Posts Tagged ‘reconciliation’

Debating forgiveness: must a person admit wrongdoing before being forgiven? – Wintery Knight Blog

March 9, 2018

Relationships can be difficult and hard in this life. It takes work, but also a lot of love and forgiveness in order to get through disagreements, hurt feelings, and terrible things that can happen. No one has a perfect life, nor a perfect marriage.

I wholeheartedly agree that repentance is required in order for genuine forgiveness to happen. Without these facts, then reconciliation would be hollow and even non-existent!

God’s love for us was poured out through His Son Jesus at the Cross of Calvary. As believers in Him, we are instructed to love others, as He has loved us. The Bible doesn’t say to stop loving others when they make mistakes, especially when they are willing to ask for forgiveness and desire reconciliation with those that they have sinned against.
Jesus told Peter that we are to forgive not only seven times, but “70 times seven” times! Was Jesus utilizing hyperbole in order to get the point across that repentance, as well as reconciliation are required?
I read a devotional today that asks some pertinent questions.

“Today, when you look at your life, and the lives of those closest to you, do you see fruit and abundance? Or do you see another picture? Are you like a dried-up branch, devoid of any good works that speak of a godly source? Do your relationships suffer because you are at the center, not Jesus?”

The requirements of confession, repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation are all needed to be forgiven for our sins and become right with God through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Is this not the pattern that we should follow for the forgiveness of people in our lives during our journey in this world? If we don’t follow such a pattern, then how are we to bring others into God’s Kingdom?

The devotional ends with:

“Throughout the trials you face–whether big or small–cling to Jesus as the source and giver of life. May you remain in His love. And may His love fill you with abundance and cause you to bear fruit for His Kingdom.”
Amen!

Hat tip:  Wintery Knight

WINTERY KNIGHT

Two horses fight it out, may the best horse win! Two horses fight it out, may the best horse win!

I’ve listened to this debate three times because I liked it so much. I even ordered Chris’ book for my best friend Dina. She has listened to the debate, and is currently split between the two debaters. I am in firm agreement with the pastor Chris, although Remy has some useful things to say that I agree with.

Here’s a link to the debate page on Moody Bible Institute’s “Up For Debate” program with Julie Roys.

Details:

Should Christians Forgive No Matter What?

Should Christians forgive someone even if he’s not sorry?  Or does true forgiveness require repentance and a desire to reconcile?  This Saturday, on Up For Debate, Julie Roys will explore this issue with Chris Brauns, a pastor who believes forgiveness requires repentance, and Remy Diederich who believes it does not.

Although I disagree with Remy, I only disagree with him…

View original post 899 more words

Genuine Forgiveness Includes Reconciliation

March 2, 2018

A mother who has been suffering through a sudden estrangement situation with her son told me that his “break up with his parents” letter included the following comment:

“I forgive you, but I can’t be around it anymore.” 

According to the letter the mom had received, his grievances included perceived “unhealthy communication” and “crossing boundaries,” plus “convictions” regarding grievances which had never been shared with the parents while growing up.  But now, they have “come to light” and were included without much explanation in the letter written.  The son has ignored the pleas of his mother to at least talk it out, or even see a counselor together in order to understand the son’s convictions and grievances; some of which she has no idea in what he’s talking about.

The entire family has been suffering with grief over this for the past four months.  They don’t know whether or not this young man will ever come around and be willing to talk with them or see them again.  It’s a very sad situation!  This young man even wrote to his own sister and in a separate email message where he basically made her choose which side she and her husband were on; his or their parents!

I’m not trained as a counselor and I don’t claim to have all the answers to such a situation.  However, when I see human problems from a biblical perspective (which is something that, as Christians, we should always strive to do), I like to share it here at this blog in the hope that what is written might help someone who is suffering in an estrangement situation.

Forgiveness is Divine.

No wonder it has been said that, “forgiveness is Divine.”  Isn’t it so true that it is often very difficult for us imperfect and sinful human beings to forgive?  But when one forgives another, it is like a huge weight has been lifted off of the heart, soul and mind.  It releases all of that pain, resentment, and rage that once plagued us.  It’s difficult to explain, but when it happens in your life, you know it!

