Friday, January 02, 2009

Guest Blogger: Susan Smith

Talk Wisdom's guest blogger for today is Susan Smith. She is the author of a weekly newsletter called, "Life in Israel - One Body." I met Susan via Stephen Bennett's blog way back in 2004. At the time, she was working for a Christian organization in Israel called "Bridges for Peace." We have been corresponding ever since.

When Susan was living and working in Israel, the newsletter was named, "Life in Israel." Upon returning, Susan explains the new name of her newsletter:

This writer lived in the city of Jerusalem on earth for five years (2002-2007).
You read about my personal life during those years and God provided many divine encounters with taxi drivers, Israelis and one man studying to be a rabbi in particular. You heard about encounters with other Christian volunteers from all over the world. The Lord did very important and crucial spiritual work in my personal life during those years.”

Because I am convinced the one Church body and Israel are one and the same, spiritually speaking, I changed the name to “Life in Israel-One Body.”

Susan's writing has blessed me (as well as all of her subscribers around the world) immensely over the past four years. I have shared several of her past newsletters here at this blog.

Today, I am presenting two of her most recent newsletters together in one post. It is a marvelous way to start the new year of 2009 - with the heartfelt, Jesus-loving, Bible-based wisdom that is contained and shared in Susan Smith's wonderful writings!

It is my prayer that you are blessed by these two marvelous essays as much as I have been!

In Christ,


Life in Israel-One Body 26Dec08

Have you ever received a Christmas present that causes pain? This year has brought the most shameful and painful gift into my life. In order to grow spiritually, we often have to face pain. Emotional pain hurts as well as physical pain. Jesus is our healer. The Holy Spirit is gentle. He never forces us to face an issue in our lives. We always have a choice. Are there things in your life that you need to work through with God?

The grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus the Messiah, the Father’s Son, will be with you in truth and love (2John 3) as you work through issues in your life. We can trust God. Even when others have hurt us, and we feel we can trust no one. We can trust God. Even when we believe or think no one can possibly understand, we can trust Jesus. The Lord knows our hearts.

All the days designed and intended for you were written in the Lord’s book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16). Is that hard for you to believe? Every Word of God is pure and flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him (Proverbs 30:5). Do you trust God? I do. He is a safeguard to those who put their trust in him.

So exactly what is this painful Christmas gift acknowledged by my heart? I have received one of the most excruciating and embarrassing revelations ever before in my life. I believe this revelation is from God. This is necessary. I must deal with it. The healing of my broken heart continues from sin that has touched my life. Praise God for his gentleness, his kindness and his grace. Too much light can blind a person. So often in our lives, we are unable to receive more light from God. In a sense there are obstacles to our sight just as there are obstacles to our spiritual growth. Only the love of God can remove the veil that covers our heart (2 Corinthians 3:14-15). Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8).

Two weeks ago we talked about hearts of stone. My heart is more pliable today than it was two weeks ago. Shameful memories from childhood can become demonic strongholds in our thoughts. I was in my forties before the sexual abuse by a brother during my early childhood was ever revealed to another human being. The memories of what happened were repressed and denied. These memories affected my behavior as an adult. I will be 60 next year.

Over the past two weeks there has been some unexpected feedback to this newsletter. One was from a doctoral candidate. This reader is working on her PhD dissertation. I have known her personally for more than 10 years, and her words of encouragement seemed like manna from heaven. Another message was from a reader in the State of Georgia whom I do not know personally. God’s timing is always perfect! The Lord used these two readers in a mighty way to encourage and lead me forward regarding the direction of these newsletters.

Following Jesus is often like stepping stones in our lives. We move from one to another as the Lord directs. The steps are always according to his good will and purpose. They are also according to his perfect timing. There is no running! By God’s grace we learn to wait on the Lord, and we learn to be strong (Psalm 27:14).

My waiting was difficult. It seemed very hard at times, but the Lord is my God. By his grace we have been saved, through faith . . . it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). Our faith is a gift from God every day. Praise the Lord. My salvation happens over and over again. I was saved yesterday, I am being saved today, and I will be saved tomorrow! Following Jesus is a daily walk for every believer. This specific “waiting” period for me began in the newsletter dated 14Nov08. More than a month ago you read:

For the past week I have had a bit of a struggle in my soul (mind, will and emotions) regarding the direction of this newsletter. To open my heart a bit, it concerns my biological family. One of my professors at Columbia International University (CIU) has been lecturing about different family structures and how family systems work. The Lord has used some of Dr. Wagner’s words to touch my heart deeply.

