Close that chapter and move on…

October 4, 2021

Today’s post was inspired by a graphic that I got this morning about moving on to the next chapter in your life. I’ve written about this a few times, that it is important to let go of the past to move on in life. A big part of that letting go process is forgiving yourself for things that you might have done or maybe left undone in your past.

I was given the opportunity to deliver the sermon at this last weekend’s Sunday service at my church. I talked about forgiveness and the need to forgive ourselves. People who can’t forgive themselves are stuck re-reading past chapters of their lives, usually past mistakes that they feel they made.

The bottom-line of my remarks on Sunday was that we must accept the forgiveness that God has promised us through the death of Jesus on the cross to forgive ourselves and move on. To do any less is to deny the forgiveness that Christ suffered and died for. We are forgiven. You are forgiven. The past chapters of your life are closed.

Now, let’s all move on with life.


Free yourself…

August 21, 2021

I saw this quote recently in a daily email of inspirational quotes that I somehow got on the mailing list to receive.  

“Forgiveness is just another name for freedom.” – (Byron Katie}

One may be excused for not immediately associating freedom with forgiveness. However, if you think about it for a while, the inability to forgive, whether it be forgiving someone who has wronged us in some way or forgiving ourselves for our own mistakes, holds us captive to the bitterness and pain from which we cannot free ourselves.

If, or once, we find it in our hearts to forgive, we are free to go on with life, unencumbered by the baggage of past transgressions, whether by us or against us.

We can find the advice to forgive others in the Lord’s Prayer, where we are admonished to forgive the transgressions (sins or trespasses are terms also used)  of others as God forgives our transgressions. It is in accepting that God forgives us that we also find the reason to forgive ourselves and free ourselves to move on in life.

Forgiving others is sometimes not easy, especially if it is still close in time to whatever the incident was that needs to be forgiven. Sometimes there is an initial reaction of shock to some slight, rejection or wrong that we perceive has been done to us. That is usually quickly replaced by anger. We get mad at someone or maybe at ourselves. We seek someone to blame for what has happened. Hopefully those reactions dissipate quickly, and we can start to think rationally.

There is no way forward along the paths of hate or disappointment that does not lead to further hate or even to depression.  The only way forward that leads to a better life is to forgive. The forgiveness path replaces hate with love. Forgiving does not equate to forgetting, it just means putting the incident in proper perspective and making the choice not to continue down the paths of hate or disappointment. If God can forgive you for your mistakes, surely you can forgive others for theirs or yourself for those same mistakes. If you can reach that point, it is a short journey down that path to get to love for those same people or for yourself.

I know of no greater example of this than the forgiveness that the survivors of the racial massacre of nine worshipers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. in 2015. After the initial shock of the heinous act by Dylann Roof wore off, the survivors found it in their hearts to forgive him and even to pray for him. They freed themselves from the fears and hate of that incident and found a way to share God’s love.

Let us hope that none of us are involved in anything so horrific. Let us also strive to put whatever smaller incidents have taken place in our lives into perspective and move as quickly as we can to forgiveness, so that we, too, can be free.

Forgive…Free yourself.


Forgive yourself…

August 12, 2021

Every now and then I stumble across a web site with a bunch of quotes on a topic that I feel is important to write about in my blog. Today is such a case. I was looking for a quote to use on self-forgiveness and happened upon a site that had the quotes that I’ve used below. I’ve tried to arrange them is an order that makes sense as a progression of thoughts about self-forgiveness. The first three sort of set up the problem that self-forgiveness allows us resolve.

Lack of forgiveness causes almost all of our self-sabotaging behavior. – Mark Victor Hansen

You don’t want to beat yourself up for beating yourself up in the vain hope that it will somehow make you stop beating yourself up. – Kristin Neff, Ph.D.

You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens. – Louise L. Hay

Self-forgiveness is really part of a healing process that help us recover from mistakes or failures in or lives. Forgiveness usually starts with recognition of the problem, admitting that it happened, instead of continuing the denial process. Once we accept that something happened or that we made a mistake, we can begin the healing process.

