Bad to the bone

BelovedWe all know how Jesus felt about the Pharisees. He was outspoken and seemed to enjoy frustrating them with questions they were afraid to answer. One day a Pharisee named Simon invited Jesus to dinner.

He accepted.

This ought to be interesting.

No sooner had Jesus sat down when in walks a woman carrying a beautiful alabaster jar. Suddenly, the room is silent as the stunned high and mighty religious leader’s mouths gapped open.

She ignored everyone but The One. Silently she knelt behind Jesus, washing his feet with her tears, using her hair to wash away the dirt, then she pour the perfume over his feet as she kissed his feet over and over.

This woman wasn’t just any woman, she is ‘that’ woman. We don’t know anything about her except she is identified as a ‘certain immoral woman’. The Greek word for immoral is Hamartolos which means devoted to sin, pre-eminently sinful, especially wicked, stained with certain definite vices or crimes and heathen.

She was bad to the bone.

She wasn’t just a prostitute. There was more. So much more. She had the audacity to walk into the home of a Pharisee. Gutsy.

When she heard Jesus was at Simon’s she didn’t hesitate, didn’t think, she just went knowing she had nothing to lose.    

Simon, I’m sure was shocked as he watched her walk in his house. I imagine the men looking at her then back to Jesus to see how He would react. Though he didn’t say the words out loud, Jesus knew what they were all thinking. “Wow. People say Jesus is a prophet. If he is, he would know what kind of woman is sobbing all over his feet.”

Jesus chose to focus on his host.

“Simon, I have something to say to you.” Startled, Simon looks at Jesus and says, “Ok”.

“A man loaned money to two men. To one he loaned $5000 and the other $500. Times became difficult and neither could pay their debt so he kindly forgave the debt. Which of the two do you think loved him more?”

Simon answered, “I suppose the one who owed who owed him $5000.” “You are right,” Jesus said.

Then Jesus turned to the woman, looking at her and never taking his eyes off her as he spoke to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I came into your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash my feet, yet she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t even greet me with a kiss yet she hasn’t stopped kissing my feet. You even neglected the courtesy of oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.”

“I tell you, her sins―and they are many―have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who has been forgiven little shows only a little love.”

To the woman he says, “Your sins are forgiven, your faith has saved you; go in peace,” as the men grumbled amongst themselves questioning who Jesus thinks he is.

We have an advantage by knowing who Jesus is. Imagine with me how skeptical they were, just as we were at one time. We have all been the Pharisee, judgmental and looking down on ‘that’ woman.

What amazes me is how comfortable she was walking into the home of a Pharisee. And of course I wonder what she did that made her so bad. Even Jesus acknowledged her sins were many. I’ve read this story over many times, asking for insight and receiving none. God is not revealing the exact nature of her sins and really does it matter. We can all identify with her. Since we were all bad to the bone until Jesus looked at us and said, “Your sins are forgiven, go in peace.”

She risked it all, embarrassment, shame…stones to walk into the presence of God and discovered love and forgiveness. It’s the one thing the Pharisee’s were missing…love. Love was in their presence and they missed it.

She walked into the room bad to the bone and walked out whiter than snow. Isn’t that what we all want? You can have it. No matter where you are in your walk with God, come into His Presence…He’s been waiting for you.

Can you hear Him? “You are my beloved. Cherished and precious, the apple of my eye. You delight me and not only do I love you, I like you.”

 

   

 

Are you Dauntless?

LimitlessTrapped in a glass tank, no way out, water pours in, filling up faster than seems possible. Panic sets in as she frantically attempts to kick her way out. As the water rises she takes one last gasp of precious air and allows herself to drop, she calmly looks at the glass. Escape is impossible. Or is it? What she does next determines whether she survives or not.

With her finger placed gently against the glass she speaks, “this isn’t real.” Cracks spread like a spider web as she say’s again, “This. Isn’t real.” The cracks spread and suddenly the glass and water explode.

This scene from Divergent is a graphic reminder of how our fears trap us with no obvious way out.

The movie takes place in the future where every person must fit into a category. You either belong or are cast out as factionless, considered lazy, with no purpose. If you don’t belong, you have no value.

The character Beatrice joined Dauntless, a faction identified by bravery and risk, they are the protectors. Dauntless was the polar opposite of what she grew up in which was all about serving and denial of self.

As part of her training to become Dauntless she had to face her greatest fears to see how she would respond. It turns out she is divergent which means she doesn’t respond like everyone else and really doesn’t fit into any faction.

Each faction has its own restrictions. The word means to confine or keep within limits, confined, limited. Synonyms include bind, bottle up, chain, constrict, diminish, hem in, or keep within bounds. Add ‘ed’ to the word and the Synonyms become barred, blocked, chained, controlled, defined, deprived, frustrated prevented, narrowed, reined in, repressed, stopped and suppressed.

