Knowing Nothing

cross-and-light

I do not come with eloquence or human wisdom.

This last season has been especially trying for me, very emotional and draining to be honest with you, yet I feel more blessed and awed at the power of God than I perhaps ever have. I see the Lord doing incredible things in the lives of people in our church and even for those who have never even been in these doors, yet have found us on line thru the website, my blog, Facebook, my books— and I feel a little overwhelmed; “Lord, how can I handle this? How can I maintain this? How can I keep bringing it?” Those are the questions that bombard me when I let my guard down and I have to remind myself of this simple truth; I can’t.

Not in my own strength I can’t, not by my own wisdom I can’t, not by myself I can’t. But why am I even in this place, this place of exhausted awe, intermixed with a driving passion to keep going? How am I able to touch lives in ways that bring healing, that brings out things into the daylight that have been hidden away for so long that they have festered into a poison, tainting the very heart of a person, brings them out so that they can be cured. How are we, this little rag tag army in small town Montana able to thwart the plans of the enemy and set hearts and spirits free?

It’s Jesus, it’s all Jesus. One incredible season after another, this last one—I don’t know how to minister to victims of sexual abuse—no clue, yet in the last few weeks we have made tremendous strides in healing long hidden wounds. I have people who have been going to counselors for years, people who are writing books on this topic, telling me that they have been totally transformed and that even the way they look at the healing process has changed, and I say; “Lord, how is this possible?”

How is it possible that I, with no formal education in this, can possibly know what to say? How can I teach these people anything worth their effort to be here? How can I, a simple carpenter by trade, tackle such daunting issues? The gravity of it all can be overwhelming when I think about how much damage I could do if I did it wrong.

My flesh asks the questions but my spirit knows the answers, it’s because the cross is my PHD. In fact, most of the time I don’t even think it’s my words, it is the power behind the words, only the power of the Holy Spirit can touch and heal hearts, only Jesus can set people free, he just needs us to show up and let him move through us. I am just a messenger for another carpenter by trade— the Nazarene.

When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.  For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Cor 2:1,2

And I take great comfort in knowing that I am just one of the vessels of his love in our church. He moves through the preaching of his word but he also moves through the worship, through the way we welcome the stranger and continue to love one another, being honest and open about our problems and our struggles. He moves through us visiting, encouraging and praying for one another.

When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. 1 Cor 14:26

Last week after service Cindy grabbed me—a lot of people were still here visiting as they always do long after service is done— and said; “Shelly would like us to pray for her because she is leaving for India this week to minister to the girls in the brothels of Mumbai”—“Oh, is that all?” —wow.

So, Cindy and I laid hands on her and started praying and soon I realized that it had gotten quiet in the room. I looked up and everyone who was still here, about 15 people, had gathered around, had their hands extended and were also praying.

I actually had to do a little refereeing to make sure everyone got a chance because so many people wanted to pray and give her words of encouragement. Now that’s a church that wants the Holy Spirit to show up, that’s a church that loves one another—that’s a functional family.

We don’t have to be experts, we don’t have to be professionals, and that’s my point. If we are all doing our part, being the church and not just going to church then we don’t need to depend on the experts, we are not burning out leaders by demanding that they fix us.

We must keep Jesus front and center and lean not on our own understanding—As the pastor I must understand, and remember, that all my wisdom comes from Jesus.

I don’t have to be an expert, I don’t have to be a polished professional speaker, I don’t have to spend my nights reading the latest phycology and theological treatises and methods, our worship team doesn’t have to have flashing lights, lasers and smoke machines, we don’t need trained and specially appointed prayer personnel hovering around on the fringes, but what we do have to have, what we absolutely need is Jesus, I, you, we, have to lean on Jesus.

And if it stops working, if lives are no longer being transformed, then I know it’s because it is being done in our own strength. If I preach the most eloquent sermon or people are delightfully entertained but go home unchanged—then it’s time to once again to remind myself that I know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified— because I don’t.

 

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Warriors

 

shield-maidenThis world needs more shield maidens-

In this election cycle we have been hearing a lot about empowering women, particularly since we have a woman running for president. This need to empower women is one of many— “yeah, we need to fix that!”— issues that politicians use to divide us and whip people up into a righteous anger as motivation to hate the other side. And if you don’t agree with whatever social issue the loud voices in the media have decreed is currently out of hand and destroying the fabric of our society there you’re a backward, redneck hater— “so vote for me to prove that you’re not.”

