Little Foxes

Big: large, as in size; of major concern; important… Little: small in size; tiny; not big; not large… (dictionary.com)

Recently, I shared that I had been struggling with my emotions for a few days. I found myself being impatient, unkind, sad and angry. While there was a situation I was grieving over, I also knew that there was much more to it than that. I knew it was bad when I exploded in anger over something a person connected to our neighborhood had done. Thankfully, I didn’t explode at the person involved. Unfortunately, my husband had to hear me rant and yell about something this person had done that actually was the last straw after months of little issues with them.

A friend once shared that patience and kindness are the gauges that let you know how you are doing in your ‘love walk’. Love is patient and kind. I’ve studied God’s love for years. I taught classes on love for years. How did I get here?

God reminded me of a scripture.

…Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. [So I went with him, and when we were climbing the rocky steps up the hillside, my beloved shepherd said to me] O my dove, [while you are here] in the seclusion of the clefts in the solid rock, in the sheltered and secret place of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. [My heart was touched and I fervently sang to him my desire] Take for us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards [of our love], for our vineyards are in blossom. (Song of Solomon 2:13-15, Amp)

God reminded me of the part that speaks of the little foxes that spoil the vineyards of our love. I once heard someone share that because foxes burrow underground, they can do much damage to a crop without any evidence that it is happening. It goes unseen and unnoticed until the plant starts dying above ground due to the damage caused below ground to the roots.

Little foxes. Not big foxes. Little foxes.

God spoke to my heart and told me that I am someone that is very quick to forgive when someone has wronged me. If someone does something obviously wrong to me, the first moment I feel hurt and possibly angry, in the very next moment I choose to forgive them. Lately though, while I was still quick to forgive the ‘big’ things, I hadn’t realized that daily people were doing ‘little’ things that I didn’t even realize bothered me. But they did bother me and I didn’t even think to forgive them over something so small. Little foxes were starting to burrow.

This person I was angry with had done one unkind and ungracious thing after another. Little things. I noticed. I let them bother me yet I didn’t think to forgive. The foxes were slowly, silently spoiling the vineyards of our love.

I repented. I forgave this person. I started forgiving every person I could think of for every little thing they had done. I forgave politicians I don’t even personally know.

During a marriage class on forgiveness, the instructor shared that it’s not only important to forgive your spouse for the things they had done, but to also forgive them for the times they disappointed you. Forgive the big things. Forgive the little things.

As soon as I ‘slipped away’ for some time with God, He started exposing and taking away those little foxes. In the safety of His Presence I let it all go and forgave all men their sins against me. My emotions calmed down. The peace came. I’ve been much more patient and kind again. I’m once again enjoying the vineyards of our love with my God.

1 Corinthians 13 ~ Love is patient and kind… Love takes no account of the evil done to it… It pays no attention to a suffered wrong… Love is ever ready to believe the best of every person… And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 John 4:19 ~ We love because he first loved us.

Slip away with Him. Let Him tell you of His love. You won’t be able to help yourself, because of His love, you will love too.

I Have Wronged No Man

Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains. (Acts 9:1-2, NLT)

They rushed at …[Stephen] and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they stoned him… (Acts 7:57-59, NLT)

Saul persecuted, arrested and was responsible for the deaths of Christians. Yet later (as Paul) he says, “Please open your hearts to us. We have not done wrong to anyone…” How can someone with his history say that?

Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities… (Psalms 103:2-3, NKJV)

Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin. (Romans 4:8, NLT)

As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12, NKJV)

Today, I too can say, I have wronged no man. Not because I have always treated others as I should, but because of the blood of Jesus that brought me forgiveness of all of my sins. Today, I can also say that no man has wronged me. How can I say that? Have I always been treated right by all men? No, but the blood of Jesus was shed for them too.

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32, NKJV)

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. (Colossians 3:12-14;MSG)

I choose to forgive as freely and completely as He chose to forgive me. Selah.

I Forgive You

I guess I’m blogging again sooner than I expected. I was just overwhelmed by an experience in prayer. As I was scrolling through the status updates, photos and such on Facebook, I came across something that upset me. It was a photo of the US Ambassador to Libya, Ambassador Christopher Stevens, being dragged through the streets of Libya as he was being killed. I have seen the photos. I have heard the reports. Up until now, I looked away, but today I was overwhelmed with sadness for this man. So I decided to talk to God about it.

I wept before the Lord as I shared what was on my heart with Him. Praying that His Presence and mercy were there as this man lost his life. I focused on Ambassador Stevens face as I prayed. Not daring to look at the others in the photo. The ones that were murdering him. Suddenly I found myself weeping for the others in the photo. Men so completely lost that they brutally murdered another human being. I began to pray for them. I chose to forgive them. Yes, I want to see them come to justice, but more than that I want to see them come to God.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son… (John 3:16, NKJV)

[God]… who desires all men to be saved… (1 Timothy 2:4, NKJV)

…”Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34, NKJV)

This last statement being the words that Jesus prayed for those who were nailing Him to the cross. He prayed for those who crucified Him.

I am reminded of the words of Stephen as he was being stoned.

And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:59-60, NKJV)

As I prayed I found myself forgiving the men who committed this atrocious act. As I prayed I found myself forgiving the politicians who allowed it to happen. It doesn’t mean that I will vote for them. But it does mean that I will not carry unforgiveness or hatred towards any man in my heart.

As I prayed I saw the faces of people who have wronged me. I forgave them.

The words that were pouring from my heart over and over again were, “I forgive you.”

The next face I saw was my own. I forgave myself for my own mistakes. But the words kept coming. “I forgive you.”

It  was as though I was no longer saying it, but I heard the words coming from the heart of Jesus towards all these people, including me. I sensed a longing in His heart for all men to know that He forgives them.

…”Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29, NKJV)

…the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all… (1 Timothy 2:5,6; NKJV)

Oh, Father that they may know Your love and Your forgiveness. Forgives us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us.

Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more? …”I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” …”You have rightly judged.” (Luke 7:42, 43; NKJV)

At Home In His Love

John 15:9-10 (Message) ~ … “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love…”

As I sit here this morning I sense love, joy and peace all around me. There is a sense of contentment in my heart. There is a smile on my face. Driving down the road the other day I sensed the very same things. My car was full of a peaceful and love-filled atmosphere. As I looked over into the next car I saw a woman yelling and obviously very upset. Separated by just a few feet at the stop light, in the same place, yet separated by two panes of glass, there was a dramatic change in the atmosphere.

While the atmosphere in my car was so peaceful and full of joy, her car seemed filled with hate, fear, and chaos. It struck me just how close we were in proximity. In the same city, on the same street, at the same street light, and yet the place held two very different things for us. It wasn’t about our physical location. But it was very much about our spiritual location.

I was in that secret place of the Most High (Psalm 91:1) and the secret place of the Most High was in my car. He’s in my car, in my home, in my church, in the grocery store. He’s wherever I am, because wherever I am, I am in Him, at home in His love.

The woman was yelling and her face was full of rage. She had probably been very wronged and very hurt to react in this way. I too had been wronged. I too had been hurt. Yet I found myself surrounded by love, joy, and peace. How? By being at home in His love. His commands to me, to love God and to love others, as I do them, keep me in that place of peace; keep me in that secret place; keep me at home in His love. And I am able to love Him and love others, because of His unending love for me.

So how did I stay in that place when I had been wronged? I forgave. That’s what love would do. That’s what Love did for me. He forgave me of all my sins. So I forgive at all times and I find myself at peace at all times. I carry it with me, because my home is not a physical location, my home is in my heart where I stay close to Him, where I stay close to Love Himself, by loving Him and loving others. My home is in that secret place of the Most High. My home is in His love and I never leave home without it.

Keeping It Real

Keeping it real today. Mainly that I live in a real world and that bad things sometimes happen in the real world. Today my blog post was inspired by one of those bad things.

For my birthday this year, my husband bought me a brand new car. Today I took it in to get the windows tinted and found that during it’s time at the shop, somebody dinged my car door. Not a little ding either. Quite noticeable.

So what did I do after the initial disappointment and the wee bit of anger, I forgave. I yielded to love and forgave the person responsible and the people at the shop.

The shop said they would pay for repairs and to repaint the whole door. And I get a free loaner.

Sounds like everything they should do, right? Sounds like what I should expect. So what difference does it make whether I forgave or not?

First, the most obvious reason. I was created by Love Himself and my body, my soul, my mind were never created to carry around unforgiveness. Almost every day I minister to people who are sick in their bodies as a result of unforgiveness. (For more on this try reading Dr. Don Colbert’s book, Deadly Emotions).

I like what one minister said about unforgiveness. He said, “Unforgiveness is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die”. That’s real! Real serious!

Second, faith works by love. Unforgiveness is not love. I don’t need unforgiveness neutralizing my faith. (Galatians 5:6, Mark 11:22-25)

The third reason, God spoke into my heart just a few moments ago. It brought a smile to my face.

Have you ever had anyone ask you to pray prior to their surgery, that God would guide the hands of the doctors? The Lord spoke to my heart, “When you yield to love and forgive, you make way for Me to get involved in your situation.”

I suddenly saw it. God is going to guide the hands and the work that is done on my car, because I made a way for Him to get involved in this situation.

I was a little concerned my car wouldn’t be the same or as good as new after the repairs, but now I fully expect it to look even better than before, because my Heavenly Father is working on my behalf!

