You Are United with the Mexican Church

Pastor Gustavo and his Wife Marta

Pastor, prophet, apostle and church planter–all that resides in the job description of Gustavo Villanueva. He and his wife Marta and their extended family reside in Mexico City, Mexico.

Kari and I caught them breaking a fast following the recent prophetic conference which he and his church hosted.

Column of Fire is the English translation of their church’s name in Spanish: Columna de Fuego. Pastor Gustavo is a fiery evangel with a passion for God.

For my wife and me, it was an experience to see this man in action. A dynamic preacher with a keen word of knowledge, we saw first hand as he preached the Word and led someone to Christ. We witnessed many healings following his messages, and we saw how God uses him in prophecy.

Perhaps most significant of all, Pastor Gustavo aptly trains numbers of young men and women for ministry. At least four churches are currently growing up under steady leadership from Gustavo and Marta.

Mexican Hospitality–a Lesson for the World

I once remarked to Rocio (the wife of Pastor Waldo) that Americans are noted for independence and efficiency. I then asked, “What in your opinion is the forte’ of the Mexican church?” Without a second thought, she replied, “Hospitality!” So right she is.

Each excursion we enjoy into Mexico, the saints outdo each other with genuine love and hospitality. Churches the world over could come to Mexico to learn first hand what Biblical hospitality looks like. The saying Mi casa es su casa exemplifies the heart to serve and put others first.

Our Hostess Aracely and Their Son Ray

Araceli and her husband Ray are a delightful couple. (Sorry I don’t have a picture of you, Ray senior.) They opened their home to us even though they had not fully moved into their new house. Each drove us around Mexico City for hours on end. They interpreted so capably for us. What wonderful examples of Christian service and hospitality. Thank you, Ray and Araceli and family!

Kari with Another of Our Hostesses, Laura

God used Kari in Mexico. One of our purposes was to challenge capable Christians to hear and obey the call to missions. Kari is an “object lesson” for all to see when it comes to hearing God and following Him.

When God spoke to Kari to go to Murang’a County in Kenya, she prayed and went. She obeyed to go to Mongolia. In each of those nations Kari was able to encourage pastors. She is now in the process of equipping pastors with the Jesus film in their native tongue complete with solar powered projectors, screens and backpacks.

Local Churches in Mexico are Empowered by the Spirit

La Pescadora (the Fisherman’s Church) pastored by Waldo Ceron and his wife Rocio) are a joy to visit. We had so much fun there and the people are so responsive.

Marco (and his wife Melissa) Mendoza lead El Pastor de Amor (The Shepherd of Love) church in Mexico City. This large church is built on the Rock of Jesus Christ. Strong and stable, it serves as a Lighthouse beyond it’s walls in the city.

The church in Mexico is strong and growing. Prayer, fasting, and preaching the Word are pillars of the ministry. Genuine love, as for churches everywhere, is central to the message. Every church we visited begins with a time of ministering to God through talking in tongues.

May God be glorified in Mexico!

We are all united in Christ. What a joy awaits us when we will gather together in heaven to worship our Savior.

California Wildfires

California Burning Again

California Wildfires, Puerto Rico Hurricane, and 107 MPH Winds in the Midwest. How Do We Make Sense of these Things?

 

Could all these be “natural disasters?” Are these the results of “climate change?” Or is there something greater involved?

One thing is for sure. God is getting the world’s attention. He’s stirring the pot aplenty.

Thee Bible prophets often portray natural disasters as not just natural; they have meaning.

It’s the prophets calling to interpret these so-called “natural events” for the rest of us.

Here’s My Take

Behind every flood, hurricane, or fire stands a great and loving God who wants the best for His creation. Nothing stands outside His love. So when mind-boggling disasters occur such as the California wildfires, there has to be an exponentially greater disaster ahead. A disaster of eternal and unthinkable dimension.

I’m not a doom and gloom guy. Nor do I speak ignorantly.