Dr. Wagner was a guest speaker this fall during chapel at my school. You can see a photo of Dr. Larry Wagner at this web page During the chapel message he quoted someone and said, “We can never be free from what we are unwilling to name.” That quote touched my heart for some unknown reason so during our next class meeting I asked Dr. Wagner for the source of his quote.

God has used the answer to my question to lead me in amazing ways over the past two months. Dr. Wagner recommended a book called Leading with a Limp. The writer is Dan Allender. Dr. Dan Allender received a Master of Divinity degree from Westminster Theological Seminary and his PhD in Counseling Psychology from Michigan State University. Currently, he serves as Professor of Counseling and President of Mars Hill Graduate School in Seattle, Washington.

When I ordered Leading with a Limp from Amazon online, there were several books written by Dan Allender. I also ordered The Wounded Heart: Hope for adult victims of childhood sexual abuse. This second book has unleashed a flood of emotions in my soul, and the Lord is using it tremendously to heal me more from the inside out. Let me share two things from this book:

A father who uses his daughter as a surrogate wife or confidante has bound his daughter’s heart to him in a subtly sexual way . . . the damage may not be overt, and in fact the daughter may feel so special that she would defend to her death the appropriateness of her father’s interactions. It is nevertheless abusive . . . The fact that sexual abuse can be subtle ought not cloud our perspective that it is equally abusive and damaging.

“Damaged” is how I have often felt as a woman. What exploded like a bomb shell inside my heart later in Allender’s book was this: “The child that is set apart for abuse is usually hated for his or her privileges by the other siblings. The child who feels different because of the abuse is then even further alienated due to the sibling jealousy.” He then wrote, “The silence is rarely broken . . . It remains a dark secret for years, if not forever.”

Jesus came to heal the broken hearted (Luke 4:18 and Isaiah 61:1). God prepared my heart and I was able to receive the truth. Jesus heals (Psalm 103:3). I am ready to break the silence. What a wonderful, yet painful Christmas gift this is to my heart and soul. We will continue next week as the Lord leads. Have a wonderful New Year’s holiday. ~ Susan Smith


Life in Israel-One Body 02Jan09

This newsletter will end for a while after today. My spirit, soul and body need a break. When we meet again, my plan is to share much more with you as the Lord leads. Since completing the course called Psychopathology, I am convinced the spiritual realm and the mental realm of our lives are closely related if not one and the same.

There is evidence of this supposition in my personal life and in the lives of others in my family. Les Parrot is a professor of clinical psychology and Leslie Parrot is a marriage and family therapist. In their book entitled Relationships, they talk about intimacy:

If you try to find intimacy with another person before achieving a sense of identity of your own, all your relationships become an attempt to complete yourself . . . when you come to a relationship lacking personal self-worth, all you can offer is neediness.

Wow! Drs. Les and Leslie tell about the “emotional baggage” we bring from our first homes on earth to our adult relationships. “No other relationship shapes who we are more than our family. Most of what we think, feel, say, and do is in response to the home we grew up in.”

No wonder Jesus said, “You must accept the kingdom of God as if you were a little child, or you will never enter it” (Mark 10:15). Every believer must be changed from within by a new way of thinking. You must “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Every mind and heart has been stained with sin during childhood. Only a supernatural power can change the way we think. We live in a fallen world, but we have a choice every day. The evil one can change the way we think as adults, or the Holy Spirit can renew our minds and transform our lives. We are slaves to the one we obey (Romans 6:16). Do you understand?

The feedback to last week’s newsletter has been overwhelming. Thank you for responding. “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God” (Isaiah 40:1). The outpouring of love and encouragement expressed by my brothers and sisters in Christ who read last week’s newsletter has been incredible. “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5). I stand amazed at the awesomeness of God’s love expressed by his people all over the world. Thank you. Your inspired words have brought great comfort to my soul.

Have you ever felt as though you are in over your head? You know what I mean. It is like biting off more than you can chew. We all have our limitations, and there are times we all need a break. It is painful to receive light that exposes our sin and the sin of those we love deeply. There are times we must be still and wait.

