Category Archives: Healing & Forgiveness

The blessed gift of sharing one another’s burdens <3

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A snowy and icy Monday here on the prairie. 

Today as I sit to think of what to say to you, I am reminded of a “talking to” that our little band of brothers get on the weekly. 

They are full of energy and bravado with limited doses of common sense. 

A session of homework unattended can turn into a spontaneous P. E. Class featuring a combination of touch football and cage wrestling in a heart beat. 

The results are often cosmetic damages to the house along with the occasional bloody nose and minor abrasions and bruises. 

Thankfully Mom is a nurse and Dad has an aptitude for home repairs. 

So whatever is broken is usually fixed handily or iced or cleaned up. 

But some of their escapades border on heart-stopping shenanigans that leave the grown ups in their lives with the sick aftermath of “What if….?”

Running out in a busy street to snag an errant ball, tying a coaster car to the leash of the dog with a three year old hanging on, climbing tree branches that are questionable as to weight limits..I could go on but if you have raised boys you can fill in your own nightmare scenarios. 

When these things happen, I have heard both parents remind the offender with passion and mild panic that there are some things mommies and daddies can’t fix. 

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This weekend I was apprised of several families who are facing daunting cancer diagnoses in young children. I have sat under my blankets thinking of our own little precious ones and wept buckets for these young parents and siblings as they attempt to live with an unknown future one day at a time. I am touched by their efforts to wring every last moment of joy out of what they have each day. 

As much as they want to, these mommies and daddies can’t fix this.

We have several sympathy cards on the counter for friends who have lost loved ones in the past week, others have had to put beloved fur family members down and still others are trying to manage the care of aging parents in the midst of the challenges Covid adds to health care issues. 

The counts of death tolls as we near the one year anniversary of the pandemic are sobering. And that is just in our country. We wonder about our friends around the world and the repercussions of grief and loss in places that already struggled against unfathomable odds.

It is in our nature to try to fix things, but we can’t fix a pandemic, cancer, grief. 

So it is that prayer becomes tears. 

Lifting empty and helpless hands, it is a great comfort to remember that as Jesus made His way to the tomb of His friend Lazarus; full on knowing He had the power over death and that in just a few minutes the weeping and mourning would turn to dancing, Jesus wept. 

While we don’t know for sure exactly why He wept, the people at the time surmised it was His deep love for Lazarus that caused His tears and deep emotional sorrowing. In my mind, I would think more it was His compassion for seeing others in such deep mourning and loss.

I would guess that even though He knew Lazarus would rejoin everyone here for a while longer, eventually the day would come when those left on planet earth who loved the man would have to grieve again. 

He took on our pain and sorrow and suffering along with our sin and when you and I feel the tears of deep pain and helplessness, we can know our God sits alongside us and holds us with compassion and love. 

He feels what we feel.

He knows the end of the story is better than what we see now, but He is kind and good to sit with us in our grieving and hold us. He is compassionate towards us who are flesh and blood.

And we can know and be thankful that our prayers for others bring them into His Presence where they can receive this same personal comfort and love and tender care.  

What a blessed relationship we share as the Body of Christ through prayer and shared sorrow and suffering. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit that we sit in our chairs and weep for those who are experiencing such a devastating season. Through our prayers for them, we link arms and invite God to work in the setting to strengthen them and grace them with what they need to keep pressing on.

This is an act of love to intercede for others who are hurting and helpless. And so our prayers go up today for those who are wading through what they cannot fix. We will settle into the pain with you and we will cry out to God on your behalf, trusting His hand to provide for you in ways we couldn’t think to ask and have not the resources to imagine.

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A fresh look at a familiar story <3

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Happy Martin Luther King Jr. day <3

Like you, I have been seeing posts with quotes from Dr. King over the weekend. Knowing Scripture, I can see the influence of the teachings of Christ in his words and one of my personal favorites is:

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. 

Martin Luther King
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Learning along with character development. 

If only. 

And now for a quick thought from my morning devotions and then it is off to gather groceries and get some tasks done around here that were neglected this weekend. 

One of my devotions this morning was based on the story of the anointing of Jesus’ feet at the home of Simon the Pharisee found in Luke 7:36-50. 

I happen to be reading from The Message this year. Grab your Bible and refresh yourself on the passages.

I will wait for you. 

A couple of things jumped out at me when I was reading it this time. First of all, this Pharisee did at least invite Jesus into his home to hear what he had to say. So there is something to that. 

