Be Selfish – Forgive

18 08 2015

Okay, this probably isn’t the sort of ‘selfish’ that comes to mind, but it’s truth.

What do I mean?

Forgiving others is something we do primarily  for ourselves.

Most likely, the offending party moved on with life – hasn’t given us a second’s thought since the event.

Meanwhile, we carry the stinking carcass of ‘what they did/said’ around like it’s a prize buck.

Did you catch the word stinking? It sure does. And folks around us gets a whiff of that mess whenever we’re near.

What’s worse is that we pick up the arrow they shot us with – and continue to stab ourselves with it. This happens every time we rehearse the scene.

They injured us once, we re-injure ourselves over and over and over.

Sometimes for decades.

What’s worse is the corpse draws flies…

…which lay eggs that become maggots…

In no time the thing is a writhing mass!

You get the picture!

Yech! 😛

Do I know that this is easier said than done.

Yes indeed, I do.

But this is something I do for me.

I want to be free.

All those flies and maggots? Those are unrelated events that *feel* like the original injury and so attach themselves.

Ever had an over-reaction to something minor?

Yep.

Out popped another maggot.

We do not want to go through life with unresolved issues that cause others to shrink back from the stench.

Ever been around a bitter, resentful person? Not fun.

This is, without a doubt, a nauseating mental image. You’re welcome.

Now you understand why we’re commanded to forgive!

That disgusting illustration describes much of my life…and perhaps why I haven’t had many friends over the years.

This year I decided to do something selfish. Something that’s just for me.

I began to make lists of my offenders and forgive them.

In some cases, a single event required the 70 x 7 times of forgiveness of which Jesus spoke. Nevertheless, I had to let it go – and then let it go – and then let it go…

Sometimes I didn’t fully mean it – so I didn’t lie. Instead, I asked Father to help me be willing to forgive them…

…or even willing to be willing to forgive.

In these instances, I forgave as an act of obedience. That was as far as I could go at the moment.

Next, I asked Abba to forgive them, and to lead them into a vibrant relationship with Himself. After all, He loves them, too. (That can be a tough one to swallow!)

I may select a passage from Scripture to pray over them – like Colossians 1:9-13.

In addition, I pray for myself:

Lord, create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit in me.Give me Your love for them.

(Which doesn’t mean I have to trust them or put myself into their line of fire again. Please note that.)

Those two bases covered, I next ask the Lord to examine my heart and show me where I’ve been tripped up by what happened.

While I may have had no fault in the event, what my heart did with the offense is my responsibility. They didn’t ‘make me’ do or feel anything. That bit was on me.

At the very least, I usually have to confess to hanging onto the hurt. In every instance the reason has been a lack of trust in God to handle the other person.

Sometimes I’m angry that He didn’t blast them off the planet. That’s exactly what I wanted my ‘loving Father’ to do!

I prefer grace for me – judgment for everyone else.

{Yes, that was my ‘outside voice.’}

Which leads me to the next step in forgiveness.

(Don’t freak out on me here)

I need to forgive God.

Did He do anything wrong?

No. His ways are always perfect.

Was I offended by His response to the situation?

You betcha’!

Here’s the thing. I can put on my ‘nice Christian’ face and be incensed that someone would have the audacity to suggest such a thing…

…and let my resentment and distrust toward God continue to grow in the dark recesses of my mind until I walk away from Him altogether.

Or

I can speak what’s in my heart to the Lord; and forgive what I ‘perceived’ to be His disinterest or abandonment, etc.

He already knows how I really feel, and what I believe to be true about Him.

Very often, when I feel distant from God it’s because I’m holding something against Him. The error is entirely with me, but I’m offended nonetheless.

*This is a golden moment. Don’t skip this bit.*

It’s at this point that I ask Him to teach me truth about Himself, or to show me the event from His perspective.

There is something here for me to learn, if I will but have the ears to hear.

Finally, I come to the part that I forget most often:

I must forgive myself.

Not in every instance. There may be nothing here.

{Often, however, at the very least I forgive myself for misunderstanding God and ascribing to Him some horrible characteristics that simply were not true. If this is the case, I circle back around and ask God to forgive me for believing such lies about Him as well. See, this isn’t arrogance. It’s truth. And He desires that we know truth in the inmost parts.}

Right at this point we have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of ‘all things work together for good.’ If this event brought to light a lie I believed about God, that is a good thing indeed.

No, He didn’t bring this injury upon us. We live in a fallen world where hurt people hurt people. But, He’s going to bring benefit to us from the thing if we will let Him.

What others meant for evil, God meant for good.

The goal is to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This means identifying lies and replacing them with truth.

Back to forgiving myself.

It may be that I accepted responsibility for someone else’ s words or actions. I may have believed myself the one to be blamed, that I somehow deserved what they said/did.

Perhaps I’ve come into agreement with lies about myself: ‘I’m so stupid.’ Or ‘How could I have fallen for that?’

To forgive myself is another useful tool for locating faulty beliefs so they can be dismissed. Dig up the root, and everything that attached to it dies.

We’re not so ‘stinky’ to be around; things begin to change – in us – and we walk in greater freedom, light, and love.

Forgiveness is a beautiful thing.

It’s the healthiest ‘selfishness’ in which we’ll ever indulge.

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Born Blind

9 06 2015

John 9 precedes John 10. Go figure!

Chapter 9 is about the man born blind who receives his sight, and the questioning he got from the Pharisees.

It’s kinda funny that Jesus would put clay on a blind man’s eyes, making him doubly blind…and then send him to find the pool of Siloam so he could wash the stuff off. Did he have someone to help him find the place??

Those who’d seen him begging for years marveled.

What do you do when someone receives a miraculous healing? Call in the preachers so they can make sense of the thing.

These folks were no different. Enter the Pharisees…

whose first action was to check their calendar.

Uh oh. It’s the Sabbath. This couldn’t be a ‘God thing,’ because this Man is a rule-breaker!

Displeased with the guy-who-sees’ answer as to by whom he was healed, they call in his parents.

“Was he blind? Are you sure he was blind? Positive? Then how is it possible that he can see?”

Whoa! Did the parents even have time to celebrate with their son?

Their elation quickly shifted to fear as the questioning continued. The wrong answer would get them kicked out of the synagogue…disastrous, since this family was poor enough that their son had to beg. This meant far more than the loss of their “church.” It also meant the loss of society and probably the father’s job. (Jewish New Testament Commentary)

They tossed this ‘hot potato’ back into their son’s lap: “Ask him. He’s old enough to speak for himself.”

By now guy-who-sees is getting snarky. “I told you already (what happened) and you didn’t listen. Why do you want to hear it again? You don’t want to become His disciples too, do you?”

He goes on to say: I don’t know who He was. I only know that I was blind – and now I see. God wouldn’t give a sinner the ability to give me sight. It’s never been done before. If this guy wasn’t from God, He could do nothing.

Now it’s the Pharisees’ turn to be snarky. You were born ‘entirely in sins,’ (Like they weren’t. 😉 ) and you are teaching us??

What happens when you get healed in a church that is ‘suspect’?

These ‘good Pharisees’ called the man a bastard (mamzer…illegitimate son – same thing, Jewish NT Commentary), and kick him out of the synagogue.

Doesn’t this strike you as an odd reaction to a miraculous healing?

While he gained sight, he lost the world around him.

But gained the Lord!

Jesus heard what happened, and came looking for him. With the Pharisees eavesdropping, He addresses the fellow. After a short exchange, the ex-communicated Jew becomes a follower.

Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see; and those who see may become blind.”

The Pharisees pipe in, ” Hey, are you calling us blind?”

“If you were blind, you would have no sin, but now you say, ‘We see’; your sin remains.”

The judgment of which Jesus is speaking, doesn’t contradict John 5:22, 27-30. That judgment takes place at the Second Coming. The judgment of which He speaks here is to make it clear to people where they really stood in respect to God.

The Pharisees had declared their innocence. They were without sin – and by implication, thus had no need for a Savior.

Unable to recognize either their spiritual blindness or their sin, they claimed to ‘see’ – which left them guilty. Jeremiah 2:35 is an almost-identical statement by God to His people.

Chapter 10 is a continuation of this exchange with the Pharisees.

He is the Good Shepherd; He is the Door for the sheep, who know His voice and follow Him (as the once-blind guy is now doing). A stranger (Pharisee) they will not follow.

Jesus states that those who enter the fold by any other way than through the Door is a thief and a robber.

Verse 10 is the the famous, “The thief comes to steal and kill, and destroy, but I have come that they might have life abundant.”

Can you see that these Pharisees swooped in on what should have been the most joyful day of this man’s life – and stole everything they could? By kicking him out of the synagogue, he would not be able to live in that town…no Jew would hire him. It meant a loss of family, friends, society.

An outcast when he was blind – now an outcast because he could see.

Jesus implies that these Pharisees are hirelings…merely in it for the money. They don’t give a rip about the people in their care.

Some ‘got it,’ some didn’t. Division erupted:

“He has a demon.”

“Demons don’t heal.”

Jesus also addressed the issue stirring in their hearts – their desire to kill Him. This desire had barely been conceived, but would eventually give birth to the sin of killing out of selfish ambition, bringing forth death – both of Jesus (physical), and the Pharisees (eternal separation from God). (See James 1:14-15; 4:1-3)

This is all very interesting, but what difference does it make?

{giggle}

Come back tomorrow for the conclusion! 🙂





Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are!

24 07 2014

Have you ever been comforted by the Lord? Have you been released from bondage, had your eyes open to things which you previously could not see? Been cleansed of sin?

Second Corinthians opens with this:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction…”

Why did He do this for us?

“… so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.” (vs. 3-4)

Frustration is running high at the moment. I’ve been searching for someone who’s been in my shoes and shown the way out of the mess.

Those who’ve never been through what I’m dealing with are able to provide some relief, but very little experiential help.

Those who have been there, done that, aren’t talking.

When we are in a war and fighting for our lives, we don’t need pat, textbook ideology. We need a veteran who can share what works, what doesn’t…living, breathing proof that there is hope. We can survive this thing!

Life has been difficult, and a lot of damage was done when I was a child. Through the years, the Lord has been faithful to heal many of those wounds.

While being free of the pain was fantastic – able to respond to a current situation instead of react to ‘triggers’ – I discovered that the ugliness is redeemed every time I reach out to others and comfort them with the same comfort I received from the Lord.

As a veteran, I have more to offer than, “I read in a book…”.

“I’ve been in that trench: These are some of the things you need to pay attention to. Here are some areas to avoid.” 

There are many people who are hurting and in desperate need of hope – the kind of hope only someone who’s been through it can provide. (Think Job and his “helpful’ friends! He called them ‘miserable comforters.‘)

All that to say this: Whatever you’ve done, wherever you’ve been, if you see someone in a similar situation, lay down fears of what people might think if they knew and the pride of wanting to appear perfect, and

for the Kingdom’s sake, tell your story

…and offer to help.

This is the body at its finest,  The healing we receive from the Lord is a gift to us. As I read Scripture, though, I notice that gifts from the Lord are never solely for our consumption (with the exception of tongues). They are meant to be spent on others.

Our past does not define us – “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is gone; the new is come.”

Jesus bore all our shame on the cross. When the enemy uses my history to beat on me, I point to the cross where Jesus declared, “It is finished,” and thank him for the reminder of how much I need Jesus…what a mess I am without Him.

If you’ve been hiding behind a “perfect” facade, unwilling to let others know the secrets of your past, step out and let His glorious work shine through you to reach others. The word, “hypocrite” comes from the theater, and means “actor.” It is only in the dark where the thing has any power to hurt you anymore. In our mind, it grows and grows like dust bunnies under the bed.

Bring your light out from under the bushel basket and watch the hurting be drawn like bugs to a zapper! As an added bonus, you get to walk in the freedom that Jesus paid so high a price to secure.

The world needs the real you, so

Come out, come out wherever you are!





Prayer Needed

3 07 2014

Hi, everyone.

I keep hoping to be posting again the next week…thus far without results. I do hope it will be sometime soon.

Please pray for my family. We are at crisis level in many areas at the moment, and will need the Lord’s intervention to get us through. He knows the issues, so no need to go into detail. Just pray as you feel led.

Thank you in advance. I’m honored to call you “family!’

Hope to write again soon…

 

Love in Christ,

Tami

\o/





Carried On

15 05 2014

Here are wonderful promises for today:

Listen to Me, O house of Jacob,

And all the remnant of the house of Israel,

Who have been upheld by Me from birth,

Who have been carried from the womb;

Even to your old age, I am He,

And even to gray hairs I will carry you!

I have made, and I will bear,

Even I will carry, and will deliver you.

Isaiah 46:3-4

 

And…

Do not remember the former things,

Nor consider the things of old,

Behold, I will do a new thing,

Now it shall spring forth;

Shall you not know it?

I will even make a road in the wilderness

And rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:18-19

Take heart. Our Father is near…He is here! He will never leave nor forsake us. What a wonderful God we serve!!!

 





Impossible!

5 02 2014

Chosen by God…that’s you and me.

We remember the day we were anointed to become kings and priests before our God (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6).

That we were chosen had nothing to do with skills, talents, gifts, abilities, looks, but was based on our heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

Despite being chosen, some of us may not yet be “installed” into the place to which we were called – like David who was anointed to be king of Israel, but was not crowned until many years later.

What do we do in the meantime? Let’s drop in on David in 1 Samuel 17 to see what David did.

We find three of his older brothers with Saul’s army at the Valley of Elah. Across the valley was the Philistine army, along with their champion, Goliath.

Saul had already been rejected by God as king, and David already anointed to take his place.

However, David was at home, tending sheep! Not for long.

Dad called on David to run an errand. He was to take grain, bread, and cheese to the army.

In essence, this anointed one was dispatched as a pizza delivery guy!

It is interesting that David didn’t tell his dad, “What? Are you kidding me? I’m the king! Get one of my other brothers to be your errand boy. That’s not my calling!”

Instead, he obeyed his father and set out for the battle.

As he drew near to the place, he could hear the big mouth of Goliath. Every boast and taunt rankled.

He left the supplies with the supply keeper, then went in search of his brothers.

After he asked what was going on, his oldest brother turned on David and accused him of being a rubbernecker. Undaunted, he went and talked to some of the other men.

Everyone told him how big and mean Goliath was.

On the other hand, David’s question was this: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

The men saw a big problem…David saw his big God.

Saul got word that there was someone willing to take on the giant. He was just a kid, though. What to do?

David was summoned, and the king insisted that the fellow put on his armor.

I think David went along with it just so he could tell his buds back home, “I got to wear Saul’s armor!”

The results were laughable. Saul stood head and shoulders above grown men, and David was just a youth.

It didn’t take much intelligence to realize that this would not go well. He took it off again and deferred to his own weapons – a staff and a sling.

He told of killing a lion and a bear with nothing more than these…and his Lord.

Besides, this guy was bad-mouthing the army of the living God – and it ticked him off. Someone needed to shut him up. If no one else was willing to do the thing, then he’d see to it.

Wearing someone else’s “armor” is awkward.

David knew God could use what this shepherd brought to the table.

He stopped on the way to the valley and selected five smooth stones.

Then came the moment of truth.

Once he stepped into that valley, there was no turning back. Could he do it?

Are you kidding?

He was there to defend the honor of the living God.

Without the first irrevocable step,

all David had said would be just a lot of hot air…

No different than Goliath!

“You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”

“This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.”

Then, in classic Aragorn fashion (Lord of the Rings), David ran toward Goliath.

True to his word, he felled the giant with a single stone, then took Goliath’s sword and severed his head from his body. (Ladies say, “Eew!”)

He took that head with him to Jerusalem. (Double Eew!)

As you see above, there are three things we want to take away from this story:

1. The men saw a big problem…David saw his big God.

When we are faced with difficulties we choose what we will focus on. Will it be the size of the matter before us? Or will it be the size of our living God?

2. Wearing someone else’s “armor” is awkward.

Each one of us has been given, by God’s divine power, all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue (2 Peter 1:3).

In other words, God knew what armor you have before He invited you into this ordeal.

We get ourselves into great trouble when we compare our equipment (anointing, skills, abilities, talents, or gifts) to those around us.

“Oh, if only I could teach like So-and-so.” “Oh, if only I was a prayer warrior like _________.” “If I had leadership skills like Whats-his-face…”

“THEN I could _________________.”

Um…wrong-o! First Corinthians 1:27 reads, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.”

Feeling too weak or foolish to see the thing through? Perfect! You’re exactly the person God wants to use!

Not only that, but we look downright silly trying to “wear” what someone else has when we step into the arena.

3. Without the first irrevocable step, we will be no different than many other people who sit in church on a Sunday singing about how brave they are…

…then go home and do nothing out of fear: fear of failure, of looking foolish, of not doing it right, of what others might think.

Life will come to a close. They’ll draw the sheet up over our heads, and we will have done nothing noteworthy to demonstrate the power of the living God.

Today I want you to know this:

You are enough for anything God wants to do through you!

Get your sling, and I’ll meet you at the edge of the valley, for nothing is impossible…

…with God!

(This was Sunday’s sermon…bits of it, anyway. It was so good that I went back in the evening to hear it again!)





God Found Under a Chair!

28 01 2014

I’ve been walking with the Lord long enough to know that when I have a day like yesterday something amazing is just around the corner.

Why can’t I remember that when the heat is on?

Yesterday was no exception.

The day was long and tiring. Lyric sheets were typed for worship songbooks. The entire time, the enemy was hard at it: lies, condemnation, doubt, fear…relentless. I would emerge from the completion of one song – and realize what was going on in my head. Time out was taken to capture those thoughts, call on the Lord for help, address some of the stuff being thrown at me, and then type the next song.

This went on all day.

By dinner time I was battle-weary, and beginning to succumb to the lies. Sadly, I know better.

A women’s worship/prayer meeting was scheduled for the evening. I nearly didn’t go because I was feeling like I could just slip in under the door…I was that low.

Friends are good. I’d made plans to meet a couple of women there. They were expecting me, so I gathered up my things and headed to the church.

It was a prayer meeting; I expected maybe a dozen women.

To my surprise, it was standing room only – about 100 women showed up…many of them were in their 20s-30s! That was exciting to see.

During the course of the evening, we broke into small groups of 3-4 women to pray for and encourage one another. The prayer time was interspersed with worship.

There were three in our group. We shared some concerns and prayed for one another.

The leader of our group picked up on the fact that our third member stood at a distance from God. She began to question her.

While they talked, I knew in an instant what we should do.

Barb had done this with me years ago – and it changed everything.

“Let’s ask the Lord to tell you how He sees you.”

She got a wary look in her eyes.

Oh, Lord, I prayed, that wall is high and thick. You’ve got Your work cut out for You!

We bowed our heads and made our request. After a couple of minutes, she raised her head and said, “It’s no use. I know what the Bible says, but it just doesn’t get to my heart.”

“That’s okay. I get that. Keep asking Him. Take this question to Him every day until He responds. He wants you to know how much He loves you – far more than you want to hear it. He’s faithful. You’ll see.”

Just then, one of the leaders broke in to announce that there were two women whom the Lord chose to single out for a special blessing. We were to check the underside of our seats for a taped piece of paper.

As my husband often says, “I coulda’ wrote it down.”

Um hmm. On the bottom of this dear lady’s chair was a note. It read:

“You are a beloved child of the King!”

The other woman and I looked at one another and said at the same time, “That was fast!”

God is so good to us!

Do remember that there were about 100 chairs in the room. What are the odds that this particular woman would sit in that particular chair? Personally, I do not believe in coincidence!

Have you taken this question to the Lord? He longs to tell you of His great love. If there’s a wall – if your heart can’t hear His voice – set aside your doubt. He will find a way

Even if it’s through a note placed under your chair!