The Way of Wound-Washers

This morning I was reading through Acts when I happened on a particular verse that says, "And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds" (16:33a). I picked up my pen immediately and wrote in the margin of my Bible, "Something about this blesses me to no end.”


Perhaps the reason is a jail-guard washing a prisoner's wounds is just too much. Too compassionate. Too sweet. Too loving. Too upside down.

But is this not how our gracious God transforms hearts? Does He not redeem those in authority by transforming them into compassionate servants? Does He not work in such a way that people who are careless become caring, and those with hardened hearts get cracked wide open to authentically love people? Is this not the Gospel at work?

What's wild is this same jail guard nearly killed himself mere moments before he washed Paul and Silas' wounds. He thought they had fled while he was sleeping on the job. He certainly had good reason to when—he awoke to the prison doors being open—and everyone's chains sat there unfastened. Who wouldn't be afraid of their boss finding them at fault? Especially in those days; days of brutal punishment for wrongdoings.

Yet, out of nowhere, the jailer hears the Apostle Paul say, "Do yourself no harm, for we're all here!"

Can you imagine the shock reverberating through his system?

Paul saved his scrawny neck for crying aloud!

No wonder the jailer was so quick to reciprocate the kindness by washing Paul and Silas' wounds; wounds they sustained while wrongly accused, beaten with rods, and thrown into the inner courts of prison.

I love how God takes wrongs and makes them right.

Oh, friend. Talk about a true story we could get lost in!

What we need to know is these were no ordinary prisoners, the Apostle Paul and Silas. At one time, Paul was known not as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was Saul, a brutal religious fanatic. Just like the chief magistrates had mistreated Paul and Silas, the Apostle understood what it was like to victimize people wrongly. At one time he was a venomous man who thought he was wildly living for God while breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's beloved people.

So much so, get this—

Acts 7:59-60 tells us, "And they went on stoning Stephen as he called upon the Lord and said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them! And having said this, he fell asleep." "And Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death." Then, we are told, "Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house; and dragging off men and women, he would put them into prison" (Acts 8:1,3).

Do you, like me, find it fascinating how this once wicked man is now sharing a similar testimony alongside those he once vehemently railed against? Interestingly, we are told that when Paul and Silas are thrown into prison, fastened in stocks, they start praying and singing hymns of praise to God around midnight. WHAT? Not only that—the other prisoners were listening to them!

Can you imagine being one of them?

Furthermore, can you imagine being their God?

It's no wonder He caused "a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's chains were unfastened." Well, of course, He did! Their faith must have joyfully marveled Him, much like the centurion's faith marveled Him back in Capernaum while He ministered (Matt. 8).

I wonder whose legitimate love for Christ has transformed your heart at one time or another.

Has there been someone?

I've got a whole handful.

Even more, can you recall a time when you didn't deserve the love you received but Christ (in the other person) compelled them to love you regardless? I sure can. And I'm forever grateful, and I'll not forget it!

Dialing back to Saul, who miraculously became Paul, I bet he, too, never forgot the sound of legitimate love coming from the lips of his captive, Stephen. Breathing love when hate is seemingly justified is miraculously undoing. Or, at least it should be. It's not the world's way. It's the beautiful Way. The Way of wound-washers instead of wound-inflicters.

Maybe that's why this story did me in again?

It's not the way of my flesh but the Way of the Lord.

It's a life I want not only to believe in but to live.

A Plea To A Broken Heart

I'm unsure what you're going through, but I feel compelled by the Spirit of God to write this post in order to say to you today: God cares about the pain you are enduring right now.

Regardless if you can sense His abiding presence with you or not, He's right by your side. No mess has the power to pull you from His grip—even if, God forbid, you’re the one trying with all your might to flee from Him. His powerful right hand of authoritative love has ahold of you, and He loves you too much to let you go. The thing is, and sometimes it’s maddening, our Lord is faithful to His own even when His own aren't faithful back. As the Psalmist David so beautifully scripted,

“Where could I go from Your Spirit? Or where could I flee from Your presence? If I ascend up into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol (the place of the dead), behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning or dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall Your hand lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me and the night shall be [the only] light about me, even the darkness hides nothing from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You” (Psalm 139:7-13). 

Dear One, your God surely did call you forth to life; He knit you together in your mother’s womb, and He has a mighty, mighty plan for your life. What you can't see right now is this: If you will humbly surrender your pain to the One who promises to redeem it, He will use it for a greater good. He always does. He cannot help Himself. He’s good like that. And you can know that I’m not just speaking from my own experience—no, no. I’m speaking from the Scriptures where God Himself inspired these words:

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28).

This world is a disorienting, confusing and painful place sometimes—I know. But there is so much beauty, too. The thing is, hardships often overshadow the beauty by clouding our vision while fueling hellacious oppression. However, this you can know, this you can cling to: Jesus has overcome and so can you!

