Blue Rock Bed & Breakfast

72 Blue Rock Rd, Lancaster, Pennsylvania 17551
Innkeeper(s): Ed and Stephanie Hersh
  • Welcome to Blue Rock Bed & Breakfast

    Welcome to Blue Rock Bed & Breakfast

  • Relax in the Living Room

    Relax in the Living Room

  • Sun Suite

    Sun Suite

  • Dutchman Suite

    Dutchman Suite

  • Family Suite

    Family Suite

  • Our Dining Room

    Our Dining Room

  • Complimentary Home Cooked Breakfast

    Complimentary Home Cooked Breakfast

  • Innkeepers Ed and Stephanie Hersh

    Innkeepers Ed and Stephanie Hersh

 

Parabolic Soil 3 Aug 2014, 5:08 am


            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 seedsfell 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 seedrepresents 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: 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

Forgiving to Health 6 Jul 2014, 5:04 am

             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: 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

Happiness 1 Jun 2014, 5:58 am


            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 hopefounded 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: 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

Solutions to Fear 4 May 2014, 7:09 am


            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: 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

Nothing to Fear 5 Apr 2014, 9:57 am


            The topic of fear could be considered from many different perspectives.  In this article I would like to focus on simply identifying it.  
            Some fear is legitimate.  For example, when harm or danger is sensed, fear helps to spring the body into corrective action.  Feeling fear is not always a bad thing.  But just the mention of the word "fear" itself strikes fear in the hearts of some people.  Some people struggle with excessive amounts and intensities of fear.  But the common ordinary fears that most people face on a daily basis can be managed or corrected for a better quality of life.
            There is a famous quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt that says, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."  I believe that irrational fears can be conquered and replaced with peace of mind and heart.  In order to feel a greater sense of peace and calm in your life, it is necessary to identify the root cause(s) and apply root solutions to these causes.  If you are willing to face the pains and deal with the roots, there truly is nothing to fear about fear. 
            Psychologist Susan Jeffers in her book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway shares that fear is not the problem as much as how we hold fear.  We hold on to painful feelings and become trapped.  Jeffers explains a way to identify fear by contrasting feelings on a pain vs. power chart.  Feelings of pain consist of helplessness, depression, and paralysis while feelings of power create power, energy, and action.  For example, "I can't" are words spoken from a position of helplessness, while "I won't" speaks of an ability to choose.  Allowing your inner thoughts to dwell on "Life is a struggle"  instead of "Life is an adventure" keeps you focused on difficulties instead of opportunities.   Dwelling on "if only" creates paralysis, while exploring "next time" helps you take action in a different direction.  All unhealthy fear in your life is identified by some version of "I can't handle it."  Fears says that somehow, something, or someone will create unbearable pain for you.   
