Tag Archives: Broken

A Closer Walk: The Idolatry of Approval

I never thought of family as an idol.

I mean how could wanting your family’s love and approval be idolatry?

For many years I longed to be loved and accepted by my family—but loved and accepted for myself.

Unfortunately, it was that longing to be myself that created a great many of my family problems.

I was an introvert born into a family of extroverts so instinctively I felt it. I just didn’t fit with everyone else’s idea of how I should behave.

The others in my household were life-of-the-party types—outgoing people-lover’s who hated being alone.

But rather than loving the stage and it’s limelight, and being the center of everyone’s attention, I often craved solitude. I didn’t fear solitude. Actually, I was serenely at peace with my own company. I loved doing simple, quiet things, which was good, for I often found myself in our house alone.

This sent the message,”What’s WRONG with you? You don’t fit with us unless you are willing to become, like us.”

"Going Along" for approval

“Going Along” is often the price to avoid rejection.

I wanted to feel a part of the group, but the price for their acceptance was to increasingly become someone I was not.

While I blamed my family for their pushing and pulling, badgering and bullying, one day I finally realized, they were not my biggest problem I was!

I had traded who I wanted to be for their approval.

finding peaceEven in my adult years, many times I surrendered who God was calling me to be, for the “love and approval” I thought I could not live without.

It took me a long time to face the truth. Paying emotional extortion is not love, it’s slavery.

I began to see that I could vainly attempt to please my family for the rest of my days, and hope for a few grudging crumbs of approval and affection, or I could accept myself exactly the way God had created me to be, and obey His vision for my life.

I knew what “the price” would be.

I’ll confess, I did everything in my power for years to earn my family’s acceptance first… but in the end I think I always knew that their rejection, and the pain that went with it, would be the price for obeying God.

Inevitably, my choice was no choice at all, God would not relinquish His demand to be my FIRST love. (He made me no apologies for it.) And, I knew my choice would be all on me, no matter what I decided. So, I prayed for the courage to let go of my family’s approval.

It has been painful and difficult living with the price of isolation and no family to connect with, but Jesus has always been brutally honest.

With no apology at all He reminded me,

Anyone who wants to my follower must love me far more than he does his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, or sisters, yes, more than his own life, otherwise he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26Luke 14:26
English: World English Bible - WEB

26 “If anyone comes to me, and doesn’t hate his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he can’t be my disciple.

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SURPRISED?

I see you there mourning for what is lost.

(You think, it’s over, all over.)

Child, Am I over?

Have I abandoned you?

(Sometimes, you feel I have.)

But feelings are not facts; no.

I AM here, right beside you.

(Remember?)

“Shammah,” honey, “Shammah.” I AM beside you in your tears, beside you in your confusion and pain. I don’t leave when things get tough. No, dearest.

Lift your eyes, your lovely tear-filled eyes, to Me. I have comfort for you; encouragement for your fear, and HOPE.

I would say, “Trust Me.” but I see your trust for the moment is buried beneath your grief.

(I know.)

But, Sweet Heart, I have heard your prayers! I know you thought My silence was disdain and disapproval, yes? But to listen, truly listen, you must be silent, yes? I have heard you, never fear.

Forgiving and moving onYour Father has not forsaken you though others have; forgive them. It is the only way.

Leave your family to Me.

Meanwhile, let Me lift that chin of yours because, “Yes, I AM the One who lifts your head.”

Your tears are ever before Me. See… I have kept them all!Comfort yourself child, your answers are on the way. Why, before you were done speaking? I was in motion!

Surprised? (You shouldn’t be.) I AM always listening.

(Love does that you know.)

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“…Don’t cry any longer, for I have heard your prayers…” Jeremiah 31:16Jeremiah 31:16
English: World English Bible - WEB

16 Thus says Yahweh: Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says Yahweh; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.

