Tag Archive: Lord

Merry Christmas from Jesus

He walked through the streets in darkness,
Homeless but not alone,
A man on a mission of reverence
beyond the mundane chore of survival,
in a spirit of grace and mercy.

He stopped at Johnson’s Laundry
With it’s Closed for Christmas sign,
He knelt on the sidewalk outside the door,
Quietly saying the Lord’s Prayer,
the only prayer he knew.

Thanking “Papa” Johnson
For the clothes left unclaimed,
He left a small package – a crude, homemade cross
With a card on which was scrawled,
“Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

Next was Garcia’s Grocery
For the leftovers not yet spoiled
He knelt and prayed –
Another crude cross,
And the card, “Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

Ten blocks later, Miller’s Hardware,
For his sturdy, cardboard box dwelling,
and timber for his bed,
A kneel, a prayer, a larger crude cross,
And the card, “Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

Too far from home, the mission closed,
He found a bench in the park,
after a passerby bought coffee
and he walked – recalling forgotten memories –
without knowing what they meant.

Early the next morning on Christmas Day,
he fought the wind and rain,
through the cold streets to the mission,
where Christmas dinner was served, the soul sustained,
and life again had purpose.

The rain stopped, the wind died down,
as he trekked on home,
home – an alley behind the church
white and made of stone,
with a view of the cross on the wall.

He turned into the alley
and stopped in his tracks.
Where his cardboard box had stood,
was a sturdy lumber shack,
with a roof, a window, and a door.

He opened the door to a sturdy wooden cot,
An orange crate table, his few possessions inside,
with something new on top.
A suit of clothes hung on a hook,
with the laundry marker still on it.

He closed the door because he could,
he’d forgotten what it felt like.
Walking to the table he turned on the lamp,
it had been years since he had his own light,
but then his breath went away.

Also on the table sat a Bible, brand new,
inscribed with a name he hadn’t used in years,
next to a picture of a family he’d forgotten he had.
He stood staring at them, his mind racing,
memories bombarding his thoughts.

He sat on the cot and picked up the Bible,
after staring at the picture a while.
He ran his fingers over the only thing he owned
that wasn’t worn by wear or weather,
with emotions he couldn’t control.

Through tears, with shaking hands,
he opened the Bible and read
“Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

Peace be with you.

When I am troubled,

and in that contradictory, ironic place,

thinking that no one knows how I feel,

The Lord hears my prayers.


Yet the Lord very rarely

answers my prayers directly,

Sometimes I only see the answer

During reflection on the day’s events.


Regardless of the result,

The Lord hears my prayers,

He may not answer the way I would prefer,

But the Lord hears my prayers.


I may not be listening,

or I may be stubbornly wanting more,

I may not hear what he’s trying to tell me,

But the Lord hears my prayers.


The Lord hears my prayers,

However and whenever I pray,

Even if I refuse to hear the answer,

The Lord hears my prayers.


I lay head on pillow lightly,

Letting the Lord take my troubles,

I can rest easy in sleep knowing

That the Lord hears my prayers.

The Children’s Education Department of Christ UMC, Farmers Branch held the first summer children’s camp this summer, Rock Around the Clock. The camp was held for one week, Monday through Thursday. Monday they learned about the 50’s, Tuesday, the 60’s, Wednesday, the 70’s, and Thursday, the 80’s. Each day they had cooking, drama, P.E., art, science, and music classes, based on the day’s theme.

In art class one day, the children went into the sanctuary. They each picked a number out of a bowl and were assigned that station of the cross. The children were given five minutes to study their station window in the sanctuary. Then the children went outside the sanctuary and recreated their window on paper from memory.

As I was taking pictures of the Stations of the Cross art display, I recalled a project from elementary school in Wichita Falls. I was to draw the front of our family home from memory. I do not know how long it took, but I finished the drawing. It is highly possible that the drawings were displayed at an open house – as with the art gallery of summer camp projects.

When I took the drawing home and compared it to the front of our house, I was “right on the money” – down to the oil stain in the driveway. With the exception of drafting classes in junior high school, along with drawing imaginary funny cars and hot rods for fun with a friend, I  never drew anything really decent again. We moved to Dallas when I was in the eighth grade. In high school I began to write, leaving the artwork to those better suited for the task. I can doodle with the best of them, but anything resembling art that results is merely by accident.

