Tall meadow grass blows gently in the wind and sunlight shimmers and flickers behind white clouds in the deep blue, almost purple sky. I slowly walk forward allowing the smells in the breeze to brush gently against my nostrils and my heart rises and falls between sensations of excitement and peace. Single trees in the distance bend slightly with the gentle force of the breeze as their leaves sing in unison like a rustling choir. My mind wanders to where I am, where I am going, but I have the epiphany of the futility of linear time. I am always asking what the point is to everything and in this place, there is no point. Beauty is the reason. Peace is the reason.
The meadow of wind, grass, and lone trees is the place of comfort. The wind of the Ruach gently blowing against me and filling my lungs. The gentle brush of the breeze comforts my heart to know that the invisible Being is manifest like a loving parent gently caressing the face of a child.
Suddenly, a shot of fear and shame rises within me. My spirit realizes that YHVH is drawing near. My own wretchedness comes to the forefront of my mind and my eyes well with tears. I hear His steps approaching but knowing that there is no place hide in a meadow, I lower to my knees and my eyes become fixed on the ground. The terror of His presence consumes me and my eyes slam shut. My heart races and my ears ring with the blood surging into my mind. The stress. Oh the stress. My hands tighten and my knuckles turn white. The entirety of my muscles lock in a frozen, hot tension.
“Cole,” a voice whispers to me as His footsteps slow to a halt in front of me. “Cole, why are you afraid?”
My jaw locks and my throat turns to a desert of terrified reverence. I feebly attempt to open my mouth and speak but nothing responds as my mind races with flashbacks of sins, lusts, and cruelty. I wince at the flashing imagery. I have to answer. The King of Kings has spoken and is seeking an answer from me. Despite the overwhelming shame, I manage to eek out a lowly response.
“Please….,” I whisper through tears. “Please forgive….. No it’s too much.”
I collapse my face into my hands. My eyes run hot and the skin on my face swims in a salty slick of tears and sweat. My entire existence is before me in a moment of shame-drenched revelation.
“You cry not because of who I am, but because of who you are,” YHVH says. “You cry not because of your reverence for me, but because of your wretchedness. I know you and your sin. What I wish to have an answer for is why you continue in your wretchedness when my blood can cover it? Why do you continue to struggle when the answer is always before you?”
My heart tears in two at His words. Why do I not trust? Why do I continue in my suffering when I can submit and receive absolution? My shame is a twisted mix of arrogance and penance. I believe that if I suffer enough, if I rob myself of joy, if I could only fix all my wrongdoings THEN I might be able to stand before Him. What a crippling and finely honed lie to keep me in bondage!!
Barely discernable as language, I cry, “Please forgive me, My Lord and My God. You have shown me so much mercy but I haven’t embraced it and walked in it. You are…….you are…..”
The power emanating from His body changes from an overwhelming regal glory, to an irresistible invitation to mercy. A shimmering energy like a healing lightning flows around my body and neck gyrates in pleasure and the sensation continues down my spine into my arms and then into my fingers and toes. My tears run dry and my breath slows to a calm rhythm. I ponder whether I should lift my head or to continue to stare at the ground. Peace flows around me and I feel Him beckoning to raise my head.
I feel my neck tendons creak as they release the tension of anguish and I slowly raise my eyes. What I gaze upon is beyond human language, beyond comprehension. My heart melts within my chest and the tears return to my eyes with a different composition. Tears of adoration flows down my cheeks. Tears of peace from one who has receive earth-shattering kindness and mercy. Love begins to consume me and every cell in my body feels shalom. He holds out His glorious hand and raises me up to stand. My mind cannot comprehend what it is taking in. My back begins to feel the pressure of two arms embracing, pulling me further into the glorious radiance. I resist but quickly succumb to the invitation. Apprehension leaves me and I collapse with my face on His mighty shoulder. I never want to leave this place of grace and acceptance.
He turns me toward the warmth of the sun which seems insignificant to the warmth and light standing next to me. He puts His hand on my back and as He takes a step forward, He presses against my shoulder in a silent commandment to join Him on the journey.
As I did as a young child hearing about YHVH walking with men, I remember my imaginations of wandering the in Garden with Him and the insurmountable task of imagining what His presence would be like. One of my favorite hymns as I sat in a small town church was “In the Garden.” The imagery in the song of a quiet and peaceful place of simple fellowship. No pretention, no eyes of other people.
Luke 5:16 “But Yeshua Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.”
Surrounded by His creation, I seek in my mind for the place of fellowship where my loving Father and I can be alone. I recall the times without Him in my life and how He delivered me. How He left the 99 and came after the 1. The warmth of His mercy and His arms surrounding a scared and scarred lamb who thought he knew better.
Praise be to His glorious name for His mercy endures forever.
The Father is taking me in a new direction and His latest endeavor within my heart is to attack something that I have propped up for years; how I hope others see me. This concept has been an idol within my heart since I was a little boy. I want to be accepted and loved by those who met me and I want to feel as though who I am is good in the eyes of others. Validation. He has brought me now to a place of realization that I have no control over how others receive me and for the first time in what seems like forever, I feel free. To lay down that idol of co-dependent need for external approval has been beyond liberation although the process has been personally terrifying. I feel naked when in all reality, I have exchanged my heavy, ineffective armor I made myself for His lighter and stronger armor forged in the Messiah’s blood.
I don’t know about you, but I realized that I really, really stink at making my own armor. When I took it off at His gentle and loving beckoning, I realized that it was lined with fig leaves. Fig leaves, as I am sure you recall, are what Adam and Eve attempted to cover their sin with in the Garden of Eden right after their fall. I was trying to defend myself with my own means of self-preservation. I wanted the outward appearance of wholeness, but that desire led to a life of fear and the greatest fear that manifested was the fear of being discovered as less than perfect. I know, silly right? But it was my own definition of perfection I was not living up to. I had an image in my head as to what my perfect self would be and unfortunately, I never saw that image looking back at me in the mirror.
What I am finding out though, now that I am more willing to be honest with myself about who I am, is that I am willing to go places both physically and spiritually that others are not willing to tread. If you sit with me for a counseling session, you will get nothing but deep questions and a push for emotional honesty. Trust me, the Father has done the same difficult, and at times torturous, process with me.
Recently, I laid in bed in the blackness of my room, comfortable under my blanket, and my eyes began to open slowly. After some fluttering to consciousness, my mind began to wander as it usually does without the distractions of life. My heart and mind began to intermingle and heady logic slammed into emotional pain. I cringed at the impact as memories of pain, shameful acts I had committed, critical words spoken against me emerged from my heart. My mind began to defend itself by praying to the Father repentantly for all the sins I had committed in my life.
“I have so much sin and junk in me. I’m so sorry I put it there.”
My heart sank into my guts as I realized the damage I had done to my brain and my spirit and I began confessing the sins of my past in repetitious fashion, repeating apologies and repentance prayers over and over again.
“Why are you telling me this?” a voice said stopping my thoughts in their tracks. “Think about what you are saying.”
My mind fell silent as a new perspective emerged. I dove deeper into myself, passing excuses, pain, and illusions. I felt as though I was crawling deeper into a cave. Then the realization slowly arose up around me like a mist rising out of the cracks in the rocks. My repentance was not repentance. When I would spiral into these mindsets and ideas about my sin, I was handing YHVH an excuse as to why He is not getting my best and why He shouldn’t use me for anything.
Sure, I was confessing and I absolutely felt awful about my sin. But in all reality, I wasn’t moving AWAY from my sin. I was passively handing the Father an excuse as to why He shouldn’t use me to build His Kingdom. I was letting my flesh and sin speak for me when He would come to walk with me.
Exodus 3:11 “But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?"
What I brought to the Father every time the Spirit gently manifested was my self-pity, not my sin. Not everyone is going to have a visually dramatic purpose like Moses in the Body of Messiah but all of us should be doing something and growing more and more like Him every day. My repetitious apologetic prayers were an attempt to avoid the real anguish of my heart that leads to true repentance. Sin should hurt the soul of a follower of Yeshua and repentance is the indulgence of that pain.
2 Corinthians 7:10 – “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.”
Expressing self-pity and regret is not repentance. The kind of sorrow that brings repentance places me in His presence to account for my disobedience and that should be an AWFUL experience. Even though He forgives and His grace is the most precious and necessary element on the planet, my heart should be moved to tears at the thought of hurting Him and myself. Self-pity, in essence, is an unfit and unclean sin offering.
A relationship is built on vulnerability. I am vulnerable to Him and to His will for my life. His disapproval of my actions cuts deeply within me and His love reaches a place within my soul that only He knows exists. But for Him to reach that place, I have to open my arms, heart, and mind to His presence. But His holiness will bring to light my lack of holiness and the feeling of shame can be overwhelming. I am learning just how much courage it takes to go through this walk. Not to face danger, but to face shame. It is a scary thing to see yourself in a state that is less than optimal.
If I were going to dinner with a king and was preparing to sit at a table with him, I would hope that I would show him the proper amount of respect for both his position and his invitation to dine with him by dressing for the occasion. Alas, we mere mortals have no such dress for the Heavenly Father’s table. While we walk the streets with our fellow beggars, we can compare and contrast ourselves with one another and get slight rises and falls in our self-perception as we pass those with more or less than ourselves. But to respond to an invitation to attend a king’s dinner means that we are so far out of our comfort zone and we already know that nothing we have compares to the majesty of the palace or the crown. Merely attending means that we must come face to face with our meagerness.
The courage it takes to enter into the throne room with the rags that barely covers my nakedness not only means looking upon His glory, but also seeing the contrast of our two stations and realizing that I am so much less than He is. His presence is a direct assault on my ego and arrogance.
For me to bring self-pity and regret instead of sorrow is in fact a means to not honor Him for who He is. It is not worshipful nor is it even respectful. Acknowledging the contrast between us is a form of worship. To see Him as anything less than His true station in the heavens is arrogance on my part.
My Father, I pray that I finally can express the sorrow that leads to effective repentance. I am so sorry for bringing less than my full heart to you. I pray for your grace and forgiveness for my arrogance and ego as it has robbed you of your proper place of glory in my life. I bow my knee to you in sorrow and humility. Remove my transgressions from me and my life. My weakness is for your glory. Please use me for your will and to build your Kingdom. I will be bold and courageous to enter your presence and to face you no matter what it reveals about myself. I bow my head, my heart, and my spirit to you. Please be patient with me. I love you, my King and my Father. My Rescuer.
My chest almost feels like there is a warm throw blanket being wrapped around my soul. To recall the music, smells, and flavors in their newness and original impact on my senses makes me wander to a place that can only be described as myself within myself. It’s who I truly get to be if even just for a moment of a flash of an ethereal scene in my own head. Innocence. A version of life that is simple, optimistic, and just plain beautiful.
I remember watching movies or playing games as a child and imagining myself enduring the hardships or having some type of special ability that no one else had that would make life easier. Super-strength, the ability to fly, the ability to heal myself and others were some of my favorite adventures within my own head. In fact, I wanted that so badly that I refused to think like anyone else even though that decision came with a price. I wanted the best out of life. Still do. My imagination has been a tremendous tool as well as a heavy burden at times. I can picture within myself the perfect scene of beauty and warmth, but the reemergence from that place of beauty into real life again is a traumatic experience.
