Saturday, January 22, 2011

Forgive and Forget?

So much has happened this week. Been really interesting really. Lots of moments that made me pause and ask God "Did you see/hear that?" It's been a really GOOD week.

I heard something on the radio earlier in the week that stuck with me. The DJs were talking about things people had posted to their FB page. One lady asked how she was supposed to forgive and forget. Said she had the forgive part, but could not understand how she was supposed to forget.
One of the DJs gave the following analogy....

I have a large scar on my arm. It was a terrible cut. I remember the cut. I remember how I got it and I remember how much it hurt at the time. BUT (you could hear her slap her arm) even though I can SEE the scar and it reminds me of the cut, the SCAR does not hurt. When you forgive someone, it no longer causes you pain.


I can totally see that! There have been times when I have WANTED to forgive someone for something, knew i SHOULD forgive them, but every time something reminded me of the person or just hurt (anger hurts too). At that point I knew I had not forgiven, but was at a loss as to what to do to make myself "forgive and forget". The forget part seems to be the problem.

So, I did a little research.....

I can find lots of scripture that tells me to FORGIVE....

"Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven."
Matthew 18:21-22 ESV

"“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;"
Luke 6:37 ESV

"For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,"
Matthew 6:14 ESV

"Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive."
Colossians 3:13 ESV

"And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”"
Mark 11:25 ESV

"Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”"
Luke 17:3-4 ESV

"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
Ephesians 4:32 ESV

And I found scripture about GOD not remembering my sins....

Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more. Hebrews 10:17

I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. Isaiah 43:25

For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more Hebrews 8:12

Well....I'm not God and I can't find scripture that tells me to forget that someone wronged me. God's word just tells me to forgive them...all of them...for everything that they have done.

Forgiveness is a choice of will. I have to CHOOSE to forgive someone. It does not happen naturally. I wonder if this whole "Forgive and Forget" thing is a tool of the Devil. Hear me out... If I believe that I have to FORGET something in order to have forgiven the person who did that something...well, that messes everything up because I cannot give myself amnesia. I cannot FORCE myself to forget. I don't have a delete button or backspace key. It is in the very nature of my brain to remember things. The whole focus on forgetting also takes the focus off of the forgiving.

Would it not be SOOO much easier to "forgive" someone if you forgot what they did in the first place? Would it not be SOO much easier to just hit the delete button and REALLY not even know that someone had just ripped your heart to shreds? IF we could forget, there would be no need for forgiveness.

So maybe then I MUST remember in order to truly forgive. Maybe the blessing of forgiveness is actually in the fact that I do remember. Go back to the story the DJ told that I mentioned in the beginning of this...

"The scar does not cause me any pain"

She did not forget how the scar got there, did not forget the pain of the injury, did not pretend like it wasn't there. It left a mark on her. Changed her. Hopefully taught her something. BUT THE SCAR DOESN'T HURT. The wound has healed.

I have been on the receiving end of true forgiveness and I have decided that there is possibly no sweeter gift than this. And it is truly a gift. Totally in the control of the giver. I think that maybe there is greater power in forgiveness than there is in punishing someone by holding a grudge. Grudge holding is totally natural, expected, normal. Forgiveness is God-breathed, Biblical, and holy....

I found a quote that said "Forgiveness is giving up my right to hold a grudge".

I like that.

I also found something that said that forgiveness is treating the person as though they had done no wrong.

I like that too.....

Much better than "Forgive and forget".

Perhaps a better phrase would be "I remember and I choose to forgive you anyway"

Just a thought.
Have a great weekend!

Friday, January 14, 2011

To know You

Philippians 3:8-11 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

So, I think I have a firm grasp on verses 8 and 9.

Verse 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ
First of all, I want to know Christ so intimately that every other thing in my life is like garbage in comparison. Like with kids...I LOVE my friends’ kids. They are great....but even though I love them dearly, the love I have for them is nothing compared to the love I have for my own kids. Or better yet, I remember one particular fella that I was “in love” with when I was younger. That “love”, as real and as valuable as it was to me THEN, is like garbage now that I know the love of my husband.

Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, must be like garbage to me compared to what Jesus Christ is to me.

My relationship with my Lord should be so amazing that everything else, no matter how wonderful, pales in comparison.

