Category Archives: A CLOSER WALK

just a closer walk No one knows who wrote this hymn or these words, but may these posts born in my own walk through The Valley of Baca, bring you into your own closer walk with Christ.

I am weak, but Thou art strong;
Jesus, keep me from all wrong;
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.

Refrain:
Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

Through this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares?
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.

When my feeble life is o’er,
Time for me will be no more;
Guide me gently, safely o’er
To Thy kingdom shore, to Thy shore.

A Closer Walk: Looking For Pain’s Logic

I could see the logic.

I mean, there are awful things going on in the world… and there are Christians who are suffering… dying… everywhere.

Where had I gotten the idea that the Bible taught I would always be kept safe from trouble?

When I started to search the scriptures again, it painted an honest and accurate picture of men and women who believed and trusted God, and yet suffered pain and loss, and sometimes even death. The scriptures were full of dirges and laments; songs of passionate questioning, pain, and deep sorrows.

Why had I believed that these songs would not someday be mine to sing?

I was being childish.

Who did I think I was to be entitled to a pain-free-life?

forgivenessI had wanted to only follow a safe God… a God who would always protect me from all hurt, in all circumstances. I decided I would listen more carefully to some of the teachers I had followed. Sure, they taught the Word of God, but I was beginning to see that they predominantly taught only one type of Truth. Yes, there is victory and prosperity for those who obey, trust, and believe… but sometimes, there is also sickness, suffering, sorrow, and loss.

As I began to honestly look at the stories of Joseph and Job; Isaiah and Jeremiah; the disciples of the early church, and the Apostle Paul in particular, my eyes beheld the worst kind of suffering. I had been taught that Paul was one of the greatest Christians that ever lived, and yet he suffered terribly for his faith. (And, who could have done more than he had?) Why had I believed that if I just, did enough… prayed enough… believed enough… declared enough—God would protect me from all harm? Wasn’t all my doing a sort of idoltry? Rub the magic lamp, or say a sincere prayer, and the genie will pop out and do my bidding?

performance condemnation trap

Wasn’t I really idolizing my own comfort; hoping for a way, or a formula, to manipulate God into giving me the comfortable and safe life that I wanted?

What selfish foolishness.

My eyes were open alright, and I was beginning to see, but I didn’t like what I saw.

(No, not one bit!)

I began to wonder if maybe, I really deserved all the bad stuff that had happened?

(Now I was really depressed.)

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SING!

Oh, My dear child, how I see you struggling to walk in freedom, but dear one, your jailers are not the condemnation of those around you. That is why you still struggle so.

(No, Sweetheart.)

The one who keeps you bound—is YOU!

Let Me explain.

making bricksYou grew up in terrible slavery. So did your parents, and their parents, etc., etc. Generations of “brick-makers” just like the children of long ago, enslaved to the Egyptians, making bricks. But you are no longer in Egypt child, yet you still have the voice of the evil taskmaster in your head. Instead of shouting, “Clay! Straw! Water!” he whispers, “Try harder! Do more! Perform!” and so you obey, and do, do, do… to the point of exhaustion.

But honey, I set you FREE.

What does My Word say?

“Who will set me free from my slavery to this deadly lower nature? Thank God! It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free.”    Romans 7:24-25 The next time your old task-master whispers, “Do more. Try harder.” and you are tempted to begin laboring, by bending your back in the “brick-pits of performance,” remember who bought your freedom. (Me!) I have released you from “performance-condemnation” forever!

free to be myself

Remember the song…

I’m under the blood of the Lamb; who covers the guilt of my past. By the mercies of God, Holy and righteousness I stand. I’m under the blood of the Lamb; I’m safe and secure from the enemies hand…Sing, Sweetheart, sing…

Your song!

a closer walk

 

“So now there is no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:1

 

God Is Real & The Bible Is Truth with Kim Bond

A Closer Walk: Closet Control Freak

closet control freakI always believed, “I am NOT a closet control freak—I am a person of order.” A place for everything and everything in its place. That’s my motto. Chaos of mind or situation is NOT my thing. I have been accused many times of being a control freak, and to some of that I plead guilty, but guilty with good reason.

