Whatever Happened to Sin?

We seem to have done away with sin.  No one sins.  They make mistakes.  They “mess up.”

In “The Thirteen Clocks” author James Thurber has a character who states:

“We all have our weaknesses; mine just happens to be that I am evil.”

If there is no sin, only weaknesses, mistakes, character flaws, the whole point of Good Friday and Easter is meaningless.

“Why is sin sinful, not just a “little weakness”?  Who says sin is sin?  One of the words the Bible uses to refer to sin means “to miss the mark,” implying that there is a mark or target that has been missed, so the word sin itself implies a standard.  If a highway patrolman stops you for speeding, it implies that the official government has set a speed limit, and you violated it.  Similarly, the moral standard for all humanity comes right out of the holy character of God.  His glory, his holiness, is the standard we all fall short of.”

When we are enjoying our favorite foods and entertainments, it can be easy to forget the decay of sin and death all around us.  Lent helps us remember that there is only one who actually reverses decay – the God who raises the dead.”….Timothy G. Walton

For me I think I have heard the story of the cross and the resurrection so much that I just take it all for granted.  But this season of Lent, I am thankful for the price Jesus paid for us all.

 

 

Where Is Our Reverence?

Posted this in 2015 but in this season of Lent – still worth thinking about.

Grandma's Ramblings

AWE-FULL

Great and holy God

awe and reverence

fear and trembling

do no come easily to us

for we are not

Old Testament Jews

or Moses

or mystics

or sensitive enough.

Forgive us

for slouching into Your presence

with little expectation

and less awe

than we would eagerly give a visiting dignitary.

We need

neither Jehovah nor a buddy—

neither “the Great and powerful Oz” nor “the man upstairs.”

Help us

to want what we need…

You

God

and may the altar of our hearts

tremble with delight

at Your visitation

amen.

Frederick Ohler

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The Power and Magic of Music

Every other Friday I go to a local assisted living facility and play for 30-40 minutes.  I play all kinds of music.  Old songs like “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and “You are My Sunshine” get them singing along with me.  They love to listen so songs from old movies like “The Sound of Music” and “Exodus.”  The program is always ended with some old hymns, songs that only those over 60 even know.

Over the years as I have played in these facilities, perhaps the most requested song is “In the Garden.”  The song speaks of being with Christ in the garden but as I play it I envision the beautiful garden I had at my former home.

As I play for the residents of these facilities, some are very alert, sing along and truly enjoy the music.  Others are clearly struggling with physical or mental difficulties, and do not sing along but they clearly enjoy the music.  Then there are the few who do not seem to have any idea where they are or what is going on sometimes falling asleep as I play.

Yet I find those are the ones who are the greatest blessing to me when they do respond to the music.

Years ago my husband and I did a service at a nursing home in Edwardsville, IL.  One woman would be wheeled in by one of the nursing staff.  She sat with her head slumped to one side and appeared to have no idea we were even there.  But one Sunday we sang the old gospel hymn “There is Power in the Blood.”  Instantly this woman sat up, smiled and began singing along perfectly in a clear and beautiful voice.  As soon as the song was over, she slumped back down in her chair and appeared to once again have no idea where she was or what was going on.  Seeing this we sang that song every week and she always “came to life” at the sound of that song.

Today I saw that same thing happen.  One lady in the music room appeared to be totally unaware of her surroundings.  When I began singing “In the Garden” she came to life and sang in a VERY loud voice.

My heart sang with joy as I left the music center at the end of the program and headed down the hall to the front door.  She was sitting in the hallway just outside her room and I could hear her all the way down the hall as she continued to sing in a VERY loud voice “In the Garden.

There is magic in music.

Where words leave off, music begins.” 
― Heinrich Heine

“Music is the universal language of mankind.” 
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Music is the literature of the heart; it commences where speech ends.” 
― Alphonse de Lamartine

“My heart, which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary.” 
― Martin Luther

I Have Sinned Against God?

My husband and I finished reading the book of 2 Samuel this morning.   Growing up I loved the stories of King David:

  • the young man who killed the giant Goliath with a sling and a stone
  • the shepherd boy writing beautiful Psalms
  • the mighty warrior king
  • the man who wanted to build a temple for God

One of the best known stories is his great sin when he coveted the wife of another man.  Psalm 51 is believed to have been the psalm he wrote after repenting of his terrible sins.

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.

