Much has been written, spoken of, and preached about the subject of forgiveness.  It’s a subject that seems to be both easily understood but also deeply complex.  At one time or another we’ve probably found ourselves in the position of needing forgiveness or needing to forgive someone.  Jesus makes it very plain in the Gospels that we are to forgive those who offend us (Matt 6:14-15, Mark 11:25-26).  He adds in these passages that we need to forgive others so that God will forgive us. 


But what about repeat offenders?  If someone causes me hurt and I forgive them, what if they do it again?  In Matt 18:21, the disciple Peter poses this very question to Jesus.  Peter even offers a possible number of times to forgive the offender – seven.  Jesus counters with a response that was probably unexpected – “up to seventy times seven”.  Of course, Jesus didn’t literally mean 490 times should be the forgiveness limit (70×7), but that our capacity for forgiveness should be limitless, just like God’s capacity to forgive us.  Can you imagine if God had a cosmic counter that counted down our allotment of “forgiveness chits”?  We would all be quaking in our boots!


Do you have what it takes to forgive?  An example of what I call “next level forgiveness” was demonstrated earlier this year in the trial of Amber Guyger, a Dallas police officer convicted of the murder of Botham Jean.  During the delivery of Victim Impact statements, the victim’s younger brother, Brandt Jean, publicly stated that he forgave his brother’s murderer and expressed a desire for her to turn to Christ.  He then amazingly hugged Guyger in the courtroom. 


This scenario demonstrates another aspect of forgiveness.  In Matthew 18:34-35, the wicked servant who refused to forgive a debt after he had received forgiveness for a debt himself was turned over to the torturers.  We are warned that God will do the same to those who do not forgive.  Now we know that no one will be showing up at our door to physically abuse us, so what is meant when the Word says torturers?  The original Greek translation of the word used for “torturer” also uses “tormenter” in the definition.  In other words, harboring unforgiveness causes us to be tormented or tortured; this can have physical and emotional manifestations outside of the spiritual implications. 


If not addressed, unforgiveness will fester and hurt us.  In a different scenario in Acts 8:23, Peter mentions being “poisoned by bitterness”.  God is letting us know that even though we may have been wronged, by not forgiving the offender, we are in fact hurting ourselves.  The offender may be blissfully going on about his/her business, not even knowing that an injury has been caused, meanwhile we are imprisoned and tortured by bitterness and resentment, caused by unforgiveness.


Here is the message – forgiveness is not so much for the offender, it is for us, the offended.  It frees us from a self-made prison.  God does this because he loves us enough to make us face the pain of the hurt and move through it, rather than remaining there indefinitely.  It may not be easy, but it’s for our good.

Years ago I was a member of a workgroup Bible study. The group leader asked each group member to share a study of a favorite scripture. Most of the group would wing it or have their presentations written on small cheat notes. At the time I used a program for the Logos Bible that had a lesson builder and of course I made copies of the lesson for each participant. 

Now, I am no theologian, and don’t have the best memory, but what I strive for is the spirit of excellence. The spirit of excellence is totally different than doing things perfectly.  The spirit of excellence means that whatever you do, you give your all and your best. You go that extra mile and you never stop at just “alright.” You work toward excellence even if no one is watching, judging, or grading. 

For example, maybe you are not a solo singer. If you can sing though, you can join or start a choir, a quartet, a group or just come to church and join your voice with the corporate body of Christ. What matters is singing with gusto and all that’s within you. So what if you cannot play the keyboard or the drums, can you play a brass or woodwind instrument, can you clap your hands?  Maybe you are not a boss but you can be the best employee that your boss has. Can you talk or write – then write and read your poetry, share a Bible scripture, give your testimony. Do you have an expressive face and movements? Then mime.  Are you good at doing hair? Remind someone of how special they are because God knows the number  of hairs on their head. Or are you good at body building, strength training or exercising? Encourage others that they are fearfully and wonderfully made and  they can be their very best. 

You may not have what it takes to be a pastor, but you can support the pastor’s vision. Sometimes we may not be the one right out front, but the ministry of helps is always looking for “help” so do like  the Nike slogan and Just Do It. 

But guess what? Nike was not the first one to encourage us to give it all we have. 

Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (MSG) says:

This commandment that I’m commanding you today isn’t too much for you, it’s not out of your reach. It’s not on a high mountain—you don’t have to get mountaineers to climb the peak and bring it down to your level and explain it before you can live it. And it’s not across the ocean—you don’t have to send sailors out to get it, bring it back, and then explain it before you can live it. No. The word is right here and now—as near as the tongue in your mouth, as near as the heart in your chest. Just do it!

