In the past two months, I have attended two funerals at the same church, with the same nice funeral home folks from down the street and the same congregation and community. But the funerals were vastly different.
Same church, same desire to love God and serve Him with their whole life, but the two men who passed away had one major difference. One led with truth and the other led with grace. The Bible has a lot to say about truth and grace. The truth will set you free. Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds. In John’s gospel account, he says we were able to catch a glimpse of the glory of God in Jesus – full of grace and truth.
After spending time devouring God’s Word, it seems that we need both truth and grace in our lives. From reading at the beginning of all things, in the book of Revelation, to the beginning of our little part of it on Planet Earth, in the book of Genesis; the truth is that we screwed up. We disobeyed God and brought much suffering upon ourselves and a curse upon humanity. But Jesus led with grace. He already had a plan in place to save us.
Two funerals. Two different men. The man who led with truth, had a few people say some nice things about what he had done to serve others. Those attending the funeral were scattered around the largely empty church. The man who led with grace? His funeral was packed with standing room only, even in the balcony. So many people shared stories amongst themselves about the impact this man had made in their life. Relationships were healed that day as folks saw a living demonstration of grace and healing.
Two men, two funerals, two outcomes. Lesson learned: we make a better impact for God when we lead with grace.
I was at a wedding shower recently. I love these more modern events where both the bride and groom are present. There weren’t any games planned, but we did go around the room a couple of times sharing advice for the young couple.
There were several other young, newly married couples there and they had some really good advice. I was glad to see such wisdom coming from these young ones. They were really going to work on their marriages and make them something to enjoy and be blessed in.
One of my final words of advice was to the bride. Every once in a while, just lift up your shirt and flash him.
The room exploded in laughter, surprise and one woman shaking her head no. She later explained it almost got her in trouble when she was prepared to flash her husband when the truck came up the driveway, but it was one of his workers instead. Yes, caution is advised, but don’t forget to flash your spouse. Keep that spark alive and let your lover know his needs.
There are a multitude of movies that explore, in one flavor or another, the fantasy of a world where there is no anger, lust, frustration, hatred or jealousy. It’s the usual, and futile, quest for Utopia, often an old B Movie, but modern ones exist as well.
The fact of the matter is that these things are very real human emotions. A future world where there is no undesirable emotion displayed can only mean one thing: look out because one of these days it’s going to blow! Things kept bottled up inside result in high pressure and highly volatile environments. In no way am I advocating wrong methods of displaying some of these emotions, especially anger. But there are other ways to take out your frustrations instead of harming yourself, others or property.
Today, I want to put my squatty fingers on the throat of Crohn’s Disease and strangle it until it breathes no more. But since that would be a not appropriate display of my frustration with this autoimmune disorder, I shall have to find a better way to vent my hurt and frustration. I’ve heard that tires and sledge hammers are a great way of getting out anger.
Wait a minute. Crohn’s has left me with little strength or energy today. I guess I’m back to strangling. While I’m at it, I’ll try to get rid of all the other autoimmune disorders as well. Couldn’t hurt.
I’m really enjoying the Creation Health classes I go to every Thursday. Our topic today was rest, emphasizing mental and spiritual rest as well as the expected physical rest. Did you know that losing 3 hours of sleep a night can cut your immune system in half? Adequate rest is so vital to our health.
When it came to spiritual rest, the Creation Health plan describes it this way: spiritual rest is being at peace with God. We were asked to say what that meant to us. My mom, also in the class with me said it best.
If you’re not at peace with God, then you are at war.
Where are you at in your spiritual rest? Are you at peace with God? Or are you at war?
Everyone was waiting to hear what the referee would say as fans were cheering in the stands and folks at home were glued to their TV sets. Do you remember that play? Almost anyone you ask today, except for the obvious, will agree that it was a bad call. Most folks know that the New Orleans Saints won the super bowl due to a variety of bad calls, including the famous “Pass Interference” call that had folks holding their breath.
For me personally, I wouldn’t want a championship ring that in my heart I knew I hadn’t truly earned. But that’s just me.
Next, we have the big scandal of a head coach that gave players bonuses for intentionally hurting opponents. Many knew. Many kept their mouths shut. Hence began my hatred for the New Orleans Saints.
But I’ve realized recently that life intersects. If you were to plot my life on a grid, like we used to do in Algebra class, I would have given myself all kinds of positive numbers. Hatred for a football team? Who cares? It’s just a game. That doesn’t have anything to do with my faith, right?
So I took a deeper look and realized everything gets plotted on my grid. My hatred for people who had done wrong was still hatred. My ardent support of anyone who would kick the Saints’ butts was nothing but seeking revenge and making sure they got what they deserved. Really?
It’s just a game. But the attitude of hatred and demanding retribution aren’t the attitudes of a Christian. Did the team do wrong? Yes. But I’m not their judge. They’ve been fined and had penalties put on them. Yes, they still got away with the superbowl championship, but what matters is my heart.
Faith is my X axis and life in general is my Y axis – and they do intersect! It is all connected. I’m still not a big fan of the Saints. But instead of harboring hatred and demanding retribution, I’m going to choose to forgive and give them a chance to earn my respect again.
Where were you when..?
For each generation this question has a different face, but it all represents the same thing: innocence lost. For my grandparents, they remembered where they were when they heard about Pear Harbor. My mom remembers where she was when it was announced that President Kennedy had been assassinated. For my generation, the question is about September 11th, 2001 and the four planes that changed our world.
My youngest son is in elementary school and their memories are so different. A fellow student one year older only has the memories of what her mom has related to her. She can’t remember her infancy. Matthew was still in the womb. He was born into a different world than the one he was conceived in. I can’t seem to put it into words how much has changed since that day. The kids have grown up thinking this is life. But we know it used to be different.
I suppose each generation has mourned what their kids will never know. You might think of it as a chipping away of our innocence. Generally, it is portrayed that each generation gets its own statue of innocence that gets a little knocked off over time and events. I don’t think that’s true. I think we all have the same statue of innocence and too much has been chipped off lately.
I would fear that my grandchildren would have nothing left. I would fear that this world will be its own demise and take me with it, except for one thing I know.
I’ve read the end of the book. God comes back, kills the dragon, gets the girl and we all get to go home. As my children and someday in the far off future, grandchildren, see innocence chipped away, I’ll remind them of the one thing that changes everything.