Five Steps to Kick Start Your Faith to Move Forward – Part 4

No Shirt No Shoes No Service and No Flexibility

No Shirt No Shoes No Service and No Flexibility

This is Part 4 in a series on Five Steps to Kick Start Your Faith to Move Forward.  We’ve looked at Step 1 – Try Forgiving Someone, and Step 2 – Feelings Follow Decisions.  Now for Step 3 – Flexibility Build Faith

Step 3. Flexibility Builds Faith

When our faith runs into obstacles, our flexibility keeps us in the race.  We need the ability to “roll with the punches,” to bend without breaking.  Let us not marry our methods.  I constantly ask God to give me his eyes to see, his ears to hear, his heart to love, and his passions to focus me. Adjustments can take time.  When praise and worship music first came to large churches in the late 80’s and 90’s, many people didn’t like it because it wasn’t the way it had always been.  Traditions and rituals have a place. The new music took time to learn to love the new style. Along the way, new tunes have become favorites, and people’s hearts become adaptable to new sounds.  It was worth being stretched to keep us open to the new and every changing style points of God.

 

I spoke to a pastor last week who came to faith initially during the Jesus Movement of the 1970’s. It was a movement that started with surfers who had long hair, often didn’t wear shoes, and sometimes didn’t even had dreadlocks.  He reminded me that some churches posted signs that said, “No shoes, No shirt, No service.”  They demanded certain dress codes to be able to worship.  We have all come a long way since then, especially in California.  Now there are churches where dedicated young men and women wear Tshirts, jeans and open toed sandals to “church services” that resemble something akin to a rock-n-roll concert. Yet their faith is sincere and precious.

Prophets foretell that the next move of God will look different from anything we’ve seen so far.  Okay.  No one knows what that will look like exactly. What we can do to be prepared is develop intimacy with the Lord.  If we know his voice and ask him, he can tell us what is of him or not.  As we walk closer to him, our spirits seek church that offers his presence of spirit and life.

See Also Five Steps to Kick Start Your Faith to Move Forward – Part 1

See Also Five Steps to Kick Start Your Faith to Move Forward – part 3

 


Five Steps to Kick Start Your Faith to Move Forward – Part 3

Kick Start Faith with Forgiveness

Kick Start Faith with Making Good Decisions

This is Part 3 in a series on Five Steps to Kick Start Your Faith to Move Forward.

Step 1 – Try Forgiving Someone (Cont)

After forgiveness, we must allow grace and mercy for ourselves as well as for others. Psalm 23:6 reads, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  Staying in forgiveness is part of dwelling in the house of the Lord. Practicing the lifestyle of forgiveness stretches our faith and propels us forward.

Step 2. Feelings Follow Decisions

When you’ve been stuck a long time, forward momentum can seem impossible.  We can lack direction, energy and confidence. The first step is deciding to make a change.  “Today I’m going to do something different.”  It could be as simple as try a new church, study a book of the Bible I’ve never done an in depth study before, take a class, ready a Christian living book, serve in a soup kitchen, do a kind deed to a stranger, fast for 24 hours, or tithe one percent more than I did last year.  Whatever the change is, make the decision and do it.

The key to moving forward with this action plan is being willing to act in spite of our feelings.  Faith follows our actions, not our feelings.  I can make a decision to get up one hour earlier to have a decent quite time and write more.  I feel like doing this about 4 or 5 days and then I feel like sleeping in.  It’s after I push myself and get up anyway, I usually feel so glad I did it.  The flesh is going to want the easy way out at some point.  It’s time to get determined and stay committed to our decision to do the next forward step of our faith. Our faith follows determination, and our feeling eventually come around.

The other area decisions matter is in the resolve not to quit.  Sometimes the temptations to give up can be the toughest right before the victory point.  Once our minds are made up, we stop talking about it, set our faces like flint and move toward the finish line.

See Also Resolve to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough

See Also Five Steps to Kick Start Your Faith to Move Forward – Part 1

See Also Five Steps to Kick Start Your Faith to Move Forward – Part 2


Five Steps to Kick Start Your Faith to Move Forward – Part 2

Kick Start Your Faith with Forgiveness

Kick Start Your Faith with Forgiveness

This is Part 2 in a series on Five Steps to Kick Start Your faith and Move Forward.