In order to heal, we must first forgive … and sometimes the person we must forgive is ourselves. – Mila Bron

It’s not about worthiness, it’s about willingness. – R. Alan Woods

It helps to start the process of forgiving ourselves to think about the fact that God forgives us. After all there is no greater authority than God.

I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than him. – C. S. Lewis

Once we get into it, we can have compassion for ourselves and move on into forgiveness and love for ourselves. It is only when you can love yourself that you can love others.

Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves. – Pema Chodron

Forgive yourself. The supreme act of forgiveness is when you can forgive yourself for all the wounds you’ve created in your own life. Forgiveness is an act of self-love. When you forgive yourself, self-acceptance begins and self-love grows. — Miguel Ángel Ruiz Macías

So, stop looking for someone else to give you love until you first give yourself love.

You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. – Buddha

The Aretha Franklin film RESPECT opens this week in theaters. To have the respect of others you must first respect yourself. I think a big part of respecting yourself is forgiving yourself and loving yourself. Forgive yourself and earn that respect.


Who am I to judge?

June 2, 2021

In the post to he blog, Jack’s Winning Words, to day Pastor Freed used this quote sent to him by a reader –“You’ll never look into the eyes of a person who God doesn’t love.”  (Sent by Pr Jennie) 

Freed went on to comment about God’s grace – forgiveness without recompense – and the fact that there is no sliding scale for sins or forgiveness. So, we don’t have big sins and little indiscretions, just sins. And God does not use a scale from 1 to 10 to measure out his grace.

As he usually does in his blog, Freed challenged the reader with a question – Paul, the one we call a saint, referred to himself as the “chief of sinners.”  Would you ever say such a thing about yourself?

I seldom stand in front of the mirror admonishing myself as a sinner; however, I realize the sins that I have committed in the eye of God and stop occasionally to ask for God’s forgiveness and His help in not committing them again. Sometimes it is hard to look that guy in the mirror in the eyes and forgive him his sins.

I used the line from Pope Francis as the headline today because I think it is important within the context of all of us being sinners that we stop and ask that question of ourselves when our tendency to judge the sins of others takes over. The phrase “rush to judgement” comes to mind. We rush to overlook our own sins and focus on the sins of others. And, our focus is not to forgive them, but to shame or condemn them for those sins. We place ourselves in the roles of judge and jury and sometimes of executioner.

I have posted here before about the most striking examples of people following the example of God’s grace and forgiveness. One of those examples was reported on the news shows when parishioners from Emanuel African Methodist Church were interviewed after the shooter was arrested and convicted. The Charleston church shooting (also known as the Charleston church massacre) was a mass shooting on June 17, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina, in which nine African Americans were killed during a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The surviving members of the Bible study group when interviewed all said that they had forgiven the shooter and were praying for him. That’s just hard to wrap one’s head around. Yet, that is the level of forgiveness that God shows all.

So, while we may have a sliding scale of sins from 1 to 10 in our minds, they are all sins in the mind of God and he loves us so much that he forgives them all. God’s love and forgiveness is always a 10. So, who am I to judge the sins of others? My role should be to find a way to forgive and love them, too; even that guy that I see in the mirror.

Let us all take this piece of advice from Luke – “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)

Have a great and forgiving day!


Let God be your eraser…

February 10, 2021

In his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, today, Pastor Freed posted this – “The only mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”  (John Powell)  Written errors can be eliminated by erasers.  But, how do you get rid of life mistakes?

Freed went on to write about learning from one’s mistakes in life. I have posted here several times about that, too. My latest post was earlier this month about trying something different when you fail.

That little sentence about not having erasers for life’s mistakes caught my attention. In the legal system there is a concept called expungement, which basically means that one’s past criminal record is wiped clean, so that it does not follow a person around and further mess up their life. Michigan is considering a dramatic expansion of the concept of expungement for its legal system.

