Truthful Tuesday – Trusting God Again after Abuse

series (1)

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The painful reminders of abuse that come will soon dissipate and become reminders of God’s grace and healing, instead.

Scriptures of the Day:

1 Corinthians 6:18

“Flee sexual immorality! “Every sin a person commits is outside of the body”–but the immoral person sins against his own body.”

I confess I have had this blog entry scheduled before but just did not want to write it. Still, my Spirit urges me on. I could never do justice to the pain so many have endured, but perhaps I can ease that pain with the truth of God’s comfort in the midst.

Abuse is one of those words that causes the human spirit to want to avoid the subject. We just don’t want to talk about it. It makes us uncomfortable and often victims of abuse themselves feel ashamed or judged, too. The mere thought of such a carnal act happening to one who is made in the image of God is unspeakable.

Sins committed outside the body are bad enough, but harming another person by abusing them physically, emotionally, sexually or spiritually produces devastating consequences that are not easily overcome and repercussions can last a lifetime.

I know what it was like to be a little girl told to be silent. As much as the pain of multiple attempts was on my soul, I can look back and see the hand of God guiding me. I have walked through emotional and spiritual abuse, as well, and the ensuing torment of trying to be free from it. Through it all I learned that God did not cause the devastation of my soul – His character could never do such a thing – but He would heal me and help me to overcome.

Even though the enemy of our souls can use hardship to create doubt in our minds over the goodness of God, our God does not cause the evil that man chooses by his own free will. Instead, our God chose the human suffering we sought to avoid and to bear our pain and sorrows.

So what causes abuse? This fallen world is full of people needful of God, but many who choose to satisfy their flesh instead and fill their righteous need with a wicked counterfeit. The lust of the eyes and the flesh never have their fill, but those who have seen their true need of God and choose to accept His grace and salvation are redeemed from living for the flesh. They see their God-given purpose of knowing God and making Him known, of living a godly life – and don’t waste it on sin.

But what about the wounded people, left in the wake of someone’s decision to harm them and to take the most personal thing they have to offer? What hope is there for them? Abundant hope. Raw, transparent moments. Encounters with a living God. Patient healing.

Hurting another human soul in such a manner is evil and damages the faith of the victim. But God. I love those two words. God is indeed able to take the deepest wound and heal. The process is itself painful, but with such a wound it takes time.

Recognizing our hurt and not concealing it is so hard to do. Seeing what the abuse has caused in our lives and courageously exposing the bitter root and possible resulting sin in ourselves is the path toward victory. Sometimes the pain is so deep we just don’t want to face the reality of it. But the word of God can meet us in that place if we will apply it.

As we peel back the layers of our heart to reveal the root of our hurt – how God could allow this suffering in the first place, we begin to understand our wound is first a spiritual one. Why does God not spare us from the sins of others hurting us so deeply? Perhaps we are even asking, “Why doesn’t He give us a perfect life?” Such questions reveal a desire for God to bless us, but they also reveal a heart attitude that says we will love and trust God only when good is allowed into our lives.

But it is scary to trust God again, isn’t it? How do we trust again? When we feel like God does not see, we refute that lie with the many Scriptures that show He does. When we feel like he will not defend us, we focus instead on the truths in God’s word that He is a righteous judge – our Defender, Protector and Savior.

God cares about our feelings – we can run to Him with our turmoil and grief. But feelings are not facts. He will transform our understanding as we get into His word. This website offers a lot of verses to help. God also helps us to have faith that He can heal us as we place our burdens in His hands.

Whether it is a wound from being abused, or having dear loved ones harmed in such a way, God is able to help us trust again and to forgive, as well. Sometimes life will look a lot different and we have to protect ourselves from relationships that could cause further harm, but in all of it we know that God will use it all for His good and our glory. He promises to and He is not a man that He should lie.

The scars left behind, the searing pain in the soul will soften over time. The painful reminders of abuse that come will soon dissipate and become reminders of God’s grace and healing, instead. Here is a song the LORD gave me when He revealed my lack of trusting in Him from all that I had suffered: Layers. God wants to heal you. He knows your pain and sees you. He is trustworthy and He loves you so very much.

Lord, thank You for setting our hearts free and healing us from all the sins in this world. You have overcome and we walk in Your victory because of Your amazing grace!

Truthful Tuesday: The Relic’s Power

relic or good luck charm

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Trusting in religion or religious relics are not a substitute for a vibrant relationship with God. If we want God to go with us, we have to go with God.

