Category: Undoing Death

This is a digging deeper into the ways and means to changing behavior with a goal of achieving a full measure of love, respect, significance, and security.

Dark Valley

20. The Valley of the Shadow of Death

AT THE RISK OF being condemned by the church people, I want you to consider the possibility of a dark side to God. To say there is a dark side of God may seem blasphemous, but it is my perception—and you may take it as only my opinion of reality—that God has a dark side.

To believe that God has no dark side is a contradiction to what you will find in the Old and New Testament of the Bible.

For example, God told Abraham to take his son Isaac up a mountain and sacrifice him as a burnt offering.

If Abraham had run down to the church to get the opinion of others, what do you suppose they might say about Abraham? My guess is they would have thought Abraham was off his rocker or listening to the devil, and then called Child Protective Services to get Isaac out of harm’s way.

How could a good God do something so evil?

You may recall the atrocities performed at the hand of Saddam Hussein, who thought of himself as the reincarnation of the former murderous king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. God said in the books of Daniel and Jeremiah that he put the evil Nebuchadnezzar in power.

Can this be the works of a good God?

Also, contrary to popular belief, it was not Satan’s idea, but God who gave Satan the idea and authority to destroy, but not kill Job, a man God declared as righteous.

It was God who said, in the book of Acts, that he chose Paul as an instrument to carry the name of the Lord before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.

He also said, “I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”

Would a good God cause pain and suffering to his faithful followers?

It was Jesus who foretold Peter’s brutal death. And it was Jesus who suffered so much angst that he sweated blood the night before his brutal death, and God who said that he gave his innocent son to die for the sins of the world.

Would a good God bring to death one he loved?

Jesus said there is no one good except his father, the God of creation. And, I believe, given enough time, Jesus will be proven correct. But, until that day comes, can you agree with me that God appears to be both good and evil?

I have learned that appearances can fool us.

It was my faulty belief—which is nothing more than my opinion rather than the truth—that if I obeyed God, he would bless me with a hedge of protection around me.

The belief was that God would protect me against the wiles of Satan. The belief was that if I were devoted to God, I would enjoy a full measure of love and security. And after eighteen years of following the Lord, God appeared to be all good.

And then the Lord appeared to change.

At first, I was concerned about how I was going to look to the world around me when I seemed to have fallen out of God’s favor, and my abundant life turned into scarcity.

But, still clinging to my faith as my life turned upside down, I was then concerned about how God was going to look to the world around me.

It seemed to me that we both had reputations to uphold, me being the faithful church lady, and he, well, he being a good God.

As he led me through my valley of the shadow of death, where my demons lived, and I did not rest comfortably by the still waters, the truth was revealed to me.

I learned that I have no clue what good is.

I also have no clue what evil is.

Good and evil are value words used to describe my perception of reality.

I learned that I do not have enough information to declare what is good and evil, but I do have enough faulty beliefs to think that I do.

Today, I have a better understanding of why Adam and Eve had to eat the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; why it was God and not Satan in control of that scene; why God set them up to disobey the only rule given; and why they had to be banished from their paradise. Read More...

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Storm Arriving

19. A Trip to The Dark Side

YOU'VE UNDOUBTEDLY HEARD it said that perception is reality. Is this true or false? It is certainly true that my perception of whatever is my reality.

It is a small distortion of the truth, but to be more succinct, perception is only my opinion of reality.

My opinion is not necessarily accurate. It may be accurate, but my opinion, simply because I have one, does not guarantee accuracy. My thoughts, feelings, and experience may give me the impression that my perception is reality, but if so, my reality could easily change if my thoughts, feelings, and experience change.

What I am saying is that I do not know reality outside my opinion of reality, and to believe otherwise will kill off the possibility of ever accepting what is truly real.

If I am not open to the possibility that what I believe is only my opinion of what is truly real, I may also do a sufficient job of killing you off at the same time. I’ll give you an example. Read More...

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Man and woman arguing breaking their hearts.

18. Right and Wrong

ONE OF THE BIGGEST SNARES that will kill off the pursuit of enjoying a full measure of love, respect, significance, and security is the belief that you know right and wrong. 

Go back to the beginning, at the moment of your first awakening, when you first knew that something was wrong. Something happened out there and you made a determination, in the immaterial part of yourself—your mind and heart, your thoughts and feelings—that you were in danger. 

It was the first moment that you believed you could save yourself, and after considering the information available to you, you developed your first strategy to make everything right again. 

That strategy led to your behavior. 

