Tuesday, August 3, 2010
You might think that everything necessary to our understanding of this theme has already been written, but Six Stages of Forgiving Others offers a fresh, as well as timely, approach (Georg Karl, Pleasant Word, 2009, $12.99).
The author begins on the streets of his hometown of St. Joseph, MI. (24 miles south of my hometown) experiencing the brutal murder of his close chum, one of that community’s outstanding young Christian leaders, the son of the pastor at First Baptist Church. Is it possible to forgive such a tragedy without being disabled by crippling anger?
Such experiences shape our lives around the globe today, encompassing personal issues, broken marriages, angry relationships, as well as centuries of conflict between feuding Middle-eastern nations that keep the globe in turmoil. The author observes the family of the victim--wounded parents--picking up the pieces and finding God to be as good as His Word and life worth living.
With that powerful example, the author pursues the meaning of forgiveness, our need to forgive, and the problems involved. He concludes Section One with the divine possibility of forgiveness.
Section Two works through what he calls the six stages of forgiveness: willingness, ability, the decision, action, overcoming, and re-labeling. Re-labeling gave me some new insights to think about.
Section three concludes the book with four chapters under the heading of "HELP FOR THOSE WHO FORGIVE." Obviously, this author, a pastor of 21 years (Vincennes, IN), believes strongly in God. Equally strong is his conviction of the ever-present workings of God in our day-to-day lives, who brings joyful and grace-filled living. Undergirding this life is the truth revealed in the Bible.
I endorse this book because I believe forgiveness is a timely subject, although global affairs tell me the problem is as old as Adam and Eve. I found George’s writing style easy for me to follow in all but a page or two.
Some of his two-liners I found especially compelling: “Our failures are chained to us until we are released by forgiveness” (10). “Forgiving each other, much like ministry itself, is dependent upon God’s achievement” (44). Preemptive forgiveness is God’s nature, in which people are called to participate” 100).
I liked the way he frequently sorted issues by juxtaposing them: “People are blessed by forgiving and cursed by revenge” (27) “Forgiveness is not an innate human capability but a divine possibility” (41). In addition, he gave me new understanding with contemporary terms like “preemptive forgiveness,” which he suggests is what Jesus practiced, and that makes it our standard for Christian behavior.
Six stages of forgiving Others is found under the Pleasant Word Label. Author Georg Karl has served in fulltime ministry since 1981, with 7 1/2 years as Associate at West Court Street, Flint, MI, and the past 21 years as Senior Pastor at the Church of God in Vincennes, IN. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University and the Anderson University School of Theology in Anderson, IN. I number Julian Karl, Georg’s father, among my longtime Warner Camp friends.
The book is available from numerous online discount bookstores like Amazon and Wine Press, as well as The AU bookstore in Anderson, and local book stores like Parables in St. Joseph, MI. Of course, you can always order it directly from the author for $12.00 + $1.50 shipping: Georg Karl, 1408 East St. Clair Street, Vincennes, IN 47591.
Reading this will fortify your inner life, help you build stronger relationships, and ultimately bring what I see best described in that Hebrew word Shalom.
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