speak forgiveness

Have you ever said anything that you regretted? This week, instead of saying the word song or tong, I said the word thong both in very awkward church related settings. When I refer to regretful words I am not speaking of embarrassing moments but to purposeful things you say that are hurtful and harmful to others.

In 5th Grade I was riding home from school on the bus. Behind me there was a classmate who was making fun of me by saying things that were rude and crude. I had enough and there was a decision to be made: turn the other cheek or wipe the smirk off his cheek. I chose the later. I charged back there and started wailing on him. The bus driver slammed on the breaks. I flew forward. The bus driver rushed to the back of the bus and grabbed us both by our shirts and ushered us up to the front of the bus. We didn’t make it to our homes that day; instead, we waited for our parents at the bus barn. My mother was not a happy camper.

When someone offends us we want to hold onto the hurt and anger. Or we want to pursue payback, seek revenge and retribution. Unforgiveness is controlling. When we choose to not forgive we put the perpetrator in the drivers seat and say in a sense, “You are in control, you call the shots.” Unforgiveness is like a dog leash and its master is the one who has offended you.

God knows that we struggle with forgiving and being forgiven. That is why He has given us His Bible. He communicates with us and gives us an example of how to communicate with others. He knows it is our mouths that get us into the most trouble. He builds a bridge and gives us the means to get over it. Let’s look at four fascinating truths God gives on how to be forgivers and godly communicators. If we seek to live by these it will save us from a lot of conflict.

1. Speak the Truth [4:25]. Unforgiving people love to latch onto lies. People who do not put off falsehoods will tend to say things like, “You always ____. You never _____. Every time I ____, you _____.” Rather than speaking in absolutes; gather the facts, never assume anything always ask for what is true [cf. 1 Cor.2:11; Phil 2:1-3]. Speak the truth in love to build up, not to break down [cf. 1 Cor.13:1-3; Eph.4:15]. Do not burn your bridges, rather seek to build them back.

2. Solve Today’s Situations Today [4:26-28]. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger because you more than likely will not deal with it. Not dealing with it is not dealing with it. We tend to hold off on dealing with confrontation or forgiveness until a better day when it feels right or the timing is right. But digging up the past should be left to archeologists and projecting on the future is for prophets. Adding time to anger multiplies the problem. Unresolved unforgiveness or anger leads to bitterness. Deal with your situations today by keeping current.

Here are some good questions to ask before you speak:

  • Do I have my facts right? Proverbs 18:13
  • Should love hide this? [i.e. Is it “sinful” or preferential?] 1 Peter 4:8,
  • Is my timing right?  Proverbs 15:23
  • Is my attitude right?  Ephesians 4:15
  • Are my words loving?  Ephesians 4:15
  • Have I prayed for help?  Proverbs 3:5

3. Slay the Problem not the Person [4:29-30]. Words pierce people to their core. Words can bring life or kill [Proverbs 18:21, cf. Mt.5:21-26]. Corrupting talk is when you your words, statements and tone to disintegrate others. We can be champions at putting other people down. Like Goliath we have a big mouth that gets us into trouble. David let God do the fighting for him.

Hurtful, harmful and hateful words do not only grieve the offended, but also God. Do you know why? Each and every person was made in the likeness and image of God. When we break apart peoples character it tarnishes the very God who created them. Corrupting talk does not help the situation, however, edifying words search for a solution [cf. Eph.4:15; Col.4:5-6].

4. Step ahead, don’t step back [4:31-32]. Be proactive in your speech rather than reactive. In other words, act—don’t react. We have a tendency to justify our primary sin with a secondary sin [i.e. Gen.3:8-13]. When someone offends us and we fire back in anger, wrath, bitterness, and slander we are letting them get the upper hand. God says as followers of Christ we are to step it up by putting on the character and communication of Christ.

When Jesus was ushered to His death sentence as an innocent man He never defended Himself. It is not the He was a weenie or wimp, or that He was too cowardly to stand up to His accusers. In fact, He was more courageous because He did not retaliate. He let God do the fighting for Him. In the midst of unfair and unforgettable circumstances He remained kind, compassionate and forgiving [i.e. Is.53:4-12].

Years later after the school bus brawl I had a similar situation occur. Somebody was accusing me a things that were false, slandering my character, spreading lies and gossip. Instead of heading over to their house and letting them have it, I quietly confronted them in love and grace. In time, God did the fighting for me and I did not have to do anything to prove myself. I extended forgiveness to the offender and treated them as it never happened. Do you know what happened? The kindness of the God had taught me, and the forgiveness that God had given to me was used as an instrument of brokenness in this person’s life. Forgiveness is a mighty weapon of restoration in the hands of God [Romans 12:21].

The way you communicate and extend forgiveness to others reveals your relationship with God [Luke 6:45].

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plan G

plan G

A man once asked me the question of all questions, “If you were to die today where would you go?” I didn’t have a smart answer. I was curious, but though to myself, “Could anybody really know the answer to that question?”

