LOVE HAS A FACE

tabernacle

If love had a face, what would it look like?

I read a great quote by Heidi Baker about revival looks like. She talked about how it looks like stopping daily for the one in front of you and looking into his or her eyes.  We have to see the “one’.  If we cannot see the “one”, we will not be able to deal with the multitudes.  If we see the “one”, we will understand suffering, because we will see one child that is dying from cancer. We will see one mother angry that God would take her innocent child. We will see the one widow trying to not lose her faith as she tries to imagine how she will raise up her children alone. We will see one man struggling with pornography and the impact it has on his marriage.  Revival is about looking into the eyes of the “one”  and seeing Jesus looking back at you.

So it seems to me that revival is about an encounter of love. If love has a face, then it has to be our face. We have to be willing to look at one another with love in our eyes and love in our hearts.  The Church needs lovers. It needs people filled with love and overflowing upon all that they encounter.

The Church needs a radical army of laid down lovers willing to see Jesus in the lost and the broken. We need a generation of Christians who are so full of passion and intimacy that they run into the darkness without fear to bring in the lost bride. Those who do not know love hide in darkness. We, who are lovers of Jesus are to hide in the light of who He is. We are to carry his light in our vessels of clay, we are to be tabernacles, the hands and feet of Christ. That is what love looks like. It looks like you and I opening our hearts to the divine life of the trinity and allowing Him to transform us and conceive his truth, life and love into the very tabernacle of our souls and then sharing that love with others.

lost bride

Love is not a mission or a program or a feeling or even an action or act of the will. Love is a person. God himself is love and He desires to form us into little Christ’s so that we can be the face of love to world that  is desperate for love.

So why is it that when we are desperate for love that we seem to be incapable of giving and receiving it? Because you cannot give what you do not have. Why don’t we have it? Because many us have wounds from our childhoods caused by a lack of love or a distortion of what love actually is…

“Wounds caused by a lack of love, or a distortion of love, are often at the root of our brokenness. That’s why we call it ‘healing broken hearts’…healed by a positive experience of love. It is not enough to discover the roots of conflict. We must fill the emptiness with the merciful love that flows from the heart of Jesus.”- Fr. Emiliano Tardif, Jesus Lives Today

People are not perfect. The imperfect a person is the worse they may wound or hurt you. The expression “hurt people hurt people” comes to mind.  The thing is…we must first encounter and receive love personally before we can be the face of love to others.  So if we are not encountering love in the people we meet then it may be because those people are hurting and are in need of healing. People are hurting because of a lack of love and affirmation.

“Love does not start with a good program. It cannot. It starts with being in love, being intimately connected to Jesus. It starts with knowing first that I am loved. I cannot give what I do not have. It is supernatural. It cannot be apart from Him. All living fruit in my life has come only from a living relationship with Him.” Michelle Perry

We need healing so we can hold all of the love that God desires to pour into our hearts. Without healing, we leak like a sieve…the graces we receive from prayer and sacrifice just leak right out of the cracks. The enemy of our soul has us believing that none of this works, God is not real or that prayer and sacrifice don’t matter. The reality is we are barely able retain the graces God is giving to us much less share with anyone around us when we don’t address the places we are leaking.

leaky cup

We don’t need more programs. We don’t need more catechesis. We don’t need to focus on teaching the rules of religion. The “how’s and what’s” are killing people’s love. What we need is healing. We need to seek healing for our own broken hearts so that we can love others better.

love card

 

We are all family. Love desires to see the one in front of you. Love means stopping for the one and making a connection because every person is awaiting your face of love is asking themselves “Can you look past my pain and addiction and love me anyway? Can you see beyond the masks I wear to who I really am? Will you love me even when I disappoint and hurt you?”

I realize that stopping to see the “one” may be a bit frightening for some of you because “seeing” might compel us to become involved and that involvement would surely entail risk. Risk might mean personal cost and this is why so many people wear masks, hiding there pain, their fear and the broken places where they feel thew will be rejected or abandoned. However, I KNOW that we are on the cusp of a major revival. I KNOW that many people are praying for courage and beginning to say yes to the Holy Spirit so they can be the radical laid down lovers for Jesus Christ that the world needs so badly. I know because I am in that army.

What is the key to revival? SIMPLY PUT IT’S deeply and intensely Loving your Neighbor. Radical intimacy is needed because love has a face and it is not something it is someone and that someone is you. Are you so full of passion for Jesus that no matter what you are asked to do you will say yes?

Perhaps you are worried you won’t do or say the right thing. Well the truth is that there may be NOTHING you will be able to do but you can listen to their stories and pray with them. All we need to do is all things in love. Even the tone of our voice or making eye contact in a loving way can be an invitation to a hurting and lost soul to enter into deeper intimacy and this prepares the way for relationship with Christ, when they see Christ in us.

One thing we need to be better at is empathy. Many of us are sympathetic but not empathetic. What people desire is connection and when we are empathetic we connect to something in us that understands the pain or suffering in the other person in a real and personal way and we feel WITH people. Sympathy is a pat on the back and usually starts with words like “At least….” where we try to makes someone feel better or try to make them see the bright side or we say “when life gives you lemons make lemonade!” Well, if you lemons are the death of spouse how do you make lemonade out of that? This short video says all that you need to hear about how and why we need to STOP being sympathetic and learn to be empathetic so that we can honor one another in a more intimate and connected way.

