Be Willing To Give a Second Chance

Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever…(Phm 15).

Be willing to give someone a second chance. After all, God gave you one.
 
I know what they did hurt. I know that others told you to cut them off forever, they’ll never change and that this is just how they’ll be. But God is bigger than our past mistakes. Truly, He can restore things to an even greater state before if we’d be willing to shower grace upon someone who comes to us with a broken and contrite heart over their past mistakes.
I’ve seen God do this in my own life as I’ve practiced the art of letting go. I’ve seen God restored the past and bring it to something much greater than I could have ever dreamed. You see, that’s just what He loves to do. The problem is that our human hearts often shut this opportunity out because we get angry, bitter and resentful. We put up walls when God is trying to break them down so He can do something beautiful in our life.
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There are some relationships that, quite frankly, I long for their redemption. I hate that things are not fully restored and I await the day when humility and repentance will take a front seat instead of pride and fear. I await the day when the Lord will restore those relationships, for His glory. I believe that can happen and I await that day with hopeful expectation.
 
Be willing to give someone a second chance and pray with all of your might against bitterness, anger or resentment towards that person. Pray for their full redemption and growth in Christ. Pray blessings over them, just as you would want someone to pray blessings over yours. Then, watch as God works in ways you never expected to bring redemption into your life, in Jesus’ name.
 
Father, I trust you with my life. May I never write people off and bury them. May I always be ready and prepared to forgive so that all things might be restored. Help me to seek you always, to love others unconditionally and to offer grace at all times, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Stop Shaming Women in Abusive Marriages and Please, Church, Start Helping Them

to be subject to their husbands… (Tt 2:5).

Beware of places and people who encourage women to stay subject to their abusive husbands. There are so many stories of women who have been shamed by the church or those close to them for wanting to get help, accountability, and safety from such a destructive place. Truly, it is heartbreaking and astounding.
 
I have heard their stories and I lived through my own nightmare for quite some time. It was shocking to me how quickly people were ready to offer their opinions, and cover me in shame, but how few actually sat and listened and tried to understand. I would hear things like, “You’ve just made this or that an idol in your life and so its causing problems in your marriage.” In regards to another woman’s story, I heard those helping her say, “Well she probably did something to cause him to do what he did (hit her).”
 
When the Scripture encourages women to be subject to their husbands this is indeed a Scriptural command that is good, but this should never be encouraged if a woman continues to have abused heaped upon her. We should never tell a woman that she just needs to be more submissive if her husband continues to shower his rage and anger upon her. I would have people ask me, “Well, has he hit you or become physical with you?” My answer was always no, but I remember thinking to myself many times, “Please, just hit me, because maybe then people will believe me and really start to help me.” Yes, there were people who stepped up to the plate and helped, but the point I’m making is that we must shift our thinking on this issue within the church.
 
Abuse goes beyond just something physical. Mental and emotional abuse is just as damaging. There may not be wounds to show, but they cut just as deep. In an attempt to control the other person, emotional, mental and verbal abuse all strip away at that individual’s humanity. This is sin at its very worst and we, in the church, must start caring more for the lonely, lost and hurting.
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We cannot push that woman out. We cannot shame her or make her feel like a failure. We must love her, support her and help her in every way possible. We must also love, support, encourage and hold her husband accountable. Truly, this is the role of the church, to love the broken, hurting and abuse. We should not fear their story or the mess they bring us, but instead, we must learn to embrace it knowing that our role within the church is not to look good on the outside but to love those on the inside, no matter what they might be dealing with.
 
Lord, help us to love the hurting. There are so many among us. We all have said such hurtful things to those who are hurting. Mostly because we are deeply prideful, myself included. Give me your eyes to see the hurting and your compassion to help them and do what is right, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.
 

What is The Role of an Elder?

appoint elders in every town… (Titus 1:5).

In essence, what makes someone qualified to be an elder? Is it a man with a strong presence in the church? Is it always the senior pastor, who by default receives such a title because of his position in the church or is it the man who has learned to be a servant? Humbling sacrificing his life to lead, love and protect others.
 
I believe sometimes, in the church, we have a true misunderstanding of what this role actually looks like. You see, when I was growing up, my father served as the primary protector and provider of our home. Yes, my mother served in ways as well, but we knew that it was dads strength that we leaned into for our family. You see, when he was strong, leading with humility and love, so were we.
 
