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Archive for October, 2011


Father,

I come to you broken,

With a continuous heartache

That I’m certain will never end.

At times, it’s hard for me to even breathe

As fearful, cold chills race through me.

My loss is so great that I’m certain

I will never be a whole person again.

At night, I awaken, knowing something is amiss,

And then grim reality floods my consciousness.

Startled, that’s when I become fully alert

And completely aware of my circumstances,

As my countenance shrinks and diminishes appreciably.

I am bowed down and emotionally cowed.

That’s when I come to You;

That’s when I seek Your face;

That’s when I weep and mourn.

That’s when I’m consumed by pain and loss.

I desperately want my grief to go away;

I want You to kiss my wound like I’m still a small child.

I want You to “make it all better,”

So that my suffering will cease,

And I can know peace and joy once again.

That’s then it seems like You are saying,

You need to feel this pain for a season,

My child, but only for a season.

For I know the plans I have for you—

Plans for a future and a hope.

I understand your pain and your loss.

I, too, have experienced such a loss.

I, too, have felt such a deep pain.

But what I have gained through My loss is you,

And you are worth the price that has been paid.

When I understand this and it resonates within me,

I feel humbled and cease from being self-consumed.

That’s when I bow my head, bend my knee, and say,

“Father, You give and take away,

You give and take away,

You give and take away,

Blessed be Your name.”

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139:23-24)

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Father,

Now that I have opened myself up completely,

Being as honest and forthright

As I know how to be,

Having also admitted my faults to another,

I want to ask You as humbly as I can

To change anything in me that You desire.

You are Almighty God; and I am not.

I am weary of trying to walk a path,

Which has not been intended by You.

As I continue to purge my soul

Of all the toxic emotions that remain,

I know I need to go one step further.

I need to absolve those who have been abusive,

Forgiving them completely from all culpability.

I have nursed my anger and bitterness

For far too long, and I have paid

A heavy emotional price for doing so.

I believed I was punishing them

By my steadfast refusal to forgive,

But I have only punished myself instead.

I do not want to live like this any longer,

Having to pay a huge price for being callous.

I forgive them—just as You have forgiven me.

I release them completely—just as You have released me.

Give me the strength to put away my pain and anger,

Which will allow me to walk into the future

Free from these debilitating encumbrances.

Pursue after peace with all men, and after the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by it many be defiled. (Hebrews 12:14-15)

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Father,

I can sense that the dark season is passing,

That my soul-weary depression is lifting,

And despair will no longer be my portion in life.

My travail is not finished yet—not quite

But, like the tide that inevitably recedes,

Leaving a great wide expanse of clean, bright sand,

The same is true for my soul.

My days have been filled with gloom for so long

That I never thought joy would return to me,

But it has—with the best yet to come.

Like the relentless surge of the waves,

New life and new hope increase daily.

You assured me that this would happen,

Comforting me with Your Word,

But my pain undermined my confidence.

In the depth of my despair,

Regardless of how deep my pit became—

You were there with me,

Providing nuggets of nourishment,

Which replenished my starved spirit.

It was all I had and it wasn’t much,

But it was enough to sustain me.

Without Your gentle hand nurturing me,

I’m certain there would be nothing left.

But because You were there,

I am a better person than before—

More resilient, more caring,

More compassionate, and more confident.

As joy returns to my soul, help me be mindful

That You are always by my side—

In times of bounty and in times of lean,

When joy abounds and when dread consumes—

Always reminding me that my days

Are numbered and are not my own.

O Lord my God, I cried to Thee for help, and Thou didst heal me. O Lord, Thou hast brought up my soul from Sheol; Thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, and give thanks to His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:2-5)

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I received this from a woman who finally realizes she has experienced religious abuse. This is her story—her experience—with limited editing by me:

My daddy died, covered with condemnation, and it is YOU that has brought me to a realization that I need healing from RELIGION.

Yesterday I was talking with a friend of mine and I just bared my soul with her. Her dad was a Southern Baptist preacher and I just flat out asked her…”Do you suffer from the way you were raised?” She sees a “shrink” (so she calls him) and I am telling you….it is TIME!!!!!

You know her answer was “yes”. It is as though religion entangles us, particularly if we have been raised with fear.

Jack….I remember being 8 years old, standing beneath the tall pines in Arkansas and waiting for God to strike me with lightening. Soul restoration can help in various ways, but now I see CLEARLY just how those deep roots of religion twists and constricts our hearts.

My sweet sister went home to heaven in a very tragic situation, but she had come to that place of knowing that we have a Heavenly Daddy and those were her last words…”I am going to see Jesus”.

She and I both have had many talks about the way we were raised, and neither of us would ever step foot into another Southern Baptist Church.

So that is that. I plan on spreading the word to people I personally know that need your book…You will see… Oh….ha!!! I have some of those snoopy “What is she up to” Baptist classmates that have seen your post and probably are messaging back and forth…ROFL!!!!!!

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Father,

You’ve brought my soul out of bondage—

Out of the shackles of my

Self-defeating behavior for a purpose,

Which is beyond my capacity to fathom.

In the blindness of my pain and distress,

Which have filled my days and nights,

I have implored You relentlessly,

Insisting that You ease my pain

And grant me the desires of my heart.

Regardless of my repeated complaints,

Which I’ve audaciously called prayers,

You have never relented—not even a little.

You have never blessed my demands

Nor allowed me to have my own way,

Regardless of my fervent and frequent requests.

Unmoved, You have just gone about the task

Of transforming my heart from the inside out,

Changing me at the core of my being,

Making me a far better version of myself

Than I have ever been or dreamed of being.

Now, as my distress and angst have abated

And my painful sorrows have relinquished,

For the first time I can look back

And be thankful that You understand me

Better than I understand myself.

Your plan is better than what I desired for myself.

As I come to fathom all that You have done,

I marvel at the changes You have orchestrated—

All to strengthen me and made me grateful.

Having no idea what’s in store for my future,

I gladly give You permission to finish

The work that You have begun in me.

Let my petty, whining nature become a memory—

A distant recollection of my childish ways—

As I seek Your will rather than dictating my own.

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices, they shout joyfully together; for they will see with their own eyes when the Lord restores Zion. Break forth, shout joyfully together, you waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has bared His holy arm in the sight of all the nations; that all the ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:7-10)

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Father,

Now that I’ve revealed myself completely,

Being as honest and forthright

As I know how to be,

Having also admitted my faults to another,

I ask that You heal my pain completely.

Change anything in me that You desire.

You are Almighty; and I know how powerless

I am to control what will happen in my future.

Father, I’m weary of trying to walk a path

That has not been ordained by You.

To complete the process of purging

All that remains toxic in my soul,

I recognize the final step I need to take—

The step I intend to make right now.

Father, I forgive those who have abused me

Totally, completely, irreversibly, and forever.

Just as You have forgiven me—I forgive them,

Releasing them—just as I have been released.

I have churned my anger and bitterness

Far too long, and I have paid a heavy price

For holding a grudge and refusing to forgive.

Foolishly, I believed that I was chastising

My abusers by spitefully withholding my pardon,

But the only person I have punished is myself.

I realize this and no longer desire to live in bitterness.

Give me the strength to put my anger and acrimony behind,

And allow me to walk into the future unencumbered,

By the debilitating shackles that have enslaved me.

How great is Thy goodness, which Thou has stored up for those who fear Thee, which Thou hast wrought for those who take refuge in Thee, before the sons of men! Thou dost hide them in the secret place of Thy presence from the conspiracies of man; Thou dost keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues. (Psalm 31:19-20)

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Father,

In my pain and anguish,

When my heart was broken,

And I thought darkness would overwhelm me,

I felt lost and all alone, but I wasn’t.

Despite how I felt, You were there with me,

Diligently working in my heart—

Stripping me of all of my pretense,

Stripping me of all of my arrogance,

Stripping me of all of my self-serving ways—

Each of which had made a wasteland of my life.

Although Your child, I had no concern or awareness

Of the direction You intended for me to follow.

My only concern was relief from my discomfort,

But Your goals were far greater than mine.

I thought my anguish would never end

And that I would never smile at the future,

But I was wrong about that, as well.

I knew the desires of my heart

And asked You repeatedly to grant them,

But You never would, which saddened me at the time.

What I have gained through my loss, however,

Has had more value than I could have imagined.

Out of the abyss, You have raised me up.

You have placed my feet on solid, immovable rock.

You have strengthened me with power

In the inner man—at the center of my being.

No longer fearful or timid, I’m resolute and confident.

Instead of apprehension, I am calm, strong, and sane.

And it’s all because You have changed my heart—

Transforming my perspective about what has value.

Without Your loving, consistent care,

I would never have learned my lessons

And would have been destined to repeat my mistakes

Over and over again, like an unreasoning animal—

Not like a man—not like a child of the King.

To compensate for what I have completely wasted,

You reached into the pit—into the mire

Into emotional carnage of my life—

Redeeming my future, providing me with a future and a hope.

Teach me to do Thy will, for Thou are my God; Let Thy good Spirit lead me on level ground. For the sake of Thy name, O Lord, revive me. In Thy righteousness bring my soul out of trouble. (Psalm 143:10-11)

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The Value of Preserving Our American Heritage

When a person invites Christ to come into his or her life, everything changes. From that point forward, the convert has a new identity. In a similar way, the same is true with our identity as Americans. Without having an accurate understanding of who we are, we are like a ship with a faulty rudder—tossed about by slogans, which makes us easy to mislead.

That’s why our founding documents are so important. When you read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, you develop a sense of purpose that is similar to what the Founding Fathers must have felt. They knew they were paving the way for the generations that followed them. If you read the Gettysburg Address, you will feel Lincoln’s passion surging through your veins as he maintained his steadfast commitment to preserve our union. The same is true about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech, “I Have a Dream,” which he gave shortly before his assassination. If you read it and see his Christian faith, your heart will stir as you picture his vision of a color free society where every man and woman are free and equal.

America has been blessed with many far-sighted, noble leaders—men and women who have been willing to commit their lives, their wealth, and their sacred honor to ensure that the freedoms we take for granted would remain intact.

As for me, each time I read the inspiring documents of our American heritage, I understand our traditions a little better—a little more fully. We have a powerful birthright—an inheritance of freedom unequaled in world history. Truly, no nation has been blessed more than the United States of America. To preserve our freedoms, millions have fought for America—black, white, Asian, and Latino, many sacrificing their lives to ensure that we would remain free.

In the twenty-first century, our republic faces many challenges from without as well as from within. The question is this: will we maintain our commitment to preserve our heritage, or will we be the generation that allows the American dream to become unrecognizable and slip away?

As I see it, the stakes are high—with the outcome in doubt. Millions have little knowledge of our heritage, of what our traditions really are, or of what constitutes American values. They simply float through life with little awareness of what has been required from others to make their lives carefree and easy. Voting for whoever will “guarantee” them prosperity, far too many Americans lack the background to make discerning choices—choices that are informed and wise. Adopting the attitude of “What’s in it for me,” they forget President Kennedy’s admonition to “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

This is why I have written We Believe: 30 Days to Understanding Our Heritage, with my good friend David Dunham. It’s our hope that millions of our fellow citizens will read about our hallowed tradition and embrace the belief system of our great ancestors as their own. It’s why we have focused on the original documents, allowing people to read them with little narrative. We are convinced that the words of our forefathers speak for themselves, maintaining their power over the centuries, strengthening those who read them with resolve and passion—just as they did when they were originally penned.

Thomas Jefferson understood the importance of knowing what we believe when he said:

 

Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government…. Whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.

Jefferson believed that if people understood the issues, they would take the right course of action more often than not. This is our belief as well, and it’s why understanding our birthright is so important.

This is a time of great consequence in American history. We stand at the crossroads with millions willing to desert our American heritage to pursue an alternative direction. Not knowing our birthright or understanding it, they have become willing to abandon our heritage. For those of us who understand the consequences of such a departure, we feel the need to stand firmly for the American way of life—just as our fathers have before us.

Will you stand with us—strong and unafraid? Can America count on you to do what is right, regardless of whether it benefits you or not? Will you put your nation first, before your own interests—just as millions of others have done for more than two centuries?

George Santayana, the Spanish-American philosopher, essayist and poet, once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  Will this be true of us? Will we wander so far from our heritage that America will no longer be the land of the free and the home of the brave? Will this be our destiny, or will we once again rouse ourselves from our lethargy, shake the sleep from our eyes, and vigilantly stand for the great tradition we have inherited? Will the generations that follow us look to us as an example of strength and resolve, or will they point to us as a generation of weaklings that allowed it all to slip away?

Where you stand and what you do in the years to come will answer that question. Your actions—or your inactions—will determine the outcome. The choice is yours. What will you do? As for me, I choose to stand in the great tradition that has preceded us

—Jack Watts

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Father,

I feel so broken and beaten,

So abused, rejected, and abandoned.

I never thought my life would be like this,

But I was wrong—dead wrong.

In spite of it all, You have been

Right there beside me in my darkest hours,

Even when I wanted You to leave me alone.

Things have been difficult for a long time,

But I’m tired of rehashing my angst.

I want more for my life than being a perpetual victim.

Help me learn my lessons, which have been so painful,

So that I don’t have to replicate them endlessly.

I don’t want to waste my years repeating foolishness.

Let my imprudence be turned to wisdom

So that others can be benefited—not just me.

In all of my broken places, heal me

With Your tender, loving hand.

I’m ready to move forward, while refusing

To shut the door on the past.

If the Lord had not been my help, My soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence. If I should say, “My foot has slipped,” Thy lovingkindness, O Lord, will hold me up. When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Thy consolations delight my soul. (Psalm 94:17-19)

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Father,

Allow me to serve others with gladness—

Without keeping score,

Always giving, never expecting to receive.

Allow me to give of myself,

To give of my talents and of my goods,

To give of my time and of my energy,

To give of my heart and of my soul.

Help me understand the needs of others,

Never criticizing,

Never demeaning,

Never scolding,

Never condemning.

You have been so gracious to me,

Always Loving,

Always forgiving,

Always restoring—

While never chastising me for my waywardness,

Even though I have been wrong

More times than I can remember.

Father, keep a criticizing spirit

Far from my heart and further from my lips.

Allow me to serve others with gladness,

With compassion and tenderness,

Never diminishing their value as the price for my care.

Let me extend mercy to the brokenhearted,

Just as You have done so often for me.

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you; with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to Godl And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:16-17)

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