Mature Trees

I remember the trees from 30 years ago. They were always beautiful in the spring. White blooms. Unpleasant scent. Bradford pear. That’s what they’re called. Beautiful but smelly.

I’ve begun driving by those trees again. I park near them at work. But 30 years have gone by. The trees still stand. Taller. Fuller. They produce much more shade. They have matured. They’ve reached their full potential.

I think of all the years these trees have stood lining the street. They’ve seen people come and go. They’ve weathered many a storm. Their branches have been blown by heavy gusts of wind. Their flowers have bloomed every spring and their leaves have fallen every autumn. During the summer, the leaves of those trees have provided shade for anyone walking or parking nearby. In the winter, the bare branches have cast eerie shadows in early nightfall.

They have survived the many unknowns of the past three decades. And still they stand tall and proud. Still they thrive. They’re doing their job. Stand tall. Throw shade. Beautiful blooms. Year after year. Nothing changes for them. Yet everything changes. And still they stand.

Oh. They aren’t invincible. They can be beaten. They can succumb to an invasion of an incurable disease. They can be struck by lightening without notice. They can come down. You see. Bradford Pear trees are perfectly symmetrical and grow in a beautiful shape, yet they are structurally weak. Apparently, these trees are a threat. But who knew?

Yeah. Mature trees are vulnerable. There could be an internal weakness that is unseen by the human eye. A slight crack down the long trunk. Perhaps they are dying of thirst and no one knows. An act of God can take them down without warning. There could be unknown root damage discovered when hope is long gone. Or possibly the damage is due to manmade machines. One never knows what lies beneath the surface of outward beauty.


The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord , they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green. Psalm 92:12-14


The beauty seen on the outside can cover a multitude of sins. Many weaknesses. Many faults. Many fears and uncertainties. Many secrets. But once the outer shell is cracked wide open, the unknown comes spilling out. The truth comes out. It isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always redeemable. Or is it?

Maturity takes hard work and years of determination. Perseverance. Discipline. Cutting off branches that don’t produce fruit. Pruning fruitful branches for even more fruit.

Suckers can drain the life from the tree. They zap water and nutrients from the main tree. They’re unhealthy for the tree. And they’re just plain ugly.

Christian faith is similar to trees. True maturity takes hard work. Cutting out the branches of our lives that aren’t fruitful. Pruning the fruitful talents and skills given by God. And suckers can drain the life out of people. Poor habits. Abusive relationships. Deadly addictions. They’re unhealthy and they’re plain ugly. Age isn’t necessarily a sign of maturity. Do the hard work and put in the time to study and show yourself approved.

For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong. Hebrews 5:13-14

The Goodbye Kiss

It’s all over the news this week. Mainly the Christian news. The guy who wrote a popular book 20 plus years ago has renounced the book he wrote. He no longer believes what he wrote.

What was his book? I Kissed Dating Goodbye. The book is described as an inspiring call to sincere love, real purity, and purposeful singleness. Sounds like a good thing.

Now after all these years, he’s recanted his beliefs. He says what he wrote was all wrong. He’s kissed his marriage goodbye. And he’s given his faith the kiss off. 

What changed his mind? Where did he go wrong? How did it come to this?

Oh. He was only 21 when he wrote the book. Fairly naive. Vastly inexperienced. But I’m sure he had great intentions. You know how it is. 22 years later. Real life happens. You gain life experience in work, love and faith. You question why and how and when. At times you wonder if you’ve got it all wrong or if you’re going in the right direction. But do you just throw it all away? For no good reason?

There’s a lot at stake here for the man. He’s getting a divorce. His family is falling apart. He’s left his wife. He says that significant changes have taken place in both of them over the years. That’s sure to happen to any of us. But what was it that caused him to think his marriage wasn’t worth saving? Oh. I don’t need to know the details. The fact that divorce is in the works tells me all I need to know. And it’s very sad.

