Category Archives: faith

Two Years in the Desert…Out of Egypt…Part One

Out of Egypt

Psalm 136:16-To Him who led His people through the wilderness, For His lovingkindness is everlasting…

Two years ago I entered my desert place. After spending eight years in a church I loved, I had to leave. A situation had come about in which I had a dispute with some ministry leaders. I made my concerns known, but it wasn’t received well. I was told my concerns were unfounded. They were not, as others had the same concerns. After a harsh voice message was left on my phone, I did not go to church for four weeks.

Eventually my pastor called. There was no “Are you okay? We haven’t seen you in a while.” What I did get was “I suppose you know why I am calling.” We spoke for about an hour. I did agree to a meeting, and I mentioned Matthew 18 principles.

Matthew 18:15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses’.

 

It was made clear I was not allowed to bring in my own witnesses, and he claimed he had heard nothing from anyone else regarding the concerns. It was going to come down to the pastor, them and me; but after much prayer and counsel from others, I decided that it was not in my best interest to go. It would have been them against me. Knowing how others had been treated in that church, I knew that not returning was my best option.  With great sadness, I left that church. Unfortunately, I lost contact with some friends. Was I shunned? I don’t really know, but it certainly felt that way.

Leaving that church was devastating to me. I was active in a recovery ministry, sang in the choir, and attended almost every event at the church. Later I would learn that leaving was so devastating to me because my identity was wrapped up in that church, and not in Jesus.

For a long time, I did think I was wrong about what happened. Maybe all these other people were right and I was wrong, so I started doing research about similar issues in churches. I discovered I was not alone in dealing with something like this. I learned a lot about authoritarian churches, holier than thou pastors, and that being a woman can automatically make you deceived, emotional, and unable to hear God correctly according to some pastors and christians. However, God would eventually show me things that would clear up many, many lies and misconceptions that I had been taught throughout my years as a Christian.  Some of it was painful, but I know now it was also necessary.

My prayer is that you continue reading this series, and at the end of the series, you will see how God orchestrated every step, and how He is beginning to restore the years of what the locusts have eaten.  Stayed tuned for the next post.

The Falcon and the Pigeon (graphic image)

Living near the river, I am fortunate to see a lot of wildlife. Foxes, hawks, eagles, falcons, skunks, etc. frequent my yard. A few days ago, I happened to be walking through my living room and looked out the window. What I saw was something I have never seen before in all my years of living here, even with the amount of animals I see on a regular basis. I truly believe with all my heart this was a word from God.

I have been dealing with a situation in my life for over 10 years that has yet to change. Praying, reading my Bible, seeking God about this is a constant in regards to this issue. I have sacrificed over this more times than I care to count. I have looked at my own sin in this issue, and yes, there has been sin on my part. I have confessed it and repented of it. But there comes a time when enough is enough, and God shows you exactly what you need to see to have that moment of clarity.

This is the image I saw when I looked out the window.

falcon

That is a falcon eating a pigeon, even though there isn’t much left to the pigeon. For some reason, as gory as this image is, I was mesmerized. After watching this unfold for what seemed like a long time, I heard this-

“This is your situation. You are the pigeon. You are being picked at and plucked at on a daily basis. Eventually…there will be nothing left.”

Talk about a visual! All I could think to say back to God was “Yes, you are right.”

Romans 12:18 says- If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

I know with everything I am, I have given my all in this situation. But the Bible also says things like this-

2 Timothy 3:1-5 says- But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,  treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people(I understand the scripture says people, but I believe it applies to certain situations in our lives also.)

Matthew 10:13-15 says- If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. “Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. “Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.”

I read different commentaries on this passage about what ‘shaking the dust off your feet’ means, and the conclusion they all come to can be summed up here-

“The very dust of a heathen country was unclean, and it defiled by contact. It was regarded like a grave, or like the putrescence of death. If a spot of heathen dust had touched an offering, it must at once be burnt. More than that, if by mischance any heathen dust had been brought into Palestine, it did not and could not mingle with that of ‘the land,’ but remained to the end what it had been – unclean, defiled, and defiling everything to which it adhered. This will cast light upon the meaning conveyed by the symbolical directions of our Lord to His disciples (Matthew 10:14), when He sent them forth to mark out the boundary lines of the true Israel – ‘the kingdom of heaven,’ that was at hand: ‘Whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.’ In other words, they were not only to leave such a city or household, but it was to be considered and treated as if it were heathen, just as in the similar case mentioned in Matthew 18:17.” (Edersheim, Sketches In Jewish Social Life, ch.2; cf. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Vol.1, pp.643-44)

Are there times we turn the other cheek? Absolutely. Are there times we are called to be a light in a dark place? Yes! However, when God sends such a clear message as this after many years of praying and fasting, it is very clear to me that it is time to walk away. Even Jesus and the apostles did so at times.

John 8:59 says-At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

For me, it is time to slip away and shake the dust off my feet.

Negative Emotions…the New Taboo

no feelingsToday I want to address something I see quite often in Christianity as of late. The subject is our negative emotions. I come across posts almost daily that tell us to ignore how we feel if it seems to be a ‘bad’ feeling such as anger, depression, hurt, etc. I have been trying to wrap my brain around this and I can’t. There are hundreds of instances in the Bible that talk about our emotions. I did a web search about scriptures on emotions, and the first two pages were all about controlling our emotions. I do not disagree that controlling them is a good thing, there are many scriptures that state we should. But I was looking for actual scriptures that showed people in the Bible showing emotion!

Matthew 21:12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13 And He said to them, “It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.” NASB Jesus overturned the tables. He called them robbers and thieves. I think we can all assume He wasn’t smiling when He did it. He didn’t pat them on the head and say “Oh, it’s okay.” He got angry! Anger can be justified.

John 11:35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.  Jesus wept and was deeply moved. His friend had died, and I believe he had also wept over their unbelief. ESV  There is obviously a time and place for negative emotions.

 Luke 22:44 “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” ESV This is an actual medical condition in which someone feels such great agony it causes their blood vessels to burst and their sweat mixes with blood. In Matthew 26:38 it says  Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”ESV.  Jesus felt such sorrow, it felt like death to Him.

So why, when someone comes to us with their sorrow, their anger, their sadness, do we not validate them? “You shouldn’t feel like that” is one of the most hurtful things you can say to someone. They may have every right to feel that way! Are we trying to produce christian drones who walk around with no feelings? Why? So others will think we have it all together? That is not living an honest life. It is not living in reality. Can our emotions be misdirected? Yes. However negative emotions are our internal warning system that something is wrong. If we want people to come to know Christ, they need to know they can come angry, depressed, hurt, scared, or with any other emotion they might be experiencing at the time. Can God heal them and help them work through it? Absolutely! I will leave you with this…

Ecclesiastes 3: 1There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: 2A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, 6a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

God gave you your emotions. Never be ashamed of them. No one has the right to tell you how you can or cannot feel.

You Didn’t Cause It, You Can’t Control It, You Can’t Cure It.

You also don’t have to contribute to it….

There are hundreds of blogs and websites on the internet about marriage. How to improve it, save it, sustain it. Many of them give good advice, many of them don’t. I want to discuss the ones that don’t. I feel that many of the ministries and blogs rely on formulas. If you do A and B you will get C. Christianity is not a formula. What works for one may not work for another. When it comes to dealing with someone who is addicted to something such as  sex, food, drugs, and alcohol, standard marriage formulas or ideas do not work. I am a recovering alcoholic, and I want to share some things and let you know what may work better. I say may, because every one is different. Hopefully sharing what worked in my life, and what didn’t, you will have a better idea of how to deal with a spouse who is an addict.

You cannot make someone recover. You cannot love them enough, yell enough, or cry enough to make them stop. Trying to be a better wife or husband will not change them.  Enabling them to continue in their behavior under the guise of love will not make them stop, it will make the problem worse. Enabling behaviors are calling in sick for them, bailing them out of jail, paying their fines, babying them or having sympathy for them if they are hungover or dope sick.  It’s okay to have empathy, but not sympathy. Sympathy is ‘you poor thing’ and making sure they eat, drink, etc. as if caring for a sick child. Empathy is ‘I am sorry you feel so bad.’ and letting them take care of themselves. However, if they are unable to eat or drink anything and keep it down or have the DT’s you must get them medical attention. I think you understand what I mean.

When I was deep into my alcoholism I had many people begging and pleading for me to stop. We addicts can be selfish though and I believed that they were my problem. If everyone just left me alone and did what I wanted, I would be fine.  When the begging and pleading didn’t work, they enabled me by watching my son, giving me money, bailing me out of jail and more. The more they did to try to ‘help’ me, all the while telling me it was because they loved me, the more I took advantage of their ‘help’.

What actually helps an addict? Letting them hit their bottom. You must pray for them, but it has to be the most dangerous kind of prayer there is. “Whatever it takes God.” You have to be willing to hold them accountable for their actions. The Bible has many scriptures about holding one another accountable, and none of them say ‘unless it’s your spouse, then you can’t hold them accountable for anything.’ (Yes, I have actually heard and read that advice.) Different people have different bottoms. Some lose everything. Some fearing the loss of everything will open their eyes. Standing by them, not saying anything, or doing anything, will only lead them further down a destructive path.

Sometimes, separation is in order. I know many may not agree. However, many children have been taken from homes of addicts, even if only one spouse was using. Many addicts become violent when using, and your child’s safety is paramount, even over your marriage. I grew up with alcoholics, and I can tell you the damage that was done is still being repaired by God, at 42 years old. If you decide to separate, you can ask them to go into rehab or attend meetings before you or they return home. Be an encouragement if they are trying to find treatment or meetings, but don’t do it for them. When they do get into recovery, be their biggest cheerleader, but make sure they have some recovery time under them before you begin restoration. Often what happens is the spouse will attend three or four meetings, the other gets excited and restoration begins, only to have the addict go right back out once they are together again.

Keep praying, and then pray some more. But also be an active participant, don’t just leave it up to God. Often God will not do anything until we take that first step in confronting them. I recommend Celebrate Recovery. It’s a 12 step Christ based recovery program. The addict as well as those that love them are welcome at these meeting. This program has been instrumental at keeping me sober and growing my relationship with Jesus. You can find meetings by clicking on CR groups and info here-http://www.celebraterecovery.com/

Feel free to ask me questions regarding this topic or CR in the comments.

Spiritual Schizophrenia

voicesProverbs 11:14- Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.

The bible often tells us to seek the counsel of the godly. I do not dispute this in any way shape or form. Lately I have been seeking counsel on certain areas of my own life. However, the problem I am finding is that it seems the more people you ask, the more answers you get, and every single one of them could be different. So we then have to wade through what we hear, and search the Word to see if the advice we are given lines up with it. That also can create a problem because we must take in the whole counsel of God. One person’s solution may be different from another as God does not deal with every person in the same manner.

What ends up happening is we have all these voices bouncing around in our head, and we end up more confused that before we sought out help. Sometimes we are afraid if we don’t take one person’s advice they will get angry with us. I believe there must come a time when the only counsel we seek must come from God alone. His Holy Spirit is the ultimate counselor. He is the one who truly knows the entirety of the situation, the people involved, what will work and what won’t. He also knows our hearts, and sometimes what we want is someone to agree with our choice, even if it’s the wrong one, so we feel better about making said choice. God, though, will never send us down the wrong path.

There have been times in my life where I thought I heard God speak and answer through another, but those situations didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. Was their counsel wrong? Maybe. There have been times I thought I heard God directly and the same thing happened. Did I hear God wrong? Probably. But it’s okay, God can take the detours and put us back on the right path. He’s good that way! I now know that while counsel is good and biblical, at this time in my life I need to hear God alone. It doesn’t mean I will not continue worshiping at church or not ask others opinions or advice, however I will limit who I seek advice from and I will absolutely make sure I spend more time alone with God, His word and His Spirit when seeking guidance. In the end, He’s the one I will answer to. Not man.

(Note- In no way am I discounting the seriousness of actual schizophrenia, but this term came to mind as I was contemplating this article)

Proverbs 11:14

image from freedigitalphotos.net

Crying at the Crossroads…

Apologies to my readers for not finishing Sand and Stones yet. Life has gotten in the way at the moment. Something has been happening in my life and I am at a crossroads. I have to make a choice, and choices are so very hard for me. Many choices I have made in life have been the wrong ones. Many were made thinking that I had heard God clearly, only to have things not go as I would have planned…but maybe they were as God planned. I don’t know. What I do know is that my heart aches over this for my one desire is to please the Lord in all I do. My knowledge of His word has been turned upside down recently as well. Pastors, friends, they have all given me advice. Sometimes I disagree with what they have to say, sometimes I don’t. Honestly, right now the only person I want to hear clearly from is my Abba Father. But even then I am afraid I will not hear Him correctly.

I am sharing my heart with all of you about this because I am hoping that there might be someone else out there who is going through the same thing. When you are fighting a battle, it helps to know others are fighting, too. Fighting with you, fighting for you. Pray for me.

Sand and Stones

This is a short story I have had in my head for a really long time. I have decided to share it with my readers. I hope you enjoy it.

mfBWcki

Sand and Stones

Part 1

A sand storm came through last evening. It covered everything and I must now spend my time dusting off my things and shaking out my bed linens. My guest would not like to leave me and and have to explain where he acquired the dust from, especially when he should not even be in my home. I do not understand why I allowed myself to get in this situation. I do not understand why a man would want me when betrothed to another or when he already has a wife. I dare say that the things I offer fill some desire he has for the forbidden.

I do not like what I do, I have anguished over this and hold much shame and reproach for myself, but to be without a family and to be unmarried in these lands also comes under much reproach. He provides me with food and a pays for a roof to lay under during the cold nights.  The first time I said I shall only do it once, as I was poor and starving. Two Passovers have passed and I am on the same path.

I keep to myself out of fear of being caught, but when I do leave my home I hear of a man that has come from Nazareth. They call him Jesus. Some say he is the Messiah, that he can heal the sick and restore the infirmed. I have not come across him though. If he is who he says he is, I am fearful of what he will think of someone like me. Will he think of me as filthy and undeserving of love? Will he condemn me to Hades as the teachers and Pharisees often do to those like me? They say he preaches love and forgiveness, but I am not worthy of those things.  I sigh…there is so much sand…

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My guest has arrived and it is just before dawn. We spend our time chatting with empty words. We both know why he is here, but we dance around the truth lest the guilt become to heavy. He looks at me and smiles and comes toward me. I only look at the floor. He reaches up and removes my veil, then pulls me into his arms. I turn my face towards the door as I hear shouting outside. Suddenly there is banging on the door, and I am worried we have been found out, as is my guest. The shouting continues as many men come crashing into my home. My guest pushes me away and I fall over the chair beside my bed. The men who have invaded my home home are the local teachers and Pharisees. “We have caught you! You shall be punished under our laws!” They say as they stand over me. Forcing me to my feet, I see them motion for my guest to leave. I know my crime, I am guilty, but I cry out “What about him? Is he not just as guilty as I?” A man tells me to be quiet as they drag me from my home.

 They are pulling me through the streets of the city and walking so quickly and I stumble many times. My arms are sore from the strong grip on them. “Why did you not bring the man with us? Why are you only taking me?” I keep asking and they will not answer. I know what will happen to me. My life will soon be over, and I am terrified.

Ahead I see a crowd gathered at the temple courts and I wonder how could they know? There has been no trial for me. Pushing through the people, we come to the entrance and a man sits on the stairs. Throwing me down at his feet, they state “This woman was caught in the very act of adultery. The law says she must be stoned. What do you say?” He says nothing as he bends down and I see him start to write in the sand with his finger. But they keep on questioning him,  so he straightens up and says to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stoops down and writes in the sand.  I did not dare to look up at him.

Holding my breath I wait for the stones to be thrown. I wait for the pain, for death, but the stones don’t come. I slowly raise my head and look around to see each person start to walk away, not understanding what has just happened. After they have all gone, it is him and me alone.  He straightens up and asks, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” I raise my eyes to him. I am afraid to reply, but I do and my voice quivers . “No one, sir.” He then speaks words to me that astound me. “Then neither do I condemn you,” He declares. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Slowly I get up from the ground. I stare at him for a few moments thinking “Is this him? Is this the Messiah I have heard so much about?” Then I turn and walk back to my home.

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Note- I have taken some creative license with this. I tried to convey it as if I were the woman and what would be going through my mind if I were there. Part 2 will be up in a few days.