Friday, August 14, 2020

Forgiving Others - Three Stages



What is forgiveness? Lewis Smedes, in his paradigm-changing book Forgive and Forget, stages the process of forgiveness this way.

1) You surrender the right to get even with the person who wronged you.

You will no longer engage in ways of making them pay for how they wounded you.

You give whatever justice should be exacted over to God.

You let it go.

2) You reinterpret the person who wronged you in a larger format.

You begin to see the person as God sees them (much like the forgiveness seen in "The Shack," where Mack sees people as God sees them).

This help us avoid creating a "caricature" of the person who wounded us. "In the act of forgiving, we get a new picture of a needy, weak, complicated, fallible human being like ourselves."

We begin to see that we are "that kind of people" too, not in the details, but in the heart.

As you begin to view the person who hurt you this way, forgiveness is taking root in you.

Forgiveness will be securely planted in you when you experience stage three, as a matter of your heart.

3) You develop a gradual desire for the welfare of the person who wounded you.

At this stage you are like Jesus, who loved us even as we were his enemies and wounded him on the cross.


My two books are:

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Overcoming Fear of the Unknown


(Holland State Park, Michigan)

In life, most of what lies before us is unknown. 

Sometimes in details. Sometimes in entirety. 

For example, Linda and I went grocery shopping today. I bought breakfast cereal. I intend to have this cereal for breakfast, tomorrow morning. Probably, that will happen. But something, unknown to me, may disrupt my plans. 

It could be minor, such as discovering the milk has gone sour. In that case, I'll figure something out. 
It could be a major interruption. Some serious situation, involving myself, or a friend, could occur. 

More dramatically, I could come face to face with a life-altering event. In either case, the future contains a whole lot of unknown.

Everyone encounters the unknown. The essence of unknown-ness is: out of our control. This reminds me of a bad joke I once heard. "Did you hear of the person who learned that 90% of all accidents occur within twenty-five miles of home?"


"They moved."

They moved, to take control of the unknown. Unfortunately, that won't work.

So, what can we do, if anything? How can we live facing the unknown tomorrows? The only answer is: faith.

Look, if faith isn't reality-based, then there is, precisely, nothing available to us. A person might use alcohol or substances to mask the fear of the unknown. Maybe we can just keep very busy and preoccupied, so that the uncertain future does not occupy our thoughts. But these are only band-aids. They are like spray painting the rust spot on your car or, more dramatically, like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Our only hope is the reality of someone, or something, we can trust in. One way the Bible speaks of this is: keep your eyes fixed on the promise of the "unseen city."

In Hebrews 11:8 we read:

By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents. Isaac and Jacob did the same, living under the same promise. Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God.

Abraham did not have a map. No GPS, as we know it.

But, Abraham did have another kind of GPS. He had a God Positioning System. God was leading Abraham. Abraham, traveling without a map, had to discern the leading of God.

To do this, Abraham had to stay close to God. The closer to God, the more accurate the discernment. Discernment is a function of intimacy, of closeness, to God. Discernment is a vaccine that counteracts the fear of the unknown.

Abraham kept his eye on the "unseen city." This is where we are today. God's people, the Church, are being led to the unseen city. We do not know what tomorrow, or the days after every tomorrow, will bring. But we do know the One who is leading us. And our faith is based on a great promise.

This kind of faith is Psalm 23 stuff. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...

...I will fear no evil.

And why not?

Because You are with me.

How practical is this? Does this "work?" For people, such as myself, and perhaps you, it makes all the difference. It is the response to nihilism, exhibited, for me, in the four thousand pages of journal entries I have kept since 1970. Those pages are a record of a life trusting in Jesus, imperfectly, and testifying to the reality of His guidance, through the innumerable unknowns I (and Linda) have faced.

These days are filled with unknowns.

Except to God.

I invite you to TRUST HIM.

(I write more extensively about how to lead church through the unknown in Leading the Presence-Driven Church.)


 This will be a great evening! The link -

If you plan on joining the event, and have a question you would like to ask Craig and Mike about overcoming anxiety and trauma, please email it to me at:
Image may contain: Craig Miller and Michael Hutchings, text that says 'Overcoming Anxiety & Trauma 2-hour Live-stream Event August 16, 2020 7pm-9pm EST Craig Miller YOUTUBE.COM/C/REDEEMERMONROE FACEBOOK.COM/REDEEMERMONROE Mike Hutchings'
Andy Griffith, Norelle Lutke and 9 others

Following Jesus and Political Understanding


                                                          (St. Joseph, Michigan)

I had a recent encounter with a person, call them X.

X: "I am against socialism."

Me: "Can you explain socialism to me?"

X: "No."

Me: "Can you tell me what socialism is?"


Me: "Do you find it odd to be against something you know nothing about?"

Politically, America is deeply divided. As a follower of Jesus, how do I evaluate this? What do I do about this? How shall I think about this?

Here's my approach, 

1) I identify certain guiding principles; and 

2) I keep studying and learning. This means disengaging from social media arguments, and finding the best scholarship available that can help me, in the first place, understand the issues. I am uninterested in people who want to argue political issues without first putting a lot of work into understanding those issues. This may not be you, but it is me.


