We starting a new year with a new series at axis called LIES. The idea behind the series is to allow us to look at lies we often believe in our life and then combat those lies with truth. It may seem like a strange series to open up the year, but as I was reflecting on it and praying about it, I couldn't think of any better way to start the new year than to be free. Jesus said in John 8:32 "the truth will set you free." I feel like so many teenagers (and adults for that matter) are held captive by lies ... lies they believe about themselves, lies they believe about others, or lies they believe about God. We've been held captive long enough allowing the enemy to have his way with us.
I started the night talking briefly about who the Bible calls our "enemy" ... Satan. He opposes us and his ONLY 2012 resolution is to ruin our lives. It's all he knows. It's all he does. And, the main way he tries to accomplish this is through deception ... getting us to believe something about ourselves that isn't true. Getting us to believe we need something that we truly do not. Getting us to believe something he offers will make us happier than what God offers. Jesus described him as the "father of lies" and that there is "no truth in him." So, any time he tempts us, he is tempting us with something that is not true. So important to know, but can also be so hard to grasp because, well, he's a deceiver and darn good at it.
The lie we talked about Wednesday night was "I can get even." So often in our lives if someone hurts us or offends us or takes something from us or gossips about us ... whatever it may be ... we often think that if we could just make them hurt the way they've hurt us, then we'll be happy. So, we hold on to a grudge, bitterness or unforgiveness until their debt to us is paid. If I can just get even, then all will be better. The truth is, we can never truly get even. We can never get paid back. For the one who's been abused, the sad truth is, that innocence will never be returned. For the one who has a parent who has abandoned the family because of an affair or neglect or whatever it may be ... they are not getting their family back. For the one who's been lied about, you can never get back all of the lies that were told. We never truly get paid back.
The verse we looked at was Ephesians 4:26 which says "Don't sin by letting anger control you. Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil." The idea behind that verse, I believe, is to hold on to anger for as short a time as possible. Why? Because anger gives the devil a foothold in our life. It allows him to gain traction, to get a grip, to dig in and exert his influence in our lives. The only way to break that power ... to break the power of anger in our life is to forgive ... to give up our right to get even ... to simply say "I have decided that your debt to me is cancelled."
We ended our night by giving our students an opportunity to write down their grudges, their bitterness, some anger that they were hold on to. They wrote it on a piece of paper that simply said "I choose to give up my right to get even. This will not have a hold over me any more." What was written on those papers was heart breaking but freeing at the same time. I believe many students left our night the most free they've felt in a long time. I took those papers home, my wife and I prayed over them, and then we burned them up in our fire place. Below is a picture of those "grudges" being burned.
Next Week: God Couldn't Use Me