What I Learned From the Washing Machine

A few nights ago I put a load of clothes in the washing machine. For some strange reason I decided to just sit there and watch the clothes wash. As I watched I noticed how the clean water became dirty as the cycle went on. Even though my clothes didn’t look that dirty, there was obviously more dirt in the clothes than my natural eyes could see. One thing that really caught my attention was how the clothes were tossing and turning, getting all bent out of shape, they were being slung around from side to side, they were being thrown up against the side of the washer, floating to the top, only to be pulled back down, etc. The process actually looked kind of painful!

And because I’d chosen to put the washing machine on “heavy”, this process got worse before it got better! But then the rinse cycle started (of course I had to close the lid). I sat and listened as the washing machine harshly sucked the water out of the clothes, so hard to the point where the clothes were stuck to the side of the machine. Just when I thought it was over, this process started all over again. And just like the clothes survive the first cycle, they did it again. But the most grueling part of this process came almost at the very end. The clothes still had to endure the spin cycle.

I listened as the machine spun ferociously, even shaking and rocking a little bit, while the water beat up on the clothes. But then when the cycle finally stopped and I pulled the clothes out, not only had they endured a process that from the outside looking in should had left the clothes in shreds, but they were fresh and clean. And even though they were wrinkled up, they came out better than they were when than they went in!

So how does this lesson from the washing machine apply to us?  For a moment reflect over this past year. We’ve had the opportunity to celebrate many great moments! There were lots of wonderful memories created. However, with each high time we’ve been faced with just as much turmoil and tribulation.

But just like the clothes, God has allowed us to go through the washing machine process. He saw that there was and still is some stuff that needed to come out of us that we can’t see with our natural eyes. So the trials, the set backs, the failures, the mistakes, the falls, the turn arounds, the low times, the dry places, the moments of uncertainty, the points of despair, the disappointments, the heartaches, the heartbreaks, the losses, the walk outs, the upsets, and the straight up knock downs were all necessary.

What we thought was going to take us out, really and truly was all apart of the cleansing process. Those moments were painful, they were uncomfortable, but they were working for our good! They showed us areas about ourselves that we still have room to grow and improve!  And some of us, every time we thought we’d endured the roughest part, here comes the spin cycle, putting us in a place in which we really wanted to tap out and give in. However,  the fact that we are still here reminds us that we didn’t give up, and we didn’t give in! We found out that we are BETTER, we are BRAVER, we are STRONGER, and we are TOUGHER than we ever thought! God proved to us that we are indeed, BUILT TO LAST!

And even though we might have some wrinkles and we probably feel like we’ve been through a whirlwind, we are coming out better than we were when we went in! So as we kiss this year goodbye and embrace 2015, let all of that gunk wash down the drain of 2014. Don’t feel sorry for your self for what you had to endure this year. The only fact that matters is that you made it! We have one day left! So I encourage you to COUNT IT ALL JOY! This year gave much more than it has taken away! It’s all in how you look at it!

Before this year ends, be sure to thank God for the process. Thank God for how He has developed you. Thank God that He has shown you what fortitude looks like.  And last but not least, thank God that in spite of it all, you are still going to have a STRONG FINISH!

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By imtoughenough

Just Forget About It!

This week I’ve had to face the fact that certain things in my life are the way they are because of decisions that I’ve made, both good and bad. So I’ve really been struggling with forgiving myself. Now I have a clear understanding that when I sincerely repent, God instantly forgives me, but forgiving India has proven to be a bit more difficult.

This morning I was laying in my bed and of course this was on my mind, so the Lord led me to a specific message in my book, “I’m T.O.U.G.H.” (Yes, I actually read my own book and yes it still ministers to me.) The message is called “Just Forget About It”, and I want to share it with you and I pray that it does for you what it has done for me! Apart of being T.O.U.G.H. is accepting your mistakes, taking full responsibility, and truly embracing the forgiving power of God. Just like I’m T.O.U.G.H. ENOUGH to make it through this, so are you!  So here it goes!!!

Just Forget About It

Micah 7:18-20 (NLT) Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of His special people? You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love. Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean! You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love as you promised to our ancestors Abraham and Jacob long ago.

Have you ever wronged someone and then asked for forgiveness? And that person is compassionate and forgives you, but you have a hard time forgiving yourself. One of the hardest things to do is to forgive yourself when you’ve wronged someone. Occasionally I find this to be exceptionally true when it comes to my relationship with Christ. Because I reverence Him in the manner in which I do, it is hard to move forward after I have intentionally or unintentionally grieved Him. However, the scripture reminds us that when we repent, not only does He forgive us, but he throws our sins into the sea of forgetfulness. We can’t even make God remember. His love for us keeps no record of our wrongs. So why is it that God can forgive us, but we have such a hard time forgiving ourselves and moving on? It is the enemy’s desire to hold you hostage to your past mistakes, slip ups, and bad decisions. He desires nothing more than for you to get stuck in a place of regret and never move forward in Christ. This is why we are reminded in Romans 8:1, “There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” The scripture then says that because we belong to Him, His Spirit had freed us from the power of sin. This means that once we repent, sin has no choice but to loose its constraining grip over our lives. Now all we have to do is forgive ourselves. Today I encourage you to let go of past shortcomings. God has forgiven you and He doesn’t even think about it, so stop trying to make Him recall. Let our prayer be, “God thank You for Your forgiving power that You offer me. Now help me to let go of my past and forgive myself. I want to operate in the liberty wherein You have given me through Jesus Christ.”

By imtoughenough

What If God Treated Us Like We Treat Each Other

“What if I treated you like you treat others?” This is the question that God often presents to me. At first I use to attempt to plead my case to God (as if He doesn’t really know me) about all the “good” that I do. I told Him about how I’m a very pleasant person. I filled Him in on how I love to help people, and I couldn’t forget to tell Him how I’m always there with an encouraging word.

As the conversation went on, God reminded me that those were things I was suppose to do. He told me there was nothing special about any of that. There was no trophy or reward to be obtained for doing the basics.

Then God asked me, “Why are you having such a hard time forgiving such and such?” Why can’t you let it go?” And once again I started getting my “Johnny Cochran” on and I went to defend my actions. As if He needed it, I started reminding God of what such and such had done to me and how it made me feel. In the middle of my rant, God quietly whispered, “But what if I treated you like that?” Conviction instantly engulfed me!

He started to play back the film in my life. I saw the many times I’d hurt God. I was reminded of the times when I knew better and I chose not to do better. I began to hear conversations that I had with God where I made promise after promise but never fulfilled them. I got a whiff of all of the “Lord if you get me out this time, I promise I won’ts.”

And as I thought on all of those moments, I thought about how when I went to God and sincerely asked for His forgiveness, He freely offered it to me. Not only did He forgive me, but He forgot about it. He didn’t roll His eyes every time I came around. He didn’t sigh loudly every time I asked Him for something. He didn’t let negative thoughts toward and about me prance around in His head. He didn’t become standoffish. He didn’t start purposely avoiding me. His conversation with me didn’t become short and snappy. He didn’t stop talking to me altogether.

Instead, He opened His welcoming arms and loved me even more. So if God can do that for me, with all of my many flaws and mess ups, who am I not to offer the same love to His people? So take a moment and reflect on your own life. How would your life be if God treated you like you treat others?

By imtoughenough

God Did His Part, Now I Have To Do Mine

So the last time I blogged, I let you all in on how I had a setback but I was well on my way to major comeback. And yes, just to let you know, things are still looking up. This week I want to talk about not only getting delivered, but the work that it takes in STAYING DELIVERED. Is it me or does that seem to be the real challenge? When I was in the middle of my last messy situation, I found myself crying and pleading for God to deliver me. And guess what, He did just that! He delivered me. Now I just knew that since I was free I wouldn’t have the same thoughts and desires that I once had. I knew that the road ahead would not necessarily be easy, but I thought that I was through dealing with “that” situation. Clearly I was wrong.

Deliverance is defined as the action of being rescued or set free. Yes I’d been rescued. Yes I’d been set free. However, I didn’t consider that I would have to continuously walk out my deliverance. God did His part. He delivered me just like I’d asked Him to do, but now it is up to me to walk it out. Deliverance isn’t a one-time deal. I had/have to make a conscience decision that the muddle I was in no longer has power or authority to rule in my life.

Just because I’ve been delivered doesn’t mean that those ratchet thoughts don’t pop back up in my mind. Walking out my deliverance doesn’t mean that I don’t still have ungodly desires. Deliverance doesn’t mean that my flesh doesn’t attempt to rise up and act a pure donkey. What deliverance does mean is that I no longer give those things opportunity to fester when they pop up.

I have to continuously command my thoughts, words, and my actions to come under submission of the blood of Jesus. I have to continue to die daily, sometimes hourly, and occasionally minute by minute. Is this a difficult thing to do? At times it seems like I am fighting the battle of my life, but the more I spend time in God’s presence, the more I study and apply His word, the more I subdue and He arises in me, the less complicated staying delivered becomes.

I understand more and more each day that walking in deliverance has to be a lifestyle. It is not something that I can do in my own power. I can wish and want all day, but it is through allowing God’s Holy Spirit to have total control over every aspect of my life that I can stay delivered. Today in church my Pastor began to sing the old hymn “I Need Thee Every Hour.” Although I’ve heard and sang that song a million times before, it had new meaning this morning. It is because of Christ that I am delivered. It is through and in Christ that I will remain delivered.

I pray that something said in this blog entry has sparked or spoken something into your spirit that has caused you to desire Christ even the more. Have a great week!

By imtoughenough