Christians Are Supposed to Forgive

Yes, we are. Jesus commands us to.

He tells us to turn the other cheek when people abuse us.  He didn’t specify which people…just “people.”

But how does he tell us to treat one another?

Oh yes…He said to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  That is, treat others the way you want them to treat you.  So if you want people to treat you nicely, you need to be nice to them too.

So I find it frustrating when Christians use the commands of forgiveness, and turning the other cheek, as a license to treat other Christians badly, and then expect to be forgiven because that is what we’re supposed to do.  Christians who behave that way are not really playing fair.

Nobody likes being wrong. Nobody likes to eat crow and admit they screwed up and ask for forgiveness, but it’s the only mature thing to do…

Part 2: Twice Adopted, Once Redeemed, No Longer Wand’ring

Part 1 – Click Here

Part 1 of my convoluted story ended with me meeting Glenn, (in Spruce’s Market in 1987, where I worked…and is sadly gone now. )  I was all of 17 years old and this man caught my eye in a way no other guy had.  There was something about him.  He didn’t say much (some things never change) but I was drawn to him, and I’ve never had such a strong feeling toward anyone, ever…before I knew his name, I knew I wanted to be his.

After a few weeks of checkout-flirtations, (including my very graceful demonstration on how to knock over a rack of bananas with a shopping cart) Glenn finally revealed his first name and then we went for our first date – on a Saturday afternoon, to the gazebo in the park.  We chatted a little, I was very nervous.  Somehow the topic of Christian music came up.

Hey! I was a Christian music fan! My friend Paul, trying to save my soul from country music, gave me some tapes he made: Kenny Marks, Twila Paris, and someone else whose name I forgot.  This somewhat impressed Glenn that I had those tapes.  And that I listened to them.  In my heart I forgave Paul for not taking me to the prom, because of that “satanic music.”  Because of Paul’s desire to have me listen to good music, I had something in common with Glenn now, and this was shaping up to be good.

Glenn and I began dating in earnest, and I was on top of the world, in spite of the fact that my mother was very unhappy. She did not like Glenn, did not like how he came down to the house and just played guitar (my favorite song of Glenn’s, Yet There Is Room, was introduced to me during one of these visits.)  My mom and dad didn’t like that he was “religious.”  I liked that he was religious.  I couldn’t  explain why, but I did.  (I didn’t see the unseen hands reaching out to me all those years.  I only saw my loneliness.)

[Back Story]

I had renewed my dabbling in religion thanks to my involvement with Glenn.  When I was a young teen, my bestest friend Cindy took me to Sunday School at the Baptist Church in Hawley with her.  I liked it, mostly.  Cindy once told me I needed to be baptized, to wash all my sins away.  (She was a little confused.)  My mother, on the other hand, was offended.  She said, almost mockingly, “What sins could you have?”  (She was confused too.)  Maybe she didn’t mean to mock, but that’s how I took it.  I eventually stopped going to Sunday School.  Mom didn’t encourage or discourage me but she didn’t mind that I didn’t go.

Anyway, in spite of ditching church, I considered myself a “born again Christian” at this time, because one night when I was about 12, or 13, I was overwhelmed with heartbreak and loneliness over something, (I don’t know what…at that age, anything upsetting is the end of the world.)  I was just lonely and crying in my bed.  I had memorized, along with The Lord’s Prayer, Psalm 23, and was repeating it over and over in my head.  With my eyes closed, I envisioned that Green Pasture, and then I saw Jesus in my mind’s eye.  He wanted me to come, and I did…and I fell asleep.   The next day was business as usual, but off and on over the years following that, I would get out my Good News Bible, or the NIV my cousin gave me for Christmas one year, and read it.  Then I became friends with Paul in high school, and that was interesting.  He was appalled at the state of my soul, because I read Stephen King and listened to “secular”music.  Then Paul moved away. But I had Twila Paris, and Kenny Marks, and my Bible.  I was a Christian, in my mind, anyway.

[ /Back Story]

Back to 1987… just before Christmas, Glenn called me to tell me that he couldn’t see me anymore.  He said that he could not get involved with me as I was not a born again believer.  I was annoyed by this.  Who did he think he was? Didn’t I listen to Christian music? Didn’t I willingly go to bible studies with him at his pastor’s house?  Was it my fault I had to work on Sundays and didn’t go to church?  At any rate, it was over, and I was devastated.  Once again, I was alone, rejected, blah blah blah (violin music begins.)

However.  I was not to be defeated.  I recalled that Glenn’s dear friend Joe attended the Baptist Church in Hawley, the very church where I used to go to Sunday School with Cindy. And…hey, while I couldn’t go to church in the morning, I could go at night, and meet this Joe person, and somehow let him know that I was Glenn’s former flame, whom he ditched for not going to church enough.  Hmmmm.

My plan worked pretty nicely.  Sure enough, about a month or so after my attending church on Sunday nights and meeting Joe, Glenn called me.  And we got together again.  And to make this long story less long, Glenn asked me to marry him.  And I said YES!

Finally, I was going to have a place to belong!  I was going to belong to a man who loved me!  And I would have a new name.

Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech!

Glenn’s friends stepped in.  They did not believe I was saved.  Again, this irritated me.  How could they possibly know? They had never MET me!  Glenn again, broke up with me, this time in his pastor’s office.  I told that pastor, and Glenn, about my experience at that night when I was crying, and thought of The Lord’s Prayer, and saw Jesus, and I went to him, and I was saved.  Neither one of them gave much weight to that.   Then I said I’d been going to church, and I even wrote a Christian song, and that didn’t impress them much either.

I left the pastor’s office a broken, broken woman.  I was 18 years old and my world had ended, I was beyond devastated.  I do not know how I made it home alive, because I did think about just ending it all with a well planned car wreck.  How many times would I have to be rejected?

How many times?

Then I realized, to my horror, that I had been using God all this time, I had been lying, I didn’t care about being a Christian as much as I wanted to be a Christian so I could have Glenn.  I didn’t love Jesus, I was using religion as a means to an end.  And I was horrified.

How could God ever forgive me?  What was that unpardonable sin I read about?

I was doomed.

[I think this is going to take more parts than I anticipated. Thank you for reading so far. Part 3 coming soon.]

Wond’ring About My Wand’rings…

Yesterday, I was wishing I had an old fashioned journal – the kind you have to physically write in, with your own handwriting.  Actually, I’ve wanted one for a long time in spite of the several that I’ve started over the years and never finished.  Having something to jot thoughts down in is really a great thing.

I wish I had thought to chronicle not only the brilliant bursts of thought and spiritual revelation (on all too rare occurrences, to be sure) but also just to record the ordinary and seemingly mundane details about life and thoughts I’ve had throughout the days.

I wish I had thought to take more notice of my town – my small town of Hawley that seems, on the surface to remain ever the same, yet upon close inspection, has undergone many changes over the course of my life.  As it has slowly evolved.

I wish I had taken pictures of Brown’s Pharmacy (though a picture could never capture the interesting way the place smelled – like bandages, iodine, and perhaps, Vicks VapoRub), The Hawley Department Store (to be fair I probably didn’t even have a decent camera when that store was open for business, but I remember it….and miss it), and Smith’s Ice Cream Parlor before they closed and their spaces were reinvented.

Did Hawley change for the better? Or merely change?

Likewise, I wish I had taken note of my own evolution, spiritually as well as just plain mentally.  Were I to look closely at my journey, perhaps I would be pleasantly surprised at the progress I have made but was unaware of along the way, and is now lost and obscured to me as the details have been obscured.  Or maybe I would be saddened at the lack of growth and maturity I display…

Alas, no record has been kept by me but my Father in Heaven has not missed one detail.  He has seen every stumble, every victory, every heartbreak and every joy.  Not only has He seen these things, but according to His Word, He has been with me (even when I thought I was treading through the darkness and sunlight alone)

Hebrews 13:5 – “Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”

Matthew 28:20 – “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

He knows my heart, and he knows every step of this journey that I embarked upon nearly 23 years ago when I made the decision to become a Christain and walk in His ways.  He knows – and forgives – and loves – whether I think He’s paying attention or not.

In 2011 (why do we always do this kind of thing at the end of the year?) I want to know Him better than I ever have. I want to cling to the promises and spit out the fears and doubts that have always plagued me – I guess those fears and doubts were planted inside me in infancy, when my biological father abandoned me and my adoptive father never seemed to accept and love me.  (See my other Puzzle Pieces posts for an explanation if you are so inclined).

I renounce the fears, I renounce the doubts, and I praise Him – I thank Him for not letting me wander too far without calling me back.

Puzzle Pieces: Come In

Puzzle Pieces: Come In

by Karen Keim Rice on Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 1:13am

This week marks the 22nd anniversary of my becoming a born again Christian. Thankfully, I’m a lot smarter now, than I was then. Back then, I think I was actually quite offensive. The Master has worked on me these past two-plus decades, softening my edges and hopefully making me a vessel of blessing rather than sandpaper and splinters to those I come across.

Before I made the decision to be a Christian, I struggled a great deal with “belonging.” So often, I felt like a misfit. My real father (Nick) did not want me. My adopted dad acted like he did not want me. My adopted mom was always trying to change me. The kids at school, with a couple notable exceptions, preferred to laugh at me and exclude me, rather than include me. It really kind of sucked. Pardon the language. (and yes…I will agree and admit that I was not always a nice person at school either. That is to my shame.)

At some point, I think I was 12 or 13, I remember crying on my bed over some hurt – probably a fight with my dad or something. I had gone to Sunday school at the Baptist church in Hawley with my girlhood friend Cindy (one of many Cindys to bless my life) and for whatever reason, decided to memorize Psalm 23. I recalled it that evening through my tears, and in my mind’s eye, I saw that green pasture, and I saw Jesus standing there, motioning for me to “Come!”

