The Narrow Road – True Story

Running along the trail, his footfalls resound upward and leave a deep resounding thump, thump. thump like a drum beat in a cave. The birds stop their singing and take flight as he lifts his head and screams, “Why God? Why?”

Suddenly dropping to his knees, his fingers dig into the damp soft ground and sobs rip through him from a heart that seems to have shattered into a million pieces. Peering from beneath a nearby bush, a rabbit sits twitching his nose with big brown eyes watching Brian. Brain is unaware as wet leaves soak his jeans.

Feeling exasperation and anger, he flings his arms heavenward with shaking, clenched fists. He yells to God, “How can you love me? You can’t when you let this happen!” Falling face down, Brian sobs into his folded arms. The still of the forest absorbs his cries.

The rabbit has scampered to safety and the birds have taken flight as Brian lies on the cold damp ground confused, frustrated, heartbroken, and doubting how God could ever love him.

 

“This book should be on the New York Best Seller lists.” Robert Filosi

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Is Anybody at Home?

The leaves have turned to their golden hues, the oranges are bright, the browns deep, and the yellow sends a subdued brilliance across the land. The sidewalks are cleared and the homes luxurious. The Man stops in front of the large home and stares at it’s magnificence.

He enters the open gate and slowly walks the long tree lined brick lain driveway to the front door and reaches for the gold plated door bell. He waits. There is no sound of foot steps so He presses the button again.

He waits.

The third time He presses the button He steps back and looks around. A large dog in the yard barrels around the corner barking furiously and bearing its large teeth. The Man smiles. There is no fear. The dog stops beside Him and wagging his tail licks the Man’s hand. No one comes to the door so the man pats the dog on the head and returns to the street.

As He walks slowly down the tree lined street He gazes at the beauty of the colorful trees and landscaping of the homes. He walks the long circular driveway of another home and steps up to the etched glass door and rings the doorbell.

He hears foot steps approaching and the door is cautiously opened slowly and a maid with her black uniform and white apron asks who He is and what He wants.

“I am the I Am.” the Man replies. “May I speak to the head of the household?”

The maid looks at Him curiously and replies, “Just a moment” and disappears behind the closed door.

The master of the house appears and with a smirk asks, “What can I do for you?”

The Man reaches His hand out to shake the owners hand but the owner just looks at the Man’s hand and doesn’t reciprocate. The Man nods and simply states, “I am the I Am. You need Me.”

Laughter fills the air as the owner stands with his hand on the door knob laughing as though he’s just been told a very funny joke.

The Man waits.

The laughter has turned to a snarl and the owner states emphatically, “Look around you! Look at this home! Do you see the Jaguar in the drive? Do you see all that I have accomplished; the big home, the beautiful car, the magnificent landscaping? You fool, I don’t need anything you are offering!” He steps back and slams the door in the Man’s face.

The Man moves on down the street and when receiving the same arrogant greeting at several of the homes He stops in front of a shack that the neighbors have tried to get condemned.

The grass is overgrown. Weeds line the partially collapsed fence. The shingles need repair, and one window is cracked and barely hanging onto the frame. He walks to the splintered, weather beaten wooden door being careful on the three broken steps and knocks loudly.

“Who is it?” is yelled from the other side.

“I am the I Am.” the Man states.

The door flings open on its rickety hinges. A woman rushes out to meet the Man. She’s dressed in a ragged dress, bare feet, and hair a mess. Her face is lined with life’s pressures and yet her eyes sparkle with tears of joy as she hugs the Man and states,  “Come in, come in. I just made some soup.”

The Man steps inside.

(Sue’s version) Proverbs 11:4, 18:11 – Rev. 3:20 – Matt. 7:7-8 – Luke 11: 9-10

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What are you Looking for?

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Over the years many have watched, listened, and prayed within the sanctuaries of our churches. Many have visited just about every denomination of church in the Christian religion. Many have sat in the pews with people surrounding them and listened to pastor’s give the Word of God and yet felt as though the words came across hollow, empty, and dead.

