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What Shall We Say?

March 14, 2009

At the end of each week, I will post a question for the Mighty Men of God to contemplate and dialogue upon.  I look forward to learning from your insights as we share “In His Service.”  This week’s food for thought to feast upon is:

 

 

 

 

The writing of Hosea is a total affirmation of God’s desire to love His people if they will allow themselves to be immersed in His love.  We have seen in the last posting the great effect of Christ’s affection for Peter as he felt the judgment, absence of God’s favor and ultimately the absence of God’s presence because of his failure to acknowledge his relationship with Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God.  What was that impact?  In the place of judgment – forgiveness.  In the place the place of disfavor – purpose.  In the place of no God – a commissioning to be God’s shepherd on earth.  A similar situation can be construed in the first chapter of Hosea as it relates to his prophetic relationship with his beloved Gomer and their three children.  If Hosea represents the prophetic redemption which God offers to those who will return to His love, how does Gomer represent us as men striving to be God’s mighty men?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. THIS TEACHING IS IN RESPONSE TO THE QUESTION ASKED BY JOHN’S GOSPEL, CHAPTER 21: “DO YOU LOVE ME?”

    Let me add a new lesson I have learned about this passage of scripture from the inspiration shared by my new and good friend, Milo Hamilton, as he gave witness to his call to be one in Christ. We are aware of the two words used in this vinette between Jesus and Peter which are translated “love.” The first word which is familiar to us as God’s mighty men is “agapao” translated to mean a “deep love as God loves His creation.” The second word is “phileo” translated to mean a brotherly love as between friends and neighbors. When Peter approaches Jesus on the beach, he finds himself in a place that draws back a memory he would rather forget: a fireside. Just weeks before Peter had stood in the shadows near a fireside and denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed twice. Peter had continued to hide in the shadows of his failure. He was overwhelmed, even in the knowledge of the resurrection of his Lord and Savior, by the burden of his actions which showed more love for himself than for Jesus. In the hour of need of the Holy Other, Jesus, Peter cowered in fear and defeat unworthy of even forgiveness, the hallmark of “agapao.”

    Now, in the light of day, Jesus brings Peter to the scene of “the crime.” But, how could it be a crime when no crime was committed. Jesus was not a criminal but a sacrifice. His death was not a punishment but an offering. Jesus walked the walk of faith because he talked the talk of love- God’s love. Now, He extended that love to Peter. It wasn’t merely a forgiveness that brought Peter to a healed conscience (three affirmations to cover three denials). It was a forgiveness that brought Peter to restoration of purpose (“upon this ‘petros’ I will build my church.”) Jesus knew that without the affirmation of love Peter would be no good to anyone; not God, not Christ, not his fellow disciples who stilled followed him, not those who would follow them, not even to himself. Jesus brought Peter to the scene of his redemption. Love is the answer. Love was the answer. Look at what follows:

    1) Jesus asks “Simon, son of John, do you truly ‘agapao’ me more than these disciples?” Placed against a backdrop of those disciple arguments as to who would be the greatest among them (that boyish one-upsmanship), how could Peter even think about his “love of Jesus” being greater than anyone much less the disciples? He failed in his “love for Christ” by denying Him when he pledged that he would never do so. He was a liar and a coward, unworthy of any status akin to God’s far superior love. But, Peter did love Jesus. Even if he couldn’t rise up to the commanded status of loving as God loves, he loved Jesus as a brother. His response admitted as much when he replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I ‘phileo’ you.”

    2) Jesus had high expectations of Peter. He knew Peter’s heart and spirit. He also knew Peter’s future and purpose. He also knew Peter in his grief was letting go of both. He knew Peter heard what Jesus asked of him the first time but he refused to answer appropriately in kind. But, Jesus is all about second chances. He gave us a second chance at life when He took our sins to the cross as was required by the law. Now that the law was satisfied only grace remains. We have the opportunity to live life to the fullest and gain a place with Jesus in Heaven just because He says so! Hallelujah! Praise God! If we only will. Hmmmmm. So, Jesus does not leave Peter with his answer of grieving humility and less than his best. Jesus asks again, “Simon, son of John, do you truly ‘agapao’ me?” This time there is no challenge or competitive element in His question this time. There is no excuse for Peter to not answer strongly that his love for Jesus is nothing less than a godly love. He gives Peter the chance to believe in himself as he believes in Christ. But, Peter remains firm in his stance with a confession akin to the prodigal son who recognized he had sinned against his heavenly and earthly fathers, “Yes, Lord, you know I ‘phileo’ you [just as I have already confessed!”