Our house burned down on the Friday before I began my senior year. Of the many things I lost that night, the picture I had drawn was one of them. My parents recently went back to Wichita Falls and the house we lived in was gone. There was not even any sign that the house had ever been there. All the homes around it were still there and in fairly good condition, considering their age.

I had a sinking feeling when Dad told me the house was gone, as if a part of my life was gone. I am left without a visual reminder of our house other than my memory. It is not the first time and it certainly will not be the last. But it does remind me – and everyone when it happens to them – that material things mean nothing as long as we have our memory and faith in God.

It is our memory that makes our past experiences special and real. Even if I could take our sons to Wichita Falls and show them the house, they would not have a sense of what it meant to me. It would simply be the house where Dad used to live. But the memory of living in that house will remain special to me. And that is what is important. If my existence depended on the existence of places I have lived and have been to, a good part of my life would be wiped from the annals of history.

When the house burned, I lost everything I had except the clothes on my back and a small stereo that I had in the bathroom to listen to while taking a shower. As I stayed at a friend’s house  the night of the fire I had a strange sense of freedom. I was not tied down with possessions. Then I would begin to think of everything I had lost and the sense of freedom would turn to sorrow. It has been several decades now since that night. I have stuff again – too much stuff. Between the fire, a couple of robberies – and a rare repossession a really long time ago – I worry about my stuff. I cringe when I smell smoke of any kind except a grill. I’m slightly paranoid about checking the locks when I leave the house.

But with relatives, friends, associates, and acquaintances passing away with disturbingly increasing frequency, life – and material things – look a little differently now. Material possessions do not have the allure they did when I was younger. Books that I lugged around for years because I thought I would read them someday are now in someone’s home having been bought in a garage or library book sale. The objects I held onto because “they might come in handy some day,” never came in handy and have been recycled or given away.

With each passing day, I make the most of that day and I am thankful that I have my memories. Losing everything from my past in the fire did not mean I lost my past. I remember it, have pictures of some of it, friends and family remember parts of my past. But the emphasis lies on the fact that I remember it. Possessions, houses where I lived, clubs where I played, places I visited – they may be gone – but that does not matter. I have my memories and I can describe them to people. Maybe they can get something out of them. But I remember them, have faith in God, and have an appreciation for the life he gave me. Either things will take care of themselves or God will guide me through them. Anything else is just gravy.

Brother Antonio opened the chapel – a 52-foot semitrailer in the parking lot of the Traveler’s Treasure Truck Stop – at 6 a.m., as he did on most mornings. He liked to have himself and the chapel available for the truckers who were getting an early start and wanted to pray before heading out. As he walked up the stairs and unlocked the door in the wooden wall that replaced the metal doors of the trailer, Antonio recalled the pain of opening the original doors which would swing around and bang against the side of the trailer, knocking a few pictures off of the wall.

Leaving the door open, he flipped on the two window air conditioning units installed on the left wall. The units were a welcome benefit of the redesigned entrance. Taylor Perkins, a long hauler for a lumber company, donated a batch of leftover lumber to the chapel that the company did not want to pay him to haul back. Fred Mullins, the truck stop owner, paid his handyman, Jeff Purvis, to build the steps, the rear wall with the door, and add supports under the trailer.

Purvis, a deacon at the Community Christian Church, painted “The Church of the Necessarily Significant” on both sides of the trailer as a favor to Brother Antonio. He also was a handyman for the Restful Traveler Hotel across the road from the truck stop. The hotel had upgraded from window unit air conditioners in the past year and the owners were happy to donate two of the units to the chapel. Jeff Purvis attended Brother Antonio’s Thursday night Bible study.

The Mothers of Miracles group at the Community Christian Church sewed blue tarps together to cover the underside of the trailer. The women added crosses alternating with the words Jesus, Forgiveness, Redemption, Faith, and Love. Mavis Monahan, secretary of the group, was the evening shift manager/waitress at the diner in the truck stop.  The Mothers of Miracles met at the chapel on Tuesday evenings to crochet prayer shawls for the sick, the infirm, and babies when they were baptised.

Antonio walked out and closed the door behind him. He straightened the sign hung on a nail in the center of the top of the door. “I’m in the restaurant, 406-224-5893 (ask for Brother Antonio) or stop in.” When he was in the restaurant the waitresses would call him to the phone. It gave the drivers who wanted privacy the chance to pray alone in the chapel. We walked across the parking lot and  entered the truck stop through the main entrance – saying “hello” to Fred at the cash register – and turned left toward the restaurant.

