Forgiving Others

Forgiving others who have hurt you isn’t always easy.   Especially if they never say they are sorry, do not ask for forgiveness, and actually are not sorry at all.   We feel we are owed at least a “sorry”.    I actually think we are not “owed” much at all.   God sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, so we could be forgiven.  Now, do you think we really have the right to hold on to our own forgiveness of others? 

Jesus tells a parable in the Bible about a man who lends his servant 200 talents, and then when the servant cannot pay it back the master cancels the debt.  The servant is so happy, but he then goes out and tracks down someone who owes him money.  The amount  is pennies compared to what he owed his master.   The servant asks for his money back and when the other servant cannot pay him, he has him thrown in jail.    The master finds out about this and has the first servant beaten and put into jail until he can pay back his debt in full.  Ouch.    This parable is to explain forgiveness.  God gave us freedom from our debts (sins) when we could NEVER have paid Him back.   In return, God calls us to give others freedom from their debts(sins) by way of forgiveness.

Now, you might thinking that by forgiving others you are saying that what they did is ok.  That is not true at all.  Forgiving someone else is letting go of the grudge and anger.  Hanging on to past hurts is only hurting YOU.  It’s not hurting the other person. 

I know it is hard to forgive others, believe me.  Sometimes people do things that hurt us so deeply that we cannot imagine forgiving them because we feel like we are then saying it was ok.  Forgiveness is NOT saying it is ok.  It  also doesn’t mean you have to reconcile the relationship or hang out with this person again.  You do not have to tell the person you forgive them if you do not want to.  It can just be between you and God.  You do not even have to forget what they did to you.  You can remember it, stay away from them in the future, let them know it was wrong, and STILL forgive them.  It is very freeing and that is why God calls us to forgive others.  He never intended for us to carry any burdens and holding on to grudges and staying angry with other people is a burden only to ourselves.

Are there any people in your life that you need to forgive?  You will not regret it.  Forgiving others frees up your heart for more important things that God has planned for you!

Starting Fresh

It is always a great feeling to start over, or start fresh, or even begin something new.  That is where my husband and I feel we are right now.  He starts a new job tomorrow, a great job, and we are SO thankful to God!  We trusted that He would work things out for our good, and He did.   We worked very hard to not worry and to put all of our trust in Him, and He took care of us.  God is so good! 

We have grown so much this past year and God has taught both of us some very valuable lessons.  We would not change a thing.  I’m so thankful for every lesson learned and for every single blessing granted.  We begin this year with grateful hearts and open minds.  

My faith has strengthened tremendously and I will never again doubt trusting in God and what He can do.  

My husband and I are beginning a new chapter in our lives and I could not be more excited and ready to follow God’s lead and trust Him every step along the way.  It’s a really good feeling and a relief to know you are not in control.  

This week we are creating an entirely new budget and spending plan.  We will also be beginning our debt repayment plan.  Our goal is to pay off all of our debt by next year, and start saving as much as we can.

To start our plan I am using the Monthly Income and Expenses sheet from Crown.  Our church gave us this link in one of our REV90 daily emails.   It’s a great place to start.

I’ll be sharing some other debt reduction tips and saving ideas I find along the way, but this year is all about being grateful for what God has blessed us with and taking care of those blessings.  We will be good stewards of our time and money.   My husband and I begin 2010 with a new mindset and a strengthened trust in God!

The Cross

It all comes down the cross doesn’t it?  That is where we gained freedom, forgiveness and life! 

At church on Sunday our pastor gave us an acrostic using the word “Cross”.  I wanted to share it with you because I love it and it is a great reminder of what we need to focus on:

C – Confess.  Confess your sins (by name) to God.  Being specific about your sins helps you to really look at yourself and helps you to turn away from these sins.  If you just pray for a general forgiveness for all of your “sins”, then your sins are being swept under the rug in one big lump.   Take time to name them and be accountable for them to God.   He will help you turn from them if you are willing.

R – Repent.  Repent means to turn away from your sin, and turn towards God.

O – Obey.  We need to listen to what God and the Holy Spirit are telling us on a daily (even hourly) basis and obey.  It is ONLY for our own good.  Always.

S – Submit.  This one is a hard one.  It’s hard to give everything to God, but once you do you will ask yourself what you were waiting for?  It’s so hard to let go and give it all to God, but I promise that when you do you will gain so much peace in your life.  Having faith and trusting God are two things he is just waiting for you to do…..He’ll take care of the rest.  You just need a willing heart to give it all  to him, that’s it.

S – Share.  We are all called to share the story of God, and to let others know the good news about Christ dying for our sins.  It’s silly to think we wouldn’t want to share with others that we are “new creations in Christ”.  That we are all forgiven.   Find ways to share your faith, from being a good example to inviting others to church with you.  Ask God to use you for his glory, and believe me  He will.

Frugal TV Watching

Recently I read this post on the website Bible Money Matters called “Ways to Watch TV Without Paying an Arm and a Leg for Cable or Satellite“.  I sent it to my husband and he took care of the rest.  He is my IT Director.  He handles all of our electronic, computer and media issues. 

