What’s the Problem?

So Israel was brought very low because of Midian, and the sons of Israel cried to the LORD.  Now it came about when the sons of Israel cried to the LORD on account of Midian, that the LORD sent a prophet to the sons of Israel, and he said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘It was I who brought you up from Egypt and brought you out from the house of slavery.  ‘I delivered you from the hands of the Egyptians and from the hands of all your oppressors, and dispossessed them before you and gave you their land, and I said to you, “I am the LORD your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But you have not obeyed Me.”‘” (Judges 6:6-10 NASB)

Before we even get to the discussion between Yahweh and Gideon, we have this setup by the author of Judges.  It’s important to know, not only what God does for His people, but the condition they are in before He helps them.  It’s a big part of the author’s point to his audience.

So, what is the condition of God’s people?  They cry out to Yahweh because of the oppression of the nomads, and He sends a prophet with a scathing message.  The word from Yahweh to His people that He has kept His side of the covenant by bringing them out of Egypt and into the land, but they have not kept their part of the covenant by not fearing the local deities.  That wasn’t the only part of the covenant, but it was a key, repeated, element of it.

So, you would expect repentance.  You would think at this point, if they’re crying out to Yahweh, they would also put away the other gods, idols, altars, practices, and what not?  You would think they would change their minds and hearts to agree with God’s mind, search out His heart.  And yet, no.  In fact, they seem confused by the prophet.  Yahweh has done all this stuff, and told them to not fear the gods of the Amorites.  But they did.

See, you’d think the prophet would even wake them up, wouldn’t you?  Sure they cry out, but don’t get exactly what they’re doing wrong.  In that case they wouldn’t know how to repent.  But when the prophet delivers his message, they still seem baffled.  If you keep this part in your mind as you read the rest of the chapter, the heart condition of these people is nearly unfathomable.  It’s so wrong it’s baffling, it can’t possibly be that bad.

This setting for the rest of Gideon’s story is critical to the author’s point.  After all, if you’re going to make a point that God is, and has always been, gracious, wouldn’t a drastic contrast between His goodness and the people’s rebellion be a good illustration?  The author doesn’t use the term “grace”.  Instead, he shows Yahweh, the God of the Sons of Israel, being gracious.

This chapter especially, is the Creator of the universe rescuing this ridiculous people of His in spite of themselves.  They are so far gone, they don’t even know they’re gone.  They have no concept of their wayward, rebellious, and adulterous ways.  They are confused by why Yahweh would be upset with them in the first place.  They are blind to their sin, completely ignorant of the problem.

And, so are we.  We don’t really believe that the Bible should be taken seriously.  We don’t.  Don’t even try to act innocent.  I spend hours weekly sifting minutia in the original texts, and I don’t really take it seriously.  It’s not about how much we know or don’t know.  It’s not about what church we attend or translation of the Bible we use.

It’s about, when we read the Beatitudes, whether we truly put such attitudes ahead of our cultural attitudes Monday through Saturday.  It’s about whether, when we read about the cost of discipleship, whether we pay it or not.  It’s about whether we truly love God, the One having already sacrificed His only Son for us, with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.  We don’t.  I know I don’t.  My behavior is evidence enough of that.

So, before we characterize these unfathomable clueless people as aberrant, perhaps we should stop, and see where we stand.  Let’s ask ourselves some tough questions, like, “Do I really believe the Bible?”, “Do I live like Jesus is first in my life?”, and perhaps ask our Master for that prophet to point out in us that blind spot in our relationship with Him.

Because here’s the thing, we will always have one more thing to work on in our relationship with Him.  But, His grace to us is evidenced in that, while we wander cluelessly, He preserves our relationship with Him.  This isn’t about being good enough for Him, it’s about clinging to the One having already loved us unfathomably.

