Category Archives: Identity

Memories: Changing the Cycle of Pain and Automatic Reactions

Sometimes we hold ourselves back from certain people, places, dates and times, experiences and other aspects of life because of a painful or traumatic memory.

Unconscious intrusive triggers might inhibit us from participating in good aspects of life because we get hung up on the somatic (physical) and psychological (mental) effects of remembering. We don’t want a repeat of a painful “last time,” and try to avoid such occurrences. Such memory recall often triggers episodes of reliving an experience adding to and even reinforcing the negative experiences we had.  THis may also act as a reinforcer unhelpful belief patterns. When this occurs, PAIN becomes our counsellor, and even sometimes, our governor. What can we do? 

One thing you often can do is to overwrite an old memory by making a new memory with the present opportunity you have. We are constantly overwriting old memories with new material unconsciously. We can consciously do so too with some intention and belief it is possible. Hope is a strong motivator.

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The Brain is powerful in the cognitive function of plasticity. Scientists used to believe that memory was hardwired and once formed, permanent. However, since then it has been discovered through neuroscience and cognitive psychology that each time we recall a memory, it changes in subtle ways. We unconsciously edit a memory with minute subtractions and additions, and the memory becomes re-consolidated (reconstructed and saved) in a new way. 

This is in part why some parts of memory stand out more than others, some parts fade, others increase in intensity and quality, and sometimes other people’s recall of a same event is different than our own. Occasionally our minds even fill in the blanks with color or other details we have forgotten, aren’t true or didn’t actually occur. E.g. “I could swear that motorcycle Joe had was red, not blue.” 

Particularly salient parts of memory are more likely to stand out and last longer. However, even memories of traumatic events such as 9-11, are, and can be, edited as we remember them. An interesting area of study on salient events involves eye-witness cases, which have high inconsistencies and are now considered as somewhat unreliable evidence in courts of law. We can embellish memories or micro-delete aspects unconsciously or by deliberate choice. Memory is influenced by numerous variables and is an interesting study on its own.

This fact also means we be active in choosing how we want to remember by reconstructing a memory association.  I am not advocating telling ourselves lies or myths to cope. This is what I do mean…

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Memory works strongly with associations such as taste, smell, touch, sight, sound, and other senses such as feelings/emotions. E.g. people may forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how they felt when you said it.

I rephrased this popular saying because, regarding emotions (which differ from our physical yet are interconnected) we have power and responsibility in part for our feelings and how we manage or act on them even when another is an initiator of negative events. We may be on a learning curve on how to do this, but ultimately, its within our power to decide how we will allow things effect us long term, and what we will do to begin the process and fulfillment of healing.

When pain and fear anchor as primary emotions in our memory consolidation process, it can create a reinforcement cycle of the memory like a well worn path. Further, painful social situations activate the same nerve and brain areas as physical pain does. This is why we experience heartache as a physical pain, or get pain symptoms in various parts of our bodies (soma-symptoms). However our bodies can learn to release trauma and pain from soma and muscle memory as well.

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dendrites flickr.com

We usually have understanding of the problem of our pain, but are often uncertain how to get our minds out of memory holding patterns. This pattern is what needs changed to heal. By the same principle of the well worn path, a pathway barely used becomes overgrown. In the case of brain patterns and memory, when dendrites and synapses (our brain’s tree branches and leaves, or highways and intersections) are not in frequent use, the brain prunes our memory tree, closes road.

Then as we learn or adapt our thinking, it regrows new branches or paves new roads or adds an overpass, which function differently.  This principle of use and disuse is quite noticeable in things like second languages, directions, or placing a name to a face.

We don’t have to revisit every painful memory for this to happen, like scientists and therapists used to believe. We can actively make new memories in place of the old. It is like overwriting old code. This removes old triggering associations, by creating new ones.

This memory flexibility and resilience underlies certain professional psychological treatments for trauma, phobias, and general cognitive restructuring. The brain gets rewired as to what our focus is on, connects to new associations, forming patterns in our memory, which then re-consolidates into a new framework, or schema. Thus we can remember events or other things without pain or triggers when this change occurs.

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What we focus on expands and magnifies.

 If you find certain places, people, objects etc are triggers for you, you might want to give making new memory associations a chance. It may not happen the first time you try, you may feel very uncomfortable at first. It may even feel worse to begin with, but with persistence and support from others, the memories, experiences,  relationships, etcetera that you want to keep but with new healthy associations, can happen for you. I have shared this concept with personal friends and have started receiving good feedback about its affects.

In reality, we don’t ‘unlearn’ things- we learn again- the overwriting aspect. This plasticity is also a mechanic of the spiritual reality of renewing our minds to truth, and shifting belief patterns. You can be free of negative past associations. Let’s get creative.

*Not every memory is one we want to keep; some we are better off losing completely– I don’t mean repression. Depending on the severity of trauma and our personal experiences, this type of overwriting may work great without other’s involvement, or, people may find they need assistance in this process, whether a friend, counsellor, or by supernatural means.

For those of you whose hope has been crushed by being told you have a disorder that can’t be healed, only managed, I encourage you to seek counsel and wholeness through Jesus our Healer. The greatest helper, Jesus Christ, is the master physician and counselor for memories that have crushed one’s spirit. I, and, many others can personally attest to His healing power and loving process to heal memories.

For further interest, this book was recommended to me by my oversight (a practicing psychiatrist) in my undergrad course Abnormal Psychology  regarding my course project: investigating  DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) and Depersonalization–Derealization Disorder (DDD–which is in fact more common than generally realized by practitioners). For those who like a little more scientific info, or wonder about the mechanics of how focus affects any number of our systems including spiritual focus see:

New York Times Bestseller, FOCUS: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, by Daniel Goleman.

 

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The Hall of Justice: ordering, judging, cursing  

There’s a still a great deal of talk about the Courts of Heaven in some church circles. To be honest I hadn’t engaged into this newer church trend for a couple of reasons. One being my unfolding understanding of the work of Christ and the function of the believer in the new covenant. I’m not knocking other’s understanding or revelation about such matters, because there are a number of views on it, some with truth and others bordering on new age or rabbit trails. However, I have noticed a general theme as I’ve paid attention and investigated these teachings. This particular aspect is addressed in the following.

The frequently quoted basis of going to the courts of heaven is Matthew 5:25; “Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are with him in the way; lest perhaps the prosecutor deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be cast into prison.” WEB

One of the basic concepts of this teaching seems to be: when the devil confronts you with your failings, its best to agree with him before you get reach the judge (to avoid judgment), or just agree because you both know the accusation is true and he’s going to hammer your conscience until you admit your failing. Then he’ll gloat before the judge and do his best to see you imprisoned. Ready on your defense is your advocate and lawyer Jesus, and the Father holds the gavel.The end goal is freedom.

This agreement between two is true in its proper context. The context here is in reference to disputes between people–not with the devil. Agreeing with him could lead to all kinds of deception. It’s wisdom to try to come to an mutual agreement with someone who has a dispute with you- before it becomes entangled into a legal matter in the earthly courts. What you don’t know can hurt you- see Hosea 4.6 Misunderstanding this scripture’s context seems to have a number of people agreeing with the devil and feeling like they are being drug to or needing to go to heaven’s courts over it.

(See Zechariah 3:1-10 and Job 29: 14 for OT dealings with law and devil accusations)

Here’s what I’ve come to understand. In the new testament, Revelations 12:9-10 says that the accuser and those who joined satan in anarchy  have been cast down from the heavens to the lower airways and earth realm. He no longer is entertained in heaven due to my trespasses. God has clothed me in His own righteousness and I have been justified by Him. Therefore, when it comes to the accuser I turn a deaf ear because he no longer has any input as to my standing before the Lord, nor any space between The Lord and I. That space is now occupied by the fiery Love of God’s indwelling. We are joined as one spirit.

If I need correction or conviction- it is going to come through Holy spirit ‘convicting’ me to my righteousness, new nature, and through love, not by a created, fallen angel who left his post and function of being a covering protector  (note the function of a cherubim, of which he was beforehand).  These fallen beings get no opportunity to accuse me when I understand I have an intercessor who in a continuous manner declares me justified, the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, and free from accusation  and condemnation from satan and his cronies. He gets no part of the conversations. Neither does he get the same awe and equality of standing that Jesus has, before the Father, nor us.  He was conquered and paraded, stripped of any authority he had vicariously gained. “No place was found for them (him or his minions) in heaven…” Revelations 12.8

I do not entertain him, his input, etc. He was a liar from the beginning, his native tongue is lying–why would I agree with him at all? Even when he can manage to say something factual, it has a twist in it because he became twisted through his vanity and power seeking.

In fact, the tables have turned. Now through Jesus, I’m a judge. This is what I was reminded of in a time of prayer. I could see (as in a vision) a walkway that I was traveling on which eventually led me to the steps of a court building, yet it was obviously not completely earthly–it had the appearance of two realms overlaid- heaven and earth. Given my present knowledge about my standing in Christ, I was surprised. I asked Holy Spirit what is this place? Hall of Justice. I wondered at it; why I would He show me this? As I thought about it more I began to realize that He was reminding me of a function of believers–to see earth look like heaven through enacting the dominion and authority that was returned to us through Jesus.

I had gotten to a place of feeling like next to nothing I was saying or doing was affecting power to change things. It’s been a couple of years of heavy stuff and being in a university program that demanded a lot of time, focus and effort. Sadly I had let that diminish time I spent in The Lord’s presence and had lost focus on my ability, responsibility and purpose to judge (affect change) aspects of this realm. Paul says do you not realize we (those united with Jesus) will judge the world and judge angels, I was being reminded to believe in the authority and dominion through Jesus, not judge by sight or senses of how things seemed.

We are given authority to forbid and allow, to uproot and plant, but we must use intent as we speak and pray. We are given the ability to create order and arrange things in this world from a position of authority and dominion. We are also given the ability to curse-to cause to recoil- things that do not belong, such as disease.

I had forgotten the the power and purpose of when He’d said, through a visiting prophet, I am a Deborah. She was a judge, a counselor, mother, warrior and more. Deborah or devorah means in part to order and arrange. We decide what we will allow or forbid in our world. God gave the job of managing the earth and ordering to us, his children. We are responsible for causing the earth and all that is in it to be as it is in heaven, and He partners with us to cause it to be so.

All of creation groans for the revealing of the sons of God acting in full maturity, loosing it from its subjugation and pains. Our judging, ordering, or cursing is all for the purpose of liberation and good- when we see something out of place, we speak a judgement and a reordering of how it should be. Life and death are in the power of the tongue (intent, words and voice), therefore we need to have a right heart attitude and take responsibility for what we speak or enact. This comes through practice and maturing. We can also judge out of a wrong spirit and add to the havoc in lives in a unintended or wrong manner. It takes maturity to judge correctly, yet we are entrusted with this responsibility.

Looking at scripture, we can see we don’t need to agree with the devil/satan (adversary), In fact we might seriously want to rethink that practice. We do need to agree with God about our standing, identity and all things. I’m convinced through the scriptures and through people’s experiences that agreeing with the devil simply gives opportunity for a foothold to be gained in one’s conscience by the adversary. He’s wily and looking for ways to input into our lives and bring condemnation.

We can simply trust the Word and works of Jesus that remove the input of that adversary from our lives and turn the tables so we are the ones directing and subduing, not submitting to input from fallen beings we shouldn’t be heeding. Let’s agree with God, for His mercy triumphs over judgement and He has promised to correct us as His children, in love and compassion. Take up your place as a son (daughter), priest and king– turn the tables and make things –as above, so below–

Devorah: the judge, counselor, mother, and proclaimer of victory.

 

Are Those Joined to Jesus “Prone” to sin? “Prone” to Wander?

Prone: Predisposed. Likely to or liable to suffer from, do, or experience something, typically something regrettable or unwelcome. (Google)

Sin: To fall shy of the perfect and complete; to act apart from the original union, holiness and glory God created us to dwell in with Him.

Worship lyrics, spiritual teaching, preaching…I frequently hear a theme within these, in somewhat varied presentations, that we are prone to sin, prone to wander away from the Lord. I understand the sentiment. It seems humble…admitting our need for God.

Yet, is this proneness to sin and wander theme doctrinally and biblically sound truth for new covenant believers in Jesus? Or a misguided trope that weakens the conscience of believers and causes a sense of vulnerability to sin and a falling away?

Let’s look at just a few verses.

2 Corinthians 5:14-17 Weust version For the love which Christ has [for me] presses on me from all sides, holding me to one end and prohibiting me from considering any other, wrapping itself around me in tenderness, giving me an impelling motive, having brought me to this conclusion, namely, that One died on behalf of all in order that those who are living no longer are living for themselves but for the One who died on their behalf and instead of them, and was raised.

So that, as for us, from this particular time onward, not even one individual do we know as judged upon the basis of human standard. Even though we [Paul in his unsaved state] have known Christ as judged by human standard, yet now no longer do we know Him as such. So that, assuming that anyone is in Christ, he is a creation new in quality. The antiquated, out-of-date things [which do not belong to the new life in Christ Jesus] have passed away. Behold, all things have become new in quality.

This scripture reveals that our whole person is radically changed when we join ourselves to Jesus, the Christ. Our nature becomes new, the old ways have died, and like dead, injured flesh, has been cut, and cast away.

When we have only partial understanding about being unified with Jesus, we may think because we are tempted, or because we still have old habits, that we have a dual nature. I’m convinced this skewed belief is what keeps many from walking as new beings.

Many people think Romans chapter seven explains that we have a dual nature, but Paul is truly talking there about his old nature, not the new. This is why reading on to Romans 8-the redemptive chapter- is so necessary.

For instance, if in receiving Jesus Christ we continued in an old nature, Christ’s work is, at least partially, in vain. Or, if we were given a new nature, but retained the old nature as well (dual nature), then we would live in limbo-sinning one time, and standing strong resisting sin another. Though this may seem to be our experience, and a dual nature is often taught as being true, it is not accurate either.

If we believe, after joining ourselves to Christ that our whole nature hasn’t changed, then we will likely believe that we have no power over sin, that we can’t help but sin, that it’s normal to sin, and expect to sin. This belief acts as type of self-fulfilling prophecy, by which we might then fall into a cycle of false profession, and confession of habitual sins.

The old nature is prone to sin; the new nature is not.

Are we still able to sin? Unfortunately-yes. I’m not proposing we are all completely sinless, but that we will sin less. Just as Adam & Eve were created pure, and good, and had ability to choose, we also have this ability (power) to choose now, to sin, or not sin, having died to sin and being raised again as a new being. Reborn or born again.

Our new and present reality is greater than what Adam and Eve knew, having been made living souls of and in the earth; the new birth conjoins us to Jesus, the life giving spirit, and seats us with Him above all things. (See 1Corinthians 15:45, Ephesians 2:4-10.)

Paul shares the antithesis to a cycle of sin in Romans 8.

Romans 8:1-4 Therefore, now, there is not even one bit of condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the Spirit, that of the life in Christ Jesus, freed you once for all from the law of the sinful nature and of death. For that which is an impossibility for the law, because it was weak through the sinful nature, God having sent His Son in likeness of flesh of sin, and concerning sin, condemned sin in the sinful nature, in order that the righteous requirement of the law may be brought to completion in us who, not as dominated by the sinful nature are ordering our behavior but as dominated by the Spirit.

In Jesus, we have been given a new nature in place of the old. This means we are no longer “sinners.” It is no longer our nature to sin. We have been transformed into a new identity- partaking of the very nature of God Himself. We are living, Being, in the dominion and power of the Holy Spirit, our own spirit made right(eous). If this is true, why does sin still seem to be a problem? And why do so many struggle greatly with sin patterns?

Most of us have yet to grasp the full reality of the work of Jesus and what it literally means to us and our transformation. This realization is continuously unfolding in our understanding.

We are called to renew our mind (restructure our thinking) to the truth of what Jesus has done for us and the righteousness, holiness and justification He’s placed us into by our faith in Him. By agreeing with Him, about ourselves, our mind, beliefs and ways begin to change into His likeness; as the image in a mirror. When Christ is fully formed in us, we look like Him. Like twins.

Romans 6:18+ And having been set free once for all from the sinful nature, you were constituted slaves to righteousness…But now, having been set free from the sinful nature and having been made bondslaves of God, you are having your fruit resulting in holiness, and the consummation, life eternal.

Galatians 5:22-25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfullness, meekness, self-control. Against such things as these there is no law. And they who belong to Christ Jesus crucified the evil nature with its dispositions and cravings once for all. In view of the fact that we are being sustained in spiritual life by the Spirit, by means of the Spirit let us go on ordering our conduct.

2 Corinthians 3: 12-18 Now, as for us, we all, with uncovered face, reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are having our outward expressions changed into the same image from one degree of glory to another according as this change of expression proceeds from the Lord, the Spirit, this outward expression coming from and being truly representative of our Lord.

Examining these verses and many verses like them, we see that though it’s true we were once prone to sin, weakness, rage, lust, deceit etc., in the old nature, but we are now new and prone to righteousness via our new nature-God’s nature! Our spirit DNA that was fallen, has be upgraded, once we join in union with Jesus. We become one–one spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:17.

What then, happens when we do sin?

Romans 8:27 Moreover, He who is constantly searching our hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because, according to God, He continually makes intercession on behalf of the saints.

What does this mean?

Jesus (and through his blood and body) is continuously active, present on our behalf, intervening to make us continually clean and righteous before Him. And, the Holy Spirit of God, makes us conscious of righteousness and holiness, drawing us to that mindfulness.

Hebrews 10:21-23…and having a Priest, a Great One, over the house of God, let us keep on drawing near with a genuinely true heart in full assurance of faith, having had our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and having had our body washed with pure water.

1 John 1:7 But if within the sphere of the light we are habitually ordering our behavior as He himself is in the light, things in common and thus fellowship we [the believer and God] are having with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son keeps continually cleansing us from every sin.

1 John 2:1 My little children [born-ones, bairns], these things I am writing to you in order that you may not commit an act of sin. And if anyone commits an act of sin, One who pleads our cause we constantly have facing the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One.

In truth, He is focussing on our new nature now; whether we are being corrected or celebrated, He is drawing attention to our new nature, not the old (it’s dead). Since His focus is on the new, our’s ought to be too. God is not stuck in sin consciousness and neither should we be. We are to be love, righteousness, and holiness focused. What we focus on amplifies and expands.

It it also necessary to understand, that if we say and believe we are unified with Jesus, then our overall actions will become a proof of this union. We will not want to do the things that seemed natural when we lived in an old nature. We will desire and delight to live out of our new nature.

Though for a time, while we are growing up out of our newborn birth, the old nature may still seem familiar, yet, eventually the more intimate we grow with God, and the more we renew our minds to the truth, the old will seem foreign and unusual, so that IF we sin (not when), we will want to change our stance immediately and turn back to moving out of our new nature, which affects peace and joy.

Gods grace empowers us to say, “No,”to sin (Titus 2:12). People who keep on deliberately living the same old way as before, have not understood the reality of joining to Jesus.

John 14:20-21 In that day you shall know experientially that I am in my Father and you in me and I in you. He who has my commandments and habitually keeps them, that one is he who is loving me with a divine and self-sacrificial love. And he who is loving me thus, shall be loved with this same kind of love by my Father, and I shall love him with a divine and self-sacrificial love, and I shall disclose myself to him.

1 John 2:6 He who is constantly saying that he as a habit of life is living in close fellowship with dependence upon Him is morally obligated just as that One conducted himself, also himself in the manner spoken of to be conducting himself.

This action isn’t gritting our teeth, in self effort and reliance. The Holy Spirit, our helper, partners with us and compels our hearts and minds to act and Be in our new nature. In time, experientially as well as literally, it doesn’t become second nature to us, but First nature.

1Corinthians 2:9-12 But as for us, not the spirit of the world system did we receive but the Spirit who is of God in order that we might come to know the things which by God have been in grace bestowed upon us, which things also we put into words, not in words taught by human philosophy but in words taught by the Spirit, fitly joining together Spirit-revealed truths with Spirit-taught words.

Romans 8:26+ But if that which we do not see, we hope for, through patience we expectantly wait for it. And in like manner also the Spirit lends us a helping hand with reference to our weakness, for the particular thing that we should pray for according to what is necessary in the nature of the case, we do not know with an absolute knowledge; but the Spirit himself comes to our rescue by interceding with unutterable groanings.

Moreover, He who is constantly searching our hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because, according to God, He continually makes intercession on behalf of the saints. And we know with an absolute knowledge that for those who are loving God, all things are working together resulting in good, for those who are divinely-summoned ones according to His purpose.

By examining the inspired scriptures we can be assured that we no longer have a sin nature, nor a dual nature if we have been joined to God. The old died and was cut away. Upon our union of spirit and new birth (reborn/born again) and have a new nature, the nature of God.

We are also given the Holy Spirit who teaches and empowers us how to live out of it, and to reject past sinful ways. If we do sin, we can come to Him, dialogue about how we and others have been effected, and know that He faithfully cleanses us, including our conscience.

Go on out there with Godfidence! You are Prone to the persuasion of God’s Spirit and your new nature in Christ Jesus, not to sin or wandering. Check out the books of Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Hebrews, and 1rst 2nd & 3rd books of John for more clarity. Study it out and see for yourself.

*If you stumbled on this post, and have not made your peace and union with God, through Jesus Christ, the invitation to do so is open for every single person. He’s waiting to make you new- into a son, daughter, new being- just reach out to him from your heart. He hears and He rushes to you.

Please let me know if you’ve made this choice and/or if you feel you need further understanding or help: connect at liifetree12@gmail.com

Unmarked photos–Photo credits to Panoramio.com and mzayat.com respectively.

PEOPLE WHO HOLD SPACE WILL HEAL THE CHURCH

I love this- may we all be so…

When I married my husband, he’d just cut off his dreads and was an avid rock climber. He married me– a girl from a small town, comfortable in everything that I knew, in everything that I’d been and was going to be.
As Johnny Cash says, we got married in a fever, and before we knew exactly what we’d done, we were home from our honeymoon, beginning the long journey toward figuring out who we were–together.
When he married me, he loved who I was, but also saw who I could one day become, and he held that vision steady. And it wasn’t a vision for what he thought I was supposed to be, but a vision still unknown to him, held by the mystery of God…continued below

Source: PEOPLE WHO HOLD SPACE WILL HEAL THE CHURCH

Attraction, Authority, and Leadership  

Attraction, Authority, and Leadership

Part 4 of Secret Longings, Confusing Feelings & Paths to Healing

It was a confession that sparked this sexuality miniseries. This was the catalyst, a misunderstanding of attraction was crushing a life, and one conversation unlocked the door to freedom…     James 5: 16; Hebrews 12:15-16     (Note: embedded green links lead to more info)

Scenario
A person finds they’re attracted to a leader; a leader finds they’re attracted to one they oversee. It’s not deliberate, and one or neither, is unattached.

When such an “accidental” attraction occurs, the experience is likely to draw the involved parties into any number of reactions. Here are  four common ones:

1) a superlative leap of assumption that the issue is immediately identifiable as _____. (often lust, including for females)

2) an attempt to endure a secret torment, trying to understand how to shut down the sense of attraction, while simultaneously trying to maintain the relationship in a proper manner.

3) sabotage of the relationship due to the conflict, abdicate position or function, isolating in the process.

4) engage in an emotional and/or physical affair.

Listening to the self-despising cries of confessors who have dared to risk feeling vulnerable enough to disclose their heart sickening secret, I’ve realized we don’t often think to stop and ask ourselves the right questions. Rather people engage in all kinds of judgments–self and otherwise–and may misinterpret the situation. Feeling stuck, and perhaps ashamed, many self-incriminate and further entrench themselves through secrecy.

Whatever is hidden cannot heal. What ever is exposed can be healed. (Hosea 7:7)

The Origin of the Attraction
So what about lust? Maybe, but even if lust is a part of the issue it isn’t the whole of it. Lust alone is not usually the reason people find themselves in an ‘accidental attraction,’ even though it’s often the first causation they may identify.

People tend to compartmentalize many things. It seems that if we can identify anything at all with a label, we will name it, blame it and conclude it the end of a matter; (self) judgement served.

However, the problem we may first identify is seldom the real issue that needs discovery.

For example some people will identify with having an “anger problem”. “I get so mad I can’t control it.” In this case, the real problem may be an issue of self-control, or fear. Related, when an inappropriate attraction activates one’s conscience, a sense of lust may only be a signifier of something more covert. When one’s conscience is triggered, it functions as an alert of being in a position of choice (a way out). We are created with a governance code written into the essence of our beings, and when we are in a position of choice which might violate our conscience, or has, we receive notice. Some experience this as a sense of guilt, fear, or conviction (much may influence how individuals experience this notification; more on that in the next post).

We are tri-part beings. Along with our spirit, our minds and our physiology work in unison  (psychosexually & psychosocially). Does a thought cause a physical response? Does a physiological response cause a thought? What is really happening?  As we go through developmental phases all our parts intertwine and work together; for better or worse. At each stage our mind develops memories in conjunction with emotions and physiological responses. As psychologists and neurologists are fond of saying,

What fires together wires together.

When these connections happen in an appropriate way, time and place, healthy bonds and unions are created in a experiential, purposed design. Sometimes though, connections occur in confusing ways and can cause us to respond in a manner that we don’t understand.

These unsolicited experiences can trigger either avoidance or engagement. The contexts of such experiences matter. The conclusions we draw are crucial to our outcomes.

Often an attraction develops within a power imbalance relationship. For example, people who have been sexually abused or taken advantage of, even through suggestion, are likely to encounter confusing experiences again later in life, especially with someone they see as an authority figure or a leader. Why? 

Something got cross-wired back a ways and now the connections are firing at an inappropriate time and place.  Research shows a physiological response does not have to be premeditated or conscious to occur. Without recognizing that a misfire is occurring, and that it can be rewired, people often panic, wrestle inwardly, or perhaps fall into an emotional or physical adulterous affair.

Other people may get inappropriately involved trying to fulfill a genuine need in a ‘confused’ manner. Take for instance the young woman experiencing confusion about her identity and developing sexuality; a married leader invests in her spiritual growth which she interprets as attraction. Maybe she has “daddy” wounds (or has been abused) and the person in leadership that she looks to for guidance unexpectedly erupts all types of confusing feelings and thoughts.

If she doesn’t express them she’ll likely not resolve them, repeating a cycle of vulnerability, and if she does express them, she may be judged, rejected, or used. What’s a girl to do? She needs the leader to be strong and wise, to separate the precious from the common, but noticing her reactions, he may have changed focus himself.

What’s a leader to do? Everyone has their kryptonite don’t they? Perhaps he’s become dissatisfied in his marriage, maybe there’s not much intimacy left and he has needs; Western culture tends to be needs driven. Or perhaps it’s more of an identity issue for him–fulfilling an emotional aspect, and receiving the attention makes him feel appreciated again or masculine. Thoughts come, physiology responds, the struggle begins.

Who can he confide in? Maybe the first person he should confide in is the last person he feels he can– his wife.

Perhaps his wife has her own identity issues, trying to understand her own inhibitions; maybe she even did everything right, saving herself for the wedding night. She should be free to love, but the restrictive hard wiring that shaped her growing up paradoxically short circuits her “drive” and how she feels about herself, and truthfully, she is just as disappointed as he. But, maybe her leader/boss seems more understanding than her husband and she finds herself emotionally involved. The nuances are subtle and deceptive; people become collateral damage.

These types of scenarios may sometimes involve what some call Transference or Counter-transference, old concepts in counseling relationships.

Basically, transference occurs when something of one’s past is re-experienced in a non-conscious way, and the associated feelings and attributions are projected into a present relationship with an authority figure or someone who reminds them of the person from their past. For some people, a caring encounter with a leader or authority figure may be one of the few times in their life they have experienced a genuine and proper relationship, which may feel confusing. In reverse, a person in a role of authority or power projects their experiences onto someone who is in a dependent role (counter-transference).

Unaddressed, this distorted relationship interference may become a clash of emotional reactions without much reason involved; thus being aware of such possibilities and discerning such vulnerabilities may make the difference.

A further type of relational confusion may be related to a good kind of desire. One time when my dad was doing a controlled burn on the farm, I realized I couldn’t see any fire as the burning was occurring along the roots underground; but there was a lot of smoke. As I gazed into the smoke trying to picture the fire burning beneath, Holy Spirit began to express the confusion people experience in attraction to leadership (or reverse) is often due to confusing Godly desire with male-female (or other) attraction. As odd as it may sound, people genuinely perceive the fire and smoke of the Spirit of God dwelling within another (the temple: body, soul, spirit), yet mistake it for attraction to the person, because their discernment is off. The presence of God is truly attractive, Jesus is the desire of nations. With proper understanding, a person will draw closer to God, recognizing it’s Him they are attracted to–sometimes a person simply needs some gentle redirection.

As a last, but not exhaustive, common scenario: “something wicked this way comes”. Many years ago I sat across from a pastor who brought up another church member in conversation. He confided, rather unexpectedly, his wish that she would allow him more access to her inner world: he “only wanted to be a Father to her, he saw her as a daughter.” I had no reason to disbelieve him except, I knew by the Holy Spirit in that instant that this was not the true desire this man had for this woman. However, I didn’t yet know how to use such prophetic knowledge and approach him about it–nor was I sure he even realized the true nature of his confession.

So instead of empathetically confronting him in that moment, I went home and prayed with compassionate understanding. Although I couldn’t bring myself to confront the pastor (truthfully, I wasn’t sure it was my place to confront and I was also afraid of his reaction), I eventually did share with the woman (who had no knowledge of his inclinations at the time nor interest in him in that manner) and she confirmed that he had confessed it to her at some point with a witness present; and the relationship was corrected.

Unfortunately, not before there was a rippling fallout within the church, because in this situation there was more at work than one man’s confusion in trying to meet his needs or experiencing counter-transference. It became evident as more and more marriages began to experience tensions and rifts as pastoral advisement began to include suggestions of separation, and other poor counsel.

Men began to suspect something amiss, have their authority challenged or usurped and feel emasculated. Too many stories were coming out to be coincidence. It got rather ugly. Some call it Jezebel (Rev 2:20) or by other names, but when it shows up, you know it. This “thing” took advantage of weak areas of the pastor and the people. And I deeply regretted my choice to stay silent.

In this case, by not speaking to the pastor, I had allowed the influences of this spirit to cause lot of damage I only became fully aware of later. This could have been avoided if I had accepted responsibility and direction from the Holy Spirit who was prompting me to take courage and act in a preventive manner; to function as a type of gatekeeper. Every person has a functional purpose in the body of Christ. It’s His permission we have to function for the good of all members.

Love Confronts–gently, humbly and with mercy. We may not appreciate such confrontations in the moment, but it’s  proof of being loved (Hebrews 12). We all need people who will love us in such a way. It’s His Kindness that leads us to repentance.(a change of mind and direction,  see link below for more clarity)

Repentance is a Gift

 Prophetic Function

A word of wisdom to those inexperienced in prophetic function: There are times we will be required, through obedience to the Lord, to sacrifice our sense of “self preservation” to protect other people. We need to be willing to take some risks of obedience and be willing to own the process. It may be uncomfortable, but it’s worth it as we may not be privy to, or realize what is at stake until later. This doesn’t guarantee people will listen, but you will have done your part, and God will teach and restore you for any troubles that may come of it.

Another hesitancy people may face is having something in their own past they feel disqualifies them for being a messenger or to intervene in a same/similar situation–but think about it…the best person for such a role could be someone who can identify, who knows the ins and outs of a matter and will come with a humble, wise and understanding heart. Luke 7:47 …her sins, many, are forgiven her–because she has loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little…   The scarred ones become the healers.

Finally and equally important, there may be situations that God reveals but does ask you to be silent and pray only. Knowing which action is the correct one requires sensitivity to Holy Spirit. If you’re really unsure which it is, confer with someone who is seasoned in prophetic function– you can give a scenario, you don’t have to spill the whole thing with names if you’re questioning your information or senses. If you make a mistake, learn from it and move on; don’t allow yourself to shut down and stop functioning prophetically over a mistake. Abandoning your function helps no one, and gives opportunity for other harmful things to occur.

What’s the difference? And what to do?     

Some people, due to their past experiences, age, social or economic position, have a created confusion within them to the point they aren’t sure what to do and end up involved to some degree. It may not even be what they want, but they are as a city broken down, without walls ~Proverbs 25: 28~ e.g. no sense of self-autonomy or self-control; and there are those who will misuse or abuse their positions of power to the detriment of others. People in this situation will need third party involvement to help them get disentangled.

