Run, Run, Run Away

…But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish.
Jonah 1:3

I will never forget the night that my parent’s car got stolen from a friend’s house. I was at a party and it was past my curfew. I walked out to the curb to get in the car. But to my horror, all I saw was an empty section of street where the car had been. I panicked!

My friend Lisa told me to call my parents to have them come pick me up. I was too scared to let them know that somehow I had let the car be stolen. Lisa kept insisting that I call my parents. And I kept getting more and more freaked out about the car being stolen.

So, I did what any crazy scared teenager would do, I ran away to the beach with a group of my friends.

I knew that Lisa was right, I needed to call my parents. However, I wanted to avoid that conflict at all costs. I went with the whole “out of sight, out of mind” idea by running away. Of course, all that really did was postpone the inevitable.

That stolen car incident was a foreshadowing of how I would cope with my emotional conflicts. I spent a good portion of my life engaged in emotional running away. I hated emotions. I did everything I could to avoid emotional conflict or feeling any kind of emotions. Being numb was my preferred state of being in my young adult years.

I spent a lot of money on drugs and alcohol to run away from my emotions. I spent a lot of time going from one relationship to the next to run away from my emotions. And I spent a lot of energy trying to find ways to run away from my emotions. Running away never set me free from my emotions it only made things worse.

The ironic thing about trying to run away from emotions is that you eventually run smack dab into an emotional firestorm. When this happens running away is no longer an option. Unless, you deal with the raging emotions you will be consumed by the very emotions you were trying to avoid.

Avoidance never solves any issue. In fact, it only prolongs the pain of your issue. Jonah’s avoidance forced him into a storm, to be swallowed by a large fish, and to be thrown up. And he still had to do what God asked him to do. Imagine if Jonah had simply gone to Nineveh to preach the message God had asked him to preach. He would have saved himself a lot time and not had to suffer through the consequences of his avoidance.

If you or a loved one are in the midst of emotional running away, I encourage you to come to the Glennon House for an individual prayer appointment. Let our trained Prayer Ministers help you stop running so that you can receive the healing God wants to do in you.

FYI: The “stolen car” was not stolen at all. My dad had taken it back to our house after I missed my curfew. If I had called my parents, I would have known that the car wasn’t stolen. I would have probably been grounded for only one week instead of two months. My running away to avoid telling my parents the car was stolen hadn’t even been necessary!

Spiritual Stroke

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come… 2Cor 5:17

Sixteen years ago, I had a stroke at the age of 32.

The Doctors told me that I was morbidly obese. I had to change the way I lived or I was setting myself up for another stroke. And there was a good chance, if I didn’t change my lifestyle, I would probably die.

For the first time in my life, I truly wanted to live. So, I made the commitment to change the food I ate and to begin to exercise. I had done every fad diet known to man. I had also tried every kind of new exercise program that hit the market. I always failed miserably at sticking to getting healthier. This time with my life on the line, I was determined to stick to this new healthy regimen.

Over the next couple of months, I ate healthy and began to take a Dancerize class at the local YMCA. I was dedicated to this new healthy lifestyle. I was proud of myself for sticking to my plan of becoming healthier. I thought these were the only changes I needed to make to become a new person. But God had a different plan.

One day, my Dancercize teacher walked into class with a handful of postcards. She passed them out to us. The post cards were for a “Healing Bible Study.” She said that we were all taking care of keeping our physical bodies healthy by dancing. Now it was time to get spiritually healthy as well. I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about, but I didn’t have many friends so I thought it would be a good way to meet people.

I discovered Jesus through that Bible Study.

I realized that sometime in my teenage years, I had a spiritual stroke. I chose to indulge in behaviors that pulled me farther and farther away from the Lord. As I turned away from Him, I turned towards a life full of sin and anguish. I became obsessed with instant gratification. If it felt good (making me forget all the pain) then I wanted it. And I wanted so much of it that I became morbidly obese and obsessed with pleasure. I lived to be high on the fake sense of happiness – avoiding the pain of reality at all costs.

I buried God in the recesses of my mind, ignoring His soft voice and His gentle guiding hand. I avoided any contact with God as much as possible. Out of sight – out of mind. That post card handed out by my Dancercize Teacher was God’s invitation to me to come back to Him.

While my physical body was healing and getting healthy, my spiritual life was an unhealthy mess. That Bible Study taught me that I needed to change the way I was living spiritually if I want to do more than survive this life. If I wanted to thrive (as God intended), I needed to become a new person spiritually. I need to eat healthy spiritual food (God’s Word ) and I needed to exercise my spiritual muscles (through fellowship with other Christians, Bible Studies, listening to Sermons, serving others, etc).

