Monday, September 28, 2015

You Mean I Have to Forgive?!

No, you don’t have to.  But you’ll want to when you know that in order for God to forgive you, you’ll have to be forgiving.  Jesus said so.

But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. ~Matthew 6:15 (NKJV)

God won’t forgive me if I don’t forgive others?  Nope.  How can He when you’re harboring such venom for others?  Oh, I don’t know what they did to you?  No, I don’t.  But you also don’t know what others have done to me, either.  Yet, here we are.

Two Parts

Forgiveness has two parts: 1) forgiveness for others; 2) forgiveness for you.  That may not be very easy for some.  We all go through things in life.  Some things are very difficult to accept.  Some things are beyond comprehension.  But what you need to understand about forgiveness is that regardless of what someone has done to you, forgiving them actually frees you.

It doesn’t mean that you allow that person back into your life to continue the abuse, the hurt, or whatever it is that they did.  Forgiving them doesn’t mean restoration of the relationship.  Forgiving them means that you reconcile to the fact that you forgive them for what they did and you each move on.  That relationship can never be what it once was.  And sometimes it’s better to go separate ways.  Be cordial to one another, but stay at a distance.

Not Off the Hook

Forgiveness also doesn’t mean that you’re letting that person off the hook.  It means that you are willing to let it go into the hands of God and allow Him to take care of the repercussions.

Now, once you forgive your offender, abuser, or whoever they are, you do not get to go back to that offense later down the road however many years and drag it back up, drag them through the mud with it, and accuse them once again.  Not even if they make you mad about something else.

The same is true with you.  Let’s face it, we make mistakes.  We mess up.  I do daily.  And through the years I’ve made some pretty bad mistakes and hurt many different people.  But the beautiful thing about that is, when God healed me I learned to forgive myself.  Yes, I apologized to those I hurt.  Some forgave me, some didn’t.  But I learned to forgive myself and move on.  Yes, I tried to hold onto my own hurt over some things I had done, because a few people chose to hold onto it and try to hold it over my head.  But once I realized that I had apologized not only to them, but to God, it was done.  Over.

What about those who won’t forgive?  What about things I didn’t do that I’m being accused of?  Here’s a little secret; you can’t worry about that.  Give it to the Lord and then leave it alone.  And the biggest thing you can do is to pray for those who are unforgiving.

Take Responsibility

Unforgiving people are very unhappy people.  Rather than take responsibility for their actions, it’s easier for them to blame someone else.  I know.  I’ve been that person.  And it hurts you worse when you do that than it does to admit you made a mistake and ask for forgiveness.

Forgiveness is healing.  It’s a huge release of stress, anxiety, evil thoughts and feelings, it’s very freeing.  Forgiveness releases others and it releases you.  Think of Jesus on the cross.  He had been lied about, lied to, spat upon, beaten, flogged, pierced, called names, ridiculed… There isn’t anything we go through today that He didn’t go through.  And as He was nailed to the cross then hanging there in excruciating pain, what did He do?  He forgave!  He cried out to God and said, “Father, forgive them.  For they know not what they do.”

He forgave!  While dying an innocent, Jesus chose to forgive.  Now… some relationships with Him would never be reconciled or restored.  And that is the most tragic. 

Stop Beating Yourself Up!

There is so much to be said about forgiveness.  By forgiving others you are simply saying, “I’m not allowing this to happen anymore.  I forgive you.”  Then go your way.  Forgiving yourself you just decide to stop beating yourself up for your past mistakes and move forward not repeating them.

One thing Jesus said to some that He forgave, “Go, and sin no more.”  Just don’t repeat it.  Learn from it and move on.  Forgiveness may not be easy, but it’s necessary.

Need a little help?  Ask the Lord.  Let Him teach you how.  He’s really good at it.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Who Needs It?

I'm presently sitting in a very nice hotel room two blocks from Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee.  The door to my sixth-floor balcony is propped open with the trash can because the live band playing Blues music is awesome. Plus, there's a very nice, cool breeze coming in that door. Hey, we're six floors up, no one can window peep (the curtains are closed anyway)!

While I'm sitting here, typing on my iPad,  I'm thinking about all those people I saw earlier as we strolled along Beale Street, my husband and I holding hands, enjoying the scenery and bright lights...and looking for a Starbucks. Okay, I may have a slight addiction. But people watching has become a sort of hobby for me. I love to smile at people as we pass on the street.

I love to try to make eye contact with various people. I want to see their eyes. Are they clear and bright? Dull and lifeless? Sad? Angry? Hurting? Lonely? The eyes are a window into the soul of that person. They tell the story before the mouth will. So in a brief passing if a person will make eye contact, and you are paying attention, you can learn a lot.

How many of those eyes will tell you, "I just want someone to understand?" How many more will say, "I'm hiding behind a lifetime of hurt?" Some even say, "I just want to be healed, but I don't know how."

Everywhere Jesus went, people came to Him to be healed of one thing or another. Some would not ispeak up. Some would. Some would think, if I could just get close enough to touch Him, I will be healed. And they were. But there were also those whom Jesus walked right up to and boldly asked, "Do you want to be made well?" or "What do you want Me to do for you?" Can you imagine?

But really, who needs it? Who really needs healing? And from what? Well, in my case it was depression, intimidation, no self-esteem, no self-worth, and a few other things that just really kept me from having that close relationship with the Lord that He desired to have with me. It also kept me from operating in the ministry He was calling me into, that I thought was just my silly, girlish daydreams. Turns out, I wasn't wrong!

So many people right now are walking in depression, poverty, sadness, hurt, intimidation, abuse, and many other things when they could be walking healed. If they would just look up. Look into their eyes. What do you see? Someone who needs healing? My hope is that when people look into mine, they see Jesus.

So, who needs it?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Walking Healed Community Education Course

I was recently surprised and humbled to be asked by Morthland Christian College in West Frankfort, to teach a Community Education Course based on concepts in my recently published book, Walking Healed.  What a surprise!  What an honor!  I can honestly say that at first I wasn’t certain what I should or could teach about.  But then God brought it to my attention that while I told my healing story in the book, many people might not know or understand what all that means or how that would apply to or even help them.  However if I taught about it, how many more people would hear the glorious things the Lord wants to do with them, too?

But, what to teach on?  It’s going to be a four-week course.  Do I have enough to talk about for four weeks?  Again, He impressed upon me that yes, indeed I do have enough to talk about.  And again yes, it will be enough for four weeks.  So I began writing.  Yes, I am writing my own curriculum for the course.  Another new adventure. 

The course itself will deal with four aspects; healing, forgiveness, grace, and hope.  Everyone deals with these things at some point in their lives.  But what I’ve discovered is that when we receive healing, we find forgiveness.  When we find forgiveness, we find grace.  And when we find grace, we find hope.  They all go together and they’re all tied together through Christ.  

I truly hope the Lord brings many people out for this class. I will also be offering my book, Walking Healed for a reduced price for class participants only.  But you’ll have to register and participate in order to get the book.  . 

If this sounds like something you want to learn more about, you can register by calling the offices of Morthland College at (618)937-2127. Classes will be on Thursday evenings from 6pm to 8pm and will begin October 8, 2015.  They will be held at Whitfield Hall, which is the Methodist Church next to Sonic on Main Street in West Frankfort.

When you register, come and leave me a comment here on my blog or go to my facebook author page at this link:
 and leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you and know how many to expect.  It’s going to be an exciting time!  Let’s all walk healed together!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Who You Talkin' To?

The word today is Pray.  I’ve been thinking a lot about prayer.  Apparently so have a lot of other people.  I say that because my pastor preached about it recently, there’s a movie about it (War Room) and for some reason prayer is exactly what I’ve been struggling with.  That might intimidate some people.  It sometimes intimidates me.  But praying has been on my mind a lot lately, especially with the movie being released.  Maybe you wonder why it’s been prevalent in my mind.  I don’t wonder.  I already know.

Prayer is our direct line to the Lord, to God.  Prayer is our lifeline, it’s our strategy for spiritual warfare, it’s our very life.  And if you think we don’t have spiritual warfare, then you’re not where God wants you to be and the devil isn’t concerned about you.  That’s a scary place to be.  Because if you truly belong to the Lord, if you love Him, serve Him, and walk according to your calling, then you’re sure to be under spiritual warfare and need to be in prayer.

Jesus said this about prayer;

“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” ~Matthew 6:6, NKJV

To pray simply means to have a conversation with our Heavenly Father.  To talk to God.  And with that, many people tense up feel anxious, and some even become fearful.  Talk to God.  The God!  The Maker of the Universe, the earth, sky, trees, waters, birds, fish, animals, and yes even us.  Talk to Him?  Yes!

But how?

For centuries people have wondered the same thing.  How do we actually talk to God?  What is prayer?  How do we do it?  Even Jesus’ Disciples asked Him, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1-4).  They had watched Him go off alone to talk to His Father.  They knew He often got up way before dawn and went to pray. Yet, when it came to them praying, they didn’t know how?

How do we access God?

Simply put, we access God by opening our hearts, our minds, and our mouths and TALK.  How do you talk to your best friend?  It’s the same with God.  Just do it.  There are so many self-help books out there on prayer today.  There are so many acronyms for teaching us the “proper” way to pray.  They’re all very helpful, too.  But if they cause you anxiety, confusion, and prevent you from praying, then my suggestion is to just go to God, humbly, honestly, and reverently (respectfully) and just talk to Him.  That’s all He wants.

God just wants to have a relationship with you.  He wants your attention.  He wants to give you His attention.  He is already listening for you, waiting for you.  He will bend down and give his ear to listen to you.  Why?  Because He loves you.  He is crazy about you.  I mean, He made you so why wouldn’t He be nuts over you?  Really!

Talk to God like you do your best friend.

Yes, I had heard that over and over again for years and years.  Even after God healed me, I prayed to Him, but I still struggled with how to start and how to end.  I thought that by saying “Amen” it meant my prayer was over and the conversation was ended.  But I was wrong.  Amen simply means, “So be it.”  By saying “in Jesus’ name” simply means that we are agreeing with Him, we are praying as He instructed in His Word that we should ask anything in His name.  It’s not hard to do.

“If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” ~John 14:14 (NKJV)

When we talk to God, it’s okay to tell Him how you feel.  He wants to know.  He already knows, but He wants you to tell Him anyway.  By doing that, you are confessing to Him, you’re trusting Him.  You’re getting things off your chest.  You are “casting all your cares upon Him” (1 Peter 5:7).

In turn, God wants you to listen to Him.  Wait patiently for Him to talk to you.  I’ve stood on my porch stoop before, waiting… and waiting… and waiting… thinking He’s never going to say anything.  And when He does, how will I know it’s Him?  Maybe you’re there, too.  Maybe you wonder how you’ll know.  This is what happened to me; as I stood there one day, I decided in my heart that I wasn’t leaving the stoop until He answered me.  I decided that I wanted my joy back and I wasn’t leaving until I had it.  So I closed my eyes and just listened. 

As I stood there listening something happened.  I began to calm down.  I began to enjoy the sounds around me.  And then, ever so subtly, so quietly, I felt the joy wash over me in a soft caress and I knew.  I KNEW it was Him!  How long had I stood there?  I don’t know.  I also don’t care.  Because God, the Creator, Author, and Finisher of not only my faith, but of time was in charge and I was more than happy to let Him be.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry.” ~Psalm 40:1 (NKJV)

Prayer.  It’s simple.   It’s assertive.  It’s bold.  It’s so much more than we make it, yet so much easier than we allow it to be.  Jesus said if we pray in secret, He will reward us openly.  This is so very true!  It’s amazing and it’s wonderful.

In the movie War Room, Miss Clara taught her protégé Elizabeth how to get specific when she prays in her secret war room.  It’s not difficult.  Just write down your specific requests, write down Scriptures, and then PRAY.  But also, don’t forget to write down when God answers your prayers, because He promises that He will.

So, Who are you talkin’ to today?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Talking God and Yourself

He woke me up at six-thirty this morning.  Not so unusual, really.  Also not unusual that I wake up because I usually have to go to the bathroom.  (Incidentally, I’m wondering if this bathroom thing is normal, or if it’s a turning fifty thing.  Hmm.)  So, I wake up early this morning and instantly know that God wants to spend some time with me.  I’ve neglected Him.  A lot.  And I’ve suffered because of it.  It’s my own doing, I know.   I have no excuse.

