Saturday, December 31, 2016

January 1, 2017

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:18-19

God's Word from the Prophet Isaiah for the New Year is this, "God wants to do a new thing!"

Would you like something new from God in 2017? You cannot get something new from God if you are dwelling in the past.

For 2017 I urge you to let go of your grudge(s) and take hold of God's grace! 

"How does that happen?" you ask.

Here's a three step plan to let go of your past so you can embrace your future:

1) Forgive
2) Factor
3) Focus


Forgiving is the key to letting go of your past. Forgiveness is a decision between two options. You can choose to offer grace (forgiveness) or you can hold a grudge.

Choosing to forgive sets the offender free but also releases you to begin healing. Choosing to hold a grudge will hold you captive to bitterness and pain.

Forgiveness does not mean you have to forget the offense nor does it mean you must put yourself back into a place to be hurt again. It does mean that every time you think of the offense you choose to continue forgiving that offense. That's what it means to be a grace-giver! Every time you are tempted to hold a grudge you instead choose to extend grace.

I believe that is precisely what Jesus meant when He told the disciples to forgive "70 times 7". He didn't mean they had to forgive 490 separate times, what He was teaching them was to forgive once and choose to offer grace at each remembrance of that person or his offense.

Forgiveness is necessary for other reasons:

  • You will need to be forgiven
  • You have been forgive before
  • You need God's forgiveness and if you don't forgive you aren't able to receive forgiveness
  • God has more good things He wants to give you and blessings to offer grace-givers.
Are giving grace or are you holding grudges?


Grace-givers are also learners. Every time they remember the offense or the offender they factor their involvement in the situation. They ask, "What should I learn about myself in this instance?" "How did I contribute to the painful outcome?" "What should I have done differently?" "What will I do differently if I am in a similar situation again?" "How does this help me understand the offender better?" "What does God want to teach me from this?" "Have I forgiven myself for the poor decisions I made?"

When Paul wrote to the Romans, "All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes." Romans 8:28

Can I understand how things are working together for good if I am not in touch with was was bad, what was wrong and how does God want to use this to help me grow?

If you don't learn from your mistakes or the mistakes of others you are doomed to repeat those mistakes and be stuck in bad places. Pain is a terrible thing to waste. Process your pain so you can turn it to gain.

Are you learning from your pain?


Once you have offered forgiveness and processed your pain you are free to focus on the future God has in mind for you!

You can't move forward if your focus is fixed on your past anymore than you can drive your car safely forward while you are staring at your rear-view mirror!

Isaiah promises that God wants to do a new thing in your life! He wants to make a way through your wilderness! He wants to give you refreshing in the dry, desert-like periods of your life.

Expect God to do a fresh new work in your heart and in your spirit! And expect Him to deposit His grace in the place where you have been gracious to others! 

Are you focused on the new things God has in store for you in 2017 or are you mired in pain and heartache of a past event?

For a joyous 2017, FOCUS - FACTOR - FOCUS!

Friday, December 30, 2016

December 31, 2016

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:18-19

If you want to make the New Year new you have today to make that happen!

"But Brad, how can I move on past my past in one day when I have been stuck here for years?" you may be thinking.

How to do that is the subject of the articles I have been posting all week. Here are the steps I have shared thus far, including today's fourth step.