Many joined a church to hear God’s truth, to be accepted, loved, and to be a part of God’s family only to be left in silence as the “click’s” gathered in their groups around the room talking and laughing. Standing to the side our heart hurts because we’re not a part of their elite little group.

Some of us have walked toward the front and seen the pastor smile but noticed his eyes don’t show the love of Christ. Some of us have experienced a counselor that sat in front of us asking his/her questions that leave us dull and numb. The words that are to encourage and lift us out of the depths of hell that we feel we’re in are more condemning than uplifting. The scriptures quoted are used as bats against our fragile psych.

It’s confusing because we thought the Lord said this was the church He wanted us to be in but the rejection, the false teachings, or the compromising of God’s Word to suit the needs of the pastor are going against the grain of what some of us was taught. So we leave only to visit yet another church and another and another only to find much the same.

Todays teaching of the gospel isn’t what we remembered from our growing up years. That is if we grew up in church. We’ve watched and witnessed people who shun the poor and those people that shout “praise God” and turn to add to the whispers of  gossip while they quickly wipe the smile off their face. We’ve had some who walk away when we smile and our “hello” sticks in our throat. Noses are turned up because our clothes don’t come up to their standard. Some of us have found ourselves swallowed up in a sea of humanity in the mega churches only to have warm fuzzies tickle our ears, sin is forgotten or excused.  We finally move on, another church, another congregation and each time we leave feeling dirtier than when we walked in or disillusuioned about what all this Christianity is about. Some never return.

Thankfully there are still a few that have found that church family that is loving, caring, and accept us, with a pastor who preaches God’s Word in love, who isn’t afraid to address the issues of our time and bring forth the truth from scriptures. Thankfully we can know that God, through Christ, is faithful and will lead us to what we need.

“What are you looking for?” the Lord asks.  In Our heart we want to be accepted, we want to feel the love of other believers who love God and His Son, who will listen and pray and be there as an encouragement. We want to hear God’s truth and to do God’s will. We want to feel as though we are a part of the family of God.

When the Lord asked me that my reply was, “Todays church is lacking.” “I know” the Lord whispers with tears misty in His eyes. “But what do I do?” I asked. The Lord ran His hand across His beard and stood looking at me for a long silent moment. I thought He might not answer.

“You go to worship Me,” He says gently. “No matter what the people do or do not do, no matter what reception you receive, You go to worship Me.”  Taking a step closer He adds, “There is no perfect church My child. Just people who are lost and looking but not finding.” “But…” He stopped me.

“If My Word is not being taught in truth you leave! If My Word is being taught in truth, you stay. The clicks you encounter are of no significance, it is My presence that is important.”  I nodded my head.  A slight smile tweeked Jesus face as He looked down at me. Placing His hand on my shoulder He gave my shoulder a slight squeeze. “You’ll be fine My child. Church is there for hearing My Word, for worship, and for fellowship. If the fellowship is absent, remember, I am there with you for it is My presence that counts. I sent you there for a purpose.” Then I awoke.

There are times when the Lord sends us to a church to be a witness, an example, to bring encouragment, or a warning to that body. We go in obedience.

“Whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.” 1John 2:6

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Can Light Penetrate a Black Heart?

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My child sized heart pumped fiercely as I ran away. Fear filled me. I felt like the devil himself was close behind breathing down my neck. “If he catches me I’ll never survive.” I scream out, “Jesus save me” but He didn’t appear at my door. (I thought He would come to my house and save me from the abuse.)

That’s when the devil got his foothold. The anger at God for rejecting my plea intertwined with the fear. The roots of disappointment and a lack of understanding was transformed into a bitterness that grew deeper. With each injustice, betrayal, hurtful word, and rejection another black spot replaced what God created. Hatred filled spaces unknown within a normal pulsating heart that was created to love. Instead of the red blood of Christ filling a beautiful, pumping pink organ, the enemies blackness was trying to fill it to the brim.

Life continued with struggles and the bitterness against man and God continued to grow. God’s light would try to penetrate my darkening heart but with snarled lips and vehement words God was rejected. “If there’s a God then why……..?” “Don’t talk to me about this so-called loving God!” was spewed out from a heart filled with pain, rejection, bitterness, and a hatred so deep it seemed no light could penetrate. God would step in but the door was quickly slammed shut.

God is a persistent God! He never gives up pursuing the lost. He didn’t give up then and He hasn’t now. He continued to chase me down and at my lowest point was standing there to pick me up. I accepted Him and He taught me much. With much love and patience He began healing the heart wounds from all the years of hurt and betrayal and gradually I learned who I am in Him. The blackening of my heart began turning grey. Some of the black spots of evil dissipated. But with a news report I learned it was still filled with hatred. The roots of hatred and bitterness still ran deep. I desperately needed surgery! The kind only Christ can do.

God’s light broke through the darkness within a dream. In the dream the flames within the cage roared about the body of man while ISIS stood watching with vile, wicked grins and slapping each other on the back for a job well done, I screamed out, “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!” It wasn’t the man being burned alive, it was me! Just before I awoke, I glared at the evil men and said, “If Mohammed was here I would spit in his face!” I awoke suddenly with my chest filled so full of hatred that I thought I was having a heart attack.

The hatred grew within me until I thought my chest would burst. I prayed in English, I prayed in tongues, I asked God what was happening to me. At one point I felt I wanted to jump out of bed and scream at the top of my lungs. I didn’t because it would wake the whole subdivision. I couldn’t move. The chest pain continued until I thought my chest would explode right there in my bed. I prayed some more. I rebuked the devil to no avail.

Confusion swirled around in my head, “Was I feeling what Christ must feel?” I told the Lord I know He loves those people but, “Forgive me, I want them to suffer every scream, every cry for help, every pleading agonized breath and feel every pain that every person and every child felt, for all of eternity in hell!”

My chest grew, the hatred increased. It was vile, it was ugly. I could barely breath. I could taste the wickedness of it. I prayed some more. I cried out for understanding and even threw out the fact that Jesus got mad and threw tables around the Temple. “I can’t ask You to forgive them because You will if they ask, but they won’t!” And, “I won’t pray their heart be changed! They are Satan’s incarnates! That’s like transforming Satan’s heart! It ain’t going to happen!” My thoughts whirled around like a balloon skittering around a room when suddenly released of its air. One minute I was thinking like Jesus might want me to and the next I was lashing out with hatred.

I don’t know how long I spewed the vile hatred I felt for what is going on in this world. The evil that surrounds us all. I confessed, I quoted a couple of scriptures, I did everything I could to try to rationalize and try to understand what was happening to me. Had I not been wide awake I would have thought I was in the middle of a horrible nightmare.

Suddenly a thought dropped into the midst of all the praying, all the arguing and expounding on why I should hate these people,“You have hurt people, too.” That shut my mouth for a moment but then of course my first response was, “I haven’t chopped off anyone’s head! I’ve burned no-one alive! I’m not robbing and stealing and raping!” Then the realization took hold, I have hurt people with my words, some deliberately and some not. I have rejected others, and above all, I rejected God and His Son for many years.

The pain in my chest began to slowly dissipate as that realization took hold. A calming began to replace the pain of hatred. It seemed as though my chest was deflating slowly and as that realization of my own sin penetrated my heart I realized that maybe, just maybe, it was my heart that needed to be changed.

There was no glowing translucent light filling the room. No angels appeared in white robes. No heavenly choir songs rang out from heaven. There was only a hushed silence as I whispered, “Is it my heart that needs changing, Lord?” The pain suddenly vanished! I was left limp and exhausted.

