Monday, September 3, 2012

Support Your Spouse

For me, supporting my wife was not an option. It’s one of the reasons God gave her to me. I’ve come to realize that I may have an advantage over some spouses because I knew about my wife’s abuse within the first few days of dating. My wife thought that I’d run off scared. We’d both been through trying times in our lives and it just made us connect. I know that knowing about her abuse before I fell in love with her is an advantage over some couples but love is a choice. When you got married, you made a commitment “for better or for worse.” We always hope the “worse” never comes but now that the secret is out, I pray that you’ll stand by your spouse. Here are some things that I’d like you to think about.

Be proud of her
When my wife told me her story, I was proud of her. She’d endured so much abuse and she still loved God and wanted to serve Him. She did right by giving her baby up for adoption and had moved on with her life and was trying to make the best of it. I admired her for her strength.
Don’t blame her
It’s not her fault. My wife had no control over the things that happened to her. Blaming her in any way is putting the blame on the wrong person. You can also play the “what if” game but it does not matter. She was abused. Someone took advantage of her and it was not her fault.
She’s not damaged
Some might view a person who has been sexually abused as “damaged goods.” This is far from true. A person may have wounds and scars from the life they have endured but this does not make them damaged. I’ve never looked at my wife as being less of a person because someone abused her. I look at her and realize that she’s a better person because of her past. I’ve always thought that God was going to use her in a special way to be a blessing and encouragement to others because of what she’s gone though.
Help her get justice
This is an area that I feel bad about because it never crossed my mind to get justice for Tina. Tina may not have been ready for it but I never brought it up. She had moved on, had accepted it as her past, and was trying to get on with life and “forget” about it. The great thing is that God had His timing and when the time was right, God worked out the details.
Stand with her (Be Supportive)
It is not an easy thing to bring up the past. It’s even harder to make things right and bring about justice. It’s even harder when you, as a spouse, are not supportive. Your spouse needs you. She needs to know that you support her and will stand with her. She needs to know that no matter what happens you will be with her, not judge her, and do whatever is necessary to make sure she feels loved. It makes everything a million times harder if she thinks you’re going to do to her like everyone else who has abused her in her life.
Most of the time you’re not going to know what to say but if you just listen, it will go a long way. You may not even understand because you have not gone through it. That’s fine. If you can be a sounding board for her, it will show you how much you love her.
Get Counseling
If you’re having a hard time coming to grips with your spouses abuse, get a licensed counselor who specializes in abuse and have that person help you walk through the issues that you are and will face in the future. Your spouse may be dealing with things that he/she may not understand and it will help them also.
Conflicts will happen
There are times when conflicts will arise between couples because of the stress caused by dealing with the past. Be aware of this. This is probably where I struggled the most because I sometimes took it personal and it wasn’t really me that she was upset with but I was the closest and even the little things were made bigger.
Be aware
Pay attention to your wife. There were times I could tell my wife was not sleeping well and I could only imagine the nightmares she may be having. Do something to help comfort her. I used to turn on the radio or put on a CD of Christian music for her. This seemed to soothe her because the positive, life-affirming music would drown out the dreams and subconsciously dwell on something more positive than her past.
My prayer was for me to understand my wife better. I knew it wasn’t her that needed to change but me. I figured that if God could help me see things from my wife’s point of view, than I could help her through the things she was going through. In turn, this would translate into a stronger relationship between us.
See the light
You may be going through a dark tunnel right now and see no end in sight but keep your eye on God and He will bring you through. Eventually, you will see the light at the end of the tunnel. The best light you see is when you see God’s hand directing and leading and bringing glory to His name because you did what was right. And hopefully you get to see justice. Unfortunately, that does not always happen but it’s great when you do.

This is not an easy thing to go through but it’s easier when you do it with someone you love and with someone who loves you. The Bible talks about two being better than one because when the one falls the other is there to pick them up. That’s marriage and when the trials of life, both literally and figuratively, happen, you’re there to support each other. 

