Sunday, April 14, 2013

Forgivness: My Story, My Song

The majority of my life I’ve lived demanding justice for being wronged by people. I wanted those who’ve wronged me to pay for what they did to me. The truth is, I was the only one paying.  R. T. Kendall says, ‘Bitterness is the poison we drink hoping someone else dies.’  My unforgiveness, not the wrongs that had happened to me, was slowly draining life out of me. Rage, anger, resentment, and bitterness became my torturers and constant companions, preventing me from fully loving or allowing myself to be loved.

One day as I read Matthew 18:21-35, I felt compelled to look up the word torment. I found that it means grievous pain; to vex; to harass.  In short, to torment means to experience the most amount of pain for the longest amount of time without killing someone. When you think about it, that sounds a lot like hell. As I reflected on that thought, my memory became overloaded with images of people and situations where I had been wronged, hurt, or offended.  The pain and the betrayal as fresh with each memory as the day I experienced them. I started to do the good Christian thing and stuff down the negative emotions, and softly, I heard a voice say, “You know, Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. If you will endure this, there is joy on the other side. You can have mercy or you can have judgment, but you can’t have both. If you want mercy, you must extend mercy to those who have wronged you. If you want judgment, you will remain in torment.” Forgiveness would cost me but unforgiveness would kill me.

To forgive, I had to be honest about each incident that happened to me; how it made me feel, how I responded to it, what lies they caused me to believe and act out of because of the wounding that occurred. It wasn’t pretty to face each offense and not shrink back. All of my life I responded to life in a ‘fight or flight’ sort of way. I used anger to protect me when I was scared or I ran away and chose not to deal with issues at hand. But here, I felt compelled by the Lord to endure this moment of truth with the promise that joy was just on the other side of all of those painful feelings.

I realized something else in that moment, when we choose to not forgive we actually devalue the blood of Jesus. It’s like saying what He did on the cross wasn’t enough because we still want the people who wronged us to pay. I had been committing spiritual fraud. Jesus’ death satisfied every debt of sin. Yet, I was still trying to collect payment for past wounds and offenses. In realizing that Jesus’ death paid not only for the sins I committed but also those committed against me, I realized those people - the very ones I had been judging and wanting to see get what they deserved owed me nothing. They had already received what they deserved: mercy just as I had received mercy.  James 2:13, Mercy triumphs judgment.

R. T. Kendall says, ‘Forgiveness is the medicine we give to someone else that gives us life.’ I chose to free every person that ever wronged me. I made a willful decision to say, “I forgive you for…(whatever action or violation they had committed against me). I release you and I bless you in Jesus’ name.” 

Something incredible happened in my heart! I began to experience peace like I’d never felt before. I found myself genuinely happy. I found myself laughing and smiling. I found myself falling in love with Jesus. My home became full of joy and merriment. I found that in forgiving others, my heart began to sing. I was experiencing new levels of freedom. I began to love myself. I was able to love my kids, love others.

There’s a song in forgiveness. Find its melody in your life. Grab a hold of it. Let it blow across your heart and set you free.

