Lessons Learned at Eight Days of Hope

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Last week I went on a mission trip to Tupelo MS with the organization Eight Days of Hope.  This was the second time I’ve gone on one of these trips with 8DOH.  Back in late April of 2014 Tupelo was hit with a devastating tornado.  The damage was far reaching and the city is still trying to rebuild and regroup.

Basically 8DOH goes into a community and works with local churches, non-profits and the government officials.  They only go to communities that want the help and are open to a Christian organization.  They focus on homeowners that are uninsured, under insured or that need help beyond what insurance will pay.

3,023 volunteers from 37 states served at Eight Days of Hope XI. There were around 60 people from NewPointe Community Church that went.  We worked on 235 homes, multiple churches and multiple parks. We finished 451 jobs with 159 homes being completed. Three homes were built from the ground up. Total amount of work done exceeded $4.4 million dollars. BUT…the most important thing was we had a chance to share the joy, the hope the love of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Here are some lesson’s from this trip:

  • Team work is vital in accomplishing big things – This trip showed me once again how important teamwork and unity are in getting a lot of work done.  It takes humility, patience and trust to make it all happen. It takes multiple leaders, taking responsibility and working toward the same goal.
  • When planning and hard work meet up with God amazing things happen – A lot of planning and preparation happened before and during those eight days, but God was invited into the process and He accomplished more than anyone would have expected. God moments happened every day.
  • Every job is important – I was reminded that every project was important because it touched a person or a family.  Whether it was cleaning up a yard, building a fence, roofing a house, building a deck or fixing a door, it’s all important. No job was too small or too big, it all mattered, because it was an expression of love.
  • It’s important to serve the volunteers and minister to them as well – 8DOH did a great job of serving the 3,000 volunteers and focusing on ministry to the many people that were giving such a significant amount of time and energy.  They had programmed times for worship, fellowship, entertainment and free time.
  • People love to tell their story – I heard several stories from the local people about how this storm had impacted their lives and how 8DOH brought hope back to them and their families.  Talking about their story helped the people to move forward and get past the tragic event of the past. I also got to hear stories from other volunteers and got to know them better.  Ask questions and find out more about the people around you.
  • You get to know people much better when you work along side them – on a trip like this you get to see the real person.  You get to see them when they are tired, frustrated hungry and uncertain.  You also get to see the fun side of people when they let down their defenses and be themselves. I encourage everyone to consider going on a mission trip at some time in their life.  Here is a picture of the group from Millersburg:10559719_10202362331839757_1586175141656029044_n
  • It’s all because of Jesus – The reason people give up their vacation or personal time to go on a trip like this is because they love Jesus and want to help other people. We are the hands and feet of Jesus and this is one way we as followers of Christ can show love to other people.

I’ve been on many mission trips and every time I have been deeply impacted in a positive way.  I have gotten to know other cultures and other people in different parts of the world.  I gotten to talk with people I would never have met, if I wouldn’t have taken the risk and decided to go.  Maybe God has been nudging you to consider go on a trip like 8DOH or maybe another mission trip.  But the cool thing is we don’t need to go on a mission trip to love and serve people.  There are many people in our own communities that are in need that we can serve and love and help.  All it takes is a willingness to give some time and talent and muscle or to listen and encourage.

If you would like to get involved in changing your local community or want to go on a mission trip, please contact me via email – cstutzman@newpointe.org

 

Balance

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A Balanced Life

Are You Courting Burnout?

What do you do to keep your life balanced?

THREE STEPS TO BALANCE:

  1. Get Organized around your purpose.

When you know your purpose it brings better focus to your life.  It determines the patterns in your life and the disciplines you pursue. Finding your life purpose is a process that everyone should go through. It will take some time and effort but it’s worth the time and energy.  A great place to start is to answer this question: What would I want my family, friends, co-workers and neighbors to say about me at my funeral?  Not what would they say now, but what would you want them to say.  Think about that and start writing down some things.

