Posted in Christian, Healing

The Shell Game

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along
the path of everlasting life.
Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT)

Most of you are probably familiar with a magic trick/grifter con called ‘The Shell Game’. Simply put: A man places three upside-down plastic cups on a table. He puts a small ball under one of the cups, then quickly shuffles them around and around. The ultimate challenge is to guess which of the three cups contains the hidden ball.

Usually it isn’t too hard to guess where the ball is hidden, particularly if the trick is being performed by an amateur who keeps unconsciously glancing at the cup hiding the ball. But if the magician is skilled, it is nearly impossible to tell exactly which cup contains the ball.

I’m bringing this up because I think many of us ‘shuffle the cups’ to hide little balls of shame in our lives.

Sometimes it’s a silly thing, like the new wife who spends the first few months of her marriage scooping grocery bought food into her own dishes because she doesn’t want her husband to know she can’t cook. Sometimes it’s anything but silly, like the man who spends his evenings drinking in secret, but tells his distraught wife that she’s the one with the problem, not him. But, big or small, we all have our ‘shuffled shames’ that we try to hide with philosophical and spiritual sleight of hand. And, big or small, if left hidden they can destroy you.

One of the most freeing things to do is to confess your ‘shuffled shame’ to a trusted Christian friend. However, sometimes such friends aren’t available. Or maybe your shames are too huge and frightening to put into words. Or we’ve hidden those shames so well that even we don’t recall where they are. But God always knows what’s hidden under our ‘shuffled cups’. Our Father sees all, and He loves us in spite of them. He died on the cross to pay for every one of those hidden shames. He rose from the dead to show us we did not have to fear them.

Are you concealing a secret shame that is warping your life? If so, know that you are not alone, and that the Lord still loves you. There is no secret so shameful that Jesus cannot forgive it. Confess to a trusted friend, or to one of the Prayer Ministers at the Glennon House. Please don’t settle for a life lived in fear of someone guessing which plastic cup hides the ball.

Don’t waste another day of your precious life playing ‘The Shell Game’.

Posted in Christian, Healing

Splashes of Color

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
John 1:5

For most of my adolescent and young adult years, I was plagued by overwhelming depression. I spent many days burrowed in my bed only leaving to eat and use the restroom. I existed in an almost catatonic state during my seasons of depression. I felt smothered as if there was a dark cloud pressing down on me.

Depression painted my life in monochromatic hues. Each day appeared the same, dull and lifeless.

However, in the darkest hours of my debilitating depression splashes of color would emerge in my peripheral vision. These were people who weren’t simply trying to survive each day, but were thriving in the midst of darkness. There was something amazingly different about these people who brought color with them everywhere they went. When I was around them, I wanted to be like them. For that brief instant, I saw the world around me in beautiful colors. But as soon as they left my depression haze settled upon my life again.

In College, one of these “technicolored” people lived two doors down from me. We went to the same school, had several of the same friends, lived in the same complex, but she was completely different from all of us. At parties, we were all drowning are pain and sorrow with the consumption of alcohol and drugs. She was at parties as the Designated Driver to make sure we all got home safely. Her splashes of color gave me hope during some of my darkest hours.

I will never forget the rainbow of colors that accompanied one friend who simply sat quietly with me while I had one panic attack after another. She didn’t have the words to comfort me, but she sat next to me for hours quietly offering me support by simply being there with me. Her love for me chased away the panic for several hours that day.

As I look back at those wonderful “technicolored” people, I realize now that God sent them into my life to bring His color of love to me during some of the darkest hours of my life. When my life was the most dull and lifeless, He reached out to me through those amazing women to show me what His love looked like – vibrant , colorful, alive! I desperately wanted what those women had.

I wanted to thrive, not just survive. And thanks to God’s love and healing, I am!

If you or a loved one feel trapped in depression or anything else that is pressing down on you please come by the Glennon House for prayer with one of our Trained Prayer Ministers. Let God’s love show you what it looks like to be fully alive and free! So that you can be the splash of color in someone else’s darkness as you let God’s love shine through you.

