Forgiveness Bible Study Survey

Forgiveness Bible Study

Forgiveness Survey

I am working on creating a new Bible Study around the subject of forgiveness, reconciliation, and resolution. I could use your help as I begin to process this information.

This is a tough subject for me. In the past, I have received all kinds of feedback related to forgiveness. Some of it good. Some of it not so much. My hope is that the study can help to bring healing to others.

I’ve included a survey for anyone who would like to participate. It is set up so that you can offer an open-ended response and share your stories if you would like. It should take about three minutes to complete.

Take the survey.

If you run out of room or have additional comments, you can either email them to me or take the survey a second time and offer more insight.

The goal of the survey is to collect as much information as possible and to use some examples of forgiveness or the lack of forgiveness in the study.

If other questions arise as a result of this survey, I may ask for additional feedback through another survey.

The final question in the survey asks for additional comments. Feel free to add any information you feel would be helpful.

Please share this survey with others so I can get a broad view of what people think.

Thanks.

Review: When God Doesn’t Fix It

When God Doesn’t Fix It

When God Doesn't Fix It

When God Doesn’t Fix It was written by Laura Story Elvington in 2015 and is available through Christian book stores, Amazon, and other locations. Laura is also a singer/songwriter with titles like “Indescribable” and “Blessings” to her credit. She uses “Laura Story” for her music. The study contains a book, DVD series, and a leader’s guide with questions. It is designed for a small group discussion over five sessions.

The session titles are:

  • Session 1 – Don’t Be Surprised By Trouble
  • Session 2 – Best-Made Plans
  • Session 3 – When God Doesn’t Fix It
  • Session 4 – Why? The Question On Replay
  • Session 5 – A Better Broken

There are corresponding videos for each session that are 10-14 minutes long which leaves some time for discussion before and after. There are also daily questions for people to go through if you use it in a small group study. In my case, I used the series for a Sunday School class.

Why Did I Choose This Study?

I chose this study mainly because I have also had a brain tumor removed and live with the side effects of such a surgery. It was also chosen because there are a lot of things people go through in life that are not fixed simply by having faith.

Seeing how other people have dealt with a brain injury was eye-opening.

What Did I think of the book?

I suggest reading the entire book before trying to give the study as it offers some background information that can be used while conducting the study.

The book tells the story of Laura’s handling of her husband’s brain tumor diagnosis, surgeries, and treatment. Honestly, as a person who has gone through brain surgery and knew from the beginning that things would never be the same, it was difficult to get through the first half of the book. Not that the story was bad, but that it focused on where she was at the time. Laura seemed to think that brain surgery was just one of those things you go through and once it’s taken care of, things go back to normal – whatever that is.

By the second half of the book, the conversation changes to one of reliance on faith to get through things. There are plenty of references to the idea that God is not a fairy who fixes all these things we ask for. Rather, God is more about the bigger picture of eternal salvation. There are scripture references throughout.

What About The Videos?

The videos are enough to get the conversation going. They are well done and even have some overlap to help with the previous sessions. She incorporates personal stories from others and encourages relationships. Scripture references are used throughout.

The quality of the videos is top notch. Laura even shares snippets of her singing and scenes from concerts and recordings. Some candid family videos are entertaining at times.

The Leader’s Guide

The leader’s guide is set up for daily use. There are questions to use prior to the video as well as ideas to think about during the video. Those are followed by discussion questions. There are also daily questions to consider between sessions.

My Take

I used the study for a Sunday School class and treated it differently than maybe it was intended. Since I had been through the brain surgery, I was also able to incorporate some of my personal experiences.

I used the study as a starting point and added separate information to it for my specific setting. Our classes did not utilize the daily reflection items. I also used additional scripture, not in the study.

I think it’s a great study for anyone looking to have hard discussions about tough topics that many people go through. Although the premise of the study is based on brain tumors and traumatic brain injury, it can apply to a variety of topics.

Beauty In Brokenness

Ash Wednesday

My wife Sharon, preached the Ash Wednesday service at the church on February 10th. The service had 400 or so in attendance. This worship is the recognition of the beginning of Lent. The imposition of Ashes are applied to the forehead to remind us to repent of our sins and to show others we are a Christian witness.

Ashes

From dust we have come and to dust we shall return. Repent and believe the Gospel.

Usually people give something up in recognition of Lent. Some give up things like chocolate, soda, TV and the like. Others may give up deeper things like self-centeredness or reducing anger. Some will try to improve on things like their prayer time or attendance at worship.

Lent also reminds us of the brokenness in our relationship with God.

Prior to the service, each person entering the sanctuary was asked to take a piece of broken glass with them. Sharon offered a great sermon during this solemn time and at the end of the service, people were asked to bring their broken piece of glass with them as they came forward to receive their ashes. All the broken pieces were placed in baskets and collected when the service was over.

Something Beautiful

Sharon and I committed to taking the broken pieces of glass, representing the brokenness we all have with our relationship with God and making something beautiful, having it ready for Easter Sunday.

We asked for some assistance from Gilbert Winans, a staff member at the church, to build a frame for the broken glass. Sharon and I went to Hobby Lobby looking for supplies. Unfortunately, Hobby Lobby was not the best choice for the size of the project we were doing so we ended up at Lowes. We received some great assistance from one of the employees there on how to proceed with our project.

Plaster of Paris

The frame came in the shape of a cross that measured 2’x3’ with each arm being 8” wide. We used Plaster of Paris as the base to hold the glass, making a mosaic. If you don’t know this, Plaster of Paris dries pretty quickly. We only had about 20 minutes to arrange all the broken pieces of glass into the frame before it was getting too hard to do. As a result, some of the glass was simply placed on top of the plaster.

Epoxy Is Your Friend

Epoxy

Epoxy is amazing. You take two compounds, stir them together for about six minutes and pour it over your art piece. It’s self-leveling and you can use a brush, spatula or trowel to move it around. Since it is self-leveling, once you have your piece covered, you simply put the piece on a level surface and let it “level.”

Any pieces that we could not place into the plaster (there were only a few), were covered with the epoxy and are safely secure in the cross.

The Final Result

Easter Cross

We were able to show the piece during worship on Easter Sunday.

It has a lot of symbolism with this cross. It is comprised of all the brokenness in our lives, no matter what that brokenness is for us.

It shows that the power of Christ makes all things new and beautiful. Our brokenness can be made into something wonderful.

 

5 Ways We Work Together

handshake

New Series

Over the next several posts, I will be explaining how my wife and I work together on personal finances. I encourage you to work with your spouse to figure these areas out for yourself.

Partners

My wife and I are partners in our finances. We don’t always agree on everything but for the big stuff, we get along pretty well. Here are five areas that we work on together.

  1. Credit Cards – We don’t open new credit card accounts even if the stores offer us 15% off the price that day.
  2. Purchases – We discuss major purchases before we make them. The last major purchase was supposed to be for Christmas 2015. We haven’t made the purchase yet.
  3. Budget – We have a pretty good budget that works most of the time. Sometimes unexpected things happen and we need to adjust but it always seems to work out.
  4. Retirement Savings – Neither one of us is a financial planner by trade. Since we don’t study the stock market every day, we incorporate the help of those who are much better prepared.
  5. Vacations – It’s been a while since we have been on a vacation. We plan but don’t plan those.

Check out my wife’s blog

A little selfless plug for my wife’s blog.

She is a pastor in the United Methodist Church that has been keeping a blog covering the gospels of Mark and Luke during Lent this year.

I’m not sure what she is going to cover after Easter but I’ve been encouraging her to keep going. Some really good stuff over there.

Check it out.

Let Me Introduce You To My Friends Jim and Dorothy

Meet Jim and Dorothy Lipscomb

JimDot

I worked for almost 20 years with Jim as an Electrician at Kimberly-Clark in Paris, TX. I met Dorothy many times over the years and hear stories from their family. For a time, they took in foster children in addition to the children they already have. Kyle was one of them and he stole their hearts. They adopted him.

Jim was there when I was thinking about leaving work to go on disability after my brain surgery. He helped me get assistance with school when I finally made the plunge and left work for good. He was also instrumental in helping me work through the process of writing my book.

The Diagnosis

Jim was preparing to retire after a long career. He had a music ministry that he used at his church. I can remember nagging and prodding Jim to get his album made and distributed. He finally did it and I am happy to report that I have a signed copy of it.

Jim and Dorothy’s plan was to outfit their RV and travel around the country for the summer, sharing his music ministry and seeing if they liked the traveling lifestyle. About five days before Jim was to retire, he became very weak while working on the RV. After going to the doctor, the diagnosis was clear. Cancer.

Jim canceled his retirement plans and immediately began treatment for the disease.

I remember when Jim began his treatments at the hospital. Knowing they would be there for a while, they literally moved in – complete with computer and electric piano. Often, the nursing staff was treated to music coming from their room as Jim would sing and play the keyboard. You can hear some of Jim’s music here.

Tragedy

Kyle

Kyle had graduated high school. He was very active in his church and was having fun. I did not really know Kyle very much other than what Jim had talked about at work. One month after Jim’s diagnosis, Kyle was killed in a four-wheeler accident.

I remember going to the funeral. Lots of people went. I remember many kind words being said about Kyle but the thing that stood out for me the most was when Jim stood up and started praising God during one of the songs. Although they had lost a precious child, they found strength in their faith. It was a blessing to many people that day.

18 Months Later

MeJim

My wife, Sharon and I have met with Jim and Dorothy over the last year and a half on many occasions as he continues to go through various treatments. He had a bone marrow transplant from his brother that worked. The cancer is gone! However, the treatments caused many other issues because of his now compromised immune system. There have been some very difficult times for Jim.

Talking with Jim and Dorothy the other day, everyone agreed that no one that we worked with seems to be aware of the struggles that Jim has faced. My wife and I have been privileged to be able to go through this walk with them. We have seen him at home a couple of times but more often, we see them both when they are in Dallas.

Faith

Jim and Dorothy have such a strong faith. Even on the days when they feel like they cannot go on anymore, they turn to Jesus for strength. I love that Dorothy treasures the good days. She also praises God on the bad days. Often, she will share a scripture that is on her mind through Facebook. The love they share has no comparison.

I’ve learned many lessons from them about their faith as a priority in their lives.

Dorothy shared a song with me that I had not heard. “Though You Slay Me” by Shane and Shane. Their daughter shared it with them and they in turn shared it with me. As their daughter said, it is a hard song to accept but very relevant to them. I shared the song “Praise You In This Storm” by Casting Crowns. I think it says a lot about their story. No matter what the ups and downs are in his treatment, they will Praise Jesus every step of the way.

Thank you for taking the time to read this story of faith.

I would simply ask you to please keep my friends Jim and Dorothy in your prayers.

Things Happen. It’s A Money Thing.

Accidents Happen

On Sunday evening I was traveling home with my wife after attending our granddaughter’s second birthday party. We were about five miles from home when it happened. Driving across an intersection, we were involved in a head-on collision with another driver. Here is what the result was.

Image

We were extremely fortunate that we did not sustain any broken bones however, there is still a lot of pain and bruising going on. We were taken to the emergency room and treated. My wife ended up with a burnt hand from the airbag and some pain in her chest, shoulders, and back. I have pain in my chest, my left foot, right knee, left index finger, right thumb, arms, back and a small cut on my forehead.

We could not figure out how I had so much wrong with me until my wife saw the car (shown above), then we understood.

The other person went to jail after trying to “escape” from the hospital.

We are truly thankful that we basically walked away from this and pray for quick healing and for the other driver, that she may get the help she needs to keep something like this from happening again. Prayer is a big part of our lives. God is good all the time. We praise Him in the good times and the bad times. We do not believe that God “planned” for this to happen. We believe that people make choices and sometimes those choices affect a lot of other people.

Beyond Injury

It’s just a car – right? That is very true. It is something that can be replaced. Unfortunately, we had planned on keeping that car for another 4-5 years. It was paid for. We will need to get another car now instead. Insurance will only give us a certain amount for the car. From that, we will need to purchase another vehicle. Rather than using a majority of our savings to buy the new vehicle, we are choosing to take out a loan for part of the purchase price.

Why a loan? Because we can get the loan for 1.49% interest over 4-5 years. Of course, we will pay if off sooner than that. The other reason is so that we do not exhaust our savings in the process. I am estimating that we should be able to pay off the car in about two years instead of four. We will see how it goes.

Emergency Fund

I’ve talked about an emergency fund in a post titled Emergency! What Do I Do Now? The emergency fund is always a great idea but it usually is not set up to handle costs like this. We also have six months wages in savings but like I said, we do not want to completely destroy our savings account.

Medical Bills

Unfortunately, there is the concern that the other person does not have insurance. We do not know that information yet but the fact that she tried to “escape” from the hospital tells me that either she has been down this road before or she thought somehow, no one would find out who she was. Thankfully, we have full coverage on the vehicle and we also have medical coverage through the insurance. This will take away a lot of the sting even if the other person did not do what they were supposed to do.

The Most Important Thing

The most important thing is that we will recover. We will make more money, we will continue to work at what we each do, we will purchase another vehicle and our life will return to “normal” whatever that is. Although bad things happen in this life, we can praise God in the good times and the bad. Also, by having a handle on our finances, although this is inconvenient, we can handle the misfortunes.

If anyone is saddled with debt, then events like this become devastating. Major medical things cause tragedy to our finances as well as our personal well-being. Being prepared for “when” things happen is so important so that it does not completely disrupt your life. Things will happen. It truly is a matter of “when,” not “if” they will happen so be prepared.

Stay on top of your finances and accidents become just another bump in the road.

Thank you Lord, that no one was seriously hurt.