I realize that it’s not just men that have to deal with a wife that’s been abused. Unfortunately, boys have been abused also and it’s just as hard for men to admit they’ve been abused as it is for women. There are a lot of books about abuse but I’d like to introduce you to a man who had to go through this journey. Bill Harbeck lived with his secret for over thirty years. I’ve read his story, Shattered: One Man’s Journey from Sexual Abuse and it is heart-wrenching. I’ve met and talked with him and his wife a couple of times. I would encourage you to read his story.

Monday, August 27, 2012

“You’re Hurting the Name of God”

You might hear other variations, such as: “You’re hurting the Cause of Christ” or “God’s Name will be Damaged” or something along those lines. As a Christian, this is the last thing that you would want. Right after someone says this to you, you’ll probably hear them say that if unbelievers hear this they will not want to become Christians. This insinuates that you are stopping people from receiving Christ as their Savior because sin was made public for everyone to see and we should keep Christian shortcomings secret so that “the name of Christ is not hurt.”

Do you think that God is worried about His name? Do we see God covering up the sin of His people so that He does not get a bad name and reputation among unbelievers? What has been God’s public response to sin? In Scripture, these answers are better to see than when you’re down in the middle of the situation and living life but through Scripture we see how He protects His name.
I can imagine what people might have said to Samuel. “Hey, you’re hurting the name of God by confronting King Saul in front of all those people for not obeying by killing everyone and all the animals. He meant well and just made a mistake and He was going to offer the stuff to God anyway. That should count for something. Let’s not make a big deal out of this because you’ll make us look bad in front of the other nations.”

What about when Nathan confronted David about his sin? Can you imagine Nathan arguing with God? “God, I know David did wrong. I know he killed Uriah and a baby was conceived out of wedlock but he's the "man of God" and if you make everyone aware of the sin that he did, they’re going to question Your choice in making David king. I’d hate to see that and they are going to blame Bathsheba. They are going to start questioning her age, and if she consented. They’ll say that she did it on purpose to seduce him, or that the Philistines put her up to it. I just don’t think the nation of God can handle the scandal and ridicule that will happen. You also know that nobody’s going to want to come to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices and worship You. What about the tithes and offerings? Those are going to suffer.”

Can you imagine what the disciples were telling Jesus while he’s throwing out the money changers in the Temple? “Jesus, you’re hurting your name. Settle down. Why are you getting so mad? We’re in the foyer of the Temple and these are just people who have set up booths and display tables to sell things to believers to help them be better believers to serve God. You’re going to make yourself look bad and if people see your behavior they won’t want to follow you. If they are really doing something wrong, you need to follow your own teaching and go to them one on one and confront them of their sin. If they don’t listen, take us with you to confront them, and if that doesn’t work than you need to talk with the priests to get them kicked out. You’ve really need to think about your image before you start throwing things around.”

And what about Paul when he confronts Peter in Galatians 2? Those church leaders should have told Paul, “This is a local, independent, Baptist church and we just don’t confront other pastor’s in our fundamental circles. That would make us look bad and cast a bad light on the name of God and people might not want to join our congregation. We just don’t get involved in the affairs of other churches and you shouldn’t either. If you have a problem, you should probably just start your own church and do it your own way. We have these rules to make us conform to the image of God and if you can’t accept and look like us Christians, than you are probably just backslidden and need to get right with God.”

My above examples are just absurd but they sound familiar. People are so worried about “hurting the name of Christ” that they’d rather hide sin and cover abuse than to do what is right and what God in the OT and what Jesus and the apostles demonstrated in the NT. God says that “to obey is better than sacrifice.” If we apply that today, God would want us to do what’s right and confront sin instead of determining that we’ll just tithe more, serve more, preach louder, witness longer, make more rules, and “forgive and forget” because we don’t want our reputation spoiled because someone might not want to come to church with us because we don’t look righteous.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Daniel Leaf Indicted for His Abuse of Tina Anderson

Daniel Leaf has been indicted for his abuse of his stepdaughter, Tina Anderson, when she was a young child.

