Blue Rock Bed & Breakfast

72 Blue Rock Rd, Lancaster, Pennsylvania 17551
Innkeeper(s): Ed and Stephanie Hersh

Truth for Success 1 May 2016, 9:08 am


            I attended a seminar last week with Andy Andrews.  The thoughts expressed here are sparked by things he shared.  Mr. Andrews has written some books you would find worth reading.  One book called The Traveler's Gift is a motivating  allegory  presenting  these seven principles of success:
 1.  The buck stops here.  I am responsible for my past and my future.
 2.  I will seek wisdom.  I will be a servant to others.
 3.  I am a person of action.  I seize this moment. I choose now.
 4.   I have a decided heart.  My destiny is assured.
 5.  Today I will choose to be happy.  I am the possessor of a grateful spirit.
 6.   I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit.  I will forgive myself.
 7.   I will persist without exception.  I am a person of great faith.
            Much of what Andy shared centered around the theme that anything worth experiencing in life must be based on truth.  There is great truth in each of these seven dynamic principles, but in order to find it, we must be transparent and completely honest with self.  We all have garnered belief systems that get in the way of truth.  Our ability to change inaccurate beliefs is limited because we don't know what we don't know.  And, what we don't know, CAN hurt us! 
            Sometimes our application of what we believe to be true, gets in the way of the real truth.  For example, it is very true that diligence and hard work lead to success.  However, work-o-holism or working to extreme without proper rest will lead to burnout and perhaps blowout.  As another example, it is true that compassion and empathy are necessary in your relationships, but the truth is that any relationship without proper boundaries will lead to disappointment for one or both parties. A good question to ask ourselves sometimes is, "Am I falling short of the truth, by holding on too tightly to something partly true?” 
            Another false assumption is that more knowledge makes things better.  Knowledge and wisdom are quite different.  Truth may be attained through knowledge, but truth can only be applied with wisdom.  Wisdom exercises discernment which comes through a process of transforming the way we think and feel about things that shape our core belief systems.  That explains why some people who are well-informed and educated can make serious errors of judgment.  Education does not always translate into positive transformation. 
            Success is something we all desire, but few are willing and able to submit to the process to attain it.   Truth is always true whether you believe it or not.  Your reality is based on your perception of truth which is shaped by your beliefs.  But your beliefs never become reality unless you act on them.  In that sense, you are in control of your own destiny.  You can choose to be happy, to forgive, and to have faith by persisting even when success seems to have eluded you for the moment. 
            I'll wrap up with a few more questions.  If the truth sets us free from ignorance, error, and pain, why don't more of us want more truth in our lives more of the time?  If you are believing something that is not true, it may be limiting your path and faith for future success.  If something you believe is obstructing the truth, do you really want to know what it is, and how to get past it?  Sometimes finding misbeliefs and falsehoods take you on what seems like a detour, but there are people ready to help you along the way.  We all carry baggage that makes it harder to seek the truth. 
            Are you ready to take responsibility for clearing a path for truth to reveal itself in your life?   Are you ready to apply the seven principles above to keep you moving in the right direction?  Since human nature is rarely able to be honest with self, "Are you willing and able to truly hear what other people perceive in your speech and actions?  I ask you these questions because they are some of the ones I used to try to keep my own journey on track.  I wrestle with the challenges to be truthful with self, and I don't always win, but success is very rewarding.  Give it a try.  The truth is; only YOU can do what is true to the purpose for which you were created by the God who defines Truth.   May truth be a blessing for your success today! 

                Note:   A book I authored Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heartdiscusses truth for dealing with disappointments, offense and finding freedom through forgiveness.  See more info. by clicking here: http://bluerockbnb.com/healing/book_main.htm . 

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry
The Author Ed Hersh blog is a ministry of Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry accessible at: http://healing.bluerockbnb.com

Cross of Christ 3 Apr 2016, 5:18 am

      Have you ever wondered why Catholic symbols of the cross have Jesus hanging on it, and non-Catholics show the cross as two intersecting lines without the Christ? My background is not Catholic so I believed the "empty cross" was the best way to emphasize the risen Lord, and not get hung up on the suffering Lord. After all, we serve a God who is alive, not dead, right? Certainly our Lord is resurrected, and not overcome by the grave, but some verses in the Bible (such as the that shown below) help us appreciate both the humanity of Christ and his divinity.
      The following verses recently challenged some of my thinking. In chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews, the writer discusses what is commonly though of as the "heroes of the faith." Here is the last verse of that chapter and the first 3 of the next. "These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised,  since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 11:30-31, 12:1-3). Our Christian faith is based solely on what Jesus has accomplished on earth, culminating on the Cross, and in heaven, bulminating on the Throne. Jesus extends perfect mercy, while ruling with perfect justice.
      The phrase "fixing our eyes on Jesus" jumps out at the center of these verses. Our perception of Christ will determine how we live out out faith. There are two extremes to gravitate towards. One over-emphasizes mercy, and the other over-emphasizes justice. One over-extends the human activity, and the other over-extends the divine. One dignifies the human to diminish the divine, and the other devalues the human to over-spiritualize the divine. Our gaze on Christ should not be either human or God, but both human and God. The words used in the Scripture above are "pioneer" and "perfecter" of faith. Faith is "perfected" in the human condition, and faith is "pioneered" in the heavenlies. The physical and spiritual realms are both active together accomplishing the purposes of God.
      How does this work out practically? Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Because of our confidence the spiritual reality, we can act with assurance in our physical world. For Noah, it meant bulding an ark to protect from floods, even though the world had never known rain before that time. For Abraham and Sarah it meant trying for a promised child though Sarah had not been able to bear children and they were well beyond child-bearing years. For Moses, it meant leading his people out of Egypt even though the king's army had the ability to wipe them out with little effort. For King David, it meant many incidents of courageous battle in the face of overwhelming odds against him. For Samson it meant returning to God for a second chance, even though he had lost his strength to wild living.
      The cross of Christ is more than a symbol. It is the intersection of the divine and the human. God desires relationship with his created human race. He wants humans to know him. Religion does not produce relationship with God. Religion emphasizes human self-effort to perform good works for gaining favor with God. Contrary to what many believe, God is not impressed with good works. Religion has a way of erecting barriers to nullify the Cross. Relationship, on the other had, breaks down barriers. Relationship accepts the Cross for what it really means. Jesus paid the debt owed by the human sinful condition. No matter where you are in your relationship with God, the Cross can have more power to resurrect your circumstances. If you already know Him, great. By surrendering more of your heart to God, his divine ability to wash your soul clean of shame and guilt becomes more real. If you don't know God at all, it's never too late, or too soon, to start to get to know Him. "Fix your eyes on Jesus" and you're sure to find God. Jesus is a safe refuge. The cross is our refuge and hope.

