Cookies, bikes and forgiveness

When I was 5 I told a cousin that they were going to hell for something they were doing. I think it had to do with a bicycle or a cookie, both very important things to a 5 year old.

Since then I read this.

“7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

In the 52 years since then I have changed my position. I hope that they don’t go to hell. In fact I hope they ask Jesus to forgive them and they go to heaven.

I cannot, in the few minutes I spent researching to write this, find proof of this but I believe that was Jesus was saying in this passage is do not condemn to hell another person. Do not condemn.

Later in this chapter we see the the golden rule. The one rule that if we follow it we will also be following all the other rules.

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

I don’t want to be condemned to hell. I will not condemn my cousin, or anyone else to hell. There are people that make me crazy but I must treat them not as they deserve but as I want to treated. This is hard stuff.

Not doing so well with this this morning.

I am today just as I was when I was 5 in need of forgiveness of my own.

Father forgive my sin. Help me forgive others.

Light dispels darkness

Was it my fear of the dark that eventually led me to become an electrician? It could just be a coincidence. It still thrills me to go through the process of wiring and conduit and termination of devices, to get to the reveal-drumroll- -click- then let there be light!

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1 John 1:5-7

Electricians participate in what God started at the beginning of creation. He said “let there be light” and there was light. Since God is light, does that mean he just entered the void where nothing was and just him being there brought light? Or did he create light that would be part of creation?

I don’t know and I suppose it doesn’t matter. What matters is that God is light, his character is light. That’s one of the scary things about him. We can’t hide in the shadows, we can’t cover or shade ourselves AND be in his presence. He is light, exposing us his exposure is not intended to shame us, (shame not being the impetus for repentance) but to make us aware of our own condition, our own direction, so we can repent and get set right and get cleaned up.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1 John 1:5-7

I get dressed in our basement in the morning. I dress in one room then turn off the light as I leave and head for the stairs up and out. Many times the darkness disorients me, I can’t find the stairs or the switch for the lights and I have walked into the walls and or tripped. What if once I found the switch and could see the way up and out, I refused the updated information and continued on my misguided path? that would be silly. So it is when we meet with God and refuse the information that his light of revelation brings us.

Jesus, being God also has character of light.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

This quote comes directly after Jesus defended a woman caught in adultery. His light exposed her sin but did not condemn her for it, instead he forgave her.

Someday this light will light the earth , until that day…? What will we do with the light we have experienced that did not condemn but forgave, forgives us? Will we share it? Will we use it? Will we spread it as we share the good news of what Jesus has done in us and can do for anyone else who will confess and believe?

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.
Revelation 21:22-24

Godislight #1john1

One way in

Jesus has an exclusive. It is Jesus plus nothing, and Jesus or nothing.

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched —this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.
1 John 1:1-4

There is no one else who can truthfully claim to be the Word of life.

Jesus said in John’s Gospel “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 14:6

Our culture wants to downgrade Jesus, to make him one of many ways to God, but that is not what he said. He said we can’t get to the Father without going through him. Can Jesus lie and still be perfect? Can he exaggerate and still be sinless? Can he be mistaken and still be trustworthy? It looks like I have a choice to make, he can’t be one of many if he said he is THE way, THE truth and THE life. I choose to believe what he said about himself.

John also said this about Jesus in his Gospel “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
John 1:1-5

I can’t imagine how cool it would be to hang out with Jesus. John, the writer of this Book was a close friend, maybe the closest friend of Jesus. “We heard him, seen him, touched him…” He’ll say it again, “seen and heard”. John was an eyewitness to Jesus’ ministry. He was one of 3 who got to see him transfigured on the the mountain top.

“Make our joy complete. “ John’s joy was to see people believing in Jesus and being saved. Our family, my dads side, us four siblings, any cousins and aunts and uncles we can gather will be meeting again this year. Loeffelbein’s are descendants of German immigrants. Our family has a history of being hard working industrious people. We know how to work. We don’t know as well how to play, how to relax. We are learning. We do enjoy getting together. There is sweet fellowship. There is family love.

Fellowship with God will be like this except beyond it, way way beyond it. Love that knows no boundaries or limits. Love that knows us completely, faults and fears, failures and foibles and still loves us completely. Engulfed in love, like the security of a warm newborn swaddle and the freedom of a moonlight skinny dip, blended together in perfection. I believe that I cannot fully comprehend what fellowship with God will be but I think it will be like the garden of Eden, fully exposed and unashamed. We receive Jesus not only to escape hell and avoid its tortures but to gain fellowship, with each other, the family of God, and with God our Father.