            In a book called The Life Model by James Friesen and other authors, they discuss relationships in reference to fear bonds vs. love bonds.  Fear bonds are characterized by humiliation, desperation, shame, guilt, and/or fear of rejection, abandonment, or other detrimental consequences while love bonds are characterized by truth, closeness, intimacy, joy, peace, perseverance and authentic giving.  Fear bonds may require deceit and pretending while love bonds pervade in disclosure and truthfulness.  A fear bond is avoidance driven (bonding because you want to avoid negative feelings or pain), while the love bond is desire driven (bonding because you want the best for the person).  Being honest with yourself about your true motives is something only you can do to identify pain and fear in your interactions with other people.
            An acronym for FEAR states, False Evidence Appearing Real.  The human mind is a powerful thing.  What the mind perceives to be true will become real in one way or another.  All falsehood is rooted in fear to some degree.  All unwarranted fear is based on falsehood in some measure.  Believing lies keeps a person in pain, brokenness, and fear.  Choosing power over pain, choosing brightness over brokenness, and choosing truth over falsehood may require some painful honesty and humility of heart before things get better. The process is similar to the need to clean an infected wound before the dressing for healing can be applied.  The lasting advantages in overcoming fear makes it worth the effort. 
            So allow yourself to discover your fears.  What is your heart sensing?  What is your mind thinking?  Here is a list of negative feelings and beliefs that are connected to fear:  afraid, agitated, anxious, cowardly, desperate, doomed, dreadful, dying, hysterical, indecisive, jealous, nervous, paranoid, panic, scared, suspicious, tentative, tense, terrified, tormented,  untrusting, and worried.  Perhaps more subtle, but fear responses may also include these feelings:  confused, cornered, crazy, defenseless, devastated, doubtful, embarrassed, exposed, humiliated, incompetent, intimidated, oppressed, rejected, tense, trapped, and weak.  Feeling these and many more like them does not have to create helplessness, depression, or paralysis in your  work, recreation, or relationships.
            What feelings in this list do you feel the strongest?  Is there a consistent pattern to when you feel them?  In what situation?  Around what person(s)?   These are common feelings.  They often have just enough of a hint of rationality mixed with the irrational to make you think you are receiving some benefit by holding on to them.  Don't be fooled.  Find out how to let go of your fear.  If fear hasn't influenced you to stop reading this article before this point, congratulations!  You're already making progress.  I have written posts on the blog site that help you with pursuing root solutions to root problems, but next time I will discuss more of how to find lasting peace and joy in place of fear.  

