Forgiveness: Making Space for Grace Q&A with author Nan Self

“Forgiveness is the gift of grace from the heart of Jesus. He carried your sins to the cross and bore the pain of those sins so that you might be pardoned from their binding power and consequences. Through His grace, you receive a release from sin that you have not earned or deserved. In order to receive this gift, you need to accept His forgiving grace.”

Nan Self

The title of the book indicates that there is a connection between forgiveness and grace. Can you explain that connection?

Our sin is what keeps us from enjoying a relationship with God. You could say that each of us offended Him through our disobedience. He chose to forgive us and restore our relationship with Him through His son, Jesus. Forgiveness is the gift of grace from the heart of Jesus. He carried our sins to the Cross and bore the pain of those sins so that we might be pardoned from their binding power and consequences. Through His grace, we receive a release from sin that we have not earned or deserved. It is a gift, and in order to receive this gift, we need to accept His forgiving grace.

There are many people that may not understand the importance of forgiveness. Why is it such a big deal?

Forgiveness is the key to healthy relationships with God and with each other. Our failure to accept the grace of forgiveness for our own lives and then give that very same gift to others prevents us from experiencing a vibrant relationship with God and with other people. When we don’t forgive, we can become prisoners of unforgiveness, judgment, and bitterness. We may be physically alive, but we are held captive by our past and unable to walk in the freedom that Jesus died to give us.

You’ve dedicated a chapter to “bitter-root judgment”. What is it and what does it have to do with forgiveness?

The Scripture refers to a “root of bitterness” in the book of Hebrews. We are warned to watch out for it, to be sure that we do not lose our grip on grace and allow bitterness to overtake us. Bitterness poisons us and can ruin every relationship we have. It is the result of judgments we have made of others especially the judgments we have made against our parents. When we judge one or both parents, we set in motion a bitter-root judgment and an expectation that we will do the same thing that we have judged them for. It is vitally important to uproot our bitter-root judgments by confessing them and repenting of them so that we can be set free to honor our parents and live a long life. Deuteronomy 5:16

You describe unforgiveness as a prison. What does it mean to be a captive and what is the first step to making space for grace?
A captive is someone who is taken by an enemy and put into prison. Unforgiveness, refusing to forgive your offender, is an enemy because it is a sin and a bondage. When a person will not forgive, they go into the prison of unforgiveness. This prison isolates and separates them from others because they are holding onto the offenses of another person from their present or their past.
God requires everyone to forgive. It is not an option. Some of the consequences of unforgiveness are fear, anger, bitterness, resentment and rage. A few of the gifts of forgiveness are love, gratefulness, joy, mercy, and faith. Forgiveness brings peace, freedom and healing.
Our first step to making space for grace occurs when anyone offends us. God offers us the grace to forgive them. We have a choice to make as soon as the offense occurs. We can choose forgiveness or unforgiveness. If we choose to forgive the offender and release their offenses to God, then we have extended God’s grace to them. That is the first step to making space for grace. We are free and they are freely released. We received the gift of God’s forgiving grace from Him and we share that grace with them.
If we do not choose to forgive the offender, then the first step to make space for grace is to confess our sin of unforgiveness and repent of it.

When did you create the steps of forgiveness for restoring relationships?

The steps of forgiveness for restoring relationships are really a compilation of years of my personal journey of walking in forgiveness, teaching and counseling. After teaching on a variety of different subjects related to forgiveness for many years, I realized that I had a list of steps that fit together.

Briefly describe the steps of forgiveness for restoring relationships with others.

a) No matter how big or small your relationship wound, God is always waiting for you in expectation and patience. All you have to do is say His name and He is there with you. He heals your wounds and meets your needs.

b) Allow yourself to experience any feelings surrounding the offense toward you. Take an honest look at how the offense has impacted your soul and spirit.

c) Give yourself permission to grieve over the offenses. Release your wounded feelings to God.

d) Extend grace to yourself and give yourself time to heal.

e) Allow grace to bring you to a place where you confess, repent, and release yourself
and your sins to God. Ask God to forgive your sin of unforgiveness.

f) Receive God’s forgiveness by faith for yourself and others.

g) Pray for yourself. Ask God to show you what your needs are. Ask Him to meet them.

h) Choose to actively forget the offense as the wound heals. If the memory of the wound tries to come back to your mind, refuse it and verbally choose forgiveness.

