Sticks and stones …..

Evan and Elsa names in rock cache“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” we resorted to a self-protecting reply in the face of taunts and teasing from the other children on the playground. They would, of course, NEVER have the courage to be verbally abusive – and that’s what it was – in front of the teacher or principal, because they’d face the consequences of disrespecting another person. In my day, that was one quick, solid whack from Mr. Nelson’s paddle. Interestingly, one swat often “redirected” the bullies in class far more effectively than a time out in the corner.

The truth is, words cut and injure more deeply, significantly, and for much longer than any poke from a stick or bruise from a stone. Sticks and stones hurt the body, which mends quickly. Words cut viciously into the heart, into the soul, into the identity and value of a person, which means so much to God. No one, not even my enemy, deserves to be dismissed as a person, robbed of value, dignity, honor, respect,

I grew up in a home where harsh words were never used or heard. Oh, yes, my mother let me know when I’d disobeyed, but she always spoke of the behavior, not of me as a person. I never doubted my worth to her, value she made all the more evident the day she came to ask me to forgive her for falsely accusing me of lying. What worth she poured into me that day!

So I was never prepared to deal with verbal abuse when it struck suddenly like the fangs of a small, hidden viper early in my marriage. Had I known then what I came to know 38 years later, I would have confronted the angry jabs at my identity as the abuse they were. I chalked it up to his early childhood living in a very strict family and let it roll off my back. Only much later did his mother tell her children that their father was seriously mentally ill. Only later did she reveal her frustration and her own sense of invalidation to me. I had no idea then how early emotional and verbal abuse permanently damages “wiring” in the brain and sets up a child to become a “user,” ”controller” or abuser later in life.

Faithful are  the wounds of a friend, the Bible says, but hurtful, rejecting, abasing, accusing, denigrating, disrespectful, abusive words from someone you trust who tells you he/she loves you are like a flight of arrows or javelins, aimed top pierce the core of your heart. God does not want anyone assaulted verbally, mentally, emotionally, or physically. Anger is an emotion God gave us to alert us to problems. Righteous anger is not sinful and should not be associated with abuse. Anger mishandled can certainly lead to a sinful, abusive response, but it is a sinful heart, not the emotion of anger, that is the root cause of abuse. Abuse crosses the line from the proper expression of unmet needs to a sinful disregard for the worth and dignity of another person. The Bible regards abuse as sin because we are called to love one another. (John 13:34) Abuse disregards others and violates this command. An abuser desires to satisfy his natural selfishness regardless of the consequences to himself or others abuse, but the true deep insecurity in them  ensures they won’t be abusive in public where authorities and others might see and think less of them or bring on consequences.

The Bible doesn’t use the term “verbal abuse,” but God speaks clearly about the power of our words: “The tongue has the power of life and death” Proverbs 18:21 NIV

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:23-31 NIV

Verbal abuse is one weapon in the stockpile of emotional abuse. While abusers use many tactics and strategies, the ultimate goal is to gain dominance and control over someone in a relationship. We all can be or have been abusive at some time, because we all fall short of God’s command to love one another at all times, but ongoing verbal, emotional, or mental abuse is a sign of a much deeper issue or pervasive sin problem. Verbal abuse constitutes psychological violence. Verbal abuse is n sin that seldom goes away on its own and can potentially escalate into physical or other forms of abuse.

We all can be or have been abusive at some time, because we all fall short of God’s command to love one another at all times. But ongoing verbal, emotional, or mental abuse is a sign of a much deeper issue or pervasive sin problem. Those who’ve been abused don’t get a free pass to perpetuate it in their own relationships. Those of us who tend toward deep empathy need to walk away from the false sense of responsibility for, or the need to cover up, an abuser’s actions. Sometimes being ”nice” isn’t helpful or healing, nor is it, I’ve come to see, truly “Christlike” if it only puts a Band-Aid over a festering wound that needs to be exposed to the light of truth for real cleansing. The tricky part for tender-hearted people is to understand how to “speak the truth in love,” and how to walk away in integrity, without returning abuse for abuse, when the truth is rejected.

One of the most  helpful things I did for myself, without realizing it, was to tell children at a school where I worked that they were men of valor, courage, strength, honor, integrity, dignity, and kindness, and told the girls they were women of virtue,  courage, kindness, value, worth, beauty, kindness, honor compassion, and caring. I sensed God telling me this is true of me, too!   One  prayer warrior I’d never met before told me,  “I see the beach. Words are written on the sand, but God is coming like  a wave to wash away all the words spoken over you.” I needed the wave of God to wash away all the  abusive words so much deeper in me than words in the sand, but thank you, God,t hat you see themas just words in the sand.

Christians, churches, and civil authorities clearly know what to tell victims of physical abuse: get out while you can, and report it. Sticks and stones leave marks. But how can the abused document verbal, emotional, or mental abuse? Who will believe you when your abuser seems so charming and mentally sound? Where do you go for help? And why include this in a devotional book?

My abuser “pulled the wool over the eyes” of two psychologists and one psychiatrist. I take comfort in knowing that God does indeed know the truth and I cling to the truth that God l will never abandon me – even if on my rough days I feel like He has – or grow tired in loving me. Out of relentless love and value for me, God brought a woman into my life through a small group Bible study who told me quite bluntly, ”Oh, he’s a narcissist,” and pointed me to a helpful website, BPDCentral.com. God spoke through another woman I didn’t even know, who heard from the Holy Spirit as she was ironing and gave the message to the young man who was renting a room in my house. I share it to encourage someone else who is suffering the pain of abuse and injustice:

“Don’t give up. Come to ME in MY secret hiding place, under MY protective wings. Love ME as I love you. Fear not anything man has done to you. MY WORD is what is important. I hold you in MY arms. You are MY chosen child.”

On the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday last year, God lovingly lined up three cars with “vanity plates” – license plates with words or a reference to a saying – to pull in front of my car one after the other. In order, the plates read ”Justice,” ”Christz” and ”Chronos.”

Can we as the church, we as Christians, wake up to the silent suffering going on in our midst, drop the shame and blame we all too often lay on the victims – as if they were responsible for creating the abuse in their abusers – and courageously confront the men and women inflicting such damage out of their own unconfessed, denied and hidden wounding? Can we offer the wounded abusers a place of real grace and tough, but real, love that gives hope for transformation when they find the courage to admit their abusive nature and ask for help? We must break the silence!

I pray we can. I pray others caught in the trap of unseen abuse will find the courage to speak to someone of their own gender whom they can trust and seek wise counsel. I pray Christians will offer better, more compassionate and understanding advice than others gave me: ”Just get over it.” I pray we can all know who our true enemy is: Satan and his legion of abusive deceivers. I pray for my abuser, that somehow the relentless love of God will pursue him with redemptive judgment, not for his destruction, but for his transformation. My prayer for a narcissist, ”God, break him to make him the man of true goodness, kindness and integrity you intended him to be when you formed him, in his mother’s womb” is not a prayer of anger or revenge, but a fervent cry for true justice for us all from the real abuser of us all, Satan himself, the father of lies and abuse. Father, I surrender my abuser to you for your victory over the abuser in him.

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel ( insert the name of the person who offended or abused you) is that they (name him/her) may be saved.” Romans 10:1 NIV

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:43 NIV

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Cor. 6:19-20 NIV

Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself. Proverbs 2:24 NIV

 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:14-19 NIV

God loves you, period, forever. Hang on to the hand that won’t ever wound or push you away!

A “…BUT …”to pray: Oh, God, ABBA Father, I cry out to you. You feel my pain from _______________________________________________________________________ and you want me, above all, to know how much you love me. I confess I’ve been thoughtless and I hurt ________________________’s feelings when I said__________________________________________. Forgive me, God, and give me the courage to go to _____________________________ admit my wrong, and ask for forgiveness. Help me,Holy Spirit, to use only kind words when I speak, and filly words with encouragement,truth and grace. God, you know that __________________ did/said ____________________________________________________________________________ and I see now that wasn’t just a mistake; it was abuse. Holy Spirit, show me if and how and where and to whom I need to speak up to bring into the open, for true healing, _____________________________________________________________. Show me what real love looks like in this situation, and where and how I need to exercise “tough love” if that’s what will be best. Almighty God, if I need to walk away from _______________________________________, give me the courage to trust that you will hold me in your hand, cover me with your promises, and provide for my needs as your word promises. I’m listening for your voice now, looking for your hand to lead me. Help me trust in your love for me. In Jesus’ name, amen!Sticks and Stones …..

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Know Your Enemy, Know Your Victory!

