Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Way to Forgive and Let Go


 



The Way to Forgive and Let Go





When someone says or does something hurtful to you, a part of your heart dies.  Not from the comments or actions of strangers.  Strangers never get close enough to you to do any major damage.  You would never allow someone you don’t know such unfettered access.  No, all the exploding shrapnel that rips through your heart, leaving you sometimes feeling torn and shredded, fires from those dearest to you.  And the closer a person makes it into your inner circle, the more devastating the damage done when the bombs go off.



Your heart, so to speak, represents the real you.  Not just anyone gets in.  Oh, you’ve had your fair share of people who somehow tricked you in to opening up to them.  But once inside, these people got exposed for the frauds they were.  You swiftly kicked them out of your heart just as quickly as they arrived.  No long term damage occurred.



But the people closest to you, those you’ve allowed to glimpse deeply into your heart, they inflict major damage.  They know everything about you, including what makes your heart tick.



Usually, it’s not the occurrence of a one-and-down event that damages and scars you inwardly.  The killing of the heart happens slowly over time.  Piece by small piece—a hateful remark here, a put-down there—and before you know it, you wake up feeling cold and distant toward the other person.  The part of the heart they took from you just happened to be the part that held all the emotion you had for them.  You want nothing more to do with them, because you feel like they’ve taken too much from you already.  Along with wounding your heart, they’ve taken away any desire you had to love or even like them.



The words and actions fired off by others, ripping through your heart, do far more damage than you could ever hope to repair.  Sometimes your heart never stops bleeding.



You can’t live in a broken heart and expect to fix your relationships.


How does God do it?  How does God find it in His heart to forgive?  The bible writes that King David had a heart after God’s.  How could a person have a heart after God unless just like you and me, God has a heart?  Not the physical one pumping blood, but rather the one representing who He is—His character, His essence, the opening into His very being.  On the day Adam and Eve turned their backs on God, I have no idea what this did to God inwardly.  But I imagine somewhere within His heart, He felt a loss.



Did you know that just as the laws of physics govern the physical world, the spiritual realm has its own set of checks and balances?  And spiritually speaking, as it relates to the matters of the heart, when others wound you, what they say and do reveals what’s inside of them.  But how you respond reveals what’s inside of you.



In other words, all those wounding words and deeds fired your way by others may reveal the condition of their hearts, but how you respond to them reveals the condition of yours.



I realize how heavy this statement can land, particularly when compared to some of the pathetic things others have said and done toward you.  But it’s true.  How you react toward a wounding word or offensive action tells the story of your own heart.



I know something inside of you may want to resist this spiritual law governing the heart.  Maybe others have said or done the unspeakable toward you. Maybe your heart has been violated with the vile.  Perhaps the offense was so bad, you feel in your heart a measure of justification for holding on and not letting go.



But why allow some past event to inflict pain on you in the moment?  Why allow the memory of the event to cause more pain than the event itself?  Why allow the offense to live on?




To you who carry inside of you a wounded and dying heart, God offers you His.




If how you respond to an offender reveals something about your heart, what must God’s response toward your actions reveal about His?  I mean, you and I have done our own fair share of launching grenades at God’s heart, stiffening our necks, indulging our flesh, going after sin.  And as all of mankind fires away, attempting, so-to-speak, to kill the heart of God, how does He respond?



With Jesus.



The secret to forgiving the unforgiveable rests in you losing yourself in the heart of God.  Since Jesus is the exact representation of God, He exactly represents God’s heart.  In essence, by asking Jesus into your life, the new heart you received was God’s very own.  King David may have been a man after God’s own heart, but as a believer, you are a person with God’s exact heart—the heart that came along with Jesus.  And to lose yourself in the heart of God happens when you go deeply into Jesus and never come out, as you abide in Him, moment-by-moment.



When it comes to forgiving, you’ve been focused on the wrong thing.  “How” never brings a resolution. “How can I forgive someone for doing something so unforgiveable?” is a question that never finds a satisfactory answer.  And without an answer, you’ll see nothing but green lights, allowing you to hang on to the offense.



Forgiveness toward others begins as you, yourself, sense the need to be forgiven.  Only when you see the heart of God responding toward you will you willingly allow this same heart in you to respond to those who have offended you.



To forgive, or not to forgive, simply reveals where you live.  You either lose yourself in Jesus or try to find life in a heart wounded beyond repair.  You can’t live in a broken heart and expect to fix your relationships.



What you need is an overcoming life coursing through yours. And for that, you’ll need a strong heart to do all the pumping.



The heart of God.



The heart of God living within you.



The heart that says, “Forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”



Jesus.



Click here if you’d like more information on how to receive David’s weekly emails.



Click here to check out more articles and blog posts written by David on www.beliefchangers.com!



 



 






About David Stephens

Always from the perspective of abiding in Christ, David's writings blend life with Life, leading you to recognize God in your everyday circumstances. When not working or spending time with family, David devotes his free time by helping Christians discover the Life of Christ within. He founded Beliefchangers as a way to provide free teaching content to those seeking a deep, abiding relationship with Christ. You can contact him at david.stephens@beliefchangers.com or catch him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/beliefchangers.



Fixing a failed relationship


 



The Fix for a Failed Relationship





When relationships fall apart, a certain amount of your identity shatters into pieces. You look to others and the way they treat you for clues as to how whole you are as a person.  If all is well, and others like you, you feel the freedom to like yourself.  But when experiencing rejection, what does that say about you?



You begin life relating with people through a single pane of smooth, clear glass.  Naïve, the clear glass grants others a transparent look into your life. Yet, not too long after having someone point out a little streak of dirt, you discover the challenge of keeping the window continually clean. Eventually, you grow tired of washing this window and decide to replace the clear glass with a colored pane altogether.  Color better hides the dirt.  Others will see into your life, but they won’t see everything.



But each time a relationship shatters, the colored glass goes flying, leaving you with the job of replacing the window.  Maybe next time, a different color will keep others from seeing too far into your life, so as to keep your relationships feeling whole.  Maybe a different color will keep the next relationship from breaking.



But all relationships become clear and focused when seeing them through Jesus.


 



Repeat the process of replacing shattered windows, and over time, you run out of colors to choose from. To avoid dealing with any future hurt, you may consider installing one last window and painting the thing black.  At least black keeps others from seeing in, all but closing off the prospects for any future relationships.



More than likely, though, you pick up the multi-colored pieces from all the past, shattered relationships and try to fit them together to reform a semblance of life.



Imagine waking up to a world madly in love with you, an existence where those around you want nothing more than to have a deep, meaningful relationship with you.  How much better would life live?  The pedestal others placed you on would elevate the status of your thoughts and opinions, not to mention your hopes and dreams.  People would push the pause button on their own lives, stop what they were doing to listen to you, and then lend a hand in helping you bring your highest aspirations into reality.  Even when you spoke a misguided word or took an occasional step out of line, what you said, and what you did, would receive quick forgiveness.  To gaze deeply within your relationships, you would see just what a darling you really are.



Unfortunately, the world doesn’t offer you this kind of a relationship.



But God can.



You are His darling.  He put you into Christ.  There’s no higher place for you to go.  When you speak to Him or ask Him a question, He stops what He is doing to listen, even when you talk silliness.  He gives you both the desire and the power to reach your highest aspirations.  He made you to dream, because He too is a dreamer of dreams.  When you do happen to fall out of line, He easily forgives, because after all, you can never fall out of Jesus.



This is the relationship God has with you.



But this isn’t necessarily the relationship you have with God.



For years, you’ve been living behind a stained glass window.  One-by-one, you’ve fitted and formed together the different colored pieces of past, failed relationships.  To you, each color represents a lesson learned.  To look at the stained glass window is to glimpse into your own relational past.



But don’t forget, glass allows a see-through in both directions.  What you’ve done with the color to mask what others can see about you has clouded your own view of them.  You see relationships through the same color you’ve been hiding behind.  Not only have you hidden yourself from others, you’ve prevented yourself from seeing others clearly.