But my thought that was a fresh view of this familiar story has to do with Jesus’ direct comment spoken out loud to answer the question that was just forming inside Simon’s head. 

Simon is assessing the fact that Jesus is allowing a woman who apparently is well known to live a sinful life. He thinks to himself that Jesus can’t be much of a prophet if He hasn’t discerned she has no business doing what she is doing. 

Jesus poses a story question to Simon.

If one man owes a huge sum of money and one man owes a small debt to someone and both are excused from paying, who will be more grateful. 

Simon answers logically that the one who is released from a huge amount owed will most likely feel the greatest relief and gratitude.

Jesus affirms he has answered correctly and then points out the woman’s actions were reflecting the depth of her gratitude to Him for His grace and mercy on her life. 

She was acknowledging His power to completely release her from the guilt and condemnation of her sins. 

Eugene Peterson translates Jesus words like this:

If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.

Luke 7:47

As I read that, I penned in my margin:

It’s not that Simon didn’t need much forgiveness, but that he was not very much aware of his vast need for it, nor the ability of Jesus to forgive all of it.

The woman’s sin. Simon’s sin. My sin. Your sin.

All of it is sin. 

The measurement is not how much sin we have, but how great our need for forgiveness and our gratitude for the ability of Jesus to forgive every last mark of it.  

I have to ask myself if I am exhibiting with my life the vast measure of His undeserved and complete forgiveness for me and for others. 

A life poured out in excessive gratitude to God for the gift of grace through Jesus Christ should mark the measure of my days. 

Our gratitude should be immense because His forgiveness is complete.

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Starting up the week and it’s looking good so far <3

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Monday has arrived. And yes, the calendar page above is from yesterday, but so good I had to share.

The sunny skies and crisp weather are what make autumn one of my favorite seasons. I feel energized which means the laundry is humming and I have meal plans set for the week. Days like these are the ones I wish I had more often. Sigh.

I have big plans to arrive at the end of this day feeling like I completed some things so here are a few ideas to start us off for the week.

Church on Sunday filled my heart to overflowing. The teaching rested on forgiveness and our movie of the week was the recent visit to the biographical drama about Mr. Rogers, “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”.

I simply cannot say enough good things about both the movie and the shared insights from Pastor Brian. Best quote was hands down,

“Do you know what forgiveness is? It’s a decision we make to release a person from the feeling of anger we have toward them.”

– Fred Rogers

I can’t even read that without the tight places of past hurts opening up. I feel the healing of release of hardness in my heart start to melt the rocky places. And in that softer place I meet Jesus’ love and mercy and compassion – for me and for the ones who wounded me. It was invaluable to me yesterday and continues today. 

Isn’t that what He did for me? Made a decision to release me from His well-deserved wrath for my betrayal of Him?

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This series can only be caught as a live broadcast. It is not like our regular sermons that are archived on the church website. But don’t be glum if you missed it! There is another opportunity to catch this one on Wednesday evening at 7 PM CST right here: https://firstdecatur.online.church

The teaching was just part of a wonderful service which opened with a song that is new to me. You can listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqqDc2BIpxs     although I don’t think anyone will every capture the purity of worship through music like our praise team did on Sunday. 

The lyrics got me in a way of deep conviction. The opening line is

“There is a sound I love to hear. It’s the sound of my Savior’s robe when He walks into the room where people pray. Where He hears praises He hears faith.”

Brook Ligertwood, Awake My Soul

Lyrically and musically the entire song was indescribably beautiful. Standing alone, it is a powerful song of worship. But it was anointed and brought conviction to my heart and soul and spirit. Because I believe the words with all my heart. I have experienced what is described. But I have been in a desert for prayer for far too long. 

Oh I have prayed and I have believed and I have wrestled, but it has been a long while since I heard what is described. And I have heard it. Believe me. It is a sound I too love very much. And I knew I was missing something but couldn’t identify it until this song ministered to me.

Something broke yesterday, and this time it wasn’t me. It was whatever has clogged my ears to hear the rustle of His robes. He has been present all along, but with all the noise it was hard to hear the hem that brings healing to whoever touches it. 

I think we will stop here. That’s enough for me and for you to ponder. Be blessed as you start your week. Prayers we all hear the swish of the robe today and the aroma of Christ fills your prayer time and your going forth time until you lay your sweet head down to rest again tonight and then I pray you hear His song over you <3

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