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The Consolation Prize?

 

20130506-195126Catherine’s Story

Have you ever felt like you’re getting the consolation prize in life? You know how the winner on those old TV game shows would get some fabulous prize like a trip to Hawaii and the losers would get a blender?

I will confess to you, for a long time I thought that people who were joyful over God’s hope must be cut from a different cloth than me. Maybe they were just naïve, or more spiritual than me. Or maybe they just had nothing in this life they were hoping for, and so hope in God was all they had. I decided, subconsciously, that God’s brand of hope was kind of the consolation prize for people who lose.

Recently I found out that a dear friend of mine is expecting. She and her husband had struggled with infertility and had basically given up hope, and she is near the end of her childbearing years, and so this was an unexpected thrill for both of them. Now, I will tell you I am thrilled for them, but when she told me, for a moment I was nearly overcome with pain and sadness.

In my own life, a deep grief has been not being able to bear children. I got my hope of finding a wonderful man. But the hope of children, at least in the natural, wasn’t fulfilled. And I have grieved over that.

The Bible says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12). Heart-sick means crushed in spirit. Have you ever felt like your spirit was crushed? God understands this and He is there to comfort us in times of heart ache and grief. It says in Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”

I thought I had dealt with my own loss a long time ago. But when I heard that my friend is expecting, I found myself saying, “God, that’s great what you did for my friend, but what about me? Why did I get passed over?”

And right at that time, I sensed His Spirit saying, “are you sure that’s not still what you think I am, the ‘consolation prize’?”

I wrestled with Him over that in my heart, for the better part of a day until I was finally able to say, “Lord, You are not the consolation prize, You are the only real prize. And You love me, and Your plan is perfect. I will put my hope in You.” And His peace flooded over me again.

Your situation may be entirely different than mine. We each have our own blessings and gifts, and we each have our own challenges and griefs. But God can meet us where we are, when we’re honest with Him, and He can fill us fresh with His hope.

David said in Psalm 42:11, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” That is living in His hope. We can have hope, because we have a God we can trust.

Going Vertical!
MJ

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Clinging to Hope

20130422-224626“I don’t know if you remember me. I hope I’m not bothering you…” The man’s voice is hesitant, almost apologetic, with a distinct midwestern drawl.

The number on my phone shows an unfamiliar town in Missouri, and the voice isn’t registering as anyone I know. Wrong number?

“We met on the bus to Springfield,” the man continues. “I had just gotten out of prison.”

My heart jumps as it all comes rushing back. Just after New Year’s. The greyhound bus from St. Louis to visit my grandmother.

The young man sitting next to me had struck up a conversation with me during the three-hour trip. He revealed that he had just gotten out of prison. That morning. Drugs and the wrong friends had messed up his life, but he was ready for a fresh start, he’d said.

“Fresh start.” Those were his very words. Jesus had met him in prison, he’d said, and he had read the Bible he’d been given over and over. When I told him about Fresh Start For All Nations and the blog I write, he agreed to let me tell his story. “If my story can encourage someone else, then please use it.”

Before I got off the bus, I gave him my business card with the Fresh Start website. It was only afterwards I realized it had my personal cell phone number too. Was it wise for a single girl to give her phone number to an ex-con?

And now, four months later, he’s calling me.

“I’ve gotten mixed up with my old friends,” he confesses softly. “And I’ve started doing drugs again.” I can hear the defeat in his voice.

My heart is heavy. He was so hopeful when I met him a few months ago. So confident. And now…

“I’ve been looking through old phone numbers,” the man continues, “and I remember that you were so sweet and encouraging. I was just wondering if maybe you would pray for me.”

What else can I do? I feel so helpless.

“Can I pray for you right now?” I ask. The man agrees. Taking a deep breath, I plead on behalf of this broken man.

“Father, thank you for your grace and forgiveness…” I ask God to be with this man, to bring him good friends, to help him get connected with a good church and a recovery support group. “…And most of all, may he know how much you love him…”

When I finish, the man thanks me. “That was so sweet. I really appreciate it.”

As I hang up, I still wonder if I did the right thing. But what else could I have done? “Always be prepared to give an answer… for the hope that you have,” we’re encouraged in I Peter 3:15. Hope – that’s what this man needed.