He no longer believes the words he wrote. He believes he was misleading people to think that their marriage would be perfect if they followed the teaching in his book. And since it wasn’t all based on Scripture, then it must be wrong. I don’t know. I never read his book. But he’s thrown it all away. Now he’s promoting alternate lifestyles that are definitely not Scriptural.

He’s walked away from his relationship with God. And someone who has a relationship with God squarely knows what the consequences are to just walk away. And he says he doesn’t view this negatively. Does he really know what’s at stake here for him? Does he know that those who walk away from God will walk themselves right into hell? He’s got to know that. And he’s ok with it? Wow. He must really trust those people who have been advising him. He was listening to them more than he was listening to God. When did the Word of God stop being real to him? What caused him to close his spirit to the Holy Spirit?


The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? Jeremiah 17:9


And that’s the problem. Anyone who calls themselves a Christian is capable of doing what Josh Harris has done. Any of us are capable of being tricked and lied to by the enemy of our souls. Satan himself. He will make the dull look shiny. He will make the bad sound good. He will spin lies to appear as truth. He will make hell look attractive. He wants our souls.

Josh Harris isn’t the first to renounce his faith. And the sad news. He won’t be the last.

But what was it that caused him to lose his faith? That’s my question. What was it that made him decide after all these years that a relationship with Jesus Christ wasn’t worth it?

I’ve never met Josh Harris. I doubt I ever will. I’ve just read about him. His website mentions that he had conversations with people who reshaped his thinking. Who, I wonder, was he listening to? Was he seeking advice from godly people who held him accountable? Or was he listening to those who said things he wanted to hear? Who was Satan using to twist words of truth and introduce lies and confusion? It doesn’t always take much to be convinced that truth is a lie. Especially if life isn’t perfect. Because doubt and disillusionment can set in. Even for those who appear solid in their faith.

Look at King Solomon. At the beginning of his reign over Israel, God said he would give Solomon anything he asked for. So he asked God for wisdom. And he used his wisdom to give advice to other kings and queens. They would travel long distances to hear his words. And because of this, he married foreign princesses. He eventually married hundreds of women. Women who did not worship the one true God. They introduced him to their gods. and their ways. He moved from worshiping the only true God to worshiping lesser gods. False gods. His many wives turned his heart away from serving God. How did it come to this?

If we call ourselves Christians, we are in a battle for our souls. Satan is doing everything he can to trick us out of our relationship with God and into a life built on lies and deception. We have to put on the armor of God every day in order to fight the enemy. We must be prepared to fight. We must stay alert to the stop the fiery arrows of the devil. This battle is very real and very dangerous. If you believe there isn’t a fight, then you’ve already lost. Our eternity is at risk.

Tough Times

Tough times don’t last. But sometimes they do.  What happens then? Are you willing to tough it out? Or will you give up and run in the other direction? But what if God says stay put. You’re right where I want you. You have no reason to run. I’ve allowed for this season to fall on you. And I’ll lift it when the time comes. Until then, trust me.

I mean. Look at Job. His trials lasted for years. And he lost everything. Family. Home. Wealth. He had nothing but his wife and friends who gave him bad advice. Yet his faith in God never wavered. He never turned his back on God. Oh. He questioned why terrible things were happening. And he wondered when they would end. But he kept his eyes on God.

Do you actually trust God? Or do you trust yourself? Are your words always perfectly timed? Are your actions trustworthy? Are your motives pure? You aren’t God. And you know it. So stop acting as if you are.

The God who created the earth in seven days can soothe your aching heart. The God who closed the mouths of the lions can close the mouths of those who speak insults against you. The God who healed the blind man and the lame man can make you whole again. The God who opened barren wombs can heal your broken body. The God who removed the evil spirits from the beggar can heal your anxiety and fears. The God who has taken can also provide.

But what if he doesn’t? What if your enemies continue to speak falsely against you? What if your situation is never made whole? What if your broken body doesn’t mend? What if your anxious thoughts never calm? What if your ship never comes in? What if your tough time becomes a way of life?