    3. But, then comes the joy of our salvation. We have to gives thanks to Peter for being true to his nature and to Christ for being the same. Our salvation comes not from our works nor our words as both can fall short of high expectations. Our salvation comes from God through Jesus Christ. Jesus came down from Heaven to be God incarnate (God in human flesh) so that we might know the truth of God’s love for us. Jesus became brother, neighbor, servant and friend. Jesus was “real.” So, too, is His love for us. He could have succumbed to the temptation to come down from the cross in a miraculous way and avoid human death thus showing himself to be a great magician or a Mighty God. But, in doing so, He would have denied us the joy of our salvation which He so desperately wanted to give. Instead, He came down from the cross as a man wounded, heart-broken and totally surrendered to God’s judgment through death so that we might know healing, renewal and justification by faith, hope and love- God’s love.

    So, since Peter could not rise up to the level of that love because he was still so overwhelmed by his sin and failure before Christ, Christ came down to him. Hear it in His words to Peter face to face, heart to heart, “Simon, son of John, do you ‘phileo’ me [like a brother, or in the words of my friend Milo, ‘like a fishing buddy’]?” He met Peter right where he was: a mediocre fisherman, boastful and brash, fearful and wounded, and wanting to belong. He brought Peter into the fold of his arms and embraced him with a holy love only a godly man could understand. Peter responded out of the hurt that had burdened his heart thinking that Jesus knowing all things surely knew he loved him even if it wasn’t perfect love like God’s love. He had nothing to forgive Jesus for as Jesus had done no wrong to him. He had nothing great about his love as his love was weak and wavering at best. He had a fond affection for this man of God, his Lord and Master, who was now his savior and redeemer. Peter replies in the only way he knows how that has any value at all, “Surely, Lord who knows all things, I ‘phileo’ you.”

    There it was. It was the moment of truth each mighty man of God must face in his heart, mind, soul and strength when it comes to making his confession in faith and profession of faith. We must make the sincere claim of our unworthiness to the God who became flesh so that we might become spirit because our love isn’t God’s love. Or is it? For in that moment of honesty before God and before the righteous judge, Jesus the Christ, we are restored, redeemed and resent into the world to know, love and serve God’s people. Here the affirmation of Peter which Christ gave without change regardless of Peter’s honest confession: “feed my lambs” (the still fledling disciples who are looking to Peter for leadership); “care for my sheep” (the Christ-followers beyond the circle of the twelve who now are sheep without a shepherd); and “feed my sheep” (the honus is on Peter to break the bread of life and pour out the wine of the new covenant through the teaching and preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, God’s agapao!)

    But, I believe it is more than just a reconciliation for Peter. It is also a challenge for each of God’s mighty men to be honest before Christ and the world about their love for Christ and God’s love for us through Christ. For as we do for others, we are doing it for Christ who has done it for us. We make the gospel real by letting it live in us in our strengths and in our weaknesses. Our love for one another, ‘phileo,’ becomes ‘agapao’ because it shows our desire to love God with everything we have. Peter was a different man when he admitted he still loved Jesus. He was able to rise to the greatness God had desired for him and for which Christ died. Christ died for each of us as well so that it would be true for us as it was true for Peter.

    How will you answer Jesus question of you by the fireside of your life?

    Comment by Chuck — February 28, 2009 @ 10:25 am

  2. THE FOLLOWING COMMENT WAS IN RESPONSE TO THE QUESTION: WHAT ACTS DO YOU DO FOR OTHERS THAT WOULD BE AKIN TO THE FOOTWASHING JESUS OFFERED TO HIS DISCIPLES IN THE UPPER ROOM?

    I believe we can see the best understanding of Jesus’ footwashing and thus decide what acts we offer to others that would emulate and assimilate what He did for His beloved twelve (yes, Judas Iscariot’s feet were there as well which may shine a different light on his fate) if we focus on the dialogue between Peter and Jesus (John 13.6ff)

    Peter said, “Lord, are You going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hand and my head as well!” Jesus replied in answer, “A person who has had a bath (baptized for the remission of sins) needs only to wash his feet, his whole body is already clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him.”

