Forgiven

Have you seen the One For Israel YouTube channel? Oh my! Those who share their stories mesmerize me with their transparency and joy in Christ.

Last week I watched Jonathan share his story of learning to forgive a man who tried to kill him. Jonathan endured a horrible beating, five and half months in a coma and waged the internal battle of doing as Christ commanded, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” ~ Matthew 5:44, or seeking full justice against the man who hurt him.

Jonathan suffered at the hand of a fellow officer, Korish, while they were both serving in the army. Legally Jonathan had every right to hold Korish accountable. With one word from Jonathan, Korish would be sentenced for decades for his ruthless behavior. Not only that, Jonathan stood to be financially compensated for his suffering. All Jonathan had to do was say the word, and he’d see justice served and compensation fill his bank account.

Enter Jesus.

As Jonathan struggled to make the right decision, Jesus began changing the lives of many of Jonathan’s family members to the degree that Jonathan also started seeking Jesus and reading the bible. One day as Jonathan studied his bible he came across the Parable Of The Unforgiving Servant, (Matthew 18:21-35). Jesus told shared this parable to remind his listeners that we are all called to forgive, just as we are forgiven.

What an incredible emotional, psychological and spiritual battle Jonathan must have gone through. Can you imagine walking in his shoes?

The world screams for punishment of the foe and reparation for the injured. Jesus encourages forgiveness for all.

Jonathan’s story resonated with me is because, truth be told, there are a few people in my past whose memory make me cringe because of the pain associated with them. At the same time, my mistakes have caused others pain and to think of them now, I’m ashamed to admit the truth.

I wonder if Jonathan’s story resonates deep within you also. Maybe you’ve been horribly wronged and now you want restitution, payment of some sort. Or maybe you’ve walked in Korish’s shoes and you’ve hurt another person and are desperate for forgiveness, to make amends.

What should we do? Neither decision is easy to make. To whom shall we turn to ease our hearts, to free us from the pain?

Jesus.

Jesus teaches us to forgive just as have been forgiven. Yes, there are times when forgiving and seeking forgiveness feels impossible. But it’s not impossible. God says, “all things are possible through Christ who strengthens us.”

So today my friend, I pray you will find peace through Christ just as Jonathan has done. Seek to forgive and to be forgiven. If you don’t know the first step to take, seek the Lord, He will guide your footsteps towards healing.

I am praying for us both. Because I too need to forgive and be forgiven. Together let us boldly approach the throne of God and seek His holy face and may we be forever changed for His glory.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” ~ Matthew 7:7-8

For those who would like to view Jonathan’s full testimony please enjoy the attached video and may you be blessed.

Until we meet again, may God bless and keep you,

Empty Envelopes

Bah humbug!

The Covid Grinch has dashed our dreams of reconnecting our senior living community residents with their loved ones this holiday season. We are in a Covid hotspot and because of state restrictions, no one except medical staff are permitted inside the building until after the New Year. Which means, I have the pleasure of hand delivering resident mail to their rooms.

When I first started passing out resident mail I was certain that due to the impact of Covid and limited family visits, there’d be tons of cards, letters and packages delivered this holiday season.

Boy, was I was wrong.

As I sorted each person’s mail, I began to notice a pattern in who received mail and those who did not. Amazingly enough, only 10% of our residents consistently received and sent multiple letters each day.

I noticed something else, those who had the most incoming and outgoing mail were Believers. Because of my tenure I knew that these were the same folks who were always seen connecting with their neighbors and staff members within the community. What I was seeing played out in mail delivery confirmed one thing, these folks were walking out their faith in one of the few ways left available to them, snail mail.

Which led me to reflect on my own life and ask, do I live out my life for others to see Jesus in me?

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying we should act so as to garner praise from man. Loving Jesus means loving our neighbors by first seeking a relationship with Him. The more we spend time with Jesus the more He changes our lives, which in turn impacts those around us.

I believe Jesus works in our hearts and lives so that when we follow His leading to show encouragement, love and support, we do so in a manner that reflects our Lord.

Working in senior health care has given me the opportunity to put on the “fast forward 30 years…” lenses. This unique view allows me to pay attention to the lives I serve and to understand the value of choices and consequences. I’ve watched for years, those who believe God has a plan for their lives, make an impact for Him, by connecting with loved ones and community members whether it through a kind word or by sending out letters.

It’s true!

On the other hand, those who choose to isolate themselves from Jesus and the world tend to live a life of depression, loneliness and fear. Their choices cause them to walk forward into the latter chapter of their lives angry, bitter, frustrated and often alone.

Oh how I wish they knew the hope, the joy that comes from knowing Jesus!

Do you remember the AT&T commercials called “Reach out and touch someone?” The jingle was a cheery reminder to pick up the phone and call your loved one.