Oh! I soooo want that!!!!!!

Verse 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
Hmmmmm.....this moves on from the last verse. The “and” is the key. Consider everything as garbage compared to my relationship with Jesus so that I can be found in Him. How am I found in Him? Be so connected to Him that everything else is like garbage in comparison.
I have some amazingly wonderful relationships in my life. How over the top amazing would it be for my relationship with Jesus to surpass them to such a degree that these relationships seem as garbage?!?!? And is this same thing...this amazing relationship with Christ that makes everything else seem like garbage...also what helps me understand and grasp hold of the faith that leads to righteousness? (Not righteousness through my works, but true righteousness that comes from God)

SO it is really not so difficult after least not this part of the scripture.
Strive to love Jesus to the point that everything else is as in comparison, no matter how great it is.
I guess the bottom line is, and I can totally see this in my own life, that Paul is saying to just get over all the earthly stuff and not be focused on all the “stuff” I do here. Focus rather on my relationship with Christ, on knowing Him more and more deeply.

Now, how to develop that kind of relationship with know Him that way.....

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

One thing I read about Philippians 3:10-11 said that Paul is simply saying that he wants spiritual intimacy with Christ. Paul knows Christ, but wants to know Him more. The writer goes on to say:
“To achieve this requires a clear vision of where one wants his life to go; dogged, disciplined determination to work toward that end; rigid concentration to avoid becoming distracted; and an unflagging willingness to pay whatever price might be required.”
At first I thought “Uh-oh....this guy is trying to stick ‘works’ in on me” but I don’t think so. It does take focused determination to truly know someone. You DO have to avoid distraction. If you really want it, you DO have to be willing to pay any price required. Okay, so maybe that helped a little.

All the commentaries I found seem to focus on the previous verses about earthly fame being rubbish next to knowing Christ or on the verses 12 and following that speak to pressing forward toward heaven. Of course I WOULD get hung up on the verses that don’t seem to matter much to anyone else! Ha ha ha

I also read somewhere today that Paul is talking about not being able to REALLY know Christ in his (Paul’s) own “righteousness”, but through the righteousness that is from God and that it IS the power of Christ’s resurrection that Paul is seeking and not that Paul is still seeking resurrection.

So, what is the power of Christ’s resurrection?
What I think of as Salvation, of course. Forgiveness of sin. Eternity in Heaven with God Almighty. Being known as a daughter of the Most High. The power of Christ’s resurrection is what I base my whole life on!

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

That leaves the following questions.....
How do I participate in His suffering?
If I know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, then will I become like Him in death? (Which brings me back to “What was He like in death?”)
And I cannot even wrap my brain around “and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” this afternoon.
Maybe I can find answers tonight or tomorrow.

Father God,
You are so holy. Your power is more than I can grasp. So is your love. I know that there is no way for me to fully understand how much you love me. I love you Lord and I want to grow to the point where I can HONESTLY say that I want to know you more than I want anything else. I still hesitate Lord. I am afraid of what you will require of me. I am still afraid that you will not give me what I want. I’m sorry. I know that this is foolish. I know that what you give me is truly what I need and I know that your plans are not mine and your ways are not mine and that I can;t possibly see the big picture of what you are doing. I do know that what you require is always best. I know that as I grow, my desires change and line up with Your plan for my life. I just don’t think I like these growing pains much...but I know I don’t like this aching in my heart either....and I know that I am aching for a deeper relationship with you.
Thank you for revealing to me that I do understand more than I thought I did about Paul’s thoughts in these verses. Thank you for filling in some of the gaps. I trust that you will open my eyes to more truth as I am ready to understand it. I realize that right now I need to rest on putting you and my relationship with you above all else.
Lord, I do know one thing that still has a crippling hold on me. I do want my voice to be like it was before it got all messed up. I know that I want that more than I want anything and I know that is wrong. I am so very thankful that you healed me and that the only residual I have from all the surgeries and the cancer is a hoarse voice. I
am truly grateful. I do see how blessed I am. But Lord, if you healed me from all that, can’t you restore my voice as well? If you will restore it, I will serve you with it. I will.
To everything there is a season and this is my season to....what? get over myself and be obedient? I do trust you Lord. I do. Help me to let go of wanting to sing. I don’t even want to sing in front of anyone...I just want to be able to sing in the car....and maybe in the choir. I do trust you and I know that if I don’t have my voice back, there is a reason. I know that you can use me even if you never restore my voice. I understand that your plan may not include me ever having a pleasant voice again and I also know that I don’t have to understand why. Please help me Lord. Help me to seek more of you so that having my voice back seems like garbage compared to just knowing you.
That’s where I want to be.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I want to know Christ

