Forgive Us Our Sins As We Forgive Those…

I am participating in this month’s synchroblog (a blog where numerous bloggers blog on the same topic) which can be found at http://synchroblog.wordpress.com. This month’s synchroblog topic is posing this question: “What would it look like for the Church as a whole when abusive leaders are held accountable and then are reconciled? How do we do that in such a way as to let victims be heard and redemption be the end goal. What does redemption and/or reconciliation look like in real life? What does grace look like in these situations?”

“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, as earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial but rescue us from the evil one. If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”–Matthew 6:9-15

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Or in another version, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” How often do we go through the motions of reciting these words from the Lord’s Prayer without truly thinking about what they mean? How can we forgive those who have hurt us…especially if those we need to forgive are those who are leaders in our lives and who we have trusted?

I have been extremely lucky in my life to have leaders who have been wonderful leaders. Yet that is not always the case. In fact, several years ago, the synod I was serving in had an unfortunate situation happen. A member of the synod staff had been embezzling money from the organization. I’ll admit that many of us were hurt and had (still have) a hard time forgiving this man. However I am reminded of a story where neighbors of this man and his wife invited them over for supper. What a powerful witness of forgiveness and grace! The neighbors wanted him and his wife to know that it was about the act and not them as human beings.

The truth is that we are all created as saints and sinners. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Yet God promises that God will forgive us of our sins if we confess our sins. I am reminded of these words from 1 John 1:9-10; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

As I think about all who have been hurt and experienced brokenness by a leader in the church, I find them (actually all of us;sinners)being convicted in the words we hear in verse ten. The Message translation captures 1 John 1:9-10 so well. “If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins–make a clean breast of them–he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we’ve never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God.”

The reality is that all of us including leaders in the church are sinful beings. We all make mistakes. Forgiveness and grace are marvelous gifts, yet I don’t believe God is telling us to forget the sin. In fact, I think God calls all of us to seek the help, counsel and forgiveness that we need. This is shown to us through this wonderful humble servant leader God’s son Jesus Christ. Jesus was not afraid to sit with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus wasn’t afraid to pick up basin and towel and wash the feet of all God’s people even those who would later deny him and betray him. Jesus’ example of humble servanthood is the ultimate example of God’s grace. And by the humble example of Jesus, we all especially leaders in the church are called to embody a life of humble servanthood too.

“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”–2 Corinthians 5:17 (NRSV)

 “Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people–free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free!!”–Ephesians 1:7 (The Message)

**Please note these are my own views and are not necessarily the views of my church.

Read other SynchoBlog posts here:

  • Justin Steckbauer – The Servant Leader: A Radical Concept
  • Mary – Can I Get A Doctor?
  • Glenn Hager – The Man Of God Myth
  • Lisa – Forgive
  • Jeremy Myers – Reconciling Mark Driscoll
  • Peggy Brown – Abi and November’s Synchroblog: Spiritual Abuse and Redemption
  • Edwin Pastor FedEx Aldrich – Shooting Stars: Of Scandal, Abuse, Restoration, and Systematic Failures
  • Liz Dyer – Sorry

    Sunday Blessings 56

    (1) Our YouthWorkers gathering

    (2) Surprising Mom for a few minutes since we were so early to YouthWorkers.

    (3) Getting a card from my mom with some Halloween pictures of her

    (4) My Confirmation class as well as Wed worship making Get Well cards for a young man.

    (5) Voxing with one of my new #write31 days friends. So cool!!

    (6) Getting a text from my previous colleague

    (7) Reconnecting with and Voxing with a dear college friend AH!

    (8) Receiving a one lovely blog award. So humbled and amazed! Thanks Barbara!!

    (9) Competing with my friends on FitBit. I’m losing badly but I’m determined to redeem myself next week!!

    (10) Getting quite a bit of Christmas shopping done at the Pride of Dakota show with my sister.

    (11) EG stopping to pick up the cards we made for her parishioner.

    (12) Getting to snuggle with a one month old baby girl at Family SS

    (13) Making a thankful tree at Family Sunday School

    (14) Getting my usual Sunday call from my momma

    (15) My sister getting home safely

    (16) Tying for first place at the Lutheran campus ministry chili feed

    (17) And each of YOU!!!!

