Genesis 5020

Stories for His Glory

Forgiveness Part 3 March 22, 2013

We are back with part three of Jolene’s Genesis 5020. If y0u missed the first two parts click here for part one and here for part two.

hands-with-heartsI continued to cry out to God. I was trying to be in His Word more, to find comfort in the scriptures. 

I remember reading a passage in Daniel for a Bible Study, it talked about the sacred articles of the temple being carried away and used for unsacred purposes.  I felt like that was what was happening to our church.  Our precious members, my friends and family, were being carried away. 

I literally and physically cried out to God!  I did not understand!  I didn’t even know what or how to pray!  How could we be going through this?  How could it be beneficial to growing the kingdom of God?  Why?  Why?  Why? 

To God, I probably looked like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum when they don’t get their way.  And that is probably more accurate than I would care to admit!  Because in reality I just didn’t see the bigger picture God had planned.

God was slowly changing and growing my personal faith, while He was doing the same for my church.  I was being forced to rely more on Him and my personal relationship with Him.  Just as our church was being forced to do the same. 

Deep faith and trust were beginning to take root.  Our human efforts were failing , what was left except to fall back on God?  Why did we have to fall so far to do that?

  I remember another conversation with an elder’s wife.  She suggested that our church was going through this time because we had become prideful.  Prideful?  Ouch!  That hurt!  Yet I could see truth in the words she spoke.  I had become prideful in my church being the “it church” in town.  My perspective on what makes a church successful had become pretty warped and was in desperate need of adjustment by God.

At the end of the summer of 2011 we had a church body update, the first of many to come.  But this one was significant.  In my opinion it was the beginning of our healing and growth as a church body.  

There was a request for forgiveness for mistakes made in the past and hurt that had been caused to people along the path we had chosen as a body.  Acknowledging the hurt we had been through together was like turning a corner.  We admitted mistakes, made apologies and began the journey of forgiveness and healing.

This topic of forgiveness is one that has come before me many times over the last year.  After that church meeting we began a prayer emphasis – praying individually for each member of our body.  And we intentionally included those who had left our church family. 

That convicted me, because I hadn’t realized I harbored some feelings of resentment toward those who had moved on.  I realized this was wrong and prayed God would bless those who had left and the churches they were a part of. 

I also began to realize the power of prayer, not just as a way to present our requests to God, but as a two-way communication that He uses to speak truth back into our lives.

Forgiveness came up again this past summer as I listened to a song on the radio by Matthew West called “Forgiveness”. 

It has such powerful words that speak of forgiving even when we don’t feel like it or we feel the person doesn’t deserve it. 

I had just ended a long phone conversation with a friend.  During that conversation I realized again that I was harboring resentment toward individuals that had caused strife in our church before leaving and had also caused pain to some of my immediate family. 

As I was stripping wallpaper in my kitchen, that song came on the radio and I wept at the way God planned that moment.  He was speaking so loudly to me and stripping away unforgiveness in my heart just like the paper coming off the walls in my kitchen. 

I had to forgive in order to move forward with what He had planned for me and for our church family.

In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part. Matthew 6:14-15 The Message

Examine your heart as I examine mine. Is there any unforgiveness that needs to be stripped away from you today?

 

The Pruning-Part 1 March 8, 2013

Filed under: Jolene's Gensis 5020 — Melissa Finnegan @ 11:11 am
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I am so excited to share our new Genesis 5020 with you.

For the next few weeks we will hear from my dear friend, Jolene Nofzinger.

I met Jolene when we started attending elem3nt church. She was on worship team when I joined and I soon discovered she was an avid reader as well:)

Although I met Jolene in 2000, it wasn’t until about four years ago that our relationship grew deeper when I joined the lifegroup she was in. She was one of the first people to hear my Genesis 5020 as God had commanded me to share with our lifegroup in 2010.

As I stated last week her story is very different from what you have heard so far and I am so glad for that. I hope it will spark a fire in you to share your story on this blog.

Read on and be blessed.

pruned-trees Genesis 50:20 is a little different – I grew up in the church, was always the “good girl”, a pretty obedient and compliant person who never really went through a rebellious time in my life. 

Growing up in the church we would periodically have “testimony time” where people would be asked to share their story of how God saved them or how He was working in their lives.  While I enjoyed hearing other people’s stories, I feared being asked to share mine, because I didn’t feel like I had a story that was good enough or dramatic enough to share. 

Well, God has been writing a whole new chapter in my walk with Him and it has taken some dramatic turns. It was not exactly what I had in mind… But God has showed up in an incredible way!

I have attended the same church for most of my life – A church that my grandparents, parents and siblings have also attended. A church that my husband’s grandfather pastored at one time. The church that brought my husband and me together, where we were married, dedicated our children and call our spiritual home. 

Our church has grown and evolved over the years through God’s faithfulness and blessing. We have had wonderful pastors with visionary leadership and skilled teachers of God’s Word. 

Several years ago we were at what I thought was the  top – Our attendance was growing, we had a dynamic teaching pastor, a great worship experience (something near and dear to my heart), the biggest youth program in town – our church had it going on! 

And then God decided our church needed a little pruning…

That began a turbulent time in our church life. We went through a change in name and became multi-site, which caused some folks to leave. Over the course of about a year we lost several key pastoral staff for various reasons – with many in our church body following them to their new ministries. 

We lost volunteers for ministry and we were struggling. We had no youth program, something that was of great concern as my daughter was quickly approaching the age where she could be a part of youth group. Both my husband and I grew up in wonderful youth programs with great leaders and I never, ever imagined that wouldn’t be a big part of my kids’ church experience. 

Our tight-knit life group was impacted through these losses as well and faced a difficult season of adjustment.

I don’t want to dwell on the details of this painful time of “pruning” for our church. Nor do I want to point fingers or come off as judgmental of those who chose to worship elsewhere during this time. I had many conversations with dear friends and even some family members who left.  They felt God telling them to move and they obeyed – and that was the right thing for them. 

They will always be treasured brothers and sisters in Christ.  However, it did not make the parting any less painful.

He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. John 15:2-4 NLT