"Forgiveness: Why it Matters.”
Editorial Note: Forgiveness that most of us are required to give or receive may be of a different nature than the following account. However, the end result of any type of forgiveness is the same. There is healing for the person who is doing the forgiving. God is so gracious to grant that to us.
You are about to get a glimpse into one woman’s personal story about forgiveness - how she came to extend forgiveness to someone who had sexually abused her when she was a child. This is not everyone’s story, yet there may be some of you who have had similar experiences. We encourage you to not suffer in silence or alone; there are resources and support available to you. Please reach out and access them.
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew 6:14, (NIV)
Forgiveness is a topic that not everyone enjoys talking about. It makes us think. Choices that have been made in life, whether it affects our life directly or not, places us in situations or circumstances where forgiveness needs to be addressed. Maybe we are not ready to look “in the mirror” and see what the reflection is telling us to do or what direction God is telling us to go.
Google gives the definition of forgiveness as “the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offence. The offence may not be forgotten yet forgiven.”
I like this definition as it says that forgiveness is intentional (on purpose) and it’s a voluntary process (it’s our choice and it can take a while). Forgiveness can be instantaneous!
As believers, one of God’s amazing gifts to us is His son who died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. We talk about that as salvation or forgiveness of sins.
Why does that matter? It brings purpose for us to walk a holy life with and for God. God forgives us of our sin, yet we struggle with sin and the shame that it has brought to our lives. We often find that we need to forgive "ourselves" and the choices we have made in the past, and it becomes a part of the process of working out our salvation.
Jesus’ story is about believing by faith in someone we cannot physically see. When Jesus said in Luke 23:34, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do...”, this was at the time when He was dying on the cross. Pause and think about that scene for a moment.
When you imagine the scene, is He still on the cross? Or is the cross empty like the ones often displayed in churches?
I try to picture the scene on the day HE was there suffering for our sins. I know that I can’t see it all, but I try. I see the cross as the ultimate display of FORGIVENESS.
When I was growing up, I used to listen to a song that identifies with the topic of forgiveness; I still often think about the lyrics that went like this: “He knew me, yet He loved me”. This song talks about how if it were only for me, Jesus would have still died on the cross because He knew me, yet He loved me. Have you ever wondered that for yourself? Would Jesus have died for just "you alone" on the cross? This question can produce strong feelings and conviction all at the same time.
Forgiveness evokes many questions such as, do we forgive on the basis of feeling and emotion or by choice and being obedient to what God tells us in Scripture. What chapter and verse do we find that?
Forgiveness and why it matters is a question, I believe that many of us have to deal with in our lives. Perhaps you are dealing with someone or something that requires forgiveness - either giving or receiving? What is your story?
Jesus’ story of forgiveness was shared in the Bible for a purpose. Does the forgiveness that is needed in your life hold a purpose?
My story is one of childhood sexual abuse at the ages of 11-13 within a church setting that happened many years ago. I had to deal with this because God brought the situation to a point where the abuser needed to come to a place of accountability. He needed forgiveness. Did I wake up one day and say, “He is forgiven Father.” No, I did not. It was a journey of healing and a testimony of God’s faithfulness because through that journey, I came to realize that the LIFE-GIVER (Jesus) did not abandon me.
God gives us purpose and sometimes that purpose includes forgiving others for the wrong that they have done in our lives. Wrong choices that have affected our lives, caused us pain and suffering. Because of free will, given to us by God, we often make sinful choices. These choices harm us, but we know that our God is bigger than our mistakes and He can turn our situations around and give us new life. He is the life giver and remember He doesn't abandon us!
One of the choices in my life that still has repercussions today and that I continually talk with God about is “keeping secrets”. It was a big part of my life for a long time, a learned behaviour that became a part of my identity. God knew every detail, but I was “keeping this secret” from everyone. Someone made a wrong choice and changed the course of my life. Yes, I have the ability to change how that affects my life now. Through God’s grace, my secret was brought to light. That’s what God is about. Bringing light to the dark areas of life which results in progressive healing in His strength, His love and His hope.
Today, I literally have to remind myself to “change the tape, CD, record, and the “self-talk” that I am “a failure” because of the abuse, I am not a failure, I am a survivor of my past and a daughter of God who saved me, healed me, forgave me and made me a new creation in Him.
What is your story? What has happened in your life that needs forgiveness? Why does it matter? It matters to God, YOU matter to God.