Jesus knew that sweet fellowship before he left heaven. He left that to come here to earth, to to live and love and serve, and in completion of that service, to suffer and die for our sins, for my sins, then raise to life again and go to back to heaven to intercede for me and make ready a place for me to spend eternity.

Today the Word of life is reaching out to each one of us. What will we do with his offer of forgiveness of sin and eternal fellowship with a God who loves us more and better than we can know or deserve?

Hallowed

Anthropomorphism. I do it all the time. It means to give human characteristics to non-human things. I do voices for our dogs to explain their facial expressions or their behavior. I do it for my truck Rusty, ascribing to him traits he doesn’t really have, or feelings or even masculinity. ( trucks are in fact gender neutral, but don’t tell Rusty).

When I looked up the word to make sure I was getting it right it said anthropomorphism is something we do to non-human things, especially deity, gods.

That’s strange for me to write deity, like there are a multitude of gods. I believe there is only one God and he exists in 3 persons but that’s not what I want to write about.

Matthew 6 has the prayer in it that we call the Lord’s Prayer.

I’ll quote it here in context but I really only want to look at the first line of the prayer.

“5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
but deliver us from the evil one.[b]’
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Hallowed be your name. Why would Jesus recommend we start our prayers like that? Hallowed. It isn’t a word we use often. It means revered or holy. Holy is a word that grasps the meaning for me. Holy means separate or special or “other”.

All we see around us, all we can know or experience, is all part of the things God created but God himself is not part of his creation. He is holy, he is other, he is not from around here, he is different. Jesus knew our propensity to anthropomorphize things around us to help us understand them, but we cannot treat God that way. We cannot understand God better by attributing to him human characteristics. He made us in his image, it doesn’t work to return the favor and recreate him in our image. One reason for that is that that puts limits on God and God is limitless. When we sit down to pray and we start out by stating, “God, you are not from around here, you are not limited like I am, you are not a created being, instead, you are the creator, you are separate from us and yet you love us and joined yourself to us in Jesus, you became God in the flesh, you are to be hallowed, you are so awesome and great and fantastic that it makes me want to worship you”.

Once I have established that mind set, then I can get on with my prayer. I can pray for his kingdom to advance in our world because I believe only he knows what is best and can do what is best. I can ask for my needs to be met, I can ask to be forgiven, I can ask for guidance and protection because I am talking to my God, the creator of the universe.

Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Good news/Bad news

The good news / bad news of Matthew 5.

Matthew 5 starts out with the beatitudes.

“3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

I like what I hear until I get to verse 10. I’m challenged by 10-12. I guess I kind of want to think about persecution as a surprise and not an expected upcoming event. You can’t surprise God. And he doesn’t want us surprised by negative push back. Persecution will come.

Who can reject the gospel message? Who would ? I mean the very word gospel means good news. Who doesn’t want good news? Well unfortunately along with the good news there is bad news. The good news is that God loved us so much that he sent his son to die for us. The bad news is that before we can receive Gods gift of forgiveness, we have to confess that we need to be forgiven. Everyone wants the forgiveness but not everyone wants to admit that they need forgiveness. Some people who have been hurt refuse the message of forgiveness because if they can be forgiven then so can the ones that hurt them. Everyone is invited to be forgiven. Not everyone will take God up on his offer. Some will rather damage or destroy the good news bearer than to hear and receive the message.

We are all in the same race. The human race. It’s a race that we all lose. We all lose to death. There was one who died and then came back from death. Jesus. If the race was to live life without sinning then there was the same one, Jesus, who lived his life as a man without sin. He is offering us to share in victories both over death and over sin.

There are many challenges in chapter 5. If we think our life is free if the “big sins”, he tells us that if we hated someone then we have killed that person in our hearts. If we have never touched another person sexually, but we thought about it, we committed the deed in our heart. It’s in the heart where sin is born and if our hands are clean but our hearts are dirty then we are dirty.

2 more challenges.

“43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Love our enemies and pray for the very person who is persecuting us? That is a challenge.

The last verse is the topper. Being perfect. How can I be perfect? My heart goes places my hands will never go and God sees that. How can I be perfect?

I’ve heard it said that you do not have to be Good to get into heaven. You do not have to be good……you have to be perfect.

How can a sinner like me be perfect?

Jesus.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

The bad news is we all need be forgiven. The good news is that God has already done that in Jesus

Grow

2 Peter, the last two verses, “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

2 Peter 3:17-18

These verses, especially verse 18, are significant to me.