How do I get to heaven? Many have tried to answer this question in many different ways:

  • You got to do a bunch of good deeds [hope to make the Cosmic curve for the class].
  • Do as you please [aka: heaven on earth]. This is the only life you got.
  • God is a God of love and wouldn’t send anybody to hell.
  • You got to have faith.
  • You got to follow the teachings of Buddha, Muhammad, Joseph Smith, or Jesus.

Yet these many ways do not answer the question. They just lead to more questions: How good is good enough? If this is heaven on earth, why is there so much suffering, sin and temptation? Why wouldn’t a loving God judge sin? Faith in what? How do we know which guy? What is your plan get to heaven?

PLAN A: By Being Sinlessly Perfect

If our eternity rested on our perfect performance we would all be doomed. We have all committed errors and made foul plays. This is called sin. You are not perfect. You cannot bat 1.000. Sorry to burst your bubble but you are not good enough [Rom.3:23 “all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory].

God is perfect. Our sin causes us to miss the mark of His glorious perfection.

The problem is that you and I are born sinners. You are born needy. You cry for attention. Ask any baby who desires the attention. You did not have to take sin lessons. We are educated as selfish little sinsner straight from the womb. And I have been sinning habitually ever since.

When people say that they are a “good person” or share their list of “good deeds” [i.e. help the poor, generosity] or compare themselves with “bad people” [i.e. Hitler or Bin Laden]…they are just sugar coating  the reality of their sinfulness [Prov.14:12 “There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death.”]. PLAN A: I CANNOT CHECK

PLAN B: By Paying the Price for our Sin

Trying to be a good boy or girl only ends in disappointment and frustration because we can never quite match up. It ends in death [Rom.6:23 “For the wages of our sin is death…”]. This is more than physical death, but also eternal separation from God. Notice this spectrum of goodness [Evil being murders, rapists, and abusers / God being absolute perfection]:

EVIl and GOD Spectrum graphic

First on the spectrum is Mother Teresa [MT]. She is known for her compassion for orphans in Calcutta. Under “Christian” in the dictionary would be her picture. Some would say she is the best of all Christians, yet in her biographies she admits struggling with many sins. Second, Billy Graham [BG], the long known evangelist who was used by God to bring many into God’s kingdom. He preached to more people than anybody in history. Yet he publicly admits his fall into sin. Then there is me [JT]. I cant even be in the same category with MT & BG. Just ask my mom or wife and they will let you know what kind of sin I am!! Where would you put your initials?

Mother Teresa, Billy Graham and I are in serious trouble. We cannot match up to God’s standard. We fall way short. This applies not only us, but you too. It doesn’t matter if your parents are Christians, if your grandma prays, if you go to Africa to help AIDS children, if you go to church every time the doors are open, you will still fall short.

There is a giant chasm that separates you and me from God [cf. Bridge to Life]. It is like trying to throw a stone from where you are to the North Pole. Some might throw farther than you, but we all still fall way short. Our sin creates a separation [Is.59:2 “It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, He has turned away and will not listen anymore.”]. We cannot pay the debt load for our sin. It cost too much. PLAN B: I CANNOT CHECK

PLAN G: By Trusting in the One who did

Since Plans A & B fail what other option do we have? How about Plan G? Plan G = God’s Grace. Grace us unmerited favor or a gift from God that you do not deserve. I do not deserve God’s grace even on my best day. No one deserves it. This is why it is called grace [Rom.6:23b “…but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”].

What does God’s grace look like? Because of His love He sent His Son to die on the cross for your sin [all your junk, funk errors, strike outs and foul plays]. His grace can at a gruesome cost; execution on a cross. Jesus did the work of Plan A & B before He went to the cross. He did what we could not do. He did it for you. The work is done. The cross bridges the separation. It is a homerun game willing deal.

Religion = DO. Do this and don’t do that. It doesn’t work.

Relationship with Christ = DONE. It is finished on the cross. [Jn.19:30]

From the moment we receive God’s grace there are many things we receive: Forgiveness, Christ’s Righteousness, acceptance into His family, reconciliation, redemption, and so much more.

How do I get God’s grace?

Admit. Admit that you have fail with Plan A & B. That you do not measure up to God’s standard. That your sin separates you from Him. See yourself as God sees you. Recognize the chasm between you and him.

Believe. Believe that God sent Jesus to die on the cross for your sin. It is not about understanding everything. It is about trust.

Receive. Let Jesus come in. Open the lid of your heart and let Him come in. Let Him change you from the inside out.

PLAN G: I CAN CHECK, DONE

real questions: kill Jesus?

Ned Anzers: Did Jesus have to die? And why did Jesus have to die?

We often forget that these questions were posed the day Jesus died (Matthew 27:37-43). That horrid Friday afternoon Jesus was taunted and mocked before his death to come down and save Himself. Yet Jesus did not come down. He died that day.

There are 2 possibilities of why Jesus didn’t save Himself, either He could not or He chose not to do it. Which you believe depends on who you think Jesus is. This is what I believe:

1.  Jesus could have saved Himself.

Jesus could have stopped His arrest (Mt.26:52-54). During His earthly ministry Jesus did chose to save Himself multiple times from death. He escape from kill-hungry mobs: throw Him off a cliff (Lk.4:28-30), stone Him (John 10:39), and strangle Him (Jn.7:30), but no one could touch Him for it was not time…He would disappear into the crowd.

