Guest Post – Forgiveness, Repentance & Reconciliation

colossians 3:13, bible, colossians

Please note: The views & opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of LifeWay Christian Resources.

What do you do when you have done something to violate your own values? How do you forgive yourself and reconcile what you have done with who you are?

Forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation are like cousins; they are related, but function independently of each other. You can have any one, two or all three.

The first cousin is forgiveness. It is entirely up to you if you forgive or not. The offender’s repentance can make forgiveness easier, but is not necessary. Forgiveness happens inside of you.

The second cousin is repentance. This is the job of the offender. Repent comes from ‘metanoeo’ which means ‘to think differently or reconsider’. There is also an emotional component (2 Corinthians 7:10). Focusing on repentance should be primary. Forgiveness will be much easier if you acknowledge your own guilt, shame and remorse. Knowing and accepting your vulnerability will enable you to protect against re-occurrence.

The third cousin is reconciliation (Matthew 5:23-24). Here reconciled comes form ‘diallasso’ which means ‘to change thoroughly’. It is also translated from ‘katallage’ (Romans 5:11), which means ‘restoration’, and ‘katallaso’ (2 Cor. 5:18) which means ‘to change mutually’. Reconciliation requires BOTH parties. Both have to want to continue the relationship, and do their parts. This is healthy reconciliation; it has both forgiveness AND repentance. The relationship has been mutually changed and restored.

But there’s still the other side. Unhealthy reconciliation is maintaining the relationship without forgiveness or repentance (Acts 7:26). Here reconcile comes from ‘synelavno’ which means to ‘drive together’. We do that sometimes – drive a relationship together when there is no repentance.

The other possible response to repeat offenders is to end the relationship, to not have reconciliation (Matthew 18; Romans 12:18)When you have followed the prescribed course, and the other person refuses to make any changes, it might be time to end the relationship. God is able to bring good from the hurt of a broken relationship (Acts 15: 36-41; Romans 8:28). No one else can decide for you to continue or end the relationship, and no one else has the right to judge your decision. This is between you and God.

It is also possible to have forgiveness and repentance without reconciliation. Each does their part; forgiving and repenting. However, one or both decide to not continue the relationship. If ending is the decision, forgiveness and repentance are important to have healthy relationships with others. If you don’t forgive or repent, you’ll carry that hurt into other relationships, and recreate the same destructive dynamics.

So how do you respond in a healthy way to the lack or repentance? Forgive and set strong boundaries (Luke 17:3-4). If you can forgive, and the other person is earnestly trying to repent, you can choose to continue the relationship. To do this, you must be very clear and consistent in identifying and not accepting the hurtful behavior. If you cannot set that boundary, you would be fostering the sin you both have.

Confession IS good for the soul (James 5:16). Confessing to another is essential when you need to repent and forgive yourself. Avoidance comes with secrecy, perpetuating the shame and guilt. Confession illuminates reality, and establishes accountability. It does not have to be a public confession. Do be careful in selecting the hearer of your confession. The goal is healing, not condemnation. Choose someone whom you trust and respect, can keep your confidence, is humble and is full of God’s grace. The hearer of your confession does have the power, through the Holy Spirit, to proclaim God’s forgiveness to you (John 20:23).

How are you working to reconcile your relationships? Share with us!

bill syrcle, guest blog, counselingWilliam L. Syrcle is a therapist and coach at Synago, in MacombIllinois. He has a Master degree in clinical psychology, is a certified Professional Christian Counselor, is licensed by the State of Illinois, and been in private practice since 2002. He also specializes in business, executive and leadership coaching. Learn more about Synago here.

Guest Post – Walk It Out

romans 12:12, prayer, bible

Source: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/480759328944977375/

Please note: The views & opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of LifeWay Christian Resources.

God our Heavenly Father is truly the everlasting God, King above all, Lord forever. We can completely trust Him because He always stays true to His Word and never changes (James 1:17). We change. Sometimes we get tired of waiting for God and we start trying to work things out ourselves, only to end up getting in the way. We realize it when we see the struggles we cause for ourselves. Then we start wondering why God allowed us to fall into the hole we were so anxious to dig.

I remember times in my life when I felt as if God left me to figure things out on my own, or He wasn’t listening when I prayed. Nothing I would try was the answer, and it seemed as if God was watching me run aimlessly in circles. Then after I had exhausted all my options, I was finally ready to pay attention. That’s when I realized that God actually has everything under control.

Before this realization, I would usually try to determine when and how I believed my situations should be resolved. Yet, all I was actually doing was getting stressed over my plans instead of walking out God’s plan in faith (Jeremiah 29:11). My plans were merely distractions that kept me occupied until I was ready to move forward with God leading the way. It took a while, but I finally learned that God really knows what He is doing. He doesn’t need my input, advice, or permission.

God wants us to successfully complete the journey that He has set before us. That’s why He so graciously provides everything that we need and even some of the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4). If ever we feel discouraged and wonder why God seems so distant, all we have to do is trust Him enough to walk out His plan with confidence in knowing that He is with us every step of the way.

Let’s be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12).

Revised blogs from Blessings in Blogs: Living Effectively by Genia M. Owens, originally published by Trafford Publishing. © Copyright 2012, www.trafford.com

Genia Owens, author, blog

Genia Owens is an e-book Developer at WORDsearch who loves to inspire others through writing. She also enjoys watching a good movie with popcorn, spending time with family and friends, and going on outings with her husband to take photos for their online photography art business – GREO Galleries Unlimited (http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/greo-galleries-unlimited.html).

Guest Post – You Made God’s List

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Please note: The views & opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of LifeWay Christian Resources.

Remember back when we were in the 4th or 5th grade and out on the playground we would divide up in teams for a ball game? That had to be some of the most frustrating moments of childhood. Nervous thoughts of “Will I be picked?” Or remember when the list was posted for those making the team following tryouts? We stood a slight distance away, just close enough to see if our name was there, but not too close to be faced with complete rejection by our names absence.

Making the list. Go ahead admit it, we all want to be wanted, picked, and deemed valuable. We all have areas of  life that we fall short, lack skill, or just can’t seem to get it right. In these, we begin to see ourselves as less valuable than others. Perhaps we even become resentful of those who do seem to have it all together. Does envy, jealously, bitterness, or even hatred sound familiar?

Ever notice that we may take these perspectives, or may I say insecurities, into our relationship with God? I know I do! Often, we find our head bowed not necessarily in reverence, but out of frustration, and we continue listing all our shortcomings, these becoming our excuses, and, before we know it, we are telling God that He shouldn’t want us.

Instead Beloved, we should consider the “list” that God has compiled. The list of biblical proportion. These folks did stupid things, made BIG mistakes, were not of the flashy type; some were too small, too old, too ugly, too worrisome.

Eve listened to the devil * Rahab was a prostitute *Adam shifted blame*Jeremiah and Timothy were too young *Noah was a drunk *David had an affair and was a murderer *Abraham was too old *Elijah was suicidal *Isaac was a daydreamer *Isaiah preached naked *Jacob was a liar *Jonah ran from God *Leah was ugly *Naomi was a widow *Joseph was abused *Job went bankrupt *Moses stuttered *John the Baptist ate bugs *Aaron watched the idol making *Peter denied Christ *Gideon was afraid *The disciples fell asleep while praying *Sampson had long hair and was a womanizer *Martha worried about everything *The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once *Zaccheus was too small *Paul was too religious *Lazarus was dead!

However, God used ALL of these people! They were part of His plan. They ALL had weaknesses of some sort. Do YOU find yourself among this list? Do you worry, then beat yourself up for lack of faith? Do you fall asleep when you pray, then believe the lie you don’t love God enough?

Have you been divorced, afraid, abused, widowed, bankrupted, drunk? God is God. He compiles the list! You made the list, the list of redeemed mankind. God moved in and through these people’s lives. Do we think of Moses as a stutterer? Do we think of Gideon afraid? What first comes to mind when we think of Peter? A great leader of the church, not Peter the denier! God is the Redeemer, of our soul, life, and yes, mistakes, failures, and shortcomings.

I so admire King David’s longing, through all the junk of his life. He says in the Psalms, “Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You.” He continues with, “Show me… rescue me… teach me… lead me” (Ps. 143).  May we all look forward to the dawn of each new day, trusting in God, allowing Him to show us, rescue us, teach us, and lead us.

YOU my friends are sons & daughters of the Most High God! YOU are valuable! YOU are loved! YOU made the list! HIS list!

Pic of DeDe MoravikDeDe Moravik, soon-to-be Southwick, is the mother of two wonderful sons and lives outside of Portland, Oregon. She has a degree on Theology, leads women’s bible studies, and has served on the leadership team of her local church. She loves studying God’s Word, gardening, and making her sons laugh. You can read her blog here.

Guest Post – Today is the Day

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Please note: The views & opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of LifeWay Christian Resources.

An event took place this past month that stirred nostalgia for many people. The big roller skate, used as a sign at the rollercade across the street from our building, was taken down. The rollercade has sat empty for years now, and hasn’t been used for its intended purpose in years. The skate, however, will be restored to once more run at car shows and parades. The parking lot was packed with work vehicles and cars, and many were on hand to see it removed and taken away. The rollercade is currently being remodeled to serve as a warehouse.

It was nostalgic to watch all this, as these things represent an era that has passed, a time in people’s lives that now exists only in their memories, no longer in reality. I’m sure for those people there to witness the event, they remembered seeing that huge skate being driven in parades in times past. They could recall skating in the rollercade, or taking their children/grandchildren there to skate. They might also feel sad over how this change represents changes in general, that the world they were familiar with is no more, and that so much has changed, they feel abandoned in the world where they now live today.

This experience is something common to humanity no matter the time in which one lives. Even the children of Israel, during the time of wilderness wanderings, amazingly longed for the days they spent as slaves in Egypt. “The Israelites cried again and said, ‘Who will feed us meat? We remember the free fish we ate in Egypt, along with the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. But now our appetite is gone; there’s nothing to look at but this manna!’” (Numbers 11: 4-6) Reading their complaints you can hear the words, “Oh how we long for the good ol’ days!” Incredible as it seems, they preferred the past, where they served under harsh labor as slaves, to the present filled with the promise they now had. They had allowed their romanticizing the past to keep them from having a blessed present, and a wonderful future in the promised land.

Our past experiences help shape who we are, and can provide a strong foundation for present living. The past, however, is the past, where we can’t go back to live or recreate it today. It is an inappropriate place to spend the present. Paul emphasized the importance of living life where we are now when he wrote, “Besides this, knowing the time, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is nearly over, and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Rom. 13:11-12). He also said, “Working together with Him, we also appeal to you, ‘Don’t receive God’s grace in vain.’ For He says: I heard you in an acceptable time, and I helped you in the day of salvation. Look, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:1-2).

Many times the good ol’ days weren’t as good when being lived in than remembering has made them. Even if they were better days, they are gone. We can long for a better future, but that is yet to be. Our living must be in the present. Our value to our family, friends, and others is in how we conduct ourselves today. We are here at this point in time to live for God and know His blessings in doing so. How we spend today can be built upon the past, but will also determine what kind of future we have. Today is important! Are we taking advantage of our opportunities to live for Christ, to serve in His kingdom, and to be an example to others? Today is all we have, and we need to use it wisely, not knowing how many more todays will be available to us. Where do you live? “Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (Eph. 5:15-17).

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Robert Johnson is a minister in Longview, Texas, where he has been a preacher for over 40 years. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible and Biblical Languages, and a Masters is in Liberal Studies from
the University of Oklahoma. He loves sharing the gospel with others and ministering to people’s needs.

Minute for Missions – Hope in Ethiopia

Ethiopia 2014 049

Please note: The views & opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of LifeWay Christian Resources.

As we entered the one-room mud hut, the first thing we noticed was the absence of light. The one window was tightly shut and there was no lamp to illuminate the darkness. The second thing we noticed was the woman lying on a straw pallet quietly moaning in pain. As soon as we saw her, we stopped, bumping into one another, dumb in stupor. We’d come to visit her and the little boy, her son, who was playing outside. But, how do you visit the dying when you thought you were going to see the living? As we fumbled through the darkness, our translator took over, “I will ask her how we can pray for her. It is not appropriate to ask other questions at this time.”

