HOW TO FORGIVE EVEN WHEN IT IS DIFFICULT?

human-brain-470x282We have probably heard the teachings on topic of Forgiveness numerous times. So we are not ignorant regarding the importance of forgiving another and some of us have been living a lifestyle of forgiveness as a Christian. We are probably familiar with the numerous verses in the Bible that talks about forgiveness. Verses like

Matthew 6:14-15 – For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

Mark 11:25 – Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.

Forgiveness set us free. It is also an act of obedience, because the Bible tells us to forgive. Many even prayed to God for help to forgive others who have sinned against them. Whatever is our conviction about forgiveness, we must understand that forgiveness is not a sickness or a condition. Forgiveness is a choice. It is a choice that we make with our free will, a gift from God. Some believers have to keep making the same choice over and over again over the same person and same incident. A sign that unforgiveness is still residing in us.

We have all heard the advice to “give it time” to heal and we will be able to forgive. However, as much as there is a chance that we may find it easier to forgive as time goes passed, there is also an equal chance that the unforgiveness builds up inside us and eventually turned into bitterness. So the hypothesis of “Time is the best medicine” does not apply to every situation.

Let us then try to explore what unforgiveness does to us and how, from a practical standpoint, we can start to forgive even when it is too hard.

THE EFFECT OF UNFORIVENESS

1.     Medical study showed that Unforgiveness causes our body to produce a chemical Cortisol. Cortisol is also known as a fuel for stress. Stress lower our immunity system and medical research suggests that up to 90 percent of all illness and disease is stress-related.

2.     Over a period of time, Cortisol will cause our brain to shrink causing severe headaches and many neurological problems including strokes and ALS. A shrunk brain will become slower affecting our ability to reason and memory.

3.     Unforgiveness is a selfish choice. An unforgiving person will have difficulty showing kindness and genuine care. They are incapable of giving unconditional love therefore they often have problem maintaining healthy relationship. Their insecurities often make them very possessive and often need the security of sex to feel safe in a relationship. If they have any relationship at all it is usually built upon hypocrisy.

4.     Unforgiveness is of the flesh. It is a self-centered
attitude that makes us feel that others do not care about us and are avoiding us. Therefore we often feel lonely, being sidelined or abandoned. This often led to unreasonable demands in relationship causing stress in friendship.

5.     An unforgiving person slips into depression and anxiety constantly.

6.     Unforgiveness and stress cause skin problems making us age faster and develop sicknesses easier.

HOW TO FORGIVE

There are 2 keys that could help us to forgive someone, even when it is hard.

Key 1 : Dying to self
Neuropsychological research tells us that unforgiveness involve 3 parts.

  1.   An expanded sense of self.
  2.   Self preservation – Sensitive to the behavior of others.
  3.   Memory of the event in order to link that injury to the offending person.

The sense of self is located in the area of the Limbic system that deals with our emotions. That is why unforgiveness always involve strong emotions. The first key in forgiveness is dealing with or taking away the “self” part reducing the emotional attachment to the event, making it an experience and memory only. After that, even when we remembered the event, it will not arouse the emotions that were involved, which is an accurate assessment of forgiveness.

Therefore, if we want to forgive someone, take ourselves out of the picture. Sometimes whatever happened was not personal. It is not always about us. We call this attitude “dying to self”.

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Key 2 : Empathy
Neuroscientists now know the part of our brain that deal with forgiveness. This part is situated near to another part of the brain that deals with Empathy. Studies shown that when the Empathy part of the brain is active, it affects the surrounding portions of the brain, including the part that deals with forgiveness.

Empathy is the “identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives.” Sympathy has a connotation of intellectual understanding and pity while empathy implies deeply personal identification on an emotional level. Compassion is the action side of empathy. We feel empathy and show compassion.

Hebrews 2:17-18 : Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.

So the 2 keys of forgiveness are dying to self and empathy. It is amazing that the Word of God although written at least 2000 years ago talks about this 2 keys repeatedly. It further proves the greatest of God and His unsearchable wisdom and power.


STEPS TO FORGIVENESS

There are 5 steps to forgiveness.

Step 1: ACCEPT
James 4:6 – But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

First we have to accept the fact that we have been hurt. It could be our closest friend or someone we looked up to, it could be anyone. Then we also have to accept the fact that we have tried but are still unable to forgive. We have to stop lying to ourselves that everything is okay. Finally we must understand that we need to deal with that unforgiveness.

Step 2: KNOWING
John 8:32 – and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

Know that Forgiveness is far greater than the need to be right. Unforgiveness will kill us both physically and spiritually. Our unforgiveness will hurt people around us especially those we care and love most.

Step 3: STOP RE-TELLING
Proverbs 10:19 – When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.

The more we tell the harder to forgive due to PRIDE. When we tell we are reliving the incident again and again, the hurts will get deeper and deeper. It pollutes the thoughts of those we told creating hindrances to their Christian walk. If you have to tell, change the way the story is told to promote reconciliation.

Step 4 : GET OUT QUICK
Isaiah 43:18-19
“Do not call to mind the former things, r ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new …. I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.

ACCEPT that there were legitimate reason(s) that drove the other person behaviour. Use the 2 keys of forgiveness mentioned above, dying to self and empathy. We must also ACCEPT that there were many reasons why we behaved that way. It matters how we think and act from this moment onwards. The past is over. It cannot be changed. Only the future can. We determine our future.

Step 5 : ACTS OF LOVE
Romans 12:18 – If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men

Actions that follow the decision to forgive helps to heal and rebuild what has been damaged. It helps in our forgiveness process and gives us the drive to move forward. In performing the acts of love remember always not to procrastinate be the first one who initiate communication. If you are the transgressor, apologize and ask forgiveness and for guidance in making amends. Yes making amends, it really helps.

If an apology was offered be ready to accept the apology, and offer forgiveness.
If nothing seemed to be happening in a meeting apologize using “If I have sin against you ……”.

Repeat step 1 to 5 if the result is not ideally what you hope to achieve.

In conclusion, forgiveness is beneficial to us. Unforgiveness can cause serious health issues to us affect our immune system, intelligence and the ability to relate to one another. There 2 main keys in a forgiveness process. First involve the removing of self in the whole matter which actually mean dying to self and the other is empathy, putting ourselves into the offender’s shoe. Forgiveness is a process. The choice of forgiving someone is only the beginning. Constant acts of love help us to put things in prospective and help us to heal and move forward together. Finally, before we decide to do anything, the bible says in Philippines 4:6 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Always pray before we decide to do anything and the grace of God will accompany us.

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THERE ARE NO SUCH THING AS A GAY GENE

gene

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32.

” In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not [b]comprehend it.”  John 1:4-5

Many around the world believe that Homosexuality is inherited during conception. They believe that it is a gene thing and that a gay person is inborn into one, he/she has no choice.  Even the Christian Church and many Christians has accept the fact that God has somehow allow these special people with special gene to be created, either because God made a mistake or He purposely did it for some reason. Hence we can see many Churches has accepted the LGBT and their lifestyle, even to the extend of gay marriage.

The underlining message that the church is sending is one that blame God for His imperfection in creation and since it is God’s fault, we have to right His wrong by overlooking the sins of these imperfect creations of God in the name of love.

Shame on you!  You have brought shame to the name of God.  Not only have you corrupted His church, you defiled God’s people by teaching them to do the same.  You have turned away from God and sought allegiance with the devil, professing his lies, driving people to their destruction.

The bible say “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Matthew 5:48.

The truth is the Churches and Christians who support the gay community, have been deceived!  The unending disputes whether the bible is against or indifference regarding Homosexuality and same gender marriage has always been based on the widely publicized “fact” that gay is genetic. The “genetic and unchangeable” theory has been actively promoted by gay activists and the media. Is homosexuality really an inborn and normal variant of human nature?

No. There is no evidence that shows that homosexuality is simply “genetic.” And none of the research claims there is.

The research of Dean Hamer in 1993 claims that there might be a gene for homosexuality.  However, his research result was not repeatable, so as many of the later researches.  The reason why later researches or experiments do not yield the same results only mean that certain variables has been omitted.