Therefore, the role of an elder isn’t far off from the way my dad led within our home. An elder is not a man whose harshness or fear runs the roost, no, he is a man who has learned the art and grace of humility. He has learned the value of gentleness, patience and love. His courage is not shown in how he protects the church to preserve his own ego or guard his own fear, but in how he protects her from things that will cause those within the body harm.
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I remember when I was in junior high, my dad cornered a young man after school because word on the street was that he was dating my sister. My father made it quite clear to this young man that his daughter was NOT supposed to be dating and that he was NOT to date his daughter. You see, my Father was protecting his daughter, because he loved her and longed to shepherd her from anything that could cause her harm.
 
But, what about elders who lead out of a place of insecurity? What about those men who see the church, not as a place to protect the vulnerable, weak, abused and mistreated, but as a building to brag about? These men will never actually help protect people, but will only protect their own egos. They are dangerous men who cause harm within the church, because they have not learned how to lead through humility.
 
Any individual who has not been humbled will cause harm against other people until they have learned that truly, their role in the Kingdom is not to have a platform, or a ministry to find their identity in. Instead, they are to act as a doctor to the sick, a soldier to the weak and a protector of the vulnerable.
 
Truly, as the gospel is lived out, sound doctrine is preserved and people are treated not as a problem, but as part of the Kingdom. When we follow this kind of thinking, our hearts can be set free in knowing that the church is for broken people and that there are elders within that body who will seek to love, honor, cherish, guard and protect those within it. I’m so thankful for the elders in my church who lead in such a way and have shown me what true biblical eldership looks like.
 
Lord, help us all to support those who lead us, but help us as well to know that we don’t have to submit ourselves to ungodly behavior from within the church. We release any shame any church leader has tried to impress upon us and we cry out for grace and love for one another, in Jesus name, Amen.

When You’re Rejected and Abandoned By Someone You Thought Had Your Back

But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength…. (2 Ti 4:17).

Have you ever felt abandoned by someone you thought had your back? Maybe your life got messy and so instead of embracing you and loving you through it, they left, pushed you away or made it very clear that having you next to them was not something they wanted.
 
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I get that and let me tell you, it hurts. I took great comfort in knowing that truly, Jesus understands. He too was abandoned by those who claimed to be some of His closest followers. When life got difficult for Jesus, His disciples operated not out of faith, but out of their fear and in doing so, left the King of Glory to struggle and suffer alone.
 
The Apostle Paul understands such rejection as well. He says, “At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me.”(2 Tim 4:16) When life gets hard, sometimes people leave, not because there’s something wrong with you, but simply because they’re choosing to allow fear to grip and direct their heart instead.
 
Paul and Jesus both chose not to retaliate, get angry or seek revenge. They chose instead to entrust their situations to God and allow Him to avenge them. I know what you’re thinking though, what about those people who hurt you and abandoned you? Is God just going to let them get away with that?
 
Here’s what I have learned as I have wrestled with God on the very same question.
 
It’s none of my business before God to know the answer to that question. In fact, it shouldn’t even concern me. You see, when Joseph was forgotten and mistreated by his brothers he chose to bless them when he had the power to destroy them. He made the decision to allow God to avenge his situation. Because of Joseph’s faithfulness to the Lord, God raised him up, blessed his life greatly and brought restoration between he and his brothers. Why? Because Joseph forced them to see their sin? No, because overtime God revealed their sin to them, bringing them to repentance. Joseph remained quiet and faithful and God did the work.
 
So I know what you’re thinking, how can I let all of this go? Only by His grace. That’s it. You cannot be free from something you keep holding onto. Set it free and watch the Lord work for you on your behalf. Let His grace fill your life with love that only comes from His heart to yours as you entrust every situation, pain and hurt to His love.
 
Lord, I entrust my life to you. I release those who have hurt me and I speak blessing over their life. I pray for their repentance and for restoration between us. I know that you can accomplish that. In the meantime, I rest in your grace knowing that in your hands, my life is safe, protected, guarded and redeemed, in Jesus name, Amen.

Persecution: Prepare For Battle

everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted… (2 Ti 3:12).

