Father, Forgive Them (Luke 22-24)

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

Luke 23:34

The point of the gospels is to lead us to the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. These are the historical and theological realities on which the Christian faith hangs. Jesus utters several statements on his way to the crucifixion as well as from the cross that help us understand his mind. He knew exactly what he was doing and exactly what was taking place. He knew He was an innocent man dying at the hands of guilty sinners. Yet, even from great physical and emotional agony He has the presence of mind to care and pray for those who torturing Him.

A seminary professor once told me that ignorance and arrogance look the same in a person. When someone hurts us it is easy to ascribe to them all sorts of arrogant motives. However, many times the injury comes not because someone is maliciously against us, but because they are ignorant of what they are doing. They may not even know they are hurting us. Certainly ignorance isn’t innocence, but it isn’t also necessarily malevolent.

How clearly Jesus sees the issue of sin even from the cross. He is literally in the the midst of paying for their sin as he intercedes for them. They didn’t know what they were doing that day, but they would know one day. And on that day, there would be mercy for all those who would come to Jesus in repentance. He was willing to forgive them even while they were crucifying Him.

As I reflected on this verse this morning I couldn’t help but contemplate the way that I have seen and understood some sins in my own life. There are things I’ve done in the past and that I understand more about now. At the time I thought they were no big deal. I look back and realize I was ignorant. I didn’t see everything rightly. I am thankful that God in His overwhelming grace chose to love me despite my sin. As I contemplate how God loves me, that even while I was sinner Christ would die for me (Romans 5:8), I can’t help but examine how I deal with those who sin against me. Certainly I don’t see with the clarity that Jesus sees sin, but there are moments where others have sinned against me that I need to recognize that sometimes people sin out of ignorance and that at the end of the day, forgiveness is more important than offense.

Father, thank you for loving me so much that while I was still dead in my trespasses and sin that Christ died for me. Thank you for the hope of the resurrection. Thank you for the amazing grace poured out on my life each day. Please continue to cultivate the character of Christ in my life. Let me be quick to forgive. Let me be concerned with the wholeness of others more than I am about perceived offenses today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

Last Year’s Post

Never the Less, not my will but yours be done

He was looking for the Kingdom of God

Why was the bible Written?

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.

7 Keys to A Better Sunday Morning Family Worship Experience

So, we’ve all been there. That long and awkward drive to church where you have been fighting with the kids all morning, feeling rushed. Because of the rushed feeling tensions are high between you and your spouse. Your kid asks a simple and innocent enough question and you lash out something like, “Just Be Quiet! We are on our way to church!

Perhaps you feel like a hypocrite as soon as you say it, or maybe you just chalk it up to Satan trying to foil your Sunday morning experience. Either way you feel guilty. But as soon as you pull in the parking lot you feel compelled to put on a smile and pretend everything is all right. Now you really do feel like a hypocrite. They are singing “Enter the Gates with Thanksgiving in your Heart” but right now you feel resentment toward your spouse, toward your kids, and perhaps you even project your own insecurities on some of the cheery looking people around you as you call them a hypocrite under your breath.

But let’s rewind the scenario and see what might have caused this terrible start to a Sunday Morning Worship experience. The night before you stayed up later than usual to catch up on SNL. You hit the snooze buttons a few times to catch up on sleep and before you know it you are running late. All of the sudden realize that you washed everything but what you were hoping to wear today (or it’s still at the cleaners), so you scramble to put some other outfit together. The kids are up and asking about something to eat, you are trying to iron a shirt that you think might be a tad too small and your spouse just hopped in the shower which means you will have to wait for them before you can hop in.

But is there a better way? I propose there is. What if we prepared for Sunday on Saturday?  Here are a few tips for preparing Saturday night for a good experience on Sunday.

  • Give the kids a bath the night before.
  • Go to bed early or at least on time.
  • Lay out your clothes for the next day (as well as for the kids).
  • Discuss a shower schedule with your spouse.
  • Have a brief time of prayer with your family asking God to make the next Sunday Special, Pray for your pastor, worship leader, life group leaders, etc.
  • Plan a light breakfast with protein in it.
  • Set your alarm and plan to wake up on time

Soon you will find that not everyone at church with a cheery face is faking it. A good Sunday morning experience begins with a little Saturday night preparation. What other tips can you offer to help make for a good Sunday morning experience?

5 Tips for Becoming a More Disciplined Reader

So you haven’t done so well at finishing a book once you start.  Or you are a little sporadic in your reading.  Here are a few tips to help you become a more disciplined regular reader.  Whether you are reading a book a day or a book a year, hopefully these tips will help drive you further along in the process.

