One of my favorite #RestorationStories ever!
Meet Jeffrey McCall founder of For Such A Time Ministry
Watch this amazing video of his story.
Visit his website here
What an amazing group of testimonies coming from this upcoming documentary Here’s My Heart
I longed for someone or something
to change my life
I had this emptiness and loneliness
inside of me
I had a deep hunger inside..
not knowing for what…
I continued having this desire for something
to fill the emptiness
I searched all over for that missing link
I read selfhelp books
I tried to be a better person
I did all the rights things
according to the standard of men
I even attented church on a regular base
But still I was empty on the inside…
Until one day I cried out to one name…
That one sweet name was JESUS
The name above all names
That name saved me…
That name healed me…
That name delivered me…
That name wrote my name
in the palms of His hands
He taught me to love…
He taught me to forgive…
He taught me to have faith…
He taught me to trust Him no matter how hard,
No matter under which circumstances
No matter how I “felt”
He taught me to hear His voice
He showed me my gifts and showcased them
He revealed Himself to me as a loving Father
He told me He loves me
He told me I am His precious daughter
He told me that He will never leave me
nor forsake me.
Today I have peace, love, joy and victory.
Jesus changed my life!
I HAVE FOUND WHAT I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR!
~ His Beloved Daughter,
HOW ABBA FATHER CHANGED MY LIFE
I recently read this amazing story of Shell Singh and her journey from Sikhism to Jesus.
Read her amazing story here on Think Divinely
‘This month’s amazing story is in video format by Chris Orahood.
Watch her amazing story here now.
The picture of me in white is exactly from 3 years ago.
3 years ago, I was hurting and so lost. I was desperate for a real relationships with people and filling the void with horrible relationships.
Parties and bars, attention from men that only wanted one thing, “friends” that were only there when I was ready to shine for them.
I think I was even a little tipsy in this picture and I know I took this pic for a guy I was seeing at the time.
I was unengaged in the world around me. Fighting for a breath of fresh air. Drowning in a sea of confusion and chaos.
Fast forward to today. That doesn’t even look like me anymore. My eyes are alive. My spirit is alive. I know I have value and worth. I have true friends and I know God has the perfect man for me…and I’m happily waiting on him. Saving myself for my forever.
I know who I am. More importantly, I know who HE is. I know my savior in a way I never knew was possible.
I still have my struggles and trials and tribulations; but on the inside, I know exactly who I am. I know exactly whom I was made to be. I receive my identity from my maker, God.
Each day, I come closer and He meets me where I’m at.
I give up what I know is bad for me, knowing that God has something that is so much better than my “what if’s” and my expectations I’ve put on a person and situation.
Everyday, I say yes to believing there is more and there is better. Everyday, I make a decision to step forward. Even on the days I’m tired and I do nothing. I’m still doing something.
Everyday, I step into the presence of God and open my heart to his love.
Day by day.
If you know someone that is struggling, be their light. Show them some mercy and meet them where they are. Plant seeds of love and not of condemnation.
~ Erin Stella
Connect with Erin Here
In 2014 I did something really stupid, something that cost me my church, my dream. I was utterly devastated, heartbroken.
Everyday for the last 4 years I’ve been in deep regret, a regret that has brought about some very deep shame. I would cry, punch the walls, scream, I hated myself. After all, I was just reaping what I had sown.
Unexpectedly these last 5 weeks I’ve felt a call back to minister again, but I quickly shut it down because I believed I didn’t deserve another chance. Yet the voice of Jesus was calling me even though I was inwardly being chocked by shame.
Last night for the first time in about 5 years I responded to an invitation to receive prayer at Freedom Church. I felt something shift but I was unsure what it was. I cried like a baby, I went to bed and slept like a baby.
This morning at church I heard a message about God removing my shame. It was as if the entire message was written just for me. My heart was dancing inside of my chest at the sheer joy of what I was hearing. “I will remove your shame and restore your inheritance- double.”
