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

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Blindness Does Not Destroy Vision

Last month I answered the following "call" from
            "UNBROKEN, in theaters Christmas Day, is the most inspirational and faith-revitalizing film you'll see all year. And now Universal Pictures and director Angelina Jolie are giving you and your audience the chance to be part of this epic event by sharing your story of resilience, triumph and the power of God to deliver us from our trials.
            The studio has launched the #IAmUnbroken campaign in conjunction with the film that celebrates Louis Zamperinis unbroken spirit by inviting people from all walks of life to share their inspiring stories. Participants are encouraged to use hashtag #IAmUnbroken when submitting and sharing their story on their own social channels in order to generate awareness."

My story follows:
            Becoming blind ranks at the top of the list of things people fear the most.  I had no way of being aware of that fact when I was born legally blind because of broken optic nerves.  I'm sure my parents had some fears when they discovered I couldn't see like other children my age. However, I grew up on a farm and I pitched in with all the chores for a healthy work ethic to learn unbrokenness.  Unbrokenly confident in my abilities, it was other peoples' brokenness  that kept me from fitting in socially and vocationally.  I couldn't compete well in sports.  I couldn't get a driver's license and at age 16 get a car to impress the girls and dream of having a family and life companion. 
            But after questioning God in my teen years and wondering why he didn't heal my eyes, I started discovering how much of a loving Father God, He REALLY is.  My life turned around when I was in college.   I found a sweetheart for a wife.   We raised four children together, and now the grandchildren are starting to come. 
            I was unbroken in my quest for employment.  The government declared me disabled and unemployable.  I suffered my share of injustice through job denials, unfair performance expectations, and job promotion refusals. However, I made a career of software development for 17 years.  After a graduate degree in counseling, I transitioned into pastoral ministry.  My wife and I started a bed and breakfast business we still operate today.  I went on for a doctorate degree, authored a book, and serve numerous churches and organizations in Christian ministry.
            God has blessed me incredibly.  I'm occasionally tempted to fall back into the brokenness of depression and anxiety I once allowed to influence my life.  I've come to realize everyone is broken in  some way, but God always offers a way through the brokenness.  As a trained and experienced counselor God now gives me the privilege of helping other  people overcome their brokenness.  My severe eyesight limitations have turned my heart to God in ways not possible otherwise.  By his creative fashioning, I have become a more useful tool in the Master's hand.
            My Name Is Ed Hersh and I Am Unbroken

I also submitted a song with my story and posted it to
The song is inspired from verses in John chapter 14 where Jesus talks about Father God building a house for his people to live in.  Our physical body, or "house" while living on earth, is superceded by a spiritual house for our being to dwell in the presence of God.  We do not have to wait for heaven to experience this "house," but can enjoy deeper personal relationship with Father God while existing on earth.  Come on in to His House today!   Jesus is the Way;  Father's House is the destination! 

I would love to hear your story.  We can connect through Linkedin, Google Plus,  Facebook, Skype, telephone, or in person.  I would also love to share with you more of the details of God's wondrous works in my life.  I would welcome the opportunity to share with your team or group some of my secrets for remaining unbroken in a broken world. 

Where to discover more:

Blue Rock Bed and Breakfast - lodging and hospitality in Lancaster, PA;  

Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry - To visit Ed for counseling, book as a speaker, inquire about training your team for inner person health, arrange a retreat for team, marriage, personal, growth and enrichment

Read a copy of Ed's book called Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart

Be inspired and equipped by more articles at Ed's Refuge blog -

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pass the Spinach

             So, forgiveness is a little bit like eating your spinach.  Most people know it's extremely healthy, but very few actually do it.  What is it about the fundamental truth of forgiveness that eludes even the most seasoned leaders of businesses, organizations, and churches? 
            I believe one of the most significant ways to improve your life is to grow in your understanding and practice of forgiveness.  
            Okay, so we live in a broken world.  Life has its disappointments.  We need to deal with them, and just "let it go and move on," right?  Well ...  Too often this is an excuse for sweeping things under the rug.  If you don't take time to identify your failed expectations and  "own" your critical judgments, there's nothing to let go of, and nothing to move on TO. 
            All of us have things happen that create offense and pain.  Maybe you went out of your way to help someone, only to have them turn on you.  Maybe you get dropped unexpectedly in a job or relationship.  Someone at work, church, or home makes you feel abandoned, rejected, incompetent, afraid, or mistreated in some way. 
So how do we keep from letting these sorts of things snag us in the trap of bitterness and resentment?  We know forgiveness is the answer, but why do we keep trying so many other options before we give forgiveness a chance to work?
            Well, let's just be honest.  Lack of forgiveness is about CONTROL.  Every person alive is a so-called "control freak."  Going back to the first man and woman on earth, Adam and Eve, the demand to decide for ourselves, right from wrong, is built in to our DNA.   When someone does something we don't like, we claim the right to decide whether it's right or wrong.  So, when things don't go our way, we feel anger, fear, or shame  because we feel loss of control.  This happens so automatically, we often don't realize it.
            You see, God's original design for mankind, did NOT include this need to know.  It was OUR choice, and now each person faces a dilemma.  We can't blame God, our parents, or the one who offended us for the way we feel.  WE must own the disappointment, dissatisfactions, discomforts, and failed expectations.
With anger, for example, feeling frustrated, annoyed, upset, vengeful etc. are very normal.  However, these are surface feelings.  Anger is merely a symptom.  It's not the root issue.  Feeling upset or frustrated means there is something hidden under the rug. 
            The way I define forgiveness is this: "surrendering to God the right to judge."   Yes, surrendering control to God takes the burden of judgment off me, and puts it back where it belongs.  In the original design of mankind, as explained in Genesis, the Creator was the sole judge of good and evil.  God intended men and women to eat from "the tree of life," and not from "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."   Through every generation since the original sin, our rebellion against Creator's design keeps us from knowing our loving Father as  He wants to be known.  He wants us to know Him as his sons (or daughters) who look to him for their identity, protection and provision.  Eating from the wrong "tree"  messes up this relationship, but we CAN choose to eat from the "tree of life."
            Surrendering our heart to God is a lot like eating our spinach.  We know it's the right, life-giving thing to do, but we usually find something else to eat instead.  We come up with some way to cope that doesn't involve facing our pain.  This may be something as benign as over eating, or it may be forming an addictive habit using alcohol, drugs, pornography, or working too much.  In my opinion, all destructive behaviors are rooted, at least in some degree, to an issue of unforgiveness. 
            In order to change undesirable behaviors, the most lasting results will come as a result of experiencing true forgiveness.  It's more than willpower and making decisions.  It's about surrendering decisions to God.  It's about yielding your heart  for HIM to change.  Forgiveness was first God's idea.  Christians believe Jesus accomplished forgiveness.  It's not about OUR work, but surrendering to the work that's already been done through Christ's death and resurrection.  Christ is our pain bearer.  Christ died to forgive us our sins, and he also heals our pain if we let him access it.  The prophet Isaiah (chapter 53) describes Messiah as the one who carries our pain.   In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus says of himself, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-29).
            For Christ to carry your pain, you must be willing to surrender it.  It's okay to admit unmet expectations.  It's okay to feel loss.  It's okay to grieve.  It's okay to let God make you a better person through forgiveness.  Practice the 3 R's.  R-remember what Christ has done for you.  R-repent for not surrendering to him.  R-release the offense to him for his judgment. 
            I'd like to leave you with a few questions to ponder:
Will you be among the few who REALLY surrender to God the right to judge?
What keeps you from surrendering?
Where might you be holding anger, fear, or shame you're not aware of?
How do you try to get rid of it?
Is your God big enough to take care of it?
Is there some other "burden" that you would be willing to let Jesus carry for you?
            Ask God today to help you.  His help is available for the asking.  If that feels like too big a step right now, reach out to a trusted Christian friend, or give us a call for help. 
            I've spent years researching this topic, and each day that goes by I learn more about forgiving offenses, both as an offender and an offended person.  I share many more themes about forgiving and healing at this blog site.  By the way, I wrote a book called Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart.  I include a study guide to help you process the information.  I also include resources like sample prayers.   I try to make myself available if you want me to come and speak to your group.  Whether you read my book, or someone else's, learn all you can about forgiveness and practice it more than you eat spinach!
by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Psalm 73 Healing Word

