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The Healing Power of Forgiveness

Lessons from Cherith

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Matthew 18:21

He’d been a drug addict and alcoholic for at least the 35 years I knew him.  In fact, this lost uncle was my husband’s main reason for why he never touched drugs in his college days.  My husband saw the path of destruction his uncle created throughout their family.  This uncle, my mother-in-law’s youngest sibling, took the road so many addicts follow.  They demand help, make others feel guilty for not rescuing them, promise to do better then start the cycle over and over again.

In my visits to my husband’s hometown, we’d have infrequent contact with his uncle.  But we would hear of his begging his own mother for money and complaining of how “lucky” and “privileged” everyone else in the family were because they weren’t always so down on their luck.  To be fair, this man bore the brunt of being the youngest child of an alcoholic philanderer.  As for my in-laws, they gave money, moral support, food, and more for much of his life.  But after a number of run-ins with the law and intolerable behavior toward my husband’s grandmother, the uncle found himself eventually with backs turned.  Enough was enough.

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:22

Let’s face it, we are only human.  We get our feelings hurt.  We often seek to protect ourselves from harmful relationships.  We don’t want to be taken advantage of and have our kindness thrown back at us with vitriol.  Like many of Jesus’ expectations of us the concept of forgiveness is not so easy for us sinful humans.  We get to the end of our rope.  We have no more tears to shed.  

I remember when my loving, caring mother-in-law said to me one day a few years ago, “I’m done.  I’m tired of being blamed for his problems.  I’m tired of being taken for granted that we will always help.  I’m angry how he treats our mother.”  And really, could anyone fault her?  But the thing is, I knew deep down she didn’t mean any of it.  I knew if her brother came again with hat in hand she would help.  Because she knew that Jesus would do the same for her.

25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:28

We can be thankful we haven’t been assigned the task of God’s prophets to administer final judgements like Elijah had to (although one day two of us will be called to do just that). In the Old Testament, we see time after time the people turning their backs on God after so many warnings. And he sent his prophets to speak truth and judgement. His final truth-speaker was His Son, Jesus. But this prophet came to tell us when we seek forgiveness and to forgive we receive eternal forgiveness from God, even when we mess up over and over. You see, Jesus doesn’t just want the one who needs forgiveness healed, he wants us, the forgiver to be healed.  Because when we place our own lives under God’s microscope, we each have a heck of a lot that needs forgiving.  We each are blessed with the incredible gift of coming with our own hat in hand to the Lord and asking, “One more time, please Lord.  Forgive me.” And He does.  

I’ve been fortunate to witness the healing power of forgiveness in a few people’s lives.  My friend Andrea will forever be changed simply by forgiving a family member for past hurts and asking for forgiveness for how she has hurt others.  My own relationship with my parents has required me to forgive them.  And although the situation can still be painful, I now have the healing strength which forgiveness affords to help me pray for them each day.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

I started this message about a man so broken from addiction.  A man who most would say was without hope, without the peace from God.  But God is a miracle worker as we all know.  So, after another stint in prison about a year ago, my husband’s uncle finally said, “Enough is enough.”  He turned to God for forgiveness and healing.  When he got the news that his oldest sister was now riddled with cancer he came immediately to be by her side.

I don’t know if I’ll ever have the same opportunity to watch such a beautiful miracle unfold before my eyes.  To see God’s hands work like no other.  To experience the full promise of God’s grace and love descend upon a room.  We met in the lobby of the hospital, just the uncle and I.  His mind and eyes were clear. He looked so healthy!  His demeanor was clearly different.  I took him up to his sister’s room and we sat and chatted.  I felt like I should leave the room and give them some alone time when suddenly he took her by the hand and with tears streaming down his face he asked for forgiveness.  He asked to be forgiven for the destruction he caused, the pain, and for all the lost years that could’ve been different.

My mother-in-law thanked him immediately.  She said, “I needed to hear this.  It hurt so much when you blamed me for your troubles.”  And they wept.  For the next two weeks I witnessed this man stand guard outside her room, praying and participating in her last days.  I listened as he asked the rest of the family for forgiveness.  And saw them weep from the healing love of God.  I watched as he helped lift his sister’s lifeless body onto the gurney for her final road toward home.  He was in pain but was healed.  He was washed in sorrow but cleansed from forgiveness.  And he knew he was loved.

Who do you need to forgive right now?

Who do you need to ask for forgiveness?  

It’s time for healing.

PS: Happy Birthday to my amazing, handsome, loving, forgiving husband 🙂

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Jesus

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. Luke 1:35

Dear God,

I wanted to write to you today and thank you for the amazing gift you gave me and all of humanity.  It was so thoughtful of you to think of us!  I really wasn’t expecting something so wonderful and life giving!  

I am of course, writing to thank you for Jesus.  For that little baby you breathed into Mary thousands of years ago.  For that little child who grew to be a powerful yet quiet man.  God clothed in skin who experienced all the hardships, joys, temptations, love, frustrations and miracles you have blessed this world with.  

I’m so sorry, however, that your Son had to also experience the pain of our sin.  When I think of His last days it brings me so much sadness.  Your gift to us was so beautiful and we destroyed it with a vengeance.  And yet you still love us.  So much so you raised up that gift of Jesus for awhile to teach us a few more lessons before He went home to you.

Heavenly Father, we are entering into a season that should be all about the gift of your Son, Jesus.   Help us, through your Holy Spirit, to remember that little baby, that man, who gave so much in order to cleanse us of our sins.  

Today, oh God, I’m so thankful for the salvation your Son brought to those of us who pronounce Him King of our lives.  Your gracious and mercy-filled gift to us is all we ever need.  I know this small note of thankfulness can never repay you for your kindness.  I look forward to seeing you one day so that I can thank you in person.

Your loving servant,

Kris 

I hope you have enjoyed these 30 Days of Thankfulness! I’m taking some time off from the blog to enjoy this most wonderful time of the year! God bless and Merry Christmas!

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Gifts of the Spirit

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 1 Corinthians 12:4-5

A friend of mine and her husband recently participated in a church workshop which helped them identify their various gifts and strengths.  While doing her homework for the workshop she reached out and asked me and a few friends to help her identify three values she’s passionate about and three abilities she has.  I think it surprised her when all three of us identified the exact same qualities.  What was interesting was that she, herself, was struggling to do the same.

For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:8-10

I think so often as Christians we get caught up in this list of gifts from 1 Corinthians and forget what else this chapter says.  We are all given the Holy Spirit and we all are given gifts to assist the body of the church. So, when our friends tell us one of our gifts is being trustworthy or loyal or even diligent or empathetic, we might not see those as important as one of the “Big 9” and therefore not as worthy. And yet I will tell you having a person managing the church funds whose gifts are trustworthy and diligent is incredibly important!

I’m so thankful that God gave me the gifts of being organized, able to multitask, a love of writing and teaching.  I can’t interpret tongues but thankfully none of the jobs I’ve had, both volunteered and paid, required that!  I would love to stand on my church stage and be able to sing you a beautiful hymn but that’s just not going to happen.  What I can do, however, is thank God not only for the gifts he has bestowed on me, but the ones He has given others.  Together we make up the talented body of Christ.

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First Love

But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always. 
Hosea 12:6

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a “doer.”  In the Bible, Martha is my spirit animal.  I can so easily picture myself cooking and cleaning all day, getting ready for Jesus to come for dinner.  Then while He is at my house I’m running around making sure the drinks are filled and people have enough to eat.  Cleaning up spills and getting a jump on doing the dishes.  All the while, slightly annoyed that others are sitting at His feet, enjoying His company while I slave away.  

There’s a lot of pride wrapped up in that thinking. And I’ve had to learn to accept my “doing” nature while learning two things: 1) accepting that other people are born to be the type to relax and soak up the moment and 2) learning how to balance being a doer and not missing out on those special moments.  Because Jesus admonishes us from His teachings in the gospels to His messages in Revelation to “return to our first love.”  Meaning, Him.

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 
Revelation 2:4

This was the message to the church in Ephesus.  They were doers.  They took James’ messages to heart.  They worked hard, served many and were also great at making sure false teachers didn’t enter their midst.  But they forgot to be in awe and wonder for the Lord.

How often, when we feel like we are moving away from our faith do we turn to “doing” more rather than taking up Mary’s approach – sitting in awe and wonder at His feet?

Wonders are things out of the common, unusual things, extraordinary things. Usually they are unexpected; we wonder at them partly because they are novel and surprising. They take us aback; they are things which we looked not for. When they come they astonish us, and put us both in a muse and in a maze. We look, and look, and look, and cannot believe our eyes; we hear, and hear, and scarce believe our ears. 

Charles Spurgeon

Sometimes I find myself listening to a story of wonder by a fellow Christian – a story where God has worked miraculously in their life – and I do a quick acknowledgement and move forward.  As though this moment where God touched their life was so humdrum ordinary!

In a commentary on the restoration of our first love – the awe and wonder of Jesus Christ – Warren Wiersbe challenges us to take these steps:

Remember what we have lost.

Think back to when we were so excited about our relationship with the Lord.  Remember when He has worked miraculously in our lives.  Recall when we cried during our singing at church while we lifted our hands up to Him!

Repent (Change) our minds.

Decide that we want that awe, wonder and love back!  It sounds obvious but if you haven’t done it yet, evaluate why.

Repeat your “1st Works.”

What are those?  It was when you were devoted to prayer, mediation, Bible reading, service in His name, and worship

Thankfully, the world and God need both Marthas and Marys.  When I get caught up in my “Martha-ness” I remember that Jesus had His own special relationship with Her.  It was Martha that ran out to meet Jesus after Lazarus had died.  She proclaimed to Him that she believed Him to be the Messiah, the Son of God.

For some people, life may be monotonous and meaningless; but it doesn’t have to be. For the Christian believer, life is an open door, not a closed circle; there are daily experiences of new blessings from the Lord.  

Warren Wiersbe

I want to always be in touch with my “First Love.”  I want to live with that sense of awe and wonder.  And when I feel it fading I need only to sit in quiet mediation and allow His Holy Spirit to rekindle the flame within me.

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Unburdened Your Heart

Lesson #7: Forgiveness of others brings us the blessings of Christ

It is as none other than Paul—an old 
man and now also a prisoner of Christ 
Jesus— that I appeal to you for my son 
Onesimus, who became my son while I was 
in chains. 
Philemon 1:9-10

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness.  It keeps popping up in various Bible studies and readings.  And when that happens, I realize God is trying to tell me something.  So, the other day while in my “She Shed” – where I do my Bible reading and mediation – I just sat and did an inventory of the people in my life and those no longer in it.  My question for each face that popped in my head was “Is there something I haven’t forgiven in this relationship?”

There are people whom I actively must work at forgiving.  There’s one person in my neighborhood that, each time I see him I need to remind myself I no longer harbor ill feelings toward him.  It’s fascinating however, to pay attention to my whole body and mind when he enters my sphere.  I remind myself I have forgiven him yet my body wants to remember the hurt feelings.  It’s a brief little battle that, thankfully Jesus and the Holy Spirit help me to win.   In fact, the last time I saw him I thought it was a different neighbor and I waved.  When I realized who it was, I did a mental flip – “Ugh, why did you wave to him of all people?  You’re just not supposed to think anything and move along!”  But waving gave the impression I was happy to see him.  I suddenly realized in my mini battle that it was again the Holy Spirit forcing me to step out of my comfort zone and not just be “neutral” but be kind.

That individual aside, I came to an even greater realization about my need to forgive.  These days I can’t think of a greater forgiveness need in me than to forgive my church.  Actually, just about all churches who have shuttered their doors during such desperate times.  

But let me back up a bit.  Today, we jump into the little book of Philemon.  Paul, currently imprisoned in Rome, writes to a wealthy Christian friend in Colosse concerning the slave Onesimus.  Onesimus took off from Philemon’s household having stolen from him.  Onesimus found himself in the company of Paul and was converted.  And now Paul humbly asks Philemon to forgive his slave and allow him to return.

I remember as a child my mom talking about converted prisoners.  She scoffed at the idea that murderers and thieves could “find Jesus” and change their lives.  She thought it was all just a ploy to get out of jail earlier or to garner forgiveness without truly repenting.  And she may be right in some cases.  Who is to know the heart of a sinner but God?   

I wonder if Philemon thought the same?  To Onesimus’ benefit he had the great apostle Paul standing up for him.   How often have we held out forgiving someone because they didn’t meet our list of requirements for forgiveness?  The person in my neighborhood that I must remind myself to forgive frequently?  He hasn’t ever asked me for forgiveness.  He’s never acted in a way that showed he even knows he needs my forgiveness.

My church, who locked their doors and turned me away from praying at the outdoor steps of the sanctuary, doesn’t see any need for me to forgive them.  The elders and pastor who either ignored my pleas for help or worse, said hurtful things, have not asked for forgiveness.  So why should I forgive them?  Why should Philemon forgive a man to whom he gave so much and then stole from him?

I once was in a discussion about forgiveness during a Bible study.  The leader, who also was an elder in the church, said to the group, “You can’t forgive someone unless they have paid a price or asked for forgiveness.” (There’s that Biblical truth issue popping up!) Now, I’m working on my path from being a “baby Christian” to a mature one but even I know that’s just not sound Jesus teaching.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 
“Lord, how many times shall I forgive 
my brother or sister who sins against 
me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, 
“I tell you, not seven times, but 
seventy-seven times."
Matthew 18:21-22

The thing I like about this conversation in Matthew is he deals with a real world situation.  So many of us keep doing things that need forgiveness from others.  And Jesus says to keep on forgiving – each and every time.

I was reading about forgiveness and came across this list of spiritual characteristics of someone who forgives:

  1. Concern for his place with God
  2. Concern for people
  3. Concern for fellowship
  4. Concern for knowledge
  5. Concern for glory
  6. Concern for blessing

My response to the Bible study leader was that if her “rules” about forgiveness were true then how can we forgive people who have already died but negatively impacted our lives?  Or how can we forgive people that either don’t have anything to do with us anymore or have no idea they did something wrong?  Under her idea so many of us would live with a horrible burden of pain and hurt and anger.  And Jesus doesn’t want that for us.  He wants to shower us with that glory and those blessings listed in the “forgiver characteristics.”

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
Mark 11:25

Against anyone – for any reason.  But the most important part of the forgiveness lesson?  “So that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”  I want to be forgiven because I know I have a lot for which I need to be forgiven.  Therefore, I need to search my heart and truly forgive our churches.

I’ve learned a lot this last year about compassion and our human tendency to live in fear.  And although our pastors preach to have faith rather than fear, we fall back into the flesh so easily.  I do it, you do it and our church leaders (who are just humans too) do it.  It doesn’t make me feel good to see our churches closed but I also don’t want to have the burden of unforgiveness on my heart and soul.  I realized I can be sad and still forgive.

I like that in this letter to Philemon, Paul doesn’t demand that the slave Onesimus be taken back into the household.  Paul wields a lot of authority.  He could’ve just said, “Take him back and don’t be mean to him.”  But God wants our hearts.  Jesus and the Holy Spirit work on our transformation.  That’s why each time I see what was previously my “nemesis” in the neighborhood I know the Holy Spirit is working in me.  My hand was purposely lifted up to wave at him – not the mistaken neighbor.  To help my heart be free of any last morsels of unforgiveness.

Friends, I have seen the miracle healing of forgiveness in others.  I have felt it in myself.  It’s there for the taking for you.  Let’s be like the father of the prodigal son – from a long way off he saw his son returning.  He didn’t know why his son was coming back.  It could’ve been to ask for more money.  Instead of looking out the window and thinking every bad thought, he ran to him. (Luke 15:20) He tucked his tunic between his legs and ran to hug him in front of the townspeople.  He might’ve needed to forgive him a few more times in the course of their lives, we don’t know.  But the joy he had with that one action has given us the lesson for the ages.

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Living Amazed


From the first day of Earth to today, God has been doing amazing things in our lives. And when Jesus preached and performed miracles, the Bible frequently says the people were amazed. Each day we get up to start a new day. Each day we put our feet on the floor, have breakfast, brush our teeth, and then go about our daily routine. We do the laundry, wash the dishes, log in another long day at work. It’s so easy to live in the humdrum of every day. But God is still doing amazing things!


I’ve spent much of my adult life being a pessimist. As I grew closer to Jesus it became almost impossible to continue looking at life, people and circumstances constantly from a negative point of view. God transformed me. And that, my friends, is pretty darn amazing.