The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. Psalms 23:1-6


She has an upcoming medical procedure. Uncertainty looms. Outcome to be determined. Fear. Anxiety. What ifs. Unknowns. Life has been good. But now. What if it isn’t? Can her faith hold her through an uncertain future? Will God be enough for her if the diagnosis is disturbing?

Someone else has had a diagnosis. A diagnosis that’s unfamiliar. Yet vaguely relieving. So now she knows what she faces. But others may view her with uncertainty. If they knew. Now she must face a path of healing that will be hard. It will take hard consistent work to regain what was lost. Can she walk that path and do the work necessary to find freedom and wholeness? Can she trust God when at times it has felt that he was far away?

Is God enough if he is all you have? When life throws a curve ball. When authorities make decisions that change the course of your life. When there’s no turning back. Is God enough for you?

God isn’t an emergency room to visit only during a crisis. God is an everyday celebration. A giver of life and a taker of it. He rules the universe. We live at his command. Only thing is. Some people don’t bow down to him. They run or stumble through life on their own power, just to find at the end, they’re lost. They’ve lived lost and it’s too late to be found. It’s only too late once the last breath has been taken. And then eternity has begun and there’s no going back. No. Going. Back.

God is enough. Even during the tough times. Even when all hope seems lost. Even when life has permanently changed. When there’s no going back. When future plans are forever altered. God’s love is still true. God’s plan is still perfect. He will see you through.

The Story of Jesus

I love old hymns. I remember singing hymns at church on Sunday mornings. Sunday evenings. Wednesday evenings. Yeah. It was a lot of church. But I learned the stories of Jesus at church. and at home. I’m not sorry about that.

One of the old hymns that has been rolling around in my head for the past week talks about the stories of Jesus.

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels in chorus,
Sang as they welcomed His birth,
“Glory to God in the highest!
Peace and good tidings to earth.”

Refrain:
Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.

Fasting alone in the desert,
Tell of the days that are past,
How for our sins He was tempted,
Yet was triumphant at last.
Tell of the years of His labor,
Tell of the sorrow He bore;
He was despised and afflicted,
Homeless, rejected and poor.

Tell of the cross where they nailed Him,
Writhing in anguish and pain;
Tell of the grave where they laid Him,
Tell how He liveth again.
Love in that story so tender,
Clearer than ever I see;
Stay, let me weep while you whisper,
“Love paid the ransom for me.”

Tell how He’s gone back to heaven,
Up to the right hand of God:
How He is there interceding
While on this earth we must trod.
Tell of the sweet Holy Spirit
He has poured out from above;
Tell how He’s coming in glory
For all the saints of His love.

The words of this hymn written by Fanny Crosby ring true. They’re taken straight from Scripture. They tell the story of Jesus. His life. His ministry. His suffering. His death. His resurrection. They are the message of God’s plan for all mankind.


I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalms 119:11


I read the Bible. I know the Bible stories. I have heard them since childhood. Oh. How I cherish those stories. But to know them and to live them is two different things. I find that I still struggle with using my words instead of God’s words. I find that I still want my way when it’s the easier way. I find that to truly live God’s way is a tough road to walk. But I know the tough road is much more fulfilling. It’s leading to eternal life even when the walk is hard. Even when mistakes are made. and unkind words are said. The story of Jesus is one of forgiveness and mercy and grace and kindness. His love is never ending. That’s what I need.

Oh. I may never perform a miracle. I may never fast in a desert. I may never be nailed to a cross. I may never be raised from the dead. But I do plan to see Jesus someday. I plan to meet him face to face. I plan to go to heaven when I have finished the race. I plan to walk on streets of gold. I will stand face to face with God to give an account of my life.

So this story of Jesus rings true to me. I trust that every word is true. I believe it for my life. This story never grows old.

