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Archive for December, 2008


Although you may not recognize it yet, you’re a much more valuable person than you used to be. Because of the heartache you’ve endured and your willingness to take a hard look at the painful events surrounding your abuse, you have learned recovery skills that will help you live life more successfully. Unlike most, you can now look at life more realistically than ever before.

Because abuse is so personal, because it’s such an affront to who you are, each person who has had the experience believes their experience is unique. As they see it, nobody has ever suffered as unjustly as they have, but you know this isn’t true, don’t you?

Sadly, religious abuse is quite common. Multiplied millions have had suffered from it just like you. Most haven’t recovered from religious abuse, however, which means you know something they don’t. You know the way out; you know about the 11 STEPS. Most don’t have a clue about their abuse or about recovery. They’re still grinding out their days, suffering from shame, disappointment, and disillusionment.

You are in a unique position to help others—just as you’ve been helped. All you have to do is keep your eyes open and your ears peeled. God will bring as many people to you as you have the capacity to help—perhaps more. The problem is that severe, and those who can help, so few.

Be vigilant. Be open. Be involved. Regardless of whatever you’re involved in, helping others discover the freedom you now enjoy is part of your life and will remain so.

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The following entry came from an Australian woman who sent a comment for Pushing Jesus. The entry is long but worth reading. It makes me feel like what I’m doing is worthwhile-Jack.

Hi Jack – Dianne here

I have been contemplating Jesus crucifixion over the Christmas period, and I just posted this reflection on my blog site when yours came on my email.

I don’t expect you to post this comment – I just wanted to share this reflection though as it is not a perspective I have often seen.

Your post is timely for me – I am ready to get back into it but finding the right doors is not so easy. The blog site is helping me at least release some of the hope growing inside me.

Here it is!

WHAT IF OUR CRUCIFIXION IS GODS GREATEST GIFT TO US?

“My time has not yet come!” are words Jesus often said when confronted with his adversaries. The time he was referring to was the time of his crucifixion.

Jesus also asks us to “…take up our cross daily and follow him.”

These are tough words most of us just don’t want to hear.

When Jesus first spoke them, many who followed him left him. Was it because they were after the good things Jesus could give them rather than embracing the fullness of the opportunity to follow him even if it meant accepting crucifixion?

Isn’t this the same today?

How many people don’t go to church or listen to God’s word because they think it’s old fashioned and behind the times? How many say, “I am not going to let the church tell me how to live, and I live in sin. So what! It’s none of their damned business.”

Well, this reality got me to wondering about Jesus crucifixion.

When the devil tempted Jesus, we learn that angels were appointed to stop Jesus from stubbing his feet when he walked. Isn’t stubbing your foot a lot less painful than being crucified? – so where were the angels then? How come they didn’t intervene?

It is this thought that led me to the view maybe God’s greatest gift to his son Jesus was his crucifixion. If this is true, maybe our own crucifixion is God’s greatest gift to us. It tests our faith beyond what we know and takes us through the veil death prevents us seeing beyond.

Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me.” This means if we have a cross we also have a crucifixion – that seems logical to me. So why be a Christian if we are in for all this grief?

Christians get eternal life, and eternal life is to know God and to know Jesus is the one he sent. You can find the Bible comments on this in the Gospel of John Chapter 17:2- 4. I like the Amplified Bible best on this one as it helps my mind grasp what it is saying.

It says:
And this is eternal life: [it means] to know (to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with, and understand) You, the only true and real God, and [likewise] to know Him, Jesus [as the] Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah), Whom You have sent.

I have a problem with this – I just don’t like the idea of being crucified. I don’t know anyone who does. Even Jesus asked if he could be let off when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane words to this effect: “Can this cup be taken from me? But I accept your will Father not my will be done.”

There is a key here, and that is the words of Jesus when he says his time had not yet come. The time for our own crucifixion is revealed to us just as it was to Jesus. When it comes to us, we have no doubt what it is. The trick is to accept it and do all it requires of us by faith to get through it.

It takes a lot of prayer, faith, hope and love to make it through. At the end of the process, the mirror will not reveal a pretty sight but a rather horrible one. The life we knew will be gone and replaced with another one we may not find as comfortable.

I know crucifixion in my life, and I hated it. When my time came, I knew what it was, and I reluctantly accepted it. It absolutely knocked the stuffing out of me, and I was so ill in the end. I was sure I was actually going to die.

In my case, I found my knowledge of what Jesus did when he faced his own crucifixion helped me, however, it was hard going as no one understood me. Not even church people, and they are the ones who I felt would.

I confess I was also struggling to understand myself. It was a “me and God alone” journey. I now believe it is this way for us all. Even those who really do love us will not understand what we are going through, even if they want to. This is just as it was for Jesus when his time came.

