Often, we are told, in the name of being obedient or “good”, to forgive and forget. What does this really mean, and is it possible to truly forgive and forget?
I suppose that depends upon what you are forgiving and forgetting. If you are forgiving and forgetting someone cutting you off in traffic, or taking the parking place you were going for in a busy lot, maybe you can forgive and forget that.
What happens when we consider something on a larger scale?
You or a family member or close friend becomes the victim of a violent crime.
A doctor misdiagnoses you, and now you face a deeply rooted serious illness.
Your spouse abandons you without reason, and your personal and financial life is devastated.
You are unfairly fired from the job you badly needed.
You are the victim of domestic abuse, or, more accurately, home violence. You leave your home one day with only what you can carry.
Yes, I believe you can work on forgiving the person or persons responsible for these things. But forgetting these things? No, I don’t think so.
When events are major markers in our lives, we don’t really forget them unless something happens to damage our memories or thinking processes.
Just as we don’t forget the high points of life ( graduating from school, a first job, a wedding day, a child’s birth, a grandchild’s birth, that first apartment or house, etc.), we don’t forget the deep injuries because these events shape our lives and often permanently change life’s direction.
Forgiveness does free us, and keeps a single event from destroying other good things life could offer. What about the forgetting?
Well, you might not be able to forget the event, but you can choose to forget how it made you feel. You can forget the sense of being less than, the sense of being unappreciated, the sense of being forgotten and disrespected, the sense of being unwanted and uncared for, the sense of being less valuable than others seem to be.
You can remind yourself on a daily basis: what someone else did is not the defining moment of my life, unless I allow it.
And actually, why should you forget? Someday, you may be able to help someone else by saying: “Yes, it’s possible to overcome _______. I know, because I’ve been there and I’ve done it Let me help you on that path.”
In the back of my mind, there’s also my little suspicion that people who say we should forgive and forget sometimes just want to set us up to be hurt over and over again by someone who doesn’t care about us and doesn’t deserve the right to injure us without limit.
Forgive because forgiving is one of the most healing gifts you can give yourself. You have to do it on purpose and no one can do it for you. You put your own life back on course when you forgive. It’s a reclaiming of your power. Without forgiveness, the injury-maker reshapes your entire life and you shouldn’t give them that right.
In the back of your mind, you know the person who injured you really can’t heal you, so if you want to be healed, why keep your energy pointed in their direction? Get help if you need it, but release the injury-maker and take your life back.
Forget the pain and remember the victory. Grow stronger, share, help others, and widen the circle of your life. That’s true winning.
(c) 2014 Deborah Evans
Spiritual Lessons from the Gym
Early in 2013, I switched gyms and worked with a trainer who helped me put together a program that led to a huge increase in my fitness level throughout the year.
I also spent some time reading exercise and strength training books and articles. I found several principles about working out and exercising that made it easier for me to understand why I needed do to the things I needed to do.
Some of the principles are:
“You must become comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
“You must do what you do not always enjoy doing.”
“You must get enough rest; relax, and reward yourself for accomplishing a major goal.”
“What you eat and drink---food---will determine what you are capable of doing.”
More and more, these principles seemed to also have a spiritual application.
1 Corinthians 9:24, etc., says it this way:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
The good thing about the Christian life is that everyone who wants to win can.
The hard thing about the Christian life is that no one wins without following a training program. The training program has already been set up.
If I do not consume the right “spiritual food” (Scripture, prayer, good fellowship, Sabbath rest, listening to God), I won’t be capable of doing what I am supposed to do. There will be no resources for me to draw on, no reserve of energy waiting to empower me to finish what I’ve begun.
It is OK to say “no” to someone asking me to do just “one more little thing.” I must remain aware enough to know my limits and protect those limits. I am not indispensable and flattery will not trick me into attempting more than I should within any day, week, or month.