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Challenge of Jesus In A World of Brokenness

If not us, then who?“What we are faced with in our culture is the post-Christian version of the doctrine of original sin: all human endeavor is radically flawed, and the journalists who take delight in pointing this out are simply telling over and over again the story of Genesis three as applied to today’s leaders, politicians, royalty and rock stars. And our task, as image-bearing, God-loving, Christshaped, Spirit-filled Christians, following Christ and shaping our world, is to announce challenge of Jesusredemption to the world that has discovered its fallenness, to announce healing to the world that has discovered its brokenness, to proclaim love and trust to the world that knows only exploitation, fear and suspicion. So the key I propose for translating Jesus’ unique message to the Israel of his day into our message to our contemporaries is to grasp the parallel, which is woven deeply into both Testaments, between the human call to bear God’s image and Israel’s call to be the light of the world. Humans were made to reflect God’s creative stewardship into the world. Israel was made to bring God’s rescuing love to bear upon the world. Jesus came as the true Israel, the world’s true light, and as the true image of the invisible God. He was the true Jew, the true human. He has laid the foundation, and we must build upon it. We are to be the bearers both of his redeeming love and of his creative stewardship: to celebrate it, to model it, to proclaim it, to dance to it.

“As the Father sent me, so I send you…

…receive the Holy Spirit; forgive sins and they are forgiven, retain them and they are retained.” That last double command belongs exactly at this point. We are to go out into the world with the divine authority to forgive and retain sins. When Jesus forgave sins, they said he was blaspheming; how then can we imagine such a thing for ourselves? Answer: because of the gift of the Holy Spirit. God intends to do through us for the wider world that for which the foundation was laid in Jesus. We are to live and tell the story of the prodigal and the older brother; to announce God’s glad, exuberant, richly healing welcome for sinners, and at the same time God’s sorrowful but implacable opposition to those who persist in arrogance, oppression and greed. Following Christ in the power of the Spirit means bringing to our world the shape of the gospel: forgiveness, the best news that anyone can ever hear, for all who yearn for it, and judgment for all who insist on dehumanizing themselves and others by their continuing pride, injustice and greed…

The gospel of Jesus points us and indeed urges us to be at the leading edge of the whole culture,

…articulating in story and music and art and philosophy and education and poetry and politics and theology and even–heaven help us–Biblical studies, a worldview that will mount the historically-rooted Christian challenge to both modernity and postmodernity, leading the way…with joy and humor and gentleness and good judgment and true wisdom. I believe if we face the question, “if not now, then when?” if we are grasped by this vision we may also hear the question, “if not us, then who?” And if the gospel of Jesus is not the key to this task, then what is?”

—  N. T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus

You’ve got a smile
That lifts me out of here
When I’m all tripped up
And turned around
Down in the trenches
Where you lift me up again
My heart and mind so far away

For the longing, the aching and the call
There is no denying her at all now

Beauty leads the way
Beauty leads the way
To the glory of the world
We were made for
Beauty leads the way

Look in the spaces
Where the separation thins
To dislocated cracks of light
Under the surface
Up above it’s all the same
You’re everywhere but hard to find

For the longing, the aching and the call
There is no denying you at all now

Beauty leads the way
Beauty leads the way
To the glory of the world
We were made for
Beauty leads the way
[x2]

our brokenness

Take you by surprise
Go right into the flames
Measures the sacrifice
‘Cause beauty leads the way

She’s like the morning sun
The answer to your shame
Rescued from where you were
Beauty leads the way
Beauty leads the way
Beauty leads the way
Beauty leads the way

Tears, brokenness & broken hearts

“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before–more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”
― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations


 

Never Losing the Light: Showers of Blessing?

Your time of blessing is quickly approaching now. Things that seemed withered and dead will begin to become green and supple again. Resource will water every part of your life.

Streams and brooks will form and it will be as I told you, “I will give you much so that you will have much to give away.” [2 Cor. 9:112 Cor. 9:11
English: World English Bible - WEB

11 you being enriched in everything to all liberality, which works through us thanksgiving to God.

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There will always be stormsStill… there will be storms.

Actually, there will always be some sort of storm.

We are in the final days of My church. The storm and conflict in the heavenly realm is constant thunder and lightening.

There is much to do.

Do not fear the storms… accept. I AM with you. That is all you really need to know.

I cannot make your barreness like Eden without the ministry the storms bring.

Accept!Accept.

Receive.

It is all part of My plan, remember?

Receive ministry from the storms that blow across your life.

I promise you, it is there if you will be willing, and receive.

Take each one and know that I AM there—behind the scenes—blessing you.

You know already that blessing sometimes comes in strange packages.

showers of blessingNevermind… just receive.

All is well child.

To be like Eden, a well-watered garden, the storms must come.

It’s all part of the plan.

Accept. Receive. It’s Me.

There shall be showers...“And the LORD will bless Israel again, and make her deserts blossom; her barren wilderness will become as beautiful as the Garden of Eden. Joy and gladness will be found there, thanksgiving and lovely songs.”

