Change Your Mind

Giving Thanks ANYWAY

Life hard? Family toxic? Kids ungrateful? Job suck? Friend dump you? Lover reject you? Broke again? Drunk again? Sick again? Grieving someone you lost? Failed at your last effort? Can’t find the right “other”? Lonely? Overworked? Stressed?

We all have something it is very hard to give thanks for.

Two “God things” come to mind, though. He DID promise He would turn ALL things to GOOD. Which, WHEW, hard to imagine. (Romans 8:28 if you want to check)

Plus He DIDN’T exactly specify we had to give the praise and thanks for those exact hard things…cuz there’s always plenty of OTHER things…many mercies…for which we CAN be grateful.

And there really is something holy and healing about giving thanks ANYWAY.

Bible says God actually somehow lives in our praise, it ties somehow to His glory. And comes back to us in some mysterious way we cannot really fathom.

Try it! Give it some heart then give it some time. Watch your faith at work.

Besides…Black Friday sales start after dinner   🙂

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:18

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Hard Core Sinner? Think God Hates You?

Hard Core Sinner?  Think God Hates You?

Good news!  You are in VERY good company.  With a VERY happy answer.

This poem by my friend says it all.  And reminds us that those horrid, stupid things we did were just another example of WHY He came in the flesh to SAVE us.

It sure gave me hope.  A bandage for my wounded self-esteem.  Pray it blesses YOU as well.

 

 

I am Adam

I lusted and felt the delight

Of taking that very first bite

I am Cain

I was filled with darkness and hate

Despising my well-deserved fate

I am Jacob

I was given years full of pain

As my pay for deceitful gain

I am Moses

Striking out with my foolish plan

I shamefully buried the man

I am a Hebrew slave

Delivered from Egyptian land

I looked back and fell in the sand

I am an Israelite

I failed to drive out the heathen

Their women caused me to weaken

I am Jonah

I ran from the Lord’s chosen path

And then had to endure His wrath

I am Job

I longed for God’s intercession

Humbled by all of His questions

I am a Pharisee

I love to be seen working hard

The praise of man is my reward

I am the prodigal son

After wasting my youthful years

I ran back to my Father in tears

I am Peter

I was quick to pull out my sword

But fainted at a maiden’s word

I am Lazarus

I was bound and buried in death

Till the Holy Ghost gave me breath

I am the thief on the cross

I used my last words to confess

With my hands stretched out to be blessed

I am Thomas

I couldn’t quite figure it out

But Christ loved me despite my doubt

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Abortion…WITHOUT Doctrine or Politics or Judgment

The Lord surprised me with this one.  Why talk about abortion right now, on the verge of the holidays Lord?  But He insists.  So must be some wounded hearts out there that need it.  If abortion is something you are wounded or confused about, this is for YOU.  Let’s start with a medical person’s personal testimony:


As a young new nurse in a large metro hospital, I was recruited for a new clinic.  “PIC” they called it.  “Pregnancy Interruption Clinic.”  It was 1973.  Roe v Wade had just legalized abortion.  Very kind doctors interviewed me and presented the opportunity as a great way to help people.  AND, in complete truth, our FIRST patient group did include a ten-year-old girl who didn’t even know HOW she got pregnant.  And always sobbing women, desperate and hopeless–victims of rape, abuse, or just poor judgment.  So, yes, it fed our notion we were doing good things for the poor and downtrodden.  And helped us not judge the ones who came.

Until we saw the results.

The procedure itself was not shocking.  Doctors called it “removing the tissue.”  There were no ultrasounds yet, so no one had seen the beating hearts and tiny flailing legs. Just a large glass suction jar with a pump and a little white gauze sock inside.  As the doctor worked, we could see the white gauze inside pulsing and filling, blood dripping.  They covered the jar so the patients couldn’t see it.

Fifteen or twenty minutes, all kind words and gentle hand-holding.  Then we wheeled the women back to the recovery room and gave them snacks until they felt strong enough to go home.

THEN, after everyone had gone home, the appalling revelation of what we were REALLY doing there.  We had to empty those white gauze socks into little tin foil pans to take up to Pathology, to make sure everything was out of the uterus.  Standard procedure for clinics that remove “tissue.”

Yeah.  That cured us.  The Truth DOES set you free.  Tiny flayed bodies.  Broken bones, torn flesh. Tiny heads and arms and legs and ribcages torn completely apart, scattered in the slick of blood like war carnage. Yes we could tell boys from girls, all torn completely apart like nothing we’d never seen.  And nurses have SEEN some stuff!  Stupefied, we carried the tiny foil pans up to the Lab, as instructed.  No words.

We did not NEED a moral argument or theology or politics of “rights” to know we were seeing a Holocaust worse than the stacked bodies out of Hitler’s ovens.  What remained was only to decide what we should DO about it.  We still struggle with it to this day.  Because there are horrid situations that require life and death decisions about this.  Women do have rights over their own bodies; of course they do.  I couldn’t imagine that ten year old carrying the baby that was aborted that day.  And pitied the victims of crime, abuse and disappointments of life.  But there is also no mistaking what you SEE when you SEE it.

–Anonymous, R.N.


So, it is not as simple as people on EITHER side think.  Probably almost as hard to see as that small church full of shot up bloody bodies must have been in central Texas last week.

So many women have gone through this for so many years for so many reasons.  Millions every year.  We do know more now, due to the advanced technology.  And grieve, whether we are people of faith or not.

No one can heal that wound except God.  Others like to have you believe it is GOD who BLAMES you.

No.  It is God who HEALS you.

Like any loving parent, He taught us “right” from “wrong” so we WOULDN”T have the grief and disappointment of our poor choices.  But He DOES have healing for what we did in ignorance or desperation.    WE don’t have to “pay for our sins” when we kneel before Him and ask His forgiveness because HE already did that FOR us.

Even better, we have Someone to go to with the grief and pain and loss.  Everyone else has opinions or judgments.  Only He gives the love and forgiveness you crave.

The Bible is full of scripture that says the same.  Many hurting, damaged sinners in the Bible, forgiven and set free.  King David murdered a man and committed adultery—but when he repented, God called him “a man after My own heart.”   There are many others, from tax collectors to prostitutes.

There’s so many lies and misperceptions in this fallen world.  Many of us get our “beliefs” from CNN or fellow addicts or neighbors with their own problems.  Always better to get them straight from ABOVE.  He KNOWS our heartache.  The STATISTICS don’t HELP us, do they?  The political or social or doctrinal debates don’t heal. Only one place safe to take heartache and confusion and grief that deep.

You won’t get the slap of judgment you thought you would.

Promise.


There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Romans 8:1

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:3

For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
    and I will remember their sins no more.”  Hebrews 8:12

 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.   Psalm 51:10

 

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BE YOURSELF

“BE YOURSELF!”  you hear from every side.

Really?  Selfish, Mad, Drunk, Scared, Lonely, Addicted, Angry, Lazy, Self-Centered?

Many of us would rather NOT “be ourselves.”

You gotta dig kinda deep under the broken sinful confusing BEHAVIOR you’ve acquired in order to SURVIVE and be the REAL you God MADE you to be.

Confusing, isn’t it?

Be ourselves?  like we would know who THAT is.  We’ve tap danced to win approval or rebelled to escape.  We made it past the adolescent angst and the teenage performance anxiety.  Now we mostly think we ARE what we DO.  And if THAT ain’t goin’ good, our self-esteem shrivels up.

Here’s a guy who will give you hope.  His name was Saul.  God had to knock him off his high horse to quit being a Pharisee, stoning Christians.  Then he GOT it… and became the Apostle Paul and went on to write ¾ of the New Testament.

He was just like us.  Not perfect.  He put it pretty plain:

For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can WILL what is right, but I cannot DO it. For I do not do the GOOD I want, but the EVIL I do not want is what I do.           [Romans chapter 7 if you want to read his whole struggle]

So we have to decide…am I the loser I think I am?  Or am I who God SAYS I am.  “Holy, blameless, chosen in love, His child, beloved forever…..”  (See verses below)

I didn’t make it up.  It’s right there in the Book.  Promise.  GOD!  Not the people we were tap dancing for, or the ones we ran away from, or the ones we loved who didn’t love us back.  GOD!  –“HOLY!  BELOVED!  BLAMELESS!”  The instant we say “yes” to Him, He says that to us.  The thing we wanted all along.

If you never SAID “yes” to Him, you are stuck with your “performance” and what “they” say, aren’t you?  Don’t fall for it.  Say YES to the One who MADE you.  He MADE us and had a PLAN for us, quirky little faults and all.

I found that out the hard way myself. My BIRTH parents said I was trash and threw me out, others SAID love and didn’t SHOW love.  Worst of all, the world AND the devil AND my wounded little inner Psycho all talked trash to me all the time.

I really was lost, but now I really am found.  I have had my life saved.  Maybe you have too.  It’s not easy, it’s not quick.  But o baby it is true.  If you look up long enough, God will answer you.  You study Truth, it soaks in eventually.  You share your secrets, you find out He is the safe one who will love you anyway.

Don’t let anybody ELSE tell you who you are!!!!

Believe who GOD made you to be instead of what others expect you to be. God wants people to be FREE, and find their own “call” in Him.  He calls some to feed the hungry, some to marriage and family, some to pastoring other sheep.  And some susrprises too—martyrdom, music, madness.  Once we know Him and love Him long enough, His unique path for us is all we care.

God really IS the ONLY thing that can raise you above this fallen world: depression, addiction, sadness, foolishness, sinfulness and loss.  The.  Only.  Thing.  If there was another way I woulda found it.  You too.

Now, on a bad day, when I talk trash to myself, I can still hear the holy whisper:

You are My child.  I love you.  You are holy and blameless.  You have your cross, but I had Mine and we will carry them together.

 And I get up.


John 1:12 – I am a child of God (Romans 8:16).

John 15:15 – I am Christ’s friend.

Romans 8:1 – I am forever free from condemnation.

Romans 8:14, 15 – I am a son of God (God is literally my “Daddy”)

Romans 11:16 – I am holy.

Romans 15:7 – Christ has accepted me.

Galatians 3:26, 28 – I am a child of God and one in Christ.

Ephesians 1:1 – I am a saint (1 Corinthians 1:2; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2).

Ephesians 1:4 – I am holy and blameless

Ephesians 4:24 – I am righteous and holy.

Philippians 3:20 – I am a citizen of heaven.

Colossians 3:4 – Christ is now my life.

Colossians 3:12 – I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved

1 Thessalonians 5:5 – I am a child of light and not of darkness.

2 Timothy 1:7 – I have been given a spirit of power, love, and discipline.

Hebrews 4:16 – I may come boldly before the throne of God to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need

1 Peter 2:5 – I am one of God’s living stones and am being built up as a spiritual house

1 Peter 2:9, 10 – I am a part of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God’s own possession.

1 Peter 2:11 – I am an alien and stranger to this world that I temporarily live in.

1 Peter 5:8 – I am an enemy of the devil. He is my adversary.

1 John 3:1 – God has bestowed a great love on me and called me His child.

1 John 4:15 – God is in me and I am in God.

 

 

 

 

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WHO’S YO DADDY?

If your father wasn’t quite what you needed…no worries.  You are fixin’ ta get the best Daddy ever.

What, yours damaged you?  Set a bad example, made you unworthy?  NONE of us ever WAS worthy except Jesus, and He Himself called God “Abba,” a warm and intimate Aramaic word for “Daddy,” as He trembled before the coming cross.