(She said smiling.)

I grew up in chaos, so I learned early in life, that if I was going to have any sense of peace or order I would have to create it myself.

my messy life

I have tried to come to some sort of truce with myself about all of this; to “give myself a break” because a child does the best they can with what life hands them, and sometimes—the coping mechanisims that were our friends in childhood—become our enemies in adulthood.

Ah, but giving them up… there’s the rub!

There isn’t anything inherently wrong with an orderly life. There’s actually a scripture that calls for us to live that way.

Again, the difficulty is that many times chaos in life is not the exception, it is the norm. Life, especially in our day and times, is full of unexpected catastrophes of endless variety. Control is only a cherished illusion. Much as I hate it, it is a truth that must be faced with honesty—but also with faith and hope.

Yeah, life goes crazy on us, but though we must acknowledge that we are not in control of anything, we can still place our faith and hope in a God who is in control of everything.

faith NOT fear(Selah?)

So, if God is in total control, then why did He allow my disaster to happen you might ask?

And to that, I give you one key word: AGENDA.

We have an agenda for our lives, but God has His, and when our agenda collides with His, well guess who wins every, single, time?

God is in control

I like what John Koessler said about agendas,

Jesus is an equal opportunity disappointer. Jesus was a disappointment, not only for people like those of Nazareth, where they drove Him out of the synagogue and tried to throw Him off a cliff, because He wouldn’t perform miracles for them, but for people in Korazin and Bethsaida, where He did perform miracles. Jesus was a disappointment to friends and foes alike… we are disappointed with Jesus because we do not see what He is really doing. It turns out that we have been laboring under a major misapprehension. Jesus came for us, but that does not mean He came to please us. Jesus came for us, but He does not answer to us. Jesus came for us, but He will not subject Himself to our agenda, no matter how good that agenda might be. Instead, Jesus demands that we submit ourselves to His agenda.   (Why Jesus Always Disappoints)

When I talk to others (like myself) who are struggling with disillusionment and disappointment with God, there is this reoccurring issue; this matter of control—God’s agenda vs. ours.

Oh, we don’t come right out and say that we think we know better than an Omniscient God. But scratch the surface of our best Christian facade, and you will find a closet control freak, fighting to get out.

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IT’S NOT MAN’S WAY

I know how much you hate it ~ being weak.

You want to conquer this thing you’re struggling with.

You want to be in control again, yes?

God in control

No… but “No.” with an explanation.

Listen My dear child, if strength were the best thing for you right now, would I not give it? You know I always do the best thing for your growth and perfection. (But, My definition of perfection, not yours.)

You want to be perfect—I want to: perfect.

(It’s not what you wanted Me to say.)

I know.

But you know Love does the best thing, not necessarily the easiest thing.

God in our ruins

(Yes, you’re right.)

It would be easy to give you this thing you’ve requested.

But, do you want the dream your way?

Do you know what the cost would be, to yourself, to others?

Do you want this dream to be less than it could be?

These are questions only you can answer. To be perfected from suffering you must yield to it ~ not clench your fists and stiffen your neck. You decide if you want everything you have asked Me for.

God's mission: partnership

I’ll wait right here, as I have been, since this tug-of-war started between us.

You must decide, whether you are to be powerful, or I AM to be powerful in you.

This is the way My Kingdom works.

It’s not man’s way, it’s Mine, Decide.”

a closer walk

 

“…No. But I am with you; that is all you need. My power shows up best in weak people.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

 

A Closer Walk: When God Asks Something Crazy

when God asks something crazyWhy would God ask me to do something so crazy?

I wanted to cry or wave my arms and scream at the unfairness of it all, but…

Sing?

It still amazes me how God will sometimes ask us to do the most extraordinary things at the most incredible times!

