by Susan Sampson

Pathway to True Intimacy –

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26).  This journey feels impossible.  But feelings cannot be trusted!  Feelings are not truth.  Only God’s promises are to be trusted.  As I am confronted again with the wall of self-protection that I have erected around my heart, I am compelled to look to the Lord.  As I stare into the abyss of my fear of intimacy and idolatrous need for control, I have to choose by faith to believe that He will make a way where there seems to be no way.

We have the most adorable dog the Lord ever created.  Her name is Paddy.  She is precious and I adore her.  But I can easily call to mind the day she got hold of a chicken bone off the dinner table.  She was like a ravenous beast, growling at me as if she didn’t even recognize the mommy she loved so much.  It was next to impossible to get that bone from her.  I believe my husband finally was able to hold her down and wrestle the bone out of her mouth!  This is such a helpful visual image of our depraved flesh.  I was so encouraged when Laurie said, “It’s possible to get the bone out of the dog’s mouth and that the Spirit would rule in my heart.”

She then went on to say that if I’m not letting go it’s because I want to please self and not God. There is a reason we have all heard the statement, “the truth hurts.”  It’s because it is true.  Yes, the truth hurts.  But it is a good and necessary hurt.  The Lord is lovingly and graciously and gently sanctifying each of His precious children.  I don’t want to continue following my flesh and my old ways that lead only to darkness, despair, and division.  This is what the enemy would want.  He wants to keep me in the prison of pride and self-righteousness.  But Jesus came to set the captives free!  He made a way out.  He took my sin of idolatry and endured the punishment for it that I deserve.   And then in exchange I received His righteousness.  I no longer need to fear.  I am forgiven and free.

The Lord has given us the gift of new life.  He has given us the gift of faith.  He wants us to trust in Him.  Trust His goodness, His love, His faithfulness, and gentleness.  We can trust and be intimate with this One who demonstrated His love on the cross.  He has shown us the way.  We can and must leave self and cleave to our beloved Savior.  We are in Christ.  We are His bride.  We are beautiful in His eyes.  No shame, no fear, no guilt.  He has washed us clean, made us whole, taken us in.

It’s time to tell our boyfriends good riddance!  To be done with them for good.  To kick them out of our lives.  The boyfriends I must be rid of are “perfection and control.”  These idols have only brought me and my family hurt, disappointment, pain, confusion, despair, and anger.  The Lord calls us to repent and turn in faith to Him.  Intimacy requires –

  • sacrifice
  • vulnerability
  • risk
  • hard work
  • death to self

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26).

Thank you, Lord, for loving us just as we are!  Help us, Lord, to leave everything and cling to you alone!  Give us the grace we need to turn from fear to faith and trust you and your Word!  We want the intimate relationship with you and with our husbands and our family and friends that you long for us to have.  Give us grace to surrender all!  Grant us repentance and true faith that you would be our all in all!  Enable us by your grace and your power to walk the pathway to intimacy and find the greatest love we will ever know!  Jesus, we want to love you!  In your name, Amen.


by Angie Thomas

Fear and Lack of Vision.  Both strongly affect our intimacy with Christ.  Laurie referred often to Isaiah 54 during a recent lecture, and in this powerful passage we find clear promises addressing these two struggles.  PLEASE take time to read this chapter in Isaiah and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart.  He has so much to say to you.  Let His Word revive your heart and bring healing to your brokenness and doubt.

Fear.  We all struggle with it in one way or another.  Fear that God doesn’t truly love us, or if we surrender ourselves fully to Him we will suffer shame and humiliation, or fear that we are on this journey alone, or that at some point He will abandon us.  The list could go on an on.  How can we truly draw near to our God in oneness and intimacy if we doubt His love and goodness?  Listen to these powerful promises from Isaiah 54:

“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.
Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
You will forget the shame of your youth
and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.
For your Maker is your husband—
the Lord Almighty is his name—
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the God of all the earth.
Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you
. (v.4-5, 10)

Lack of Vision.  I believe much of the malady found in the Western Church today is caused by a myopic view of God and His Kingdom purposes.  His never-ending, never-giving up love for you is intended to root you deeply in Christ, NOT so you can have a nice, happy life BUT so you can be a part of His bold, daring, and scandalous story that has been unfolding since the Garden of Eden.  It is scandalous because never has there been recorded in history a God who comes to and sacrifices His life for His people.  It is upside down, paradoxical, and GLORIOUS!  And YOU, dear sister in Christ, are being called to play an important, vital role in the story.  He has SO MUCH MORE for you than the American Dream (i.e., cute house, handsome husband, and designer clothes).   Listen to His words in Isaiah 54:2-3:

Enlarge the place of your tent,
stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
your descendants will dispossess nations
and settle in their desolate cities.

