How to show gratitude to God

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 585• November 22, 2020

HOW TO SHOW GRATITUDE TO GOD

There are four levels of gratitude that one may reach.

  • The level of the lips – saying “thanks,” or some words that convey gratitude. But if the words are insincere they are not valid – they are lies. Lying words may sound good to the one addressed, but they are a discredit to the one who speaks them.
  • The level of the hands – doing something to show gratitude, in response to something done for you or given to you. But if the action is forced or coerced and is not an honest reflection of feelings it too is a lie. The act is good but the motive behind it is not.
  • The level of the heart – actually being grateful. When the gratitude is heartfelt it will show up in the lips and in the hands, sincere and genuine words and acts of appreciation which is …
  • The level of the life – one lives a life of gratitude. Continue reading

#geraldcowan, #gratitude, #thanksgiving

Love is a very complicated thing (II)

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 584 • November 18, 2020

LOVE IS A VERY COMPLICATED THING – Part Two
SEVEN CHARACTERISTICS OF LOVE (AGAPE).

Love EVALUATES the other person. It does not objectify. This is not an attempt to assign a value, but rather the recognition of the inherent worth and value of the person (and all persons). This requires seeing one as a person, not an object or thing. Continue reading

#geraldcowan, #love

Love is a very complicated thing (I)

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 583 • November 15, 2020

LOVE IS A VERY COMPLICATED THING – Part One
1 Corinthians 13:1-13, Romans 13:7-10

INTRODUCTION: “Love is the greatest” – sounds so good, sounds so simple, sounds so easy doesn’t it? We should change our statement to read “love is the best.” It certainly is not simple, and you will come to understand that there’s really nothing easy about it. If you were trying to define or explain “love” to someone who did not know our language, how would you go about it? Chances are you would end up trying to define love in terms of what it does, or how it makes you feel. English is sometimes a poor language, in spite of more than 400,000 words in the vocabulary (how many do you know?). That is especially true with the word LOVE, one of our most ambiguous words, one that resists easy or precise definition. One does not love mate, mother, brother, sister, friend, country and apple pie, or a pet in the same way. And how is “Christian love” different from the other kinds of love? Continue reading

#geraldcowan, #love

Proper use of the church’s money and resources

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS

Number 582 • November 10, 2020

PROPER USE OF THE CHURCH’S MONEY AND RESOURCES

A question that has resurfaced frequently in the past several decades – is probably as old as the church itself – concerns what is the church’s money, God’s money, or the “church treasury” – and how it can be used “scripturally.” That last word scripturally is particularly difficult because the scripture says little to nothing about the use of general funds entrusted to the church. The funds collected by Paul and Barnabas for famine-stressed Christians in Judea were sent and delivered to the elders of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 11:27-30). Continue reading

#finances, #geraldcowan, #money

Last words (for now) about forgiveness

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 580 • November 1, 2020

LAST WORDS (FOR NOW) ABOUT FORGIVENESS

This will conclude a four part essay on forgiveness. Not all your questions – not even all the questions that have been asked of me – are given attention, but I have tried to answer the most frequently asked ones. The most often asked and seldom answered adequately, having to do with “the unpardonable sin,” the last in this segment, is the last we shall attend to in the essay. The answers given are left open to some extent, inviting you to do additional study on your own – or ask more specific questions. Continue reading

#forgiveness, #geraldcowan

The penultimate word about forgiveness

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 579 • October 31, 2020

THE PENULTIMATE WORD ABOUT FORGIVENESS

This will have some disconnected comments on various aspects of the problem of how and when and whom to forgive in order to be forgiven yourself, as discussed in two prior segments of the essay. Some of these are frequently asked questions; some are simply extensions and addenda to prior comments.

HOW EXTENSIVE AND INCLUSIVE IS FORGIVENESS?

Some like to think forgiveness granted when requested for one wrongdoing implies and includes forgiveness for all wrongs and errors even if not mentioned in the request. Maybe so, if one makes a general but non-specific confession with implied general repentance and correction, but if it is an effort to secure a general forgiveness and amnesty without repentance or correction, it will be rejected and denied. Continue reading

#forgiveness, #geraldcowan

More about forgiveness

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS

Number 578 • October 30, 2020

MORE ABOUT FORGIVENESS

Response to Periodical Number 573, was quick and not always positive or polite. Not much was said in the essay about forgiveness to be given to you – that wasn’t the central point. But the suggested “test” regarding forgiveness to be given to others by you and the unlikelihood of being forgiven if you yourself were unforgiving seems to have been disconcerting and upsetting, striking a particularly sensitive and painful nerve.

