Forgiveness and Deliverance

August 30th, 2016

There is an important misapprehension in the words of the messengers of the Gospel in the New Testament. It is wrongly thought that they threaten us with punishment because of sins we have committed, whereas in reality their message is of forgiveness, not of vengeance — of deliverance, not of evil to come.

No man shall be condemned for any or all of his sins that are past. He needs not dread remaining unforgiven even for the worst of them. The sin he dwells in, the sin he will not come out of — that is the sole ruin of a man. His present, his live, sins — those pervading his thoughts and ruling his conduct, the sins he keeps doing and will not give up, the sins he is called to abandon and clings to — these are they for which he is even at this moment condemned. “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

It is the indwelling badness, ready to produce bad actions — the indwelling sin which leads to sins — that we need to be delivered from. Against this sin, if a man will not strive, he is left to commit evil and reap the consequences. To be saved from these consequences would be no deliverance; it would be an immediate, ever deepening damnation. Jesus came to deliver us, not rescue us from needful consequences. It is the sin in our being — no essential part of it, thank God! — the miserable fact that we as a very child of God do not care for our Father and will not obey him, causing us to desire wrongly and act wrongly — this is what he came to deliver us from, not the things we have done, but the possibility of doing such things any more.

— George MacDonald, Hope of the Gospel, “Salvation from Sin,” quoted in Discovering the Character of God, edited by Michael Phillips, p. 40-41.

A Hero’s Journey

August 28th, 2016

You may not have signed up for a hero’s journey, but the second you fell down, got your butt kicked, suffered a disappointment, screwed up, or felt your heart break, it started. It doesn’t matter whether we are ready for an emotional adventure — hurt happens. And it happens to every single one of us. Without exception. The only decision we get to make is what role we’ll play in our own lives: Do we want to write the story or do we want to hand that power over to someone else? Choosing to write our own story means getting uncomfortable; it’s choosing courage over comfort.

— Brené Brown, Rising Strong, p. 45

To Set Ourselves Free

August 25th, 2016

The way I see it, we don’t forgive in order to be nice, to do what we should, to be good Christians, or even to be spiritual. We forgive so as to set ourselves free. Forgiveness helps us to see beyond our masks to who we truly are. It shows us that who we really are has nothing to do with what happened to us in the past.

— Robert Holden, Loveability, p. 182

We Need Faith.

August 24th, 2016

To me, faith in God is a lot like marriage, which is faith in another person. It means a rock-solid commitment to giving God the benefit of the doubt, not because God needs it (I’m pretty sure God could get along without us if He had to) but because we need it. I choose to believe in the reality of God not because logic demands it or because the arguments for it are persuasive, but because the things I do take on an additional dimension when I do. Joys become more significant and disappointments more bearable when I do.

— Harold S. Kushner, Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life, p. 121.

Fire from Heaven

August 23rd, 2016

Joy is a response to the Lord’s presence. The people rejoiced because God responded to them, kindled their sacrifice. Has the fire of God come down and consumed your sacrifices? All your piety, your churchgoing, your repentance, your efforts to be good — do these produce shouts of joy? If not, something’s wrong; your sacrifice isn’t complete.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 17

Being Powerful

August 22nd, 2016

I grew up with angry and resentful people and have struggled my whole career to help thousands of resentful and angry clients achieve a better life. The hardest truth for any of them to grasp is the difference between feeling powerful and being powerful. Most anger and resentment are attempts to feel powerful at the cost of being powerful.

Steven Stosny, PhD, Soar Above, p. 45

God Is Not a Betrayer.

August 21st, 2016

God is not a betrayer — he does not betray and he has never betrayed me.

Because unanswered prayer that was urgent and beyond precious to you can feel like a knife to the heart. The enemy rushes in with feelings of betrayal; he whispers terrible things about God in our vulnerability. It is never, ever true. But sometimes I have to remind myself of that.

— John Eldredge, Moving Mountains, p. 217

Vocation

August 14th, 2016

God calls each of us to different vocations. Or, rather, God plants within us these vocations, which are revealed in our desires and longings. In this way God’s desires for the world are fulfilled, as we live out our own deepest desires. Vocation is less about finding one and more about having it revealed to you, as you pray to understand “what I want and desire.”

— James Martin, S.J., The Jesuit Guide to (Amost) Everything, P. 343.

True Deliverance

August 13th, 2016

It is true that Jesus came, in delivering us from our sins, to deliver us also from the painful consequences of our sins. But these consequences exist by the one law of the universe, the true will of God. When that will is broken, suffering is inevitable.

But in the perfection of God’s creation, the result of that suffering is curative. The pain works toward the healing of the breach.

The Lord never came to deliver men from the consequences of their sins while those sins yet remained. That would be to cast out the window the medicine of cure while still the man lay sick. Yet, feeling nothing of the dread hatefulness of their sin, men have constantly taken this word that the Lord came to deliver us from our sins to mean that he came to save them from the punishment of their sins.

This idea has terribly corrupted the preaching of the Gospel. The message of the Good News has not been truly communicated. Unable to believe in the forgiveness of their Father in heaven, imagining him not at liberty to forgive, or incapable of forgiving forthright; not really believing him God who is fully our Savior, but a God bound — either in his own nature or by a law above him and compulsory upon him — to exact some recompense or satisfaction for sin, a multitude of religious teachers have taught their fellow men that Jesus came to bear our punishment and save us from hell. But in that they have misrepresented his true mission.

The mission of Jesus was from the same source and with the same object as the punishment of our sins. He came to do more than take the punishment for our sins. He came as well to set us free from our sin.

No man is safe from hell until he is free from his sin. But a man to whom his sins are a burden, while he may indeed sometimes feel as if he were in hell, will soon have forgotten that he ever had any other hell to think of than that of his sinful condition. For to him his sin is hell. He would go to the other hell to be free of it. Free of his sin, hell itself would be endurable to him.

For hell is God’s and not the Devil’s. Hell is on the side of God and man, to free the child of God from the corruption of death. Not one soul will ever be redeemed from hell but by being saved from his sin, from the evil in him. If hell be needful to save him, hell will blaze, and the worm will writhe and bite, until he takes refuge in the will of the Father. “Salvation from hell” is salvation as conceived by such to whom hell, and not the evil of the sin, is the terror.

— George MacDonald, The Hope of the Gospel, “Salvation From Sin,” quoted in Discovering the Character of God, edited by Michael Phillips, p. 39-40.

Reckoning

August 11th, 2016

Men and women who rise strong are willing and able to reckon with their emotions. First, they recognize that they’re feeling something — a button has been pushed, they’re hooked, something is triggered, their emotions are off-kilter. Second, they get curious about what’s happening and how what they’re feeling is connected to their thoughts and behaviors. Engaging in this process is how we walk into our story.

— Brené Brown, Rising Strong, p. 40