Comments from Genes and behavior. Science 1994:
“Time and time again, scientists have claimed that particular genes or chromosomal regions are associated with behavioral traits, only to withdraw their findings when they were not replicated. “Unfortunately,” says Yale’s [Dr. Joel] Gelernter, “it’s hard to come up with many” findings linking specific genes to complex human behaviors that have been replicated. “…All were announced with great fanfare; all were greeted unskeptically in the popular press; all are now in disrepute.” ”

Even when Dea Hamer was asked by Scientific American if homosexuality was rooted solely in biology. He replied:  “Absolutely not. From twin studies, we already know that half or more of the variability in sexual orientation is not inherited. Our studies try to pinpoint the genetic factors…not negate the psychosocial factors.”

Thus, to their fellow scientists, the researchers have been honestly acknowledging the limitations of their research. However, the media doesn’t understand that message. Columnist Ann Landers, for example, tells her readers that “homosexuals are born, not made.” The media offers partial truths because the scientific reality is simply too unexciting to make the evening news; too complex for mass consumption; and furthermore, not fully and accurately understood by reporters.

Then we have the Neuroscientists claim that the brain structure of gays are different from those who are not.  However, as a scientist, one is well aware that the brain changes with use…indeed quite dramatically. Those parts responsible for an activity get larger over time, and there are specific parts of the brain that are more utilized by a certain group of people living a similar lifestyle.  For example basketball players brain will be very similar as they utilized a certain part of their brain more than other parts so one will find certain similarity in their brain structure.

We must understand that “Associated With” Does Not Mean “Caused By”.  Taking the example of basketball players, you find a small number of families of basketball players and compare them to some families of nonplayers. You have a hunch that of the innumerable genes likely to be associated with basketball playing (those for height, athleticism, and quick reflexes, for example), some will be located on the x-chromosome.

You won’t say these genes cause basketball playing because such a claim would be scientifically insupportable, but the public thinks “caused by” and “associated with” are synonymous.

After a few false starts, sure enough, you find what you are looking for: among the basketball-playing families, one particular cluster of genes is found more commonly.

What the majority of respected scientists now believe is that homosexuality is attributable to a combination of psychological, social, and biological factors.

From the American Psychological Association
“[M]any scientists share the view that sexual orientation is shaped for most people at an early age through complex interactions of biological, psychological and social factors.”{6}

From “Gay Brain” Researcher Simon LeVay
“At this point, the most widely held opinion [on causation of homosexuality] is that multiple factors play a role.”{7}

From Dennis McFadden, University of Texas neuroscientist:
“Any human behavior is going to be the result of complex intermingling of genetics and environment. It would be astonishing if it were not true for homosexuality.”{8}

From Sociologist Steven Goldberg
“I know of no one in the field who argues that homosexuality can be explained without reference to environmental factors.”{9}

As we have seen, there is no evidence that homosexuality is simply “genetic”–and none of the research itself claims there is.

So, my fellow Christians, do not be deceived.  Gay is not a mistake by God.  They are not genetically created.  If you are a Christian and a gay, you do not have any excuse to continue your lifestyle.  God can help you.  Do not believe the cheap gospel that it is okay.  It is not okay!  God is good and He will help when you draw near to Him.

To the church, do not compromise.  If you have done it ignorantly, repent and lead your church to repentance.  Let us make a stand for God and intercede for the church of God to come to repentance and be strong.  Let us pray for our nation and  government to make wise decision knowing righteousness will exalt a nation.

In Jesus Name.  Amen!

HOW TO ENCOURAGE OURSELVES?

church-split

“Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”  (1Samuel 30:6)

David went through a terrible terrible time here in his life.  This must the time he felt most lonely and venerable. However, the bible tell us he strengthened himself in the Lord.  We must remember that David did not encourage himself in himself, but he encourage himself in the Lord his God. What is the difference here, you may ask?  The difference is self-encourage can be self-protectionism if we rely on our flesh.  But self-encouragement in the Lord is reliance on God.

Many churches go through church splits, some even go through it more than once.  This causes pain and disappointment, some even felt being betrayed in the result especially the leaders and the pastoral body of the church.  We know discouragements do not come from God but from the adversary, the devil.  Discouragements often prevent progress and caused vision to be clouded so they we cannot find our way around.  It make us feel insecure and sorry for ourselves so that we will fall back on our own self preservation instinct which rely on our fear and our humanly wisdom.

What are the common reactions of a church who just went through a split?

1.     The head (AKA “the leadership”) will start to keep a closer watch especially of the leaders. Leaders are often advise not to organize any fellowship without the approval of the leadership.  At least they must informed beforehand.

2.     The leadership finds it hard to trust.  Delegation of responsibilities are often partial and comes with strict instructions that forbid the use of personal skills and gifting restricting creativity.  The leadership is extremely weary of gifted leaders especially those with strong inter-personal skills. This fear is often regard as wisdom of God mistakenly.

3.     Unity in church is still being promoted but it tends to become superficial type rather than bonding in the love of the Lord.  Examples of activities like games, food and outings which are fun and promote unity in fun but not in the bond of love.

4.     Under the above spirit, believers in the church are usually superficial as well.  They are encouraged to participate and excel in areas regrading Christian works rather than the walk.  Believers are often busy but not strong, Church-reliance but not self-reliance on the Lord.  this often create followers but not thinkers.

5.     Often obedient individuals are praised and a welcome sight for the leadership, especially the leaders. These are often named as like-minded individual.   On the other hand, voices of suggestions and criticisms are not welcome and are curbed eventually citing wrong spirit or different mind-set.

6.     The church usually dictate forced groupings.  Force groupings are a sign of control separation.

7.     Under the excuse of mingling with one another, the church will feel need to regroup periodically.  Like the worldly organizations, to prevent over familiarization which may cause trouble.  Church is not a society club!

8.     The leadership will over react in any event of cross group fellowship or meeting.  Leaders are often advised not to cross the boundary of their groupings even if relationships have been build before that.

9.   The church will feel the need to enforcing strict rules, for example, no holding of hands or hugging between a boy and a girl unless spouses or siblings ; no boy girl relationship until 21, no listening or singing of non-christian songs, Christians are friends but non-Christians are not, just targets … etc.  Such rules seemed sounded but are overly controlled discouraging personal convictions and the use of Godly sense. Believers will never grow strong but will fall in the first encounter of problems.  These are just rules based on individual and personal convictions.

These behaviors will cause the church to be suspicious of one another.  Doubts will flow among the believers with fear of being taken advantage of.  Gifting and skills are being oppressed in the name of God’s timing.  Godliness is being treated as weirdness.  The Holy Spirit is not given the freedom to move as it please in the name of Order.  The people became dry and not spirit-led since even the worship methods and style is being dictated by the leadership.  The people are not founded strongly in the Lord and the Word but in activities and fun.  They will grow itchy ears swayed to every wind of doctrine.  The church is freed from the death of sins but are entrapped by their own fear unable to be effective for the Lord.

Understand that such a church will continue to lose people and the splitting will continue because the only remedy for it is strong relationship and good Godly values.  It is not disagreement that caused the church to split but the inability to deal with disagreement.  A mature and strong congregation is the answer.

How to encourage ourselves in the Lord?

1.     Know that being discourage is a choice, you can choose not to be discourage.  the bird may fly above your head but you don’t have to let it build a nest on your head.

2.     We have a covenant with God and He has committed Himself to take care of you in every situation.  God is faithful.

3.     Stop thinking and speaking the lies of the enemy but start speaking the promises of God who loves you and you will condition your thinking accordingly.  Perfect love cast out fear.

4.     Meditate on the Lord.  Talk to God.  Fill your mind with Him and His Word.  Do not allow doubt or fear to enter.  In ALL you Ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.

5.     Gather yourself with encouraging people to encourage one another, not to complain or gossip or wallow in pity parties but to support one another in the Lord through prayer.

6.     Continue to trust and love one another.  Usually strong relationships are built in such a time as this.  A relationship that have gone through hardship together are hard to break.

7.     Always acknowledge mistakes and not blaming it on anyone.  Don’t even give any excuses for the mistakes.  Only then, we will learn from it and become stronger.

8.     If God send help, remember to trust.  Do not doubt God.  Trust beget trust.

9.     God is still in control.  Remember that you will always emerged stronger and better.  Be patient! God timing is always perfect.

Let us build a church that is founded on the Word and focused on the Lord.  A church of love and not fear.  A church that shines in the the darkness and reflect the light of Jesus in this dark world so that those who live in it can find their way to the Lord.