Tornado force winds severely damaged our house. Cancer wracked my body, nearly to death. Each left scars, each marked my life.

Nevertheless, I’m here to say that God is good and has a purpose for everything He allows. Even death brings hope for a better resurrection.

When we’re going through the onslaught, when we’re filled with confusion, when death surrounds us, it’s hard to look up. Still, let’s cheer up, look up, and find the purpose in it all.

The prophet Amos speaks of famine, drought, tornado, pestilence (would a current translation be virus?) plague, war, terrorism, fire and wind as judgments from God.

But you have not returned to Me, declares the Lord (Amos 4).

All of these seemingly natural events were designed to turn the people back to God so that nothing worse would come on them. Each was a dramatic and powerful call to action: Return to Me!

Jesus weighed in on a natural disaster during His day: Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish (Luke 13:4-5).

Throughout Scripture natural disasters are viewed as calls for repentance in order to forestall or avoid further judgments from God that we bring on ourselves. God is a loving Sovereign willing to do whatever it takes to keep people from the eternal fires of hell and bring people back to Himself.

What Should We Do When Disaster Occurs?

One response is to bring further judgment, “They deserve it.” It may be true: They (We) deserve it.

But a better response is to humble ourselves, repent, and call for forgiveness and mercy. In fact, that’s what Jesus advised. He basically said, “Repent or perish,” even when we are not directly involved. Read Luke 13:4-5 again and see if you agree.

Learn from the Prophet Daniel

Daniel modeled this attitude following the invasion by the Babylonian army into Israel.

I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed and said, “Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers and all the people of the land. Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame,

O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.” [A]ll this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our iniquity and] giving attention to Your truth. Therefore the Lord kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the Lord our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice (Daniel 9).

Why fires, floods and hurricanes? I don’t know all, but I do know that in the Bible many natural events were designed to get people’s attention. To shake people up. To get us out of our selfishness. To bring us to the breaking point where we have to admit, “There’s Someone or Something bigger than us around here.

Is every rainstorm, earthquake or tornado a judgment from God? Of course not.

But God has been speaking to me since about 2013 to “Prepare the people for judgment.” Judgments come in many forms. In fact, about 19 different kinds of judgments are mentioned in the Bible. Some ae scary, some are temporary, some are final. But all are true and righteous altogether. By them Thy servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward (Psalm 19:9-11).

I’ve been in earthquakes. Nothing like an earthquake to make you feel totally inadequate. It’s awesome. In an earthquake a person is absolutely, completely helpless. You can’t go up, you can’t go down, you can’t go out–no time. No place to go. No way to hide. Normal intelligence cannot reason with it. Little wonder, in Revelation 6 people cried out for the mountains and rocks to fall on them. I remember in an earthquake in Portland, Oregon, a woman in our apartment ran down the hallway in her nightgown screaming!

These are days when the pillars of civilization are shaking. Take “knee-time” seriously. Not a time to despair. And when the ashes settle, realize God is speaking–and not with words.

These are days of opportunity. These are days to look up. Take heart. Seize the day. Redemption draws near.

Forgiveness in Action

Forgiveness in Action

Forgiveness in Action–here’s one of the most dramatic examples I have ever seen or heard.

In fact, one veteran court reporter admitted he had never witnessed such an event in 40 years of covering courtroom drama.

In October, 2018, off-duty policewoman, Amber Guyger, 31, shot and killed an innocent man, Botham Jean, in what she thought was her own apartment. In October, 2019, Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the murder.

After Guyger was sentenced, Brandt Jean, the brother of the murdered man, embraced Guyger in the Dallas courtroom and said he forgives her.

Brandt Jean asked permission from the judge to give Guyger a hug. He went over to her and the two embraced. Jean told her he doesn’t want her to go to prison. “I love you as a person and I don’t want to wish anything bad on you,” Jean said before they hugged for nearly 30 seconds.