Your behavior was the result of your best thinking. 

My first memory was based on a very benign circumstance. I was in no danger, but I had been frightened. I had never, to my knowledge, been afraid before, but the feelings were not comfortable. 

I may have cried, as a way to get my parent’s attention, and I may have been shushed or ignored, but I have no memory of that. All I remember were loud noises and big people talking amongst themselves. 

In the moment of my awakening, I have a clear memory, even today more than fifty years later, of sitting in a bed, presumably my bed, and hearing a voice inside myself.

It was my inner voice. 

It was astonishing, and quite pleasing to me, that as I sat there, I soon knew that I was in a conversation with myself. 

I touched each of my toes and looked at the fingers on my hands, and as I did, I could hear this strange voice speaking the name of each appendage back to me. 

No one was paying attention to me, or this lively conversation I was having with myself, but I soon knew that I could speak the word “mama” and “dada” in my mind, even while looking at my parents, and they could not hear my voice. 

My first strategy was born. 

I believed that if I did not speak out loud, I could be invisible to others. 

As a way to keep myself safe in the future, I would not cry or speak out loud, but rather, I could entertain myself in the company of my inner voice, my new friend, and I would not be alone. In the future, when I did cry or speak out loud, and I soon regretted doing so because of something worse happening to me, my strategy was reinforced. 

Death whispered to me, “Hide your outer voice. It is dangerous to speak what you think or feel.” 

Who I am, enjoys talking. I enjoy being heard. However, most people are surprised and sometimes uncomfortable, to be with me in a social setting because when I am not wearing the costume necessary for my work, I am very quiet. I’m sometimes asked if I’m okay or upset because I have nothing to say. 

Was I born an introvert, or did I learn the behavior? 

I will not even guess what is right, but I do know that faulty beliefs and counterfeit strategies are buried deep in the psyche. 

What I do know about myself is that I am introspective. I would rather be invisible in a social setting and observe what is going on than to be the “life of the party”. 

I learned as a small child that it is not safe to speak when I do not know that what I am saying is right, and if there is a chance that I can be wrong, Shame and Humiliation will be right there, in my inner voice, to inflict pain and remove a certain amount of love, respect, significance, and security that I covet. 

Some of our biggest conflicts were born out of the faulty belief that something is wrong, always out there, with whatever—a spouse, a child, a friend or foe, an employee, the boss, a product or service, the competition, the economy, the government, and etcetera. 

Space in one's thinking for a different way to approach his or her conflicts is necessary because, until one can see that being right is the fastest trip to Death’s door, a person will believe that what is out there is wrong. Whatever it is out there will ring alarms and awaken him or her to the very real possibility that he or she will lose something. 

It should be said that if you refuse to believe whatever, then even with the evidence to the contrary, you will not believe. 

Without the space to allow for the possibility that what you believe can be right and wrong, or neither right or wrong, you will believe the way that you see right and wrong is right. 

To believe you know what is right and what is wrong is the very thing that keeps you in bondage. 

I am not saying there is not a right and wrong, but I am saying there are consequences to both right and wrong. 

What I am saying is that being right is not the end goal. 

Death wants you and me to believe that being right is good and if you are right then you are good.  

Death says being right is good and being wrong is evil. 

The problem with using right and wrong as your compass for life is that there must be a loser in order for you to win the race you are in to get to the place where you can finally rest. 

The race to victory began as a child and at some point, at least by your teenage years, your caregivers had to lose. You may have had other family members, friends, or teachers who had to lose. 

And unless you are different from anyone I have ever coached, religious or atheist, there was a day when God had to lose as well. 

That day occurred for me the day my newborn daughter died. To be certain, God was the loser many times before, but that day was a turning point for me. 

I had done nothing wrong to cause my daughter’s death. In fact, I had done everything right. I read every book I could find on pregnancy; I quit smoking and drank lots of water; I quit my job and came home to roost; I walked daily and ate healthily. 

I did my part, and I remember the day when the doctor stood in front of me and held his large hands out and said, “In surgeries like these, I turn my hands over to God because only God can save babies as sick as yours.” At that moment, I knew God was wrong. 

That scene was replayed for me on the day I met Jesus after he asked why I call myself Christian. I cannot explain it, but with the eyes of my heart, I saw tears in his eyes and without saying it out loud, I heard his words, I know the sting of death. 

At that moment, I no longer had a conflict with the Lord, and I felt reconciled and restored to him. 

The loss brings about grief and the effects of loss will linger long after the gut-wrenching feelings subside. 

Great loss is the catalyst for a lethal faulty belief and counterfeit strategy and one Death will nurture. He whispers: 

You did not deserve that blow. 

You were right and God was wrong. 

God has caused your pain, shame, guilt, and humiliation, and if he loved you, he would have saved you from this loss. 

From here on out, you must trust in yourself. 

Let’s put up a wall between you and God, and you will be hidden from him. 

You must go to church, as you have been doing, so you will not let others see your anger towards him. 

But you do not have to believe what he says. 

You now must know that if God is impotent to save you from evil, then no one can save you. 

You must face the reality that you are alone. 

Whatever becomes of you will be based on what you can achieve alone. 

You must know that you will be safer to trust only in yourself.  

It is God and Love that has hurt you so deeply. 

Let’s also build a wall around your heart, so that you will not risk this kind of deep pain again, for you know this pain almost killed you. 

Can you remember when you trusted the words of Death and blamed God for your loss?  Read More...

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Woman leaping over a chasm.

17. Being Good is a Counterfeit Strategy–Sounds Crazy Right?

UNTIL YOU BELIEVE that being good is not the goal for the life you really want, you will be in bondage.

Certainly you will suffer fewer consequences if you act “right” and the fear of natural consequences is most likely the primary motive behind “being good”, but as a strategy for life, it will never lead you to peace. Or rest.

It is a counterintuitive truth, I know, but so is much about what Jesus taught. Let me explain.

If you try to be good, you will look good out there and you may fit in. Or feel like a fraud.

If you work hard, the boss will say you are good, and you may feel significant and secure. Or feel like a hamster in a wheel.

If you are over-responsible for others, you will definitely be called good, even an angel on earth, and you may feel loved. Or used.

However, if you expect to get your needs met out there, you become a slave to “being good”. And doing. 

I didn't understand this truth so the day after my encounter with Jesus and realizing I had lost my Bible—probably a decade before—I bought a new one. Reading it became the most important thing on my busy agenda because I needed to know why he loved me after revealing to me that he knew the real me.

He also said he wanted my life, but he left before he explained what that meant. All I knew is that I had some work to do, and as a typical Type-A personality, I was going to be ready for his return, which I expected in the next week or so.

Like other business ventures, I was intent on winning in this one. So, I focused on what seemed to be important to him, which was presented in his case against me—why I called myself Christian. Naturally, I focused on being good.

Using my best thinking, I enrolled in a Bible study at the church so I could learn how to be a Christian in which God could be proud to call me his own. Gaining knowledge would certainly help me win. And become a good person.

Then I would be prepared for whatever it was that he wanted my life for. (Not to mention how good I would look to him.)

When I reflect back to those early days and years of trying so hard to be good and do right, I stand in amazement at how God got me here, where I am telling you that being good is not the goal. Read More...

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A decorated mask.

16. The Lies We Believe

ON THE DAY I MET JESUS, I learned that my strategies for success were counterfeit. It then took another twenty-three years to actually believe that my strategies for success were counterfeit.

That is how long it took to get my brain and my heart to agree with the truth.

If you get nothing else from my work, I hope you will not have to take as long as I did to sort out the truth from the lies you believe.

When I look back to that day of the most bizarre experience of my life when Jesus chose to visit me in my home, the truth was right in front of me. Of course, Jesus said he is The Truth, and he also said he was The Life, and The Way, so I should have simply kept my eyes on him.

And I would have, except that he disappeared as swiftly as he came.

I have shared my story many times and it has never mattered to me if I am believed or not. However, because I had already been in the church off and on since I was ten years old and claimed to be Christian, and because of what Jesus revealed to me, I listened to the words of Shame and Humiliation and kept the experience to myself.

Shame and Humiliation are a couple of the demons that stood guard outside the prison of my self-designed solitary confinement.

I listened to them regularly as they warned me to be careful of the dangerous world out there where I would be destroyed if people knew the truth about me.

So, I added one more secret about meeting Jesus to the many others I had accumulated over the past thirty-two years. It was those secrets that kept me in prison.

Death gives us plenty of room inside solitary confinement.

Mine was extraordinary. I had power, position, prestige, possessions, and people. I owned my business and therefore owned my time. Sort of.

I had more than a million dollars in the bank and could spend it as I pleased. Sort of.

I was a single woman. Sort of. Let me explain that one.

I hadn’t bothered to get a divorce from my second husband because neither of us was planning to get remarried anytime soon. I, for one, was never going to get married again. I figured I would look for a sperm donor a few years down the road—when I had enough money to retire and really focus on being the best mother the world has ever seen.