Wow!

Are you restricted by fear with no way to break free?

It isn’t real.

Freedom means living unrestricted. To know we are able, allowed, at liberty, free-spirited, liberated, open, relaxed and unbounded. Whoa.

I want to live an unrestricted life. I wondered if there was anyone in the Bible who broke free and began to live an unrestricted life.

Aww. Jabez. A man identified by his mother’s pain.  

“There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother name him Jabez because his birth had been so painful.” I Chronicles 4:9 NLT

His mother saddled him with her pain, his very name was a reminder of his part in her pain. If it was not for him, she would not have suffered. Has anyone saddled you with their pain? Isn’t that the picture of an abuser? They want to others to suffer because of their pain. The cycle is when we then pass our pain onto others. At some point it must stop or it will continue through the generations.

Its clear Jabez decided enough was enough. He no longer wanted to be constrained by his mother’s pain so he called out to the God of Israel to break him free from the pain his mother placed on him.

“Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” I Chronicles 4:10 NLT

Jabez wanted to choose his future and not live out what was chosen for him.

Jabez wanted to live an unrestricted life. The God of Israel granted his request.

For most of my life I allowed other’s to determine my future. I allowed their pain to become mine. Almost 10 years ago I said no more. Though I was free of the abuser, I lived as if I was trapped in the glass tank with no way out.

It’s not real.

The glass shattered.

I was free.

To live unrestricted.

Limitless.

To live undaunted.

To live out my freedom.

Jesus paid a high price for my freedom so why would I continue to walk as though I was chained? As if I didn’t have a choice.

The enemy. Our enemy would love to keep us trapped by fear, keeping us thinking there’s no way out. As long as he has us trapped by fear we will never know love.

Fear and love cannot co-exist. It’s one or other. Never both.

Such love has no fear, because perfect love (Jesus) expels all fear. (I John 4:18 NLT)

Are you ready to live unrestricted? If so, tell me what it looks like to you?

Indulgence

IndulgenceInteresting word. Conjures up images of spoiled children, sneaking the last bit of chocolate or in my case, a spoon and a pint of buttered pecan ice cream. The root word indulge means to yield to, satisfy or gratify desires, to yield to the wishes or whims of another. Indulgence is the act or practice of indulging, treating someone with special kindness when it’s not a good thing.

Well then.

Sounds like my previous marriage. I yielded who I was and attempted to gratify his desires at his whim. On top of that I showered him with kindness when I should have thrown his behind in jail instead of appeasing him.

Personally I think the word has gotten a bad rap. The definition assumes the one you are yielding to is not trustworthy. Even the bible in II Peter 2:10 NAS says, “…and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires…” The Greek word Poreuomai is also translated as following, go on their way, journey, or pursued a course. Which really doesn’t sound bad by itself.

What if we changed who or what we indulged in? What if we catered to someone who would reciprocate our kindness, someone trustworthy?

What if I found my fulfillment and gratification in the extravagant love of the Father? What if all along that was the root problem? That I sought satisfaction in a man instead of the Creator of man.

What if indulgence is a good thing and something I should be doing every day?

We are to be on a journey of pursuing The One who knows my deepest darkest secrets and still loves me extravagantly. The One who wants to indulge me by pouring out His favor by showering me with kindness, who wants to pamper me even when I am acting like a spoiled child. The One whose love accepts me where I am today but willing to nudge me towards who He created me to be.

I want to be an indulger. To be one who yields and finds gratification in the whims of The One who is trustworthy.

What about you? Ready to indulge?

 

 

Let’s take a journey together

BeautyHope you don’t mind but I am changing things up. Instead of writing about the ugliness of abuse I would rather take you on a journey so you can experience how unbelievably amazing and extraordinary God is.

He is peace. He is love. He is good. He is beauty. All the things He wants you, His sons and daughters to experience.

Do you know how much He loves and adores you? I hope you do and even if you do or aren’t really sure that’s ok too. I don’t think any of us can truly grasp the extent and depth of His love. It’s way beyond John 3:16.

Before we begin. Find a quiet place. Leave your cell phone in the other room unless like me it’s your source for music. Close the door, lights down low and clear your mind of the clutter, shake off whatever’s tugging at you and relax. Put on your favorite music and close your eyes.

It’s time to soak in His presence.

Imagine with me….feel the oil of His love pour over you. Do you feel the warmth of His love? Do you hear His words as He speaks over you?

“My child, I was there when you were formed in your mama’s womb. I was there through your life, I saw you in the darkness and the light. I loved you even when you didn’t love me. Even now my love for you is limitless. Nothing and no one can snatch you out of my hand and though the mountains may move my love for you will never end. No matter what you have done or will do.”