On Saturday, October 13, 2018, I will tell my story and share how God has brought me on this journey of healing and forgiveness. I will share what I believe to be the purpose and why it matters in life. Hope to see you there!
Here are some verses to get you ready for our time together on Saturday:
Mark 11:25-26, (NIV), “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Luke 6:37, (NIV), “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
By: Ruthann Wheaton
Listen to the 2-part story that inspired the Matthew West, "Forgiveness" song.
Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7 (NASB)
Our feature photo this week is a reminder of the “Called Retreat” table that was so lovingly decorated at the front of the church during our retreat weekend. Who can forget that gorgeous bouquet of thirty-something pink roses and those flowing fern branches! The ferns immediately took me back to my childhood and growing up in the Caribbean where I was surrounded by beautiful, lush vegetation all the time. These ferns grew in abundance there, so it was a very fond memory for me, and throughout the entire weekend, my heart was filled with appreciation for that reminder.
November is a month of remembering and leads us into a season of memory-making and memory-recollecting. This weekend, on Remembrance Day, our nation pauses to remember what our veterans have done and continue to do to secure and protect our freedoms. As people who enjoy these freedoms today, let us show our profound gratitude for the extraordinary sacrifices made by men and women who laid down their lives for their country. And let us remember the horrors and deep cost of war so that we will not be so apt to repeat them in the future.
Because, remembering is more for the future than it is for the past. Forgetting can be costly. It has been said that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
As Christians, we understand what it means to remember. God calls us to remember. Our faith is all about remembering. We can look forward to eternity because we remember God’s grace that saved us in the past, allowing us to spend eternity with Him.
God asks us to remember where we’ve come from; how He reached out with outstretched hands to pull us out of our pits of despair. (Deuteronomy 5:15) Hence the warning from the writer of Hebrews in Hebrews 6:4-8; for if we forget, we are doomed to hell.
Ever wonder why God asks us to remember Him as often as we partake in communion? (1 Corinthians 11:24-26)
Take a close look through your Bible and see the numerous references to remembering. Here are a few examples (Matthew 26:13, Joshua 4:4-7, Exodus 28:9-12, 39:6-7) and look at the number of times the Israelites erected memorials to remind them of God’s goodness and mercy as they journeyed to the Promised Land.
This Remembrance Day, add a few things to your list for remembering…
- Remember how God saved you from your sins.
- Remember how God placed you in a loving Church family.
- Remember how God opened your eyes to recognize sin.
- Remember how God carried you through your season of pain and suffering.
- Remember how God provided for you when you didn’t know how you would make it through to the next week/month.
- Remember how God answered that impossible prayer for you/ a loved one / a friend.
- Remember how God sent that person over to comfort you during your time of grief / sadness / loneliness.
- Remember how God healed you / a family member / a friend / a colleague when the doctors had given up.
- Remember how the gospel came alive to you through the community of your small group.
- Remember how God…. (fill in the blank)
- Remember God!
By: Yolande A. Knight - firstname.lastname@example.org
Let the words of this song from the Passion movement speak to you as you “Remember” featuring Brett Younker & Melodie Malone.
This year’s retreat theme, “Called”, was based on Isaiah 43:1 and taken from a section of Scripture where God was reassuring His people about His redemptive plan for them. They were going through a period of grave difficulties, including captivity, and God was using these words to bring them comfort. He was building their confidence in His plans for their future, despite what they were going through at that moment.
Did you get the “at that moment” idea?
What does that mean to you?
How does it resonate with what’s happening in your life today, in your current season?
I invite you to spend some time with the Lord on that thought this week. Sit still with Him and ask Him to reveal what He may be working out in your life “at this moment”. Don’t rush the process; it could take several sittings to clearly hear God’s voice.
One of the many nuggets that Deborah shared with us over the retreat weekend, was how she came to understand that God was growing her to be more like Him through the wilderness places of her life. Many of us can share similar stories.
He is ready to do the same in your life, if you let Him.
To the Israelites in the wilderness, He was providing comfort and confidence. He promises to do the same for us in our wilderness. He does have a redemptive plan for your life.
Do you really believe that God calls you by name? That He knew you before you were born?
And that He has a plan specifically for you?
How may your life look differently if you are walking in the knowledge of those truths, if you believe that He is able to do more than we can ask or imagine?
Join us at our November Mugs & Muffins (November 11th, at 9:30 a.m.) as we continue the conversation with a panel of "Called” women who will share their experiences and take-aways from the truly amazing retreat weekend.
