A Closer Walk: Sometimes You Need A Real Friend

We have all encountered Job’s “friends.” You know, those would-be comforters with their Biblical counsel that cuts like a knife.

But sometimes you need a real friend, like it or not.

faithful friend

I’m not talking about the, “Hey, how the heck are you?” kind of friend you see once in a blue moon. No, I’m talking about the kind of friend who will always be there, no matter what.

That kind of friend is very rare.

They walk in—when the world walks out.

Best Friends

So, there I was.

Life had ground to a complete halt.

Because of my daily blinding headaches I can’t work, I can’t drive, I can’t read or write, or even watch TV.

Now, it’s just God and me, and all the time in the world to chat.

Problem was, I didn’t want to talk. Not in those early days!

So, God did the speaking and I did the listening. What else could I do? I could barely walk across a room! Besides, have you ever tried to walk out on Omnipresence?

just a closer walk(Not likely!)

So, God begins to speak.

He starts by reminding me of others who had gone through a pretty rough time.

Guys in the Bible like Joseph, and Job, and Jeremiah.

I love the book of Jeremiah!

Jeremiah knew just what it was like to have his life fall apart, and yet he still wrote in the book of Lamentations,

Yet there is one ray of hope: his compassion never ends… Great is his faithfulness: his lovingkindness begins afresh each day. (3: 21-23)God was about to teach me this truth.

He is a faithful friend even when you don’t want Him to be.

Each morning He would show up dispelling my darkness with His Light and whispering His encouragement into my stubborn ears.

It may sound crazy, but in a way?

I resented His coming.

life is broken

Wasn’t it too late?

What earthly good would talking do now? My life was a mess with everything broken. (I mean, really broken!) I didn’t want to do damage assessment. I wanted things back the way they were!

God on the other hand, wanted me front and center—up close and real personal.

I didn’t know it yet, but He was there to bring the answer to a long forgotten prayer.

We were definitely face-to-face…

heart to heart with God

But heart-to-heart?

Not really.

So He asked me a question…

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ONE WAY

How do you think My children see Me?

Take some time. Really think about it.

What does the scripture say?

Jesus said to His friend Philip, “…if you’ve seen Me you’ve seen the Father.” You can always “see Me” by looking at My Son.

Now, look at the verse for today.

When I see you how do I see you?

When you see Me how do you see Me?

face to face with God

So often, My child, you try to see Me looking through yourself.

You wonder why your views of Me are clouded or distorted?

But, how could they be otherwise?

To see Me you must see Jesus. And to see you? The way I do? You must also see Jesus.

It is by your faith in My written word that you have been made right in My sight!

Where does your peace with Me (and with yourself) come from?

Yes, yes, being found right in My sight.

And, whenever I look at you, how do I see you?

Through My Son’s death and resurrection!

How often My children sing of “blood-bought and blood-washed,” but how few really SEE it!

walking with JesusI no longer see the darkness of sin when I look at you.

And you will never see Me for who I AM based on what you see in yourself.

There is only One Way, One Door, One Life. His name is: JESUS.

Now, do you see?

a closer walk“So now, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith in his promises, we can have a real peace with him because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” Romans 5:1Romans 5:1
English: World English Bible - WEB

5 1 Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ;

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A Closer Walk: Where Do You Take Your Anger and Hurt?

What do you do when the One you trusted to always take care of you, always be there for you, let’s you down? Where do you take your anger and your hurt?

where do you go?

You realize you’re adrift, because the One you really need to talk to about everything, is the very One you are convinced has betrayed you.

Talk about frustrating.

Now what do you do?

Where do you go?

To whom do you speak?

That was my dilemma.

I had “believed” with all my heart that I had developed this face-to-face, heart-to-heart relationship with God. I had believed His word promised that He would always protect me. He was “my hiding place” where I could run and tuck myself under His wings… close… right next to A Heart that I just knew, would never let me down.

At least that’s what all the songs and bible verses had said—had promised.

