No Record of Wrongs

“It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured.”  1 Corinthians 13:5

 

Jesus came to the Earth to die for our sins.  His ministry was of reconciliation. Once the sin was confessed, it was forgiven, and healing would take place.  However, we get in the way of that. We say we forgive but we hardly forget.

 

A couple of weeks ago, professional golfer, Tiger Woods played in The Masters golf tournament. He won the tournament and it was hailed as his comeback.  He was back on top. The crowds at the tournament and the media were in adoration. A few years ago, the adoration was not there for Tiger, just hate and ridicule.  And I was a part of that.

 

When I was in college, Tiger Woods turned pro.  I was so excited because he was multiracial, like me and he just seemed like one in a million. Tiger Woods did exceptionally well. He grew more famous, wealthy, and popular.  Everything seemed like it was going for him. Then things began to crumble.

 

Tiger had a few rough years, where he sustained a lot of injuries and required many surgeries.  His personal life became front news because of his extra marital affairs and prescription drug abuse.  Tiger seemed to have everything and not appreciate it. I didn’t want him to succeed anymore.  

 

As The Master tournament progressed, there was word that Tiger could win the whole thing.  Part of me, was rooting for him, but memories of his infidelity came up and the excitement wore off.  Tiger came up to the last hole of his round and he was a few strokes away from winning. God said, “Aren’t you glad I don’t throw all your forgiven sins in your face?” Oh the conviction.

 

After winning, he ran to his family and hugged his son so tight.  You could see the love he had for his son. I was genuinely happy for Tiger.  He looked so relieved and had much appreciation for this victory. We don’t know the authentic side of famous people.  They are people with feelings and regrets. Tiger probably made his peace and asked for forgiveness from those who he hurt.  

 

When we hurt someone, we would not want them to keep record of our wrongs. And when it happens to us, it is important for us to not do that either.  Our health depends on learning and practicing true forgiveness.

 

Everyone loves a good comeback.  But sadly, these same people love to harass and bully relentlessly of someone who did something bad.  Unforgiveness, is detrimental to one’s health. It may be safer sometimes to not have certain people in our lives.  But forgiveness is still necessary. In the wise words of Jay Shetty, “Sometimes you just have to be done. Not mad, not upset.  Just done.”

 

If you need to make a comeback, forgiveness is a good place to start.  If someone has righted their wrongs, allow yourself to forgive them and not remember their wrongs.

 

Lesson Learned: Jesus died for our sins, so we don’t have to remain in bondage to sin or to stay in unforgiveness.  Forgiveness is necessary.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, reveal to me people who I need to forgive.  Help me let go of the pain. Renew my mind, so that my thoughts are honorable.  Heal my anxieties and fear towards people. For every tear that was shed, thank you for redeeming me from the pain.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

 

Don’t Let Sin Destroy Your Life

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Sin comes in a variety of ways. It can be outright evil, or it can be sneaky. Sneaky sin is scary. If you don’t ask for forgiveness and help from God to resist it, it takes root in your life.

When I was nine years old, my parents and I were at a mall at a surf and ski shop. There were magazines and pamphlets by the front door. At first glance, they were labeled “free.” I noticed one magazine with its bright, beautiful pictures of the ocean. I knew I wanted these pictures for a wall in my room. We left the store, and I had the magazine in my hands.

My parents and I got home, and I went straight to my room. I grabbed a pair of scissors and looked at the front cover to see a price of $5.99 on it. I could feel the blood drain from my face. “Oh no, I’m a criminal!” was my thought. I ran to my dad and begged him to drive back so I could give back the magazine. My dad sighed and said, “no, it’s too far, and it’s fine.” I had tears streaming down my face. My dad soon realized this was not the right way to rectify it and consoled me, “sweetheart, we will go back tomorrow.” And we did.

At that age, I wanted nothing to do with sin. As children, we are taught not to lie, cheat or steal. Something happens to us when we aren’t stable in our faith and follow the ways of the world. We may think we are safe if we know God and have a deep relationship with Him, but the enemy loves to distract and confuse us, especially when it comes to sin.

A few days ago, I was at a bi-monthly gathering. The same people usually attend, but every so often someone new comes. There was a man who I met for the first time. He smiled at me, and I immediately felt an attraction. It felt weird and sweet at the same time. He was making small talk, but he seemed genuinely interested. I soon realized we talked for over 20 minutes straight, I decided to bring in more people into the conversation, so I wasn’t alone. For days, I thought about this situation. I felt guilty and sad that as a married woman I would be feeling like this toward someone else other than my husband.

I decided to confide in a friend, a person who I think, also as a spiritual mother. Thankfully nothing more than conversations happened between the man and me. But I told her how I felt and cried tears of shame and guilt. She lovingly listened and comforted me. My friend was truthful but understanding. She revealed that there was something deeper that I needed to explore with myself and my husband. Expose the sin and work on those areas of weakness and pain.

I think back to that time as a little girl being so guilty of accidentally taking a magazine. Why isn’t that the same reaction I have to sin as an adult? We live in a world where most sins get a free pass because everyone is doing it. When faced with temptation, ask God to intervene right that minute. Please know, that no fleshy desired fulfilled is worth the torment it will bring for months or even years. I want to spend eternity in Heaven with Jesus!

Lesson Learned: If we allow Jesus to intervene, no temptation is too great for Jesus to save us. Sinning is not worth it.

Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for allowing sin to take a foothold in my life. Cleanse my mind, heart, and soul. Reveal those areas that need work and your intervention. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Redemption in a Starbucks Drive-Thru

“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it; it is sin for them.” James 4:17

Sin comes in many forms.  We sin against others, ourselves, and God.  Jesus came to die on the cross for the reconciliation of our sins.  Making our wrongs right, is necessary, but pride and denial get in the way.

One rainy evening, my husband, newborn baby and I drove to the Starbucks drive-thru.  We were suffering from sleep-deprivation and wanted something warm and with caffeine. As we turned into the driveway, another car cut us off to go into the Starbucks drive-thru.  We were mad, but there was nothing we could do about it.

We gave our order and went up to the window to pay.  The barista said, “there is no charge. The customer before you paid for your drinks and said he was sorry for cutting you off.” My mouth dropped.  I couldn’t believe that it happened. Honestly, that cup of hot chocolate was the best one I had ever had. But that man did what we should all do if we sin/wrong someone, we make it right as soon as possible.  

Many times we are faced with disagreements with people or our sin, and we do nothing about it to make the wrongs right.  Making wrongs right doesn’t mean we have to apologize for things we didn’t do, but the act of forgiveness frees us from more profound trauma.  If we did the wrong, we need to accept responsibility and seek forgiveness from who we wronged. Do not let sin take a foothold in our life.

Lesson Learned: When you wrong someone, take responsibility and reconcile the best you can.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for forgiveness of sin I have committed.  If there is someone I need to reconcile with, give me the right words to say and courage to make amends.  Thank you, Jesus, for dying on the cross to cleanse me from sin. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

 

Never be in a Relationship that You Cannot Talk About

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

When I was in my early 20’s, I entered into a relationship that was toxic and unrighteous. He paid attention to me in a way no one had. I entered into the relationship because I did not see myself as able to be loved or valued. Every Sunday, I would go to church, torn by conviction and guilt. Yet the next day, I was emailing and talking to him. This carried on for many months. Then one Sunday, it all changed.

I was hanging out with a friend one Sunday after church. I was suffering from this relationship emotionally and physically. It was taking a toll on me. She noticed that I was distraught. The Holy Spirit prompted her to keep pursuing a conversation with me about it.

I drew in a big breath and confessed to what I was doing it. I bawled my eyes out, condemning myself and asking why would I let this happen. She listen to me and said the relationship ends today. We prayed and she would hold me accountable.

God gave me the strength to stop and end it. I told him to never contact me again and he actually did. He had too much to lose, so I think that is why he did. I spent the next 5 years of my life afterward, still living in guilt and condemnation. I wanted to be free and receive my forgiveness wholeheartedly. But I felt if I did, I would be condoning it. I felt I didn’t deserve to be happy.

The enemy still uses our past to slap us in the face and remind us how much we have sinned. I know the Lord forgave me the first time I asked and each time after that. But I just felt this torment, that I still deserved punishment. When I met my future husband, I knew I was going to marry him. I told him what I did because I felt I had to. He was so loving and understanding about it. God used him to show me what a true and pure love should be like.

This time in my life reminds me to continually pray for protection against temptation. This situation has given me mercy and grace over those who have made serious mistakes. I can see past the initial sin and look deeper to why they may have done something bad.

I felt genuine remorse and wish I could go back in time and stop it from happening. But I cannot. I am blessed by His love that He forgave me and restored my heart. If you find that you are in a situation that is causing you to sin, stop and get help. Live a life of purity and truth.  On this Valentine’s Day remember that you are valuable and lovable.

Lesson Learned: God wants us to not be a slave to our sinful nature. He wants us to be victorious and been in healthy, stable relationships.

Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for carrying me out of mistakes I have made. Thank you for giving me the strength to end mistakes before more damage is done. Please guard my eyes from being deceived by the enemy. Show me my worth and value. Give me discernment and conviction when I am doing sinful things. Thank you for restoring those deep hurts and filling them with your love. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Let’s Stop Beating Ourselves Up

“Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by hand.” Proverbs 37:24

In life there are past situations that we mull over and wonder, “what were we thinking?” We ruminate and examine other outcomes. These thoughts negatively change the way we view ourselves. For some reason, we will rehash these thoughts even though it can’t help what has already passed.

A friend of mine told a group of us about a mistake he made. I could feel the pain and shame he felt from it. However, it was easily fixable and something that would not cause a lifetime of pain. He just felt it was one of those mistakes that could have been avoided. We have all been there.

His story reminded me of a car accident I had about 10 years ago. I was in a parking lot where there was a Costco and PetsMart. Costco was not open yet, so the parking lot was virtually empty. I parked on an end spot which was next to a cart return.

After I got my items at the pet supply store, I got in the car and drove forward since no one was parked in front of me. Then there was this sound that occurred that I will never forget. I did not realize how close I was to the cart return and I scraped the entire length of my truck. There was a man standing watching me do this to my truck. His has a pained look on his face. As I got out of the truck, he said, “I don’t think you want to see the damage.”

I took my car to the auto body shop to get an estimate. The adjuster asked me what happened. I started to tell him and began crying. He walked over and saw it and went , “oooooh!” The expression on his face described exactly how I felt. I kept telling him, how stupid I felt. He said, “this is the first time I have heard or seen this and it won’t be the last. Please forgive yourself. It is okay, we will fix it.”

It took me awhile to forgive myself but I ultimately did. I realized we all have had a “facepalm” moment. Mulling over them shakes our confidence and causes us to be doubtful about our abilities. As embarrassing and annoying as these mistakes are, it should not define us.

Lessons Learned: Facepalm moments are inevitable. Learn from those mistakes and try not to mull over them. And avoid parking next to the cart return.

Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, let us learn from our mistakes and not rehash them. Forgive us and heal us from our shame. Let us be able to laugh it off. May our identity be in Christ instead of by our mistakes. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

 

When People Disappoint

“He heals the broken in heart and binds their wounds.” Psalms 147:3

My child has just started 4th grade.  She loves her teacher and seems to desire to do well in school.  Unfortunately, she is having trouble socially.  She has been coming home sad that she lost a friendship.  It is hard to watch.

As a parent, all I want to do is fix the problem for her.  I want to make the hurting she is feeling, to stop.  Yet, deep down I know, this something we all go through in our lives.  These situations build character.

I may be hurt by this more than she. It stirs up a lot of old wounds where I was rejected by friends growing up.  I have done everything within my parental power to try to fix this situation, but nothing has helped.  

Then I came across this photo on Facebook and it came at the right time.  This photo is a great lesson for letting go.

 

        

There are seasons in life, where we  just have to let people or things go.  This can be friendships, relationships with family, a spouse or a significant other, commitments at work or school.  My daughter may have to let this relationship go.  I have to let go of trying to control that I think I have and let my daughter experience life as it is, hurtful and messy.   So, the only option maybe to walk away when we have tried our best to save it.  As difficult as it maybe, life isn’t fair.

We learn we have to cleave to God, when people disappoint us.  Otherwise, our situations or circumstances will continue to drag us down.  We pray for healing of our wounds and restoration in our life.  God never wastes any pain we experience.  God has something or someone better for us in the future.  

America has been going through some tough times.  This country is divided politically on many issues.  Both sides are relentless in their pursuit of trying to prove each other wrong.  It has been bad for the last couple of years and even uglier in the past month.  People are disappointing one another in record levels.  

Recently, North America (as well as other places in the world) have been encountering many natural disasters: hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, and major earthquakes.  In the wake of these natural disasters, we have been seeing strangers being kind to one another and people helping out in anyway they can.  They are giving food, water and shelter to those in need.  Many are putting their lives in danger to rescue others.  The human spirit is alive again.  

Seeing this example of love gives me hope that love truly conquers all.  We can still love someone or something after you have let them go.   And letting go of that someone or something, shows you love yourself.  Let’s learn to love ourselves enough to not be hurt or disappointed, is one of the greatest gifts.

