Today, Sara and I leave on a ten-day vacation with our kids and grandchildren. We’ve been looking forward to this for a long time and having a break from our normal lives. However, that does mean our offices will be closed until Monday, July 2. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but we’re a two-horse operation here and both horses will be gone! However, we will have someone handling book and audio orders for us during that time. If you can hold everything else until we return that will be a gift to us. We tend to come back from such things with inboxes way too full. So, if you can hold your emails until we return, we would be grateful.
As we go, let me share an email with you I received recently. I love hearing how people who have been schooled in religious performance come alive in the reality of the Father’s love. Pharisectomy is a fun word I first heard a number of years ago in Alaska, from a then seventy-two year-old woman. What a great way to express having your inner Pharisee cut out so you can discover in every deepening ways just how loved you are. Unfortunately this is not an easy or quick operation. I’ve been on mine for 24 years now, and find there are still traces of that inner Pharisee running around in there that crop up at the strangest moments. I’m glad to recognize them, though and asking him to keep peeling back the layers that sets me ever-more free to live more freely in the world as his child.
Here’s the letter:
Because I grew up as a missionary kid, I knew all the verses that God is love, but I never believed it for myself. Although I have the best loving and caring parents they were missionaries, growing up in boarding schools I lived unloved as a child. I tried to win God’s favor and the favor of people for my whole life.
I married a pastor from a conservative denomination, and I got worn out and frustrated by all the “dead works” in the name of for God, Then I read He Loves Me! That was my biggest gift at the age of 50. For the first time I GOT IT!!!! I am a much loved child!!!!!!!
I have since read that book ten times, as it started my “Pharisectomy”. Every time I read it, it reveals a new Truth and expose new layers of misconceptions. Your book reveals so much Truth – it sets me free from my prison of performance and wrong perceptions. But so many wrong perceptions was set in cement in my head over 50 years – it takes time to be “unset” out of hard cement, then be replaced by Truth, and then to live it practically. Fortunately the Holy Spirit is there to do it.
I received In Season the day before the April holiday. What a revelation to me! I have always believed that you bear fruit throughout every year. I never understood the four seasons that lead to fruitfulness. I also thought the Great Commission was more important than the Great Commandment. I was experiencing a harsh, hot summer at my work place, but then you helped me to embrace my summer and stop praying “Rescue me,” but rather: “Let your name be glorified. Into your hands I commit my spirit.”
My biggest struggle was and still is to trust God, due to misconceptions and bad experiences growing up poor and now struggling although we are “working for the Lord.” Your book Beyond Sundays exposed so many lies I believed about ministry and church and missions. It helped me ignore the guilt and shame that haunted me and to let me enjoy my winter. And let God prune me.
Thank you for the revelations that set me free at an age of 50. I was a full blown Pharisee and my pharisectomy has not been easy, but its wonderful and the best thing that could ever happen to me. God used you mightily in my life. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Letting go of the guilt and shame that makes you feel unworthy of Father’s love is a valuable lesson for all of us. The spiral of unworthiness is debilitating, and every circumstance will seem to prove the deception. Knowing you have always been worthy of a Father’s love, not because of your performance, but because you are his child, will continue to set you free in ways you can’t imagine. Ask him. Believe him. He’s really good at this stuff!
And if you missed my TEDx talk on “Differences Do Not Make Us Enemies,” you can view it here.