WF: East to West

I think one of the things Christians, especially new Christians struggle the most is condemnation. We live in the world of “forgive and not forget” and we have the tendency to look at God in the same light.

I have said many times that understanding God’s mercy was hard for me. How could he forgive the things I had done when his Word said that those things were against his will? Then I discovered Grace. That favor that God gives us that covers all our sins. That which brings to life the sacrifice of the cross.

Even after salvation we are not perfect, and there are times when we life in this fear of when will be the day when he will say enough, you’ve crossed the line of unforgiveness. But lucky for us that day will not arrive. As long as we repent we will be covered once again by the blood of the lamb, because Jesus died for ALL our sins. The ones we did and the ones to be done.

 1 Peter 1:18-20

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.  He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.

Let’s Praise God for that!

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God’s Love and Forgiveness As Seen in the Romance Novel Desires of the Heart

By Steve Biddison

How far does God’s love and forgiveness extend? We all know the theological answer that tells us God forgives even our gravest sins and that there is nothing that can separate us from His love. And that is true. However, often times, in our own shame and guilt, we do not feel God’s love and we our subconscious does not allow us to accept His forgiveness. We either wallow in our own mire of disparity or we completely turn our back on God, believing that we do not deserve what He can give us.

That theme of God’s love and forgiveness is a big part of my recent fictional romance book, Desires of the Heart. Both the Eric and Lacey are in dire need of God’s forgiveness for things they had done in the past. Though the book is a romance between two people, at its core we see how God works in their hearts, through a variety of means, to show His love and forgiveness.

I want to share with you an excerpt from the book that not only started Lacey’s conviction of needing to return to the God of her childhood, but also has a message for anyone today who might feel they have gone too far for God to still want them.

Lacey again reached over to lay her hand on top of Eric’s. She needed the strength he gave her when she held his hand. The preacher’s words were stinging her. As hard as she tried, she could not ignore them. God can’t really use me, she told herself. I have blown it so many times, there is no chance that I could be of any use to God!!! I can’t be anything. God, don’t you understand the family I came from? Don’t you know what I have done? How could I amount to anything after having been such a loser?

“You might be thinking that your past is too bad for God to use you,” the preacher said. “But the reality is that God loves using people who are not supposed to succeed. In fact, sometimes the more of a loser the person is, the greater God uses him.” Lacey squeezed Eric’s hand tighter and leaned her head against his shoulder. She needed his strength to keep the tears from flowing freely.

“The book of Matthew opens the New Testament with the same type of genealogy as we read about in the Gospel of Luke.” The preacher continued. “Only this time we see the line from Abraham to Joseph, who was Jesus’ adoptive father on earth. We see several great people of God like King David and Abraham. But we also see people who were not so great in history. King Manasseh, one of the very wicked kings in Jewish history is in that line. We see Gentiles who were considered to be unclean by Jewish standards and we see women who unfortunately in that society were not usually deemed important enough to mention. Perhaps most interesting is that we even see a prostitute in the line of Jesus.” Lacey had never realized that before. God had used a prostitute to carry out His plan. Could God really still use her?

Lacey closed her eyes, trying to shut out the flood of guilt that had begun to flood over her. She opened them again when she heard keyboard and guitar music sounding in the background. The preacher was still speaking. “If you have had some trouble in your past that you think might be keeping you from fully experiencing God, then I invite you to come to the front and meet with God. We have prayer counselors waiting for you up here or you can pray alone.”

Within seconds, Lacey watched as scores of people flooded the isles heading to the front of the auditorium. Could so many people have such serious problems? Everyone stood to their feet as the music continued to play and the guy who had been introduced as the worship leader at the beginning of the service began to lead them all in another song.

****

But then the memories of college began to announce themselves firmly in her mind. That was the period in her life when her downward spiral intensified. No, she had been no worse than most other college students. In fact, probably better than most. But she knew that she had fully turned her back on God and admittedly refused to have anything to do with Him or a church. But now, as she watched the line of people marching forward, she wondered if she needed to join that group.

But what would Eric think of her? She tilted her head upwards to try to read his face. His eyes were lost in his own trance of thought. Maybe God was dealing with him too? She continued to watch his face, looking for any twitch or thought that might give him an inkling to step towards the isle and make his way to the front. If he goes up, I’ll go up, she promised herself. But Eric never moved.

Forgiving Those Who Hurt Me :One of the Hardest Steps in My Healing Process

During this month we’re talking about the dangers of hatred and my dear friend Shelley Hitz is here to talk to us about forgiveness. Very timely, enjoy!!