The second (and most important) action that follows forgiveness is reconciliation.  Without reconciliation, the term “forgiveness” is hollow and meaningless.  Man can still claim to forgive, but holding a grudge and refusing to return towards a relationship with one who has been forgiven demonstrates that there is still contempt, dislike, or maybe even hatred for the person (people) that one claims that they have forgiven.  Holding a grudge eats away at one’s heart, soul, spirit and mind!

Christians should not live that way.  They should not hold grudges or have contempt for those that they have loved before, claimed to have forgiven for a simple trespass, yet refuse to participate in a path towards reconciliation.

Our Model, in this respect, is Jesus Christ Himself.  Even when He was being crucified on the cross, (a most painful and excruciating form of punishment that leads to death) He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”  When Jesus died for our sins – the sins of all mankind – He was buried in a guarded tomb.  However, death could not hold Him down and after fulfilling His purpose on this earth, He rose on the third day.  Yes!  His glorious resurrection had a crucial purpose.  Those who would believe in Him and the reason why He died for our sins would join in with the joyous purpose of being reconciled back unto God!

Without the goal of reconciliation, the entire purpose of forgiveness of our sins would be meaningless, wouldn’t it?

If Jesus had listened to and obeyed the man in the crowd at Calvary who yelled, “if you are truly the Son of God, come down from that cross and save yourself,” then the entire purpose for which He was sent and born into this world would have been lost!  Jesus would have ended up going back to the Father, but He would have entered back into heaven alone, for all of eternity.  The offer and goal of salvation for mankind would have been lost.

Only the sinless Son of God could have (and did!) accomplish the plan of forgiveness, reconciliation, and salvation for all who would believe in Him!

Jesus is the bridge that crosses the deep cavern that exists between sinful man and Holy God!  Without reconciliation in this manner, what good is there in forgiveness?  Answer:  it would be hollow, to say the least, and not a soul saving type of forgiveness.

This serves as a model for human relationships and the need to follow Christ’s lead towards forgiving one another.  Without reconciliation, it is hollow at its core.

God bless and may you find peace in the love of the Lord Jesus Christ,

~  Christine

Dan 9:24 – “Seventy weeks[fn] are determined
For your people and for your holy city,
To finish the transgression,
To make an end of[fn] sins,
To make reconciliation for iniquity,
To bring in everlasting righteousness,
To seal up vision and prophecy,
And to anoint the Most Holy.

*******

Rom 5:8 – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Rom 5:9 – Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
Rom 5:10 – For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Rom 5:11 – And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

*******

2 Cor 5:18 – Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,
2 Cor 5:19 – that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
2 Cor 5:20 – Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
2 Cor 5:21 – For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

*******

Update

Also see:

Truth 2 Freedom: March 2 The Godhead Forever One

On Family Loyalty and Christian Discipleship

January 2, 2018

As a born-again Christian over the course of several decades now, I am often curious to read what other Christians have written regarding Bible difficulties.  Today, I read an interesting post over at Bill Muehlenberg’s blog entitled, “On Family Loyalty and Christian Discipleship.”  He categorized it under the headings of “Christianity,” “Difficult Bible Passages,” and “Family.”

To be honest, I became a bit alarmed when I read some of the sections of the post that were about “radical discipleship.”

Excerpt:

Radical discipleship means putting God first above everything else – even above good things which God has blessed. That may mean having to choose at times between loyalty to Christ and allegiance to family. That is what Jesus is on about here: the radical call of Christian discipleship.

When I read that, I immediately thought about the term “cult.”  For me, the only reason I can think of to have the need to “choose, at times, between loyalty to Christ and allegiance to family” would be if certain family members are causing harm to the Christian and/or purposely attacking any member for their Christian discipleship.  Didn’t Jesus also tell us that the “wheat (true believers) and the tares (fake or false adherents)” will grow together, and at the harvest will then be separated?  Well, Bill’s next several paragraphs helped to ease my fears about where he was going with this:

Let me finish with a few wise words of commentary here, just on the Matthew passage. Craig Blomberg cuts to the chase: “Theological syntheses must balance Eph. 6:14 and 1 Tim. 5:8 with teachings like these. Devotion to family is a cardinal Christian duty but must never become absolute to the extent that devotion to God is compromised.”

