Luke 8:54

"And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid arise." Luke 8:54

Thursday, March 23, 2017


Spiritual Lessons

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Trust. A small little word with a lot of hurt behind it. Love. A smaller word, with just as much pain.

Anyone else in the world a person of extremes? Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who struggles with moderation. I blame some of that on my genes. If you trace my lineage back far enough I'm convinced we Hutto's were Vikings. Moderation probably wasn't in their vocabulary any more than it's in mine. And then add my Sicilian blood from my mom...and yeah. I'm doomed.

So as a young girl, when I trusted – I trusted entirely. I trusted everyone I loved. In my world, you were either a bad guy, or a good guy. Black and white. And the good guys, I trusted.

I've always believed the best of everyone first. Call it what you will: optimism, naivete, childhood – but it's all I know; it's me. Every person is made in the image of God, and everyone has a God-given personality that is unique and beautiful, and somehow I was gifted (cursed?) with the ability to see that in people as soon as I met them.

I wasn't necessarily a sweet child. But deeply sincere. Everything I ever endeavored came from the farthest recesses of my soul; and it was natural for me to paste my heart to window panes. When I shared myself, I shared all of me. Transparent. Sensitive. Passionate. And why not share all of me? I didn't know the art of handing out pieces.

And as you can imagine I was disappointed by people. I remember a friend telling me she thought it was sweet that I could share so much of myself, but that she didn't intend on doing that. It was too scary.

I was hurt by people. Close souls who trampled my heart. Betrayal. Harsh words. No appreciation. Abandonment. Or even simpler – At work I met the most darling woman. She is eighty three, five foot (maybe), a hundred pounds with pure white hair. She loves to plant flowers and lives with a goose in her house. She's Irish with sparkling eyes and underneath her quavery voice and many wrinkles is enough spunk to see her to 100 years old. The only problem: she's dying of cancer. Our job is to travel that journey with her and make her as comfortable as possible. As soon as I found out, I thought – why do I fall in love with people that destiny is bound to hurt me with? I wrote in my journal – “I can't pick one human being that's easy to love. Or is there no such thing? Is humanity hard to love?”

I was devastated by people. Someone I respected. Those who should have known better. Gave away my heart to have it handed back – in a million pieces. The injustice. The sobbing. The anger. I remember wishing I was reserved and mysterious. That I could rip my heart off my sleeve and be like the quiet, normal people I knew. Everyone is intrigued by introverts. Maybe no one wanted to be my friend because I wasn't exciting. They could have all of me from the beginning – there wasn't anything to explore, pursue, figure out. Maybe people thought I was shallow because I so readily shared the deep parts of my soul. The more wounds I accumulated the more tempting it was to hide. To close off my heart to humanity, bad guys, and good guys.

And where has that left me?

I had two choices. To close the door to humanity and never trust again. It is possible. It sounds cliche or dramatic – but it's an easy thing to do. It's the safe and lonely route to take. Anger is easier than trust. It's the cop-out. It's self preservation. Defensive default. Self preservation and anger aren't wrong in and of themselves but I think we were created to trust. I know people who have decided not to trust anyone. They are miserable people. They are either bitter, frightened, lonely, or all three. They are safe. Safe from people, safe from trust, safe from love. 

“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”  -- C.S. Lewis 

Or I could realize that not everyone is worth trusting. Even some “good guys”. There are levels of friendships. I'm not obligated to share myself with everyone. I'm allowed to pick who I wish to be vulnerable with.

Of course I'm still a person of extremes, so those I choose to trust I still inevitably trust with all my heart. And they still hurt me. Trustworthy people are going to hurt me. And people I trust can hurt me so much easier than those I don't trust. Pain is part of relationships; it's inevitable. There isn't such a thing as pain-free trust. Or pain-free love.

I was sitting across the restaurant table with my Dad last night. A man I decided a couple years ago was a man worth trusting. And I'm so glad I did. He is worth my trust. Worth the pain. He loves me back, and chooses to trust me too.  I am not an easy person to love, and yet he loves me back.
 I was telling him about a relationship that pained me. I told him how I keep reaching out and pulling my hand back, bloody. I vented about how I have chosen to continue the friendship, to keep wiping the blood off, only to have them accuse me. Pick at old wounds. His face softened. Instead of feeling defensive for me, he simply stated that it sounded kinda like the relationship we have with Christ. And even though that wasn't what I wanted to hear, it brought me back to some times I've apologized to God for my unfaithfulness to Him. The times I realized He still wanted to be my friend, even after I hadn't talked to Him all week. Even after I told Him that He didn't care and I was angry with Him. You know those relationships where if you could draw a picture to describe it, you'd have yourself at a door, in the rain, knocking? He waits. He knocks. And I leave Him out in the rain. And yet He has never forsaken me. He continually holds my hand through the darkest of times. He reminds me of Himself, gives me strength, listens, cares. God took the risk of loving humanity, even when he foreknew that we would deny him, curse him, reject him.