             "But as for me, it is good to be near God.  I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;  I will tell of all your deeds" (Psalm 73:28).  This is the final verse of the Psalm and a good place to begin this article.  When a person tastes of God as refuge, there is no sweeter place of peace to be found.  So sweet in fact, the story must be told. 
            There is not enough space to quote it here, but before continuing, please read Psalm 73 in its entirety.  We are told Asaph is the writer.  He begins the Psalm with a verse that acknowledges the value of a transparent heart before God.  In the next nine verses, he observes the violence and acts of terrorism conducted by people who have no regard for God and the value of human life.  In verses 10-14 he seems overcome with thinking how these evil people seem to prosper better than people like himself who are trying with all their heart to follow God.  He recognizes his erroneous thinking in verses 15-20, and in verses 21-24 he looks deeper into his own heart condition.  Verses 25-28 tell how he allows the blessing of God to sweep through his being and become a transformed person. 
            It is a common experience for a follower of Christ to get "weary in well doing" when desires for more of God and efforts to make positive changes seem to be going nowhere.  The Message translates the Psalmist's words like this:
"When I was beleaguered and bitter,
    totally consumed by envy,
I was totally ignorant, a dumb ox
    in your very presence.
I’m still in your presence,
    but you’ve taken my hand.
You wisely and tenderly lead me,
    and then you bless me" (v21-14).
Sometimes it's not even the wicked that embitter our hearts.  We look around and see people seemingly more successful in areas in which we would like to be more prosperous, and we react like a "dumb ox."  We lose sight of the meaning of success.  This week I came across this quote, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts" (Winston Churchill).  When we get stuck, we must take our embittered heart to God and allow Him to change it into a blessed heart. 
Our most significant actions are courageous and  consistent steps toward God.  God can make a way even where there is no way. 
            Sometimes it is God himself with whom we become angry.  When bad things happen that cannot be blamed on a specific person, such as natural disaster, car accident, or chronic health problem, the blame often goes toward God.  That is the case in my own life.  At birth my optic nerves were both damaged to the extent of legal blindness.  My lack of eyesight did not allow me to obtain a driver's license or play competitive sports like other kids my age.  Particularly as a teen being "different"  was not cool, and it created anxiety and even suicidal thinking.  Raised in a Christian home, I was prayed for many times for the healing of my eyes.  I struggled with many questions like "if God has the power to heal, why doesn't he give me 20/20 vision?"   I formed critical judgments against God for not doing something about the miserable conditions a serious vision limitation creates in a person's life.  Many situations were compounded by other peoples' misunderstandings, judgments, and false assumptions about "disability" and what is needed to overcome.
            It was first in 1998 that I encountered a model of healing that identified false beliefs and dealt with negative feelings to allow God's power to transform my life.  Although I became a Christian at a young age, I lived many years spiritually blinded to the deeper intimacy with Father God available for the asking.  My spiritual vision was blocked by the lies I believed about God, myself, and other people.  I believed lies such as "There must be something wrong with me," "I really am damaged," "I am worthless," "I will never be good enough," "I will never be known or appreciated for my real self," "Others will always take advantage of me," "God loves other people more than he loves me," "I'm unlovable, so I'll never know true love," "God has let me down," and on and on go the lies.   These lies left me feeling abandoned, rejected, left out, ashamed, unworthy, incompetent, anxious, untrusting, powerless, weak, flawed, inferior, insignificant, unappreciated, hopeless, defeated, depressed, and confused. These are "normal" human reactions, but until I was ready to allow God to show me the deeper problems in my heart, all my good Christian performance was not enough to break through.
            By receiving God's deeper healing touch, I began exchanging the lies for the truth that God loves me no matter what and it doesn't really matter what other people think of me when I am secure in God's love.  Believing the truth changes how I feel also.  I feel accepted, loved, and secure in where I'm headed. Although I may never have it ALL worked out, I praise God that I have Him as a refuge like the Psalmist )quoted above) to run to when the times get tough.  My behaviors changed as well.  For example, my wife began noticing that I was less "controlling" of her in our marriage.  I was less demanding because I didn't feel I had to limit or avoid certain behaviors of hers to keep myself from being hurt.  I was freed to love her more, and give her more freedom to be who she is.  The same dynamic is true with family, co-workers, customers, authority figures, and other people in my life.
            The Psalmist recognized what really counts is not his good performance in comparison to other people (who do evil; or even good), but it is about his heart condition before God.  "When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered,  I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you" (Psalm 73:21-22; NIV).  He was willing to let God change the "brute beast" part of his heart.  Whether we like to admit it or not, each of us has that part going on. In order to identify the "brute beast," it helps to change the question we ask ourselves.  Instead of asking if I am a "brute beast," I should ask where are my thoughts, feelings, and actions like a "brute beast?  If we ask ourselves, "Am I like those people described in verses 4-12 of Psalm 73?", we would probably answer "no."  But if we can be honest with ourselves and dare to ask God to show us what is truly in our heart, we can become free of the bitter roots that grow into that kind of behavior (see Hebrews 12:15). 
            Focusing on not just changing behavior, but changing from the inside out produces lasting results.  Asking God not just for healing of physical conditions but healing of the inner person is of greater significance.  In my case, seeking healing of physical eyesight is of less value than the healing of the eyes of my heart.  The physical body is a temporal existence, but yielding my heart in sweet surrender agrees with the Psalmist's conclusion, "But as for me, it is good to be near God" (Psalm 73:28).  God has answered my prayer for a miracle of sight.  Healing the eyes of my heart is a greater miracle than healing my physical eyesight.  That's the way I SEE it anyway! <smile>
            I am grateful for the path of healing God has granted me.  Though educated at a doctoral level, it is really my background and experiences that qualify me most to counsel, teach, and speak on topics of inner person change and finding freedom in Christ.  My approach to counseling ministry incorporates the inner healing models I have studied and continue to live out in my growing relationship with God.  I have authored a book called Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart which discusses the topic of forgiveness as the core of surrendering to God's refuge and finding freedom.
             Finally, let me encourage you to go with God on this healing journey the Psalmist, many others, and I have gone.  Your family, business partners, church or ministry staff, and others with whom God has purposed for you to share His love, will all thank you!  Are you struggling with negative thoughts and feelings like those described above?  If you are finding it difficult to get rid of nagging thoughts, put bad feelings to rest, or quit an undesirable habit, you may need to take some drastic steps toward God and HIS power to change.  Don't put it off any longer.  If you need help with this process and it's difficult to find someone in your area, we host people at our Blue Rock Bed and Breakfast who come for ministry and/or vacation time.  We would welcome the opportunity to see you.  See more at .
           "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Psalm 73:26).
 by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Train Your Brain to Crave Health

