Sunday, September 22, 2013

Forgiveness


“[Peter asked Jesus] ’How often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said… ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy times seven.’”  (Matthew 18:21-22)

"It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those who don’t deserve
It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word…

Forgiveness
Forgiveness

It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’

Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible

Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Help me now to do the impossible: Forgiveness

It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free

There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you

Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness

I want to finally set it free
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me
Forgiveness, Forgiveness.”

            [--Song “Forgiveness” by Matthew West, from his album Into the Light (Lyrics HERE)]

While this song was only shared by our Praise Band in 9:30am “HeartLight” worship this week, the words are appropriate and understandable for all audiences.  I pray that as you read/sung/heard them, you were moved as I was to be even more a person of forgiveness!  Remember, God loves you and I do, too!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Advice for Forgiving Others

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

This week in worship we continued our series on forgiveness by talking about forgiving others.  Although I shared how we can begin that process by gaining a proper understanding of the word, I’d like to build on that here by sharing two suggestions that I’ve practiced occasionally in my own life:  writing an apology; and writing a letter of forgiveness.  Both of these come from Marjorie J. Thompson’s workbook Companions in Christ: The Way of Forgiveness (Nashville, Upper Room Books, 2012):

Guidelines for Writing A Good Apology:  (page 92)

1.         Be respectful of the person you are writing to. Courtesy and tact are important.

2.         Do not try to defend yourself, make excuses, or explain all the 
circumstances from your perspective.

3.         Go right to the point and use simple, direct language.

Writing a Letter of Forgiveness: (page 80)

            Write a letter of forgiveness to someone toward whom you feel resentment.  It could be someone who has already died, or whom you’ll never see again.  Perhaps it is someone you live or work with.  It could be yourself.  Who needs forgiveness from you? Write to that person.
            First, acknowledge the truth of your negative feelings -- all your hurt and anger, your pain and grief.  Be absolutely honest.
            Then, release it.  Let go of the burden of your resentment, anger, anguish, and guilt for feeling these things.  Confirm that you are doing this in your writing.
            Let the matter lie where it will with respect to the other; you cannot be responsible for his or her feelings or responses, only your own.  You are choosing to free yourself from this particular bondage to the past.
            Remember that God has empowered you to forgive, once and for all, one the Cross.  Ask for the grace to let God take the burden from you, now and forever.  You may decide at some point to sent this letter, or you may not.  Regardless, you can expect healing and new energy to flow from this exercise of faith.

 As I said, I’ve done both of these things on occasion when I felt hurt or wounded, and I’ve found both exercises to be very helpful in finding ultimate peace and healing.  As you consider people that you are feeling led to extend forgiveness to (or to ask forgiveness from), I pray that these would be helpful to you, as well.  Remember, God loves you and I do, too!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The 10 Most Wanted Christians

“Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.” (James 1:22)

As we celebrate Labor Day, it’s important for us to remember that a Christian is not simply someone who follows Jesus one day a week (on Sunday), but every day of the week in all arenas and aspects of their life (at home, work, play, vacation, school, etc.).

See if these words that I found in an old bulletin from my home church still ring true for you and me today.  The “Ten Most Wanted Christians” are...

“1.        The Christian who tries to be the right example to every
child, rather than just talk about it.

2.         The Christian who has a passion to help rather than a passion to be helped.

3.         The Christian who is willing to say “I was wrong. I’m sorry.”

4.         The Christian who, when faced with temptation, prays “God, you know I want this. But I want you MORE!”

5.         The Christian who puts God’s business above any other.

6.         The Christian who commits him or herself totally to a project and gives credit for its success not to themselves, but to those others who've helped make it possible.

7.         The Christian who has a ready smile, a listening ear, and a pat on the back for others.

8.         The Christian who takes their children to church, rather than just sending them.

9.         The Christian who gives money, time, and work to Christ through their church, without thought of return.

10.       The Christian who sees their own faults before they see the faults of others.”

[--Modified from a 1989 newsletter article from Fayetteville First UMC, Fayetteville, GA]

May these words challenge each of us to practice what it truly means to follow Christ!  Remember that God loves you and I do, too!