1. Set a realistic deadline.

I found the syllabus in college very helpful in providing a daily or weekly schedule of reading.  If you have trouble starting and finishing a book, why not take a few minutes, flip through the book you want to read and set out a realistic reading schedule.  Maybe a chapter a day or a chapter a week.  Figure out a deadline and work your way back from there.  When you find yourself getting behind, double up until you have caught up.

2. Read at a set time.

Maybe you have time in the morning before work or Tuesdays at Lunch or for an hour on the treadmill in the gym.  Find a time and place that work best for you and fit into your regular schedule and start reading.  Incorporate reading into your daily routine

3. Read good books.

Check out a few book reviews before you read a book.  See what other readers thought after reading the book.  Try and find both favorable and unfavorable  reviews to read.  Once you have found a good book that still piques your interest after reading the reviews… read it.

4. Don’t move on until you have finished.

If you are an undisciplined reader, don’t start a new book until you have finished the last book you were reading.  This will help you press on through the later chapters of the book once you have already been well introduced to the topic.  Otherwise you will end up with several half-read books.

5. Have a reading list at least 2 or 3 books deep.

This will motivate you to finish the book in front of you.   Go ahead and plan the next book or two out.  That way when things begin to lag, you will have an incentive to finish the book you are reading to get to the next book that you are highly interested in.

Review: Finding Purpose Beyond Our Pain

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Finding Purpose Beyond Our Pain: Uncovering the Hidden Potential in Life’s Most Common Struggles by Dr. Paul Meier and Dr. David L. Henderson is a great book  for readers who are looking to see a greater purpose in the painful moments of life.   Through out this book the authors challenge the reader to not seek a pain free existence, but rather to learn and grow through pain to see God’s greater purpose. Both authors share keen insights from both personal and clinical experience.

The book is divided into seven sections with four chapters each.  The sections include Injustice, Rejection, Loneliness, Loss, Discipline, Failure, and Death.  Each section is stand alone and the reader can jump ahead to a section without fear of having missed vital information in a section prior.

I appreciated authors’ writing styles.  The use of real life stories and examples helped to insure that this book was an easy read and never boring.  I enjoyed reading the keen insights from two brilliant men who have years of Biblical counseling experience in walking with people through pain.  The credibility of the authors, the easy to reference sectioning, and the readable style has guaranteed this book a spot on my shelf for years to come.

 

This is a very practical and readable book on pain and adversity.   Finding Purpose Beyond Our Pain is an excellent resource. The retail price is $22.99 (Hardcover), and is available at places like Amazon.com for $16.55. I gave it four stars.

Disclaimer: As a blogger I received a free review copy from the Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Blogger program  (http://brb.thomasnelson.com/ ).  There was no requirement to give it a positive review, just for the reviewer to call it like they see it.

Review: The Well-Behaved Child

THE Well-Behaved ChildThe Well-Behaved Child: Discipline that Really Works! by John Rosemond is a great resource for parents who are looking for practical advice, tips, and proven strategies for disciplining their children with in the ages of three to thirteen.   The premise of the book, and consequently Rosemond’s disciplining strategies, is simple: children are bad.  That is, their default nature is to misbehave.  He proposes that obedient children are happy children.   According to Rosemond, it is essential that parents recognize this and address the errant behavior in children rather than trying to rationalize it or understand it.  His no nonsense parenting as leadership approach is a breath of fresh air in a world where parents are scared to effectually discipline their kids for fear of scaring them mentally.

Throughout the book Rosemond dispels many popular myths that are based more on misapplication of popular psychology rather than on factual studies with real children.  One such myth he exposes is that the reward system often employed by parents is good dog training, but poor child training.  In place of popular myth, he offers tried and true techniques and practices that will help your child be a better behaved, happy, and ready to meet the real world one day outside your home (where the boss isn’t likely to jump to the reward system for poor behavior).

The one thing this book really misses though is the spiritual teaching side of discipline.  From a Christian parent’s perspective, I find it crucial to discuss matters of the heart, grace, forgiveness, and restoration as part of the disciplining process.  Though the book does contain a few scripture quotations, it is largely missing the heart component, which in my estimation, makes all the difference in the world.

For parenting there are better tools available, but this book serves its purpose well in providing effective strategies for discipline.  The Well Behaved Child is an excellent resource. The retail price is $24.99 (Hardcover), and is available at places like Amazon for $16.49. I gave it four stars.

Disclaimer: As a blogger I received a free review copy from the Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Blogger program  (http://brb.thomasnelson.com/ ).  There was no requirement to give it a positive review, just for the reviewer to call it like they see it.