Don’t get nervous, this is not a political messageI do however want to talk about empowering women, something Jesus and the Holy Spirit had done thousands of years ago and continues to do. It is we that are slow to recognize this, especially when it comes to politics. Personally I have no problem whatsoever with women serving in the highest offices—women have been successfully serving and functioning in the role of leaders for all of recorded history and into modern times, and we have indeed finally entrusted many women to serve as governors and senators but for some reason we in America have been slow to entrust a woman to be our president.

We ripped Sarah Palin to shreds 8 years ago, dumped Carly Fiorina a few months ago like a bad habit and are now convinced that Hillary was forced on us like the Castor oil our parents were forced to swallow as children.

We forget about Catherine the Great, Cleopatra of Egypt, Visina, Heid and Vebjorg, shield maidensleaders of Viking armies, Debra, the Judge of Israel, Boadicea- warrior Queen of the ancient Britons, Joan of Arc who led French armies and died a Martyr for saying she was led by God, Amy Semple McPherson, the Founder of the Foursquare Church of which I am a part.

But this is not about politics, this is about the church. Societies traditional attitude about women has largely come from the church.

We can take a few scriptures, like we can on any issue, and use them to relegate women to little more than servants. But we need to look at the whole of Scripture, to look at what Jesus did and taught about women and look at what God has done in his church through and with women. Because I’ll tell you what, if we are not entrusting, equipping and empowering women to be leaders in the church, we are severely limiting the potential of the Kingdom’s work being done on this earth.

And, subjugating women in the church, using scripture to knock women down a peg or two below men, has allowed and enabled men to abuse women, using God to justify very ungodly behavior against women.

Warriors

We don’t need to empower woman— God does that, we just need to get out of the way and let them go, to let them follow where Jesus leads with the gifts and the passions he has given them. Having raised daughters, I have no doubt that they are capable of great things, both in this world and for the Kingdom of God and I raised them to believe that. I did not raise any doormats, I raised warriors for the Kingdom—son in laws beware.

 I see the gifts and talents the Lord has given them—all 4 of them different—and though they are flavored by the fact that they are women and have estrogen rather than testosterone, their gifts are no different than those a man would have. There are not separate lists of Spiritual gifts for men and women.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 1 Cor 12:4

God activates them all in everyone.

Jesus empowered women. The Holy Spirit empowered women, his Spirit was poured out on all flesh— There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female (Gal 3)

Who was the very first person to see Jesus after his resurrection? It wasn’t a coincidence; she didn’t just show up before Jesus had a chance to get out of there and go to the men who were hiding away.

He waited for her in the garden near his tomb, made sure she knew exactly who he was and that he was alive and then told her to go; “Go and tell Peter and the others that I have risen.”Who was the first person to go share the gospel, to share it with the apostles no less? It was Mary Magdalene— a woman— the first warrior for the Kingdom of God.

Jesus never subjugated her, Jesus never limited her, Jesus never disrespected her— nor any other woman. A subjugated woman is a disrespected woman, a powerless woman and the one subjugating her is not acting in love, he is acting in selfishness and pride and is one step away from crushing her spirit and just another step from hurting her physically as well. Why do men hit women? To keep them in their place.

That’s when the barbarian influence on the religious civilized mindset that men are superior to women comes into play and you need to break out the shield maiden that God put into your DNA. Don’t let the maiden part fool you, the shield maidens of the Norse sagas were anything but—they led armies of giant hairy men who gladly followed them into battle, and they won.

All I’m saying is; don’t cow-tow to overbearing and spiteful men and don’t limit your calling because you are a woman, heed the Spirit, follow Jesus. You are loved and you deserve love.

Women don’t get much press in the gospels, other than Luke, but Jesus had many women disciples.

Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources. Luke 8

…and many others. Men, if you are holding your wives and daughters back from following the Lord then you are not being the Spiritual head the Lord has called you to be. Your job is to lead by example, to encourage and bless your charges, to protect and provide—never to hinder or humiliate them.

Bottom Line; This world needs more shield maidens leading God’s armies. Get up, get out —and conquer!

(Art by Raph Lomotan)

 

See Her

woman-with-tear

 

There is an amazing and even startling story in the gospel of Luke (chapter 7:36-50) about a “Sinful Woman” most likely even a prostitute, who crashes a dinner party. She is desperate to find and somehow thank the man who had made her feel human again for the first time in as long as she could remember, the carpenter from Nazareth who was passing through her town.

