When I’m sorry falls short.

22 Jun

I’m going to start on something totally unrelated to this post but I want to share anyway because so many of you are commenting or messaging things like “Don’t stop writing. Where are you? and Keep posting.”  While I find this somewhat humorous, I also appreciate these comments deeply!! Writing is taking the back-burner lately because I’ve been working mornings and honestly, it depresses me.  But! I think my schedule is changing up after this week so hopefully I can share so much more of my heart here again.

Anyway! On to the more important issue beating in my chest. Apologies.

Our society talks about apologizing a lot. Just turn on the news an you’ll see daily people who need to apologize to others for something they have said or done that wasn’t politically correct,  went against someone’s beliefs, hurt someone’s feelings, or was just a dumb comment that flew out of their mouth at the wrong time.

And we teach apologizing to our kids on a daily basis as well.  “You hit your brother? Did you say you’re sorry?”  We want our kids to understand that when they hurt others, verbally or physically, they need to apologize.

But what is apologizing anyway?  Webster says Apologize means “to express regret for something that one has done wrong.”

I don’t think we always use Webster’s definition in our interactions with others. And frankly it falls flat anyway.

I think people apologize all the time without really being regretful. When my kids say they’re sorry for calling their sibling a name, they rarely mean it.  In fact, you could likely catch them saying “Sorry…..” and then under their breath as they walk away mumbling “tattle tale”.

It’s not hard to tell when someone apologizes to you if they truly regret what they have done.  If they are hurting, remorseful, and genuinely broken for their actions or words, or if they’re saying sorry because they got caught or think they have to do it.

But I’m going to tell you something.  Sometimes even a real heartfelt and honest apology still isn’t enough to bring healing.

We like to believe it is. And we even teach our kids that it is.  And we expect it to be when we’re the ones on the apologizing end of things.  But in those moments when we’re on the receiving end of an apology, if we’re honest – sometimes it’s just not enough.

I personally think that apologizing has lost it’s importance today. We tell everyone to do it without really understanding or meaning what we’re doing.  I believe at the core, apologizing to humans should reflect the heart of how we interact with our heavenly father when we need to confess our sins with remorse and repentance.  If someone is shattered over their actions, confessing them to the Lord and actively making a sharp turn away from those sins, not only in that very moment is there immediate and complete forgiveness from the Father – but it’s the truest form of apologizing in existence.

It’s really that complicated and simple all at once.

It’s complicated because we don’t apologize and forgive in this way.  Humans are humans and it’s beyond us to operate like this.  We want answers, justice, retaliation, and usually separation.  We think very highly of ourselves and very lowly of Satan.  We are repulsed by our wounds and place sharp blame on the human(s) who caused this pain.  We forget all about our feebile condition, sinful nature and the sneaky serpent who comes to lie, steal and destroy. This kind of instant, complete forgiveness is foreign and unfathomable and it keeps people from the cross. They can’t believe God can forgive like this because we can’t on our own.

And yet it’s that easy. It’s a confessing and turning away that leads to freedom, love, redemption, eternal life, the fulfillment of every ache in our body.  We’re clean, whole, and deeply loved in an instant. If only we could take that taste of our very own forgiveness on our tongue from the Father and give it to ourselves and to each other in this way – it’d be a whole new world in one day.

It’s paralyzing to be the one offering the shattered pieces of yourself to someone with repentance and know that you’re hanging in the balance of what their human body can physically handle by means of forgiveness.

There are no words.  There may be a flood of tears, but even those are helpless to heal the ache in someone else we’ve hurt.  There’s no judgment pouring from us either, for surely we know what we’ve done, what we deserve, and that we probably wouldn’t offer Christ-like forgiveness instantly either.  And yet we feel nothing but brokenness.

So what can we do? How do we keep living?

Practical Application:

If you’re buried in regret today and it’s suffocating the life right out of you, please be encouraged that our Savior’s forgiveness and acceptance is not leashed under the rules of this fallen world and our fallen human condition.  It’s real, immediate, and all we truly need to walk in freedom. And as for that person (those people) who you just can’t heal with “I’m sorry”, just keep praying for them.  You can’t make it go away.  You can’t bring justice or right any wrongs.  But Jesus can.  Let that hurt motivate you to lay them before the cross every single day a million times a day knowing that even if that relationship is never restored, you’re free to love them and lift them up in name of the Healer. Be willing to just give them to Jesus. Even if you lose them. That’s when you’ll know you’ve truly apologized beyond Webster’s definition of just expressing regret; when you care more about them and their healing than you do yourself. And Jesus will make you whole again too.  Just don’t take your eyes off Him for anything.  Especially to entertain that nasty devil who wants you to stay bloody and broken. Don’t look back.

 

 

In the Valley

12 May

scenery

Let me tell you about this picture and why I picked it.

When we’re on a bridge that leads to the mountains, we never really can tell if we’re going to the Valley or the Mountain top. If we knew it was going to be the valley, chances are we’d just jump off the bridge and not trust God with what His purposes are for us.

And that truly applies to the valley forced upon us (sickness, job loss, and so forth) or the valley we put ourselves in because of the consequences of our sin.

But the one thing I’ve learned in my life is that God’s provision is wide enough for the valley of our lives because sometimes, we just won’t get where He needs us to be any other way. He allows the deep with His provision, even if it isn’t His desired route for us.

The Valley signifies a lot of truths. Here are a few to meditate on.

There are often other people in the valley whom we need to meet. It may be while we’re going through something, or it may be to prepare us years later for the mirror image of ourselves we can pick out even in the dark because we’ll never forget our own season.

Recently, someone I hardly knew said we needed to have coffee. Turns out, I needed her more than she ever knew. And the same is true for all of us at some point in time.

So, start praying for who you need to meet. Both the encourager now, and the person you’re going to encourage later. They’ll both be the most precious souls and you’ll never be the same since knowing them.

There are other times our life is running so fast, we literally won’t slow down long enough for God to get our attention. In these times, He allows the valley to say “Hey daughter, slow down. Look at me. I have something to show You.” That may come in the form of changing something, getting rid of something, adding something or just opening our eyes so we don’t miss something. There’s beauty as soon as we look AROUND the valley instead of looking up at that once prized mountain top.

I’m not sure what the beautiful picture looks like right now but I know it’s breath-taking. It always is. Even if it’s just the mercy or grace of others being poured out, it can stop a beating heart at the site of it.

Truth be told, there are even times God allows the valley because we forgot for a moment how much we need Him. We can get on auto-pilot, confessing with great belief that we know we need Jesus every day, but we just go through the motions and even some really scary times, slowing decline toward danger without even realizing it because life just happens and we forget to feed on God like our whole life depends on it.

Enjoy the slowness of this season. You’re blessed to have time to fatten up on the word, drink deeply the living water and nourish your soul. There’s no better place than the valley to lean on Jesus every step of the way to help you make that incline back to the top. He isn’t at the top waiting for you. He’s right beside you, holding your hand and saying, I allowed this, please trust me that it’s for your good and my glory. I’m your faithful friend. And I love you.

While the Valley can feel defeating and lonely, it never has to be wasted pain. It’s just a set up for glorious ascent.

I’m above that, but wouldn’t admit it.

28 Apr

Have you ever been in a situation where someone was literally choking on their self-righteousness?

I’m going to be straight with you.  We have ALL struggled with this at some time in our life.  And I am absolutely no different.  There are times when I’ve thought I was better than other people.  Times when I thought I knew more scripture or knew my Bible better.  Times when I thought I was more spiritual than my own husband.

Please don’t get the impression that I ever write from a place of innocence.  Ha.  Actually, I literally just laughed out loud.  Innocent. That’s a good one.

I’ve never been shy in admitting my sin and the truth that last year God allowed Satan to sift some nasty things from my life.  Some things I knew I was hiding or holding on to, some things I had absolutely NO IDEA were even in there (as in, from my childhood) and other things I didn’t realize were a problem.

I’m not ok with the road I’ve been down.  I’m not sure I ever will be.  But I am learning to worship and praise God from the depths of my soul for taking the failings of my life to refine and mold something new that is actually beautiful and useful for me (and HIM) in the future.

The uncomfortableness of this mess though is that we can come face to face with someone who is incredibly self-righteous toward us and they don’t even see it.  I’m in this boat.

It’s easy to feel anger toward the self-righteous because their self-righteousness keeps ripping open our scabs that are starting to heal. We keep bleeding over and over again with their judgment and ridicule.  Their finger-pointing does not lead to healing, repentance, holiness or godliness.  It leads to shame, guilt, hiding and the temptation to sin all over again in picking up bitterness toward them.

Sometimes others make open handed comments about our hearts.  Blunt statements that they have absolutely no clue about because they’ve never talked to us about the matter at hand, and can truly have no idea what has happened in our hearts.

Praise God almighty that we answer to HIM and He’s accessible 24/7.  His mercies are new every morning and He sees the instant heart change.  He recognizes true confession and repentance and His forgiveness is instant.  And in this redemption process, we don’t owe any humans any explanation except, “I’m a sinner, But God restored me.” That’s it.

I write this today as an encouragement to you reading.

If someone is being self-righteous toward you, take a step back from them and find a quiet place to pray.  I know this sounds tongue-in-cheek because we’re talking about some actions and words that can cut us to our core but the truth is, they really have no idea what they’re doing.  Self-righteousness blinds us from our own failures and sin and convinces us that it’s our right and duty to play Holy Spirit for someone else and make sure they feel convicted.  We think we can guilt others into repentance and change. It’s just as big of a lie from Satan as any other.  And they need our prayers.  As hard as it is, they need an intercessor.

If you see someone being self-righteous against another -SPEAK UP for them! Do it. It doesn’t mean you’re defending their sin – it means you’re defending their right to claim freedom in Christ.  Whether or not they’ve repented, we are all blind to our own sin at times in our lives, and the last thing we need is another person slamming condemnation on us.  The Holy Spirit can never do His job to bring conviction and repentance when other humans are in the way trying to do it for Him with judgment. Help clear the path with love; because that’s our greatest calling!

And lastly, if you’re really struggling with being critical and self-righteous toward someone else for their sin, whether it’s something you don’t understand how they could possibly do, or are very frustrated they don’t see it as sin-  It is by the grace of God that our eyes are open to any sin. We could/would be as rebellious as any if it weren’t for the mercy of God removing blinders and giving us good conscience and wisdom to know Him and understand His word.  Take some time to thank Him deeply and completely for His favor and beg His grace on the person you’re struggling with too.  Not only will it give the Holy Spirit room to move, it’ll change your own heart in the meantime.

Like New Condition

7 Apr

It’s been an odd couple of days.  I suppose odd is always good when it causes desire in me to dive into Scripture.  Sometimes I like it a lot when people say things that make me pull back and go “you know, I don’t think so.” Because it’s those moments when I grab my Bible and dig for truth, even if it’s just to affirm what I was sure I already knew.

I have a confession. I’m an addict amazon and Ebay shopper.  I would be horribly embarrassed to admit the amount of time I’ve spent on those two websites researching the best buys. (It’s in the hundreds of thousands I’m sure by this point in my life.) I’ll tell you what – I love finding items in like new condition for used prices! I live for a good bargain.

Today I sat here with my Bible and started weeping.  I could sell this current Bible with the status “Like New Condition.”  I was curious how old it was.  I looked in the front cover.  My husband and kids bought this for me December 25th, 2009.  This Bible is over 6 years old.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s been used.  In fact, I’d say from 2009 – 2012 it was used absolutely daily, even multiple times per day.  Slightly less in 2013, much less in 2014, and virtually not at all in 2015.

It’s been open almost daily in 2016.  The words are flying off the page and some days it’s like reading my favorite story and other days it’s like I’ve never seen the words before.  I’m pretty certain I’ve read this specific Bible cover to cover 4 times, along with using it during Bible Studies I’ve done over the last six years.

I will say, I’m glad it is high quality and it didn’t fall apart in a year just from poor materials.  But those deep tears I was sobbing were not because the materials held up.  They were brokenness that the God who created me, who has forgiven me of pure evil an unfathomable amount of times, has blessed me countless ways, entrusted me with four amazing children, and held me through every single day of my Christian walk has not received even a fraction of that love back from me.  And it shows in the crisp pages of my Bible.

It’s wrote in, but I’d still call it clean.  It has wrinkled corners, but less than a few.  It has a couple of water marks (probably from coffee) but not even enough to call it stained.

Should I really be surprised that I’m not always acting like Christ? I couldn’t even begin to imagine the billions of calories I’ve consumed in 6 + years of food just to live, move and breath.  But God’s word is so clear, Man cannot live on bread alone but on EVERY WORD of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)

My “like-new” Bible tells me I haven’t been living.  I’ve been surviving.  Living leads to witnessing, ministering and evangelizing for the sake of others. Surviving leads to tending to myself and my immediate needs so I don’t die.

I was dead last year. And by the grace of God, He revived me.  What more could I say than it was only for the purpose that I would now LIVE.  And the evidence of a life well LIVED will show when my Bible looks USED. Oh what a day that will be. Challenge accepted.

Sifted

4 Apr

sifted.jpg

It’s not your typical word tattoo. Why not “love, family, grace, hope, faith, freedom, forgiven?” I contemplated a lot of words honestly, but it absolutely had to be “SIFTED” and if you’ll hang with me for a short story, I’m going to explain why.

Let’s take a look at Luke 22:31-34 “’Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you Simon that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ But he replied, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.’”

I could literally write an entire book on this tiny passage of Scripture (and I might some day) – there is a LOT here to unpack. But I mainly wanted to point out that Satan HAS to ASK PERMISSION to tempt/sift us, and also that he goes hard after CHRISTIANS, not simply the unbelieving.

Before I share more about this passage – I first want to acknowledge that it’s easy to think of “sifting” as someone taking pretty white flour and gently sifting it through a little metal mesh for cookies. This is not what sifting wheat looked like. It was a very violent process. It was a threshing, that closely resembles thrashing, as the wheat is beat and torn to remove the worthless stalk to preserve the valuable grain.

Looking back at these verses, what I truly love is that Simon already had his name changed to Peter and with that change came the promise that God was going to build His church on the rock and planned to use Peter in this process. God knew when he changed Simon’s name to Peter he was going to deny him, not once, but three times in the future. The same is true for us. God doesn’t choose us knowing we’ll be perfect from that moment forward, He chooses us even when He knows more sifting is yet to come.

What’s even more beautiful is that Jesus speaks right into Peter, “I have prayed for you.” and then goes on to give him the reason he’s allowing the sifting – right up front! WHEN YOU TURN BACK (acknowledging He knows Peter is going to stumble – but telling him, come back, what you’re about to do isn’t strong enough to break my love for you – and it can’t separate me from you.) STRENGTHEN YOUR BROTHERS. Use it Peter. Let the sifting get rid of what’s holding you back, what’s making you doubt, what’s promising to fill you but can’t follow through, what temporarily feels like safety & security. Let that harsh, violent, painful sifting process, remove the impurities and worthlessness and refine you to perfect grain, and then Go – GO, and strengthen your brothers who are facing Satan’s deception and confusion.

Whether you’re in a pile of rubble because Satan attacked you and you remain innocent, upright, blameless (like Job) or whether you’re broken and sobbing in a pile of ashes because you did or said things you thought you’d never, ever possibly do in the sifting and you’re 100% guilty (like Peter) – it’s ok. You’re not the only one being attacked and you’re also not undesirable to the Father, God knew you’d be where you are, Christ is praying for you, AND, His arms are wide open for you to come to Him and let Him heal all your broken pieces. He delights in making beauty from ashes.

Today just may be the day to recognize SATAN asked to sift you. And to admit (even if just to yourself), it was worse than you wanted anyone to know. It was brutal and you barely survived, thrashing the whole way. If that’s you, I encourage you to leave the worthless stalk behind and claim victory. The siftING is not the end. The wheat that is SIFTED is a beautiful grain ready to be used to strengthen others.

Made up rules

11 Mar

You know what got the Pharisees in trouble?  It was the fact that they became so ritualistic that they started adding MORE and MORE rules and regulations to follow in order to be in good standing before God; and pretty soon they were implying things God never intended from the Law at all.

We see that play out clearly when they start having an anxiety attack that Jesus heals a crippled woman on the Sabbath. GASP! That’s work! Healing is work! And Jesus, so frustrated, puts them in their place. (Luke 13:10)

The same happens to our testimony to the lost world when we take one verse of Scripture out of context and imply something that isn’t actually said at all in Scripture.  Especially when you look at the verses around it, or even pay close attention to what Jesus was constantly teaching on and pointing out as what was most important to Him.

Someone posted this on Facebook. (Honestly,  I dislike FB more than I like it but I keep it for my Norwex business page)

wrong

Here’s the thing – I’m not saying vulgarity has a place in Christianity. However – what I am saying is that this verse was not written so people wouldn’t use four letter words.  In fact, swearing is cultural.  And words have taken on vulgar meanings over time that were never associated with them when the words were created.

This verse, when you read all of James 1:19-27 is about the moral filth, hypocrisy, lack of concern for orphans and widows, and the pollution of our souls by the world to care more about things of no eternal value than what God concerns Himself with.  When you pair that with what Jesus says is the most important to Him (Love God first and your neighbor like yourself) along with His great concern with keeping yourself pure sexually, not gossiping or slandering others, not praising God while cursing men, not withholding good from those when it’s in your power to act, not storing up earthly treasures, looking after those who can’t speak for themselves, it becomes so much more clear what He actually considered worthless religion and the point He was making.

God isn’t reminding us not to say four-letter words in this verse.  He’s telling us to stop talking about other people – especially other believers.  Stop letting the world decide what’s of value and compromise what comes out of our mouths that contradicts what we say we believe in our hearts and therefore, muddy up the gospel message. He wants us to use our words to give life and not speak death over others.

If we tell the lost they’re in trouble for swearing – not only are we putting rules on them that God didn’t give…. we’re neglecting to share the importance that the truth of this whole passage is really that the overflow from the heart is what actually comes out of the mouth.

If our heart is polluted by the world, even if we claim that in our mind we know there is a God and think we are religious, it’s worthless.  But if our heart is right with God, our mouth will testify to that because we will closely watch what we say to honor Him.

And personally, I think some vulgar talk that has nothing to do with a single “curse word” is more filthy and nasty than when someone accidentally says the “d-word”. But, maybe that’s just me.

 

Shaming never works!

18 Feb

So at first I wanted to write about this experience just because I’m down right angry and this is a good outlet to vent.  I was thinking though that it really didn’t fit the theme of my blog, but the truth is, it really does.

I went to the dentist this morning.  I HATE the dentist. Mind you, I have a super great dentist and he does great work, but the entire experience is so awful that I avoid going at all costs.

I knew however that it’d been awhile and I have HORRIBLE teeth (God bless genetics) and it was time to put on my big girl pants and go.

This was my encounter.

As I walked up to check-in, the shaming began.

Receptionist “Oh (disappointed tone of voice) I see it’s been an awfully long time since you’ve been in.  Nearly five years since your last cleaning. Can you verify your address for me please?”

(Here’s the appropriate receptionist response. “Good Morning Kayla.  Great to see you today.  Can I have you verify some info for me so I know we’re up to date? Thanks so  much.”)

As soon as the receptionist called me back she says (before we even reached her chair) “So in looking at your chart, I see it’s been far too long since you’ve been in last.  It’s been 5 years since we’ve done bite wing x-rays and those need done once a year.  And it’s been 7 years since we did a panoramic x-ray and that needs done very 5 years.  We need an update on these. Assuming you haven’t been going to anyone else? Can we update these?”

(Here’s the appropriate way to greet your patient. “Hi Kayla.  I’d like to start with x-rays today to update your chart.  Your insurance will cover bite-wing once a year and panoramic every five years so you shouldn’t have any concerns with these being covered services today.  Would it be ok if we take these?”    The customer knows how long it’s been.  They don’t need you to remind them.  And if they had them done elsewhere and the know there will be insurance issues, they will let you know.  They are an adult.  Treat them like one.)

As she’s cleaning my teeth, “Since it’s been five years, there is a little more tarter build up than when you come in every 6 months like you should be doing. I’m going to get you fixed up, but in order to stay on this, make sure you’re coming in every six months from now on.”

(Again, the correct manner to address this. “I’m so glad you came in today and gave me the opportunity to clean your teeth.  I hope I’m doing a great job and get to see you again in 6 months.)

As the dentist came in (RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME) she filled the dentist in “I let her know five years is far too long and if she expects to have healthy teeth and stay on top of things, she needs to be coming in more regularly.  She did have excess tarter build up from the long absence but again I addressed with her that she needs to be here regularly.”

(This does not need addressed in front of the client. Talk outside the room or leave it in the notes.)

And then, the dentist took the opportunity to address the “issue” at hand.  “If you come in every six months as you should be doing, I can keep a close eye on things and make sure we stay on top of the areas that give us concern.”

(How about saying this “In taking a look at things today, here is what I see.  I feel like this could be a bigger issue and in order to prevent this from happening, I would really like to keep an eye on this at your next appointment preferably in six months if that works for you.”)

I don’t know if they train everyone (which appears to be the case) to lecture the clients but I was FURIOUS when I left.

If the goal was to make me feel empowered to take good care of my teeth and come back in six months, they FAILED!!!!!

If the goal was to embarrass me, belittle me, treat me like a child, mock my intelligence, and heap unnecessary guilt on my shoulders – they NAILED it like champs!

I got to thinking… how are we doing with the sin in others lives?  Are we heaping unnecessary guilt, belittlement, embarrassment, attacking their intelligence and shaming them like children when we don’t like what we see or think they need to stop/start doing something?

Or are we doing our job as Christians with love, grace, mercy, and tenderness which allows them to feel empowered to make the right decision for themselves?

Practical Application:

Just taking a self evaluation of how I handle when my spouse, children, co-workers do something I don’t like or agree with.  Do I reach for shaming – or love?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 353 other followers