Let Go

What Forgiveness is Not

“And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?” – Luke 18:7 On this Veterans Day, we are grateful for those who have served our nation and fought for our freedoms. May God bless you and your families.  Today we continue our series on forgiveness. Many of us misunderstand what forgiveness is, so the thought of letting go of the wrongs done to us sounds awful, even painful. However, it’s important to know that when we talk about not holding onto offense, we are not pretending that nothing ever happened. I talked to my mentor (who’s also a therapist), Bill Gaultiere, about this years ago, and he shared with me three things that forgiveness is not. I think it’s important to understand these before we talk about what forgiveness really is.  First of all,

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Seventy Times Seven

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’ ” – Matthew 18:21,22 Today, we continue examining forgiveness. Did you know that in Jesus’ day, Rabbis used to teach that you forgive your brother three times and that’s it. Although it sounds absolute, this is one of the reasons I like Jewish Rabbis — they are very clear — three times only, no more and no less. When Jesus came along, he began teaching that you forgive more than three times, which was quite a controversial thing!  Peter, Jesus’ disciple who is known for being exuberant and impetuous, was the first one we know of who specifically inquired of Jesus about the matter of forgiveness. Thinking of himself as being very generous,

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God Has an Idea

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19 I remember when Shepherd’s Grove was located in St. Callistus in Garden Grove, California. We were looking for a way out of our lease, which was very expensive and crushing our ministry. We could not afford it and had no place to go. As we attempted to buy the building, our landlord had already sold it but didn’t inform us. Because our landlord contract gave us the first right of refusal, we could have easily pursued legal action, but we chose not to. We didn’t think that was a good or wise use of our time or money. I took the landlord’s actions as a sign that maybe God had something else in store. Pastor Russ had been in conversation with the former pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church and

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The Gift of Surrender

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” – Romans 12:18,19 How do you feel about your boss? I’m guessing that a few of you have inspiring, fair and all-around great bosses. I’ve experienced this and wouldn’t you agree it makes a world of difference? When you work at a job with people you admire and whom you enjoy seeing, you are blessed more than most! But what if the opposite is true? How do you handle it if you have authoritarian figures in your life who take advantage of their position and attempt to keep you from carrying out your responsibilities? I’ve had this experience as well.  As hard as we may try to

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Daily Victory

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’” – 1 Corinthians 1:18,19 There’s no doubt that the times we’re living in are challenging. In the past eighteen months, we’ve dealt with things we previously couldn’t have fathomed, and our faith, principles, and beliefs have been tested. That said, there’s never been a better time than now to focus on the upside-down nature of God’s Kingdom. The teachings of Jesus are a source of hope and illumination, and when we’re facing adversity, only He can truly bring about triumph. However, in order to see His best manifest, we must apply ourselves to some pretty counterintuitive principles. First of all, we must recognize that

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Move Forward

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13,14 One Sunday, when I first started in a pastoral role at Hour of Power, I gave a message on moving forward. After I finished preaching, I quickly changed out of my suit and into a t-shirt, shorts, and flip flops and headed to downtown Orange, California, where I was pastoring another church. I started my 1999 Toyota Camry, which had over 200,000 miles and a ceiling that was beginning to sag, and as I was pulling out of the parking lot of the Crystal Cathedral, a horrible sound came from my car. Unfortunately, my transmission had gone

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Prepare Your Hands

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?” – James 2:14 In addition to preparing our minds and our hearts, the third action we should embrace as we welcome God’s plan for our future is to ready our hands. Just as Jewish worshippers washed their hands during Mikvah as a way of asking the Lord to purify their deeds, so we, as those who are seeking His will for our lives, should invite Him to make right the things that we do. Since our actions flow from what we most value, the more our hearts are transformed into the likeness of Jesus, the easier it is to act in a manner that reflects His priorities. But certain habits and hangups can linger, even after the Lord tells us that they are not His best. Because

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Let Go of Your Guilt

“How much more then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” -Hebrews 9:14

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