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Monthly Archives: September 2013

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Forgiveness is a Choice

I don’t know what I dreamt about but I woke up feeling deep. Deep as in I want to analyze everything deep. Then I heard a song this morning on my drive to work about the freedom found in forgiveness and dealing with things instead of blaming someone else. And my mind headed straight for Matthew.

Matthew was my first love and long-term relationship. I dated people before and after him that I cared about, but no one has remained in my heart the way he has. I think that when you really truly love someone a piece of you will always care what happens to them. I freely admit that the love is still there.

Our break up was THE hardest one of my life. (Truthfully, it was harder and hurt far more than when I ended an engagement at 26 years old). But it needed to happen. It needed to happen because we were growing and changing in separate directions. It needed to happen because we had the same 3 fights on repeat. It needed to happen because we were trapped in between genuine love and completely different priorities. It needed to happen because we were wounding each other deeper every day.

When we did break up I blamed him for the majority of it. If he would do this and not do that then we wouldn’t have fought so much. If he’d just do this instead of that! Why doesn’t he do this instead of that? You see where I’m going with this. He readily took the blame I handed him, so I thought I was totally justified.

When I started dealing with my own issues and insecurities a few years later, I saw our break up in a totally different light. I realized that I was basically expecting a kid, (we dated from 18 to almost 21) who didn’t even really know who he was or what he wanted out of life, to fill every need in my life. Including the needs only God can fill. Can you say UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS?

The guilt of what a horrible person I was to him plagued me for months and months and months. I realized how demanding I was. I realized that I never appreciated the good things he DID do. I didn’t appreciate how far he would drive to come see me or when he did choose to do nice things for me. I swung from the blaming him for everything to blaming myself for everything. I forgave him, but at the cost of condemning myself completely. Can you say JERK? Or better yet, can you say MARTYR?

The true cause fell somewhere in the middle. There were some things that I legitimately needed to take responsibility for, as they were clearly my issues. But there were some things that he needed to do to and take responsibility for. We were both at fault and we were both hurt. And in the end it didn’t really matter what we did or didn’t do, what mattered was that we were both deeply hurt.

What about you? Are you holding a grudge against someone for things long past? Are you still blaming everything wrong in your life on someone else? Do you realize that not forgiving them is actually hurting you, not them? You’re actually holding your own self hostage!

Or are you at the other end of the spectrum holding yourself hostage with guilt, shame or blame? Do you need to forgive yourself?

Either way, choose today to let it go. Go to God and tell Him you don’t want to carry whatever it is you’re carrying anymore. You can be free of guilt, shame, regret, unforgiveness, and condemnation. When those feelings rise up and you feel yourself sliding into that bitter pit, take it back to the Lord and forgive yourself/the other person again. Do it every day if you have to. Do it until unforgiveness no longer plagues you.

The freedom is worth the work to get there. Freedom is better than bitterness any day. Trust me.

Forgiveness Facts
*God requires forgiveness. “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Colossians 3:13. See also Matthew 6:15 and Luke 6:37.

*God has forgiven you, so you should forgive yourself. “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:11-12

*When you forgive yourself and others, you need really to let it go. Don’t meditate on it. Don’t rehearse it over and over in your mind. Don’t even remember it. God doesn’t. “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Hebrews 8:12. It’s repeated again in Hebrews 10:17.

*You don’t have to reconcile or have a relationship with someone to forgive them. Stephen forgave the men as they were literally stoning him. “Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” Acts 7:60

*You don’t have to tell someone you forgive them, to forgive them and move on. Whether you see them every day, you don’t talk to the person anymore, or even if they have passed away, you can forgive them just the same. This is between you and God. Jesus took it to God directly, immediately. “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

*Forgiving someone does not excuse their behavior, nor does it exempt them from legal prosecution in rape, abuse or other situations where the person has broken the law.

*Forgiveness releases YOU to move forward and not be plagued by what happened.

I’ll be honest; it actually took longer and was harder for me to forgive myself than it was to forgive Matthew. Years ago I was fortunate enough to able to apologize to him face to face. We had a very good conversation that day about many different things. It was the most freeing conversation I think I’ve ever had. I let go of the guilt I was carrying for my part completely for the first time.

Forgiveness is truly a beautiful thing.

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Perception is the Key

Picture this. A prisoner has been pardoned. But instead of leaving the prison, the prisoner sits there in the cell. The shackles have been removed. The door is open. The prisoner could just walk out and be free. Yet the prisoner sits there because he’s not chosen to walk in freedom. His perception and perspective is that he is and will forever be a prisoner. But the truth, the reality, is that he’s free. He doesn’t believe the truth but has chosen to believe a lie.

If you are caught up in the cycle of addiction, you are that prisoner.

If you are beating yourself up over the past, you are that prisoner.

If you believe that you are worthless, you are that prisoner.

If you believe your situation is hopeless, you are that prisoner.

If you think that things will never change, you are that prisoner.

If you are allowing your past to bind you and prevent you from moving forward, you are that prisoner.

If you believe your past is more powerful that Jesus’ sacrifice, you are that prisoner.

Jesus came to reconcile us to God. Reconciliation was His main purpose. But that was not the only benefit and purpose of His death and resurrection. Luke 4:18-19 (Also found in Isaiah 61) tells us that He came to restore us body, soul and spirit. “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

He came to reveal the whole truth. The truth of His Kingdom, who we are, and how God feels about us. (In case you don’t know He loves us A LOT).

He came to show us who the Father is by doing what He saw the Father doing.

He came to heal your body and your heart.

AND He came to set you free. John 8:31-34 says,

“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”

Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

Even though you have been set free, you need to walk out that freedom. A slave (prisoner/unbelief) mentality and not understanding their true identity kept an entire generation out of the Promised Land. See Deuteronomy 1. They still saw themselves as slaves. They cried out to go back to Egypt. Their wrong perception of themselves and their lack of belief robbed the ENTIRE GENERATION of their inheritance. Only two men of the millions that left Egypt from that generation entered the Promised Land, Joshua and Caleb. Did you hear that? Two out of millions! And the only difference between those two and the rest of their generation was that they believed what God said, not what anyone else said. Did you hear that? They believed God. Not their circumstances. Not what they saw. Not what everyone else said. They believed God.

What’s my point? Well my point is that you need to believe what the Lord says about you and your future. You need to stop speaking negatively over yourself and beating yourself up for your past mistakes. You have value. You are loved.

Your situation is not too hard for God. Joseph went DIRECTLY from the prison to the palace. See Genesis 41. You don’t think God can do that for you? Nothing is impossible for God. NOTHING.

Priorities

At work today our new leader (He’s been here about 3 weeks) held an all-hands meeting. He used this time to detail his expectations and priorities. He also discussed the issues that had been brought to his attention. He was very up front, and I respect that. He also said something that really stuck me about priorities. He said that the best way to check your priorities is to look at your calendar. How you spend your time reveals your priorities. No matter what you say, your calendar shows the reality.

Wow.

It’s not what your words say; it’s what your calendar reveals that counts.

Many people say that their family is their priority, but they spend most of their non-work time sitting on the couch tuned into the television or on some sort of mobile device. Many people say God is a priority, but the only time they actually acknowledge His presence is at their church’s Sunday morning service. I could go on, but you get the point. I get that everyone’s busy, I am too. I’m not trying to criticize, as my calendar needs some scrubbing too.

My point is to sit down and think about your priorities. What and who matter the most to you? What are your long and short term goals? Now look at your calendar and think about how you spend your time. Your nights. Your weekends. Your vacation days. How are they used?

If your calendar does not reflect the people and things that really matter, then make some changes.

Say no to things that don’t line up with your priorities. This may mean you have to pass on some fun things or some good things even, but that’s okay. It is okay to say no. Your “no” to the extraneous things leaves room for you to say “yes” to the things that matter most. You don’t have to explain to people why, just say “no.”