    One Lovely Blog Award

    I really am not that lucky of a person. I have put my name in many times, but have never really had my name drawn except this one time. My friend SKDO and I were at Hobby Lobby for a scrapbooking event. We both registered our names. We were walking through the store when SKDO looked at me and said, “I think they just said your name over the intercom.” We went back to the area and sure enough they had drawn my name. I won a scrapbooking basket that had approximately $50 worth of scrapbooking supplies. I told SKDO that she must be my lucky charm! 🙂 Being that I am not that lucky of a person, when I get accolades from someone it truly makes me feel really good.
     
    
    

    I am honored that my new #write31 days friend Barbara who blogs at Barbara’s Blog nominated me for a very special award; the One Lovely Blog Award. She wrote this about me, “Theresa and Tara have followed my blog since the beginning of the write 31 challenge. I have been encouraged to continue writing during the whole 31 days because of their uplifting and supportive comments.” I am so glad that she has felt encouraged from my comments. I also (as a fairly new blogger) am humbled that Barbara nominated me for this award.

    As part of the award, I am to post seven facts about myself so you can get to know me a little better. So here goes nothing….

    (1) I am a published poet. I have had several poems published in my seminary’s publication. I also have had a poem published in the poetry.com poetry anthology.

    (2) I only have two first cousins and we are all girls born on the third of a month; June, January and September 3rd. My sister came along and broke the trend. We have decided she wanted to start a new trend though; both her and our dad were born on the 26th of a month; August and September.

    (3) My absolute favorite color is GREEN! When my friends and I go shopping, they always spot green clothing items and will wait to see how long it takes for me to find it.

    (4) I LOVE cinnamon gummy bears!

    (5) I am a HUGE Nebraska Cornhuskers fan! My mom’s family is from Nebraska and my sister and I were both born in Nebraska. The day my Mom was in labor with me, my dad, the doctor (a dear family friend) and my Grandpa were talking about the big game they had played that day. I always joke that I was destined to be a Huskers fan since it was the first thing I heard when I came out! My best friend gave me a stuffed Herbie the Husker (which is special to me since Mandy passed away several years ago) and my mom had a homemade Husker quilt made for me.

    (6) I worked at SuperAwesomeBibleCamp for approximately 7 summers. It is one of my favorite places in the world. It is located on the shores of Lake Sakakawea!

    (7) I love babies!!! I could sit and cuddle with them all day long! I cannot wait to be a momma someday myself.

    And now it is my turn to nominate some lovely blogs. This is so hard since I have gotten to meet so many wonderful people during the #write31days challenge. I am sorry if you get nominated twice my friends. Just know I don’t expect you to post twice! 🙂

    Ingrid is one of the first people I met through her blog during the write31days. I have always felt so welcomed at Ingrid’s place. And I have loved every bit of her words!

    Kirsten always posts blog posts that make me think. I honestly cannot get enough of her words either!

    Therese was also nominated by Barbara but I had to give her a shout-out. I feel like I have known Therese for a lot longer than I have known her. Her #write31 days was all about her journey with depression. I am thankful for her bravery in sharing her story.

    Anna is one of the sweetest women that I know. She isn’t afraid to share her heart. I met Anna when her and her husband were working at one of my fave places in the world. Even though the  miles seperate us, I am so very thankful for Anna’s heart and her words. Love you dear sister in Christ!

    Erin is a young lady I am glad to have met through the write31 days challenge. She is a beautiful soul and I love her words!

    Stephanie and Jermaine (husband and wife) also participated in the #write31 days. As a poet, it was so fun to find their blog. I cannot wait to see what their next project is. I am thankful to be on this journey with these two beautiful souls.

    Dana is this amazing woman of Christ. I feel like I have known her a lot longer than these 31 days as well. I love Dana’s heart. I first met Dana through one of her Sunday posts where she shared her heart through her music. It was so beautiful! I love that Dana is always willing to encourage me. I love that we have been getting to know each other better by voxing with one another. God brings people into our lives at the right times and at the right places. I feel that way about our friendship. Dana understands my heart and is, in so many ways, my dear soul sister!

