Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

Some of my best ideas came from my prayer walks. This was one of those. I knew I wanted to speak on forgiveness, but how could I express it in a way that would stick? I walled a couple of miles when it hit me. At first I just thought I was just being distracted, which happens far too often, but no it turned out to be the right image for the story. I started thinking about Pink Floyd’s album The Division Bell These two monolithic/robotic looking heads that when seen at a distance appear to be one face. Cool design, but the connection didn’t come right away, but then I thought about it. What if instead of two statue like heads, I did two human faces? And what if I make them look like they are about to fight. I put large frowns on their faces.

Then at the crucial moment near the end of the presentations, I pick up the paint and join the faces together. The large frown becomes the mustache, and the finished product is one face, the face of Christ. The idea is simple. There are many things that would keep us in conflict but there is one who gave His life to bring us together. For the message text I use Matthew 18, starting with Jesus teaching about how to deal with conflict and moving into the parable of the unforgiving servant. Here’s short clip to show you how it goes.

How would you illustrate forgiveness?

Welcome to 2020! It’s a brand new year. I was contemplating what this new year brings and I started to focus on that word, “NEW.” It implies something that is a the very least improves and quite possibly even something that has never existed before. It’s exciting when you think about it. New years are often times of new beginnings, when people tend to focus on turning the page, making changes or maybe even starting over completely. Then another thought occurred to me. What does God call new?

There were a couple of scriptural things that came to mind.

Consider Isaiah 43:18, 19:
“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

This reminds me so much of all those folks turning over a new leaf, yet the speaker in this case is God. His people went astray, again. He sent Isaiah to them with a message of warning. Keep going on your current path and disaster is coming. Yet even in the midst of this prophecy, God showed them that He still loved them and had something fantastic for them. I love this passage, because it speaks to freedom. Yes ultimately it is freedom in Christ, but there is something else. How many of us are haunted by our past? Maybe it’s something we’ve done, or maybe it’s something that’s been done to us, but regardless, it keeps us stuck. This is often a prison of our own making. Oh we’re not necessarily the one who caused the problem, but we are making the choice to dwell there. God has something new for us. Something better. This verse is at least in part a prophecy of a coming Kingdom, the Kingdom of Christ, the one who came to set the captives free. Maybe today is the day to trust Christ and step into a new thing.

The Bible tells us that he who the Son sets free is free indeed, and further it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Maybe today is the day to leave that cell you’ve been living in behind and step into the freedom of the Children of God.

There is grace and forgiveness in Christ, and there is freedom. This new year, why not step into God’s new thing?

Tonight I ministered at the Salvation Army ARC in Altoona, PA. What a great ministry they have there. Thanks to Captain Daniel Gonzales and all the folks there for making it a great night.

I thought I did. I did an hour and a half on forgiveness last night for a church full of people and it went very well. Many people told me they were blessed. Then today we had a guest speaker at our church. This man was from a place where the church is being genuinely persecuted. He spoke of losing his father when he was a first grader, having been adopted by an older brother and then that older brother having been murdered by terrorists.

He understands forgiveness and I have a lot to learn. I pray I never have to learn it the way he did. This was one of the most motivating and convicting things I have ever experienced.
Hearing him made me want to do stuff and to me that’s the truest sign that something got through.

God is good.

My new presentation, Forgiven, deals with sin, repentance, grace and forgiveness. I did this a few months back at St. Thomas Independent Church of the Brethren in Mount Pleasant Mills, PA. They recorded the message and set it to pictures of me in action. Please check it out and if your church could benefit from hearing this presentation, please contact me.

The other morning I was on my way to work when this song came on the radio. Now you know I love when people tell a great story and this is a great one. It deals with where a lot of us find ourselves as believers. We know we are set free in Christ. We know He has paid the price once and for all and yet within us all is a war, between the new creation and the old one. Worse yet, there are days where it sure feels like the old nature is winning. Temptation is called temptation because it’s tempting.

Now before you begin to wonder, no I’m not headed for a moral failure, or anything like that, by the grace of God, but that’s not the only way the old nature bubbles to the surface. Some days, it’s more about not being able to wait on God to resolve a situation and wanting to take matters into your own hands. Some days it’s about grace and forgiveness being hard to find and harder to give. Some days it’s just knowing that what you think is not lining up with what you know to be God’s heart. Some days you just want to smack somebody. That’s where I’m at and I hate it. It’s at times like these that a song goes beyond music to being a supernatural gift.

I know You’ve washed me white
Turned my darkness into light
I need Your peace to get me through
To get me through this night

I can’t live by what I feel
But by the truth Your word reveals
And I’m not holding onto You
But You’re holding onto me, You’re holding onto me

It’s good to know, isn’t it. In those moments where we feel weak that He holds onto us-sometimes even holds us back. In those moments of deep hurt where none of the solutions are pleasing to God but you can’t wrap your head around grace, God wraps his arms around you. To act on the thoughts would be sin, even the thoughts are sin and you know you shouldn’t go there but it’s hard not to.

He put my sins as far as the east is from the west. It’s literally impossible and that’s the point. We cannot go two directions at once without ripping ourselves in half. So how far are they apart? Infinitely, but I like Mark Hall’s description better, “from one scarred hand to the other.” Jesus came to set us free and in temptation the answer is always the same. You don’t fight it, because you’ll lose. Instead you run away from it and into the nail pierced arms of mercy, of Jesus. That’s where we find rest.

How far? East and West, infinitely, but Jesus is close. Run to him.

I saw this video and I had to share it. This is a story of remarkable grace and forgiveness. Beyond that it shows the incredible healing power of forgiveness.

Who are you having a hard time forgiving?

How much better would your story be if you would?

What’s stopping you?

Live a better story!

I did this video a while back and it didn’t get much attention, but I think it should, not because it’s a great painting, though I like it. But because it’s an important principle.

We’ve all been forgiven much, now we must also love much…

How would you illustrate forgiveness?

The church I pastored for 10 years closed this December and my wife and I searched diligently for months to find our new home church Ephrata Church of the Brethren. It’s a fantastic church, great worship music, excellent preaching and a really nice bunch of people. I love my new church, but now there’s a problem, not with the church, but with the town. I guess not really the town either but actually with a sign outside the town that made national news. Remember.. the name of the town is Ephrata.
Two little letters shouldn’t mean much, but sometimes the end result stinks. Pun intended. So why do I post this? Well it’s certainly not to poke fun at the sign maker. My glass house is far too huge to throw stones at this guy. I make my living fighting against my own typos and at times it feels like a losing battle. I HATE Typos.

The thing is everyone makes mistakes, some are just more visible than others. The best thing we can do is extend grace, if for no other reason than we know it will only be a matter of time before we need to receive it. Jesus commands us to forgive as we have been forgiven. It’s not just obedience, it’s good policy.

Forgiveness is as much for you as it is for the one you are forgiving. What you hold on to, you allow to hurt you over and over again. I need this today. Hopefully it will help someone else too. Let it go and forgive.