It’s easy for someone to tell you to forgive Easy for them to say But they weren’t the one who was wronged Advice is cheap today
It’s easy for someone to tell you to forgive Blood’s not on their hands The ones who performed murderous acts There: Forgiveness demands
In today’s sermon at Madison Valley Presbyterian Church here in Ennis, Montana, our pastor, Steve Hundley, preached on the scripture found in Matthew 21:33-46. He acknowledged that it is a hard lesson to make sense of. The vineyard owner sent workers to harvest the grapes, and the tenants of the vineyard killed the workers.
The owner sent more workers and the tenants killed them, too.
So the vineyard owner sent his son. Surely the tenants would respect the owner’s son! But, no… they killed him, too!
What are we to make of this story?
In the midst of such horrendous acts, the bottom line is love. Love the murderers? Love the tenants who killed the people who came to harvest? Love the tenants who killed the owner’s son?
Realize that this parable is about God, the owner of all we have. It’s about the fact that we live in a world under the shadow of the “American Dream; Ownership.”
Maybe the message is “Nobody likes an absent landlord!” The tenants are the ones who worked hard to maintain that vineyard. Then, at harvest time, the owner expects to send others to reap the benefit of their hard work? No, the tenants hated the idea of others coming to reap the harvest!
When the son was sent… the parable is asking us to see that this was the Son, Jesus. He, too was killed. Killed by those who feared this Messiah was going to take what they thought they owned… the kingship, the ownership of the land and its people.
God did not create us to take ownership of God’s resources. We are the stewards, the caretakers. God’s vineyard is not for sale. We were not even given a lease with an option to buy!
The parable doesn’t tell us what the owner did to the tenants. It doesn’t say He finally left his mansion and went down and got even with the tenants somehow… what might the retribution look like?
It doesn’t tell us He forgave them for their murderous acts. We are left to finish the story ourselves. How would you finish it?
What is your idea of ownership? What is your understanding of our Owner’s Love? Pastor Steve reminded us that Our Owner longs for a connection with us. “God desires a relationship with us… He asks that we take care of this earth – His gifts to us – and one another… and that we give a portion back.” He asks that we love one another. He asks us to forgive one another – and to love our enemies. Wow! That’s a tall order!!
Pastor Steve concluded his sermon today by reminding us: “Our gifts are not our own. They are God’s, and we are given them to use for God’s Kingdom. We are the caretakers. God’s love always trumps God’s justice.“
I love you, dear WordPress friends. Thank you for visiting today. I hope you’ve had a Love-filled Sunday. Hugs, JanBeek
This rampant racism and blatant injustice must stop!
Pray for “Giant George” (nicknamed “Big Floyd”) and his family.
Reread MLK’s “I Have a Dream.”
It’s well overdue.
I Have a Dream
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28th, 1963. Fifty-seven years later, it is time to revisit this unfulfilled dream. LET’S MAKE THIS DREAM COME TRUE!! Be a catalyst for long overdue change and racial equality. Let’s reach out, dissolve all divides, and just love one another!!!!
Time to revisit Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s dream, hear his peaceful pursuit of racial equality, and time to MAKE THIS DREAM A REALITY!
(The bold print in this speech are my emphasis. I feel those statements are so appropriate to the injustice and the reactions seen today – May 29, 2020… a sad time in America’s history amidst this George Floyd travesty and the COVID-19 that sees not color or class, but preys on areas of density and poverty).
“Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But 100 years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land.
And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men – yes, black men as well as white men – would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.
Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. 1963 is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual…
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.
Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom…
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, when will you be satisfied? We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality…
We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.
No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. …
So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day down in Alabama … little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning: My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that, let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when we see this happen, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last.”
Here is American civil rights leader Martin Luther King (1929 – 1968) as he addressed crowds during the March On Washington at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC, in 1963 where he gave his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech.
Do not let Martin Luther King Jr’s dream die. Do not let George Floyd’s death be in vain. Let your righteous anger spur you to action. Pray that God will show us what He wants us to do next in the memory and honor of MLK,Jr. and “Big Floyd.” Make their lives count. Make the dream a reality!
was the first “U” word that popped into my mind when searching for
the quality we ALL need to add more meaning and find greater purpose in life.
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com
Understanding and Wisdom go Hand in Hand
What are the common roots of the two words?
I turned to scripture to find the answer to that question. This is a copy of my Bible page. As you can see, it is well marked! Look at how many times Proverbs 2 uses “wisdom” and “understanding.”
Understanding + Wisdom = Compassion
The Book of Proverbs teaches us, if we understand what is right and good, we will see what is just and fair. As a result, it will naturally follow that when we see injustice, when we witness someone being treated unfairly, we will have a heart of compassion, determined to respond.
Compassion is an Umbrella
OnahDave on HumePoets.com posted a poem today titled Drenched:
“Wrecked and broken by pain,
she drenched in the unlimited
down pour of her sorrow.”
When I read his poem, my immediate response was, “Give her your umbrella!”
When we understand another person’s pain, our compassion compels us to reach out with an umbrella of protection.
Photo by Kaique Rocha on Pexels.com
Umbrellas Take Many Forms
Sometimes the umbrella is a song! Today I visited my friend, Carol, who (at the advanced age of 95) is struggling to hang on to life. Her son and two daughters were in the hospital room with her.
Carol was having a better day today than when I saw her yesterday. Her children could tell because she was being a bit cantankerous!
Hah! She reminded me of my mom during her last days. Her mind rallied to the point that she knew what she wanted and what she didn’t. Her ability to say, “No!” rallied – – – and she exerted her independence while bed-bound and hooked up to oxygen. Like my mom, Carol is a strong and courageous woman.
Her daughters and I sang some cheery songs to her and enjoyed her smiles and nods – and her ability to squeeze my hand in appreciation. Her son snapped a few pictures. These are moments to remember!
was our first song. You know, you can’t help but smile when you sing that song! It sent an umbrella of joy over the entire room!
Then we sang Frank Sinatra’s “Dream Your Troubles Away.” Do you know that one? You can change “Dreams” to “Prayers” … and sing “Pray Your Troubles Away.” That thought fits the hand-in-hand analogy of understanding and wisdom as described in the second chapter of Proverbs. Here are the song’s revised words:
When skies are cloudy and gray,
They’re only gray for a day,
So wrap your troubles in prayer
And pray your troubles away.
Until that sunshine peeps through,
There’s only one thing to do:
Just wrap your troubles in prayer
And pray your troubles away.
Your castles may tumble
That’s fate after all,
Life’s really funny that way.
No need to grumble,
Smile as they fall,
Weren’t you queen for a day?
Just remember that sunshine
Always follows the rain.
So wrap your troubles in prayer
And pray your troubles away!
Sometimes, We Gotta Let the Rain Fall
Max Lucado has written a book titled, Unshakable Hope.
In a message promoting his book, he wrote,
“I’ve discovered that nothing lifts the weary soul like the promises of God. This book contains some of my favorite [promises]. Picture God’s words falling like rain from heaven on you. Imagine these promises as gentle spring showers. Receive them. Allow them to land on you, to soak you. I’m trusting that God’s words will prosper in your life.”
Understand God is in the Storms of Life
Rick Hamlin in today’s Guideposts prayed,
“God, don’t let my cynical heart
prevent me from seeing
You in unexpected places.”
Sometimes our vision is blurred by the storms that smack us in the face. The unexpected difficulties can put us in dark places where vision is limited. We wonder, “God, where are You?”
Even Jesus had such moments. “My God, my God, why hast Thou Forsaken me?” From the cross, He cried to His Father. It’s understandable that we sometimes have similar thoughts.
Sometimes we need to set aside the umbrella, lift our eyes to the sky, and dance in the rain – in spite of the trauma.
Wrap your troubles in prayer – and pray your troubles away – or not! Sometimes the clouds are meant to stay – more than a day – But sunshine follows the rain.
Even if that sunshine is our promise of Life Eternal.
Today we are on the letter D. I could have used the word DEVOTION, because it is so important that we express our praise and devotion to our Maker and offer thanks to Him every day. But, instead, I decided to use the word DECODE – – – with an emphasis on devotion.
