New Beginnings

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“…Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” II Corinthians 5:17

“The gospel is the incredible news that Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins and rescue us from eternal separation from God, and that he rose from the dead to give us new life.”
Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson
(Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p. 26.
 

The sky is blue. Flowers are blooming, trees are budding, and the birds are happily chirping their favorite song. It’s spring. It’s the time when that which is dormant begins to awake, when the seeds once buried beneath the earth begin to sprout, and when that which has been slumbering rests no more.

Much in the same way that spring represents new life and a fresh start, so does the empty cross and the barren tomb that once held the Savior of the world. While the cross represents Christ’s sacrificial grace and forgiveness, the tomb reminds us that what is broken can be restored and what is dead can be brought back to life. There is no heart so wounded that He cannot mend it, no relationship so broken that He cannot restore it, and no sin too great that He cannot forgive it.

Food for Thought

New beginnings begin at the cross. Need a fresh start? His grace and forgiveness offer you the opportunity to begin again – and help others do the same.

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Amazing Grace

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 “We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”

Acts 15:11

“When you realize that you can’t ultimately forgive in your own strength – that only God can give you the desire and ability to truly forgive other’s sins – then you will find the strength you need to give others the amazing gift of forgiveness and experience reconciled relationships.”

Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson
(Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p. 98
 

One of the most remarkable events in all of history occurred when grace came to us by way of God’s one and only son, Jesus. He made His entrance into the world as a helpless infant, exchanged the grandeur of heaven for a humble birth in a lowly stable, and left streets of gold to walk these dusty roads.

In His final days, His recognition as a “king” earned Him a crown of gnarly, twisted thorns instead one made of fine ornaments and jewels. There was no coronation for the King of Kings. Instead, He endured a crucifixion at the hands of the very people He was dying to save. In the midst of His suffering on the cross for the sins of all humanity, in agony He cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

Food for Thought

This kind of grace is impossible – that’s why it is so amazing. In those moments when you’re finding someone too hard to forgive, you don’t have to live out this grace on your own – the One who so generously forgave you can help you forgive.

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Settling the Score

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“Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge.” Romans 12:17-19a

“When it comes to granting forgiveness, God calls us to what feels like an outrageously high standard. Fortunately, he also gives us the grace and guidance we need to forgive others as he has forgiven us.”                                                                                                                                                                                                
Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson
(Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p. 87
 

The offense was egregious. The result was deep pain and inexplicable devastation. No explanation or extenuating circumstance could ever rise to the level of excusing what happened. It was wrong – enough said.

Perhaps you’ve been there. In just one moment, or series of moments, the unwanted intrusion of injustice, betrayal, gossip, lies, deceit, or slander enters your world, shattering hearts and devastating relationships. In those trying times, what do you do? Hold a grudge? Get even? Hurt the one that hurt you?

Food for Thought

When dealing with an offense, there’s more than one way to settle the score. You can seek retribution or choose forgiveness.

Retribution is easy. Forgiveness is hard. Just look to the cross. It is a painful, yet beautiful reminder of the price our Savior was willing to pay to reconcile us to Himself. As children of God, we are compelled to follow His example of compassion and grace.

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Forget or Forego?

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“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

Forgiveness isn’t a matter of whether we forget, but of how we remember.
Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson
(Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p. 89

Just forgive and forget – sounds simple, doesn’t it? In reality, though, this is hard if not impossible to do. In the same way that moments of crisis leave an indelible impression in your life, a seriously injured relationship isn’t something you are likely to forget.

While forgiveness suggests a pro-active decision to pardon an offense, forgetting implies passivity and a lack of thought or intent. Forgiveness should not be contingent upon your ability to forget. Instead, it should be tied to your deliberate choice to forego. Forego rehearsing the offense over and over again in your own mind or with others. Forego allowing the process of reconciliation to evolve into perpetual rounds of retribution. And, when appropriate, forego allowing the offense to be a barrier to a renewed relationship.

Food for Thought

The phrasing you choose to describe the progression of forgiveness is not nearly as important as being intentional about leaving the past in the past and moving forward in a spirit of grace and compassion. It won’t be easy, but it is possible with the help of the One who has so graciously forgiven you.

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Forgiveness in a Word

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“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:36

Forgiveness is a radical decision not to hold an offense against the offender…  forgiveness is undeserved and can’t be earned.
Taken from Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson
(Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2011) p. 89
 

If you had just one word to describe forgiveness, what would it be? In the same way that a picture can’t possibly capture the expansive greatness and wonder of the Grand Canyon, there are few if any words that on their own capture the beauty found in the extension of grace through forgiveness.

To forgive is to pardon, to set free, to be set free. It is to release another from guilt, and to be released from the heavy burden of holding a grudge. Forgiveness is extending mercy, when none is due. It is setting aside the right to be right, all the while embracing the attributes of humility, kindness, and compassion.

Food for Thought

The complications and complexities of forgiveness are hard to sum up into one word; but, it can be summed up in one example – His name is Jesus. His life was the very essence of grace and forgiveness. He is our model – and, because we have been freely forgiven, we are free to forgive.

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