FORGIVE AND FORGET

The Divine and Human Side of Forgiveness  ©2017 Bill Murphy

 

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I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. Isaiah 43:25

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

 

It’s said that we should forgive and forget. True, we should. But the forgetting part is what we find most difficult, and rightly so.

There’s a vast difference between Divinity and Humanity. Mankind simply was not wired for selective forgetfulness. Few of us come to God at His first call. Often there’s a period of intense conviction when our heart is being prepared for surrender. If we were endued with the ability to willingly blot out (forget) those early pangs of conviction, it would greatly enhance our efforts to reject God’s calling! So, in God’s great mercy, He’s thankfully not wired our hearts and minds with the ability of selective forgetfulness! Praise God! (It works to HIS advantage!)

However, we do forget. We just find it next to impossible to selectively forget!

From my understanding of true forgiveness (Godly forgiveness), that would mean that the iniquity has been forgiven and forgotten. It’s just as if the iniquity had never happened. Therefore, from the Divine standpoint, remembrance serves no purpose what so ever. Think about it.

However, from humanity’s standpoint, remembrance does serve a very useful purpose. In the righteousness side of the ledger – remembering the goodness and mercies of God!

It also serves a useful (and righteous purpose) on the unrighteous side of the ledger! Isn’t that just like God to use the ‘bad’ for His good!

When we say we truly forgive, our forgiveness is not always genuine. We may sincerely think it is, but deep down, in the remote recesses of our spirit, sometimes tiny vestiges of hurt and disappointment remain. Remembrance is the rain which waters these tiny seeds, allowing them to bloom into full grown un-forgiveness. I believe that remembrance is an internal barometer which highlights the truth (or not) of true forgiveness.

Remembrance has absolutely no effect on true forgiveness. But remembrance can have an adverse effect upon un-forgiveness. Remembrance helps us to be aware of our own short-comings. When we want to forgive and when we think that we’ve forgiven, but remembrance stirs up something that ought not to be – that gives us a spiritual warning to get our heart in order!

So don’t be discouraged that you can’t forget. God made us that way!

 

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The Banana Principle

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PLAN B – The Banana Principle © 2017 Bill Murphy

I’m sure you’ve shopped for bananas at the grocery store only to find two types remaining: those so green and crisp you’d need a steak knife to cut ‘em, and those so mushy and brown you could eat ‘em with a spoon! What’s happened to the good ones?

The Banana Principle, that’s what happened!

The first Banana Principle is: when given our choice, we want our pick of the best.

The second Banana Principle is: We usually don’t truly understand what really is best.

The third Banana Principle: I’ll cover that later.

The First Banana Principle When given our choice, we normally to want the best for ourselves. Go ahead, admit it. We all think like this, don’t we? Is this a really BIG sin? I mean, BANANAS?

Whether we’re shopping for bananas or considering the will of God, we’re influenced by two concepts: perception and reality. With banana shopping it’s really no big deal. But when considering the will of God, it’s a very big deal!

Perception is how we perceive things to be – how we think and believe they are. Perception is purely INTERPRETATION.

Reality however, is just that: reality is what is REAL, what is factual, what is actual, what is true.

A perception may be the same as the reality, it may be altogether different (even opposite) or it may contain portions of a reality. But, our lives are so strongly influenced by perceptions that we’re fooled into believing that our perceptions ARE reality! And this causes us untold heart-ache, grief and endless trouble!

Wanting the best bananas is obvious. But wanting the best from God is something else altogether!

Fact: God wants only the very BEST for us!

Fact: If we want what God wants, then we (by default) want what is best for us also!

Yes, it’s true that God only wants for us what is BEST for us! So how can I convince you of this fact? Chances are that I can’t! Satan is the best salesman ever – he’s had millennia perfecting his sales pitch. Satan can sell refrigerators to Eskimos. And he sold mankind the outright LIE that God’s will is not in our best interest. If I cannot convince you that God wants the best for you – scripture can!

