Blog: Faith


Don't Get Stuck Looking Back

Posted in: Faith | By: Dean
March 19, 2012


Church Hoppers

Posted in: Faith | By: Dean Smith
August 2, 2011

My pastor was so great, until he really started ticking me off. When I began attending my church in the year 2000, I thought my pastor could do no wrong and I felt very committed to him and our church. His teachings were relevant, timely, and inspirational. After a couple of years, I began to see some of his flaws and began questioning some of his ministry decisions. I found myself becoming judgmental and the things he would say began to offend me. Bitterness set in and soon his preaching was no longer inspiring to me. My wife and I began plotting our escape to find a “better” church.
Christians today are dealing with the same predicament. They have become offended by someone or something and so they think they should leave for greener pastures. I realize there are some instances of legitimate reasons to leave a church, but today I’m talking about all the “other” reasons. Maybe you don’t like the way the pastor takes offering. The music is too loud. The services are too long. Many people are quickly leaving churches when they see faults with its  leadership or fellow members. Today, I’m recommending that we first take our offense to God to help us evaluate the legitimacy of our complaint.
If you are really in the church God wants you to be in, the devil will try hard to offend you to get you out and coerce you to leave. Jesus said, “It is impossible that no offenses should come” (Luke 17:1). The very word, “offense” is translated from the Greek to mean a trap or stumbling block. A trap is meant to lure you in and keep you locked down. Be aware: you will eventually be offended with someone at church. The apostle Paul says, “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men” (Acts 24:16). When we exercise our body, we undergo painful situations so that we can build our muscles. Paul was explaining that by enduring painful trials, he has built up his “forgiveness muscles”, so that he can live a life free from offense and unforgiveness. In this case, instead of bench pressing 200lbs or running on the treadmill, we acknowledge our bitterness toward members or leaders in the church and we ask God for help.
In my situation, what God showed me was that I was the one who had the problem. I was offended at trivial issues and it was negatively filtering both my church and Christian experience. A friend suggested that I should pray about the issue and let the Holy Spirit guide me to decide what I should do. So, instead of being rash and abruptly leaving my church home, I asked God for wisdom. I was then able to approach my pastor with peace in my heart to authentically get understanding about my issues. We had a conversation that was rooted in genuine love and although he didn’t change his methods, my offense disappeared. It’s amazing what a little prayer and communication can do. If God is the one who led you to your church, He should also be the only one who can lead you away from it.
Although I was close to just simply leaving my church and starting fresh somewhere else, God helped me to persevere. It has served as one of the better learning experiences of my life. If I would have run when I was offended, I would have brought that bitterness directly into the new church only to get offended there, too. If you are offended right now at one of the members or leaders in your church; don’t fret. You now have your best opportunity to exercise those forgiveness muscles and allow God’s love to see you through! Sometimes God will lead you to another church, but in most cases, all you need is prayer and loving communication.Having now attended my church for more than a decade, I can truly say it is a family I could not imagine leaving. Some of my best memories are with my church family. Thank God I didn’t leave when things got a little bumpy.

How Many Times Do I Have To Forgive Em?

Posted in: Faith | By: Dean Smith
August 1, 2011

In our frustration toward someone who keeps sinning against us, we might find ourselves, saying, “How many times do I have to forgive this person? They're driving me nuts!”
I’m sure most married people have thought it toward their spouse at one time or another. The question is actually flawed in nature. See, if we understood the true nature and power of forgiveness then we would never ask how many times we HAVE to forgive.
Jesus explains this the best when he is confronted by Peter with the question, “...Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven."
(Matthew 18:21-22)
Although, I don’t believe He wanted us to take it literally, let’s look at the numbers just for fun. He said, to forgive 70x7 times. 70x7 = 490. If you sleep eight hours each day, you’re awake 16 hours. How many minutes are in 16 hours? 960. Jesus taught us to forgive 490 times in 24 hours. 960 divided by 490 is 1.95. This means that we are to forgive the same person for the same offense once every minute and 50 seconds of every day. Jesus was letting us know that forgiveness needs to occur continually around the clock without thinking about an end. We need to live to forgive.
Matthew 18:35 says that we are to “forgive from our heart,” or we will be turned over to the tormentors. To be turned over to the tormentors has been explained by theologians as everything including: physical ailments, mental illnesses, demons, addictions, and self-condemnation. You may have read or spoken the Lord’s prayer, where you ask, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
It is God’s law that He will forgive us as we forgive others. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Every time someone sins against us they injure our soul. God wants to heal us but He can’t unless we give him permission by practicing forgiveness. Jesus was trying to let us know that if we don’t forgive then He won’t be able to do the work in us that He so desperately wants to do. 
God expects us to put our lifestyle of forgiveness on automatic so that He can work in our life without any blockades. We trust that we can forgive anyone for anything because of God’s Holy Spirit working in us. We know that we should because it’s what He commands and because it’s the best thing for us. The more we forgive the more God can work in our life.
So, the question is not “how many times do we HAVE to forgive em” but how quickly, effectively, and powerfully do we want God’s Holy Spirit to be able to heal us of our own sin and give us the strength to live a blessed life of joy, peace and love.

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