Friday, February 27, 2009

Forgiveness: More Than a Feeling

Ever since Pastor Guy did a sermon on forgiveness, I have heard different people wrestling with the concept. The number one issue is that they aren't "ready" to forgive. At the risk of seeming very black and white, forgiveness isn't about our "readiness". It is about our obedience.

Nowhere in scripture does it tell us to forgive when we aren't mad or hurt anymore. However, in 2 Corinthians 2:11 God's word says to forgive so that we may not be outwitted by Satan. Clearly, unforgiveness opens us up to all kinds of bitterness, and has the potential to take the joy out of every other situation.

I have many occasions where I have wanted to withhold forgiveness, instead preferring to wallow in the injustice of whatever had taken place. I would wear these things as badges, giving me permission to feel sad, picked on, better than someone else. For me, it boiled down to feeling self-righteous.

Also, forgiveness does not depend on the size of the offense. I have had things happen where I may have been justified by the world for not forgiving, but being able to forgive those things has helped me grow. Weirdly, it is not the "big" stuff that I have a harder time forgiving, but the petty stuff.

On the other hand, let's say you have taken the high road. You have tried to forgive and forget, to move forward. You have made a conscious decision to leave the past in the past. But there is that nagging voice in your head, reminding you of what that person did. Every time something new comes up, the past comes flying in to stand along side it so it is no longer one offense, but a series of offenses. It happens to me all the time. When it does, make no mistake that that is not the Lord's voice. It is the voice of the enemy who would prefer to see us looking in the rearview mirror all the time, rehashing whatever got to us in the first place. If you "resist the devil, he will flee from you." James 4:7. I have this little self-talk that I do. I tell myself that I have forgiven those things and I ask God to help me not dwell on them. I can promise you that the things that used to flood my mind do so no longer. But it is a choice and a discipline. Kind of like exercise, but only my heart is getting into shape.

If you are struggling to forgive, remember that our Father forgives us not because we deserve it, but because He chooses to. Don't wait until you feel like someone deserves it, because forgiveness is to be given freely, unconditionally.

Finally one last "how can she say that?" thought, that is not mine but God's word:
"For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forigve others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matthew 6:14

Monday, February 23, 2009

Random Thoughts

Here are some quick, random thoughts:
  • For a couple weeks I have a child and a grandchild the same age. How weird is that?
  • Beautiful sight this weekend: almost completely full church parking lot.
  • Today is the anniversary of mine and Rob's first date. He remembered. I remembered until today. Hate it when that happens.
  • The Prayer of Jabez has not fallen by the wayside. Just waiting for confirmation before I can share. Keeping secrets is hard for me, trust me.

Going to spend some quiet time with God now and have a cup of tea. I have a new favorite, Heavenly Hibiscus Mint. Good night.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Broken, Again

Our newest Bible study started today. I am always really excited on the first day, meeting new people, checking out the new study, wondering what God has in store for all of us. Since I was bringing the treat today I also provided the centerpiece. Running on only a few hours of sleep, I was looking all around this morning for something that would share my personality. I settled on a little Willow Tree Angel. This isn't just any angel. She is the Angel of the Kitchen, and in her hands sit a little teapot. And, she isn't just any Angel of the Kitchen. Her head and teapot have been broken off and glued back on. I told my Bible study group this morning that she is a lot like me, because I feel like I have been broken and set back with the glue of God's word. She still looks pretty anyway, until you notice the scars. (We've already talked about scars before.) I was feeling pretty good about my analogy.

As we were in the process of cleaning up to leave, somehow my angel got unrolled from the towel she was in and dropped on a tile floor. Now her hands, arm, teapot, and head are in a heap next to her body. She is in serious need of repair. While I considered just putting the whole thing in the trash, I reconsidered. At no time does God give up on us. No matter how broken we are, God can heal us. He is Jehovah Rapha, the Lord Who Heals. No matter how many times we come to Him to be healed or forgiven, He will not turn His back.

A comment at the end of my last post asked what I did once I realized I had been duped into sinning all day. I did the only thing I could do: fall on the grace of God. Recognize my shortcomings and ask God to forgive me, to lead me in His way everlasting. To not be blinded again by my own abilities, but to rely on Him. Like my Willow Tree Angel, it is not the last time He will have to pick up the pieces.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


This will be a quick and straight to the point post: the enemy got the best of me. It took me most of Monday to figure it out. I spent the day restless, edgy, searching my cupboards for food that woudn't satisfy me anyway. It wasn't a bad day. I was just feeling "off." I even got up early to have my quiet time and reread the section on God's protection in my Beyond Jabez book. I thought I had strapped on the full armor of God. I think the only thing I put on actually was a silly cape of my own pride and self-righteousness.
"So, if you think you are standing firm,
be careful that you don't fall!" 1 Cor 10:12.
I was on the lookout for scary things in the house, bad "feelings", disembodied voices, you know, the Hollywood picture of evil. I underestimated the sneakiness of being kept off-balance and edgy. I am always telling people that the devil can't take away your salvation, but he can keep you distracted enough to be useful in the Kingdom. Sometimes I should talk less and listen more.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

LPM Memory Verse #4

"But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one."
2 Thessalonians 3:3, NRSV
This is the verse I chose. At first it seemed too short to be worthy of memorizing, like the Word of God has to justify itself to me by its length. I read the ones other people posted on Beth Moore's blog and they were a lot longer; some people even memorized whole passages. They must be like, way more Christian than me. After I had the talk with myself that it is not a spitting contest, I came back to this verse. I had prayed this morning that God would lead me to a chapter to find a verse in. I'm sure I heard the whisper of Thessalonians. Since He didn't specify which one, I read them both, and couldn't put it out of my head all day. I had trouble choosing just one verse.
This verse spoke to me because of the two promises: He will strengthen me. Good, because trying to do it myself by being "good" only gets me so far. He will guard me from the evil one. Even better, because any time we step out in faith we are stepping into someone else's arena. I have had many times in my life where I could definitely feel the evil around. I don't like to think about or bring up these times, but through the authority of Christ Jesus, I can claim authority over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will hurt me. (Luke 10:19). I am learning not to be afraid to call a spade a spade, instead of justifying something as a quirk or addiction, to recognize the source. We, as believers, have authority over the enemy. To have the Lord promise to guard me from the evil one gives me great comfort.
Jabez update: I didn't write this week because there was a bit of drama in my world, but new territory is being claimed for the Lord. I had an opportunity to share with someone who is caught in a downward spiral of addiction the hope found in the Word. To remind him of what he knew to be true 20 years ago, but has since turned into a faith needing proof and feelings to accompany the Word. God has been showing me many opportunities to share His Word and His hope. I am praying daily that He put His words in my mouth when I need them, to build relationships His way instead of my over-enthusiastic, self-centered way. To strengthen me His way, and protect me from evil. Amen to that.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Aarghhh!!!! or However You Spell That Charlie Brown Sound

Definition of frustration: Carefully checking each strand of white lights before staple- gunning them to the basement ceiling, only to have 90% stop working when I flip the switch again. So now I have a bunch of non-twinkling lights stapled to my ceiling. What am I supposed to do with that?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Treasure Hunter

I am a person who likes a good mystery, preferably one based in reality. The Scriptures often provide more questions than answers, especially when you consider that we are getting the information without the innate historical references that someone who lived 2,000 years ago would have. Reading a book about how to simplify my life has yielded a mystery.

We all know the scripture about storing up our treasures in Heaven, not material goods on the earth, found in Matthew 6:19-21. Good advice for not getting hung up on the things that don't last forever. Pretty basic. The next verse, Matthew 6:22, KJV, says "The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light." I have interpreted that verse myself in different ways, such as keeping my eyes off things that aren't pure and godly. I can't be filled with light if I am taking in darkness. Good and admiral application, but maybe I'm not right.

In his book "Freedom of Simplicity", Richard Foster puts it this way: "It refers to both a single aim in life and to a generous unselfish spirit. The two ideas have such a close connection in the Hebrew mind that they can be expressed in a single phrase. Singleness of purpose towards God and generosity of spirit are twins."

Where have you seen a single eye shining light staring at you? Do you think that maybe the founding fathers of our country were not only thinking of the All-seeing Eye of Providence when they put that eye on top of the pyramid on the Great Seal of America? Do you think they were cautioning future generations not to store up our treasures based on material wealth? Were they reminding us that our purpose towards God and our spirit of generosity should go hand in hand? That we need to glorify God through our acts of generosity? It is no accident that the Great Seal is on the back of our money, so we can be reminded of what it stands for every time we see it. I couldn't find anything to support my idea officially, but I do know that Ben Franklin and his contemporaries had strong faith and were actively seeking the Lord's blessing on our country. The words above the pyramid, which I never noticed before, say ANNUIT COEPTIS, which is Latin for "The Lord has favored our undertaking."

