Tag Archives: Forgiveness

Suicide

This morning a friend asked me to address suicide and my thoughts on this topic.

It’s a very personal topic for me.

My niece took her life several years ago and the thoughts of her are still near to all of us.  Suicide leaves questions for those have chosen it and for us left behind.

Why did they do it?  Was their life that bad?  How could they leave us like that?  And for us left behind, will the pain ever diminish?

As one author described it “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”  If only they had asked for help, if only they had waited till morning, if only…..but all we have are unanswered questions that leave us empty and hurting.

And, in the area of faith and eternity these questions arise,

Is suicide a sin?

Can someone who commits suicide be forgiven?

Many have written that this is an unforgivable sin because we don’t have an opportunity to repent of it.  It’s a final choice, taking our lives into our own hands, leaving us no opportunity to repent.

One wrote that this situation leaves the person without forgiveness…doomed.

But let me address this topic in light of what Jesus did on the cross.
(Let me make clear that I’m speaking in reference to a Christian who would take their life.  If we are speaking of a person who hasn’t trusted Christ we have a completely different discussion to work on.)

Here are a series of questions that will help us get to some basic answers, are you ready?  (If you want all the scripture references do ask, but I’m leaving them out for the sake of brevity.)

1. When Jesus died on the cross how many of our sins did he die for?  If you know the bible the answer has to be “all of them”.  (Do you remember his last words? “It is finished.”  The total price was paid….it’s called “grace”.)

Hebrews tells us Christ died “once for all.”  (7:27, 10:10, 12, 14) What that means is that he made one sacrifice for all men, for all time, for all sins.

2. Now, if he died for all sins, when he died how many of your sins were still future?  If you’re thinking you have to respond, “all of them!”

3. So, when you trusted him as savior how many of your sins did he forgive?  You can see where I’m going, can’t you?  Again, you will have to reply, “all of them!”

I’m sure you are asking what does this have to do with suicide?  But be patient, we will get there….you can’t deal with such a difficult issue so easily.

One person wrote that when you commit suicide you don’t have a chance to repent and they are right, but based on what I have asked you already, what does repentance have to do with forgiveness?

Did you understand the implications of what I just asked?  IF you have trusted Christ then all your sins, past, present and future are forgiven already.  All of them!  Even my last choice of taking my own life.

Some will quote 1 John 1:9 in this discussion.  I’ve heard it many times as a response to grace, but read this verse in context and you will see it’s a once for all verse-  “he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from ALL unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9 fits perfectly with what we have discussed already.

Repentance is important, but it’s a response to forgiveness, not a way of getting it.  Forgiveness was done at the moment you trusted Christ.  Repentance is the right response on my part to sin and deals with my relationship with God, not my forgiveness.

Am I giving approval to those thinking about suicide? Not at all!

God forbid!

It’s a sad, terrible, painful choice that scars those left behind….but for the one who has chosen, in that dark moment, to take their own life and not trust God with the days ahead, they will still find themselves with the Lord, forgiven of sin, regretting their final choice to not trust God with the situation they faced.

Is a Christian who commits suicide forgiven and in heaven? YES!

Do they regret their choice? YES!  Because, in light of eternity, they realize they didn’t wait to see what God could do with their terrible situation.

I’m sure my niece wishes she could undo her choice, but she can’t and we live with the pain….missing her daily.

Are you thinking about taking your own life?  Please don’t!  Get help, tell someone, wait till morning…you will never regret the choice to trust God, but for the dear saint who is so broken that they sin and commit suicide you will see them in heaven.  And we will rejoice at a wonderful savior who provides all we need, even when our last choice is the worse one of all.

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Forgiveness

What should we do when people to whom we have given our trust betray that trust?

Should we be angry and refuse to trust those people again?

What if our car breaks down, causing us great frustration and inconvenience? Do we not take the proper steps to fix it so we can drive it again? If we can’t get it fixed…..do we never drive a car again because it might break down? Will our anger from that instance of failure  continue to cause us frustration by keeping us from wanting to have another car? Will that anger make us feel any better as we walk everywhere?

