Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Forgiveness’

3 Reasons Why I Use the F Word and You Should Too

In Chrisian Life, Forgiveness on July 22, 2014 at 8:00 am

f-bomb-f-bomb-ball-fuse

Sometimes it just can’t be helped.  Usually it doesn’t just slip out.  However, in the heat of the moment it is the only real option.  The “F” word sometimes NEEDS to be used.  Of course, I don’t think it should be just thrown around.  It should be used tastefully and with purpose.  I am trying to teach my children how to use the word in the right moments.  You can’t just drop that bomb in any conversation.  It takes a certain diplomacy to use it just right.  I hear it all the time, but I am not sure we all are working on the same definition.  In fact, I think many people misunderstand the purpose and meaning of the “F” word.

7 I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty.
I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;
the entire family is affected—
even children in the third and fourth generations.

Exodus 34:7

Forgiveness is critical to a society that functions properly.  However, so many people refuse to forgive because of a misunderstanding of its meaning and purpose.

Forgiveness is not…

  1. It is not a release from responsibility.  Just because you forgive does not mean that person is no longer liable for the actions or words which damaged you or the relationship.
  2. It is not an immediate end to the pain.  Forgiveness does not rid ourselves of the pain we might feel.  Forgiveness cannot bring back the child lost in the accident.  Forgiveness cannot remove the haunting memories of the battles, bruises, and scars.
  3. It is not giving in.  The perceived power I feel that I have over someone is just that…perceived.  I am not giving in to the person, or group.  What is happening is that I am actually taking back a personal power.

Forgiveness is…

  1. Being interested in moving forward more than staying in the past.
  2. Giving back to God the right to dispense justice.
  3. A process, not a one-time event.

We must learn how to forgive.  It is an art, not always a science.  I choose to forgive. I choose to give back to God the right to dispense justice as He sees fit.  I choose to let go of the event and move forward.

I forgive you is powerful.  Be powerful today.

Get to the Heart of the Matter

In Cleansing, Faith, Sin on June 12, 2014 at 10:03 am

the-heart-of-the-matter1

You might have heard it said that it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission.

When we have our heart set on something it is difficult to make a change.  Our culture fixates quickly and, like a dog with a bone, will never give up on attaining what it wants.  At the core of this issue one finds sin.  We give in to our passions and lust.  We let desire overcome our faculties.  In those moments Gordon Gekko echoes in our head that “Greed is good.”  This extends far beyond money.  We have a tendency to sin in a few major categories:  Money, Power, Popularity, Sex.

But Balaam responded to Balak’s messengers, “Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the lord my God.  But stay here one more night, and I will see if the lord has anything else to say to me.” That night God came to Balaam and told him, “Since these men have come for you, get up and go with them. But do only what I tell you to do.” So the next morning Balaam got up, saddled his donkey, and started off with the Moabite officials.  But God was angry that Balaam was going, so he sent the angel of the lord to stand in the road to block his way.

Balaam already knew what God had said the first time.  He comes back again because Balaam has already made up his mind.  He wanted money and power.  He wanted to be with the cool crowd.  He was willing to do that which God did not want him to do.  A surprising twist happens next.  When God calls him on it, Balaam’s confession only includes the outward act.

I find that we often will confess the actions, but withhold the motivations.  Balaam confesses the sin of going with the men.  He does not confess the sin of greed and lust for power.  When we confess our sins we must be careful to consider the motivation for the sin and confess it too. Only then do you receive a full cleansing surrounding the behavior.  Confession is a time for you to get to the heart of the matter.  Sharing the “whats” is easy. Make sure you include the “whys” as well.  You will find a new joy and peace.

On the Outside Looking In

In Faith, Life and Culture on February 22, 2014 at 9:09 am

Beamer2DashaWindow

Billy left the house early that morning to catch the bus.  It was cold and crisp but not frigid as he made his way down the road.  The sun was peeking over the trees as the bus rumbled into view.  He got on and looked for the seat he wanted.  Thankfully he was one of the first and could choose from several, but he also knew no one would sit with him anyway.  He sat in silence the entire way.

Susan rolled into school and grabbed some breakfast.  She was right on time and stopped in the bathroom before going to class.  She overheard the girls talking about her accent and clothes like they were the absolute worst thing to ever consider.  She cried before going to class.