©2012  Felicia Murrell


1 John 4:7-8 (MSG) "My beloved friends let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can't know him if you don't love."
Love is so much more than a pasted on smile and a cheesy Christian greeting offered in passing. Love is so much more than feeding the hungry at Thanksgiving or clinking a few coins in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas. Love is so much more than words without feeling tacked on to the end of goodbye.
To love is to see inside someone and affirm the essence of who they are. To love is to serve. To love is to embrace. To love is to spend time in a dynamic life exchange. To love is to give. To love is to re-present Jesus and His Father to those around us.
To love is to recognize that we are all different and because of that difference, we all have a "unique to you" expression of demonstrating love. For some, that expression looks like championing the cause of the pro-life movement. For others, it may look like rescuing women and children from the horrors of human trafficking. Still for others it may look like staying at home to mother their young or joining the police force to bring safety and justice for all. A teacher educating young hearts. An attorney defending her client judicially. An actress illuminating the stage and warming hearts with her gift of entertainment. All unique expressions of love demonstrated to the world around us. All re-presenting an attribute of a Father in Heaven and His only begotten Son who loves you.
Father God is so multifaceted in who He is, it's no wonder we all get to be different in our expression of who we are. And yet at the core, the common uniting factor is love. God is kind. God is good. God is just. God is nurturing. God is a teacher. God is joyful. And yet at the center remains His essence, God is love. How we give love to the world should mirror who God is because as He is, so are we in this world (1 John 4:17).
Because we can't give away what we don't have, our loving others comes out of our personal experience of God loving us. To love others is to experience God. Love looks like compassion when we care for the hurting. Love looks like affirmation when we encourage the discouraged. Love looks like provision when we give to those in need. Love looks like honor when we embrace the treasure of another human being. Love looks like peace when we offer a listening ear or a comforting hand to a frantic soul.
What about you? Are you loving well? Can you articulate what your love looks like? How do you demonstrate your unique to you expression of love to those around you?  How are you re-presenting God to those in your sphere of influence? 

©2012  Felicia Murrell

What Family Really Is

Paul say in Eph. 3:14-15, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.”  Heaven on earth is a family business. Among the Godhead, there is absolute trust, absolute love, absolute honor and absolute freedom to be who they are.  Every family on earth has at its core, the Father’s DNA. 

The strength of the family lies in its foundation. The foundation of family is unconditional acceptance. It is the place where you get to be fully you and I get to be fully me. The family is the place of vulnerability.  I am safe to be myself.  In the family, everyone has a voice.  My opinion matters, not just the opinion of mom and dad.  My feelings count.

Families are to be established on the principles of 1) love 2) honor 3) responsibility 4) truth 5) faith 6) vision 7) integrity.

The family is the place where we learn freedom.  

The family is the place where we learn to communicate to others what we are going to do and do it. The family is the place to learn to effectively communicate what is going on in the inside of us by sharing what we need and what we feel in an atmosphere of safety that has been cultivated in a culture of honor. 

The family is the place where we learn that our choices, both good and poor, have consequences. 

The family is the place where we learn that I am powerful. And inside of a powerful family unit, I learn how to handle being a powerful person and how to relate to other powerful people. The family is the place where we learn to clean up our messes. The family is the place where we learn to respect and value others.

The family is the place where we learn who we are in Christ.  And with that knowledge in hand, we learn to celebrate who a person is without stumbling over who they are not, while drawing the best of their divine design and imprint to the surface of life for the world to see. This is the process of honor.  Life flows through honor.

The family is the place where we learn maturity.  The process of maturing is simply learning to be your same self no matter the situation or circumstance.  It’s the fruit of self-control. The family is the incubator in which we cultivate demonstrated mastery of self-control.

The family is the place where we learn how love works. Love is rooted in fearlessness. Love always requires a choice. 

The family is the place where we learn the importance of heart to heart connection. The goal of familial relationships is always connection. Solving an issue is never more important than connection. The family demonstrates that being in relationship takes precedence over being right. 

The family is the place where we learn to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. It’s the safest place to exhibit passion. The family is the place where we learn to love others as ourselves.  It the safest place to exhibit compassion.

The family is the place where we learn true humility.  True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less. The family is the place where we learn to serve, learn to love, learn to be generous.

The family is the safest place to fail and the safest place to be ourselves. The family is the place where I learn that I am fully loved. The family is the place where strong, powerful people are created.

When families are restored strength arises.  The word family in the Greek means lineage or bloodline and comes from the root word pater which is the Greek word for Father.
Make your home a place where the love of God is daily demonstrated through the power of God. When we have a personal experience of God loving us and being transformed by that love, we are able to reproduce His love, His life, His honor into our families. When people see healed families, it sticks with them. It makes an impact. May your family reflect the agape love, honor and freedom that permeate all of heaven.