When we understand our purpose better, it helps to simplify our lives.  It allows us to eliminate the things that distract us and say yes to the things that further that purpose.  I my own life I’ve developed a purpose statement of Leading myself and others to grow in Faith, Character & Leadership.  That statement drives what I do at work, at home and in my spare time.  It’s what I write about in my posts, it’s what I talk about with the people around me.

Balance in life is possible if we practice life according to a single priority, and that single priority is our purpose.

  1. Define the dimensions of your life.

FOUR DIMENSIONS IN LIFE

  • Intellectual – This includes all activities that stimulate our ability to think.  It includes our work, what we read, what we research, what we study. Are we still learning and growing or are we stagnate and declining?
  • Physical – This includes how active we are, how much we exercise, the amount of rest we get and how we eat.  Basically how well we take care of ourselves physically.  Are we getting better or worse from a physical dimension?
  • Spiritual – This includes what we believe about God, about where we will spend forever, about the world around us, about why we are here and who put us here.  This includes our prayer life, going to church, serving other people, how well we love others.  Are we growing spiritually or declining spiritually?
  • Social – This is all about the relationships in our lives.  Immediate and extended family, close friends and casual friends, people you work with and people that work for you, current neighbors and previous neighbors, people you know from church, clubs, sports teams, people you went to school with, teachers, mentors, coaches and even the stranger you just met.  Are we developing and strengthening our relationships or are our relationships declining and dying?
  1. Build Capacity.

Balance is achieved when we establish, build, and maintain capacity in each of the four dimensions of life.  How much time and energy do we give to each of those areas of our lives?  That will only happen if we are intentional about focusing on each of those areas of our lives.

 

Reflect and rate yourself on the four dimensions in your life:

Play …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………Work

Intellectual

Couch Potato ………………………………………………………………………………………………..Cross Fit Freak

Physical

Dead……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….Alive

Spiritual

Poor …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………Awesome

Relationships/Social

Take this quiz to gauge whether or not you’re headed for burnout. (Pay attention not only to your answers, but also the way you react to the statements.)

1)     Despite getting adequate sleep each night, I wake up tired.

True

False

2)    Lately, I’d define myself as moody.

True

False

3)    Increasingly, I see the negative, or what needs to be fixed, with my work and others’. Positive comments and thoughts are rare.

True

False

4)    My vision or purpose is becoming blurry, or harder to focus on, despite being clear in the past.

True

False

5)    If I were totally honest with myself, I’d say I’m going through the motions at work or home, rather than contributing everything I can.

True

False

6)    I shorten (or wish I could do so) my workday just to leave work or get away.

True

False

7)    I lengthen many workdays to get the job done, instead of delegating or managing my time or mindset more effectively.

True

False

8)    I cut down or stop other activities (such as hobbies or other rejuvenating activities) in order to keep up with work responsibilities.

True

False

9)    I don’t have time to reach out to connect with colleagues,mentors or friends on a regular basis.

True

False

10)  Relationships within and outside of my work are not as strong as they were.

True

False

Score Yourself:

1-4 “True” answers: You should be in the normal ebb and flow of business ownership, or work. Continue to find ways to improve.

5-7 “True” answers: Burnout is rearing its ugly head. Within the next week, schedule two days away from work to reconnect and clarify your vision or purpose, and identify at least 5 action items that you can do to change the course and refuel your engines.

8-10 “True” answers: Stop, your in trouble. Stop everything and take a deep breath. In the next week get away for awhile to revisit your vision and purpose. Reconnect with colleagues and mentors. Write out your vision and an action agenda to get you back on track in doing what is important.

TEN TIPS FOR AVOIDING BURNOUT AND INVITING BALANCE:

  • Breathe deeply
  • Take a walk
  • Eat well
  • Drink water
  • Slow down
  • Team up
  • Sleep well
  • Loosen up
  • Have fun
  • Get away

Where do you need to focus more and be more balanced?

