It was August 14th 2011 when I posted our first blog entry. The whole idea to start a blog came without much forethought. A friend of mine Brian Coatney started one and it sort of seeped into me, so I began to poke around a little and learned how to do one myself little by little. When it came time to name it I just decided to keep it simple calling it louieandtracey.com easy enough isn’t it? As I shaped the look of the blog I discovered there was a place to write something below our names. I thought well, God reconciled us in Christ and he reconciled Tracey and I why not call it “The Glory of Reconciliation?”
In 2 Corinthians 5:19 we read “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” So it isn’t just that God has reconciled us to him through Christ; he has given us a commission to go and be an agent of reconciliation on his behalf. Wow! I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of anything greater than that.
Tonight was an amazing time in the jail. We had 29 men in the service and they were really listening close. There were six of us and we normally all take turns sharing a little bit of our testimony and some scripture. Tonight I shared how I had three close friends of mine that have died as a result of drugs and alcohol. One of them was Joe and he was shot several times during a drug deal with a 17 yr. old kid. Another one, Hugh died at the age of 33 as a result of a long history of drug abuse and diabetes. The third one, Don was 42 and he committed suicide by turning on a gas stove in a hotel room and going to sleep never to awaken. I’m not telling this to cause anyone any pain but it is true, and I assured those guys tonight if it wasn’t for the grace of God I wouldn’t be standing in front of them telling them there is a better way.
After we prayed at the end of the service a young man came up to me and started telling me about how he and his wife were both in jail due to drugs. He said, “I’ve already done 11yrs. and I think I’ve finally hit bottom and want a change in my life.” I talked with him a little one on one and prayed with him for him and his wife. What happened next totally caught me off guard.
While I talked with this guy I noticed another man standing close by, but he wasn’t talking with any of the other ministers. After I finished praying and most everyone had cleared out of the room I went up to him and asked him if he was waiting to talk to me. He looked at me broken and a tear ran down his cheek. He barely could speak but he said, “I have something on my heart, I need to ask for your forgiveness.” I had no idea what he was talking about, and he said, “I’m the guy that killed your friend. I’ve seen you here before but never said anything to you, but I need to ask you for your forgiveness.” I was stunned. I told him “no one was in the right in that situation, but I do forgive him.” I told him I thought it was great that he had the courage to come to me that way and asked him to let me pray for him. I put my hand on his shoulder and prayed that God would give him peace about this whole thing. I told him as we walked out of the room “reconciliation is real, it’s the real thing.”
On my way home tonight I thought I have to write about this. Then it dawned on me that it is only a few days away from being exactly one year since this blog started. This blog was started primarily to share about how I found reconciliation with God and my wife, but it has to include reconciliation with this man too. I have shared the story of Joe’s death in jail and prison several times and have wondered what became of the guy responsible. Tonight I met him and he was truly broken and hurt over what he had done. There is nothing that can be done to bring Joe back, but I know God has given us the ministry of reconciliation and that is exactly what I am going to do. I am going to continue to spread the message of God reconciling us in Christ.
On my way home from work I got a call on my cell phone, it was the girl at the bank where I put in an application earlier in the day. We set up an interview for in the morning. I was thinking to myself, how was I going to concentrate on the service tonight? The Lord worked it out when the word of God became my focus. My text comes out of John chapter 20 verses 22-23 where Jesus has risen from the dead, appears to the disciples and then breathes on them saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit” and tells them they have the power to forgive sins.
Therefore, we are a new creature once we are born from above. We have now been given the ministry of reconciliation. In Christ, “God reconciled the world to Himself, not counting men’s sins against them. We are God’s ambassadors, as though God were making an appeal through us. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
The forgiveness of sin part is when we have been forgiven; we take that and give it to other people. Jesus was our example when He said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. He has given us that power through the Holy Spirit.
Later I heard from a girl that this was exactly what she needed to hear, because God was telling her to stop playing the victim. She was forgiving the people in her life because she wanted them to not feel the guilt of her pain, but at the same time she was holding on to the offense. It was her way of giving herself permission to not give up the forgiveness. I call that the “cloak of sin.” It means I get to wear protection of having not to confess sin. It’s my excuse to sin. If nobody is perfect and I sin everyday then I must sin, I just can’t help it.
Unfortunately with that attitude we wouldn’t be very good ambassadors for Christ. We are representing one way or the other. I know one girl who I talked with tonight that was anxious to share her leadership with her fellow inmates in the work release program, but they wouldn’t have anything to do with it. She wanted to participate in the prayer circle every Friday at the fountain downtown, but conflict came up and now the majority doesn’t want to go. She is furious, but God spoke to her heart and she knows this could be a test of what is to come. I am so excited to see her growing like this. Anyone who knew her from before Christ will obviously see the change God has done in her life. This represents what being an ambassador for Christ is all about.
Meanwhile, the opportunity presents itself in my own life with the potential of new employment and new ways of representing the one who lives in me. Pray for me.
Written by Tracey