I wrote before about asking God to do something IN me rather than asking Him to do something THROUGH me. I guess that's what this is all about, God working IN me. To be honest, I am more comfortable looking for what God needs to do in others. Maybe I am not the only one like that. A sweet friend and fellow minister's wife said that those of us in ministry have a tendency to see everyone else's speck. (If she wasn't in ministry herself, that would have hurt my feelings much worse- ha ha)

Several things have been bouncing around in my head the past few days. In Calvin's sermon, he commented on our tendency to begin our statements about what God is doing with the pronoun "I". Hmmmmm. I see that. When asked "How are things going?" or "What's been going on?", I am eager to tell all about the Ladies ministry at Pearson and all about what is going on at Pearson....but I am afraid that most of my sentences DO indeed begin with "I"...or we....or Calvin. (That's my super great preacher/husband for those that don't know).....I am afraid that I start far too few sentences with "God". I guess I can start now...

God is working on me. He has challenged me to the core and I don't suspect that He will be done with me anytime soon. He has humbled me and made me take an honest look at my reasons for doing all sorts of things. God is leading me into a deeper relationship with Him. To be honest, it is a little frightening, but I know that God is trustworthy and that everything He commands is ultimately good....and He is teaching me to trust Him more.

Another thing bouncing around in my brain today is what God told Cain in Genesis 4: Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Right after that conversation, Cain murdered his brother...really??? Cain was ticked because God showed favor to Able when Able presented his offering, but not to Cain when Cain gave God his offering. He killed his brother because he (Cain) didn't do right! That's just crazy!

Or is it?

I've never killed anyone, but I have sure resented people whose offering seemed better than mine! God asked Cain and Able to give to Him first and give Him their best. If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? Is this much different than God saying "Just do what I tell you to and you will have my favor"? Doesn't matter what anyone else does. Doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. Just do what I have called you to do.

And what about the warning...sin crouches at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. Soooo, I CAN rule over this sin...this pride. It IS possible...but I have to do what is right. In the story of Cain and Able, God was talking about offering their BEST to HIM. How many months have not done ANYTHING because I didn't possess the gift I wanted to offer? Specifically, I do not have my voice back. "I can't teach, I can't sing, so I'm not doin nuthin!" Hmmmmm...I have on more than one occasion even resented those who can teach and those who can sing. Am I so unlike Cain? We both resented someone because they were using their gift well...while we did not use our gifts at all.

wow...Me and Cain....Who'da thought it? Not exactly something I expected to discover.

Thank you Lord for shining light on my sin. Please forgive me for not using the gifts You have given me and forgive me for being jealous and resentful of other people's gifts. Help me to use the gifts YOU have given me to bring YOU glory. Help me focus on what YOU want ME to do rather than on what others are or are not doing. Help me grow in the areas You have set in place for me to minister and serve.

The final thing taking up space in my brain this week is the Scripture Calvin used in his sermon Sunday. It's found in Philippians 3...
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. This is where I got my New Year Resolution from. I may be stuck here for a while. There is a lot of stuff before and after these particular verses that I'll have to take into consideration as well. Before these verses, Paul is talking about how all his earthly "fame" is no more than garbage, and after these verses is when he talks about pressing on toward the goal.
The questions currently bouncing around in my brain are things like:
Does Paul want to know what it is like to be resurrected and to participate in Christ's sufferings, or does he want to know the power of these things?
How does Paul suggest to become like Jesus in death? Does he want to be crucified? What was Jesus like in death? What aspect of that can a human "become like"?
If Paul knew that we are promised eternity in heaven, then why does he want to attain the resurrection from the dead? Is he really referring to "dead" as I think of "dead" or is he referring to spiritual death? And if he knew Christ already as Savior, why would he need to attain resurrection from the dead? What am I missing???
If he is referring to spiritual death here, then could he possibly have been focusing on what Christ was LIKE in His death rather than Christ's death earlier in the passage?
These are the things that go round and round (and round and round) in my head.