When I was in my early 20s, an older guy took me under his wing and mentored me in my new faith in Jesus. He was a friend of the family, a dentist in the next town over. He would come over to our little cafe in the evening, once a week and lead a Bible study. He didn’t directly bring me to Salvation but he was around when I was saved, he did pray for me to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and he encouraged me to grow as a Christian by asking me to memorize verse 18 of 2 Peter, chapter 3.

I wasn’t part of his church (yet). But he invested in my life anyway. Thank you Floyd Jacobson for sharing your life, and your savior with me.

The second reason that this verse is significant is because of what it says.

Grow.

Get bigger. Expand. Mature. Take up more space in. In Grace. Grace, unmerited favor. Whose favor? God’s favor. Why? Because the world, my own evil desires and rebellious heart, along with the hateful and destructive enemy of my soul will be actively trying to shrink, kill, distract and destruct my faith. I need to be even more actively involved and invested in my relationship with Jesus, keeping it alive and growing.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever and he is always worthy of praise and glory, yesterday today and forever.

Ever heard of the phrase “to know me is to love me”? That phrase has never been truer than when we apply it to Jesus. To grow in the knowledge of Jesus is to grow in love and trust of Jesus. There is no darkness or shadow or even a variation in him. As I’m writing these things about Jesus I am convicted that I don’t always apply this knowledge to my own life. I encourage myself then too, to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, to him be the glory, both now and forevermore, do you agree?

Not The wooden spoon holding God

Fellow followers of Jesus, A reminder of our call and our mission:

“For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”
2 Cor 5:19-20 NLT

I recently met A man with the last name Loeffelholz. The first part of his name is the same as mine, it means spoon in German. I asked him what holz meant, he said wooden. I imagine his family some time in the past made wooden spoons.

Wooden spoons paints a picture in my head. In our house when our kids were little we used wooden spoons for our spanking spoon.

Some folks see God as an old cranky guy holding a giant wooden spoon, saying in a craggy growl, “come here you! You need a spanking!” For Some one who doesn’t know God, that image is understandable but I think sometimes as believers we see God that way, or hope he is that way- with everyone else. We know we were excepted in love and grace and forgiven our sins, but we want others to get marched out to the wood shed and get a good whooping with Gods wooden spoon. Maybe it’s just me that thinks like that.

But that’s not what he is doing. And we, or should I say I, need to change my way of thinking. I need to remember how gentle God has been with me and extend that grace to others, especially those who don’t know Him yet. I need to be in the business of reconciliation. Reconciling the lost back into the warm embrace of our Heavenly Father.

God in 3 persons

Part of the Lutheran liturgy came to mind this morning.

“Holy holy holy, Lord God almighty, all thy works shall praise thy name in earth and sky and sea, Only thou art holy, there is none besides thee, God in three persons, blessed trinity.”

Oops, it’s not liturgy, I guess it’s a hymn. We sang it so often it became familiar, like the liturgy does.

I grew up believing in God. I have since childhood believed that this God is one God in 3 persons.

Today I read about it in Matthew 3.

“13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

So here we see God the son, Jesus, God the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, and God the Father in the voice that was heard. One God in 3 persons.

We don’t have a plethora of gods to sort through when we pray like so many cultures do. We have one God. He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I have believed in God since childhood, but believing he exists and knowing and trusting him as my savior are two different things. I received him as savior when I realized that I couldn’t be good enough and God knew that and gave Jesus his son to pay for my sin. I confessed my need and received forgiveness all in an instant standing next to the dishwasher in my parents cafe.

Have you received Jesus as your savior yet? Today would be a good day to do that. He is waiting for you.

Dream, dream dream dream

It’s a new year so I started a new book. I started reading the book of Matthew. In the first 2 chapters one thing stood out to me. While in the Christmas story in Luke, angels are speaking directly to Zacharias and to Mary, in Matthew, Joseph is spoken to through dreams. There are 4 dreams recorded in the just these chapters.

As I was driving home yesterday listening to the radio I was reminded of another bible character named Joseph, (my daughter Lizzy used to pronounce it Jo-fiss). He was Jacob’s son, the favored son, the son of his much beloved wife Rachel. He was also a dreamer. Not in the sense that he lazed around just thinking about stuff, but that God gave him prophetic dreams, and gave him the ability to interpret other peoples dreams. He was able to be used to interpret Pharoh’s dream and it landed him at the number two position in Egypt.