The Called

They have been asked to give their lives to serve God. They have answered the call. They will lead others to follow Christ. They will preach sermons. They will lead board meetings. They will pray with those in need. They will counsel people at their lowest moments. They will serve others in ways no one knows.

They work many hours that no one sees. They are on call at all hours of the day and night. They conduct funerals and officiate at weddings. They are a part of the saddest and happiest moments of others’ lives.

Their life and that of their family is on full display to be approved or criticized, as others see fit. They’re expected to have perfect marriages and well-behaved children. It’s assumed that they handle their personal lives and finances without flaw.

They are unlicensed counselors who hear the most private life situations for a family or marriage in crisis. Everything they hear in counseling sessions must be kept private. They are expected to keep all conversations confidential.

They are human. They make mistakes. They do not live perfect lives. And when their lives are falling apart. When their marriage is hanging by a thread. When their child is the one who’s gone astray. Who do they call? Who do they trust to keep their messy lives out of the news? Who do they call in the middle of the night when hope seems lost?

When they have a moment of panic.  When they have an unconfessed sin.  When they have a hidden addiction.  When they have a raw diagnosis.  When they need wise counsel. Who do they have on speed dial?  Who can they trust with their darkest moments?  


Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. Hebrews 13:17


We expect them to know the Bible inside and out. Can they quote just the right Scripture when we need it? Can they give the most godly advice at the right time? If their sermon doesn’t hold your attention or if it rubs you the wrong way, do you stop attending church? Do you demand they run the church your way or else?

We must hope and pray that they are following God’s leading. We must trust that their relationship with God is their top priority. Above all else, they must lead the church as God leads them. Sure. They’re human. They mess up. Unless there’s evidence of wrongdoing on their part, we must trust that they are allowing God to guide them.

The thing is. We’re all called. We’re all human. But we hold them to a higher standard. They’re human, too. They make mistakes. They mess up. They’re working on their salvation one day at a time. Just like everyone else. 

Some are called to be shepherds. Some are administrators. Some are strategic thinkers and planners. Some are prayer warriors. Others are eloquent speakers. Still others offer solid teaching. And some offer wise counsel. But all are called. All are gifted. All are flawed.

What if we spent time praying for them each day. What if we spent time getting to know them. Getting to know their heart as they follow God. Getting to know their strengths and weaknesses. What if we truly trusted them to lead the church as God is leading them. What if we trusted them?

Let’s show them grace.  and trust.  and offer forgiveness.  Let’s hold them accountable.  But let’s let them lead. God will hold them accountable for their lives and their leadership. Let’s trust God.

Good and Kind

Her name is Rosie. She is a 102 pound Mastiff/Lab mix. Yes. She’s a dog. A big dog. A good dog. A gentle dog. She’s a rescue. She has a checkered past due to no fault of her own. She feels very secure with who she is. She stands up for herself. She loves her people. She protects her people.

When she is at the dog park, she loves all the dogs and wants to run and play with them. She actually likes to chase the dogs who are chasing the balls. She runs to the gate to greet anyone who enters the park. She stands up for herself when other dogs are aggressive. She lets them know that she won’t be bullied. But she always has her eye on her people. She needs to know that they are there waiting for her. But she avoids them when they’re ready to leave, because she is never ready to leave.

When Rosie is in the yard at home, she feels responsible to protect her turf. She isn’t happy with the neighbor dogs walking on her sidewalk. They’re encroaching on her property and that shouldn’t happen. According to Rosie. When she is in the house, she sits in her chair and watches the activity in the front yard. She barks out a warning if anyone is invading her space. At times she jumps on the window to make sure the potential invaders know this isn’t a safe space for them.

Since Rosie has a habit of lunging for passersby on the sidewalk, I’ve taken to given her instructions before we walk out the front door. Once her leash is on, we stop at the door for a second to slow down and relax. I want Rosie to remember to treat others with respect. I want her to know that the neighbors and their pets aren’t trying to cause trouble for her. They are just passing by. Each time we walk out the door, I give her the same command. Let’s be good. Let’s be kind. I do that in hopes that she will be good and kind to those she may run into.


Do to others as you would like them to do to you. Luke 6:31


I think about how I treat others. Do I attempt to protect my turf at all costs? Do I warn others to back off if they get too close? In the name of safety, do I keep people at arms length? Do I build that invisible wall when others try to get too close? What am I afraid of?

If I were other people, would I like the way I treat them? Sometimes my bite may be worse than my bark. And sometimes my bark is downright brutal. Is it intentional? Do I think before I speak? Do I act without considering how the other person will feel?

I like to think that I’m comfortable in my own skin. So why do I get offended easily? Can I accept the same type of criticism that so easily flies out of my mouth? I wonder if others see me as kind and thoughtful. Or do they see me as the one who speaks before she thinks.

It’s natural to want to be treated kindly. One would think it is natural to treat others kindly in return. Not so. Feelings get hurt. Conversations get interrupted. Drivers are in a hurry or they’re too slow. That one coworker sits too close and talks too loud. Are we ever really happy?

Grace is a thing I’m learning. To stop and look a little closer at the situation. Perhaps the other person just received bad news and is in a hurry for all the right reasons. Perhaps the information I’ve been given is for my ears only. Perhaps my words were more offensive than I expected or planned. Perhaps I need to step back and slow down before I enter the world each morning. Perhaps I need to stop and remind myself of the command I give Rosie.

Let’s be good. Let’s be kind.

Signature Scent

I remember when I was introduced to essential oils. The women were smelling each oil and oohing and aahing about how great each scent was. Then the bottles were passed to me. I got a whiff. It wasn’t pleasant. Each of the oils smelled awful. I couldn’t figure out why anyone would think these oils smelled good.

But I got hooked on them. Somehow. As I began reading about them and experimenting, I fell in love with them. I began using them for simple health issues. And I found that they worked. I could get rid of a headache with peppermint. I could stop the bleeding from a scratch or a cut with lavender. I could clear up an earache with melaleuca.

Now I find that I enjoy the scent of the oils. I know the good that they can do for me, and the scent is comforting. I’ve fallen in love with essential oils.

I recently started using a new oil. When I opened the bottle for the first time, I was overwhelmed by the scent. It was unfamiliar and pungent. It was a scent I didn’t like.

I began using the smelly oil as I had planned. And as I opened the bottle each morning, I would turn up my nose. It just stunk. But I continued to use it.

I’ve noticed a change, though. Within the last week or two, I don’t even notice the scent when I open the bottle. It’s become familiar and comfortable. I have become accustomed to the scent, and I’m not offended by it.

Now I can’t imagine my life without the oils. They signify life and health to me. At times, someone will smell an oil I’m wearing. They’ll ask about it. I have an opportunity to share what I know about the oil, and why I am using it.


God uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 2 Corinthians 2:14


I am a believer. I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. I have fallen in love with him, and I want to have a close personal relationship with him. I’ve read in the Bible that believers are a life-giving perfume to other believers, but an awful stench to those who don’t believe. We smell of death and doom to those who haven’t made a commitment to follow Christ.

Those who don’t believe are appalled by the scent of believers. Oh. We don’t have a distinct scent. But our relationship with God is a sour reminder that they have denied him authority in their lives. We are a reminder that they have chosen a false god over the one true God.

Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? 2 Corinthians 2:14-16

People who don’t know Christ are appalled at his scent on believers. They are repelled by it. It’s a strong offensive odor. Once they meet him and allow him into their life, the bad odor becomes a life saving aroma.

I want to be prepared to give an answer for the reason I believe if I’m ever asked. I want the aroma of Christ to become a fragrant perfume for those around me.

What is your fragrance of choice? The aroma of life or the scent of death and destruction.

Work in Progress

It started with an unexpected job layoff. Followed by 5 months of unemployment. Then a new job. Starting over is always tough.  This job in particular was tough. 