Almost every job application that I’ve ever seen has a question on it about whether one has any criminal convictions in their past. While it is important for the potential employer to know if they are dealing with a criminal who is likely to again steal or hurt someone, it is also important for the person who may have committed a crime early in their life to be given the chance to prove that they have changed their ways and would now make a good employee. Expungement is not aimed at the incorrigible criminal, but rather at the person who has learned from their mistakes and reformed their life. Potential benefits in this case outweigh the risks involved in  giving the person the chance at a good job and a new life by expunging their criminal record.

Not all mistakes that we make in life are criminal in nature, but many of them follow us around like the “rap sheet” of a criminal. In some cases the mistakes we ‘ve made may be known by many, but for the most part, the guilt that we carry with us for our mistakes is a personal thing. That guilt that we carry in our minds may prevents us from doing the things that we should be doing in life – they hold us back.

Hopefully we did learn something from those mistakes, but how do we expunge them from our lives and move on? We need an eraser.

That’s where God comes in. We are told –

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

And

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,” – Acts 3:19

It all comes down to admitting (confessing) to God and ourselves that we did something wrong, that the wrong is in the past and can’t be changed and then accepting the forgiveness of God, so that we can forgive ourselves and move on with life. Expunge your past mistakes. Accept the forgiveness of God and move on.

Let God be the eraser for your life mistakes.

Make a fresh start today.


I forgive me. Now you forgive you…

February 5, 2021

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote from Joan Baez – “Forgiveness of self is the hardest of the forgivenesses.”

I’ve posted here a few times about loving oneself before one can love others. A key to loving what and who you are is forgiving yourself for the mistakes that you’ve made in life. We all tend to beat ourselves up for doing something stupid or failing because of a bad decision or maybe even making a horrible mistake that costs us a friendship or even a loved one. It is hard to forgive ourselves for those mistakes, yet it is essential in order to move on with life.

I think the thing that we need to do first, in order to forgive ourselves is to accept that God loves us so much that he forgives whatever we have done and continues to embrace us. Once you can accept God and His love into your life, you will find it easier to forgive yourself and move on. It allows you to refocus from the thoughts of “I wish that I hadn’t” onto thoughts of “I still can”. It resets your sights from the past towards the future. It allows you to move on from “What did I do” and instead start thinking about “What can I do”.

That refocus to the future points to another aspect of forgiving yourself and that is learning from your mistakes and doing better in the future. The goal is not to somehow wipe out the memory of whatever it is you did; rather, it is to learn from it so that you don’t do it again and perhaps even change the course of your life because of that learning.  We see stories on the news every now and then about ex-cons wo go on after their incarceration to become leaders and motivators in their communities. They forgave themselves and changed the course of their lives.

Most of us will not have an event as dramatic in our lives as going to prison; however, we have almost daily instances of the need to forgive ourselves for some small mistake or oversight that causes a guilty feeling. You know that you feel guilty when you look the other way and hurry past that Red Kettle outside the store  or that beggar on the street corner. And how about being too much in a hurry to hold that door open for the person just behind you at the store or maybe forgetting about a loved one’ birthday or your own anniversary? Those are little things that make you feel bad about yourself later. There are, of course, bigger things in many people’s lives; however they are forgivable, too.

Maybe you can start each day with a prayer asking God to forgive you and for His help in forgiving yourself. More importantly, start each day accepting God’s forgiveness and forgiving yourself. Start your day with that clean slate, instead of carrying around a “rap sheet” of past crimes.  

God loves us and forgives us. I forgive me. Now, you forgive you and this will be a great day for both of us.


Change the ending…

July 24, 2020

In the post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, today Pastor Freed used this quote – “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”  (Sent by Robin Klehr)

Pastor Freed talked about not wasting your time on the “coulda”, “woudla”, “shoulda”s of life, but rather refocusing upon the “gonna” that is right in front of you. We often spend too much of our lives regretting the things that we might have done differently in the past and not enough time thinking about doing things differently in the future. Freed recommended saying to yourself, ”with God’s help I’m gonna…”

One needs to deal with the fact that in the instances in your life when you coulda, woulda, shoulda, you didn’t. The best way to deal with that is to forgive yourself and move on to the gonnas that are still ahead of you. For people who cannot find a way to forgive themselves the ending is often depression or worse – suicide. Those are endings that must be changed.