Life Verse

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NewPointe Community Church is currently in a series called “Life Verse”.  A life verse is a Scripture that someone keeps coming back to over and over again and that guides them in their life.  As I thought about that several passages of Scripture came to my mind.  As I thought about which one I should write about I realized that this Scripture is the one that I often quote and talk about.  I’ve used it at weddings and funerals and in mentoring sessions with individuals and couples.  This Scripture is challenging to me and a constant reminder of how I should live my life.

It’s often called the Love chapter because it gives us a very clear description of what love is.  It’s not just one verse, it’s actually 4 verses.  So here it is:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures.”

I’ve often put my name in place of love, which makes it personal and very humbling, because I realize that I have a ways to go in understanding and living out this idea of love.  So here are some points about this powerful passage of Scripture.

  • Love is a verb not a noun – This passage is all about the actions that we take not thoughts that we have.  It deals with what kinds of emotions direct our lives and what kind of behaviors come out of us.  Love is all about doing and showing the people around us that we love them.  To be patient, kind and trusting takes actions that show those traits.
  • Love is others focused – When it comes to understanding love it’s all about being focused on the people around us and not on ourselves.  It’s paying attention to the people in our lives and taking the time and energy to love them and serve them.
  • Love is powerful – If love is your base, it can overpower all the negative emotions we struggle with.  Love brings us back to the way God designed us.  It fights against the resistance that pushes us to be selfish, self-centered and negative.  Everyone wants to experience love whether they admit it or not. When we love it shows strength and character.
  • Love is long-term – When we love the way this Scripture says to love it keeps us focused on the big picture and the long-term health of all our relationships.  It looks beyond the current situation or pain and sees how things could and should be.  It allows us to be patient and to trust when the situation doesn’t feel like we should.  Love is what gets us through the dark times in our lives. Love is what picks us up and gets us through.
  • Love Works – We all want to be around people that love well. We are drawn to people that live out these actions.  Jesus was the perfect example of love.  When we put his name in place of love we can say yes that’s Jesus.  I think that is why people were so drawn to him and why so many people are still following him today.  Love really does work, love gets results and changes lives.

So here is the challenge.  We can all grow in this area of love because non of us are Jesus. Love is the key to life because when everything else is stripped away love remains.  Whether it’s loving other people or loving God, that is what changes lives.  When we allow God’s love to penetrate and take over our hearts, our behavior starts to change, our thoughts start to change and our perspective starts to change.

If your relationships are not working ask yourself how much love you have in your heart.  If there is not much there, then turn to God and ask Him to fill it up with that kind of love.

Verse 8 starts off with this – “Love never fails.”  God never fails, he never gives up on us and always believes the best about us even when he knows the worst about us.  Love Well!

Summer Time

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Summer is a great time of the year.  For many families it’s when you take vacation and spend a bit more time together.  It’s easier to have social functions with friends, cooking outs, camp fires, camping, outdoor sports and more.  I’m on a softball team and love to get away and have fun with some other people.

I remember summer as a kid, not having to go to school and spending long days out exploring my grandpa’s farm.  I spent hours looking for arrow heads and flint after the fields where plowed and was even known to go skinny dipping in the creek from time to time.

Summer for me has become a time of building.  I try to approach each summer as a time to sharpen myself as a follower of Christ, a husband, a leader and a friend.  It’s a time to work on relationships, read good books, plan for the rest of the year and relax and have a little fun.