            In a pilot study published last week in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes, scientists say that changing your eating behavior can actually change how your brain reacts to high-calorie and low-calorie foods.  It may be possible to rewire your brain so that it wants -- even craves, healthier foods.  How?  Through the discipline of a healthy diet.  The research suggests that you may be able to convince your brain that healthy foods taste better than unhealthy ones.
            The study used MRI brain scans to test overweight and obese people in two groups.   The scans revealed that the people in the weight-loss program had changes in areas of the brain reward center involved in learning and addiction.  Specifically, this area showed increased sensitivity to healthy, low-calorie foods and decreased sensitivity to higher-calorie foods.
            For many looking for lasting freedom from the severe problems caused by excess body weight, this study provides hope.  The American Journal of Medicine recently reported 35% of the adult population is obese.   Excess weight, especially obesity, diminishes almost every aspect of health, from reproductive and respiratory function to memory and mood. Obesity increases the risk of several debilitating, and deadly diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. It does this through a variety of pathways, some as straightforward as the mechanical stress of carrying extra pounds and some involving complex changes in hormones and metabolism. Obesity decreases the quality and length of life.  The good news, however, is that weight loss is the surest way to curtail and stop the obesity-related  symptoms above, and reduce the individual, national, and global healthcare costs.
            When I read about this study I couldn't help myself make a spiritual correlation.  Because of poor eating habits, a physical body manifests obesity.  Similarly, the non-physical part of a person's being is also damaged when mental, emotional, and spiritual garbage destroys one's inner person.  Our inner being (the most real part of who we are) must be fed just like our physical being in order to survive.  It needs and craves a healthy diet of inspiration, encouragement, and affirmation.  It is also true that in order to thrive (not just survive), what we feed our spirit and soul can influence (and be influenced by) the types of experiences we choose to feed on. 
            As a Christian counselor, it is amazing to me, the number of people who do not make the connection between their lack of time spent with God, and their feeling distanced from Him.  Then, estranged from God, problems in life are amplified.  Spending time with God is like spending time with a human being.  The Bible is filled with examples of people who consider God a person and relate to Him that way.  It is very simple.  To get to know someone, you must spend time with him.  To be influenced, built up, and fed by God, you must spend time in His company.   Many are aware of this need, but what keeps them from spending time in God's presence?   They crave lesser important things than God.    
            Many people who claim that God is a priority in their lives, do not take the steps necessary to make sure He remains a priority.  They allow distractions to steal the nourishment God wants to provide them.  Movies, video games, shopping, "hanging out," so-called social media, or even seemingly more productive things like work and church activities, all must take second place to intentional and consistent "secret place" time with God.  The problems creep in their busyness because they place too much weight on the importance of other things instead of God.  This misplaced weight creates an "over weight" condition of their heart.  It's like settling for a "sugar diet" over vegetables and protein needed for steady growth. 
            This condition is very common.  Sometimes it drives a person to dysfunction.  Even if dysfunctional behavior can be avoided, at the very least, an existence of mediocrity is often the result.  So can a person train the brain to crave more of God? 
            A steady healthy diet of cultivating deeper intimacy with God can change a person's thinking and feeling patterns.  This healthy diet takes discipline.  Training is about discipline.  Discipline is the key ingredient for a recipe of mental, emotional, and spiritual health.  The wisdom of the Proverbs speak much about discipline.  Here are two pointed examples.  "Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid" (Proverbs 12:1).  The second states, "Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding" (Proverbs 15:32).  Some say, "I'm not a disciplined person," as if that should justify their undisciplined behavior. These verses are very clear.  No healthy outcomes are achieved, and no excess fat gets trimmed, without discipline.  To be a disciple requires discipline.  The deeper you go in discipleship, the more disciplined a disciple you become.   The more you experience God, the more of God you want to experience.   The more healing you experience in your mind and heart, the more healing you want to pursue. 
            With a busy lifestyle, another common excuse for failing to practice spiritual disciplines  is time.  By saying, "I don't have time for ...," you're really saying, "I'm not willing to make time for..."  Time is never the real issue.  Make time for God--He's the only one who's big enough to make time work for you.  By craving more of God, He can change your cravings for more disciplined use of time.
            It also amazes me the extent to which people try to justify bad behavior.  Things they know are wrong they continue to do anyway.  Sin is sin.  Wanting your own way over God's is rebellion.  Rebellion is sin.  For example, living an immoral lifestyle or toying with a secret behavior until you get caught or called out, is not living worthy of the calling of a disciple of Christ freed from sin.  Another Proverb exhorts us to disciplined intention towards righteous living.  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6).  When you live in truth, you empower the truth and your appetite for truth increases.  When  you live in falsehood, you empower falsehood and your appetite for falsehood increases.
            Some may say, "I've already tried changing. It hasn't worked, and I feel worse off than ever."   I would answer as follows.  A disciplined person never gives up.  You may have to find a different way to do something, but try and "try, again" will pull you forward.  You  must be determined to fail forward (see John Maxwell's book called Failing Forward).  A setback is not evidence of a lack of progress.  It's just a setback.  Setbacks are normal.  As long as you're making forward steps after the one backwards, you can call that progress.  As long as you keep choosing the discipline to step forward, your forward progress will eventually make it easier to choose (and yes, even crave) the disciplined and healthier life. 
            Several months ago my wife and I were introduced to the Nutribullet.  We have been faithfully including a healthy shake made of vegetables and fruits carefully selected for their nutritional value.  The first time I tasted one of these shakes, I was not impressed.   But with each passing day it became more tolerable to the point now where I feel the deficiency when we miss a shake for the day.   I can truthfully say that my body is craving the nutrients has caused me to crave the taste of the shake.  I didn't need a scientific study to show me how this works, but I can add my testimonial to the study's validity.
            I can also speak to the benefit of spiritual disciplines.  I do not watch TV or movies and I do not have a smart phone.   I'm not saying these things are "wrong" for everyone,  but I believe my life is more interesting without them.  Better than it's ever been is my relationship with Father, fellowship with Jesus, and ability to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit.  My hope is for you to know God in the way He designed for you to know Him.  I continue to seek that goal for myself, but based on my experience already, I can assure you, it works!

