Tag Archives: forgiveness

Hope & the Youth of Today

This morning my 10 year old daughter had a bit of a melt down because she only got 88% for mathematics on her recent progress report, not a grade, but a progress report. It was strange, because when I was a kid my parents would probably have done a dance if I got an 88% at anything, but for my daughter this was unusually low.

While it may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, it was a big deal to her, and thus it also is to me as her father. So we consoled her, we will help her and encourage her and do our best to enable her to reach her full potential, because my wife and I love her more than anything, that’s what parents (should) do.

This was right before I got in the car to head to Dallas where I would be leading worship this morning at The Lord’s Hand & Hearts ministries. It is a homeless outreach that feeds people’s bodies and souls, I have been leading worship there on occasion for a couple of years now. While I was in the car the thought came to me (you can decide how) that what I just experienced is exactly what God experiences with each of us.

When we fall or stumble, when we get trapped by our habitual failings, He doesn’t get mad at us, He loves us and He comforts us. He will be there for us to help us do better in the future. He feels our shame and tells us it will be ok. He has bigger and better things for us to come, if we will trust Him. 

At Solomon’s Porch today (the name for LHH’s Saturday Gathering) the message was delivered not by the pastor, but a group of young volunteers. 5 or 6 of them gave powerful testimonies, thought provoking, inspirational testimonies. Each of them had been through something and with the help of Jesus had come out of the other side and were moving in His kingdom to make a difference in the lives of the homeless this morning. It was truly beautiful, heart warming and soul filling.

I see a lot of “older” people (probably my age lol) complaining about millennials and the youth of today. From what I saw today I can assure you there the future is in good hands. Sure there are some less then stella people in that generation, just like every generation that has ever walked the planet. These children of God, just like my daughter this morning, have lessons to teach us all, directly or indirectly,

I’m not sure exactly where I was trying to go with this, I just felt the need to share a morning in the spirit. A light went back on inside me today, just like it did for several of the guests this morning.

Hope is a good thing my friends, hold on to it,

May hope, peace and love light your way today 🙂

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Pure Love

Accepting responsibility

It is easy to misunderstand

There are many parts of the story

Parts I am smart enough not to share here

 

I can paint you the picture of a victim

Make it all seem so pitiful

I can give you the psychological justifications

As they have been revealed to me

 

The cross I bear

Is not that of things that could have been

But of choices that I freely made

Certainly they were influenced

 

But at the end of the day

I still made the choice

I sought acceptance in the wrong place

I said yes when I should have said no

 

Over and over and over

I chose to build a reputation a certain way

No one made me, I chose that

Now I can see why it happened

 

Then it was just living life

Sometimes I wonder

How much easier would the “good” life be?

If the echoes of the past were not there to haunt me

 

Then, as always

I am reminded

This is the present

This is where you are to live

 

The past is done

All of my reckless stupidity, hidden desperation

Every sin, past present and future

Has been paid for

 

He who has been forgiven much will love much

Oh my King, my love for you is beyond measure

My sin has been cast as far as the east is from the west

My love for you is greater than life itself

 

I pick up my cross daily

No longer through shame

But through devotion, adoration

Beautiful, pure as pure love gets

 

Through Grace Alone

It is through grace alone

That I am here today, not the sum of regrets

For the boy that was and the boy that could have been

But the man who is, who is not the man that was

 

Without that grace

The man who is, is not

And the boy that was is

Thank You for Your grace Father

 

I am eternally grateful

That your love

Always has & always will

Outweigh my imperfections

Broken male culture – Part 5 – Forgiveness

If knowledge is gained through experience, I should be pretty familiar with the subject of forgiveness. I have had much to be forgiven for in my life time & have also had much to forgive. Some connected, some disconnected but all necessary & all small steps towards what I feel is finally some sort of real mental health, peace & stability. That is not to say I have life figured out, but I am fully connected to the One that does. Nor is it to say I don’t continue to do things out of my stupidity that will not require some form of forgiveness again. Sinning out of brokenness is one thing, sinning out of stupidity is another, connected, just as bad in the eyes of God, yet somehow different. The knowledge that I have made a mistake comes so quickly now, without prompting (or desire to know sometimes), I just know.