And that creates a problem for you in your relationship with God.  You can’t see Him clearly either.  The view of God always looks skewed when seeing Him through your stained glass window.  Pick any color, take a peek through the glass, and you’ll see a relationship with Him that looks just like an earthly one you’ve had before:



*Seeing a father who never showed you much interest makes God suddenly appear very distant.



*Looking at a mother who constantly harped on your flaws turns God into someone you can never please.



*Watching a spouse control you, enduring verbal put-downs leads to a God who refuses to give you any security.



We tend to define our relationships with God on how we define our relationships with others.  We see God acting in our lives, as we act toward others, or as others act toward us.  In either case, God’s character comes out looking like something it’s not.



But there’s another window to the world and to God that you can look through. To see through this window allows you to see life clearly.  Through this window, the world and God make sense. It’s the window of Jesus, that on the day of your conversion, God installed inside your heart.  This window guarantees that you no longer need to hide from God, and that God will no longer hide anything from you.  Through the window of Jesus, you see life for what it really is; unfolding in the moment, working on your behalf to draw you into a deeper, more intimate relationship with God.



Yet, even with Jesus in your life, the stained glass window remains.  Of course, you cannot look through this window and Jesus at the same time.




Each moment, you must choose from what perspective you will look at life and others through.




God has a way of allowing relationships with others to reflect your relationship with Him. When you spend too much of your time relating with others through your stained glass window, more than likely, that’s how you’re relating to God. Relating with friends and family from behind the colored glass usually indicates that in your relationship with God, you aren’t seeing things clearly.



But all relationships become clear and focused when seeing them through Jesus.  So when a relationship with another endures from behind your stained glass window, God uses the experience to say something to you about your own relationship with Him.  He allows the situation, so that you will turn your gaze upon Him.  Through Jesus, when you fix your view on God, it fixes your relationship with Him. And when this happens, although not every earthly relationship will reconcile, after all, the other party may not seek harmony, at least through the process, God makes you whole.



The fix for any failed relationship is to allow the failure to fix you, to move you away from the stained glass window and instead looking at life with clarity, through Jesus.



 



Click here if you’d like more information on how to receive David’s weekly emails.



Click here to check out more articles and blog posts written by David on www.beliefchangers.com!






About David Stephens

Always from the perspective of abiding in Christ, David's writings blend life with Life, leading you to recognize God in your everyday circumstances. When not working or spending time with family, David devotes his free time by helping Christians discover the Life of Christ within. He founded Beliefchangers as a way to provide free teaching content to those seeking a deep, abiding relationship with Christ. You can contact him at david.stephens@beliefchangers.com or catch him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/beliefchangers.



Living Free of Fear


 




Living Without Fear





A fog has rolled in over me.  Not the kind that gently settles in over a meadow on a bright, sunshiny morning.  Dense, intense, against the backdrop of ever clouding thoughts and feelings, the shades of blues and grays streak across my soul in a gradient color of dullness. The not so distant view of life stares back at me, silhouetted and unclear, an outline without substance.  I see without really seeing anything.  With no beginning or ending, I can’t find the center of my being.



I’m lost.  Rather engulfed.  I don’t know which way leads to light and which to darkness.  Surrounded by a mixture of not quite white and not dark enough black, I feel lukewarm.  Ordinarily dismissive thoughts, I grab on to, long enough to violently stir my emotions. What I’m thinking and feeling seems all wrong.  The words I hear sound like my words, but don’t sound like me.  I’ve never felt this intense uncertainty before.  Blinded to the truth, and no longer on solid enough ground to distinguish the lies, I slip into another reality.  I fall into blackness.



Now, I’m no longer alone, and quite aware of it.  Fear has joined me.  I want to run, but where can I go?  Fear sees through the darkness.  Fear is the darkness.  A person can’t hide from fear.  Thoughts I had while in the midst of the fog, ambiguous and inconclusive as they were, now speak in more authoritative tones.  Fear has overwhelmed me.  Fear has become me.  I’m afraid.