Before my wife and I had children, my mind would drift off to scenes in a home with a roaring fire, a warm glow from a candle and rustic furnishings scattered around the room. The scene would then come to switch from the interior to the exterior of the cabin-like home. Snow is freshly fallen and a bright moon shines down giving the woods and small yard a cold blue shine. As the scene pans up, I come into view through the panes of glass. The contrast between the blue shine of the moon and the warm, yellow glow pouring from the window meet one another in a gorgeous contrast. Peering inside, I see myself holding a baby while my wife comes up from behind me with her arm on my shoulder and she kisses the little one on the head. His little eyes are open as if he is calming down from a crying spell. His little hand is gently resting on his chin while his head is resting on my chest. I walk back and forth gently swaying back and forth shushing him. As if it was a movie soundtrack, quiet and gentle music wafts into the scene and brings a feeling of peace. I pass out of the window frame and the daydream ends.
I remember telling my wife of that scene when we were newly married and I remember her response to the beautiful portrait I had painted in my head.
“You’re so romantic,” she said with a smile on her face.
I had never considered myself romantic because that term had come to mean something else in my mind. I always thought of romance as the deliberate effort to show affection and make someone feel special. An indulgence of the warm emotions regarding a man and a woman, if you will. I never considered that I was a romantic until I really began seeing my thoughts my imaginings with the question of romance in mind. I wonder even now why I can come up with such beautiful scenes but refuse to make them a reality for another person, namely my wife.
Am I withering because I refuse to allow myself to be beautiful? I am not what most people would call a jovial person. I have a dark persona because I do not allow myself too much joy or happiness. I am trying to protect the beauty within myself from being placed in contrast to the ugliness of the world. So while I intentionally attempt to protect that place of beauty in my mind and in my heart, I eventually shut myself off from seeing or experiencing anything beautiful in the world. I hide my light under a basket rather than letting it shine.
I don’t remember a single event that drastically changed my attitude toward looking with my heart but I did learn over my youth that I was not safe to do so. I learned so much about many dark subjects this year and I began to see how much I had allowed my reaction of disappointment and disillusionment to affect my approach to the world. When the imaginations of my heart and mind are things of such beauty and then I fear bringing that beauty into an environment that I felt would kill it, I not only put the light out for myself but also the world dark world.
Now I have no delusions of grandeur that would tell me that what I am hiding from the world is going to cause a global paradigm shift away from cruelty and into a new age of beauty and peace. However, I do not know what the Father in Heaven will do with what I produce. My beauty is a part of me and burying the talent does not produce light and beauty. In essence, I am hiding His light from myself most of all.
My biggest issue within myself is not my darkness. It’s my relationship with my light and beauty. I don’t know what caused me to hide behind shame and bury the gifts of the Father beneath self-loathing, but I can tell you that I miss being beautiful. I miss being light. I miss my innocence. I want them back and I want the world to see them. I miss expecting good things to happen when I go outside. I miss being able to play without a drop of concern whether it was the best use of my time. I miss undiluted joy.
Heavenly Father, you created me for your purpose. You created me to love you and to love my brother and sister humans as we are all your children. I repent that I allowed my light to be shadowed by fear. I repent that I allowed the awfulness of this world to mar what you made in me. I chose to focus on the world rather than you. May the Enemy be kept from me in my vulnerability right now as I taste of your goodness. Fill me with your light and your Presence. I can’t go another day dwelling in darkness while you stand willingly ready to offer your deliverance and beauty. I receive it, Lord Yeshua.
“But [Elijah] himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough; now, O YHVH, take my life , for I am not better than my fathers.’” 1 Kings 19:4
From the title of this post, you probably have visions of a pity party or a melancholy exploration of someone else’s pain. To a degree you are correct but the end result is good news, so stick with me.
I am a man who has struggled his entire life with what the Father wants him to do. I remember even as a child staring off into the distance in a moment of existential wonder and pondering what I was and who He was. It felt as though my brain tapped into another realm. I use the illustration that it felt like I was looking out of my eye holes instead of my eyes. I look back and realize that in that short moment, I was touching eternity because I attempted to understand what the entire universe was. However, it scared me to no end how vast everything felt and how small it made me feel.
In the past few months, the Father has been revealing so much to me about myself. He is leading me to explore my pain and the sins of my past in order to confront the lies this type of behavior creates. With a steady stream of gentle encouragement, He is encouraging me to see His provision and to finally submit my wounded spirit to Him. When I felt myself being called to the ministry, I was vastly under-qualified by the world’s standards and definitely by the Bible’s standards. Congregational ministry was a challenge that I had not expected and many pitfalls arose that triggered so much of my pain and shame. Eventually, I broke under His hand and relinquished the position of pastor. It was a very difficult decision but thankfully it was made for me.
An enemy was dwelling within me that hid itself behind my personality to well that I thought it was a part of me. When it was confronted, the mask fell off and the truth come forward that my shame had been revealed. No, it wasn’t a demon, and no, it wasn’t a result of abuse. It was a simple and painful place of pain that was the result of self-rejection. When you observe the world and the universe, you see a lot of flaws inherent in the fallen world. I see how sin has wrecked this world and to see the same sin within myself and to face my fallen nature has been too much to handle for so long. When I began pealing back the layers of that emotion, I was both surprised and not surprised at what I found. Pride and arrogance was dwelling there.
I didn’t measure up to my own standard of perfection. I realized that my pain came from my pride and shame eating each other. It was a weird revelation because I muttered to myself,
“Oh will one of you win, already! Hurry up and decide who will come out on top so that I can be who I am going to be.”
What a weird reaction to this battle. I didn’t ask that they both be killed. I asked or the winner to step forward. I realized that I was content in my brokenness. HOW MESSED UP IS THAT?!! I spoke quietly to YHVH,
“Oh my Father, this simply will not do. Why am I choosing the winner of two losers?”
I realized in that moment that shame was winning. Because pride would never allow me to have the revelation. But shame would not let me heal, either. Shame wanted me to stay broken. I was in bondage. Whenever I was truly vulnerable and acted how the father wanted me to, the way I was created to, I would attack myself and the Adversary was more than happy to pile on.
