Category Archives: Dan Allender

His Promise of Peace

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“One of the great wounds in life is the shattering of relationship — having a friend who turns on us and reverses shalom or what the Bible calls peace.  Betrayal is the experience of being set up, violated, and then discarded.  It is being used by someone who violates our dignity and then is unmoved by our pain.

Such betrayal, for whatever reason, isolates us in loneliness, doubt, and shame.  The connection we once assumed and enjoyed becomes a web of awkwardness.  We don’t know whether to speak to the estranged friend when our paths cross, or simply pass with eyes averted.  To the degree there is avoidance, suspiciousness grows.   If there is conversation, it is constrained and tight, marking the contrast to the way it once was.  This is the soil where blame shifting and slander can grow like robust weeds.

The memory of how-it-once-was burns a deep and hollow spot in the heart.  Memory haunts and self-doubt grips.  Why did it end?  What did I do wrong? Why does my friend no longer like me? The intense shifts between angrily blaming the other and cutting oneself with the shards of self-doubt are exhausting.”  ~Dan Allender

Allender speaks clearly of the chaos in the heart and mind when betrayal has been experienced.  It is a lack of peace in our deepest parts.  How…how, in those moments, do we consider Jesus?  How do we stand firm on the Rock when our minds are haunted with memories and self-doubt?  The constant cutting of oneself with the shards of broken relationship is not only exhausting…it leaves one bloodied and crying out for relief.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

Jesus says I can live light and free.
Jesus says I can walk in unforced rhythms of grace.
Jesus says I can have a real rest and recover the life He wants me to live.

These are the promises Jesus gives to those who will follow after, and learn from Him.

Who is Jesus?  He is a true friend.  He does not “set us up, violate, and then discard” us.  He does not make promises He never intends to keep.  He is the one who sticks closer than a brother.  He is a husband to the forsaken bride crying in the wilderness.

He loves with an everlasting love and He gives an unshakeable peace.

Betrayal is soul-wrenching.  Its never-ending shattering peace gives way to many doubts and unanswerable questions, unless…

Unless…

You turn to Him.

Go to Him.
Lay down your burdens and confusion,
Your pain, and your doubts,
Your fears, and all your tears,
Your woundedness…

All of it.  Lay it down…at His feet.
Bow down and consider Jesus.

“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,
But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,
And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,”
Says the LORD who has compassion on you.

“Come unto Me all you who are weary and heavy-laden,
And I will give you peace.”

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Redeeming the Scars

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God’s passion is to weave glory out of broken shards
of past sexual abuse,
an affair,
financial disaster,
a divorce,
death,
or any other experience of powerlessness or sin.

Everything hinges on the past.

“The scars of sin and death can’t be erased, but they can become the weather-beaten marks of character that bring depth and intrigue to what would have been merely a beautiful but ordinary vase.  God’s passion is to weave glory out of broken shards of past sexual abuse, an affair, financial disaster, a divorce, death, or any other experience of powerlessness or sin…
What was yesterday?  The loss of a job, victimization, bottomless grief, pointless sacrifice that brought little good?  Was it deep struggle, intense drama and terror that eventually brought us to our knees and to the face of God?  Everything hinges on the past.  We will project the past into every new moment and either repeat our past themes of victimization or marvel at the work of God in redeeming us in spite of our questions and doubt.”
~Dan Allender, The Healing Path

Everything hinges on the past.

If I’m beginning to repeat myself, please be patient.
It takes awhile for some things to sink in.
Especially if you’ve been living in shame-bound systems for fifty years…

We will project the past into every new moment and
EITHER
Repeat our past themes of victimization
OR
Marvel at the work of God in redeeming us

Oh, I have spent so many years allowing the theme of abuse to be projected into every moment of my life.
I desire to move forward. I really do.

However, before I can, I must allow the deeper work of healing to wash over me, to cleanse me through and through. Jesus prayed for us to be sanctified in the truth. His word is the Truth. Paul reminded the church that Christ died “so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.”

I want to see the work of redemption in my story.  I desire to see the Truth of the Word working in my life.  I press forward recognizing betrayals can be redeemed through faith, powerlessness can be infused with hope, and ambivalence can be turned to bold love.  These are the great gifts of redemption and restoration: Faith, Hope, and Love.

Many scars have formed over the years.  I pray they will not be as numerous as the freckles… but, honestly,… there could be more.

This path of healing I am choosing to take may be a long one, so…

“I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.”   ~Chris Cleave, Little Bee

Staying On Course

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The healing path is not a jaunt in the park. It is a life-rattling, heart-revealing journey that takes us through danger, harm, heartache … The healing path is glorious, but the only way we will stay on course and resist the temptation to flee to safer ground is by comprehending more deeply the assaults and losses we will face on our journey … ~Dan Allender

Resisting the temptation to flee to safer ground…

That’s where the rubber meets the road. That’s the point at which we decide if we really want to be healed.

Does the pain run too deep? Are the ramifications too wide-spread?
Is it possible to truly see the heartache you’ve caused without losing your mind?

To take responsibility for all you’ve caused, through selfish ambition, or loneliness…
Whatever the reason you chose your way, it caused heartache.
For you. For those you love. Maybe, even, for generations to come.
We can’t know how our loved ones will work through their pain.

We each have choices to make when we’ve been hurt. Will you choose to protect yourself? What form of defense mechanism works best to ward off shame? A drink here… an accusation there… a little bit of sugar… a wholelotta control… The choices for repression are about as numerous as the ramifications from your sin.

Denial, blame, control.
Phariseeism, alcoholism, workaholism.
Acting out, drug addiction, isolation.

The list goes on and on …
And the cycle continues …

Will you flee the path of healing, or will you stay on course?
The former might be arrogance or fear; the latter takes humility.

Will you puff up, or bow low?

I’ve been reading Lamentations and James. Both give a picture of grief and repentance that leads to godliness. I’ve had enough of the world’s wisdom. I am tired of lighting my own path and drinking from broken cisterns. I truly want to remain on the path of healing, no matter the cost.

I must face the shame…

“God sets Himself against the proud, but He shows favor to the humble.”
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and He will flee from you.

Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.
Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you hypocrites.
Let there be tears for the wrong things you have done.
Let there be sorrow and deep grief.
Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy.

When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on Him,
He will lift you up and give you honor.

James 4:4-10

It seems a bit harsh in today’s world of “easy believism” and “seeker friendly” teaching to talk of sin, adulterers, and hypocrites. Most people run away from such words, feeling it’s condemnation. I don’t see it that way. As difficult as it is to admit, that is what we must deal with every day of our time on earth. Do we love this place more than we love God’s way?

When I see I have chosen to love the world more than God, by choosing a safer path than the one which leads to healing, I need to repent.

And then, times of refreshing may come…

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away,
in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.
~Acts 3:19

The Healing Path

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“Each day we either live for God or for other gods. In each moment of hardship we fear either God or man. When we choose to worship gods and fear men our lives will suffer an emptiness and turmoil that is not much different than trying to fill our bellies with dirt. At first we may feel full, but in short order our violation of God’s plan will lead to torment…

But God will not let his children wander in the realm of death without giving them some kind of wake-up call.

Relationship with God requires leaving, letting go (of other gods), in order to pursue his promises. He calls his followers on a journey that takes them beyond the limits of their sight. Hosea tells us that God will woo us to the desert in order to win us back to himself…

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. In that day,’ declares the LORD, ‘you will call me “my husband”; you will no longer call me “my master” ~Hosea 2:14-16

And what is the desert? It is the opposite of Eden, the garden green with luxury and life. The desert is brown, rocky, and desolate. It is not exactly the most romantic spot to renew a broken marriage between God and his bride. So why would God take his beloved to the desert in order to restore her? Because only there can he reveal to her the magnitude of his love…

The healing path must pass through the desert or else our healing will be the product of our own will and wisdom. It is in the silence in the desert that we hear our dependence on noise. It is in the poverty of the desert that we see clearly our attachments to the trinkets and baubles we cling to for security and pleasure. The desert shatters the soul’s arrogance and leaves body and soul crying out in thirst and hunger. In the desert, we trust God or we die.

God not only leads us through the desert, but he calls us to walk through the valley as the sun sets and shadows spread across the land. To get to the table set for us by God we are called to walk through danger. Any valley is dangerous terrain. Not only can rocks roll down on us unexpectedly, be we are surrounded by higher ground on which an enemy can perch and rain down assault. No military tactician would willingly send his troops marching through a valley; it is a place of death. And if one must march through a valley , the worst possible time to do so is at sunset when shadows distort and make it impossible to pick out enemies hiding in wait.

Why would God have us walk through danger to get to him? Again, because valleys strip us of the presumption of independence; danger draws us to a greater dependence on the only one who can provide and protect. The desert brings us to our knees with craving; the valley calls us to cling to the hem of the one who leads us to safety. The psalmist says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4)

God is with us. His rod and staff and his sure vision, steady balance, and infinite knowledge of the terrain will guide us as we walk through the shadowlands. But don’t be fooled: His leading does not always guide us out of harm’s way. Rather, God often leads us directly into the hottest and most perilous point of the battle…

The healing path is not a jaunt in the park. It is a life-rattling, heart-revealing journey that takes us through danger, harm, heartache — and ultimately to new trust, profound hope, and a love that can’t be scorched by assault or destroyed by loss. The healing path is glorious, but the only way we will stay on course and resist the temptation to flee to safer ground is by comprehending more deeply the assaults and losses we will face on our journey. In the desert and valley we will pass through the dangers of betrayal, powerlessness, and ambivalence. These three realities will pull faith, hope, and love right out from under us if we are not ready for them.”   ~Dan Allender, Ph.D., The Healing Path

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff will comfort me.”

The Beginning of Freedom

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Serena Woods has written so many posts that have blessed me.
She speaks the Truth about Grace.
And she gives it so beautifully…

She’s done it once again.

Out of Your Past


Her book
is available through Amazon.

Idolatry

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Whatever you do to make this life work, without God, is idolatry.

We are idolatrous people. We desire to create our own way in life. We work hard to come up with a way that will make life feel better. BUT if it is not God, if we are trying to fill ourselves up without Him, then we have created an idol.

Seem harsh?
Well, it may just be you don’t want to admit it.
Just sayin’…from my own experience… 😕

Idols can take many forms: career, family, marriage, ministry, sports, yard-work, busyness, religion, possessions, travel, money, prestige, power, education…and the list goes on and on…

I have recently discovered idols in my past. First, I tried to be good enough. Positive performance became an idol to me. I desired to feel good about me and wanted God’s “approval.” So, I falsely thought if I did the right things, I would.

But, now I know only God can make me “good” and yet, I won’t be complete until eternity. Trying to make myself look good to you — well, that’s me building an idol — it’s not resting in what He says is true: No one is good but God.

Another idol: Being a teacher and “godly” mother. I have looked to my children, and those I’ve taught, as an example of my worth. If they did well, then I felt satisfied. I felt full. I took pride in their accomplishments as though they were my own. But, you see, I was taking credit where credit was not due. Somehow, in my twisted thinking, I felt if they were good, then I was good. And God wants me to be good, right? Hmmmm ….

The third idol I have recently identified is my marriage. If I talked about my marriage being the best marriage EVER, and only told happy stories about our time together, then you and I might believe how perfect I could be. And, God wants us to have happy marriages, right?

Recently, I’ve learned that many times we marry the person/idol we want to worship. Maybe we marry the person we hope will fill us. Maybe we see something in the other we would love to have in our lives…? If we put all our trust in our marriages, in our working hard to make them “the best”, or taking from the other to fill ourselves, then our devotion is not on God and His living through us.

So … what have I concluded?  Our careers, our children, our relationships can all become idolatrous if they come before God. And yet, it looks so good from the outside. People may comment on how “perfect” your life appears. BUT.  If I’m trying to get my worth — my value — through those things, then I’m worshiping something other than the God who created me.

My worth is not in my accomplishments.
My worth is in being His creation.

All of me…
For ALL of Him.

(Some thoughts after studying Dan Allender and Jeff VanVonderen…still peeling back those layers…)

Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him and firm in your faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Be careful not to allow anyone to captivate you through an empty, deceitful philosophy that is according to human traditions and the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form, and you have been filled in Him…
~verses from Colossians 2

Bold Love

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“Love, as a reflection of the glory of God, is the ground of being, the reason for existing, and the core of the gospel.  It is the most basic staple of  life; yet it is nearly impossible to wrap words around love’s vastness, to describe how to be transformed by it, or to use it for the sake of another — especially in a world that hurts us regularly and often deeply…

…I am compelled to answer the question, “What does it mean to love those who harm me?”…I am faced, as you are, with transgressions of love that cry for forgiveness and the unrelenting demand of God to forgive.

But there is a struggle for most of us in forgiving those who harm us.  The greater the damage, it seems, the more difficult it is to forgive.  If you are a Christian, you have a redeemed, but still sinful, heart that struggles to forgive.  God’s inexorable demand to forgive, to turn the other cheek, to offer one’s coat to an enemy is at times infuriating, at other times illogical, and always costly beyond right or reason.

What does it mean to love my enemy? — the one who sexually abused me; my spouse who is angry and insensitive; my friend who gossiped behind my back and damaged my reputation; my child who snarls at my offer to go for a walk; the surgeon or service station mechanic who fails to act in my best interest.  The list is endless.

For every person, in every instance, either brief or interminable, cruel or civil, warm or hostile, there will be enough sin in all our relationships that forgiveness is required if they are to continue toward an end that is good.  This book will discuss forgiving love — the kind that can deal with tragic and incomprehensible harm like sexual abuse, as well as the ordinary and explainable struggles, like insensitivity or impatience.”

I have a new crush: Dan Allender.  (Old crush: C.S. Lewis)  His books speak straight to my needs.  If you have deep wounds that need healing, deeper than you ever imagined, he might be the guy to read.  He’s helping me re-evaluate and learn to discern in ways I’ve barely understood.

Have you had a hard time forgiving
when the wounds have cut so deep you still feel the pain?