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Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and he will avenge you. Proverbs 20:22

The toughest prisons are the prisons with no visible walls. Prisons of our souls that rob us of our freedom to love, our freedom to trust, our ability to live free of fear. In a ‘real prison’ the walls are built thick and strong by someone else for the express purpose of keeping you inside and protecting others from you.

The prison of the soul is built with your own hands. Brick by brick. Hurt by hurt. Failure by failure. Misunderstanding by misunderstanding. In your own mind, whether it’s a conscious thought or not, the prison walls of the soul are built to keep others out and to protect you from any more hurt. You’ve contracted with the master builder of walls, vengeance to make sure no one ever hurts you again.

One of the key ingredients to wall building is the desire to get even. We want to make sure that the perpetrators of our wound ‘pay for what they did’. We want to see justice served and are willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure that happens.

The problem is, when we try to settle the score with someone else we usually just imprison ourselves in bitterness, anger and fear. ‘If I don’t trust, you won’t fail me; If I don’t love you, you won’t hurt me again; If I don’t forgive you, you will never forget what you did to me.’

Your heavenly Father has a better way. His is the way of freedom; of hope; of love. His way offers you the healing you need from the emotional, spiritual and physical scars that weigh you down every day. His is the way of love, forgiveness and trust. Not trust in others, trust in His ability to take care of the situation in his time and in his own way.

When you forgive someone you aren’t saying what they did is okay, you are saying you trust God enough to let him take care of the situation. Think about that for a moment. Who better to deal with the enemies of your soul than the creator God of the universe? Trusting God to handle each situation in your life not only frees you from the prison of your soul, it protects you from the enemy that seeks to destroy you.

Who better to defeat your enemy than the creator God of the universe who loves you so much he was willing to give his very own son so that you could live free. It’s time to tear down the prison walls of your soul. It’s time to live in the freedom of forgiveness and trust. Not trust in mankind, but trust in an almighty God who wants desperately to free you from your hurt.

PRAYER: Father God, I’m angry today. I’m looking out at a world of hurt and fear from walls I’ve built to protect me. I sought freedom and gained incarceration. I thought pain-free living, but live in anguish and worry. I can’t tear these walls down on my own. I need your help. Empower me with your Spirit to be able to hand all this ugly stuff over to you. Help me to forgive for my sake and trust you to take care of the rest. In Jesus name, Amen.


As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:13-14

After one of my speaking engagements a man came up to me to talk. He was, perhaps in his mid sixties. He told me that he had been a Christ-follower for as long as he could remember but he had always struggled with his salvation.

As we talked more he told me that during my session he’d realized that his issue wasn’t really so much about his salvation as it was the concept of a loving forgiving God as ‘Father God.’ When he was growing up his father was non-existent for the most part and when he was around he was angry, demanding, unforgiving and, at times, abusive physically. He came to the realization that God wasn’t like any earthly father he’d ever known. God did love him. God was forgiving. God wasn’t harsh or abusive.

I left the conversation wondering how many of the rest of us struggle with what it means to have God as our Father. Personally, I’m fortunate to have an earthly father who loves God and his children. He wasn’t perfect, but we kids knew he loved us. I have no problem seeing, in my father, what a compassionate, forgiving and loving God we have.

Many of us don’t have that luxury. Earthly fathers fail us. Some are abusive emotionally, physically or even sexually. Some are so caught up in making a living and providing physically for us that they fail at their most important job: building relationships. Some are absent completely, having checked out emotionally or physically from our lives. The demise of the family also hinders our view of father hood. More than half of our children are being influenced by two or more male figures that could be called ‘dad’, such as step-dads and foster dads.

Then God comes along to say he is a compassionate father? Two terms put together that describes someone we can’t relate to. We see compassion as passion and we see fathers as someone to be feared and avoided!

If you are struggling with your view of God as Father then it’s time to rethink what a ‘father’ is supposed to be.. Your Heavenly Father, Lord of all creation, doesn’t love you as earthly fathers may. He knows you are frail. He knows you will struggle and fail miserably at times. He won’t demand that you do things that will harm you or harm others.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be struggles in your life for a compassionate father knows that struggle is required to gain strength. When you are learning to ride a bike he’ll allow you to fall, but he’s there to clean up the scraped knees and help you get back on again.

Don’t allow the failures of earthly fathers to hinder your view of a loving God who will stand by you in the good times and the bad. You may not always understand your Heavenly Father, but he always understands you. Rules aren’t the important thing to him, relationship is! He gave us a picture of himself in the person of Jesus Christ.

PRAYER: Father God. I confess to you that the idea of you being a father isn’t particularly comforting to me. My father here on earth didn’t leave me with a very good feeling about fathers. I ask that you would show me what a truly compassionate father is. Help me to learn to trust you and grow in relationship with you as I learn to walk with Jesus. In your name I pray, Amen.


The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

All great love stories seem to have the same general plot. You have the hero, the villain and the beautiful damsel in distress that needs to be rescued. The hero will often risk his own life in a battle to the end in order to win the love of his life. No one will stop the mighty man of valor from destroying the enemy in order to win the hand of the one he loves.

When I read Zephaniah 3:17 that’s what I think of, a love story like none other. The God of the universe loves me so much the he pursues me. He will not be denied. The villain is dastardly. It can be relational dysfunction. It can be addictions or worry or an unforgiving spirit. It can be bitterness or physical, sexual or emotional abuse. Whatever it is that attacks me is no match for the power of this mighty warrior who refuses to let me fail.

In the midst of the battle I grow weary. I question whether I’m worth the fight. I see myself as weak and unattractive. I focus on my failures and my past mistakes. Sometimes I even willingly put myself in position for the enemy to attack!

