Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Lie Believed

God really quite clearly put the message for this week on my heart. It is amazing how He works. And when we take the time to piece the puzzle together, quite often a beautiful image has formed from the jagged parts.

Most are familiar with the well-known Christian author Karen Kingsbury. While perusing the library bookshelves, I found her stash. And wouldn't you know it, just at that moment my husband and son were next to me and ready to go. I just gabbed two books, quite randomly, or so I thought. One of them was entitled Shades of Blue. Little did I know that it was a post-abortion story of redemption, acceptance, healing, forgiveness and love. As Mrs. Kingsbury's website says about the book, "Three people must work through the repercussions of a decision made long ago before any of them can look toward a new future."

Yes, even as much as we stuff and hide and pretend, the fact that we had an abortion is still there. It clings to the very network of vessels that run throughout our bodies. The trauma, the pain, the guilt, the sadness, the shame, the fear, all of it, it is still within us. Oh yes, some do a better job of looking good on the outside than others. Some can pretend so well. But pretending isn't what Jesus calls us to do. Friends, there is healing and wholeness in Him.

I devoured the book in one day and night. I knew Mrs. Kingsbury would weave a cloth of healing for all involved. She does that sort of thing with her characters. What I liked from the book is that she made the memories so heartbreakingly real that I didn't dare set the book down. I am healed. I am free. So in reading the story, I was only that frightened and confused teenager for a minute. Because Jesus is way bigger than my mistakes and my pain and my regret, I was able to read it through. And in doing so, I realized once again how many women (and men) are suffering in silent agony. Bumping shoulders in the check-out line, but not sharing broken hearts at church. Hiding. We are good at that.

Then this morning I looked back at my journal entry from one year ago today. I wrote of how God was speaking to me to do something with my post-abortion healing. I wrote about following God's will in the endeavor to lead others to the cross too. And at the bottom of the page I wrote

an idol can be a lie believed

Ouch. I remember that. How that truth pierced my heart back then. And how it pierces my heart again today. It is easy to say we don't have idols. Yeah, especially us church-going, Bible-study attending women. Me? Not me. Even if one of the more commonly recognised things of today (like money or shopping or your home or your wardrobe or any number of things) is not an idol in your life, there are other not-so-talked-about things can creep into that spotlight.

Things like believing you do not need God's mercy and grace.

Things like believing no one will understand.

Things like believing you are the only one.

Things like believing you are meant to suffer alone.

Things like believing your sin is too big.

On second thought, do you have any idols?

God kept putting this message on my heart... After reading last year's journal entry, I flipped to my reading for today.

Mark 7

Defilement Comes from Within

Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.

Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?”
(7:1-5 NKJV)

-> Religious leaders were very busy looking holy. They focused on outward appearances, rather than honoring God.

He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:

‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

--> As the Life Application Study version of my New King James Version Bible says in regard to this reading, hypocrisy is "pretending to be something you are not and have no intention of being.

It goes on to say that "we become hypocrites when we pay more attention to reputation than to character."

Friends, are you a hypocrite? I was. Although I didn't purposefully and intentionally sit there in my pew condemning those who had suffered abortions, I condemned myself. I thought I was not worthy of healing. I thought I was unforgivable. In all, I thought too lowly of myself. I became a backward hypocrite. A hypocrite nonetheless.

I had placed my (mistaken) unworthiness above the love of Jesus. A lie (or a bunch of them) believed had indeed become my idol.

When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?”

--> Also stated in those wonderful study notes regarding this passage Jesus explains how "sin begins in the attitude of the inner person."

I wreaked of that sin. The aroma of that sin, of believing I was unworthy, was a rotten stench. It wafted into every nook and cranny of my life. Now, in hindsight, I can see how it tainted my relationship with my husband. I can see how the stink lingered on my clothes, how I took it with me wherever I went. To town, to the grocery store, to church. I filtered what other people said through that sieve of lies. Friends, that is not a good thing to do. Everything comes out a bigger mess.

From there He arose and went to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And He entered a house and wanted no one to know it, but He could not be hidden. For a woman whose young daughter had an unclean spirit heard about Him, and she came and fell at His feet. The woman was a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by birth, and she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. But Jesus said to her, “Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”

And she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs.”

Then He said to her, “For this saying go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter.”

And when she had come to her house, she found the demon gone out, and her daughter lying on the bed.

--> Friends, just like this woman, come to Jesus! Come as you are. Fall at His feet. She compared herself to the little house dogs that were pets of that day. She said she was willing to eat from not the crumbs, but the children's crumbs that fell to the floor. The crumbs that the little doggies ate.

Be that woman!