Is there someone God has brought in your path who is in need of HOPE? Are you prepared to give the reason for the hope that you have? All you can do is point that person to the One who is the source of all hope – Jesus. And pray that he or she will cling to that hope. It’s a hope that does not disappoint us.

Going Vertical!
MJ

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El Cordero – The Lamb

toy-sheep-307203-m“Ooh! He’s so cute!” The four-year-old preschool class passes around my stuffed lamb excitedly. We’re learning the names of animals in Spanish class, and today’s animal is ‘el cordero’ = the lamb.

“What color is el cordero?” I ask the class. Hands shoot up eagerly. These kids know their colors in Spanish. “Yes, Joshua?”

“Blanco!” shouts Joshua confidently.

“Muy bien! Very good. And who can tell me about the lamb? What does it feel like?”

“It’s SUAVE! Soft!” grins Kyleigh, stroking the stuffed animal.

“That’s right! Did you know that Jesus is called ‘El Cordero de Dios’ – the Lamb of God?” Ten pairs of eyes are fixed on me and my white stuffed lamb. “In Bible times, if people did something wrong, they would give a lamb as a gift to God, to tell Him they were sorry. And they would ask God to forgive them. And do you think God forgave them?”

“Yes!” chorus the preschoolers.

“But when Jesus came, He was called the ‘Lamb of God’. And He took away all the bad things we’ve done when He died on the cross and came to life again. So now if we do something wrong, we just have to tell Jesus we’re sorry and ask Him to forgive us. And does God forgive us?”

“YES!”

“Aren’t you glad you don’t have to drag a big smelly sheep to church every time you do something wrong?”

Charlotte giggles as Caleb makes a bleating sound like a lamb. “Baa! Baa!”

Watching the preschoolers color their lamb pictures, I have to smile. Trying to explain Jesus as the Lamb of God to a group of 4-year-olds is not easy. But it’s given me a new understanding and appreciation of what it means to be forgiven – not because I deserve it, not because I’ve earned it, not because I’ve “paid” for it. Forgiveness is a free gift. The Lamb of God has come to bring forgiveness, so that I can forgive, and so that I can be FREE!

Have YOU received the FORGIVENESS offered by the Lamb of God? 

Going Vertical!
MJ

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:29 (NLT)

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Is It Enough?

20130402-223153

 

“Trapped. Hopeless. Depressed. That’s how I felt after four intense years of teaching English in an extremely sensitive, highly stressful area in northeast Asia.”

Thirteen pairs of eyes watched me intently as I began my story at this foreign English teachers’ retreat. Seated on metal folding chairs in a semi-circle were American teachers from a large university in Asia. They were all single women, ranging from age twenty-three to fifty-something. Several of these ladies had served in this country for five, ten, fifteen years. I could see the weariness in some of their eyes.

I had only just met these women. And I didn’t know their stories. Yet I felt such a strong connection to them. I wanted to fling my arms around them and say, ‘I know what it’s like! I’ve been there too!’

“Many times over those months and years in Asia, I wondered what on earth God was doing,” I continued. “I couldn’t see the results of all my work and investment in relationships. I struggled with homesickness, cultural barriers, serious conflicts with team members. And I felt so alone.”

“Yet time after time I felt the Father gently ask me, ‘Is it enough that I have asked you to come and you have obeyed? Even if you never understand? Even if you never see any results? Can you trust Me?’ ”

“Over and over again I had to surrender to Him, not knowing or understanding it all, but trusting that He would somehow, someday use it for good.”

I smiled. “You know, God didn’t have to show me why I experienced some of the hard things I went through.” I had to fumble for a tissue in my pocket before I could go on. “But here I am today, standing before all of you, sharing my story. And I feel He’s giving me just a tiny glimpse of His bigger purpose.”

At the end of the three-day retreat, one young woman came up to me with a broad smile. “I love how much you cry,” she said. “Thank you for being so real and vulnerable in sharing your story. It gives me permission to cry too.”

The author of Corinthians says that “…the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort… comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (II Cor 1:3-4, NIV).

