Sunday, September 05, 2004

The EAGLES on Theology, Hotels, and Forgiveness

On a dark desert highway
Cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas

Rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance

I saw a shimmering light
My head grew heavy, and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night
There she stood in the doorway

I heard the mission bell
And I was thinking to myself

This could be Heaven or this could be Hell
Then she lit up a candle And she showed me the way
There were voices down the corridor
I thought I heard them say
Welcome to the Hotel California...

If you're anywhere close to my age you'll remember all the controversy surrounding 'Hotel California' by the EAGLES and you'll remember the legend that the song was about a satanist high priest, ya-de-ya-de-ya. Maybe the legend was right, maybe it wasn't. I don't know and the EAGLES don't seem to be saying.

One thing I am sure of is that there are some great truths woven into the lyrics of a lot of their songs. Songs like Don Henley's classic 'The Heart of the Matter'.

Read these lyrics and somewhere back in your mental archives you'll hear the music kick in.

"I've been tryin' to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But everything changes And my friends seem to scatter
But I think it's about forgiveness

Or how 'bout this line from 'Already Gone': "So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains And we never even know we have the key "

For a really powerful punch to the bread basket try mixing those last two bits of lyrics up.

I'm learning that one of the powerful medicines in the world is forgiveness and that one of the most toxic poisons in the world is 'anti-forgiveness'. I'm also coming to learn that I do hold the key to the chains of anti-forgiveness that sometimes hold me and my life back and poison my present and my future.

Anti-forgiveness is more powerful than fallout from a long past nuclear blast. It will scramble the DNA of a once bright future and it will pollute once great friendships. It will leave it's victims sitting alone on front porches wondering why the rest of the world is on a parade far far away while they sit there all alone.

You'll find yourself playing all by yourself in a bitter little game to keep the piled up hurts burning so you can justify your aloneness in the heat from the fire.

I'm learning that anti-forgiveness leads to bitterness -- literally, bitter tasting lives. It leads to being on the edge of blowing out long time relationships and cashing in the chips that you may have taken years to accumulate.

The solution for anti-forgiveness is, of course, forgiveness. Sounds pretty easy doesn't it?

And, on paper, it is easy to forgive. But, in real life to dig up the roots of bitterness and throw them in the trash pile is no easy task. It's tougher than keeping 'Kudzoo Vine' from covering every telephone pole in Tennessee. It takes a miracle.

It takes a power from God alone to irradicate the stubborn roots of long term anti-forgiveness, aka 'bitterness'. It takes a revolution of the soul, a softening of a hardened heart that only God can bring.

It's possible, but it's supernatural--way past being the natural thing to want to do.

Jesus was asked by one of his closest followers how many times we should forgive someone who offends us and Jesus reply was overwhelming. Not just once or twice or three times, but '70 x 7'. That's 490? More than that, it's the Hebrew equivalent of saying 'infinity' -- we are to forgive everything all the time up to an infinite number of offenses.

Now I don't know about you but after a couple of offenses from the same joker and I'm ready to fight. Ready to take it to the ring and rumble. So, this notion of '70 x 7' is way challenging. But, here's the really good news. Wherever Jesus indicated a principle we are to live by He promised power to carry it out. He went so far as to say that to follow His teachings was a lighter load than what was being taught by other teachers. And, He promised that His Spirit would give us power to live the life He asks us to.

Here are some verses directly from the Bible about bitterness:
Ephesians 4:31 (God's Word)
Get rid of your bitterness, hot tempers, anger, loud quarreling, cursing, and hatred.

Hebrews 12:15 (God's Word)
Make sure that everyone has kindness from God so that bitterness doesn't take root and grow up to cause trouble that corrupts many of you.

When I read verses like those it seems like forgiveness is like taking a garden hoe to the roots of bitterness. It's chopping out the roots that would poison our lives and choke out our relationships.

It's an act of the will empowered by God's Spirit at work in us. It's a matter of asking for the supernatural to be done in our lives as only God can do it. It's about letting Him do His thing.

We DO hold the key to unlock the chains of anti-forgiveness before they grow into bars of unbreakable bitterness. It's an act of courage infused with Power from the Creator of all.

Because of His power at work in us it is possible to swallow the antidote for anti-forgiveness and irradicate the stubborn roots of bitterness.

I think it's about forgiveness. Don Henley and the Eagles do, too.

p.s. If you are a 'rising leader' who's excited about advancing the Kingdom of God, then you'll want to grab some great FREE resources over at


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