Give it to God – Jeff Petkevicius
The power of Serving others
As Christians, we are called to follow the example of Jesus. One of the most powerful attributes of the Character of God is His humble nature to become a servant to all of us.
[Mat 20:28 NLT] 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many."
September has been an enormous month of opportunities to serve others. Just having returned from Houston and reloading my bags for Florida, I can testify to the blessing God provides when we put serving others as a priority. In Houston, we served 375,000 people warm, wonderful meals. There was all kinds of media attention and I recall being interviewed by CNN at one point and asked the question…. What does BBQ mean to you in this type of event… I thought for a second and realized that BBQ is a meal that floods our minds with warm memories of family get togethers, parties, picnics and wonderful celebrations. It’s a warm, happy place to go. For all those getting our meals, it’s a small way of saying that they are loved and that things are going to get better, just hang in there…
Being a part, a small part, of making that happen is a humbling and wonderful blessing. It doesn’t just happen. There are countless numbers of people working behind the scenes at OBR to line up resources, bring in equipment and keep supplies stocked. I am know to give those folks a hard time, but it’s just my way of saying I love them. As for the cook teams, I don’t have the words to express the miracles they pull off. Not only are they producing numbers that boggle the mind, but they do it with joy in their hearts. Our team functioned as a smooth, well oiled machine cranking out the protein, reloading the pits, and doing it again. Once the cooking and processing was done, they wouldn’t leave until everything was cleaned up and ready for the next run. I was brought to tears regularly with their dedication, hard work and amazing attitudes.
I am sure that this love train of producing outstanding BBQ meals for folks will carry on down to Florida and we will have more stories of seeing the love of Jesus in new ways. If you weren’t able to make it, I just encourage you to find a way to do so in the future. I suspect that any company would be willing to make adjustments and make a way for you to be a part of OBR in a deployment.
Jesus served each and every one of us by paying the ultimate price of dying on the cross for our sins, not His. He then went on to defeat death, rise again and be seated at the right hand of God. Jesus is our example, when we unconditionally serve others, there is nothing but big old smiles in Heaven. Give it to God, what are you waiting for?
[Mat 25:35-46 NLT] 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.' 37 "Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?' 40 "And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!' 41 "Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, 'Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn't feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn't give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn't invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn't give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn't visit me.' 44 "Then they will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?' 45 "And he will answer, 'I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.' 46 "And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life."
SOLD OUT! And Souled OUT!
Those of us in the competition BBQ world are all involved in “catering” to some degree. The mere fact that we take our BBQ skills into the competitive arena, speaks to our expertise with meat on heat. Many of us have businesses to provide our works of epicurean delight to the public and most of the country’s best BBQ joints have a competition PitMaster somewhere in the mix.
With all that said, when we hear the words, SOLD OUT… it brings a flurry of emotions on both sides. To the PitMaster, it’s a badge of honor, a sense of complete satisfaction to know that everything you prepared has been taken and enjoyed. All that you have is GONE! There is no more available to be had until the arduous task and hours long cycle of creating more starts all over again. SOLD OUT = Huge Success for PitMasters it is the most powerful testimony to the quality of the BBQ you provide, demonstrated by the customers!
For the customer, SOLD OUT has a different meaning. It means you were too late, you MISSED the opportunity that others have enjoyed and YOU won’t get any! It makes you search your decision making to see where you could have done things differently to get to the BBQ spot earlier and had a chance at what others are enjoying and YOU DON’T! Disappointment for sure, and not necessarily with the PitMaster, but yourself for the missed opportunity. A time to make a note, and be prepared to show up earlier next time and not MISS the chance to get what is obviously amazing BBQ.
In our lives, there are a number of occasions where we come across people who receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior before we do. It’s hard, and somewhat impossible, for us to understand what is going on in their lives, but there is no doubt that the person is changed. The excitement and enthusiasm for their new direction is undeniable and remarkable. To put it another way, they are SOULED OUT!