Note: The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heartdiscusses 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: http://bluerockbnb.com/healing/book_main.htm . If you get anywhere near Pennsylvania for vacation or on business, be sure to look us up for lodging at http://bluerockbnb.com

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry
The Author Ed Hersh blog is a ministry of Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry accessible at: http://healing.bluerockbnb.com

The 15 Omissions 6 Mar 2016, 5:57 am


            Two previous articles focused on surrendering to God the ultimate rights of judgment and  mending broken relationships after people mess up.  These actions are called forgiving and reconciling.  I showed how the gospel of John calls this the Great Commission of the Christian faith. Yet, the spirit of offense, unforgiveness, and unreconciled relationships are so commonly tolerated among Christ-followers.  So, what causes us to fail at the Great Commission to create this Great Omission? 
            The simplest answer would be the removal of the letters “C” and “M” from the word commission to be left with omission,  C is representative of the Christ, and M represents  his Mission.  Christ's Mission  makes the difference between commission and omission. For the Christ follower, forgiveness and reconciliation  must be Christ-Missioned (Christ-centered) in all ways.  Following are some thoughts about how to make this more practical in your life
            Here are  15 contributors to the Great Omission.  These are things that routinely get in the way of true forgiveness and reconciliation. 
            1. Settling for second best (striving instead of thriving).
Striving to succeed in a performance-based culture devalues our needs for rest and reflection time.  Pragmatism (making things work) is valued over prudence (making things right).  Bitterness, resentment, and blame are considered “normal.”   This high emotional pain tolerance can only be reversed through vulnerability and risk.  However, thriving mentally, emotionally, and spiritually makes it possible to thrive in all areas of life. Why settle for less than God's best?  We are each worth more than our current level of perceived striving (or thriving)! 
            2.  Performance-based living and decision making.
When we reduce forgiveness merely to a decision, we become reliant on our own will power to forgive instead of relying on what Jesus has accomplished for us.  We don't have to forgive and then come to Christ.  Our decision must be to cooperate with what Christ has done for us.  That puts Christ in control, and not us.  It also makes Him the achiever, not you.      
            3.  False beliefs about forgiveness
Here is a partial list of myths about forgiveness I discuss in my book,  Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart.   Forgiveness is NOT: simply  remorse, forgetting, excusing, trusting, letting go, letting time heal, a feeling, reducing unforgiveness, hinging upon an offender to make a gesture of repentance. Not everything you hear and read about forgiveness is true.  You may have to commit to unlearning what you already believe about forgiveness, and learn the truth.      
            4. Demanding “quick fix” rather than process.
When seeking the help of a counselor, people often say, “I just want to get this problem behind me and move on.”  What they really mean is, “Don't tell me I have to change something about myself, and I sure don't want to face my pain.”  Whoever said, “No pain, no gain,” had it right.  Acknowledging and surrendering our offenses (and offensive behaviors) is a growing process.  Growth always involves stretching and new learning by definition.  Because offense is inevitable in a broken world, at any given point in time, we are only one step away from our next lesson in forgiveness.
            5. Trying to go it alone
When we value self-sufficiency and independence above interdependence, we rebel against our innate design for human relationships to provide mutual support for dealing with the many challenges of life.  Accepting help is not a sign of weakness, but merely an acknowledgment that you are human.  I've heard it said, “Since we are hurt in relationship, we must also be healed in relationship.”  We all have “blind spots.”  We are very weak in self-critique.   We need others to point our short-comings so we can improve our character.  We must be teachable to benefit from constructive criticism. 
            6.  Lacking commitment to inner person change
Resisting change is our default nature.  Intentional change from the inside out, is necessary to conquer, rather than simply manage, undesired (and sinful) behaviors.  Confession and repentance is God's way to initiate this change. That simply means we verbally admit the error and turn our heart in the direction toward God (away from self). When we make this a regular pattern, we can build up resilience by increasing inner  capacity to handle losses and failed expectations.  Then  unforgiveness has less, or no place to take root.   
            7.  Excusing bad  behaviors.
When we complain, blame, or justify the bad attitudes of our heart, we short-circuit the “weeding” process to remove the bad roots.  Our behaviors all begin with our thoughts, and our thoughts are largely governed by our standards and core beliefs.   Bad fruit is produced by bad roots and bad soil. Sowing good seed in good soil will yield a good crop of fruit. Choosing to focus on (good) thoughts, placed in a (good) heart of surrender to God, will produce (good) behavior. 
            8. Clinging to poor self-concept
Many fail to see the link between how they act and how they think about themselves.  Second only to our thoughts about God, our thoughts about ourselves are the greatest influencers of our actions.  Do you, for real, believe from the bottom of your heart, that you are worth forgiving and being forgiven?  The value God places on your being is totally disconnected from any ability, or lack of ability, you have of earning it.  Your perception of innate worth shapes your self-image and how you react or respond to life.
            9.  Trivializing the so-called smaller offenses.
In 2006, world-wide attention was drawn to an Amish school-house shooting just miles from where we live in Lancaster County.  Forgiveness by the Amish toward the shooter and his family was a major theme of media stories.  Pardoning the horrific actions of shooting ten innocent school girls is a noble thing, but truly forgiving from the heart is demonstrated by the daily, sometimes moment by moment, surrendering to God our ultimate rights of judging.  Often times these are unintentional actions (and attitudes), of a human being that cause our judging.  That human could even be yourself if self-condemnation or self-rejection is part of what needs to be surrendered.  So-called smaller offenses and losses can be harder to reckon with than the larger ones.  An example may be unkind words from a close friend or family member, betrayal by a spouse, or attack on your integrity by a church member.  These routine interactions may not be dramatic enough to grab media attention, but they are the essence of what true forgiveness and reconciliation is all about. 
            10.  Failing to take full responsibility for your part in an offense.
Even if an offense is 90% the fault of another person and 10% your contribution, you must take full responsibility for your 10%.  For example, if an alcoholic spouse mistreats his or her partner, and the offended spouse retaliates without taking appropriate steps to resolve the conflict, the offended spouse must ask God's forgiveness for offending God by  condemning the offending alcoholic.  No person can change another person.  A person can take responsibility for his or her own actions, but not the actions of another. 
Shaming another person, no matter how offensive their behavior, will only continue a cycle of unforgiveness and make you an offender against God. 
            11.   Forgetting about restitution.
One way to define forgiveness is to release the debt of a debtor.  When debt is caused by an offense, and the offender repays the debt as part of reconciliation, that is called restitution.  Restitution helps the offender demonstrate his understanding of the damage or hurt he caused the person he offended. 
            12.  Fear of conflict and confrontation
Conflict is necessary for healthy relationship.  Confrontation is often necessary for reconciled relationships.  These are two different things, but I include them together because they both have to do with uncertainty and potential disruption of security in relationship.  Fear is a powerful motivator, and often keeps people from taking the action they know to be right.
            13.  Judging (over-reliance on your own expectations and perceptions of reality)
Critically judging inevitably brings criticism back on the one who critically judges (see Romans 2:1-2).  This is a rule of life, as certain as gravity pulling a brick to the ground, dropped from a 10th story window.  Condemnation crashes in on the one who condemns. Shaming another, shames yourself, because we're all made of the same stuff. 
            I think this is the chiefcontributor to the Great Omission.  Condescendingly judging, and failing to recognize when we do it, is offensive to Almighty God.  When we attempt to devalue a person to whom God has given innate value, we pretend to be Judge in place of God.  It is okay to condemn (judge) behavior, but not okay to condemn the person.  So, what is the difference?  Condemning behavior says their actions were bad.  Condemning the person says they are a jerk, good-for-nothing, damned, loser. 
Believe me, I've felt this way about many people (and sometimes still do), but I pray God shows me quickly when this is happening, so I can repent and surrender my heart to God for him to change. 
This bad judging can occur by making assumptions without the facts, prejudging, misjudging, misunderstanding, misinterpreting, or misperceiving the intent or motivation of a person.  The more secure we are about our own innate value to God, the less inclined we are to condemn. Accepted and validated by Father God, we have no need to try to put down others, in order to build up ourselves.  
            14.  Involving a third party unnecessarily.
What often happens when a person is hurt by an offense, instead of confronting the offender to reconcile, they go to another (third) person to seek validation for their victim role. They condemn the offender, rather than try to correct and make it right.  Condemning judgment becomes even more damaging when it is taken to a third person. 
That is called slander.  Gossip is when, for example,  a person can't resist putting a negative spin on  a comment (or outright “trash-talking”) about someone not present to defend themselves.   Slander and gossip occur frequently and do not get recognized for what they are, the damage they incur,  and the contribution they make to the Great Omission. 
            15.   Spiritual disconnection
The book of Hebrews in the Bible describes people as not being able to find rest in their hearts when they harbor bitterness, resentment, and blame   There is no joy and peace  for the soul that does not surrender unforgiving and contentious motivations.  Self-honesty and humility are per-requisites for opening the lines of communication with God and connecting to the true power of forgiveness and reconciliation.  
            For each of the contributors above, ask the question, “What is one Christ-centered action I can take to reverse this tendency in my life?”  Then, begin taking that action right now, take that action tomorrow, and each day for a week.  Review your progress in a week, read this article again, and continue taking the actions necessary fulfill the Great Commission in the fullest way God created you to BE!