Many of us have prayed, “Search my heart O’Lord.” He takes that seriously and in my case He used the evil of ISIS on a T.V. newscast to reveal the depth of hatred in my heart and not only to expose it and make me aware of its depth but to taste the vile bitterness of it. “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” I was hating the sinner as well as the sin.

We’ve all suffered pain of some sort. We all have areas of hurt. There are no pure hearts in humanity and He’s still working on mine. By His grace I am saved, not perfect.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”

Ps. 139:23

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Dealing with Betrayal

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Betrayal can come in many and  various forms. It can be as simple, if you want to call it simple, as someone betraying your trust through telling another what you thought was told in confidence. There is the betrayal within marriages through adulterous behavior. Betrayal can come through domestic abuse. Maybe someone at your job betrayed you by lying to the boss. There’s many examples of how we are betrayed.

In my opinion (and many psychiatrists) the most damaging, deep, and most heartfelt betrayal is through a parent sexually abusing their child. From within the womb we are totally and completely dependent upon our mothers and fathers. Upon birth that dependence grows even more for the child. The child depends on the parents for nurturing, education, love for God, not to mention clothing, food, and housing. God instilled in us love. We are created to love and we do it naturally as a child. We love our parents regardless of anything they do.

Children are taught to hate, to distrust, to be suspicious and to take the blame. They were not born with that negativity. We’ve all seen cases where a child is horribly abused and yet they will protect the parent. It isn’t always that the parent/abuser has threatened them to keep quiet, it’s because of that God-given love instilled within us toward those who God chose to be our parents.

I was asked recently if after having been sexually abused if having my Dad admit to the abuse, if that was emotionally more difficult than the actual abuse. My answer was no, not for me. For me it was confirmation that the abuse really did take place. It stopped all the mind wrestling of whether it happened or not and put an end to the lies that were being told about it didn’t happen. But not everyone can answer that way. It is always very difficult to admit we have been betrayed. Especially if that betrayal was from someone we love.

Sexual abuse/incest is the most damaging of all abuse to a child. It attacks the body, soul, mind, and spirit of the child. The issues that are left from it are so vast it can take years to heal from the devastation. Most abusers will not admit their guilt. Many mothers will blame the victim or deny it happened or choose the husband over the child. Hopefully with disclosure becoming more prevalent that will change.

Who of us want to have to admit to ourselves that those who were given to us by God could do such a thing? Who wants to admit that the man we chose to love for the rest of our lives would sneak around behind our back in an adulterous affair? Or that our best friend would reveal a deep secret we shared, with someone else?

Betrayal will leave deep wounds. Whether they are bleeding wounds that we ignore, or ones that we continue to pick at is our choice. In the case of sexual abuse it may take years to heal those deep wounds. In Psalm 27:10 The Lord says, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.” Betrayal through abuse , by a parent, is forsaking the child! They have forsaken their God-given responsibility to care for, in a Christ-like manner, for the child that was placed in their care. Mothers and fathers that do nothing to protect the child, a co-conspirator, has emotionally, and in some cases physically, abandoned the child. Christ is there to receive you!

With any betrayal it is hard to “wrap our minds around” what was done. There is hurt, anger, denial, and eventually acceptance. We have a big choice to make. Do we forgive or do we continue to bleed? It can be mind-boggling to think that our own parents could betray us in such a way but if we do not release that hurt, through forgiveness, the betrayal will be like a gunny sack filled with rocks on our back.

With any form of betrayal do we choose to live with a heart filled with hate and bitterness toward those who have betrayed us or do we turn to Christ and give Him our pain? By holding onto the pain, not forgiving, we are bringing God’s judgment against us.  (Matt.5:22) We are hindering our prayers, (Matt.5:23) we’re causing a root of bitterness to take hold, (Heb.12:14-15) we’re allowing demonic strongholds to take hold, (Eph.4:26), and halting our healing (James 5:16).

Freedom from the heart wounds inflicted by an act/s of betrayal is obtained through our ability to seek Christ’s forgiveness and to offer our forgiveness to others.

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