Laura arrived at her desk a little frazzled.  She had a rough morning getting the kids ready and off this morning not to mention she was having a bad hair day!  Recently divorced, she had taken this job as a new requirement in life.  She was alone.  No one spoke and the groups had already been formed with no one seeming to take on new members.  She kept her head down and did her work….alone.

John was having a bad year.  He had lost his mother.  He had wrecked his car.  He was about to lose his job because of absences due to the first two items.  He drove by the church and the sign happened to catch his eye.  He was not a “church” person, but there was something that tugged at him today.  He parked and walked in.  The halls were busy with people being busy.  He finally found his way to the worship center.  He took a seat and waited.  People rushed by him and never stopped.  At the end of the service he left….alone.

Have you ever been on the outside looking in?  Have you ever felt alienated?  Have you ever felt set aside?  Being on the outside looking in at school, work, or church is often the result of poor choices by the people that surround you.  Social and cultural bias is widespread.  The “wrong” clothes or the “wrong” vehicle or the “wrong” neighborhood or the “wrong” position at work can all cause prejudice.  The result is the feeling of isolation and/or alienation on your part.

What about God?

Our feeling of alienation with God is a result of our choices.  We walk away, whether we intend to or not.  In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve had the perfect setup!  They had the perfect environment, perfect relationship with God, and the perfect marriage.  What happened next blew the whole deal!  Like us, Eve knew the truth but settled for an alteration of the truth.  She knew if she ate the fruit she would die because God said so.  Satan did not really argue this point other than to suggest a different version and timing of death.  She doubted and fell for the deception.  The choice made by Eve and Adam caused a series of quick events to occur.

Emotional Alienation – the shame and guilt overwhelmed them.  They had been naked for who knows how long without any sense of wrong.  Once sin entered the equation, emotions changed.  Shame and guilt can cause us to do much more than we intended.

Spiritual Alienation – we find them hiding from God.  We hide in our family schedule.  We hide in our work.  We hide behind activities.  We hide behind self-righteousness.  We hide at church.  We hide because we do not want to face the truth.

Social Alienation – Once the discussion started the blame game ensued.  Adam confessed to his action but blamed Eve whom God had provided. Eve confessed to her decision but blamed the snake whom God had made.  I am sure there was some discussion at home later that night!

Physical Alienation – The snake would be hated.  Eve would have pain in childbirth.  Adam would work hard for little return.  Sin creates problems for us: ulcers, instabilities, breakdowns, stress, anxiety, and more.

Is there any hope?

When our innocence is lost, Jesus will give you His by faith and grace.  When our relationship with God is strained, Jesus will be our advocate.  When our relationships with each other break down Jesus gives us strength to carry on.  When our lives and bodies fail Jesus gives us new one as we enter glory by faith in Him.  My hope is centered in Jesus Christ.  The future ruler is not capitalism, culturism, or communism.  The future ruler is Christ.  Comfort one another with these words.  What a day that will be when we stand with Him in eternity!

Are you ready?  Or are you on the outside looking in?  Jesus opens the door and invites you to enter in to His home of peace and rest.  Move from looking in to sitting with God today!

Live Forgiven

In Chrisian Life, Faith, Journey on September 4, 2013 at 9:24 am

goldfish jumping out of the water

 

“I just want to be free!”

I heard this every Thursday for 3 years. In one form or another, the clients I counseled wanted their addiction to be kicked out and recovery kicked up a notch. As they approached the time to re-enter society, I would ask them about their plans. I could almost always guess the ones who would succeed and those who would not. It is so easy to get side-tracked. Whether you are in outpatient care or inpatient care life offers us a plethora of distractions. For many, the reason behind their addiction was not what they proposed. The reason for any addiction is following a path that seems right to you.

 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.  Proverbs 16:25

It is critical that an understanding of terms be reached before continuing. Having a bad habit is just a nice way to say you have an addiction. Your habit may not be illegal, but it can threaten your family, your finances, and ultimately your future. We, especially in the Christian community, like to minimize our sin and maximize others sin. We have bad habit. They have addictions. Let’s be clear, anything that is distracts you from your relationship with God is a sin.

