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Archive for December, 2011


Father,

In my pain and in my anguish—

When my heart was broken

And darkness threatened to overwhelm me—

I felt so lost and abandoned, but I wasn’t.

Despite my anxiety and trembling heart,

You were there, never leaving my side,

Diligently working within my heart,

Stripping me of all of my pretense,

Scourging me of all of my arrogance,

And revealing each of my self-serving ways,

Which have made my life a wasteland.

For so long, I had no concern or awareness

About anything You desired for my life.

My only concern was to find relief from my torment,

But Your consternation ran far deeper

Than anything I ever conceived or imagined.

I thought my anguish would never end

And I would never smile at the future,

But that was far from true.

In my anguish, I revealed the desires of my heart,

Repeatedly asking You to grant my wishes,

But You never would, which compounded my distress.

What I have gained through my loss, however,

May have been the most valuable lesson of my life.

Out of my painful void, You have raised me up,

Placing my feet on solid, immovable ground,

Strengthening me with power in the inner man,

Making me sound at the core of my being.

No longer fearful and timid, I’m peaceful and confident.

Instead of filling my hours with fretful apprehension,

My state of mind is now one of strength and resolve.

None of this could have taken place

Had You not changed my heart’s desire—

Irreversibly transforming my perspective.

Without Your loving, consistent attention,

I would never have learned my lesson,

Which would have destined me

To repeat my mistakes endlessly,

Like an unreasoning animal

Rather than like a thoughtful child of Yours.

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Look upon my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins. Look upon my enemies, for they are many; and they hate me with a violent hatred. Guard my soul and deliver me; do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in Thee. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for Thee. (Psalm 25:16-21)

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For a long time, I put away my photo albums. Should a picture surface of that sweet little blonde haired blue eyed boy smiling and happy, filled with promise, my heart would break all over again, and I would literally fall down in grief.There really are no words to explain the shattering of a mothers heart when she sees her child fall into that deep dark pit of drug addiction. We nurtured them, cared for them, taught them to talk, walk, ride a bike….and to look for cars before they crossed the street. We celebrated birthdays and holidays – those photo albums lay cold with the proof of a child brought by God and filled with promise and purpose.

Then….the drugs.

Our hope hangs by a slim thread, and we lay at night to greet sleeplessness, watching the minutes tick away on the clock wide awake until the alarm forces us to stand and struggle through grief beyond words. Day by day, we hope only that our child is alive. We can prepare for many things in life, but we never prepare to see our child addicted to drugs. We never prepare to send letters to our child in prison.

And often, we are alone in our sorrow—with no one to understand the pain we have. We are afraid to share it with others.

My son became addicted to pain medication and, like your daughter, he is on the path to healing. He was in a methadone clinic for many months, but has now ceased that treatment. It remains, however, a tightrope, adding to that the stigma of where he has been and that knowing of being “different.”

Forever, where a child goes, his mother goes as well and the dark dankness of drug addiction and prison is a hateful place. Even more so is the loneliness of following them and doing so alone. We go with them to the steel bars and, while we reach out and beg God for their healing and their lives, the fear of losing our child to the monster of drugs lurks, wanting to steal hope from the pieces of our heart that lay about as a shattered glass.

My “Christmas Baby” just celebrated his 31st birthday, and I know you understand when I say how grateful and thankful and BLESSED I am to be able to physically touch him—to press my head against his chest and hear his heart beat.

I am thankful for your post, for I too am a grateful and thankful mother, hopeful for the life of my son. Your post gave me the courage to share what I otherwise would not have shared. Now, I find that I want to write it—perhaps not for the world—but for myself. Write the story and toss it to the wind.

Thank you so much and may God bless you, and continue to heal your mother’s heart. May He hold your daughter in the safety of His hands and cover her with his wings, in Jesus Name.

