Letters from My Father’s Murderer: a story of forgiveness

From time to time, I come across people with such painful issues in their background that they find it almost impossible to forgive the person who has wronged them. It’s easy for me to advise them that forgiveness is a choice, that Jesus will help them, and so on. Yet despite an apparent willingness, they have an ongoing struggle to truly forgive and find freedom.

I remember watching an interview with Christian actor, Tyler Perry, who said that in his experience it takes as much strength and time to forgive as it did to go through whatever they went through originally.

Forgiveness can be tough for some people.

Now imagine that the person they need to forgive murdered their father.

When I was offered the opportunity to review Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness by Laurie Coombs, I was intrigued by the title, which is why I agreed to read the book. It’s not often that I find a Christian non-fiction book almost impossible to put down. But more than being a page-turner, this book gives an amazing first-hand account of grace and forgiveness, and dealing with anger, hate and a desire for revenge. It shows Jesus’s power in what seems to be an impossible situation.

It’s a book I’ll be recommending ….

On another note, I rarely talk about our personal finances. Recently, Tony and I had the privilege of being interviewed by Ali Eastburn of With This Ring, an organization that teaches radical generosity. They asked us to tell stories of how costly giving has affected our lives. You can listen to the interview here.

Letters from My Father's Murderer

To all the ladies: forgive us (Brandon Chase)

This last weekend, we had a round table in Dallas based on our book, The Black Swan Effect. It was an extraordinary time, with a sometimes overwhelming sense of the Lord’s presence. God spoke to us clearly. The climax of the day was a powerful time of ministry led by Brandon Chase, where on behalf of men, he spoke to women, “Forgive us!”  Many of those present were profoundly touched, healed and set free. Brandon blogged about what he shared and has graciously given me permission to use his post. 

Having now run several of these round tables in Texas, the team now feels ready to offer them in other parts of the country. If you’re interested in facilitating one in your area, please get in touch with me.

Here’s what Brandon shared:

As I think back upon my life, and spiritual journey, it is not a stretch to say that a majority of any fruitfulness can be traced to Seeds of Sisters that were planted in me:

  • I can remember from my earliest years, as a boy, running into the room where my Great-Grandmother, Granny, lived with us. She would either be doing one of two things, watching Geraldo, or reading her beat up Bible. She would routinely scoop me up into her lap and tell me about Jesus.
  • As a pre-teen, when the rest of my family had stopped attending “church,” for some reason, I would often want to go, still. My Grandparents, and in particular, my Grandmother, Maw Maw, would make sure that I was there.
  • I love both of my parents, and respect them deeply. But I was always closer to my Mom. It was with her that I would spend hours on baseball road-trips, and evenings into the early morning – talking about life and all of its dimensions.
  • My greatest failure in life involved hurting my greatest love, my bride. Gloriously, it was in the healing after-effects of this where I really came to know Jesus for the first time. It was in His eyes of Grace, through my wife, that I saw Him.
  • During this same time frame, the person who was single-handedly most impactful in pointing not only me to Jesus, but both Marie and I, was our counselor, Beverly Ross. She was Christ incarnate to us, and we are eternally grateful.

All of these were “Spiritual” in the sense of growing me into a knowing of God, but none were in the context of how we have commonly seen “ministry” or “church.” But it was, however, Life.

I see it as no coincidence that I am a Daddy, raising two Ladies in the Kingdom.

A little more than a year ago, I wrote what amounts to a letter to them, in which I expressed my heart, a Father’s Heart, for them in the context of their Life in this Kingdom, the Church. When I read it back to myself, it dawned on me that I also see this as Father’s Heart for all of His Daughters. I have a lot of new readers since I wrote that, so if you haven’t, you may want to take a minute and do so now.

I have a dream, and my dream is Jesus.

He has a dream, and His dream is you.”

This is my heart for my daughters, and this is my understanding of Father’s heart for His Daughters. But, I know this hasn’t always been your experience, or reality. Sadly, more often than not, it has felt like what my friend Kate Wallace poetically wrote recently. It has felt like a box.

