Does forgiveness come easy for you?
For some, forgiveness is just a simple act that must be done - and so it is.
For others, however, granting forgiveness is an act that can shatter the world as it once was. It can lead to chaos, anxiety, and the pain of being distraught. Difficulty forgiving can lead to an unsettled mind. And, none of this is a good thing.
Forgiveness is not always easy. Sometimes it depends on the person seeking forgiveness, the action that needs forgiveness, or our maturity in life at that particular moment.
But, what if that person is you? What if you struggle to forgive yourself for the things you have - or haven't - done in the past?
This is where things get tricky for some people.
What the Bible has to say about forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a huge principle within the Bible so you will find that there are many pieces of scripture that show you...
How to forgive
The importance of forgiving
God's grace and forgiveness
Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV): "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
Ephesians 4:31-32: "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"
God forgives us if we turn our eyes - and our hearts - on him. He gave us his only son, "that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16) This means that Jesus was brought to this world to live and die for us. Our sins were washed clean by the shedding of his blood.
If you believe this, then you know you are forgiven. Plus, so many Christians are always quick to point out just how forgiving our God is. What makes it different for us?
God forgives you, why can't you?
So, if we know that we are forgiven for the things we may - or may not - have done, then why can't we forgive ourselves? Holding on to this pain and negativity from the past will do nothing but hinder us in our spiritual growth today.
Why do we do it?
We are hard on ourselves for so many things - including forgiveness. And we tend to hold ourselves more accountable than we do others. But, should we? The Bible doesn't necessarily address forgiving yourself, specifically, but there is enough about forgiveness to know that you ought to.
You are just as worthy as those you forgive. Holding yourself at a higher standard may even be seen as a sense of pride. And, that is a far cry from the humility the Bible teaches you to have.
Talk about a cluster of emotions, eh? Geesh, forgiveness is tough. Perhaps this is just why you need to have faith and do it -- and don't look back.
Forgiveness: just do it
You are loved and forgiven for anything and everything you may have done. God is amazing like that. All you have to do now is forgive yourself.
Forgive yourself for those poor choices you made when you were younger. Forgive yourself for hurting those who cared so much for you. Forgive yourself for the words that you said without thinking. Forgive yourself for not engaging in self-care. Forgive yourself for not appreciating those around you. Forgive yourself for your lacks, your mishaps, your wrongdoings.
Right here, right now... close your eyes and tell yourself these words, "I forgive you." And, believe it.
"You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, ‘I forgive. I’m finished with it.’ "
— Maya Angelou
If you are anything like the average individual, then you've likely run out of time more times in a 24-hour period than you can count. And no wonder- it is hard to fit everything you have to do into one day.
Between work, school, homework, laundry, cooking, other household chores, walking the dog, taking care of your own hygiene needs (if you are lucky to find the time) and so on... We all have different
lives, but we all have a lot to get done in a set amount of time.
So, when do you fit in time for God?
Our well-intentioned plans can fall through the cracks in a moments notice. Do you intend to get up earlier? Do you intend to spend time with God on your lunch break? Do you intend to focus on God just before bed?
Unless you have a great amount of self-discipline, it probably doesn't always happen.
I could say, Shame on you. That's your Creator. He gave you life and you fill it with other things before him. But, I won't. Why? Because we've all been there so often -- and we are our own worst enemies. If you have good intentions, but never follow through, there is a great chance that you've got some guilt about it in the back of your mind somewhere. And, well, it is not my place. I am by no means perfect either. All we can do is dust ourselves off and try again tomorrow.
If you are looking for some tips to help you spend more time with God - despite your busy routine - then you've found them.
1. Pick a moment of downtime in your routine and use it for your time with God. Now, you may be saying, "But, I don't have downtime and that's why I am here." Hear me out. If you have a commute on a train or a bus, use that time wisely. If you have to wait in dismissal line for your kids after school, this can be your God time. If you take 30 minutes to sit down and eat lunch, use it for God.
We all have little moments of free time throughout the day. Usually, this is when we find ourselves stopping to check email, social media, or call a friend. Replace those actions with God and you'll be surprised at how much time you actually have.
2. Schedule God time like you'd schedule a doctor appointment or business meeting. You wouldn't leave your doctor or colleagues waiting -- or stand them up -- would you? Not likely. Add your God time to your calendar and make it happen. Your attendance at the meeting is not optional.
3. Plan your time with God how you want it. Don't think you have to have so many minutes of worshipping, praying, reading scripture, writing, and so forth. Instead, create a system that works for you in your life -- and will hold your focus. We are all unique so your time with God shouldn't have to look like someone else's.
4. Sign up for online devotionals. There are many pastors, writers, and websites that offer these. Some are daily, some are weekly. But, they come directly into your inbox and allow you to focus on God with a message, a scripture, and a demand for your attention in the form of a notification.
If you are looking for a weekly devotional, yours truly happens to have one. You can sign up for it here. Get it once and use it for your time with God throughout the week.
If you like the idea of devotionals to guide you in your God time, but you prefer a hard copy to hold in your hands, this is a really good one, as is this one.
5. Plan for tomorrow. Most people would love to start their day with God. And why not? It is the perfect way to start a new day. It can give you the positivity, strength, and faith that you need to make it through the day -- while keeping God at your side. This can be super tough, however, if you are not a morning person.
In that case, you need to plan. Do what you can the night before so that you have extra time in the morning, such as preparing meals, picking out an outfit, gathering all the belongings that need to go out the door with you when you leave. Just doing this can allow you more time in the morning without having to set the alarm any earlier. Score!
6. Create a designated space or altar. Having consistency and specificity can make your time with God a bit easier and more enjoyable. First of all, you can't focus if there is too much going on around you. Second, if you are pining for time, then spending half of it searching for things you need will be counterproductive. Instead, set up a desk, portion of your countertop, an empty corner in your room, or the like. Have everything you need in this space.
7. Listen to a podcast or online sermon. If you have a long commute - or even while you are vacuuming or going for a run - listen to a devotional or sermon on a podcast, YouTube, or whatever your preferred method is. Let the Word seep into you as you go about your day.
"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
- Mark 1:35-37 (NIV)
However you choose to do it, just, well, do it. He won't say that you owe him this time, but you do. So, let go of the excuses and find ways to incorporate God into your life - every single day. And, if you need any guidance or have any questions, I am here for you.
OWN. YOUR. FAITH.
What does it mean to own your faith?
In Matthew 5:14, Jesus teaches us, "You are the light of the world - like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden." God did not create us to blend in. If you look off in the distance to a city on top of a hill, you are going to see light. The amount of impact this light has on your eyes will depend on the size of the city. But, nonetheless, you won't be able to miss it on the horizon.
The same is true when you ask God to come into your heart. He brings light with him -- and you begin to shine. You are to use this light as a beacon for those around you. Just as a lighthouse can guide boats to safety, you can guide those you come into contact with.
Of course, this requires you to own your faith -- requiring you to stand tall and to be bold.
Unfortunately, many people find this is incredibly hard to do at times. Depending on your age, your career, your peers, and others, you may find standing up for your faith to be a daunting task. People are not always nice and - for those who are timid or fear confrontation -- keeping things private seems to be a lot easier.
But, God isn't private. And, God doesn't like easy.
Think about it. In life, anything that comes easy is not usually appreciated and cared for as those things that come with hard work, dedication, and precious time. For example, if you hand a teenager a stack of money, do you think he or she will spend it carelessly -- or put it aside to save up for a car? Or, how about the teen who works hard every day after school at a part-time job scooping ice cream to save up money for his or her first car? At the end, who will likely end up appreciating the outcome more?
There is no learning in easy.
Sure, God doesn't want to see you suffer and feel pain. I don't believe that is his intention. However, I do believe that sometimes we need to go through some hard work to get the reward. We need to do things that make us uncomfortable, to reach a place of comfort.
So, when God asks you to carry his light... to be the light - the city on a hill - for him... are you going to back down because it is too hard or uncomfortable? Are you going to let the naysayers or the critics get the best of you and make you lose out on this eternal comfort all because of a moment of difficulty?
I sure hope not. Because that would be like a conditional acceptance of all that God has to offer you. Like, hey, thanks, God. I'd love to have all the good things you will do for me and I will talk to you when I am alone. Just don't get upset if I don't pretend to know you when I am with my friends. They aren't Christians and I just don't feel like arguing. Uh, Peter denied Jesus and, well, I am not so sure that things ended well for him. This is not the best route for you to take. Read Luke 22:54-62. (Can you imagine lying about knowing Jesus and looking him in the eye?! It is hard to fathom. A powerful story for another day.)
The moral of the story? Just stand up and own your faith. Just as you own your possessions and you would want to protect them from someone coming in and taking them away from you -- own your faith. Protect it, nurture it, and stand up for it. Don't let anyone take that away from you or make you feel less than you are for having it.
"No one lights a lamp an then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house." - Matthew 5:15
Be an example.
Be the flicker of light that so many are just waiting to see.
I have a confession.
I wish I could talk about God all the time.
I wish I didn't have to write about unimportant things. I wish I didn't have to hold meaningless conversations or throw in a smile here and there. I wish I didn't have to solemnly complete menial tasks.
I just want to talk about God all the time.
Sounds a bit obsessive, I am sure. But it is a persistent thought that I cannot shake. No matter who I am with or what I am doing, I want to just yank out a Bible and get into the goods. Besides, I'd think being obsessed with Jesus is fairly safe.
Unfortunately, I am struggling with the fact that (1) It is not socially acceptable to constantly speak about God. (2) Who cares if it is not socially acceptable to talk about God all the time? And, (3) Day-to-day life still goes on and I must live it.
But, could you imagine how lovely a world FULL of God would be? Imagine conversations based on history and parables and decoding translations. Imagine always being reminded that you are forgiven for your past, your stupid mistakes, your poor choices. And, imagine never feeling alone again.
Imagine not having to get up and answer the phone because you are in the middle of a conversation about God. (Yes, most of us are guilty of allowing the phone take away this important interaction).
There is an event coming up next month called Bring Your Bible to School Day. Apparently they say that it isn't illegal to bring your Bible to school (as long as you aren't formally preaching) and they want Christian kids to lead by example -- and bring their Bible. As I heard this on the radio the other day, I was considering whether or not I could have done that when I was younger. Would I have participated? If I did, would I have pulled my Bible out of my backpack?
I honestly don't know the answer, but it makes me think of how wanting to talk about God all the time is about as taboo as bringing a Bible to school.
Our world has been terrible enough for a long time now. And, I think something needs to change. The only person powerful enough to make that happen is, well, God.
I think it is time we start talking about him more -- and in more uncommon and less-inviting situations. I am going to do this and I think you should, too.
Ready? Next time you are making a purchase at a store, why not share a little something? You know, when the clerk asks you if you will be paying with cash or card, share the story from Luke 14:28. “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’" Let the clerk know that you'd be awfully foolish to pay with credit when you have cash in your wallet.
It may sound silly, I know, but doing something like this is guaranteed to leave an unexpected, lasting impression. Even if the clerk doesn't remember all of what you said, some will be retained -- and he or she may even be encouraged to pull out a Bible to look up what that strange customer said.
And that, my friend, is a successful interaction. Check! ü
Of course, you can simply spread God's love by not saying anything at all, but simply acting in his ways. Sometimes no words at all speak louder than any verse or conversation ever could.
Let's do this. Let's be those strange customers, the oddballs, and the ones who stick out. Let's start a small ripple that one day turns into a rogue wave.
Let's start now.
One day, God is going to come.
Where do you want to be when he does?
I don't know about you, but when it comes time for me to meet God, I don't want to be doing something I should not be doing. Or be somewhere I shouldn't.
Do you ever think about this?
I hadn't until I read a book by Pastor Francis Chan called CrazyLove. It was a while back, so the exact details are a little cloudy, but, the story went something like this -- He was talking about how devout his mother-in-law is and how she wouldn't join them at the movies. She finally gave him her reason why... she didn't want to be sitting down in a theatre when God came for her.
“I just don’t know if this is where I want to be when Christ returns. I’d rather be helping someone or on my knees praying. I don’t want Him to return and find me sitting in a theater.” –Grandma Clara
Think about that for a minute.
There are a lot of things that we do in life that we likely would not want to be doing at that moment, but we do them anyway, don't we?
Our society makes it incredibly hard to focus on God and His Word. Imagine turning down a movie or dinner invite - or even a trip to the mall - by saying, "no, I'm sorry, I cannot go because I am in prayer all day today." Have you ever said those words?
Getting lost in hours of prayer is just not seen by our society as the "norm." So, instead, we spend our time with nonsense, such as those entertainment things that make us feel good or spending money on material possessions we hope will fill some void we have buried deep.
Is it all wrong? Are we all wrong? Isn't there something missing? How can we expect to live an eternal life with God when we aren't even willing to give him a day or night of prayer?
I woke up this morning with these thoughts in my mind. Odd, since I haven't read Chan's book in quite some time. So, it must be for a reason. Someone is obviously trying to tell me something - and He wants me to share it with you, too.
Now, what are you going to do?
I find patience hard to come by sometimes - especially in more recent days. Maybe it is because I am busier than ever or maybe it is just the anxiousness of the kids at the winding down of summer vacation. Whatever the reason, I often find myself having to step aside and breathe.
How about you?
If you are finding that your patience has become MIA, then this may disrupt your time with God. And, well, that is not something you ever want to do.
God doesn't respond when you snap your fingers. He is not always ready to give you an answer when you need it. Sometimes he wants you to sit back, be still, and listen.
Christina Fox has written a blog on 3 Things to do While You Wait on the Lord. If you find yourself struggling, I think you should check this out. Really. Just do it.
And, in the meantime, remember -- Good things come to those who wait. So enjoy the time you have and make the most of it. You will hear God in the perfect moment.
Why is it so hard to forgive someone of their faults?
Forget the petty little wrongdoings or small bad habits and faults. Instead, consider the person who beats down the very wall that was providing you shelter - crumbling life as you knew it. Or, the person who causes pain, heartache, and strife for someone you love. Or, the one who takes someone's life based on one stupid decision.
Big mistakes impact the lives of so many, whether directly or indirectly.
We know that we need to love without conditions. And, we know that we each have faults that make us less than perfect.
We also know that God forgives - if we seek him - and that is ultimately what matters to that imperfect individual, right? Not my opinion or my feelings. And not yours, either.
Yet, when trust is broken or you feel wronged, it is hard to push back with unconditional love and forgiveness, despite the fact that we know we should.
Why is that?
We are human. You, me, all of us. We know what we should do. We know what we need to do. We know what God expects of us.
Ready for the truth?
Forgiveness is an action. It is a choice. You can choose to forgive someone or you can choose not to. You can choose to look at the person with love and joy or you can choose to look at that person with pity, anger, and contempt.
Jesus loved sinners. He loved those with faults and those who had made bad choices. He hung out with them. He ate with them. He forgave them.
We should, too. We should push aside all that we feel toward someone who we believe has done wrong -- and forgive them.
Philippians 3:13-15 gives some great advice... and the way The Message translation says it, makes it easy to understand:
12-14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
15-16 So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.
When you are struggling with forgiveness, turn to God and allow him to help you see clearly. He will help you look past the wrongs to everything that is good, whole, and right.
Love one another. Accept one another. And still, forgive.
I have brown hair (well, most of the time), hazel eyes, and pale skin. The man sitting next to me has black hair, dark caramel skin, and deep brown eyes.
We don't look at all alike, but we came from the same place and we will end up the same. After all, the Bible tells us that we "all go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return" (Ecclesiastes 3:20 NIV).
So why do we treat each other differently? Why do we hold one group accountable for the actions of a few? Why do we spread hate based solely on skin color (or any other trait, for that matter)? Why do we put our guard up when around certain people, but not others?
Is history really our best teacher? To learn from, yes - so we don't make the same mistakes again. But, to mimic history to create a future? Not in the slightest.
Everyone has something to bring to the table. In fact, did you know that Jesus invited everyone to his table? He ate with tax collectors and sinners of all types. And, his disciples did, too.
While Jesus was having
dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him
and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of
the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors,
they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
On hearing this, Jesus
said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have
not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Mark 2:15-17 (NIV)
There are riches to be found in a melting pot. My family is a melting pot. When we sit down to dinner each night, we have a mix of different faces with different colors and different sizes - each with different personalities and different stories. In fact, we are just a whole lotta different.
Why would anyone want everyone to be alike? Jesus didn't ... and neither should you.
This is something I wrote a while back about my mom. I wasn't sure what to do with it because it was a bit personal, but in honor of Mother's Day yesterday, and the journey my mom is conquering like a warrior every day, I wanted to share it with you.
Have you ever given thought to losing
your mother? I never did until she was struggling to heal. Though He already
knows the plan, I begged God to heal her! And He did.
fed my mom today. She was in the hospital bed looking at me, then at the spoon,
letting me know she was ready for another bite of her strawberry yogurt. She is
wearing her hospital gown and a high flow oxygen mask. Her right hand is
wrapped in a soft cast due to a fall that cracked her wrist. Her face is
swollen and bruised from that same fall.
looks beaten. She looks worn. She looks tired. And she looks helpless.
went to pick her up the other morning for a doctor’s appointment. She was
leaning on the table, hunched over, mouth open, and pale. As she would try to
take in a breath, her shoulders would move her whole body. She was struggling.
Instead of the doctor, she went to the ER and was admitted. That’s how we ended
first night was rough. Mom was scared. She had an oxygen mask on and spoke to
me through her eyes. I felt her look of pure fear straight down to my soul. The
lump in my throat was making it hard for me to even breathe.
wanted to give her air. I wanted to show her peace. There was nothing I could
do but put my trust in God that she was in good hands and that she was right
where he wanted her to be.
trip to the ICU and the head nurse fills me in… “your mom is very sick
woman…her body has dealt with a lot of trauma... heart surgery can make or
break her… may need to put her on ventilator… too weak to breathe on her own…
explore all your options… extensive double pneumonia…. prepare for the worst…”
All these words just came at me like sharp nails, as if someone rigged a nail
gun to keep shooting at me.
I was numb. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t even cry.
does he mean prepare for the worst?!
Mom was going to be fine. She had heart surgery just a couple months ago – a
triple bypass. All the people who had also had that surgery had been to visit
her and told her how wonderful she would feel afterward. Sure, she has had some
struggles with fluid retention and breathing since the surgery, but she
followed all the directions and her scar has even healed beautifully!
drove home for a quick shower and bite to eat with these words resonating
through my mind. The tears came quickly. And I cried. A reality I hadn’t
thought of just hit me on the head so hard.
could lose my mother.
my mom. Not the woman who raised me… who made sacrifices just so my selfish,
tantrum throwing self could be happy. The woman who showed me what it means to
love another being unconditionally. The woman who bent over backwards more than
once to make sure I was taken care of. No, my mom was going to be fine. She was
going to get better and she would be home.
still, I cried. Because, what if I am wrong? What if she doesn’t get better?
This could really be it. I couldn’t even believe my own justifications.
now, I had never even considered what I would do without my mother. She is the
string that links me to my family. She is my phone call in the morning and
another at night. She answers my questions about things I don’t understand –
like cooking, how to get stains out of clothing, ways to hack almost any
household situation. She has been my mom for 39 years. She can’t go anywhere.
From the end of the earth I call to
You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher
than I. – Psalm 61:2
literally cried out to God. I begged him to leave her here and to heal her
while at the same time knowing that my begging would not change his bigger plan
– whatever that may be. I reminded him that she had all these things she
planned to do, if she could just feel better. She was learning her way as an incredible,
independent woman, since my dad’s passing. And I made sure to let him know that
she was not ready to go anywhere.
spent a couple of days in ICU. They pumped her full of antibiotics and
diuretics and even drained fluid off her lungs. Before we knew it, she was
breathing better. She is healing, albeit slowly. We began to see the light at
the end of the tunnel. Exhalation could now come.
Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed;
save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.
– Jeremiah 17:14
am sure it had nothing to do with my begging prayers and was all part of a more
important masterpiece – but as beaten up as I felt through the whole ordeal, I
know my mom was (and is) feeling like a warrior. As she should.
we encounter these terrifying moments to make us step back and realize the
intricacy of the world around us. What happens with one person can affect the
lives of so many others. Even though she may not realize it, my mom has once
again taught me lessons for life – who is important, what is important, just
how vulnerable we humans are, and what it means to truly care for someone.
is good. I
love you, mom.
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves.."
- Philippians 2:3 (NIV)
Now is the time! No more wasting energy, moments, and resources. Forget living the lackadaisical life that you want to live -- and start living for the purpose you were created.
Today I need you to get it together.
Stop and think about this for a moment: Do you think that you were born into this world to indulge in everything that is good to you without regard for others? Does your world revolve around you? Do you think that you will ever get a second chance to do things differently?
It is time to make a change -- because it is not all about you. The world is so huge and there are so many people who need you. People you haven't even met yet. But, if you stay so focused on yourself, you may miss them. A lost opportunity.
Doing things that we want to do or things that make us happy is not always what we should be doing. We are all guilty of this. You know, spending time going to out to eat and then tossing the leftovers because they won't be as good tomorrow. Pushing away time with God for a good movie, drinks with friends, or a mindless hour of staring at the social media accounts on your cell phone. Or even taking ourselves shopping, for a mani pedi, or on an over-the-top vacation.
Time is a gift that we are all guilty of wasting. And, we may not even realize how. For example, you may think binge watching the latest Netflix series is harmless. But, what awesome task could you accomplish if you didn't?
In all honesty, it is impossible to be perfect all the time, but it is possible to start shifting your focus from yourself and your wants and desires to others who are patiently waiting to be a blessing to you. But, to receive it, you have to look up.
Are you ready to start living on purpose?
Give life everything you've got.
Follow your heart.
Be like Jesus.
Our world is crumbling around us and we are all too busy living our own lives to notice -- or do anything about it. We are killing the planet and killing each other. We are surrounded by hate, by fear, and by cowards. Without switching our focus and living on purpose -- for our purpose -- nothing will change. The world around us will continue to implode. And, one day, we may end up going with it.
Be the difference. Be the light. Be the comfort. Be the strength. Be the one that is fearless in the eyes of those looking for help. Then, share your secret. God created you for a reason. Keep your eyes on him -- and you will see the difference in your life and the lives of those around you.