She brings along her only possession worth anything, a bottle of perfume she had saved up  her illicitly earned money for, but when she arrives she doesn’t know what to do. Everyone is staring and whispering, she doesn’t care, here he is, she starts to sob. Her tears are falling on his feet as he reclines at the table so she does the unthinkable, she gets down and wipes his grimy feet with her own hair and kisses them. —Scandalous.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

Everyone is embarrassed and offended, but not Jesus, and not the woman.

There is something very powerful going on here as she finds herself on the floor intimately washing his feet with her own tears and she now knows what she can do with the perfume, it wasn’t silly after all to lug this bottle along, and suddenly feeling overwhelmed with the love that had compelled her to bring this gift to Jesus, even at the risk of humiliation, she completes the spontaneous act of love by doing something she had never imagined doing for anyone, she willingly kisses his feet.

He has not pulled away in repulsion and she does not want this moment to end, she feels a love welling up in her breast that she has never experienced before. So she lingers face down at his feet, still too ashamed to look him in the eye yet too overwhelmed by her feeling of love to care what anyone else thinks.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?

Jesus turned and looked at the woman, Jesus saw her, he had no doubt seen her before and that is why she was now here. He had seen her as the person she knew in her heart that she was, the person she wanted to be, and that had empowered her to become that person. His seeing her had set her free.

And that is why this scenario playing out before them now is not scandalous at all to Jesus. Jesus is in no way being lecherous and allowing a woman to embarrass him along with all the self-righteous sensibilities of everyone there. Jesus Is not bound by cultural biases, Jesus is not tainted by the perverted carnal lust of the flesh, he doesn’t see with the eyes of generations of fallen man who sexualizes everything possible about the opposite sex. He still sees the beauty and purity of what God had originally created to be beautiful and perfect.

Jesus was seeing this woman with his heart, his heart is pure therefore there is no lust involved. Remember the garden, what Genesis says about Adam and Eve? “they were naked and unashamed?” Man was not created full of selfish lust; we took that on ourselves later. As the perfect man, Jesus was seeing her with a heart of purity, and he could see her heart, she was beautiful, she was loving—she was a person. And now he is challenging Simon to do the same. “Simon, do you see this woman?” Stop looking at her with the eyes of your flesh, with the eyes of judgement and perverted perceptions, stop seeing her with disgust and thinly veiled lust—see her heart!

‘She is doing what she is doing out of love, she is doing what you failed to do because you failed to see who it is here before you, you failed to see me—she has not, and because of that, her many sins are forgiven, she has found peace.’

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

‘She sees me because I saw her.’ – Isn’t that what saving faith is, him knowing me, and I knowing him?

Grace

Jesus tells her: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Now this sends the religious in the room into a tizzy. “Who does he think he is and what has she done to deserve forgiveness!?”

Well, he is God, that’s who. And she has not done anything, really, she has not proved her loyalty, her obedience, she has not submitted or done any penance, she has not even confessed or spoken a word that we know of for that matter—yet she was forgiven, more than forgiven, saved. Because what she did do was show her love and gratitude in the most sincere and honest way she knew how.

She has given up on pretending long ago. We don’t know her story but it’s not hard to guess. It is likely that she was forced into this lifestyle, an adolescent girl who may have been assaulted and left soiled rendering her unfit for marriage in a culture who placed a young girl’s virginity at the top of the list for marriage criteria, as Jesus’ own mother found out. She may have been sold into prostitution by her own parents who valued money more than her. She may have been forced into the companionship business as an indentured servant or even outright slavery in this Roman province, in the Roman Empire if you were not a citizen proper, you were just as likely to be a slave.  She may have even stolen this perfume from her master, more holy irony.

Either way, she felt left with no other options, no one would ever see her again as anything other than a sinful woman. She was just an object to be used for selfish pleasure or to be scorned as beyond redemption and surely deserving of reproach—the more reproach the better—she doesn’t deserve anything more.

Then comes the teacher from Nazareth. He sees her, he sees the scared little girl that has long ago hidden behind the painted eyes and exotic dress of her trade. He sees beyond the mask of lewdness forced through a tincture of stubborn hardness and anger. He sees the pain and humility—he sees the tenderness that has looked desperately for an outlet, for a heart that would return the love she longed to set free—that cried at night when no one was around and she could no longer ignore it; ‘What have I done to deserve this? Why won’t anyone help me, why can’t anyone see the real me?’

“Simon—do you see this woman?”

No doubt this startled the woman, her first instinctual reaction would have been at this point; “No, don’t look at me, I can’t stand the way people look at me!” Jesus changed that.

Who is he asking you to see?

 

Love Protects

Deliver us from fear-16daylovechallengealwaysprotects

It has always considered it my highest purpose in life, driven by my most basic instinct as a man, to make sure my wife and daughters knew, and know, they were safe; to provide for them and instill in them a sense of security, to be their protector. That is also the heart of your Father in heaven. That is why he sent Jesus, and that is why he provides his Holy Spirit and still continues to call out— “follow me. I am perfect love and ‘perfect love casts out fear.'”

My desire is strong but my abilities are sometimes limited, fortunately our God is not limited.

Wally World

The other day I went to Walmart to pick up a prescription and standing in line I remembered a day a few years earlier when I had stopped in to pick one up, a simple stop that turned in to a serious stress for me.

My daughter Jessie had stayed home from school to have her wisdom teeth pulled, I think she was 17 or so. For some reason I didn’t have to work that day so I took her to the dentist while Donna was at work. After the procedure they brought Jessie out to me in the waiting room, still kind of groggy and feeling no pain from the anesthesia. They prescribed some pain meds and I asked if they would call it in for us so I could pick it up on the way home. “Sure, where would you like it filled?” – “Walmart on the west end.”

Big mistake. I put Jessie in the truck and off to Walmart we go. I park and tell her, I’ll be right back. So I go in, stand in line, get to the pharmacist and hear; “oh, we don’t have that ready yet, we haven’t had time to listen to the messages on the phone.” Doing my best to sound patient while the panic and anger was rising in me as I remembered well how much pain I was in after I had had my wisdom teeth pulled and just wanting to get Jessie home safe and sound before the hurt set in on her, I calmly yet determinately explained the situation to the pharmacist.

Okay she said; “but it’ll probably be a half hour or so.” I can’t even begin to explain to you how frustrated, angry and helpless I felt. Like I said, it’s my most basic instinct, as it is for all men who love their families the way they should, to protect those we love from pain. I went back to the truck to explain to Jessie that we would have to wait a bit.

Fortunately, the anesthesia hadn’t worn off yet and she was doing just fine comfortably dozing in the truck. As I was sitting there stewing over my foolishness for choosing the busiest pharmacy in the state of Montana while the minutes ticked by tortuously slow, I noticed a little drama playing out in the parking lot near us. Two young woman appeared to be searching the parking lot, gesturing here and there while looking under cars until one of the ladies finally walked away.

Meanwhile the thirty minutes was finally up and I went back into the store just to find out that it still wasn’t ready. You’re kidding me!  —I’m thinking; —don’t you understand that my little girl is in pain!? “Give us another 20 minutes or so.” Again I went out to the truck, Jessie is still asleep, (apparently I was the only one freaking out)—me and the young lady I had noticed in the parking lot earlier.

She was still searching the ground and looking very distraught. I told Jessie, I better go see what’s going on. So I went over and said; “Can I help you with something?” She said; “Oh yes, thank you so much, my other help gave up. I lost my wedding ring when I was here earlier and I am pretty sure I lost it in the parking lot, I was parked right about here. I have only been married a few months…  I can’t lose that ring!”

So I helped her look, trying to think of all the places a ring might roll to. She had already talked to the store manager and no one had turned one in and she had left her phone number. Anyway, after a thorough search I convinced her that the ring just was not laying around here and tried to assure her that it was the relationship that was important, not the ring, and she had done all she could.

She had seemed to calm down some and was just so grateful that I had stopped to help her. She dried her tears and asked if she could give me a hug and reluctantly left to go home.

I went back into the store and finally, after a few more minutes’ wait, and a sympathetic clerk finally pushing my prescription through, I got to take Jessie home— well over an hour later. The frustrated hero just wanting to take care of my daughter and even a random stranger. I ultimately helped both but not to the extent that I wanted to, if desire and effort account for anything, I guess I did pretty well.

Thots

God doesn’t have that issue; He doesn’t just do pretty well—no one can thwart his plan and he doesn’t fail. And as great as my desire to help and protect is, his is many times greater.

The Lord wants nothing more than to deliver us from fear—hear that—deliver us from fear, to assure us that we are safe, to give us the tools to keep us safe and to recognize the power and the authority we have in him and to know that we have nothing to fear. We never have to doubt his love for us, his desire to deliver us from evil and to heal us from the times when we have fallen prey to that evil.

Jessie never doubted my love and commitment to her security and well-being. For all my anxiety—wanting to make sure she was taken care of and feeling as little pain as possible—Jessie wasn’t worried in the least, she knew she was in a safe place— with her dad.

And I know that the woman who lost her ring, or at least thought she did, was reassured by the kindness and perspective of a friendly stranger, when she left she had been largely delivered from her fear that her ring was just lying in the parking lot—if it was there we would have found it. After quizzing her a little more about when she last had it I suspect she probably found it later at home.

But my point is—and I know that not all of you can relate to a father who really cares about your wellbeing—if I, an imperfect human dad who’s love and desire to protect is but a dim reflection of the heavenly Father’s love for you—then we should not live in fear either. Rest easy knowing that things are being taken care of by someone who not only cares, but has the power to take care of things in a perfect way. You will get out of the parking lot and you will get home safe and sound.

Get safe

What if you are in that parking lot with someone who does not care? If you have been saved from evil, even found new life in Jesus but have fallen again into the clutches of the dead and allowed yourself to be deceived by them into trusting them—Run. If you are not safe, you need to get safe, it is not the will nor the desire of the Lord for you to live in fear or pain, to tolerate or excuse, or to take the blame for someone else’s evil.

You do not deserve to live in pain, you do not deserve to live in fear and if you are now a follower of Jesus—you will recognize that evil just as surely as Jesus did when he confronted the legion of demons who had taken possession of that poor man on the far side of the lake in the Bible story (Mark 8) Remember the story? “What is your name?” The demons could not lie to Jesus and had to admit that there were many of them— “we are legion” please let us go live with the pigs. How pathetic is that?

And that didn’t last long, Jesus arranged a little burial at sea. This wasn’t Jesus’ first rodeo; he knew what to look for. Once we have been victimized, and rescued by the Lord, so do we.

Love always protects…

 

 

 

Quiet the Voices

We are afraid, not because we forget, but because we cannot forget.

 “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said
to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Mark 4

The Illustrationwoman_looking_dejected_1

I was racking my brains trying to come up with a good illustration for my church this week as I was teaching about Jesus calming the storm as the disciples feared for their lives on the Sea of Galilee. I wanted to make the point that we need to let go of the past even if it does not want to let go of us, but most of my experiences pale in light of what I know so many in my church, and what many of you reading this have experienced. Abuse, manipulations, neglect, rape and incest—betrayals by people you love, people who were supposed to protect you or at least love and cherish you— those are by far the worst, especially if there is a sexual component
because then the whole being is affected, body, mind and soul.

The sexual betrayals outstrip them all but they can be overcome as well by the same principle of letting the dead bury the dead (As I talked about last week) and recognizing that you are in a safe place with Jesus, so all of this is relevant no matter what haunts you.

I have told my church many stories of my childhood in the past, and have recounted many in my books as well, so I wanted to look in another direction. There are many things and many people that can call from our pasts and can destroy our present if we allow them to; stealing our peace, stealing our joy, our faith.

It usually takes time to really damage someone’s heart and it can be cumulative. There are the —drip, drip, dripmanipulators that over the long term destroy your soul, your self-worth, your confidence, while at the same time convincing you that you cannot live without them, that you owe them. Then I remembered my former employer—

You can’t come back

Years ago I worked in a welding shop. I started there as a young man of 18 and spent twelve years there. It was a family operation, I was hired by the father and ended up working with and ultimately for his two sons. A very neurotic family, I came to discover, who thought they were superior to most everyone else, especially the oldest Son whom I would end up working for exclusively after he drove his meeker brother to quit.

Anyway, I stuck it out for several years, it was the 80’s and you were lucky to have a job in Billings at the time, and I was young and naïve. I liked the work but it was a real tough place to work. I could tell you story after story and I have told you a few in the past but one that comes to mind that kind of sums up my experience happened on a cold winter day towards the end of my tenure there.

The shop was heated with overhead gas furnaces but, to save money, they just set the thermostats above freezing so the pipes wouldn’t freeze. We had a coal burning stove that we primarily used to heat the place during the day. The problem is, the boss really resented the time we would spend tending the stove to keep it going and he didn’t want to spend much money on coal either.

Every fall he would send one of us to the coal mine in the town of  Round Up, with the old 4-yard dump truck we had, to get a load of coal. $20 dollars’ worth, that was our yearly coal allotment. I know this sounds like a story I stole from A Christmas Carol but I swear it’s true. “Marley, you ingrate, don’t you dare burn more than one lump of coal today! ‘Yes Mr. Scrooge.’”

Anyway, we had some really cold winters in the 80’s and trying to work steel all day was tough when your fingers were frozen and you were always on the verge of hypothermia. One day I was stoking the fire and the boss came into the shop from his nice warm office as I was closing the door to the stove and he stormed over and started berating me for wasting time.

Even though I had been brow beat there for years I still wasn’t always shy about defending myself, something which did not endear me to him much but he depended on me to keep the shop running well so he put up with it. It was hard to keep help when you treated people like they were all idiots and demanded they work massive overtime as well.

Anyway, as I was telling him we couldn’t work if we were all frozen and it only took a minute to throw in another lump of coal, he suddenly reached out and grabbed the collar of my welding leathers and proceeded to yell in my face how he was sick of arguing with me. He was a big dude, actually taller that I am, but honestly, the main thing that was running through my mind was, I should deck him right now—but his other arm was in a sling because he had just had hand surgery so I really didn’t want to go there, and with a wounded hand I knew he couldn’t hit me either.

As soon as he had grabbed me I had instantly reacted by grabbing the wrist of the hand he was holding me with and put an iron worker death grip on it. I was in shock and I’m sure his hand was probably falling asleep but there we stood nose to nose as he finished his rant and I just glared at him.

He let go and left and I went back to work. I don’t think I have ever been so angry. He had been pushing my buttons for years; he delighted in it. But this was over the top. He made a feeble attempt an hour or so later to smooth things over but I was still too angry to care and told him as much.

That was the beginning of the end for me. I started looking for another job. I was getting worried that this place was destroying my soul. I had spent a childhood listening to stepfathers belittle and humiliate me and now I was putting up with it at work.

Long story short, I got a job at Fisher Construction through connections with my new brother in law Charlie and have been grateful to have a job where I am respected and appreciated ever since. I’ll never forget when I told my former boss I was leaving he said; “Okay, but you have to understand that once you leave here you can never come back.”

Boy does that sound like a text book manipulation tactic or what. That’s something a father says to a child, an abusive husband says to a wife, a boyfriend, girlfriend— not an employer— but that’s the way he thought. I mean; I should be see how lucky I am to be there and if I am so foolish as to leave this wonderful place I can never come crawling back.

In my Dreams

The day I walked out the door for the last time was a feeling of freedom and relief I will never forget. But you know what? He was wrong. I have gone back, over and over and over again, in my dreams—nightmares where I am back working there and I don’t want to be there but I cannot leave. It’s like the attack of the zombies, you bury them and say goodbye but they just keep crawling out and coming after you.

But keep burying the dead— leave them behind. I know God got me out of there and he has blessed me with so much, and over the years, and in him, I have renewed the self-esteem the dead spent so much time and effort taking away and I have even gone beyond that and found a peace and security in the Lord whom I know loves me and made me unique, giving me gifts and abilities to do things I love and am passionate about.

He has blessed me beyond anything I deserve and I now know that I am a treasure in his sight and he has surrounded me with people who love me and even appreciate me. He has done so much more than just restore, he has gone way beyond that and taught me how to be the person he created me to be, not the person the voices of the past insisted I was.

It takes time, it takes recognizing who you are in the boat with and that you are now in a safe place. Even in the midst of a storm, if you are with Jesus you are in the safest place you have even been.

I still dream about that shop once in a while but the dreams have changed. I am no longer imprisoned there, I’m just kind of there helping them out of a tough spot and I can leave anytime I want. I have buried the dead but I have also forgiven them.

We can never forget, but we, through the power of Christ, can be free. Keep praying, keep trusting, stay in the boat and keep your eyes on Jesus. God is a God of miracles and can change things in an instant but real long lasting healing takes time, not because you are still bleeding— but because the enduring, nightmare ending, heart healing that prevents those zombies from the past from catching up to you to bring on the heart pain—much of that healing comes from the redemption of your past, not forgetting your past but letting Jesus redeem it, just as he redeemed you.

We do that by using what the enemy intended for harm for the glory of God.

“Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Jesus would say to you now; Fear not for I am with you.