Scriptures of the Day:

1 Samuel 4:3

“When the army came back to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why did the LORD let us be defeated today by the Philistines? Let’s take with us the ark of the covenant of the LORD from Shiloh. When it is with us, it will save us from the hand of our enemies.”

Back in middle school I went through a very challenging time.  Sexual abuse, multiple divorces and moves rocked my home and I was looking for answers. Some friends introduced me to the occult, including games like “bloody Mary” and levitation games while another gave me a picture of a European-looking Jesus in a frame.

I began to experience supernatural things that were not Holy and realized I was getting into trouble. I did not know God, but I wanted to. As I grasped the picture of Jesus, I asked Him to protect me.  Somehow I felt safer with the picture, but looking back now I know the picture did not do anything – it was a tender heart crying out to God that made the difference.

It makes me sad when I see people clutching icons or relics thinking that they bring life or comfort. They can serve as a symbol reminding us of God, but they can also become an obstacle and idolatry.  They cannot save.  Only God can.

The Israelites were befuddled that the LORD had allowed them to fail. They were on the right “team”.  How could God forsake them?  Or was it the other way around?

The slow creep to religiosity is barely perceivable, but it happens, nonetheless. Slowly we begin to get comfortable and instead of crying out we just expect God to favor us because we are the King’s kids. Trouble is, the kids begin to compromise and forget that they need to be under His Lordship to receive the promised blessings.

Instead of crying out to God, the Israelites thought the ark could save them. The presence of the LORD was there, and they wanted that insurance. They reduced the presence of God to a good luck charm. The end result was their devastation. God cannot be manipulated and our disobedience does not require Him to still “pull through” for us. In His mercy, He will restore and forgive, but it is after we have learned what we needed to from our mistakes. As a loving Father, He could do nothing less.

Though sorrow may last for a night, joy will come in the morning. If we can somehow get into our hearts that the amazing unconditional love of God longs to comfort us, longs for us to be in relationship with Him. Substitutes just will not satisfy. Though part of His care is allowing us to learn from our errors, the redemptive plan of God is the other side.  He will hear and answer when we cry out and He beautifully weaves together every aspect of our lives with Himself.

God wants to save us, but He longingly draws us to Himself; not a religion, not a picture or a statue – just Himself – and that is all we need.

Lord, thank You for Your mercy in opening my eyes to understand my sinful condition and need of You.  How can it be? Please help us to run to You and no one or nothing on this earth.  

#SeeingDeep #DenisePassMusic

Thoughtful Thursday: The Righteous vs. the Unrighteous

Psalm 36:1-4

“For the music director; written by the LORD’s servant, David; an oracle. An evil man is rebellious to the core. He does not fear God, for he is too proud to recognize and give up his sin.  The words he speaks are sinful and deceitful; he does not care about doing what is wise and right.  He plans ways to sin while he lies in bed; he is committed to a sinful lifestyle; he does not reject what is evil.”

Malachi 3:18

“Then once more you will see that I make a distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between the one who serves God and the one who does not.”

1 John 3:7

“Little children, let no one deceive you: The one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as Jesus is righteous.

Psalm 38:18

“Yes, I confess my wrongdoing, and I am concerned about my sins.”

Psalm 45:7

“You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of joy above Your fellows.”

No one is righteous, no not one, and yet God counts us as righteous.  How can this be?  The blood of Jesus Christ covers our sins and makes us as white as snow.  Such a costly sacrifice should ever be before us, so that we remember the expectation that comes with so magnificent of a gift.

In this politically correct society, we dare not say that some are wicked and some are more righteous than another, but God has said it in His Word.  Of course I am not suggesting that we go around judging one another and compare our own righteousness – that is folly.  We, who have nothing good in us are not capable of judging another man’s heart, but these Scriptures above help us to examine our own hearts.

The deeds of the wicked are obvious, but the thoughts of the heart are not.  I love the word, “practices” used in the the book of 1 John, above.  It does not indicate that I am trying to be righteous in my own strength, but rather seeking after God and living in such a way as to follow after Jesus.  We will never arrive to perfection on this earth.  We practice because we are ever in the company of our flesh that we must be constantly putting to death.  How do we recognize our faults? Looking into the mirror of God’s Word.

By recognizing our wickedness and confessing our sins, we find mercy and are filled with joy.  Living the godly life is not a miserable, boring life.  It is living as God intended – having fellowship with Him and loving others.  Living for the flesh is a miserable account; especially if you belong to the Kingdom of God – the Holy Spirit will chase you down.  Thank God that He has left us with a Helper.  We do not have to live in ignorance of our sin anymore.

The biggest difference between the righteous and unrighteous is conviction.  The unrighteous do not care that they are sinning; they consider it folly to be concerned with sin.  The righteous are stricken to the core for their sin and troubled enough with their sin to run to the One Who can heal them.

God reveals our sins to us because He loves us.  A sinful lifestyle harms us and separates us from Himself.  We might recognize sin in others, but God did not ask us to seek out other’s sins.  If we see sin in another person, may we be humble enough to see that we are no better and approach in gentleness with redemption being the goal, not accusation.

The church is God’s agent on this earth to reveal our condition before a Holy God and to share God’s salvation.  All to often we find judgement and shunning – even in the body of Christ – because we see some imperfection in one another.  This is laughable – if we could only accept one another because we were perfect, there would not be one member in the body of Christ.  We were meant to be a light to extinguish sin in the world, not a judge waiting to condemn, when we have received mercy ourselves.  Sin kills – are we going to let another soul die?

By God’s grace, we are no longer numbered as unrighteous; may we never forget that.  But may we also never forget what it was like to be unrighteous and seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus, throwing a lifeline to the lost, so that they may be found.

Lord, I am forever grateful that You opened my eyes to see my sin and saved me.  Please help the church to hate the sin but love the sinner, that Your amazing gift of salvation can reach more people and rescue them from sin and death.

How to Heal from Trauma

Psalm 107:13-16

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.”

Psalm 147:3

“He heals the brokenhearted, and bandages their wounds.”

Let the words from the Scriptures above reach down into your soul and bring healing.  Our God is able to bring us out of dark times and burst our bonds.  He is able to shatter doors of bronze and iron.  What does that mean?  He is stronger than anything in our lives and able to help us overcome what seems insurmountable.  Whatever has us shackled, whether it is the past, filled with heart breaking sorrow, or the future that we are dreading as some news threatens to steal your joy, everything is possible for we who are overcomers in Christ Jesus.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving God.  Fragile enough to be harmed, but strong enough to recover.  But sometimes the hurt goes so deep and has affected us so profoundly that it appears hopeless that we will ever see real healing.

Life is hard enough without all the harm people do to other people.  Growing in responsibilities and facing all of life’s surprises is made significantly more difficult when we go through something so horrific it alters our very existence and approach in life.

Emotional turmoil brought on by traumatic events is not an easy fix.  We can see easily enough wounds wrought on the surface, whether it is a scraped knee or a more serious physical injury, but the wounds to the heart and the human spirit are not so easily discerned or healed.  How does one heal from abuse?  A sudden death?  A diagnosis that is too hard to bear?

Jesus.  Yes, I know – it is the answer everyone says in Sunday school class when they don’t know the answer.  Ironically enough, He is the answer.  What does it mean to give someone Jesus?  It means running to His Word and searching for comfort there.  It means that people who have been traumatized just want to be understood.  We do not just want meals or wise words thrown at us.  We need someone to weep with us and help us to see that God does have a hope and a future. We need someone to climb down in the pit with us and help us find a new way of functioning; acknowledging the sorrow but then asking God with us for wisdom and for His solution as well as practical helps.

I write today as one who has endured a lot of significant trauma in my life and seen God’s healing hand in my life.  I write as someone who wants to help other people I love dearly and people I do not know receive this same healing.  Facing the trauma takes bravery and honesty.  We have to expose the lies.  We are not the only one.  Part of trauma’s potent blow is that we feel isolated, strange, different because we have suffered something that we do not want to utter. No one else wants to hear about it, either.  Choosing to not believe the lies that are encompassing us about as we try to grab onto some hope that we will not always be “damaged” is nothing short of miraculous.

Sometimes the only trust we can have is in the fact that God is good and that He keeps His promises.  Even believing this truth is challenging when we are myopic and our view is clouded by our pain.

Believing that we are not defined by our deepest sorrow takes faith.  It means taking God at His word.  Despite the fact that our suffering has affected us in such negative ways, the only label we need bear is “child of God”.  Not “victim”, not “strange”, but “beloved” and “cherished” and “healed” by a God Who loves us.

When we do not have the strength to muster to proclaim that we have overcome and we no longer have it in us to keep going, that place which seems like an end is a new beginning.  At the end of ourselves, we can only look to Jesus.  Like the woman who grabbed the cloak of Jesus in desperation, we need to come to that end of trying to make it on our own and admit our need of Him to heal us.  We are not strong enough or wise enough to heal on our own,  but our God Who made us is.

Lord, there are so many hurting people and my heart breaks for each one.  I know You are enough – help me to be Your hands and feet and to bring healing to your children through Your Word and Your holy Spirit.  Help all victims to arise as victors in Christ; give us strength and heal us from the deepest place of our wounds and show Yourself as Almighty God.  Nothing is too difficult for You, our Jehovah Rapha.

Worshipful Wednesday: He Delights in You

Psalms 147:3, 6, 11, 14 (NET)

“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. 6 The LORD lifts up the oppressed, but knocks the wicked to the ground. 11 The Lord takes delight in His faithful followers, and in those who wait for His loyal love.  14 He has made His people victorious and given all His loyal followers reason to praise – the Israelites, the people who are close to Him – praise the LORD!”

Psalm 149:4 (ISV)

“For the LORD is pleased with his people; he beautifies the afflicted with salvation.”

Zephaniah 3:17

“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

There is nothing so precious as the smile on a child’s face when that child knows they are delighted in.  Almost embarrassed from the expression of love surrounding them, the smile gives away their delight in the security of your love. In much the same way, a spouse can sense when they are adored – it makes the soul happy to be the source of someone else’s delight.

It is that part of our being that craves acceptance, wants to know we are pleasing, that yearns for a Daddy’s love, which only God can fill.  Much like Adam and Eve, we are easily deceived and tend to want to hide from God when we think we have not lived up to His expectations.  All the while He is saying, come to me – you who I love with an unconditional, everlasting love – and let me wash you and make you as white as snow.

Time and time again people will let us down.  But perhaps we are going to them for the acceptance that God can only give. It is painful to have to be so needful – we would rather be in the position of strength, giving to others.  But it is on the receiving end of such a love that we are truly able to give that love out to others, as well.

Are we weary, beaten down, feel like we can never experience the goodness of God?  Come.  He delights in you.  Do we feel the sting of rejection from others?  Come, He delights in you.  Do we hurt from afflictions of this fallen world – diseases, betrayal, failure?  Come, dear one.  He delights in you!

Tears well in my eyes when I consider His faithful love.  Never fading, always accepting.  Fully knowing, yet chasing after us to reveal His steadfast love to us.  As we are delighted in, so may we delight in Him.  Living like we are delighted in makes all the difference in the world.  Made in His image, secure in His love, we can delight in others, as well,

Lord, help us to rest in the knowledge of Your delight in us.  Heal wounds in Your children today all for Your glory.

I Must Be Dreaming

I Must Be Dreaming
By: Denise Pass © 7/9/14

reflecting on a pond - possible seeing deep

Psalm 71:20-24
:20 Though You have allowed me to experience much trouble and distress, revive me once again! Bring me up once again from the depths of the earth! 21 Raise me to a position of great honor! Turn and comfort me! 22 I will express my thanks to you with a stringed instrument, praising your faithfulness, O my God! I will sing praises to you accompanied by a harp, O Holy One of Israel! 23 My lips will shout for joy! Yes, I will sing your praises! I will praise you when You rescue me! 24 All day long my tongue will also tell about your justice, for those who want to harm me will be embarrassed and ashamed.”

Dreaming. Something I seldom do anymore – or at least I am unaware of it if I do. But that is to speak of the dreaming that occurs when one is sleeping – not the dreaming that occurs on purpose in real life. I have always admired the planners in this life – you know, the people who declared their major before they went to school – the ones who seem to have their whole lives planned out for them, without a hitch. The ones with a bucket list a mile long and half accomplished by age twenty-something.

I have tried to refrain from admitting it, but I am the artsy type – many think I am actually quite organized (chuckle), but truly I hang on the edge of every day, wondering what surprises it will bring. Sure, there are great attempts at using my ©Franklin planner and really trying to stick to it, but alas, consistency is hard to adhere to when one is just trying to accomplish the basics of their day, much less find their planner. There, I did it – the secret is now out – all those people who envied me for being organized, I have confessed it! Envy me no more!

Back in the days when I used to dream, in the year my world was rocked, the Lord was doing amazing things in the music He had inspired. Radio play in eleven states, first place in a Christian Contemporary category on an internationally televised show, an offer to be on a national compilation CD … things were coming together. Then disaster struck and none of that mattered anymore. I just wanted to hold my children in my arms and make all the pain go away.

Prolonging out the pain and process, my relentless enemy who used to be my friend dragged me incessantly to court claiming rights through the damage he had done. How would God use such a tragedy? Did He care that I was way off the goals I had formerly been pursuing? Was the original prophecy that had been spoken concerning the gifts He had placed in me no longer of any effect? It was the death of a dream, actually the death of many dreams and plans. The perfect marriage, the perfect family, a vibrant ministry. Dead.

But what was the original dream? Set ablaze with a passion for God in 1988, I wanted to be used by God for His glory, to share His love with anyone who God allowed to cross my path. I dreamed of doing mission work, of singing for His glory, to be more like Christ, to be faithful. When hands were laid on me professing that I would be singing and playing keyboard on stage and I was a Euphonium player at the time, I laughed. But has that dream been accomplished? Yes. The scope of that dream belongs to God – I just need to be open to how small or vast His purposes are in that gift, because it is, after all, all about Him and His dream.

Music has been the healing balm of my life, and yet it became difficult to write songs in the wake of tragedy. I continued to serve on worship teams, worshipping God through the pain and waiting. Functioning on a somewhat normal level seemed insurmountable. One foot in front of the other, one breath at a time, scrambling to put the pieces back together. But maybe God was going to create something completely different with the pieces this time.

One day a year or so after the abuse was discovered, I remember teaching my children and one of my daughters said to me, “you are Ai Wei Dei”. Puzzled, she reminded me of the story of Gladys Aylward that we had read together. She was saying I was a virtuous woman. Overcome by such praise, I realized in that moment that I had been doing exactly what God had me to do. Gladys Aylward rescued innocent children in China. I did not do anything as amazing as that, but I lived in a town called Bumpass (yep, true!) where God was using me to rescue my own children, and that was of far greater worth than what my former dream could have ever been.

Life will never be normal again (whatever that is?) and I am still the artsy one trying to figure out God’s calling on my life. I have heard that God is in the ordinary things of life – that is our Holy calling. So for now, I am laying it all down before the Creator Who gave it all to begin with and asking afresh for Him to do as He pleases. A scary thing when some things that have transpired seemed to be off course and not what He would will, but actually the safest place to be.

So here is to dreaming again – though this time it might look quite different. Whether my dreams are being an amazing wife to my fantastic husband of almost four years, being a faithful mom who never tires of discipling and loving her children, writing songs for God, writing this blog, stepping out and ministering through Word and song again, or some perceived mundane thing, or wherever His path leads, it is all about Him and His glory. Creating space to dream again – are you?

Lord, thank you that an end is not the end. You are never surprised by the sudden changes wrought by sin or consequences of living in a fallen world. You use that hideous thing for good and to somehow bring You glory – the original purpose anyway. Help us to dream again – to believe You can do the impossible and be willing to walk faithfully with you even when it seems our dreams are not coming true. They are Your dreams, after all. Praise Your Name!

Life in Death, part three

Part 3 Writing 101

(Part 3 of the series)

Freedom comes at a high price.  You often have to lose or sacrifice much to find it.  Sometimes the toll is so high, you would probably not have paid it if you knew ahead of time what it would cost you.  But then there is this new found freedom that you did not expect.  The thing you dreaded and hoped would never be a part of your story has happened.  Living in reality can sting, but the new joy mingled with past pain, would never have been achieved had you not walked through the door of suffering.

Loss can be hard to deal with – especially if the one who inflicted the pain is still there.  Reminders of remorse are easily found in the midst of everyday life.  A familiar face or name or place, an old photograph.  So many things lost – what was thought to be a perfect family, normalcy, a heritage of no divorce, and our innocence.  The trauma and PTSD that follow as you seek to accept your new reality only serve to intensify the feeling of being lost that you cannot shake.

But there is a treasure to be found by those who persevere and use the pain as a tool to find their way to a new life.  Letting go of the former boundaries that defined happiness, our eyes are opened that we were actually imprisoned.  Being groomed and controlled was not freedom at all, and now we finally understand that although scary to undergo so much change, the horrifying scandal only served to deliver us.

What was lost could never compare with what has been found.  Understanding.  Wisdom.  Comfort.  Reality.  The ability to help others in ways I could not before.  Drawing nearer to Him – my God – Who truly is an ever-present help in time of need.  Sometimes getting lost is the only way you can truly be found.