"Man named in rape trial now indicted:  Stepfather faces sex assault counts"
by Maddie Hanna on August 23, 2012

A few quotes:
"When she testified last year to being raped and impregnated as a teenager in 1997 by a married man who attended her Concord church, Tina Anderson told jurors she also had been sexually assaulted by her stepfather years earlier. 
Anderson said at trial that her mother and her pastor at Trinity Baptist told her to forgive her stepfather, Daniel Leaf, for the abuse, and he never faced charges in connection with her allegations. 
That changed last week, when a Merrimack County grand jury handed down two aggravated felonious sexual assault indictments charging Leaf with assaulting Anderson between 1990 and 1992, starting when she was 10 years old." 
The topic of "Forgive & Forget" was brought up at the trial of the man who was convicted of raping Tina. You can read more about that here.

Tina's biological mother, Chris Leaf allowed Daniel Leaf back in her home even though he had been imprisoned in Arizona and NH for abusing the children (convicted of assault with evidence of extensive bruising). In addition, Daniel Leaf was a convicted child sex offender. She continues to live with him today in NH. Clearly, she chose her pervert, pedophile, child abusing husband over the well-being of her children.

More from the article...
"He was also convicted of second-degree assault in 1992, according to the registry. Christine Leaf, his wife and Anderson's mother, testified in court last year that her husband had been found guilty of the assault for spanking her son. She said he spent seven years in prison for the sexual assault conviction, which she said related to a victim who wasn't one of her children.
Yesterday afternoon, Christine Leaf answered the door at the couple's house in Tilton and said she did not think her husband, who was inside, would wish to comment.
"Really, I don't think we have anything to say," Christine Leaf said, asked whether her husband maintains his innocence."
Hopefully, Daniel Leaf will finally be held accountable for the abuse of Tina. She deserves justice, as do all children abused by anyone. Children should be safe in their homes, churches and schools. In my opinion, pedophiles should never be released from prison. I believe the recidivism rate demonstrates that they just cannot be trusted to be around children ever again. Keeping them locked up seems to be the only way to protect children from them.

Would you like to help Tina and Tim?

Tim has been updating folks on Aria's medical condition on his blog:  Tina's Marine.  I've had a number of folks ask me how they can help. It's really hard to figure out an easy way to do that without giving out their address, so I just asked Tim what I could tell people.

If you would like to contribute to help towards Aria's medical expenses (about $3000 just for the most recent brain surgery), you can send a gift via their PayPal account (they are verified users of PayPal). The e-mail address to use for sending the gift is

If you are wondering more about Aria's condition, you can read about it here.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Don't Shoot the Messenger

A couple days ago I was talking with someone inside the IFB movement, who is very satisfied and comfortable with what they believe and made the statement that they aren’t going anywhere. While talking about it, they made at least two logical fallacies that I’m sure that most people in this person’s situation are making. The first was that we shouldn’t be talking about everybody’s abuse because we don’t know the whole story. It was stated that it was fine what we did and what was done to us was wrong and we could talk about it because we were there. The problem with talking about the other stories is that there are two sides to the story, and we don’t know all the details, we shouldn’t be saying anything about it. The reasoning is that these “victims” could be making it up to get attention and I was asked if I thought that was true. I said most people would not make up an abuse story. Even real victims don’t want to come forward because they don’t want the attention. I did say it highly unlikely and that we will always side with the abused. We will always speak up for them because they don’t always have a voice, especially in religious organizations and churches and we will always support the abused.

One of my biggest concerns is that the message of abuse in the churches is being dismissed because of the people trying to draw attention to the abuse. This was the other logical fallacy that was brought up. They stated that it looks like it’s just a vendetta against churches and that they’ll do anything for attention. They also said all the stuff they see on Facebook in reference to their lifestyle and everything else was making them not look credible and because of our association with them that we don’t look credible either. I tried to explain, briefly, that just because you don’t agree with how an advocate lives, does not lessen the importance or significance of what they are trying to say.

