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Pastor's Column

Get rid of the guilt

  We are half way through the season of Lent.  Lent is officially described as the forty weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Easter, observed in Christian churches by fasting and penitence.  Fasting is still observed by some.  I must admit, I have never fasted or given up anything for Lent.  Although going on a diet would probably do me some good.

  I maintain that the most important part of Lent is true penitence or repentance of our sins and having faith in Jesus Christ.  By his suffering and death on the cross Christ has taken away the guilt of all our sins.  Christ gives us a clean conscience so we stand before God free of all guilt and blame.  God graciously forgives us for Jesus' sake.

  Too often we let a guilty conscience weigh us down and hinder us from living a joy-filled Christian life.  We let Satan enslave us with feelings of guilt and inadequacy.  Few things in life can be so mentally draining as a guilty conscience weighted down by the heavy burden of past sins.  People seek relief in many ways, but there is only one sure cure.  It is found in the cross of Jesus Christ.

  Max Lucado, one of my favorite authors, tells an interesting story in one of his many books, "In the Grip of Grace."  

  A boy named Johnny loved shooting stones with his slingshot.  He could never hit his target.  But one day in his grandma's backyard he spied her pet duck.  On impulse he took aim and let fly.  Sure enough, this time he was right on target.  The stone hit the duck and it was dead.  

  Johnny panicked and hid the bird in the woodpile, only to look up and see his sister Sally watching.  After lunch that day, Grandma asked Sally to help with the dishes.  Sally responded, "Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today.  Didn't you Johnny?"  And she whispered to him, "Remember the duck."

  So Johnny did the dishes.  What choice did he have?  For several weeks he was at the kitchen sink often.  "Remember the duck," Sally whispered whenever he objected.

  Finally he was so weary of doing the chores, he decided any punishment would be better than washing more dishes.  He confessed to killing the duck.  "I know all about it, Johnny," his grandma said, giving him a big hug.  "I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing.  Because I love you, I forgave you.  I wondered how long you would let Sally make a slave out of you."

  The devil keeps accusing us of all sorts of  sins and likes to make us slaves of our guilty conscience even though God has already provided forgiveness for us for Jesus' sake.  Lent is as good a time as any to get rid of our guilt and those skeletons we have hidden away in our closet.

  St. Paul says, "Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  It is God who justifies.  Who is he that condemns?  Christ Jesus, who died - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us."  (Romans 8:33-34)

 


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