Wednesday, January 21, 2009

True Forgiveness

As a pastor, I am often asked about forgiveness - how it is accomplished, when is it required, what does it look like, what does it feel like, how does it act, etc.

Let’s start with what forgiveness is not:

- Forgiveness is not forgetting. Generally, our attempts to forget amount to denial. Whatever the offense was: betrayal of a trusted friend; abandonment of a parent or spouse; abuse from a relative; embezzlement of funds – whatever the offence, it did happen. It was damaging. It hurt. It is forever a memory. It will not be forgotten. God has the ability to forget. Generally, we do not have that same ability.

- Forgiveness does not always lead to reconciliation. Often our offender has already died. Sometimes they don’t want to reconcile. In many cases the offender claims a desire to reconcile, but isn’t willing to honestly own their responsibility, allowing for authentic reconciliation and relationship. A genuine relationship must be built on truth between two people. It simply takes two to reconcile.

- Forgiveness is not a one-time event. There’s simply not a blanket approach to forgiving someone. Because we remember, because there are triggers that take us back to the offense, forgiveness is cyclical. Actually, as I’m typing this very point, I’m remembering an offense that made me so angry. And, I have a choice. I can allow myself to relive it, mull over it, justify my anger and their stupidity … or I can choose to forgive, again.

Forgiveness says, “I will not hold you responsible for my choices in dealing with the pain. I will not allow you and the hurt you caused to control my life. I choose to not be held hostage to anger, bitterness, and vengeful thoughts.”

Forgiveness opens a door to new levels of relational connection with God – who demonstrates His grace and forgiveness through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ.

(Recommended resource: Getting Rid of the Gorilla: Confessions on the Struggle to Forgive).

[by Mark Waltz]

Our world is changing. Did you know ...

Yesterday's Inaugural Prayer

Almighty God, our Father:

Everything we see, and everything we can’t see, exists because of You alone. It all comes from You, it all belongs to Y0u, it all exists for Your glory. History is Your story.

The Scripture tells us, "Hear, O Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD is one." And You are the compassionate and merciful One. And You are loving to everyone You have made.

Now today we rejoice not only in America’s peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time, we celebrate a hinge point of history with the inauguration of our first African American president of the United States. We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where a son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership. And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven.

Give to our new president, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead us with generosity. Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the Cabinet, and every one of our freely elected leaders.

Help us, O God, to remember that we are Americans -- united not by race or religion or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all.

When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget You -- forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone -- forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve -- forgive us. And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes — even when we differ.

Help us to share, to serve, and to seek the common good of all. May all people of good will today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy, and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet. And may we never forget that one day, all nations -- and all people -- will stand accountable before You.

We now commit our new president and his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into Your loving care.

I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life — Yeshua, 'Isa, Jesus [Spanish pronunciation], Jesus — who taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.


[Pastor Rick Warren]

Day 21 of a 21-Day Fast

Congratulations! Our 21-Day Fast will soon be over. For me, it has been a spiritual journey. I have learned more about myself, more about God, and more about my relationship with God.

Please do not come off your Fast too suddenly. If you end your Fast, begin tomorrow eating gradually the things you have been fasting.

If you have been on the Daniel Fast, you might consider continuing to live a healthy lifestyle. There is the issue of Health Stewardship.

Thank you for the dedication and sacrifice to join me in this Fast.

Today's Prayer

Dear God,

Thank you for this 21-day journey. As I continue to listen to Your voice, help me to continue adjust my life to you. I pray for wisdom and boldness to do what is right. Show me the way, whether I need to change, make new friends, break bad habits, or whatever the case. Make me aware of how I need to change and adjust, so that I will be pleasing to you and will receive the blessings you have in store for me.

May you be glorified in all I do.

With thanksgiving and praise, amen.