Forgiveness

The topic of forgiveness has been fascinating to research.  The first thing I did was to find the Greek word for forgiveness.  Aphiemi refers to the act of putting something away or letting it go, to abandon, leave it behind, and be done with it.  God’s aphiemi (forgiveness) is complete and total because of Jesus and the cross. He wants us to forgive like He does. 

The question is, do we? Are we even capable of that kind of forgiveness? Do we even want to be?

Why do you think it is difficult to forgive those who hurt you?

What is your forgiveness factor? Do you forgive easily? Do you hold on to grudges forever? Do you move on easily? Here’s a little quiz.  Each question is worth up to 10 points.  If you agree with the statement, give yourself 10 points.  If it’s maybe 5 points.  If it’s a no way, won’t even consider it, give yourself a 0.  Ready?

  1. I never pray for my enemies.
  2. When I disagree with someone, I brush them off, unfriend them, turn away, quit loving them, etc..
  3. I talk about those who have harmed me to others in a negative way.
  4. I think of ways to get even.
  5. I’m happy when an enemy fails
  6. I have an eye for an eye attitude
  7. I don’t easily forget offenses
  8. I want all things my way
  9. I am the one in control. 
  10. I rarely think about how my responses will affect others.

Low scores say you’re an easy forgiver, part of the Forever Forgiven Family. High scores might make you part of the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s – still holding on to that grudge. Somewhere between 30 and 70 place you and me in the still working toward perfection category.

Did you know that unforgiveness actually has a physical effect on the body?  61% of all cancer patients have forgiveness issues. John Hopkins Hospital research shows there is an increased risk of depression, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity among other conditions.  So, what’s the cure? Forgiveness! It’s as simple as that. Make the choice to forgive.  It lowers the risk of a heart attack; improves sleep and cholesterol levels; reduces pain, blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and stress.  So what are we waiting for?  

The Bible is full of verses on forgiveness. Can you think of one or two off the top of your head?

Let’s take a look at Matthew 5:44But I (Jesus) tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.  As believers we tend to see persecution as something that happens to Believers in other places, missionaries in the dangerous and scary countries of the world…   Persecution is and happening in our own towns, cities, and back yards.  Our schools, colleges, and universities are hot spots for groups that demean and target students for their beliefs. Please don’t get me started on the separation of church and state and 1st amendment rights.  That could take all night.  But what does Jesus say to do?  Pray.  Love them and pray for them. 

Pop over to Romans 12 and we’ll start in verse 9. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. We are to be sincere in our love for others and do good to the offender.  These are some tough-love words.  I’m supposed to be sincere in my love for someone who has called me names, made me look bad, stolen from me. Get real.  They don’t deserve it.  It has little to do with deserving it and everything to do with our mindset.  I know you’ve heard the words – I have to love him/her/them but I don’t have to like them.  Yes, you do!! That is so far from the truth that I’ll bet God’s blood pressure goes up each time He hears it.  We are to love and that includes every nuance of the word.  How do we do that? Turn over to 1Corinthians 13: 4-8 

Back in Romans 12, check out verse 14 – Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. How do we bless those who have offended us? The verse says do not curse.  In other words, don’t speak poorly of or about the one who is offending.

Look ahead to verses 17-19. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the LORD.  So, first of all, don’t fight back.  If someone says you’re an idiot and you respond you’re a fool that’s repaying evil for evil.  You never know who’s listening, they might see both of you in the wrong.  It’s not your job to punish them. No eye for an eye.  God is in control. Let Him handle it. You know the adage – Let go and let God.

Turn to Proverbs 24:17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls: when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice.  We’re not supposed to celebrate our enemy’s failures.  We’re not supposed to be any kind of happy when we see their name in the newspaper that they got a ticket for speeding.  It probably doesn’t have anything to do with the issue we have with them, but still…  We’re not supposed to say they got what they deserved in any circumstance. We’re supposed to be loving, supportive and peaceful as far as it is up to us.  If we don’t the next verse (in Proverbs 24) is pretty clear about the outcome… vs. 18 or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn His wrath away from them.  The verse doesn’t say where God’s wrath will go but I certainly don’t want it to land on me.  Just sayin’…

OK, then, back to the New Testament. Find Luke 6:31  Do to others as you would have them do to you! I could seriously hear my mother’s voice when I read that.  Whether it was my sisters, cousins, or friends tormenting me, bullying me, leaving me out she would say “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  It seemed to take a long time before I really understood that if I treated those I was with the same way I wanted to be treated the outcome would be more positive.  

