Thursday, December 26, 2019

Forgive Quickly (Enduring to the End - Part 5)

By Bunni Pounds

(This is part of a series called Enduring to the End - Overcoming Offenses, Bitterness and Unforgiveness)

Forgiveness is a command. 

No if's, and's, or but's about it. We all know it is hard to make that choice - but it is a choice.

Mark 11:25 "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses."

Do you see anything in that passage that makes you think we can wait for a special feeling or tap on the shoulder by God? 

What about this one in the Lord’s prayer?

 “And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.”

Any part where the prayer stops for a feeling? 


Forgiveness is a command. We don’t have to feel it, we just have to be obedient. 

Just like the story in Part 4 of this series where I prayed over my previous Congressional race opponent’s Christmas card picturing his family for almost a year before I felt a thing; sometimes it takes a long time for feelings to follow. Many times, feelings will never follow, but we are still commanded to forgive. 

If we don’t choose forgiveness quickly, we will become an internally ugly person full of bitterness, anger, and a hardened heart. This is really not about the other person who has wronged us or the circumstances that have hurt us, this is really about us. 

Hebrews 12:14-15 “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.”

I promised stories of our spiritual journey here and I won’t disappoint. I don't share these to cause pain to anyone involved, but only because I believe young people in this generation need to hear that many of us have walked through pain and hurts in church that they might also be experiencing right now. They need to know they can walk through disappointments, moral failings by leaders, and differences in opinions (even extreme cases) and still walk in love.

The church where my husband and I met is still pastored by a pastor we dearly love. This pastor and his wife have taught us so much about life, marriage, grace, freedom, and even were instrumental in me getting involved in politics. I say all that to say, even men and women of God are not perfect. We have to remember that and know only God is perfect. 

When Ben was a baby, this pastor and his team planted a church in Dallas, and I was asked by them to be the first worship leader. I had just spent a few years learning guitar and writing songs, so it was a great honor and a great learning opportunity that I took. 

We had a very rewarding first year. People were getting blessed and I was really learning and thriving as a worship leader.

One day about a year and a half after the church had started, the associate pastor called Tim and I and wanted to meet. He informed us that a man had joined the church who had the ability to lead worship and since he was a MAN - the head pastor had decided that he wanted me to step down and let the man take over. He held the philosophy that women were fine to do ministry until a man was raised up, but a man in all roles of ministry was God’s ultimate desire. 

I still remember that day like it was yesterday.

I remember telling the associate pastor who was a dear friend, what about Miriam who led worship before the people of Israel after they crossed the Red Sea on dry land? 

What about Esther leading her people out of death and destruction? What about Deborah- she was a prophet and a judge? 

What about Priscilla and Aquila who were co-laborers with the Apostle Paul, training up the churches in the early churches? 

This decision made no sense to any of us, but he just shook his head. The decision had been made. 

When I look back at this moment, it was one of many in my past where my gender tried to define me and keep me down - but I had a choice in that moment. Would I forgive? Would I forgive quickly? Would I let this decision that I strongly disagreed with define my relationship with these spiritual leaders for the rest of my life?

A root of bitterness starts as a seed. It starts small, but then grows into a giant plant and can soon take over your entire life as a tree. It is deadly. We have to watch for it in our own hearts and guard against offenses and bitterness taking root. 

It can take you out and cause you to not be able to endure to the end. Don't let it. Forgive quickly. 

In this case - I don't think it was more than a year later that I was recording an album and I asked this associate pastor to sing backup with me. I had to move on regardless of how painful it was. 

After I got into politics - I specifically went and thanked that senior pastor for his investment in my life - teaching me about history, about government, and about the Kingdom of God. His value in my life was not defined by this one decision that he made. I forgave....

Even though Tim and I knew in that moment - when I was asked to step down from leading worship - that it was our time to exit that specific church - over a decade later that associate pastor and his wife, our dear friends, stood with us at our ordination service as BOTH Tim and I were ordained and released to pastor a church that we had planted out of the overflow of our lives. It meant the world to us that they were there and that they signed our ordination papers as witnesses.

Forgive quickly! You don’t know what God will do through that act of obedience. He can bring redemption, blessing, and promotion, out of the ACT and decision to forgive. 

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
Mark Twain

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

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