Through the tough times, and there have been many, God has never left my side. He has walked with me. At times he has carried me when my strength was gone. What I know is that he alone is God. He loves me even when I feel unlovely. Even when I doubt my ability. He is with me.

I have this unguided thought that at this age I should be close to perfect. But sadly, that isn’t so. Daily I’m faced with my faults and failures. I have to ask God daily for strength and wisdom.

This past year has been one of the toughest I’ve faced. I’ve asked God for three things each day. Empower me. Enable me. Equip me.

And he has.

I’ve never been one to speak up when I disagree with decisions at work. But somehow now I do. I’ve finally realized that my silence is agreement. If I don’t speak up, then others will assume that I will go along with their decision. Other times, I feel free to ask those hard questions. Or bring up topics that need to be discussed. As I have asked God to empower me, he has removed my fear of what others think of me. He has given me boldness to confront situations that I would usually ignore. I find that others respect my boldness in a way that I never imagined.

I find myself to be a mentor to coworkers who are struggling with the job. They come to me for help with uncertainties. They trust me. They know I won’t judge them for being insecure or for asking a multitude of questions. I asked God to enable me to fulfill his will for me in this place, and he is doing it. He gives me the strength to face my responsibilities in a way I never thought possible.

I find I am more dependent on God than I have ever been in my life. Daily I ask him to equip me for the work he has laid out for me. I know I can’t do it alone and I need his help like I never needed it before. God has given me the ability I need to do my job and to do it well. He equips me for the responsibilities for each day.


And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6


The life of obedience isn’t easy or comfortable. It’s a daily choice to walk in step with the Master Teacher. It doesn’t mean that I’ll quote Scripture to someone every day. It may mean that more often than not, I’m living out Scripture. 

There have been times during the past several months that I’ve wanted to run the other way. But in order for me to follow God’s will, I knew I must continue on the path he placed me. I’ve wanted to run. I’ve wanted to quit. But more than all, I know that I want to be true to God’s calling on my life. So I’ve stayed put. And I’ve learned that with God in control, I am able to do exceedingly more than I thought possible.

Annie Downs says to say yes to the open door. Say yes to the situations that stretch you and scare you and ask you to be a better you than you think you can be. Say yes to the movement that will only come once.

So that’s what I’ve done. That’s what I’m doing. I’m saying yes to the situations that make me uncomfortable. And I’ve found that with God’s help I can do them. I’ve learned that God actually does what he says he will do. He doesn’t lie. I just have to let go and trust him. He is faithful. And I must be faithful.

He started something good
And I’m gonna believe it
He started something good
And He’s gonna complete it
So I’ll celebrate the truth
His work in me ain’t through
I’m just unfinished

–Mandisa

Forgiveness

He had killed her family when she was a child. Mother. Father. Brother. He was in prison. He asked to speak with her. To tell her that he had changed. So she met with him. He told her that he had tried to kill himself twice. But failed. He showed her the scarred attempts. Then he told her that he had found God. In prison. He told her his mission in life was to help other prisoners find healing and forgiveness. He didn’t expect her to forgive him. But he wanted her to hear how the wrongs he had done had impacted his life.

She was beside herself. The day before her wedding she was meeting with her family’s killer. Angrily, she said she would never forgive him. She told him the one thing he could do was try to kill himself again. and succeed this time. She was spewing with anger.

This was an episode of a tv show that I watched. It caused me to think. Seeing this beautiful young woman who had been wronged. Her families lives cut short. She was living with unforgiveness in her heart. The next scene showed her walking down the aisle. Beautiful. Composed. Elegant. Ready to meet her groom. As if her life was in perfect order.

But I wondered. Her heart was still full of anger and unforgiveness. If this were a scene from real life, how would that anger come out and respond to other events in her life?

I see it on the news from time to time. Someone has been wronged. They want to get even.  They want the offender to pay.  They are full of anger and hatred. They say they want justice to be served. 


