June 2022 Newsletter
by Pastor Mike Novotny
Which ditch tempts you most often?
If you imagine yourself on the narrow road to heaven, you’ll see that on either side is a ditch. So which one tempts you?
On one side you find the ditch called Pride. Pride thinks, “I’m a good person. Maybe I’m not perfect, but I’m pretty good compared to most people. I don’t need God’s pity or his mercy. I’m certainly not in any danger of going to hell.” Pride ignores Jesus’ “be perfect,” scoffs at Paul’s “the wages of sin is death,” and dismisses the fact that “without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Matthew 5:48; Romans 6:23; Hebrews 12:14).
On the other side of that narrow road to heaven is the ditch called Despair. Despair thinks, “I’m a sinful person. Maybe I’m not the worst, but I’m pretty bad compared to most people. I am not worthy of God’s pity or his mercy. I’m in certain danger of going to hell.” Despair ignores Jesus’ “whoever believes in him shall not perish,” scoffs at Paul’s “the gift of God is eternal life,” and dismisses the fact that “we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus” (John 3:16; Romans 6:23; Hebrews 10:19).
If you are like many Christians I meet, despair is what really trips you up, the seemingly humble belief that your sins are so bad that you can’t truly be forgiven.
Recently, however, I realized that despair is just another form of pride. To believe you are not forgiven, despite all that Jesus has done for you, is to think proudly that God’s Word is lying to you. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that the road to heaven is a narrow bridge and the waters of pride and despair mix together beneath it.
That’s why I love God’s promises to keep us safe and saved on that narrow road.
One of my favorites comes from Jesus’ friend John, who wrote, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8,9).
Notice how John deals with both pride and despair. Yes, we are sinners who need to be saved. Yes, God is faithful to forgive us and save us from all sin. No exceptions.
This is why I love God’s Word. It keeps you and me right where we need to be as we journey on this narrow road to glory.
You’re shining the light of Jesus into dark places
Only Jesus can bring joy into the struggles of life. It’s because of his love that we know our troubles are temporary and he is forever. And that’s why we are thankful for friends like you who help shine Jesus’ light of love and forgiveness into the lives of people like Alan.
He says …
“I’ve been going through a lot recently and wanted to reach back out to let you know these messages are very much appreciated. A little light in the dark never hurts! God bless.”
When you support Time of Grace with your prayers and donations, you bring the love of your Savior to more people like Alan. So thank you!
Your path to freedom and healing
You’ve been hurt. Someone sinned against you. Now you carry the scar. Maybe you’ve been carrying it for years, a constant reminder of the pain.
Are you ready to heal? To be set free?
That’s the invitation you’ll find in Mike Novotny and Ben Sadler’s Freedom in Forgiveness book and its companion journal—actionable steps from God’s Word to help you choose to forgive and find freedom in God’s grace.
Both resources include engaging study questions, real-life prompts, and practical guidance to help you:
Forgive those who’ve hurt you.
Entrust justice to God.
Set healthy boundaries.
Live at peace with others.
The Freedom in Forgiveness book and journal are our thanks for your gift to help reach more people with God’s life-giving truth through Time of Grace. Request your copies today—and step into the freedom God has for you!
Navigate life’s challenges and struggles
Need a little help through the chaotic, crazy, and difficult times of day-to-day life? Give the podcast Little Things with Amber Albee Swenson a try!
Amber is a Time of Grace writer, blogger, and podcaster who will help you navigate through life’s challenges and struggles with the guidance of Scripture and a little wisdom from her own experiences as a mom, wife, speaker, teacher, and forgiven child of God. In God’s kingdom, the little things ARE the big things. Listen today on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your favorite podcasts!
Tune in to Time of Grace in July for Pastor Mike’s popular series Skeptical Faith. In the swirl of ideas, beliefs, and questions of the internet age, Christians are often challenged in their faith. This five-part series uses a crash course on apologetics to equip you to hold on to and share your faith with the skeptics around you, including the one in your own heart.
The first episode of Skeptical Faith is available to watch on July 3rd with new episodes released each Sunday in July.
While every sin is unique, God’s Word gives you a general pattern of how to deal with a sin when it’s committed against you. These five biblical steps can rescue you from the burden of bitterness and anger:
Step 1: Acknowledge. They sinned. They hit you with a “stone” and it hurt.
Step 2: Look to God. Remember how he let your seven billion stones alone.
Step 3: Forgive. Make the daily choice to let the stone alone.
Step 4: Love. Pray for, bless, feed, and serve the sinner, doing everything you can to love him or her.
Step 5: Reconcile if possible. If it’s not possible or if the person isn’t willing, pray. From a distance, pray for God to change the person’s heart and bless him or her.
Hello from Pastor Mike
I recently got a front-row seat to reconciliation in action. A fellow Christian was explaining to me how he had just experienced a breakthrough with his ex-wife. After years and years (and years and years) of bitterness, anger, and selfishness, their situation had somehow, miraculously, changed. Attitudes had softened. Open ears had replaced dug-in heels. Despite being a fairly nonemotional guy, I noticed a glisten in his eyes as he told me the story.
While they were (and still are) far from complete reconciliation, this man described to me the immense burden that was lifted from his shoulders when he stopped making every situation about himself and started thinking of what was best for the woman who had hurt him in the past.
The apostle Peter, who knew all about sinning and being sinned against, once wrote,
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it’” (1 Peter 3:8-11).
Seek peace. Pursue it. That’s how you see good days and love the life you have.