" ... and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us." Luke 11:4, ESV
Did you forgive?
Recently, a friend asked if I had forgiven one of my former superiors. Though tempted to dismiss her question, I decided to listen carefully. This woman loves me and cares deeply about my spiritual well-being. As she spoke I considered her words. After the conversation, I prayed about what she said and I asked God to reveal the truth about the situation. And, he did.
I had been sure that I forgave my ex-boss. Now I wondered. As I thought about it and prayed for clarity, I realized that I had held on to a piece ... the piece that related to the pain I had experienced in a situation. I had felt hurt. And I feared that letting it go would mean that I might get hurt gain.
I realized that this was about relational boundaries for me. Subconsciously, I had equated forgiving this person with the idea that I would open myself up to getting hurt again. You see, I like to restore relationships. And, sometimes I don't know how to reconcile and keep an appropriate guard up.
Once I saw the truth of this situation, and after much prayer, I chose to forgive - really forgive. Not just my ex-boss but others too. As a leader, I believe it is super important to live what we teach. I certainly encourage others to forgive. Now it was my turn. "Thanks friend! You helped me sort it out and let go."
How about you? Do you need to forgive someone? What's holding you back?
"Mountaintops are for views and inspiration, but fruit is grown in the valleys." Billy Graham
Scenic views or tough roads?
When I read the Billy Graham quote, it made me think about the last few years of my life. I've longed for scenic views and encouragement. In fact, the idea of enjoying rest and relaxation in the sunshine surrounded by beautiful views sounds wonderful. I can imagine the sun on my skin, a gentle breeze blowing and scents of wildflowers relaxing me as I recline on the mountain admiring the view. It seems like this scenario would make me feel really close to God...and I tell myself that I would be so ready to learn from him. Hmmmm. Is that the ideal growth scenario? Views and inspiration are necessary at times but it's not our everyday life or destination. At least, it has not been my reality.
Over the recent years it seems like my family has dwelt in the valley. Gray days and drizzle would describe the experiences better. Sometimes hurricane force winds and torrential rain threatened to wash us away. Not literal wind and rain but the kind of life circumstances that just knock you over. Some of these experiences definitely relates to the Semper Vita journey. The only way that we survived dwelling in the valley is through the prayer of friends and family. These prayers are the only reason we're still standing. We're not just standing, we're experiencing peace and we're smiling. God has been so good. If you've been praying for us - "Thank you!" Please keep the prayers coming.
Billy Graham's quote reminds me that the purpose of the valley is to produce much fruit. God allowed us these years in the valley to grow our character and to grow us in our relationship with him. What a privilege. What a journey. I cannot wait to see what fruit he is producing in and through us.
God's word promises us that we will survive the valleys because Jesus is with us. And, if we stay close to him, we will produce much fruit - the kind that will last.
"Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. you honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever." Psalm 23:4-6, New Living Translation
Jesus said:"I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me." John 15: 1-4, New Living Translation.
The dream is becoming a reality. Semper Vita is happening. It is exciting! At the Northwest Ministry Conference it was clear that the idea is timely. Churches are ready to do good in their communities and would love to connect with others. Semper Vita’s software will help them do just that.
What we need from you It takes a lot of people, prayers, partners and money to make this happen. Would you join us as we seek to help churches be the church in their communities? Would you commit to one or more of the following:
Pray for Semper Vita: Pray for the software development. Pray that the right partners will sign up. Pray that God will bring us volunteers. Pray that we would continue to work toward making this dream a reality. Pray for financial provision. Pray that God will bless Semper Vita for His glory.
Finances: We need money to reach the thousands of people in our communities with the love of Jesus. Whether $5, $500 or $50,00 your donation will help us to finish the software, to reach out to potential partners and to move Semper Vita forward as an organization. Would you support us? To donate please go to our donate page.
People: We need people to help us make this happen. Are you a videographer? We could use your help. Do you like marketing, administrative support, finance, sales? We could use your help. There’s stuff to do for everyone. Please join us and help us make this happen. Contact us to volunteer as part of Semper Vita.
Partners: We need churches and non-profits to partner with us to impact the community for good. Please consider partnering with us to reach our communities with the Good News.