God has so much more ahead of us than we could possibly believe.
That’s why the Apostle Paul said that he resolved to keep moving forward: “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13–14).
But forgetting the past is easier said than done. The past continues to haunt our present, weigh us down, and keep us from running.
We need to resolve to leave the past in the past so we can run in the present, but we also need help with how.
Below are four weights that keep us from running the present and how we can “forget” them and leave them in the past.
Losses include more than people. We can experience loss when our dreams collapse, when we lose a job, or when plans or relationships fail. These losses weigh us down and make us feel like there is no hope.
How to leave it in the past: grieve. God has given us a way to deal with losses: eyes that cry. That’s why we have funerals. We gather friends and relatives and grieve together. Sometimes we need to have a funeral for a lost dream, vision, or relationship.
People have hurt us in many ways. We hang onto these things because we rightly feel that justice needs to be done against wrongs.
How to leave it in the past: forgive. Forgiveness means that we commit it to God as a Just Judge and release ourselves from needing to do anything about it. When we commit to letting it go, we can have peace. This is something we will often have to repeat mentally several times before we are really able to leave it in the past.
Our sins and failures from the past make us believe that we are unlovable and worthless in the present. They keep us from taking hold of the gifts and opportunities that God has for us now.
How to leave it in the past: trust. Believe the promises of the good news about Jesus Christ. God loves you and wants to forgive you no matter what you’ve done. He values you and wants to use you no matter how many times you’ve failed. You’re still His workmanship.
Ironically, the blessings of the past can keep us from enjoying the present. We liked what happened before so much that we can’t enjoy the present (see Ezra 3).
How to leave it in the past: give thanks. We should be thankful for the blessings of the past and not try to re-create them. Be thankful for the place you grew up, your old job, your old friends, or a loved one who has passed on. Give thanks to God for the blessing in your life, and recognize that the same God who blessed you in the past wants to bless you in the present in new ways.
We must not let these things weigh us down and keep us from running in the present. Why? Because God has so many more opportunities and blessings for us! “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18–19).
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Isaiah 53. I think it is probably a favorite for most Christians. This is the passage where we read: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Vv. 5 & 6).
I have enjoyed reading what some famous Christians have said about this passage. I hope that you will find them edifying as well:
“This in many respects may be regarded as the most important in all the writings of the Old Testament, and which is better adapted than any other to lead us to a right understanding of the whole. The partial obscurity which usually accompanies the representations of the prophets seem here to have entirely vanished.” — E.W. Hengestenberg
“Though some things need explanation, this alone is enough, which is so plain, that even our enemies, in spite of their disinclination, are compelled to understand it.” — Augustine
Continue reading “Every Christian Should Memorize This Chapter”
When we talk about the Gospel, we think of how someone becomes a Christian. Once you believe in Jesus, then you need to learn how to live a Christian life.
There is some truth in this, but there is also something really wrong.
The Gospel is not just for the beginning of the Christian life. It is for the whole Christian life.
This just means that God’s love and care for us is our foundation, and we need to hear about it again and again. As the Apostle Paul said, “It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you” (Phil. 3:1). We always need to go back to this starting point.
What does this look like?
Someone’s job is coming to an end, and they don’t have a plan as to what to do. They need help in finding a job, but they also need to hear, “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). Continue reading “The First Thing We Need to Hear”
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a friend. The subject line read: “I love you, but . . .”
So, I quickly deleted it. Just kidding.
It was a criticism of a suggestion that I had made to a common acquaintance of ours.
I called my friend and said, “Don’t worry about it. My identity is not wrapped up in whether my opinions or suggestions are right or not. And if it is, it shouldn’t be.”
In spite of what I said, I know that I do often wrap up my identity in being right about even the most trivial things. I shouldn’t, but I do.
I fear that if I’m not right or don’t have a good suggestion, then I won’t be valuable.
The fact is that I need to see myself this way: I am a man who makes mistakes. That’s just part of the package that is me.
Not only do I try to imagine I don’t make mistakes, but I also try to build my identity on my successes: how well I did, how many friends I have, what people think of me, what I have achieved.
The trouble with our successes is that they are always open to questions like these: How much money do I have to make to be valuable? How big does my church have to be? How successful do my children have to be? How many home runs do I have to hit? How many degrees should I have? What if people don’t like me? Am I still valuable?
We need a better foundation for our identity than our successes. The Bible reveals that better foundation. Our identity should be built not on what we do or what we say but on what God thinks of us. Continue reading “An Identity More Secure than Our Greatest Successes”
by Brian Carpenter
My sister-in-law got remarried not too long ago. Her new husband seems like a good man, and we have high hopes that their marriage will be a good one. Her first marriage was deeply unhappy and she was grievously sinned against in it. My wife had to shop for a wedding gift, of course. While she was doing that, I noticed that the famous love passage from 1 Corinthians 13 is a prominent theme on many of these gifts. You know the one. It begins “love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy or boast . . .” It ends with the words, “love never fails.”
Now, these are true words, and I believe them with my whole heart. The problem is that they are being subtly applied in a wrong way most of the time, and it has led to an epidemic of heartbreak. C.S. Lewis, in his book The Four Loves shows us that the Greeks had four words for love. Storgē, or “affection” is exemplified by the love between a parent and child, though it is much richer than that. Philia, or “friendship” has its own special meaning. Eros is “romantic” love. And there is Agapē, or “spiritual” love. Agapē is the love that God gives to His children and then commands them to give to everyone else. Agapē is what Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13. Continue reading “Our Inward Sickness”
In a previous post, I claimed that humility is a healing balm for political discord. If we can learn to value others with whom disagree, show them respect, and listen, then we can create a better and more peaceful community without sacrificing any of our convictions.
But what happens when both sides stop listening? What happens when you’ve tried everything and someone will not be at peace with you? What happens when all that’s left is coercion or, in the case of nations, war?
Before I give an answer, let me say this. There are very few who have tried to listen in the way we should. I have found that people regularly think there is no way forward, but there is almost always a failure to listen, to think beyond old ways of doing thing, or to respect the other side.
Have you really given humility an honest try?
But back to the main question, what happens when you have and you still find yourself in entrenched conflict? I think not just of politics. Right now, I’m thinking of a split family where one side does nothing but attack. The result is that their family is like two armed camps. How do you exercise humility in such situations? Continue reading “How to Have Humility When Both Sides Stop Listening”