But getting up early to talk to the Lord this morning, I quickly realized how lax I’d been. As I sat there beginning my time with God this morning, I started my prayer time like I always do, saying the words I always say, and I realized that my words we like a ritual.  They had become a routine.  My own kids don’t talk to me about the same things every time they talk to me.  Why would I say the same things to God?  My words had no meaning, no feeling, no emotion.  I had become stagnant… and that upset me more than anything. My heart broke.

I realized that I had not been honest with God.  I was saying the same things because truthfully I just didn’t want to be honest.  I was afraid that my honesty with my Heavenly Daddy would cause Him to think less of me.  I was afraid that if I were honest with Him about how I felt, honest with Him about the things that were causing me fear and concern, that somehow He would think I didn’t have enough belief in Him or His healing.  The problem was not with God.  The problem was with me.

“Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” *

When we aren’t being honest with ourselves, we are also not being honest with God.  It was just after a very tearful and humbling conversation with the Lord that I picked up my devotional and opened it.  I recently received Sheila Walsh’s new devotional, “5 Minutes with Jesus.”  I had brought it with me on my recent trip to my daughter’s and had yet to spend those five minutes with Him at all, much less open the devotional.  This morning was as good a time as any.

If you know me at all, you know that I’m a bit OCD when it comes to books, devotionals, or anything that you have to read or participate in in a sequence.  It bugs me if I get out of order.  But this morning I opened the devotional and it wasn’t on the first page.  I had opened the book to the second devotion.  But I couldn’t go back because my heart told me to read the one I opened to.  The title was, “Being Honest With God.”  How fitting.

In the devotion Sheila tells a story of a woman who came up to her as she was signing books and yelled, “I’m angry!”  The point was not that the woman was angry as much as she was hurting.  As Sheila talked to the woman, she asked her if she had let God see her rage.  The woman was horrified and declared that she couldn’t talk to God like that.  But it was Sheila’s next statement that hit home with even me.  She asked the woman whether she thought God already knows.  Because He does know.  She wanted this woman to know that He loved her and He wanted her to trust Him enough to tell Him the whole truth about what she was feeling.


God knows our whole story and He loves us.  Anyway.  Despite ourselves.  Despite our mistakes.  He loves us right where we are, in the pit of despair, in the rage we feel at the circumstances of our lives, or losses, our sickness, our pitiful excuses for being a human, God loves us.  Not only that, He also wants us to be truthful with Him and tell Him everything that we are feeling. 

Here’s the deal, reading this devotion this morning I learned within myself that I don’t have to hide anything from God because frankly, He already knows everything about me.  He even knows those things I’m hiding even from myself because I don’t want to deal with them.  I can’t put anything over on God.  And that in itself for me is overwhelming.  Who am I that He would love me anyway?  Who am I that He would send His Son, Jesus to die for me?   Yet He did, and He does.  Might as well fess up.

No one is exempt from God’s love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness, unless of course you just outright reject it.  So whatever your story is today, you can go to Him, tell Him, talk to Him, and trust Him with it.

Though I started my time with Him in hesitance and resistance, I finally got frustrated and just spilled everything.  The gut-wrenching sobs that emitted immediately upon the release of the truth were not in vain, nor were they because of shame. Though it hurt for an instant, it didn’t cause God to push me away in disgust.  No.  What happened instead was an immediate and peaceful gathering of child to loving Father.  He had missed me.  He misses you, too.

God is such a merciful, loving, forgiving Father.  He’s our Daddy.  He made us, so why wouldn’t He know all about us and care about us.  Like we love our own children and never condemn them, God loves us and never condemns us.  We can always go to Him, tell Him the deepest, darkest secrets of our lives, things we wouldn’t even tell our best friend.  He already knows.  And He loves us anyway.

So, are you being honest with God today?  Why not take a few minutes today and trust Him.  You may be pleasantly and peacefully surprised.

* Mark 9:24, NKJV

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