Archive for the ‘Forgiveness’ Category


QUOTE (Corrie ten Boom) – Feb 28

February 28, 2014
Corrie ten Boom, "The Hiding Place"

Corrie ten Boom, “The Hiding Place” (Photo credit: Corrie ten Boom Museum)

“Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: ‘A fine message, Fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!’  And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women?

But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.

‘You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,’ he was saying, ‘I was a guard there.’  No, he did not remember me.  ‘But since that time,’ he went on, ‘I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein,’ again the hand came out—’will you forgive me?’  And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place—could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?

It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

English: Betsie, Nollie, Casper, Willem, Corne...For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. ‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’  I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.

And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. ‘… Help!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’

And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’

For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then.”

~ Corrie ten Boom, “I’m Still Learning to Forgive”

In honor of Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch Christian and Holocaust survivor, who on this day in 1944 was arrested by Nazi police for hiding Jews.

This Day in History – February 28
Corrie ten Boom Story on Forgiving

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January 18, 2014

“…You wicked servant!  I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?”  Matthew 18:32-33

“Awww…crap on a cracker!”

My Coffee Mug 002That was what I thought as I began to read the new testament portion of my Bible reading plan this morning.  I am fully aware of the absence of the “Christ-like” nature in my response but I immediately realized that I was about to be divinely called out.  My response was that of a third grader whose parent just confronted them of their blatant disobedience.

Allow me to digress and explain my activities of the last week that I have allowed to fester into unforgiveness and hate.  It has been an attitude that I have been fighting and confessing all week but last night, actually early this morning, I allowed my mind to relish in the deep resent of being wronged.  Therefore, I was not surprised this morning to discover that my heavenly Father had orchestrated His Word perfectly to address the wickedness of my heart.

My company is going to be sued.  The process of being sued is not some abstractions when you own part of a small business that has been targeted.  It is personal.  It is even more personal when the chief antagonists are people who you once considered friends.  I wrote about this in “But I Don’t Wanna Be Slapped”.  That blog was written over a year ago and the saga is still on-going.

Mediation has finally been scheduled and documents provided with the assertions of our wrong doing.  My week has been spent reviewing those documents and writing responses.  The deeper I dig the more incredulous I have become at the sear lack of integrity, at least from my perspective, which my antagonists are abiding within.  I have been praying for them by name every night this week.  I have been asking God to bless them in obedience to Jesus’ command to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 6:44).

The façade of a struggling heart was stripped away in the early morning hours when my brain awoke to thoughts of the case.  My mind drifted from facts to faces; faces that were once welcome in my home but now are enemies of my home.  Yes, they are my enemies for which I was shocked at the disdain that welled up for them.  I was even more shocked at the personal hate that I felt for their attorney and expert witness.

Worse than those thoughts was the fact that I drank them in.

Therefore, I was not surprise by the scripture that was awaiting me with my morning cup of coffee.  I knew what was coming.  My wicked heart had been clearly revealed.  My Lord cut me to the core.  He crushed any and all pretense and justification that I had created in my pre-dawn ranting.  He showed me how easily I have accepted His mercy, which was more costly than any mercy that I am being commanded to show.  I was confronted with my hypocrisy.

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I realized that God in His continuing mercy toward me was showing me that I was forgiving from my mouth but not from my heart.

And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.  So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart. (Matt. 18:34-35)

I know that this lawsuit may go on for a few more years and I don’t know how many times I am going to be coming back to this very same wicked place.  How can I forgive when the process does not allow for reconciliation or resolution? I am reminded of Jesus’ response to the question of who then can be saved.

With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. (Matt. 19:26)

Therefore, I walk the path of a disciplined servant – I repented of my sinfulness, I thanked my Savior for His grace and mercy in forgiving my debt, which was much greater, and I asked Him for the strength to follow Him with all of my heart because I can’t do it myself.

Forgiveness is not an elective in the curriculum of servant-hood. It is a required course, and the exams are always tough to pass. ~Charles Swindoll

PRAYER: O Lord, thank you for not allowing me to wallow in my sin.  Thank you for confronting the wickedness and disobedience of my heart.   Thank you for being a lovely Father to me.  Help me in my unbelief.  Help me to be so enamoured by the grace and mercy that you have shown me that will will naturally flow out and onto my enemies.  Lord, be with them.  Show them the same love that you have shown me.  Draw them to yourself.  Enable me to forgive them not only with my mouth but with my heart.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.