If through my tears I can encourage one woman that she is not alone, if I can remind her that God has a purpose in HER pain, if I can give her hope that she, too, can find help in her time of need, then it’s all worth it. Because HE is worth it.

Going Vertical!
MJ

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Who Are You Dragging Around?

20130227-223409“You’re worthless! You’re stupid! You’ll never amount to anything!”

The clanking of heavy chains punctuated the harsh taunts as Gloria dragged Pastor Steve around the room of our East Asia Fresh Start seminar. Her sagging shoulders and pained expression revealed that this was more than just a role-play. Squirming in my seat, I cringed as the scenario was played out before me.

It had started with a question. “Who has hurt you the most in your life?” Pastor Steve had asked Gloria.

“My father,” she had responded without hesitation. “He is always criticizing me, always telling me I’m not good enough.” Though Gloria said she had forgiven him, it was clear that she was still affected by his negative opinion of her.

“I’m going to represent your father,” Pastor Steve had then explained. “I want you to wrap this chain around me and drag me around the room.” With a slightly skeptical look, Gloria agreed. But quickly the painful reality of what this represented became apparent. Gloria’s normally cheerful face clouded as Pastor Steve voiced the negative comments and criticism of her father. Soon she was in tears, as were most of the others in the room.

After what seemed an eternity, Pastor Steve told her she could stop. “Do you want to keep dragging your father around with you?” he asked her gently. “Do you want to keep defining yourself by his opinion of you?” Gloria shook her head emphatically.

“Are you ready to forgive your father and let him go?” She threw down the chains she’d been holding as if they were poisonous snakes. “Yes! I want to forgive him.”

At Pastor Steve’s encouragement, Gloria prayed aloud, voice quavering with emotion. “God, I forgive my father for rejecting me, for criticizing me, for judging me. I don’t want to carry this bitterness anymore! I let it go right now!”

“Now do you want to hear what your Heavenly Father thinks about you?” asked Pastor Steve softly. “He says that you are beautiful. He says that you are precious. He says you are valuable. He says He has good plans for you. He says you are His beloved daughter, in whom He is well pleased! You have the best Papa! He loves you so much!” Tears rolled down Gloria’s cheeks as the truth of the words began to take effect.

“I have the best Papa! I have the best Papa!” A smile broke out as she repeated the words over and over. “I have the best Papa!”

What about you? Are you dragging around someone that you haven’t forgiven? Is that person’s opinion of you drowning out what God says about you? You can’t fully receive the truth of who your Heavenly Father says you are until you FORGIVE the one who has hurt you, RELEASE the person and the effects to God, and allow Him to heal those deep wounds in your heart. Let go of bitterness and unforgiveness today and receive the love and acceptance that your Papa has for you! You have the best Papa anyone could ever have!

“I have loved you with an everlasting love…”
“…and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
Jeremiah 31:3a (NRSV), Deuteronomy 33:27a (NKJV)

Going Vertical!
MJ

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Not For Common Use

20121015-212259Smile firmly in place, Marcos gave a firm handshake or a bear hug to each person who entered the room for the Fresh Start seminar. A friendly, easy-going guy, Marcos was the type of person you could talk to easily and feel comfortable around. He was excited about our visiting Fresh Start team and the week’s seminar on “Processing the Issues of Your Heart.” But there was something in his eyes, behind his smile. A hint of hidden pain.

Day after day, all through the week, Marcos listened attentively with the other participants in the seminar but didn’t talk much. Yet it was clear he was doing a lot of internal processing. Wide-eyed, he took in each story told by the Fresh Start team, writing copious notes.

“It was something that happened when I was a child,” he said when asked to identify the person or loss he was processing that week. Though he didn’t share any more details, he told us that he felt shame because of that experience. “It’s affected all my relationships, including my relationship with God.”

On the last day, Marcos finally gave us a glimpse of what he’d been processing. He started by reading aloud from Romans 9:20-21. “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?”

“All my life I’ve felt like I was born for ‘common use,’ ” Marcos confessed softly. “I’ve felt I was created for dishonor, for shame. God seemed far away.” He was silent for a moment, then continued. “But this week God has told me, ‘You thought I was far away. But I’ve been walking with you .’ Now my eyes are open and I can see all the good things He has done for me.”