I’ve communicated with people from various religious, sexual, and political backgrounds with varying levels of interest from soft-spoken to overly-aggressive in stand against abuse. Every single one of the people has one goal in mind. Their goal is to stand up against the abusers. They have taken different methods and tactics but they want to see abuse end, no matter what the organization, whether church, college, children’s home, etc.
Another thing that keeps being mentioned is motives. I think we should worry more about what is being done than why it’s being done. Motives refers to the heart that we can’t see. Let God worry about that. We may assume or even be right about someone’s motives but don’t dismiss someone’s message because we think they have the wrong motives. It does not change the fact that abuse needs to be attacked. 

Mark 9: 38-40 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us.

Philippians 1:15-15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice.

Can I make a suggestion?  DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER. In other words, don’t dismiss them because they don’t think like you.

ADVOCATES – Keep your voice loud and clear! Keep up the fight, no matter the obstacles. Don’t attack each other. You’re on the same team, with the same goal, just in a different part of the war.  

IFB MEMBERS – Just because you don’t like someone’s beliefs or lifestyle, don’t ignore the warnings. The problem is real even though you don’t like it. Listen to the message, even if you don’t like the messenger. It’s important.

IFB PASTORS – Become an advocate!! Quit being quiet about the problem. Stand up for the victim and stand against the abuser. You’re so vocal on so many things that don’t matter. Be vocal for God’s children. Remember Jesus cleaning out the Temple? Do that! Help clean God’s House and throw out those who claim to serve God but are only serving themselves.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Most of us coming out of IFB churches and organizations have to deal with family and friends. This separation can put a lot of strain on you, your spouse, your kids, and those around you. For some, family and friends have chosen not to associate with you and have “separated” from you. This is not easy.

Every situation is different but I have a few suggestions on what you can do based on my personal experience.

o   How hard it was for you to leave.
o   Why it’s hard for most people to leave.
·         The loss of family and friends
·         The lies, gossip, misunderstandings, mean, and unchristian things that will be done and said.
·         The assumption that they’re not following God any more and maybe they weren’t saved in the first place.
·         It's all they have ever known, and change is tough!

o   Some have spent decades in this type of church and organization and don’t know anything else.
o   They might not be aware of the abuses in other churches or possibly even their own church (lots of stuff is "behind the scenes" or hidden).
o   They’re comfortable where they are with what they know.
o   They might not see the problem.
o   If they do see a problem, they don’t know what to do.
o   That you didn’t see clearly all the abuse until you left.

o   Open to restoring relationships and friendships
o   Vigilant in pointing out abuse
o   Strong in your resolve to do what honors God
o   Prayerful – asking for deliverance of others from the hands of abusers

o   To speak up for victims
o   To not attack others

I’m more fortunate than some in that my sisters and we love each other and haven’t broken fellowship over our differences. I’m sure they’re concerned for my family because we left the IFB and we’re concerned because they’re still in it. Either way, we love and support each other. With my dad’s situation, I’ve not told my dad but I can imagine a parent’s displeasure that you’ve chosen a different path than what you’ve been taught.

Our goal is for our family to honor and please God, not please others. We just pray that we can keep shedding the light on abuse to bring about a change in the system of religion that we grew up in. We pray for change and we see it slowly as people leave the IFB for churches that love God and each other.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Critique of Chuck Phelps' Forgiveness Lesson (Pg6)

“The Tough and Tender Side of Forgiveness”

At #5, Vertical Forgiveness says, “Rather than seeking vengeance, the believer releases the penalty to God.” These verses deal with vengeance not penalty or consequences. We don’t take matters into our own hands but part of putting it into God’s hands might include putting it into the hands of law enforcement. I’m so afraid that this “releasing penalty to God” will cause some Christians to ignore sin thinking that God will take care of it when God’s already put in place a system to take care of sins.

Chuck Phelps goes into the definitions of love. I’m not sure why this Greek lesson is necessary to understanding “tough love.”

“Love must be tough”
#1 – Why do feelings have to be overcome before confronting an offense or sin?

#2 – Why can’t I offer forgiveness before it’s asked for?
a.                  He says it’s because it “robs the offender of the lessons of guilt.” No, the lack of relationship due to unresolved sin is what might bring conviction but there is nothing wrong with letting the offender know that forgiveness will be granted or is being offered if offender asks.
b.                  Is waiting for someone to ask for our forgiveness the only model that we’ve been given? No, on the Cross, God gave us the example of forgiveness offered before it was asked for or even before we realized we needed it.

#3 – We may need to confront
a.       Matthew 18:5-6 says nothing about confronting sinner, he probably means vs. 15-16.
b.      Matthew 5: 23-24 says if you know someone has something against you, get it resolved.
c.       Luke 17:3 says that if a brother sins, confront him. The sin does not have to be against you to confront him.

#4 – Cover offenses
a.       I Peter 4:8 does not say we hide sin. It has the idea of not being offended by everything a person does. We love in Christ and are not selfish and think of others before ourselves.
b.      “don’t confront unless good for the offender” – confrontation of sin is always good for the offender, even if the penalty of sin does not seem like it, the purpose is restoration of relationship with God, that makes confrontation good.

Forgiveness is a tough subject and sometimes misunderstood or misapplied. We sometimes forget to make a difference between a crime (breaking the law and a sin against a person) being committed against someone and an offense (may or may not be a sin) committed against someone whether intentional or not. There needs to be a distinction between these two things and how forgiveness should work in these two different situations.

I’m going to put together my own lesson and how I’d address forgiveness if I was leading this class.

Friday, August 3, 2012

IFB Churches - Be Warned

This week we’ve seen another story of another man, Jack Schaap, who, to put it mildly, abused his position of leadership. Whatever we’ve heard, we’ve only heard the tip of the iceberg. My guess is that this story is going to get a lot worse. You know what bothers me the most, other than I doubt this is the only victim? What bothers me most is that people in that church knew about his sins.

When I wrote, What’s Your Response to an Abscess? I warned that Tina’s story should be a wake-up call to church members and leaders in fundamentalism. This week is another warning and unfortunately, I don’t believe we’ve seen the end of it.

There is so much that I could write, and maybe I will in the future but this time, let me use Scripture as a warning to IFB churches, or any church or religious organization, who abuse.

Romans 2:1-24

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality. 12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16  on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. 17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21  you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Critique of Chuck Phelps' Forgiveness Lesson (Pg5)

I’m going to deal with the right side of the handout, “The Methodology of Forgiveness.” It’s broken down into two parts, “The Responsibility of the Offended” and “The Responsibility of the Offender.” The first thing I want you to notice is the disparity between the topics. The “offended” with is dealt with on most of the page but the “offender” gets FOUR lines. Again, I think we have the focus wrong. Why do we focus so much on the offended and so little time on the offender?

Offended Person
#1 – vertical forgiveness – why? Did the offended person sin? I guess one way is to ask God to forgive the person, just like Jesus did on the Cross for us but the offender would still have to accept that forgiveness and so the sin must still be dealt with.

#2 – did the offender sin? Chuck Phelps calls it a “true offense.”
            Not all offenses come from sin. Sometimes people feel they’ve been “sinned” against but they have not but it’s still something that needs to be resolved. Mistakes, misunderstanding, differences of opinion, or any other number of things can cause problems between people. If we weren’t prideful, selfish, self-centered, and sinful people, we’d be more understanding and have less problems but that’s not going to happen.
            If it is a sin, we should also ask, “was it a crime?” “Did he break the law?” And then we should deal with it accordingly.

#3 – “Confront those who offend you.” The beginning of Luke 17:3 states that “if a brother sins, confront him…” We seem to focus on the person who was offended doing the confrontation but that does not need to be the case. If I know someone has sinned against another person, I also have that responsibility to confront the sinner.
a.       – obedience not revenge – as long as we realize that consequences are not revengeful 
b.      – for the good of the offender –what?
c.       – designed to edify – what?
      I think I know what he’s saying but confronting sin is for the good of the body of Christ. Dealing with sin does not always seem good to the offender but if sin is dealt with, it’s good in the long run, even with consequences.

#4 – forgive ….”unconditionally”…  I may need to forgive unconditionally but that does not mean that the consequences of the offense are removed and I’m afraid that the removal of consequences is usually how this is interpreted.

