Archives for February 2014

What Does It Take To Heal – Part 1, Know God Is REAL

This blog is about discipleship. So, what is discipleship? In my mind, discipleship is following a master and imitating their life, in both words and deeds. My Master is Jesus. How do I learn to follow Him? I read the Bible constantly as it is the greatest source of understanding and knowing Him. I read books (lots of books!) written by experts (especially compared to me!) on Jesus’ life and ministry. I listen to sermons, podcasts, and discuss Him with almost anyone I can get to talk to me for more than five minutes. Of course, that means I like to do most of the talking as I really like to talk and have everyone else listen! I am kidding…slightly. I pray, journal, meditate, and eat/chew on Scripture and practice spiritual disciplines. I’ll do anything I feel He asks of me to lean into Him.

I absolutely love the Bible! I see it as the greatest story ever told with God, known in the flesh as Jesus, as the leading man and everyone else has a character roll that is vital in telling His story–our story. It is “our story” because no one has a story all their own. It is always–Jesus and I/you. And usually there are several other people involved too. It is the most passionate, thrilling, compelling, saddest, magnificent, epic, quaint, (and many other adjectives I could use) narrative that explains how REAL God is and how much Jesus loves you and I. I truly doubt any story can be told that couldn’t be found somewhere in Scripture. Our story may have a modern rendition of a story in the Bible, but it is there.

You and I–our lives–are a story. If you’ve not read my story then you can check out Part 1 and Part 2 for the full details. So what do our stories have to do with healing? I have been reflecting back on my journey trying hard to discern what I did to break the stronghold of unwanted SSA (Same Sex Attraction)/homosexual desires. I have truly done anything I felt the Spirit asked me to do. He spoke to me through: professors in seminary, counselors, fellow believers, the Spirit, and I did whatever asked to the greatest degree of strength and energy I had at the time. Now, I will say at the beginning of my journey, I opened up to two buddies, sharing my “secret” for the first time to someone other than Jesus, and found such a relief that I felt I was healed instantly! I was, until I had the next encounter with porn or lusting, after some man who caught my eye in public because he was attractive–having something I perceived I lacked and desired from him. I believe this is the root of SSA. It is an insufficiency or void in identity. This causes desire to fill the void so one attempts to take from another man, found to be attractive and having what is perceived to be missing, for himself. When I begin to grow in my identity in Jesus and know that anything I lacked, He would supply and learn no one else could fill the voids; then I really began to see the desires fade and to transform. So, whenever I felt I was “healed” – it was never permanent as there was/is always more work to do. I was driven by “total healing.” For me this meant I would never find any man attractive, in any way, and certainly would never think about any man again in a sexual way. This “has” and “has not” happened. What does that mean?

I still find some men to be attractive. What about sexual attraction to men? Nope. That is gone.

Is it okay to fine certain men attractive? Yes, that is recognizing beauty in God’s creation just like I can see His handiwork in nature, art, music, written word, theater, inside myself, anyplace I am open to seeing the work He has done.

Do lustful thoughts about men come into my mind? Yes. The enemy is a great adversary. He also has a limited “bag of tricks.” He learns early in our lives how to tempt us and remembers “what” entices us and “how” we react to these temptations he tosses our way. He is very old and very good at his craft! These temptations turn into sins we commit when we are overcome by them. When we heal, he still tempts in the same ways. As we are transformed more and more into the likeness of Jesus his temptations have less and less sway over us. We are still tempted and these temptations in no way negate the truth that we are healed!

An alcoholic has greater and greater amounts of healing with less and less struggle as they work out their part of the healing process; yet twenty years of sobriety still does not produce a person who never has a temptation to drink. It becomes simpler, not easy, for the alcoholic to fight temptations as they learn their triggers and remember the consequences of past actions to help them say “no.” That is where success is found – saying “no” to the temptation and “yes” to Jesus. He is always there with an invitation to “follow Him” to counter the temptation. The alcoholic makes the choice. The person struggling with unwanted SSA/homosexual desires makes the choice too.

This is true for anyone of any struggle: food addiction, exercise addiction, word (gossip/slander, etc.) addiction, sex addiction, anything we put in God’s place as the single source of our worship. Truly it is an idol.

How does all this relate to what I found was the first and foremost important factor for my healing? I’m glad you finally asked! I once met a lady who gave me her email and it started with “dustfromthemastersfeet@domain.com.” Now, I had to break apart the words in my head and when I did, I smiled as my heart warmed. “Dust from the master’s feet.” Wow, how true this would be in the first century when Jesus walked the earth? His disciples would have dust from His feet fly onto them–their feet, sandals, the hem of their robes, anywhere it would land because they were “with” Him as He walked the roads teaching, healing, being God! They would have to be in a relatively close proximity for this to happen though.

Jesus doesn’t walk the earth any longer though, at least not in the same way. So, how do I get dust from His feet to fly onto  me? In the literal sense, I cannot. But figuratively, I can through the ways I mentioned earlier. I spend time with Him. I must experience Him. How is this done?

Seeking to have “dust from the master’s feet” on me requires I know in my heart this: God/Jesus/the Spirit…is REAL. Today, and for the past 1,899 years, this is a undeniable feat since Jesus left earth and ascended into Heaven to the right hand of our Father. The first one hundred years or so I would say it would be easier to say “yes” that Jesus was real. I don’t have any problem knowing that Theodore Roosevelt was real and he died within the last 100 years. The further back in history requires me to have faith that the history books, teachers in school, etc., are true and told the truth. So this can be applied to Jesus, for me, too. I do believe Jesus was real just like Theodore Roosevelt. Truly, more REAL!