As a lame and late retrospective apology and defense, I need to add a bit to the narrative for clarity and balance. I have in fact written about forgiveness at other times – some of which I will repeat here shortly – but do not always remember and admit that most writings, not only mine but those of others, are probably taken as stand-alone declarations. People may forget, or may not have received and understood any prior statements one has made. They do not, perhaps cannot, put things together to form a cogent understanding and conclusion. So each argument must be treated fully, if not comprehensively, in each iteration. Continue reading

#forgiveness, #geraldcowan

Should we vote for the lesser of two evils?

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 577 • October 27, 2020

ANOTHER NOTE TO UNDECIDED VOTERS:
SHOULD WE VOTE FOR THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS?

The thought is not original with me and is probably not a new thought for you, but let’s look at it again. Those who consider themselves to be Christians, and even some who consider themselves on safe moral ground, say they cannot vote simply on the basis of which candidate is less evil or immoral than the other. The argument runs something like this: a vote for anyone who is immoral or wicked in any point is the same as voting in favor of the evil itself. You can use any of the current hot-button issues as examples: abortion and other forms of murder, same sex relationships including marriage, decriminalizing drug-related problems, defunding and disbanding police, malfeasance of elected political officials, absolute separation of church state (keeping religion and religious persons put of politics and the courts, etc), socialistic or communistic approach to medicine, education, private ownership of property and money — there are many, many, too many such examples. So, voting for a candidate who is pro-choice as to abortion is supposedly equivalent to voting in favor of abortion, which is equivalent to approving murder of innocent humans. The same for all the other examples? Continue reading

#geraldcowan, #voting

No borders or barriers. Free access for all. You will be assimilated.

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 576 • October 26, 2020

NO BORDERS OR BARRIERS. FREE ACCESS FOR ALL.
YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED.

I remember late last year something a primary candidate for the office of president of the United States of America said in debate, something that no others in the congested swarm of would-be’s, wanna-be’s, please-let me be’s, and I’ll-give-whatever-you-want-if-I-get-to-be’s vying for the nomination were willing to say, then or now – probably because none of the others agree with what this one brave person said. I won’t name the person because it isn’t important to know who said it; the important thing is what was said.

Speaking of the controversy about a wall, barrier, or other device to mark and secure our national border this candidate said something so cogent and clear, so self-evident and irrefutable it is amazing and astounding that resounding affirmative “Amens” have not been heard from other candidates in her political party or from the Party itself. She said, “Without secure borders we do not have and cannot have a separate and sovereign nation.”

The principle applies at every level: state, county, city and township, and all private and public properties that are clearly marked or identified – crossing set boundaries, whether or not marked, walled, or fenced is called trespassing, a violation of property rights. Continue reading

#change, #church, #geraldcowan

Can faith be a disqualification?

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 575 • October 26, 2020

CAN FAITH BE A DISQUALIFICATION?

Lucy’s brother Linus, in the now discontinued cartoon called “Peanuts,” was in the pumpkin patch looking for “the most sincere pumpkin” who would become The Great Pumpkin whom Linus expected to rise from the pumpkin patch and deliver candy and other goodies to children everywhere – including Linus himself and all the Peanuts gang. Of course it never happened. Maybe no pumpkin was really sincere enough to do the job – as for myself, I wonder how one can judge the sincerity of pumpkins.

If you know, please inform me. It could be useful information and could help me determine who will be spreading candy and other goodies around my neighborhood on 31st October when a pagan festival called Halloween supposedly occurs.

So far nobody has asked me if I am the Great Pumpkin. They would be disappointed in my answer. If I find out that YOU are the guilty one I will probably report you to the local authorities who will then present you with a Cease and Desist Order. It is incumbent upon all of us to protect the health, including the dental health, of vulnerable children who know what seems good to them but do not know what is not good for them. There are other reasons for rejecting Halloween but kids would probably not understand or appreciate them. Kids, including the really old but childish ones, resent anyone interfering with their fun – never mind the hazards and improprieties that may be attached — including some occult religious superstitions about which we will not speak here. But that last thought brings us to the point I intended to make with this essay: Is faith a qualification or a disqualification? Continue reading

#faith, #geraldcowan

How forgiving and forgiven are you?

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 573 • October 25, 2020

HOW FORGIVING AND FORGIVEN ARE YOU?

Let’s get right to the point: If you are unforgiving you will be unforgiven. Jesus said it: (Ask God to) forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us…. If you forgive others your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:12, 14-15).

This principle applies in many ways. If you are not merciful to others you will not receive mercy – at least not from God (James 2:13). One who refuses to hear the cries of a needy brother will not be heard when he himself cries out in need or distress (Proverbs 21:13, compare James 2:15-17, 1 John 3:17). If you are not doing for or to others as required it will not be done to or for you when you require it. Don’t stop with Matthew 6 – continue without break into Matthew 7. The kind of judgment (reasonable, harsh, hypocritical, double standard, etc) you give others determines the kind of judgment you will receive. For example: Matthew 7:1ff. Those who judge with strict judgment, without mercy, without consideration of extenuating or mitigating circumstances, etc. will receive no mercy, etc when they are judged (compare James 2:13).

