Poetry Friday034


Homeless woman with dogs

Image by Franco Folini via Flickr

In passing

“I wish I had a house too,” she said, as I walked past her on the narrow city sidewalk.
Her young son, looking into her face as she spoke, pricked something in me.

Are they homeless, or renters?
They don’t look homeless, and
why should I care, it’s
not my problem.
Same sun shining down on all of us
Social umbrella wide open for rainy days, and it’s
not raining now.

So I kept walking.

I took the elevator up to my second floor desk,
overlooking upscale condos with private terraces,
trendy loft apartments, and ground floor commercial.

There,
just outside my
glass curtain

wall,

the street below me (below my superior sight lines)
existed only in traffic sounds now, and the hum of
the lawn maintenance crew lulled me with the familiar.

She walked away.
She did.
Not just me.

Seed of Samaritan squelched, I returned to my work – pursuing purpose.

She’s still walking.
Son at her side,
sun on her shoulders,

walking.

September 2010

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It was personal, and it still is.


John 19 (NIV)

Jesus Sentenced to be Crucified

1Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck him in the face.

4Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” 5When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

6As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”
But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”

7The Jews insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”

8When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”

11Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

12From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”

13When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour.
“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.

15But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

16Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

The Crucifixion

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

19Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read:|sc JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”

22Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

23When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

24“Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”
This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said,
“They divided my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.”[a] So this is what the soldiers did.

25Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” 27and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

The Death of Jesus

28Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

31Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,”[b] 37and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”[c]

Understanding Forgiveness


For those of you just joining us, we are looking at the subject of forgiveness with my friend and fellow blogger Donna Lowe. I introduced you to Donna in my recent interview with her.

Today, Donna is looking at one Bible story that has forgiveness written all over it. It’s the story of David, a man who was called, ‘A man after God’s own heart’, yet David needed God’s forgiveness in his life too.  David was guilty of some pretty big and ugly stuff, including adultery and murder! So, David’s story can help us to see that God is able and willing to forgive us of the big and little stuff, if we come to him in the right attitude and motivation of heart and spirit, like David did.

I trust that as you read today’s blog you will come to a fresh or a renewed understanding of God’s forgiveness, available to you and for you.

Understanding Forgiveness – Part One

David – A symbol of God’s abundant Pardon.

We all need forgiveness.  We all have people we need to exonerate.  Though we know we should, and maybe we even know why, most of us do not know “how” to forgive.  Sadly, too many people are living as prisoners, bound by the chains of unforgiveness.

Forgiveness is not a human inclination.  Whether giving or receiving forgiveness, we tend to reject the idea that it’s the best way.  True forgiveness is contingent upon our faith in Jesus.  Without Him, forgiveness is impossible!

As we begin to understand the amazing pardon God has made available for us, both to give and receive, it is my hope and prayer that you would experience the freedom in forgiveness and that those chains loosen

God knew it would be hard for us to understand, and because He knew we would always be looking for a “loophole,” God gave us many clear illustrations of what forgiveness really means, infact, it is the central theme of the entire Bible.  David’s story was no exception.

David was just a boy when he was hand picked by God to be the future King of Israel.  You might remember the story of David and his famous fight with the giant Goliath.  David did many wonderful things for God.  At one point God even called David,  “a man after His own heart.”  However, it is David’s fall into sin that is the focus of our attention today.

Why are we focusing on David’s sin, if there was so much that was good about him.  The short answer is because God did.  “And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, According to the faithful mercies shown to David.  Behold I have made him a witness to the peoples.”  Isaiah 55:3. God used David’s story as a symbol of His abundant pardon.

Here is a quick synopsis of David’s fall:

After David became King of Israel, the Israelites went to battle against the Syrians.  While his army was at war, David remained in the comfort of his palace.  At the end of a blistering hot day, David wandered out onto the roof top to enjoy the cool of the evening.  From this vantage point, David was able to see into the home of Bathsheba.  David’s gaze fell upon this beautiful woman as she was bathing.

Bathsheba was married to Uriah.  He was the loyal commander of David’s army.  Though David was also married, the temptation was more than he could resist.  While Uriah was out fighting for the nation of Israel, David sent for Bathsheba, slept with her, and she became pregnant.

Rather than owning up to his mistake, David tried to cover it up.  He sent for Uriah, and on several occasions, tried to manipulate Uriah into sleeping with Bathsheba, to alter the evidence.  Uriah, loyal to the army, refused to indulge himself while the others were still at war.  When that plan failed, David conspired and intentionally had Uriah sent to the front lines, so that he would be killed in combat.

Because God is Holy, he cannot condone sin.  The penalty for sin is death!  However, because of His amazing Grace, He had a plan for reconciliation.  Even before we knew we needed it – God prepared a way for us.  From David’s story, let’s try to grasp the principles God wants us to learn.

Does God have restrictions?

God’s forgiveness is abundant, while we have many conditions.  We will forgive some people, but not others.  We find some offenses easier to forgive, while others are just too big.  We will forgive someone once, maybe twice, but we will not be a doormat for anyone.

In Isaiah 55:8&9 God reminds us, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9.  We simply must understand forgiveness from a Godly perspective!

Who Qualifies?

