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April 12, 2017 / Wednesday Chat with Bill

Little Magpie: Bill - I find it hard to be gracious about some things. I have found that years of dealing with the same situations/disappointments has hardened my heart

Bill: Little Magpie: Thanks for your honesty. I think your experience is very common and, quite honestly, the expected response. From a human point of view, people's failures, obstinate behavior and foolishness should deeply wound us and cause us to lose faith and hope in them. Grace somehow keeps these things alive and sets the stage for transformation. I don't exactly get it and I think God asked this current group of people to do things nobody has a right to ask. It is, however, working. I am not sure why this group decided to pursue grace when so many others can't quite get there.

 

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April 12, 2017 / Wednesday Chat with Bill

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Swan: Hello everyone

Swan: Hi Bill

Bill: Good evening. Sorry about being late. I am at my sister's vineyard - beautiful but the internet is elusive!

Little Magpie: Hello All

Bill: Hi Little Magpie

Swan: Bill - Staying at a vineyard sounds nice, when I was a kid and lived up in the Manteca area, we lived on a vineyard at one point, the owner allowed us kids to go out and pick all the grapes we could eat, yummy. A founder memory from those years.

Swan: Hi Little Magpie

Bill: All: Okay, so the question of the day has to do with the power of grace. Just this week, I watched a couple go through an impossible situation. From all human vantage points, there was no way this couple was going to have a chance. I can't give you the details but I can tell you that everyone involved is stunned and asking questions such as, "Why did you continue to believe in me?" "Why would you still accept me?" "Why are you being so nice to me?" "How did you stick to your convictions but never become condemning?"

Little Magpie: Bill - I bet the vineyard is beautiful. Does it have a wonderful view?? Is it relaxing?

Bill: All: The question is, "Why do you think some people are willing to forgive and believe that God will somehow, some way make things work together for good while others give us quickly or become so negative they can't see any hope?"

Bill: Swan: very cool. I am amazed at how sweet wine grapes are. All you eat - awesome!

Bill: Little Magpie: It is so quiet here that it is almost impossible to be stressed. At the same time, it is a little hard to stay productive. The view is very country-like with rolling hills, homesteads in the distance and row after row of grapevines.

Little Magpie: Bill - I find it hard to be gracious about some things. I have found that years of dealing with the same situations/disappointments has hardened my heart

Little Magpie: Bill - The Vineyard sounds like a wonderful place to be when you need to relax

Bill: Little Magpie: Thanks for your honesty. I think your experience is very common and, quite honestly, the expected response. From a human point of view, people's failures, obstinate behavior and foolishness should deeply wound us and cause us to lose faith and hope in them. Grace somehow keeps these things alive and sets the stage for transformation. I don't exactly get it and I think God asked this current group of people to do things nobody has a right to ask. It is, however, working. I am not sure why this group decided to pursue grace when so many others can't quite get there.

Bill: All: Honestly, I am not sure what convinced this current group to trust in grace, take a hard stand with open arms and express love despite bad behavior. I am on a hunt to figure out if I said something or they did something that made this possible because it would awesome to repeat it.

Little Magpie: Bill - Showing grace like Jesus did is somewhat freeing even though it is difficult

Bill: All: Just for clarity, let me explain what I mean by grace because I suspect too many people think of grace in weak terms. We tend to think it means we forgive others no matter what they do and accept them just as they are. This, however, is not grace. Grace begins with forgiveness. It is a conviction in our hearts that forgiveness is the gate that opens up the path for true excellence. Once we forgive, we take people off the performance track and move them to the possibility track. In other words, since there is no condemnation after forgiveness, we free others to choose whatever they want to do. They can look at all options and ask themselves, "What options are best for me?" Grace also equips us to apply whatever consequences the decisions warrant. So, if people choose poorly, we let them wallow and suffer the loss that goes along with it. If people choose wisely, we join them in the pursuit and help them grow to their potential. Any thoughts or questions?

