Life in the End Times

Shin's gift to Annie on their One Year Anniversary

Waiting for Ezra & Nehemiah

Filed under: Just Writing — Annie at 11:33 am on Monday, August 4, 2008

Yesterday our head pastor resigned from the church. It was very sudden and sad news. All of the youth group, plus Shin and I, were eating lunch and goofing around when we received notice that this was the Pastor’s last week and also the last Sunday we would get to spend time with his kids. They were teary eyed as the rest of us were in complete shock.

Afterwards all 15 or so of us determined to make it a memorable day and mass migrated to CVS and ate ice cream sandwiches and signed a secret card to say goodbye. We joked around and reminisced and played cards and dodge ball. Then it was time for them to go. And that was it. It felt like the last time we would see them again although I hope it’s not.

After they left the rest of us just felt like spending time together and finding comfort in each other’s company. We played ping pong, the girls made bead crafts and then we ate dinner at Soup Plantation with more self-made ice cream sandwiches. Then Shin and I drove kids home to k-town and went home still shaken and heavy-hearted.

What’s going to happen now? Who will they find next? How did this happen again? There is no such thing as a perfect pastor. We can’t shop and compare. We have to obey authority.

This brings me back to my personal struggle with submission. I’ve been living with my in-laws all the while complaining about obeying all their rules. But how can I look at my living situation the same way when chaos is breaking out at my church because of a lack of honoring authority? But at the same time, is it possible these adults might be correct to vote out a pastor- is it ever justified?

I had to ask Shin, “Did God give David the opportunities to kill King Saul and did David simply choose the more blessed route by not taking vengeance? Or would there have been consequences for killing God’s anointed one?” Shin said, “David didn’t kill Saul because he knew God’s heart.”

When I saw and heard the heartbreak in the pastor’s wife it was like seeing a future glimpse of Shin and I saying our goodbyes to a church that voted us out. Shin may or may not pastor a church someday, but their story was still ours. Shin asked me if I could receive it joyfully if that happened to us and I told him after getting through the hurt and anger I would be able to accept it after returning to God. He also said he would see beyond the ugly circumstances and see it as God leading us in a different direction. So we silently embraced God’s sovereignty in the back of our minds as we drove home, and- I think in some way a stepping stone of grace was embedded in us to help us cross that path someday.

God reminded me just prior to this event that His decisions and our suffering have a redemptive purpose further down the line. Always. Always.

In the meanwhile I’m asking the Lord to bring an Ezra to rebuild the temple and a Nehemiah to rebuild the walls. To bring back the exiles and stir us to make a renewed covenant to follow the Lord. God help us.

Holy Spirit & Forgiveness

Filed under: Just Writing — Annie at 8:09 am on Monday, August 4, 2008

I was awakened suddenly around 4:30AM and unable to go back to sleep. I asked God to talk to me and “John 18” popped in my head. So I turned on the light and went there. It was about Jesus arrest and crucifixion and reappearing to the disciples after resurrecting.

I was particularly struck by 20:21-23 when Jesus appeared the first time. He gives the first charge to his disciples saying, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” and then, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” That means they received the Holy Spirit before Pentecost. But he also says, “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven: if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

I pondered that. Receiving the Spirit was a big thing. But He follows it by talking about forgiveness as the very first thing.

Then I remembered how when Jesus healed the lame man saying, “Your sins are forgiven,” the pharisees said to themselves, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Mark 2:7, Luke 5:21. If it was blasphemous even for a man claiming to be the son of God, then maybe it was preposterous to imagine his disciples forgiving others. Then it hit me what a huge privilege God had given his disciples to have the authority to forgive. Having the Spirit of God allowed them this ability.

Then my mind went back to all the teachings I could think of where Jesus had taught this earlier. The Lord’s prayer, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive our trespassers.” Matthew 6:12. And about forgiving our brother seventy seven times. Matthew 18:22. And quite possibly to Peter about loosing and binding? Not sure about that one.

It’s not that forgiveness was a new concept actually. I did a word search in the Old Testament for forgive and there are lots of passages about one human asking forgiveness of another. So I’m confused. Isn’t it plain logic that if you forgive someone for their sins the sins will be forgiven? And if you don’t, his sins won’t be forgiven? Have I taken something big for granted or did Jesus mean something else? Why was that almost the first thing he said?

Or did he say this to tell his disciples that he forgave them for deserting him, or a statement to all of mankind about their redemption from sin? But what would that have to do with the Holy Spirit? Ohh… unless having the Holy Spirit means they are under the new Spiritual Law of Life where the way you treat others has bearing on how God will treat us, like, “If you forgive others your own sins will be forgiven.”

I scanned Hebrews for anything and found in Hebrews 10:15-18 that Paul says that after Jesus’ sacrifice once and for all, “I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds. Their sins and lawless acts I will remember not more. And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.” Maybe it was to state the abolishment of offering sacrifices.

Anyhow, all I know is that we all want to get to a place where we’re forgiven. So maybe Jesus was passing the torch and saying, “Take it from here men.” Of course that brings up questions of catholicism and man being given an office to forgive man for his sins when Jesus forgave us all.

This is actually a very deep well and I need revelation!!