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

 

Trash Leads to Crash 5 Apr 2015, 8:00 am


            This is part two of a three part trilogy on "trash talk."  Part one discussed some of the ways to allow pain to expose unhealthy patterns of thinking and tolerating garbage in our mental and emotional life.  In this article I show how these patterns create diseases that destroy our quality of life and the next article will show how to protect and overcome the destruction. 
            We looked at the example of King David in the Old Testament.  The Bible describes how this godly man allowed trash thoughts and actions to wreck his life and the lives of those around him.  His unchecked desires led to inappropriate entertainment, which led to womanizing, which led to adultery, which led to murder and a cover-up, which all shortened his kingship and damaged his legacy.  This raises a question, "How could David, chosen by God himself to be king,  experience such a hard crash?"   How could a person identified as "a man after God's heart" (1 Samuel 13:14),  become vulnerable to such evil actions?    Merely asking this question hopefully sobers us to some degree into considering our own vulnerability. 
            The Bible offers some valuable insight into the susceptibility of the heart of mankind. Jesus himself taught extensively about inner person health, and shared  many stories to reveal his listeners' true heart condition.  In the first book of the New Testament, the gospel of Matthew 5:21-22 says, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell."  Jesus is making a very strong connection between holding anger towards a person and the wicked act of killing.  The feelings of anger are not sinful, but allowing anger to turn into bitterness, hatred, and resentment leads to cancer and evil.  The word 'Raca' in this text is similar to the word 'jerk.'  When we turn our attention from judging a person's actions, to critically judging his/her intentions or motives, we are considering them a jerk, and thus unworthy of their Creator's personhood. 
            For example, let's say your boss turns you down for a job promotion.   You may disagree with him/her about your past performance, potential duties, or other specific details of projects.  Your assessment (judgment) may be that the boss isn't understanding, fair, or best for the organization.  Instead of engaging the conflict to work through the differences, you decide to hold your opinions to yourself.  When your "judging" crosses the line to thinking of your boss as a "jerk," you begin to kill the relationship.  Your dislike of actions turns to embittered heart toward the person.  It may happen at once or on a slippery slope.  Perhaps your disappointment causes you to have a keener ear for other people's disagreements with the boss, and you participate in bad-mouthing and rumors (slander and gossip).  Your performance may slip because your attitude towards your work stinks.  Your boss is forced to confront you for a performance issue, and you react with complaining more about him/her, blaming someone else's faults, or justifying your own bad behavior.  Now your bitterness and hatred is turning to full blown rage and it's harder to control your emotions.  You "snap" at other people in your life (co-workers, roommate, spouse, kids) and maybe for comfort you turn to an old bad habit (addiction) you kicked a while ago.  If you're still blaming your boss for all this trouble in your life, your rage and resentment could turn to retaliation, and before you realize it, you're thinking about harming your boss (or someone else).  If these "trash" thoughts and feelings are not interrupted, they could develop into an act of revenge.  That's how trash leads to crash.
            Again, feelings of anger are not automatically a bad thing. Anger (as with many emotions) is a messenger.  Anger is trying to tell you something about a deeper problem of unresolved stress, unmet legitimate needs, or residual shame and guilt. 
Anger is often a "trash detector" emotion.  Failing to pay attention to the message and original source of the anger can entrap the heart and mind in a prison of harmful thoughts and emotions. 
            The last week of February 2015, brought a very sad and cold reality to Lancaster County. Similar scenarios to the above played out in real life in our community.  In two separate incidents, a community leader committed murder.  One is a former pastor of a congregation who looked to him for shepherding.  The other was an assistant principal in a high school with youth looking up to him for guidance.  It is difficult to comprehend how something this horrible can happen.  The families are let to deal with the trauma of the events, but the community is also traumatized. 
            We must remember that these events are "abnormal."  We must guard against these particular leaders' failures from casting an overall critical judgment upon all authority figures.  "Who can we trust?" is a very valid question, for example, but assuming that all leaders are untrustworthy because of the actions of a few, will not serve our community well.  Failure to trust good, solid, trustworthy leaders opens the door even wider for predator-type "leaders" to make their move.  Trustworthy leaders are worthy of the trust of their followers, and the vast majority of community leaders have paid a price to be in the position they occupy--positions earned by trust. 
            Though these tragedies are a very small part of the "big picture," it is worth looking at how they occur to try to keep them from happening.  I mention them to show that just as in the time of King David in the Old Testament, leaders today are also at great risk for moral and personal failures.  When leaders crash, the fallout can be devastating to a community.  Understanding the magnitude of the problem can help the grieving process back to normalcy.   Leaders are judged by their outward performance, but on the inside, their inner person is made of the same stuff as all mankind. 
            We try to conceal pain.  We don't try to be a bad person.  But concealing pain (not dealing with the trash) will lead people to do bad things.  So, in order to intentionally be a good person, we must intentionally deal with conflict and pain.  There is much wisdom in the Proverbs and other parts of the Bible about finding answers on how to do this.   In chapter 5 of the gospel of Matthew quoted above, Jesus taught how to avoid murder by acknowledging anger and turning away from calling people jerks.  In the verses following, Jesus shows adultery (going to bed with a person not your spouse) occurs in your heart (with no physical act involved).  He says, "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’   But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:27-28).  Looking is not automatically lust, but allowing sexual desire to take your thoughts and feelings to a place only meant for your marriage partner is adultery.  "Moral failures," or "affairs" (euphemisms for adultery) do not occur only with the physical act of sex, but with the first expression of the wayward heart (ie. flirting, emotionally connecting, meeting alone, fixation).  Similar to justifying anger, entertaining lust is like trash that will lead to crash.
            The scenarios above may play out in many variations.  Instead of a boss, it could be any authority figure including a family member or church leader.  In the Church, the incorrect notion that, "Christians are not supposed to feel anger" can hinder the trash collection process.  Over spiritualizing or blaming too much on the devil can also be a common way to evade taking responsibility for inner person health. 
            In sum, the health of our heart determines the health of our entire being. Keeping the heart as free from trash (encumbrances, unresolved stress, and cancerous thought and feelings) as possible will assure the highest quality of life.  May I encourage you each day to take a few moments and briefly examine your heart condition before God.

                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 Out the Trash 1 Mar 2015, 7:11 am


            One of the services of local municipal government in America is trash disposal.  What happens when you neglect to put out on the curb your property's trash container for the weekly pick-up?  It becomes all the more smelly during the next week!  Dealing with the trash may not be a favorite chore, but it must be done;  distributing containers in appropriate spots throughout the house, trash can liners inserted, emptied at least once a week into the curb-side pick-up containers (also lined so hopefully it doesn't need scrubbed every week because of the smell), maybe more or less steps (depending on your standards of cleanliness), and finally, taking the household container to the curb.
            As much as we may dislike the trash removal chores, the alternatives are certainly worse.  Neglecting to remove spoiled food from the refrigerator or soiled diapers from the baby’s room, will create smelly consequences.  And the germs ....  Unclean environments create unhealthy conditions which make unhealthy, sick people.  Proper handling of trash is an essential part of maintaining a healthy household and living a healthy life.  It is a faithful physical reminder of an emotional and spiritual process in our lives.
            Our physical being can be thought of as a "house" we live in while we exist on earth.  Our mental and emotional well-being determines in great measure the condition of our "house" (individual person) and our "neighborhood" (family, friends, etc.). When talking about mental and emotional health, “taking out the trash” may have a slightly different meaning for different people.  Prolonged mental or emotional pain usually means there is some sort of "trash" to be removed.  The trash in this case is likened to some sort of inner woundedness.  We live in a broken world with broken people acting out their brokenness towards their environment (including other people), thus creating more wounding and brokenness.  This cycle affects every person without exception.  Since the beginning of sin's entry into the world, mistreatment, injustice, and even abuse are to be expected.  The hurt we feel as a result does not mean we are weak, just human.  Trying to be "tough," by ignoring or minimizing the effects of mental and emotional pain can create far more significant long term damage than paying attention to it right away.  Pain is not the problem.  Pain is only a messenger.  Heeding pain's message by acknowledging and working it through will help prevent trash buildup in your inner person.  Does this sound like a smelly or frightening chore?  Do not despair.  We have hope in a "trash hauler" even for this kind of trash. 
            The difficult part of this scenario is that until the pain becomes unbearable, mankind is wired to resist inner person trash removal "chores."  Human nature prefers familiarity even when the familiar becomes unhealthy.  Brokenness is accepted and even sometimes celebrated before the ugliness of its unhealthy qualities are discovered. This phenomenon, at least in part,  explains why a person abused as a child will often select abusive people to hang out with as an adult. 
            One of the most prominent examples of someone not taking out the trash in his heart, is  the ancient King David.  What began as unintended (and unchecked) thoughts and feelings ended up with intentional deception, adultery and murder.  David wasn't tuned into the trash until a prophet named Nathan shared a story with him that revealed the truth.  One "misjudgment" upon another was, in reality, one sin upon another (ie. idleness, complacency, visual stimulation, conversation, flirting, lust (confused as love), sweet-talking a woman not his wife (victimizing), affair (adultery), hiding affair, inappropriate suggestions (trickery & manipulation), half truths (lying and cover-up), commanding army (misuse of power, killing, & murder).  See the book of 2 Samuel chapters 11 and 12 in the Bible to read the details.  David and the entire nation of Israel had to suffer grave consequences because of his actions.  What began as "bad judgment" ended in a hard crash.  In my next blog post I plan to talk more about how trash held in a person's heart can lead to this kind of crash.
            For now, let me say that holding anger, bitterness, resentment, envy, jealousy, shame, self-bitterness, worry and other negative feelings create destructive forms of trash that defile our personhood (Hebrews 3:12; 12:15).   Jesus taught that our sinful thoughts and attitudes are as serious as our actions (Matthew 5:21-22).  Sometimes we even try to justify actions as "gray areas," to make excuse for what we know is wrong. 
            If you experience lingering unrest in your soul, conflict in a relationship, mood swings, worry, doubts about who you are or your purpose for being, or other negative feelings that leave you confused or doubtful about the future, let me encourage you to make a commitment to finding the source and getting rid of the trash.  Here are some questions to ask yourself to help with this task.

  • Is there a person(s) in your life you try to avoid having contact with? 
  • Is there someone you are focused on to meet a need in your life, but they do not seem to share the same commitment or provide assistance? 
  • Do you have a habit you are afraid to admit might be an addiction? 
  • Are you not eating or losing sleep because of an obsession to success on a work project? 
  • Are you dabbling in something that you are afraid will ruin your reputation if the wrong person finds out about it? 
  • Is there a particular place, specific event, or regular activity, that triggers negative feelings (especially with unknown reason)?
  • Do you occasionally stretch the truth (tell a lie) for "convenience" sake? 
  • Are different people trying to tell you the same thing about a part of your character that you really don't want to hear? 
  • Do other people think you are less open minded as you believe you are? 
  • Are you addicted to porn or some substance but don't know what to do about it? 
  • Do you think about killing yourself or someone else in order to solve a problem?   
              The more questions to which you answer "yes," the more likely your standards of "heart cleanliness" may be deficient.  It also means you may be at greater  risk for doing something dangerous or tragic.  If the task of removing the trash seems too overwhelming, seek help from a trusted friend and competent counselor.  If you are planning right now to harm someone, go Immediately to an ER (emergency room).  DO NOT HESITATE! 
            If you are a confessing Christian (trusting Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord), you are not automatically exempt from the task of taking out the trash.  In all reverence and respect for what Christ accomplished through his death and resurrection, let us recognize that Jesus came to be our trash hauler.  He saves us from our sins, and heals the  pain of the consequences of the sins (Isaiah 53:4).  Our trash is hauled away through repentance.  We put our trash in a container and turn it over to him.   Confession and repentance is obviously recognized as a means to receive forgiveness of a grievous sin like murder, but we also need to repent even if we have simply harbored wrong attitudes and thoughts and committed less heinous actions. 
            Jesus is the way into Father's presence where there is no trash to be encountered.  You are now on a journey to receive more and more of God's presence with Father as the destination.  Your conversion experience did not remove all the trash at one time.  It began the process of taking out the trash that keeps you from having a more intimate fellowship with Father God (even now before your final destination is reached). 
            If you need help from a counselor, it does not make you less of a Christian.  If you are a leader, you are at even greater risk.  Do not allow pride to minimize the dangers.  A crash similar to King David's would not only hurt your own life, but many others as well. 
            God wants the trash gone even more than you do.  God wants to know you as he made you in his original design before trash (sin) entered the world.  Oh to know God, and be known by Him.  That should be our greatest motivator of all for taking out the trash!    

