I’ve read for years that 80% of the churches in America are numerically plateaued or declining. This kind of experience may be one reason for it.
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This sermon is part of our Advent sermon series “Simply Christmas”.
Hannah and I went shopping on Black Friday, and I think it’s the first time we ever have. We only bought one thing because we made an agreement with our in-laws that all of us are only going to buy gifts for children in the family.
Then Hannah and I decided to buy just one gift for each other. So, we bought our one gift for each other on Friday and then sat down in front of the Apple Store at Polaris mall…
Thank you for 274 hits on my blog yesterday, the highest so far. I appreciate it.
[Read Matthew 18v21-35]
Not forgiving someone is like playing Pong.
The conflict goes back and forth, back and forth, even if only in your own mind. Someone hurt you, perhaps horrendously, and you feel like you can’t leave it in the past. You still feel sick when you hear the person’s name. You still feel ill will toward the person even if you don’t want to.
Now that we’ve entered the holiday season, maybe it’s hard for you to be thankful because someone has hurt you badly. Maybe that person is in your family, and having to spend time with family during the holidays is very difficult.
You may think that you could never forgive. Maybe you’ve tried. Perhaps it will help to know what forgiveness really is and what it is not…
What Forgiveness is NOT:
- Forgiveness is not forgetting. In fact, your brain automatically remembers things that cause you pain. You may not be able to forget. You may not be able to spend time around the person any longer, especially if the person’s behavior does not change.
- Forgiveness is not condoning what the person did. What he or she did may be very wrong.
- Forgiveness is not trust. Forgiveness is instant; trust is rebuilt over time, if ever.
What Forgiveness IS:
- Forgiveness is ending the back and forth.
- Forgiveness is releasing the person from your judgment and leaving her or him in God’s hands- “God is willing to forgive me, so I will forgive others”.
- Forgiveness is freeing yourself as much as it is freeing the person who hurt you. Forgiveness is being free to move on.
- Forgiveness is being able to pray for the person’s healing and wellbeing.
(If you think this might be helpful to others, please tell them about it or email them a link.)
These come from the Church Marketing Lab.
Click here for the Church Marketing Lab. Then scroll through the artwork for all kinds of sermon series ideas for Advent and throughout the year.
Phil Cooke is a writer, filmmaker, and media consultant. Click here for a phenomenal short interview with him that every pastor should read. Here are some highlights from the interview…
“I encourage pastors to deliver messages that are so provocative (and maybe even controversial) that it starts people talking.”
“Worry less about preaching in jeans with your shirttails out, and more about changing people’s lives.”
“Pastors didn’t understand how to connect with the congregation, there were ‘hymns versus worship music’ wars, and for most, ‘quality’ wasn’t even on the radar.”
If this fails, offer him or her a Testamint breath mint while wearing your favorite Christian t-shirt while carrying your NIV camouflage Bible while simultaneously reading I Kissed Dating Goodbye, listening to DC Talk, and then driving off in your car with a “Honk if your love Jesus” bumper sticker next to a fish symbol.