Step 1 – Try Forgiving Someone (Cont)

As best we can, we must operate in love.  1 Corinthians 13:7 says, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  Colossians 3:13 takes it one step further asking us to forgive one another.  “Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”  Part of trying forgiveness is learning to make allowances for each other’s faults.  We are called to live in peace, which doesn’t allow for holding grudges and keeping a list of offenses.  God makes this serious business.  In fact, the Bible tells us to be quick to forgive, and quick to resolve conflicts.  It’s a tall order.  It stretches our faith.  But it will definitely accelerate us forward in our faith walk.

Part of forgiving everyone includes forgiving ourselves as well as others. What if we blow it?  The guilt that follows failure can immobilize us long-term, but forgiveness liberates us—freeing up our energy and creativity.  Forgiveness is two-dimensional:  first we must receive God’s forgiveness for our failures.  Include things we’ve done, and things we have left undone:  love unexpressed, responsibility avoided, a child, parent or spouse neglected, truth withheld.  Heartfelt confessions brings God’s forgiveness. 1 John 1:9.

God does not see failure the same way we do.  He counts it as valuable lessons.  There may be consequence.  Still, we must choose to forgive ourselves.  We must ask God how he sees us, pausing and waiting for the answer.  God knows the temptations we face.  We may need to forgive ourselves for trying to be perfect on our own, when we could have asked Him for his supernatural help.  God can (if we ask) fold in our failures and use these for His grand purposes in our lives.  In prayer, invite Him in.

Prayer:  Father, Please forgive me.  Please fold in my failures and use them for your grand purposes in my life.  Please come in and help me to forgive others.

See Also Five Steps to Kick Start Your Faith to Move Forward – Part 1

See Also Five Steps to Kick Start Your Faith to Move Forward – part 3

 


Lessons in Communication: Suspend the Response

Suspend the Response to Misunderstanding or Accusations with Time and Prayer

Suspend the Response to Misunderstandings or Accusations with Time and Prayer

How many times do I say something I wished I hadn’t in the heat of the moment?  Not a lot.  And, not as many as I used to.  When I do say something in the intensity of an argument, I spend the next few days (weeks? months?) wishing I could take it back. Or worse, I live with the consequences of something I really didn’t intend to say, or think through.  Mea culpas or apologies follow.  There’s got to be a better way.  I asked God about this recently.  I woke up the next day with the phrase “Suspend the Response” going through my head.  It fits in the category of preventative forgiveness.

In situations with my brother, he shares details of our conversations with many others in our extended family. I recently had one family member call me to say he had heard about our difficult conversation and that he was secretly in agreement with me.  Thanks. He even said the sermon at their church, which my brother heard, backed up my point.  It was a small consolation for having the conversation exposed. Practically it serves as a muzzle to not say anything and communication ends up being limited and stilted.  It’s not optimum, but the pain does not merit the risk of conversation.

More importantly, I go before God and ask forgiveness.  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:9.  I tell God I’m genuinely sorry and receive His forgiveness.  I wish it would stop there.  There is no forgiveness on my brother’s part. I’m okay with this. Now, I want to stop being around my brother.  But God always points me back to relationship.  The book of Proverbs helps.  (Currently reading Bold Love by Dr. Dan Allender) It teaches how to have conversations with many types of difficult people.

In the meanwhile, God suggests the practical tool of learning to suspend responses to questions or accusations with time and prayer.  I take the time I need to think and pray through my answers and then give a response.  It allows time for the emotions to ebb, logical thoughts to surface and the commitment of peace to be part of the dialogue.

“Lord, What is a better way to respond the difficult person in my life today?”


Repentance and Forgiveness Go Together

The Beauty of Repenting is Receiving the Gift of Forgiveness

The Beauty of Repenting is Receiving the Gift of Forgiveness

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.  Acts 3:19

Repentance and Forgiveness go together like peanut butter and jelly. In this day and age, when something goes wrong, we tend to hunt down the person responsible so the blame can be squarely placed.  Accepting responsibility can diffuse many a situation.  It takes courage to say, “It’s my fault, and I’m sorry.  I have sinned, and I repent.”  We’re not a forgiving society.  We want someone to pay.  And it’s tempting to offer up the sacrificial lamb. Further, we live with a lot of learned overlooking. The beauty of repenting is the ability to receive the gift of forgiveness.