You state that the prison of unforgiveness and the prison of passivity are similar, yet very different at the same time. How so?

The two are similar structures because they are both prisons. We place ourselves in the prison of unforgiveness when we are unwilling to forgive. We can release ourselves from the prison the moment we offer forgiveness to those who offended us. The prison of passivity is different because we become incarcerated over a period of time through our unwillingness to make choices and act on them. We become passive and stuck. To be set free from the prison of passivity stand against passivity in yourself. Accept responsibility for making decisions. Each decision that you make and act on removes a bar from the prison of passivity. Coming out of the prison structure of passivity is a deliberate process that requires diligence and perseverance. Freedom from the prison of passivity is a gradual process while freedom from the prison of unforgiveness can happen quickly. If you choose to forgive someone, you make space for God’s grace in your heart and you are released from the prison of unforgiveness.

Even though you had personally practiced the principles of forgiveness for years, you found that there had been a “missing ingredient” that prevented you from consistently walking in forgiveness. What was the “missing ingredient”?

Placing my faith in God was the missing ingredient that kept me from consistently walking in forgiveness. For years, I realized that I had tried to leave the dark place of my sin and my past, which I thought I had taken care of through confession and repentance. I kept going through the steps of forgiveness, but I still felt as though I was dragging my past with me. I never realized that in order to leave the past, I had to have faith in God and His provision for freedom in my future. I told God that I was ready to leave my past behind me. As I put my faith in Him, I felt as if a very powerful, heavy weight had been lifted from my spirit. I was no longer in bondage to the past. My struggle to find what I was missing was over.

To read more about Nan visit www.ForgivenessByGrace.com

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Faith, Fear and Fighting Abuse

Sexual violence, including child sexual abuse, spans across all ages, genders, races, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds. According to a Child Maltreatment report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau, 60,956 cases of child sexual abuse were reported in the United States in 2013. On top of the guilt and shame that abuse can bring, most victims know their attackers, which can lead them to be silent about their traumatic experience. Staying silent, however, does not lead to healing, according to Shannon Deitz, abuse survivor and founder of Hopeful Hearts Ministry.

Recently speaking at Baylor University Chapel Deitz specifically addressed sexual assault and date rape. Shannon comments “In helping survivors recognize the abuse they have suffered and being able to speak about it allows a deeper level of healing.” Through Hopeful Hearts, survivors receive compassionate support from a trusted peer and are able to realize that the abuse they have endured does not define them as a person. As a result, they are able to rise above victimization, embrace their full potential, and thrive.
“Both sexual assault and child abuse are so devastating that most of us don’t even want to think about them being present in our society. This makes it extremely difficult for any victim of assault or abuse to feel comfortable enough to speak out, which is exactly what they need to be able to do. Be it a child, a teenager or an adult, anyone who has been abused needs to be able to speak about what has been done to them without question or judgment.,” comments Dietz. With this in mind, Hopeful Hearts Ministry started the “I Have a Voice” abuse awareness project where survivors share their personal stories of abuse (domestic, sexual, incest, rape, neglect, emotional and verbal) through intensely personal and honest YouTube videos. The nine videos have been viewed more than 5,000 times and show the power of giving a VOICE to survivors that was once kept hidden, and not only aides in their personal healing, but shows others they are not alone and there is reason for hope.

Five years later, Hopeful Hearts Ministry has outgrown its facility and the number of survivors from all of over the world receiving peer support, Christian counseling, and attending the programs it offers has grown exponentially. The organization receives at least two to three calls a week from new survivors seeking healing support. “It’s a catch 22 with the growth of our organization,” said Deitz. “On the one hand, I would rather be out of this business because there are no more survivors to help. But until then, I will continue to do what it takes to offer the programs and services needed to help survivors thrive in this life.”
Hopeful Hearts has served over 350 abuse survivors on four continents with individual and group peer support sessions. 90% of these individuals are female; and 75% have survived sexual abuse. Deitz has participated in over 60 public advocacy opportunities for abuse survivors.
With firsthand experience, Deitz understands the pain and stigma of being a survivor of sexual abuse both as a child and as an adult. She sees the month of April as an opportunity to encourage other survivors to speak up and speak out, knowing that it is a crucial step towards healing. “The shame, despair and inability to cope with the painful events can lead to depression as well as dangerous behavior, as survivors tend to seek other ways to block out the memories and dull the pain.” comments Deitz. “My goal is to help others see their worth and become the best they can be.” Through the power of her own testimony, she helps people see that they no longer have to live as a victim. They can begin a journey of healing because they are not defined by their past and they have immense value.

