Tag Archives: Bible

What Forgiveness is NOT…

There are so many misconceptions about what forgiveness is and what forgiveness is not that I thought I would lay it out in this month’s newsletter. A couple of weeks ago in the Adult Sunday School class we had an in depth discussion about forgiveness. We looked at specific Scriptures and then we watched a short 10-minute video clip from Mark Driscoll who is the pastor of Mars Hills Church in Seattle, Washington. (You can view the clip at http://bit.ly/o25BJp)

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Mark offered some very insightful teaching about what forgiveness is and several people in the Sunday School class asked me to summarize and republish his teaching.


1. Forgiveness is not approving or diminishing sin. 
It’s not saying, “It’s OK, nobody’s perfect… everybody makes mistakes… its no big deal.” The fact of the matter is that it IS a big deal! It’s SO BIG that God died for it! So don’t dishonor the cross of Jesus and approve or diminish something that required the death of Christ.

2. Forgiveness is not enabling sin. 
You see this sometimes with wives who misunderstand submission. For example, the Bible teaches that the husband is the head of the house and that he is suppose to lead which isn’t a problem if he leads by lovingly following Jesus, but what if he’s not following Jesus? The wife shouldn’t follow him because her ultimate allegiance is to Jesus. The truth is that you can forgive someone without enabling their sin and participating in it. You can have a family or friend that is an addict… you can forgive them without enabling them. Forgiveness is not enabling. Forgiveness can even include confronting and rebuking.

3. Forgiveness is not denying a wrongdoing.
“It didn’t happen… I forgot all about it… I just moved on… I didn’t let it affect me.” That’s not true. Forgiveness is not the denial of a wrongdoing. It’s not denying that you were sinned against.

4. Forgiveness is not waiting for an apology. 
A lot of people won’t forgive till the other person apologizes. “I will forgive them as soon as they say they are sorry.” The fact of the matter is that some people are never going to apologize. Some people will continue in their rebellious and foolish life course. Some people will be stubborn and self-righteous and they will never confess or admit. Some people will move away and you’ll never speak with them again. Some people may even die before they ever articulate repentance. So you what do you do? You forgive them before they apologize.

5. Forgiveness is not forgetting. 
This is one of the great Christian myths. “Were suppose to forgive and forget.” NO YOU DON’T! You can’t forgive and forget! You can’t! If you were raped, molested, abandoned, beaten, abused, cheated on, betrayed, lied about… forget it? You can’t forget it. It’s impossible. Some will appeal to Scriptural passages such as Jeremiah 31:34 that says, “God will remember their sin no more,” and they’ll say, “SEE, God doesn’t remember our sin.” But God DOES remember our sin. He’s omniscient. He’s all knowing. He forgets nothing. He knows everything. So what does it mean when it says, “God will remember their sin no more?” It means that God chooses not to interact with us based upon what we’ve done, but to instead interact with us based on what Christ has done. It means that He chooses to see us as new creations and He chooses to work for a new future. It means that at the forefront of God’s thinking is not all of the sin that we’ve committed, but all the work that Jesus has done. Forgiveness is not a matter of forgetting, but it is a matter of releasing.

6. Forgiveness is not ceasing to feel the pain.
Just because your hurt doesn’t mean that you’ve failed to forgive. It still hurts! Some of you have had horrible things done to you. Horrible things! It would be so cruel for me to say, “Well, if you’ve forgiven them then you shouldn’t hurt anymore.” That simply is not true. Sure it hurts. We don’t hear in the Bible that all the tears are wiped from our eyes until the resurrection of the dead and the final unveiling of the kingdom. It means people are crying all the way to Jesus. It still hurts. It’s OK for it to bother you.

7. Forgiveness is not a one-time event.
Forgiveness is both a one-time event and a process because sometimes they keep sinning so you need to keep forgiving or sometimes you forgive them but there are emotional moments where it feels fresh. For example, a husband commits adultery. The wife can forgive him and the husband can earnestly repent and seek Biblical counseling and they can work things out. But there still could be times that the husband might innocently be talking to another woman at church and just the mere sight of him talking to another woman might trigger her to feel all of that betrayal again. She needs to forgive him again for what he did in the past. Sometimes forgiveness is something that is regularly required.

8. Forgiveness is not neglecting justice.
You can forgive a person and call the police and have them arrested. You can forgive someone and testify against them in court. “Well I thought you forgave me?” “I did, but you’ve committed a crime… you’ve broken the law and so these are the consequences.” You can forgive and pursue justice.

9. Forgiveness is not trusting.
“My dad molested me and he’s sorry… so should I let him babysit my kids?” Answer: NO WAY! “My husband hit me, but he said he’s sorry… should we just pick up where we left off and keep going?” Answer: NO WAY! Trust is built slowly and it’s lost quickly. If someone sins against you grievously then trust has to be rebuilt slowly over time. Some people can be trusted with time. Other people should never be trusted because the risk is simply too high. This is particularly true with children.

10.Forgiveness is not reconciliation.
It’s not that you become friends again and hang out together. It takes one person to repent and it takes one person to forgive; and it takes two people to reconcile. In Romans 12 Paul writes, “In as much as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Here’s what he’s saying… do your best, but you can’t be at peace with everyone.

So what IS forgiveness? A definition for forgiveness could be — giving up my right to hurt you, for hurting me. Gary Smalley writes, “The original definition of forgiveness actually means that you untie or release someone.” As long as you remain bitter and unforgiving, you’re tied to that person with emotional knots. So being untied involves a conscious and deliberate release of the offender through an act of forgiveness… and important though difficult part of releasing someone is giving up the expectation that the person will eventually see the error of his or her ways and take the initiative to make things right with you.”

The bottom line is that we need to forgive. Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. After being forgiven such a great debt, how can we not also forgive?

“If I Were The Devil”

“If I Were The Devil,” by Paul Harvey (1999)

I would gain control of the most powerful nation in the world;

I would delude their minds into thinking that they had come from man’s effort, instead of God’s blessings;

I would promote an attitude of loving things and using people, instead of the other way around;

I would dupe entire states into relying on gambling for their state revenue;

I would convince people that character is not an issue when it comes to leadership;

I would make it legal to take the life of unborn babies;

I would make it socially acceptable to take one’s own life, and invent machines to make it convenient;

I would cheapen human life as much as possible so that life of animals are valued more than human beings;

I would take God out of the schools, where even the mention of His name was grounds for a lawsuit;

I would come up with drugs that sedate the mind and target the young, and I would get sports heroes to advertise them;

I would get control of the media, so that every night I could pollute the minds of every family member for my agenda;

I would attack then family, the backbone of any nation. I would make divorce acceptable and easy, even fashionable. If the family crumbles, so does the nation;

I would compel people to express their most depraved fantasies on canvas and movies screens, and I would call it art;

I would convince the world that people are born homosexuals, and that their lifestyles should be accepted and marveled;

I would convince the people that right and wrong are determined by a few who call themselves authorities and refer to their agendas as political correct;

I would persuade people that the church is irrelevant and out of date, the Bible is for the naive:

I would dull the minds of Christians, and make them believe that prayer is not important, and that faithfulness and obedience are optional;

I GUESS I WOULD LEAVE THINGS PRETTY MUCH THE WAY THEY ARE!


“Judge Not Lest You Be Judged?”

plank“Judge Not Lest You Be Judged,” has to be one of the most well known and misquoted verses in the Bible. Somehow we’ve gotten into our heads that it is unchristian to judge others. YES, the phrase “Judge Not Lest You Be Judged,” is in the Bible, but you have to look at it in context. The passage is found in Matthew chapter seven and is part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 7:1–5 (NKJV) 1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Notice Jesus’ never says don’t take the speck out of your brother’s eye. He says, “First remove the plank from your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” There’s no way you can remove a speck out of a person’s eye without executing a little judgment. There’s a reason why Jesus uses the illustration of an eye. The eye is one of the most sensitive parts of the body. One of the points Jesus was making is that we need to be careful.