If you'll allow me the room to speak openly and honestly to your hurt and pain, I bid you not to harden your heart any longer or rebel against His kindness to you. Sometimes our pain is the exact ingredient our Lord plans to use for our greatest good and other's comfort and help. I've been where you are in brokenness. Maybe not your same situation but certainly a similar kind of misery.

What I’ve learned from my own seasons of brokenness is part of growing up into our faith is recognizing that our Father loves us too much to allow us to stay spoiled spiritual infants. He has a wonderful and mind-blowing purpose in mind for us to fulfill, and our purpose requires us to shed our fleshly childish ways. We have some God appointed work to do and some needly people to help.

Furthermore, even Jesus learned obedience by what He suffered. Hebrews 5:8 says so: “Even though Jesus was God's Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.”

So, how much more us?

Interestingly, Scripture also reveals that before Jesus fulfilled His ministry He had to go through the awful madness of temptation in the desert. The madness of emptiness. The madness of hunger. Yet, His Father never left His side. No, in all of Jesus' badgering and slamming against a desert wall, His Father was right there with Him—even in Him.

Child of God, He’s in you as well.

Listen, your God is with you in your fear. Your God is with you in your suffering. Your God is with you in your addiction. Your God is with you in your depression. Your God is with you in your troubled marriage. Your God is with you in your _____________.

Can I encourage you to bow down and to let your Savior save?

Can I talk you out of holding onto your pain?

Can I talk you into opening up your hands by allowing your Daddy-God to have it?

All of it…

Every. Last. Bit. Of. It.

Can I encourage you not to hold onto your pain like a proud victim?

Listen, “There will always be someone willing to hurt you, put you down, gossip about you, belittle your accomplishments and judge your soul. It is a fact that we all must face. However, if you realize that God is a best friend that stands beside you when others cast stones you will never be afraid, never feel worthless and never feel alone.” What we must realize is similar to what Shannon L. Alder realized.

“The chains that keep you bound to the past are not the actions of another person. They are your own anger, stubbornness, lack of compassion, jealousy and blaming others for your choices. It is not other people that keep you trapped; it is the entitled role of victim that you enjoy wearing. There is a familiarness to pain that you enjoy because you get a payoff from it. When you figure out what that payoff is then you will finally be on the road to freedom.” 

While I do believe chains from our past can most definitely be from the actions of others, I also believe there is a measure of truth here as well. We can take responsibility for our responses and, in doing so, we can also cry out to God to remove our every last chain. Come on now—why hang on to it? Let's let it go.

That's my prayer for you right this second.

The One who desires to take you into His arms awaits your sincere surrender.

Why wait? What's holding you back? 

You'll never be sorry for letting Jesus have His way. No, not ever.

In the midst of all the voices—Can you hear Him? 

He's calling you today, right now.

There's no shame in His presence. He wants you home. He's happy to take your tearstained face into His loving hands. Let Him love you. He wants to so badly.

I Was Blind But Now I See

“Buckle your seatbelt, Gal. And get ready. Satan won’t like this! You better guard your heart.”

Pam Case, the director of LifeWay Women (at the time), said those words to me as she threw her rental car into park. I was tracking with her. Or so I thought. What Pam was trying to prepare me for was the journey ahead. I would soon be serving Christ more publicly through our publishing partnership. What she understood that I did not was the enormity of the good fight of faith awaiting any sincere follower of Christ who surrenders all to follow Jesus AND to help liberate others. Little did I know, my entire life and ministry were mere threads away from shredding to pieces.

Oh, the brokenness! Oh, the confusion! Oh, the torment! Oh, the disillusionment and hopelessness!

You probably already know this but I needed a refresher: Sometimes we think we’re stronger than we really are. Not only was my thinking legitimately naive, I was flat-out pridefully blind. When the Bible says, “Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands [who feels sure that he has a steadfast mind and is standing firm], take heed lest he fall,” it means it (1 Corinthians 10:12). I fell so hard into the fiery furnace of affliction that I, at times, loathed my life.

Yet, it wasn’t until I was thrown into the fire that I saw myself. The real me. The raw me. The one who, when “sifted like wheat”, needed a powerful Liberator to free her captive heart more than she ever conceived.

And, boy, did He ever.

Last November Jesus performed a mighty miracle in my life, and I couldn’t be more grateful. I've kept quiet about it since it's taken time to process it before the Lord and to understand what all happened. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I do undoubtedly know this:

Jesus fought for me and saved my life.

Some details are much too private to share publicly, but as I've circled back around the timeline of events trying to understand how and when things went chaotically wrong, the Lord has (and still is) graciously giving me some titanic insight. Thank goodness! For He alone knows how I’ve begged for understanding.

The lessons I’m learning from that dark season are astounding and too many to share in a single blogpost. Some of it I knew in my head but now I know it in my heart. Anybody who’s honest will admit this is exactly where the battle wages every time—those twelve inches are crazy crucial.

One lesson I’ve learned is:

  • A prisoner who thinks she’s free is sitting pretty for a Satanic seduction. Unlike us, the powers of darkness are not blind to where we lack the light of Christ within us. Not only do the dark forces see it, but it also sends them into rabid celebration. They lie in wait and want to sink their teeth into any and all areas where the freedom of Jesus has not conquered our wounds or weaknesses with His mighty healing, sanctifying, and delivering power. These days I’m terrified by how insanely blind we can be to certain areas of our hearts, areas where we lack the healing, delivering and sanctifying power of God. We can think we are right about something yet be so astonishingly wrong. Wrong thinking can seep into our heads at such a slow drip that we're oblivious to the patterns our thoughts are forging. Lies can mushroom into baffling demonic proportions, sending us spiraling down into the worst gutter of our believing lives—even to utter madness. The lies can scream all sorts of things; lies about ourselves, about others, lies about God and, even, our very own faith. And it’s exactly what happened to me, then nearly destroyed me. The enemy used my past against me.

Another lesson I’ve learned is:

  • Jesus really is the safest place for me, for all of us. Each of us has our extremely personal reasons for why we desperately need Jesus. One of those reasons for me is that my past is too laden with years of severe trauma to stray—even the slightest bit—from my Lord and my God. Otherwise, in my raw humanity, I’m far too given to all manner of acute fears, and it’s awful, clenching vices. Like many of you, when I’m left to my own patterns of thinking, I self-destruct. And if Satan gets His way he will make sure I do, and he’s viciously glad to see it happen. Oh Church, we must guard our hearts and minds like Jesus Freaks who are not ashamed by what it takes to walk in real, authentic freedom. The days are too evil not to, and it’s worth every bit of shame or feelings of aloneness it takes to be sane. And not just sane. Happy!

Before I close, can I pray for you?

Dearest Lord, I pray for the one reading this blog who feels helpless, hopeless, or lost. Like You lovingly did for me, would You reach down from on high and rescue their precious life from the darkness? Would You display Your mighty love by delivering them from the vice-grip of evil? Even if they got themselves in this awful place. Please pour forth Your grace on this one’s life and usher forth a mighty miracle; because You are a good God and You long to do us, Your creation, good. Then, in Your time and to Your glory alone, I pray You’d raise this one up to declare Your mighty Gospel of salvation, forgiveness, love, grace, mercy and unfathomable saving works in this generation. For Your Name and renown Jesus, and the saving and transforming of many lives. In Your powerful, delivering, and healing Name I pray—Amen and amen!

Do You Struggle To Believe God's Promises For Yourself?

My mother in law Barbara, her best friend Sandra, my eldest daughter Peyton, and I spent a few days at a fabulous resort in sunny Southern California last week. Peyton and I were familiar with the resort, so she booked our stay on the internet. The pictures of the villas on the internet were sure inviting for a group like ours, of four. Plus, we could lay in the sun just outside our villa on the private patio overlooking the ocean. Who could ask for more?

Some promises are too good to be true.

In many ways, we felt deceived.

Now I'm not saying we didn't enjoy ourselves, we did. But what was promised and what we received were very different. The patio was covered, perched over a street below, and the ocean was in the far distance.

It got me to thinking about God and His Word.

The Bible is chock-full of fabulous promises inviting you and me to come, relax, and rest in the promises of God. Who could ask for more? But some of us feel like they're too good to be true. Maybe we even feel a little deceived. For some reason, God's promises don't seem to activate in our lives like they do in others. And it's discouraging. Where's the reality of what God promises ushering life into our minds and emotions? Perhaps we're even feeling a tad defeated, emotionally downcast, and maybe just a bit cynical. I get it. I’ve struggled at times in a few of these same areas myself.

But here's the deal. From cover to cover, God's Word reveals to us that God is not capable of deception. From Genesis to Revelation God is a good God, a more-than-fair God, and what He promises us He delivers. In fact, Numbers 23:19 says it rather plainly: "God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" What you and I must come to an agreement with God on is that every fabulous promise of God is already ours. We received them as heirs—and as an inheritance—on the day we first believed Him to be our Savior. The thing is, you and I have a personal responsibility to set our mind on what God says is already true by rejecting lies and speaking the truth to ourselves. Learning to encourage ourselves in the Lord by actively engaging with God, as well as speaking the His truth over ourselves, is a sheer necessity for any kind of sustained victory in Christ Jesus.

For example, Colossians 3:1a, 2-3 says, "If then you were raised with Christ... Set your mind on things above, not on things of earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." Here we see the responsibility falls on us. Another great set of verses is Romans 8:5-9a. "For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit. For the outlook of the flesh is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace, because the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in a the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you." And, lastly, Philippians 4:6-9 says this: "Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds a in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, a whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. And what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you."

