Friday, July 18, 2014

Being Vulnerable

"Jesus beckons me to follow him to that place of weakness where I risk the vulnerability
of a child so that I might know how strong my Father is and how much he loves me. 
But truth be told, I would rather be an adult.  I'd rather be in a place where I can still
pull things together if God doesn't show up, where I risk no ultimate humiliation,
where I don't have to take the shallow breaths of desperation. 
And as a result, my experience of my heavenly Father is simply impoverished."
Gary Hougen

I have been reflecting on this quote for awhile now and every time I read it,
the truth in this just takes my breath away!
This is where most of us live.
Not being willing to risk; not being willing to be vulnerable.
Holding on to our own resources; however limited they are,
because we can't trust God to show up!!
I've been reflecting on what it means to be vulnerable; to "risk the vulnerabililty of a child."

The dictionary defines vulnerable as "capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt physically or emotionally; liable or defenseless against criticism or moral attack; open to assault; difficult to defend."
This describes the posture of a child - defenseless and open to attack.  And yet, a child is so trusting of the adults in his/her world, always expecting the best, not even thinking of the worse.

To be vulnerable is to trust someone else to do what I can't,
thus admitting and exposing my weakness.
To be vulnerable is to be seen in the depths of who you are. 
It's to love with your whole heart, risking rejection. 

To be vulnerable is to simply live as who you are in God!
When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable by trusting God in our lives, we risk being wounded or hurt, by people and by the Lord!  We risk disappointment when our dreams and plans don't come to fruition.  When we've trusted God with the outcome of a situation and it's not what we wanted or hoped for, we then have to deal with our disappointments and frustrations.  We may also have to deal with the other people in our lives who may mock us for our trust in God.
"Where is your God now, huh?" 
"How's that workin' for ya?"
When we open ourselves up to the Lord and trust Him to come through for us and He doesn't, we can also become disillusioned.

But, and this is a big BUT, if I am not willing to risk,  I will miss the experience of God's strength and love being manifest in my life.  I will miss those times when God reveals Himself strong and mighty on my behalf.  If I refuse to risk, I "settle" for less than.

I accept Plan B when I could have had Plan A!

But how am I to know that there was a Plan A?

Ah, but that's exactly where trust comes in. 
That's exactly where you become vulnerable!
By risking all on Plan A!

There is ALWAYS a Plan A!
It just might not be what we want it to be.

I want to know and experience how strong my Father is!
I want to know and experience how much He loves me!

But, do I want to know and experience at the risk of being vulnerable??

I am going to be vulnerable right here, right now and share with you a very insignificant right-where-I-live example that God used to speak to me regarding being vulnerable.

When I reflected on the definition of being vulnerable as meaning to open yourself up to being wounded or criticized, I felt like the Lord wanted me to take a small definitive step toward what that would look like. 

For most of my life, I have had a weight problem and still struggle with some of the issues surrounding that.  About 10 years ago, I lost 75 lbs and have successfully kept it off, but most days I still struggle, to my detriment, with my appearance and "feeling fat." 
I am a little "thick around the middle" therefore I usually always wear bigger tops or jackets that will hide my "imperfections!!"  Anyway, this one day, as I was getting ready, I put on a top I hadn't worn in awhile.  I looked in the mirror and didn't think it successfully hid all I wanted it to hide.  I was getting ready to take it off and try something else, when I sensed the Lord asking me if I was willing to be vulnerable and wear this top.  Was I willing to open myself up to being judged by what I thought other people would think about my "imperfections?"?

Now, that may seem like a very trivial and nonsensical thing to you, but it was an object lesson for me and something God used to speak to me about being vulnerable.  (Now please don't get distracted by the fact that I need to be set free from some body issues and self-image problems; I know that.  And why do I care what other people think?!?)  The point is -

Are we willing to be most vulnerable where we are most vulnerable???

Are we willing to be weak that His strength might be made manifest?

"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do."
Hebrews 4:12, 13

I am already naked and opened unto the eyes of the Lord; why not trust Him with what He sees???

Being vulnerable starts with being vulnerable before the Lord; humbly submitting myself before Him and trusting Him - with ALL! 
It's giving up MY plans and schemes to get MY way and quietly waiting and trusting Him to do what's best, regardless of what it looks like to others and even, what it looks like to me. 
Being vulnerable is being will to shed those "clothes" that cover up my "imperfections" and have the courage be seen as I really am - imperfect.
How do we walk in vulnerability - before God and before man?

Be real.
(Express what you're feeling - scared, hurt, love, joy, etc.)

Act with no guarantees.
(Fully commit to taking action, even if you know you might fail.)

Ask for help.
(Admit you don't know when you don't know. Admit your weaknesses.)

Get rejected.
(No isn't no forever; it makes room for yes.)

Embrace your negative emotions.
(When we numb the negative, we also numb the positive.)

Scary stuff, right?? 
The scary stuff is the short path to freedom.
Being willing to "follow him to that place of weakness where I risk the vulnerability of a child" issues bold the statement that you are willing to risk the failure, the weakness, the rejection and the pain trusting that He will be there to uphold you through it.

Want to know how strong your God is and how much He loves you?

Risk being vulnerable.
"Real dishes break. 
That's how you know they're real." 
Marty Rubin
And guess what? 
God is in the Repair Business!


Monday, July 14, 2014

Neglecting the Good for the Best

Back on June 8, I wrote a blog that hopefully, you have read, "Giving Up the Good for the Best."  Since then, God has continued speaking this message to me time and again.

Recently I read this excerpt - "How to Plan Neglect: Saying No to Good Things So We Can Say Yes to the Best" - written by Randy Alcorn (author of many books, among them Heaven) on Ann Voskamp's blog - A Holy Experience

I am learning to listen. 

I wanted to share this with you because it says so beautifully what I was trying to say.

by Randy Alcorn

There are times when I’m overwhelmed with seemingly endless opportunities to do good things.

I have to weigh what I can or should say yes to against what I need to say no to.

Seems like every year of my life I have to say no to more good things. (Young mothers and fathers may relate to this, as those children need a lot of attention, and so does your marriage, and there’s no end to the things, both bad and good, that could distract you from either or both.)

I take my commitments very seriously, but on a few occasions I’ve had to back out of things I’d said a year ago I could do, back before I knew I would be physically exhausted and ill and my wife would be scheduled for a knee surgery.

I hate to disappoint people, but in those times it becomes clear that I have to carve out time to fulfill my most basic commitments and do what I believe God wants me to (e.g. be with my wife when she needs me).

I have to make sure I am living to please God, not everyone else.

We shouldn’t say yes to something just because it’s a good thing or even a great thing.

When saying no to good things, I always remind myself what Nanci and I have learned over many years:

I must say no to people concerning the vast majority of good things they invite me to, in order to be available to say yes to God concerning that small number of things He has truly called me to.

Sometimes we tend to say yes to too many of the good things, leaving us exhausted and unable to bring our best to those relatively few God-things.

There are only 168 hours in the week no matter what we do (and during a third of those we should be sleeping!)

If we have X number of people to make time for, they have to come out of the same small pie of available time, and pretty soon the slices of the pie get smaller and smaller. You end up having dear friends who no longer get a sliver, because it’s been divided so many times.

As with people, so it is with causes.

Rather than a large number of causes that we have tiny little investments in, better to have a much smaller number that you’re wholeheartedly engaged in, giving your very best.

Ask God for wisdom as to which these should be, and God will give it (James 1:3).

But NEVER say yes without asking whether this is one of those exceptional things God really wants you to do. Tell Him that unless He smacks you in the side of the head and makes it clear, you will assume He DOESN’T want you to do it.

This is planned neglect.

We need to neglect doing the things that countless people want us to do, so that we will be available to do what God wants.
And sometimes He speaks in a still small voice, while people speak in a big LOUD voice. We have to make sure we’re listening. To do that, we need to put our ear to His Word and pray and seek His face.
I want to be available to listen to God and follow Him when He gives me those totally unexpected divine appointments.

But if I’m booked so tight there’s no room in my schedule for unanticipated God moments, I’ll miss them, and thereby miss some of life’s greatest joys and opportunities and occasions for gratitude.

If you don’t give yourself room to breathe, you won’t give God room to move.

Instead of exhausting ourselves doing many secondary things, may we do a few primary things well.

And that begins with our daily time with God.

When Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet soaking Him in, and Martha was mad because Mary wasn’t doing what she wanted, Jesus said to Martha, “only a few things are necessary, really only one; Mary has chosen the better portion, which shall not be taken from her(Luke 10:42).

So, decide what you are going to neglect this week in order to pay attention to God.

Donna speaking now - "But if I'm booked so tight there's no room in my schedule for unanticipated God moments, I'll miss them, and thereby miss some of life's greatest joys and opportunities and occasions for gratitude.  If you don't give yourself room to breathe, you won't give God room to move."

I think that's exactly what I have been feeling - like somehow I am running ragged and missing the beauty of God and His world. 

How many beautiful summer mornings I have just wanted to sit on my porch and enjoy the breeze and the quiet - and yet, I couldn't because I had somewhere to be, someone to see, something to do.

How often I have longed to just go out and watch my grandchildren at play and maybe even join in and yet, I couldn't because I had obligations, plans, things to do.



How many mornings have I heard God speak a word to me and I 've wanted to really dig into it, but I couldn't right then, because - again - there were places I had to be.

How often I have just wanted to sit and contemplate and yet, I couldn't because something needed to be done.

How often I have looked longingly at my hammock as I've left my house for yet another errand, appointment or another thing so important it couldn't wait!

It's the simple joys of life that soothe, refresh and minister to the soul, not the endless commitments and obligations I set myself up for.

The last couple of months, I have pulled out of many good things to enable me to hear God speak the best things to me.  I confess I am still not completely sure what that looks like, but I know I will when I see it.

Right now, I am waiting.......waiting for the Lord to speak the next thing.......waiting, actually, just to hear the Lord speak.

I just "recently happened" upon this book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace, by Bonnie Gray.  It's all about "awakening your soul to rest."  I am very much looking forward to reading it.  I believe God is speaking, at least to me, about finding that place of rest in Him, finding that place where I don't have to do, but just be, before Him.  And I also believe, this needs to become a lifestyle, not just a break from my lifestyle.

It's only in the times of rest that we really hear what He is saying.  It's in those unscheduled moments that we are available to God and then become available to people - not things, not programs, not projects, not meetings, etc, etc, etc - but to people!

Learning to live a life of neglect.....sign me up!!


Thursday, July 10, 2014

He's In The Darkness, Too!

Lord, you have searched me and you know me. 
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 
Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely,
O Lord. You hem me in - behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. 
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. 
Where can I go from our Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; i
f I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. 
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. 
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. 
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. 
When I awake, I am still with you.”   
Psalm 139:1-18 

I had the pleasure of spending the day at the beach with a special friend a few days ago and we shared our hearts with one another and where “we were at” in the Lord. It was interesting to me that her “place” in the Lord at the moment was very similar to mine. Then a few days later, I had lunch with another friend and she, too, was sharing something very similar.

Ummmmmmm, I thought to myself. God is up to something!!

We all shared that we were in a “dark” place, a place of shadows, searching for the light and fighting off lots of condemnation that was seemingly being heaped upon us - for things we had long ago dealt with and had victory in!

Then I received the above Scripture, Psalm 139:7-11, via email from another dear friend 
regarding the darkness.
God is SO faithful to share with us just what we need just when we need it!!

What a precious reminder from Scripture that there is
I can be that He is not there!

We wonder, at times, does God really see me? 
Does He know how much I am suffering right now? 
Can He see the hard place I am in? 
It can seem, at times, that God has abandoned us, even when we know by faith that
“He will never leave nor forsake us.”

As I went to my Bible to read Psalm 139 in its entirety, I was so encouraged once again that I do matter to God. He does see me; indeed, the very hairs on my head are numbered (Matthew 10:30). 
He is such a personal God.

When we are in that hard place, our faith is being stretched. We are brought to our knees in desperation and we cry out to God for relief. When we don’t receive it as soon as we want it, we’re left in a place of waiting and wanting.....waiting on God to move on our behalf and wanting relief from the darkness and the shadows. 
That, I believe, is exactly where God wants us.
Sometimes God needs to allow us to enter into that “dark" place, that place of shadows, to get our attention. There’s something He wants to say to us; there’s something He wants to do in us and so He brings us to that desperate place so we will not only listen to Him, but really hear what He is saying. 
“You hem me in - behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.”

He has NOT abandoned you!
He has NOT forgotten you!
He does, in fact, see you!
He does, in fact, know exactly where you are!
Even in the midst of our darkest times, He is there, right there beside us. Scripture tells us, darkness is as light to Him. He walks beside us through that dark time.  And He is fighting our enemies for us!  When we can't seem to stand against the condemnation, the accusation and the frustration, God is at work on our behalf.  He keeps at bay and slays the dragons for us!

A couple nights ago we had quite a thunder and lightning storm in my area
and I was reminded again of Psalm 18.
“I love you, O Lord, my strength. 
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. 
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 
I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. 
The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. 
The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. 
In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help
From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. 
The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook;
they trembled because he was angry. 
Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it. 
He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. 
He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. 
He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him - the dark rain clouds of the sky. 
Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning. 
The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. 
He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies, great bolts of lightning and routed them. 
The valleys of the sea were exposed and
the foundations of the earth laid bare at your rebuke, O Lord,
at the blast of breath from your nostrils. 
He reached down from on high and took hold of me, he drew me out of deep waters. 
He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. 
They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. 
He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.”
Psalm 18:1-19

That's my God!
Doing battle on my behalf!

Though God may call us to the darkness for a season, He does not condemn us.  He does not accuse us.  He seeks not to frustrate us.  He desires for us to seek Him in and through the darkness and as we do that, He is faithful to fight off our fiercest enemies for us.
We can KNOW Him and walk with Him through our darkest times. God wastes nothing in our lives, but redeems all - even those dark times. It is not for nothing in Kingdom measurements. God will use and redeem all for His glory!
You can also be sure that even during the dark time, God is at work. He is at work in and through you, leading and guiding you to bring you out into the other side of the darkness where He has prepared a plan and place for you. And when that time is right; when all He has ordained has been accomplished, you will see what God has done. 
You will be able to see the light at the end of the shadows.
God does not play “guessing games” with His kids. He is at work and when it is time for you to know what you need to know, see what you need to see and hear what you need to hear, He will reveal it.

"...Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.  But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit:
for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God."
I Corinthians 2:9, 10
I am encouraged by His Word today. 
I hope you are, too.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Forgiveness Is Not All About You!

Today's post is a little different from what I usually write about.  I am going to do something publicly I've never done before.  

I recently read in the July issue of Reader's Digest, an article by Bishop Desmond Tutu titled, "Why We Forgive."  (Please take the time to read it; it's fairly short.)  I believe this article is just another in the parade of many that espouses a dangerous teaching and many, Christians and non-Christians alike, are embracing it.  This article puts forth the theory that forgiving someone else a trespass (debt) is really something we do for ourselves; it's in our own self-interest.
So much is wrong with this article and the premise it stands on.

It's not all about you!  Sorry!  

If the only reason you forgive another or say you forgive another, is for your own selfish agenda to be advanced, then you've already violated one of the major teachings of Jesus Christ.
"And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God
for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
Ephesians 3:32

In the article Bishop Tutu talks about forgiving his father, "Spiritually, I know my faith tells me my father deserves to be forgiven as God forgives us all."

No-one deserves  to be forgiven.  As if we could earn forgiveness!
Scripture says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."  Romans 3:23 

There is a widespread mindset in our culture today that tells us - We deserve.
The only thing we truly deserve is death! 
"For the wages of sin is death;...."
Romans 6:23
If we were given all that we truly deserve, none would be left standing.

Bishop Tutu goes on to say, "When we forgive, we take back control of our own fate and our feelings.  We become our own liberators.  Forgiveness, in other words, is the best form of self-interest.  This is true both spiritually and scientifically.  We don't forgive to help the other person.  We don't forgive for others.  We forgive for ourselves."

First of all, we can not take back something we had no control over to begin with. 
We have no control over our fate. 
And we can NOT set ourselves free.
"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." 
John 8:32
And since when is the gospel preached for my self-interest?

Scripture says when we save our life, we lose it.  (Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35 and Luke 9:24) It's only in losing my life, I save it. 

We DO forgive to help the other person.  Leslie Leyland Fields, in her article titled "Why 'Forgiveness Is a Gift You Give Yourself' Is a Dangerous Myth" says this, "We release another person's debts for their sake and for Christ's sake.  Forgiveness enables us to care about the good of the other rather than just ourselves. This is the gospel: loving our neighbors and our enemies. Yes, the forgiver often heals through forgiveness as well, but as a consequence of 'loving their neighbor.'"

We also forgive because Jesus commanded us to.  He said if we don't forgive others, we ourselves will not be forgiven.  We are bound in our unforgiveness and do not have access to the freedom that only comes from obedience to God's word.  We become bitter because we become bound in the cords of our own sin of unforgiveness.  When we repent, the winds of refreshing come and cleanse us.  (Acts 3:19)

When we confess our sin, God is faithful to forgive us because of the sacrifice of His Son's death on the cross.  Jesus became the way to the Father.  We then receive His forgiveness by faith, believing in the paid debt.  My access to God is now secure because of the righteousness of Christ, not because of any righteousness of my own. 

When I forgive another an offense against me, I do it on the basis of what Christ already did for me.  If I am not held "in contempt" for my sin, how can I hold another?  If God forgave me in Christ Jesus, who am I to deny that forgiveness to another?  I do it out of obedience and also because I know it is scripturally wrong to hold an offense against another.  When I do that, I cut off my own access to forgiveness.

"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."
Matthew 6:12
The word as means "to the same extent or degree; equally; in the same way that."
To state it another way - forgive me my debts to the same extent or degree that I forgive my debtors.
I am not trying to minimize Bishop Tutu's hurt and pain at the hand of his father's abuse.  I can't imagine growing up in that type of environment.  Yes, it is difficult to forgive and  I do understand that first hand.

Many, many years ago, I was extremely hurt and betrayed by someone I thought was a close friend.  I was hurt, humiliated, rejected and felt like I didn't deserve to live.  Because I was a born-again Christian and knew the Word of God, I knew, in my head, that I had to forgive.  But I just couldn't.  I struggled and struggled internally until one day I said to God, "I can't forgive her.  If I have to lose my salvation as a result, then so be it because I just can not forgive her." 

I don't recommend you EVER say those words to God.  I had no idea what I was saying at the time.  It sends chills down my spine to think that I once even uttered those words. 

BUT God - who is rich in mercy and forgiveness - worked in my heart, without my even being aware of it, until one day I whispered to God, "Okay, Lord, I am willing to be made willing to forgive her."  I don't remember the time frame, but one morning I woke up out of a sound sleep and slipped out of bed unto the floor on my knees and said, "God, I forgive her.  Please forgive me."

To this day, I can't explain the work God did in my heart because it was truly a work of His Spirit.  Was it a done deal at the time?  No, I had to walk it out.  I still felt a "catch" in my heart every time I saw her.  The Lord showed me over time how to deal with those carnal feelings.  He guided me to do the loving thing toward her as I walked in His forgiveness. 

God had forgiven her, who was I to not forgive? 

Was this in my best self-interest? 
No, it wasn't. 

Every time I saw her, I had to die to myself and the offenses I wanted to pick up again, but instead, I choose to obey the Word of God and DO the loving thing; show God's love to her as expressed through me.  Today, she and I have a restored friendship and it is all to God's glory!!

Bishop Tutu also writes, "Without forgiveness, we remain tethered to the person who harmed us.  We are bound with chains of bitterness, tied together, trapped.  Until we can forgive the person who harmed us, that person will hold the keys to our happiness; that person will be our jailor."

I submit to you that it is not the other person that has the power over you.  It is your own sin of unforgiveness.  Scripture tells us we are bound by the cords of our OWN sin, not someone else's (Proverbs 5:22).  We have given Satan territorial rights over us when we walk in sin of any kind.  He has gained a "foothold" and can rightfully accuse us.  Scripture also tells us to agree with our adversary quickly lest he gain that foothold.  No one person holds the keys to our happiness.  We become barred in a prison of our own making.  In the parable of the unmerciful servant, the man who refused to forgive another's debt to him even though his Master (God) had forgiven him an even greater debt, was delivered to the tormentors.

"Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me; Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee?  And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.  So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses." 
Matthew 18:32-35

Fields also says, "Forgiveness is far more than a means of personal happiness and health.  God is concerned with the well-being of the whole world."

Forgiveness is not a magic formula.  Just because we say we forgive, it doesn't immediately release our pain and our memories and bring us to a place of automatic peace.  That happens over time, day by day, as we seek to walk according to God's Word and what it admonishes us to do and how to live.  As we continue to seek God, He uses every opportunity to teach us His ways and to mature us in His wisdom.

"God continually admonishes us to 'remember' Him and to remember the events of the past, both the triumphs and the disasters." says Leyland Fields.  When we turn from the past entirely, we will miss the wisdom and compassion that we can learn from our wounds.  As Dr. Dan Allendar has written, 'Every tragedy in the past is an opportunity for redemption.  And each time we forget, we lose another moment to experience God's mysterious redemption in our lives.'"

God uses all situations in our lives for our good.  We don't always understand that, but I know my past has contributed greatly to who I am in the Lord today.  God has used my victories, my tragedies and everything in between to "grow me up" in Him.  He redeems EVERYTHING and one of my greatest joys as a Christian has been experiencing how God turned my "mourning into dancing" and turned my grief into joy.

My husband died unexpectedly almost 10 years ago and I tell you truthfully, I do not want to forget the grieving that took place in my heart.  The depths of my grief turned into the heights of my joy!!  Only God can do that.

I do not want to forget what I went through many years ago that led to my forgiving my sister in the Lord and I also walked through a lot in learning how to forgive and love my Mom.  Those situations produced some of the greatest learning and growing opportunities in the Lord.

Don't be swayed by this enticing teaching.  It is not the teaching of Jesus.  When you find yourself in a situation that requires forgiveness, ask the Lord to show you what you can do to allow Him to love the other through you.  Extend the forgiveness that you've been extended.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  Don't allow yourself to be captured by your own sin!

"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.  Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.  For 'Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.  He must turn from evil and do good, he must seek peace and pursue it.  For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.'"
I Peter 3:8-12 NIV

What do you think?  I would truly be interested in hearing your comments.