I thought, “Sing? You’ve GOT to be kidding!”

That was perhaps the very LAST thing I felt like doing. I mean, who sits in the ruins, life in shambles, a fresh scar on their face, and then sings about it?

Talk about asking something crazy!

I still believe in the old adage:

Pain is inevitable. ~ Misery is optional.

misery is optionalSo, I decided to try to sing.

Not an easy thing to do when you are hurting and choking on your own tears.

(No, not easy.)

I thought, “Perhaps this is what the scripture means when it says, “Give the sacrifice of praise.” a sacrifice always costs you something.

I really was trying to cooperate with God.

Again, not an easy thing to do when nothing in your life is the way you want it and I had to admit, I was still feeling plenty “ripped-off.”

sacrifice of praise

There was a stubborn part of my heart that was looking at all the rubble and thinking, “Is this all there is, if you do your best, work hard, and try to do it God’s way? Is this what you get?”

I couldn’t stop thinking about all I had given up—the place I had loved, the people I had cherished, all the shining possibilities for a career in ministry, to come back to a place I hated—for this; these ruins!

spirit of entitlementI looked at the ornery, selfish, and downright dishonest people that I had laid everything down for, and this is the result of years of obedience and faithfulness?

That spirit of entitlement dies a slow and painful death.

I didn’t know who I was more angry with, God, or the people who I believed had let me down?

And worse yet, I didn’t know how to stop being angry, especially when I looked at the way things had turned out. And now I am supposed to, SING?

Still, with all this anger I wasn’t having fun-time, either.

A gray fog of futility had settled down on me.

gray fog of futilityBefore all this happened I had always felt I knew what to do or where to go, I had a sense of direction and purpose, I had a handle on life—at least a small one. Now, I couldn’t seem to get my bearings. I didn’t want to sing, but I didn’t want to be angry either.

In truth, I didn’t know what I wanted.

I felt stuck and I hated that, too!

There’s nothing worse than being royally ticked-off and stuck inside your own skin with nowhere else to go.

God had asked me to trust Him and I thought I had.

Now I wasn’t so sure.

What if my decisions had all been wrong?

And, if you couldn’t trust God…

Who could you trust?

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WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO NOW?

Ah yes, My sweet Dreamer, you are saved by trusting.

So, you found out the people who raised you weren’t the perfect people you wanted them to be.

Well, what are you going to do now? Be angry? Be depressed? Stay confused?

Honey, listen. What have I been teaching you for these past few years? You know. People fail. People let you down. People hurt people. Even the people we thought, never would, never could hurt us!

people fail

Where do you think that dream of yours was born?

I’ll tell you, through the things you’ve suffered. Dreams and dreamers that will change the hearts of men, and heal them, are not born in nurseries of perfect people posing, posturing, and pretending to have pain-free spotless lives!

Ugh, it’s a lie spawned from Hell itself.

Do you know how many of My children feel or believe, they are disqualified from their dreams because of their failure, or the failures of others?

you are not disqualified

MILLIONS—millions of hearts, full of millions of hopes, hiding!

Why?

Because they are convinced that all is lost before they even try.

And, how can these dreams be saved? How can these dreamers be salvaged?

They are saved by trusting.

Did you know TRUST is contagious?

Did you know HOPE is infectious?

Your enemy knows.

I guess you’d better get busy.

a closer walk

 

“We are saved by trusting…”

Romans 8:24

 

A Closer Walk: A Heart Overhaul

In his book, The Surprising Grace of Disappointment: Finding Hope When God Seems To Fail Us, John Koessler writes,

“The construction of the spiritual life requires as much tearing down as building up.”

disappointmentI was beginning to see that, because one truth I was definitely starting to grasp… I needed to step back, and take a fresh look at many of the scriptures I loved.

When a scripture would come to mind that seemed to contradict my circumstances, I would think, “I don’t know what that means anymore…” My beliefs and my reality had a serious credibility gap.