R. T. France puts it this way:

Like many prophetic oracles, this saying is cast in an absolute form which needs to be set alongside other contrasting aspects of Jesus’ teaching. Family enmity is not a virtue in itself, nor is it the universal experience of Jesus’ disciples, but it is a matter of priorities. Loyalty to Jesus and his mission comes first, and the result of that may be that family ties are strained to breaking point. But there is a new family relationship for disciples of Jesus which more than compensates for what may be lost by loyalty to him (12:46-50; 19:27-29).

Robert Mounce comments, “The issue is one of priorities: our commitment to Christ must be greater than to anyone else. Jesus is not counseling his followers to ride roughshod over family affection or responsibility. The point is that when a person pledges solidarity with Christ and his mission, nothing – not even the love of a family member (understood as unsympathetic to the Christian faith) – must be allowed to stand in the way.”

Again, the point is not to trash family relationships but to fully exalt Christ in everything. As Daniel Doriani comments:

Jesus assumes parents and children love each other. He approves of love in the family. But he says love of family must never push him into the background. A disciple must love him supremely, more than father or mother, son or daughter, husband or wife. If we must choose between pleasing Jesus and pleasing our family, Jesus says we must love him more than father or mother (10:37).

This is not about the Christian repudiating or attacking his own family. The point Jesus is making is that when we come to Christ, family members may well turn on us and reject us. As D. A. Carson puts it, “He does not mean that those he wins as his disciples will turn against their family members, but that by winning men and women to himself their family members will turn against them.”

Ah…OK, that makes more sense.  I have experienced when a family member “turned against me” because of her unbelief in Jesus Christ and her rejection of God’s Word, the Bible.  This person even went so far to spread rumors about me to another relative in order to trash me and turn that relative against me as well.  Sadly, she passed away back in 2011.  Even though I tried to reach her with the Gospel on several occasions (books, emails, sharing my dad’s journey to faith before he died), and prayed for her salvation, her belief was that she would go to heaven because she was kind to animals.  Of course, I won’t know until I get to see the Lord in eternity whether or not any of my invitations to her about her need to accept Christ as Lord and Savior helped her make that eternal decision.

Back to the article.

Bill writes:

So these hard words of Jesus about radical discipleship are NOT meant to be used as an excuse for believers to ride roughshod over their own families. Family life is held in high regard in Scripture, and Christians should do all they can to maintain healthy family relationships.

I know about this type of situation.  When someone marries into another Christian family, one might think that they are “safe” regarding Bill’s admonition that discipleship doesn’t mean to “ride roughshod over their family” members.  Unfortunately, this is not always true.

There can be many reasons for a spouse to encourage her husband to become estranged from his family. You can read my former post about that HERE.

Another reason could be that the Christian spouse that the son married into is in a kind of family cult.

I was surprised to read that Bill had been exposed to cult behavior.  It could happen to anyone.  And, if a particular spouse is not aware of the underlying reasons why a wife would want her husband to abandon his family, he could be manipulated into doing it.

Bill wrote:

Having been in a few cults early on in my Christian journey I know how normal it is for the new convert to be urged to hate their family and turn against them. It is quite common in the cults for the leader to pit the believer against the rest of their family, and insist that the cult is his new family.

Bill continues to write:

This is certainly not what Jesus had in mind when he said these words. Family life is something God-ordained and we need to show proper respect and love for family members.

But then, he also wrote:

The main message of Jesus here is that at times we will have to risk alienating our own family as we fully follow Christ.

When an in-law family is involved in a cult (or, even just cult-like behavior within that small family), they can give a new member of the other side of the family a reason to alienate his own parents and siblings!  I’ve seen it happen and it is excruciatingly painful, terribly sad, and certainly not biblical in nature!  The example I can share here is that “unhealthy communications” and “perceived crossing boundaries” were excuses used for a son to dump his Christian family members; without any effort to discuss such grievances.  Even the suggestion by his side of the family to go to Christian family counseling in order to resolve the issues at hand has been rejected.

Bill admits:

It is unfortunate (alienation from family members) when that does occur, and we are not to go out of our way and seek for that to happen.