The power of forgiveness from the brother of the murdered man was so strong many in the courtroom were moved to tears. Including the judge, Tammy Kemp. Kemp rose from behind the bench, came down and talked with Guyger.

MSN reposted the ongoing scene of forgiveness in action:



After stepping off the bench to comfort the Jean family, the judge walked over to Guyger, still at the defense table. She bent low and spoke in the young woman’s ear. “You understand?” the judge said, barely audible.

The judge appeared to be overcome in the moment, and left the courtroom. She returned a moment later, a small Bible in her hand.
“You can have mine,” the judge said to Guyger. “I have three or four at home.”
She then began to counsel Guyger. The pair were talking low, barely audible, just the two of them. “This is your job,” the judge said, opening the book.

The judge mentioned John 3:16, saying this will strengthen her. Guyger nodded her head.
“You just need a tiny mustard seed of faith,” the judge said. “You start with this.”

Guyger embraced the judge, who hugged her back. Guyger whispered something.
“Ma’am,” the judge said warmly. “It’s not because I’m good. It’s because I believe in Christ.”
“You haven’t done so much that you can’t be forgiven,” the judge told her. “You did something bad in one moment in time. What you do now matters.”

The judge told Guyger that she could take the Bible with her as deputies prepared to escort her to the prisoner holding cell connected to the courtroom.

As Guyger left to begin her 10-year prison sentence, the judge let out a deep sigh, turned and left the courtroom.

I showed the video to the Church of the Living Water in Muscatine after this powerful demonstration of forgiveness. Such an impact. The whole church was cast into an awesome silence.

You can watch more of the power of forgiveness in action here.

Men Hear Good News of Jesus

Bailey from Muddy Waters Masonry Heard Gospel
Bailey from Muddy Waters Masonry Heard Gospel

Bailey the Masonry Man

Bailey heard the good news of Jesus at our farm. He owns and operates Muddy Waters Masonry located in Andalusia, Illinois. When some of the masonry on the front of our house needed repair, we contracted with Bailey to fix the wall.

It turns out Muddy Waters was a great choice. Bailey did a great job quickly and at a good price.

We had a couple of opportunities to convesrse during the project.

“Have you ever given your life to Jesus Christ?” I asked. That question turns out to be a wonderful door-opener for ongoing conversation. Try it. I’ve asked that question, or one like it, probably hundreds of people. About 9 out of every 10 answer either yes or no and the conversation about God opens.

People love to talk about their faith if they have one. And even if they don’t, they like to talk about the faith they don’t have!

Since Bailey and I both grew up as Lutherans, we have a lot in common. I told him what Christ had done for me. and shared the good news: Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead. He offers a free gift to all who believe.

Bailey opened up about his faith. He believes in God and Jesus, but doesn’t want to go to church. “I work hard, and Sunday is the only day I have for myself.”

We made a good start together. Bailey is not on my mailing list, but I wish he could see 5 Reasons to Join a Local Church.

This Phone Man Heard the Gospel

He Heard Good News of Jesus Christ
He Heard Good News of Jesus Christ

I love to share the gospel. It’s exhilarating. Here’s another great guy. He stopped by the house for installation of internet service. You can tell from his smile his response to questions about personal faith in Jesus Christ.

This man is also a Lute. He readily shared his faith and how God is helping him and his family.

As believers in Christ, we have the awesome opportunity to share faith and encourage people.

I find that men in particular need encouragement from other men. Let’s build traffic for the Kingdom of God! One way is simply by sharing our faith. Start by asking questions.

Will Kari and I See You in Mexico?

Apóstoles Globales Iglesias Locales
Apóstoles Globales Iglesias Locales

Kari and I will participate in a Prophetic Conference in Mexico City on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 25-27. We will also minister at various local churches following the conference.

The host pastor is a wonderful guy named Gustavo. We met Pastor Gustavo Villanueva and his wife for the first time in March, 2018. Without even knowing us personally, he trusted us to speak at his church based on reports he’d heard about us. He had a lot of a faith to invite us!