                Note:   The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses themes of dealing with disappointments, offense and finding freedom in forgiveness.  This book is designed to help people (especially in the Christian faith)  to discover and dislodge things in life that lead to defeat. Don't miss out on your chance to use this book as a helpful tool in discovering Refuge in Christ. It can be purchased by clicking here: . If you get anywhere near Pennsylvania for vacation or on business, be sure to look us up for lodging at 

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Parabolic Soil

            Jesus taught in parables.  The Gospel of Mark (chapter 4) contains a teaching that reveals much about the heart condition of mankind. 
            "He began to teach again by the sea. And such a very large crowd gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole crowd was by the sea on the land.  And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching,  “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow;  as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up.  Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil.  And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.  Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop.  Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”  And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”  (Mark 4:1-10).  
            If you don't get it on the first reading, that's okay.  Read it again.  Even his closest disciples had to have him explain it further a few verses later.  Leaving the expanded explanation in the Bible for you to read on your own, let me offer a few tidbits here.  
            For years I only understood this parable to describe an initial conversion experience as a response to the message of God's grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  That interpretation is certain, and I also believe this parable applies to everyday situations and ongoing followership of Christ. 
            The seed represents God's message to a person and the soil is a person's response.              
            There are four basic types of receptivity to what God speaks to humankind.  The first can be described as distraction.  When a person is too busy, or too pre-occupied with so-called important things, the Creator's master design has no place of value in a person's life.  An example of this might be when a person develops a preventable health problem, but tries to ignore the symptoms and avoids the simplest of adjustments to correct (ie. diet to consume less salt to lower blood pressure). The laws of nature apply to all persons, for all times, in all places.  Pain is sometimes a message to encourage a change for improving health.   
            The second type of response gives a message from God some value initially, but then old behaviors and habits override the new message.  The soil may be hard or contains rocks that do not allow roots to take hold.  The soil does not contain supporting nutrients to grow a healthy plant.  An example of this might be a person is excited enough about a particular diet to lose weight by working it a few months, and then gain the weight back after losing interest. 
            The third type of soil contain too many competing messages.  The good seed is valued and begins to grow, but competing pursuits become weeds and thorns that overtake the healthy plant.  Negative messages crowd out the positive messages and the soil can no longer support a healthy plant.  An example might be a person who overcomes an addiction to alcohol only to start drinking again because of the bad influence of a friend or an additional stressor entered his life.  A job, relationship, hobby, or even a good cause can steer your life out of balance and rob you of energy and focus. 
             Fourthly, the soil produces a good crop.  The plant flourishes and yields the kind of fruit it was designed to produce.  It provides abundance of enjoyment and provision for pro-creative seeds for replanting.  For example, a person who is using his time and talent for abundance in his own life and family, and also to help others improve their quality of life as well.
            Jesus taught in parables to reveal the heart condition because he knew mere knowledge of the truth is not enough.  A person must engage both the mind and heart in order for transformation of behavior. When Jesus explains this parable further in verses 11-12 of Mark chapter 4, He quotes the prophet Isaiah saying, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’” (Isaiah 6:9-10).  Forgiveness and healing come through receiving with gratitude the message from God and applying it in practice. Hearing sounds and seeing sights are merely sensory seeds that must be processed through the soil of the heart. 
            Which type of soil are you?  Are you the one type of soil in some circumstances and another type at other times?  Do you think you hear certain kinds of messages better than others?  What messages are easiest for you to hear?  What are  the hardest?   These may be difficult questions to answer, but trying to answer questions like these may help you discern the condition of your heart.  Why is the condition of your heart important?  One reason is given in an ancient Proverb, "Above all else, guard your heart,  for everything you do flows from it" (Proverbs 4:23).  Without good soil, a seed does not sink below the earth's crust, cannot take root with space to grow, cannot survive the crowding of the weeds, and simply will not produce a crop.  But if the soil is cared for with plowing, watering, and cultivating, an abundant harvest is the reward.  Plowing, watering, and cultivating may be likened to softening of your heart in areas of harness.  Watering may involve feeding your spirit inspirational content of faith and hope.  Cultivating is intentionally "weeding out" negative influences and turning away from activities that lead down a destructive path.  
            May I encourage you to make the effort to ensure your heart is the soil prepared for abundance.

                Note:   The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses themes of dealing with disappointments, offense and finding freedom in forgiveness.  This book is designed to help people (especially in the Christian faith)  to discover and dislodge things in life that lead to defeat. Don't miss out on your chance to use this book as a helpful tool in discovering Refuge in Christ. It can be purchased by clicking here: . If you get anywhere near Pennsylvania for vacation or on business, be sure to look us up for lodging at 
by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Forgiving to Health