    Sarah is one of my dear friends. She recently returned to blogging after being away for a little while after having her first child. Sarah and I worked at SuperAwesomeBibleCamp together. Sarah is a dear friend and I am so happy to see her blogging again. Miss you friend!

    Julia is a diaconal sister who I am so blessed to have in my life. I always enjoy reading her blog.

    Well I think that will be my nominations. I seriously could nominate so many more! But I don’t want this blog post to get too long. Please stop by and give these ladies some comment love!

    I am so very thankful for each and every one of them (and each of you!) I am so glad you all have allowed me to stand on your “holy ground.” LOVE YOU GALS!!

    Five Minute Friday: Still

    I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday  today. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “Still.” Write for five minutes; unedited.

    The whirl of the Internet pulls me in so often. I find myself checking my Facebook feed, my Instagram feed, or voxing with a friend. It is so hard to find stillness in the midst of a very technology based world.

    Just the other day, teaching Confirmation, I realized how our youth are very unaccostumed to being still. They spend class being very un-still. This generation is so not used to being still. They find themselves busy all the time. I believe it is very important for us to show them that is good for us to be still. I am reminded of the words that we hear God say to us, “Be still and know that I am God.”

    The thing is that God showed us what it means to be still the night Jesus was born. That still night in Bethlehem, Jesus was born reminding us of the power of God’s love for us and the beauty of what it means to be still and take in God’s creation. Perhaps we should take more time to be still and watch the seasons change around us. Perhaps we should take more time to just be still with our friends and family and listen to each other share our stories. Perhaps we should spend more time learning to be still.

    “Be still and know that I am God!”

    Love One Another As I Have First Loved You

    I recently became made aware of a man in Texas who is being set to be executed. I don’t know a lot of the particulars of the story, but what I do know is that Mr. Panetti was diagnosed in 1978 with schizoprenia. He has lived for more than 30 years with a mental illness!

    In 2004, Mr. Panetti was set to be executed but a federal judge court stayed the execution. Later, in a follow-up trial, Mr. Panetti was allowed to represent himself. He came into the courtroom wearing a purple cowboy suit and with a cowboy Bible. He called the likes of Jesus Christ and JKF as witnesses in his trial.

    As I picture Mr. Panetti standing in that courtroom, I cannot help but realize that he is a very sick man….and needs proper medication, care, etc. I don’t know what caused him to experience a psychotic break but he clearly seems to have experienced one as he murdered his in-laws. I find myself pondering the question, “How sick is he now or was he then?”

    Morally, I wonder what is the right solution to this situation. Yes, Mr. Panetti committed a crime, but does he deserve to be executed for his actions? I know not everyone will agree with me, but I don’t think that execution is the best answer for Mr. Panetti. Mr. Panetti is a human being just like the rest of us. And because of his illness, he made some horrific choices. Yet does that mean he deserves to die by the hand of execution?

    I hope and pray that Mr. Panetti and all those that suffer from mental illnesses will find the proper help that they need. And that they will be shown compassion and not fear by the world around them. I think that is one of our biggest faults when it comes to caring for the mentally ill. We fear for ourselves and our families, yet showing even a little or a lot of compassion can go a very long way. God calls us to “love one another as I have first loved you.”

    To read more about Scott Panetti’s story, here are a few links to read
    Is Scott Panetti?
    Scott Panetti Execution
    A Schizoprenic Man

    Standing on Holy Ground

    “There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’ And Moses said, ‘Here I am.” ‘Do not come any closer,’ God said. ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’ Then he said, ‘I am the God of your Father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.” –Exodus 3:2-6

    How often do we look for that sign of a burning bush within our own lives? I know there have been many times in my own life when I have wished that God’s voice would come to me in a burning bush. But as I have looked for that burning bush, to no avail, that burning bush has been no where to be found!