By: Yolande A. Knight - email@example.com
Our Chris Tomlin's Christmas Concert ticket winner, and many of you will appreciate this "Fear Not" song that captures the essence of this week's post. Reflect on the lyrics.
"Called by Name"
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine.” (Is 43:1b)
Called | Noun (Synonyms): Named | Appointed | Chosen | Vocation | Life’s work | Mission | Purpose
“a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence” (Merriam-Webster)
When we began this “Called” journey a while back, it seemed like the weekend retreat was way in the distant future, yet, here we are, October 13th!
Is God calling you by name to be here?
I hope that you are planning to attend. It’s not too late to get tickets online or at the door. Deborah is looking forward to meeting you and sharing what she believes God has laid on her heart for us this weekend. The team has prepared for you to have an amazing time in God’s presence. They truly believe that no time invested with God is wasted and that you will leave more empowered than when you came!
I hope that you’ve enjoyed the journey these past few weeks with our “called” blog posts. It was rather interesting that each post, written by a different woman, including Deborah, was so unique and shed a different light on the topic.
Did you catch that? I hope you noticed the uniqueness of each post. It is how we were each uniquely and marvelously created by God for different purposes – sometimes we can get too caught up in another person’s story, comparing our chapter one to their chapter fifteen. Or we think that we have to fit into a specific box and when we don’t, then we get discouraged.
This weekend is intended to remove some of those stressors and stereotypes that we’ve cultivated and help us to step into the woman that God has created each one of us to be.
Here’s one of the things Deborah has said in that regard, as she ministers to people:
“My desire is to invite people to look at the truth of their life story and find God as their author; to unlock the prison doors of religious thinking and “doing,” and walk into the wide-open spaces of living-passionately! - (Deborah Klassen)
Join us this weekend – October 13th & 14th and discover all that God has Called you to be!
Enjoy this rendition of the Carole King classic, “Natural Woman”, sung by Deborah from her “Veil of Love” CD.
By: Yolande A. Knight - firstname.lastname@example.org
"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine." Isaiah 43:1
I brought my black Toyota Camry to a safe distance stop behind the car in front of me. Sitting at the red light, I surveyed my surroundings, as I often do, while waiting for the light to change. The music on the radio accompanied me on my errand running day and my mind was thinking about the 'to do' list laying on the passenger seat beside me.
Looking out the passenger window on my right, I could not help but notice the young 20 something year old woman, seated behind the steering wheel of the "Jeepish" vehicle beside me. There was something about her demeanor that caused me to keep watching her.
She had shoulder length soft brown hair tucked behind her ears and a slender face. Her eyes were fixed straight ahead, looking, as though trying to change the picture unfolding in her life.
Her hands were gripping the steering wheel at the 10 and 2 o'clock positions, except for the moments she released them, one at a time, to wipe away the tears that were cascading down her cheeks.
Immediately, my mind and heart were engaged in her situation - though I did not know what it was. I did not know her name, but I wanted to speak to her!!
The distance that spanned the space from my driver's seat, across the center console, across the passenger seat, the thickness of my passenger side car door and the roadway between my vehicle and her car's driver side door, seemed like an un-navigable gulf. Too far to cross with the uncertainty of the timing of a changing stop light. Reaching over, I turned off the radio, as I simultaneously rolled down the passenger window, trying to "will" her to look my way so I could ask her if there was anything that I could do to help.
She stared straight ahead! Hands gripping the steering wheel. Her crying- containing gasps, even as her chest heaved to try and catch her breath. From where I sat, her sadness and sorrow were palpable. Everything within me wanted to comfort her!
She stared straight ahead - wiping tears - gasping cries!
The light turned green.
Traffic started to move. Her vehicle began to roll forward, as did mine. I debated as to whether I should follow her; to find out if there was something I could do to help. My concern for her affected my own concentration on my driving for a moment, as I watched her drive away and disappear over the crest of the hill.
Putting on my blinker, I signaled left and drove into the parking lot of the dry cleaners. Pulling into an empty spot, I put the car in park and turned off the ignition. For several moments, I sat quietly looking off in the direction in which the young woman had driven.
What was her name? What had happened to cause such pain?
Had she just received news that someone she loved had died or was in an accident and she was on her way to the hospital? Had she just received news that she was ill and trying to process the prognosis? Had she just learned she was pregnant and it was not welcome news for her life situation? Had she just broken up with her boyfriend? Did she just find out her husband was cheating on her? Had she been abused? Had she just lost her job and did not know how she was going to take care of herself? Had she said goodbye to a parent, or a child? Had life become too unbearable and she was contemplating suicide?
What situation was unfolding or news received that could illicit such a deep, guttural sorrow in her body?
I did not know her name. I could not give her comfort but I wanted to! I wanted her to know she did not have to be alone in her pain!
WHO WAS SHE? WHAT WAS HER NAME?
I could not comfort her but what I could do, I did.
"Lord Jesus - take care of her! You who knows her name and brings comfort. Please go to her where she is and meet with her in a tangible way. Help her O GOD!"
I often think of her. The young twenty-something woman in the "Jeepish" vehicle - nameless to me BUT not nameless to the GOD who knows her.
I was reminded about another broken-hearted woman who lived many years ago, in ancient days. She had a friend; a close friend. A friend of authentic caring, influence and love, who had changed her life. That friend was wrongly accused and had been horrifically brutalized and nailed on to a cross in the most humiliating of circumstances, for all to see. Then his body was laid to rest in a rock enclosed grave.
Three days later, in grief and deep trauma, she had gone to visit his grave. When she got there, her heart and mind and body experienced another adage of pain because it appeared to her as though his grave had been robbed. His body was gone.
This was too much pain to bear and she collapsed in gasping sobs. The cascading tears were falling from her eyes when a man walked into her presence.
"Woman, why are you crying" (“what happened to cause this much pain")
"They have taken away my LORD'S body (“my friend's body is gone") and I don't know what they have done with him".
Almost three years ago, I stood at the edge of an opening in the ground and watched as cemetery workers lowered the casket containing my brother's body, into the concrete vault 6 feet below. Then they put a heavy concrete lid on top of the vault and began to cover it with dirt. I stood there till the last scoopful of earth had been put in place, then grasping tightly on to my husband's hand, walked away in silent grief.
How utterly disturbing and devastating an experience it would have been if 3 days later I returned to his gravesite to find the earth dug up, the cement lid of the vault upended, the casket lid opened and my brother's body not there!
But I picture that this is the type of scenario in which this woman found herself.
"Woman, why are you crying. Who are you looking for?"
Weeping, broken-hearted, vulnerable, frantic, shattered, alone, reeling from trauma and loss, she was now in the presence of a man she did not know and he wanted to know what was wrong. She thought he was the gardener, and possibly in desperation to try and get some answers, through anguished tears, she told him her plight.
"Did you take him? Just tell me what you did with him and I will go get him...
Desperate pain - needing answers - gasping cries.
Wait. She knew that voice!!!
Why when he had spoken the first time and called her 'woman', which held no depth of familiarity, and asked her a question, had she not recognized it?
But, when he called her by her name --- oh, that was different!
"Mary" - she was known!
The gardener, or so she had thought, did not ask her name.
It was not a case of "Now, remind me who you are again?"
He KNEW her! He KNEW her name and he called her by her name!
She heard it, and in that moment, something happened!
"Rabboni - Teacher" (she knew her friend!)
"Don't hold on to me because I have not yet gone to my Father in heaven."
I can only imagine the intensity with which she grabbed hold of him - throwing her arms around him, clinging to him! "Could this be true? Could this be real? Are you kidding me? You were dead and my world shattered and now you are standing here!!"
Intensity of joy, disbelief and relief, overwhelming elation mixed with the tears and feelings that physically impact the body in grief.
This was Jesus! Her friend, her LORD - Alive!!
A staggering cacophony of thoughts and emotions.
Such an intense response she had that he told her - "Don't hold on to me".
The kind of intense response that happens when despair does a 360-degree turn.
A running leap into his arms.
It would be that kind of response for me.
It is an exquisite account to me. A demonstration of magnificent love.
Jesus did not have to go back to his gravesite after he was raised from the dead. BUT, there was a woman there that was in deep pain!
Her friend, her LORD, came to where she was - in her pain.
He knew exactly who she was.
He asked her what was wrong, and then...
He called her by her name!
That is ALL He did... And it was profound!!
It changed everything for her! It transformed her world!
October 13th & 14th are two days which have been chosen for us, as women, to get together. Will you come? Will you bring a friend or two or three?
Provision will be made for you!
I am thinking about you and praying for you!