How ridiculously obtuse is it of us to consider anything of the stuff of this earth to be of any value compared to our relationship with Him?  And yet we let our relationship with Him languish, while we pursue one more thing of this world.  Silly people, let’s put things back in proper order.  Let’s do it, not because He will punish us if we don’t, but because He has already rescued us from punishment.

That’s my view through this knothole this morning.  What do you see of our Master through yours?

Great Commissions

“And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”  And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them.  While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven.  And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God.  (Luke 24:49-53 NASB)

When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful.  And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:17-20 NASB)

Have you ever been bored?  When we consider that we’ve got all the people-groups of the world in whom to make disciples, how could we be bored.  And yet, I’m bored more often than I care to admit.  How can that be?

The “Great Commission” of Matthew 28 has a counterpart in Luke24.  While the one in Matthew is familiar, we often miss some important elements.  For instance, we’re supposed to go and make disciples.  If you would like some clarity on what that means, check out my blog entry on the topic of disciples here.  It’s not as nice and easy as it might sound.

In Luke 24, the commission sounds slightly different.  In verses 47 through 48, the commission is to proclaim repentance into forgiveness of sins to all nations in His name.  The concept of “disciples” isn’t mentioned.  That the proclamation goes into all nations is consistent.  In reality, though, repentance is what disciples do, and do for the rest of their time here on earth.  So, actually, the two commissions have more in common than appears on the surface.

All this to come back around to my original question.  Have you ever been bored?  As I mentioned, I am bored in a shameful frequency.  The sad truth is that those living close to me are probably not disciples, nor have they had “repentance into forgiveness” proclaimed to them.  At least they haven’t heard this from me.

I’m simply thinking that I can’t be bored while my neighbors haven’t heard.  If they’ve heard and reject, that’s one thing.  But if I haven’t even tried, then why would I be bored? If I really believe Jesus is all I teach in this blog, then I should be busier telling others about repentance into forgiveness.

What’s your view through your knothole this morning?

Passion Week XXIV

But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed.  The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.”  And he went out and wept bitterly.

Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking Him and beating Him, and they blindfolded Him and were asking Him, saying, “Prophesy, who is the one who hit You?”  And they were saying many other things against Him, blaspheming. (Luke 22:60-65 NASB)

Only in Luke does Jesus look directly at Peter when the rooster crows.  It’s probably a literary device for heightened dramatic effect.  But it’s also inspired Scripture.  To ask if Jesus did or didn’t misses the point.  The point is made in the combination of verses 31 through 34 with these verses.  Yes, Jesus predicted Peter’s denial.  But He also prayed for Peter’s faith, that he would return and strengthen his brothers.  Left by itself, without the additional context of verses 31 through 34, this can seem to be Jesus’ accusing stare.  But with the context it can be better understood as Jesus’ understanding and encouraging stare.

Peter had wandered away from his intent in the courtyard.  He had been sifted like wheat.  It was brutal.  It was a testing few of us have had to endure with such stakes.  Arguments can be made that he didn’t have the Holy Spirit at the time; Peter didn’t have the death, burial, and resurrection to bolster his understanding at the time; or whatever we can come up with to explain Peter’s struggle in the courtyard.  Whatever our explanation, the truth is that he failed to acknowledge his relationship with Jesus, and so have we.  The additional truth is that Jesus already saw that part, but looked forward to Peter’s return, and so He does with us.

What I gain from this is a view of something my Master has given me as a purpose.  He has told me that I am to wait, worship, and walk before Him.  Part of the truth of that third element is that, when I too fail, my Master looks right at me.  When I fail, my Master locks eyes with me.  He doesn’t turn away.  He doesn’t ignore what I did.  He doesn’t point a finger, but looks into my eyes, the windows of my soul.  And I believe He acknowledges that it’s time for the next step, returning.  His look is not accusatory, not a look of disappointment, not a look of disdain or rejection.  His look is one of understanding and invitation.  It’s time to return.  This is part of “walking before Him”, not that I won’t fail as I do, but that as I fail in in His presence, He calls me back.