Posted in Christian, Healing

A Handful of Dust

“I am ignored as if I were dead,
     as if I were a broken pot.”
Psalm 31:12 (NLT)

Have you ever been broken? I mean the kind of broken when you’re an old clay pot that’s been tossed into the middle of a six-lane highway? Initially you’d crack on impact, but you could still be pieced back together with a couple of tubes of crazy glue. You can still be useful. You can still be fixed.
But imagine you are lying out there in the middle of the highway for days or weeks or years. Imagine you’ve been run over by countless cars and crunched down by sixteen-wheelers. By that time, you are not even recognizable as a pot anymore. You’ve been ground down to a handful of dust in the middle of the highway, so much so that you can’t even recognize that you were once a pot. You can’t be fixed anymore because there’s nothing left to fix.

THAT kind of broken.

Many people, including good Christians, live in this kind of ‘broken’ every day. Outside they may seem perfectly okay, a kind of ‘high functioning’ handful of dust. They may even be able to glue a few of the larger pieces together and claim that they have been ‘fixed’. But trouble comes when they get run over again. And again. The glue doesn’t hold. The shards fall apart. And the poor little pot is more broken then ever.

But here’s the thing. Jesus didn’t come to fix broken things. Even when He was doing His miracles, He wasn’t taking the existing things and just patching them up. He didn’t go to the crippled man, and hand him crutches. He didn’t go into Lazarus’ tomb carrying a nice burial cloth. He didn’t die on the cross to leave us a really nifty philosophy.

Christ doesn’t fix broken pots. He redeems them. In Revelations 21:5, He didn’t say, “I will fix this world.” He said “Look, I am making everything new!”
But back to the road analogy. Perhaps you think you are too broken to be redeemed. Perhaps you believe that, since you are reduced to a handful of dust, there is no way the Lord can put you back together. If this is what you think, then you might want to take a look at this passage.

Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.
Genesis 2:7 (NLT)

God can do an awful lot with a handful of dust.

Posted in Christian, Healing, Life, Scripture

Our Dark Closets

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am
making everything new!”
Revelation 21:5 (NLT)

The Healing Ministry is housed in a lovely old homestead. Built in 1922, it later became a well-known Bed and Breakfast.   In 2001, the house was bought by the Healing Ministry and renamed The Glennon House. The Victorian house radiates love and gentle hospitality. It’s a bright and joyful place covered by lavish amounts of prayer, but like all houses it has dark, locked closets, some of which haven’t been opened in years.

I believe all of us have our dark, locked closets.

My closets were stuffed with secret things. They included, but were not limited to: old costume jewelry idols such as pride and envy. Sparkly, but threadbare dresses of self-righteousness. Fashionable, but painful high-heeled shoes of broken dreams. And the ugliest of all my boxed up items—the rhinestone blinders I wore when I looked for salvation everywhere except Jesus.

There were times when I didn’t have a clue how to clean these closets. I wanted to get rid of the old stuff, but on my own terms (ie. I wanted to get rid of MOST of the items, but not the pretty ones). I couldn’t ask other Christians to help because they would judge me (ie. I didn’t realize they had their own dark closets at home). So instead of cleaning it out, I locked the door and ignored it.

Initially it worked, but after a while the unhealed junk inside started rattling the knob, trying to bust out. I ended up spending most of my energy with my shoulder to the door, straining to keep it shut. It was exhausting!

Finally, with no choices left, I threw myself on Christ’s mercy and opened the door. And here is the really interesting thing: Jesus was already inside. He and the ‘Holy Spirit Cleaning Crew’ had already thrown out most of my junky old sins without me realizing it. When I asked how He got in there, He smiled. Then He reminded me that He’d bought all of me with His sacrifice, even the hurting parts. He’s Lord of my dark closets, too.

Everyone has closet trouble from time to time. Don’t be afraid to ask Jesus and His Holy Spirit Cleaning Crew for help cleaning them out. He bought ALL of you with His blood, not just the bright and joyful parts. To paraphrase His words in Revelation, “I am making EVERYTHING new, even your stinky old closets”. He’s the Lord of your dark closets. Go ahead and open that door. You’ll be glad you did.

Posted in Christian, Healing, Scripture

Changing the Lyrics

Sing a new song to the LORD! Let the whole earth sing to the LORD!
Psalm 96:1 (NLT)

Back in the day (no years, please) I listened to a popular singer who had a catchy tune promoting some pretty bad behavior. Now, listening to this song didn’t want me to engage in this behavior, but it was a fun tune and there seemed no harm in singing it. And why not? All the kids were singing it too.

Anyway, I went to this singer’s concert, which was packed. Inevitably, he announced that he was singing this song. The crowd went wild—as I said, it was a very popular tune. But it’s what he did before he sang the song that I remember.

He said, “This song is about destructive behavior, and some of my friends have died doing it. I can’t sing this song the way it is. I’m changing the lyrics.”

So, in front of a sold-out crowd, this singer changed the lyrics to reflect the true cost of this behavior. It was brutal. I recall feeling shame for my own part in blithely ignoring the despicable message in the original lyrics for the sake of singing a cool song. But most of all, I remember thinking how difficult it must have been to face a crowd of thousands and tell them something different from what they’d paid to hear.

In first century Judah, the lyrics of the prophesied Messiah were well known. He was going to come in earthly power with a mighty army, and eviscerate the Romans who had been so cruel to God’s people. But Jesus changed up the lyrics, bringing the power of the Holy Spirit and the mighty message of sinners redeemed. This new song led Him to Calvary, where this beaten, betrayed dying man whispered lyrics that would eventually eviscerate not only the Romans, but every stronghold of sin. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

So what about you? When you look in the mirror, what lyrics do you hear? Alcoholic? Abandoned? Jobless? Hopeless? Abused person? Person who has been an abuser? If you are hearing this condemnation, remember that Jesus changed those lyrics. He forgave you—YOU—for all eternity. Christ excluded no one.

Maybe, like the brave popular singer, you are facing a huge crowd expecting and wanting you to enable their bad behavior. Maybe you are facing the criticizing words of your single sinful self. Whether it’s an audience of one or one million, it takes courage to change the lyrics. But you are not alone, and you are not forsaken. What you are is loved.

God’s got this. With His help and grace, you have everything you need to change your lyrics. You don’t have to sing a song of despair, death and discouragement. You are loved. You are forgiven. You are not alone. And if you need help with the backup band, call or stop by the Glennon House. It’s never too late to start singing to the LORD!

Posted in Christian, Healing

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.

Posted in Christian, Healing, Life

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.

Posted in Christian, Healing, Life, Uncategorized

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.

Posted in Addictions, Christian, Healing, Uncategorized

Jumper No More

If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored – so clean up your life.
Job 22:23

This morning on my way work, I was talking with a friend of mine who is in full-time ministry working with men who struggle with addictions. He was telling me about an incident with one of their clients.

The young man was in the hospital and wasn’t allowed to check out unless he was being picked up by someone from an addictions program. He contacted the ministry where my friend works asking to be allowed to come back to the program. They went to pick the young man up from the hospital. While he was riding in the back seat of the car, they encountered an area of heavy traffic where they had to slow down to a crawl. Suddenly the back door opened and the young man exited the vehicle.

When my friend recounted that story to me I thought, “I wonder how many times I’ve been riding in the car with God and then just suddenly exited out the back door.”

I was raised in a Christian family. In fact, I was baptized and confirmed right here at All Saints Church. I went to Church on most weekends until I was in my early teens. In my late teens, I was walking on a path that was far away from God. However, even during my darkest moments I prayed to Him.

On several occasions, people passed through my life who had close walks with the Lord. I envied their ability to turn away from all the temptations of this life. There were even times in my life that I tried to emulate them through sheer will power, but never had a true relationship with the Lord which was how they were able to avoid the temptation pitfalls.

Those were the times that I climbed into the backseat of the car with God. I viewed Him as my way to escape a variety of unwanted circumstances. I figured I’d try Him out for a while to feel a modicum of freedom from whatever addiction prison I was currently dwelling in. Then as some distance grew between me and the negative impact of the addiction, I would decide I didn’t really need God’s help after all.

So, out of the backseat I jumped!

It wasn’t until much later that I realized that basically I had been using God as a get out of jail free card. When the going got too tough for me, I would crawl back to God begging for mercy. Then as soon as He showed me a wee bit of His mercy I’d say, “See ya!” And then slam the door shut behind me.

I spent many years jumping out of the backseat of God’s car. What amazes me most is that each time I got back in His car He welcomed me with open arms. He never yelled at me or made me feel guilty that I had jumped out. He just let me climb in that backseat knowing that I was going to jump out again.

Then I found my way to the Glennon House. I began working with a trained Prayer Minister who walked with me as the Lord broke me free of my addiction chains. My healing was a process. But these days, when I go for a ride with the Lord I ride in the front seat and no more jumping out!

If you or a loved one are struggling with jumping out of the back seat of God’s car, I encourage you to stop by the Glennon House for healing prayer with one of Prayer Ministers. The Lord wants you to stay in His car for the ride of your life.

Posted in Christian, Healing, ministry

Random Thoughts

Where the mind goes…the man follows.
Joyce Meyer

The other evening I was watching an episode of Star Trek: Voyager in which the crew was visiting a planet where random thoughts (especially violent thoughts) had been banned.  Someone ran into one of the crew members who then had a violent thought of pushing the person back in retaliation.  That one random thought spread a string of violence
throughout the community.

While here on our Earth our thoughts don’t spread like that.  However, our thoughts can lead to actions that result in behaviors.

Most addictions begin as thoughts in our minds.  We think about the object of desire to the point of obsession.  Our thought obsession then manifests itself as an action.  When we repeatedly indulge in that action it becomes a seed for behavior.  That behavior gives birth to the addiction.

Before I was born, my dad was a prolific smoker.  He had begun smoking as a teenager.  He continued to smoke until the day I was brought home from the hospital.  He had a pack and half habit (behavior) per day that ruled his life.  He never let his pack of cigarettes out of his sight.  He bought his cigarettes by the carton.  The moment his carton got down to one pack of cigarettes he panicked.  No matter what time of day it was he had a compulsion to go buy another carton of cigarettes.  Even if it was the middle of the night he would drive around looking for a 24 hour store that sold cartons of cigarettes.  His thoughts of what would happen if he ran out of cigarettes drove him to take action.

While you might not be able to relate to the thought progression that rules the life of an addict, I’m sure you can easily think of something that has popped up in your mind that caused you to take some form of action.

Have you ever had something come up that has made you worry? (e.g. a scary diagnosis, strange symptoms, loss of a job, etc.)  It seems like the harder you try not to worry the more you do worry!  It is a known fact that a state of constant worry leads to stress which can cause all sorts of
emotional and physical problems. If you don’t intentionally focus your mind on something else you will most likely continue in your action of worrying becoming more and more stressed.

Needless to say our thought lives are very important.  The good news is that when you became a Christian you were blessed with a transformed mind. (Romans 12:12)  That means that you no longer have to be
conformed to your old way of thinking!  A transformed mind means that instead of thoughts of worry you can have thoughts of peace that Jesus will take care of you.  And thoughts of peace will lead to lower levels of stress in your life. The end result of your new peaceful thoughts brings you to emotional, physical, and spiritual healthy behavior.

Yes, that is often easier said than done.  But what you can do is recognize when your thoughts are going down the path towards worry.  At this point make an effort to think of something other than worry.  God knows your heart and thoughts.  He will honor your effort to stop following after the negative ones.