Category Archives: Spiritual Growth

Forgiveness is the Key

The Wound

Have you ever been so wounded or abused by someone whom you swore you would never forgive them?

After talking with a close friend of mine recently, I was thinking about our conversation.  Anna (not her real name) is healing from a tragic childhood abuse of the worst kind. Over the past year, she and I have become very close as I have helped her deal with this horrible pain that keeps rearing its ugly head in her life.

Recently, a good friend of Anna’s almost died; Anna was very distraught about her friend. This friend has reached out to Anna just a few months ago. I think it would be good for Anna to work on building some friendships that she has cut off over the years. She fears letting others into her world, because they may hurt her. She has been betrayed by two very close friends. I mentioned not everyone wants to hurt her, and that she is missing out on the friendship and love of others. However, they are missing out on what she can offer them as well. As I was mulling over her fears one day, and through some reading and praying I realized a missing link in Anna’s healing and seeking friendships. Forgiveness . . .

She struggles to forgive the monster who stole her childhood and innocence. I can completely understand. Who would not? However, he is stealing her life now, and he is deceased. She is afraid to live. Her pain doesn’t stop with this one person it seeps into all her relationships. She is on a journey of healing, and will have a story to share with others. There are so many people out there just like her who nobody knows the hell they are living in. She will be their voice one day. God has a plan and a purpose for her, as He does for each of His children.

Open Hearts

Here is the connection I made for my friend to complete her healing. She needs to forgive the monster. Not because he deserves it. Not because he is dead. We forgive, because God has called us to forgive everyone as He has forgiven us (Eph 4:32). This will not happen in a moment, but will take time to peel back the layers of pain, grief and sorrow by releasing it to God. Somehow God has designed it when we quit clutching our pain and forgive those who hurt us then our heart is open to love and forgive others. You see my friend is clutching her pain tightly, and has for so long that it hurts to even look at it. Forgiveness looks impossible, because it has become a part of her like having a permanent scar from a gash 20 years ago, but the pain does not go away. However, God has promised us that if we make the decision to forgive – EVEN if the person NEVER asks for it – He will complete the healing process for us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Will it be easy? No. Will it be worth it? Resoundingly YES! Ask anyone who has forgiven the murderer of their child, the cheating wife or husband, the prodigal son, or the betraying friend, they would tell you the same. It is hard to describe what God does in your heart when you are obedient to forgive. You are able to look at the pain, and not feel the deep wound anymore. The anger is washed away. Joy and love take up residence where all the poison used to reside. You make room for God to fill your heart with His love that spills over into others even the one that has hurt you the most.

For me, I have someone whom I forgave for a horrible thing they did to me a long time ago. I now just feel sorry for them. To be honest, I don’t feel a gush of love for them, but I love them as a part of God’s creation. I don’t know if they have Christ or not. If they do not have the love of Christ in them, they are missing out on so much life!

So Hard to Believe

Corrie ten Boom had a similar excruciating painful experience as my friend. She and her family were severely abused in a German Nazi Concentration Camp. She watched her sister starve to death days before they received freedom. Her family was put in a prison camp for hiding Jews from Hitler’s regime. After her release, and in the midst of healing from all the torture, she spoke at a meeting in Munich, Germany about what she had been through in the camps and about God’s forgiveness.

Afterwards, a former guard came up to her, and said that he had become a Christian recently, and he wanted to personally ask her forgiveness. She remembered him. She remembered being paraded by him naked. He stuck his hand out in an offering of peace and forgiveness. It was all she could do to shake his hand. She knew that she should, but she had this internal battle raging. She finally extended her hand out to shake his and when she did, she could feel the power and presences of God move from her shoulder down to where her hand met his. She had this overwhelming sense of love for the man. The forgiving power of God overwhelmed her. You see she stopped clutching her pain, and could forgive and love through the power of God.

Forgiveness Is . . .

Forgiveness is more about letting go of our right to be hurt, than it is freeing the other person from their responsibility. Forgiveness frees us to love others more deeply. I know it is hard, because there are times that I struggle with it too. When you are repeatedly hurt by the same person for the same thing over and over again, you want to curl up in your corner to have your pain party. Although, that is not what God designed us to do. Unforgiveness holds us in bondage and keeps us from the pure love that God has for us and the love we could share with others. Forgiveness is the key to get out of bondage.

Is there someone you need to forgive today? Maybe you need to forgive yourself and allow God to heal you. We are to be responsible for own actions, but that does not mean we drag that mistake, sin, or pain with us for the rest of our life as penance. This is the beauty of God’s design. His mercy and grace wash away our sin and our pain to open our hearts to be filled with His love. I pray that you allow Him today. Forgive as you have been forgiven by the Almighty Savior and Friend. He will flood you with His love.

This verse below became real to me during a particularly difficult time in  my marriage.  God revealed to me that He had forgiven me and I needed to forgive my husband just like He forgives me.  Talk about a spiritual 2 x 4!

Ephesians 4:32 “Instead, be kind to each other,

tenderhearted,  forgiving one another,

just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

Please feel free to share how forgiveness helped you or any other comments on this post. I look forward to reading what you share!

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JUST QUIT!

JUST QUIT!

Guest Post by Casey Sollock

www.QuitToGrowRich.com

 

Do you ever feel like the only purpose you have in life is to make it through the day…only to wake up the next day to do it all over again?

 

Do you sometimes feel like you are running through life on a high-speed treadmill, going as fast as you can but never really getting anywhere?

 

Do feelings of unhappiness and stress overwhelm you?

 

Does your relationship with God need revival?

                                                      

THEN QUIT GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS!

 

My name is Casey, and I’m the founder of QuitToGrowRich.com.  The question I love to ask my coaching clients is, “What do you need to QUIT to lead your richest life?!”  So, that is the question I am asking you today.  Give that some thought.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

You see, at one point in my life I could answer yes to all of those questions above.  I was just going through the motions (and almost wasted $65,000 on law school because of it…that’s a long story that I won’t get into here!), and my relationship with God did need revival.  I was a wife and mother and had completely lost myself in those roles.  I was just doing whatever I could do to make it through the day.  I still had a relationship with God, but it wasn’t a deep, soul-satisfying relationship.  Things needed to change.  So, what did I do?

I got still.  In this crazy world of perpetual busy-ness, I had to make a concerted effort to BE STILL.  Maybe you need to do this, too.  I began to get into conversation with God again.  I started really listening to what he was saying.  I didn’t do all the talking!  Be quiet and hear his whispers.  They are beautiful.  I asked him what I was here for, what my purpose was.  I desperately needed to QUIT going through the motions and live my life intentionally.

 

So, what were the practical steps I took in order to QUIT going through the motions?

 

1.   I rediscovered my God-given strengths and began to nurture those.  What are your strengths?  How has God wired YOU?  There are multiple strengths assessments on the market.  The one I love is The CALL, a faith-based, life-purpose and vocational assessment.

 

2.  I realigned my priorities in life, and now nothing will knock them out-of-place Do you know what your priorities are?  Think about this and write them down.  If you let your priorities get out of line, nothing feels quite right.  Chaos ensues and so does unhappiness.

Note from Joyce:  We plan vacations and retirement with great detail.  Why don’t we create a life plan?  Isn’t how you spend your days more important that a vacation? Michael Hyatt has a great e-book (It’s short) that helps you get your priorities in order in  “Create a Life Plan” – Click on the title to learn how you can get this e-book for FREE!

3.  I focused in on what was truly fulfilling for me.  What is it that fulfills you and makes your heart sing?  WHO ARE YOU?  And, I’m not talking about all the roles you have.  Who are you deep down in your soul?  What brings you joy and happiness? God places natural gifts and abilities in each of us that we can explore and expand by learning how to be a better writer, singer, teacher, mom, wife, husband, father, create furniture, design buildings, photography or whatever that makes you get all giddy when you get a chance to do . . . . If you could have a day to do whatever you wanted, what would it be?  Is that what you are passionate about? Most likely it is your passion.

One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  To me, this says it all!  Throw off everything that hinders you (QUIT!).  Anything that makes you feel like you are “just going through the motions” should be tossed aside.  God has given you a very unique and wonderful race to run!  He wants you to be purposeful and intentional.  Remain in prayer and conversation with God so that you stay on the right path…and, persevere! 

QUIT TO GROW RICH!  Quit whatever you need to quit so you can lead your richest life…a life rich in purpose, rich in happiness, rich in health, rich in relationships, rich in God!    

From Joyce:  Thank You Casey for this great reminder to BE STILL.  God must be telling me something, because in the past 12 hours I have read three different things about being still with God.  Hmm. . . . I think He is trying to tell me something.  How about you?  How hard is it to sit still and do nothing or think of nothing for five minutes? Take five minutes to focus on God and listen to His voice.  I encourage you to try it.  Not as easy as it sounds!  May God richly bless you in this time with Him! 

