It’s Time to Cancel Some Debts

you must cancel debts…(Duet 15:1)

Oh, beloved, it’s time to cancel some debts.
 
I know its hard, but it’s only hurting you. Trust me, I get it. I know the pain of dealing with betrayal, abandonment, and rejection. I know how easy it can be to let your mind run to a bad place when you think about that person who hurt you and won’t repent. Gosh, that’s easy. But, if the Chrisitan life were easy, we wouldn’t need God much would we?
 
It’s hard. It’s hard because we carry things with us we shouldn’t. It’s hard because we have a difficult time setting people, situations, and circumstances free. It’s hard because instead of canceling debts we’d much rather hang on tight, not because we know its good for us, but because we want to see that person suffer.
 
There, I said it. We wrongfully want them to experience the same level of hurt and pain they caused us. Oh beloved, please, set that free. Cancel that debt, trust me, it’s only hurting you.
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Father, help us to set things free. We want justice, but sometimes, not for pure reasons, but for selfish ones. In the depth of our sin and anger, we want others to suffer as we have. Please forgive us. Help us instead, as we cry out for mercy, to speak blessing over their life instead. By your grace today, we cancel all debts and entrust our whole selves to you, in Jesus name, Amen.

The Pain of an Un-Reconciled Relationship

 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift….(Mt 5:23–24).

Biblical reconciliation is paramount in the life of believers. Without it, the church will continue to divide herself because of conversations that should have been had but never did. This saddens me deeply that we do not pursue biblical reconciliation more often. I believe it saddens the heart of Jesus as well as His church takes the easy road and divides herself even further and further from one another.
 
Jesus takes this issue so seriously that He says we must value reconciliation over serving within the church. In fact, He says that before we offer our gifts to Him, we must first be reconciled to those with whom we have an offense.
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This takes hard work and humility, but it must be done. It takes a willingness to have a conversation that no one wants to have. It also takes two parties willing to admit that maybe they messed up and need to come with a heart of understanding for how they hurt that individual.
 
I’m not sure who may have sinned against you, or who you have sinned against, but I know this for sure until we practice this biblical principle we will never experience true freedom. Why? Because, in my life, those unreconciled relationships still stay with me in my heart and mind. They’re still there because I very often reminded of the divide between us. Maybe you know what I’m talking about because you experience that same inner turmoil over that division too. It is true that some may reject our desire to reconcile, but this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t first extend the invitation. We must be willing to take the first step leaving the rest up to the Lord.
 
I continue to pray, with hope, that in time, grace, hope, and humility will win out and these relationships in my life will be made whole once again.
 
Father, I need your grace at work in my life. Help me to practice deep humility. May I always be ready to forgive those who have hurt me and ask for others’ forgiveness if I have sinner against them. Lord, please, help me on my journey. Help me as I seek to follow you, in Jesus name, Amen.

I Don’t Always Like It When Jesus Asks Me to Share What I Have With Others

Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same…(Lk 3:11).

I really don’t like it when Jesus asks me to share things that are much too close to my heart. Silly things really. Temporal things that at the end of the day just don’t matter, but for some reason, I find comfort in holding them close.
 
I don’t really like that about myself and I’m working on letting go of all those things I hold too dear so I can better give of myself to Jesus and others. You see, we can never fully give what God has asked of us if we hold within our hearts the idols that have weaseled their way in and silenced our generosity.
 
Have you ever told God no or been like me and just put up a wall when the thought of sharing what you have comes into your mind? What I have disciplined myself to do to combat this is quiet myself before the Lord and really ask of Him what He actually wants. I recognize that I must put down my walls and come to Him with open hands.
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We will take closes fist with us to the grave, but we will never hold the hand of others who need the love of God if we do not repent of our idols and come to God with open hands.
 
I hate that visual picture because I see how often I’ve come with closed fists instead of open hands. Only Jesus can soften our grasp. Truly, He is the giver of all good gifts. Everything belongs to Him. He has simply asked me to be a good steward of what He has entrusted unto me, ready to share it at a moment’s notice, trusting Him with the end result.
 
Lord, make me new. Change me from the inside out. Grow me up in you and capture my heart. I surrender those things I hold too close. God, I want to be immensely generous with them. Grow me in this, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

I Finally Decided To Stop Hurting Other People

Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger,

in whose hand is the club of my wrath!… (Is 10:5).

Has your poor behavior, selfishness or bad decisions ever deeply hurt someone else? Mine has. I hate that, but it’s true and as I look back on my younger years I see it more often than I care to admit.
 
You may have heard this popular catchphrase recently, “You do you.” I think this phrase is so dangerous at its root. I can look back on all the times that “I did me” because it was what was best for me or its what I felt like doing or I just wasn’t really considering the other person and it deeply hurt them. Yeah, maybe you do you isn’t the best idea after all. Maybe that kind of thinking just perpetuates the problem that we all have to begin with- a deep struggle to not be selfish.
 
Now that I’ve walked many paths in my life that have ended in me hurting someone else I am more aware and willing to lay down myself so that I can finally stop hurting people. As the old adage goes, “hurt people, hurt people.” Therefore, I must be willing to do the hard work of emotional and spiritual healing in my life with Jesus if I’m ever going to get to a point in my life where I stop acting so terribly selfish.
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I’ve seen this new river at work in my heart since coming to this realization a few years ago. It’s a flowing stream of God’s love filling me as it washes over my heart and mind I’ve seen it now become the river that feeds other people in my life with things like goodness, grace, and mercy. Although I’ve seen this growth, I must constantly be aware of the deep selfishness in my life that at any time could rear its ugly and take me captive once more down the paths of my past.
 
Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly in my weakness so that Christ’s power might rest upon me. You see, beloved, that’s what you need. You need His heart alive in you. Only then, when a river of God’s love is flowing freely through you can you shower others with the beautiful and overwhelming love of God. Thanks be to God that He redeems the messes of our lives and changes us into new and different people.
 
Father, I confess to you that I have a great need for more of your mercy. I am lost without your grace. I will always turn to serve myself, if not for your Holy Spirit at work in me. Abba, I surrender myself to you so that I might encourage and strengthen others through the grace that I have found in you, in Jesus name, Amen.

A Safe Place To Land

Each will feed on the flesh of their own offspring:…(Is 9:20).

I often wonder how much of what we’re doing is not actually helping the younger generations, but hurting them. Are our parenting, church programs, extracurricular and sports activities truly accomplishing what we hope they would? Do we even know what that purpose is? Do we hold a true vision for our parenting, churches, and extracurriculars or are we just coasting without vision and direction for the lives of those we are leading?
 
Is our goal really just to help our children become productive members of society who get a job someday or attend college to pursue a degree in something they might not actually end up using? Is that truly the vision of what God has called us to as people who invest in young people? Could it be that there is something bigger at hand? Maybe something counter-cultural?
 
There is one thing that Jesus did, time and time again that I am constantly and consistently struck by. He took time out to simply be with people. He made Himself present to them. He was never in a hurry and He was never doing things out of a need to look good to others. I wonder how much of our investment in young people is truly lived out of a place of rest?
 
As a child, honestly, the things I treasured most were not all my athletic accomplishments, school achievements or whatever else was filling my life. What I valued and treasured most were the adults in my life who were safe people. People I could trust. People I knew had my back. People I could go to when life was hard.
 
Sure, softball, basketball or church might have introduced me to those people, but the game or event was simply an invitation to enter into a relationship with someone who could help me grow, becoming a safe place for me. The more authentic and real they were, the more I was drawn to them. Not because they had something I wanted to climb some sort of ladder, but because they were a safe spot to land amidst a chaotic and busy world.
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I hope someday to be that for my child. I long to be a safe place to land for her and introduce her to others who would be the same for her. Becoming a safe place requires sacrifice, humility and hard work. It means we must teach ourselves to be present with people, sharing and enjoying each moment with them because, THEY MATTER. This is the kind of ministry Jesus shows us and that is the kind of life that I want to live.
 
Father, it is so easy for me to not be fully present with people. Sometimes I just want to be focused on myself. I want to hit the easy button and prop my feet up and spend more time doing things for me. Oh Lord, please forgive me for my selfish actions and make me more like you, becoming a safe place for others to land, in Jesus name, Amen.

What My Blind Spots Reveal About My Heart

…in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates…(Dt 12:31).

The other day I had to ask myself, “Heather, why do you place so much importance on this in your life?” Truth be told it’s really about trying to hang onto control for me. It’s about a deep-seated fear in my life that I’m still wrestling through with Jesus. It’s something that I struggle to trust God with and have or most of my life.
 
If you have a blind spot, an area of discontentment in your life you’ll do and say things in order to protect it or somehow seek to constantly satisfy it. It’s easy for me to see others live out of their discontentment, but I’ll rationalize and justify my own. Mostly because in the back of my mind I’m trying to convince myself that I’ve got a good handle on this thing. Truth be told though, it controls my thoughts throughout most of the day. It’s something that as much as I wish I had a good grip on and had a healthy relationship with I know that’s not always the case.
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Has your idol ever kept you from engaging in deeper relationships with others? Has it ever stolen away your joy and peace with God? Has it taken precedence over spending time with Jesus? Mine has. Our unwillingness to let go and seek refuge and contentment in the Father is really about control. It’s about a rebellious heart that doesn’t trust God.
 
Therefore, I’m asking Jesus for a different heart because I don’t want to be controlled by things that only steal my joy and contentment in Christ. I want to walk not in my blind spots, but in my freedom. Truly, it’s there that I find rest for my soul that so often seeks refuge in all the wrong places.
 
Lord, you satisfy the thirsty soul. You are so good. Cleanse me now through the power of Jesus. May my heart long for you. May I be forever satisfied in your love, and not my idols, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Feast on His Word

observe everything I command you….(Dt 12:14).

The Lord instructed Israel to observe everything He commanded them. However, in order to do this, they must know and understand His ways. They must be so connected to the Word of God that it becomes one of their greatest joys and deepest delights.
 
I often wonder how much of God’s heart we have lost because we do not know His word. Truly, it is one of the deepest treasures we could ever hold within our hands. It is life and peace to the wanderer and it is joy for the heart that seeks rest.
 
How then, can we follow God without knowing His word, hungering and thirsting for it as our very life breathe? We can certainly try to live the Christian life, but we will only be running at a slow pace without the sustenance and power of the Father leading us as we grow and change.
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There’s something about His word that has become my daily joy and delight. I long to know it, but I know I have so much further to go when it comes to making it my passion. I have not even begun to scratch the surface of how great it is for my life.
 
Dear Christian, just as the devout Jews of Jesus day made the word of God a daily practice I would implore you to drink from it in the same life-giving way. They memorized, meditated and studied Scripture as if their very lives depended on it. I wonder if we a desperate in the same way for His word? I know I’ve got a long way to go when it comes to having the same kind of passion. I get easily distracted by small things or things that wrongfully have my heart instead of feasting on the word of God. I need a changed heart and I’m asking God to change me so that I might long more for Him.
 
Oh Lord, change me. I long to know your word in a way that brings power into my life. The power that breaks chains, strongholds, and addictions. God, grow me to be more like Jesus. Help me to choose your word as the source in which I feast upon instead of my idols, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.