“How do I break free?” This question has arisen many times and you may be asking it as well. Satan grips our mind with fear and our hearts with guilt and shame. In order to break free of your habit/addiction/sin, we must embrace the forgiveness of God as a reality, not rationale. Living forgiven is not a series of convincing statements that we chant every day. Living forgiven is about having faith in the sinlessness of Christ and the statement of the cross and empty tomb. Please do not misunderstand, becoming a follower of Christ does not automatically release the grip of Satan. What this decision of salvation does is provide the power and opportunity for those chains to be broken and for you to walk out of your prison. God provides the power. God provides the pathway. God provides. Yet, you have to get up and walk.

Jesus asked the man at the pool if he wanted to get well. The man began giving excuses of why he could not. Jesus looked at him and said to get up and walk. In that moment, he was completely healed. His legs had strength. His arms had strength. However, until he chose to get up and walk he would lie on that mat. In Christ, you have been healed of your issues. But to walk free is your choice to make. The sad reality is people refuse to believe in the power of Christ and remain in the grips of Satan through fear, shame, and guilt. God has wiped all of that away. When will you walk?

As you prepare to get up and walk here are a few things to help steady your feet.

 1. Avoid your triggers. What is it that makes you consider engaging your habit? Is it certain places? Is it certain smells? Is it certain people? Is it certain situations? In order to walk in forgiveness, these must be avoided. For those who believe they can handle it, you can’t. Avoid the triggers. Change your job. Change your routine. Change your sleep schedule. Change begins with you engaging the power of God provided through Jesus Christ.

2. Make new friends. I have heard it said that you are the average of your 5 closest friends. With that being said, develop new friendships that drive you closer to Christ. Releasing an old set of friends affords you the opportunity for personal growth and more probable success in this endeavor.

3. Realize your limitations. Believing you can handle your habits/sins/addictions is the first step to failure. If you could have handled it on your own you wouldn’t be in this mess now. Coming before God and agreeing on your dependency to Him is vital. Our strength is limited but God’s is limitless. We fail but God never does. We sin but God never has. Why not embrace God? Pride arrives and then a fall.

Living forgiven is not about being flippant about your past. It is about embracing the offer of God in Christ and engaging the power of the Holy Spirit. The probability of sin remains high as long as we are in this life but it does not have to be the habit you had yesterday. Live free. Live forgiven.

Squeeze Play

In Community, Life and Culture on August 28, 2013 at 9:55 am

squeezeplay

In baseball, the squeeze play is a maneuver consisting of a sacrifice bunt with a runner on third base. The batter bunts the ball, expecting to be thrown out at first base, but providing the runner on third base an opportunity to score. The larger picture is that the team wants to score a run. If the batter is concerned only for himself then this will fail. If the batter is more concerned about the larger perspective then the chance of success rises dramatically.  When there is a problem between you and another person we have the choice of looking at ourselves and continue the anger/hatred/feud or looking at the larger picture of God’s view and try to solve the problem. Proper management of conflict is not the current political perspective of damage control. The biblical perspective is to win back a relationship not ruin it through damage control and reputation repair. Jesus taught that a correct relationship with others comes before correct ritual and religion.  He also spoke on the process of managing conflict .

How does that work in our culture? When the rumors fly on Facebook and the hatred spews in 140 characters, how can we handle the issues that arise between us? When others politic behind the scenes how can we maintain the mind of Christ?

Discovery

  • Ask God if it is real or personal – sometimes we get our feelings hurt over insignificant matters of pride and ego.  Check your feelings in with God to see if this is an issue worth pursuing or just your bad mood taking over.
  • Ask God to fill you with His love and desire to redeem.  Our love is limited while God’s is not.  Our desire is selfish but God is selfless.  Asking for help from God is a no-brainer.
  • Ask the person to clarify the actual issue privately.  Before you go to Facebook and Twitter with this issue, go to the person one-on-one.  Keeping it private reduces the players involved in this drama.

Discuss

  • Love that person – we must see them as a creation of God. Though twisted up by sin, as we are too, God loves them. We must enter this discussion with God’s love coming through us.
  • Listen to that person – while there are many ways to listen (ignore, selective, anticipatory), the best way is to engage your heart and mind in what they are saying. Do not think ahead or get defensive. Listen to them.
  • Learn from that person – it is possible you will learn something here. You might learn about their triggers. You might unearth one of your faults. Be open to learning from this conversation.

Decision

  • Be forgiving and/or forgivable.  Depending on the situation, you might need to act in such a way t hat someone would forgive you for your wrong.  Jesus wants us to take initiative both ways – hurt or hurtful.
  • Be merciful.  Treat them as you would want to be treated.
  • Be creative.  Searching for a solution that allows both parties to walk away with a win is important.  The runner gets the score, but the batter gets a statistic also as of 1954.

