forgiveness

In the Moment

Yesterday, I enjoyed my first day of snowboarding for this season. I really like snowboarding because it’s the sequence of lots of exhilarating moments strung together over the course of a day. Yesterday was particularly enjoyable because my drive to the slopes was filled with interesting podcasts and I could sense Holy Spirit’s presence in the car and talking with me through these podcasts. The enjoyment continued when I strapped on my board and pointed it down the slope, reminding myself that this is a warm up run and not the Olympics. I had a quick adrenaline rush when I made a sharp turn, caught an edge and almost biffed it, but I caught myself before the crash! I found more moments of pleasure enjoying the spectacular scenery, breathing crisp and fresh air, going really fast without getting injured, along with some quiet reflection on the lift going up the mountain for another run.

While I’m grateful for lots of continuous moments of pleasure yesterday, I’ve also been reading about Absalom, the son of David. And reading about him, shows me a man who had lots of continuous moments of pain, anger, stress, dissatisfaction, disappointment and rejection. I’d encourage you to read about him in 2Samuel, to see a person who lived in continuous moments of pain.

We can observe these moments of pain in Absalom’s life in how he responded to his sister, Tamar, after she was raped by their half brother. Absalom told Tamar to stay in his house and he would look after her, but he never said word one to their half brother, Amnon, for two years. After these two years, Absalom threw a party as a convenient context to kill Amnon. Absalom’s behavior and choices show me a man who lived in continuous moments of anger and revenge.

These moments of pain continued for Absalom as he was exiled for two years from his dad, David, for killing Amnon. Upon returning to Jerusalem, Absalom still didn’t see his dad for another two years, likely perpetuating more moments of hurt, rejection and disconnection. Once Absalom was accepted by his dad, David the king, it’s still obvious that Absalom stays in his continuous moments of pain, because he plots for some years to win the heart of Israel and displace his dad as king.

I would suggest that the culmination of these painful moments happened when Absalom declared himself as king, David ran for his life and Absalom began a war against his dad to position himself as Israel’s king. The end of Absalom’s life of continual tragic moments is when he gets caught in a tree, swinging by his hair and David’s army commander throws spears into Absalom’s heart to kill him.

To me, this story is an epic tragedy, portraying a life stacked full of tragedies, pain, destruction, isolation and grief. While I’m sure that Absalom had some good moments over the course of his life, it seems to me that he became swallowed by the bad moments such that his life became a continuous bad moment and he perpetuated the bad with his hurtful choices.

When I think about how this applies to us, we will have good moments and bad moments in our lives. If we choose to live in the bad moments, we run the risk of getting sour and disillusioned, resulting in hurt to ourselves and others. Additionally, watching Absalom’s choices is a vivid reminder that I actively choose forgiveness whenever I’m hurt. I’m also grateful that God gives us good moments, like my snowboarding day ☺

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, enemies to intimacy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Having Jesus Relationships

I just finished a really wonderful phone call & I’m enjoying the settled & exciting residue of that conversation. As I’m thinking about it now, I’m recognizing God’s fingerprints on both the chat & this friendship.  To recognize & appreciate God friendships, here are a few pointers:

  • differences are delightful but conformity is bland.  Enjoy the journey to discover different perspectives & ways of doing things!
  • trust and transparency are interdependent.
  • communicate for depth & connection, not just information
  • keep forgiveness as a core priority, fresh and authentic
  • pray over your friendships to discern God friendships and natural friendships

David & Jonathon are a great model for a God friendship!  Feel free to read about this friendship for some interesting insights – 1 Samuel 18-20.

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, values, watch, 0 comments

That’s INCREDIBLE!!!

We have a seemingly insatiable appetite for stuff that’s spectacular, miraculous, outrageous, unexplainable and supernatural.  To this end, we are often mesmerized by miracles, scintillated by supernatural, fascinated by phenomenal and entranced by enigmas.   We revel in God’s supernatural intervention in the impossible and rightfully so!

At the same time, let’s also have awe and gratitude for stuff in our lives that’s not quite so riveting, but essential nonetheless.  When we’re patient, forgiving, encouraging, selfless, . . . . demonstrating genuine love, let’s celebrate that God has done something supernatural in and through us!  God’s work deserves gratitude, recognition and applause even when it’s not quite so scintillating or dazzling!

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Posted by Sarah in Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Wrestling with Forgiveness

Doing forgiveness is more difficult than talking about it.  Full stop.

And yet, it’s one of the only cause and affect activities Jesus talks about, based on Matt 6:14.  This is where Jesus says that if we forgive others, our Heavenly Father will forgive us.  And Lord knows that I needs heaps of forgiveness!  I suspect you might need alot of forgiveness as well 🙂

So what does it look like when we don’t forgive?  Here are a few things for your consideration.  When we don’t forgive, we:

  • nurse and rehearse the offense / wound in our thoughts & other people who will sympathize with our pain
  • look for opportunities to lash out or pay back the hurt
  • refuse to let the person “off the hook” or recognize and accept God’s grace for them

At the same time, when we forgive it doesn’t mean that we:

  • position ourself to get repeatedly hurt
  • excuse, dismiss or ignore the hurtful behavior
  • continually bring up the offense with the person who was hurtful

Even though forgiveness can be tricky, we need to be forgiving people and we need to keep our forgiveness fresh!

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 1 comment

The Jesus Way

“Caught in the very act!” These were the words of the Jewish leaders when they interrupted Jesus’ teaching with an adulterous woman. Ultimately, Jesus told the woman that He didn’t condemn her, to go her way & sin no more.