We went to his building and found an amazing and wonderful fellowship. So many young people! So much uplifting music! So much hospitality!

God has orchestrated Pastor Gustavo’s life and placed him in a position of influence in Mexico.

May God use the upcoming prophetic conference for purposes beyond the ordinary. I don’t know the contact details. If you want to be a part of this conference or visit Pastor Gustavo’s fellowship, contact me via the form below or on Whatsapp at 1 563 554 1401. I will try my best to get back with you with the place and time.

In the meantime, please pray that God will use and anoint us for His purposes on this trip to Mexico.

May God guide and bless you and yours.

Sincerely,

B Mark and Kari

5 Reasons to Join a Local Church

5 Reasons to Join Local Church
5 Reasons to Join Local Church

Can you name 5 reasons to join a local church? Some people are saying they don’t need to go to church. They say it’s a waste of time. Or they have other reasons: “I can’t find a good church,” “Too many hypocrites in church,” “I’m too busy,” “Sunday is my only day to rest.”

Joining a Local Church Demonstrates that Jesus Christ is Your Lord

At salvation, a new believer is automatically joined to the universal body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). When we allow Christ to become our Lord, we join a local church (a local expression of His body).

At conversion, we as infant believers have little knowledge of who Jesus really is. Few, if any, Christians know Jesus as Master (Lord) at justification. As time goes on, we become aware that Christ is sovereign, that He is trustworthy, that He is Healer, Lord, Baptizer in the Holy Spirit, and Soon-coming King. We are all learning more about Jesus as we grow.

Second Reason to Join a Local Church

The local church is God’s primary unit of spiritual warfare. The reason the Son of Man came was that He might destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8b). Every church that follows Jesus will battle the devil in one way or another.

No one goes to the war zone alone. If he faces the opposing army by himself, he is almost 100% certain to die. We need each other to be effective in spiritual conflict.

Psalm 148 speaks of spiritual warfare in both the public and private settings:

Let the high praises of God be in their throats. and a two-edged sword in their hands, inflicting vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, binding their king with chains and their dignitaries with iron shackles, carrying out the judgment decreed against them.

This is an honor for all His godly people. Hallelujah!

The believers dual weapons–high praises of God coupled with commands of faith–are powerful. We are seeing media giants exposed, pastors removed from pulpits, and politicians taken down.

There’s much more to do. Join a local church that has an intercessory fighting unit. Or better yet, lead one yourself.

Third Reason to Join a Local Church

Obedience. The Bible implores not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near (Hebrews 10:25).

Verse 24 shows the purpose of this command: to show concern for one another and to promote love and good works.

Fourth Reason to Join a Local Church

Holy Communion and its benefits. True, one can take the “Lord’s Table” in a family or solitary setting, but do they? It’s much like the man who says, “I can worship God on the golf course.” That may be true, but does he?

Communion with Christ though the bread and wine brings benefits. Immediately following one of our regular communion meetings, a man blurted out with excitement, “I’m healed!” “From what?” I asked him. “From cancer,” he replied so all could hear.

Fifth Reason to Join a Local Church

The local church is not complete without you. Let’s look at the illustration in 1 Corinthians 12:14 Are you an eye to the body? Without you, the body is blind or at least sight-impaired.

Are you an ear to the body? Without you the body (the local church) is either deaf or hearing-impaired.

Are you a foot to the body? Without you, the local church is suffering some form of paralysis.

By not participating regularly, you are defrauding the other people in the church. Every member is important. To not join a church is to withhold your gift from the church. You are important and necessary.

By refusing to become faithful and active, you are frustrating God’s plan for both you and the church. God gave you the gifts primarily for other people, not for yourself. Without your regular participation, you may even endanger the other people in the church.

To illustrate, a minister in Africa invited me to come to his country and hold prophetic meetings. I was interested and began making plans to travel. Bernie, a member of our church got a “check in his spirit” about my plans. He advised me not to go. Fortunately, I cancelled my plans. I found out later that if I had gone, that trip would have caused me great grief. Bernie’s gift spared me!

