Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Forgiving Offenses

"There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil, a natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome."
"And your defect is a propensity to hate everybody."
"And yours," he replied with a smile, "is wilfully to misunderstand them."
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

We can become easily offended when we feel wounded by insensitive words spoken from a family member or someone we consider to be a friend.  
It could be just a misunderstanding, but regardless, the rejection we feel leaves us wondering what we did to deserve such hurtful treatment.

We retrace our steps and our words, looking for clues.

Sometimes though, it may just be a perceived offense, possibly by both parties.  

When we allow our minds to wander and attempt to come to a conclusion without seeking the truth, we frequently find ourselves in a battle (in our minds, of course) that hasn’t or will never happen and the hurtful words can very quickly escalate into unforgiveness and over time become a root of bitterness.

Scripture tells us, "He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." Proverbs 17:9

Communication is the key that opens the door to forgiveness and releases us from a self imposed prison.

However, as important as communication is, even more important is the way
we communicate.

We should always proceed prayerfully when attempting confrontation of a perceived offense.

We should also remember that while we have no control over anything anyone else chooses to say, think or do, we have complete control over how we choose to respond to the way that we’ve been treated.
Proverbs 19:11 (GW)
A person with good sense is patient, and it is to his credit that he overlooks an offense.

It’s also important to remember that while it’s difficult to be on the receiving end of hurtful words, it’s very likely that we’ve also been on the other end.

We’ve probably thrown out a comment or two that were meant to be hurtful or maybe that wasn’t our intention, but that’s how it was received. Grace for one another is not only sufficient but vital.
Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 (GW)
Don’t take everything that people say to heart, or you may hear your own servant cursing you. Your conscience knows that you have cursed others many times.

And finally, a little humility goes a long way in keeping us on the right path towards peace. Our ultimate goal should be to follow in our Savior’s footsteps….

Ephesians 4:2-3 (NIV)

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.



Forgiving someone is like removing a splinter, initially painful but with time will heal.
In the same sense unforgiveness is like a splinter that if left in place can become infected and more painful and eventually dangerous to our health and well being.
Unforgiveness infects our lives, bringing greater pain and stealing our joy but if we allow God to remove the splintered pieces of our lives, He will bring healing and restoration and a peace that only He can give.
So give it all to Him, every shattered, splintered piece and let the healing begin!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Dry Ground

As I was driving to work one morning I began to thank God for sending the much needed rain but as it continued to come down harder and harder I changed my prayer from "Thank you for the desperately needed rain!" to "Please help the ground to be pliable and soft enough to receive it."

Flash floods can occur when the ground has been dry and too much rain comes too quickly, the ground isn’t able to absorb it.

The thought of the ground being so dry and hard for so long and refusing to allow the water to saturate deep enough to do the most good reminded me of how hard our hearts get sometimes.

Whether we’ve suffered from the choices of others or our own choices, our pasts can cause our hearts to harden. God ‘s word says in Hebrews 3:15 "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion."

A good soaking of rain can soften up the driest ground and bring back to life the dying plants and grasses, refilling springs, streams and rivers.

Jesus said that He offered "living water" and that whoever drank of this water would never thirst again.

So if we allow our hearts to be pliable(flexible, submissive, obedient) He will saturate our lives with His promises, He will restore what was dead or dying and bring everlasting life.

Jesus answered her, "Everyone who drinks this water will become thirsty again. But those who drink the water that I will give them will never become thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give them will become in them a spring that gushes up to eternal life." John 4:13-14

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Good Medicine

They say laughter is contagious, so if it makes us laugh (even if it’s about me) it must be shared…

 One beautiful summer afternoon, my young son and I were taking a bike ride on the nature trail near our home.
The sun was peaking through the trees, there was a slight breeze and we were having a great time.

It was a perfect summer day. My son was riding just ahead of me, gliding around the curves, occasionally glancing back at me as I lagged behind and then it happened.

 A very large woodchuck darted out in front of me and wedged himself in between the front and rear tire of my bicycle. I screamed, and pulled my flip-flop covered feet up and away from the animal, terrified that I might be bitten.
I contemplated jumping off the bike but as I moved, he moved.
Everything happened in slow motion and seemed to go on for an eternity, although I’m sure it was only a matter of seconds.

Just when I was sure to lose the balance that I so unbelievably maintained, the woodchuck dislodged himself and ran off into the safety of the woods.  

With my heart pounding, tears in my eyes and nearly out of breath from screaming, I looked at my son in disbelief as he very sincerely asked, "Mom are you ok?"
And since everyone in our family knows that for me, any combination of running, jumping, laughing or screaming could require a trip to the restroom, he quickly added "Did you pee your pants?"

 We burst into laughter, amazed at what had just happened.
Who in the world runs over a woodchuck with their bicycle? Apparently I do.
It’s good to laugh, even at ourselves. They say that "laughter is the best medicine" and there is even something called "laughter therapy".
God’s word says in Psalm 126:2 (NKJV) Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, "The Lord has done great things for them."
And in Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. 

So go ahead, LAUGH because no one wants "dry bones"… and in the words of Miss Sweet Brown….."Aint nobody got time for that!" (go ahead, google it, I bet you’ll laugh)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Perfect Love

“The truth is, I gave my heart away a long time ago, my whole heart, and I never really got it back.”
– Reese Witherspoon's character in Sweet Home Alabama

Some of us have given our hearts away only to have them broken into pieces that we thought were beyond repair. The pain and hurt from the rejection that we felt cause us to guard our hearts so that we never have to experience that kind of suffering again.

We make vows, we put up walls, we promise ourselves, never again. I will never allow someone to hurt me like that again, I will never allow myself to feel that way again.

We shove our pain deep down to a place we no longer have to feel. The problem is that one day it will rise back up. We try to mask it with substances, cover it with unhealthy relationships or deny it with false pretenses but we soon discover that it’s a wound that will not heal on it’s own.
Even time will not heal all wounds, without a Healer.

But there is hope…
There is One that will take all of the broken pieces of our hearts, restore all that was lost, mend all that was broken. We can trust Him with our heart, our whole heart.
He loves us with an AGAPE love, selfless, sacrificial, unconditional. There is nothing we can do to earn it, nothing we can do to lose it and we don't have to be afraid because there is no fear in the perfect love that He offers.
1 John 4:18 says Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.
Bring Him the shattered pieces of your heart and let the Healer give you a heart like His, to love like He loves.
Selfless. Sacrificial. Unconditional.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

You’ve wandered the road of brokenness
felt the pain of deception and sorrow
Cried out to God in your suffering
Unsure of surviving tomorrow
The weight of the world on your shoulders
Sometimes too much to bear
The heaviness feels like you’re drowning
In an ocean of regret and despair
Your mistakes and your failures play again and again
As a reminder of all that you’ve lost
And you wonder if the choices made for you
Were worth the devastation and the cost
Just when it seems there’s no where to turn
And no one who really cares
There is One who truly loves you
And whispers “I am here.”
All fear is gone, the past washed away
Regret does not taunt you, suffering has no place
Hope is renewed and joy is restored
By the One who saved you
Redeemed by the Lord
Let His PERFECT LOVE redeem all that was once lost, healing the broken places and restoring His perfect plan for your life.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Gift

After months of dragging my feet and wondering if anything I have to say is worthy of your time, I’m finally taking a leap of faith and diving in to this thing called blogging.

You’re here so that’s a good sign. My hope is that you’ll be glad you came, that you will leave with a smile, a laugh or even an appropriate tear but most of all that you will be encouraged.

We all have unique talents and abilities, God given gifts that He knit in us before we were born. Most often these gifts come so effortlessly that some fail to realize it’s a gift at all.

Athletics is not my gift. I cannot run and dribble a basketball to save my life, nor can I hit a baseball, just ask my family.

Singing is not my gift, although I’m pretty sure I could get a recording contract in my car or in my shower. I’m just not sure anyone else would agree.

I am an artist and most often I’m amazed at what I can do, knowing fully that God guides my hand as the brush effortlessly strokes the canvas revealing beauty that only He could (use me to) create.

I’m also a writer. I love to tell a story and paint a picture with my words which would explain why my stories can be a bit lengthy.

Unfortunately I believed for many years that I wasn’t smart enough, good enough or talented enough and that the lack of a degree disqualified me from using my gifts. So day after day, month after month, year after year I did what I felt I was qualified to do and struggled greatly in positions that went against my natural abilities.

Disappointment. Frustration. Discouragement.

I'm sure that some of you have felt or feel the same way.

Then one day God revealed the truth- that I’m an artist because He created me that way, not because I took a class or have a degree and it's the same with writing. Of course I could take classes to further my skills and abilities but the gift is already there. I'm a writer because that's who God says I am.

Psalm 139:13 says, You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb.

He knew me, before He formed me. He knew what I would be and who I would become, if I just listened to His voice and trusted the gifts that He instilled in me.

Fear of failure and maybe even a fear of success holds you back. The self doubts and the what-ifs settle in and so you stay in the familiar, safe places right where the enemy of your soul wants you- far from the plan God has for you.

You see, when we fail to trust in the gifts that God has placed in us, we fail to move into the positions He has planned for us.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

The doubts come easier when comparison enters the picture. There will always be someone else that we see as more capable, more gifted, more talented and so we believe that we have no purpose.

But God made you, uniquely you, on purpose with a purpose!

If you're not sure what your gifts are, ask God to reveal them to you. Think about those things you're most passionate about and what makes you truly happy or what breaks your heart. Is there something you can get lost in, losing all sense of time? Ask those you trust what they feel your gifts are, they might surprise you!

Above all else listen to the words of Colossians 3:23, Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.

And remember dear friends...

Ephesians 3:20
Glory belongs to God, whose power is at work in us. By this power he can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.