Lesson Learned:  When people disappoint, let go and let God.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for putting my hope in people or circumstances.  Help me to forgive those who have treated me or my family bad.  Let anger, turn to love.  Show me compassion for myself to let go and move on.  Give me discernment when to let things go and when to fight for them.  Help me to remember the season of letting go is short and that you will bring forth a beautiful Spring.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Reset to Zero

“See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”  Isaiah 43:19

 

A fresh start…this should seem and feel wonderful but it is scary.  For newborn babies, we relish at this beautiful start to a new life.  As adults, we feel good with doses of shame and fear.  The thought of starting over is a huge deal, but necessary for one’s life to get better.

 

A friend of mine was talking about the sale of her husband’s condominium.  He had that before they were married.  They currently rent a place closer to the school our kids attend.  She was hoping they could buy instead of rent, with the money they make from the sale of the old condominium.  But before, my friend and her husband were married, someone took advantage of his business and he lost it when the economy went bad.  He has been paying for it ever since.

 

The condominium just sold and any equity from the property would be going to pay off the loans and all the realtor fees.  There is nothing left over for them to put towards a new home.  Obviously, they were both sad about the news.  I said, “I understand that disappointment, but you have reset to zero.  You have no debt any more and he has a great job with benefits now.  Things will turn around from here.”  She agreed.  She said, “as scary as it is to start over now, we are in better shape than lots of people with so much debt.  We will be smart about every decision.”  That is a relief.

 

Today is Easter Sunday.  This is a perfect time, for those who do not know the majesty of our Lord Jesus Christ to have a chance to reset their lives. How great it would be to experience the Risen King and start their lives all over again by knowing the Lord.  Even knowing the Lord for over 30 years, I have had to reset my life over.  The Lord wants us to be forgiven and have a relationship with him.

 

May you encounter God’s love, forgiveness and presence.
Lesson Learned:  The best day is when Jesus gave me the chance to reset and start my relationship with Him.

Social Distortion

“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33

 

Social Media is a slippery slope.  Many people put things out there to share with their real and social media friends and their families.  Usually it is when they look their best or if something good happens to them.  Studies have shown how it triggers anxiety or sadness to those who constantly see it in their feeds.  The nickname, Fakebook, for Facebook is all too true.  

 

I was on Instagram and a lovely woman posted a picture and wrote about her husband.  She talked about how he is a mighty man of God and how blessed she is to have him be the leader of her family.  I imagined that he gathered his wife and kids and led a prayer everyday.  They probably studied The Bible together and had one devotional as a couple and one with their children.    I felt this twinge of disappointment. My husband goes to church and that’s about it.  But I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Pray for him to be what God would want him to be.  Not what this husband is for his family.”

My mind flooded with things that my husband has done that are awesome.  Here are some good that have occurred in our almost 15 years of marriage:

  • I have seen the toilet seat up 2 times
  • doesn’t play video games or have any social media accounts
  • doesn’t buy the newest gadgets or gamble on fantasy football leagues
  • works hard as a public school math teacher and has missed work 5 days in 18 years
  • takes our daughter on “daddy-daughter” dates every week since she was 4 years old, she is 9 now
  • tells me he loves me and our daughter everyday

I realized, I have it really good.

The fact is the enemy uses social media to create discontent and depression.  I have put myself on social media restrictions because of this very thing.  The moment I begin to feel disappointment, I shut it off.  God wants us to be thankful in all things, not depressed.

Honestly, I am glad that the lady I mentioned on Instagram has a wonderful man of God for a husband.  There needs to be more men like him and my husband in this world.

Lesson Learned:  I know what is true and it isn’t on social media.

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father,  remove discontent from my life.  Show me daily your goodness.  Reveal the distractions that the enemy puts before me.  Give me the strength to not give into disappointment, real or manifested by social media. In Jesus’ Name.  AMEN!”

It is never too late

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Acts 2:21

I love being in church when there is an altar call. When I hear the pastor acknowledge a person accepting Christ, I am filled with joy. Another soul saved. Most times leading a person to Christ is never that easy. We ask people if they have been saved and it becomes an argument about religion and hypocrisy.

My grandpa was an agnostic. He came to America from escaping Germany at age 4 during the World War I and ultimately settled in California. The only time he seemed to have any sort of religion in his life was because of his wife, my grandma. He went along with the Jewish religion because of her roots, but never committed to anything. When his son (who is my father) became a Christian, my grandfather was skeptical. We would invite him to church and he would go, but mainly to have lunch with us afterwards. I remember him questioning everything he heard in the sermon. This happened over the next 15 years.

My grandpa said he wanted to live forever. He was healthy, both body and mind. He took care of himself by eating right and exercising every day. He could out walk anybody. However, Grandpa seemed scared to die because he was unsure of his eternity. My dad would ask him every once in a while if he wanted to accept Jesus into his heart but he would say no. When my grandpa turned 92, he was diagnosed with bone cancer. He didn’t want to eat and stopped exercising. I remember, he called our home crying because he was so scared of how he was feeling. We took him to the hospital and it was decided he needed round the clock care.

My dad went to visit him often. The facility was telling my dad, the end was coming soon for his dad’s life. My dad took the opportunity to talk to him about giving his life to Christ. He told my grandpa, “You have lived a full life. But you can make it complete and give your heart to the Lord.” My grandpa finally said yes to Jesus! He was 93 years old. He died a few days later.

It is truly never to late. But we cannot take up the burden if our friends or family members do not accept Christ. It is the Holy Spirit that changes the hearts of people. We need to continue the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21). We be the example, the hands and feet of Jesus. We live our lives so others see Christ.

Please do not be discouraged when people we love, live their lives in the world. Keep planting seeds and love them continually. You just never know when or how someone will give their life to Christ. But celebrate and praise the Lord, when they do!

Lesson Learned: Keep planting the love of God into others and await the change of the heart, no matter how little or long it takes.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for every soul that isn’t saved. Show me who needs to experience God’s love and forgiveness. Help me give encouragement and continue the ministry of reconciliation. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

No longer a doormat for Passive Aggressive Behavior

His talk is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart: his words are more than oil, yet they are drawn swords.” Psalm 55:12

When God is working on something in your life, that subject seems to show up everywhere. I have been dealing with the subject of passive aggression. In this recent time: I have had it happen to me, I have done it to someone and close people have been mentioning they have been dealing with difficult people. I came across this website called “Out of the Fog” (www.outofthefog.net) and it clearly labels what Passive Aggression looks like.

Withdrawal of material support, contribution to shared goals, Re-prioritizing alternate activities and goals, “go-slow’s”, procrastination or targeted incompetence.

Silent Treatment– inappropriate “one-word” answers, inattention, making yourself generally “unavailable”.

Off-line Criticism propagating gossip or criticism to a third party in an attempt to negatively influence the third party’s opinion of a person.

Sarcasm, Critical and “Off-Color” Jokes Humor which targets a specific individual is a form of Passive-Aggressive communication.

Indirect Violence– shows-of-strength such as destruction of property, slamming doors, cruelty to animals in the sight of another is passive-aggressive.

Do know anyone like that? Their tone. Their words that tear you down. Their selfishness and being inconsiderate of you and others. It is difficult to deal with people who are passive aggressive. It makes conversations and being able to co-exist with them, almost unbearable.

My friend and I are involved in a group where we are in charge of a few school aged children. All of the parents are delightful, except for this one parent. (There is always one, right?) She can be nice to your face but then turn around and become your worst enemy. She refused to follow the implemented rules of any activity we had. If she missed a deadline to turn in something, she would get mad at us for her irresponsibility and procrastination and still want her child to be included. When we didn’t allow it, she said we were singling out her child. It got to the point where my friend and I wanted to quit because of her.

We tried to have a higher authority of the program step in, but they refrained because they didn’t want to punish the child for their parent’s behavior. We agreed with that sentiment, but didn’t like the abuse we were getting. We turned the other cheek, so many times. We only have 4 cheeks between the two of us (8 total cheeks, if you count our backsides) and at some point, we felt like we would explode or implode. Honestly, I would rather clean a gas station bathroom than confront her. I knew in my heart what we would have to do, confront her when she acted out again.

Many times, in my walk with the Lord, I feel like I had to give grace and overlook bad manners. I would also allow people to treat me badly and not say a word because I didn’t want confrontation. I am not sure where I learned that lie. I know now, that being a Christian does not make me a doormat. Jesus confronted the Pharisees for being legalistic. So, really I should not have a problem telling someone not to talk to me in a rude way. Nowadays, the problem is everyone goes for the jugular when they confront someone. It doesn’t have to be that way. Praying for the right words to say and the right time to say them is the best way to start. Sometimes, it works out and other times it does not. I know when I have been calm and said to a person not to talk to me in that tone, that behavior towards me stopped. Many times people are focused on what they are lacking instead of the issue at hand. Whatever happens, God can redeem any situation and turn it out for something better.

Lesson Learned: Allow the words from the Lord be my guide when dealing with difficult people and to not let passive aggressive behavior creep into my life as it will only create more hurt.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, help me give forgiveness towards those who are disrespectful towards me. Show me when people are rude and trying to take advantage of me. Give me the best words to get my point across. Let peace be the end result. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN!”