Leslie Vernick
February 3rd, 2015                                                                                
What's New?
  • Moving Beyond People Pleasing: REGISTER NOW - Only A Few Spots Left.  Click here for more information.
  • Meet Leslie: Fulleton Evangelical Free Church, Sunday February 8th @ 5PM PST 2904 S. Brea Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92835. Leslie will speak on the 5 most common mistakes people helpers making when working with Emotionally Destructive Marriages. All are welcomed.

 
 
 
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Do You Struggle Forgiving
 Yourself?

By Leslie Vernick
 

Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is you.  Perhaps you have had an abortion, been involved in an extra-marital affair, done something really stupid, or hurt someone deeply through your sinful or foolish behaviors.

 

For some, even lesser sins or mistakes cause the same internal anguish.   We’re endlessly tormented with the thought, “I should have known better,” or “What’s wrong with me” or “I can’t believe I did that.”  Or “How could I have been so stupid, weak, blind, etc.”

 

When we aren’t able to move beyond our own failures, mistakes, and even sins, we can get stuck in spiral of debilitating regret, depression, and even self-hatred. 

 

Yes, we know (or hear) God forgives us but the problem is we just can’t forgive ourselves.  We may be told something like, “If the God of the Universe was willing to come to earth, become human, and sacrifice himself to forgive your sins, who are you not to forgive others, or your own self?”

 

Yet that theological truth can be difficult if not impossible to put into practice when you’re smack in the middle of ruminating over your stupid mistakes, missed opportunities, or grievous sin.  Although mentally acknowledged, God’s grace is not your internal reality. It’s theological truth but not transformational truth. 

 

The way out of this internal bondage is not self-forgiveness; but rather self-acceptance.   Although it’s hard for you to recognize the true problem, the reason you can’t forgive yourself is that deep down you don’t want to have anything to need forgiveness for.  You want to be like God – perfect and in control of all things.

 

You believe you should know how to always do it right, to say it right, to know ahead of time what the right answer should be or what right solution will best solve a problem.  You believe you shouldn’t ever mess up, or sin big time.  Deep down you believe if only you could live that way, then you’d feel better about yourself.

 

But when you fail (and as a mere mortal and sinful being you inevitably will), you feel profound disappointment and shame about yourself.  You can’t believe how stupid, sinful, foolish, incompetent, scared, irresponsible, selfish, (whatever) you are. In beating yourself up, you are reinforcing your internal lie that you should have been better than that.

 

Before you can experientially accept God’s grace and forgiveness, you must first emotionally (not merely intellectually) accept who you are.  There is only one God and you are not him.  You are a creature: one who is called both saint and sinner, beautiful and broken.

 

Humility is the only path that will give you the internal freedom you crave because once you are humble – Jesus called it “poor in spirit,” you are in a position to emotionally accept who you are— a fallible, imperfect creature who doesn’t know it all.  Then you are no longer shocked, shamed, or disappointed when you see your darker, sinful, weaker side. 

 

Friend, it is not your sins and failures that cause your greatest emotional pain. Rather it is your unrealistic expectations of yourself and your lack of acceptance when you mess up.   In a backwards way, your pride has been wounded.  You are disappointed that you aren’t better than you are.  But the truth is, you’re not.  In embracing that truth, you are also set free to embrace and experience the beauty of God’s grace.

 

Now the grip of self-hatred for being imperfect no longer has the same power over you.

 

Now that same emotional energy can be used to humbly ask for forgiveness from others where necessary. Instead of hating yourself for your sins and failures and weaknesses, now you can learn from them so you grow and don’t  continually repeat your mistakes.

 

Now you can fully experience what you so desperately crave, God’s love and forgiveness for your sinful, imperfect self.

 

One of my favorite old fashioned mentors, François Fénelon wisely wrote, “Go forward always with confidence, without letting yourself be touched by the grief of a sensitive pride, which cannot bear to see itself imperfect.”

 

Go forward friend and emotionally accept your imperfections.  It is in that place of humility coupled with Christ’s unconditional forgiveness will you find the freedom you long for.


 
 
 
 
Five Indicators Of An Evil And Wicked Heart
 

As Christian counselors, pastors and people helpers we often have a hard time discerning between an evil heart and an ordinary sinner who messes up, who isn’t perfect, and full of weakness and sin.

 

I think one of the reasons we don’t “see” evil is because we find it so difficult to believe that evil individuals actually exist. We can’t imagine someone deceiving us with no conscience, hurting others with no remorse, spinning outrageous fabrications to ruin someone’s reputation, or pretending he or she is spiritually committed yet has no fear of God before his or her eyes.

 

The Bible clearly tells us that among God’s people there are wolves that wear sheep’s clothing (Jeremiah 23:14; Titus 1:10; Revelations 2:2). It’s true that every human heart is inclined toward sin (Romans 3:23), and that includes evil (Genesis 8:21; James 1:4). We all miss God’s mark of moral perfection. However, most ordinary sinners do not happily indulge evil urges, nor do we feel good about having them. We feel ashamed and guilty, rightly so (Romans 7:19-21). These things are not true of the evil heart.

 

Below are five indicators that you may be dealing with an evil heart rather than an ordinary sinful heart. If so, it requires a radically different treatment approach.

  1. Evil hearts are experts at creating confusion and contention. They twist the facts, mislead, lie, avoid taking responsibility, deny reality, make up stories, and withhold information (Psalms 5:8; 10:7; 58:3; 109:2-5; 140:2; Proverbs 6:13,14; 6:18,19; 12:13; 16:20; 16:27, 28; 30:14; Job 15:35; Jeremiah 18:18; Nehemiah 6:8;Micah 2:1; Matthew 12:34,35; Acts 6:11-13; 2 Peter 3:16).
  1. Evil hearts are experts at fooling others with their smooth speech and flattering words. But if you look at the fruit of their lives or the follow through of their words, you will find no real evidence of godly growth or change. It’s all smoke and mirrors (Psalm 50:19; 52:2,3; 57:4, 59:7; 101:7; Proverbs 12:5; 26:23-26; 26:28; Job 20:12; Jeremiah 9: 3,4; 12:6; Matthew 26:59; Acts 6:11-13; Romans 16:17,18; 2 Corinthians 11:13,14; 2 Timothy 3:2-5; 3:13; Titus 1:10,16).
  1. Evil hearts crave and demand control and their highest authority is their own self-reference. They reject feedback, real accountability and make up their own rules to live by. They use Scripture to their own advantage but ignore and reject passages that might require self-correction and repentance (Romans 2:8; Psalms 10; 36:1-4; 50:16-22; 54:5,6; 73:6-9; Proverbs 21:24; Jude 1:8-16).
  1. Evil hearts play on the sympathies of good-willed people, often trumping the grace card. They demand mercy but give none themselves. They demand warmth, forgiveness, and intimacy from those they have harmed with no empathy for the pain they have caused and no real intention of making amends or working hard to rebuild broken trust (Proverbs 21:10; 1 Peter 2:16; Jude 1:4).
  1. Evil hearts have no conscience, no remorse. They do not struggle against sin or evil, they delight in it, all the while masquerading as someone of noble character. (Proverbs 2:14-15; 10:23; 12:10; 21:27,29 Isaiah 32:6; Romans 1:30; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

If you are working with someone who exhibits these characteristics it’s important that you confront them head on. You must name evil for what it is. The longer you try to reason with them or show mercy towards them, the more you, as the Christian counselor, will become a pawn in his or her game.

 

They want you to believe that:

  1. Their horrible actions should have no serious or painful consequences. When they say, “I’m sorry”, they look to you as the pastor or Christian counselor to be their advocate for amnesty with the person they have harmed. They believe grace means they are immediately granted immunity from the relational fallout of their serious sin. They believe forgiveness entitles them to full reconciliation and will pressure you and their victim to comply.

The Bible warns us saying, “But when grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the Lord (Isaiah 26:10).

 

The Bible tells us that talking doesn’t wake up evil people but painful consequences might. Jesus didn’t wake up the Pharisees with his talk nor did God’s counsel impact Cain (Genesis 4). In addition, the Bible shows us that when someone is truly sorry for the pain they have caused, they are eager to make amends to those they have harmed by their sin. (See Zacchaeus’s response when he repented of his greed in Luke 19.)

 

Tim Keller writes, “If you have been the victim of a heinous crime. If you have suffered violence, and the perpetrator (or even the judge) says, “Sorry, can’t we just let it go? You would say, “No, that would be an injustice.” Your refusal would rightly have nothing to do with bitterness or vengeance. If you have been badly wronged, you know that saying sorry is never enough. Something else is required some kind of costly payment must be made to put things right.” [1]

 

As Biblical counselors let’s not collude with the evil one by turning our attention to the victim, requiring her to forgive, to forget, to trust again when there has been no evidence of inner change in the one who has been practicing evil. Proverbs says, “Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips” (Proverbs. 25:19). It’s foolishness.

 

The evil person will also try to get you to believe

  1. That if I talk like a gospel-believing Christian I am one, even if my actions don’t line up with my talk. Remember, Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). He knows more true doctrine than you or I will ever know but his heart is wicked. Why? Because although he knows the truth, he does not believe it or live it.

The Bible has some strong words for those whose actions do not match their talk (1 John 3:17,18; Jeremiah 7:8,10; James 1:22, 26). John the Baptist said it best when he admonished the religious leaders: “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God (Luke 3:8).

 

If week after week you hear the talk but there is no change in the walk of that person, especially if you are also receiving feedback from the person who has been sinned against that there is continued covert harm, deceit, and manipulation, you have every reason to question that person’s relationship with God.

 

Part of our maturity as spiritual leaders is that we are to be trained to discern between good and evil. Why is that so important? It’s important because evil usually pretends to be good and without godly discernment we can be easily fooled (Hebrews 5:14).

 

When you confront evil, chances are good that the evil heart will stop counseling with you because the darkness hates the light (John 3:20) and the foolish and evil heart reject correction (Proverbs 9:7,8). But that outcome is far better than allowing the evil heart to believe you are on his or her side, or that “he’s not that bad” or “that he’s really sorry,” or “that he’s changing” when in fact, he is not.

 

Daniel says, “the wicked will continue to be wicked”, (Daniel 12:10), which begs the question, do you think an evil person can really change?


 

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IN THIS ISSUE
 
ARTICLE

Do You Struggle Forgiving Yourself?

 

COACHING 
Accepting Coaching Applications
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WHAT'S NEW? 
Take a look at the upcoming events to watch for from Leslie
 
BOOK GIVEAWAY 
Avoiding The 12 Relationship Mistakes Women Make by Georgia Shaffer
 
LESLIE ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS
5 Indicators Of An Evil And Wicked Heart
 
 
COACHING INFORMATION
For more information on Leslie's coaching program, please click below:

 

Coaching Programs

 
 
BOOK GIVEAWAY
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Avoiding The 12 Relationship Mistakes Women Make
By
Georgia Shaffer
 

Licensed psychologist and certified life coach Georgia Shaffer reveals 12 ways you could be undermining your chances of enjoying fulfilling relationships.

 

Drawing on insights from Scripture and her own case studies, Georgia empowers you to identify blind spots in your own life, minimize their destructive impact, and turn damaging patterns into productive ones.

 

"Seriously, how does she do that? How does Georgia Shaffer so completely nail those incredibly important relationship issues we so easily miss? Even better, in Avoiding the 12 Relationship Mistakes Women Make, Georgia's clear, practical, and beautifully biblical helps are spot-on for not simply identifying the obstacles, but for bringing us to the place of breakthrough--and bringing us to that sweet place of making better, wiser, God-honoring decisions.

This is life-changing stuff!"


- Rhonda Rhea.
 
If you would like to enter to win, you can click here to provide your name and email address.

 

The Winners of Deceived By Shame, Desired By God by Cynthia Humbert are Carolyn W.. & Karen M..

 
 
 
UPCOMING EVENTS
 

February 4, 2015

Leslie will be taping at New life Headquarters in California for their radio and television show. Details on aired date coming soon. Please pray for her.


February 8, 2015
Fullerton Evangelical Free Church

Fullerton, CA

5:00 PM Service

 
March 6, 2015
First Friday Event
SouthLake, TX
 
April 17-18, 2015
Desire Biblical Counseling Conference
Clarks Summit, PA
 
February 24, 2015
Listen to Leslie talk with Dr. Sheri Keffer and Steve Arterburn on Destructive Relationships on New Life Live Radio.
 
 
HERE'S WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT LESLIE'S COACHING
 

 

"Leslie’s coaching has been an anchor in the storm. She kept me grounded through the worst of the storms when I was just beginning to realize my marriage was abusive and the aftermath that ensued. She speaks the truth in love in such a way that I believe the Spirit has specifically gifted her in her abilities.

Leslie doesn’t tell you what you should do, but rather helps you see the truth for yourself, which is empowering. She relates to you with a great blend of professionalism and realism.

She also encourages goal setting and her light “homework” was very helpful in keeping things in perspective.


Leslie speaks from a biblical viewpoint- helping you to see your personal situation through scripture while keeping a focus on gratitude (without being dismissive of the real issues). I have read several of her books and will happily recommend her books and coaching to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship and struggling to find their way.


Choosing Leslie as a coach was frankly the best decision I made when I decided to start standing up for the truth in my marriage. I am forever grateful for the wisdom she imparted.
Leslie has been an absolute blessing to me! " 

 

- Valerie

 
 
 
LESLIE WELCOMES YOUR QUESTIONS
 

Leslie wants to help you grow in your personal and relational effectiveness. Please submit your questions by clicking here.


Then, visit Leslie's Blog as she posts her responses to one question per week.


Note: Due to the volume of questions that Leslie receives, she is unable to respond to every question.

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