Decode the World Around Us
D ecide E veryday to C ompassionately love O thers and D eal with E verything fairly
and fight for
In their book, Spiritual Literacy,
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
wrote the following,
“Express your feelings of …
adoration through devotional practices.
Pray with words and pray through your actions.”
Decode through Prayer and Bible Study
In a world filled with hate, cruelty, and divisiveness, we can find ways through prayer and Bible study to decode the world around us and live more lovingly, more purposefully, and more intentionally as Brothers and Sisters. Our adoration must be directed heavenward and to one another… not on things that are temporary. Pray fervently for our leaders, for world peace, and for the understanding of friends and family, allies and foes.
Pray for the wisdom to see and understand and act on God’s purposes for you today.
Yesterday was the 25th of April. Each day I read a chapter in Proverbs to correspond with the day of the month (Proverbs has 31 chapters). Chapter 25’s subheading in my Eugene H. Peterson’s translation, The Message, is “The Right Word at the Right Time.”
Find wisdom in the Book of Wisdom, Proverbs, which contains the wise sayings of Solomon:
Proverbs 25: 8 “Don’t jump to conclusions – There may be a perfectly good explanation for what you saw.”
So, we reserve judgement – and as we seek to decode what we see and hear, we look for ways to be affirmative or compassionately corrective.
Verses 11 and 12 say, “The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry, And a wise friend’s timely reprimand is like a gold ring slipped on your finger.”
Be a reliable friend.
See and fulfill your purpose through the gift of reliability!
Be a cool drink in the sweltering heat of friends’ lives!
Decode the World though Giving
Give generosity instead of animosity. You get what you give!
Give goodness instead of rudeness. You get what you give!
But, don’t give to get! Let your motives be pure love. Give without expecting anything in return.
Just Do it!
Step out in Faith!!
Your world will clear up,
detangle, be kinder,
and you will live in greater inner peace –
if you decode with devotion,
prayer, Bible study,
and selfless giving.
Day #10 in the A – Z series, “What Makes Me Happy?”
Why would justification make me happy? What does it mean? Print that is justified is even on the right and the left margins. There are no ragged edges. Most books are written with the print justified. Newspaper columns are justified. The Bible’s print is justified in its columns, except for books like Proverbs, whose genre is poetry. Justified print is a neat and trim way to look at a page, isn’t it? But that’s not why it makes me happy. Stay with me!
To make my point you need to realize on the other hand,
that if you set the print to the left, the edges on the right are ragged.
A crooked right margin is typical when you are letter writing.
Where else do you see print that is left-margin justified?
If you set the print to the right,
then the left margin will be crooked,
but the right margin will be straight.
A rare form, indeed, except
in some creative poetry.
Poetry often is written with centered print This is a Haiku
How does all this talk about justification of print apply to my life? I want to know my life is justified. No ragged edges. Clean on both sides, inside and outside. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Justification gives me peace. Peace makes us all happy!
It’s not the event of the death of Jesus that makes me happy, of course. But His death was an important part of the equation. It is the Grace of God given to me in the form of the Holy Spirit as a result of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection… that’s what makes me happy. Through it, I am free! God’s gift to humankind was to free us from guilt and the penalty of sin through the sacrifice of His Son. Through Him, we are justified. I am not sure (are you?) how people face the death of a loved one – or their own mortality – if they do not have faith in the promise of eternal life. We need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Heaven is our eternal home, made ours through Christ and His sacrifice. My joy is made complete in my love of the Lord. Jesus is my ultimate happiness.
It is no coincidence that Justice and Justification have the same root. In our current culture of right vs. left, JUSTICE demands vindication of the right… the correct! Not left vs. right, but right vs. wrong! The scales above are pitifully dirty. We need the scales of our justice system to be clean inside and outside, to be fair, to be even, no ragged edges. Straight on both sides… no partiality. We need to be assuring the public that indeed, this is the case. Straight, honest on all sides. No leaning left, to make the right crooked. No leaning right, to make the left ragged. Don’t even stay center, trying to please both sides, because then both sides are compromised. Justice needs justification… freedom from prejudice or inequality or irresponsibility. A focus on what is fair and correct. Only then will the TRUTH be served so peace can reign. Only then is there True Justice.