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A Useful Servant

If you ever talk to a non-Christian and they give you the line, “The Bible is just some old book written thousands of years ago and society has evolved since then,” you might want to share the story of a slave named Onesimus, which means “Useful.”  Not the Onesimus in the book of Philemon – we’ll get to him later.  No, the Onesimus of 1716.  It shows God’s total sovereignty over this world and how He weaves His way throughout all time.  He works through all of us to complete His plan – whether a believer or not.  The story of the black slave Onesimus shares striking parallels to the Bible’s slave written of in the New Testament.  

Puritan minister Cotton Mather of Boston was gifted a slave by a parishioner in 1711. It’s believed Mather changed the slave’s name to Onesimus. And like Philemon’s slave, Onesimus was considered a liar and a thief by his master.  But in 1716, Onesimus told Mr. Mather something he did believe: That he knew how to prevent smallpox. He shared with his master how in his home country people would rub pus from an infected person into an open wound on the arm.  This would cause mild symptoms and would inoculate the person against smallpox.

Mather was fascinated. He verified Onesimus’ story with that of other enslaved people.  Mather, while attempting to spread this great news during the smallpox epidemic, was vilified.  How dare he take the word of a slave? A black slave at that? But Mather pressed on. Combining efforts with physician Zabdiel Boylston, the two inoculated their children and enslaved workers.  They then began inoculating other willing Bostonians.  Of the 242 people they inoculated, only six died—one in 40, as opposed to one in seven deaths among the population of Boston who didn’t undergo the procedure.

While history doesn’t give much credit for Onesimus being a key part of the development of immunizations, he can be found in the story.  Like Naamans’ Jewish slave girl, his desire to be useful and seeking a better relationship with his master saw him sharing a cure for so many.  

"It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— 10 that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me." Philemon 1:9-11

How useful are we to God?  How are our new beginnings lived out for the world to see the glory and gifts of God?  For the Boston slave Onesimus, he appeared to never have accepted his master’s Christian religion.  He did, however, buy his own earthly freedom by giving Mather enough money to purchase a different slave.  But for the Bible’s Onesimus, who stole from his master and ran away to Rome, his freedom was purchased for him.  Once by Jesus, when he, after being discipled by both Philemon and Paul, accepted the Lord as his savior.  And his earthly freedom was paid for by Paul who stated, “If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.”  (v 18)

Paul exhibited a great lesson of our faith in Jesus, to stand for those who cannot stand on their own.  And in doing so, lived out an example for Philemon to follow.  If Philemon believed in what Jesus taught, not just believed “in” Jesus, he knew he must live out the fruits of the spirit – kindness, compassion, forgiveness, grace, etc.  This was no small feat.  Just as in the world of the 1700s, slaves were a valued commodity.  And allowing a slave to run away without punishment was bad enough, but to allow a thieving slave (like both were) to do so was unheard of.   Mather suffered public humiliation by accepting his slave as an equal partner in curing a deadly disease.  Philemon was certain to suffer the same fate from other slave owners if he accepted Onesimus back as an equal in Christ.

But what about the Bible’s Onesimus?  Where does he fit in God’s plan?  Notice that our worldly sins and crimes are not erased without any repercussions.  Paul did not say Philemon should just welcome Onesimus back with all debts forgiven.  A crime had been committed and it needed to be repaid by someone.  

Onesimus took a number of steps in his life to become useful to God.  He first sought out Paul in Rome when his life had become a mess.  He accepted Jesus as his savior.  And like the first 3,000 Christians, he sat at the feet of a great teacher to learn about Christ and his expectations of us.  He then, apparently, asked to go home and face Philemon, his old master.  

15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord. Philemon 1: 15-16

We can only imagine the scene of Onesimus and his fellow travelers arriving at Philemon’s door.  Hat in hand.  A posture of humility most likely.  Asking for forgiveness.  He became God’s instrument to help others learn how to forgive, how to love, and how being a Christ follower transforms us.  My friend Andrea has been the person in my life to model forgiveness.  I’ve watched how she has forgiven well-trod hurts and has been eternally grateful for receiving forgiveness.  By seeing her transformation, it has helped to transform my heart.  She has been very useful to God!

Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 steps are well known by many.  And placed in a Christian context may help some of us to follow in Onesimus’ footsteps to being fully available for God’s purposes.  To be “useful” in our new beginning.  With a few minor edits, those 12 steps are:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over (sin)—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Come to believe that (God) is greater than ourselves and can restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God (forgive) all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove(/forgive) our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to (all sinners), and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Jesus paid the price to be our intercessor, our kinsman redeemer.  We are accepted by Him in full.  But it’s now up to us to do the work to live out being acceptable to Christ each and every day with our new beginning.  

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Unburdened Your Heart

Lesson #7: Forgiveness of others brings us the blessings of Christ

It is as none other than Paul—an old 
man and now also a prisoner of Christ 
Jesus— that I appeal to you for my son 
Onesimus, who became my son while I was 
in chains. 
Philemon 1:9-10

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness.  It keeps popping up in various Bible studies and readings.  And when that happens, I realize God is trying to tell me something.  So, the other day while in my “She Shed” – where I do my Bible reading and mediation – I just sat and did an inventory of the people in my life and those no longer in it.  My question for each face that popped in my head was “Is there something I haven’t forgiven in this relationship?”

There are people whom I actively must work at forgiving.  There’s one person in my neighborhood that, each time I see him I need to remind myself I no longer harbor ill feelings toward him.  It’s fascinating however, to pay attention to my whole body and mind when he enters my sphere.  I remind myself I have forgiven him yet my body wants to remember the hurt feelings.  It’s a brief little battle that, thankfully Jesus and the Holy Spirit help me to win.   In fact, the last time I saw him I thought it was a different neighbor and I waved.  When I realized who it was, I did a mental flip – “Ugh, why did you wave to him of all people?  You’re just not supposed to think anything and move along!”  But waving gave the impression I was happy to see him.  I suddenly realized in my mini battle that it was again the Holy Spirit forcing me to step out of my comfort zone and not just be “neutral” but be kind.

That individual aside, I came to an even greater realization about my need to forgive.  These days I can’t think of a greater forgiveness need in me than to forgive my church.  Actually, just about all churches who have shuttered their doors during such desperate times.  

But let me back up a bit.  Today, we jump into the little book of Philemon.  Paul, currently imprisoned in Rome, writes to a wealthy Christian friend in Colosse concerning the slave Onesimus.  Onesimus took off from Philemon’s household having stolen from him.  Onesimus found himself in the company of Paul and was converted.  And now Paul humbly asks Philemon to forgive his slave and allow him to return.

I remember as a child my mom talking about converted prisoners.  She scoffed at the idea that murderers and thieves could “find Jesus” and change their lives.  She thought it was all just a ploy to get out of jail earlier or to garner forgiveness without truly repenting.  And she may be right in some cases.  Who is to know the heart of a sinner but God?   

I wonder if Philemon thought the same?  To Onesimus’ benefit he had the great apostle Paul standing up for him.   How often have we held out forgiving someone because they didn’t meet our list of requirements for forgiveness?  The person in my neighborhood that I must remind myself to forgive frequently?  He hasn’t ever asked me for forgiveness.  He’s never acted in a way that showed he even knows he needs my forgiveness.

My church, who locked their doors and turned me away from praying at the outdoor steps of the sanctuary, doesn’t see any need for me to forgive them.  The elders and pastor who either ignored my pleas for help or worse, said hurtful things, have not asked for forgiveness.  So why should I forgive them?  Why should Philemon forgive a man to whom he gave so much and then stole from him?

I once was in a discussion about forgiveness during a Bible study.  The leader, who also was an elder in the church, said to the group, “You can’t forgive someone unless they have paid a price or asked for forgiveness.” (There’s that Biblical truth issue popping up!) Now, I’m working on my path from being a “baby Christian” to a mature one but even I know that’s just not sound Jesus teaching.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 
“Lord, how many times shall I forgive 
my brother or sister who sins against 
me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, 
“I tell you, not seven times, but 
seventy-seven times."
Matthew 18:21-22

The thing I like about this conversation in Matthew is he deals with a real world situation.  So many of us keep doing things that need forgiveness from others.  And Jesus says to keep on forgiving – each and every time.