In her newest release, Redeemed (Hopeful Hearts Ministry October 2016), Deitz shares the struggles she has faced, including how she worked to overcome sexual intimacy issues, and abusive behaviors that carried over into parenting. Redeemed reveals the self-destructive behavior Shannon was led into because of the shame of rape and guilt of self-imposed inexcusable sin during her formative years. Deitz, in a gripping and riveting read, unfolds this truth through the continuation of her journey in accepting love, intimacy, worthiness, and forgiveness. Redeemed portrays Shannon’s ever strengthening love story with God as she struggles to accept the good gifts He has waiting for her, and the courage it takes to trust God and others, when her spirit has been so deeply wounded by sins of her past.
“Survivors want to know they are being heard and that they will be safe and protected,” explains Deitz. “We do not need to be silenced because our situation makes others feel uncomfortable. To the contrary, we need people around us who are willing to listen and willing to stand up for us if we choose to go public.” This focus in April is important because the more people who become aware of just how prevalent this problem is in our country, the more beneficial it will be for everyone. Being able to share our story with others serves to help prevent future abuse from taking place. If there is a survivor in your midst, be willing to listen. Be willing to hear their story.”

www.HopefulHeartsMinistry.com

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Forgiveness: Making Space for Grace

Forgiveness is often spoken of, attempted by many, occasionally understood. Nan Brown Self unlocks the secret to experiencing and practicing this fundamental key to walking in freedom from our past offenses in her newly released book Forgiveness: Making Space for Grace (Brown Books Publishing Group, March 2017).

Nan has a passion for applying the teachings of Scripture to everyday life and has taught on the subject of forgiveness for over thirty-five years. But it was her own exhaustion and load of emotional baggage carried far too long that brought her to the foot of the Cross. “Why do you continually bring your burdens of unforgiveness but never leave them there,” she sensed the Lord saying. In seeking to answer His question, she found fresh perspective on one of the most fundamental teachings of Scripture and more importantly, experienced the grace of forgiveness that left her “past” where it belonged ­ at the Cross with Jesus.

Lana Bateman, president and director of Philippian Ministries states, “Nan Brown Self has given us a treasured gift in her book, Forgiveness: Making Space for Grace. She helps us understand how the grace of forgiveness brings peace and harmony to our souls. Open your heart now to God¹s amazing love as you learn to make space for the grace of forgiveness. It can set you free!”

Now everyone has the opportunity to truly understand and experience this same grace of forgiveness through Nan’s latest work. Forgiveness: Making Space for Grace is profoundly practical. With biblical insight, Nan helps the reader identify the roots of unforgiveness, experience healing of old wounds, begin the journey of restoring relationships, and maintain their walk in peace and freedom. Each chapter concludes with practical questions, a worksheet, and a prayer, making it ideal for study groups or private devotionals. Drawing from her personal encounter with the grace of forgiveness and the immutable truth of God’s Word, Nan charts the course to freedom from our past grievances and offers a prescription to maintaining that freedom on a daily basis.
“Forgiveness is the gift of grace from the heart of Jesus,” states Self. “He carried your sins to the cross and bore the pain of those sins so that you might be pardoned from their binding power and consequences. Through His grace, you receive a release from sin that you have not earned or deserved. In order to receive this gift, you need to accept His forgiving grace.”

From the moment I picked up Nan Brown Self’s book, Forgiveness: Making Space For Grace, something wonderful began to occur. I became keenly aware of the power of forgiveness and how much God wants us to be free of the guilt and shame of the past. If you need to forgive someone, including yourself, this book offers real hope, help and healing!