Well, in the example that I shared above, the female in-law family DID seek for it to happen.  Terminology like counseling someone into “taking a deep dive” and “purging someone out of his bottled up self and shallowness, even if that means countless hours of staying up all hours of the night to get to the root of your hearts and listening to the convictions of the Holy Spirit… even if it hurts!” was used.   And saying to the untrained in-law “mom” who is doing the so-called “counseling” that “it doesn’t come overnight and you have to work for that transparency…such a blessing that you explained AND most importantly demonstrated that it takes continued commitment and listening to God to make it work!…and that there’s no “easy” way.”  She continued:  “I am so excited for me and Carey to follow in that!”

Now, those particular paragraphs may sound innocent and like there isn’t anything wrong with what is being espoused.  However, when it includes encouraging the husband to abandon his Christian parents (to whom he had previously always expressed love towards, and had written wonderful praises and thanks for his good Christian upbringing in decades worth of birthday cards and Mother’s/Father’s Day cards) and also caused him to choose to become permanently estranged from them; one could look at it as being very damaging.  Such a Facebook post now sounds cult-like and quite scary!  It very well could be another kind of “spirit” working within that family dynamic; NOT the Holy Spirit of God.

Even though my family member (who died in 2011) rejected me for my faith in Jesus Christ, often mocked me for it and even told lies about me to other family members, I still did not become estranged from her.  I continued to attempt to reach her with the Gospel.  And, despite some of the mean things she had done to me over the years, I had to FORGIVE her for them!  When I finally prayed about it and did forgive her for years of dislike, mean things done in the past,  and lies told about me,  a heavy burden was immediately lifted off of me!  THAT is the Jesus Christ that I know and worship!  Only He could do that for me.  When I am weak (and filled with un-forgiveness), He is strong and through the power of the Holy Spirit, had years of pain lifted off of me!

That act of forgiveness was what was NEEDED in order for me to start re-establishing a new relationship with her (mostly via phone because she lived across the country)!  A reunion of sorts was planned, but sadly, she died before that could be arranged. One of the last things that I had discussed with her was my post about Remembering Dad. I hope she read it and took it to heart.

As I had written in the case of Aurora and Carey, outstretched hands and the willingness of communicating with estranged family members requires forgiveness. Such a trial in life as this may be necessary in order for Aurora and Carey to work out conflict within their own lives. Perhaps the parents and extended family members on the son’s side of the family are just collateral damage. It could be a necessary time in the young couple’s lives to go through, in order to see what they have done more clearly. Ultimately, it is my hope and prayer for them to be reconciled back to the parents that raised their son in a Bible-based church and manner; a family that takes seriously 2 Timothy 2:15 that requires believers to “rightly divide the word of truth.”  That is key to the adherence towards  true Christian faith.

Hat tip:  Bill Muehlenberg’s blog

Stretch Out Your Hand

December 13, 2017

 

When a person refuses to discuss his or her grievances in person and/or refuses to hear the other side of an argument that has developed during a conflict that has arisen,  what can be done?

I don’t think that anything can be done until the person refusing to talk it out is willing to sit down and discuss the grievances that exist.  Silence is not a solution.  Staying angry, playing games of trite types of communication (e.g. emailing someone, getting a reply from that person, then not replying back for several days or weeks) isn’t helpful; it’s harmful.  Continuing to ignore the requests for conversation with the hope for conflict resolution with the people involved is not a solution.

Someone I know tried to re-establish communications with her son through her daughter-in-law.  Apparently, both of them have been ignoring her plea (as well as the pleas from her husband and their daughter, the son’s sister) for dialogue for five weeks now.  The mom thought that if she could touch the heart of her daughter-in-law, maybe her son would consider speaking with his mom again.  Here is what she wrote (with name changes as requested):

Dear Aurora,

Since Carey has blocked me (on text, email, phone calls and Facebook) I am appealing to you to encourage him to talk with us.  His request to avoid “unhealthy communication” and to not cross certain “boundaries” can easily be discussed and resolved, but not when communication of any kind is completely cut off.  In the spirit of the celebration of our dear Savior’s birth, it is my prayer and hope that you and Carey can forgive us and be willing to start healing.