    It may be enough for Christ-followers to embrace the humble service aspect of footwashing which Jesus gave to His disciples on the night He was to be betrayed by one of their own (was Judas truly one of “them”?). His call to those disciples to wash one another’s feet was not an exercise and learning moment they were to share with one another that night (…but later you will understand.”) What was it that Jesus did for them that night? How many acts were done and words shared that night that were foreshadowing of events yet to happen? How many were markers of remembrance of what to do when the time of their need would come? I believe that Jesus was truly speaking of reaffirmations of faith as it would lead to being restored to the community of faith through the confession of sins and profession that Jesus is Lord.

    Footwashing, for me, is not just about being a humble servant to God’s people but remembering we are an active witness of the kingdom of God with the single purpose of leading others to make a public profession of faith in accepting Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ of God. That would also include the understanding that we must then have the means of restoring those believers in the circle of fellowship when their waywardness in sin has led them astray like a sheep may do even under the watchful care of a shepherd with one hundred sheep. Who would understand this better than Peter? He was the rock of faith who pledged a willingness to die with His Master. Then crumbled to sand when the opportunity was given to him in the pre-dawn hours of Passover as His Lord stood trial. As prophesied by Jesus, Peter denied his place with the Master three times before the cock crowed the sun above the horizon.

    Yet, here was the place and meaning which perhaps separates Peter the betrayer from Judas Iscariot the betrayer. Peter did not end his life in the grief and remorse of his acts. Perhaps we can call Judas a traitor and Peter a coward. At some level, the terms might become interchangable but that is not my purpose in mentioning them. It was the consequences and missed opportunities that now make the difference. As Judas saw the fouled course of his actions, that they were not going in the direction he thought they would, he was filled with angst and met his fate of death and an unforgiven life. He missed the opportunity for his feet to be washed. He separated himself from the others. He had stepped across the line and dwelt in darkness even though the light was still available to him. What if he had gone back to Jesus on the road to Golgotha and asked for mercy? Would Jesus have washed the feet of Judas as He did the penitent thief on the cross? But, it would not happen. Jesus knew that Judas was too far gone and now he was gone forever. But, Peter was not. He removed himself into the shadows of his grief as the cock crowed sunrise. With the last crow the words of His Lord and Master sank deep into His heart and he was convicted of his hypocrisy. It would not be until Jesus appeared to Peter by the lake that his feet would be washed in the way Jesus modelled in the Upper Room. It wasn’t with an elaborate footwashing ceremony where Jesus would have taken Peter’s lake-washed, beach-covered, fish-smelling feet and cleansed them before they sat down to eat breakfast. Instead, Jesus washed Peter’s feet with an invitation beyond breakfast that asked him “Do you love me?”

    Yes, Jesus act of footwashing in the Upper Room was a model of humble service. But, it was a service of being humbled unto death so that those who confess their sins (and be baptized for the remission of those sins as befits the “law”) and profess their commitment to be Christ-followers (and be thus full-filled with the gospel promises completed just as their joy would be with the commissioning of the Holy Spirit) might have life and have it abundantly in this world and in the next. Even in doubt, fear, confusion, backsliding, Jesus made it possible for those who have fallen away to be taken back. Think of such humble service rendered to restore that which was lost such as the story of the Prodigal Son and the Joy-filled Father.

    So, our acts of footwashing are not simply acts of humble service nor are they limited to footwashing. Whatever it is we do for another in proclamation that “those who are believers but have found themselves outside the fellowship of the Body of Christ and now desire to be rejoined, are” is footwashing. But, they will not know it unless we teach it or else it will just seem like ceremonial footwashing to them and to the world. Jesus calls us to be proclaimers of this mighty act! (042609)

    Comment by Chuck — March 1, 2009 @ 6:17 am

  3. This comment was in response to the question “What do you think are the necessary steps in moving from a disciple-learner to an apostle-teacher as a Christ follower?”