Isaiah 51:3Isaiah 51:3
English: World English Bible - WEB

3 For Yahweh has comforted Zion; he has comforted all her waste places, and has made her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of Yahweh; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.

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A Closer Walk: Victory Over Depression

I had been told for years that depression was simply part of my family’s DNA. I had accepted those statements as fact, without questioning, so the depression I was experiencing didn’t surprise me. Indeed, I had almost expected it. It was part of our family history, like some genetic trait that couldn’t be escaped; could only be feared and endured.

That is what I had always believed.

I was wrong.

Neil T. Anderson quoteGod was beginning to dismantle my erroneous beliefs and this one wasn’t going down without a fight. The battlefield? My mind. My thinking. The grid-system, where all of God’s truth got filtered through my beliefs, to get to my heart.

Somewhere in that crucial 18-inch-journey, truth was getting severely twisted, so that by the time it reached my heart it had no power.

You have probably heard it said, God takes us where He finds us, but He loves us too much to leave us there.

True, true, true.

The love of God through the Holy Spirit, began to tear down my faulty beliefs to show me, the reason I kept losing these battles with depression was because I was trying to fight them in my own strength.

truth vs. lies

I had “carried” the responsibility for my own self-care all of my life—but it was time to lay that burden down—time to let go of the crushing weight of my own self-protection.

  • Letting go of the belief that weakness was a bad thing.
  • Letting go of the belief that surrender to Christ’s Love was to be feared.
  • Letting go of the belief that I was helpless to change for the better.
  • Letting go of the belief that I had no hope of overcoming enemies like fear, abandonment, doubt, and depression.
  • Letting go of the belief that Christ’s Kingdom Power would come without battles.

It was time to embrace The Truth, and let His Truth, embrace my depression.

It was time to start believing in A Conquering King whose Light always, always, wins, no matter how deep the darkness.

It was time to believe that I was dearly loved.

It was time to trust that He could get me through any storm.

It was time to accept His Kingdom Truth when thinking about myself.

I WAS: a child of The Most High God, born into His Kingdom and given an inheritance with power, authority, and might. I was infinitely valuable. I was deserving of love, kindness, and respect. I was loved without limits. I was worthy of being cherished—and I was! ALL that was His, (Christ’s) had been bequeathed to ME!

He had always said it.

Now it was time for me to believe it!

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REPENT AND I WILL RESTORE

Why are My children so afraid of surrender?

Can a drowning man save himself by fighting and thrashing against his Rescuer? (Of course not.) But when you decide to go out in your own strength to fight your own battles?

Haven’t I taught you?

Are you still not clear as to this Kingdom Law?

Sometimes child, I AM so disappointed in My children.

Yes (even you) because you know better than this!

Your battles are not yours; never have been. But the choices, they are yours; always have been!

Truth Encounter

What have I told you over and over again?

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;”  2 Cor. 10:42 Cor. 10:4
English: World English Bible - WEB

4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the throwing down of strongholds,

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When you insist on fighting for yourself and with the world’s weapons?

Why are you surprised at the meager outcome?

I AM your strength—I AM!

Come, remember what you have been taught. You are in a war to end all wars! There are cannon flash and explosions in the heavenlies. Great is the storm and conflict between LIGHT and DARKNESS… great is the cunning and stealth of the enemy’s agents.

Victory Over DepressionCome, forget the past—repent and I will restore.

The battle rages, and we (My forces and I) have great need of you. I have created you for just this hour. Put on your armor. Surrender your will and your ways. The battle is Mine ~ I AM your strength! Nothing can defeat My will (except your own willfulness).

Lay it down—surrender all to Me.

Then, you can’t lose!

a closer walk

 

“I will love thee, O Lord, MY STRENGTH.”

Psalm 18:1Psalm 18:1
English: World English Bible - WEB

18 For the Chief Musician. By David the servant of Yahweh, who spoke to Yahweh the words of this song in the day that Yahweh delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said, 1 I love you, Yahweh, my strength.

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REPENT: Original Word: “greek” metanoia.

Short Definition: I repent—I change my mind.

Definition: I repent, change my mind, change the inner man (particularly with reference to acceptance of the will of God), repent.

 

A Closer Walk: Overcoming Dark Storms of Doubt

I was stunned at the size of the doubt-storms that were rolling across the landscape of my life. Suddenly I was being engulfed by dark clouds of questioning God, myself, what I believed about everything.

It is easy to believe in a God of Love when everything in your life is rosy, but when things fall apart? Then you begin to wonder and doubt creeps in.

Why has this happened?

Is it something I’ve done… something I didn’t do?

Or, am I just a victim of chance after all?

In the first days after I returned home from the hospital, I have to tell you, it was God’s silence that made these storms almost unendurable.

How could God be silent when I was in so much pain?

Dark, dark, thoughts paraded through my head daily.

I didn’t want the life I had just been handed. If this was what my life was now to be? I didn’t think I could bear it.

depression The darker my thoughts became, the deeper my depression grew.

It felt as if I was on a long slide into nothingness.

Nothing in my life looked good to me anymore. I felt broken, yes—but worse, I felt broken beyond repair.

This is what depression will do.

It takes you to a place where everything is doused in dark colors and shadows. All brokenness looks irredeemable. You feel completely disconnected from anyone with hope.

Because your hope, has been buried under a landslide of pain, and unanswered questions!

I found myself in a place where songs, sermons, and Christian cliches, could not even begin to reach me.

A severely depressed person sees no hope, because they see no future. Clouds of doubt and fear swallow you whole.

Only one thing was able to pierce my darkness: His Voice.

He whispered, “Life is not over…” and a small glimmer of Light pierced the darkness and found its way into my broken heart.

It was a start.

The dark and The Light began doing battle each day.

His Voice brought hope—but still the dark persisted.

The dark had all my broken evidence on his side.

He drew me outA tug-of-war was going on in my heart and mind; faith pulling one way; darkness and doubt pulling the other.

Strangely enough, it was an ancient song that turned the tide; a psalm of David.

His words from centuries past spoke to me with understanding and commiseration.

My present doubts and darkness were not unfamiliar to him…

“I waited patiently for God to help me; then He listened and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path…” Psalm 40: 1-2Psalm 40: 1-2
English: World English Bible - WEB

40 For the Chief Musician. A Psalm by David. 1 I waited patiently for Yahweh. He turned to me, and heard my cry. 2 He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay. He set my feet on a rock, And gave me a firm place to stand.

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David was describing exactly where I was.

And, how I felt.

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RUNNING IN CIRCLES

Don’t let the enemy sidetrack you honey.

See how he taunts you; how he works to provoke you?

You’ve really got him worried Sweetheart.

The Light of God's VoiceJust settle down in Me.

(Abide, remember?)

Don’t let him stir up your inner man.

Don’t let him create chaos in your outer circumstances.

You have this power over him, not the other way around! If he can provoke you; get you running in circles emotionally; he can hinder My work in you and through you.

But you are too smart for him. You know what to do and how to do it! You have come, too far, to let him sidetrack you now.

Don’t you hear it? The music? Don’t you hear what is flowing from your heart and soul? A new song—a new symphony from you to My world!

My feet are on The RockYou thought it was just for My people?

Oh, no. I have much bigger things in mind for you.

Why do you think the enemy torments you so, day and night?

I see. I hear.

But, child… oh, My sweet adorable one… the music!

The music!

Where once there were squeaky notes of discord, ah now… the rhythm and harmony… how I love it! (How I love you!) You are beginning to understand how much I love you. And together—together we are writing new songs for the whole world to sing!

Keep your peace honey. Don’t let him steal it, ever!

It is the prelude to music!

a closer walk“He has given me a new song to sing… many will hear of the glorious thing he did… and put their trust in him.”

Psalm 40:3Psalm 40:3
English: World English Bible - WEB

3 He has put a new song in my mouth, even praise to our God. Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in Yahweh.

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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 52:8Psalm 52:8
English: World English Bible - WEB

8 But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in God’s house. I trust in God’s loving kindness forever and ever.

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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 40:9Isaiah 40:9
English: World English Bible - WEB

9 You who tell good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain; you who tell good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with strength; lift it up, don’t be afraid; say to the cities of Judah, Behold, your God!

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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 41:8-9Isaiah 41:8-9
English: World English Bible - WEB

8 But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend, 9 you whom I have taken hold of from the ends of the earth, and called from the corners of it, and said to you, You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you away;

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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.

Image result for god speaking to man

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.

Image result for people pleaser quotes

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.

Image result for woman sitting in rubble after earthquake

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.

Image result for storms

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 38:9Psalm 38:9
English: World English Bible - WEB

9 Lord, all my desire is before you. My groaning is not hidden from you.

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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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