“We don’t have enough bread to feed this mass of people.” These were the words of Jesus’ disciples when He told them to feed the crowd. Ultimately, Jesus asked what they had, started with that & multiplied from there.

“Jesus wept.” This was Jesus’ response to seeing the intense grief and mourning from Lazarus’ death. Ultimately, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, after conversing with his sisters who were deep in the throes of loss.

The Jesus Way, which we would do well to follow, includes these things:

  • the absence of judgment and the abundance of forgiveness
  • bless the provision instead of cursing the lack
  • being present in grief and pain rather distracted or numb

Let’s do the Jesus Way in our daily living, which is ultimately the Way of Genuine Love!

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Read the Ingredients

I discovered a power bar that I really like, for the simple reason that I can read & understand the ingredients.  There are no complicated words, chemical compounds, multi-syllable mysteries nor contrived nutritional concotions.  These power bars are really straightforward:  egg whites, almonds, dates and peanut butter (or something to that affect).  It’s nice to recognize the ingredients on a package instead of trying to decipher words & find the commas ,)

In the same way, we would be wise to consider what’s inside of each of us:  what we think about and allow into our hearts affects what we do & say.  When we ruminate on being selfish, allowing judgment & unforgiveness to reside in our thoughts / heart, when we let bitterness & resentment to run amuck in our emotions, let’s be abundantly clear that such hurtful ingredients will taint our external behaviors / interactions.  Maybe this is why it’s so important that we do what Paul says in Phil 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, values, watch, 1 comment

What Trumps Judgment?

 

I’ve been around the church world for most of my life, so I’ve met some very interesting people, seen unusual things and experienced a plethora of human and supernatural events.  Many people in the church world are nothing less than pure pleasure and altogether phenomenal.  Some people, not so much and that’s the rub.

It seems that we want Christians to be consistently kind, loving and prefect.  When we get to heaven, I’m sure our flaws and foibles will be smoothed out, along with our dysfunctions, shortfalls and sins.  In the meantime, how should we deal with being judgmental, hostility & intolerance, not only in the church, but also in the world where we live?

This morning, I read James 2:15 and the end of the verse was a sobering confrontation for me in how I deal with the judgmental stuff:  Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Of course I want all the mercy I can get, but I would be wise to be liberal with mercy because judgment has a way of coming back like an abrasive and hurtful boomerang 🙂

Some food for thought in the middle of our week 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, enemies to intimacy, Genuine love, grow, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, values, watch, 0 comments

selective listening

Have you ever had one of those conversations where someone said something insensitive to you & you didn’t know if or how to respond?  This morning I was chatting with a lovely group of ladies & someone said something to me that was kind of zingy & I found myself suspended in that moment trying to figure out what to do.  Having given it some thought, here are some take aways I’m choosing that might help you as well:

  • benefit of the doubt:  I’m sure this person didn’t mean for her comment to be zingy & even if she did, I’m choosing to see her from a positive perspective
  • forgiving:  quick is better than nursing & rehearsing which only gives my emotions a fever
  • ignore:  rather than call this person out of their comment, I decided to dismiss the comment & adjust the conversation for a different trajectory (translation:  change the subject)
  • some people just have a zingy edge:  truth be known, we can always use some help with our diplomacy skills, so it’s best just to be fully graceful with the help of the Holy Spirit & know that we are all growing, learning and improving 🙂

Happy Labor Day weekend & feel free to share this post with your friends on FB & be sure to signup by email for this blog to keep some encouragement in your inbox 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, Genuine love, grow, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, values, watch, 0 comments

The Highwire Forgiveness Journey

Forgiveness seems to get lots of approval, affirmation & acknowledgement. It’s generally held that we need to forgive & that’s a good thing. The tricky part of forgiveness isn’t the theory or “ought to” part but the actual implementing & “practice”. Let’s keep in mind that we should be forgiving & then consider a few thoughts:

*being proficient with forgiveness requires practice
*theres no lasting close relationship that doesn’t have some forgiveness worked through the fiber of the intimacy
*forgiveness can be a journey – consider Joseph’s behavior with his brothers who sold him into slavery
*constructive communication can be a helpful ingredient in the forgiveness process
*sometimes forgiveness happens one decision & even one thought at a time
*forgiveness is far better than poison, bitterness & isolation that come from unforgiveness. 
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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, Genuine love, grow, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, values, watch, 0 comments

hot topic: Ferguson Protests

Most of us are aware of the decision of the Grand Jury yesterday with the case related to Michael Brown’s death, along with the resulting rioting, demonstrations and violence.  I’ve been thinking and praying about this for quite awhile & I’m extremely concerned about what is happening in St Louis.

  1. I’m concerned because there has obviously been a problem that’s been growing there for quite awhile and Michael Brown’s death and the resulting Grand Jury decision is possibly  the match that has ignited such a violent outburst of anger and frustration.
  2. I’m concerned because our nation has had a tumultuous journey in resovling ethnic conflicts.
  3. And I’m concerned to my core because the idea that violence can solve injustices has never proven to be a constructive road for progress and resolution.

mlk-2 When you look at history in the last century, some of our best leaders who were catalysts for constructive change in very unjust situations include:  Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.  As we commit to pray for Ferguson and the construtive resolution to this area, let’s consider the wise words of Martin Luther King Jr:  “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate;  only love can do that.”

May Jesus help us to bring peace where there is strife, love for hate, restoration for destruction and reconcilation for isolation.

 

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, Genuine love, grow, hot topic, living, prayer, values, watch, 8 comments