Refuge

Salvation ... comes from the Lord ... because they take refuge in him. (Psalm 37:39-40)

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Sample Prayer of Forgiveness


In the previous two articles, we explored the basic elements for practicing healing prayer.  Though encountering God may look different for different people, holding on to the Truth is what sets us free.   Many times our most life changing experiences with God involve some aspects of forgiveness.   
A common practice for healing prayer ministers is to use sample prayers to express elements of confession, repentance, forgiveness, and renunciation of beliefs and actions causing problems in our lives.  A weakness of relying on a sample prayer is the inability to cover all the bases for all people.  No two persons and their situations are exactly alike.  Some things in a prayer may not apply to a particular person, or some things essential or a particular person may be omitted from the prayer.  However, a strength of a sample prayer is that it can provide a foundational starting place.     
Please use the prayer below as a starting point for connecting with God in forgiveness.  This prayer was developed over time.  It is based in Scripture, and only scratches the surface in helping to apply forgiveness to daily life.  The more specific a person can be in filling in the blanks and making application, the more useful a prayer like this becomes.  

Lord Jesus, thank you for dying on the Cross and the work you completed as the sacrifice for my sin condition.  You paid the debt I owe for my wrongdoing.  You accomplished forgiveness once and for all.  I now receive the words of Psalm 32 which says, "Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered."  I wish to acknowledge, confess, and repent for any part of, and all guilt created by, the bitterness, resentment, and blame I have used to deny the hurt in my heart towards my offender(s).    Thank you too for bearing the burden of shame and setting me free. I release the shame, and receive your mercy and grace.
I let go of the things I have used to control people and circumstances to meet my expectations in ____________________  (list things as specifically as possible).   I now trust You Father God, to be strong in my weakness.  I surrender to You God, the right to  be the Judge of my offender(s) and their actions.  

Lord, I forgive  ________________  (specific person(s)) for ___________  (specific offense(s)).
By your ability (grace) Lord, I will no longer wrongly (condemningly) judge  ____________  (list persons if known, places, or organizations)  for their intentional or unintentional actions that hurt me.  I trust You to be the righteous Judge ruling with perfect justice and perfect mercy.   I give up ruminating, blaming, justifying, complaining, and all forms of denying the truth about this situation(s).   Please show me the truth about who I am as Your son (or daughter), and who you are as Father.  I choose to believe the Truth.   
Father God, where I have perceived You responsible for the pain I feel, forgive me for wrongly judging You.  Where I have falsely blamed myself, condemned myself, or hated things about myself that You created me to be, forgive me.  
Lord, heal my spirit, mind, soul, and body.   Wash me clean as I break out of the debtor's prison.  I declare myself whole, released from any torment my enemy would seek to imprison me in.  Christ has forgiven. and I choose to receive His forgiveness. Therefore, I am forgiven, and I forgive as He has forgiven.  
Amen

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Reflections on Vacation and Retreat