Are you ready to reach out for the lost? Are you ready to be a radical laid down lover for Christ? Well, honestly, sometimes the way Jesus begins is by undoing us so that He can put us back together in a more whole and perfected way. We need to be transformed from the inside out. This happens with our own personal encounter. Encountering does not always feel warm and fuzzy or profoundly healing, sometimes it is more as though He comes and sits on you to make a point.  Sometimes pain and suffering is the only thing that will make us give in and stop running and surrender to Him and allow Him to do His work in our hearts and heal and transforming us so we can radiate love to everyone around us.

radiate

It is not what He is building around us it is what He is building inside of us that truly matters. We need to focus on the eternal things. Everything around us is in a state of decay, houses, cars, things rust and break down but Holy immortal souls are being lost and the Holy Spirit desires to set the world on fire with the burning love of the Trinity.

love looking

If love has a face, it is my face and it is your face and we have to look at one another with love in our eyes and love in our hearts. Who do you need to forgive so that you can begin loving them?

If you desire to be the face of love then pray this prayer right now!

Come Holy Spirit! Father, please come and heal my wounded and troubled heart. I beg you to heal the torments that are causing anxiety in my life. I beg you, Lord Jesus in a particular way, to heal the underlying source of my sinfulness. I beg you to come into my life and heal the psychological harms that may have struck me in my childhood and from the injuries they have caused throughout my life. Lord Jesus, you know my burdens. I lay them on your Good Shepherd’s Heart. I beseech you—by the merits of the great open wound in your heart—to heal the small wounds that are in mine. Heal my memories, so that nothing that has happened to me will cause me to remain in pain and anguish, filled with anxiety.  I want to forgive all those who have offended me. Look to those inner sores that make me unable to forgive. You who came to forgive the afflicted of heart, please, heal my wounded and troubled heart. Heal, O Lord Jesus, all those intimate wounds that are the root cause of my physical illnesses. Jesus, I offer you my heart. Accept it, purify it and give me the sentiments of your own Divine Heart.

Come Holy Spirit and Heal me. Heal me from the pain caused by the loss, death or abandonment of  my loved ones. Grant me the grace to regain peace and joy in the knowledge that you are the Resurrection and the Life. Make me an authentic witness to your resurrection, your victory over sin and death, and your loving presence among all men and women. Amen

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing”. 1 COR 13:1-3

 

 

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What Is Trust? Week 1 Day 1

trust

I have received profound healing in my relationship with God through the Hearts A Fire retreat’s written by Fr. Michael Gaitley. 33 Days to Merciful Love is proving to be a beautiful and wonderful book that I believe is a gift to the Church for these times. We are now in a time where so many of us have been wounded by people and sometimes even by the Church herself.

hurt churchWhen the Church is who hurts us, we may be tempted to believe that God is not Good or that we are not good or deserving of anything good. I have met many people deeply and profoundly wounded by the Church. This has created a huge division in our world. I believe this book/retreat is a tool that can begin to heal division and bring all Christian souls together with one uniting purpose; to receive the merciful love of Jesus Christ and then to bring it to hurting souls in our broken world.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (397) it says that “Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his creator die in his heart…” lets talk about what this means. First of all we are all created in the image and likeness of God. Male or female we are icons of the truth, life and love of God walking around on earth and we are supposed to be making visible the invisible reality of God through the living our of our lives in union with God. However, when the devil comes and whispers his lies, we can in a sense, divorce ourselves from God and accept the proposal of the evil one.devil liar

Why do we do that? Because the father of lies wants us to believe that God is not trustworthy and does not want to honor our desires.  He begins by planting seeds of doubt. We doubt that God loves us, doubt that He desires to bless us, doubt that he will honor our desires. This doubt leads us to fear. In our fear, we may respond by grasping or taking instead of remaining in a place of trust.  Doubt means to be uncertain, to fear, to be afraid. Why do we plan and strive for what we think will bless us rather than wait for God’s timing or say on the matter? Because we are afraid and we hide ourselves. We turn away from God. Fear-is-a-Liar

Now that we understand that the evil one uses doubt to tempt us to believe his lies, we need to identify what our desires are and where we may have doubts so that we can invite the Holy Spirit it shine his flashlight of truth there and help us to come back into union with God.light

Dr. Phil says “you can’t change what you won’t acknowledge.” This is so true! We must first see where we are being lied to before we can divorce ourselves from the liar and come into union with God and his truth and will for our lives. If we pretend that we don’t need God or that what we are doing is God’s will when it isn’t we will remain miserable, lost and afraid.

By inviting the Holy Spirit in, we expose where the enemy of our soul (Satan) has put fear into our hearts. Adam and Eve were afraid and so they hid themselves. God desires for us to take off the fig leafs we hide behind. He wants us to not be afraid because He promises us that He will always show up. He wants to honor our desires and he wants to heap a double portion of blessings upon each of us. The question is, do we believe Him and what, if any, lies are obstacles to His truth coming alive in our hearts? One way to discover the answer to these questions is to journal. journalWhen we journal we contemplate, we meditate, we hold truth in our hearts and ponder it thus allowing it to be birthed within us. It is in this secret place where the Holy Spirit begins to speak to us. It is as if the Holy Spirit is a flashlight that illuminates things that we cannot see in the darkness. When we journal, our thoughts and emotions as well as our will is engaged and in this sacred place and time the Holy Spirit shines His healing light on the broken places in our hearts, minds and souls. He speaks to us gently there telling us what it is he wants us to know about his love for us.

After reading through “What is Trust” (Week 1 Day 1) I have put together some thoughts and questions to ponder and journal through.

Do we believe God is trustworthy? Are you afraid that God cannot be trusted to honor your heart’s desires?  Why or Why not?

Where have you felt God has not shown up in your life or where do you feel you are still waiting for him to bless you?

Think of one memory in which God did show up or bless you?

What is it that you desire God to do in your life?

Now quietly pray to the Holy Spirit to come and shine a light on this desire and ask Him to show you what He wants you to know about this desire of your heart.

 

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, fire of mercy, Help me better to know the great and unsurpassable goodness of God. Amen

Do You Have Time For Beauty?

JOSHUA BELL PLAYS DC SUBWAY

JOSHUA BELL PLAYS DC SUBWAY

“As an experiment,

The Washington Post

asked a concert violinist—

wearing jeans, tennis shoes,

and a baseball cap—

to stand near a trash can

at rush hour in the subway

and play Bach

on a Stradivarius.

Partita No. 2 in D Minor

called out to commuters

like an ocean to waves,

sang to the station

about why we should bother

to live…..” excerpt from “Bach in the DC Subway” by David Lee Garrison

 

On a cold January morning in the L’Enfant Plaza Station of the subway line in Washington, D.C. one of the worlds best violinist, Joshua Bell, played for 45 minutes on a violin worth 3.5 million dollars. It was a social experiment to see whether or not people would stop to appreciate beauty.

Over a thousand people passed him by as he played some of the most intricate pieces ever written for violin. Just that week he had performed at a theater in Boston, which sold out even though tickets were selling at $100 a seat. So how many people stopped to appreciate this free concert? Only seven.

Among the seven that stopped to receive the beautiful self-gift of his heart being poured out through his violin was a 3-year-old little boy. The boy tried to stop and take in what I can only describe as achingly beautiful music, when his mother can be seen on the YouTube video pushing him along, forcing him to move for what I must assume was a very important play date. Most of the children that walked by kept their face towards him, listening to the sweet sounds of the strings even though they were being marched away in the opposite direction.

Jesus says we must be like little children to enter into the Kingdom of God. I am not sure he was talking about the children of the 21st century. The children of the 21st century are quite different than those of even 20 years ago. Today those children are either on their phones, iPod’s or gaming device and on their way to select soccer, baseball, gymnastics, football, hockey or the like. Some how an appreciation for what is beautiful is being lost or perhaps replaced with “more important” things. However, as human beings I believe what sets us apart as unique and unrepeatable persons made in the image and likeness of God is that we create as well as take in beauty.

The Sistine Chapel, Mozart’s Requiem Mass, the Eiffel Tower are all examples of beautiful things man has created. Beautiful things elevate our minds and cause us to transcend this world to contemplate the divine. Beauty will save the world or at least that is what Dostoevsky has famously declared.

This social experiment done in Washington D. C. reminds me of the time I left the Theology of the Body Institute with a busload of other attendees and was dropped at the airport. After getting through security I began to look above my head to see which direction to go for my gate.

Several of my class attendees were with me and had gravitated to an interactive light puzzle projected onto the wall. It was at least six feet tall and at least 10 or 12 feet long. I watched as they moved the pieces by touching them and sliding them around. They laughed and giggled and played with this beautiful wall mural.

The truth is that I would not had even noticed it if I had been on my own. Was it because they were in there 20’s and I was in my 40’s that I had not even thought to try it? I went over to the puzzle and took my turn moving the pieces around. The entire time all I could think was “Why don’t I stop and look around more? What else am I missing?”

I made a decision right then to pursue what is beautiful. When it snows I tilt my head back and watch the flakes cascade down to my face. I pulled over on the side of the road and watch the sun setting. I get out of my car and take my shoes off and walk through fields with thick lush grass and I even lay down on a beach at night to behold the stars. I make time for beauty.

Do you have time for beauty? You and I are called to pursue what is beautiful, true and good, but are we? Perhaps the question we have to ask ourselves is that if we do not have time to stop and listen to a world class musician playing the most intricately written music on the best instrument ever made then maybe we need to re-prioritize our pursuits.

 ORIGINAL WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE WITH VIDEOS

 

Letting Go

balloonAt first I thought going to a memorial service to say good-bye to Kolbe (the baby I just lost in miscarriage) was that last thing I would do.  The thought of making myself emotionally vulnerable and go back into the wound that I just wanted to walk away from was the least appealing idea to me.  Yet, when the priest at my Church texted to tell me that the cemetery that Kolbe was to be buried at had a memorial service being offered the very next week after losing my baby, it seemed to be an invitation from God. Either that or it was very coincidental that within a week of miscarrying there was a service being offered. Then he told me that the day it was offered was the very day we had a meeting scheduled anyways so he knew I would be free.

I have begun to see these kind of coincidences as ways in which God is gently nudging me in a particular direction.  They are painful nudges, but they are invitations that I have begun to understand as doors God the Father desires for me, His daughter to walk through because He want to take me deeper, closer and farther in my spiritual walk towards Him.

I can refuse these invitations, but I some how know if I do I will be staying right where I am.  A couple of years ago I began recognizing these invitations for the first time.  I did not realize that I was always being invited and had even accepted many of them.  Instead I had thought I was just “experiencing” deeper intimacy here and there, randomly.   Then it happened.  I was in Florida at a Healing Retreat dealing with the shit storm of what is my life and I heard the Holy Spirit prompt me to accept His invitation.  That is when I recognized that I am always being given invitations.  What do they look like? Usually they look very painful.  That particular night the invitation was clear.  “When I invite you, say yes.  If you do, I will heal you.  If you don’t, you will stay where you are.” The Holy Spirit was telling me that even when it was scary and felt like dying that if I trusted Him and said yes to whatever it was He was inviting me to, that on the other side of it I would find healing.  It is as if you are blind-folded and walking through traffic and someone is reaching their hand out on the other side telling you to walk toward them.  As scary as that felt, I still heard Him saying “Trust Me.”