#5 – Proverbs 15:1 has nothing to do with this statement

#6 – II Thess. 3:14-15 does not apply to this statement either.

#7 – What does forgiveness have to do with looking for real change from the offender?

The Offender

#1 – “own your offense” – good

#2 – “demonstrate your repentance” – “..might include…before a civil magistrate.”

– this is the only time law enforcement is mentioned and in such a strange way. If he broke the law, this should not be optional and the offended has this option as well.

#3 – don’t expect to be “best friends” immediately

If I was to believe this, I would think the offender has little responsibility in making things right and that the offender should wait to be confronted with his/her offense before he/she has to do anything.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Critique of Chuck Phelps' Forgiveness Lesson (Pg4)

Again, the first half of the lesson is going over what he’s gone through in the first three lessons. In #5, under Vertical Forgiveness, he states, “Instead of seeking vengeance, I am to UNCONDITIONALLY release the offense to God.” I would say that this is fine and good unless a crime has been committed, such as: theft, murder, rape, molestation, vandalism, etc. We can still release the offense to God but this still does not release the person from the justice of the law. Justice is NOT vengeance. It is a form of releasing the offense to God through the means of law enforcement whom God has put in place to deal with those things.

In #6, Chuck Phelps clarifies the “condition” of forgiveness by saying that the offender can’t receive forgiveness unless he asks for it from the person whom he has offended. I would say that this is correct and I would also say that this is when relationships can start being repaired.

He then goes on to talk about “forgiving and forgetting.” He does not spend much time with this and in this lesson does not appear to be equating the two but that you choose to “forget” even if it comes to your memory.

I dealt with the idea that forgiveness does NOT equal forgetting and you can read my post called FORGIVE = FORGET?

He is correct that forgiveness is an act of obedience and love and has nothing to do with feelings.

Friday, July 20, 2012

My Incredible Wife

I want to publicly say that “I LOVE MY WIFE!!!” My wife is a great woman. I don’t think she realizes how special of a person she is and as I’ve watched her over the past ten years, she has just become an incredible woman. I know she’s an inspiration to many but I want you to know that she’s an inspiration to me also. I love to see how God is using her to help others, just by being a friend. How her friends know they can call her for support and not judgment, for advice and wisdom, and sometimes just to chat because they need a friend and they know she’ll listen. I love her heart for people that are hurting and how she empathizes deep in her heart and soul when she receives a message (email, FB, etc.) from someone who is hurting. I know she wishes she could do more but she does her best to comfort and support the wounded heart the best she can.

I’m impressed with her ability to take care of her family. She handles the day-to-day operations of our family of feeding, clothing, laundry, cleaning, shopping, couponing, medical visits, paying the bills, discipline, crowd control, and basic all-around wisdom. I love how excited she gets when she’ll come home from the store and bought $50 worth of stuff for $15 or she saved 50% on the food bill and is still disappointed that she didn’t do better. She’s just awesome this way in making our finances stretch as far as possible.

I love how she tries to make me a better man and father. I appreciate her for her wisdom and insight. I’ll be honest, I don’t always like it and I don’t always agree with her but when she says something, I take it under serious consideration. I respect her, her wisdom and her viewpoint and I try not to take it for granted. I’m not perfect but by God’s grace, I pray I’m getting better.

The longer I’m with her the more I love her. We fit pretty well together. Of all the people I know, there is nobody else that I’d want to be married to.

I love you, Sweetheart!!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Critique of Chuck Phelps' Forgiveness Lesson - (Page 3c)

The “Why” of Forgiveness was addressed in handout 1 but it’s expanded even more here. In Matthew 6, Jesus never says that fellowship will be broken. This may happen but it’s because the sinner refuses to fellowship and holds on to an unforgiving spirit. You can’t have a good relationship and it’s hard to fellowship if you don’t forgive but God doesn’t cut off fellowship with us. He keeps working in our hearts to bring about forgiveness. Psalm 66:18 is not about powerful praying but about God not listening because we love our sin. Although God does say that we need to forgive, John 14:15 says that we’ll keep God’s commandments if we love Him. Although Chuck Phelps is correct in his statement, he could have used a better verse. Eph 4:32 says to forgive others because God has forgiven us. 