WHAT FORGIVENESS IS NOT.

It is not just ignoring the sin and those who wrong us, turning a blind eye or refusing to notice, refusing to hold others accountable. God does not overlook sins and neither should His people – God does not tell us to do so. Forgiveness does not mean sin somehow becomes invisible, to God or to any others. God’s omniscience means He always knows, without mistakes and without gaps, what was, what is, and what will be. At every moment He knows even the future as if it were the past (Isaiah 46:8-10). He knows what has been done, whether error has been corrected, whether any necessary thing remains to be done, whether and when it will be done. He does not close His eyes to anything.

God does not refuse to see or become unable to see sin once it has been forgiven. He does not remove it from his ledger, His book of remembrance, once He forgives it – nor does He ask us to do so. Like any good accountant God has separate parts to His ledger: (1) Accounts Receivable/Payable (what is still owed and must be paid); (2) Accounts Paid – payments made are duly noted and recorded so that one does not become charged again for debts already paid and therefore closed to further transactions.

God sees and knows constantly and always debts incurred, payments made, and amount still owed. When it is marked “truly and fully paid” it will not be remembered or charged against the person again. That is the extent of God’s forgetting: He will not bring a forgiven matter against the forgiven person again (Hebrews 8:12, 10:17).

Forgiveness is not a refusal to retaliate with a blow for a blow, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, or life for a life. One can refrain from retaliation but still harbor bitterness, ill will and resentment, holding the guilty accountable and rejecting the offending person. Jesus said if your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he then repents, forgive him (Luke 17:3).

It is not putting the offender on probation while we adjudicate and consider how inexcusable his behavior was, and then promise to forgive if and as long as no further offenses are forthcoming.

WHAT FORGIVENESS IS.

Since we are urged to forgive in the same way and to the same extent and with the same attitude as God displays in forgiving us (Ephesians 4:29-32), we can better understand what forgiveness is by observing what God does when He forgives. He does not remove the notation of wrong from His record. The blotting out of sins that accompanies conversion (Acts 3:19) is nothing more than moving the item from accounts payable to accounts paid and no longer to be charged against the convert. His actions toward the forgiven are as if the sin had never occurred at all. As in the case of the “prodigal son” (Luke 15:11-24) the once-away once-spiritually-dead son is restored to his rightful place, home again and alive to his father again. In God’s forgiveness the guilt is lifted, certain (though perhaps not all) consequences are removed, one is not bound in place as a current transgressor but is free to move forward toward the goals and rewards of the restored transgressor.

TAKE THE “HAVE I REALLY FORGIVEN MY OFFENDER” TEST

  1. Do you secretly rejoice when some misfortune happens to the one who offended or sinned against you? Does it please you to think “karma” has bitten your offender?
  2. Do you purposely avoid contact, or being present where he is? Do you speak to him only when necessary, never initiate conversation?
  3. Do you remember and can’t forget the wrong committed and how it hurt you, how it made you feel? Do you brood over it, silently meditating and still resenting the wrong done to you – perhaps even over-dramatizing the trauma and reliving the experience?
  4. If your offender needed help or asked you to pray for him, would you do it? Would you do good for him or pray for him without being asked?
  5. Have you talked with the one who sinned against you, telling him his fault and asking about your own fault – perhaps you caused him to sin against you? Have you asked him to repent and accept your forgiveness – have you asked him to accept your repentance and forgive you for your improper attitude and actions against him?
  6. Do you ask God, when praying for yourself, to help you find a way to be reconciled and restored to fellowship with your offender or one you have offended? Do you even want to be reconciled with him and in fellowship with him, serving and worshiping God together with him?

FORGIVING YOURSELF CAN BE A PROBLEM?

Be careful not to forgive yourself too easily for unforgiven and unforgivable sins against God, others, and yourself. You are not the final arbiter, judge, or jury. Refusing forgiveness offered to you by others, or by God, is a form of unforgiveness – which will not be forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15), as we noted at the beginning of this essay. Refusing to forgive, refusing to be forgiven or to accept forgiveness is also a form of unforgiveness. I recall vividly a man who told me, “I have been such a bad person and my sins are so terrible that I cannot forgive myself, and I could not respect anyone, not even God, who would forgive me for the things I’ve done.” Refusing to forgive yourself is also unforgiveness. Forgiving yourself is a matter of acknowledging the wrongs and accepting forgiveness, then letting them and the associated guilt go and moving forward in the new direction you are allowed to take. You can’t change your past nor can you live in it. You can let it be the past – by God’s grace the forgiven past – and thankfully reach toward the promises of the future with Him. The principle applies to anyone from whom you are estranged and want to be reconciled.

THE ONE WHO IS AWARE OF THE SEPARATION MUST TAKE THE INITIATIVE IN EFFECTING FORGIVENESS.

Don’t insist that the other person take the first step. If you are an offender you should take the first step (Matthew 5:23-24). If you are the offended don’t wait for the offender to take the first step. Let him know you are open to reconciliation and that you are seeking renewed fellowship with him (Matthew 18:15-17) and are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish that. Both the offender and the offended are hindered from proper worship to God until the separating matter has been corrected.

When you sinned against God who took the first step to make a way back to Him? He did, by supplying a redeemer savior and opening a path for you to Himself in Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

The reason for seeking and giving forgiveness is not to find an excuse for condemning and destroying others but to save them, and to save yourself (Acts 2:40, Philippians 2:12-13).

HOW DOES “WALKING IN THE LIGHT” FORGIVE SIN?

Walking in the light (1 John 1:5-10) means you are doing what you know is right and avoiding what you know is wrong. “Walking in the light” is not synonymous with “being a Christian.” Nobody is perfect, making no mistakes, committing no sins. But if one finds he is wrong then repents and corrects it and seeks God’s forgiveness he will be forgiven. If one finds he is wrong and does not repent it, correct it, and seek forgiveness for it he is no longer walking in the light. Forgiveness is not automatic. Grace is not forgiveness – it is a way toward forgiveness. When one becomes aware of sin it must be repented and whatever else is necessary must be done in order to secure forgiveness. Walking in the light means growing in faith and knowledge and grace (2 Peter 3:18) – as one learns one adapts, one changes if necessary to comply with the new understanding of God’s will.

#geraldcowan #forgiveness

You can’t ask God to do your part for you

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 572 • October 20, 2020

YOU CAN’T ASK GOD TO DO YOUR PART FOR YOU

God said: “If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Myriad professors and pretenders of Christian faith, including many preachers and self-styled evangelists, say it this way: “If we call upon the name of God and pray to Him in the name of Christ, then He will hear from heaven and will forgive our sins and heal our troubled land, our disturbed and wayward nation. He has promised, and He will do it. Will you join us and pray for God to cleanse and heal our nation and our suffering people?” Continue reading

#geraldcowan, #repentance

Trading your soul for a bowl of beans

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 570• October 14, 2020

TRADING YOUR SOUL FOR A BOWL OF BEANS

I have been criticized and some are no longer willing to read what I write or listen to what I preach – some do not believe I tell the truth, others think anything remotely political is outside the purview of a Christian such as I claim to be. “Why not just be content to write and speak about the gospel?” they ask. Continue reading

#geraldcowan

Blessed be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS

Number 569 • October 3, 2020

BLESSED BE THE TIE THAT BINDS OUR HEARTS IN CHRISTIAN LOVE.

Can love, Christian love, be the antidote to racism?

You might want to get your hymn book out and sing John Fawcett’s song “Blessed (or Blest) Be the Tie” – it bears in its first verse the words given as a title to this essay. Hopefully all six verses of the song will be available in your book for you to sing. It emphasizes what we share as Christians: mutual woes, burdens, sympathies, hopes, and expectations of perfect peace, love, and friendship in heaven that will last for all eternity. It emphasizes the value and power of *the fellowship of kindred minds* that keeps us *joined in heart* even when we have to be apart from each other – a pandemic disease is not the only separation and social distancing we endure in life. Continue reading

#fellowship, #geraldcowan, #race

False teachers and false representatives of God

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 568 • October 4, 2020

FALSE TEACHERS AND FALSE REPRESENTATIVES OF GOD

Oh how I love Your law. It is my meditation all the day.
Through Your commandments You make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers;
for Your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the ancients,
because I keep Your precepts. . . .
All Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way. Psalm 119:97-99, 128 NKJV

This Psalm is considered to be inspired scripture – no teacher today is inspired by God, though many seem to think they are and are allowed to speak and are deferred to as if they were by ignorant or naive persons who accept their words as if they were genuine oracles of God. Some are actually willing to set aside the words of scripture and take in their place the words of men overly impressed with themselves who confidently assure us they are telling us what God, the Lord Jesus, the prophets and apostles and other supposed oracles really meant by their words, and what God would be saying now had He kept up with the development of science and culture and, especially, the evolving insights of philosophy and religion. God will not forgive such blasphemy, but we can pray that He will defend and preserve us from it. He will do so if we abide in His precepts, His testimonies, His commandments, His law and covenant. Continue reading

#geraldcowan