Monday, May 7, 2012

On the Power of Forgiveness

Reflections arising from the recent Threshold Ministries Conference, held at the Salvation Army Conference Center, Jackson's Point, Ontario - May 1-4, 2012

Jesus be the center
Be my source be my light, Jesus
Jesus be the center, Be my hope be my song, Jesus

Be the fire in my heart
Be the wind in my sails
Be the reason that I live, Jesus... Jesus
Jesus be my vision
Be my help, Be my guide Jesus

On learning forgiveness: In grade five my teacher had asked the class to memorize any poem, no conditions. A few days later I stood to recite Psalm 23 but before I reached the end of the first verse, she scolded me with, "That's not poetry. That's Scripture." She told me to shut up and sit down. As a result I hardly ever opened my mouth in class, except for Math, a couple of short plays or to answer a direct question, for the next eleven years. I didn't fully make this connection until last week. That incident was largely the reason for my extended silence. Now I finally forgive that teacher. Release is precious. There must be a few out there who know what I'm talking about. I have to learn as well what it means to forgive myself.

Now this happened way back around 1965. Our enemy has very long fingers and they are very sticky. Today's children are more likely to be told that Scripture is merely poetry. What a twisted torturous world we live in. I don't know why it took so long to really address this problem or why none of my teachers noticed or did anything to help. I do remember a few comments about my lack of class participation but my marks were good enough that they let me by. Even going through Bible school later, and this was after university, nobody seemed interested letting me share my story. You can't do such a thing in a seven minute testimony time!

I'm thankful to Peter Fitch, a pastor and Professor from St. Stephen University in New Brunswick, for the teaching He gave which opened my eyes. Several times through the conference I found myself trying to promise myself that I would never attend another such conference. Why put yourself through the torture of attending events, good as they are, when the only provision for sharing is the exhausting one-on-one repetition?

We think we know how to pray for the sick and we enjoy the sense of being used of God to heal but we don't seem to get the part about letting the one who is healed sing praise. We delay his recovery when we are always telling him, 'No thanks!' No wonder his song is halting and off key when we don't give him the time of day. A handful of opportunities does not make up for decades of oppression and indifference. Paul calls us to sing psalms, hymns and spritual songs to one another not just in the great congregation but as a part of daily life. But if we try to practice that particlar biblical teaching we are seen to be weird. I know! 

Jesus thou joy of loving hearts!
Thou fount of life Thou light of men!
From the best bliss that earth imparts
We turn unfilled to thee again.

As I'm editing this piece which is an expansion of a post I made another site yesterday, I'm listening to John Piper preaching from John 14 verses 13 and 14 on the call of the believer to do the works of Jesus and even greater works!

see this link 

Wow! Are we ready to receive this teaching or is it just too amazing for our modern or post-modern minds. What did He mean? can we do anything greater than those things Jesus did? I'm reminded of Paul's word in Plilippians 2, verses 12 to 16: So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;  for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.  Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, ...In the name of Jesus. Praise God!

Let us then shine for Him as we live out our lives as ordinary people in ordinary communities. But let us allow Him to do extraordinary things through us. Forgiveness is a powerful spiritual weapon. When we practice the use of forgiveness, we open the door for greater things.
This past week as I led worship in our community I finally allowed myself to sing a version of that well worn 23rd Psalm. Too bad it took me so long to get there, but our God is able and great in mercy and He truly does take every situation and eventually work it out for the good of all those who love Him.

Weak is the effort of my heart
And cold my warmest thought
But when I see thee as though art
I'll praise Thee as I ought.

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