I try to read a lot, because that is one of the ways I learn and keep my mind sharp.  Each summer I try to put together a reading list that I try to knock out over the months of June, July and August.  Here is my list for this year:

  1. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield – book about creativity and self-discipline
  2. Sticky Church by Larry Osborn – This book is all about how to help people stay at church and get connected and growing.
  3. Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath – I am reading this one with my staff, it’s a good self awareness book
  4. On My Worst Day: Cheesecake, Evil, Sandy Koufax, and Jesus by John Lynch – Spiritual growth type book, I heard him speak live and immediately bought the book.
  5. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman – This book is all about how we thing and why
  6. What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell – Fun read about odd stories and why we do some of the things we do and some of the extraordinary things that happen in our world
  7. The Catalyst Leader: 8 Essentials For Becoming A Change Maker by Brad Lomenick – leadership development for me.
  8. Great By Choice – Uncertainty, Chaos, And Luck – Why some Thrive Despite Them All by Jim Collins – Another leadership development book from one of my favorite authors.  I’ve had the book two years and finally am going to read it.
  9. The Bible – I’m reading through the New Testament as well – Spiritual Growth and Connecting with God.
  10. TBD – I usually find a book or someone recommends a book that I just have to read.

Have a great summer but remember to include some reading.  Even if you are not a reader, try to read one book this summer.  Reading helps you to focus, use your brain and relieve stress.  Reading also feeds you spiritually, emotionally and intellectually.  If you want to change, grow or just get better as a person, then start reading.  If your into sports you read all the article about your favorite teams, so you can do this – Give it a try this summer.

Getting Results

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If your in any kind of leadership position, whether leading your family or a major corporation, you want to be productive and get results.  You want to see your family communicate and grow closer together and for your children and spouse to develop and grow.  You want your company to be profitable and your employees to succeed.  You want to deliver on what you promise.

There is always resistance to getting results or productivity. Every day we wake up and that resistance is there to greet us.  Here are some of things we must face everyday and overcome in order to be productive and get results.

  • Procrastination – we can over-analyzing things, and talking ourselves out of doing something. We convince ourselves that we will do it later.
  • Interruptions – every day we have distractions.  Things that are urgent, things that pop up, people that pop in and bunny trails we pursue.
  • Stress – The higher the level of stress the harder it is to function, make decisions and get results.  Stress limits our thinking and allows emotions to overcome us.
  • Multitasking – No one can actually multitask.  Some people are better at jumping from one thing to another, but when you do that, you are distracted and end up not doing either thing well.  You also don’t tend to finish things.
  • Blaming Others – When you start blaming other people it shifts the focus onto things you cannot control.  It also distracts you from seeing how you contributed to the problem or allowed it to happen.
  • Fear – fear can stop us in our tracks and feeds all of the things I mentioned above. Fear of failure, rejection, being misunderstood, not being good enough – those are just a few of the fears that greet us daily.

So what can we do to overcome these forms of resistance and be productive on a consistence basis?

  1. Commit to Excellence – whatever you do, do it the best you can.  This is not perfection but doing it right and not cutting corners. When you do it right the first time, you don’t have to go back and do it over later.
  2. Plan – This is probably the most important step.  Putting a plan together with clear, specific goals and timelines will help get results.
  3. Focus – People that have the ability to block out all the resistance and distractions and focus for an hour at a time on a project get great results.  To keep that focus, take frequent breaks and refresh your mind, then come back to the project.
  4. Do the Hard thing first – If your facing a difficult conversation, complicated problem or hard task, tackle it right away.  The faster you accomplish that hard thing, the more productive you will be the rest of the day.
  5. Stick with it – people that get results have the ability to hang in there and keep at it until it’s finished.  It’s having the tenacity to work through all the obstacles and keep focused on the bigger picture.  It’s showing up every day and doing what needs to be done.

Everyone can improve in this area of productivity and getting results.  Think about one thing that if you finished it would bring great results or move you further along as an individual, family or organization.  Now go do it.

Above the Line

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Being healthy emotionally is hard work.  It’s easy to fall into a victim mentality and feel like everyone is against you.  In their book The Oz Principle, Roger Connors, Tom Smith and Craig Hickman give some clues on when we are stuck in the victim cycle or living below the line.

