Intentional Healing: Forgiveness

Your Equipping Skill for this post: living in Forgiveness

Now what? The deed is done. You have either been wronged or wronged someone else. Perhaps this is a life changing injustice or maybe a small matter that will fade quickly away. All create pain. All need forgiveness.

North American Indian lore tells of wars between tribes coming to an end with a ceremonial burying of the hatchet. Burying this implement of war signified that fighting had ceased, all was forgiven, and the matter was left to rot in the ground forgotten. Whether this is historically accurate or not, it paints the picture of what forgiveness should look like in daily living.

Forgiveness is a lot easier said than done. How do we do forgiveness. Regardless of your faith, life is not healthy with injustice weighing it down. Yes, it is as easing as giving this to God…the following step could give you an idea of what this looks like. The holy Bible teaches us to be forgiven forgivers. It is neither easy nor optional. Also, forgiveness is spiritual, not merely intillectual assent. It is both learnable and teachable. This is a skill for all people and particularly for the Christian.

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Following are 12 comments on how to live in forgiveness. These do not excuse abusive behavior or injustice But offer a way for us to live without the weight of unforgiveness crushing us.

1. Commit to the process of forgiveness personally

Before you attempt to start this journey, know what it is. Be a craftsman of forgivness. Learn how and grow in your skills. Forgiving doesn’t mean that approve, accept responsibly for or deny what happened to you. ESPECIALLY IF ABUSE, ADDICTION OR OTHER HARM IS PRESENT.

Forgiveness is making the intentional and conscious choice to release yourself from the burden, pain, and stress of holding on to a wrong, God doesn’t withhold forgiveness and neither should we. Forgiveness is the healing of yourself by God through Faith. Jesus held NOTHING back for your forgiveness. It is at the heart of our saving relationship with Christ. He forgives while knowing we are going to mess up. Forgiveness allows the possibility to keep the relationship right, even when faced with wrong.

2. accept that forgiveness in not pain free

Pain stinks but it can be effective teacher. Hurts can run deep, even if at first glance they don’t seem to make a big impact. It’s important to give yourself permission to accept the inevitable pain while working to get rid of it. It is real, it isn’t fair, and it it only for a season. It is physical, . Notice where you feel it in your body and ask yourself, “What do I need right now?” perhaps you need sleep, or to get up and go. However, the real healing is spiritual.

3. Be Specific: Know exactly what needs to be forgiven.

Whether you’ve hurt yourself or have been hurt by another, allow yourself to be honest and simply name the feelings that are there. They might include guilt, grief, shame, sorrow, confusion, or anger. As you consider the act of forgiveness, any of these feelings can arise. Create time and space to forgive this specific thing and not let it get lost in free floating, vague, anger and anxiety. Being specific keeps healing from getting lost in the crowd and leaving you fealing overwhelmed.

4. Find healthy ways to express the pain.

The pain is going to leak out. Keeping hurt feelings bottled up only causes additional stress to your mind and body. Watch for habits that change to overdoing or underdoing. Healthy habits inlude, sharing how you’re feeling to a trusted person, writing about it in a journal, dedicated prayer, worship or talking about itwith a mental health professionsl. Sharing with a small group, especially in a church setting helps you expand your perspective. Ultimately, faith is born and grows as you work through the process of forgiveness in positive ways.

 5. Detach, Find a positive to this experience

An event that is very wrong can still have a positive side. Take your focus off of feeling like a victim and look for it. This hurt is not who you are but how you feel. Look for the possibility of positive outcomes-strength, maturity etc. Your life can take a different trajectory altogher as a result of this process. You are not taking away the guilt by finding a benefit for yourself in the journey of healing. Recognize the pain, take a stand that this isn’t who you are and replace the hurt with positive spiritual habits. Live in the present moment and let faith grow through this .

 6. Do something small to move forward every day

Whether you are forgiving yourself or another person, taking action can help to facilitate healing and make you feel more empowered. It’s best to start with smaller misdeeds to get into practice and feel what’s possible. Writing a letter or having an uncomfortable conversation can be difficult and even scary, but often a sense of empowerment emerges. Show self-compassionate action by listening to yourself and doing something that supports you. Little things done daily keep you from becoming stuck and being overwhelmed.

