Forgiveness When We Don’t Deserve It

God is Love. I guess that is where He is continually leading me lately; teaching me about love. Love is something I fail daily. God helps us with what love is in 1 Corinthians 13.

13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whetherthere are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

A couple of years ago I felt like I was supposed to write a song to this scripture and I began, but it is one of those songs that I just can’t seem to finish. I can’t find an appropriate ending. I still sing it in my room, and every time it truly makes the words come alive. I find myself in tears at my failures to show love. God shows me love and forgiveness and grace and mercy on a daily basis, yet I still get angry, and envious, etc etc. When my husband and I fight, I bring up old things that he has done and I have supposedly given forgiveness for. I wonder how God can forgive me so quickly when all I have to do is ask. Clearly repentance is turning away from that sin, but seriously, He forgives us and doesn’t even remember it. I find myself fuming at times even after I grant forgiveness. I am such a justice personality. I see things as just or unjust. I see the same thing somewhat in my sons and I hope it doesn’t trip them up at times. First I have to trust God because God is a just God. There are so many promises in His word about justice, so why do I feel the need to control everything!? Perhaps that is where the problem lies. I feel out of control. I feel like I have to punish my husband when we fight because I am feeling out of control, or because I don’t think he was ‘punished’ enough. That is not my job. My job is to love and respect my husband. When I don’t, I am being disobedient to God. When God forgives me, it isn’t because I deserve it. I don’t deserve it; none of us do. God forgives us because He loves us and that is who He is. I should forgive my husband perhaps not because he deserves it, but just because I love him and the Love of God that is in me, is now shining through.

I need to remember this daily, probably every hour of every day. It isn’t about what people deserve, it is about the love of God. God loves us not because we deserve it. He loves us because that is who He is. He forgives us not because we deserve it. He forgives us because He loves us and that is who He is. When you really think about love, it is truly amazing!

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Onward I Will Go!

I found out today that I am one year from graduating with a double major. I was pretty excited considering I feel like I have been on this path for so long now. I am graduating sooner than I previously thought and with another major since I have been taking some serious course loads. I am so excited and I feel a renewed sense of strength now that I see an end in sight. I can see the end of one thing and a whole new world of opportunities opening up.

As I pondered this throughout the day, I realized that my spiritual walk can be like this at times. It can feel like this long walk that at some point, will have its rewards, but I must just suffer through it. How sad is that!? I should feel this renewed strength on my daily walk as I delve into the scriptures and pray and worship my King. I should never feel like I am trudging along this bleak path. I felt a little convicted as I thought this through.

Yes, we go through valleys and difficult times, but our life should show His fruits. We should be filled with His love and joy and peace. We should be running this race and not dragging our feet and stumbling every step. God is with us all the way. He said He will never leave us or forsake us. What a promise that is!

The Bible

The bible. What comes to your mind when you see it or think about it? How many people think about rules and laws when they think about the bible? It is true. The bible gives us commandments to follow and laws to learn and prayers to pray. It helps us understand morals and ways to correctly behave. One quality that often gets overlooked is the love that flows like a rushing river. It weaves through each word and paragraph and many times, when you don’t expect it, it takes your breath away.

The bible is a book that I’m not sure I’ll ever completely understand. Admittedly, I struggle through parts of the Old Testament. I know each part is there for a purpose and it teaches us and fills us with more and more understanding of who God is. The New Testament shows me how God actually sent His own Son to Earth through the virgin Mary. Jesus lived and walked among us and went through struggles just like we do. Jesus lived a perfect life. God sacrificed His own Son so that we may live. That is love! It is so easy for a parent to say that they would die for their own child, but would you die for somebody that doesn’t like you, or hates you. Jesus did! He didn’t die for some of us. He died for each and every one of us. It is finished!

As imperfect beings and merely humans, we cannot always see what God sees. We see Job as a man who lost so much. God knew Job’s heart. God knew that Job would never deny Him. We look at this book of Job and see a man who lost everything. Job is a book about God’s love. Yes, Job went through difficult times; we all do. God knew that Job would not falter and Job ended up having a greater life than he did before his trials. God was showing our enemy, Satan, that Job understood that this life was not about him, it was about God. Our life is not about us. Our ministry is not about us. Everything is about God.

The bible is a love story. I don’t even like that word; story. It’s God’s whispers into our inner most being telling us how much He loves us. In the beginning, with Genesis, He loved us. In the end, in judgement and Revelation, He loves us. Our purpose in this life is to show Him how much we love Him. How much time do we spend with Him? How many people do we tell about Him? How do others see you? Do they see frustration, bitterness, envy, pride, hatred, anger, or anything not of God?

