Archives for category: Forgiveness

2016-09-01 13.30.22 Pains of life circumference by our ball-clenched fists.

Who’d have thought it’d come to this:

Tales of broken hearts, disappointments and unchecked lists.

But to end it there, I’d be remiss to explain the travesty caused by a ball-clenched fist.

So many of us are straddled by baggage. We don’t always know we have it, but we do. Many of us, in an effort to maintain our daily functionality, bury our hurts in the dark crevices of our hearts. The problem is, just like rain could uproot skeletons buried beneath the Earth’s surface, our tears often reveal our misplaced pain. Many of our buried hurts are sharp, unbeveled deposits just below the surface. They cut and bruise. The friction of some of our deepest hurts have caused calluses in once tender places.   Many of the composite effects of our pain is dear.  The tighter we clutch, the deeper our scars.  During our day-to-day activities, we might not even realize that our grip is so firm until we finally decide to let it go. Only once we have let go the shattered pieces of our lives can we truly begin to heal and experience a freedom that we have not yet experienced….

 

With hope renewed like the dew of a morning mist,

The forces of pain we did resist,

To release these shards of glass from our ball-clenched fist.

 

Have you every prayed really hard for something only to get it and think, “God, get me out of this thing as soon as possible.  This is not what I signed up for?”  I’m sure we have all been there.  The lessons we learn in these cases are:  Things aren’t always what they seem and usually require more effort than we realize.

 

During these past few years, one of the Bible verses that most heavily rests on my heart is “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it,” (Numbers 23:19, ESV)?  How many of us when praying for a miracle simple pray for said miracle without any accompanying manifestations?  Seldom.  We dream about our miracles.  We fantasize about them.  Our prayers are often layered petitions.  We dream of owning a home so that we could share it with our loved ones.  We dream of getting an education so that we could impact a generation.  Many of our prayers are gateway requests.  Imagine what could happen if we cut God off at the path when we ask Him to revoke our granted prayers.  We could potentially block other blessings associated with our initial prayer. Could it be that the reason that God does not readily rescind on what we might perceive as misguided prayer requests is, not because of punishment, but, out of a desire to bless us?

 

In Genesis 32:22-28, Jacob is all alone in the camp when and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break.  “When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!’  But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’  ‘What is your name?’ the man asked.  He replied, ‘Jacob.’  ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob,’ the man told him. ‘From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.’”

 

Maybe that very thing that you are trying to escape from is the living God himself.  Let’s break down Genesis 32:22-28.

 

  1. Jacob was all alone when a man came and wrestled with him until dawn began to break.
    1. Jacob was all alone.
      1. God’s greatest works in our lives are usually found in moments of great solitude. Those moments can often be a time of great loneliness.
    2. A man came and wrestled with him.
      1. It would appear that this man sought out Jacob. Jacob did not go looking for this man.  John 15:16 says, “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name,” (NLT).
    3. Jacob wrestled with the man until dawn began to break.
      1. Dawn is the period of day right before the light rises. Even though Jacob was shadowboxing in the dark, daybreak, light, was on the horizons.

 

 

  1. When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket.
    1. The previous verse said a man came and wrestled with Jacob. It did not say who started the fight.  What if the “man” came in peace and only responded to Jacob’s engagement?
    2. Could it be that maybe “the man” tried to plea his case to Jacob, but could win against Jacob’s harden heart?
    3. Jacob was so enraged and defensive that the only way “the man” could get his attention was to throw him off guard by “wrenching” his hip out of its socket.
      1. Are there any areas in our life where we are wrestling with God?
      2. Is there any potential area in our life where God has touched it and wrenched it out of its socket?

 

  1. Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!’
    1. Sometimes we are not always on the same page as God. The Bible says, His ways are not our ways nor his thoughts our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). Jacob could have been interpreting the comment literally.  Maybe he thought God was telling him to release him physically. Maybe when God told Jacob to let Him go he was telling him to stop fighting with Him.  Maybe God was telling Jacob to release the anger that he had towards Him.  Ephesians 4:26 says, “’In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,” (NIV).  Maybe God was telling Jacob to let go of his anger, to forgive, before dawn broke.

 

  1. But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’
    1. Again, it seems as if Jacob might have been referring to a physical restrain. Nonetheless, he had the wherewithal to know that he was in the presence of divinity, and he wasn’t willing to let go of that opportunity to be blessed.  He had fought too hard throughout the night to walk away empty-handed.
      1. If we have been struggling for some time, it would be foolish of us to walk away without our blessings.
      2. Let go of the anger, but do not let go of God.
  • As we let go, we should ask God to bless us before we leave from the place we find ourselves in.
  1. Your name will no longer be Jacob,’ the man told him. ‘From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.’”
    1. Jacob did not give up, and God rewarded Him.
    2. Jacob might not have gotten it right, but he did the best he knew, and God rewarded his faithfulness.
    3. At the end of the battle God gave Jacob a new identity.
      1. We can never go through the trenches with God and come out the same. Matthew 23:12 says, “But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted,” (NLT).

 

Summary of Genesis 32:22-28

  1. God will isolate us so that he can begin a transformation in our life.
  2. Let go of our anger and press into God’s grace.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask God to bless us. Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you,” (NIV).

DECLARATION:

I WON’T LEAVE HERE UNTIL YOU BLESS ME!

2But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;

I had nearly lost my foothold.

3For I envied the arrogant

when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

Psalm 73:2-3

 

During this season, I have experienced some of life’s greatest disappointments and setbacks.  Most recently, I entered a business venture. As part of my due diligence, I implemented all the necessary safeguards to reduce, if not, eliminate my risks.  I read.  I researched.  I hired an attorney. I had a contract drafted.  However, life sometimes teaches us that there are no failsafe plans.  There are no world systems that could entirely mitigate moral corruption.  Although most, if not all, legal agreements are drafted based on the worse case scenarios, most people enter contacts with the assumption that the opposing party has some semblance of integrity, or at the very least, he or she has a fear of or a reverence for the law.  A year and a half after signing my contract agreement, the opposing party involved still managed to express flagrant disregard of the agreement by violating several terms of the contract. This morning, as I evaluated my situation, I thought about the above verse.

 

Oftentimes, it feels as though the lives of the wicked are bountiful.  Many of them cheat, lie and steal, yet they still manage to thrive beyond the imagination of the meek.  It’s easy to look at the proud and the arrogant and be envious.  They leap and abound.  Their lives are grand.  They enjoy fine things, and they seldom seem concerned with the toils of those who are pure at heart.  “They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong…they are not plagued by human ills,” (verse 4 and 5, NIV).  They play by their own rules.  They scoff at honor and valor.  The lives of the wicked seems grand, indeed.  However, there will come a time when the Earth’s grandeur will cease.  Each man will be equal, and God will judge each man according to his deeds.  “God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad,” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).  It’s so easy to want the wicked to pay—to take vengeance into our own hands because it might seem as though God is moving too slow.  However, Romans 12:19 says, “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD,” (NLT).

 

The truth is, waiting on God can seem slow, and, at times, feel torturous.  However, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9, NIV).  In His justice, God has given even the sinners time to change their wicked ways.  Psalms 73 goes on to say that God has placed the wicked on slippery ground.  The wicked will perish if they continue to do wickedness.

 

To those who are longsuffering, I ask that you give your suffering to God.  Leave your vindication in His mighty hands.  God is just, and He judges fairly.  Even King David, whom the Bible refers to as a man after God’s own heart, experienced God’s immense favor despite being reprimanded for his egregious sins. Although David had many shortcomings, God did not forget the promises He made to David.  During earlier times, God decreed that David would not only rule as king over all Israel, God also promised David that he (David) would always have a line to the throne (Jesus).  One of David’s biggest fall from grace was when he had an adulterous affair with Bathsheba, the wife of one of his soldiers named Uriah.  As a result of the affair, Bathsheba became pregnant.  In an effort to cover his tracks David tried to convince Uriah to sleep with his wife, Bathsheba, so that he could pass off the baby as Uriah’s.  Uriah, who was a committed soldier in David’s army, refused to lay with his wife because he did not want to break his allegiance to his fellow fighters by indulging in merriment during battle time.  After David realized that his attempt to cover his tracks had failed, he gave orders to have Uriah killed.  Fortunately, God did not allow David’s position as both king and the “apple of His eyes” to usurp Uriah’s life.  God was not only faithful to David, He was also faithful to Uriah, because the Bible says that God is not a respecter of man (Acts 10:34).  God avenged Uriah’s death by destroying the seed that was created from David’s and Bathsheba’s deception. Thankfully, God did not stay angry with David forever.  He pursued David and blessed him.  Moreover, David repented for sinning against God.

 

In all of our lives, there will be times when we feel forgotten about—by family, by friends, and even by God. Many of us feel like Uriah, a lone soldier in a vast army—a number in the crowd.  The temptation is to give up on God because we feel neglected or betrayed by Him.  However, just like God fought on behalf of Uriah, He will avenge us too.  The Bible says that God will leave the 99 sheep to find the one that has wondered away (Matthew 18:12-14).  It is during our weakest moments that God will seek us out and pursue us.

A few years ago, I created this blog to challenge the way we think–to open our minds. Today the old adage, knowledge is power, is probably truer than ever before. Many of us fear what we do not know.

On Tuesday, I sat in front of my television, as perhaps millions of others, and watched as Charlie Sheen disclosed what was probably his biggest personal obstacle to date: his HIV status. As I watched him, I saw an individual who was the embodiment of the human experience–wonderful, flawed and broken, all at the same time. At times during the interview, he look bewildered, as if he were having an out of body experience–as if it were happening to someone else.

Days before the Matt Lauer interview, I already knew what Charlie Sheen’s disclosure would be. The Internet was already abuzz. The opinions and speculation varied from support to condemnation. As I read through some of the posts, I was reminded of King David. During one of his fallen moments, he declared, “It would be better to fall into the hands of God than to fall into the hands of man.”

God’s grace reminds us that we are ALL wonderful, flawed and broken. In all of our lives, we will experience moments where our actions will take us to dark places from where only God can deliver us. The truth is, only God can judge.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Whether we know it or believe it, we are all called for God’s purpose. He can take our biggest mistakes, failures and shortcomings and use them for His glory. One of the positives that came from Sheen’s disclosure is the open dialogue about HIV and AIDS. There is still so much misinformation and stigma surrounding the disease. As having had the experience as an HIV educator and working with HIV researcher, I understand the value of these teachable moments.

Last year, I wrote and produced, “What is Your Status: An HIV Awareness Story ” to highlight some of the issues that still surround HIV and AIDS.
Please check out the video below:

There are moments in our lives when we will feel as though the walls are closing in around us and that we are surrounded by enemies on all side.  In those moments, it seems like there are more of them than there are of us.  That is when we are called to stand firm on the Word of God and scream the name of Jesus.  Deuteronomy 28:7 says, “The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven,” (NIV).  This morning I speak God’s words into your situation.  I pray that when your enemies comes at you in one direction, they flee in seven.  The Bible is filled with many verses for various situations.  Below are just a few:

Your enemies are attacking you and have surrounded you on all sides.                

“The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven,” (Deuteronomy 28:7, NIV).

Your faith is being tested and shaken.

“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Show us how to increase our faith,’” (Luke 17:5, NIV).

The foundation of your marriage is being tested.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love, (1John 4:18).

But for those who are married, I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord.A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.  (1Corinthians 7:10-11).

Your relationships are being tested.

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence, (Jeremiah 17:7, NLT).

Your finances are being attacked.

The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it, (Proverbs, 10:22).

The devil is robbing you of your peace.

 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done, (Philippianss 4:6).

Doctors, man, have spoken death and sickness over your life.

O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed; if you save me, I will be truly saved.  My praises are for you alone, (Jeremiah 17:14).

Doctors, man, have given you the news of infertility.

Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant (Genesis 25:21, NIV).

Man has spoken failure over your life.

Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.

When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing, (Psalm 146:3-4).

Man has spoken curses over you and your family.

Listen, I received a command to bless; God has blessed, and I cannot reverse it, (Numbers 23:20, NLT)!

There are definite stand-out moments in our lives that transforms the way we think.  A little over a year ago, I had one of those moments.  It was a Sunday morning.  One of the pastors at my church had decided to relay a story that he had read about on a blog.  The story, he said, was written by a pastor’s wife.  Her blog began by stating that she had a seemingly perfect marriage until she received devastating news that would change her life forever.  Her husband, and pastor of their local church, had confessed to participating in an extramarital affair that resulted in his mistress’ pregnancy.  The blog further went on to describe the range of emotions that the pastor’s wife experienced after receiving the news.  She was angry.  She was hurt. She was humiliated.  Not only did her husband cheat, he had created a life-time reminder of his deception.  In her hurt and fury, she decided that she would separate from him.  During that time, she sought counsel from one of her pastors.  The advice that she received from this pastor was far from what she expected.  In fact, it was so startling that it not only impacted her life, but it also resonated with my soul when I heard this third-hand story. Her pastor said that she had every right to leave and punish her husband.  He went on to say that what her husband did was so egregious that no one would fault her for leaving and never forgiving him.  It’s what came next that made my heart race.  He said:

Even though you would be perfectly within your right not to forgive him, would you be willing to be a part of his redemption.”

Wow!  Would she be willing to be a part of his redemption?

Would you be willing to be a part of his redemption?  I bet you didn’t see that coming.  I didn’t see it coming, but that simple question has since shaped the way I perceive forgiveness.

Forgiveness is one of the hardest things that we are called to do.  It goes against our natural inclination.  When we are hurt, we either want to retreat or retaliate.  Forgiveness is seldom our first instinct.  Most of us have to make a concerted effort to forgive.

I have often heard that forgiveness is more about us than it is the other person.  While this is true, that pastor’s assertion suggests that forgiveness is also very much about the other person.  Sometimes our forgiveness allows others to forgive themselves.  This message is so critical that it is worth repeating.  Our forgiveness sometimes gives others the solace to heal.

“Are you willing to be a part of his redemption?”

Are we willing to be a part of some else’s redemption, especially if they have wounded us?  That is such a hard question and a costly demand.  It is impossible to get to this place of forgiveness without God’s help and grace.  We just don’t have it in us.  In those moments that require forgiveness, we have to ask God to step into our hearts and our circumstances.  There may be some situations so painful that only God can provide healing.  Know that only God can restore and heal that which has been broken.  Know that we will ALL be hurt by someone we love because we are all imperfect beings.  Remember, even though the degree and nature of the deception might vary, God is constant.  He never changes.  If we allow God into our broken relationships, HE WILL restore them.

If your trust has been violated and you don’t know how your relationship will ever survive, ask God into your situation right now.  Ask God to mend all that has been broken (e.g. your trust, your heart, your vows, your self-worth, your spirit, your dignity, your faith, your hope, your marriage, your relationship, etc).

I bet you are wondering what ever happened to the pastor’s wife.  Well, as the story went, she decided to forgive her husband and take him back.  Not only did she forgive him, she also adopted the child that was the product of the affair.

My prayer for today:

Lord, soften our hearts to forgive those who have hurt us.  Create within us the desire to be a part of some one else’s redemption.  Mend all that has been broken.  In Jesus’ name. Amen!

I love being a woman.  I love the softness of my voice, the curvature of my hips and frailty of my nature.  As a woman, I was created to be dainty and gracious.  The fact that God made me physically weaker than my male counterpart does not mean that I am less strong or less valuable, it just simply mean that I was designed differently.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am all for women’s liberation and equality.  In fact, I work and excel in an industry, which up until a few years ago, was male-dominated.  But even so, I still embrace the inherent differences between men and women.  In our society, we tend to adopt a misguided notion that suggests equality equals homogeny.  We should not and do not have to morph into a unified entity in order to experience equality.  Our diversity, or variety, if you will, is what makes life exciting and enjoyable.

Frankly, I love it when men open doors for me.  Yes, I can open the door for myself, but why should I when there is a strapping man standing idly by?  Ladies, we have to allow men to be gentlemen.  Men, by nature, were created to be providers and protectors.  It’s in their DNA.  We emasculate them when we deprive them of opportunities to act in their nature.  Ladies, we must realize that when we fail to allow a man to act in his nature, we fail to act graciously, which therefore, goes against our nature.  With that said, men, you need to treat women with dignity and respect.  A man’s failure to treat a woman tenderly is going against her God design.  In 1 Peter 3:7 God instructs husbands to “Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered,” (NLT).

Ultimately, it comes down to respect, love and honor.  Women, as women we have to clear the paths to allow the men in our lives to step up to the plate and be the men they were called to be.  It’s not about being a damsel in distress, it’s about making a man feel needed.  Men want to know that the women in their lives depend on them.  Yes, we are fully capable of taking care of ourselves, but a large part of humility is allowing others to take care of us and love us.  It’s like the old adage, “A friend in need is a friend indeed.”  Women, one thing I should note, when a man is trying to be a man in the way that he knows best, we should refrain from belittling him because we have determine that his efforts do not match our expectations.  This does not mean that we cannot make suggestions about how we would like to be treated.  It simply means that we should honor their efforts.  Again, it comes back to the respect factor.  We have to respect our men.  When it comes to our relationships with our men, we have to be women of noble character, which Proverbs 31 describes as women who can be trusted and will enrich the lives of their husbands.  There might be some women who read the last statement and say, “I am not a wife.  I am not married.”  All women, unless called to live a life of solitude, are called to be wives.  Just as a shoe doesn’t first become a shoe once it’s placed on a foot, a wife doesn’t first become a wife when she is proposed to.    Psalm 139:13-16 said that God knitted us in our mothers’ womb and every day of our lives were written before life began.  That mean a man did not make a woman a wife.  God created her as such.  Therefore, if a woman is called to marriage by God, the rules that govern marriage still apply to her even if she is single.

Wow!  On to the men.

Men, allow the women in your lives room to be gracious.  Open doors for her.  Pull out her chair.  I would say place your handkerchief over puddles, but that might be taking it a step too far.  But, you get my drift.  Women desire to be wanted and loved.  Colossians 3:19 instructs husbands to love their wives and to not treat them harshly.  The above definition that was used to define wives also apply to husbands.  A man is made a husband by God, not simply because he found a wife.

My prayer for today is:  Wives, allow your husbands to be the men that God has called them to be.  Allow them to exhibit strength, provision and protection.  Pray that God gives you the spirit to be gracious.  Husbands, allow your wives to be women—soft and dainty.  Pray that God gives you the desire to treat her as a princess—the daughter of a king.  Women, pray that God gives you the spirit to treat your husbands as royalty—sons of a king.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!!

What have you done for me lately was the title of Janet Jackson’s hit single from her 1986 album Control.  Unfortunately, for some, this is their life’s mantra:  What have you done for me lately, or more specifically, what have you done for me today?

Our microwave society could create in us an inflated sense of entitlement.  I want it now. No need for please, and forget about a thank you.  If we are not careful, our tunnel vision could occlude our peripheral view and eclipse our hindsight.  Our desire to plug forward could obliterate our memories of the helping hands along the way.  We have to be mindful of our tendency to allow one unkind act to eradicate a multitude (or a single act) of kindness.  We shouldn’t ask: What have you done for me lately?  Instead, we should ask: How have you shown me favor in the past?  When we remember an individual’s previous acts of kindness or service, it could help to soften our heart to his or her current ill-perceived action(s).  Remembering an individual’s past kindness is not an attempt to provide an excuse or justification for perceived (or actual), current misbehavior, but it is a way to provide perspective on the person’s overall character.  I also feel that I should point out that remembering a person’s previous acts of kindness is not an excuse to be mistreated and abused.  Abuse is beyond the scope of this dialogue.

With that said, how do we look past our current hurt and extend kindness?  The answer is grace.  Grace should be an essential component of all our relationships.  In a nutshell, grace is granting favor beyond what is deserved.  None of us are perfect.  None of us are worthy of grace or forgiveness.  But Christ gave His life so that we could have both of these in abundance.  That is an important fact to remember when we have been wronged. 

Extending forgiveness and grace does not mean that we morph into a doormat.  It simply means that we remember how flawed we are and how we too will need forgiveness and an extension of grace.

 Today’s prayers:

  • Jesus, please soften our hearts that we can remember the goodness in our partners (or future partners) even when their actions are less than pleasing.
  • Lord, please grant us a gracious heart that is forgiving and not retaliatory.

Verses:

Ephesians 4:32 (NLT)

Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Proverbs 17:9 (NLT)

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.