I have had many varied reactions from people on the subject of forgiveness. For many it can be a very touchy subject.

A few years back, I had a very elderly woman (Christian) stand in front of me and with her fury on her face tell me that she “would never forgive ………. ( a certain person)!”. The fury on her face and the anger in her tone took me by surprise and I almost took a step back.

We have all had to forgive someone for something that they have done to us. We have all had more than one instance where we have had to ask someone to forgive us. Yet I am fully aware that there are people, that have suffered at the hands of others in such horrible ways, that the mere thought of approaching them about forgiveness would almost seem inappropriate.

Years ago, I was praying and I felt God direct my heart towards someone who had years before hurt me very badly. As soon as my thoughts went in that direction I felt the anger rising and all I wanted to do was to ask God to destroy them. Like a lightning bolt immediately in their direction!!! I fumed and burned with anger and rage. All the while trying hard to be really nice in what I said to God.

After a few minutes of praying, I heard God say, “forgive ……… (the person)”. Was He joking!!!

No, he was serious. My mind churned and I felt physically sick.

“Ruth, you need to forgive ……… (the person) for your sake.”


The Holy Spirit went on to flood my thoughts with the concepts of what forgiveness was.


It is forever


Forgiveness is a forever thing. Once I forgive, it must remain in that place. Yet our human minds like pour over the albums of “past hurts” and it is quiet easy to do so.

Some of us have physical scars that show us that someone once upon a time, inflicted us with a physical wound to go with emotional pain. For some it is words, spoken careless words that Satan uses to make our lives a misery. For others, it is private personal pain that brings thoughts of deep, deep, betrayal.

Forever is a long time in our minds. No one should get way with wrong doing. Right? And by God asking us to give it to Him FOREVER is a bit much, right?

Why forever God? Why?

The religious way would be to say, “because God forgave you forever.”

Yes, but tell that to someone who has lost a loved one to a drunk driver, or to a murderer. Tell that to someone who was brutally injured or raped by someone, or was violated at a young age by someone they trusted. Yes, forever seem a long time to be let off the hook. Surely these types of people do not deserve any forgiveness from us, especially the forever kind of forgiveness.

God really needed me to understand that when I did this, it would be forever. That was the cost He was asking me to pay. It was the same as a sports coach is letting you know the physical cost of being an international athlete. Without this knowledge, it would only be a surface commitment that I made to the forgiveness “thing”.


For our sake


After showing me that it was a forever thing, He then showed me that it was really, really good for me. He needed me to forgive for my sake. He knew it was burning inside me, it would eventually make me mean, hurtful and reactive.

Anger, hatred and bitterness has a way of rotting you from the inside out. I read a quote once and I believe that it is by a person called Hamant Smarty and it goes like this, “Forgiveness doesn’t excuse their behaviour. It prevents their behaviour from destroying your heart.”

Anger will churn you until you are sick, bitterness with mess with your head, unforgiveness will keep you remembering the injustice of it all, and hatred will give you no peace. One thing that I have noticed is this – unforgiveness and anger will change your face and bring hardness to your eyes.

It will keep you attached to the person – forever! A quote from Dr Caroline Leaf – “forgiveness disentangles you from the people that hurt you so they can’t hurt you anymore.” I recently watched a speech where she explained that when people forgive there is something that actually happens in their brain. It was amazing to watch her talk about this.

God has wired our brain not only to be forgiven, but to forgive others. Our bodies were not meant to carry the burden of unforgiveness. It messes with us, and will destroy us, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.


Because God forgave us


It might be almost a “throwaway line”, but it is true. We want God to forgive us. We want Him to never remember it again. We want Him not to bring it up every time that we speak to Him.


Apparently, we don’t have to forgive others.

Not so…

There are a few passages of scripture but this is the one that always spoke to me. It is a parable that Jesus told in response to Peter (one of His disciples) asking Him about the amount of times to forgive – “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” Matthew 18:35

It is about being merciful. It is about being treated the way that we want to be treated. Simple.

It is not another rule that we have to follow, or God demanding something more. We want to be forgiven, unreservedly. So, we are not doing anything different in forgiving someone that God has not done already.

He died so that I could be forgiven. I never want to face my God, with an unforgiving heart. Do you?


Changes us forever.


If you don’t know who Corrie Ten Boon is, then you need to look it up. What she suffered at the hands of the Nazi’s in a Concentration Camp was beyond what most people would comprehend. She had a quote and I think that it fits well.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and to discover the prisoner was you.”

I cannot describe to you what forgiveness has done to me. I am free to love, care and have compassion. I am free to laugh and cry without pain. I am free to talk to my God and to know that I am forgiven. There are even some memories that I cannot even remember, I know that they should be there, but they are not. Forgiveness has opened my prison doors up, and given me freedom to live.

Forgiveness does that, you know.

I will repeat what I said before – “God has wired our brain not only to be forgiven, but to forgive others. Our bodies were not meant to carry the burden of unforgiveness. It messes with us, and will destroy us, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.”

