"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"

Luke 15:4-6

October 20, 2010


There have been times when I'll hear a particular song, and suddenly it's as if the words penetrate my mind and really catch my ear. Even though I may have heard it on several different occasions, it's as if I'm hearing it for the first time and the message is grabbing my attention. That recently happened. The song is "I Then Shall Live" written by Gloria Gaither and recorded jointly by the groups The Gaither Vocal Band and Ernie Haase and Signature Sound. I was watching a Gaither special on TV and these two groups sang this song. As these men were singing it scrolled the words across the bottom of the screen, and as I read them the depth of the message really began to sink in.

Since hearing this song, I have been unable to get the first line out of my mind. It says, "I then shall live as one who's been forgiven." Before the groups sang the song, it showed a clip of Bill and Gloria Gaither talking about the lyrics. Gloria commented about this particular line and [to paraphrase] said that we each know what's wrong with us. We know our faults better than anyone, and don't need someone to point them out to us. But if we live as one who truly knows that they've been forgiven then we will walk in love towards others, and not judge them.

Jon and I were discussing this and came to the conclusion that most of us don't truly realize the depth of God's forgiveness for us. One reason is because we have trouble forgiving ourselves for messing up and sinning. We don't feel worthy of full forgiveness and it's difficult for us to let go of self-condemnation. Or else we don't think what we've done is all that bad, compared to other people. We tend to think that the sins of others are worse than ours. I'm not sure we truly recognize the mercy and grace that God shows us each and every day. If so, then I think we'd be more forgiving and lenient towards other people.

We don't want God to remember our past transgressions and mistakes, but we tend to remember every little offense that someone did towards us. We say we've forgiven them but then we continue to bring it up every chance we get. Someone may share with us a personal offense, and we'll remember what happened to us and share our stories with them. We remember the hurt, anger, frustration, betrayal, or embarrassment attached to that particular act towards us. If we've truly forgiven, would we continue to remember it and bring it up? Would we replay it over and over in our mind for years, and repeat the story to others, if we had truly let go of the emotion attached to that event? It may or may not be a big deal, but it invoked some type of emotion inside us that we have a hard time letting go of.

I know that I'm very guilty of doing this. There was an occasion when I was in a new Sunday School class with people I really didn't know well and there was a discussion about marriage. I had never said anything in class, but spoke up and made a comment that was met with apparent disagreement from the majority of the group. I was embarrassed and felt humiliated and in that moment vowed to myself that I would never speak up in class again; in fact, would never want to return to that particular class. I was discussing that with my sister and she had a similar experience years ago. There were two ladies teaching on the tabernacle in the Old Testament and she commented. They laughed at her and said, "Oh, we've already covered that." It was embarrassing for her to be laughed at in front of others when she was sincere in her comment. We concluded that was a feeling or emotion that you never entirely forget. I'm sure in both incidences the teachers or other classmates never intended harm, but having an opinion or comment shot down in front of others makes the person feel humiliated and embarrassed. There are more appropriate ways to handle it so that everyone feels comfortable contributing to discussions, without the worry of having your comment rejected.

I remember words that people have spoken to me in the past that cut deep and caused hurt. I can remember events where people took advantage of me. I remember in high school when fellow classmates would put their feet in the seat or slide over to the edge of the seat when I got on the bus because they didn't want me sitting by them. It's really hard to forget these things and let them go. Our flesh and emotions were deeply involved and it's very difficult to put those feeling behind us and move on, without remembering or bringing them up over and over again.

It's easy to think, "This is just too hard. I can't do it!" And it is hard. But that doesn't excuse us from trying, and doesn't mean we shouldn't work towards walking in full and complete forgiveness. Letting go of the past is probably one of the most difficult choices we have to make, because it's something we have to do over and over again. When thoughts come regarding some past hurt or offense instead of bringing them up, speaking of them and going over them again in our minds, we need to immediately tell ourselves, "That is in the past and I choose to forgive and not dwell on it," and set our mind on thinking of other things. Boy, do I ever have a lot of work to do because this is a really hard area for me!

Living as one who has been forgiven is not easy, but I believe it can be very freeing. If we could fully comprehend the total and complete forgiveness that God has given, and continues to give, to us over and over again, I think perhaps we could grasp the need to fully forgive others their wrong-doings.

