Tag Archives: thoughts

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 neโ€™er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
โ€™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

Thursday Thoughts: 4/16/2020

Random Thoughts

Every once in a while I have to write what’s on my mind, even when it might be multi-layered, a little discombobulated, and look like well-worn rabbit trails.

Not every thought needs to develop into a full-blown, well-sourced article. Not every thought needs to be completely thought through before sharing. Sometimes we need to get our thoughts out of our heads and onto paper (or a screen) in order give our brains some stretching room.

Therefore, consider this more like a spring-time yard sale, only the random objects spread across tables and blankets on the driveway are free for the taking. If you like it, it’s yours!

Bibles

For the record, my mother is dying of cancer. I don’t want to talk about it. All I want to say is that she wanted a new Bible, one she could read without a magnifying glass, and I ordered her one. She was so excited she sounded like Christmas had come.

But aside from getting her Bible in Giant Print, I ordered it in the New Living Translation. That’s worth mentioning because my mother had always been more of a KJV-only type. However, she wanted a new Bible that she could more easily read through large portions in one sitting, as I had recently advised people in our congregation to do.

Even though she probably has no more than a year, at best, she still wanted a new Bible to read. Just think about that for a while.

Government Overreach

I don’t subscribe to most conspiracy theories, at least the ones having to do with little green men, Area 51, and the Kennedy assassination.ย  However, if you were to ask me about Area 52, I could tell you about a secret military base (underground) in Arkansas that is powered off the grid by tectonic plates that create energy through the science of “crowd farming,” and that those plates are found in the tiles of 24-hour Walmarts spread around the state of Arkansas. Oh, and I could point out that there are 52 state parks under 52 million square miles, 52 Super Walmarts in Arkansas, and that Arkansas is the global headquarters of Walmart.

But I won’t. That would be craaaazy! You never heard anything from me. Understand?

On the other hand, it is foolhardy to assume the actions of our government are always in our best interests. Like Ronald Reagan once said, the scariest words in the English language are when the government says, “I only want to help you.” That’s why I think if the Bereans were “more noble” for searching the Scriptures instead of taking Paul’s teachings at face value, we should be noble and search the Constitution and Bill of Rights whenever government says they want to keep us safe.

Hopeful

Lastly, may I just say that I am hopeful? Yes, I’m hopeful that what we are seeing in the world is the beginning of another Great Awakening. The slumbering, comfortable Western Church has been slapped back into reality with the forced closures of it’s sanctuaries and parking lots. We have been forced to take “church” outside of the “four walls of normalcy” and out to where ministry can be done.

One thing is for sure, church will never go back to the way it was: it will be different.

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Filed under America, current events, General Observations

What’s On Your Whiteboard?

A couple of weeks ago I went to several days of training in Nashville for Aflac – it was called “Flight School.”

During that training, we learned a little about something called the RAS (Reticular Activating System), a particular part of the brain that acts like a gatekeeper, filtering through the multiple thousands of messages we receive every day.

Well, being the preacher that I am, I immediately saw the spiritual applications of this newfound understanding of a particular part of our brain. That’s when I started making notes for this sermon, which made it hard for me to concentrate on the class, at least for the next few minutes.

If you didn’t know this, preachers are always interested in good illustrations ๐Ÿ™‚

So, when you have a few moments, listen to this sermon I delivered at South Soddy Baptist Church. I think you will be challenged and encouraged by it.

Click on the picture to link to the sermon.

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Filed under Preaching