First we cancelled cable and our 50,000 channels (not really but it seemed that way sometimes) and we bought a digital antennae.  We can watch certain cable shows via our son’s XBOX, which is pretty cool.  We haven’t really used that too much, but we know it’s there if we want to.  Basically we get 4 stations now.  So, we can watch big games when they are on one of the major stations and we can watch the news if needed, and of course American Idol, our favorite.   We can no longer record shows or watch any more cable shows.

I have not missed it one bit.  We do rent more movies, but in general we just watch less TV, which is a good thing!  We spend more time playing games, talking, getting outside and reading.  We know we can watch the important things on TV that we need to see, but we can’t watch the 10 shows we were recording to watch later.  Now we have to watch it when it’s on or we miss it.  We do love Top Chef  which is on a cable station, but I think we can watch it on-line, which works just fine for us.

We are saving $100 a month by doing this.  We needed the savings and we needed the break.   I think it’s a nice change that we now have to come up with other ways to entertain ourselves.  We’ve done good so far.  Read the article and see if there are some changes you could make with your TV watching and or bill.  It’s worth a try.

The Power of Forgiveness

We started a new series at church yesterday called “Clean Slate”.  It’s a good message for the beginning of the year, and the beginning of a decade.  We all need the reminder that the minute we accept Christ as our savior, we are forgiven for all of our sins and we have a clean slate.  That’s a great feeling.  Sometimes the only problem is really accepting it.  Really feeling forgiven and most importantly forgiving ourselves.

If God can forgive us, then who are we to not forgive ourselves?  Right?  I mean, why would we hold back something God does not.  It doesn’t make sense, however many of us struggle with it.  The enemy wants us to hold on our regrets and to not feel forgiven, but that is not how God wants us to live.  We need to understand the TRUTH that is in the Bible, that we ARE forgiven.

Our pastor said yesterday that sin puts us in debt with God, but it’s a debt we can never repay ourselves.  Only a creditor can cancel a debt, and God is our creditor.  Jesus had to pay the debt for us.  Addressing the debt and covering it for us, is God’s way of showing his justice which reflects his love.  Once you accept Jesus into your heart, and you accept that he died for YOUR sins, then the debt has been paid in full and even pre-paid for the future.  Isn’t that great?  Now…just let it sink in and learn to remember that truth the next time you are feeling guilty for past transgressions.  It is already forgiven and you can move on and live the abundant life God has planned for you.

Ten Questions For The New Year

While we are still in the single digits of January I wanted to post this list that my mother-in-law sent me.  (Thank you Margaret!)  It’s a great list of questions (written by Don Whitney) to ask yourself .  This list will help guide you through some very important goals for the year. 

1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

Copyright © 2003 Donald S. Whitney.

Stress and Allergies

I read an article the other day about how stress can aggravate and worsen allergies.   I had no idea.  Basically stress breaks down your immune system and makes you more susceptible to many ailments, one of which is allergies.  I suffer from allergies pretty regularly now.  My allergies started out fairly minimal, but the last few years have been pretty bad.  Right now we are in the height of Cedar season here in Austin.  It’s bad and I live in a cedar forest, which does not help matters.  

I wouldn’t say I have high levels of stress on a regular basis, but I do think I maintain some level of stress.  When I feel as if I have a lot to do I tend to become subconsciously stressed.   I can get overwhelmed at times.  Yesterday I decided to do a little experiment on myself.  I tried to stay calmer.  I focused on the task at hand and did not run through  my entire to-do list all through the day.  I took deep breaths throughout the day to keep me calm and peaceful and I have to say, my allergies seemed a little better.  I have no idea if that had anything to do with it, but I found it interesting.

Click here to read the article.   If you have allergies take a look and see what you think, and maybe give it a try.   If nothing else it’s worth a try, and you’ll be less stressed as well!

Keeping New Habits

Yesterday at church the sermon was about habits and how we can stay on track.   It was a perfect sermon to teach at New Year’s when we are all making new resolutions and new goals for the year.    The pastor talked about how hard it is sometimes to keep from falling back into old habits, and how if we rely only on ourselves we will be much more likely to lapse into our old ways. 

Here are three ways we can keep from falling back into your old ways:

  1. We must walk in humility.  We must be able to hand over our weaknesses to God for help.  We must be able to say “I can’t do this alone, I need God’s help.”  For many of us that doesn’t come easy, but it is a must if you want to truly overcome habits.
  2. We must think like Jesus.  We must mirror the heart of Jesus and think the way he would think. We must see situations how he would see then.  Think about how he treated money, his body and his spiritual life.  Think of it in a different angle.  
  3. We must get back up on the horse.  If you do indeed fall you must just get back up and try again.  Do NOT give up.  If you fall back to your old ways on one day, start right back with the new habit the next day.  Just keep working at it, never giving up.  Do not think that if you fall back one or two days that you have failed, just start back up. 

I’m working towards my goals for the year and so far I’d say I’ve done pretty good.  I do have to be humble to God every morning, asking Him to help me with my urges to do things my old way.  I am doing good with most of my new goals, but there are a few I keep falling back on….but I’m getting right back on and trying again tomorrow.  I WILL change these habits…..with God’s help.