I’m crying as I write this because it’s been such a journey these last 5 months of inner restoration back to God. A year ago I arrived at a place where I was ready to walk away from God, it was just too painful to believe anymore. It was less painful just to give up.
But, oh the joy of expectation within my heart! I was internally dead BUT Jesus breathed his life into my lungs. He’s taught me to hope again, to believe again. I’ve had repair but now it’s time for restoration. I’m chocked as I wrote these last few words because it’s so opposite to what I believed…I’m not a failure, I’m not cast off, I’m not a bad egg, I’m a good person because God doesn’t make mistakes.
As the minister said, “We’re not failures. God just needs to polish us so we shine with identity, an identity that brings God glory.”
He has restored my soul. -Psalm 23
~ Benjamin David
Connect with Benjamin David Here
I normally share my joy with you, but I wanted to share a picture of something that you normally don’t get to see.
When I was just three years old, an older boy molested me. He was a family friend. It was both painful and shameful having my sexuality awakened and abused at such an early age. As time went on, I began to orchestrate sexual situations with other children around me, not even grasping why or what I was doing. My inner world was plunged into shame and I began exhibiting predatory behavior as a toddler.
When I was four, my parents marriage dissolved. With the divorce, my inner turmoil only deepened. I believed the lie that I was responsible for my parent’s breakup.
Not long after the divorce, I was at a family’s house that was watching me while my Dad was working. They had two young boys my age. I molested both of them. When the parents found out, they told my Dad that I wasn’t allowed back to their house.
Later that day, my Dad punished me for what I had done, leaving some bruising on my body for weeks. (I would only come to understand just how deeply damaged my own father was years down the road. It has given me tremendous compassion for him, and helped me forgive him. We enjoy a great relationship now.)
The stability of my home had been torn to shreds, and my inner world was filled with sexual shame. I believed the lie that me being a bad boy had cost me my relationship with my Dad.
At the age of five, I molested a cousin who was my same age. When their father walked in and saw us, they immediately called Child Protective Services. I am so thankful that they did.
It was because of that phone call that I began seeing a child psychologist from Pittsburgh, and I received counseling for the sexual abuse that I had both suffered, and perpetrated. Had I not received help at that point in my life, I easily could’ve ended up in prison, took my own life, or took the lives of other people.
It’s taken me many years to begin to process my personal loss and trauma. I’ve begun to realize that receiving physical abuse as a result of my sexual brokenness deeply devastated my inner world. It seemed to fuse those two things together in me: sex and shame.
Sexual abuse is a powerful teacher. It taught me that I wasn’t worth having personal boundaries. It taught me that I had no intrinsic worth, and that I was only good for meeting someone else’s need. I learned to find other people who had no personal boundaries and exploit their weaknesses to feed my addiction, leading to more devastated lives.
My sexual pain turned into a lifestyle of looking at pornography in a desperate attempt for comfort and satisfaction. What a hollow and empty fabrication of intimacy that poison is. I wholeheartedly condemn that cancerous garbage with all of my heart!
When you believe the core truth about you is worthlessness, then prostituting your feelings off on a screen promises satisfaction and comfort without having real vulnerability and trust with another human being. Problem is, it’s not real. And afterwards, all you’re left with is what you started with: yourself and your pain.
Ironically, only as I’ve grown in my deep conviction that the truth about me is that I am a good creation at my core, the compulsion to look at pornography has dissolved away. In being honest with my wife, despite doing tremendous damage to her trust and self-esteem, I’ve found the comfort and intimacy I longed for, and as a by-product, the venomous addiction of pornography dwindled away in the light of other-centered, self-giving love.
But porn wasn’t the only dysfunction my shame caused. I learned to become what others wanted me to be. People pleasing. Fear of man. A non-negotiable need to avoid any and all confrontation. When you don’t love your own heart, you’ll conform to people’s expectations of you, even at the cost of your own thoughts and desires.