 Romans 12 talks about our relationship with one another and how a Christian should act towards one another no matter how that person treats you. Our natural tendency as a human is to treat others like they have treated us. In this passage, God is telling us to live differently and that God will take care of it. When God says, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” you know it’s in God’s hands. This does not mean to overlook sin. Sin must be dealt with. If someone has committed a crime, God has placed people in authority who can deal with criminals. Seeking justice for a crime committed is NOT vengeance. Both forgiveness and justice can be accomplished together, they are not mutually exclusive.

And the final and probably the worst reason a person should “learn to forgive” is to “avoid the chastisement of God.” He uses Hebrews 12:6 that states that God disciplines his “sons.” What I think Chuck Phelps is saying is that if you don’t forgive, you are disobeying God, and if you disobey God, He will chastise you. So, if none of the other reasons for learning to forgive work, be afraid that you’ll get punished if you don’t forgive. I don’t believe that you need to be afraid of God’s discipline. It may not be comfortable or nice but it’s designed to teach and mold us into His image, unlike some of our chastisement of our children, which is usually to make them pay for doing something wrong and to teach them not to disobey us.

Critique of Chuck Phelps' Forgiveness Lesson - (Page 3b)

Here’s my biggest issues with this so far. This lesson is equating forgiveness with restoration of relationship and the two do not necessary go hand in hand. Forgiveness is a step toward restoration of relationship and that is the ultimate goal but there can be forgiveness without restoration.

For example, Christ died for the sin of the world. He paid the penalty for all sin and has offered forgiveness to the world but each individual must accept that gift of forgiveness and salvation to have that relationship restored. Jesus on the Cross said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” He forgave them without a “contract” or a “meeting” or any “fellowship” at that time.

You may offer and in your heart have forgiven the person who has sinned against you but the issue has not been dealt with. And maybe you want to meet and restore the relationship but there are many reasons this may not happen. First, the person who “offended” may not believe they did anything wrong. Second, the person who “offended” may not have sinned against the person and therefore has nothing to ask forgiveness for. Third, the person is not reachable by either distance, death, or something else. Fourth, the person who did sin refuses to confess sin. Fifth, fill in your reason here.

Critique of Chuck Phelps' Forgiveness Lesson - (Page 3a)

He does a review of the first two lessons. Always a good idea when teaching. Then Chuck Phelps is going to talk about the How and then the Why of forgiveness just like he did in lesson one but he’s going to come at it from a different angle.

He divides the How into Vertical Forgiveness (VF) and Horizontal Forgiveness(HF). I’m not sure “how” is the best term. It’s more an explanation about Vertical and Horizontal Forgiveness.

I wish he’d be more clear in his statements. Sometimes I wonder which statements are addressing the offender or the offended. In VF he states seven things. I can understand where he’s coming from on most of them but there are a couple I’m not sure about.
            -- “VF is unconditional.” It’s only true because God already paid the price for our sin and God promises forgiveness. This does not remove the natural consequences of sin.
            -- “VF does not require that the offender show repentance.” – This one puzzles me but my forgiveness is conditional on God’s actions on the Cross, not my behavior.
-- “VF is between the offended party and God.” – Why would the offended person need forgiveness? I believe this would apply to the offender.
-- “VF is a contract between God.” I’m not sure what this “contract” is about. My forgiveness is based on God’s work on the Cross and His promise that He’ll forgive me of my sins.

Chuck Phelps states that Horizontal Forgiveness (HF) is conditional (on what, I’m not sure). Maybe it’s conditional because the offender must repent and that it necessitates a “meeting” and this forgiveness becomes a “contract” (whatever that is) between the offended and offender. Supposedly this forgiveness “heals the alienation” but does not always require “fellowship” afterwards.

Matthew 23: 23-36

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
    “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
    “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
    “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
(Matthew 23:23-36 ESV)