    Maybe I have been looking in all the wrong places. Perhaps God is putting burning bushes in our path, just not like we would expect those burning bushes to come into our lives. The truth is, I believe, that we are experiencing our own burning bushes throughout our lives. We experience those especially when we see someones heart or someone shares their faith with us. I am reminded of a quote that I read today on a friend’s FB page. The quote reads:

    “We stand before a burning bush whenever other human beings share with us something of their relationship with God or something of the moments of their hearts. In such moments may we always realize that we stand on holy ground.”–Margaret Silf

    These words speak so much to me. As I have sat in my friend’s house, sharing a meal with her and her daughter, I have found myself on holy ground. As I have sat in yet another friend’s house and heard her heart, I have once again found myself on holy ground. As I have watched my Confirmation students create cards for someone other than themselves, I have found myself on holy ground. As I have shared in numerous families joys and sorrows, I have found myself yet again standing upon holy ground. As I have read new blogs, accepted new Facebook friend requests, and voxed with new #write31 day friends, I have realized that I am standing upon holy ground yet again. When another friend bravely shares her heart through her music, I find myself surely standing on holy ground.

    There is something incredibly holy about standing on holy ground with others who understand me and my heart. God truly wants us to share ourselves with each other. God wants us to show who God created us to be with each other. God wants us to be authentic and even gentle with ourselves. That isn’t easy because God is so much gentler with us than we are with ourselves. And because of that God places incredible people into our lives so that we can stand on holy ground together.

    I am thankful for the ways that I have experienced and will continue to experience holy ground in my life. And I am thankful for all of you who have shared yourself with me and have allowed me to stand on holy ground with YOU! May we all continue to share our stories with each other and may our eyes be opened to those times of holy ground in our own lives.

     

    A Cute Pair of Boots and J-Lo Jeans

    I’ve never been a big makeup girl. And I have never been the most popular girl either. In fact, as a child, I was picked on quite a bit. Self-esteem was always one of my weaknesses. When I moved to this new town a year ago, one of my members at church is a Mary Kaye consultant and she asked me to be one of her makeup models one night. So I went and it was so much fun. Shortly before I moved, my friend J even introduced me to Bare Minerals makeup. It was so much fun to get dolled up. Yet makeup is still not a part of my daily routine. I want my future Mr. Right to accept me for who God created me to be…without the makeup, glitz, etc.

    But lately I have been feeling something different. I woke up this morning put on a new pair of J-Lo jeans (the Jennifer Lopez brand which can be found at Kohls) and a button down shirt in my absolute favorite color; green! As I was getting ready, I thought to myself I should wear boots today. I cannot even begin to tell you the last time I wore a great pair of boots. I finished getting ready and dug in my closet until I found those boots. I put on those boots and walked out the door. I felt so good! I even found myself saying “I look cute today.” I also was standing up a little taller.

    I am not sure what has changed my attitude but I like it. I know that in due time, God will bring that special person into my life. There are days that I think that all hope is lost! But the reality is that I shouldn’t lose hope! God is, more than likely, looking for that special someone for me. And it will happen in God’s timing not my own. But at 36 years old, that is not very easy to trust in!

    So as I wait for God to bring that special someone into my life, I will try to remember every day that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made.” I will enhance my beauty in the ways that God wants me to enhance them…that they will come through in my words and my actions. And perhaps donning some makeup and a cute pair of boots somedays might help too.

    Sunday Blessings 55

    (1) Beer and hymns with some of my fave people.

    (2) Dinner out with those same people before Beer and Hymns.

    (3) Getting to spend time with my momma.

    (4) A sweet picture left on my desk by my mama.

    (5) The right to vote.

    (6) My first ever guest post and the wonderful caregiver love/comments I received from so many of you. (I am so blessed to have found my tribe!)

    (7) A hug from one of my fave little boys.

    (8) Talking to one of my fave people on the phone. Love you SP!

    (9) Getting a text from my good friend MW; just to say hello.

    (10) An awesome fundraising night at Taco Johns for our youth. Thanks FLC friends!!!

    (11) Receiving my copy of Rich Melheim’s book in the mail. Thanks Rich! I’m excited to read it!!

    (12) A fun package from my friend Heather who is currently living in Japan.