             Is a person's physical and mental health linked to emotional health?   Is it possible that your frequent head aches, joint pain, trouble sleeping or eating, depression, anxiety, or similar symptoms have an unhealthy emotional root connected somewhere to the cause?  The likelyhood is very real, and even more chronic conditions like cancer are often linked to unforgiveness.
            Anger, when turned to bitterness, hatred, resentment or rage, is very destructive to the human body.  Holding grudges, rehearsing retaliatory speeches in your mind, and ruminating (dwelling on negative consequences of hurt and mistreatment) create harmful stress that the human body is not designed to tolerate.  Research has shown the link between harboring negative feelings and a breakdown of mind and body.  This topic is addressed in a recent book called The Forgiveness Project by Michael Barry and is subtitled, the Startling Discovery of How to Overcome Cancer, Find Health, and Achieve Peace.  Here is the back cover description:  "Internalizing anger is destructive to our spiritual health and can destroy families, marriages, and even churches. But what about our physical health? Is there a relationship between a spirit of unforgiveness and disease? Between forgiveness and healing?  After extensive medical, theological, and sociological research at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), author and pastor Michael Barry made a startling discovery: the immune system and forgiveness are very much connected. Through the inspiring stories of five cancer patients, Barry helps you identify-and overcome-the barriers that prevent healing and peace. See how a breast cancer patient named Jayne experienced spiritual and physical renewal when she learned to forgive. Meet Rich whose surprise cancer diagnosis led him to forgive his cousin. Be inspired by Sharon's story of spontaneous remission. With each true account comes proven strategies, tested and used by CTCA, that you can implement to find peace with your past, relief from hatefulness, and hope for healing."
            Unforgiveness does not create disease, but it certainly fuels the condition(s) for disease to take hold.  In his book Barry reports Robert Ader, at the University of Rochester Medical Center as saying, "psychological experiences, such as stress and anxiety, can influence immune function, which in turn may have an effect on disease course..  Certain data indicate that factors such as suppressing emotions of anger and hatred (which are the ingredients of unforgiveness) negatively influence a person's susceptibility to disease."   
            Dr. Everett Worthington,, forerunning researcher and author of numerous books on forgiveness, writes, "Chronic unforgiveness causes stress. Every time people think of their transgressor, their body responds. Decreasing your unforgiveness cuts down on your health risk. Now, if you can forgive, that can actually strengthen your immune system."
            So maybe you haven't been diagnosed with cancer.  What about the everyday aches and pains for which many Americans customarily turn to pills for treatment? 
Many visits to medical doctors could be averted if people paid more attentions to their emotional health.   Herb Benson, MD, proves the point when he says, "Sixty to 90 percent of visits to physicians are for conditions related to stress. Harmful effects of stress include anxiety, mild and moderate depression, anger and hostility, hypertension, pain, insomnia, and many other stress-related diseases."
            Because it is widely misunderstood, forgiveness is often overlooked as a major source of stress relief.  In chapter two of my book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart, I discuss the evidence of people's misunderstanding of forgiveness.  Many people incorrectly assume their decision to forgive has cleared them of the negative effects of the baggage that goes with unforgiveness. 
            Forgiveness does not come from simply saying, "I forgive ... ." It requires a heartfelt change through which the anger and hatred are transformed into feelings of peaceful neutrality and on to genuine love and concern for the offender.  My book mentioned above explains this process from a Christian perspective.  Forgiveness is surrendering to God the ultimate right to judge.  Forgiveness cannot be reduced to methodology solely achieved by following pre-determined step-by-step instructions. It is much more complex and gradually accomplished by practicing new insights and revelation.
            Eva Mozes Kor and her twin sister, Miriam, survived the Holocaust and the Auschwitz concentration camp, Eva was asked,  "What is the thing that is most misunderstood about forgiveness?'  She replied, "Forgiveness has the reputation that the perpetrator has to be sorry. The biggest misconception is that forgiveness is for the perpetrator.  It's strictly a gift of freedom I give myself. It's free! You don't need an HMO. There are no side effects, and it works. It's like a miracle drug.  Instead of changing the world—that's too big of a job—we have to repair it one place at a time...." 
            For those who may get past the first hurdle of misunderstanding, the second hurdle, misdiagnosing the condition of heart, often trips them up.  For most people, hatred is a well-disguised deceptive tumor.  At least in some degree, hatred is alive in every breathing human being.  Although most do not consider themselves "hateful people," hateful elements exist in every human heart.  These elements grow and create cancer-like emotional conditions that often go undetected.  Just as every individual is unique in how they develop and treat bodily cancer, each is unique in how emotional cancer is developed and treated.  Anger will turn to the cancer of hatred if not properly treated.  Hatred is anger saturated with bitterness.  Unrecognized and unacknowledged hatred (confusing or excusing it as mere anger) is a common ailment of the human heart.  Hurt combined with hatred does not heal on its own.  Hurt turned to hatred requires intentional healing balm.  The process of forgiveness is the most effective treatment. 
            One of the most satisfying fruits of forgiveness is better physical and mental health.  Is it worth finding out more about forgiveness and making the necessary changes to practice forgiveness?  Absolutely! Good health has no price tag.  The ancient Proverb says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it" (proverbs 4:23).  Healthy individuals build healthy families, and healthy families can build a healthy society.  Understanding and practicing forgiveness goes a long way to facilitate health. 
            Forgiveness is not a cure nor the complete answer to all life's problems.  It is a door to access the treasures of healing.  For a Christian, that Door is Jesus Christ who accomplishes forgiveness and provides access to the very heart of Father God.  A person's faith surrenders his heart to Almighty power through sonship (including daughtership) for the eternal healing of the soul.
            I hope you are blessed with the healing power of forgiveness today.