I’ve heard it said that this is because once we become a new creation in Christ, sin is no longer our nature, we are no longer sinners by nature. That does not mean we do not sin, but as I’m sure you know, there is that immediate knowledge that comes from inside letting you know you did something that was not good for you to do. A lot of the time it is something that used to bring you pleasure with no remorse, not that same act is contrary to your very nature. This allows me to be in a place to rectify the errors of my ways much quicker than in the past, where it could be many, many days, weeks or even years before I even realized what was causing an issue.

So I suppose this is where I could tell you about how important it is to forgive people, to forgive yourself, to restore relationships, especially a right relationship with the Lord. I could tell you that, but you already know it, deep inside you know it. What I want to do is to look at what exactly forgiveness is, what I know of it & what the bible says about it. Maybe take a little look at why people are so afraid of it. It seems to me that sometimes people become so numb to their constant pain that the thought of a brief, if worse pain, that leads to freedom from pain all together is not a choice that is easily made.

Sometimes you are so numb to the truth, that you think everything is ok, that there is nothing to deal with. This is what happens when we develop coping mechanisms to avoid our pain, we live in these masks, with these lies long enough, that we forget that they are not correct. It is at this point that our core identity becomes based around a lie, our coping mechanisms, our life. We feel like we can handle the mess that is life because, hey that’s just the way life is. The good news however is that life does not have to be that way.

What is forgiveness really? It is not saying something is ok. Forgiveness is like a wound that was once deep but had been allowed to heal. This wound has been treated. Now it is just a scar. Each day you think less and less about the scar. You can look at it and remember something that was once very painful; but as you look at the scar, you know that the wound itself is only a memory. This is forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not about trying to be a nice person, or trying to do the right thing. When we really forgive people, we release any feeling that they owe us for the wrong done. We are the ones to release the wrong.

When I see the wrong done to me by another as their problem, not mine, and my pain as my problem not theirs, I have forgiven. When I forgive I let go of control. When I forgive I let go of blame. When I forgive I choose to not hold you responsible for me and to not hold myself responsible for you.

You say, well that all sounds great, but I can’t do it, I can’t forgive them. Even if I know what it really means, I just can’t do it. Well no, you probably can’t, but through Christ you can. Through the power of His spirit that lives within you, you can, because its not you doing it, it’s Him. If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, then my friend, that is where all this begins, if this is on your heart, then right now is the perfect time to confess your sins to Him, and accept Him as your Lord and savior. In the eyes of God, the wages of sin are death. However because He loved you so much, He came to earth, fully human and paid the price for your sins, my sins, anyone who will accept Him, sacrificially in our place. You see, when you experience the love of God your capacity to love others grows. This allows you to forgive the seemingly unforgivable.

Jesus did all this (in covenant) for you (me, everybody). He surrendered his rights & assumed responsibility for our sins. He could have called down an army of 10,000 angels, but instead he made a covenant with us through love.

Not interested? Think life is just fine running along with your anger and bitterness? Did you ever wonder where that anger comes from? Where the resentment comes from? That bitterness that makes the happy moments oh so brief and the rest of life a miserable grind? It comes from unforgiveness. When you have been hurt, when you have been offended, when you have been abused, it is natural to feel pain, anger, resentment etc.

Forgiving people, even the seemingly unforgivable, is not handing a license for someone to hurt you again. Forgiveness is not an agreement between two people, it is a decision of the will to remove the hold that situation had over your life. To let go. A lot of the time it will not be a face to face situation, there is a good chance other person doesn’t even know that you are mad at them that they hurt you. Even if they do, this is not about them, this is about you and you receiving the freedom that God wants for you in your life.

Unforgiveness is like eating rat poison & hoping it will hurt someone else. Don’t listen to anyone that says you should hold a grudge the rest of your life, that message is from the devil. Tell the devil to go to hell, God wants intimacy with you, do not settle for less than friendship with Jesus. If you are so caught up in your pain, you will never get to that place of true intimacy with God.

That right there, the fear of the Lord should be the overriding motivation to forgive others. The fear of the Lord is not the fear of punishment by the Lord, it is the fear or not being with the Lord. The fear of losing His guiding hand, His loving discipline, His unending grace. The fear of not knowing the Lord, is the only fear we should ever carry, not the fear of what will happen if I surrender my anger and resentment for the things that have happened in my past. The fear of the lord is the beginning of wisdom.

I said I was going to involve the bible in this didn’t I? Well, here are a few of my favorite verses on forgiveness. Hopefully they will speak to you as they have done to me.

Luke 11:2-4  New International Version (NIV)

He said to them, “When you pray, say:

“‘Father,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
    for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation

 

Luke 17:3-5   New International Version (NIV)

So watch yourselves.

“If your brother or sister[a] sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

Luke 23:32-34 New International Version (NIV)

32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

Luke 6:37-38 New International Version (NIV)

Judging Others

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Matthew 18:21-35  New International Version (NIV)

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[a]

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[b] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[c] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

 

 

I really could have just stopped with the Lord’s prayer, forgive us as we forgive others, but I like scripture so I gave you some extras. That says it all though, I’m sure we have all payed the Lords prayer at some point, think about it, we are asking our Father to forgive us, just as we forgive others. If we are withholding forgiveness, then how can we expect to be forgiven?

 

Now, the main focus of this series has been men and what I call broken male culture. However this subject, forgiveness, like much of the rest is completely applicable to all. I just believe that if we could empower men to get past their hurt, to get past their blocked emotions and to start working on getting healthy. Then I think we would see a transformed world.

Can we change the world of broken male culture? I believe so, but it will be slow small steps, one man at a time, I’ll be working on me, with the guiding hand of the Trinity. Hopefully as my light begins to shine ever brighter, it will encourage others to light their lamp. Maybe one day instead of broken male culture, we will be talking about the light of the city of the side of the hill that cannot be ignored.

 

 

 

I’d love to pretend this is all my own work, but much of what I have learned on this subject has come from the below wonderful people

Pastor Toby Slough – the senior pastor at Cross Timbers Community Church

Pastor Alan Smith – from Gateway

Graham Cooke – Brilliant publishing, look him up on youtube & twitter (and probably other places too)

Making Peace With Your Past – a 12 week course I took that was the true genesis of my understanding of forgiveness and what it meant in my life

 

Do Not Cross

The recent sermon series at my church was titled The Power of Everybody. It is no surprise to me that I loved it (I love all the series my church does), but this one particularly spoke to me, and not that there was a doubt, showed me once again why God moved the way He did to get me to a church in a tiny north Texas town.

The concept is simple, Jesus came for everybody & we are all better when we are together in real community. Again, Jesus came for everyone, not just for good people, not just for people who follow all the rules, not just for people who have life figured out. He came for all people.  It seems that so often in western Christianity this is too easily forgotten, where church becomes a country club to separate “us from them”.  That sickens me on so many levels, first because it is just wrong, read the gospels and that is clear. Secondly, if Christianity was about the “good” people, then I would still be lost in a directionless life of sin. I would not sit here typing as a spirit filled baptized believer, forgiven, healed, and walking in freedom. My life and my destiny have been completely changed over the last ten years and my heart cries out for those who are where I was. It is my great desire to help, even in some small way, people to find the gift of grace that I found. One thing is for sure, if God loves me enough to do what He has done for me, then he certainly loves you enough.

Too much of Christianity over the last 2000 years has been manipulated into rules to control people, the work of satan, in order that the message of the gospel is watered down. This is how we have come to the place we are at today where there is so much religion & yet so little real relationship with Christ & so few walking in the freedom of redemption. There are millions of saved believers who do not know the freedom of being released from the bonds of sin. There are even more people who do not know Christ & will not because too many people draw lines through hypocrisy based on the sins of others – breaking news, we all sin & no sin is greater than another, they are all acts against the will of God.

I have met people who quite proudly have told me that they choose not to build relationships with no-Christians, based on flawed logic like “how could you trust them”. Each to their own I supposed, but I have some fundamental issues with this way of thinking. First and foremost, it is about as opposite to the way Jesus lived as you can get, just look at the disciples, a motley crew of people that society had no real use for.

Secondly, if you choose to live this way, you are missing out on relationships with some of the best people you will ever meet. Many of my friends are non-believers, that does not & should not ever get in the way of building a relationship. If you truly want to lead people to Christ, so sow seed etc, then you need to be spending time with people who do not know Christ. The most effective method for leading people to Christ is not to tell them they are wrong! It is to love them through relationships, let them see the light of Christ in your life, be available & if the time ever arises, be ready to share the gospel. Pray about it, when and if the time is right, it will happen, it is not your place to force it, it is your place to be ready to be used when God chooses to use you.

Enter into these relationships with a gentle caution though. You must first be deeply rooted in relationship with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Be transparent but deliberate, Christ in your life must be clear, especially when disclosing how he helps with your struggles. Enjoy these friendships for what they are, but when you need counsel in life, make sure you are getting it from spirit filled people. Go to experts on your situation. If your marriage is struggling, the best person to guide you is probably not someone who is on their third or fourth marriage; it is much more likely to be the person who has been married 30 or 50 years. This is simple wisdom & available to all from God by simply asking for it.

Where do people get the idea from then that it is a good and Christian thing to do to not associate with non-believers? Much of it is caused by fear, unaddressed brokenness that makes people not want to put themselves in a position to be rejected, I get that, I have been there. I pray that people can see that they need help though and that they are not being righteous hiding in their defense mechanisms.

There is another common thing that I have seen though, and that is a small part of the bible used to look like it is instructing exactly the actions that are being used, yet the text is completely out of context. The same way televangelists trick people into giving them money.

Take a look at 2 Timothy 3:1

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

Wow, that sums up the early 21st century pretty completely. Of course, it sums up the history of the world pretty well too if you look at it through negative eyes. If you read just this text then you could easily use it as a defense to stay away from people who do not love God.

Now I’m not going to lie to you, Pauline theology gives me tired head, yes he gave us some of the greatest written words in history, but sometimes his overly educated lawyer talk is just over my simple head. So rather than trying to figure this out myself (which would make this an article for 2015) I did a little research. I found an interesting website & the text addressing this specific part of scripture is here http://preceptaustin.org/2_timothy_31-5.htm . There is a lot to it, it seems like a very interesting website, I plan on visiting more.

So back on track, the main part of their research that jumped out at me was this:

Remember the context — Paul is speaking to Timothy who is most likely the pastor of the church at Ephesus and he is instructing him about how to guard the treasure and exhorting him to pass it on to faithful men. In short, the description in 2Ti 3:1-8 is not that of men outside the church but of those inside the church (cp Paul’s warning to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28 29 30 3132 – Note especially Paul’s emphasis on the importance of the church leaders in Acts 20:32If you are an elder or pastor, are you imbibing, eating, saturating yourself with and in the Word of His grace that you might recognize and counter wolves in sheep’s clothing in your flock, men who have a form of godliness but lack the power thereof? see Titus 1:9note cp Mt 7:15 16note Mt 7:17 18 19 20note)

 

So when we understand the scripture in this context, then clearly it is not telling Aunt Edith (made up character) to stay away from the bad people at the bingo hall (do they still have them?). Here we have an example of what I believe is deriving a completely literal account from the bible, completely out of context and then allowing it to provide a warped view of how we as Christians are to behave in the world.

Do I believe the bible is completely true and accurate? Yes. However I believe it must be viewed in context. Some of the context of the bible is in the form of poetry, or word pictures to explain how things happened or will happen, the bible is not Gods diary recounting step by step all that happened. It is the user manual for life, Gods living and breathing word, His guideline for how life is designed to work. It is Him speaking directly to you and if you allow Him, He will changed your life through His word, but only when you accept it as His living word, not just a book to be read because you were told that is what “good people” do.

How would Jesus have us deal with people who are not the same as us? Let’s visit the Sermon on the Mount, The Beatitudes, if you want the Cliff Notes for how to make life work you need to go no further than Matthew 5. If we look at this particular piece of the scripture:

 

Matthew 5: 43-44

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. ‘But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. 

 

Then clearly we are not to avoid people, how can you love someone if you are avoiding them for not being just like you?

