Posts tagged ‘past’

October 18, 2011

How To Forgive

by pastortimfowler

Forgiving is not easy. It is something that God requires Christians to do, but few Christians seem to be able to do it. Even when we say we are forgiving someone, those old feelings of anger and resentment have a way of coming back. This past Sunday I preached about how we love the fact that God forgives us when we ask, but we tend to make people wait on the forgiveness that we should give. But, for many, we want to and try to forgive but get stuck with the residue of hurt and bitterness. Here are a few things that you can do if and when you struggle with forgiving someone.
First, and this is important, we are not God and cannot forget the past. We are told that God never brings up our sins again after they are forgiven, and we hear people say stuff like, forgive and forget. But we can’t forget. What we must do is daily and if necessary hourly, every minute, or every second, remind ourselves that we chose to forgive. The Apostle Paul said that he died daily to sin. In other words, he reminded himself everyday that the old man was gone and now he was a new creature in Christ. Just like every other sin we struggle with, forgiveness is a sin that has to be dealt with daily. God is perfect and His forgiveness is perfect, ours is not.
Second, we need to do everything possible to grow in our Christian lives. There are a few wonderful verses Peter’s 2nd letter that can help. 2 Peter 1:5-8 says to add to our faith, purity, to purity, knowledge, to knowledge, self-control and so on. If we ever think that we are as good as we get in our Christian lives, we are going to stumble. Forgiveness takes maturity and to mature as a Christian, you need, Bible, prayer, church, and practice, and of course, God.
Third, sometimes we feel like that person is not getting what they deserve. This is common, but we must remember that God is the one who will judge the unrighteous, and Psalms 7:11 says, God is a fair judge, a God who is angered by injustice every day. We must trust that if there is an injustice, God will deal with it, we don’t have to. But if God has forgiven that person, and we don’t know if they have asked or not, but if so, then it is forgiven and we need to let it go.
Forth, if possible, tell the person that you forgive them. Be prepared for them to say that they did nothing to need forgiving, but if there has been a real wrong committed, let them know you forgive them. If this is not possible, write out what they did on paper. Write down how you feel and your desire to forgive. Daily, or as often as needed, pray over it and ask God to take away all bitterness and resentment and that your desire is to forgive completely. Let God know that you are weak and that you need His strength to release it. Once you have been freed from this, burn the paper and thank God for the release. Thank Him for forgiving you and forgiving the person you just forgave or if you think that person is not a Christian, pray for their salvation.
Forgiveness is hard, but it is beautiful when it comes in fullness. You can forgive because, Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.

March 31, 2011

A blast from the Past

by pastortimfowler

I don’t always have people fall in love with me after they meet me. Sure, that is hard for you to believe if you have ever met me, but sadly it is true. There are a lot of sick people out there.
Four years ago there was this person that was coming to my church and they liked me. (Wouldn’t it be a great time to stop on that positive note?) After a while he/she, (identity protected here), disagreed with me on a biblical issue and decided to leave the church. This happens no matter what church you go to because not everyone wants to hear the truth. Now I am talking about God’s word, not mine.
So I have not heard from this person in almost three years when all of a sudden I get an email from him/her. I won’t go into details about what was said, but basically I ruined everything and I suck.
Years ago, when I first felt the call to go into the ministry, I went to my pastor and asked for some advice. I asked him to give me a verse of scripture that he would say that every pastor should take to heart. So without hesitation he gave me this verse: Ezekiel 3:9 (GW) I will make you as hard as a diamond, harder than stone. Don’t be afraid of them. Don’t be terrified in their presence, even though they are rebellious people.”
Every time something like this happens I remember that verse and remember over and over how Jesus was persecuted for doing good. Although I am far from being Jesus, I do try my best to love people. Even if I don’t like you, I try to remember that God made us all very different for a reason and I don’t have to like you to love you.
That verse sounds a little tough, but often pastors are given tasks to say things that don’t sit well with others. Often the message that we preach is one that causes people to be challenged in the way they may be living and things that they may be doing.   And, because what we hear that convicts, it often causes us to get defensive, so, God will harden pastors to protect them.
It would be easy to get really hurt or offended by someone like this but I won’t fall into that trap. God never said that this would be a popularity contest and He never said that everyone would like you or agree with you. He only said, as much as possible, love people. Love covers a bunch of sin. Christians need to remember that we are not to be afraid of offending people. And like a parent, we can’t take what an upset child says too seriously, we can’t get to caught up in things that immature people say about us.
One of the things that I look forward to, is seeing this person face to face. I know that may sound weird, but I like to see people who are mad at me. When I do, I try to go speak to them as if nothing ever happened and smile as if they were my bestest friend. I might be apt to live out this scripture a bit; Romans 12:20 (GW) says, But, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink. If you do this, you will make him feel guilty and ashamed.”
I just think that if someone is still mad after three years, they have the problem, not me. So please feel free to send me a blast from the past, you just might be a subject of my next blog.