Where do we see this in the scriptures? The entire life of Joseph. Sold by his brothers. Falsely accused. Imprisoned. Then second in command of the entire nation of Egypt.

When he meets his brothers again, you see Joseph’s heart… a heart free of unforgiveness. And it says of this man throughout his story, “But the Lord was with Joseph…”

Through all the hardships, through all the bad stuff, the Lord was with Him. Joseph’s faith (trust) in God and his heart turned toward God (in this case in forgiveness towards all who wronged him), made a way for God to continually work on his behalf.

As I write this, I think it is interesting that one of the greatest examples of forgiveness we see in the Bible is Jesus as He hung on the cross. As He hung there dying, He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” He was in a bad situation that was about to get worse. He was headed for hell. He believed God would raise Him up. But before He left this earth, He forgave. Selah.

A Heart of Compassion

I’ve spent much of the day thinking about and praying for an elderly gentleman I don’t even know. Who is he? Why am I praying for him?

He is a man I saw for the first time last night and have never personally met. As I stood outside a restaurant after dinner with friends, I watched as the elderly man had trouble figuring out how to turn the lights off on his car. My heart was overwhelmed with compassion for him. I wish now that I had allowed that compassion to move me to speak to him. But I didn’t. I said a little prayer as he walked away into another restaurant.

My friends and I continued to visit with one another on the sidewalk. We noticed one of the valets from yet another restaurant run over to the car as the back lights still appeared to be on.

As he passed us we explained that the gentleman had trouble with his lights and we told him which restaurant he had gone into. He said he was very familiar with this man. He had been banned from the restaurant the valet works at because the man would drink too much and get drunk. And he also brought prostitutes to the restaurant with him. My heart was overwhelmed with compassion for this man. Even more so than before.

I don’t recall what I said, but I expressed my feelings about this man. The valet basically said that I shouldn’t feel sorry for the guy because he is doing it to himself.

Today as I pray for this man I’ve never met, this man whose name I don’t know, some scriptures about our Savior Jesus are filling my heart.

And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Mark 2:15-17, KJV)

And behold, a woman of the town who was an especially wicked sinner, when she learned that He was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment (perfume). And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears,and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. (Luke 7:37-39, KJV)

Jesus goes on to forgive this woman of all her sins and speaks of her great love. He who is forgiven much, loves much. She was forgiven much.

I think too of the words He spoke to the woman caught in adultery.

He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:10-11, NKJV)

I wish I had shared John 3:16-17 with this man. But I didn’t and for that I repent. But today I pray that someone, even if it’s me Lord, will cross his path and tell him the Truth that will set him free.

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him. (John 3:16-17, Amplified)

PS… As I typed this, I almost didn’t use the word gentleman at the beginning. I also thought about typing the words, the Truth that could set him free. I chose to call this man a gentleman and to say these words will set him free because just like God I call those things that be not as though they were. Agree with me for this man’s salvation and restoration.

The Love Zone

It’s late on a Friday night. I just got home. It’s dark outside and there is no one home. Suddenly I’m reminded of Rod Serling and I hear his voice as he welcomes viewers to the Twilight Zone.

No, it wasn’t because of anything creepy. It was simply because of a sign I posted on my door leading from the garage into the house. The sign says, “You are now entering the Love Zone.” Just below this sign is a second sign with 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 printed on it.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails… (NIV)

These signs are on both sides of the door, leading out of the house and leading into the house. A reminder to all who live here, that when you go out, you are to walk in love with others and when you come in you are to walk in love with others.

I got the idea from our church that has a sign posted just as you are leaving the church property. The sign says, “You are now entering the mission field.” Well the same is true of love. Going out from your home or coming into your home, you are entering the Love Zone.

I was thinking about this just now. I thought of it a little differently today. Not only am entering a “zone” where I need to demonstrate His love, I am a carrier of that love. I am a love zone.

I come in contact with a lot of hurting people and one thing I endeavor to do more than anything else, is to demonstrate to them His mercy, His love and His grace. I try to be a “safe zone” for them… a “love zone”. A place where they are safe. A place where there is healing. A place of unconditional love.

One of my favorite scriptures comes to mind.

…You have loved back my life from the pit of corruption and nothingness, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back. (Isaiah 38:17, Amplified)

He is a safe place. He is a healing place. He is a place of unconditional love. He loved back our lives. And He has loved us into wholeness. We are here as His ambassadors. Ambassadors of Love. We are here as His hands and His feet. We are the carriers of that love.

The world is a crazy place these days. We can be the place where people find answers. Where people find true unconditional love. Where people find peace. We can lead others into the arms of Love Himself, by being His place of love on this earth.