– Babbie Mason, award-winning singer, songwriter and author

www.ForgivenessByGrace.com

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If I Had a Parenting Do Over Q&A with Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee understands the joy and the challenges of parenting and offers practical help to parents who would rather learn from someone else’s firsthand experiences in hopes of circumventing their own parenting mess-ups.

  • The title of this book is so perfect! I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want a DO-OVER, especially in an area as important as raising our kids. Tell us the back story on why you decided to write about this 20/20 look-back at parenting and the changes you’d make?

It was an amalgamation of several elements. First, my own kids, now 19, 21 and 23 were now out of the house, in college and making decisions on their own. As my wife and I watched this we couldn’t help but look back at our own parenting and ask, “Did we equip them for this?” Or “Could we have done this better?” At the same time, the nature of my job put me intermingling with parents almost weekly at my parent workshops or interaction on our website helping parents. In these interactions I began hearing the same regrets over and over again. A lot of, “I wish I had done this…” So I began a little experiment of sorts. At times I created a venue where parents were given the opportunity to share past regrets. It’s not something that happens often. But when it does, when a parent shares, “As I look back on all my years of parenting, the one thing I’d change is…” That always captivated parents. Parents want 20/20 hindsight! So, I decided to embark on a journey to not only share my own thoughts, but look for the common denominators that most parents seemed to wish they could “DO OVER.”

  • In your book If I Had a Parenting Do-Over, you mention a parenting poll you conducted and the eye-opening results. Please tell us about this?

It was intriguing. I asked parents one simple question:

If you could go back in time and change one

parenting practice, what would you DO OVER?

It was fascinating, because out of all the hundreds of responses I received, I began noticing one overwhelming response. It was, “I wish I had spent more time with my kids.” I had answers all over the board, but well over a third of the answers were regrets that they didn’t spend enough time simply hanging out with their kids and bonding. The answer came in many forms.

“More time in conversation, and less time in front of the TV.”

“With a do-over, I’d jump in the ocean with them more instead of sitting on the sand watching them play.”

Few of the parents expressed regrets about “boundaries.” I didn’t hear a lot of people saying, “I wish we would have been more strict.” “I wish I would have had more rules.” And maybe that’s because of the crowd I surveyed. Because honestly, I was asking parents who were coming to our website for help, attending our workshops… so these were mostly Christian parents in the church who had been at the parenting thing for a while, if not empty nesters already. But less than 2% polled wish they had applied more boundaries. They just wished they’d gotten to know their kids better and built a relationship that opened the door to continual conversations.

  • I think of all the chapter titles in your book If I Had a Parenting Do-Over many of us are going to be drawn to “Let it Go”. Many parents seem to struggle with this and if we don’t then somehow we might feel like we aren’t good parents. Why is that and what prompted you to include this as a chapter focus?

Because teenagers are a pain! You can always spot a parent of a teenager. They look tired and beaten down. Ask a parent of a teenager which is more difficult, parenting toddlers or teens! They’ll tell you. Parenting toddlers might be physically exhausting, but parenting teenagers is emotionally exhausting. They know everything! And they’ll disagree with you at every interaction. “I like your pants.” “Actually, they’re not pants, they’re jeggings!” And if you try to tell them what to do, they’ll resist at every opportunity. “I need you to pick up that stack of dirty laundry in your room.” “Why do you care. It’s my room!”

This is where all parents struggle. We all have responses we’d like to give to this little punk who just told us “it’s my room” …even though they’ve never even considered pitching in on a single house payment.” So I spend an entire chapter helping parents not get entangled in “the drama.”

“Put on your coat!” “I don’t need a coat. It’s not even cold outside. Just saying!”

We need to learn how to let it go. After all, in most of these situations natural consequences teach far more than any of our lectures. Let the kid freeze for a day. They’ll remember their coat tomorrow without you even reminding them.

  • What happens when we don’t notice things our kids are getting into (even though we might notice other kids’ behavior and think that those parents totally missed it)? How can parents keep up and not let their kids fly “under the radar”?

