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.

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WF: Give me your eyes

Sometimes we have to be careful what we pray for, because once its received,  it may not be the easiest thing to handle. Sometimes we ask the Lord to be able to see things through his eyes. I just can’t imagine the amount of grief he has over what we have made out of the life he gave us.

At the time I’m writing this, the verdict on the Jodi Arias trial has come down as guilty on premeditated murder. Part of the attraction to this trial has been the gore of the awful way that victim, Travis Alexander, died and all the sexual components to the testimony.

But there’s another case in the courts right now that hasn’t received as much attention and has really pulled every string in my heart. In Philadelphia Dr. Kermit Gosnell is being accused of murder. He is a doctor who practices abortions at a clinic. For the moment lets set aside the usual discussion about abortion. In this case, this man is accused of performing third trimester abortions, which are illegal. The most aggravating fact of this case is the accusation that many babies were actually born alive and that this doctor killed them outside of the womb. Some of the things I can’t get out of my head are the thought that he put scissors into these babies necks in order to kill them. Other babies were beheaded. They even found baby feet in jars at the clinic. One of the mothers died in the hands of this doctor during the procedures.

Unless you live under a rock, you have atleast seen a newborn baby. These babies were full term, so they were about the size of a newborn baby. I just can’t fathom the image in my head or my heart. Who could protect these children when their own mothers took them there to be slaughtered?

I have lost sleep over this issue. It has truly grieved my heart. These are some of the things that we get to experience when we ask God to allow us to see through his eyes. What does it do for me? It makes me very angry, but at the same time, it makes me realize that I can’t sit idle. There’s so much more work for me to do for the kingdom.

Matthew 18:6 But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

We are in a war beloved and we all have a part to play. Let’s keep the prayer that God allow us to see through his eyes so that we can never sit complacent. But more than just grow in awareness of the horrors of this world, let’s do the part that we have been called to do because there are lives depending on it.

Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
WF: Worship Friday

“ For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” -1 Samuel 16: 7

More pictures and articles are hyperlinked. I chose not to post them due to their graphic nature.

WF: What if

On my post on Wednesday titled Back to the Future, I talked about living in the land of what if. But the Land of What if is more than holding on to the past or to negativity.

We all have had a crisis of faith, when we don’t know what to believe. Why does God allow certain things to happen?  What if God is not listening to me? What if my sin is unforgivable? What if it’s not God telling me to do this? What if God is not even there?

Even Jesus had a moment where he felt that God was not there.

Matthew 27:45-46 From noon to three, the whole earth was dark. Around midafternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

And there was also a time when Jesus wanted to see if there was another way around God’s plan.

Matthew26:42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done

But see that at the end he still obeyed and allowed God’s will to be done. Although I’m sure it was not easy for him to die on that cross being that he was  innocent, he not only got through it but achieved Victory!

Join me in worshipping the Lord and may he help you with any struggles of your heart.

WF: Worship Friday

Until then, be blessed

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In Growth Lessons, I was reminded of this beautiful truth: Our walk with the Lord is a process of growing up into the image of Christ. P. Yates

I would recommend this book for anyone who would like some common sense and light added to their life. C. Cunningham

Great for meditations and daily devotions. N. Thames

WF: All things are possible

As part of returning to blog, we are also back with our Worship Fridays. Like I said at the beginning of this week, sometimes life gets in our way. We can find ourselves in a place where we feel limited to what we are able to do. Let’s not forget that those can be distractions from our purpose. As humans we can allow ourselves to stumble but let’s not allow ourselves to fall .

Let’s live by the words we read in Matthew 19:26

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

WF: Worship Friday

 

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“This book is in a class by itself, you will not be able to put it down! The characters pull you in and you begin to feel their emotions. Excellently written. The title fooled me, the saying goes” never judge a book by the cover “and this is one of those books.” By Duezette

Becoming the church

The beginning of a year is a good time for reflection and planning for the future. 2012 was a hard year and we saw in many ways how the church was either an important part or absent in those events that we experienced.

So in a society that is visibly degrading progressively, we as believers have to ask ourselves where is the church. On my last post I talked a little about who the church is and the importance that the church has for Jesus Christ. He is the one we say we follow and worship. But the bottom line is that WE are the church. The church is not a building or even an institution. Every time one of us makes the decision to follow Christ we become the church.

The word “church” as rendered in the New Testament comes from the Greek term ekklesia which is formed from two Greek words meaning “an assembly” and “to call out” or “called out ones.” In summary, the New Testament church is a body of believers who have been called out from the world by God to live as his people under the authority of Jesus Christ.

So when we ask where the church in the tragedies, the sadness and the scandals was the question really is, where was I? How did I contribute to this situation? Was I an element of healing or part of the problem?

You may wonder, what is it required from us. To love others as we love ourselves.

Don’t know where to start. I’ll give you a good starting point.

Follow Matthew 25:34-40

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Until then, be blessed

clip_image002 This book certainly held my interest straight through to the very emotional ending. Mary Anne Benedetto

With the ever-constant presence of her closest friend, Aimee, Desiree slowly makes her way to God and learns the greatness of His power and love. Cynthia

A very engaging story about faith, love, and friendship, and the trials and tribulations that life can bring you. Jersey Gina

Spiritual Abuse

I wrote this post last year during Domestic Violence Awareness Month and thought it was worth reminding ourselves that this does exist and it’s something we should be aware of.  Be blessed!

Researching information for this month’s articles I ran into something, that yes, I’ve seen but it had not clicked in my mind when I thought about abuse and it’s the term “spiritual abuse” in a relationship. This relates to when a spouse uses God to control or manipulate the other spouse with the Word of God or an alleged spiritual gift or “power”

These abusers use their spouses faith and a legalistic vision of the Word of God to manipulate, control and undermine their spouses. With this behavior the enforced their authority and the victim submits to avoid consequences not only with their perpetrator but with their higher power, as they believe this is coming from God himself.

The fact that the victims are being abused will make them be more submitted as they think that they must be doing something wrong, as they continue to be criticized or chastised by their abuser. On the other hand this can hinder their faith as they would have trouble understanding why God would allow them to live in such conditions, when it’s not God, it’s the other person’s free will that is attacking them.

Jeremiah 23:16 says “This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.” But if this is your husband or boyfriend, how can you tell?

  • Study the Word yourself.
  • If your spirit says something is not right, it probably isn’t. Look it up before you agree to do something.
  • Pray and ask the Holy Spirit for clear direction.
  • Read the Word in context and not singling out scriptures. Sometimes just reading a few more sentences can bring clarity to the context.
  • In doubt, research. Sometimes just reading different versions of the same scripture will bring clarity to our notions.
  • Talk to other Christians (be careful about this one, you don’t want someone who is misguided as well)

If you want to identify a potential spiritual abuser, read Matthew 23:1-39 ESV Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long”

Be safe!

Related articles

Places in the Body of Christ

I ran into this scripture the other day and let out a chuckle. Not because it’s funny but because we all know someone who needs to be reminded of this part of the bible.  Have you ever ran into someone who says, but I’m (insert churchy title and their name)? My thought is always, is that the name your Momma gave you? So let’s go ahead and make sure that we are all reminded.

Romans 12:3

[Humble Service in the Body of Christ] For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

As leaders in the body of Christ we have to remember that we should be the first ones to be of service and not to be served. That the leadership position is just a call to serve and it’s really more responsibility than prestige. A title given to organize our responsibilities doesn’t give us status. Jesus being God humble himself washing the feet of his disciples.

Jesus said in Matthew 23:1-13  The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.  So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Yes, we are to respect, follow and honor our leaders. But for those of us who are leaders, we need to remember that we are all part of the body and nobody is more important in the eyes of God than other.

Until next time, Be Blessed.

clip_image002Aimee is a constant positive influence in Desiree’s life, gently demonstrating God’s love and mercy. Mary Anne Benedetto

Very well written. Emme

I would recommend The Road Home to any romantic, any lover of books, anyone struggling with forgiveness, anyone. Cynthia