Friends, get ready for battle. A time is coming, if it hasn’t yet, when you will face some type of persecution. It is a guarantee that we, as Christians, will face deep, extremely unjust and unfair persecution in this life. The challenge we are faced with is to not give into things like bitterness and begin to harbor resentment towards the persecution or persecutors we face in this life.
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You see, life is not about the hardships. Instead, I believe it’s about what the hardship reveals about us that still needs to grow and change. Have you ever felt like God was unfair in the midst of your troubles? Have you ever felt like God was mean, vindictive or cruel because of what you’re walking through?
 
Maybe that’s just been me who’s wrestled with such thoughts, but let me remind you that your circumstances were never meant to be the focal point. The point is that God is using your circumstances to grow and shape you into a new creation. He used the Red Sea, the prison cell and the cross to reveal something about the heart of mankind that needed His renovation. Therefore He too is using our circumstances to reveal areas within our lives that still need to grow and change.
 
If I have believed something wrong about God, those wrong thoughts of Him always come rushing to the surface when persecution hits. Now I have the choice to choose what I will do with what I have believed. Will I lay it down to take up His truth or will I stay wallowing in my erroneous thoughts of Him? I don’t know about you, but I want to live differently. I want to rest in His great love for me, even in the midst of great trouble and persecution.
 
Lord, help me to see the good things you are doing in my life. Whenever hardship comes, may I learn to trust fully in you instead. I surrender every thought to you that comes not from your throne room, but from the depths of the grave sent to take me down into destruction. Lord, please, make me more like you, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Running in Circles of Worry

but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. …(Is 40:31).
Recently, my mind has been doing some mental gymnastics as I wrestle through thinking about the future. If I could be quite honest I love knowing what’s coming. I love knowing the plan so that I can execute fully and with excellence. But, God is challenging me in this present season to let go of that and to trust Him with the unknown. All of this worry has really just started to wear me out. I’m realizing that what I truly need is more rest in the Lord so that I might hope in Him.
Sometimes it feels like my mind runs in the same circles of worry and what if. What if this doesn’t happen, what if things don’t go right, what if I __________________. It’s usually the same bout of worry that gets run through my mind throughout the day. The enemy has a crafty way of setting those messages on repeat with the hopes that eventually we’ll cave and give in to our fear instead of trusting in the Lord to see us through.
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When I played sports one of our goals was to wear down our opponent. Once their legs were tired, it wasn’t long after that when their minds went too and they started making decisions they wouldn’t have made. This is the devil’s tactic against us. You see, the only way to be set free from all of this is to stop playing his game. You see, we have the upper hand through Christ. When we start letting Christ play through us, our strength is renewed and our enemy is defeated as we wear the victors crown.
Lord, I long to run in great victory with you. I release my fears and worries today. I don’t want to play games with the enemy in my thought life. I want to rest instead in your love and let Jesus play through me for His glory. Use my life to draw others towards you today, I pray in Jesus name, Amen.

When Worry Keeps From Rest

when you are on your beds,

search your hearts and be silent…. (Ps 4:4).

I think David understood something about most of us as he offers up this prayer to the Lord in the Psalms. He understood how often we lie in bed, not singing songs of praise to the Lord or resting quietly in deep, abiding trust, but instead, to worry. I don’t know about you but I have spent many nights lying awake in bed, wondering and worrying about something. Keeping me from the rest that my soul needs.
 
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David prays that when our head hits the pillow that we might be silent. You see, this is where the Lord’s grace and His rest meets us as we learn to trust Him and let go. Sometimes it feels lonely lying there, worrying about one thing after another, but if we would be willing to release our worries to the Lord, we would find great company in His love and rest for our souls.
 
Why does David say to search our hearts? Because more often than not we allow wrong ideas about God or our situation to guide our thoughts and emotions. As we search our hearts and ask the Lord to meet us there, we can know that He’ll reveal to us something we have believed about Him that is wrong. We can now choose to release and repent to Him all of those things we have concerned ourselves with that are not of Him.
 
Lord, may my sleep be restful because you are a divine resting-place. When I lay awake because of worry may I learn to set that aside to take up your grace instead. Thank you, Father, that you are in control and I can trust you, in Jesus name, Amen.