The Power of the Forgiving Spirit

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For too long we have regarded forgiveness with an effeminate virtue of the wishy-washy and weak.  As a result, we crusade with the sword instead of the cross.  Jesus said, “for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” (Matt. 26:52).  We know that there is no lasting progress made without love that cares enough and dares enough to suffer–love that is brave enough to seem slow and soft–love that is not afraid to lay itself down in mercy to redeem.  Forgiveness does redeem.  It redeems us to God and to each other.  While on the cross, Jesus redeemed one of the two thieves who were being crucified along with Him.  The centurion who superintended the crucifixion was overcome with faith and hailed Jesus as the Son of God.  The power of forgiveness has reached forth from the cross and touched untold millions.
The power of forgiveness is manifested in three distinct ways.  First, the act of forgiveness is a demonstration of self-control.  Self-control is a major aspect of forgiveness.  Jesus was goaded to “save himself.”  In Luke 23:35, the scriptures state, “And the people stood beholding.  And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.”  Jesus could have called twelve legions of angels to deliver Him in that moment.  However, He exercises self-restraint in the face of such mockery.  This is meekness.  Meekness is strength or power under control.  Jesus exercised self-control in order to speak the words, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Second, there is power in forgiveness to chasten and rebuke.  Listen to Paul, “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head”  (Rom. 12:20).  There is a power in goodness.  We can overcome evil with good.  Forgiveness taps that power and turns it on one’s enemies.
Third, there is power in forgiveness to strengthen the forgiver himself.  When Jesus prayed for His enemies He beat back the spirits of anger and revenge which try to poison the soul.  “The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh” (Prov. 11:17).  “If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee” (Prov. 25:21-22).  Forgive and the LORD shall reward thee.  “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt. 5:7).
Forgiveness has a power all its own.  It blesses twice.  It blesses the one forgiven and it blesses the one who forgives.  Without the spirit of forgiveness, we shall never obtain mercy from God.

Ohio State Fair Booth

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I wanted to share a picture of the Ohio State Fair Booth for 2011.  Several churches of Christ in the Central Ohio area sponsor the booth and work at the booth during the twelve days that the state fair is operating.  There is a web site for the state fair booth.  It is statefaircoc.org.  For the first time, we produced our own three lesson Bible correspondence course for pre-teens and early teens.  The course covers topics on the Bible, the Church and the Plan of Salvation.  The course is available on the fair booth website.  Also, there are links on the website to the various congregations that help with the booth.

Ohio State Fair Booth

Sermons on the Web

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     My blog is linked to the church of Christ of Groveport website.  On the church’s website, you can listen to sermons recently preached during the morning or evening worship.  This is a new feature for the church’s website that I believe you will find valuable.  Please check back often for new material posted on my blog and for new sermons on the church’s website.

Features Updated

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     I have updated some of the features of my blog.  For instance, I have worked out a bug that will permit readers to comment on my individual blogs.  The comments are moderated.  Please provide all of the information requested.  I appreciate feedback from the many readers of this blog.  I want to express my appreciation to you for your continued interest.  Please pass the word and let others know about the information you find here.  To make a comment, just click on the title of the blog and you will be taken to a page with the comment section.  Complete the information requested and click on submit.  That’s it!

Parental Burnout

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     James Dobson cites Dr. Joseph Procaccini and Mark Kiefaber on the topic of parental burnout in his book, Parenting Isn’t For Cowards.  Procaccini and Kiefaber identify five progressive steps of parental burnout.  They are:
     1.     “Gung-Ho” –stage one.  This stage is the new parent who determines to be “superparent.”  Everything focuses on the children.  Parents deny themselves in order to provide everything they think their children need and then some.  This parent is headed for burnout because he/she is expending more energy than is available to burn.  When parents fail to take time to rest and renew their energy levels, they are headed for burnout.
     2.     Stage two is “persistent doubts.”  At stage two, parents know something is wrong, but haven’t quite figured out what it is.  They are often drained and fatigued and wonder why they are tired all the time or depressed.
     3.     Stage three is called the transition stage.  This is a crucial point in the parenting process.  Parents either recognize the downward path they are on and make changes to reverse it, or they will continue their plunge toward chaos (p. 136).  Parents experience fatigue, self-condemnation, great anger, and resentment.  For the first time parents openly blame their kids for their discontent.
     4.     Stage four is identified as “pulling away.”  In this stage, the parent withdraws from the family and becomes unavailable to the children (p. 137).  Fantasies of “slinging the brat against the wall” or “bashing him good” may occur in this angry parent.  This is one step removed from physical abuse and is a dangerous point.
     5.     Stage five is called “chronic disenchantment.”  It is characterized by confusion and apathy.  The individual has lost all meaning and purpose in living.  Identity is blurred.  Serious problems are imminent.      
     Parenting is challenging.  Parents must learn to use the resources available to them in order to cope with the demands of parenting. Beginning September 5, I will be teaching a class on Biblical Principles for Practical Parenting at the Church of Christ, 5626 Groveport Rd., Groveport, Ohio.  You can access the church’s web page from this site.  Just click on Church of Christ under “Blogroll.”

Elohim–The First Name For God In the Bible

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     We have just completed VBS for the summer.  We studied an important theme:  Exploring the Nature of God.  The material was published by Promise Press, c. 2010 and distributed through Gospel Advocate, Nashville, TN.  I enjoyed the study of God through in-depth consideration of five names for God:  Elohim, Yahweh Elohim, Yahweh Jireh, Yahweh Nissi, and Yahweh Ra-ah.  The first name for God in the Bible comes from the Hebrew term Elohim (Gen. 1:1).  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  Here are some significant facts about this name for God.
     First, Elohim is a plural noun.   The singular form would be Eloah which is poetic and rare.  In prose, the plural has to be used whether polytheistically or monotheistically because there is no other suitable word (Baker’s Dictionary of Theology, p. 239). 
     Second, the plural form in and of itself does not indicate a Triune God, but hints in the context of Genesis 1 do indicate a Triune God.  In Genesis 1:2, “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”  The  Holy Spirit is referenced in this passage.  In Genesis 1:26, the Scriptures declare, “And God (Elohim) said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”  The plural pronoun “us” indicates that more than one person was present in the Godhead.  From John 1:1-3, we learn that the eternal Word was present at the time of the creation of all things and all things were created by Him (see also Col. 1:16-18).  A grammatical analysis of John 1:3 shows that Jesus Christ is the indirect agent in creation and God the Father is the direct agent.  Therefore, the word Elohim refers to God the Father, the Eternal Word and the Holy Spirit as the context of Genesis 1 affirms.
     Third, The plural form is better understood as indicating a plenitude of power (Baker’s Dictionary of Theology, p. 239).  The fullness of the authority and power of God is inherent in this word.  By the word of God (Elohim), the universe and everything in it comes into existence (Heb. 11:3, Psa. 33:8-9).  God is the First Cause and He Himself is uncaused.  Only God (Elohim) can create (bring into existence out of nothing material that which did not exist before).
    Fourth, man (created by God in His image) sustains a relationship to God by virtue of God being his creator.  This is a general relationship in which all men and women are the offspring of God.  Consider Paul’s words delivered on Mars hill in Athens, “For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.  Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.  God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:  For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.  Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.  And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:23-30).
     Fifth, God (Elohim) has the power to bring man into full reconciliation with Himself through Jesus Christ (II Cor. 5:18-19).  Consequently, we can become the “children of God” in a spiritual sense which elevates us to the status of “sonship”.  This spiritual status is achieved through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.  We obtain the remission of our sins through the power of His blood (Eph. 1:7) and we are regenerated through the power of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).  Remission of sins and regeneration (new spiritual life) lead to sonship.  “…Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). 
     Sixth, God (Elohim) is the only one to be worshipped.  God the creator is the only God and He is the only being in the universe worthy to be worshipped.  (see Exodus 20:3).

The Case For Christ

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     I have just posted a new book review.  Please click on book reviews to read it.  Lee Strobel wrote, The Case For Christ more than a decade ago, but it is still relevant.  Strobel interviews thirteen scholars.  Among them are men like Craig Blomberg, Bruce Metzger, Edwin M. Yamauchi, John McRay, Gregory Boyd, Ben Witherington III, Gary Collins, Donald A. Carson, Louis Lapides, Alexander Metherell, William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas, and J. P. Moreland.  Through these interviews, Strobel is able to answer the skeptics who reject various aspects of the life of Jesus Christ or who question the integrity of the Scripture texts of the Gospel accounts of the life of Christ.  The book is packed with good information.  First, you will want to read the review.  Then, perhaps you will buy the book.

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