Join me and my special guest writer as we explore all the amazing acts of Jesus starting November 1 through 29. My hope is that each day we will help you take these amazing Jesus acts and translate them into your amazing life.

Are you ready to explore and enjoy this amazing God-given life through Jesus? Join us by signing up today to receive your emailed posts!

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching

Matthew 7:28

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Clean Feet

Did you realize that Jesus, in the upper room before His death, cleansed all the disciples’ feet.  By all I mean even Judas’ – the betrayer.  Jesus, however, made it clear that not all of the disciples had been cleansed. “Those who have had a bath (cleansing of the spirit) need only to wash their feet (to remove the sins of the world from them); their whole body is clean.  And, you are clean, though not every one of you.” John 13:10.  When Judas left the room with clean feet that’s all he had, clean feet.  Feet that would then be sullied the minute he walked out into the world.

By all accounts Judas seemed like a loyal follower in the eyes of the other disciples. He had all the same benefits of following in the Lord’s footsteps.  The same teachings.  The same experiences with miracles and blessings.  But he never surrendered his life over to Jesus.  He kept one or even one and half of his feet in the world and with the devil.  He mistrusted God’s Word.  He thought he knew better.  He lived in fear of what the world would do to him if he fully submitted to Jesus.  

Contrast that with Peter.  I realized today that Peter is the “Martha” of the disciples.  Always headstrong and trying to control each situation.  He also thought he knew better.  However, in his heart he loved and trusted the Lord.  He accepted admonishment and the teachings of Jesus.  He, as my BSGs (Bible Study Girls) love to say, was making imperfect progress.  He had a foot and a half in for God.  Until God helped him pull in the rest of him.

I had a couple of encounters with Christian women recently who were counseled to “run to God, for His arms are wide open.”  I was so saddened by their responses which included, “How” and “It’s too late for me.”  The first reminds me of how, as Christians, we absolutely must share our testimony.  We must do the work God makes clear to us in His Word.  By enveloping us in His teachings, submitting every single thought, worry, fear, joy, to Him through prayer and petition we will come into His arms.  God gives to those who ask.  Judas had everything available to him.  But he never submitted.  He never asked for God to change his heart.

The second response makes me cry.  It is never too late in God’s holy timeframe.  I’ve been talking with my BSGs and other friends about banging on God’s door.  Demanding to let us in.  Pleading for his intercession.  Not just lukewarm praying.  An all-out assault.  He has promised His love to us.  “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come and eat with that person, and they with me.” Rev 3:20. We need to stop letting satan whisper falsehoods in our ears — you aren’t worthy, you aren’t good enough, it’s too late.  Take back our lives and put them safely in God’s arms by speaking the Truth of God’s promises.  Promises that are clearly and consistently written out for us in the Bible. Revelations continues with: “To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne.” Rev 3:21

Sisters and brothers, God is not a passive “spiritual being.”  He is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent in our lives.  He is powerful and that makes you powerful.  We can no longer see and hear His blessings and let them roll off our backs like Judas.  We need to take what is rightfully ours and plant it deep inside us.  We will struggle like Peter. But our love for the Lord will work for our good. So that when we walk out into that dirty world we stay clean, we stay in His arms.

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Grasp God Tightly

What blessing are you hoping and waiting for today? It’s time to get serious about the strength of your faith and our willingness to make a full confession of our transgressions.
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In a recent Bible study I was asked: “What are you trying to hide from God?” Well, we all chuckled because of course you can’t hide anything from God. But do we truly believe that? Is that how we live out our daily lives? Charles Spurgeon says, “Do not play with sin. Do not confess it as though it were some venial fault that would not have been noticed unless God had been too severe.”
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As the apostle Paul says, God cannot be mocked. The Almighty knows our tepid faith. He knows our bold faith. He hears when we rush through a prayer and he hears when we grasp Him tightly and plead honestly with Him. We don’t reward or accept in our own children or friends a tepid or insincere apology so why should God when what we ask of Him is ten-fold?
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When we plead to God we lay bare our innermost sins and cleanse them. I like the analogy of a wrestler stripping down to the bare minimum before entering the playing arena. Because when we show we have nothing left to give up, nothing left to weigh us down, that is when God performs His greatest work in us.
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So grasp His hand tightly today. Lay out your sins. And plead for His love to envelop you.
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