He will not be thwarted. He will not allow me to fall victim to the strategy of the enemy. When I’m at my worst, the mighty warrior is at his best, staying by my side and taking great delight in me.

During those darkest nights. During those times when the battle seems too great and the enemy seems ready to claim the final victory over my soul, I hear music. I hear a beautiful love song in my ear. I listen and am surprised to hear that I am the subject of the love song! Imagine that! Even though I fail on daily basis, the God of heaven takes such great delight in me that he writes a song just for me. In the midst of the battle, that is what I want to remember. I want to hear the words of love and praise my Father in Heaven has for me. I am loved deeply. I’m worth the fight. My warrior will rescue me no matter what the enemy may say.

PRAYER: Father God, my mighty warrior. I’ve failed so many times. My past is strewn with lost battle after lost battle against the enemy. Still, you love me so much you take great delight in who I am. Such truth is too great for me to comprehend. Forgive me for those times I’ve rebelled and ignored your presence. Thank you for your forgiveness, your love and my very own love song. In Jesus name, Amen.


You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. Psalm 139:1-2

With the popularity of the internet and various networking sites, like FaceBook and Twitter, the concept of ‘knowing someone’ has become somewhat clouded. We can ‘know’ someone from other countries who we have never met anywhere but in cyberspace.

In Psalm 139, King David makes the statement “You know me” concerning God. The knowledge God has of us is so much more intimate than we can imagine. I can choose what information I let you know about me. I can tone down the bad stuff about me and put a nice coat of frosting on the good stuff to make it even better.

I can choose to hide the things I don’t want you to know, those hidden thoughts, dreams and fantasies or those opinions of you (and others) that contradict the smile on my face. I can try to hide the pain, shame and embarrassment of how I really feel about me as well. In fact, most times, people we see as happy-go-lucky and conceited are really insecure and looking for something good to grasp onto about themselves.

God knows me. Think on that for a minute. The Creator/Sustainer of the universe, not just my world, not just the galaxy we live in, THE universe, knows me. He and He alone, sees clearly behind the mask we use to show people the person we’d like to be. The walls we build to protect ourselves and keep others at a distance do nothing to keep Him from entering in and looking around.

Every thought, every emotion, every hurt and pain, every time you’ve been emotionally or physically abused has been seen by Him and He feels your pain. He hears your unspoken prayers, sees your unseen tears and walks with you through the fearful times when everyone else thinks you are strong.

Remember one more thing. King David was not a pleasant person. He was a murderer. He slept with a married woman and got her pregnant. He ignored the time one of his sons raped one of his daughters. He lied. He cheated. Yet in all this God calls Him a man after His own heart. God saw through all David’s weaknesses and failures and loved him anyway. He does the same for you.

PRAYER: Once again I am in awe of Your love O God my Father. There is no hiding with you. You know my deepest longings and pain. You cry with me and celebrate with me. I praise you for who you are and ask that you would help me, as I go through my day, to sense Your love and presence during the dark times of my life. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.


Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. Song of Solomon 2:15

Preventative maintenance is important in many areas of our lives. A simple oil change can keep your car running better and longer. A few minutes of exercise everyday can keep your body healthier, your mind sharper and give you more energy for the day.

The same is true in our relationships with our spouses/significant other, our children, our families, our jobs or any other relationship we may be a part of. It’s the little things we do that keep a relationship healthy and growing. In order for relationships to be healthy they need to continue to grow. Stagnant relationships are dying relationships.

In Old Testament Palestine, vineyards were a huge part of the economy. One of the ‘predators’ for the vineyard was the fox. Small foxes would enter the vineyard at night and destroy the vines, eat the grapes and blossoms and dig up the roots. The owner of the vineyard spent much time and money to protect his vineyard from these little, but deadly enemies.

Healthy relationships are relationships where all parties involved work together to keep the little things from entering our ‘vineyard’ to damage or kill it. Most relationships don’t end like a train wreck. Train wrecks are sudden, unexpected and deadly. Relationships usually die a slow death from the inside out, like cancer, and usually happen when one or both parties involved fail to take preventative action.

The ‘little foxes’ of relationship can be something as simple as making sure you say thank you, or being brave enough to say ‘I’m sorry’ even if you aren’t totally at fault. The ‘little fox’ of sarcasm can attack the very roots of the relationship. Sarcasm is the lowest form of ‘humor’ and one of the deadliest relationship killers. Unresolved anger, guilt and emotional or physical abuse may seem like big issues in a relationship, and indeed they are. However they aren’t the main issue, they are the result of the work of little foxes.

The best protection for the vineyard of our relationships is a firm, unified relationship with Jesus Christ. Religion and going to church won’t protect your relationship any more than a sign at the entrance of the vineyard will ward off the foxes. Relationship with Jesus is much more than religion and warming the pew of some church.

Simple things like saying ‘I love you’ or, ‘I’m proud of you’, or ‘I like how you do that’ are little things that can add huge walls against the foxes of our lives. Studying the Bible together, making sure that there are no unresolved conflicts in your lives, being willing to forgive and be honest with each other and encouraging each other to use thief gifts are all ways to strengthen the bond of your relationships.

Vineyards were the life blood of the Old Testament economy just as relationships are the lifeblood in this journey we call life. Work as hard as you can to make sure the little foxes don’t enter and destroy.

PRAYER: Father, I admit to you that I’m not good at relationship. My past is full of so many foxes that I’ve never learned how to do relationship well. I’m tired of feeling like I’m the only one doing the work of relationship building. The pain of rejection and abuse keeps me back from trying anymore. Help me to build a relationship with You first so that I can build or rebuild relationships with those I love. In Jesus name, Amen.

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