Unlike the rest of the world looking at perfectly timed snap-shots of my life on social media (we all do this), my wife sees me without any facade. She takes the brunt of my pain and anger. It’s taken me a long time to stop blaming her for my emotions, and to begin taking responsibility for myself. And I’m still learning.
I’m still learning how to be angry. Hell, I’m still learning that I am angry. And that it’s ok to be angry. In fact, it’s right to be angry with injustice. But as we walk with Holy Spirit, Wisdom shows us the right thing to do WITH that anger, so that we don’t use it as a weapon against others.
No one has helped me to be more brutally honest with myself than my wife, though it has cost her dearly. I almost lost our marriage because of my pain and shame driving me into hell-bent self-destruction. And only by the grace of God, and her relentless patience, have we begun to rebuild our trust again.
Emily has continued to love me well, and has helped me to confront things in my life that I never would have left to my own coping mechanisms and survival skills.
She has shown me love. Hard love. In your face love. A fierce love that refuses to tolerate lies and fabricated fronts. She’s shown me God’s love.
When rage is beat into you in an attempt to fix your bad behavior through punishment, it creates an image of an angry God who mirrors our own rage.
This is why I can’t swallow the theory that God had to punish Jesus so that He could feel good about me. I’ve lived my life as a victim of punishment, and I discovered that punishment NEVER healed a single ounce of my heart. NEVER.
Far from healing me, punishment only sent me deeper into the hopeless chasm of my pain. It also gave me passive aggressive tendencies to punish those closest to me. I am undoubtedly on a journey of being unwound from those lifeless habits.
I don’t need a “god” who has to punish an innocent Victim so that He can look at me through His blood-of-Jesus-blindfold.
I need a God who sees the real me and isn’t disgusted.
I need a God who looks at me and doesn’t see what I’ve always seen: worthlessness.
I need a God who looks at me in my brokenness and doesn’t feel what I’ve always felt: shame.
I don’t need a God who has to punish before He can love me.
I need a God that loves me by nature WHILE He’s the One being punished!
I’ve posted myself with alcohol before, and I’ve posted myself with a cigar before, but I did not anticipate that those two things posted together would illicit such a volatile reaction. However, I’m not surprised.
I understand. Emily ordered a beer on one of our first dates and I was mortified because I was so afraid that someone in leadership from our local church would see us with alcohol. I had no idea how bound up I was with the fear of people’s opinions and judgements.
It’s sad (and embarrassing) that as Christians we call a cigar and a glass of bourbon a stumbling block, yet we willingly swallow the idea of a God who will eternally cook His children in an oven forever if they don’t pray the right prayer or live up to code.
We strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. (And not a Joe Camel! Wouldn’t want to offend anyone with a cigarette reference!)
We wince over offending someone with a glass of wine (even though Jesus compared His blood to wine WHILE drinking wine Himself), but we preach that the Father of Jesus runs an eternal Auschwitz in the sky for anyone who doesn’t believe the right way, making Him infinitely worse than Hitler!
That to me, my dear brothers and sisters, is the real stumbling block. Presenting an image of God that is actually an idol. It’s high time we realize that image of “god” is not the Abba of Jesus Christ. That image of “god” is the accuser of the brethren, Satan.
For someone who has lived their life inside of religious and performance facades, it has been incredibly refreshing to begin embracing integration in my life. Tim Wright is learning how to be the same person in every scenario. And that’s a miracle for me.
That is why for me, immediately taking a picture down of myself with a cigar and alcohol because of people’s opinions, would’ve actually been submitting back to the very bondage that the Lord has been delivering me from!
I do not advocate the abuse of alcohol or any other substance. The truth is, we can become dependent on just about anything when we allow it to take the place of our co-dependency on His presence.
We are designed to drink from the intoxicating New Wine of His love without moderation and in absolute excess! And when we find our unbridled pleasure fulfilled in Christ alone and His indwelling glory, we won’t need to turn to other things to satisfy that inner ache. Then, we’re free to enjoy all things in Godly moderation, with thankfulness and a content heart.
Surely, my heart was not to intentionally damage anyone with my picture. If I offended you, will you forgive me? I love you! If I brought up painful memories of abuse that you’ve suffered or committed, will you forgive me? I love you!
There is one thing that I am wholeheartedly committed to taking down! And that, my friends, is the demonic lie that God is somehow different than Jesus.
I actually want to thank everyone that commented on my picture, both negative and positive, because you were willing to bring your thoughts to the table in a conversation. And that’s what this is all about. Being family.
You don’t have to cover up any part of your story, no matter how deep your pain or loss. Once you realize that Love does not keep a record of wrongs, you’re free to stop keeping a record of them yourself by hiding them in your shame. And once you know the truth about you, letting go of every shameful facade into the ocean of His grace becomes easy.
If you’re a victim or perpetrator of sexual abuse, don’t let your secrets lock you into a prison of isolated despair. It’s a lie that you’ll be safer inside of that delusion. You’re not. You’re safest in the wide open spaces of vulnerability and child-like trust. You’re not alone. There’s a family of believers waiting to embrace you.
Only when we embrace honesty with ourselves about what we’ve lost, can we see for the first time just how found we already are in Him! And in letting go of the facade that we are sinful or broken victims, the truth about who we really are begins to emerge like a tidal wave in our consciences!
We are good. We are loved. We are clean. We are whole. We are perfect. We are safe. We are His!
In 2006, Jesus began giving me opportunities to talk to the people that I had abused when I was younger. He led me to share with them how the love of God had changed me. I asked each of them for their forgiveness for what I had done to them. It was so powerful.
One of them, after hearing my heart, confessed to me that their boyfriend had died recently in an accident, and they were planning on committing suicide the following day. They allowed me to pray for them, and healing tears flowed freely, right at the gas station where they were working at, and suicide broke off of them.
I remember feeling how precious the leading of the Holy Spirit was through confronting these painful situations, and I knew that if I wanted to continue to grow in my intimacy with His love, that I needed to obey His leading. I’m so glad that I did. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had hardened my heart to His tender, leading love.
I haven’t had the chance to talk to my abuser yet. But I’m looking forward to the day where I can. And when I do, I’ll tell him that I love him and forgive him. And that Papa is especially fond of him.
I wanted to break open some of my inside world for you so that you can know and understand more of who I am. I also want to encourage anyone reading this to go on the adventure of following Jesus out of your shame and into His glorious light! You’ll be so glad that you did.
Our Lord wants to take the little bread and fish of your life, bless you, and break you so that the brokenness of your heart can be multiplied to feed the nations!
And just like Jesus told His disciples to gather up all of the fragments of the multiplied bread so that nothing would be wasted, we too find the broken fragments of our hearts, seemingly lost for good, scooped up in the hands of His disciples, waiting for us to discover unfolding pieces of who we really are, hidden in relationship with one another in Him!
I look forward to the next time that we break the bread of our hearts together, face to face.
In His relentless affection,
March 12, 2015 began just like any other day. I woke up next to Bill, my husband of nearly 25 years. Bill, was my favorite person. He was everything to me. He was my rock and my comforter. Even after having raised 2 kids, and having seen one another through all of the challenges and victories in life, we still really liked each other.
Bill was one of those very rare men who you could count on always in all ways. He was big and strong and very, very dependable. That paled in comparison to his love for our family, his kindness, impeccable character and willingness to indulge me with a courtesy chuckle at my bad jokes and puns. If Bill was there, you just knew everything was going to be okay.
We were a very typical family who lived in the Suburbs of Northern Virginia. Bill worked for the Federal Government in a position he worked hard to attain. I had been in Real Estate for years and had a career that was considered to have been successful. Our two amazing children, 24 and 22 years old, were both out of the house pursuing their education and dreams of their own.
Both Bill and I were believers in and followers of Jesus. We had served in ministry our entire marriage and had a ministry years before this fateful day called, Christ Stalkers. It was a youth ministry and over the 10 years we were its overseers, there were more than 4,000 youth who came to know Christ as their savior. We had planted churches and raised our family in church. Ministry and a relationship with God was no stranger to our family.
But by the end of that day that had begun like so many of our more than 9,000 days together, my beloved had gone home to heaven. In an instant he was gone. In fifteen minutes Bill went from saying he, “didn’t feel quite right” to taking his last breath as I held him in my arms. He was gone. My everything was gone. He was 49 years old.
After the doctor told me they were unable to revive him and did, “everything they could”, my son, who was home on Spring break, went to call people and I was left alone in that ugly, little room. We all have seen that room on TV where they take the family to break “the news” that looks so Hollywood-inspired, for dramatic effect, but is quite real. I tried to process all of this.
He had ankle surgery and had been in the hospital but was given a clean bill of health. But an oversight by the doctors, who did not prescribe blood thinners, and he died of a blood clot, taking everything from me and our kids. Not Bill. Are you sure? MY Bill? Things like this just don’t happen to people like us!
Who was I now? Since I was 21 I had been his wife. It was painfully obvious to me that I no longer held that distinction when they handed me his ring. The ring that belonged on HIS finger, not in a little bag in MY hand.
He was everything to me! How can I get through this life without him?
For a quarter of a century it had been Bill and Heidi. When people thought of me, they thought of him and vice versa. We were fine on our own but we were much, much better together.
Now, without him, who was I?
And our kids! How can I be everything to them that they needed him to be to them?
The immediacy of the pain was overwhelming and took my breath away.
So, I sat alone, in that ugly little room. Or perhaps it was quite pretty, I don’t know. And THAT is when God, although already very real to me, simply invaded my life in a whole new way.
I opened my mouth and my own words surprised me. Through tears, I whispered, “God, I NEVER questioned you when you were blessing us. I will NOT question you in this.”
HE gave me the grace and the wisdom to speak those words. I am not that gracious or that wise. He is.
I was a Christian for over 30 years but it wasn’t until I was suddenly and unexpectedly widowed that I became a TRUE Christ Stalker. It was in that moment, God ran to me and I to Him.
I needed God for every breath. I had trusted Him before but I had never had to trust Him like I did now. And in the midst of my pain and the vast absence of my Husband I found what I had longed for all my life, the unconditional love of Christ. And God had finally gotten from me what He had put me on this planet for, the absolute reliance on and unencumbered relationship with Him.
Over the last three years, there were times when the only movement forward I was able to muster was an army crawl, on my stomach, in the muck and the mire.
And times when I thought the pain on Bills loss was so overwhelming that I was surprised that I woke up because I thought the physical anguish alone would have killed me.
But in all of that, I pursued and consumed Jesus like never before. And He met me. He never left me. He was pursuing me as I was pursuing Him.
It has been, at times, a heart wrenching journey and I have cried more tears than I ever thought one person could create. But in all of the pain and uncertainty, Jesus has revealed Himself to me in a way I never thought possible!
My life now is a true fulfillment of Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
The love God has shown me in this journey is like no other. He carried me when I needed to be carried. He held me when I needed to be held. Gave me strength when needed and has become all things to me always, in all ways.
It is difficult to pick out just one scripture that got me through. God used every verse to speak to and comfort me. But Joshua 1:9 is probably my favorite: Have I not commanded you to be bold, strong and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you, wherever you will go.
What a beautiful promise!!
There is one song that I put on loop whenever I felt like I could not even get through the next second. Some of the lyrics that gave me great hope were found in the song, It is well:
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
It is well with me
Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see
And this mountain that’s in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
It is well, it is well
So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name.
~ Heidi Krieghauser