God wants right relationships.  He wants one with you.  He wants you to be right with others.  You’re up to bat.  Will you go for the glory or for the good of the team?

Forgive-Them-Nots

In Forgiveness on November 8, 2012 at 11:34 pm

 


Do you remember doing this?  If you’re a girl, you probably do. I don’t know of a single guy to ever do this, but I am sure someone did!  If you recall, pull each petal and chant either “He loves me” or “He loves me not” like some New Orleans French Quarter Fortune Teller.  The fate of the relationship rested on the last petal.  Does he love me or not?  I have often wanted to do this with forgiveness.  I have wanted to go pick a daisy and begin pulling its petals out saying either “Forgive them” or “Forgive them …. NOT!”  (That was so an 80’s reference!)  This concept of forgiveness has received a bad wrap over the years.  We have such quirky thoughts when it comes to forgiveness that we have become paralyzed with fear that if we forgive we have somehow publicly condoned whatever it was the person did to us.

I wonder if Peter had a daisy in his hand when he asked Jesus this?  I bet he did!

There is something inside of us that screams “Injustice!” when it comes to forgiveness.  Our anger, bitterness, and hurt cannot fathom forgiveness as an option.  Yet, Jesus tells us to put down our daisies and listen to this story.

What do we do about forgiveness?  Let’s begin with what forgiveness is not:

1.  Forgiveness is not saying the action was acceptable.  Often we believe that forgiveness means we are condoning an action or behavior.  Forgiveness does not mean we accept something wrong as right.

2.  Forgiveness does not erase all the pain.  Our pain is so deep at times that forgiveness seems unattainable.  How is forgiveness going to help me?  Forgiveness is not to be misunderstood as forgetfulness.  While forgiveness begins a healing process, it does not erase immediately.

3.  Forgiveness is not removing guilt.  If someone has harmed you, they are guilty of that wrong.  To forgive does not remove them of the guilt or potential consequences of their behavior.

Now let’s look at what forgiveness really is:

1.  Forgiveness is a choice.  It is not an emotion.  It is not a feeling.  Forgiveness is a choice of our  mind and will.

2. Forgiveness is a response to what Jesus has done for us.

3.  Forgiveness is being more concerned with the future than the past.  Forgiveness releases you from being controlled by an event or person.  As long as you harbor ill-will or anger it only hurts you.  How does holding on to that emotion hurt the person?  They go on living.  You go on dying.  Forgiveness releases the grip of death and allows you to be free to live.

I forgive not because it is easy.  I forgive because I have been forgiven.  God forgave me of my sin at the cross of Jesus.  I was released of my guilt at the moment of my faith.  I have been set free.  How incredulous would it be of me to hoard forgiveness?  That which cost God so much to give me must be paid forward to those who have harmed me. Forgiveness is hard.  It is exhausting.  It is releasing.  Forgiveness is holy.

I forgive because I was forgiven first.  I love because I was loved first.

Church Bullies

In Anger, Church, Control, Decisions, Leadership, Politics, SBC, Trust, Uncategorized on October 18, 2012 at 2:10 pm

A good friend of mine was verbally blindsided.  While in a denominational meeting, what was a mild discussion turned into something more.  Seemingly out of nowhere, an individual rose up and spewed ridiculous expressions in front of a group of people.  While we all sat stunned, he kindly replied with class and strength.  This event is not unusual in church and denominational life.  I have witnessed many types of people who are out for power, or blood, whichever can propel them into the limelight and feed the need for influence. Bullies all seem to want the same thing: power.  They either have a deep troubling need of their own or they are trying to overcome a desire to fit in.

When it comes to church life things don’t change because people are just people.  The problem is that we are to be changed by Jesus Christ.  We are to be new creatures, but instead, some things do not change.  Why people bully is simple.  How they bully is more complex.  Here is a list of several types of church bullies.

1. The Elephant – this one just blows through everyone with strength and noise without really recognizing they are doing it.  This type is obvious to most of us because it is the most public.  The Elephant rumbles through meetings with volume and bravado.  He will over-talk and out-talk the victim making them feel belittled and useless.  People get trampled and wasted.  While this person will come right at those who offend, there is no love or respect in their actions.

