Forgiveness: Monday Monologues (podcast) May 24, 2021

Stephen_W_Hiemstra_20200125b

 By Stephen W. Hiemstra

This morning I will share a prayer and reflect on Forgiveness. After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions).

To listen, click on this link.

Hear the words; Walk the steps; Experience the joy!

Forgiveness: Monday Monologues (podcast) May 24, 2021

Also see:

Monday Monologue On March 26, 2018 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net,

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Continue Reading

You Forgive; We Forgive

Cover, A Christian Guide to Spirituality

“and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matt 6:12)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Why forgive? Why be forgiving?

The simple answer is because Jesus says so. Jesus makes a strong statement on forgiveness immediately following the Lord’s Prayer:

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matt 6:14-15)

The reasoning here is clear—we are to be forgiving people because God has forgiven us. The word for forgiveness in Greek means let go.

The Apostle Peter clarified our obligation to forgive when he asked: “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matt 18:21-22 ESV)—arbitrarily large number that fit the context of Peter’s question [1].  Jesus then goes on to tell the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matt 18:23-35).

The point is that forgiveness aids patience, healing, and redemption.

Forgiveness aids patience. Working with young children or with Alzheimer’s patients involves answering repeated questions or dealing with other annoying behaviors. We often find ourselves working with our children and our parents while we juggle other things—including our own exhaustion. If we can forgive people with special needs, then why is it so hard to forgive normal people who are just annoying? [2] A life with no regrets starts with forgiveness.

Forgiveness heals. For example, forgiveness breaks up what psychiatrists call rumination. Extreme forms of rumination occur when a psyche patient obsesses daily for years about stressful or imagined events from the past. Puffed up like that, rumination distracts the patient from normal emotional development and, subsequently, damages relationships [3]. Because we all ruminate, forgiveness heals by helping us focus on life’s daily challenges rather than on phantoms from the past [4].

Forgiveness is redemptive. The story of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, is a case in point. Just before he died, Stephen prayed: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (Acts 7:60) Saul of Taurus witnessed and approved of Stephen’s stoning. Better known as Paul, Saul later met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, was baptized, and became the church’s great evangelist. But Paul never forgot Stephen astonishing act of love and linked Stephen to his own call story (Acts 22:20). Were the life and ministry of Paul an answer to Stephen’s prayer?

Forgiveness is so radical, so rare, so redemptive that it reveals God’s presence among us.

[1] Alternative translations, e.g. the New American Standard version, read seventy times seven..

[2] Jerry Bridges (1996, 46) writes: “Do we see them as persons for whom Christ died or as persons who make our lives difficult?” Christ forgave even his tormentors from the cross (Luke 23:34). If he can love and forgive those who murdered him, surely we can forgive annoying people!

[3] One therapy for rumination is to redirect the patient’s focus from the negative memory to a breathe prayer, such as the Jesus prayer. The version of the Jesus prayer that I remember was: Jesus, Son of God, Have mercy on me.

[4]  Francis MacNutt (2009, 130) cites four types of healing that we can pray for including: repentance, emotional pain, physical healing, and deliverance—healing from spiritual oppression. When we forgive those who have hurt us, we not only offer them healing, we also release our own pain. Unforgiven sin plagues both parties to the sin.

References

Bridges, Jerry. 1996. The Pursuit of Holiness. Colorado Springs: NavPress.

MacNutt, Francis. 2009. Healing. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press.

You Forgive; We Forgive

Also see:

Preface to A Christian Guide to Spirituality

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Purchase Book: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

 
Continue Reading

Forgiveness: Monday Monologues (podcast) March 22, 2021

Stephen_W_Hiemstra_20200125b
Stephen W. Hiemstra 2020 (Ken Burtram Photography)

 By Stephen W. Hiemstra

This morning I will share a prayer and reflect on forgiveness. After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions).

To listen, click on this link.

Hear the words; Walk the steps; Experience the joy!

Forgiveness: Monday Monologues (podcast) March 22, 2021

Also see:

Monday Monologue On March 26, 2018 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net,

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Continue Reading

Prayer Day 18

Available on Amazon.com

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Loving Father. Beloved Son. Forgiving Spirit.

We praise you for your love and forgiveness.

Redeem us from our sin; empower our lives with new meaning.

In the power of your Holy Spirit, grant us new status as children of God and allow us to enter your work of reconciliation.

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Prayer Day 18

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Purchase Book: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

 

Continue Reading

Forgiveness of Sins

Cover, A Christian Guide to Spirituality

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Why is forgiveness a sign of God’s presence?

Scripture attests to God’s overwhelming love for us and willingness to forgive our sins. Even after God discovers the sin of Adam and Eve, he does not immediately impose a death sentence on them, as previously warned; instead, he outfits them with clothes like a mother preparing her first grader for school Gen 2:17; Gen 3:21. God imposed a consequence for sin on Adam and Eve, but also left them with a “positive conclusion” so that they might learn from their mistake and not be embittered (Turansky and Miller (2013, 130–131).. Similarly after Cain murders Abel, God offers Cain grace, protecting him from revenge (Gen 4:15).

The link between God’s love and forgiveness allows the psalmist to write:

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy. (Ps 103:2-4)

So if God’s forgiveness was already well-attested in the Old Testament, why did Jesus need to die on the cross?

Part of the answer is to observe that God’s forgiveness of Adam, Eve, and Cain was providentially incomplete. All three were still cursed; all three still left the presence of God. Christ’s work on the cross was comprehensive, a re-creation event, as the Apostle Paul writes:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Cor 5:17-19)

Christ reconciled us with God so we should reconcile with one another. With Adam, Eve, and Cain, none of this happens.

Some psychologists look at forgiveness as a reframing event. Reframing occurs when new meaning is attached to a negative experience. For example, psychoanalyst Victor Frankl, when confined to a concentration camp during the Second World War, focused his mind on preparing the lectures that he would give after the war on his camp experience. In reframing his persecution, Frankl was able to survive the camp when others gave up hope and died (Rosen 1982, 141). Reframing falls short of forgiveness because it focuses solely on the individual, neglecting the relationship among individuals and with God.

When God forgives our sin, in a sense we reframe our self-image from rebel to child of God. The greater the sin forgiven, the deeper the transformation enabled. Forgiveness releases us from death row condemnation and allows us to be reconciled with God, those we sin against, and all of creation. When we then forgive others, we become ambassadors for Christ in this magnificent reconciliation project (2 Cor 5:20).

References

Rosen, Sidney [Editor]. 1982. My Voice will Go With You: The Teaching Tales of Milton H. Erickson. New York: W.W. Norton and Company.

Turansky, Scott and Joanne Miller. 2013. The Christian Parenting Handbook: 50 Heart-Based Strategies for All the Stages of Your Child’s Life. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Forgiveness of Sins

Also see:

Preface to A Christian Guide to Spirituality

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Purchase Book: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

 

Continue Reading

Prayer for the Holy Spirit

Life_in_Tension_revision_front_20200101

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Lord Most High,

Forgive us for sins known and unknown, transgressions flaunted, and iniquities seen and unseen.

Give us penitent hearts that repent, make amends, and seek justice, not just quiet absolution.

Transform our lives, Oh Lord, that we might become fit stewards of grace.

Let us put on the full righteousness of Christ as knights suiting up for battle that we might extend your kingdom into hearts yet unrepentant and minds shielded from grace.

May our lives always speak louder than our words and our words speak only of you.

May we not squelch your Holy Spirit, but give your spirit full reign centered on you and you alone.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer for the Holy Spirit

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

 

Continue Reading

Petition for Forgiveness

Life_in_Tension_revision_front_20200101

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,

Oh Lord, to be like you—strong and wise and patience and peace loving.

Oh, to be a covenant keeper, dependable and steady, a pillar against the wind.

Oh, to offer mercy and grace and patience and love and truth to all who come near: hospitality in the desert; peace amidst confusion; security when uncertainty tears at the soul.

Oh Lord, to be like you; to be like you.

Remember us, Lord, but forget the sin that depletes our strength, leaves us foolish, makes us impatient, and creates dissension.

Remember us, Lord, but forgive our transgressions.

Remember us, Lord, but wipe away our iniquity that leaves us judgmental and arrogant and at odds with all things good and true. 

Remember us, Lord, lest we forget ourselves. In the power of your Holy Spirit grant us a new day and the strength to live it in a new way following the example of your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Petition for Forgiveness

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: https://bit.ly/Obituary_HFH

 

Continue Reading

Prayer of Many Confessions

Life_in_Tension_revision_front_20200101

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Eternal God,

We praise you for the beauty of the earth, the freshness of the wind, the crispness of the sea, and the warmth of dry earth. You have created heaven and earth for your glory and our benefit—thank you.

We confess that too often we say one thing and do another.  Save us from our own hypocrisy.

We confess that too often we have overlooked the needs of our neighbors and preached about their shortcomings. Convert our hearts to your truth that we might display your grace. 

We confess that too often we have acted too quickly out of prejudice and veiled your mercy. Grant us gracious hearts and open minds. We confess that too often we have focused on ourselves and sheltered ourselves from others. Teach us hospitality.

We confess that too often we have resisted change out of stubbornness and neglected the needs of our own youth. Give us eyes that see and ears that listen.

We confess that too often we have judged too quickly and judge imprudently. Grant us the mind of Christ.

Forgive us our many sins. Guide us in making recompense. Heal the wounds that separate us from one another and restore us to your kingdom. 

Through the power of the Holy Spirit and in Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Prayer of Many Confessions

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: https://bit.ly/HangHome_2020

Continue Reading

Prayer of Confession and Blessing

Life_in_Tension_revision_front_20200101

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Merciful Father, Beloved Son, Ever-present Spirit,

We praise you, Lord, for your mercy, grace, patience, love, and faithfulness; for healing us of our afflictions, for forgiving our sin, and for your presence in our life; for in you we find faith, hope, and love, as nowhere else.

We confess that you alone are God, yet we make idols of machines, institutions, and our own pet theories. We have not followed the example of your son, Jesus Christ, and have set our own desires above our families, friends, and even your church. Forgive our sin; overlook our transgressions; and heal us of our iniquity—that we might be whole again and restored to your presence.

We give thanks for the many blessings that you have freely given us: our families, our health, our work, and even life itself.

We ask you now to bless us that we might bless others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer of Confession and Blessing

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: https://bit.ly/HangHome_2020

 

Continue Reading

Prayer for Compassion and Mercy

Life_in_Tension_revision_front_20200101

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

God of All Compassion and Mercy,

Forgive me, Lord, for the sins of my youth when I fell short of the plans you had for me. When in your great compassion you were kind to me and patient, teaching me your law and demonstrating your grace.

Forgive me, Lord, for the transgressions of my youth when I disobeyed your law when in your mercy you looked the other way and disregarded my attitude, teaching me forbearance and gentle persuasion.

Forgive me, Lord, for the iniquity of my youth when I failed to help those around me.

When in your everlasting love you sent your son to die for me, atoning for my sin, my transgressions, and my iniquity so that I might grow to be a man mindful of compassion, mercy, and love that were modeled for me all the days of my life.

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Prayer for Compassion and Mercy

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: https://bit.ly/Ready_2020

 
Continue Reading