Recently at work we’ve started a new Healing Thoughts Radio show, below is a link to our most recent show. Our show broadcasts on Thursdays from 3:30 – 4:00 pm. (The next show will be on Thursday, April 18th.) We look forward to having you join us!
One summer, when I was a camper at Little Wohelo, I somehow landed the job of taking care of the goats. I was in charge of feeding them, grooming them, rounding them up at the end of the day, and cleaning their pen. It didn’t take long for the goats to begin to follow me everywhere I went. They came to know my whistle, my routine, and which cabin I lived in for that summer. They would jump around excitedly whenever they saw me or heard my voice. Whenever, I went to an activity I had 3-4 goats on my heels.
While goats can be cute when they are behaving they also have another side which can sometimes border on mean if they don’t get their way. Most of the time the goats were simply mischievous by nibbling on my camp uniform, bumping up against me, or running the opposite direction when I called them. But let them decide they were going to be belligerent and you better watch out! I got headed butted, knocked on my behind, and kicked numerous times that summer. They were always sweet as can be after one of their belligerent tantrums.
The goat’s tantrums normally came on the heels of some form of discipline by me. Whenever a storm came I would frantically try to round them up before the clouds opened up. I knew by looking at the sky that a storm was moving across Lake Sebago, but all they saw was the day turned windy. So, they had no desire to return to their pen when it wasn’t feeding time. More than once I had to grab one of the goats by the scruff of the neck dragging them to the barn next to their pen. This normally resulted in a hard head butt by the aggravated goat! It would keep head butting me as it tried to escape back out to the open. Needless to say, I became a master at dodging goats’ heads that summer.
Unfortunately, as I think about that summer I realize I’ve had my own days of acting like a goat too! I go along all peacefully as the Lord feeds me through Bible Studies and Sermons, as He grooms me into the person He created me to be, and as He cleans up my life messes through healing. I’ve learned to recognize His voice. I follow Him where He leads me. And when He calls me I come.
Then suddenly, the Lord starts leading me somewhere I don’t want to go because I’d rather be doing what I had been doing before He interrupted me. I fight Him. I even contemplate hiding, running, or simply ignoring Him. What I don’t understand is that He sees the storm (the bad situation, the hurt that lies up ahead, or the relationship that is about to explode) that is on the horizon. He knows where I will be safe even though I fail to see that He is trying to help me. So, I fight Him. I dig my heels in wanting to do things my way…not His.
I’d like to say that I only acted “goat-ish” once or maybe twice, but I’m a stubborn kind of gal. So, I’ve tried to do things my way more times than I care to admit. I’ve come to realize that if I would just follow the Lord when He suddenly starts leading me away I would save myself loads of frustration. God will never lead me someplace that won’t eventually end up being better than the place that I reluctantly left. I have come to trust that He truly does have my best interest at heart.
My prayer is that the longer that I walk with the Lord…the faster I will follow Him whenever He leads me someplace new!
Written for Healing Thoughts newsletter 1/08/13
I recently read that in order to train circus elephants, to stay chained up and captive behind flimsy fences, the training process is started when the elephant is just an infant. They chain the infant elephant knowing that it isn’t strong enough to break free. After initially testing the bonds of the chain the infants tire – growing resigned to life on a short chain of limitations. The elephants grow accustomed to living within the boundaries of their chained (imprisoned) existence. Due to this conditioning, grown elephants can be restrained by a small rope because they don’t know that they have the strength to break free.
I found the whole scenario with the circus elephants fascinating! Imagine a creature that can weigh anywhere from 8,000 to 15,000 pounds restrained by a small rope – simply because they don’t know they have the strength to break free!!!
That flummoxed me. Until, I remembered a dream I had awhile ago:
I was sitting in a prison cell curled up in a fetal position. As I sat up I noticed that all four of the thick cement walls lay in ruins. Looking down at my ankles and wrists I noticed that the shackles that had once imprisoned me lay open beside me. Long thick iron chains lay shattered on the cement floor of my prison.
I was completely free…no shackles binding me…no chains imprisoning…no walls containing me. Yet, there I sat in the middle of my demolished prison making no move to escape.
Then I heard a soft whisper inviting me to stand up, open my hands to receive, and walk out of my life long prison ready to embrace the freedom that God had already provided for me.
I, like the circus elephants, had grown accustomed to living within the boundaries of my imprisoned existence. My prison was a set of unhealthy behavioral patterns that had kept me shackled. After years of trying to break free, I had resigned myself to living with the confined limitations of those detrimental behavioral patterns. I remained a captive in that behavior prison long after the Lord had set me free because I was focused on escaping under my own strength – which I knew was struggle in futility!
After that dream, I realized that I only had to have the strength to be an active participant in the healing that God had done within me. He had done the hard work through “divine demolition”, but I had to stand up, receive my freedom, and walk out of my prison.
I encourage you to visit the Glennon House for a time of prayer with one of our trained Prayer Ministers who will join you as you receive God’s gift of freedom from whatever has imprisoned you. Leave that demolished prison behind you…you are no longer a prisoner!
So if the Son liberates you [makes you free men],
then you are really and unquestionably free.
John 8:30 (AMP)
Growing up, we had a family tradition that the Birthday person got to choose exactly what they wanted for their Birthday dinner. This was one of my favorite traditions. I would pretend to think long and hard about what I wanted to have for my Birthday dinner. And then I’d choose the same thing every year! Brie Burgers, steamed artichokes, and pierogies.
I thought my parents were crazy the first time they gave me an artichoke. All I saw was a vegetable that looked like a tree with pointy barbs at the end of the leaves. Why on earth would I want to eat that thing?! But both my parents promised that I would enjoy it.
I can still remember intently watching my dad as he showed me how to eat an artichoke. He started with the outer leaves working his way to the softer inner leaves. I vividly recall the next part. He looked at me saying that the prickly part that came next had to be completely removed. He told me not to eat that part under any circumstance. He then explained that I had to go through the prickly part to get to the artichoke heart. This he informed me, was of course the entire goal of eating the artichoke…the best part saved for last!
I discovered that eating an artichoke is not a quick adventure…it takes time. I learned to be patient when it came to artichokes. I found out that the only way to get to the heart of the artichoke was to go through the prickly part. And finally, I knew that the time it took to work my way to the heart was worth every second!
Inner healing is a lot like eating an artichoke. The first couple of times that you meet with a Prayer Minister you work on some of the outlying issues (outer leaves) that have gone on in your life. These are normally the less intimate issues of your life. Then once a rapport is built between you and the Prayer Minister…trust blossoms. You begin to open up feeling comfortable sharing things (inner leaves) that you’ve only trusted to a few individuals. This is often where people stay for awhile – the place where many semi-intimate wounds and issues have built up over the years. Next comes the dreaded prickly part of our lives – the areas of our lives that have been off limits to everyone. These are the places that we have tried to avoid for years because they bring up painful memories. To go here means that we will often be stretched beyond our comfort zones.
It is at this point that we have to trust that God is leading us through that prickly part for a good reason. It is for our ultimate good…not harm. It is because God knows that once those prickly parts of our lives are healed and removed that we will be able to get to the heart of the our healing…which leads to wholeness.
If you are in the process of healing remember to have patience with yourself as you work your way towards the heart of your healing. God will be with you from beginning to end – especially in the prickly parts.
The road to wholeness is an adventure…it is not necessarily a quick one…but it is worth every second!
If you refuse to address the wounds you bear they will shape and form
the weapons the enemy will use against you in the future.
Pastor Isaac Hunter (Summit Church)
As a child, someone once told me that people really didn’t want to hear about others pain and problems so it was best to keep quiet. I internalized that idea to mean that pain was to be kept private and probably should be avoided at all costs. Therefore, I ignored any pain that cried out for me to address it. I chose to ignore the gamut of signals ranging from physical to emotional pain. And I embraced the idea of that a “strong” person was supposed to put on a good front for the public.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that the pain was my “early warning system.” My pain was a symptom of a deeper problem within me. Fr. Al puts it this way “…pain that is crying out in some way to let us know that there is sickness somewhere with in us…pain signals that we have something within us that needs to be healed. It is vital to us that we listen and seek the origin that it might be healed or removed from our lives.”
Pain tells us that there is there is some sort of wound festering inside of us. That wound might manifest itself physically, emotionally, or mentally, but to ignore it is detrimental to our becoming whole. My refusal to acknowledge my pain allowed that wound to infect me body, mind, and spirit.
It wasn’t until I was a recipient of inner healing, at the Healing Ministry, that my inner wounds were acknowledged/addressed enabling me to experience freedom from the pain I had carried around most of my life. Unfortunately, at the time I didn’t choose to address all the wounds that needed to be addressed. There was still a small part of me that clung to the childhood ideology that somethings were just too awful to discuss with anyone…even a Prayer Minister.
I learned the hard way that those wounds I refused to address would become the very weapons that the enemy would use against me. The enemy is NOT creative he will push the same buttons that he’s always pushed to get under your skin. When I ignored the pain from my unhealed wound I opened myself up to the continuous taunting of the enemy. He pushed my buttons over and over again…the same ones that had been pushed my entire life.
The only way to break free from this pattern was to address all my wounds so that the enemy could no longer use those wounds as weapons against me. It can be a scary proposition to address those painful wounds, but the resulting freedom is worth it!
Awhile back a group of us from the Healing Ministry had the privilege of meeting the new Youth Minister, Ben. We each had a chance to explain our own backgrounds in regards to our role in the Healing Ministry. I mentioned that I had worked with parents whose teenagers were involved in self-injury* (e.g. cutting). They knew that as a teenager I had engaged in self-injury (cutting and burning myself), but that God had done an amazing healing in me. The testimony of His healing in my life gave them hope for their child(ren).
Ben mentioned that he had prayed with a youth who had been involved in cutting himself. He said he knew that God gave him the following words, “Jesus bled, so that you don’t have to.” The youth was blessed and healed by those words from the Lord.
Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to teenagers and young women talk about the wounds that they’ve carried around as burdens. Some of the things that have been done to them (or they have done to themselves) would shock, anger, and break your heart. The reason many of them came to the Healing Ministry was because all of their ways of coping with the pain, inflicted by their wounds, had failed them. They had lost all hope of being set free from their wounds that never seemed to stop bleeding deep inside their souls. They were finally ready to “try” Jesus.
Some of these young people admitted that they had engaged in self-injury on numerous occasions. For them, the pain that they carried on the inside was so overwhelming that the only way to release that inside tension was to cut themselves on the outside. They cut to express feelings of anger, betrayal, loneliness, or emptiness; Sometimes, to punish themselves or make themselves feel “alive.” The pain inflicted by the cutting brought them a false sense of temporary relief from the inside pain. Unfortunately, this cutting became a pattern…an addiction of sorts…that became hard to stop.
While many of the young people had given up hope of freedom from their pattern of cutting…they had come seeking help. That is all Jesus asks of each of us – to come to Him to ask for His help. His healing sets each of us free from whatever wound/burden/pattern we bring to Him.
What Ben spoke is true; Jesus did bleed so that we don’t have to. I think that applies to any wound that we are carrying as a burden. If the wound (caused by another’s actions or your own actions) continues to bring you pain…it is bleeding.
If you have wounds that continue to bleed please visit us at the Glennon House. We have trained Prayer Ministers who will walk beside you on your journey to wholeness. Through inner healing Jesus will heal your memories – setting you free.
Remember: Jesus bled, so you don’t have to!
* According to CNN.com: 1 in 5 teenagers have purposely self-injured themselves at some time. Self-injury is usually not a suicide attempt. It is an unhealthy way for teenagers to cope with negative emotions. Unfortunately, self-injury can also be viewed as “trendy” these days.
I’m sure most of you have heard the story about the frog and the boiling water:
If you try to put a frog in boiling water you will have a fight on your hands. However, if you try put a frog in a pot of tepid water it will jump right in. As you slowly turn up the heat the frog has no clue that it is swimming in hot water about to boil to death.
The same can be said about unhealthy behavior patterns that lead to bad circumstances. Most people will avoid jumping into a circumstance that is already at the boiling point. However, it is fairly common for people to dip their toes into a situation that might have the potential of being detrimental somewhere down the road. It is just too far in the future for them to embrace the idea that their first step will lead them to their destruction.
I am a professed “toe dipper” – especially when it came to my problematic eating behaviors. The first time I indulged in a binge episode I knew that if I continued that behavior I was headed for some serious trouble. But I rationalized that I was only going to binge (without purging) this one time which meant that it wasn’t a pattern. I determined that since I didn’t binge and purge on a daily basis that I was safe from having an eating disorder.
Soon I found myself binging a couple of times a month, but I still never purged which maintained my delusion of not having an eating disorder. My obsession with binging rapidly became a weekly habit. And still I preserved the absurd idea that I did not, under any circumstance, have an eating disorder.
Then one day I grabbed my favorite pair of jeans out my dresser, slipped them on, and got the shock of my life. I couldn’t even get the jeans up over my thighs. My weight gain had been gradual enough that I hadn’t really noticed that I had put on over 20+ pounds. I waddled into the
bathroom, with my jeans in their stuck position, to glare at my reflection in the mirror. The person staring back at me was a stranger.
Unfortunately, my binging was out of control by this time. I was unable to stop my behavior. The end result was my topping the scales at almost 240 pounds and having a stroke at 32 years old.
My journey from being a tepid water “toe dipper” to a person swimming in boiling hot water was a gradual process. My circumstances heated up slowly enough that I never knew that I was in danger until it was too late for me to do anything.
Thankfully, it is never too late for Jesus to rescue us from our pot of boiling water.
Through prayers and counseling the Lord has given me freedom from my penchant for toe dipping in eating disorders. I might still get tempted, but my eyes are open to the fact that the end results of giving in to the temptation are not worth risking a quick dip!
Freedom from a worship disorder (addiction/idol) can be a scary thing. When someone has been worshiping an idol for a long time having that idol removed has the potential to make a person feel off balance.
Even though Jesus has set a person free from their worship disorder sometimes they desperately cling to that worship disorder refusing to receive His freedom. The person instead returns to a place where they believe that they will find familiarity and comfort…their captivity.
For years, one of my worship disorders has been relationship based. I worked with both Counselors and Prayer Ministers to be set free from the shackles of unhealthy relationships. For awhile, I walked in Jesus’ freedom making wise choices when it came to healthy boundaries in relationships. Then I ran into a situation that brought all of my relationship insecurities to the surface. I panicked and ended up rejecting Jesus’ freedom.
I returned to my “drug of choice” (unhealthy relationships) expectantly awaiting for the “high” that I had craved and received in the past. Unfortunately, the only thing I received was the “crash” that follows the high. The more desperately I sought the “high” the more rejected, depressed, and miserable I became. My worship disorder had become toxic to me.
Rejecting the freedom that Jesus had given me did not eliminate the fact that the I had been set free from my worship disorder. Jesus had changed me in the core of my person. I slowly began to recognize I would never again experience the “high” when I indulged in unhealthy relationships. If I persisted in rejecting Jesus’ freedom I would run the risk of being consumed by the toxic worship disorder.
I’d come to a fork in the road that required me to make a choice. I had to decide if I was willing to embrace the fact that I was a changed woman who had been set free or if I wanted to reject my freedom to return to the prison of my worship disorder.
With Jesus’ help I am in the ongoing process of learning to choose freedom each day.
This is a choice most of us will have to make in some way or another. It might not be the same worship disorder as mine, but all of us have areas in our lives where Jesus has given us freedom from our past. We have to choose to embrace that freedom knowing that Jesus has our best interests at heart. His freedom is always the better option. All He asks of each of us is to receive His gift of freedom so that we might live the wonderful life that He has planned for us.
Awhile ago I was listening to a sermon that actually made me angry. Everything the Pastor said seemed to push all of my buttons. I was tempted to stop listening to him, but something made me sit quietly absorbing his words.
His sermon was about addictions with his primary focus being Alcoholism. He spoke of how our society has embraced Alcoholism as a disease which he feels is inaccurate. Personally, he said that he has a hard time putting Alcoholism in the same category as a disease such as Cancer. He went on to say that even if a person is genetically predisposed to Alcoholism a choice to drink is still involved. On the other hand, when a person is diagnosed with Cancer there is normally not a choice of whether the person will get Cancer or not. (He did acknowledge that Cancer may sometimes be a consequence of a choice – e.g. smoking might lead to Lung Cancer.)
As a recovering Alcoholic (drug addict and food addict) I felt like he was rubbing sandpaper over all of my senses. Especially, when he said that categorizing Alcoholism as a disease takes accountability off of the shoulders of an Alcoholic. It was much easier to blame my genetic heritage for a disease than it was to hear that I had made a choice to be an Alcoholic.
As I continued to listen to his sermon a sense of truth began to invade my heart. Then he made the following statement, “We were all created to worship. God created us to worship Him, but we’ve chosen to worship things and other people instead of God.”
The Biblical word for addictions is…idol. Anything/anyone that takes God’s place as our object of worship is an idol. Worshipping idols creates in us a “worship disorder” that ends up imprisoning us in its clutches and fills us with the lie that tells us that our idol is our savior.
My addiction to alcohol was my attempt to worship a short-term functional savior – something that would temporarily set me free from my inner turmoil and pain. The thing about worship disorders (addictions/idols) is that they make promises that they can’t deliver.
The reason I drank was to drown my sorrows. I remember on numerous occasions thinking, “If I just have a drink I’ll feel better. I won’t hurt as much. The pain will go away if I’m drunk.” Sure, that was true for a brief moment, but it was simply a bandaid that only worked for the short-term. In truth all that drinking did was keep me enslaved to the alcohol. As long as I continued to worship alcohol as my savior I would never know true freedom.
For years I jumped from one worship disorder to another. I never dealt with the root of the problem that was driving me to participate in the addictive behaviors. Our culture tends to try to change the behavior of a person (e.g. An alcoholic just needs to stop drinking to no longer be an alcoholic) instead of seeking the root that births the behavior. Whereas Jesus, helps a person uncover the root of the problem which results in a healed person followed by a change in their behaviors.
Because we were created to worship we will all worship someone or something…it is in our spiritual DNA. It is only when we choose to worship Jesus that we can be made whole – body, mind, and spirit. Once we do that He will set us free from all our worship disorders!