    I believe the first step in making the transition from discipleship to apostleship is the simple realization that we are always His disciples. We are always in the process of learning or we have begun the process of dying, decaying mentally and spiritually (physically may be inevitable until the Last Day.) The difference between good teachers and bad teachers is that bad teachers don’t know they are bad; good teachers know when they have failed to do some good teaching. The difference between good teachers and great teachers is that good teachers are satisfied with being good enough, one step ahead of bad teachers, while great teachers are never satisfied with what they know. They want to know more to help others do better. I am reminded of the story of two men walking through the woods and happen upon a hungry grizzly bear. As the bear rises up on its hind legs, one of the men starts to pray while the other pulls running shoes out of his back pack and begins to change shoes. The praying hiker says, “There is no hope of outrunning the bear, fall to your knees in prayer.” His companion laughs in reply, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I am praying that I can outrun you and this gives me a running chance.” Is there something we can learn in this story? Is there someone we can share this story with and a lesson it can teach? If you have answered “yes,” and you do it then you are making the transition from always only being a disciple to being an apostle of the gospel. Even the disciples who became apostles did not know everything they needed to know. They prayed fearlessly for the promised Holy Spirit to keep them one step ahead of the enemy; the Spirit that would teach them all Jesus had commanded and empower them with all wisdom and love.

    Comment by Chuck — March 21, 2009 @ 8:31 pm

  4. THE FOLLOWING COMMENT WAS MADE IN RESPONSE TO THE QUESTION: WHAT PASSAGE OF SCRIPTURE BEST REPRESENTS JESUS’ MISSION STATEMENT FOR HIMSELF?

    Jesus was focused on the future generations of leaders for the Body of Christ when He set out to accept the call of God to be the Messiah. In Matthew 4: 19, Jesus professes “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” He was at the moment speaking to men who fished, Simon and Andrew. He would soon after call James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were also men who fished, to be His disciples. We do not hear another declaration of “re-assignment” for the eight men whom He would call to be His disciples. We might assume that the intention, this mission statement, would be the same for them as well. So, while not all men fished, Jesus was going to teach them to be fishers of men. His was not so much a professional development statement or a hope of what was available to them or could be available to them. His was a statement of fact. If you follow me, then I will MAKE you fishers of men. It showed His intention and purpose. It is a simple statement with an observable outcome and a means of assessment. In the end, would these twelve men (yes, I would have to include Judas and Matthias, the Christ follower chosen to be an apostle in the place of Judas) be proficient as “fishers of men”? Goal. Intention. Outcome. Assessment of outcome/product. These would be the elements of a mission statement and should be considered a possible answer to the question.

    Interestingly enough, the Gospel of John, chapter 21, shows us a redefinition of “fishers of men” as the construct for the previous mission statement. Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James and John- the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples (whom I believe were Philip and Andrew) had returned to their previous vocations and/or avocations of fishing. Maybe there were getting back to the basics of when they were first called to be disciples by Jesus. Perhaps they were trying to make sense of the future by revisiting step one in their call and assignment to be “fishers of men.” Maybe they were not simply giving up on the mission and be failures of the cause. I believe that they were sorting things through and it is one of the “man things” to do, “go fishing,” that helps in that process. Interestingly enough, when confronted personally with that situation, catching fish is not so important as just going through the process of mind over matter. You know, I don’t mind so it doesn’t matter. That is exactly what happened. These seven disciples went fishing and caught nothing. Jesus, on the other hand, did not go fishing and caught something. Why? Because He was a fisher of men. It didn’t matter if He didn’t catch fish, so He didn’t mind catching them. But, it mattered that He would catch, or in this case re-catch, men and so His mind was made up to do so. He could make “fishers of men” of anyone because He himself was a “fisher of men.”

    But, that isn’t the redefinition I was speaking of. It was Peter who was taking this death of Jesus the hardest. It wasn’t that the fact of the resurrection was a comfort and inspiration to him, it was. But, the matter that troubled him most and continued to be on his mind was that he had denied Jesus three times and then disappeared to the shadows of Golgotha where Jesus his Lord was crucified. Nothing else mattered at this point; it dominated his mind. Consequently, it dominated his heart (he felt like a failure) and his spirit (he was ineffective.) Peter was no longer himself. He wasn’t a good fisherman nor a qualified candidate for being a “fisher of men.” How many times have we felt the same in our lives through divorce, a loss of job, conflict leading to separation from family and friends, financial disaster, or falling into a life of addiction of any kind? Each one of those situations would cause us to live in denial and run from the very source of help and healing.