Even now I am having a hard time articulating the intense fear and reservation that still accompanies his invitations.  That invitation in Florida, the one that opened my eyes to see that I am always being invited, changed my life.  I call it my undoing because I was undone, but then I was made new.  

I heard the invitation to walk into the loss of this baby when it would be so much easier to just continue marching forward and get on with my life.  It is so easy to do with all of the things on my calendar.  I could easily slip away from it all and just try to forget.  Yet, here I was standing in a cemetery listening to poems being read out loud by other women who just lost their babies.  The most beautiful part of the ceremony was the moment the woman there handed me a purple balloon in honor of Kolbe.  As it was placed in my hands the tears slipped out of my eyes and down my face.  To hold something in my hands that was for Kolbe broke open the stones I had tried to put around the wound in my heart to keep from feeling the loss.  One of my most favorite songs ever started playing as we were invited to say goodbye in our own private way.

I watched  a mother and three children each take a balloon and tie a note to the string.  They released their balloons together and I watched as she kneeled on the ground holding her children and watching with them as the balloons rose in the air carrying their little notes with them.

Looking back at my own balloon I closed my eyes for a brief moment and I swear I saw Kolbe holding hands with his siblings in heaven, laughing and running chasing after the balloons like children do.  Then I did what I must always do  when I am going to accept an invitation sent to me from God my Father.  I let go.

Why Do I feel scared, ashamed, hopeless, rejected, angry or powerless?

suffering

Want to know why you feel so screwed up? Well, it is probably  from wounds created by sin that has you believing a lie in which you have then made vows to do or not do this or that  ever again in an attempts to get control over your pain or fear or distrust or feelings of powerlessness.  How do you fix it? Read on.

(This is a long piece and meant only for those who desire to understand what their root wounds are that are causing such great suffering in their lives due to a life of neglect, trauma or abuse). 

WOUNDS CHART

sin separates

From the very beginning of the Bible sin is defined as separation from God. It is also spoken of as a transgression, which means to violate the law.  Since the law is meant to protect us and the world we live in, we see that sin is not only a violation of God but a violation of us and of all creation.  When we sin we separate ourselves from God, transgress against his will and against one another and against all of creation.  This is the condition we live in due to original sin.

The word sin can also be understood as missing the mark.  Greek archers used the word sin when an archer would aim for a target but miss the mark, they would fall short of their target.  Many of us aim to please God yet we all fall short of the glory of God.

So with these biblical definitions I think we can agree that we are all sinners.  All of us live in that place of struggle in which we miss the mark, transgress upon the will of God and in doing so violate one another and ourselves

So all of us are sinners and our sin has it’s effects by creating wounds.  Sin always wounds.  Our sin wounds us every time.  But we are also wounded by the sins of those around us. So it seems very clear that we have no possibility of living in this world without being wounded.

Sin is like cancer in that if it’s ignored it will grow in our bodies.  As Christians we are called to be the body of Christ.  We are to make Christ visible in and through our lives. We are to be living signs, our families an icon of the Trinitarian love of God revealing truth, life and love to the world.  When we sin, the effects of our sin spreads in three directions thus marring our ability to reveal Christ to the world.

spreads

Sin spreads socially, to all those around us.

When we sin, we diminish Christ’s glory, not that Christ’s glory can be diminished but certainly our ability to be an icon that reveals His Glory can be diminished.  How can someone see Christ in us when our sin is the first thing someone sees when they look at us.

Scripture tells us in Genesis, Exodus and Deuteronomy that sin also has an effect for generations. Some scriptures say ten generations.  Many of us are not only dealing with our own sinfulness but with sin that has had it’s effects in our families down through the generations. For people who have been abused, simple affection can be difficult to give to their children.  Those children then have difficulty with affection and so you see that the same affects of the sin from abuse has its affects down the generations.

generations

When I began my journey in inner healing and realized my own sinfulness as a result of my wounds I discovered that the same wounds that had been passed down through the generations to me did not stop there.  I realized I was in fact responsible for bringing the same kind of pain to the people in my family.  This led me to become overwhelmed with grief.

How can we prevent hurting our own children? The answer is we can’t.

The only thing we can do is to continue to clean up our hearts. The cleaner our hearts become the better we can love those around us.  It is like our heart is a vase meant for holding flowers but with sin and wounds our “vase” is cracked and holds sludge instead of water.  When we clean out the sludge and allow Christ to heal us, we can retain His grace to love others the way He loves and the water is not tainted with the sludge.

clean

 

The reason why we are struggling in this world is not because we are somehow strange or because we are not faithful or pious enough, it is because we live in a world that has been divided because of sin. Being faithful and growing in holiness can help us in our struggles but unless we address our wounds we may find ourselves carrying a larger struggle than God desires for us to carry by ourselves.

struggle

“There are many kinds of wounds but what they all have in common is that they affect us in such as ways as to give us a taste of hell.” Says  Dr. Bob Schuchts,  founder of the John Paul II healing center and creator of healing retreats in Tallahassee Florida.  These retreats are what I believe have saved my marriage and saved my own children from growing up even worse off than perhaps I was.  While taking his course “Sexual Healing and Redemption” at the Theology of the Body Institute, he spoke of 6 common wounds that many of us carry.  He bases that number off of the Theophostic Healing research done by Ed Smith’s work who lays out 7 common wounds.  Dr. Bob has condensed the list to 6.   He lists them as follows:

wound hearts

1) Abandonment Wounds.  “I am all alone and I will always be alone”.

2) Fear or terror wounds.  “I can’t trust anybody.”

3) Shame.  “I’m unworthy, I’m unlovable.”

4) Powerlessness.  “I have no ability to do anything.  I can’t change anything.”

5) Rejection.  “I’m unacceptable, I’m disgusting, I’m repulsive.”

6) Hopelessness.  “I can’t change anything.”

7) Identity Wounds.  “I am garbage, I am nothing, I do not matter”.

When events in our lives cause us suffering, the devil, the enemy of our soul, comes to us in that moment and proposes a lie to us much like a groom would propose marriage to us.  If we believe the lie he proposes, we are then opening ourselves to him.  This is a foothold.  St. Paul tells us how sin can becomes a foothold using anger as an example.

“Do not be angry and sin in your anger and give the devil a foothold”.

castle

We are either in relationship with God or relationship with the devil.  We are either walking in truth or walking in a lie.  When Eve was in the garden of Eden, the devil came and proposed his lie to her that God could not be trusted, that he was keeping something back from her by not allowing her to eat from the tree of knowledge.  He was proposing that God did not love her.  When Eve ate the apple, she was accepting the proposal of the devil, she accepted his lie and just like any marriage there was fruit that came from her accepting the proposal.  The fruit was death.  When we accept the lies that the devil proposes to us we too our severing our union with God and are uniting ourselves to the evil one.  With our free will, we are chosing to be in relationship with the liar and this foothold we have given him, will grow like a cancer if we ignore it.  Like cancer spreads in our bodies, so too does the affects of the lies we consent to believe in.  These footholds turn into strongholds.

“A stronghold is any pattern of behavior in your life that you know is against the will of God but continues to persist even when you try to change it.” ( Dr Bob Schuchts Anatomy of a wound audio http://www.OnlyPeople.net).

This pattern is a result of the barriers we have built around our heart, brick by brick, lie by lie and vow by vow in an attempt to protect ourselves from being hurt or suffering in some way.  The problem with putting up walls around our hearts is that we keep out the good along with the bad.  We become like a prisoner within a castle and the stronghold keeps us there.  

Counseling can bring us temporary relief, can teach us coping skills and can give us a means by which to deal with the distress symptoms that result from us believing the lies but they cannot change the stronghold or bring it down.  Medication can offer us some relief as well, perhaps helping us manage our anxiety that is related to the stronghold but this is not a chemical imbalance we are talking of.  A stronghold is an action of our free will and unless we take it down with our own free will it will not be moved by medication.  Praying is helpful and is definitely a step in the right direction as God is the one that can help to expose the lies so we know where to start but unless we are using the weapons spoken of by St. Paul then we are only managing the our pain rather than finding true freedom.

 

bound

Dr Bob Schucht’s goes on to say that “Every thought and imagination that exalts itself against the knowledge of God results in a stronghold.” (Anatomy of a wound audio).   So in the name of Jesus Christ, through the power of God we can break strongholds.  Without the power of God we are just using our will to do something or not do something.  If we try to overcome stronghold by own own sheer will we will end up frustrated or giving up all together.

 

 

7 deadly sins

They are pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth. Dr. Bob Schucht’s reminds us that “It is interesting to note that they are dispositions or attitudes of our hearts before they are sins.   These are attitudes of our hearts that orientate us towards sin.   Each one of them has an idolatry of something that exalts itself above God.” (The Anatomy of a wound audio on onlypeople.net).

Anger is an idolatry of control.

Pride is an idolatry of self.

Greed is an idolatry of things.

Lust is an idolatry relationship.

Gluttony is an idolatry of substance to comfort.

Sloth is an idolatry of comfort to avoid pain.

Envy is an idolatry of the status position or privileges of other people.

 

To explain this further let me clarify the relationship of sin, idol, wound, lies and vows.  When the enemy proposes a lie, and if we accept his proposal,  we then turn away from God.  When we turn away from God, we then are turning towards something else.  This “something else” becomes our idol.  If we are feeling powerless, the enemy may propose the lie that “we must be in control or we will be hurt”.  We then accept his proposal and profess to him our vows to unite ourselves to his lie.  Our vow may be “I will make sure I always remain in control”.  My idol is now control and not God.  When I am feeling powerless I no longer turn to God and believing that he will protect me and his hand is guiding my life for my well-being.  Instead, my heart has closed itself to God, instead my new idol of control is what I live by to protect myself from feeling powerless.  I have exalted control above God.  When I cannot control a situation and begin to feel as if I am losing control the result is my anger. I sin out of my anger in many ways and they are the distress symptoms.  You will see my outbursts, my nit-picking, my perfectionism, my passive-aggressive means of manipulating others you will see me rage.

For every wound there is an idol and for every idol we worship we manifest sinful actions.  Every sin has an effect and those effects are usually very visible to the people around us.  (I have made a chart and attached it above to give an understanding ow how they all go together.  I have used the information that I learned at several healing retreats taught by Dr. Bob Schuchts however, I could not find a chart that put together the connection of all of the components to make it easier for people to discover what their wounds are so I created my own.

