- 2014Nov 17
The following is a repost of one of my most popular posts that I've edited and revised a bit. I believe it contains important truths for each of us to consider. What I'd like you to take away from this article more than anything else is this: we are not victims. "Victim" is not our identity. We may have been on the receiving end of evil, but that evil does not change our identity. Far too many people carrying the heavy label of victim around on their shoulders. Far too many of us are crushed beneath the weight of this false identity. It's time to free ourselves.
I never intended to be a victim.
Shortly after my dad was murdered, my family and I were referred to the victim services department at the courthouse. It was the first time we were called victims, but I honestly didn’t consider myself to be the victim at the time. My dad was the victim, not my family and me.
But somehow, I think the victim thing crept in, and my dad’s death became a defining moment of my life. I didn’t want to be defined by this tragedy, but I was. I became the girl whose dad was murdered. I hated being this person. I hated being a murder victim’s daughter, but as far as I saw it, it’s who I was. I couldn’t escape it.
I guess I am a victim, I finally concluded.
At this time in my life, I was very much in the world. I didn’t know God, and I certainly wasn’t following Jesus yet. But after living with this identity for close to ten years, I met Jesus, and when I did, He completely rocked my world. It was then that I began to cry out to Him for an alternative. I needed a new identity. I was tired of being the murder victim’s daughter. I wanted to be someone new. I wanted a new story––one that didn’t end with death and tragedy, but ended with life, hope, joy, and peace.
I cried out to God, begging Him to allow me to see as He saw. Asking Him to reveal who I am in His eyes. Pleading with Him to take away the reproach that came along with being a victim.
And this was how my journey began.
It wasn’t long after that Jesus called me to forgive Anthony, the man who murdered my dad, and I was given the grace needed to abandon my victim identity in exchange for my new, true Gospel identity. The truth that I learned throughout that journey profoundly altered my perception of who I am. The truth is that:
I am not a victim.
I am a child of God.
I am redeemed.
I am chosen, precious in my Father’s sight, and loved beyond measure.
I am healed from my past.
I am forgiven. I am freed to forgive others.
And my past sins, as well as the sins committed against me, bear no penalty upon my present or my future.
Quite honestly, I was a victim far too long, but it doesn't have to be that way for the rest of you. We are victims only as long as we say we are. And so what we need is a mind-shift. Maintaining a victim mentality only harms us further, allowing the clouds of yesterday to cast their shadow over our joy today. (This analogy is not my own, but I don’t have a source to attribute it to. I just love this word picture, though, and so I had to use it!) Forgiveness, however, frees us from all this destruction. For the moment we forgive––leaving the offender to the judgement of God––we are set free. We are free to live out of our real identity. The one established by God.
You see, you are not a victim. Or at least, "victim is not your identity."
The same is true of you as I said of myself, if you are a follower of Christ.
In Christ, you are a child of God.
You are redeemed.
You are chosen, precious in your Father’s sight, and loved beyond measure.
You are forgiven. And now, you are free to forgive.
Truly, your past sins––and the sins committed against you––have no claim on your present or your future.
This is your true identity.
Allow yourself to believe this. Go there. Believe. And I can assure you that your life will never be the same.
- 2014Nov 07
Get you up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Behold your God!”
- Isaiah 40:9
"Heaven" has been released! The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has done an incredible job with this powerful, thirty minute message, and I wanted to take a moment to share it with you.
Quite honestly, I am still humbled to have been a part of this project. It's unbelievable, really. Billy Graham has been an inspiration to me in my faith, as he has been to millions of others, since my early days as a new Christian. I remember reading his book, The Journey: Living by Faith in an Uncertain World (affiliate link), just about one year after coming to Christ. I was looking for answers, trying to figure out how to do this whole following Jesus thing, and it seemed to me that if I could glean wisdom from anyone, it would be Dr. Graham. And so, I found myself reading a book that I would have never picked up the year before. Now, I may have shared this once before––I honestly can't remember––but this was the very book that God used to set me down the path I find myself on today––the book God used to tell me to love my enemy.
At that point in my walk, I had come to the realization that I needed to not only read and agree God's Word but do it. I had come to see that the Christian life is not intended to be some set of principles I gave mere assent to, but that the Christian life was intended to be lived out. When I became a Christ follower, I was not called to some passive Christian life, and neither are you. I mean, after all, James 1:22 says, "be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." Now of course, we are not saved by our works but by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-10). But James 2:17 says, "So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." Faith is intended to be active. We're actually called to do this stuff.
As I read about what the Bible said about loving my enemy in Billy Graham's book back then, I knew what I was being called to do, and so it was that next morning that I called the Nevada Department of Corrections to ask how I might be able to visit the man who murdered my dad in an effort to do God's Word, and as you may know, God has used that little bit of obedience in ways I could have never imagined. Billy Graham's words were used to set me down this path. After that, I prayed something like, "Lord, it sure would be neat to be able to meet Billy Graham someday." Now of course I didn't think God would ever answer that prayer, but all I really wanted was to give this amazing man of God a nice big hug to say thank you for being the one God used to start me on the path that brought me the peace and healing I so desperately needed. That's all. I just wanted to share the love of Jesus with him through a hug.
Now of course, I never imagined I'd have anything to do with Billy Graham's ministry. I never did pursue contact with him or his ministry, and so you can imagine how surprised I was last spring when I received an email from Billy Graham's senior producer of film, asking to speak with me about the My Hope project they were putting together. This request came quite literally out of nowhere.
The filming of this project was an incredible, yet surreal, experience though. My family and I absolutely loved the film crew. Honestly, if we could get each of them to move in next door to be our neighbors, we would do it! They are all such wonderful people, and it was an honor to work with others who were living their lives sold out for Jesus. As we were filming, I remembered that silly prayer I had prayed years before, and I couldn't help but think that God had come pretty close to answering that prayer. I never did have the opportunity to meet Dr. Graham, but I've come closer than I ever thought I would, and I can only hope that my story used in the film will bring that nice warm hug to those who watch it.
My hope (no pun intended) with this film is that it is used to the glory of God. It's intended to be an evangelistic tool to bring hope and healing to many through the knowledge of Jesus Christ. I pray it's used to bring many to know the Lord and to remind believers just what Jesus has done for us, spurring them on to share the good news of the gospel with those around them.
I'd greatly appreciate any support of this project that you are willing to offer. If you feel so led, consider hosting a viewing in your home or church or simply share the film on social media!
Thank you!!! I pray you and many others are blessed by this new message from Billy Graham!
Access and share the film!
If you'd like to watch or share the trailer, visit "Heaven - A New Message from Billy Graham (Official Trailer)".
The TV broadcast premier will be November 7th. You can see all 331 airtimes in November listed by visiting the My Hope website (and more showtimes will be added).
If you’d like a FREE DVD for yourself or to share with a group or your church, you can request one on the My Hope site by clicking here.
AND NOW, you can watch and share the full film below!
Heaven: A New Message from Billy Graham
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the film! Let me know what you think! Share in the comments section on my blog.
- 2014Oct 23
Our pastors have been teaching a series on hope, using the recently release book The Hope Quotient by Ray Johnston. Shortly before the series began, my pastor and I had spoken to one another about bringing my story to our church. And after a while, he asked if I'd be willing to film a short video to be used during this series to illustrate the truth that hope can be found on the other side of tragedy. To show that God does, in fact, work all things for good for those who know and love Him. I'm sharing that video here with you today, and I pray God uses it as He intends to bring greater perspective and hope and light to those who need it.