“Who you are is just garbage. I suck so much! Why do I even try?!!”
Shame had been revealed and worst of all, it had been accepted. I wanted to lay down and die. I wanted to stop everything and stop the ministry the Father had made me for. I can lay down all of my motivation and vitality and adopt the predictable and mundane and my soul will slowly wither away into a depressed cycle of “later, rinse, repeat” that will never get me clean. Well, the heck with that!
Father, I submit this pain to you. I hate the feeling of powerlessness to heal myself but that feeling always points me back to you. I have suffered and destroyed myself and my calling for so long that I want to function. I want to walk in peace. I want meaningful relationships. I want a good marriage and I want to be a good father, like you.
I have done everything to destroy your presence in my life. I have pushed you away, chosen unclean things, and ignored your conviction of my spirit. I just wanted to die. But you refused to end my pain with death and that frustrated me so much. Why won’t you just reject me like I have rejected myself? Why won’t you tell me that I am worthless and why won’t you just cast me away?
John 12:25 - "He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.”
To quote Captain Jack Sparrow, “Well that’s just maddeningly unhelpful.”
I want you to destroy this life that I hate and now you are telling me that because I hate it, I get to keep it? You know what this reveals in me, Father? It reveals that I don’t truly know you. I don’t know what you can do. I don’t know what to do. You have broken my will. What now?
Psalms 56:13 - “For You have delivered my soul from death, indeed my feet from stumbling, So that I may walk before God In the light of the living.”
Live….. Breathe……. Pray…….. Worship……. Serve………. Obey……. Love……..
All of my pain is designed to point me to a healer. Darkness is designed to make us seek the Light. Sorrow is designed to lead to repentance. And love is what He does and is.
You who are suffering, seek His face and His healing. Seek to understand His heart and how much He loves you if you can. You can’t understand how much He loves you, but try anyway.
I write this not to sound self-righteous. I speak from my perspective to give an idea of my internal monologue when doing what I was placed on this earth to do. I believe that every human in the service of our King has to ask themselves difficult questions no matter the specifics of their Yah-given purpose and talents He has bestowed upon them. No believer can automatically assume that they are serving Yah perfectly in their own power. A servant of the Most High who never examines himself is dangerous. The pitfalls of human nature and the falseness of this world make us rely on Yeshua’s gracious blood every day as we continue our walk with Him.
I stand in front of a microphone in my basement about to go on the air of my radio show or wait in the wings before I speak to a congregation with the expressed hope that I have heard the direction of the Holy Spirit and I pray silently in abject terror. Please let my voice speak His words and not mine. Is this the message He wanted spoken? Did I hear His heart and find what He wanted me to find? Did I see what He wanted me to see? Did I study enough? Did my personal struggle get in the way of the message so that I am speaking to myself rather than the congregation? What words do I use to begin? How do I break into this subject? Will I hit too hard or not hard enough? Will I turn someone away from the faith or will I bring someone new to it? The eternal ramifications of what I am preparing to do come flooding into me.
I have struggled with discouragement often when putting together teachings and I ponder whether anyone will listen or that the desired outcome would come to fruition. I feel the emotion created by the Scriptures I am searching, the beauty of the language, the emotions of the biblical characters as they struggle or triumph, but most importantly, the leading of the Holy Spirit as the words and focus of the teaching becomes clearer. All of my college education, life experience, and observations of Creation come pouring out of my fingers into the structure of what will be a message from the Most High through me.
All of the probing of my meager efforts and the examination of my fleshly motives, biases, bitterness, and rebellious thoughts show that I can alter the message the Father wants to speak through me to His people, whether one person at a time or a larger number that has invited me to speak. I am far from a perfect man and I recall Isaiah in the throne room realizing his unclean lips and the unclean lips of his people. I pray to the Father to let the message He is giving to rest with me first. Let me hear the corrections and convictions He is bringing to His people first. I ask myself if I can set my personal struggles to the side long enough for the Father’s will to be done through a vessel that is actively being repaired. I realize that is the wrong question to ask. Can I submit my uncleanness to Him to be remedied before I go to His people just as Isaiah did? I ask forgiveness for my blatant sin and repent. My thoughts go back to those who struggled in the faith in the Scriptures and I recall seeing the Father use broken vessels throughout the narrative of the Word.
The terror of the thought of maligning the Father’s character pulses in my chest every time I am led to speak His Word. Is this terror supposed to be with me always or is it a product of the flesh rebelling against the will of the Father? I was once praying and confessed to Him how scared I was to preach a specific sermon. After much shaking, He answered, “The day you aren’t terrified to preach is the day you are no longer speaking my message.”
We all have a choice in life. Do we listen to our flesh and our fallen desire to be free from His rule, or do we overcome our shame, fear, and pride to serve Him? If we are wholehearted in our efforts to love Him, serve Him, and serve His people, our personal weakness becomes the very vessel for His glory to be carried in.
2 Corinthians 12:9 “And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Messiah may dwell in me.”
I had a question sent to me from a youth who sought to know how to handle the transition from a youth camp, a conference, or event in which they have genuinely been in the presence of the Most High and then to return home and have the fire go out.
When we return home, we are not just returning to a building or a familiar place where we feel safe. We are returning to a context. We are returning to real life and real temptations and real issues in relationships. And those are full of what we are going to talk about in this post.
Isn't it strange that princes and kings
And clowns that caper in sawdust rings
And common folk like you and me
Are the builders of eternity.
To each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass and a book of rules;
And each must make, ere time is flown,
A stumbling-block or a stepping-stone.
R. L. Sharpe, Major Edward Bowes, "Verses I like," Garden City Publishing Company, Inc., 1937.
The Hebrew words for this subject are:
Cawshall – To Stumble
MikShall – Stumbling Block
And the Greek is:
Scandalon – moral or ethical falling away, snare –
A situation, decision, or attitude that causes someone to stumble, or falter morally or ethically; keeps an individual from righteousness.
