for the men in my life

Sharing what God lays on my heart.

Reconciliation

In this post I want to share what I’ve been learning about forgiveness and reconciliation. The reality of what these two words mean for humanity and our relationships is truly profound. It’s not my truth. It’s God’s truth! And this is another great example of His majesty and His wisdom. He knows what our hearts need before we ever do!

Let’s start with forgiveness. I will assume that most of us understand forgiveness as a choice to let go of the hurt someone caused us. It doesn’t make the person, the words, or actions against us okay. It just means that we will not hold on to the hurt and seek retribution for ourselves. Let’s Take a look at what scripture says about forgiveness.

Mark 11:25 (NASB)
   “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that you’re father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.”

Matthew 18:35 (NASB)
   “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from his heart.

This verse in Matthew is at the end of a story Jesus used to answer a question Peter asked about forgiveness. Please look it up and read it for yourself. My summary is that if you can’t forgive others, then God will not forgive you.
The verse in Mark, in my perspective, hints to the same truth, just a little nicer.

I have learned that forgiveness is HARD. It’s rigorous. It’s like climbing a mountain. I think I have forgiven someone and then they do or say something similar and all the hurt comes up again. I believe that this is a spiritual battle. I believe that we as Christ followers must choose to continue to forgive the person, even when we don’t feel it. I think we need to choose to not dwell on, verbally or mentally repeat the offenses over and over.

Don’t misunderstand me please…this is a complicated issue that a great book has helped me understand, Peacemaker by Ken Sande. All situations CAN NOT be handled the same. That’s why it’s like climbing the mountain. Every move is different. Every situation requires God’s specific instructions. Sometimes you forgive and forget without even mentioning it to the person. Other times you need to have a conversation, hopefully covered with prayer and love, and unfortunately sometimes you have to forgive that person and remove them from your life for a time or even forever. But that should not be decided in haste without God’s wisdom and truth.

Now that we have summarized forgiveness, please read more than this because I’m no expert, let’s talk about reconciliation. I believe that reconciliation is a huge part of relationship. Let’s face a simple truth here, we are all human. Not one of us humans are perfect. Which means, we are all going to cause someone else pain, frustration, and at the very least annoyance.

I believe that God wants us to love one another well. I believe that God wants us to reconcile with one another when we have hurt someone. I believe that
God wants us to reconcile when someone comes to us and says we have hurt them or offended them.

So what exactly is reconciliation. What does it look like. To me, reconciliation is when we take responsibility for our actions, our words, our facial expressions, our tones of voice, our lack of loving another person. Simply put, it means saying “I’m sorry, I was wrong to (fill in the blank)” I don’t think it matters what the intentions are at the time of the hurt. I think what matters is that we apologize, because we love and value the person we hurt. We value the relationship with that person, so we set aside our pride and let God’s love lead the way.

Here are some scriptures that have helped me come to the aforementioned conclusion.

Ephesians 4:17-32
Luke 7:23
Matthew 5:23-24

Like I said forgiveness is HARD, I think reconcilation can be even more difficult. One of our new favorite sayings in our house is, ” Do what is right, not what is easy.”

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It’s not what I’m saying…it’s not what you’re hearing

 

image

Genesis chapter 11 contains a very interesting story. The story of a people coming together for a common goal. It would seem like a great idea, but the heart of the people were not focused on the heart of God. They were focused on themselves. It’s the story of the tower of babel.

I’ve read this story several times. A couple morals of the story are, that no human can reach heaven on their own, and humans should not make themselves idols to be worshiped. Very Good lessons to learn, about who we are and what are physical limitations are.

This week as I was reading this story to my boys out of The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones. It occurred to me, there is more to learn from this story about communication.

I’m sure we all have had at least one experience about a misunderstanding with another person that involves the words we said and the words we heard.
I feel as if these types of misunderstandings happen often in my life.  This time as I was reading through the story, it jumped out at me that God confused their tongues intentionally.

   His purpose was to confuse them and create offense between them. His intention was to separate the people, in order to stop them from building the tower. Now, do I think God wants us all to be rude and unkind, NO! But let’s take a step back and examine God’s law. First and foremost, Thou shall have no other God’s before me. The people in the story of babel were making themselves gods before the other people not in the tower, and to each other. They were filled with their own pride. God intervened because He knows what is best for our hearts. Having ourselves and other people at the center of our hearts, minds, and focus is disastrous at best.

   God created us for community, but that community should not come before our relationship with Him. God created us for intimacy, but it should come with Him first. God created us for many things, but He should be First in everything.

  When I speak, am I speaking because I want to be heard, I’m nervous, I want to be right, or because Jesus is asking me to speak?  I find that when I ask the Holy Spirit to give me the words to speak, most times it turns out better.

   The other side of the coin, is the listening. When I hear others, sometimes, okay more often than I’d like to admit, I’m easily offended or brokenhearted by what they have said. BUT, ( and yes it’s a BIG BUT!) do I need to be offended and hurt? When I stop and ask my heavenly Father, more times than not, He says no. He helps me understand His truth for my life and helps me let go of what isn’t necessary.

  In all our humanity, in every aspect, in everything we attempt, WE need God. We need His wisdom, His love, His perspective, His Grace, and His mercy.

Especially when communicating, we NEED God to intervene.

One of my favorite poets, Javan, wrote about this very issue. Here is my best paraphrase, if I speak, but not with my words. And you listen, but not with your ears, then maybe we can communicate!

Abba, helps us to come to you. To talk to you and hear from your heart first. Lord humble our hearts an minds so that we seek you before attempting anything on our own. In Jesus name, Amen.

BROKENESS

Have you ever loved something? Something that brought you joy EVERY time you looked at it! Something that held meaning to your soul in which words could never describe. Something that could always make you smile.

Now imagine it’s broken. You frantically try to piece it back together. All the while making sure you have reclaimed every broken piece. You find your best glue and attempt to salvage the wreckage. After all the time and effort you look at your accomplishment only to find…well it’s no where near the beauty, joy, and grace it once was. It’s like a broken window repaired with duct tape.

DUCT TAPE…YES PICTURE THAT in your mind. Just let your imagination wonder a bit. Several cracks with duct tape going every which way. No. I’m not talking about the pretty kind you can make a dress out of these days. I’m talking about the silver. Utility. Duct tape. It’s ugly!

Well that is how my soul and my body have been feeling lately. I feel broken. Broken by the unkindness I see. Broken by the rudeness, the selfishness, the greed, the lust, the insatiable appetite of the enemy. My body feels broken. My mind feels like a frazzled over wired electric box. My heart feels heavy with the burden of all the things around me that I can not fix. I feel like the broken window. I try to fix it, but I only have silver Utility Duct tape. It’s not pretty. It doesn’t let the light in. It doesn’t sparkle. It’s just there. I am the broken window.

Thankfully my story doesn’t end there. It could. If I let it. If I choose to believe the perspective that there is no hope, I’m just the ugly broken window. But that is not the end my friends! You see I believe that the God I serve. The God who loves me. The God I call mine and I am His. I believe He is calling me to bring my brokenness to Him. I believe that He has something better in mind to restore, redeem, and repair my brokenness. I believe that as I surrender all my broken pieces He is making a beautiful mosaic of me.

You see He will take my plain ordinary broken pieces and use them for His glory! And as He does that each piece changes a little. It becomes more like the piece He intended it to be. He changes their colors, their shapes, their sizes! He’s changing me! He’s making me into the beautiful mosaic I’m meant to be! I just need to keep looking, keep talking, and keep seeking Him!

sunflower mosaic

One of my favorite songs
If We’re Honest by Frencesca Badistelli

It’s my prayer and hope that you find encouragement in this!

Captivity

   I can be pretty judgmental sometimes. More times than I would care to admit. God just revealed to me that I’ve been pretty judgmental of people in the bible. I’ve read the book of exodus more than once and I’m reading it again.
     Throughout the old testament we read about these Israelites and their consistently fickle nature with God. As I read, I would like to believe that I would have more faith in God than they are showing. That is where the judgment comes in. I’m judging their faith. Who am I to do that? No one. O Lord forgive me.
    The reality is that the human condition contains a paradox. The paradox that “our captivity” is safe. Captivity can be different for everyone. For any one person it can be organization, drugs, abusive relationships, success, power, cleanliness, fears of any kind….and the list goes on. Captivity can be as varied as there are a variety of people.
     You see the Israelites were rescued by God from slavery in Egypt. One would think that after seeing with their own eyes the miracles God performed, walking across the red sea on DRY GROUND, that the Israelites would not struggle to believe. Nay nay.

