July 25, 2014

Things to Remember…Things to Forget

Why do we remember the things we should forget and forget the things we should remember? We can coddle offenses, abrasive remarks, slights, and snubs…remembering their perpetrators for decades...while we forget the innumerable transgressions we ourselves have been forgiven?

Maybe you don't; I do.

When you grow up in church, there are things you tend to take for granted--like the love of God. I cannot remember a time when I felt alone in the universe, unloved and unwanted, without God in the world. [Well, ok, there have been emotional upheavals of temporary insanity where I 'felt' unloved and unwanted...] I have always known, at least in theory, that I am loved.

The catch is when we take God’s love for granted, we miss its deeply heart-transforming effects, especially when it comes to loving and forgiving others.

Having grown up among a 'faithful few' who considered themselves rather holier than the common lot, I assumed it rather natural that God would love us. Being so 'good' at keeping rules made us just the loveable sort, right? This rather flew in the face of reality. Truth is, there are few things more repugnant than the 'holier-than-thou' when they are busy being 'good'. But sin is deceitful and pride is deceptive and it's one of the last things we recognize in ourselves... So God has to keep bringing it to my attention.

He has a way of putting His finger on things to expose the contrast between my heart and His. It seems that the things He would choose to forgive and forget, I remember. The things He calls me to remember, I forget.

This week we had a trip down memory lane... back to Junior High. I was insecure, shy except with closest friends, good at grades but poor at relationships. I will not speak for 'her', only that she, for whatever reason, whether knowingly or obliviously, trampled on my insecurities and caused me pain and embarrassment that has stuck with me. My wounded pride callused over with resentment that still simmers at the memories. Her personality was to me 'overbearing' and down through the years I have met others like her, with similar reaction. If these sorts are unavoidable, I quietly resent them and am quick to keep account of their wrongs. These slights are of course trivial in comparison to the forgiveness I've been shown, yet I remember the offense and forget the forgiveness. Why is that?

Why would I rather inventory my scars than remember the scars that bought my forgiveness?

Is it really so unpardonable that a person should be unappreciative of my finer qualities and insensitive to my vulnerabilities? Is God's love so inadequate that I'm left dependent on human substitutes?

I clearly haven't grasped the significance of this love I say I know. It's obvious in the things I choose to remember and those I casually forget. I am a poor lover, too often living in an illusion that I am somehow more deserving of love than are the people who overlook or offend me. Forgetting what I've been forgiven, I am quick to remember their sin, and to keep remembering...

It appears that in my grateful tallying of God's multitudinous daily love gifts (home, family, garden, eyesight, flowers, and such) I have overlooked the primary evidence of His Love--His forgiveness of my innumerable offenses against Him. When I miss this, I am in turn a poor lover, keeping long accounts of others' faults and no account of my own. Yet "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Rom.5:8 This clearly wasn't a case of my being just irresistibly loveable! Yet he overlooked my offensiveness and invited me to live forgiven, as a testimony to His Glorious Love.

Whose glory am I living for when I take offense at being slighted?

He chose to destroy the record of my wrongs and never hold them against me.

Who am I to keep a record of wrongs?

Jesus' words came through loud and clear in Sunday's sermon from Matthew 5. This is the passage where He elaborates on what true righteousness looks like--you know, the one that redefines murder. While we plead innocent as long as we haven't actually killed anyone, God cross-examines: But have you been angry? Have you insulted? Have you called your sister a 'Fool!' (Matthew 5:21ff) My disdain for those God loves immensely (as much as He loves me) is not lightly excused. It's not the way His Kingdom works. I have been forgiven much. If I grasp this, I will love much. And love holds no record of wrongs...

Why then do I cling to offenses and perceived snubs as though my life depended on it? Are they scapegoats that excuse my faults and justify my weaknesses and so explain 'the way I am'... (Do I really want to stay this way?) 

Must I find fault with you so that my faults don't look so offensive? Is that it? If this is so, I have not understood forgiveness or valued this unconditional love in which I live and move and have my being!

