Why Forgive?

Alyson Kieda —  April 16, 2014 — 1 Comment

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Forgiveness isn’t easy, especially when it seems you are continually forgiving the same person over and over again. If you’re like me, you may forgive, sometimes grudgingly, but you wonder, When will that person ever change? Shouldn’t there be a limit to my forgiveness?

And the act of forgiving can be even more difficult when you learn the extent to which someone you know harmed your loved one and masqueraded the harm done under supposed Christian loving care and concern. Recently, a wound inflicted on my loved one resurfaced. As I learned of the additional harm that that person had caused, my blood boiled. I felt so angry and helpless and full of regrets for what I could have done, if only I had known. But mostly, I wanted to cause that person harm—maybe not physically (although, if I’m honest, the thought did cross my mind) but definitely emotionally. I wanted that person to suffer for what he/she had done.

I spouted and cried and finally prayed about it. I’m working on forgiving that person once again, but it would be so easy to hold on and nurse the anger and hurt—and to retaliate. But I know that God calls me to forgive. And saying “no” to revenge is the first step. (I’m so glad that God keeps me from acting on such thoughts!)

I think of Peter’s inquiry of Jesus: “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (Matthew 18:21 ESV). How did Jesus respond? “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven” (v.22). Jesus did not make that statement lightly or casually. He knew what was soon to come.

What lay before Jesus was betrayal and desertion by His closest friends, humiliation, a brutal beating, mock trials, excruciating pain, and a horrible death. He had much inflicted upon His person that He needed to forgive. Yet He did so willingly! And He not only forgave those sins, but He suffered and died to pay the price for all the sins in the past, present, and future of all who believed in Him, so that they “should not perish but have eternal life.” Why? “Because God so loved the world” (John 3:16). God loves us that much!

In turn, He calls us to forgive others the way He has forgiven us. No, it’s not easy. It’s impossible! But it’s the renovation of our hearts by the indwelling Holy Spirit that enables us to begin growing a heart of forgiveness. When I think of the many sins that I’ve committed—and how much God has personally forgiven me—forgiving others gets a little easier.

 

 

 

destructivemarriage-650x220bPastors, counselors, and ministry leaders at all levels are often the first responders couples turn to when struggling in their marriages. Unfortunately, ministers are often overwhelmed and not well trained to discern when the issues they are drawn into are normal marital conflict or emotional abuse.

Leslie Vernick and Chris Moles joined us on April 2, 2014, for a heart-to-heart discussion about how the church and people of faith can begin to address the growing problem of emotionally destructive marriages. Leslie brought her 30 years of experience as a counselor and relationship coach to help people helpers better understand that they can help couples ensnared in emotionally destructive marriages.

Chris, himself a senior pastor, also serves as a Batterer Intervention Specialist who has ministered to over 200 men who have been convicted of some form of domestic violence. Chris shared his passion, experience, and wisdom shepherding his local flock as well as a group of abusers that most of society has written off.

Together Leslie and Chris offered a uniquely Christian perspective on how to see, understand, and confront the emotionally destructive patterns in those who are abused and those who abuse.

In keeping with our ministry commitment to make the life-changing wisdom of the Bible understandable and accessible to all, we are making the content of this webinar available without cost or obligation to you and anyone you’d like to share it with.

To listen to the audio recording from the webinar, click the link: Shepherding the Emotionally Destructive Marriage.

To download the PowerPoint from the webinar, click the link: Shepherding the Emotionally Destructive Marriage PPT.

To get a free sample download from Leslie Vernick’s book, click the book title link: The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope. If you are interested in requesting a review copy of Leslie’s book, WaterBrook/Multnomah Press has graciously agreed to a free limited time offer of a review copy by clicking the following link: The Emotionally Destructive Marriage.

As a special gift to you as a pastor, counselor, or ministry leader, Leslie would also like to offer a special gift, thanking you for attending this webinar. Leslie is making available an ebooklet of previously unpublished material focused on the church’s response to emotionally destructive marriages. Click on this link, The Church’s Response To Emotionally Destructive Marriages, to receive that free material. Leslie is also offering 2 free training DVD’s to help you in your work with couples in emotionally destructive marriages. You can receive these additional resources by clicking on: Training DVD’s.

