It is Sunday morning here in America! It’s a big day today! Why? Just because it’s Sunday! It’s a morning for pancakes, waffles, and bacon (mmmm bacon)! It’s a day for family and rest! I love Sunday!
All across America Pastors are getting ready to preach their sermons and millions of Americans are getting their families together for church. I am praying for you Pastors! Don’t forget to pray for your Pastors, they need it too!
It’s also the early start of fall right now, which means the start of football season! No, not the world cup “bend it like Beckham” kind of football (although I like that too). I’m talking head cracking, bone crushing American football! Sunday used to be a time when we would all come together. Together for church and together for football. Republican, Democrat, rich, poor, white, black, cop, civilian, it didn’t matter! Fire up that grill and let’s watch some football! I know, I know, a lot of people in America are mad at the football players right now. Not many people watched the games last year. It got crazy on all sides. Folks, please listen, we must move forward together as a country in peace. We have all had our say and everyone knows where everybody stands on every single issue we could have ever talked about in politics, and we will continue our individual and collective struggles until Kingdom come. Politics in this country swings on a fickle pendulum. It goes left, it goes right, and sometimes it kind of swings in the middle. Politics in America is like the weather. If you don’t like it at the moment, don’t worry, it will soon change.
So, please, for the sake of everything good and right in this land, let us respect each other’s differences and viewpoints and move forward together. From my Christian perspective, what is the alternative? Hate? That is an awful choice, and we all know it. When all is said and done, men are still going to play football despite the risk of CTE brain injury, people are still going to watch football despite kneeling players, and players are still going to kneel even though the owners forbid it.
I don’t respect somebody disrespecting my country’s flag or any other country’s flag for that matter (there are better ways to prove your point), but I do respect their right to do it. That is America folks! We can disagree, and we can blog about it, write about it, preach about it, protest about it, and say whatever we want to say and I love that! There will be people you don’t agree with. I say this with all love, we have to learn to get over it. I call it strong fellowship like when you have an argument with a loved one. It hurts, but as long as we learn from each other and respect each other, then real change can come through mutually beneficial understanding, and life will get better. There has been a lot of good that has come out of the last several years of real strong fellowship we have been having in this country. People are awake and listening to all types of issues they never knew about before on all sides. That is the beauty of freedom.
People have their right to free speech here, and I love that! I am a writer. I can’t imagine living in a country where I didn’t have the freedom to speak my mind! Take note of that Google, Facebook, and all the other big tech companies, and stop trying to censor people you don’t agree with! You will never take our right to speak freely without fear! The human heart is unstoppable with all its passion, desire, and wildness! Even if they killed the internet, people would start printing presses in their basements and the truth would still get out! Amen.
Why am I writing about Sunday, church, football, and free speech? Bit heavy for a Sunday morning, I know. Well, I have been up since 4 a.m. due to issues with Celiac Disease and I have been praying and thinking a lot since then. Our country is broken right now. It has been for quite some time. I love my country deeply. I was born in the Heartland near the Mississippi River where Huck Finn floated down for miles on his wooden raft, and the humidity is so thick you can spoon it right out of the sky. I am a country boy at heart! I grew up in Littleton, CO though near Santa Fe and Littleton Blvd. I had friends of every color and religion. I even had a friend who was from Native Aztec lineage, and I even knew some gang members. The schools were tough and I grew up learning to earn and show respect.
It hurts my heart to see my country so angry and hurting. It hurts to see the constant hate baiting comments recycled 24 hours a day non stop through our media networks. Most of it is not true, and only serves to fire up whichever side it is written for, but I digress. What is my point here?
My point is that we all desperately need forgiveness. We need to forgive each other, and that is not easy to do for most human beings no matter what race, color, creed, or religion you are. The number one thing that has helped me be forgiving more than any other thing in life is one simple verse from the Bible. The Book of Ephesians is a letter from Paul to the church at Ephesus, which was an ancient Greek city. Paul is writing the believers there to encourage them in their faith and give them wise advice on how to live a righteous life and be imitators of God. In chapter 4 verse 32 Paul writes, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
That verse stops me dead cold every time! “Just as in Christ God forgave you.” That is how much we are to forgive! It doesn’t say forgive if you feel like it, or if it is easy. He says to forgive like Jesus does!
Let me help put this into perspective by explaining how Jesus forgave us and what He had to do to make that happen. This is one of my favorite sections of scripture and it is fitting for this fine Sunday morning:
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Intense huh? What that means is that God came down to earth and made Himself a man, His Son Jesus. Yes, I know that is weird. How can somebody be two people at once? Well, the simple answer is because He is God and all things are possible with Him (Matthew 19:26). Also, it’s not just two in one, but three in one, the trinity. Don’t forget about the Holy Spirit. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work together and are all part of who God is. God literally came to earth to die for us, so we could be with Him forever in Heaven. That is how much He forgives and loves us!
Let’s dive a bit deeper into God’s forgiving character.
1 John 1:9
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember there sins no more.”
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”
“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
So, what do we learn about God’s character and how He forgives? If we ask for forgiveness, he will forgive us and purify us completely. He will remember our sins no more (1 Corinthians 13:5 reminds us He keeps no record of wrongs too). He lavishes us with grace as he forgives us and we are redeemed. Finally, He removes our sins from us completely and we are completely forgiven!
Next time somebody wrongs you or you wrong somebody else, remember how much we all need forgiveness. Let this Sunday morning be a morning of forgiveness. Tell shame to pipe down! Tell regret to go home! Today is today. It is not yesterday and it is not tomorrow. Take a deep breath. You know what that really is? A fresh start, a new beginning, and another chance! Don’t waste it being bitter. Our time goes way too fast down here for that.
Here’s to Sunday morning sermons and Sunday afternoon Football, and here’s to forgiveness for everyone! Cheers!
Bless you all!
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”