I pray you will join me in claiming 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18.  When people intentionally or unintentionally hurt us, as Christians we are not to repay by hurting them back, but rather to “always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.”  Verse 5:18 says, “For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

God bless and hope to see you and Carey soon.

In Jesus,

Mom 

Unfortunately, the mom thinks that maybe her daughter-in-law also blocked her on email, phone, text, and Facebook; so that message didn’t make it through.

What can be done when there is no modicum for respect left for this mom, dad, and the rest of the family?

The term “anger” appears in the NKJV of the Bible 233 times in 228 verses.  In the New Testament we are told:

I think that one of the most interesting accounts regarding “anger” and one that can be a lesson for the “hardness of hearts” that can happen within family disputes, is in Mark 3:1-6. This portion of Scripture is about Jesus healing a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. Take special note of what the Pharisees did as a result of the healing.

Mar 3:1


And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand.

Mar 3:2
So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him.

Mar 3:3
And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.”

Mar 3:4
Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent.

Mar 3:5
And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.[fn]

Mar 3:6
Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.

The Pharisees hated Jesus, and despite the miracle that they had just witnessed, their anger towards God’s Son made their hearts so hardened that all they wanted to do was to plot how they might destroy Him!  See how easily anger can be turned into sin?

David Guzik’s commentary on this portion of Scripture gives us more insight.

Here is a relevant part of the commentary:

Quote:

a. A man was there who had a withered hand: “The man’s hand was withered, but God’s mercy had still preserved to him the use of his feet: he uses them to bring him to the public worship of God, and Jesus meets and heals him there. How true is the proverb – It is never so all with us, but it might be much worse!” (Clarke)

b. They watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath: The critics of Jesus expected Him to heal this man with the withered hand. By their expectation, they admitted that Jesus had the power of God to work miracles. Knowing this, they watched Him closely… so that they might accuse Him. They knew what Jesus could do, yet their knowledge didn’t draw them to Jesus. It was as if a man could fly, but the authorities wanted to know if he had a pilot’s license.

i. The religious leaders watched Jesus closely but with no heart of love for Him. They knew about Jesus, but they did not know Him.

ii. They also knew Jesus would do something when He saw this man in need. In this sense, these critics had more faith than many of us, because we sometimes doubt that Jesus wants to meet the needs of others.

c. Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill? In His question to the religious leaders, Jesus emphasized the truth about the Sabbath: there is never a wrong day to do something truly good.

i. According to their Sabbath traditions, if you cut your finger, you could stop the bleeding – but you could not put ointment on the cut. You could stop it from getting worse, but you weren’t allowed to make it better.

d. He had looked around them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts: This is one of the few places where Jesus is described as having anger, and He was angry at the hardness of men’s hearts.

i. Jesus was angry because this was a perfect opportunity for these critics of His to change their minds about Him and their traditions. But they refused to change their minds, and rejected Jesus instead. In this we can see that Jesus deliberately used this occasion to provoke a response. Jesus could have done this the next day. Jesus could have done it privately. But He chose to do it at this time and place.

e. Stretch out your hand: In this, Jesus commanded the man with the withered hand to do something impossible – to move his paralyzed hand. But as the man put forth effort, God did the rest. God never commands us without enabling us.

i. “This man might have reasoned thus: ‘Lord, my hand is withered; how then can I stretch it out? Make it whole first, and afterwards I will do as thou commandest.’ This may appear reasonable, but in his case it would have been foolishness. At the command of the Lord he made the effort, and in making it the cure was effected!” (Clarke)

f. The Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him: Jesus did nothing but a wonderful miracle. In response, two parties of former enemies (the Pharisees and the Herodians) agreed together in one cause: to destroy Jesus.

i. “The Herodians were not a religious party; they were a group of Jews who were sympathetic to King Herod and supported his rule.” (Wiersbe) /unquote

*******

So, how does this relate to the anger of the son towards his family for “unhealthy communications” and crossing “boundaries?”

In this way.  The son, just like the man with the withered hand, must make the first move to reap the rewards of healing.

Note, again:

e. Stretch out your hand: In this, Jesus commanded the man with the withered hand to do something impossible – to move his paralyzed hand. But as the man put forth effort, God did the rest. God never commands us without enabling us.


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