Deciding to Forgive

If we’re going to enjoy loving relationships, we have to learn to forgive. Hurt follows relationship like night follows day. We can’t deeply connect with another without hurt. In fact, the closer the relationship, the deeper the hurt. But forgiveness seems so hard.  Maybe it will help to remember what forgiveness isn’t.
Forgiveness isn’t forgetting. When we confess our sins, God forgives and forgets. In case you’re confused, let me set you straight. You’re not God. Don’t expect to have His qualities. Pray that He will help you forget. But forgiveness is a decision that doesn’t automatically promise forgetfulness. 
Forgiveness isn’t a return of trust. Just because we have forgiven, doesn’t mean we immediately can trust, or that we should. We are often hurt because we were unwise about whom we chose to trust. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we have to be stupid once again. A key to successful relationships is not just learning to trust, but learning whom to trust. 
Forgiveness includes self. Self is involved in forgiveness in two important ways. First, it’s all about self. We don’t forgive to help the offending person. They are likely unhurt and often unaware of our unforgiveness.  We forgive because He commands it. He commands it because the bitterness of not forgiving robs us of the joy He promises and the growth He brings. 
Finally, self is the person most often in need of forgiveness. Often the hurt we have caused stares us in the face each day. Because the ones we have hurt midst often are the ones we life with. We have to forgive ourselves. Without that we can’t move on to all that God has for us. 
Forgive and be blessed. 


1 We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. 2 This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.5 This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. 6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

Fellowship isn’t a hall at church. It’s not a table full of favorite dishes. It’s not a time during Sunday service when we shake hands and ask others, “How are you?” without enough time to get even a cursory answer.

Fellowship is why Jesus died. He died so that we could have fellowship with God and with each other. Unless we are reunited to God, what we call “fellowship” is something much less. Our fellowship with God will not be complete until we are united with Him in heaven. Our fellowship, real fellowship, with each other is a deposit on that grand final eternal fellowship above.

John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, knew about fellowship. He was closest to Jesus. He tells us in the letter which is 1 John, that Jesus was with the Father and was here so that we may have fellowship with the Father and each other. It is an insult to what Jesus did to reduce fellowship to handshakes, shared meals, and a few moments during Sunday service. What Jesus did deserves our best effort. We need to spend all the time we can in fellowship with our God and with each other. We need to know Him to be best of our limited ability. We need to know each other as much as we are able. In that knowledge is real love and all the blessing that Jesus intended for us when he hung dying on a cross. In that fellowship is the potential of full joy. 
In true fellowship there is not the partial truth of shadow knowledge and shallow relationship. We are meant to know Him fully and to fully share ourselves with each other. It’s serious business.
Take fellowship seriously and 
be blessed.

Positive Christianity

We are called to live a Christian life.  It’s all about relationship, vertical, with our God, and horizontal, with mankind. If we are to spread the gospel, we  need to talk less and live more. This life requires that we make vital decisions: to know, to sacrifice, to accept and to forgive. 
The decision to know. We can’t really claim to be in relationship unless we know the object of our relationship. In scripture this is often referred to as fellowship. We can’t know others until we first know God. “But if we are living in the light of God’s presence, just as Christ is, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin.” 1 John 1:7. Real fellowship begins with life in Christ. More about this tomorrow.  Spend some time in 1 John today and begin to meditate on it. 

The decision to sacrifice.  Any relationship that doesn’t begin with the idea that I am going to give something is doomed. Too many relationships begin with the idea, how great this is for me.  We must decide we are going to give. 

The decision to accept. This one seems a particular challenge for the ladies. They are willing to take on  a new man in their lives who isn’t perfect, but who is someone they can work with. If there is to be real relationship, we have to be really to accept the other for who he is. He may change, but first comes acceptance. 

The decision to forgive. Any relationship worth anything will bring pain.  If we don’t enter in ready to forgive, we want be able to really live. 

At Amana yesterday we were called to a positive gospel, through which we comfort and edify each other.  Let’s look at 1Thessalonians 5 in context.  9] For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,[10] who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.[11] Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.

The life we are called to live with each other in mutual edification and comfort begins with life together with Him. Are we ready to know, sacrifice, accept and forgive in order to have that life He promises?