                Note:   The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heartdiscusses 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: http://bluerockbnb.com/healing/book_main.htm .  If you get anywhere near Pennsylvania for vacation or on business, be sure to look us up for lodging at  http://bluerockbnb.com 

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry
The Author Ed Hersh blog is a ministry of Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry accessible at: http://healing.bluerockbnb.com

Reconciliation: Making Things Friendly 7 Feb 2016, 5:56 am


           Forgiving is not the same as reconciling.  In researching the topic of forgiveness for a doctoral degree a number of years ago, the discovery of the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation was the single most life changing discovery of the project.  Remember, forgiving means surrendering to God the right to judge (an offense).   Forgiving restores relationship with God, whereas reconciliation restores relationship human to human (the offender. with those offended).  The good news for the offended is that the  freedom of forgiveness is not tied to the offender's ability (or willingness) to reconcile.  Another important thing to learn is that trying to reconcile before forgiving may actually cause more harm to a relationship than not attempting to reconcile at all.  Forgiveness prepares your heart and helps make your attitude more responsive rather than reactive.  Let me explain more here. 
            First, let's define reconciliation.  According to Webster's dictionary it is “the act of causing two people or groups to become friendly again after an argument or disagreement.”   Reconciling is often not an easy choice.  It may require humility and vulnerability to let other people see who you really are on the inside.  It usually requires confrontation.  The self-confrontation involved in forgiving is one thing, but confronting another person because of an offense can be very scary.  The lack of willingness to confront is often the greatest barrier to reconciliation. 
            Like forgiving, reconciling is not an option for a Christian. It is a mandate.  We must take very seriously the responsibility of attempting to "set things right."   In the previous article called The Commission to Forgive (posted 11/1/15), I quoted a passage from the Apostle Paul's letter to the first century Corinthian church which includes the statement that Christ himself “has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation” (see 2 Corinthians 5:15-20).  So, what might the results of this ministry of reconciliation look like?  I encourage you to read the entire fourth chapter of Ephesians to get a good snapshot of an answer to that question.  Some of the phrases that jump out are these, “live a life worthy,” “be completely humble and  gentle,” ”be patient, bearing one another in love,”  “keep the unity,” “speaking the truth in love,” “grow and build up,” “put off your old self,” “put on the new self,” “be made new in the attitudes of your mind,” and “do not let the sun go down on your anger.”  Summarizing the chapter, “ Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  ...  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:29:32).   Reconciling is meant to benefit not only the offended, but the offender as well.  When relationships are restored and functioning well, the community at large will also benefit.  Church, business, government, and other organizations thrive on healthy relationships between individuals.  
            It takes at least one party to initiate reconciliation.  It takes two parties to obey the mandate for completing reconciliation.  One of the most common reasons for relational breakup and disunity is a disagreement, disappointment, or offense that has never been processed through.  It is not okay to walk away from a relationship, group, or situation just because you become angry or hurt by things that didn't go your way.  It is okay to have desires, preferences, and high expectations of character  (remembering that no one is perfect), but it is not okay to avoid healthy confrontation of brokenness that causes relational separation and division.  I discuss healthy conflict in a separate article. 
            In the previous article I stated, “Surrendering yourright to judge doesn't mean you are surrendering your rights for justice to be served.”  In fact, when the “heart work” of forgiveness begins to produce its good fruit, it requires the action steps (toward reconciliation) to deliver the results to the world around you.  Forgiving an offender does not mean the offender is relieved of due consequences to be paid for an offense.  For example, in the case of abuse, forgiving an abuser is different from holding the abuser accountable for his or her actions.  The safety of the victim must be established and if the abuser's actions are criminal behavior, the laws must be enforced to protect from further victimization and give the victimizer an opportunity to turn away from the sin of abuse and be restored as a person with worth and dignity.  The abuse victim may or may not ever be reconciled to the abuser, but the power of forgiveness can free the victim of the damage caused by the victimization.  The more completely forgiveness is achieved, the greater the degree of freedom to be lived. 
            It is also true that the more completely forgiveness is achieved (the more an offense is surrendered to God), the more prepared an offended person is to attempt reconciliation.  It only takes one party to forgive.  It takes two parties to reconcile.  Remember, there are two sides to every offense (the offender and the offended), and you may find yourself on either side at any given time in a relationship or circumstance.  If the offense seems unintentional on the part of the offender,  forgiveness may be exercised by the offended, but for reconciliation to be complete, the offender may still need to become involved.  Perhaps for example, a minor miscommunication of traveling directions by Jane causes John to be late for an important appointment.  John may forgive Jane and decide it's not worth mentioning Jane's mistake to her.  John may even hold himself responsible for not double checking or using a different source to find the information he needed.  But then another similar incident occurs between Jane and John, and John has a harder time to forgive and the need to reconcile becomes more evident.      
            The teaching of Jesus addresses the issue of repeat offendenses among brothers and sisters in Christ.   One reference is in Matthew 18:15-17.  I'll not go into detail here, but when reconciliation is attempted by the person offended, and the offender wants nothing to do with reconciliation or justice, it is time to get help from a friend or advocate.  Forgiveness, without pursuing reconciliation or justice, may only make the situation worse for everyone. 
            Sometimes offensive behaviors get excused as personality traits, styles of leadership, attributes of  professionalism, or “everybody does it” generalities.  They may even pose as necessity to keep the peace, tolerable as long as no one is getting hurt, or as a short-term loss to achieve a long-term benefit 
However, the truth, requires pain with gain, no short-cuts to relational integrity, confrontation to achieve inner peace, and trustworthy character to facilitate trust.  Leaders can fall into the trap of offense as quickly as anyone else.  Look at Moses for example.  One of the strongest leaders of the ancient Israeli people, witnessed an incident of severe injustice against a kinsman.  Although his intentions were good in trying to help his fellow Hebrew brothers and sisters, his attitude and behaviors that led to killing an Egyptian slave-driver back-fired.  Moses had to escape and live in hiding for 40 years as a result of his mistake.  Attempting short-cuts, when it comes to forgiving and reconciling,often erect negative relational walls that create confusion, erode authenticity, prohibit collaboration, and ultimately destroy trust and  trustworthiness.
            People are not the enemy.  People's actions (offenses) are the enemy.  We have a great Enemy who uses offenses (people's actions) in an attempt to divide and conquer.  We must be wise to this tactic and vigilant to resist the trap of offense.  People align with  the enemy when they refuse to reconcile. 
            Sometimes you can become an "enemy" of  yourself.   A person's perception of low self-worth and poor self-concept is at the core of all human problems.  God gave his only Son Jesus as our saving grace to reconcile us back to the Father.  Father creates worth and value into each child born into the human race.  The broken pieces of the human heart are reconciled back to Father through Jesus Christ (again see 2 Corinthian 5:15-20).  Your true value is based on who God made you to be as His son or daughter.  It's not based on what you have done or failed to do.   Believing in Jesus and surrendering your heart to God means you are relying on Christ's completed work of reconciliation.  It does not mean you have to come up with the strength to forgive and reconcile, but rely on the strength God gives you (see Matthew 11:28-29).  You have a choice to rely on the power of God every time you are offended.  Why not do it?
            Some offenses seem more difficult to forgive and reconcile than others.  Examples might be infidelity of a spouse, murder or other crime against a family member , or severe injustice of a tribal nature.   When God's power is invited into the situation, hope is much more free to win over a hopeless cause.   After reconciling with God (receiving his unconditional love), reconciling with fellowman becomes easier.  This is a continual process.  Christ's work is complete, but our work of cooperating must be ongoing. 
            May I encourage you to take the following steps toward deepening a commitment to reconciliation as a more common practice in your life.  First, identify an area of unforgiveness or unreconciled problem you have toward another person.  Next, if forgiveness is not complete, make a list of all the actions that caused offense (hurtful words spoken, mistreatments, negligence, transgressions).  Be as specific as possible.  Pray, confess, repent for any of your own reactive judgments, and forgive. Next, (if you believe you have surrendered your judgments to God), pray and discern strategy to address the offense with the offender.  Go in a spirit of humility and empathy, recognizing the flip side of offense is in your own life as well.  Keep the circle of people who know about the offense as small as is necessary to bring resolution.  Do not engage in slander or gossip to make yourself become  an offender.  After completing the actions you believe are necessary to bring resolution, and there still is no resolution, commit to following the path of asking an advocate to go with you (as outlined in Matthew 18:15-17) if the offender is a brother or sister in Christ.    Otherwise, pursue the matter  with the appropriate systems of justice to bring resolution.   Obviously, in cases of abuse or endangerment, the above steps should be abandoned to seek help immediately, outside the inner circle of the problem. 
            If you believe you've tried the steps outlined above and you still feel "stuck," it is probably time to get the help of a trusted friend or counselor.  Try going back to step one and examine forgiveness.  Be willing to allow God to show you a deeper level of forgiveness.  God is most glorified when we allow him to lead us through this process.  If there are numerous situations in your life that need to be reconciled, start with a small one, work it through to success, and don't become overwhelmed by trying too many, too soon. 
            One more tip is to discern whether the offender needs to be involved at all.  The offense may be small enough for you to simply need to forgive.  If you are 100% sure of what you are letting go, and totally certain the efforts of attempting to engage the other party would outweigh any potential benefits, let it go.  Misunderstandings, errors, and accidents are just part of our broken human condition.  Take the Beatles' advice and "Let It Be!" 
            When it must be, be a reconciler.  A real friend will want to be reconciled.  Be a friend, and  make things friendly again. 