…I came to you, and you met me

You loved and cared for me

You grew me and taught me

You fashioned me and called me
 
And I took what you had given me and went back to the place I had first heard about you

I was filled with anticipation – what would they have me do?
You had given me so many gifts
 
Perhaps I could speak about you

Perhaps I could teach others to follow you

Perhaps I could spread your message to the world

Perhaps I could invite others to your table, to take part in your supper
 
For they had always prayed for you to raise up people of my generation

They had always said how desperately your Kingdom needed more voices, more hearts, more hands, and more feet
 
So, with anticipation I presented myself to them

Only to be confused by their response
 
For when I offered them this voice that you had given me

When I offered them these hands that you had strengthened

When I offered them these feet that you had guided
 
They gave me a box
 
They gave me a box in which to keep my passion

They gave me a box in which to store my wisdom

They gave me a box in which to put my words

They gave me a box to hold my hands and my feet
They gave me a box and they told me it was your “will” for me as a woman
 
When I asked if they had a box that fit a bit better, they told me to be happy with what you had given me

When I told them you had given me things that wouldn’t fit inside the box, they told me I must be mistaken

When I asked if there was anything else they could offer, they told me the box was a perfect place to keep my questions…

Ladies, I know that many of you would say that you feel this. That this has been your experience, your reality… your pain.

I want you to hear, I need you to hear – that what has caused your pain is not right. It is not ok. It is not your fault.

On behalf of all of the Brothers throughout the Church:

I confess, that we have believed a lie, we have been deceived away from Father’s Dream for His Daughters, our Sisters – one of inclusive inclusion in His Oneness of co-equality, co-creativity, and co-reign. We have instead accepted an un-reality of separation. We have caused you much pain.

I repent. On behalf of Brothers everywhere, we choose to change our mind about Father, about you, and about us. We agree with Dad that He has included all His kids, male and female, into His Family, equally.

I ask for your forgiveness. On behalf of all the Brothers, we desire reconciliation. We desire unity, togetherness, inclusion, co-___, Oneness. We desire for The Box to be forever dismantled.

Earlier, I stopped short of including the finale of Kate’s poem:

…And so I come to you
 
Me, and everything you have given me

Me, and everything you have created me to be

Me, and everything you have called me to
 
And the box
 
I’m a bit bruised from trying to fit inside of it
 

And now that I’m standing in front of you, I realize that you don’t want me to
And I see that I have a choice
 
I can keep this box they have given me and throw out all the things that don’t fit

I can ignore the time I spent with you, the gifts you have given me, the calling you gave me

I can dismember my soul in order to fit into the dimensions of the box

I can live for them and let their box define me
 
Or
 
I can trust the way you made me, the way you prepared me, the way you called me

I can lean on you for guidance and walk in the footsteps of brave women who’ve gone before me

I can live fully alive in you and trust that you are a God who is bigger than the box
 

I can set the box down and walk away

I can live for you and let you define me
 
They gave me a box – and called it yours

You offer me freedom – and call it mine
 
So I take the box

And put it on a shelf

And label it history
 
Then I take your hand and we walk away, because life with you is far better than life in a box”

Here’s the beauty of the Gospel – The Box died with Christ on the Cross.

What we hear as the Good News is that all are included, equally, from before time.

We are all created in the image and likeness of God. We exist in the Fellowship of the Divine, together. This is our Objective Reality.

But we’ve been living a lie.

The Fall veiled our Reality – and moved us into an existence of un-reality.

This un-reality of “the knowledge of good and evil” is hallmarked by fear, the need to control, shame, hiding, scapegoating, comparing, desiring what another has, defining….separating.

This un-reality created boxes – one of which was rift between man and woman.

The essence of religion is mankind working, efforting to get back, to get right with God.

Religion (wrong tree) creates “right/wrong,” “in/out” – it says man is greater than woman, in authority over woman, can do things for God that women cannot.

Religion is existing in an un-reality in our minds of separation from God… and from each other. And we’ve read all of this into our Bibles and understanding of who God is, and what He has for us.

But – the Lamb…

The Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world. God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself. We all died in Christ – therefore, so did the Box, so did the comparisons. So did the un-reality of separation.

We all are raised in Christ, and in Him live. The veil of un-reality in our minds has forever been torn so that we can subjectively experience and manifest what objectively, eternally always has been, and already is.

We are One with Divine (Father, Son, Spirit) – and One with each other.

We share THEIR image and likeness. We have been reconciled. It is ours now, to be in our reconciled Truth (reality) with and in God, and each other. We must reconcile in our own minds the Truth of our inclusive inclusion in Trinitarian Life.

So…..

I want to practically, and supernaturally practice this ministry of reconciliation, together.

Ladies… If you have never had a man, a Brother, confess for the wrong, the pain, the sin committed and caused toward you – I am that man. I stand in the gap on their behalf. I confess, that I have believed and acted out of un-reality toward you.

If you’ve never seen repentance from a man, a Brother, who has made you to feel “less than” in the Body – I am that man. I stand in the gap on their behalf. I repent. I change my mind. I see, believe and will live from Divine Oneness and Inclusion in the shared image and likeness. I turn away from separation from each other, and choose to see the Divine imprint in all humanity, especially the female form.

Finally, on behalf of all men, I am the man who humbly asks your forgiveness. That, together, we move forward in Unified Oneness – in Love – that a hungry and broken and watching world that is still living a veiled un-reality – may see and know that our Father is Love, that by our Love of one another, we too, are Love – and that in seeing Love, they too would know Him – Love – within.

Then I take your hand and we walk away, because life with you is far better than life in a box.”

Our Life, our Reality, is in Him, with Him, One with Him. There is no Box, only the lie of a Box that has been allowed to be told, and lived in. The Truth is, we can only Really exist, together. I need you. You need me. We need each other. We are better (The Best), together. As we take His hand, let us do so hand in hand, unboxed, and walk with Him… with each other.

I love you. God bless you.

///

Brothers, I urge you, to ask Holy Spirit about the Ladies in your life. Consider your legacy and lineage. Consider what you’ve seen, what you’ve experienced, what you’ve done. Then, ask Him to show you what they have seen, experienced, and had done to them. In His mind, weare reconciled, One. If you can see that, it may be yours now to supernaturally allow space for that reconciliation to be subjectively received, experienced, manifested. In my experience, this starts with your humble confession, repentance, and appeal toward forgiveness and unified Oneness.

Freedom!

Photo Credit: rAmmoRRison via Compfight cc

An opposite spirit

A few weeks back we had a round table at our home. The purpose of it was to follow up on The Black Swan Effect: A response to gender hierarchy in the church. What is God doing? Should we be doing anything more to follow up from the book?

To my amazement, even though the team responsible for the round table sent out the invitation to a very limited group of people, both men and women traveled in from all over the country to take part. They were all high-caliber people, many with ministries of their own.

After initial introductions, we each spent time on our own listening to what God was saying about the area of women in the church and specifically about men and women working together as equals in the Kingdom. When we came back to report on what we had heard, there were striking similarities in what people shared.

Any movement that results in women and men working together as co-equals is to be characterized by love, humility, forgiveness, laying down our lives. Nothing is to be done to get even or to get revenge, or even to demand our own way. As we willingly have an opposite spirit to the natural or world’s way of doing things, we’ll find that God is at work on our behalf.

Heroines of the faith: Corrie ten Boom

“There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still,” were among the final words to her sister, Corrie, as Betsie ten Boom lay dying in a German death camp, a victim of starvation and torture.

Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who worked in her father’s watch repair shop in Haarlem, Holland. When the Germans invaded Holland in 1940, the whole family became involved in the Dutch resistance movement. They constructed a secret hidden chamber, thirty inches deep, in Corrie’s bedroom on the top floor of their home above the shop where they hid Jews and others from the Nazi SS troops. Throughout 1943 and 44 there were usually at least 6 people hiding in their home. Additional refugees were given temporary accommodation until other places could be found for them.

In February of 1944, an informant betrayed them. The entire family was arrested, although the Nazis didn’t find the Jews hidden in the secret room. They were rescued later by members of the Resistance. Their elderly father died 10 days later in prison. Other members of the family were released, but Corrie and her sister, Betsie, were sent to the notorious Ravensbruck concentration camp. There they endured unspeakable horrors, but held onto their faith. They were even able to conduct Bible studies using a contraband Bible.

Betsie died on December 16th 1944, and due to a clerical error, Corrie was released two weeks later, just one week before all women prisoners her age were executed.

After the war, Corrie set up rehabilitation centers for concentration camp survivors, and also for Dutch people who had collaborated with the Germans and were unable to get jobs. She spoke everywhere about the need for forgiveness.

In 1947, this was put to the test. She had just finished speaking at a meeting in Germany when a man in an overcoat and brown hat came up to her. She recognized him instantly as one of the guards who had abused her and Betsie.

“I was a guard in Ravensbruck, but since then, I’ve become a Christian. I know Christ has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there. Will you forgive me?” And he put out his hand.

This was the most difficult thing Corrie had ever been asked to do, but as she, by choice of will, gave him her hand, the love of Christ flooded her whole being, and she was able to say, “Yes, brother, I forgive you, with all of my heart!”

Sometimes there are books that have such an impact on your life that you can remember them decades later.  The Hiding Place  Corrie’s autobiography, became a best-seller that was later made into a movie.  I still remember its story and message.

Corrie traveled to over 60 nations, preaching the message of Christ’s forgiveness. Thousands became believers through her many books and her speaking.

Among her awards:

  • Israel honored her by giving her the title “Righteous Among the Nations.”
  • She was knighted by the Queen of the Netherlands for her work during the war.

Corrie died in 1983 on her 91st birthday.

(Information for this post came from here and here)

(Photo from Christianity.com)