    (13) Helping work the WELCA bazaar with some of our youth and getting to know them better.

    (14) A lady giving me a sweet gift that she won.



    It’s a Christmas tree skirt. Isn’t it pretty?!

    (15) IMing with some of my new #write31 days friends.

    (16) A little girl so excited to see me at worship. Makes me feel very loved!

    (17) Catching up on my tv shows

    (18) A wonderful PLN (post liturgical nap)

    (19) News that dear friends are expecting Baby #2 in May. So excited for them! 🙂 Baby A is going to be a great big sister!!!

    The Turning of Seasons

    I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday  today. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “turn.” Write for five minutes; unedited.

    The combine turns and moves its way up and down the field. The seeds have turned from seeds into wheat, soybeans or whatever crop we may have planted. My aunt, Dad, and Uncle take turns driving the combine; hoping and praying to get the combining finished within the next week. As I watch them turn down the field, I am reminded of how easily the seasons turn around these parts.

    The leaves continue to turn; from green to hues of burnt orange to bright reds. And as they turn, they fall to the ground reminding us once again of the turn of the seasons. Soon the leaves will no longer be around and our yards and sidewalks will be covered in white fluffy snow. Again another turn of the seasons….

    Months will turn from one month to another on the calendar and after what seems like a very long winter, the snow will begin to melt and the leaves will begin to return on the trees. The air will be filled with cool crisp spring weather. New life will come as baby calves are born. Again another turn of the seasons…

    Before we know it the days will turn longer and it will feel like the days last forever. Spring will turn to summer. And we will find ourselves spending much time enjoying the longer days. The heat of the sun will turn our skin from the pasty white of winter to either sunburnt or tanned. Our hair will be sunkist. Again another turn of the seasons…

    Our seasons turn from summer to fall, from fall to winter, from winter to spring! The beauty of God’s creation changes as it turns from each of these seasons.

    Lessons Learned

    One of my new #write31 days friends asked this question on Facebook this morning, “Almost a week out from finishing the challenge. How did you see God grow you in the 31 days and do you find yourself with a new calling/purpose for your writing?”

    (1) I have seen God use me for a greater purpose. As I have shared my story, I have seen how God has used me and my families story to bless others, to inspire others and to let others know that they are not alone.

    (2) I was reminded how much I am truly a writer. My mom said I was a strange kid. Often times when I was little, I didn’t want a toy. She could give me a piece of paper and a pen and I was a happy camper. Throughout this challenge, I have realized how good it is for my soul to put pen to paper; much like a musician writing a song and putting notes to words. I get to write sermons once a month for my job and write newsletter articles etc. But I haven’t really taken the time to write for me! I have realized how much I missed writing!

    (3) My hope is that I will continue to “find my tribe” and that others will find their tribe as well. It is so cool to find others who simply get me and understand who I am. Pure gift in knowing who and whose  I am. I hope that I can use this blog to help others see that as well and to know that gosh darnit, they are good enough; more than good enough!

    (4) That being vulnerable can be a scary place to be. But by showing my own vulnerability, people see me for all of my experiences; for all of my hopes and dreams; for all of my griefs and losses. And by leading by example, others realize and see how being vulnerable and open can bless all of us!

    (5) I learned a lot during these 31 days but I think my favorite has to be one a friend pointed out to me. She reminded me that I am truly living out the words to Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” When I flipped my Bible open and read those words, I realized how true that is. It took me a long time to get there but in sharing my story, I have found a way to fully trust in a God who promises to never leave us or forsake us. I honestly don’t know how I would have gotten through life and our struggles without my faith. I know that is not true for everyone but for me, there is such comfort in knowing that I am called and claimed as a precious child of God. Thanks be to God for that!

    (6) I also think in many ways I have found my voice again. At seminary, I had a negative experience in a class by a classmate. (She later apologized and became one of my dearest friends) However that experience caused me to shut down and not think I had anything valuable to say. Throughout seminary and in my calls after, I was able to find my voice. And I continue to find that voice even more each and every day!

    “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”–Romans 8:26-28 (The Message Translation)