                Note:   In Chapters Seven and Eight of the book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart, the topic of reconciliation is discussed in more detail.  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   More can be discovered by clicking here: http://bluerockbnb.com/healing/book_main.htm
by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry
The Author Ed Hersh blog is a ministry of Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry accessible at: http://healing.bluerockbnb.com

The Great Commission to Forgive 3 Jan 2016, 6:19 am

    When you hear the term "great commission" in the context of the Bible, what do you think of? The first four books of the New Testament are narratives written about the life of Jesus. Jesus gave his followers specific instructions about continuing his ministry when he left the earth. Christ's Great Commission is described similarly by Matthew 28, Mark 16, and Luke 24. Most people focus on evangelizing and discipleship to categorize the activities described by the Great Commission. "Go and make disciples of all nations, ... teaching ..." (Matthew 28:19-20).
    John's gospel narrative is very different from the other three in many ways, and particularly in describing the Great Commission. John records this, "Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven” John 20:21-23. His view of evangelism and discipleship takes on an inside out perspective.
    In contrast to the other three, John describes the Great Commission as a lifestyle of modeling forgiveness. Understanding and practicing forgiveness is central to the Christian faith, however, too few Christians make it a central part of their lives. In my book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart, I discuss some of the consequences of this deficiency including relational conflict, mental health problems, and lower quality of life. For many, instead of fulfilling the Great Commission of representing Christ's forgiveness to the world, they fall to what I would call the Great Omission neglecting the role of forgiveness in their faith.
    A common omission is failing to allow God to be the Lord and final Judge of people and circumstances in our lives. In becoming a Christian, the conversion experience includes recognizing the need for a Savior (Jesus) and receiving God's forgiveness into a new birth. At that point forgiveness is not finished, but it only begins. The forgiveness received from God by a believer (at conversion) is now to be given to others. The initial surrendering to God grows into an on-going relationship that involves deeper surrender and should involve greater capacity to forgive and be forgiven. That is the subject matter of my book (title mentioned above).
    One of the simplest definitions of forgiveness I've discovered is surrendering to God the right to judge. Offense is a common part of life. At one point or another, we all offend, and we all become offended. In a particular incident, we may find ourselves on one side of an offense or the other, the guilty, or the guilty's object. When we are on the guilty side of an offense, desiring to be forgiven may come to our thoughts more quickly than when we are offended with our thoughts first turning to trying to find someone else to blame. Sometimes guilt is difficult to ascribe to one party or another. Pre-judgments, mis-judgments, and critical-judgments make it even harder, but surrender is always an essential element of forgiveness. Surrendering your right to judge doesn't mean you are surrendering your rights for justice to be served. God is a perfect Judge, executing perfect justice and perfect mercy simultaneously (see chapter 3 of my book for an explanation). When you surrender to God the final rights of judgment, it puts your heart in a condition to focus on a hopeful future instead of a hopeless past. For both the offender and the one offended, a journey of redemption is possible.
    For a Christian, forgiveness is not an option but a mandate. Another theme I unpack in my book is the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. In many cases, forgiveness sets the stage for reconciliation. The New Testament Apostle Paul describes the Christian life as a "ministry of reconciliation." He says, "And he {Jesus} died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. ...  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors ..." 2 Corinthians 5:15-20). First, let me comment on the phrase "the old is gone, the new is here." Some interpret this to mean Jesus has accomplished forgiveness of sins, and therefore the practice of forgiveness is no longer necessary. Yes, Jesus has completed the work of forgiveness by dying on the Cross and being resurrected to dwell with the Father. No, it does not mean our part is done. Surrendering our hearts to Jesus at a conversion experience is only the beginning of the journey in forgiveness. Jesus uses the illustration of occupying a house to show how our life with Him progresses. In buying a house we receive the legal title and deed, but we still may have to paint, hang curtains, move furniture, and make it a home. Even after habitation, some rooms may need work and remain "projects" for some time. So too, in our hearts, our understanding and practice of forgiveness must continue on a path of cooperation with God to make our being a more inhabitable dwelling for his presence, and useful tool in His hand for the ministry of reconciliation.
    A second thing to note is that, "he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." Both being reconciled to God through Jesus, and being reconciled to one another as human beings reinforces John's perspective of the Great Commission. If Christ followers aren't modeling forgiveness and reconciliation, who will? The symbol of the cross gives us a picture of the vertical and horizontal connection of relationships. As we receive God's forgiveness to restore our relationship with Him (vertically reconciled), He empowers us to forgive and reconcile with fellow human beings (horizontal reconciliation), and help some find their own relationship with God restored and freed to help others as well. This is the eternal purpose and perspective for our lifespan on earth.
    Guilt for sin has traditionally been recognized as the main thing standing in the way of this reconciliation. I have recently come to view shame as an even greater hindrance. Guilt and shame are two different problems. While guilt links a person to their behavior, shame attacks the person for who they are. Guilt focuses on the "doing," while shame focuses on the "being." Guilt says, "I did a bad thing." Shame says, "I am bad." Guilty actions can be amended with restitution, but pronouncing shame condemns irreparably. Whether true guilt is present or not, many shaming the self results in self-condemnation, self-bitterness, and self-rejection. Shame creates condemning judgments, magnifies feelings of low self-worth, and separates our heart and mind from God as the master Designer of our being and the loving Father relationship he desires for us.
    God never shames his sons and daughters. When you feel shame it is not from God. Shame tells you that you are not worthy of receiving God's forgiveness (as an offender). When you are on the other side of forgiveness as the one offended, shame tells you the offender is not worthy of your forgiveness or God's forgiveness. This shaming often disguises itself in some form of critical judgment. When you are tempted to think of someone else as a jerk, loser, or good-for-nothing, you must surrender to God the right to judge that person or situation and repent for any wrongful actions you may have already taken. Our bad reactions toward other people are often rooted in the shame residing in our own inner person. Reconciling our relationship with Father God must include identifying the shame we carry by allowing God to show us where it may be hidden, and surrendering it into His care.
    God is looking for followers who will allow the Son Jesus to carry the offenses of this world for them. Our world is a broken place to live. We cannot escape offense, but we can escape the pain of offense. The distinguishing mark of a Christian in this world should be to view offense as an opportunity for God's love to pierce the power of offense, and allow His Son Jesus to redeem the offenses one by one in our lives. Forgiveness is God's idea and plan to accomplish his purpose for his people. Facing offense head on may cause some temporary pain. Allowing yourself to feel the pain, affords you an opportunity to experience God in a more meaningful way. That can never be a bad thing. We must practice receiving God's love in greater measure so we can give his gift of love to others as part of the great commission. We must grow in our capacity to receive God's love and become the person he intends for us to be. His love grows in our hearts when our judgments are surrendered to him.
It's time the Church deals with her offenses. The brokenness offense causes is evident all around us. Why can't we admit offense for what it is? Have we adopted a "religiously correct" speech similar to "political correctness." I like to think of what would happen if instead of using the term "church split" we would call it a "garbage heap of unresolved offenses." Much of what we call "disunity," is in reality a lack of willingness to work through offenses. Granted, there are many other real problems contributing to our proneness to offense such as unhealthy perspectives of conflict, lack of communication, and lack of trust and trustworthiness. But the greatest impact to be made on our corporate offenses is for each individual to examine his own heart in honesty and humility before God to expose and correct offense as the great commission mandates. This also fulfills the vision of the ancient Psalmist who wrote, "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them" Psalm 119:16; KJV9. We all want peace of mind and heart, but it comes with conditions. These are not overbearing, but conditions for which our loving Father stands with open arms ready to receive our participation.
    When someone offends you, you must be careful not to confuse their guilt with shaming the person (or persons). Condemning judgment toward God, yourself, or other people must be recognized as a chief enemy of forgiveness and reconciliation. Think of someone you believe has judged or offended you. Are you willing to release judgment of the person(s) who has done you wrong? Whether intentionally or unintentionally on the other person's part, the grip of the pain is in your power to release. Are you willing to surrender it to God right now for his judgment? I guarantee this will be the most freeing thing you can do. I can make this guarantee because I practice this regularly, and I help many other people do the same. In doing so you are fulfilling the Great Commission and helping to prepare others for finding their guilt and shame surrendered to God.
    I leave you with an exhortation to stop what you are doing right now amf read Psalm 32. May your 2016 be filled with Psalm 32 blessings!
(click here to read Psalm 32)

Note: For more on how to understand and practice forgiveness see some of my other articles posted on the blog site. I welcome your feedback and an opportunity to discuss this topic further with your study or prayer group. Please contact me to talk in person or via media technology.
 by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry
The Author Ed Hersh blog is a ministry of Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry accessible at: http://healing.bluerockbnb.com