I was reading about forgiveness and came across this list of spiritual characteristics of someone who forgives:

  1. Concern for his place with God
  2. Concern for people
  3. Concern for fellowship
  4. Concern for knowledge
  5. Concern for glory
  6. Concern for blessing

My response to the Bible study leader was that if her “rules” about forgiveness were true then how can we forgive people who have already died but negatively impacted our lives?  Or how can we forgive people that either don’t have anything to do with us anymore or have no idea they did something wrong?  Under her idea so many of us would live with a horrible burden of pain and hurt and anger.  And Jesus doesn’t want that for us.  He wants to shower us with that glory and those blessings listed in the “forgiver characteristics.”

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
Mark 11:25

Against anyone – for any reason.  But the most important part of the forgiveness lesson?  “So that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”  I want to be forgiven because I know I have a lot for which I need to be forgiven.  Therefore, I need to search my heart and truly forgive our churches.

I’ve learned a lot this last year about compassion and our human tendency to live in fear.  And although our pastors preach to have faith rather than fear, we fall back into the flesh so easily.  I do it, you do it and our church leaders (who are just humans too) do it.  It doesn’t make me feel good to see our churches closed but I also don’t want to have the burden of unforgiveness on my heart and soul.  I realized I can be sad and still forgive.

I like that in this letter to Philemon, Paul doesn’t demand that the slave Onesimus be taken back into the household.  Paul wields a lot of authority.  He could’ve just said, “Take him back and don’t be mean to him.”  But God wants our hearts.  Jesus and the Holy Spirit work on our transformation.  That’s why each time I see what was previously my “nemesis” in the neighborhood I know the Holy Spirit is working in me.  My hand was purposely lifted up to wave at him – not the mistaken neighbor.  To help my heart be free of any last morsels of unforgiveness.

Friends, I have seen the miracle healing of forgiveness in others.  I have felt it in myself.  It’s there for the taking for you.  Let’s be like the father of the prodigal son – from a long way off he saw his son returning.  He didn’t know why his son was coming back.  It could’ve been to ask for more money.  Instead of looking out the window and thinking every bad thought, he ran to him. (Luke 15:20) He tucked his tunic between his legs and ran to hug him in front of the townspeople.  He might’ve needed to forgive him a few more times in the course of their lives, we don’t know.  But the joy he had with that one action has given us the lesson for the ages.

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Free To Be

But one thing I do: Forgetting 
what is behind and straining 
toward what is ahead, I press 
on toward the goal to win the 
prize for which God has called 
me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 3:13-14 

A prayer to live without regret

Holy God, it’s been many years since I accepted your gift of salvation, which along with that gift came forgiveness.  And yet, so often I am unable to forgive myself.  My heart still twinges when I think of the times I lived in sin.  And once saved, I look back at the years I realize I wasn’t fully committed to obeying your Word.  I’ve wasted enough time, however, not accepting your grace.  I am learning how much you love me, LORD.  And with that, I’m working to accept that I am a new person because of your son Jesus.  The old me can’t take up any more precious time when you are filling up my heart with overwhelming love.  I admit I sometimes need stern admonishment from you to keep me on track.  But at other times please send me a gentle kiss or unexpected hug to remind to live in today, not the regrets of the past.  I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.


I don’t know about you but I’ve done some very non-Christian things in my life.  I spent about five years of my younger life seeking inappropriate relationships with men.   I thought that if I turned over my precious gift of intimacy that I would find love.   We can watch endless movies, read countless novels, and dispense wisdom about how fruitless this path is and yet never seem to apply it to our own lives.

