Sunday, October 21, 2012

Collateral Healing

     Each week when I'm deciding which topic to discuss, I think "well, maybe this week we can focus on something lighthearted."...I'm beginning to realize that that just doesn't seem to be the way I "roll." As much as I would love to speak of pleasant things, I seem to always have some sort of burden on my heart that seems too important not to write about and this week is no different.
     Today I feel led to discuss the emotional pain we experience in our lives. It is something we all have in common. It gets our full attention and our first instinct seems to be focused on how to relieve it. It tends to strip us down to our bare soul, which is one reason I believe God allows it. Yet in the midst of such raw emotion can come great clarity or great calamity.
     When we focus solely on relieving our pain we can make harmful decisions that will affect us and those around us for a very long time. That is where great calamity can come in. One of the ways we tend to do that is deny it's existence.
     When we do not address it, then consequences are sure to follow. Some of the consequences we face if that happens is that we become angry, resentful, bitter, it stunts our spiritual growth, we become prideful and we start building walls up trying to protect ourselves from further pain.When we focus solely on self-protection intimacy is damaged in our relationships with others. Calamity.
     Restlessness (lack of peace) results as well when we continue to deny our pain and all of these consequences of  that denial lead to an opening for sin to enter into our lives. This all results in damaged relationships with our God and with others. Calamity.
     Ultimately denial of  deep emotional pain can result in suicide. The enemy of our souls likes nothing better than when that happens. From my own personal experience I learned that people do not want to die, they just want the deep pain that they feel swallowed up by to stop. When a person gets to that point they feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the pain and have lost all hope then immediate intervention is needed. Calamity.
     It was only through the intervention of my husband and subsequent treatment that I am alive today. I learned during that time that God was bigger than my insurmountable pain. I had forgotten that He breathed the universe into existence. I had forgotten that He loved me enough to die for me. I had forgotten that He said He would never leave me nor forsake me. Calamity.
     Once I realized He was not only able but willing to rescue me I had hope once again and my healing journey began to take place. My whole testimony regarding that experience is in my first post titled "The Hand of God."  
  One last very sad consequence I would like to mention in regard to buried pain in our lives is that we tend to start viewing ourselves as victims. When a person starts down that path, destruction soon will follow. Not unlike the path left after a tornado, a victim always makes sure that their "path" is strewn with destruction. The collateral damage is all around them and the "friendly fire" if you will is what results along with an attitude of entitlement. Calamity.
     Pain defined is this:  Penalty, punishment (Greek - poine, penalty, fine: see penal) ex. - Penal code for prisoners... (Irony)?  Penal Code defined: A body of law dealing with various crimes or offenses and their legal panalties.
     When someone violates a love relationship, pain results which results in a penal code of sorts being triggered. We even use the terms "offender" and "offended." Why do we use these terms? A crime has been committed against us. So, in a sense we become a "prisoner of war" because of the pain in our lives. To quote my Pastor "Unforgiveness becomes a poison we drink and wait for the other person to die." We in essence become a prisoner of our own making. Calamity.
     The key that unlocks those "prison bars" is forgiveness. The road to healing is a process and it is only through God's grace and in His strength that we can accomplish it. The freedom that comes when those "bars" break open are worth every bit of suffering we experience. The clarity I spoke of earlier now begins!
     The awesome thing about God is that if we choose to obey and forgive He sets in motion His own set of "consequences" if you will. Just like the snowball effect of unresolved pain that leads to collateral damage God causes collateral healing to take place when we seek His healing. It is an amazing thing and something only God can do. Only God can accomplish it because only God can change a heart. Clarity.
     We talked last week how God has the power to turn a heart of stone into a heart of flesh Ezekiel 36:26 NKJV. He is able because nothing is impossible with Him  Luke 1:37 NKJV. Clarity.
     Corrie Ten Boom is a beautiful example of forgiveness. I urge you to read the story of her account of  being a Holocaust survivor and coming face to face with one of the guards from the Ravensbruck concentration camp  that had held her captive. She describes how God gave her the grace to extend forgiveness to her former captor. It makes any act of forgiveness on my part seem very small. I hope it is an inspiration to us all to always be willing to forgive. Clarity.
     One of my favorite quotes from Corrie Ten Boom is this "When you are covered by His wings, it can get pretty dark." She knew this from experience. We tend to think that God has "left the building" so to speak when we are in the midst of our pain and suffering. Quite the contrary. He is there. He was there for Corrie and He is there for us. We just have to seek Him and He will make Himself known to us. His presence and His glory! Clarity.
     I know our discussion has been focused on the pain we may be enduring at the hands of someone else, but pain is pain and no matter the source, God is always there with His love and comfort to guide us into healing. With His healing comes clarity because His truth begins to be revealed to us as we begin the process of letting go of our pain and turning it over to Him. To quote Tenth Avenue North in their song The Healing Begins "Sparks will fly when grace collides with the dark inside of us!" Clarity.
     His presence and His glory! I would like to take a quote from Beth Moore which says this, "The goal of life is not the absence of pain. It is the presence of God and the glory of God. When He can work glory without pain, He does. When He can't, it's going to hurt."
     One last thought, Songbirds. Collateral healing brings with it's own "consequences" such as joy, peace, reconciliation. It brings hope and restoration where there was once despair and darkness. It breaks the chains of sins passed down from generation to generation in families. Clarity.
     Most importantly it reveals that if we are a child of God then we are victors not victims. Victors have a humble attitude because they realize their victory is only through Christ unlike victims who have an attitude of entitlement that stems from a heart that has been hardened by unresolved pain. We may be victimized in our lives, but that is NOT our identity. We are freed from the bondage that unresolved pain can place us in. The reason for that is all because of Christ who knew no sin, who bore our sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him 2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV! Clarity.
     My prayer and and my song for us today is that we look to Christ as our ultimate example of how to resolve the pain in our lives. He endured the pain of the cross on our behalf. He was there, He is there and He always will be there. His presence and His glory. Clarity.
     The song  It is titled You Were There by Avalon illustrates the constant presence of our Lord beautifully.

He would rather die than leave us in the dark. Hebrews 4:14-16 NKJV  Clarity. Collateral healing. Amen.


Sunday, October 14, 2012


     If I had to pick one movie to be my favorite of all time, it would have to be To Kill a Mockingbird. I know I am aging myself since it came out in 1962...but at my age that doesn't seem to matter anymore! ha!
     I guess I love this movie so much because it has so many life lessons in it. Lessons I carry with me to this day. Lessons regarding dignity and integrity and compassion. Life can be hard, as we all know. We don't stop wrestling with it just because we "grow up."
     There is a scene in the movie where the neighbor lady, Miss Maudie Atkinson is trying to help Jem, the young son in the movie understand why his dad, Atticus Finch is defending  Tom Robinson. She says, "I don't know if it will help saying this to you... some men in this world are born to do our unpleasant jobs for us... your father is one of them." 
      I want to pose this thought to you; An Atticus Finch is inside of all of us and is just waiting to be brought out. And if so, wouldn't that be grand!? I am naive enough to think it is possible.
     There is another scene in the movie that I would like to point out  with this quote;  "That boy is your company. And if he wants to eat up that tablecloth, you let him, you hear? And if you can't act fit to eat like folks, you can just set here and eat in the kitchen" This is a quote by Calpurnia, she was the family cook and took care of Jem and Scout and taught them many life lessons as well.
     The boy Calpurnia is referring to had requested syrup and had started pouring it all over his dinner and Scout started chiding him about it. The boy then stopped eating and felt ashamed for what he had done. I bring this scene up because even though this was a small boy and a seemingly insignificant incident, it was still about DIGNITY.
     Whether we are in the position of someone like Atticus or Calpurnia, no matter. One of my many favorite stories in the Bible is found in Luke 7:36-47 NKJ. The verse that especially speaks to me is found in vs. 47; "Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
     From the realization of the sacrifice made on our behalf comes an overflow of gratitude and thanksgiving. This attitude affects all the relationships around us. It is a "heart" condition. We once had a heart of stone and the Great Physician replaced it with a heart of flesh Ezekiel 36:26 NKJ. If you are a believer, you have been given a "heart transplant!"  I think this qualifies you and I as a possible Atticus or Calpurnia! 
     Life can be hard and people can be hard to love (just ask my husband)! BUT GOD has made a way for us to extend His love to others through His Son. Love isn't always pretty and doesn't always give us a "warm fuzzy" feeling. It can masquerade itself as an "unpleasant job" as described in the movie. 
     The reality is that love sometimes requires making tough choices and confronting issues we would just as soon not deal with, but that is where integrity is born. Sometimes it requires us to become an Atticus Finch or a Calpurnia...something or someone has to become more important than our fear of loving before we can love the way He loves us 1 John 4:18 NKJ. We can do it. God has made a way. How can we do any less?  Courageous by  Casting Crowns is my prayer and my song for us today:

 Micah 6:8 NKJ
 He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?



Thursday, October 4, 2012

First Pick!

     I want to start out this post with a video from Dave Busby. He was an evangelist who would come and speak to a previous church we attended during the 1990's. I spoke of him in my previous post titled "To Live Is Christ". To refresh your memories, he suffered with Cystic Fibrosis, Polio, liver disease, heart disease and Diabetes, yet he turned his suffering into a catalyst to glorify the Lord. He died in December of 1997 in his mid forties.
     His speaking style is as passionate as he was. You will find it poignant yet with a splash of humor thrown in and I believe he is able to communicate to you better than I ever could hope to on the subject of being wanted...

     Wanted, that's us! Chosen by God to be His sons and daughters, first pick! WOW.  How about you? Has it sunk in just how much YOU are loved and wanted? Romans 8:28-39 NKJ.  When we experience this kind of love it is hard to keep to ourselves. It affects every relationship we have. It affects the church body as a whole. 
     Just think how churches are affected when they are filled with believers who have a passion such as Dave's to express the Lord's love for His people. I am naive enough to think that even though this may not be reflected in a majority of our churches could be! 
     Dave Busby was just one man, yet even after his death his passion lives on. We don't have to "settle"! We are the sons and daughters of the Most High God. We were called out and chosen. It was God's initiative, not ours that we came to know Him as our personal Savior! John 6:44 NKJ. Amazing! "We" are the Body of Christ. 
      Do you attend a local body of believers? If so, are you satisfied with the atmosphere at your church? That do you think it would take to change either (or both) of those if they are negative answers? We can't give up! If we love God, and if we have been "affected" by His love for us then it is only logical that we will love His church. 
     My prayer for us today is that we never let the fact that we are wanted and chosen by God stop affecting us. We need each other Hebrews 10:19-25 NKJ. That person sitting next to you in church may need to experience "Jesus with skin on" as one of our former pastors used to say. You may be the one person God can use to talk them back from the ledge of life. I know. I've experienced both sides.
      God is still in the business of saving and healing souls and He chooses to use His children many times to accomplish His will...are we willing to obey? His church is hurting because it is full of hurting people, people He died for who may be "running a hundred miles an the wrong direction"...or "may be going down today" as referenced in the song by Casting Crowns song titled Does Anybody Hear Her?; It is my song for us all...
     You may be the one "running in the wrong direction". My word to you is...please don't give up either! Truth is that we are all in the same boat. There are seasons when we are the one "running" and then seasons when we can be the one extending the "hope that's tucked away in you and me" to someone else.

"He is running"...