Have you ever planned a trip for business or ministry and then said, “While I’m there, I may as well take a few extra days and visit some sites in the area?”   Combining vacation time with business travel is common.  But what about combining vacation time with reflection time?
 What is meant by “vacation” may be different for all of us.  It may mean beach, mountains, or forests.  It may mean inclusion (with friends) or seclusion.  It may mean outdoor or indoor activities.  It may mean ocean cruise or land automobile, or so many other things.  Vacation is supposed to be “down time,”  bringing rest, relaxation, and rejuvination.  But how many times have we returned from a “vacation” only to feel like we need a vacation from our vacation.  
One solution might be a vacation for self care.  Engaging in down-time activity to give your body rest is one thing, but evaluating and discovering new ways of improving your mental, emotional, and spiritual status can take vacation to a higher level.  Especially if your job or ministry is in people helping business, the everyday wear and tear and built up stressors can be weighing much more heavily than you, or even people in closest relationship to you, can recognize.  
About 7 years ago I discovered a model of personal debriefing for Christian missionaries that has helped thousands find new vitallity and meaning for their work.  The Le Rucher model of debriefing is a guided 5 day rest, for personal reflection, sharing your story, and finding new perspectives from God. Not only for missionaries, this is a proven method of assessing events of life and ministry in a safe and supportive environment.  It is a structured progression through stressors, associated losses, adjustments, and recovery of hopes and dreams. The result is fresh vision and energy for reengagement.    
My wife and I benefited as participants in this model ourselves.  I also trained and became a certified debriefer in the model.  I now offer the debriefing as a package with a stay at our Blue Rock Bed and Breakfast.  More is described at http://bluerockbnb.com/healing/debriefing.htm .  I encourage all Christian pastors, missionaries, ministry or business leaders to consider this for making the most of your next vacation or rest  time.  These five days of debriefing is a perfect way to begin a several month sabbatical or scheduled down time.   
Sometimes people’s schedules and activities make them so wound up inside, that it takes most of their scheduled vacation time just to begin to relax.  ‘We have guided tools that will help you begin relaxing right away.
The cost of neglecting self care is much to great.  Last year was a year of many “big name” leaders falling to corruption, immorality, allegations of abuse, and even walking away from their faith.  While the circumstances may be different for each individual, the qualifications for leadership are the same.  1 Timothy 3 is often sited as a source in the Bible for qualification of Christian leadership.  Although biblical qualifications are important, we must never forget that leaders are first followers.  We are all followers of Christ.  A great book I read sometime ago is  Joseph Stowell’s Following Christ.   Becoming a transformed disciple of Christ involves  putting aside our personal agendas, and surrendering completely to God’s plan and purposes.  
So we all think we’re pretty good at that stuff, right?  After all, that’s what makes us a good leader.  That is until an unforseen temptation, trial, or drained human energy catches us off guard.  Healthy leadership requires being proactive about psychological rest, building emotional stamina, and intentional transformational renewing of the mind.  See a previous article for more on this http://authoredhersh.blogspot.com/2016/12/sailing-to-new-horizons-part-1.html .
Jesus says over and over throughout the Bible that following him means applying his teachings to our lives.  Our faith in Jesus must be demonstrated with actions in keeping with his actions.  Jesus also teaches that our actions spring from our heart.  We are not called to merely act like Jesus, but to surrender our hearts to the heavenly Father as Jesus surrendered his heart to the Father.  In my view, surrendering to God’s transformation process is the most important qualification for leadership.   An important question to be asking ourselves is, “Does the quality of my vacation time (down time, sabbatical, rest, relax time) truly replenish the reservoir of my heart, so that a potential storm ahead would not destroy me?”  
Again, an automatic “yes” answer would be tempting for most of us.  But maybe we should give this question a bit more consideration.  The beginning of a New Year is a good time to plan, not just a vacation, but a time of rest and rejuvenation.   A healthy inner being is essential for healthy leadership, relationships, and all aspects of life.
May we give similar attention to our heart condition as King David did as expressed in Psalm 139, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).  If the thought of letting God search your heart scares you, think again.  Who knows you the best?  Who loves you the most?  Who cares the most that you fulfill your God-given purpose in life?   The answers to these questions are found by reading the remainder of Psalm 139 and resting in the truth of our value in God’s sight.   
Jesus speaks, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-29; Message)
If you wish to visit us for the debriefing rest time or if I can help with other aspects of self care (heart care), please contact me.  I adhere to strict confidentiality standards, and cannot share details for people we have helped, but good reports abound,  The numbers of people are growing, and the significance of impact is growing.  God is at work, and we believe God wants leaders thriving in tip-top shape (spirit, soul, & body; 1 Thesselonians 5:23) to advance God’s  Kingdom.   Blessings for rest in Refuge.

