So touched by this. Years ago, we had a ministry student do some work for us, and she made a choice that caused my daughter intense pain and heartbreak. God used it for good in my daughter’s life, and she is completely fine today from the event. She reflects back on the story through the lens, not of pain and grief but of how the Father was so real to her. I recently received a text message from a number I didn’t recognize, and it took me a moment to put the story together. It was from this young gal who lamented sincere repentance. I am not sure about the events that unfolded in her journey, but God was clearly convicting her, and despite the time passed, she was eager to make it right. She offered to send me money to buy something for my daughter and owned her choices. My goodness, there is something so beautiful about holy conviction of wrongdoing AND humbling yourself to make it right. My daughter was able to respond directly, assuring her that she was fine and that nothing was owed. I just wanted to share to encourage you that there is no time limit on clearing the air and making things right with others, especially in God’s family.
We often talk about when others have spoken words of judgment over us. But what about the scores of words we have spoken over others, either directly or indirectly? God showed me a tangled-up ball of yarn. We often do not know someone’s journey or story and why they did what they did or said, and we shoot arrows of judgment from our heart and mouth. We directly or indirectly slander them to others (often in the form of ‘prayer requests’), and we hinder their growth with our idle words. We will be responsible for these words and have to give an account.
Matthew 12:36 – “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”
May I encourage you, along with myself, to take a moment and pray this prayer?
“Jesus, I repent for any and all words spoken about or against Your creation. Forgive me for being careless in my speech and prideful in my assessment of their behavior. You alone hold the judgment seat. Do You forgive me? (Wait for His answer). I call forth every word spoken intentionally or unintentionally that has bound up another human being, judged them, or cursed them, and declare my words null and void. Holy Spirit, I ask that You fill that person up with Your power, love, and a clear mind. Jesus, give them Your mind so that they can interact with Your Father as You do. Embrace them, Father, so that they may know and experience Your truth and heart for them.”
Somewhere along the lines of parenting, advice became the concept of putting soap in a child’s mouth when they spoke unedifying words. As someone who spoke my mind often, I was one of them. It was common in our household to see bars of Dial soap with teeth marks in them. Lord have mercy was this parenting tool from the pit of hell. It did little to ‘clean my mouth’ and instead built up resentment and offense. But the principle of cleaning our mouths is Biblical.
Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but if there is any good word for edification according to the need of the moment, say that, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”
Some of us have become so foul in our speech towards ourselves, our children, and strangers that it has left a stench in the nose of the Father. We need to grab the bubble of Jesus’ blood and ask Him to cleanse our mouths of all unrighteousness. Gather the family and have a fun time washing your hands, seeing who can make the most bubbles. Have fun, let joy break out. Then have them sit in the family room and read Ephesians 4:29. Talk about what it means and what unwholesome speech looks like (which includes tones and attitudes). Together ask, “Jesus, would You please show me when I have allowed unwholesome words to leave my lips?” Share what He reveals, and then as a family, ask Him for forgiveness, “Jesus, I confess that I _____. Will You please forgive me?” and then wait for His reply.
In the days ahead, be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit to be quick to clean up any unwholesome speech. Your children may need to role-play certain situations in learning how to be upset, mad, or disappointed and yet not sin with their words.
It never ceases to amaze me how things like a family vacation, school breaks or holidays, etc. can cause a breakdown in the connection among siblings. It is easy to want to partner with scolding them for being so selfish, but the reality is they need HELP staying connected in different circumstances. I found myself putting out little fires between this one and that one, that one and this one. Finally, one morning I called a family meeting and had them close their eyes. I prayed and asked everyone to listen. “Jesus, has anyone in this room hurt, offended, or taken from me?” Every hand went up. I led them to forgive that person. I then walked through, “Jesus, is there anything I need to forgive ______ for?” and I went through each person’s name. I then asked, “Jesus, is there anyone in this room that I need to ask forgiveness for?” And every hand went up.
We walked through being humble and owning the ways we have hurt others. It generally isn’t the big things but rather the little things that build up over time. I shared with them that if each person had to forgive for two things, times the five of us, that is TEN hurts or offenses between us, and I had them picture a ball of yarn like a spider web between us that the enemy can use to pull and influence. We want to take out our spiritual scissors and cut the strings through forgiveness. The JOY and peace that come from these family times are tangible. I don’t want forced connections and fake smiles. I want my family to genuinely have love and care for each other, and sometimes we have to go after the little foxes of offense that are ruining the vineyard.
Video – Family Detox – YouTube
What is a trigger? A trigger is when you are going about your life, and someone touches that place in you that is unhealed and has left an unresolved hurt, lie, or offense. All is fine until someone does or says something that touches that place. FAMILY is notorious for touching those places. As many are with loved ones this holiday season, be mindful of those places of frustration, irritations, and stings and allow God to bring greater healing.
Here are some great quick questions to stop and ask Him: “Jesus, what lie am I believing?”, “Jesus, why did that comment make my heart so uncomfortable?”, “Jesus, what about that situation felt so unsafe?”, “Jesus, when was the first time I felt that?”, “Jesus, what is Your truth?”
Triggers are your friends when you partner with God for greater healing and wholeness. He sent His Son so that you are free and free indeed and can be at peace in all situations. Let greater freedom come to your heart this holiday season.
I bought the little Etch-a-Sketch, kept it in my junk drawer, and used it as my object lesson for forgiveness when my children goofed up. I remember one time in particular when I was traveling, my son forged his field trip permission slip with my signature since he’d forgotten to ask me to sign it before I left. The teacher caught him. He confessed what he did, and I asked him to get the Etch-a-Sketch. I explained what forgery was, and we talked about why it was a wrong choice. Then, I turned it over, shook it, and said, “I forgive you for forging the field trip form.” We hugged, and I asked him how he would handle it next time. It was a great teachable moment!
Someone once texted me something that was dark, awful, and marinated in fear. I told her, “Do not fight that one on your own, but actively turn it over to Jesus’ courtroom to be judged.” We are not to take on every evil of the world, but boy, when we see it, we have the right, honor, and privilege of handing it over to the One who will judge and deal with it according to His Word.
When you see/hear of something that is rooted in the wrong kingdom manifesting on earth and producing bad fruit, do NOT partner with judgment, slander, or fear, as that only strengthens it. Immediately hand it over.
“I hand _____ over to Jesus’ courtroom to be dealt with, and I release (the opposite spirit) into that situation in Jesus’ name.”
Teach your children how to do this as well. It takes the burden off of us, removes us from coming under it, and aligns us with the One who can effectively deal with it on our behalf.
How would you handle it if your neighbor’s dog harmed your beloved pet? Look at how this family chose to handle their pain and hurt. Share it with your children as an example of love and connection over revenge and offense.
“Hi Lisa, please pray for our family. Yesterday a huge dog from our neighbor broke into our backyard and bit Candy really badly. We took her to the vet immediately, but she passed this morning. Josh (my son) is so heartbroken. There are no words to express how sad and sorry he feels that he lost his best friend. Our neighbors are Buddhist, and when my husband went to tell them about Candy’s passing, they kept saying that they needed to pay back for their fault and guilt. They were so ashamed and were crying for us. But we felt as a family that we were going to show them grace and God’s forgiveness. Joshi is still grieving and processing all of this, but he said he is ready to forgive our neighbors and the dog. Praise God for giving us the grace to share with our neighbor His love in the midst of great sorrow. We went to talk to our neighbor, and Joshi took Candy’s food and, with tears streaming down from his eyes, told him that he forgave him and his dog. The owner told us that in his 50+ years in this world, nobody had forgiven him like this. We were all in tears. We got to pray for him and his family, bless them, and plant a seed of love in his heart. He is a military guy, but his heart is so tender. He kept hugging Joshi and thanking Joshi for forgiving him. It was such a beautiful picture of God’s grace and forgiveness. Later, we biked to the lake, and for the first time in the past 24 hours, I saw Joshi’s smile and playful spirit reappear. He told me, ‘It was so good to talk to our neighbor and forgive him. I feel much better now.’ Wow! The power of forgiveness! Thank You, Jesus! And thank you for praying for us. The owner offered to buy a new dog for Joshi when his heart was ready. It’ll never be the same without Candy, but hopefully, Candy’s loss won a soul in the Kingdom and taught us the power of forgiveness in the midst of much pain and injustice.”
2 Chronicles 7:14 – “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” One small two-letter word is the key to Him healing our land. **IF** What does He consider wicked? We would be wise to know what His heart is so that we can measure ourselves to His standard. Proverbs 6:16-19 (MSG) – “Here are six things God hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion: eyes that are arrogant, a tongue that lies, hands that murder the innocent, a heart that hatches evil plots, feet that race down a wicked track, a mouth that lies under oath, a troublemaker in the family.”
It is easy to read this list and say, “Not me! Goodness, with all of the stories on the news today, I am surely not that bad.” But how about we ask Him?
REPENT – “Jesus, will You please show me if there are areas I have walked in pride?”
REPENT – “Jesus, will You please show me if there are things I have not been fully truthful about?”
REPENT – “Jesus, will You please show me if there are areas I have partnered with anger rather than forgiveness?”
REPENT – “Jesus, will You please show me if there are areas I have desired or acted on revenge?”
REPENT – “Jesus, will You please show me if there are areas I have rushed to speak instead of seeking to understand?”
REPENT – “Jesus, will You please show me if there are areas I have shared gossip or juicy stories not even knowing they were 100% true?”
REPENT – “Jesus, will You please show me if there are areas I have caused my family – immediate or church family – hardship or harm by my words or actions?”
REPENT – “Jesus, I confess I have partnered with _____ by _____. I see that this is not Your will for Your children. Will You please forgive me?”
Now go teach your children about these verses, give examples, and teach them how to ask for forgiveness.
The Cross is the answer to EVERYTHING! One would never go before a judge and ask for leniency, favor, or judgments against an offending party if they had $1,000 of unpaid parking tickets. You get your affairs in order FIRST before asking for help, favor, and intervention. Approaching God with a pure heart is much more effective than coming to Him offended, full of bitterness and anger.
LITTLE FOXES – Sometimes, amidst our daily routines, we pick up little foxes along the way. They are subtle but evident. You know, the little things like getting easily annoyed, a sharp tone, not lending a hand, quick tempers, and a lack of basic respect. I saw it in my family too, so I grabbed the kids, and we read about the unforgiving slave in Matthew 18:21-35 and talked about the Father’s heart for forgiveness. We then took out our journals and asked Jesus to highlight any (and all) offenses we were holding onto for each person, myself included. An hour later, we found ourselves wanting to hear how we have hurt each other’s hearts. We canceled the debts the person owed us, handed each person over to Jesus to deal with any character or heart issue (that was powerful), and then we declared the truth over each family member! It was a major spiritual detox, and each of us felt like the heaviness lifted.
SPIRITUAL DETOX – Detoxing our body helps flush out the bad build-up that bogs down our health. Sometimes we need to do a spiritual detox to rid ourselves of the things we have been holding onto that affect our spiritual health, connections, and joy. Does your family need a spiritual detox?
Video – Family Detox – YouTube