I Was Wrong

thYBQHQ7S5Have you ever noticed that there are not many people these days admitting when they are wrong? I see lots of  people in the news media pointing fingers and placing blame but rarely do I hear someone utter the words “I was wrong”.  Take for instance our government – have you ever seen so much name calling and accusations as we see between the political parties that are responsible for running our country?

And what about celebrities caught in scandals? They are masters at spinning their story to make it appear as if they are just an innocent victim of someone else’s wrong doing. Even when they do get caught completely red handed, their apologies are often half-hearted and insincere. Think Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton and Paula Deen.

th27YG3WKMThe problem with never accepting responsibility for your mistakes is that you can never receive forgiveness for something until you are first willing to admit that you were wrong. So you spend your life carrying around the guilt and shame of your wrongdoing because you are unwilling to take the blame for it. Placing the blame on someone else is the enemy’s way to keep us from the freedom of being forgiven.

God never intended for us to carry the burden of our sins and believe me, it is a burden! The weight of guilt can be overwhelming. That’s why God sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins so that we may be forgiven and set free from the burden of sin. But to receive that forgiveness and freedom we must first admit that we were wrong. If you’re blaming others, then it places the responsibility on them to seek forgiveness for something you’ve done. You can’t receive forgiveness if someone else is seeking it in your place so you continue to drag along the ball and chain of guilt.

thL00ECGNONobody causes us to sin. It’s our choice. So why is it so hard to say “I was wrong”? There are many reasons why we find it difficult – pride, shame, embarrassment, and selfishness to name a few. Sometimes we think it’s understood by the person we’ve hurt and that we shouldn’t have to admit our wrongdoing. Other times we think too much time has passed and it’s pointless. The reality is that until we humble ourselves, go to God to admit our sin, and seek His forgiveness, we will be trapped in the enemy’s snare of unforgiveness. The longer we wait, the heavier the weight we carry and the harder our hearts become.

So what’s keeping you from admitting you were wrong? Is it worth hanging onto? Is the burden of your unwillingness to admit your mistake weighing you down? Today is the day to be set free by taking responsibility of your choices, going to God and saying these words….I was wrong, please forgive me. It’s truly that easy to experience the freedom of forgiveness. 



Do Unto Others

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Remember that one? Anyone over the age of twenty-five has surely heard their parents utter those words to them at some time or another. I know I did – not so sure I lived by them but it’s not because nobody ever said them to me. I’ve always heard that saying referred to as The Golden Rule so I figured it was just some nifty saying that a parent made up to try to make their kids play nice with other kids. It wasn’t until I was a parent myself that I found out that it actually comes from the bible (Matt. 7:12). Surely I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know that…….was I?

Today I overheard a conversation that was quite different from the Golden Rule while picking up some things in the local super center. A lady was on her phone telling who I’m guessing was her friend that she is “tired of always giving and getting nothing in return.” She went on to say that he, whoever he was, “is never going to change” and she’s “done being the only one who gives in this marriage- it’s over.” As I looked up at the woman on the phone I was saddened to see two small children in her cart. This conversation has become so common that it could have taken place anywhere, anytime in any town.

It’s become our culture’s way of thinking – What’s in it for me? Why should I bother when I’m not getting anything out of it? Nobody’s doing anything for me so why should I bend over backwards for them? I don’t care what you want – if you’re not going to give me what I want, then we’re done. You may never have heard the Golden Rule, but I can bet the farm you’ve heard someone you know or maybe even you yourself have said something similar to those comments. Many relationships today are based around this new rule that says “if I’m going to give of myself then I sure as heck better get something in return.” Oh, we want others to “do unto us” and we’re even willing to “do unto them” as long as it’s working both ways. But for many people today, the minute someone stops doing for us is the minute we stop doing for them and start planning our exit strategy. If you are married and you stand any chance of staying that way, you will have to do for your spouse during times when they are doing absolutely nothing for you. It’s a fact and it is guaranteed to happen to us all, married or not. There will come a time in your life that you will have to make a choice to continue to do for someone else who is doing absolutely nothing for you or you will choose to walk away. And it’s in that moment your choice reveals the motive of your heart. If your sole purpose for giving to and serving others is to see what you can get out of it for yourself, then you’ve missed the whole point. It’s not about you.

Jesus hung on a cross for you and me. He was beaten, spit upon and condemned of a crime for which He was completely innocent. He gave His life. And He did it all knowing that He would get nothing in return. The best we can ever offer Him in return for His selfless example of how to do unto others as we would have them to do unto us, is to love Him with all our hearts, soul, strength and mind. And, to do unto others as we truly would like for them to do unto us. Deep down we want others to love us unconditionally. We want them to be willing to give of themselves to us without expecting something in return. We want them to put us above all else in their lives. We want them to not just tell us but to show us how much we mean to them.  We want them to sacrifice things that are important to them in order to spend time with us. We want them to show their love for us by protecting us both physically and emotionally. We want them to have our back and to stand up for us when we come under attack. We want them to lead our homes and our families with honor and strength. We want them to be an example of strong values to our children. We want them to model to our children how to love your spouse sacrificially and unconditionally. We want them to be slow to anger and quick to forgive. We want them to be just like Jesus.