  • You feel “held captive” by your circumstances
  • You feel you have no control over your present circumstances
  • You find yourself blaming others and pointing fingers
  • Your discussions of problems focus more on what you cannot do, rather than what you can
  • You fail to confront the toughest issues you face
  • You find yourself being “sought out” by others so they can tell you what someone else did to them this time
  • You find yourself unwilling to ask probing questions about your own accountability
  • You repeatedly find yourself in a defensive posture
  • You site your confusion as a reason for not taking action
  • You avoid people, the meetings, and the situations that require you to report on your responsibilities
  • You find yourself spending valuable time crafting a compelling story detailing why you were not at fault
  • You repeatedly tell the same old story about how someone took advantage of you
  • You view the world with a pessimistic attitude

So how do we avoid this victim mentality?  How do we get unstuck from these destructive patterns and habits.  The keys are taking responsibility for your own actions and bringing accountability into your life.

According to the authors you can improve your own ability to remain “above-the-line” by watching for the following clues that indicate accountable attitudes and behavior.

  • You invite candid feedback from everyone about your own performance
  • You never want anyone, including yourself, to hide the truth from you
  • You readily acknowledge reality, including all its problems and challenges
  • You don’t waste time or energy on things you cannot control or influence
  • You always commit yourself 100 percent to what you are doing, and if your commitment begins to wane, you strive to rekindle it
  • You “own” your circumstances and your results, even when they seem less than desirable
  • You recognize when you are dropping “below the line” and act quickly to avoid the traps of the victim cycle
  • You delight in the daily opportunity to make things happen
  • You constantly ask yourself the question, “What else can I do to rise above my circumstances and get the results I want?”

Whether at work or at home staying above the the line of accountability is vital to emotional and relational health.  When we are below the line we ignore or deny reality, we say it’s not my fault or my job, we point fingers, we say we are confused, we cover our tails and we wait & see.  When we are above the line we see the issue, we own our part, we work on a solution and we take action on what we can control.

Make a commitment today to be more accountable and responsible in all your relationships.  Work at staying above the line and don’t focus on things that are out of your control.  Focus on your own thoughts and behaviors and own your part of the problem.  Get help and counsel from others to help keep you above the line.  If you do that you will grow in character and leadership and be much healthier all the way around.

 

Lessons From Sheep Shearing

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I was watching some video’s on how to shear sheep.  It’s pretty interesting, but I’m not ready to give it a try.  If you want to watch click here. The reason I was watching the video’s is that I had heard that sheep have to be sheared before summer or they could actually die from the heat.  So I started researching this to find out more.

The first time a sheep is sheared it puts up quite a fight and I am sure feels like its in danger.  However once they experience what its like after being sheared they are much more cooperative the next time.  They soon discover that without all that wool it’s much cooler and they don’t get sick as easily.  So the next time they sit quietly while the shearing happens, because they know they are not going to be hurt, but helped.

As I was thinking about that I realized that many of us need to be sheared as well.  We have weaknesses that cause us to fail and struggle and overheat/stress out.  We need to have the layers of sin, bad attitudes, hurts and hang-ups cut away.  But when someone tries to do that we fight and kick and are scared or angry.  You see we can’t shear ourselves, we need the help of other people.  Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  That is the point of accountability, caring enough about another person to respectfully shear away the layers of life.

If you want to be sheared here are three things that must happen:

  1. Take responsibility and admit your weakness – You are the only one that can decide to change or allow someone to shear you.  It takes humility and self-awareness to take this first step, but without doing this nothing will change.  I believe this is only possible with Gods help, by asking him to reveal the things we need to own and shear, and then asking for the courage to take responsibility.
  2. Raise your expectations for yourself – We talk ourselves into and out of a lot of things.  Over the years we tend to lower our standards and accept things we would not have before.  In 1 Peter 1:13-16 it says this “So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, ‘I am holy; you be holy.’”  So don’t settle for mediocre, God has a greater purpose and plan for your life.
  3. Find a trusted partner – If you really want to change and be sheared, you will need some trusted friends to help along the way.  Shearing is not a one time thing, it needs to be done over and over again.  It’s the same with us, we need to be held accountable over and over again.  That’s why we all need some people that we can confess too, that we can listen too, that we can talk too.  If you don’t have someone like this in your life start praying and ask God to bring the right people into your life that can be on your shearing team.  Remember after the shearing you will feel so much better, after the confession is great freedom.

