Author Archives: TJ's Man

About TJ's Man

Began working with the Sunset Avenue church of Christ in Madera, California on September 8, 2013.

Facing change, which “is the nursery of music, joy, life, and eternity”

Mark Twain was both wise and observant…and was “right on” when he said that “the only person who likes change is a wet baby.”

Harry Emerson Fosdick laid it out plainly for us to see and comprehend: “Christians are supposed not merely to endure change, nor even to profit by it, but to cause it.

We might also add: and embrace it!

Change is one of the most threatening things many of us face in life and yet we encounter it every day. The universe itself is changing. Scientists tell us that all ob­served systems are continually changing from order to disor­der, and that every transformation of energy is accompanied by a loss in the availability of energy for future use. In other words, our universe is running down.

Besides that, the world we live in is changing. Highly so­phisticated technical developments have radically altered our lifestyle, and now they threaten our very existence. Ideologi­cal developments have changed the balance of world power and threaten our freedom as a nation. Governments are toppled and new ones established overnight, and sometimes it seems as though revolutions are as common as eating and sleeping. Every day the news reports focus on some new changes occurring in our world.

People change. One day we may be in a good mood, the next day in an ugly mood. And it is disconcerting if we never know what to expect from our wives, our husbands, our parents, or our bosses. Nice people sometimes get irritable and touchy. Fortunately, grouchy people sometimes get nicer.

But we all change. That is the nature of creature hood, and that is the nature of life. We find it unpleasant and intimidating at times. We would rather keep things the way they always were because the old and the familiar are more secure and comfortable, like an old shoe. But shoes wear out and need to be replaced, as does most everything else in life. So we struggle to adjust to change.

We grow and we strive to better ourselves, and that is change. Sometimes our sense of well‑being collapses around us; we lose our health, our loved ones, our money, or our material possessions, and that is change. Our bodies begin to wear out; we can no longer do the things we used to do, and that is change. It is all unsettling and unnerving, but it is inevitable. What can we do about it? Is there anything unchanging that we can hold on to in a world where everything is so tenuous and transitory?

We live in a time of unprecedented discoveries, many of which tend to make life longer and living more comfortable and enjoyable. But with change and progress the inexorable law of change and decay also operates. Strange that so few in this world prepare for the inevitable. [2]

The past, present, and potential difficulties of the future find their ‘rest’ when we realize that if we are to better the future we must disturb the present. [3]


[1] John Donne (1572–1631)

[2] L. Nelson Bell.  Christianity Today, Vol. 1, reprinted Vol. 40, no. 10.

[3] Catherine Booth in The Life of Catherine Booth (Vol. 2); Christianity Today, Vol. 40, no. 6.

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Posted by on February 26, 2018 in Encouragement


Marriage Realities School Never Taught You

151459597_640Creating a healthy, happy marriage takes hard work. It doesn’t just happen on its own.  Numerous spouses are surprised by the amount of work it takes to keep a marriage on course. Some believe that if you really love someone, the relationship shouldn’t be work, it should just flow easily. That sounds good, but in reality all meaningful relationships require an on-going investment of time, effort, energy, and commitment.

You don’t get to coast for very long. It seems that when things are going well, you should get to “take a break” from the relationship stuff for awhile. But if you’re not growing and evolving as individuals and as a couple, then your relationship is soon going to suffer. There’s no such thing as standing still and having everything stay the same. You’re either going forwards or you’re going backwards.

Saying “I do” is not the end—it’s the beginning. Some spouses feel that once they are married, they don’t have to extend as much effort into being romantic or nurturing the relationship. But a marital relationship isn’t the end of the road. It’s only the beginning of your opportunity to “grow your marriage” and create a rewarding relationship with your partner.

You’re not going to change your partner after you marry. No matter how many times this statement is written or verbalized, there are many individuals who still believe that their case will be different. Motivation to change is normally the highest before marriage when both partners want to please each other. After marriage, it’s easier to become comfortable and lose motivation to work on self-growth. Females are especially susceptible to this dynamic. Because they often are hooked by the potential that they see in their partner, they’re convinced that they can change him. This usually leads to a rude awakening after marriage.

