Sunday, May 29, 2011

Victories: Forgiveness

Greetings!  Our little community has evidently had its electric restored (we never lost electric, praise God but our phone, internet & cable have been gone since Thursday!).  This is another one of the 'victory' columns from our local paper.  Hope you enjoy.

And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Matthew 16:19

Seeds of bitterness are common to this earthly life; the sources are diverse but misunderstandings, harsh judgments and unloving actions are typical culprits. Those we love are the ones most able to sow seeds of bitterness into our hearts. To the delight of the enemy of our soul, we often allow the seeds to sink roots into our hearts, which simply produces more bitter seeds for others. The cycle is vicious but Jesus offers us a better way—a difficult way. Walk along with Dotty as she shares the blessing of the power of freeing grace and forgiveness into the life of another.

The experience is so common to each of us that perhaps the details do not even matter. As every mother knows, hurts imposed on our children are more grievous to us than anything directed at ourselves. Dotty’s daughters were the recipients of a harsh, unfair judgment that came with painful consequences. Her mother’s heart was furious; the emotion of wrath overwhelming. The seeds of bitterness sown took root, and vengeful words spewed forth—to the offender and all who would listen.

As the emotions settled in her heart and her girls, the light of Christ gently shone upon the results of those bitter roots. She covered the roots in her heart with justification: the offender needed to be accountable for her cruelty. Holding onto her grudge ‘excused’ her actions and gave Dotty comfort. Yes, she prayed, but she refused to release the event wholly to Christ’s control. It was more satisfying to retain her ‘power’ and refuse forgiveness.

The Holy Spirit was unrelenting and true peace unavailable. Four years after the event, Dotty finally submitted to what she knew was the Lord’s desire: a humble apology for her own actions without the covering of justification or blame. Humbly sharing her sorrow at missing the mark Jesus sets for each of His followers produced an immediate freedom for herself, a similar apology from the offender and ultimately, unexpected results through the restored relationship.

Freeing the Spirit of Christ to work through us requires ‘dying’ to our own rights and opinions. It is not pain-free but neither is holding onto anger. In Dotty’s case, the restored relationship led to an amazing ministry opportunity for her youngest daughter, which allows her to pursue her God-given passion for music.

Apologies do not always produce a complete reconciliation but they always free the one who releases anger! “Unforgiveness is the rat poison you drink hoping the other person will die,” says Ken Sande, author of The Peacemaker. Today, consider if the Spirit is asking you to allow Him to flow through you into the life of another. Do not delay—obey and see what great things He has planned!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Victories: Anger and Emptiness

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.  (Isaiah 55:7)

Anger that grew to hate; loneliness that drove to the bottle; emptiness that nearly sucked a life away…those are the enemies defeated in today’s victory report! Join Tim as he praises God and rejoice with him as he marvels at God’s grace!

The devastation of divorce joined forces with the hardships of single parenting to blind Tim to the goodness of God. Raised in the church, a torrent of difficulties swept Tim away from church for nearly a decade and a half. Held captive by his own anger and bitterness, Tim raged at the injustices of his life—and nearly destroyed himself in the process. Though Tim had left the church, the relentless love of God had never been separate from him.

Proverbs tells us that without vision, the people perish: God used some interesting lenses to help Tim regain his vision. A long harsh winter, the financial stress of unemployment, a deadening lack of purpose and funerals were some of God’s magnifiers. As his own hope dwindled and he contemplated suicide, God used the deaths of some friends to speak to Tim’s own heart. The contrast between the hopeless wakes of those who lived only for this life and the life-honoring celebrations of home-going saints worked in Tim’s heart. The common end of all focused his eyes on his own responsibility to live well—to leave a legacy of life and hope for those who would come behind.

With that desire in place, Tim was again ready and able to feel the love of God. After one funeral, Tim stopped by his brother’s home and mentioned that it had been some time since he had made it a point to go to a church for any reason. His brother replied ‘it’s been 14 years’, and then went on to tell Tim he had been praying all that time for Tim to return to God. It was a prayer heard by God and now by Tim’s own heart. Shortly after, some Christian friends sought Tim’s help with some home repair projects. Their lives were their testimony: the true concern they had for Tim broke through the hard defenses he had built. Their genuine concern had a profound effect. God’s love was having its way.

During a walk with his dogs one morning, the Spirit broke through and called Tim to humble himself before God, agree with God about his mistakes and turn back to God. The beauty and blessing of Tim’s obedience is best in his own words: “The words were hard—not because of confessing, but because I was weeping uncontrollably. Weeping and thanking God for more than one chance; weeping for the years lost and behind me for the waste they had been…when the prayer was finished, the burden lifted. It was a relief I hadn’t had in years…not just figuratively or spiritually but physically as well.’ Today Tim is a beloved part of a local church…actively living and loving in Jesus’ name.

God’s promises are real. Forgiveness and cleansing restore us. Our prayers and our love for others matter. Sit at the feet of Jesus and soak in His goodness…let us join Tim in embracing the blessing of confession and rejoicing in God’s gracious presence!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Victories: FEAR conquered

For many years, fear was a dominating force of Lorrie’s life. Even a childhood sleepover at a neighbor-friend was a painful concept. The loss of both parents to cancer within months spun her into greater emotional disarray. Just as God intends, though, salvation brought eternal life to her earthly days! From the day of salvation, Lorrie was a passionate disciple, longing to know God and His power more and more. Freedom from fear was not without struggle; come, walk with her on a portion of God’s victory path!

Fully convinced early on of the sufficiency of God’s Word for meeting every need of life, Lorrie trained to become a biblical counselor. Fulfilling work at a Christian Counseling Center allowed Lorrie to bless and build God’s kingdom. An unexpected intrusion to her life work was announced by a seizure during a birthday dinner celebration. An orange-sized tumor was growing near the front of Lorrie’s skull. The logical earthly response would have been fear, but God provided an unearthly response: peace. From the moment of the seizure, He provided in amazing ways. An EMT passing by the dinner table, surgery scheduling, the growth path of the tumor, transportation concerns—all perfectly arranged by God. Lorrie soared through this dark period with the truths of Isaiah 41:10 holding her fast!

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.  (Isaiah 41:10)

Another unexpected wilderness loomed in Lorrie’s path, though. From her earliest days of walking with the Lord, it had been Lorrie’s desire to serve God in His kingdom. The medications necessary following brain surgery began to cloud her thinking. Unable to confidently counsel, Lorrie broken-heartedly resigned. God provided work for her in a most undesirable location: corporate America. Recognizing God’s hand, Lorrie entered what was, for her, a desert. Financially stable, gainfully employed but longing to serve God, she waited. Nearly a decade into her wilderness experience an opportunity arose to coordinate a short-term mission trip. Lorrie’s eyes finally rested upon the land God had prepared her for—and the land He had prepared for her.

Eastern Germany was (is) a spiritual desert desperately awaiting the seeds of confident hope God had planted and nurtured in Lorrie’s own life. Just as the sufficiency of God’s Word had propelled her into Biblical Counseling, the sufficiency of God’s power has propelled her to missions. This formerly fear-filled child is now a faith-filled kid of the King. Forsaking the assurances of American medicine, the comforts of family, financial security and retirement, Lorrie is launching out as a single, (almost) senior saint to disciple the women of the formerly communist land of East German. Reasons to fear abound, but Lorrie’s desire is to encourage each of us to reject fears for confidence in Christ! (Hebrews 10:23-25).

If you would like to know more about her mission, contact her at or visit her mission agency online at

Friday, May 6, 2011

Victory Story

James 2:13b (NIV) “…Mercy triumphs over judgment!”

Every war involves battle wounds and scars…even when you are on the winning side. The names in this battle—and victory—report are changed to protect the dignity and honor of souls. Some of the souls have gone to eternity and some are still on their journey.

It all began with good intentions. An aging couple reached out to help a middle-aged Christian brother, Allen, who was struggling with mental health issues, divorce and unemployment. Mae and Jim eventually took him into their home providing food, clothing and encouragement. Gradually Mae began to rearrange their home and their lives to accommodate the needs of Allen. Uneasy with what seemed to be an unhealthy relationship, family members began to complain and cajole Mae to see the situation from their viewpoint. Unable to see beyond Allen’s needs and the joy she felt in helping him, Mae became defensive.

Family concern, contention and chatter increased. Feeling victimized by misjudgment and gossip, Mae lashed out. Accusing her youngest daughter of slanderous lies, she demanded an apology. Stubborn pride and self-righteousness prevented Jessie from anything other than an expression of sympathy for her mother’s anger. It was not enough. Mae refused any further contact with Jessie—except phone calls to Jessie’s preschool daughter. Often those calls became Mae’s opportunity to defend herself with accusations against Jessie.

Deeply grieved but unable to see beyond ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, Jessie sought God’s perspective. The Spirit returned her to the cross to find the answer to the conflict. The Peacemaker, by Ken Sande, helped Jessie understand how to apply the blood of Christ for cleansing and healing. She began to see the necessity and blessing of mercy for her own well-intentioned mis-steps that had contributed to the broken relationship. As she embraced the love of Christ that extends forgiveness for intentional—and unintentional—sins, she saw her mother’s need for the same. In Jessie’s words, “I finally understood that both she and I had tried our best—but our best is never enough. It was not about who was right and who was wrong; it was all about living IN Jesus.” Armed with prayer and humility, Jessie sought to reconcile with her mother.

Mae, too, was longing to restore her family and the relationship—shaky and fragile—was able to begin building. The blood of Jesus wrought a great victory…a victory that soon took on even greater proportions. While unconditional love had paved the way for family connections, the underlying problems that spawned the conflict remained. The damage from the unhealthy situation with Allen propelled Mae and Jim into angry, potentially violent conflict. Mae briefly stayed with Jessie and her family until Jim could move out of their home; they would never speak again. He has found peace mingled with sorrow in his new community and church. More importantly those he moved in with began attending church with him! The victories there are still unfolding.

Within a year, Mae found herself in a battle with advanced cancer. The earlier victory with her daughter allowed Mae to walk with her children and grandchildren through the valley of the shadow of death. The peace that came in walking together is nearly incalculable: love reigned in a dark place; Jessie faces the future without hopeless regrets; the impact of the victory on the grandchildren and other observers is known only in heaven; the knowledge that there was peace between Mae and Jesus is priceless.

None of us leaves our earthly walks unscarred but Jesus gives us strength for each step and ‘bright hope for tomorrow.’ May you be inspired to apply the blood and reconcile any broken relationships in your life…in honor of Mae and her loved ones.