We may be justified in not trusting a car again, but does that really solve the issue at hand or just make us feel more justified in our anger?

Could it be possible that the person who let us down is really a good person, but made a mistake unintentionally? If so, wouldn’t we be hurting ourselves if we refused to trust that someone again? After all, we must have thought they were good people before they made a mistake, so isn’t there a chance that they are still a good person?

It would seem that the best way to solve an issue, would be to first let the anger and disappointment of that situation go….

We need to ask ourselves.……is the reason we are having a difficult time forgiving someone the result of not being able to come to terms with the issue at hand? It seems that if we are able to free ourselves of these negative emotions and first solve the situation, then it really wouldn’t be that hard to forgive the person or persons involved….

If we refuse to forgive and never trust a person again, are we possibly robbing ourselves of real growth? Could it be that the solution to solving a particular issue lies with the very person we refuse to forgive?

If you made a mistake, would you want your friends to give up on you?

Seems that is what forgiveness is all about….

God forgave you didn’t he?

 

Alone

AloneOne of the grim realities of life is that we are alone. In the middle of a busy city with others all around we are alone.
This “aloneness” is one of the results of the fall, but is mostly ignored by writers. We simply don’t talk about it. Man, designed to be in constant relationship with God who made him is now thrust into the world empty, alone, isolated. Even with thousands around us we all have sensed this truth…we are alone.
In God’s amazing plan of redemption his intentions were to deal with more than one problem in the cross. Clearly the Christian world knows about his resolution of the sin issue. Without a doubt we all know about God’s redemption accomplished by Christ, the forgiveness of sin, the restored relationship, the promise of eternity, but what we don’t talk about is the resolution of man’s isolation problem.
Part of God’s plan in redemption was to bring us back into a relationship with him. We use those words so easily, but don’t realize what they mean. One of our major problems caused by sin is our isolation. We are alone! God’s plans included the restoration of how he designed us to be. His plans included the repair of this breach. Here is what Jesus says about this plan,
John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.’ 22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, ‘But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?’ 23 Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
“We will come to him and make our home with him.” Did you see that? In God’s amazing plan of salvation he also plans to resolve our aloneness. He resolves it by coming to us and living with us. Suddenly, we are no longer alone. In a moment of time the great ache of the heart is resolved. Human beings, designed to be in constant fellowship with God, through Christ, are restored to that relationship. God with us, living in us, our hope of glory. This truth is profound and immensely important. If we miss this we miss all that God has done. No longer alone….what an amazing and wonderful part of God’s redemptive work.

Extreme Grace

I am thrilled to know and experience the grace of God.  It’s absolutely life changing once you know what God has done for us.

One of the great tragedies of the church in our day is the fear so many have of grace.  They fear what might happen if people really knew they were completely forgiven, loved and part of heaven even now.  That security, for some, is just too good to be true. There must be a trick up God’s sleeve somewhere.  He can’t really mean that we already have everything and can never lose it.  There must be something we have to do, some work, some duty that will let us make our relationship and eternity sure, but there isn’t….it’s absolutely and totally free, available by faith alone and will last forever!
But grace is even more extreme than you think it is.  It’s outrageous and foolish from man’s viewpoint.  In his love God provided for all of mankind a free gift of forgiveness, redemption, salvation, security, eternity with him, and peace now…if they would simply accept his gift by faith.
You have to know I haven’t gotten to the extreme part yet.  Here it is, are you ready?  God has made it possible for us to be his sons, his daughters!  Imagine, a son of God.  That is so crazy I can’t even understand what that