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Healing Prayer Practice


In the previous article, we looked at some basic healing prayer principles to prepare our hearts and minds to encounter God and receive his healing power.   
The practice of healing prayer is not a religious exercise as many would be inclined to think of when hearing the word “prayer.”  It is not an exercise of willpower, nor a spiritual discipline to add to a list of good works to make one more pleasing to God.  Salvation through faith is a Gift of grace  accomplished by the work of Jesus (see Ephesians 2:8-10).   Jesus finished his work by living on the earth as a man, dying on a cross, and returning to Father through resurrection life.   His work now is in the hearts of those people who believe in him, to change them from the inside out in becoming more and more like him (Psalm 51:6, Romans 12:1-2, Colossians 1:22-23, 2 Corinthians 3:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, 1 Peter 3:4).   
This transformation process is putting the hurt and wounded pieces (discussed previously) back in order, to make us whole and complete in God’s original design.  Healing prayer is a tool to help in this transformation process.  It requires an enormous amount of self-honesty, humility, facing painful memories, and trusting God to see us through.  Healing prayer can take many forms and vary greatly from person to person.  Let’s look briefly at the following 5 basic elements.
1. Acknowledge the beliefs of our inner heart, feel the emotions they stir, and identify the specific lies believed.
2. Ask Jesus to take us to the source (of these ingrained misbeliefs (perhaps in a memory).
3. Confess belief(s) in the memory(ies), renounce their effects, and acknowledge inability to change without the help of God.
4. Ask Jesus to reveal His presence in our pain in whatever way He chooses, and receive the truth.
5. Engage Jesus' ministry of truth in the memory(ies), and respond with ongoing transformation.  
First, we start with where it hurts.  What are the specific sensations, feelings, and emotions causing pain (displeasure, discomfort, disruption) at the moment?  Avoid trying to “figure out why” at this point.  Many people start by identifying things their “inner voice” is telling them.  Examples might be “I am not important, not loved, not needed, or unfit,” “I am worthless, a mistake, a failure, or stupid,”  “I should have done something to stop the abuse from happening,”  “I am too weak, helpless, or defenseless,”  “I am bad, dirty, or shameful,”  “I am all alone and will always be alone,”  “I am incompetent, or  I can't do anything right,” “I am anxious or afraid,” or “I am not ______  enough. or I don’t have enough ____ .”   
What are the feelings driving these beliefs?  Be as specific as you can in naming the negative feelings (ie. abandoned, rejected, deserted, forgotten, left out, don’t belong, ashamed, failure, faulty, stupid, trashy, unclean, unfit, unworthy, anxious, desperate, fearful, nervous, scared, untrusting, confined, cornered, defenseless, frail, helpless, weak, damaged, flawed, ruined, betrayed, disgraced, inferior, insignificant, unappreciated, unloved, defeated, hopeless, tired, despair, disoriented, confused, or indifferent.    