The first time I said a desperate prayer was when, at 19, I thought I was pregnant.  I begged God to save me from myself.  And He did.  I don’t really know why since I know others were not.  I bargained with God to do His part and I would stop such reckless behavior.  And I did not.  I wasn’t a Christian at the time – although I believed in God.  So maybe He was giving me a few allowances.  I won’t know until the day of my eternity when I can ask Him.

Fast forward a few years and I was a young mother with two kids.  I was a Christian by then.  And yet I continued, time after time, to disobey God.  Boy did that lead to a lot of unnecessary hardship.  Of these two situations it’s actually this second that I tend to regret the most.  Because I truly knew better.  I think of all the wasted hours of tears and painful relationships I could have avoided.  I think of the times I could’ve been a better mother and wife and friend had I just surrendered myself completely to God.

If we confess our sins, he 
is faithful and just and will 
forgive us our sins and purify 
us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9

I realize that by holding on to my forgiven past it’s like a log tied around one ankle.  It hinders me to fully grab onto the joy of today and promises of God.  It’s not that we need to forget our past.  We can learn a lot from our choices and their consequences.  But when we accept Jesus as our savior we must accept that we are now changed in our spirit.  Sometimes we just need to remind our heart and mind of that change.

Friend, I don’t know what sinful choices you may have made in your past, but Jesus came so we don’t need to live an entire life of repentance for our past regretful choices.  We need to turn those sins over to God only once.  And turn our faces toward today.  

There’s a lot from my past that I’m still working on fully releasing to God.  He has already forgiven me for them.  I just need to let go of the string and allow them to float into the heavens.  With His gentle reminders of His love for us we can be free.

If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!

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Strength Through His Promises

Say to those with fearful hearts, 
“Be strong, and do not fear for 
your God is coming to destroy your 
enemies. He is coming to save you.”
Isaiah 35:4

Peace Through Strength

A simple three-word statement can mean so many different things to so many different people. I was in high school and then college when President Ronald Reagan served his two terms as President of the United States. During this same period of time my political ideals began to mature and form. I was squarely aligned with conservative political principles and beliefs. I was what was known as a “Reagan Youth.”

Peace through strength was a common plank in the foundation of conservative beliefs. The political and strategic approach in those days was to build up superior defenses, troop numbers and weapons capabilities that created a deterrent for any foreign enemy considering a challenge. This led to the arms race and the escalation of tensions between the two most powerful and wealthy super-powers of the day. Our strength was determined by holding a tight grip on the sure demise of the enemy.

Those were the days of the Cold War. The U.S., under Reagan’s strong conservative stance was clearly and ideologically opposed to the Red Communist Russia– the “evil empire”. Mikhail Gorbachev was the leader of the Soviet party and the target of Reagan’s famous words while standing at the Berlin Wall – “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” President Reagan, understanding the opportunity at hand, called into focus his years of theatrical training and vocation, captured the world’s attention and started what would begin the eventual decline and crumbling of the Russian empire and it’s stranglehold on the Eastern bloc. 

But the Lord is faithful; 
he will strengthen you and 
guard you from the evil one.
2 Thessalonians 3:3

While many of my political beliefs, alignments and passions are similar today as they were 35 years ago, my perspectives have changed. Peace through strength has a different meaning to me now.

Peace doesn’t hold the same overarching meaning of “World Peace” and lack of foreign wars. Peace has become more personal and internal. The Hebrew word for peace is shalom and includes the notions of completeness, wholeness, fulfillment, harmony and well-being. 

That type of peace is not of my making but is delivered from the strength of God’s powerful promises and proven acts of salvation.

My peace through strength today comes from the foundational strength I know from promises that have already been delivered in my life from Jesus. My peace occurs because I know that regardless of what happened yesterday, what occurred today and what unknowns will occur tomorrow I am forgiven, protected and preserved for all time. My grip is not focused on keeping others who oppose me away. My hands are both firmly attached to the vine who guides, leads and sustains me.

My strength and peace lie in him and no one else.

