From The Desk of Dave McLean
Luke 7:36-50 chronicles the unique encounter between a repentant woman, a judgmental Pharisee named Simon and Jesus. The woman began to wash the feet of Jesus with her tears, she wiped them with her hair, kissed his feet, and anointed them with ointment. She was broken in her sin and was showing her repentance and love to her Savior. Simon, who had invited Jesus to his home, condemned Jesus in his heart for receiving this sinful woman. Jesus shared a story with Simon about two debtors, one who owed five hundred pence and the other fifty. Neither could pay and the creditor forgave them both, He then asked Simon which of them will love the creditor most for forgiving their debts? Simon answered correctly by saying the debtor who owed the most would love him most for forgiving the larger debt.
I need to be clear here that this discussion between Jesus and Simon is not about the amount of sin that Simon or the woman had, but the perception of their sin. Both, if unrepentant were headed for judgment, so the woman did not have a larger debt of sin. The Pharisees were hypocritical and judgmental. If we perceive that we have little or no sin, we have little motivation to repent and our love will be little also. If we see the magnitude of our sin, then our repentance, love and gratitude toward Christ will be great also.
We must answer the same questions; How great was my debt? How great is my forgiveness? How great is my love? The Lord Jesus confirms that the greater our perception of our sin and forgiveness, the greater will be our love of the Lord and others. It is good for us to examine our hearts. I know in my own life, my perception of my sin and forgiveness has changed. There have been times where I thought too highly of myself and I had little love and there have been times where I have seen the magnitude of my sin and His forgiveness and have loved much. Lord, help me to see Your grace and mercy more clearly.
There is a woman named Brenda at Peggy’s house who has blessed me immensely. She’s had a hard go of it for several years now and she is not deceived as to the cause of her problems. She sees how her discontent in her previous marriage and lifestyle led her to make some seriously poor decisions which led her to drugs, alcohol, promiscuity and homelessness. Proverbs 28:13 says, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” We’re not hiding anything from God, so confessing to God and those who can help us is the beginning of mercy.
When I first met Brenda, she was so desperate to get right with the Lord that all I had to do was be there. Even at that, she had to push me along out of her desire to clear her conscience and get right with Jesus. So she got right to it and I did the same and she gave her heart to Christ within minutes. Brenda’s enthusiasm in making things right with Christ was a testimony to me. She hopped up and gave me such a strong hug that I thought I might get a Chiropractic back adjustment out of it. To my disappointment, my back was a little too tight to adjust that day.
I have to say that the Lord would be so blessed if we all saw our sin in such a way and walked in the love and gratitude of our repentance. No doubt it is a challenge to keep that level of gratitude and love day in and out, but it should be our goal. The Lord so desires a pure and fervent heart and an intimate relationship. That’s not too much to ask for all He’s done. The question is do we see all He’s done.
The great commandment is to love the Lord, because the Lord knows that we’ll follow our heart. Brenda is a testimony to me, and I hope also to you. We are wise to see the debt of mercy and love our Lord has extended to us. We are wise to make the most of our time and gifts to serve our Savior and reach out to the lost and needy. The difference between Simon who felt that he was without sin and the need of a Savior and the woman who was desperate to receive forgiveness of her sins was huge. Simon went away without forgiveness and salvation, the woman was born again and inspires to this day.
So as you go through your day, think about what your Savior has done for you, think about the woman who washed the feet of Jesus out of gratitude and think about those around you who have much love for Jesus because they see their debt and His mercy. Never look upon them as greater sinners as Simon did, look upon them as greater realizers of their debt, having greater repentance of their sin and greater lovers of Jesus. Then use their example to see the magnitude of forgiveness you have received. Lord willing, we are baptizing Brenda and two others in the Flathead River in early August. Glory be to God!
A Heartfelt Goodbye-By Brie
Hey Hope family! I remember the first day I came into Peggy's house. I immediately felt a peace and comfort surrounding me the way you guys welcomed me into this home with love and understanding. It was the first place I came where it felt like people understood me and my pain. You guys know what it’s like to be put through the ringer to be at your lowest and to feel no hope. You guys also know what it is like to be redeemed to be rescued by the grace of God to be brought to A Ray of Hope. This place is a beaming ray of hope in our worst. I like to call A Ray of Hope the humble house. Being here was our chance to be humbled by the fact that we got a second chance to start again. You can’t come into this house with an entitlement issue or you won’t last long. You guys have taught me what family is and we’ve seen so many come and go. All of you guys stuck it out which means something. It means everyday you’re laying down and fighting your flesh to become the best you that you can be. This is the place that God has ordained for that.
I’m going to miss house dinners and cleaning up together after. I’m going to miss conversations in the smoking area with everyone. I’m going to miss the jokes and laughs and even the sad parts. Peggy’s house taught me how to be thankful. It taught me that God sees me and cares for me. It taught me how to give and to learn from my mistakes. It taught me accountability and how to work hard with structure. It taught me that you can have family out of friends. I love you guys this isn’t goodbye it’s see you later because I will be coming back to hangout again.
Emanuel H Campbell — Testimony Poem: Invisible
What is air? That thing that keeps us living, the breath of God. Somehow, it's always there, covering all that survives.
I wonder if God covered me when I was born. If he was ever present when I was rejected. Or when Guilt, hate and mixed parenting created wrath.
Was God always there in the Oxygen? The breaths I took right before I screamed or cried. The shouts of anger coming from the well inside. The sadness of my mother's voice as she pushed me to the ground. My sister and her bouts of attention. She always cried when I was treated in any way, like a kid who was loved. Hugs and Kisses were banned and care was unfound.
Did God calculate the keys on my keyboard? The air from each type. Clicking noises from the arrow keys as computers ruled my life. Video Games raised me when all others did not. Gaining knowledge quickly through the internet's response. Every sigh that was, whenever I was seen. I was like a monster, the one I had been.
How did God bless the air that carried on the plane? As I was sent across the Great USA. Jet-lagged from The Tomb: I had lost many things. I felt so depressed I could not do anything. Coincidences varied that would not have arrived. After drawing my life, I had tears in my eyes. Somebody just told me to pick it up and read. I opened up the Chapter and felt that I could breathe. I cried out to God that day and life has been weird since. Like I was under the ocean deep and pulled from the abyss.
No matter where I am, no matter how dire my living conditions are or no matter what life’s obstacles I’m facing, I always give thanks on Thanksgiving. But this year Thanksgiving came early for me. I am a disabled veteran in my mid-forties and a father of four. I recently fell upon hard times when I lost my employment and residence. I had been living out of my car for about a month. When all my attempts for future employment failed and my bank account depleted, I knew I needed help. My car developed a major coolant leak and I had some type of electrical short and that was draining my battery. I had no way to get around nor a way to stay warm. I used the last of my cellphone battery to find other shelters in the flathead valley. There was only one I found and my last chance to find help. It was A Ray of Hope. After I submitted an application for assistance I had to wait for it to be processed. I prayed all day and all that night. The next day I received a phone call that changed my life and a very great reason to be thankful. I had been accepted.
From day one I was treated with respect and stellar professionalism. Everything was explained about what was expected from me, the house rules, and all the resources available to me during my stay. The most impressionable to me were the statements in the hand book “you are a guest not a tenant” and “we are a hand up not a hand out”. I am now on my second week here and I couldn’t be more pleased and very thankful. My interactions with the staff has been second to none. They have been extremely helpful in assisting me find future employment and housing. They are also veteran friendly and working with me and my physical and mental disabilities. With this kind of help, I am certain I will be back on my feet in no time. I want to thank A Ray of Hope, the entire staff, the staff at Hope Thrift and God for providing a hand up in my time of need. I now have one more thing to be thankful for on Thanksgiving.