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take you8r stand against the devils schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God.. Ephesians 6: 10-13

An eating machine: emotionless, calculating, seeking to fill its own desires and satisfy its hunger. Simple. Prey is prey, no personal agenda other than a full stomach. Horrifying truth if you’re a gazelle: it’s not about you – it’s about the lion’s hunger.

I came face-to-face with a horrifying corollary revelation as I awakened from a dream at five o’clock one morning. In my dream, someone I loved and trusted was dispassionately humiliating me. The conversation was about, of all things, a cell phone plan, but that was beside the point I suspect the Holy Spirit was trying to impress upon me. I woke with a feeling of stark horror, seeing an image of the person I knew calmly driving a knife into my chest while he spoke with cold, dispassionate, conscienceless, emotionless, heartless, impersonal, calculated deliberation about why he was doing it.

I have always hated violent, scary movies. I have a natural empathy for others, and I always identified with characters in movies, whether with their joy or their terror. I have to be careful about what I let into my overly compassionate brain! The most frightening movies and real-life stories involve killers –and in these days terrorists – who take other lives in that impersonal, passionless, conscienceless, remorseless, deliberate, cold and calculated way. They don’t kill because they are angry with their victim; they kill to satisfy a hunger within themselves that is the embodiment of pure evil.

I immediately asked the Lord what in the world my dream was about, and suddenly I knew. Our enemy the devil doesn’t care about and isn’t the least bit interested is us as individuals; his only interest is in hurting God, depriving God of the objects of His love, the ones Jesus cherishes, the ones who return his love with gladness and praise and worship. Satan’s hunger is to destroy God’s creation, God’s children, and God’s purposes for their lives and relationship with Him.

I remembered another odd incident when I was 17 years old. One evening I was taking a shower when suddenly, out of nowhere, the thought of a universe without God struck me. The empty horror of barren, pointless, cold and empty existence sank me to my knees shivering on the tile under the warm running water. I shook off the panic by reminding myself of the love I knew from Jesus, the certainty that he lived, he loved and died and rose again FOR ME and lives forever vibrantly and gloriously still with an undying love for me.

Oh, how that must “fry” the devil, when we know with heart-level, gut-level certainty how much the Creator of the universe cherishes us! Lucifer was the chief cherub, the leader of worship in Heaven, when he let love for his own beauty pollutes his heart and set him resolutely and viciously against God Almighty and God’s creation, including all of humanity. He and the angels who joined him, a third of the host of Heaven who rebelled against God, were defeated and cast down, his name changed to Satan, which means “destruction.”

How his narcissistic anger must burn in knowing his defeat is certain because of the victory Jesus won in taking upon himself all our sins and our punishment on the cross, forever cancelling our guilty verdict and restoring us to freely forgiven fellowship with our Father!

Do you know how precious you are? Do you know you were born onto a cosmic battlefield? The most important part you play in the battle for yourself is coming to know and believe the love God has for you? (I John 4:16) The next strategic understanding we must have is that we do have an enemy who wants nothing more than to convince us the first truth isn’t true. His weapons of temptation, accusation, and deception are limited and totally useless against our sure knowledge of the price God paid for us to live in fellowship with him and our firm resolve to live, out of that love we know God has for us, lives that reflect love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22) even in the face of a narcissistic, self-focused, personal satisfaction-driven world, even in the face of other people who’ve been fed the lies, distortions, accusations, temptations, and abuses the devil lays out as a snare to snag them, capture them, then devour all of God’s plans and purposes for them, in them and through them.

And the only reason he conducts this hideous, horrifyingly impersonal, calculated, cold, heartless, conscienceless, passionless, brutal warfare is to hurt our Father God. I for one will not give my enemy the satisfaction of his polluted hunger. I choose to believe, in spite of the reality of betrayal, disrespect, and dismissal, that the greater reality is this:

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us., that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!…He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God (Jesus) appeared was to destroy the devils work. …This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers….Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God….You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in your (Jesus) is greater than the one who is in the world….Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God…. This is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. I John 3:1, 8, 16, 4:4, 7-8, 10-11

And so I choose to love, everyone I can, in every way I can, at every time I can, because I AM part of the victory of Jesus s and I have a job to do in making His love real to others. I will not cave to bitterness, addictions, offenses, my own insecurity that might lead me to demand control, things my way, “worship” from others,. I will not let the devourer use me to hurt my beloved loving Father God!