Jesus tells us –“… what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” Matthew 7: 9-11

This refers to asking things of Him. But we don’t even have to ask to receive ‘good things’ of Him. I like the way The New International Version says it:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

If that’s not enough to convince you, consider this:

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” John 3:14-17

Remember the THIRD Banana Principle I mentioned?

This Third Banana Principle is that we have a CHOICE! We have the God-given ability to pick and chose which bananas we want.

This ability to pick and choose is our WILL. Just as God has a will, He created us with a will also! “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Genesis 1:27

When God created us like Himself (in His image) He created us with a will also. That’s because God never intended us to be ‘little robots.’ He wanted us to have a parent/child relationship with Himself. He wanted us to have the ability to choose to love Him and to trust in Him. He wanted us to have the ability to choose His plan for us, PLAN A. He wants us to use this ability to choose – to choose His will over our own! Why, because He wants us to have that which is BEST!

And this is where Satan steps in. He’s learned to MANIPULATE our personal will through distorting and changing our PERCEPTION of God’s reality. Satan has convinced us that God’s will is difficult, hurtful, and altogether UNDESIRABLE!

Fact: God’s will is NOT a burden! God’s will often doesn’t coincide with our own will, but God’s will is ALWAYS in our best interest!

So what IS God’s will? God’s will is Plan A. God’s will is the First Choice. God’s will is the BEST plan.

 

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DISAPPOINTED WITH HEAVEN

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© 2017 Bill Murphy

This is NOT some great revelation, hardly. And I’m not attempting to rock your doctrine. I’m just relaying the thought which bounced around in my brain/spirit this morning.

It all began as I was mulling over the idea of a story of someone who suddenly ‘wakes up’ to find themselves in Heaven. Then my spirit immediately went in this direction:

We think of Heaven as a destination, a place somewhere (above) in a location that God alone knows. We also think, at least most of us, of Heaven as being a place like – well – HEAVEN! We think of it as place which brings us untold joy and happiness and pleasure. I remember that as a young boy, thinking of it as a place where I could build amazing model airplane for all of eternity, each would be perfect, and all would fly like angels – WITH the angels! You get my point.

Now my ‘big boy’ understanding is that Heaven is where God dwells. “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” Matthew 6:9

I also understand that Jesus has prepared a place for us in Heaven, where we are to dwell with Him forever. “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:2-3

But – has the average/general understanding of Heaven become so carnal that we think Heaven is to be ‘OUR’ home? Do we think of Heaven as some fantastic Eternal Resort where our ‘eternal reward’ is to be pampered forever? Hollywood certainly would have us believe this!

Those who believe Hollywood’s vision of Heaven are in for a huge shock!

Remember, Heaven is ‘God’s Place,’ His home, His Kingdom, where He lives.

Yes, Jesus has prepared a place for us there – a place there in God’s place of abode.

Heaven belongs to God. He wants us there with Him – but it’s still His Place.

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21

Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

So what does this mean for you and for me?

I hardly think I’ll be building model airplanes in Heaven! And I hardly think that I’ll be the center of attention. Yes, I know I will be oh so thankful, thrilled, over-joyed, etc. to be there – but I also understand that Heaven will not be ‘about me.’

I can’t believe that Heaven will be about self. Self must be left at the gate, like a pair of muddy boots left at the back door.

Heaven will be about HIM – the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We won’t be bringing anything to the table – except for praise and thanksgiving to and for Him – and – our will.  He will present the feast – just as He has always been the giver of all things good and wonderful.

Heaven is reserved for those who have humbled themselves and freely given their hope, heart, and lives to Him. Heaven is for those who have willingly sold out to Him – lock, stock and barrel. We sing, ‘I surrender all.’ But we must also mean it, and do it!

This is possible.