Be blessed as yourself free.



Thorny problems and God’s love.


Over the Easter I found plenty of time to ponder what Easter was about and to pray. But the time to put those thoughts onto paper was very limited indeed. Tuesday, after Easter, I sat down to write, but within half an hour received some bad news that left my brain swirling for a few days. Today, I decided that what I started on to write was still needed to be said, but the other reason for this blog became clear.

On Saturday during the Easter period, I took some time to spend time to help my husband do some fencing. The barbed wire was particularly difficult as we restrained it and tied it to the fence post, after we had made room for a gate. I wore some gloves so that the barbed wire I handled would not pierce my hand and rip my skin. I stood looking at the tie after I had finished and checked my arms for cuts.

As I cut off the extra length that was not needed in retying it, I looked at the barbed wire in my hands and I remembered what my Saviour did for me. I let this thought sit for a moment while I went to boil the billy for a cup of tea.

The very fact that barbed wire and thorns do the same job on your skin made a great story line, but I was yet to find out why the barbed wire was necessary for me to notice. A few days later I would know why.


He took it upon Himself


In doing a little research after we arrived home, I found that it could have been one of about 3 or 4 plants that could have been used as the “crown of thorns”. The one most researchers used was the Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii). Apparently, it is thorny enough and flexible enough to make into a crown.

It was also interesting that God spoke several times throughout the bible about thorns. In Genesis thorns were a repercussion for disobedience.

“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. Gen 5:17b-18 (NIV)

Later, God spoke thru Isaiah because he saw injustice and distress – Isaiah 5:6-7

“I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it.”

The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.” (NIV)

In dying on the cross, God’s Son took upon the curses, wrong doing (sin) and disobedience that we ourselves have chosen to walk by. Those things that destroy our lives and our relationship with God. The things that bring guilt and shame, hardship, and pain. A onetime act of God for the sake of all mankind.

This was not only in the cross that He died upon, but the stripes from the whip and the crown of thorns on His head. These things (and much more) were symbolic of a new start and a new promise of God that was completed by the death of His Son for us so that we could have this promise for ourselves – the ability to have the sin, shame and guilt taken from us and a relationship with Almighty God.

This crown was placed upon our Saviour’s head and on that cross He died so that we have through Christ Jesus the freedom from the curse of sin and death. No more guilt and shame.

And you know what the greatest thing about this is – we don’t have to wait for eternity for the work of God to change our lives so that our lives here today are transformed day by day. God want us to have a little bit of heaven on earth, while He walks with us every day.

Our past died on the cross with Christ. The curses that should have been ours was removed as well.

Guilt and shame, hopelessness and despair is something that you do not have to live with. We can be free because of God’s forgiveness and love.

It was the love of God for you that those thorns pierced His head and not ours. God’s offer to us, given in love, to allow us a changed life. The skin of His son broken by thorns so that our thorny broken lives could be changed – now and in eternity.


Thorny problems


Over the past few days as my emotions swirled around me in the chaos of the sudden life experiences. I was once again aware that thorny problems have a way of tearing at our emotions and it is our Saviour that we can turn to. There is nothing that He cannot helps us with and that He cannot understand.

The person who I received the bad news about had been like a thorn in my side, yet the need to intercede for the person in prayer was the only thing on my mind. It was like I needed my God more than ever. The fact that my Saviour knew how to forgive his enemies and was the epitome of forgiveness, was my comfort. Yet this person was never my enemy, just someone who regularly brought me to my knees in pray.

I could not pray for this person if I hadn’t forgiven them a long time ago, and remained forgiving every time they pierced me. If bitterness had clouded my heart, I could not have prayed with love. I could not have seen the person in the hospital and felt compassion and concern, if I had hardness.

The need to remind myself that God sees the thorns that pierce me and knows the pain of suffering more than me. I need to leave the thorns to Him. It is up to God to remove the thorns from my life, or to allow them to remain for my growth. This is hard. Especially when the person involved needs mercy when the world says that they need punishment.

I could repeat what I said before, but with a different twist – “It was the love of God for you that those thorns from His captors pierced His head and not ours. God’s offer to us, given in love, to allow us a changed life even while the thorns can pierce us as well. The skin of His Son broken by thorns so that each and every thorny broken life could be changed – now and in eternity.” (italics added)

Christ died not only for the curses of disobedience, but He died for the thorns that come against us in life. I pray that you will give the thorns to Him, He know what to do with them.

Be blessed.



A whole lot of Jesus


“All I need today is a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus.” Like this picture? I do. I saw this sign on my friend’s Facebook page and I knew that I had found the sign for my kitchen.. actually for my life at the moment.

This last week my hubby and I have been getting up at 4.30am and I am not getting to bed until 10.30pm. The days have been busy…very busy.

Now those who know me well (like my children), know that when I have very little sleep, it means one thing – very little patience indeed.

I know that this is not how it should be, right? After all I am a Christian, right? I am supposed to be Godly woman, with the patience of a saint.

You know, afternoons are the pits for me. I am a morning person who wakes most mornings between 5-6AM. I wake chattering and laughing, and constantly trying to keep it under control as the males in my life groan and pull the covers over their head to avoid my cheeriness.  I hit the floor boards running. I am patient, lovable, giggly, talkative and can conquer the world.

But afternoons!!! Wow. I have run out of good mood, and this little fuzzy cutie-pie has run out of Zing and Zip. And it is pretty much so down hill from about 2pm onwards. So, by the time the children come home from school, I am ready to pack them to bed and curl up for the night.

But no!!

I am yet to get through after-school snacks (which for two teenage boys is like emptying the fridge onto the table), folding clothes, cleaning up after my two whirlwinds (aka teenage boys) have gone through the house, run the children to sports trainings, supervised school homework, had a cuppa with my hard working husband, water the vegie patch, cook dinner, clean up after dinner, supervise bedtimes, have another cuppa with my hubby, fed and put to bed the animals, and then get ready for bed.

Oh.. and by the way – I am the only early bird in our family!! That means this – when I am ready to die for the night, everyone else is just ramping up the volume. Do you get what I mean?

For me I need Jesus a lot of an afternoon and evening. For the past couple of months, I have needed Pentecost… a move of the Spirit.

I need sleep like some people need clothes – just enough to cover the body decently, but not too much to overdo it. Eight hours of sleep is a really good amount. Eight and a half has me purring happily….until 2pm in the afternoon!!

When my children were babies I was living on 2-3 hours of sleep a night. To cope I was having a sleep in the middle of the day with my children. It was the only way I could cope. The cleaning, washing, cooking and everything else just had to wait. Both of my babies fussy and didn’t like sleeping… at night anyway! My youngest was unwell and I spent a lot of night walking the floor with him until he was about 2 and a half years old. It was during this part of my life that my marriage failed and that I realised that I had too much reliance on myself rather than on God. I needed a whole lot of Jesus, and didn’t know how.

There are times in my life where I have had to draw on reserves that are not there. I need God’s word and His Spirit to comfort, teach and help me when I face the hard times. Lately it has been lack of time, exhaustion and stretching myself in areas that I have had no experience to deal with the situations I have found myself in – like bringing up teens, a three-year court battle, starting out in ministry and menopause. All things that are not difficult, not life threatening, just…well…interesting. Times when I and needing God for wisdom, strength, and comfort.

But this is not the only time I need God. It is not only these times I need the way of forgiveness that Jesus provided on the cross, or the help and comfort of the Holy Spirit. It is each and every day I need His word and Him.

If the Jesus I need is the one that I run to when things are bad, or hide behind when I am scared, or the one that causes me to puff up when I want to look down on others – then He is not Jesus. It is actually just me pretending to be Christian. I lived as a pretend Christian for many years.

The Jesus that I need is the One that changes me – the Jesus that redeemed and saved me for a reason. He sent His Holy Spirit that I would be different, changed, and renewed.

If the Jesus I have, is only allowed in the surface areas of my life, then He is not Jesus at all. He is the “Jesus-when-I-want”, or the “Jesus-I-am-scared” or maybe the “Jesus-hear-my-prayer”.

My dad would talk about “foxhole Christians”. According to him, they were the Christians that prayed when they were cowering in the foxholes trying to survive an attack by the opposing army in a war. But when they came out… well… they just went back to living how they want.

To have a relationship with God that is this momentary and fleeting, is like have a friend who you only contact when you need a cup of sugar. It’s like having an umbrella in your hand and not using it while it rains.

Don’t limit God by having Him there just in case you might need Him.

There are days when I know that God is allowing my faith to be tested, there are days when He is silent, and there are days when all I can do is hang on to God’s promises. It is days like this, that God is growing me to encompass everything that He has for me – to have a whole lot more of His Spirit.

This is what I want. A whole lot less of me and a whole lot more of God. I am pretty sure that this is what He wants too.

John the Baptist used these words “He must increase, but I must decrease.”. While I understand that John was speaking of his ministry, and knowing that his life was soon to be over, it also can be applied to us, personally.

Our God is so much more than a surface God who is sitting back watching our chaotic life. He wants to get in there with us, help us and get His hands dirty. Now, I am pretty sure I have just upset a few people who wouldn’t like to think of God getting His hands dirty. Isn’t that what His Son did by dying on the cross? He came so that we would be saved. Isn’t that what God did by sending to us His Holy Spirit? To dwell with us?

I rely on God’s work (and workings) in my life while I am not all I should be. God is faithful. He is trustworthy.

So, this evening I reach for a cup of coffee and I am grateful for my “get your hands dirty God”, who loves me and helps me daily. My whole lot of Jesus seems an awesome decision to make.

Be blessed.