This was one of our first visits to families supported by a partnership between Food for the Hungry, local Ethiopian congregations, and our home church in Austin, Texas. The AIDS pandemic has created a generation of orphans in the world’s second largest continent. In years past, grandparents and aunts & uncles would care for these children, but many of those potential caregivers have died as well. For those caregivers who remain, there are just too many children and not enough resources to care for them all. The result: children living alone, trying to act as grown-ups as they grow up. These young ones are incredibly vulnerable to malnutrition, disease, exploitation of the cruelest kind, and the fate of living in an unbroken state of extreme poverty. Our cross-Atlantic partnership tries to catch these little ones in a safety net of love, protection, and grace.

We’d traveled halfway around the world to visit these children and children who had parents still battling this ravaging disease. The woman lying on the floor answered our translator’s question by saying that she was worried about what would happen to her boy if she were to die. She was worried about how she could pay her $20 rent every month when she was too sick to work. She was worried…and she began to weep. By this time, the little boy had entered the room, and as his mother wept, he curled his little body up next to her feet and began to weep with her. After a quiet pause, we asked if we could pray over her. With her permission, we gently laid hands on her frail frame and began to pray. As we prayed, the darkness that seemed to be so overwhelming was inched out by the one true Light. He was there, before us, but it was prayer that opened our eyes to see Him.

John 1:5 says, “…the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” I don’t know what darkness the Lord has asked you to step into or what battles he has asked you to fight. You might be waging war for someone in your congregation stuck in sin, for a family member who’s fallen ill, or for the children orphaned by AIDS in Africa. There are times when the fight can seem overwhelming, crushing even. There are other times when you know that the Lord has called you to just a little more fight before a breakthrough is secured.

Whatever war you’re waging, can I encourage you to not give up? to not stop pressing into Him? to fall a thousand times, but get up again? And, if you have called it quits, can I tell you that it’s not too late to ask to be re-enlisted? He is still the God who gives flesh and breath to the dry bones of warriors long dead.

Ephesians 6 tells us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” And 1 John 4:4 reminds us that “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” Romans 16:20 tells us that “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” And, finally, after a long treatise on the victory Christ secured for us over death, Paul encourages us with these words from 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Kristina Vandiver works at WORDsearch. She loves the Lord,  her husband, her pets (especially her cat) and studying God’s Word. 

Weekly Devotional – Cultivating a Faithful Relationship

2timothyPlease note: The views & opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of LifeWay Christian Resources.

No matter where you are in your walk with the Lord, it’s always good to go back to what some might call the basics.

Pick up the Holy Bible, no matter how you are feeling at the moment. Before reading it, pray for guidance, understanding and wisdom. If you don’t already have a personal Bible study plan, open the Bible and turn to the page wherever the Holy Spirit leads you. You can’t go wrong because “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).

Read what the Lord has led you to read. When you have finished, pray, thanking God for His Words of encouragement and ask Him to help you retain what you have read. Soon you will realize that reading the Word of God is like verbally speaking with our Heavenly Father, one to One, in a place far away from the distractions of life. It is a place where your spirit can relax in His presence while He empowers you with truth and light.

At the end of this time well spent, you feel refreshed, new and alive, like you’ve met the Lord for the first time. You feel safe and secure in the very Word that gives you hope, peace, joy and the feeling of being loved like never before. Everything is suddenly clear and full of purpose.

WARNING: these feelings may only last for a while since a faithful relationship with the Lord is developed by loving Him enough to read and apply His Word throughout your lifetime. If reading God’s Word only makes you feel better for the moment, then you may want to spend more time with the Lord by repeating these instructions as often as possible for further enrichment.

Revised blogs from Blessings in Blogs: Living Effectively by Genia M. Owens, originally published by Trafford Publishing. © Copyright 2012, www.trafford.com

Genia_M_Owens

Genia Owens is an e-book Developer at WORDsearch who loves to inspire others through writing. She also enjoys watching a good movie with popcorn, spending time with family and friends, and going on outings with her husband to take photos for their online photography art business – GREO Galleries Unlimited (http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/greo-galleries-unlimited.html).