Tag Archives: Jason Gray

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
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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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A Closer Walk: Escape to An Awesome Savior!

I grew up with condemnation and criticism. It was well meant (sometimes) but still, it’s tough to breathe in that world. Tougher still, to grow into the decent and kind person, you want to be. All you can “think” in that atmosphere is, escape… I have to escape.

I am slowly learning...Yeah, rejection is a powerful toxin—and verbal abuse a stone killer.

When will we learn that?

Why do we believe that we can control, and own others, by battering another’s poor heart into a million, shattered, and broken pieces?

I didn’t understand the power of bitterness as a child, but I could feel it.

I used to think that kind of enviornment was normal. (It was all I knew.) Then later, I knew I had to find something different, because I was becoming like my abusers. My “normal” was corroding my heart into something I no longer recognized—into a someone I didn’t want to be. I knew if I wanted to breathe, if I wanted to love and be loved, I had to get away.

I had to lay down the dead hopes that my family would magically change and choose something better than their old and bitter verbal artillery.

So, I laid down a dead dream, and picked up His cross.

For a time, I believed all that “broken stuff” was wasted debris. That, not only could it NOT be fixed, but the dead weight of it had to be jettisoned from my life. (And there is some truth to that.) Some toxic relationships, no matter how much sweet water gets poured into them, will by their own heart’s choices, choose to remain bitter.

Your are priceless!Yet, even though the people we had hoped would love us, reject our love—even those difficult experiences can be wonderfully useful for His Kingdom.

It is His M.O. in us, after all!

He is: A Ransom-Redeemer, A Reviver-Restorer. The Royal-Resurrecter!

It has taken me six decades, count them, SIX long-n-dusty… bloody-n-broken… rocky-road-decades, but I have finally learned these Kingdom Truths:

God wastes NOTHING.

Our SCARS and DEBRIS are someone else’s HEALING and HOPE.

Forsaking ALL will lead us straight to HIS REDEMPTION PLAN.

And His plan?

Will BLOW destiny’s doors off their JOY-HINGES!

He rebuilds shattered lives into bridges—strong sturdy bridges that will carry other shattered hearts straight into His loving arms of Redeeming Grace.

Yahoo, what an awesome Savior!

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THEN… YOU WILL KNOW

There will be times when you will do your best, you will pray, you will believe, and still things will seem to go wrong. You may even be tempted to think, all you’ve done is worth nothing; only empty space.

This is where the wheat and the chaff go their seperate ways.

It is easy to work when all are pleased and the applause abounds. I have many in My Kingdom who will serve under such circumstances, many.

Ah, but when the wind is contrary, how those “easy-chair-followers” scatter!

Following ChristAnd, you? What about you now that you see what is really in their hearts? Will you leave Me, too?

I tell you, building this Kingdom of Mine is not for the faint of heart. The day is quickly approaching when the enemy will come in like a flood. There will be testing and trying like My Church has never seen! Many will forsake their friends and betray those they called “brother.”

I AM coming to do away with these easy-chairs, and all who cling to them! (But you?) You are My First Fruit! You will show the way to those who remain. You will encourage their hearts by your words of comfort.

No turning back

Then, “Ha, then!” it will not seem in vain. Then, you will see your Teacher, and you will know how wise were your appointed lessons.

Yes, then, your work will stand.

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“…but my work for them seems all in vain;”

Isaiah 49:4Isaiah 49:4
English: World English Bible - WEB

4 But I said, I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely the justice due to me is with Yahweh, and my recompense with my God.

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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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The Battles Are Real, But…

My fiercest battles are with an idea that is sometimes monthly, sometimes weekly… sometimes daily.

Ever get an “idea” in your head that dogs you?

Yeah, I know, me too.

Okay, I hate admitting this, especially since on this blog I talk constantly about NOT giving up. Here at wound dresser we have one simple message: There is fresh HOPE in each new sunrise.

But, here’s the thing. The enemy fights his fiercest battles against me because I am called to be “an encourager.”

Yep, I do battle “big time” with the Adversary and his creepy little friends. All those insidious little whisper-mongers that show up at all the worst possible times.

You know the ones.

The moments when you’re hurting so bad you are gasping for your next breath. Moments when you’re just SO sick-n-tired of being SO sick-n-tired.

And, let’s not forget the lowest of the LOW—those moments when your world crashes around you because everything you believed was “true,” everything that was your own personal TRUE NORTH, well it just ain’t really REAL at all.

When you’re lookin’ at life from that infamous rock-bottom-pit called ROCKBOTTOM, that’s when all the insidious little “Give-up” monsters come crooning into your ears saying things like, “You idiot. What were you thinking? Nobody believes. Nobody cares. You’re wasting your time. Why don’t you just give up?”

Don’t think I preach from some pulpit called ‘got-it-all-together’. Oh no, Woundresser was commissioned from dark places. There are many years of wounding’s that happen before you can even think of being a “woundresser.”

Yet, it is from those battle scars with their extensive and expensive education, that comfort sweetly flows. There’s nothing like feeling the knife yourself to give you a graphic understanding of the pain others feel.

So what’s my point?

Our wounds are not random or meaningless. God transforms our pain into redeeming purpose, first for our own lives, but then also for the lives of others. Our hurting is often the price we pay for an “understanding” heart.

If you’re struggling today, please remember, Jesus has a plan. He has purpose in what’s going on. His strength will get you through this battle.

It’s not us that holds it all together—it’s Him!

There is good stuff somewhere up ahead, so don’t give up, don’t give in, don’t give out.

When nothing in your life makes sense—Jesus will.

When all your strength is gone—Jesus will give you His.

And, when your hope is on life support?

Jesus will breathe fresh hope into you.

“…BECAUSE His compassions fail not. THEY ARE NEW EVERY MORNING… great is His faithfulness… therefore, I HOPE IN HIM!”   Lamentations 3:22-24Lamentations 3:22-24
English: World English Bible - WEB

22 It is of Yahweh’s loving kindnesses that we are not consumed, because his compassion doesn’t fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 Yahweh is my portion, says my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

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I don’t care who has walked out on you, who has lied on you, or who has told you, “This will never work. You will never be enough. It is hopeless. You are hopeless. Just quit!”

Don’t you believe it!

Yeah, the battle is real, but here’s some TRUTH to wrap around your hurting heart.

Jesus walks in when the world walks out. (Heb. 13:5Heb. 13:5
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5 Be free from the love of money, content with such things as you have, for he has said, “I will in no way leave you, neither will I in any way forsake you.”

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Jesus never lies—never. (Num. 23:19Num. 23:19
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19 God is not a man, that he should lie, Neither the son of man, that he should repent: Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not make it good?

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Jesus always finishes what He has begun—always. (Phil. 1:6Phil. 1:6
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6 being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

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Jesus is ENOUGH for every IMPOSSIBLE in your life!

hope for the battle

He’s got you. With God, nothing, NOTHING is impossible. You’re not at the end, you’re in the-murky-middle, and that is where the battle rages. It’s where the temptation to give up can seem overwhelming.

The battles are real—but so are His mercies.

He’s got this.

“Is there any god like our God? Are we not at bedrock? Is not this the God who armed me, then aimed me in the right direction?” Psalm 18:31Psalm 18:31
English: World English Bible - WEB

31 For who is God, except Yahweh? Who is a rock, besides our God,

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The Message

You bet! Hope is here. In Him. In Christ, ALL things hold together.

How do I know that’s true?

He keeps holding me together!

He’s here with grace, fresh strength, and victorious hope.

“Christ is the exact likeness of the unseen God. He existed before God made anything at all, and, in fact, Christ himself is the Creator who made everything in heaven and earth, the things we can see and the things we can’t; the spirit world with its kings and kingdoms, its rulers and authorities; all were made by Christ for his own use and glory. He was before all else began and it is his power that holds everything together.

Col. 1:15-17Col. 1:15-17
English: World English Bible - WEB

15 who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him were all things created, in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things are held together.

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