    It was at this point that I find Jesus the Christ, the Master teacher, the mentor-friend, stepping back into Peter’s life to restore him to meaning and purpose. In fact, He, Jesus, gave Peter (and thus the other disciples) His meaning and purpose of ministry which they would follow even unto death, each to their own cross. It was and is the measure of love and devotion, the crux of the call and commission, that is at the very foundation of our personal mission statement as Christ followers and leaders of Christ followers in our homes, at work, in worship and in service…even in our recreation. His meaning and purpose, His qualification for ministry and thus ours was “love.” Jesus moved Peter out of His love for him from a place of Peter’s self-inflicted identificaiton of failure (a fisherman and a “fisher of men”) to the pastoral ministry of shepherd. He used Peter’s passion to create a ministry of compassion. Maybe Peter could not have learned it any other way than through the cross of Christ which bore his own stamp of failure. Jesus asked three times if Peter loved Him. Three times, Peter replied, “Lord, you know I love you.” His failure before was more of a love for himself (fearing failure) that lead to his failure which now was manifesting itself in every part of his life. Or did it? It was Peter who said, “I am going fishing.” The other six followed his lead whether they wanted to fish or not. They looked to him. Jesus knew it even when Peter didn’t see it. Just like the catch of fish which Jesus saw from the shore when they could not see it because they were simply fishing on the wrong side of the boat. It was now to Peter, and the rest of the disciples, to move from being “fishers of men” and gather in the lost to include being “shepherds of men” cultivating the flock. It was no different for Jesus who began his ministry with them by the sea fishing for men and then shepherding them to become apostles. His work would then be truly finished with this commissioning. His mission statement was now their own. It seems it should be the same process by which we embrace our call as Christ followers, His disciples (fishers of men) and His apostles (shepherds of men.) There can be no greater relief nor reward than this… that a man would lay down his life for another…they call that “love”. Not brotherly love as Peter had reduced himself to but God’s love which Christ raises us to.

    Comment by Chuck — March 22, 2009 @ 7:02 am

  5. THE FOLLOWING COMMENT WAS MADE IN RESPONSE TO THE QUESTION: WHAT PASSAGE OF SCRIPTURE BEST REPRESENTS JESUS’ MISSION STATEMENT FOR HIMSELF?

    I believe that John 10: 10 focuses on what Jesus truly saw as His mission and purpose in his earthly ministry. It says, “The thief [Satan] comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they [God’s children] might have life, and have it to the full.” It is in that scripture Jesus shares the function of his walk among them. His reason for being with them and in the world is to counteract the burden of legalism as it was applied by sinful men seeking to propose the course of righteousness. Righteousness doesn’t come in words but in THE WORD which is Christ the Lord. While He certainly shared many words of instruction and inspiration, mentoring twelve disciples intentionally and countless others by default, it was in His actions that the word and work of righteousness was most visible. If those who would believe in Him and follow after Him had no chance at a full life as God intended it, then why would Jesus even need to exist as the Christ of God on earth? His mission was to be life-saving and life-giving. His purpose was not to give just any life but the best life (see the Miracle at Cana and the implied comparison then of the best wine and the best life.) His desire was to glorify God in all He did so that others may know that as it was for Him it could also be for them. Being able to live a life of fulfillment in this lifetime in terms of spirituality would be plenty for most people but Jesus added the fulfillment of God’s promise for eternity as well. Big job. Big mission. Big blessing.

    Comment by Chuck — April 5, 2009 @ 1:34 pm

  6. THE FOLLOWING COMMENT WAS MADE IN RESPONSE TO THE QUESTION: WHAT HAS GOD BEEN SAYING AGAIN AND AGAIN TO YOU FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF YOUR LIFE AND FOR YOUR DECISION TO FOLLOW HIM?

    I believe that God continues to call me to refine my gift of teaching. I love to teach and creating images and systems as a model for how others can resolve their issues and increase their understanding of themselves, the world and God. As I focus on being a better teacher, I know I am improving my skills as an effective leader. Teaching is learning. Leading is following. Mentoring is serving. All of these ideas are connected and become healthy attributes of a Christ-follower, a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ. What I must do better is to practice the effective teaching skills that I am learning in all walks and arenas of my life. I recognize that someone is always watching how I do something and they will then decide based on a relationship how they will put that lesson into practice. That means, that I am always leading because there is always someone who is following. Therefore, I must keep my eye on the road ahead as well as to observe all things that surround me. I do make an impact. I pray it will be one of change through positive influence and not one of destruction like a train wreck.