And yet. Why are we not willing to be like Jesus? Why are we so unwilling to love them like Jesus loves them? Why do we see every fault and point out every mistake when we should be seeing their God-given potential and calling out the greatness in them that God created them for? Why are we so quick to accuse and slow to forgive? Why are we so unwilling to give and so willing to take? Why are we so focused on our needs and so incapable of meeting the needs of others when there’s no reward for us? Why do we look to our relationships to meet our needs when we should be looking to Jesus as the example of sacrificial giving. Why do we keep score and ask “what have you done for me lately” instead of doing everything we can to point others to Christ by serving them without expectation of reciprocation? Why are we so quick to remember every wrong of those who hurt us and so quick to forget all Jesus did for us when He gave His life on the cross? Why do we ask God to change our spouses instead of crying out to Him “Lord! Change me!!”? You may never get what you want from whoever you are giving to. But when you serve them with the motive of showing them the same love that Christ has shown you, you will find the strength to continue and your life will be forever changed because of it.

It’s time to stop making a list in your mind of all the things you want changed about the person in your life who you think owes you something. Start asking God to show you His list of all the things in your life that need changing so that you can be more like Him. The Golden Rule is not just a nifty saying made up by parents – it’s God’s wisdom He shared with us through His word because He knew there would be times we’d forgot, times we’d become resentful, times we’d want to give up. And He knew in those times we’d need a reminder – if you want someone to do unto you, the key is to do unto them without expectation and with the motive of simply serving them. And God knew that when we do, just like when Jesus did on the cross, lives will be changed – starting with our own.

Nobody Loves Me

There is a worship song that says “Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me.” It’s one of my favorites because it’s a reminder that the measure by which I am loved is solely based on what God did for me when He sacrificed His son on the cross. Because of God’s love for me and His forgiveness of my sins, I am no longer separated from Him and I have the assurance of spending eternity with my Father in Heaven. It is the litmus test by which I measure whether I am loved or not. The definition of litmus test is this: a test in which a single factor (as an attitude, event, or fact) is decisive. The determination of whether I am loved or not is solely based on the fact that God loved me so much that He gave His one and only Son so that everyone (including me) who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. That is the basis for which I am loved. Not whether I feel loved or not. Not whether someone who I thought loved me told me they no longer do. Not that someone who was supposed to love me and take care of me didn’t. The reason I know that I am loved is because God said so in His Word.

But many people determine whether they are loved or not based on how fulfilling their personal relationships are in their lives. They “feel” loved when someone treats them well and meets their emotional needs. But as soon as that person fails to do so, they begin to feel unloved. They falsely believe that when someone rejects them or disappoints them that they are no longer loved. While it may be true that they are no longer loved by the individual, it does not mean they are not loved. The only love that will never fail to meet our physical, emotional and spiritual needs is God’s love. People will undoubtedly let you down, but God’s love is unfailing.

Right now there may be someone in your life who is failing to make you feel loved. Or maybe someone you thought was there for you has given up on you and you feel the hurt of rejection and disappointment. Maybe your spouse has run out on you and you feel alone and think nobody loves you. But there is One who loves you more than anyone here on this earth can ever love you. And He will never leave you nor forsake you. His love is unconditional, everlasting, and unfailing. His love is healing, comforting and liberating. His love has no limits and knows no bounds. His love is giving but it won’t cost you. His loves brings clarity to your confusion and light to your darkness. His love is pure, forgiving and redeeming. His love covers you and strengthens you in times of weakness. His love drives out fear and builds up faith. His love is immeasureable and secure. His love cleanses and restores. His love is protective and inviting. His love fulfills and completes. His love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on you.

Make ‘Em Pay

Forgiving someone means accepting their apology, right? Well, yes. But there’s a second part to forgiveness that many of us leave out, especially us ladies. We tend to forgive but we also tend to make sure that the one we’ve forgiven doesn’t soon forget their wrong against us. We are quick to forgive because we don’t want to carry the guilt of withholding forgiveness from them. But we want to ensure that there is still a price to pay – that they have to earn that forgiveness in some way.

The problem with that way of thinking is that it doesn’t fit the definition of forgiveness, true forgiveness – the kind of forgiveness that Jesus died on the cross for. Forgiveness means to release a person from punishment, to exempt them from penalty. When you truly forgive someone then you do not expect anything in return. It’s over. It is finished.

