“I’d walk over my own grandmother to get Nixon re-elected” were the words of Nixon’s hatchet man, Charles Colson.  He was known as “ruthless” and an “evil genius” who served President Nixon with fierce loyalty. He eventually went to prison for his part of the Watergate break in.

It was during that time that Colson found God and was “Born Again.”  Though many were skeptical of his conversion, thinking it was only for the purpose of trying to get a reduced sentence, Colson spent the rest of his life proving that Jesus had transformed even the dirtiest of men.

Charles Colson died today from complications from brain surgery in March.  He was 80 years old.

Those who knew Colson before being born again and those after his conversion describe two different men.  The before Christ relationships describe him as the man painted above.

Those who knew him after he met Jesus said that he was very friendly, caring, and warm to those who met him.  He didn’t seek the limelight and worked tirelessly for truth and in his Prison Fellowship Ministry.

That’s the way it’s supposed to be.  2 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has gone.  The new has come.”

If a person really has an experience with Christ, there is change.  In the words of Colson himself,

“What we do flows from who we are.”

If you are a child of God, actions and motivations change.

We need more great leaders like Charles Colson.

Here are  a few other Charles Colson quotes:

“When God wanted to defeat sin, His ultimate weapon was the sacrifice of His own Son. On Christmas Day two thousand years ago, the birth of a tiny baby in an obscure village in the Middle East was God’s supreme triumph of good over evil.”

“I can work for the Lord in or out of prison”

“I learned one thing in Watergate: I was well-intentioned but rationalized illegal behavior,” he said. “You cannot live your life other than walking in the truth. Your means are as important as your ends.”

“Atheist’s fight hard against something that, as they see it, doesn’t exist…Why are they so angry about it? I don’t understand it. Such animosity represents moral rebellion against God. And that rebellion is a fight to the death–the death of one’s own willfulness.”

Are you a different person than you would be if you didn’t know Christ?

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She “can’t” forgive.  That’s what I was told by the son of a lady who was raped in her 20’s, causing a pregnancy .

The son that told me about his mom is the child that was conceived as a result of the rape.  He told me that 43 years have gone by since the rape and she still holds deep bitterness towards the man.  This bitterness has affected her entire life…. 43 years and counting. 

That experience would be horrible and I can definitely understand how it can shatter a life, but refusing to work towards forgiveness has continued to ruin her life for 43 years.  As hard as it is, with God’s help forgiveness is possible.

An even bigger question for me is when un-forgiveness results from smaller offenses.  I’ve seen offended people refuse to forgive and hold bitterness over words spoken, misunderstandings, and EVEN CHURCH ISSUES, of all things.   God can’t be pleased when those who claim to follow Jesus and have asked Him to forgive them refuse to forgive their brother or neighbor.

In the Lords Prayer, Jesus tells us to pray “forgive our sins AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO SIN AGAINST US.”  Wow!  I really don’t want God to forgive me like that.  I want God to forgive me BETTER than I forgive others.  Did God REALLY mean that we should forgive everyone?  He couldn’t have meant that, could he?

If we keep reading in Matthew 9, we will come to verse 15.  “For IF you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

I’m not going to pretend that I understand everything that God meant in this passage but I do understand one thing.  God doesn’t want us to hold onto un-forgiveness and bitterness.  To let pride get in the way in squabbles just doesn’t make sense.  It hurts your relationship with God.

John says that “if we claim to live in fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.”  (1 John 1:6)  If we have bitterness and we’re not allowing God to soften our heart in that area, that’s not exactly walking in the light.

If we really want God to help us forgive, He will.  One thing that we will also find is that the greater the offense that we are willing to forgive, the greater the measure of the Spirit that will come to you.  (RT Kendall)

Translation:  If we’re serious about forgiving larger offenses, God will show up Big Time.

Holding onto petty issues affects the holder of the issue more than the transgressor.  If God has brought anything up in your heart as you have read this post, it’s time to let it go. 

I’d love to hear your ideas on how to forgive and anything that has helped you to forgive someone.  Just leave your thoughts below.