That's your history lesson for today, kids. Next time you are holding your money, look at the eye. To me, I will consider if what I am storing up in my life supports a singleness of spirit.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

My Attempt at Poetry

We are reading Confessions of a Prayer Wimp for Mom Time. It is a really good book, not fluffy yet still meaty, humorous without being zany. The author references Robert Frost's poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, which I had never actually read. Reading it inspired me to write my own "time-out" poem more relevant to our times. Enjoy, (or don't!) I had fun.

Stopping by the Park on a Sunny Day

What park is this? I think I know.
So this is where my taxes go.
I don’t know why I’ve never come
To watch the sun and warm wind blow.

My little car must think it’s queer
To stop without a Wal-mart near.
Between the sky and soft green grass,
Quietly hoping that God is here.

My cell phone buzzes, my heart sighs.
Just give me a minute, my spirit cries.
There’s only one sound I want to hear,
“Well done, child,” He says as I rise.

I long to stay and linger awhile
In this place so far, though it’s only a mile.
But there are kids to get and dinners to fix.
“I can be there, too,” I hear with a smile.
“I can be there, too,” I hear with a smile.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Prayer of Jabez Update

Before I share my week with you, let me assure you that I don't think the Prayer of Jabez is a lucky charm, incantation, or magic lamp. The words are simply a direct prayer, straight-forwardedly asking God for more. More blessing, more impact, more guidance, more protection, and less chance to do harm. I have been praying for these things every day for 1 1/2 weeks, and I can testify that He has answered this prayer.

More blessing: Some tangible, touchable blessings, yes, but mostly an awareness of how blessed I truly am. To be able to look at my life and see His hand and provision in it. Nothing like realizing how good you really have it, right where you are.

More impact: Without divulging secrets or things whose time has not yet come, I have definitely been given opportunity to have a greater impact for God. One very concrete example: there was a woman I met but didn't get her last name or how to get in touch with her. I felt very prompted to write her a letter but had no way to get it to her. I prayed that if God wanted her to have this, He would make a way. Tuesday morning she walked into my small group and I gave her the letter, which I had been carrying around for three weeks hoping to run into her. (Literally, if necessary!)

More guidance: With greater opportunity comes a greater chance to screw up. God has answered my prayer a few times with words or scriptures I didn't know I had in my head. He put them there when I needed them. I have also felt more of a calm in my house, with my rambunctious kids. His love, His endless supply of love.

More protection: When I start rattling the cage, asking to be set free for God's use, the enemy is listening too. I was shown through a creepy dream/half-awake thing how and when I have been oppressed. When you start trying to help people out of their bondage, you are stepping into someone else's territory. I have been praying fervently, unceasingly, for the protection of my God and Savior to be upon me and my house, and those I come in contact with. The enemy cannot abide in the presence of our God, so I take every opportunity to call on Him for protection. Darkness cannot exist where there is Light.

That I may do no harm: All these blessings and opportunities, if not checked and balanced, can lead to a big swelled ego. With pride and motive in the way, I lose sight of the bigger picture, accomplishing something for God's glory, not my own. It is my prayer to not get my own agenda in the way of whatever God will graciously consider using me for.

It has been an awesome adventure this last week. I am still sitting on 20 copies of the book The Prayer of Jabez if anyone wants to come along. Not a lucky charm or genie in a bottle, just a sincere prayer expressing sincere desire to share what God has done for me.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

LPM Memory Verse #3

I, or rather, God, has chosen my next memory verse for the Beth Moore challenge. First, let me give glory to God for this verse, that He does everything in perfect timing. I have spent the latter part of last week scouring the Bible for a verse to bonk me on the head. I prayed about which one would serve me as well as the first two, Hosea 10:12 and Psalm 130:7. Yesterday, He gave me the same verse twice in a row from two different sources within five minutes. The first time I read it, I thought it was cool. The second time I saw it He had my full attention. Not ahead of time, the way I like things, but at the right time. AMEN!

Like a lot of moms, I sometimes feel the daily grind of trying to teach my kids the right way is exhausting. How many years do I have to say the same thing over and over before I see results? Then, when I think we are on the right track, somebody does something that makes me wonder where I went wrong.

Here is the encouragement from God Himself that there is light at the end of the tunnel (and it's not a train!):

"They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will be a people blessed by the Lord,
they and their descendants with them."
Isaiah 65:23
I have to run now and remember that I am not toiling in vain...
Don't make me come up there!...