You see, we are often too quick to forget what Jesus did for us on the cross. Oh, we remember the part about how He forgave our sins and so we in return are willing to forgive others. But we leave out the part of what He did before He died on that cross, the part where He paid the penalty for our sins. He received the brutal beating and punishment that our sin deserved. He never said “I’ll forgive you, but it’s gonna cost you”. Not only does He forgive us but He also paid the cost for us. (Isaiah 53:5)

Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you have to forget the wrong that was done to you. But it does mean that you do not expect them to earn your forgiveness. If you forgive someone you forfeit your right to impose a penalty on them. When you forgive them you relinquish the need to make them pay for what they did to you by withholding affection or constantly reminding them of just how bad they hurt you. Many times as women when we forgive someone we falsely believe that we have the “right” to do what we want, spend what we want or act like we want without consequence because after all, we earned it because of what they did to us. In true forgiveness there is no penalty phase. There is no set time period that we get to treat the one who hurt us with an attitude of revenge while we practically dare them to react negatively because we’ve decided they deserve the harsh treatment as payment for their wrong.

What we all deserve is everything that Jesus endured on the cross on our behalf. But when we seek His forgiveness we receive it – no strings attached. We can’t earn it, we can’t buy it with flowers or gifts and there’s no certain time period that He gives us the cold shoulder until He decides we’ve finally earned full forgiveness. He forgives our sins the moment we repent. The moment we seek His forgiveness with an attitude of Godly sorrow, it’s done. There’s no penalty phase because the penalty was paid in full for our sins.

In response to the cross, the very least we can do is to fully forgive others who sincerely seek our forgiveness with Godly sorrow. We owe them forgiveness with no expectations of them earning that forgiveness. Those who ask for our forgiveness deserve the same forgiveness we receive from God when they do so not because they were caught doing wrong, but because they know they caused us to hurt and they never want to do it again.  Is there anyone in your life you need to forgive? Is there anyone you need to completely forgive?

20 Seconds of Insane Courage

Over the Christmas holiday my family and I went to see “We Bought a Zoo”. This was a great movie for our family and we really enjoyed it. But there was one line in the movie that I could not stop thinking about. The father, played by Matt Damon, was talking to his son and told him “All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you something great will come of it.” His family had been looking for a home and had found the perfect one. The only problem was that the house came with a zoo and he knew nothing about running a zoo. But in a moment of insane courage he decided that he and his family would purchase the house with the zoo and would figure it out as they went along.

I thought about how there are lots of things you can do in 20 seconds that takes insane courage. And many of them will reap huge benefits if you are willing to do something you never thought you would be able to do.

I thought about how I was not really that type of person. I’ve never done anything that really took insane courage. I’ve done plenty of things that required insane stupidity on my part but nothing that I could think of that would qualify as courageous.

Then God so lovingly revealed something to me. I had done something. Many years ago an amazing teacher of mine shared her faith and what God had done in her life. She shared that she had accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. She said that He chose to die on the cross for all of our sins so that we could be forgiven and could spend eternity in Heaven. She said that if we wanted to accept His forgiveness and to spend eternity with Him all we had to do was believe in our hearts that what she was sharing was true then raise our hands and pray a prayer asking for that forgiveness.

I was a 7th grader at the time and what my peers thought of me was crucial to my existance. I was insecure and didn’t want to be made fun of. I was terrified. But there was something in me that desperately wanted to experience the love and acceptance she spoke of. I wanted to be forgiven of all the wrong things I had done and choices I had made. I wanted to have the assurance that I would spend eternity in heaven with the One who loved me completely. I was so afraid of the consequences but in those 20 seconds of insane courage that it would take me to raise my hand I knew something great would come of it so I did it. I raised my hand and boldly chose to say “I believe”.

My life has not been perfect since that 20 seconds of insane courage. I’ve certainly had my share of ups and downs. But what happened in that moment to a scared middle-schooler forever changed my life. There has never been a moment of regret in that choice. It took courage. It took making the choice that I didn’t care what other people thought – I wanted everything that teacher told me the bible promised. I wanted to experience that kind of love and peace and joy. I wanted to change and not be the person I had become anymore. And 32 years later I still want Jesus more than anything else. It’s a choice every day that I make to follow Him and not follow my own selfish ways. But there is nothing this world can offer that will ever compare to the love of Jesus.

If you’re like I was as a scared 7th grader and you’ve heard the gospel that promises forgiveness, eternal salvation and a new life in Christ but you’re afraid of the consequences to responding, know that there is no other 20 seconds of courage decision you can make that will impact your life more than choosing to follow Jesus and make Him the Lord and Savior of your life. And the best part about it is you don’t have to step out in that decision alone. He will be right there beside you every step of the way. (Joshua 1:9). You’ve got nothing to lose and I promise you, something great will come of it.