Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Can You Hear it?

I got a book last month for Christmas, from my daughter. It's called "Where There is Love There is God" by Mother Teresa. I was reading it in bed a few weeks ago and the strangest thing happened. I could hear my heart beat through my pillow.
The pulse in my neck moved the lower lobe of my ear gently on the pillow. That rubbing motion caused the sound. I don't know about you, but I've never heard my heart beat without a stethoscope before.
I began to experiment a little and I noticed when I applied more pressure and leaned into the pillow a little harder the sound disappeared. I tried to get that perfect angle of neck and ear lobe again, but couldn't find it, and I never heard my heart beat again that evening.
Then a thought appeared. I realized that as of late, I have been walking around with a lot of pressure in my life. Finances, job search, kids, household, family, etc...

Pressure enough to put pain in my chest.
Pressure enough to harden my heart.

Then that still small voice revealed, "You carry the worlds pressures around. Let them Go. Give them to me."

When the world's pressures get too big, I don't hear God's voice, and I don't hear what He wants me to do next.

I want to share with you what I was reading that night in Mother Teresa's book:

Something Beautiful for God
This love that we have for our people is a gift, for Jesus said, "Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you did it to me." We are with the least all the time. When you give a glass of water, you give it to Jesus. He claims it.... I remember last time we picked up one man from the street; he was full of worms. I asked one sister, "How can he go to heaven like that?" We started pulling the worms out one by one. We removed everything. 
I asked him, "Do you want God's blessing by which your sins are forgiven?" Something came out, sunshine, perfect joy. Something spiritual happened to him and after 15 minutes he died, without worms. One beautiful thing: no complaints, no words, he accepted. You could see his pain, but not a sound of complaint.
Pray that we may not spoil God's work - to help people to remove their worms.

God spoke to me that evening, through the pillow and through Mother Teresa's words. Sometimes, God works that way. Now, I may not be called to remove physical worms from individuals, but I am called to help Him remove the darkness. I can't do that when I'm under pressure, when I don't let go.

God is at work to bring His glory, His beauty back into the world. We are called to help Him.

John 1:4-5 (NCV)
"In him there was life, and that life was the light of all people. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it."

If you'd like to learn more about hearing God, here are a few links:

Sermon "Hearing God" by David Jonsson North Ridge Church

Sermon "Surprise Beginnings" by Rob Buzza North Ridge Church

Book by Loren Cunningham "Is that really you God?"

Thanks to:
- The devotional Bible for Women - Women of Faith.
- The book "Where there is love, There is God" - Mother Teresa.
- North Ridge for the sermons... Thanks Rob and David for sharing.
- bookjem.com for the photo.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Last month I was privileged to teach the lesson of 'Forgiveness' at a Celebrate Recovery evening at MRBC. There were some people who weren't able to make it that evening. They really wanted to be there, but due to sickness were unable to attend, and there were others who were there and asked if I could send them my notes.

For those who asked, here is the teaching from that evening.

I began with a skit on what it looks like when we live in an unforgiven state. Although, I don't have a video of me doing that skit, I have found the skit on YouTube.

This skit may have caused some tension or discomfort in some of you. I know it made me feel quite uncomfortable the 1st time I saw it.

The purpose of it was to give you a visual of what unforgiveness looks like. Over time, I have come to realize that it's in these uncomfortable moments that God makes real change occur; and sometimes we need discomfort to get deep within to find who He created us to be.

Unforgiveness binds us up. However, even though we are bound, we can still put up a facade. We can make ourselves 'look' pretty in dark times (this is where I had Krista wrap Christmas garland around me).

We put on a smile, even when we want to cry.
We say, "I'm fine," even when we are angry.
We may 'look' pretty on the outside, but we're still very much tied up underneath.


Principle 6 says, "We must evaluate all our relationships. Offer forgiveness to all who have hurt us and make amends for harm we have done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others."

"Happy are the merciful" (Matt 5:7)
"Happy are the peacemakers" (Matt 5:9)

Step 8 says, "We need to make a list of all persons we have harmed and become willing to make amends."

"Do to others as you would have them do to you." (Luke 6:31)

Step 9 says, "We need to make amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others."

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the alter and remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the alter. First go and be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift." (Matt 5:23-24)

Tonight I'll be talking about 3 different kinds of forgiveness:

1) The forgiveness that God extends to us.
2) The forgiveness that we extend to those who have hurt us.
3) The forgiveness we must ask others whom we have hurt and to forgive ourselves.

I'd like to share with you a quote by John Baker, that I read as I prepared for tonight. He said, "If God wasn't willing to forgive, heaven would be empty." I thought about how empty my life would be if I didn't forgive those who have hurt me.

Forgiveness is letting go.

If I hold on to pain
If I hold on to anger
If I hold on to resentments
If I hold on to disappointments in myself/in others
I stay tied up on the inside and on the outside. You see when I'm tied up in unforgiveness, my hands are bound. They can't reach out to others. I'm stuck. I'm alone. I'm lonely, and I make more pain for myself.

If we want to be completely free from resentments, anger, fear, shame and guilt we need to give and accept forgiveness in all areas of our lives. If we don't our recovery will be stalled and incomplete.

It would be like swimming in a mud puddle. Even though clear raindrops are falling on you, like little seeds of light and hope. You are still choosing to swim around in the mud, instead of choosing to swim to shore and walking out.

How do we get out of the mud?

By choosing to get out!

I've spoken with the kids at Celebration Station on the challenges of forgiveness. One of our lessons in our curriculum was to make a list of all the people who have hurt us since our birth. My list was longer than theirs. Go figure?
We went through the list and crossed off all the people we already forgave, except the ones where we said, "Yeah, I forgive, but..." You see, when there's a 'but' attached, you haven't truly forgiven them.

Then we took a look at Luke 7:44-47.

"Then Jesus turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? When I came into your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss of greeting, but she has been kissing my feet since I came in. You did not put oil on my head, but she poured perfume on my feet. I tell you that her many sins are forgiven, so she showed great love. But the person who is forgiven only a little will love only a little."

Simon didn't give his ALL. He held back. He had little love. The woman gave everything she had, her ALL. She showed Jesus great love.

It's about attitude. Our humble and honest attitude. When we hold up walls around our hearts. When we're all tied up, we don't give our ALL. We don't show great love.

Jesus tells us that our scattered bits and pieces are just not sufficient.

Forgive with our whole being
Love with our whole being
Otherwise, we end up with only a little

Sometimes, the problem with "giving it our all", when it comes to forgiveness, is because we are addicted to feeling good, and we may think that everything needs to 'feel good' in order to do it.

"I know I've got to forgive, but it hurts! I don't feel like it."

This type of attitude binds us up.

"We need to do, what we know we should do even when we don't feel like it!"
Joyce Meyers

Loving the people who have hurt us unconditionally is a very big challenge, but God commands us to do it.

"Which is the most important command?" Jesus replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. This is the greatest commandment. The second most important is similar. Love your neighbour as much as you love yourself." (Matt 22:36-40)

But... How can we love and forgive others if we don't love and forgive ourselves?

No matter how unloved or worthless you may feel about yourself, did you know that God loves you? He made us in His image. He doesn't create junk! Your feelings about yourself does not change His love for you. He has already forgiven you, way before you were even born.

It's up to you to accept it or not. You have a choice.

Now, self forgiveness is not a matter of assigning the blame to someone else and letting yourself off the hook. It's not a licence for irresponsibility either. It's just an acknowledgement that you are human like everyone else and that you've reached a stage in your life where you are able to give yourself greater respect.

When you forgive yourself and others, you won't change your past, but you will change your future. God will enable us to do what He has called us to do. Remember that He has forgiven us first and He asks us to follow Him into freedom.

This path is a difficult one and sometimes it won't 'feel' good and there will be times on this road of forgiveness where we will need to stop and ask someone we trust for some help. Sometimes we will need to ask them to untie us (this was where I asked Krista to help me out of the straight jacket).

Forgiving sets us free.

Isaiah 1:18-19 shows us what God wants to do with the darkness in our lives.

"Come, let's talk this over! says the Lord; no matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you white as wool! If you will only let me help you."

Becoming un-bound not only leaves our hands free to reach out to others, but it also frees us to accept the gift of a helping hand and God's gift of mercy.

There's a song by the sidewalk prophets that recently came out and it made a great impact on me. The chorus goes;

I am the thorn in your crown
I am the sweat from your brow
I am the nail in your wrist
Yes, I am Judas' kiss

Each of us, in our own ways, have taken this beautiful gift of life and at times have turned it into something ugly.

We are the thorn in God's life - When we react with fear, bitterness and resentment.

We are the sweat on God's brow - When we run around in circles, doing the same thing over and over again. Staying tied up, not learning, not trusting. Swimming in the mud.

We are the nail in God's wrist - When we react with anger and violence.

We are Judas' kiss - When betray, when we lie.

We are all these things to God when we don't live our lives for what He created us for. But, you see, the song doesn't end there:

But you love me anyways
It's like nothing in life that I've ever known
Yes, you love me anyway
Oh, Lord, how you love me, how you love me

God knew his creation would disappoint Him, but he had a plan. Because He loves us anyways, He sent us a great gift. The gift of His son, to teach us, to heal us and to save us. This gift comes freely. He just asks us to love Him, to trust Him and He asks us to love like Him; no matter what pain we may have caused others/ourselves or what pain they have caused us.

Mercy means getting something we don't deserve. Mercy is the gift God 1st gave us.

As we head into Christmas this week, as we celebrate the birth of God's son, I pray that you find yourself unbound and reaching out to give others the gift that God 1st gave us.

Give mercy to those who have hurt you.
Give forgiveness and "love them anyways".

Thanks to:
YouTube for both videos
Sidewalk Prophets "You love me anyways"
Pastor ddromberger "Forgiveness" skit
Joyce Meyer for the quote
John Baker and the Celebrate Recovery leader's Guide and Celebration Station curriculum 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Why Don't I Get Any Reception?

"Great! No reception."

Has this ever happened to you? You take a step into another room and your call gets dropped or you can't even make a call because there's just no cell reception?
Physically, this happens to us all the time, but what about spiritually? Did you ever feel disconnected from God? I have and it's not pleasant. So, why do we lose reception? Is it Gods fault for not building enough towers, therefore causing poor reception? Or is it our fault for not having the proper equipment (or the proper attitude) to take His call? 

"Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!" (NIV)
Isaiah 30:18

Some versions say that "The Lord God is waiting to show you how kind He is"... and that, "... blessed are all those who trust or long for Him."
So, if I understand this correctly, he is not pushing his calls on us, and he doesn't work in a busy call centre, selling himself and his products around dinner time. He's waiting for us to call him, the line is open, He is waiting... we have to make the first move to trust him.

So, what if you do trust? What if you have prayed and you are still having difficulties with the connection? What then? 

Maybe we're a little crabby and need an attitude adjustment? Maybe we're a little rusty and can't remember how to call on Him? Maybe we're too far away? Too self focused and can't hear anyone else, just our own voice? Whatever the reason, we need to make the adjustment, because Gods line is always open.

"And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” 
Isaiah 30:21