Dreams. God has used dreams in my life to help guide me and my family. He used one dream to let us know that it was time to leave the church denomination that I was raised in and find a new one, one that emphasized salvation by grace, that taught the bible and that would help me raise my children to know Jesus as their savior.

God used another dream to let me know that my food service career was coming to end. That was a scary time but He was faithful and we never missed a meal or a house payment.

God is still speaking and moving. God is still gathering his people, still guiding and providing for his people. Sometimes he speaks through dreams. Always he speaks through his word and through his Holy Spirit.

As I imagine the scene of the angel of God visiting the house of Joseph and finding him asleep. I think about the hard physical labor involved in being a carpenter in the first century. Every step of forming wood into a table, or a chair, or just the process of making a tree into a board so it could be made into something else. Exhausting work. Did he arrive at the house ready to talk but found Joseph already snoring. Do you suppose when the angel saw Joseph asleep he said to himself, “Aw, isn’t he cute when he’s asleep?”

“19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.”

God sees us and knows us. When we are asleep and when we are awake. He longs to communicate with us. What he most wants to tell us is, “I Love You! I gave up my only son to die in your place so we can be together. I raised him from the dead and now we can be together forever. Because he lives, you can live. Forever with us.”

I don’t want to put imaginary words in the mouth of God so here is a verse that says it.

” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jn 3:16

Remember the words

How will they survive? How will the newly converted believers continue in their faith in Jesus? How will this group continue to reach a lost and fallen world with the good news (aka gospel)?

That had to be on Peters mind as he approached his death. How will these people who didn’t have the privilege of face to face time with Jesus survive, even thrive and grow, in numbers and in strength?

What would bind them together? What will unify them? What will keep them from drifting or straying away.

The words. God’s words.

As Peter said to Jesus, “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!”
(“Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
John 6:68)

The Old Testament was a map to Jesus. The apostles had their stories of Jesus’ life and ministry, and then there were the letters being written by Peter and Paul, later John and others would write letters, and Luke would write about the miraculous lives, ministry and Acts of the apostles in the early church.

Peter mentions all of these types of books or letters here in chapter three.

“Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.
2 Peter 3:1-2

“So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
2 Peter 3:14-16

We are believing in Jesus because generations of believers have studied and copied and preserved the word. Now it is our privilege and duty to carry it on. To tell it, to share it, to preserve it we need to know it. We need to know it, as my pastor Rory says, to assimilate it. One teacher I heard or read recently said we need to know it, on an intimate level, like a husband knows his wife, on that level of experiential full knowledge.

Forces are at work to discredit and dilute the Word. Our job is know it and share as best we can.

I want to Remember this one other thing too “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation.” Salvation is a treasure meant to be shared.

Life Force, Life Coach or Lord of Life

C.S Lewis from “Mere Christianity”

“One reason why many people find Creative Evolution so attractive is that it gives one much of the emotional comfort of believing in God and none of the less pleasant consequences. When you are feeling fit and the sun is shining and you do not want to believe that the whole universe is a mechanical dance of atoms, it is nice to be able to think of this great mysterious Force rolling on though the centuries and carrying you on its crest. If, on the other hand, you want to do something rather shabby the Life-Force, being only a blind force, with no morals and no mind, will never interfere with you like that troublesome God we learned about when we were children. The Life-Force is a sort of tame God. You can switch in on when you want, but it will not bother you. All the thrills of religion and none of the cost. Is the Life-Force the greatest achievement of wishful thinking the world has yet seen?”

Believing in a Life Force is a convenient way to tame our god. To have him there when we need him, but basically run our life our own way, because, after all, don’t I know best how to do me?

Maybe not.

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our[a] joy complete.

Light and Darkness, Sin and Forgiveness

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:1-10

God is God, not some impersonal force. He has revealed himself as a Father, THE Father, Father of his only son Jesus, and adoptive parent to all who will come to him. He is not convenient. He is not malleable. He is not shush-able. His way of living is unbending because HIS way of living is to live the best possible life for me, to become the best possible version of myself is to live submitted to him.

It isn’t a popular view, that doesn’t make it wrong. It isn’t an easy way of life, but it is the best way of life.

Planting a seed

Rusty
My first 57 after being rebuilt by David Ledgerwood, my wife’s cousin

My truck Rusty has recently received some attention. Our story of how we came together is unique.

I would like to stress 2 things that maybe faded to the the background in the retelling of the story.

The first is I prayed, I asked God for another 57 Chevy pickup and for the years and years when I didn’t get one and His answer seemed to be “NO”, I kept asking. “God I know this is stupid, and there are so many more important things, like salvation for my family and friends, keeping us safe, keeping us healthy, providing for us, but God, after you have taken care of all that, may I have another 57 Chevy pickup?”

