What do we do with old sins?

Learn from them?

Try to minimize them?

Beat ourselves with them?

Worry over them?

Ignore them?

Live in regret from them?

The Bible tells us our response to sin, which is to repent and then move forward from them, leaving our sins behind.

But there is an even bigger question.

What does God do with our old sins?!

Tim Challies gives us this wonderfully biblical and encouraging view of what God does with the sins of his people!

What we will not find on this list is that God,

Reminds us of them

Holds them over our head

Pulls away from us because of them

 We should have God’s view of sin, when it appears in our life.

And, we should have God’s view of sin, when it has been washed away!


Do you have negative thoughts about another believer?

Perhaps they have treated you poorly, or maybe you disagree with something they believe, or with the way they live.

Let’s assume you have a correct perspective about their faults; they should make changes and they should act differently.

You are just in your assessment of what they are lacking.

However there is something more to this picture that should enter into our heart.

Does your perspective toward that believer include consideration of God’s heart toward them?

No one knows the reality of that person better than God. He sees what you see, plus every other word, action and motivation of their heart. In other words, God sees the absolute worst that is in them, because He sees it all and His standards are perfectly pure.

And yet, God not only saved that person, He chose them – He not only accomplished their salvation, He initiated their salvation.

They are never outside of God’s gracious thoughts.

The blood of Jesus that covered your sin, also covers their sin

The burdensome cry of Jesus on the cross included the weight of their guilt, as well as yours

God holds them along with you in His hand and has given them the same promise, to never leave or forsake them

He loves you both with the same love that He has for His Son

The same Holy Spirit lives in both of you forever

Neither of you will ever be apart from God’s eternal grace

God’s commitment to finish His work of sanctification rests on both of your lives

You will both flourish forever in the glorious kingdom of Christ

The fellow believer that is a burr in your heart, is a precious child in God’s heart.

What do you think of that?

From this point on, how will this knowledge affect your attitude toward them and your words about them?



Some time ago, someone in my church sent me an email describing how a dear friend had broken their relationship and was being hurtful toward them. The person who contacted me was not only hurt – they we now struggling with anger.

Since we are all mistreated by people and we will struggle with the hurt and the anger, I hope these thoughts will be a help to you. This I know for sure – God will is there right now to be all you need!


Thank you for sharing your hurt with me. God is pleased when we open up and share burdens with one another. One of the reasons He established His Church is so we can practice biblical community. It is good you have been willing to share your heart. 

It is also good that you recognize the anger struggling to find a foothold in you is something that needs to be drained out. Your conviction in this is not only an evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in you. This is also evidence that your heart is responsive to God which is a wonderful reality about God in you!

Here are a few suggestions for overcoming your hurt and the struggle with anger that has come with it.

1)  Talk to God conversationally and in detail about the whole situation. He fully understands how you feel (think how many people reject and misuse Him every day). Talking openly with people is good – doing this with God is even better. Because He is a real person who loves you, He will care for you as you come to Him.

2)  Go to the gospel! This is where we are meant to find wisdom, grace, strength and comfort. Think about what God did through the gospel for you. Consider what Christ went through. Remind yourself what you now have through the cross. As we so often say at Greentree, “preach the gospel to yourself”.

3)  It may help to recognize that forgiving the person who hurt you doesn’t mean you haven’t been hurt or the situation doesn’t deserve anger. Forgiveness comes from knowing God has forgiven the entirety of our many sins against Him and others. We will always stand forgiven of far more from God than we are called to forgive in others as we see by Jesus story in Matthew 18:21-35.

4)  Put this person and your hurt in God’s hands. Only God can change them. Allow God to be your defender, He will do a better job than we ever could.

Since you continue to be treated in a hurtful way, this is a process you will probably need to repeat multiple times. Be encouraged by Jesus example in Matthew 26:36-44. When he was confronted by the impending burden of the cross, Jesus went to the Father three times, praying the same prayer for comfort and strength. If Jesus went to his Father as many times as he needed, so should we.

5)  In reality, your offender’s actions against you are actions against God. Knowing this helps us replace anger with compassion. This person is responding this way, because their heart is not filled with God. They have no understanding of His deep love for them or His lavish grace available to them. What is missing in this person’s life is not simply sad, it’s tragic.

6)  It will help to pray daily for this person’s salvation. This will help keep their sins against you in the context of their need for grace.

7)  Continue to share your struggle as needed with supportive believers (your small group if you are in one – I hope you are). They will be ministers of God comfort to you and they will pray for you too.

I am thankful for this opportunity to share with you. Know that I am already praying for you. More wonderful is that the Bible tells us the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ are both ever interceding on behalf of those who love God. I hope you will contact me whenever you feel it would be helpful

I am grateful to be your pastor!




Sometimes a picture says enough.

This is how God forgives us

    I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,
    and I will not remember your sins.  Isaiah 43:25

Is this how we forgive others?


Conflicts, hurts and offenses take place in all significant relationships.

Sometimes these hurts tear our relationships apart. This is always a grievous result – especially among believers.

God makes it clear that reconciliation is the only biblical response we have for conflict.

Recently I received a note from someone who knew God was leading them to step forward in reconciliation.

I was overjoyed to receive this note and continue to praise God for it.

In fact, I thought their note was so thoroughly saturated in a biblical perspective that I asked permission to post it here. They graciously agreed.

Please read this letter slowing in order to identify the many biblical principles that flow through it.

Dear Pastor Kyle,

It’s been quite a few years since we spoke last and for almost as long I have often thought about the way we parted company; certainly not on the best of terms.

At the time I was incensed that you accused me of having a critical heart. In my arrogance I took that as a personal attack. Regardless of however it was meant or what basis in fact it may have had, the cause of your statement was what I said to you. I know that now. I have known it for years.

Over the passing years I have often though about sending this email, but did not do so. This morning during my devotional time, I read Matthew 5:23-24, particularly “First be reconciled to your brother.”

It immediately brought this up in my heart again and so I am sending this email as a way to say I am sorry for the things I said and the inferences I made. I was wrong to do so then. I was wrong to wait this long to apologize.

As I have continued to mature in my relationship with Christ, I’ve grown in the understanding that humility may be manifest in many ways. Few ways are better than admitting when one is wrong and showing the respect and love associated with reconciliation. So I ask your forgiveness for my words and actions.

I pray for all of you often. (We) will always be in Jesus debt for calling us. We are also in debt to many at Greentree, particularly you and your father Gene, for bringing us to the point of understanding what it means to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

I wish you all love and success with your work for Christ.

 Is there someone you need to step toward in reconciliation?

Are you willing to ask God for grace in how best to do this?

We are praying that God uses these words to encourage, inspire and guide all of us to be people of reconciliation!


In our preaching series on the Sermon on the Mount, we recently examined Jesus teaching on how we should respond with grace and love to our enemies and those who misuse us.

So when I was reading the In-Depth Studies newsletter, the section on Forgiveness caught my eye.

In-Depth Studies is a teaching ministry founded by my good friend Geoff Volker. I met Geoff in 1999 during my first trip to Belarus. Geoff introduced me to the Gatovo Church and I inherited the Romans class at the Minsk Bible College from him. Geoff has a dear place in my heart for many reasons.

Here are his recent thoughts on the important issue of Forgiveness:

1. We are commanded to forgive others. Ephesians 4:32

2. Since forgiveness is a command it cannot be a feeling but an act of the will that chooses not to use the hurt done to us in a way that does not honor our Lord.

3. Having a forgiving feeling toward someone who wronged us is not a requirement for forgiveness. Once must not act on that feeling either in our mind or in our speech or actions.

4. We are commanded to love our enemies. Matthew 5:43-48

5. This command to love our enemies clearly includes those who wrong us and yet do not ask for forgiveness.

6. True reconciliation will not take place until the person who wronged us asks for forgiveness, and yet in our mind they are not our enemy.

7. We are to do good to those who have wronged us but have not asked for forgiveness.
Romans 12:14-21

8. The idea that we can forgive someone yet still not want to restore our relationship with him is a biblically unthinkable idea. 1 John 4:19-21


“Guilty of murder in the first degree”

That was the result of my recent three week experience with jury duty.

Serving on a murder trial was saddening, fascinating and tedious.  

It was also sobering.

Many times I felt the weight of two possible and sickening results: that we might declare an innocent man guilty, or that we might allow a guilty man to go free.  

Thankfully, the entire jury felt confident in the justice of our verdict.

As I sat though this experience, my thoughts often made comparisons between what was taking place before me and the final courtroom scene of God’s eternal judgment.

Here are some of those thoughts:

1.  In God’s courtroom, there is no confusing legalese or bureaucratic wrangling.

Every, thought, word, deed and motivation has been recorded. God will lay out the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!

2.  In God’s courtroom, there will be no jury.

The only voice that counts for eternity comes from the Lord of Eternity. The flawed and arrogant opinions that people utter now, will be swallowed up in fearful silence when that Judge appears.

3.  For every believer, our defense attorney is Jesus Christ.

And He has never lost a case placed into His care.

4.  God who is our Judge, will do more than declare each believer innocent

He will pull out the papers that also proclaim our adoption as His precious child and heir.

5.  In God’s court, perfect justice will be done!

Without exception, the guilt of every sin will be punished. Either that punishment will at that moment be placed on the sinners who still hold their guilt – – Or, God will declare that the penalty was already paid in full by Jesus on the cross

Do you know what will take place for you when God calls us before His court of justice?

You can have complete confidence that you will walk out free!

Because Jesus has paid the penalty required for sinners.

And even now, Heaven cries out,

 “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9)

 “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

 But if you ignore God wonderful and available grace,

 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”  (John 3:36)

 “How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3)


On the day Debbie and I were married; friends went around our outdoor reception with one of those big old clunky video cameras and asked people to share their advice for the newlyweds. After our honeymoon we received the fun gift of that video tape.

There were many words which meant a lot to us, (and a few that were forgettable). However two comments stood out to us. Actually it was one comment shared by two different people. Those two individuals happened to be our mothers! Without knowing what the other had said, they both gave the same advice which was to quote Ephesians 4:26:

 “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger”

Over the years there have been many lessons in our marriage that have been slowly (by me) learned. But I can say that we have been faithful to keep the wisdom of Ephesians 4:26. That by itself has protected our marriage from lists of offenses or hurts taking root and becoming bitterness.

Debbie in her wisdom, has taken this counsel a step further and faithful shares the words “I love you” before we go to sleep. When I have been in sour moods, those words are almost magical in the immediate affect they have had on my heart. I am reminded that yes I do love her, and I have only good reason to act that way.

I hope you will follow the good counsel of our mothers AND God’s word.



I am reading Paul Tripp’s book “A Quest for More” for the second time, it is an excellent book. Tripp shows how living for ourselves is settling for a small and meager kingdom. Living for Christ is truly Big Kingdom living!

On of the chapters deals with forgiveness, giving it and most of all, asking for it. This list from the end of the chapter gives us a healthy perspective about seeking forgiveness.

Every time you ask for forgiveness, you get it right.

Every time you ask for forgiveness, you step out of your little kingdom and into his.

Every time you ask for forgiveness, you say that the Bible’s description of you and everyone around you is accurate.

Every time you ask for forgiveness, you declare that your life does not belong to you, but has been created for the purpose of Another.

Every time you ask for forgiveness, you say that selfishness is your biggest sin and that grace is your only hope.

Every time you ask for forgiveness, you are reminding yourself who you are and what you truly need.

Every time you ask for forgiveness, you refuse to be comfortable with your rebellion.

Every time you ask for forgiveness, you recognize that the biggest problems you face in life exist inside of you, not outside of you.

Every time you ask for forgiveness, you are praying that God’s kingdom would come and his will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Every time you ask for forgiveness, you make the kingdom of God visible for others to see.

Every time you ask for forgiveness, you are worshipping the King of forgiveness and encouraging others to do the same.

Every time you ask for forgiveness, your sight is accurate, your head is clear, and your heart is in the right place.

Every time you ask for forgiveness, you cry out for an eternity when forgiveness has finished its work once and for all.

Every time you ask for forgiveness, you tell yourself that for all the good you have experienced in God’s kingdom, there is still more that is needed and more to come.


“Is there someone we can count on?”

You have heard the saying; “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. We can add this disclaimer: Who you know, better be in power!

When it comes to having a hope for heaven, whose name carries weight?

Buddha claims he discovered the way to ‘enlightenment’

Islam follows Muhammad, saying he was the final prophet of God

Mormons teach that Joseph Smith received a newer revelation

Christians follow Jesus Christ; we believe he alone can save

“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven, given among men, by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12)

What are we to do with these different opinions?

Can we just choose any name and expect to get the same results?

Do all these opinions reveal that no one really knows?

There are three questions that need an answer

#1. Why is any help needed to enter heaven?

Because in our present condition heaven is a closed door

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)

For those who are thinking, ‘but I’m good person’; have you ever lied, stolen, lusted, been unfair, gossiped, been self-centered, or ignored the needs of others? We all have done many things we don’t want others to see

God who is perfectly just, must punish every sin. Hell is just as real as heaven

“The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23)

Nothing we have done or can do, will change the reality that we are sinners

In our name we cannot enter heaven; our sin is always in way

Some people are offend by this and for that reason they reject it. But I ask you, does our rejecting God’s judgment change it? Isn’t it wiser to find out what God says will enable us into His kingdom

#2.  Why does the Bible say Jesus is the only name that can save us?

Because only Jesus has taken action to remove our sin problem

The founders of human religions merely give us directions saying these are things you should do

Jesus came and did what was needed to save us

Jesus is the only person who lived a sinless life

Jesus died and took the Father’s wrath on himself, to pay the penalty God requires for our sin

When we put our faith in Christ, he removes our guilt

“The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23)

Human religions have no power over sin, death or heaven

What is the proof Jesus can exercise power in these areas?

Only Jesus has risen from the dead!

Buddha was cremated and there are temples that hold his ashes

Joseph Smith is buried in Illinois

Mohammed’s grave is a shrine visited by millions

Jesus grave is empty; he is alive to save those who cry out to him!

#3. What keeps you from asking Jesus who lives, to forgive and save you?

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13)

Jesus said, whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37)

Christ will fully and forever save all who trust in him

Right now, are you willing to confess your sin and ask Jesus to forgive you?

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9)

If you asked Christ to forgive you, or if you have any questions, I would love to hear from you. I am also glad to send you materials that may be helpful.