Letting People Off the Hook

Letting People Off the Hook

What is forgiveness? Simply stated, it is giving up my right to hurt someone else for having hurt me. Forgiveness, like the law of gravity, is one of the foundational principles God has woven into the fabric of our universe. We can choose not to forgive, just as we can choose to ignore the laws of gravity, but we do so at our own peril. Forgiveness means bestowing freedom instead of the punishment my abuser deserves. Forgiveness means giving love and understanding when the enemy expects only hatred and revenge. Forgiveness means turning over to God my desires to blame, defame, and punish my offender. I cannot be released from my offender or from the anger-arousing, shame-evoking, esteem-shattering memories connected with his/her offenses against me until I accept wholeheartedly God’s way of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a releasing, transforming experience.

Time spent tending the foul crop of hatred, resentment, and grudges is time spent in futile, senseless pain. So, hurry to forgive as soon as you are offended…before the first root of bitterness begins to take root. Even though you extend love and forgiveness to your offender, you have no guarantee that you will not receive evil in return. Jesus commanded us to love our enemies, and love is not some temporary strategy or a clever form of manipulation. Love is supposed to be the Christian’s way of life.

When we extend forgiveness and show love, we have no guarantee that our offender will repent or beg our forgiveness. But we are not responsible for the offender’s actions. We are only accountable for our own. We must beware of pressuring ourselves or others to forgive and forget. Forgiving does not change the past. Facts are facts; events happened. The past cannot be altered, but when we truly trust God’s promise that He makes all things work together for good, the meaning of the past can be changed, and the painful sting can be removed from our memories.

We must not struggle to hasten the process of healing by attempting to force forgetfulness. Stubbornly insisting that forgetting must come first is like trying to pass the final exam before you have enrolled in the course. Constantly fretting and trying to forget just short-circuits and undercuts the healing process. Although God sometimes heals instantly, removing all the pain, guilt, and grief in one miraculous moment, for most of us the healing process takes time. You and I can will ourselves to forgive, but only God can make us forget. And what is it that we forget? The memories themselves? Probably not. But God helps us forget the raw, stinging pain of those memories.

Gradually, the memories that pop into our minds begin to decrease in frequency and intensity. No longer do we constantly recall, rehash, and relive the events. Instead, as the healing process nears completion and the last of the poison is drawn from our souls, we find ourselves occasionally recalling the memories, but in a vague, detached sort of way, almost as if the experiences had happened to someone else. They no longer have the power to infect or agitate. If you have been unable to escape the pain of the past, take a moment to meditate on these beautiful words from missionary Amy Carmichael:

  • “If I say, ‘Yes, I forgive, but I cannot forget,’ as though the God, who twice a day washes all the sands on all the shores of all the world, could not wash such memories from my mind, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

Never doubt that your Good Father can perform that wonderful, cleansing work within you.

Assignment from Heaven—Repent and Stand with Israel

Assignment from Heaven—Repent and Stand with Israel

Is America in prophecy? While skeptical of attempts by many to link the United States to prophetic interpretations, after many hours of research, I am totally convinced that the U.S. can be found in prophetic Scriptures, though not mentioned directly by name. The thread began in the Old Testament with Abraham and his offspring, Isaac and Ishmael. All too often, the U.S. has tried to join hands both with Israel, a descendant of Isaac, and Arab countries, descendants of Ishmael.

The United States has endeavored to employ Israel, the tiny democratic state in the midst of a sea of instability in the Middle East, as a firewall in deterring communism, fascism, and terrorism. At the same time, we have established liaisons with Arab countries of convenience and economics. The mortal enemy of Israel brought a dowry of black gold (oil) to the marriage and uses it still today to intimidate the United States.

Israel is surrounded by enemies and must be allowed to root out the terrorist organizations that threaten. The war on terrorism will never be won as long as Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and the Palestinian territories remain points of exportation for suicide bombers. The dissemination of media propaganda that enrages the masses from adjoining Arab countries must also be stopped. True hope for peace lies in discerning truth and acting on it, not in believing myths propagated by liberal power brokers that incite Jew-hatred. There is, I believe, a direct correlation between current events in the Middle East and prophecy.

The United States is still the mightiest nation on earth and has long been a partaker of God’s blessings. During the past few decades, America has seen her culture polluted, attempted to dethrone God, and defiled her heroes. Bible-believing Americans have been demonized as bigots and extremists. God has been taken out of schools, courts, and town squares, and some have even tried to remove Him from the Pledge of Allegiance—“one nation, under God.” The same moral compromise infecting our domestic policy has also tainted our foreign policy: the U.S. sends foreign aid annually to such terrorist-harboring countries as Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, West Bank/Gaza, Indonesia, and Somalia.

If Americans do not wake up to the truth, the U.S. political machine will continue on a collision course with prophecy. Many believe there is nothing we can do about it—that if it is foretold, it must come to pass. However, we could be missing the true point of prophecy. The Bible doesn’t tell us what the future holds so that we can sit back and let disaster strike, but rather so that we can take any necessary actions to make sure we are on the prophetic side of blessing.

In the Old Testament, God often warned His people of impending disaster—not just so they would know it was coming, but to give an opportunity for repentance and restoration. It is up to God-fearing Americans willing to step out and make a difference to keep our country headed in the right direction in both domestic and foreign policy.

How to Find Encouragement

How to Find Encouragement

Encourage yourself in the Lord. In 1 Samuel 30:6, we read that although David was greatly distressed, he encouraged himself in the Lord. Let me ask you this: Who says we must depend upon each other for encouragement? The world around us is totally co-dependent; it knows nothing of the Good Father’s Word and His ability to encourage and strengthen us. There is a dynamic truth in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His Word that you learn when you are discouraged. Let me give you an example: When you die, I can’t do anything about it. No one can carry you through the valley of the shadow of death, except Jesus. This is a private matter between you and Him. You can reach out to people for support, but there is a great difference in having a support system and being co-dependent. Encourage yourself in the Lord.

Ephesians 3:16 says, “That he would grant YOU, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.” Verse 20 says, “Now unto HIM that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us”(capitalization added). One of the main reasons some Christians live in continual defeat is because they are ignorant regarding the sovereignty of Christ. They have not developed an intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ. They do not walk and talk with Him. How can you encourage yourself in the Lord? The only way is to spend time with Him.

You cannot be encouraged in the Lord if you are not nurturing your relationship with Him. You encourage yourself when you are walking with the Lord. If you are going to walk in the kingdom of God on a daily basis, you cannot make the church or any individual your source. You cannot make your wife or your husband your source. No one can be your source but the Lord. If you make the Lord your Source, you will have a breakthrough. Encourage yourself.

Get alone and begin quoting Scripture and saying the same thing that God says about you. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; they are not rejection, a bitter attitude, or a desire to play childish games with people. Love will begin to flow from you—unconditional love. There will be peace, contentment that comes when you are settled, a sense of calm, a quietness or stillness in your spirit—and there will be strength. Why? You have encouraged yourself in the Lord. You have built yourself up by your relationship with Jesus.

A Loving Father

A Loving Father

What was your first memory of your father? Was he a good, kind, loving father, or was he cold, unloving, and abusive? My father was away from home a lot, and when home, he was all too often in a drunken rage. When I was a small child, we moved into the Projects, Duggan Park, at Paige Boulevard and Godwin Street in Indian Orchard, Massachusetts. The buildings had been erected in the fall of 1951, mostly for veterans returning from World War II and who had little income.

Like many such housing developments, crime, drugs, and appalling violence pervaded Duggan Park. I remember the first week after we moved into our place: Our next-door neighbor hanged himself in desperation. We never went to bed hungry because Dad brought home food that he had scavenged from the local dump. He was working there at the time, and when food was thrown away, he would collect it.

My father did not believe I was his son and violently abused me, two times almost killing me. The second time, I awoke in a fetal position covered in my own dried vomit and crying out, “Why was I born?” My first thoughts of God were exactly the same as those of my earthly father: an angry, mean, judgmental entity whom I could never please and who would just as soon cast me into hell as not. When you have no memories of a good father, how can you embrace Father God and trust Him to be a Good Father?

Hopefully, you have not endured the physical or emotional pain that I have. You may, however, have experienced rejection and been wounded. It may be difficult for you to view God as a Good Father. My prayer is that God will open your eyes and spirit to how beloved and cherished you are.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. —1 John 3:1-2

Why Jerusalem Matters

Why Jerusalem Matters

We are celebrating the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel because Jerusalem matters. It is vital to God’s plan for the past, present, and future of our world. All of the land, including Jerusalem, was a gift from Jehovah, and the ownership of Israel’s land is non-negotiable. In March 2002, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) addressed the issue of Israel’s right to her land: “Every new archaeological dig supports the fact that the Jews have had a presence in Israel for 3,000 years—coins, cities, pottery, other cultural artifacts. The Jews’ claim predates the claim of any other people in the region. The ancient Philistines are extinct as are other ancient peoples. They do not have the unbroken line the Israelis have. Ownership is and will be in the hands of God’s Chosen People—forever.”

When you sign your name to a check, you represent that you possess the amount indicated on that check. God wrote His Name in Jerusalem, and He has the power and authority over that which His name represents. Several arguments have been offered as to why Palestinian Authority head, Mahmoud Abbas, continues to reject any and all offers of a Palestinian State. Chiefly, formal statehood would limit the ability of the PA (and of Hamas in Gaza) to commit acts of terrorism. It would rob them of the cover they now enjoy when it comes to terrorist acts against the Jewish people in Israel. It is obvious when at some point in each round of negotiations, the Palestinians cry foul, pick up their marbles, and go home.

To this day, the same countries trying to foist a Palestinian state off on Israel do not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Holy City is the symbol of all that Israel represents in our world. Teddy Kollek, Jerusalem’s first mayor, wrote: “Jerusalem, this beautiful, golden city, is the heart and soul of the Jewish people. One cannot live without a heart and soul. If you want one single word to symbolize all of Jewish history, that word is Jerusalem.”

The very name of the Holy City evokes a stirring in the heart and soul of both Jew and Christian. It has been called by many names: City of God, City of David, Zion, the City of the Great King, Ariel (Lion of God), Moriah (chosen of the Lord). But only one name resonates down through the centuries—Jerusalem! David’s city!

A world map drawn in 1581 features Jerusalem at its very center with the then-known continents of the world surrounding it. It resembles a ship’s propeller with the shaft in the center being Jerusalem. Jerusalem belongs to God despite the detractors who wish to offer the city up as an appeasement to her avowed enemies. Satan would dance gleefully should Israel be forced to make that move. When the Messiah returns, it will be to the City of David, not to al Quds (the Arabic name for Jerusalem.) This is why we are the Jerusalem Prayer Team—the largest prayer movement in history—dedicated to fighting the spirit war for the future of the Holy City, the Jewish people, and the nation of Israel.