2. The Puppet-Master – this one goes behind the scenes gathering up people and makes a power play.  The puppet-master is opposite the Elephant.  Instead of going straight at their offender, he controls those around.  The Puppet-Master strings up person after person with the lies or gossip they want others to believe.  When they feel like they have enough people on their side, they will make a move.  Controlling the action from the background allows them to seem to be innocent when they are bullying everyone from their minions to the target.

3. The IED – this blows up unexpectedly harming all who are around.  This one hides in the sand just underneath the surface waiting for the target to walk across them.  When the mark does just the right thing the IED blows up.  This bully is that person everyone tells you to avoid and history speaks for itself.  Don’t talk to her in the morning until after their coffee.  Don’t bring up this or that topic.  If you find yourself dodging certain people you might be a victim!

4. The Stealth Bomber is a combination of the Puppet-Master and the IED with tech savvy.  She flies under the radar until the bomb is dropped, there is much work done while in stealth mode.  Through texts, emails, and pm’s she will gather all the information needed to make a sneak attack.  One model might cloak with smiles and handshakes while secretly stabbing you in the back.  Another stays cloaked, whispering in the dark hallways.

5. The Hijacker is a new addition to the church bully hall of fame.  This bully uses emotion to control the flow of information and decision-making. Usually, this person will use tears and a cracking voice while grabbing for the tissues.  While blowing their nose and drying their eyes they express their position in a long and drawn out way to acquire the approval of everyone around.  To bully others into supporting a position is something most people cannot handle.  So, they go along to keep the peace and ease the false tension in the atmosphere prepared by the Hijacker.  You need to be aware of this type because it is on the rise.

6. The Air Horn uses short blasts of language to stifle any debate or discussion.  She uses spiritual, church lingo to stop all arguments and debates.  For example, the church might need to discuss an important topic but gets stopped with a spiritual platitude.  The Air Horn will say things like “You just gotta have faith” as if you don’t.  Another phrase might be “You just have to trust God” as if you don’t.  This bully uses spiritual phrases that make you feel less of a Christian simply because you use logic and reason.

The point is that bullies are not Biblical regardless of their intent or speech.  Jesus made it clear how we are to handle things if someone offends us.  You go to that person in love and discuss rationally the issue at hand.  If there is no resolution and it is a serious spiritual matter then take a couple of people with you to discuss the matter.  There is only One who is to have power in the church and He is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  We, in this day, have been given the Spirit as a Comforter, Guide, and Counselor.  May we not walk away from Scripture or the Spirit just to get a power fix.

Stop the bullying.  Exchange it for love and respect which is commanded by God.

The “F” Word

In Anger, Cleansing, Commitment, Exodus on February 13, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Sometimes it just can’t be helped.  Usually it doesn’t just slip out.  However, in the heat of the moment it is the only real option.  The “F” word sometimes NEEDS to be used.  Of course, I don’t think it should be just thrown around.  It should be used tastefully and with purpose.  I am trying to teach my children how to use the word in the right moments.  You can’t just drop that bomb in any conversation.  It takes a certain diplomacy to use it just right.  I hear it all the time, but I am not sure we all are working on the same definition.  In fact, I think many people misunderstand the purpose and meaning of the “F” word.

7 I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.t
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty.
I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;
the entire family is affected—
even children in the third and fourth generations.”

Exodus 34:7

Forgiveness is critical to a society that functions properly.  However, so many people refuse to forgive because of a misunderstanding of its meaning and purpose.  Here is what forgiveness is not:
1. It is not a release from responsibility.  Just because you forgive does not mean that person is no longer liable for the actions or words which damaged you or the relationship.
2. It is not an immediate end to the pain.  Forgiveness does not rid ourselves of the pain we might feel.  Forgiveness cannot bring back the child lost in the accident.  Forgiveness cannot remove the haunting memories of the battles, bruises, and scars.
3.  It is not giving in.  The perceived power I feel that I have over someone is just that…perceived.  I am not giving in to the person, or group.  What is happening is that I am actually taking back a personal power.

Forgiveness is…
1. Being interested in moving forward more than staying in the past.
2. Giving back to God the right to dispense justice.
3. A process, not a one-time event.

We must learn how to forgive.  It is an art, not always a science.  I choose to forgive. I choose to give back to God the right to dispense justice as He sees fit.  I choose to let go of the event and move forward.

I forgive you is powerful.  Be powerful today.

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