Charles Sprugeon (1834-1892) penned these words years ago, “ Repentance and forgiveness are joined together in the experience of all believers.  There has never been a person yet who genuinely repented of sin that was not forgiven.  On the other hand, no one has ever been forgiven who had not repented of being washed away, unless at the same time the heart was led to repentance and faith in Christ.  Hatred of sin and a sense of pardon come together into the soul and abide together while we live.  These two things act and react upon each other.  The man who is forgiven, repents; and the man who repents is most assuredly forgiven.  You will never value pardon unless you feel repentance; and you will never taste the deepest drought of repentance until you know that you are pardoned.”

 

See also 8 Reasons to Release a Grudge

see also Entering Into Forgiveness


The Right and Wrong Way to Respond to Mighty Works of God

Map of Chorazin and Bethsaida - Cities which Did Not Respond Right to Miracles

Map of Chorazin and Bethsaida – Cities which Did Not Respond Right to Miracles

Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent:  “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.  Matthew 11:20-22

Harsh words of Jesus.  Jesus was speaking to the people who lived in the cities that saw a lot of miracles.  Seeing miracles amazes people and leaves them in awe with a new revelation of God and His power. Jesus’ comparison points are people in other cities who, seeing the same mighty works of God, would have repented.  It would indicate that seeing miracles usually leads to repentance.  That was Jesus’ expectation.

This stern rebuke wasn’t because there wasn’t deep appreciation of miracles.  One has to believe that the people that got healed were grateful.  Jesus pointed to a failure to repent.  This is the Right Way to respond to the mighty works of God: Repentance.  With repentance comes forgiveness. Repentance causes changes in behavior, perspective shifts, and a new way of thinking.  Being part of a miracle forever changes the way one sees life as they thought they knew it.  If there is no change, the hearts harden to God and His offerings.  Glory is not given to God. Hardened hearts tend to become hearts of stone.  Eventually judgment comes.

Now, when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.”  Matthew 9:8

 

 


Forgivness Often Comes with Side Benefits of Healing

Forgiveness brought the "side benefit" of freedom from motion sickness

Forgiveness Brought the “Side Benefit” of Freedom from Motion Sickness

Forgiveness benefits us, usually more than the other person.  In the Healing Rooms, we often see physical healing linked to forgiveness.  Let’s look at one woman’s story who chose to forgive her mother for smoking.

At yesterday’s Aglow meeting, we learned how forgiveness can have a physical healing benefit.  A woman shared what happened when she decided to forgive her mother thirty odd years after her mother passed on to be with the Lord.  Her mother had smoked when she was a little girl and she had never liked it and had asked her mother to stop.  The desire to smoke had overruled the request of her daughter.  It was particularly difficult for our friend when her mother smoked in the car.  She would get dizzy, and dreaded driving around curves.

At an inner healing retreat a few years ago, this woman chose to forgive her Mom for smoking even when she asked her not to.  At the time, it felt good.  Two days later, she left the retreat on a small plane before connecting at a larger airport.  She didn’t like small planes for their bumpy rides.  She noticed that she didn’t mind the plane ride and could look out and enjoy the magnificent views of Alaska.  She didn’t pay much attention to this at first.

Last week, she had driven a very curvy mountainous road with her husband and didn’t have one minute of motion sickness.  She realized she was completely free of motion sickness.  She praised God.  She hadn’t really linked it back, at first, to her decision to forgive her Mom.  As she thought back to the last time she had had motion sickness, she realized it was on the way to her retreat.  For four years she has not experienced motion sickness. The shift happened after forgiving her Mom, years after her Mom had passed on.  What a great “side benefit” to forgiveness!

See also, Entering into Forgiveness

 

 


Is Forgiving Cold-Turkey Possible?

Endless Ripples of Forgiveness

Endless Ripples of Forgiveness

Sometimes it’s easy to forgive people.  Sometimes the process can take time.  Some people quit smoking cold-turkey, and other chew nicotine gum for years.  It all depends.  If possible, it’s best to get in the habit of forgiving people, and even forgiving ourselves.  There may be consequences to the action points that require the process of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is a choice that sometimes needs to be remade daily.  Let’s consider the process of forgiveness:

1.  Be prepared to recommit to your decision to forgive as may times as thoughts of unforgiveness pop into your head.

2.  Keep releasing the bitterness, regret and thoughts of revenge.  Then ask Jesus what He has for you in exchange.  I once forgave someone and God gave me the word “freedom” in exchange.  From there on out, I focused on wanting the freedom of a new chapter in life free from thoughts of the person I was choosing to forgive.  Freedom is better.