Learning to be a good friend, seeking opportunities to surround ourselves with a community, be it small or large, is one of God’s commandments for us as Believers and it’s also good for the soul.

Friends, we need each other. God designed us for community and relationship, first with Him and then with everyone He places in our lives, now and into our 80’s, 90’s and beyond!

My encouragement to you today is this:

Grab your bible and read, worship, pray, meditate and give thanks to the Lord above for all He has done. You are blessed!

Next, ask God to bring to mind those who need a friend. Maybe there’s a neighbor, niece, grandchild or a friend of a friend who’s going through a tough time. Send them a card letting them you know you are praying for them. Send them a copy of an article you’ve read that reminds you of them. What about forwarding a coloring page to complete that has a bible verse printed on it? Here is one of my favorites https://karladornacher.com/freebies/

Friends, there are a multitude of ways we can love our neighbor but let it begin with Jesus. Seek Him first, ask Him to lead you and to show you how to help your fellow man.

Lastly, be the example. Share God’s love with those in your life, whether its a kind word to the grocery clerk, mailman or your neighbor. Send encouraging notes, cards or an email. Make the phone call. Whatever it takes within safe reason, do so, remembering that God designed us for community.

Every day we see it on the news, hear it on the radio, people are suffering through this pandemic. You’re included in that number. Life is more challenging than ever, so ask the Lord who could really use a smile, a kind word, a prayer or a card? By reaching out to your loved ones, you are showing the love of Christ to others and in turn will be blessed with His joy.

In closing, I want you to know, I am praying for you and asking the good Lord to keep you safe, meet your needs and bless your life.

Until we visit again,

Merry Christmas my friend!
Stay safe and love God!

The Goodness and Sovereignty of God

This morning as I waited for our church’s online service to begin I scrolled through social media and one post in particular caught my eye because it mentioned God’s comfort for His people found in Isaiah 40.

In light of the COVID-19 virus and the high-alert we are living in at the moment, comfort seems to be in short supply lately.

Maybe that’s part of the problem. Our desire for our own comfort. In this day and age, our lives revolve around comfort. As I’m making dinner, I joke to my family about the commercials I see on tv because I am reminded that we are being programmed to believe it is our absolute right to sit on the couch, dial a number and wait to have, of all else, fast food, delivered to our doorstep.

Oh what a world we live in!

Convenience for convenience sake is mandatory.

Too tired to go through a drive-thru? No worries, push a button and 15 minutes later its at your doorstep.

Don’t want to lock your doors? That’s ok, an app connected to your home’s security system will do the trick.

What about cleaning? We’ve got you covered there too, a little programming and voila! your robotic sweeper will get your dust bunnies out the door before you ever step foot inside your home.

We are a people that demands ease. We crave it. We live for it. And frankly, I’m not so sure many of us really know how to live without it.

So when a pandemic hits out lives, our comfort is disrupted and complete chaos ensues.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against apps or programs that aid in our existence. But not to the extent that we forget who God is or worse, start believing that we are our own god. The captain of our own lives without recourse or accountability.

Yet, that’s where I think that’s the road we’re walking.

I for one, don’t want to join the masses.

Not joining in the crowds doesn’t mean my life isn’t effected by pain, heartache and viral pandemics. It is.

In fact, I work for a senior living, so yes, I’ve been living, working and navigating quarantines, fear-riddled residents and fielding nervous family members on how and what our facility is doing to keep everyone safe, all the while, washing my hands, sanitizing every surface and screening every delivery person that comes to the door.

And yet, I find myself at peace.

How is that possible? where does my comfort, peace and thanksgiving come from?

Only One. Jesus.

In fact, as I turned the pages of my bible to Isaiah 40, one verse in particular resonated with me this morning, Isaiah 40:11, “He tends His flock like a shepherd, He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.”

Now maybe it’s because I am a momma and I love how we are told God carries us close to His heart. There is something so tender about these verses and knowing that God, in His infinite love, grace and wisdom, holds us, reminds me that we are loved by God the Father.

The imagery this verse conjures, for me is sweet, precious and tender. A gentle reminder that God is caring for us always. That He loves us so much that He tends to our needs, protecting us from danger, showing us the way to walk through this life in safety and trust in Him.

I am humbled to know that God carries me close to His heart. Just like a momma with her child, God is ever mindful of our every need and quick to provide.

Today I want to leave you with that image and His words of truth and promise.

We serve a mighty God. Our everlasting Savior and loving Shepherd looks out for us, now in this distressing time and always.

So dear friends, my prayer is this, may you rest in the arms of your Lord and Savior. Trust that He will carry you, lead you and provide for you as only He can because He knows you so well.

Until next time,
I am praying for you,