Thursday, April 20, 2017

Come to the Table {Prayer for Spring Retreat}



“So David said to him, ‘Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.’” 2 Samuel 9:7

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for you to prepare the participants of Deeper Still to come to the table with open hearts.  I pray they would choose you and be willing and ready to come to the table and feast on all your goodness and receive all you have for them.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

We had a situation last night with one of our children which led to this child feeling as if eating alone was what was deserved rather than at the table with the rest of the family.  Minutes before this child had expressed feeling unworthy of anything good.  We gently encouraged this child to come to the table and eat with us.  We affirmed worthiness, love, and grace.  With tear filled eyes, this child stayed at the table, embracing our love and acceptance.  Once again realizing, nothing can separate this child from our love.  We want all our children at our table. 

Our Heavenly Father wants ALL His children at His table. 

In 2 Samuel 9, we find the story of Mephibosheth.  In this story, King David asked his servant if there was anyone of the house of Saul left for him to bless.  He was told of the son of Jonathan, Mephibosheth, who lived in Lo Debar.  Jonathan had been King Saul’s son and David’s best friend.  Jonathan and David loved each other and made a covenant with each other to care for each other’s households.  It had been over twenty years since Jonathan and King Saul had died in battle.  David had forgotten about the covenant until that day. 

When King David found Mephibosheth, he did not feel worthy to sit at the king’s table.  He said to David, “What is your servant that you should look upon a dead dog as I?” Mephibosheth saw himself as a “dead dog”.   It says in the passage that Mephibosheth was lame in both his feet, which happened when he was a young boy and his servant carried him and dropped him while fleeing from the palace after King Saul and Jonathan died.  Mephibosheth was living in Lo Debar, a place where all the outcasts of society lived. Then one day David remembered the covenant he had with Jonathan and everything changed for Mephibosheth.  Not only was he seated at the King’s table, the land of his father was restored to him as well.

Those with abortion-wounded hearts often feel like “dead dogs”, unworthy to sit at the King’s table.  They may see themselves as lame.  However, that is not the truth.  That is not their identity.  The truth is Jesus Christ made us whole. Their true identity is that of a son or daughter of the King, fully welcome at His table to feast on His blessings, goodness and grace. 

God has made a covenant, a new covenant with his sons and daughters and wants them to reclaim their seats at His table! And He not only desires His children at His table with Him, He also wants to restore all that was stolen.  The covenant we have with our Father through the blood of Jesus Christ does not restore only part of our inheritance, but all.  He paid so ALL could be restored.  We just need to be willing to come to the table.  

Please pray for our participants coming next weekend to come with open hearts, ready to receive all the Lord has for them at His table.  www.godeeperstill.org

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Hope Resurrects

“Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?’ Then He took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying.” 
John 11:40-41a

Lord Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for us, and paying the price for all sin and death.  Thank you in this Holy week and in all weeks, we can look and see Your glory in Your resurrection power all around us.  Thank you for bringing what is dead in us to life again.  In Your precious and Holy name we pray, Amen.

Hope is a small word with big worth.

The darkness of this world can almost swallow us up if we allow it. 

Two sisters, friends of Jesus, were in pain a little over two thousand years ago.  They buried their brother.  It not only seemed hopeless, it was naturally hopeless.
 
Until Jesus…
 
“Did I not tell you if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

During worship at church recently, my heart pounded as I thought of the pain three dear friends were enduring…

A marriage broken by an affair.

Another marriage strangled by addiction.

Diagnosis of a chronic illness.

With tears I asked my Lord about all this pain.  In the quietness of my spirit, from deep within, these words muffled the music,

 “Did I not say that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” 

Lord, what are you saying?  Believe.  Hope. 

Two thousand years ago…

A friend of Jesus laid in a grave while two sisters grieved.

Jesus, the coming Messiah, hung on a cross…crucified.  It seemed hopeless.
 
Things are not always as they seem.

Dare we hope?

 The other day my ten year old daughter scribbled these words on a wipey board in her room,
“Let all fears become hope.”


Hope illuminates the darkness and blazes light to dispel fear.  

Hope brings belief and belief becomes the glory of God.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for. (Hebrews 11:1)

Our Hope and Lord died, was buried and resurrected in glory.  Our Hope is Him.  He resurrects.

Hope resurrects.

Dare to hope today.  Dare to believe.  Dare to give God a chance to show you His glory.

Dare to believe He will resurrect and infuse life into dead places and dissipate the dark.
 
Will you believe the Lord with me when He says, “Did I not say if you believe you will see the glory of God?”

Happy Resurrection Sunday!!   May you see the Glory of God. 

What is it you need a resurrection in today?  Leave it in the comments.  We would love to pray for you. 





Thursday, April 6, 2017

Feeling Unworthy in the Upper Room


“And he arose and came to his father.  But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.  And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet…for this my son was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found.  And they began to be merry.”  Luke 15: 20-21

Lord Father, we pray for those who feel unworthy due to the sin of abortion to find healing, freedom and truth.  Lord, thank you that you never run from our need but instead, you run to us and embrace our need.  Lord, we pray for those with abortion-wounded hearts to rise and come to you and receive their robe of righteousness and ring of worthiness in the Son.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Above the library in the church was a quaint meeting room like an after-thought finishing of an attic-an upper room.   The ceiling angled to a point, stretching as if it begged to reach heaven.  It felt comfortable and safe.  Every Sunday, our Sunday School class would meet there.  An elder couple led the group of couples ranging in age from early 20's just married to mid-thirties with kids.  I was in the early 20's group and had recently given my life to Jesus.  Feelings of unworthiness haunted me in spite of the comfortable and safe upper room.  “What if they knew?” My thoughts tormented me.  

Then one day I couldn’t take anymore.  I don’t remember the question but my heart was pounding like if I didn’t answer it would burst out of my chest.  In between sobs, my words cascaded like a waterfall dammed up and then let loose.  Darkness clouded my vision, my sight blurry from tears and eyes partly shut.  It was as if part of me rationalized if I can’t see them, they won’t see me.  Maybe they won’t truly see me. 

All I could say is, “Jesus has saved me from so much.  I’m not the same person I once was.  I’m ashamed of who I was and I fear you wouldn’t like me if you knew what I have done.  I don’t feel worthy to be in this class or with all you wonderful people.  You all seem like you have known Jesus forever.   I’m afraid I’m not good enough to be here.” 

After exposing my heart and fears to this group of about 20 young married couples, I’m not sure what I expected.  Perhaps I was looking for a “Me too” or  “I understand.  I’ve been where you are and you are not alone.”  I’m not sure they knew how to respond to all that raw pent up emotion breaking loose.  Then the bell rang and I sat, slightly unsure of my next move.   Maybe I was alone.   Then one girl responded.  She was a new friend.  I didn’t really have Christian friends yet, but she was becoming a friend.  She responded— the only one.

She walked up to my chair.  It was a moment forever etched in my mind.  Instead of running from my need, she embraced it.  Her words were ones of invitation.  She wanted to know me.  She wasn’t afraid of my brokenness.  She saw me, truly saw me and decided I was worth knowing.  Isn't that the longing of every human heart--for someone to decide you are worth knowing? And we are still close friends today, nearly 19 years after that initial invitation in the upper room.

Feelings of unworthiness are common for men and women who have experienced abortion.  Feelings of being less-than cause those with abortion-wounded hearts to choose less-than. 



My friend knew something I didn’t know at that point in my life—Jesus didn’t see me as less-than

Jesus doesn’t see me as less-than.  Jesus sees those with abortion-wounded hearts as in need of a healer.  He doesn’t run from the need.  In contrary, He embraces the need.  He embraces you.  He invites you.  He isn’t afraid of your brokenness.  He truly sees you and decided a long time ago you are worth knowing.  You are not alone.  You are never alone and never have been alone.  Your healer delights in you and desires a close friendship with you.  Jesus is just waiting for you to respond to the invitation in the upper room.

If you have had an abortion and have struggled with feelings of unworthiness or feeling less-than, you can go to www.godeeperstill.org to find out how to register for a retreat.  This is your invitation from the One who responds to your every need.

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Men Have Abortion-Wounded Hearts Too

Please share this post today to bring an awareness that men can be wounded by abortion and also need healing. 



“But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him.”  Luke 9: 32

Father, we know there are men out there who have been sleeping.  There are men with abortion-wounded hearts who we need to arise from their slumber and see Your glory.  Father, we ask for you to awaken this nation to the truth that abortion is not just a women issue, but it affects the hearts of fathers as well.  We ask for an awareness that many men were never given a choice on if their children lived.  Lord, comfort those who grieve the loss of their children and bring them healing.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

There was an article published a couple months ago that mentioned how abortion affects not only women but also the men who encouraged the abortion.  While this is true, there was no mention of those men who didn’t encourage the abortion.  My heart is pained for anyone who has been affected by abortion, but when I read this article, I immediately thought of those men who were never given a choice or never had a voice.  There are many men who may have aborted children in heaven and will never know until the day they enter eternity. 

My friend, Jason, is a man who as mentioned above never had a choice.  Today, I asked him if I could share his story to awaken an awareness of truth.  Thank you, Jason, for sharing your story.
   
I had two major giants I’d been avoiding for many years. I’m going to share about one of them with you. He told me that in order to be used by Him the way that He intended my heart had to be whole. It started with facing the giant called Abortion.

I was with someone over 20 years ago who aborted two of my children. I wanted to keep each one of them but she felt very differently. I left town the night before she had the first abortion. I went out into the woods and camped. The morning she had the first abortion, at the exact time of her appointment, I stood by the river, looking out over the water and heard this voice say to me, “You’re damned. God has damned you”. I felt a part of me die that day.

She aborted my second child just a few months later and again I felt as if I was damned.  Over the years since then, I struggled with addiction, anxiety, shame, anger, and health issues. I had trouble looking people in the eyes.

Eventually, I rededicated my life to the Lord and had forgiven the mother of those children and myself, at least so I thought. I had prayed prayers of forgiveness, but deep down the disgust, the anger, the embarrassment, the rejection, and shame remained. I didn’t acknowledge the lives of those two precious children. I didn’t want to. I tried to pretend many times over that they never happened. I denied them over and over. I lived with this weight, this secret for over 20 years.

…Until I went up the mountain to the retreat site.  It’s not easy going up the mountain. It never is.  I was tempted to turn around, to give in to a ‘last minute something happened so I can’t make it’, or to back out of the cabin parking lot and drive away.

And that’s what I almost did. But then that I heard the Holy Spirit so gently say, “You can do this. You have to do this. I will be with you every step of the way. Nothing is impossible for me. It is for freedom that I have set you free.”

I pulled into the parking lot and I was immediately greeted by the smiling faces of the Deeper Still team.   I parked my car, got out (still afraid), and then Clay said “Hey”, and totally disarmed me. I immediately felt the love of God and knew right then that it was going to be ok.

Well, it turns out that it was better than ok. To put it simply, the retreat was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.  I was finally able to share my secret in a safe place and as the retreat progressed, the weight that I had carried with me for so long, began to lighten until it finally left once and for all. I experienced the true love of Jesus, deeper healing and a peace that I had never known before. I knew that I was not damned - I was loved and accepted, forgiven. Strongholds were broken that weekend. In one of the most touching segments of the retreat, I was finally able to embrace and acknowledge my two children, Ethan and Savannah. They became real to me.  I know they’re ok. They’re waiting for me and one day I will hold them in my arms and kiss their beautiful faces.
Deeper Still is one of the most incredible and anointed ministries I’ve been around. The love, spirit and organization of this ministry are like none other I’ve experienced.  The need for this ministry cannot be understated. 

I went up the mountain, a grasshopper. I came down the mountain a giant killer, a new creation in Christ. You see, I slayed one of my giants that weekend. The anxiety, shame, and anger I carried up the mountain were no longer there. The parts of me that died over 20 years ago were brought back to life. I felt a wholeness like never before. I got back the freedom to look people in the eyes, and the voice I lost was restored. It gave me the strength to face my other giant, which I’m in the process of doing now.

The stories the other men shared were amazing. Watching the progression of their restoration was healing and invigorating. Men, this ministry and the retreat is not for women only. There are men reading this who have been with someone who had an abortion, or perhaps you know a man who has gone through this. You may be forgiven, and you may have acknowledged the abortion to your pastor. But I want to encourage you to go deeper still. You have what it takes. Slay your giant. -Jason

If you fathered a child who was aborted, there is a safe place for you to go to find healing and freedom.  There are two spots left for men for the April retreat.  It is April 28-30.  You can go to www.godeeperstill.org for more information and to register.  Men, we need you.  We need you to be a voice for the voiceless.  Will you awake and see His glory?  His glory awaits you!

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Shift in the Atmosphere



“Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed saying, ‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.’  He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision.  Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure.”  Psalms 2:1-6

Oh Lord, You see the vain plotting of those in the world who do not understand You.  Father, they are deceived and do not know what they do.  At one time, we may have even joined in their depraved chorus.  Lord, open the eyes of those cloaked in deception.  Father, may they see the truth to avoid Your judgement. May their words be turned from bringing death to speaking life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I recently read an article in a popular teen magazine that brought tears.  Not tears of joy or even sadness, but tears of pain.  My heart ached for the one who wrote the article and for those who would join in applauding her exposé. 

In the article, the writer gave advice to friends of teens who are about to have an abortion or just had an abortion.  Her ideas for comfort included a variety of superficial gifts that boasted to aid the physical ailments after her “procedure.”  What this author disturbingly missed and what so many in the world fail to accept is that no amount of physical effort can comfort the pain of the heart ripped in pieces from this “surgical procedure.”  As women, we were called to bring forth life, not destroy it.  Everything about abortion goes against nature.  It goes against our natural instinct to protect and nurture the life inside our womb.  However, pro-abortion groups constantly insist there are no emotional, mental or spiritual ramifications for abortion—only a medical procedure. 

In fact these groups would have us believe that not only is it no big deal, it is also the new normal.  The depravity astounds and defies sanity.  I wrote a post on how one in three or four women in our churches have had an abortion.  My reason for this post was to bring awareness that there are 1 in 3 or 4 women in our churches who have abortion-wounded hearts and need healing.  About a month ago, I read an article from a pro-abortion group that also brought up this statistic but not for the purpose of bringing awareness of healing.  Rather the goal was to show that abortion is normal.  The very thought makes this heart cringe in pain.  To think of destroying the life of the unborn as normal is barbaric and should not be considered a viable viewpoint.   

However, there is hope.  In the past month, legislation in the house and acts by our new President have proven to be consistently for life.  There has been a shift in the atmosphere and where there is a shift, there is bound to be turbulence.  We can expect to see more pro-abortion groups and those who support them to come out speaking in support of abortion. It is important to pray for these people.  Pray for the Lord to open their eyes and hearts to His truth.  Pray they see the hurt caused by abortion --as an unborn life taken and the mother and father hearts devastated.   Pray for life to continue to win and for the hope of light overcoming the darkness to spread from this shining city on a hill to the vast domains of the earth. 

As later on in Psalm 2 it says, “Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession.”  Amen. 


Monday, February 6, 2017

Why I Love White Crosses: My Journey From Anger to Love


"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you."  Jeremiah 1:5

Father, we praise you and give you thanks for all you are doing in our nation to bring others the truth about life.  We thank you for servant leaders who will listen to your voice and stand for life. Your word says, “I bring before you life and death.”  The choice you give is simple.  From what we say to the actions we choose daily, we choose life or death.  I pray we would be a nation and a people that continually chooses life and honors life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

These past weeks have been historically significant regarding pro-life and the national March for Life was last weekend. Spring isn’t quite here in East Tennessee, but with all these happenings, there is a sense of new life emerging.  The atmosphere feels like a new day, a revolution of life bursting forth. However, there may be some whose pain has been awakened along with the revolution.  I understand your pain and there is hope.  Today, I want to share a story of a Spring in my life that was filled with pain and death.  The Lord healed me another Spring day, in April 2013 at my Deeper Still Retreat many years later…

The dogwood trees were blooming, shouting new life for all who passed. Squirrels scurried up and down the trees gathering nuts. The white blossoms sprinkled the blanket of emerald grass on the quad of my college campus. Many times I had traveled this path. Many days and hours were spent on this grass studying for a test or reading an assignment.    

But this day was different. This day as I walked home from a college class, the warm sun was reflected by the white flowers on the ground almost masking the larger cloud of white up ahead. I drew closer, the blurred image cleared and became a vision forever imprinted in my mind.

White Crosses. 

This was my first encounter with the crosses after my abortion.  As I walked up, I wondered what the crosses represented.  A sign was posted…

"Each cross represents the death of 1 million babies aborted."  


Anger rose from the depths of my soul--an anger hidden and buried. 

Spring was exploding with life, but all I saw was death.

Beside the white crosses, a sweet young college student stood handing out brochures. This brave young girl was taking a stand for life.  But I didn’t see her as brave or sweet.  Wounded eyes clouded my vision.  A soul filled with brokenness, depression, and void of hope was my processing filter.  Those crosses uprooted the wounds of my heart, my abortion-wounded heart.   

My thoughts raced, “How dare they put up those crosses!  How dare they make a marker for a grave that was never dug!  How dare they make this statement proclaiming with abortion there would be one dead, in need of a tombstone, in need of a white cross. Don't they know!  Don't they know the pain this causes?  Don't they care?  They don't know what I have been through.  They don't understand my pain.” 

The anger buried beneath the surface erupted like a carbonated beverage shook too hard and then abruptly opened.  All the pain pent up deep inside was unleased on that poor sweet girl.  Then I ran back to my college dorm.  Crying. Broken. Wounded.  Depressed. Hopeless.  

This outward manifestation was but a glimpse of the hemorrhaging happening on the inside, a cutting of my own affliction.  Those white crosses on a field of green sprinkled with white flowers revealed the anger and pain in me and my need for the Cross of Jesus, the only one who could heal my wounds and free me from the tormenting chains of shame, guilt, and anger.  

January 22 was Sanctity of Life Sunday.  Perhaps on your path over the last few weeks, you came across white crosses or other symbols of life.

Before I went to my Deeper Still retreat and received a deeper healing, the sight of white crosses made me cringe.  However, the white crosses no longer bring me pain. Now all I see is beauty. The white crosses are beautiful, lovely, and honoring.

Above are written some of my thoughts that spring day, “They don't know what I have been through.  They don't understand my pain.”

When we receive healing, it is then that we can begin to take our eyes off ourselves and our need for healing and begin to see the bigger picture and honor the children lost.  It becomes not about our pain any longer, but about a person—a person deserving of honor. 

Talking about abortion, the crosses, standing for life and sharing abortion testimonies will bring up pain in the abortion-wounded.  What I want others to understand is this tension is not bad.  In contrary, this is good.  We need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit when sharing about any topic, but perhaps hushing is hindering the Holy Spirit from doing a much needed work in people who need to hear the hard stuff.  God uses the hard to stir up a discontentment for the status quo and open eyes to our need for Him to heal.  It is easy to ignore the pain when it has been numbed and dormant.

The pain of recovery is temporal.  The pain of denial is infinite.

The crosses not only contribute to the revealing of the need for healing but also honor those deserving of honor. The crosses represent a life created in the image of God cut too short.  As a church body, we need to acknowledge those most vulnerable.  As a society, we need to acknowledge the loss suffered and offer healing.  These are not just crosses, they are lives and we honor them. 











Thursday, January 19, 2017

Come and See




“And Nathaneal said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’  Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’”  John 1:46

Oh Lord, we thank you for the miracles and wondrous works You have performed in Your people wounded from abortion.  Lord, I pray that as the stories are told, You are glorified and those in attendance at the banquet would come and see that You are our mighty Healer, whose mercies never fail.  Lord, we ask for You to do a mighty work at the banquet and may all Your purposes be fulfilled in it.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Prejudice can take hold and strangle the view of light.  When that hold is released, our eyes are opened to see the works of God in unexpected places. 

One of the first to follow Jesus was Philip.  Philip was a friend of Nathanael.  He went to him and told him about Jesus. 

“Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote of Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’’  John 1: 45

However, Nathanael had a prejudice against those in Nazareth.  From reading research and commentaries, Nazareth was a small town and disregarded in stature.  The Jewish people had been waiting centuries for the Messiah to come as prophesied by Isaiah.  Pomp and circumstance were overshadowed by a manger and a small town man.  Nathanael had a predetermined idea of the Messiah and Nazareth didn’t fit the mold.  It was because of his preconceived ideas, he nearly missed a divine meeting with the Messiah. 

No matter where someone is from, this truth remains:  When God enters into the picture, He changes the darkest of circumstances into a bouquet of life.  The Lord loves using those we would least expect.  In fact,  1 Corinthians 1:27-28 states, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty, and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen.”

Abortion is dark.  Nothing good comes from it. And in fact, some may despise those who have had abortions.  But God loves to turn those overcome with darkness into dauntless warriors for His Kingdom proclaiming the truth of His love and life for all who will come and see. 
 
When God enters into that place where nothing good can come, He brings life where only death once reigned.  He showers down healing to the dry barren lands.  He shines light until all darkness is expelled.  He releases the slave and the captive is not only freed, but becomes a force of reckoning.  This is the miracle of meeting the Messiah.  This is the miracle one must come and see.
 
“Come and see the works of God;  He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men.”  Psalms 66:5