©2012  Felicia Murrell


Ever had that experience where you see a good movie, eat a great meal, witness something outlandish, hear a funny joke, read a good book? Ever ponder what goes through your mind immediately following that experience? For me, it’s usually, “Oh my gosh! I have got to tell….”  Insert the names of your of best friends forever and you get the picture.

It’s something, the power of friendship. It’s true that no man is an island. We weren’t meant to live in isolation. From the beginning of time when God created man in His image and likeness, His foremost desire was to be in relationship with him. Throughout the Old Testament, you see God and His friends: God and Adam walking in the cool of the day. God revealing Himself to Moses in the burning bush and their ensuing friendship on Mount Sinai as the Lord allows His goodness to pass before him. Then there was Enoch.  A friendship so passionate that God took him because he couldn’t stand being without him (ref. Genesis 5:24).  And what about God and Abraham? Theirs was a friendship so vulnerable and transparent that God shared His secrets with him, altered His own plans based on Abraham’s wisdom, and subsequently built an entire race of chosen people from his seed (ref. Gen. 18: 20-33; Gen. 22:13-18).  I’d be remiss to leave out the friendship of God and David. A friendship so intimate that God allowed David to experience New Testament realities under the old covenant.

If these men enjoyed friendship with God marked by vulnerability, transparency, risk, passion, and revelation under an inferior covenant, what type of friendship awaits me as a New Testament believer?

All of my life I’ve had this desire to know God. I mean really know Him. What is He like? What makes Him laugh? What makes Him smile? What makes Him cry? What makes Him sad?  If heaven has a banqueting table, what does He like to eat? What’s His favorite wine? I wondered why some could draw near and others remained veiled. Is it really difficult to know Him? If there were a formula, I’d sell my soul to buy it. And yet, my very soul He already possesses.

So how do I plumb the depths of the heart of God and discover friendship for myself? By sailing the seas of grace and basking in the Son on the shores of His goodness, I’m allowed the opportunity to know Him as friend.

If Adam walked with God in the cool of the day, there’s a key in that for me. So I take walks with God, just He and I. We stroll the hills of my neighborhood together and talk and laugh. We ask each other questions and we listen. I bring the whole of me on those walks, good, bad and ugly. All of my fears, doubts and insecurities come along. My idiosyncrasies, vulnerabilities and transparencies show up too. I bring my worship, my gratitude, my hunger and my passion for they are as much a part of me as the other things and together, we walk. By the time I return to my door, my Friend has exchanged His yoke for mine. My Friend has shared His heart and I have shared mine. 

In developing my friendship with God, I am more aware of His nearness. I know that He is always with me, but I also know when He shows up in a tangible way. I no longer dine alone, go to the movies alone, read a book alone. My friend is ever present to share those experiences with me. I do have to be careful sometimes not to laugh out loud or talk aloud as I sometimes do with Him in my secret place!

And while I still don’t know His favorite wine, I’ve learned a lot about what makes Him smile, what makes Him laugh, what makes Him cry. Like any good friendship, you never reach the point of knowing. There is always discovery.

Take a walk. Climb a mountain. Dance a jig. Celebrate in song. And invite the King of Kings to come along. Don’t be one who reaches the end of your life and Father God declares to you, “I never knew you (Matthew 7:23).” Don’t pass up the opportunity for Almighty God to know you, to understand you. Take a walk and share your heart. His heart is set on friendship.

©2012  Felicia Murrell

My Kind of Place

There was once a church that was filled
with freedom and people grew in love and revelation. 

There once was a church where the people
lived with hearts connected in authentic community
and laughter was a very normal thing. 

There once was a church where there was a shared vision
and all the people knew the biggest thing they could be a
part of was living loved by Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit.
Then doing life as an expression of the overflow of
that love.

There once was a church that was free of church poop
because the people were committed to live in honor and
healthy confrontation no matter how hard that might be.  

There once was a church where the personal transformation
of the people impacted a city and changed the world.

Said church exists in the heart of the Father...on earth as it is in heaven.

#encounter #empower #engage