Since I know that it is impossible for God to lie, then the only other possibility, was that my understanding of what I was reading was somehow faulty. If there is nothing false in God (and I staunchly believe there isn’t) then that meant my beliefs about what the Bible actually teaches, desperately needed an overhaul.

(It was a place to begin and just facing that truth took some of the pressure off.)

Okay, so if I am the problem, then I need to ask God to show me where the errors in my thinking are, right? Obviously, my circumstances were in direct contradiction to what I had believed God promised; especially about His care and protection. I had thought that what I HAD BELIEVED was the unmoving, unshakable Truth…

So, if it wasn’t, what was?

Can I interject something here?

There is a short prayer one of my Senior intercessors taught me while I was serving on a church staff. It can really help in times like these. She said, “If you’ve hit a wall with God, just pray: ‘God, show me my heart as You see it.’ and He will.”

until light returnsSimple. Direct. It gets right down to business. I love that.

Not a very fancy prayer, but it was an honest start, and I had a small mustard seed of hope that God would hear my heart, and be faithful to eventually answer…

Eventually? I barely had time to say “…Amen.” before He gently began to reveal, the first of many errors in my understanding about who He was, and more importantly, about what His ultimate agenda was for me specifically, and His Kingdom as a whole.

Recent events had more than accomplished the “tearing down” of my erroneous beliefs. Now it was God’s turn, and so, He met me where I was, and patiently began the task of renewing my mind, rebuilding my faith, and reviving my broken heart… real Love does that.

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IN… NOT FROM

You don’t think of yourself this way, do you? As Loved and protected? You believe that because I have allowed you to walk through so many disasters these past few years, that you are out in the storms of life, wind and rain whipping and tearing at you, and you are alone, yes?

siftedIt is true that I have allowed the enemy to “sift you.” What good are all the lessons you’ve been taught, if they don’t stand up against the assaults of the enemy? Would I build a rugged sailing ship and then keep her in the harbor? Would I never test her hull? Her rigging? Does that make sense to you?

(Of course it doesn’t.)

tell your storyListen My child. Plant this Truth deep in your heart. You are my sheltered olive tree… but you are sheltered in the storms of life~not from them. To understand this will eliminate a great deal of confusion from your mind, and it will give you a place to “set yourself” the next time a gale blows up.

How childish My church has become regarding the suffering of this world! This is a real war you’re in and real suffering goes with it—but I have not abandoned you. Quite the contrary! Not once have I left your side.

(Though there were times I stayed silent.)

heart overhaulYour storms will make you SweetHeart… and through each one, I’ll be right here.

I will shelter and protect, “in and through” and you shall come out…

Strengthened!

Stable!

Settled!

a closer walk

 

But I am like a sheltered olive tree protected by the Lord himself…” Psalm 52:8

 

A Closer Walk: I’ve Always Been A Dreamer

little dreamerI guess I’ve always been a dreamer.

As a little girl I dreamed of being a ballerina, a cowboy, the captain on a submarine… (Yes, I was a tomboy.)

But as I grew older my dreams changed.

I began to realize as I matured that a dream was something more intangible; something that would feed my soul and give wings to my spirit. I realized that a God-given-dream was more about a becoming; fufilling destined purpose; and less about having great achievements.

A question and a truth began to dawn, whispering that I was created to fulfill a niche—one custom-made for me alone.

I wish I could say the answer to this “niche question” found me right away, but actually, rather than a grand “Ah-Ha!” moment, for me it was a very slow sort of awakening. One that took many years—although I did have one small momentary breakthrough—when I was thirteen.

I had been given a creative writing assignment.

young writer

My English teacher was using one of those canned courses where you are told exactly what to write and how. Much too tame and restrictive for me, I decided I would CREATE a story of my own; one that I made up.

(I thought I was being so independent and brave!)

The next day, expecting a good scolding, imagine my astonishment when my teacher announced to the class that she had one story she wanted to read out loud.

english teacher

She lifted my paper and my words poured out in life-affirming music.

