Tag Archives: Isaac Watts

A Thought on Real Forgiveness: To Worship with the Predator

A while back, but less than 10 years, my family fell prey to a sexual predator. Some of you may know what that is like, what the roller coaster of emotions one must endure feels like, and how violated you feel when the one that did the harm was supposed to have been a friend.

I’m not going to share many details, but I am thankful for the fact that our loved one didn’t go missing or wasn’t found dead in a ditch. It could have been much worse.

Regardless, as a pastor, I learned some hard lessons about how sexual predators prey on children by infiltrating congregations while disguised as the best church members you could ever want. I also learned that forgiving a sexual predator does NOT translate into wiping the slate clean and “forgetting” in the same way God does our sin.

Initially, even though it’s hard to say with certainty because a man doesn’t truly know what he will do until he’s put in a situation, if given the opportunity I would have killed the man. As a matter of fact, there have been times when I doubted my manhood because I didn’t kill him. But that desire for vengeance has passed.

Do I want the man to be released from prison? Not any time soon. That’s because I don’t want him to have the chance to do more harm, to abuse more young girls. But do I want him to stay in prison forever? Honestly, not really. Actually, it’s not something I think about anymore.

Granted, if he showed up at my door unannounced, there would likely be bloodshed. Just saying. Why? Because I’ll never be able to trust him again. Period.

But do I hate him? No, I don’t. Have I forgiven him? Yes, I have. And I love him, too.

How is this possible? Well, to begin with, I gave him over to the authorities to deal with. They were the ones set up by God to carry out justice on this earth. Taking justice into my own hands would be contrary to God’s law, therefore a sin. I’m not seeking more punishment, for to do so would be seeking vengeance, not justice.

Next, my prayer is that one day this man would genuinely recognize the harm he has done and call out to God for mercy and forgiveness. I want him to feel remorse, but I also want him to bring God glory by calling out to Him in faith.

But this is how I know my heart is right, at least as right as can be considering the circumstances. I would love to see this predator in heaven one day. And do you know what I want to do when I see him there? I want to smile and say to him, “Isn’t God good!”

The greatest end to this tragic story would be to stand there with that sinner and recognize that my own sins would have damned me to hell just like him . . . if not for God’s grace, if not for Jesus!

Then, at that moment, the only right thing to do will be to turn toward the Throne and worship the One who saves to the uttermost!

What glory is there in seeing someone burn in hell for an eternity? God doesn’t want that, for He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). The glory comes when God is praised for his grace and mercy that is greater than all our sin! The glory comes when God is praised for eternity and His goodness and wisdom is displayed to all the principalities and powers in heavenly places!

"At the Cross"

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

- Isaac Watts (1707)

Real forgiveness starts at the foot of the Cross.

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Filed under abuse, Christianity, grace, Love of God, worship

Worms Need a Savior

We All Do It

There are many people in the world that call right “wrong,” and wrong “right.” As a matter of fact, we all do it, and probably a lot more often than we think.

When is the last time you broke the law and sped down the highway? Did you justify your actions with something like, “They should have never made the speed limit that low.” When is the last time you watched a rated-R movie and condoned the sex or violence as “art” or “entertainment”? Does Philippians 4:8 (whatsoever things are pure…think on these things) ever cross your mind?

Friends of Murderers 

But before you get all depressed and feel like you have no moral high ground, at least you don’t steal from your parents, do you?

The one who robs his father or mother and says, “That’s no sin,” is a companion to a man who destroys. – Proverbs 28:24 HCSB

Simply put, the one who steals from his own mother and father, especially one who thinks there’s nothing wrong with it, lives in the gutter of humanity. He’s no better than a worm.

I personally like the way the New Living Translation puts this proverb:

“Anyone who steals from his father and mother and says, “What’s wrong with that?” is no better than a murderer.”

Oh, but wait! What does the Bible say in 1 John 3:15? It says: “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer…” A murderer! Seriously, I can’t stand the scum who would rob his parents and say, “No big deal.” That kind of person needs to be dealt with in the harshest manner. These guys are nothing but gutter-dwelling, scum-sucking worms.

But then again, what the thief, the hater, and the murderer really need is a Savior.

Alas! and did my Savior bleed?
And did my Sov’reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I? 
 – Isaac Watts (“At the Cross”)

 

The only problem is that too many of us are unwilling to admit we are “worms,” too.

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Filed under Christianity, salvation, Theology

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Choir Girl

Last night I had the rare chance to go hear my own daughter sing at Bryan College. It was wonderful! I wish all of you could have been there, especially to hear “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” Powerful!

Katie at the doorNow, since Katie has gone to college, she has been busy, busy, busy…even touring with the Bryan College Chorale. On the rare occasion I have had to hear her display the music education she is receiving, all I’ve had to record it with was my iPhone. Last night all I got was a picture with her as she was handing out…what do they call those things?…bulletins? Menus? Billings? Keepsakes?

That has made me sad.

But WAIT!…

Earlier this month Katie and her personal choir (at least that’s the way this daddy sees it) performed at the Northside Presbyterian Church PC(USA). — on a side note, I’m not big on the denomination right now — Fortunately for me, since this was on a Sunday morning and I had other obligations, they did a wonderful job at recording the whole thing!

But before you watch it, let me tell you why I am sharing this (besides being proud of Katie and her backup singers). One of the greatest hymns ever written was penned by Isaac Watts, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” Listening to it last night brought me to tears.

The Wondrous Cross

How often do we do that? Survey the cross? How often do we just pause for more than a few moments and measure out the height, depth, length, and breadth of the place where “sorrow and love flow mingled down”? If we did, we would think less of ourselves and more of Him.

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. – 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 NKJV

So, I hope you enjoy the video of Katie’s choir (incidentally, she is standing all the way to the far right). But after you listen to Isaac Watt’s famous hymn (beginning at the 32:48 mark), ask yourself the question the old man in the movie Do You Believe? asks the preacher: “What are you going to do about it?”

If you will see the cross for what it is, it will make a difference in your life.

(UPDATE: Katie just watched this and said, “We were not ready for that concert. We got our practice time in on the road.” This was their first concert.)

Oh, and “Jesus Paid it All” is awesome, too!

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Filed under God, Love of God, music, Parenting, Relationships and Family, worship