When my journey through my cross began, I was given by God a gift of the most profound and sweetest love for my accusers. It terrified me. It was a love that didn’t mind dying, even for my enemies. I found myself giving my things to my enemies with good grace.

This was hard to explain even to myself.

On the hardest day, Jesus spoke to me and said “I understand.” I knew he did, but it didn’t take away the pain. All I had for my pain was an assurance I had made it to a place on the spiritual journey of following Christ few people make it to. It was very hard for me to see how such agony of body and soul could lead to anything at all worthwhile.

I spent three years like this. It was tough.

The day came when I was awoken by a piercing light bursting open my heart. I recognized it as the light of Christ. That was the day I knew all the agony and ecstasy was worth it. I was going to live after all, even though everything I thought I knew had changed forever.

It’s been a while since that day for me.

Around the world people have been celebrating Christmas. This Christmas I realized Jesus has to come to us as a hope of new life first. Then as we believe he grows in stature within our hearts and soul till we learn how to trust him and love him. Once we have learned how to do that, we can let our sins go and struggle with the more resistant sins using his techniques.

When our crucifixion comes to us those sins most present and persistent in our hearts are confronted by the light of Christ and overcome by Gods love. Then our self will is spent and His will is all that’s left.

So brother’s and sister’s of all faiths and creeds – the best is yet to come. The real grist of the Christian faith is in gestation. This is the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus at Easter. This is how the life of God truly does come into the world. This is also why I pray I don’t miss the chances I have to follow Jesus – his life is eternal.

When we choose to follow Jesus, we will face tough times – even crucifixion of some type. I now believe the journey through the cross that comes to us when we follow Jesus as best we can is God’s greatest gift to us personally. If we learn from Jesus, we can make it and know God.

I really do have compassion for those people who make no preparation for the day they face their own crucifixion. You see, I also believe crucifixion comes to everyone ready or not. It is important to remember there were two others crucified with Jesus when he faced his own.

God sets the time for us all.

A NOTE TO THE READER

There was a time when I would never have believed I could believe this. My time has come – this is what I now believe.

God bless you
Dianne

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The emphasis of each day’s reading has been about you. The purpose of each reading has been introspective—on taking a close look at the painful events surrounding your abusive situation—on helping you move past the place where you were used, abused, and discarded. It has been absolutely necessary to do so. Without taking a penetrating look at everything that has happened to you, no healing would have been possible. You would have remained stuck—unable to move forward in life.

Now that this has been accomplished, the focus needs to reverse. It needs to be outward rather than inward—toward others rather than yourself. Being introspective has had its place, but to continue looking inward is no longer necessary. It will no longer help you. In fact, it might hurt you.

Your recovery has value beyond yourself—at least as far as God is concerned. He has healed you for His own reasons as well as for yours. Having achieved a level of healing from abuse, He wants your experience to benefit others who remain stuck in toxic emotions like anger, bitterness, shame, and low self-esteem.

Having just been through the recovery process—having looked at yourself in depth, there’s nobody better to help someone who is suffering from the same emotional sickness. That’s why your experience is so valuable. You can help another—just like you’ve been helped. When you do, the joy you experience will be beyond measure. Everything, including the air you breathe, will seem sweeter. Perhaps for the first time in your life, you will know beyond a doubt that you have done the right thing at the right time for the right person. You will have helped another find joy and a life worth living. It doesn’t get any better than that.

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Jesus lived a very simple life. Nothing about it was grandiose, and He made no attempt to exalt Himself—that’s for certain. He was perfectly content to leave the outcome of His work in His Father’s hands, which is exactly what we are learning to do in recovery—one day at a time. Christ wasn’t wealthy, and He eschewed materialism. To Jesus, doing His Father’s will was the mark of success—the only mark of success. Two millennae later, nothing has changed—nor will it in the future. Success is doing God’s will—nothing more, nothing less.

In our natural state, we want to control the outcome of events, and we foolishly believe we can. Life doesn’t work that way—never has, never will. The outcome is in God’s hands not ours. I can’t control the future; neither can you. It’s not our job. We don’t even get a vote.

Through substantial reflection and introspection, you have learned to take responsibility for your actions and to forgive the behavior of others, including those who abused you. Each step in this process was necessary to prepare you for the future—to prepare you to become the person you were always intended to be. By working the 11 STEPS, you have purged most of the debilitating power of the toxic emotions that enslaved you to self-defeating behavior. By facing your anger, shame, and fear, you have freed yourself to walk into the future without the need to medicate emotional pain with alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, over-eating, or anything else.

You are free to become the person God always intended you to be. Instead of dreading the future, you can get up each morning and smile at what life has in store for you, despite how difficult your situation may be. Through daily prayer and reflection, you can keep your recovery fresh and know that whatever you do, God will be with you. He has your back—no matter what.

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There’s something in each of us that wants to be heroic, to be noble, and above all, to be admired. It’s part of human nature—a characteristic common to all. Having completed the 11 STEPS, perhaps the thought has occurred to you that your time has finally come—your time to shine in the sun—to be acclaimed and broadly admired.

If that’s a thought you’ve entertained, you’re correct to have done so. As you make strides in your recovery, God is strengthening you with power in the inner man. Your value from the Divine perspective has skyrocketed. God is molding you to be the person He always intended you to be. If you continue, you will undoubtedly achieve more than you ever dreamed possible and be a person rich in estimable character qualities. Your influence will expand, but it’s unlikely that you will ever see the full scope of your impact. You’re not intended to. It’s not God’s way. It would puff you up, and that’s not what He wants.

The trick is to see life as God sees it—not for Him to see it as you think it should be. In our natural state, we want to be exceptional—noticed by those around us as several cuts above the ordinary. It’s our calling; we’re sure of it, and we want everybody to notice. God’s criteria for success is different. He wants us to cultivate faithfulness and let Him be responsible for everything else.

He wants us to keep our eyes on Him and not on our accomplishments. It’s why He orchestrates our lives so carefully to keep us from measuring the good we’ve done. It goes largely unnoticed, except in His eyes. He sees what you’ve done, and He knows the state of your heart when you did it. If you do something for public acclaim, you’ve obtained all the value you will ever receive from it. If, on the other hand, you are exceptional in the way you do ordinary things, you have become a co-laborer with God Himself, and the value of your actions will be incalcuable—creating blessings that will transcend generations. That’s what has value—eternal value.

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THIS IS PART 1 OF A COMMENT SENT BY A READER IN AUSTRALIA, WHICH IS WELL WORTH READING:

Hi Jack,
Dianne Here – this is really a letter to you so may not be relevant to post. I am now linked to your site so I get your updates. I like what you are writing.

I am a nurse by trade but no longer work in the industry. When Terri Shrivo was killed by the courts order I couldn’t do it anymore. Often a nurse is the person who takes out the feeding tube and we certainly assist with abortions – something I regret being involved with but I didn’t know what I was doing then.

I wrote to Terri’s mum and was deeply grateful when she replied. It was so nice to be truly understood from her heart. I felt forgiven for all the harm I had caused in my career even though that harm was for all the right reasons – namely I was just doing my job.

In life our work calls us to do some tough stuff and the emotional impact of the choices we make is not really considered by anyone but Jesus I find. I speak from experience as the former managing director of my own home care company – I had 89 staff and served over 415 clients in the Canberra region here in Australia.

Your writing tells me you have done some hard yards – I feel some serious pain has been overcome when I read your words – they have a hard won compassion behind them. So thanks.

I posted this letter on my site today – it was written after one of the most amazing spiritual experiences I have had and I have had many over the years. In this experience I was woken by a piecing light breaking open my heart and bursting forth – it was indescribably delightful so its hard to find the words to really convey its meaning.

I felt the whole of my heart had been deeply cleansed by this light. I was just so grateful the light of Christ could find a way to shine in there as my heart was such a dark place I was afraid of it.

I guess I just want to give you a gift of hope for even more of God than you can imagine – I pray he opens your own eyes to his own delight in your own soul.

The most delightful fruit comes from a garden well impregnated with cow manure and chook poo – if we focus on the shit we miss the beautiful fruit that can only develop if its present. That is how I have come to see my mistakes – they are fertile ground for our God to grow his harvest in.

My outlook on my own life has been transformed amazingly by seeing my life from this point of view.

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There’s a final piece to the forgiveness puzzle—a piece which is critical. When you hold on to un-forgiveness, when you refuse to release your blame and your resentment, you are hurting yourself more than you realize. In the Lord’s Prayer, it says:

Forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those
Who have trespassed against us.

There’s no getting around it. To wipe the slate clean for yourself, you have to forgive those who have trespassed against you—those who have abused you. Refusing to forgive your abusers keeps you shackled to them in an endless cycle of anger, resentment, bitterness, and nearly every other toxic emotion you can imagine.

When you forgive them, when you let it all go, everything changes. You allow forgiveness for yourself as well. It’s when God takes the consequences of your own self-defeating behavior and remembers it no more. He sends it as far as the east is from the west. It’s when you allow God to heal you completely.

There’s no down side to forgiveness. It isn’t being weak; it’s being strong. Only a strong person is capable of forgiveness. Weak people don’t have that kind of strength. They have to keep the bitterness and resentment going, clinging to it desperately. It provides nourishment and purpose for them. At least, they think it does.

By forgiving your abusers, you are choosing freedom—choosing life. Don’t continue being imprisoned one day further—choose to forgive. Forgive all of it. It’s not only the right thing to do but it will also provide health to your soul, enriching you with positive character qualities like joy, peace, and kindness.

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