I practiced as a Physical Therapist for twelve years, and therefore know the general process required to heal from a broken bone. First, the doctor will give you a diagnosis via x-ray, MRI or other test. Then, a cast or splint is applied and you are given orders to rest your body part as the healing takes place. For a broken leg, crutches are often needed for a period of time. Finally, the last step is to exercise your joints and muscles again to regain your strength and be able to walk again on your own.

However, when God began to heal my broken heart, this was new territory for me. There is no textbook answer on what the process is for healing a broken heart. However, one of the first steps God took me through was forgiving those that hurt me.

Forgiveness…Often the Hardest Step To Take But Necessary For Lasting Freedom

Years ago, I was at a retreat for Christian women where the speaker shared her story of being sexually abused and the healing God brought to her broken heart. As I listened to her story, a memory from my past began to surface. I could relate to her story in that I was not violently raped and therefore had unknowingly dismissed the incident as simply part of “growing up.” However, when I later shared with my counselor what happened to me in junior high when a boy did sexual things to me that I neither wanted nor knew how to resist, she affirmed that it was indeed sexual abuse.

Feelings surfaced that I did not even know existed…anger, grief, unforgiveness. For the first time, I cried and grieved the innocence that was taken from me that day. As I sobbed, I asked God to help me. And He gently showed me that I needed to forgive the boy that did this to me. Forgiving him did not mean that what he did was right or that I was justifying his actions. It was for me, so that I could be free. I’ve heard it said that unforgiveness and bitterness is like taking poison and expecting it to kill the other person. The only person it hurts is me.

I Did Not Feel Like Forgiving

It took a step of faith to forgive as I did not feel like letting go of my anger and unforgiveness. Not only was my innocence taken that day, but there was a door opened to the enemy in the area of my sexuality. And later on in my life, I became captive to sexual sin. As a Christian woman, I found myself struggling with pornography. Although I don’t blame my choices and my sin on the sexual abuse, I know it was part of the process. And so I was angry and did not feel like forgiving.

And yet, God empowered me to surrender my anger to Him and forgive.

It was a process and not an instant fix. But, as I took the step of forgiveness, God led me down the path of healing my broken heart. I am thankful today that I am free from my struggle with pornography. God is now using what the enemy meant for evil for good – to provide hope to many.

clip_image002Shelley Hitz has been ministering alongside her husband, CJ, since 1998. They currently travel and speak to teens and adults around the country. Shelley’s main passion is to share God’s truth and the freedom in Christ she has found with others. She does this through her books, websites and speaking engagements. Shelley’s openness and vulnerability, as she shares her own story of hope and healing, will inspire and encourage you.

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Shelley has been writing and publishing books since 2008 including the book she co-authored with S’ambrosia Curtis, “A Christian Woman’s Guide to Breaking Free From Pornography: It’s Not Just a Guy’s Problem.” During their book launch on 9/26/12 – 9/27/12, you can download a free Kindle copy and also enter to win over $400 worth of resources. Find out more at www.ChristianWomenandPorn.com

It’s a new day!

I was reading the scripture below and it reminded me that we should never take for granted that the best thing God made was one day after another. The pain of yesterday can be the strength of today and the blessings of tomorrow.

It is good to remember that his mercies are brand new everyday. That His love is endless. On those days where you think you can’t go on anymore, know that you are still loved and cared for. Know that there’s hope and to never give up. Life goes on aside from our personal tragedies and usually we come out stronger, wiser, and with a brighter future.

Let’s start this week with an attitude of praise. We are alive, we are healthy, we are loved and we are cared for (sometimes we need more than one reminder). Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not here; live today intentionally.

  • If life took you down yesterday you have the choice of standing up today. This is a new day. This day is a new present with new mercies that God has provided for you.
  • If you were hurt yesterday, it’s time to forgive and forget and not bring into today the pain for the past forgoing the enjoyment of today’s blessings.  Do not forget that forgiveness frees your soul.
  • If you made a mistake yesterday. Forgive yourself, ask God for forgiveness, learn from your mistake, and move on. It’s a new day where you have a brand new opportunity to do a new thing with your life. Embrace it!

Lamentations 3:22-33

(The Message)

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.

God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
to stick it out through the hard times.

When life is heavy and hard to take,
go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
The “worst” is never the worst.

Why? Because the Master won’t ever
walk out and fail to return.
If he works severely, he also works tenderly.
His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.
He takes no pleasure in making life hard,
in throwing roadblocks in the way


Be blessed!

Too close to home

I’ve had several conversations this week with people who are struggling with the fact that their biggest troubles are with the ones closest to their hearts.  In the middle of the storm is hard to remember that the enemy makes a point to know where things will hurt you the most. If you were to have the same issues with someone who wasn’t closer to your heart you would not care as much, and the purpose of the enemy is to steal, kill and destroy, so he’s not going to have tender thoughts towards us, because YOU servant of God are a threat to his plans.

The bible warns us about this when it says, “ From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Luke 12:52-54

The most important thing is to remember that there have been times when we have allowed ourselves to be used by the enemy to hurt others and that at this moment when you are the one hurting it’s not them, it’s him.” For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” Ephesians 6:12

Try not to engage and fall for the trap. Retrieving is not a sign of weakness but of wisdom. Go to your Father because “the Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14) Pray that the Lord will give you wisdom to handle the situation. Sometimes the Lord will tell you that you need to confront the situation and set boundaries with that person. Sometimes the Lord will tell you to allow him to deal with them, and then ask him to comfort you on your pain…

As always I like to hear from you… Have you been in a situation when you feel defeated because the hardest blows are coming in the shape of the ones you love? If you want to share, I’m here to hear it. Even if you don’t I pray God’s wisdom over you.

Many blessings

Do you want to be encouraged in times of trouble? Do you know someone who could use some light out of their tunnel?  Don’t forget to pick your copy of Growth Lessons, which is still at 99 cents. It’s never late for giving the gift of faith.

Moving Forward

First of all I want to apologize for not writing in the last few days, between Camp Nano and other distractions I have not been able to sit down long enough to concentrate. I’ve been thinking a lot about how sometimes we are affected by issues regardless if they have direct or indirect impact in our lives.

Life is never without challenges, disappointments and painful events, most of them out of our control. The way we react to those events and the way we view those events will determine our behavior and ultimately potential future outcomes.

When something unexpected affects negatively our lives its very common to feel anger, sadness, shock, resentment, disappointment, grief and many other negative feelings. Ephesians 4:26 reads “In your anger do not sin” : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” but I know there are wounds that are longer lasting, however once the sun comes back up, it may be time to start our baby steps back on the road of life.

We believe that we have no control over those feelings and that’s not totally true. Yes, those feelings are normal. We should not stuff them or deny them. We should talk about them and process them, the problem arises when we sulk and get stuck on them.

At some point the grieving process of an event runs its course and yes, the timing is different for everyone, but when the grief hinders you from functioning, you’ve gone too long.

That’s why I say that you can ultimately impact your future outcomes, for example…the loss of a relationship may be devastating, but it could open the door to self examination, discovery and the potential of a new, sometimes even better relationship. The loss of a loved one is devastating, but if you have faith that they are in a place of no pain and no sorrow, that will give you hope. The loss of employment or some other financial loss will not be easy to recover until you get back on your feet.

Feel what you need to feel, process what you need to process, but then it’s time to get up and move on. Trust that God will make everything right and that he’s in control. That there’s no evil that will not be avenged and no good deed unrewarded.

Faith will get you through

Be blessed.

Could Jeffrey Dahmer be in heaven?

Every time someone thinks of Jeffrey Dahmer the first thought is that of a serial killer. He raped, killed and kept the parts of some of his victims. He buried some of them. It was known that he killed around 17 men and boys.

I was looking into my usual crime stories and amazingly enough I had heard the name but didn’t know the story. To my surprised I read not only about the despicable disgusting things he did, but as I kept reading I found out something that it’s not talked about much.

While in jail, after being apprehended while his last potential victim was able to escape and alert authorities, Dahmer did something amazing… He gave his life to Christ.  Yes, my mouth dropped and I couldn’t believe it, he repented and got saved and accepted Jesus as his Lord and savior.  He even got baptized.

The bible says that in Mark 16:16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” and it also says in Isaiah 1:18 “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool

Dahmer was attacked twice in jail, once coming out of a church service and later on while cleaning floors and that’s when he was killed. I think this is an inspirational story. I believe that in the eyes of God there are no sins bigger than other. A lie and a murder carry both the same weight; maybe not in our eyes, but in God’s eyes.  (1 John 3:4-5 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness)

If I follow the Word of God then yes, Jeffrey Dahmer could be in heaven. I can’t be certain as only God knew his heart.  We believe in a God that can forgive it all. Isn’t that great? If you have not raped and murder anyone,  guess what? if you repent, what you did can be forgiven. But there’s more, even if you have… if you repent you can be forgiven too. We all can.

I thought that was a deep concept to process and wanted to share. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Blessings!!!