 

Reading this I cannot help but think of al the people David sinned against.

  • Bathsheba who he seduced into betraying her husband
  • Her husband, Uriah, whose wife he stole and then had killed
  • His own family for who he set such a bad example
  • His military commander, Joab, who was forced into a compromising position in having Uriah killed

Yet David said he had sinned against God and God only.

Understanding how David must have felt when the full sense of what he had done hit him helps explain this I believe.  David had from his youth depended on God and reading the Psalms he wrote you can see the love he had for God.  When he fully realized how he had betrayed, not only Uriah and Bathsheba, but the very basis of his faith, he was devastated.

So when David says, “Against you and you only have I sinned,” I don’t think he means, “I didn’t wrong Uriah by killing him, and I didn’t wrong Bathsheba by raping her, and I didn’t wrong the baby by being the cause of its death.” He meant, “The horrible thing here, ultimately, is that I rebelled against God. I rejected God as my treasure. I scorned the word of God.” This is what Nathan said to him when he came and pointed the finger at him: “Why have you despised the word of God?” That’s what Nathan said. Nathan didn’t say, “Why have you killed a man, and why have you raped a woman?” He said, “Why have you despised the word of God?”

So David knows from the prophet that the worst thing that has happened here is that he has despised God. And so I think that’s what he means. He is simply drawing attention, not to the minimization of rape and murder, but to the maximization of the assault on God that happened in those acts.

They are not less horrible because he says this: they are more horrible because he says this….John Piper

When Joseph was tempted by Potiphar’s wife he resisted her by saying.

“My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”

Of course such a sin would have been against Potiphar but Joseph placed his greater loyalty to God and God’s laws.  It was God he did not want to offend.

So, I ask myself – When I offend someone, when I harm someone, when I sin against someone, how do I sorry for that?

Do I just apologize to that person and move on?  Do I think that takes care of everything?  Or, do I realize that my sin is also rejecting the word of God?  Do I realize how I have counted my desire to “do my own thing” more important than my desire to remain true to my faith, my God?

Lord, help me to value my relationship with you and my loyalty to your Word that I will not regard my sins so ightly, but reconize my sins are against You and repent accordingly.

 

When Will Daddy Stop Being Dead?

Yesterday it was 37 years since my first husband was killed in an accident.  He died when the car he was working on fell on top of him and crushed him.  My two young daughters came home from school and found him there.  Needless to say, it was quite a traumatic experience for them.

All of the events surrounding that day are forever entrenched in my mind.  But one memory that still haunts me occurred about six weeks after the funeral.

At the time of his death as I tried to comfort my daughters, my youngest daughter seemed not to really be upset or need any comforting.  As family and friends came in for the funeral she enjoyed playing with cousins and friends and appeared to have no sorrow for her father’s death.

At first I thought it was just shock but after the funeral was over and weeks began to pass she still shown no sign of any trauma or sorrow.

I began wondering what kind of daughter I was raising.

Finally, about six weeks later she came to me and asked a question I will never forget.

“Mommy, when will Daddy stop being dead and come home?”

Oh my!!!

It was then I realized what she had been thinking all this time.

A few months before his death he had injured his back and was in the hospital for almost two weeks.  At that time the hospital did not allow young children in the rooms so when I went to see him I would have them stand in the yard just outside his window.  He would come to the window and wave at them.

When he was discharged from the hospital we had a party!  The girls made a sign “Welcome home Daddy” and we hung it just over the door to the kitchen.  We had cake and ice cream and celebrated that Daddy was home with us once again.

At that moment, I realized my young daughter did not understand what “dead” meant.  She had apparently thought it was just another injury and that Daddy would be coming home again.

That moment was one of the hardest times of my life.

I sat her down and sadly had to tell her:

“Daddy is dead,  Dead means he will never come home again.”

I still remember her face!

Tears swelled up in her eyes and she fell into my arms and cried.  Clearly her heart was broken.

daughters

No one can measure the trauma and pain both my daughters experienced because of their father’s accidental death.  Or the pain I felt seeing them hurting and feeling so inadequate for the task of helping them in this difficult time.

But one thing I learned – and I trust they did too.

Although death – or sometimes divorce or abandonment by a father – can leave us fatherless, we still have a heavenly father who loves and cares for us.

In the months and years ahead I have both experienced that heavenly father’s protection and love for me but also seen His help to my daughters.