                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

Taking Care for Care-Givers 2 Mar 2014, 11:54 am


            Stress is common to all persons.  My previous post explained how those in the business of helping others can be at greater risk to miss signs of too much stress leading to disastrous results. Below I share some ways to alleviate the negative effects of stress in life and leadership activities.
            Again I refer to information provided by Dr. Eric Scalise from a seminar with the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC).  His 15 principles of self care (presented in a webinar in January 2014) are shared below.
            1.  Don't take your identity from your work:  Who you are as a person is not defined by what you do as a professional or valunteer.  For the Christian reading this, you are first a child of God.  Your sonship or daughtership is the most important thing about your being. It defines who you are and your purpose for being and doing.
            2.  Learn what it means to have joy:  Happiness is based on mood, while joy is intentionally made.  Joy is produced by cultivating a grateful heart.  Finding things for which to be thankful, in the midst of difficult circumstances, produces the fruit of joy.        
            3.  Learn to de-personalize the process, and limit your time around negative people:  Intentionally spend time around healthy people.  Consider your limitations for handling negativity.  No matter how spiritual we wish to be, our humanity cannot be ignored. 
            4.  Rest because God created rest:   Sabbath rest may mean something different to you than other people.  Discover the difference between things that drain you and things that energize you and spend appropriate time replenishing your strength. 
            5.  Sleep:  Recent research shows how sleep literally can regenerate your brain.  Depriving your body of enough sleep wears it down more quickly.  Consuming      caffeine before bedtime severely compounds the problem of too few sleep cycles per night.
            6.  Diet and exercise:  What you consume becomes what your body is made of.  Consume nourishing foods and your body is nourished.  Consume junk, and your body becomes junk.  Your body needs lots of water.  Drink water even when you're not thirsty. 
            7.  Learn to be silent and still:  Extended reflection and contemplation time is one of the most valuable yet least practiced activities of the day.  Luke 5:15-16 and other accounts show the example of Jesus in intentionally limiting ministry time.
            8.  Create outlets to avoid stagnation:   Nothing can live in the Dead Sea because it has no water flowing out of it.  Our spirit needs a life-giving flow out as well as a life-receiving flow in. 
            9.  Seek to give your burdens to God every day:   1 Peter 5:7 says, "Cast your cares upon him ..."   In Matthew 11:29-30 Jesus says, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me ..."  We should ask ourselves regularly, "Am I carrying a burden I should be giving to the Lord?"   Or, "Am I carrying someone's burden (for them) that I should be letting them give to the Lord?"
            10.  Learn to "triage" your daily events:   Not everything that is urgent is important, and not everything that seems important to others, is urgent for you.  Set priorities and stick to them.   Let others do things, especially things they can do more efficiently than you.
            11.  Learn to have realistic expectations:   It's not about you (whatever itis).  Life's meaning is found in pursuing God's design and purposes.  People you work with are at differing degrees of knowledge and motivation in that pursuit. 
            12.  Seek to resolve those things that can be accomplished quickly and easily:  Especially when you're stuck, don't work on the 20% of the more difficult tasks on your to-do list.  Fast and simple progress can help create inertia. 
            13.  Learn to manage your time by saying "no":   Set boundaries for yourself.  Don't get pulled into other people setting your boundaries for you.  There will always be people that have "important" things for you to do. 
            14.  Learn to delegate to others whenever and wherever possible:   Someone has said, "Cemeteries are full of indispensable people."  
            15.  Find one or two key people to whom you can be accountable:   Be completely honest, vulnerable, and transparent with someone close.  Isolation is the number one enemy strategy to take out a leader. 
            Let me encourage you to take some reflection time to take an honest and hard look at these qualities in yourself.  Ask someone close to you how they see your ability to achieve these things.  Most importantly, spend some time in prayer and listening to God for His direction in how to respond.   What is the specific item(s) God may want you to focus on right now at this point in your life?   What specific action steps will you take to pursue the change needed to be where you believe God would want you to be in a week?  month?  year?  
            Take care, to be all that God made you to be!

