How Big is Your Spread?

You spread out our sins before you – our secret sins – and you see them all.  Psalm 90:8 (NLT)

I read Westerns.  I never used to like them but as I have grown older they’ve grown on me.  My favorite author is Ralph Compton.  While reading and watching Westerns I have heard the word “spread” a lot.  “How big is your spread?” or “I really want a big spread when I get done driving these cattle.” are common phrases. 


What they are talking about, for those that don’t know, is a piece of land.  “How big is your piece of land?” 

Let’s ask ourselves something.  How big is our spread?  The difference is that I’m referring to our spread of sin.  If God spread out my sin or your sin how big a spread would it be?  Would you have a lot, a block, how about an acre?  Maybe you are a hell-raiser and have a 40 acre spread.  I would be willing to bet that most of us have a pretty good size spread, I KNOW I do.  Today alone I have sinned at least 5 times that I can think of and I have only been awake for 30 minutes. 

Most of them are “secret” sins.  You know those right?  The ones we are ashamed for people to see.  The thoughts and intentions that if anyone got a good look at they would run screaming to the police that we were some kind of monster, yeah those.  We all have sins that it’s ok for others to see.  Mine are jokes.  I have a hard time controlling my humor.  It tends to get racy and mean.  I try to be careful but the words seem to flow out on their own.  And while this isn’t good the sad fact is that if you could look in my head and see what is really flying through you would probably be scarred for life.  BUT, (and it’s a big but) I bet the same would be true for you if I looked inside your noggin’.

The cool part is that not only does God see all our sins, even our secret ones, but He forgives all our sins as well.  We only have to ask. 

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.  1 John 1:9 (NLT)173662_1979

This does not mean it is ok to sin.  It’s not ok to do wrong.  When we sin, when we go against God it does several things but mainly it hurts God and hurts us.  It hurts God because of His sacrifice to forgive our sins.  If we sin and keep sinning the same way over and over we make a mockery of what Jesus did on the cross, His sacrifice for us.  It also hurts us.  Sin repels God’s blessings in our lives.  Sin cuts our communication with God.  Sin hurts our relationship with others.  Sin can cause physical illness.  Sin destroys families. 

BUT!!!!   But, if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from every wrong.  That’s not to say the consequences from sin won’t still be there, but the relationship with God will be restored.  When my kids get in trouble and tell me they’re sorry I forgive them but the consequences remain.  They may not be as steep if they realize what they did and seek forgiveness, but the consequences are still there.  I am teaching them and reinforcing the lesson just like God does with me.

How big is your “spread” pardner?  It’s not nearly as big as God’s ability to forgive!


It’s all about Him,


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I’m not Einstein!


The Forgiveness Formula- Part 2

800px-Pi_plate Part 1 can be found – HERE.

In part 1 we scratched the surface of forgiveness.  We talked about the fact that we are commanded by God to forgive.  I also presented my first equation on forgiveness: Forgiveness = Freedom.  Today I want to look at the second equation in my Forgiveness Formula;

Forgiveness + Love = Restoration

This goes beyond the command to forgive.  This is to tap the barrel of love that Jesus has given us.  This is a slightly irrational response to being hurt.  Normally, we’re hurt and because of the command to forgive, we move past the hurt enough to not hold bitterness in our heart and forgive the offender.  Sometimes that’s all we can do.  Sometimes the pain or the offense is so horrible that achieving forgiveness is the extent of our ability. 

But as Christ-Followers, the limit or our abilities is the beginning of Jesus’ abilities through us.  This is what separates us from non-Christians.  Here is the difference, our ability to forgive and love someone that hurt us, regardless of the circumstance, is the love of God working in us and through us.  Even if they didn’t want or ask for our forgiveness.  Jesus is an irrational guy.  Rationality tells us that when someone hurts us we should be mad and hurt them back, an eye for an eye if you will, but Jesus turns this on it’s head and tells us to love our enemies.

43-47"You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.  48"In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you."  Matthew 5:43-48 The Messagereflect

Grow up!  Live out your God-created identity!  Be different from everyone else.  Go the extra mile.  Think beyond yourself.  Reflect God! 

This is a hard thing to do.  It’s a little revolutionary. 


