In my latest posts you may have noticed I'm trying to share steps I took to get to Jesus (and am still taking because I haven't arrived...I've just had my hunger deepened exponentially).I keep trying to write nicely and type things professionally but the older I get the more I just want things given to me straight so forget good writing - you'll get no fluff today. Here it is and it's plain to understand.
As I went on this journey I would read books, attend lectures, or talk to people who I felt knew Jesus and it frequently led me nowhere. I would think to myself, "Don't give more scriptures to ponder or talk about how we all just need to be better - quit beating around the bush - just tell me what the hell you did to get to Jesus! I mean it - what is the hell you did?! Like, specifically."
So I'll just say it. Lying will land you in hell. Not forgiving will land you in hell. And following a prophet or yourself or someone else who seems to "know more" than you will land you in hell. To put it more simply: hell is, "the world in which you now live." D&C 76 says:
98 And the glory of the telestial is one, even as the glory of the stars is one; for as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world; (Besides outer darkness, telestial is the worst!)
99 For these are they who are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas.
100 These are they who say they are some of one and some of another—some of Christ and some of John, and some of Moses, and some of Elias, and some of Esaias, and some of Isaiah, and some of Enoch;
101 But received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant.
102 Last of all, these all are they who will not be gathered with the saints, to be caught up unto the church of the Firstborn, and received into the cloud.
103 These are they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie.
104 These are they who suffer the wrath of God on earth.
105 These are they who suffer the vengeance of eternal fire.
106 These are they who are cast down to hell and suffer the wrath of Almighty God, until the fulness of times, when Christ shall have subdued all enemies under his feet, and shall have perfected his work;
I've been on this journey for 13+ years. Some of you reading this have been on it far longer and some shorter. I'm writing because I wish I would have had someone tell me things straight up so I didn't have to wade through so much shizzle the last 13 years.
I value what I went through, yes. I wouldn't change it, true. But man it was hard and I spent countless hours with people who were "some of Christ and some of...(fill in the blank)".
Because "some of Christ" was interspersed in the conversation - I assumed it was all Jesus. But it wasn't. And I got kicked in the teeth and learned why the Lord says hell is all you're going to get if you're just a little of this and a little of that. I learned why he said that if you do some of this and some of that that then you "love(s) and make a lie".
Simply put: You don't want Truth.
Instead you want "the vengeance of an eternal fire" of your own making (v.105).
All in on Jesus is the only way out of hell.
Start speaking the truth
My husband and I made some family values that we desire for each of our children. We put them on a canvas and hung them in the bathroom where they're sure to get repeated notice. One value we have is:
We Seek The Truth and We Tell The Truth,
Even When It's Hard
Jesus is The Truth.
When you speak truth, as you understand it, you will find yourself drawing nearer and nearer to Jesus. And when the truth, as you understand it, isn't the full truth - you'll find that out and Jesus will point you to the greater Truth and later you'll discover the even greater Truth until all that abides in you is Truth.
When you lie or even when you deceive yourself - you walk in darkness at noon day.
In other words: you walk in hell.
If you are seeking Jesus - start by making a promise to:
Always tell the truth and Seek the truth,
even when it's hard.
To walk in Truth means you:
Walk in Forgiveness.
To paraphrase Jordan Peterson....you're stupid and foolish and a total mess. And yet...you have all the grace in the world for yourself. Extend that a little bit to your family, to your neighbor, to those around you that disgust you (airports and carnivals bring out the most judgie of judginess in me).
Turn your disgust or hurt or anger: into prayer.
Pray for your enemies.
Pray for those that hate you
and those that...
You will never draw nearer to Jesus with daggers in your heart. And perhaps you've gotten so good at hiding and managing the daggers that you don't even believe you have any and you're sure they're just little spots and no big deal and of course you forgive everyone and it's all good.
But it's not.
It's the only way out of hell.
And you want to leave hell. Right? You want to ascend to Jesus - yeah? You crave peace - huh? I mean...do you run from it when it requires more of you than you're willing to give?
Then maybe you don't crave peace or the Prince who is the Author of Peace.
Or, maybe you ignore the desire for peace and you busy yourself so you don't have to think about it but then you find yourself snapping at people or eating more than your stomach wants or sleeping (or not sleeping) longer than you should or watching TV, or pouring yourself into your kids activities or avoiding relationships and gatherings that might require you to face some things you'd frankly rather run from or die trying.
In the Bible we learn of a great commander of the army of Syria called Naaman. He was, as you know, a leper. Naaman's wife had a servant girl from Israel who said that a prophet there would be able to heal him. Elisha sends a message to the King advising to send Naaman to come to him. So Naaman does.
Naaman comes all that way with his chariots and gifts and fanfare RIGHT to the doorstep of Elisha.
What does Elisha do???
Elisha sends out a little messenger to tell Naaman to go and bathe in the stinky, dirty, gross Jordan river seven times and he will be clean.
Naaman is super bugged....angry even.He came all this way and for what?! A "messenger" to tell him a message?
So he turned and went away in a rage.
"And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean? Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean."
Just reading those verses makes me cry. I love Naaman. He was raw and broken and hopeful and embarrassed and then...he was humble. Because he spoke the truth about how he was feeling then his little servant could come to Him and say a few words that softened his heart so he could go and wash himself and become CLEAN!!!
I am filled with sin and a loser and prideful and hateful and vengeful. Judgemental. Rude. I have all kinds of unkind thoughts. But if I have anything I can offer to you today, it is to, as that servant did with Naaman, beg you to not turn away from what the Lord is asking you to do. If the Lord had asked you to exercise faith in the grandest of ways, you would do it. But He isn't. He's asking you to bathe where it's dirty and gross but He promises to heal you if you will...
Here is what He asks of you:
Forgive everyone in your life.
There are many ways. I will just share with you one way to get started on your forgiveness journey to get to Jesus. I taught this method for 14 years in a self-help class for people that had been abused and were trying to go back to college. I convinced a few of my friends to come and take the class and one friend was just a gem of a guy. He was the peaceful, non-judgmental type. He always walked slow, no rush, just chill. He always had a smile.
When it got time in the lesson where I taught about forgiveness he was open to it and took notes. I saw him a couple of months later looking much thinner. I'm always looking for ways to drop a few pounds and so I immediately asked him what he'd been doing. He said, "It was your forgiveness lesson. I didn't think I had anyone to forgive but I did it because you asked us to. I cried and cried. I felt the Lord come into the room as I did it."
And here is what you will do...if you're serious about seeking the Face of the Lord. And I'm not trying to manipulate you by making you feel bad that if you don't do it then you're not serious. I'm just speaking the truth! If you're serious - then you'll go through this process. And here's why - Satan thrives in our minds. He hates when we speak the truth or we write the truth. Because it brings it out of the prison of our minds into this physical world and then - truth has been spoken and life can begin to grow. Our minds are like a coffin, no air, no light...but speaking what's in our minds brings shafts of light and gusts of wind into the tomb. And resurrection happens. There's a reason why the Genesis creation story says, "God said, Let there be light" and all of creation came into motion. The Word is Truth and the Truth is Light and in the Light is God!
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
Once you pray and specifically invite Him into this, then get your notebook and:
1. In the space below list all the things that I am angry at and have never forgiven myself for. (This should take a while...)
2. List all the people I am angry at, and what they did, that I have never forgiven them for. (This should take a while...)
3. Write and pray aloud if you can: "I forgive or release or accept (write their name) for (what they did).
4. Then write and pray aloud if you can: "I am grateful to (the person) for (what you learned or what came from it)."
When you take a hurtful situation and ask the Lord to help us look for gratitude we are persuaded to reevaluate our perspective and potentially change our grievance story. You may discover things you learned and ways in which you grew as a person due to someone else's hurtful behavior. When you do this with Jesus, you can begin to see yourself as more than a victim. You can also begin to see the other person as a "human being" rather than a villain.
I recognize that abuse situations may have happened to you. I am saying this for general forgiveness situations and where abuse has happened, being grateful would be very difficult and should not be attempted unless the Lord is walking you through it specifically.
Here is a quote that may help:
The Dilemma of Parenting
by Henry T. Close
"There is no question but that our parents failed us as parents. All parents fail their children, and ours were no exception. No parent is ever adequate enough for the job of being a parent, and there is no way not to fail at it. No parent ever has enough love, or wisdom, or maturity, or patience. No parent ever succeeds completely. As kids we needed more mothering than our mothers could give us - more fathering than our fathers had to offer - more brothering and sistering than we got from our siblings.
"Part of our task in growing up thus becomes finding our own sources of parenting - to add to what our mothers and fathers were not able to give us. We cannot wait for our parents' permission to grow up. We need to decide on our own to give to ourselves what our parents couldn't. To grow up isn't easy, but in order to do that we must forgive our parents. We must forgive them for our sake, not theirs. When we do not forgive them we are still expecting all of our parenting from them. We are clinging to them in the hope that tif we wait long enough - or do enough of the "right things" or make them feel guilty enough - the will finally come through with enough parenting for us. But this is impossible. And in order for us to be really free to find other sources of parenting, we must forgive..."
When I first did this exercise years ago, it was hard. I didn't know I had so much resentment inside of me. No wonder getting to the Lord felt like slogging through mud. I was dragging dead bodies of the past behind me.
When I started this forgiveness process I had a few people in my life who hated me...I could just feel it. And I hated feeling that. I would try harder to make them like me and it only seemed to make them hate me more. I knew I needed to, "pray for my enemies," but I refused to offer such a prayer because I felt I had done nothing wrong! But finally, once I knew I could progress no further to the Lord until I had harmony in my relationships - I asked the Lord to help me have "the desire" to pray for them. Then, when I could take it no longer, I asked those people why they hated me.
I pressed again.
I got a small reply.
I pressed again.
I got pages and pages of a reply of how I was the worst human ever.
As I sat reading and contemplating (like Jean Valjean) "all the years, the waste" - I was angry. Many of those things I hadn't done or if I did do it, it was interpreted in the worst possible way. I cried out to the Lord about the injustice and the despair I felt. And He said, "Ruth, it must be consumed in you." And I saw myself as a giant furnace that took all their hate and let it be burned up inside of me where it would die and go no further.
And so, by the Grace of God, I did.
I accepted all their hate and their judgment and their accusations and I accepted it all. And I sincerely apologized.
I owned it.
What did it matter if it wasn't true? It was true to them.
And the Lord took all their hate for me and made beauty from ashes. I can truly say those relationships are the best they have ever been. Like Naaman, I bathed in the mud and came out clean. This was only possible because I was seeking the Lord's will and doing the Lord's will.
Sometimes people have hate that we may, with the Lord's encouragement, be required to take upon ourselves so they can see clearly. And if we take it, with His urging, and then it purifies us into something more holy than we were before. But don't manufacture this kind of thing on your own. It must be a call from God. He will guide you. He will direct you. Ask Him.
What I'm challenging you to do in this post isn't easy. And you don't have to do it, of course. But if you want peace. If you want joy. If you want an increase in your relationship with the Lord - then seek His Face and in His Face you will find Beauty, and in Him is no Lie - for He is Truth. If Jesus, from atop a bloody cross after having been scourged and beaten, can look down on His accusers and ask the Father to forgive them - then surely you can take time to walk through the forgiveness path yourself. And I say, "path" because when you forgive someone - sometimes you will have to do it more than once as you live your life and things "come up" that you didn't know were hidden in the depths of your layered soul. So be gentle with yourself. And be gentle with others.