Category Archives: Forgiveness

Faith without love is just noise

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I loved these guys at the Oscars the other night. I love how Angelina is smiling her big, beautiful smile, and I love that you can almost see Brad’s hair being blown back by the wind they created. I love it when Hollywood gives me a blog idea served up on a silver platter… or in this case, on a gold cymbal.

1 Corinthians 13:1 says, Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis banged their cymbals together and they demonstrated noise. Just noise. Loud noise.

Faith without love is just noise. You see, faith works by love. (Galatians 5:6) Unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, resentment, all of these can only operate in an environment devoid of love. And on the flip side, if there is love, those things cannot flourish.

If God is love, then that’s what I want to be.

The Bible tells me to abide in faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love.

The Bible tells me to love the Lord my God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength and love my neighbor as myself.

The Bible tells me to forgive others so that I may be forgiven.

I sure don’t want to be on the wrong end of that promise.

I want my prayers to be a pleasing sound in God’s ears, not a crashing cymbal. I want to bombard Heaven with true prayer that changes things, not just a lot of noise. That seems to be a much better use of my time.

Guilty dog syndrome

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How did my dog not have enough energy to jump in the car without help after his session at doggy daycare, but he did have enough to tip over the trash can and spread it all over my kitchen? That’s the last time I give him an Advil wrapped in a piece of turkey… the little turkey. And it was the last piece of turkey, no less, which is why the tastylicious container was in the trash, beckoning him.

I love my dog so much; it’s a little scary. And it’s impossible for me to discipline him. He already knows what he’s done anyway. This morning when I came into the kitchen, he was sulking, head-down on his bed, guilt in his eyes. Normally he would be all happy and waggy and snuffling my legs while I turn on the blessed Keurig coffee contraption and stand there like a crack addict waiting for a fix.

There is  no need to scold him, he has already chastised himself. And don’t we do that very same thing when we screw up?

We know when we’re wrong, we know when we’re not glorifying God in our actions. We know when our attitude stinks. God doesn’t have to point it out to us. But we tend to beat ourselves up anyway, which many times leads to further trouble.

God doesn’t want to beat us up, why should we?

Today is a new day, and even if you knocked over the trash can last night, you get a fresh start. God is in the business of love and forgiveness, not punishment and grudges. It’s right there in black and white. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 NIV).

Whew! That’s all I can say!

Wash off that turkey

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Have you ever painstakingly set a lovely table only to see the dog jump up on it and start licking the turkey? Is the day ruined? Do you scream bloody murder, beat the dog, and sink into a puddle of disastrously dashed dreams?

Or it is possible you could wash off the turkey and stick it under the broiler for a few minutes? I mean really, we don’t have to let things get destroyed. We can fix what we can fix and we can enjoy the rest of the meal. Why let those lovely mashed potatoes go to waste? Why let the perfectly seasoned stuffing for which you chopped onions and celery for an hour be spoiled? And what about the lovely cranberry sauce that only makes one sensational appearance a year? Does it have to be trashed too?

I say, wash off the turkey and keep going. Crap happens. Such is life. We don’t have to let it conquer us.

God has mercy on us, shouldn’t we have mercy on ourselves? God gives us second chances, why don’t we extend that grace to ourselves? I think we beat ourselves up far more than our loving Heavenly Father ever does or would. Jesus already died for our sins, He doesn’t need to punish us to make His point.

But what we do have to do is repent and accept His forgiveness… even if we know we don’t deserve it. And let’s face it, we really don’t deserve it. But the good news is, the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, and great is His faithfulness.

He is faithful, even when we’re not. He is there when the dog licks the turkey. He is there when we drop the gravy boat and it shatters and we drop a verbal bomb. He is there when we burn the biscuits.

He is always there, lovingly picking us up and pushing us along, making our crooked way straight and wrapping us in His tender mercy. He doesn’t throw us out when we mess up, let’s try doing it His way.

Marriage is hard on a good day

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Do you ever want to just slap the crap out of your spouse? I bet that got your attention. Seriously, I would be lying if I said I never felt the urge to resort to physical violence. Marriage is hard on a good day. The question is: how do you not quit?

While I couldn’t possibly call myself a counselor of any kind, and I would not attempt to simplify the intricacies of marriage in a blog post, I do have some experience in the art of staying when you’d rather run.

Staying is a choice, as is all of life. Life is a series of choices and consequences; some good and some bad. We pay the price for our choices, and we can also reap some pretty amazing benefits. When I choose to eat three coneys with everything, I pay the price for it. When I choose to eat a salad, I reap the benefit of that.

I mentioned a scripture in my last post that has helped me tremendously over the years, not just in marriage, but in life. It is Philippians 4:8: Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy… meditate on these things.

Focus on the good, be thankful for the good, remember the good, meditate on the good, be grateful for the good. There is always something good we can be thankful for.

And I’ll tell you one thing I’ve learned from painful experience: you absolutely cannot compare your spouse to someone else’s. That, my friends, is a slippery slope. God gave my husband to me, just as He gave your spouse to you. Lynn Mize is God’s perfect man for me. He knows my heart, he knows my flaws, he knows what areas I’m weak in, and thank God, he excels in those areas. We complement each other, but we are far from perfect.

We fight like cats and dogs sometimes, but we keep working on it. We simmer down and talk to each other. We forgive each other… a lot. But most importantly, we choose to stay. And every time we make that choice, the grace of God is there to back us up.

Dear God, make me a bird

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My sisters-in-law and I love the Jenny line from Forrest Gump, Dear God, make me a bird… so I could fly far… far, far away from here. I can’t tell you how often that sentiment floats through my head. Almost daily.

Jenny really had it right though when it comes to dealing with thoughts. Some of them need to get the heck outta here. Thoughts can be dangerous, thoughts can be dicey, thoughts are where actions start; good or bad.

The devil tries to capitalize on our thoughts, that’s where we can either win or lose the battle on sin. You see, the devil brings thoughts to our minds and they just sound like us. He doesn’t announce himself and say, “Hi, this is the devil, I’m going to tempt you now.” No, it comes as a simple thought, and it comes in our own voice.

The Bible says in James 1:14-15, But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

This principle obviously applies to all sin, but something I don’t believe we think about much is how it applies to our emotions, our feelings, our hurts. Emotional pain can make us do some bad stuff. It can open a box that’s pretty tough to shut.

What about when we dwell on a hurt, or stew about how someone did us dirty? What about replaying a fight in our minds and going over everything the other person said and how much it hurt or how mad it made us? Let’s get honest here, have you ever written it down so you wouldn’t forget how mean that person was?

I have.

There is no difference in dwelling on a past hurt and it bringing forth sin, than dwelling on how much we need a drink or a pill or a substance, or a person, or a feeling, or a release, or anything else. It’s the dwelling on it that opens that door.

We’ve all been hurt. We’ve all suffered loss. We all know pain. But pain doesn’t have to define us, past hurts don’t have to entomb us. There is freedom in forgiveness. Let the hurt go, forgive that person in Jesus’ Name and move on. Don’t dwell on it, don’t stew over it. Let it go, let it fly far far away from you, setting you free.

That whole sharing one another’s burdens thing

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I’ve been thinking about emotions this morning, damaged emotions, broken hearts, hurting souls… real things that affect all of us. You know, in the natural realm, people hurt, people bleed, people have scars that remind them of past injury. The wound might be healed but the scar remains. I think we Christians are so much more critical of our souls than we are of our physical bodies. We give our flesh plenty of time to heal but we don’t extend the same grace to our souls. We don’t give it the same attention, somehow we value it less. This should not be.

It takes time for physical wounds to heal, it may take a little medicine, a bandage, a crutch. There are things we can do to aid in the healing process. Why do we not give this same aid to our broken hearts?

Yes, we have to forgive those who hurt us, (Mark 11:26) yes, we have to let go of offenses lest they consume us, (Psalm 119:165) yes, we have to forget the past and move forward (Philippians 3:13-14). But what about loving people and being loved in the process? What about not walking through it alone? The Bible tells us to Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2 NLT).

When we go through trials, we need each other. I wrote a post called Don’t be an island last year and I reread it this morning. It’s so true. God didn’t just make one man in the Garden, he made man and woman. He made a pair. And it took both persons to create more people. Man couldn’t have children alone.

We need each other, we need friends, we need a listening ear and a comforting shoulder. We need to give ourselves the chance to grieve when we suffer loss, and to heal when our hearts are broken. Now, we can’t live there forever, wallowing in our pain, but I think there’s a balance that many of us are not paying attention to. Or maybe I’m writing this just for me today, but I’m trying to live by faith with a realization that I am human. I am fallible, easily broken, I bleed, I hurt, my eyes leak occasionally. I am not a machine. And neither are the people in my life.

I thank God for my friends and family, and I’m going to do a better job of that whole share one another’s burdens thing, both for them and for myself.

Secrets

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I’m getting my hair done today. The gray roots just keep coming back, no matter how many times I color them. Every 4th Friday, I’m in the chair, doin’ time. I’ve had many a stylist in awe of how fast my hair grows. It’s a never-ending story. I’m Falcor.

