Sunday, November 20, 2011

No Record of Wrongs

Have you ever offended someone? Have you said the wrong thing, did the wrong thing, or simply made choices that others disagreed with and it somehow offended them? I am honest enough to say I have done it. My intentions are never to offend others, but it happens inevitably at times. Sometimes we can offend without even realizing it and other times it is obvious to everyone.

Have careless words from others ever wounded your heart? Maybe it was words spoken by a spouse, friend, sibling, parent, or an authority figure. It seems like those closest to us can leave the deepest wounds in our hearts. What did you do with that offense? Did you stew over it, hold on to it as your “precious,” give the cold shoulder and avoid that person, or let go of it?

In the past I’ve been a person that was easily offended. I’ve learned now that holding on to an offense will rob me blind and lead me to places I never intended to go if I let it. Holding on to that offense, only hurts YOU in the end. Offense left alone will grow and fester like an infected wound. It will cause you to become a bitter, angry person who looks nothing like the person who first faced that offense in the beginning.

An offense is choosing to place a “fence” up in your lives to keep people out. My husband is the most forgiving person I know. He has told me several times in our marriage when I was offended with him that “if you are offended, it’s because you have offense in you.” Good reminder. Who have we placed the fence up in our hearts and lives to keep out?

I read a good book in the past that really opened my eyes to this called "The Bait of Satan” by John Bevere. It really helped me see how I had put unrealistic expectations on people that they had no idea about. They could never measure up in my eyes and I never gave anyone the benefit of the doubt. My first thought was negative and the worst case scenario. I learned that it wasn’t fair to do that to others. If the tables were turned, I would never want that to be thought of me.

Why do we do it? Why do we choose to hold on to offense? I remember one night seeing what I was doing in a picture in my mind. It was as if I was a prison guard and each person that had offended me was locked up in their own cell with me holding the keys. The problem was that I was the ONLY one allowed to guard them and be in possession of the keys that held their freedom.

As I began to pray and ask God to search my heart, He convicted me of my behavior. My passion to punish those who offended me was paralyzing my ability to be used by God. My life was consumed with retribution. God convinced me that He would do a better job at that than I could. He wanted the keys and He wanted to transfer ALL the prisoners I was holding into His capable hands. The day I gave the keys to God was the day I was set free from years of offense. What a feeling! I felt lighter inside… the burden I was carrying was GONE.

I can’t say that it’s been easy since then. Habits were formed, but God is bigger. I am LESS likely to choose to be offended now, because I’m not willing to pay the price to hold on to that offense. I like to choose to give the “gift” of the benefit of the doubt to others. It’s the gift I would like to receive from them.

What do you do when you are offended? Are you are “record keeper” or a “gift giver”? Record keepers keep track of how they have been wronged or how others have “failed” them. They keep a mental list to track any person that has ever offended them. Gift givers give freely the gift of the “benefit of the doubt” and a second chance. They have learned that life is short and it’s not worth holding on to an offense. How do you want to respond the next time you are offended?

I Corinthians 13:4-6 says…
“Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.” (GNT)

Choose to show love to others by letting go of offenses and loving them unconditionally. No matter what the offense, let God have the keys to the prison doors you have locked them up inside. We need to trust that He knows what is best for them! God always has your best interest at heart. It’s not easy, but it’s always worth it.

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Under Lock and Key


God has been really weighing on my heart lately the desire to help others build healthy marriages. So many people are tossing in the towel and giving up on the “love” of their lives after years of commitment. Why do they do it? There are many reasons given, but regardless of those don’t let the next marriage to fail be yours. If we believe God can heal hearts and lives, we have to believe God can heal broken marriages too. I dare you to trust your life and marriage to God. He specializes in making something beautiful out of brokenness.

I will be touching on this topic quite a bit in the upcoming posts. I want to give you some resources to help you set healthy boundaries to protect your life and marriage. These were given out at a youth ministry retreat we helped with years ago. There are practical ideas listed below for men and women. I pray this helps you begin the process of protecting or restoring your marriage.

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie


FOR MEN

Keep everything in the LIGHT!
L – live above reproach (become a person of integrity)
I – imagine life differently if you acted on your impulses
G – guard your heart (from sin)
H – humble yourself (find some accountability partners)
T – talk openly with God and your spouse


The cost of giving into your impulses is not worth it!
1. lose respect for yourself
2. lose the respect of your spouse & children
3. loss of ministry credentials
4. lose your ministry position
5. lose the respect of your church

When you are tempted to give in to temptation, ask yourself the following questions:

What consequences could I face by acting on this now?
What could I lose?
How will this affect my future?
Is it worth it?
Who could I ask to help me prevent this from happening again?


PROTECT YOURSELF

1. Stay connected with God

2. Stay connected with your spouse

3. Find some accountability partners

4. Never be alone with the opposite sex

Meetings - have them with the door open, or in an area where you can be seen or interrupted.

Rides home - don’t give the opposite sex a ride home alone, take someone with you.

*Make sure all of your leaders know not to leave the church until all the kids are gone so you aren’t left alone with anyone.

5. Steer students of the opposite sex with unhealthy attachments to you, to your spouse or another adult leader of the same sex

6. No two-handed chest to chest hugs with the opposite sex
(One arm side hugs ONLY)

7. No extended times online with the opposite sex

8. Keep your computer in a public place where you can be interrupted

9. Make time limits for yourself when it comes to free time spent on the computer online

10. Find and install accountability or filtering software to protect your computer and to guard your integrity


FOR WOMEN

1. Be supportive & encouraging to your husband
(Or someone else will)

2. Make your house a “home”
(Your home needs to be a place of refuge for your husband not another battle ground)

3. Communication is the key
(It is the life line of a marriage)

-take time to clarify (nobody ever catches the hints dropped)
-openly share your feelings (there is no room for guessing)
-watch your tone (how you say it makes a difference)
-timing is everything (when and where you share makes all the difference)
-learn to listen (hear his side with out reacting)
-learn to accept your part in any disagreements

4. Keep your marriage alive
(Don’t let the romance die!)

-keep flirting, holding hands, hugging, sending notes, etc…
-find what says “I love you” to your spouse
-start each day out by saying “I love you”
-do something for your spouse that he could do for himself
-go along to get along on occasion (compromise)
-learn to look through your husbands eyes

5. Win his heart and turn his head
(Work to keep him turned toward you)

-keep your husbands attention (do new things like when you were dating)
-take care of yourself (hair, make-up, dress, etc…)
-if you don’t win his heart and turn his head someone else will

6. Protect your treasure
(Realize what a treasure you have in your husband)

-be thankful for what you have
-imagine life with out him
-help protect the gift God has given you

Internet (put your computer in a public place, get a filter)

Help keep him from being alone with the opposite sex (be sensitive)

Stay intimate so he won’t be tempted sexually

Stay connected spiritually (Don’t keep your relationships with God hidden)

Carry each others burdens (create a safe place to share struggles with out judgment)


7. Guard your heart
(Strive to keep your heart tender towards God)

-confess, ask forgiveness, and turn from sin on a regular basis
-wash in the word daily (allow God’s word to cleanse you of sin)
-learn to forgive and forget the past (when it comes to others)
-stay connected to God by talking to Him on a regular basis
-take time to listen to God and allow Him to direct your steps
-choose to continue to grow in God
-choose to avoid criticism, comparing, bitterness, anger, resentment, jealousy, etc… from dwelling in your heart
-don’t allow yourself to be put in a position to fail
-reserve your heart for God and your husband alone