The next element is to invite God into the midst of the pain.  Jesus is very qualified to identify with pain and suffering.  In fact, the Bible says there is absolutely no type of human suffering he himself has not experienced (see Hebrews 4:14-16).   Remember, Jesus is the Healer.   He knows where the source of the pain lies.  He wants to remove the bad root, not just the symtoms.   Ask him to lead you to the origin of this pain  in your life.
The next major element is acknowleging and confessing our own misperceptions, misinterpretations, misjudgments, and/ or misconduct in the event(s)  our memory(ies) lead you to.  We cannot change the past, and much of what happened  is out of our control, but we can recognize and change the way we respond to it.  For example, maybe our pain leads us to remember our perfectionist dad or mom not giving us recognition or affirmation for significant acheivements, but instead always communicating how our performance was lacking.  Yes, maybe our parents were neglectful (or even abusive) is some regard, but blaming them for our reactions will not help us now.  We must indeed admit we were hurt, and reacted negatively, and confess (speak out loud) what we thought and felt about this at the time.  The list above may help here too.  Again, focus on what it felt like in the inner most depths of your being as a child, not on what it would’a, could’a, should’a been like.   
Longings for appropriate touch, acceptance, affirmation, and belonging are normal.  When these longings are not met, it is also normal to react and believe things that are not true  (critically judge)  those people in our life who should be supplying those needs.  In the example of a perfectionist parent, our inner voice may be telling us things like “Dad doesn’t love me,” Mom is mean,” “Dad cares about my sister more than me,” “Mom doesn’t understand,” “I’ll never be able to please dad and mom,” or “They are not interested in how I feel.”   But because “normal” in this case, is sinful, we must be willing to renounce the misbeliefs and actions, and surrender these over to God in exchange for the truth.  
The next major element Is listening for what God wants to tell us.  Listening is a skill to be developed.  Our faith is often so oriented towards doing (for God), we have difficulty being in God’s presence long enough to hear (from God) what he is saying to us.  This seems so basic, but it needs attention as an element of its own because it is SO important.  This involves quieting our spirit (complete silence is preferable) and asking questions like “Jesus, what truth would you like to reveal to me?”  “What are you saying?”  “What is the truth about my parents? (in the example above)”  “Where were you Jesus when this happened?”  or “What is the truth about who I am (and whose I am)?”  
Shame is the greatest source of lies.  Blaming ourselves for things out of our control is a form of shaming ourselves.   God never condemns us.  He sometimes condemns actions (that are against his will), but God does not condemn people he created in his image.  Any voice of condemnation we hear against our identity as a child of God, is from the enemy of our soul.  Truth always affirms our identity as children of God.  
God speaks truth through his written Word, the Bible.  He also speaks truth through other means such as his creation, people, pictures, prophetic images, and imagination.  Truth always affirms God’s character as holy, righteous, all loving, and all powerful.  Regarding other people, truth is able to separate their bad behavior from who they are as a unique creation of God.  And regarding the self, truth affirms our identity as God’s child, and his unfailing love is always accessible. Simply asking and receiving his love will connect us to it.  
The last element to mention here is surrendering to the truth with our heart (not just with mental assent)  and commitment to action for soul sanctification.   Perhaps confession, repentance, and/ or forgiveness is necessary, in addition to this type of work done in previous steps.  Our hearts are made of many parts (chambers).  Some parts may have been brought into the realm of believing, while other parts have work remaining to be done.  Healing is God’s work and in his timing.  Remember, when Jesus says, the truth will set you free” (John 8:32), there is a prerequisite.  Jesus says, “if you hold to my teaching,” that is how you will know the truth (John 8:31-32).  Truth is truth.  But truth that makes a difference (sets us free) is truth that we apply.  The ongoing application of the truth of Christ’s teaching, restores us to wholeness.  Not only are spiritual and psychological conditions restored, but physical conditions such as body aches, pains and diseases can be healed as well.  
Ultimately, healing is not merely for personal benefit, but to make more intimate our relationship with God, and become a more useful servant in His Kingdom.  The practice of healing prayer can become a habit that produces a lifestyle of godly character.  Journaling is a great way to record progress, and provide a way to look back and observe measureable improvements.  Writing can also have great therapeutic value.  
Some parts of our heart can be more resistant than others to healing prayer intervention.  Severe trauma or abuse may complicate the process.  Evil spirits can create another layer of bondage.  Family history can also be a factor.  It may be wise to attain the help of an experienced healing prayer warrior or counselor to guide steps in the journey.  When practicing the steps above, a feeling of unusual fear, anxiety, or overwhelm should be cause for halting the practice and seeking help right away.  
Leaders should be leading in regularly practicing the transforming power of healing prayer.  I recommend all leaders practice healing prayer with a competent practitioner on a regular basis to guard against blind spots and areas of unawareness the enemy of our soul tries to exploit.  People helpers can only help people overcome to the degree they themselves have experienced the overcoming healing prayer.  Charasmatic gifting and people skills are not a healthy subsitute for the deep heart work of inner healing prayer.  
In my own life, I am so thankful to the Sandfords and others from whom I have learned much over the past two decades.  I have found the practice of healing prayer invaluable in removing shame, false guilt, powerlessness, anxiety, depression, and so many more unwanted thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.  I haven’t arrived at complete wholeness, but my hope is secure in trusting God for transformation in his timing, without needing to understand all the details.  When I practice healing prayer, my heart is at rest in Refuge (see Matthew 11:28-29).  Please contact me if you wish for more help in making healing prayer a more significant part of life.  

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry