Tag Archives: Suffering

A Closer Walk: God Never Plays Games With Us

God never plays games with us. He never lies to us. He always shoots straight with us.

I believe that is why Jesus plainly said,

“And no one can be my disciple who does not carry his own cross and follow me. But DON’T BEGIN until you count the cost…” Luke 14:27-28Luke 14:27-28
English: World English Bible - WEB

27 Whoever doesn’t bear his own cross, and come after me, can’t be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and count the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?

WP-Bible plugin
What could be plainer than that statement?

So, why don’t we believe Him?

God demands everything

Why do we play games?

(Because we do.)

In the Western Church we act like this “discipleship-thing” is some sort of a democratic club. We sing that God is supreme. We say that Jesus is our King. But, if things don’t go well? If we don’t get to have our say, or have our way? We bail out—plain and simple.

The sad truth most church statisticians agree upon.

We hate to be inconvenienced, and because of that, there are as many people going out the back door of our churches as are coming in the front door!

If we don’t get what we want, and by that I mean, the pastor’s length of sermon, the style of music, the style of service, a good parking spot, or our favorite seat—we find a way to say, “Bye-bye.” Suffering—REAL suffering—is definitely not on our agendas.

And that was me!

I was seriously thinking of bailing—and here was God—painting a picture of greater suffering?

I had lost my health, my job, and with it, all of my income, my good credit, my freedom and choice of movement, my church, all my church “friends” and now God was saying, “…things could get worse.”

Worse?

You bet I was re-thinking my discipleship!

I was raised in the democratic Church in the West.

We vote on everything and I wanted a VOTE on this kind of agenda!

All InIt’s all well and good to be sitting on my nice clean cushioned-seat, in my lovely safe air-conditioned church building, singing sweet songs about how much I love Jesus.

BUT, it was quite another to contemplate things getting much worse—while I was occupying my own personal ash pile!

What was I really signing up for?

Did I want this dream I had asked God to give me?

I mean, did I really want it—at any cost?

faith or control?God was using words like “danger” and “hardship” with no apologies for either, you bet I was thinking long and hard.

Did I love Jesus as much as I claimed?

His words, “… don’t begin until you count the cost.” was certainly clear enough.

It was time to decide.

I know it looked crazy, (It probably sounds crazy too.) but my answer was, “Yes.”

I said, “LORD, I don’t have any idea where the two of us are headed, but I’ve come too far to turn back now.”

I was scared.

Life already looked plenty grim.

But regardless—I decided—I was all-in.

journal

WHY DO YOU WEAR THAT FUNNY LOOK?

So you have chosen. Good. Good!

No turning back.

I AM glad you have chosen to  go on.

It had to be your decision.

You are surprised?

upgrade your faithHave I not chosen to bind Myself by men’s free will? What kind of relationship would choose to hog-tie the other’s free will? That is not friendship, that is slavery!

I AM no slaver!

I AM the Divine Lover.

I never force.

(No, it is not My way.)

I do want you to come away with Me—with all My heart I want this. I AM so jealous when you choose “another love” instead of Me.

I freely admit it  I AM crazy about you!

Why do you wear that funny look?

Had you not figured it out by now?

Did I not tell you?

I would move stars and planets for you!

I would make the sun stand still for you!

I would follow you to the deepest, darkest cave, to win your love!

(This you know is true.)

Let Me shout it, “I LOVE YOU BELOVED!”

Let Me whisper it, “I love you.”

I love you with an intensity you will never understand!

When you choose Me—freely choose Me—no matter the cost? When you lay your life down as you have chosen to do?

My Spirit soars!

You are My passion Sweetheart. I wanted you to know it now, and for all time…

I love you.

a closer walk

 

“But we have never turned our backs on God…”

Hebrews 10:39Hebrews 10:39
English: World English Bible - WEB

39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the saving of the soul.

WP-Bible plugin

 

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.)

journal

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 7:24-25Romans 7:24-25
English: World English Bible - WEB

24 What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord! So then with the mind, I myself serve God’s law, but with the flesh, the sin’s law.

WP-Bible plugin
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 8:1Romans 8:1
English: World English Bible - WEB

8 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don’t walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

WP-Bible plugin

 

God Is Real & The Bible Is Truth with Kim Bond

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?

journal

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;

WP-Bible plugin

 

Beloved Prodigal… (Part 3 ~ Storms To Come)

aviary-photo_131218001068056944Jesus said quite clearly, “Count the cost.”

Believe me—those are words I now hold very sacred.

When Jesus says to you, “Follow me.” He is not asking you to live in a hothouse full of roses. He is calling you to your own cross.

And, your “cross” is not a pretty piece of jewelry around your neck. It is an instrument of torture, suffering, and death. Your cross is a place where Self, with its hopes, aspirations, and dreams are annihilated.

We in the Church throw the word cross around as casually as grace sometimes. But we do people a great disservice if we portray following Christ as only a “joy ride” without the expectation to also wholeheartedly embrace suffering.

The Apostle Paul wrote,”

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” [Gal. 2:20Gal. 2:20
English: World English Bible - WEB

20 I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me. That life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.

WP-Bible plugin
]

Ponder those words.

If you believe them, you may be choosing to live them out, literally.

Count the cost—because there will be a cost.

His word guarantees it.

And still… I ASKED to be made a woundresser.

Crazy? Probably. Am I sorry? Some days yes; most days—no. And that’s just being honest with you.

I now know to become a woundresser involves a costly education.

One I do not recommend for the faint of heart.

BACK IN “THE FOLD” — MY EDUCATION CONTINUES

As if my past is not enough of a resume, Jesus decides my education needs expanding.

There were more dark storms waiting for me on my horizon; baffling and incomprehensible storms. Storms that shook everything I trusted and believed.

“… everything that could be shaken, would be shaken so that that which could not be shaken would remain.” [Heb. 12:27Heb. 12:27
English: World English Bible - WEB

27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, that those things which are not shaken may remain.

WP-Bible plugin
my paraphrase]

I share these details not to look for your sympathy; not to say, “Oh, poor me.” but rather, “Yeah, me too!”

  • I have been through two major health crashes.
  • The first one brought me to the edge of death.
  • I became pregnant at eighteen only to have my twin babies die in utero.
  • Being young, painfully ignorant, and unaware of what happened, I walked around with these dead babies inside.
  • Needless to say, I became extremely ill and almost died. But that wasn’t the worst. Not the pain, or the blood, or even the resulting hysterectomy at eighteen. That hysterectomy was devastating. But the grief and pain that got buried under a huge secret was worse.
  • I was told “a tumor had been removed” and my medical records were then sealed.
  • For over forty years there were memories of events I couldn’t explain. Questions that went unanswered. And grief that had been buried alive. It was the weirdest sensation, being haunted by “feelings” that made no sense.
  • Then there was the ultimate realization that most of your adult life has been based on a lie.
  • My second medical crisis, a misdiagnosed thyroid crash, left me helpless, hopeless, and jobless.
  • There were astronomical medical bills I couldn’t pay, putting me into a medical bankruptcy and wiping out my credit.
  • I have been homeless—twice. Though not “on the street” I have slept on floors, in some very filthy and unsafe places.
  • I spent twelve years building a business, only to hand it off to an unscrupulous business partner who decided he wanted it ALL. I walked away with nothing, believing what the bible says, that fighting in a courtroom is wrong and about as unchristian as it gets.
  • I have been through what I call “a Church holocaust” where I was shunned, though I was never charged with any offense. Overnight I was an untouchable outcast. No one was allowed to speak to me or have any contact with me.
  • You have to go through the horror of shunning to understand that kind of painful rejection. You are emotionally stoned and left for dead.
  • The official diagnosis was: “One of the worst cases of spiritual abuse the Experts had ever seen.
  • Their verdict: “These people will likely never recover, or ever be an active part of a church again.”
  • I have endured a “bully” pulpit, but Pastors are also victims of abuse. The spiritual abuse door swings both ways.
  • My last three churches all had pastors who became embroiled in headline-making sexual scandals. The “holocaust” ending in a devastating church split.
  • Me? I’m thinking, “Three strikes—I’m out!”

God AGAIN—had OTHER plans.

  • First, because His plan holds the promise that He will never forsake you. (No matter how fierce your storm!)
  • Second, because of His love, He will make a way when you lose your way.
  • I was befriended by one Christian couple.
  • Ned and Maryellen—you were the incarnation for me; Jesus with skin on.
  • They washed my wounds with the word of God.
  • They spoke Light and Love into my life when I saw only darkness, pain, and hopelessness.
  • They “sang” songs of faith to me when I was engulfed in storm clouds of despair and doubt.
  • They gave me back my song when I believed I would never sing again.
  • They were His Lighthouse’s, shining Truth into my storm; reviving my battered faith.
  • Though we have never formally met, I will love them to my last earthly breath.

Which brings me to this place—this book I call, Habakkuk’s Vineyard.

(Perhaps the point and real purpose of it all?)

This “vineyard” has been a barren place for sure—of everything but His Love and Grace.

Because it has been RIGHT HERE that He has PROVED TO ME:

Nothing can separate me from the love of God!

  • Not broken families.
  • Not our own brand of broken behavior.
  • Not broken churches.
  • Not other broken hearts—who just don’t know Him yet.
  • NOTHING. [Romans 8:38-39Romans 8:38-39
    English: World English Bible - WEB

    38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    WP-Bible plugin
    ]
  • That word is now branded on my soul.

God always has OTHER plans for us. Plans for GOOD—not just calamity! (Jeremiah 29: 11Jeremiah 29: 11
English: World English Bible - WEB

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says Yahweh, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end.

WP-Bible plugin
)

Today I am attending a church. (Yes, I do still struggle at times…) But MIRACLE of MIRACLES, I wrote this book FOR YOU, a Prodigal.

Like I said before, “Yeah, Me too!”

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save