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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The Worst and the Best Year – 2015

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog here and much of that is due to the good, the bad and the ugly moments of this past year for me and my family. As we approach the end of this year and the start of a new, I can confidently say that 2015 has been one of the worst my family has known. Yet, somehow, it’s also been one of the best. I thought I’d take a moment to share with you, my friends, my readers, in hopes that this testimony is an encouragement and brings glory to God.

The Worst Year

My life hasn’t always been easy. In fact, it’s been pretty rough and I’ve experienced some seriously difficult trials and challenges along the way. Still, 2015 brought me pain and struggle on a variety of levels that I had never before experienced. As I look back, I can hardly recognize myself in this past year. There were so many turbulent changes and dark times, some due to my own sin and others for unknown reasons.

The year started like any other, full of hopes and prayers and sincere but short-lived resolutions. It started out good, with the Lord putting a new ministry in our hearts that came to fruition. However, in the midst of the joy of serving the Lord and meeting wonderful new friends, the health issues I had been struggling with for several years suddenly got ridiculously worse. The physical pain, brain fog and other multi-system symptoms seemed to fire up to new levels. I prayed for healing. I sought help from various doctors. I finally came to find out I have a chronic illness and one that is very difficult and expensive to treat.

As I started to try and raise funds for treatment, I found myself struggling with depression and the feeling of being alone. I felt like no one could understand. With an invisible illness, people expect you to go about life as usual, not realizing how much pain you are in and how difficult it is to function. I have struggled to keep up with my daughter, to do her schooling, to keep my house in any sort of order and to teach lessons. My health got worse and worse. I’m now in treatment, but I’m still undergoing a lot of testing and the costs are a great burden to my family.

Not only did my declining health make 2015 a difficult year, but I also struggled with sin of the heart. I believe in being real and authentic as a believer, and so I confess that I allowed my heart to entertain sin for a time, and as sin tore up my heart, my whole household suffered tremendously. Out of respect for my family and others who were involved, I won’t share details here. I will tell you that sin, even when it’s in the heart, is destructive and ruins marriages, families, friendships and lives. As I mentioned earlier, there were times when I couldn’t even recognize myself.  I’m so very ashamed of how I stumbled, and so very grateful for the grace and love of the Savior and from my husband that brought me back to rightness.

The Best Year

It’s a funny thing about grace and forgiveness. I think it sometimes takes a great fall to be able to see how precious and powerful grace is. As a Christian of many years, I felt so confident and strong in my faith and my life that I would never have imagined myself falling as I did into sinful attitudes and thoughts. It was no coincidence that it all happened in the same year as the Lord brought my family into an incredible ministry.

In February 2015 God put on our hearts to start a Bible study in our home and to open it up to folks in our area. The people who came were strangers to us, and yet the Lord put on their hearts to come. I can’t even begin to express the blessing these brothers and sisters have been in our lives. We have truly formed a community of believers who are taking their walk with Jesus to the next level. Some are brand new believers. Some came from other churches and religions. We had 7 baptisms in 2015 alone. The Lord has done amazing things and we have just stood in awe of Him, grateful for the opportunity to be used and to serve His people.

Is it a coincidence that this is when temptation entered and the father of lies began to send in his fiery darts? No. Of course not. I’m not saying that I had no part in my sin. I take full responsibility. However, looking back I can see that the enemy was out to destroy the work that God was doing. The good news is that God fought for us and met me where I was and offered me amazing grace. He gave me a husband who is faithful, forgiving, patient and loving beyond what anyone could ask. Grace. Redemption. Restoration.

This past year has been one of the best years of my life because I finally see what it’s all about to be serving the Lord in ministry. I see what fellowship and community is for. God gave us a vision for church that is so beautiful and Biblical and real. We have met such dear people who have become family to us. We have become a family on mission.

This year has been the best and the worst. It was horrible at times but, because of grace and restoration, it has been incredible also. I have been reminded of who I am and where I am weak. I have discovered how easily sin can drag you down and harm you and those you love. I have understood on a deeper level how sweet forgiveness is and how important it is to stand on the Word of God.

As we close up this year, my family is stronger than ever. My faith is steady upon the Rock. I am still sick, but the Lord is my strength, my comfort and my provider. He continues to work and to accomplish awesome things as we watch in wonder. I can say that I’m excited for the new year and what the Lord will do.

I want to encourage you, as we approach 2016, to take time to get your house in order. Get rid of any sin in your life. Confess it and repent and give it to the Lord. Ask Him not for riches or perfect health in the upcoming year, but for spiritual blessings to abound. Ask Him for wisdom, for love, for grace, for humility and for a serving heart. Let’s pray over 2016 that it will be a year of great rejoicing in the Lord and revival. Amen!

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