I’d love to see some examples from your own lives in the comments.

Let’s go back to Isaiah 43:18 Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  In psychology, dwelling on the past, particularly negative events is called ruminating. It’s rarely a good thing and once again sets us up for the medical conditions I talked about earlier.  When you find yourself anxious, perhaps unable to sleep because of the need to forgive another person my recommendation is to give it to God and move on.  Sometimes this is easier said than done.  This is a very human condition and my solution is to start mentally reciting Bible verses I have memorized. Philippians 4:8 is a good one, the 23rd Psalm, The Lord’s Prayer… 

What are some of your favorite, memorized verses.  Especially those you use over and over.

Then finally pray again. (Notice I sandwiched how to forgive with a prayer on the top and bottom, beginning and end.)  If you can’t find the words you want turn to God’s Word.  David prayed one of the greatest ever prayers for forgiveness in Psalm 51. Reread 2 Samuel chapters 11 and 12 if you don’t remember the reason for this prayer.

He so wants every one of us to know we’re forgiven. Do you?  We all sin and fall short of His glory but He wants us to come willingly to Him, confess our sin, and know His love and presence.  If you’ve never done that and are feeling His tug on your heart pray this simple prayer with me.  If you already know Him and want more of Him and recognize that He can and will forgive us of every shortcoming in our lives this prayer is for you, too.

Jesus, hear my prayer, I know I am a sinner and am asking for Your forgiveness.  I know You are the only Son of God and want You to come into my heart and lead me.  Thank You for loving me so much that You gave Your life to free me. 

I rarely write posts this long and want you to know it’s a transcription of a live study I did for Living Hope Free Methodist Church.  If you’d rather watch it than read it check it out here.  FORGIVENESS

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Best Rules For Life Since The 10 Commandments

I certainly can’t say it any better than Eugene Peterson in The Message. Read these words!  Memorize them!  Use them!  It matters!

And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.

 But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.

 What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.

 Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.

 Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work.

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.

Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

 

Breaking the Power of Negative Words

When I was in the eighth grade, planning my High School studies track, I overheard my guidance counselor tell the High School Principal, “Why are we letting Marie follow the College Prep course? She’ll never amount to anything.”  I remember the person, the place, the time, what my heartfelt…  Although I didn’t set out to disprove him that is exactly what I did. Those words have stuck in my mind for a very long time.  It has taken nearly 50 years to overcome the effect of those words.  Sometimes the impact is still there but there have been many wonderful people, events, and circumstances that have helped overturn their power.

Now, I’m not famous but there are some really great, high achieving people who have heard much the same thing.  Walt Disney was told he wasn’t creative or original. Einstein was told he’d never amount to much.  A music teacher said of Beethoven, “As a composer, he is hopeless.”

Were those words hurtful, harmful, hateful? Yes! Did they have an impact? Most certainly! So why do we hear and say those things? Here’s the thing, you and I speak and hear negative words on a regular, daily basis. So, then, how do we overcome the results?

Mary C. Busha, in her book Breaking the Power of Negative Words, gives much insight on the subject. From finding the perspective that helps us understand to getting to a place of freedom through forgiveness, her powerful writing gives us a more complete understanding of why negative words are spoken and how to overcome the results.

People say negative things.  We say negative things to ourselves. Those are facts but there are ways to overcome the impact and effects.  Busha suggests the following steps to freeing ourselves from the influence these comments have on our lives: Expect to be offended. Stand your ground. Have realistic expectations. Set healthy boundaries. Seek accountability. Forgive daily. (pp. 95-101)

One of the many things I like about Breaking the Power of Negative Words was each chapter ended with personal, probing questions. I was able to reach back into a lifetime of personal issues and reach some understanding of the situations.