Finding Yourself 1 Nov 2015, 5:20 am

Is “finding yourself”a humanistic idea? Atone time in my life I was so overly concerned about slipping into humanism, that I think I lost my humanity, and the ability to recognize humanity in others. How can this happen? A little later, I'll address a fear that touches us all.
Humanism can be thought of as putting mankind at the center of the universe, or from an individual perspective, self-centered thinking. Humanism says that, God or anything outside of the human himself, is not needed to become a better human. I believe the opposite is true. Acknowledging a need for God is the first and most important way to become a better human. The original Designer and Creator of mankind knows best how his creation "ticks." In order for a builder to build a house, he must first have a detailed drawing (schematic) to work from. If a problem is encountered in the construction, or if repairs are needed after living in the house for some time, the original schematic is helpful to diagnose the problem. So it is with the human body, mind, soul, and spirit. We are complex beings that need a lot of help when it comes to growth and development. To be aware of our humanness does not automatically make us a humanist, but is in fact necessary to find true meaning in life.
I think much of the fear of becoming too humanistic is in reality, a fear of exposing something in your humanity that you won't know what to do with. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, "'Know thyself?' If I knew myself, I'd run away." It is normal to feel a bit apprehensive about exploring unknown areas of your personality or allowing yourself to experience God in a way you haven't before. But facing this kind of fear is necessary for personal and spiritual growth. In order to change for the good (better yourself), you must allow yourself to engage new thoughts and ideas.
Jesus introduced a new idea when he summarized the ten commandments into two by declaring,
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” First of all, awareness and surrender of heart, soul, and mind to God is most fundamental for discovering true humanity. Then, when you place God at the center of your being, you can accept who he made you to be so that you can “love your neighbor as yourself.” That is how you find yourself. The is the divine design for humans to express their humanity. We fulfill the commandments not by focusing on them, but by focusing on God (receiving His love) and focusing on sharing His love inside you with others (giving His love away).
Techniques of self-help, personal growth, and mindfulness are all secondary to the power of God driving positive change in a person's life. To be in touch with true humanity requires humility. Humility is most important of virtues. True humility presumes God-centered thinking and actions. When our deepest passions and motivations are submitted to God in humility, our actions will always produce good results. When God's love is completed in mankind, commandments aren't even needed!
Finding yourself, or finding your identity (who you are) and destiny (purpose for being) as a human, is what gives you meaning in life. And this meaning is found by relating to the God who designed a unique "blue print" for every human being created on earth, you and I included. The Psalmist explained, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be" (Psalm 139:13-16).
So when someone says something like, "You'll find yourself by looking within," they are correct, as long as we acknowledge God as the supreme authority. If we're looking within to find the person God made us to be, we are on the right path. If we're looking within, without the presupposition that God is the source and revealer of all truth, whatever we find will be deficient of God's intentions for our being. He gives us the choice. By choosing Him, we can find out who we really are. By rejecting him, we forfeit the discovery of our true self.
This is not a one time decision. It is a process of allowing our humanity (fleshly being) become more and more influenced by our spirit being. This happens by the God's Spirit breathing a rebirthing within our being. Jesus described it like this to a religious man, "truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. ... unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spiritgives birth to spirit.  You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘Youmust be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:3-8). As our relationship with God grows on our life journey, more and more of our identity and purpose is birthed into being. It matters not who we are, how well we think we know God, or how much (or little) we know aboutGod, We are all in the same condition. We must surrender to God (on a daily basis) those parts of our heart not yet surrendered to be reborn by his Spirit.
Finding God is the key to finding yourself. Then,
loving what you find,
is the key to,
living well in mind.
It is certainly God's desire that you seek, find, and choose Him. My prayer too, is that wherever you are in your journey, the light of His love overwhelms any darkness trying to keep more of you from being found.

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: http://bluerockbnb.com/healing/book_main.htm.

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry
The Author Ed Hersh blog is a ministry of Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry accessible at: http://healing.bluerockbnb.com

Overcoming Depression 4 Oct 2015, 5:03 am

 Depression can be thought of in two major categories—circumstantial and chemical malfunction.  Chronic depression caused by brain sickness is less common in the overall spectrum of depression experiences and will not be addressed here.  However, depressed mood is something every person faces at one time or another and can strike at any time.

Depression usually stems from unresolved disappointment.  Disappointments and losses occur in varying frequencies and intensities creating many different reactions and symptoms of body, mind, and heart.  If your depression is disrupting daily functions in your life, you should seek help from a trusted friend or counselor to avoid becoming a harm to yourself or someone else.  However, especially if depression is a fairly new occurrence in your life, be aware that depressed mood is very common (normal) and accompanies an often necessary process of grieving losses in life experiences. For example, if a close friend or relative of yours recently died, the physical loss is accompanied by emotional losses of the relationship.  The loss creates the need to acknowledge the impact of the event, deal with the realities, and adjust to find new hope and ways of having legitimate needs met.  This grieving process may include intense depressing thoughts and feelings before you can find a way to accept the changes and move on to a more rewarding life.
            Other losses such as health problems, job and career changes, relationship breakups, physical injuries, family turmoil, and faith shake-ups create similar normal depressive thoughts and feelings. Instead of denying or numbing the emotional impact, the healthiest path to adjustment includes dealing with the pain and difficulties.  The emotion of anger, for example, is often part of depression.   In my recent article called Anger Management or Anger Engagement I share more detail how to battle the anger.  http://authoredhersh.blogspot.com/2015/09/anger-management-or-anger-engagement.html.
 Besides depressed mood, the clinical definition of depression includes examining other symptoms such as excessive body weight gain or loss, sleeping more or less, psychomotor changes, fatigue, difficulty concentrating or thoughts of death.  Mental health experts agree on some common coping strategies such as increase physical activity, avoid isolating yourself from other people, engage in activities that once liked to do, watch a funny movie, and avoid punishing yourself for feeling bad.  Seeing a medical doctor to rule out physical problems is recommended.  These and all the coping mechanisms in the world will not be enough if one core issue is not dealt with. That issue is self concept.  A person’s perception of self-worth governs everything about a person’s behavior.  Our inner person health centers around our perceived worthfulness in view of God and other people around us.  Many of my blog articles show how this is true and the one I mention above on the topic of anger is especially relevant to depression. 
            As for me, I have discovered God’s love as the solution to my self worth dilemmas and a place of refuge to escape depression.  As part of my formal education in psychology, I discovered I fit the definition of clinical depression, but never had been diagnosed.  To this day I’ve never taken medication to treat depression (neither legal nor illegal substances).  My background includes severe injury during the birth process that caused me to live my life as a legally blind person.  I’ve overcome many challenges, but depression is something that lurks to steal the joy of the sweetest successes.  I sometimes identify with the Psalmist who asks, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” (Psalm 13:2)   
            Many peoples’ stories recorded in the Bible include symptoms of depression.  The Psalms in particular describe vivid bouts of depression and its close cousin, anxiety.  I read, sing, and interact with the Psalms each day to find Refuge from the storms of thoughts of defeat and disaster.  See http://authoredhersh.blogspot.com/2011/05/refuge-of-psalm-7.htmlfor an example.
            If you are dealing with depression may I encourage you to turn to God as the best source for hope for lasting change. Also seek help from a counselor who can point you in a Refuge direction.  If someone close to you is struggling with depression, consider how you may become more empathetic to this struggle so you can offer appropriate (non-condemning) help.  If you’re not affected by depression at the present time, praise God, and let God remove any emotional “baggage” so you are better prepared to weather well any storms of life that may be ahead.  Prevention is always the healthiest strategy (see http://authoredhersh.blogspot.com/2015/03/taking-out-trash.html). 
            May I encourage you to allow hope to rise within you.  Hope is a guaranteed way to overcome depression.  Personal growth expert Jim Rohn says, “Success is not something you pursue; it’s something you attract.  You attract success by becoming a more attractive person.”  I think this applies to hope as well.  You attract hope by becoming a more hopeful person.  Hope is more than wishful thinking.  There are always new things to learn, new skills to develop, new people to get to know, and new perspectives to discover about God and his love.  When expectations see failure, hope sees the substance for the future.  Hope can never disappoint.  Hope resolves uncertainties and puts depression in its place.

                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: http://bluerockbnb.com/healing/book_main.htm .