                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

Stress Relief for Helpers 2 Feb 2014, 2:24 pm

            Does it feel like helping others is sometimes hurting you more?  Are you taking deliberate steps to manage stress in your life? 
            Everyone experiences stress. Even good events like weddings, births, and graduations create stressful conditions.  Prolonged negative stress creates changes in your brain which steal your ability to think clearly and wear down your bodily functions.  Researchers have shown that upwards of 80% of doctor visits are somehow stress related.  The negative physical effects of stress will always lead to burnout if unattended to.  Health care workers, pastors, missionaries, first responders, and other leaders must give themselves permission to rest or their ability to care for others will disappear.  As my former professor Eric Scalise says, "If you're always last, you won't always last."
            People in the helping professions must pay special attention to stress because not only do they have to manage their own personal lives, the people they are trying to help often bring tough circumstances and great expectations for miracle solutions.  Helpers feel responsible to help people become successful.  When people do not live up to the helpers expectations, the helper can take it personally and carries too much of the responsibility.  Failed expectation is the primary cause of stress.  Not only do helpers have great expectations for themselves, but those being helped often have unrealistic expectations for helpers.  Leaders are not allowed to fail, right?  Perfection is often the measure of success for the person in charge.  Not only that, but if there are ten followers, there are likely at least ten views of perfection to live up to.  You can't please everyone and you can't let other peoples' expectations define yours.  Some may have legitimate expectations, but the composite effect of everyone is often impossible to meet. 
            For Christian leaders I recommend a book by Paul Cox entitled, Sacrifice the Leader: How to Cope When Others Shift Their Burdens onto You.  He helps you understand how to avoid situations, for example, when someone opens up to you about his or her burden and pain, and suddenly you find yourself distanced, ridiculed, or even blamed for issues for which you are not responsible.  Dr. Cox shares about inter-personal dynamics, listening skills, and steps a leader can take to avoid becoming the scapegoat for someone else's baggage.
            This winter is gripping many parts of our nation with record cold temperatures and more than average snowfall.  The other day I stared out my window gazing at the white back yard.  I could only imagine the green grass and luscious plants in the garden just 5 months ago.  For crops to grow here in the northeast, all four seasons are necessary to fulfill the growing cycle.  I was reminded that winter, for example, even with the cold and longer nights, serves a needed function of giving the soil rest and dormancy.  Each year winter anticipates summer and summer anticipates winter.  Seasons come and seasons go. 
            Human life also happens in seasons.  Sometimes it's difficult to discern the transitions between when a new season is coming and an older season is going.  The age old truth governs life, "What you sow is what you reap."  Good seed must be sown in good soil to have any chance of reaping a good harvest.  A season of harvest must be preceded by a season of preparation.  Most of us have no problem accepting that truth.  But another truth follows.  The harvest season is followed by a season of rest.  Most of us agree rest is a good thing, but how well do we practice it?  Our performance driven culture wants us to tolerate higher and higher levels of stress.  Those we're trying to help need examples of how to buck this trend. They need rested helpers.  They need helpers who will last more than one season of production.  Seasons of rest are needed between seasons of production.  Maybe it's time to consider what is keeping you from getting the rest you need.  
            There are two types of stress every care-giver deals with.  There is the stress of the service/ ministry, and then there is the stress you bring into the ministry.  Compassion fatigue is a term sometimes given to helpers who become weary in the service they perform.  But this stress is only compounded when the helper fails to recognize the stress of their personal lives they are bringing into their situations.  Who we are as a person cannot be separated from what we do and how we perform.  Most of us could benefit by looking inside to see what kinds of stress we are bringing into our circumstances. 
            In a webinar presented by the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) on January 14th, Dr. Eric Scalise shares six signs of being over-stressed. 
1. A preoccupation with stressed out people - If you tend to always gravitate to busy, extremely-hard-working, or other stress-accommodating type people, it is easier to remain blinded to your own stress.
2. Over indulge in "escape behaviors" -  Escape behaviors (addictions or things you over indulge in for satisfaction and comfort) can become a problem for you as a helper in the same way it is a problem for those you are trying to help.
3. Avoid intimacy and seek fantasy over reality - If you discover distance developing between you and those you love most, and need more fantasy/ entertainment to maintain your sanity, perhaps this says more about you than the other you are in relationship with.
4. Control everything and everyone in order to survive - Desire for control may indicate unhealthy fear-based reactions to people and circumstances.  Turning into a "control freak" only narrows and shrinks possibilities rather than expanding or enhancing them.  Protecting your need to be needed indicates misplaced identity in your role.
5. Justify actions by blaming others - Blaming may be a way of covering your own disappointment with failed expectations of yourself. 
6. Choose to leave or quit ministry - This may indicate a "flight" response which is rooted in something hidden and not yet discovered about how you can change as a person.
            Space does not permit me to unpack these more, but if some apply to you, you are likely bringing stress into your helping role.  Perhaps it is time to consider what should be done to reduce the stress.  In the next blog post I will share some ideas how to maneuver out of a season of stress and into a new season.