I’m interested in your thoughts. What do you think of these 5 reasons to join a local church? What are other reasons? If you would, please send your ideas to me.

Review of C. Peter Wagner’s Discover Your Spiritual Gifts

C Peter Wagner

C Peter Wagner’s Discover Your Spiritual Gifts was published by Chosen Books in 2017.

Though short in stature, C Peter Wagner was a whale of a man and minister. His writings and life have left a monumental wake on current Christianity in America and around the globe.

I enjoyed the man and found his ministry heart-warming and enlarging. He was a genuine modern day apostle. Peter died in 2016.

He also had a delightful sense of humor.

In earlier years, I may not have dared to critique the works of such a noteworthy figure. Now I know even heroes need to be reviewed.

So here goes. . .

Pros

Significantly, Wagner is writing about spiritual gifts, a subject too often neglected and misunderstood. His fame, wisdom and understanding helps right the ship.

The short history of spiritual gifts in chapter one can be helpful to many.

Wagner emphasizes the fact that “spiritual gifts are for use within the context of the Body” and that “individual Christians disconnected from the Body are not as useful as they could be. Spiritual gifts are not for Lone Rangers.” He constantly emphasizes the Body of Christ, whether the nuclear body (the local church) or in the marketplace (the extended Body).  

Chapter 4, Pitfalls to Avoid, especially “Gift Projection,” is well worth digesting. This spoke to me and may help bring unity and confidence to church members.

Wagner is a true apostolic father, often considered “the Grandfather of the New Apostolic Reformation.” He sincerely labors to help members of the Body of Christ to discover their spiritual gifts. He designed his questionnaire to aid Christians to become everything that God wants them to be.

Cons

Wagner Minimizes the Importance of the Fullness of the Holy Spirit

Surprisingly, Wagner, does not mention the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (or Fullness or filling, or whatever people call it). If he mentions it at all in this book, I missed it. He simply assumes that believers receive one or more gifts at conversion. This assumption leaves many, perhaps most, believers unaware of receiving spiritual gifts.

Wagner teaches every believer receives spiritual gifts at the time of conversion. Is that true? He bases his theory on the references to spiritual gifts in Romans 12, Ephesians 4 and 1 Peter 4:10. In the New Testament era, all the churches emphasized the Fullness of the Holy Spirit. When there were some churches or individuals who were not yet baptized in the Holy Spirit, the apostles took action to get them filled (Acts 8:14-25). The baptism in the Holy Spirit is part and parcel of the Full Gospel (Acts 8:25).

The same scenario occurs in Acts 19:1-7 where Paul brought the novice believers up to speed by asking, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” “No, we have not even heard there is a Holy Spirit.”

The situation differs significantly today where there has been little or no teaching of the importance that converts open to and receive the Fullness of the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues as was the practice in the early church.

Practically and experientially, most believers today become aware of the gifts when they receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues. Tongues then become the gateway to the other Holy Spirit gifts.

I Have Trouble with His List of Gifts

With no Scriptural backing, Wagner lists voluntary poverty and martyrdom as spiritual gifts. Although each is mentioned in 1 Cor 13:3, neither are designated as a spiritual gifts.

He correctly includes celibacy (from 1 Cor 7:7) as a charismatic gift. However, on the basis of that verse, he would also have to include marriage as a spiritual gift. Does that mean that marriage is a charisma? Perhaps something deeper, something in the nature of God and creation, is at work here.

Is hospitality a charisma, as Peter Wagner claims from 1 Peter 4:9, or is it an attribute for all members of the Body of Christ to develop? Without a clear Bible designation, it seems most appropriate to name hospitality as an attribute for all Christians to work toward.

He also includes deliverance, which is the casting out of demons, as a spiritual gift. However, Mark 16:17 says deliverance will “accompany those who believe,” not limited to those who have a spiritual gift for it.

