What Blocks Inner Healing?

Ever wonder why some people just can’t seem to get unstuck? Christians even? They’ve been going through inner healing for 10 years and look like they’re going to be for another 10 years, but they never seem to make any headway? Or they seem to making progress, but then stumble and fall in the same devastating sin all over again (for example, having an affair, or caving to an addiction, etc)? Why can’t they get really free and move on? What’s blocking their healing?

Meanwhile, other people that are wounded much more deeply sometimes get totally healing over a season of their life and totally move on – free and never susceptible to the same sins again. Why is that?

John Sanford, the founder of Elijah House, asked the Lord this question. He and his wife Paula ministered to a large number of people over the course of their ministry, and saw many people with an equal level of wounding. Some would get total freedom and never look back, while others would appear to get healing only to fall back into the same sins over and over again. What made the difference?

This is my paraphrase of what the Lord told John Sanford. It depends on the motivation of the person seeking the healing, why they are seeking freedom from their pain.

“If they are seeking healing because they realize their wounding is keeping them form serving me fully,” the Lord said to John Sanford, “and their hearts desire is to serve me with their whole being, they will get complete freedom and keep it, because they are seeking to serve me.

“If, on the other hand, they want relief from their pain only so they can live the good life, their healing won’t stick, because they aren’t really seeking me. They just want to live the good life.”

The Kingdom of God is so upside-down from how we naturally think. This illustrates what Jesus said in Luke 9:24, “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”

If we seek the good life, we’ll never find it, and our lives will be one endless, meaningless, futile search. But if we’re willing to sacrifice the good life in favor of living for God, accepting suffering gladly to see his Kingdom advanced, then we’ll find a life better than we ever thought possible.

How about you? Have you seen this at work in your life or that of others? Have you experienced giving up something and then having the Lord give it back to you redeemed, different, but better than you ever thought it could be? Tell us in the comments? And please share (buttons below for your sharing convenience) if you think this thought would be helpful to someone else.

Performance Orientation

I’ve lived my whole life, since I was a young boy, to hear Jesus say, on that Day, “Well done good and faithful servant.” (See Matthew 25:21 & 23.) Those six blessed words.

Recently, while I was reflecting on how much I want to hear him say that, I heard the Lord tell me, in the loving way he always does, “Dave, you’re not going to hear me say that on that Day.”

Shocked. I was totally shocked in my spirit. I’ve been longing for that my whole life. Dumbfounded, I could only ask, “Why not, Lord?”

His answer caught me off guard. “I’ve been saying it to you for over 50 years and you haven’t heard it. What makes you think you’ll hear me when I say it then?”

Wow. He continued. “Dave, I want you to hear me say it now. So that’s finally settled in your heart. I don’t want longing to hear that to be the focus of your life. I want loving me and living the life I have for you to be the focus of your life.”

God is so good; he doesn’t leave us where we are; he’s always drawing us closer to himself.

I have a Performance Orientation that God wants to heal. I’m repenting of it. It’s sin. Performance Orientation is a belief (often held unconsciously) that we have to earn love, to earn the right to be loved. The implicit lie is that we’re not worth loving unless we earn it by doing something.

I honestly think the majority of us in the church have Performance Orientation to some degree. God wants to heal it. We can’t earn his love. Performance Orientation leaves us in the impossible situation of trying to earn by hard work what we already have by inheritance.

Performance Orientation is becoming the good __________ at the expense of ourselves, our true self. What fills in the blank for you? Christian? Leader? Wife? Husband? Student? Good person?

Fear is the fuel for Performance Orientation. “I won’t have enough if I don’t perform.”

On the other hand, the chief enemy of Performance Orientation is Intimacy (= Into Me See). We fear intimacy because we’re afraid if someone’s close they’ll see it’s all a sham. They’ll see who we really are.

My heart is stuck trying to be loved. God wants me to have that settled, so he and I can move on, and do what hearts that are loved do. Soar! Do the impossible without paralyzing fear. I can’t take the risks of living fearlessly while I’m still afraid of not being loved. I can’t both live a life of faith and of fear of not being loved. Neither can you.

He’s calling me to live a life of faith. How about you? Do you struggle with this? Or have you already been set free from it? Either way, tell us in the comments. And please share on Facebook or your favorite social media channel (use the buttons below) if you think this would help someone else.

Transforming Your Story

Maria thought she was healed. It was a long time ago after all, and a lot had happened since then. She’d gotten married, gotten saved, gotten active in her local church. She never acted on them, but she couldn’t shake thoughts of suicide. The frequent bouts with depression were almost overwhelming. Worst of all was how she thought of herself. She pretended well and had everybody fooled, but she couldn’t shake the self-judgements. Where was all this negativity coming from? Could she transform her story and rescue her real identity?

Working with women at our local crisis pregnancy center, I see many women like Maria who don’t connect the dots of the symptoms in their life with a past abortion. I have heard well-meaning Christians say, “I know I am forgiven” and “it’s covered in the blood.” I totally agree with that, but I have to say that forgiveness and healing aren’t the same thing. Abortion leaves a deep wound. Bad fruit often shows up down the road, such as addiction, depression, promiscuity…to name a few. Our identity – our femininity and mothering – are severely damaged.

Many churches celebrated Sanctity of Life Sunday during the month of January. As we stand for life, we must also recognize that 1 in 4 of us (some studies say 1 in 3) have been wounded by a previous abortion. The good news is there’s healing and transformation in Jesus.

Wendy Giancola, director of post abortion ministries at Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center in Washington, D.C., has written a wonderful book called Transforming Your Story: A Path to Healing after Abortion. This book grew out of her own personal healing journey as well as those she has met along the way. She believes that “optimal healing includes three important aspects: community, spiritual tools, and prayer.” Wendy recommends receiving healing in community. This book is very helpful for a healing group to use together. The chapters of the book are constructed around a Bible story which help the participant view their story through the lens of scripture. She has a very sweet way of using experience and activities that engage the heart, mind and spirit to bring spiritual truths to life. With a very gentle and loving approach, Wendy introduces scripture by saying, “Consider…” and “Let’s talk” to invite the participate into engaging their heart.

Her book also has a companion facilitator’s guide for group leaders.

Having worked with many women through abortion recovery, I particularly appreciate this book because of the way she includes scripture in the study. In the crisis pregnancy center where I volunteer, I encounter many unchurched and de-churched young women who are not familiar with the Bible. This study is not intimidating to someone who might not be able to navigate a Bible. She tells the stories of real women and their pain and includes much of the scripture right in the book. It’s a culture current way of using God’s Word which is as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago.

For those seeking help, there are pregnancy centers you can find locally who offer abortion recovery ministry. Other resources include CareNet Pregnancy Centers, Heartbeat International, Ramah International, to name a few. If you or someone you know has experienced the pain of an abortion, but not been through a healing group, you’re probably living wounded and may not even realize the depth of freedom you’re missing. Again there’s a difference between being forgiven and being healed. I strongly encourage you to seek out a post-abortion recovery study at your local crisis pregnancy center. Get your identity back. It will make all the difference in the world.

You can buy Wendy’s book on Amazon here.

A Sabbath Rest without Guilt

I admit it. Every time I hear a word about taking a Sabbath rest I get guilted, because I usually catch up on household and ministry work on Sundays. And I get stressed, trying to figure out how I’m going get everything done in 6 days, when I can’t get everything done as it is in 7 days. Right, take a day off. Sure, I’ll just do that.

But God is showing me I’m thinking about it wrong. Entering God’s rest, like Hebrews 3 and 4 talk about, comes from intimacy. He’s showing me to think about it like date night.

We have a word in our culture for someone who won’t stop working to spend time with their beloved spouse – Work-a-holic. We all pity those spouses, and have no respect for the work-a-holic. I’d tell a work-a-holic something like this: Get a life, dude! Neither you nor your work are that important. You’re sacrificing what’s more important, your beloved spouse and your marriage, for what’s less important, your work. You’re sacrificing the eternal for the temporal!

But am I a spiritual work-a-holic? Am I sacrificing the eternal for the temporal? (Yes, our ministries are temporal. Our relationship with Jesus is eternal. Remember Matthew 7:22-23.) Am I sacrificing what’s important, time with my beloved Jesus, for what’s less important, my ministry?

At near total mental and physical exhaustion, God’s been forcing me to at least slow down on Sundays. I’ve taken some off completely, and am working more and more toward that. I’ve been amazed that my tasks are still there waiting for me on Monday – none of them have spontaneously self-combusted. No one’s had to call out the National Guard because my unsupervised tasks were running amok and taking over the country-side.

My wife and I make weekly date nights a priority, as well as quarterly weekend get-aways to B&Bs, because our relationship is important to us. We realize if we don’t prioritize it, we’ll lose it.

God’s showing me taking a Sabbath rest is like that. He’s showing me I get guilted and stressed over it because I’ve lost my first love. Wow. That’s a situation we who love his intimacy never want to be in, so we it hide from ourselves. I guess I’ve gotten good at that, unfortunately. But fortunately, he loves me enough to not be satisfied with left-overs. Personally, I’m looking forward to this change in my thinking and seeing where it goes.

Action Step: I’m looking forward to Sundays, and intentionally resting, doing as little household and ministry work as possible. Catch a nap in the afternoons, and do things I enjoy, like reading. I’m going to think about it like date-night with him.

I’ll post an update in a few months and let you know how it’s going. But what about you? Do you take a Sabbath rest? Or do you get guilted and stressed over it like I do? What’s your Sabbath story? Tell us in the comments, or shoot us an email. And please share on Facebook or your favorite social media channel (just click the button below) if you think this would bless others.