So what can we do about this divisive, exclusive culture that has grown? Good question, I believe like all good things in the Kingdom, it starts small. It starts with building a strong foundation. It starts by Gods people saying enough, we will not draw lines. If Christ can save the murderer on the cross next to him whilst He is being killed for my sins, then I can certainly extend a welcome to those who need it most. Instead of drawing lines of exclusion, we need to draw circles of inclusion. Jesus paid the price for ALL our sins, not just some of them, not just for the nice folks at church, all of them.

To receive his gift of forgiveness through grace, we have to acknowledge our sins, give our lives to Him as God. And then get ready for a new life, one centered in love & one that like it or not will result in life change. The sin that was once so appealing will over time become detestable to you, not because some goody two shoes said you were bad, but because you have been loved through your faults. The result of receiving this kind of love is a changed heart.

Friends, we need to quit trying to fix people, that is God’s work, what we need to do is get people to Jesus & then get the heck out of the way. We are not called to be God, we are called to be one of the folks holding the mat of the paralytic, those four great men whose names are unknown, yet they set the perfect example of how to live a Christ centered life.

The life change offered by the gospel of Christ & relationship with the Holy Trinity is not one that says get it together first, it is one that says come as you are.

You are loved and accepted as you are, once you realize that be prepare to receive it and then get ready to change, because it is inevitable and wonderful. Will everyone be saved? No. Can everyone be saved? Yes. What we need to do is not play a role in deciding who is saved; we need to play a role in making sure everyone knows that the gift of eternal salvation is theirs for the taking, if they will only accept it. So let’s all stop drawing lines that say do not cross & start drawing circles that say come on in, you are included and you are welcome.

May the peace of God rest upon you.

 

 

 

 

Forgiveness is not easy

Sometimes you have to take the time

To realize how truly blessed you are

Sometimes you have to make the effort

To learn how to forgive yourself

 

You will never be perfect

You will always make mistakes

The mistakes of your past

May have haunted you for many years

 

It is time to let that go

It is time to forgive yourself

It is time to enjoy breathing

Time to begin living

 

Forgiveness is not easy

No matter who the subject is

Oddly enough, forgiving one’s self

Can be the most difficult of all

 

This is when you should call upon divine power

When you are not enough, He is

When you cannot forgive, He will

When you are sick & tired of being sick & tired

 

Let Him give you the power to receive the life He wants you to have

You may never finish your to do, or should do list

But if you are too busy laughing, crying, talking or singing

Then that list will pail into the insignificant thing that it really is anyway

There is therefore now no condemnation

In this fallen and broken world

Troubles will surely come

One day or another

Your courage and your determination

Will be tested as a result

 

Yet He Himself said

 

Take heart, for I have conquered the world                          John 16:33

 

Perspective, it is so difficult to control

The world tells us we are screwed

Yet there is hope available if you look outside the world

 

Do not be conformed to this present world,                                                         Romans 12:2

But be transformed by the renewing of your mind

So that you may test and approve what is the will of God.

 

In this life there is something we must not do

Yet it is so easy, natural, for us to do

We must not confuse the facts with the truth

 

The truth is that God will bring good

Out of your terrible facts

You are not being punished

 

There is therefore now no condemnation                                              Romans 8:1

For those who are in Christ Jesus

 

God is NOT punishing you for your sins

That was finished and paid for at the cross

Yes there are consequences for your actions still

But that is not God punishing you.

 

For I consider that our present sufferings                                              Romans 8:18

Cannot even be compared

To the glory that will be revealed to us

 

The glory that will come out of

Walking with God

Through your sufferings

Will over power your suffering

 

And we know that all things work                                            Romans 8:28

Together for good for those who love God

And are called according to His purpose

 

God is working to leverage your situation

In this broken world

For your good

Nothing can separate you from Him

 

If you focus of the facts

The problem snowballs

It only ever gets bigger

Quit searching for answers and

Start searching for God

 

For He has all the answers

Allow Jesus to change your perspective

When your perspective changes

Everything changes

When God shows up

You will never be the same

 

 

 

 

These are basically my sermon notes from last Sunday, Toby gave an amazing lesson as usual. They had an almost lyrical way to them as I took them down, slightly edited & you get what you see here. Hopefully you got something from it.

 

 

amazing-grace