3.  Release the toxic emotions to God as they surface, and give Him the difficult people to deal with as He chooses. This lightens our burden by staying in unforgiveness, and allows us to move away from the negative hooks of the memory.  It leaves them with themselves and their need for change.  Maybe they will learn to call on God.

4.  Realize that the decision to forgive is immediate, and allow yourself your need to heal from the person/incident in good time.  Think of it as similar to salvation which is immediate and yet the path of sanctification unfolds over time.

5.  Living a life free from the burden of resentment and toxicity of unforgiveness is a choice followed by a series of choices.  It gets easier with time as forgiveness becomes a habit.

Paul writes in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”  As we are forgiven by Christ, it is our turn to “forgive each other, just as God forgave us.”  Ephesians 4:32


Eight Reasons to Release a Grudge

Hot Air Balloon

Releasing Grudges is Freeing

Who wants to hold a grudge?  It is possible to hold a grudge and the person we’re upset with doesn’t even know it.  How about getting rid of the grudge for our sake, no matter what the person did, or does, or continues to do?  Forgiveness is self-benefiting.  This helps when the person whose actions incurred the reason for the grudge isn’t repentant.  It’s not about whether they deserve to be released of the grudge.  It’s about getting free of the grudge for our own sake. Here are some reasons to consider:

1.         Letting go of the past allows us to move into the future.  Who needs the past to cling to us when the future is unfolding before us every minute.  Stop focusing on the past where the best is yet ahead.

2.         Holding a grudge takes time and energy.  Time is often our most valuable asset.  Take it back.  Let go of the thoughts it takes to nurture a grudge by giving it to God and gain back that mind time.  Redirect the energy towards something positive that produces a lasting benefit.

3.         Take back the power from the offender by not giving them credit where credit is not due.  It doesn’t take long to look for other reasons to add to our original grudge and some of the new reasons might not be applicable.  Being ready to forgive gives the chains holding us back to God and allows us to move on.

4.         Forgiveness is a process.  It starts with a decision and then a learned habit of not thinking about it and not “going to that place.”  Truly releasing is the goals but it can take time.  Often releasing a grudge gets harder with time.  Starting early is the easiest way to accomplish the release.

5.         Holding a grudge gives the illusion of control.  Really, we’re controlled by the grudge.  Let go and grasp the freedom to forgive.

6.         Once a grudge is fully released, it allows for healing to begin.

7.         Letting go of a grudge feels good. Really. Staying angry doesn’t feel good over time.

8.         Receive God’s love for you.  If we feel loved, it’s easier to love.  If we receive forgiveness, it’s easier to forgive.  God says to love, and is the example of how to do this.  God says to forgive, and again is the example of how to do this.   Freedom comes with forgiveness.


Entering into Forgiveness

Jesus taught forgiveness at the cross

The key to walking in victory is forgiveness.  Every day there is a need to forgive someone something.  People used to walking in forgiveness know to not let someone who cuts in front of their car upset them.  Even well deserved offenses do more damage to us than to the person that caused them.  A well known saying says that taking offense is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick.  It’s not worth it.

We live in a world of intentional and unintentional antagonisms.  Betrayals, lies, false witnesses, verbal backstabbing, aggressive acts, physical violations, sexual violations, and murder all happen – regularly.  With every action, with every choice on the part of the person doing the deed is the recipient.  We all need to forgive.  Sometimes it’s harder than others.  Sometimes we need to forgive ourselves. People may not deserve forgiveness.  But we need to forgive them anyway.

Our model for being godly on earth is Jesus.  He forgave everyone, at every level, who contributed to his unearned abuse.  Jesus forgave each of us, before his time, during his time and after his time.  This is the example we need to follow.  It’s a tall order.  On the other end is the freedom on not carrying the burden of unforgiveness.  People do not get away with their actions.  God sees it all.  When we give him our forgiveness of someone, He takes up the role of dealing with the person.  They may choose to ignore God’s dealings with them.  There is a cost when anyone does this.  Ultimately there is a cost.  God is a fair God.  It may not seem like it.  But if we knew what God knows from His perspective, we would probably be in agreement with Him.  I’ve learned that it’s better to get on agreement with what He knows rather than trying to get God to get in agreement with what I know.

When we give something to God for Him to deal with, it allows us to walk away free.  Forgiveness let us walk into freedom.  As Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”  Luke 23:34