The question we need to wrestle with is what’s the “plank” Jesus is talking about? I believe the plank involves judging a person’s heart. Warren Wiersbe writes…

When Jesus said, “Judge Not Lest You Be Judged,” he was talking about the kind of judging in which you look down on a person and question their motives. A classic example is the time Jesus was walking through a wheat field with His disciples. They got so hungry they plucked off a few heads of wheat. The Pharisees saw it and immediately said, “It is unlawful to harvest on the Sabbath!” (Matthew 12:1-8) Which leads me to ask, What were the Pharisees doing out in the wheat field? I have a feeling they were there trying to catch Him messing up. I can just see them hiding behind the bushes spying on Him hoping to catch Him at something!

It’s THAT type of judging Jesus condemns in Matthew chapter seven. Jesus was speaking to the religious people who were not only looking for sin in people’s lives… they were wanting people to sin! They wanted people to sin so that they could jump out of the bushes and go, “Gotcha!” THAT’S THE PLANK THAT JESUS WAS TALKING ABOUT.

Jesus wasn’t saying don’t judge because just a few verses later in the chapter He says, “Beware of False Prophets who will come to you as lambs but are ravenous as wolves,” and then He tells us, “You will know them by their FRUIT.” How can you beware of false prophets if you don’t exercise a little judgment?

Systematic Theology (big word) is balancing theology with itself. In order to do that you’ve got to use Scripture to interpret Scripture. It’s very dangerous to take a single verse such as Matthew 7:1, “Judge not lest you be judged,” and build a whole theology around it. The question is what does the rest of the Bible say about the subject?

In 1 Corinthians chapter 5 Paul writes to the church in Corinth about a man that was sleeping with his father’s wife. He writes that such a sin was scandalous to even those outside the church. Yet the church in Corinth not only looked the other way, but actually seemed to celebrate its tolerance to such a sin. In verse 3 Paul writes, “For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed.” He then tells them that they are not to judge those outside the church, but they have a responsibility to judge those inside the church. (1 Corinthians 5:12-13)

Remember, we are not to judge wanting or hoping to catch people mess up. Quite frankly, judging ought to be a heart wrenching experience in which we do everything possible to help that other person get back on track. The whole process ought to be bathed with tears. Paul writes in Galatians 6:1 NLT, “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.”

The bottom line is that we are called to bring out the best in one another and in order to do that we need to be able to be willing to speak the truth in love.

 

“The Fight Of Our Lives”

The Fight Of Our LivesWilliam Bennett and Seth Leibsohn’s book, “The Fight Of Our Lives: Knowing the Enemy, Speaking the Truth & Choosing to Win the War Against Radical Islam” is a book written to wake up America to the dangers of Radical Islam.  The book does a really good job at documenting at how wimpy we’ve become as a nation in really confronting terrorism.  Why are we walking on eggshells?

Bennett & Leibsohn write, “The thought seems to be that if we speak nicely of Islam and ignore the terrorism it can produce, the Islamists will respect us more or lay down their swords.  Such an understanding flies in the face of everything Islamists have told us; they want our defeat, not a refurbished détente that comes from soft language and retreat.  (p.104)

What I found really eye opening is how the current Obama Administration is absolutely petrified of even mentioning the word “Islam,” in conjunction with the subject of terrorism.  Bennett and Leibsohn write, “The term RADICAL ISLAM was employed to distinguish it from mainstream belief.  But the Obama administration displays a shocking level of foolishness or knavery by downgrading and downplaying the connection between Islam and terrorism.”  (p.103)  (The book tries to be fair in laying out some claims against the Bush Administration as well.)

Bennett & Leibsohn quotes Professor Benard Lewis, “It is dangerous to exaggerate and is equally dangerous to ignore and neglect… most Muslims are not fundamentalists, and most fundamentalists are not terrorists… but most present-day terrorist are Muslims and proudly identify themselves as such.”  (p.117)  The facts speak for themselves.  Most of all the power and money in the Islamic Community are in the hands of Radical Muslims.  Just follow the money and it will take you places that you will be shocked!

