Archives For Jesus

Why Forgive?

Alyson Kieda —  April 16, 2014 — 2 Comments

453458265_61cf90be28_z (1) 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.

Several years ago, I remember how I first reacted after learning the controversial news that there was a possible link between the overexposure to aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease.

As it turns out, further studies have not been able to confirm this link.

At the time, however, the news grabbed my attention. My doc had told me that I was already at risk for this disease (because I suffered a severe concussion as a young child). So once I understood the potential risks, it was relatively easy to cut out aluminum.

I didn’t care how well it kept my body odor from stinking up the joint, there would be no more deodorant containing aluminum for me.

Oh, that it would be that easy when it comes to stopping an addiction! But anyone who has ever battled an addiction knows that it’s never that easy.

One of the maddening things I’ve noticed about addictions is that we can’t seem to resist them, even when we know that they threaten to ruin us (and others). And it’s one reason why we absolutely need Divine help.

Over the years, I’ve noticed something else. Most of us start seeking God’s help for an addiction by asking Him to take away the urges. But what if that’s not the best place to start?

When the urges come, what if it’s best to start with the simple, yet profound, recognition that we can’t resist them without Him (John 15:5)?

Humbly surrendering to God and admitting our own powerlessness as a starting point keeps us from going down the well-worn path of trying to resist our addictions in our own strength. Ironically, the more we struggle to break free on our own, the more entangled we become. But as we stop trying so hard and accept that, in and of ourselves, we lack the power to resist—well, that is when we start to tap into God’s power to resist.

Perhaps this is what Paul was getting at in his own life when he wrote: “I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway” (Romans 7:19).

When we come to this point of appropriate helplessness, that’s when we see how much we really need Jesus’ help (Romans 7:25). Or, as Paul would put it in another place, it is when we acknowledge our weaknesses that Jesus is strongest in our lives (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

There is much more involved in walking away from an addiction, but we won’t get very far until we first surrender.

My Mom

Jeff Olson —  May 11, 2012 — 6 Comments

This Sunday I will celebrate my first Mother’s Day without a mother. After a year-long illness, my dear mom recently passed on to be with Jesus.

Mom was eighty.

Not only will I miss mom terribly, I found myself feeling sad over all the things she was never able to enjoy in this vast and amazing world. There were so many activities mom was never able to do, places she was never able to see, and experiences she did not have—partly because she willingly sacrificed so much for the seven of us kids and our families; partly because she simply ran out time.

As I felt sad for all that mom has missed out on, the hope of a renewed earth brought me great comfort. While I am fully convinced that Jesus died on a cross to save us from our sins, I do not see in the Bible that Jesus came to save us from the earth.

Instead, I read that Jesus also came to liberate, restore and reclaim this world that we have so fouled up (Romans 8:21).

I read that when God finally comes back to dwell with us forever and death will be no more, He will bring heaven to earth (Revelation 21:2-4).

I read that it has been God’s plan all along to “bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth” (Ephesians 1:10).

The Bible reassures me that someday mom (and anyone who has died in the Lord) is coming back to this earth to reign with Jesus (Revelation 5:9-10). When Jesus returns, mom’s going to be a co-steward of God’s new creation as He originally meant His image bearers to be (Genesis 1:28). And she, having been redeemed by Jesus, will have the rest of eternity to experience all the things she missed out on (and so much more) in the new heaven and earth.

As I celebrate my first Mother’s Day without mom, I am so grateful for the Jesus legacy she passed on to her children. And I can only imagine all that she has to look forward to in Him.

the presence of others

Jeff Olson —  January 6, 2012 — 1 Comment

Tomorrow morning, a couple of friends and I are planning to drive two hours to attend the funeral of a stranger. The deceased actually is the brother of a close friend and co-worker who unexpectedly died of a brain aneurism at the age of 50.

We’re attending the funeral for the same reason we’ve called and texted our friend over the past week. He loved his brother dearly, and he’s reeling from such a profound and sudden loss. We can’t begin to take away the pain of his loss, but our presence is a small but meaningful way to rally around our friend and show that we care.

Jesus modeled how important the presence of others is during a time of grief. The night He was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, when His soul was crushed with grief to the point of death, Jesus asked a few of His disciples to sit and pray with him (Matthew 26:36-38). They couldn’t take His grief away either, but He desired, even needed their company and prayers.

Just as Jesus needed others to be with Him in His time of need—we need others too. Having others around comforts a grieving heart more than we know.




Take time for your heart

Jeff Olson —  December 22, 2011 — 3 Comments

Every morning I take a baby aspirin. Heart disease runs in my family, and my doctor says it’s good for the health of my ticker.

The particular brand of aspirin I take etches the shape of a small heart on the side of the pill. At first I thought it was corny. But every time I see it, it reminds me that I’m taking this little pill for the good of my heart.

Just as it’s good to take care of our physical heart, it’s also good to take care of a different kind of “heart.” I’m referring to that unseen place inside each of us that houses our deepest desires, hopes, convictions, and feelings. It’s that place within us where we experience the deepest joys and heartaches of life.

The heart is the center of who we really are. That’s why the book of Proverbs puts a high priority on taking care of it:

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
(Proverbs 4:23)

During this Christmas season and even as you enter the New Year, take some time to care for your heart that Jesus was born to rescue and renew. Take a break from the frenetic pace of life and give yourself time to breathe again.

Maybe grab some solitude. Read a good book. Reconnect with a friend or relative.

Do whatever you need to do to tend to your heart. It is the central part of who you are. It is the place out of which you love God and others.


Slow down and talk it through

Jeff Olson —  December 8, 2011 — 3 Comments

Today I came across a story about Kevin Sorbo—the muscle bound actor who played Hercules from the television show with the same name. Playing the mythic Greek hero, Kevin fought epic battles against evil forces and rescued damsels in distress. Yet ironically, while filming Hercules, this seemingly robust actor suffered three debilitating strokes at the age of 38.

Kevin, who recently received high praise for his heroic role in the Jesus-centered film Soul Surfer, had the following to say about recovering from his illness:

“‘Before my illness I was fully preoccupied with the material side of life. Moving at the speed of light, I ignored the spiritual side, the unseen. But being sidelined with time to spare, I had a lot of conversations with God and told him my problems.

Kevin’s reflections are a good reminder to us all. It’s important to talk to God about the problems in our lives. Invite Him into what’s going on, share what’s on our hearts, and listen for His Spirit to minister to our hearts.

We can’t “see” God, but if we slow down enough we can discover He’s there to talk it through.

“In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free.” –Psalm 118:5 NLT

Jesus is not a pain killer

Jeff Olson —  November 3, 2011 — 18 Comments

Have you ever tried to used Jesus as a pain-killer? I know I have.

In an attempt to survive a time of feeling let down by others or myself, I’ve immersed myself in spiritual disciplines like prayer and scripture reading. I’ve even listened to a few Jesus centered tunes to soothe my soul. At the time, it may have looked good on the outside, but inside I wasn’t really looking for Jesus and what he wanted to show me in my situation. I was looking for a distraction. I was simply looking to busy myself with something so I didn’t have think about or feel the weight of my hurt.

Bottom line—I wanted t get as far away from the hurt as possible…and Jesus was going to help me.

Over the course of my walk with Jesus, however, I’ve learned that following Him is not about denying the reality of our pain and sorrow. Instead, it is to lean into it. After all, Jesus Himself was no stranger to pain and sorrow (Isa.53:3, Lk.22:44). He felt the heartache of life, and felt it deeply.

Jesus didn’t come to numb our souls. He came to bring us life (John 10:10). And to be fully alive in a broken world involves facing our pain, not running from it.


Places To Belong

Jeff Olson —  October 6, 2011 — 1 Comment

In his book, Befriending the Stranger, Jean Vanier (founder of L’Arche) shared this gripping exchange he once had with a man who was in prison:

“I remember my visit to a top security prison in Kingston, Ontario. I told the prisoners about the men and women we have welcomed in l’Arche–their pain, their sense of failure and rejection, their depression, sometimes their self-mutilation…I knew that I was in fact telling them their own story, the story of their lives, their experience of rejection, grief, insecurity, and failure.”

“At the end of my talk one of the inmates got up and screamed at me: ‘You! You’ve had an easy life! You do not understand what we are living! When I was four years old, I saw my mother raped right in front of me! When I was seven, I was sold by my father for sex. When I was thirteen the police came to get me. If anyone else comes into this prison to talk about love I will kick his bloody head in!'”

Jean Vanier continued, “I listened to him but did not know what to say or do. It was as if he had me against the wall. I prayed and then I said: ‘It’s true what you say. I do not know what you have lived. But what I do know is that everything you have just told me is important. People outside the prison often judge you without knowing your pain…'”

“When the question time was over I went up to the man and I shook his hand. I asked him his name…I was inspired to ask him whether he was married and when he said ‘Yes’ I asked him to tell me about his wife. This man who had been so violent, who had seemed to have such hatred in him, broke down in tears. He told me about his wife, who was in Montreal in a wheelchair. He had not seen her for two years! I was in front of a wounded, vulnerable little child, weeping, crying out for love and tenderness.”

Vanier went on to add, “In the midst of all the violence and corruption of the world, God invites us today to create new places of belonging, places of sharing, of peace and kindness, places where no-one needs to defend himself or herself; places where each one is loved and accepted with one’s own fragility, abilities and disabilities.”

I don’t know  of a more powerful way to show the heart of Jesus than to give hurting and lost people from all walks of life a place to belong.  A place where issues are addressed, but only once love and non-condemning friendships are established (Lk. 19:1-9; John 8:1-11). A place where they are not judged and singled-out, but rather befriended and eventually encouraged to pursue a relationship with Jesus, and through His grace become all He intends for them to be.

BTW…L’Arche (a network of communities Jean Vanier established for those with intellectual disabilities ) is the the French word for Noah’s Ark.



Last weekend I re-watched the film Soul Surfer. It’s tells the inspiring true story about the young surfer girl (Bethany Hamilton) whose arm was bit off by a shark in October of 2003 while surfing off Kauai’s North Shore. Remarkably, only one month after the attack that nearly took her life, Bethany was back in the water–determined to surf again.

As Bethany was re-learning how to surf competitively with one arm, her father explained the difficult challenge before her. To which Bethany replied, “I don’t need easy. I just need possible.”

Wow! What a challenging statement for us all to consider.

As much as we would like there to be, there isn’t an “easy” button to push when were facing the hard challenges of life. But difficult doesn’t equal impossible. While certain parts of life may seem impossible, Jesus offered the hope that “What is impossible with men is possible with God” (Lk. 18:27).





Who do you love the most?

Jeff Olson —  August 11, 2011 — 1 Comment

A young child once asked her father, “Daddy, who do you love the most, me or my brother?” The father wisely explained to his child that he loved each one of his children the same, but he sometimes expressed his love in different ways.

Later, the young child then asked, “Daddy, who do you love the most, Jesus or me?” The father told his daughter that he loved Jesus the most, because without Jesus, he couldn’t love his children as much as he does.

What a great answer. It parallels the words of another father figure once wrote to a group of Christians he considered his “dear children” (1 John 2:1). The Apostle John wrote, “We love each other because He loved us first” (1 John 4:19 NLT).

Who do you love the most?