And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins. Hebrews 8:12


Unforgiveness can eat a hole in your heart. It will cause you to strike out at someone who has committed a minor offense against you. And the other person may have no idea what they have said or done. You may not know either why you’re so offended. But lack of forgiveness will cause more damage than we realize. It will fester inside like an untreated infection until it causes irreparable damage.

And then I read of how God always forgives when we ask him. He never says no. No. I can’t forgive you. You’ve offended me too greatly or too many times. Instead he wipes our slate clean. Time and time again. Even though he knows we will continue to mess up.

If we try to harm ourselves and fail, he doesn’t say try again and this time be successful. He doesn’t harbor ill will against us even though we continue to sin against him. He forgives each time we ask.

Forgive someone even when it hurts. It will take time. It will be hard work. 
It will produce a clear conscience. A good night’s sleep. It will result in a healthier life.

The act of forgiveness takes work. Hard work. It takes effort. It requires a change of attitude. The letting go of strong emotions. The working out of past hurts. Replaying conversations in your mind. Releasing the loss of what could have been and replacing it with a new normal. Letting go of unfounded fears.

Oh. It isn’t easy.  But it is possible.

Betrayed by Gossip

I don’t know how much longer I can do this job. 

Those are the words I heard someone say. I thought they were having a conversation with someone else.  So I was surprised to find him sitting alone when I walked by his office. So I did what no good Christian should ever do. 

I told someone else. 

She was concerned with his words, and I realized I should have kept quiet.  I asked her not to say anything to him. Of course not. She said. But less than an hour later, she had already shared the information with at least three others. 

I could have kicked myself. I knew better than to say those words to her. I knew I shouldn’t have said them to anyone. I felt ashamed and convicted. I felt as if I had betrayed this man who trusted me. Yet he didn’t know that anyone had even heard him. But I knew.

I’ll never know why I did it. I just know that I did it. 

I should have known she would tell others. She always does. She’s gossip central at the office. Now I’m just like her. 

He doesn’t know what I did. I can’t tell him. I want him to trust me. But can he? If I swear on a stack of Bibles and don’t step on a crack and break my mother’s back, would he trust me then?


Troublemakers start fights. Gossips break up friendships. Proverbs 16:28


That’s the problem with gossip. It can offend those closest to you if you don’t learn to keep quiet. Words once said can’t be taken back. So just don’t say them. Just because something is true doesn’t mean it should be said to someone else.

I read that the Trinity (God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) talk about me behind my back. Imagine it! The words they are saying about me are truth. Oh. It may not be pretty what they’re discussing. I know what I’ve done. I know what I’ve said. And so do they. I would love to hear what they say about me. They are speaking hope and life for me. They love me even when I don’t deserve it.

The thing about their conversations is that they aren’t gossiping. They want the best for me. Did I say the words about my coworker because I wanted the best for him? What were my intentions? I have to ask myself. What was my purpose in sharing the words I had heard him say in a moment of frustration?

I’m reminded of the song “Words” by Hawk Nelson. Even though my words are truth, they need to be life to someone else. Not make them feel like a prisoner. Not be spoken in a whisper so the “wrong” person doesn’t hear. I need to make sure my words are the type that can be heard by anyone who is listening. Because I know that God is always listening. I need to make sure my words are pleasing to him.

Words

They’ve made me feel like a prisoner
They’ve made me feel set free
They’ve made me feel like a criminal
Made me feel like a king

They’ve lifted my heart
To places I’d never been
And they’ve dragged me down
Back to where I began

Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart or
Put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

You can heal the heartache
Speak over the fear
God, Your voice is the only thing
We need to hear

Words can build us up
Words can break us down
Start a fire in our hearts or
Put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Let the words I say
Be the sound of Your grace
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

I wanna speak Your love
Not just another noise
Oh, I wanna be Your light
I wanna be Your voice

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Let the words I say
Be the sound of Your grace
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Words can build us up
Words can break us down
Start a fire in our hearts
Or put it out

I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You