“Forgiveness is Giving Up”

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As our Lord Jesus hung on the cross He taught us true forgiveness. He taught us that forgiveness is giving up. His was a choice not a violation, extortion or resignation. He willfully chose to forgive.

And in this forgiveness He gave up three rights. The first right He gave up was the right not to hurt. He possibly gave it up the moment He decided to be incarnated, but truly the hurt, anguish and pain of carrying all the sins and its punishment on the cross cannot compare to all the sorrows He experienced up to that point. Isaiah identifies this giving up for us rather vividly (see below). Yes, the offense hurt you deeply. And only by a gush of grace will you be able to do what only Jesus can do: Forgive them in spite of the hurt. Yes, even after He said, “Father, forgive them,” He was still on the cross; still in agony; He was still hurting….

The second right our Master gave up was the right to make it right or to fix “it”. The relationship between Him and his creation was broken, and without the cross, it was irreparable. By hanging on that cross, He became that bridge of reconciliation for us. Yes, He did many healings and even a resurrection or two, but all these would get sick and die again. It is only after the cross in His resurrection are things made new—are fixed. St. Paul identifies this giving up in Colossians (see below). Yes, once the offense has taken place, the relationship, the item, the circumstance may remain broken beyond repair, but we can move on in the hope the resurrection power offers: One day this relationship, item or circumstance will be restored, but right now He has given us grace enough for the moment to dealing with the new relationship following a break….

The third right our Lord gave up was the right to get back. He could have warned them, “Just wait until I’m resurrected. Then you’ll know I am who I claimed to be; then you’ll bow before me!” Rather than immaturely taunting or threatening His adversaries—those who deeply wounded Him, He spoke words of forgiveness instead: “Father, forgive them…” (Luke 23:34). Our brother, St. Peter, identifies this giving up in his first letter to us (see below). Yes, our knee-jerk response it to flinch in retaliation or burp a word of disgust. Yet once again, relying on the gush of grace the Lord Jesus’ Life provides for us, we can return blessing for insult and promise of hope for threat of harm. We entrust ourselves, as our Master did, to the One who can truly bring justice (1 Peter 2:23 below).

One final “give up” I’d like to mention, but request your thoughts on how this fits into forgiveness, and that is when we are told at the end of Jesus’ earthly life, He says: “ It is finished. With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit” (John 19:30 emphasis added). The Greek word for “give up” is to “to hand over, to give.” Lifestyle worshiper, how do you see this act of Jesus’ Love, of giving up His own life, fitting into His grand act of forgiveness?

Main Text: — Ephesians 4:32 — Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Our Thoughts

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. — Isaiah 53:3-5 (NIV84)

 and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation —Colossians 1:20-22 (NIV84)

 When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed. — 1 Peter 2:23-24 (NIV84)

 Lord Jesus Christ, empower me to forgive those who have hurt me, frustrated me, or disappointed me. I ask You to overwhelm me with a gush of Your grace to forgive them as You have forgiven me. In Your Name, Amen. 

Pastor Mike

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“Two Types of Forgiveness”

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Date: 05-20-15

Perhaps you are aware of one type of “forgiveness”. This is known as “Confront Forgiveness” (see Matthew 5:23-24 & James 5:13-16). This is when you confront someone with their ‘sin’, “they” confess their guilt and you forgive “them”. This is a very powerful and effective way of building strong, healthy Christian families. Forgiveness is an essential element. And bringing an issue out in the open is very healthy, too.

But there are some issues and some circumstances that require the second type of forgiveness: “Hanging on the Cross” Forgiveness (aka “Cross Forgiveness;” although all forgiveness flows from the cross, this just makes it easier to communicate the two). With this “Cross Forgiveness” we join our Lord Jesus on the cross and say—regarding a particular person with a particular offense: “Father, Forgiven them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NIV84 emphasis added). (I have discovered that this “Cross forgiveness” must be specific. If I just do a general “forgive them for ‘whatever'”, I have found I still stew and flinch when “it” happens again.)

I’m not sure which is harder. Perhaps you can share your thoughts on this. But I do know that sometimes I need to do this “Cross Forgiveness” and then walk in grace towards this person. I have witnessed literal miracles too personal too share, but I know this “Cross Forgiveness” is just as effective and essential in any healthy family—any healthy relationship with Jesus. And as I decrease and the Life of Jesus in me increases, I am becoming more and more “Forgiveness Ready”….

Lifestyle worshiper, have you found this to be so, to? Do you have any experiences with either of these two types of forgive? Any thing safe to share?

Main Text: — Ephesians 4:32 — Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense — Proverbs 19:11 (NIV84)

 “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” —Jeremiah 31:34c (NIV84)

Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”. — John 5:14 (NIV84)

 “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:9-14). Amen. 

Pastor Mike

My Book Is Finally Here.

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A Solemn Assembly

As you can see, my book is finally here. It has been a project incubating for some time now, and I am humbled and blessed that it is now ready.

What is it? Beyond what the cover says, both it is a ceremony and a personal devotion for individuals, small groups and churches. This book offers prayers and insights into what it means to draw closer to the Lord Jesus in word and in deed. It offers hope to the hopeless through forgiveness and restoration. It presents the Light of the World to those stumbling in the darkness. It is a menu for those who hunger for a deeper spiritual satisfaction.

So not to disrupt the flow, the endnotes are packed with Scriptural references, comments, and insight that enrich the experience.

This book is available as an ebook from:

iTunes (iBooks, just search my name or the title)

Amazon.com (Kindle) http://www.amazon.com/Solemn-Assembly-Gathering-Repentance-Restoration-ebook/dp/B00UZ7PSXM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1427425832&sr=8-2&keywords=A+Solemn+Assembly

Barnes & Noble (Nook) http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-solemn-assembly-michael-l-rossmann/1121489718?ean=9781498430210

Paperback versions are also available from the latter two sources. A preview will soon be available from these sites, as well.

My prayer is that this tool will be used to bring many to the wholeness and freedom the Lord Jesus Christ offers in Himself.

Peace,

Coach Mike

“Overcoming Fear to Step Toward the Father”

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Date: 03-21-15

The Big Idea: As I come to realize that our Heavenly Father is a most forgiving God, these fears I had had melt away with each step toward HIM in this freedom of forgiveness. .

My Thoughts: I vividly recall Sister Mary Eloise teaching us that when we sin, God the Father is just waiting there to hurl a lightening bolt at us, but Jesus, God the Son is at His side saying, “But Father, I died to forgive this sin, too.” As she spoke that last sentence, she would do the sign language for Jesus. (I didn’t learn this until much, much later!) What she was teaching was very true, but my little mind was fearing a rather simple action: “What if Jesus didn’t get there it time to stop the lightening bolt?” Pretty silly, huh?

But sadly this fear kept me from approaching our Heavenly Father for years. I lived in a constant low-grade fear that at any moment a lightening bolt would slip past Jesus as a puck would slide past Tony Esposito—rare, but possible….

Perhaps you have come to learn this a lot sooner than I had in your journey with Jesus, Lifestyle worshiper, but on my pathway to freedom and wholeness it has taken me a while to understand this morning’s main text from Nehemiah: “But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love” (v. 17b). I began to discover this through the birth of my daughters. As each daughter’s birth approached, I feared a very malformed child. This fear was fueled by the very evil things I had done as a young person and by the doubts that Jesus could indeed stop those lightening bolts.

But the LORD is indeed gracious and merciful. By my third daughter’s birth, I was finally starting to get it: The Lord Jesus does stop those lightening bolts—ever time! (His shut out record is perfect!) I expressed this realization by giving my third daughter a very meaningful middle name: Joy. Not only was she named after one of her aunts, this name also captures my journey with Jesus overcoming my fears. I was finally beginning to approach the Father and experience His joy…. (and, BTW I have three beautiful daughters, two wonderful sons-in-law, and 5½ sparkling grandchildren–one’s due in August.)

In all this, as I come to realize that our Heavenly Father is a most forgiving God, these fears I had had melt away with each step toward HIM in this freedom of forgiveness.  And best yet, not only does our Lord Jesus stop ever lightening bolt, He will never leave the net! This is the rest of v. 17: He will not desert me.

As I enjoy this freedom in forgiven, I have come to rely on the LORD’s compassion and abounding Love more and more.  Do you have a story of joy on your pathway to freedom in forgiveness?

Main Text: — Nehemiah 9:16-18— 16 But they, our forefathers, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and did not obey your commands. 17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them, 18 even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, ‘This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,’ or when they committed awful blasphemies. [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. — Psalm 103:8-12 (NIV84)

Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”   —Luke 5:22-25 (NIV84)

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. — 1 John 2:1-2 (NIV84)

 Lord Jesus Christ, I  embrace Your grace that forgives my sins. I approach the Heavenly Father full of confident assurance because of the price You paid for me. Enlighten me by Your Holy Spirit to  understand these wonderful and precious promises You have for me in forgiveness. In Your Name, Amen. 

Coach Mike

“The First Step Toward Freedom”

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Date: 03-18-15

The Big Idea: Address our pray to the Holy One—and Only One, Who can actually give us freedom in forgiveness.

My Thoughts: Many of us seek freedom from the present. Others seek freedom from the past. Or even from themselves. But no matter what freedom we may be seeking, there is a first step in finding this hard sought after freedom.

The first step to freedom, as with many recovery programs, is to admit there is a problem/issue/concern. This admission/confession must get personalized. Yeah, your family has had a problem for years, true. But it is only when you own your role in & contribution to this problem/issue/concern, that you begin your journey toward freedom.

Unlike many sterilized recovery programs, this first step of admission is actually addressed to the more-than-personal higher power: It is addressed to the Holy One—and Only One, Who can actually give us freedom in forgiveness. He not only offers forgiveness, He alone can actually actuate such. As seen in our main text below, the Israelites began their journey to freedom by praising the Holy One. They full-well realized that only He can forgive their sins and bring them the true freedom they seek.

So, Lifestyle worshiper, as we journey on the pathway to Freedom and wholeness, let us take our first steps of confession and ownership of our problem/issue/concern by praising the Holy One Who is the Only One that can free us.

Main Text: — Nehemiah 9:5-6— Blessed be Your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

 I love you, O Lord, my strength. — Psalm 18:1 (NIV84)

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”  —Matthew 11:25 (NIV84)

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. — 1 John 1:8-9 (NIV84)

 Lord Jesus Christ, I  acknowledge that the enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy, but I confess that You have come to bring Life abundantly. I cry to You, Who is greater in me than he that is in the world, to free me from the bondage of those things that hinder my walk with You and the sins that have so easily entangled me. Empower me to run this race marked out for me on the path of Freedom. In Your Name, Amen. 

Coach Mike