I do not pretend to know why my daughters lost their earthly father but I thank God that we have a heavenly father who cares and who helps us when we walk through that valley of the shadow of death – or any other difficult time.

And I praise God that He has given both my daughters a family of their own to love and to have their love.

I also praise God that as a Christian I believe although that little girl’s daddy could not come back home to her – some day she will join him in the new home God has made for them both.

What a great reunion!

 

 

I Can See! I Can See!

Last week I had surgery on my right eye removing a cataract and inserting a new lens in my eye.  Doctor told me that my vision would be much improved but I had no idea how much better I would see.

I have always been near-sighted and it was getting to the point that I had to hold my Bible or any book almost to my face to see.  What a surprise that I can now hold my book at arm’s length and see without any difficulty.  What is even better is how bright the colors look now.

I opened my Bible and was surprised to see how white the pages were – a bright, bright white.  All these years I thought the pages were a dingy gray.  A pair of pajamas I have had for over three years now I see are a beautiful shade of grey and black.  All this time I thought they were a dingy brown and black.

In two weeks I go back to get my left eye fixed and I can hardly wait to see how bright everything will be then.

With the cloudy cataracts it was like looking through a dirty window.  Now someone has come and cleaned the window and left it sparkling.

As I thought about the change in my vision, I realized this did not happen over night.  Once my vision was great but slowly over the years as I aged, the lens in my eyes became cloudy.  It was such a slow process I did not realize it until it got so bad I had difficulty seeing.  Night driving became an impossibility as I could hardly see in the dark and the lights from the cars blinded me with the large halos around the headlights.

It became harder for me to read and I could not distinguish between many colors.  I bought clothes that I thought matched only to have my husband and children tell me they were not the same color.

Still, I did not realize just how bad my sight had become until after this surgery.  The colors are so beautiful and bright.  I am looking forward to all the spring flowers as I will have both eyes corrected just about the time everything starts blooming.

This has caused me to think about my own spiritual sight.  I made a committment to the Lord as a young child.

You can read my story at:

My Commitment

But I have to ask myself – over the years has my spiritual sight become weaker?  Have I become comfortable in my walk with God and lost any of that initial enthusiasm and joy?

I also look at our nation and wonder how far we have slipped from the principles that once we held dear.  As our culture becomes more secular have we also slowly become blind and accepting of things we once would have rejected.

I realize times and cultures change and just because we used to do or believe something does not mean it was right.  As we grow in knowledge over the years our view and understanding should also grow.   But my prayer is that the church has not slowly lost its spiritual eyesight without realizing it.

I encourage you to do a checkup on your spiritual sight?  Do you need some cataracts removed?

 

Are You One of the Nine?

My husband and I hold services at two different assisted living facilities and I also give a piano concert twice a month at one of them.  Today my husband shared with the residents the story in the Gospel of Luke about the ten lepers that came to Jesus asking to be healed.  That story really got me thinking about my own attitude.

Ten lepers came and Jesus healed them all.  He told them to go to the priest to have the priest confirm they were clean and could now rejoin their families.

As the ten started to the priest they realized their skin was clear and they were healed.  How exciting that moment must have been.

After that moment of great joy, nine of the ten continued on their way.  But one man turned back and came to Jesus to say “thank you.”

His response:  “Were not ten healed?  Where are the nine?”

It seems our society is so attuned to the bad, the problems, the disagreements between groups.  We are so quick to complain.

During this cold and snowy winter I often heard (and I was often guilty too) people complaining about how cold it was, how sick they were of snow.

Seldom, if ever, did I hear people saying how grateful they were for their warm house, their warm coats.  Little thanks were given for the road crews who were out in the bitter cold spreading salt and clearing the roads.

Now comes summer and soon we will be complaining of the heat and humility instead of expressing gratefulness for air conditioning.

Why are we so slow to be thankful, to see all the blessings we have been given?

When my first husband died, I cannot count the times someone asked me how God could allow this.  They would say something like:

“But you are a good Christian.  How could God let this happen?”

But when God blessed with me with a good second husband no one asked me how God could allow this.  No one said:

“Why did God bless you so much.”

We take His blessings for granted but are quick to complain when we feel we are not getting the blessings we deserve.

Lord, help me to be like the one who came back and said “thank you.”  Help me not to be like the nine who accepted your blessings as if somehow it was their right and went on their way never to thank  you.