The cool thing about this whole process is that when you allow someone else to sharpen you or shear you, you can in turn sharpen and shear them.  That only happens when you you are open and honest.  If you hide your stuff it can’t get sheared.  Happy shearing!

Easter

This time of the year is an exciting time as new life springs up with the warmer weather, at least in Ohio.  Easter is also an exciting time for Christians as we celebrate Jesus Christ.  As we prepare for Easter 2014 I thought I would share some thoughts on the significance of what Jesus did that causes us to be celebrating over 2,000 years later.

  1. Jesus died in our place – This is known as substitution, Jesus subbed in for us.  He took our punishment for us.  The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21 “He was made sin for me.” and in 1 Peter 2:24 “He bore my sin in his body on the cross.”  What happened on the cross was personal.  Jesus the perfect, sinless Son of God had your sin put on him.  All the garbage, all the junk and ugliness he assumed it all.
  2. Jesus made us right with God – This is known as justification or in legal terms we were acquitted and found not guilty by God the Judge.  Acts 13:39 says “Through him (Jesus) everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.”
  3. Jesus made peace with God possible – This is known as reconciliation, which means bringing together two people who have suffered a breakdown in their relationship.  Jesus, by his death on the cross, gave us the opportunity to have our relationship with God healed and renewed.  2 Corinthians 5:19 says “God was in Christ, making peace between our world and himself…God did not hold the world guilty of its sins.  And he gave us this message of peace.”  So Jesus created a new bridge between us and God that had been broken.
  4. Jesus made us a part of God’s family – This is known as adoption, meaning God went through a lot in order to bring us into his family.  He considers us as his own children.  In Romans 8:17 it says “And since we are his children, we will share his treasures-for all God gives to his Son Jesus is now ours too.”
  5. Jesus purchased our salvation with his blood – This is known as redemption, which means being set free.  In 1 Peter 1:18-19 it says this “God paid a ransom to save you from the impossible road to heaven which your fathers tried to take, and the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver, as you very well know. But he paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.”
  6. Jesus satisfied God’s justice – This is known as propitiation which means that Jesus completely satisfied or fulfilled all of God’s righteous demands.  God demands holiness and perfection and Jesus satisfied that demand.  in 1 John 2:2 it says “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the sins of the whole world.”
  7. Jesus sent our sins away from us – This means forgiveness.  In Colossians 2:13 it says “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins.”  God put all of our sins on Jesus, even though he was innocent and pure.  When our sins are put on him, we never see the guilt of them again.  God’s forgiveness is final and complete.

So there you have it, that is what Jesus Christ did for us.  That is why we celebrate so big during Easter, because all of this is amazing, unbelievable, undeserved and completely free.  Salvation is not by works but by grace, it’s not initiated by us but by God and its not an afterthought with God, it is his eternal plan.

Healing

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In 2 Chronicles chapter 7 God appears to Solomon.  Solomon has just finished building this magnificent temple of the Lord.  He has had tremendous success all along the way.  His father David had prepared the way for this to happen and now Solomon has accomplished this huge project for God.  They have been celebrating for 7 days and people are coming form all over the world to see this amazing temple and to worship God.  Solomon and others have been praying and preparing and then Solomon hears from God.

In verse 12 it says “The Lord appeared to him at night and said: I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.”  God goes on to say “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people.”  This is interesting because God is saying that hardship has and will come our way.  He says when things go badly, when sickness strikes, when hard times come, I am going to tell you what to do.  This is verse 14: “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

So no matter what happens to us, if we are in God’s family, whether success, failure, sickness, heart break, tragedy or loss.  If we humble ourselves, pray and seek God and turn from our wicked ways, God will hear us and forgive us and heal us.