When she was finished reading she simply said, “I think this student will someday be a writer.”

A Writer.

She thought I should be a Writer?

The idea had never entered my mind, but it was too late now, the dream-seed had been planted, and then it was buried for many dark and difficult years.

dreamer's doorIt wasn’t until my fifth decade that the lost and long forgotten little dream-seed began to push back the darkness and reach for The Light.

Again, it happened quite unexpectedly during another very ordinary day.

I was in the middle of a ten-year-wilderness-march, caring full-time for my mother. Our relationship had always been difficult; strained since my early childhood. Nevertheless, I was the one elected by uninamous family-ballot to be her full-time caregiver, a “job” I had promised myself I would never, ever, do.

When God first told me I was to leave the city I loved, all my friends I loved, and the job I loved, and return to the place I had said I would never return to?

I shouted at the Lord.

Yep, total transparency, remember?

I shouted that such a move would be, “… like being buried alive!” And, it was.

Such is the circuitous route of a God-given-dream and the unfathomable ways of The Dream-Maker, until one day like someone in a fairytale, my awakening came.

It literally began in the form of a wake-up call.

Our phone rang, and I heard my aunt’s voice, sobbing. She was re-reading some of my old letters that she had tucked away in her bible.

She was recounting to me what I had written to her—but I wasn’t listening.

finding lost dream

Instead, in one of those very surreal-kind-of-deja-vu-moments, I held my breath as that thirteen-year-old girl and her dream awoke.

Rubbing Rip-Van-Winkle-sleep from her eyes, she sat up, stretching arms to the sky. Eyes wide and blinking, she turned to look at me, and smiled…

And I in turn, looked up into the vast blue sky—into the face of a God—that I knew was smiling too.

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IT TAKES TIME

I know how difficult it is waiting for Me.

I know, too, how it tries the soul and twists the heart.

(I know.)

You think I AM uncaring; unconcerned to let you wait so long.

(You think I don’t know everything that goes on in that mind of yours?)

But ask yourself,

“Do you want visions and dreams picked too soon like unripe fruit?”

Would I be a loving and responsible parent if I gave you responsibilities you are not yet prepared for? You are focused on the one final product ~ the promise possessed; the vision a reality. I on the other hand, am focused on you. You are My primary concern and always will be. It is your becoming that holds My rapt attention… yes, what you are in the process of becoming.

I wish I could tell you that you could get what you want by a wave of the hand, or a twitch of the nose, but those are fairy stories. The dreams and visions I have for you are very real. Encourage yourself with this Truth: “One day…”

I tell you, the day is coming when all I have whispered into your spirit will come to pass. I AM not called: Promiser. I AM called: DELIVERER!

You are never out of My care, whether you are waiting from the backside of the desert, or a prison cell; whether you are one hundred years old like Abraham, or a small child like Samuel.

Your times are in My hands.

All is well.

It takes TIME to make a dream come true, but come they do

One day.

a closer walkOne day as Moses was tending the flock… suddenly the Angel of Jehovah appeared to him as a flame of fire in a bush.”

Exodus 3:1-2

 

A Closer Walk: Good News Daughter

father and daughterI am a daughter who loved her dad.

But here’s the thing.

My Father was not good at expressing his feelings or the things that really mattered to him, and that deeply affected our relationship, and how we related to one another.

Unfortunately, for both of us, because my dad had a dysfunctional relationship with his parents, there wasn’t anything in the emotional file drawer when it came to giving or expressing the unconditional acceptance and love I needed.

My grand-father, who was also emotionally remote, barely noticed his younger son while he was growing up. Now, add an abusive mother to this dysfunctional equation, who had been raised by an alcoholic father, who had been abusive to her, and you have the sum total of my father’s own broken and bruised childhood.

Poor dad, he tried, but he just didn’t “get girls” who needed to be affirmed as well as taught.

my poor dad

How was this guy who had been tasked with the entire job of rearing a couple of daughters (who were an enigma to him) supposed to cope? How was he supposed to communicate a kind of love and affirmation he himself had not received?