You can’t give what you don’t already have. You have to be happy and at peace with yourself before you can create a happy, peaceful, harmonious marriage. Marriage won’t make you happy. Only you can do that. If you’re not happy with yourself and your life when you get married, nothing will change significantly afterwards.

Frequent emotional housekeeping is required for intimacy to thrive. It doesn’t take long for a marriage to develop serious problems when emotional debris from unresolved conflicts and issues piles up. This is why good communication is important. Couples who can’t talk about their differences and resolve conflict are at high risk for divorce. Feelings of passion, emotional intimacy, and heartfelt connection are all dependent on good communication.

The words you say are important, so pick them carefully. You can’t expect the spouse you called a “witch” or “fool” at 8:00 p.m. to be thrilled at the thought of sex with you at 9:00 p.m. By the words you use in your interactions with your partner, you impact how your spouse feels about you. Harsh, unkind words fuel anger, resentment, and bitterness. Kind words build rapport, respect, and caring. The words you use to yourself and others when talking about your spouse and your marriage are also important. When you devalue someone or something verbally, it affects your feelings and perceptions. Negativity spreads like a virus.

Just because you dislike your partner intensely at the moment doesn’t mean that you don’t love him or her. It’s normal to have mixed feelings toward your spouse at times.  Sometimes your inner two-year-old will appear in your reactions—you know, the one who could stomp his feet and scream, “I hate you, Mommy!” when he didn’t get his own way. There are times when spouses can’t stand each other and the feelings of closeness and connection lessen. But that doesn’t mean that the marriage is over or that the love is permanently gone.

Success in marriage, as in life, is an inside job. The breakthroughs happen when you take responsibility for your actions and attitudes and focus on what changes you can make to improve the relationship. It’s important to learn how to stay centered and balanced emotionally as much as possible, and that requires inner work on yourself. Learning to be more self-aware will help you better understand your part in creating the present situation.

There’s no end to growth. There’s always something else to experience and learn. You can always improve your relationship skills and grow more as a person. Unlike school where you eventually get a diploma if you meet the requirements, you never “graduate” from relationship school. Just when you think you’ve learned to keep your equilibrium in your relationship, something is sure to throw you off balance as if to test you. And in the areas where you resist growth, you’ll find yourself endlessly repeating unproductive patterns. Then you have a choice—to stay stuck or keep on growing.

by Nancy J. Wasson, Ph.D. Nancy J. Wasson, Ph.D, is co-author of Keep Your Marriage: What to Do When Your Spouse Says “I don’t love you anymore!” 

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Posted by on February 18, 2018 in Marriage


The path that leads to discouragement

We often find ourselves questioning those things which once were most certain in our life. We move from doubt to despair and eventually discouragement or disappointment.

The company of the discouraged is a very noble company. Not too long ago, the Hayden Planetarium in New York City issued an invitation to all those who were interested in applying to be a part of the crew on the first journey to another planet. Eighteen thousand people applied. They gave the applications to a panel of psychologists, who examined them thoroughly and came to the conclusion that in the vast majority of incidents, those who applied did so because they were discouraged with their lives here and hoped they could find a new life somewhere else.  [1]

“Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it. [2]

Even good marriages can be shaken to their foundations by circumstances that allow disappointment to breed. But the couples I’ve observed who have come through to the other side have done so first by God’s grace and second by holding firmly to each other. They have affirmed that the “we” they possess together is stronger than the “it” of the circumstances and disappointment. [3]

We don’t often see the larger picture since we are so close to the daily details.

The lone survivor of a shipwreck, marooned on a lonely island, managed to build a hut in which he placed all he had saved from the wreck.  He prayed for rescue and anxiously scanned the horizon every day to signal any passing ship.

One day on returning from a hunt for food he was horror-stricken to find his hut in flames.  All his possessions had gone up in smoke!

The next day a ship arrived.  “We saw your smoke signal yesterday,” the captain explained.