Swan: Bill - I think it has more to do with the person's walk with God. As a teenager I attended church, a Southern Baptist church, yes one of those hail and brimstone, and pound your fist on the pulpit type churches. However, I didn't really learn about studying the Bible, having a personal relationship with God, etc. For me that type of religion made it so easy to one day blame God for the abuse I had endured and even more easy to walk away from my mother, brother and sister, joining the Marine Corps and having very little contact with them for years. The contact I did have with my mother was guarded and very restrictive, especially when it came to the access she and her husband would have to my children. I wasn't so forgiving, but still called myself a Christian, until I decided a loving God would have never allowed that kind of abuse to happen to a child and as an adult I stopped believing in God. My husband and I were married in a church and would from time to time attend church. It wasn't until my husband's MLC that I found myself in a daze, having been forced out of my home and sitting in the spare bedroom at my son's house crying and my then three year old grandson asked me to come to class with him (Sunday School). I can't even say why, but I felt a calm, the tears stopped and I agreed to go to church with him and my daughter in law that night. The grace and comfort that surrounded me that night was so peaceful and from that night helped me as my husband pushed for his divorce and married the other woman. Before this I was one of those that held on to the wrongs others did to me, but since it has been so much easier to just let go and let God. There are times when I find myself getting worked up, but I have a little thing I am committed to and it helps me to not allow those moments to engulf me, but more allows me to take on a different viewpoint. No matter what is happening or someone else is doing, I take a deep breath and look for at least one good thing happening, often I can see more than one, but just finding the one does help me so much. Stopping to pray often gives a new look too. There was a time when I was very good at get even and would have made my husband pay over and over for his choices, but through God I have been able to leave it at His feet. Now, I will admit there are times I find myself picking it up, but once I recognize that I have done that, I take it back to God and put it down at His feet. It is an ongoing work for me, some days easier, other days more of a battle.

Bill: Little Magpie: I think you are understating it. It is not difficult, it is impossible apart from God's work in our lives!

Little Magpie: Bill - This is a special place and I miss the rest of the group that used to join us on Wednesday nights.

Bill: Little Magpie: I know. We need to get back to fixing the website so people can get access again. Coming soon.

Swan: Little Magpie - A hardened heart is a natural self protection trait, if we keep people at a distance, not really allowing them in and that lack of trust coming with that, we believe it will protect us from letting others hurt us.

Little Magpie: Swan - True, I can see that. It relates to my not being able to have real friends. I can't trust people so am acquaintances with most people. I have a history of close relationships for short times but they always fall apart. This is why I am surprised that my H and I are still married.

Bill: Little Magpie: I find it interesting that you see your life as only having short-term friends. You have so much energy for relationships and so much to share. Have you considered being a part of a more intense circle, such as Celebrate Recovery? Many of the people I talk with who are active in this type of ministry share many of the same statements you have just voiced but have found true camaraderie in the program.

Little Magpie: Bill - That has been mentioned to me before and the only group I found is an hour away. A former classmate of mine is a Pastor at the church that has that group...

Little Magpie: Bill - maybe I will have to try it out anyway

Swan: Little magpie - an hour away might be worth it if it gives you an avenue to change and be able to trust again. If weekly is too much, check into joining in with them at least once a month. Maybe a ladies Bible group through your church, if something like that is available. If there isn't one, maybe consider starting one.

Little Magpie: Swan - It doesn't help that the ladies I was starting to warm up to from our church have now left since the merger and the other church started meeting with us.

Bill: Sorry folks. WIFI took a lap around the vineyard!

Bill: I think an hour drive is a small price to pay, especially if God provides another woman who "needs" the group too who lives in our area.

Little Magpie: Bill and Swan - there is a woman at church that I have been helping a little bit. She is having some trouble in her marriage and family. My YD teaches her son in Sunday school and we have kind of "adopted" each other. She texts me sometimes and we look for each other after church.

Bill: Little Magpie: I am glad to hear this. This is just the kind of situation you will be good with and she will probably be good for you. Just let it grow and don't force it.

Swan: Little Magpie - friendships, like marriages don't just happen, they require effort and maintenance. Look into something the two of you might be able to do outside of church that will give you time to develop more of a bond with one another.

Bill: See you next week. Let me know if you come up with any more thoughts on the power of grace. I will let you know how the current situation is progressing when we meet next. Blessings.

Swan: Night all

Little Magpie: Bill - I am too exhausted to force anything. Even with the c-pap I can't seem to get enough sleep

Bill: LM: That is probably a good place to be!

Little Magpie: Swan and Bill - Good Night! Bill - I will let you know if I think of more about the Power of Grace.

Little Magpie: Bill - I find it hard to be gracious about some things. I have found that years of dealing with the same situations/disappointments has hardened my heart

Bill: Little Magpie: Thanks for your honesty. I think your experience is very common and, quite honestly, the expected response. From a human point of view, people's failures, obstinate behavior and foolishness should deeply wound us and cause us to lose faith and hope in them. Grace somehow keeps these things alive and sets the stage for transformation. I don't exactly get it and I think God asked this current group of people to do things nobody has a right to ask. It is, however, working. I am not sure why this group decided to pursue grace when so many others can't quite get there.

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