            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

Forgiveness 5 Jan 2014, 9:25 am


            Last month the world mourned the death of Nelson Mandela, a man known for his understanding and practice of forgiveness in the face of injustice.  
            In 2010 I finished a three year dissertation research project on the topic of forgiveness.  I subsequently authored a book (including much of that research) on the topic (see Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart).  In addition to these academic pursuits I have wrestled with this topic in my personal experiences both on the offending side and as one who has been offended.  Through counseling ministry I have also walked with many other people on their personal journeys of being victimized and having been in a victimizing role.  Having said this, even with my extensive knowledge of the topic, I still consider myself a learner in the midst of an inexhaustible subject.  In my estimation dealing with offense and forgiveness is one of the most misunderstood and mal-practiced of human experiences.
            How can forgiveness be so frequently talked about, read about, studied, and attempted while at the same time the actual fruit of forgiveness (joy and peace of heart) so often seems to slip out of reach?  I'll share a few thoughts here about why this is true, but my book does a more thorough job helping readers discover paths to true peace and joy in their lives.
            Racial equality advocate Nelson Mandela was a political prisoner over 2 decades in South Africa.  His heart attitude led to actions which made a huge difference not only for him but numerous people following his lead. He is quoted as saying, “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.”  He understood how bitter roots are formed from the seed of nursing wounds and grudges that grow in the human heart.  Left unchecked, bitterness will inevitably turn to resentment.  Mandela also says, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”  That is very true in a figurative sense, but it also holds true literally.  Research points to the connection between unforgiving emotions and the development and spread of bodily diseases like cancer. 
            Furthermore, resentment often moves down the slippery slope to create an atmosphere of revenge. Josh Billings turns this around when he says, "There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness."  When someone intentionally tries to cause harm but is answered with forgiveness instead of retaliation, a cycle of hurt and harm is immediately broken.  Abraham Lincoln once asked, " Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?"   Oscar Wilde remarks, " Always forgive your enemies--nothing annoys them so much." 
            So you genuinely want to forgive someone for the hurt they have caused you in the past.  Maybe you've already tried to forgive but it doesn't seem to work.  Lack of results is usually not caused by failure of forgiveness, but failure to understand what forgiveness really is.  Contrary to what many believe, forgiveness is not simply a choice.  It is not simply forgetting.  Author Louis Smedes writes, "Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future."  Forgiveness is not an exercise of the mind using willpower to shut off the emotions.   The lasting fruit of forgiveness requires a person's heart to be involved. 
            Forgiveness begins with love.  Love is more than having feelings toward another.  It is more than making a decision to care.  Love is an action.  True love is acting in the best interest of the other person.   "Forgiveness is choosing to love. It is the first skill of self-giving love," says Mahatma Gandhi.  In a book called Sonship: A Journey into Father's Heart, James Jordan writes a chapter entitled "Forgiving from the Heart."  I highly recommend his book for further reading.  Jordan explains how human beings are "wired" by their Creator for love and forgiveness.  Jordan writes, " He wants us to progress from choosing to forgive, to forgiving with love, and then to the place where we love to forgive. Moving far beyond forgiving as an act of the will, to forgiving endlessly from a heart that loves to forgive." 
            If you believe in God and you want a deeper relationship with Father, surrendering your heart to His love and forgiveness is essential.  Father God is the source of all truth. The fact of the matter is, no human being will ever fully be able to grasp how huge this topic is from God's perspective.  At some point, forgiveness comes down to trusting Father and His ways as totally right and just.  Forgiveness is surrendering to God the ultimate rights of judgment on whatever matter is in question. 
            Many believe they are justified in holding anger against someone who does them wrong.  "After all," they say, "If I forgive him, he would get off too easy," or, "He will just do it over again."  Again, this thinking stems from a misbelief about forgiveness.  Feeling anger is not wrong, but allowing anger to turn into hatred creates the bitterness that causes wrong.  Forgiveness does not mean you are giving up your right to hope for justice to be served, but it means you are giving up your right to be the "executor" of judgment.  
            I believe that a casual attitude towards unfounded anger (bitterness and resentment) is the primary root that keeps most people locked in their prison of unforgiveness.  A person holding unforgiveness in their heart generally falls into one of two categories.  The first is one who recognizes the bitterness or resentment he or she feels and knows s/he has to decide whether to take forgiving action or try to go on pretending things are okay.  The second is more difficult.  In this case, a person may have no immediate awareness of a wound or wrong done to him or her, but symptoms hint of a problem.  These symptoms may include troublesome moods like nagging frustration, irritation,  annoyance, disappointment, discouragement, or depression.  It may take the form of physical symptoms like persistent sleeplessness, loss of appetite, or body aches and pains.  This second category is quite common and not to be despised or feared.  The sooner you try to discover the root and take action towards forgiveness, the sooner new freedom can be found. 
            If you wish to change the atmosphere of your home, work place, church, and community, dare to lead in the practice of forgiveness and positive results you will see.  The ancient Proverb states,  "A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression" (Proverbs 19:11; NASB).