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Tiger or lion, equally devouring

Tiger or lion, equally devouring

Matthew 5:43-48

You were NOT created to be prey of a hungry, bitter, arrogant and calculating enemy either; you were created to be loved by the Author of Life and the Lover of your soul! Rise up and claim that love for yourself, to wrap yourself in a fiery passion for you forever!

Know Your Enemy, Know Your Victory!

Enlarge My Territory

Funny how God invades my quiet times and turns my thoughts upside down and inside out! I’d love it if I had some sweet sunny rainbow and bunnies post today, but I cannot turn my face away from this child! I cannot hide, deny, or run from the heart of my Jesus and his call on my life and yours. We are not our own; we were bought with a price. We are HIS, and HE needs us to grow up now.

Yesterday I saw horrendous photos of children – and I mean toddlers – being shot in the head by terrorists, children’s bodies lying in rows as hooded men stood over them. This morning I’m reading Psalm 143 and reciting the verses I have memorized, “Save me from my enemies, for I hide myself in you….” And I stop short. This morning this prayer isn’t about me, isn’t meant to be just about the adversary I face in my own life; this morning the Holy Spirit is enlarging both my heart and my prayers.

And haven’t I encouraged other people to do this very thing? On the World Day of Prayer in 2007 I gave a message entitled, “I Need a Bigger Pot” at another church, encouraging the folks assembled to “un-bonsai” their prayer life by taking prayer out of the “my world, my needs” pot, letting their roots and branches grow to un-stunt the growth in the oaks of righteousness they were called to be.

In a split second (God moves at the speed of understanding, which is sometimes faster than the speed of light) I thought of the Prayer of Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 and the impact Dr. Bruce Wilkinsons’ book by the same title had on me personally and millions of others back in 2000 when it hit and flew out of bookstores.

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez,[a] saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 (NIV)

The subtitle of that book was “Breaking Free to the Blessed Life.” Oh, my righteous Father, do I think the line about enlarging my territory means give me more goodness in my life? Give me influence over more people, in more places, and raise me up to greater accolades and affirmation? Do I realize that 262 of your children desperately NEED to BREAK FREE of their ungodly, unholy captors? Did my heart break yesterday for them? Better question: did I enlarge the territory of my heart? Did my heart-rent prayers GO UP FOR THEM? DID I LET YOU, JESUS, ENLARGE MY HEART AND THE BREADTH AND REACH AND POTENTIAL OF MY PRAYERS?

Read it again, Rose, with God’s eyes, with Jesus’ heart, with the Holy Spirit’s call to you to get down on the floor and pray Psalm 143 FOR your brothers and sisters in more than harm’s way. Lift them to the Father. Defend them with the Blood of Jesus. Call for some Angles to listen up to Psalm 103:20 “Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word” and give them some Word to take!

Read it again or for the first time, couple it with your desire for God to “enlarge your territory,” and extend your heart and your passionate prayers for the Persecuted Church, to dying innocent children, to mother and fathers watching their flesh and blood shot and beheaded. DOES THAT ENLARGE YOUR TERRITORY? How does that impact your prayer, “Oh, that you would bless me.. .and keep me from harm”?

How can I pray that for myself without praying it for that toddler who had six rifles aimed at her precious little head? Can you hear the words of Jesus today in a new way, in a larger territory? What do you hear in his words?

 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:35-4 (NIV)

What do you hear Paul speaking to you? “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 (NIV) Is there something, someone you could pick up and carry in your prayers today?

“And God granted his request.” If God sent a yes to Jabez, won’t he send a yes to your passionate prayer? Don’t you think he’s waiting for you to ask him to move in a way that will show the world his majesty, his holiness, his love, his righteousness, his power? Don’t you think THEY are waiting for prayers from their brothers and sisters to join with their own and set captives free?

I’d love for this post to reach maybe a million people today, so passionate is my cry to see God move to end this horrendous, treacherous abomination by HIS POWER in HIS WAY for HIS GLORY. Maybe only one person will read this. Maybe only one more person will pray. If that person is you, and if you have no idea how to begin, here are Psalm 143 and 144. Put their “names” into this word, launch it, and believe with me that

 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11New International Version (NIV)

A “… BUT…” to pray today: LORD, your children all over the world are in peril, literally for their lives, BUT YOU O GOD promise to hear me when I pray, and I ask you to enlarge my territory, so I pray for them:

A psalm of David.

Lord, hear my prayer,

listen to my cry for mercy;

in your faithfulness and righteousness

come to my relief.

Do not bring your servant into judgment,

for no one living is righteous before you.

The enemy pursues me,

he crushes me to the ground;

he makes me dwell in the darkness

like those long dead.

8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,

for I have put my trust in you.

Show me the way I should go,

for to you I entrust my life.

Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,

for I hide myself in you.

Psalm 143

 

Praise be to the Lord my Rock,

who trains my hands for war,

my fingers for battle.

He is my loving God and my fortress,

my stronghold and my deliverer,

my shield, in whom I take refuge,

who subdues peoples[a] under me.

Lord, what are human beings that you care for them,

mere mortals that you think of them?

They are like a breath;

their days are like a fleeting shadow.

Part your heavens, Lord, and come down;

touch the mountains, so that they smoke.

Send forth lightning and scatter the enemy;

shoot your arrows and rout them.

Reach down your hand from on high;

deliver me and rescue me

from the mighty waters,

from the hands of foreigners

whose mouths are full of lies,

whose right hands are deceitful.

I will sing a new song to you, my God;

on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,

10 to the One who gives victory to kings,

who delivers his servant David.

From the deadly sword

11 deliver me;

rescue me from the hands of foreigners

whose mouths are full of lies,

whose right hands are deceitful.

12 Then our sons in their youth

will be like well-nurtured plants,

and our daughters will be like pillars

carved to adorn a palace.

13 Our barns will be filled

with every kind of provision.

Our sheep will increase by thousands,

by tens of thousands in our fields;

14  our oxen will draw heavy loads.[b]

There will be no breaching of walls,

no going into captivity,

no cry of distress in our streets.

15 Blessed is the people of whom this is true;

blessed is the people whose God is the Lord.

Psalm 144

Amen and victorious Amen, all for YOUR GLORY JESUS! Horror

Mr "Good Wrench" and "Good Advice"

Sorry all that this is just a quick glimpse into what the Spirit said to me Tuesday, August 15. Driving to work I heard Lysa Terkeurst and Amanda Carroll on KLOVE radio, Lisa talking about her new book Unglued and about ratcheting our anger when we’re repeatedly offended. 

Oh, Eureka! Exactly what my beloved did over 34 years and more of our life together: put his arm to the wrench and ratchet down on the nuts of anger, bitterness, contempt, offense, unforgiveness, wounding, and self-preserving seeking on the tires of his life, so tightly that he can’t let go of his wounded emotions and cultural-norm “look out for yourself” choices. No wonder he’s stuck!

A very able engineer, he always warned me and our sons not to let a tire dealer use the pneumatic wrench to snug down the bolts on the nuts of our wheels too tightly, or we’d never be able to break them loose if we had to change a flat on the road. Ah, but beloved, you did just that, and I almost did until I saw the lies I was believing about your motivation in the things you said and did, and started believing that you DID love me in the ways you could. 

Oh, the PNEUMA of the Holy Spirit to break free the lock-down on our “lug nuts” and fix our flats, give us re-treads or just plain new tires to keep us moving in God’s direction and purposes! This may be a copyrighted phrase, BUT I praise ” Mr. Good Wrench” Jesus and the Holy Spirit to do the releasing for us what we can’t do ourselves if we let him!

And the “good advice”? Disclaimer: I am no one’s Savior, I’m heartily glad Jesus took that role upon himself, and I surrender that right and role to him. I was wondering, though,  how Jesus would have responded in the Garden of Gethsemane to, and how our lives now and forever would play out if Jesus took the advice of, some solid psychologists and counselors who ought to have been there in his agony instead of the snoozing Peter, James and John. Can you hear their advice to him, like the advice given to me?

“It’s time to look out for yourself.”
“Do what’s best for you.”
“Take care of yourself.”
“You can’t change them. They have their own free will.”
“You need to establish healthy boundaries for yourself.”

And the best one, the one I hear caregivers say at the preschool every day : “Just walk away.”

How would YOU have counseled Jesus to respond in his situation?   What if he had? Aren’t you glad he didn’t?

I AM!

So flying in the face of what sounds “right” is our fully functional, not dysfunctional, Lord and lover of our souls Jesus.


Here’s the world’s best “. . . But . . .” to pray:  I was lost in my selfishness and self-seeking frantic attempts to validate myself and find love, and I’ve wounded other people in the search, BUT JESUS YOU DIDN’T WALK AWAY! You thought of me and gave yourself, and in YOUR GIFT I have validation and amazing love now and forever! Jesus, Mr. Good Wrench, put the arm of your love on the lug nuts of my anger and bitterness over ____________________________ and break me free, change my heart, fill me with the penuma – air- breath – of the Holy Spirit so my heart is free to love ________________________________.

All I Have is All He Is

The Word in the middle of silence. The Word in uncertainty and no clear path. The Word in pain and grief. I hate to admit it, but so many times I have cried out to God that I need more than scripture; I need a visible sign of his hand at work in my battle. But there have been no signs. Oh, there have been apparent breakthroughs that turned into closed doors, promise stolen, and plenty of those. Friends see visions, have dreams, receive miracles . . . but not me. All I have is God’s Word from verses that have leaped out to me.

Is that enough to sustain me/you in the deadliest battle and hurricane-strength storm? Maybe that’s what I’m here to learn. I don’t know for certain, but maybe why I’m here is to tell someone else going through Heck that God’s Word IS enough. Right now I’m listening to a live worship CD “Let Your Healing Flow” with an inspired prophetic song/word from Andre Ashby: “My word is sure, and it will stand forever and evermore. My word is sure and it will not return void unto me, for I am a faithful God and I see your need. And I’m drawing near to you, I’m drawing near to you to touch you, to heal you, to make you whole. My word will stand forever. Come boldly unto me, come boldly to my throne of grace, for my grace is sufficient for all you need. Come boldly unto me, come boldly, for I will prove myself to you, I am a great big God. There’s nothing too hard for me, there’s nothing that I cannot do. I am all you need, and I’m here for you.”

And he’s all I have. I have no power to change my husband’s choices, his stubborn selfishness and hard heart, his rebellion against God, newest betrayal and full-speed-ahead hardened will to divorce. All I have is God’s Word that I have been praying and confessing over communion every morning for the past year. BUT I know that Jesus is the Living Word, that he is his word – who he is IS his Word – that God watches over his Word to perform it:

The LORD said to me, ‘”You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.” Jeremiah 1:12

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth . . . so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55: 10-11

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the LORD more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. Psalm 130: 5-6

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

Almost every moment of every day, as soon as I open my eyes in the morning, I am aware of my complete helplessness to change my circumstances and the heart and mind and will of my beloved husband. BUT I am not falling into the void, even though I feel like it many times. Even though the word some days seems like the thinnest thread I cling to on the edge of a bottomless abyss and I can feel the winds of destruction swirling up from the depths, YET my life is not determined by my husband’s choices, so says my God’s word:

The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. BUT the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Psalm 33: 11

I am God, and there is no other . . . I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. Isaiah 46:10

Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

And the word tells me this much of God’s will for sure: rejoice in the LORD always and in everything give thanks. He promises to be my shield and sword (Genesis 15: 1 and Deuteronomy 33: 29) and he will fight the battle for me (Exodus 14:14 and 2 Chronicles 20: 15,17)

Not much from me, but much from the Word today. All I have to give you is all I have to live, hope, trust and rejoice in: God’s Word is God himself, and he cannot and will not deny it, no matter what my circumstances look like and no matter who wars against me. God is love, his love endures, and the purposes of his heart will bring me victory somehow, some day, some way, for sure.

So I will bless my enemy and pray for the one who bitterly abuses me, because God’s word tells me to, and I know the Spirit will pour out upon my husband every spiritual blessing and weapon against deception from the coals of the altar of Heaven, where Jesus lives as the great high priest to speak and decree and make intercession and send his living word for him, and for me, too.

Does that give you something to cling to? I hope so. My greatest praise to God and the greatest work of my life may just be trusting in his Word and living in the peace, hope and victory it brings, and encouraging some other grieving heart to do the same. Whoever you are, I love you, and I pray for victory for you, too.

A ” . . . BUT . . .” to move: Jesus, all I hear is silence, all I see are closed doors and looming defeat, BUT you are your Word, and you promise to deliver on your Word when I confess it and cling to it. Because I know you don’t lie and you don’t dishonor your Word or your people who believe it, I will hang onto this thread knowing that your Word is stronger and more powerful than hammered steel. I will trust you, even when it doesn’t look like I should, and I will rejoice in all you are. Amen!

You own ” . . . But . . . ” to move: Jesus, I feel desperate, lost, without hope, BUT I trust that you _________________________