Then I went on with life but God wasn’t saying “no”, he was saying “wait”. While I was waiting the answer seemed like “no”. In a world where everything is available and can be had through the wonder of the internet and credit cards, I waited. I wasn’t a faith filled man, I was a poor man. Financially there was no other option.

My truck Rusty is an answer to a prayer that I kept on praying. I don’t want to hi-light my persistence, I want to hi-light our God who hears silly prayers and answers in His perfect timing.

The second thing I wanted to emphasize is the seed. Just recently I read through 1 Corinthians and in chapter 15 Paul is talking about the resurrection, Jesus’ resurrection and our resurrection.

“But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.”

I had a horn button for a 57 Chevy truck. I called it my 57 Chevy truck seed. I gave it away. I buried it. From it grew my truck Rusty.

The analogy breaks down here because Rusty is not eternal but he has been “born again”, given a new life.

That can happen to each one of us too, except being mortals, we are given the opportunity to become immortal, to live forever.

“42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”[f]; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we[g] bear the image of the heavenly man.

50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[h]

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”[i]
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

If we confess our need for a savior, admit we are broken, accept Jesus gift of forgiveness, he has paid for all of our sin, we can be forgiven, cleansed and made immortal. We will live forever with Jesus. Come and join our family who call God our father and live forever.

A tool – not a trophy

A very long time ago a man who is gifted in the prophetic gifts gave a bible verse to Mary and me. He gave us more than one but as I was reading through 1 Corinthians 16 I saw it and remembered that day.

The verse is 9 but I will put it in context and add some at the beginning. This is Paul speaking to his congregation at Corinth.

“After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you—for I will be going through Macedonia. 6 Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.”

This verse and this event take me back to a time when my belief was new and exciting and scary. God spoke to me then through this man, a prophet. He is speaking now through the Bible and through other believers but it isn’t as specific as that verse was to me that day.

I don’t know how that verse has been fulfilled in my life, at the time, it made me think of mass evangelism but that isn’t what I have done. I raised a family. I worked and lived and Mary and I stayed married. I haven’t started any churches like Paul did. I served in one, the same one for about 32 years.

This verse though makes me think of another verse that explains my life a little better.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

This verse makes me think that God isn’t a trophy maker, He is a tool maker. When we are saved he changes us into tools that he can then use to enlarge His kingdom.

As a electrician I know that every job requires specific tools to get the job done.

Father God, May I be one of those in Your hands today.

“Who’s that knocking at my door🎶”

Sennacherib

There once was an Assyrian king named Sennacherib. He vowed he would capture and destroy Jerusalem. He and his army camped outside the city and breathed threats against the people of Jerusalem and their king Hezekiah and against God.

Sennacherib’s chief of staff was sent to speak to the people of Jerusalem.

Among other things he said this:

‘“I’ll tell you what! Strike a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria. I will give you 2,000 horses if you can find that many men to ride on them! With your tiny army, how can you think of challenging even the weakest contingent of my master’s troops, even with the help of Egypt’s chariots and charioteers? What’s more, do you think we have invaded your land without the Lord’s direction? The Lord himself told us, ‘Attack this land and destroy it!’” Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said to the Assyrian chief of staff, “Please speak to us in Aramaic, for we understand it well. Don’t speak in Hebrew, for the people on the wall will hear.” But Sennacherib’s chief of staff replied, “Do you think my master sent this message only to you and your master? He wants all the people to hear it, for when we put this city under siege, they will suffer along with you. They will be so hungry and thirsty that they will eat their own dung and drink their own urine.” Then the chief of staff stood and shouted in Hebrew to the people on the wall, “Listen to this message from the great king of Assyria! This is what the king says: Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you. He will never be able to rescue you. Don’t let him fool you into trusting in the Lord by saying, ‘The Lord will surely rescue us. This city will never fall into the hands of the Assyrian king!’ “Don’t listen to Hezekiah! These are the terms the king of Assyria is offering: Make peace with me—open the gates and come out. Then each of you can continue eating from your own grapevine and fig tree and drinking from your own well. Then I will arrange to take you to another land like this one—a land of grain and new wine, bread and vineyards. “Don’t let Hezekiah mislead you by saying, ‘The Lord will rescue us!’ Have the gods of any other nations ever saved their people from the king of Assyria? What happened to the gods of Hamath and Arpad? And what about the gods of Sepharvaim? Did any god rescue Samaria from my power? What god of any nation has ever been able to save its people from my power? So what makes you think that the Lord can rescue Jerusalem from me?”’

Isaiah 36:8-20 – NLT

King Hezekiah humbled himself and ordered those around him to follow suit and then sent messengers to Isaiah the prophet.

This was a real threat and a very scary situation.

This is what the Lord said through the prophet:

“the prophet replied, “Say to your master, ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not be disturbed by this blasphemous speech against me from the Assyrian king’s messengers. Listen! I myself will move against him, and the king will receive a message that he is needed at home. So he will return to his land, where I will have him killed with a sword.’”

Isaiah 37:6-7 – NLT

Then again the Assyrian chief of staff made boisterous blasphemous threats to defy God and destroy Jerusalem.

King Hezekiah humbled himself and went to meet God in the temple.

He prayed.

““O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. Bend down, O Lord, and listen! Open your eyes, O Lord , and see! Listen to Sennacherib’s words of defiance against the living God.

It is true, Lord, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed all these nations. And they have thrown the gods of these nations into the fire and burned them. But of course the Assyrians could destroy them! They were not gods at all—only idols of wood and stone shaped by human hands. Now, O Lord our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O Lord, are God. ”’

Isaiah 37:16-20 – NLT

The prophet Isaiah heard and saw how Hezekiah entreated the Lord.

Among other things he said this to and about the King of Assyria:

“But I know you well— where you stay and when you come and go. I know the way you have raged against me. And because of your raging against me and your arrogance, which I have heard for myself, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth. I will make you return by the same road on which you came.” “And this is what the Lord says about the king of Assyria: “‘His armies will not enter Jerusalem. They will not even shoot an arrow at it. They will not march outside its gates with their shields nor build banks of earth against its walls. The king will return to his own country by the same road on which he came. He will not enter this city,’ says the Lord. ‘For my own honor and for the sake of my servant David, I will defend this city and protect it.’”

Isaiah 37:28-29,33-35 – NLT

And this is what the Lord did:

“That night the angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there. One day while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with their swords. They then escaped to the land of Ararat, and another son, Esarhaddon, became the next king of Assyria.”

Isaiah 37:36-38 – NLT

What is the lesson for me here? Who am I in this story? I believe I am the city of Jerusalem under siege by a boastful lying enemy.

The Assyrian army was the most powerful force in the world at that time. It was parked outside the city that housed the temple of the almighty God, creator of heaven and earth. The Assyrian plan was to capture the city, pilfer all the valuables and take all the people into exile. They had done the same to every other place they encountered. None of the local armies or gods could stop them. They had recently invaded the northern tribes of Israel and taken them away into captivity and grabbed the statues of their respective gods on the way out.

Could someone “steal” God?

This might be a rabbit trail but that is a significant difference between the God of Israel and the gods of any other nation. First, the God of Israel is a real God, the only real God. He is creator and sustainer of all that exists. Secondly, the God of Israel has no images. There are no statues or idols of Him. At that time there was only one place on the planet where you were to worship Him, His temple in Jerusalem. If the Assyrian’s could have gotten access to His temple, there was no icon, no image they could break in and steal. No one could “carry away” the God of Israel because he is Spirit. There was one thing, his throne, the ark of the covenant. It was the place where his glory resided, inside the Holy of Holies and it was covered in the sprinkled blood of the annual sacrificial lamb.

No, Senecharib could not have stolen God.

Could someone “steal” God from me now? I know I can have my stuff taken, I can lose all I possess. I could lose my family and my place and my position but can someone storm into my life and steal my God? No. My God is Spirit. He cannot be seen or held or contained or controlled in any way.

On the night Jesus was betrayed he prayed this prayer to God our Father.

“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began! “O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”

John 17:20-26 – NLT

Once we are born again, God cannot be stolen from us. He lives inside us.

Enemies who besiege us will be defeated. Is this a promise for every attack? Eventually the city of Jerusalem was taken captive.

I wrote this to give hope to some friends and relatives of mine who seem to be under siege. There isn’t an army camped outside their front door, but sickness and death and destruction have taken things from them, bitterness, envy, fear and doubt keep chomping up their confidence, faith and hope. What hope can I offer? What does God offer? If he was such an all powerful God, why are they in the terrifying mess they are in?

God is always our hope.

You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,

Psalm 10:17 – NIV

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.

Psalm 33:20-22 – NIV

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Psalm 42:5 – NIV

You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas, who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength, who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations. The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.

