Mishpachah Yeshua Newsletter

A Newsletter To The Family Of Jesus From Restoration Ministries

The Hebraic family is not simply an individual or private matter.
Rather, it is an institution in which the whole community has a stake.
Thus, the Hebrew word “mishpachah,” meaning family, not only refers to parents and children,
but to the whole extended family worldwide in the body of “Yeshua”—our Jesus.

[click here for a printable copy]

April 2000 Topic: Forgiving Others (Part 2)

Dear Friends,
This letter continues our previous discussion of forgiveness. In the last letter we asked you to rid yourself and your family of bitterness. In this letter we want to highlight how you might be  enabling others to remain bitter.
When I first began to follow Jesus, I heard a story that illustrates carrying someone else’s baggage of bitterness:
“A soldier was walking down the road on a very hot day, carrying all of his equipment with him. He passed by a merciful man who offered to help him carry his heavy gear. As they began to walk and talk, the good Samaritan found that the soldier was carrying everything that had ever been issued to him—his older, worn out shoes and uniforms —things he should have discarded. At that point the Samaritan realized he was supporting the man’s foolishness.”

If you care for other people, you’ve most likely been caught in a similar satanic trap. You may be unintentionally enabling someone to carry a burden of bitterness.
People who care tend to sympathize with other people’s hurts and misfortunes, and they want to do something about the painful situation. In most instan-ces this is a noble response, except when it comes to helping a bitter person. For instance, unwarranted commiseration thrust upon those who may have had difficult childhoods, such as adopted children, children conceived out of wedlock, or children of divorce, may convince an individual that he or she “got the short end of the stick.” Your personal projection that you’d feel bitter given the same circumstances doesn’t help anyone climb out of their bitter pit!
Sympathetic people who try to make up for the perceived pain with their kindness may be perpetuating bitterness. Check yourself: Is your sympathy actually your cry for someone to sympathize with you in your hidden, bitter memories? Later in this letter we’ll discuss how to help effectively.

God’s Grace to Carry
Your Own Cross
Sympathizing with bitter people is like carrying their cross for them. Carrying someone else’s bitter cross, however, will inevitably cause you to take up an offense on their behalf; that is, you’ll carry their bitter cross with them against someone who has never hurt you. You’ll find yourself in the wounded person’s bitter prison.
Taking up an offense
A wonderful, caring young lady in a singles' group had a difficult time with male relationships. As Sue talked with her, we discovered that she harbored bitterness toward her dad because of the way he had treated her kid brother when they were growing up. Many of her Christian friends were aware of her bitterness, but they only felt sorry for her. With Sue’s counsel she repented, and shortly afterward, the Lord brought a fine man into her life to marry.
Fifty years of bitterness...
The wife of a man with whom I served in the Navy suffered frequent bouts of bitterness. A dark cloud hung over her home and she always seemed ready to argue with any man her husband invited over.
While on a trip several years after I left the Navy, Sue and I stayed with that woman’s parents. I asked them where the bitterness that was destroying their daughter’s marriage could have begun. Without hesitation the mother admitted, “It’s come from me and the bitterness I have toward my father-in-law. He didn’t share his estate equally with all his sons, and my husband got the least.” I asked her where her father-in-law was. She stated with anger, “He died fifty years ago.” She then admitted her bitterness toward her husband for not being angry or bitter toward his father! 
This woman had been in a Bible-preaching church for most of her life. Many of her friends were aware of her bitterness, but they just felt sorry for her. Contrary to popular belief, sorrow for a bitter person does nothing to bring healing.

For Healing: Reflect On Your Past
But Hold No Regret
In the Hebrew Bible, God often encouraged His people to reflect with Him about their past. Reflection gave them the opportunity to review Who He is and who they were. God wants us to reflect with Him about our past to remind us of His faithfulness and His forgiveness. He desires that we gain wisdom for the future by learning from our past mistakes.
When your reflection surfaces a regret or painful memory, our Lord is revealing that you need His healing. If you refuse to reflect, you’ll fail to press on in life. In fact, you’ll repeat the same mistakes of those who hurt you! 
To not reflect on the past condemns you to repeat past mistakes. There is wisdom to be found in reflection. The first rule of wisdom: Don’t make the same mistake twice.
In your reflections, God doesn’t want you to dwell on the reasons you were hurt or analyze your suffering. As you help others, if you allow them to remain bitter or full of regret, you’re making it that much harder for healing to take place. Satan wants you to find someone to blame for your hurt because an ounce of blame can stop a million pounds of forgiveness.
   Face your hurt or regret—
    Forgive or be forgiven—  
    Press on to help others!!!!

Ministering From Your Hurt
For years psychiatrists have led this nation in suicide. In fact, many people have gone  into psychiatry to find healing for their own emotional hurt. To their dismay, however, they discover that psychiatry without the power of Jesus will fail to bring them wholeness.
Many Christians, too, try to minister from their unhealed hurt. Tragically, the unhealed are used by Satan to keep others locked in a bitter prison. An unhealed person who tries to minister to someone else is really a jailkeeper for the bitter. Their sympathetic ear throws away the key to the cell.
Have you ever observed that seemingly merciful people are often the most bitter? Their mercy is a ‘false mercy’, not God’s mercy. Their concern for others is a balm to cover over their own hurt; at the same time, it hinders others from finding true freedom.

