God’s Love Makes You Beautiful (continued again!)

Morning Meditation

What are you holding on to? What are you storing inside because you believe no one cares or can help? I was storing grief. Lots and lots of unprocessed grief, because I believed that expressing it just made things worse.

This morning I gave all that grief – years and years of it – to the Lord. Had a howling melt-down in my kitchen. Thank the Lord I stayed home from church and my guys went on without me. Would have hated to have had that noisy, messy breakdown in public!

So now He has my grief and I feel better. If I am going to be loved, I must be known. To be known by God means no more hiding from Him.

So why was I stuffing all that grief? Shortly after receiving Jesus, I joined a Word of Faith church where I was taught that my blessings depended utterly upon MY faith. Well, I didn’t even know what faith was. To be completely honest (and why not?), I didn’t trust anyone to have my best interests at heart. Let’s just say that I brought some baggage into my walk with the Lord. Oh OK! I brought a lot of baggage.

At the same time, I was distraught over my young son being intellectually challenged. When I was told that God would heal him, if I would only believe, then I was on it with all my strength: willing into existence, decreeing, believing, quoting scriptures, making a positive confession, striving, striving, striving, because I believed my little boy’s well-being depended upon my efforts. Eventually, I would become overwhelmed and crack, melting down and weeping for days. Of course, that meant that I had to start believing God all over again, because I had blown my son’s healing by feeling actual human emotion and expressing actual human anguish and doubt. Until one day, after many years of this, I quit trying and the tears dried up.

That little boy is 40 years old now and still intellectually challenged. But, I no longer believe that his well-being is my sole responsibility. Over the years, I have intentionally pursued inner healing and deliverance, studying many different schools of thought, so that I could learn to accept being genuinely loved by my good Shepherd who tenderly cares for me AND for my son. Line upon line, precept upon precept, I have settled into the rest of the Lord. And you know what? He is safe. I can be myself with Him, feeling what I feel and thinking what I think. He is my friend through it all, patiently guiding me into all truth. And you know what else? My feelings and my thoughts – even my perception of reality – are steadily changing, shifting and adjusting until they align with His.

Do I believe God heals? Yes. I really do. Because the Lord has promised and He is not a man that He should lie. Do I stress over it? Not so much.

So now, after my messy, loud kitchen meltdown, I’m feeling better because I have shared my grief with the Lord. If I am going to let God love me, then I must let Him know me.

What are you hiding from the Lord? I think I have hidden it all: unbelief, fear, anger, resentment, pain … and a truckload of grief. No more hiding. He wants to know me and I want to be known.

If the message blessed you, please leave a comment. If it didn’t bless you and you feel the need to correct or scold me, email is a better venue for that sort of thing. Blessings to you all. 

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God’s Love Makes You Beautiful (continued)

All of us have experienced rejection. It’s inevitable because the world is fallen and we are fallen (though redeemed by Christ). Plus, we have a spiritual enemy who works against us. Recently, I had an unpleasant encounter with a friend and lost that friend because of it. Broke my heart and left me feeling rejected and judged. I imagine she feels the same. Not my friend’s fault or even my fault, just a result of the fall that breeds misunderstandings and wounded hearts.

So, I was reflecting upon that circumstance when the Lord spoke to me. He said:

“I knew when I made you that you would fall, that you would become broken, that you would do stupid stuff. I made you anyway.”

That may not minister to you, but for me, a sick and tired of striving and performing Christian, facing ongoing challenges with loved ones and not-so-loved ones, who fails and flails around trying really hard and still messing up, those words encouraged me. He knew what a mess I would be and He knew how dark and confusing the world that He chose to raise me in would be (don’t understand it, but accept that He has a purpose in mind), and he still chose to make me.

I really do not think that God made me because He needed someone to hate. I really do not think that God made you because He needed someone to crush or reject or despise. He knew our struggles and our failings, and He chose to make us anyway. Let us allow that truth to comfort us in the hard and confusing times, when people push us away, when confusion overwhelms.