I’ll be honest. Most parents, myself included, have very little idea what’s going on in the world of our kids. Parents often react to that statement. But the older our kids get, the more we realize it. Most of our kids have a device in their pocket that can access every type of media imaginable. And most parents have no clue what their kids our accessing. Most parents have no idea what music their kids listen to, the Netflix show they’re streaming, and the interactions they are having on social media. In my parent workshops I often give a quick tour of the top 10 songs at any given time, and parents are always shocked. Think about this for a second. I’m not even exposing deep dark secrets. I’m just showing parents what any parent with access to Google can find out at any moment. I’m just letting them listen to the lyrics of the newest Drake song they just heard while shopping with their kids at Wal-Mart. I’m just showing them a clip of the newest Ariana Grande video, the girl their kids grew up watching on Nickelodeon. I’m just showing them what their kids can click on from the SnapChat app, which is by far THE most popular communication tool kids use today. If their kids don’t have it, for sure their kids friends have it.

Parents need to simply put their own phones down, turn their own screens off, slide their bills aside… and take notice of their kid. I spend an entire chapter talking about what this looks like. Not putting a nannycam in their kids’ bedrooms or installing the newest spy software. Notice them.

Believe it or not, your kids want you in their lives. Shaunti Feldhahn surveyed about 3,000 teens asking them about their parents’ involvement in their lives. Almost all of them (94%) said that if they could wave a magic wand, the perfect situation would be one in which their kids worked to be involved with them. Not spying on them or acting like a parole officer checking to see if they finished their chores… but in their life. That “bonding” thing again.

For more information please visit www.TheSource4Parents.com

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If I Had a Parenting Do-Over

coverartJonathan McKee understands the joy and the challenges of parenting. In his new book If I Had a Parenting Do-Over (Shiloh Run Press, February 2017) McKee offers real, practical help to parents who would rather learn from someone else’s firsthand experiences in hopes of circumventing their own parenting mess-ups. McKee comments “My own kids, now 19, 21 and 23 are now out of the house, in college and making decisions on their own. As my wife and I watched this we couldn’t help but look back at our parenting and ask, ‘Did we equip them for this?’ Or ‘Could we have done this better?’”

McKee shares 7 “do-overs” from his own parenting flubs, while offering encouraging advice to help today’s parents. With more than 20 years of experience working with teenagers and studying youth culture, Jonathan offers real-world help for all parents – especially parents with teens in the home.

Advance praise for McKees new parenting book includes best-selling author and speaker Shaunti Feldhahn who states, “Every parenting book from Jonathan McKee is a gem, and this one is no exception. Combining his own experience with what other parents have said they wish they had done differently, he clearly presents better ways to lead and connect with your kids, at any age”.

President of Focus on the Family, Jim Daly, comments “Do you ever wish you had a parenting mentor to walk alongside you, share the mistakes they made as a parent, and teach you how to avoid those same pitfalls? Now you do! Jonathan McKee offers timeless wisdom for parents who want to look back on their kids’ childhood someday and honestly say they have no regrets.”

Delivered with a refreshing blend of humor and vulnerability, McKee’s candid approach grips parents immediately; then real-world application equips them with solid, helpful practices they can actually use in their own homes. With chapters like “Let It Go,” “Press Pause,” and “The Yes Factor,” McKee draws from his years of parenting his own kids and making tweaks in his parenting style along the way, while providing the honest answers today’s parents are seeking.

For more information visit http://thesource4parents.com/

 

The Will of a Man and the Way of a Woman

coverartWhile a man possesses a unique God-given motivational propensity for exercising a strong will in life, a woman conversely possesses a unique God-given propensity for discerning the appropriate way of life. Through ups and downs, these magnetic tensions have helped husband and wife writing team, Robert and Pamela Crosby, learn to balance, bend, and blend in their marriage. To appreciate the balance their differences bring, to bend more appropriately in response to each other, and to move toward a more joyous blend that can only emerge out of two quite different ways somehow turned into one. Simply put, where there’s a WILL, there’s a WAY. The Will of a Man & the Way of a Woman (Shiloh Run Press November 2016) invites readers to harness the magnetic draw of their differences and blend better with their spouse in both life and love.

“The will of a man compels him to act on the strengths he feels he can offer.” comments Robert. “The way of a woman compels her to act out of the understanding she feels she can offer.” adds Pamela. Together this draws both husband and wife into relational oneness and becomes the GPS of the relationship. Clarifying how men and women are vastly different by design, emotionally and even spiritually can remove years of struggle.

“Our inner motivation is really the core of our souls. It’s vital to remember that love brings us together and fear pushes apart,” comments Robert. The Crosby’s have been addressing the collaborative aspects of marriage for years through their ministry. The Will of a Man & the Way of a Woman is not just another marriage book. It captures unique tools and resources for marriage unlike any on the market today. Written in an easy and conversational style this little gem of relational wisdom, invites readers to harness the magnetic draw of their differences, while celebrating their oneness. Each chapter includes Ask Away! Questions for Will and Way Conversations, which can be used along side small group studies. Topics include:

· What men most want

· What women deeply desire

· Marriage: the backbone of society

· Restoring marriage and living Gods’ will Gods’ way

Robert and Pamela Crosby are also co-founders of Teaming Life, a conference and resource ministry to couples and families. Together they have served s pastors at churches in New York, Ohio, Boston and now a brand-new church plant in downtown Tampa. Robert and Pamela speak at various couples and leadership events and retreats for local churches and church districts across the country. Robert regularly contributes articles and blog posts for Patheos.com, HuffngtonPost.com, Christianity Today, and Outreach Magazine.

City Dump Transformed into Outdoor Cathedral of Praise

holygroundChrist for all Nations (CfaN) hosted a historic live worship experience led by Evangelist Daniel Kolenda, the President of CfaN, with guests Roy Fields, Hope Darst, and others. The event took place in Ghana earlier this year and resulted in an amazing worship experience. It is now available on DVD and CD. Holy Ground comes from the epicenter of one of the greatest moves of God in history where over 75 million people registered decisions for Christ. Contemporary musical arrangements and beautiful choral harmonies bring to life classic hymns such as “I Surrender All” (featuring Hope Darst) as well as modern and original songs and medleys.

The only site large enough to accommodate the massive crowds that attended this historic event was the city dump. The surrounding neighborhood was infamous for its high levels of crime, poverty and hardship. The Christ for all Nations team moved in, cleared the land and constructed the massive stage with complete with state of the art sound and lighting just in time for the hundreds of thousands of people that flooded the ground. Beautiful sounds of worship filled the air as night after night, the Gospel was preached with power. By the end, 381,680 individuals had registered decisions for Christ. The whole event was captured in this historic worship album appropriately titled, “Holy Ground.”

In thoughtful reflection on this event, Evangelist Daniel Kolenda shared:
“This was one of the most extraordinary and personally impacting projects I’ve ever been a part of. To me, what happened in Ghana is actually a picture of redemption itself. Jesus loves to enter our mess and bring a miracle, exchanging beauty for ashes and making everything new. When I listen to the music on this album, it takes me back to Africa. I can feel the presence of God, the excitement in the air and the faith that anything is possible. It’s more than an album, it’s an experience. It will transport the listener to the epicenter of one of the greatest moves of God in history where literally millions have been saved and nations are being touched.”

This high-quality audio and visual experience was co-produced by Latin Grammy winner and 6-time nominee Carlson Barros, who was honored to help tell this incredible story. Carlson shares: “We recorded in one of most remote areas of Africa. It was very challenging to bring extra equipment and find the perfect spots for microphones, musicians and instruments. I’m very happy that we’re able to match a high-quality audio recording with the anointed reality that happens during these Gospel campaigns in Africa.”

The Holy Ground experience contains a DVD and CD combo pack with a full-color panoramic poster of the event, plus more details inside the package telling the story of incredible change that took place during a one-week campaign in Africa with over 700,000 people in attendance.

To watch a video trailer about the experience and listen to a preview of every song, visit: http://HolyGroundCfaN.com

About Christ For All Nations (CfaN): (cfan.org) CfaN is a non-denominational missions organization, aimed at taking the Gospel message to the world. Christ for all Nations is primarily known for its historic crusades in Africa and recently surpassed a historic milestone of 75 million documented decisions for Jesus Christ at major events in Africa and other parts of the world.

The ministry offers theological courses and Bible study programs from its website, as well as the Reinhard Bonnke School of Evangelism, Fire Conferences and other training events. The CfaN website also offers a variety of books, booklets, DVDs, audio CDs, posters, bundle packs and more. CfaN books have been published around the world in over 140 languages. The ministry hosts a weekly international television program, hosted by its president Evangelist Daniel Kolenda.