“I’ve felt so much change in my heart,” Marcos continued, a grin spreading over his face. “I feel healed, able to forgive, able to let God fill my heart. Now I know that I wasn’t created for common use. I wasn’t created for shame. And I want people to know that no one is created for common use.”

The transformation was evident in Marcos as he summed up his week’s experience. “I’m re-born. I’m ready for God to deposit more in my life. It’s a new page. A new beginning!”

Has an event or hurt from your past left you feeling ashamed, dirty, rejected, abandoned, or unwanted? That experience doesn’t have to DEFINE you. You are NOT a sum total of your life’s experiences! Ask the Lord to help you identify the lingering residue of hurts or losses in your life, to forgive those who have offended or hurt you, and to remove those untrue “labels” of shame, rejection, or dishonor. Ask Him to show you who He says you are. He says you are Beautiful. Valued. Loved. Accepted. Secure. You were not created for common use. You were created for something special!

Going Vertical!
MJ

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

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The God of Second Chances

20130107-125221Hands folded patiently in his lap, the figure in the tan coat stared fixedly out the window as the city sped past. Cars rushing commuters to work. Snowy streets, glinting in the early morning sun. The sprawling baseball stadium. The bustling train station. The famous St. Louis arch. Hungry eyes soaked it all in.

“It’s the little things I look forward to – going into the kitchen, opening the fridge, getting something to eat.” My fellow passenger spoke in a low voice, tentatively, as if it might not happen if he spoke too loudly.

“I grew up going to church,” he told me, glancing at the Bible on my lap. “But in my 20s I got mixed up in drugs…” A deep sigh revealed a bit of the pain of his choices. “That’s what landed me in prison.”

Suddenly he rummaged in the bag at his feet, producing a small black New Testament with a motorcycle on the cover. “I joined a recovery group in there – they talked about how to get out of my addictions. And they gave me this.” He held it gently, turning it over in his rough hands. “I’ve read the whole thing three times.”

“If I hadn’t gone to prison, I don’t think I would be alive. I was on a dangerous path.” A foot tapped the floor anxiously with the memories. “But if God can turn my life around, he can help anyone.” The gratitude in his weathered face spoke volumes.

“I’ve been up since 4am.” Chuckling, he tugged at the knit cap pulled low on his head. “I was so excited, I couldn’t sleep. This is my first day out.” Eyes weary with all they’d seen, and longing for all they’d not seen, now glimmered with faint hope. “I’m going to my sister’s house – I can’t wait to see my niece and nephew. It’s been a long time…. I’m ready for a fresh start.”

Do you feel it’s too late for a fresh start in your life? Our God is the God of second chances. And third chances. And one hundredth chances. You are never too far gone. All you have to do is quit running. Quit trying to fix your own life. Quit trying to put all the pieces back together. Let Him take over and give you a fresh start!

In this new year, why not give your past, present, and future to the One who knows it all? He loves you dearly and wants to make something beautiful of your life. And just like my friend on the bus, your story can be a story of hope to someone else who desperately needs to know the transforming and restoring power of God’s mercy, grace and forgiveness!

Going Vertical!
MJ

“GOD made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him. When I cleaned up my act, he gave me a fresh start. … I feel put back together, and I’m watching my step. GOD rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.”
(2 Samuel 22:21-25 The Message)

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Don’t Compare!

20130211-213950“What’s wrong with me? I have no right to be sad. There are so many people who have it much worse than me. Think of Jennifer. Her sister was killed in a car accident at 21, and then her son had cancer at age four. Or what about Sarah, who just had a miscarriage after praying for and waiting for a baby for so long? My loss is nothing compared to that.”

Shifting in my chair at the beautiful mountainside retreat center in Hong Kong, I try to pay attention to the Fresh Start seminar. Just days before I left for the East Asia trip, I got the news that my sweet 101-year-old grandmother had gone to be with Jesus. It wasn’t really a great surprise. We all knew it could be any day. And it wasn’t a great tragedy. I know she is now in heaven, and is no longer limited by her frail physical body or weakened memory.

Yet I still miss her. For the past four and a half years, I helped my mom to care for my “Abuela,” who lived with my parents. Every day we got her up, helped her get dressed, and took her to the table in the sunny yellow living room for a breakfast of shredded wheat cereal with sliced bananas and 2% milk. Abuela loved to watch the cardinals and chickadees and goldfinches that came to peck at the birdseed in the feeders my mom placed by the windows.

Abuela loved anything pink. Her eyes would light up at the sight of flowers, especially if they were pink carnations or roses or lilies. “Oh my,” she’d say softly. “How pretty!” Abuela loved babies and young children. She’d reach out her hand and touch the chubby cheeks and smile. “Why, hello there! Aren’t you cute!” Abuela loved her family. She may not have remembered what she had for lunch a few minutes earlier, but she never forgot the faces of her children and grandchildren, and even her great grandchildren. And Abuela loved her Jesus. Each night when we prayed before bed, even if her sometimes muddled mind couldn’t say anything else, she never failed to say, “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus.”

The tears are coming now as I picture her gentle smile and warm eyes. I wipe my face and try again to concentrate on what Pastor Steve is saying.

“You can’t compare your offense, hurt or loss horizontally,” I hear him tell the eager crowd, then pause for translation. “There will always be someone else who has it worse or better than you. Resist the temptation to compare your situation to others.”

It feels like he’s talking just to me. How does he know what I’m thinking?

“Don’t minimize the loss or the hurt,” Pastor Steve continues. “Jesus didn’t minimize it. He thought it was worth going to the cross for.”

My accusing inner thoughts are silenced. It’s true. I’ve been comparing my loss to others, and feeling like I have no right to grieve because my loss isn’t as great as someone else’s. But though I am happy that Abuela is in heaven, though I am thankful for her 101 years of life, though I am grateful that I had so much time with her at the end of her life, I am still grieving the loss of not having her with us on this earth. I need to allow myself to grieve. I need to give myself permission to be sad. I need to recognize that it’s OK to miss her. And I need to stop comparing myself to others.

Jesus wept at the grave of his friend Lazarus, even though he knew that he would raise Lazarus from the dead a few minutes later. He allowed the time and space for grieving. He “wept with those who wept” (Rom 12:15), sharing the loss of Mary and Martha. He didn’t minimize their sadness, but joined them in their grieving process.

My loss is significant. Because my heart is important to my heavenly Father. He understands when I have moments of missing my Abuela’s girlish giggle, or her meticulous way of washing dishes, or her gentle kiss on my cheek when I said goodnight. He allows me to cry, to mourn, to grieve. And He gives me the hope that though “weeping may last for the night, joy comes in the morning!” I look forward to that eternal morning, when I will see my sweet Abuela again, and when my Jesus will wipe away every tear.

Going Vertical!
MJ

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.”
Psalm 30:5b (NLT)

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A City Without Walls

20121008-162053I apologize in advance for bringing up an indelicate topic. Miss Manners may not approve. But I have to say that there’s no sound I hate more than the sound of someone clearing the mucus in his throat and getting ready to spit. Just the thought of it makes me convulse involuntarily. Unfortunately, in the four years I lived in east Asia, I had to get used to that sound as a part of everyday life.

“It’s because of the pollution – that’s why people spit so much,” local friends told me. “It’s the dust in the air from the Gobi Desert,” others explained. “The wind blows it here and it irritates people’s throats when they breathe.” “It’s just a cultural thing,” some said, “We’ve always done it.” Whatever the reason, I didn’t like it. But I couldn’t make it go away. So I had to come to peace with the fact that people spit in this area of the world. And I tried to focus on all the wonderful things I loved about that country and culture, and ignore the spitting.

And it worked for awhile. I would still grimace and shudder when people passing me on the sidewalk started clearing their throats. But I told myself it didn’t bother me.

In my fourth year of teaching English in east Asia, however, everything started getting on my nerves. The mobs of people pushing to get to the ticket counter in the train station. The crowds jostling each other to get on or off the bus. The taxi drivers charging three times the normal rate just because I wasn’t a local. The kids staring at me as I rode my bicycle to school, and shouting “wai guo ren! wai guo ren!” (foreigner! foreigner!). But the thing that irritated me the most, like fingernails scraping on a chalkboard, was the clearing the throat and spitting.

