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Steps to Totally Forgiving Others

Since forgiveness is a choice, what is the next step? If we are persuaded that it is right and have decided to do it (and not look back), what next?

1. Make the deliberate and irrevocable choice not to tell anyone what they did.
You may need to do this for therapeutic reasons, but only to one person who in turn will never reveal your heart. Jesus also said that the one who is faithful in the least thing is faithful also in much, and this is the first thing. Do not mention it; refuse to tell anybody.

This isn't necessarily easy sometimes, but when our motive is to hurt another person by telling on them, there is sin on our part. So do not tell it at all or in part; keep it quiet.

2. Be pleasant to them should you be around them.
Do not say or do anything that would make them anxious. Put them at ease. This can be hard to do, certainly harder than the first step. It is we who are afraid when we can't forgive. When we pass our fear to them, it is utterly the opposite of what Jesus would do. He would say, "Fear not." Josif Tson says that there are 366 statements of "Do not fear" (or the equivalent) in the Bible-"One for every day of the year and one for leap year!" he says. God does not want us to fear; we must not do or say anything to cause others to fear. Be nice. Put them at ease. This is what Jesus did when He turned up after His resurrection to 10 disciples behind closed doors. (See John 20:19).

3. If conversation ensues, say that which would set them free from guilt.
Guilt is most painful, and we can easily punish people by sending them on a "guilt trip." Never do that. Remember that Jesus doesn't want us to feel guilty. When we are going to be Jesus to another, then we will not want them to be angry with themselves.

This is a hard one. We get some satisfaction when we think they feel really, really bad. That defuses us and eases our anger somewhat. But if we want to be valiant and utterly magnanimous—thus showing true godliness—we will say whatever is the equivalent of Joseph's words: "Do not be angry with yourselves" (Gen. 45:5). Joseph would not allow his brothers to feel guilty, and this is a choice we too must make. It's hard, but it is what we would want if things were reversed and we needed forgiveness. "Do to others as you would have them do to you" (Luke 6:31).

4. Let them feel good about themselves.
Not only does this mean never reminding them of their wrong and your hurt, but it also means helping them through any guilt they may have. This can be done without any reference to what they did. If it is not in the open, as with Joseph's situation, that is of course different; he let his brothers save face by showing God's sovereign strategy in their sin. But in many cases you will not be able to talk about anything specifically. You can still let them save face, because you know that they know what they did.

You therefore must behave as though you don't even think they did anything wrong! That is hard for all of us, but it must be done. Say whatever you can (as long as it is true) that will give that person a sense of dignity. That is the point of Galatians 6:1: "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted." As long as there is a trace of self-righteousness and pointing the finger, your attempt at total forgiveness will backfire.

5. Protect them from their greatest fear.
If you are aware of some deep, dark secret and fear they have, they will probably know that you know. If they can tell by your graciousness that their secret will never be revealed—ever—to anyone, they will be relieved. You only tell them when you know they know what you know, and you are convinced this would make them feel better. If by reminding them it would obviously not make them feel better, don't even come close!

Remember that Joseph knew his brothers' greatest fear was that their father, Jacob, would learn the truth of their evil deed. Joseph never mentioned this directly but suggested they speak to Jacob in such a way that they wouldn't have to tell him after all. (See Genesis 45:9-13.) It must have given the brothers incalculable relief to know that they were not obliged to tell Jacob. But that is what total forgiveness is all about: setting people free.

6. Keep it up today, tomorrow, this year and next.
Total forgiveness is a lifelong commitment. Some days will be easier than others. There will come a time when you think you are completely over it and have won a total victory—only to find the very next day Satan reminds you of what they did and the utter injustice that they will be unpunished and never exposed. The temptation to bitterness will emerge. After all, we're not perfect! If we say we have no sin—that we are incapable of the same old bitterness—we are deceived (1 John 1:8).

This is exactly why I read Luke 6:37 every day: "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." All commitments to forgive need renewal. In my case, daily. I am not telling you that this is what you must do, but be warned: the devil is cunning. He will come through the back door unexpectedly and try to upset you for forgiving. When you forgave your enemy, you then and there removed that open invitation to the devil to get inside. Satan's favorite rationale is bitterness—he therefore will keep trying to get back into your thought life.

Whether it be Luke 6:37 or another way forward in your case—even if you aren't required to keep it up each day—I can tell you right now that it is only a matter of time before your commitment to forgive will need to be renewed.