 7. You are not alone in this

When you’ve been hurt, it’s common to feel like you’re the only one who has ever been wronged in this way. Remembering you are not alone in experiencing this kind of pain can help to loosen the grip of your resentment. Keep your faith and surround yourself with people of faith. Distance yourself from negative places, people and habits.

8. Forgiveness takes time , no short cuts

Forgiveness isn’t a quick-fix. It’s a process. Be patient with yourself. With small offenses, forgiveness can happen pretty quickly, but with the larger ones, it can take years. Be kind to yourself, take the time, be patient rather than settling for vbs immediate or unhealthy habits.

 9. No one wins the blame game.

Misery Does NOT love company. If blaming would fix anything,, we wouldn’t have any problems. Blame does not heal,it k. Faith Casts it away, Blame clings to it with the lie that you can do it yourself.

10. Pray for yourself and others

Intentionally and with mindfulness pray for healing and forgiveness for yourself and for others, including THE other. . Forgiveness is a spiritual skill. You and God can do this. There is nothing more healing than serving another from a hear that Jesus has filled.

11. Find purpose in your pain

How will this time strengthen you.  What positive things will come from working through this forgiveness.  As you practice working with the pain that’s there, you grow key strengths of self-compassion, courage, and empathy that inevitably make you stronger in every way. As psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl wrote “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” ― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

12. Maintain your healing.

It takes faith and discipline to keep the historical from returning as hysterical. You have removed this pain’s power. An old saying says, “when you bury a mad dog, don’t leave his tail sticking up”. Beware of reminders that let it sneak back in.This matter is forgiven and given to God. It needs to stay buried. Your best revenge is having a peace filled and positive life.

Let it go. Keep it gone. You don’t need it any more. Let it rot in the ground. Done. Live your life now.

Some further resources:

Two study resources that I use everyday: Biblegateway.com-available as an app, and www.openbible.info -a wonderful help arranged by topics.

Embodying Forgiveness, by L. Gregory Jones

Think like a Monk, by Jay Shetty

Celebration of Discipline, by Richard J. Foster

Forgive what you Can’t Forget, by Lysa TerKeurst

Forgive for Good, by Fred Luskin

Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Please add your comments and resources in a comment!

(C) 2022 All Rights Reserved by Alan van Hooser, “The Thoughtful Pastor”

 

Listening to the Holy Spirit: Finding Your Faith’s Ear

Seven ways to start or re-start your discernment skills. God speaks. How will we learn to listen?

Your equipping skill: Listening Prayers of the heart and growing in discernment

Listening to the Holy Spirit is Central to a living Faith.

What “listening to the Holy Spirit” means

  • The Holy spirit testifies to Christ, guides, inspires and motivates us.  Listening to the Holy Spirit means prioritizing God’s word above other sources.
  • Too often we worship our preferences.  This leads us to blind and deaf spots where we cannot hear what God has to say. 

What this does NOT mean

  • This is not divining the future
  • This is not “Fire Insurance”, insuring a financial or other success.
  • This does not put you or I in charge. Servant Leaders are First Followers
  • This is not manipulating God to do our will.
  • This is not prayer per se, but prayer is the vehicle by which we listen. It is God doing all of the work while we work at listening.

Equipping with Authority

  • This article is focused on the Concrete more than the theorhetical. God is the speaker and will use your preferences to find your listening ear.
  • Central to listening for God is Having an intentional plan. This post should not imply that teaching a mechanical skill-is all that it takes. These 7 actions are ways to intentionally equip yourself to listen
  • Scripture, Tradition, Reason & Experience are all tests for The Spirit. The Holy Spirit will never contradict scripture, tradition changes to meet the day but gives us context and community, truth makes sense by faith-Fod gave us a mind to use. Finally, all experiences teach something. Pay attention and listen carefully to all four of these as you do these activities. Keep it simple-listen.

1. Disciplined Time with God through Bible study and prayer.

  • God has already spoken through His Word. The more time you spend with God through reading His Word and through prayer, the more familiar you’ll become with His voice.
  • This is important because God will never tell you to do anything that contradicts His written Word. The more time you spend time with God, the more familiar you will become with His voice.