The book does a tremendous job at substantiated all it’s claims with mountains of footnotes and indexes.  (Tremendous Resource)

The chapter that I got the most out of was Chapter Seven entitled, “False Peace and True Peace,” in which Bennett & Leibsohn quickly disarm the argument that the Bible is more violent than the Koran.  They write, “In the history of Christianity, there certainly are violent episodes where Christian leaders have committed, instigated, and justified bloody war –against others and themselves.  But the New Testament itself is evidence to how such history and examples diverge and contradict the basic doctrines of Christianity.  As Professor David Gelernter has pointed out, the New Testament is nearly a manifesto of pacifism, with emphases so common to our parlance that many people do not even realize their source.   Put plainly… the highest and most revered person in all Christianity was not a warrior; rather, Christ taught his followers to bless their accusers and pray for their abusers.  (p.111)

They go on to say, “Let us not excuse Christian violence in the past or present, but let us underscore the difficulty in justifying acts of violence based on Christian morality as taught in the New Testament,” and raise the question, “Can a reader of these words count on an entire hand the number of Jewish terrorist or criminals who have cited the Bible to justify their actions? Can a reader count on an entire hand the number of Jewish terrorist at all?”  (p.112)

By contrast the Koran instructs, “Fight those who do not believe in Allah… Slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them… Prophet! Make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites! Hell shall be their home, an evil fate speak for themselves.  (p.115)

In conclusion Bennett & Leibsohn issue the challenge to all who would call themselves a progressive or reformed Muslim, “A truly reformed Muslim would lament extreme Islam and would denounce the application of Sharia law, prohibit polygamy and underage marriage, and extend social and legal equality to nonbelievers, and would weigh in against terrorism everywhere and always.” (p.125)

The next time a spokesman from a group such as The Council on American Islamic Relations seeks special consideration on behalf of Islam or American Muslims, ask them what he thinks of Hamas.  Ask them if Hamas is a terrorist organization.  Ask them if violence is ever justified against American or Israeli civilians.  Ask them who was responsible for 9/11 and if any of it was justified in any way.   The fight that we are in really is not only a fight of our lives, but a fight for our lives.

I found the book timely and relevant.  This is not a book to sit back and enjoy, but rather a book to be informed about a current crisis in our country. I was expecting the book to be more religious than political. It wasn’t until chapter seven that the book began to touch on some of the major ideological differences between Islam and Judeo/Christianty.  However, I am glad that the authors took the time to research and document the current disturbing trend concerning Radical Islam with a thorough index in the back of the book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Booksneeze Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 

Some Things Are Just Not Worth Fighting Over!

Christian Fighting

I shared the following from Max Lucado’s book GENTLE THUNDER last Sunday.  Some of you asked for a copy so here it is…

“Some time ago I came upon a fellow on a trip who was carrying a Bible. “Are you a believer?” I asked him. “Yes,” he said excitedly. Continue reading

God’s Love Letter

I met my wife over the summer while I was home from seminary. (I was on a blind date with someone else, when Anna caught my eye.) That summer started a whirlwind romance and by the time I had to return to seminary I was heartbroken over having to leave her.

We nurtured our relationship through phone calls and letters. Everyday I would eagerly go to the Seminary Post Office hoping for a letter from Annie. I remember reading and re-reading those letters over and over analyzing every little word trying to extract every little bit of information. Looking back, those letters brought so much love and joy to our relationship.

I want to encourage you to think of the Bible as God’s Love Letter to you. In it, God tells us of His great love for you. He wants you to read and reread it. He wants you to take in every word. He wants you to hide it in your heart. Most of all, He wants you to know Him! Can you imagine that? God… the Creator of the Universe wants to get to know you!

Continue reading

“Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream.”

I just got through reading, “RADICAL: Taking Back Your Faith From The American Dream,” by David Platt and it left me both CONVICTED and INSPIRED to live the Christian life. The premise of the book is that a lot of Biblical Christianity has been distorted by values that Americans often exalt. Platt goes so far as to say that a lot of American Churches have not only embraced values that are not Biblical, but in a lot of cases contradict the Gospel.

Platt writes, “… we have missed what is radical about our faith and have replaced it with what is comfortable,” he goes on to write that we are settling for a Christianity that revolves around OURSELVES… when the central message of the Gospel is abandoning ourselves. It would be too easy to dismiss Platt’s claims except that he basis all his conclusions on Scriptures that can’t be explained away.

