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The Greatest Love

1 Corinthians 13:13
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
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The journey of cancer has made me very reflective.  I am free, healing, solemn and a garden-variety-of-words that face me each day.
Prior to cancer I was a “talk radio” person, I rarely listened to music, preferring a jarring conversation about what is wrong with the world today, or what is right (God)!
In the “dark nights of the soul” I found some unbelievably heavy-hearted, beautiful soul cleansing music.  To this day I am still deeply moved by the lyrics.  My favorite is:
Micah 6:8
He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
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Pieces of Truth

When we were little kids, we often had to “fess up” for something we said or did that wasn’t right or nice.  Our parents usually instigated the apology or retribution.

Our Heavenly Father does this with His grown up kids too.  He pushes on our conscience until we know what has to be done.  We ultimately need to confess and/or apologize to another grown up for the wrong we committed.  Perhaps we were very judgemental, spewing our opinions on another, or we did or didn’t do something that really hurt that person.

Not very Christian.  And not very human.

I’ve heard countless stories about little kids who stole a candy bar and ended back at the store with tears in their eyes and a big apology to “never steal again.”

It’s not quite that effective when we are adults and have harmed someone with words or actions.  Because we are sinners, we will likely do again; and again.  Not to the same person hopefully, but we will hurt another person whom we love and after awhile it creates a cycle of shame.

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But God doesn’t intend to shame us, or use the shame to straighten us out.  He loves us.  No.  Matter.  What.  We.  Do.

But He wants us to learn.

How do we learn?  By apologizing first.  Praying forgiveness.  Learning not to continue the sin.  We often bang our heads against the wall for years.  Why can’t we stop hurting people?  Why do we have to be so self righteous?  Why can’t we see the sin?  Why can’t we learn from it?

Because we are attempting to heal a hurt with a human solution.

We need God’s solution.  It’s called TRUTH. 

Webster defines truth as:

a (1) : the body of real things, events, and facts : actuality
(2) : the state of being the case : fact
(3) often capitalized : a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality
b : a judgment, proposition, or idea that is true or accepted as true

We know what is true in our own lives.  We know even truer when God is the center.

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Comparing Sin

I believe, as human beings, it’s easier for us to compare sin than deal with our own.  You may think the sin of another is far worse than yours; after all, you didn’t have to do jail time or go through an ugly divorce.  All you did was A, B or C.

In my own life, I’ll be the first to admit I’ve made some whopper mistakes (i.e. “sin.”), it’s easier to call them mistakes, isn’t it?  Or to downplay the seriousness of the sin.  “I only ate an entire bag of licorice,” or “I’ve told quite a few small white lies, but they don’t really hurt anyone.”

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Sin is sin is sin.  God sees them all the same size, way and type.  God judges us equally.

Psalm 51:4
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.
Romans 7:18
For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
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In your daily life, attempt to avoid sin, ask for forgiveness as it rears its ugly head (and it will, no one is devoid of sin), be mindful of the sin in your life, purge it, pray for yourself, ask for prayer, relearn the bad habits, get right with God.
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2014 Pieces

I found my first “Pieces Journal,” dated January 22, 2014.  It seems so long ago, but it also shows me the walk I’ve taken along Jesus; is just a moment a time, and my faith has continued to grow; year after year.  I’d like to share with you some of the earlier “scraps of paper, devotions and musings” from my journal.  May you find your own special “pieces.”

It’s in the act of faith that courage becomes reality and the Lord’s grace rushes in to supply divine power.

Dear God, I want to be gracious and lovely in Your sight.  Open to receiving.  Take me away from the things that waste my time and rob me of meditative time with You.

I am encouraged by the mighty works of God.  “Prayer” has become a powerful word in my vocabulary, and one that gives meaning to my life.  I pray for HOPE, what a beautiful gift; and, it is free!!!  He walks with me in the garden of my life.  We talk, I learn, I am blessed to know Him as my Father, and Friend.

Keep your defense strong, trust in God.  Pray when anxiety seeps in.

Take it to God.  When you are low or upset, even when it feels contrary to do so; tell Him, share your heart.

I see so many parallels in my past and current life; except now I am grateful for all of it – the hard, hurtful times along with the peaceful.  I believe it’s more than ‘equal parts,’ rather how Jesus wants to live in me; “Grateful for all of the pieces.”  In this way, everything is a subject for witnessing.

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Impossible situations are opportunities for the Lord to teach us valuable lessons that we’d never learn any other way.

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Forgiveness

Much is written and talked about regarding “forgiveness.”  It’s a difficult concept for the human being to comprehend, all situations that need forgiveness are difficult.  It’s AS hard to forgive, as it is to be forgiven.

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My Christian walk had been littered with plenty of unforgiveness, until through bible study and my own personal devotion, did I realize what I was saying to God.  “I’m expecting/asking/hoping you will forgive me for everything I do wrong on a daily basis, because Your Son gave His life for mine, but I’m unwilling to forgive “A, B and C” because they don’t deserve my forgiveness.  What they’ve done is WAY worse than you can imagine.”  OH THE GALL (of me)!

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Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.
Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
holidays

Eastertide

To be honest, I had never heard of “Eastertide” until today, and as a new-to-the-Episcopalian-faith, I wanted to make sure I was understanding it correctly.  It seems to be a beautiful time of celebration. It is based in Christianity & Judaism and although I attend a “certain” church, I do not believe that Christ put his “stamp of approval” on a particular religion.

Eastertide:  Another term for Easter season, the Great Fifty Days. As used in English-speaking churches, “tide” is an old word meaning a festival and its season. For the church, this is, in fact, still Easter. Easter is not meant to be just one sunny Sunday, marked by a hearty meal and pastel hues, but it is, rather, a full season of feasting. Each one of the “Great 50 Days of Easter” ought to be marked and celebrated as Easter. We are called during this season to find some way, every day, to celebrate and feast. We celebrate this great and joyful fact for a full 50 days, because learning what it means to live in the light of the resurrection takes practice.  It takes us 40 days of Lent to really learn that we cannot save ourselves or our world, and it takes 50 days of Easter for us to be gripped and transformed by the fact that God can.

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Icicles

Out my window I see a very large icicle, dripping.  It will likely be gone in a couple of hours, for today – the temp is heading to 40.  But it is winter here in the heartland and tonight it will get cold enough to freeze drips, turning them back into icicles.

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Icicles remind me of faith.  Two steps forward (complete melting) and one step back (hello, icicles)!  We often find ourselves on a roll of faith, everything is fine, we are filled with faith, believing strongly in God and all He brings to our life ….. and then BAM, “something” happens and now we are standing on shaky ground.  Our faith?  Sure, yah, I’ve got faith.  Faith that nothing will ever change.

We are troubled human beings.  People have lacked faith since the days of Moses.

Mark 16:14
Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

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We are always just a moment away from circumstances changing, so we must always stand firm on our faith.  We are not icicles, we will not melt and come back again the next day, we are human beings made in the image of Jesus, a strong, solid foundation.  May your faith be strengthened today and every day.