7. Pray for them.
"But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matt. 5:44). When you do this from the heart—praying for them to be blessed and off the hook—you're there. It is not a perfunctory prayer, not a "We commit them to You" prayer, and certainly not an "Oh God, please deal with them" prayer. It is praying that God will forgive them—that is, overlook what they have done and bless and prosper them as though they'd never sinned at all.

But as John Calvin said, doing this is "exceedingly difficult." As Chrysostom said, it is the very highest summit of self-control. "Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city" (Prov. 16:32).

Praying for the one who has hurt you or let you down is the greatest challenge of all, for all three reasons:

1. You take a route utterly against the flesh.
2. Nobody will every know you are doing it.
3. Your heart could break when God answers that prayer and truly blesses them  as if they'd never sinned.

And yet Jesus's word to pray for such people is not a polite suggestion; it is a command—and one that may seem so outrageous that you want to dismiss it out of hand. Some see it as a lofty but unrealistic goal.

I remember a church leader turning to me to pray about his son-in-law who had been unfaithful to the leader's daughter. He said to me that his own prayer was only this: that God would "deal" with this man. "This is where I have to come to," he said to me, "that God will deal with him."

I understood what he meant, and I felt for him. I find what people do to our own offspring the hardest things to forgive. I therefore understood what he was feeling. A few days later it was reported that this leader's son-in-law had been in a serious accident. This same church leader was on the phone, glad that the accident had happened. Now in this particular case there was nothing sinister in this euphoria. He simply hoped that the accident would wake up his son-in-law to put his marriage back together. It was so understandable.

But this is not what Jesus means. He is commanding us to pray that our enemy will be blessed. If, however, you should pray that they will be cursed or punished instead of being blessed, just remember that is how your enemy possibly feels about you. After all, have you ever been someone's enemy? Have you ever done something that brought a fellow Christian to tears and brokenness? If so, how would you like that person to pray for you? That God will deal with you? That God will cause you to have an accident? Yet how would it make you feel if they prayed that you would be blessed and let off the hook? That you would prosper as if you'd never sinned? Would you not like that? "Do to others as you would have them do to you" (Luke 6:31).

Jesus wants a sincere prayer from us. It is like signing your name to a document, having it witnessed, and never looking back. You are not allowed to tell the world, "Guess what I did? I have actually prayed for my unfaithful spouse to be blessed." No. It is quiet. Only the angels witness it, but it makes God very happy.

After all, every parent wants their children to get along with one another. No parent likes it when one child comes and squeals on the other and demands that they be punished. The poor parent is put on the spot. What gladdens the heart of every parent is when there is love and forgiveness, and the parent is not put on the spot to have to take sides and punish anyone. That is what we do for God when we ask that He bless and not curse. He told us to pray for our enemies, "that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteousness" (Matt. 5:45).

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Be a Life-Changer

Here are quick and cheap ways to help transform someone else's life.
  • Buy a pair a shoes for a friend or family member from Tom's Shoes. With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need.
  • Help build a house with Habitat for Humanity for a person in need. Join in the fight against poverty housing and homelessness around the world!
  • Volunteer at your local homeless shelter. Homeless shelters welcome volunteers and have a variety of programs through which you can get involved.
  • Make a double batch of cookies the next time you bake and share with a friend or neighbor to brighten their day.
  • Help others learn to read by volunteering as a tutor to help illiterate children and adults with Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. Help transform someone's life today by teaching this important and necessary skill.
  • Offer to babysit, sometimes parents need a break. If a friend or other loved one in your life doesn't get that chance very often, call them and offer to babysit sometime. It can make a big difference.
  • Save a life by giving blood. The American Red Cross estimates that "every two seconds someone in America needs blood" and over 4 million Americans donate to the cause. To learn more about donating blood visit your local American Red Cross.
  • Clean out the garage. No doubt you've got a garage or basement full of stuff you've been meaning to get rid of. Consider having a garage sale and donating the proceeds to a local charity, food pantry or ministry.
  • For those who like to knit and crochet: Knit for Kids has a program to supply sweaters for children of poverty all over the world.
  • Many senior citizen centers offer volunteer programs to provide friendship and community activities to senior citizens. Call your local senior citizen center and volunteer your time. read more

Video: Pam Cope Interview

Pam Cope didn't close her heart when she learned about vulnerable African orphans. Today she is reaching children around the world. Watch her story.