I highly recommend this book and want to close with this quote:

I want to remind you that just as God in Christ has forgiven you, once forgiven, you are forgiven. He does not dredge up your past and hold it against you. He does not remind you of the sins you’ve committed. Therefore, do not allow yourself to dredge up the sins of others. (pp. 82)

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Baker Revell Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

5 Thoughts On Developing A Lasting Marriage

June is the month of weddings and I wanted to give a little advice.  Here are my five thoughts on developing a long-lasting marriage.

  • Don’t expect your spouse to be the same year after year.  We all grow and change.  I’ve been married to the same man for over 40 years.  Neither of us is the same as we were then.  It’s been rather fun to meet a new person, who shares my bed and house, every few years.
  • Never stop talking, laughing and crying, together!  Life is tough.  There’s no way around that. Weathering the storms and celebrating the high points is all part of it.
  • Always (!!!) support one another.  Let no one say anything about your spouse that is demeaning, degrading or discrediting.  Stand up for one another!
  • Marriage is not a game!  Scorekeeping is unacceptable.  If you’re feeling that your spouse is not keeping up their end of the bargain.  Tell them.  Talk it out.  None of us have billboards on our foreheads that tell the other what we’re thinking.  Most of the time all you have to do is ask.  Try it!
  • Be kind, thoughtful, forgiving and loving.  Long marriages sometimes evolve into taking advantage of the love you have for one another.  We’re all going to do and say dumb things from time to time.  Get over it and get on with it.

Here’s a then and now picture.  Enjoy!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Recently, this post was sent to me on my FB page.  It is so true of our marriage and I hope of yours, too!

For all of you so eager to call it quits and throw in the towel on your relationships because everything isn’t “perfect”…here is some food for thought. Lifelong commitment is not what most people think it is. It’s not waking up every morning to make breakfast and eat together. It’s not cuddling in bed until both of you fall asleep, peacefully, at night. It’s not a clean home filled with laughter and lovemaking, every day. It’s someone who steals all the covers (and snores!). It’s slammed doors and a few harsh words, at times. It’s stubbornly disagreeing and giving each other the silent treatment until your hearts heal…and, then…FORGIVENESS! It’s coming home to the same person, every day, that you know LOVES and CARES about you in spite of (and because of) who you are. It’s laughing about the one time you accidentally did something stupid. It’s about dirty laundry and unmade beds WITHOUT finger pointing. It’s about helping each other with the hard work of life! It’s about swallowing the nagging words instead of saying them out loud. It’s about eating the cheapest and easiest meal you can make and sitting down together late to eat because you both had a crazy day. It’s when you have an emotional breakdown and your Love lays with you and holds you and tells you everything is going to be okay…and you BELIEVE them. It’s about still loving someone even though, sometimes, you make them absolutely insane. Living with the person you love is not perfect
…sometimes it’s hard, but it’s amazing and comforting and one of the BEST things you’ll ever experience!

(This article is from Hopewell Baptist Church page on Facebook.)

 

 

Praying the Jesus Way

 

In Matthew 6 Jesus gives us a model for our prayers and a few pointers on the how to do it.  In verses 5-8 He wants His followers to pray in a way that draws them close to God the Father without making a show of it like the hypocrites.  Then He gives the ideal place for it to happen, a place that is secluded.  By shutting the door He shows that there should be no outside influence.  He also said don’t be constantly repeating your words and going on and on.  You see God already knows what we’re praying for so keep it short and focused.

The perfect model is then given in verses 9-13:

the-lords-prayer

Each of the 6 points of this prayer lead us to total focus on the One who hears and answers.

  1. Focus on God and praise Him–Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name.  
  2. Focus on God’s plan and purpose–Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done
  3. Focus on what you need–Give us this day our daily bread
  4. Focus on forgiveness for yourself and for others–Forgive us our debts (trespasses/sins) and we forgive our debtors (those who trespass/sin against us).
  5. Focus on God’s guidance in daily challenges
  6. Focus on giving God total control–For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory

Verses 14-15 are extremely important!  We must forgive others if we expect to be forgiven by God.  It’s pretty clear isn’t it?

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie