Archive for the ‘Confessions of a Past Life’ Category


We continue our series on deliverance from spiritual bondage

In our trouble, there is hope.145 (2)

Jesus is always waiting for us with open arms. And he finds ways to draw us to himself so we will want to seek what he has for us.

Like the woman we’ve been reading about. First, Jesus spoke to her when others wouldn’t have done so. Next, he offered he something she needed. Water.

Something so simple, but with such depth.

The woman was invited to find out more. And she needed something. So she asked

Where can you get this living water?” (Verse 11)

She wanted to understand who it was that dared speak to her. Her curiosity led her to ask if he was greater than the only thing she knew who had authority, which was Jacob, the patriarch of the Jews. But Jesus is greater than she understood, and what he offered her was more than she could imagine.

Bigger than her expectations.

His offer ignited hope.

Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him, will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’” (verse 13-14)

Initially, I think the woman was simply looking for a practical way to avoid facing the daily shame of going to draw water in public. Maybe she was tired of trying to go there in the heat of the day to evade the crowd.

She didn’t realize that Jesus had so much more for her. Not just a quick fix for the symptoms of her life, but a change of heart, and life with a new beginning.

Nevertheless, she was hooked, and wanted whatever he had.

The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this living water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”(verse 15)

And because she asked, Jesus gave.

He began by revealing the reality of her current life to her. He gave her the chance to confess, repent and allow Him to exchange the brokenness of her life for something new.

Jesus did this by asking her to call her husband. She answered she didn’t have one. She told him part of the truth; he told her the rest of it.

Jesus said to her, ‘You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is quite true.”(verse 17-18)

No condemnation. No judgment.

Jesus simply spoke the truth in love and left it to her to decide what she wanted to do with it. He knew her heart was tired and ashamed, that she longed for something better, but first she had to look at the truth of what her life had become.

Why do we hear the truth spoken in love by God or a dear friend or family member as judgment?

Most of us have been spoken to with that self-righteous finger-pointing attitude. And we’ve have spoken with that accusing tone too. Haven’t we?

But that isn’t Jesus’ heart towards us.

That is Satan’s voice. The wolf after sheep, the prowling lion looking to devour. He is the accuser and condemner who entices us into something, offering it as the answer, the valuable thing, the only way out and then turning on us when we are trapped by it, jabbing us with a jagged finger of judgment.

Is it any wonder we point at others desperately seeking escape?

But God offers us truth as a way out.

It may be painful and feels counter intuitive. But it is where we begin to break free. And Satan loses his grip one clawing finger at a time.

What is the reality of your life? Are you ready to ask Jesus to help you with it?

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Last week we began looking at the story of the woman at the well in Samaria…

Jesus entered an unexpected, undesirable place.

He was tired from his journey and sat down by Jacob’s well. The place was deserted, as the disciples went off in search of something to eat.

I don’t believe this is coincidental.

Jesus could only speak openly with the woman he was about to encounter if she was alone. Her shame would have been too overwhelming. Which is why she probably chose this time, when no one else was around, to go to the most public place in town to draw her water.

She went to draw water, but Jesus was drawing her to Him.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’    John 4:7131 (2)

Okay, I think she might have been a little rattled. I picture her almost defiantly answering Him. In her shame, she felt the need to be on the defensive.

The Samaritan woman said to Him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’” (verse 9)

She asked “How can you ask me for a drink?” Obviously she was surprised that a Jew would speak to her, and the fact that she was a woman was an issue as well. Nice Jewish men didn’t hang out talking to Samaritan women at the local watering place.

I think maybe she wondered how He was allowed by his “laws” to speak to her. Otherwise, she might have asked why He would, but instead she asked how He could.

Jesus was gentle in His response.

He answered,

If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” (verse 10)

We don’t ask for what we aren’t aware of.

She didn’t know that God’s gift was forgiveness for her sins and eternal life. She didn’t recognize Jesus. All she knew was her pain. When we are in pain and shame, we often can’t comprehend that Jesus is reaching out to help us even if we have been calling for him. Sometimes, like the woman, we wonder how He can even speak to us.

Our broken life doesn’t disqualify us from God.

It is the very thing that can drive us to him, if we let it. It is what he longs to restore and make right. If we’ll let him.

Can you feel a glimpse of his love for you?

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Until we can come face to face with the deepest, darkest fact of life without damaging our view of God’s character, we do not yet know Him.                            Oswald Chambers

For most of my previously married years, I saw my marriage as the biggest problem with my life. It’s true, it wasn’t good. I longed to be free from the daily stress of emotional and sexual abuse. But while marriage was a nightmare, it wasn’t my main problem.

God wanted to set me free from so much more than a broken marriage.

My life had been dictated by guilt, fear, shame, pride, and wrong perceptions of God, myself and others. Those were the things entangling me and causing me pain.

How did I get there?

Compromise. 

While some compromise (sharing and rearranging ideas in order to come to an acceptable solution) is good,  another definition of compromise is

to expose or make vulnerable to danger, suspicion, scandal, etc.; jeopardize     (dictionary.com)

As a molested child, my life was compromised. And I learned from then on to continue life in compromise, allowing things I didn’t want, to dictate how I lived each day. I accepted a lower standard that was not safe or good.

Living in compromise clouds our vision of who God is.259

I made choices that led to destruction even while I was seeking God, because I didn’t understand God. My perceptions were based on an emotional filter that hung over my life like gauze, clouding what I saw, and giving me an entirely different view without any clarity. Like being in a house of mirrors, my thinking and emotions were distorted. Thus everything in the world around me was as well.

Compromise makes God become to us only what we think we need based on what we think we want.

We can’t see what we truly need that is actually something better than what we want. And our growth is stunted when we seek God on our own terms. It leaves us frustrated with God, thinking that He doesn’t hear us, or purposely won’t answer.

We may believe He is harsh or angry with us.

In this stuck place, we can’t move ahead, but keep returning to the same places over and over wondering why nothing changes for us.

Ironically, it is only as we step out in faith and obey God that we see the truth. Only then can He can lead us into areas of growth and healing. God is faithful to care for us regardless of our circumstances, but in the beginning all we can see is the life we’ve created, surrounding us like a dungeon wall. There seems to be no escape.

God longs to free us. He always has a way out.

For the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at a story from the Bible that moves my heart. Every time I read it. And I continue to receive healing from a new perspective of it every time. We see from this story in John, chapter four, the great love and escape God has for us.

The story of the woman at the well in Samaria shows the process of how God untangles us from the entrapment of our choices, reveals the truth of who He is, and enables us to share our experience with others to set them free as well.

This is a story of the deepest love and compassion of Christ for the most shamed of women. It is a story of the faithfulness of God, the forgiveness of Christ and the joy of new life.

If we want to see the truth about God, then we first must be willing to see the truth about our lives.

Are we willing?

Jesus was returning to Galilee and “…had to go through Samaria,” it says in the fourth verse of John 4. I want to point out that He could have skirted around Samaria as most Jews would have done at that time. The Samaritans were not a highly thought of people. Maybe that is why Jesus had to go there. For the sake of the banished woman and the outcasts of the town.

His great love compelled him to go into places others wouldn’t.

What place are you in that you need Jesus to visit? He will if you ask him. It doesn’t matter where…

A drug house? Jail? The local bar? Isolation in your home? The hospital? An affair? Mental illness, alcoholism or a food addiction?

Maybe it is a secret area no one knows about. A stash of candy or pornography. Or perhaps it’s something outwardly “acceptable,” but you know deep down it might be an issue – like a television program or social media site you can’t walk away from. Anything that dictates our thoughts, time, energy or money is a stuck place of compromise and skewed perspective.

Next week we’ll continue, but for now, let’s ask ourselves to be honest. And let’s ask Jesus to open our eyes to him and the truth that will set us free.

He promises that “…the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32b

 

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I’ve read a lot about religion lately.IMG_3527

The other day I remembered an orange button that adorned my leather purse when I was about sixteen. It claimed something like this:

Jesus is about relationship, not religion.

I recall when I saw it in a gift shop at youth camp, the concept grabbed my heart. It encompassed what I had been learning as a youth reading my Bible. Primarily the book of John, which I felt portrayed Jesus’ love for me the best because it was written by Jesus’ best friend on earth. I longed to spend time with my new friend and live in a way that made him proud of me. I didn’t get that his life for mine really meant just that. His blood covered over my sin. There was nothing I had do about it except accept it and be grateful.

But I grew up in an age of religion. Big time.

Right and wrong were about being right, and therefore someone else being wrong. Being right meant someone else had to be wrong. Good guys and bad guys. Church goers and “heathens.” Oh, I knew what the Bible said about grace and all that, but it also had plenty to say about not sinning. I took that to mean that the less I sinned, the more right I was. Which naturally meant other people who sinned more than me were wrong. Wasn’t that the standard?

No, that’s just plain dangerous thinking.

Does that mean I learned not to sin? Nope. I was pretty messed up and did a lot of foolish things based on my messed up perspective and my rebellion. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to get it right. Fighting to be right left me frustrated and hurt others as well as myself. Until I learned the simplicity of repentance. That coming clean about my stuff, all of it, with complete honesty to Jesus and those I hurt is the only way to freedom. But that’s not religion.

When God created people, he wasn’t starting a religion.

He wanted a relationship with us. And each other in the same way he, in three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), enjoys relationship in heaven. He is love, therefore he longs for us to love him and others. He even tells us that those are the greatest commandments. Makes sense that if we recognize his love for us and love him in return, he will give us the ability to love everyone he created.

His ultimate showing of his love was to come to us, giving himself up as a sacrifice to make a way for us to still be in relationship with him even when we choose to sin – to cut him and others off. Because let’s be honest; we’ve all had thoughts of wanting to do harm to someone at some point in our lives even if we haven’t actually followed through with it. And at some point, haven’t we all decided that our ways or plans were better than God’s?

On that basis, we need God’s love and forgiveness in order to have a right kind of relationship with him and with others.

The problem with religion, whether it’s Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism or Mormonism (name any you want here), is they are all man’s way of trying to get to God when God already made a way for us to be in a relationship with him through Jesus. Even as Christians or followers of Christ, we can cling to our particular denomination and its traditions rather than the sacrifice Jesus made for us.

But we don’t need to figure out a way to make ourselves right.

God did that for us. So all of our rituals whether they be worshiping a particular way or bowing down the right number of times or wearing a specific outfit do nothing to create a relationship with the creator of us and our world. We miss the point if we focus on those things. We miss loving God and each other. Especially when we insist that our way is the right way. Jesus said that he is the way. He is the truth. He is how we live rightly loving one another. And he is the only one who gave the ultimate example and lived again to prove it.

If we chose a relationship over religion, how would that change the way we live?

 

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How many of us really know who we are?

Most of us have been shaped by words spoken to us in anger or impatience or from another person’s broken perspective. Who of us didn’t have some kid or kids at school tell us we were stupid, lame, ugly, fat or unwanted for some reason. I know I did. Repeatedly. Statistics show that most children have also suffered from the criticisms, insults and abusive words flung at by overwhelmed, scared or generally messed up parents (aren’t we all?). Many of us have felt the abandonment or rejection divorce brings. Four out of five have been exposed to some type of sexual abuse.

Is is any wonder we struggle to understand who we are?

God created us with a specific design and plan for our life. (Yes, even you.) He delights in the unique personality that makes us, well – us. He knows every nuance, every tilt of our head, all the abilities we possess and what makes us smile. And he loves it when we exhibit those traits. No wonder Satan, the enemy of God and us, whispers lies, uses the wounds others have pressed on us, and creates circumstances to distort the beautiful creation of God that we each are.

But how do we find out who we are and become ourselves again?becomingmyselfbookcover

In her most recent book, Becoming Myself: Embracing God’s Dream of You, Stasi Eldredge shows us how. Becoming Myself takes us straight to the throne of Jesus where we are loved, delighted in and encouraged. As we read, we are transformed by the renewing of our thoughts about ourselves, our God, our relationships and our world. With intimately honest stories that come from the depths of her heart, Stasi reveals how we can see ours more  clearly. While her primary audience is women, every person needs what God shares through Stasi in this book. It tops my “must read” list of books. It’s not only enjoyable and entertaining, it is a life-changing read.

 

In what ways have you lost yourself? How have you learned who you were truly meant to be?

 

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I just finished a great book.

Not only did the riveting writing make it a great read, but the impact of the message kept me wanting more. I had a hard time putting it down. The characters drew me in as if I were making new friends, and I cared about their struggles. The author did a fabulous job of giving just enough plot sprinkled with back story to make me feel like I was reading a mystery. But there’s nothing mysterious about the truth presented. We are created in the image of God.

The unfolding story subtly gripped my heart.

The next thing I knew, tears were falling. Especially when I came to these excerpts:

He hasn’t treated me with respect. He wanted to use me for his own purposes. He wasn’t interested in what’s best for me. I can forgive him for that, but I don’t have to be in relationship with him. I don’t want to let him treat me, one of God’s creations, like that.

And…

All those things she said…they came from hurt. Deep, piercing pain. And I was never strong enough to stand against the power of that pain when it came out in her words.

Read it for yourself and see how it speaks to you.  Invisible

Thanks, Ginny. I have a feeling you wrote out of a place of your own pain. God’s using you to heal.

What is a book that has changed your perspective of yourself?

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I’ve never re-posted a blog post before.

But this post encouraged me and reminded me of the past I left behind. It also gave me something to think about in terms of my current relationships and whether I am living in a healthy way. I felt it valuable enough to pass on.

Thank you to Diana for allowing me to re-post. If you’d rather read the post on Diana’s blog (where you can see her great graphics) click here.

3 Ways to Stop Worshiping the Abuser

November 5, 2013 By

I remember a story my mom always used to tell me.  She said,” Diana, how do you boil a frog?” I said, ” I don’t know.” She said, “A little at a time.”

You see when we put the frog in the water it was cold water. It wasn’t hot, no reason to jump out.  That’s what an abusive relationship starts out as – a cold pot of water. Then, after a time, the abuser lights the stove.  His behavior starts to change.  This may be accentuated with alcohol or drugs. Then the water starts to boil, as his actions become more and more controlling.  First he doesn’t want you to see your friends. Then he cuts you off from the family for some reason or another.  Then he won’t let you work.  Then he takes away the car, and the money.  And the water is so hot by then you can’t even imagine getting out.  So you don’t even try.

By this time, you are afraid when the sun goes down. You are constantly on edge trying to please “His Highness”. Anything to avoid a fight.  Especially when you have small children.  He says he wants the house clean and dinner ready by the time he gets home.  So you do exactly as you are told.  You tell yourself to “be the good wife” and not rock the boat.  You pick up after the kids all day, have the house clean, and a great dinner – but then he doesn’t come home. Until after 2am.  You pace around all night, scream at the kids because you are so angry, and finally get them to sleep.  You try calling his phone – but he turns it off.  So you wait.  Your whole world revolves around what he does and how you can please him.  He has become your God.  You would do anything for him.  As he walks all over you and squashes you like a bug.

Welcome to Abusive Relationship Training 101  This is not normal.  This is not healthy.  This is not a pattern you want to teach your children.  Real love doesn’t look like this.

Here are some ideas on how to start to change YOUR MIND.  What HE does is not the focus of this article.

We cannot control what the Abuser does,

but WE CAN CONTROL OUR REACTION TO IT!

worship (verb)

  1.  to honor or respect (someone or something) as a god
  2. to show respect and love for God or for a god especially by praying, having religious services, etc.
  3. to love or honor (someone or something) very much or too much

Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worship

3 Ways to Stop Worshiping the Abuser:

1.  Admit that you have put him on a pedestal

Yes, we did. We think we are trying to keep the peace, but in all reality there is no peace.  A relationship like this thrives on chaos and confusion.  The fights become more frequent and more intense as the relationship goes on.  The first step in changing this picture is to stop worshiping the ground he walks on.  He is not God.

This may be difficult as many victims have an idealized picture of what the relationship looks like.  Victims tend to idolize the “honeymoon phase” and ignore the “big blow out” phase.  We lie to ourselves.  If we told ourselves the truth, then we would have to DO something. This was one of the hardest things for me.  I knew how to live as the victim.  If I stayed the victim, then in my mind,  I always had someone to blame.

Taking back my thoughts was step one of my healing.  I didn’t have to worship him.  It was not my job to change him.  He was not who I thought he was, and that was the truth.  And I was not myself either.

2. Admit that even though he thinks he is GOD, he is not.

Another step to healing was to admit to myself that my thoughts could be different from his.  And I didn’t have to prove them to anyone.  I have my own thoughts and feelings. God gave them to ME when He made me.  The Abuser was great at telling me how I should feel, what I should look like, what I should do.  I gave my power away.  I gave my thoughts and dreams away to him.

No more.  I gave myself permission to think differently. Just because he said something, didn’t mean it was true.  I  gave myself permission to seek out my own truth, and ‘own’ my own feelings.  And I didn’t even have to tell him.  Talk about freedom!

One of the things I learned to say after years of therapy/spiritual counsel was, “I am sorry YOU feel that way.”  That helped me divide my feelings from that of my abuser.  It was liberating, it was awesome, and he hated it.  Be prepared at this point for the fights to increase.  Any sign of ‘unsubmission’ may irritate the abuser more.  Be prepared to walk away.  Have an action plan, and a safe house to go to at this stage.

3. Develop your own Spiritual Plan of Action and Worship

The last step that I did to de-throne the “king” was to develop healthy relationships with other people.  I chose to go to therapy and seek Spiritual Counsel.  I asked the abuser to go with me.  He did for a time, until he got thrown out of the office!  Yep, more than one counselor, and more than one time.  Then we started to go to church.  We would go together until we met with the Pastor.  I have had 3 different Pastors from 3 different churches tell me that I needed to leave.  That the abuser was not interested in change.  I left the abuser 7 different times in 8 years.  The last time was Oct 2004, and I haven’t gone back.  My kids and I got out, and with the help of the local YWCA Shelter, we started our new life.  I am not a frog, and neither are my children!

Now I am not a counselor, although I have been a patient.  I am not a Pastor, although I have been a follower for many years now. Having other people in my life that taught me about who GOD really was opened my eyes to who I had been worshiping all these years – the abuser!

 

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