Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A path for healing part 4

This is part 4 of "A path for healing" so I'd strongly suggest you go back and read the other 3 blog posts before jumping into this one.

A little more than a year ago, I found myself going to confession with a priest friend of mine.  At some point, he asked me if I had confessed the same sins over and over.  I thought about it, and yes - there were a few things that came up each and every time I went to confession.  Looking back and being honest about it, by it's very nature - something that happens over and over even though you try to stop it would be considered habitual or maybe even addictive.  We find all sorts of reasons to justify our sin - why its "ok" or "normal".  We accept our sin as part of "human nature" and just something "people do".  God made us "good" - but we turn to evil things.

He began to explain how I was likely being attacked by spiritual forces and encouraged me to look back and find when the doors were opened to such things.  I thought way back - WAY back and identified some areas where I needed healing.  He walked me through a process of "renunciation" in which I listed out everything I struggled with.  Renunciation means "to turn away from" or to "refuse to participate in".

In the name of Jesus, I renounce _______.
In the name of Jesus, I renounce the lie that ________.
In the name of Jesus, I accept the truth that _________.
In the name of Jesus, I forgive ______ for _______.

I just went through and listed out everything I struggled with.  I looked down and saw the lies that I had in my head - lies that my sin would "never" go away - lies that I was "always" going to sin in this way, and that it was part of me".  Lies that I would never receive healing - lies that I was unworthy of receiving healing.  I forgave people in my past that I thought I forgave but never really did.  As he prayed over me, I literally felt like I was raising up out of my chair and floating sideways.  My chest was heavy, and through is prayer, that heaviness lifted and was removed.  I was changed - something happened that I can't explain.  He said  to me as we finished - "The process of being unbound does not immediately result in freedom - it results in weakness".  Before the prayer, I was bound by sin.  It had me in its clutches, it took up space in my soul and as the spirits were removed, it left space open.  That space was now available for God.  In the name of Jesus - the chains were broken!

over the next few months, my struggle went from 90% to 10%.  I was tempted - and each time I went through my prayer - In the name of Jesus, I renounce _______.  As I found new things that I struggled with, I would pray In the name of Jesus, I renounce____.

Now - how do you do this?  James 5:16 tell us "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." If you have some big heavy stuff, you need some big heavy power.  You really need to go to someone who is trained in this ministry as someone who does this without the right preparation or support could find themselves in a mess.  You COULD however - try some basics on your own.  Reflect on your sin - people you have not forgiven, any lies you might be hearing, and go through the process of renouncing those things.  After you renounce everything, say a prayer asking the Lord to heal your brokenness - your emptiness - to replace your sin with his presence and strength.  After over a year, I can honestly say that the sin I used to face has literally been removed and is no longer a struggle. 

If you're looking for some support, encouragement or someone to pray with you, please don't hesitate to contact me and I'll see if I can find someone in your area to pray with you. You can find more about this ministry - training and conferences here: heartofthefather.com

If  you begin this prayer or have done this prayer, please post in the comments.  

Monday, February 29, 2016

A path for healing part 3

If you're just now catching this blog post, it's part 3 so you should probably go back and read part 1 & 2, but maybe you'll find what I'm sharing helpful...

Part 3:  The supernatural effects on the human soul

Sin affects us - so do likes, unforgiveness, participating with things of the occult and even things passed down from family members.  The question is how do they affect us and how can we recognize it.  I'll explain this by giving some real life examples.

Example 1.  When John was 6, his neighbor taught him sexual things.  He didn't tell his parents about it because he was embarrassed and didn't think it was a big deal.  This set a sexual curiosity in John.  he began to want to look at pornographic pictures and struggled with sexual sin, lust and even pornography.  By high school, John just thought that he was just a sexual person and his actions were completely natural for a typical high school guy.  He even went on to forget what happened when he was just 6 years old.

Example 2.  Jamie's grandparents were alcoholics.  Her mom grew up in a home with a lot of anger due to the alcoholism and control issues.  Growing up, her mom became very rebellious due to the control issues and often stayed at friend's houses because she never wanted to be home.  As she raised Jame, she too exhibited control issues, was always very short with Jamie, and didn't give her the freedom to learn things on her own.

Example 3.  When Jennifer was 10, her friends convinced her that she was ugly.  Every time she got dressed, she was overly worried about the clothes she wore because she didn't want to be ugly.  She constantly felt judged and constantly heard in her head "you're ugly".  She always wore an excessive amount of makeup and for a while she constantly looked in the mirror to make sure she didn't have any food in her teeth, or anything wrong with her skin.  In high school, she thought she was gaining too much wait and developed an eating disorder.

These issues are quite common and different people experience them at different levels and with different expressions.  In example 1, the door to sexual sin began with a sexual encounter at the age of 6.  In example 2, inclination to some sins are passed through the family.  Sometimes they are direct alcoholism to alcoholism while others are indirect like alcoholism affecting our emotional stability in ways other than to repeat the same behavior.  In the example 3, the girl is cursed - yes an actual curse.  It's possible for us to curse someone without the intent of cursing them - but by saying hurtful things to others, we may potentially open the door to a lifelong wound if it's not cared for.

These wounds sit in us - they fester if we fail to deal with them.  They turn into lifelong grievances, resentment, anger, rage and other forms of torment and oppression.  If you believe in the supernatural, then you may understand the concept of spirits.  They can attack us at any moment - whispering lies to us - telling us we aren't good enough - telling us we will never get past our pain.  They  tempt us, they call to us and we hear their voice so clear it's almost part of us.  In fact, we often believe that it's just how we are made - who we are.  In reality, these things are not of God and are only trying to harm us.  The GOOD NEWS - is God ALWAYS conquers evil!  Simply by calling upon the name of Jesus, evil is crushed!

Where are your wounds?  What areas need healing?  In the next blog post, I'll teach a prayer style that helped me and continues to help me grow into a healthier spiritual person.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A path for healing part 2

If you're catching this blog and didn't read Chapter 1, you'll need to go back and read part 1 of "A path for healing". CLICK HERE for part 1

To recap - I challenged you to reflect on the things that challenge you the most - sins that come back over and over - attitudes you struggle with over and over - negativity, depression, fear, anxiety, lust, addiction, anger, rage, resentment, and other feelings and attractions that are not "of God".  If you wrote those things on a card - keep that card, Keep adding to it and reflecting on it as you need to.

For part 2, Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a huge part of healing and is sometimes the most difficult.  Sometimes we've been hurt so bad that we don't want to forgive.  Maybe we thought we forgave but inside we really held on to our anger and resentment.

To love is to "will the good of the other" (Aquinas)  Can you honestly say nice things about the person that hurt you?  Can you pray for their safety or well being?  Can you have normal thoughts about them without the grudge stepping back in?  If they were in trouble, would you help them?  If you find that there is still resentment and anger, then you probably haven't fully forgave them.

Unforgiveness doesn't make us feel better.  Sometimes we hold onto our unforgeveness out of revenge or maybe even to subconsciously maintain our identity as a broken person.  These feelings are not "of God" and require us to be freed of them.  There is a great freedom in forgiveness and reconciliation.  This is why the sacrament of reconciliation even exists.  Many outside the church and even some within the church see it as a roadblock.  Lets be honest, who wants to sit in front of another person and express your deepest and darkest moments of shame, regret and brokenness?  NOBODY!  That's right - nobody "wants" to share the stuff we've trapped within for no one to see.

***Mat 10:26-27 (NIV) "There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the housetops."

***Job 12:22 (NIV) He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings deep shadows into the light.

***1 Cor 4:5b (Phi) He will bring into the light of day all that at present is hidden in darkness, and he will expose the secret motives of men's hearts.

***James 5:16 (NAS) Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.

Over and over in scripture, we see how the hidden things are what we most need to recognize and bring into the light - to be made visible.  Anyone can "go to God" in the silence of their room and confess their sins.  Can God forgive them?  Absolutely!  HOWEVER - Forgiveness doesn't always result in healing - sometimes for healing to take place, We change when things are difficult - so if confessing your sin in private isn't difficult, it may or may not result in actual healing.  This is why the church provides the sacrament of reconciliation.  The sacrament provides an avenue to truly face your sin, to bring it into the light.  It's difficult, it's uncomfortable and it requires something of us.  Like any growth and healing, we must face our challenges and move through them.  

Don't think you can forgive?  Maybe YOU can't...  Jesus tells us in Matthew 19:26 "With man it is impossible, but with God, all things are possible".  Maybe you can't forgive someone, maybe you can't face the challenges you have - but WITH GOD - ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.  

In Acts 3 - Peter & John see a crippled man outside the temple.  "He looked at him and said "In the name of Jesus Christ, stand up and walk".  He took him by the hand and raised him up and immediately his feet and legs were strong.  Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them leaping and praising God."  Maybe we don't have much power, maybe we don't feel like we can forgive, maybe we can't move past our addiction our anger, our resentment, but in the NAME OF JESUS - We can be made whole again.  

I invite you to spend the next day in prayer about places in your life that you need to forgive.  Places you've harbored anger and resentment.  You might even have to go back to your childhood - someone that said something mean to you, someone that hurt you, someone who abandoned you, someone who abused you sexually, physically, or mentally.  Where have you failed to forgive someone and where have you hurt someone that you need to ask for forgiveness?  I invite you to write on a note card - areas that you need to forgive, or ask for forgiveness.  

Watch in the next few days for the next blog post on how to move forward to healing.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A path for healing

After years of working with young people in ministry, one thing I frequently say is that "everybody has something".  We all have something we are working through whether it be the loss of a loved one, anxiety, self worth, negativity, depression, addiction, doubt, fear, and the list goes on and on.  These things exist in our fallen world and sadly many just go on accepting it as the way they were created, or they pile up shame and guilt only furthering the alienation they've felt.

First and foremost, we were created in the "image and likeness of God".  (Genesis 1:27) We are created "Good".

Secondly - Bad things happen to good people NOT because God wills it, but because God allows humankind to be humankind.  The greatest love cannot force it's love upon another.  To love means to allow us the freedom and choice to love in return - in turn giving us the freedom to avoid and dismantle that love from our end of the relationship.

Lastly, this is all incomprehensible if we don't believe in the supernatural.  The human soul - the nature of sin - satan - God - angels - heaven - spirits - All are part of the supernatural world that either exists or doesn't.  It's not subjective based on what an individual might think or prefer but is based on either fact or fable.  The challenge is accepting something we can't quite grasp with our human intellect and only sense or speculate through various thoughts or experiences.

So here's where the rubber hits the road... We're created good, but are influenced away from the good.  We are created perfect but because of our fallen human nature, we fall short of that perfection.  People hurt us, we are influenced to acts that are in contrast from the greatest good.  We fall to the sin of pride, selfishness, we act out of resentment and anger.  We receive particular influences from our family passed from one generation to another.  We might have been unintentionally cursed by a family member, coach, teacher or other person of influence over our life when we are/were vulnerable.  We might have even opened up doors to evil things by participating in ouija boards, tarrot cards, mind readers and other things of the occult.  We may have experienced trauma.  Maybe the depression, anger or addiction of another person affected us in a variety of ways.  The eyes and the ears are the door to our soul and what we see, ear and experience affect us.  God in his perfect love does not put us in a bubble, but allows us to experience life and to fight to be the person we were created  to be.

To be holy - is to be "whole" - to be the person we were created to be.  When we are most ourselves, God himself is most visible in his creation.  When we are most ourselves, others see Christ in us.  Like in the story of "The Missing Piece" - we were created whole, but lost our way and are searching for the missing piece to make us whole again.  We'll try to put all sorts of things in our life to fill that gap - drugs, wealth, sports, business, alcohol, pornography, power, authority, work, friends, technology and anything else.  What we're missing is the intimacy with our creator.

I'd like to invite you into a few chapters... this is chapter 1 and I'll write a bit more over the next week or so on how to find healing.  The first step - Identify those characteristics you struggle with the most.   Search deep within, any feelings you experience that are not of God.  This may be anger, fear, resentment, revenge, rage, self hate, depression, lust, greed,  unbelief, pride, rejection, insecurity, purposelessness, despair, hopelessness, shame, addiction, grief, jealousy, envy, unworthiness, loneliness...  Identify all the areas where you experience a gap between you and God.  I even invite you to pull out a note card, spend some time alone writing down the things that you feel.  If you'd like to see a more comprehensive list, please see this link:  CLICK HERE

One thing to keep in mind - you're created good!  These things that you think that you "are" or "have become" are not YOU - they are things that have attached to you like a parasite.  The first step to moving past them is to identify them - name them.  I'd like to invite you to hang with me over the next few days/weeks as I break this open further.  Be assured of my prayers for you.  

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Christmas Reflection

Last night, I was reading to you 4 year old from his bible.  We were on the story of Zacchaeus and I was trying to figure out how it related to Christmas.  Zacchaeus was a public sinner and everyone knew it.  Like most of us, we hide from our sin, we hate our sin being seen and it usually encourages us to run away from Jesus and the church.  We aren't ready to change or even acknowledge we need to change. This is where the story of Zacchaeus is helpful.  Unworthy, he climbed the tree to see Jesus better.  He could have just stood in the back, and wished he was closer. He could have been content with being where he was and thought whatever he was doing was "good enough" but instead made an extraordinary effort to make himself truly present.

It takes more than us going through the motions... It takes more than just being a part of the crowd.  A relationship and a dramatic change of heart takes our active participation.  If we are empty, and think that a faith in Jesus is nonsense, or if you have been going through the motion for years and haven't "felt" anything, it's not time to give up, but to make the extra effort.

When Jesus came to the town of Nazareth, he couldn't work the miracles he could in other places.  Not because His lack of power but the people's lack of faith.  Because of free will, God doesn't force himself on us.  Instead, we are required the faith, the desire and make the effort for change.

Wherever you are in your faith journey.... Atheist, bored, complacent, angry, hurt, or happy... Spend a moment reflecting, and having a real and honest conversation with God about your struggle, your hope, and ask the lord to creat a little Christmas miracle.  Reflect on who you need to forgive, places you need mercy and who you could show mercy to.  When Jesus comes, be ready to let him enter your heart, your home, your relationships, your thoughts and your messes.  It does require your participation and effort. The star will be rising soon.  Are you prepared to follow it?  Will you just be content gazing from a distance, or will you make the journey that requires effort and interruption?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Why all Christians should check out the Saints

If you go to the non-denominational church, the Baptist church, the Church of Christ, or many of the other protestant churches, you probably don't have the saints as part of your tradition.  You may even have thought Catholics "worship" saints, or have statues of them which "proves" we worship idols.  If this is what you've heard, I'd invite you to see it how a Catholic sees it...  We believe in ONE GOD - Father-Son-Spirit.  Through God and God alone can we receive salvation.

Let me ask a few questions for you to consider - 1.  Do you honor those who have died fighting for our freedom?  There are statues and walls with their names and we often say "thank you" to those in the military for the sacrifice they make for us. We don't worship them, but honor them for their sacrifice.  They're a part of our American family.  2.  Do you have pictures of family members in our home, maybe even loved ones that have passed away?  We don't worship them, but we remember them as they are a part of our family and we love them.  3.  When you fell in love with your spouse - did you consider how their family would play a role in your life?  After all, you are marrying your spouse and their family and becoming a part of something much bigger than just your spouse.  You don't love your mother-in-law in the same way you love your spouse, but you certainly honor and respect them because they're now a part of your family.

If we love Jesus, we love His family because we too are just a part of that family.  We become united with the whole family of Jesus and all those others that love Him too.  It's like a big organization that everyone is a part of and no one is excluded.  Like any organization, there are founding members, traditions and a legacy that someone left.  That legacy only points us closer to the mission (Jesus).  We love Mary - not because she does something for us, or has the power to "save us" (which she doesn't) but because she is an important part of the family of Jesus.  We remember the Saints because they paved the way, sacrificing their life in the name of Christianity.  They are examples of how sinful humans just like you and me can live an extraordinary life.  They loved Jesus so much that they lived it just like you and me are trying to do.

THIS is what it means to be Christian!  You are part of the Christian family, equally as entitled as I am - none of us worthy but certainly grateful.  You belong in the UNIVERSAL family of Jesus Christ, with a legacy that dates back to the first martyrs - St. Stephen (Acts 7:52).  St. Longinus - the soldier that pierced Jesus with the spear and blood flowed out and saying "Truly this was the son of God" Mt. 27:54.  There are almost 1000 recognized saints that have incredible stories of radical love and service for Jesus Christ and the Church.

If you are a Christian - your faith didn't start the day you were born, but was handed down from Jesus to the Apostles, to the first Christians that formed the Catholic Church, through the scripture they recorded, put into a bible, through the lives of the Saints, the blood of the martyrs, through Priests, and pastors to your pastor and your parents and now to you.  You are part of something much bigger than your own memory with a legacy that lasts 2000 years.  You too can admire the Saints just like I do without worshiping and without changing your love and devotion for Jesus.  Knowing more people that love Jesus is inspirational and supportive for your own walk of faith without detraction.  As a Catholic Christian in today's world, I need to be surrounded by as many Christians as I can and I welcome as many members that want to be a part of this enormous family of Jesus Christ.  Happy All hollow's eve (all saints eve), all Saints day and All souls day.  Celebrate with us!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pope Francis Visiting the US

As a Catholic, I LOVE seeing the response to Pope Francis!  Everywhere the guy goes, there are 10,000's of people!  On every street corner, from the top of trump tower, children, adults, the elderly are all there just wanting to catch a glimpse.  Every news agency is following each and every step whether they are Pro/Anti Catholic, whether liberal or conservative.  Whether they agree with this issue or that, everyone is captivated.

Here is the message I heard in much more elegant form that I'm going to break down and simplify...
KEEP IN MIND --- This is what I heard and how I'm translating.  Please read for yourself what the Pope said for your own commentary. 

1.  Creation is sacred - All of creation!  Not just you and me, but everything created has value and dignity and we should protect it.  This includes the environment.  He shared in his address to the UN - that when we destroy creation, it affects those of us in it maybe even to the point that we can't survive.  As he was speaking, I thought about polluted resources that those in adverse situations have to consume making them sick and spreading disease.  He shared how we need to eliminate nuclear weapons, and make a tireless effort to reach out to other countries diplomatically in order to resolve conflict rather than going to war as war destroys human life and the environment. 

2.  Life is sacred - all life!  The unborn, the unwanted, the elderly, the poor, the imprisoned, and every day folks like me and you.  He pleaded to end the death penalty - to give every person the right to make amends and reform from their past.  Sometimes it takes years for one to be rehabilitated and by ending their life, they may not be right with God yet and we limited their time to do so.  He didn't go into great detail, but there were several quick mentions about the care for the unborn.  I think everyone knows the church's stance on abortion, but he made an appoint to mention the care for the life of the unborn.  It's not about removing a woman's rights, but about caring for creation. 

3.  Immigration - Pope Francis shared:  "We see Christians in Africa, Sudan, Syria, the Middle East who are forced to witness destruction of churches, Land and property.  They're forced to either flee or pay the price with their life or enslavement."  He talked about those in South America who are heading north to start a better life for themselves. They shouldn't be seen as immigrants invading our space but people - searching for hope, reaching for their dreams.  Pope Francis said something along the lines of - You were all once immigrants... You have hopes... You have dreams - you don't want anyone stopping you from yours, so why stop that of others?  Do on to others as you want done to you - if our country was under attack, our freedoms were at risk, our children starving - where would we go?  What if no one accepted us? 

4.  The Family- He didn't mention gay marriage, but he did share how the human family is being threatened greater now than ever before.  He shared how the greatest damage is when it is done to children. Abuse, neglect, children raised without fathers or mothers, all forms of parental dysfunction affect children the rest of their life just perpetuating the cycle of dysfunction.  This says something to me - first - that he LOVES all people - including the gay and  transgendered.  He has seen their pain and their struggle and longs for them to find healing and acceptance in society while at the same time, shares his concern for the family unit and how it's being torn apart. 

5.  UNITY - He calls us all to the middle.  NO ONE is comfortable in the middle because it requires each of us to give up something.  The liberals love him for his care for the environment, the poor and immigration.  Conservatives love him for his stance on the life of the unborn and the natural family.  He's asking everyone to sacrifice for the good of all humanity - love doesn't come without sacrifice and I think anyone who has ever been truly loved or has truly loved another, understands what that means.  To love doesn't mean I get everything I want, but I desire the good of the other.  He says this powerful quote to the UN:  "If you fight amongst yourselves, you will be devoured by those outside."  I think this is a call for unity - to find common ground.  This could be applied to all Christian religions who bicker amongst themselves.  I too am guilty of trying to prove why it's better to be Catholic simply because I want to share in the celebration of the Eucharist - the whole substance of Christ.  I long to be in communion with other Christians and yet often see the spinning of our teachings out of context.  What if the whole world came into a universal truth - what would that look like?  Are Catholics willing to move in a way that draws in the other side?  Are protestants willing to come back to the church after choosing to be on the "other side" for so long?  How amazing it would be to bring all of our gifts, all of our Love for Jesus back into one universal faith in Jesus Christ. 

Lets stand together!  Lets be more inviting, more supportive to our enemies and those on the other side of party lines.  Let us stop the bickering between Catholics and Protestants and realize that we're in the same journey together.  Let us be compassionate and understanding asking questions rather than making judgments.  Most important, lets be open to dialog instead calling the other side "women haters" "baby killers" or other terms  that are intended to draw out the opponent with anger and defensiveness.  Let us be open to sharing our story, and more importantly, hearing the stories of others.  We're all on our own, pushing and fighting for our individual rights instead of fighting for the good of the other.  This is a challenge - are you up for it?