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Song & Verse: Piece by Piece

by Kelly Clarkson

I first heard the last couple of bars of this song on an overhead speaker in a gym earlier this week. The emotion was so palpable, I had to find it and listen to it fully. The song pretty much says it all; nothing to add from me.

Piece by Piece
by Kelly Clarkson

And all I remember is your back
Walking towards the airport leaving us all in your past
I traveled 1500 miles to see you
Begged you to want me
But you didn’t want to

But piece by piece you collected me
Up off the ground but you abandoned things
And piece by piece you filled the holes that you burned in me
At six years old and no
He never walks away
He never asks for money
He takes care of me
He loves me
Piece by piece
He restored my faith
That a man can be kind
And a father could stay

And all of your words fall flat
I made something of myself and now you wanna come back
But your love isn’t free
It has to be earned
Back then I didn’t have anything you needed
So I was worthless

But piece by piece you collected me
Up off the ground but you abandoned things
And piece by piece you filled the holes that you burned in me
At six years old and no
He never walks away
He never asks for money
He takes care of me
He loves me
Piece by piece
He restored my faith
That a man can be kind
And a father could stay

Piece by piece…

Piece by piece I fell far from the tree
I would never leave her like you left me
She will never have to wonder her worth
Because unlike you I’m gonna put her first
He’ll never walk away
He’ll never break her heart
He’ll take care of things
He’ll love her
Piece by piece
He restored my faith
That a man can be kind
And a father should be great

Piece by piece…

℗ 2015 19 Recordings Limited under exclusive license to RCA Records

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ACAD – Nations: Genesis 10

Nations Grow and Spread

This is the family history of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah. After the flood these three men had sons.

Japheth’s Sons

The sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras.

The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah.

The sons of Javan were Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim,[a] and Rodanim. Those who lived in the lands around the Mediterranean Sea came from these sons of Japheth. All the families grew and became different nations, each nation with its own land and its own language.

Ham’s Sons

The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim,[b] Put, and Canaan.

The sons of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca.

The sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan.

Cush also had a descendant named Nimrod, who became a very powerful man on earth. He was a great hunter before the Lord, which is why people say someone is “like Nimrod, a great hunter before the Lord.” At first Nimrod’s kingdom covered Babylon, Erech, Akkad, and Calneh in the land of Babylonia. From there he went to Assyria, where he built the cities of Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, and Calah. 12 He also built Resen, the great city between Nineveh and Calah.

Mizraim was the father of the Ludites, Anamites, Lehabites, Naphtuhites, Pathrusites, Casluhites, and the people of Crete. (The Philistines came from the Casluhites.)

Canaan was the father of Sidon, his first son, and of Heth. He was also the father of the Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, Arvadites, Zemarites, and Hamathites. The families of the Canaanites scattered. Their land reached from Sidon to Gerar as far as Gaza, and then to Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha.

All these people were the sons of Ham, and all these families had their own languages, their own lands, and their own nations.

Shem’s Sons

Shem, Japheth’s older brother, also had sons. One of his descendants was the father of all the sons of Eber.

The sons of Shem were Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram.

The sons of Aram were Uz, Hul, Gether, and Meshech.

Arphaxad was the father of Shelah, who was the father of Eber. 25 Eber was the father of two sons—one named Peleg,[c] because the earth was divided during his life, and the other was named Joktan.

Joktan was the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. All these people were the sons of Joktan. They lived in the area between Mesha and Sephar in the hill country in the East.

These are the people from the family of Shem, arranged by families, languages, countries, and nations.

This is the list of the families from the sons of Noah, arranged according to their nations. From these families came all the nations who spread across the earth after the flood.


  1. 10:4 Kittim His descendants were the people of Cyprus.
  2. 10:6 Mizraim This is another name for Egypt.
  3. 10:25 Peleg This name sounds like the Hebrew word for “divided.”

New Century Version (NCV)

The Holy Bible, New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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A Chapter a Day: Nehemiah 4

Opposition to the Work

[a] Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews. And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of Samaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves?[b] Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?” Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Yes, what they are building — if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!”  Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders.

So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

[c] But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.