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Amazing Proof

Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”

Luke 5:18-26


“Follow the science.”  “Believe in science.”  Sound familiar?  And yet throughout this year “science” seems to not be the concrete “savior” so many want it to be.  I once had a woman tell me she wears her mask to “show her love for me” because science says it’ll somehow save me that she is wearing a mask.  While I’m not here to debate wearing or not wearing a mask I can tell you that her wearing a mask doesn’t prove to me she loves me.  I’m appreciative when someone doesn’t sneeze or cough in my face but I don’t consider that a proof of their love for me either – it’s just courteous.

We are a people that love proof.  So often the proof we desire is that which validates our own opinions – even in the face of completely opposite proof.  My father is an atheist.  While I don’t expect everyone to suddenly be a Christian, the idea of not believing there is a Divine Entity that had its hand it creating us and the universe seems so, well, unscientific.  But just like the pharisees and teachers of the law in the verses today, sometimes we just have a hard time believing even when something amazing is happening right in front of our face.   They were so focused on their twisted version of the Law they couldn’t even allow the people to glorify God when faced with miracles.

And then Jesus.  Just the simple fact that the paralytic man’s friends knew that if they could just get him close to Jesus, he would be healed was amazing.  Where was their proof?  To passersby watching them up on the roof trying to lower him down might have scoffed and thought they were crazy.  But to the friends, they had only heard of Jesus’ miracles and put their faith in the unknown.  For the people inside the house watching Jesus heal the man they had all the proof they needed as to who He was.  And yet their sticking point was Jesus forgiving the man’s sins.  The healing proof still wasn’t enough for them.

I so frequently see things in nature, not just the amazing ecosystem God created for us humans to survive, but also the heart wrenching beauty and think, “How can anyone not believe there is a God?”  What more proof do they need?  Our bodies are fine tuned to this earth.  The circular systems of creating breathable air, water to drink, food to eat, and sunshine and darkness for our bodies to succeed are really all the proof we should need.  

My husband and I got four baby chicks back in March.  They are now big, beautiful ladies that lay eggs daily.  I asked my husband the other day, “Is there any other animal on this planet that works so hard to feed us humans?”  The chicken, according to the Smithsonian, dates back between 7,000 to 10,000 years.  It’s mentioned both in the Old and New Testaments.  And if you look up a picture of the innards of a chicken you’ll see it is quite simple.  In fact, it seems its sole purpose it to lay eggs.   There’s really nothing fancy and yet they are amazingly fascinating.  The process by which an egg ends up being an egg seems magical.  And yet it happens every, single day.  Each time I collect eggs I thank the ladies for their hard work.  Because I know the next step for that egg will be something delicious – nourishment for my husband before he heads off to work, a small but important part in homemade cinnamon rolls, the key ingredient to a souffle.  The chicken was made specifically to lay eggs – fertilized or not.  And we were made to eat them.

And yet we still want proof.  When I hear non-believers ask for proof I just smile.  They are their own proof.  Their amazingly complicated body system – the most complicated of all the animals on the planet – that’s their proof.  Every breath we take, that’s our proof.  And the fact that we are the only species to yearn for a purpose on this globe, to question why we are here, is even more proof.   Sometimes the proof we seek is in the absence of something.  For the pharisees, they wanted proof that Jesus could forgive sins.  And yet they witnessed a God-given miracle right in front of their faces.  

Goose bumps evolved to make our ancestors’ hair stand up, making them appear more threatening to predators.

As you breathe, most of the air is going in and out of one nostril. Every few hours, the workload shifts to the other nostril.

Your tongue is made up of eight interwoven muscles, similar in structure to an elephant’s trunk or an octopus’s tentacle.

On a genetic level, all human beings are more than 99 percent identical.

25 Amazing Facts About the Human Body by Mental Floss

How much amazing proof are you overlooking every day?  Every single minute of every single hour we take a breath, God proves His existence.  The “science” surrounds us.  It is us.  We are His amazing proof.

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Amazing Truths

And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”

The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

Mark 11:17-18


Recently, during a road trip my husband and I were listening to the Robertson’s Unashamed podcast.  The topic was the concept of being “cancelled” by society.  In 2014, GQ magazine contacted the Duck Dynasty patriarch, Phil Robertson, to delve into this bearded phenomenon.  During the interview he was asked for the definition of sin.  He went on to quote 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Cor 6: 9-10

And he got cancelled.  Literally.  The producers put the show on hiatus – for quoting the Bible.  Now, of course, we all can imagine the uproar.  The media quoted Mr. Robertson as though it were his own words, calling him a homophobe and all sorts of names.  Very few, in fact only a newspaper out of London, made it clear he was quoting from the Bible.  As we like to say now, it was a lot of fake news.  The truth was so easily accessed and so readily ignored.  Here was a man who had few, if any secrets – and absolutely none about his faith journey.  He was on an internationally televised show praying and preaching.  And yet amazingly enough the media seemed shocked he believed in, taught, and quoted the Bible.

Jesus, in Mark 11, walks into the temple in Jerusalem and begins driving out the street vendors.  When questioned by the chief priests He makes it clear what God expects from the people and the use of His temple.  The priests were so frightened by the truths being spoken to the people that they wanted Jesus “cancelled.”  But do you notice the last part of the sentence? “…because the whole crowd was amazed at His teaching.”  The people wanted to know the true Word of God and they listened with rapt attention.  It frightened those in charge of their probable loss of power over the people.

What Phil Robertson is comfortable with is teaching the true Word of God to the people.  Human sin is at the beginning through the end of the Bible. And much as we might like to, we aren’t to pick and choose from which sins God has spoken.  The truth of sin is written in every single book of the Bible.  When our pastors and faith leaders ignore these truths, it handicaps us in our full understanding of God’s character and His expectations of us.

My husband and I were talking about this after listening to the Unashamed podcast.  If we never hear that we are all sinners, we are left with the impression that maybe only some people sin or there’s various levels of sinfulness.  It isn’t just “those people” who are sexually immoral, who lie, who cheat, who create false idols.  It’s all of us to one extent or another.  That’s the truth.  I’ve never met someone in all the various Bible study and small groups that hasn’t admitted to some kind of sin.  But that’s only the first step to God’s amazing truths.

When the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth he chastised them for their lax ways related to sin, especially sexual sin. It was being justified through false teachings. And it was tearing them apart. If we don’t learn about sin how can we then learn true grace and forgiveness?  I want to be on the “right side” of God – not making up my own understandings.  When our faith leaders avoid uncomfortable conversations like abortion, homosexuality, infidelity, etc how then are we lay people to fully understand how to treat people with grace, love, kindness and forgiveness?  All are welcome to church but what does it mean to welcome someone who is sinning right now?  What does it mean to have been sexually immoral or have had an abortion and now I want to live a Christian life?

I sin constantly.  When I make a commitment to God to not use His name in vain and then turn around and cuss and use coarse language I’m sinning.  I have a very difficult time honoring my parents and not trashing them to my inner circle (heck, even my outer, outer circle).  I encouraged a friend to have an abortion. I lived with my husband before we were married.  I’m prideful.  I covet.  I place idols above God.  None of these make me any better or worse than those who commit the sins we tend to think as the “biggies.”  And yet we dance around the truth of sin and its effects on our lives and the world.

God is the Alpha and Omega.  He is always complete.  He is always teaching us and bringing us full circle.  We need to live in that completeness.  The completeness that His amazing truths, as revealed in the Bible, tell us includes opening our eyes to sin AND our hearts to grace.  Grace without the “what and why” is almost meaningless.  It’s like a teenager tossing a snide “sooooorrrryy.”  We want that teenager to understand what was wrong about their action and why.  The apology, when spoken from the heart, means so much more.  If we run around tossing out blind acceptance, thinking it is love and grace, we miss out on the opportunity to really dig into God’s amazing plan for us.  

I want to be held to account by God.  I want to be amazed by the truths written in His Book.   And if knowing and speaking those truths to fellow Christians or people asking me what God says about a topic then so be it.  Because I am learning the complete truth.  I am learning each day how to have open eyes tied to an open heart.  His amazing truths about my sin are made complete with His amazing truths about His love.