                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

Loss to Victory - Part 3 1 Dec 2013, 11:19 am


            Reading the April 7th and May 5th posts will give you background to understand this one better.  This post continues with more specific concerns and personal experiences on the topic.   
            In Part 2 I discussed the devaluation to human life and lowering of quality of life as evidenced by the acceptance of abortion in the past few decades. The trial last month of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell brings to the light some of the darkness surrounding the abortion industry. The formal charges centered around the deaths of four babies who were born and  could have survived had they been given medical attention and the death of a mother who overdosed on drugs administered by an untrained assistant. Emergency personnel trying to save the mother's life were barricaded from entry, at least in part to hide the evil proceedings going on inside the building.   Many say these types of conditions are the norm, not the exception, for abortion facilities.  If death is intended as the outcome for the baby, why should we be surprised of the unsanitary and illegal practices of abortuaries? 
            In a similar line of thinking, if our hearts become callous toward the plight of preborn children being treated unjustly, abused, and killed in their mother's womb, why would it surprise us that injustice, abuse, and social ills  in general would be occurring in greater numbers than ever in our society?   Three thousand years later, the truth of Psalm 41 still commands our attention: "Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the LORD delivers him in times of trouble" (v1).   The strength of a community is known by its weakest link.  There is a direct connection between genuinely helping the poor and needy and God's blessing and favor resting on a community.  I believe God calls his people (in our nation) to confess and repent for not taking this truth seriously enough (see previous posts).
Acceptance of abortion has led to the slippery slope of devaluing life and other things like euthanasia, infanticide, respect for gender of birth, and even the sacredness of marriage. Some people groups have been affected more than others. It is commonly recognized that  70% of abortion facilities are located in so-called 'minority neighborhoods.'  Certain ethnicities have been targeted more that others.
The casualness of abortion has also contributed greatly to a decline in love and respect for post-birth persons with disabilities.  Lives not worth saving in the womb has translated into lives not esteemed merely for their humanness. 
Pre-born children fit the category of persons with disabilities as well since their abilities to survive outside the womb are not developed.  In God's sight, worthfulness has nothing to do with ability  Romams 12 1-2  reminds us that offering our body to God is a spiritual act of worship.  All we have to offer is what God gave us to offer.  Psalm 139 tells us that He created us and formed us as he wills.  Therefore, our body as He created it should be respected and valued.   This view of our body is in contrast to a world view with emphasis being placed on performance and productivity.
            As a person with a visual impairment I am particularly aware of, and identify closely with, people in underprivileged classes. Society’s attitude towards people with disabilities is generally demeaning and lacking inclusively.  People with disabilities are generally viewed as “needy” only, instead of valuable contributors who possess a piece of what is needed for the community as a whole to thrive. Unfortunately, the Church seems to be as guilty as the society at large in the failure to provide people with disabilities dignity, opportunity, equality and empowerment. If the civil rights struggle to improve conditions for people with disability is compared to the civil rights movement of the ’60s—Rosa Parks being asked to give up her seat on the bus for a white person— might be compared to a person with a disability being told they shouldn’t be trying to board the bus. Lack of employment opportunities, poverty, and social isolation are common place and at much higher rates among this group than the public at large. There are some wonderful people doing some great things to address these problems. I would be remiss in failing to acknowledge and thank these persons. On the other hand, much of the assistance offered is patronizing because it fails to include the participation and contributions of persons with disabilities themselves.
            By default, as a member of the “disability community,” I have become an advocate forced to take occasionally unpopular positions on matters in the community at large. This is not a position I would choose, but by God’s grace I can help others bear their burden, to some degree at least.  For example, it took about three years for the process of installing an Accessible Pedestrian Signal (APS) at a dangerous traffic intersection in our local town.  Safety concerns; in general seem to receive more favorable attention for correction when they do not involve specific  concerns for the safety of persons with disabilities. Many communities flat out refuse to cooperate with accommodations for persons with disabilities.  I mention all this because participation in society as part of an “oppressed class” creates even more opportunities to understand and practice the grace of forgiveness and other topics of Refuge and healing.
            Jesus’ teachings consistently contrasted the physical realm with the spiritual. Most of the physical healings recorded in the gospels were performed with a direct message of spiritual healing. Jesus healed peoples’ eyesight to demonstrate the spiritual blindness of people of the day (particularly the religious). Our generation is no less “blind.” We are blind to the bitterness, resentment and blame in our hearts. Even God’s people are often blind to the power of forgiveness, and the world of freedom waiting outside the walls of the prison of darkness. “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but has no vision” (Helen Keller).
            Most profoundly, Jesus communicates this in the story of the man born blind that is healed in John chapter nine. I think many miss the main point of the story explained in the last few verses.
Jesus said ‘For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.’  Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, ‘What? Are we blind too?’  Jesus said, ‘If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.’” (John 9:39-41)

Blindness is the spiritual condition of those unable to surrender to God the right to judge the guilt of offense. Jesus opens spiritual eyes. Jesus only frees those from debtor’s prison who first see their captive condition. Those who think they see well enough without Christ’s intervention, are doomed to a life characterized by blindness. The parts of our heart not yet surrendered to Christ for Hisjudgment will grow like a cataract gradually creating greater degrees of blindness. There is no neutral territory. We allow the eyes of our heart to be opened wider to God’s message of forgiveness, overtaking the darkness, or we choose to close the eyes of our heart (being content in unforgiveness), surrendering to darkness.
            In the story mentioned above the physically blind man was accused by religious people of both having some sort of sin in his life, and not having enough faith to be healed (physically). They became trapped into thinking their physical sight qualified them to judge the “blind” man’s spiritual condition.  Hence Jesus warned, “now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”  Jesus was interested in healing the “whole person.” Understanding and practicing forgiveness is the centerpiece of spiritual vision and peoples’ freedom in Christ. I have experienced an incredible amount of healing in my own life. As I have allowed God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) to change my heart from the inside out, my responses to life circumstances improve; past, present and future. Triggers from past hurts no longer have the intensity they once did. Fellowship with God is more intimate because many blocks have been removed. The future looks brighter as God multiplies the seeds of my repentance (from ungodly judgments) to yield an increased harvest of good fruit.
I hope that something I may write serves to equip, challenge and motivate you to take the next step deeper in your commitment to restoring justice for those losing their lives to abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia.  And I pray, that the church will strengthen its resolve in the areas of teaching our children moral responsibility, cultivating family relationships, responding to people with disease, injury, or  disability, and helping the many emotionally and spiritually malnourished people whose needs can only be met through the life-changing power of Jesus Christ.
            Luke 19:10 says that Jesus, "came to seek and to save that which was lost" (NASB).  Everyone experiences losses in life.  Losses are painful and keep us mindful of our need for a Savior who has sought us out, and given us the ability to be restored.  The pain of physical loss is nothing in comparison to the eternal loss of separation from God. All are born into a condition of spiritual disability.  We choose to live in darkness (dis-ability), or we choose God's grace (his-ability).   I pray that you may know the enabling power of Christ to meet you at your point of spiritual, physical, or emotional disability.  "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" (Ephesians 3:16-17).

            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

Loss to Victory - Part 2 3 Nov 2013, 7:15 pm


            All personal growth involves change.  Experiencing loss as a result of minor or major changes in life circumstances is a common and expected part of being a human.  Hopefully you were able to take the time to answer the questions posed in part 1 of this post in order to identify recent losses in your life.  The goal here in part 2 is to help you determine how to recover and integrate these losses into a future that expresses hope and forward progress.

            Remember that a physical loss (eg. car, house, person) is generally accompanied by emotional losses with feelings such as abandonment, detachment, fear, shame, powerlessness, invalidation, hopelessness, rejection, failure, desperation, helplessness, insignificance, despair, indifference, and confusion.  These are "normal" reactions and not to be minimized or disregarded.  The process of letting go of these negative feelings is called grieving.  Every loss needs to be grieved regardless of how small or large.  Integrating change and reorienting behavior in a direction of growth and maturity requires self-honesty, intentionality, and time.

            Experts on grief commonly explain the process in five stages:  denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  Seldom is there a clearly ordered path through these five elements of the process.  The greater the loss, the more a person may skip forwards and backwards in the process. Parts of the loss may be processed through to acceptance and parts of the impact may still be hidden.  With losses involving trauma, conditions for grieving. are compounded.  The effects of trauma in a person's life may create additional issues in the grieving process not discussed here.

            Adjustment to a loss generally includes at least these four areas. First comes the initial impact.  This may take the form of shock, numbness or denial.  An overwhelming feeling that this can't really be happening is accompanied by the body's reaction to preserve, protect, and progress to the greatest degree possible.  Second, is wrestling with reality. The normal routines of life have been disrupted and the reality of disorganization is starting to set in.  Searching for answers to the "why" questions often lead to blame being (mis)placed upon self or others.  Various forms and degrees of anger and fear are aroused with realization that life hands a person many things out of his or her control, and that at any time something bad could happen again.  Third, is directly facing the pain.  This is the lowest point of the negative feelings and emotions listed above. Regrets, guilt real or perceived), and shame may seem unbearable but are common reactions.  Fourth, is the new life.  Hope begins to rise in this phase because new ways are being found to cope and relate.  The old world which no longer exists is replaced by a world  that may actually take us to a higher place than before the loss occurred.

            Giving yourself and others "space" to grieve is an important part of overcoming losses in life.  Expressing emotion is not a sign of weakness.  Crying, for example, can help unburden a heavy load of sadness that would otherwise remain bottled up.  Emotions can be viewed as messengers containing messages about deeper root issues.  Humans are created with emotion for a reason.  Feelings and emotions are a real part of a person's heart just like thoughts and ideas are a real part of a person's mind.   The thinking and feeling processes are unique to the individual.  Comparing yourself or a friend to another person's grieving process should be avoided.

            No two individuals grieve in exactly the same manner.  The same loss may strike different people in entirely different ways. In her book On Grief and Grieving, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross writes, "Your loss and the grief that accompanies it are very personal, different from anyone else's. Others may share the experience of their losses. They may try to console you in the only way they know. But your loss stands alone in its meaning to you, in its painful uniqueness." 

            Asking yourself probing questions like the following may help you get to a greater level of freedom.  What losses have you grieved?  What losses have you perhaps partially grieved, but some pain still remains indicating more grieving is necessary?   Are there any losses you may still be completely in denial about?  Do you regularly feel any of the negative feelings in the list above?   How strongly do you feel it, and how is it affecting your relationships?

            Only you can grieve your losses.  No one else can grieve them for you.  May I encourage you to allow yourself to grieve.  If you do not grieve losses, they will continue to grieve you.  Allow yourself to feel the pain, identify what you are feeling, and wrestle through it.  There is light and hope on the other side.  Allow yourself to receive the light and focus on the light (new world).  Try to look more ahead and less backwards.  Decide what you can doand can be, rather than on what you can't do and can't be.  Set some goals and make plans to take action in the direction you decide to go. 

            If it feels like you're stuck in the pain, seek help to discover a pathway through it.  Life can be difficult, but like I have discussed in previous posts, and as the saying goes, where there is a will, there is a way.  I believe you were made to make a way; created to bring meaning and purpose to a lost world so that losses (perceived or real) can be turned into victories.

 

            Note:   The holidays coming up can be an especially difficult time for those coping with the loss of a loved one.  For some practical suggestions on how to better cope with the activities of the season, check out Patti Anewalt's remarks in the November-December 2013 newsletter of Pathways at:   


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