Now check out Romans 12:1-2 in the Message;

1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

You see, it’s our calling to be different, to go beyond the norm.  That passage said at the end that “God brings the best out of you.”  What’s the best?  Love.  The two Greatest Commandments start with love; Love God and Love others.  Jesus ends that passage by saying that EVERYTHING hangs on these commandments to love.  Paul says that out of faith, hope and love the greatest is love.  1 John tells us that love comes from God and if you don’t know or have love you don’t know or have God because God IS love.

When we begin to love someone that hurt us our anger fades and the ability to care for that person replaces it.  This could take a while.  It is probably not an overnight thing.  Give it time.  Start slow.  Let the Holy Spirit guide you. 

Quick Hits about how to find love for someone that hurt you.

1.  Pray for yourself– Pray that God would change YOUR heart, not theirs.  Pray that God would help you to love them.  Pray that God would quench the anger or hate in your heart with His love.

2.  Pray for them.  Pray for them.  And,  pray for them again.  Don’t pray against them, pray FOR them.  Don’t pray that God would change them.  Don’t pray that God would “Get them”.  Pray that God would bless them.  If you know some of the sins in their life you can pray that God would teach them and soften their heart to His will. You can pray for restoration between that person and God.  You can pray for healing if they are sick.  The key is to only pray for good things.  The longer and more earnestly you do this the more love you will feel for them.  It will be hard at first but don’t give up.1117094_73120387

  Forgiveness + Love = Restoration 

Restoration of a relationship, restoration of family, restoration of unity.  Restoration of a person to God, restoration of life.  Forgiveness + Love is a powerful thing!


One caveat, this doesn’t mean you should place yourself in danger.  I am NOT telling someone to stay in an abusive relationship.  I have counseled many people to get to a safe place and not go back.  However, this does not preclude you from forgiving and loving that person.  Trust is an altogether different issue from forgiveness and love.  I can love someone and not trust them.

Coming Soon- The Forgiveness Formula- Part 3

It’s all about Him,


Did you like this post? Did you hate it? Please share it with your friends and leave a comment below. I would love to read your thoughts and opinions.

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You can also check out the Other Resources page for Bible Study Helps as well as links to media downloads, all free!
Want to show God’s love in a practical way and let people know where they can go for more info or help? Take a look at the DUO page.

Questions? Don’t forget to visit the Questions??Questions?? page and let me know. I will try to answer it the best I can. No Quantum Physics or Time Travel questions please!


I’m not Einstein!

The Forgiveness Formula – Part 1

I have been reading Charles Stanley’s book, Landmines in the Path of the Believer during my quiet time with God.  The current chapter is on unforgiveness.  A few people I know have expressed to me that they are having trouble with this concept.  It’s hard to forgive someone that has hurt you.  It’s hard to let the anger go.  It’s hard to move on.  But we must.  We must move past the anger, past the hurt.  The Bible actually commands us to forgive.  It tells us that we must.  Why?  Why are we commanded to forgive?  Why is it wrong to hold on to those feelings?  Maybe you are like me and think, if I forgive the person that hurt me I will be letting them off the hook.  Or maybe you feel if I forgive that jerk for what he/she did I will even be encouraging them to do it again.  Maybe my forgiveness will be a silent declaration that what they did was ok, or even that I agree with it.  In actuality, nothing could be farther from the truth.  And we all want Truth!  With that said, may I offer my Forgiveness Formula.

Forgiveness = Freedom

“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.”  Galatians 5:1  The Message

What happens when we hold a grudge?  Here’s what happens to me.  Someone does something to hurt me, lets call him Bob (Bob is my favorite guy to pick on, no relation to Bob Newhart).  So Bob ticks me off, maybe he says something derogatory about me or maybe he does something mean to my wife.  Anger flares in my mind.  I’m so ticked all I see is red.  I say something and walk away but it’s not enough.  Soon the situation is replaying in my mind over and over.  Things I should have said start coming to me.  “I should have been meaner, I shouldn’t of held back.”  I should have called him a “such-in-such”.  Soon my witty, cutting remarks turn physical, “Man, I should have just decked the sorry sucker.”  “Why didn’t I beat the meanness out of him.”  Then I start thinking about what’s going to happen the next time I see him.  “If he says anything to me this is what I’m going to say….’”  I start rehearsing it like I’m rehearsing lines for a movie, a movie where I’m Arnold and he’s actor “f”, you know, the guy that Arnold kills so fast they didn’t even bother to give him a name. 

