Love+Wisdom+Grace

“If you didn’t teach your child something then don’t assume he knows or understands it.” ~Dr. Karyn Purvis

Don’t be afraid to go backwards to move forward.

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Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda Versus Me

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My unresolved guilt festered for nearly a decade. When we began attending a church populated by a number of adoptive and foster families, I wondered if God had hit the family reset button for us. The finances required for adoption were daunting, to say the least, but we thought we could try foster parenting and see where it took us. Our kids were excited at the prospect of having a little baby come to live with us for a while. The social worker that evaluated our family and home prior to granting us a foster license told us we were a perfect family for the task.

She knew this was going to be a part of our family’s ministry but had no idea that foster care was both penance and prayer for me. My unvoiced hope was that maybe one of the foster babies would be left with us—things like that happened once in a while, I knew—and it would be a sign that God really had forgiven me and that I was worthy to mother another child in spite of my decision to have a tubal ligation a decade earlier.

My grief in the restaurant the day Rhiannon left us was sadness at letting her go, but also a revelatory moment when I began to come to terms with the fact that I could not go back to fix the past. My regret had long anchored me to that single disobedient moment in time. My response to the remorse I felt was to beat myself up with my failure in my own wrongheaded attempt to somehow make myself right with God. I wanted so much to be able to right my wrong, to turn my “if only” into a do-over.

I felt a new wave of sorrow as I accepted the fact that there were not going to be any do-overs in this area of my life. Jesus had been waiting and working through all of this to free me from my self-punishment habit. That fresh sorrow marked the reality that I’d finally begun to surrender to God by allowing remorse to do its work in me. The Message paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 7:10 ex- plains the work of this kind of godly sorrow: “Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.”

I also began to discover that day how our loving God can redeem our regrets.

The Past on “Repeat”

Regret serves a training purpose in our lives. One of the first things newborns discover is that their cry creates a response from the world: warm milk, comforting arms, a dry diaper. This cause-and-effect interaction with the world teaches babies how the world works.

It doesn’t take long before we graduate to some version of the old “the dog ate my homework” dodge to avoid uncomfortable short-term consequences. As we move toward adulthood, one of our greatest strengths is our idealism. The passion that fuels our idealism also feeds idealism’s trigger-happy pal—impulsiveness. When we’re young, we’re prone to making quick decisions without considering long-term consequences. As a result, we’re also prone to accumulating a nice collection of unprocessed regrets that we may not fully realize until we approach midlife.

I wonder how many times Adam and Eve replayed the moment they bit into the forbidden fruit throughout the rest of their long lives (Gen. 3:1-7) or how many times Esau cursed himself for his impatience at trading his inheritance and his father’s blessing for a bowl of lentils (Gen. 25:24-34). Judas’s regret at betraying his friend Jesus drove him to suicide (Matt. 27:1-5).

In the weeks after my lunchtime meltdown, I took a small first step in facing my regrets by intentionally choosing not to keep hitting the “repeat” button on my decision. I wanted to be intentional about reflecting on the good God had brought into my life despite my bad choices, something I really hadn’t done very often. The exercise offered me a new appreciation for the sovereignty of God. If it is true that God weaves all things together for both our good and his glory (Rom. 8:28), then it follows that he is able to redeem our sinful decisions in order to serve his purposes. I realized that while my life may have been less fruitful as a result of the consequences of my choice, it hadn’t been exactly barren. Mothering three beautiful children, helping my husband as he finished college while working full time, caring for friends, doing the work God had given me, learning, serving in a couple of meaningful ministry roles—each one bore the imprint of eternity. The exercise didn’t instantly erase every regret, but it did serve to interrupt the unhealthy cycle of self-recrimination in which I’d been trapped with some spiritually nourishing, God-glorifying thanksgiving.

Pausing my endless loop of “if only” opened my ears to the lyrics of that tired song to which I’d been dancing and dancing and dancing. It was time to learn some new steps.

Reflection Questions:

1. What are some of your longest-standing regrets?

2. In what ways can you see how your past regrets have affect- ed your present life? How do they shape the way you think about your future?

3. What is one positive thing that has happened in your life as a result of a past regret?

4. If you were going to write a letter to a younger version of you just before you made a decision you now know would lead to regret, what would you say to yourself? What do you think God might say to that younger version of you?

Taken from If Only by Michelle Van Loon, ©2014 by Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, Kansas City, MO. Used and reprinted by permission of Publisher. All rights reserved. Visit our website at http://www.beaconhillbooks.com to purchase this title.

#IfOnlyBook #IfOnlyTour

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Waiting to Exhale: Forgiveness = Freedom

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Hurt people hurt people

We’ve all heard it said a million times. I’ve said it a million times. It’s true, hurt people do hurt people. However, not all hurt people hurt people. The cycle can be broken. How? One word: forgiveness

Forgiveness brings freedom. Yes, hurt people hurt people but free people free people. Forgiveness isn’t always for their sake, it’s for your own freedom

As free, forgiven people we should free people. 

Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him MILLIONS OF DOLLARS He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold – along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned – to pay the debt. But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and released him and forgave his debt. (Matt 18:23-27, emphasis mine)

Authentic forgiveness is never cheap. When the owner forgives the debt, the debt didn’t just disappear. Just like us with Jesus, the master had to absorb it.  

Our moral debt was paid on the cross. 

How does this servant love differently after receiving such grace? 

But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him A FEW THOUSAND DOLLARS. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full. (Matt 18:28-30, emphasis mine)

Human nature is to retaliate

Three common obstacles to forgiveness:

1) Forgiveness is not condoning. To forgive someone isn’t condoning or excusing what they did. Because Christ has forgiven me, I’m going to forgive you

2) Forgivenss is not always reconciling. There are people you need to forgive, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you will reconcile with them. There are some people you don’t need to reconcile with if they can’t be honest with what they did to you. Without truth there can’t be trust. 

3) Forgiveness is not forgetting. Just because you can’t forget doesn’t mean you aren’t forgiving. Time doesn’t heal all wounds but GOD does. When you forgive someone it doesn’t erase what they’ve done but it does erase the hurt from what they’ve done.  Forgiveness is expensive. Sometimes we don’t have the power to forgive people the way they need to be forgiven. It’s not in you on your own. You’re able to offer it because you have received it. 

Christ forgave this massive debt you had. Go and do likewise:

Be kind and compassionate to one another, FORGIVING EACH OTHER, just as in Christ God FORGAVE YOU (Ephesians 4:32, emphasis mine)

But, you cannot exhale what you haven’t inhaled. Go ahead, take a good deep breath and then let it out. Until you have inhaled that magnificent Grace and Goodness of GOD, you cannot exhale or extend that to others. Don’t hold on…just breathe and let go.

The letters of the name of God in Hebrew… are infrequently pronounced Yahweh. But in truth they are inutterable….

This word {YHWH} is the sound of breathing. In Hebrew “Yah” is an action word that means to breathe in and “Weh” means to breathe out. So God’s very name means our very inhales and exhales of our life, His name is and gives life

The holiest name in the world, the Name of Creator, is the sound of your own breathing. That these letters are unpronounceable is no accident. Just as it is no accident that they are also the root letters of the Hebrew verb ‘to be’… God’s name is name of Being itself.

Some of us have breathed in GOD, but aren’t exhaling Him into our lives.

Some of us are waiting to exhale….

Don’t hold on… Just breathe and let go.

You are the most influential person in your life and you have the power to say: “This is not how my life is going to be. I’m going to inhale the Goodness and Grace GOD has given me and exhale it to others”. 

Breathe — and call the name of Being Himself. Keep breathing — and pray without ceasing.

Don’t let the hard things in life silence you. Put it down or it will bring you down. Break the cycle and let freedom reign in your life.

Say to yourself: “GOD loves me NOW” 

“Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. ~2 Corinthians 2:14 (MSG)

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#forgiveness #freedom #choice #Yahweh #influence #hurt #hurtpeoplehurtpeople #freepeoplefreepeople #free #life #pain

Sticks and Stones

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Words.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me.

Lies.

Big.Lies.

Great.Big.Fat.Lies.

Ever said something in the heat of the moment and then instantly regretted it? Yeah, me too. You know exactly what I’m talking about. That crazy moment when you’ve lost all good senses and out it comes. And there it sits….looking just as ugly as it felt coming out. We’ve all done it.

*sigh*

Or, have you ever said something carelessly and had no idea the impact your words had?

Yep.

Words are important to God. God spoke all of creation into existence. God spoke. That’s all. And whatever He said, it happened.

God is serious about our words and how we use them, and we should be too. Our words have the power to influence and shape the world around us – physically and virtually- in a good and bad ways.

James talks about how our tongue is used for evil:

 

“Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is a fire. A world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed or have been tamed by man. But no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men , who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth, come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (James 3:5-12 NIV) “

But in Proverbs, we get to see how our words can bring light and a future!

 

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked. (Proverbs 10:11 NIV)

The lips of the righteous nourish many, but the fools die for lack of judgement. (Proverbs 10:21 NIV)

An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. (Proverbs 12:25 NIV)

Pleasant words are a honeycomb: sweet to the taste and health to the body. (Proverbs 16:24 HCSB)

Before you speak – think:

Is it uplifting? Is it beneficial? Will it strengthen and encourage? Will it bring glory and honor to God? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then it’s not something that should be voiced.

Let’s taste our words before we spit them out, shall we? Me and you. Deal? Deal.

There are SO many more verses on our words and how we can use them. I would encourage you to look them up! It’s so rewarding.

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I just can’t believe the people that GOD has blessed me with. Incredible. I had so much fun writing this with our dear, sweet Morgan. I’ve had a peek at a few ideas she has. You guys, I can’t even. You will be blessed. Can’t wait for you to see what’s coming.

Our writing team is growing. There’s room for you. Contact me with what you have and let’s talk.

Forgiving Those Who Judge You

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“After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10)

Have you ever been wrongly judged? Have you ever had people assume there was sin in your life because of the troubles you may have experienced? Or perhaps they judged your motives as wrong. What if the people judging you were your closest friends?

This was exactly what happened in the life of Job. His friends did not understand how a godly person could ever go through his degree of adversity unless God was judging him for his sin. However, his friends were wrong and God intervened. “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has,” said God to Job’s three friends.

Nothing has really changed after thousands of years. I recall going through a seven year “Job” experience. Friends in the marketplace could not understand why I would experience such calamity unless I had made poor choices. Those in the Church often wrongly equated trouble with sin. Sometimes this can be true, but often trouble is simply a consequence of a call on one’s life such as Joseph and the apostle Paul experienced.

Joseph was required to forgive his brothers. Jesus was required to forgive Judas and the disciples for betrayal. You and I are required to forgive those who wrongfully judge us.

This forgiveness is often THE most important step in gaining restoration in our own lives. The scripture above reveals that it was not until Job prayed for his friends that he was restored in the things he had lost.

Is there someone in your life you need to forgive? It may be the missing piece of your puzzle for restoration.

(Today God Is First (TGIF) devotional message, Copyright by Os Hillman, Marketplace Leaders)

New Future With A Past

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“Agreed,” she replied. ” Let it be as you say.” Joshua 2:21

It wasn’t unusual for strange men to appear at her door. She was, after all, a prostitute. The Israelite spies came to Rahab looking for a place to hide, and they put their lives in her hands.

Who could have failed to hear about the Israelites? They had been in the desert for 40 years and now were headed straight toward Jerico. But Rahab told the spies she had heard of the God of Israel and the deeds He had done on behalf of His people. It was as if she was waiting for evidence of Him in her own life. When she saw her chance, she did not hesitate. She joined the cause of this God whom she believed to be greater than the gods worshipped by her people: “for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (Joshua 2:11).

What if these men betrayed her? What if their God failed her? There could be no turning back. Risking her own death, she was obedient to the conviction of truth within her–no debate, no consultation, no wavering.

Within minutes if her decision, Rahab revealed her extraordinary heart. Rahab interceded for her family’s safety as well as her own. Her family heeded her, for when the walls of Jerico came down, her relatives were with her.

Over the ensuing years, Rahab surely needed to learn a new way of relating to men. Perhaps her restoration required the greatest faith of all–everyday choices, without drama or spotlight, to be chaste, to forgive, to trust again. Scripture reveals that she continued to hold on to the God who gave her a new beginning. Matthew 1:5 lists Rahab among the forebears of Jesus. But she is not called “the prostitute,” for the stigma of her past is overshadowed by the honor given her by God. And by choosing her–a Gentile sinner–God confirms that He is the Savior of all peoples, for all time and in all circumstances.

Is there a hope for a woman with a past, someone who has made bad decisions and given herself to a life of sin? Our enemy wants us to believe that nothing good can come of such wreckage. But Rahab’s life demonstrates the benefits of believing God instead.
When Rahab chose Him, He gave her a completely new life. And He set no limits on her potential as His child. NONE.

Read about Rahab in Joshua Ch 2

{the picture above is of a scarlet cord that hangs in my office window as a reminder of Rahab and of the great God of redemption I love and serve.}

Freedom: We hold the keys

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I was visiting with someone this week that was severely fenced in with bitterness. As I watched and listened, I saw how her life, those around her, and those on the potential other side of her choice to live this way are effected. Not only the relationships now, but the ones that “could be” are in the balance. I wonder how many divine appointments have been overlooked….will be overlooked. I wonder how many great people and opportunities have slipped by. Three words away from breaking through those chains into freedom.

Free is such a beautiful word.

“The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Lord’s Spirit is, there is freedom” 2 Corinthians 3:17


We are often one liberating act away from opening a huge door to enter into a beautiful new world.

“I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I am speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!” 2 Corinthians 6:11-13


Are there areas of your life right now where you may feel trapped, not experiencing the freedom your heart longs for? Are you three words away from freedom? “I forgive you….He forgives me”

  • Is there someone you need to forgive? Bitterness is the spawn of unforgiveness. It’s bothering you way more than that other person. It’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
  • Is there something you need to forgive yourself for?
  • Is there something in your life where you feel shame and the need to hide?
  • Hebrews 12:1-2 beckons us into a life of freedom and victory: “Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance this race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”

    I read this somewhere and made note of it. It speaks truth:
    We hold the keys to our freedom in our hands and hearts. As we keep our eyes on Jesus and allow His love and grace to flow into our lives, we become a channel of freedom for others as well. As we walk in the way of life, we become an avenue of life for others.”

    He gives it to us so that He can give it through us.

    Jesus is a “come as you are” kind of guy….but you certainly aren’t leaving the way you came

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    Jesus is a “come as you are” kind of guy….but you’re certainly not leaving as you came!

    Even the worse day of your life, God can redeem. He can go back, pick that thing up and bring about a complete transformation. The devil will be sorry he ever messed with you -Beth Moore

    There’s nothing more powerful on earth than a Christian walking in full on bold faith in Christ, and all He is and does and can do.

    The devil wants you walking around feeling small and defeated, but it is he who is defeated. He has no power over you.

    You are accepted….redeemed…..renewed…..assured of a present and future glory with Him……reconciled with Christ and re-created!

    He breathes new life! You are a NEW creation…..not a turning over of a new leaf….the old is gone, and a new life has begun!

    Yep, that’s right, when you bring up to Him your past sin, He’ll say what sin?

    You can choose to let your past define you, confine you, refine you, outshine you, or you can choose to move on and leave it behind you…..because you, my friend, are a brand new creation in Christ.

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18

    God’s Memory Loss: He says no more and He means it

    For I will be merciful to their wrongdoing, and I will never again remember their sins. Hebrews 8:12


    The Message translation says it this way:

    …..kindly forgiven, with the slate of their sins forever wiped clean

    When God forgives you of your sins, and then the next day you bring it up……

    He says, What are you talking about?

    When He says He remembers no more, He means it….and that’s it

    As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12

    This YouTube video says it so beautifully. I just never get tired of it. Check it out here

    If you are reading this, and you feel that pressure…..that dread that comes when you’re not sure if you died today, that you’d go to heaven, be sure right now. Go to this link: Settle It. Come back to this post and let us know about it. Nothing but love and support here.

    I love you deeply. Walk freely forgiven with the King.

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    Continue reading

    Stop Wearing Those Christian T-Shirts!!

    I was in a conversation the other day that got me thinking. I love it when that happens.

    We were talking about our influence and purpose here on earth….you know just a little light hearted chit-chat.

    The subject got on Christian apparel and the fact that we should stop wearing them

    Not like this:

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    This one really cracks me up and reminds me of my Dad…pre-Jesus because he was an alcoholic and used to drink that brand of beer but kicked it and found the Lord (Praise You Lord!)
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    But like this:
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    The point was IF we are here to bind up the brokenhearted….release from darkness for the prisoners….comfort all who morn…provide for those who grieve….bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes….the oil of gladness instead of mourning….to rebuild the ruins and restore….instead of shame and disgrace, there will be rejoicing (Isaiah 61) and tell all of a God who heals and restores and forgives us of all our sins

    Why would anyone approach us, or allow us to approach them with the message of their sin on our chest accusing them???

    I’ve never had an abortion (but I’ve certainly sinned!!) , but I have worked a lot with a wonderful crisis pregnancy ministry and I know if I walked in wearing that t-shirt (not that I ever would) the clients would leave running!

    What about wearing them to church…in the public?

    If that christian wore a t-shirt that said something like:

    alcoholic fathers are losers who hate their families

    I know my dad would have NEVER went to that church or talked to that pastor and gotten saved, and restored.

    Maybe you’ve never had an abortion, or never been an alcoholic, but what if someone invited you to a church and the pastor or elder had on a shirt listing your sins and how disgusting they were? Yeah, that’s right……..the one you just thought of.

    The point was this: Would Jesus wear those kinds of shirts to our church or in our community? The kinds of shirts that speak loudly about what we hate er go a message that would translate our hate of that person.

    Do they accomplish the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20? Would the woman at the well have listened to Him that day? Would Rahab have felt welcomed or loved there? Would Mary….an unwed mother? I know she wasn’t an abortion minded person, but what about a shirt screaming about waiting until marriage…or about pregnancy before marriage? What about loud mouthed and lying Peter? Or Paul, who indeed was a murderer?

    Believe me when I tell you I am a definite advocate of all things Jesus. He is my life and breath and my focus in ALL that I do. Ministry is what I do. Every day of my life is spent loving and caring for people. I do indeed deeply love each and every one.

    But, his point is are we really doing a modern twist on this:

    The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At his, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:3-11

    If our sins were written on a t-shirt, would we wear that one too? Even after we’ve gone and left our life of sin? I don’t think so. And, I don’t think we would have been open to anyone claiming to have a message of forgiveness and a Savior while wearing a shirt telling us they hate what we’ve done.

    What do you think?