Tag Archives: Forgiveness

Know Him As Savior First

An excerpt out of Calling All Workers “The Harvest Is Ripe, the Worker Is You!” by Michelle E. Caswell
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The more you realize how much you have truly been forgiven for, the deeper you will be able to love. You are not any better than anyone else. We are all horrible sinners. The quicker you know that, the more deeply you can connect with the Lord and others. God knows how bad we are, how good we think we are, and He still chose us. God sees the end from the beginning. He saw all the sins you were going to commit, and He looked at you and said, “See that one? I’ll take her as my own.” Let that one sink in a minute.

God has so many names and titles, but you need to know Him as your Savior first, because the greatest commandment is love—and the key to experiencing that kind of love is realizing what you’ve been forgiven for.
Those who have been forgiven much, love much.
— Luke 7:47 (paraphrase of verse)

What have you been forgiven for? Reach into the depths of your painful past, and recount the things He has forgiven you for—in order for you to love better. This will also give you the joy of your salvation back! Keep in mind, it’s important to look at your sin without downplaying it by comparing it to someone else’s “worse” sin.

Real Life Example:
I had been in rehab for a few months at the time, and I remember holding onto the “fact” that I was a good person who happened to have a drug addiction. I mean, “Come on Lord…I would give my last cigarette, smoke my last bowl of marijuana with someone, make dinner for elderly neighbors, I was even nice when I turned a guy down who asked me to dance. I was a good person, and I still am.”

I was trying to make myself not feel so bad. In fact, I was justifying my behavior to the Lord, while trying to convince myself that my “good deeds” could cancel out my sin. I wanted to hold onto some shred of self-esteem. That’s when the Lord knocked me off my high horse and showed me my motives.

He said, “Look at the reasons that you chose to do those things for people…it was all about what they thought of you, not that you cared about them. You made dinner for those elderly women, because a guy was watching you—and you wanted him to think that you would be a good wife. Apart from me, you are nothing.”

I doubled over, holding my stomach and bawling. I realized that I had absolutely nothing to offer, and there was no good in me. That’s the day I really began to change. I was emptied of myself, and the Lord was able to start filling me back up with Him.

When you realize the sin in your own life—whether past or present—and recognize Jesus as your much-needed Savior, it will help you relate better to those the Lord calls you to work with, and will give you a deeper compassion for them. You don’t have to have a super crazy testimony to have a deep understanding and appreciation for God’s grace and how to love His people. You don’t need to experience the exact same trauma or sin in your past to be able to empathize with someone’s deep pain. However, when truly recognizing your own deep pains and horrible sin choices, you will be more equipped with compassion than if you don’t allow yourself to go there. So GO THERE. Take some time with the Lord, and ask Him to remind you of all the things He’s forgiven you for—and then begin to thank Him.

Too many times, we want to compare our sins to another, and decide for ourselves that their sin is worse than ours. That is not how the Lord weighs sin. You have been forgiven of so much, so take the time to recognize it, and watch the joy of your salvation return!

“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown.
But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
— Luke 7:47

Pregnant Again?? Part 3

A few years ago, I was listening to a Bible teaching out of Genesis about Jacob and his wife Rebekah (who was barren at the time), she said to her husband “Give me children lest I die.” I looked across the room to see my friend abruptly stand up, grab her stuff and storm out of the room. A few minutes later she briskly made a Bee Line for me, leaned over and whispered loudly in my ear, “Every kid I ever had, I killed. Rebekah wanted children so badly and couldn’t. What kind of person does that make me?” She burst into angry tears and then stormed out of the room again.

God used that study to bust open a wound that still needed to be healed in her and apparently wanted to use it to open one in me too. She had three abortions that she hadn’t allowed herself to heal from or even feel the emotions of the loss, which is very common. Her confession got me to think about my own experience and what I hadn’t yet dealt with. I had already forgiven myself at that time, but I hadn’t processed the emotions, except for the shame. I could feel my eyes start to well up, so I found a quiet place alone. You see, in order to survive emotionally through having the abortions, I turned off all of my emotions the best I could and tried to just think of it as a medical procedure. Once the “procedure” was over I chose to never think about it again. If something happened that reminded me then I would quickly dismiss the thought and move onto something else to distract me, but I couldn’t do it this time.

“Lord please tell my kids that I love them both and that I am SO sorry for what I did. I look forward to finally meeting them someday. Please ask them to forgive me?” My head was bowed when He showed me that classic picture of Jesus with all the little kids around Him, it usually has the scripture “Do not keep the little children from coming to me.” Using that mental image the Lord revealed to me that He has had my babies with Him in Heaven since the moment of their death here on Earth. He had been raising them both along with my friend’s three children and every other aborted baby. He has been raising all of those kids in Heaven safely and perfectly, “Training them up in the way they should go, so that when they are old they will never depart.” He has been holding them and adoring them this whole time.

Tears streaming down my face as I pictured their little faces and I said it again, as if He didn’t hear me the first time. “Lord, please tell them that I am so sorry. Please ask them to forgive me. And tell them that I can’t wait to see them someday.” The Lord responded in such a gentle, but profound way, “They have already forgiven you. I have raised them in forgiveness.” I needed to hear those precious words from Him. God’s grace never ceases to absolutely BLOW ME AWAY.

I had known that the souls of my kids were in Heaven, but I had never pictured them living and growing up there. That image was so enlightening to me. After the Lord showed me that vision I really wanted to find that picture to remind me of what He shared with me. The following day I went to a garage sale and wouldn’t you know it…I found that picture of Jesus and the children for $2.00. It now hangs in my home as a reminder of God’s grace and goodness.

Side note…Notice that the picture has two girls and two boys. I believe it represents the four kids I would have had. Fast forward…I now have two biological boys and two stepdaughters. God has been returning all that Satan has stolen from me, I will receive some of it here on Earth and the rest I will receive in Heaven.

I do not share this part of my story to encourage anyone to have an abortion, rather to encourage you not to, because I and most women I talk to wish we could take it back and have those children with us today, but we don’t. You do not need to make the same mistake we did. When you allow, truly allow, a story like this to penetrate your heart, why would you or any of us choose to sin against a God who loves sinners like this? It is His goodness and grace that has led me to repentance again and again.

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Romans 6:1-2

Jesus & Children

Pregnant Again?? Part 2

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My husband and I sat in the stands and watched another one of Jordan’s baseball games this summer. He looked so cool out there on the pitcher’s mound standing high above the rest. We felt so darn proud of him, mostly because he was playing his heart out, but I had other reasons too. Every time he caught a ball, threw a nice pitch or stole a base he would turn and make sure we saw him. We responded by clapping, giving him thumbs up and calling out his name. It was a beautiful day, nice and warm and the trees had just started turning shades of red, orange and yellow. It was such a great feeling to be in my right mind, paying attention to the game and truly being there for my son. I began thinking back to 7 years previous when I had attended another one of his baseball games where I had just come from the clinic after having my second abortion. I sat in the car smoking a cigarette, my stomach was cramping from the procedure, but I was there, physically at least. There was no way my fake smile was fooling anybody, but they had no idea what was really going on inside my heart. I must have just looked like a disinterested mom.

Just days before, I was pregnant…weighing my options and trying to decide what to do. I was so close to telling everyone that I was going to have another child, that I had made a mistake, but I was going to do the right thing and raise that little one. I remember trying to picture everyone’s disappointed response and counter it with my son’s possible excitement. However, after talking to my so called “friend” who may have been the father, it became clear that he wanted me to abort and definitely wouldn’t be in the picture if I decided to keep it. And the other possible father was a drug dealer that hung out in strip clubs every day, so I wasn’t going to even tell him I was pregnant. I had raised two boys alone. I could raise another kid too, but that’s not the choice I ended up making.

Sitting in the waiting room…they called my name. I took a deep breath as they led me down a long hallway to a private room. I began shutting off every emotion I had. Click, click, click. One nurse was setting up the table while the other handed me a Dixie cup and said “Here’s your pain pills.” I refused. She went on to explain “Ma’am, there is going to be a significant amount of discomfort if you don’t take these.” I was well aware.

The doctor entered the room and continued to persistently encourage me to take the narcotics to ease the pain. I declined again. When asked why, I replied “After I’m done with this, I have to rush out to my youngest son’s baseball game, so I can’t be all loopy.” That was only part of the reason I refused, the other was that I wanted to feel the pain that I felt I deserved. He looked at me, then back at his nurses, smiled big and proudly said “You see…it is mothers like you that I call Super Moms. You truly amaze me.” And then he performed the abortion.

Are you freaking kidding me? I’m a “Super Mom” who is allowing you to kill my child right now? That comment really messed me up…it made me glad that I refused the narcotic. I could not believe I was doing it AGAIN. I was 30 years old, not 19 like I was before. I wanted to get off that table so bad and raise that child. I did not want to go through with it, but I did.

That day was absolutely horrible, it makes my stomach hurt to write about it in such detail, but I chose to write it for you. I want those of you who have made the same choice to know that God is good and He loves you so much, no matter what wrong choices you have made. Having an abortion is wrong, I think we all know that, but it is NOT unforgivable. For those of you who are considering abortion right now, please don’t do it. You will have such deep regrets. There are so many ministries and people that can help you, if you make a different choice and then you won’t have to go through the grueling healing process that the rest of us have to face.

Lord, I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have been so good to me. You have chosen to love me even though you knew all that I had done. I couldn’t have done any of this without your forgiveness and ability to set me free from the shame and guilt. Thank you for the blessing of watching Jordan’s game years later and remembering how far you have brought me. You have given me another shot at being a true “Super Mom” because of what you have done in and through me.

Impossible

If you have never been forgiven by God then don’t even try forgiving others, it won’t work. You would be kidding yourself to think that you can forgive someone when you yourself have not been forgiven. Being forgiven by a person is NOT the same as being forgiven by God. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

You can’t give what you don’t have. It’s impossible! Jesus did His part by dying to pay for your sins to be forgiven-your part is receiving that forgiveness and then give it away. “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13

Forgiving God

I’ve met a few self-proclaimed atheists who said they believed that God didn’t exist, however after having an in-depth conversation, it was clear that they were mad at Him and didn’t WANT to believe He existed. In fact, I frequently meet Girls who are ticked off at God. Welcome to “The Club,” I think most of us have been mad at Him at one time or another. It’s what we choose to do with that anger that makes all the difference.

Some say it’s sacrilegious to forgive God and maybe that’s true, but God knows my heart when I say this: if you have something against Him-forgive Him. The Lord wants a personal relationship with you, not a religious one. Besides, He already knows you’re upset with Him, so whatever it is, get it out of the way, so you can be close to Him. We were designed for relationship with our Creator, He made us that way. There will ALWAYS be a hole in your heart, until the Lord fills it, but when you’re mad at Him, you won’t LET Him fill it. Relationships are built on trust, but where there’s a foundation of bitterness resulting from un-forgiveness, it’s really hard to trust and move forward with that relationship.

If you have something against God, do yourself a favor and forgive Him, so you can move forward with your relationship and start living out the plan He has for you. Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Isaiah 1:18

Forgiving a Rapist

I can still smell the Obsession cologne he wore when he held me down and wouldn’t stop. I had no idea THAT was going to happen. I had liked him for some time and relentlessly flirted with him, especially once he started to notice me. I skipped school to hang out with him that day, because I didn’t want to lose my chance with him. I was fourteen and still a virgin until that moment.

He said he was tired and wanted to take a nap, so we went into my mom’s room and laid down. I chose her room, because my room still looked like a little girl slept in there and I wanted him to think I was cool. “Please kiss me” I thought, as I gave him the “kiss me eyes.” Making out was fun and I wanted to keep doing it, but then he started to unbutton my pants and I got scared. I politely said “come on, I don’t want to do that.” I was so afraid that he wouldn’t like me anymore, so I didn’t scream. I didn’t know what to do. I just kept trying to pull my pants back up, but he was much stronger than me. I quickly realized that it was going to happen whether I liked it or not. On the outside I played it cool, but on the inside I screamed “STOP…GET OFF ME…I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS.”

Fast forward: I’m thirty-one and it’s time to forgive him and the other two guys that raped me. “Lord, as I remember the details of what happened and all that I lost, because of what they stole from me. I am sick to my stomach. For seventeen years I have been dragging them around with me and allowing them to still hurt me. When I think of all that you have forgiven me for and compare that list to the few things I need to forgive them for, it really puts things into perspective. Thank you Lord for forgiving me for all the horrible choices I made and for all the people that were affected, because of it. I am no better than these guys. Their sin is no worse in your eyes than my sin is. Lord, I choose to unhook them from me and hook them to you. They no longer owe me this debt-they owe you now. God I don’t know where they are or what they’re doing these days, but I pray that you will have mercy on their soul and that they will come to know you, as I know you.”

