Forgiveness

Keep Calm and...Choose Grace!

Ok, I know that’s a pretty tall order, and thankfully the Holy Spirit helps us to become more and more like Jesus… if we LET Him.  So the other night as I was tucking my 10 year old into bed, we went through ‘the routine’.  (Who knew that when I made up my own words to ‘You Are My Sunshine’ when he was an infant that I would still be requested to sing those same “homemade lyrics” 10 years later?!  Tip: If you’re a new parent, choose your bedtime routine carefully; you very well may be repeating it many times for years to come! Lol)  Anyway, it was during this sweet time that we began talking about why God wants us to repent of our sins even though He already knows what we did.  I shared with him that James 5:16 says that we should also confess our sins to one another;  “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”  

It was after I read this that I asked my son, “Is there anything you want to confess to mom?  God says you will be healed, and this can also mean that you will feel better inside.”  I then waited in silence, praying in my mind that God would encourage him to share with me.  It seemed like I waited a long time and then suddenly his little face began to twist and I saw his bottom lip start to quiver.  I kept praying silently, waiting, & hoping he would confess to me.

“Mom” he said, now sobbing, “I put an app on my iPod about 15 minutes ago that you told me you didn’t want me to download.”

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In my mind I started thinking….really?!  15 minutes ago you did this?  Where was I?  What app?  Why did you do this? and based upon my thoughts I knew I had a choice.  In this moment I could FREAK OUT or I could remain calm and choose grace.

As he continued to cry over his disobedience, my heart broke and all I wanted to do was hug him!   I knew that he was truly sorry for his behavior.  I led him in a prayer to ask God to forgive him since God has commanded us to “obey your father and mother” and he hadn’t obeyed me, and then I told him how much I loved him. I also told him that while honest confession may not always mean that there will not be a consequence, God did promise that healing would come.  And it did for him!

While leaving his room that night, I sensed I got to experience in a small way how God must feel when we confess to Him and are truly repentant.  As a parent I felt closer to my son, and I thanked God that I could remain calm and demonstrate the same grace to my son that God grants to me everyday.

Written by: Jamie Shaver

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A “Fit of Flesh” at the USPS

Yeah, so the Bible tells us that we have 3 enemies: the world system, the flesh and the devil.  I like to blame the devil for most of my shortcomings, although when I really think about it, many of my shortcomings are from the enemy called “my flesh”.  That’s the “enemy” that arrives with us when we are born into this world that desires things that are opposite of what God wants for us.  God says it like this:

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Galatians 5:17 ESV

Well yesterday I went into the post office to drop-off a prepaid package for delivery.  When I noticed tape sitting on the “preparation” counter, I used it to more firmly secure the entry points of the package I was mailing and set it back down on the counter where I found it.  Upon leaving one of the workers comes storming out into the parking lot shouting “ma’am, ma’am, you didn’t pay for the tape!”  in front of other patrons that were walking into the post office.

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“I thought the tape was free to use” I explain calmly (I had not taken the tape with me) “like when I go to the UPS store and they have it out as a ‘thank you for doing business here’ sort of gesture.”   I’m speaking as I walk briskly to keep up with this woman.   Once inside the building, I’m still talking calmly when she suddenly blurts out to the only other person standing in line in the post office and says:

“I can take you right here” and begins helping this other woman as if I wasn’t talking and was not even there.  So now I find myself flagged down in the parking lot, accused of stealing tape, ignored, embarrassed, in line and my blood is beginning to boil!  So what does yours truly do?  Well, I’m sorry to have to admit the “fleshly” thing … I kept talking, only louder now!  (My flesh had been quite easily offended and desired to be right about all things pertaining to this situation.  It was not about the money, I felt it was about the “principle.”  I believed they were being intentionally deceptive to patrons, NOTE: I was putting intention into a situation that I have no proof was ever there!).

“I think this is false advertising that you set out tape, and then expect me to buy it.  You guys put this 1 role of tape over here on this counter with the other preparation material.  This is about a principle, you set this up in a deceptive way…..(and I wish I could say I stopped, but

No-oooo, I continued on until she was finished with the woman in front of me.  Yes, I continued to spew my opinion loudly, and I’m sure make everyone feel uncomfortable.  I was THAT person!)

Then it was my turn and since I hadn’t stopped to take a breath I now stepped up to the counter and continued my “fit of flesh,”  now in interrogation mode:

“This is wrong, you are being deceptive and now you are making me buy tape I don’t need because I thought that it was free for anyone to use.  How did that tape even get there?”

“When I was re-stocking the shelves I must have accidentally left it there” she said.

“Did you accidentally rip off the 1/4”, perforated, huge cardboard price tag too?  There is no price tag on this.” I pointed out.

Silence…

“Well give me a Sharpie so I can write ‘Free to Use’ on both sides of this tape so the next person doesn’t get ripped off like I did.”  I demanded.  She handed me the Sharpie and I wrote that phrase on both sides of the tape’s plastic dispenser it was being held in.  Before leaving I put the tape back where I found it on the “preparation” counter and quickly left the building, in fact so quickly that I never even stopped to get my change.  

About 30 seconds after leaving, when I had finally stopped talking, I heard in my heart the familiar voice of the Holy Spirit say “was that really necessary to behave that way?  You know you bear my name right?”

I was crushed.  What felt necessary in the moment to defend myself and my integrity, now felt horrible.  I knew what I had to do.  I had to get my heart right with God, by asking for His forgiveness and then go back into that post office and ask for their forgiveness too.

Today I did just that.  It was humbling to say the least, as I walked back in and saw the scared look on the woman’s face.  Yeah, she was probably wondering why “angry lady” was back!  However, the freedom that came and the peace that engulfed my Spirit when I asked for both workers’ forgiveness and admitted that I had acted in a rude manner yesterday was priceless!  I pray now that whenever those workers see that tape with “free to use” written on the sides that it no longer reminds them of the “angry lady” but instead reminds them of a repentant heart.

Is there any person/people you need to ask for forgiveness in your life right now?  Do it quickly!  

“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13 NIV

Written by: Jamie Shaver

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Tips for Joyous, 'Unoffendable' Holidays

The holidays are a glorious time when we get together with family and friends.  However, the joy can also be accompanied by angst knowing you will be spending time—perhaps extended time—with the very person or people who most easily can ‘get under your skin’. Author Joyce Landorf calls them ‘irregular people”; often related to us, they are the people who tend to say or do the very opposite of what we would prefer to hear or to have happen. For instance, we seek to hear a word of love and encouragement and instead we hear a word that leads us to feel criticized, unappreciated, and even worthless. In their presence we can easily be offended, and if we are not mindful, we can easily offend them.

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 It is when we are with those with whom we have a history of disappointment and pain that our ‘flesh’ can easily rise up and show its ugly head. If we are not careful, rather than seeking God’s will, His righteousness and His ways, our focus will be on our will, our ‘rights’, and doing things our way. We must be intentional about having God’s perspective or we will easily sin against the other person in thought or deed, and our sin against others is ultimately always a sin against God, our— and their— Creator.

Here are some tips for how you can have an ‘unoffendable’ holiday:

  • Above all else, be prepared with prayer! Ask God to give you His heart of love for all the people with whom you’ll interact, and especially for the person who tends to hurt or aggravate you most.  Ask Him to enable you to see the person as He sees them. Ask Jesus to purify your heart so you can be what He has called and created you to be—a vessel through which His unconditional love flows from Him, through you, and to others. Ask Him to give you His grace to obey John 13:34-35: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
  •  Ask God to give you His eyes to see yourself:  you are His Beloved child: the daughter of the ‘King of Kings’ and ‘Lord of Lords’! Keep in mind that you are living to please an Audience of One, and His name is Jesus.  It is between that other person and God how he/she treats you; it is between you and God how you treat that person.  Seek to please God and to hear His voice above the voice of all others. It is only His view of you that truly matters.
  •  Go with realistic expectations. Don’t rehearse past hurts but also don’t expect the person to be someone they are not. Remember, sinners are going to do what sinners do—-which is sin.
  • Choose not to be easily offended.  Ask God to give you an ‘unoffendable heart’. If the person says something to stir you up, immediately ask God to put a seal over your mouth so you don’t say anything that will ‘fuel the flames’ and hurt them and grieve God.  Remain silent until you can respond out of God’s heart of love.
  • Humble yourself and quickly apologize if you do offend.
  • Forgive freely as you have been freely forgiven.
  •  Look to give love, not to get it. Put the other person’s interests above your own. For example, initiate conversation about their interests. For example, if that person is a football fanatic, even if you aren’t, ask him about his favorite team and make sure to engage with your eyes, ears, and mind as he responds. And don’t be thinking, “So when are they going to ask me about my interests?” or “I’ll show an interest in them after they’ve shown an interest in me.”
  •  Listen! With your heart, not just your ears! Many times, especially with people with whom we’ve had past conflicts, we tend to focus our thoughts more on what our response will be rather than truly listening to what they’re saying with the intent of understanding them.  Determine to seek to understand the other person, not focus on being understood.
  • Be willing to die to your ‘right to be right’ in order to be in right relationship with the other person, and more importantly, blameless before God.
  •  Remind yourself that you are a sinner in need of the grace and mercy of God…just like the other person who has offended you in the past, and extend to him or her the love that God has so graciously extended to you.

 In other words…put into practice God’s love:

Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. “1st Corinthians 13:4-7 Amplified

Written by Julie Van Gorp

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What To Do & Pray When You've Hurt Someone

When I think about the moment the words flew out of my mouth, I just want to cringe.  I wish I could take them back, my intent was pure, but the timing was awful and worse yet, I had misunderstood something earlier in the day…so what does all this equal? I offended my friend.

I was wrong.

She was hurting.

I knew I had to talk about this with her, but first

I needed to do these 4 things:

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  1. Pray-  Confess it as sin before God and ask for His forgiveness. 

I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide. I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord [continually unfolding the past till all is told]—then You [instantly] forgave me the guilt and iniquity of my sin. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!- Psalm 32:5

He who covers his transgressions will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes his sins will obtain mercy- Proverbs 28:13

If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].- 1 John 1:9

2. Confess your sin to a trusted friend or mentor (motive check: be careful not to share it with others as a way to gossip or have your "side" heard, notice the verse below says confess your faults, not your "reasons, justifications or others' faults")

Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healedand restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]. - James 5:16

3. Pray- Ask God for perfect timing, pray for the words to speak, pray they are received,

In a recent blog “Wisdom Hunters” wrote titled "Timing Matters":

“Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. Mark 8:30

Timing is everything. It is the difference between a strike and a home run in baseball. It determines if a cake is moist and baked perfectly, or hard and dry. Timing in conversation can solicit receptivity or invite defensiveness. It may grow or hinder relationships. When and how we move forward with a decision to change determines the degree of success. Yes, timing in telling the truth is best when anger has subsided and hearts are comforted. Prayer leads to the right time.”

4. Humble Yourself- Ask your friend for forgiveness.  Do not try to defend your actions, or talk over the situation again with hopes that he/she will see it from your point of view.  Take full responsibility, be humble, and willing to “let go” of the details and your need to be “understood," “right,”  or "justified."  

He leads the humble in what is right, and the humble He teaches His way.- Psalm 25:9

Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves].- Philippians 2:3

We cannot control how others will respond to us when we ask for forgiveness, but we can know that we are right before God when we have done these things with sincere repentance, and a pure heart.

Written by: Jamie Shaver

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How to Respond When Someone Hurts You

A dear friend of mine’s husband has disappointed and gravely hurt her by his unfaithfulness, and she’s been left with a gaping wound.   The enemy of her soul is doing his best to get her consumed with unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness— ‘settled anger’ –so that those sins will eat away at her and negatively impact her fruitfulness for His kingdom. I imagine you can relate to this temptation because you too have been wounded by someone else’s sin—no matter how ugly— and have heard Satan’s voice wanting you to rehearse over and over again every aspect of the sin that was committed against you.   It is when you have been wounded by someone else’s sin that you are extremely vulnerable to the attack of the enemy, and when it is especially critical that you ”guard your heart.” (Proverbs 4:23) You must fight this tactic of the Enemy to keep you in a place of anger and resentment as if your life depends upon it—because it does!

This does not in any way mean that the pain when someone deeply sins against you is not real. Oh, it’s very real! And, the closer our relationship is with the person who wounded us the greater the pain. God does not expect or want us to deny the reality of the pain. That would be like saying that if someone stabbed you in the gut it was merely a flesh wound.  If it were a physical wound, you would immediately seek medical attention and go to the Emergency Room.

Praise be to God that we have a Great Physician who longs to and is able to heal us when we have been wounded in our spirit! He says to us, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.”(Matthew 28:11Amplified) Jesus came to bind up the broken hearted (Isaiah 61:1Psalm 147:3).

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Jesus is a Physician Who totally understands how to deal with your pain because, “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Jesus was betrayed, abandoned, and forsaken by His closest friends.  And He endured that pain— as well as the physical pain of crucifixion and the even greater pain of separation from His Heavenly Father—for my sake and yours. He can understand your pain like no one else does or ever could.

When you are tempted to withhold forgiveness from those who have hurt you, remember that Jesus fully understands your struggle.  Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

If we are not to succumb to sin when we have been offended, we must do as Jesus did when He was tempted.  He went to the Word and picked up the ‘Sword of the Spirit’  (the Word of God) so He could defeat the attack of the enemy (Matthew 4:1-11). God’s Word, the Bible tells us that Jesus on the cross cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) We have been called to follow Jesus’ example and forgive those who’ve hurt us too. In the deepest sense, they too have no idea what they arereally doing.  Apart from the grace of God at work in your life and mine, there is no sin that we are not fully capable of committing too.

When someone hurts you, look to Jesus, look to the cross!  “Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3) Look to the One Who was ‘wounded for your transgressions’ (Isaiah 53:5), and respond as he responded.

Pour your heart out to Jesus and ask Him to give you His heart. Ask Him to give you eyes to see your offender as He sees you—eyes filled with love and the understanding that all sinnersare going to sin and all desperately need a Savior! Jesus’ forgiveness of your sin has allowed you to go ‘from death to life’; He asks you to be a willing vessel through which His Spirit can move and allow His forgiveness for the other person to flow through you. If you are willing to turn to Him when you are in pain and to ask Him to fill you with His love and forgiveness, He will enable you to forgive the one who hurt you, no matter the depth of your pain. God gives us the privilege of partnering with Him to help bring those who’ve offended us from ‘death to life’ by ‘forgiving as He’s forgiven’ us. (Colossians 3:12-13)

Are you aware that after someone hurts you deeply that you are extremely vulnerable to and must guard yourself against Satan’s attack to take you captive to the sins of unforgiveness, bitterness, and resentment? Are you willing to take your pain to Jesus and allow Him to bring healing to you and to give you the power to ‘forgive as He’s forgiven you’?

Written by Julie Van Gorp

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?