Because His love really does make us beautiful.

God’s Love Makes You Beautiful

The First Evening Meditation after God said, “My love makes you beautiful.”
I hate dressing rooms for a very good reason. They are filled with the emotional despair of every woman who as ever looked at herself in that mirror on the wall. Ugh. Avoid at all costs. But occasionally it is necessary to actually try on the clothes that I am buying, so I suck it up and brave the room of despair.

Such was my state of mind when I stepped into the tiny T. J. Maxx dressing room to try on some summer tops that I desperately needed. My attitude instantly changed when the Lord spoke up. He said to me: “My love makes you beautiful.”

Wooo. I was happy for the rest of the day! That is until I returned home and was met at the door by my squabbling responsibilities. But later that night, God brought the love subject up again and He made a point I hadn’t thought about before. He said that He holds Himself back with me because I hadn’t given Him permission to love me with all His true self. I didn’t like that. I want God, of all people, to be totally comfortable around me, to be free to be Himself.

I realized that being truly loved by Him meant being completely known by Him. I poked around in my heart, looking for why I was shy about letting Him so close and, sure enough, I believed that being known meant being hurt, which led me to the vows I had made to do “whatever it takes” to hide. So I decided to take a risk, break the vows and give the Lord permission to know me completely, so that He could enjoy being Himself with me and I could discover what it is like to be loved down to my toes.

Have you ever given God official permission to love you? I think most of us hold Him off a bit, because to be loved by God is to be deeply known by another. And we are so afraid of being truly known that we have even figured out how to hide from ourselves.

We tell ourselves that we want God to love us at the same time that we unconsciously reject His love. Why do we do this? One reason is because we have accepted with our hearts that we are unlovable for whatever shameful reason. We are like Adam and Eve hiding in the dark woods as God stands in the glorious sunlight, calling to us, “Where are you?”

In that “Where are you,” is the Lord’s offer to love us in the hidden shame of our darkness. It’s an invitation into His all-consuming, completely accepting yet completely honest love. But to be fully loved by God – to give Him permission to love us with all of His love – means being completely known by Him.

Unless we are willing to be known, we will not allow the Lord to love us. Oh, we will let Him trickle out a bit of love here and there. But that’s all our hearts will accept. A little here and a little there.

Where are you? Will you give the Lord your permission to love you with all of His love? If no – because it’s just too scary to be really and truly known – will you give Him permission to work on that for you?

I was Blaming the Wrong Thing. Are You?

I know you have heard expressions like these: Life is Hard then You Die; Love Hurts; No Good Deed Goes Unpunished; Don’t Get Your Hopes Up. Here is a favorite of mine that makes me chuckle: Don’t fall in love. Fall off a bridge. It hurts less.

We have all heard, made and agreed with these kinds of statements without giving them much thought, simply accepting them as true and wise sayings.

I certainly didn’t give them much thought. I have even told people during ministry that “Life is just hard. Thank goodness that we are only here for a short (and miserable) time.” In other words, Life is Short and Painful then You get to Die. Yay. Not my most shining moments in ministry.

I’m not a positive confession kind of girl. (Been there; done that.) I’m not going in that direction with this. I’m writing about blaming the wrong thing for our pain; something God showed me we do without even realizing it. Before I explain further, let’s get up to speed on the human heart.

Your heart is the manager of your perception of reality. What your heart understands about reality is drawn from your early life experiences, starting from within the womb until you are about seven years old. Once your heart manager has created a template, or blueprint, for “how life is for you,” then that becomes the filter through which all of your life is experienced.

I explain this concept much more completely in Healing Starts with the Heart. Here is the link to that audio teaching. Healing Starts with the Heart

Just how significant is the human heart? Recall that when King Solomon asked God for wisdom to govern the people, God did not give him a wise and discerning mind. God gave him a wise and discerning heart. (See 1 Kings 3). Learning how your heart works is extremely important, because what you believe with your heart will always triumph over what you believe with your rational mind.