The first place this phrase is used is in:
Leviticus 19:14 - 'You shall not curse a deaf man nor place a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the LORD.”
And this principle is FOUR VERSES before Leviticus 19:18 in which we are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves.
The verse regarding causing another to stumble is one of the commandments against out and out cruelty and inevitably it makes us search ourselves and see what in us would cause us to exploit such a deficiency. The blind, the deaf, the mentally handicapped are human beings but when we have a brother or sister who does not have what humans are designed to have, we are presented with a choice. The choice becomes whether we choose to illustrate our compassion and loyalty, or demonstrate our ugliness and cruelty.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks in front of the Hebrews today is Conspiracy Theories. The Father commanded His people not to look at Conspiracy Theories because they instill fear and take their eyes off of Him and place them on the world and the Adversary’s activities.
Isaiah 8: 11-15 “For thus the Lord spoke to me with mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, "You are not to say, 'It is a conspiracy!' In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. "It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread. "Then He shall become a sanctuary; But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, And a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. "Many will stumble over them, Then they will fall and be broken; They will even be snared and caught."
I have spoken with people who never talk about the Messiah but talk about who the Anti-Messiah is ad nauseum. I find this truly sad and I see now why the Father does not want us looking to anything but Him and His glory because anything else is unworthy of our attention that we owe Him!
When we refuse to change our direction and focus back to Him, He will inevitably place something in our path to tell us that we are walking toward destruction.
Jeremiah 6:21 “Therefore, thus says the LORD, "Behold, I am laying stumbling blocks before this people. And they will stumble against them, Fathers and sons together; Neighbor and friend will perish."
What are the stumbling blocks truly?
Ezekiel 14: 1-6 “Then some elders of Israel came to me and sat down before me. 2 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 3 "Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts and have put right before their faces the stumbling block of their iniquity. Should I be consulted by them at all? 4 "Therefore speak to them and tell them, 'Thus says the Lord God, "Any man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the Lord will be brought to give him an answer in the matter in view of the multitude of his idols, 5 in order to lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel who are estranged from Me through all their idols."' 6 "Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord God, "Repent and turn away from your idols and turn your faces away from all your abominations.”
The uncleanness within us is what draws us to sinful practices and idols. We have emotions, urges, and strongholds that stand against the truth of the Father in our hearts and in so following the impulses tied to these, we submit our will to them and bow to them.
Matthew 16:23 “But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's."
Looking to compromise the Messiah’s will power and will power is what the stumbling block comes directly against whether it is the will power to do right or the will power to do the wrong thing. People actually don’t like the word “willpower” because it draws up a call to action or a change of behavior.
Willpower exists. Some have more than others and some misuse theirs for a personal purpose and that purpose may be malevolent. However, it exists. I use to believe that I had no willpower until I did a study on self-control.
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
We hear self-control and immediately think of everything we have to KEEP ourselves from. However, willpower is inevitably part of the equation. We can’t just keep ourselves from doing something. We have to push ourselves to act against our flesh and the Adversary to strive toward righteousness.
David knew he was going to defeat Goliath but he still had to stride onto the battlefield!
We do have to tell ourselves no, but if that’s all we do, we will never do anything! So we need both edges of the sword. Our willpower HAS GOT TO BE TIED TO THE LOVE OF YHVH!
Matthew 18:7 "Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!”
When we judge, we sour the forgiveness and grace we all have been shown and attempt to sour a brother’s spirit and introduce strife into their lives and into the assembly.
Romans 14:13 “But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall give praise to God." So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way. I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.”
The Romans whom he is speaking to are coming out of gross idolatry and are being convicted of the Spirit and have memories that Jews don’t have. They have blood on their hands that the Jews don’t have. They have partaken in practices that are against YHVH. I understand now why some people keep themselves from certain elements of our culture. To come from the Occult and into the light means that I have memories tied to the filthy practices of the world and to me personally, I have come to really guard my eyes during the months of September and October because of Halloween. I focus in another area. It hurts my eyes to see and hear the names of pagan gods from my Hebrew brothers who use these names of deities frivolously during these months. The names of Samhain and other terms tied to that season touch something deeply painful in me. I hear it more from them than I hear it from the pagans. I love hearing about Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot! The light!
With regard to stumbling blocks, you will never get someone to turn against their own personal moral, ethical, and theological convictions. You have seen it among ourselves when we try to point out elements of knowledge that we would like to share among one another and our brothers and sisters turn their heads from it.
People may listen to your beliefs and may adopt your views on certain subjects and viewpoints, but strong people are not going to go against their gut instinct and yes, that it is a real scriptural principle. What is needed when these differences in viewpoints show up is love and loyalty to one another.
Revelation 2:14 'But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality."
Are we Hebrews placing stumbling blocks before our brothers and the world by our bitterness, paranoia, and general attitudes of condescension? Through our generalized attitude and spirit in this movement, are we turning weak brothers away because of our arrogance?
1 Corinthians 8: 1-3 “Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. 2 If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; 3 but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.”
When we puff ourselves up, we are making ourselves arrogant and being arrogant is the first step toward stumbling.
Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.”
1 John 2:10 “The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.”
If we humble ourselves and tie our willpower to YHVH’s love for this world, we will not stumble.
“The Father on the day of judgment will ask you one question. Did you believe that I loved you?”
If we can answer that question with yes, then we will move further under His wings and fly with Him wherever He takes us to preach light to a darkened world.
Isaiah 57:14 “And it will be said, "Build up, build up, prepare the way, Remove every obstacle out of the way of My people."
The phrase “God is incomprehensible” speaks to man’s understanding of an infinite, all-powerful Being. This may be one of the reasons that we must have a relationship with Him that is based completely on faith. Faith in this context could be described as a desperate reach out to draw near to something that we cannot fully understand, comprehend, or even fully interact with due to His indescribable holiness.