                Note:   The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses themes of dealing with disappointments, offense and finding freedom in forgiveness.  This book is designed to help people (especially in the Christian faith)  to discover and dislodge things in life that lead to defeat. Don't miss out on your chance to use this book as a helpful tool in discovering Refuge in Christ. It can be purchased by clicking here: . If you get anywhere near Pennsylvania for vacation or on business, be sure to look us up for lodging at 
by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry

Sunday, June 1, 2014


            In a free society the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental right, correct?  At first glance, that's what the US Declaration of Independence seems to indicate.  However, is happiness the goal, or the fruit of a goal?    
            Darren Hardy, editor of Success Magazine says, "Happiness is not a pursuit; it's a choice. Happiness is a state of mind;  obtainable at any time, in any moment of your choosing."  Psychiatrist and concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl says, "It's the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness."
            Happiness is not found in pursuing pleasure in an event(s), but it's about enjoying the journey.  It is fine to feel pleasure, but this temporary condition should not be confused with happiness.  Feelings of happiness and joy are produced by a pursuit of significance, purpose, and meaning in life. 
            Two specific actions are guaranteed to produce happiness:   expressing gratitude and making someone else happy.  First of all, when we are thankful, we allow no room for unthankful thoughts in our brain.  Intentional gratefulness, including sitting down and making a list of things we can be thankful for, leaves no space for unhappiness to take root in our mind.  Blessing someone else is also an automatic buster of unhappy thoughts.  "It is better to give than to receive" always holds out when trying to find significance and meaning for your existence. 
            Experts evaluate levels of happiness by focusing on success in four main areas of life;  1) material abundance, 2) love and relationships, 3) health and well-being, and 4) spirituality.   There are physical (biological) benefits to happiness.  When you're contented, your brain functions better.  Your immune system is optimized,  neither aggressively producing too many chemicals and not too suppressed. disallowing foreign substances to invade the body.  This balance is necessary for the health of the whole person. 
            Finding "success" in a particular venture, career, relationship, possession etc. doesn't necessarily mean you will be happy.  Success must be defined holistically.  Many people incorrectly believe that happiness comes from the types of things they own or the kind of career they pursue, but true happiness (peace and joy) is more about a person’s character than anything else.  Happiness is not so much based on what you do,  but who you are.  For example, happiness cannot be based on the number and size of houses you own.  After all, you can only live in one house at a time.  You can only physically be in one room of one house at a time no matter how large it is and how many other "toys" there are in other rooms.  Life's meaning is found in being present in each moment, with each person, in each place, making the most of each circumstance (fated by choice or otherwise).   Inspirational speaker Jim Rohn says happiness must be woven.  It must be woven with care.  Happiness is created by intention and skill in weaving a basket strong enough to hold the fruit of good character.  Rohn says, "You can be happy with what you got, while you pursue what you want."   The more unfavorable your circumstances (ie. loss of job, house, relationship, status) the more challenging it may be to embrace this truth.  Accepting a difficult circumstance  (created by your own bad choices or the bad choices of others) can be a serious roadblock to overcome, but it CAN be overcome.
            Dale Carnegie also contrasts success and happiness when he says, “Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.”  Happiness is in deciding to enjoy the journey more than the event.  Misplaced expectations and misjudgments about happiness can create a lot of disappointment and frustration in life. But, no matter how desperate things appear, there is always something to be thankful for, some reason to find hope.  For many, faith in God is a vital source of hope.  Research has shown and it is commonly understood that faith is an important element in a person’s physical, emotional and mental health.  A great proverb says, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:13).   Spiritual health is an important element in a person’s overall health condition. 
            Happiness is not an entitlement. Desires and dreams are not enough to achieve happiness.  Hope is not merely wishful thinking.  True hope is, "Confidence in a future event; the highest degree of well founded expectation of good; as a hope founded on God's gracious promises" (Webster's 1828 Dictionary)   Happiness is realized when you combine confident expectation with things like gratitude, blessing other people, work ethic, eating well, and giving God his rightful place in your life. 
            I understand that some people reading this may feel they have tried all that and life still doesn't seem to contain the happiness they desire.  If that is you, may I encourage you to seek help from a trusted friend or counselor to find some answers.  My sincere hope is that you can find true happiness in your life today!

                Note:   The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses themes of dealing with disappointments, offense and finding freedom in forgiveness.  This book is designed to help people (especially in the Christian faith)  to discover and dislodge things in life that lead to defeat. Don't miss out on your chance to use this book as a helpful tool in discovering Refuge in Christ. It can be purchased by clicking here: . If you get anywhere near Pennsylvania for vacation or on business, be sure to look us up for lodging at 