I do not usually enjoy apologizing to people I’ve wronged, or extending a hand of reconciliation in a damaged relationship, or trying one more time to forgive the person who has wronged me. But if I don’t do these things, the person and work of the Holy Spirit cannot flow through me as needed, and I will become limited and frustrated and fail to meet my purpose.
How to do I become comfortable with being uncomfortable?
I accept that I must walk by faith, not expecting to fully understand every aspect of everything that happens to me, and trust God to handle my circumstances when I can’t. Over time, my comfort zone will enlarge. If I refuse to experience any discomfort, my comfort zone will stagnate, and possibly shrink, making me less available to do whatever God wants me to do. That’s failure.
The opposite of failure is getting into training and staying there, allowing the lessons of the gym to guide some of my spiritual “strength training.”
(c) 2014 Deborah Evans
This statement, made by Jesus while he was engaged in what some might call a “lively conversation” with religious rulers at the temple in ancient Jerusalem, is one of the most controversial statements he made.
In my religious tradition, the church celebrates themed days on an annual basis. Almost everyone knows Christmas and Easter as two of those days, but Christ the King Sunday seems to be sadly fading into obscurity in some corners.
The revelation of Christ the King is clearly seen in the first chapter of the Book of Revelation, in the New Testament. Revelation is one of those sections of Holy Scripture that frighten some away, while others focus on small and difficult to interpret details of what’s known as “the end times.”
A man known as John the Revelator (possibly the “beloved apostle” John, who wrote other parts of the New Testament) describes his experience in encountering the ascended, supreme Jesus who bears almost no resemblance to the God-Man person who spent approximately thirty-three years living among regular people in Palestine and teaching about the Kingdom of God.
Here is what John says about his encounter with Christ the King:
“I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man”, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.
In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” –Revelation 1:12-16 (NIV)
Depending upon how you read this, John is describing a horrible image of an unnatural being, or John is using a series of similes to describe someone whose presence challenges effective description.
If you are a student of the Book of Revelation, you may be familiar with the many ways in which writers have attempted to explain the person described here. The long robe represents honor, authority, and royalty. The golden sash suggests a unique, eternal priesthood. Snow white hair speaks to agelessness, while eyes like blazing fire suggest a penetrating, never dying insight into all that is. The glowing bronze feet imply stability, certainty, upstanding and unwavering status. A voice like the sound of rushing waters? Such a voice has no beginning or end, is irresistible and unstoppable; it is beyond ignoring and impossible to deny. The two edged sword in his mouth tells us this person speaks the word of God.
But what does it all mean and why are these words in Scripture? How do we benefit from knowing how Jesus chose to reveal himself to a lonely man who was in exile because of his testimony of and for Jesus? John says he was a “brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus.” (Chapter 1, verse 9)
Jesus chose to reveal himself because we need to stay clear about the Savior and Lord we are worshiping and following.
How often, when we think or speak of Jesus, do we imagine a human-looking person walking or riding a donkey in an ancient culture? Do we have crosses and crucifixes as symbols of Jesus? Do we imagine someone exiting an empty grave, or someone speaking to a crowd about how to live in the Kingdom of Heaven? Do we think of a man who worked miracles, ate with sinners, and incurred the wrath of traditional religious leaders?
All of these would be accurate, but none of them would be complete images of who Jesus is today.
He is one “like a son of man”, but he is also the eternal God. He has complete and total authority over all that has been, is, or will come into being. He is observing, walking among, evaluating, and protecting the church (the seven stars referred to by John). He holds the “seven stars” (the seven churches later referenced in the Book of Revelation) in his right hand, a place of honor. The church is never far away, unimportant, or absent and unaccounted for by Christ the King. His face, “shining like the sun in all its brilliance”, represents a Presence too powerful to resist. John says “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.” In other words, John passed out. Then, John adds, “He placed his right hand on me and said ‘Do not be afraid.’”
He says the same thing today to anyone who will listen.
As we leave Christ the King Sunday (November 24, 2013) and head toward the beginning of the Advent season, let’s remember Jesus no longer lives as a baby, or a carpenter, or a rabbi, or a master teacher and storyteller. He is God Almighty, who decided to become like one of us for a while: to live, to eat, to work, to cry, and to spend time living as we live, so that we can trust him when he says, “Do not be afraid.” He knows exactly how we feel because he has been one of us, but he was always more than we could ever be.
We can know him without fear, and experience all of the life and love he has for us. He is Christ the King and makes all things possible and do-able for those who follow him.
(c)2013 Deborah Evans
PositiveChristianity.org is one of my favorite resources. Here is their October 28, 2013 post:
t has been said, Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more
than standing in a garage makes you a car. I’ve met some of the finest
people that I’ve ever met in church, and also, to be honest, some of the
worst. Some people come to worship God in love, and some just to carry out
personal agendas, or human power trips. Of course the latter is missing
Personal power can be an addiction. Needing to be in control of others and
situations, can often rob a person of spiritual spontaneity of the
serendipitous experience of finding unexpected good.
The ultimate power, is human surrender, to experience the FULL power
of the infilling of the Christ.
Spiritual masters have said for centuries, that we must empty ourselves so
that we may be full. Each of us, at times, have been so full of ourselves
that nothing else could come in. This only continues for a temporary time
though, because we soon discover we are not any good on our own.
In (the book of) John, Jesus said, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I
judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the
will of the Father which hath sent me.”
In (the book of) John, Jesus said, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own
will, but the will of him that sent me.”
We must be about the business of God, not limited human agenda. The
business of God is love.
Each of us is probably felt alone and helpless at some point in our lives,
often at a time like this we want to take matters into our own hands and
control everything. But when we are in total human control of people, and
events—we are really out of control.
Especially at these times, let us remember that God is our protector and
provider. We may need to create an image in our minds that reassures us.
Can we envision ourselves protected as a child, who is tenderly cradled in
the arms of a loving parent? Perhaps we envision the way before us cleared
of all obstacles as we look for new opportunity.
These mental pictures serve us well, for they remind us that God’s
presence is everywhere that we are. They remind us that we can never be
where the presence of God is not. We do not have to be controlling to win
in life. We win in life when we allow God to inspire our thinking and
direct our moves. We win in life when our actions are for the good of all,
not just ourselves.
The real desire to control others and events has its root cause in fear.
When God surrounds us, and is within us—there is nothing to fear.
The ultimate power that we can feel as a human being is our connection
with our source of power, God.
If we are experiencing a challenge that is causing us to be confused, or
in doubt about the right decision to make, we do not have to have high
anxiety and fear about it. We don’t have to be in control, we have to be
Wherever we are, we can be in communion with God. No matter how trivial or
serious our challenge is, God will listen. God cares. As we talk with God
in prayer, our mind is eased, and the burden is lifted. We will often find
that our way is not the best way. God will guide us to the highest
possible solutions and wisdom. God will also guide our actions and our
As we speak freely and honestly with God, our mind and heart are opened to
Divine inspiration. As we listen to God, and emptying ourselves of
personal opinion, will, and agenda, we find that we can hear the answers,
and understand the guidance.
We relax in life as we let go. Joy and love come forth from our heart and
we are able to offer true words of praise and thanksgiving for the
unbelievable perfect answers to everything in our life.
---from PositiveChristianity.org, with many thanks!
Having grown up regularly attending Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, I recall my teachers often mentioning this: “God is watching!”
My child-mind imagined “God is watching” meant something like this: “In a place far away (and unknowable by you), God’s telescopic vision enables Him to see everything you do, so you’d better behave.”
My child-mind reasoned if God was far away, His telescopic vision might turn from me for a moment. During that moment, I might “get away” with something I wanted to do, but believed would be labeled “bad.”
The idea that God was in the room with us was never entertained by me or taught by my teachers. The thought of every movement and action happening in the very “face of God” was perhaps a bit too much for my teachers and was definitely more than I could imagine.
Julian of Norwich, one of my favorite devotional writers, describes all of creation as a walnut in the palm of God, a creation regarded with love by a “courteous” God.
Knowing God is omnipresent—present everywhere at all times—is at once comforting and troubling. Questions are raised by this knowledge. Why does a holy God tolerate the madness and atrocities that must offend His presence on a daily, hourly, and moment-by-moment basis? One might at the same time ask why we tolerate these things. Does God see more than we see in the events that surround us daily?
Lately, I have reminded myself three or four times per hour (usually silently if I’m with others): “God is in the room with me.”
This exercise informs me that everything I am and everything I am becoming is within God’s constant view. It is impossible for me to be forgotten, ignored, or overlooked by God. I do not have to ask God to “look down” from somewhere, because while God is in Heaven, God is also in the room (or car, or train, bus, etc.) with me.
Knowing this truth has restrained my speech, encouraged me to take necessary but difficult actions, and allowed me to easily drift off to sleep at the appropriate time.
Knowing God is “in the room with me” has revolutionized my prayer life. I no longer need to outline or explain my situation to God as a part of my prayer. God was right there when it all happened, or was all said, or all planned, etc.
Knowing that my entire self is open and present to the “face of God” means my daily experience is one in which I “live, move, and have my being” in God. I exist in Him. I am His creature and have no possibility of existence away or apart from Him. I cannot hide or obscure any part of myself from God. His presence, His observation, and His insight are beyond my ability to block or limit or redirect.
Knowing that God is always “right there” means it is possible for me to be totally honest, totally authentic, and totally the self He created me to be. It’s the beginning of knowing and living the life I was created to have.
(c) 2013 Deborah Evans
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” – 2 Corinthians 6:19, 20 (NIV)
More questions than answers can lead to growth. Keeping this in mind, I ask myself:
How is a temple cared for? What does a living temple look like?
Is it well-kept, clean, and representative of its God?
How would I dress and groom myself if I believed myself to be an ambassador and representative expression of God in the world?
How much restful sleep and exercise would I give myself? Would I see these as gifts or burdensome duties?
How much, and what type, of food and drink would I consume?
How would I eliminate stress and tension from my heart and mind? Would I have a plan for this, or simply “suppress my stress”, or leave stress reduction to chance?
How much time would I spend listening to the God who lives inside of me?
How would my relationships support my desire to be an honorable temple of God?
How often would I reflect upon what I am doing with my time on Earth?
How often would I reflect upon what facts will appear in my obituary?
How many new things would I learn within a year or two years?
How many times in a day would I show gratitude to those around me?
How quickly would I resolve to forgive those who have injured me, knowing full well that as God’s temple, my problems and “issues” will be correctly and thoroughly handled by God.
How much money would I share with others, knowing that God always takes financial care of His temple?
Would I make short or long term plans, or make major life decisions, without getting approval from the God who lives in me?
How many people would be glad to welcome me into their space?
Would my reliance upon God free me from social neediness and “people pleasing”?
Would others honor the God whose temple I am, or would they simple wonder how I “manage to do it all”?
How content would I be with my daily life?
How is a temple cared for? What does a living temple look like?
(c) 2013 Deborah Evans
“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” –Jesus Christ, in John 14:13 (NIV)
I have longed to hear a sermon or lesson on this topic, a sermon or lesson explaining why so often we ask for things and don’t get them. Aren’t we trying to do the will of God? Don’t we pray for what we think are good things? What goes wrong?
Are we asking for things that bring glory to us, or to something (church, club, organization, etc.) we’re affiliated with, rather than things that bring glory to God? What does it mean to ask for something in Jesus’ name?
How many prayers have we heard that had the phrase “In Jesus’ name we pray, amen” tacked onto the end of the prayer? What happened? Did everyone see the results requested?
Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words defines “name” in many ways, but here is the most useful definition: “a name implies authority, character, rank, majesty, power, excellence, of everything that the ‘name’ covers.”
Am I really in the habit of praying in Jesus’ name?
When I “pray in Jesus’ name”, am I speaking with His authority? After all, He told us to use His name in prayer. Am I speaking in His character---do I really know His character? Am I praying with His “rank”—do I see myself as “blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing”? According to Ephesians 1:3, I am! Do I love, revere, and embrace the majesty, power, and excellence of Jesus Christ in my prayer?
Does my having a luxury car, a bigger house, a new fur coat, and a huge 401K give glory to the Father? Maybe, maybe not. Do these things support and express the “name of Jesus”, or do these things make me look good, make me look “special and privileged”, or cause others to envy me without seeking after my Lord?
Why do I want these things?
What other things might I pray for?
I could pray for energy, creativity, discipline, endless joy, extreme courage, incredible patience, fully expressed loving-kindness. I could pray for abundance of wealth AND the freedom to give a good portion of it away, fully trusting God to take care of my needs and send me more! I could pray for great health and fitness so that I could stay longer in the Earth, and do more of what God wants me to do. I could pray for a loving, peaceful family so that such a family would be a witness for others. I could pray for the gift of hospitality, and of helps. I could pray for the gift of prophecy, and the courage to use it. I could pray for Earthly wisdom and supernatural, heavenly insight. I could pray for many things.
Do I need to PUSH—pray until something happens? How do I know when something HAS happened? My prayers will be answered in the spiritual realm first, then in the physical. There’s a reason Christians are told to walk by faith, not by sight. If I ask for something, I really believe God heard me the first time. God does not need to be reminded of anything, including what He has already said.
If I ask my father and mother if they will pay for my college expenses, and they tell me “yes, we will cover all of your college expenses”, I would look pretty silly going back to them and asking them for the same thing a day later, a week later, a month later. They have already answered my question and the answer is “yes.” When college begins and the bills are sent, my father and mother will pay them. I have no need to insist upon seeing cancelled checks and “paid in full” statements from the college. That’s walking by sight—needing to SEE something before I can relax and know it’s taken care of.
The disciples to whom Jesus spoke in John chapter 14 were not super-saints. One of them would openly betray Jesus within a few hours, the others would run and hide when Jesus was arrested and executed. It was to these men Jesus said: “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
We can tack a few words onto the ends of our prayers, or we can think, trust, act, believe, and live in the “authority, character, rank, majesty, power, and excellence” of Jesus Christ. We can fully reply upon The Invisible Presence Always With Us. There we will find power in our prayers.
(c) 2013 Deborah Evans
Can you evaluate your own spiritual progress, the state of your own heart and spirit? Do you need feedback from someone else to know where you stand? Outside input is often helpful, but there are things you can do on your own
In Matthew 12:34 (NIV), Jesus says: "You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks."
The Apostle Paul wrote the Christians in Corinth that they should examine themselves. How do we test ourselves? What going on in my heart? Jesus said out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.
How often do I catch myself "overflowing" with these types of statements:
"I knew it wouldn't work out."
"This is too much!"
"I'm sick to death of (him, her, this, etc...)"
"I owe, I owe, so off to work I go."
"As soon as we save a little money, some disaster comes along and sweeps away our savings."
"These kids are going to drive me crazy!"
"Lord, help me to hold out."
After all, I could say:
"This didn't work out as I'd planned and hoped, so another path is now clearly open to me."
"I can handle this, seek help, or say "no" to this."
"It's time for me to change my thinking about or my interactions with him, her, this, etc. ..."
"I thank God I have the means to meet my obligations."
"Nothing is 'too good to be true'. Was I ready for what I wanted?"
"I am earning enough, saving enough, and placing the works in of my hands in God's care."
"My children do not control my state of mind. God controls my state of mind."
"Lord, you called me to live an abundant life, so help me to move from 'survivor mode' to 'thriver mode.' "
I took this self-test and realized I have more work to do. How did you score on the test of "self-talk"? What's going on in your heart? Listen to what you say and you will know the answer.
(c) 2013 Deborah Evans
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