Jan 30 2010

Love Dare - Day 25

 

Love Forgives

 

What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ. – 2 Corinthians 2:10

 

 

This one is tough – perhaps the toughest dare in the book.  But if there is to be any hope for your marriage, this is a challenge that must absolutely be taken seriously.  Counselors and ministers who deal with broken couples on a regular basis will tell you that this is the most complex problem of all, a rupture that is often the last to be repaired.  It cannot just be considered and contemplated but must be deliberately put into practice.  Forgiveness has to happen, or a successful marriage won’t.

 

Jesus painted a vivid image of forgiveness in His parable of the ungrateful servant.  A man who owed a sizable sum of money was surprised when his master heard his appeals for mercy and totally canceled his debt.  But upon being released from this enormous load, the servant did a most unexpected thing; he went to another man who owed him a much smaller amount and demanded immediate payment.  When the master heard of it, things changed dramatically in his arrangement with the slave.  “His lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him” (Matthew 18:34).  A day that had begun with joy and relief ended in grief and hopelessness.

 

Torture. Prison. When you think of unforgiveness, this is what should come to your mind, for Jesus said, “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of does not forgive his brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:35).

 

Imagine you find yourself in a prison-like setting.  As you look around, you see a number of cells visible from where you’re standing.  You see people from your past incarcerated there – people who wounded you as a child.  You see people you once called friends but who wronged you at some point in life.  You might see one or both of your parents there, perhaps a brother or sister or some other family member.  Even your spouse is locked in nearby, trapped with all the others in this jail of your own making.

 

This prison, you see, is a room in your own heart.  This dark, drafty, depressing chamber exists inside you every day.  But not far away, Jesus is standing there, extending to you a key that will release every inmate.

 

No. You don’t want any part of it.  These people have hurt you too badly.  They knew what they were doing and yet they did it anyway – even your spouse, the one you should have been able to count on most of all.  So you resist and turn away.  You’re unwilling to stay here any longer – seeing Jesus, seeing the key in His hand, knowing what He’s asking you to do.  It’s just too much.

 

But in trying to escape, you make a startling discovery.  There is no way out.  You’re trapped inside with all other captives.  Your unforgiveness, anger, and bitterness have made a prisoner of you as well.  Like the servant in Jesus’ story, who was forgiven an impossible debt, you have chosen not to forgive and have been handed over to the jailers and torturers.  Your freedom is now dependent on your forgiveness.

 

Coming to this conclusion usually takes us a while. We see all kinds of dangers and risks involved in forgiving others.  For instance, what they did was really wrong, whether they admit it or  not.  They may not even be sorry about it.  They may feel perfectly justified in their actions, even going so far as to blame you for it.  But forgiveness doesn’t absolve anyone of blame.  It doesn’t clear their record with God.  It just clears you of having to worry about how to punish them.  When you forgive another person, you’re not turning them loose.  You’re just turning them over to God, who can be counted on to deal with them His way.  You’re saving yourself the trouble of scripting any more arguments or trying to prevail in this situation.  It’s not about winning and losing anymore. It’s about freedom.  It’s about letting go.

 

That’s why you often hear people who have genuinely forgiven say, “It felt like a weight being lifted off my shoulders.”  Yes, that’s exactly what it is.  It’s like a breath of fresh air rushing into your hear.  The stale dankness of the prison house is flooded with light and coolness.  For the first time in a long time, you feel at peace.  You feel free.

 

But how do you do it?  You release your anger and the responsibility for judging this person to the Lord.  “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

 

How do you know you’ve done it?  You know it when the thought of their name or the sight of their face – rather than causing your blood to boil – causes you to feel sorry for them instead, to pity them, to genuinely hope they get this turned around.

 

There’s so much more that could be said and so many emotional issues you may need to fight through to get there.  But great marriages are not created by people who never hurt each other, only by people who choose to keep “no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5).

 

 

Today’s Dare

 

Whatever you haven’t forgiven in your mate, forgive it today.  Let it go.  Just as we ask Jesus to “forgive us our debts” each day, we must ask Him to help us “forgive our debtors” each day as well.  Unforgiveness has been keeping you and your spouse in prison too long.  Say from your heart, “I choose to forgive.”

 

Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.  (Luke 23:34).

 

 

Click here to buy a copy of The Love Dare book.  

Click here for a free online journal for the full 40 day challenge.

 

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group. Used by permission.  Unauthorized reproduction in any format is strictly prohibited by law.

Jan 29 2010

Love Dare - Day 24

Love vs. Lust

 

The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.  – 1 John 2:17

 

Adam and Eve were supplied with everything they needed in the Garden of Eden.  They had fellowship with God and intimacy with one another.  But after Eve was deceived by the serpent, she saw the forbidden fruit and set her heart on it.  Before long, Adam joined in her wishes, and against God’s command both of them ate.

 

That’s the progression.  From eyes to heart to action.  And then follows shame and regret.

 

We, too, have been supplied with everything we need for a full, productive, enriching life.  “We have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either” (1 Timothy 6:7).  But the Bible goes on to say that, having basics of food and clothing, we should be “content.”  And Jesus promised these two things would always be provided to God’s children (Matthew 6:25-33).

 

God’s blessings, however, go so far beyond these fundamental needs, we could rightly say that we want for nothing.  Yet like Adam and Eve, we still want more.  So we set our eyes and hearts on seeking worldly pleasure.  We try to meet legitimate needs in illegitimate ways.  For many it’s seeking sexual fulfillment in another person or in pornographic images designed to feel like a real person.  We look, stare, and fantasize.  We try to be discreet but barely turn our eyes away.  And once our eyes are capture by curiosity, our hearts become entangled. Then we act on our lust.

 

We can also lust after possessions or power or prideful ambition.  We see what others have and we want it.  Our hearts are deceived into saying, “I could be happy if I only had this.”  Then we make the decision to go after it.

 

“But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9).

 

Lust is in opposition to love.  It means to set your heart and passions on something forbidden.  And for a believer it’s the first step out of fellowship with the Lord and with others.  That’s because every object of your lust – whether it’s a young coworker or a film actress, or coveting after a half-million dollar house or a sports car – represents the beginnings of a lie.  This person or thing that seems to promise sheer satisfaction is more like a bottomless pit of unmet longings.

 

Lust always breeds more lust.  “What is the source of the wars and the fights among you?  Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you?  (James 4:1 HCSB).  Lust will make you dissatisfied with your husband or wife.  It breeds anger, numbs hearts, and destroys marriages.  Rather than fullness, it leads to emptiness.

 

It’s time to expose lust for what it really is – a misguided thirst for satisfaction that only God can fulfill.  Lust is like a warning light on the dashboard of your heart, alerting you to the fact that you are not allowing God’s love to fill you.  When your eyes and heart are on Him, your actions will lead you to lasting joy, not to endless cycles of regret and condemnation.

 

“His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.  For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

 

Are you tired of being lied to by lust?  Are you fed up with believing that forbidden pleasures are able to keep you happy and content?  Then begin setting your eyes on the Word of God.  Let His promises of peace and freedom work their way into your heart.  Daily receive the unconditional love He has already proven to your through the cross. Focus on being grateful for everything God has already given you rather than choosing discontentment.

 

You’ll find yourself so full on what He provides, you won’t be hungry anymore for the junk food of lust.

 

And while you’re at it, set your eyes and heart on your spouse again.  “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth … Be exhilarated always with her love.  For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress and embrace the bosom of a foreigner?  For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He watches all his paths” (Proverbs 5:18-21).

 

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).  Lust is the best this world has to offer, but love offers you the best life in the world.

 

 

Today’s Dare

 

End it now.  Identify every object of lust in your life and remove it.  Single out every lie you’ve swallowed in pursuing forbidden pleasure and reject it.  Lust cannot be allowed to live in a back bedroom.  It must be killed and destroyed – today – and replaced with the sure promises of God and a heart filled with His perfect love.

 

Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil.  (1 Peter 2:16)

 

 

Click here to buy a copy of The Love Dare book.  

Click here for a free online journal for the full 40 day challenge.

 

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group. Used by permission.  Unauthorized reproduction in any format is strictly prohibited by law.

 

Jan 29 2010

Visiting Orphans in Haiti

The ministry Visiting Orphans are in Haiti now providing care and medical treatment for orphans following the devastating earthquake.  We had a chance to check in with Amanda Lawrence with VisitingOrphan.org and Dr. Carrie Dutton this morning - to follow along with the work they are doing in Haiti, check out the link below.

Click here for videos, pictures, and stories out of Haiti today...

Jan 28 2010

Married 81 years - what's their secret?

Vern & Verbal Isenhower have been married 81 years.  So what's their secret to such a long marriage?  We attempted to find out when we tracked down this Kansas couple.  Click the link below to HEAR the very loud conversation ...

Vern & Verbal