For the person who makes the decision to give their life to Jesus, it parallels the PitMaster in the sense of joy and accomplishment of knowing that God is who He says He is, You become one of His children, and Your soul belongs to Him. All of who you are is acceptable, and complete. There is no more “old you” you have SOULED OUT! You are Born-Again! God’s word tells us, Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation, old things have passed away (sold out) and all things have become new.
Unfortunately, for those who never make that life decision, the consequences are waiting for them when they face God. Everyone who ignores the opportunity to embrace their new life in Jesus Christ, will find the window to eternity in heaven closed. Sold out, missed opportunity, bad decision making and a dreadful eternity to be reminded of it. The devil doesn’t want us thinking about the reality of judgement day, but it will happen for all of us. As a friend of mine shares often, Life has many options, eternity has two!
Are you in a spot to make Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior? Today would be a great day to make it happen. Turn over your life, Sell out to the God who loves you more than you can ever imagine and be on the right side of the SOLD OUT window. Give it to God, what are you waiting for?
Give it to God – Jeff Petkevicius
Don’t Judge Me!
Being a part of the new BBQ League (United Competition BBQ League) and having put on a couple contests, it has been good to be on the “other” side of Pro BBQ. The most glaring lesson that I’ve learned is that no matter what you do, there will always be people wanting you to do it differently.
In particular, I’ve noticed how some BBQ Pitmasters want to offer changes to the “judging” process with the concern being the “quality” of judges. We start with making sure all judges are certified by going through a training class. When the results were not to the liking of cooks, J, then we moved to bring in, as judges, competing cooks, or members of teams, all of whom have experience with Professional BBQ. We also run them through a class and they are “certified”. Those judging results are not any good either, and so the suggestion is that we need to broaden our search for judges and campaign to train them better…….
What it boils down to with some in the Pro BBQ world is that they just don’t want to be judged. It’s crazy to think about it, but they enter competitions to have their work evaluated, but they don’t want the input. Any input they get is discounted as invalid for one reason or another. If we made the adjustment to where everybody wins, all scores tied, all perfect entries, money split evenly and we just have a “buffet” on Saturday for the crowd…. That wouldn’t be good either. It’s a conversation, that points to the reality of the agony of being told you screwed up and accepting it. A pill you don’t want to swallow, that is holding you back from improving!
Don’t judge me! As a Christian, and one who professes the Love of Jesus meaning that His “Love” includes the warm and comforting love AND the disciplinary “Love”, we hear this thrown back in our face when we challenge behavior contrary to what Jesus commands us to do. Matthew chapter 7 talks to the issue and verse 1 is often quoted…. But God’s message continues if you read on….
1 "Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. 2 For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. 3 "And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye. [Mat 7:1-5 NLT]
It’s verse 5 that brings the message home. Get your house in order first and THEN you are in a position to help others see the errors of their way. When I am challenged as a Christian for being “judgmental”, I will refer to the fact that God is the only one who will Judge anybody. Our role, as Christians, is to point people to the word of God and His detailed explanation of how things will go when you stand before Him if you continue to live the way you’re living.
Being Judges, whether in BBQ or in Life is a hard pill to swallow, but adjustments in our lives that will work towards better results requires it. Take the time to be evaluated and given honest feedback. When I finally looked in that mirror and realized that my life was heading me directly to hell for eternity, I made the decision to give my life to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. He came into my heart and changed me. The old “jeff” was dead, and the new “Jeff” came alive in Jesus. If you haven’t given your whole heart to Jesus as Your Lord and Savior, today would be a great day to do that. Give it to God…. What are you waiting for?
Just be Jesus! It’s as simple as that, however, we all need to get to know Jesus before we can be Jesus. I get into a lot of trouble at times, surprise…. surprize, because I am fond of telling people, “don’t believe what anybody tells you about God, check it out for yourself in the bible”. I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit will be our guide and teacher about ALL things of God. We have to take the initiative and engage God through reading His word, prayer, praise and attending church. It is a jambalya of activity with the sole intention of growing a closer relationship with the King of Kings.
I often sit back in amazement that the Creator God loves me. Little old me, sinner and at times in my life a wretch-of-wretches. All that changed when I gave my life to the control of Jesus Christ. It has been an amazing ride and I can see many more blessings down the road before going home. When I say, “just be Jesus”, the implication is that we guide all we do through Love. Jesus is Love and His example and teachings give us all we need to follow in His footsteps. His word shows us the way,
1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn't love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God's secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn't love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn't love others, I would have gained nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. [1Co 13:1-7 NLT]
Recently, God has been putting on my heart that all of us are in ministry! All of us have a calling in our unique ways to be Jesus. I am thankful that God made it clear to me what mine is, through BBQ, and we all have a way to make Jesus the focus of our activities. The point is that we all need to embrace our unique role of ministry and put it on display for others to observe and for us to focus on.
14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, "I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand," that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, "I am not part of the body because I am not an eye," would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? 18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, "I don't need you." The head can't say to the feet, "I don't need you." 22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. 27 All of you together are Christ's body, and each of you is a part of it. [1Co 12:14-27 NLT]
One of the unique ministries that Caroline and I share together is our “listening” ministry. That’s right, we consider it ministry by being good listeners, engaged listeners to others situations and challenges. Unfortunately it’s rare to find people who truly listen to you and are interested in what’s going on in your world without trying to “fix” or “judge” the situation. That’s a great ministry that I would encourage you to acknowledge and adopt in your daily walk through life. Find your role, find your ministry, make it known to others and draw closer to our Loving Father in the process. If you haven’t given your life to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, today would be a great day to do that. Give it to God. What are you waiting for?
Definition of accountability. the quality or state of being accountable; especially : an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions. Merriam Webster
I believe that one of the reasons we love the sport of Pro BBQ is because of our competitive nature. We Love to Compete (to strive consciously or unconsciously for an objective (such as position, profit, or a prize) : be in a state of rivalry). At the core of competition is accountability. When we turn in that box, let it go, and walk away, we take responsibility for what we have entered and it’s off to the judging table where it is evaluated, and scored. In the end, the scores are put up against everyone else for the ultimate accountability for the day… RESULTS.
At the end of the day, there is no more conversation, no more “selling” what we produced, no “explaining” why it turned out the way it did….Nothing.. complete silence.. the end of our ability to impact the results.
This quiet Saturday morning at the gym, I was doing my cardio, as usual, and watching the news headlines. Politician after politician, news anchor, political analyst, party officials…one after another, pitching their perspective, throwing out the “lines” and “talking points” they are selling us Americans. And all the while, knowing that they are twisting and manipulating the “Truth” to fit their agenda. The interesting point in all of this is that the conversation never finishes. There is no accountability for previous conversations, and the “talking points” they are pitching today will vanish in tomorrow’s headlines… This has created a culture of zero accountability and particularly, zero shame.
In the end, there will be complete accountability for what we have done on this earth during our “dash”… Feb 13, 1962 ---- ? Your and my bible is clear:
13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. 14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. [Heb 4:13-16 NLT]
It’s very true, you can escape accountability… until you meet Jesus! At that time, it’s Game over, Silence, turn in for judgement. No explanations, no twisting, no perverting agendas, nothing…complete silence. And the verdict will be either Heaven or Hell for eternity. Are you ready for being held accountable for your life? Are you willing to stand before God for judgement on your own? I’m not, that’s why I gave my life to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior who will stand with me, and for me at that moment. You can have the same end result, by making the choice to give your whole heart, your life, to Jesus Christ. Today would be a great day to do that, you and I are not promised tomorrow. What are you waiting for? Give it to God.
Starting to crank up on the Pro BBQ tour. Contests are all over the country and the World, for that matter. So, by the thousands, us PitMasters are planning our week around getting out there and cooking with our brothers and sisters hoping for the last “walk” of the day.
Most of us won’t get that “walk” and will go home wondering just what happened. We will go over every detail of our cook from the meat we selected, how we trimmed it, our rub plan, timing, amount, sauce strategy, cook plan, wood plan…everything is diagnosed for ways to get better.
It seems like that conversation in our heads dominates our thoughts for at least 24 hours. But then, our minds shift to the people we were blessed to spend time with. The conversations we had, the laughs we shared, the tears we cried together. This great sport of Pro BBQ is exploding in popularity, not because of the money, not because of the “celebrity”…. But because of the relationships we develop each and every week.
Most of my dearest friends come directly from the BBQ world. There is just something special about the spirit of hospitality that engulfs PitMasters. Our desire is to take care of people, to make sure they are comfortable, fill their bellies with some goodness, no matter who they are. And this posture is on display in a very public way when OBR (Operation BBQ Relief) deploys to help others in their time of need.
When I reflect on this aspect of our family, it emphasizes our need to “Be Jesus” every day to those around us. Our bible is the most magnificent book ever written and it applies as well today as it did when written thousands of years ago, and will continue forever.
Jesus is the epitome of Love. His example on how to treat people defines decency in our human existence. My prayer, every day, is to reflect the love of Jesus in how I interact with everyone that crosses my path. It’s the Love of Jesus that was shown to me by a dear friend in 2004 that changed my life. It wasn’t done in a way that we would call “nice”, but that is what I needed and the message got through.
We all have thousands and thousands of decisions we make every day. You reading this article to this spot was a decision to continue and see if I make any sense…lol.. Today is a great day for you to put your decision making on “pause” and test it against the example of Jesus.
3 Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. 5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. [Phl 2:3-5 NLT]
As for me, it’s very simple… I tried a lot of things in my life to be happy and content…nothing worked until…I tried Jesus. He works for me and I highly recommend Him. If you haven’t given your life to Jesus…Today would be a great day to do so. What are you waiting for?
There are times in this life when everything stops and God’s glory is revealed to us in ways that are simply….miraculous. This is a story of defeat, dis-honor, disappointment, redemption, forgiveness and victory.
Sitting in a friend’s office thirteen years ago, my eyes were opened to the reality of my complete and utter failure as a human being. The outside world didn’t see it that way, in fact, I was quite successful in the business world, had lots of money, property, stuff… but on the inside, at the core of what I followed and believed and worshiped, was myself. My happiness, my pleasure and my desires was all that mattered. My friend uttered these words that seared into my heart… “Jeff, you are going to hell…there’s no question about that, but the question is….how many people that you care about, that you love, will have their lives trashed by you?”
Like a ton of bricks, it hit me between the eyes and there was no running from it. I was one of the most effective salesmen you could imagine and I had no response. He was right. We prayed and I gave my life to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I was born-again, a child of God and have not looked back.
Unfortunately, those lives that I trashed, the ones that meant so much to me couldn’t help but carry the deep scars of my doing. Both of my daughters bore the brunt of it. Brooke and I came back together shortly before her untimely death, but Paige and I remained apart, very far apart.
Paige, rightfully dis-owned me and wanted nothing to do with me, no contact what-so-ever. Years went by and her stance didn’t soften. Each and every day, I prayed for God to help our relationship heal and restore us. Nine years went by without contact. Having begun my Pro BBQ career and traveling around the country sharing Jesus, and the Thank You Fairy, God put on my heart to make a trip out to California. It was a risk, but I wanted to make the trip to apologize to Paige. I sent off an email, and she agreed to meet with me.
My sole purpose on the morning we met was to apologize to Paige for not being the Dad she deserved to have. To apologize for the pain I had caused. No excuses, no explanations, just an apology. THAT is what Paige needed to hear and she forgave me. She didn’t just jump right in and trust what I was saying to be real, but her heart was wide open to giving me a shot.
Following our re-connection, we stayed in touch, visited a couple times and just worked on getting to know each other as adults. I always sensed a bit of awkwardness when Paige attempted to address me because she didn’t know what to call me… and Dad wasn’t on the radar screen….yet. God continued to heal her heart and as the years have gone by, Paige grew to realize that Jeff is not the man he used to be, but he really has changed. This past February, I received the most treasured expression of love, a birthday card and note from Paige:
I just wanted to write you a note to say how truly grateful I am to have you back in my life. I value you and our relationship. You enrich my life so thank you for that. Life is crazy and at the end of the day, we are all just people doing the best we can. Sometimes it’s hard as a daughter to see your parents as “actual people” with struggles of their own. You had your own demos to battle in your life and I understand that more & more as I get older. I love you and I truly forgive you. Thank you for being authentically you. You are an amazing human being with a kind heart. – Paige.
As I cry again, writing this…. I share it with you to know that God will honor your prayers in His perfect timing. You know exactly what is worth holding onto in your life and sometimes it’s a struggle to understand how things get to where they are… but God sees it all as well. He cares for all of us and will make a way for you to do the things you need to do, to get on the path that is Victory in your life. Relationships matter. Saying Thank You and I’m Sorry are the most powerful relationship tools we have. There’s no allotment on how many times you can use them.
Give your whole heart to God… He’s the answer you need, the provider of your dreams, the healer of your heart. What are you waiting for?
Give it to God – Jeff Petkevicius
This morning, I was organizing all of the columns I’ve written and wow… God has blessed me with this out-reach since 2013! As I was going through and filing the articles, I came across one I started a couple years ago, but didn’t turn into a column. After reading it, God’s timing is perfect… I just gotta share it with ya’ll.
OUR GOD is faithful to the faithful! Confession time... Got back from Bedford TX, Pro BBQ competition #111 for me..(I’m now at #146, so this was a couple years back). I love being involved with Pro BBQ and Love telling people about Jesus...however, I was wondering if God wanted me to stay here doing this work or moving along to another ministry. Cook's Church is running along all over the country with brothers taking up the torch for Jesus and God gets all the glory for that.... so I'm thinking, the seeds are planted, the work is moving along, God is a part of Pro BBQ where it was NOT 5 years ago, so, IS my work here done... Caroline and I were taking our morning walk yesterday and I was sharing this thought. Keep in mind, that no matter what God wants me doing...I'm ALL IN. If that means Prison ministry, Homeless, 3rd world etc... Where He needs me, I will serve HIM.... and then this morning I get this message:
I cooked my first KCBS competition this weekend in Bedford. What a blast! I feel a little bit weird just sending you an email out of the blue, but I feel like I need to share some things with you.
When I made the decision to cook the competition I started doing some searches on YouTube on rookie bbq contest etc. and I came across your Rookie Reality series. I watched the first video and was hooked. I pretty much watched them all in one day while I was smoking a pork shoulder. I just thought, how cool is this! He's taking two of the things I love most Jesus and BBQ and making a ministry out of this.
After I watched those videos, I also watched your series on getting started in competitive BBQ, and then I started some of your more recent videos. I just want you to know how much your videos and ministry has meant to me personally over the past couple months and encourage you to keep fighting the good fight. I got a lot of good information on how to start my team, but more importantly I was able to see your heart for the Lord.
Your honesty is at times brutal and your message is challenging for the average Christian. There is conviction that comes to me that I'm not doing enough to make the Lord known to others. Yet there is always compassion and authentic realness and oftentimes humor in your message. We have the best news available and it can't be hidden under a bushel! Thank you so much for sharing the good news and thank you for challenging fellow Christians to share the good news as well. In the end, I know all the glory goes to God, but I just wanted to thank you for things that you have unknowingly imparted into my life since I discovered your ministry.
As Hebrews 3:13 says: But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
My only regret is not sticking around after church to tell you this in person. God willing, perhaps someday our paths will cross again.
God bless you and keep you,
I guess I got my answer....What an amazing God we serve. to the Faithful, HE is faithful... God has a plan for you that you can't imagine until you allow Him to mold you into the servant He needs with your life... Words can't describe how powerful and peaceful that becomes when you give God your whole heart What are you waiting for? :)
1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice--the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. 3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don't think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. 4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ's body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. 6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. 9 Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God's people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. [Rom 12:1-13 NLT]
As a human being, one of the toughest things to do is FORGIVE. God has wired us as emotional beings for good and for bad. This wiring allows us to get along with people, fall in love, share good times, and comfort each other in bad times. It is also the mechanism that drives hatred and destruction, murder, abuse, bigotry, racism etc… When you think about it, I mean really think about it, the difference between the two scenarios above is FORGIVENESS.
So why is it so difficult, why is it so much easier to hold onto a hurt, and allow that hurt to solidify in our hearts and harbor negativity towards another person? I don’t have the answer, but I do know that God paid the ultimate price through Jesus dying on the cross for us as the ultimate act of Forgiveness! His Word is perfectly clear that Forgiveness is not an option, but a – hard and fast – requirement to be a part of God’s Kingdom. Over the years, I have struggled with this requirement from God, and in His mercy, He continues to help me grow. Recently, when I needed to engage Forgiveness, it was brutally hard for me to do, and as I was praying for help, God gave me this….
Forgiveness can end...or.... restore a Relationship. Restoration comes by way of acknowledgement, apology and repentance.
When we are wronged, we are called to forgive and keep forgiving.... but it also means that the relationship changes and sometimes that means it ends. God gives us the example of applied forgiveness with how He treats all of us.... Without Repentance, what we thought we had (relationship) is not there, so it is dead and a new relationship is birthed. The new one will have a different look and feel to it.... However, if somebody comes to us with clear and complete acknowledgement, makes a - no excuse apology - and turns from their ways, demonstrating repentance.....then, you have restoration.
12 and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. 13 And don't let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. 14 "If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. [Mat 6:12-15 NLT]
21 Then Peter came to him and asked, "Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?" 22 "No, not seven times," Jesus replied, "but seventy times seven! [Mat 18:21-22 NLT]
9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. [1Jo 1:9 NLT]
We are a fallen people and God's forgiveness is always there. When we acknowledge our sins, confess them and turn from our wicked ways, we have a born-again relationship with Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Thank you Jesus for this light of revelation for me and I hope it helps somebody else out there.. Give your whole heart to God.... what are you waiting for?
Not all things are good…. However…
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. [Rom 8:28 NLT]
Recently, I had the honor of serving with Operation BBQ Relief and their deployment to Gatlinburg, TN. The wild-fires devastated the community leaving thousands without anything…. Here’s one story…
It was about day 3, early in the morning and very chilly. We had turbo heaters roaring to keep the cook site warm and people were all gathered around, huddled up to try and remove the chill. I was walking around, checking on pits and noticed a family standing there, mom, dad and 3 daughters. They looked like the hundreds of volunteers we worked with, waiting for the food line to get set up for serving, so I initiated a conversation…. Being the “funny” guy that I am… I noticed that mom (Sharon) was wearing flip-flops, so I make the joke…”hey mom, it’s probably not good parenting and decision making to be wearing flip-flops in weather like this… just saying”. She, very politely responds, “Our house burned to the ground, we lost everything and had to leave with what we had on and this is what I was wearing”.
I immediately felt an inch tall and apologized profusely. Sharon and Terry were so nice and didn’t take offense, quite the opposite. They joked about their situation as well, using humor to navigate them through their personal disaster. Their story, was like so many… They were just about to go to bed with no fires around them only to see smoke trickling down the hall. A neighbor pounds on the door screaming that they have to leave…NOW!!! They had 5 minutes to grab the car keys and get out. When they went outside, the fire was all around them. It had instantly jumped to their location being driven by 80 mph winds. Had they gone to bed, they never would have made it out alive.
As we stood around the heater, they shared that they have lost everything, however, what is most important is OK. They have each other and the children and all of the, “things” can be replaced. Terry was joking that he was actually thankful that he didn’t have to move all his tools again, and the lawnmower that was melted, was for sale with the note, “ran good the last time I used it”…lol.
We shared life with each other and became friends on the spot. I worked to encourage them even though they didn’t seem to need it, and were more encouraging to others. That outward focus, that desire to get away from their situation and help others, reflects the true love of Jesus Christ and I was so blessed to have God cross our paths.
It didn’t take long, and somebody found Sharon some shoes and socks to put on and stay warm. The recover process will be long and slow, but Jesus loves those who look outside themselves in the toughest of times and will be there with them every step along the way. Operation BBQ Relief is an amazing organization dedicated to being there in the worst of times in people’s lives to give them Hope for a brighter tomorrow.
Jeff Loves Jesus and since being saved... born-again... my desire is to work for Him in whatever capacity that becomes. :)