In Judah it was said,[d] “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.” And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.”  At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, “You must return to us.”[e] So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

The Work Resumes

When our enemies heard that it was known to us and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work. From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”

So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out. I also said to the people at that time, “Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.” So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon at his right hand.[f]


  1. Nehemiah 4:1 Ch 3:33 in Hebrew
  2. Nehemiah 4:2 Or Will they commit themselves to God?
  3. Nehemiah 4:7 Ch 4:1 in Hebrew
  4. Nehemiah 4:10 Hebrew Judah said
  5. Nehemiah 4:12 The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain
  6. Nehemiah 4:23 Probable reading; Hebrew each his weapon the water

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
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A Chapter a Day: Nehemiah 3

Rebuilding the Wall

Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brothers the priests, and they built the Sheep Gate. They consecrated it and set its doors. They consecrated it as far as the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Tower of Hananel. And next to him the men of Jericho built. And next to them[a] Zaccur the son of Imri built.

Photo: bloorlansdownechristianfellowship-files-wordpress-com
Photo: bloorlansdownechristianfellowship-files-wordpress-com

The sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate. They laid its beams and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. And next to them Meremoth the son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz repaired. And next to them Meshullam the son of Berechiah, son of Meshezabel repaired. And next to them Zadok the son of Baana repaired. And next to them the Tekoites repaired, but their nobles would not stoop to serve their Lord.[b]

Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Gate of Yeshanah.[c] They laid its beams and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. And next to them repaired Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, the seat ofthe governor of the province Beyond the River. Next to them Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, goldsmiths, repaired. Next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, repaired, and they restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. Next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, ruler of half the district of[d] Jerusalem, repaired. Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph repaired opposite his house. And next to him Hattush the son of Hashabneiah repaired. Malchijah the son of Harim and Hasshub the son of Pahath-moab repaired another section and the Tower of the Ovens. Next to him Shallum the son of Hallohesh, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired, he and his daughters.

Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They rebuilt it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars, and repaired a thousand cubits[e] of the wall, as far as the Dung Gate.

Malchijah the son of Rechab, ruler of the district of Beth-haccherem, repaired the Dung Gate. He rebuilt it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars.

And Shallum the son of Col-hozeh, ruler of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate. He rebuilt it and covered it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. And he built the wall of the Pool of Shelah of the king’s garden, as far as the stairs that go down from the city of David. After him Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, ruler of half the district of Beth-zur, repaired to a point opposite the tombs of David, as far as the artificial pool, and as far as the house of the mighty men. After him the Levites repaired: Rehum the son of Bani. Next to him Hashabiah, ruler of half the district of Keilah, repaired for his district. After him their brothers repaired: Bavvai the son of Henadad, ruler of half the district of Keilah. Next to him Ezer the son of Jeshua, ruler of Mizpah, repaired another section opposite the ascent to the armory at the buttress.[f] After him Baruch the son of Zabbai repaired another section from the buttress to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest. After him Meremoth the son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz repaired another section from the door of the house of Eliashib to the end of the house of Eliashib. After him the priests, the men of the surrounding area, repaired. After them Benjamin and Hasshub repaired opposite their house. After them Azariah the son of Maaseiah, son of Ananiah repaired beside his own house. After him Binnui the son of Henadad repaired another section, from the house of Azariah to the buttress and to the corner. Palal the son of Uzai repaired opposite the buttress and the tower projecting from the upper house of the king at the court of the guard. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh and the temple servants living on Ophel repaired to a point opposite the Water Gate on the east and the projecting tower. After him the Tekoites repaired another section opposite the great projecting tower as far as the wall of Ophel.

Above the Horse Gate the priests repaired, each one opposite his own house.After them Zadok the son of Immer repaired opposite his own house. After him Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, repaired. After him Hananiah the son of Shelemiah and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph repaired another section. After him Meshullam the son of Berechiah repaired opposite his chamber. After him Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired as far as the house of the temple servants and of the merchants, opposite the Muster Gate,[g]and to the upper chamber of the corner. And between the upper chamber of the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and the merchants repaired.


  1. Nehemiah 3:2 Hebrew him
  2. Nehemiah 3:5 Or lords
  3. Nehemiah 3:6 Or of the old city
  4. Nehemiah 3:9 Or foreman of half the portion assigned to; also verses 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18
  5. Nehemiah 3:13 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters
  6. Nehemiah 3:19 Or corner; also verses 20, 24, 25
  7. Nehemiah 3:31 Or Hammiphkad Gate

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
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A Chapter a Day: Nehemiah 2

Nehemiah Sent to Judah

In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given me to the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy.” And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.


Nehemiah Inspects Jerusalem’s Walls

Then I came to the governors of the province Beyond the River and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen. But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant heard this, it displeased them greatly that someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel.

So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days. Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no animal with me but the one on which I rode. I went out by night by the Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire. Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal that was under me to pass. Then I went up in the night by the valley and inspected the wall, and I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, and I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest who were to do the work.

Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longersuffer derision.” And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work. But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim[a] in Jerusalem.”


  1. Nehemiah 2:20 Or memorial

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
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A Chapter a Day: Nehemiah 1

Report from Jerusalem

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah.

Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.”

Nehemiah’s Prayer

As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”

Now I was cupbearer to the king.


English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
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reCap: A Chapter a Day

My blog does not get a lot of traffic, but I am happy sharing with a modest number of people. The Chapter a Day series during the month of August 2014 was a personal challenge for me to re-engage more fully with God’s word. Snippets here and there weren’t doing me much good. I needed to immerse myself in the Word.

I did not intend to map out a plan of chapters, but of course being a natural planner I created an outline for the first couple of weeks. That outline was not followed. Instead, I stayed true to my original intent and allowed the Holy Spirit to guide me.

What an exhilarating tale, experience and journey the month of chapters has been! And more people than usual, shared the journey with me.

Visits to my blog increased significantly this month. In fact, during August 2014 – a month when I shared a full chapter from the Bible each day – I’ve had more visitors than any other month during the nearly three-year stat history of this blog (Spirit Harvest). My second busiest month was July 2013.

I won’t be able to sustain this volume of posts, but I will continue to share a meaty word with you. 😉 I’m encouraged and hope you are too!

Chapters shared

Ruth 1-4: Ruth’s faith and obedience leads her to Boaz who becomes her redeemer (of family property) and husband

John 1-6: Jesus, the Word of God, giving instructions with words of spirit and life

Hosea 1-2: Per God’s instructions, Hosea makes a wife of a whore who continues in her wayward ways after their marriage. Yet he is instructed to pursue and woo her.

Song of Solomon 1-3: Joy and beauty of youthful love

Ephesians 4-6: Instructions for husbands, wives, children and Believers of all stages

Haggai 1-2: Rebuilding of the temple of God; a call to obedience and restoration

1 John 1-5: The nature of God – light, life and love

Joel 1-3: Destruction followed by repentance. People return to the Lord; He pours out His Spirit

1 Peter 1-2: Born again to a Living Hope, holy people, submission to authority

Genesis 2: Forming of man and woman, placement in the Garden of Eden, relationship and unity


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By Pastor Teresa Conlon

Click here to listen:

Key verses (NCV):

Ezra 3:10-11

The builders finished laying the foundation of the Temple of the Lord. Then the priests, dressed in their robes, stood with their trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, stood with their cymbals. They all took their places and praised the Lord just as David king of Israel had said to do. With praise and thanksgiving, they sang to the Lord:

“He is good; his love for Israel continues forever.”

And then all the people shouted loudly, “Praise the Lord! The foundation of his Temple has been laid.”

Ezra 4:1-7

When the enemies of the people of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned captives were building a Temple for the Lord, the God of Israel, they came to Zerubbabel and the leaders of the families. The enemies said, “Let us help you build, because we are like you and want to worship your God. We have been offering sacrifices to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.”

But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the leaders of Israel answered, “You will not help us build a Temple to our God. We will build it ourselves for the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us to do.”

Then the people around them tried to discourage the people of Judah by making them afraid to build. Their enemies hired others to delay the building plans during the time Cyrus was king of Persia. And it continued to the time Darius was king of Persia.

When Xerxes first became king, those enemies wrote a letter against the people of Judah and Jerusalem.

When Artaxerxes became king of Persia, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and those with them wrote a letter to Artaxerxes. It was written in the Aramaic language and translated.

Read the letter here and the response: Ezra 4:11-24

Galatians 2:20-21

I was put to death on the cross with Christ, and I do not live anymore—it is Christ who lives in me. I still live in my body, but I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself to save me. By saying these things I am not going against God’s grace. Just the opposite, if the law could make us right with God, then Christ’s death would be useless.

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God’s abundance is never more than we can bear…

God’s abundance is never more than we can bear, which means all His tests are passable. He only pours into vessels He has hollowed out and cleansed for His use. The style choice for hollowing and cleansing are completely up to Him. As are the timing and duration.

The hollowing task of sorrow…

imageI’ve been saying since late last year that 2012 was the worst year ever for me. It was a difficult year emotionally and physically. However, spiritually, it was perhaps one of the most productive years of my life. The more time that passes, the harder it is for me to identify the situations that pained me most in 2012, but even in the midst of tests, trials, hardships, disappointments, and deep sorrows I knew God was doing a work in me. He was stripping, scraping, and dragging me through the mud to reshape me. Then he began chiseling and whittling and hollowing me out. It was painful and isolating.

Yet even in the discomfort of transformation, my Good Father gave me clues as to what He was getting me ready for. Even as the remnants of my old life lay in shreds at my feet, the glory of my new life was illuminated before my eyes. I didn’t have to wait until He finished re-sculpting me to experience joy. I was able to experience joy even in the midst of the painful process. Why? Because my Creator was working on me. And as long as my Lord is working on me, I know I am well and truly in His hands.

For the last five months (yes, since the end of 2012), my life has exploded with opportunities I have jumped on, possibilities I have embraced, the manifestation of dreams I had long let go of and the fulfillment of promises I was ready to release my Heavenly Father from. My life has been getting so incredibly full that I barely know where to look from one moment to the next.

…makes room for blessings.

Before 2012, I would have been completely overwhelmed within the first or second month of such fullness. But now I can look back and see my Lord hollowed me out with hardship after hardship after hardship so He could fill me with His blessings. For a time I could only concentrate on my emptiness and the despair from that emptiness and now He’s adding blessing after blessing after blessing. After each new thing my Father brings to me, I wonder how can I possibly take on anything else? As sure as I know anything, I know He has so much more in store for me. And sure enough, the blessings keep on coming and they fit so seamlessly into my life.

That’s the beauty of being hollowed with sorrow – in due time, your deep emptiness will become a deep well of joy.

Rest in His peace, for He truly loves you.


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Are you asking for forgiveness or expecting to be forgiven?

While out shopping over the holidays, I ran into someone from a former congregation of mine. She spoke about the turmoil gripping her congregation at that time because of a tainted leader. My heart grew heavy with sorrow from hearing the story she told. Essentially, the turmoil was caused because a leader egregiously offended a member of the congregation and then went on a smear campaign against that person to certain groups within the congregation. When the leaders’ actions against this person became known to the whole congregation, many others became offended by the leader’s behavior and treatment of this person. The leader was then called upon to give an account of his behavior, to apologize for his treatment of the wronged member and to ask for forgiveness from the whole congregation.

The sister who told me this tale was of the opinion that the leader was not repentant because he did not ask for forgiveness. He expected to be forgiven because of who he was and because he was addressing Christians.

please forgive meI am aware that there are believers who think the “Christian” thing to do is forgive even when they aren’t asked by the offender to forgive them. But really, think about it, where does the relationship go from there? Yes, we can forgive an unrepentant person, but how does that improve their spiritual walk? In my experience, it doesn’t. What we can do with the unrepentant and all others is hand them and the burden, offenses included, received from the relationship with them over to Jesus. That is what we are instructed to do. Doing so, in the minimum, improves the spiritual walk of the offended party because we learn through these difficulties to depend more and more on Jesus.

In the same way, when I cause an offense, I seek guidance from my Lord on how to mend the breach. How do I rectify this situation? I lay my burden of guilt down at Jesus’s feet and ask His guidance on the action(s) I need to take to make my relationship right. With this process, I have learned to acknowledge offenses I have caused in my relationships; apologize for them and ask how I can make amends.

Here, I must admit, I am very quick to apologize for almost anything, but it is very rare that I ask if I am forgiven.