Is it any wonder that broken people raise broken people?

I believe it is impossible for someone to draw water from an empty well, so this crippling brokenness gets passed on from one generation to the next.

That is, unless we get a whole NEW SELF, and with it, a true image of who we are meant to be!

royal inheritanceGod calls Believers “more than conquerors” and if we have a relationship with His Son, then we have a royal inheritance. We have Kingdom privileges that are to make overcoming “the norm” of our everyday lives.

Yet, most of us live our daily lives way below our privileges and Kingdom authority, and let me tell you, that was definitely me!

And I desperately wanted things to CHANGE.

I wanted more hope, more love, more joy—more you name it! I had been doing, doing, doing, for years by attending church, singing songs, signing up for classes, seminars, retreats, etc. etc. All my doing on the outside looked great. But on the inside, where we all have to live 24-7, I was a wreck!

broken insideI wanted the abundant life Jesus promised.

I wanted to make a difference in this world.

I was tired of talking about it or dreaming about it—I wanted to actually do it!

Do you remember the Bible story of Gideon and how he lived fearfully quaking in his boots down in a wine pit stomping out grapes? Then suddenly an angel shows up with an assignment saying, “Mighty soldier, the Lord is with you!”

Mighty?

Hiding out in a hole in the ground?

Yes, we are MIGHTY, because God sees us as we will be.

broken womanEach day I would look at my mess, shake my head in disgust, mumbling and complaining in my heart, while doing a mental inventory in my head of all my failures and impossibilities—all the “why’s” God could never use an unholy wreck like me.

Then, this Abba-God shows up speaking to me again, redirecting my focus, because to Him?

All my ashes and misery were completely beside the point!

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ISN’T IT GOOD NEWS?

Stop, right there.

“O, Crier of Good News…” that’s you!

Nevermind your arguments. I’ve heard them all. (And more than once.) Not today. No excuses. No reasonings. No fears. No! Let’s just sit down together and for once quietly discuss this.

fearful broken womanFirst, I know your fears—every one.

Why discuss those again?

And all your good reasons for “Why you can’t.”  I know those too—all your so-called failures and weaknesses? Yes, we’ve talked about those.

Or, should I say, you talked while I listened. Good thing patience is a fruit of My Spirit.

Today, I want to talk and I want you to listen.

Come, let’s reason together.

You are making this way too complicated.

When there’s good news with your friends or with yourself, don’t you share it?

Even on The News good news is GOOD news!

You are just the “teller” Sweetheart—just The Crier.

your broken piecesDo you worry so much over what others will say when you share your other stories?

And, let’s talk about our stories; the things I’ve done for you; the ways you have changed.

Hasn’t your life changed since I’ve become a part of it?

Isn’t that Good News?

Crier of Good NewsSo I tell you, you are My Crier of Good News. That is who you are! Any other definition is making it way too complicated.

Don’t be afraid.

It’s Me.

It ‘s you.

I like our story!

a closer walk

 

“O, Crier of Good News, …shout from the mountain tops!Shout louder—don’t be afraid!”

Isaiah 40:9

A Closer Walk: Who Do You See In Your Mirror?

Who do you see in your mirror because how we see ourselves is crucial to advancing the Kingdom of God.

I struggled for years with the image of “conqueror” or “overcomer” because of my early experiences with abandonment. What my head knew, was frequently at odds, with what my heart felt.

cotton candy comfortIt’s all very well to talk about having boldness and courage to advance God’s Kingdom, but if you’re someone like me and your early years were punctuated with criticism, isolation, and rejection, not to mention a lopsided “fire-and-brimstone” presentation of who God is, it’s easy to fall prey to what I call the “cotton-candy-comfort” offered in many of our churches.

It Goes Something Like This…

If you just DO enough for God, if you just GIVE enough to God, if you just BELIEVE enough in God, or THANK Him enough, or whatever your particular brand of “enough” is, then your life will abound with sweet and painless blessings.