2.  Jesus chose not to save Himself.

Jesus went to Jerusalem knowing that His enemies were there ready to kill Him (Mt.16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19). In fact, Jesus knew the kind of death He was going to face (Ps.22:7-18) This prophecy was given hundreds of years before there was such a thing as the Roman crucifixion.

3. Jesus chose to die as the ransom (Mt.20:28).

When we hear the word ransom we think of hostages being held captive by bank robbers or terrorists. They have a note demanding payment or the hostages will die. In the days of Jesus it was similar. Ransom was often paid to release people from slavery. All because of sin I am guilt as charged.

The verdict: sin (Rom.3:23)
The sentence: death (Rom.6:23).
The prison: hell
The Judge: God (Rom.5:8a)
The Ransom: Jesus (Rom.5:8b)

How is Jesus death a ransom? Jesus came to release us from spiritual slavery. Sin has a serious price tag. No amount of money or stockpile of good deeds can meet the demand of the ransom. Jesus death paid my ransom. A sinful man cannot die for another sinful man. But Jesus was sinless. Jesus took my place. He chose to die for those who hate Him. Sometimes we wish God would just keep out of our business, but God made our sin His business. It was something He was born to do. He lived to die. Jesus was the perfect plan to pay my ransom: God’s justice demanded a ransom (punishment for sin), and God Himself is the ransom (payment for sin).

sin is more than

I gathered at the Communion Table like never seen before. On Sunday, I was faced with the reality of my sin as Pastor Kenny preached on the reality of the cross from the perspective of our sin and the wrath of God.  For a majority of the service I was confronted by my darkness that once separated me from the Light. It is my sin that nailed Christ to the cross, but it is also the cross of Christ that frees me from the bondage of sin. The Gospel is so good! By the end of the service, I had my head in my hands praising a God of grace.

I went home that night and wrote a poem reflecting the passage below:

“And you who were dead in your sins…God made alive together with Him, having forgiven all our sins, but canceling the certificate of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13-14 

 

sin is more than blood and gore
more than neglecting the poor
more than sleeping with a whore
more than being wicked to the core

sin is more than a binge on gin and rum
more than forsaking the lowly bum
more than pretending to be blind, deaf or dumb
more than being compassionately numb

sin is more than committing a vile crime
more than stealing a nickel or dime
more than a mind filled with grime
more than wasting away valuable time

sin is more than one night before the ring
more than an extra-marital fling
more than putting an enemy in a sling
more than having no offering to bring

Sin is slapping a Holy God in the face
defaming the name of His glory and grace
facing a judgement without a case
separating all from His eternal place

 

Sin is recorded on a certificate of debt,
punishable by death; an infinite loss
but Christ has taken the the dirty note
and nailed it to the splintered cross

 

T4G

I just got back from the Together 4 the Gospel 2008 Conference in Louisville, KY. Wow, it was a lot different than I had expected. It was great to see all the guys from my seminary classes and ol’ college buddies. I also took home enough reading material to last me a few years or until T4G 2010. They gave away more free books than all the other conferences I have been to combined.

Lesson Learned: Preach on the cross of Christ. Do not be ashamed. Do not water it down to be relevant, do not fear the responses to it grossness and primitiveness. Preach the cross. That is where the power of the gospel rests.

Check out www.t4g.org, all the sessions are available to listen FREE. I recommend R.C. Sproul’s “The Curse Motif in the Atonement,” and John Piper’s “How the Supremacy of Christ Creates Radical Christian Sacrifice.” 

The Gift of Worship

Worship
Worship s a huge thing.
We look forward to worship every week.
When the music includes one of our favorites, we say, “The worship was great!”
When the music stinks, we yawn and wonder why the worship wasn’t very good.
We leave churches because of the “worship style”.
Worship s a huge thing. 
 
Have you ever wondered if we’re more concerned with what worship does FOR us
And less concerned with the Object of our worship?
It seems like it’s more about what we GET not what we GIVE.
It would be like taking a gift to a friend’s birthday party, but keeping it for ourselves.
 
Worship is all about GIVING our lives (again) to God. 
Worship is not about the feeling we receive when we sing.
Worship is not about convincing God to bless us.
Worship is not about whether or not the guitar is too loud.
Worship is not about what’s happening on the stage.
Worship is not about entertainment, lighting or sound.
 
Worship is not about us at all.
IT’S NOT ABOUT US.
It’s about Him.
And we enter through the gateway of the cross.
At the cross, we surrender, love, cry, dream, give up, shut up, kneel, confess.
We look to God, and place Him about all else
Because He is worth it! 
 
Live gets crazy and painful.
No one can deny that.
Job stress, divorce, death, addictions, parenting, loneliness.
No one is asking you to pretend that those things aren’t affecting you.
DON’T PRETEND.
You’re just being invited to bring that stuff to the cross, and to simply gaze at Jesus.
And as you look at Him, allow your response to be
Worship 
 
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