As my head was still bowed I had a vision of three large black masses resembling the men, standing off to my left. They were bigger than me and I asked the Lord, “How did I fit them in my body and carry them around with me all these years?” Upon standing to my feet, my knees were weak. I walked away and felt like I was floating, as if the three men that I carried all those years were gone. Thank you Lord for the power of forgiveness.

Forgiven Much

How do you have such a deep relationship with Jesus when you didn’t grow up in the church like I did? What makes you different?” My honest answer, “You probably take your salvation for granted. Maybe you think you’re a good person. It’s not like you were a murderer or something horrible like that, right? I think the difference between you and I is that I know I’m not a  good person . I know my sins were horrific and I deserved to live in Hell for all of Eternity. Do you?”

So maybe you didn’t get into drugs, get divorced or murder anyone. But the truth is-you have been forgiven of WAY more than you give God credit for. Oh sure, maybe you weren’t “as bad as me,” but you were bad. Go back to the day you said “yes” to Jesus. Why did you decide that would be the day? What did you need to be forgiven for? What did you need to be saved from?

Take some time today and thank the Lord for ALL that you’ve been forgiven for. Stop comparing yourself to others. Your list is long and it continues to grow, so keep it real. What should crush your heart in a good way, is that He knew the list and He still chose to die for you and pay the price. When you truly realize and accept that Jesus died for your horrific sin, you will begin to love Him and others in a way that will blow your mind. We have all been forgiven of SO MUCH, but only few really grasp it, because the others are too busy comparing their sin to someone else, but that’s not how God weighs things.

 Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.” Luke 7:47   

Punishing Myself

I remember stomping my foot on the ground trying to get the words to come out of my mouth. “Grr” as I wept bitterly, “How do I forgive myself for neglecting my sons? How do I forgive myself for aborting two of my children? How do I forgive myself for all the men I had sex with?? Lord, I am having such a hard time getting these words out of my mouth. I know that you have already forgiven me for everything I’m about to forgive myself for, so who am I to still hold these things against myself, when you aren’t? Lord, I remember the time that I woke up after three days of no sleep back when I was tweaking out on Meth and there on the refrigerator was a sticky note written in my own handwriting ‘STOP PUNISHING YOURSELF.’ I think that’s what I’m still doing; punishing myself. I seriously HATE the things I’ve done and the things that happened to my boys, because of my STUPID choices. Lord Jesus, you were punished for these same sins that I’m punishing myself for, as if to say, that what you did for me was not enough. But I know better. I know that when you died for me, you said ‘It is Finished.’ Please Lord, give me the courage right now to do this. It’s time.”

I inhaled a deep breath along with the courage He just gave me and I received the gift of forgiveness and gave it to myself. Angry frustrated tears poured from my eyes as I said out-loud “Lord Jesus, I choose to forgive myself right now. I forgive myself for neglecting my sons. I forgive myself for doing drugs all those years. I forgive myself for being promiscuous. I forgive myself for killing my two children. I forgive myself for taking this long to surrender my life to you. I’m making a choice right now with my own free-will to never hold these things against myself again. I am unhooking all of these sins and things I’m ashamed of and I am hooking them to you. I no longer owe myself a debt. It is finished and I am free. Amen.”  

Forgiving myself was the hardest. The lie I believed that kept me from doing it sooner was “I knew better,” so therefore I didn’t deserve forgiveness. But the reality is, no one DESERVES forgiveness. It’s a gift that is offered to all, but only some choose to receive it and it doesn’t work unless you do. Just knowing the facts about forgiveness, doesn’t set you free, it’s in the receiving and accepting the truth that sets us free.

What helped me to get to the place where I could get those words out of my mouth was dwelling on God’s sovereignty. He is above all and knows all, including all the sins I committed and He still chose me-He chose to die for me and pay for my sins, so I didn’t have to. If He says I’m worthy of forgiveness than who am I to say I’m not? It showed me that I had a lot of prideful arrogance deciding for myself, whether I deserved forgiveness or not. Grace and forgiveness are a gift from God-no one deserves it-no one earns it and no one pays it back-it’s a totally free gift. Our job is to receive it and then give it away.

Forgiveness is such a HUGE key to getting free in Christ, but it’s not easy and sometimes you will feel pretty weird afterwards. There are times that I will feel very light and even joyful, other times I just need a nap because the emotional drain, but this time I got a migraine that lasted two days. God didn’t make our bodies to carry the weight of bitterness that comes from not forgiving those that wronged you, including yourself.