While washing dishes in the middle of these ponderings, just above the sink I read these words:

In Him we have redemption through his blood,

the forgiveness of our trespasses,

according to the riches of His grace,

which he LAVISHED on us---

All this is part of God's ultimate plan to unite everything and everyone in Christ, to the praise of His Glory! (Eph.1:7-10)

Here's the perspective I need to remember when strolls down memory lane evoke negative emotions. Remember this. You've been salvaged, forgiven, and lavishly graced with unfathomable love, all for God's great glory. How then can I view somebody else's petty faults as unpardonable?

Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. Rom.14:4

I took Sunday's sermon home with me and looked again at Matthew 5... There I was happily journaling away trying to get to the bottom of my hurts and soothe my psyche...when, WHAT'S THIS? I found these instructions following the bit about calling your brother a fool: "SO, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there REMEMBER that your brother has something AGAINST YOU, leave your gift there... and go be reconciled to your brother first, then come and offer your gift!"(Mt.5:23,24)

Here I've been all wrapped up in who owes me some apology for their existence, and God's saying to remember whom I have offended!

Now that's a turn-around! Why isn't this the first thing on my mind to resolve? My offensiveness! Who's keeping tabs on that?

God has loved me in spite of my sins against Him. He invites me to abide in this love--to know it and to show it in the self-forgetful way I love and forgive.

Sure, we all want people to care about us, to encourage us, to be keen on our interests and sensitive to our vulnerabilities. But when they don't we find out how well we're abiding in God's love. Can we forego being made much of in order to make much of the One who loves us inexhaustibly? When we choose to love and to forgive rather than be consumed with our hurts, we show what God is like.

And I expect that as we do, we'll begin to appreciate more fully His unfathomable love, for us AND for 'them'. Then maybe we'll begin to forget the things He forgets, and to remember the things He remembers. And our strolls down memory lane will become opportunities to stand in awe of all we've been forgiven, and how very well we are loved!



  • This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me... Lk.22:19
  • Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Rom.15:7


  • Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Mt.6:12
  • Owe no one anything, except to love each other. Rom.13:8
  • Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Col.3:12-13


Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Phil.3:12-14

July 19, 2014

What we proclaim…[Why do I blog anyway?!]

“What we proclaim is not ourselves but Jesus Christ.”  Paul said this,
a long time ago.

Times have changed.  Now there’s Facebook and Google+.  There are endless blogs and social twitter to sustain the soul’s endless craving for  attention.  We all want to matter, to someone.  And now all the world can know what I am doing, what I am thinking, and what I look like—at any given moment!  Never has there been such potential to proclaim ourselves!—or, to feel the sagging weight of going unnoticed.

I am not pointing any fingers. (I’m only too aware that any time you point a finger at somebody else, three are pointing back at yourself. Try it and see.)   I blog. I use Facebook, and I am even trying out Google+.  What for? I like to think it’s because I want to stay connected, to keep up with friends and family and to share my life with people I don’t often see. I do mean for my writing to make Jesus look great.  But maybe I post (sometimes?) just  to be seen, thought of, admired, and praised?

After all, has something really happened if it’s not documented with a  picture or status update on Facebook!   Like what’s the value of a tandem ride that’s not recorded on STRAVA to see the stats—the mileage, the calories burned, the altitude climbed, the hours elapsed and HOW I MEASURE UP to fellow-cyclists!  The burning question rises: Am I significant without Comments or Kudos?

Is a wildflower beautiful if it’s never been seen by anyone?  Is a tree grand if it stands on a mountain top unseen by human eyes?  Does its falling make a noise if no one is there to hear it?

So I write these Dawn Ponderings, putting in print what I am learning from the Word and from life walked out with the Spirit (and from the trips and falls)…hoping these words will not fall to the ground unseen, daring to believe that they will have some impact for good somewhere…or make at least a flashing blink of a difference in that moment they traverse your brain waves, before they are lost in the sea of words and media in which we float on the Internet…

But I’ve faltered; I’ve taken a sabbatical.  It started out as a week’s travel break, which led to nearly three months of break, and a chance to consider—Why do I blog anyway?  Is it just to be thought clever / spiritual / wise? Or am I writing for a bigger purpose that goes beyond seeking comments and kudos?

Since last I wrote here there have been travels, and family visits, and grandkid pictures by the score, and hours in the garden, and more hours    spent reading in the summer sun.  Lots and lots of words have been ingested—good words, God’s Words,  and a few poured out in ink.  And every week as Friday has neared I’ve thought of what I could write about, but hesitated to plunge back in to weekly posts. 

I have plenty of excuses for not writing—most having to do with protecting my pride.   I have nothing clever to say, and likely nothing original—at least compared to other choice blogs I read…There are plenty of other writers doing it better and more compellingly than I can. What difference will it make if I drop out? (What does a middle toe have to offer anyway?)

I’m a slow writer.  It takes me time to churn out what is really in my heart and mind. Is it worth the effort?

And always there are the ‘gremlins’ on my shoulder, those doubts every would-be-writer knows--you can’t keep this up. Who do you think you are?  You’re a hypocrite. You don’t live out what you write about…

Wow.  Well that last accusation could silence me forever.  Who practices perfectly what they know to be true? We are, after all, only clay pots. Does that invalidate the message? Paul had it right.  He knew that his message had little to do with himself, except as servant, and everything to do with Jesus, as Lord, and worthy of all the kudos! 

His words arrested my mullings over why I write: “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”  (II Cor.4:5) Enough of my reasons, my excuses, my self!   I am but the medium, the clay pot through which the message shines.  It’s not about me.  If it were, it would be as short-lived as most social twitter, like the blink of a firefly on a hot summer’s night. There, then gone.

But if it’s God’s Word and character and power and kingdom and wonderfulness that I exist to make known… well that’s an everlastingly worthwhile vocation!  And the pressure is off for me to be news-worthy, clever or brilliant!  Clay pots generally aren’t.

So here I am commencing again, my eyes set on my role-- to live through all the ordinary, crazy, and humbling moments of my life believing God is great and God is good and God is with me in the midst of it all…then to write from that God-confidence, not to make much of me but of the One who

grants the faith

and supplies the grace

and gives the ability to be a steady middle toe (that feels compelled to write!) 

If you see the doubts, fears, and shortcomings that will inevitably (and repeatedly) surface, may they only serve to highlight how amazing God is to entrust His message to clay pots!

Life assaults us all.  Paul knew hardships I will never dream of (Consider II Cor. 4:8,9;   6:4ff11:23ff) but he kept believing in the unseen glory that transcended all these trials.  And from that position of faith he spoke.  He joined the ranks of all the faithful gone before him when he asserted:

we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.’ (II Cor. 4:14) 

  • He knew that faith expressed is mutually encouraging. (Rom.1:12)
  • He gloried in his weaknesses, knowing they would make the power of Christ all the more visible (II Cor.12:9,10)
  • And he refused to rely on people feedback for his approval.  He wasn’t dependent on ‘likes’ and comments and kudos.  He chose to be a trustworthy steward answerable to God. (I Cor.4:3-4)

I am stirred, encouraged and challenged to take these things to heart and to continue writing, for the strengthening of my own faith,  and by His grace, of yours too(?)  

I have missed writing here.  I find I need the exercise of distilling brainwaves into print.  It is for me a way of taking thoughts captive and making them align with the Word.  And I need the written reminders of things that are true, the record of what God has impressed on my heart.

And I welcome your company; feel free to read over my shoulder.  I trust we’ll be mutually encouraged to look always beyond the seen things to the Unseen.  That is where the ‘well-done, good and faithful servant’ lies.  That’s what we’re living for.


So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day…as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (II Cor.4:16ff)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (II Cor.12:9)