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, Scripture

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!

Posted in Christian, Life, ministry, Scripture

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.

Posted in Christian, Healing, Life, Scripture

Prodigal Marshmallows

Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons”. Luke 15:11-12 (NLT)

 

Today I watched a Youtube video called “The Marshmallow Test”. It involves a young child left alone in a room with a tasty marshmallow. The child is told that, if they wait and don’t eat the marshmallow, they will be given another one. In other words, will they choose to immediately gobble up the marshmallow, or will they delay for the promise of a greater reward?

This simple experiment has been performed for almost fifty years, and has yielded all sorts of interesting information—including the fact that kids still love marshmallows. But two thousand years ago Jesus was talking about this very same choice, in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

The younger son takes his marshmallows, ehr, I mean his wealth, and squanders all of it on ‘wild living’. He descends into miserable poverty, so miserable that he slinks back home to ask–not for forgiveness–but for a job as a lowly hired hand. However, instead of facing condemnation, the son is welcomed back by his father with much rejoicing and a big party.

But back to the Marshmallow test. Researchers followed up on these children decades later, and found that 100% (yes, you read that right) of the kids who didn’t eat their marshmallows were successful—either good students or workers, with satisfying lives. They also found that the kids who ate the marshmallows were measurably less happy, with addiction or attitude problems. That first bad decision paved the way for other bad decisions throughout their lives.

photo credit: behaviorchangingproducts.wordpress.com
photo credit: behaviorchangingproducts.wordpress.com

The Marshmallow test is an early predictor of a person’s self-control, but Jesus tells us that this is not the end of the story. His parable of the Prodigal Son shows us that an unwise decision does not have to control our lives. The Lord never gives up on us. Like the father in the story, He is always waiting for us to come home. Like the younger son in the story, we can learn to make better decisions, even if we’ve made an extra large marshmallow bagful of bad ones.

No matter what you are going through, or how many mistakes you’ve made, Jesus is always, ALWAYS, waiting to welcome you back. If you have questions or need help, you can always contact us at the Glennon House for confidential support and prayer.

You are not alone, and you are not abandoned. Remember, Jesus was using this parable to show the rejoicing that goes on in heaven when even a single lost person returns home. “There is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents”. Luke 15:10 (NLT). There is joy in heaven when a prodigal son comes home. Joy and, I suspect, marshmallows.

Posted in Christian, Healing, Life, Scripture

Fifty First Dates with God

He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.
Psalm 103:12 (NLT)

Yesterday, I messed up. I betrayed a friend’s confidence. It was a thoughtless slip of the tongue but, unintentional or not, the damage was done. My friend, being a generous and gracious person, forgave me immediately. The Lord, being a generous and gracious God, also forgave me. I, however, had trouble accepting their forgiveness. Though they forgave me, I could not forgive myself.

All I could see was my mistake, my sin, my actions that had harmed another person. I didn’t DESERVE to be forgiven. The knowledge of my stupid act devastated (yes, devastated) every waking moment. It even muted the constant joy I feel from the Holy Spirit. Then, just as I was certain I would never be able to forgive myself, Jesus reminded me of the guy formerly known as Saul.

Saul of Tarsus made his living killing Christians. He was a professional executioner, which he accomplished with righteous zeal. He approved the bloody stoning of St. Stephen (Acts. 8:1), and went everywhere to destroy the Church (v.3). He was a perfect CKM (Christian Killing Machine), until Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus. In a few sentences, Our Lord showed this man how very badly he’d ‘messed up’. The reality of Saul’s sin must have devastated his body, because when he opened his eyes, “he could see nothing”.

Saul had to be led like a child, and he refused to eat or drink for days.

photo credit: live4god.org
photo credit: live4god.org

I believe he gave up. He was blind. He’d persecuted Jesus and killed His children. I don’t think he had any hope of God’s forgiveness, and he certainly couldn’t forgive himself. Then, when he was at his lowest, God sent Ananias to help him back to the Light. The scriptures say “something like scales fell from his eyes, and he could see again.” (Acts 9:18-19)

When I read this, something like scales fell from my eyes as well. If God could forgive a sinner like Paul, who did not deserve to be forgiven on ANY level, and if Paul was able to accept His forgiveness, then I should be willing to do the same. It wasn’t about me any more than it was about Paul. It’s about God caring for us so much that there is no room in His heart for anything except His overwhelming love.

There’s a movie called ‘Fifty First Dates’ about a man who falls in love with a woman with short-term memory loss. Every morning she forgets who he is, and he has to woo her all over again. God’s love is a bit like that. When we accept Christ into our hearts, our past is wiped away. He will, as the Psalm says remove “our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” There’s nothing left of my sin, not even a memory. When I try to bring up my sin to Him, he just laughs at me and wipes away those silly old scales from my eyes. And once again, I can see.

Posted in Christian, Healing, Life, Scripture

I’m Just Drawn That Way

“No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.”
Romans 3:11-12 (NLT)

In his wonderful blog ‘Preventing Grace’ (which does not mean what you think it does) Matt Kennedy writes, “When it comes to God, we human beings . . . do everything in our power to keep God at bay.  As [the Apostle] Paul writes, ‘No one is seeking God.’ (Romans 3:11)” *

As sinners, our ‘go to position’ is to walk away from God.  We look for loopholes in the Bible rather than being obedient to the Lord’s commandments.  We can’t help it.  It’s our nature.  To paraphrase Jessica Rabbit in the movie ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’, “I’m not a sinner; I’m just drawn that way.”

rogerrabbitandjessicarabbit
photo credit: toutlecine.com

 

Being ‘drawn that way’ is a marvelous excuse to avoid God’s word.  It really is.  We’re being true to ourselves.  We’re being authentic.  The Lord wants us to be honest, doesn’t He?  What could be more noble?

Have you ever read a scripture verse and thought “Oh, the Lord couldn’t possibly have meant that.  I’ll just ignore that bit.”   Or you ‘feel’ something so strongly that you’re sure God wants it for you, even though mature Christian friends are throwing down caution flags.  Or your prayers have gone unanswered for so long that you’re convinced Jesus either 1) isn’t listening or 2) doesn’t care or 3) isn’t real, so you give up praying.

I’ve been in all these situations, and sadly I often made the ‘Jessica Rabbit’ choice to stop seeking God.  At first it felt good, even courageous, but it always turned out badly.  Fortunately, the Lord gave me the Apostle John’s first letter.  If John were writing his letter to me, he’d write: “Ruth, if you confess your sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive your sins and cleanse you from all wickedness” (1 John 1:9). Thanks be to God!

I’ll always be a Jessica Rabbit.  Though I’ve been redeemed by my Savior’s blood, I’m a recovering sinner and will be until the day I die.  It’s my nature to slip my hand out of Jesus’ grasp, and dash after some shiny worldly bauble.  I’m just drawn that way. But when I do wander, I know that my loving Good Shepard will come after me, searching for me like the lost sheep/rabbit that I am. Even when I am not seeking Christ, He is always seeking me.

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?”
Luke 15:4 (NLT)

* You can check out Matt Kennedy’s blog at http://www.preventingrace.com.