- Written by Callie Neff
Psalm 86:5 (CJB)
5 Adonai, you are kind and forgiving,
full of grace toward all who call on you.
Jonah 4:1-2 (CJB)
4 But this was very displeasing to Yonah, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to Adonai, “Now, Adonai, didn’t I say this would happen, when I was still in my own country? That’s why I tried to get away to Tarshish ahead of time! I knew you were a God who is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in grace, and that you relent from inflicting punishment.
As we walk with others do we have the heart of Jonah? Even as we bring a message of forgiveness only limited by the receivers choice to cry out, to heed the warning, to change their course....Do we realize this applies not only to the one hurting in front of us...but extends to every perpetrator, every abuser, every one who has participated in their hurt? Do we consider this as we teach the principles of forgiveness and walk it out in our day to day lives. Do we consider that as Adonai is willing to forgive you He extends this same grace and mercy to all men, at all time and if they choose to turn they too can know this grace and forgiveness.
I was with a young woman walking through the princples of forgiveness struggling at this point. She played out all the scenarios of what forgiving her abuser would mean...releasing the debt, releasing the offense, releasing the judgement, relasing the right to the anger and holding the other accountable...trusting a Good, Just and Loving God to see Justice done...How can that be if there is a remote possibility that this same offer can be extended and granted to the one who caused so much pain? There is a risk in shifting the blame and being released from holding the other accountable. If I do not hold them accountable, if I do not pass judgement, if....then who will and where is the justice in that? Forgiveness is not the same as restored relationship but it is a prerequisite for walking in freedom.
Helping another unwrap and unravel the heart of the matter is trying and pressing and not always an easy path. Just as this young woman has to wrestle and seek the Lord on this matter for herself I too need to do a heart check. If I am going to spread a message of grace, compassion and mercy does it truly extend to "all"? Am I willing to forgive with open hands and open heart
May the Lord grow in us a heart of compassion that extends beyond our limited grace and mercy! May we be able to pray for those who have wronged us and release them from their debt!
May we carry this message of mercy and compassion into these hard places!
- Written by Callie Neff
Psalm 121 (CJB)
121 (0) A song of ascents:
(1) If I raise my eyes to the hills,
from where will my help come?
2 My help comes from Adonai,
the maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip —
your guardian is not asleep.
4 No, the guardian of Isra’el
never slumbers or sleeps.
5 Adonai is your guardian; at your right hand
Adonai provides you with shade —
6 the sun can’t strike you during the day
or even the moon at night.
7 Adonai will guard you against all harm;
he will guard your life.
8 Adonai will guard your coming and going
from now on and forever.
The past months as I have journeyed into the world of restoration housing for women coming out of sex trafficking and left "base camp" to make the climb with a newly forming team and the clients coming to us for support it has been hard work. In recent weeks I felt like our team had reached it's first pinnacle: communication in place, a client well served moving on and a new client added to the home. One night as I went to bed it was as if I looked up to see where we had come from but caught a glimpse of the mountain range ahead. [Unending need, unending work, limited time, limited workers, sensing a coming storm]
It was an overwhelming moment, knowing and understanding the lose and sacrifice that had come to this point and the hard work and time it would take to keep going. Each client, each team member takes an investment and a piece of me and sometimes counting the cost it can seem too high a price. The truth is however, that I love mountain climbing. My husband reminded me of that and that is partly why I do what I do. It is not a marathon, it is not a race, it is not a sprint...it is a journey that takes you on ascents and descents, that you need others to accomplish especially when your journey is equivalent to hiking the Appalachian trail or Pacific Northwest...trails I have dreamed of facing.
There is a preparation stage...what to pack, what to wear, marking the trail and the stops, adjusting for the needs of those you are traveling with...times you stay longer in camp, times you extend your days hike. You do not often see how far you are going or realize how far you have come. You take one day, one step at a time. You gain strength on the journey and wise hikers start in the low hills before getting to the more steep ascents that require extra equipment, extra muscle and the adjustment to the environment. This is my life...this is each day walking with those the Lord has sent us to serve and with those serving with me.
There are those moments when you look out and you catch a glimpse of the next mountain and perhaps those with you are far enough behind or ahead it feels like you are alone, but always, in all moments Adonai is with you. His promises are definitive and eternal. He provides and proves a willing and able guide. He is the expert mountaineer and He will guard your coming and going from now on and forever.
May you lift your eyes and see the Lord! May your courage not fail as you catch a glimpse of the mountain ahead!
May you know the promises of the Lord's protection and move forward with new resolve!
- Written by Callie Neff
He must become more important, while I become less important.
In every area of my life I seem to find something to make more important than Jesus...the unfinished project around the house, the unfinished conversation at work, the need to be right, my appearance, my failings, my weakness, my eating, my drinking, my being clothed...
Every day I go into a home to walk alongside of young women from very broken and hurt places; where they were used to meet the needs of others making them less important and where they learned the lessons of mistrust, selfish behavior and a me centered perspective. Each day I have to put aside the unfinished, the imperfect, the need to be heard and to be right,...to hear them, to give place for their voice, to live out "becoming less important" to make room for the voice of the Lord. To emulate loving and living as Jesus...
There is a delicate balance when learning how to live this way and practice "self care"...In reality the more important He becomes...the paths He leads me on will meet my needs and lead me into continual, quiet fellowship with His Spirit that will strengthen, settle and work to perfect me in the fruit of His Spirit. I do not have to fear crossing boundaries that will destroy my mind and heart because as He increases and I decrease the full armour is activated. My mind is guarded by His salavation (I no longer have to work to be right), I can cancel out lies with His truth ( I do not have to accept being driven by anxiety, fear and worry), I can go into the heart of the matter with His word ( I will have the words in all situations for the women, the staff, my family), I am protected behind faith in His ability to protect me (I do not have to be confident in myself, only in the Lord Jesus), Ephesians 6:10-18....I have access to, and can learn to use the full armor I have been given as I place more importance on being a daughter of the King than any earthly role I am in.
May we know that we are sons and daughters who are no longer bound by limits and defining factors placed on us by others!we walk as those who are loved and valued and able to serve without fear of being destroyed! May we put more value into seeing Him increase trusting that our need will be met!
Matthew 6:32-34 (CEV)
32 Only people who don’t know God are always worrying about such things. Your Father in heaven knows that you need all of these. 33 But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.
34 Don’t worry about tomorrow. It will take care of itself. You have enough to worry about today.
- Written by Callie Neff
2 Corinthians 7:1-7 (CJB)
7 Therefore, my dear friends, since we have these promises, let us purify ourselves from everything that can defile either body or spirit, and strive to be completely holy, out of reverence for God.
2 Make room for us in your hearts — we haven’t wronged anyone, we haven’t corrupted anyone, we haven’t exploited anyone. 3 I am not saying this to put blame on you, for I have already said that you have a place in our hearts, whether we live together or die together; 4 that I am very confident in you; that I am very proud of you; that you have filled me with encouragement; and that in spite of all our troubles, I am overflowing with joy.
5 For indeed when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest. On the contrary, we faced all kinds of troubles — altercations without, apprehensions within. 6 But God, who encourages the downhearted, encouraged us with the arrival of Titus! 7 However, it was not only his arrival which encouraged us, but also how encouraged he was about you, as he told us how you long to see me, how distressed you are over my situation, how zealous you are in my defense — this news made me even happier!
The reality of the day to day that makes up the work of restoration housing...is the ongoing experience of "altercations without, apprehensions within". Ironically most times those altercations come from those working with us, those making up the team of care [board, donors, volunteers, staff] and the apprehensions within from self-doubt, misplaced focus, unresolved personal hurt, personal agenda and need for control. People, however, those we are working to serve and those working together to serve are in fact messy, unpredictable and responsible to the Lord individually.
Our Father knows this...He knows our limitations and short comings. He sets before us missions of love that can seem daunting especially when it feels all we do is fight, however, just as in 2 Corinthians 7 He never fails to encourage. He gives us grace to walk through the messy and the hurts...He calls us to face our internal condition and to put aside our need for control to take our eyes off of the messy, daunting, seemingly overwhelming and to serve as unto the Lord. He puts before us each day the question " whom this day will you serve?"
When we come with our eyes fixed on our Master (and we can only truly serve one) then the overflow will be love, grace, and room for the messy, the hurt, and ultimatly trust this trusting faithfullness will make the way through all altercations and apprehensions.
May you serve today as unto the Lord taking your eyes off the messy, the hurt, the uncontrollable! May your trusting faithfullness grow and push aside your doubt and fear! May you be willing to allow the Lord to purify you to grow you into a faithful, loving, and teachable servant!
Colossians 3:23-25 (CJB)
23 Whatever work you do, put yourself into it, as those who are serving not merely other people, but the Lord. 24 Remember that as your reward, you will receive the inheritance from the Lord. You are slaving for the Lord, for the Messiah. 25 Don’t worry — whoever is doing wrong will be paid in kind for his wrong, and there is no favoritism shown.
- Written by Callie Neff
1 Peter 2:16 (CJB)
16 Submit as people who are free, but not letting your freedom serve as an excuse for evil; rather, submit as God’s slaves.
Definition of submit
b : to permit oneself to be subjected to something
- had to submit to surgery: to defer to or consent to abide by the opinion or authority of another