One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." Luke 23:39-43
This morning as I came into my office prior to church, I noticed that the answering machine was flashing. Typically if it is flashing on Sunday morning, it is one of my elderly members letting me know that they won't be able to make it to church. This wasn't typical. When the message began to play I instantly recognized the voice.
"Uh yes, Pastor Corey this is "Dismas", I am the one who took the hot dogs without asking and you gave me your card. I was wanting to know if I could come to church there. Again, this is "Dismas", the man that took the hot dogs without asking and I would like to come to church. Please call me."
I immediately called him back and didn't get an answer. I called later in the afternoon and I didn't get an answer. I called him again this evening.
"Oh thank God. Pastor, this is "Dismas", the one who took the hot dogs without asking and I was wanting to come to church to give my testimony and to repent. You took me in the sanctuary and you prayed with me. I want to come there, would that be okay?"
"Absolutely; you are welcome here."
We made arrangements to meet tomorrow.
"You forgave me and I love you for it."
"I love you too man."
We have been robbed twice during my tenure. Twice the thieves were forgiven. Twice we fed the thieves. Twice the thieves have reached back out to the church. Never have they asked us for a thing. One attends regularly and will chase my vehicle through the neighborhood on his bike (50 something year old man) just to say hi. The other? We'll find out tomorrow.
Welcome to Grace.