Only, I was let down.

Monumentally so.

And I hurt.

I hurt

Like Job, my life was shattered in a million impossible pieces and I was wrestling with how to reconcile my understanding of all those beautiful bible promises with my confusing and darkening realities. This ugly stuff wasn’t supposed to happen to someone who had trusted and obeyed! Was it? And, as if my hurt and confusion wasn’t bad enough, add to it, all my so called friends and family had stepped way back, only watching my chaotic life from a nice cool distance.

Daily, their stony silence speaking volumes to my bleeding soul.

Ah yes, Job’s friends.

The “One” who could have prevented all of this—didn’t.

Now what was I supposed to do? To, believe? What kind of a GOD was this? And, why had He deserted me?

What had I done but trust Him utterly?

I had no answers, only lots of confused questions, hurt, and anger.

For three long months, each day I awoke to another day of turmoil. Sitting in stunned angry silence. (I smile now, remembering.) Because even though I didn’t want to talk to God, God was having none of it!

And so He began to gently whisper… and I listened.

I was desperate.

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I AM WITH YOU

Talk to Me.

I AM here: with you.

I know the others left you ~ let you down. My friends sometimes let Me down, too. They tried. They just couldn’t be there for Me. You know. Your friends have let you down, too.

(I know.)

You will have to make the same choice I did. You will have to forgive them their weaknesses and frailty. Come, if I did it, you can too.

I’ll help you.

You must learn the difference between the finite and the infinite ~ between potence, impotence, and omnipotence.

broken vessel

POTENCE: a vessel for force and power. That’s you! In all these difficulties and trials I AM creating in you a ‘force and power’ for My Kingdom. What you are going through, is preparing you, for what you are believing Me for. I will help you through.

Now, IMPOTENCE.

(We have talked of this.)

I want you to understand and learn, once-and-for-all, where power comes from:

“Vain is the arm of flesh.”

Your friends only have influence. I give you power.

Which brings Me to OMNIPOTENCE: unlimited power!

(That’s me of course.)

Dearest, can you see now? For Kingdom work influence will not carry you through. You need Me. I AM your supply of unlimited power!

Apart from Me you can do nothing.

That’s not idle chatter ~ that’s your LIFE!

a closer walk

 

“But God is my helper. He is a friend of mine.”

Psalm 54:4Psalm 54:4
English: World English Bible - WEB

4 Behold, God is my helper. The Lord is the one who sustains my soul.

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Women Who Move Mountains: Not The Status Quo!

Women Who Move Mountains kind of blew my doors off. I mean, if you’re looking for the status quo in books on prayer, this is NOT it.

Women Who Move Mountains

Sue Detweiler has written a book with a fresh new approach to an old problem in the church—namely our prayerlessness!

When I read a book on prayer, frankly I am expecting a whole wheelbarrow of “should” and “ought” with a healthy sprinkling of “guilt” thrown in for good measure.

Instead, Women Who Move Mountains takes us on a journey to inner healing and wholeness that comes out into “a wide and spacious place” of new and fresh intimacy with God.

Wow! This is definitely not where I thought this book would lead me. Yet, Mrs. Detweiler seems to believe that it is our unhealed insecurities, wounds, and life-baggage that keep us following God at a distance—and thereby increases our reluctance to pray.

When you think about it this makes total sense to me.

I especially appreciated this book’s down-to-earth, heart-to-heart, “let’s ALL get REAL” approach. She uses simple and honest stories to illustrate clearly why she believes most of us avoid prayer. There are three bonus sections in the back of the book: 21 Days To Spiritual Breakthrough, Guidelines For Taking A Spiritual Retreat, and Guidelines For Fasting.

I think that this is possibly the most “common sense” book on prayer, and learning to pray with power, that I have ever read.

I also liked the fact that Women Who Move Mountains is tailored for group study, but the author’s website also offers a free downloadable journal so the reader can do this book solo if they desire.

SueDetweiler.com

You may get your copy of the book from Amazon or at any other fine book retailer.

I want to thank Bethany House Publishers for sending me this complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my review.

Rejection, Heartache and a Faithful God by Lysa Terkeurst

No person’s rejection of me can ever exempt me from God’s love for me.
A Gut-Honest Look at Love.” That was the title of my first blog post of this year. Based on 1 Corinthians 13, I wrote, “Love isn’t what I have the opportunity to get from this world, love is what I have the opportunity to give.
This perspective on love has been a lifeline during the most painful season and decision of my adult life. I so wish we were sitting face-to-face so you could see my tears and hear the deep grief in my voice as I share this with you. My husband, life partner and father of my children, Art TerKeurst, has been repeatedly unfaithful to me with a woman he met online, bringing an end to our marriage of almost 25 years. For the past couple of years, his life has sadly been defined by his affection for this other woman and substance abuse. I don’t share this to harm or embarrass him, but to help explain why I have decided to separate from him and pursue a divorce. God has now revealed to me that I have done all I can do and I must release him to the Savior.

Anyone who knows me and Proverbs 31 Ministries knows how seriously I take marriage. I’ve always encouraged women to fight for their marriages and to do everything possible to save them when they come under threat. So, for the past couple of years I have been in the hardest battle of my life trying to save my marriage.

When I first found out about Art’s infidelity 18 months ago, I made the decision not to divorce him. I had just finished fasting and praying for 28 days and really felt led by the Lord that I was to love Art in my reaction to this shocking news and trust God for every step moving forward. I was still committed to doing everything I could think of to make our story one of restoration, even in the face of the worst kind of betrayal imaginable. I prayed continually. I sought counsel from family and other wise friends. And Art and I even made repeated trips across the country together for intensive counseling especially designed for marriages in crisis. But sadly, though I have repeatedly forgiven and accepted him back, he has continued to abuse substances, be unfaithful, and refused to be truthful to me and our family.

I believe I have the capacity to love Art and to forgive him, but his steadfast refusal to end the infidelity has led me to make the hardest decision of my life. After much prayer and consultation with wise, biblically-minded people, I have decided that Art has abandoned our marriage. Yet, the Lord has been so faithful to help me at every step of this very painful journey and has now assured me I’ve done all I can do.

I am brokenhearted beyond what I can express. But I am more committed than ever to trusting God, His promises, and His plans, whatever they are from here.

As many of you who have followed our ministry know, I’ve never shied away from sharing how God has gotten me through tough seasons and even grown me through my struggles. Thankfully, my story has been one of learning that I’m not defined by my circumstances. I’m Lysa, a beloved child of the one true God. My true identity doesn’t shift or fall apart under life’s strains, failures, my own imperfections, setbacks or heartaches. While people—even God’s people—change, I’m so glad I serve a God who doesn’t. I love this verse in Malachi 3:6Malachi 3:6
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6 “For I, Yahweh, don’t change; therefore you, sons of Jacob, are not consumed.

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“I the Lord do not change; therefore you, children of Jacob, are not consumed.”

So what does all of this mean for Proverbs 31 Ministries and for me? Well, for over 20 years I’ve had a calling supported by my family for equipping women to deepen their relationship with God, study His Word, and to share their stories for God’s glory. Though my heart is so heavy that I’ve certainly pondered giving up, I’m determined not to let darkness win here. Therefore, after a season of rest and continued Biblical and professional counseling, I will continue to do ministry with an even deeper belief in the goodness of our God and a greater empathy for the deep heartbreak that happens to us all in this broken world.

Many people think Proverbs 31 is a picture of a perfect woman; but the Proverbs 31 woman is, at her core, someone who seeks the Lord in everything she does and trusts Him wholeheartedly with her life. Our mission is to meet women where they are in the real, hard places we all experience, and to intersect God’s Word right there. We are simply a group of women sold out to saying yes to God—and He truly does the rest.

