Musings From A Musical Mind

Posts tagged ‘Divine grace’

Mercy Says No

Last night we watched a wonderful story on forgiveness.  It was on Oprah’s new program, “Where are they now”.  Many years ago a brutally raped woman accused and put the wrong man in prison for this crime, due to a mistake on her part.  He had to be in prison for eleven years.

The story was unreal.  Can you even imagine being falsely accused by someone because you happen to look like the real criminal?  It seems horrific.  And yet this story has a powerful ending.  The man was released when DNA tests proved he was not guilty.  When the women found out her mistake she set about to rectify it.  She asked this man face to face if he could ever find it in his power to forgive her.  What he said to her next was so wonderful.  He told her, “I forgave you years ago – I had to let go of the poison of hate in my body so I could continue to live”.

As I watched the two of them who appeared on the Oprah show many years ago telling their story, and then an update to right now – their story did not end there.  They are close friends involved in each others lives today.  Their easy give and take is so genuine.  Truly love and forgiveness of even the most unspeakable things that people do to us CAN win out every time.  But that decision is up to us.

I have heard of people who were able to forgive their children or spouses murderers.  Stories of grace and God-given mercy.  It has to be God – in ourselves we are just not equipped to handle the emotions on our own.  We want revenge and for someone to pay.  But mercy says no.

Love Hope, Grace, Mercy, and Faith

Love Hope, Grace, Mercy, and Faith (Photo credit: nme421)

I think about what I deserve.  It is death.  It is wrath.   And I need to be reminded that if it were not for the grace of God I would be lost.  Because of that undeserved and unearned favor from God – and what he did to save me – I am free.  Freed by love.  Freed by something I could never repay.  Because of that example of total reckless abandon and outpouring – I can love and forgive others.  Oh it doesn’t come naturally to me.  In fact I don’t want to even talk to anyone who has hurt me – let alone invite them back into my life and live as if nothing has happened.  It is against my natural tendencies.  But because of God’s great love for me, I can take baby steps toward understanding this incredible kind of love.  I can take baby steps in showing grace – and in showing mercy.

I have a few people like this in my world.  Where it is an act of my will to just let it go.
I know that God will take care of them in the end.  But it is hard to
wait for that day that seems so very far away.  Where is the justice???  I don’t want to show mercy and grace.  I want them to pay and know how they have hurt me.  It is not a pretty picture.

When was the last time you had an encounter with the unlovely side of yourself?  The side that turns away, runs from conflict and those that have deeply hurt you?  Or the side of you that DEMANDS payment?  When was the last time you had an opportunity to show grace?  They didn’t deserve it.  They never will.  They deserved your wrath and exploding anger.  But you were able to dig deeper and lean on God’s great arm of forgiveness and understanding.  And instead of making them pay – you were able to let it go.  You found the strength to say, ‘mercy says no’.

My prayer for all of us today is that we can find that place to ‘let it go’.  I pray that you will come to that place where you practice the forgiveness that frees and releases.  I pray that you will continue to prosper even as your soul prospers, living happy, healthy and full of grace and mercy.

 

A Covenant Agreement With Grace

The other night I was having a conversation with my daughter and her friend.  We were discussing different things in our businesses.  Things like contracts, agreements and policies.  Often times we are forced to develop a new policy or a written contract because of something negative.  Sometimes it is a broken verbal agreement, or loss of payment.  Maybe even a misunderstanding or unrealized expectation.

I was reflecting on my own music business.  It took about two or three negative experiences with someone about 15 years ago for me to wise up and get a written list of expectations called a “music agreement”.  Those negative experiences forced me to become direct with things like payment, no-shows and makeup lessons.  Before the “agreement” I was operating under “complete grace” and verbal agreement only.

In talking with Greg this morning, we dug deeper and looked at God’s laws passed down to us.  There was a time when God operated on “The Law” only.  Laws were a standard meant to “set apart” and protect.  God’s laws, such as the ten commandments written for the children of Israel, and many others found in Old Testament and New Testament – were written to warn us.  They were written to show God’s expectations.   But they were also written to show relationship.  When Jesus came to be a sacrifice for any who would accept Him – the law became much more than just “Law”.   It became a covenant agreement with grace. 

With God’s grace in place for all of us “law breakers” – we now have a greater reason to keep the law and to obey what He tells us to do.  To keep standards in our lives and live as we should.  Those who continue to break God’s Laws, do not understand grace.  Grace gives new freedom.  Grace brings protection and reason for living.

I was thinking about this topic this morning.  It has taken “law breakers”, those that would abuse my business in the past – for me to know how to protect myself in the future – but more than that – my “agreement” also protects those that live under it.  When treated in the correct manner – contracts protect both parties.  There is freedom in living under that kind of agreement.  And although I’m sure I do not operate under that “grace” that God exercises with those who believe in Him – I understand at least a little bit, what it means.

I can either let other negative experiences bring me down and force me to show no grace to others – or I can learn from those negatives.  In having very clear expectations and still operating under “grace” for any and all unique situations – will allow me to further cultivate relationship with others.  I want to be known as being fair, honest and merciful.  Being clear about my expectations up front.  Showing protection for all those who would enter into an agreement with me.  This is not always easy.  But it is the best way to live.

Do you show grace to others?  Even those who have wronged you?  What is your standard?  Are you clear in your business dealings with others?

Dear Lord help me to be a person of my word.  When it is my mistake, let me not hesitate to apologize.  When it is not my mistake, help me to show grace with others, being merciful as you have been to me.  Help me to show kindness and integrity in all that I do, words I speak and the way that I live.   Amen

Anniversary Week

31 years ago tomorrow I walked down the aisle at 20 years old to say “I do” to Greg. One of my favorite memories from that crazy day is the song that Greg and his two brothers sang to me, “What a difference you’ve made in my life”. I found a version by B.J. Thomas – and although it is not the same as the karaoke version we used back in 1981 it is still a fun memory to hear it played today.

Marriage has its ups and downs and we certainly are not a perfect couple by any means. We are flawed human beings who have done our best to stay current and adaptable to any and all situations that life has thrown at us. There were misunderstandings and people who have come and gone in our lives. There have been weaknesses and shortcomings in both of us, but they have also been the glue and bonding that have become a key element in keeping our marriage, love and friendship alive.

I have changed much since I was 20. I’ve discovered things about myself I didn’t know or couldn’t reveal when I was younger.  I’ve experienced things along the journey that made me stronger and made me want to be a better person.  And there have been those that have planted seeds of freedom and courage in me.  Some of those people are still with me today – but most are not.  The one thing that has stayed constant is my relationship with Greg.  He has stood by me and truly been a best friend.  He has allowed me to grow and express myself.  He has given me wings to do the things I feel called to do.

Humor and laughter have remained a constant thing in our marriage.  We have always laughed and still laugh many times a day.  We have found a new-found communication in the last 4 years or so and we talk about things for hours now, instead of just brushing them aside.  We have favorite programs we like to watch in the evening – and we love to walk and talk.  We share a love for coffee and puppies.  And we both agree that our two “children” are the best looking, brightest and most adorable – EVER!

Our solid foundation has been a faith and personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  This has kept us strong and in tough times has given us strength to make the right choices and do the right thing.  And we have found that God’s grace renews everyday – is fresh every morning.  So glad for this!

We look forward to 31 more years together.  Still doing life together and enjoying each new day.  Supporting and encouraging each other’s strengths – but standing by the weaknesses.  Being true to our vows and believing the best in each other – always.

God Bless

Being Authentic

The Sad Clown! She is a teacher at my daughter...

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday my husband Greg and I had a most interesting and enlightening conversation in the car – while discussing our pastor’s message that morning at church.

Normally I love our pastor’s messages – he is always prepared and seems to have his pulse on what is going on in the lives of his congregation.  This time I felt he was right on – as usual – but must admit, it made me uncomfortable.  Uncomfortable and a little sad – because I simply was not raised with the idea that it was okay to let people know what you are feeling – especially if it is bad, questionable or sad.

I’m from a generation who believed you did NOT let anyone see you sweat – never voiced a fear or regret – or even dared to be sad or depressed about anything.  This was true in our family – and sadly, in the church.

And to further complicate this – about 3 years ago I found myself in a touchy situation with another person and I was going through a bad time – was in a dark hole of sadness and was criticized for posting a SCRIPTURE verse on facebook about being downcast and sad from the PSALMS!  Good grief.  And because I was in leadership – I was not allowed to mourn over a loss – or even hint that I might be having a problem with it.

