Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

Let Go of the Past

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“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14

The past. Everyone has one though everyone’s past is different. Some are painful. Most people have regrets, bad memories, wounds and shame that colors their past, often lingering in their minds and hearts. While the past is behind us, for so many it continues to haunt them and affect their present negatively. For the redeemed in the Lord, the past need not plague us or have power over us.

If you are in Christ Jesus, there is no need for sins you have committed or hurts enacted upon you to keep you in chains. You are free! Free to forgive yourself and free to forgive those who have harmed you. Free to let go of the past and to embrace whatever God has for you in the future without fear or condemnation. You are free to live as a new creature. The past has no authority over you.

I love the verse there in Philippians 3. It both challenges and encourages me. I believe that part of the gift of new life we have in Jesus is freedom from the past…putting off the old and receiving the new. When we come to Jesus, He breaks and removes the chains of the past from us, and yet I see people scooping those chains up from the floor and binding themselves up again. I wonder how it makes the Father feel. The Son dies on the cross to free His people but then they choose to put themselves back under bondage? I see brothers and sisters in the Lord who accept the salvation of the Lord (praise God) but do not accept the freedom He has bought for them. Why?

  1. Forgiving Others. Forgiving those who have harmed us is no easy undertaking. Some have experienced such awful betrayals and offenses that they carry emotional wounds that continue to hurt. Until we can learn to truly forgive these offenders, we will never be truly free from the past. I can tell you from experience that with the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives, it is possible to forgive even the most terrible offenses. Mark 11:25, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
  2. Forgiving Self. While some struggle with forgiving others, a great number of believers simply can’t forgive themselves for the sins of their past. Though we may believe that God has forgiven us, we condemn ourselves, refusing to let ourselves receive full pardon for our transgressions. To forgive ourselves, we need to fully trust and believe God and what His Word says. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was all-sufficient in redeeming us. If the Son has wiped our sins away, bringing us justification, we need to honor Him by living in that fully. Accept redemption. Be free and forgive yourself. Jesus died so that you could start again. New life. A second chance! Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
  3. Excuses. I have to say that I think many believes choose to dwell in the past because they use the pain they have been through as an excuse to not grow in the Lord and in life. They hold onto the past in order to justify continuing to live in despair, in bad situations and even in sin. Instead of making changes and moving forward, they remind us that their past has brought them to this place, as if there is no new life at all. When faced with the challenge of getting their lives together and walking in newness of life, they make excuses and never grow. The problem is, using our past as an excuse is limiting the power of God in their life. It is saying that Jesus’ sacrifice and redemption was not complete or sufficient. It’s also a way of putting aside personal responsibility. If Jesus has freed you and made you new, then He walks you to walk in newness of life. That doesn’t mean life will be easy or that growing isn’t hard, but using the past as an excuse not to live joyfully in the future is denying God’s power and glory in your life. Psalm 30:11 “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness…”

God gave us new life and freed us from the old life and all that it embodied. We are free. We are new. The past is gone and buried. God wants us to walk in freedom so that we can experience all that He has for us in the future. Now, we sometimes do carry consequences of the past with us. The consequences of sins or offenses against us sometimes do not go away with our re-birth in Christ. Still, we must believe that God wants to redeem all of the parts of our lives. We may have challenges and obstacles that make it harder for us to live the way He wants us to, but we have an almighty God who has promised to help us. With Him, all things are possible. In Him, life can be totally different then it was before. He can move the mountains in our lives, but He asks us to do our part also.

If you are stuck living in the shadows of your old life, bound by chains of unforgiveness, sin and full of excuses for why your life never gets better, you aren’t living in the newness of life God has for you. You are putting on chains that He has broken. You are limiting His power in your life. God wants to redeem every hurt and heal every wound, but first you have to be willing to let go. You have to be willing to forgive, both yourself and others. You have to be willing to stop letting your past, and even the consequences of the past, be an excuse for not living well in the present.

Let it go. Be free. Stop using it as an excuse, and you will find that the past has no power of you. God has great plans for you and to use you to bless your family, your friends, your community and the lost. You’ve allowed the past to cripple you and have allowed God to be too small in your life. It’s time to move forward. No more looking back. It’s time to start living in new life. I pray for each person reading this to live in God’s redemption fully and to be blessed as you do what God said in Philippians 3…

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

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Excerpt from My New Book – “Be Church. The Church. Real Church”

The following is an excerpt from my new book, “Be Church. The Church. Real Church.” The book should be released and available by July 1st.:

            “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10

 

            “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” 1 Corinthians 1:10

 

            “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16

 

            “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13

 

            “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” Romans 14:1-5

 

            “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…” Philippians 2:1-5

I read these passages about the New Testament church and I can’t help but feel that we have really tried to box church up into this nice, aesthetically-pleasing package. We have focused on creating order and being organized. We have established traditions that we now stick to as if it were written on the same tablets as the Ten Commandments. We keep Sunday morning running smoothly, eliminate distractions, ask the Holy Spirit to move in our timing and according to our schedule, and we avoid any breaking of what is our regularly scheduled program. Yet, I’m not seeing any of that with the New Testament church from scripture. I’m not seeing an outline of the service in the church bulletin. I’m not seeing a well-oiled engine that makes sure people are in their seats at 10am and out the door at 11:45am on the dot. I’m not seeing shallow conversation or niceties or the need to stick to this version of church that we have created.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I love church. I love going to church and I am not poking fun at churches that run this way. I understand that these traditions have been deeply engraved in our development of church history. I am not writing these words in anger or frustration with the church. Not in the least. I believe that the church is filled with God-loving people who are doing their best (for the most part) to honor Him. I know there are dodgy churches out there teaching false words and so forth…I’m not talking about them. I’m specifically addressing the Bible-believing, Jesus-loving Christian church. We come in all shapes and sizes, colors and flavors, but we are all united in the blood of our Savior. Despite our denomination or church affiliation, most of our church fellowships fall into this habit of putting church (and ultimately God) in a box. That is what I’m addressing in total love and honor of my fellow believers.

While I love the church and see many wonderful aspects of the church (Bible study, worship, fellowship, etc.) shining forth from it’s congregations, I also see some real problems with the church in general. Now this may or may not apply to your church body. This is not a new concept. I’m not the first to feel this conviction, nor the last. Others have written about it. Some have put it into practice in their churches. It’s not new, but it is my personal take on what’s happening in the church today and how we may start to really be church….the real church.

The first thing we have to do is to recognize and acknowledge that the church is made up of Christians. Christians are people. People suffer. There is pain. There is sickness. There is trouble and persecution. Jesus never promised Christians an easy time on earth. In fact, we were warned that we’d face spiritual and physically warfare and pain. Life is messy. If church is going to be real, we need to allow people to be real in the church. If church is going to be sincere, we need to allow people to share their lives. Church is not a beauty pageant, where smiles are glued in place to make sure they don’t drop. Church isn’t a show. It isn’t a pristinely- put together show. It shouldn’t be. It should be a real life experience of people being themselves, bringing their pain, being ministered to, sharing testimonies of God’s power and glory, being exhorted in the Word, feeling free to confess, being prayed over and being fed. Real church doesn’t have to look the same every week. It doesn’t have to fit in the box man has created.

I love the church, but something’s missing. Something’s wrong. We know it is because we are losing people. We are losing battles. We are sending some away just as broken and lonely as when they arrived. We are failing to meet needs. We are failing to offer real discipleship. We are not bearing one another’s burdens as we ought to. We don’t even know what their burdens are because we don’t take time to get to know them! For all of the beauty of a well-organized Saturday or Sunday morning service, we are missing out on some of the most important aspects of being a church family in the first part.

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