Have you ever been afraid, living in fear?




Fear takes the turbulent events of today, extrapolates them out to their worst possible conclusions and then calls it a destiny.  Or, in good times of happiness, waits around for the other shoe to drop.  In either case, fear looks into the future without seeing God.



Fear sits just outside your life, looking for an opening into your soul, disguised as thoughts and concerns about the future.  No area of your life—family, friends, future, work, health, retirement—goes untouched.  Once inside of you, fear uses lying thoughts to create lying emotions.  You begin to feel anxious and worried about the future.



But it’s all make-believe.



Any attempts on your part to beat back fear, at best lead to just temporary relief.  Poised, waiting for just the moment to re-enter your life, fear never allows you to experience long-term satisfaction.  You can battle fear in your own effort, quote bible verses at it if you will, but mere human effort and self-will cannot remove it from your life.  Fear is the most violent of storms the enemy sends your way.  Even when the deluge momentarily stops, the clouds never break.  Soon, the vicious attacks upon your soul will begin again.



To overcome fear, you need more than desire.  You need desperation.  Only in desperation, will you call out to Jesus.  In the earthly time of Jesus, a few of His closest friends, men well adept at dealing with the storms of the sea, found themselves desperate.  Men who prided themselves as seaworthy became undone by overpowering wind and turbulent waters.  Their boat was about to sink.  Fearful of losing their lives, they went down below and woke up a sleeping Jesus.



The story serves as a metaphor for fear.  As the storms roll into our lives, we first look inwardly, relying on our own abilities to withstand the fear that the storms bring.  We believe we can win by calling on our most recent spiritual teaching to help us.  But fear can withstand any teaching you might offer against it.  Fear withstands the onslaught of spiritual words and beliefs you throw its way.  Fear respects and retreats only when confronted by Jesus.



Jesus awoke, gave a hearty rebuke to the wind, and told the waves to quiet down.  The storm immediately went away.  That’s exactly how fear behaves when confronted with Jesus. It goes away.



But don’t expect rebuking fear in the name of Jesus to give you any long lasting victories.  Yes, confronted with Jesus, fear makes a hasty retreat, but never so far away as to allow your life to go out of sight.  Fear watches from a distance, and the moment you place something other than Jesus at the center of your life, it begins advancing toward you.



To defeat fear for good takes more than a rebuke in the name of Christ.  Once you sweep your life clean of fear, you must allow it to fill up with Jesus.  Otherwise, unoccupied by the life of Christ flowing through yours, fear will return.  And with a vengeance.



A long-term strategy to defeat fear requires that you live desperately for Jesus in the short-term, as in moment-by-moment.



A moment-by-moment, desperate reliance on Jesus keeps fear away from your life.




Fear cannot remain in the presence of Jesus.  There’s no fear in love, because perfect love casts out fear. 




Fear can never co-mingle with the blood of Jesus.



So the moment you begin to sense fear filling up your life, receive this as a warning that you’ve lost your desperation for Jesus.  Somehow, something other than Christ lives on the leading edge of your life.  By turning your back on Jesus, fear has seized on the opening.



Yet to win against fear requires that you simply put Jesus back in your moment.  Standing in Jesus in the moment clears up your future.  Don’t wait until fear overwhelms you.  At the first sign of its arrival, cry out to Jesus.  The moment the wind and waters grow turbulent, go down into your spirit and wake Him up.  Tell Jesus your soul is under siege, and that you need Him now.



Do you want fear out of your life for good?  Then string one moment focused on Christ with the next, and then the next, and so on.  You’ll never swallow victory whole, but you can eat at it one bite at a time.  You can experience victory over fear with a moment-by-moment dependency in Jesus. You have nothing to fear.  The certainty of Jesus awaits you now and in your future.



Never forget that Jesus lives within you.



You’re boat isn’t going down with Him on board.



Live like you have a God.



You do have one, you know.



 



Click here if you’d like more information on how to receive David’s weekly emails.



Click here to check out more articles and blog posts written by David on www.beliefchangers.com!






David StephensAbout David Stephens

Always from the perspective of abiding in Christ, David's writings blend life with Life, leading you to recognize God in your everyday circumstances. When not working or spending time with family, David devotes his free time by helping Christians discover the Life of Christ within. He founded Beliefchangers as a way to provide free teaching content to those seeking a deep, abiding relationship with Christ. You can contact him at david.stephens@beliefchangers.com or catch him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/beliefchangers.



 







 




 



Have you read the story written about you?


 



Have You Read the Story Written About You?





There’s a writer I know who develops each storyline, or narrative, seeing three dimensional characters moving and acting through time.  Nothing gets written down on paper without first visualizing a block-buster movie from beginning to end.  Maybe that’s why this author has no rivals.  No story gets written without first being envisioned as a major motion picture.



Have you ever heard of “The Hero’s Journey?”  Every storyteller follows the same basic outline.  The main character, or hero-to-be of the story, first receives acall to adventure, put on notice that some life altering change is about to happen, sometimes aware of the call and sometimes not.



Once aware, the refusal of the call happens next.  Fear, feelings of inadequacy, or maybe the desire to remain in the status quo keep the main character grounded, unwilling to move toward his or her destiny.



Eventually, whether consciously or not the hero-in-making begins to move forward.  Once a line is crossed, signaling a commitment to the call, a guide appears—someone, or something, leading the person toward the inevitability that awaits him.



But far from realizing the awaited future, the main character must first cross over into the unknownwhere danger lurks.  Hitting the low point, the point of separation from the old world or way of living, the person realizes that nothing in life will ever be the same.  This revelation is followed closely by a heavy dose of trials and testing, some of which are failed, the obstacles every hero-in-training encounters on the way toward transformation.



In defeat, at a point of despair, the main character receives unconditional acceptance from someone already known, or a new person entering the story altogether.  This person plays a crucial role in the hero’s metamorphoses, because he or she completes what’s lacking in the hero.  What’s missing from the hero’s life, the person arriving on the scene offers to fulfill.



Before you were conceived, God imagined your life from beginning to end. 


 



Next, temptations from the old world, or way of living, entice the hero to abandon the call, creating a gap in his mind between what was, and what will be, filled-up with feelings of hypocrisy and doubt.  This causes him to confront the ultimate authority in his life, or better yet, that one person or sin that wields the most power over him.  By choosing to lay down his weapons, so-to-speak, and no longer battle his enemy in self-made effort, the hero experiences an inward dying to self, which immediately brings a sense of inward peace.



But here, the hero refuses to return from where he came, preferring to remain in the moment of triumph instead of sharing his victory with others.  But the journey has always been about gaining the wisdom and power to triumph over a life that used to prevail over him.  Eventually, the heroreturns as victor to the world from which he came, and lives transcendently, the ability to live in his old world, but be of his new one.



Before you were conceived, God imagined your life from beginning to end. He writes, not with paper and ink, but three dimensionally in time, weaving your story into a larger narrative about His character and love.  Your life plays out for all to see on the cinema screen called reality.  And in your story, you are the hero.  Not exemplifying a heroism that “saves the day,” but rather a heroism that courageously journeys toward a life of transformation and transcendence, a life of abiding in Jesus, moment-by-moment.



Most never complete the journey.  But I have a feeling you will.



Call to adventure



Refusal of the call



A guide appears



Crossing over into the unknown



The low point



Trials and testing



Receiving of unconditional acceptance



Temptation



Confronting the ultimate authority



Inward dying to self



Returning to your old world victoriously



Living transcendently, an overcomer in an overwhelming life, a person in this world but really of another



Now that you know what defines the journey God is taking you on, where does He currently have you?  You may feel far from the triumphant victor who lives transcendently.  That’s okay.  The compelling part of your story isn’t the end, but the journey you take to get to the end.



Maybe you’re in the process of dying to yourself, or enduring trials and testing, or perhaps just now hearing the call to adventure.



It doesn’t matter.  You are where you are—exactly in the place God wants you today.



But you must remember, the story isn’t about you receiving Jesus into your life. It’s way bigger than that.  If it were just about you experiencing conversion, the moment Christ entered into your life, God would have taken you to heaven.



No, the real story is about the journey of finding the life you’ve always wanted here on Earth.  A life lived in peace and happiness and contentment; a life no longer bogged down, but rather going somewhere; a life ruling over an unruly world.



Abundant living—that’s what you want.



And you can only have it when the reality of a moment-by-moment, abiding relationship with Jesus becomes your own.



Make no mistake the journey you’re on is one between you and God.  He’s already written everything; you’re just living the script.



But perhaps since our paths have crossed, maybe Beliefchangers serves as the guide appearing out of nowhere to help you along the way.  If that’s the case, I promise, as best I can, to walk with you to the end.



But before you can arrive at the place you’re going, you have to identify the place from which you’re leaving.



So where on the journey toward a deep, abiding relationship with Jesus do you find yourself?



Look back at the steps in the hero’s journey and identify where God has you.  Then use the comment section below and write what’s currently taking place, and include some of the story about where you’ve previously been.



Remember, it’s your story.  It’s your journey.  Regardless of how you might feel, your life isgoing somewhere.



But I want to hear about it.



I can’t resist listening to one of the Master’s stories.



 



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Click here to check out more articles and blog posts written by David on www.beliefchangers.com!



Does Loneliness Have a Cure?


 




The Cure for Loneliness





With the myriad of relationships waiting at your fingertips, why do you sometimes feel so lonely?



In a single day, your life intersects with hundreds of people.  Some you pass by without saying a word to, others you engage with in brief conversations.  There are people you have to talk to, and some youwant to talk to.  Your relationships go wide in number but vary deeply in depth.  There are friends and lifelong friends, and a myriad of acquaintances scattered in between.  People are plentiful.  There’s no shortage of them to reach out toward.



We all enter this Earth with an amount of emptiness, measured by a variety of unmet, intrinsic needs.  Just as the need for food and water and warmth drive us outwardly, the need for love, acceptance, and security drive us inwardly.  We want these inward needs met, yet look to other empty people to satisfy them.



But when square pegged people can’t fit into our God shaped, round holes, relationships fail, leaving us feeling lonely.



Hearing God in the garden, Adam and Eve ran and hid.  Sin makes us want to cover-up and retreat.  I’m not saying God was surprised at what happened, but I wonder if the situation brought about His own feelings of loneliness.  After all, the one created in His own image did run way from Him.  In response to Adam’s hiding, that’s probably why God yelled out, “Where are you?”



Inwardly, we are incomplete and in desperate need for God to make us whole.  But seldom is God the first choice we run to when things get broken.  Usually we go looking at other things to fix us.



Loneliness is simply the exhausted feeling you have when running toward these other things and away from God.  Yet loneliness also serves as God’s promise that He’s coming after you, just like He did with Adam and Eve.  He wants a relationship with you.  Your need for God cannot compare to God’s need for you.  Since God is love, He must love.  He needs someone to love.  He needs you.




God overwhelms loneliness by flooding it with love.  He is the round peg that fits snugly into your round hole, making you whole.




But loneliness also serves a very important role in regards to your relational responsibilities.  It’s the little push that forces you out from behind that which you’re hiding and causes you to frantically wave your arms and cry out, “God, I’m over here!”



And in the midst of the cry, God hears your declaration for Him.



He is on the way.



Can you see Him coming?



(Has reading this inspired anything within you?  If yes, share your thoughts with me below, and then share this article with your friends).



Click here if you’d like information on how to receive more of David’s writings.






David StephensAbout David Stephens

Always from the perspective of abiding in Christ, David's writings blend life with Life, leading you to recognize God in your everyday circumstances. When not working or spending time with family, David devotes his free time by helping Christians discover the Life of Christ within. He founded Beliefchangers as a way to provide free teaching content to those seeking a deep, abiding relationship with Christ. You can contact him at david.stephens@beliefchangers.com or catch him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/beliefchangers.