One of the lessons I have learned is that forgiveness is important to God and important to the process of getting to the next level. The Word of God makes it very clear that forgiveness is important, in fact, Jesus said in the book of Matthew that “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15). So, forgiveness is a vital part of our process as believers in Jesus and Jesus makes it very clear that to be forgiven, we must also forgive. Yet, I know firsthand how difficult forgiveness can be, especially when the people you should forgive have been trusted with your heart or your finances or even your children. It can also be especially difficult to forgive someone who is not apologetic about their behavior because in their minds they have done nothing wrong.
I have heard so many people say that forgiveness is not about the person you need to forgive, it’s about you and they are correct. In the scripture verse above Jesus never said that you need to forgive them to their face or tell them that you forgive them. He did not say that you need to wait until they apologize or until they recognize their wrong. He said to forgive and you will be forgiven, so it is not about the person who hurt you, it is about you. Forgiveness is about you being free of the sting of what happened; it is about you being available in your heart, mind, and spirit to really enjoy the freedom Christ brought for you when He died on the cross. Forgiveness releases you from the bondage of what they did to you. Forgiveness not only allows you to release them, but it also releases you from the pain of what they did. It allows you to walk away clear, knowing that you have done what you needed to do.
I know that it can be painful to think about what someone else has done to you and it can be hard to let that go. It’s easier to hold onto something and to seemingly hold your pain over someone else’s head but it’s causing you harm, blocking your prayers, and hindering you from the greater God wants to do in your life. I know this because a few years ago, God began to deal with me on this very subject. People I allowed in my life took advantage of me in so many ways, they’d taken my gifts, my love, and more and that hurt me, but for me to move on with my life in freedom, I needed to forgive them. So, for a few months I read through and prayed through a book called O Lord, Forgive Them: 30 Days of Praying for Your Enemies by Zari Banks. The book is designed as a 30-day devotional, but my first time reading through it, it took me nearly double the time because as I prayed through the book the Lord dealt with me on how I allowed the hurt inflicted on me by others to stop me from pursuing my dreams. He dealt with me on the hurt I had for people living and dead and how I did not want to forgive them because I wanted something to be angry about and I wanted to have something to hold over those who had hurt me. I felt justified in my unforgiveness because they did not deserve it, but then the Lord said to me, “but do you deserve forgiveness?” That cut like a knife deep in my heart because the truth is I did not deserve forgiveness, it is only be His mercy and death on the cross that I am even allowed to be forgiven. So, every day I battled through and prayed for those who hurt me and by the end of it, I was in a much better place. I was no longer holding onto past hurts and infractions done to me and I was finally free of the pain and sting of unforgiveness. I could see how the unforgiveness I held onto affected my relationships because I held back based on the hurt places I had been in, but now I was free and did not have to change who I was because I was afraid of being hurt again. My walk through forgiveness had not only allowed me to forgive those who hurt me, but it allowed God to heal me completely so that I could be free to be me.
Today, I implore you that if you are reading this and know that you have some people you need to forgive, don’t wait. Get your freedom today and forgive them, your life will be so much better for it.
Love, Peace & Prayers for YOU!
“And you know shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” ~ John 8:32 NKJV
I am certain that my Great-Grandmother, Dorothy Trueblood, was not the first one to say “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all,” but she was the first person I recall saying it to me. I am not sure who came up with it initially or who said it first, but what I am sure of is that when I heard it the first time, I did not fully comprehend the meaning. As simple as the statement was/is, there is so much more to it. In order for you to completely understand how this statement came to be in my house, you have to know my Mom-Mom. She was a tough cookie and she never held anything back, but it was never her intention to hurt anyone with her words, so she taught us that if we did not have anything nice to say, we should stay quiet. Years later, I have to admit that there are times when this still applies in my life, but now more than ever I have decided to have the courage to speak the truth in love. For most of us, being honest is no big deal – we can be honest about what we like, what we don’t, and even to some degree who we like and who we don’t, but what happens when your truth threatens the very fabric of your life? What happens when speaking your truth means letting people know how they’ve hurt you? What happens when speaking your truth means no longer settling for the mundane things you’ve settled for in the past? It’s at these times where we need to have the courage to be honest and speak the truth in love.
The definition of courage is strength in the face of pain or grief, but it also the ability to do something that frightens you. Courage is something we have all needed in the past and it is something that we will need again at some point in our lives. Some people need courage just to get out of bed in the morning and face a new day. Some people need courage to move from one city to another. Some people need courage to say what they have longed to say for so long. No matter who we are, courage is something that we all need; courage is not based on race, creed, color, size, gender, or financial outlook – courage is something that anyone and everyone will need to utilize at multiple points in their lifetime. We will discuss some of these points in my blog over the next few weeks/months and it is my hope that as we learn together and grow together we will also gain courage together.
Today’s topic, the courage to be honest, came while I was driving home. I was thinking about a situation that I was facing. I need to tell a very good friend something and I did not want to do it, but I knew that if I did not tell her I would not be honest with her or with myself. Sometimes, it takes courage to be honest and tell the unadulterated truth, especially when that truth may hurt another. It’s not always easy to say what you need to say to someone, especially when you know that person may be offended or upset by what you are going to say but that is where courage comes in.
Over the years, I have tried to learn the art and practice of listening, but one of the things that sometimes comes with listening is giving advice. Now, when we’re talking fish vs. chicken or natural hair vs. relaxed, I can do that, but when the conversation turns to the hard stuff like when the person is in the wrong and they need loving correction, or when they have done something and I know I have to speak up or having to tell people what God has said, I have to admit those conversations get a little tougher. As much as I hate to admit it, I would really rather not have the hard conversations at all. I guess I am a softy, but what I find is that most people are like that. We’d much rather things be all good all the time, however, it simply cannot be that way because we don’t live in a fairy tale. Speaking the truth in love is essential and while difficult, we must learn to communicate even the hard things so that we and others can grow. Having tough conversations are never really easy but here are a few tips that may help:
1. Pray. Talking to God before you have the conversation will help you to speak the truth in love and it will invite God in to that conversation. Seek His counsel and wisdom about the matter before you dive right into a discussion. Praying is important because there may be times when God will instruct you not to have the conversation for one reason or another, be open to doing (or not doing) whatever He tells you. *Note: If God tells you to say something to someone, say it without delay or hesitation – just obey.
2. If you are angry, delay your conversation. Take a moment to center yourself in the Lord and when you are able to speak with peace, and then come back to the conversation. Speaking in anger will never correlate to speaking the truth in love – I don’t care who you are. You have to have a cool head and not an angry one.
3. If you have trouble remembering or feel like you may get flustered, write down the points you want to make. This will help you to stay on topic.
4. Listen. Be willing to listen to what the other person has to say. Listening is a critical skill and you must use it to effectively communicate. Listening effectively means not talking over someone or showboating the conversation; active, effective listening requires a closed mouth and open ears.
5. Be open. Sometimes the moment you begin having the tough talk you will find that the other person knows already and are willing to admit their mistake and apologize, so be open to that. Sometimes being open simply means providing the flexibility in the conversation to change direction, pause or stop all together.
Bonus: Keep your ears attuned to the voice of the Lord. He may give you wisdom, insight or instruction that could help your conversation.
The courage to be honest is not always an easy thing to have but I believe that we have to do a better job about speaking up when things bother us or get in our way.
I dislike going to the dentist; it is really not my favorite pastime and while I don’t dread going to the dentist, I can think of so many other wonderful places I would like to be like Virginia Beach, VA (see photo above) but as you and I know that if we want to keep a healthy mouth, we have to go and visit the dentist at least twice a year, right?
So why am I telling you this? Because it hit me that sometimes the very thing we need to do is the very thing we don’t want to do. Praying used to be that thing for me; I did not want to pray. I knew I needed to pray, but I didn’t really want to pray. I would do what I needed and say what I needed just to say that I prayed but there was no power in my prayers at all. It was not until I got serious about my relationship with God, did prayer become a more serious tool for me. The same is true for anything we do – from going to the dentist, to taking out the garbage, to reading the bible – if you don’t fully understand the WHY in why we are doing a thing we may do it the wrong attitude. But when we receive a revelation on the WHY, we should have more of an incentive to do it.
Let me give you an example, I used to dislike exercise but now I do it more frequently because I understand the WHY. The why in exercise for me is making sure that my 40 year-old body is healthier than my 20 year-old body was. And the more I do it, the better I feel which makes me want to do it more and more. The same is true for prayer, reading the Word, etc. When you are doing a task for the right reasons, I believe that there will come a point where it is no longer routine, but rather something you look forward to. The more we pray, worship and read God’s word, the more we connect with Him and the more we connect to Him (the source), the better we will feel even in the midst of the storms of life.
So, let me ask you my friend, what are you not doing because you don’t want to? Is it reading the Word? Is it praying for someone you love to do better? Is it calling the sick and afflicted to check in on them? Is it simply listening to God and obeying Him? Whatever it is – find they why and make an effort to do it. We all struggle with what we want to do vs. what we should do, but sometimes what we want to do is not always the most prudent path; sometimes we have to take the road less traveled and do the thing we need to do to get the results we need.
Peace & Blessings,
**Author’s Note: This is in no way a political post and it is not an endorsement (or non-endorsement) of any candidate presently running for President. **
A couple of weeks ago, Pastor Paula White came out and endorsed GOP candidate Donald Trump for President. As soon as the news broke, social media filled with outcries against Pastor White because of her endorsement of Donald Trump. Pastor White is the senior Pastor at New Destiny Christian Center near Orlando, Florida. She is also host of her own TV show entitled Paula. Pastor White was accused of bamboozling African-Americans because it was said that her ministry was built with black money and black influence. People complained because Trump had been accused of making racist comments, being indignant towards women, Mexicans, etc. and a few weeks before Pastor White gave her endorsement, former KKK member David Duke threw his support behind Trump creating a firestorm of controversy from both sides of the political aisle.