    Comment by Chuck — April 10, 2009 @ 9:03 am

  7. THE FOLLOWING COMMENT WAS IN RESPONSE TO THE QUESTION: WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT FORGIVENESS?

    In golf, the tradition of hitting someone with a golfball is preceded by alerting them to the event yelling “‘Fore.” Now, I do not think former President Gerald Ford intended to hit people with golfballs but sadly his game was poor enough to do so regularly. I think before every shot he may have been better served by yelling “‘Fore” and giving everyone a fair warning. This would have been accompanied by an apology that would be given to anyone who would then be hit. It was a sincere apology that would be “given before” the act. It was “fore-given” since “‘fore” probably meant “before” or in the language of the day in Scotland “afore.”

    So, today, forgiveness has taken on the idea for me that there is something that I was “given before I needed it.” We ask for forgiveness for something we have done that is now in the past. We want to express our sorry for a wrong done and the accompanying hurt. But, forgiveness was something that we were given by Christ who died for our sins before we even committed them. Yes, He died for the sins of the past generations and for His current generation. But, He died for all sins that are past, present and future. Jesus as the Christ saw the big, down the road picture when the consequences of our sins would be spiritually accounted for at the Judgment Throne. Can you imagine how much it would cost for us to atone for all our sins if a dollar figure were attached to them as is a common practice in courtrooms around the world. We call it “compensation for damages.”

    Our sins, intentional and unintentional, wreak havoc on the lives of those around us. But, more importantly they stunt our relationship with God since sin is a rebellion against God; a declaration that we can do better in life without God than with Him. How much does it cost to put that back in place? The answer? One life: The life of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God, the Savior of the world. He died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. He put into our spiritual bank account a sum that totalled in advance what we would owe without Him if we died and went to stand in judgment before God. When the Account Book of Life is opened and those red numbers jump out, look closely. Those red numbers do not mean “debt that cannot be paid.” Those are numbers of “paid in full” written in the blood of the Lamb of God.

    We have been given the gift of eternal life “afore we were born.” (Scottish brogue appropriate) Since we were given it before we would have to “give” to God in payment for our sins then something else must happen. It is to live as if we are grateful for the gift. We are called to live today, and since the day we were aware of what forgiveness meant through the message of the Gospel of Christ, in the gratitude of eternity. How we would live in Heaven is how we should be living on Earth. If we think we would be dancing and singing and rejoicing in Heaven because we are there, then we should be doing the same here on Earth in declaration of the truth we know already. And for those days we have not yet done so, there is always “fore-giveness.” Thank God and tee it up, I am ready to go for the green! Let me warn you I am coming….”FORE!”

    Comment by Chuck — April 11, 2009 @ 10:27 am

  8. THE FOLLOWING COMMENT WAS IN RESPONSE TO THE QUESTION: WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT FORGIVENESS?

    Jesus commanded, “Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” Yes, you heard Him correctly; there is no mistaken intention in tHis directive. So, how can it be done? Longshot? Impossible? Remember that with Christ all things are possible! So, how can we humans, even after the cross, attain to the level of divine perfection? I remember one of my high school basketball coaches mental drillings: “It is not practice that makes perfect but practicing until you perfect it that makes perfect.” How do I know when I have perfected something? Is there anything you do that you might consider “perfection?” I think about riding a bicycle. I can ride a bicycle well. I don’t usually fall over. I can make it up hills (not mountains). I can even right without using my hands (and I don’t mean pedalling.) Most of all, I can ride it with proficiency even after I have not ridden a bicyle in quite some time. Of course, that would just be a road bicycle. The same could not be said for mountain biking or bmxing. Those are not in my experience-bank and, at my age, probably never going to be in my skill set. So, on a limited scale I may have at least one thing I can do with a modicum of perfection.

    So, let me focus on that idea for a minute. Because I can ride a bike, at least certain bikes, very very well, I find that I can make a bit of a mistake and the bike can be forgiving. Push it too far and I look like I have never ridden a bike in my life. Maybe what makes me “perfect” in bicycling is that I know forgiveness and the delicate balance needed between task completion and personal injury. Can it be the same in my spiritual life? With each breath I take I must maintain that delicate balance of doing the work of a Christ follower and avoiding the injury of letting sin overtake me. That would include, without a doubt, the injury which is done upon those who are the recipients, intentionally or unintentionally, of my lack of balance. God is perfectly balanced as only God can be. He does not wobble off course nor does He proceed carelessly. God does what God does without having to think about it because He practices perfection perfectly. He knows the value and the need of “forgiveness.” Perhaps when we practice the gift of forgiveness we are moving toward being perfect as God in Heaven is perfect. Forgiveness restores life, empowers life and celebrates life. The lack of forgiveness reduces life to nothingness. Where there is a lack of forgiveness there is only the power to kill (and intentional killing is murder for those who refuse to forgive themselves and others). Where there is a lack of forgiveness there is only a pity party. How many of us stew in the pot of bitterness and realize it too late? We can be perfectly consumed by our lack pursuing perfection as God Himself is perfect.

    Peter asked Christ, “How many times must I forgive? Seven times?” Seven is one of the “perfect” numbers that fulfills the “law” and releases our obligation to go any further. But, Jesus, the image of perfection in this world and in the next declared “seventy times seven” (in some translations it is “seven times seven”) which can press the listeners of God’s word to “without end.” We must continue to forgive until we no longer have a need to ask for forgiveness nor struggle to be forgiving; it will just come naturally. Is forgiveness, true forgiveness and not the curt and terse statements of “I’m sorry” that show no attempt to modify the behavior or give understanding to the reason why something was done wrong with any level of injury, a part of our expert skill set? It was for Jesus! He was spit upon, jeered, accused, brutalized, hated, ignored, and crucified with people figurately dancing on His grave! Yet, there on the cross He looked down at all the people and asked God, “Father, forgive them, they have no idea what they are doing.” Yes, even while He was bearing the brunt of their sins and knowing He had to die for the sins of believers and unbelievers alike Jesus was perfect. So perfect in His dying was He that even an unbeliever, a Roman soldier at the foot of the cross recognized, “This must be the Son of God.” Amazing! Amazing Grace!

    Now I can go back and embrace that one step beyond “seven times seven” which Jesus urged Peter to practice in his quest for perfection (or was he just trying to see if Jesus would give him an “A” for effort in Discipleship Class). “Seven times seven” was near perfect. There was one more thing that had to be done. Do it one more time to make “fifty.” Why “fifty”? Because “fifty” was the number that designated the year of Jubilee when all debts were forgiven and life was restored to its original state. Once there, the people whose recognized their forgiveness were able to pursue the life which God had given to them unto perfection. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Oh, great, that’s just perfect. Did you say you can’t? Have you really tried or are you seeking an excuse to ignore the confidence Christ has in You which is Yours because of His perfect decision to die for us that we might live for Him.

    Comment by Chuck — April 18, 2009 @ 10:49 am

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  13. I get the Word from the Holy Spirit and the context into which It speaks from the world.

    Comment by Chuck — July 17, 2013 @ 6:27 am

  14. I have been led to post my reflections which the Holy Spirit leads me to discover and uncover for over ten years now. Thanks for reading and responding.

    Comment by Chuck — July 17, 2013 @ 6:29 am

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  20. Thanks for the compliment. I do have to give God the glory for this one. In spite of myself at times, He finds the way to speak the truth through me in my search for insight and strength. Shalom, y’all!

    Comment by Chuck — October 26, 2014 @ 11:04 am

  21. Well, I do study from several sources of commentaries, google searches, colleague dialogue but most of all prayerful study of the Word itself listening for the Holy Spirit’s direction and then we just go for it! I appreciate you taking the time to visit and hope you have continued to do so. Shalom, y’all.

    Comment by Chuck — October 26, 2014 @ 11:06 am

  22. On this blog for almost six years now. I had another site for two years before that and another for three years before that. I think I need to refresh the format as I truly want to be able to address issues better and leave the room for the spiritual reflections and biblical study, too. Suggestions? Shalom, y’all.

    Comment by Chuck — October 26, 2014 @ 11:08 am

  23. I appreciate your comments. I hope you have continued to stop in and read. Always glad to share what God is putting on our hearts and mind. Shalom, y’all.

    Comment by Chuck — October 26, 2014 @ 11:08 am

  24. I use WordPress.org . A friend of mine hosts several sites and keeps it updated for me. Looking to change my format to create some space to address contemporary issues more and still allow the room and time to share what the spirit is putting on my heart in my daily study and reflection. Shalom, y’all.

    Comment by Chuck — October 26, 2014 @ 11:11 am

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