looks like! But there’s more….he’s also given each of his children HIS Spirit to dwell in them, lead them, help them, and be with them….are you ready….forever.  When the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, takes up residence in us he promises to never leave.  We are men and women indwelt by the God who made us for all eternity!
More?  Ok, here we go…there is nothing you can do, good or bad…ever, to lose what he has given you.  You cannot lose his gifts to you if you have received them.  They are yours by faith alone and eternally yours….you can never be lost.  An eternal, indwelt by the Spirit of God, child of God.  More? We are destined to live with God and be part of his eternal kingdom.  Priests and Kings he calls us.  Children of God he describes us.  The names and provisions would fill pages, more than I have room to speak of here, but his grace extended to us is extreme at the far end of the scale.
The work of God in grace could fill volumes!  It’s not just a “saving grace”, although it is that, it’s an extreme grace that completely changes everything about our lives here and our eternity ahead.
But sadly many have made this wonderful grace a small thing.  They fear what believers might do if they knew.  The tragedy is that if they knew they would fall more deeply in love with God and lean in closer to know him better.  Let’s talk about this extreme grace to those we know and celebrate the amazing love of God in his provision for us. It is a wonderfully glorious magnificent extreme grace!
Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Never Alone

My heart is amazed at just how big this world is and how technology can keep us in touch with those who have moved away from us.  But sometimes, my heart is even more amazed at just how alone we can feel even though people are close to us physically as well as through technology. 

We often feel alone when:

  • The pain in the night is unbearable
  • The silence is deafening
  • Friends should rejoice with us but are envious
  • Family squabbles become bitter feuds
  • The darkness engulfs us
  • The well deserved promotion is shot down by assumptions
  • No one understands
  • Everyone says they understand but act as if they could care less
  • We’ve tried a million times but continue to feel like a failure
  • We’ve asked for forgiveness but there is no hope of receiving it
  • Good news is overshadowed by great hurt

You’ve probably been there and felt as if your prayers were going no further than the ceiling.  Let me remind you that not only does your Heavenly Father hear those cries, they matter to Him.  He hears you and cares about what your heart is feeling.

The time you feel completely alone is when you typically withdraw and close your heart off to the world.  Worse than that, you close your Bible and think; I don’t even know what to pray, so why bother and you let isolation MOVE YOU from your Father’s side.

God never moves from us.  We move from Him.  But, even when we stray, move or completely ignore Him…we are never alone.

What verses do you wrap yourself in when you feel completely alone?

Please leave them below and encourage those that are feeling completely alone.

 

I Know You’re There

2 Chronicles 13:12
And, behold, God himself is with us 

2 Chronicles 32:8
With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles.

 

 

You’re Not alone

 

 

Deut 31:6  Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

 

God With Us

 

 

Lamentations 3:24-25 

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;

 

The Father Effect

 

A wonderful part of being in this world as a ChristianRep, is we get to meet a lot of new people from across the globe and sometimes right in our own back yard. One recent new friend on Twitter is John Finch – @johnpfinch.

John is creating his very first full-length documentary telling his own life story of growing up without a father, the wound and the resulting incredible effect left in the wake of forgiveness. With John as narrator, his film is set to tell the story of how growing up without a father has shaped his life as a boy, a man, and a father.

His documentary, The Father Effect, is set to be a long reaching look into the lives of children who will grow to be adults one day soon, and will live out the effect of their father’s impact. Simply and directly, it is a story that needs to be told for the sake of families now and in the future.

As children of God, we have a heavenly Father always there for us and loving us. This film is for those who may still feel the wounds left from having an earthly father who may have fallen far short of God’s expectations.

Here is the short story – now on film.  TheFatherEfffect.

 

Abounding Grace

God’s grace is a big deal to me. It’s the most important thing to understand in all that God has provided in Christ. Many, by not understanding it, have resorted to works to please God and frankly God is not at all pleased by that response.
He has provided grace and wants us to live in it, but few understand its implications, even fewer are comfortable with how that is lived out. If you want to know a bit about what God has done and what it means in your life here are Paul’s words in Romans 5 about that grace,

15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

Abounding grace. That very phrase should make you want to know what that means, what’s the implications, why did it need to abound? Grace is one of God’s most profound works, and one that few are comfortable with. It means that in Christ God has done all that needs to be done for us to please him. There’s nothing more to do to find favor with God. If you have trusted Christ as savior you are his child, his son or daughter and you DO please him. He not only loves you he actually likes you just as you are right now. His grace has abounded above all your need and provided everything required to bring us into relationship with God, to provide forgiveness of sin, to give us security for eternity, to do all that needed to be done so there is nothing left for us to do.

Books have been written on this topic. I know in these few paragraphs I will not satisfy many hearts and minds with answers, there’s simply too much to discuss, but there is a reality in our Christian world that needs to be resolved- Do you believe it’s all been done or do you believe there’s more that you must do? It’s one or the other.
I know, as I write this, that many are saying, “Yeah, but….” And here begins the discussion about what I must do. Frankly, to please God there is nothing you can do. All that was needed to please God was done by Christ at the cross. The harsh reality of grace is this- there is NOTHING you can do to please God other than to say “yes” to the grace he has already provided.

Justice says I get what I deserve. Mercy says I don’t get what I deserve, but grace says in Christ I get what I don’t deserve. In this abounding grace I come to God and find that by simply trusting Christ I please God! That’s it. Nothing more to do. Grace says it’s all been done already. My response? Worship. Praise. A life that obeys him, but these are all just responses. They merit nothing for my salvation. That’s been done. Now, all that I do is respond to grace and in that response I find God’s joy.

Many in our culture call this simple idea “cheap grace,” but what they don’t understand is that it must be this way. If any of my works, my deeds, my performance for God are part of grace it’s a statement to the world that what Christ did on the cross wasn’t enough. When he said, “it’s finished” he just didn’t understand. You can’t have it both ways. Either he did it all or he didn’t. And if he did it all then your only response it to simply say “yes” to his gift and bask in that grace.

Abounding grace….abounding far above my need, abounding far above my understanding, grace to do for each of us what we could never do on our own.

Today I joyfully rejoice in God’s abounding grace to me!

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Thankful a little longer

 

May I take the Thanksgiving theme a little further? One day is simply not enough for me to say thanks for God’s love, goodness and faithfulness to us. I can’t help myself, but must talk about it a little more. Will you indulge me for a moment longer?

I’m thankful to God for who he is, who he shows himself to be- good, loving and faithful. Those attributes show up in our world in three ways, 1. what he has done, 2. what he’s doing now, and 3. what he will do in the future. All three declare to a watching world that God is good, loving and faithful to his creation. Here are a few of the things I have noted in these thoughts. There are many more, but this will be enough for this post. Continue reading Thankful a little longer

Boundless Love

I’ve been thinking about the love of God lately and how He chooses to use me, a shy backwards little girl that grew up wanting a Christian family of her very own. Our finite minds could never grasp just how much God truly loves us, but if you think with me for a moment, maybe – just maybe you’ll get a glimpse of how great Gods Love for His children really is.

When trying to fathom how marvelous Gods love for me is, the only thing in this world I can compare it to is the love a Mother has for her child.  

  • Unconditional Love – A Mother is filled with unconditional love for her child from the moment she confirms that she is pregnant. If she is hoping to be pregnant, that love is apparent before confirmation. At this point in our tiny life, in the womb of our Mother – she loves us, no matter what.  God’s love for us as His children was deep in his heart before he even created the foundations of the world.  John 17:24 says “for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” It’s an unconditional love.
  • Never Ending Love – A Mother’s love is never ending. It goes without saying that no matter how much we hurt our moms, how far we stray, how we disappoint them time and time again, she loves us – ALWAYS.  We can ask for forgiveness a million times and the answer is always yes. We can make promise after promise and then choose to break them and still, she is there – waiting to forgive us every time. We can break her loving heart into a million pieces and still, the love she has for us will never end.  Ps. 36:5 reminds us that His love & mercy are never ending. Jeremiah 31:3 says “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.” Not only does He love us with an everlasting love, but he will always draw us to himself.  We just need to be willing to go to Him when he draws us.
  • Desires the Best for us – Mothers, by instinct have a desire to make sure their children have the best they can give.  The best clothes, toys, food, friends and the absolute best future.  Which is why Moms devote countless hours of praying, working, molding, guiding and even shoving towards what we know will help their child succeed.  Mothers want their children to make the best choices, even if it means enduring the heart break of sitting back and watching them fall off the swing set after we’ve told them a million times not to stand in it and swing.  God’s love for us to have the best is so much greater than even this. In Matt 10:29-31, God reminds us that He takes care of the sparrows, that not one falls to the ground with out his knowing AND that even though he takes time to take care of such matters, that HE loves us more than even this. His ultimate desire for us is a Mansion in Heaven that HE is preparing for us.  Not just another home, room or house – a Mansion! He gives us wisdom in Proverbs, to make decisions, he gives us courage in Psalms – reminding us that He is with us. His desire for us is to give us the very desire of our heart. Ps. 37:4 “Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” God truly desires the best for us!
  • Always Willing to Forgive – This almost goes along with never ending love, but I can’t stress it enough. Mothers will forgive their child time and time again. Knowing the pain we’ve caused, knowing the hurt we’ve caused, risking even more hurt by trusting. God forgives us more than that.  Because of His amazing sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our sins, He is willing to forgive us when we ask.  Does this give us a license to go out and do wrong simply because we can beg forgiveness? No. If we truly love our Heavenly Father (just as we love our earthly Mother) we will want to keep the relationship right. We will want to keep moving closer to them, instead of doing wrong and moving farther away.  If our relationship is right, we will not want our Mother or our Heavenly Father to have to forgive us of anything.
  • Willing to Sacrifice Individual Desires for Child – Mothers will do without a new Easter dress, dessert, new clothes, perfume, sleep, comfort, warmth, happiness and coolness for her child.  She will endure pain, suffering, discomfort, fear, loneliness, sadness, horror and do things for her child she would never consider doing for anyone else. She will fight the fiercest, hairiest spider, wade through trash for the lost treasure, drive through raging storms to get last minute items needed to please their child. No sacrifice is too great.  I John 4:14 reminds us that the Father sent the Son to be the savior of the world.  God sacrificed HIS only son for us on the cross, just so that we could live as joint heirs in heaven with Him. God endured the agony of watching His only son be beaten for our sins, be tortured beyond recognition, being mocked and spit upon. God gave up the comforts of Heaven, the continual praise of the angels and the adoration of all the saints so that He could become man in the flesh, endure every trial, struggle and pain that we go through – all because he LOVES us so.
  • Willing to Sacrifice Her Very Life – A mother will protect her child at all costs.  She would fight off an attacker, be mauled by a pit bull, step between the barrel of a gun and her child with NO hesitation.  Risk her life without thought of her own being for her child.  As Jesus was crucified on the cross for our sins, God knew what having our sins on His son would do for the perfect relationship they had always had.  Yet, the sacrifice had to be made because He loves us.  As  our sins were placed upon him and the sky turned black – God, our Father had to turn his back on his ONLY son.  He had to sacrifice that perfect relationship with His son – all because he LOVES us.  The ultimate sacrifice.  The gift of eternal life from the gift of His very son’s life.

When you gaze into your child’s face and think of just how much you love and adore him/her and your heart is bursting with amazing desires and great love, know that as God looks down from Heaven as our Father, His love for you is so much greater than the love you are feeling in your heart.  As you ponder how much your very own Mother loves you, try to see just a small glimpse of the extraordinary love that God has for us.  We can never fully comprehend His amazing love for us, but looking at the love and desire our mother has in her heart, we get to see a small piece of Gods Heart for us.

Try to image everyday, how much God loves you.  Remind yourself that He is always there, no matter what the journey is. If you are on the mountain top, His love is wrapped around you, if you are struggling – making your way through the valley, His love is still wrapped around you.  Always.

{{HUGS}} yall

@spreadingJOY