Forgiveness is not just a word; it is a function of astounding grace. It is not something that we can offer or receive lightly. We really can’t give grace at all. We receive grace from God. We receive our ability to forgive from God. And all that we receive is channeled through us.

A short while ago, I posted a piece titled Expect. Expectancy. Expectation. on my get up & walk, ride or fly blog. In this post, I wrote about how I have come full circle in regards to expectations – of myself and for others. At the beginning of my spiritual journey, I desperately wanted to shed myself of other people’s expectations of me. A couple of years later, I also realized I had to shed myself of my expectations of other people. Now I’m at a point where I am able to appreciate and accept responsibility for some of the expectations people have of me based on the natural progression of our relationship. And I am okay embracing the expectations of me that are formed in the space of a relationship with the person I’m interacting with.

However, throughout my brief study of expectations, I’ve noticed that what makes them so difficult to deal with is the innate arrogance associated with them. When we “expect” something of someone, we are basically assuming their actions, behavior, interactions and reactions will line up with our personal worldview.

When our own view of the world is accommodated to the exclusion of other people’s’ views, it sort of naturally follows that the needs of others in our lives will be neglected. One need in particular is the need to know that when an offense has been caused that both the offended party and the offender desire a reconciliation on some level. That is where the offender’s acknowledgement and repentance of the offense comes in. These are two crucial steps the offender needs to take in order to resolve (reconcile) the breach in the relationship.

please try againOver the holidays, I had a conversation with an uncle who violently abused me in my childhood. This was my second conversation with him in twenty-four years. The last time I saw him was twelve Christmases ago, at which time I asked him why he had done what he did to me. His response: I thought I would get away with it. I didn’t think you would say anything.

I had initiated that conversation as the offended (shattered) party. I wanted an explanation. I wanted his sorrow. I wanted him to be REPENTANT. I wanted him to assure me that he had changed. Deep down, I wanted my uncle back (I’ve never admitted that before). Instead, I walked away from that conversation feeling even more offended and with more anger than before we had spoken.

A few weeks ago, as we gathered for my grandmother’s final days in this world, he followed me into a family sitting room at the hospital and he initiated a conversation. He literally started off by acknowledging the horrible violence he inflicted upon me and the impact it has had on the whole family. He apologized for his actions and assured me that not one day has gone by that he hasn’t been reminded of his despicable acts. He looked at me and said, “I hope that one day, you will find it in your heart to forgive me.”

I looked at him and smiled a very slight smile and said, “You were forgiven years ago. Perhaps I should have made an effort to let you know. I hold no grudge against you, nor do I have any animosity for you. I hope one day you’re able to forgive yourself.”

I walked away from this second conversation feeling as if God had blessed me beyond my ability to understand. The difference between the two conversations was when my uncle took responsibility for his actions, he was able to RECEIVE the forgiveness that was there for him all along. We were both blessed in that exchange.

We can only forgive because God first forgave us. It is His grace we are operating in. yet it is still a process. A process of healing.  A process of renewing trust. A process of mending fractures. A process of rebuilding the relationship.

hands_making_love_heart_with_shining_lightWe are responsible for being willing vessels of God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness. When our hearts are open to Him, His Spirit can operate through us in breathtaking ways. We exhibit our willingness to yield to God by offering Him our hurts, pains, confusion, disillusionment and disappointments. We give Jesus our offenses. We give Jesus our guilt. We ask God to operate in our relationships. We allow His Holy Spirit to have His way by correcting us, healing us, guiding us and helping us to reconcile and restore our relationships.

I just want to say to you today: Check yourself.  Check your relationships. Check your desire to reconcile, restore, and to rebuild. After your self-evaluation, ask yourself if you are truly asking to be forgiven for any offense you may have caused or are you simply sitting back and expecting forgiveness to roll over you? And keep in mind, if you’re sitting back expecting forgiveness to look a certain way, to feel a certain way or to sound a certain way, then you’re stuck in your own worldview and you’re probably missing out on receiving something that could bless you beyond your imagination. Don’t miss out on true fruit from your relationships: enlightenment and growth through the unending cycle of love and forgiveness. Be blessed and go out and be a blessing. God has asked it of you and He is expecting you to comply.