Psalm 65:5-8 – NIV

For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Romans 8:20-25 – NIV

I don’t know these verses by heart, I had to look them up by searching with the word “hope”. I didn’t know specifically where they would be, but knowing the character of God,I knew they would be there.

Our hope is in God who delivers his children. No matter how vile and evil and mean the enemies are who are banging on our door threatening to destroy us, our hope is in God.

Our hope is in God because he is our help. God is all powerful. God knows the future. Death itself is under his command. Remember Egypt and the first Passover? Death could not touch anyone who slept in a house with the blood of the sacrificial lambs blood on the doorposts and lentil.

Death is the scary specter that walks the halls of hospitals and nursing homes. Health is what we want. We chase health with everything we have. When health eludes us death is waiting. And there is hope for us.

Our God conquered death. Jesus died…and rose from the dead. Because he died and lives again, we can be assured the same resurrection.

It is the suffering we want to avoid.

And yet…”Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

James 1:2-4 – NIV

When there is an enemy banging on the front door of our life we can trust in God, a father who loves us.

Psalm 46:10

“Be Still and know that I am God.”

A gift for A new year

It’s a brand new year. 2022.

Want to try something new this year? How about being bathed in love and forgiveness? To be submerged in mercy? Graced with a love we cannot fathom or find the ends of?

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

This is what Gods love is like.

The love God has for us is an endless fountain. Giving, giving and giving still more. The picture of it is the picture of Jesus, who is God in flesh, living a perfect life and the being tortured and crucified for us, that is, in our place.

Who knows what a day holds? Will you receive Jesus gift for us today? Will we begin this year different than any other year? Clean, forgiven and loved….welcomed into an eternal family.

Please consider this gift – Jesus is waiting to welcome us. Yes I will be there too because I have accepted this gift and am now experiencing Gods love, his forgiveness and mercy and am part of this eternal family.

Join us. Join us Today.

New things in a new year

It is New Year’s Eve. 2021 is almost in the books. Some of this year has been very good. Some of it not so much. We did some amazing things. But some of my bad habits followed me. I tend to focus on my failures because I want to not repeat them. I opened my bible ap and this is what I read:

“This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

I believe in and worship and follow and am lead by an invisible God. I believe he created and sustains everything that exists. The earth will revolve on its axis and the sun will appear on the eastern horizon because a God who can create everything from nothing has said it should be so. God has revealed himself in a couple of ways, through his word, the Bible and through his son, Jesus. This Jesus lived a perfect life, and yet was brutally killed. We sing about his death. I was struck with how odd that must sound to people who don’t know the story. Why do we sing about his death? We believe that his death paid for our sins and we believe that death could not hold this Jesus, that he physically rose from the dead three days later. We believe that since death cannot hold Jesus, that it also has no power over those who believe in him.

This is the eve of a an old year being changed into a new year. Will you give some serious thought tonight about asking God to make changes in your life? I am. I am asking God to help me in how I spend my time and how I spend my money. I have already given him my heart and life and he has forgiven me all of my sin and welcomed me into his family. He will do the same to anyone who will confess with their mouth that he is their Lord, and believe in their heart that he rose from the dead.

Will you let God do a new thing in your life in 2022?

The Junk man is seeking…me?

I’ve had this nagging problem that I’ve hinted at but I am prompted to share it and add what God is doing to help me.

The problem is that I don’t feel like God really loves me. I believe that I am saved by Jesus, but it feels like it was like a person at a yard sale who buys a box of junk because he sees in it some treasures. He has to buy the entire box just to get the treasures. I feel like the junk in the box that gets bought because God has to take all of us.

I was thinking about this yesterday and wondering if I should post about it, I was driving in Wenatchee at the time and just then a large truck drove past me, with large letters that read, “the junk man”. It said something about taking all your stuff or something to that effect.

As I Started to write this down I felt if God asked me what it I wanted? My brain didn’t have an answer but My heart yelled out, “I want to be your favorite!”

My brain was embarrassed by my hearts outburst. I expected a rebuke from God or at least an explanation by God of how he can’t have any favorites. Instead I felt like God Said “oh Peter, don’t you know, you are my favorite! My favorite Peter Loeffelbein” and then in my mind I saw a picture of God at the garage sale searching through the box, looking for me, I was the treasure he was seeking.

Tears and snot came next.

This is how God feels about me.

It also how God feels about you. We are each one of us, his favorite, His treasure.