 

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Video: DIY Gift Ideas

Let’s be honest: Christmas gifts aren’t easy in a recession. Here are videos of some practical ways to make your gifts both creative and economical.

Make homemade jams/preserves
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Make homemade play dough

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Make homemade Rudolf Christmas cookies

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The Bible's Archeological Evidence

Atheists scoff at the idea. Some people deny it. But there is archeological evidence of the validity of the Bible. Watch a video montage of proof below.

 

 

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Is Christmas Bad?

Tired of people bashing "Christ's-mass"? Well check out the rich meanings behind the symbols of the season.

Christmas. The word "Christmas" comes from the term Cristesmaesse and is another way of saying "festival" or "celebration." Christmas is the celebration of Christ's birth, or the great feast day of Christ's birth. In other words, Christ is the purpose for the party.

Taking their cue from Old Testament Jewish celebrations and festivals, Christians developed their own feast day commemorating the event and called it "The Feast of the Nativity." It was later called "Christ Mass" or "Christ's Mass" and eventually shortened to "Christmas." read more

Effective Discipleship

Find helpful discipleship tips. 
  • Practice spiritual disciplines. Read the bible daily, confess and repent of your
    sins and pray for the lost. Your relationship with Christ is a priority and the key to effectively discipling others.
  • Remain conservative in your ethics. Remember that pride can be dangerous. Pride may imply that you are judging others falsely, and is said to be the mother of all sins, because pride resides in each one of us.
  • Lead by example. "Do as I say, not as I do" is not an effective way to disciple someone. Make sure your life is worthy of emulating. read more

Do-It-Yourself Gift Ideas

The current economic situation has affected every area of our lives, including our elaborate Christmas budgets. Find creative, sentimental and inexpensive do-it-yourself gift ideas. Sometimes the best gifts cost only a little time.
  • Create a recipe booklet with a collection of all your favorite homemade recipes that have been passed down for generations. Click here for instructions.
  • Make homemade Christmas ornaments that can be used on Christmas trees year after year. Click here to find different designs and instructions on how to make your own ornaments.
  • Make homemade jam and jelly and put them in decorative jars for a nice gift. Click here for holiday recipes.
  • Homemade magnets are a great gift idea for a teacher, friend, neighbor or a family member and they are so simple to make. Click here for instructions on how to create your own Christmas magnets.
  • Bake some homemade cookies and package them in a creative and festive way. Click here for ideas.
  • Gel candles are very popular and a great gift idea. Click here for instructions so you can make your own.
  • Make a Christmas gift basket. Click here for ideas for making your own gift baskets on various Christmas themes.
  • Play dough is a great gift idea for children. You can even make the dough in holiday colors and add Christmas cookie dough cutters for a more festive arrangement. Click here on recipes for play dough and an instructional video.
  • Gift an ‘Herb Garden'. Grow various herbs like Thyme, Rosemary and Basil in small pots. Place these pots in a long plastic flat-bottomed basket or a clay pot and give it to someone that loves to cook. Click here for instructions on how to plant your herb garden.
  • Make a homemade Christmas wreath that they can hang on their door or as home décor. Click here for instructions on how to make a traditional Christmas wreath. read more

Scriptures to Help Control Anger

Is it hard for you to stop your anger from escalating? Here is a list of Scriptures that you can meditate on to help you control your anger.These scriptures were taken from the New King James Version of the Bible.
  1. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm (Psalms 37:8).
  2. A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, and a man of wicked intentions is hated (Proverbs 14:17).
  3. He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly (Proverbs 14:29).
  4. A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 15:1).
  5. He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city (Proverbs 16:32).
  6. The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression (Proverbs 19:11).
  7. Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go,
    Lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul (Proverbs 22:24-25).
  8. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire (Matthew 5:22).
  9. "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil (Ephesians 4:26-27).
  10. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:31-32).
  11. So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20).
  12. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth (Colossians 3:8).
  13. Do not say, "I will recompense evil"; Wait for the LORD, and He will save you (Proverbs 20:22).
  14. A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back (Proverbs 29:11).
  15. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient (2Timothy 2:23-24).
  16. Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing (1Peter 3:8-9).
  17. For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you (Matthew 6:14).
  18. Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools (Ecclesiastes 7:9).
  19. ‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD (Leviticus 19:17-18). read more

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