1. Make the decision to let it go.

2. Express your pain — and your responsibility.

3. Stop being the victim and blaming others.

4. Focus on the present — the here and now — and joy.

5. Forgive them — and yourself.
We may not have to forget another person’s bad behaviors, but virtually everybody deserves our forgiveness. Sometimes we get stuck in our pain and our stubbornness, we can’t even imagine forgiveness. But forgiveness isn’t saying, “I agree with what you did.” Instead, it’s saying, “I don’t agree with what you did, but I forgive you anyway.”
Forgiveness isn’t a sign of weakness. Instead, it’s simply saying, “I need forgiveness. God forgave me . Other people have forgiven me. I must forgive others. You did something that hurt me. But I want to move forward in my life and welcome joy back into it. I can’t do that fully until I let this go.”
Forgiveness is a way of tangibly letting something go. It’s also a way of empathizing with the other person, and trying to see things from their point of view. Make an attempt to understand them. Remember they are fallible as you are. You sometimes you hurt others, most unintentionally but sometimes on purpose. As you humanize the other person it gives you some perspective.
And forgiving yourself may be an important part of this step as well, as sometimes we may end up blaming ourselves for the situation or hurt. While we indeed may have had some part to play in the hurt (see step 2), there’s no reason you need to keep beating yourself up over it. If you can’t forgive yourself, how will you be able to live in future peace and happiness? Learn from your failures and live better yourself!
I know this stuff is hard, that it’s incredibly hard to let go of one’s pain. If we’ve held onto it for a long time, it feels like an old friend. Justified. It would be sacrilegious to let it go.
But nobody’s life should be defined by their pain. It’s not healthy, it adds to our stress, it hurts our ability to focus, study and work, and it impacts every other relationship we have (even the ones not directly affected by the hurt). Every day you choose to hold on to the pain is another day everybody around you has to live with that decision. And feel its consequences.
So do everybody — and yourself — a big favor: Let go of the pain. Do something different today and welcome happiness back into your life. Let the New Year be new!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Make The New Year New

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:18-19

If you want to make the New Year new you have today and tomorrow to make that happen!

"But Brad, how can I move on past my past in two days when I have been stuck here for two years?" you may be thinking.

How to do that is the subject of the articles I have been posting all week. Here are the steps I have shared thus far, including today's fourth step.

1. Make the decision to let it go.

2. Express your pain — and your responsibility.

3. Stop being the victim and blaming others.

4. Focus on the present — the here and now — and joy.
Now it’s time to let go. Let go of the past, and stop reliving it. Stop telling yourself that story where the protagonist — you — is forever the victim of this other person’s horrible actions. You can’t undo the past, all you can do is to make today the best day of your life.
When you focus on the here and now, you have less time to think about the past. When the past memories creep into your consciousness (as they are bound to do from time to time), acknowledge them for a moment. And then bring yourself gently back into the present moment. Some people find it easier to do this with a conscious cue, such as saying to yourself, “It’s alright. That was the past, and now I’m focused on my own happiness and doing _______________.”
Remember, if we crowd our brains, our hearts — and our lives — with hurt feelings, there’s little room for anything positive. It’s a choice you’re making to continue to feel the hurt, rather than welcoming God's joy into your life.

If you were to get into your car and head onto I-95 at expressway speeds would you want to be looking out your windshield or staring at your rear-view mirror?

Of course you would be staring intently through your windshield with only an occasional glance at the rear-view mirror. So, if you wouldn't drive your car that way why would you live your life looking forward rather than behind?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

December 29, 2016

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am going a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:18-19

With the rapidly approaching New Year's Day it is important to be sure you are able to make the New Year new. You cannot move into the future while you are stuck in the pass.

Your past is not past until you leave it behind.

So, how does that happen?

How do I get past my past and leave it in the past?

This week I am sharing five steps for leaving the past in the past and moving into a preferable future! Today I will share the third of those five steps:

1. Make the decision to let it go.

2. Express your pain - and your responsibility

3. Stop being the victim and blaming others.

The easiest thing in the world to do is blame others. That's how people who see themselves as victims respond to life.
To be perfectly honest, being the victim feels good — it’s like being on the winning team of you against the world. But guess what? The world largely doesn’t care, so you need to get over yourself. Yes, you’re special. Yes, your feelings matter. But don’t confuse with “your feelings matter” to “your feelings should override all else, and nothing else matters.” Your feelings are just one part of this large thing we call life, which is all interwoven and complex. And messy.
At any given moment in your life, you have that choice — to continue to feel bad about another person’s actions, or to start feeling good. You alone are responsible for your own happiness and when you choose to take that responsibility you begin feeling empowered.

When you are content to play the victim card that you believe life dealt you then you are choosing to play a losing hand. You are also giving power to those who you think dealt you the card and in so doing giving them control over your life. Why put that sort of power in the hands of someone else? Why would you let the person who hurt you in the past have such power, right here, right now? It the feeling of power you get from playing the victim worth the sense of powerlessness that comes with it?

Isaiah's counsel is solid, "Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past." More than likely the person or persons who caused you this pain have moved on with their lives, why should you remain mired in the past?

New Year's Day is a great time to try something new! Why not move out of the past and into the present so God can provide you a better future?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

5 Steps to Letting Go of Past Pain

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:18-19

We’ve all been hurt. You've been hurt, I've been hurt, you've hurt others and so have I.  You can’t find an adult — or teen — alive today who hasn’t experienced some kind of emotional pain.
It hurts. We know that. We get that. Because it hurts it's hard to forget the pain.
But what you do with that pain is probably more important than the hurt itself. You might prefer to hold a grudge or try to get even or hope something bad happens to them. 

However, as a believer and Christ-follower you are called to the future not the past. As Isaiah reminds you, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!
So, in short, how do you let go of past hurts and move on? 
Blaming others for our hurt is our default setting. Somebody did something wrong, or they wronged us in some way that mattered to us. We want them to apologize. We want them to feel sorry for what they did to us. We want them to acknowledge what they did was wrong. 
But blaming someone else for our hurt can backfire, as Holly Brown notes:

"The problem with blaming others is that it can often leave you powerless. For example, you confront the person (your boss, your spouse, your parent, your child), and they say, “No, I didn’t,” or worse, “So what if I did?”, then you’re left with all this anger and hurt and no resolution."

"All your feelings are legitimate. It’s important to feel them fully, and then move on. Nursing your grievances indefinitely is a bad habit, because (as the title goes) it hurts you more than it hurts them." 

People who hold on to these past hurts often relive the pain over and over in their minds. Sometimes a person can even get “stuck” in this pain, in this hurt, in this blame."

In this post I want to share the second of five steps to letting go of past pain and moving on:

1. Make the decision to let it go.

2. Express your pain — and your responsibility.

There are three parts of this process. First, don't deny the pain. It is real and it must be dealt with. 

Second, you declare the pain and how the hurt made you feel, whether it’s directly to the other person, or through just getting it out of your system (like venting to a friend, or writing in a journal, or writing a letter you never send to the other person). 

Third, define the pain. Get it all out of your system at once. Doing so will also help you understand what — specifically — your hurt is about.
The world is complicated and relationships are complicated and emotions are, too. While you may not have had the same amount of responsibility for the pain you experienced, there may have been a part of the hurt that you are also partially responsible for. What could you have done differently? Will you do it differently next time? Will you be an active participant in your own life, or simply a hopeless victim? Will you let your pain become your identity or will you trust God to help you turn your pain into gain? 

According to Isaiah, the path to your spiritual progress will run through your past pain.

December 27, 2016

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:18-19

As you prepare to begin 2017 would you rather be looking at life through the windshield or through the rear view mirror?

What if God has something new and better He might want to give you this coming year?

What if you aren't able to realize the good thing He wants to do or you aren't able to receive it because you are hung up in the past?

How much of God's grace have you already missed because you are nursing a grudge?

Can the New Year really be new if you are holding onto and living in the past?

Isaiah wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, 
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past."

"How do I do that?" you ask.

Over the next few days I want to offer five keys to putting your past in the past.

First, you decide to let it go.

Sounds easy enough doesn't it?

Things don’t disappear on their own. You need to make the commitment to “let it go.” If you don’t make this conscious choice up-front, you could end up self-sabotaging any effort to move on from this past hurt.
Making the decision to let it go also means accepting you have a choice to let it go. To stop reliving the past pain, to stop going over the details of the story in your head every time you think of the other person.
Human nature is to nurse our pain and rehearse the hurt and curse the culprit who hurt us. But God says you can choose not to do that. His Word says He has chosen to forgive you and He can give you grace to forgive others.
Once, when His disciples asked Jesus how many times they were to forgive those who hurt them He replied, "Seventy times seven" He wasn't giving them a number He was telling them to decide once to forgive every time .

Forgiving and giving grace to one who hurts you is a decision, a choice. But so is holding a grudge. If you are able to choose one you are able to choose either. But giving grace frees you to receive the new thing God has for you!

Decide to give grace and not hold a grudge as we enter the New Year.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

December 26, 2016

"But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people." John 2:10

Over the past several days I have been focusing on the announcement made by the angels to the shepherds that holy night. What was this "good news of great joy"? Why don't we see more joy in the church among believers?

We have recognized there should be joy in the presence of God and joy in the pardon from God and because of the peace of God though Christ. Also, you can find joy in the power of God. Christmas was impossible but impossible things happened so Jesus could be born!

How about another reason for joy?

You can take joy in the promises of God! In the events leading up to and culminating in the birth of Jesus there were 360 prophecies fulfilled. That means that 360 things that God predicted in advance were going to happen happened! And they happened exactly as they were foretold!

That incredible fact proves that God had His fingerprints all over the events that led up to the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! And the accuracy of these predictions should give us joy in knowing that the promises of God are true and reliable!

Whatever His Word promises He will do!

There is no one else you know and love who could keep his promises 100% of the time! Every person over promises and under delivers. BUT NOT GOD!

If you are facing a difficult circumstance right now and you desperately need Him to be Who His Word says He is - rejoice! Jesus is everything He promises He is and He can do and possibly has already done what ever He says. What He can do is posted in His Word. Read it, memorize it and claim it!

Find joy in praising Him that He will do what He promises to do! 

Christmas proves it!

December 25, 2016

"But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people." Luke 2:10

"What was it about Christmas that brought joy?" I came up with a number of answers that worked for me. We will see if they matter to you.

The first source of joy in the Christmas story is God's Presence!

God's greatest present was His presence! Jesus was "the Word that became flesh" to dwell among us! Jesus was "Immanuel", " God with us!

For centuries only the High Priest could enter presence of God and only on special occasions. But now, because of Jesus, God would realize His greatest desire and your deepest need could be met! He could dwell in you and you can live in His presence! Since that is exactly what you were created for, that brings joy!

Will you know the joy of His presence today? Will you enter in? Will you welcome Him into your spirit? Will you fellowship with Him by faith? Will you walk with Him in obedience? Will you commune with Him through prayer? Will you encounter Him in the Word? Will you partner with Him in service?

You will never know joy apart from the presence of God. And the good news of great joy is that Jesus has come to dwell in you!

Christmas brings great joy. There is the joy of His Presence. Jesus came to be "Immanuel", "God with us". Because of Christmas you can live in the presence of God! Take joy in His presence!

Also, there is joy in His pardon. Jesus redeemed us by dying to pay the penalty for your sins. "The wages of sin is death", says the Scriptures. So, the sinless Lamb of God came to take away your sins and deliver you from the guilty and shame of sin! What joy there is in being pardoned!

This morning I want to remind you of another source of joy from the Christmas story. In addition to the joy of His presence and the joy from His pardon, there is the joy of His peace!

Peace has several aspects but essentially, peace comes from being reconciled with God. That reconciliation is possible once you have been pardoned from sin. When the barrier of sin is removed and you connect with the Father through the grace of Jesus, the net result is peace!

Jesus would be the Prince of Peace because He would come to reconcile His people to God.

He would be known as the Prince of Peace because he can give a rest from the burden of your sin and the nagging bondage of living in sin. God is given the central place in your life and when He filled the God-shaped void in your life, you slowly grew in your knowledge and understanding of His peace.

There is great joy in having that peace!

And, find joy in the fact Jesus not only provided for your peace - HE IS YOUR PEACE! That is a source of great joy!

Joyous Christmas to you!

Here is another reason why the good news of Christmas brings reason for joy.

Christmas brings the joy of His presence, and the joy of His pardon, and the joy of His peace. Anyone of those is reason enough alone - but ALL of them are available to you through Christ!

Want more?

Find joy in His power!

It was the power of God that caused an elderly couple to conceive and give birth to John the Baptist, the greatest prophet ever! From their weakness came the strength of God! From their impotence sprang a miracle! His power brought Zachariah and Elizabeth great joy!