He wants you to be a part of reclaiming nations and cities for His glory! Remember when Jesus gave instructions to pray for, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” while He was on earth? He was instructing us to pray for the establishment of His kingdom here and now and inviting us to be a part.  So many of us cling to this false idea that our salvation is simply fire insurance allowing us to live for ourselves until we die.  You were created for so much more!  He wants to form a shape you as a vessel for His glory, a Mighty Warrioress equipped to do damage to the kingdom of darkness.

“See, it is I who created the blacksmith
who fans the coals into flame
and forges a weapon fit for its work.
And it is I who have created the destroyer to wreak havoc;
no weapon forged against you will prevail,
and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.
(Isa. 54:16-17)

As you join into this adventure, you become a part of this beautiful, breath-taking structure being built…the Global Church.  He promises to redeem and restore every nasty, horrible dark part of your life that you hope no one ever knows about so that His power, might, and glory will be displayed not just for you but those yet living in darkness.

Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted,
I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise,
your foundations with lapis lazuli.
I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of sparkling jewels,
and all your walls of precious stones.
All your children will be taught by the Lord,
and great will be their peace.
In righteousness you will be established:
Tyranny will be far from you;
you will have nothing to fear.
Terror will be far removed;
it will not come near you.
If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing;
whoever attacks you will surrender to you.
(Isa. 54:11-17)

May these precious promises from Isaiah 54 speak to your heart and draw you into an intimacy with Christ that is characterized, as Laurie described, by sacrifice, vulnerability, risk, work, and ultimately death to self.  In return, He promises an abundant, rich, and rewarding life in Christ.

by Susan Sampson

Lord, I confess I am angry.  Please forgive me.  Please have mercy on me.  Thank you for this lesson.  It was painful to work through, but I thank you for giving me eyes to see my sinful anger.  Please give me grace to repent and to put on love and a gentle and quiet spirit which is of great worth in your sight!

The most beautiful picture stood out in my mind as I listened to the recent lecture.  Laurie rightly reminded us that it is all because of Jesus that we have been spared from the wrath of God.  She instructed us that the first and foremost thing to have on our minds at all times is the love of Christ who “stood in front of us!”  I could so clearly see my Lord standing in front of me with His arms spread out wide, protecting me and bearing the wrath of God in my place.  There is no greater love!

Think about this!  Romans 5:8 says, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  And verse 10 says, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son…”  We were Christ’s enemies when He loved us by dying for us.  This is why He can and does command us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.  This is what Jesus did on the cross when He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  He had every right to be angry and yet He had mercy.

These past few weeks the Lord has been showing me more and more of the depths and pervasiveness of my sinful anger.  I want to hurt those who hurt me.  I want paybacks.  I want revenge.  I don’t want to love my enemies.  I want them to pay.  In those moments I am living in unbelief, forgetting completely the mercy and grace I have been given.  Not truly believing that I was an enemy of Christ, fully deserving the punishment of death.  He had mercy on me so that I would have mercy on others.  “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matt. 5:7).

So what do we do?  We go immediately to the Lord.  We confess our anger and cry out to Him to give us grace to put our sinful anger to death.  And then we follow in the footsteps of our beloved Savior and pray for the person we are angry with.  This is such godly counsel.  This is the way of Christ.  This is the way the Lord will soften our hearts!  This is the way the Lord will grow love in our hearts.  Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

Lord, “keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!” (Psa. 19:13).  Lord, you do not retain your anger forever, because you delight in mercy (Mic. 7:18).  Lord, enable us by your grace to be slow to speak, quick to listen, and slow to become angry (Jam. 1:19).  We need your Holy Spirit to enable us to choose to serve you in that moment of decision, to enable us to be a fragrant aroma!  Thank you Lord, that with you all things are possible!  Thank you for your mercy.  Thank you for not treating us as our sins deserve.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.