Get out a calendar or use your smart phone calendar and mark off family days and time with God. Carve it out and keep it for its dedicated purpose. Block out some down time too, while you’re at it. You won’t regret it.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

God’s Not Afraid of the Dark

I loathe fear. So when my friend Danielle posted about God not being afraid of the dark, I asked her permission to share it with you.  It’s encouraging and challenging at the same time.  With that I give you what Dani wrote:

“I’m not afraid of the dark” – God
     God told me this tonight. Seems so simple, but such a profound statement. I felt like a little kid telling God “I’m scared to go there… it’s dark.” And He said, “Don’t worry, I’m not afraid of the dark, I will keep you safe.”
     In your life, He’s not afraid of the dark. He’s not afraid of those areas you’re unwilling to give Him in this moment. He’s not afraid of your mistakes or the bad things that have happened to you, He’s not afraid of your thoughts, He’s not afraid of anything about you, past present or future.
     In our world, He’s not afraid of the dark. He’s not afraid of the Red Light Districts. He’s not afraid of gang neighborhoods. He’s not afraid of failing economies, He’s not afraid of sickness or torment or death. He’s not afraid of anything about this world, past present or future.
     And He wants to bring LIGHT to every dark place so that He can let you know that not only is there nothing in there for HIM to be scared of, but there’s nothing in there for YOU to be scared of either! Let Him flood a light in your life, in your circumstances, in your world. Watch your identity shift. Watch your stance of fear melt away and be replaced with a stance of authority and victory. He has no intention of letting the enemy win… He wrote the end of the Book, and it’s a victory for the Kingdom of LIGHT, NOT the Kingdom of darkness.

God is Good.

Okay, I have to admit that in the past I’ve been annoyed with people saying God is good, because it doesn’t seem enough.  I’ve even annoyed myself by saying it.  True story.  The truth is that it annoyed me because I kept thinking that God is so much bigger than just boring ole standard good. He’s great! He’s awesome! He created the entire universe and everything in it. He’s omniscient, omnipresent and all powerful. Simply put, He knows all things, is everywhere at once and nothing is impossible for Him. Mind blowing, right?

So with all that, how can people just say, “God is good?” and leave it there?

I don’t know about everyone else, but I’ve said it because it’s hard to describe God sometimes. He’s so fabulously magnificent that words sometimes fail me. So I just simply mutter, “Wow. He’s good.”

Words have power. Even the word good. So today I want to check out this word good.  It first appears in Genesis 1:3-4, “Then God said, “Let there be light; and there was light. And God saw the light and it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.”

This same word good is found to describe God MANY MANY times in scripture. Here are a few of them:

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” I Chronicles 16:34

“The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.” Nahum 1:7

“For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” Psalm 100:5

Good in Hebrew is the word ‘towb.’ It is H2896 in the Strong’s Concordance. It essentially means good, pleasant,and agreeable. It can also be translated into the following: beautiful, best, cheerful, at ease, fair, favor, fine, glad, good, graciously, joyfully, kindly, kindness, loving, most merry, pleasant, pleasure, precious, prosperity, right (as in ethical) sweet, wealth (valuable in estimation, rich), welfare (as in benefit) and well-favored.

Put all those words together into a description and it’s starting to sound like a better description of God to me!

So NOW every time you hear someone say God is good or you read in the Word that God is good, you know what good really means.  So NOW you can join in the praise!  You can give a shout and say, “He sure is! All the time.”  I know I’m going to!

Have a good Tuesday!

A Cheerful Heart

It’s Monday. And I think that people need to laugh and smile more.  So does Solomon.  Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”

So if you are finding your strength waning in the midst of whatever it is that’s going on in your life, do something fun.  Watch old sitcoms that are actually funny or some other comedy.  Read a light hearted book.  Take a walk or do whatever it is you enjoy that makes you smile or laugh.  Start speaking positively.  Make plans that you will look forward to and enjoy.  Choose to find something joyful in your day.  Be silly!

Since it’s Musical Monday… Here’s “A Cheerful Heart” by Rick Pino.  and “Laugh” by The Monkees

Prayer Wall

Are you a prayer warrior or do you need prayer? Then check this out: Prayer Wall

For you warriors, I’ve noticed that depending upon when people post, some requests get like 20-40 people praying, while others don’t have anyone or only 1 person praying.  Feel free to scroll down and pray for those requests that God puts on your heart or all of them if you want.

Nothing happens without prayer.  But with prayer, all things are possible.

Our words have CREATIVE POWER.  Speak what you want to see not don’t speak the problem.

Later Alligators.