A Christian who was in very difficult circumstances fell on his knees in despair to cry to God, “When am I going to get out of all these trials?” But by a slip of the tongue he actually prayed, “What am I going to get out of all these trials?”  The change of that one word “when” to “what” was just what the Lord wanted and the hard-pressed Christian realized it. There is something more important than escaping from trials — it is learning what our Heavenly Father wants us to gain from them.   [4]

Corrie ten Boom used to say, “When the train goes through a tunnel and the world gets dark, do you jump out? Of course not. You sit still and trust the engineer to get you through.”

The apostle Paul said it best: “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”( Romans 5:3-5).

He laid it clearly on the line in its ultimate contrast later, in  Romans 8:18:  “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”


[1] Bruce Thielemann, “Dealing with Discouragement,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 48.

[2] Eliza Tabor, Instant Quotation Dictionary, p. 97.

[3] Elizabeth Cody Newenhuyse, Marriage Partnership, Vol. 7, no. 3.

[4] Pulpit Helps, November 1994, p. 8.

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Posted by on January 22, 2018 in Encouragement


Overcoming disappointment

One of the biggest causes of anger is disappointment over not getting what we expect. We expect life to work out in our favor–we want to be loved and appreciated and all that. But the truth is we’ll never get everything we want or expect. If we can accept that fact, it will do a lot to minimize our big disappointments. Disappointment is often the salt of life. [1]

John Calvin understood it when he expressed that we should “…let us not cease to do the utmost that we may incessantly go forward in the way of the Lord; and let us not despair because of the smallness of our accomplishments.”

Life often comes in horrible waves of despair and disappointment. But behind those realities is also the goal of discipline, with the purpose of character and holiness:

“And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”(Hebrews 12:5-11).

Robert Hamilton understood this eternal concept and expressed it well:

“I walked a mile with Pleasure, She chattered all the way,

And left me none the wiser, For all she had to say.

“I walked a mile with Sorrow, And not a word said she.

But oh, the things I learned from her, When Sorrow walked with me.”

[1] Theodore Parker, Instant Quotation Dictionary, p. 97.

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Posted by on January 18, 2018 in Encouragement


God stronger than the devil….we are on the winning side

In the midst of a storm, a little bird was clinging to the limb of a tree, seemingly calm and unafraid. As the wind tore at the limbs of the tree, the bird continued to look the storm in the face, as if to say, “Shake me off; I still have wings.”

Hope prevents us from clinging to what we have and frees us to move away from the safe place and enter unknown and fearful territory. The only fight which is lost is that which we give up. We must be careful for nothing, prayerful for everything, thankful for anything.

We must have plenty of courage. God is stronger than the devil. We are on the winning side.

Success is never final; failure is never fatal; it is courage that counts. The great need for anyone in authority is courage. Courage is almost a contradiction in terms:  it means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.

Courage is not limited to the battlefield or the Indianapolis 500 or bravely catching a thief in your house. The real tests of courage are much deeper and much quieter. They are the inner tests, like remaining faithful when nobody’s looking, like enduring pain when the room is empty, like standing alone when you’re misunderstood

A sailor was given liberty to go ashore when his ship docked at a large southwestern American city.  He visited a park famous for its trees and tropical flowers. As he walked across an open grassy sunlit area, he noticed bees flying all around him.  Suddenly, all the bees began to settle upon him. They were all over his clothes, his hands, and his face. Panic gripped him, and though he wanted to run in fear, he forced himself to stand stock still. There were hundreds, maybe thousands, of bees all over him.  He hardly dared to breathe.

“Look at that sailor,” he heard a woman’s voice say. After what seemed an eternity to the sailor, slowly the bees departed one by one until they were all gone.  His uniform was soaked with perspiration, but he had not been stung once.

Sometimes it is better to stand stock still in the midst of danger than to run in panic and fear and possibly to bring about the very end one wishes to avoid.