July 4, 2013

“For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.”  2 Corinthians 2:6-8

Motivation can be as difficult to discover as any buried treasure.  It lays buried deep within, tainting all of the actions flowing through it.  This filtering effect of motivation can sour all the right activity or it can sweeten the most misguided.

Therefore, an action’s quality is dependent upon the actor’s inspiration.

The treasure of our inspiration should be a hunt that never ends.  It should be a quest that commences every time I am moved into action or inaction.  This becomes even more important when reconciliation becomes necessary.

I wish it were possible for us not to hurt each other.  I wish that we all could live in a big, happy community: without speaking insensitive words, without differences driving a wedge, without the dashing of expectation.  I have yet to find that community.  Ponce de Leon’s search will probably be fulfilled before I discover the community without the need of forgiveness.

The perfect community will never exist as long as it is populated with imperfect people.  We, followers of Christ, still struggle under the oppression of our sinful flesh.  The ugly manifestations of our sin are the obvious imperfections within our Christian communities.

I look forward to the time when interpersonal forgiveness will be a theory.  I long for the forgiveness of a wronged person to be relegated to the rudimentary toolbox of a dark age.  However, that day of glorification has not yet come.  So, the need for the craftsmanship of forgiveness still has a role to play within our communities.

English: Photographer: Randy C. Bunney A sharp...

English: Photographer: Randy C. Bunney A sharp wood chisel in combination with a wood drill bit is used to form this mortise for a half-lap joint in a timber frame. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unfortunately, this craft does not seem to have enough skillful practitioners.  Forgiveness is not easy.  I have been disappointed many times when forgiveness has not resulted in the reconciliation that I had hoped.  It makes me wonder if our fumbling of forgiveness results in part from a contamination of motivation.

Why do you want someone to ask for forgiveness?

Why are you asking for forgiveness?

Why are you seeking the one you have wronged?

The variation of answers to those questions reveal our motivations.

We might be seeking justice.
We might just want things to get back to normal.
We might want vindication.
We might want it known that we were wronged.

The emotions and motivations of the hurting can be difficult to untangle.  However, I think that we often make it harder than it needs to be.  True forgiveness flows from those whose actions are filtered by a motivation of love.  The reason forgiveness fumbles from unskilled hands is often due to motivations for something other than the love of that other person.

I should seek the forgiveness of the person I have wronged because I love them. 

Forgiveness sought from love wants to heal the past wounds that have been inflicted.  Also, forgiveness removes the future stumbling blocks of resentment, bitterness, and disunity that can come from unresolved conflicts.  Therefore, the love of our neighbor’s soul, past, present and future, should be why we earnestly seek out those who we have wronged.  We do it because we love them.

When I have been wronged, I should seek reconciliation with that person because I love them. 

My love for them should not be contingent upon their action.  However, that does not mean my hurt is not real and it does not mean I should sweep it under the carpet.  Holding my brother or sister accountable to their action can be one of the most loving things I do for them.  Usually, actions that are hurting other people are a result of sin.  That person needs to be made aware of their sin and the consequences of those actions.  The love of the hurt should be for those who have hurt them to repent and to have a right relationship with God.  Forgiveness is more about the restoring of the transgressor’s relationship with God than with the one they wronged.  By God’s grace, usually when the transgressor gets right with God, the Spirit will motivate them in love to get right with the one they wronged.  That should be the loving hope of the wronged.

Genuine forgiveness will always craft reconciliation when all parties are motivated by an abounding love for one another.

We are all stuck in a world where relationships will get funky.  Therefore, we must become skillful masters of the craft of forgiveness.  It is an essential skill of a follower of Christ.  May we always set our heart on love before we pick up the tool of forgiveness because inspiration that comes from love will be manifested in quality actions that glorify God.

That should be our hope.

PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for so often losing sight of love when confronted with a conflict.  Forgive me for caring more about myself than those I am at odds with.  Help me to love others as You love them.  Give me a love for others that is beyond me.  Make me a peacemaker and a master craftsman of reconciliation.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.



June 23, 2013

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 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 3:12-13

“STOP!”  The command still resonates through my ears even after thirty years.  It was not a menacing or cruel command but it was all too common.  It always was a command of necessity and a little frustration.  It was a frustration that thankfully did not originate with me but from the task at hand.

I knew what I would see upon looking in the direction of my father.  There he would be, seated at his workbench, both arms stretched out to his side with his hands in the universal sign of “don’t take another step”.  His eyes were never on any person.  They were already looking down, searching for what he had lost.

I would stop and give my dad the room  he needed.  The slow searching process had begun.  He would start with himself.  Slowly lifting each fold of his shirt to see if what was lost had landed in a crevasse.  He would work his way down from his shirt to his lap and the ridges of his chair.  All the while, the search would become a little more urgent through its descent.

If his prey was particularly elusive, my dad would take a small magnet and begin to sweep the surfaces of his workbench.  He would keep his feet and chair rigidly fixed as the magnet moved through a search pattern designed not to leave a space unexamined.

If the search proved unsuccessful, my father would carefully step from his bench and take his frustration to the floor.  He would run his magnet across the floor in an agonizingly slow hunt.  It was a colossal waste of time.  That is what frustrated my dad the most.

New old skeleton watchworks, seen through its ...

New old skeleton watchworks, seen through its crystal back (Photo credit: readerwalker)

My dad was a watchmaker.  Actually, he was a watch repairer.  This was back when watches were not powered by batteries and governed by electronics.  My dad made his living working on mechanical time-pieces that were masterpieces of tiny gears, screws, and springs.  Stores shipped their customer’s functionless watches to our house and my dad transformed the broken into the useful. However, it was always difficult to make a living being a tradesman of the watchmaker art.  The watchmaker was paid by piecemeal.  He only earned his wage when what was shipped back worked as it was intended.  Therefore, the provider of my family had the pressure of production that an adolescent will never understand.  This was the frustration that my father felt as he searched surfaces of his shop.

Molnija 3601 watch movement macroMy father’s search was most often for the tiniest of screws.  The slightest bit of excess pressure on their round surfaces could cause one to disappear as if by magic.  Time slips away when having to deal with something that was not the original problem but has become one.  Wages associated with the repair evaporate with every moment wasted in search of that which was not broken but yet essential.

A friend was recently telling me of an experience in his church that made me think of my dad’s frustration.  He told me of how a person had been offended by something that he had done in which I struggled to see the offense.  It seems to me that the particular person had to work at being offended by the actions of my friend. It was a tale that is neither unique nor uncommon.

I wonder at the amount of time spent by pastors smoothing over perceived or minor offenses within their congregations.  I don’t think I want to know the level of consideration wasted to crafting communications so as to appease the delicate.  It seems that just the slightest touch of inadvertent pressure can cause positive attitudes to disappear as if by magic.  Trouble and hurt feelings can easily arise and become an issue that engulfs the original problem.  The progress in helping the broken can be consumed in soothing the feelings of the delicate.

The drama swirling the delicate staggers me.  It wears me out.  I don’t know a church, family, group of friends, or workplace that does not contain some drama.  The reality of the pervasiveness of drama probably comes from us all being more delicate than we may want to admit.  Most of us don’t want to acknowledge that we are over-sensitive.  We resist the idea that we may have a weakness toward searching out offenses.  We may deny our skill in conjuring drama from innocent intentions.

The drama of the delicate is such a colossal waste of time and effort.  We are all forced to spend the time searching for the solution to a specific bit of drama.  The solution may appease the delicate for a time but it never usually addresses the heart issue.  Therefore, we are all trapped in this dance of being so concerned with not offending that distracts us from our real purpose in serving the broken.

Drama consumes so much energy.

We were never intended to be delicate in Christ.  We are supposed to be compassionate, kind, humble, meek, patient, forgiving, and loving.  Drama does not come from those who are bearing with one another.  Offense does not linger in those who have forgiven.  Patience soothes the over-sensitive.

Jesus did not spend a lot of time with the drama of the disciples.  He rebuked the drama when it arose.  He addressed the sinful heart condition that was exposed when His disciples acted in a particularly delicate manner.

We are to be known for our love for one another.  We should not be known for our drama.

The next time that you feel the pressure of offense, consider the colossal waste that will come from the drama building within you.  Seek the Lord and let Him soothe the delicate nature of our soul.  Let He be the comfort of your sensitive feelings.  Allow the Spirit to strengthen you and empower you to look past the failings of others and to forgive.  Let the fruit of patience and peace bless all those around you.

Allow yourself to be delicate before your Lord but be mature for the Body of Christ and strive for a drama-free life through the power of His Spirit.

PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for not leaving my delicate nature in your gentle hands.  Forgive me for trying to correct the offenses that I have felt.  Forgive me for my tendency to think of myself more than others.  Lord, give me compassion and meekness.  Help me to be kind and forgive.  Grant me humility and enable me to bear with others.  Father, I need you to fill me with the power of your Spirit so that I can walk in a drama-free life.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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