During this time, I purposely stayed silent on all fronts and not because I did not have an opinion, but simply because I have learned the hard way that sometimes you have to let it all play out so that the whole truth surfaces. A few days ago as I was preparing for bed, I received a revelation; I realized that this had nothing to do with Paula White (or Donald Trump for that matter). What I began to understand is that the controversy is a pawn in the enemy’s elaborate chess game. In fact, if you unfollowed Pastor White on social media, unsubscribed from her blog/website you, my friend, took the bait. Why? Because, as a brilliant man told me recently, “the enemy is trying to kill us” – the devil is trying to kill us (and not just you or me, but the body of Christ at large) and he has used situations like this one with Pastor Paula White to take our eyes off the principal thing – WE ARE AT WAR! We are on the battlefield fighting a real enemy, one who has sent spies to our camp to cause division and stir up unrest in the body and we have not only allowed it but we’ve also participated in it! We have taken the bait and instead of fighting the devil, we’ve been fighting and bickering amongst ourselves. And while we are fighting with one another the enemy is stealing our influence, setting up camp in our church services and causing division amongst the body. He has kept us distracted from the real fight against him. Now, instead of fighting the enemy we are battling each other like we are enemy combatants. What happened to being our brother’s keeper? What happened to having each other’s back?
One day while watching a military show called “The Unit,” I heard the phrase “I got your 6,” and I didn’t understand what that meant so I took the time to find out. The idea behind “I got your 6” is simple it literally means I have your back. On the Unit, the soldiers went through their issues on base, but out on the battlefield it was a very different story. No matter what happened off the battlefield, if they were in a fight on the battlefield, they protected one another. If you’d come across them in battle you would have never known that there was an issue back on their base. They covered one another and you never saw their bickering, strife, envy, or jealousy on the battlefield because it would have been a distraction that would have caused them to lose the fight.
Recently, I have been thinking about the term, “I got your 6” as it relates to the Kingdom of God, but even more specifically, the people of God. How well do we cover one another? How well do we cover our brothers and sisters or even our leaders? As in the case of Pastor Paula White, there have been other prominent Christian leaders who, for one reason or another, have garnered negative attention and one by one, believers posted and shared these negative stories on their Facebook and Twitter timelines. The Bible tells us in I Peter 4:8 that, “…love covers a multitude of sins.” Love covers but what does cover mean? Cover means to shield, to protect. As believers – men and women of the most high God – our job is not to discuss or gossip about the issue, but rather to pray (cover) to God about the situation. We may not like what the leader has done, but we have to do as the Bible admonishes us and that is to pray for one another as well as our leaders (scripture references: Job 42:10 & I Timothy 2:2-3) The word does not say talk about or gossip about - we are to pray. What we must remember is that we are in a war – that’s right, you heard me we are in a battle with an enemy who does not quit, does not give up and while we know he has already been defeated, he is still fighting and trying to get us to die on the battlefield – We can’t do that!
Do you remember what I said about the members of the Unit? No matter what happened at home, when they were on the battlefield they covered each other; they had each other’s backs, why? Because they needed to protect each other and they didn’t want their enemy to come up behind them and take them out; even if they had the biggest blow up on base, when they got on that field they were a team and they covered one another; they protected one another. As believers, we must cover and protect one another. That does not mean that we condone the behavior of our brothers and sisters, but it does mean that we don’t judge them, or gossip about it, but we take it to God in prayer. We cover them with love and prayer, simply. And when you pray, let the Holy Spirit pray through you by using your Heavenly language. Holy Spirit makes the best intercession because He already knows the beginning and the end so let Him make the petitions for you.
Whether you know it or not, the world is looking at us to see how we will respond and how we will act, but what image are we giving them? The world does not always judge Jesus through the Word of God, but rather through us – the body of Christ - but how does it look to the world when we spend more time gossiping about others in the body. Let me tell you, we are in a war – some days it does not feel like a war because the enemy isn't bringing the problems to our door or dropping the crazy everywhere we go at the moment, but we are at war. We need to recognize that our Kingdom response should not be to repost and share on Facebook and Twitter, but rather to go into our prayer closet and pray. Just like we have the choice to post or not, we also have the choice to cover.
In the case of Pastor Paula White, I will not say that her choice to support Donald Trump was right or wrong (and yes, I do have an opinion) but the issue is greater than that. Some of us have allowed her personal political preference to stop us from hearing what God has to say through her, and in doing so, you are missing out on the Word God has for you and that’s not cool! You may not agree with the political choice she has made, but do not tune her out because of it. God is still God and He will use whomever He will to get the Word to you, but don’t get so caught up in the messenger that you miss the message. Our job is not to judge her political affiliations, but rather to pray that she will align herself with Godly people. Our job is not to judge her political endorsements, but rather to pray that God’s choice will be the next President (not man’s). Beloveds, our job is simply to cover; there are so many more battles to be fought and won, but when we cover each other we are a whole lot stronger together than we are apart.
I Got Your 6!
Liela Marie Fuller
Author, Mother, Friend, Believer in Jesus...Really Just Me.
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