So how does that translate for today.  Jesus came and was the final sacrifice for our sins, so we don’t need a temple to make sacrifices anymore.  Jesus paid for all our sins and gave us a clear path to heaven.  If we believe in Jesus Christ and follow him, we are now the temple that God can live in.  This verse in 2 Chronicles still applies today though for God’s people.  I believe this is about God being more concerned about our spiritual & emotional health than our happiness or even our physical well being.

So here is the principle:  If our daily focus is to remain humble and not be filled with pride and ego.  Thinking less about ourselves and more about God and others.  If our tendency or habit is to pray and seek God in any and every situation.  If we routinely repent or turn away from our sins, bad attitudes, negative thinking and the things that pollute our minds and hearts.  God promises to forgive us continually and immediately and take our burdens and worries from us.  And this leads to healing and wholeness.

The bottom line is that God wants us to trust him and depend on him for everything.  He wants us to turn away from the things that pull us down and turn to him who lifts us up.  It’s about becoming more like Jesus Christ who trusted God fully and completely and turned to him throughout his life here on earth.

So God is still in the healing business.  He wants us to be healthy and whole in every way and he wants to be the main focus in our lives, he wants us to worship him alone.  No matter what comes our way he is with us, for us and in us and he wants to forgive us and heal us.  God wants to free us from the hurts and damaging emotions that fill us up and tear us down.  He wants to free us from the lies and deception and fears that keep us locked up and in bondage.  He wants to heal our land, which is every part of us, not just our bodies.

The Power of Forgiveness

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One of the most powerful and helpful things we can do to be healthy emotionally, physically and spiritually, is to practice forgiveness.  Forgiveness enables a person to release buried anger, resentment, bitterness, shame, grief, regret, hate and other damaging emotions that live inside of us.  Forgiveness releases layers and years of hurt and begins the healing process.  Forgiveness leads to an ability to love well.

It is important to know what forgiveness is and what it is not.

  • Forgiveness is not forgetting – Forgetting is a long-term by-product of forgiveness.  Once you choose to forgive someone, then healing and forgetting the hurt can start to happen.
  • Forgiveness is a choice – Everyone can choose to forgive, but typically we don’t feel like forgiving, because we like to hold onto our anger or resentment in order to protect ourselves.  When we don’t forgive we stay chained to our past.  Nobody can fix your past, but you can be free from it, it is your choice.
  • Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another person’s sin – We all have had someone hurt us and we can either live in the bondage of bitterness or the freedom of forgiveness.  No one gets off God’s hook, we all have to give an account for our actions and there are always consequences for our actions.
  • Forgive from the heart – Just saying the words I forgive you is not enough.  It’s important to bring back up the painful emotions and memories of the person that hurt you so that those emotions can be healed and not buried.
  • Forgiveness is choosing not to hold someone’s sin against him or her anymore – This does not mean that you put up with abuse, we all need healthy boundaries and there are consequences for sin.  This means that we won’t bring up old offenses after forgiving someone.  Remember that God freely forgives us and does not hold our sins against us.
  • Don’t wait until you feel like forgiving - Most people will never get there.  Make the hard choice to forgive, even if you don’t feel like it.  Once you choose to forgive, the hold on you is broken and God can start healing your damaged emotions.

We should never base our decision to forgive on a person’s good behavior compensating for previous hurtful behavior.  Forgiveness is something that happens inside of you, it comes from your desire to forgive for the sake of forgiving.  Waiting until a person is worthy of forgiveness will feed your damaged emotions and cause further hurt.

Always remember that it takes only one person to forgive, but it takes two people to reconcile.  You can forgive a person even if they don’t forgive you, but reconciliation always requires the wills of both parties involved.

There is so much more to forgiveness than what is covered here.  Some of the principles I covered come from Neil Anderson and his booklet called Steps to Freedom in Christ.  If your having a hard time making the choice to forgive, ask God to help you.  He can give you the strength to do it.