Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive]. Colossians 3: 13

At times we all find it hard–if not impossible–to forgive those who’ve hurt us most. I have read so much about this lately and I wanted to share a few things that really helped me put things in perspective over the years regarding forgiveness. I can think of nothing more brutal in the past century than the Holocaust. Out of that horrific stain on history came faithful, hopeful Christians and they have inspired and encouraged me with their utter reliance on God and His Grace in times of trial and adversity. I am going to share two of their stories that touched me  and challenged me to search my heart and trust that God would give me the Grace and obedience to forgive. I hope they bless and encourage you.

The first link is to an interview Jan Markell of Olive Tree Ministries did with Holocaust Survivor Anita Dittman. It’s a tough tale but there is so much hope and joy in her story. Do yourself a favor and listen here

I also included an excerpt from Corrie Ten boom,  who had spent time in Nazi concentration camps for hiding Jews in her home during the Holocaust.  52 and unmarried, she had lived at home with her elderly father and older sister Betsie.  All three of them had been sent to concentration camps when the Nazis discovered they had been hiding the Jewish refugees.

Corrie lost her freedom, her dignity, and her beloved sister and father in the span of a few months in those concentration camps.  In God’s providence Corrie was released due to a clerical error, just one week before the other women in Ravensbruck her age were executed.

After the war Corrie was invited to speak all over the world, and she tirelessly traveled the globe, thankful for every opportunity she was given to tell people about Christ.  She always marveled at God’s infinite mercy toward sinners like us.

She also knew that everyone who had received God’s mercy had no choice but to show mercy to others; and she knew from her own experience that wasn’t always easy.  In her book The Hiding Place she tells the following story:

It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck.  He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time.  And suddenly it was all there – the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.

He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing.  “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein.” he said.  “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!”

His hand was thrust out to shake mine.  And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.

Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them.  Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more?  Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.

I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand.  I could not.  I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity.  And so again I breathed a silent prayer.  Jesus, I cannot forgive him.  Give me Your forgiveness.

As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened.  From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.

And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His.  When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.

The Terminal

 I listen to R.C. Sproul frequently and have often read the articles posted by his Son, R.C. Jr. I was saddened to learn of the passing of his wife, Denise from Cancer this past week. She leaves behind 8 children between the ages of 2-18. Please keep the Sproul family in your prayers. I wanted to share an article written by her husband today to honor her memory and rejoice in the fact that she is now cancer free in Heaven with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I also included a few words from R.C. Jr. concerning her passing.

Denise Sproul is at home with the Lord.
from R.C. Sproul Jr. Dec 18, 2011 Category: Ministry News

Denise, enjoying the blessed vision of our God and Father, is at home with the Lord. Cancer no longer afflicts her, and every tear has been dried away. The Queen of Orlando casts her crown at her Savior’s feet, and together, they dance.

 The Kingdom Notes: The Terminal

by R.C. Sproul Jr. on Friday, 2 December 2011 at 10:53

The yellowing sky confirmed the wisdom of the forecasters, a tornado might well be just around the bend. With one eye scouring the landscape I dutifully herded my then seven children into our basement. One of them, worried, asked me- “Are we all going to die?” Tender hearted father that I am, I told the truth- “Of course…but probably not today.” We survived the weather that day, but we are all still terminal.

As my wife continues her valiant fight against leukemia she too occasionally asks me to look into my crystal ball. She wants to know if she is going to make it. The doctors don’t know, and they are considerably more knowledgeable than I am.  So I tell my wife what I do know- “I don’t know if you are going to get well or not. I do know that that day was appointed before all time. Nothing will make it a day later, nothing a day earlier.  Cancer cannot determine when you go home. Only your Father can.

God can and does give clues, from time to time. The Bible affirms that He opens and closes the womb.  That doesn’t mean that Abraham and Sarah didn’t have reason to be surprised. That Denise is ill, that it is this kind of cancer, that form of leukemia, this other test result suggests that we have more reason to worry about her than me. Seeking to decipher all these clues causes us to ride a roller coaster of hope and fear. I have come to learn, however, that my confidence on a given day is likely more tied to how poorly I slept the night before than it is deciphering the results of a CT scan.

My calling then is to rest in, to believe, to be comforted by what He has spoken clearly.  Providence is His, but there He speaks a strange language in muted tones. His Word, on the other hand is both loud and clear. We know, for starters, that God Himself is behind this. God will either defeat the cancer He has sent, or He will have sent the cancer that calls her home (Isaiah 45:7). We know that whether her time is sooner or later, it works out for the good not only for her, but for her husband and children (Romans 8:28). We know that whenever He calls her home He will at the same time heal her fully (Revelation 21:4).

Insofar as I am able, by His grace, to believe what He has revealed, I am able to be at peace about what He has not revealed. Insofar as I seek to learn the secret things, I will fail to believe what He has revealed.  One thing we know for certain- He is good. He loves us with an everlasting love. That doesn’t answer the question of the day or the hour. It just makes it not so important.

It is a good and proper thing that I should, and you as well if you are willing, pray that God would make Denise well, that He would allow us to grow old together. It is, however, a better thing to pray that I would be a faithful husband to my love, and a faithful father to the children He has blessed us with. It is less important that He believe me and my conviction, that the kingdom would be better with her here. It is more important that I believe Him and His promise that the gates of hell will not prevail (Matthew 16:18), and that He who has begun a good work in us will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus (Ephesians 6:10). This train is bound for glory.

Jesus light of the world

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life!” John 8:12

I spent the greater part of the past week researching, reading and studying to write this. I had snippets of brilliant insights from the great minds of Christendom past, glorious words from commentaries and the few lines I penned myself all ready to go.  I sat down today after a long frustrating day at work and realized I was going to delete all of that and just start over. I never seem to honor God in my own vain efforts, but I always find some sort of inspiration when it seems like I have nothing much to say.

I came across the words to one of my favorite Christmas songs and I think it sums up so simply what my heart wanted to say. No lengthy brilliance about why Jesus spoke about himself as “the Light of the World” in the Court of the women not long after the feast of Tabernacles, no deep digging into the Greek. Just simple words beautifully written by Phillips Brooks,  the rector of Boston’s famous Trinity Church. A writer of books and poetry. His prose says so much to me.

O little town of Bethlehem,

How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light–
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

Bethlehem. A quiet little town, nothing much going on there before now.  A dreamless sleep, dark streets. Much like the streets of my town right now. People  frustrated and hopeless in more ways then they realize.  Sinners even. The stars are  silent in this sad town. What a place for the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords to be born! But He was…for average, everyday people like you and me friend. In that little dark stable, the hope of the world, the “Light of the World” came to illuminate those dark streets and give eternal hope to those dark lives. That hope still lives on.

For Christ is born of Mary–
And gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wond’ring love.

Almost everybody was asleep we suppose, except the shepherds. They were the ones who were awake in the fields watching their flocks. And so it was to them that the angels came. But while the rest of mortals were sleeping, the angels kept their watch of wondering love.

O morning stars, together
Proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God our King,
And peace to men on earth.

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is giv’n
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heav’n.
No ear may hear His coming,
But, in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still
The dear Christ enters in.

“Meek Souls” Not weak ones,  humble ones. I know this is not deep theology, but the message that Jesus came without pomp or fanfare, to quiet streets and lowly shepherds is such a comfort to my soul…it humbles me and gives me peace. I want to share that peace and comfort of everlasting life, the light that shines on sins and breaks hearts but gives hope everlasting.

James Smith speaks with such clarity of that simple message of “Good news” and the light of truth found only in Jesus Christ.

“Do you enjoy the light — then point others to it. Tell poor dark miserable sinners of it; invite them to look to it, urge them to come to Jesus for it; and be sure to let the light you receive from Jesus, so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Lost sinner, Jesus is the light of the world, if therefore you want knowledge, comfort, holiness, or salvation — come to him, look to him, ask of him, expect from him, and believe his word, “If any man,” no matter who he is, or what he is — “if any man follows me, he shall not walk in darkness — but shall have the light of life.”

This Christmas I wanted to communicate the simple truth of eternal hope, peace and redemption found only my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I hope that in someway this post humbly points the way to the light found only in Jesus and brings honor and glory to Him.