I’m So Sorry

I’m sorry, friend,

that you’ve felt the heavy weight

of an evangelical’s judgment

 

I’m sorry that Jesus’ followers

have made you feel less-than

and turned their backs on you

 

They’ve treated you rudely,

they’ve elevated themselves

 

and all you wanted to do

was run away from them

 

I’m sorry, friend,

that you were not welcomed

by the ones who accept God’s grace as their own

 

I’m sorry that when you entered church

you were made to feel excluded

from their sickeningly righteous club

 

I’m just so sorry…

 

As a follower of Christ

as an evangelical

as a Christian

let me say a collective “Please forgive us”

 

It’s not the way it’s supposed to be

It’s not what God would want

 

He would have reached out to you

 

to YOU!

 

and would have had harsh words

for the piously off-putting

 

those who are religiously clean on the outside

but dead and rotting on the inside

 

There was a time

when I didn’t get it either

 

I didn’t “get” grace

 

I was saved by it

but I didn’t get it

 

I looked down my nose at Christians and non

without even realizing I was doing it

 

I thought I needed to set everyone straight

 

But then Jesus lovingly and straightforwardly

showed me

my self-righteous hypocrisy

 

Realizing my attitude

I started to change through His Spirit

 

and to put thoughts of condemnation for others

out of my mind

 

replacing them

with Holy Spirit led love

for each and every one

 

by

His

grace

 

Now

I don’t want to point out

and think about

all the flaws people have

 

I just want to point them to Jesus

the One who will welcome them

 

completely

lovingly

graciously

unconditionally

 

I believe that when you start to understand grace

you realize that everyone is in the same boat

 

all of us need it

and need to be lifted out of our mess

by a gracious God

 

Judgment of another person

shows hardness of heart

 

an arrogance

 

The one who is forgiven

and saved by grace freely given

 

has no room

to look down

on a single soul

 

but should stand solidly on Truth

hold tightly to our relational God

and extend the love and grace

extended to him

 

Grace –

It

is

all

God’s

 

given to us

and extended through us

 

– Susie Stewart

 

**I am thankful to say that I am part of a church where people are welcomed and treated with grace.  I have, though, experienced churches where this was not the case.  And I don’t like hearing about people who are not used to going to church being treated badly by those in the church.

 

Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

– Matthew 7:1-5 (MSG)

 

God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

– Ephesians 2:8,9 (NLT)

 

As He was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

They were trying to trap Him into saying something they could use against Him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with His finger. They kept demanding an answer, so He stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then He stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

1“No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

– John 8:3-11 (NLT)

 

You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.

– Matthew 23:27,28  (MSG)

 

 

Does He KNOW You?

You know that you are going to stand before Him,

right?

 

You will stand before the God of the Universe,

alone

 

And the eyes you look into

will either hold joy

or sorrow

 

And the just Judge

will know

if you’ve known Him

 

He will know if you chose Him

and His grace

 

Or if you chose the world

and your sin

 

And I can’t emphasize enough

the importance of knowing Him NOW

 

For when you stand before Him,

and you will,

He will either welcome you into His Kingdom of Life

 

or He won’t

 

And when you realize that all you had to do

here on earth

was accept grace and love

 

You will forever be in regret

 

that you didn’t know Him

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Not everyone who calls out to Me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of My Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to Me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

– Matthew 7:21-23 (NLT)

 

Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with Me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what My Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use Me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress Me one bit. You’re out of here.

– Matthew 7:21-23 (MSG)

 

So, friends, confirm God’s invitation to you, His choice of you. Don’t put it off; do it now. Do this, and you’ll have your life on a firm footing, the streets paved and the way wide open into the eternal kingdom of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.

– 2 Peter 1:10,11 (MSG)

 

This is how much God loved the world: He gave His Son, His one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in Him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust Him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

– John 3:16-18 (MSG)

 

Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by My Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why: I was hungry and you fed Me, I was thirsty and you gave Me a drink, I was homeless and you gave Me a room, I was shivering and you gave Me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to Me.’

– Matthew 25:35-36 (MSG)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Thunder

Your voice will not be denied,

God of Heaven and earth

 

It thunders,

for Your power rumbles great

 

And we should all be

extremely grateful

that our God of Thunder

 

does not pour out His holy wrath

every time we rebel against You

 

For Your power is staggering

and Your voice immense

 

My heart listens for Your quiet voice

knowing Your thunderous voice is coming

 

when holiness brings judgment

with a loud and deafening clap

 

And there are those who hide in Your shelter

and those who stand exposed

 

I will be sheltered

by my Jesus’ sacrificial love

 

– Susie Stewart

 

The Lord thundered from heaven. The Most High made His voice heard.

– 2 Samuel 22:14 (GW)

 

Whenever this happens, my heart stops—
I’m stunned, I can’t catch my breath.
Listen to it! Listen to His thunder,
the rolling, rumbling thunder of His voice.
He lets loose His lightnings from horizon to horizon,
lighting up the earth from pole to pole.
In their wake, the thunder echoes His voice,
powerful and majestic.
He lets out all the stops, He holds nothing back.
No one can mistake that voice—
His word thundering so wondrously,
His mighty acts staggering our understanding.

– Job 37:1-5 (MSG)

 

For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

– Psalm 27:5 (NIV)

 

The blast of the ram’s horn grew louder and louder. Moses spoke, and God answered with a voice that rumbled like thunder.

– Exodus 19:19 (VOICE)

 

The Eternal thundered in the heavens; the Highest spoke; His voice rumbled [in the midst of hail and lightning].

– Psalm 18:13 (VOICE)

 

I was caught up at once in deep worship and, oh!—a Throne set in Heaven with One Seated on the Throne, suffused in gem hues of amber and flame with a nimbus of emerald. Twenty-four thrones circled the Throne, with Twenty-four Elders seated, white-robed, gold-crowned. Lightning flash and thunder crash pulsed from the Throne. Seven fire-blazing torches fronted the Throne (these are the Sevenfold Spirit of God). Before the Throne it was like a clear crystal sea.

– Revelation 4:4-6 (MSG)

 

After the fire, there was a still small voice.

 – 1 Kings 19:12 (WEB)

 

“Pagosa Springs” sung by my brother, Danny Oertli

 

Compare Not

Let God tell you

who you are

 

Comparing yourself

to your brothers and sisters in Christ

 

will only make you feel superior

or inferior

 

Leave it up to God

 

Be your absolutely unique

self

and give yourself grace

 

to grow in Christ

without pride

or condemnation

 

The most important thing

 

is not

 

to be more like this person here

or that person there

 

It is to be like Christ!

 

Compare yourself with others

NOT

 

Know your Father’s delight

in created

YOU

 

– Susie Stewart

 

We’re not, understand, putting ourselves in a league with those who boast that they’re our superiors. We wouldn’t dare do that. But in all this comparing and grading and competing, they quite miss the point.

– 2 Corinthians 10:12 (MSG)

 

Am I now trying to win the favor and approval of men, or of God? Or am I seeking to please someone? If I were still trying to be popular with men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

– Galatians 1:10 (AMP)

 

But each one must carefully scrutinize his own work [examining his actions, attitudes, and behavior], and then he can have the personal satisfaction and inner joy of doing something commendable without comparing himself to another.

– Galatians 6:4 (AMP)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart