12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
I touched on forgiveness back in December but I decided to come back to this topic as it can be very touchy.
Forgiveness can be hard. I know this. I have struggled with this. We all have at one point or another. But we are required to forgive! Just as the Lord forgave us we are required to forgive.
I’m doing a forgiveness reading plan on the YouVersion App as part of my devotions this week and came across this quote:
God freely forgives us and gives us eternal life. But he also expects us to extend that same mercy to others, with strict warnings to us if we don’t. A life of judgement, condemnation and unforgiveness is a prison.
Refusing to forgive someone puts us in prison! A prison full of anger and bitterness! We must be willing to forgive! To let go of the anger and bitterness and move forward.
Yes, I know. Some hurts are hard to move on from. But the longer a person stays unwilling to forgive, the longer it will control us. And the longer it controls us, the longer the anger and bitterness remain, causing us to hurt others.
And as the saying goes, “Hurt people HURT people!” We tend to take the hurt we’ve been dealt and lash out towards others. Sometimes these people haven’t even done anything to us but they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Holding a grudge toward the person who hurt you just isn’t right. It isn’t what God wants from us. He wants us to “let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31:32)
I sit here at my laptop and practically beg for the words to come. I want to write something good….something practical….something that will help someone else.
But the words just won’t come. I sit and stare at the blinking cursor and get agitated because the one thing I used to be good at, the one thing I could always count on was my writing. I used to have the ability to sit down and write til my heart was content.
Now it just feels forced.
I’ve always been told to “write what you know.” A problem I have with that is “what do I know??” “How do I know what I know?”
I am my own worst critic. I’ve been having a bit of a relapse with my bipolar disorder so that coupled with the ADHD is causing me to doubt myself.
Please bear with me as I struggle to get through this episode of self doubt and feelings of inadequacy.
(pity party table for 1?)
Perhaps I AM having a bit of a pity party. I’m sorry, I will try to do better.
I came across this verse in Philippians that really made me stop and think:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.
Maybe that’s why I’m having trouble finding the words. I’m trying to write for ME and not God. I know I’ve recently written about this before but I’m still struggling. Struggling with finding the right words.
I want my words to mean something to someone. I want my words to bring glory to God.
I want my words to point people to Jesus.
But my mind is all over the place. My mind races constantly and getting words out is a constant struggle. It’s taken me forever just to write this post. I’ve written a little then stopped to do something else, come back and written some more.
Can I ask all of you to please pray for me? I know this post has been all over the place but that’s the trouble with bipolar episodes. My mind races and I flit from one thought to the next in seconds.
Sorry, it’s been a few days since my last post. I’ve been sick with a bad sinus infection and have felt awful. I’m still feeling pretty weak and tired but hopefully the antibiotic will kick in soon.
So I was going to post my review of Chapter 2 of The Christian Atheist but ran into a potential problem.
I’ve been wrestling with whether or not I should continue these “reviews.” I was in the middle of the review of chapter 2 when I suddenly became aware that it could be considered a copyright infringement. I’ve been struggling with this thought all weekend long and just don’t know what to do. So hopefully you can help me figure this out!
I’ve enjoyed reviewing each chapter and sharing with you what it says but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s copyright infringement.
So I’m going to research the matter and will get back to you. If you have any thoughts on the matter, please share them.
Groeschel opens up the chapter with a story from his past regarding the time he met a young woman in college. As he got to know her, he grew more attracted to her and did what he could to impress her. Six months after meeting her, he proposed and 19 years later they are still together and happy as can be.
He uses that story to talk to us about how they know each other. However,
…despite how completely we know each other–even after nearly two decades–our intimacy continues to grow. We’re constantly learning how to connect and communicate deeply.
Believing Versus Knowing
Belief isn’t the same as personal knowledge
Groeschel continues by explaining the different levels of intimacy when it comes to knowing God.
“Some of us know God by reputation”
We know a little bit about God–we’ve gone to church a few times, heard the Bible stories. We may even have a favorite Bible verse.
This knowledge is only secondhand, however
“Some of us know God in our memories.”
“We’ve experienced his goodness, grace and love in the past.
“Some of us know God intimately.”
Right here, right now. It is THIS kind of loving knowledge that “God promises when we seek Him”
As we continue to seek God, we’ll grow to know him more and more intimately. When we hear God’s voice, we’ll recognize it instantly.
Not Knowing God
Believing God isn’t all He wants from us
In the book of James, it tells us that even the “demons believe in God, and yet they tremble because they know that they’re relationally separated from Him.”
Groeschel tells us there is more to being a Christian than just believing in God. We must experience God’s love. We must know him intimately.
He explains that growing up, he and his family were what you would call “cultural Christians.” They would go to church on Christmas and Easter. They’d help people in need. They donated canned goods to food drives. They’d pray at Thanksgiving meals.
But that was the extent of it. They knew about God. They didn’t know Him. And because Groeschel didn’t know God, he lived according to his own rules. He did what he wanted, not what God wanted. He didn’t have an intimate relationship with God.
In 1 John 2:3-4, it says,
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says “I know him” but does not do what he commands is a liar and the truth is not in him.”
Harsh, right? Not according to Groeschel. He prefers to think of it as “straightforward and honest.” It is “truthfully spoken by someone who truly cares and wants what’s best for us.
We are created to be living examples of God’s love to a hurting world.
Knowing God can lead to positive lifestyle, but the reverse isn’t true.
Our outward actions alone don’t prove that we enjoy an inward relationship with God.
Groeschel urges us to make an effort to get to know God.
“God is interested not only in our actions but also in our hearts–in particular our attitude toward him.”
We can look good on the outside, make is seem like we love God but if our hearts aren’t there, if our hearts aren’t in the right place then when life is over, Jesus will say to us “I never knew you. Away from me, you evil doers.” (Matthew 7:23)
Not Knowing God Well
In this section, Groeschel writes about when Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians. They had experienced the real, living God but had “recently become trapped in legalism.”
In other words they fell back into their old ways. “They knew God but not well enough to avoid getting sucked back into a life based in the law, rather than in love. In Galatians 4:8-9, it says “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning aback to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again.”
“In the 21st century, we would be wise to ask ourselves, ‘Is this us too?'”
Do you “sort of” know God?
Knowing God Intimately
Then there are those who “know God intimately and serve Him with their whole hearts.”
The psalmist, David, describes in Psalm 63:1-4 his relationship with God. In fact, he says that his experience of knowing the personal God creates a deeper longing for even more intimate knowledge of God.
David writes in the psalm “O God, you are my God” Did you catch that? David calls God “HIS God.” David continues to write, “Earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you.
What is David saying? He’s saying that there is absolutely nothing in this world that can satisfy him. Only GOD can totally satisfy.
Groeschel poses the question, “Have you ever felt that kind of love for someone? Now imagine that with God. Imagine that kind of love
Verse 3 says, “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.” Better than life? He’s saying ‘If I had the choice–either keep God’s love and see my mortal body die, or lose His love and live–I would choose to die.
Matthew 16:26 says, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”
Or how about Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
What kind of love do you have for God?
It’s All in the Name
What do you call God?
If you know God, you are likely to be far more specific with him and the words you use will reflect your accurate understanding of him.
There are many, many, many names for God.
He’s known as Savior, Healer, Comforter, Fortress, Rock, Strength, Provider, Friend, etc. The list can go on and on.
The Best is Ahead
Groeschel writes that it’s time to “be honest with yourself and with God.
“Do you know Him? If so, how well?
“Has God transformed you? Are you different because of Him? If not, perhaps you’re a Christian Atheist.”
But guess what? God loves you so much and earnestly wants a relationship with you.
If you don’t know Him, you can! “Getting to know God is not difficult and it isn’t about a bunch of rules. Yes, God wants your obedience, but he wants your heart even more.
He says over and over again that if you seek Him, you will find Him.
How do you find God? By reading your Bible. He’s there. Pray. He’s there.
“As you get to know him better, you will change……Instead of living for yourself and for the moment, you’ll live for Christ and for eternity. Your heart will begin to break for the reasons and causes that break God’s heart.
“Get to know God. When you do, you will never be the same.
I absolutely love this song by Matthew West. Boy, he has great songs! This one in particular speaks to me because I am prone to self-pity, regret and shame (aren’t we all?) But in reality I am a child of the King! My past doesn’t define me. Once I surrendered everything to the Lord, I became a new creation! Once I accepted his perfect gift of salvation, I became His child. THAT is my true identity!
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Hands up if you didn’t get enough restful sleep last night. I’m raising both arms. I have sleep apnea. I stop breathing 53 times an hours. Sitting in the doctor’s office, I listen as he explained that even after getting treatment for sleep apnea, I might not feel rested like many of his other patient. […]
I am currently reading two books at the moment. Some people may wonder how I can do that but hey, I’ve been known to read up to 3 books at a time. I enjoy taking a break from one subject and picking up the other book. Basically, I just love to read. 🙂 I have 4 bookshelves overflowing with books.
Anyway, the first book I’m reading is by Eric Geiger called “How to Ruin Your Life: and Starting Over When You Do.” Sounded really interesting so I had to pick it up.
It’s really good! Here’s the synopsis:
You can blow up your life.
To bring strong and tall buildings to the ground, demolition experts strategically place tiny explosives throughout the structure of a building so that the building will topple on itself. Instead of destroying the building from the outside, they destroy it from within. In the same way many great men and women have imploded, and others are well on their way.
AuthorEric Geiger offers a sobering reminder that many great and godly people have imploded, and none of us are above the risk. Looking at the story of David’s infamous implosion, readers will learn how to ruin our lives (so we won’t), and also how to find hope if we do–as all of us need His grace.
The second book I’m reading is called “The Christian Atheist” by none other than Craig Groeschel, one of my favorite authors. I’ve actually already read this book but I’m re-reading it because it’s really good!
“The more I looked, the more I found Christian Atheists everywhere.” Former Christian Atheist Craig Groeschel knows his subject all too well. After over a decade of successful ministry, he had to make a painful self admission: although he believed in God, he was leading his church like God didn’t exist. To Christians and non-Christians alike, to the churched and the unchurched, the journey leading up to Groeschel’s admission and the journey that follows—from his family and his upbringing to the lackluster and even diametrically opposed expressions of faith he encountered—will look and sound like the story of their own lives. Now the founding and senior pastor of the multi campus, pace-setting LiveChurch.tv, Groeschel personal journey toward a more authentic God-honoring life is more relevant than ever. Christians and Christian Atheists everywhere will be nodding their heads as they are challenged to take their own honest moment and ask the question: am I putting my whole faith in God but still living as if everything was up to me?
Groeschel has so many books out that I want to get. I did a review of his book “Weird” throughout many blog posts at the end of last year. You can check out the first chapter review here
I’m debating whether or not I should do another chapter by chapter review of one of these books.
What do you think? Should I do another chapter by chapter review of one of these books? If so, which one?
There was another school shooting today in Texas. My heart breaks for those who have lost loved ones.
WHEN WILL ALL OF THIS MADNESS STOP????
Well according to the Bible, it won’t end until Christ comes back. We live in a fallen world and it continues on its downward spiral into more evil each and every day.
While we do not know the day nor the hour in which Christ comes back, He does give some signs to look out for:
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you.5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Why does evil even exist? Simply put, because of Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden of Eden. The very second Eve took that bite, sin entered the world. The very moment that forbidden fruit touched their lips, it gave birth to a world of sin. Changing the world forever.
(Call me crazy but I’d like a word with Eve when I get to heaven! She had it made! She just HAD to eat that fruit! Thanks a lot, Eve!)
Because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, the lives of future generations became cursed. Women would now face the excruciating pain of childbirth. Men would experience a lifetime of hard labor.
All because curiosity got the best of them. All because they gave in to Satan’s lies and deceitfulness.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that as long as we live in this fallen world, tragedies are going to happen. Sin has overtaken this world and will remain until Christ comes back for His children. All we must do is persevere to the end. Remain faithful to Him. Fight the good fight. Finish the race.
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
2 Timothy 4:7-8
I long for His appearing…..don’t you? I’m so ready to see Him, to spend eternity with Him.
I want this blog to succeed. I really do. I want others to read it and come to know Christ as their personal Savior.
Or do I? Am I really blogging for Christ? Or am I blogging for myself and my glory?
I’m trying too hard to be something I’m not. Lately, it seems I’m trying too hard to bring glory to myself and not to God. I’m doing it without even realizing it.
Well God got my attention.
In my devotions this morning, I came across this quote from Mark Batterson
If you aren’t willing to listen to EVERYTHING God has to say, you eventually won’t hear ANYTHING He has to say.
That really got me to thinking. Am I truly listening to God when it comes to this blog? Am I listening to His still, small voice and waiting for HIS guidance on how to run this blog? Or am I only listening to bits and pieces?
Well that won’t work. I can’t just listen to the bits and pieces. I must listen to EVERYTHING God has to say.
I also realize that if I truly want to be a successful blogger, I must be committed. I can’t be halfhearted. Do I truly want this? Is blogging something I really want to do? I must decide this. More importantly, is blogging something GOD wants me to do? THAT is the question I must answer.
With my chronic illness, however, there will be days I can’t get on here. Which is why I must start blogging as much as I can on days I’m feeling my best. I’m not exactly feeling my best today but I’m fighting through the pain and through the brain fog to get this post out. Don’t get me wrong….I’m not trying to use my illness as an excuse. I’m just being realistic.
Basically it comes down to this: WHY do I blog? Am I blogging for Christ? Or am I blogging for myself?
All of us have weaknesses. It’s a part of being human. We’re going to slip up. It’s inevitable. Satan has a way of throwing our weaknesses in our face just when we least expect it, just when we think we have everything under control. He’s that sneaky. (What a jerk, am I right?)
But isn’t it great that we serve a God who is STRONG! We serve a God who accepts us for who we are, weaknesses and all. He loves us that much!
Grace wins in the end. Just putting that out there.
I thought I had a particular weakness under control until Satan decided to throw it in my face recently, causing me to stumble, reminding me how weak I truly am. I took my eyes off the Lord for just a second. For ONE second! That’s all it took! And now that weakness is threatening to consume me. That one second caused me to stumble, falling flat on my face.
But I’m reminded of the words by Mandisa in her song “Overcomer:”
You’re an overcomer
Stay in the fight ’til the final round
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it’s hopeless
That’s when he reminds you
That you’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer
Don’t quit, don’t give in
You’re an overcomer
As long as we live on this earth, we’re going to have to face our weaknesses and all the shame it may bring us. But praise Jesus, one day we will be made new in Him. One day we will be perfect and complete. And Satan will no longer be around to throw our weaknesses in our face, to laugh at us when we stumble and fall flat on our face.
We just have to keep fighting our battles until then. We have to keep our eyes on Christ. He will never cause us to stumble. But when Satan comes back around, and you know He will, if you stumble….just fall into the arms of Jesus. He overcame death on the cross so that we can overcome our weaknesses.