“Good morning, Antonio.” Francis smiled brightly as she served his coffee – one sugar, one cream – while he settled into his usual corner booth.

“Good morning, Francis.”

“Do you want the usual on this beautiful morning?” She went ahead and wrote special on her order pad anyway. He had only been in town for four months, but the order had not changed.

“Yes, thank you. It is a good day that the Lord has made, isn’t it?”

“Better than yesterday.”

“Nature has a mind of her own, so to speak.”

Francis smiled, topped off Antonio’s coffee, and headed to the kitchen to turn in his order, stopping along the way to refill the coffee cups of other patrons. Antonio glanced around the restaurant, smiling at everyone who caught his eye, and nodding to the regulars. He pulled out his phone and checked the Church of the Necessarily Significant’s Facebook page. It was not a church, per se, although that was Antonio’s goal. The church had begun…

“Here you are, Antonio. Two eggs over easy, bacon, toast, and grits.” Francis slid the plate in front of him as he raised his hands to give her room. She filled his coffee, smiled, and walked to another customer.

Antonio bowed his head and said a quiet prayer. He added butter, salt, and pepper to the grits, stirred them, and tasted a spoonful. Then he cut a piece of an egg, broke off a piece of bacon, and put them on the corner of a piece of toast and took a bite. As he was preparing his second bite, Antonio felt the rush of air as the door to the restaurant opened behind him. He was chewing the second bite when he was suddenly jerked out of the booth and to his feet by a vise grip on his shoulder. The piece of toast went flying. Then he saw the gun.

There are a number of boxes, gadgets, and doohickies in our shed, closets, and drawers that we have kept because they “might be useful some day.” They just sit there waiting – hoping that someday they fulfill their purpose – useless until useful. I walked out into the backyard this morning and discovered that Cyndy found a use for a box I decided to hang on to a few days ago. The box had acquired a secondary purpose. Like the doohickey – or thing-of-a-jig – that becomes the perfect “tool” to complete an odd job around the house.

Once a “might be useful someday” object serves a purpose it is no longer possibly useful. It is indispensable. It can collect dust for years, but it will not be thrown away. On the premise that because it has been useful once – or twice as the case may be – it will inevitably be useful again. Even though that might not be the case.

I have found that for some people, and some Christians, the Bible is simply one of those things to have around because it might be useful some day. They take it to church on Sunday if they remember it. “After all, they have one in the pew.” Then they never actual open it. Why bother when the lay reader is reading it to them. And the preacher will remind them if their thoughts happen to drift.

But – sure enough – a time comes when their Bible becomes useful. Tragedy strikes family or friends. A job is lost, a relationship ends, or any one of any number of life-changing events occur. Then their Bible again has purpose. It eases their mind, softens their heart, soothes their soul, or simply provides comfort. Their Bible has become indispensable.

Unfortunately, there are too many Christians to whom the Bible is something waiting to be useful. They have not discovered the life-changing story of the Israelite’s history, the life and death on the cross of Jesus, or the forgiving grace of God. They have not felt their “heart strangely warmed” as John Wesley did. They have not had their souls cleansed with God’s grace.

With persecuted Christians around the world clamoring for Bibles and materials to continue their spiritual journey with Christ, it is sad that many Christians in our part of the world have a Bible that they never use. I have had a Bible – and have been a Christian – for as long as I can remember. Beginning with the pocket-size New Testament I received when I began attending Sunday school. I have always had a Bible at hand. Unfortunately though, there were times when I felt I was keeping it around “in case it was useful.”

When I finally felt the Lord’s nudging and again opened my Bible for study and prayer, I ceased to think of the Bible as being “potential useful.” It is a part of my day, my life, my profession, and our family life. I feel uncomfortable when too much time has passed since our last visit. The Bible, once thought of as potentially useful, has become indispensable.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1 NRSV.

Peace be with you.

“(JSB* – “And lo, the Lord passed by.”) “Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.”NRSV – (“a soft murmuring sound.”*)

A week ago last Sunday, our pastor, Kenny Dickson, gave a sermon on 1 Kings 19:1-18. He relayed the story of Ahab, Jezebel, and Elijah. Concerning the above passage, he concluded that God was in the silence and it is in times of silence that we can hear the Lord the loudest. I thoroughly enjoyed his sermon, but while the lay reader was reading the scripture, verses 11 and 12 brought a thought to my mind that deserved returning to at a later time. Which would be now.

With all the disasters that have occurred in the past couple of years, the question – does God bring or cause disasters? – has come up on considerably more than one occasion. I think the two verses above not only play a significant role in Elijah’s story, but also answer the question of “where is God” when natural disasters occur. The term natural is deceptive, not duly taking into account the effect of the human race on the planet. Either way, it refers to the actions of nature over the course of time. But when disasters occur, God is not sitting on a golden throne causing the destruction of his creation to unfold.

I find it interesting that the Jewish Study Bible (JSB) begins the second half of verse 11 – after God tells Elijah to come out of the cave and “stand on the mountain before the Lord” – with “And lo, the Lord passed by.” Without this sentence, the NRSV translation seems to imply that God is not present until the “sound of sheer silence.” Conversely, the JSB translation says “There was a great and mighty wind, splitting mountains and shattering rocks by the power of the Lord…” implying that the Lord was the ultimate cause. The NRSV indicates that the great wind came “before the Lord,” intimating that the Lord was not the cause, just an observer.

On the surface, as far as the plot is concerned, the mighty wind, the earthquake, and the fire – even the sheer silence – are unnecessary. Elijah gave God the same answer to his question “Why are you here?” both before and after the four examples of nature’s force. The sheer silence immediately following the violence of the earth was a sudden, terrifying silence – not knowing what might come next. But in verse 13 we learn that Elijah did not emerge from the cave until “hearing” the sheer silence or upon hearing the soft murmuring sound.

The passage does not give any indication as to whether Elijah was coming out of the cave before the mighty display of nature or not. Certainly he would have stayed in the cave when the “storms” began, regardless. Then, as is stated, he “wrapped his face in his mantle” and walked to the cave entrance. And God asks him the same question. To which, as we have said, Elijah gives the same answer. Then the Lord tells Elijah how to proceed.

So why include verses 11-14 if not to emphasize that the mighty wind, the earthquake, and the fire were not of the Lord. But after the acts of nature – as Pastor Dickson surmised – God could be found in the sheer silence (or the soft murmuring sounds). Which is why “when Elijah heard it,” he came out of the cave – where the Lord was waiting. Quite possibly the Holy Spirit, but the Old Testament did not include the concept.

As a result of free will and “having dominion” over the earth (Gen. 1:26 & 28), the world is to a large extent – and for better or worse – in our hands. And although God created nature, it too has “mind of its own” as it were. How else could God be disappointed in us? Because we let our faith and trust in God falter, not to mention ignoring his gift of grace.

When a natural disaster occurs, it happens “before the Lord,” but the Lord is not in the disaster (he did not cause it). But after the disaster, depending on the circumstances, the Lord appears in the sheer silence or soft murmur. Which is when we come out of the cave and listen to the Lord. He helps us get over the trauma, gather together as children of God, and move on. The effect of our existence on the earth is, literally, our “cross to bear.” But the Lord is there in the resulting silence, waiting to comfort us and help us persevere.

Peace be with you.

* Jewish Study Bible

Alyce McKensie, Professor of Homiletics at Perkins Theological Seminary at SMU, published a post before Easter entitled “Have You Got Your Ticket” on Patheos.com. With three teenagers and end of the year school and church activities, I was distracted and only recently re-read the post. The lectionary text that week was the Walk to Emmaus in Luke 24:13-35. “… Easter season is a journey that begins with the empty tomb and the Risen Lord. But for some reason I’ve been thinking about journeys and ways we can remember where were headed and why.”

McKensie recalled the well-known story about Albert Einstein’s train trip when he was on the floor looking for his lost ticket. The conductor told him it was okay, he knew who he was, and trusted him. “It’s not a matter of trust,” said Einstein. “If I don’t find that ticket, I have no idea where I’m going!”

Alyce then wrote about receiving an original ticket to the Wesleyan Class Meeting of the Wesleyan-Methodist Society from 1829. How holding the ticket in her hand led her on a mental spiritual journey back to when James Hart (the name on the ticket) was in fellowship and worship with the society and back to the beginning of the Christian church with the Last Supper and the empty tomb. Read the full post here.

While I was reading her post, my mind went in a slightly different direction (as my mind is wont to do) with the example of the ticket. I do not know what the conductor would have done with the ticket when Einstein found it. But I remember having to get my ticket punched when riding on a train – ostensibly to prove the conductor had validated my ticket. Which led me to consider another kind of ticket.

Part of the problem with the decline of churches today is that many Christians live as though they are mentally getting their ticket punched. Not exactly a good example with which to persuade people to come to, or come back to, church. It’s more about having their eternal ticket punched than faithfulness or discipleship.

Went to Communion Sunday – punch. Went to Wednesday night dinner – punch. Church music programs – punch. Holiday worship services – punch. Christmas services and Easter services – double punches at least. As if the totality of one’s good works can bring entrance to heaven.

If St. Peter at the golden gate were the conductor to eternity, when handed the attendance punch card, he might ask: “Where is your mission punch card, your evangelical punch card, your kindness to strangers punch card?” And so on. If the applicant is using the punch card approach, they are going to fall short of the mark of a good and faithful Christian.

Approached with a true and right spirit, attending church services and events are joyful times of worship and fellowship. Worship and fellowship create an impetus for doing good works, not the other way around. The good works come as acts of faith to, in some small way, return the favor for the Lord’s magnanimous gift of grace. We should want to do good works to further our spiritual journey, not to collect points.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” Ephesians 2:9,10

Peace be with you.

The Innovators, a Christian Acappella band, presented a harmonious and spiritual performance in the sanctuary at Christ United Methodist Church, Farmers Branch, on Wednesday, June 1st at 7 p.m. The six young men were visiting Texas from Innercity UMC in Harare, Zimbabwe. Tatenda Sithole, Michael Sithole, Knowledge Radyo, Dzago Chatsama, Marvellas Nhubu, and Leopold Chipatiso filled the sanctuary with their glorious harmonies, illustrating the presence of the Holy Spirit.

In between songs from their CD, such as The Lord’s Prayer and Never Give Up, the men took turns introducing songs and providing background stories. When they decided to bring their musical ministry to the United States, they faced several obstacles. The first obstacle was obtaining visas to leave Zimbabwe, which are difficult to come by. Each attempt required a non-refundable fee of $240 dollars (US). They were denied initially, despite letters of recommendation.

Each time they were denied, they refused to give up. They did not have money, but they had their faith that God is good and their musical talent with which to raise money. In addition to trying to get visas, the Innovators also raise money for their charity which helps to support orphans in Zimbabwe. After several attempts, the Innovators did, indeed, receive one year visas. Then they faced the task of paying for airplane travel to the states. Following many prayers and conversations with Stefany Simmons and others of the Connectional Table, the prayers were answered and the musical group was on their way to Texas.

A few of the songs were sung in the African dialect of Zimbabwe. The audience was told that “you may not understand the words, but you understand the love of God. I don’t know exactly what it means, but I was told the ‘love of God.’” Other songs included a version of Blessed Assurance in both African and English, Thank You, Lord, and Holy Spirit Fill me, Fill Me. Before the conclusion of the concert, the Innovators had the audience dancing in the aisles, singing, sharing praise and welcoming the Holy Spirit.

The tour, which began at Hamilton Prison in Bryan, with shows in College Station, Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio will end with shows in the Corpus Christi area before the group returns to Zimbabwe on June 13th. The congregation of CUMC, along with the love offering taken during the performance, sends their prayers with the Innovators as they continue to use their musical talents to praise the Lord. Thanks be to God for faith as strong as that of the Innovators.

Peace be with you.


Stefany Simmons introduces Innovators

Max on Life,” the new book by Max Lucado and published by Thomas Nelson consists of the author’s answers to questions he has received over the years in letters, emails, and phone calls. Questions he has been asked as both a pastor and a writer. The letters Lucado received as a pastor are separated by categories (and chapters) entitled Hope, Hurt, Help, Him/Her, Home, Haves/Have-nots, and Hereafter. The questions asked of Lucado range from basic theological questions to marital questions related to God to why go to church. The pastor writes about the role of prayer, the purpose of pain, and the reason for our ultimate hope.

The writing questions are answered in an essay in the addendum, The Write Stuff. The well-written essay deals almost exclusively with writing for the church and as a calling, using the prophets and other authors of the Bible as examples. Lucado deals with basic matters of writing in the last couple of pages. He does not tell an aspiring writer how to be published. But he does tell anyone who feels called to write in the service of the Lord how to proceed from the call, the desire and an idea.

Some readers will read the book cover to cover. Others will use it as a devotional reference or as a topical reference when they are facing hard questions in their own lives. Lucado directly answers most questions with personal experiences and/or Biblical references combined with insights gained from his study, reflection, and prayer. Even answers to questions I will probably (and hopefully) never have still evoked deep feelings, causing me to reflect on my own spiritual journey.

“Max on Life” is an interesting read. Regular readers of Max Lucado will enjoy this book as well as those who are not familiar with his earlier books.

Peace be with you.

My family moved to Wichita Falls just before I started fourth grade. After we settled in, I became friends with the three boys that lived next door. The oldest of the three boys was a few years older than I, the second oldest was a year or two older, and Jeffrey, the youngest, was a year or two younger than I was. Jeffrey’s is the only name I can remember and I am not one hundred percent sure that was his name.

Be that as it may, Jeffrey and I became friends. Particularly when friends my own age were out of town or unavailable. We had several notable adventures, but one in particular comes to mind that involved matchbooks. Matchbooks were still commonplace items, more so than lighters. Disposable lighters were not yet readily available.

The two of us were in the alley behind our houses. The alley was dirt, full of ruts most of the time from the garbage truck and city vehicles. But grass grew in the four or five feet between the alley and the backyard fences. It was late fall without a lot of rain and the grass by the alley was dry, brittle, and brown in spots . And we were bored.

We thought we would experiment with the matches and fire. Holding the matchbook with the striking strip on the bottom, we held the head of a match on the strip with our index finger. Then we would light the match while flipping it toward the ground. If the grass caught fire, we would let it burn, watching the circle of fire grow for a bit, then stomp it out with our foot.

As one would imagine, we kept letting the fire get a little bigger each time. After all, it would not be a challenge otherwise. As fate would have it, and you would guess, one of the fires got out of hand. When we stomped on the fire, ashes jumped, starting another little fire that soon became part of the larger one. It was not too terribly long before we began to panic.

The faster and harder we stomped, the faster the fire spread. When the fire was about three feet across, Jeffrey took off his jacket – which as I remember was brand-new – and began trying to put the fire out with it. At first, he only succeeded in spreading the fire more. I seem to remember coughing and screaming a lot. But he could not hear me, because he was screaming and coughing, too.

We finally put the fire out. Leaving a five foot circle of burned and smoldering grass as a monument to our stupidity. That and the rather large hole of burned fabric on the inside of Jeffrey’s new jacket. He asked me to take it home so he could tell his parents he loaned it to me and buy him some time to confess.

He did not get that chance. The jacket smelled distinctly of smoke and my parents asked me why I had it. I told them he had forgotten it and I would give it back to him. I went out in the backyard and threw the jacket over the fence to Jeffrey, who was in his backyard. His parents had asked him where the jacket was and told him to go get it. Following the rendering of his punishment, his parents talked to my parents. I did not escape unpunished. It was impossible to explain the five foot circle of burnt grass without telling the truth – which was ridiculous enough.

“Rejoice, young man, while you are young, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Follow the inclination of your heart and the desire of your eyes, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.” Ecclesiastes 11:9

Qohelet’s God was a vengeful God. Making a list and checking it twice, as it were. But, with the New Testament and the life of Christ, we know God as forgiving and as a God of grace. While I certainly received my comeuppance for my part in the temporary fascination with fire – giving me a lasting respect for its power – I do not think that any further punishment is forthcoming. It is not a layer in the pile of bad or stupid things I have done in my life for which I will be punished for its totality.

Free will is offset somewhat by our conscience. We may still decide to sin, but we will feel remorseful about it. Each time I have recalled our venture into stupidity, I have received sharp pangs of regret brought on by my conscience. The recurring memories along with regret and feelings of stupidity are sufficient punishment, thank you very much. I do not think I need a final hammer coming down at the end of my life to punish me further for my collective sins.

God may indeed bring us into judgement, but it will be with grace and a forgiving hand of redemption. All will be taken into account, not just our sins. Which is a wonderful thing because no one is without sin. It is easy to understand David singing praises to the Lord. We should sing our praises and thank God with our prayers for his grace, forgiveness, and redemption. Because, in my case, if I was to be held accountable for my sins, the grass fire would be the least of my worries.

Peace be with you.

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