Thursday, March 11, 2010


Not everyone is a fan of William Shakespeare’s writing, but I’ll tell you, the man knew a lot about love. I often wonder about the true inspiration behind some of Shakespeare’s sonnets and even some of the characters in his plays.

Like anything, the meaning behind a poem or phrase will be different for everyone, but there’s a certain aspect of Shakespeare’s text that focuses my mind on God. Now, you probably think me daft at this moment, in fact, if you would have told me years ago when I was struggling to understand Julius Caesar in Miss Rife’s 10th grade English class that I would be sitting here typing about how much sense Shakespeare makes, I would have laughed and called you some derivative of crazy. However, here I am, typing just that; Shakespeare makes a lot of sense.

Take for example the following excerpt from Shakespeare’s 116th sonnet:

“Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds or bends with the remover to remove, Oh no, it is an ever fix-ed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken…”

For those of you that are sitting there staring mindlessly at this, I will take a quick moment and paraphrase the above:

“You cannot claim to love someone if there is something out there that could make you stop loving that person. Love is something that is 100% steadfast, guaranteed and can, without a doubt, weather any storm that it placed in its path…”

Or, to break it down even further:

“Unconditional love”.

If you read through the Bible, there are countless occasions where you would think that God would give up on people. The Israelites, God’s chosen people, are a prime example. What an ungrateful, whiney bunch of miscreants! Now, I guess that is a bit judgmental of me, but seriously, they were rotten to the core, or at least there were those among them that were and the others did not have enough sense among them not to be led astray. God had more than enough just cause to turn His back on them, but He loved them and so He forgave them tyme and tyme again.

Then there was King David who had more faith than most and was a true friend to God, but He messed up. He went from a devoted shepherd boy turned king to a liar, murderer and adulterer in the blink of an eye! Just like that he broke three of God’s most sacred commandments, but once again, God forgave. David admitted his sins and begged for forgiveness and God granted it. There were, of course, consequences that he had to deal with, but God was there to see David through because He loved him and that love could not be shaken.

Another phrase that comes to mind as I write on this topic of unconditional love and forgiveness is a quote from the 18th century poet Alexander Pope:

“To err is human, to forgive, divine”
As I’m writing this entry, I am also conversing with one of my dearest friends about certain things that have happened in our lives over the last several years. While we have different view points on some of the happenings and different opinions on certain incidences, we can sit and calmly discuss our thoughts and feelings.

As I listen to what she has to say it occurs to me that Alexander Pope had it right.

“To err is human”…or “Everyone is going to mess up…”,

“To forgive, divine”… or “forgiving someone is something that can only come from God”.

Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”.

So, we come in to this world as sinners, we simply don’t measure up to the ideal that God set. We let Him down on a regular basis, but guess what, He forgives us! He forgave the Israelites, He forgave David, and He forgives all of us when we ask Him to! His ability to forgive us, whether the offense is great or small, comes from His unconditional love for us. He made us and He wants us with Him someday. Through Jesus, He created a way for that to happen. He knows we cannot be perfect and, though He expects us to strive to be as good as we can be, He forgives us when we falter and He loves us no matter what.

As I draw these conclusions I cannot help but wonder why the people we love the most are often the hardest to forgive. It is this question that forces me to ask myself if there is anyone in my life that I need to ask God to help me forgive. Is there someone that deserves or perhaps doesn’t deserve, but is entitled to that unconditional love that God has for me? I encourage you to ask this same question of yourself and upon your response, pray and act accordingly. You’ll be surprised what wonders a little bit of prayer and forgiveness will do!



Actions, Reactions and Consequences, Oh My!

Did you ever see that commercial where one person is having major computer issues when someone walks into his office and says, “Good morning Dave”. The computer issue guy is so frustrated that he mocks the polite co-worker. The co-worker storms off because of the rudeness and knocks into another co-worker on her way through, spilling that co-worker’s coffee all down his shirt. In turn, that co-worker retaliates against the person he thinks ran into him and before you know it, everyone in the office is in a knockdown, drag-out fight, all because someone was having computer problems.

While the commercial, I think it is for cable internet service, is a bit amusing, it really depicts an important principle in life. What we do and say has consequences!

Now before you start thinking about me sitting up here on my high horse, let me be the first to admit that I am the guiltiest of all when it comes to this topic. I am stepping on my own toes when I say that we, as Christians, need to be mindful of the words we say because we never know who might hear us, one exception, of course, and that is God. We take pleasure in knowing that God always hears us when we pray, but God’s omnipotent hearing doesn’t end there. God hears us all the tyme whether we’re praying or mocking our neighbor, talking to Him or yelling at the cable man for being late to the appointment; God hears us.

Tonight my five-year old nephew started singing a song that I’d heard before, but had not thought about in a long tyme:

“Oh be careful little mouth what you say
Oh be careful little mouth what you say
For the Father up above is looking down with love
Oh be careful little mouth what you say”

That simple, little song holds more impact than a baseball on its way out of the park. It tells us, in an economic nutshell, that God is listening to us and we need to be on our best behavior.

I remember one tyme, not too long ago, I was in a store that was undergoing a major remodel and, to add insult to injury, if you will, seemed short of personnel. Suffice it to say that the forty or so of us that were ready to check out at this particular moment in tyme were non-too happy about the fact that there were only two checkout lines available. As we waited and waited and waited, the lady in front of me was becoming more and more, to put it politely, vocally miffed about the situation.

As we inched toward the checkout, I stood there listening to her complaints and, having quite the few of my own, decided that I had two choices. I could pipe up and agree with her, adding more misery to the situation or I could try to absolve her misery and send her about her day with a more positive outlook.

“This sure is taking a while”, I finally said, “but ya know, if waiting in line is the worst thing that happens in my day, I’m doin’ alright!”

At first my fellow shopper looked at me crossly, but her expression soon softened.

“I just consider myself fortunate to have a store to go to. There are a lot people out there that wish they could stand in a long line to buy food”, I concluded.

The lady considered me for a moment before nodding in agreement. She admitted that she’d never thought about it that way. We had a nice conversation from that point on and by the tyme we got to the register the lady’s attitude was completely transformed. Where contempt once resided, appreciation now lived and that lady left the store with a smile.

I could have helped my fellow shopper make everyone’s day miserable. I could have said mean things about the store. I could have called the people working there all kinds of mean names to indicate my distaste for wasting my tyme, but I didn’t. In that moment God gave me the attitude of a disciple and showed me how to use my words and actions to help rather than hinder. It was only through Him that I could see beyond my own dissatisfaction long enough to listen and allow Him to work. By the tyme He was finished, and it didn’t take long, he had not only alleviated my frustrations, but also the frustrations of others in the store.


I heard a story one day about a prominent man in a church who, when the oil man, Steve, showed up to fill the church tank, cussed him out for letting the tank go empty in the first place. This man treated him so poorly that when the Steve got done for the day, he went home and made a decision about something he’d been thinking about for a while.

Every week Steve’s neighbor would invite him to go to church and every week the Steve would promise to think about it. Needless to say, the next tyme the neighbor asked, Steve’s answer was no. He said he saw what church did to people and he wanted no part of it. The man of the church used words that had severe consequences. His actions did not display a Christian-like countenance and in turn pushed a soul away from God instead of bringing it to Him.

Now perhaps the man of the church was having a bad day, it happens to all of us. Unfortunately, as Christians we are not entitled to your run-of-the-mill bad day. We are held to a much higher standard because we are spokespeople for God and God does not have bad days. He is consistent.

It is hard to say how many people will be turned off by how the man of the church acted. Steve might tell a friend about it and that friend won’t ever want to go to church. The friend will tell another friend and before you know it, a whole group of people are fighting God like the people in that internet commercial were fighting each other.

People are constantly watching Christians, some looking to be guided on the right path, others waiting for us to stumble so they can blame God for our shortcomings, but they are always watching and we need to be mindful of the things we do and say around them. It isn’t easy and we won’t always succeed, but the point is, we need to try because after all our lives might be the only “Bible” a person ever reads!