But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 3:13b, 14 (ESV)

READING: I Timothy 1:12-20

One of the blessings of church planting is that you don’t have to live with the mistakes of others – you get to make your own! This can lead to deep regret about missed opportunities, bad decisions, wasted time, words we wish we could take back and so on.

Someone shared with me his terrible regret over past sins. He said, “I don’t deserve to live.” I asked my remorseful friend if he had ever killed someone – he hadn’t. The Apostle Paul, however, assisted in the murder of Saint Stephen. If he had allowed it, remorse over that incident alone could have destroyed his ministry. But Paul, the self-confessed “chief of sinners” (I Tim. 1:15) did not allow himself to focus on past errors. He pressed on.

We all make many mistakes, big and small. Of the twenty or so church planting landmines we teach, I have hit virtually every one! Many could have been avoided if I were smarter, more mature, better organized. If I dwell on my missteps, I can become discouraged quickly.

But like Paul, I have one thing to do: press on toward the goal.

Whatever mistakes you have made, in ministry or in your personal life, follow Paul’s example: forget the past and press on. Don’t drag chains of regret through life and ministry. Confess to Jesus whatever you did that was a sin, and not just a misstep. Make amends if appropriate. But then leave it all at the cross. Learn from your mistakes and press on to victory in Jesus!

Lord, Thank you for your abundant forgiveness. Help me to forget the past and press on for you. Amen.

Mark Alan Williams