But isn’t it more important for Jesus to be real than Theodore Roosevelt? As a Christian, absolutely yes! If Jesus wasn’t real then how could He have died for my sins and saved me? How could the Gospel be true? My life of faith is a lie.

I wanted to know how other people know God is real so I asked a group of men I meet with each week and each told me from their “encounters/experiences” of Him. The wording was a little different for each man and basically the same as what they said was how they had encountered Him in ways so they knew He is real. I also asked a few people on a Facebook page I created called “Consider The Cost” and they all basically said the same too. I was sum what surprised as I really expected the answers to be centered more from truth of the Bible. I know all the people who responded (about 15 total so this is not a sampling with a huge number of participants. You take what you get, right?) well and they all are very familiar at best, if not well versed in the Bible. Because of this I know they have a degree of belief from Scripture. Yet, none of them used this as their main way of knowing God.

When I ponder this, it makes total sense the response would be like this. If I would share with you how REAL a best friend of mine is–or my wife, daughters, family–I wouldn’t tell you how a book is the best way of knowing them! It would be the intimacy from our shared experiences that causes me to know they are real.

How can I know Jesus is real other than reading the Bible, listening to sermons, hearing from others how they know Him, etc.? I have “super-natural” encounters with Him! This is what the rest of this post is about. I have had encounters that are nothing less than phenomenal! I share them to inspire you. You too can experience these just as much as I have, or anyone else. Once you have a “super-natural” encounter, your faith will explode! What if you haven’t, and never do have, have an encounter that cannot be explained? You take in what others share with you and ask the Spirit to help you to know if the story is true. He will tell you. Pray and ask God to open your mind to know Him however He wants to share Himself with you. Be excited and expectant for Him to move…because He is doing it!

I share these encounters as they helped me in two ways:  God became REAL; and He could heal and transform me since He is REAL. I pray these stories will inspire and take your faith to a new, deeper level so you can trust God more to help you do the impossible in your life too!

My first “super-natural” encounter is from my childhood. I tell it in Part 1 of my story. I’m not going to repeat the details here. You can read it for yourself. What I want to share again here is that from a very young age I knew God was REAL, loved me, and had great plans for me. This aligns perfectly with Scripture. See Jeremiah 29:11. This was pivotal in my youth when I endured tortuous teasing, loneliness, and depression as I clung to the truth in the core of my being that God was REAL, He loved me, and was protecting me. The last one I see now but as I went through life I did not “feel” His protection. That does not make it untrue. When I look back at my life I can see this but “in the moments,” I certainly did not “feel” His protection. “Feelings” are great but cannot be the only indicator of truth. Truth is constant no matter I how I feel and I must remember this.

The next “super-natural” experience that I will give credit to Jesus was when I was approximately 10 years old. I was always scared of what was in the dark at night. (I still have problems on Black Friday when my wife goes out shopping and I have to sleep alone. Now, the problem isn’t enough to force me to go shopping with her…no way!) As a small boy, I would wake up at night and cry out for one of my parents to come sleep with me or let me sleep with them when I was a wee-little-tike. As I grew older though, I was expected to be brave and know there was nothing to be scared of and stay in bed and keep my fat mouth shut! No, my parents never said I had a fat mouth. They didn’t need to as I knew it myself! One night I awoke scared to death, more-so than ever. I literally laid there shaking in my bed. I was on the bottom bunk and my brother was on the top. He too had cut me off from climbing in bed with him when I was scared as by this time I was a tubby-tike, not much room for the two of us in one bunk bed! I remember trying to pray, thinking of something happy, straining my eyes to look around the dark room to see see anything move, and all of the sudden I heard a lion roar above my head and it went through, and over, my whole body. It was like I had been swallowed by this lion. I never understood what this could have meant until years later when I read the Scripture from 1 Peter 5:8, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” I wondered if the devil had eaten me that night? Since I struggled with unwanted SSA for so long I really thought this could be true. It was a lie though. The enemy planted that in me and I believed it. Instead, I had my first encounter with the Lion of Judah, Jesus (See Revelation 5:5) and felt “fear of the Lord.” I now see Isaiah 38:13-20 in this encounter:

“I waited patiently all night, but I was torn apart as though by lions. Suddenly, my life was over. Delirious, I chattered like a swallow or a crane, and then I moaned like a mourning dove. My eyes grew tired of looking to heaven for help. I am in trouble, Lord. Help me!” But what could I say? For he himself had sent this sickness. Now I will walk humbly throughout my years because of this anguish I have felt. Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You have restored my health and have allowed me to live! Yes, it was good for me to suffer this anguish, for you have rescued me from death and have forgiven all my sins. For the dead cannot praise you; they cannot raise their voices in praise. Those who go down to destruction can no longer hope in your faithfulness. Only the living can praise you as I do today. Each generation can make known your faithfulness to the next. Think of it — the LORD has healed me! I will sing his praises with instruments every day of my life in the Temple of the LORD.”