There are times we must be still and know that God is God (Psalm 46:10). We must stop our activity and be silent. Dan Allender expresses this so well in a book called Bold Love:

The key is that the silence that dawns in light of seeing your own sin does not discount the damage of others’ sin. It simply puts it, for a time, in the background, where it waits to be addressed when our own heart is less disposed to judge and rage at another’s failure.

That time of being still to know and the place for being silent in God’s light has arrived for Susan Smith. Allender says, “Silence is required for deep change . . . the silence that deeply changes our heart is the hush that comes when we are caught in our hatred and found to be without excuse.”

God has loaded my plate with delicious food as I continue to learn at Columbia International University (CIU). This week I have had another taste of something that is very important. What I have learned is true for you too. Wherever God has you is where he wants you for his good will and purpose. The mighty God of Israel never makes a mistake. He loves us with an everlasting love. The Lord has led me to CIU in order for me to receive more healing for my heart and soul as well as to prepare me for the future. God took me to Jerusalem for five years to heal my heart as well as to work with Bridges for Peace in the accounting department. My healing continues.

Dan Allender tells a bit about how God loves us: “He dares, in fact, to tear us away from all presumptions of logic, fairness, safety, and normalcy . . . He will have His way and invites us to join Him in the mystery of relationship.” Scripture tells us to ask, seek and knock; we are then assured that we will receive, find and the door will be opened (Matthew 7:7). There is only one door to life. Jesus said, “I am the door” (John 10:9).

The evangelist, James Robison, said in 1989 that no matter how active we are or how diligently we “serve the Lord,” if we do not know him, and live in intimate fellowship with him, then we are not in the center of his will, and we will not experience the mainstream of his blessings and power. I agree. What James Robison said is true for you and for me.

I believe with all of my heart that God has placed me in school during this season for his good will and purpose. I am to learn. I am also to receive more healing in my heart and soul. The Lord can choose to use us to touch hearts and lives no matter where we are or what we are doing.

The land of my life needs to be healed. God’s healing is continuous if we choose to receive. The land and life of my country, the United States of America, needs to be healed. “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). Does your life need to be healed? Does your country need healing?

We must always remember the correct order according to God’s Word. We must humble ourselves first. The second step is to pray and seek God’s face. The third step is to turn from our wicked ways. Then the Lord will hear from heaven; he will forgive our sin, and he will heal our land. No other order will work. Humility comes first.

Only in humility can we pray and seek God’s face. Only in humility by the grace of God are we able to turn from our wicked ways. Let us pray together, as Jesus the Messiah taught his disciples, for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). We will meet again after today. For now, the Lord is leading me to be still and silent for a season as I seek and ask for his mercy. Shabbat Shalom, until we meet again...


Susan Smith said...

Dear Christine--

For your new readers, I would like to add to this post that I was an active lesbian for more than 20 years and a drunk for more than 30 years.

Jesus set me free. I was delivered from homosexual acts in 1985, from the identity of a lesbian in 1988 and from drunkenness years later.

It is a privilege and a joy to tell the world via Talk Wisdom. Much love from the East coast to the West. (ss)

Christinewjc said...

Dear Susan,

I was out for several hours today. After preparing dinner this evening, I finally got back to this blog and posted your comment.

As I have mentioned to you before, you have a wonderful gift of being totally honest with your readers. You are completely honest and open
about shortcomings and sins of the past. We ALL have both, don't we?

You have an amazing testimony. It is an encouragement to all who read about your transformed life through salvation in Christ!

How wonderful it is for you to share with readers of your newsletter and readers here at Talk Wisdom about how and where God is leading you in your life. What you share helps so many people, Susan.

As I also have previously mentioned to you before, your wonderful influence over the years has helped change me - for the
better - more towards what you mentioned as being in "the center of God's will."

The Lord knows that my life has not always been there! But He draws me (us) - as willing vessels in Christ - back on track. How? Through Bible reading, prayer, and via Christian friends (like you!) who share wisdom with me and other Christian believers. Thank you so much Susan!

Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to post your excellent newletters here at my blog today. As of 7:19 p.m. PT, there have been 333 hits at Talk Wisdom! That is a LOT of blessed hearts!

Happy New Year and God bless you today and always! May the days ahead be happy, healthy, prosperous, and in the center of God's will for your life!