On and on I replay and visualize the next encounter until he’s lying dead in a broken bloody heap, yup, Bob’s dead!  OK, OK, maybe I’m being a little dramatic but you get the point.  Here’s the problem, if left unchecked, our anger for that person begins to dominate our thoughts and soon our lives.  Revenge is what we focus on, it consumes us.  If you can’t go a day without thinking about how someone has hurt you, you’re living in un-forgiveness.  If you can’t go a week or even a month without some angry feeling popping up about someone, you’re living in unforgiveness.  Whether you know it or not, you have become a slave to that person.  All you can think about is the wrong you suffered.  It affects your life.  You see things through an anger-filled pair of glasses.

mrs_potato_head_mr_potato_head_toy_story_2_001Have you ever seen the first Toy Story?  Remember when the toys were headed out to  find Woody?  Mrs. Potato Head said to Mr. Potato Head, “Don’t forget you’re angry eyes!”  (Yes, I did just use Mr. Potato Head in a devotion about God- any other requests?)  Sometimes we have angry eyes. 


Anger leads to unforgiveness which in turn leads to bitterness.  Once bitterness and unforgiveness have a hold of you they don’t let go.  That person that you’re angry at now has control of your life.  You are no longer free. 

Quick Hits about forgiveness-

1.  It’s a choice.  You have to choose to let go of every feeling of resentment.  No matter what “Bob” does to you, forgiveness means no longer harboring any anger for them.  “Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.”  Colossians 3:13 The Message

2. Give up your “right” to get even.  As a Christ-Follower you don’t actually have a right to get even. “Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. "I’ll do the judging," says God. "I’ll take care of it."”  Romans 12:17-19  The Message

3. It’s up to God to deal with people that hurt or abuse you, so let Him.  “For we know the one who said,   “I will take revenge.  I will pay them back.”  Hebrews 10:30  NLT

This doesn’t mean we forget what they did, that’s not possible nor is it preferable.  To forget and allow that person to continue to hurt you is not what we are called to do.  But we must forgive.  We must forgive in order to be free.

“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.”  Galatians 5:1  The Message 

Look for Part 2 in the series, “The Forgiveness Formula” soon….

Did you like this post? Did you hate it? Please share it with your friends and leave a comment below. I would love to read your thoughts and opinions.

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You can also check out the Other Resources page for Bible Study Helps as well as links to media downloads, all free!
Want to show God’s love in a practical way and let people know where they can go for more info or help? Take a look at the DUO page.

Questions? Don’t forget to visit the Questions??Questions?? page and let me know. I will try to answer it the best I can. No Quantum Physics or Time Travel questions please!


I’m not Einstein!

Diapers in the Wash

Diaper    I am going to give any new parents out there a little advice.  It is important so I need you to pay close attention.  Don’t wash disposable diapers in the washing machine with your clothes.  Pampers and jeans DON’T mix.  Here is what happened, I opened the washing machine to be a great husband and help my wife with the kids laundry, we have three kids so there is always laundry, and as I pull the clothes out there is this fuzzy, grainy, slimy, not sure how to explain it, stuff all over the clothes.  I ask my wife, “Baby, what in the world is all over these clothes?”  She comes and looks and says, “I washed a diaper with the clothes.”  To which I reply, “On purpose???”  For which I get a smack on the arm, I get hit a lot!!  Generally I deserve it.  She says,”No not on purpose, one of the kids must have thrown it in there.”  WHOA, whoa, whoa, I can’t blame the kids when I pass gas but she can blame them for this.  That is wrong on several different levels.

Here come the fun part.  She tells me all the clothes have to be taken outside and each one has to be shaken out, turned inside out and shaken out again.  She, of coarse, has a headache or some other debilitating sickness, so I gamely say, “I’ll do it Honey.”  She smiles a knowing smile and walks away.

I get all the clothes out of the wash and go out on the porch and begin to shake the clotes out.  This is a horrible job.  Each piece of clothing has to be shook out individually, remember these are kids clothes, which means there are approximately 1,352 pieces of clothing in the laundry basket.  Onsies, long sleve onsies, jeans ( with lots of pockets that have to be turned inside out), sweaters and jackets with hoods, socks, more socks and socks after that.  I think you get the picture.  I was out there for what seemed like an hour.  The other problem is that as you shake the clothes out the little diaper boogers fly all over the place, on me, in my hair, on my glasses.  Nasty work.  Thankfully it was a pee diaper and not the alternative!

