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April is National Child Abuse Prevention & Sexual Assault Awareness Month
If you're anything like me you have keepsakes stored in a box. You know the whereabouts of the box. You know its contents are valuable. But true sentiment lies dormant until once again you hold near what is dear. The same is true for familiar Bible verses. We know where they are. We know they are meaningful. But until we "take them out of the box" we forget their sovereignty.
Today lets hold a keepsake up to the light and appreciate anew the brilliance of its promise and power.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; he has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison doors to those who are bound (Isaiah 61: 1).
I see four facets of a priceless jewel:
- Salvation- God sent His only Son to give us something we do not have to strive for--eternal life through the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.
- Healing- Christ desires to heal our broken hearts.
- Confession- Under no condemnation we are free to confess our destructive re-actions to betrayal and abuse. Here, survivors willingly embrace a journey where liberty is received over the emotions and destructive patterns that hold us captive.
- Reconciliation: We are pardoned for sins committed against God, neighbor, and self. Christ opens the prison doors of "those who are bound." In time, we are empowered to forgive as Jesus commands--from the heart.
As surely as Jesus commands that forgiveness come from the heart, He is intent on healing that same heart when it's too broken to forgive. Do you know what this means? It means that what happened to you matters a great deal to Him. But if you refuse to acknowledge the pain--and how you cope with it, you'll miss the beauty of this priceless truth. And the truth is, if Jesus appeared today He wouldn't be standing in a corner, tapping his foot, waiting for you to hurry up, and forgive. Can't forgive TODAY? Relax.
Just two days ago, I found myself weary and a little angry with God. When I mentioned this to two sister-friends a look of concern came over their faces as if to say, "You shouldn't be mad at God. It's irreverent." Without hesitation, I replied, "It's okay to be mad at God. He's big, and He can take it." My comment gave way to gentle smiles.
The light from each of the four facets of this priceless jewel pierces my weariness and exposes the source of my anger: lack of control. Always, always, a lack of control.
What do YOU see?
Published on Friday, April 24, 2020 @ 8:13 AM CDT
In 2003, my therapist said, "You must learn to counter your negative thoughts with positive thoughts." Similarly, my favorite author of women's Bible Studies encouraged me to "take my thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ" (2 Cor 10: 5). If memory serves, we were to re-wallpaper our minds with Scripture.
I tried to take my thoughts captive. But my thoughts were unruly and refused to submit. I didn't experience empowerment from either practice until I began to confess the contents of my heart. Why is confession so important? I've said it a million times. We cannot overcome what we deny.
I told God the truth. I told Him that I hated. Why I hated. How much I hated. Over time His steady presence transformed me--from the inside out.
A young man recently said to me, "I hate everyone. I don't know what's wrong with me. I pray and read my Bible daily. I ask God to please take my hate away, but everyday I wake up with hate." (I live for moments like this.) "Stop asking God to take your hate away and invite him into your hate."
Psalm 139: 22: "I hate them with perfect hatred . . . "
The first time I read this passage I about fell out of my chair. Hate can be perfected? There's a scripture for this? Being the book nerd that I am, I looked up the transliteration for perfect in Hebrew. (New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, Thomas Nelson, 2001)
#8503. Perfect / takliyth, tak-leeth; from #3615; completion; by impl. an extremity:--end, perfect (ion).
Divine Mercy perfects our hate. He searches our hearts and examines the cause(s) of our hate. I once hated everyone, and now I hate no one. What I hate is all manner of abuse.
Christ perfected my hate as I confessed day after day after day. Over time He disentangled me. He brought my destructive expressions of hate to completion and revealed a just cause.
Drop a few ice cubes inside a cup of boiling water and the temperature changes. Still, it's water. Hate is a God-given emotion. It is not a sin. Life and death hinges on how it is expressed (or suppressed).
Prayer: Jesus, I invite you into the center of my hate. "Search me and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting!" (Ps 139: 23-24)
How can Christ lead you out if you won't let him in?
Published on Thursday, April 16, 2020 @ 12:00 PM CDT