Do I think that God sent the sickness of SSA into my life? Maybe. If He did, is His glory now being seen in my life because He healed me? That would be a yes! Do I accept this as a blessing from God? Absolutely! The struggle I have gone through has brought me into His presence and He has healed me – the pain and suffering was more than worth all the cost to see Him,  to hear His voice, and to feel His healing touch! Yes, I’d go through anything He wants to allow in my life to be closer and closer to Him! I do not “seek” more pain and suffering. Yet, if it is His will, let it be done. He loves me and will never leave me. I sing His praises now and until I can no longer!!

My next encounter with Jesus was in college. I was on a retreat with my girlfriend’s youth group in Colorado. The mountains were beautiful. I’d only been to the mountains once previously. I felt so close to God the first time I was able to see them, to walk on one, when skiing, at night…every minute there. It was the most beauty I had ever been surrounded by in my life. I honestly don’t remember a ton about the retreat except two things: I had a “secret” no one knew, and I wanted intimacy with Jesus. What happened? There was praise and worship time, speakers, quiet time alone, and small group time. One of the times, when in a small group of our youth, we were meeting and we got in a circle to pray. I honestly felt very uncomfortable doing this as I certainly did not want to pray out loud. What would I say? Everyone would think I was a big dork! Well, as it turned out I didn’t have to pray out loud to be a dork to those in the circle. People started praying and the next thing I knew I was crying uncontrollably! Snot was going everywhere and I’m holding hands with two people so I cannot stop it. I was thrilled, overwhelmed, scared, pierced, crushed, built-up…all at once! Now I know it was a move of the Spirit. Then, I had no idea what was happening. I truly felt changed in my core and yet, was confused. No one really said anything afterward. As soon as the prayer was over I dashed to the closest restroom to blow my nose profusely. Later, the youth minister asked me why I was so upset and I didn’t have an answer. I reflected much on this event over the next few years of my life and when I did, there was a peacefulness and a longing inside me for it to happen again. Yes, I’d love for this to happen every day of my life! Maybe if the snot got on people it might be “holy snot” and they’d start to feel the Spirit too?

Skipping forward several years and I am married, we just bought our first house–we were so proud of it! I had a new job with a company doing accounting which I hadn’t done in a few years. I was excited about the job even though I was really hesitant about the work but the owner’s wife assured me she would train me. I knew I could do the work. I got along great with the employees and had some good ideas as I started learning about this company. Really, I was on cloud nine as everything in my life seemed to be great (except my dark secret that no one knew–unwanted SSA) when I went to work one Friday after working there for only six weeks…I was fired. She said she didn’t have the time to train me after-all, I had made a mistake with the balance of the checkbook when transitioning it to a computerized spreadsheet for the first time (had a bad formula so the balance was about $200,000 over actual – what’s the big deal about that?!?!) and was told to leave and they would mail my final paycheck. Really? I was shocked, to say the least!

This sent me into a depression landing me at the bottom of the ocean like the Titanic! I couldn’t believe this would happen to me. I had an impressive college transcript, passed the CPA exam my first sitting, great references, promotions in my previous job I had since college, I worked hard and never called in sick, didn’t do drugs, anything to deserve being fired. I was too immature to see it was just a business decision a small company had to make. Nothing more or less. And, yet again, it turned into a blessing. I filed for unemployment. We were fine financially between my wife’s wages and the unemployment. I should have enjoyed this time and instead I made myself, and everyone else in my life, miserable. The one good thing I did was go deep into reading the Bible, writing journal entries on what I read, and truly seeking to find God through Jesus for the first time in my life.

One night I could not sleep. It was the middle of winter and I was afraid I was keeping my wife up with my tossing and turning so I went to the formal living room to read the Bible and pray, thinking this would bring me some much needed peace. This room was the coldest room of the house and I turned the thermostat very low at night which made the room even more cold. I sat there reading Scripturess, seeking comfort. As I read I prayed the Scriptures. I remembering thinking how the prophets in the Old Testament would fall down on their faces and pray. I thought to myself, “Why not? I’ll do anything necessary to get God hear my prayer” and went face down in the living room floor. I started crying out to God, “Why me? Why did this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this?” I was crying hard going from zero to sixty like no other depressed man had, I’m sure! All of the sudden…in my head…not through my ears…I heard, “I will provide for you.” It was the most calming, soothing, melodic voice I had ever heard. I was practically wailing in prayer crying tears, snot, the full-Monty when this voice spoke into my brain and instantly, bam–I stopped crying. I laid there and the first thought in my head was Scooby-Doo’s “ruh?” and then I started whimpering a little like a baby does after they’ve calmed down and start to cry again, and instantly…”I will provide for you.” This time a warm blanket spread over me and I laid there basking in peace, love, warmth, God’s compassion and comfort like I had never experienced before. It was incredible!!! It was a spiritual orgasm. I hope that does not offend you but that is the best way I know how to describe it. If Heaven is going to be full of those then I certainly won’t want sex there! Just saying.