2. Memorize Scripture in context

  • The Bible is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12). It will change you, transform you, make you more receptive to hear God’s voice.
  • It’s not enough to simply read the Word. Search the Scripture and “Hide it in your Heart”. (Psalm 119:11)
  • Many times the Holy Spirit will use the Word to guide you. This becomes so much easier if you actually have the Word in your heart.

3. Create a balanced life of prayer: ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication (Requests).

  • No one like to be around someone who does all of the talking.
  • Don’t just run into prayer with your checklist in hand and pray, “Dear God, please help me here, bless this, bless that, protect them, help me have a good day. Amen.” Spend time listening.
  • You may not hear anything, but it’s important to remember that prayer is a conversation with God, not a list of needs and desires. .

4. Seek Silence Every Day

  • Look at the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19 and you’ll see that God chose to speak to Elijah through a gentle whisper. God often chooses to speak through a still, small voice, and not a shout! Faith beckons us to listen in order to hear.
  • God wants us to remove all the distractions from our lives and focus on Him. Find a consistent time and a dedicated place to be silent before God everyday and hear God’s gentle whisper.

5. Have a Spiritual Director and wise counselors

  • God doesn’t speak exclusively to you. He also speaks to those around you. The book of Proverbs talks a lot about the necessity of seeking wise counsel.
  • When the Holy Spirit speaks to you, seek someone wise to be your prayer partner. Carefully and prayerfully seek the wise counsel of those around you. Pray for God to bring these human resources.

6. Intentionally Listen for God in Daily Decisions

  • Don’t just do something, Sit there
  • Practice makes perfect. We have been given a spirit of discernment by our Father. The Holy Spirit is God. God wants us to know the difference between God’s voice and the many enemies competing for our own thoughts.
  • It takes discernment, and the only way to figure it out is to start practicing. This does NOT legitimize procrastination.

7. Be obedient

  • Don’t just sit there, Do something. 
  • Listening to the Holy Spirit requires obedience. Search through the book of Acts. It is a diary of the Holy Spirit speaking to the early church. The “Spirit” is used in Acts 67 different times. The reason the Spirit is still leading and motivating the church today is because the church obeyed the Spirit when Jesus’ Church heard His voice.
  • Do the last thing God told you to do.  If God hasn’t spoken to you, perhaps it’s because you didn’t obey the last thing God told you to do. God may be silent until you finish what He started. When the Spirit speaks, it’s not meant as a suggestion. If you want the Holy Spirit to continue to speak to you, obey God when God speaks

NOW WHAT?  What transforming change will you make today? These “Doing” activities can and will point you to “Being” in Christ. The point of this excercise is to strengthen faith and create a more intimate relationship with God. Listen well and hear God’s loving and still small voice.

Some resources for further study:

Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Merton

Anatomy of a Deceased Church by Thom Rainer (Praying together)

When God is Silent by Barbara Brown Taylor ( The Section on Silence)

The Once and Future Wesleyan Movement by Scott J. Jones ( The Holy Spirit p. 57)

(c) Alan Van Hooser, “The Thoughtful Pastor”, 2022 all rights reserved.

Today’s GODWORD is Distraction

The daily GODWORD is a daily text or emailed blessing daily. You can receive it by sending your cell or email address to revavanhooser@ aol.com or click the follow button and read it here. No personal info. is ever shared! See the next post for background information.

Your daily Godword is distraction

Psalm 119:16 “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.”

Take 20 minutes to ponder this verse while you pray for God to re-focus today. Distractions are not optional, but we can choose to how much power they have. Alan van Hooser

Previous GODWORD’s

Your daily GODWORD is children

Matthew 21:16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “ ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”

Blessed are we when we are in the presence of children. They teach us how to keep things simple. Praise! Alan van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is fear

Luke 12:4 “I tell you, my friends, don’t be terrified by those who can kill the body but after that can do nothing more. I’ll show you whom you should fear: fear the one who, after you have been killed, has the authority to throw you into hell. Indeed, I tell you, that’s the one you should fear.

Keep your heart fearless of people that torment. Fear those who subtly turn your head. Seek God all-ways

🌀! Your daily Godword is Patience

Roman’s 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

“Patience”literally means “to suffer”. Patience in trials is God’s classroom for faith. Hang in there, find joy in troubled times knowing that God is there with you. Alan van Hooser

Louis! Your daily GODWORD is urgent
Revelation 1:3 “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.”

Prepare urgently to slow down daily life. Intensely pay attention because God is at work just as urgently. Alan van Hooser

Your daily Godword is discernment

1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Discernment is listening, testing and then taking action on what God desires rather than what we like. What does God want in your day?

Your daily Godword is certainty

Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”

Move through life with certainty only by holding onto an unmovable God who loves and leads you. Anxiety is optional! Alan Van hooser

Todays GODWORD is Strong
Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you will go.

Prayer is portable. God make the bold strong wherever they go. Pray large today and let God be large. Alan van Hooser

Alan! Your daily GODWORD is seasons

Ecclesiastes 1:9 “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”

We did not invent trouble. It is not new and only lasts for it’s season. Pray, don’t fret. This too shall pass. Alan van hooser

Ecclesiastes 7:8 “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. “

Every project, day and life is in transition. Do not fear the ride but enjoy it instead. You are a work in progress. You will get there! Alan Van Hooser

Your daily Godword is sure

Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God”

Faith in God is a gift from God. It is sure and certain and the source of all blessings. Walk in the sure-ness of His faith. Alan van Hooser

Your daily God word is bond

Ephesians 4 :1 “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

May your bond and vow the unity with God and with his church. May the peace of Jesus flow from you in every breath. Alan Vanhooser

Your daily Godword is stronger

Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

Loving God is the source of our strength and gives the potential to God size love with one another. Love stronger today. -Alan Van hooser

Alan! Your daily GODWORD is healing

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

God is in the healing business. His healing is certain and starts with your spirit. Wait patently-healing is at hand. -Alan van Hooser

🌀! Your Sunday morning GODWORD prayers for worship

John 4:23 “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.”

I’m missing Sunday worship due to COVID and feel cheated. Pray for our worship leaders and celebrate their gift to us made in Jesus name. Rejoice! Don’t take your hour for granted!

Your daily Godword is prayer

Ephesians 1:18 “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people”

A day of low physical energy is a day of tremendous spiritual potential. Invest your energy in prayer today. Alan Van hooser

Today I am positive for COVID for the first time. Prayers for healing for all of us who are struggling with health today! Alan.

Your daily GODWORD is Spirit

Acts 2:3 “And tongues that looked like fire appeared to them, distributing themselves, and a tongue rested on each one of them.”

Sometimes God just shows up. Is today that day for you? Invest your heart in the life of worship. Be ready! -Alan van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is finished

2 Corinthians 8:11 “But now finish doing it also, so that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability.”

The “it” of faith is to Know and share generously the grace Jesus shows you. Church Meetings don’t matter until this is accomplished. Alan van Hooser

your daily GODWORD is together

Acts 2:1-47 “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. “

The church is made of relationships gathered by the winds of the Spirit. Enjoy the rush, be the church. -Alan van Hooser


Your daily GODWORD is distraction
Proverbs 4:25. “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.”

Toxic distraction are stealing our days. Fight for your focus with Gods word and a ready prayer. -Alan van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is Monday

1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

“Monday” is not a swear word but a fresh start. Stand for God and make each moment a ministry. -Alan van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is healing

James 5:15 “And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

Physical healing leads us to Gods real motive, the healing of our soul through forgiveness. See and share your healing today. -Alan van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is Community

Galatians 6:10 “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

The life in Christ is a life together. Strengthen your community and you strengthen everyone’s faith, including yours! -Alan van Hooser

Your daily Godword is family

Psalm 127:3 “Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”

Family is that reward we work the hardest for, a life sentence of satisfyingly wonderful frustration. Praise God for them all! -Alan van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is community
Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

We are stronger, smarter, happier and more faith filled when we live in community. Sharpen another’s faith and watch yours grow today! -Alan van Hooser

your daily Godword is Journey

Psalm 119:104 “Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Life is a journey, the Bible a map and Jesus our flashlight. Don’t wander aimlessly in the dark. Travel confidently In Christ today. -Alan van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is health

3 John 1:2 “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul”

“How is it with your soul?” Is a better question than “how’re you doin’ “ good health is being at peace. Care for soul and body today. -Alan van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is Rehab

Ezekiel 36:26 “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh”

God is the ultimate physical therapy, touching beyond the muscle to meet the soul. Take your broken heart to God today. Jesus hears you! – Alan van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is afterward

Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Faith rules in storm and shadow. Remember to keep faith up front during fair winds and light. Walk fearlessly always and all days. -Alan van Hooser

(c) Alan Van Hooser, “The Thoughtful Pastor”, 2022 all rights reserved.

Not So Virtual Worship

Psalm 145: “Jehovah is near to all that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth.”

Equipping skill-keeping worship genuine regardless of technology. (As I was writing this post, we had a Covid exposure and shut down our in- person worship for two weeks! It is more important than ever to keep our “in-video”worship REAL!)

Hearts open even with faces covered

We are in a chapter of Porter Texas-Friendship UMC’s history that has as many people worshiping online as are meeting in person. We have been calling this video worship, “Virtual” but what does that really mean.


According to Webster’s dictionary, the definition of “virtual” is, “Adjective-almost or nearly as described, but not completely or according to strict definition. “Similar, Near, Or near enough”,
to all intents and purposes not physically existing as such but made by software to appear to do so.

I will never again refer to our online worship as “Virtual”. It’s “In-Video “

When we gather to worship, whether online or in-person, ourworship is not “Almost” or just the appearance of being true worship. When we gather, we gather around the truth of God in Jesus Christ, expecting to meet Him face to face. THIS IS TRUE WORSHIP and not just “near enough.

Some prefer the video, I love the people, the buzz of interaction, and the unpredictability of the live and in-person gathering of God’s Called out disciples! But, here we are in Covid’s place when online, in-video worship is either our only option or our best option.

What can we do to create true worship from a remote location? Here are some suggestions that keep the Good News in our online worship experiences.

  • Pray for God’s presence to be touchable before turning on your device
  • Turn off non-essential stuff and tune in to the people around you. Use the largest screen available
  • EXPECT God to touch your heart. Ask him to show up
  • Worship with a Bible open, even if it is on your pajama clad lap
  • Watch all of the worship service and not just your favorite part
  • When its over ask, “What did I feel”, “What did I learn”, and “What am I going to Do!”
  • Prayerfully leave your device and then call someone from church and just talk for a while. We were never meant to worship alone!

God is near to all that truth-fully mean business in worship.  Whether on an Ipad or in a pew, God is engaged and inviting you and I to do the same. 

May your worship be warm, connecting and shareable. Jesus walks with you !

Worship outside when you have the opportunity

-Pastor Alan van Hooser

The GODWORD: A word to share with you

The Equipping skill for this post: creating a strategy to build an awareness of faith in a busy life

The first word guiding this blog is invitation. You are invited to join me, Slow down for a minute and breathe. What if you could start your daily walk in Christ with a single word?

I start my day with a single focusing word-a GODWORD. This is a guide word that snaps me back when my mind gets away from me. It is prayerfully discerned, reinforced by scripture and stays on my phone as a touchstone.

You are invited to receive & share this guide-word/Godword with me by text or email. A new addition is to see the post here daily. The devotional goes out in the morning or other special time. You are invited to ponder the GODWORD and the READ THE WHOLE BIBLE PASSAGE. I use the Bible Gateway app, It is quick and easy. Return to it through the day. Note that these are not archived. Each on stands alone just as the Christ meets our needs as “daily bread”

Anyone wishing to receive them can email their cell number or email address to revavanhooser@aol.com.  There is no cost.  This is a private list and comes as an Individual contact-not in a group.  Contact info is never shared and if you  wish to be removed from the list, simply contact me and I will take you off without comment. (Please check your text policy with your provider before you sign up. There have been rare format problems. Contact me and we will work something out.)

The purpose is to connect my day with friends and be held accountable by you to my daily discipline.  Comments are welcome.

Thanks for being my fellow traveler in Christ. Please share the GODWORD and send other scriptures that give you focus in a comment below.