I will be waiting and I will be watching for you!
I will be interested to see how God, the Most High God, who created you and loves you and knows where you are and all your needs, will give to you on those days.
I hope you will come with anticipation!
I hope you will leave full!
Written by Deborah A. Caya Klassen
(August 2017. All rights reserved. Do not use without written permission)
Click here to listen to the track "Take My Life" from Deborah's "Legacy of Hope" CD
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine.” (Is 43:1b)
If you’re anything like me, you may have gone for a long time believing that being “called” by God was reserved for special people. Perhaps you felt that you didn’t measure up and worthy to be called.
Friends, I’m here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth! God calls every one of us, in our ordinariness, brokenness, and in spite of our messed-up lives. Look through the pages of your Bible and see that, with few exceptions, the people who were used by God were ordinary, common folks.
What does it mean to be called by God?
It doesn’t mean that we are better than other people and it doesn’t mean that we suddenly have a life free from obstacles. In fact, the opposite may be true. James 1:2- says to “consider it pure joy when you endure trials of many kinds” and John tells us that in this world, we would have trials (John 16:33). You see, once we become Christ-followers, it’s like we become walking targets for the enemy.
Most of Jesus’ disciples were ordinary fishermen (John 21:1-3) who endured much hardship in their lives; some even died in their service to God. The Bible is clear in showing us that being called by God has to do with serving Him and loving others, and not a safe and trouble-free life. It’s about becoming humble and allowing God to use us wherever He has placed us.
We need to stop looking at the idea of being “called” as a special assignment, or about specifically being in ministry or sent out on a mission field. Your call may be to be the best mom or wife right in your own home. I believe called has more to do with the small, simple things we do that adds value to another person’s life and less about the grand and public displays, huge gestures or dramatic things. It’s less about self and more about others; the idea of laying down your life for your sisters.
Don’t know what God has called you to do?
Wonder why you’re not fulfilling your purpose?
Could it be that you are not ready? If we look at one example in Scripture, we’ll see that sometimes it takes a long time and it may require a lot of growth. Joseph’s story, found in Genesis 37 through Chapter 50, is a great place to start and begins when Joseph was seventeen. We meet Joseph as an arrogant teenager who knew in his heart that God had a big plan for his life but, we also see that Joseph was not ready to step into that purpose. He needed to go through some seasons of pruning to become ready for his assignment from God. Over time and through a series of trials and troubles, Joseph was humbled and his character developed into the man who found pleasure in serving God through saving many lives. (Genesis 50:20)
We will be dedicating our next few blog posts to exploring this topic of “called” as we prepare for our upcoming Fall Retreat. I trust that you will follow along and uncover what God has called you to do and the work He has prepared for you.
Aren’t you just a tad interested to find out?
I hope that your journey won’t be as long and painful as Joseph’s. When you do recognize your calling, you’ll see how truly exhilarating and fulfilling the journey of life becomes.
Dare to be all that God has called you to be and depend on His guidance and direction! Don’t settle for anything less! You were made to shine!
By: Yolande A. Knight - email@example.com
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! - 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
What is the evidence of a changed life in a Christian?
There are some who believe that when a person becomes a Christian, a noticeable change in that individual should take place; something visibly different. In fact, Christians publicly testify about the change they experience when they place their faith in Christ and make Him Lord of their lives. What exactly are they talking about?
The “new creation” that we experience and that Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 5:17 is a spiritual or a heart change. As appealing as it may sound to suddenly have new bodies that don’t require a gym membership and a fat-free, carb-free diet, perfect hair that doesn’t need a 24/7 hairdresser, and flawless skin without the help of expensive “age-defying” creams; that’s not the change that matters to God.
In like manner, physical change should not rank higher than our desire to live godly lives; our focus ought to be first on perfecting our spiritual lives. None of us will ever achieve perfection in this life and we must stop aspiring for and looking at physical perfection in ourselves and others and recognize that we are all works-in-progress.
Each of us looks physically different; so too are our spiritual lives. Each of our salvation experiences were different and likewise our spiritual growth will be different even though we rely on similar elements to facilitate our growth such as, a love for Jesus and a desire to serve Him, dependence on God’s Word and the Holy Spirit to guide our daily lives, prayer and communion with God, a hatred for sin, and a community of other believers with whom we work out our salvation. Changed lives involve accountability, grace, and faith as we are continually transformed to His likeness.
-Yolande Knight, firstname.lastname@example.org