I swallowed that stuff for a good long distance until I discovered that it just isn’t Biblical!

The Bible speaks often of suffering and going through rough seas and dark places, and not just for the unbelieving, or the rebellious.

Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation.”

Many very Godly people go through very dark stuff.

still I shall followRemember Joseph, alone, accused, and abandoned in a prison?

What about Gideon hiding in a winepress, or David hunted and hiding in a cave, or the Apostle Paul ignominiously hiding at the bottom of a laundry basket?

You can make fine speeches all day long about what you believe, or you can declare yourself silly with positive statements, but it is in the darkness of that winepress or dark cave, or at the bottom of that laundry basket where you meet a God who walks with us THROUGH trouble, not far away from it.

I have wrestled over and over again with the concepts of Godly brokenness versus worldly brokenness, and frankly, I believe The Church as a whole struggles with these images too.

You could talk to me about “Christ-in-me” all day long, but that overcoming-truth seldom made it from what my head heard, to what my heart felt, or my eyes saw in my mirror.

looking into my mirror

The Church’s mandate about loving others and boldly advancing the Kingdom gets preached regularly, and it should, but I believe the core reasons we Christians so often fail to carry this through in our day-to-day lives is because a lot of us still carry the cumbersome baggage from a distorted Kingdom-self-image.

That Guilt Gets Translated To Our Intimacy Issues With Our Heavenly Father

Such had been my case.

I was seven years old when my Mother decided to forsake family in search of her longing to be seen as “a professional woman.” Predominantly raised by a father who had extremely exacting standards (that I often failed to live up to) I believed that my failures were letting him down, and that guilt became deeply engraved in how I saw myself.

I was raised by two very broken people who struggled all of their lives with their own defective self-images which meant I came to the conclusion early in my adulthood that God was impossible to please.

Therefore, why even try?

God was perfect. I was not. End of story.

Seeing myself as “a reject” in my mirror had become normal.

Now, here I was sitting in my own personal ash pile with my life in ruins, thus confirming once again my faulty-self as an utter failure, and an unworthy outcast of His Love.

I suppose that’s why God’s tenderness made me so uncomfortable. A critical demanding God I could deal with, but this “Abba-Father” who wanted to come close and get intimately loving and transparent with me, with all my messy issues? No way! It was way too touchy-feely for me.

And so, I kept pushing God away.

But what about our deal?

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YOU ARE BREAKING MY HEART!

Let’s talk about this mindset of yours.

Yes, mindset, because for reasons that are yours alone you refuse to give it up in spite of what I tell you.

Listen to Me again Mighty One.

To Him I am flawless

You are not rejected by Me.

You are not My outcast.

I will never throw you away!

Why do you dwell on the past deeds of others this way?

Why do you keep returning to this pigsty for just one more roll in the mud?

Jesus robes us

I have dressed you in snow-white robes of My righteousness.

I have covered ALL (Yes, all.) of your sins and failures with the red, pure blood of My Son’s heart.

I want you to stop this now because you are breaking My heart. I know your past. I know what others in your past have said and done to you. But, what about Me? What about what I have done for you?

Enough dearest—it is enough.

You are Mine not theirs. Mine!

I decide what you are to be called.

(I decide.)

I have chosen you

Do you hear Me?

Good!

Then listen again and wrap your heart in this truth.

Wash your mindset with righteous words.

Build a new image for your mirror—one that stands on—My love.

You are not an outcast!

I have chosen you and will not throw you away.

a closer walk“But as for you, …you are mine, my chosen ones; for I have chosen you and will not throw you away.”

Isaiah 41:8-9

 

A Closer Walk: Is This Abundant?

I sat in my ashes each day thinking, “Is this what God calls abundant?” I really wanted to experience the abundant life Jesus spoke of, but how in the world was I supposed to look at the shambles my life had become, and see it as abundance?

fire and brimstone pulpitI was raised believing in a God who was much too holy and righteous for the likes of me.