For a free download of an RBC booklet by counselors Jeff Olson & Tim Jackson (one of our hosts) click the title link: When Violence Comes Home. Another booklet on verbal abuse by Jeff Olson is also available at: When Words Hurt. Herb Vander Lugt, one of RBC Ministries’ past research editors, wrote a booklet about God’s heart for women living in abusive relationships. Click here for his booklet: God’s Protection for Women.

For further resources from RBC Ministries to help you understand more about abuse and what can be done to stop it, click the link: Abuse.

destructivemarriage-650x220 (1)All marriages struggle. A certain level of conflict is normal. But some conflict goes way beyond normal. It becomes harmful to the body and soul of those who are victims of this emotionally destructive form of abuse. So when does it step over a line and become destructive and dangerous?

Leslie Vernick and Chris Moles joined us on March 5, 2014, for a heart-to-heart conversation about how we can begin to address the growing problem of emotionally destructive marriages. Leslie brought her 30 years of experience as a counselor and relationship coach to help us better understand that there is hope and help for those entrapped in emotionally destructive marriages.

Chris is a senior pastor and a Batterer Intervention Specialist who brought his experience and wisdom from years of teaching the Scriptures to his local flock and ministering to over 200 men who have been convicted of some form of domestic violence.

Together they combined forces to enable us to offer a uniquely Christian perspective on how to see, understand, and confront the emotionally destructive patterns in marriages at risk.

In keeping with our ministry commitment to make the life-changing wisdom of the Bible understandable and accessible to all, we are making the content of this webinar available without cost or obligation to you and anyone you’d like to share it with.

To listen to the audio recording from the webinar as well as the bonus feature 30 minute Q&A after the webinar, click the link: The Emotionally Destructive Marriage.

To download the PowerPoint from the webinar, click the link: The Emotionally Destructive Marriage PPT.

To get a free sample download from Leslie Vernick’s book, click the book title link: The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope. For additional resources from Leslie, check out her website at: www.leslievernick.com.

For a free download of an RBC booklet by counselors Jeff Olson & Tim Jackson (one of our hosts) click the title link: When Violence Comes Home. Another booklet on verbal abuse by Jeff Olson is also available at: When Words Hurt.

For further resources from RBC Ministries to help you understand more about abuse and what can be done to stop it, click the link: Abuse.

Jesus Loves You!

Alyson Kieda —  February 12, 2014 — 4 Comments

God’s Amazing Love/flickr/Creative Commons/Paul Dallgas-Frey

Some of the finest and dearest people I know struggle with believing that God loves them. They believe that they are far too sinful, too unlovable, or too unworthy to be loved by God. They have received Jesus as their Savior but still doubt that His love extends to them. They have no trouble believing that He loves everyone else, but they just can’t fathom the idea that God could possibly love someone like them—someone so undeserving.

Once upon a time, I was one of them. I struggled with my sinfulness, with the ugly words I spoke and with the ugliness inside me. How could God love me, I reasoned, when I failed to live up the standards of what a Christian should be?! I was such a lowly worm.

Thankfully, I now have complete assurance that God loves me—even me! Why? Is it because I’m sinning less and growing more like Him? Nope. Is it because I’m serving in my church? No, not even that. Have I done something to deserve His love? No and no again.

Even though I’m a Christian, I continue to sin. I am totally undeserving of God’s love. Yet I know that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8). That’s the key. God loves us because He chose to love us—not because of how lovable we are but because He is the God of love. He loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for us, to pay the debt for our sins (past, present, and future) that we could never pay. Because of what He did, I am considered righteous in His eyes.

It’s a simple yet profound truth that so many fail to grasp—or believe. But I know it’s true. The Bible tells me so, and the Spirit inside me confirms that truth: Jesus loves me. And if you have received Him as your Savior, He loves you too!

despitedoubtw_650x220-recorded-onDoubts are a common struggle for many who have embraced the Christian faith as well as for those who are still considering faith. Doubts are those nagging questions that plague us when life’s struggles push us to wrestle with the hard questions about what’s true and good and really matters.

On Wednesday, February 5, 2014, RBC Ministries Webinars hosted Dr. Michael Wittmer in a live webinar event: “Doubt: A Friend or Foe of Faith?” Dr. Wittmer shared his insights in a lively conversation with our hosts Tim Jackson and Dennis Moles. Many who attended the live event learned practical information on how to struggle well with the doubts that plague us during times of struggle and heartache. Things like:

  • Understanding the difference between “objective” and “subjective” doubt
  • Understanding the difference between “sincere” and “insincere” doubt
  • How doubt can hinder our growth in the faith
  • How doubt can enhance our trust and dependence upon the God of the Bible

In keeping with our ministry commitment to make the life-changing wisdom of the Bible understandable and accessible to all, we are making the content of this webinar available without cost or obligation to you and anyone you’d like to share it with.

To listen to the audio recording from the webinar, click the link: Doubt: A Friend or Foe of Faith?

To download the PowerPoint from the webinar, click the link: Doubt: A Friend or Foe of Faith PPT.

To get a free sample download from Dr. Wittmer’s book, click the book title link: Despite Doubt: Embracing a Confident Faith.

For a free download of a RBC booklet by Dennis Moles, one of our hosts, click the title link: Beyond Reasonable Doubt: The Truth About The Bible.

For further resources on understanding more about why we doubt and how we can handle it from RBC Ministries, click the link: Doubt.

Ever had doubts? I sure have. Even though I grew up in a Christian home, I wrestled with all kinds of doubts. I had doubts even after making a decision to follow Jesus as a young child. I was haunted by questions like: Was I sincere enough? Did I really believe? Did I say the right words (as if they were somehow magical)? If I did believe, then why was I still sinning? Was my sin proof that I really didn’t believe?

Dr. Michael Wittmer states, “If we have doubts that are troubling, that’s a good sign that indeed we do have faith. Why? Because if our doubts weren’t troubling to us, then we’d really have reason to question whether or not we’re a part of the family of God.”

Mike is our guest on our next webinar on . . . you guessed it, doubt. Mike has written a new book on this crucial issue that many struggle with, and he’ll be sharing his insights in a live discussion with me and my co-host Dennis Moles tomorrow, on February 5, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. EST. Click the webinar title if you’re interested in joining the live event: Doubt: A Friend or Foe of Faith?

Can’t make it at that time? Sign up anyway, and we’ll direct you to the archive and free resources after the live web event.

 

 

Does God Really Care?

Alyson Kieda —  February 3, 2014 — 3 Comments

 

Nature’s Tranquility/flickr/Creative Commons/judecat (ready to ring in the New Year)

I believe in God the Father and in His Son Jesus Christ my Lord. I hold to the promises of the Bible, and nothing can sway me from those beliefs. But I admit that sometimes I’ve doubted God’s love and His motives.

I’ve wondered why some of my prayers seemed to fall on deaf ears, particularly a certain heart-wrenching prayer I’ve been praying continually and persistently, in varying degrees of intensity, for decades. If it’s true that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16), why won’t He answer this earnest prayer?!

Over the years, I’ve gone through a confusing jumble of thoughts regarding this: Maybe God doesn’t really answer prayer; perhaps I’m not praying hard enough; maybe something needs to change or I need to learn or do something before God will answer; maybe this is a trial God wants to use to purify and refine me. Is this my “thorn in the flesh”? Perhaps God’s answer is “no!” In the beginning, I even wondered if God really is a God of love who cares for His children.

I’ve learned a lot about God through the decades, and He has purified and continues to purify and refine me. And I’ve seen God answer many of my prayers—sometimes miraculously. I’ve grown to trust and rely on Him more for everything I need; and He has become the first love of my life. I know that He deeply loves and cares for me, yet I continue to struggle with the same prayer request . . .

But now my doubt is not as frequent or as despairing. I have the assurance that God will answer my prayer. I’ve learned that I will never fully understand His ways. (All of us this side of heaven see dimly—1 Corinthians 13:12.) And I’m learning to “be still, and know that [He is] God” (Psalm 46:10).

I’m fretting and squirming less and trusting more as I rest in His loving arms—and wait.

So maybe you’re like me and have had your share of struggling with doubts. Maybe you’re there now. Join us for our webinar on February 5, 2014, at 1:00 p.m. with Dr. Michael Wittmer on the topic of Doubt: A Friend or Foe of Faith? I think you’ll find help in understanding and embracing our journey of faith through doubt to trust. Click the title of the webinar above to register for the free webinar.

 

Blah Days

Alyson Kieda —  January 27, 2014 — 2 Comments

Frosty Footpath – winter snow/flickr/Creative Commons/blmiers2

I live in Midwestern Michigan, where the weather can be extreme. In the winter, temperatures can reach the balmy 40s or plummet to -20°. But mostly we get temperatures ranging between 0° and the mid-30s. Our average yearly snow accumulation is around 50 to 70 inches. We can also get freezing rain—like today. And we can go whole weeks without seeing any sunshine.

If the lack of sunshine and cold weather bothers you, our region can be a depressing place to live. But all of us have our days when winter gets us down. The driving can be frightful, and we can feel cooped up in our home or office. We feel chilled to the bone. Thankfully, I’m pretty even-keeled, mood-wise. But I know others for whom winter is a downer, literally. And I know that by mid-February, if not before, I long for the warmth of spring.

In the meantime, there are some things we can do to get through the winter. Get some fresh air, such as taking a walk or cross-country skiing in the woods, but that’s not always possible—such as on days like today when walking is treacherous. That’s when hopping on a treadmill or taking a walk in the mall could be helpful since exercise elevates our mood. Others have found that light from lamps designed to mimic the sun’s healthy light rays can provides the additional vitamin D our bodies crave during the winter time.

It’s also good to engage in activities that cheer us. For me, that includes: Visiting friends whose company is energizing. Watching an upbeat or funny movie. Sitting by a warm fire and listening to cheery music. Reading a fun or inspirational book. Playing a board game with family. Seeing and hugging my grandchildren! Doing something for someone else. Laughter. “A merry heart does good, like medicine” (Proverbs 17:22).

Those are some of the things I’ve found helpful. So what lifts your spirits?

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Growing spiritually isn’t something that just happens naturally, even for faithful followers of Jesus. It must be cultivated. And frankly, in the frantic and hurried pace that most of us live, it’s simply not easy. Even when we say we want to, knowing what to do to grow consistently in our faith is a struggle. So what does it take to develop and practice spiritual disciplines?

How do we, as followers of Christ, develop the discipline to keep growing in our faith without falling into the trap of obligation and monotonous routine?

On Wednesday, January 15, 2014, RBC Ministries Webinars hosted Dr. James Wilhoit in a live webinar event on “Growing in Grace and Truth.” Dr. Wilhoit shared his insights in a lively conversation with our hosts Dennis Moles and Katy Pent. Many who attended the live event learned practical information on how to passionately pursue God and maintain that pursuit for a lifetime of growth.

In keeping with our ministry commitment to make the life-changing wisdom of the Bible understandable and accessible to all, we are making the content of this webinar available without cost or obligation to you and anyone you’d like to share it with.

To listen to the audio recording from the webinar, click the link: Growing in Grace and Truth: Developing and Practicing Spiritual Disciplines.

To download the PowerPoint of the webinar, click the link: Growing in Grace and Truth PPT.

To get a free sample chapter download from two of Dr. Wilhoit’s books on this critically important topic, click:

For further resources on spiritual formation and discipleship from RBC Ministries, click the link: Spiritual Disciplines.

New Year’s Resolutions

Alyson Kieda —  January 8, 2014 — 2 Comments

New Year’s Resolutions/flickr/Creative Commons/bk2400

Happy New Year! It’s 2014—a perfect opportunity to make a new start.

The beginning of a new year often is a time of reflection, of thinking over the past year and imagining what might happen in the new. It’s also a time when many people make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, to give up a bad habit, or to establish a good habit.

I tend to shy away from New Year’s resolutions. Whenever I make one, it isn’t long before I slip and disappointment sets in. Then I feel like throwing in the towel and giving up my goal as far too unattainable. Thankfully I’ve talked to enough people to know that many others have the same difficulty.

But I’d like to offer some encouragement. Don’t give up! If your resolution is God honoring, keep at it. (See 1 Corinthians 6:18-20.) If you slip, just pick yourself up and start again. It’s okay to give yourself the same grace and forgiveness you extend to others. You really aren’t a failure if you ate that extra piece of pie or if you didn’t reach your goal of time spent in the Word this week.

Try looking on your goal as a joy, not a chore. And don’t make the mistake of thinking you can pull this off on your own. Ask for help. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s help (see John 16:13-14) and enlist the aid of another—a Christian buddy who will cheer you on and who will run the race alongside you (Hebrews 12:1-3).

Growing more and more like Jesus is my resolution, not just for 2014 but for the remainder of my journey. Want to join me?