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 Mom

I have been sending the GODWORD-a daily text or emailed blessing daily for years. 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 Mom

Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Moms, God is with you. For the rest of us, moms are here to remind us that God is here for us. You are strong, uplifted and held. Thank you Mom, thank you God! – Alan van Hooser

Previous GODWORDs

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

Your daily GODWORD is actions

Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Hurt or help, worry or pray, you are what you do. “ Do” life as an offering to God and become your actions. Be a thanksgiving and others will give thanks for you. -Alan van Hooser

Your daily Godword is gratefully

Romans 12:4-8 “…though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ…We have different gifts that are consistent with God’s grace that has been given to us.”

Your passions and talents are gifts of grace to be shared lavishly and gratefully. Share them gratefully and God use them today. -Alan van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is worship

Hebrews 12:28 “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,”

Worship is offering yourself to God as you are, where you are. Be reverent with a still heart today and see the grandeur of God with awe. Alan van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is brand

Jeremiah 31:33“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord.“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.I will be their God, and they will be my people.

Ride for your brand. Live your identity as a child in Christ today. It is more than a cross on a chain. Jesus’ brand is on your heart. -Alan van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is resurrection.

Philippians 3:10 “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”

To know Christ is to know life in all of its complexity. Share you sufferings and know his Glory! Happy Easter. -Alan van Hooser

🌀! Your daily GODWORD is Silence

Your daily GODWORD is Silence

Psalm 47:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Sunday’s parade, Thursdays dinner and Friday’s Horror find God silent on Saturday. Be still within the racket SUNDAY IS COMING! Be ready. Alan van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is solitary

James 1:6 “Whoever asks shouldn’t hesitate. They should ask in faith, without doubting. Whoever doubts is like the surf of the sea, tossed and turned by the wind.”

Today is a day for a solitary focus. From the inside out, seek The name above all names, his name is Jesus. This is where everything comes from. -Alan van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is nurture

Deuteronomy 4:9 “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children”

Spiritual self-care is essential. Take a breath a see what God is doing for you. Tell someone, they need to hear it from you. -Alan van Hooser.

Your Daily GODWORD is community

Romans 12:4 “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”

Our body’s members look alike. Our church and community’s members don’t. In both, it takes all of them to be healthy. Make a new relationship today. -Alan van Hooser

Your daily Godword is nap

Proverbs 3:24 “You’ll take afternoon naps without a worry, you’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep. No need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner”

There you go, scripture allows for Sunday afternoon nap! Go for it and be prepared for a brand new day, -Alan Van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD Is Activate

Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Your Bible is an on-switch. Activate your faith. Open it out of devotion, & not because you have to, daily. God is that close to you. -Alan van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is kindness

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

We often only comment on unkindness. Change the world. Catch someone being kind, as God commands, and watch what happens. -Alan van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is transform

Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Change is constant and unavoidable. Transformation originates spiritually and takes work. Manage change but yearn for transformation. God is near! -Alan Van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is celebrate

Psalm 150:1 “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens!”

Church can break out anywhere. Whether restaurants, home or a park, celebrate the majesty of God. Jesus is alive! -Alan Van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is Urgent

Isaiah 55:6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;”

Things can be urgent or important. Your first thought of the day is both. When it is of God, the urgent fires don’t become your leader. Find peace when you follow God urgently. -Alan

Your daily GODWORD is today

Ephesians 3:16 “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being”

I pray for God the Holy spirit to minister to you today. Tomorrow we can pray the same thing but live today to its fullest. God’s power to you. -Alan

Your daily GODWORD is Success

Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

All success is not overtly religious but all success is steeped in faith. Find faith in the little things and be found faithful in Christ. -Alan

Your daily GODWORD is Forgiver

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

God our Forgiver frees us to be Forgiver. Let God carry it. Be a Forgiver by faith and forever be at peace with God and people. Lay that mess down. -Alan van Hooser

Psalm 46:11 “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

A power verse to encourage you and through you, to encourage another in need. I pray the name of Jesus over you today. -Alan van Hooser

Your daily GODWORD is failure

1John 4:4 “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Failure is formed by fear and found when God is left out of our lives. Faith is forged by truth. Be still and see. Find the victory where you least expect it today. -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.