She not only believed that if she just got a tiny morsel of what Jesus offered, her daughter would be healed, but she humbled herself. She likened herself to a dog. No, I don't think she did it in a negative way. I can only imagine that she was glad to be in Jesus' presence. That she was so filled with faith that she only desired an itty-bitty piece of His healing.

Friends. God clearly spoke to me over the last couple of days. And He put you, yes you, front and center on my heart. Don't pretend things are okay with your heart and mind. Whether or not you suffer from having had an abortion, chances are high that you believe some lie. Chances are that you have made an idol out of that lie. And unfortunately you may have made a hypocrite of yourself in the process.

Don't stop looking for crumbs. In fact, get out from under the table. Pull up a chair. Sit next to me. And let us look to the head of the table at the seat reserved for our Healer. Our God. Just ask. I know He will pass you a gigantic heaping of healing and renewing.

Just like the characters in Shades of Blue, you also will find clarity and Truth at the foot of the cross.

Let us humbly pray:
Lord God, help us this day to put none before You. If there are idols in our lives, even though they may be unintentional and unrecognized, help us to see them for what they are. Lord replace lies with Truth. You are the ultimate Healer. Don't let undiagnosed hypocrisy ruin who you want us to be in You. Father, just as this book and Your Words in Mark spoke clear to me over the last couple of days, use something to speak clear to other women and men who are haunted by their past. Please bring them to a place of healing and renewing. In Jesus' name, amen.

Do consider reading the book I spoke of in today's post. It is an insightful and tender look at how abortion torments not only women, but men. Girls and boys. Mrs. Kingsbury shares a personal story in the post script that demonstrates how each of us (even if we haven't personally suffered the trauma) has the capacity to influence those who wrongly think abortion is their only option.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Hands of Faith, Knees of Prayer

This verse is God's word of encouragement
to us
to lift the hands of faith
to fortify the knees of prayer.

Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down,
and the feeble knees;
And make straight paths for your feet,
lest that which is lame be turned out of the way;
but let it rather be healed.

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down,
and the feeble knees,
and make straight paths for your feet,
so that what is lame may not be dislocated,
but rather be healed.


So don't sit around on your hands!

No more dragging your feet!

Clear the path for long-distance runners

so no one will trip and fall,

so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle.

Help each other out.

And run for it!


So take a new grip with your tired hands

and strengthen your weak knees.

Mark out a straight path for your feet

so that those who are weak and lame

will not fall but become strong.


Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms

and weak knees.

"Make level paths for your feet,"

so that the lame may not be disabled,

but rather healed.

No matter which version of the Bible you fancy,
they all say the same thing:

God says, "Lift up the hands that hang down."

Do not allow your feet to be "turned out of the way,"

but let your body "be healed,"

and your faith strengthened.

Friends, can you believe what God does for us?! I mean, really? Ain't it something to be His child? As we near Father's Day, let us not forget to thank and honor the most High Father we know. And if you don't have a personal relationship with The Man yet, may I encourage you to start one today. He has changed my life. He has given me Life. Real Life!

This post today was a result of my devotional reading in Streams in the Desert. Whenever I read the first half of Hebrews 12, generally I focus on running the race at the beginning and the peaceable portion near the center, but today, I found this tid-bit tuck in between those two.

Amen. Amen, sister. So, what are you waiting for?

May I take this moment to encourage you to join this study with my dear sister in Christ, Jennifer (and her friend Lelia)? You will not be the same once you Surrender the Secret.

And ladies, that is indeed a good thing. In fact, it is the best gift you can give your Father in Heaven for Dad's Day!

Let us humbly pray:

Father God, give us all that we need this day to lift our hands to you, both in a longing for healing and a sign of praise for what you promise. Turn our feet to trod upon Your path. Heal our hearts. Renew our minds. Strengthen us as we raise up and kneel down. In Jesus' name, amen.

* Quotes above from Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings by L.B. Cowman, edited by Jim Reimann; p. 227-238, June 18 entry

~ Friends, I would like to share another ministry with you. And in doing so, I am offering you a discount on any order you place before Father's Day. Won't you take another minute to read about it, please?

A new photography ministry, for The Least of These. Use this code DadsDay and receive $1.50 off your order.

Go here to read an introduction to the ministry web site. And don't forget to tell me when you place an order. Two names will be drawn from a hat this Father's Day and an additional print will be sent directly to each winner!

On behalf of the orphans that continue to break my heart,THANK YOU for orders already placed, and those yet to be.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Burn For Him

2 Corinthians 4:1-15...

(1) Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.

- I have to give myself this sort of talk. I want so desperately for others to come to Him for healing. When I don't hear of that happening, I do begin to lose heart. But, God is way bigger than what I see with my eyes. His is working here. He is!

(2) But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

- At God's feet we find redemption. The world wants to lead us astray, away from His healing and His renewing. Let us renounce the hidden things of shame. All of it.

(3-5) But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.

- Those of the world, and perhaps even you, don't think post-abortive women have anything for which to be sorry for and/or to seek redemption from. But worse than that is thinking that there is no one to offer it to you. Friends, there is Someone. God is not veiled, nor is He hidden, not from a thirsty soul seeking His life-giving water. Indeed He is the Light. And won't you join me in tossing aside shackles so that you can freely take His outstretched hand?

(6) For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

- Yes, God commands light. Hello. Did you get that? Our Father in Heaven commands light. Ask Him to shine His Light into your darkness!

(7) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

- What is your treasure? Is it Jesus? You are the vessel, what are you holding?

(8-10) We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

- Like the grapes in the vat, we are smashed into a non-recognizable pulp. But if we let Him prepare us, He will turn us into a juice that quenches the thirst of hell-bound souls. Let Him turn you into a beautiful stream of His love.

(11-12) For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you.

- Yes, we live. And we die. Are you willing to die while you live? Are you willing to put to death the enemy's stranglehold so that the light of Christ may illuminate the life you live as a renewed woman in Christ?

(13-14) And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.

- Friends, I want so much for you to join me in that spirit of faith. Be with me, make me the "us" of that scripture! Let us raise up together before the Lord our God, shouting our hallelujahs of thanksgiving for what He has done for us!

(15) For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.

- Oh yes, let grace spread like a wild fire burning the countryside. Let grace ravage you until you truly believe that you are free in Christ. When this happens, your thanksgiving will not cease. You will burn with desire to see others join you in such a glorious place!

Let us humbly pray:
Father God, this day we come before You, seeking You with desperate hearts and hurting minds. We need You to burn in us so that we may shine Your Light of forgiveness and redemption. Lord, grant all reading this today a desire that cannot be dampened by the world or clouded by the darkness. Grant us a desire that burns so hot and bright that it heals and renews and attracts others to its blaze. In Jesus' name, amen.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Us Only

"Let us go over to the other side."
~ Mark 4:35

Christ said that.

Notice the "us" in the simple statement.

Disciples, men hand-picked by Jesus, being told to climb aboard. With Him.

Christ said, "Let us go over to the other side" - not "to the middle of the lake to be drowned." (Daniel Crawford; Streams in the Desert by Cowman; June 3 reading)

He didn't intend for the boat to capsize and the sea to swallow them all whole. Jesus wanted his disciples to come with Him.

To come with Him.

Join Him.

As in "you and Me". Together boys. Come on fellas, get in the boat. With Me.

I don't reckon God wants us in the boat with Him so that He can take us to the middle of the lake and turn us out. Maybe He wants us in the boat so when seas get rocking and waves get nasty, we will cling to Him.

We must let go of that which threatens to drown us. Unforgiveness. Guilt. Shame. Sadness. Wounds. Lies.

How about this? Let me know what your prayer needs are on your journey to being healed and renewed. As you row your boat, I will be there too. And when the sea seems roughest, that is when you must heave all that junk overboard. Toss it to the sea. Drown it.

And leave it there.

Now don't you see that by the time you reach the other side, you will be free! Your hand, your heart, your mind... Grasp God. Cling to Him. Fill your empty places with His healing. With His renewing.

“Do not be afraid; only believe.”
~ Mark 5:36

Christ said that too.

Notice the "only" in this simple statement.

Jairus, one of the rulers of the synagogue, being told to "only" believe. The man was a ruler. Of a synagogue. And he had to be told where to put the focus of his soul.

To believe in Christ, not the words of the world. Not the words of even his friends. But to believe.


If Jesus told you to do this, what is it that you would retain as your belief?

What about all that other stuff (Unforgiveness. Guilt. Shame. Sadness. Wounds. Lies.)? It is all darkness, so let it meld into the background. Let it become nothing of focus.

Let it go.

Turn your soul dial. A bit more. Come on, some more. There. What do you see?

Only Christ?

Us Only

U-under God's wing
S-sit and sing

O-omnipresent, alpha to omega
N-no other does reign
L-lean into Him
Y-yes you, now fiercely cling

Let us humbly pray:
Father God, bless each one reading this today. Fill each one with Your Truth and love. Help each one to cast off their burdens and cling to You. Lord, I am trusting in You to bring them to the other side of the sea, to a place filled with forgiveness and redemption and healing and renewing. In Jesus' name, amen.

* This piece was also posted at Aspire to Lead a Quiet Life--although it is in its entirety here.

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