Romans 11:33 says,” O the depth of the riches and the wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments! How unsearchable are his ways!”
By saying this, Paul is illustrating that man will never fully comprehend what or who YHVH is.
Directly after the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 verse 22 through 24, YHVH tells the children of Israel,
“Adonai said to Moshe, ‘Here is what you are to say to the people of Isra’el: ‘You yourselves have seen that I spoke with you from heaven. You are not to make with me gods of silver, nor are you to make gods of gold for yourselves. For me you need make only an altar of earth; on it you will sacrifice your burnt offerings, peace offerings, sheep, goats and cattle. In every place where I cause my name to be mentioned, I will come to you and bless you.’”
Idolatry is many things and one of those things is our weak attempt to take the spiritual realm and make it physical.
I have said before that if you have a God that you fully understand, you actually have an idol.
God did not want the children of Israel to make an image of Him to be like anything on the planet. He only commanded that an altar be built. In this way, He stays above the consciousness of man and remains a spirit.
“My Father has handed over everything to me. Indeed, no one fully knows the Son except the Father, and no one fully knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” (Matthew 11: 27 CJB)
This is yet another verse that proves to me that Yeshua is deity and when I try to fully comprehend the aspects of this, I inevitably have to forgive myself because of my humanness. I believe in faith what the Messiah said and faith is the life's blood our relationship with this omnipotent Being.
Despite our intellectual, philosophical, and theological shortcomings, 1 John tells us exactly how we can come to know God and His Messiah:
“The way we can be sure we know him is if we are obeying his commands.” (1 John 2: 3 CJB)
John then goes on to tell us that we have known Him from the beginning (1 John 2: 12-14 CJB).
In saying this with the context of verse 3 of 1 John 2, the beginning of time is found in the Torah and therefore God has revealed His attributes through His word. Yet, we are promised that we will see God and the Messiah revealed when His Kingdom comes.
1 Peter 4:13” Rather, to the extent that you share the fellowship of the Messiah’s sufferings, rejoice; so that you will rejoice even more when his Sh’khinah is revealed.”
At this point in human existence, we cannot fully comprehend God except by how He reveals Himself. One day we will see Him and know Him more fully. So now, let us be humble in His presence and among our brothers and sisters. Let us think, behave, and interact with one another with the mindset that we are forgiven by an unspeakable presence and have been offered grace straight from His hand.
What is even more incomprehensible to me, even more than who He is, is that He offered grace to me. He entered time and space and died for me. He chose to provide a way for me to dwell in His presence every day and to walk toward His Kingdom.
This is incomprehensible.
Abuse – The fruit of a toxic heart.
In this article, we will be primarily be discussing the abuse of Verbal, Mental, and Physical Abuse. We will write an article on Sexual Abuse. That subject deserves its own level of focus.
Abuse is a very unpopular subject because of the very nature of the word. The idea of causing harm and pain to another or to oneself is the udder nadir of humanity and is what so many humans have suffered. As I travel and counsel with families and individuals, I often see the emotional and spiritual wreckage left in the wake of abusive people. Former boyfriends and girlfriends, parents, spouses, brothers and sisters are usually the relationship roles that have the potential to carry the most destructive abuse. Any human relationship has the potential to be toxic.
In this blog post, we are going to look at what the Bible says about this behavior and how the victims can understand what has happened to them as well as abusers who see their spiritual fruit coming forth in relationships and must seek out the appropriate avenues to cease their destructive tendencies.
If you are a couple, family, or individual reading this, I will begin by saying this: if you find these habits in your life, either in yourself or in someone else, something needs to change RIGHT NOW. Take an honest look at your relationships, at yourself, and others so that you can begin to take inventory of your actions and the actions of others done to you. You cannot look at the actions of others without looking at your own. Many victims have suffered in the past and have now assumed the role of abuser because of the lies beaten into them by their abusers. The cycle must stop.
What does the Bible say about abuse?
Greek – Loidoros – Railer, reviler, abusive.
1 Corinthians 5:11 - But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler --not even to eat with such a one.
1 Corinthians 6:10 “nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Hebrew – Madown- strife, contention
Proverbs 6:14 “Who with perversity in his heart continually * devises evil, Who spreads strife.
Proverbs 15:18 “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute.”
Proverbs 21:9 “It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”
The goal of the abuser is to create the abused into their own image. They want the object of the abuse to be the subject of their own self-hatred.
If the abuser can make the abused question their value as a human being, then the abuser becomes the master. They become the oppressor and anything this individual does to better themselves is immediately degraded or forbidden. They want you to conform to what they want you to be.
Roland Manny – “When you conform, everyone loves you but you.”
Verbal, Emotional, Mental –
Threats, name-calling, mockery, exclusion, bullying, humiliation.
The chief weapon of an emotional abuser is shame. Guilt is regret over behavior. Shame is regret over existence.
The term "Gaslighting" comes from the 1938 British play "Gas Light" wherein a husband attempts to drive his wife crazy using a variety of tricks causing her to question her own perceptions and sanity. Gas Light was made into a movie both in 1940 and 1944.
Gaslighting – “Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse where the abuser manipulates situations repeatedly to trick the victim into distrusting his or her own memory and perceptions. Gaslighting is an insidious form of abuse. It makes victims question the very instincts that they have counted on their whole lives, making them unsure of anything. Gaslighting makes it very likely that victims will believe whatever their abusers tell them regardless as to their own experience of the situation. Gaslighting often precedes other types of emotional and physical abuse because the victim of Gaslighting is more likely to remain in other abusive situations as well.” - A Healthy Place
Gaslighting can be described as treachery. Treachery is a betrayal of trust or deceptive action or nature.
They use the closeness of the relationship to oppress or control.
It could be said that David experienced gaslighting and he hated it because ultimately, it is a betrayal.