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Allison’s Story


Jack, I just ‘found’ you on facebook through a mutual friend. So glad that I did. I have not read your book yet; but that will be remedied very soon. I am looking forward to reading your book.My beautiful daughter was in the nightmare hell of crack addiction for 5 years of her sweet young life. It goes without saying all that I was feeling and that I was in a constant state of prayer, or I would have lost my mind. That is something I know. Three years ago, she was incarcerated for possession. This was her 3rd incarceration and should have been the last one with a sentence of many years (according to man’s law…). Her probation officer and public defender (all of this went on about 200 miles from my home and I chose very wisely not to rush over there and be in the midst of all this) saw something in her and pressed for her to be sentenced to an 18 month treatment program (addicts can walk circles around a measly 28 day program and they do it every day, sadly). So these 2 people and the judge chose to use the ‘spirit of the law’ in my daughter’s case. Now, 3 years later… by the grace of our most loving and ever present Lord… and by the commitment of my daughter to her own recovery and many faceted and layered health… One day at a time, just for today, she is 3 years ‘clean and serene’… and me? Still, and ever more shall be, in a constant state of prayer. I am ever so very grateful for my daughter’s life… and MY life as it is today, compared to ‘how it was’, what happened… and what is happening now. I found serenity and fellowship within the family of Nar-Anon (a recovery group for family members and loved ones who love someone afflicted with the family disease of addiction) while my daughter found her way to recovery from addiction, her God, and her new way of life through the recovery family of Narcotics Anonymous. While most of us do not exactly embrace our 30th birthday.

My daughter’s 30th birthday = 1 year ‘clean and serene’. Wow this is a long comment. Your prayer is a beautiful and powerful expression of our struggle every day and often several times / day … that … ‘not knowing’ … is so odd for us … and in the program of Nar-Anon we learn 2 things that help me tremendously every day about this … not knowing (the clear will of God or what is next in our future… ) which perplexes us: First: Do the next right thing (simple yet not always easy). Second: my very personal favorite ‘slogan’ which freed me to be myself and love myself and learn how to live in peace with myself, my world, and THE world (along with many other life changes; yet this remains my favorite touchstone: “I am responsible for my effort. I am not responsible for the outcome.” I hope that something I have shared here will help someone struggling with a loved one’s addiction. Thank you, Jack, for stepping out into God’s will for you even though you may not understand it all the time. Your heart’s work has (I’m sure of it even not reading your book yet, *smile*) reached and set on a path of healing…. many lives already and still many lives to come; and thank you for sharing your inspiring prayers with us.

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Father,

Having been wounded at the core of my being,

I have stopped seeking You—

Stopped praying, stopped looking to You

For wisdom, guidance, and discernment.

I haven’t wanted anything to do with You.

I have been so angry, so hurt, and so humiliated.

In my pain, I have acted in shameful ways.

I have tried to hide my behavior

From You and from everybody else.

I didn’t want my life to be like this—

I didn’t want to become who I am.

My sins have gone over my head,

And I am unable to control them,

Which I foolishly believed I could.

They control me, and I know it.

And I can no longer hide from the truth.

I am weary of concealing my face in shame,

Of constantly churning anger and bitterness—

Of medicating my pain with sinfulness.

I don’t want the wounds I have received

While in my abuse situation to control

My future like they have my past.

I want to stop my downward cycle.

I want to change my behavior completely.

I am in a deep pit and I know it,

And there is no easy way to extricate myself.

I have routinely blamed others for my plight,

Choosing to embrace the role of being a victim,

Convincing myself that I have been faultless,

But I no longer believe my delusions.

I have to admit the truth to You and to myself.

I need Your help, Father. Without You,

My life will have neither meaning nor value.

Help me end my self-defeating behavior,

So that I can once again be cleansed

And restored to strength and sanity.

For I joyfully concur with the Law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the member of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:22-25)

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Restore America


Lord,

Once we were many, but now we are few—

Those who call upon Your Name,

Knowing who You are, and who You are not.

Our leaders have turned their back to You,

As our President proudly announced that

We are no longer a Christian nation,

Which obviously gave him pleasure to do.

In my heart, I know it is true. We are not,

But this does not make me despair—not at all.

I know that those who mock You, delighting in their mischief,

Who wield power, as they sit in their seats scoffing,

Legislating wrong and calling it right, as they

Greedily line their pockets will ill gotten gains.

Their demise is at hand. In their hearts,

They believe they are all powerful,

But they are not. For a while—for a short period—

They have basked in their glory, believing that

It would last for generations, but it will not.