Peter remembers his Master predicting his failure.  He leaves and weeps bitterly.  But he returns.  In the moment, it’s not about his return.  In the moment the rooster crows, and Jesus looks into his eyes, all Peter can think of is his failure.  He was sifted and found lacking.  The accuser shouts in his head that he failed, and is not worthy to even follow Jesus, perhaps even that what’s happening to Jesus is somehow Peter’s fault.  He weeps bitterly.  Judas will feel remorse and weep bitterly, but from there the paths diverge.  Peter returns and strengthens his brothers.  Judas does not.  Both betrayed Jesus in a sense.  But only one returned.

Feel the stare of Jesus.  Look into His eyes.  When you fail, stumble, or fall, what will you do?  Will you look into the eyes of Jesus and think only of your failure?  Or will you hear His voice calling you back, and when you have returned, strengthen your family of fellow believers?  It’s okay that your failure distracts you and to weep bitterly.  But don’t let it consume you.  Your Master calls you back.  We need your strengthening.

I was going to go on about how ironic it was for the guards to ask Jesus to prophesy who hit Him.  He had just had a recent prediction come to completion with Peter’s denial.  But this sort of wrote itself.  It was ironic.  I’ll leave it at that.  Now, Jesus is calling you back.  What will you do?

What’s your view of Jesus through your knothole?

Passion Week XXIII

Having arrested Him, they led Him away and brought Him to the house of the high priest; but Peter was following at a distance.  After they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter was sitting among them.  And a servant-girl, seeing him as he sat in the firelight and looking intently at him, said, “This man was with Him too.”  But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”  A little later, another saw him and said, “You are one of them too!” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!”  After about an hour had passed, another man began to insist, saying, “Certainly this man also was with Him, for he is a Galilean too.”  But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed.  (Luke 22:54-60 NASB)

This is perhaps one of the most striking depictions of Peter in Scripture.  It is so important to the good news of salvation through Jesus that it makes it into every Gospel record.  Each is different, but each records a version of it.  Isn’t it interesting that Peter’s denial of Jesus is given such importance?  Why would that be?  Why is Peter’s failure to follow Jesus all the way to the cross so important?  It wasn’t like he was unique among the other disciples, none of them went to the cross with Jesus either.  They all fled Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested.

But Peter is caught between what he wants to be, knows he should be, and his fears.  He’s close, but afraid to be closer.  He wants to know what’s happening, what will happen, but not willing to endanger himself.  In John the ironies are pronounced as John lets Jesus in and is there as well, but isn’t bothered.  People already know him, and seem to have no problem with him.  But Peter fears being known and associated with Jesus.

Peter finds it easier to deny his association than risk not knowing what happens to Jesus.  But then the denials become the focus, and he’s less concerned about knowing what happens.  Eventually Peter discovers he’s sold out just as predicted, and leaves, not knowing what happens to Jesus.  He fails to get what he wants by trying to protect his getting what he wants.   He wants to be that strong follower of Jesus, to be that one who goes to the very end.  But Peter discovers that he doesn’t have it in him.

How is this not a depiction of us?   Which of us has not denied our association with Jesus for far less?   When have we’ve resisted bringing up our faith in conversations with our neighbors and family, or perhaps we’ve skipped church or personal time with Jesus to be around our friends, go on a vacation, or have “family time”?  How often have we made clear our priorities, and where our relationship with Jesus falls in those priorities, when we subordinated Jesus to everyone else in our life?

Jesus loves us.  He’ll understand and forgive.  We can treat Him this way.  We somehow convince ourselves we get away with it.  Think about that.  What does that even mean?  How do we get away with it?   Can we really have convinced ourselves that we can suffer no consequences for living with Jesus as a minimal priority?  Seriously?

Peter understood and wept bitterly when he discovered what he had done.  He felt remorse.  But more, he returned to the disciples.  In the beginning of the song, What if I stumble by DC Talk, Brennan Manning can be heard saying,

The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door and deny Him with their lifestyle.   That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.