Psalm 55: 12-15 “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, Then I could bear it; Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, Then I could hide myself from him. But it is you, a man [i]my equal, my companion and my [j]familiar friend; We who had sweet [k]fellowship together Walked in the house of God in the throng. Let [l]death come deceitfully upon them; Let them go down alive to Sheol, For evil is in their dwelling, in their midst."
The National Domestic Abuse Hotline-
There are a variety of gaslighting techniques that an abusive partner might use:
Withholding: the abusive partner pretends not to understand or refuses to listen. Ex. “I don’t want to hear this again,” or “You’re trying to confuse me.”
Countering: the abusive partner questions the victim’s memory of events, even when the victim remembers them accurately. Ex. “You’re wrong, you never remember things correctly.”
Blocking/Diverting: the abusive partner changes the subject and/or questions the victim’s thoughts. Ex. “Is that another crazy idea you got from [friend/family member]?” or “You’re imagining things.”
Trivializing: the abusive partner makes the victim’s needs or feelings seem unimportant. Ex. “You’re going to get angry over a little thing like that?” or “You’re too sensitive.”
Forgetting/Denial: the abusive partner pretends to have forgotten what actually occurred or denies things like promises made to the victim. Ex. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” or “You’re just making stuff up.”
Childhood Emotional Neglect – Emotional Neglect is different than Abuse. Abuse implies an action whereby the abuser is proactively tearing down the other person emotionally. Neglect is passive where the person is not receiving something they need to develop or be fed emotionally. It’s a passive abuse in that there is something that is needed that is not being provided.
Psych Central – “It’s a parent’s failure to respond enough to a child’s emotional needs…. Since it’s not a parent’s act but a parent’s failure to act, it’s not an event. It’s not something that happens to a child; it’s something that fails to happen for a child. Therefore, it’s not visible, tangible or memorable.”
“There are far too many silent sufferers. Not because they don't yearn to reach out, but because they've tried and found no one who cares.”― Richelle E. Goodrich, Smile Anyway: Quotes, Verse, & Grumblings for Every Day of the Year
Psych Central uses this example - Here’s one example of how CEN can work:
9-year-old Levi comes home from school feeling upset because he had an argument with his friends. He is feeling a swirl of emotion: hurt that his friends ganged up on him on the playground, embarrassed that he cried in front of them, and mortified that he has to go back to school the next day to face them. Levi’s parents love him very much. But on this day, they fail to notice that he is upset. They go about the afternoon, and no one says to Levi, “Hey, is something wrong?” Or, “Did something happen at school today?” This may seem like nothing. Indeed, this happens in every household across the world, and generally it does no great harm. But if it happens with enough depth and breadth throughout Levi’s childhood, that his emotions are not noticed or responded to enough by his parents, he will receive a potent message: that the most deeply personal, biological part of who he is, his emotional self, is irrelevant, even unacceptable.
Overcoming Agreements with abuse –
“Usually adult males who are unable to make emotional connections with the women they choose to be intimate with are frozen in time, unable to allow themselves to love for fear that the loved one will abandon them. If the first woman they passionately loved, the mother, was not true to her bond of love, then how can they trust that their partner will be true to love. Often in their adult relationships these men act out again and again to test their partner's love. While the rejected adolescent boy imagines that he can no longer receive his mother's love because he is not worthy, as a grown man he may act out in ways that are unworthy and yet demand of the woman in his life that she offer him unconditional love. This testing does not heal the wound of the past, it merely reenacts it, for ultimately the woman will become weary of being tested and end the relationship, thus reenacting the abandonment. This drama confirms for many men that they cannot put their trust in love. They decide that it is better to put their faith in being powerful, in being dominant.” ― Bell Hooks
No matter what, get away from the abuser. Remove yourself from the influence of one who seeks to cause you pain.
Proverbs 22:10 “Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease.”
1 Corinthians 5:11 “But [f]actually, I wrote to you not to associate [g]with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one.”
People usually don’t change until their behavior costs them something. If the abuse is in the context of a marriage, the abusive spouse never believes that their oppression will end and if they see their behavior and can’t stop the pattern of behavior, make the decision for them. In those moments of solitude and loss, the abuser must deal with the pain inside and will see that their actions have driven the source of their love and acceptance away. However, if this abusive pattern persists into stalking, then legal action must be taken in the form of No-Contact Orders and Restraining Orders.
Psalm 139: 13-16 “For You formed my [i]inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for [j]I’m fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. 15 My [k]frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.”
The Father wants His children to live in peace with everyone around them. That means that we have to overcome the effects of the abuser.
How much do you value yourself? How much of your view of yourself is based on the words of your abuser or the lack of words by a neglector?
“Bullies want to abuse you. Instead of allowing that, you can use them as your personal motivators. Power up and let the bully eat your dust.” -- Nick Vujicic
Dealing with abuse in this fallen world provides us the opportunity for a choice; do we listen to the perceptions of ourselves through the eyes of a person in pain bent on destroying you and ultimately themselves, or do we overcome the words of our abusers by choosing to hear the Heavenly Father’s perceptions of us and accepting his love and acceptance? Far too many people agree with their abusers in this world and in so doing, override the Word of Yah with the word of Man in the most personal application of that concept.
Stop the violence being done, get help, and get out.
When the Father has made me face fears in the past, my fears have usually been shadows that seemed daunting and intimidating. I found out that there was nothing there and I was scared of an idea.
This is not one of those times. The fear of what I am writing of is something that is legitimately horrible and dangerous to the soul and mind of the person experiencing this.
The feeling of rejection is the number one feeling the Father in Heaven feels throughout the Tanakh. Israel consistently turns their back on YHVH and rejects him, His Torah, His Prophets, His Kings, and His covenants. If we ever dare to ask what the Father feels consistently from this wicked world, it is rejection.
1 Samuel 8:7 “Adonai said to Sh’mu’el, “Listen to the people, to everything they say to you; for it is not you they are rejecting; they are rejecting me; they don’t want me to be king over them.”
Rejection is part of our walk. We as modern believers have been comfortable for too long and that comfort has made us lazy and arrogant. We get shocked and shaken and offended by the slightest comment from a brother that does not continually prop our egos up.
John 15:18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”
The fear of rejection will make us behave in unnatural ways because we worry about people rejecting us so we play a part and hide our identity so that we may be accepted in a group we either shouldn’t be in, or one that exemplifies qualities in ourselves that we wish to be genuinely part of our person.
“Too many Christians have a commitment of convenience. They'll stay faithful as long as it's safe and doesn't involve risk, rejection, or criticism. Instead of standing alone in the face of challenge or temptation, they check to see which way their friends are going.” -- Charles Stanley
We become people pleasers at the cost of our own personal identities. We become lost. Led astray by ourselves.
The problem is that fear of rejection will ultimately lead to rejection because the people we are lying to the people we are seeking acceptance from. They are not accepting us, they are accepting the version of ourselves that I am portraying.
When we seek to hide our true selves, after a while, we lose our true selves. We begin to hate that person because that person would not, in our own minds, be accepted by the group or person we are seeking acceptance from.
“Most fears of rejection rest on the desire for approval from other people. Don't base your self-esteem on their opinions.” -- Harvey Mackay
When I was in 4th grade, I changed schools from a small rural South Carolina primary school, to a larger more cosmopolitan school in a suburb of Charleston, SC. When I entered into the classroom on the first day, everyone was new and no one looked or talked like where I had gone to school for 4 years prior. I say back and watched and listened. I soon learned what these kids were into and what they did in their off time. My fear of rejection told me to fit in at all costs and soon, I began inventing stories and inventing a personality that would fit in perfectly with this group of kids. Everything they would say they had done, I had done. If they talked about their 4-wheeler they were on the night before, I was on one too only bigger and I was better at it than them. I invented families I knew and talked about adventures I had been on that were completely fabricated by an eight-year old mind afraid of rejection.
I was scared to be myself.
Attempting to control the rejection leads to anti-social behavior. The culture of SHOCK has taken over our society and as this new generation seeks to do everything counter to the generation prior, it is actually attempting to control the rejection it anticipates and make it so that it happens on their terms and under their control. This is what drives the GOTH lifestyle. Having been one, I can tell you that the same fear of rejection that controlled my tongue as a child, controlled my appearance and my attitude toward people. The black trenchcoat, the Doc Martin boots, and the black clothing underneath was an attempt to hide in plain sight.
We have learned to do this because when we first come to the Torah and the Hebrew mindset, we believe that we will go back into the churches, our families, our marriages, and our friendships and begin to point out what we have been shown and what we now know to be error. When we do this, we are messing with people’s view of reality and their relationship with the Father. They are comfortable with it and therefore they reject our word and often times, our relationship with them. We are deeply hurt by this and we begin to spurn all believers who do not believe as we do, and we turn our teeth toward a system of belief and thought in an unholy manner because we were rejected. We in turn reject those who rejected us. While we believe ourselves to be righteous, we listen to the word and not the spirit. While we read about YHVH rejecting the people because they rejected him, we ignore the fact that the Father weeps and mourns over all the souls being lost every day. Every child who refuses a relationship with him and he watches them live in darkness. A prophet does not merely speak the words YHVH hands Him, he speaks them in the emotion and the heartfelt place the Father speaks from. A prophet understands the Father’s heart and he speaks to the people’s hearts. You seek the Father’s heart and you understand what it in the hearts of the people.
Sometimes the hardest thing in the Word for us to accept is that the Father loves us and accepts us as children. We believe that a man dwelled in the belly of a fish for three days, but we have trouble believing the Father loves us and accepts us just as we are when He calls us.
Satan will tell you that you will never be accepted and that you are unworthy of love. The problem with the idea of being unworthy is that it is true. We are unworthy of YHVH’s love. However the Father chooses freely to pour down his love from Heaven and welcomes with warm embraces and with pure acceptance. He knows our sins but welcomes us home.
“Satan is a slave of his own nature.” – Derek Prince
Satan has been rejected and therefore works his hardest to make us like him and to make us believe we will only ever share his fate.
In ministry, you will have to face rejection. Every leader of Israel was rejected, scorned, and at times killed by YHVH’s supposed people.
A man who seeks the acceptance of the people instead of the acceptance of the Father, he will soon find himself alone no longer having an idea of who he is and who called him.
Isaiah 41:9 “I have taken you from the ends of the earth, summoned you from its most distant parts and said to you, ‘You are my servant’ — I have chosen you, not rejected you.”
Ezekiel 16 speaks of how YHVH found Israel as an infant struggling for life and how he saw him laying on the side of the road helpless. The Father reached down and nurtured the child and how he clothed the child and fed him the finest food. Then the child grew arrogant, and began chasing other gods. Israel rejected the Father. The heart of the Father must have just broken and tears must have flowed down His face. How he must have wept bitter tears that only rejection can bring out.
But the Father loved us all the more. He brought us back from the land of whoring and in time showed his love to us even more by sending his son to die for us. AND WE DARE ASK whether he has accepted us?! May we all have the love for one another that the Father has shown us. May we forgive ourselves and each other as he has forgiven us. True love is loving despite the rejection to love the people around you who have spurned you or rejected you is the hardest emotional trial there is. However, it is the trial of the Messiah himself.
You will always keep the Father at an arm’s distance if you fear his rejection. You will never truly know intimacy with Him without looking at him as someone who loves you with a more pure love than any creature on this planet.
John 6:37 Everyone the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will certainly not turn away.
Psalm 34:17-20 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong, be bold, don’t be afraid or frightened of them, for Adonai your God is going with you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
by The Porch Swing Psalmist
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