Whenever the “fire of heaven” would rain down from our church’s pulpit, I would shrink under my daddy’s arm, trying to hide.

I believed God was scary, angry, and wanted to send me to hell!

The church people I grew up with spoke of heaven, and going there someday “in the sweet by-n-by,” (whatever that was) but then they would do, or say, the most horrible things to, or about, one another!

All this got filed into my own internal file drawers.

By the time I reached eighteen, and was free to begin to make some decisions of my own, I was not sure of much, but one thing I was certain about. I did not want anything to do with God, church, or church people.

the prodigal roadSo I chose “the world” and a prodigal-road, which of course led to even greater hurts, disappointments, and failures.

At age 28, after being on that broken road for ten years I came to the conclusion that nothing I had found in “the world” was worth having, including Christianity.

I believed life held nothing but pain and I was weary of it.

I wanted relief and peace, so I came to the erroneous conclusion that the only logical thing to do was to end my life, thereby ending my pain.

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Enter for the first time this Abba-God speaking and asking a very simple question.

“When will you trust me?”

That’s all I heard but it really spooked me.

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Who was this Voice speaking?

And why was He talking to me?

I’ll admit I was shaken, but I was also intensely curious. Could I have been all wrong about God being absent and uncaring?

I had to know the answer to that question and so I began my quest to try to get to know who God really was.

I wanted to know if I could really trust Him?

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I joined a church. I got baptized. (Admittedly one of the most wonderful days of my life!) I read through my Bible cover to cover, many times. I studied. I joined. I volunteered. I served. I did everything I could think of, all questing after this holy grail of “becoming an Overcomer-Christian.”

I wanted to be a Christian who not only knew God, but also one who totally trusted Him, and therefore God would be pleased.

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See a pattern here?

I didn’t.

So I wholeheartedly pursued God outwardly, yet still struggled to navigate all my inner-storms of unanswered questions and self-doubts that refused to be silent.

I kept thinking, “How can THIS be it!”

It all “looked right”  from the outside but it all “felt wrong” on the inside.

Image result for fast forward symbolNow fast forward to the days after leaving the hospital.

Once again, life is in ruins after having tried it ALL.

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I reasoned that, “I had held up my end.” with my wholehearted devotion to The Quest—but God had not held up His.

I mean, twenty years and here I was sitting in the ashes, again?

How was I supposed to reconcile this promised “abundant life” with my personal world in ruins?

Where was I supposed to begin to start over again?

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INNER TURBULENCE

There is nothing happening in you that escapes My notice.

How often you come to Me with prayers and petitions about what is happening around you, when the greater issue is what is going on—on the inside.

The anxious thoughts and jealous fears.

The resentments and bitterness you feel over your losses.

The anger because of what others have done.

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I AM much more concerned with the storms on the inside of your heart and mind rather than your outside issues of finances, possessions, relationships, and health.

Oh Sweetheart, it’s your heart and those inner storms you are fighting! First we must deal with those, then we can address all the wreckage from the outer squalls.

(You know I AM right.)

Come, take the time today for an inventory of the inner turbulence. We can deal with this. There is nothing we can’t handle together—and I AM here—right here.

Image result for jehovah shammahI AM Jehovah-Shammah for those sins weighing you down.

I AM Jehovah-Shammah with forgiveness.

I AM Jehovah-Shammah with tender compassion.

I AM Jehovah-Shammah with wisdom and correction.

I AM present My beloved, My own.

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How I love you. How I listen for your slightest sigh!

Come to Me. I have your peace. I have your joy. Only I can give you these things.

(You know this.)

I see the weight on your soul.

Let me lift, (ah yes,) lift those weary cares off your heart.

Come.

There is abundant grace here, in My arms.

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“Lord, you know how I long for my health once more. You hear my every sigh.”

Psalm 38:9

 

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 5:1

 

 

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 54:4