Later that winter, I decided one evening the next day I would go put in ten applications wherever I could. I instantly was full of dread! I hated filling out applications. I always felt people knew I had been fired from a job and was a horrible person. I had determined I must overcome this fear and depression. The alarm went off early the next morning . My wife got up going into our master bath to get ready for work. The light was visible under the door yet the room was still relatively dark as it was not light outside yet. I instantly was anxious about what I had planned for the day. There was no way I was going back to sleep. So, I took her pillow and put it on top of mine to prop myself up in bed. I have no idea why I did this as I did not turn the light on to start reading the Bible. I just wanted to sit up. I started praying for courage, wisdom on where to put in applications, for God to please go before me, to please help me do what I had decided to do. As I sat there praying my face started to feel warmth like the sun from summer was shining on it alone. I couldn’t pray anymore. All I could do was sit there and bask in the warmth. Tears started flowing down my cheeks. The tenderness of the Lord was touching me in a super-natural way! I put my arms up over my head resting them on the wall. Why? I have no clue. All of a sudden…hands were holding mine and I knew in my heart that an angel, or even Jesus Himself, was holding my hands. My face continued to feel the warmth and I could feel the warmth of the hands, they were slightly squeezing mine, almost like they were pulling me up to Heaven. This went on for several seconds and then slowly went away.
***
Over the next couple years I became very involved in church in many ways. The one way that brought me the most joy was doing dramas or skits selected by the minister to help bring life to the service. Approximately ten people, or so, regularly helped to stage and act in these dramas. I even wrote a few. They were my first stab at writing and I really enjoyed how they were received. We would always pray behind the doors onto the stage before the drama started. This drama included the parents and daughter from one family and myself. We started praying and the air changed as I prayed. It was thicker, electrified, we all could feel it. I remember the mom even made a couple of noises like someone was touching her when we were praying. We did the drama and I don’t remember anything spectacular happening. After the service was over we usually met up and I’d give praises for how it went as I love to encourage people. The mom asked if I “felt” anything different when we prayed and I said I did but didn’t know what it was. We all agreed that there was something very “different.” Now I know it was the Spirit filling the room, and us, as we offered up our drama asking Him to please be with us and to say what we needed to help anyone watching to hear the message of the skit.

This experience happened again toward the end of seminary when I went to an adviser seeking to find out what possibilities there might be for me to pursue with my degree. We spoke for a few minutes and the same thing happened as I just described, only more intense. The air changed feeling thicker, electrified, even a slight smell if I remember correctly. She was talking when she suddenly stopped, looked around the room, and then tried to start talking again but had to stop and said, “We must pray now Carey. The Holy Spirit is here now. I do not know why but I feel Him presence overpowering us, we need to pray.” And she started praying. I remember the feeling like it was yesterday. The words of the prayer? No. Super-natural encounters with God, Jesus, His Spirit, I do not forget!

As my studies in seminary progressed, and opportunities to share my “secret” happened, I was obedient to His gentle prompting, with the greatest of all blessings starting to happen–I began to hear His voice! It is uhmazzzing and, unnerving too, as He asked me to do things that were terrifying! I tell this story in more detail in Part 2 of my story. I had a class where I had to preach a sermon on campus in front of 28 fellow seminarians and the professor. In preparing to deliver this sermon, I asked Jesus while in the shower how this sermon would have the impact He wanted it to have. I truly wanted to tell the Gospel in my message even though the audience would be seminary students (one would hope everyone in this kind of audience would be believers). I clearly heard His response to my question, “Tell your story.” I stopped and let the water run over me. “No way” was my initial response. Then I knew I couldn’t tell Him no. I asked and He answered. I would do it. So I prayed, “Please Lord, give me the courage to do this.” And, He did as He has all along my journey, including this blog. The stories of intimacy in how He talks to me when praying, running, having dinner with my wife, almost anywhere, are “super-natural” to me also. And, this alone grounds me so that I push hard into my daily pursuit of holiness as I want to do nothing that would hinder, or prevent, this from continuing.

My last story to share here, not the last I could tell you though, is one that I will never forget! I gave to my wife for Christmas a Shih Tzu puppy. He was all black and basically a fur ball. He was hilarious! We bonded to him immediately, and he to us. I have always been a huge dog-lover! Some of my earliest memories are of puppies as my parents raised Collies, amazing dogs! We named this puppy, Oliver, and called him Ollie most of the time. Not long after getting him it became obvious he was my dog. He loved my wife but when I came into the room he would bee-line-it to me. He went to bed when I did and got up when I did. When I was home, he was almost always with me. We had him for three years when one night I was on a conference call with two fellow students. We were working on a big project–one of my last for the semester. Ollie came to me with one of his toys wanting to play. I didn’t have time to play right then so I let him out the front door. It was April 1st and the windows were open across the entire house. It was a beautiful evening. We wrapped up the session and were about to finish when I heard a car drive by the house, heard it hit something and instantly a dog yelping. I bolted out the front door to the street and found our Ollie on the side of the road. I gently picked him up and carried him to the light of the front porch. He was laboring to breath and had a tiny trickle of blood from his nose. Otherwise, he appeared to be fine. I knew he had been run over by the car. I cried and cried out to God to please heal him. I had been reading several books on divine healing that semester as I had a huge interest in this topic, for myself and others. So I was praying in any way I could remember these books described how to pray.

As I prayed the lady who had ran Oliver over walked up and told me she had hit him and was so sorry. I felt conflicted as I wanted to be mad at her but knew it was an accident. I told her it was not her fault and that I should have not let him out without being with him. We/I had gotten lazy letting him run the neighborhood instead of walking him on a leash. I went back to praying over Ollie and laid my head on his chest. I could hear his heart beating slower and slower. I had to hold back the tears and sobs so I could hear all the while praying from the center of my being. “Please Lord, not this dog too!” I had the memories of several dogs from childhood that had died from being hit by cars, as well as  old age, etc. and I couldn’t stand this to happen again. We really had not had him very long and to lose him so soon…? All of the sudden, Ollie raised his head and barked three loud, healthy barks and my heart soared! He was going to be fine! Then, he laid his head back down on the grass. I put my head back on his chest saying, “No, no, no, no, please Lord, please Lord” all the time his heart was beating slower and slower until, it stopped. I lost it!

Both my wife and I grieved deeply for Ollie. He brought such joy to our family since our daughters were grown, married, with their own children. We hadn’t had a dog for a few years as our last dog died of cancer when we lived in Florida. After Ollie passed, every night I went to bed and cried myself to sleep for two weeks. Ollie always went to bed with me and when my wife came to bed she would shoo him to the foot of the bed. Going to bed alone without him was the worst!

On the night of the fourteenth day after Ollie passed I went to bed and the tears started. It wasn’t only Ollie I was grieving. For some reason, every person close to me who had passed was on my heart: all my grandparents, my older brother who was killed in a car wreck ten days after I graduated high school, a close friend–an elder in our church–who died from cancer at age 48 a few years earlier, and other people would come to my mind as the tears flowed each night (I cried off and on all day too! I am a true “Sister-Sally!) and this night I felt like I could not take it any more. I prayed, “Lord, I know You are real. I am hurting so deeply for so many people and Ollie. You have touched me in super-natural ways before and I’d really like a special touch from you again. I really need You, Jesus.” The prayer trailed off as I fell to sleep.

I awoke at 2:58 am needing to go the the bathroom. I hate to get up during the night to pee so I laid there trying to force myself to go back to sleep. Soon, I knew it was useless and got up to go. As I went, I could feel my body waking up which was causing me to be alarmed. I had a crazy-busy day ahead of me and I needed sleep. If I woke up too much I knew I’d not go back to sleep for some time. I went back to bed. My wife had her back to me facing the opposite side of the room. I curled up on my side almost spooning her–knowing not to as she’d wake up and turn into Linda Blare–not pretty at all! This position wasn’t doing it so I rolled over hugging my pillow half on my left side but almost laying on my stomach (yes, I sleep in very strange positions!). I looked at the clock on the dresser and it was 3:11 am. I had been awake long enough that I really was concerned about sleep continuing and almost got up. I decided I would lay there for a little longer trying to go back to sleep. As I relaxed, still very awake though, I felt a hand on the center of my back from my side of the bed. No one else was in the house with us. This hand was warm with a comforting amount of pressure and I instantly thought of my prayer. I absolutely KNEW whose hand this was…Jesus! I laid there thinking, “Oh, the God of the universe is answering my prayer and is touching me…right now! This all happened very fast. My heart started to race, I knew this was His left hand and He was looking down at me as He stood beside me! I cringed a little and made a slight squeal, like a pig I think, and the hand was gone! I then started to cry as the last thing I wanted was for Him to remove His hand from me! My mind was racing and at the same time, filling with peace. Tears started to escape from my eyes as His peace permeated my being. “I had been touched by Jesus.” My body relaxed without me even having to try–there is no way I could have stopped this. I fell slowly to sleep with a new, deeper understanding how REAL Jesus is and how much He loves me to answer my prayer in such a profound way!

There are more stories to tell, but not here as this post is too long already. I know, with no doubts whatsoever, He will move in my life again in “super-natural” ways. If He doesn’t, I am great with all the ways He has revealed Himself to me. His Word is true and more than enough for me to know I can trust Him to be my Lord and Savior! These stories here–plunge my faith to “super-natural” levels that NO ONE can take away from me. You can scoff, doubt, confirm with your own stories, and be envious that these have not happened to you…yet! I’d be envious of stories like these as when I do read about stories similar to mine, I am envious! I always want more and more of Jesus!!

I know Jesus will do whatever He deems to help us grow in our faith. Does He do this for everyone? I don’t know. I’ve told these stories a few times when I thought it would encourage someone who was struggling in their faith. I tell these here and now to help you know God is REAL and Jesus loves you more then you could ever understand.

Since He is REAL…He can heal you too! Of illness or issue you need healing: physical, mental, spiritual, financial, ANYTHING.

“So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” Hebrews 11:6, NLT His rewards can be whatever He deems we need. I am very thankful He has decided to super-naturally reach into my life is ways that defy natural laws to ground my faith and to know how very, VERY REAL He is!

I pray He will touch you in a super-natural way that will increase your faith and cause you to know without any doubt how REAL He is and how much He loves you.

For me, it is an absolute necessity to know God is REAL, He loves me, and wants to bless me in many, many ways with the greatest being healing me of unwanted SSA/homosexual desires. If He did this in my life…He can heal you of whatever you desire healing from also. Will He? I know we are told to ask and we will receive, see John 16:24.

 

The Weekend I Wanted & The Weekend I Got

It’s Monday, February 10th, 8:00 pm. Another weekend has passed–the second weekend of the second month of the year. I have been focusing much on how fast this year will fly. Because of this, I had planned on spending this weekend writing, reading, vision-casting, with maybe two excursions away from my castle: Academy Sports + Outdoors to buy a new elliptical on Saturday, and church on Sunday. I can be the ‘king of piddle’ so I must be decisively conscious of how I spend my time as my life is passing faster and faster. I have much urgency, my time is short–even if I am here on my ninetieth birthday and beyond–it won’t be enough.