     At the first sign of a trial, the Israelites wanted to go back to Captivity. At least their would be food and water.
As the reader, I know how the story goes. God rains down manna from heaven and provides water from a rock. But the Israelites did not know that yet. Knowing how the story goes, I became judgemental of their response to their trial. I’m pretty arrogant. I’ve never had to walk through a desert and wonder where my food and water would come from.
     I get nervous the day before grocery shopping day, because we’ve run out of some, MAYBE most foods. And I know I’ll be going to the grocery store. That has more than all the food my family needs.
     So who am I to judge these Israelites, just because I think I know their story? I’m no one. And the fact is. I only really know a part of their story.
       The sad reality is, that I too often do this with people in my daily life. At times, I think I know and understand people and what they are going through. In reality, I only know a glimpse. The only story I know in completion is my own. Heck I don’t even know my sister’s story in it’s entirety.
     So I’m learning to listen to the wisdom of one of my really great friends, “you never know the whole story.”  Therefore I’m starting to practice leading with love and compassion for everyone. God revealed His love, compassion, and grace for the Israelites. I’m so thankful God leads with love!
  

Rebecca 🌻 Posted from WordPress for Android

A matter of perspective

      Do you ever keep running around the same problem over and over and over again? Does it always seem that this one person just gets under your skin EVERY.TIME.
      I’ve been there. Many times. More than I would like to count. I always thought things just weren’t fair. That maybe you just needed to know the “right” person to get where or what you wanted. Or that only money matters and you need money to achieve your goals.        
      Sometimes, okay many times in my life, very similar situations would unrail me. They would consume my thoughts until I could figure out how to fix the situation. Sometimes my solution would work. Most times it just took the boiling pot to a steady simmer until another similar situation reared its ugly face.
      The same has been true for me with people. Their comments, their demeanor, and their rudeness (in my eyes). I didn’t give everyone
the power to unrail me. I just didn’t realize that I had given people power over me to begin with.
     It has been as amazing journey of renewal, restoration, and transformation. What surprised me the most was how much of it I had been responsible for.
     I mean I was nice, to most people. At least I tried to be. I tried to be fair in every situation possible. I wanted everyone to be happy. Well, all that isn’t up to me nor is it my responsibility.
      It is has been truly amazing for me personally, to see how really allowing God’s word to penetrate my heart, my hurts, my fears, and the lies I once believed, and how He transforms and renews me. It’s amazing how different a situation or person can look when I allow His perspective to take precedence over mine.

For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12 AMP
http://bible.com/8/heb.4.12.AMP

I pray your mind and heart will be renewed this day and everyday forward!
God bless!
Rebecca

Rebecca 🌻 Posted from WordPress for Android

For there is no other way to be happy in Jesus…but to…

This is the question from the First Five App from my devotions this morning.

If you are not familiar with the First Five app, I highly recommend going to your app store, downloading it, and start immediately! It has been nourishing my soul.

Anyways…the question that has inspired this post:
When the people heard that God was going to spare their lives and pass over them because of the lamb’s blood, they bowed and worshipped Him. (Exodus 12:27) By doing so, they honored God. How could you honor God for sending Jesus as your Passover Lamb?

Well the best way for me to answer this is to share a part of my heart, my life, a conviction that has only grown stronger with age.

I was a junior in college. I lived in Howe hall on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University. I was happily dating my now husband. I was trying to get my life figured out! I like to have a plan. I like to have answers to questions.  Sometimes more importantly, I like to give answers to questions. You see at that time in my life I did not enjoy saying, “I don’t know.”

So, God had me stuck reading John chapter 15. It felt like months went by before I could read another passage of scripture. My prideful controlling heart wrestled with the truth in that chapter. I grasped enough of that truth at that time for God to release me. But God had used that time and grown His wisdom in my heart and mind.

The conviction was that if I wanted to love God, to serve Him, to honor Him, then I needed to TRUST & OBEY Him. Okay. Simple enough right?

Yea, not so much. In some things, I trust and obey quite well. In other things it’s a real struggle. It has take me 15 years to get to the understanding that I have today. The understanding that I want to share with you.

I’m learning to surrender. It is in surrendering the illusion of my control, that I can begin to trust in my Jesus. When I can trust in my Jesus, the obedience becomes easier.

The disobedience arises when I think my plans are better than God’s. That my knowledge is enough. Do you read the arrogance in my prior thinking and sometimes still…I get caught back there. I must repent and confess my sin, humble my heart before God, and seek Him.

To honor God I must trust and obey. To trust, I must humble my heart and mind. I must acknowledge that God’s plans and wisdom are far better than mine. When I accept that truth and rest in that truth…I can more easily trust my sweet Jesus. When I trust Him, I can more easily obey Him.

Teaching my children to trust in God and obey without delay, have taken my understanding of John 15 to a whole. ‘nother. Level!

Have a blessed day obeying without delay!

Rebecca 🌻 Posted from WordPress for Android

His resurrection

His (Jesus ’) resurrection gives me hope. To me it means that His love is unyielding, wreckless, and faithful for eternity. It wasn’t for His glory that He rose from the dead. It was His love for us that He rose from the grave, returned to earth, and instilled us with His hope. Hope for a new way of life.
  Jesus is our example. How to obey, how to surrender, how to trust, and how to love our Heavenly Father. We are to be like Christ. Therefore we should die to our flesh as Jesus willingly died to His. He said no to His personal gain, protection, and comfort. We are called to do the same.
  In His resurrection we are called to rise up with the power of the Holy spirit. When we choose Christ as Savior, we are renewed to live a life set Free from the bondages of sin in this world.
  On top of all that, Jesus prophesized this entire thing. Honestly without knowing and believing that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, I would have thought Jesus to be crazy. BUT… Knowing and believing that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead proves something far greater. His own prophecy proves His Sovereignty. He is faithful to His word.
  The best part is, when you put the two together, without God’s love… His sovereignty doesn’t provide much comfort or peace. But, with God’s sovereignty interdependent with God’s love… Well that means something entirely different. It means he can be trusted. It means He is our safety. It means He is ours and we are His. He gave us everything. He held nothing back, because He first loved us.

Lord, help me to live the life you created me for. Holy spirit live in my life. Help me to die to myself so that I can live more fully in you.

Multiply

So most of you know the great miracle of Jesus feeding the 5000, but I think God did an even bigger miracle for Jesus just a few verses earlier. It was a personal miracle, an intimate miracle.

Let’s read Matthew 14:13-14

When Jesus heard it, He withdrew from there privately in a boat to a solitary place. But when the crowds heard of it, they followed Him [by land] on foot from the towns. When He went ashore and saw a great throng of people, He had compassion (pity and deep sympathy) for them and cured their sick.
Matthew 14:13-14 AMP
http://bible.com/8/mat.14.13-14.AMP

Please don’t read this wrong. I’m not saying that it’s okay and justified to not seek solitude with God. I’m not at all saying that our serving comes before our relationship to our Saviour.

Jesus was just informed about his cousin’s death. He DESIRED to be with God. ALONE. His heart was yearning to be with His father’s heart. To be healed, to grieve, to be angry, to be overwhelmed, and to be broken. Scripture doesn’t say, but there was some time between when Jesus went to be alone and the crowd gathered.

In this busy season of my life with little children and consistent frequent interruption, this passage speaks to me in a whole new way.

God knew the heart of His son. He knew Jesus yearned to draw near to His heart and just be with Him. God also knew the people were coming. God also knew the people had needs. God made the little time Jesus had with Him enough. God multiplied the time Jesus set apart. God healed and grieved Jesus’ heart. Then God filled and provided for His son all He needed for the people waiting.

I hear God whispering to me. Come to me often for as long as you can. Even if we are interrupted…I Will make our time enough. I Will fill you for what is next. Trust me. Keep coming just as consistent and frequent as we are interrupted.

Oh the peace and joy that filled my heart. I have been set free of the guilt of not giving God enough time, my kids enough time, my husband, the house, my friends, and my church.

God Will make it enough!

Rebecca 🌻 Posted from WordPress for Android

Forgiveness

I’ve recently realized that I have a tendency to hold a grudge. I have a hard time forgiving people who hurt me. It’s not that I always want vengeance, but I wrestle with complete forgiveness.

I thought that when I became a Christian and learned to forgive my parents and my sister that I had mastered forgiveness. I didn’t think anyone would ever be able to hurt me that deeply that I would have to work that hard to forgive.

WOW…was I ever wrong. I’m learning that I must choose to continue to be teachable as life comes. Learning from the past will help, but ultimately I can not learn everything right now and just coast. At every step and turn I must walk in pace with God and learn what He wants me to learn in that moment.

I’m learning that I need time and space from those who hurt me. I need time with God away from others. I need to let God’s love heal me and empower me to forgive others.

(I’m learning that I need to find another word for learn!)

Here are some songs that God has been using to speak His truth and transform my heart.

Forgiveness, by Toby Mac

Forgiveness, by Matthew West

O God forgive us, by For King and Country

Rebecca 🌻 Posted from WordPress for Android

Time

Time…it’s the only resource that is completely limited. No matter who you are, no matter how much money you do or don’t make…there are only 24 hours in each day.
We hear cliches that time is money…it’s one of my favorite leveraging cliches…maximize your time, take your time, time heals all wounds…

Time heals all wounds. Time? Heals? ALL wounds? Is that even biblical? Well I’m learning to believe that it is. I don’t think it’s the time in itself. I think it is what God does in our hearts in that time.

Let’s look at some stories of God’s people in the bible. Please take some time to read these stories in more depth and see how God speaks to you through them.

The first story that I’ve seen God use time apart because of human selfishness is with Jacob and Esau. In Genesis 27-30 we find that Jacob steals Esau’s blessing. This enrages Esau to the point that he desires to kill his brother. It was the final straw that broke Esau’s heart. Through manipulation of Rebeckah, Jacob is sent away to get a wife. He is gone for at least 14 years.
For several reasons, Jacob decides to go back home.  As Jacob is returning to the land of his father…he is hesitant. 

Genesis 33 unfolds the meeting of these 2 brothers. Jacob is fearful and desperately trying to win favor from Esau. The beauty of God is revealed when Esau runs to Jacob, hugs him, and kisses him! Time healed Esau’s heart. He no longer desired to kill Jacob. He loved his brother.

Another story of brothers just one generation later involves Joseph, Jacob’s most favoured son. There are so many details and things to learn from this story, but I want to focus on Genesis 45:4-9. Joseph is able to forgive his brothers and love them despite what they had done to him years earlier.

Over the years Joseph kept himself humble before God, though he wasn’t humble as a young teenager before his brothers. This humility allowed him to receive God’s perspective of the entire situation. That same humility was the vessel that brought God’s peace to Joseph. It was the time apart that allowed Joseph to become what God intended him to become. Time and God not only made the man, but it changed his heart and set him free. God’s time, healed Joseph.

The last story I want to share comes from the book of Joshua chapter 20. The cities of refuge. The people have entered the promised land and God is giving instruction to organize and settle His people. I love that God knows us so well. He knows that we aren’t perfect and we make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes aren’t such a big deal…but other mistakes can be treacherous.
So God tells the people to set up cities of refuge. A city that a person can run to in the event that they accidentally kill a person. The city must hear the story of the guilty party and THEN, they must protect him from the blood avenger of the dead. He must live in that city until his trial AND until the high priest at that time dies.
I think this is so profound in many ways.  The person could wait an entire lifetime! I find it amazing that there is no set prescribed number of years to wait. It allows room for God’s sovereignty. Only God knows our hearts, our hurts, and our hesitations.  No person can decide for another when there has been enough time. Time to grieve, time to heal, and time to repent.

I believe that when we humble our hearts and our minds before the living God, He will transform us. When I confess my pride, my critical thoughts, my doubts, my fears, my hurt, and my selfishness…when I surrender those things…I see the toxins they really are. It is in those moments of honesty with God that my heart is moved to repentance. Once my heart desires repentance then my mind and my heart are free to be transformed by God’s perfect truth. This all happens in His perfect timing! I believe that God uses time as His tool to help change the hearts of His people!

Be free my brothers and sisters! Choose His freedom!

Rebecca 🌻 Posted from WordPress for Android

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for the men in my life

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