 

 

We begin to make God’s out of all of those things because we think they will give us some satisfaction yet they are all characterizations of the devil so if we begin to engage in the lies that he tells us, we allow him the very foothold upon which he can ensnare us.

So how are we going to break free from the strongholds?  We must be willing to suffer.  When we are willing to suffer the original thing we were running away from and turn back to God and ask him to help us, then and only then do we acquire the actual graces to practice the virtues necessary in overcoming a particular sin in our life.  If we have experienced abuse, trauma or neglect as children then the powerlessness we experienced in those moments may have resulted in our attempts to control everything and everyone.  Most likely it also resulted in distrust, fear and un-forgiveness.   When we forgive people who have hurt us we then begin to embody the merciful heart of Jesus Christ.  Anger cannot remain where one has softened their hearts and become forgiving and merciful.  Anger cannot abide where a heart has turned to God and begins to relinquish it’s power in exchange for his grace and his will in their life.  

The only thing that overcomes pride is humility.  Humbly acknowledging your pride before God and asking Him to take it away.  If you think you can work on your pride then you are being prideful.  The sin of being prideful or self-justifying comes from identity wounds.  When we grow up in homes where we might not have been affirmed and loved as unique and unrepeatable person we begin to self-justify.  If the only thing we were affirmed for was being attractive, this may become our new idol.  This is vanity which is a form of pride.  When we were only affirmed for being smart we make our intellect or academics our idol.  The only way to overcome these things is to acknowledge that these are gifts from God meant to bring souls to Christ.

The only thing that overcomes our greed is generosity because greed is the control over our possession because of insecurity.  Many people who hoard money or objects (there are even shows on television showing the lives of hoarders) desire to keep as much “things” around them and with them because they have entered into a relationship with objects that are safe and cannot “hurt” them.  Greed is a “distress” symptom of a wound.  We sin in our greed in attempt to stop feeling insecure or afraid about our well-being. We do not trust that God will care for us.The irony is that they are hurting because of the isolation their greed may cause.  This is like a cycle that repeats itself.  The only thing that can overcome greed is trusting in the generosity of God and then becoming generous yourself.  Generosity is saying and believing that you trust in the providence of God. So if you think your issue is greed you are wrong, it is a fear wound and a trust issue.

The only thing that overcomes lust is not “getting yourself under control” and saying  to yourself “I just won’t look at the person or that pornography.” Our issue is a rejection wound.  Out of that place of feeling disgusting or that no one can love you a false idol is made out of disordered relationships of intimacy where the other can not “in-to-me-see”.  Intimacy is about seeing deeply into an other and allowing oneself to be deeply seen.  When we come to see the beauty and purpose of the human person made visible in and through our bodies we begin to heal.  Theology of the Body is the antidote and chastity is lived out because once we understand our sexuality we desire to “speak” a language of love in and with our bodies.  It is then that we can come before God and beg him for purity of our eyes and our hearts and of our bodies.  Chastity is seeing the awesome creation of our sexuality “male and female” He created us.

The only thing that overcomes gluttony is abstinence and fasting.   This can come from shame or hopelessness wounds and so we begin to consume a substance that comforts us rather than go to God and ask Him to fill the hole inside our hearts.  We begin to forget the spiritual life and rely only upon the pleasures of the body.  It is disordering our very personhood.  This often times leads to sloth.

The only thing that overcomes sloth is diligence.  This can come from feeling powerless.  We become bound up in sloth when we believe the lie that we are powerless in some area of our life or in life in general and so we avoid the pain of trying to effect change by being slothful.  It is in being diligent and willing to do the things that God is asking us to do especially when it is difficult that helps us to get free from Sloth. This is a common attack as it has to do with keeping the body of Christ from realizing we are in a spiritual battle.  If we feel powerless and so then give up and become slothful the enemy can make more ground. I would say fortitude and diligence as well as courage and perseverance are important in overcoming sloth.

The only thing that overcomes envy is kindness.  The wounds here can be from identity wounds.  When you grow up feeling that you do not matter and that you are garbage, it is easy to begin hating your neighbor whose life may seem so much better.  Envy is not just desiring your neighbors goods or status it is also believing that they have gotten something that you deserved to have.  Is the reality that you deserve to be seen as good and worthy? Yes, but when one suffers from identity wounds then the lie is that you don’t matter and so envy builds up in our hearts turning it even more cold and hard against others.  When we can be kind to others, be truly concerned for others this hardness softens. When you begin to see that each of us are called into being by our creator, each of us are unique and unrepeatable persons, then we see that our own worth and dignity is God given and are no longer angry about the good fortune of others.

Sometimes we can’t truly choose to become free from something so we may begin by choosing to become free in something else.  We may chose to abstain in a smaller area which will then give us the strength to deal with a more powerful stronghold later.  This helps us overcome the hopelessness of feeling that nothing will ever change.

These are just some of the examples of how sin and wounds and lies work together and how once discovered and the virtues sought can enable us to brings some real healing into our lives.  None of us are any position to judge one another yet I am sure all of us can identify with one or more of these sins.  All of us struggle with these sins and virtue is the way in which we will get free.

Once your identity a sin in your life that you cannot seem to get free from you must then begin to identify the lies that you believe.   You must then renounce those lies and ask Jesus to forgive you for making a false idol in an attempt to deal with your pain alone rather than to open your heart to God.  This is where healing comes in.   If I have truth to undo the lie, if I believe the scripture that tells me that I should not worry about what I eat and what I wear because I trust in God’s providence then all of a sudden I can have security, real security because the stronghold lie begins to crumble.  In asking forgiveness for making a false idol and renouncing the lie in Jesus’ name the enemies power is broken.  Now the drawbridge has been lowered so that the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete can come in and be the divine physician.

So how do we begin? First you must ask the Holy Spirit to come and help you.  God knows what you are ready to deal with and where you must first get free in order to have the strength and courage to press into the other wounds.  If you go into areas you are not ready to deal with it will feel as if the enemy is rubbing salt in your wounds and you may be to afraid or feel to incapable of handling the pain associated with it.

I started with a distress symptom, an area of my life I felt was creating a pattern of sinful behavior that I just could not seem to get free of.  I then asked the Holy Spirit to show me what He wanted me to know about it.  For me, he showed me a memory.  I then asked the Holy Spirit to reveal the lie in my heart that I believed.  I then asked Him to reveal the judgment I had made about God and about the other person.  I then asked God’s forgiveness for the believing the lies, making the judgments and for turning to a false idol instead of to Him.  I then asked God to help me forgive the person for what they did.  As for the lies, I renounced them in the name of Jesus Christ.  It was as if I broke off my union with the enemy  had re-united myself to my true Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.  The effects were immediate.  The peace was beyond anything counseling or anxiety meds or alcohol or food had ever done for me.

When I contemplated the lie again, I laughed out loud because it sounded, AND FELT, so ridiculous.  It no longer had any hold over me.  Who would have thought that freedom would and could be so instantaneous.  This is because it is by the power of God.  So why did this work when nothing else seemed to? Because God does not and will not violate our free will.  He can supernaturally heal us but before that we must first surrender our will to God and invite him in.  It is, to use the castle analogy,  as if we must lower the drawbridge to give him access.

St. Peter says “Anyone who is willing to suffer in the flesh is done with sin” 1 peter

Jesus is the only person who experienced all of the same wounds we have and yet did not sin out of his wounds.  He was abandoned “My God, my God why have you forsaken me”.  All his friends left him.  He was abandoned, yet did not sin.

“He was rejected and despised among men” IS 53, but he did not give into the rejection, he continued to love in the face of that rejection.

He was complete helplessness on the cross, but he chose to surrender his will to the father.

He tasted the greatest despair on him from our sins in the garden and on the cross but he never gave into despair or sloth.

He experienced every single wound in the mystery of creation and chose to be obedient.  He took on every wound for us and the sins and penalties of the wounds and the sins.  He did this for us.  He also identified with us so that we can see that we can identify with him in our suffering and know his compassion for our pain.

Am I saying that healing our wounds is as simple as bringing our suffering to Him on the cross? Yes I am. It is not simple or easy to do but it is simple in choice.

Are you still afraid? Are you still feeling hopeless? Are you still not sure how to begin? Then start simply.  You can say “I can not overcome this Jesus, but you can”.  “I can not bear this Jesus, but you can.”

In scripture, it says we have a mighty savior that will wipe away every tear and comfort every infirmity and remove every sin for those who believe and trust in him.  Instead of despair we shall have the oil of gladness, instead of shame we shall have double honor, not just in heaven but here in our lives, progressively as grace perfects our nature.

Take some time to journal.  Take an area of your life, some place of distress in your life.  Pray and ask God to show you what the lie is that you believe in your heart.  Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what the root wound and the root sin is. Ask him to show you where it is rooted in term of memory and experience. For some it may be a recent event for others something farther back.

This part is important.  Allow yourself the chance to feel the pain of that.  Bring that to Jesus and ask Jesus to reveal the truth and bring his healing love there.

He who is willing to suffer in the flesh is done with sin!

God will meet us. It’s a matter of walking there so don’t be impatient with yourself.  It is a process and He is not going to give you something that is more than you can bear.

I want to give you hope that as you walk through this, to know that there is such joy on the other side of healing.  It is awesome and worth every bit of the pain you might go through as you look at events or people in your lives that wounded you with their sin.  Keep your eyes, your focus on Jesus.  He is the author and perfecter of our faith.  He will bring you to the joy that He promises.  That may be hard to believe, especially for those who might have been dealing with deep hopelessness wounds for a long time.  Let me encourage you to not give in to sloth, remain diligent, keep going forward even if it is very small steps, that is still progress and you will be greatly rewarded.

This information comes from Dr. Bob Schucht’s work on “Healing The Whole Person” and other great Inner Healing work he provides for those desiring real freedom.  You can find more information on how to attend his healing retreats by going to his website  The John Paul II Healing Center  .

Hell Is Proof That God Loves Us

sign heaven hellThe fact that hell exists is proof of God’s love.  Without a choice to go to hell there is no free will, there are no choices, there is no love.  If there was not a hell, then God could not honor our choice to reject Him.  Hell makes choosing God possible, without there is no choice.  If there were not a choice to go to hell we would be animals, without choice, relying on our instincts to dictate our lives.

Does God pre-destine a soul to go to hell? The short answer is no.   According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church Predestined means that we are selected for divine adoption by an eternal decree of God (Eph 1:4). “Predestination is a mystery revealed but not fully understood; what we know for certain is that God is free to act as he chooses (Ps 135:6) and man is free to accept or reject his blessings (Rom 2:6-8; Sir 15:11-13). No one is predestined by God for eternal damnation” (CCC 1037).

hell

Predestined and predetermined are two different things.  We are in fact predestined for heaven.  The old Baltimore Catechism says this about why God created us: “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.”  This goes against the argument that some protestants have used to say God predestines some people to go to hell and there is nothing they can do to change it.  They believe that some people are  chosen and brought into existence for this purpose, to go to hell.  This is false.  God does not desire it nor does He bring into being a person so he can then “send” them to hell.

It is a person’s free will that destines a person for hell.  God’s gift of free will allows each person to choose heaven or hell.  There are two choices really.  “I am a handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to they word” as Mary said or “Not my will but thine be done” as Jesus said.  The alternative is  “I will not serve” which was the response of Lucifer.

cartoon

So how is one to understand how a person is “predetermined” to go to hell? When we understand the immaculate conception we understand predetermined. Why is this? Because the Immaculate Conception reveals the very timelessness of God.  God is outside of time and space.  God applied the graces merited by Jesus Christ on the cross and applied it to Mary at the moment of her conception.

How could He do that? Because God knew Mary would say yes.  This did not mean she did not get to chose it, it just means that because He is God He exists outside of space and time.  He is past present and future.  God knows no boundaries.  He knew she would say yes it happened already outside of time and he preemptively applied the grace.  This is of course my laymen terms for such a complex theology that only a theologian (which I am not) could explain it concisely.

future past present

You could say that Mary was predetermined to say yes and be the mother of God.  Bl Anne Catherine Emerich talks about this in her 4 volumes that Mel Gibson used to write the screen play for “The Passion”.  She said in her writings that God desired to bring about the salvation of the world sooner but it was not until St. Anne and St. Joachim that two loved like the trinity into which Mary was brought and in which she would say yes to being the mother of God that God could then move forward with His divine plan.  That shows you how much God honors our free will.  He won’t even save us unless we allow Him to, that is how much He respects our free will.

It is hard to understand how the graces merited on the cross by Jesus Christ were given to His mother before she was even born.  Another way to wrap ones head around this mystery is to contemplate the Eucharist.   At mass we experience Calvary.  It is because the Holy Sacrifice of the mass is able to pass outside of space and time, literally making present the body of Jesus Christ, that this is possible.  We are not re-creating Christ’s death and crucifixion, nor are we re-sacrificing Him, rather we step through a mystical veil of time and space and Calvary is made present.  We are at the foot of the Cross.

This is why we pray for the dead or why we ask for the Communion of Saints to pray for us.  Our prayers can bestow graces to them before their deaths.  We can pray for those who died and our prayers can merit graces that outside of time can be given to them before they died to help perfect their nature.  It is this mystery of timelessness that many of us cannot understand because we are temporal beings. We are bound by space and time but God is not.  The spiritual is not.  Angels pass through this veil easily because they are not bound time space as we are.  Perhaps this is why some Saints could bi-locate.  They could pass through the veil because it is a reality created by God to govern the physical realm.  However, we are spiritual and physical beings.  Therefore, we too are able to pass through the veil in ways known only to God and in our Glorified bodies we will move as fast as our thoughts and will pass through walls much like Christ did when manifested into the upper room.  He passed through the veil, the dimension that separates us.

At the moment of conception God creates a holy immortal soul and infuses it into the body of that child.  At that moment God knows all of the choices that person will make before they make them, never diminishing their free will.

choices

It is the choices they will make that will determine their final destination.  All souls are destined for heaven.  This is the the truth of the trinity because every person is created in the image and likeness of God who is Love.  God is love poured out and overflowing and in that excess of love He creates Holy immortal souls.  This means we are all created to love and be loved.  If we do not chose enter into that love we reject God (who is Love) and chose the alternative.

The fact that hell exists is another proof of God’s love.  Without a choice to go to hell there is no free will, there are no choices, there is no love.  If there was not a hell, then God could not honor our choice to reject Him.  Hell makes choosing God possible, without there is no choice.  If there were not a choice to go to hell we would be animals, without choice, relying on our instincts to dictate our lives.

God does not force himself on us but rather allows us to decide if we will be with Him forever in Heaven or if we will reject Him and spend eternity in Hell.  We will exist for all eternity, where we do it is up to us.

So if we are not predestined to go to hell are we predetermined to go to hell? What does predetermined mean? In this context predetermined means that before it happens it is already known to happen.   Souls are predetermined for hell because their choice of hell is known by God before they live it out.

James 1:13-15, “Let know one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death.”

c.s lewis

It is our choice to sin that determines whether or not we spend eternity in hell.  When a soul is pre-determined to go to hell it means that God knows that they would reject Him regardless of His invitations or intersessions.   He knows it because He sees their decisions, sees into their personhood, knows their hearts and understands all of their choices and gives them the freedom to choose.

Free will is a very powerful thing.  Even the devil has no real power other than what our free will gives him.  When we submit our will to evil and enflesh it, that is when the devil is able to oppress us.  Free will is something we should all contemplate more.  It transcends space and time and can condemn a person before they are born (because a birthday is a time and God is outside time).  On a positive note, it can also save the entire human race.  Jesus and Mary are proof of that.

ANATOMY OF A WOUND (Inner Healing Talks updated with link to Audio)

If you are unable to find freedom, if you are so wounded from sin that you wonder why it is that you still feel as if you are nailed to your cross rather than carrying it, then please listen to this audio.  It has changed my life and brought me more freedom than over 20 years of traditional counseling.

http://ia701502.us.archive.org/14/items/AnatomyOfAWound/3-01AnatomyOfAWound.m4a

Here is the link to listen to the entire series of talks:
http://www.onlypeople.org/healing/