Raw and Real

24 08 2015

To know that we’re loved by God with the same love as His love for Jesus is amazing; heartwarming; unless…

…you’ve been abused most of your life…

…and you believe that God punished Jesus in your place;

that all Christ endured was God’s ‘heart’ for you.

He hated you that much.

Aren’t you so thankful that Jesus took the hit for you?

Don’t you want to become one of God’s children too?

Strong words?

Yes. I cringe as I type, for this is completely untrue.

Yet, I see that this is the ‘gospel’ most of us believe; is the reason why some Christians protest abortion clinics and homosexuality and other behaviors to which God is opposed by screaming curses and spewing hateful labels at those who participate.

‘Without Jesus’, they deserve wrath…ours, apparently.

In the loving name of Jesus, amen, of course.

(This is NOT my approval of their ungodly acts – just a comment about our ungodly treatment of them.)

I had many questions for God last year. Ones to which I needed answers if I was to continue in the faith. It was really messy, so I ‘unplugged’ from WordPress to spare you.

Utterly fed up with abuse of any sort, I was ready to ‘dump God’ as the worst abuser of them all.

Hell sounded pretty good: sure, it’s hot, dark, worms never die…but you are alone. At least I wouldn’t be mistreated by others anymore.

Jeremiah 29:13 reads, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

It was the ‘all my heart’ bit that got me into trouble.

Yes, His Spirit was dwelling in me, but it was ‘Standing Room Only.’ There was a crowd of ‘witnesses’ hanging out in there as well. People from my past whose words ‘dwelt richly in me’ – words I believed with all my heart:

Stupid, worthless, fat, ugly, lazy, ridiculous, good-for-nothing, inadequate, unwanted, unlovable, and many that I won’t type so as to not offend you. Their voices were so loud that I could barely hear the Spirit speak.

(Through the process of forgiving, most of them have been evicted this year. I’m doing much better. Hearing the Lord much better, too. 😉 )

If you tell a person who’s been abused that the cross was God taking out His wrath for us – on His beloved Son – they’re not going to want to ‘join your club.’

Just sayin’.

After all, children, believe that parents love. Everyone knows that.

The abused child assumes that this is what love does: Dad’s angry about an infraction of his laws. Mom interferes, deflecting Dad’s anger and receives what was about to be unleashed on him or her.

Which sounds a lot like what God’s love ‘did’ to Jesus…

…the innocent suffering wrath that was meant for us.

(Yes, this is what the mind of an abused person does with the ‘Good News.’)

Is this what we really believe about God?

More importantly, is it even true?

Have I rattled your cage? If this is the god you believe in, I sincerely hope so.

We will seek Him – and find Him – when we search for Him with all our heart.


My next post will be a re-blog by Mel Wilde. It turns out, I’m not the only one on this quest. Being further along on the journey, he is better able to articulate what God has also been revealing to him. It was exciting to discover that what God was showing me, He is also revealing to others, and independent of others. Mel is one of many, I’ve learned!

For a more thorough, scholarly treatment of this subject, I highly recommend Healing the Gospel by Derek Flood.

A “Near-Life” Experience

12 05 2014

This is a season of  being transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2). The Lord has been challenging much of what I used to believe, and correcting my somewhat faulty paradigm. It will be a while before I can share how he’s been doing this, so if my stories seem a little vague, now you know why!

However, the latest one – about eternity – involves no one else. I can tell all!

This paradigm shift thing is kind of funny, for some of the changes (like unconditional love) make my mind feel like it’s being twisted into a huge knot. In truth, though, it is being untwisted and set straight.

That God is doing so is comical, for my most frequent prayer concerning other issues is that the Lord would make the crooked places straight, rough places smooth, and for truth to be revealed…and this prayer hasn’t been for me personally, but for others! While typing out this post, I just made this connection. He’s been doing this in me, too. Very cool!

Let’s get back to eternity.

It does not begin the day I die, as I previously believed. Jesus said it this way:

This is eternal life, that they know You, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (Jn. 17:3)

In other words, with Jesus as my Lord, and in relationship with Him and the Father (and the Spirit, of course, who lives within me), this is eternal life. I’m living it!

Sure, for now it’s on a broken planet that’s still under the rule of the enemy, but my eternal life is well underway!

Further, Jesus said He came to give life – and that abundantly.

He meant here and now, not in the sweet by and by.

Sadly, I’ve spent almost a half a century gutting it out, hoping to endure to the end – to drag myself across the finish line of life so I could get to the “good stuff”

…and discovered that “life piled on life” is ours to enjoy right now – today!

Somehow, we’ve accepted the idea that we will live in heaven forever. A careful look at Scripture will reveal that our goal is not to “get up to heaven;” it is for us to live in such a way that we get heaven happening down here. Don’t we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven?”

Further, there will be a new heaven and a new earth, and God will dwell with us here – not in heaven, as I previously believed.

I mean, I’ve been trying to get through this life, hoping it would end soon so I could “get up” to heaven.

If God intended for us to live in heaven, He would have placed us in heaven and skipped the whole “earth” thing, wouldn’t He? I do not believe that earth was created as a waiting room – a proving ground of sorts – to see who could qualify for a heavenly home.

If this were the case, it certainly wouldn’t be fair. Since those who are under the age of accountability go directly to be with the Lord upon their death, it seems that heaven’s inhabitants are largely aborted babies. They didn’t have to prove anything to gain entrance to heaven!

The Tower of Babel was an example of man trying to “get up” to heaven. It ended in division – language was confused, and distrust set in.

This still happens today. Why are we upset when people around us speak in a foreign language? At its core, we feel threatened because we don’t know what they are saying. “Are they talking about me?”

When heaven came down to earth at Pentecost by way of the Spirit, however, the result was unity!

One God, one Spirit, one Lord. We have a common language. Some refer to it as “Christianese” or “Biblespeak.” Our vocabulary changed when we became disciples. I experience this when I travel and join other believers for worship – whether here in the states or in another country. It’s a wonderful thing!

Heaven came to earth in Jesus Christ. He’s seated on His throne right now, but we, His body, are here to represent Him. Through us, heaven can still impact this world if we abide in Him. We are to be bearers of the Good News that reconciliation with God is possible now.

If the Kingdom of God is within us, and we are God’s tabernacle (the original of which is in heaven), then we can indeed experience heaven here on earth. Between this life and the new heaven and earth, we will be with the Lord in heaven, but it’s not our permanent dwelling place.

The abundant life of which Jesus spoke is available to us here and now, not after we die.

Hope is a “now” word – not just a “on that great day” word.

Fellowship with Him is meant to be now, as well. Although we only see through a glass darkly, we see His effects around us, in the same way as we see the effects of the wind, but cannot see the wind itself.

At this point, I realize that I don’t need a “near-death” experience to give me hope.

What I desperately need is a “near-life” experience!


Thanks for listening while I try to work this all out on “paper.” 🙂 It’s in its infancy yet, so kind comments are appreciated.

For more discussion on this topic, visit:

Wow! Just Wow!

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor…

9 12 2013

I’m dying.

Physically, sure…the same as everyone else in the world.

The stats are in, and the death toll is 100%.

No one gets out of this alive. 😉

But that’s not the death to which I refer. In some ways, I wish it were!

No, this is the death of my ego. The Bible calls it “dying to self,” and it is a very slow and extremely painful process for me, worse than any disease I can think of.

My body doesn’t hurt (other than the usual aches and pains that come with aging), but my heart is a raw and bloody mess. It hurts to the point of withdrawing from people and lashing out at those closest to me (if I’m not careful).

I asked for this!

It started with a grave I dug for myself in the back yard. You can read about it here.

Why would I do such a thing? To quote John the Baptist,

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Are you in this place, too? Are you being overlooked, rejected, dismissed, or feel like you don’t “measure up?”

I have a Word for you:


The idea conveyed in this word is that of being selected as having great value…enough that One was willing to pay a great price to obtain the desired object.

“YOU were bought at a great price!”

Chosen before the foundation of the world – in spite of every evil you would ever (or have yet to) commit (Ephesians 1:4).

Chosen to be conformed into the image of the Son (Romans 8:29).

Chosen to be a royal priesthood, to proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9)

Chosen, not because of your usefulness, but because you are loved! (1 John 4:19)

You see, you weren’t “picked” by God to fill out His team…because He “needed” a  star pitcher or even a water boy.

God needs nothing – and no one.

Not you.

Not me.

He chose you simply because He loves you…

Right here.

Right now.

Right where you are

– wherever that may be in your walk with Him.

People may not pick you to be on their side. You may be judged “not good enough” for their use…

But God chose you.

People may abandon you, reject you, or betray you…

But God chose you.

People may use you up, then spit you out when you’ve outlived your “usefulness” in their pursuits…

But God chose you.


To live in a fallen world with fallen people is hard. We must remember that there’s still much of the “old man” within ourselves as well. Times of refining are necessary to bring hurtful attitudes and faulty beliefs to the surface where they can be removed.

To be excluded, overlooked, or rejected hurts deeply…if our identity is in who we are, and what we have to offer the world.

Reality check:

The gates of heaven will not swing open at the mention of my name.

Um…nor with yours!

We can’t promote Jesus and ourselves at the same time. Only one of us is visible at any given moment. Whom do I want to make known?

My head wants Jesus to get the glory, my heart, deep down, wants me to be the centerpiece. Too much of me remains yet – hence this time of refining.

I wonder…could this be at the core of what you’re going through as well?

If so, take heart. It doesn’t last forever. In the meantime, listen closely. When you’re overlooked by people, God whispers:

“I chose you.”

When your’re rejected,

“But I chose you.”

When folks judge us to be inadequate, inept, or useless, you must remember His words:

“I chose you…

…because I love you.”

Chosen…what a beautiful word!

A Clogged Conduit

25 11 2013

(Note: This is a two-part post. If the first bit doesn’t pertain to you, the second half will…don’t miss it.)

When it comes to intimacy with God, it must be made clear that first we must have a relationship with Him.

Being merely “religious” doesn’t count: faithful church attendance…charitable acts…being nice.

These are all good things, but without ever coming face to face with our need for a Savior, they profit us nothing.

Sin – our inability to be perfect – is a very big problem when it comes to having a relationship with God. It was one we couldn’t fix. It took Jesus, who came to earth as a baby, lived a perfect life, and was put to death on the cross to bring reconciliation.

While on the cross He stated, “It is finished.”

Nothing more is needed on God’s part in order for us to commune with Him.

It didn’t end there, though. He rose from the grave, having overcome death. A few weeks later, He lifted off the planet and returned to heaven where He lives today.

The Bible calls Him the “prototokis” among many brethren…the “prototype,” or model of what is available to all who choose to follow Him. It is His life after death that gives us hope. He is, for those who have accepted His pardon, the true “Fountain of Youth.”

If there was another way for mankind to be reunited with God, then Jesus’ death was for nothing.

To those who have not made this important first step, very little that is written about “life with Christ” will makes sense. It sounds like a fairy tale, and those who “buy into it” will seem deluded to the extreme!

The Bible is like a true hologram. It was created by a unique Light. To the naked eye, it appears to be nothing more than a bit of gray film. Illuminated by any other light, it remains a bit of plastic – and nothing of the image can be seen.

However, when it is illuminated by the Light that created it, the Book comes to visible and understandable.

If the Bible is nothing but a dusty old book, full of ancient history, then ask God to shed His Light on it…to reveal what can’t be understood apart from His illumination.

Go ahead, take a risk and ask God to reveal Himself. If He truly does not exist, then nothing will come of it; Christians can be written off as a bunch of nuts, and time (of which there is a limited quantity if there really is no God) can be spent doing happier things than having frustrating arguments with the “deluded” about their beliefs!


For the child of God, sin is not an obstacle to our walk with the Lord, but…

unconfessed sin is a major barrier. 

When Jesus called out, “It is finished,” He used an accounting term. You’ve probably heard this before, but it bears repeating. Translated to English, His words were:

“Paid In Full!”

It is this statement that makes all our efforts to “earn” the right to come close to God ludicrous. Jesus bought an “All Access Pass” for those who will accept it. We are free to come boldly to His throne for grace and mercy…and a whole lot more!

The purpose of the cross is to provide intimacy with God.

However, when we regard iniquity in our heart, the Lord will not hear us (Psalm 66:18). Think of it this way:

Good parents love their children. Affection flows freely, and there is peace between parent and child…

Until the the child disobeys or rebels.

This causes a rift in their relationship that remains so long as little Johnny refuses to “come clean.” He still wants the cuddles, the laughter, the uninhibited communion with his parents, but instead hides in his room.

Love does not cease, but closeness is affected.

Until he is willing to admit his fault, this break in their relationship will continue.

In the same way, we – God’s children – do the same thing. We judge (with an intent to condemn), we lie, cheat, steal, hate, or gossip.

Then we sense distance between our Father and us. We may have chosen to distance ourselves so He can’t “see” what we’re doing. (Really??!)

When we finally “come clean” – by which I mean agree with God that what we did was wrong – we are instantly forgiven, and the relationship is restored.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9)

Note that great acts of charitable deeds are NOT demanded for penance. A simple, “I’m sorry I did ___________ (fill in the blank)” is sufficient. There is no punishment to endure…Jesus was punished on our behalf.

There may be consequences of the choice we made to sin…and we may have to live with those consequences for many years. The principle of “sowing and reaping” is not always suspended. I’ve lived with the unpleasant results of choices I made thirty years ago…and so have my (now) grown children. 😦

In some cases, like divorce and remarriage, God could not remove the consequences of our actions without wiping out our ex’s entire family, for they didn’t cease to exist the day the divorce was final (no matter how much we wish they had).

It wasn’t just the former spouse and our children that were affected, but another entire family as well. Divorce may be the end of one set of problems, but it’s the beginning of a whole new set!

There is no “undo” for this choice. This is discipline enough. (Note that this is training – not a beating!)

Simple confession is enough to clear the air between God and us.

Father, is there anything I need to confess in order for our relationship to grow?

Search me, O God, and know my heart

Try me and know my thoughts

See if there be any hurtful way in me

And lead me in the everlasting way.

Psalm 139:23-24


We’re discussing obstacles to intimacy with God. It begins with: C’mon In…

Week two begins with: Where Image Is Everything

Free Indeed!

23 11 2013

In Breaking Free we left off the discussion with the need to examine our thoughts.

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

The first area we need to focus on is our beliefs about God Himself.

He described Himself to Moses in Exodus 34:6-7:

“The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin;

“yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”

Is this how you would describe God? Do you know Him to be compassionate, gracious,   s – l – o – w to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness?

Or do you see yourself in the second phrase…punished?

A word about the “visiting” going on here: think sowing and reaping…

Children learn what they live;

Children live what they learn.

Some refer to this as “generational bondage.” The grown children continuing in the footsteps of their parents. This is not set in stone. New behavior can be learned! The next generation can have a fresh start!

If we don’t think very kindly of God, we’re not likely to move closer to Him.

Hear the words of our Lord:

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip?

He who has seen Me has seen the Father;

so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

It is safe to say that to the extent that there is a discrepancy between what we believe about God and what we believe about Jesus, there are lies embedded in our minds. These need to be “taken captive,” and replaced with Truth.

The time has come, the kingdom is near.

Repent and believe the Good News. (Mark 1:14-15)

We can ask the Holy Spirit to reveal lies that we believe about God our Father, and about Jesus.

This is one prayer that will be answered with a resounding YES – every time!

Having repented of trying to earn God’s favor through our actions, and asked for help in routing the lies we believe (then replacing them with Truth), we can enter into His rest.


Mmmm. What a wonderful word. It is accompanied by other equally wonderful words: serenity and peace. Check out Hebrews 4:10:

“For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.”

This rest referred to here is from works for salvation. Jesus said,

“It is finished.”

There remains nothing more for us to do concerning salvation.

This is not to be confused with the “good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” from Ephesians 2:10.

Our work is not over…but it’s not for salvation, but rather because of our salvation.

Isn’t it exciting to know that the God of the Universe is asking us to join Him in His work as He reaches out to those who are lost and without hope? This is not a burden, but rather a privilege!

He could do this by Himself, but chooses to let us, His little children, come “help carry the suitcase.”

His purpose?

To reward us!

Have you ever done this with a little child? They want so much to help us do something that is far beyond their ability. With tender hearts, we invite them to place their hand on ours while we do the thing. When the task is completed, we reward their “work” with praise…and sometimes an ice cream cone!

God is our Good Father! 

(Do we understand this?)

Let’s end this week’s study with these wonderful words from the Bible:

My son/daughter! You are always with me, and everything I have is yours! – Luke 15:31

My grace is sufficent for you. My power is made perfect in weakness. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. – 2 Peter 1:3

We will never become gracious people if we do not receive the grace of God for ourselves. By that I mean if we are striving to earn anything from God, we will, in turn, demand that others strive to earn love, acceptance, and favor from us. We force them into a bondage that we, ourselves hate.

We have been given the key that unlocks every shackle. Let’s ask for sight to see the prisoners that surround us – and the mercy, grace, and love to share what we have been so freely given.

Oh, the joy of being free at last!


This series is on Overcoming Obstacles to Intimacy with God. It begins here: C’mon In…