Still others enter a crisis of conscience and do all they know to end the issue (real or misinterpreted), even going so far as to sabotage a relationship and isolate. It may be a faulty and fear based solution, but it’s their best attempt at a change of mind. They may simply be mistaken in their assessments of the situation, such as thinking they are lusting vs being attracted to God within a person, or being influenced by a spirit. They need assistance to understand and to receive the truth. Being able to share with a trustworthy person is a step to freedom and restoration. Hiding or simply withdrawing usually creates unneeded distress and keeps the person feeling vulnerable to a similar scenario later.

Others may be unaware of their compromise; they may be temporarily blinded or in denial. And some people are okay with indiscretions; their behavior is self-focused and needs driven. Their conscience may or may not bother them. Both types of people may need someone to gently confront them in love. Confrontation has gotten a bad rap, but this is due to misunderstanding it.

Confrontation should always be empathetic and for the benefit of the other, not our own “ego”.

Whether you are a in a role of leadership or one led, and you find yourself experiencing a faulty attraction or compromising in inappropriate ways, the best thing to do to is reveal the situation to someone you trust who is spiritually minded, has mature integrity, and who will not simply brush it off or encourage you in it. There are trustworthy people who will understand and help you get disentangled (even if you are under threat, e.g. a Cult), while remaining sensitive to how people may be effected.

There are various reasons relationships can start to become unbalanced or confusing, even within the Church. Often people tend to think the worst and make assumptions, when in fact there may be information missing. Discovering such information can help bring solutions.

If you happen to be an observer and think someone may need help, or believe you’ve heard Holy Spirit, be willing to take a risk (Shamar). Offer to listen non-judgementally and involve only those necessary. Galatians 6:1-6 and 2 Corinthians 2:5-8 & 11

Coming up, Part 5, YOU Ruined My Sex Life, the final part of Secret Longings, Confusing Feelings & Paths to Healing

The Lie Behind All Sexual Brokenness: part 2 

Part 2 of Secret Longings, Confusing Feelings, and Paths to Healing

My guest post today is by my friend Jonathan Brenneman, Missionary to Brazil, and blogger and author of several books. Jonathan shares some historical origins that have influenced our views on sexuality, and reveals the source of our healing. As promised there are resources; check out the links and Jonathan’s book which goes into much more detail on this subject.

  The Lie Behind All Sexual Brokenness

      Antichrists And The Body-Spirit Dichotomy         

 One of my favorite books of the Bible is First John. I’ve read it more times than I know, and I’ve used it to study several languages.

First John teaches us that we can trace every ungodly spirit back to one lie—the denial that Jesus came as God incarnate, in a human body. We can test any spirit by understanding the truth that Jesus came in the flesh. (1 John 4:1-6) John says that any spirit denying that truth is “antichrist.”

What does this have to do with sex? Scholars believe the apostle John wrote this epistle in opposition to the Gnostics. The Gnostics were an early religious sect whose teaching involved a strict dichotomy between the physical world and the spiritual world. They saw the physical world as evil, and the spiritual world as good.

This worldview was the reason they denied that Jesus had come in the flesh. If the physical world was evil and the spiritual world was good, how could a good and holy God have come to dwell in a human body? This was an impossibility to the Gnostic worldview.

We can conclude that an antichrist spirit teaches a strict separation between the body and spirit, and teaches that the body is evil. These lies are at the root of sexual immorality and also of every major problem in today’s societies. Every ungodly spirit denies that Jesus came in the flesh, and thus denies the sanctity of the body.

 How Does This Lie Affect Our View Of Sexuality?

Two different twisted views of sex arose from the Gnostic’s thinking. The first said “My body and spirit are separate. What I do with my body doesn’t affect my spirit, because my body is base anyways, but my spirit is good. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what I do with my body.” This thinking resulted in orgies and gross sexual immorality.

The other twisted view of sex was cloaked in religion. It said “The body is bad, and the spirit is good, therefore sex is bad. If I want to be holy, I must abstain from all sex.” This lie heavily influenced the early church fathers. Through their teaching, it has influenced all of church history. St. Augustine was a Gnostic for almost ten years before becoming a Christian. Although he broke away from Gnosticism in many ways, it continued to influence his thinking. Augustine believed that Adam impregnated his wife by an act of the will alone, with no passion. Although he eventually rejected the view that sex itself was evil, he believed it was sinful for a married couple to experience passion in their sexual relations.

Yet Augustine’s views were moderate compared to many other “church fathers.” St. Jerome had an extreme anti-sexual obsession, claiming that no man who loved his wife would ever have sex with her, and saying stupid things like “Woman is the root of all evil.”

Jerome had a heated conflict with a monk named Jovinius. I like the name Jovinius. I reminds me of the word “Jovial.” What did Jerome think was jovial Jovinius’ big error? Jovinius believed that a married Christian woman was just as holy before God as an unmarried woman. To Jerome, that was heresy, and he blasted Jovinius for it!

Yet whose name do we most often hear in the study of church history? Everyone who knows anything about church history knows the name “Jerome.” He influenced the course of the church for thousands of years. We hear much less about Jovinius!

Just like the first lie, the error of men like Augustine and Jerome resulted in bondage and eventual sexual immorality. Vilifying that which is holy doesn’t produce purity. Vilifying the body (and sex) produces immorality.

The false body/spirit dichotomy that’s behind sexual immorality is the very lie that separates physical healing from Christ’s atonement and applies salvation only to the soul but not to the body. Have you ever wondered why pornography addiction is so rampant in the church? It’s rooted in the spiritualized view of Christianity that Augustine, Jerome, and other early church fathers propogated.

Jesus didn’t just come as a spirit. He came in a human body. He didn’t only heal people’s souls. He healed their bodies. He didn’t only suffer spiritually to save our souls. He suffered physically, carrying our pains and sicknesses, and was physically bruised for the healing of our physical bodies. He doesn’t only live in our hearts. He lives in our bodies. It’s time for us to embrace the gospel that touches the whole person and reject the Gnostic’s spiritualized perversion of truth. Doing so will be a big step towards dealing with the problem of sexual addiction.

Thank God that the church has recently come a long way in breaking away from Jerome’s radical views! But we still tend to see a proliferation of sexual scandals and immorality within religious groups that put a negative slant on sex. I’ve seen it again and again.

People who once bought the lie that sex is evil change over to the lie that it doesn’t matter what you do with your body. They are two sides of the same coin. My grandparents went to a Christian college in NY. It had an “18-inch rule.” Male and female students were forbidden from getting closer than 18 inches away from each other. Hand-holding was definitely out of the question! Today, that college has a reputation as a hotbed of promiscuity.

 The Body-Soul-Spirit Connection

Error in the church was a set-up for many societies to buy the lie that “it doesn’t matter what you do with your body.” Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

Modern science shows that the body is closely connected to the mind and soul. Many scientists now state that most disease is primarily caused by emotions and thinking patterns. There’s too much research to refer to in a short article, but Dr. Carolyn Leaf is one of them. If you’re interested in learning more, Dr. Leaf’s book Who Switched Off My Brain? is a good place to start. Emotions and thought patterns affect our bodies by physical processes through the nervous and endocrine systems. The nervous system and the endocrine system link our bodies and our souls.

It works the other way too. What we do with our bodies affects our mental and emotional well-beings. Hormones involved in sex play other roles in our bodies. They are also important in our ability to bond in a healthy way with other people. Porn use and sexual immorality deteriorate that ability. We have plenty of research that backs that up. Science shows that we are biologically wired for sexual monogamy.

In my book, Jesus Has Come In The Flesh, I presented statistics showing that the consequences of sexual promiscuity link closely to every major problem in today’s societies. These include physical health problems, mental health problems, divorce, fatherlessness, violence, substance abuse, incarceration, poverty, early death, behavioural disorders, homelessness, suicide, children’s poor school grades, and more.

Some continue to dispute the facts, against all reason. However, there’s a growing “no-fap” movement of people seeking to abstain from porn and solo-sex. The unique thing about this movement is that it’s not primarily religious. Many participants are atheists. The main motivator for these people to stop porn and solo-sex is that they feel bad with these activities, and they feel so much better without them.

Why? Because sexual morality isn’t just some meaningless religious code. It’s what humans are biologically wired for, and even atheists can feel it. As Rui Miguel Costa noted, “The only sexual behaviour consistently related to better psychological and physical health is PVI.” (Penile-Vaginal Intercourse) A healthy sex life between spouses befits their well-being and helps to hold together healthy relationships.

The Good News!

The good news is redemption! Jesus came in the flesh. He came to redeem you body, soul, and spirit. He is the truth. He’s able and willing to free you from the lies of an antichrist spirit which result in sexual bondage and brokenness. He is life, and he wants to restore you to the abundant life that he created you for.

The scriptural basis for sexual purity is that Jesus has come in the flesh. He didn’t only come in a human body two-thousand years ago, but his spirit dwells in our bodies if we have received him. When we put our faith in Christ’s sacrifice for our sins and receive his life within, our bodies become his temple. This is the biblical basis for sexual purity. Your body is holy, and Jesus has come in your flesh!

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (NIV) Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

My body is holy. It’s the temple of the Holy Spirit. My body is connected to my soul and spirit. These seem like such simple truths, but it’s amazing how understanding them helps people to get free from sexual bondage and torment. I know several guys who had heard the church teach against sexual immorality for years yet were still hooked on porn. One of the main things that finally helped them get free was reading up on the science of sexual addiction and breaking this false body/spirit dichotomy.

Here are some good websites that include research on effects of porn use and sexual addiction. You can also check out my book Jesus Has Come In The Flesh, which highlights the correlations between sexual immorality and other major problem of society. It then continues as a manifesto for re-sensitizing society and undoing the devil’s works by demonstrating that Jesus has come in the flesh.

www.yourbrainonporn.com
www.fightthenewdrug.org
www.pornharmsresearch.com
www.socialcostsofpornography.com
www.nofap.com

SSA: Secret Longings, Confusing Feelings & Paths to Healing Part 1

I’m a bit behind on posting; a new semester has begun with the subject matter of Senior Counseling; Women’s Studies & Feminism; and Human Sexuality. The latter two courses especially have got me thinking–those along with some conversations I’ve had over time with “church people” about confusing feelings and what they often identify as lust, particularly as related to authority figures or leaders. Given those conversations, it’s evident sexuality has become (or always has been) a topic too important to remain completely private within the church or elsewhere.

Now is as good a time as any to move past our blushes, bring it into the open, and do a miniseries on this topic. To start it off, I’ve asked my friend John Spencer to guest post. I  appreciate and thank him for his transparency and courage as he shares his experiences and perspective. I hope you will too. While readers may or may not agree, I  ask that we respect his journey and beliefs. Our hope is by bringing some of these issues to light, that some might benefit. Here’s John.

**Content warning: this will be an honest account of some of my sexual struggles during my life and may not be appropriate for minors nor for those of a sensitive nature**

I never felt affirmed as a man.  I felt that I was a disappointment to my father and didn’t measure up.  My father-in-law also didn’t see me as a man and whilst I remember joking in my wedding speech that “it’s not so much losing a daughter but gaining a womanly-bloke” the truth is I didn’t feel like a “proper” man.  Getting married didn’t fix that.  Nor did becoming a father.  I felt the constant need for approval of a father-figure that I never received growing up.

During my early marriage I acted out by looking at pornographic images of women. I knew it was wrong and I hated myself for it.  I used to take out my anger on my wife.  Often as a defensive mechanism because if she got too close she would expose who I really was and I didn’t want that.  So I’d make out that it was her fault. However, whilst early exposure to pornography and subsequent masturbation had hardwired my brain to women, the yearning for manly approval grew and became more sexual.

I started fantasizing about kissing certain men when I was talking to them.  I needed to feel loved and wanted by these men.  But I knew that this was wrong too*.  And I hated myself for it.  I tried to suppress it but it kept coming back.  Just like the way I projected my self-loathing onto my wife due to my pornographic addiction, I projected my self-loathing about my same-sex attraction onto gays.  I would see homosexuality as the unforgivable sin and loathe them in my heart.

Some will interject now and say “you need to accept these desires as natural and reject this outdated religious bigotry”.  However, to quote CS Lewis:
“He (Satan) always sends errors into the world in pairs – pairs of opposites.  And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse.  You see why of course?  He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one.  But do not let us be fooled.  We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both ‘errors’.”

Instead of denying my desires or just accepting and acting on them, I expressed them to Jesus.

I honestly told Him about my struggles.  As I admitted the truth, I brought these desires into the light and that was when the transformation began.  He opened my eyes to the fact that it was only men in authority that I wanted to kiss.  It was because of my feeling so unmanly, so unworthy, so useless that was the root of my desire to be accepted and loved by authority figures.

Jesus has all authority (Mt 28:18), he is above every power and authority (Eph 1:20-22; Phil 2:9-10) and he loves me (Jn 15:9,12).  As I have been receiving the approval of the ultimate authority I have become more whole.  As I have drunk deep of Christ’s masculinity I have become more manly.  As I have received the Father’s love and approval my desires for men have simply faded away.  I have become complete and whole in Him who is my all in all (1 Cor 15:28).

GK Chesterton said “Everyone who knocks on the door of a brothel is searching for God”. God has made us creatures of desire and Jesus is the “desire of the nations” (Hag 2:7) – the only one who can truly satisfy our longings whether they be same sex attraction, pornography addiction, paedophilia, food, smoking or simply the desire to be famous or rich. No finite thing can satisfy our longing for the infinite. Stop drinking out of broken cisterns (Jer 2:13), and return to the source of living water (Jn 4:13-14).

* It’s not the purpose of this article to defend the traditional Christian view of homosexuality.  Others have done that adequately elsewhere.  Any plain sense reading of passages such as Rom 1:26-27 and a correct understanding of hermeneutics will support this.  However, we mustn’t get pushed into the false dichotomy of if I don’t agree I must hate gays.

John Spencer is a child of God, a husband and a father of six children (four on earth and two in heaven). He writes about his journey into wholeness and how parents can communicate a godly vision of sexuality to their children at godlysexuality.org.

NOTE from LifeTree: all comments are moderated but please, do add to the conversation, even anonymously. Discussion helps others come out of hiding and heal.  John was kind enough to revise his original article which you can find here:

https://godlysexualityblog.com/2016/06/17/an-alternative-ending-to-the-orlando-shooting/

Gold Dust, Wonder, and Healing

Gold dust, Wonder & Healing

The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, How are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!  Lamentations 4:2

I saw him glance at me out of the corner of his eye when I passed by; as I returned the look he glanced away. I perceived he “knew something” about me in that moment. He had “the look” people have when they get a word of knowledge (a supernatural insight or knowledge about a person that couldn’t otherwise be known).
Looking ahead I searched for my friend who had invited me. I hadn’t been sure I would come, but curiosity and maybe even indignant rebellion against  intimidation and bad memories rose up in me. So I went. But with a mixed jumble of ambivalence.
This was the church I’d grown up in, that had been home. It was also the church of my suffering and shame.

Bittersweet

Coming back again was challenging; even though I had grown so much, it was difficult crossing the threshold through the doors, and greeting the old saints and new people as I passed by.

I didn’t know much about the guest speaker either, only that my friend seemed excited and she was leading worship, so heck ya, that was reason enough.
The service closed with an invitation for prayer and to receive from God. I was so eager to “get some” that I jumped up before most of the people who regularly attended there and inadvertently half stepped on the gal’s foot I had to cross over to get out of the pew.

The microphone was left on so everyone heard what was said, but it didn’t matter because whatever men can be to one another, God had been more than faithful to me… I trusted Him. And I couldn’t have imagined what was about to occur.

“Put your hands out.” I did as he said thinking he’d take my hands to pray. “Turn them palms up.” I did. Curious.

“Do you see that little bit of gold on your hands?” My eyes flicked to my palms and back again, searching his face uncertainly. Did he mean my gold wedding band? That little bit of gold?

I looked at him intently. He looked back just so.  I looked at my hands again.

Then he began to tell of my pain and shame I had experienced through the religiosity of the leaders and some of saints there, more than once, past and still fairly recent. He began to speak of the value I had, of the wealth and worth God placed in me, of identity and honor.

I looked again at my hands-I could see faint sparkles on both palms where I hadn’t seen anything moments before. I drank in all that was being spoken, a bit dazzled that Dad would choose to redeem the damning experiences and my self worth in this manner.



Wonderstruck, I returned to my seat to soak it in and listen for God to expound on what He’d just done. The lady whose foot I’d stepped on grabbed my closest hand and pressed it to her cheek, eyes closed,  a raptured look on her face. Then she released it and quickly apologized. I smiled and assured her I understood completely! This was not something any of us had experienced, and only few had even heard of.

There was this one niggling nagging thing though. I had worn a glittering gold powder on my cheeks that night and I knew I had touched my face with my palms. So… was it makeup on my hands or real glory and gold dust from heavenly realms?  It bothered me because I’m a truth seeker. Just give me the truth- beautiful, plain, raw or ugly-just don’t lie or trick me. Here lay an opportunity both men and devils seek-the kind that lead to faith or disbelief.

I didn’t want to doubt, or have this blessing fade from my mind as it would from my hands, so I whispered to Father, “You know I just want truth- is this gold dust or makeup? At tomorrow night’s meeting, I’ll wear powder that’s matte, no hint of sparkle anywhere, and if this is really gold dust, would you do it again Dad? Let my palms be misted with gold again tomorrow night.”
I made extra sure to wear matte make up and washed my hands doubly well. No trace of sparkle anywhere-checked and double checked. Standing in the worship time I glanced at my hands. Nothing. Disappointment edged closer, looking for a little place to call home again. Hope deferred had too often visited my heart.

A little bit later I looked again and my heart leapt! My palms glinted and twinkled just as they had the night before. Gold dust! Every word that had been spoken to me the previous night was established even deeper. Words of worth, words of love, faith and hope.

What is better,  is time and time again Dad has affirmed me with love and honor where men and women have maimed, blamed, or shamed. He knows who we really are, and He loves to tell us.

I’ve read somewhere that man was originally made of gold particles, rather than dust; gold dust, if you will. I’ve done word searches and haven’t found that exact interpretation; it appears to render as clay. A wonderful thing about clay is it’s re-moldable. If it becomes marred, it can be refashioned by the potter’s hands, even remade into more noble vessel for honorable use.

Whether the material He used was common clay or gold dust, everything Dad touches turns to Gold and He declares several times in His love letter to man kind that we are precious, worth more than gold, and He has promised every testing will bring out the gold in us.

If you’ve been marred in identity and purpose, know that Dad sees the value in you, He fashioned you in His heart before He knit your soul and spirit to your body in the womb. Whatever your life experiences, your life is of great worth. He will reveal the truth of this to you again and again. Jesus came because you have value, you are priceless to him. And given your “yes” He will renew  your whole being-spirit, soul, and body. Transfiguration is awaiting you…

Turns out, we are fashioned with gold…

http://www.gold-traders.co.uk/gold-information/how-much-gold-is-found-in-the-human-body.asp

And on an interesting side note: Until very recent times gold was used as a heart remedy, … Homeopathic doctors still use it in this manner in high dilutions and regard it as a remedy for depressive or suicidal conditions: a ‘total eclipse of the heart’. Its distribution within the human organism reaches its highest concentration in the region of the heart. Gold is used by doctors to diagnose heart problems. As the highest concentrations of gold in the human body occur around the heart, a radio-isotope of gold has been developed (the Au-195 isotope), which can give an image of the blood-containing structures within the heart, a process called ‘heart-imaging’. Gold gives a heart image! In Britain this new technology has been developed in St. Bartholomew’s hospital, London. One expert described the gold used in this way as ‘a very convenient medium for rapid assessment of changes in cardiac function’ (3,4). ~Nick Kollerstrom
Image credits to Pinterest and Megapixel