I've decided I want to love people. And I want to trust a few of them. It is too exhausting to preserve myself from everyone. And it's lonely. And it's even painful. Some people I've let go. And some I've gone back to. This time when I hand over my heart, I'm giving them permission to break it. I don't expect to keep it fully intact. Because they are human. And humans break hearts. And those I trust I know are going to do everything in their power to cherish the fact that I'm trusting them with something so fragile.

And there is a difference between loving someone and trusting them. I love quite a few people that I've chosen not to trust. But everyone I trust, I also love. With all of me.

I've come to the wild conclusion that trust is a dangerous thing. But coupled with love, it's beautiful and certain people are worth trusting. Even with the risk of them hurting me. And it's given me the ability to allow others to trust me. I desire to be trustworthy.

Toni. A small extreme person with hurts.

Addendum: Who is learning how to love and trust again.

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Quote of the Day

"The Christianity which is not spiritual says we must by no means offend, or do anything that hurts a Christian brother's feelings. Did Jesus ever offend anyone knowingly?  He certainly did; (Matthew 12:1-8) but He never put a stumbling block in anyone's way."

Oswald Chambers

Friday, March 10, 2017

Spiritual Abuse

Spiritual Lessons
Spiritual Abuse 

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Part I

Abuse is common in the church house.

Yep, you heard me. There is spiritual abuse going on in the the Western Church. Truth is twisted and authority misused to support the insecurities or the power trips of church leadership. And people refuse to acknowledge it. They've been duped into a false authority that strips them of their liberty to follow Christ. They are kept in a rigid religious militia.

And how can I say this? Well, dare to question your commanding officer and watch as the labeling begins, the rebuke, the belittling, disbelief, misunderstanding... and maybe even excommunication. My experience with Pastoral dictatorship is not unique. Many know exactly what I'm talking about. For those of you who don't, I encourage you to take off your spiritual blinders and have a look around.

Are pastors the one to blame? It is certain that many promote and administrate abuse. But they are simply instruments of false Christianity. So who is to blame for the continuation of widespread spiritual abuse? Well...

Who agrees to conform? Who has pressed themselves to meet expectations? Who agrees to the check-list Christianity? Who unquestioningly grovels? Who fears men? Who gives homage to traditions? Who is obsessed with meeting the five-star Christian criteria? Who idolizes authority? Who remains silent? Who fails to draw boundaries? Who subjugates themselves to total dependence? Who swallows the idea that love forgives the non-repentant and ignores atrocities in non-judgmental, long-suffering?

WE do.

We are at fault for the continuation of false authority. If Christians would wake up and acknowledge their own apathy they could hold their pastors accountable and stop the epidemic of abusive authority. We need to bravely unchain our minds, even at the risk of rocking the boat. We need to stand up and protect ourselves, and others. Not to is selfish. If we simply leave but say nothing we are allowing abuse to continue.

The Church has alienated itself from Christ and His commandments. The body is asleep instead of harmoniously functioning. The leadership has grown fat on the sheep's unholy worship. And the lost go to Hell because Christians won't acknowledge their own sinful state.

Don't be a willing victim. Repent. Say something. Don't allow abuse. 

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

I'd Rather Have Jesus

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 Sometimes we really believe we are completely surrendered to God.

Sometimes we say with all our hearts, and sincerely mean it, that we would give up everything for Jesus.

Sometimes we imagine going to a foreign country and even being willing to die for His Name Sake.

Sometimes we feel that anything He asks is acceptable and more than worth giving to Him.

Sometimes we are willing to go anywhere He desires, say whatever He prompts us to say, or do whatever He asks us to do.

I've often felt this way. When CHRIST shows you who HE IS and who we are... we kneel is awe at such amazing love and humbly consecrate our lives. This is good. This is needed. This is our "reasonable service" according to Romans 12. But sometimes, even though we say we are completely surrendered to the greatest and dearest of costs, we don't practically live it.

Sometimes it's the little foxes that spoil the vines. 

Everyone has different standards about 101 different things. I'm not even going to attempt to talk about standards here. But, I do want to share a personal testimony about something the Lord said to me in regards to our "willingness" to be completely surrendered to God and the practical application of it.

I love good music. And I don't have a conviction again certain modern artists, or secular songs. In fact, I really like some of them. I enjoy happy, fun, lighthearted music that makes you tap your feet to a beat or dance through the kitchen. So, one afternoon, I was listening to just such a song. I was doing some rather tedious work and it felt nicely motivating. I knew I didn't have a conviction with it. I knew it wasn't wicked. But, something made me stop and think. I decided to ask Jesus...right there... right then... what He thought about the song I was listening to. I asked Him. And I waited for an answer. Then He said to me, as clear as could be, "It's hard for you to hear My voice when that is playing." Oh. That wasn't the answer I was expecting...although I'm not honestly sure what I was expecting to hear. 😐

I paused the music and just thought about what He said for a good long while. "Really, Lord?" 
He didn't tell me "No". He didn't say I couldn't. It didn't call it sin. He just told me what He thought about it, which is exactly what I had asked Him, and left me with a decision to make.

Not a decision of sinning. Not a decision of right or wrong. But rather, choosing to hear HIS VOICE or not. Choosing something that was expedient or no.

Again, it's amazing how quickly we say "All to Jesus I Surrender", and then He asks us to give up a little tiny thing that isn't at all remotely important in light of eternity, but just brings pleasure to us. Something... that is even innocent or harmless of itself.

I stopped listening to that kind of music for about 2 months. I'd decided that hearing His Voice was more important to me than anything...including a small pleasure that made me feel happy and motivated sometimes.

Then, one afternoon, I was out by myself and had just finished working an exhausting few hours and felt like listening to something cheery. Something fun. Something to lift my spirits. And what did I do? I listened to those same songs He has told me about months before. Was I sinning? No. Was I disobedient? No. But I chose something less. Something He has already warned me about in regards to my relationship with Christ. That night, I was doing something important on my computer and had forgotten an important step. I couldn't remember what it was and needed the answer real quick. As I usually would do, I asked Jesus for it. I'll never forget what He said to me. "Earlier you chose to ignore hearing my voice for that music. And now, that you need something, you want Me to hear yours?" I was speechless in His presence. I cried. I was cut to the heart. That is exactly what I had done and I hadn't thought a thing about it. How selfish I am?! To insist on my own pleasure at the cost of Him and then expect Him to do what I wouldn't do... listen. I asked His forgiveness. I begged that I could love Him "more than these" things. And you know what? He is still so good. He gave me the answer I urgently needed anyway. 

It was after that, that I decided to delete the music altogether. To rid myself of the temptation. Obviously, if there's a will there's a way. If I really wanted to listen to that same music ... I could. But that isn't the point. 
Hebrews 12:1-2 says,

"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." 

Laying aside every weight. Every sin that besets us. Why? Because the Christina life is a race... and we are suppose to be running. Some "weights" don't seem very heavy. So we keep them in our pockets. Some weights, and sins, we don't even realize we are carrying along with us, that are SLOWING us down. That's why David said, "Search me O God and know my heart, and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting". We need to be GOD. We need to ASK HIM. Because we don't see the weights ourselves. We don't see the sin. Our hearts are deceitfully and desperately wicked above all things. Who can know it? But, He is FAITHFUL to show us. And He is patient. And we need to not only ask to hear His voice, but also be willing and ready to do whatever it takes to hear it.

I hope this is encouraging to someone. Let's run the race set before us, looking unto Jesus. He is worthy, as He is worth it. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Life's Puzzling Pieces

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Life's Puzzling Pieces

"As we pass through the dark experiences of life we see only that dark piece. Our experiences resemble a jigsaw puzzle. Here is a black piece, which seems to fit nowhere at all. It does not make sense. Here is a little brighter piece, and other sections of the jigsaw puzzle are dark, and some pitch black, and we cry and moan in these black moments. But by-and-by the Master will take all the pieces, which look so disconnected to us now, and carefully arrange each piece in its proper place, and then we shall see the completed work of Him who makes no mistakes. Listen, when it is all ready, we shall find that the dark pieces of the puzzle were as important in the completion of the full beauty of the pattern as the bright sections. The dark background will only bring out in bolder and more gorgeous relief the figures in the picture, in the center of which will be His lovely face, and around it the experiences of life over which we mourn now but for which we will praise Him then." 

From the book, "Broken Things", by DeHaan p.137

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Quote of the Day

"We may have to face destitution in order to maintain our spiritual connection to Jesus, and we can only do that if we love Him supremely. Every now and again there is the 'last bridge' - 'I have gone far enough, I can't go any further.' If you are going on with God it is impossible to secure your interests at all. We have to go on in perfect confidence that our Father in heaven knows all about us. Are we prepared to fulfil these conditions when they arise?"

-Oswald Chambers-