Three Ways to Forgive… November 20, 2014

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Nothing invokes more teary-eyed sessions and popcorn psychology than the subject of forgiveness.

And it isn’t because we’re all trying to figure out how to forgive other people, but more because we realize how frail our efforts are and how much we need forgiveness ourselves.

The danger is the sappy logic that forces people to pretend they have forgiven while never experiencing the personal satisfaction of moving on.

Honestly, my friend, there are only three ways to forgive, and in this particular case, they are approached in order.

1. Look for your own personal responsibility.

Yes, very few things in life are the fault of one individual, but rather, a twisted spider web of confusing details which have to be untangled order to get to the truth.

This is the power of the warning to “take the log out of our own eye” before removing the “speck of sawdust” from someone else’s peeper.

Of course, there are times when there is no fault on our part, but more often than not, we will discover a seed we planted which unfortunately grew into a root of bitterness. You will find that it is much easier to negotiate with an enemy when you’re willing to be honest about your own part in the mess.

Once you’ve achieved this step, you’re ready for:

2. Look for repentance.

The key to forgiveness is that those who have offended you feel a sense of regret.

I think it is a great lie to tell people they can forgive others who have not admitted their fault. It’s popular to act as if forgiveness can be a one-sided event when others have not joined in the contrition. But if you want forgiveness to work in real life, you need to see repentance in those who have wronged you.

And what happens if you don’t see that repentance? In other words, you have found your own personal responsibility, but those who have attacked you are not convinced of their evil, and refuse to repent? Then:

3. Look to create distance.

It is ludicrous to think that you can exist, prosper and be in good health while remaining around individuals who have hurt you but feel no compulsion to make recompense.

It is important to forget–but virtually impossible to do so if you don’t put those old things behind you.

Look to create distance. You can’t see the face of your abuser every single day and believe that forgiveness has any reality in your being.

Now I know there are people who will disagree with me on these issues, but I do believe that those people are offering a spiritual act of forgiving which has no reality in the human experience.

I don’t forgive people in order to be magnanimous. I forgive people because I need to get the hell out of the mess. If they won’t let me move on, then I need to move away from them–sometimes literally.

Forgiveness is a powerful tool, but even God took on the responsibility of creating humans as emotionally frail creatures. Therefore He looks for repentance, but when it’s not there, He draws away. This is made clear–God only comes close to those who come close to Him.

So if God has discovered the true essence of forgiveness, why don’t we take the step?

Look at what we’ve done, look for repentance, and if it doesn’t come, look for a door to sanity.

 

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Any Given Sunday… March 4, 2013

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country churchI often find myself challenged.
Usually it’s by friends and family, who wonder why I continue to pursue an “inreach” to the church instead of expanding my activities outside the stained glass windows, to the marauding masses.
Did you ever notice that it’s always easier to view somebody else’s situation and figure out what they should do instead of messing with your own life? It’s why Jesus said we would rather take the speck of sawdust out of our brother’s eye than deal with the log protruding from our own.
But there is a miracle going on in this country. Just because it does not presently feel very miraculous does not detract from its potential. Any given Sunday, millions of Americans rise from their beds and head off to buildings, to worship the God of their choice. There’s nothing quite like it. There’s nothing that imitates it.
Even though my critics would occasionally suggest that I should go into the educational system and teach, or turn all of my products into a marketing scheme and start businesses that reach larger forums, or even that I become politically involved and change the world around me legally, I have to stand back and take a good gander at the opportunities afforded to me at this juncture in history and pursue what’s really going to work instead of what should work.
Let me tell you the problem with education. You need a diploma. What I mean is, we still evaluate the intelligence of our population based on the level of certificate they’ve received. Of course, we know this to be fictitious. We have gradually been admitting that technical schools, personal training and even apprenticeship can be preferrable methods for preparing people for the marketplace.
So how about entertainment? The problem with entertainment is that it needs applause. When you’re trying to appeal to the mass mentality, it is difficult to land on powerful ideas born through spirit or wisdom.

I suppose you could pursue corporations–but as you well know, they need a profit. They require squeezing every single dollar of savings out of your ledger of costs to always plump the bottom line.
How about politics? Well, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that politicians need a vote–and if you’re trying to get everybody to vote for you, the only thing you’re really running from is the truth.
It’s the church.

Flawed as she may be, encumbered by tradition more than passion, she still remains the only avenue for change–where people understand that some receptivity and learning may be necessary to gain favor.

Any given Sunday, you will see them gather. They are the huddled masses of our nation, still clinging to the hope of better ideals, even if those principles are muttered instead of proclaimed.
I sat in my green room yesterday morning preparing to share my heart with a new group of people from Houston, Texas. Outside in the hallway there were a myriad of conversations that floated through my door. These interactions were not any different from what you would have heard at a barbershop, a shopping mall or outside a football stadium prior to the game. They were laced with humanity, riddled with a lot of opinion, and even frustration.

But here’s the difference–we weren’t at a barber shop, a shopping mall or getting ready to go to a football game. We were heading into a room to sit our butts down in the presence of God and try to think about something besides ourselves and our own woes.

It opens the door for a possibility for renewal. It opens the window to revival. It opens our minds to the resurrection of change.

No one left the way they came. That’s why I go to the church. That’s why I keep believing.

And that’s why, on any given Sunday, there is the magnificent mission of generating a glorious new Monday.

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