Tag Archives: sin

Reconciliation, not Rejection

Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.
Acts 3:19, NLT*

Peter’s not being judgmental here, not waving a big stick or speaking condemnation. If we could hear his tone, we’d hear urgency. Longing.

In the Temple, he’s speaking to a crowd about Jesus. He has just put it to them plainly: Jesus is the Messiah from God, whom they and their leaders have rejected and killed.

He’s also declared that they didn’t know the full story, and their choices were part of God working out His plan (Acts 3:17-18).

Now that he has laid out the truth, he’s calling for a response. He’s inviting them into forgiveness. Into the Kingdom, where they belong.

This is Peter, who denied his Lord three times. He can’t even claim ignorance for that. Only fear. But Peter knows from personal experience about the forgiveness and grace of God, about the love that longs to restore and reinstate and repurpose.

We know that love, too, so as we encounter people who don’t know Jesus, if the Spirit leads us to address some form of sin that’s holding them back, let’s remember that the goal is reconciliation, not rejection.

Addressing sin isn’t about “look what you did.” It’s about “this is serious, but don’t let it keep you from God’s love.” And instead of pointing fingers, we can speak from a place of experience: “God does forgive, because He’s forgiven me.”

Oh Holy God, You alone are Judge, and You are also Saviour. Give us compassion for those still trapped in sin, and speak through us to offer reconciliation. We know this is a hard topic, and many will take offense at the truth, but help us to speak it in love and to entrust the results to You.

Here’s Michael Card’s haunting question: “What Will it Take to Keep You From Jesus?” Let’s remember the heart behind the call.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Reason for the Season

Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 7:24b-25a, NLT*

This is why we celebrate Christmas, and Easter, and every other day of the year. We had an impossible need, and God, in His love, mercy and grace, sent His own Son to meet it.

To walk among humans and reveal what the Father’s heart and will looked like. To lay down His life to ransom and redeem us and to break sin’s hold on us.

For this, we have Jesus, and a lifetime of thanks is not enough. Let’s walk with Him each day, hearts surrendered to His, in worship, obedience and adoration.

God our Maker, Redeemer and Sustainer, without You we’d be lost and hopeless, marking time and deceiving ourselves. Thank You for setting us free – at such extreme cost. Help us receive Your gift of salvation and live it fully, so that others will see the difference You make.

Casting Crowns‘ version of “Glorious Day” sums it up so well:

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Come Clean. Quick.

When you are guilty, immediately confess the sin that you’ve committed.
Leviticus 5:5, MSG*

We’re human. For all the good things that means, it also means we’re not perfect. Despite our best intentions, sometimes we mess up. We don’t live up to the righteous living God intends for us.

The early chapters of Leviticus are all about sacrifices to atone for the people’s sin, and God spends a lot of time—and detail—explaining to the people what not to do. Some of it should be pretty obvious, but there you have it.

What interests me about chapters 4 and 5 is that they deal with what happens when someone unintentionally sins. They’ve done something wrong with no malice aforethought.

We do that too. And sometimes we do the premeditated wrongs.

In either case, the remedy is clear: immediately confess it to God. He knows anyway. It’s already put a rift between us. If it’s an ongoing situation, ask for His wisdom in how to get back on target. And remember that He’s faithful to His promises. He will forgive us, clean us up, and restore us.

Immediately. Things won’t get better—won’t go away—if we stall. We’ll just make ourselves increasingly miserable as we widen the gulf between our spirits and the God who wants to hold us close.

God who saves us, Your forgiveness and grace are more than we can comprehend, and they’re beyond our capacity to earn. Thank You for extending mercy again and again. Please grow us to maturity in our faith, into righteousness and holiness, so we can please You. Please forgive us when we fail, and help us cry out to You quickly for restoration.

I love this confession song from Todd Agnew, how it reminds us that despite it all, God loves us: “The One You Want.”

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

On Dandelions and Sin

DandelionI guess I’d better start with a public declaration that I think dandelions are beautiful: fuzzy yellow suns, milky seed-puff moons… I’ll stop there, because I can’t think of anything nice to say about the bald caps and spiky fronds after the seeds have blown.

Those so inclined can eat dandelion greens, and apparently the roots when roasted and ground make a passable substitute for coffee.

In a field, dandelions are so pretty.

Too bad they don’t work so well in residential lawns. When mine grow, I always feel guilty about infecting my neighbours’ properties, like I’m harbouring an invasion force.

We have one of those long, green tools that lets you stand mostly upright and uproot the pesky plants one root at a time. I’ve tried it a few previous springs and given up, but this year I’ve bagged a few buckets-full of dandelions nearly every day.

A field of dandelions

My back yard, two years ago

I have no particular hope of eradicating all the dandelions that have encroached on our lawn over the past 20+ years, but there’s something about this daily activity that soothes me. And it’s an excuse for fresh air.

It’s also an excuse for a blog post.

I don’t think much while I’m on the daily hunt. Sometimes I count the harvest, sometimes I pray, sometimes I talk to the stubborn ones. Listeners would most likely hear me mutter “I can’t get you all, but I can get you.

My mantra has become “None to seed.” When I’m out of time and there are still plants un-dug, I pick off the dandelion heads.

After a couple weeks of the daily battle, I got thinking how dandelions are a bit like sin. Not necessarily the “evil action” kind of sin where we know we’re doing something wrong and choose to do it anyway, but the “missed God’s best for us” kind where we’ve gotten trapped in patterns of negative thinking, reactions or other behaviour that have really messed us up.

Some observations:

  • younger plants are easier to uproot than those that have grown for years
  • they produce fewer blossoms too
  • one blossom is enough to produce 40 to 100+ seeds (Source: howitworksdaily.com)
  • mature plants spread broad leaves and kill the grass near them
  • the roots go down a long way and are more likely to break than to come out cleanly
  • some plants require multiple grabs with the extractor
  • they’re sneaky: they’ll twist their stalks so the blossoms look like they come from somewhere other than the actual root
  • they’ll lie down until the mower is put away, then stand up defiant and straight
  • the plants will slip off my tool en route to the bucket
  • the blossoms will break off and fall out of the bucket, often face-down, to hide until they can turn into seeds
  • yellow blossoms will go to seed once they’ve opened, so don’t compost them
  • pulling them out leaves holes in the ground, and if there’s a big patch it’s unsightly
  • bald patches must be re-seeded with grass or more dandelions or other weeds will return (remember Jesus’ warning about the evil spirit and the clean house in Luke 11:24-26)
  • the worse the infestation (usually the longer it’s been growing) the longer it takes to fix
  • looking at the scope of the problem leads to discouragement and defeat
  • a little work each day will bring results
  • picking the heads off (=cheating or at least a short-cut) is better than letting them bloom and spread their seeds
  • they’re heavy – putting too many in my organics bin for pickup will make it too heavy for the workers

Dandelion season has passed its peak, and I think I’ll make it with none to seed. Yes, I may celebrate by baking my family a cake.

Janet Sketchley holding uprooted dandelion

Got this one, root and all!