I decided long ago that the core group of guys I hang out with have to be of the same kingdom mindset that I have. That Jesus is everything, and we live within a kingdom of Jesus and are not of this world. I consider this covenant relationship. Last night on short notice a couple of guys decided to join me at my church since Matt (of x44) was preaching. He preached an amazing sermon, you can read my notes and watch the video here. This morning my family was off to an activity day at a local Christian camp where my wife and I have a great history (Covenant Harbor Bible Camp is like family to us); But since I recently broke my toe I opted to join “some of the guys” at their church, Lakeland Community Church.

Lakeland is quite the church. They were founded by David Howie in the late 1990’s as a Willowcreek style plant. 30 years later they are firing on all cylinders introducing a lot of believers to Jesus and strengthening relationships with Him. They think big and have a greatly gifted team led by Josh Amstutz and his Wife Lisa.

Lakeland is finishing up a 12 week series based on a book that Josh recently wrote called The God Experiment (which as the time of this post was not available for a link on Amazon, but you can purchase it through Lakeland.) Everyone I have spoken to that has read it has loved the journey. The crazy thing, and I love it when God aligns the stars, is that the subject he spoke on was nearly the same subject as Matt did last night at a different church. I also heard that Journey Burlington also spoke on forgiveness!

The main thrust of the message was to identify potential landmines or things that may hold you back in God’s kingdom pursuit and cause you to be hurt & bitter. The entire message was REALLY good. I absolutely love Josh’s rhetoric. He reminds me of Andy Stanley, Matt Chandler, or maybe Ed Young Jr. You can watch the God Experiment series here.

But unlike my synopsis of Matt’s message, where I went into great depth; I just want to pick one thing out of today’s message at Lakeland, I have already been long winded. The place I want to spend some time is on what he referred to as Landmines. He started by giving some history which, being a history guy, I found neat, so I tried to find some of the things he shared.

Every hour, people die or lose limbs from stepping on a landmine. Most of these victims are civilians, living in countries at peace. There are more than 30 countries that still have buried mines. he largest stockpilers among these nations collectively hold about 45 million mines, with Russia (26.5 million), Pakistan (an estimated 6 million) and India (an estimated 4-5 million) making up the top three.

Josh described landmines as the feeling you get when someone hurts you. Josh also used the word ensnare to describe the way we are pulled into dramatic situations with people. I love how he described being wounded by someone. We may forgive them immediately, but we will still be dressing the wounds and every time the wound hurts, we will be reminded of the situation. Things will take time to heal even after forgiveness.

Let’s consider his word choice ensnare. In Hebrew it is Mowqesh and usually translated as snare, trap, or bait, it is also used to express the idea of causing to ruin or destroy something or someone. The Hebrew picture word we get is lightning. When you see lighting you might brace yourself for the coming strike. There is also a sense of trembling or fear that comes with this word. If you read my post about Matt’s sermon yesterday, you are going to recognize some similarities. There is a sense of reverence that comes with this kind of fear.

There was a point yesterday in Matt’s sermon where he stops before he gets to the topic of lust and warns everyone that the message is going south. This one is similar, but I think is a point worth making. You see, in Hebrew one of the closely related words is Pachad and is used in the same way for a reference to dangling testicles. It has been said that in ancient times an agreement between two men would be solidified by tapping each others testicles (like we would shake hands.) You can see how you would feel danger by letting someone do this but also yield to them trust. Unfortunately, it also came with the opposite meaning of a deal going south. Well, let’s just say you took one in that area. It became a sign of great distrust, as if you would never do business or trust them again, and likely neither would anyone else. If you are a male reading this you know exactly the feeling that getting kicked in this area brings and that is a similar feeling that you might get when someone close turns on you causing bitterness and hurt. It leaves you with what feels like a permanent sickness & aching that might never go away. Ladies, as you might not completely feel our pain here, I think you can understand the connection.

In the Bible we get a picture of fiery darts (arrows) being shot at us. (This is a great lesson for another day!) Josh today used the Analogy of wounds such as a knife or arrow might make. I think we usually consider fiery darts coming from Satan or the powers and principalities but often consider them delivered through the work of a person. The point either way is that when we get wounded especially by someone we trust, we should forgive them immediately as God would forgive us which is often easier said than done. But the wound still takes some time to heal. Sometimes we don’t do what is needed for proper healing either. We don’t dress it properly. Sometimes there isn’t the same type of forgiveness coming from the other party and that doesn’t seem fair and continues to hurt. Sometimes the wounder even returns to rewound, or push on the wound, or we might even feel like they are pulling and twisting at the wound. The proper response before the lord is to forgive them again and again and again. But trust is still broken. Just because you truly forgive doesn’t mean you will ever be able to trust them again, or that you should. It also means that your guard might be up. The lightning of the Hebrew word. The ultimate prayer is that the wounds would fully heal, but we may not see that until the earth and all in it is renewed by the Lord, but it should still be our prayer and goal. Eventually even these wounds will be made as new to believers, and sometimes it’s the believers that make multiple wounds, and the deepest ones; Jesus will bring all of this to healing. This work begins here and now and finishes when our journey of sanctification is complete eschatologically.

Forgive and accept healing from your wounds. Take care of your wounds. Get professional care for them if needed. Don’t let your wounds hold you back in God’s kingdom life. Give your wounds to God and in the backwards kingdom of Jesus pray that he will transform your worst wounds (what the Bible sometimes refers to as curses) into the biggest blessings of your life. That is the Hebrew prayer of Barak praise. That God may transform the worst things in your world into the best things for His world. Fear the Lord, not the ones that wound. Perhaps your wounds will be your strength.

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