Becoming spiritually healthy and physically healthy is how God brought me back to wholeness. Having one without the other didn’t bring complete healing. God knew I needed both, so He showed me how to partner with Him to become whole again. I just had to do my part and God took care of the rest!

If you are looking for that first step to becoming healthier spiritually, I encourage you to join us at our weekly Tuesday Evening Healing Service. It is a great time for spiritual fellowship and getting fed spiritually through the sermons of gifted Teachers/Preachers.

Belief

Belief is half of all healing. Your belief is valuable, so you must be careful
where you put it and in whom.
Tree Monster ~ from A Monster Calls

A couple of weeks ago, I came across a movie on iTunes that piqued my interest. It was a movie about a young boy whose mom was battling cancer. Every night he had the same nightmare about her falling into a dark chasm. He always woke up in a cold sweat after her hand slipped out of his.

Then one night, he had a dream of a giant Tree Monster who told the boy that it was going to tell the youngster three tales. And then after the third tale, the Tree Monster wanted the boy to tell it what his nightmare was every night.monster calls

The Tree Monster was the one “person” that the boy felt safe talking to about his anger, fears, and pain in response to his mom’s illness. This creation of his imagination allowed him to express and process everything that he was bottling up inside.

After one of the Tree Monster and young boy’s conversations, the Tree Monster told him, “Belief is half of all healing. Your belief is valuable, so you must be careful where you put it and in whom.”

The truth in those words struck a chord in my heart.

I remember when I first came back to the Lord. I was struggling with multiple physical issues that the Doctor’s could not explain. None of my test results where conclusive, but the symptoms I was having were visibly apparent. The Doctor’s were stumped. And I was extremely frustrated and exhausted.

A well-meaning Christian friend kept quoting me this passage from Scripture, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21:22) Since I was a new Christian, I unfortunately interpreted my lack of healing being all my fault because I wasn’t believing enough. I became very angry with myself and my inability to believe for my healing. I felt guilty that once again I wasn’t perfect at something.

Thankfully, I was reading the Bible one day and stumbled across these words, “I believe, help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24 paraphrased) I began speaking that Scripture every time I started to blame myself for not believing for my healing enough. Whenever guilt would try to sneak in I would say those words out loud.

The more I said them, the more I came to realize that believing that God could/would heal me of what the Doctor’s couldn’t diagnose was just as important (if not more so) than believing for my healing. I had to believe that He was my Healer before I could receive the healing He wanted to give me.

As I continued praying to believe that God could/would heal me, I was referred to a Doctor who decided to run some more obscure tests to see if they would reveal some insight to what was causing my physical symptoms. And praise the Lord, these tests gave us some results that explained what was wrong. The Doctor was then able to offer up several available treatment plans.

What the Tree Monster said in the movie was true, Who we put our belief in is very important. Putting my belief in the Lord as my Healer brought me halfway to my healing. God then did the rest of the healing through the Doctor and the treatment plan.

If you need help to believe that God is your Healer and that He wants to heal you, I encourage you to come to the Glennon House for prayer. One of our trained Prayer Ministers would be honored to pray with you to come to know that God heals today just as He did over two thousand years ago.

Storms

Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”  “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong[c] wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
Matthew 14:28-30

Storms can be scary and they often demand our attention.

I have many memories of storms from when I was at Summer Camp in Maine. Up there winds would come charging across the lake forcing all of us to seek shelter in the big Dining Hall in the center of the camp. Once inside the walls, we would group together in different areas spread throughout the indoor space.

Some would be huddled close together with hands over their ears jumping at each clap of thunder. Some stood directly in front of the windows watching as the storm crashed its way across the lake onto land. And some completely ignored the storm just chattering away with each other.

I think a variety of reactions also occur when storms of life (e.g. a bad diagnosis from the doctor, the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, etc.) whip up around us.

For most of my life, I felt like I lived in a perpetual storm. It felt like I was constantly being buffeted by stormy winds. There was a lot of chaos and not very much peace at all. My reactions to the storms in my life varied depending on where I was emotionally and mentally when the storm hit.

Sometimes, I was mesmerized by the storm so I simply stood watching it come burdened by a sense of defeat. It was coming and there was nothing I could do about it. Other times I slapped my hands over my ears jumping at every little sound of thunder the storm brought with it. Hoping, that if I hid from the storm that it might ignore me completely and pass on by inflicting no damage. And finally, my last coping method was to completely ignore the existence of the storm. If I denied that there was a storm then I could just remain clueless to the storm’s destruction.

Well, I can tell you from experience. None of those worked!

Because they all have one thing in common, they give the storm the power. The storm remains in control in all of those situations. It wasn’t until I came to the Glennon House for inner healing that I realized that I was acting just like Peter. By looking at the storm instead of at Jesus, I was going to succumb to the storm’s power every time. There was always going to be chaos in my life if the storms were my focal point.

It has been a process of learning that when my focus is on the Lord, the storms can rage all around me, but they don’t affect my peace. It doesn’t matter if I get drenched by the storm or pounded by the waves I will still have peace in the midst of my life storm when my eyes remain on Jesus. I am by far not perfect in weathering storms yet. Like Peter, I still sometimes let my eyes wander to the storm which causes me to start sinking. The good news is that as soon as I cry out the Lord he rescues me from the storm’s clutches.

If you feel as if you are focusing on the storms in your life instead of the Lord. I encourage you to come to the Glennon House for prayer. Let Him help you to receive the peace that He has for you.

Perfectly Imperfect

God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God.  It’s not the result of anything you’ve done,
so no one can brag about it.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (GW)

Recently, I signed up for a portrait drawing class. This is way outside of my comfort zone. I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist. However, when it comes to drawing I don’t even come close to being perfect. So, for me this is quite the humbling creative experience.

For the very first lesson, the teacher instructed us to draw a portrait with our non-dominant hand. The results were quite humorous – to say the least. My drawing resembled the doodlings of a toddler. Then she instructed us to draw the same portrait with our dominant hand. I would really like to be able to tell you that there was a dramatic difference. Unfortunately, my portrait drawn with my dominant hand might actually have been worse than the one drawn with my non-dominant hand.

I was surprised that the lack of perfection in my artwork didn’t agitate me or make me decide to quit the class. I actually had the opposite reaction. I felt like all the pressure to perform perfectly had been lifted from my shoulders. I was now free to enjoy the class.
To listen. To watch. To learn. To create.

A majority of my life the drive to be perfect has stolen the joy out of many moments. In fact, I often didn’t even attempt to do things if I didn’t think that perfection would be the outcome. But my biggest perfection stumbling block was in my relationship with the Lord.

I bought into the lie that I had to be perfect before I could ask the Lord into my life. For years, I tried to get my act together in all areas. I kept saying, “Once I have _____________ fixed in my life. Then I can seek the Lord.”

That mentality doomed me to the perpetual cycle of always putting off starting a relationship with the Lord. In fact, if I had continued to believe that lie I still wouldn’t know Him at all! Thankfully, the Lord put a person in my path who showed me that God wanted “imperfect me” to seek out a relationship with Him. And technically, since I can never be perfect my waiting for perfection was a futile endeavor.

Once I decided to reach out to God, in the midst of my imperfect life, I discovered joy. The joy that comes from being loved unconditionally whether I am perfect or I am an imperfect mess. Jesus doesn’t need us to be perfect to be in relationship with Him. He simply needs us to humble ourselves by reaching out to Him even when we know we can’t be perfect.

It was a huge eye opener when I discovered that the Lord didn’t love me more when I was perfect and less when I was imperfect. For the first time in my life, I could be vulnerable in a relationship. All I had to do was reach out to the Lord and hold His hand as we walked through the imperfect mess that was my life. And the amazing part was that as I walked with the Lord He began to heal those areas in my life that were holding me back from the His joy.

Now that I don’t approach a relationship with the Lord wearing performance based blinders, I am free to be truly loved by Him. It is much easier to receive His love knowing that He loves me perfectly in my imperfection.

Course Change

But we Christians have no veil over our faces; we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us,
we become more and more like him.

2 Corinthians 3:18

Awhile ago, I was watching a Heartland episode where a small town, that was located beside a river, was destroyed during a flood. For the next several years, the town spent many man hours repairing the devastating damage that had been done and trying to salvage what was left of their homes and businesses.

After the flood, the course of the river had changed dramatically forcing the townspeople to work around the river’s new path through their town. Homes, stores, and restaurants had to be relocated along the new river bank. The town as they had known it ceased to exist.

They had two choices: to accept that their town had to be rebuilt to embrace the new path of the river or to give up by moving away.

I think that the same thing can happen to us as we walk through the days of our lives. For years, we walk along the same riverbank comfortable in the steps we are taking. Then we are suddenly hit by a devastating flood (e.g. the loss of a love one, the unexpected diagnosis of a disease, a life changing event, etc) that destroys our life as we know it.

That happened to me when I was 32 years old. I was walking along that same riverbank minding my own business when I had a Stroke. My life as I had known it ceased to exist. The course of my life had been changed dramatically.

I vividly remember the Doctors telling me that I had to change the way I was living or risk having another Stroke. In order to change, it was going to take some drastic measures and lots of hard work. I had two choices: to rebuild my life or to give up without even trying.

For the first time in my life, I wanted to live. I mean really live a life where I was fully engaged and fully alive. The day I decided that was the day that my life as I had known it for thirty-two years ceased to exist.

Rebuilding my life has been a process. There have been productive times and some not so productive times. Some days it is easy to embrace the new path my life is on and other days it seems like an uphill battle. But it is knowing that the Lord is walking beside me as I take each step that encourages me not to give up.

While the Stroke was an awful ordeal it ultimately led to my freedom and healing. Prior to having a stroke I was on medications for bi-polar disorder, depression, anxiety , and panic attacks. Now I am no longer on those same medications. Prior to having the Stroke, I had never had a job for longer than two years. Now I have been in the same job for thirteen and a half years. Prior to the Stroke, I had never been able to maintain a relationship. Now I am engaged to be married.

In life, we can’t always control the floods that come our way, but we can choose how we will react in the aftermath of them. If you have recently experienced a life altering flood in your life or are experiencing one now please come to the Glennon House for prayer. Let one of our trained Prayer Ministers walk beside you as you rebuild your life in the aftermath of the flood.

The Art of Grumbling and Complaining

Oh Lord, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning.
Listen to my cry for help, my King and My God.
Psalm 5:1-2a

At last evening’s Healing Service, Pastor Steve gave a wonderful sermon about the Biblical basis for grumbling and complaining. I think it caused quite a stir for many of those in attendance. It isn’t often that you hear a Priest speak about it being okay for Christians to grumble and complain to the Lord.

In fact, for years I thought it was taboo for a Christian to even think, much less verbalize, about grumbling and complaining to the Lord. Because I was under the impression that when I accepted Jesus into my life all the bad stuff would miraculously disappear. And if I even acknowledged, for a moment, that there was something in my life that wasn’t perfect then I must not have enough faith. That is a terrible burden to put on oneself!

For a majority of my life, I kept my emotions bottled up inside of me. To me showing emotions was a sign of weakness. If anyone could see my emotional response to a circumstance then I felt like I had given them the upper hand. If I gave them the upper hand then they had the power to hurt me. So, I refused to even acknowledge that I had emotions.

Having no healthy outlet to express my emotions led to me directing all my anger and frustration at myself. I had the art of self-loathing perfected. When the anger/frustration built up to the exploding point I had no choice but to react.

Those emotional explosions lead me to cutting myself, punching myself, and burning myself with cigarettes. The horrible physical pain I felt from those emotion driven acts gave me the false sense of freedom from being strangled by anger/frustration. The self-inflicted violence was my way of giving voice to the torture I was experiencing inside.

I sometimes wish I had known then what I know now.

God’s greatest desire is for us to be in relationship with Him. He created us with emotions. Emotions that He knew might some days get the better of us, but that could also allow us to fall madly in love with Him. I can’t believe that He wouldn’t have given us those emotions if He didn’t want us to express to Him their full range. It is in our moments of emotional vulnerability that we often draw the closest to Him.

I know now that it broke God’s heart to watch me suffer silently – never verbalizing my pain. I can’t tell you how many Christians God put in my path during those dark years. It was His way of trying to save me from myself. I was awestruck at the way they had peace during the worst of circumstances. Time and time again they told me that a relationship with the Lord was what got them through it all. That being able to cry out to Him with all their anger and pain was what enabled them to deal with all the bad things going on in their lives.

Well when I finally did get into a relationship with Him, I had a hard time breaking my past cycle of bottling up all my emotions. It wasn’t until I began reading the Psalms that I realized that it was okay, actually it was healthy and good, to be completely open emotionally with God. The Psalmists grumbled, they complained, they cursed their enemies, they yelled at God, and they bawled their hearts out. They ran the gamut of emotions that dwell in every human. And then at the end of their lament they praised the Lord. It was like they vomited out all the negative emotions so that there was room for the Lord to heal them through their praising Him. They found their freedom in expressing all of their emotions…the good, the bad, and the ugly.

If you have been bottling up your emotions, I encourage you to come to the Glennon House for an appointment with our trained Prayer Ministers. They will stand beside you as your grumble, complain, cry, yell, and praise the Lord as He sets you free and heals you.

Listen, Love, and Pray