In his post, Pastor Freed prefaced the words “I’m gonna” with the phrase “with God’s help” and that is the best way to begin. Every week in our church service (now on video during the Corona Virus Pandemic) one of the first things that we do is a confession of sins and an ask for forgiveness. It is easy to understand that one’s coulda, woulda, shoulda’s are sins of either commission or omission – we state it as “things done and left undone”.  After admitting our sins the Pastor exercises his authority, thorough Jesus Christ, to forgive them.

If that sounds simple, it is; but it is also powerful. Let me share with you’re the prayer that we recite together as a congregation –

We confess that we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name. Amen.

Let those words sink into your mind and your heart. Doesn’t that about cover the things that have been bothering you; the things that keep you up at night? If those things were forgiven, couldn’t you forgive yourself and move on?

Now imagine that God  or the Pastor has replied – “Your sins are forgiven in the name of Jesus Christ.” At that point, all of your coulda, woulda, shoulda’s are gone, in the past, forgiven. You can start to focus upon the gonna’s that God has empowered you to experience. You have changed the ending. You have a future that you can control.

You don’t have to wait for the Sunday service video (This week available at https://youtu.be/qDbi-vs-UyY). You can do this in the privacy of your home. Use our prayer, if that helps; but get whatever it is that is bothering out on the table and ask God forgive you, so that you can also forgive yourself.

Change the ending in your life. Now, what are you gonna do?


Who are you becoming?

May 1, 2020

In his Jack’s Winning Words blog post today, Pastor Jack Freed used this quote –

 “With God it isn’t who you were that matters, it’s who you are becoming.”  (Liz Curtis Higgs)

Every day we have the opportunity to start the journey to becoming someone that we would like to be, rather than continue down the path that we’ve been on.  Most don’t stop to think about that each morning, nor do many actually pause to make a plan to start in that new direction. For most, It is just easier to let momentum continue to carry us in the direction that we’ve been going. We accept the status quo as, “I am”; instead of reaching for, “I could be”.  

The society that we live in doesn’t make that any easier for those whose past includes huge mistakes or even criminal behavior. Society tends to pin labels on those people and make it hard for them to become anything else. In some cases we use stereotypes, in most cases derogatory, to prejudge people or to “keep them in their place”.

But, what if you want to become something else and move to a different place.  What if you want to become known as the person that you are becoming and not as the person that you were? We see the occasional story on the news of the ex-con who turned his/her life around in prison and became a new person and headed in a new direction. In many cases they become advocates for change in other people’s lives.

The stories seldom go deep enough to detail the struggles that they went through to make that change, but it wasn’t easy. Our prison system is not designed to reform and help the inmates make life changes into positive directions as much as it is just designed to serve as a deterrent by the example it sets of the punishment for wrongdoing. The few that emerge from the prison experience having made dramatic life turnarounds did it on their own against huge odds.

The key for many, if not most, of those stories was the inmate’s acceptance of God in their lives. The reason that is so critical is that the first step in making the change was to realize that God forgives them for their past. They can then move on to forgiving themselves and from there to committing to becoming a new person – the person that they want to be.

One does not have to be an incarcerated criminal to undergo this process and make the changes in their life that allow them to become a better person – a person who is happier with who they are.  It is important, however, to seek God’s help as a first step. Accepting God into your life and accepting His forgiveness frees you to forgive yourself and move in a new direction – towards the person that you wish to become.

As you pause in prayer each morning, ask yourself what you will do today to become that person that you want to be and then ask for God’s help in accomplishing those things. It’s not an instant thing, but if you make it a consistent thing in your life you make some small amount of progress towards your goal each day.

Who are you becoming? What is your goal for today? Remember that God’s got your back.


Don’t forget to forgive…

January 17, 2020

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Jack Freed used this quote –

“Not the power to remember, but the very opposite, the power to forget, is a necessary condition for our existence.”  (Sholem Asch)

That may well be good advice; however, it is the power to forgive that is a necessary condition for true peace. Forgiving others is a key point in the prayer that Jesus left with his disciples – The Lord’s Prayer.

I have posted here a few times about how amazing the nightly news stories are about people who have been the victims of injustice or sometimes even savage violence saying that they have forgiven the perpetrators. They didn’t forget, but they are able to move on with life because they were able to forgive. Not surprisingly, many of those stories involve church members who suffered some atrocity or wrong while at church.

The first step to forgiving is to put whatever it is into the perspective of time. In most cases, one can say, “It happened, but it is over.”  So, put it behind you in time and then focus upon dealing with your feeling of the need for retribution. We often her people say that they are seeking justice; when, in fact, they are seeking payback. They seem to think that they will find peace in the fact that someone goes to jail or in the payment of some amount of money. Neither really brings the closure or peace that forgiving brings to the situation.

All of us have the ability to forgive, even if we can’t forget. Not being able to forgive most often means that we hold on to not just the pain of the event, but the feeling of the need for retribution. We keep a score to settle in our minds. That sense of need for payback keeps open the wound of the original incident, rather than allowing the wound to heal. We see life as a zero-sum game in which we need to inflict some sort of pain back in order to cancel out (zero out) our own pain.

Perhaps a better way to keep score is to see our ability to forgive as the means to zero-out things. We need to be able to forgive ourselves as well as others in order to avoid living in a negative state of mind. The Lord’s Prayer tells us to ask for forgiveness for our trespasses (sins) as we forgive the trespasses (sins) of others towards us. If we can do that to zero out the bad things that we do to ourselves or the things that others do to us, then we are left with only the good things in life to remember. That is a much happier place to reside than the dark pit of despair and vengefulness into which not being able to forgive leads.

As you start out today, think about the trespasses of others against you that you may be holding onto and focus not upon retribution but on forgiveness. Maybe saying the Lord’s Prayer will put you in the right frame of mind. At least you will have the comfort of knowing that you have asked for forgiveness of your own transgressions, and that is a great start to any day.

Don’t forget to forgive.


Save your eyes…

February 5, 2018

The Jack’s Winning Words blog today used a quote from Mahatma Gandhi – “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”  (Mahatma Gandhi)

I thought about that and another popular saying crept into my thinking – “Revenge is a dish best served cold”.

It occurred to me that what Gandhi was saying is that revenge is not a dish to be servedeyes of revenge at all, either within the heat of the moment or in a more calculating way. Seeking revenge for some wrong that one perceives has been committed against them goes directly against the principals of Christianity. In Matthew Chapter 5, verses 38-40, Jesus said, 38 You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[a]39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.”

It is hard in the heat of the moment to turn the other cheek, as Jesus recommended, when you have been slighted or scorned, or in some other way offended. Our reflexive reaction is often to strike back immediately. I hope that your faith gives have enough self-control to stifle that reflex.  It should be less difficult to do so once the moment has passed and you have time to think about it. It is in that time of reflection that you should regain the perspective that your faith gives you and chose to turn the other cheek, instead.

Taking revenge is often followed by regret for having allowed yourself do so. You realizemen hugging that you have lowered yourself to the level of the person who you believe has wronged you and that never feels good. A second evil action does not make right the initial evil action. Rather, reaching out with forgiveness and love to that person not only makes you feel better, but it may help them, too. They may secretly be regretful of the hurt that they have caused and your forgiveness will bring closure to that regret and may bring you a new friend as well. Nothing works better to smother the flames of hate than a blanket of love thrown over the flames.

So, rather than seeking revenge for the wrongs that you believe someone has perpetrated against you, seek out that person and tell them that you forgive them. Bring reading-bibleclosure in your own mind to the incident and perhaps in their mind, too. In a world to often full of people blinded by the “eye for an eye” manta of revenge, remember another old saying, “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”

Turn the other cheek, forgive and keep your eyes open. The world can be a beautiful place if you have the eyes to see it as such. Have a wonderful and forgiving week ahead.