I got to thinking, isn’t our spiritual life the same way?  Stay with me for a minute and it will make sense, or at least more sense than it does now.  Lets say the diaper represent sin and the clothes represent different areas of our life and the washing machine is the world.

We are going through our cycle of life and somehow a diaper of sin gets thrown in, a few minutes later, boom, it explodes and shoots sin boogers all over us.  They are every where, in the creases, in the folds, in all the cracks and crevasses.  The only way to get rid of them is to stop the cycle and shake each part of your life out, turn it inside out and shake it out again.  We should constantly be examining ourselves for sin boogers.  The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23 “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”  We all have sin boogers, not one of us is perfect.  But that is ok, God gave us a way to get rid of sin, in Romans 6:23 He tells us “the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

If you are already a Christ-Follower you should always check the laundry of life to see where the sin boogers are.  Maybe they are in your work laundry.  You should be living right at work but your not.  You claw your way to the top, stepping on anyone that gets in the way, or maybe you steal from work, pens, tools, how about time?  When you should be working your goofing off.  Maybe it’s your home laundry,  you should be spending time with your family but you are always out with friends or at the bar. How about your marriage laundry, are you washing someone else’s clothes with yours?  Then there is the internet laundry, did you visit a site by accident and then another and then another?  Take a look at your laundry, are there sin boogers on it?  Does it need to be shaken out and rewashed?  Stop the wash cycle and take a break, look at each piece carefully, sometimes sin is very small and hides from you.  Once the sin is found the only thing left is to shake it out, ask God for forgiveness.  1 John 1:9 says “But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right. He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done.”

If you are not a Christ-Follower and would like some more info on becoming one go here,  Christ-Follower.

Remember- Sin is the path of least resistance, but God’s forgiveness is the way to a fulfilled existence!

First Day of School

preschool.jpg It’s a big day in the Holmes Household. Today my son, who turned 4 two days ago begins his first adventure, he starts Preschool today. He is excited, he is ready, he is stoked! My wife, not so much- “I want him to go because it will be good for him, but I don’t want to let him go because I’ll miss him.” My Mom asked her how she was handling it and she told her, not very well. To which Mom replied, “Good, if you were ready for him to go you wouldn’t be a good Mom.”

I told my wife he would be fine. He is smart, funny and good looking and for those that read yesterdays post, he did get a hair cut and it looks GOOD! So he is ready. But I am reminded of that new country song by Billy Ray Cyrus and his daughter, “Ready, Set, Don’t Go” That sums up my wife. A mothers love is a powerful thing. She knows it is best for him to start school but that doesn’t over-ride her instinctive need to protect and care for him.

I think God faces that same problem day after day, He loves us so much He knows what’s best for us but it still hurts him to have to let us go. Sometimes we all do our own thing don’t we. We know God wants us to do this but either we feel we have a better idea or that God isn’t doing it fast enough. So we strike out on our own and tell God, “I got this.” But it must be hard for Him to let us do this, but His love commands He give us Free Will and Free Choice.

There is a story Jesus tells in the Bible about a Prodigal Son or the Parable of the Lost Son. You can read it here- Luke 15:11-32. Basically, a kid tells hid Dad I’m out a here, give me my inheritance now. Dad gives him his money and the son sets of to take the world by storm. Unfortuanately the world storms over him and soon he is broke and starving. The food for the pigs begins to look appetizing and he realizes what a fool he has been. The thought comes to him that his Dad’s help eats better than this so he returns home. His Dad see’s him walking up the driveway and flips out, not in anger but with elation. He tells his servents to make a feast because his son has returned home.

This is a story of God and us. We all walk away and do our own thing and then return to God when pig slop starts to look like sloppy joes. And how it must hurt God to watch us go out but the elation when we return will be incredible.

My wife will cry, she will call me and vent her sorrow and she will be miserable all day because my son will leave her, not in an act of rebellion but because it is what is best for him, but when he returns home this afternoon, my wife will throw her arms around him and the tears of sadness will be tears of joy, the sorrow will become gladness, and her misery will become a memory as she scoops him up and he talks about how his day was so awesome and how he played and did this and that.

If an earthly mom can have so much love for her son, how much more love does our Heavenly Father have for us?

Remember- God loves you enough to let you fail and He loves you enough to accept you back with open arms, every time.