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Posts tagged ‘restoration’

RESTORING RELATIONSHIPS WITH GOOD APOLOGIES

SOURCE:  Ted Cunningham

We all deal with difficult relationships.

When a relationship is strained we need to find the words that bring healing, not strife and more destruction. I find that “I am sorry” are three of the most powerful words we use to restore relationships in ministry. Not “Sorry,” but the complete “I am sorry.” If you want to go the extra mile, follow up with, “Will you forgive me?”

If relationships are going to be restored, apologies need to be given and received. Crafting an apology takes time and thought. The Bible says, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. . . . Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov. 16:24; 12:18).

In thinking this through, it’s important to focus on feelings instead of issues. With practice, you can become a great wordsmith and reach the stage where your words will be like honeycomb and bring healing and restoration. You will be amazed at how quickly taking ownership over an issue or character defect can melt the heart of the person you offended. Here are a few fresh ways to take responsibility within your apology:

  • “You deserve a medal just living with me.”
  • “You’re way too valuable to treat like this.”
  • “I was so wrong to say those things to you.”
  • “I am going to let my actions say that I am sorry.”
  • “Will you forgive me?”
  • “I know why I just did that, and it was wrong.”
  • “It is my fault.”
  • “I take 100-percent responsibility for how bad that conversation just went.”
  • “This is my issue and something I need to work on.”
  • “That is a character defect in me, and I will ask God to help me with it.”

Think about this apology: “I’m sorry you were hurt.” What do these words mean? Are you saying the person shouldn’t have been hurt? Are you saying their hurt wasn’t really justified? Someone can read a lot of things into those reckless words. Or consider this one: “I’m sorry if I offended you.” Those words express no ownership of the part you played in your spouse’s pain. The words are so vague that your spouse may wonder what you mean. Great apologies start by recognizing your offending words and actions.

Love cares for others unconditionally. Let God give you His love as you seek Him day and night. Become the branch that stays grafted to the Vine and wait for His love to flow into and out of you. You’ll catch yourself feeling grieved when others hurt because of your actions.

As I practice this, I find that I am sensitive when I cause pain to others. I do not want others to feel pain because of my words and actions, period. If they are hurt because of me, I want to do my part to repair the wrong.
Ask the offended person to give you examples of a well-crafted apology and a reckless apology. Ask what words or phrases come across as insincere to him or her. You might be surprised at what you discover! Words are like toothpaste squeezed from the tube: You can never put them back inside your mouth once they are spoken. So become a great wordsmith and allow your words to be sweet like honeycomb to your spouse.

Also, remember that less is more.

Have you ever had someone apologize and then go historical on you? They bring up issues and events from ten months or even ten years ago. By the end of the apology, you’re more upset than when the person began. During those encounters, you have the opportunity to extend grace and appreciate the fact that he or she made an effort. You also have an opportunity to learn from the other person’s mistake.

A well-crafted apology is short and to the point. You don’t need to offer a dissertation on the situation. Apologize, state the offense, and take ownership of the hurt you’ve caused. Let the offended individual know that you never meant to push his or her buttons in that way. The Bible advises, “Fire goes out for lack of fuel” (Prov. 26:20, NLT). A concise, well-crafted apology doesn’t add fuel to the fire and brings a quick end to dispute.

Finally, apologize in person.

Unless extreme circumstances prevent it, always apologize face-to-face. Neither e-mail nor handwritten letters come close to an in-person apology. If you have to send a letter or an e-mail to someone, make sure that some other trusted person reads it before you send it out. Let them be a second and third set of eyes to ensure that your words are coming from a place of grace, love, and restoration. Make sure the words you’re communicating are like honeycomb, not like a sword that pierces the soul.

You need to apologize with your facial expression and body language as much, if not more, than with your words. I’ve messed up in this area countless times. I now have a steadfast rule about confronting or apologizing in written form: If at all possible, I just don’t do it. I try never to send out an e-mail to anyone when I have something important to say—especially if I’m seeking forgiveness—but there are times when it’s unavoidable. When it can’t be helped, I always have my wife read the apology before I send it out, and sometimes another trusted friend or family member.

How do you know when an apology is received? It may take some time to process, but ultimately the heartfelt effort is the key. Our words may get jumbled up, but when you are face to face, you can read the heart. We want hearts that pursue reconciliation and healthy relationships.

Reconciliation: Making It At Least As Good As It Was Before

SOURCE: Taken from The Peacemaker/Ken Sande

Being reconciled does not mean that the person who offended you must now become your closest friend.

What it means is that your relationship will be at least as good as it was before the offense occurred.

Once that happens, an even better relationship may develop. As God helps you and the other person work through your differences, you may discover a growing respect and appreciation for each other. Moreover, you may uncover common interests and goals that will add a deeper and richer dimension to your friendship.

When a relationship has been seriously damaged because one person violated another’s trust or deeply hurt the other person, how can that relationship be made “at least as good as it was before?” 

The first step is to note that biblical reconciliation is not an effort by both parties to “make things exactly as they were before.” Clearly, things can never be the same again. However, for Christians, while the relationship will indeed be different on the other side of the offense, it can, by God’s grace, be “at least as good”–if not better.

While the repentance of the offending party is key in the reconciliation process, much of the “difference that makes better” does not come from the offending party’s repentance at all; in fact, it cannot. To look to the offending party for the fullness of reconciliation can only lead to grossly failed expectations at best and idolatry at worst (as we look for a person to do something that only God can do). Arguably, the most important move in reconciliation is when the offended party moves more deeply toward God and the cross of Christ.

When we, as offended parties, move toward the cross, our view of ourselves changes. Instead of seeing ourselves primarily as offended parties, we come to see ourselves as ones who have offended infinitely but been forgiven infinitely. Out of this identity, we find the resources to imitate God by offering rich and lavish forgiveness to those whose repentance (like ours to God) is weak, feeble, and woefully inadequate.

Lord, Loosen My Addiction — Tightly Grip Me

SOURCE: Taken from an article by  Karl Benzio/Lighthouse Network/Stepping Stones

Untie from Your Addiction — Be Tied Together to God  

According to the latest statistics, compulsive addictions torment tens of millions of people in the USA. Taking into account caffeine addiction and overeating, 40-50% of the U.S. struggles with compulsive behaviors that are harmful.

An addict’s primary relationship is with a drug or a behavior, not with himself or any other person. That drug or behavior is the path to the supposed relief they deeply desire. To a large degree, our society denies the addiction problem. Many of you might even scoff at the numbers. The walking wounded are usually on their own to get help for themselves or their loved ones as treatment centers and state hospitals close, program funds diminish, and insurance reimbursements for treatment decrease.

Physical, spiritual, emotional, and psychological disabilities brought on by addictions are rampant. Addictions are the number one killer in the U.S. High blood pressure, heart disease, lung cancer, headaches, sleep problems, liver disease, impaired immunity, infections, irritability, anxiety, depression, impulsivity, poor frustration tolerance, loneliness, poor motivation, disconnected from God, lack of purpose, no passion, and no peace are all common consequences of various addictions (and this was just the start of the list!)

Regardless of the type of addiction, an addictive lifestyle causes a person to be only a shadow of what God intended.

There. That’s the bad news. Now here’s the good news.

Have you ever noticed what a bad rap the word ”religion” receives? It’s no longer regarded as the original word suggests. The Latin root of the word is “ligio,” meaning to tie or bind together. An example is a woman having her tubes tied, or a tubal ligation. To “re-ligio” means that something that was once tied became untied, and it is now re-tied or bound together again. There is no better example than the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were in perfect union with God. Then they disobeyed God, causing the original tie of perfect fellowship with God to become untied. God’s plan of salvation, through Christ’s sacrifice once and for all, re-tied us back together into relationship with God for eternity, by His grace alone. He does all the work. We just need to accept His payment for our debt.

Addiction is synonymous with idolatry.

When we strongly desire something as much as or more than we desire God, we have given ourselves to a false god, a weak imitation. We become untied from God because of our addiction. Where we invest our time, money, and energy becomes our god. Then, like the object we worship, we become a cheap imitation of what we were really meant to be. I am always amazed when I consider the things I used to pursue, and sometimes continue to pursue, to soothe my discomfort instead of going to God first. Sadly, I have endured dire spiritual consequences for the sake of momentary thrills or escapes.

Today, God stands ready and willing to forgive and restore those who have been carried away by addictions. If you have an overt addiction, let Him in and trust His ways, not yours.  Becoming untied causes us to disintegrate. But receiving God’s gift of healing allows us to re-integrate, and be restored to what God intended in the first place! If you don’t have an overt addiction, examine what you go to when you are uncomfortable. If it is God’s word and prayer, awesome. If it is anything else, then you have an addiction and need to wrestle with that. Start to look at why you turn to those other items before God. Don’t be embarrassed, just be honest. Your journey closer to God and the Mind of Christ is your decision, so choose well!

Father God, You are our source and our strength, and a very present help in time of trouble. Deliver us out of the claws of addictions and addictive behaviors. We need Your supernatural strength to overcome the self-destructive effects of mood-altering chemicals and mind injuring behaviors. Heal and restore us in body, mind, and spirit to what You intended us to be. We ask this in the powerful, comforting, and re-tying name of Jesus;  – AMEN!

The Truth
“Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”

2 Corinthians 7:1

“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of a sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.”

Galatians 5:16-17

7 Things Forgiveness is NOT….

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by  Ron Edmondson

We get confused about what forgiveness is and what it isn’t. Maybe we don’t really know sometimes.

Forgiveness is not an option for the believer. We are to forgive others as we have been forgiven. For most of us (all of us if we will admit it), that’s a whole lot of forgiveness. Understanding forgiveness doesn’t make it easier to forgive, but it does make it more meaningful…perhaps even tolerable…but I believe understanding the process could make us more likely to offer the forgiveness we are commanded to give.

Here are 7 things forgiveness IS NOT:

Forgetting – When you forgive someone your memory isn’t suddenly wiped clean of the offense. I know God could do that, but it seems that would be the easy way. I suspect God wants forgiveness to be more intentional than that.

Regaining automatic trust – You don’t immediately trust the person who injured you when you forgive them. That wouldn’t even be logical. Trust is earned, and they must earn trust again.

Removal of consequences – Even though you forgive someone, they may still have consequences to face because of their actions.

Ignoring the offense – You don’t have to pretend nothing happened when you forgive. The reality is an offense was made. Acting like it never occurred only builds resentment and anger.

Instant emotional healing – Emotions heal with time. Some pain runs deep and takes longer to heal.

Restoring the same relationship – The relationship may be closer than before or not, but most likely it will never be the same.

A leverage of power – Granting forgiveness does not give a person power over the person being forgiven. That would violate the entire principle and purpose of forgiveness.

Bruised and Mutilated by Sin

The Bruised Reed

SOURCE:  John Macduff (by Deejay O’Flaherty)

“A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.”  Isaiah 42:3

When a human soul is bruised and mutilated by sin, He (God) casts it not away. He repairs it for its place in the heavenly instrument, and makes it once more to show forth His praise.

Look at David, the Psalmist of Israel.

Who more a “bruised reed” than he?

God had inspired his soul—made it a many-stringed instrument in discoursing His praise; but now it lay a broken mutilated thing, with the stain of crimson guilt upon it, tuneless and mute. “I kept silence,” says he; “my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me, my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.”

Does Jehovah desert him?—does He cast the reed away and seek to replace the void by another, worthier and better? Does He mock the cry of penitential sorrow as through anguished tears that stricken one thus implored forgiveness—”Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your loving-kindness, according to the multitude of Your tender mercies blot out my transgressions”?

No.

Hear him detail his own experience—”I acknowledged my sin to You, and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’—and You forgave the guilt of my sin.” And then he takes up the re-tuned instrument, and sings for the encouragement of others—”Let everyone who is godly pray to You while You may be found.”

In the case of some aromatic plants, it is when bruised they give forth the sweetest fragrance; so it is often the soul crushed with a sense of guilt which sends forth the sweetest aroma of humility, gratitude, and love.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

——————————————————————————————-

Macduff, John Ross, a Presbyterian minister, was born at Bonhard, near Perth, Scotland, May 23, 1818, and educated at the high school of Edinburgh and in the university of the same city. He became a minister of the Church of Scotland in 1842. Among his pastorates was one of fifteen years in the city of Glasgow. In 1871 Dr. Macduff gave up the pastoral relation. He is the author of a number of volumes in prose and poetry, some of which have great practical and devotional value and have a wide circulation. Most of his hymns appeared in his Altar Stones, 1853, and in The Gates of Praise, 1876. He died April 30, 1895. The Universities of Glasgow and of New York each conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Divinity.

Even Though . . . . . .

SOURCE:  Alice M. Canny/Discipleship Journal

Even after I confessed to God and my husband, my past haunted me. I am an adulterer, I thought time and again. Every day that I get up, that is what I am. I wanted to serve God, but I felt unusable because of what I’d done.

Then God showed me people in the Bible who failed or sinned yet went on to serve Him. I began to imagine how these individuals might complete the statement “Even though I have….” As I wrote out the following list, God’s promises of forgiveness and restoration became real to me.

Abraham: Even though I have lied, I can be God’s friend.

—Gen. 12:10–20, Jas. 2:23

David: Even though I have committed adultery and murder, I can have a heart that pleases God.

—2 Sam. 11:1–17; Acts 13:22, CEV

Elijah: Even though I have been depressed, I can regain strength and joy to serve God.

—1 K. 19:3–18

Jonah: Even though I have refused God’s assignment, I can find it again.

—Jonah 1–3

Matthew: Even though I have committed extortion, I can be a disciple of Jesus.

—Mk. 2:13–17

Zacchaeus: Even though I have stolen from others, I can feast with Jesus.

—Lk. 19:1–10

Martha: Even though I have been distracted, I can experience Christ’s love and truth.

—Lk. 10:38–42, Jn. 11:5, 21–26

Peter: Even though I have denied Christ, I can feed God’s sheep.

—Jn. 18:15–27, 21:15–18

Thomas: Even though I have doubted, I can believe.

—Jn. 20:24–29, Acts 1:13

Paul: Even though I have fiercely opposed Christ, I can be a great witness for Him.

—Acts 22:1–21

These people sinned and displayed weakness, but none of them became permanently unusable to God. The same is true for us. Though we may stray from God’s plan for our lives, He promises to forgive us when we confess (Is. 44:22, 1 Jn. 1:9). We do not have to wear our failures like a name tag: liar, thief, adulterer. The only label that permanently defines us—and qualifies us for God’s service—is “child of God.”

ADDICTED? “RE-TIE” TO GOD

SOURCE–Adapted from:  Stepping Stones

Transformational Thought

Tens of millions of people in the U.S. are tormented by compulsive addictions according to the latest statistics regarding substance abuse and compulsive-addictive behaviors. An addict’s primary relationship is with a drug or a behavior, not with himself. Our society, in large part, denies the addiction problem. Treatment centers and state hospitals are closing, program funding is being cut, and insurance reimbursement for treatment is decreasing. The walking wounded are, therefore, on their own to get help for themselves and their families.

Physical, spiritual, emotional, and psychological disabilities brought on by addictions are rampant. Major damage caused by drugs also includes the drug environment and the impurities associated with it, namely, secondary infections, especially with illegal drugs. This lifestyle, regardless of the type of addiction, causes a person to be only a shadow of what God intended.

There. That’s the bad news. Now the good news. Have you ever noticed what a bad rap the word “religion” has gotten? It doesn’t seem to be regarded today as the original word suggests. The root word is “ligio” (Latin) meaning to tie or bind together. For example, in a tubal ligation a woman has her tubes tied. “Re-ligio” means that something that was once tied became untied, and it is now re-tied or bound together again. There is no better example than the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve disobeyed God, causing perfect fellowship with God to become untied. God’s plan of salvation, through Christ’s sacrifice once and for all, re-tied us back together into relationship with God for eternity, by His grace alone. He does the work.

Addiction is synonymous with idolatry. When we strongly desire something as much as or more than we desire God, we have given ourselves to a false god, a weak imitation. People have become unbound with God through their addictions. What we give our time, money, and energy to becomes our god. We become like our object of worship. It’s amazing to consider what we pursue to soothe our discomfort, and the dire spiritual consequences we choose to endure for a momentary thrill.

Today, if you have an overt addiction, know that God stands ready and willing to forgive and restore everyone who has been carried away by addictions. Let Him in. Trust His ways, and not yours. Becoming untied causes us to disintegrate. But receiving God’s gift of healing allows us to re-integrate, restoring us to what God intended in the first place! If you don’t have an overt addiction, examine what you go to when you are uncomfortable. If it is God’s word and prayer, awesome. If it is anything else, then you have an addiction and need to wrestle with that. Start to look at why you turn to those other items first.

Prayer

Father God, You are our source and our strength, and a very present help in time of trouble. Deliver us out of the claws of addictions and addictive behaviors. We need Your supernatural strength to overcome the effects of mood-altering chemicals and behaviors that are self-destructive. Heal and restore us in body, mind, and spirit to what You intended us to be. We ask this in the powerful and comforting name of Jesus;  – AMEN!

The Truth

“Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”

2 Corinthians 7:1

“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of a sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.”

Galatians 5:16-17

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