And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43

 

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It Ain’t A Rabbit

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©2017 Bill Murphy

Pardon my misuse of the English language, but it really ain’t a rabbit that died on a cross and rose again on Easter morning – to save your soul and mine. It was a man, the Son of God. And He didn’t wear a crown of colored eggs and bleed pink dye. Nor did the people of Jerusalem people buy new clothes especially for the occasion and parade around the cross. Nope. He died practically alone.

So where did all the ducks, bunnies, eggs and fresh-off-the-shelf finery come from? Basically, from the same place as the jolly old man in the red suit who arrives in town in late December.

Now, now, you say. The eggs and elves, bunnies and reindeer are just harmless kiddie stuff. How dare we hide behind our babies? Easter Rabbits and Christmas Santas were NOT created by tiny tots, but by adults like us, wearing our big boy and girl clothes – while never considering what we were doing.

So what’s the big fuss you ask. Please refer to scripture, or try to see from Heaven’s viewpoint.

Only hours before Jesus was nailed to the cross, and 3 days before that first Easter, He officiated over what we refer to as The Last Supper. There he presented bread and wine to his disciples, saying, “Do this often, in remembrance of Me.” Bread and wine, not boiled eggs and gaily wrapped gifts.

Years ago you saw the acronym WWJD everywhere. What would Jesus do. I suggest a new one this holiday season, WWJT – what would Jesus think? I venture to believe that it saddens Him to be supplanted by a rabbit.

So what am I suggesting? Honesty – just simply honesty – honesty with ourselves, with our children, and especially with God.

Just before Jesus began His earthly ministry, He spent 40 days in the wilderness fasting and praying, preparing for His mission ahead. At the end of this lengthy fast, and while His body was at a low point, Satan came to Him… The devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, (to Jesus) “if you will bow down and worship me.” Matthew 8:9 NIV

Military leaders know that if you take out the top brass, you throw that army into chaos. Just as satan is our enemy, Jesus (our ‘Top Brass’) is satan’s number 1 target. Satan lost that round in the wilderness, but he’s still in there fighting. What he can’t accomplish with fear and terror – he has unbelievable success in detracting us from our Lord and Savior!

Go ahead and dye and hunt eggs! That would only ADD to a 4th of July celebration. But do we realize how much it SUBTRACTS from the Easter celebration of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

Here’s a test: On YOUR next birthday, tell everyone to bring gifts to each other – and NONE to you! Have them sing “Happy Birthday” to one another, and not to you. And let them enjoy the cake and ice cream while you sit with an empty plate. If it’s good for the goose (Jesus) it’s good for the gander (you!) WWJT.

I wonder if instead of bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to baby Jesus, the wise men would have instead PLANTED TREES in His honor. We’d probably not have room today for houses and highways – in heavily wooded America!

You get my point.

This year, please make JESUS THE FOCUS OF IT ALL!

 

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Death At An Early Age

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©2017 Bill Murphy

Death presented itself early in my life.

The first death of which I was aware effected me in a profound way. It was the sudden and unexpected death of my uncle in Bogalusa, LA, on October 1, 1946. I was 5 at the time.

Uncle Fred was the husband of my mother’s older sister, Lily Padget. To family and friends, she was known simply as ‘Sister.’ After Uncle Fred’s death Sister moved to Jackson (MS) to live with her parents (my grandparents), who lived next door to my family on Evergreen. Sister was always dear to me, but living next door, she became someone very dear to my heart. Sister and I were always close – even more so after Uncle Fred’s death. I treasure my many years with Sister.

The second death came 2 years later, March 4, 1948. I was in the first grade.

It was the death of my beloved grandfather, Patrick Henry Fairchild, Mom’s father. I was old enough by this time to realize what had happened, and experienced the heavy loss his death dealt to me. He had been my ‘best buddy‘ for 7 years.

My parents were very ‘protective’ of my sister and me. We were kept away from the funeral home and grave service. But I keenly remember the day he died. He’d been taken downtown to Jackson Infirmary, located on the corner of North President and Amite. My sister and I were required to sit outside in the car as the adults went inside. In that era, hospitals didn’t allow small children as visitors. An older cousin sat with us. We sensed that something ominous was happening. The profound grief expressed my my mother told it all.

My next experience with death came only a few years later. I can’t recall the exact year. I was in the 4th or 5th grade. What’s ‘amazing’ about this is that I know I was YOUNG – 9 or 10 at most.

A younger lad from our church was tragically killed in an auto accident – and 5 other boys of around my age were enlisted as pallbearers. (We had adult men at the head and foot as assistance.) I supposed by this time Mom and Dad had lifted some of their protective blanket.

Most folks have never heard of children serving as pallbearers for other children. That experience is etched in my mind. I recall those halting steps to the grave side as if it were only yesterday. Perhaps the reason why memory remains so vivid is because of my fear of tripping that day, and not of death.

I had an unusual friend in the 6th grade, Eldridge Hawkins. He and I were polar opposites.

I came from a solidly stable, loving family. From what I heard from him, his family was a bit different from ours. He was older than the other kids, maybe having failed a few years. He was quite rough around the edges, and due to his age, larger than most of us. But I became good friends with this boy from what some called ‘across the tracks’. My mother didn’t approve. We never hung out together away from school, but were usually together on the playground.

Again, I’m not sure of the date. I have the newspaper clipping which Mom pasted into my grade school photo album. She didn’t included the dateline.

But Eldridge and a boy who live down the street from us on Evergreen – hung a long rope off a railroad trestle spanning a large creek and were swinging from it. Eldridge slipped and fell into the creek – and drowned.

Earlier in the school year, for show and tell I had taken to class an 8 x 10 photo of my Grandfather Fairchild standing in front of the locomotive he engineered. When passed by Eldridge, he signed his name on the back! That photo now has two tangible remembrances attached to it – that of my beloved grandfather, and of my friend, Eldridge Hawkins.

Many of my classmates at George Elementary School followed me to Enochs Junior High, and on to Central High. Death came back to visit us with a vengeance at Central. Over the course of those 3 years, death claimed 7 of our classmates, the last one on graduation night.

At least one died of cancer. Several had sudden, fatal heart attacks. One of those deaths came to a classmate in ROTC. He was buried in his Army ROTC uniform. His was a military-style funeral. Although I enjoyed every minute – well, to be honest, most minutes of ROTC, I didn’t want to ‘spend eternity’ in uniform! I made my parents promise that if something should happen to me – I wanted CIVILIAN clothing – or else I’d come back to haunt them!

No doubt, we’ve all come close to death in our lifetimes and never known it. But once I was told just how close I’d actually come.

I’d had a persistent cough for several weeks, treating it myself with off the shelf remedies. But finally, very late one afternoon, my cough morphed into fever and pain. I could not stand erect. I should have gone straight to the emergency room, but didn’t. The next morning it was worse – so we went straight to my doctor’s office – only blocks from Baptist Hospital. After examining me, he FOLLOWED us to the hospital, where he orchestrated my immediate admission. Within minutes, he inserted a long metal rod into my side, between my ribs, and into my lung – all without sedation! Afterwards, he explained to my wife (Carol) that he’d never removed that much fluid from a person who survived! He said that should I have delayed treatment longer, within hours I would have been gone. What a sobering thought. And – oh what a fool I’d been for my delay in seeking treatment.

I wrote this essay on death neither because I’m fascinated with the subject, nor that I fear it. Truthfully, death is simply a part of life. It may be the end of mortal life as we experience it in the here and now – but it’s far from the end of life as we know it to be. I’ve been blessed to walk in many amazing, historic, astounding and truly breathtaking places. I’ve walked where kings and queens have walked – where presidents, dignitaries and famous military, science, entertainment and sports celebrities trod.

But I’ve never walked on gold.

It’s funny how we mortals view golden streets as the very pinnacle of paving materials – after all, we pave streets with common materials, asphalt, concrete, sea shells, rocks and stones. But then, God does this also! In heaven, gold is an everyday, common commodity – only fit to walk on!

I hope to see you there!


Illustration from clipartfest at https://clipartfest.com

What You See Is What You Get

The following is an up-dated 2003 essay on the topic on perspective, as seen from a very different perspective.

©2017 Bill Murphy

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‘What you see is what you get’ is considered an honest and positive statement. We use this expression in describing someone with no facades, one who is genuine and real. It’s also used (from the seller’s viewpoint) in truthful and honest advertising. eBay sellers use photographs to show exactly what is being offered – nothing less, and nothing more.

Thankfully, God has blessed us with many merciful ‘warning signs‘ to guide us along the path of life. He brings to our attention that we should never trust our eyes in every situation.

Matthew 13:54-58 (NIV) gives us this amazing account from Jesus’ ministry:  Coming to his hometown, he  began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.” And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

The people believed what the saw with their eyes. The believed they saw a hometown chap returning home.  But in truth, there was far more than just human sight (and reasoning) at stake here! Their very SAVIOR was in their midst, yet they failed to see Him as such.

The people of Jesus’ own home town only saw Him as they had seen Him up until the time of the beginning of His earthly ministry. Their eyes saw Him as a common man, and not as the most uncommon Son of God! They choose to believe their eyes, and not what He was trying to reveal to them.

What people saw was what they got!  Just a common man.

We are taught to trust in our eyes. But we place in them far too much trust. Law enforcement tells us that eye witness accounts are notoriously unreliable. Magicians would be out of work if they couldn’t fool us into believe what we think we’re seeing.

It all boils down to this simple fact: When we place our trust in our physical eyes, we run the hazard of being fooled and mis-led. We should be led by the Spirit and not the flesh, and we can only do this when we see through Spiritual eyes.

A Place I Always Try To Avoid

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© 2017 Bill Murphy

When I first heard this topic, my immediate thought was – Across the table from my wife when she says, ‘We need to talk.’ That being interpreted as – ‘I need to hold a mirror up to you.’

We’ve had mirrors in some form or fashion since mankind first discovered vanity. The first primitive type was no doubt simply still pools of water. Then we progressed to polished stone and metal, perfecting this all important device with the invention of glass.

Yet the best mirror that money can buy, be it from Bed, Bath, and Beyond or Neiman Marcus – is imperfect. They all have a common flaw. The image we behold in the mirror is not what other’s see. Our image is reversed.

60+ years ago my childhood pal, Buddy Gorday, asked this thought-provoking question: ‘Since our image in the mirror is reversed, why isn’t it also flipped upside down?’ Of course the answer lies in the physical mechanics of optics.

But putting physics aside, don’t we all too often attempt to see an opposite and upside down image of ourselves?

There have been countless comic movies centered around the naturally aging woman of 50 who dresses, acts, and attempts to believe that she’s still 18. Yes, she uses mirrors (and plastic surgery) in her promotion of this false image. But it’s all smoke and mirrors. For all of time, time has relentlessly marched onward.

The biggest lies we tell are those we tell ourselves.

But the mirrors we use, the one from Bed, Bath and Beyond and that figurative mirror we use to see our inner self – can both expose our self-deceptions.

But like the woman in the movie, we can deceive ourselves only up to a point.

And then the wife says, “We need to talk.”

That’s an easy conservation (with the wife) compared to the one where the inner self finally awakens – or an outside spiritual entity slaps you in the face with reality and truth – and you are led to that uncomfortable place where you sit across the table from yourself.

The room is bare except for an empty table and two chairs. A bright light hangs from above, the room is thick with tension. And then the uncomfortable interrogation begins.

This will be uncomfortable.It may be painful, but believe me – it is a very, very GOOD thing. Robert Frost said it best:

Wad the gift the giftie gie us To see oursels as others see us.

Only when we are given this gift of perfect vision – can we finally see ourselves as we really are! And only when we accept this precious gift – can we understand and know!

We can know who we are.

We can know what we are.

And we can see and know what we can be!


 

 

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