his hand out for a firm handshake and was on his way.

Shortly thereafter, he came across another hiker. “What you need to do”, this one insisted, “is realize that God wants you to succeed and prosper!” The blind man gave him a confused look, but he continued on, “You must boldly declare words of victory to reach your dreams of success and achievement!” With that, he gave him a pat on the back so hard that the blind man almost fell over. “Be a winner, not a whiner!” he added, yelling over his shoulder as he passed the blind man.

The blind man continued on, perilously close to the edge. Just before he was to take a step over the cliff that would be his last, a man came up from behind him and tackled him, rolling him towards the opposite wall of rock.

“Dude, are you okay?” he asked, dusting off his jeans. “You could have fallen over the cliff!”

“Man, what are you talking about?” the blind man replied, picking up his stick. “I’m fine, no thanks to you!”

“No, really, man, look…”

Frustrated, the hiker stops in mid-sentence when he realized the man couldn’t see.

“Umm….listen,” he states, as he picked up rocks and threw them over the cliff. “Hear that?”

“Hear how long it took for those rocks to hit the ground?”

Seeing the look of disbelief on the blind man’s face, he continues.

“HELLO!” he yells, putting a hand up to his ear.

….. “HELLO …Hello …hello”  the canyon echoed back.

“See what I mean?” he asked.

The blind man began to shake. He got down on his hands and knees, and crawled ever so slowly towards the edge. He ran his hand along the rim, and backed off again.

Horrified, he quickly scooted back to the canyon wall.

“My God, you’re right!”

“Yes, buddy,” He replies, “I’m just glad it wasn’t too late.”*

*******

 Dear Friends,

The blind man in this story desperately needed one thing—a strong warning–not soothing music or a pep talk.

Seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? And yet, I believe that many of our pulpits today shy away from an equally dire warning, which is the warning of the seriousness and consequences of sin.

In an effort to stay popular and not scare anyone away, the teaching and proclamation of the whole gospel is avoided and traded in for a more “relevant” and “less offensive” message.

I wonder how often we hear the word Repent.

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19)

True repentance isn’t merely a passing remorse out of a shallow fear of punishment; it is a heartfelt conviction, an attitude of humility and gratitude for God’s forgiveness. It is turning away, in both the mind and heart, from the self to God. It comes out of an honest look at the reality of sin and the need for God’s grace.

Just like the last hiker in the story who warned the blind man of the danger of the ledge, we as believers are told to show the same diligence and urgency about sin. We are to “save others with fear, pulling them out of the fire.” (Jude 23)

Lest anyone think that Christianity is nothing but “hell, fire, and brimstone”, it isn’t a denial of God’s judgment either…and when I say judgment, I mean that we will all stand before God one day. However, as surely as I say this, I can also say that those who know Christ as Lord and Savior will be overwhelmed by His great love, a love that allowed His Son to the cross to pay for our sin.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18)

My hope is that you do attend a church that is dedicated to teaching the pure and simple gospel message, and that you have come to know Christ as a result of repentance of sin. If you have not, I urgently plead to you to make that decision today. Your eternal destiny depends on trusting Christ as the only one who can and has taken that awful penalty away.

Consider the church you attend. Do you hear the full gospel story, both the bad news as well as the good news? Is the fact that we are all sinners in dire need of God’s mercy clearly communicated? Does your church adhere to preach the reality of hell to those who do not know Christ as Lord and Savior?

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” – John 5:24

* Original story, inspired by a metaphor by Kirk Cameron, “The Way of the Master”

 

 

 

 

 

ANNOUNCEMENT: I’VE CONVERTED TO EVERY RELIGION! (JUST IN CASE)

Religious symbolsHey, I have a great idea. With so many religions in the world, I hate to think I was wrong all this time. Why not follow all of them? Why not just play it safe and cover my bases by worshiping every god? I mean, just in case?

If I convert to every religion, I can stand before whoever turns out to be god and say, “Hey, remember me? I was on board! Sure was busy, though. As a Muslim, I made my way to Mecca faithfully. As a Jew, I was at the temple every Saturday when I wasn’t working on my 2 year mission as a Mormon. I kept my Catholic rosary in prayers and confession, and let’s not forget about all my audits as a Scientologist! This blog would get a complete overhaul. I’ve got so many ideas! I would post vegetarian recipes to suit my Hindu faith and maybe a spell or two for my Wicca sisters, followed by Buddhist prayers throughout the week, and then of course, I’d rest on Sundays. The point would be that at the end of my life, I would be able to say, “God, whoever you are, I was a believer!

Having every faith would be like having a mutual fund. I could diversify across the board so I can spread my spiritual safety net as far as I can.

Sounds ridiculous? Yes, but that’s what the people of Athens did in the 17th Chapter of Acts:

“Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols… (Acts 17:16)

“Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an alter with this inscription:

TO THE UNKNOWN GOD

Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of Heaven and Earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. – Acts 17: 22-25

Paul noticed that the city of Rome was homage to every deity that men would worship. There were many shrines and relics dedicated to one god or another. He saw them everywhere he went. There was even one that they called “unknown” since they felt there may be a god beyond their ability to understand, and if they didn’t know him, they figured “better safe than sorry” and build a shrine to him too.

Paul seized the opportunity to speak to them right where they were spiritually. “You wonder who this ’Unknown God’ is?” he asked, “I’ll tell you…” Then he proceeded to describe Him as the creator of the world, the one whom gives to all things. He was the one and only. He was not just the missing piece, He was the whole picture.

People can have a “just in case” mentality about God. They are not sure which god is the true god, so they are on board with all of them. Just like the Athenians, they subscribe to all religions, or believe that “all roads lead to the same end” to cover their bases. As “politically correct” as that may sound, it can’t logically be true. On a rational level, I thought of some reasons why:

  • Where will you spend eternity? Are you going to heaven? Will you be reincarnated, stay in purgatory, continue to various stages of being, be annihilated, or go to hell? Can’t be all of the above.
  • Who is your true master? Converting to all religions does nothing if you don’t truly believe in them, do they? Does any god want less than your all? Would he really have his rightful place as god if he didn’t?
  • Can you serve both God and Satan?

By saying “no matter who is true, I’m going to be onboard with all of them”, you are effectively cancelling out all of them.

Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father except through Me.”- John 14:6

If someone claims to be the Son of God, fulfilled prophecies, performed miracles, rose from the dead, and made such an all or nothing statement, wouldn’t you think twice about His exclusive claim to deity?

FIVE TIPS FOR ANYONE FRAZZLED BY LIFE

hourglassLife drives me crazy. I run around chasing my own tail and it shouldn’t be that hard to catch. We’re all given the same amount of hours in a day, and yet, why is that some people seem to have the secret ability to stash extra amounts of it away like leftovers out of the freezer? Just thaw and re- use! (If you are one of them, may I have a couple of zip-locks? I’ll take 2 half-hours and one 15 minute bag, please).

So on this, my first day of vacation, I recognize that I’m a different person without the demands of my workweek. I’m more relaxed, more available, more creative and easier to live with. I’m hanging on to very last bit of time off like fingernails on a crumbling cliff. I know it shouldn’t be that way. I don’t believe God intended us to run around frazzled and out of balance. Jesus never did, and He accomplished more in one lifetime than any one of us.

Keeping that in mind, I turn to God’s word and examine Jesus’s life from this angle. How did He live? How did He spend and manage His time? It may be true that He lived in a different era and culture, but the principles we can glean from how He lived and what He taught are applicable in any age.

1)      Jesus used His time for eternal purpose – Let’s take a wide lens look at the end result of all the time we are given. Sooner or later, there will be (or will not be) something to show for it. Did we, as Christians, accomplish what we were commissioned to do, that is, to know God better and make Him known? If we don’t have an eternal priority, it won’t matter what we did with the details. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What activities can I do today that further the purpose of knowing Him and making Him known?
  • What gifts and talents do I have to use towards His purpose for me?
  • Is there a ministry or direction I know God is leading me towards? How can I move towards that goal?

With that in perspective, what observations can we make from Jesus’s life that we can emulate?

2)      Jesus delegated – I find it interesting that even the Son of God delegated tasks to others. He chose a group of disciples to extend His ministry and assist Him. (Luke 6:12-13). By using others, this confirms not only what God intends for our lives (see above point), but it’s also a practical application that we can also delegate tasks to others so we can focus on what’s important. This can be applied in so many ways. Is your 9-5 taking over your life? Is your house out of order? Are you involved in outside projects that others can do for or with you? Who can you delegate work to that would free you up to do your part? Points to ponder.

3)      Jesus rested – In Mark 4:38 we read that Jesus rested. This is a big one for me. I think much of the time I’m so stressed is that I think I can be superwoman and do everything, and I find that I can’t because I am dead tired. This principle is even mentioned in Genesis in creation. It says that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. (Genesis 2:2). Not that He needed to; this simply means that He ceased creating on the 7th day and commemorated the Sabbath. On the other hand, we can go to the other extreme, which brings me to my next point-

4)      Jesus wasn’t slothful – I don’t see one time that Jesus gives a hint of laziness. Resting, yes, but wasting time, no. Yes, we have so many modern distractions now with all our entertainment and technology, but I think we can all sense when those time-zappers are sucking up our lives. There’s that little voice in the back of your mind that kicks and tells you wake up, figuratively or literally! What may be helpful here is to make that to-do list and keep it where it can be seen at all times, and the discipline and prayer to stick to it.

5)      Jesus took time for others – If Jesus took the opportunity to meet the needs of others time and time again, I would think that’s an important investment for you and I as well. There are needs all around us. We can’t ignore family, and we don’t have to look far for a friend or stranger in need. Are we so busy or focused on our lives, trying to catch up on a poorly lived week that we can’t lend a hand? I ask myself that if Jesus took so much time out to minister, teach, heal or even just visit with others, then maybe fellowship and connecting with others needs to be important to us as well.

Consider the principles above and compare your life to them. It might help (and I’m talking to myself here just as much) to make a log of how our time is used over the last week. How much time did each task or activity take? Look around. Where are the leaks? What can be done to fix them?

Here’s some more scripture on the subject:

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, Yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest– and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man. (Proverbs 6:6-11)

So teach us to number our days that we may have a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. (Col. 4:5)

I’m sure I haven’t exhausted this topic. (no pun intended). Please let me know of any other tips and principles I’ve left out. Does time management come easy to you or do you struggle with juggling all the demands of life? Are you someone who may have struggled in the past but have found some victory in this area? Would love to hear from you!

HOW TO FORGIVE WHEN YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE IT

Forgiveness doesn’t come easy for me. Even as I write, I know that it won’t be long before I need to cross off another offense and I know where I fall short. I imagine it isn’t easy for many of us.

Yet Christ didn’t mess around when He said, “if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:15).

Later in the New Testament, Paul says, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”(1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

Take these two scriptures together, and it’s a tall order. Are we supposed to “forgive” because we have to? What if we don’t mean it? What good is to forgive if it isn’t sincere? According to this passage, our words and/or deeds are nothing without love.

So it’s a catch 22 – I need to obey Christ, but I don’t want to be a hypocrite. If I don’t want to be a hypocrite, I’ll wait to “feel” like it…but if I never feel like it, I’ll never forgive….

The struggle between what we should do and what we desire is nothing new, even to a strong Christian leader. Paul describes this struggle in Romans 7:18 – “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”

The answer to this dilemma is that we cannot win this battle alone. As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit within us. Listen to Paul’s words to the Ephesians:

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness.”

In the end, God is the one that energizes and empowers us to have His mind and heart on any matter, and forgiveness is not an exception. We initially obey, and in obeying, we not only comply with God’s command, but we also agree to have our hearts changed in the process.

John MacArthur said it well:

“Forgiveness is first of all an act of the will. It is not hypocrisy to will forgiveness when the emotions are screaming for vengeance. Be obedient to the Lord regardless of how you feel. If you refuse to harbor spite or dwell on the offense, evil emotions will be starved. Moreover, the Lord Himself will set your heart right. Right emotions will eventually come if you surrender to Him.”*

In closing, I want to share an account I read by Corrie Ten Boom, a Christian woman who was arrested and sent to a concentration camp for hiding and protecting Jews during the Nazi occupation in Holland, as she describes a very honest struggle to forgive one of her captors. It’s lengthy, but worth the read:

“It was in a church in Munich that I saw him—a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands…

One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights; the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor; the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!

“Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: ‘A fine message, Fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!’

“And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women?

“But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.

“ ‘You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,’ he was saying, ‘I was a guard there.’ No, he did not remember me.

“ ‘But since that time,’ he went on, ‘I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein,’ again the hand came out—’will you forgive me?’

“And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place—could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?

“It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

“… I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. ‘… Help!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’

“And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

“I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’

“For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then”**

Want to read more about forgiveness? Check out my soon-to-be-released Bible Study on the Book of Philemon. AnInvitatiotoForgive_FrontCover_Final_72dpi - Small 160x160

It explores other questions about the subject such as:

    • What is the character of someone who forgives?
    • On what basis should we forgive someone who has offended us?
    • What are the dynamics of forgiveness?
    • What are the purposes of God in forgiveness?

Read more here, and please fill out the form on the link if you’d like to be kept in the loop about upcoming publications and projects, as well as qualify for a chance to win a free copy!

 

* http://www.gty.org/resources/positions/P05/answering-the-hard-questions-about-forgiveness
**(excerpted from “I’m Still Learning to Forgive” by Corrie ten Boom. Reprinted by permission from Guideposts Magazine. Copyright © 1972 by Guideposts Associates, Inc., Carmel, New York 10512>).