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Archive for January, 2012


Father,

As I grit my teeth defiantly,

My anger is so consuming that

Toxic emotions rule my soul.

My fury clouds my judgment,

And my smile is far from my face.

Dark clouds diminish my countenance,

Warning others to stay clear.

I entertain vivid thoughts of revenge,

Of making my abusers pay a terrible price

For the injustice they’ve exacted upon me.

When I look in the mirror, I don’t like

The person I see—the person I have become.

I spend my days feeding my anger,

Amusing myself with hostile thoughts,

Which run through my mind repeatedly.

I’m consumed by hateful thoughts of retribution.

I know that I’m not ready to forgive—not yet.

While this hostile mindset has dominion over me,

I need Your help more than ever.

Father, move me through this period quickly,

And help me to forgive—just like I’ve been forgiven.

While my anger dominates my consciousness,

Keep me from these four injurious activities:

From saying harsh words that can never be retrieved;

From wasting hours, fantasizing about reprisals;

From self-defeating behavior to assuage my pain;

And from desiring evil to come upon my adversaries.

This you know, my beloved brethren. But let every one be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20)

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Father,

I’ve wanted relationships and possessions

That You have not intended for me to have.

I’ve wanted them so badly

That I’ve come before You

Numerous times—pleading and begging—

Beseeching You to grant my desires.

And all You have done is to say “No.”

Refusing to accept Your answer,

I continued my relentless complaining,

Insisting that You make my will be Your own.

In my stubbornness, I have maintained that

Right was wrong, and wrong was right,

While deceiving myself into believing

My purposes were noble—even altruistic.

I ascribed righteousness to my desires,

As if seeking my goals were the pathway

To wisdom, contentment, and fulfillment.

In my foolishness, I have done my best

To convince myself that my way was the right way,

But You remained adamant, refusing my demands.

Still unwilling to accept Your will over mine,

I manipulated events until frustration

And exhaustion finally overwhelmed me,

But You never budged nor wavered—not once.

Now, at the end of all my stubborn willful fretting,

I bow my knee and accept Your decision.

“No” it is, and “No” it shall be forevermore.

There are still parts of me that regret Your answer,

But You are in charge, and I am not.

Now that I have submitted myself

To Your way rather than to my own,

I have begun to see things differently.

I acknowledge that Your way is superior to my own.

You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask with the wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. (James 4:2-3)

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Father,

Unlike most, I know I have it all together.

A person of substance and value.

People listen when I speak,

As words of wisdom roll mellifluously

From the essence of my being.

Indeed, I have it all together.

At least, I believed I did.

Then, You came and shook me,

Knowing my vulnerabilities like no other.

In an instant—in a flash, I was undone.

I was not who I thought I was.

I was not what I claimed to be.

When you revealed me to myself,

I stood naked—laid bare to Your eyes,

Unable to hide from Your scrutiny,

From the truth of who I am.

Broken, embarassed, and unnerved,

I recoiled, consumed with shame and humiliation.

Those who claimed their loyalty abandoned me,

While my enemies delighted at my misfortune.

In an instant, Your blessings seemed to vanish,

And I’ve become fearful they will never return.

Father, when will this nightmare end?

When will it be enough?

When will Your heavy hand of discipline abate,

Restoring me to what I once was?

Will Your pruning be brief or last a lifetime?

You know, and I do not.

Be merciful to me, Father,

For I have learned my lesson,

Regretting my arrogance and self-serving ways.

Hasten the day of my restoration,

Lest my sorrows overwhelm me

And my despair become irreparable.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials; knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

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As the results from the South Carolina primary came in, it became clear that Newt Gingrich not only beat Mitt Romney; he beat him handily. The political commentators on Fox and CNN attributed the win to Newt’s debate skills and his feistiness, coupled with his answers to slanted questions in both of the debates by members of the press who hoped for a “gotcha” moment. While all of this played into Newt’s victory, it wasn’t critical. It was superficial.

He won because he tapped into the the heart and soul of millions of Americans who feel increasingly disenfranchised. He clearly articulates the frustration of these people, but he does much more than that. He stirs them with something they have not had for nearly a quarter of a century: Hope. He believes in the American dream and is an unabashed proponent of it.

I suspect his victory is just the beginning. He is poised to have a groundswell of support that will quickly overwhelm his primary opponents and lead him to a head-to-head confrontation with President Obama. Because Newt shares the values of this generation’s “Silent Majority,” he will win like Reagan did—in a landslide.

For that to happen, several things must occur. First, he must make peace with the Republican establishment—all of whom are terrified that he cannot beat Obama. Newt can assuage their concerns by remaining humble and by staying on message. As his support grows, which it will all over America, the doom-and-gloom Republican establishment will come along.

Second, he must keep the focus on Obama’s record. When Newt’s tawdry past comes up, which it will constantly, he has to maintain an attitude of mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. He should not try to defend his failures but continue to explain that he has grown by them—never becoming angry by those who taunt him.

He might use this biblical example. Moses was ready to lead the children of Israel when he was forty. As his first act of leadership, he murdered a man and had to flee into the wilderness for forty years. When he was old, God was finally ready to use Moses. The same is true of Newt. His time has come.

Few believe Newt can be disciplined enough to stay on message. I’m not one of them. At the beginning of the 1980 contest, people feared Reagan couldn’t stay on message either. In fact, commentators referred to “Reagan’s gaffes” often but, when it really mattered, Reagan became tough. Newt can be just as tough, and it’s essential that he does. After all, it is for such a time as this that Newt has been raised up to lead.

Those who think Newt will be easy to defeat have no idea what they are up against.

Jack Watts

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Seeking God’s Purpose


Father,

Sometimes, life can be so complicated.

Doing the right thing seems easy enough,

Until it comes time to do it,

When the dread of adverse consequences

Becomes an overwhelming concern.

My heart’s desire is for my life to get easier.

Tell me, why am I so special that my journey

Is constantly filled with such difficulties?

Why can’t things go smoothly—just for a while?

Why me, Lord? Why me? Why? Why? Why?

I don’t want to sound like I’m whining,

But I know that I am. I’m complaining because

My shoes are too tight, while others go barefoot.

I know I should be more grateful,

But I want a respite from my anguish.

I want to be far from despair and sorrow.

The “Be warmed and be filled” crowd of Christians

Smile and offer meaningless, glib platitudes,

As I try to nurse wounds that I fear will destroy me.

I want to serve You with gladness and joy,

But I have no sense of hope within—

Nothing that can sustain me for more

Than a few moments at a time.

I don’t want to be a robotic automaton,

Pretending that everything is fine and joyous,

When I know that things are dreadfully wrong.

My days, which are numbered by You,

Are passing before me, and it all seems

Like a terrible, meaningless waste.

Intervene, Lord, and allow me to know

Joy and gladness once again.

Fill my days with peace and purpose,

So that I can tell other of Your fidelity.

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to meditate in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock. (Psalm 27:4-5)

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Father,

Where are the men?

Where are those who have been

Blessed by You and have experienced

Your faithfulness for so long?

Where are they, Father? Where are they?

America is filled with godly women—

Those who know You and gladly

Bow their knees in humility and obedience.

Why do they “get it” and we do not?

Why do their numbers grow and ours

Seem to diminish consistently?

Perhaps, it’s because women seem to have

A heart that follows You so willingly.

They seem to obey You so easily,

Knowing that Your ways

Are far superior to their own.

They seem to see Your righteousness

Far more clearly and desire it fervently.

But, that’s not what we are like, is it?

American men—men like me—

Love to talk the talk but, in our hearts,

We practice self assurance routinely,

Refusing to bow our knees in submission,

Thinking we can handle the situation ourselves

Without Your guidance, wisdom, and leadership.

But, look at us now, Father.

Look at the mess we are in.

A godless scoffer leads us—a man

Who delights in using his power

To grind the rights of the faithful into the ground.

For him, harassing those who call upon

Your name is sport and a high priority.

And we are not strong enough to stand firm

And put this evil miscreants out of office.

Lord, without Your active intervention,

All will be lost in America very soon.

Father, please don’t allow that to happen.

Stir our hearts and raise up godly men—

Those who are strong enough to stand in front

Of the faithful women You have already established.

Lord, I admit that I am one of the worst offenders.

In my heart, I have been so self-confidant—

So self-assured and so arrogant—

That I have not sought Your will

Nor waited for Your leading,

Choosing to act on my own instead.

There are millions like me in America, Father,

So let the transformation begin with me.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles: they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, but not faint (Isaiah 40:31).

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This morning, I received a comment that was so validating, I’m sharing it.

Jack,I want to thank you for allowing God to work through you. You are offering me a way to pray. I’ve been away from the Lord and don’t have any words. The prayers you are writing are coming in such exact timeliness and so precise to what I’m going through in my life right now.

I thank the Lord for your ministry, and I thank you for being faithful to His call.

—Deborah

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Father,

Here I am once again,

At the end of myself,

Feeling like a fool,

Feeling like I haven’t learned a thing.

It seems as if I’ve been here so often.

My times of sorrow and suffering

Have far surpassed my times of contentment.

Be gracious to me, Lord,

Let me know what You have in store for me.

Assure me that my pain has been purposeful—

That my years have not been a total waste,

Devoid of meaning—devoid of value.

I want to cast my anxieties upon You

But when I do, they don’t stay there.

Instead, they haunt my mind constantly,

Exacting a terrible, debilitating vengeance,

Impacting every fiber of my being.

I want to be strong, but I am not.

I’m so weak—so used to defeat

That sorrow has become my daily drink.

Rescue me, Father. Pour out Your grace,

And allow me to know joy once again.

Let my cup overflow with blessing.

Allow my life to again have value,

And instruct me about what that will be.

I fear that my days will end

Before any good will ever materialize,

Leaving a wasted, purposeless existence.

Without Your active intervention,

All will be lost and irredeemable.

I know that; I’m certain of it.

As I wake in the morning and retire at night,

That realization is ever before me.

That’s not what I want, Father,

And I know it is not what You desire either.

Arouse Thyself, why doest Thou sleep, O Lord? Awake, do not reject us forever. Why dost Thou hide Thy face, and forget our affliction and our oppression? For our soul has sunk down into the dust; our body cleaves to the earth. Rise up, be our help, and redeem us for the sake of Thy righteousness. (Psalm 44:23-26)

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Father,

I feel like a wounded gazelle,

Unable to fend for myself,

As hungry beasts surround me.

My demise seems certain,

And there is no place to hide.

My friends—those who call upon Your name—

Are nowhere to be found,

Just when I need them the most.

My love has abandoned me for another,

Never looking back—not once.

I am undone and badly crushed,

And those who seek what little is left,

Fight over the scraps of my being—

Over the pieces of my shattered life.

How long will You leave me exposed—

Vulnerable to ravenous predators—

To those who seek to destroy me?

Tell me, Lord, when will it be enough?

When will You protect Your wounded child?

When will You move Your mighty hand to help?

If You don’t rescue me soon, there will be nothing left.

My head, which was once proud, now hangs in despair,

And my countenance is greatly diminished.

Terrifying apprehension of the future

Overwhelms me, and dread has become my lot.

I fear that my adversaries will have victory over me.

Provide me with a way through the thorny maze, Father,

To a place that is safe and secure—free from turmoil.

How long, O Lord? Wilt Thou forget me forever? How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord, my God; Enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death. Let my enemy say, “I have overcome him,” lest my adversaries rejoice when I am shaken. But I have trusted in Thy lovingkindness; my heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13)

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I sent this to the alumnae magazine at Baylor University in Waco, TX:

Baylor Proud

Jack Watts has just received the prestigious “’Best Book of the Year’ Award for an Inspirational Memoir” from Books & Authors. Simon & Schuster recently released this interesting and authentic story, entitled,Hi, My Name Is Jack.

A graduate of Baylor in 1979 with a Masters Degree in Church-State Studies, Jack received the Dawson-Bunn award for academic excellence while at the university. He was also inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa Honorary Fraternity for academic and leadership excellence, publishing in Baylor’s Journal of Church and State, while still at the university.

A proud Baylor graduate, Jack says, “During my time at Baylor, I finally learned grammar, which has served me well in my writing.” In addition to Hi, My Name Is Jack,” Simon & Schuster published Jack’s first book, Recovering from Religious Abuse: 11 Steps to Spiritual Freedom. Jack has also co-authored We Believe: 30 Days to Understanding Our Heritage and plans to release Real Prayers for Real People with Real Problems soon.

The father of five children and nine grandchildren, Jack credits his time at Baylor for providing him with the background necessary to become an award-winning author.

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Father,

My soul aches, and my spirit is weak.

Heartache has consumed me,

And I’m fearful of the future.

Those who know your Word much better than I,

Have rebuked me, chastening me

With contempt, ridicule, and shame.

In my heart, I have cowed before them,

Never questioning their motives or intent.

Slinking away in defeat and despair,

I vowed to never return—to remain aloof

From them, from You, and from religiosity.

I have wandered from You,

To a place where there is

No joy, no kindness, and no future.

Time has not been my friend.

My mistakes have brought me low.

My accusers know your Word;

But they don’t know your Spirit.

Father, I need You to help me return home,

To come back to where I belong,

Which is to a real and substantive relationship with You.

Strengthen me with power in the inner man.

Allow me to stand strongly,

Allow me to be bold and confident,

Allow me to be the person you created me to be,

And don’t allow my accusers to have dominion over me.

Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! Let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If Thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared. (Psalm 129:1-4)

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Father,

You know my troubles like no other,

And You understand my adversities.

You know that sometimes I become so fearful

That my skin grows cold,

And it feels like I can hardly breathe.

I countenance becomes small and helpless.

I’m afraid of so many things.

I’m afraid of people and of being alone,

Of never experiencing happiness again,

Of not having enough money to survive.

Father, it seems like the list never ends,

And I lack the power and strength to move forward.

I need Your help now—more than ever before.

Be my strength, when I am weak.

Be my fortress, when my life crumbles around me.

You know that I can rely on no one but You.

At times I’m fearful that You don’t really care—

That You are not really there to help me.

I want to be strong and confident,

But I am not, and I know that I’m not.

Father, give me Your strength and Your confidence.

Help me put one foot in front of the other—one day at a time,

With nothing sustaining me but my trust in You,

Which I admit is tenuous and very fragile.

For I am ready to fall, and my sorrow is continually before me. For I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sin. But my enemies are vigorous and strong; and many are those who hate me wrongfully, and those who repay evil for good. Do not forsake me, O Lord, O my God, do not be far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation. (Psalm 38:17-22

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A Prayer: Admitting My Shame


Father,

As I have done so many other times before,

I come before You feeling worthless,

Feeling like I can never again

Hold my head high,

Feeling broken, scorned, and devalued.

I know You’ve forgiven my transgressions,

Which have been so egregious,

But I can’t seem to forgive myself.

I can’t divest myself of culpability.

My sin is ever before me,

Relentlessly grinding me down,

Telling me that I’m no good,

Which in my heart I’m certain is true.

Like in a dense fog of despair,

I wander through life purposelessly,

Never able to be myself—

Never able to be spontaneous.

I want to know joy and

To cast aside my debilitating low self-esteem,

But I have no power to accomplish my goal,

Regardless of my desire to do so—

Regardless of my determined efforts.

My enemies scold me for my wrongdoing,

Wagging their fingers in condescension,

Mocking me with disingenuous smiles,

Reminding me of what I have done,

Grinding me into the ground with their contempt,

Telling me that I can never be what I once was.

I loathe their reproachful, insincere counsel,

Which constantly reminds me of my sin.

Help me to regain my strength, Father.

Let my heart know joy once again.

Teach me to face my enemies with self-assurance,

Knowing that there is no condemnation in You.

O God, arrogant men have risen up against me, and a band of violent men have sought my life, and they have not set Thee before them. But Thou, O Lord, art a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth. Turn to me, and be gracious to me; oh grant Thy strength to Thy servant, and save the son of Thy handmaid. Show me a sign for good that those who hate me may see it, and be ashamed, because Thou, O Lord, hast helped me and comforted me. (Psalm 86:14-17)

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Father,

The wounds from my abuse run deep,

Creating shame, anger, and an

Overwhelming sense of worthlessness

That enervates every area of my life.

With my mouth, I refuse to admit

That this is how I see myself,

But in the recesses of my soul,

I wonder if my abusers are correct about me.

Maybe my life has little value, after all,

Precisely like I have been told.

When it happened, I was angrier with You

Than I was with my those who abused me.

Because my abuser was in a position of authority,

I believed he spoke for You,

Which was certainly his clear indication.

In my woundedness, it never occurred to me

That Your Son was also abused—just like me—

By hateful, self-righteous religious leaders.

You permitted His abuse—just like you permitted mine.

What Christ’s abusers meant for evil, however,

You meant for good, redeeming Mankind through it.

Without Your Son’s abuse, all would be lost.

Thank You for allowing such a tragedy

On my behalf, as well as that of all of Mankind.

Can You redeem what is left of my life as well?

Can You use my abuse for something

That has value for others as well as for me?

Can You turn my weakness into strength,

And my broken life into one

That is joyful, substantive, and purposeful?

Be gracious to me and raise me up, that I may repay them. By this I know that Thou art pleased with me, because my enemy does not shout in triumph over me. As for me, Thou dost uphold me in my integrity, and Thou dost set me in Thy presence forever. (Psalm 41:10-12)

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