Isaiah 55:1a reads, “HO!  Every one who thirsts, come to the waters.”  Not long ago I heard an amazing teaching on the single word “Ho.”  The word is spoken is a loud shout, coming from the inner soul.  It is like a deep groaning that surfaces and cannot be contained.  “Ho” portrays God’s longing to get this word out to the people.  “Ho!  Every one who thirsts,” qualifies for God’s promise.  We all have a thirst.  It is the deep longing inside each of us that only God can satisfy.  Forgiveness from God, it is like water to a parched soul.

How much does it cost?

God accepts us as we are.  Because Jesus paid the price on the cross, forgiveness is free to anyone who seeks Him.  Isaiah 55:1b.  “And you who have no money come, buy and eat.  Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost.”

How much is too much?

All sin is equal to God.  “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”  James 2:10.  God does not compare your sin, to mine, or mine to another’s and decide on some scale of “better or worse,” who will receive a pardon and who will not, as we do.  You and I, David the murderer, and even Billy Graham, we are all equal to one another in God’s eyes.

What is the limit?

We often limit the number of times we will forgive one another.  Imagine if God had said to David, “David, I definitely could have forgiven you, if all you had done was sneak a peak at Bathsheba while she was bathing.  Ok, maybe, just maybe, I might have been able to forgive the adultery.  Fool me once, shame on you!  Fool me twice shame on Me.  But David – three strikes and you are out!  You just had to go and murder Uriah.  You can’t expect me to forgive you now!”   God in His Grace forgave David for His sins.

Time sensitive offer.

“Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is Near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. “  Isaiah 55:6&7

We do not know when our lives will end, nor do we know the life span of another.  This is a decision that demands immediate attention.

Have you accepted God’s abundant pardon?  Do you have someone you need to forgive?

Seek the Lord while He may be found.  Call upon Him while He is near.

Shalom Aleichem.

~dl.

There’s just something about canceled debt…


Last night we had a fire in the big terracotta flower pot by our front door, drank some sparkling wine as the fire burned, and had our son take some photos of our celebration. It is against the local bylaws to burn anything, unless it’s a fire for the purposes of cooking food. But it was only a teeny tiny fire, and out almost as quickly as it started. Please don’t tell!

So, we put matches to paper and burned away the remaining evidence of a long-term debt that is now paid off. What a feeling of relief and release. For the very first time our home really is our home.

I remember our first home, and the first time we got a mortgage statement in the mail, and how shocked I was at the small percentage of principal we had paid versus the large amount of interest. The reality of our debt hit hard. The years of payments ahead seemed endless at the time. Then, suddenly, we are free!

Being free of this particular debt now frees up funds for the next phase of our lives. Our kids are growing older, and years of University/College expenses loom just ahead. With finances freed up, our desire to be more philanthropic and ensure financial stability in our elder years now seems attainable.

I shared my new feelings of lightness and freedom with a dear friend whom I knew would celebrate with me. And she understood completely. Her thoughts around canceling her own long-term debt were that if something should happen to her husband, and they had the mortgage paid off, at least she’d have the family home for her and the kids… a solid place to land. She is such a good mom.

But what about the other debts we carry that weigh on us, like debts of action or inaction that have effected others in a negative way? My husband would call that guilt… and so it is. The debt of guilt. Now that’s another heavy thing that we don’t need to carry around with us, but we do. To live lightly, without guilt, requires a type of payment too. To pay this type of debt, you might need to take some action, forgive someone, or, alternately, you might need to ask someone’s forgiveness. Only then can you unload the guilt and start fresh. And being human means you, like me, probably have to do this A LOT!

And, what about the debt of sin? Maybe not a word you are comfortable with, but sin is something that I can’t ignore in my life. If you consider what the Bible says, and you believe it to be true, then it’s clear that there is no such thing as someone who is free of sin.  The Bible says, “No not one”. So, if we aren’t free of it, what’s the outcome of that human condition? The Bible says, “The wages of sin are death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.”

Now, the wages of sin sound a lot like a debt to me?  Let’s look at how another version called The Message says it, “Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.” In this case, wages or pension is the natural outcome of where you’ve made your life investment. If it’s in sin, then the outcome is eternal separation from God. If you’ve invested in God, then the outcome is eternal life with God.

You might be thinking, I’m a good person. I try hard not to sin. I do my best to follow the 10 commandments and the golden rule. So do I. But it’s virtually impossible to do. We all fall short of a God who is Holy. No matter how hard we try, we fall short. Bible says our very best acts of righteousness are just like dirty rags before God. So, like that financial obligation (mortgage) that we worked and worked at, and paid only a tiny part of the principle for years, so this sin debt is not within our power to pay. And, if we desire to be with God, be one of his children, be made right and without sin, then that debt of sin, that obligation, needs to be canceled somehow.

So, here we are faced with the reality of having a huge debt to pay and no way to pay it. And God steps in and says, here, here is my Son. He will pay. Jesus will pay your entire debt and give you complete freedom from what you owe due to your inherent sin condition. And my Son will pay your debt with his life. He will die so you can live. Live forever, starting the moment you receive my gift of forgiveness and new life.

As we go through Lent, a time of preparation that leads us to the holy season of Easter, I can’t help but think about what Jesus paid FOR ME, and what he gave TO ME. Jesus gave me ultimate freedom and eternally canceled debt. In return I want to invest my life in him and his ways. That’s a mystery in itself, but one I’m willing to unpack day by day.

Today I’m celebrating freedom from financial and spiritual debt. And I feel light. I feel free.

Lesley-Anne