So, yes, Peter denies Jesus three times, just as Jesus said he would.  And so do we.  The question for Peter was what he would do with that failure.  And so it is for us.  Will we continue to live in that manner, or feel remorse but go no further than feeling?  Or will we, like Peter return to our brothers and sisters to strengthen them?  Jesus has prayed for us, and continues to pray for us, that our faith might be strengthened.

Jesus wants us to return after failure.  He doesn’t want us to remain in the failure, believing that His understanding us means there will be no consequences.  He wants us to treasure our relationship with Him so highly that everything that endangers that relationship is too much for us to bear.  Jesus wants the loss or diminishing of our relationship with Him to be consequence enough.  But in case you believe that there would be nothing beyond that, please read this:

“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.  But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33 NASB)

Brennan Manning’s statement may be sobering, but please let this be terrifying.  Do we we really think risking being denied before the Father in heaven is worth whatever discomfort we avoid here?  It certainly isn’t comfortable to deny Jesus with our lives.  For a while it nags at us.  Fear the day it stops nagging at us.  Return!  If we deny Him three times, return!  If we live as if we are dead, return!  If we have chosen to drift with the current of this world, return!  Return to Him, and He will rescue us.  Return to Him and His love will extend to us.  He will restore those who return, He will certainly do it.  But we must return.  We must.

That’s my view through this knothole.  What do you learn of our Master from Peter?

Forgiveness

“Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.  And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” (Luke 17:3-4 NASB)

Forgiveness is one of those things Christians are supposed to do that we work really hard to find a way around.  I think we normally ignore the requirement.  Sometimes, increasing our depth of commitment to Jesus, we redefine forgiveness so that we are able to do it.  Rarely do we truly forgive as Jesus intended nor with the the frequency or priority that He places on it.  Rarely.  In fact, we’ve probably done so much damage to the concept few of us really understand it any more.

Boundaries is a book and a teaching by Henry Cloud and John Townsend in which they teach how to set appropriate boundaries in our relationships with others and ourselves.  It’s actually quite biblical.  Few have read it.  Many use the term, and most misuse the term.  Boundaries have become our favorite method of “side-stepping” forgiveness.  We don’t forgive because we can’t let someone violate our boundaries.  Or we redefine forgiveness so that we can say we have forgiven yet not violated our boundaries.

The reality is that we have set up walls and Cloud and Townsend taught that boundaries are to be fences; fences with gates.  The truth is that Cloud and Townsend teach about forgiveness in the book and how to forgive with appropriate boundaries.  The reality they point out is that unless we forgive, we actually keep stuff that isn’t ours inside our boundaries.  Forgiving is setting and maintaining appropriate boundaries.  But we fear and the fear supersedes the teaching of Jesus in Scripture.

The word forgiveness in Greek is “aphiemi”, which has a basic meaning of “to send away”.  It’s used for cancelling debt (to send the amount owed away), leave (to go away), abandon (to leave someone), send away, to divorce (to send away a wife/spouse), and to forgive.  Think about the irony in that forgiveness is the same word used for divorce.  The meaning is really derived from what is being sent away.  And I believe Jesus teaches pretty clearly what we are to send away in order to forgive.

Matthew 18 has Peter asking how many times should he forgive, suggesting 49 times.  Jesus pushes the number to 490.  But He also ties forgiveness to being forgiven by God.  That was probably as unexpected as the 490.  In Matthew 6, in explaining the Model Prayer, Jesus says that if we do not forgive we will not be forgiven.  So in Luke we see this simple summary of Matthew’s expansion in chapter 18.  Someone repents seven times, forgive seven times.  Think that through.  That would mean we would forgive repeat offenders.

Forgiveness isn’t simply something that we should do because it’s ‘good’.  Forgiveness is something we should do because it’s necessary.   Forgiveness is necessary for us to be disciples of Jesus.  What else do you think Jesus meant when He said that we would not be forgiven if we don’t forgive?  However you answer that, the answer has to include not being His disciple.  In such a case, repentance would be to forgive the person we had refused to forgive. In that case forgiveness would be ours as well.  Forgiveness is tied to repentance so closely as to be dependent. But it’s often our own repentance rather than another’s.

I believe Jesus calls us, as His disciples, to send away our resentments.  Resentments are kept on the roll-call of grievances we hold against others.  These resentments define other people in our minds and hearts.  Other people, like we us, grow and develop, and deepen their walk with Jesus.  That roll-call of grievances refuses to permit Jesus to define them for us.  We only see them as they were, not as the Holy Spirit is transforming them now.  We refuse to acknowledge their growth.

Such a view doesn’t prevent them from growing, but it does make their growth more difficult; to the degree of our continued proximity to them.  So you have a good idea of the severity of this problem, check out verses 1 and 2 of this chapter.  It would be better for the unforgiving one to swim with a millstone.  And I suspect that for us who struggle to forgive, it is a lot like swimming with a millstone.  Jesus calls us to send the rock away and swim freely with our fellow forgiven disciples.

So, that’s one view through a knothole.  What do you see and learn from these verses?

Why Lazarus is Silent

“Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried.   In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.  And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’  But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.  And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’  And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house– for I have five brothers– in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’  But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’  But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’  But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.'” (Luke 16:22-31 NASB)

Have you ever thought about why the only character named never says anything in this parable?  I have (shocker).  I’m not sure I’ve figured it out, but I suspect it has do with Jesus (another shocker – can your heart take it?).  Okay, duh, of course it has to do with Jesus, He’s the One telling the parable, but I mean beyond that.  I think it has to do with the role of Jesus in our lives as believers.

What drew my attention to that possible explanation was the last statement of Abraham which obviously refers to Jesus’ resurrection.  That reference to resurrection is more than the event, it’s the meaning.  The reference is to the role it plays in increasing our faith, or at least the faith of those who already have faith.  Did you catch that element?  The brothers won’t believe someone rising from the dead if they don’t already believe Moses and the Prophets.  Part of what the resurrection of Jesus does is increase the faith of His followers.  I know, duh again.

What that got me thinking about was my own desire to justify myself (which is what Jesus accuses the Pharisees of earlier).  Jesus justifies does He not?  So I don’t need to justify myself.  In this parable, Abraham fills that role.  He justifies Lazarus to the rich man who ignored him his whole life.  So Lazarus doesn’t say anything in this parable because he doesn’t need to.

What if I let God defend me?  What if I followed the pattern of Jesus before the Sanhedrin, before Pilate, before Herod, and just refused to defend myself?  Not very American of me is it? (and there was applause in Europe)  I like to defend myself.  I feel competent to defend myself.  I waste my time defending myself!  Think about it, I have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus!  What am I going to do to top Him?  Better arguments, better understanding of the people involved, situation leading up to and following, what?  I waste my time.

Lazarus is at peace.  Perhaps he wasn’t at peace as dogs licked his sores.  But in the bosom of Abraham he’s at peace.  What would be the danger of living my life like that now?  People would accuse me of pride and arrogance, but I’m silent.  I’d be accused of baseless groundless belief, and I’d be silent.  I’m a bad leader, and I simply take their shoes off and wash their feet.  No PowerPoint slides, no graphics or charts, no clever bullet points, just silence.  What if?

I used to live about an hour from the school I attended in Texas back in the 90’s.  My wife and I would jet out of the house early and try and beat the rush-hour traffic into town to get to class.  One day, the stress of it was particularly bad, I wasn’t able to drive my desired 65 in a 55, or whatever, and I just decided to drive 55…exactly 55.  In fact I may have been a smidgen below that.  Stress gone.  I’m no longer competing for the next spot on the off-ramp, I’m no longer trying to keep someone from getting between me and the person in front of me I’m tailgating.  Peace.  Okay, I had to leave earlier to make it work, but not much earlier.  As it turns out, 55 makes a pretty good average speed when the freeway is crowded.  My point is this, once I stopped trying to make my own way, God made a way for me.

So I’m learning the lesson of Lazarus: There’s no need to contend for your own justice.  This frees me up to do stuff like forgive others.  I see my forgiven state much more clearly when I stop trying to cover up or explain what needs to be forgiven.  Funny how that works.  It’s something I need to repent of or actually repent toward.  Stop defending myself.  Go ahead and attack me.  My Defender is my Master.  I stand, or fall, because of Him, not my own ability to reason my way out of my predicaments.  It’s scary to trust Him with that, but there’s so much peace that goes along with it.  It’s kind of nice really.

So if you’re looking for me, I’ll be resting in the bosom of Jesus.  You’ll have to talk to Him if you have any issues with me; He’s handling my personal “complaint department” today.

That was my view today, what do you learn from this parable?

Are the Pharisees “Saved”?

Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him.  Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” (Lk. 15:1-2 NAU)

And He said, “A man had two sons.” (Lk. 15:11 NAU)

We spend a lot of time snickering at the Pharisees described in the Gospels.  Jesus seems merciless in His denouncement of them many times.  And here, Jesus responds to their “grumbling” with a series of parables. But rather than say, as Jesus has before, that being descendant from Abraham won’t “save” you, Jesus seems to include them as sons, and “good sons” at that.  So are Pharisees “saved”? Or just these? Or is Jesus just making a different point about acceptance?

Keep in mind that Luke is writing to a different audience, a Gentile audience.  This audience of Luke has suffered at the hands of Jewish believers or Jews in general who sometimes required Jewish custom as part of the life of a believer.  This tension between the groups can be seen often in Acts and in the letters of Paul to various churches in both Europe and Asia.  It wasn’t simply a local problem centered around once church or city.

What makes this question all the more interesting is the preceding statements of Jesus about the cost of discipleship.  Those costs would beg the question whether these Pharisees and scribes have paid that cost.  I’m also asking this question with the understanding that the point of all three parables is the joy expressed by God over a repentant soul, and the invitation to join Him.  It’s not about whether the Pharisees and scribes were “saved” in any sense.  It’s about them welcoming back these sinners and tax collectors without expecting more punishment for them than they’ve already experienced.

The reason I’m exploring this is I sense that, while I’m expected to rejoice over the repentant, I’m not included in those who are rejoiced over when they repent.  In once sense I feel like an example of the younger brother who doesn’t get a party when he repents. Now, to use the setting of this parable (or abuse it, you decide), it’s isn’t that I’ve taken my inheritance into a far country.  Instead I’ve stayed home and run the family farm into the ground.  I suppose in one sense I reached a point where me and “dad” were sitting on the porch looking out over the desolation of what used to be a thriving farm.

I say this to bring up a point.  If the roles were switched, would the sinners and tax collectors rejoice over repentant Pharisees?  I think that had the older brother come in the house, the younger brother would have been grateful, but would he have rejoiced over what it took for the older brother to come in?  I don’t know if I’ve made this clear or not, but basic need for a “repentance party” isn’t restricted to the ones who travel out and come back.  Sometimes those who simply made a “local mess” want one too.  I believe that in heaven, when the “local sinning Pharisee” repents, they get a party too.

So, at the risk of wallowing in self-pity, and sounding like someone missed my birthday, let me just say that I’m not referring to a recent event.  You’re not likely to find something like what I’m referring to in my blog entries or even in my comments on other blogs.  It’s more like a regret from a former part of my life that still aches from time to time.  I hope I never make the mistake of not rejoicing over a repentant soul, regardless of how far or how close they’ve been.

Oh, and I believe the answer to the question is no.  Do you remember the question?  What’s your view through this knothole?