Lord, help me understand what Paul was talking about. How do I know? I mean, I know that there are commentaries out there to tell me what all these things mean, but they are written by people. How do I know Lord? How do I know what Paul meant? I want to know you and I want to understand what Paul was pressing toward, what he wanted to know, what he was missing, what he was looking for that made him pen these words. Lord, he knew you. He continues to lead people to you even today through the letters he wrote. Did he realize that there was more? Did he feel a longing in his heart for more of you? And if so, would he satisfy that longing in knowing the power of Your resurrection and participation in Your sufferings, becoming like You in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead? And what dead was he seeking resurrection from?
Lord, I am seeking.....

That's all I've got. I'll do some research and see what answers I can find, then I'll be back.


Monday, January 10, 2011

New Years Resolution

I have struggled since just after Christmas to settle on a New Year's resolution.

Resolve to grow spiritually
Resolve to be a better wife
Resolve to be a better mom
Resolve to lose weight
Resolve to get organized
Resolve to keep my house clean
Resolve to cook dinner every night
Resolve to be on time
Resolve to be a better friend
Resolve to be a better steward of my money
Resolve to be more conscientious and caring
Resolve to listen more and talk less
Resolve to obey the speed limit
Resolve to keep the laundry caught up
Resolve to keep my temper
Resolve to NOT pass judgment
Resolve to see the best in people
Resolve not to assume I know what someone else is thinking (especially my husband)
Resolve to....

UGH! I need a complete and total life overhaul! This is so depressing! I am a MESS! It is overwhelming! So, I have not made a resolution yet....but have spent much time obsessing over my many, many, many shortcomings. These past few weeks have left me exhausted, discouraged, and depressed.

I know, and have known for a while, that what I REALLY need is a SPIRITUAL overhaul. Now, Satan would rather I not acknowledge this. Satan would rather I just wallow in my shortcomings. Satan would rather I just lay down and claim defeat. Satan would rather I just give up and call myself a failure.

I think I'll not let Satan have his way with me any longer. I think I am ready to get back in the battle.....maybe. No, I am...I think. No, I know i am. It is time. Actually, it is long past time, but I have been spending too much time feeling sorry for myself to realize that I walked away from the place God put me to fight. I am tired of feeling this way. I am tired of feeling like a failure and like I have no purpose. I am tired of feeling like the life has been sucked out of me. I am tired of feeling empty and numb.

I quit writing several months ago. What started as my personal thoughts and feelings about The Battle (Ephesians 6:12-13), became something I never intended for it to be. It naturally morphed into my journal while I was being treated for cancer. That was natural and I believe God guided my words through that. Once I was healed, something terrible happened. I began to write what I thought some reader might need to read. Not at first, and not always, but as time went on, I wrote less and less from my heart and more and more for.....what? Acknowledgment? Praise? Adoration? Some combination of all of the above? Something like that.

Writing for "someone" who might stumble across my blog took all of the enjoyment out of writing and replaced it with pressure.

I stopped writing about what I believe God is doing in my life and started writing about what I thought others needed to let God do in theirs.

I stopped writing about my struggles and started writing about struggles I saw in other people's lives.

It makes me sick really. I guess because I know me. I know my heart and I know that somewhere along the way my heart became all about me. I know that I took a gift that God gave me and tried to use it to bring myself glory. Thankfully, I only became a giant in my own mind. Pride is a terrible thing though, and I lost all the joy I once experienced as I poured my heart out at the keyboard because I became so worried about what "someone" might think of what I wrote. (sigh) I also know that at some point along the way I decided that I couldn't (wouldn't) be used by God unless He restored my voice.....but that is a post for another day.

So, here I am. Back at the keyboard. Humbled in ways I could not have imagined otherwise....and I have settled on a resolution.

It is found in Philippians 3:10-11.....

"I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead."

I want to know Christ.

So, for the next....however long....I'll share this journey. I don't know what this road will bring, but I do know 3 things:

1-this is the road I am absolutely supposed to be traveling right now.
2- the One who knew me even in my mother's womb will be with me every step of the way
3- even though this is between me and Christ, I am supposed to share this journey with you.