I don’t know who I’m fooling, really. I tell people all the time about my gray hair, and yet I’m obsessive about hiding it. Hmm. I’m sure there’s a larger issue at work here.

What do you tell everyone about but still try to hide?

We probably tell more than we want to, it’s evident in our faces, our demeanor, our smile, our laughter. They all give it away. We tell on ourselves. And even if we don’t tell you what we did, we tell you we did something by not telling you anything.

My son just drank from the tea pitcher behind my back. I didn’t see him do it, I had no idea he did it, I didn’t even really care that he did it, but he told on himself. He knew it was something he wasn’t supposed to do, so he told on himself. I just smiled. He is definitely my son, neither of us can keep secrets.

If you have a seriously deep, dark secret, please don’t tell me. If I get backed into a corner, I’ll sing like a canary. I can’t take the pressure. That’s something I love about God. He can take the pressure. He knows our secrets and He loves us anyway. He’s not fooled by any of our games, you know. We can sit in church all we want, but if there’s evil in our heart, He knows it. We may fool ourselves, but He is not fooled.

When we are struggling with fear, or anger, or depression, He knows it. He’s the ultimate best friend and confidante. He will never tell, but His sweet Holy Spirit will gently nudge us in the right direction, and if we are seeking help, we will find it. The Bible says Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7).

So many times, we just don’t ask. We don’t believe He’ll actually help us, or we don’t feel worthy of His help. The devil wants to make us feel like we are the worst person and God would never help us, but it’s a lie. The devil’s motto is divide and conquer. If he can make us think we’re alone, he’s half-way there. Don’t let him. We all have issues, and none of us is hopeless. God hasn’t met His first unsolvable case yet. You are not the unlovable, you are not the unforgivable, you are not the one that doesn’t deserve God’s love and mercy. You are God’s precious child, and He’s never going to let you go.

Controlled burn

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I’m propped up in a rather comfy bed at a Holiday Inn Express in Memphis, TN. I’m using the gloriously free Internet, and there are Rendezvous ribs in my future. My world is at peace.

There will be good church tonight. There has been good church for two days already. Church is good. Church burns up your dead ground and makes room for new growth. You can’t have new growth until the old junk is cleared away.

You know how farmers and ranchers burn their fields from time to time so that they can grow back thick and green and lush? I think sometimes we need to just go ahead and let things in our lives burn away so that we can grow back better.

And I know it can be a scary thing, watching your land burn, but the end results make it all worth it. You’ve got rich, green grass instead of crunchy, dry, dead grass that has no nutrition. You’ve got a soft and tender heart that the Lord can speak to. You are teachable; you are malleable. You are useable. And that’s what God’s looking for; people who are useable, people who are willing and obedient. His Word says those people will eat the good of the land (Isaiah 1:19).

You know, God is in the restoration business. And there’s nobody better at bringing beauty out of the ashes than our Heavenly Father. He’s the ultimate Home Makeover. He’s the heart makeover, He’s the life makeover, He’s the family makeover. He wants to be whatever kind of makeover you need. Let Him get started on you!

Fast forgiveness

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Time-out can work… it takes longer and it’s more agonizing for all involved, but it can accomplish the task. Spanking is biblical and it’s faster. Emotional healing can come with therapy and time… it takes longer and it’s more agonizing for all involved, but it can accomplish the task. Forgiveness is biblical and it’s faster.

I think it’s funny that we all want everything so dadgum fast, but when it comes to getting our souls fixed, we want to take the long way.

We want to get rich quick, we want to lose weight overnight, we even want microwave popcorn and twenty-minutes or it’s free pizza delivery. But we’d rather hold on to a hurt and let it fester and ooze for a few years before we embrace forgiveness and let it go.

God’s way is better, and in this regard, it’s actually faster.

Let’s say you hurt me, really hurt me. I cry about it. It’s that sad to me. I mentally prepare myself to be hurt for a long time. I say, “I don’t think I can ever forgive you.” And I stoically try to move forward with life, but this wound is slowing me down. I’m perfectly happy to move along at a snail’s pace because it feels good to my flesh to hold onto that hurt. But if I took it before the Lord and forgave you, it could be over with and healed up and I could move forward, unhindered.

Why don’t we do this? Why will we do whatever it takes to get our food at the speed of light, but we don’t hurry to get rid of heavy, painful baggage? We need to get things in the right order here.

The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, And his glory [is] to overlook a transgression (Proverbs 19:11).

And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).

… Put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do (Colossians 3:12-13).

Be quick to forgive. It’s a challenge, trust me, I know. But I also know that some of the greatest blessings in my life have come after I’ve been hurt and I chose to forgive. God is a big God and He can bring beautiful things out of the biggest messes. We just have to give Him the chance.