Sunday, October 28, 2012


"Forgive, and you will be forgiven." ~ Luke 6:37, NIV


He had some pretty hard sayings in His day, didn't He?  Difficult, even radical commands that He asked His followers to obey. Commands that made many wince; commands that caused many to shake their heads in disbelief and rebellion, and to turn and walk away.

Things like, 

"Love your enemies. Bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you." 

"Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will  save it." 

Today, as followers of Jesus, we come across these hard sayings of His in God's Word, and are asked to obey these same difficult, radical commands. Because, as Jesus told His disciples then and tells us now, 

'If you love Me, obey My commandments.' (John 14:15, NLT) 

One such command of Jesus' was the command to forgive. Indeed, Jesus had some radical things to say about forgiveness.  Things like:

"But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too. ” ~ Mark 11:25

"If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins." ~Matthew  6:14-15

When Peter came to Jesus regarding how many times he was required to forgive someone who had sinned against him, he asked Jesus if he should forgive that person 7 times.  The answer?

“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!" ~ Matthew 18:21

Is the idea of offering forgiveness easy, or is it harsh or difficult for you? 

Does having to forgive someone, whether the sin was against you personally or against someone else, make you:

  • wince?

  • angry?

  • bitter?

  • sick to your stomach?

  • shake your head in disbelief and rebellion, and turn and walk away?

I know I have to say a resounding 'Yes' to most of the above. How do you forgive someone who has not only hurt you so deeply you feel tangible pain, but CONTINUES to hurt you over and over and over?  Like on a daily basis. Oh, my dears -- how I have wrestled with this through the years, only to come up empty handed, bruised and exhausted!!

How do you forgive someone who has taken something....or someone....from you? How do you forgive someone who has destroyed your family, your childhood innocence, your marriage, your career, your hopes and dreams, your reputation, your very life? Or someone else's? Again, this has -- and continues to be -- a struggle for me.  How about you?

Yes, I can tell you from experience, 'forgive' is certainly not the 'f' word that's come to my mind or from my lips right out of the gate over the years, after being abused, rejected, mocked, mistreated, lied to, gossiped about or hurt by others.  

But it was for Jesus.  

Father, forgive them......

More to come in my next post. I hope you'll join me for it. 

'This is love, this is hate....we've got a choice to make

Oh -- Father, won't You forgive them?

They don't know what they've been doin' (oh no);

Oh, Father, give me grace to forgive them

'Cause I feel like the one losing......'  ~from Losing, by Tenth Avenue North

Friday, October 26, 2012

An Addendum to 'A Slow Fade'

'Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties. And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.' ~ Psalm 139:23-24, NKJV

After writing and posting 'A Slow Fade' the other day, and receiving private messages from those who wondered if this post was indeed about them (it wasn't), I felt an overwhelming need to respond here and speak the truth, in love.

First of all, let me sincerely assure everyone: if I am EVER going to write a post that is unequivocally about YOU and a specific, serious experience or a deeply personal struggle of yours, I would most certainly ask your permission FIRST before ever typing a word, while most humbly and respectfully submitting and adhering to your response, should you say "No."

In composing 'A Slow Fade', I tried to be as vague as possible, not naming names or sharing specific details, even though it is highly unlikely that the one whose situation became the catalyst for this post about compromise and disobedience will ever read it. It's my understanding that at this point in time, they wouldn't be in a position of mind or of a heart attitude to desire to do so.  I don't think they're even aware I HAVE a blog. In addition, I did not want to cause any further pain and heartache to those closest to this situation, nor did I desire to promote gossip. 

That being said, please understand that when I write, I'm not just writing about and referring to another's experiences and struggles with something (be it a temptation, a sin, an addiction, a hurt, etc.) for the sake of having something to post, but to relate them to my own similar issues as well, or what lessons I've learned from them.  I, too, am a student and a first partaker of these lessons as much as, if not more, than my faithful readers. 

Earnest Prayer, by C. Michael Dudash
Because believe me, dear ones, with the life I've lived, I am in no position to ever specifically highlight another's faults, flaws or failures with the intention of condemning them, or causing them pain and public humiliation here. I certainly wrestle with enough of my own imperfections and demons on a daily basis not to be so self-righteous that I feel the need to condemn another.

However -- if you clearly felt deeply convicted in ANY way, shape or form by 'A Slow Fade' (or any other post here for that matter), please know that is the Holy Spirit's nudging and conviction, asking you to open up your heart to the Lord God, allowing Him access to search it, reveal the struggle with sin within, give you time to confess and repent, and then heal and cleanse you of it.  

It's my sincere hope that the messages the Holy Spirit inspires me to share on this blog through the written word will somehow make a difference in someone's life and perhaps even
  • encourage and inspire them
  • offer them hope
  • alert them to an area of compromise or disobedience they are walking in
  • challenge them to make a change
  • invite them to surrender their lives to Jesus Christ

Because in reality -- it's not me being able to do any of these things, but our beloved Holy Spirit. I'm well aware now that I'm merely His conduit -- and again, a humble student -- of every message He sees fit to send through my writing. 

The Comforter, by C. Michael Dudash

Monday, October 22, 2012

Your Will Be Done

This morning, while I was searching for something else, my Bible flipped open to Matthew 6, and my eyes fell onto this well-known, oft recited passage:

"This, then, is how you should pray:
'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.'" ~ Jesus, from Matthew 6:9, NIV

A few minutes ago, I came upon this video on K-LOVE radio's website, by Tenth Avenue North's lead singer, Mike Donehey, speaking on....The Lord's Prayer.  Coincidence?  I think not. 

My will....or God's will be done, here on earth as in heaven?  Sometimes, God has to pry open the hands of His beloved, yet strong-willed child to remove whatever we are holding onto so tightly.  Whatever is keeping us from doing His will.  Because whatever He has to give us; whatever He has for us to do, wherever He has for us to go is so much better, although we might not see it that way at the time. 

How many times in my life, this past month -- okay, let me be completely real here --this past WEEK!!! -- have my fists been closed tightly around something or other (or someone) that I deemed as MINE, refusing to surrender to my Father? How many times have I rebelled against God, wanting to do my own thing?  How many times have I refused to walk down the path created for me by Him, choosing instead to run in the opposite direction, because it wasn't where I wanted to go?  What a struggle it has been for me to let go, to surrender, to obey.  To choose HIS will, and not mine.

As Mike reminds us here in this video, even Jesus struggled with surrendering to the will of His Father.  Right there, on a dark night, in the garden of Gethsemane:

"Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, 'My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.'  

He went away a second time and prayed, 'My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done.' "  ~ Jesus, from Matthew 26:39; 42, NIV

This world truly holds NOTHING for us. God HAS everything.  God IS everything. As the Father loves His Son, so also does He love us with an 






What are you struggling to hold onto today that you need to surrender to our Father? Please don't wait until He has to pry it out of your hand(s). Let go and let God's will be done in your life. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Warning – never write a blog entry entitled “God is Good,” and expect/think that nothing will happen (sooner than later at that) to make you wonder, even if only for the briefest instant, if that is really true.

Now, I know that it IS true.  God IS good.  But I also know that this life is not. Not all of the time. No matter how many T-shirts, baseball caps and bumper stickers assure me and you that ‘Life is Good,’ don’t for one minute believe that to be a consistently true statement.

God is good despite the fact that life is not always good. Despite the fact that things and people aren’t always what they seem and don’t always turn out the way you want them to. Despite what others say and do. Despite the way things look. Despite the way you feel.

One thing you can be sure of – God never, EVER changes. That is a part of His nature – to be unchanging. Unwavering. He is not fickle or double-minded like we are. God is good – all the time. That never changes.

But circumstances and people do change. All the time. Wednesday could be a perfectly wonderful day.  The. Best. Day. Ever., as people like to say. But then Thursday rolls in like a killer storm, complete with torrential downpours, deafening thunder, blinding lightning bolts and tsunami-sized waves. Sunday could be a day filled with joyful blessings, a day where it’s easy to praise God, a day where it’s easy to see and say and believe that God is good.

And then Monday comes along and begins to unravel like a bad sweater.

You car breaks down, your cell phone dies and oh, by the way, you left your wallet at home. Or you go online and find that three of your checks have bounced, with more on the way because your account is showing INSUFFICIENT FUNDS (always shown in blood red, just in case you missed it being in bold caps). Meanwhile, you realize that your rent is due today. And later on, you find out that you didn’t get that better paying job everyone, including you, were absolutely SURE you were going to get.  

Do you still believe that God is good?

Or how about this scenario?  You get to the job you already have, get called into the office and are told that your services are no longer needed and please go back to your desk to pack your things, your severance check is in the mail, have a nice day. You plod back to your desk -- where there are some empty boxes all ready and waiting for you and you find yourself greeted by two rather intimidating gentlemen from your employer’s goon squad…sorry…security office, to keep an eye on you and accompany you as you leave the building, just in case you might be thinking about going postal and shooting up the entire office on your way out the door. 

Might you be thinking: God is good?

The phone rings at home, you answer it, and the voice on the other end tells you news you don’t want to hear:

·         Your son’s been arrested
·         Your parents are divorcing
·         Your daughter was in an accident and is at the ER
·         Your spouse isn’t coming home
·         Your test for cancer or diabetes or heart disease came back positive

Is God still good then?

Yes, of course He is.  

However, it can be a truth that's difficult to grasp and hold tightly to in the midst of life being not so good.  In fact, it's downright, exasperatingly hard. When things begin to spiral downward in life, I can almost see the enemy slithering up next to me, raising one eyebrow, nodding his head and saying with an eerie chuckle, "'s that whole 'God is good' thing working for you now, dearie?" 

Not long after I wrote  'God is Good'   and posted it, some things in my life began to unravel like that aforementioned bad sweater.  Because, as we all know, after a lesson always comes the test. 

But --  in spite of the things I see going on around me in my family, in my neighborhood, in the lives of dear friends, as well as in the Church and, of course, in the world, things that anger, sadden, confuse and frighten me -- I will choose to remember and believe that God is still good. 

Even after the three phone calls I received in an hour's time that left my head spinning and my heart pounding out of my chest the other day.  Even after someone near and dear to me shared some news yesterday that made me sick, broke my heart and caused me to wonder what the future will hold for them now, I will choose to remember and believe that God is still good.

What about you, dear friends? Who or what in your life is causing you to struggle to remember this truth, that God is still good even when life is not?

Will you join me today, and in the coming days, in choosing to remember and to say, along with the prophet, Habakkuk: 

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
    He makes my feet like the deer's;
    He makes me tread on my high places. ~ Habakkuk 3:17-19, ESV

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