Unforgivable

“How many of you can say you would never kill someone?”

The question floated over us.  We were undergraduates in a Literature and Psychology class, an experience that goes down as one of my favorite semesters of my life.  The students were a mix of majors and the professor, Dr. Browne, had experience in both fields. We analyzed characters and ourselves as the months flew by.

As a young believer, I raised my hand. I thought, hey, followers of Jesus are all about peace and I would never take a life.

“You’re lying,” Dr. Browne said as he laughed. “You mean to tell me, if you walked into your house and found a guy attacking your family, you wouldn’t defend them? Even to the death?”

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As a family of believers, we are known more for what we don’t forgive than what we do. 2015 has become the year of exclusive faith, from bakeries to court clerks.

In the Bible, Peter asks Jesus about forgiveness.  The custom, at the time, was to forgive seven times.  Jesus replies not seven but seventy times seven. He forgives sins often, to the frustration and anger of the high priests. Only God, they believe, can forgive sins.

They’re right.

We’ve strayed from the path to the point of walking backwards. We focus on what we can’t do rather than the courage to take on new challenges and adventures. We ask for wisdom to avoid danger and ignore the strength needed to push forward. We react rather than act.

We’ve been pushed into a corner by our unwillingness to love our neighbors if they don’t behave the way we want.

The concept of forgiveness comes with implied empowerment. I forgive you is often heard, and said, with condescension and not humility. We need to redefine the term for what it really is:

Release

-from pain, anger, heartbreak and offense.

For the scars do not vanish. They get molded into a figure of beauty and grace blazing with the touch of the Almighty.

If you have a few minutes, watch this video posted by Bleacher Report.  It is the profile of Darnel Dockett, defensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers.  Dockett’s mother was murdered when he was a young teenager.  Catch the last two minutes and pay attention.

How many of us would say the same to our mother’s killer?  I pray that, one day, Dockett gets his chance.

~Matt

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Feel Good Friday 10/17/2014

Melanie Bailey was in the middle of running a cross-country event in North Dakota when she came upon a competitor on the ground and sobbing in pain.  Others passed the girl and Bailey decided not to let that happen.  She helped to girl climb on her back and they finished the race together. You can find the story here.

As parents, we often get caught up in the competition of our children’s sports. We want them to win. We take them to practices and teach them the value of teamwork. Sports can have a vast upside and an ugly downside.  Bailey’s story is the true meaning of athletics.

In a similar vein, it was reported this afternoon that Chip Kelly visited New York Giants’ receiver Victor Cruz in Jefferson Hospital today before he was transferred up to a facility in New York.  With all the animosity surrounding the game, Kelly’s move is classy and almost unheard of in professional sports. He was quoted as saying “culture wins championships”. If his team follows his example, they’ll be well on their way.

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“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” 1 Corinthians 9: 24-26

Soundtrack Inspiration:

Feel Good Friday 9/19/2014

The NFL has recently struggled with a string of high-profile domestic abuse cases.  You can find one of my posts about it here. The league has faced criticism about the handling of the cases and rightfully so. From Ray Rice to Greg Hardy and Jonathan Dwyer, these cases are now coming out of the woodwork and the league will need to quickly form an acceptable response.  Today, news came out that they have partnered with the National Domestic Violence Hotline. This is a small step, but a positive one.  If the attention on domestic violence can save just one more victim, it will be worth it.  The league is also instituting education for every team surrounding domestic violence and sexual abuse. You can find an article about the partnership here.

Inspirational quote to start the weekend:

“No one rises to the occasion. You always sink to your level of training.” ~Chip Kelly, head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles

I’m a huge fan of Kelly’s and this quote stuck with me.  As a believer, father, husband, writer, and entrepreneur, it is a valuable thought. You must build your base because, as the challenges come in waves, you will always react from your foundation. Are you building on rock? Sand? Does your foundation need to be torn down and rebuilt?

 

Berks Women in Crisis

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Berks Women in Crisis (WIC) operates more than one location in the city of Reading.  They offer services that include counseling, housing, and legal assistance.  They work with women, and occasionally men, in crisis situations of abuse. WIC will go to any place of employment, school, or organization wanting to have an educational presentation on abuse and assist with training individuals in identifying abuse. One of their largest challenges is getting the word out.

They have no budget for marketing and must rely on word of mouth and community events throughout the year. When the national spotlight is on domestic abuse, it is valuable to know that there is always help.  You can find more information on their website about current programs, support, and giving opportunities.

Soundtrack Inspiration: Hillsong’s Amazing Grace, Broken Vessels

 

Feel Good Friday 9-5-14

On Fridays, in this new blog feature,  I will highlight a positive news story, article, or post. I’ll also highlight a local charity that will be part of Overcome when it is published.

The NFL isn’t always known for life-affirming actions.  Players struggle with the law. They can suffer serious injuries.  They make more in a season than most people do in a lifetime while playing a schoolyard game. This week, the Cincinnati Bengals cut and resigned defensive tackle Devon Still to their practice squad.

This happens all the time in the league, but Still’s story has a twist. His daughter, four-year-old Leah was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in June.  The team signed him to help pay for the girl’s medical treatment.  You can see an article and video piece from Good Morning America here.

 

Hope Rescue Mission

645 North Sixth Street • Reading, PA 19601
Phone (610) 375-4224 • E-Mail hopeforreading@gmail.com

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Hope was the first organization to reply to my request for a tour and interview.  The building, a former corporate property for the Reading Railroad, houses almost seventy beds spread over a dorm space and transitional housing. They have a library, chapel, cafeteria, and computer lab. They offer training in discipleship and job skills. I met with Robert Turchi, the director, and Frank Grill, the associate director. Grill took me on a tour of the buildings and his passion for the men they house was evident from the start of our conversation.

Hope also runs a thrift store and wood shop. They refurbish furniture, sell and recycle wood pallets, and operate gardens to supply vegetables in the summer. Every item is donated, from the stock of the thrift store to the food in the cafeteria. The men are trained and given jobs to offset the cost of their housing.  The average water bill for a winter season is around $18,000 dollars.

They receive no government or city support.

As I walked through, I spoke to the men and listened to their stories.  There are amazing accounts of losing everything and redefining their identities. Some of the guys were at the top of their fields and, through addictions or other factors, ended up in jail or on the streets.  Hope is making a difference in the lives of the men it houses and the city it serves. Please consider making a difference and helping them out.

You can find their website here with photos, media, staff biographies, needs, and ways to give.

If you like this post, please share with your friends and family!

~Matt