Go Now and Go All the Way

Our emotions should not determine our direction, but they can get us off the couch and can motivate us to do all that needs doing. The unemotional tend to over think everything and accomplish nothing. If we learn to trust our emotions and channel them with Spirit and intellect  we can accomplish what needs doing. 
Remember we’re talking about love. Every great love story climaxes when the one who has been thinking too much finally does something, now and radically.  In the movies, it usually involves running to stop a wedding or keep someone from getting on a plane. In the Christian walk,  it may mean finally being brave enough to share our testimony with that hurting soul or speaking up to that friend that sin is killing. 
Emotions have a way of eating us up if we don’t act quickly and radically when they first arise. If you have an emotional acid indigestion, there’s probably something that needs doing.  Get it done and get relief. 
Be blessed.

Christian Emotion

Jesus wept. John 11:35
What place does emotion have in the Christian life? Ask that question and the answers will run from a prominent place to no place at all.  Jesus displayed emotion. He cried. He was angry. He was tender with little children. So emotion clearly has a place. Yet His emotions did not control Him. They affected Him, but didn’t control Him. 
God created us with emotions. Our emotions are part of what makes us human. I like to think of emotions as the fuel in our lives. What kind of Christian would we be if there was no fire in our ministry, no passion in our testimony. But just as gasoline fuels but doesn’t drive a car; our emotions should energize but not direct our  lives. 
There is nothing wrong with emotion in worship, but worship is directed by our wills and inspired by our spirit.  Like every part of our lives, all our God given parts need to be involved. 
A Christian who is too intellectual lacks fire. One who is too emotional lacks a plan and direction.  Don’t be afraid of God’s gift of emotion, just don’t be directed by it. 
Be blessed.

A New Commandment

1 John 4:18

New King James Version (NKJV)

18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

This new commandment about love was new in so many ways. The old commandments were written rules. Now they were based on our model, Jesus. The old commandments were baed on possible human action. The new commandment was such a high standard that it could only be kept when empowered by God. The old commandments were fear motivated. The new one is love motivated and that’s so much better. 

John, the disciple Jesus loved, explains. There is no fear in love. In fact, perfect love casts out fear. If we are still living fear based lives, we have not yet been made perfect in love. In other words,  a fear motivated person is an an unsaved person. 

How evil are those who preach a fear based gospel; that’s no gospel at all. How sad that the church remains fearful in so many ways. Fear of the government, the future, and the world fills our pews and is spouted from our pulpits. No wonder Jesus the great lover who died to cast out fear, sat overlooking Jerusalem and the church that would one day be and wept.  

Love perfectly as a new man, fear not and be blessed. 


Love is Action, Not Emotion

9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Yesterday we remembered the attack on Pearl Harbor.  This atrocity ignited  the “Greatest Generation” into action.  Don’t believe for a moment that those young Americans didn’t know fear.  Don’t think they didn’t know loneliness, thousands of miles from home in hot jungles or in freezing fields.  They aren’t remembered as great for what they felt, but for what they did in spite of those feelings.

Do you always feel like getting up for work in the morning? Do you always feel like fixing dinner? Did Jesus feel like climbing on a cross or setting aside Divinity for humanity? Why do we insist that love is a feeling? Why do we abandon relationships when we don’t feel “in love” any more?

When we are commanded to love like Jesus, we are not being asked to feel any particular emotion. Emotions can’t be commanded. It is action that’s required. There is good news here. Emotion can follow action. If we act in love, we begin to feel love. 

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that acts of love will necessarily lead to being loved. We don’t perform acts of love in order to be loved. We do them because He first loved (performed incredible acts of love) on our behalf. If you find yourself frustrated that your life of loving acts hasn’t brought loving acts in response, consider Jesus. You are not hanging from a cross, praying for forgiveness for those whose unloving response to your loving act, is killing you.  

Don’t grow weary from the hard work of loving the unloving.  It’s what He commands and that’s all we need to know.  Love in action is blessing in action. 

Love and be blessed. 


Christianity is not trying harder; Christianity is trusting Jesus.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.


By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35          


esus repeatedly gives us impossible challenges. He tells us we will do greater things than He did. He tells us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. He tells us to love as He loved.

He gives us these impossible challenges so that we will recognize that it’s not about trying harder; it’s about trusting more.  The only way these things are possible is if we step aside and turn life over to Him. 
It’s a lesson we’re not very good at learning. The world continues to find Christians judgmental and holier-than-thou. They don’t look at us and see Jesus; they see us trying to be like Jesus. They see us trying to do the impossible, and worse, seeming to hold them to impossible standards.

 We need to quit trying and start trusting to be blessed.