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

Le Rucher, Trachselwald, and Reconciliation 1 Feb 2015, 6:30 am


            Last month my wife and I took a trip to Europe.  We visited Le Rucher Ministries for a week where I participated in training with a model of debriefing for missionaries.  Le Rucher http://lerucher.org offers an excellent program for missionaries and Christian leaders to process changes and events in their lives to help them effectively continue their service. 
            Because our visit took us to Switzerland, we decided to explore some of the sites related to what is known in Church history as the Reformation.  The Anabaptists (re-baptisers) are traced back to Zurich where the first adult baptism took place on Januray 21, 1525 near the Great Munster cathedral then pastored by Ulrich Zwingli.  Because Anabaptist beliefs conflicted with the state-run church, they endured severe persecution for their faith and many were forced to flee their homeland to take refuge elsewhere.  Some of them came all the way to America to find freedom to practice their religious faith.  Lancaster County Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers were mostly among this group of freedom seekers. 
            Desiring to research more of my own faith and  family roots, last year I discovered the maternal side of my family has a direct link to a Martin family who fled Switzerland eleven generations ago.  Before arriving in Lancaster to join his sons who had arrived earlier, Christian Martin had spent time in a prison notorious as a place of martyrdom for many of his church brethren.  The prison is located in the tower of a castle in the Emmental region called Trachselwald Castle.  On the 19th of January we visited this castle. 
            The castle is being preserved as a memorial to the sacrifices many have made for their faith.  The prison tower remains today in the condition it existed hundreds of years ago.  It was a very humbling experience for me to visit the place where my ancestor spent time under very oppressive circumstances. 
            In recent years Anabaptist and Reform church leaders have been involved in reconciliation efforts to mend the wounds caused by this type of darkness in our history.  Efforts are being made to preserve Trachselwald castle specifically as a place to facilitate healing and restoration of life-affirming cooperation for expressions of faith in the Church.  See more about the Trachselwald castle at http://trachselwald-castle.ch/
            In 2011, before I knew details about Anabaptist persecution, the Trachselwald castle, and my family ties to it, I authored a book on the topic of forgiveness and reconciliation.  Very similar to the effects of physical imprisonment, the human heart is bound in a spiritual prison which we can escape from through the power of the death and resurrecton of Jesus Christ.  When we are willing to admit our lost and imprisoned condition of heart, Christ is able to free us from all effects of sin, hurts, wounds, mistreatments, and abuses.  The afflicting pain in our heart can be exchanged at the Cross. 
            My book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart explains more about how to discover things that may be unknowingly (or knowingly) burdening you, and  how to surrender them to Christ.  You can obtain a copy online.  You can contact me about the book or if you are looking for help to process difficult circumstances in your life.  If you are a Christian pastor, missionary, or ministry leader, I would especially encourage you not to delay reaching out for the help available. 

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

New Year Resolution 4 Jan 2015, 5:53 am


            New year, fresh start, renewed hopes, re-ignited dreams, are all somehow part of the January 1 experience.  But for many of us, it's going to take nothing short of a revolution, (much more than a resolution), to make 2015 better than 2014.  That is, a revolution in our thinking and perceiving how the world operates.
            A resolution (decision) to lose weight, kick a bad habit, get out of debt, or love your family more, is common in the 1st quarter of the year, but it's the 4th quarter outcomes that tell the real story.  I've heard it said, "Making decisions is easy.  It's managing those decisions that really makes the difference."  Breaking down a goal/ resolution into manageable steps so you can consistently see your progress, is a key.   Are you ready to manage a revolutionary year in 2015? 
            You've probably heard that infamous definition of insanity, "doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results."  Improvement requires change.  Not just any kind of change, but change in the right direction. 
            If you really want to make 2015 a better year, one of the most important changes you can make is becoming more solution-focused.  Many times we get so tangled in our problems that we get stuck being problem-focused rather than solution-focused.  We become what we focus on.  If we focus on our doubts, worries, and unbelief, we become a fear-driven person.  If we focus on sureties, possibilities, and belief, we become a faith-driven person.  Our thoughts, feelings, and actions demonstrate one or the other; fear or faith.  Which will dominate our focus for 2015?  Will we cave in to fear of finding problems with no solutions, or will we resolve to find faith for solutions to problems? 
            Winston Churchill once said, "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; ;an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."  We hope for fewer difficulties in 2015.   That hope may or may not be realized, but one thing is for sure.  We can choose to focus on the opportunities more than the difficulties. 
            May 2015 be an overcoming year for each person reading this!  Seek to make God a bigger part of your solutions, and find Him blessing your resolve! 

                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

Blindness Does Not Destroy Vision 7 Dec 2014, 7:23 am


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

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

I also submitted a song with my story and posted it to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-DtsUY10aI
The song is inspired from verses in John chapter 14 where Jesus talks about Father God building a house for his people to live in.  Our physical body, or "house" while living on earth, is superceded by a spiritual house for our being to dwell in the presence of God.  We do not have to wait for heaven to experience this "house," but can enjoy deeper personal relationship with Father God while existing on earth.  Come on in to His House today!   Jesus is the Way;  Father's House is the destination! 

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

Where to discover more:

Blue Rock Bed and Breakfast - lodging and hospitality in Lancaster, PA
      http://bluerockbnb.com;   
      http://facebook.com/bluerockbb  

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

Read a copy of Ed's book called Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart
         http://book.bluerockbnb.com

Be inspired and equipped by more articles at Ed's Refuge blog -
         http://AuthorEdHersh.blogspot.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

Pass the Spinach 2 Nov 2014, 5:06 am

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

Psalm 73 Healing Word 5 Oct 2014, 7:41 am


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

Train Your Brain to Crave Health 7 Sep 2014, 11:43 am


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

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

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