When we fill our hearts and lives with His love through our personal relationship with Him and learning to understand Him more through the bible, we are able to speak the way He speaks; with love. Love is not compromising what the world wants us to compromise. I will never believe abortion is right, or that homosexuality is right, or that divorce is okay. The world has tried to turn love into lust and instant gratification. God is love and Proverbs is filled with scriptures that help us live in this world and know which paths to take. Love is not an emotion, but I can feel it. When my husband loves me and meets my needs and desires, I can feel it. When my sons hug me and squeeze me as tight as they can, I can feel their love. Just because I cannot physically feel God’s arms around me, does not mean that I can’t indescribably feel His Spirit inside me filling my heart with His love.

His love and mercy and grace are all around us. If you want to feel His presence, all you have to do is ask. Ask Him into your heart and begin to feel His love. He loves YOU!

Romans 10:9 NKJV

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

‘Til Death

I love being married. It can be very difficult, yet very rewarding. My husband and I are opposite in so many ways it can be a challenge for each of us. One thing we are not opposite in is our belief in marriage. Marriage between one man and one woman; as God intended. We are both saddened by the constant news about divorce and how rampant it is; even in our own families. We believe that divorce is not an option. We hear people talk about how the Bible tells us the reasons that we can get divorced. The Bible talks about how people’s hearts were hardened so they got divorced. The Bible is not a how to get divorced handbook. ‘Til death do us part is a covenant between you, your spouse, and God. To me, ’til death is pretty cut and dried. We are married until death parts us.

I am thankful for God’s grace and mercy. I believe God’s grace covers a multitude of sins, including divorce. He loves us no matter what; no matter how good we are; no matter how bad we are. He loves us…plain and simple. I love my husband; no matter how good he is, no matter how bad he is. I love him. He loves me; no matter how good I am, no matter how bad I am. Love is not an emotion. Love is not that high you get in a new relationship. Love is commitment. God is love. God hates divorce. Divorce is selfish. I know these are probably not popular words, but as Christians, followers of Christ, we seemed to have merged the path less traveled to the widest path available. We make excuses why we should be allowed to divorce our spouse. Some of these excuses are completely legitimate….as to why we should get into counseling.

People don’t just fall out of love with each other. They make choices to stop loving and remaining committed to each other. Instead of finding excuses where you can get a divorce, find excuses on why you should stay committed to each other. Start with your vows. Those are powerful words; in sickness and health, rich or poor, ’til death do us part…etc etc. Instead of naming all the reasons why your spouse is wrong or finding all their faults, start with yourself. Be honest with yourself and name your own faults. Find ways to work on yourself and go before the throne of God and find a way to begin again. Give yourself to your spouse and make your marriage about them, and not yourself. Marriage is a gift. Don’t squander it.

Leading Worship

I have many loves in my life, but one of my great passions is worship. I love to worship and to lead worship. I’m not talking about singing a couple of songs and being done. I am talking about singing and playing a worship song that I am passionate about and using that passion as a launching pad to take His people into the inner courts of heaven. You see, when the veil was torn in two in the New Testament, that means that we can boldly come before the throne of God. He wants us to have a deep and personal relationship and experience with Him.

Too many people see God as this far off being that is angry all the time and punishes people all the time. While God is a just God, He is the very definition of Love. God is Love and when we show love to others, we show them who God really is. When I worship, I begin to move away from my wants and desires and move into a place where it is all about God and nothing about me. When we worship God, we are giving Him what He is due; like tithing and following His commandments. All these things are showing worship to God, but in this moment, I am talking about that moment that you are worshiping Him with everything that you have, and you cross into His inner courts and it is just you and Yahweh. He is everything you need and you are all that He wants. He is jealous for us; for our attention.

When you lead a church into worship, I don’t believe it is a simple 3 praise songs and 2 worship songs, then the end. It’s about taking God’s people to a place where they can worship God like never before. There are so many times in worship, even when it is just me at my keyboard in my own room, that God reveals even more of Himself to me and I get so emotional. There is nothing wrong with becoming emotional when you are in the presence of God as long as your emotion isn’t taking the focus off of God and placing in on you. I can’t help but want to praise and worship a God who loves me as much as Jesus does. I don’t think we can even fathom what His love truly is until we are in that place of truly worshiping Him. His love is exquisite, perfect, magnificent, and overwhelming.

As a worship leader, you can’t just move immediately into deeper worship; at least in most cases. There are times where the people of God are more than ready to truly worship Him. There have been times where I just want to jump right into the river of God and flow right into His throne room and lay at His feet and worship Him, but as a worship leader, I get the opportunity to bring as many people as I can into His presence. I truly do not want anybody left behind. Sadly, it seems there are too often those that cannot take their focus off themselves long enough to follow, but there are so many who are able.

While I am no Kim Walker-Smith, Jenn Johnson, or Darlene Zschech, I am who God made me to be and I believe that we are to use what God gives us. I love to worship and I have gotten so many confirming prophetic words about leading worship and singing songs of heaven, that I know I am on track. I know that I know that this is what I am called to do. I have been a worship leader before for several years. I know that one day, in God’s perfect timing, that He will raise me up to lead worship once again. Until He does, I am called to lead worship in my own life and my home. That is always our first ministry. I will obediently worship Him as I am called to do, whether in my bedroom alone, or in a church, or on a stage in a whole new setting.

No Fear

When each of my sons was just a newborn baby, before we even left the hospital, I prayed a prayer over each of them. I prayed that God would help me give them back to Him. I prayed that He would help me understand that even though He gave them to me, I have to let them grow up and do what they are called to do. My boys are young enough that what they want to do when they grow up has changed pretty consistently over the years. My boys pray over different countries every night that God puts on their hearts. Some of those countries are scary and dangerous places. My motherly instinct is to say scream, “no! No you will not think of that country and you will definitely not be going over there.” I have to remember that my sons are here to bring glory to God in whatever they do. They may grow up and get an office job. They may be missionaries. They could even live in other countries in dangerous areas where they feel called to spread His word.

I love my boys so much I can’t even believe it. I never thought I could ever have this much love in my heart for my husband and my five sons. I can see how parents want to protect their children even beyond their childhood into their adulthood, but that is not what is supposed to happen. God called us to raise our children to become independent of us; to understand right and wrong; to fulfill the call of God on their lives. My boys have seen us just three and a half years ago sell everything we owned to move across the country because we felt that was what God wanted us to do. It wasn’t easy. It was hard to sell my beautiful things I had accumulated over the years. It was hard to hear the negativity from family members and the harsh words. It was hard to see the disappointment in my sons’ eyes when we told them we were selling everything and moving because we knew God wanted us to. It can be difficult, but they saw for themselves how God works. They have seen for themselves how our life is not our own. They have seen the tears and excitement as well as the anger from parents and other friends and family. One day, this may be them. They may feel called to move across the country, or even to a completely different country for that matter.

It is not unloving to let your children go. It is not unloving to let your parents go. So many parents don’t ever want to let their children go into this big scary world. We live in fear of the unknown; in the fear of failure. We have taught our children that fear is bigger than God, rather than God is so much bigger than our fears. Too many of our children are afraid to leave the nest and we are too afraid to push them over the side and let them learn to fly on their own.

I will always remember those prayers over each of my boys in the hospital. I have to remember them because one day I will want to not let them go and God will gently remind me of those prayers. I will always be their Mama and will always be there to help counsel them when they need it. They know that. They also know that God has plans for each one of them and one day in the future, they will work on fulfilling their callings.

Parents, don’t let fear hold your children back, or yourself for that matter. Children, don’t let your parents fear hold you back. Don’t let your own fear hold you back because our God is greater than any fear in this world. He loves us!

Humble Yourself

2 Chronicles 7:14
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

1 Peter 5:6
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

I can be honest. Sometimes I struggle with humility. My personality demands justice and justice now. Sometimes I think God’s timing just isn’t fast enough. The opposite of humility is pride. I am being proud when I think my justice should be God’s justice. I could fill up this whole posting with so many scriptures on humility and God’s timing and God’s justice because is it so important. God doesn’t want or need us running around and enforcing our own forms of justice. Oftentimes we use manipulation as a tool to get justice. If one of my sons doesn’t think one of his brothers was punished enough, he often does his own form of punishment, or tries to manipulate me into adding more punishment. We see it in our children and we don’t tolerate it. Why should we tolerate it in ourselves as adults? We try to teach our children humility, yet we put ourselves above those standards.

If somebody hurts us, not only do we want them punished, we want everybody around us to know how they hurt us. Why do we spread discord among brothers? I think we all have that super close friend that we can talk to and they can talk to us where everything is private and we trust each other. That is not what I am talking about. How many times have we talked about a loved one negatively in order to manipulate or punish them, and when things finally get dealt with, we find ourselves wondering why our friends and family have ill will toward that loved one? We are sowing seeds of discord. We are gossiping. We are being proud and not humble.

When we lower ourselves, God raises us up. I know I would rather God raise me up than man. I would rather keep my mouth shut and learn to hold my tongue than to offend my King. Lord help me and all of us to learn what humility truly is. Help me learn that love and humility go together. Help me to learn that God is a just God and there is absolutely nothing He does not see. There is nothing He cannot change, fix, repair or correct. He loves us so much that He actually wants justice for those who have hurt us. Help me allow God to be my everything. God doesn’t need me, but I need Him!! Thank you Lord that Your mercies are new every morning!!

He Says This, She Hears That…

I have been with my husband for 17 years and even after 17 years, I still have trouble hearing what he is saying. He has trouble hearing what I am saying. God made us so unique that we even communicate differently. He may come home after work one day and say something about how disorganized and messy it is by my front door. What I hear is what in the world do I do at home all day with the kids? Why couldn’t I get off my butt and clean up by the front door? How lazy am I?! He said, pretty much what he said. It was a statement. My school age boys came home from school that day and threw all their stuff into such a mess that my husband, who really doesn’t notice many things, actually noticed.

So automatically, I become defensive and let him know how hard I work all day and that he has the luxury of actually completing his work outside the home without a two year old destructinator walking behind with his massive little arms of destruction. [At least in my mind!] I get upset because that sentence he spoke when he walked into the door sounded like literal fighting words. You want to fight and compare jobs!? You get paid with money and compliments while I get paid with grey hair, no daily showers, and stained clothes that don’t fit in any sort of appealing manner any more. At this point, my husband is clueless to what I am so upset about, but if I want a fight, he will not roll over and take it.

This is a terrible cycle unless both a husband and wife can understand that we are not communicating the same way. Instead of assuming that my husband has turned into a mean-spirited, thankless, no good…..you catch my drift, I can believe that he is the wonderful man that I married who was possibly not intending to hurt my feelings. He never intended to hurt me or make me feel worthless. He was actually taking note that our sons had disrespected their Mother by coming in and making a huge mess where I had kept things previously neat and tidy. He was being a loving husband and Father.

Next time your spouse says something that makes you immediately put your boxing gloves on, take a moment and remember what kind of a man or woman you married. They love you just as much as you love them and perhaps you didn’t hear what their words were trying to say.

Now excuse me while I go look for that box of hair color……

Thank You God for All the Difficult Times

Let me first say this, “What kind of a person would you be if you never even once had a difficult day?” I can’t imagine what a self-indulgent, arrogant, entitled, terrible, rude, etc etc… You get my point. Going through difficulties actually make us better people. How many times have you seen a young child throwing a terrible temper tantrum because they aren’t getting their way. Sometimes the parent gives in, and sometimes they don’t. The bible tells us to spare the rod, spoils the child. We are to discipline those we love. As children of God, He disciplines us because He loves us. We are here to worship Him and to spread His love across the world.

Each difficulty I face draws me ever so nearer to my Lord. Being in His presence is like nothing else in this world. One of my desires is to praise God in the good times as well as the bad. Even if your difficulty is so great that you don’t know how you can make it through the day, remember that God is always with you. Take a few minutes to thank Him for what is coming after the valley. Your faith will be greater. Your love will be greater. The fruits of His Spirit will be more evident in your life than ever before.

So God, I thank you for loving me enough to discipline me. Thank you for helping me to become a stronger, more loving woman who desires to be in Your presence throughout all the good times and bad. Thank you for never giving up on me on those difficult days when I cry and scream and throw my own temper tantrums. Even still, You held me in Your arms and have never let me go because of Your great love for me.

Thank You for the, Uh, Joy?

Life is tough as a Christian. I am not going to lie, but where is the joy that should be in a Christian’s life? How many times do we talk with our friends or loved ones and hear them say, “Oh I am happy to be alive”? What!?!?!?!?! Life with Jesus is so joyful that you are happy to be alive; to be breathing?! So if the joy of the Lord gives us strength…..is that why so many Christians are weak today?

Don’t get me wrong, we all have those days where either somebody has done something so incredibly hurtful to us that even getting out of bed hurts; or we are having to pay the consequences of making a stupid decision. These are times when we learn from our mistakes, pick ourselves up, and move on. Our lives are supposed to be examples of being Christ-like. How many people look at how Christians are living, or acting, and want that life?

God gave us this life to enjoy it, not to just suffer through it until we reach the great beyond. I want people to look at me at any time during my day and see that unexplained joy and peace on my face. I don’t want people to see me suffering through life, barely getting by. I want the fruits of His Spirit to be so evident in my life that people want to turn to the Love of Jesus because of it. Find things that make you happy. Help others. Love on other people. Show people what God’s love is all about. Don’t make the choice to suffer through life. Enjoy it. Embrace it. Love it!