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Solutions to Fear

            As we saw last time, the consequences of fear go largely undetected in most people's lives.  It takes some effort to recognize and own up to the impact of fear in our daily activities.  Fear-based thinking and acting is the most common cause for people not fulfilling their greatest potential in life.  As Les Brown is quoted as saying, "Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears." 
            Once we become aware of the fear, what are some ways to overcome the fear?   Turning once again to psychologist Susan Jeffers in her book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, she shares a number of practical solutions to fighting fear.    Becoming a fear fighter has much to do with becoming a generous giver.  According to Jeffers, although most people would consider themselves to be a giving person, in reality very few people are truly a giving person.  "Why do we find it so difficult to give? My theory has two components. First, it requires a mature adult to give, and most of us have never really grown up. Second, giving is an acquired skill that few of us have mastered. These components are tied together and require a great deal of practice to achieve. The reason most of us have never practiced these skills is simple— it usually never occurs to us that we aren't behaving like adults or that we aren't giving. We have unwittingly deceived ourselves. And this is understandable. We look like we are adults and we seem to be giving people. What's going on underneath, however, belies appearances."
            The idea of giving commonly includes some kind of getting in return.  How much we give and to whom is generally based on a value system of investment with worthfulness being judged by how much comes back to us.  Most of our giving is from a place of expectation rather than  a place of love. 
            This "childish" view of giving is based on the fear of lack.  Our basic needs from birth are met at the mercy of our caretakers.  Our earliest fears revolve around not enough water (thirst), not enough food (hunger(, not enough heat (cold), etc.  Survival is tied up in the world nurturing us.  "As the years pass, we function as more and more independent beings, able to take care of ourselves—or so it appears.   We dress ourselves, we feed ourselves, we earn a living. Yet there seems to be a part of us that never progresses much beyond the crib. Metaphorically, we remain frightened that no one will come to relieve our hunger-—for food, money, love, praise, and so on. Any relief in the way of "food" is only temporary; we know the hunger will come again.  Consider what this dilemma sets up for us in the area of our daily living. We can't give. We can't love. We become, consciously or unconsciously, manipulative, because our perceived survival is involved. We can't support the well-being of another person if their needs in any way conflict with ours. And how do we feel operating from the level of the playpen?  Helpless, trapped, angry, frustrated, dissatisfied, unfulfilled, and, most of all, fearful.
            What can be more frightening than depending on someone else for one's survival? As fearful adults, we ask the same questions we did as a child. Will they go away and not come back? Will they stop loving me? Will they take care of me? Will they get sick and die? As adults, we ask these questions about our spouse, and often about our friends, boss, parents, and even children.  
            People who fear can't genuinely give. They are imbued with a deep-seated sense of scarcity in the world, as if there wasn't enough to go around. Not enough love, not enough money, not enough praise, not enough attention—simply not enough. Usually fear in one area of our lives generalizes, and we become closed down and protective in many areas of our lives. Fearful people can be visualized as crouched and hugging themselves. Whereas this image represents the inner state of all frightened people, the outer manifestation can take on many forms.  Examples include:   Successful businessmen needing the boss's approval  Housewives who blame their husbands or children for the fact that they never lived their own lives.
Independent career women who demand so much from their men that they are often alone
Men who can't tolerate their wives' independence.  Company executives who make harmful, irresponsible decisions.   They are all in some way operating out of a sense of fear for their own survival. They all are, in effect, crouched and withholding inside.
            In order to get rid of the fear of lack, you must be willing to change the way you think and act.   Instead of holding on to people and things for dear life,  you  have to start releasing, letting go, giving it away.  It's easy to give when you feel abundantly endowed, but you only feel that way when you give, not before!   This kind of change is a life-long process that you can begin working on today   I can speak from experience and say that the peace of mind is worth every bit of effort  you put into it.
            Jeffers discusses six specific ways to give.  I want to focus on the last of these:  giving away thanks, giving away information, giving away praise, giving away time, giving away money, and giving away love.  You must give away what you want to attract.  If you want the best, give away your best.  If you want people to treat you with respect, be respectful and give away respect.  If you want people to trust you, be trustworthy and give away trust.  If you want others to love you, be confident in your worthfulness, and give away the love.  Giving is about outflow. It is about letting go of your crouched, withholding self and standing tall with outstretched arms.  Giving from the position that "I count" enhances your ability to give.  When we really feel this sense of abundance, we truly understand the saying "My cup runneth over."  Like any other skill, however, it takes practice.
            The Bible has a lot to say about love. For a clear definition of love, read chapter 10 of the book of 1 Corinthians.  Also, the Bible gives a direct answer to the question, "How do you get rid of fear?"  It says, "perfect love drives out fear"  (1 John 4:18).  In fact, the verse before this one says that God is love.  Perfect love is completely selfless and unconditional.  Only God is "perfect" in this kind of love, but we can love much better when we allow him to change our heart to love more deeply. In fact, Jesus himself encouraged us in love.  In the 14th chapter of the gospel of John  Jesus starts by saying "do not let your hearts be troubled ..."   He goes on to explain Father's Love for mankind, and invites us in to divinely empowered peace and love.  God understands that our ability to love is limited.  That's why he offers us his limitless supply.  All we have to do is receive HIS love and we can give HIS love away, not just our own.  
            Does your mind still contain a frightful thought?  No worries.   Peace of mind, created by love, leaves no more room for fear.  As Jeffers book suggests, "feel the fear and do it anyway!" 

                Note:   The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses themes of dealing with disappointments, offense and finding freedom in forgiveness.  This book is designed to help people (especially in the Christian faith)  to discover and dislodge things in life that lead to defeat. Don't miss out on your chance to use this book as a helpful tool in discovering Refuge in Christ. It can be purchased by clicking here: . If you get anywhere near Pennsylvania for vacation or on business, be sure to look us up for lodging at 

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry