You Are Loved

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Hey all! My name is Brandon Snodgrass. I am 25 years old and attend Nappanee Missionary Church. I had a brief experience with LOG over the summer while working at Bashor Children’s Home. When Molly asked me if I would be interested in helping I was for sure excited about the opportunity, but truth be told, I was equally nervous and anxious about all of it. Believing it is good to push yourself and be stretched when possible, I decided to commit to dive in – but first, I have been asked to share what I would do with a can of cheese wiz. I have decided that I would take the bottle of cheese wiz to my 5 month old nephew and just see what he does with it. I would be very tempted to spray it on his head and give him a head full of cheese wiz hair, just for my enjoyment, but I would also hate to neglect him the opportunity to go crazy with it.

I have been asked to give my thoughts and reflections on forgiveness, and the verse in the Lord’s Prayer “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

For me personally, forgiveness has always been a topic that has come with a mixed bag of thoughts, feelings and emotions. Cognitively, I have understood what forgiveness means for a very long time. I could explain it to you and could probably model it visually fairly easily, as I am sure many of you could do as well. Where forgiveness has been hard for me over the years and where I have had to wrestle and grow is in two areas of forgiveness: the first is walking in forgiveness and the second is in living out forgiveness.

Walking in forgiveness – Forgive us our trespasses

We all make mistakes. We all mess up. We all sin. We are, by our very nature, sinful and fallen, and can do nothing on our own power to overcome this. We know that it is through the cross and the beautiful sacrifice of Jesus, who bore our sins, that as sons and daughters of Christ, we have hope, life, freedom and forgiveness. Two scriptures that bear this out very well are Romans 10:9 and 1 John 1:9.

Romans 10:9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

I knew these things very well. I had heard them many times, yet I struggled. I knew in my mind and in my heart that I was forgiven; yet, I felt an imbalance. I felt shame. I felt regret. I felt that things were not yet right and that more was needed to be done to, “make things right.” I think for many years I battled with this mentality. I knew it was distorted from the message I had always been given but I struggled to shake the lies that I was buying in to. Then one day, someone said something to me and it sparked a journey for me in my walk of forgiveness. They said,“Sometimes we focus more on our response to God rather than on our view of God. We need to understand the power by which we are saved.”

I realized in that moment the weight of what was being said. Often I would screw up, and find myself trying so hard to do everything right for God. I would respond to slip-ups in sin by committing to pray every morning, or by dedicating myself to an hour of devotions a day, or to journaling every night before bed. All of these things I would use to “respond” to God, in hopes to show that I was sorry for what I had done and to achieve his forgiveness.

In the midst of these responses I missed two very important things: the true character and nature of God, and how God viewed me.

Yes, God is righteous. He hates sin and it pains him to see us mess up. But, God is also loving. He is all-powerful. He is bigger and greater than anything you have and will face. His love is unconditional. There is nothing you can do to earn His love, or make him love you more or less. Simply, you are loved. We know this from Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

With an inaccurate view of who God was, I was unable to accurately understand how God saw me. When God looks at us, He does not see all of our shortfalls, mistakes, and blemishes. He sees sons and daughters who are pure, righteous and holy because of the work of Jesus on the cross.

You and I do not need to earn or work for forgiveness and love. God has gifted us those through Jesus and calls us to walk in the truth of that love and forgiveness each and every day.

Living out Forgiveness – as we forgive those who trespass against us

Three years ago, I was accepted for an internship at a local church. The first night of my internship I had a conversation with a close friend, who told me he didn’t think I was qualified for the position and that I didn’t deserve to be there. Those words hurt and they stuck with me for a very long time. They impacted my entire internship experience and shaped a number of decisions that I made that year and the following year concerning ministry.

For me, this was an example of the second struggle of this forgiveness discussion: showing forgiveness to others around me. I am certain we have all been hurt before. We have all had something nasty said to or about us or had someone wrong us in some way.

Forgiving people is hard sometimes. Really hard. Yet we are called to live our lives differently. To live as Christ lived. An incredible picture of this can be seen in Luke 23:34, where Jesus, who as he hung on the cross, proclaimed: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”

It will not always be easy. In fact, it rarely ever is. Yet God calls us to forgive, just as he forgave us. It may take only once. It may take a couple of times. With my friend and that internship, it took me a couple of months of prayer and processing to where I finally laid it down for good. You may have to continually work and pray for the strength to forgive someone for weeks, months or even years. Yet, that is what God calls us to – to forgive, as he forgave and forgives you.

So my prayer for you all this week is that you will dive in to this topic of forgiveness. That you will evaluate how you view God, that you will know the power by which you are saved and how God views you; and that because of these things, you will be able to walk in and live out lives of forgiveness.

Participant Update – it’s time to get your participants registered
What a blessing it is to share the love of God with someone!  It can change a person’s life forever.  Think how glad you are that someone invited you to LOG.  Now it is your privilege to pass it on …

LOG #89 – two still not confirmed
LOG #90 – six confirmed and on not confirmed
LOG #91 – two confirmed and two not confirmed

Send your friends this link: www.michianayouth.org/events

Blessings for LOG weekends
Please send your blessing to Terry as soon as possible.  Share a favorite passage of Scripture, quote or song lyric and tell us why it is meaningful to you (and hopefully, to those attending the weekend).  Let’s surround the participants with love.

Important dates – mark your calendars:
– February 17-18 – – LOG #89 overnight
– February 24-25 – – LOG #90 overnight
– March 3-4 – – LOG #91 overnight
– March 10-12 – – LOG #89
– March 17-19 – – LOG #90
– March 24-26 – – LOG #91
– March 28 – – Five Guys Reunion Night
– June 23-25 – – LOG #92 at Bashor Home
– June 29 – July 2 – – SOS at Bethel College
– July 22 – – 20 Year LOG Reunion

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