Your Suffering Has New Purpose
If you are born from above and have forgiven those who have hurt you, then you are reborn: you are born all over again! (See Restoring the Early Church, pp. 221-224, for more on this.) The words “born again” often are spoken too quickly. Try saying them with a pause after “born” and an emphasis on “again”. “I am born.....again.” This means that you have been reborn into our Father’s family for His purposes.
In His unique way our Lord intends to use your past suffering redemptively in the lives of others. It may sound strange, but your healed wounds are His means for you to show compassion to others.
Years ago at the retreat center, I received letters and phone calls from different church leaders I had helped, each with the same message: “They did a movie about you: Hoosiers!” A few years after the movie was released, I had a chance to watch it. I cried and laughed all the way through it. I completely identified with the main character.
In the movie, Coach Dale, who had been removed from his college basketball coaching position years before for striking a player, is redeemed by an old friend and given a chance to coach a high school basketball team in an Indiana farm community. He recruits as an assistant the town drunk, “Shooter”, who had been a great basketball player in his youth. But Coach issues one condition: Shooter must stop drinking. Shooter’s son is on the team and is embittered toward his alcoholic dad. At one point in the movie Shooter does get drunk, and Coach Dale redeems him by confronting him. Because of the coach’s intervention, the relationship be-tween the father and the son is also redeemed.
Another illustration: For a three-day period during my Vietnam service, the Chief of my detachment was unaccounted for. I found him drunk in a slop house and carried him out. I helped him sober up and get himself together. I knew what had caused him to get on the bottle so I both confronted him and interceded for him with our superiors, redeeming his career. Watching the coach in Hoosiers and remembering both the incident with the Chief and the times I had to retrieve my own dad out of bars, I realized how God had prepared me for His redemptive purposes.
I don’t condone drunkenness, but I can understand the deeper issues behind it. Through the experiences I’ve related, God redemptively uses me. Significantly,  we have found, as a result of our work with Demolishing Strongholds, that most addictions are propelled by the spiritual strongholds of rejection and bitterness.
It is important for all of us to realize that everyone has been hurt at some point in their lives. Each person faces a choice: to fester in bitterness, or to be healed and used by God to redeem others. Remaining unhealed is a hellish prison that attracts others to stagnate there with you. But if you earnestly seek the Lord for His healing, our Father receives praise from the ones you are free to help.

Redeeming a Bitter Person
Remember: If you haven’t been healed, you’re more useful to Satan than to God. Our Lord does not want you to minister out of your hurt but out of His healing in you!
If you have been healed and want to help an embittered person, here are some principles to consider:
1. Effective help may require you to confront. Confronting a person helps him or her to experience an attitude change. [See our book Growing Relationships Through Confrontation.]
2. Don’t listen to the litany of what others did against them. When Sue and I hear people  blame others over and over, we discontinue our help. People who are mired in blaming really don’t want out of their prison; they want your sympathy so that you’ll share their cell with them!
3. Point them to Jesus—again and again. What our Father forgave them through the sacrifice of Jesus is far greater than anything they need to forgive others. If they won’t forgive the person who hurt them, stop your efforts to help.
4. If they do forgive from their heart, encourage them to pray God’s blessings on the one(s) who contributed to their pain. When a person purposes to forgive, the Holy Spirit is freed to heal the hurt.

Abnormal Social Development
We have used the adjacent chart hundreds of times to reveal the depth of a person’s bitterness. The chart begins in box 1. A parent has somehow offended a son or daughter by word or deed, resulting in a “wounded spirit” in the young person. The youth at that point could forgive his parent. If he chooses not to forgive,  the hurt is manifested in a visible response — a “communication breakdown.” Now the parents, after being made aware of the problem, could ask for forgiveness. If they don’t, they justify their hurtful behavior out of pride or anger.
Without forgiveness, the youth becomes more embittered, alienating his affections from his parents.(2) This alienation is manifested as ungratefulness. If the parents don’t pursue the matter to the point of forgiveness, they will “compare” and force the situation to level (3), where the youth will reject his parents’ authority.
At each level— all the way to level (8), choosing to forgive or asking forgiveness is the way to end the problem. Without forgiveness, life becomes more embittered, progressing to deeper levels of discord. The deeper the conflict goes, the more destructive is the bitterness. Bitterness draws you deeper down until one of the forms of suicide prevails.
Forgiveness gets you up and off the chart, available for God’s use.
Prevention: If you are responsible for other people, whether at home or in the workplace, it helps in maintaining peace and harmony if you train yourself to recognize the symptoms of bitterness early. Know the signs of a “wounded spirit” and “alienated affections.” Everyone gets hurt feelings. But this pain can be dealt with redemptively if you are free from bitterness yourself and are attuned to the earliest signs of bitterness.

A final thought: When I look back at my own youth, I lived mostly at level (6). I was 30 when I gave my life to follow Jesus and He made an incredible change in my life by healing my relationship with my parents. As we wrote in our last letter, “Bitterness is foremost a family failure.” Through Jesus, family members have the best chance of bringing healing to one another once they themselves are healed.