In Romans 5:16 salvation (justification, dikaiosune) is directly termed a charismatic gift. (This means even the most inflammatory anti-charismatic is actually a charismatic whether he knows it or not!) Wagner nowhere lists salvation itself as a spiritual gift.

What is a spiritual gift and what is not? Wagner leaves us with no clear understanding. On the basis of his writing might I suggest a few more spiritual gifts? What about fasting? What about suffering, is that a spiritual gift? What about investing for the sake of the Kingdom? Perhaps child-rearing? The suggestions could become limitless.

Conclusion

The book is useful, though not without fault. It has helped many understand their spiritual gifts and will continue to guide individuals and churches. C Peter Wagner’s Discover Your Spiritual Gifts was written by a wise and influential apostle. Worth reading as long as the essential requirement of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is emphasized.

I’m the Way to God’s Kingdom by Benjamin Primas

(February, 2019)
 
Praise Lord!
 
I’m the way to God’s kingdom.
 
God loves all of Us.
 
Mark, would You send me one of Yours
 
Bibles? The one You gave Me got lost.
 
I’d share and split it’s teachings.
 
Those days I’m teaching just by
 
memories which is powerful in core
 
subjects but I’m missing the clear
 
definitions I use to repeat.
 
If You could take a picture of first 10
 
pages and send them by email it would
 
take effect on crowd of people. I dont
 
need whole book.
 
God bless You and cheer Your
 
community! I think about them often.
 
Them gave me model of peaceful and
 
lovely society.
 
Remind them the story about clearing in front of own house they can do a lot more if they would not get stuck on the casual struggles. 🙂
 
Cherish God’s kingdom, it’s like a garden.
 
Benjamin with the everlasting Love
 

Another letter from Benjamin Primas

March 23, 2019

Helo Mark,

The second Bible arrived yesterday. Thank you so much.

I already gave speach from the first one. It’s also very nice I can feel shared faith with you evertime I read from it.

I,m daily teaching many people of Prague to rasie their faith as a flag and share courage and hope with the others.

The life here is going better and better. It is working our.

Blessings to Your family and church!

With love in Christ,

Benjamin (Samson) Primas

Publisher’s note: Learn more about Benjamin’s conversion story here.

Apostolic Traits from Paul Anderson

Apostolic Traits
Apostolic Traits

This succinct list of apostolic traits from Paul Anderson helps us focus on the service and qualifications of an apostle. The early church tested those who call themselves apostles . . . (Revelation 2:2).

Paul has not gone around calling himself an apostle. But I recognise him as such.

In a recent email, Paul suggested the following as apostolic traits. With His permission, I publish the list of apostolic traits from Paul Anderson. He noted that other traits, such as suffering, could be added.


  1. FRUIT TRANS-LOCALLY: pastors have fruit locally.
  2. FATHER: children in the faith. Paul said–many guardians, only one father. Mentoring.
  3. INFLUENCE: lives changed. Paul made strong point of this. You are my proof.
  4. AUTHORITY: Things happen when speaking. People recognize position and place.
  5. FLYING WITH TWO WINGS: character and charisma
  6. PASSING THE BATON: raising up and releasing. Not holding onto ministry.
  7. HUMILITY: Must be evident.

Paul Anderson is one of the most honest and humble men I know. And I have known him since about 1970 when we were students at Luther Theological Seminary in St Paul, Minnesota.

As students at Luther, I noted him as a cut above the average. He proved to be a genuine leader among men.

Although he does not parade his accomplishments or proclaim to everyone his apostolic calling, I can say it. Paul Anderson has demonstrated the attributes of an apostle for decades.

He served faithfully as Director of Lutheran Renewal Services, following in the steps of Larry Christiansen. Paul initiated the Masters Institute and he is the founding visionary behind the ARC, the Association of Renew Churches.

In addition, Paul has ministered world-wide, including Europe and Latin America.