Rise up, Lord, call Your sheep by name

That we may rid our land of these miscreants.

Be gracious to us, oh Lord, and do not

Chasten us any longer than necessary.

Spare us further calamity from those

Who mock Your name and laugh contemptuously

At those who love Your ways and want to

Restore our nation to what it once was.

—Jack Watts

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Father,

I don’t just think I’ve been mistreated,

I know I have been mistreated.

And You know I’ve been wronged as well.

I’ve told You what happened repeatedly.

Everybody in my life knows my story.

Now that it has been a while since my abuse,

Everybody else seems to have progressed

With their lives—except for me.

I remain stuck in my debilitating mindset,

Which has not changed appreciably,

Despite the passage of so much time.

It’s infuriating and unfair that I’m the one

Who continues to experience so much pain.

Those who used, abused, and discarded me

Should be the ones to pay, but they haven’t.

I’m the one that continues to languish.

By refusing to move on with my life,

I know that I’m not hurting them—not one bit.

I’m only hurting myself and those around me.

It’s not fair. It’s not fair at all,

But I can’t live like this any longer.

I don’t want to waste my future harboring resentment,

Rehashing my drama repeatedly in my mind,

But it’s going to be difficult to get back on track.

I didn’t realize I had drifted so far from You, Father.

I didn’t realize how willful I had become,

But now I do. It becomes clearer each day.

I have blamed others for my plight for so long,

That bitterness seems normal—even comfortable,

Which frightens me for what lies ahead.

Show me how to find my way back to You.

—Jack Watts

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let you mind dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

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Joan’s Story.


I read this at 2 a.m., after one of the saddest and hardest Christmases I can recall. Watching the tragedy unfold with my prodigal son and the collateral damage to his wife and children sort of culminated on Christmas day, leaving me praying the same prayer as you have written here. As a widow, I feel a bit unprotected from it. As the day draws near, the enemy has upped the ante—the assaults more vicious and closer together—just as the Bible says. I know that because of the particular ministry I am in, I am more of a target and, being on a front line of the spiritual war, where it seems prayers hit the ceiling and fall back to the floor, I must return again and again to the verse you quote, I must stay the course and even though hunkered down at times with real fear, He is working something out. Thanks for the prayer.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

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Father,

Understanding Your leading is not always difficult.

You are crystal clear about so many things—

About honesty, fidelity, truthfulness, and caring for others.

Such clarity makes it impossible to misunderstand Your will.

But most of life isn’t that simple—

Nor is Your will that easy to discern.

It’s not always crystal clear—not black and white,

Which is what I would like it to be.

Instead, it’s various hues of gray, making choices perplexing.

It seems like I am never clear about Your direction,

And yet You expect me to follow You blindly,

Putting my trust in You wholeheartedly—without reservation.

As I try to ascertain Your will, I have been forced

To step out boldly in faith so many times,

Without any idea of what lies ahead of me,

Or of what the results of my actions will be.

Nothing ever seems to end the way I thought it would—

The way I thought it should be,

Which forces me to ask if I have heard You accurately,

Or have I done nothing more than project my own desires,

Calling them Your leading, when they really were not.

As I walk by faith, I rarely receive the answers I expect,

Which You could disclose but choose never to do.

I look at my situation, demanding to know the outcome,

While You look at it already knowing what that will be.

Your ways are beyond my ability to figure out.

As others view my life, scornfully mocking,

Delighting at what looks like my certain failure,

I can only look to You for assurance that

You know what You have planned for me.

No matter how ridiculous others may view my plight,

From the depth of my soul, Your voice constantly assures me,

Be still my child and know that I am God.

I acquiesce, quieting my soul, becoming very still,

Acknowledging that You are God Almighty, and I am not.

When I do, I release all outcomes to You,

Accepting that I may look foolish to many,

But on the inside—where it really counts—

I know I’m becoming incredibly strong

In ways destined to have value for events yet to come.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

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Father,

I am so distressed and disheartened,

As I see how far we have strayed

From the people we once were—

From who You have called us to be.

As our leaders seek to enhance their fortunes,

Betraying the public trust repeatedly,

Each pointing an accusing finger,

Condemning one another repeatedly,

While eschewing candor and forthrightness;

I long for the honorable leaders we once produced—

For men and women who did what was right,

Regardless of personal consequences;

Whether it was in their best interests or not.

________________________________

As I look, I no longer see wise, selfless leadership.

We elect one spineless empty suit after another.

We have leaders who look good but are not—

Leaders with flawless resumes but without character—

Leaders who seemingly do noble things,

While camouflaging their self-serving ways

With layer upon layer of deception,

Tickling the ears of the ignorant and uninformed,

Which most of us have come to be.

As modern day Sophists, our leaders

Legislate what is wrong and call it right,

While repudiating what is right, calling it outdated.

As they willfully and consistently mislead us,

Others smile, benefiting from their duplicity,

Licking their lips, greedily awaiting ill gotten gains

At the expense of the nameless, faceless citizens—

Who have lost another piece of the American dream.

________________________________

I see Christians like myself

Point critical fingers at the “liberals,”

Criticizing them for all the woes

And terrible consequences we now face,

While never taking an honest look at ourselves—

Never recognizing how callous our hearts have become,

Never admitting we have embraced judgmentalism,

Rather than steadfastly holding to our purpose

To remain the loving people You have called us to be.

Insisting that material acquisition is a fruit of Your Spirit,

We have fattened our wallets, disregarding Your mandate

To serve the poor and encourage the less fortunate.

In our self-righteousness, while constantly blaming others,

We have ceased to be the salt of the earth.

Our light, which should shine brightly, has dimmed.

As we look to be Raptured—to be bailed out by You,

We refuse to accept personal or corporate responsibility,

All of which belongs to us—the entitled Christians.

Like those we eagerly criticize, we have become

Proficient at faulting everyone other than ourselves.

Our character has atrophied—none are guilt free.

We are all responsible, Father—every one of us.

We have precipitated our decline, endangering our future.

________________________________

Lord, have we deteriorated past the point of no return?

Having disregarded our calling, is our devastation certain?

Have we become the generation that destroys

Everything sacrificed by earlier generations to ensure

We would remain the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Is it too late to abandon our legalistic self-serving ways?

Can we return to You in humility and heart-felt gratitude,

During this time of Thanksgiving and Christmas?

________________________________

The answers are in Your hands and not mine,

But since I remain free, I willingly bow my knee

To repent of my arrogant, self-serving ways,

Choosing instead to walk in the light, serving others,

Becoming the person You have called me to be.

Father, although I am just one man—a solitary figure—

I know there are others like me—multiplied millions—

Who desire for America to return to her greatness—

To the heritage that was once a beacon for the world to see—

A “City on a hill” for the entire world to emulate.

Despite the criticism certain to come my way,

From scoffers who call their wickedness righteous

And derisively mock everything I believe,

Derisively calling me unenlightened and ignorant,

I remain resolute and  strong, weathering their diatribes,

Never content to be satisfied until we have once again

Become the people You have destined us to be.

Jack Watts

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Father,

As I try to understand Your leading

And the direction You desire for me to follow,

It seems easy enough, but it never is.

I try to predict what You are doing—

What You have in mind for me,

But I never really know what that is.

It seems like I’m in the dark frequently,

And You are never predictable.

Just when I think I understand Your ways,

You move in a different direction—never returning

To the path I had learned to follow.

All I can do is listen to Your gentle whisper,

Which guides me toward my destiny.

Sometimes, I wish it were easier to be certain—

To know exactly where You are headed,

And what the outcome will be,

But that’s not my role—not my lot in life.

My job is to be keen and vigilant,

As You move through each of life’s circumstances,

Always pointing toward higher ground,

Always aiming toward Your predetermined goal.

Having walked this road with You for years,

I’m confident of Your love me for me.

I know that You can be trusted,

And that’s all I need to sustain me.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Thy presence, and do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners will be converted to Thee. (Psalm 51:10-13

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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 insistence.

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,

Which have strengthened me and made me grateful.

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

I gladly give You permission to finish

The work 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,

I know You want me to trust You completely,

And I do—at least, most of the time.

Because of what has hurt me so deeply,

Coupled with of my feelings of worthlessness,

I still struggle to believe that You love me—

That You accept me just the way I am,

Regardless of how wayward I have been.

I don’t see how You could—not really.

Perhaps that’s why I whine and remain timid,

Even though Your desire is for me

To be resilient, strong, and self-assured.

I desire inner strength, but that is rarely an option.

Father, how could You love someone like me?

That You do is a truth I cannot comprehend.

Such love and acceptance is beyond my grasp.

Your word says You love me despite everything,

Even when my self-defeating behavior

Consumes me and has dominion over my life.

As I recognize how faithful You are,

My trust increases and becomes sounder,

But it still isn’t where it needs to be—not really.

I pretend to be strong—to be supremely confident,

But I’m not nearly the person on the inside

That I appear to be on the outside.

I profess to be what I am not—

To be far more secure than I really am.

I even try to fool myself,

But You know each of my frailties,

Which I attempt to mask and to hide.

I don’t know why You care so much about me,

When I don’t care that much about myself.

This is a mystery I doubt I will ever grasp.

In my quiet moments, which I attempt to avoid,

I try to comprehend such love and caring,

But I simply cannot.

O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me. Thou does know when I sit down and when I rise up; Thou dost understand my thought from afar. Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down, and art intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all. Thou hast enclosed me behind and before, and laid Thy hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is to high, I cannot attain to it. (Psalm 139:1-6)

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RECOVERING FROM RELIGIOUS ABUSE:


If planning on leading a 13-week small group that will meet once a week in Atlanta to work through religious recovery issues. If you—or anyone you know—would like to participate, contact me. We will be using my book, Recovering from Religious Abuse: 11 To Spiritual Freedom.

We will meet one night a week for three months—thirteen weeks.

—Jack

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Father,

When I come before You,

I always pay lip service

To how awesome You really are.

When I say it, I mean it—sort of.

I know it’s true, but I’ll have to admit

That what I’m really interested in is me.

I acknowledge Your sovereignty because

I want “things,” from You—lots of things.

I want You to bless me—

To make my life easier and, most of all,

To rubberstamp my will as Your own.

Nearly all of my prayers focus on

What You can do for me.

I’m interested in Your benevolence—

Not in getting to know You better.

That’s the truth, and I need to be honest.

I wish I were a better person than this.

I wish I had more character, but I don’t.

Admitting the truth embarrasses me,

But You know my heart and what I’m really like.

I need You to continue making changes in me.

Teach me to seek You for Yourself,

And not just what You can do for me.

Give me a heart to yearn for wisdom,

Rather than just Your generous hand.

Teach me to look beyond my limited world

To help meet the needs of others.

Give me a heart for someone other than myself.

I recognize my selfishness; it’s ever before me.

I also know that You are active in my life,

Changing me from the inside out,

Helping me to become a better child of Yours.

The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart. I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results on his deeds. (Jeremiah 17:9-10)

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How many have been abused in America?

Although most Christians are naive about religious abuse, everybody is responsible for discerning the motives of their spiritual leaders. Generally speaking, if you think you’re being abused, you are. Remember, Religious abuse is mistreatment by someone in a position of spiritual authority, resulting in diminishing your sense of wellbeing and growth—both spiritually and emotionally. It’s when spiritual authority is used—by words or actions—to manipulate you for someone’s personal gain or personal agenda, harming your walk with God. It can also be defined as any misuse of Scripture—like the damage resulting from cult involvement.

The religiously abused are the largest sub-category of un-churched people in America. When you include the entire family, there are nearly 40 million, which is more than the entire population of Canada.

If you want to reach the lost and evangelize the United States, stop all of your witnessing efforts. Instead, go back and reconcile with the people who left the church because they have been wounded—the used, the abused, and the discarded. If you do that, Christianity will once again become attractive to non-believers, making the fields ripe for harvest.

The church has more than its fair share of narcissists. Because of the power of their teaching, most are not held accountable like the rest of us. When that happens, religious abuse becomes inevitable. So, if you see it, don’t walk out in protest, run.

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