A question or two about Sunday’s message on forgiveness

I’m always happy when people have questions about my messages.  It usually means they were listening!  In talking about our private duties to one another, I spoke last about forgiving one another.  Let me clear up two issues I was asked about…

1.  One aspect of forgiveness (the debt or judicial part) can be granted to another without that person asking–and that is what Jesus did on the cross.  He asked God to forgive those who had wronged him, thus releasing his own claim on justice in this case.  This could be seen as releasing our bitterness or wrath over a wrong done.  However, it did not put those who crucified him in right relationship with him–unless they sought his forgiveness.  Relational forgiveness is just that–relational.  It is a transaction between two parties, and I cannot, by myself, make a relationship right with someone else.  If I have wronged someone, I need to go to them and ask forgiveness.  If someone has wronged me, it hurts,  and I have a relationship with that person, I should let them know I was injured by their actions or words, and see if they will acknowledge the hurt and ask forgiveness.  That is what Jesus tells us to do in going to our brother or sister to make something right.  That was what I was trying to get across.

2.  If someone has seriously wronged you and there has been no repentance, you can release the bitterness/do the “judicial” forgiveness of releasing the debt before God, even without them asking.  Chances are you need to do this for your own spiritual health.  However, you are not under obligation to then act as if the relationship is restored.  It is not.  In some cases, there can be an end to the active “breach” through the expression of repentance by the wrongdoer and the granting of forgiveness by the innocent party.  In many cases, however, the original relationship cannot be restored in this life.  As an example, I would cite a couple in my previous church who divorced after one partner’s multiple adulteries.  The other partner became involved in unrepentant immorality.  Both were disciplined by the church.  Both later repented, but one was remarried and the other now is.  They have both expressed to the church their repentance and the relationship is restorable there.  However, after expressing repentance to each other and seeking forgiveness, they realized they could never have the relationship they use to have (and they had at one time had a wonderful marriage and were each other’s best friends).  In cases where circumstances have changed due to the offense, we often cannot go back to the original circumstances.  That is one of the consequences that comes through sin.

I hope these comments clear any confusion on those points.

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Published in: on September 19, 2007 at 11:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Missions Support Decisions…

Sometimes I hear from people who are unhappy that the church is not addressing the support deficits of a missionary that Grace supports.  Why, they wonder, do we not help these wonderful people doing such a great job on so little money? 

That is a tough question.  The short answer is, we don’t have the money.  Give lots more, and missions gets a hefty increase.

The longer answer is, what money we do have has to go to 29 missionary units (families or singles), plus agencies we support (Baptist Children’s Home, Shepherds, and others), all of whom have support needs, save one missionary family reporting support at 100%.  I did a recent calculation, and all of our missionaries have a combined monthly deficit of $22,170 a month!  The total amount we have to disperse to all missionaries over the next year is going to be around $1,100 per month, based on early budget estimates for next year.  If we just give everybody an equal share, it works out to less than $30 per missionary and agency, and that doesn’t do much for anybody.

It gets even more complex, when you begin to think about priorities.  For us to function as we believe God is directing, we want to honor the following priorities.

1.  All else being equal, we want to meet GBC commissioned missionary needs first.  That is, if we are the sending church, we have taken on the primary responsibility for sending this missionary and keeping him/her on the field.

2. We place a higher priority on evangelism among unreached, unevangelized areas.  This may be through direct witness or strategic support of the evangelistic effort through partnerships with internationals.  This is because this is the primary thrust of the Great Commission.  What this means when it comes to choices with our limited resources is  that evangelism among Muslims in North African countries (0.00001% Christians) would be a higher priority than sending a missionary to plant a church in the suburbs of Dallas, TX (which has one Bible preaching church for every 5 people–OK, not quite, but you know what I mean).

The Missions Team is developing a grid based on these priorities, through which to filter prospective missionaries to help us make choices, and also to help us guide those in our congregation who may want to become Grace missionaries.   When it is done, we’ll show it to everyone with much fanfare.  Until then, no fanfare.  In fact, with the amount I shared above, if we try to take on one more missionary at an average level of support (about $400 a month would help us be at 10% support for most), then we have even less to distribute among our current missionaries. 

So, the next time you wonder why we are not helping your favorite missionary, don’t think it isn’t because we don’t want to do so.  It probably has something to do with having no money in our budget to make a commitment.

Published in: on September 19, 2007 at 11:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Welcome!

This blog is dedicated to the people of my congregation, and others who may want to follow my thoughts, clarifications, ramblings, etc.  There are times when sermons need just a bit of clarification or correction, and times when matters come up that I’d like to let everyone know about but just don’t have the time in services to do so.  Sometimes I want to let people know about decisions we are considering within the staff, deacons, or both (matters that need input as well as prayer–no confidential stuff, though).  So, here goes!  And if you got here but didn’t come by way of our church site, just follow this link to discover all the other wonderful material there.

Published in: on September 17, 2007 at 5:53 pm  Leave a Comment