What else is He saying just to you? Ask Him, do you like me?

Listen to the music…hear each chord, strum, the pounding of the drums and the bow across the strings. Peace.

Do you feel it? He speaks and it is. Peace, my child. No matter what turmoil is going on in your life, He fills you with peace and His goodness.

Beautiful.

Don’t question it or doubt it. Man or woman – take it in…beauty. His beauty fills you from the inside out, shining out of your eyes. Ephesians 5:26 in the Message say’s, His words evoke our beauty. When He speaks beauty into us our beauty comes out for all to see. And it has nothing to do with what you look like on the outside, but everything to do with the inside. What’s in our heart is what comes out. I would rather have beauty come out instead of ugly wouldn’t you?

Take a few moments and listen to what He wants to say to you. Remember, His words are never condemning. Now bask in his love, peace, goodness and beauty.

And while you are about your day, pass it on to those around.

Have a glorious day as you carry His presence throughout the day.

Are you in prison?

AbuseMy heart’s desire is to see women free from abuse. Not just physically, but spiritually. I’ve met women who were free physically however you could see in their eyes they were still trapped in the abuse.

It’s the prisoner mindset. The bars are gone, you are free to come and go as you please but you act as if you are still in prison. As if you are surrounded by bars on every side. I read something today which took me back in time when I was the helpless one. Remembering that though I was free from the abusive marriage I lived, acted and responded as if I was still in prison.

When I came to Texas I was a hot mess. Skittish, fearful and broken. My family surrounded me with love and care which I took advantage of. I allowed them to make decisions for me, drive me where I needed to go and pay my way. I was helpless, licking my wounds and bemoaning all that had happened to me. All I would talk about was the pain I endured to whomever would listen. I was stuck in the victim role and had no idea how to get out of it. Like a hamster stuck on the wheel I didn’t know how to get off.

It was all about me. I couldn’t hear anyone else. I was locked into the pain. And anyone who came around me got sucked into my darkness. It did separate out those who were true friends. My family. They were stuck with me. Actually they stuck by me even when I was at my worst and most pitiful.

I had a choice to make. Stay a victim and wallow in what was done to me or allow love to invade my life. As I allowed love to consume me, the fear fled. Fear could not stand in the face of love. As the fear fled love returned, power was restored and my mind cleared. (2 Timothy 1:7)

I crawled out of the pit of despair and decided to live life to the fullest. When I did I was given beauty instead of ashes, blessing instead of mourning, and praise instead of despair. God took the acorn of my life and planted me deep in His soil of love and I grew into an oak tree. Standing tall with deep roots all for His glory.

We can allow the abuse to define us or we can allow it refine us. I chose to let it refine me, to allow God to bring good and purpose out of the mess I made of my life. I’d take two steps forward and three steps back and sometimes you would find me in a muddy pit. It took time to heal and learn how to live in freedom.

Are you ready to begin your journey into freedom!

 

 

Beyond the Veil

Delight

By Shelley Shrader

She studied her face in the mirror. Her skin glistened like a newlywed bride showcasing a jubilant smile. Her joy came from the depth of knowing who she was and whose she was. Her eyes reflected beauty and worth like that of rare coins.

It was only a year ago she looked in the same mirror and saw a different person marked by shame, guilt and a deep sadness. But something wonderful and exciting happened to her this past year. It was a life-changing experience.

As a young girl, she dreamed of being wooed and romanced by the perfect handsome gentleman, somebody who would treat her like a queen. She longed to be swept off her feet by a man who loved and desired her more than life. Who relished every moment with her and gave her his undivided attention. She wondered if such a man existed.

One day, she closed her eyes and saw her knight in shining armor. He was dressed in a dazzling pure white robe and riding a white horse. She was wearing a stunning beautiful white gown fit for royalty. It resembled the Renaissance era; simple but elegant.

She wore a crown of white roses and solemnly stood in a downpour of rain. The small mudslide developing under her feet almost carried her away. But suddenly, she found herself swept up by this noble gentleman. He extended his hand to her and hoisted her up on his majestic steed. He carried her through the storm into a calm, peaceful, serene garden. There was not a dark cloud in sight. The atmosphere changed in a moment and she found herself surrounded by beauty, love and warmth. The sun shone down upon them in a beautiful ray of light.

She felt as though she was living inside a Thomas Kinkaid painting with all the vibrant color surrounding her, flowers and plants of every kind. They dismounted and strolled the garden holding hands. She thought to herself, this must be what life was like in the garden for Adam and Eve. So surreal. So beautiful.

He said something to her she will never forget, “My darling you are beautiful. I see no flaw in you. I want you to stop beating yourself up. You must learn to love yourself as I love you.” They continued walking and sharing their innermost secrets with one another. Then he turned to her, stopped and put his hand gently under her chin. He looked intently into her hazel eyes and simply said, “I made this world and everything in it. Including you, my beloved. You are the apple of my eye. Sing for joy in yourself.”

She was captivated by His presence and the words of life He spoke. It was like blinders had been lifted from her eyes. She now saw a different person when she looked in the mirror. She saw someone worth pursuing, irreplaceable and utterly beautiful. She saw Jesus. He is her Knight in shining armor who came to rescue her and make her whole again.

 

Shelley Shrader is a stay-at-home mom who loves The Lord. When she is not volunteering at her church she is dabbling in creative endeavors, scrapbooking, card making, bead work, and prophetic art. She has been active in ministry for 15 years as a Bible Study leader and Altar Prayer Minister.

Because Jesus set her free, she is passionate about leading others to freedom through a personal encounter with Christ. Currently she serves on the Freedom Ministry Team at Lighthouse Fellowship in Fort Worth, TX.

 

 

Being Leah

BrokenheartedLeah was the good girl, the plain one, constantly compared to her sister, Rachel. The beautiful one. Never quite good enough, reminded of it every day, “Why can’t you be like Rachel? Fix your hair, put on a little makeup, sit up straight and while you are at it change your dress.” Rachel never let Leah forget who the beautiful one was.

And now Jacob blamed Leah for Laban’s deceit. As if she had a choice. He made it clear he didn’t love her, like her and barely tolerated her. I would say I can’t imagine how she felt but that would not be the case. It starts with devastation which eventually leads to numbness. Taking on the burden that it must be you.

I can hear her cries each night as she pleads with God to bend down and hear her pain. We know He not only heard Leah. He saw her.

Genesis 29:31 NLT says, “The Lord saw Leah was unloved.” The Hebrew word for unloved is Sane′ which means to hate, hater, enemy. Whoa. Harsh words. The word is also translated as detest and hated her intensely.

Unloved was a nice way of saying Jacob hated her with a passion. How do you sleep with someone you hate? Wham. Bam. Thank you ma’am. Get on. Get off. Not an ounce of kindness or tenderness. Just doing his duty. And making sure she knew it.

You can see the progression as her hope faded after each of her children were born (Genesis 29:31 – 30:21)

Reuben: The Lord noticed my misery, and now my husband will love me. But he didn’t.

Simeon: The Lord heard I was hated and has given me another son. Even a son wasn’t enough.

Levi: Surely this time my husband will feel affection for me, since I have given him three sons. Not even then.

Judah: Now I will praise the Lord! He was her rock.

Gad (by Zilpah): How fortunate I am! I’m just lucky.

Asher (by Zilpah): What joy is mine! Now other women will celebrate with me. Maybe the women will be happy for me.

Issachar: God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband as a wife. Really?

Zebulun: God has given me a good reward. Now my husband will treat me with respect, for I have given him six sons. Not a chance.

Dinah: Judgment. What more is there to say?

She went from hoping her husband would love her to just maybe he would like her to praising God to lucky to other women being happy for her to rewarded for giving her husband to another woman to hoping for respect to judgment. Ouch. She was battered on every side.

What was it like being Leah? Hated. Rejected. Dishonored. Not even liked. How did it impact the way her kids treated her? I can answer that one. Though my ex-husband made it clear our children were to treat me with respect, they followed his behavior, not his words. They heard what he said and how he said it, followed by ‘I was joking’.

Proverbs 26:18 – 19 (NLT) Just as damaging as a madman shooting a deadly weapon is someone who lies to a friend (spouse or child) and then says, “I was only joking.”

The bible compares ‘just joking’ to getting shot by a madman whose only goal is to kill and maim in order to release their pain. The wound is buried so deep, the bleeding invisible to the naked eye until it’s released in a hail of gunfire. Which aptly describes Leah’s life.

We saw how her boys were impacted when they cut loose on Joseph and made sure he paid because daddy loved Rachel and the spoiled brat Joseph.

Jacob blamed Leah for being the oldest, for her father’s betrayal. It never occurred to him that he was reaping what he sowed in his life. Deception and manipulation.

One day Jacob had an encounter with the God of his father and grandfather. I wonder if Jacob changed his treatment of Leah after his night of wrestling with God. Surely if he could reconcile with his brother Esau, just maybe his heart softened towards Leah.

And if it did, was it too late? After years of emotional abuse could she open her heart to trust again? No matter her relationship with Jacob, her relationship with God was firm. She knew Him as the God who sees, hears and knows. Her. When her world caved in she did all she knew to do…Praise the One who heals broken hearts.