So it seems there are two very different schools of thought on being authentic:

1.  We should be honest in expressing who we are – how we’re feeling and doing – and not afraid to be real with people and let them know that we struggle like everyone else.

Or

2. Never let people know that you struggle with temptation or sin.  Always be “fine” when asked and only post positive things when on a social network or in person.   Especially leadership.  Because leadership is perfect and never struggles.  We paste on a smile and never let them see us sweat.  We never have problems with our children – we never have illness or marital trouble.  Never.

Well, yesterday – my dear pastor admitted that he struggles.  He admitted that he’s not perfect – in any way.  That he can be and mostly always IS a disappointment to others in his life.  He admitted that he’s a human being capable of temptation and sin like the rest of us.

I loved what he said about those that attend AA meetings.  They have to say their name and then say, “I’m an alcoholic” or “I’m a recovering alcoholic”  and he believes that when we introduce ourselves to others that we should be quick to say, “I’m a recovering sinner“.  Because it’s true.  We are all at level ground.  Even leadership.

Now I’m also aware that people who are lost need to have a role model – and have someone they can look up to.

Here’s the problem with that.  Most of the time – it’s not reality – and the first time that this “seeker” or really lost person has a problem – they fall, because they don’t have it “all together” like the Christian people they encounter at church on a Sunday morning – and they believe they can’t make it.

Instead – I would submit that you do the following:

1.  Stop trying to elevate ourselves by trying to look better than anyone else

2. Have a humble spirit and listening ear

3. Admit that you have problems and temptations like everyone else

4. Admit that you stumble and sometimes want to go the other way

5. Have a testimony of God’s grace and love ready to share with others when they become discouraged.

6. Be a person that is “instant in season” knowing that God places certain people in our path.

7. Do not let anyone tell you  – you can’t express who you are.  Even if that means you have to admit you’ve failed.

I wish I would’ve done that back then – but I’ve learned some valuable lessons about people and myself since then.  I’ve found out that everyone struggles – we are ALL THE SAME when it comes to this.  How you RESPOND is truly the difference – NOT whether or not you get hit with struggles, temptation and sin.  Because if you live long enough – you will.

Here is what you SHOULD do:

1. Respond in an authentic way

2. Admit that you struggle

3. Ask for forgiveness and for strength from the only one who truly understands and can forgive without strings attached.

4. Tell others that it’s only the grace of God that gives anyone ANY hope in times of struggle – including you.

5. Have a fast recovery time from failure to repentance.

6. Be unafraid to be yourself – including gifts of encouragement and hospitality to bring renewed hope to others who may be hurting and struggling.

7. Do NOT let others rob you of your ability to be yourself.

8. Listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit – not to man alone.

9. Develop a deep joy in your spirit even in times of trouble.

10. Pray for your leaders – they are human beings too.

 

God Bless

My Testimony, Audio (via The Fallen Pastor)

I’m posting this audio today from my friend, Ray Carroll. It is his testimony as told last Sunday in a church where he once attended. It is powerful. The story of a fallen man, a former Southern Baptist pastor – and his discovery of God’s grace through that fall and journey back to health and forgiveness. He talks about the work on the cross so beautifully – because of Good Friday – I knew this would be appropriate to share with my readers today. You will be encouraged, challenged and look at the work of Jesus and the wrath of God in a different way after listening to what Ray has to say.

I promised you that I’d share my testimony with you. Last Sunday, I shared it with a local church. I just finished posting it to YouTube – sorry, no video, audio only. So, if you can’t wait for the typed version, or would rather listen, here it is. It’s a little over 30 minutes long in total. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJXaducYk0 … Read More

via The Fallen Pastor

Walking In My Pastor’s Shoes

The following article was written by my good friend, Deanna Morauski.  Deanna and I go way back – have known each other for 15 years now, served on a church staff for about 5 of those years – and then recently reconnected through facebook in the 2 years.  She is an excellent writer, counselor, wife, mother and friend to many.  She and her husband run a beautiful little place called ‘The Old Hen Bed and Breakfast’ located in North Bend Washington – and my husband and I have been out there numerous times to share friendship, food and laughter with them.  I hope you will be encouraged by her writing today!  God Bless!

Walking in My Pastor’s Shoes

Every time that I write, I make 100% sure that I am not writing about current feelings and observations when it comes to ministry before I type a single word. Tonight I am breaking my own rule because I feel that being honest and real about where I am today is the best thing to share. Usually I pull from my past so that others can learn from my stories and experiences. Today I am pulling my past together with my present… from both sides of ministry.

I have been in ministry of various kinds of roles from youth group vice president, class president, writer, teacher and counselor, deacon, speaker, pastor and pastor’s wife. I have been a follower, a leader, a follower that didn’t realize that she was leading and a leader who looked back to find that no one was following. In the last five years I have dedicated my skills to supporting my husband often behind the scenes in a church plant, the most difficult role of all.

Although I have had only three pastors of my own in my life: one as a child, one when I moved out on my own and my husband, I have found plenty of time to judge many. I have come to a new place of repentance today. I have had to repent for every pastor that I have ever judged…

I have sat under the leadership of a pastor that was boring, one that talked about his little kids too often, and the one who played favorites. The pastor down the road with a sweet little family of his own who had an affair with a teenager and got her pregnant, the one who had an affair with a church member, and the one who was so evangelistic that he couldn’t remember my name even though I was a part of his church for 10 years. Oh, and did I mention that his favorite hymn didn’t make sense to me and his wife sang alto which isn’t pretty to you when you are only 12 years old?

Then I remembered today the one who I admired that had an emotional affair with someone in his church and the one who joked poorly about his wife. Better yet, there was the pastor who seemed to be prideful when he won awards for his church giving so much money to missions and then I even judged another one because he was being so judgmental about the pastor who seemed prideful over his missions giving!

How about that pastor who told me I would work well with children when the only kids I had ever babysat were my two cousins because I didn’t enjoy being around kids? How out of touch was he? And that pastor who didn’t do anything about his congregation smoking in the parking lot right after church, how could he ignore such a thing? I mean, after all, it was a Sunday!

Then there was the guy who was verbally mean to his wife in front of others and was out of control angry when he went to his kid’s sports games. Some friends of mine judged his wife too. They left the church because they didn’t like it that she sang the song “I am the God That Healeth Thee,” (a song written in 1986) because it seemed to them that she was singing about how SHE was claiming to be God. Then there were all the youth pastors in training that took wearing ties to church to the utmost level of importance along with the one who annoyingly declared, “God is good…” waiting for someone to finish his sentence with the words, “all the time” as he trotted through the hallways.

I remember the pastor who spiraled into depression because someone told him he was selfish… how weak of him. No, wait, how HUMAN of him. The very men and women who are teaching us about God’s grace and have showed us grace need the very same grace that we do.

Lord, please forgive me for judging my pastors as well as my friends and family member’s pastors. Please forgive me for every phrase of theirs that I twisted and then repeated. Please forgive my attitude of pride. Please have grace on my husband and me now we are in their shoes.

I remember learning about giving grace from these men and women, learning about reaching out to others, how to worship you, how to talk with you in the private moments I have alone with you… and most of all thank you for giving me the guidance from those much wiser than I to apply your word not only to my head but allowing your truth to touch my heart and change me each step of the way.

Thank you for using the pastor’s wife who sang alto to teach me how to serve others gracefully and how to make my home warm and comfortable for others. Thank you for teaching me endurance from the pastor’s wife who endured criticism when her husband strayed from her. Thank you for teaching me the needs of missionaries that I cannot see and would easily forget about if it weren’t for my award winning pastor and evangelistic pastor who could not remember my name.

Thank you for developing my love for children through the anger I had to face when my pastor was out of touch with my discomfort around children. Thank you so much for reminding me that you are the God that healeth me through my pastor’s wife who obviously was just relaying your words to me through song.

Thank you for the nod of fatherly approval from my very first pastor before he passed away last year, even though he still didn’t get my name right. I know that he loved me and he had a bigger picture of life than I had because he saw the world through your calling.

Please forgive me for judging these lovers of people and servants of yours. Had they been perfect, I would have judged them for that too.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pastor Deanna Morauski, CMHC – Deanna’s love for baking and cooking began as she sat upon a baker’s stool as a little girl. Her love for people grew in the midst of church potlucks. Deanna has been a pastor’s wife since 1997. She expresses her loves today creatively through photography and writing for her foodie blog, tastehope.com, as well as hosting guests at her inn, The Old Hen Bed & Breakfast in Snoqualmie Valley, Washington.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
I Corinthians 13:4-7

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