Saturday, November 23, 2013

Tempted to Speak

Tempted to speak, I know

All she’s done that hurts.

All I forgave and let go.

Tempted to speak, I plan

A list of her wrongs,

A list to understand.

Tempted to speak, I stutter.

Nothing I can say,

Nothing makes it better.

Tempted to speak, I stop.
Seems all I might say,

Seems revenge be the plot .

Tempted to speak, I pray:
Help me not recall,
Help me forgive this day.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Biting Back

His words hurt. 

I bite back. Hard.
He is wrong. By comparison, I am right–aren’t I?

He is deaf to my words. Nothing more to say.

Another day dawns and I hear the echo of his complaint: Condescending.  The accusation: Superior.

Yeah, but... 
“You agree then that you were wrong?”

Yeah, but he…

“Since you were wrong, do you need to ask forgiveness?”
What about him? He should apologize. 

“If you are offended, do you need to forgive?”
Well, yes. His words did hurt. Okay, Lord. I do choose to forgive. I would like his words to be kind and respectful. Oh
I was not. Not kind. Not respectful.
Dear God, please forgive me for not treating him with respect. Help me always to be kind.  Help me never to judge.  
Later I ask, “Please forgive me. I was wrong.”
Matter of fact, he explains. 
I understand a little more. 
Not in agreement.   
But not as far apart as feared. 
I smile. Restored.

Our 'we" lives to talk again.

Have you ever been provoked and lost control?  Were you able to mend fences afterward?  I would love to hear your story in the comments below.


Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Who Can You Trust - To Not Lose It?

When someone offends me, my husband is the first person to hear about it.  If you cut me off in traffic—he will know!

Image courtesy of sattva at

But there are a few things I have learned not to share. As a husband, he has an assignment from God to be my protector. This makes it hard for him to forgive someone who has hurt me. 

Sometimes it is just kinder to not give your loved one the opportunity to become offended.

In Genesis, Joseph shows incredible mercy when he shields his father from the knowledge that his brothers sold him into slavery. (Gen 37-50)  Can you imagine Jacob’s response? Their family would have been torn asunder right when they were being reunited.  Joseph chose to save his father from the anger and grief of his brothers’ betrayal.

As a newlywed, my mother advised me not to tell her when I was upset with my young husband. “I don’t want to be upset with him whenever he is less than perfect.” She knew she would be angry far longer than I would be. 

Likewise, when a family member does something to upset me, the last thing I want is my issue to become a wedge in my husband’s relationship with them. I want to protect him from becoming offended.  

It is healthy to talk things out with a trusted friend when we need help processing the pain. I just don’t want to share it with someone who will now be angry on my behalf.  I need to find someone who will be able to hear it without becoming offended. 

While we are called to share one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2), we are also called to be wise about who we share them with. Forgiveness is never easy and I don’t want to be responsible for bringing a new forgiveness issue into anyone’s life.    

~~ How do you decide who to share your burdens with?  I would love to hear in the comments below.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


When I lost a job, a godly friend reminded me to say nothing negative about my previous employer. I knew it would only be seen as “sour grapes,” so I listened to her words of wisdom and said only good things—in public. In private, I vented to my family members—people I trusted to keep a confidence.

Sharing the offense seemed an appropriate way to lighten my load and help me process the job loss. But then I stumbled upon Joseph’s example of forgiveness and came to question whether he ever shared his loss. If you remember, Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers and did not see his family again for 20 years (Gen 37-50).

Photo Courtesy of dan
The Bible gives no hint that Joseph shared their betrayal with anyone, not even his father. When he sent his brothers to get his father, he told them what to say and specifically did not mention their role in his changed circumstances (Gen 45:9-12).

After Jacob’s death, the brothers did send a message saying their father wanted Joseph to forgive them. But in Genesis we have a lot of detail about Jacob’s preparations for his impending death. He had plenty of time to ask Joseph to forgive his brothers. He did not ask because he did not know they needed it. Joseph never told him.

Imagine how easy it would be to justify telling your father: Dad, I heard them plotting to kill me. Instead they sold me into slavery and told you I was dead.

You can imagine Jacob’s wrath if he had known the truth. You can also imagine his broken heart—knowing his sons could do such a thing to their own brother.

So Joseph chose to save Jacob from the pain of being offended on his behalf.

We can take from Joseph’s example that we are to refrain from telling everyone in our world about those who offend us. When I find myself needing to share hurtful events multiple times, it may signal my wound has more layers that need uncovered and forgiven. Or, I may simply need to recommit myself to the choice to forgive. Either way, I need to act quickly before I fall back into judgment and unforgiveness.

Some burdens are so painful it takes the support of a pastor or a professional counselor to bring healing: A parent’s abandonment, the death of a child, broken wedding vows, to name a few.

It would appear Joseph relied on God to be his only counselor. I pray I will be able to follow his example in the future. If I take my burdens to God first, hopefully I can at least limit the number of times I need to share my burden. Being the Wonderful Counselor, he is sure to bring peace.

~~ I would love to hear how you “lighten your load.” Do you have someone you can trust to share your burdens? I hope you will share in the comments below.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Epic Revenge

In Genesis, Joseph is presented with the perfect opportunity for revenge.
Twenty years after his brothers sold him into slavery, they came to Egypt to buy grain during the famine. (Gen 42)  As the acting government of Egypt, Joseph could have ordered their deaths the moment he saw them, with no questions asked.  Some people say death is too easy.  Torture might fit the bill.  Or perhaps an eye for an eye:  13 years of slavery for each. 
Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman
But what does Joseph do?  He doesn’t even tell them who he is.  After twenty years, they don’t recognize him.  First he requires that they bring his baby brother, Benjamin, to Egypt. Then he tests them to see if they will allow Benjamin to become his slave.  But once they pass the test, he does the most amazing thing.  
He tells them who he is and of course they are scared to death.  Afterall, Joseph was an eyewitness to their plot to kill him all those years ago.  But rather than accuse, he immediately reassures them saying, “Don’t be angry with yourselves for what you did…It was not your fault that I was sent here. It was God’s plan.” (Gen 45: 5-8)
Talk about letting them off the hook—God did it, not you!
If he had killed them, who would have blamed him? If he had thrown them into prison so that his father came looking for them, any torture would have been justified, even in his father’s eyes.
But no, Joseph did for his brothers what Jesus did for all of us.  Joseph forgave his brothers long before they arrived at his doorstep.  If not, he would have planned the most epic revenge imaginable.
I long to be as good at forgiving as Joseph: To no longer hold anyone accountable.  To trust that it all passes through God’s hands before it can arrive at my doorstep. 

God needed Joseph to go to Egypt to save the Jewish nation.  Who is to say that any offense is not part of God’s plan to move any one of us to our own Egypt?
Our Egypt may not be a location—it may be a new depth of character or a deeper spiritual connection with our maker. 
God’s word tells me He has a plan for my life. (Jer 29:11)  If his plan is for a new Egypt, I want to be ready to pack my bags.  Egypt may be calling!
Has God ever used an offense to move you to a new Egypt?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Preserving Sin

“We preserve the sins of other people when we pick up an offense and harbor resentment.”

To Preserve:  to keep alive or in existence; make lasting;
to maintain; to keep possession of; to retain; to prepare
so as to resist decomposition.
I read this today in John Bevere’s excellent book, “The Bait of Satan”.  I picture a jar of preserves sitting on a shelf.  But instead of fresh peach preserves, the container holds the offense I have yet to forgive. I “preserve” it, so I can take it out and look it over anytime I want.  I turn it over in my hand and once again I accuse my offender as I re-examine its contents.

Photo by Artur84
Perhaps I go so far as to place it on the dining room table where I will see it every day.  The dance of sunlight reflects off the multifaceted surface and like the tongue seeking a sore tooth, I prod the many layers of my offense.  “Do they know how much they hurt me?” and “What were they thinking?” or “Why didn't they...”
Some jars I have stored away in the cupboard—preserved for close examination whenever the need may arise.  I don’t think of it or go looking for it until something reminds me of what happened. There it sits, waiting to stir things up in my heart again.  The ache arises and I go to the cupboard, take it out and examine it.  Again.  Do I revel in my examination of their sin?  Do I point the finger again and again? Am I judging them just one more time?  On this path, I find myself once again correct…in the right…superior.”

Revel:  to indulge, take pleasure

As long as I can examine the error of their ways, I never have to see my part in the events.  Looking at their sin keeps me blinded to my own.  And I know in every relationship I have made errors, even if my only error is how I respond to the offense.
Yesterday I ran into someone I had not seen in a long time. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Forgiveness: You Don't Give--You Don't Get

From The Bait of Satan (John Bevere)

...the Lord showed him a vision of hell. He saw his wife's mother burning in the flames of hell. He was amazed. She had said the "sinner's prayer," confessed to being a Christian, and had attended church. 

"Why is she in hell?" he asked.

The Lord told him that she had refused to forgive a relative and therefore could not be forgiven.

Matthew 6:
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Prayer:  In Jesus name, I ask your forgiveness for holding unforgiveness against -----. Lord, I know I cannot forgive in my own strength. I have already failed, but before You now I release them from my heart. I forgive -----. Amen.

John explains earlier in this chapter how we seldom mean what we say and don't fully believe what other people tell us. But he cautions us that we need to take God at His word.

What do you think--should we take Jesus at his word? Do you think Jesus had something more to say about forgiveness?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Why We Need To Forgive

Recognize that forgiveness is an act of your will not your emotions. If you wait until you feel like forgiving, you will live with bitterness in your heart and that bitterness will destroy you.

Recognize that forgiveness heals you! Forgiveness is not necessarily for the person who hurt you-it sets you free. You're not submitting to their brutality, condoning their injustice toward you, or white washing the words or deeds of your offender. You are forgiving to bring cleansing to you! Forgive your enemies; it's the only way to liberate your mind and emotions from the toxic poison of that painful memory.

Life Application Bible