Monday, June 30, 2014

Forgiveness

Matthew 6:14-15 says, for if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
The other day in my communication and conflict class at TAMU we had reached our last chapter, which is titled, The Practice of Forgiveness and Reconciliation. Going into class I was not looking forward to having to spend a whole hour and a half talking about forgiveness, but it actually turned into quite an interesting debate over what the true definition of forgiveness is, whether or not it is required for somebody to forgive, and then we had a few examples of different situations that have happened in the past which we broke down further to see what was correct.
So what is forgiveness? In my textbook the authors do not give a specific definition, but rather a few bullet points on what the idea of forgiveness is. These are: “You are focused on the present after reflecting deeply on the past. You desire to be free of negative patterns that reduce the quality of your life. You are willing to do your own interior work, regardless of what the other person is able or willing to do." While these are all good ideas of what forgiveness is, I feel like William Faulkner gave a good definition in that “forgiveness is giving up the idea of a better past.” Deep, I know.
 After talking to some of my family members over this topic I was able to figure out a deeper understanding that we simply cannot forgive on our own. Yes, you can easily forgive somebody for stealing your pencil, but when it comes to a major event or situation that has just taken place, we have to be willing to extend forgiveness and pray to God for help to help us have peace again. This sort of goes into the next discussion that we had which was whether or not forgiveness is required. Growing up in a Christian home I have always been taught to forgive the person for whatever they have done, but I have never thought about digging deeper and trying to figure out where this came from. The main reason that I began to think about forgiveness was a comment that was made in class. My professor was telling us a story about how during this class in an actual semester (instead of a summer course) she was able to bring in a Jewish Rabbi, a Muslim priest (Imam Khatib, the technical name), a Christian pastor, and an atheist for a discussion panel over forgiveness. During this discussion, the Christian pastor was asked whether or not forgiveness was required. She responded saying that it was not required and forgiveness is a personal thing; that it does not affect God or your relationship with Him. This comment bothered me very badly. I immediately pulled up Matthew 6:14-15 and read it to my class. I did not understand why the Christian pastor would say that.
As Christians we cannot pick and choose things from the Bible to believe. Either you believe it all or you don’t. Now my response received mixed emotions from my classmates so I turned to my parents once I got home for some Godly advice. Both of my parents were proud of me for sticking up for my beliefs and my dad continued to reinforce my statement by giving his own examples. He reminded me of the many verses that tell us to be imitators of Christ. He went on giving examples of different times that Jesus forgave others, specifically the time that Jesus was on the cross and forgave the thief that was beside him. My mom took things from a different perspective in saying that forgiveness is required by Christians, especially if you want to have peace within. As a Christian we do not need to withhold forgiveness from anybody no matter how big the situation. However, you are not dismissing or minimizing what the other person did to you, just completely forgiving them the way Christ forgave us.
My final story will be one that I believe my textbook was wrong in. One story that my textbook uses as an example that forgiveness is supposedly not required or even necessary happened in 2001. It describes one day a woman was with her two children and they were all brutally assaulted by a man who ended up killing the two children and almost killing the woman. A couple years later while the man was in jail he was able to find Jesus and accept Him into his life and sent an apology to the woman asking for her forgiveness. The woman proceeded to ask different people in her religious community if she was required to forgive the man. The final consensus that she received was that she was not obligated or required to forgive this man. I cannot imagine the pain and suffering this woman went through but I have a few problems with the result of this situation. First I believe that we as Christians should have been praying to God for constant peace instead of trying to find it in people in her community. Another thing is that I believe that she should have forgiven the man. It is not something that she would have been able to do naturally by herself, but that is where God comes in. Beth Moore said it best, “Forgiveness takes faith. Some of the people you are forgiving are not sorry,” but “I’m going to believe in God to make it right.” It is not humanly possible to be able to forgive somebody that has taken a loved one, but that is when we need to put our faith in God the most and trust that he will give you peace that surpasses all understanding and give you the strength to be able to forgive the person.

I pray that each day we remember that Christ came as our example and that we are able to fully trust Him with all of our problems, while thanking Him everyday for what we have been given. All in all, in order to be a Christian, I believe that it is required to forgive. “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it” (James 2:10).


Thank you Lord for your blessings on me. I pray that I never take you for granted and that I can continue to grow into the person you want me to be. Help me to become more like you so people can see You in everything I do. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

The End of What?

     For those of you that do not know, I have been attending Covenant Family Church here in College Station since I moved here about a year and a half ago. I have truly loved getting to hear the Word from such an amazing pastor as well as getting to worship with some of the best people I know. About three months ago I started to volunteer with the youth group at CFC and have been blessed beyond measure since. I currently lead more or less 12 boys ranging from sixth to ninth grade. Every week I get to mentor and hang out with these kids which sometimes can put a lot of pressure on me in a sense that I need to be a perfect role model for them even though that I know this is impossible. Some days I don’t always feel like I want to go to youth because of all the classes I’m taking, but as soon as I get there I am always in awe of the ways God is using these kids to transform my life.
     Yesterday at church I was helping with Revo Jr. (our youth services on Sundays) when one of my students asked me if we could have a message on Revelations. This kind of took me by surprise because most teenagers that I know do not read their bibles, let alone ask to hear a message over a specific chapter like Revelations. This stuck in my mind all day to the point where it was making me really interested in re-reading Revelations and trying to get a better understanding to be able to help this guy. When I went to bed last night I had a horrible nightmare that involved a certain leader, Obama, becoming the antichrist and all sorts of strange things that are talked about in Revelations. Yes, it was a little comedic, but at the same time I was legitimately scared while I was asleep because we are getting closer and closer each day to this chapter being fulfilled.
     2nd Timothy 3:1-5 says “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” I do believe that we are near the end of times and that each and every person needs to be doing all in his or her power to spread the news of our Savior. You would not want to pass by a family member or friend and have them have to suffer through hell on Earth because you didn’t want to invite them to church or have a conversation about Jesus with them. I encourage anybody who reads this to ask a friend to church, and if they say no keep asking every week because the time you stop asking could be the time that they need it the most.
     As for my nightmare that I had, I have to remind myself that I do not need to be scared of anything. Yes, bad things are going to happen, but I have Jesus on my side so I don’t have to worry about anything! The book of Psalms is full of versus for not being afraid with Psalm 27:1 being one of my favorites. Who knows, we might have out next blog post over Psalms and fear. Until next time!


Thank you Lord for your blessings on me. I pray that I never take you for granted and that I can continue to grow into the person you want me to be. Help me to become more like you so people can see You in everything I do.