Martin Luther King, Jr.- once said,

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michael Angelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

SO, whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might just as if you were working for the Lord.

Many times we hear the dreaded stories about waiting on God.  We’ve heard about the difficulties folks experience while waiting on God to heal, to change a situation, or to perform a miracle. I must say I’ve waited on God over the years and yes, it can be quite hard.  

But I want to challenge us to change our response while we wait.  Consider this…what if we treated waiting on God the same as waiting on Santa Claus.  For most of us, when we were young, there was a certain level of excitement that we experienced around Christmas time.  On Christmas Eve, there was an anticipation.  You went to bed early but you anxiously expected gifts to show up under the tree on Christmas Day.  Maybe it wasn’t Christmas – think back to anxiously waiting on something, that you knew was coming. 

May I suggest that we CHOOSE to make excitement and anticipation our default responses while waiting on God?  Let’s begin to condition our flesh (mind and body) to be positive and hype while waiting on God for the things we request in prayer. I know it’s not going to be easy because of uncertainty.  Is this God’s will?  Will he bless me now or later?  But I believe God will delight in our excitement, which stimulates our faith.  So how do we do this?  Here are three ways to begin the process of changing your wait response. 

1. Immediately after you pray, create a quick cheer chant. For example “Lord I’m excited cause I know you’re gonna do it!”  Repeat it over and over to condition your mind.
2. Put a smile on your face every time your unanswered request comes to mind and repeat the chant in #1.
3. Find that one scripture that speaks to your “waiting on God” period and declare it. Remember God is faithful to His word.

There is something good about waiting with excitement and anticipation, when waiting on God.  He wants us to be like that little toddler who at the end of the day sees daddy coming to pick them up from daycare and runs with a big smile, arms stretched wide, and joy in their heart because daddy showed up and they had been anticipating seeing him. God wants to show up for us and while you’re waiting GET FIRED UP AND EXCITED!  Get fired up like your blessing is here. 

So instead of getting impatient with God in the process of waiting, let’s turn it around and say “Lord I’m excited about the blessing!”  And instead of saying “I can’t wait”, say “I’m waiting with anticipation to see what you’re going to do.  I don’t see it, but Lord I’m gonna be hype til it comes!”  

There’s something exciting about trusting in God.  There’s an excitement about waiting on God to move and bring his Word and Promises to life.  I want to encourage God’s people there’s excitement in seeking God and then waiting on his promises to manifest. 

Hello all:

This past Sunday we discussed Identity and Purpose.  Our subject title was “Who Are You – Really?”  This to me means that we all have both an Identity and a Purpose designated by God.  Let’s dive into this a little further…

As Christians, we should realize that we all have value to God.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:29-31 that a bird as common as a sparrow can’t fall to the ground without God knowing about it, and that we as his children have a lot more value than a sparrow.  What does this boil down to?  For me, it makes me think about a parking space – yes, a parking space.  Not very spiritual sounding, is it?

For me, because I know God cares about the seemingly mundane things in my life, I figure I can trust him to provide a parking spot for me when I’m out running errands.  If the very hairs on my head are numbered as Jesus said, God would care about something this small as well.  So, off I go looking for God to provide a parking spot in a crowded lot.  Now I can’t say my success rate is 100% (gotta stay humble), but God comes through more often than not.  As I learn to trust Him for little things, my faith will grow to trust him for bigger things.  Because I matter to God, I can believe that he will provide for me.  I identify as His child.

As a man, it seems that I am “hard wired” by God to strongly identify and connect with what I do for a living.  I think that’s why when we meet a man for the first time and we’re striking up a conversation, “What do you do?” is one of the first things out of our mouths.  I believe our Creator gave us this strong connection with work so that we would provide for our families.  We as men struggle against having too strong of an identification with our jobs and letting other priorities such as spouse, family (and God) become a distant second.

I believe this is why some professional athletes struggle when their careers end due to injury or retirement.  If your identity is built around the fame, money, adulation and camaraderie that come from pro sports, you can be like a rudderless ship when it all ends.  I’ve also noted that some people with everyday jobs often are dead within a few years of retirement because their identity has been too focused on the job.

As a child of God, I have an assignment from God to fulfill that gives me Identity and Purpose outside of any job.  My assignment also gives me an Identity and Purpose independent of any circumstances that come along – wealth, poverty, sickness, conflict on the home front, struggles with sin – whatever.

My focus is on “laying hold of that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of me” (Phil 3:12).  That’s why I ask myself periodically, “Who Are You – Really?”