I thought I was already doing a pretty good job with the five-year-old I had, but my heart sank every time the nanny or other stand-in-the-gap college kid told me about a “first” or the wonderful day they had together playing.

I had a boyfriend and the fact that he was still married was another technicality.

I told you I was an adulterer and a thief.

It was an easy secret to keep because I could easily hide his clothes at the back of my closet when my parents came for a visit, and as long as he kept his own home, which I insisted upon, we weren’t really living in sin.

And with the times thankfully changing, and the fact that I was a powerful and successful woman; and the truth that God himself made me with this desire for a man in my bed; and we are consenting adults who just want to be happy, and I am not flaunting, but instead, I am hiding the truth; I figured I could still be regarded as the respectable woman I presented out there.

How’s that for case-building?

On the day I met Jesus, I was not looking for him. The truth is that I had no idea that I needed him for anything.

Before I met Jesus and experienced his unconditional love for me, I went to church for fifty-nine minutes every week because it made me look good, and I’d silently ask for forgiveness for the sins the church people pointed out in the scriptures.

And then I’d spend the next 167 hours of my week fighting the dragons and giants that were threatening to rob me of some measure of love, respect, significance, and security.

As a result, I kept a few secrets about God.

I did not believe God cared about me and I certainly did not believe he was good. When bad things happened, I believed there was no way God was powerful and until I met him, I believed all my secrets were hidden.

My life was a rinse and repeat of the Vicious Cycle in which I was entrapped like a hamster on his wheel running as fast as he could and getting nowhere.

My goal was to get ahead of the dragons and giants.
So I could rest.
And I really believed I could get there.
If only.

If you are on the short end of power, position, prestige, possessions, and people, you may think your “if only” would be a longer list than mine was. But that would be a faulty belief.

The truth is that if God is not the center of your life, then you are.

If your if only begins with “If only I had more power; If only I had a higher position; if only I had prestige; if only I had more possessions; if only I had the right people; if your if only begins with I, you are the center of your life.

This makes you the center of the universe and puts you in a coveted position of taking, even if you believe that when you get there, you’ll be able to give.

If you were told that you were going to meet Jesus on Monday night, what would you expect? Would you expect him to praise you for being a good person?

Or would you expect him to condemn you for the ugly truth found hidden among your secrets?

What do you suppose might be on his mind if he wanted to visit with you? Do you think he would want to talk about your success in life or would he like to focus on your failures?

Don’t bother to put a resume together because, if it happens to you, you will find that he already knows everything about you, even things you’ve long forgotten.

And you will know that he knows, because when he visits, he does not ask you to step outside your prison, and he doesn’t whisk you off to heaven to sit at his feet where he sits on the right side of God.

Rather, he will enter into your solitary confinement where you feel safe and secure from condemnation and judgment, and where you wear no mask or costume.

And you will stand naked before him.

The visit will be intimate.

It is in that moment, as the ugly truth about who you really are is exposed, and at the same time, you will be overwhelmed with a love that you have never experienced.

And I don’t care what you may have been told by the church people, without even asking for forgiveness, you will know that he holds absolutely nothing against you and because he already paid the price for your freedom, you have already been forgiven.[biblegateway passage="1 John 2:2"]

When he visited me, he spoke my name first and followed with one question, “Why do you call yourself Christian?” and before I could embarrass myself with an answer, he took me on a whirlwind trip through my past that proved to me that he knew that I was a fraud.

I knew that he knew that I was no friend to God.

But, as his love flowed through my being, I knew that I wanted to know him.

Time must have stood still because the company in my home was unaware that the author and finisher of Love had touched me. When we returned, much like we return to the present after listening to an old song that transports us to the past, he made one statement to me.

He said, “I want your life.”

What I did not understand that day was that Jesus came to set me free.

He did not come to be an example for me.

He came to be an example of me, the me I was created to be.

In the moment I gave him my life, in which he said he wanted, I was transformed. Something changed in me, and I was different.

How it happened remains a mystery to me, but without doing anything except speaking “okay” through the voice in my heart—which I didn’t know existed—I would never again be the same woman I was.

On that very day, Jesus set me free to enjoy a full measure of love found in the only One who will never need anything from me—not my time, money, or talent.

He is the only One who will never condemn or judge me for being human.

He is the only One who will never keep a record of my deeds or misdeeds.

The next twenty-three years, however, while I was trying to be just like him—the perfect Christian—I missed the whole point. Read More...

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