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry
The Author Ed Hersh blog is a ministry of Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry accessible at: http://healing.bluerockbnb.com

Anger Management or Anger Engagement 6 Sep 2015, 7:30 am


            Can anger be your friend?  It depends.  Anger is what I call a "surface" emotion.  Anger is only a messenger of a deeper inner message.  So, yes, if you are willing to be vulnerable enough to find out what that message is and respond appropriately, anger can actually be your friend.  If however, you allow your anger to turn to bitterness, resentment, rage, or revenge, anger can become the most destructive enemy imaginable. 
            People feel anger in different ways, with varying intensities, and for different reasons.  Feelings like disappointment, frustration, annoyance, irritation, aggravation, and infuriation are a normal part of the human experience.  But when these valid feelings of anger are rooted in things like self pity, critical judgment, or selfish ambition, invalid transgressions follow.   When, as a student for example, you receive a C grade on a test you thought you aced, being upset is valid, but it's your actions in response that identify your motivations.  If you respond by complaining about the test conditions, blaming the teacher, or justifying your incorrect answers to the questions on the test, the experience is likely to become a defeat.  If on the other hand, you receive the lower-than-expected grade as a motivator to improve your study habits or to seek help to understand the material better, the same experience can become an opportunity for growth and development. 
            Being aware of your behavior and making changes for the better (anger management) is a good thing.  But even better is making yourself vulnerable enough to explore origins of the anger feelings and engage resolution with a higher power outside yourself.  The deepest inner person growth occurs when you not only manage your responses, but you discover and root out the negative core thoughts and beliefs driving the feelings and actions.  When you believe your inner voice telling you that "You're not capable," "You're no good," "You'll never amount to anything," "You're not lovable," "You'll never belong," "You'll never get it right," etc., you will most assuredly act to fulfill those beliefs.  No matter how hard you try to change your behavior, if you do not change negative core beliefs you render yourself powerless to achieve the most lasting change for healthy growth. 
            Every human wants to know love and belonging.  What we believe about ourselves (self-concept) is shaped primarily by our experiences meeting needs of love and belonging. Our deepest hurts have to do with lack or fear of lack of sustainable love and acceptance.  To the degree we perceive this scarcity we become angry with ourselves or our world until we can regain enough perceived worth to go on.  Hence, when you grant yourself the vulnerability to feel beyond the surface of anger, the emotion of shame is the most revealing. 
            A topic big enough for another conversation is the role of shame in our belief system.  Shame and vulnerability researcher Brene Brown defines shame this way, "Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging" (see her book Daring Greatly).  Shame is an emotion packed with pain and a powerful motivator.  All negative thoughts and feelings about ourselves are connected somehow to lack of self-worth which presents itself as shame.  Shame is different from guilt.  Guilt is based on what I do, whereas shame is based on who I am.  Confusing the two has the effect of meshing our performance with who we are as a person.  A perosn's  worth is not based on his performance, but solely on the fact that he is human.  
            When sorting out anger responses, it is essential to make this distinction.  Are you mad at a person's actions (whether yourself or another), or have you fused his actions with who he is as a person?  Are you perceiving him as transgressor or jerk (guilt-based or shame-based judgment)?  A person can behave differently to correct guilt, but performance cannot correct shame.  Love corrects shame.  Humans are wired for love and belonging so that love and belonging corrects shame.  Shame expressions in things like self-pity, critical judgment, or selfish ambition mentioned above are often very hard to detect.  We are good at hiding shame.  Expressing anger is Ca very common way of masking shame.
            When you catch yourself being critically judgmental of a person (instead of just his actions) here is another scary thought.  This shaming of the person is the result of your very own shame being tapped into.  You cannot shame another without first shaming yourself.  To condemn another is to condemn yourself.   If you are serious about being a more courageous, compassionate, and connecting person, I highly recommend reading the book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are  by Brene Brown. 
            Our world seems to present more opportunities for disappointment and anger-producing feeling every day.  One of three choices will determine your future.   One, denyinganger only sets you up for bigger problems later.  Two, managing anger provides some temporary coping mechanisms.  Three, engaging the underlying emotion through vulnerability will banish or dissolve anger's destructive flames. 
            For followers of Christ anger is not  automatically conquered when you first welcome God into your life.  The ultimate act of vulnerability is to receive God’s son Jesus, not only as the One who frees from the guilt of transgression, but also bears our shame (Isaiah 53:3).   Growing in your relationship with God involves growing in your vulnerability and surrender to God's ways.
            It's okay to feel.  It's okay to feel uncomfortable feelings.  It may seem scary to let yourself intentionally feel your anger in order to find deeper feelings of lack and unworthiness, invalidation, powerlessness, incompetence, unlovableness, loneliness, fear of not belonging, self-rejection, and other shame-based thoughts and feelings.  May I encourage you to be vulnerable today.  Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness.   It takes courage to meet the weakness of anger with the strength of vulnerability.  No one else can do this for you.  Put anger in its place, each time it tries to invade your space.

                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: http://bluerockbnb.com/healing/book_main.htm .

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry
The Author Ed Hersh blog is a ministry of Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry accessible at: http://healing.bluerockbnb.com

Same-Sex Distraction 2 Aug 2015, 5:08 am



            The U.S. President visited Kenya last week with a message of homosexual rights as part of his agenda.  They warned him before his arrival not to bring up the subject,, but he did not respect their wishes.  Kenyans have it right to believe homosexuality distracts from personal health and healthy social relationships. 
            The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision attempting to redefine marriage is folly gone over the edge.   I believe this kind of a decision is more a rejection of God than it is about so-called same-sex attracted couples.  When a person loses his attraction to his Creator, he inevitably becomes more attracted to lust than to love.  True love does not seek self-fulfillment, but the fulfillment and best outcome for another.  Since God IS love, and Love defines marriage, there is no place for lust in marriage. 
            Attraction is based more on desire than on love.  Therefore, attraction is very vulnerable to lust (illegitimate desire) which is the opposite of love.  Physical attraction is not a bad thing, but when it is confused with love, it becomes highly distractive to true love (both heterosexual and homosexual).  God created mankind with desires.  He also created man with the ability to choose between God's way of fulfilling those desires and man's own ways of fulfilling the desires.  So-called same-sex attraction is a choice--a choice to lust not to love.  Opposite sex attraction consummated in sex outsideof marriage is a choice--a choice to lust not to love. 
            Not only did God create marriage for the expression of true love, but the gift of expressing true sexuality which results in pro-creating the race.  Confusing gender roles distracts from God's purpose for human sexuality.  Two men together or  two women together cannot create a baby.   So, while lust detracts and distracts from love, same-gender sexuality detracts and distracts from true sexuality. 
            I understand some reading this will consider some of my statements as insensitive and perhaps unloving.  My intent is to be direct, but very sensitive and very loving.  Sometimes the truth is hard to accept for whatever reason.  God's love transcends man's willingness and ability to receive it.  But when man's perception of love becomes more like God's perception, a change of heart can transform thinking and behaving patterns to become more genuinely sensitive and loving.  I am writing this because I care for the many who get caught in the trap of thinking same-sex attraction is merely a biological issue leaving them powerless to choose otherwise.  Frankly, that is a lie! 
            As a certified counselor, and as a person who can attest to the possibilities of behavioral pattern changes, I can confidently assure you that change is possible when you remain open minded, and especially with the help of God directing the process.  A very tiny minority of same-sex attracted persons may have a medical problem at its source, but for the vast majority, an underlying self-image problem is at the root.   Again, same-sex issues present a distraction from reckoning with the root causes of a person's low self-concept.  If that idea is new to you, you can read some of my other blog posts to see how inner person health begins with inner self evaluation and change.
            I would encourage you not to be distracted from the real issue.  Don't be distracted from God's love.  Evangelist Billy Graham warns in his preaching and writings  that our eternal soul is at stake.  Heaven and hell are real places.  Not only is thumbing your nose at God unhealthy, but it is irreversibly deadly and eternally tormenting.  God is our Refuge.  There is safety in God's love.  Only foolishness would allow something like sexual lust to win your heart over  (away from God's love).  The only safe sex is chaste sex.   Whether homosexual OR heterosexual, sexual relations outside the covenant of God-defined marriage are defiant actions against His design for mankind.  True meaning and purpose in life is found by surrendering your heart to God's love. 
            If you feel like a mess-up, no problem.  It's never too late to turn around.  Simply believe in Jesus and trust His way, not your own.  Allow yourself to be vulnerable to the God who loves unconditionally and without fail.  This kind of love is powerful enough to feel like heaven on earth, and worth far more than all the distractions this world can offer. 

                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: http://bluerockbnb.com/healing/book_main.htm . 


by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry
The Author Ed Hersh blog is a ministry of Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry accessible at: http://healing.bluerockbnb.com

Taming Ethnic Tensions 5 Jul 2015, 4:44 am


            Seems like just about every conflict between people is being spun by the popular media in America as "racist."  To read more about abuses of the media to propagandize so-called "race" relations, read the book called Mugged: Racist Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama by Ann Coulter.  One of the fallouts of this propaganda is the emboldening of some individuals who truly harbor hatred in their hearts based on skin color and ethnic background.  The gunman at the A.M.E. church in Charleston, SC two weeks ago seems to be one of these persons.  His actions left nine people dead and grieving families and community members for a lifetime.  Relatively few people allow their hatred to be expressed to this extreme, but it is however, very common for most people to critically prejudge and misjudge people of differing culture and ethnic background. 
            Or is it that only people of ethnic groups other than your own have problems with prejudice?  Is it okay to talk about cultural differences as long as your own cultural beliefs are not challenged as undesirable?  Most people believe they are more open to cultural and ethnic differences than they really are.  The reason is that core beliefs are so rooted in our psyche that we cannot even imagine life different from what is already familiar to us.   An example of two views of the world finding it difficult to communicate would be like an Amish person who never left the family farm in Lancaster, PA understanding the world of a New York City dweller depending on modern technology and street-wise mobility. 
            Many obstacles exist to overcoming cultural and ethnic differences and tensions.  If we somehow overcome the first obstacle of identifying and owning a view of the world that is different from our own, we immediately butt against a second obstacle.  That is, comparing in order to make value judgments.  We elevate our human judgments to supreme authority rather than yielding to the supremacy of God Almighty.  
            From a Christian world view, the God as known in the Bible is the ultimate Judge and supreme authority.  He is all-powerful, yet all-personal, creating each individual human being to bear his image and unique expression of personhood.  Each person is responsible to find and fulfill the innate meaning he or she uniquely contributes to the universe.  God places individuals in families, and families in communities, and communities in a global interdependence. 
            God is the giver of life.  All human life is created equal thus there is only one human race.    Life's deepest meaning is found in honoring God, and other human beings.  Because the first sin of Adam and Eve broke their perfect relationship with God, every person is born since then with a skewed perception of God, himself, and other people.  Like orphaned children the identity and protection of Father's love has been removed.  The default nature of each person born into the human race is sinful and motivated by shame and guilt.  Mankind is helpless and this condition can only be corrected by God himself.  God our Father restores us to son or daughter status only through His very own Son Jesus Christ.  By believing in Jesus we are born again into a new life with our guilt forgiven  and shame washed away. 
            This new life does not mean perfection or a pain-free life.  If means we have begun a process of becoming a son or daughter of a perfect God of justice and mercy.  This process involves change of both our mind and heart.  Our fundamental makeup as a human being does not change, but we must surrender to Father our perceptions of God, ourselves and other people to be changed.  God is our most valuable resource to be able to better see the value in cultures and ethnicity different from our own.  We need God's help (through his Holy Spirit) to recover our God-given identity and purpose for being.
            God also created in each individual a need to relate to other individuals for completion of their identity and purpose.  This need to relate extends to families, communities, and entire race of human beings.  No man, family, or community (culture or ethnicity) is an "island."   The Bible speaks of followers of Jesus as a Body.  Even more so than other people groups, Christ's Body should model diversity of ethnicity working together as one body for the betterment of all parts. 
            So how does a person see past their own cultural blinders and wrestle with their value system to know how to change?  A person's well-intentioned beliefs and values  do not automatically produce  actions that line up with those values.  This is where many people get stuck.  They know and want to do what is right, but for a variety of reasons (too numerous to discuss here), fail to follow through.  Treating others with dignity and equality requires a motivation of love.  Peter in the Bible writes, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8).  But as noted above, we must contend with our default negative human responses.  Love does not come natural, but takes a lot of effort to practice.  A primary enemy of love is critical judgment.  whether a person is a Christian or not, critically judging and condemning others (done by individuals or groups is the single most destructive force behind cultural and ethnic conflict).
            Critical judgment surfaces through one of three main forms--complaining, blaming, and justifying.  Examples of complaining are complaining of other people seemingly enjoying a better lifestyle than you, easier access to opportunity, or a privileged status of perceived superiority.   Blaming might include labeling another group as trouble makers, not taking responsibility for your own part in causing strained relations, or repeatedly pointing out others' faults without admitting your own.  Justifying may include holding bitterness and resentment instead of forgiving, requiring someone else to change before you consider changing your own behavior, or making excuses for your own prideful or vengeful actions toward others.  Instead of allowing ourselves to complain, blame, or justify, we should take steps to get the facts, assess what can or cannot be done about a problem, and do our best to stay focused on positive change.
            Ethnic tensions are tamed when individuals are willing to look at the roots of their critical judgments.  A most important question becomes, "What core values, beliefs, and assumptions are unconsciously driving your  thoughts, feelings, and behavior?"  If the default direction is toward the negative (as discussed  above), it takes a heart transformation to reverse the patterns.  The root of all ethnic conflict can be traced to the condition of the hearts of the individual people in the groups.  All mankind has the same heart tendencies irregardless of skin color, cultural background, physical distinctives/ limitations, or ethnic preferences.
            OR, since the heart condition is the core issue, another way of  looking at ethnic tensions, is that it's not about the ethnicity at all. It's just about people differences. Ethnicity becomes just one of those differences to complain about, blame someone for, or justify away a fundamental poor heart condition.  Yes, ethnicity (parent's background) is the strongest influencer of who we are in terms of personality, socio-economic status, and outlook on the future.  That's why it's become popular in the media to propagandize so-called racial tensions.  They are messing with peoples' emotions, because they understand the heart tendency to complain, blame, and justify.   Hopefully after reading this you won't be fooled by them any more!  
            Especially during the last 15 years of my life, I have made a special effort to develop some significant relationships with people other than my own skin color and ethnic background.  My experiences with these people have been very enlightening and rewarding. I've discovered as much, and perhaps more, about myself and my own biases as I have discovered those of other people.  Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as saying, "The only way to have a friend is to be one."  May I leave you with a challenge not to merely tolerate people different than you are, but befriend them! 

                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: http://bluerockbnb.com/healing/book_main.htm . If you get anywhere near Pennsylvania for vacation or on business, be sure to look us up for lodging at  http://bluerockbnb.com 

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry
The Author Ed Hersh blog is a ministry of Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry accessible at: http://healing.bluerockbnb.com