The Forgiveness Litmus Test

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Ok, so we’ve got that forgiveness is a process. Maybe the sin against you was really grievous, and the person is unrepentant and still practicing their bad behavior. You’ve been working through the process of forgiveness, layer by layer, going deeper and deeper.

I know with me, whenever I thought I’d forgiven the person, something happened that brought it all back in a new wave of bitterness. Snap! Back to the prayer closet, on my face before the Lord, trying to let it go. Trying to see them as God sees them and not as the evil they did to me. Again.

How do you know when you’re finally done?

Here’s a simple litmus test. (Well, simple to apply, hard to actually do.) Pray blessing over them and over their life. When you can truly do that without any bitterness, anger, etc, rising up in your heart, then your forgiveness is complete. You know you’re done. You’ve really forgiven them.

This is another first for Christianity. Nobody can do this without the power of the Holy Spirit. Before trying this, ask the Holy Spirit to help you. You’ll need it; I know I do. This is hard, but it is tremendously freeing – so worth it.

Leave a comment or shoot us an email and let us know how this goes for you. Was it hard? Was it freeing? What revelation from the Holy Spirit finally allowed you to do this? Or are you just not there yet? Please share your story with us; we’d love to pray with you.

Re-Profiling

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Forgiveness can be really hard. Especially when you’ve truly been grievously and unfairly wronged. Especially when the perp is unrepentant and their bad behavior continues. But it’s so important, because our unforgiveness keeps us in prison, not the other person.

It’s a process, not a single event. It can be a long process, one that we keep going back to – forgiving again and again – layer after layer – going deeper and deeper.

One exercise that can significantly help us along in this process is re-profiling the person. No single person is wholly evil – only Satan and his demons have that distinction. So there is something good about the person. Rack your brain and find those things. If you just can’t, ask the Holy Spirit; he’ll tell you. Then write it down.

Re-profiling is not pretending they didn’t wrong you. Along with any good qualities you can find, re-profiling can include the deceptions they’re living in, and the pain in their lives that’s deceived them to act they way they do.

The goal here is to write down how God sees the other person, which is not necessarily how they are behaving, but how he made them to be. So then when we fall into bitterness, we go back and read our re-profile of them. Read it out loud – let your ears hear your mouth say it. It’s powerful.

Then you start thinking of the other person in terms of how God made them, versus what they’ve done. Because they are not the evil they did to you. Wrapping our mind and heart around that last sentence is the essence of forgiveness.

Re-profiling makes this much easier, and it’s very freeing. Try it! Let us know how it goes in the comments, or send us an email.

Is It Enough?

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I was getting prayer ministry, working through the process of forgiving someone who had done something really bad to me. Really bad. It hurt a lot, worse than anything I’d ever experienced. It was really hard to forgive them because the person was completely unrepentant.

While I was learning about true forgiveness, and trying to see the person as not being the evil they did to me, I had a vision. Not an open vision, but a divine picture in my mind’s eye. I saw Jesus hanging on the cross. He looked at me and asked, “Have I hung here long enough?”

I didn’t get it. What?

He asked me again, “Have I hung here long enough to pay you back for the evil they did to you?”

That blew my mind and I broke down in tears. I’d understood since childhood that Jesus paid for my sins on the cross, but until that day I never realized he also hung there to pay for others’ sins against me.

When I answered him, “yes”, I was able to (finally!) release the other person from the debt they owed me because of the evil they did to me. I was able to see them as a hurting and deceived individual with their own story, and not as the evil thing they did to me. And I was able to pray blessing over their life and mean it. (BTW, that’s the sign that you’ve completed the forgiveness process.)

How about you? Are you struggling through the process (yes, “process” – it’s not an “event”) of forgiving someone who’s done something heinous to you? Or maybe you’ve already gone through it, and your experience would help others? We would love to hear from you and help you through it. Please leave us a comment or shoot us an email.

The Good Guy and Bad Guy Chairs

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When someone has seriously wronged us, it’s really easy to put them in the Bad Guy Chair while we sit in the Good Guy Chair. They go together – if we put them in the Bad Guy Chair, we are putting ourselves in the Good Guy Chair. And if we put ourselves in the Good Guy Chair, we’re holding them in the Bad Guy Chair.

Getting us to climb up into the Good Guy Chair and stay there is one of Satan’s greatest deceptions. Nothing will get our spiritual growth stuck faster than sitting in the Good Guy Chair. Because the Good Guy Chair has another name – the Victim Chair. And unforgiveness holds us in it.

Here’s the deception: We don’t think of ourselves as being unforgiving. We may have even overtly “forgiven” the other person. But secretly in our hearts, we haven’t. We still consider them the Bad Guy. Our unforgiveness holds them in the Bad Guy Chair, which holds us in the Victim Chair, which arrests our spiritual growth right there. It condemns us to a life of bitterness and victimization. Who wants that?

The catch is, the only way out of the Victim Chair is to release the other person from the Bad Guy Chair. But wait! You don’t know what they did to me! It was really, really bad!!! Yes it was. Forgiveness doesn’t mean pretending it didn’t happen. Forgiveness doesn’t mean minimizing it to seem less bad than it really was.

Yes, they did something horrible to you. Hold them accountable for it with whatever (godly) means are at your disposal. Press charges if it’s a criminal act. Confront them (speaking the truth in love). Set (godly) boundaries so they can’t hurt you again. Holding them accountable helps them out of the deception that caused them to do that thing to you in the first place. It also protects futures victims from becoming victims.

But here’s the point: They themselves are not that horrible thing they did to you. It came out of their own pain and their own deceptions that they are living under, which you probably have no idea about. That does not justify what they did, and they are accountable for it. But coming to the realization that they are not the thing they did to you is the essence of true forgiveness.

Is this ringing a bell? Have you gone through the process of forgiveness? Is this something you’re working through? Tell us in the comments or shoot us an email. We’d love to hear from you.

Number Our Days

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Scripture tells us (Psalm 90:12) to number our days because our days are short here on earth. That sounds like a depressing thought, but I would like that thought to move us to action, not be a downer.

My mother-in-law passed away recently, and her passing came suddenly and unexpectedly. We had hoped for more time. My sadness for the lost time is short lived when I think of the wonderful life she lived. She exemplified the point of the message I hope to make.

This woman used the gifts and talents God gave her into her 80s. She never sat back and said, “I’m old. God doesn’t have anything more for me.” She was talented musically, as well as working with young children. Even in her 80s she ran a puppet ministry for children. Shirley had many talents and she used them into old age. She was also a very happy, fulfilled, contented person. I believe it’s because she was in sync with some very fundamental ways that God created her, and also you and me.

We are all created with gifts and talents. So many of us believe wrongly that we have nothing to offer, especially when we compare ourselves to the next person who appears to be so gifted. The truth is we ALL are gifted and designed with purpose. We are wired by God for work (sounds like a bad word, but it’s not); good works that he created in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

Good clues to let us know what those gifts are… What things do I particularly enjoy? What makes my heart sing? Yes, what thing or things make me feel like I was created just for this? For me personally, I love to pray. Not like in a monastery pray, but intercession – where you get God’s heart for the situation. I love to pray and see God do wonderful, outrageous, cool things in people’s lives. I love to see God outdo himself and do the impossible. ‘Cause that’s when he gets the credit.

A couple things can trip us up, though. We can look at our friend and see the wonderful things about him/her and feel inferior. It’s easy to do. We can think we are flawed and that something is wrong with us when we compare to others. Would you believe, that other person is probably looking at you and thinking the same thing! The reality (based on God’s truth, see Psalm 139) is that YOU are special and that uniqueness is all good!

Another problem can be if there is wounding in our hearts. Our gifting and personality may be hidden. My passion is to see you and me walking in wholeness so we can be a gift to others around us.

Can I pray for you? Can I joyfully believe for and pray down the glorious things that God has for you? Please send me your thoughts (if they are personal, send me an email). I would love to encourage you today.

The Hobbit

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I love the hobbit Bilbo Baggins. Do you know the story of how Gandolf the wizard crashed into his life and took him on an adventure? Good old Bilbo liked the comfort of his hobbit hole and did not want to leave his familiar Shire. He said that he had always been “respectable.” I just love him! I totally understand the comfort of the familiar and boring…. Yes, boring!

You know, when the Lord Jesus crashes into our lives and takes us on an adventure it’s not predictable or boring. The Christian life is anything but boring. Graham Cooke says that the church is boringly predictable. We’ve got it backwards! Our safety should be in the predictability of the character of a loving God who is good. All the time. Our security should be in the character of a God who never changes.

Storms will hit our lives. We cannot depend on people or circumstances. The world we live in holds so much uncertainty. If we focus on the bad things in the news we could all go crazy.

When the world around us is crazy, when our lives are spinning out of control, as humans we yearn for stability. But we put our trust in things that are not stable. In fact, they could be damaging or at least not healthy.

We can put our trust in finances or our checkbook. But the Bible tells us that riches are fleeting. (I am not saying that we shouldn’t work or use wisdom in our finances).

We can put our trust in that wonderful man or woman God has (or maybe hasn’t) brought into our lives. But the problem is, no one person or one thing can ever be what God is meant to be. He is the one we trust in when all else fails around us. He is the one who has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He is the one with the wisdom to figure out all the mess around us.

Will you trust this God who sent his son Jesus who loves you so much? Will you trust him with your life and your future? Will you trust him with your dreams? Will you trust him with your pain?

This loving God knew you in your mother’s womb. He knew all your days before you were born. He can carry you through the darkest days. He knows the good and the bad and he desires healing for you. He has the blueprint for your life.

Lets go on the adventure God has for us and trust him.

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear from you.

Forgiving Ourselves

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Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is ourselves. We haven’t forgiven ourselves when we hold something against ourselves. Often, it wasn’t even our fault.

For example, children often believe abuse was their fault. Abuse is never the victim’s fault, even if different behavior would have prevented it. Even if we did something stupid to get into a bad situation, our mistake does not justify the other person’s sin.

Even if it was something heinous that we actually did do, we are not the evil we did. God sees us through the blood of Jesus; to him we are not the evil we did. We are still responsible for our actions, of course, and often have to live with the consequences. But we are not the evil we did, even though our shame tells us otherwise.

Godly conviction or guilt tells us, “I did something wrong.” Shame tells to us, “I am something wrong.” No, we’re not, that’s a lie. We are not the thing we did. We have intrinsic value because God made us and loves us.

When we hold something against ourselves, we give root to lies like, “I’m unlovable,” “no one will ever care about me,” “I deserved what happened to me,” etc. These lies build a prison of shame around us, and we live our lives out of a false identity for fear of being exposed. We need to forgive ourselves, so we don’t hold anything against ourselves. It’s in that freedom that we can live who God really created us to be.

So how about you? What’s your story? Do you need to forgive yourself? Or have you and what difference did it make? Tell us in the comments or shoot us an email.

Forgiving God

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Forgiving God is a strange concept to a lot of people. Not that God did anything wrong – he never sinned against us. But sometimes we need to forgive people who have never wronged us when we (wrongly) hold something against them. Dropping what we hold against someone (whether they actually wronged us or not) is forgiveness.

We often hold something against God in our hearts that we need to drop. For example, ever hear anyone say, “I didn’t ask to be born!”? Have you said it yourself? That’s a judgement against God. Often, we hold something against God for placing us in our family of origin or for the way he made us.

Forgiving God means we don’t hold those things against him and are at peace with how he made us. Even if bad tragic things have happened, maybe the loss of a child, a parent, a sibling, a spouse, we don’t blame God for that. We don’t hold it against him.

An alternative to forgiving God is to be god ourselves in our own lives. It’s to remake ourselves into who we want to be, rather then who God made us to be. When people try to change their gender or their race, they are doing just that. I said “try to” above because we really can’t change our gender or race, no matter what we do to ourselves. We can pretend, but that’s all. We are still the person God made us, and he did not make a mistake. We will never find fulfillment and wholeness until we “forgive God,” that is, drop what we have against him, and come to peace with who he made us to be.

Trying to be someone we’re not will never bring wholeness, just more wounding. In fact, not being in agreement with God about who he made us to be is to live in a state of spiritual rebellion.

How about you? Have you had to forgive God for something? A disaster in your life? Do you know someone who’s fighting God about how he made them? Tell us in the comments or shoot us a message. We’d love to hear from you and pray for you.