Because "nothing is impossible with God"! That is His power!

Through the power of God a virgin gave birth to the Son of God without ever knowing a man! It is impossible, but it happened! Because "nothing is impossible with God"! He has the power to accomplish everything He wishes to accomplish. And he can do it through weak human beings! Mary found exceeding joy through the power of God at work in her!

Christmas demonstrates the amazing power of God! Nothing is impossible because of His great power! And that power resides in you when you walk in Christ and His Spirit!

Perhaps you are facing some difficult challenges as you celebrate Christmas 2016. Find joy in the power of God! Take joy in the knowledge that "nothing is impossible for God"!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

December 24, 2016

"But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12

An angel broke through the night sky in the fields near Bethlehem and announced joyous news!

This amazing night was the beginning of joy because joy has a name and it's Jesus and He was born in a manger in that Bethlehem stable. And not only was joy now possible but great joy is within your reach!

Joy began with a birth. There are few experiences in life that bring as much joy as the birth of a baby! But this birth was like one never seen before or since that glorious night because that baby boy was like no other baby ever born! Joy has a name and it is Jesus!

Do you have joy this morning?

A stable isn't a place you would normally bring a child into the world, let alone the Son of God! How could that be considered a joyous birth?

It's important to understand the nature of this joy the angels foretold.

Joy is what happens when Jesus is your Lord!

But contrary to what one of my favorite Christmas carols declares, Jesus was not "Lord at His birth". Jesus did not become Lord when they put on the swaddling cloths He became Lord when He threw off the grave cloths!

Sure, His Lordship began in a crib in a stable but it also required a cross and then a crypt. He was born to be the Lord but He had to die a brutal death on the cross and be raised from the dead to become Lord over sin and death.

And, for you to have Him become your Lord and for you to know His joy it requires a crib, a cross and a crypt for you!

The crib experience happens when you confess your sins, repent of your sinfulness and ask Jesus to be born into your heart by faith!

Have you experienced the new birth?

The crib experience must lead to a cross experience. Once God's will becomes active in your life your will must die to His will. That is the cross experience, dying to self and to your selfish nature.

When you die to your sinful self His Spirit can fill you with His Spirit - the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead!

How will you know that you have had a crib experience and a cross experience and a crypt experience? You will know because you will have His joy operating in your life!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Save The World on Christmas Eve

"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. The Shepherds and the Angels And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told." Luke 2:1-20

Here is your Christmas Eve eve assignment. I want you to take a couple of minutes and come up with a plan to save the world from its moral degradation. Your plan must provide a way to satisfy the penalty for all the sins of the world. Your plan must have a universal means of restoring fellowship with God. When this plan is appropriated by an sinful individual, it must be about to instantly bring life to their spirit and transform the way they think about God, their self and others. This salvation scheme of yours must assure people of eternal life and remove the guilt and shame of their sinful past. Finally, this plan must provide an inner moral strength that will allow those who claim it to resist the power of sin.

Okay, time is up! What is your plan?

That's what I thought. I don't have one either.

Thankfully, the "good news of great joy" that is Christmas unfolded God's remarkable plan!

I would have never thought of it. Neither would you!

In fact, amazing as it it, God's plan is a strange way to save the world.

Who would give the best they have to save the worst they have - at their worst?

Who would allow a holy and innocent person to assume the penalty, guilt, sin, shame and sickness of every other degenerate person is the world?

Who would put the only hope of redemption for the world in the hands of two teen-aged peasants?

Who would reduce the most powerful Child in the universe to a helpless infant? What all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise sovereign would dare to make himself that vulnerable?

Who would trust the proclamation of this incredible message into the hands of eleven weak, timid, uneducated, and unproven men?

Who, having absolute power, would choose to save the world through weakness rather than by wielding his power?

What a strange way to save the world! Who would come up with a plan like this?
I wouldn't!

Neither would you!

God did! Only He could! Only He is holy enough, wise enough, powerful enough, committed enough, and loving enough to conceive and execute such a strange AND wonderful plan!

I am SO thankful He did! This strange plan has transformed my life!