“for with the heart a person believes” Romans 10:10

The Lord started explaining that we (all of us; humanity) are blaming the wrong things for our pain by asking me this question: “What do you believe about love?”

My mind is capable of responding with many theologically correct answers, but God was not asking me what my rational mind believed. He was asking me what my heart believed. So, I asked my heart, “What do you believe about love? My heart answered, “Love makes you dirty.”

Ugh! Not what I wanted to hear, but it was true and explained so much. Now I knew why I wouldn’t let Father God close to me in the spirit. Now I understood why I would see sexually explicit nastiness that made me recoil from resting in His presence. Forget about spiritual intimacy! That was too creepy. Because my biological father had said he loved me while also defiling me, it was settled in my heart that love was to blame for my pain. If my father hadn’t loved me, I wouldn’t be dirty. No way was I going to let Father God love me because love makes you dirty!

From that insight, I began to notice that I was also blaming life for my pain and suffering. I would say, think and feel that my life was too hard and disappointing. Death became something to long for so I could escape the pain of life.

Hope? Not going to do that, because hope just disappoints. Better to just not hope so when the inevitable disappointment happens, it won’t hurt so much. Or so my reasoning went. Kindness? What was the result of being kind? You just drown trying to save someone else.

Love became something to be avoided; life something to be feared; hoping was too risky, and kindness resulted in being overwhelmed. Kindness, hope, life and love were all to blame for my suffering!

What about truth? Let’s not forget truth! How many of us are afraid of the truth because we think the truth will expose us and reveal something bad?

Because my heart accepted that love, life, hope, kindness and truth hurts me, it compelled me to back away from these things. This is not good! Jesus came to give me abundant life. Only I run shrieking from it, terrified, because I perceive with my heart that life is pain. It feels true that He is giving me more pain when He offers me abundant life.

What about truth? What happens when He offers me truth? My heart screams, “Don’t give me any of that truth!” Some of us really believe in our hearts that truth will destroy us. So we hide from the very thing that Jesus promised would set us free.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

“you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32

Life is ALWAYS good. It cannot be anything else because ALL life comes from God. There is no other source of life. There is not Life Source A: God-life which is the very best AND Life Source B: Non-God life which is just ok.

There is only ONE life source. If you are struggling, it is not life that is hurting you.

All life, love, hope, joy, peace, light, kindness, truth – all good things – come down from the Father of lights. It is impossible for any gift from God to be bad for us. Sin, which is loose in the world because of the fall, has borne the fruit of death. That is the cause of all pain. (See Romans 5:12; 6:23)

 

Just like all life is good, all love is good. What my father called love was actually sin. Sin made me feel dirty. Because I blamed love, I shied away from ALL love. I was blaming the wrong thing.

Let’s Pray: Father God, Creator of all, Giver of life and all good and perfect gifts, we worship You. Life, love, hope and truth are gifts that are always good. Open our understanding so that we can see what we are doing. Help us blame sin which is the true source of our pain. Forgive us for blaming You and Your gifts. Forgive us for blaming the wrong things for our pain. Guide us in the paths of righteousness for Your Name’s sake. In Jesus’ beautiful name, Amen.

What are you blaming for your pain? I invite you to comment; ask questions; start a discussion about this topic. Let’s learn and grow together.

Smiles and blessings,

Susan

Lighting Up the Darkness

I ran across a funny meme on Facebook the other day. It read: “I don’t think America should elect any president in 2016. We need to be single for a few years and find ourselves.”

Let me establish this fact upfront: I’m not very political and I’m not writing about politics. But with the election looming on the horizon, many of us here in America are very tuned into the state of our world. There’s a lot of outrage at the forced normalizing of non-biblical lifestyles as well as frustration and resentment toward the ongoing social engineering being mandated by the government. Confusion is running at an all-time high as ferocious mind games target our perception of good, calling it evil, and evil, calling it good. Add in terrorism. Add in the sanctioned attacks on Christians who refuse to abandon their consciences and conform to the current coercive social agenda. So, in a nutshell, the world is a hot mess. (Hot mess defined: a person or thing that is spectacularly unsuccessful or disordered).

So we have a reality: the world is NOT getting better. If anything sin-fruit has gone rotten on the vine. Hey?! Did you know that the most popular name for baby boys is Noah? Is that prophetic?

For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. Matthew 24:37

So we are living in a natural/social/cultural/political world and must be honest about the reality of that world. At the same time, we are living within a spiritual atmosphere lorded over by “the prince of the power of the air” who is Satan (Ephesians 2:2). In this writing, I am less concerned about the natural world and more concerned about overcoming “this present darkness” mentioned in Ephesians 6:12. (And, as some of you know, This Present Darkness is the title of a Frank Peretti book. It’s a good book.)

Does it seem to you that the darkness covering the earth is growing deeper and more smothering as the days pass? It does to me. It is so easy to slide into discouragement over circumstances and personal pain. Easier than ever before. The pressure to sink into despair and hopelessness has never been as strong. Everywhere I look I see pain, suffering, ignorance, poverty, lawlessness, rage, hatred, violence, and deception. (Let’s also toss in how filthy the entertainment industry has become and how pushy it is about its social agenda). Scripture addresses the state of the world in the last days.

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:3-4

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 2 Timothy 3:1-5

So what can we do to navigate these last days? How can we light up the darkness? First, recognize that the darkness we are perceiving is both real AND it is being amplified or exaggerated. Our world is a hot mess BUT the enemy is also exaggerating the spiritual darkness to the point that many of us despair of seeing God in the midst of the world’s troubles and our own personal problems.

As an inner healing and deliverance minister let me be the first to point to the heart as the storehouse of our beliefs. Check your heart! What does it believe that gives the enemy a handle to manipulate you with? (Buy my book Healing from the Inside Out and learn how heart-based belief systems are built and how to dismantle them!) Or find some other resource that equips you with effective tools to cleanse and heal your heart. Check out Jim Richards’ website www.heartphysics.com. Get your heart healed! The issues of life flow from it (Proverbs 4:23). I realize heart healing is a long-term project, so better get started now!

Meanwhile, beautiful children of the Lord, recognize that this present darkness is being exaggerated and amplified by the enemy who is taking advantage of our messed up world and our messed up hearts. He needs our fear and despair; rage and resentment, because he is dependent upon the energy we produce when we are so miserable.

Although we live in a dark world, remember that “you, brethren, are not in darkness … for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5). “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are” (1 John 3:1). Let’s purpose in our hearts and minds to remember that God is not intimidated or overwhelmed by this present darkness. Hold on to Him. Hug the cross to your heart. You are His beloved, regardless of how you feel about that.

Let me pray for you.

Creator God, the Father of Light in whom there is no shifting shadows, open our hearts and minds, open our eyes and our understanding so that we see and perceive Your hands and heart at work on our behalf. Cause us to experience in a tangible way the reality of Your presence in the midst of this darkness. For You have said, “Light shall shine out of darkness.” You have “shone in our hearts, giving us the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Help us lift up our voices in worship even in the midst of the deepest darkness. It is in worship, lifting our fears and problems to You, focusing our hearts and minds on You that we find freedom and comfort. In the name of our beloved Savior, Jesus Christ, I pray.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,

And the light around me will be night,”

Even the darkness is not dark to You,

And the night is as bright as the day.

Darkness and light are alike to You.

A Psalm of David (139:11-12)

Freedom from Bitterness (excerpt)

Here is an excerpt from a downloadable teaching available for purchase at http://www.thepoolministries.org.

The subject of bitterness has always troubled me because no one has ever defined it or explained it to me. Actually no one has ever tried to explain it to me. I have been taught to avoid bitterness; to not be bitter; to not let a root of bitterness grow up (???????) … whatever that means … and so on, but I have never had ANYONE teach me what bitterness is. So here is a taste of what the Lord showed me about bitterness. (I pestered and pestered Him until He told me).  🙂

Mara means bitter. (Naomi means my joy, by the way.) I looked up the meaning of Mara in the Hebrew and its literal meaning is a bitter taste ranging from disagreeable (the taste of a walnut shell) to poisonous or deadly (the taste of an elephant ear plant).  Applied to Naomi’s suffering I think it is safe to say that she was experiencing such extreme loss that recovery felt truly impossible.

I understand Naomi’s anger towards God. I have seen this tendency in myself, in other Christians and in non-Christians. It appears to be universal for people to blame someone when things go bad. And who better to blame than God who is omniscient and omnipotent? He could have stopped it from happening. Couldn’t He? We all think like this and it takes time working through difficult losses with the Lord to come to an understanding of sin, eternity and God’s plan for humanity. Certainly in the grip of a horribly devastating loss we tend to automatically rage at the Lord. I don’t think being angry at the human who has hurt us or even being angry at God, while we are working through our loss, results in bitterness. Bitterness sets in when we sink into resigned despair and accept that we will never recover from what that person/God did/allowed.

Picture a tree, its roots deeply planted in the soil of pervasive painful experience, the sturdy trunk wrapped around the belief that your life is ruined, and dangling from its far-reaching branches hatred, resentment, jealousy, cynicism, rage, judgmentalism, pride, hopelessness, depression, despair and unbelief. And probably other fruit I haven’t thought of yet. (The pride grows from our belief that we would NEVER treat anyone like God/person treated us. We are BETTER than them. Ha ha! Live long enough and you will see how true that is.) We will talk about the unbelief in a bit.

The complete article is available at http://www.thepoolministries.org. This is an excerpt. I am referring to Naomi in the book of Ruth.

Perfection! I’ve Achieved It! Yup! Yup!

So have you ever wondered about the part in the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus said, “So be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

I mean … really? Jesus just told those people to be perfect and no hands went up. No one said, clearing his throat nervously, “Excuse me, sir. Did you just tell us to be perfect like God is perfect?” I find it hard to believe that the folks sitting on the side of that mount didn’t exchange some sideways “Is he crazy?” glances with their neighbors. It’s just a good thing I wasn’t in that crowd.

I have followed the Lord now for about 30 years and I am STILL pestering Him about the “just be perfect” comment. Over the years He mostly ignored that question, but He did tell me once that He had wanted His audience to raise their hands and ask Him what He meant. They just didn’t. Probably a little intimated by His greatness and all. I imagine word of all the miracles had spread by that time. Anyway, the Lord explained to me some time ago (I think mostly to keep me quiet) that He hoped people would start looking for a savior when they learned that perfection was the standard. That made sense to me at that time so I went on to pester Him about other things.

Recently, some dots connected about the perfection thing, and I think I have a better understanding of what Jesus meant. I study brain science and human development insofar as it pertains to prayer ministry. So I know that what is appropriate for a three-year-old changes as the child matures.

In light of that knowledge, the Lord showed me that when I was three and I invited my father to enjoy my five-year-old brother’s exquisitely funny joke about our pot pies looking like do-do, I was behaving perfectly for my age and my God-given design. I was being happily, joyfully, blissfully perfect for three-year-old me.

That my father descended the stairs in a rage, picked up my brother and bounced him off the wall because he had said a dirty word was the reason I decided to never be perfect again, becoming instead deeply mistrustful of myself. So I stopped being the perfect little image of God whom He had created and became a cautious, fearful kid who kept reinventing herself every time she screwed up.

Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48

So what is perfect in God’s eyes? I think it is being who you are created to be – His image – behaving appropriately for your maturity level, flowing joyfully in your true, original design, the one you and I abandoned when things went so wrong. I want to be that kind of perfect again.