Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Scars of Combat

If you have scars, then you have evidence of living out loud.  Unfortunately, the scar remains long after the experience is over.    

Perhaps it is a mark of defeat.  You were in a battle – either physically or mentally or morally, yet the scar remains.  All scars are not visible to the human eye nor to x-ray. 

Marriages and divorces sometimes leave us with scars.
As do parents and siblings and the ill treatment we receive at their hands.
Harsh words leave their mark.
Even religion can scar us.

The focus of this message today is on emotional scarring and what we do with that.

This is an important topic, and a heavy one.  I’m chewing on something that is bigger than me, yet here we go. 

For physical scars, seek professional help.  Cosmetic surgery is only one of many avenues for this. 

For emotional scars, bring them to the one who finds beauty in our scars.  HE (GOD) loves us in spite of the scars and mars in our lives.  As Brennan Manning says, “God loves us as we are, not as we should be.”

My next words are hopefully words of hope and comfort from the scriptures.

-Cast all your cares on HIM, 
for HE cares for you.”  
(I Peter 5:7)

He heals the broken hearted, and binds up their wounds.  
(Psalm 147:3)

(Isaiah 41:10):   
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9 we find this:  
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

This I know … the past is irreversible.  A great writer from days gone by says this about that: 

 Leave the broken, irreversible past 
in God’s hands, and step out into 
the invincible future with Him.  
(Oswald Chambers 
My Utmost for His Highest)

And from a contemporary writer we find …
Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be in your darkest days – when
your heart is broken, when you feel abandoned, when you’re out of options, when the pain is great – and you turn to God alone.

(Rick Warren)

And now this ... you may need to seek professional help for your scars and mars. Sometimes we cannot self-heal no matter how many positive thoughts we express nor how many scriptures we recite and pray over.

Good and trusted professional counselors and spiritual leaders could be your best source. Do your research and find the professionals to whom you can turn for the healing you seek.

The scars may never completely go away ... however ... they could, in time, be a marker to say, "Look where I was and look where I am now."

Oh, what a great day that will be!

Offering Words of
Hope Encouragement
One Word at a Time

Thursday, April 20, 2017

God's Arms Are Open to You

When our family gathers for any occasion – ANY time, upon first seeing each one, our arms open, we hug, we embrace.  I love that.  And sometimes, we embrace two or three times. 

In the bosom of family – we are loved and cared for, trusted and trusting, safe and secure.  We are so welcomed that we settle into the love that surrounds us with great ease.  

And so it is with God.  His arms are open to us
– welcoming, comforting, embracing, warming and healing our hurts and wounds. 

And if this kind of embracing God is foreign to you, what then? 

I’ll borrow from a favorite book.  If you are in need of forgiveness, of God’s embrace, perhaps “what blocks forgiveness is not God’s reticence but ours.  God’s arms are always extended.  We are the ones who turn away.”
(Philip Yancey – What’s So Amazing about Grace)

And why would we turn away from an embrace that stretches wide to receive us?  Only one word comes to mind – pride. 

And following quickly on the heels of pride – shame, remorse, regret, guilt.

And we start the conversation within ourselves …

“I’m not worthy of that kind of embrace.”
“You don’t know everything about me – where I’ve been, what I’ve done.”
“But I’m dirty inside.”
“The stink clings to me of the places I’ve been, the activities in which I’ve engaged.”

And the arms are still open.
The welcome mat is still in place.
The door is wide open.

Step through.

You see, He offers the invitation. 
We choose to accept it or not.

God will not come and drag you in.  You come willingly.

He already knows where, when, how, how many, how much, with whom, and any other descriptor you might add. 


He still opens His arms ready to receive you.  How great is that?

Listen to His words …

“Come to me all who are weary and bear heavy loads.  I will give you rest.  Take on my ways, learn about me; settle into the rhythm of grace that I offer.  I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.”  
(Matthew 11:28-30 – paraphrase based on The Message)

And perhaps we say to ourselves … can I trust Him?  This sounds too fantastical, too made-up, too juicy. 

And yet the invitation remains.
The arms are still outstretched.
The voice calls to us.

Come to me!

Offering Words of
Hope Encouragement
One Word at a Time