John 8 records the story of the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. The scribes and Pharisees apparently grabbed hold of her and brought her to stand before Jesus. They began their accusation against her and said to Jesus, "Now Moses in the law commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do you say?" Jesus didn't say anything but instead bent down and began writing in the dirt. They continued their questioning, so He raised up and said, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." Then he stooped down and began writing on the ground again. Those who heard the words of Jesus became convicted by their conscience and one by one walked away.

If we had been standing in that crowd that day, I wonder what our response would have been? Would we have been pointing our finger at this woman for being caught in the very act of adultery, thinking Jesus should condemn her and punish her? Or would we have realized that our own sins had been forgiven, therefore shown her mercy and compassion? Would we have taken off our own coat and gone over in love to cover her up, or would we not have wanted to touch her or be associated with her? Would our initial reaction have been to pick up a stone and make her suffer for committing adultery? When Jesus spoke the words, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first," would our conscience have pricked us as we turned quietly away in remorse and shame, knowing of our personal sin?

We are often so quick to judge and condemn others because they don't act as we think they should. We become disappointed in family or friends when they mess up, rebel, or do something we deem as inappropriate or sinful. It's so easy to point our finger and throw verbal stones. I wonder how quickly we'd react if we first stopped and remembered the words of Jesus, "He who is without sin, let him throw a stone first." By saying this was Jesus approving the woman's adultery? Absolutely not! He asked where her accusers were; has no one condemned her? She replied no one. Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." He didn't condemn her for her past or her sin, but He forgave her and told her to stop sinning. Jesus gave her the freedom to leave the past behind and have a new beginning in life. We need to work towards having that same attitude regarding those who sin.

Ephesians 4:32 says, "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."

Colossians 3:12, 13 says, "Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another, even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do."

Forgiveness is not just words in a song or a suggestion, but it's scripture. We are admonished to be kind, tenderhearted, humble, meek, patient, and forgiving. Both of these scriptures tell us that we must forgive one another, even as Christ forgave us. May we each strive towards living each and every moment as one who has been forgiven.


I'm really curious about what Jesus wrote in the sand. It seems like an odd thing that John would mention Jesus doodling. So I'm sure he was writing something meaningful. Maybe it was something like:

Yesterday morning--Cephus

Last Tuesday--Bartholomew

Or maybe it was a little less specific, like:

Lied to his wife twice last night.

Stole her neighbor's apple.

Hates his cousin.

Jesus can see into our hearts, and knows that none of us would be able to cast that first stone. The pharisees knew their own hearts; they just needed a reminder that God did, too.


(I got this recipe out of an Amish Mennonite Church cookbook and it is absolutely delicious!)

German Apple Cake

2 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

3/4 c. chopped nuts (optional)

Mix into the dry ingredients:

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. oil

4 c. thinly sliced apples (or diced)

I didn't want apple slices in my cake, so I thinly diced, which I really liked. Don't use a mixer but stir by hand! Pour batter into a greased and floured 9x13 pan and bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes, until it tests done (mine was done in 45 minutes).


1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese

1 tsp. vanilla

3 Tbsp. melted butter

1 1/2 c. powdered sugar

Mix together and spread on cooled cake. (This is a great cream cheese frosting and would taste really good on any type of cake or cinnamon rolls.)


It seems as if I'm the one always doing goofy things that Jon laughs at, and I rarely catch him doing something silly. One morning this week he was leaving for work. I always walk out to the garage with him in the mornings. We said our goodbyes and Jon walked over to the car and was admiring how clean our garage looked. Some evenings he brings his laptop home with him, but that morning he had nothing in his hands. I watched as he walked over to the car and opened up the back door as he commented on how much bigger our garage looked since we'd cleaned it out. Not paying attention, Jon didn't even realize what he'd done. He was getting ready to get into the car and I asked if he was planning on riding in the back; and if so, how was he planning on driving. It was only when I said something that he realized he'd opened up the back car door instead of the driver's door. Oh how I love these rare moments!


Error continues to be error even if it is accepted by the majority.


We love you!

Loretta & Jon