Archive for the ‘Emotional Healing’ Category

Businessman holding a paper with a prisoner behind the bars on i
Some prisons are invisible! I know because, although I have never committed a crime, nor have I ever been incarcerated, I have most assuredly felt the suffocating bondage of being imprisoned just the same.

In fact, my step-father even used the term “home prison” to describe an extended, and overly harsh, punishment for a minor violation of household rules which I committed at the ripe-old age of fifteen. For about six months I was not allowed to use the telephone, go anywhere by myself (not even outdoors for fresh air) nor visit with friends ˗not that I had any back then anyway. If that sounds like overkill to you, trust me, this kind of thing was fairly typical in my broken family.

This wasn’t my first “prison” though. Even as a child, I lived in great bondage: one of fear, doubt, humiliation and abuse. By the age of two, I was already, “damaged goods,” or so I was told. The more time passed, the more damaged I became until my only means of “escape” was to shut myself off from the rest of the world, both physically and emotionally. Of course I went to school, but that was just another prison ˗ different type, much larger. Children have a way of identifying, then assailing any other child who is weak and wounded, thus I was trapped -emotionally imprisoned- by their ridicule and torment day-after-day.

Many years later I had a miraculous encounter with my Savior, Jesus Christ [You can read about that here: His Invisible Hand] and I was truly free for a while. Even so, I would experience an entirely different kind of “prison” just a few years later, despite being a Christian.

Sitting in church one evening, long ago, my pastor made one of those sweeping comments from the pulpit that no one had ever experienced prison before and didn’t know what it was like to be locked-up, having no freedom. My body language told him I did, in fact, know that feeling; and he acknowledged my silent declaration with his own expression and slight head-shake. Clearly, he assumed I had been incarcerated in a literal prison, but as I stated previously, some prisons are invisible. Little did he know that, because of the repeated personal attacks against me and my family right there, in his cherished little church, I felt the pangs of bondage afresh; I felt imprisoned yet again, and my family had to flee from there. Thank the Lord we did! I am only sharing this because I feel someone needs to hear it. Some of you have likewise experienced hurt and bondage in the church and you need to know that you are not alone.

Before you start thinking I am slamming the church, however, let me assure you that I am not. Not every church is godly and not every person in them is a true Christian. (See this week’s Polished Pearls post). People can be deeply hurt in those flawed churches (even the good ones, for that matter), but even those kinds of wounds can be healed.

What I am proclaiming is this: God is still on the throne and He still SETS THE CAPTIVE FREE! It doesn’t matter what type your (invisible) prison is, our King has made a way of escape! (see postscript)

I have told many people over the years that if they could have seen the person I was before I came to know Jesus Christ as my Savior and compare that to the person I am now, they certainly would believe in God! Even a professed atheist would have to admit that the transformation in me was nothing short of a divine, miraculous intervention.

If only time allowed, I could share numerous testimonies of God’s miraculous intervention in the lives of others as well. I know of people who have, just this week, been healed of terminal illnesses, delivered from drugs, received much-needed funds, food and shelter, and the list goes on-and-on.

Every one of those situations was, for the person experiencing them, an invisible prison. Some never thought they would escape, but Jesus Christ showed-up and SET THE CAPTIVE FREE!

Dear friend, I don’t know what you are experiencing this week, nor do I know what challenges await you in future, but I do know there is an answer –His name is Jesus! Whether you steadfastly pray, or whether you have never prayed one single prayer in your life, I want to encourage you to call upon Jesus. He still answers prayers, and He is still performs miracles!

Finally, I want to share one more thing, because, again, I feel that someone needs to hear it. Several years after having accepted Jesus as my Savior I prayed and asked that all-too-familiar question: WHY? Why had He allowed me to suffer so much pain and trauma in my life. He never answered my question, but He did speak clearly: “I cried every tear with you.”

Dear reader, like me, you may never understand why certain things happened in your life; why God allowed you to go through certain difficulties, but you can be sure of this, you weren’t alone. The important question is not why certain things happened, but rather, are you willing accept God’s working in your life and trust Him no matter what. I truly hope you will.

“There is nothing a man can do to liberate himself if his time of divine liberation has not come. But when the time comes, nothing can stop it.” -B. Olurotimi


postscript:  This author is, in no way, suggesting that the Lord God  will miraculously release someone from a lawful incarceration.  Obviously He could (and did in times past for certain innocent Christians who were locked-up for no other reason than their faith in Jesus Christ), but God is as just as He is merciful, requiring mankind to be accountable for their actions.  If someone is incarcerated for their crimes, they should, and will, serve their sentence.  However, if they place their trust in Jesus Christ, and repent of their sins, He can give them a peace which passes all understanding, no matter how long they are incarcerated.  Moreover, Jesus can save, heal, and deliver from all emotional bondage any time, any place, even prison.

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I still had this idea that there was a whole world of marvelous golden people somewhere… Sort of heroic super-people, all of them beautiful and witty and calm and kind, and I always imagined that when I did find them I’d suddenly know that I Belonged among them, that I was one of them, that I’d been meant to be one of them all along, and everything in the meantime had been a mistake; and they’d know it too. I’d be like the ugly duckling among the swans.”
― Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road

As a child, all I wanted was to be loved by my parents and accepted by my peers. I tried in so many ways to make that happen, but my parents had their own issues and my classmates were just downright mean. If only I hadn’t been so desperate for acceptance at school, I might not have fallen so easily into the other kid’s traps.

Some of their taunts were less demeaning than others. The pencil incident might have fallen into this category, except that my foolish error earned me the nickname “Stubby” for most of fourth grade. As I said, kids can be mean.

Normally, I was suspicious when other kids showed an interest in me, but on that particular day, I totally dropped my guard when one of the really popular girls walked up to me and began chatting as though we were long-time buddies. I thought perhaps there were a few “golden people” after all. During the course of the conversation she asked me if I preferred long pencils or stubby ones. “Long,” I answered truthfully, “and very sharp.”

“Me too, she replied. “It looks like we have something in common after all.”

I stood there dumbfounded as she walked away, but I was happy.

Then the unthinkable happened; a second “golden girl” came up and began chatting with me also. I should’ve suspected something was amiss, but I was too busy basking in the moment. This girl also brought up the topic of pencils, but unlike the first, she volunteered that she loved writing with stubby pencils before asking me my preference.

It was very wrong of me, I know, but I wanted to have something in common with her too, so I assured her that I liked stubby pencils as well. “That’s what I thought,” she smugly barked, then walked away. My heart sank as the two girls started their confab, while shooting arrogant glances in my direction.  Naturally, they shared my indiscretion with all the other kids. They all sang their stinging words, “Liar, liar, pants on fire” and “Hey Stubby, got a pencil?”  until I was practically in tears and longed desperately to return to my invisible status.

Little did I know, but I was never invisible to the only one that mattered. Not only did He love me unconditionally, and accept me just as I was –lonely and broken- He loved me enough to lead me to a golden place when the time was right.

O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.
You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.
~~Psalm 139:1-18 NIV

To this day, I still don’t like stubby pencils. But I don’t keep a beautiful glass jar, full of long, sharp pencils, on my desktop because I have something to prove. They are there to remind me of the power of words. I guess that is one reason I still love the feeling of a pencil between my fingers. Every now and then, I pick-up one of my long, sharp pencils and think to myself, God loves me just as I am, and He has written me in His book.  And that, dear reader,  often inspires me to write words of encouragement to you.

I know that my words, in the midst of the psalmist’s are, as Mr. Yates penned, the ugly duckling among the swans.” Even so, I hope you were encouraged by them in some way.

Postscript: The opening quote from Revolutionary Road does not reflect an endorsement for Mr. Yates, nor his book.  Truthfully, I have never read the book and cannot, therefore, speak to its contents.  I merely stumbled upon the aforementioned quote and felt that it accurately described how I felt as a child, dreaming of far away places where people were kind and underdogs like myself would be accepted.  Mr. Yates’ book, as I understand, is a secular work with questionable themes.  So again, I am not endorsing His book by sharing this beautiful quote.

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Just past a golden cornfield in the middle of nowhere, lies a very quiet, obscure refuge. Though I haven’t been anywhere near the place for decades, it did serve me well during my dreadful teenage years. Life was very bleak back then, almost more than I could bear, so I was very thankful to have my own private “sump” to escape to.

The sump was really a drain-off ditch for the fields during the rainy season. Few people even realized it was there because it was carefully hidden behind a wind-breaking wall of trees. For most of the year, the interior of the sump looked like a dry creek bed strewn with a few fallen trees – those were my chairs, or airplane seats, or whatever else my imagination needed them to be at various times. I spent many hours alone in the sump contemplating the complexities of life or simply crying; it was very soothing. Had I known God back then, I would have spent many hours praying in the sump, but it would be many years before I would come to know Him. Still, looking back, I am certain that He was there with me in that place of refuge even though I was unaware.

Jesus, our Messiah, also understood the need for quiet refuge, especially to pray:

And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone (Matthew 14:23).

And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed (Luke 5:16).

There are several other Scriptures which indicate that it was Jesus’ habit to go off alone for quiet times of prayer, too many too include here. It seems to me that if the Son of God, Himself, understood the necessity of going off alone to pray, then we, in our human frailty, should do so all the more.

Dear reader, we live in a hustle and bustle world that pulls at us from every direction. It is so easy to become overwhelmed! May I encourage you to purpose in your heart to find more time to go off alone to contemplate life’s complexities, or even to cry if need be. I promise, however, you won’t be truly alone. The Lord, Jesus, will be with you even if you do not know Him yet. He longs to spend time with you and He will meet you there.

I also recommend that you go off occasionally and have some “me-time”  for no reason at all, at least sump-times. After all, there is nothing like a bit of quiet solitude to soothe and refresh one’s soul in a frenzied, hectic world.

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photo credit: alatoni.com

Black olives may not please everyone’s palate, but my family –half of us, anyway– devour them like candy. In fact, whenever we have a build your own pizza night, my daughter’s pizza is usually black when she pops it in the oven due to serious olive overload. I can’t say I blame her; I’m one of the other olive lovers.

You can only imagine how elated I was the first time I realized my relatives, who lived in Phoenix, had several black olive trees growing in their back yard. “Go ahead, eat as many as you want,” my cousin told me.

Anxiously, I bit into the first one with great expectation. But I spit it out with disgust. Unbeknownst to me, those pleasant-looking fruit are bitter enough to turn your teeth inside out –until they are cured in lye, that is. Yes, I said lye.

Do you have any idea how hazardous lye can be? It can cause chemical burns, scarring, blindness, or respiratory failure; and probably even death under certain circumstances. Yep, that sounds like the kind of substance we need to treat our food with (Uh- NOT). I was stunned further to learn that manufacturers use lye to treat several other foods as well. But let’s talk about olives for a moment.

Did you know that olives are really good for our bodies? Not only do they contain a fair amount of iron, vitamin E, copper (an essential mineral) and fiber, they also have phytonutrients,  the organic components of plants which promote human health. Olives are said to:

 Contain antioxidants to fight disease.
 Have anti-inflammatory properties.
 Help decrease high blood pressure.
 Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
 Lower bad cholesterol.
 and more

It really boggles my mind that something as caustic as lye can take the bitterness right out of the olive fruit. What astounds me even more is that the caustic attacks of other people can take the bitterness right out of us.

How? First we must understand that “The building of character is the most important business of life. It matters little what works a man may leave in the world; his real success is measured by what he has wrought along the years in his own being…. True character must be built after divine patterns…” J.R. Miller, 1894

Jesus Christ is our divine pattern. What did he teach?

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matthew 5:44).

Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which spitefully use you (Luke 6:28).

More profound still,  while Jesus Christ, who was falsely accused, was being led to Mount Calvary to face an unjust crucifixion, he demonstrated for us the most noble of character:

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth (Isaiah 53:7).

Why would the Son of God allow Himself to be beaten, spat upon, and ultimately murdered, without speaking one word in His own defense? It is because our Heavenly Father had a plan. Jesus Christ, our LORD and Savior, was absolutely perfect as both man and God. But with His every word and action, Jesus gave us a pattern of how to live so that we might be perfected into His own image.

However, we are mere mortal men and we fail. Sometimes we allow the unjust actions of others to cause bitterness deep within our hearts. It is in times like these, I believe, that God allows caustic men and women to “crucify” us so that we may be “cured” and our fruit (the fruit of the Spirit – Galatians 5:22-23) may be sweet.  And more importantly, so that this sweetened fruit may then be used as a catalyst to help heal the spiritual diseases of others.

Dear reader, the next time you or I encounter a caustic, abrasive person, let us remember the words of our precious LORD and pray for him (or her). And in so doing, may he or she see the character of God through us.

In closing, I offer this final thought; relationship battles can often be won through peace– I wouldn’t lie.

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Let’s be honest; too many personal questions can sometimes be annoying. My friend, Barbara, often answers them with one simple word –nunya. (Yep, that really is in the (urban) dictionary –I looked it up).

She and I are good friends, so she has never responded to any of my questions like that. In fact, the first time I heard her use that term; it caught me off guard because I had never heard it before. She explained, “When I feel that someone is asking me a question which is out of line, I lightheartedly reply, “Nunya” for short. She further clarified, “By that, I mean ‘It’s nunya business.”

That’s probably not a word I would ever use much, because my life is pretty much an open book. Having said that, let me tell you that yesterday was one of those days that I just wanted to put life on hold and spend the whole day communing with my Heavenly Father; so I did. Yes, I prayed for the needs of others, but mostly I just worshipped  the Lord, spending precious time in His presence off-and-on throughout the day. I can say with certainty that He was right there, surrounding me with His awesome presence, every single time I called upon His name. For that I am truly thankful.

One of the things that gripped me most yesterday was the gratitude  I felt  knowing that our Heavenly Father is ALWAYS available for us. It doesn’t matter if we just want to ‘sit on His lap’ and enjoy His presence, or if we have a dire need; He is always as close as the mention of His name.

Perhaps you, dear reader, have never really known that kind of relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. I want to encourage you that you can simply talk to Him as though He was standing right there beside you, and He will answer! I promise you, when you cry out, “Lord, where are you? I need you!” He will never reply “Nunya!” Instead, He will gently speak to your heart and say, “Here I am, my child!”

Even so, it is sometimes difficult to feel His presence. In His Word, Jesus assures us that He is always present, even though our own emotions hinder us from accepting that. During those times, it often feels that the Lord God is so far away that we must diligently search for Him. Even then, He promised: Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).

In this Scripture, the Lord God was speaking to the nation of Israel. They had turned their backs on Him, so He punished them by allowing them to be taken into captivity  in a foreign land. Yet, He was still in their midst all along, just waiting for them to call upon Him, so that they might be restored.

I thought about this over the weekend as I listened to a very sweet man share his testimony of how he first encountered Jesus Christ. This man had been told about Jesus, but he was reluctant to accept Him into his life because of his self-imposed belief that Jesus was surely angry at all the bad things he had done in his life, and was still doing (at that time).

Then one day, as this man sat in a bar, drunk, the Lord Jesus literally appeared to him in a vision. As the man recalled the face of Jesus, his own  face lit up with joy. “Jesus was not angry with me!” he said with a rapturous expression. “He was smiling! He loved me and I knew it.” “He was smiling at me,” he repeated.

What the man said next might be hard to believe for some of you, but it’s the truth. In that vision, Jesus told this man to stop drinking and never do it again. With that, the vision stopped and the man was completely sober– instantly! The friend seated next to him, also drunk, noticed this immediate change and asked what just happened. “I  saw Jesus!” he answered. Of course, his friend scoffed –-  until the very same thing happened to him, that is.

 I have no idea what  became of the second man, but the first man obeyed Jesus  and stopped drinking right then. And he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. This man now lives his life knowing with full certainty that his Heavenly Father is always with him, lovingly helping him through every day of his life.

Please understand; the Lord Jesus loves all of humanity and longs to be a vital part of every person’s life. When we know our relationship with God is not right, it is only natural to feel a sense of alienation. Never forget, however, that The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18 NIV). He longs to restore those whose relationship with Him is broken; and in His great, lovingkindness, He will be quick to answer those who call upon His name.

Finally, let me warn you that the adversary of humanity does not want you to be in communion with God. What of that? My advice to you is simply this: boldly tell that old devil –NUNYA!

Postscript: Thank you G.C. for sharing such a touching and remarkable testimony with us. May God continue to bless you and amaze you in ways you never dreamed possible!!!

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In memory of my dear friend, Shiela.

And, in tribute to all the faithful, loving pastors who really care about the hurting.


In the midst of frailty
Where the brier often grows,
God chose to lovingly restore
A beautiful, broken rose.

For her there was no sunshine;
She had known only rain.
Life’s storms had oft uprooted her,
And drenched her life with pain.

Thus, the rose was wilted;
Her natural luster had faded.
She thought her life to be a waste,
And her strength had been abated.

When she could no longer stand,
This rose crashed to the ground
Beneath the weight of her battles,
Which did so greatly abound.

She sought to find the answers
That would end her hellish war,
And give to her the kind of peace
We all are searching for.

At long last, she knelt and prayed,
Lest depression take its toll;
Until the soothing voice of God
Spoke life into her soul.

“Sheila, My child, I love you,”
He compassionately said.
“Your sufferings will come to an end;
There are brighter days ahead!”

“When you accepted me as Lord,
I forgave you of all your sin.
Now, I will fill you with inner peace,
And destroy the turmoil within.”

God spoke again to Sheila’s heart,
“I will send you a gentle pastor.
He will love you through each battle
And help your heart heal faster.”

He knew that Shiela needed support
In order for her to grow;
Until she reached the realms of glory
Where briers and weeds can’t go.

True to His Word, God sent a pastor
To embrace this broken rose,
And lead her back to the fertile garden
Where beauty and wisdom grows.

After only one brief chat with him,
Sheila knew she wasn’t alone
In her efforts to finally rid her life
Of all the weeds that had grown.

The pastor helped nourish her spirit,
And he lifted her always in prayer.
Sheila saw Jesus through him so oft,
She stopped yielding to hopeless despair.

Then, through her pastor’s guidance,
Which he offered with patience and grace;
Sheila understood God’s love and favor
Towards all those who seek His face.

She learned to believe God’s promises,
Of which she became quite zealous.
She clung to the life-giving words of God
Like the rose which clings to its trellis.

Though it took some time and trust,
Sheila was freed from all strife.
Her eyes then shone brightly with joy,
And peaceful contentment with life.

Unquestionably, Sheila had been restored,
And a lifetime of brokenness mended;
With the help of her faithful pastor,
Who loved her as God had intended.

No longer living in constant rain,
Shiela’s life reflected the Son
Until her radiant, inward beauty
Could be denied by none.

This rose had grown more beautiful
In the Master Gardner’s hand.
He then used her to touch others’ lives
In the many ways He planned.

Folks saw what God did for Shiela;
More than words can tell.
Thus, they were greatly encouraged
And turned to Him as well.

But alas, the beautiful rose has left.
She discarded her early vase.
In Heaven’s eternal garden,
She has gone to take her place.

Yet, Sheila will never be forgotten.
For the fragrance of God’s love,
Which flowed so freely through her,
Will linger with us, till we join her above.

To her faithful pastor,
And to all of her family and friends,
Sheila left a testimony of God’s healing
And of His love –a love which never ends!

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Let’s talk poop for a moment. Don’t worry; I won’t bother you with some boring scientific thesis on excrement —that would stink. However, l want to remind you that God has a way of growing roses out of manure.

This might seem an incredibly odd topic, but I honestly believe with all my heart that God has created our world in such a way that we may learn important lessons from everything in nature. From the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly, to the fiery eruptions of a volcano, we can see God’s intelligent design.

So it is with pasture muffins. An average man can walk through a pasture and see nothing but piles and piles of poo, whereas an insightful man might see acres of nutrient-rich plant food. It’s more than just a matter of pessimism versus optimism, though. It is a matter of understanding that God designed all things perfectly and He doesn’t consider anything to be waste. Thus, we may view the difficult circumstances of our lives to be as dung, but God looks upon them as nutrient-rich food for our spiritual growth.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

Furthermore, Scripture says God raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill (Psalms 113:7). If you keep reading, you’ll find He doesn’t stop there. After he raises us up, he makes ‘roses’ grow right out of the dunghills so that we can see his love, mercy and compassion in the midst of every trial and circumstance.

Naturally, when we see a rose, we tend to think only of God’s beautiful creation. It would be beneficial, however, to  remember that roses sometimes have thorns.  These serve as a reminder that we must not take His grace for granted.  If you handle a rose carelessly, it will prick you. Likewise, God has a way of “pricking” us if we become indifferent to His working in our lives.

The apostle Paul had a “thorn in the flesh.” He explained, “lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance… there was given to me a thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7). He goes on to explain that his “thorn in the flesh” was a “messenger of Satan” sent to buffet him. The word buffet means to contend against or battle. The Lord God, in His infinite wisdom, allowed this person to constantly buffet Paul in order to keep him humble, and never take his position for granted.

Sometimes our thorns serve to remind us that, in this world, our lives will always be a bittersweet mixture of beauty and pain. The apostle Peter said: Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy (I Peter 4:12,13).

As to Christ’s suffering, that brings me to another point; Even He experienced the stench of the dunghill.  That is to say, He was unjustly crucified at the place where all the “refuse” of society were taken to be executed —what a fitting place to defeat death.

Our Messiah willingly surrendered His life on Mount Calvary so that he could offer himself as the perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins and reconcile us to God. But when that battle was finished, He rose from the grave, having conquered sin and death.   Truly, when our Lord, Jesus Christ, said “It is finished!”  that awful dunghill lost its power.

So you see, even if this life is littered with pasture muffins along the way, it doesn’t matter.  If we have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice, He has already lifted us out of the dunghill.  And someday soon, we will go to live with Him eternally. There, our pastures, having already been fertilized by these earthly trials, will be full of roses without thorns. Nothing could ever be more beautiful than that.


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The only sign for miles read Welcome to Hickville –on both sides! Okay, so that’s not really the name of the town, but it really was that small and we were somewhat proud to be called hicks.

The only bank was an hour away if you drove, but very few people owned a vehicle back in the “olden days” when the town was founded. Back then, most folks kept their money in an old tin and buried their valuables in mason jars.

For whatever reason, a few of those hidden stashes were lost or forgotten until someone had the good fortune to find them. As the years passed, a few stories were told of some pretty awesome finds, but none quite as incredible as the $100,000 bonanza stashed in the wall of a dilapidated old farmhouse.

Neither of the two brothers that inherited their father’s property knew anything about the money. They were supposed to split the estate equally but no specifics were given as to how that should be done. Since it’s a little hard to cut a house and outbuildings in half, the elder brother –by right of the firstborn- chose the best fields for himself and allotted the younger son the entire homestead to make-up for the fact that his portion of the land was smaller and less favorable.

But the younger brother didn’t need another house and barn; he needed more farmland. Therefore, he and his family decided to raze all the buildings and plow the acreage (a really strong wind would’ve knocked it all down anyway). That’s when he realized just how green his new property was- $100,000 worth of green.

Though he would have preferred that no one find out about the cash, he really needed some new farm equipment, and that didn’t come cheap. As soon as he rolled into the fields with a brand new combine harvester equipped with all the doo-jiggers and thingamabobs a farmer could ever hope to have (yep, they have doo-jiggers in Hickville), his brother quickly learned that all those stories of hidden money were more than just old fireside tales from the past.

Speaking of the past, I was recently speaking with someone who doesn’t even want to hear the gospel message because she is still living in the bondage of past hurts. While I certainly understand why she feels that way, it is heartbreaking. If only she would tear down some of those walls and accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, He could heal that pain; I speak from experience.

This woman’s situation reminds me of the two brothers’ in some ways. They grew up in a house with all that money right under their noses and they never knew it. Why their father kept the knowledge of it ‘hidden’ is not certain, but he knew that they would eventually find that part of their inheritance, and when they did, it would completely change their lives. But first, they would have to tear down some walls.

Salvation, according to Scripture, is also an inheritance –one that is incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us (I Peter 1:4). But like the farmer’s inheritance, partially hidden behind a wall, the gospel is also “hidden.” 2 Corinthians 4:3 instructs that if the gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost. What does that mean? In a nutshell, it means that our human minds cannot truly comprehend the fullness of the gospel until we accept God’s free gift of salvation because it is spiritually discerned rather than intellectually. Salvation, therefore, requires a step of faith.

If you, dear reader, have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, there is no better time than the present. Perhaps you have a lot of past hurts and your life resembles that broken-down homestead -ready to topple. The Lord Jesus understands. He longs to help you tear down walls and raze everything that stands in the way of your salvation and all the benefits thereof; you need only to ask Him.

Once you do accept Jesus Christ as Lord, you have this assurance: if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17 –ASV).

I leave you with one more Scripture:

The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The decrees of the LORD are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
Psalms 19:7-10 NIV

Chances are you will never find any buried treasure (not even a stash of cash hidden in the walls), but if you will only submit your life to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, you will have inherited the greatest treasure that may ever be obtained –you can bank on that!

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What happened to spring? I guess I’ve been so busy with all the extra tasks of preparing for summer that it just crept up on me without noticing –until the blast of triple digits hit me in the face that is.

No matter how hot it gets though, I just can’t bring myself to use Chicken Poop™ on my lips. Granted, this oddly named lip balm doesn’t really contain any barnyard waste, but the name itself is a bit of a
turn-off. Obviously, you can’t judge a book by its cover but still….

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Although my face scrunches at the thought of putting Chicken Poop™ on my lips, I can’t help but enjoy the expressions on my dinner guests’ faces when they find out I use chicken feet in my matzah ball soup. Apparently, the thought of a chicken’s feet is nearly as distasteful as the thought of its poop.

So why use them? “Chicken feet – gnarly, repulsive and disturbing – make for the very best stock. Devoid of little else but tendons, bone and cartilage (sound appetizing yet?), chicken feet produce a fine golden broth that’s rich in all those obscure nutrients that make a good stock so nourishing: glucosamine chondroitin, collagen and trace minerals…” and “an excellent source of
calcium …” (Nourished Kitchen).

Additionally, chicken broth made with the feet is tastier! If you’re like most, that statement leaves you a bit skeptical, but the proof is in the pudding -or in this case the broth. You’ll have to try it for yourself. Most importantly, it is well-known that chicken broth has natural healing properties.

Today I plan to make soup for dinner because some members of my household are dealing with sinus infections and we always try the natural remedies first. However, we would be greatly amiss if we did not prioritize our healing efforts with the most natural and most essential medicine of all – the word of God.
Whenever anyone in my family is sick, I like to open the Bible and digest some “Gos-pills,” which is my pet term for all the Scriptures which promise physical healing -there are tons of them!

However, it is not only the healing scriptures that we must dwell on but rather the Bible as a whole. There is much instruction given for our spiritual health as well as our physical:

My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh (Proverbs 4:20-22).

The Bible is replete with God’s promise of healing-both spiritual and physical! Yet I know several people who claim they don’t read the Bible because it is nothing more than an unsavory list of “Thou shall not(s)!” While it is true that there are some of those in the Bible, there are also a lot of “Thou Shall” instructions also. Either way, some of these instructions are a bit like chicken feet – a bit repulsive to our way of thinking. Like chicken feet, however, many of these instructions are loaded with nourishment (for our souls.) Once we give them a try, we quickly learn that they are not as distasteful as we initially presumed; they are rather pleasing and satisfying instead.

I share this with you because like the Apostle John, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers (3 John 1:2). Dear reader, if you have hesitated to read the Bible because you are apprehensive about what might be in there, remember, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Having said that, maybe I should throw some Chicken Poop™ on these chapped lips after all, then go make that soup.

Postscript: In case you were wondering (I was), Chicken Poop™ is made of Soybean Oil, Beeswax, Jojoba Oil, Lavender Essential Oil, Sweet Orange Essential Oil –sounds like good stuff.

(1) Nourished Kitchen @ http://nourishedkitchen.com/ 30 November 2009

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The man was not home when they came to assassinate him for his faith in Jesus Christ, but his family was. Why they did not kill his wife is uncertain. Perhaps they thought it a far crueler “punishment” to kill his sons and force their mother to watch as they were shot to death by bullets which were far less steely than their own hearts. And so they did just that.

“When will you flee this place?” the woman was asked after this life-shattering tragedy.

“Not until I see God’s revenge on these men,” she answered. “These were my children; I changed their diapers I fed them and nurtured them. I loved them, and I had hopes that they would grow to be pastors or doctors; men who would help our people. And now, their lives have been cut off –they will never grow to be men.”

Concerned, her fellow Christian asked, “What do you mean by God’s revenge? What revenge?”

“I need God’s revenge!” she reiterated. “Please ask the churches to pray God’s revenge on these men that killed my sons — I need to see these men go to Heaven. I want the churches to pray for their salvation!”

Her statements seemed odd to me at first. Then I realized what she meant: our Lord said, Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” (Romans 12:19 NAS). This mother knew that God would avenge her sons’ blood and was therefore seeking mercy on their behalf. She had forgiven those men and prayed that God would as well. Like Jesus upon His cross of crucifixion, she was pleading, ‘Father, forgive them; they know not what they do!’ As I listened to this account of the persecuted church, the Lord spoke to my heart. “Would you – could you –forgive even this?”

I wanted to say, without hesitation, “Yes Lord!” But the truth is, I am not certain whether I could or not. One never knows what they will do in certain situations until faced with it. My childhood and adolescence was excruciatingly painful, yet I learned to completely forgive my tormenters. However, my own experiences pale in comparison to those of the persecuted church in other lands. How would I handle this kind of agony – the cold-blooded murder of my precious children? Could I truly forgive and ask that God’s revenge for them be salvation and eternal life in Heaven for their murderers? I pray so.

Then, I listened intently to the speaker’s own powerful testimony. He was born and raised in the same hate-riddled part of the world as this woman was. In fact, it was he who encouraged her to flee. He managed to do so himself, but not until he was imprisoned five times and inflicted with such inhumane tortures as being hung upside down, beaten with metal cable, and having boiling oil poured on his feet.

Yet he more than forgave –he learned to see them through God’s eyes and love them as He does! For the past thirty-plus years of his life, this man has been involved with an evangelistic ministry and continues to minister to the people in and around his homeland – even those barbaric non-believers who torture and kill Christians.

As he recounted his own sufferings, I couldn’t help but smile every time he said, “We must continue to have the faith of Jesus!” You see, with his still-thick accent, he pronounced the word faith as ‘face.’

Yes, my brother, we desperately need the face of Jesus! I was reminded, as he spoke, of Numbers 6:24-26: “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.”

It is only by the grace of God, by His countenance upon us, that we can ever find healing for a heart that has been shattered. It is only by forgiveness that we can find true peace. And it is only by loving our enemies that we can pray with utmost sincerity, ‘Forgive them Father; they know what they do.’

May we, the body of Christ, never forget to pray daily for the persecuted church AND for those who persecute us!

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