Then Jesus picked the Apostle Paul AFTER Paul stoned and fought the first Christian believers.  Hardly the most deserving candidate to write ¾ of the New Testament, huh?  So don’t worry about your haters or judgers…Our Lord picks us wounded warriors every time.

Sometimes we are so broken that we don’t have confidence in what He’s asked us to do.  But if He calls you to it, do it anyway!  God chose you, He’ll enable you.

Nobody will like it?  They won’t think you’re qualified?   No worries…it’s not your popularity among men you’re after.  YOUR prize will be FOREVER, not this month’s magazines.  Bible says Jesus Himself was the “chief cornerstone” that the builders REJECTED at first.  Then He did it ALL.  Forever.  Let Him be your role model if that other one didn’t work out.

So forget where you CAME from and praise where you’re going.  And thank your Daddy NOW….”Abba, Father” the Bible calls Him.  “Daddy” plain and simple.  He has a plan JUST for YOU!

*****

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”  ROMANS 8:15

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”   GALATIANS 4:6

He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”  MARK 14:36

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Hard Core Sinner?  Think God Hates You?

Hard Core Sinner?  Think God Hates You?

Good news!  You are in VERY good company.  With a VERY happy answer.

This poem by my friend says it all.  And reminds us that those horrid, stupid things we did were just another example of WHY God came in the flesh to SAVE us.

It sure gave me hope.  A bandage for my wounded self-esteem.  A promise for forever.  Pray it blesses YOU as well.

***

I am Adam

I lusted and felt the delight

Of taking that very first bite

I am Cain

I was filled with darkness and hate

Despising my well-deserved fate

I am Jacob

I was given years full of pain

As my pay for deceitful gain

I am Moses

Striking out with my foolish plan

I shamefully buried the man

I am a Hebrew slave

Delivered from Egyptian land         

I looked back and fell in the sand   

I am an Israelite        

I failed to drive out the heathen       

Their women caused me to weaken          

I am Jonah

I ran from the Lord’s chosen path   

And then had to endure His wrath  

I am Job

I longed for God’s intercession                   

Humbled by all of His questions     

I am a Pharisee

I love to be seen working hard

The praise of man is my reward

            I am the prodigal son

            After wasting my youthful years

            I ran back to my Father in tears

I am Peter

I was quick to pull out my sword     

But fainted at a maiden’s word                   

I am Lazarus

I was bound and buried in death                

Till the Holy Ghost gave me breath

I am the thief on the cross

I used my last words to confess      

With my hands stretched out to be blessed

I am Thomas

I couldn’t quite figure it out

But Christ loved me despite my doubt

                              By Jacob Titus c2017

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You Can’t Shock God


You Can’t Shock God

“Church” does have its problems.  Confusing doctrines, unkind members, and, most of all, a sense of shame before the God we know is there.  Whether we are mad at him or ashamed of ourselves, we think our presence will SHOCK Him or the other people.

The neighbor who saw you in that dark alley might be shocked, it’s true.

But God’s not.  Nope.  Not a bit.

Jesus poured God’s love out on murderers, prostitutes, and tax collectors just as richly as He did the faithful.  Because He is not the naïve parent we’ve been hiding from.  Sin IS the reason He came.  DIED nailed to a wooden CROSS…all that agony in spite of His own innocence.  So we wouldn’t have to suffer like that FOREVER for ours.

So NO…our sins do NOT shock Him.

Besides, there are no new sins, just the same old tired ones from forever.  If they were ever going to bring joy, we would surely know about it by now.  “Sex, drugs, and rock n roll” always feel good…right up to where they ruin your life, steal your joy, and kill you.

And remember—Jesus Himself was always in trouble with the goodie-two-shoes (Pharisees) for hanging out with sinners.  He IS our number one ADVOCATE.  And a misfit like us.

These days we think we have OTHER answers…doctors and shrinks and welfare and a million other things to support our bad choices.  And we never have to call it sin.  We think we are good to go.

Yet we know, somewhere deep inside, that we have a dark side, a person we don’t even like living inside the person we pretend to be.  A darkness.  A sickness.

We hurt people we love.  Take things that aren’t ours.  Keep secrets, tell lies, and worse.  You know it.  Nobody needs to tell you.  If anybody else did what you know you’ve done in secret, you’d want them punished.  For yourself, you make excuses, keep your head down, and hope nobody finds out.  And if they do, you have your explanations always brewing.

Justice for them.  Mercy for me.

And God knows, too.  He knows our heart.  That it’s OUR sin we don’t want to hear about.  The sins of other people are endlessly fascinating.  Crooks, addicts, pedophiles and crooked politicians dominate the evening news.  We think we must be good, by comparison.

The gospel is not “good news” to the self-righteous who are not even aware of their sin.  But it is the best news to us misfits who know we need to be rescued.  It is not good news to unbelievers, or people who believe but don’t want to surrender to it (like demons).  But it is wonderful news to those who have been trapped in their sin, had their lives ruined by it.  And want to be free.


You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! James 2:19

The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
keeping watch on the evil and the good.  Proverbs 15:3

THERE IS THEREFORE NOW NO CONDEMNATION FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST JESUS!!!  Romans 8:1

 

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Those Dark Days I Hate Myself, Lose Hope, Want to Die, Give Up, No Joy or Peace

You get the idea.

The bad days that come in spite of the million mercies. 

You find yourself parked in a remote spot crying.  Or locked in the bathroom so no one will see your eyes, puffy and glazed from despair.  When someone asks if you’re okay, you say “I’m just tired” while your heart cries “I want to die.”  Maybe even melt down in public when you have no answer to the void of love or hope or care.  Not just “crabby” days.  More than PMS or broken heart or broke again.  Worse than fury at someone else.  More like fury at yourself.  Or Life.  Or maybe even God.

Why do we get like this, Lord?  We’ve known Your love so long, yet stumble and fall so low.  Regret nearly everything we ever did and everything we did NOT do.  So lonely we could die.  No one to talk to, share You with, serve You with.  Only a dark void where the yearning for the kind of love and care we’ve given others is not returned.

If we were like this all the time someone would diagnose “depression” and give us a pill.  But we aren’t.  These days are black spots on a pastel palette of hopes and dreams.  What am I doing wrong? We cry out to the Lord.  The silence crushes our soul.

DESOLATION some have called it.

Oh, yes.

So what can we do?

There are helpful things all over the internet, books, radio and TV that might help.  Plus counselors galore, diversions aplenty.  Even lusts and addictions and gluttony.  But if we are GOD people?  Who don’t WANT a sinful, useless diversion?  Who want His answer?  How can we still RELATE to God when we are too messed up to HEAR Him in our spirit?  Above all…WHAT SHOULD WE DO?!

The main thing I’ve learned (thanks to Ignatius of Loyola and his fans) is:

–DO NOT MAKE ANY CHANGES OR IMPORTANT DECISIONS ON DESOLATION DAYS!!!!!

This one is hard to accept.  Because we so WANT things to be different on a dark day like that, we fall for the devil’s whisperings and fleshy people’s barbs, don’t we?  And SOOO sorry LATER, aren’t we?  OOOo please DO be O SO CAREFUL WITH THIS ONE!

THEN we are safe to do things that actually HELP.  Make life instantly perfect and joyful?  No, not hardly.  But ground us while we wait for the Light.

  1.   Of course.  Beg even, if it helps.  But MAINLY sit in the Lord’s presence best way you can.  A closet, a chapel, the bathroom floor.  Just do the best you can and be still until you become aware of His presence.  He IS there and you WILL sense it.
  2. No, not in a hippie way.  Just THINK ABOUT things SPIRITUAL best you can.  Instead of the million little fleshy ways you’ve been disappointed.  FOCUS!  NOT on yourself.  On HIM.  Repeat a scripture you know by heart.  A prayer you’ve memorized.  Imagine Jesus nailed on the cross or washing feet or anything concrete that comes to mind.  Think about His friends.  It takes a lot of OTHER images to displace the scared, wounded SELF images that haunt us.  But there are riches galore you can feed your stricken senses if you try.  The SIGHTS and SMELLS and TOUCH and SOUNDS and even TASTES of thinking about Jesus and His disciples and their lives and their deaths.  No dearth of material here!
  3. This you already know how to do.  Not hard.  Go over the events before the darkness.  Think of what might have led to it.  Someone hurt your feelings?  Things didn’t go as planned?  WHAT HAPPENED?  The TRIGGER?  The SALT in the wound?  Maybe even WRITE IT DOWN.  Put the puzzle pieces together.  Just the FACTS, not the evil whispers since!
  4. OOOO we do hate that word, don’t we?  We have to DO something?  MORE than just say “sorry”?  No.  We don’t HAVE to.  But if we DO, it DOES help us remember the NEXT time we choose FLESH instead of SPIRIT.  When we worked for more money or “highs” or love or affirmation.  And did NOT work for more steps in His Spirit…Because (didn’t wanna scare ya off early) it IS a BATTLE between God’s HOLY SPIRIT and the devils’ HORRIBLE ONE, isn’t it?  It is one or the other.  And doesn’t’ take much to throw our wounded selves over to the wrong side of the boxing ring, does it?

When we say “no” to the dark whispers and “yes” to the Truth, the Light WILL enter.  So as not to blind us, it comes slowly, gradually.  But it comes.   The Light changes everything.  We don’t have to.  We DID our part already!  And if it seems too much trouble or time-consuming, let me just remind you it is easier than driving to see a psychiatrist, cheaper than buying some pills.  Hey, God loves us either way.  But THEY don’t’ CHANGE anything.  Especially our souls.  THIS DOES!

Try it.  Not a SIMPLE fix.  A HOLY one.

 

In the day of prosperity be happy,
But in the day of adversity consider—
God has made the one as well as the other
So that man will not discover anything that will be after him. Ecclesiastes 7:14

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

 

 

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REJECTION: The Wound That Never Heals

REJECTION:  The Wound That Never Heals

Whether your mother or father abandoned, belittled, raped, hit, ignored or failed to protect you when you were small, the result is the same.  A gaping bloody hole in your heart and soul that never heals.  A wound where the love and safety should have been.  A grief we never recover from.  Well-loved people don’t see it, rarely understand our pain.

Jesus does.  To me, THAT is what the TRANSFIGURATION was meant to show His beloved followers.  How they would be FOREVER….not the scared, sad, mad wounded soul they are NOW.

Like us.

Matthew 17: 1:

“Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white.”

They didn’t understand.  Jesus even told them not to tell anyone about it.  But after His death they knew.  Then, when they saw Him on the road after His resurrection they began to understand.  Finally, He walked through a wall to join them at a meal and showed Thomas his scars—still there!—and they knew forever.

The Bible SHOWS us that even HIS wounds are still there.  But the mountaintop blaze of glory shows us they will be BETTER than “healed.”  They will be an eternal glory.

Since scripture is plain that we have been crucified WITH Him, our wounds will be there too.  But once we are His, whether we are crybabies, rebels, or addicts, we are IN Him FOREVER, wounds and all.  Safe.  Beloved.  WHITE in a blaze of light and glory just like Him!

No, doesn’t make THIS life easier to live.  But tells us the “why” and gives us the hope.  Our wounds are something we share with Him in glory.  And He promises to NEVER reject us.  No matter what.

**  **  **  **

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.   Galatians 2:20

For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.  Psalm 27:10

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. John 6:27

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Bad News, Good News

1af8fced686f03253410a8e53b202d25Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and  against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

    Bible doesn’t mince words, huh? We think that stuff is just for the movies. Not the “real world.” But apparently that IS the real world. Good vs. Evil. Just like The Matrix. Just like Lord of the Ring.

There is someone who hates you and wants to steal your soul. What? Too much? You might as well know. Whether you are so sure you have it all that you’ve quit looking. Or lost without hope in suffering. Someone hates you, envies you, wants to cheat God out of your eternal soul. You hear the whispers? The lies? Some of them embedded so deep you think they are part of you.

But wait. There is someone who loves you and wants you to live with them forever. Someone who knows all your dirty little secrets, knows what your heart really needs. Instead of the empty promises of money, food, sex, drugs, whatever you cling to. Shhhhh…listen. You are safe, you are loved, you are not alone. The tears were a gift, the Bad Thing not for nothing.

But you have to choose. You don’t have to change, try harder, clean up, or anything you don’t think you can do to measure up, deserve it, win that love. But you do have to choose. Go to the light. Or stay in the dark. Maybe you prefer the darkness, so familiar. But can you deny the hunger, the longing, that teasing hope that there is more to life? The nagging fear you are going to live forever with regret that you missed it?

The one who hates you lies to keep you in the dark. Without wings. Wounded or puffed up. Crippled in your soul. The one who loves you tells you the Truth…but only if you choose to hear it. The Truth does set you free. But first it make you crazy. Goes against everything the world has been telling you. Makes you a misfit on the spot. Calls you to choose the invisible God your soul craves and say no to the O so visible liars in the world.

If there was an easier way we would have found it by now, huh? We’ve tried everything we could get our hands on to be happy, haven’t we? Life made us crazy. Bad Things happened. Something keeps us frozen ever since. Tells you stories you believe, maybe even pass on. Your mind suffers. And your body. The other people in your life. Takes a bigger, better crazy to overcome all that. Takes the perfect Misfit, who knew you all along. Jesus. Murdered for preaching love and forgiveness. The world sure wasn’t having any of Him either. We are in good company.

Better to believe who He says we are than the labels the liars in the world tape to our backs. We are not what happened to us. Not the paralyzed body. Not the terrorized mind. Not the words the devil whispers, or fallen people call out loud. No. Not mistakes. Not ruined forever. Someone loves us. Knows our name. And our name is safe in His mouth.

“Who am I? Why am I here?” we wonder. And try on the labels, wear the hats, look everywhere for joy. And nothing fits until we find out who He says we are, who He created us to be. Find out how the suffering shapes our souls. How it is not for nothing. It is for everything.  He knows you. He loves you. He has a white stone for you, with your name on it. (Revelation 2:17) And, wherever you are, however you are…you are not alone.

There’s a reason you never believed God. You thought He was like everybody else. Waiting to tell you what you did wrong. Or worse. There’s a reason you never looked into the basement of your own soul. Afraid to turn the corner for the smell that wafted up the dark steps down. You knew you couldn’t face what you knew you couldn’t fix. You knew there was no one to love you, keep you safe, hold your hand, while facing the carnage there. Until now.

It made you crazy to stuff the Bad Thing down into the basement of your soul, keep it secret. Even science knows now–it changed your brain, your body. But science doesn’t have the Big Medicine to keep it from changing your soul. So, go crazy! Pry those secrets up out of there. Hold them up to the light. And let the light heal your soul. Watch the Bad News become the Good News. Believe.

That is the simple beauty and power of the gospel: we find out who we really are by discovering who the creator of the universe says we are. Him we might believe. His love never shames us.

And then miracles come. We learn to give what we never received. Love someone who is too wounded to love us back. Pray for someone who is too broken to ask. Give to someone who might hate us for our giving. No, we didn’t deserve the Bad Thing that happened to us. Neither do we deserve the grace that transforms it all.

The suffering. The grace. The glory. That is the holy journey.

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