My hope is that you read this and feel in your heart, God’s great love for you. I hope it brings hope and joy to you, that it breaks the crust off your heart like it did mine. God loves us all. Truth. But God loves me. You can say that too. God loves me, he sent his son to seek me. Seek you.

Now you say it.

God loves me. It’s true.

Let’s play find the baby

Hebrews 12

Focus on Jesus and run the race naked.

Maybe that would be better stated, run unencumbered. I understand that the original Olympians ran without clothes so as to be free as possible. I think that’s the idea.

“12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Getting to be with Jesus, becoming more like him. I don’t want to lose sight of Jesus. Especially in this Christmas season. Life doesn’t stop during Christmas. So we have life plus-and all the extra stuff that Christmas brings. Somewhere in all the tree trimming, lights, packages, people, sugar cookies and gingerbread there is a baby. Our God became flesh, he is with us and will live among us. He came for a purpose. He came to be a sacrifice, to die to pay for all of our sin.

I want to run the endurance race of my faith as if nothing will stop me or slow me down. I want to focus at this time of year on a baby, a baby born to save me, save us. He is man, he is God, he is our savior and he is our king.

There is a great group of people who have already finished their race. They stand to give us encouragement.

In everything I do this Christmas I am going to try and find the baby. Find Jesus in what I do. He is in there.

By faith

Hebrews 11

By Faith.

We are saved by faith in Jesus. The life of one who follows an unseen God has always been by faith.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.”

The hall of fame for faith; Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Rahab. We know their stories not because they got what they were promised but because they believed what they were promised and acted on it.

We believe in an invisible God and our main tenant of faith is that Jesus’ death paid for our sins giving us eternal life with him but we must die to find out if it’s true.

I grew up reciting a creed. It’s old fashioned now to recite liturgy but I think it’s worth reciting today.

“We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of Life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic (it means universal)and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.”

This is what I believe. I live my life in faith, in trust in God who I cannot see.

An interview with Simon Peter

It must’ve been hard to do.

Make the change from being a follower of Jesus to a teller about Jesus. From having him there with them to having him pop in and out of life unexpectedly.

This next bit is a paraphrase told from the perspective of the once disciple, now apostle, Peter.

I remember that day…

What to do? Let’s go fishing. Fishing is what we do, Simon and Thomas and Nathaniel, James and John. Fishermen. It’s what we do, it’s what we know, it’s how we provide for our families. Fished all night and got nothing. Some guy on the beach shouting instructions on how to catch fish…we’ll try it.

Whoa! Wow! So many fish, almost too many fish. One fish, two fish red fish, 152 fish. (Plus one).

This all seems so familiar, I’ve had this happen before. It was Jesus on the shore.

A quick swim, some breakfast, fish hauling ashore and then the “chat”.

For 3 years we’ve hung out with Jesus. On meeting me he said he would change my name. Now, after the denial, ( three denials, if you’re counting) and the resurrection we are back to Simon son of John. Not Peter. Simon.

Then the questions, do I love him more than these? Do I️ love Jesus more than my fishing buddies do? At one time in the not so distant past I️ claimed that I️ did.

Then the questions come. Jesus could’ve used 4 different words for the word love in his questions. He went straight to the highest, the strongest, the purest, do I Simon, love, agape love, Jesus?

It may be my failures and denials but all I can muster is “you know I love you like a brother, I️ phileo you Jesus”.

He gives me a job. “Feed my lambs”.

Then he asks me again, do I Simon, agape him, Jesus?

“Jesus, I love you, like a brother” is my answer.

“Take care of my sheep”.

He asks again, a third time. I didn’t get why he asked me twice but it becomes clear as he asks the third time, my mind went back to that horrible early morning, my third denial, “I tell you I do not know the man”….and then began swearing like a fisherman.

The third and last question Jesus asks, “Simon, son of John, do you love me….like a brother?”

I’m hurt and frustrated, so my answer is terse, “ you know all things, you know I love you like a brother..”
Again, “Feed my sheep…”

And then I get the prophecy about my death.

“18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
John 21:18

There are 2 things that encourage me here. “When you are old,” it isn’t eminent, and “old” I will continue to follow Jesus for the rest of my life.

This is one of the memories I think about as I write to those followers of Jesus who will continue after I’m dead. They will continue to tell others about our Jesus.

Add to your faith…brotherly love, and add to that, Agape love, God kind of love, selfless, others first, die in your place, kind of love. Add that to your faith in Jesus. Then you will be able to be fruitful and productive in your faith.

Jesus welcomed me back, I fell, I fell further and harder but his love covered my failures. His love will always do that. It will always cover over our sin.