  • Change hearts first. When hearts are changed, systems transform.
  • Focus on issues, not political alignment.
  • I must understand before I evaluate. This takes time. I hesitate to jump on someone's political bandwagon. I rarely read political things people send me. My focus is on understanding. This takes time and, as I understand things, deep immersion in scholarly materials.  
  • Attack arguments, not people (no ad hominem abusiveness please). Evaluate arguments; formulate arguments. Love people.
  • Lift up Jesus, the one who changes hearts and minds, and from whom we Christians acquire our ethics.
  • Deepen your abiding life in Christ, as the first thing to do. All relevant, Spirit-led action comes from this ongoing attachment to Christ.
  • When the Holy Spirit identifies a socio-cultural need and burdens you with it, labor in the Spirit to achieve transformation. For example, my church family helped begin a soup kitchen that provides a meal every day of the year, serving 75-150 a night. For example, my church family has been involved in serving and raising support for ministries that rescue women out of sex trafficking. For example, Linda and I have, over the decades, provided free counseling for needy marriages and families (this is ongoing, to the very moment I am typing these words).
  • Study and grow in learning about the relationship between following Jesus and political involvement. This will assist you in transcending shallow, uninformed, hate-filled debating. Here are some resources that have taken me deeper.

SOME RESOURCES THAT HAVE HELPED ME (These are resources I have read and studied, and have helped me better understand the relationship between religion and politics. Surely there are more. What books have helped you?)

The more context, the more understanding. I was trained to approach my studies this way. For me, God calls me to contextual studies. 

So, currently (8/13/20), I am reading...

An Introduction to Political Philosophy, by Jonathan Wolff. I bought a used copy. It is so well-written. The first chapter on "The State of Nature" has hooked me. (Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau - if there was no state, no government, what would life be like?)

The Little Book of Economics: How the Economy Works In the Real World, by Greg Ip. Reading an excellent book like this adds to my ability to vote with rgeater clarity.

Other books that have informed my contextual understanding include

And, of course, keep saturating yourself in Scripture. Why pay attention to anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus but has no time for this? Or, has no time to pray? Or, is disconnected from the church?

Study the ethics of Jesus. Read the Gospels. Check this out - The Moral Vision of the New Testament: A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics. 

Do I agree with everything written in these books? 

Of course not. I don't even agree with everything you say. 

And, I have said things that, upon reflection, have caused me to disagree with myself.


Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Encounters with the Holy Spirit (a book I co-edited with Janice Trigg)

I''m now giving attention to Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart

Followed by... Technology and Spiritual Formation

Then, Linda and I will co-write our book on Relationships.



Holy Spirit Renewal Ministries (HSRM) is very excited to announce the upcoming online Renewal School of Ministry (RSOM), beginning in mid-September! We’re inviting you to participate in this unique opportunity to learn and grow spiritually and to become better equipped for the ministry God is calling you to. Take classes for credit toward a Certificate of Completion or audit classes if that meets your personal needs and interests.

The courses for Fall 2020 Terms 1 and 2 are listed below. Click on the course title for the course descriptions.


1.      Growing in the Ministry of Healing/Pastor Ross Lieuallen – 

Sundays, 8pm ET/5pm PT--(Sept 13 to October 18)

2.       How God Changes the Human Heart/Dr. John Piippo 

  Mondays, 8pm ET/5pm PT -- (Sept 14 to Oct 19)

3.       The Introduction to Theology #1/Pastor Ed Owens 

Tuesdays, 8pm ET/5pm PT--(Sept 15 to Oct 20)

4.       The Holy Spirit and the Spirit-filled Life/ Dr. Clayton Ford 

Thursdays, 8pm ET/5pmPT-- (Sept 17 to Oct 22)


1.       Soul Health/Pastor Pamela Wantz 

Sundays, 8pm ET/5pmPT-- (Nov 1 to Dec 6)

2.       Christian Worldview/Pastor Peter Conlin 

Mondays, 8pm ET/5pmPT-- (Nov 2 to Dec 7)

3.      The Introduction to Theology #2/Pastor Ed Owens 

Tuesdays, 8pm ET/5pmPT --(Nov 3 to Dec 8)

4.       Foundations of Biblical Worship/Pastor Norelle Lutke & Guest Worship Leaders Thursdays, 8pm ET/5pmPT --(Nov 5 to Dec 10)


Course Times/Dates: Classes will be a 1.5 hour Zoom meeting for six weeks on the same night each week starting at 8 pm ET / 7 pm CT / 6 pm MT / 5 pm PT. Currently there are classes scheduled for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights.

Requirements for Credit: To receive credit for a course students will need to:

•     Attend every live Zoom session

•     Participate in the class discussions

One absence is permitted as long as the student makes arrangements to watch the Zoom replay.

In addition to the 6-week courses, we will also provide online specialized focus seminars and conference experiences for credits toward certification.

Exceptions to Requirements for Credit: If a student wishes to enroll in a particular class but is unable to attend the live streaming sessions due to personal scheduling issues the student has these options:

Special Arrangements: If credit toward certification is desired course instructors may offer to make special arrangements for alternative approaches to receive credit for their class. Inquiry about this should be made to individual instructors .

Auditing: Follow the online enrollment process provided in the link and choose the auditing option provided. All Zoom sessions will be recorded and auditing students will be given access codes for replay on demand. (Auditing results in no credit given toward Certificate of Completion.)

Cost:  The cost to participate in RSOM is so low it is astounding! You’ll be charged a fee of $10 per course, or a maximum of $25 for all courses taught per six-week term.  It is our desire to make these courses accessible to all.                 


1. Successfully complete six Foundation courses 2. Successfully complete three Inward Courses 3. Successfully complete three Upward Courses 4. Successfully complete three Outward Courses 5. Participate in any offered online HSRM events 6. Write a three to five-page paper describing how you will use your new knowledge and your certificate 7. Meet with members of HSRM for discussion and feedback about your paper.

If you are interested in signing up or having questions answered fill in the short form below and you will be contacted.