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” That’s what the Psalmist wrote long ago (Psalm 27:13Psalm 27:13
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13 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of Yahweh in the land of the living.

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) and it beautifully reflects what I’m holding on to in the midst of the deep grief my children and I are now walking through. We have some amazing counselors and pastoral leaders who are committed to helping us pursue healing and learn how to move forward.

What can you do for us? I’d simply ask you to pray. Pray for my precious children and grandchildren. Pray for me. Pray for our team at Proverbs 31. And yes, please, please pray for Art.

I love you all. Most of all, I love the Lord, who first loved me.

 

Leading Women on the Adventure of Faith

© 2016 LYSA TERKEURST ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

A Closer Walk: That First Faint Whisper

I remember after my accident the first faint whisper God spoke. I sat every day in the ashes of my burned-down-life, not sure if I even wanted to recover from all the devastation I saw.

life falling apartA weariness had enveloped me that was beyond anything I had ever experienced before.

That place, right in the middle of all my MESS—God showed up.

I wish I could tell you I was in this super-spiritual place but the truth is I was trying to contemplate a life without God. My disappointment went far beyond my rage at my circumstances. I was just “finished” and God and I both knew it!

That had been our deal.

I had returned to my faith from “the world” as beat-up prodigal who didn’t believe “a God of love” even existed. So, before I was even willing to try out this “Christian” thing again, I wanted a new deal between God and myself.

I wanted total transparency with no head-faking-bull.

I wanted no part of the phony church stuff I had seen growing up.

Actually, things worked out well for the first few years. I jumped into the discipleship thing for all I was worth. I studied my Bible each morning. I regularly attended church. I devoured every Christian book I could get my hands on. I began serving in church in all kinds of different ways. Life was good. I was growing. You might even say I was thriving.

Then life fell apart. An undetected illness and the resulting visit to the Emergency Room brought everything crashing down.

Each day I sat in the ruins trying to decide if my “return to God” had just been another colossal mistake in a long line of mistakes.

Was this Christian-thing just one big con job? I felt betrayed. I was recoiling from all the stuff I had believed.

If you tust God is THIS what you get?

So I stopped reading my Bible.

I couldn’t pray.

I wanted nothing to do with a God like this!

world in ruinsHow did I get here?

My doubts that had begun as whispers were now shouting at me, “Is this what obedience brings?”

Everywhere I looked I saw only devastation and chaos!

I wondered, “What kind of a loving God loves like this?”

God hears even the faintest whisper in our hearts.

Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is hidden from God. He was “listening in” on all my doubt and inner rage. I didn’t know it then, but He was counting each broken-hearted tear. He was letting me grope my way along in the dark for awhile—just waiting. Waiting for me to finish venting all my frustrations, and for the silence to descend.

Now in the inner quiet He began to whisper.

I grabbed a pen and began to write.

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ONLY CHANGED

You there.

Yes YOU sitting in the ashes.

These ruins you see all about you? They are not who you are.
They are not your final destination or your destiny.

I AM!

You are in Me and I AM in you.

Our two lives are as inseparable as a brook that flows into a river. Where does the brook end and the river begin? Hah, you can’t tell Me! That’s how it is with us. My life flowing in you. Your life flowing in Me.

ashesYou look at these ashes and think, “It’s all over now.”

You see ruins where once stood bright hopes and shining dreams, and you think, “What’s the use of dreaming?”

But Sweet Heart look up.

Turn those tear-filled eyes toward Me. I AM still here. You are still here. We are not going to dwell forever in—this place. This is only for a moment in your eternity. A wink! I AM your true Vine not your dreams. Your life flows from Me, not from people, possessions, or calling. Come, dry those eyes. Life is not over. Only changed. But remember what I told you? “I do not change!” I AM the One you can always count on. I AM the Foundation that does not move.

We will be leaving here soon. As we step out of these ashes to begin again? You will see Me transform these ashes of yours into radiant beauty.

You’ll see.

a closer walk

 

“To all who mourn… He will give beauty for ashes.”

Isaiah 61:3Isaiah 61:3
English: World English Bible - WEB

3 to appoint to those who mourn in Zion, to give to them a garland for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Yahweh, that he may be glorified.

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A Closer Walk: Storms That Shipwreck Our Beliefs

I didn’t believe anything could shipwreck my beliefs but I had never been in a storm like this one.

If I were to say that my doctors didn’t take my response to their diagnosis well—that would be putting it mildly.

These guys were men of science.

arrogant doctors

They thought my faith was absurd!

I was told in no uncertain terms that if I did not follow their diagnosis their would be consequences!

Prayer—What is that?

My beliefs only made them angry.

Their threats became nastier.

They informed me I couldn’t leave the hospital until they ran more tests.

More tests? The bills were already in the stratosphere and now there would be no job and no money?

How had my beliefs brought me here?

shipwreck

My life was spiraling out of control!

So I called for the Patient Advocate because even in the hospital we have legal rights.

I asked him for a clear explanation of what my legal rights were.

He told me my options and I checked myself out of the hospital A.M.A.  which means “against medical advice.”

I went home still experiencing all of my negative symptoms.

That’s when God “showed up” in an interesting twist of events.

The hospital wouldn’t let me check out without giving them the name of a personal doctor.

So I gave them the first name I could find but they faxed all my tests to the “wrong” doctor. Except he really was the RIGHT doctor!

He told me what was wrong with me, prescribed the correct medication, and most of my symptoms disappeared in a few days.

angry doctorAnd my angry doctors?

They made good on all their threats.

I lost my freedom because they revoked my driver’s license.

Losing my driver’s license meant losing my job.

The hospital costs for all their tests put me into medical bankruptcy which meant my five-star credit rating was gone!

My family whispered in corners looking at me like, “What did you DO to make God so angry?”

What about my remaining symptoms?

I still could not walk from room to room without leaning on the walls for support. I had blinding headaches that stayed with me all day. It was tough to focus my eyes to write; forget about reading or TV.

I sat on my couch each day in stunned, hurting, lonely, silence. I was numb with pain, both physical, and emotional. Forget about feeling anything “spiritual.” I didn’t want to read my bible. I didn’t want to pray. I did not call for the church or pastors to see me. I didn’t want to talk with anyone.

depressed womanI had nothing to say to God or anyone else.

I was angry and afraid.

My life as I knew it had been destroyed. I felt as if I had been shipwrecked.

How was I supposed to fix this mess if I couldn’t work?

I thought each day about ending my life. My anger, doubts and uncertainty made everything look darker and darker as I stared into that black hole called hopelessness.

Questions kept circling in my mind like, “What had I done? Where had I messed up? Why was all this terrible stuff happening?”

Wasn’t obedience to God supposed to equal blessings?

I was caught up in one of the worst spiritual storms of my life.

Just when it seemed that the darkness would swallow me whole—God showed upagain.

a closer walk

But now the Lord who created you, O Israel, says: Don’t be afraid, for I have ransomed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.   When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up—the flames will not consume you… you are precious to me and honored, and I love you.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.

Isaiah 43:1, 2, 5Isaiah 43:1, 2, 5
English: World English Bible - WEB

43 1 But now thus says Yahweh who created you, Jacob, and he who formed you, Israel: Don’t be afraid, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name, you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle on you. 5 Don’t be afraid; for I am with you: I will bring your seed from the east, and gather you from the west;

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North Vietnam: Under The Cover of Light

Under The Cover of Light was a difficult book for me to read. I mean, Vietnam was my war. Guys from my graduating class of 1969 were signing-up for military service before they finished their senior year!

And yes, I will never forget the funerals that took place in our little town.

Vietnam War POW

Vietnam was up close and personal for me.

Yet as tough a “read” as this story was for me, I am so glad I read this book. There are eternal lessons for all of us in Jerry Curtis’s seven and a half years of horror as a POW in North Vietnam.

The book has lots of military jargon and that really slowed me down, but once I got past all of that, I began to identify with the timeless truths woven throughout this story. The transformation that our prayers bring. The unity forged in the fires of shared suffering.  The inability of anyone or anything to keep us separate from the keeping power of Christ’s love—even in a pit from hell dubbed—Briarpatch.

Jerry Curtis asked all the questions any of us ask when we find ourselves in circumstances beyond our control.

But, in one of his darkest moments a fellow POW reaches out to him and he realizes,

“…the sacrament through the walls led Jerry to understand that wrapped up in any explanation as to why believers might experience horrific circumstances in their lives was OPPORTUNITY—opportunity to fulfill a God-glorifying task, heightened by or as a direct result of the horrific event itself. The tragedy either brought others across a believer’s path who needed to receive God’s light FROM the believer or who needed to see God’s light THROUGH the believer. Then, once engaged, that person perhaps would become a light bearer too.

Jerry realized he had been a conduit for God’s glory to an unknown and unseen prisoner, and an eternal truth surfaced in his mind: the deeper the darkness, the more brilliant the light.”

I am so glad I read this heroic story. We need to be reminded that there are still heroes in this world.

Honestly, the accounts of torture are tough to get through, but the spiritual message from this man’s experience is one we can all grow and benefit from.

My thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for sending this complimentary copy in exchange for my review.

Under The Cover of Light is available on Amazon or at your other fine book retailers.

C. S. Lewis: Thoughts On Books and Reading

c s lewisC. S. Lewis (1898-1963) was arguably the most influential Christian thinker of his time, and his thought has long outlasted him.  It would be difficult indeed to find someone who has had more influence than Lewis on the modern classical education renewal.  From his great works of fiction (The Chronicles of Narnia, Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, and The Screwtape Letters) to his books on Christianity and education (Mere Christianity and The Abolition of Man, to name a couple), Lewis has had a long reach.

thought on reading great books c s lewis

Obviously, such a stellar thinker and prolific writer gives us much to ponder, but here is a small sampling of “quotables” from C.S. Lewis on one of his favorite subjects: books and reading.

1.“Those who have greatly cared for any book whatever may possibly come to care, some day, for good books.  The organs of appreciation exist in them.  They are not impotent.  And even if this particular boy is never going to like anything severer than science-fiction, even so,

‘The child whose love is here, at least doth reap
One precious gain, that he forgets himself.’” 

from Lilies That Fester

2.“We must attack the enemy’s line of communication.  What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects – with their Christianity latent.

From God in the Dock, “Christian Apologetics”

3.“But there is another sort of travelling and another sort of reading.  You can eat the local food and drink the local wines, you can share the foreign life, you can begin to see the foreign country as it looks, not to the tourist, but to its inhabitants.  You can come home modified, thinking and feeling as you did not think and feel before.  So with the old literature.  You can go beyond the first impression that a poem makes on your modern sensibility.  By study of things outside the poem, by comparing it with other poems, by steeping yourself in the vanished period, you can then re-enter the poem with eyes more like those of the natives; now perhaps seeing that the associations you gave to the old words were false, that the real implications were different than you supposed.”

from Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature

4.“If only one had time to read a little more: we either get shallow and broad or narrow and deep.”

from The Letters of C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves

c s lewis God in the Dock5.“There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books.  Thus I have found as a tutor in English Literature that if the average student wants to find out something about Platonism, the very last thing he thinks of doing is to take a translation of Plato off the library shelf and read the Symposium.  He would rather read some dreary modern book ten times as long, all about ‘isms’ and influences and only once in twelve pages telling him what Plato actually said.  The error is rather an amiable one, for it springs from humility.  The student is half afraid to meet one of the great philosophers face to face.”

from God in the Dock, “On the Reading of Old Books”

— Brian Phillips, CiRCE INSTITUTE