Please check out Casey’s Blog and send her any questions or comments through the Leave a Reply below or directly to her website.  I know it this busy phase of my life it is hard to know what to quit.  What is hard for you to quit? We look forward to hearing how God is moving in your life today!

About Casey Sollock:

Casey understands the power of Quitting, and she loves to share her message! She is a Christian women’s speaker, life-purpose coach, and author. Casey is passionate about developing women leaders so they can create their RICHEST lives.  She teaches women of all ages how to “lead their life,” even in the midst of the multiple roles every woman holds.  Her book, Should, Could, and Would, encourages leadership thinking and taking action! While its rhyming style, fun words, and engaging illustrations capture the attention of young children, the inspirational leadership message speaks to all ages!  Casey invites you to visit her website, www.QuitToGrowRich.com, for more information about her coaching and speaking, and to find out about creating your personalized Quitness Plan!

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Falling in the Pit: Part 4 of 5

Falling in the Pit: Part 4 of 5

Repentance . . . Renewal . . . Restoration

 

Verse For Today:

Psalm 51:1-4

Background Passages: 2 Samuel 11; 12:1-5

We started our journey with David one sleepless night on his rooftop and ended up with the horrible news that his child was going to die.  Where does a broken man go from here?  Unsuccessfully, he tried hiding his sins, and Nathan came for an intervention session.  David finally breaks and confesses the lies he has been trying to hide.  Read Part 1 to 3 to know more about David’s journey. Today, we will peek into David’s heart as we read Psalm 51.

Repentance

“Have mercy upon me, O God . . .” is a great place to start when we are broken and stop running from the truth.  I need God’s mercy on a daily basis too, and He has more mercy than we can fathom.    I love how David so eloquently puts his prayer of repentance in Psalm 51.  (If you have not read the whole chapter yet, please take a minute and do so now.)  David stopped running and turned back to God with all of his heart.  Nathan held up the Holy mirror of God, and David could see the blackness of his empty soul.  He had lied to everyone, pretending he was taking Bathsheba to console her.  Pretending her pregnancy occurred after their “marriage.”  Having Uriah killed in action, so he could cover his own trail of lies and betrayal.  Where do the lies stop?  How long do you keep pretending and wearing the mask?

Are you in the middle of a trail of lies now?  How do you stop the freight train of lies that keep moving down the line so fast? God sees it all.  He patiently waits for you to turn it to Him.  No sin is too large.   You cannot out love God.  Give Him the pain, the fear of the consequences, and He can bring healing and restoration to your life.  God has done a restoring work in my life from seeking my own way to seeking His way.  This has been a painful process of letting go of my will and surrendering to His.  However, after letting go, I find peace and joy living in God’s will.  My life has not been easy in His will, but I know His plans are best.

Renewal

David uses vivid images in his prayer of repentance.  In verse 1 is, “Blot out my transgressions.”  Blot was a financial term used to blot out with ink your debt either when paid or canceled.  Through the power of Jesus dying on the cross our sin debt of death was paid in full.  “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.”  The cleansing work of the Savior is completed when we give Him our rebellious and selfish hearts.   David “acknowledged” his sin to God means that he confessed specifically all the sins that he had done.  Even though he had hurt many, David prays “Against You, You only, have I sinned . . .” None of his sins were as serious as the sin against God, because he was not living by the standards God set for him.   God is not fair in our economy of right and wrong, but He is always just.  It may take years for you to wrap your mind around that concept.  However, the longer I live and the more I read how God handles things throughout the Bible I see He is just.  Even today I may not understand why God decides to do certain things or allows others to happen, but I know that He has plans we can’t completely understand (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Restoration

Restoration begins in our hearts when we have confessed our dark sins to the Savior and turn to Him for wisdom on how to live our daily lives.   God can mold and move in our lives when we soften our hardened heart towards Him.  You soften   your heart, when you decide to follow God in obedience to His word and listen to Him when He speaks to your heart.  David knew God wanted more than just lip service or some ceremony of repentance by offering a sacrifice.

“For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;

You do not delight in burnt offerings. .

The Sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,

A broken and a contrite heart –

These, O God, You will not despise.”

~ Psalm 51:16-17 NKJV ~

The Work of Revival:

I find comfort knowing that David committed some of the most atrocious sins possible, and is still known as a man after God’s own heart.  David found revival in his life after falling into the depths of the pit and turning back to God.  This gives me hope, knowing that whenever I mess up God will still have mercy on me when I turn back to Him in repentance. There is peace just waiting for me when I turn my heart back to Him.

Where are you today my friend?  Is your heart breaking right now?  God desperately wants to draw you near.  To cleanse you.  To heal you.  To set you free from the bondage.  Maybe your sin is not something you have done, but bitterness of what has been done to you.  Jesus wants to set you free from the poison of bitterness seeping into every area of your life.  Spend time with Jesus right now, and ask him to reveal any sin you need to confess. Then you will be in sweet fellowship with your Savior.  Revival of the heart is a journey, but worth the long road we travel to the feet of Jesus.

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out of the Box

Note from Joyce:  I have been MIA for the past month while working on my next class in college.  Thankfully I am done.  Below you can read some of the fruits of my labor from class.  I can’t wait for you to share your story.  Part 4 of David’s story will be ready soon.

out of the Box


As I listen to the song My Own Little World by Matthew West, it is a stark reminder of how I take the basics of life for granted.

In my own little world it hardly ever rains
I’ve never gone hungry, always felt safe
I got some money in my pocket, shoes on my feet
In my own little world, population: me

The song inspired my thinking about what I can do to get out of my own little world, my box. How can I make time to help others with all the things going on in my life? I am a college student, a wife, a mother, and the chief operating officer of our home. As well as, I am currently seeking a new job, a writer, blogger and a Sunday school teacher. Yet the words of the song always sting my heart, because when I give out of my box I feel that I am truly living.

Even though I do not have all the material things that I would like, I have more than most people around the world. My eyes were opened outside of my box as I worked at a job in downtown Albany, Ga. The number of people walking to the drug store or work amazed me. On the side of town where I live everyone drives a car, because it is too far to walk most places. Many people downtown are walking because they cannot afford a car.

One day a haphazardly dressed man who wore a pungent odor came into our office with his rheumatoid arthritis prescription, and really struck my heart. He did not have the money to fill the prescription. You could see the knots of agony that had already damaged his hands, but he didn’t come asking for money. He humbly asked to borrow some paper towels and window cleaner to clean the windows of some store fronts nearby. He looked for ways to earn the money for his medicine. I admired his approach to his problem. When he brought the cleaner back to me, I gave him my ten dollars I had for lunch money. It felt good to help someone in such a small way, but I know it is huge to have medicine for pain. I have always had money for medicine and medical care. I realized how incredibly blessed I am to have something so basic, and so important to my comfort.

This thought of helping others actually has been nagging at me for some time. Due to my strong faith in God I believe it is my way of giving back to others the way people have given to me. As the song asks, “What if there is a greater purpose?” makes me realize that my helping others is not about me, but about them. When I take the focus off of my needs, my family, my life, I enter into someone else’s world and can make a greater impact than if I just stay “safe” in my own little box. The ultimate goal is to give not to receive. However, every time I give of myself to others I find I receive so much more in return.

What bothers me about my box is it’s all about “me”! In America most of us focus filling our box for us, and do not think twice about others. We consume our thoughts about what to buy next and what great trip we can take.   I am guilty of this crime by planning the ways to decorate my home and what car I want next. Rarely do we look for ways to help those that are hurting or just need a few dollars for medicine. We live shallow lives if it all about “us.”

It is hard to tame the monster inside each of us that desires for more. So, what do you do? What do you fill the box of your life with and why? Is being “safe” in your box and filling your box all there is to this life? At the end of my life I hope my box is empty from all that I gave. It does not matter how big or small, from the heart or from the wallet, seek to give out of your box in some way each day. For me life is more exciting when you give from the heart!

Leave a comment below how you have shared out of your box recently or in the past that brought that joy of giving glow to your face.    I can’t wait to hear your story!

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I want to know what is on your mind . . .

Take the very short 2 question survey to let me know what you would like to know more about. This will help me to develop my blog to be more useful for you.  Thank You in advance for your valuable input!

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Falling in the Pit: Part 3 of 5

Falling in the Pit: Part 3 of 5

Caught .. . Confession . . . Consequence . . . 

Verse for Today:    

2 Samuel 12:1-15  Click on verses to read online

Caught

In the last post, we watched David takes a nose dive deeper into the pit of sin.  After committing adultery, David has Uriah murdered since he could not trick him into sleeping with his wife, and others were killed in the process.  He marries Bathsheba in hopes his sin will be swept under the rug.  David’s story sounds like a current movie script.  However, the story is far from over, God’s divine mirror is about to be held up to David.

As you read the next part of David’s story in the scripture, did you notice David’s reaction to Nathan’s story?  I find Nathan’s approach very wise.  What better way to penetrate David’s heart than with a story that would incinerate him with emotion.

Now, if Nathan had gone to David and said “David, I know and God knows what you are trying to hide.  So, why don’t you fess up?”  David probably would have tried to deny it a little while longer.  Yet with the story he could see the gravity of his sin and what harm and pain he had caused many, but most importantly the sin he sinned against God.  As soon as Nathan says, “You are the man! . . .” David’s heart sinks and he knows that he has been caught.  The lie is no longer hidden, but out for all to see.

Have you ever been caught like David in a lie either by your parents as a child or teenager or by your spouse?  It is a horrible feeling in the pit of our stomach.

As Nathan continues on with his word from God for David I can see him get very animated as he is talking, “I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.  I gave you . . . your master’s wives . . .  and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. . . Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His sight? . . .”  David had been given everything he needed and more by God.  God would have given him more if he asked. David had many wives to choose from.

So, why did David walk down this slippery path?  The same reason any of us falls, slides or plain jumps into the pit of sin.  He wanted to.  He let his desires take over control of his morals and wisdom from God.   None of us can really point at David and say “I would never,”  because we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

Confession

The Bible doesn’t say, but we can imagine that at this point when Nathan finishes his message from God that David’s head falls in shame.  Then as he can barely bring his head back up, he looks Nathan in the eye with a broken and contrite heart and says, “I have sinned against the Lord.”  I can see the pain in his eyes as Nathan has just held up the mirror of God to David’s black and sinful life.

When I studied David’s story in Beth Moore’s Bible study David: A Heart Like His, I felt like God had held up the mirror to my life and I could see all the selfish and hurtful things that I had done.  It made me sick when I finally saw my dark sin against the righteousness of God.  Ah, but like David, God washed over me His mercy and forgiveness.  I finally had a deep cleansing of my soul and all those years of shame were washed clean.  No longer could the enemy feed me his lies that I had ruined it forever.  I was a sinner saved by grace!  Joy truly did flood my soul.  It makes me smile as I remember the feeling of being cleansed and completely forgiven.  I fell in love with Jesus more.

Consequence

As with everything that we do there is going to be a consequence.  Some are good when we have made a good decision and some are bad when we have made a bad decision.  The choice is up to us.  Nathan, in a calmer tone now that David has confessed, declares the consequence for his sin.   The baby is going to die.  I don’t know why God made this the consequence, but His ways are higher than mine (Isaiah 55:8-9).  I would hate to imagine that conversation David had with Bathsheba.

The Work of Revival:

Maybe you have never been “caught” by others for your sin.  Maybe you can hide your sin from others, but God knows.  God desires an obedient heart from His children.  Does that mean we do everything perfectly?  NO!  It means that when we fail to follow God whether it is because we are pursuing our own selfish desires or because we took a wrong path that led to many more bad decisions.  God desires us to confess to Him with a truly repentant heart.  Confess simply means that you tell God what you have done and that you are truly sorry.  A repentant heart surrenders their own personal desires to God, and pursues the desires of God’s heart. Spend time with God today and ask Him if there is any sin that you need to confess.

This does not make us stale robots passing out tracks and only talking about the Bible all day long.  God has richly blessed each of us with an array of gifts and abilities to be used to bring Him glory.  God has something special and fun for each of us to do each day.  This could be as simple as cooking a favorite meal for your husband to as big as going to Thailand for the summer to share the gospel of Christ.  We all have a part in God’s plan, but we choose whether or not we are going to participate.

How has God used your bad decisions to help you grow closer to Him?

Please share your story in the comment area!  You never know who you might encourage.

For me, my bad decision was buying a business when I did not have enough working capital to keep it going in the first year.  So, I created an unbelievable amount of debt that has just about choked me the past three years.  I will be paying this debt off for another three to five years most likely.  I did not heed the warnings of some family members, and so I will spend six to eight years getting out of a hole that I created.

The bad economy did not help, but ultimately I had made the decision.  I pay for that decision every month with almost everything that I make.  I have learned how to completely trust God with what I need, and yes some days it is downright scary to think about.  I am more understanding of those who have put themselves in similar situations.  I won’t bore you with the list of consequences that brings, but I am sure you can figure out many of them.

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Another Great Quote . . .

Peace doesn’t come from finding a lake with no storms. It comes from having Jesus in the boat.

~John Ortberg~

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