Tag: God (page 1 of 9)

Maybe Forgiveness isn’t for You

forgiveness

A common teaching I hear, in my Christian circles, about forgiveness is that it is primarily intended to benefit the person extending it. The understanding is that when we forgive we free ourselves from anger and hurt. Or that forgiveness eliminates barriers between us and God. While I don’t disagree, I have found forgiveness to offer much more than we have come to expect.

The more I study the Bible and meditate on what Jesus said, and how He operated; the more I’m convinced we have an incomplete view of forgiving. In fact our common understanding may actually be a skewed view of the intention of forgiving.

70 times 7

When we see forgiveness in the bible, it always seems to benefit the one being forgiven more than it does the one doing the forgiving. And it is always extended beyond what we would deem acceptable. We see this when Jesus says to forgive 70×7 (Matt 18:21-22). It seems that in forgiving we are to extend God’s grace and mercy and pave the way for the person to come to God. The bible makes it seem as though forgiveness is always for the other person.

In every biblical reference I have read, it always benefits the one being forgiven. To be clear, I am not discounting the benefits we enjoy when we forgive. Forgiveness is an essential part of the internal healing process when someone was hurt. I also know that when you have been really hurt, and I mean devastated, forgiveness can be a far off thing. At some point, and even for an extended time, it may seem as if forgiveness will never come. This article is in no way intended to discount those truths. However, I would like to challenge us all to consider a more Christ-centered experience of forgiveness.

Why Does God Forgive

Isaiah 43:25 says, “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” When we see verses like this it can seem like God is saying that His forgiveness is intended for His benefit. But, when you take the concept of forgiveness across the entirety of the Bible, the desire of God’s heart is to be with His creation. Having his creation reconciled with Him is the motivation for His forgiveness. Because God lacks nothing, and we lack all that is good, His forgiveness still ultimately benefits us, the Forgiven.

The forgiveness we see God display, through Jesus, is not one that releases Him from us, but rather creates a path to Him. He beckons us to reconciliation with Him. Is it possible the type of forgiveness we are called to offer provides this same level of grace and mercy and the same path for the the one who we forgive?

Forgive Without limits

In Matthew 18:21, when Peter asked Jesus how often we should forgive, he suggested seven times, offering what he presumed to be an amount that was full of grace. Jesus countered with “seven times seventy.” This was not Jesus placing an exact number or limit on us forgiving, but instead expressing that forgiving someone goes far beyond any limitations that we can or should imagine.

Biblical Forgiveness

What would happen if we fully embraced the Apostle’s call in Eph 4:32 and Col 3:13 to forgive others like God, through Jesus has forgiven us? What would happen if the forgiveness we offered others created a path to God and invited them to walk toward Him? Maybe we should stop treating forgiveness like it is intended to free ourselves and start treating it like it is intended to free others. Maybe then more people could see that we are offering them a taste of the much sweeter path to forgiveness that Jesus offers.

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photo credit: lifepalette.com

Worry Empties Your Today

Worry


Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.

~ Corrie ten Boom ~


As far back as I can remember, I have had a tendency to worry. It used to be to the point of creating excessive anxiety. Although I didn’t show it on the outside, inwardly I was a wreck.

Today, I am not driven to excessive worry. However, I can still get caught up in worrying about things that are presumably out of my control. If my worry only affected me, it would not be as big of an issue. Unfortunately worry, stress, and anxiety rarely only affect the person experiencing it.

Worry Seeps Out

Over the last few months I have been worrying about some real-life, adult stuff. I had mostly kept it at bay, but recently I started thinking on it to the point that it became overly stressful and started seeping into my outward behavior. I did not recognize this, but my wife did. That worry manifested itself in the form of being short with her. My wife began to worry I was possibly angry at or frustrated with her. I was not. My worries have nothing to do with her. Because we work hard at keeping our lines of communication open, she was able to bring it to my attention.

Any Excellence

The main thing my wife helped me realize during our conversation is how easily we are affected by what we choose to think about. I’m reminded of Paul’s exhortation of what we ought to think on. In Philippians 4:8 he urges, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” It is when we think on these things that God works the renewing of our mind. When we think on these things we are made more and more into the image of Christ. We become more able to deal with our concerns in healthier ways. As we think on these things, worry loses its power over us and we are able to depend more fully on God. Our focus becomes peace rather than worry. Paul concludes this thought by telling us that if we think on those things and “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

He Is Our Peace.

Isn’t that what we all want? Peace? When we worry, our attention is pulled away from God, our heart is dulled, and our peace is stolen from us. But, when we think on the good things of God, we will see clearly that He is with us. He is our peace.

A father’s anger and The Father’s grace.

angry-1431096

If I had to guess, I’d say that as a dad (primarily to my two older sons), I’ve messed up more than I’ve gotten it right. I have tried hard to be a good dad. But for all my effort, all I was doing was trying to modify my children’s behavior rather than nurturing their soul. This was not intentional. It’s how I grew up. I wasn’t equipped for any other type of fathering. Things are quite different now that I am actually committed to following Jesus in a real way; not in the “I go to church every Sunday” way. However, this doesn’t mean everything is perfect.

One of the things I’ve struggled with for most of my life, and definitely as a father, is anger. And not common anger, but a hurtful, rage-type of anger. The type of anger that frightens people. Most of the time it has remained dormant, deep inside. I believed part of being a “good man and father” meant controlling and restraining that anger. Unfortunately, life will eventually reveal the true character of even the most controlled and disciplined person. There are many reasons I carried this anger. While I won’t go into why in this post, it was the result of hurt and unhealthy, emotional crap. Over the past 6 years, God has healed nearly all of it and I’m far less angry. But, again, that doesn’t mean everything is perfect. Occasionally I still screw up as I did with my 18 year old son a couple weeks ago.

Over this last year of school he procrastinated making plans and two months into the summer he still didn’t know what he wanted to do. I’m sure it’s no different a situation than many parents of 18 year-old, young men go through, but nonetheless it was still frustrating.

I’m not sure how other parents would handle that situation. This is new ground for me. I did offer advice and direction. Until about two weeks ago. That’s when the proverbial nuke detonated and he was ground zero. To say I flipped out on him would be an understatement. What I did was go on a 10 minute tirade of steering-wheel, fist banging, accompanied by yelling and cursing. I raged. I reached a point of such severe frustration, that instead of walking away and taking time to regroup and calm down, I unloaded on him. At the end of my tirade he was visibly upset, hurt and frustrated. I walked away. I went to my room and tried to go to sleep. Fail. On a lot of levels, fail.

As we seek to follow Jesus, the Holy Spirit reminds us, as promised, of everything that Jesus said. It’s part of our growth. One reason to establish a consistent time of prayer and Bible reading is to allow for this growth. God speaks to us through His Word. It is in the moments where our behavior is far from Christlike, that God uses the word He’s already spoken to draw us back to Christlikeness. Simply put, in those moments that we least reflect Him, He’s going to speak words from the Bible that we’ve intentionally chosen to hide in our heart. He won’t give us a word that will be easy to ignore, or one we will doubt as being from Him. Instead, He’s going to use Scripture, so that there’s no doubt it is Him Who is speaking. It’s the same reason that when faced with temptation in the desert Jesus told the devil, “It is written…”

As I laid in my bed trying to calm down, all that kept running through my head was, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” Immediately I knew God was calling me to display Christ to my son. I continued to lay there, not knowing what to say to son. Then I felt the Holy Spirit remind me, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” And “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

I went to my son and asked for his forgiveness. He extended it. We were able to have a calmer discussion and we are good. Here’s what I want to share with you:

When I offered my son anger, my Father offered me grace. When I was deaf to my son’s hurt and frustration, my father heard mine. When I refused to extend the fruit of the Spirit to my son, God cultivated and tended to the seeds that Christ had planted in my heart, leading me to extend the same to my son.

We fail…

Because we’re human
Because we’re still being redeemed
Because we’re not yet perfect

But, no matter how we fail, God offers grace. Every time.

You are not a failure, you are human. You will screw up; as a friend, as a leader, as a follower, as a husband and as a dad. I promise. However, God’s grace is bigger.

One of the best things you can do for your children is maintain a consistent prayer and Bible-reading time and listen to the promptings of God. Actions such as seeking the forgiveness of your child is God leading you to father them well.

Grace always trumps anger. Always.

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