One particular day as I was walking to classes, I was inwardly seething at the seeming rudeness and insensitivity of people around me. “If ONE MORE PERSON spits on the street,” I vowed to myself as I clenched my fists, “I’m going to PUNCH HIM!”

As soon as the thought crossed my mind, I was appalled at myself. “How could I even THINK such a thing? What is WRONG with me?”

Sadly it took me many months to identify the root of my angeryears of building frustration from feeling misunderstood, unappreciated, overworked, and not listened to by those in position of authority over me. But the threatening explosions of anger and feeling out of control of my emotions were the warning signals that something in my heart wasn’t right. And as I began to process the hurts that had led to this point, and to repent of my wrong responses, finally I was able to conquer my anger as I released my pain to God and chose to forgive those that had hurt me.

“Like a city breached, without walls, is one who lacks self-control” (Proverbs 25:28). Do you feel like your emotions are out of control? Are you letting the hurts and challenges of life tear down the protective walls around your heart? Have you allowed anger, bitterness and unforgiveness to move in and take residence?

Examine the walls of your heart today. Forgive those who’ve offended you. Pour out the pain of your heart to God. And allow Him to repair the broken-down places. And ask the Holy Spirit to help you to guard your heart, so that your anger doesn’t get out of control!

“Above all else, GUARD YOUR HEART*, for it is the wellspring of life.”
Proverbs 4:23
(NIV)
*emphasis mine

Going Vertical!
MJ

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Getting Off The Judge’s Seat

gavel

“Court is now in session! The court presents the case of The World vs. Michelle, the honorable judge Michelle presiding.”

In the case of anyone who has ever offended me in my life, I am the self-appointed prosecuting attorney, testifying witness, acting jury, and judge. I imagine myself sitting on the judge’s seat on a huge elevated platform, in my black robe, curled and powdered wig firmly in place, as in paintings I’ve seen of Colonial Williamsburg days.

Bang! Bang! Pounding my wooden gavel on the podium, I call the first witness to the stand – myself.

“Your Honor, the accused has committed unpardonable crimes against Your Honorable self, which you will find listed on this record.”

A scroll is rolled out the length of the courtroom, the end finally bumping to a halt against the far wall. The prosecuting attorney reads the list of offenses aloud.

“The accused is charged with:
Insensitivity to Your Honor’s feelings,
Critical words,
Unacceptable behavior,
Failure to admit fault,
Lack of apology…”

“Guilty! Guilty!” scream the jury, before the list is even finished. The many faces of my own emotions scowl from the jury stand – anger, bitterness, wounded pride, fear of others’ opinions, self-righteousness, a critical spirit, desire for revenge.

“Order! Order in the court!” I pound the gavel to silence the crowd.

“In the case of The World vs. Michelle, the court finds the accused guilty and sentenced to a life of shame and condemnation, without chance of parole.”

Have you ever wanted to be the judge in the case of someone who has hurt or offended you? Have you been sitting on the judge’s seat in your own heart? What does that person “owe” you? What would your sentence be?

But what if the scene were to change, and I were the one being accused? There IS a supreme Judge over all mankind, who has every reason to condemn me to a life sentence without parole. The Bible says that we will “have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word” (Matt 12:36), and that “God will judge men’s secrets” (Rom 2:16). Nothing is hidden from him. And no clever defense attorney can talk us out of the due penalty for our sins. Our only hope is in our Advocate, Jesus Christ, who “is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Rom 8:34).

The amazing, incomprehensible miracle of grace is that Jesus steps in before the gavel comes down, and says that He will take my sentence upon Himself. How can I refuse such an offer? And once I realize how much I have been forgiven, how can I possibly stand in judgment of another who has offended me?

As I mentally get up out of the judge’s seat, take off my powdered wig, and lay down my gavel, I return that rightful place to the Supreme Judge. I tear up the “sentence” of what the offending person “owes me” and lay it at the feet of Jesus. Forgiving doesn’t mean that person is off the hook. It just means they’re off MY hook. I’M not the judge. I’ll leave that job to the Creator of the Universe. For as I’ve been forgiven, I must forgive.

Going Vertical!
MJ

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
Luke 6:37 (NIV)