Number five on the above list is “Flying with Two Wings: character and charisma.” That’s Paul Anderson. Together with his wife Karen and their family, they have modeled both godly character and genuine charisma for all to see.

Take another look at the list of apostolic traits. If anyone is still wondering “What is an apostle?” here’s your answer. If anyone is still wondering “Are there modern day apostles?”, Paul is your answer.

Before my book about apostles was published, Paul wrote a splendid endorsement. You can check out the book at www.ChurchesandApostles.com

Can Forgiveness Change Your Future?

Can forgiveness change your future?

As you study the dog’s face, what is he communicating?

What do you think? Can forgiveness change your future?

Jesus thinks so. In fact, He says so.

I’m experimenting, and I’m looking for more evidence of what Jesus says about future change through forgiveness.. I’m not doubting what He says, I just want to see and document more of it. Will you help? Send me your story of how forgiveness has changed circumstances if you have one.

Three Specific Ways Jesus Asserts Forgiveness Changes Your Future

First. Matthew 5:14-15: For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

This well-known and oft overlooked statement makes it clear that God’s attitude and actions toward everyone stem from the fulcrum of our forgiveness of other people. Or our lack of forgiveness. That’s supernatural.

It shows one reason why some folks live in the camp of blessing and others in the wilderness. 

My parents, Rognar and June Anderson, experienced seventy-three years of happily-married life. (I’m not saying they never faced struggles. They did. One of their struggles was raising me!) 

Nevertheless, when dad was about 94 years old someone interviewed him with the classic question, “To what do you attribute your long-lasting success in marriage?” Dad’s answer: “Forgiveness.”

Forgiveness Creates More Love

Here’s a second way forgiveness changes a person. It creates more love and blessing.

Forgiveness today creates love more love tomorrow. Perhaps we can say the amount of love we have today is determined in part by the amount of forgiveness we experienced yesterday. See Luke 7:47 . . . he who is forgiven little, loves little. 

Let the converse also be true. He who is forgiven much, loves much.

Forgiveness Liberates

People are puzzled by Jesus’ words in John 20:23. But if we take them simply the way a child does, He is saying forgiveness releases a person. Just think how many husbands need to be released! (Release is what forgiveness means.) How many wives! How many wayward kids!

Forgiveness liberates. Forgiveness absolves sin through the blood of Jesus!

The man’s future in Matthew 18 was determined by his forgiveness or lack of it. Because he failed to release his coworker, he ended up in torment by the choice of the Master.

A Modern Day Example 

I once counseled a man struggling with depression and mental illness. (Let’s call him Dean.)  Life had dealt some hardships and low blows to this fellow. Primarily, his wife and family had forsaken him. It seems no relative supported him socially or emotionally. 

Dean was on the brink of suicide and had been in and out of mental hospitals. As I listened to his stories, I realized he had never forgiven his offenders. 

So the first order of business with Dean was to help him forgive. He spike words of forgiveness. The next time I saw him, he felt a little better. There  was hope.

But he still held onto anger and resentment. He claimed, “I just can’t forgive any more.” I urged him to forgive in faith. I told him he had to work ast it, even to speak aloud in private “I forgive, I forgive, I forgive.”

Perhaps I failed to impart sufficient grace to him. Perhaps Dean chose to hang on to his bitterness (the opposite of forgiveness). Whatever the reason, this man never changed. He kept saying, “I can’t forgive, I can’t forgive.” 

The final time I saw Dean, he remained depressed and was refusing to take normal responsibilities for life.

Can forgiveness change your future? Does unforgiveness affect our destiny?Sure looks like it to me.

I’m experimenting with forgiveness. I’m forgiving President Trump, who is reportedly a new convert to the Christian faith. I’m forgiving broadly. I’m forgiving others just as God in Christ has forgiven me (Ephesians 4:32).

Can forgiveness change your future?

I’m interested in your experience if you can add to this.

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash