People are often looking for a simple solution to the problems they face in life.  This short story, written by Portia Nelson, remains one of the easiest to understand metaphors I have ever seen.  It has such profound implications for those who decide to make application of the powerful truth it contains.

Chapter I
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

Chapter II
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V
I walk down another street.

366 Degrees by OMI Strategic Partnership

God’s strategy to reach the world has always been through relationships.  Over and over again we see how Christ’s impact on a person was always felt by family and friends.  It was experienced by those in their spheres of influence.  Whether it was a swindler named Zacchaeus (Luke 19), a royal official with a dying son (John 4), a tax collector named Matthew (Mark 2), a Centurion named Cornelius (Acts 10), a businesswoman named Lydia (Acts 16), or a recently unemployed Philippian jailor (Acts 16), the impact of what God had done was felt most by family and friends.  

You have been invited to align with the mission of Christ to impact the eternal destiny of someone you love!  Jesus Christ has great things in store for you.  He wants to use you to change the world.  Changing the world may seem like a daunting task until you realize that you don’t have to change the entire world…you just start with your world.  We all have a unique responsibility\opportunity to share in Christ’s mission (See Matthew 28:16-20) right where we live.

God has called all of us to partner with Him on this mission to redeem a lost world.  What an honor it is to partner with the Savior of the world!  This is not something to be taken lightly.  Our tendency is to start making excuse and sidestepping the opportunity to change our world for Christ by saying things like, “I can’t do it.  I have tried before and failed.  I am not very good with words.  I still have a lot of questions myself.”  Some even give into satan’s big lie wondering how they can influence someone else for Christ after doing some of the things they have done in the past.  Surely their past history has disqualified them from being used by God.

Not according to scripture.  The truth is, with your story, the Word of God, and a sensitivity to God’s Spirit, you can develop the ability to impact my world for Christ.  It happens as you begin to realize that “Witness” is not something I do, it is who I am.

Sharing Christ with our world must be a Christian’s top priority.  It won’t just happen.  We must be intentional.  Just remember, you have been recruited by Jesus himself to help change the world, beginning right where you live, and it happens one person at a time, one conversation at a time, one relationship at a time.





We’ve been considering keys to genuine forgiveness.  Last time we determined that forgiveness begins by relinquishing my right to get even.  In Hebrews 12:15 we are told to “Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives.” (TLB)  Like a small root that grows into a great tree, bitterness springs up in our hearts and overshadows our relationships.  A “poisonous root of bitterness” comes when we allow disappointment or hurts to grow into resentment, or when we nurse grudges over past hurts.

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I am so thankful that the Spirit of God can heal the hurt that causes bitterness in life if we will allow Him.  One of the greatest avenues of healing is forgiveness.  Unfortunately, an unforgiving spirit leads to resentment that can be passed on from generation to generation.  The truth is you don’t just make yourself miserable.  When you’re bitter, you make everybody else around you miserable too.  It is like you are passing on your bitterness as an inheritance.

Forgiveness not only means giving up my right to get even, it also involves responding to evil with good.  In Luke 6:27-28 Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”  There are several key words in those two verses that are vital elements of forgiveness.  Do you see them?  We are to love, do good, bless, and pray for.  Also, be sure and notice that these things are all directed toward our enemies, those who hate us, those who curse us, and those who mistreat us.

You choose to return good for evil.  That sounds like something Jesus to would do.  As a matter of fact, that’s what He did.  Remember when Jesus prayed from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”?  Jesus was responding to evil with good.  You will know you’ve genuinely forgiven somebody when you can pray for them in this way.

Today, we can decide to respond to evil with good.  The way to do that is by asking God to fill us with His love.  Most of us don’t have the capacity to live like this on our own.  We need God’s help.  We need the love of Jesus Christ to fill us.  When God’s love fills us, He enables us to love like only He can.  God wants to enable us to do what we could never do on our own.  More next week…

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Last time we considered some myths regarding forgiveness.  So, what does real forgiveness look like anyway?  In Romans 12:19 we are told to leave revenge in God’s hands.  When I am ready to forgive, I decide to relinquish my right to get even.  That may sound unfair, because it is.  Forgiveness isn’t fair.  Was it fair for Jesus Christ to die for your sins and mine?  We’re the ones who sinned.  The Bible says the wages of sin is death.  The blood price had to be paid for our sin.  Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God died in our place.  He is the One who offers us the free gift of eternal life.  Forgiveness is a gift of God’s grace.  There is nothing fair about it.

It is interesting to see how we always seem to want justice for everyone else, but we desire forgiveness and grace for ourselves.  When it comes to forgiving somebody else, our immediate response is, “that’s not fair!”  But you never hear anybody asking God to be fair with them.  Nobody says, “God, go ahead and give me what I deserve.”  That is because we don’t want God to be fair with us.  We want God to be gracious to us.  We want God to forgive us.

Forgiveness means I relinquish my right to get even.  This is the starting point to forgiveness.  If you don’t do this, you easily fall into the trap of bitterness.  No matter how much bitterness you possess and no matter how much resentment you hold on to, it isn’t going to change the past.  All of that resentment, and all of that bitterness, and all of those grudges you’ve held on to, they won’t bring anything positive to your future.  Resentment will never change the past.  It will just mess up today.

Many times people hold resentment in their hearts and the people they resent don’t have a clue.  They’re going along through life, having fun, doing their thing, getting on with their future.  And all the while you’re the one stuck in the past.

When you hold on to resentment, aren’t you really allowing those same people who hurt you in the past to continue hurting you today?  They cannot continue to hurt you unless you choose to hold on to the hurt.  Why would you do that?  Why would you hold on to a hurt that cannot be changed or controlled?  All you’re doing is making yourself miserable.  So you relinquish your right to get even.  More next time…

How do you handle it when somebody hurts you?  Do you keep score when you have been hurt?  Do you hold a grudge or stockpile your hurts?  In 1 Corinthians 13:5 we are reminded that “Love…keeps no record of wrongs.”  When we keep a record of wrongs it’s like we are saving up ammunition so that when others hurt us, we have an arsenal we can use to hurt them back.  But according to the scripture, that is not what love does.  Instead, love forgives.


forgive_by_onlycuriousThere are so many myths and misconceptions about forgiveness.  Some think that forgiveness is conditional.  People say things like, “I will forgive you if…” or “I will forgive you when…”  Real forgiveness is unconditional.  It’s not earned or deserved.  Genuine forgiveness cannot be bargained for, bartered for, or paid for.  Forgiveness is not even based on the promise that the person will never hurt you again.  Genuine forgiveness is unconditional.

Some worry that forgiveness minimizes the seriousness of my hurt.  This is another myth.  Forgiveness in no way implies that what happened was not a big deal.

It’s not saying that what happened didn’t hurt.  To forgive is not to diminish the hurt or the offense in any way. Others mistakenly assume that forgiveness means resuming a relationship without change.  Restoring relationship and forgiveness are two different things.  They are not one and the same.  You may forgive, but there could be circumstances where it is impossible or unwise to restore the relationship.

It should also be noted that forgiveness does not necessarily mean forgetting about what happened.  Maybe you have been afraid to forgive somebody who hurt you because you don’t want to forget what happened.  Maybe you don’t think you can forget about it.  You are probably right.  But there is something better than forgetting anyway and that is remembering but realizing that God is in control and He is still at work bringing good from the bad that happens to us (see Romans 8:28).

Just think back to the cross.  Do you think the disciples could have imagined anything good coming from the crucifixion of God’s Son?  Think about what they must have been feeling as they saw Jesus hanging there dying on the cross.  But God was at work.

You still remember what happened to you, but you can choose, with God’s help and by His grace, to let it go.  The key to forgiveness is not in forgetting.  It is in learning to see what happened through the lens of grace.


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Belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is foundational to the Christian faith.  You have to ask yourself “did the resurrection really happen?”  Some would love to argue against the resurrection, but study the facts.  The disciples didn’t just take their belief in the resurrection to the grave.  Their confidence in the resurrection of Christ is what put them in the grave.  So, what do you do with that?

At some point, all of us have to ask, could what Jesus said be true?  And if it is, what am I going to do about it?  Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)  You don’t have to agree with Jesus’ claim.  You don’t have to believe it, but Jesus said, “I am the way”.  He did not say, I am one of many ways.  He said, “I am the way”.  He said “I am the truth”.  He did not say that He was part of the truth or one of many truths.  He said, “I am the truth and the life” and “no one comes to the Father except through me”.

No matter how you look at it, this is a very exclusive claim from Jesus.  He said other things like, I and the Father are one.  You only get to Him through me.  There is no other way to heaven.  Mohammad didn’t make these claims.  Buddha didn’t make these claims.  Confucius didn’t make these claims.  Only Jesus made that claim.

Study the evidence.  Take a look at what Jesus taught and the miracles He performed.  Consider the resurrection and the powerful claims that He made.  Who do you say that He is?

Is Jesus a liar?  If that is the case, He was a pretty good liar.  He fooled all the disciples into leaving their homes, their families, and their livelihood and then to go to their grave proclaiming faith in Him.

If what Jesus said was not true, then maybe He was certifiably crazy on the level of David Koresh or Jim Jones.  Or maybe, just maybe, He is who He said; The Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior of the World.  There are really only three options; Liar, Lunatic, or Lord?

Who is Jesus?  How do you answer that question verbally, intellectually, or by the way that you live?  You really need to give this question, and the answer, your thoughtful consideration.  It is the most important question you will ever answer in life.



What you believe is important.  Because what you believe determines how you behave.  I am convinced that beliefs have eternal significance.  If that is the case, then discovering and living the truth is something that matters more than anything else in life.  In fact, discovering truth and applying truth in your daily life should be a priority worthy of your time and attention.

Nobody wants to base their life on a lie.  That’s why we must be willing to invest the time and energy to determine and to apply truth in every corner of our lives.  As you go through life, different people are going to tell you different things.  Not all of them are true.  When it comes to matters of eternal significance, this is important enough for you to seek the truth for yourself, don’t you think?

This is bigger than what your grandma said, even though what grandma said may be true.  You need to find out for yourself.  It is possible that grandma might have believed a lie.  Don’t you think that if there is anything in life you want to get right it’s this?

We can all agree that one day we will die.  That is one of the few certainties of life.  We will spend eternity someplace.  So, what does it take to experience eternal life?

To begin your exploration, I would like to invite you to consider four aspects of the life of Jesus.  Take an objective look at Jesus Christ and consider what He taught.  No matter what you think about Christianity, you’ve got to admit that if people lived the way Jesus taught, this world would be a much better place.

Look at the miracles Jesus performed.  Could it have been that through the power of God that Jesus performed so many miracles?  Even Jesus’ enemies couldn’t deny the validity of these miracles.  They couldn’t explain what He did.  They just wanted him to stop.

And then there was the greatest miracle of all, the resurrection, which validates all that Jesus said and did.  Jesus was God in the flesh and became sin for us.  He shed His blood and died in our place as the sacrifice for our sins.  The Bible says that on the third day God raised him from the dead.  This is what sets Christianity apart from every other religion of the world.  Did it really happen?  Study the facts, then decide for yourself, what do you believe?



All of us must choose a foundation for truth for our lives.  You have to take a leap of faith in some direction.  We all place our faith in someone or something.  I have chosen to place my faith and trust in Jesus Christ.  Jesus’ birth was the fulfillment of hundreds of years of prophecy.  He predicted His own death, burial and resurrection, and then He pulled it off.  No one else has ever done that.  I have studied the evidence and I am 100% at peace with basing my life on the foundation of God’s Word and I have placed my trust in the shed blood of Jesus Christ for my eternal salvation.

I am not a Christian because of my heritage, because of convenience, because of peer pressure, or any other reason apart from the fact that I have studied the evidence, I believe, with all of my heart, that the message of Christianity is true.

I am not saying that Christians have always gotten everything right.  There are things in the history of Christianity that I am not proud of.  Christians have disappointed me personally.  The church is not perfect, but that all has to do with people.  My confidence and trust is in Jesus Christ, not His followers.  How about you?  Where have you placed your trust and confidence?  And on what basis have you made that decision?

There can be elements of truth in many different religions of the world, but they cannot all be equally true.  For example, most world religions teach that life is sacred.  Most religions would teach that there is more to life than this life.  In most world religions there are consistencies in regard to morality, ethics, and standards of behavior.  There is a degree of truth in most major world religions, but it would be impossible to say they could all be true because they make claims that are inconsistent with one another.

One major world religion does not believe in a god and they don’t believe in any type of eternal existence.  Another speaks of an impersonal god and can only be approached through countless sub-deities, statutes, or idols.  Neither can provide hope for forgiveness of sin or any kind of supernatural involvement in the lives of individuals.

Christianity, on the other hand, teaches that there is the potential of complete forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ, and there is hope, counsel and support from a very personal God, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  These are very different perspectives that cannot be equally true.  More next time…




Paul and Silas had been beaten up and thrown in jail.  There they were in prison and about midnight and they decided to have a worship service.  They start singing hymns and praising God.  Not what you might expect.  According to scripture, God sent an earthquake that miraculously broke open the prison doors.  The chains fell off all of the prisoners, including Paul and Silas, and all were free to escape.

As you might expect, the jailer freaked out.  He knew he would be put to death if all of the prisoners escaped.  No job security there.  The jailer had pulled out his own sword and was about to kill himself when Paul shouted, “Don’t do it!  We are all still here!” (See Acts 16:16-34)  The jailer then asked Paul and Silas one of the most important questions that a person can ever ask.  He wanted an answer to one simple question.  “What must I do to be saved?”

“What must I do to be saved?”  The answer to that question depends on who you ask.  You’ll get a lot of different answers to this question today.  You’ll hear a lot of different opinions because there are so many different beliefs.  The problem is that all beliefs cannot be equally true.

Many people today often do not embrace the idea of absolute truth, especially when it comes to spiritual matters and issues of eternity.  You will often hear people say things like, “It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you are sincere.”  Anything that is undesirable is discarded, whether it is true or not.  Many argue that it is intolerant and narrow-minded to think there is only one way to Heaven. There is a definite perception today that truth is in the eye of the beholder.  Some contend that we’re all on different paths, but we are headed to the same destination anyway.  Others are convinced that if you’re sincere, you will be fine, no matter what you believe.

More and more people are adopting belief systems like these.  Are they true?  They tell us that approximately 53% of Americans believe that if a person is generally good, he’ll go to heaven.  Is that right?  About 57% of evangelical church members said they believe many religions can lead to eternal life.  Can this be true?  Are all world religions basically the same and mostly true?

Next time we will dig deeper as we explore the answer to the age old question, “What must I do to be saved?”




Last time we began with the question, what is truth?  Satan’s goal is not to get you to turn 180 degrees away from the truth.  The goal is to move you just a few degrees, maybe as little as just one degree from the truth.  One degree away from the truth can dramatically alter the trajectory of your entire life.

I read recently that for every single degree a pilot flies off course, he or she will miss their targeted landing spot by 92.15 feet for every mile they fly.  Let’s say you decided to start at the equator and fly around the earth, one degree off would land you almost 500 miles off target.  And the longer you travel off course, the further you will drift away from the intended target.  One degree off could be the difference between, seeing your family at the other end of your journey, or using your seat as a flotation device in the middle of the ocean.

In flight and in life, we need an accurate compass (Source of Truth) to guide us.  We need something that is stable when the shifting winds of culture blow.  We need a dependable point of reference that will hold us steady.  Here is why this is so important.  Over the course of a lifetime, if you forfeit truth for beliefs that are “close” to the truth, you will end up a very long way from the truth.  The danger is, if you are not careful, you will exchange the Truth of God for a lie.

Paul spoke to this hazard in Romans 1:18.  “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness…”  Then, in verse 22 he said, “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools…”

People today claim to be wise.  We see this in our culture every day.  It is just like Rome.  We’re enlightened!  We know more than our parents.  We have all kinds of information at our fingertips.  More knowledge is available to us than any generation to have lived.  “Although they claim to be wise”, scripture says “they became fools.”  And here is where everything fell apart.  “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised.” (Romans 1:25)

Next time we will take a look at two of satan’s greatest weapons in the battle for truth in American culture today.