I get home late from work on Friday, meet with one of my best bros-in-Jesus for about an hour. We discuss Abraham and Lot. Lot chose the best digs being the whole plain of the Jordan (see Gen. 13:10-11) and Abraham went on in faith that God had something greater for him. As the story proceeds, Lot gets into a pickle that produces a run for his life and everything he has, except his two daughters, is burned or turned to salt (poor, rubbernecking wife!) and ends up in a cave. His life fades off into who knows? When Abraham and Lot parted ways with Lot taking what “appeared” to be the best choice, Abraham continued on following God and he definitely made the best choice as he became a man that almost everyone knows something about, even if not of a Judeo-Christian background. Abraham is still discussed thousands of years later. Who talks much about Lot, if at all? This conversation helped me think several times over the weekend about the daily choices I make. Are they “Lot loser” or “Abraham accolade” decisions? Both can be discussed for a long time. I desire to make choices that will spur positive recollections of me someday when memorialized, and beyond. I must choose to be “Abraham-like” and do my best to avoid being “Lot-like.” Easy to profess, difficult to do.

I didn’t realize after my buddy left how this conversation would affect my weekend.

My wife comes home and our evening proceeds with the opening ceremony for the winter Olympics – snoozeville! After a while we stop and watch a show on Netflix. Soon a text comes in from our oldest daughter.  Our three-year-old grandson is going to the hospital by ambulance. He’s been diagnosed with the flu. They live almost an hour and a half away. I’m concerned. We’re concerned. Our daughter keeps us updated via text as the evening proceeds. We are praying and many friends and family are joining with us. This has to be one of the biggest blessings from being part of the body (local fellowship/church) as you are never alone when the trial proceeds!

The next morning I get up early, text my daughter, and she shares that my grandson is sleeping but hasn’t improved. Her night was sleep-deprived with alarms of machines going off and the overall setting of a hospital, which is not conducive to rest. We end the conversation with her promising to let me know when anything changes. I go on with my morning studying from Numbers, writing a journal entry, praying–thoroughly enjoying my time. On Saturdays I often do this for hours and hours. Other days of the week are packed with work, classes, family, and the days get by me without this quantity of time happening. I consistently spend time daily in the Word, praying, writing, but not hours.

I take a break around 11:30am’ish and my wife causally states, “I’d like to go and help out with the kids (the other 5 grandchildren) since our grandson’s in the hospital. I think, O.k., this is great! I’ll have the whole day to write and do all that I had planned! I’m loving this idea of hers! My wife is uhmazzzing!! I casually ask, “You coming home later tonight, right?” I don’t want her gone all night. I’m a grown man and I don’t like to stay by myself if I don’t have to, I admit it! Plus, it’s Saturday night (wink, wink). “Well, no probably not. You’re coming with me right?” flies back across the net from her side of the court. “Well, I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t want to. I wanted to blah, blah, blah all weekend.” She knows because I’ve told her fifty times, at least, what my plans were-I always do! Well, then the “look” comes and the dichotomy of the expression and words that certainly do not match as she says, “You don’t have to go.” Wait. Back up the bus. [Beep, beep, beep literally bounces off the bathroom walls. Isn’t that where all these conversations happen between a husband and wife? Seems like it in my castle…with a bus almost always in the bathroom too!] And what happens next? A fork in the road and I know I must take it. To the left or to the right? Right is right and left is what I really want. Stink!

Next, she does that “wife thing” where she doesn’t say anything at all. How’s this? You give me a look like, “You should go” partnered with words saying, “You don’t have to go.” This throws my brain into a state of, “She’s invariably right and I know what I should do and yet I don’t want to do that–I want to do, what I want to do! Crap!” Then, I remember “lousy Lot” and “Abraham’s applause.” This is a decision and you can make a “Lot choice” or an “Abraham choice.” So, what did I do? I tried very hard to rationalize over and over in my head why I should stay home! Did I? No. I went, and I was very glad! My family, and especially my grandchildren, have greater value than my own life to me.

So what happened over the weekend? We helped out by taking the older gran-chillins home from the hospital after looking-in on our grandson, making pizza for them, watching a movie (I almost stayed up for the whole thing!) and overall having a good time. We took them to lunch the next day and then back home per their mother’s instructions. Then we went by the hospital to see our little man; delivering a treat to Mom and Dad of some Andy’s ice cream, visited for a little while and headed home.

Did anything unbelievably “profound” happen over the weekend? Not that I noticed. Did Abraham do anything “profound” on a single weekend of his life that carried him through to be the father of many nations? Well, there was the day he faithfully obeyed God and almost sacrificed his son. I’ll give him that as a “profound” act. And, there was the day he tried to save evil Sodom and Gomorrah bargaining with God for His mercy over fifty righteous people, and there weren’t fifty. Then he asked for forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty, ten. We know how that story ended so I’m not chalking that one up to a life-long “changing” win for Abraham. I guess you can say he must have had a heart that was tremendous to go to bat for two cities that were full of wickedness against a Pitcher who always throws a no-hitter–yes, from that perspective he’s tremendous. Yet, neither of these two acts–even combined–held the substance to leave a legacy that still impacts our world and culture today! So, I’m not going to let this weekend of seemingly “non-uber importance” stop me from knowing I made the better “Abraham-like” choice and hopefully several “little” things I did over the weekend helped contribute to the legacy I’ll leave this earth someday.

Ten Best Reasons Why I’m Not Gay

When our culture is giving easy approval to someone struggling with unwanted Same Sex Attraction (SSA)/homosexual desires and many churches are falling in suit too, I feel it is necessary to give my reasons why I made the choice not to identify myself as gay. I must say this has been a very difficult journey with much confusion, frustration, loneliness, isolation, anger, fear; lacking in any amount of peace as I worked through this mine field of pain and suffering. On the flip side of the journey now – peace is overflowing with many other positives that were non-existent when I was struggling.

I write these reasons reflecting back into the time when I struggled and why I did not give in and identify myself as gay. This is from my heart and is not backed by any scientific facts, statistics, etc. That will be a post for another day, but not this day.

My list includes, but is not limited to:

1. I refused to let confusing urges drive my identity.

2. Fear stopped me from “acting out” or “experimenting.”

3. Critical thinking.

4. My faith in God, belief in His Word.

5. My family’s values conflicted with this lifestyle, I would have disappointed them.

6. I liked girls.

7. Homosexual acts were disgusting, I felt dirty after thinking them.

8. Refusal to cave to painful, crushing teasing just to have it stop.

9. Deep inside I could not give up on Jesus’ ability to save and transform me.

10. I got married and did not want to destroy my wife and daughter’s lives by giving in to “urges.”

When I heard anyone discuss homosexuality and flatly state it is was a choice, I would cringe inside. I felt they were saying I was choosing to have these unholy desires and that I wanted to be gay. This was not true. I hated the feelings I had. I had no idea where they came from and certainly did not decide to have them. My heart aches for anyone who is struggling with homosexual feelings and cannot understand them. This truly was a cause of depression, loneliness, isolation, and at the same time the catalyst for putting on masks to cover all this as I certainly did not want anyone to know the “real” me, and hate me. Yes, I really believed I would be hated because almost anyone who talked about homosexuality had so much hate in their words. This, to me, meant they hated me. People say they hate the sin and love the sinner. This is basically impossible for the sinner to hear and believe as the hate, I felt, was lodged at me. The sin was me and I was the sin.

How then did I manage to go decades struggling with these feelings and not act out on them? First, knowing God’s Word clearly spoke to me how it is sin and not acceptable to Him. Second, knowing if He said it is wrong then He had to have some way to help me. God is love. He is real. He would not let me struggle with something that felt like tons of anguish weighing me down forever. I would remember the day in the field behind my home at three years of age when for the first time I knew God was real, in Heaven, all around me, we danced, and He told me we would do great things together. [Note: This is in Part 1 of The Short-The Tall, The Skinny-The All] Yes, these were the most compelling factors that held me back along with basically no opportunity presenting itself. I was a loner with no friends. I’d like to think if a guy would have expressed interest in me I would have said no. Guess it doesn’t matter now. I am very thankful I did not act out as most who struggle with these desires. [NOTE: I am talking about “acting out” on an ongoing basis. There were three times where I did “act out” which I tell about in Part 1 of my story and below.]

When I give the reason of “Critical Thinking” above I certainly do not mean any scientific formula or lab experiment. I stopped to think about what was happening inside myself with these confusing desires. And, what always struck me as strange was, if I got to know a guy I was “jonesin” over, the attraction greatly diminished, or went away totally if I became friends with him, even on a very casual basis. How could this be? If I was truly gay and that was how I was made, then why would the desire fade like this? Yes, I had girls I liked and I would feel that “warm-fuzzy-pukie” titillation and it would go away too, but this was different, I really liked girls. With guys the feeling was more obsessive, desiring something from them that I felt I lacked. Girls didn’t have anything I lacked. Instead, they were an enigma, totally different from me which was a great part of the attraction, smelled good, looked good, walked in ways that made me stare and look like a total dufus, they could be so annoying and yet in ways that drew me to them–basically they drove me crazy, and still do! Today there is one girl who has my undivided focus and she creates all these feelings wrapped up in the most beautiful creature ever to walk the earth!! And, the one who drives me the craziest for lots of reasons and I’d never give her up for a man–that would be CRAZY!

My family was just as dysfunctional as any and we loved each other just as much as any family too. Being the youngest, with my twin sister, of five children there was a lot of fighting. Lots of names were called and I know I called my siblings only names of endearment because I was such a perfect little boy. Not! I learned to have a sharp tongue too and used my speech in ways to protect my feelings from a very young age. I say this but honestly, I don’t remember much of my childhood. [Note: Again, if you want more details on this please read Part 1 referred to above.] So, family values were instilled more from the dinner table, the use of a hair brush on my backside when very young, or laying across on old, backless, pink divan (I loathed that piece of furniture for many reasons with the greatest being the pain from whoopins’ inflicted while upon it…and the color! Think Pepto-Bismol. Yes, it was extremely ugly and I have a stomach ache thinking about it no–please pass the Pepto!) and from church.

When I grew up the word “gay” meant happy, carefree, and I remember using it when in the first year or two of grade school. One day I used “gay” about something and was told not to say it as it was a bad word. I didn’t know what my classmate could mean so I asked? I was told it meant a guy kisses another guy and does other “stuff” that he should do with girls. I was shocked! Why would a guy do this? It seemed crazy to me. And, I went on being a little boy and didn’t give it much more thought until later in grade school when I was called this. Then, I knew it was a horrible word as it sliced my heart and ripped from my mind any confidence I had about myself. I knew it was “dirty” and “bad” so this meant I was dirty and bad. I had never kissed a guy or done “other stuff” so why was I being called this? Because I wasn’t athletic, scared of the other boys in school so I didn’t hang around them, and very effeminate for a boy. I never liked school and was afraid of going each year for weeks and weeks into the year until I finally started to feel comfortable with the teacher, and maybe some of the other kids in the class. I remember wanting to be liked, accepted, to fit in and I never did so school was miserable. I was miserable and very sad. I say this now and I really don’t think I knew I was so sad. Sadness was my constant companion. He was better than no companion.

At some point in my childhood my older brother would call me “homo” but he really wasn’t calling me this. This word was just the new word that had started to be used by all kids in school. I remember a speech by our dad at dinner, prompted by mom as she did not like this word being used, telling us that the Bible called this an “abomination” and my dad saying it was horrible and that he didn’t want us to call each other this again. Well, this of course reinforced the use of it because dad had now told how us how horrible it was so it had all the more power to crush when used. I don’t remember being upset if my brother called me this as it was not the same–he did not really believe that about me. The kids at school using this was totally different. I hated it and had no way to make it stop! The pain was killer, I admit it. It killed my confidence, self-respect, and caused me to really wonder if it was true? This was excruciatingly painful and even though I wondered, deep down I was mad, really furious, and decided I would not be this word, or any other that meant the same, just because I was called it! That’s it. It was a decision made deep inside me and it was done. Now, I see it was one of the best decisions I made as a very young child.

Girls made me lose any intelligence I had from a very young age! Not that there was an extreme about of it to begin with! I remember playing with a few girls on the playground, because I was scared of the boys and my sister asked me to come and play with her and some of her friends. By accident while swinging around a pole by one hand a girl came from the opposite direction and kissed me. Everyone laughed except the two of us. We were both very embarrassed. I hated being laughed at, but…the kiss? I liked it! Of course, I ran off because I didn’t know what else to do. I still remember that kiss and the girl who kissed me. She is still a dear friend after many years and when we get together for lunch that kiss comes up and we laugh about it. I think of it as one of the reasons that helped me to know I was not gay. Confused about my sexuality because I didn’t fit in with the boys, teased unmercifully with words that crush a boy’s confidence in his gender, attracted to what he could not have–friends with other boys–which caused sexual confusion…yes I had to deal with all these feelings and none of them made me gay and still would not today.

As I grew into adolescence and the hormones kicked in, so did misery at a level that no one should undergo. It came upon me like an avalanche from the top of Mt Everest. I often wished an actual avalanche would have covered me as the pain and suffering would have ended after suffocation or freezing to death. This avalanche only paralyzed and burdened me so that I suppressed feelings and isolated myself even more than ever. The attraction to guys was so intense and I had no idea why? Oh how I truly hated myself. We went to church and this was very conflicting. I really enjoyed to worship through music, learning Bible stories of people who suffered and how God rescued them–as I needed a rescuer desperately! I wanted to believe God loved me. But I also felt this wasn’t true because of my uncontrollable feeling about other boys, and yet, I wanted to believe it so bad as then it would mean I was not gay. So, this drove me to know, yet again at a new stage in my development that something was wrong with me and that God would fix me. I prayed constantly and would not give up. It felt like it would never happen. It was a lifetime. I sit here now rejoicing that I never gave up on Him. Jesus did heal me. What caused this healing to take so long? Me! I was in a stronghold of fear, rejection, and bound by a secret that I knew I could never tell or I’d be despised. I prayed, hoped, existed as I had no idea what else to do?

After becoming a young man three incidents happened with other guys and each time I wanted to die as the guilt, shame, dirtiness, filthiness, and feelings I could not even give words to came. I hated these feelings and they were not worth the minuscule in comparison of physical pleasure. So, I set in my heart these acts could not happen again. I did not care how strong the desires or urges. They were wrong or else they would not have created such intense damaging and destructive emotions. I prayed and prayed for God to bring me a wife. I wanted to be a family man and become a dad someday. This would change me. I held out and God answered my prayer. He gave me a wife and two daughters all in one package! This answer to my continued prayer was greater than any way I could have imagined!! I was happy for the first time in my life. And, I had three more reasons to hold out for God’s healing, His transformation to change the desires of my heart as I knew I’d lose these people if they knew my deep dark secret. So, I kept it longer. I kept it so long and wore so many masks that this secret became my best friend when sadness left me after getting married. Problem was, sadness doesn’t leave and stay gone. No, he wanted to come back as he wanted my heart and mind and…I let him back in.

Yes, these are my reasons that I clung to to keep me from going insane and making a decision that I believe would have killed me, becoming gay. I did not know then that a horrific tragedy would come into my life years in the future that God would use to bring me the healing I longed for–more than oxygen. I just knew I was not gay and He would save me from this, someday. That was enough. I struggled greatly and failed sinning in so many ways with this beast inside me. Yet, I did not succumb and Jesus was with me the whole time loving and protecting me. His promises are always stronger than the greatest grade of steel and more valuable the purest of gold, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Heb 13:5. And, He never did and He never will! I hesitate to use the word “never” as it is the word most likely to bite me in the backside.. except with God. God is always good for His Word.

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