When Two New Full Circles Collide
Two new full circles colliding this week on the stage of my life.
My first and my last book are both being re-released in new revised and expanded editions. Both are actually memoirs about two different segments of my life that took me on a ride to desolation, but then God redeemed and restored.
Both books, in their own way, tell the story of what happens when we don’t allow God into the broken places of our lives, but instead look for ways to numb the pain. In each of these journeys, you see what comes when God is kept at arm’s length, and work and success become the drug of choice used to make us forget the trauma and betrayal.
What I’ve learned through all the suffering and loss is that if we don’t allow God into those places and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the unforgiveness, offenses, or other bitterness that we’ve not surrendered to Him, we set ourselves up for huge heartbreak. When we haven’t processed that pain properly, then we are vulnerable and easily deceived.
My first book, now entitled Empty at the Top: Exposing Spiritual Dangers in Multilevel Marketing was originally published in 1994, almost 30 years ago, and shows how I was deceived by a business model that uses people, manipulates, controls, and tempts them to sin.
Dangling the carrot of worldly success, riches, the American Dream these kinds of companies strategically market to potential recruits in ways that cause them to covet what someone else has and become discontent with what they have. Then the leaders of these organizations teach everyone to do the same in order to build their own downline and make it to the top.
I was encouraged to make my business my ultimate priority and was coached to encourage others to sell out, sacrifice, be “all in” and devoted to making it big … so devoted that you end up looking at everyone as a potential “team member” rather than someone who needs Jesus. I was taken in and used for my Type A drive to succeed, and it almost destroyed me.
My last book, Full Circle: Coming Home to the Faithfulness of God, came out early 2017, and so much has happened since then, it needed an update on the last 6 years and some added elements. But it too is a story of deception and redemption, only in different ways.
In this story I recount my nearly 13 years of spiritual abuse in what I realized (after leaving) was a bona fide Christian cult. The same struggle of not allowing God in to heal me left a wide-open door for me to be deceived by the so-called pastor and his wife.
Tragically, these kinds of con-artists and false shepherds (often-times going by the title apostle and prophet) are rampant throughout the church around the world, manipulating, controlling, and using the sheep for personal gain.
In that decade+ of spiritual abuse, I completely lost my voice, along with my marriage, family, 20 year old publishing company, career and house. But God redeemed and restored all that was stolen from me in ways that blow my mind. You just can’t make this stuff up! As messed up as we are, He is greater. Nothing we could do, or not do, could make Him love us any less. He CAN reach into the most broken and deceived heart and set things right. I know because He did that for me.
I hope you’ll take advantage of the 99 cent eBooks being offered this week so you can not only be encouraged at how faithful our God is, but also come away with some hope in how God can rescue those you love, or maybe even you, from the mess that’s been made. (The links are at the close of this email).
These two books illustrate the immense goodness of God and how He can and does work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). And He does it for a reason! SO THAT we can be conformed to the image of His Son (verse 29)!
As these full circles collide this week, my prayer is that these redemption stories become a resource to you in order to help you relate to others you know or meet who struggle in some of the same ways I did. May they be a tool God uses to spark hope and faith in Christ alone.
One last thing I JUST NOW SAW. The two titles describe well my journey … from EMPTY to FULL! Only God could set that up!
Thanks for spending time with me today.
Welcome, I'm Athena!
I start each day by tithing the first hour to the Lord in prayer, reading the word, doing word studies of the Text, and asking God how I can live out what I am reading. This time is usually met with meditation on devotionals that are usually written by dead guys like Oswald Chambers, CS Lewis, Charles Spurgeon, AW Tozer, and Andrew Murray.
Right now, I’m reading a daily devotional with a friend called Tozer on the Almighty God for my focus for the day. It's fun to see individually what pulls us in to spur one another on to good deeds!
The Bible is filled with action steps to walk out in practical and intentional ways. This sets my day in motion to walk it out! I hope this is your heart, too.
Consider this a personal invitation to join me in this journey!