Scripture says,  “”Whoever flees from the terror will fall into a pit, whoever climbs out of the pit will be caught in a snare; for I will bring upon Moab the year of her punishment,” declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 48:44)


’Tis nothing for a man to hold up his head in a calm; but to maintain his post when all others have quitted their ground and there to stand upright when other men are beaten down is divine. Lucius Annaeus Seneca (c. 4 b.c.–a.d. 65)

A great deal of talent is lost in this world for want of a little courage. Sydney Smith (1771–1845)

A man without courage is a knife without an edge. Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790)

Do not ask the Lord for a life free from grief, instead ask for courage that endures. Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919)

Fear can keep a man out of danger; but courage can support him in it. Sir Thomas Fuller (1608–1661)

I am only one, but I am one. I can’t do everything, but I can do something. And what I can do, I ought to do. And what I ought to do, by the Grace of God, I shall do. Edward Everett Hale (1822–1909)

I do not ask to walk smooth paths nor bear an easy load, I pray for strength and fortitude to climb the rock-strewn road. Give me such courage I can scale the hardest peaks alone, and transform every stumbling block into a stepping-stone. Gail Brook Burket

It takes guts to leave the ruts. Robert Harold Schuller (1926– )

The test of courage comes when we are in the minority; the test of tolerance when we are in the majority. Ralph Washington Sockman (1889–1970)

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Posted by on January 15, 2018 in God


Great Themes of the Bible: Forgiving Others

(Luke 6:27-36 NIV)  “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, {28} bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. {29} If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. {30} Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. {31} Do to others as you would have them do to you. {32} “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. {33} And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. {34} And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. {35} But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. {36} Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Jesus assumed that anybody who lived for eternal values would get into trouble with the world’s crowd. Christians are the “salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:13-16), and sometimes the salt stings and the light exposes sin. Sinners show their hatred by avoiding us or rejecting us (Luke 6:22), insulting us (Luke 6:28), physically abusing us (Luke 6:29), and suing us (Luke 6:30). This is something we must expect (Phil. 1:29; 2 Tim. 3:12).

How should we treat our enemies? We must love them, do them good, and pray for them. Hatred only breeds more hatred, “for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:20, niv). This cannot be done in our own strength, but it can be done through the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5; Gal. 5:22-23).

We must not look at these admonitions as a series of rules to be obeyed. They describe an attitude of heart that expresses itself positively when others are negative, and generously when others are selfish, all to the glory of God. It is an inner disposition, not a legal duty. We must have wisdom to know when to turn the other cheek and when to claim our rights (John 18:22-23; Acts 16:35-40). Even Christian love must exercise discernment (Phil. 1:9-11).

Two principles stand out: we must treat others as we would want to be treated (Luke 6:31), which assumes we want the very best spiritually for ourselves; and we must imitate our Father in heaven and be merciful (Luke 6:36). The important thing is not that we are vindicated before our enemies but that we become more like God in our character (Luke 6:35). This is the greatest reward anyone can receive, far greater than riches, food, laughter, or popularity (Luke 6:24-26). Those things will one day vanish, but character will last for eternity. We must believe Matthew 6:33 and practice it in the power of the Spirit.

Luke 6:37-38 reminds us that we reap what we sow and in the amount that we sow. If we judge others, we will ourselves be judged. If we forgive, we shall be forgiven, but if we condemn, we shall be condemned (see Matt. 18:21-35). He was not talking about eternal judgment but the way we are treated in this life. If we live to give, God will see to it that we receive; but if we live only to get, God will see to it that we lose. This principle applies not only to our giving of money, but also to the giving of ourselves in ministry to others.

Do you pray for God to transform your heart, purify your behaviors, and make you more like Christ? I pray for these things in my life. And in order to answer our prayers, God has created the church and put us in it with the full awareness that it would be a world of offense — where we could deal with hurt feelings, slights, and wrongs from one another in the Spirit-empowered world of forgiveness.

The popular concept of unity is a fantasy land where disagreements never surface and contrary opinions are never stated with force. We expect disagreement. So instead of unity, we use the word community.

We say, “Let’s not pretend we never disagree. We’re dealing with the lives of [thousands of] people. The stakes are high. Let’s not have people hiding their concerns to protect a false notion of unity. Let’s face the disagreement and deal with it in a godly way.”

The mark of community — true biblical unity — is not the absence of conflict. It’s the presence of a reconciling spirit. I can have a rough-and-tumble leadership meeting with someone, but because we’re committed to community, we can still leave, slapping each other on the back, saying, “I’m glad we’re still brothers.” We know no one’s bailing out just because of a conflicting position. Community is bigger than that. [1]

It isn’t just one church’s leadership team but the total Body of Christ that needs to know, keep in consciousness, and strive to live the community principle. All of us get offended at times. All of us give offense. But we are the family of God and must learn to live together in true biblical unity, in authentic regard for one another, in community.

We will need to help one another to remember our commitment to oneness in Christ. Community is too valuable in the church to let careless words on a bad night rupture a relationship. And the same is true for our families and friendships, for classroom and workplace. This means that we have to learn to take responsibility for our actions and to forgive one another. If the church can’t model forgiveness, who can?

One philosopher compared the human race to a bunch of porcupines huddling together on a cold winter’s night. The colder it gets, the more we huddle together for warmth. But the closer we get to one another, the more we prick, stab, and hurt one another with our sharp quills. Then, in the lonely nights of life’s winter, we eventually begin to draft apart and wander out on our own. There we freeze to death in our loneliness.

Those Challenging Texts

The Word of God calls the church to an option the world cannot receive. Christ challenges us to forgive one another for the stings and punctures we inflict on one another. Then we can stay together and share the warmth of God’s presence.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told the multitude: You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? (Matt. 5:43-46).

To reinforce the same theme, he came back to the matter of how people should treat one another with respect and forgiveness. Still in that same sermon, he told his disciples to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” Matt. 6:12). At the end of the model for our prayers that includes this petition about forgiven people practicing forgiveness, he added, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matt. 6:14-15).

One day Peter asked Jesus about this matter of forgiving others and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?” Trying to be like his Master, Peter doubled the teaching of certain rabbis to the effect that three times was the limit to forgiveness — then added one more for good measure. “Up to seven times?” he offered. He must have been shocked by Jesus’ reply: “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matt. 18:21-22). Then he gave one of his memorable parables.

Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents [footnote: millions of dollars] was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

The servant fell on his knees before him. “Be patient with me,” he begged, “and I will pay back everything.” The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii [footnote: a few dollars]. He grabbed him and began to choke him. “Pay back what you owe me!” he demanded.

His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, “Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.”

But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.

Then the master called the servant in. “You wicked servant,” he said, “I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart (Matt. 18:23-35).

Finally among these challenging texts, read the words of the Apostle to the Gentiles: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).

What These Verses Mean

To understand the meaning of these texts, it is probably necessary to say first what they don’t mean. They certainly don’t mean that evil should be minimized or that both it and its aftermath are less than terribly, terribly painful. Child molestation, physical abuse, or verbal-emotional assault leaves scars that have to be dealt with in an adult’s life. Addiction to alcohol, sex, drugs, gambling, and the like are behaviors that can be treated under a disease model; they are also sins that devastate not only their perpetrators but innocent people as well.

These texts don’t mean that the victims of evil need to understand or justify why someone acted as he or she did. They don’t mean you should not grieve, be angry, or feel betrayed by your victimizer. They don’t mean you should just stuff down what has happened, try to forget about it, and wait for time to heal your wounds. And they certainly don’t mean you should feel guilty about the offense you have taken about an evil that has been done to you. A glib “I’m over it!” or a quick “You’re forgiven!” is sometimes both a lie and an affront to the process that is true forgiveness.

Yes, forgiveness is a process — “a journey of many steps,” as one put it.  These biblical texts do mean at least the following:

First, the seriousness of what has happened must be named, accepted for its true nature as an offense against holiness, and brought to God for help in confronting. No more denial. No sweeping it under the rug. No pretending it didn’t happen. Just honesty in bringing it into the light of God’s healing power. Write down in journal or letter form what happened; writing seems to be therapeutic to many who have undergone severe trials. Find a trusted counselor or mature Christian friend with whom to share your story in confidence.

Second, grieve the things you have lost because of what has happened on account of someone’s sin against you. Innocence. Trust. Family. Money. Respect. Self-respect. Name and lament what has been stolen from you by someone’s prejudice, lie, or unjust treatment. Weep over it; tears are even more therapeutic than writing. But stop short of throwing a pity party for yourself. That’s not helpful and only delays healing.

Third, remember that you are a forgiven person. God was once offended by your trespasses against him, and he grieved both your behaviors and the condition of your heart that permitted you to persist in them for a time. A man was called to his employer’s office. She played surveillance tapes to him that showed he had put money from the cash drawer into his pocket. The least he could expect was a blistering dismissal and knew it was possible that the police were on the way. She asked him to explain what they had just witnessed on a TV screen. “I stole from you,” he mumbled as he looked down at the floor. She told him she was not going to press charges and then asked, “If I take you back, can I trust you?” The shocked-and-conscience-stricken man assured her that he could be trusted but said, “There’s no reason you should give me a second chance. Why would you?” “You’re the second person who has messed up and then received pardon in this company,” she said. “I was the first, and I’m showing you mercy because it made all the difference in my life.”

Fourth, decide to forgive the person or persons who have hurt you. Forgiving another is ultimately a unilateral action. You don’t forgive because the person has stopped doing wrong or undone the harm done to you. You don’t forgive because you either have or ever will blot out the painful memories of what happened. You don’t forgive because the person has been penitent or asked to be forgiven. You forgive in order to honor the will of God and his Spirit-presence in your life. And you forgive in order to take back the control of your life that someone still has because of their evil and your ongoing absorption with its aftermath. One person recommends sitting in front of an empty chair, visualizing the person who has done the evil, and saying aloud, “I forgive you, [name of the person], for [identify the specific things that have hurt you] and take back the control of my life that has been yielded to you since those things happened — so I can give everything in my life to God’s redemptive and healing love.”

Fifth, pray the matter to closure. Maybe you pray something like this: “Holy God, because I am forgiven and accepted in Christ, I want to live in obedience to you and to follow my Lord’s example of forgiving others. By the power of your Spirit-presence at work in me, I choose now to forgive [the person] and to close the book on the sins [the person] committed against me. More than that, I ask you to bless him/her with whatever will draw him/her close to your heart. Bless [the person] with the love you have shown to me through your Holy Son. I take back the ground Satan has had in my life because of hatred or the desire for revenge against [the person] and surrender it to Jesus. Take away bitterness, and give me peace. Take away emotional and spiritual torment over these things, and let me live in forgiven-ness and forgiving-ness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.” You can’t pray this prayer at the beginning of the process of forgiveness, only at the end.

Sixth, because you mean what you have done at that point, put it behind you. If the person or persons who did the wrong to you are still in your life or still among those with whom you must interact at work or church, accept them by the mercies of God and without expecting or attempting to change them. Get on with your life, and keep no souvenirs of your past bitterness. You’ve broken the cycle of sin leading to thoughts of revenge resulting in more sinful actions. It has been broken with forgiveness.


On a Saturday afternoon last spring, 13-year-old Michael Hirschbeck put on his Cleveland Indians batboy uniform and went looking for his hero. His hero is Roberto Alomar, the All-Star second baseman who made a lot of us baseball fans angry in the fall of 1996 by spitting in the face of an umpire who had just called him out on strikes. When Michael found him, he threw his arms around him in a big hug.

The most startling thing about this episode is that Michael is the son of John Hirschbeck — the umpire Alomar spat upon in that ugly incident. Alomar apologized for what he did, and Hirschbeck publicly forgave him and committed himself to a process of healing and restoration. The baseball player has since worked to support the umpire’s foundation to find a cure for a rare disease of the brain (adrenoleukodystrophy or ALD) that took the life of Hirschbeck’s 8-year-old son John Drew in 1993. Michael has the same genetic disorder.

“Maybe God put us in this world to help somebody beat this disease,” says Alomar of the ironic reconciliation. Maybe he did. Or maybe he put them in this world to remind us of the grace that touches all who witness it in seeing the offended embrace the offender.

You can’t walk with Christ while carrying a grudge. Lay it down. Put a reconciling spirit of forgiveness in its place. Let offended and offender embrace — and know they are on the same team now for the sake of defeating Satan’s schemes.

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Posted by on January 10, 2018 in Doctrine


Chronological tables of the events of Jesus


The two debtors [Capernaum] Lu 7:40-43.
The strong man armed Galilee Mt 12:29; Mr 3:27; Lu 11:21, 22.
The unclean spirit Galilee Mt 12:43-45; Lu 11:24-26.
The sower Seashore of Galilee Mt 13:3-9, 18-23; Mr 4:3-9, 14-20; Lu 8:5-8, 11-15.
The tares and wheat Seashore of Galilee Mt 13:24-30, 36-43.
The mustard seed Seashore of Galilee Mt 13:31, 32; Mr 4:30-32; Lu 13:18, 19.
The seed growing secretly Seashore of Galilee Mr 4:26-29.
The leaven Seashore of Galilee Mt 13:33; Lu 13:20, 21.
The hid treasure Seashore of Galilee Mt 13:44.
The pearl of great price Seashore of Galilee Mt 13:45, 46.
The draw net Seashore of Galilee Mt 13:47-50.
The unmerciful servant Capernaum Mt 18:21-35.
The good Samaritan Near Jerusalem Lu 10:29-37.
The friend at midnight Near Jerusalem Lu 11:5-8.
The rich fool Galilee Lu 12:16-21.
The barren fig tree Galilee Lu 13:6-9.
The great supper Perea Lu 14:15-24.
The lost sheep Perea Mt 18:12-14; Lu 15:3-7.
The lost piece of money Perea Lu 15:8-10.
The prodigal son Perea Lu 15:11-32.
The good shepherd Jerusalem Joh 10:1-18.
The unjust steward Perea Lu 16:1-8.
The rich man and Lazarus Perea Lu 16:19-31.
The profitable servants Perea Lu 17:7-10.
The importunate widow Perea Lu 18:1-8.
The Pharisees and publicans Perea Lu 18:9-14.
The laborers in the vineyard Perea Mt 20:1-16.
The pounds Jericho Lu 19:11-27.
The two sons Jerusalem Mt 21:28-32.
The wicked husbandmen Jerusalem Mt 21:33-44; Mr 12:1-12; Lu 20:9-18.
The marriage of the king’s son Jerusalem Mt 22:1-14.
The ten virgins Mount of Olives Mt 25:1-13.
The talents Mount of Olives Mt 25:14-30.


On the order of some of our Lord’s Miracles and Parables,
the data being scanty, considerable difference obtains.

Water made wine Cana Joh 2:1-11.
Traders cast out of the temple Jerusalem Joh 2:13-17.
Nobleman’s son healed Cana Joh 4:46-54.
First miraculous draught of fishes Sea of Galilee Lu 5:1-11.
Leper healed Capernaum Mt 8:2-4; Mark 1:40-45; Lu 5:12-15.
Centurion’s servant healed Capernaum Mt 8:5-13; Lu 7:1-10.
Widow’s son raised to life Nain Lu 7:11-17.
Demoniac healed Capernaum Mr 1:21-28; Lu 4:31-37.
Peter’s mother-in-law healed Capernaum Mt 8:14, 15; Mr 1:29-31; Lu 4:38, 39.
Paralytic healed Capernaum Mt 9:2-8; Mr 2:1-12; Lu 5:17-26.
Impotent man healed Jerusalem Joh 5:1-16.
Man with withered hand healed Galilee Mt 12:10-14; Mr 3:1-6; Lu 6:6-11.
Blind and dumb demoniac healed Galilee Mt 12:22-24; Lu 11:14.
Tempest stilled Sea of Galilee Mt 8:23-27; Mr 4:35-41; Lu 8:22-25.
Demoniacs dispossessed Gadara Mt 8:28-34; Mr 5:1-20.
Jairus’ daughter raised to life Capernaum Mt 9:18-26; Mr 5:22-24; Lu 8:41-56.
Issue of blood healed Near Capernaum Mt 9:18-26; Mr 5:22-24; Lu 8:41-56.
Two blind men restored to sight Capernaum Mt 9:27-31.
Dumb demoniac healed Capernaum Mt 9:32-34.
Five thousand miraculously fed Decapolis Mt 14:13-21; Mr 6:31-44; Lu 9:10-17; Joh 6:5-14.
Jesus walks on the sea Sea of Galilee Mt 14:22-33; Mr 6:45-52; Joh 6:15-21.
Syrophœnician’s daughter healed Coasts of Tyre and Sidon Mt 15:21-28; Mr 7:24-30.
Deaf and dumb man healed Decapolis Mr 7:31-37.
Four thousand fed Decapolis Mt 15:32-39; Mr 8:1-9.
Blind man restored to sight Bethsaida Mr 8:22-26.
Demoniac and lunatic boy healed Near Cæsarea Philippi Mt 17:14-21; Mr 9:14-29; Lu 9:37-43.
Miraculous provision of tribute Capernaum Mt 17:24-27.
The eyes of one born blind opened Jerusalem Joh 9:1-41.
Woman, of eighteen years’ infirmity, cured [Perea.] Lu 13:10-17.
Dropsical man healed [Perea.] Lu 14:1-6.
Ten lepers cleansed Borders of Samaria Lu 17:11-19.
Lazarus raised to life Bethany Joh 11:1-46.
Two blind beggars restored to sight Jericho Mt 20:29-34; Mr 10:46-52; Lu 18:35-43.
Barren fig tree blighted Bethany Mt 21:12, 13, 18, 19; Mr 11:12-24.
Buyers and sellers again cast out Jerusalem Lu 19:45, 46.
Malchus’ ear healed Gethsemane Mt 26:51-54; Mr 14:47-49; Lu 22:50, 51; Joh 18:10,11.
Second draught of fishes Sea of Galilee Joh 21:1-14.



      Certainty in these dates is not to be had, the notes of time in the Acts being few and vague. It is only by connecting those events of secular history which it records, and the dates of which are otherwise tolerably known to us–such as the famine under Claudius Cæsar (Ac 11:28), the expulsion of the Jews from Rome by the same emperor (Ac 18:2), and the entrance of Porcius Festus upon his procuratorship (Ac 24:27), with the intervals specified between some occurrences in the apostle’s life and others (such as Ac 20:31; 24:27; 28:30; and Ga 1:1-2:21) –that we can thread our way through the difficulties that surround the chronology of the apostle’s life, and approximate to certainty.

Immense research has been brought to bear upon the subject, but, as might be expected, the learned are greatly divided. Every year has been fixed upon as the probable date of the apostle’s conversion from A.D. 31 [BENGEL] to A.D. 42 [EUSEBIUS]. But the weight of authority is in favor of dates ranging between 35 and 40, a difference of not more than five years; and the largest number of authorities is in favor of the year 37 or 38. Taking the former of these, to which opinion largely inclines, the following Table will be useful to the student of apostolic history:

A.D. 40 First Visit to Jerusalem Ac 9:26; Ga 1:18.
A.D. 42-44 First Residence at Antioch Ac 11:25-30.
A.D. 44 Second Visit to Jerusalem Ac 11:30; 12:25.
A.D. 45-47 FIRST MISSIONARY JOURNEY Ac 13:2; 14:26.
A.D. 47-51 Second Residence at Antioch Ac 14:28.
  Third Visit to Jerusalem Ac 15:2-30; Ga 2:1-10.
(on which see Notes)
A.D. 51,53, or 54 SECOND MISSIONARY JOURNEY Ac 15:36, 40; 18:22.
A.D. 53 or 54 Fourth Visit to Jerusalem Ac 18:21, 22.
  Third Residence at Antioch Ac 18:22, 23.
A.D. 54-58 THIRD MISSIONARY JOURNEY Ac 18:23; 21:15.
A.D. 58 Fifth Visit to Jerusalem
Arrest and Imprisonment at Cæsarea
Ac 21:15; 23:35.
A.D. 60 (Autumn)–
A.D. 61 (Spring)
Voyage to and Arrival in Rome Ac 27:1; 28:16.
A.D. 63 Release from Imprisonment
At Crete, Colosse, Macedonia, Corinth, Nicopolis, Dalmatia, Troas
Ac 28:30.
1 & 2 Tim. and Tit.
A.D. 63-65, or 66, or possibly as late as A.D. 66-68 Martyrdom at Rome  
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Posted by on January 8, 2018 in Evidence, Sermon

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