To make a long story short, eventually, I did. It wasn’t until years later, but I did. I went to the little Baptist church again, this time as a grown woman who was very broken hearted and in despair. I won’t tell my war stories because frankly, I was a wimp…my life wasn’t so bad. I’m embarrassed to admit how little it took to “break me.” At any rate, I felt I was a fraud. God certainly didn’t want me. And that same Cindy friend coaxed me into going to church with her that night. I went to appease her.

I had been there off and on, so while nobody was a stranger to me, I definitely was a stranger to them. They did not know my story, and if they did, they wouldn’t want me there. The old pastor, gentle, godly Merle Watkins, sat down at the piano and began to play a song that would follow me the rest of the days of my life: Surely Goodness and Mercy.

“A pilgrim was I and a wand’ring, in the dark night of sin I did roam….when Jesus the kind shepherd found me…and now I am on my way home…surely goodness, and mercy, shall follow me, all the days, all the days of my life….”

Wait – Jesus wants me even though I’ve been in sin? Of course. His message has always been…Come. Come in.

Last week I was sitting in church at Lords Valley, thinking of all the trite cliches that churches put on their display boards in hopes of enticing someone on the outside to come in. Well, what if they gave up with the cliches, and just gave that simple message: Come. Come in. You Are Welcome Here.

Once you come in, regardless of where you’ve been and what you’ve done, once you come in, mercy and goodness will follow you.

Yes, it most certainly has. I still screw up. I still bring shame to His name. Yet, He still forgives, He still leads me beside the still waters, He gives me a drink and soothes my soul…and He continues to lead me in the paths of His righteousness. And if I get stubborn, if I wander off, His shepherd’s hook is always there, gently pulling me back. All the days, all the days of my life.

I could not find a really nice version of Surely Goodness And Mercy online. However, I found this old song by Steve Green that fits as well – I have loved Steve Green’s voice for years and years. Enjoy – “That’s Where His Mercy Begins.” I think I even sang it at Cole, the Baptist church once; back in the day, I used to sing a lot. Songs have always been a blessing to me…hope this one will be a blessing to you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ju447_6gHt4

More of my Puzzle Pieces Journey, if interested: Click Here

Karen Rice, AKA Wizzy

Fleecing God

Many of us, at least those of us who have spent any time attending or teaching vacation bible school, are familiar with the account of Gideon and his “fleece test” found in Judges chapter six.

I can really relate to Gideon – it’s not really that I doubt God, but I doubt my own interpretations or understanding.

When Gideon first encountered the Lord, his doubt wasn’t in the existence of God; his doubt was in what he was seeing; he wasn’t sure that it was really God to whom he was speaking.

Gideon said, in verse 17: “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me.”

Then, later on, just to be sure he was understanding what the Lord told him – that he would be used to save Israel from their enemies, Gideon asked for more confirmation:

Judges 6:36-40 Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised- look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.

Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew.” That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.

I have been involved in various churches over the years: Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodist, Assembly of God, Christian and Missionary Allicance, and a few other odd churches. One thing that was particular to the charismatic churches is the “Word of Knowledge” or the “Word from the Lord.”

I often felt very unspiritual listening to these “words” because I doubted they were REALLY from the Lord – as in, directly. The words, while true and biblical, were extremely general and had a very broad application; it would most certainly apply to someone. Yet these “words” were accepted and rejoiced over as if they were something profound, new, and fresh…just for that purpose, for that day.

I grew disillusioned. In fact, I had come to a point in my life where I was doubting a lot. In particular, I doubted that I truly was a child of God. I didn’t doubt God; I doubted my place in the Kingdom of God.

My current church invited a “prophetic speaker” to come and speak to us. I had my doubts, of course. Before going to the service, I put a very specific fleece out before the Lord in prayer.

I wanted Him to tell me – specifically, without doubt, without question, without generalization, that I was His child and that He did indeed love me.  I wanted to hear those very words, and I wanted it to be without a doubt that it was meant specifically for me and only me.

I went up to be “spoken over” by this “prophetic speaker.” It was as I had suspected…nice, uplifting encouraging words, but they were like the horoscope in the paper. It could apply to anyone, really, if you tried hard enough. I went back and sat down on my chair, pondering.

Wow, I guess I have been right all along. No matter how many people have encouraged me or prayed for me, I really don’t belong in this family of God. I was an impostor.

Then.

A teenaged girl motioned to me – she needed to talk to me. I thought our kids had been acting up or something. Katrina had been one of our babysitters for some time, and I’ve watched her grow up from the time she was in Awana at the Baptist church. She pulled me aside and told me that the Lord wanted her to tell me something.

She said that the Lord wanted her to tell me that I was His child, and that He loved me very much. I thought I was going to faint. In addition, she said she saw flowers blooming around my head while we were in church. That floored me, because one of my talents is for killing flowers and plants. But the Lord loves me, I am His child, and I was like blooming flower to Him, even if I can’t make flowers bloom myself.

The confirmation came, not from a so-called prophet, but from a devoted girl who had prayed for me for weeks.

You can still fleece God. And just like with Gideon, you will get your answer. Even if the answer comes from an unexpected source.

wizzy

More of my Puzzle Pieces Journey, if interested: Click Here

This post originally appeared on MySpace & ActiveRain.com