So the questions we must ponder if we're feeling like "what God is promising us" and "what we're really living" don't match are these:

  • Am I guarding my mind by not allowing it to roam in deception?
  • Am I willfully stimulating my mind to dwell on what is true?
  • Am I fervently seeking to match my faith with His word daily?

Goodness gracious, you and I both know our feelings are fickle, and our thoughts can lead us into captivity quicker than any of us care to admit. Taking responsibility for our mental activity is not only vital to seizing God's promises personally but also to walking in the fullness of His promises; promises that are fabulously freeing to the soul.

Do You Want A Different Spirit Too?

"But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it." Numbers 14:24, ESV

For weeks now I've pondered this text. Like many of my brothers and sisters in the faith, I want a "different spirit." Something akin to what Caleb had. A spirit God could brag about if He were writing the Holy Scriptures now and speaking this way of you and me; of our life of faith in Him and how we walk uprightly in His ways. But I'm also mindful that to have this said of us —in the context of Numbers 14:24— means that when everyone else is going one way we, being different, must go another.

Toward faith.

Toward belief.

Toward the promises of God.

Seizing them, believing them, and walking fully in them.

As our truth, uncontested.

The thing about having a different spirit though is this: different can look or appear strange to others, yes, even quite uncommon; especially to those who are less committed to walking in the purposes, plans, and vision of God. The thing is, to be different requires risk. We see this in Numbers 13:30-32. It tells us how "Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once and possess it; we are well able to conquer it. But his fellow scouts said, We are not able to go up against the people [of Canaan], for they are stronger than we are."


Caleb didn't see like everyone else around him.

Caleb didn't think like everyone else around him.

Caleb was of a different mind and a different courage.

Caleb lived a highly consecrated life to His LORD.

The thing about Caleb that stands out to me, too, is that God called him a servant. I love that. I want that said of me! I bet you do too. What God means by Caleb being a servant is that Caleb must've seen himself as a wholehearted worshipper of His LORD and, because of this, Caleb lived bound to his LORD in every possible way. Which, to me, means how we see ourselves in Christ matters, it matters a whole lot. And here's the beautiful part, because of Caleb's worshipful heart and character, God gave Caleb what He had promised him. Yes, while everyone else around him died in the wilderness because of their blatant unbelief, Caleb (and his friend Joshua) marched on!

Into the promises of God! Laying hold of every place they were courageous enough to plant their feet! Standing on and attaining the very promises of God!

I don't know how this strikes you, but I cannot help but to think that the days are too evil for us (the Church) to live apathetic lives to the things of God and beaten down by the things of this world. Especially when our brothers and sisters are losing their heads on the other side of the world. Oh Church, let's not lose ours too—in mental turmoil and mediocrity. Like you, I must admit, at times, I've lived this way. But, praise God and by His power, I'm choosing not to anymore. God is doing a fresh work in me, and I'm asking for Him to do a fresh work in you, Christ's Body, too.

In recent days, I cannot get away from or resist this magnificent truth: If the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in you and me, then, I'd say we have a mighty inheritance dwelling in our bones! The very resurrection life of Christ running through our veins! Which, curious student that I am, always leads me to ask the simple but necessary questions, What is this mighty power for? I mean really? Is it not to deliver us from our bondages so that Our Lord can deliver us to a world that needs to see, know, and live in The Beloved's eternal life too? To know the risen Savior personally and be known by Him? I believe it is.

If I can be so bold to say so, I believe Jesus wants to help all of us back to our feet so we can be Caleb's in our generation. All of us! As I'm pressing into the Lord through prayer and studying the Scriptures more and more, I am increasingly made aware of how vital we all are in ushering in a fresh move of God into our generation. We may feel like nobodies, and quite insignificant, but if we'll do as God says in the book of Joshua 3:5 and "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you," and pray like we've never prayed before, I believe we'll begin to see the mighty promises of God fulfilled not only in us but also all around us. The harvest is plentiful! Jesus is alive and ever-willing to make Himself known by rescuing, redeeming, and transforming lives! But we must believe!

Listen, we are not overlooked by God in this generation; not me, and surely not you. Neither are we insignificant in this generation; not me, and surely not you.  Nor have we blown it too bad for God to use us; not me, and surely not you. Let's make today the day we mix our faith with this trustworthy confession. Amen?

As it stands, "For indeed we have had the glad tidings [Gospel of God] proclaimed to us just as truly as they [the Israelites of old did when the good news of deliverance from bondage came to them]; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because it was not mixed with faith (with the leaning of the entire personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness) by those who heard it; neither were they united in faith with the ones [Joshua and Caleb] who heard (did believe). For we who have believed (adhered to and trusted in and relied on God) do enter that rest..." (Hebrews 4:2-3a).