Platt points out that if you were to ask the average Christian what the MAIN message of Christianity… most people will say something to the effect, “God loves ME!” and whereas that’s true… is that really the MAIN message? If it is, then the Gospel become all about ME. YES, God loves me, but He loves me so that I may, “make His ways, His salvation, His Glory, and His Greatness known to all the nations.” Wow… talk about a major paradigm shift.

Continue reading

NEW Bible Study

Come join us for a NEW Bible Study on the Book of Acts! The Book of Acts is the first volume of Church History. It covers the birth of the church (Pentecost) all the way through to the imprisonment of it’s great missionary (Paul) in Rome.

The study begins TOMORROW and will be weekly. Wednesdays at 6:00 PM at Bill and Anna’s Home. Were the second house on the LEFT when you turn into Orchard Park Sub Division. If you have any questions you can call (830) 589-7447.


Bring your Bible (preferably a study Bible) and something to write with and an open heart for whatever the Lord has for you. Also please read the first chapter and be ready to ask questions and interact.


“The Greatest Chapter in the Bible”

“The GREATEST Chapter in the Bible” by Bill Stegemueller
Medina UMC Podcast

Taken from Romans 8:1-11


God Announces Leave of Absence

I’ve had a lot of people joke with me about how attendance always drops off when the pastor is out of the pulpit. Let me CHALLENGE you to not let that happen! If you really think that church is about who is behind the pulpit, I have failed to communicate and teach what the church is all about. The church is all about a family that is committed to reach out to the world and to help one another grow in Christ. In fact, I’m praying that church attendance might actually go up in my absence.

That is not to say that you shouldn’t try to get away some this summer. We all need to get away from time to time… Just remember never allow yourself to get away from God. The following was printed in six years ago in the Medina Messenger, but its message is timeless….

God Announces Leave of Absence

We are sorry to inform you, but God will not be available during the summer, beginning June 1st. We have it from reliable sources that He feels He deserves some time off, so He has canceled His normal duties for the summer.

However, He has agreed to send the Sun and rain occasionally, when He happens to be in town. But so far as answering prayers for the needs of your family, please don’t count on Him.

God has let it be known to the church leadership that they should not plan any outreach efforts or mission trips during the summer. Or at least if they do, they will have to do it without Him because He plans to be gone a lot to relatives and the lake. God has expressed the opinion that we would find somebody else to take His place.

Yes, we reminded Him of His promise, “Surely I will be with you always.” But He said He didn’t realize when He said it that it meant going for two or three years without a break. He expressed His sincere regrets, and hopes that it will not cause any inconvenience. God may be contacted anytime after September 1st, at which time He hopes to “Get back into the routine.” Please defer all requests until then. – copied from source unknown-

Aren’t you glad God hasn’t really made this announcement? Truth is we couldn’t last a single moment without His constant intervention. If God ever held His breath the entire universe would collapse!

Summer is just about here and it’s a time that most people (including me!) think about taking a little time off. It’s important to find time for rest, recuperation, restoration and recreation. But no matter where we are… we are stilled called to be Christians. God never takes a vacation from us, we should never take a vacation from Him. Let me give you a couple of suggestions for your summer vacation…

Let God Go with You

1. Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy.

2. Take your Bible and Devotionals with you.

3. Get a taste of different types of churches while you’re away.

Secure Your Own Replacement (I did!)

1. Whatever your job in the church, find someone to take your place when you leave.

2. Do not let your area of work suffer because of your neglect.

3. Don’t forget about your offering. The bills still need to be paid while your away.

Return to Church as Soon as you return.

1. Start right back to all church services as soon as you return.

2. Share with your church anything you might have learned from other churches.

Why All This?

1. Because you are a Christian and want to be loyal to Christ.

2. Because you do not want a “summer slump” in our church.

3. Because God never takes a vacation from you!

May God go with you wherever you go this summer, Please keep me and my family in prayer as we seek intentional rest and renewal this summer. You will definitely be in our thoughts and prayers. We love you!