Archive | March 2011

Making Things Right

I  really could kick myself when I screw up, especially when I do it on a public forum, because then in order to make it right, I have to apologize on a public forum.  Some day, maybe I will learn to sit on my fingers and keep my big mouth shut.

This past week,  on St. Patrick’s day, I was tweeting with my future sister-in-law.  I misunderstood when she told me a woman did something that I felt was out of line and trashy, and proceeded to tweet my opinion of this woman.  The woman in question is a former friend from  the lifestyle that I recently turned from.  The things that I proceeded to write were completely out of line.  Definitely NOT behavior becoming of a follower of Christ.  At the time I tweeted the remarks, I was not aware that this woman is herself a Christian.  But that doesn’t matter, if she were an unbeliever it was a lousy testimony on my part.  Not to mention lousy to anyone reading it.  I said the things believing that she no longer followed me and would never see what I said.  But that doesn’t make it right, does it?  Sin is still sin,  even if it goes unseen by others,  because God sees it.  She and I used to refer to this as fantasy dialog, believing that if we said it to others, but not the person we were talking about, that it was okay.  But that isn’t true either, Ephesians 4:29 addresses ANYONE that hears what we say should be edified by our words.  Mine tore  down, did not in anyway build up.

To her credit, she followed the proper order of discipline of believers that is outlined in Matthew 18:15-20:

Dealing with a Sinning Brother

15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’[a] 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
18 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
19 “Again I say[b] to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

She wrote to my pastor, and copied me on her email.  It was a loving rebuke by a fellow believer, and I’m going to share it, but I will put the tweets in order so they make sense, though only my side of the conversation is here as the other person’s tweets are private:

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

To Whom It May Concern,

I consider myself a God fearing and loving person.  My first love is Him and His word.  It pains me when a fellow Christian casts untruths and cast stones on a fellow Christians.  I will pray for your church member as I know in my heart she is lost.  My own  personal experiences have taught me, we can not be one with Him until we are true believers.

“Blessed are they that do His Commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” (Revelation 22:14-15 KJV)

God Bless, the following is a copy and pasted message.
Yours in Christ,
Teresa L. Exxxxxxxxx*  *(last name withheld by me to respect her privacy)

Twitter Messages:

MarviMarti Marti
SO glad I don’t have to go hang around in a bar looking up kilts and dressed like a cheap ho to feel special. Better to be classy.

MarviMarti Marti
@xxxxxx (again name withheld to protect privacy of party I was tweeting with) – Oh wait, that is because I am NOT a ho, cheap or otherwise. I’m a lady and will act like one. Enough said 😉

MarviMarti Marti
@
@xxxxxx – be thankful your man doesn’t parade you around like a second rate hooker! Gotta love our guys 🙂

@xxxxxx – oh wait, hookers charge, that leather ho gives it away, no one would pay for it!!!

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

I  know, rather harsh of me, and completely out of line.  I did  send an email of apology to her, and I will include that here.  And again, Teresa/Queenie, I DO apologize, you are right, it was uncalled for and out of line.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Teresa,
My first reaction to your email was a bit of shock, I had no idea you are a believer, as my only knowledge of your life is the lifestyle you were living, as a swinger, when I met you.  I was under the impression you still are a swinger, my apologies for that.  I was unaware that you had come to Christ and left that lifestyle behind you, as I have.

However, regardless of what I believed of your life, my tweets on 3/17 were indeed out of line, a behavior most unbecoming of a follower of Christ.  There are still many areas where I fall short, and in this case I really was wrong.  Even though I did not think you would see them, it is no excuse.

Matthew 5:23-24 (New King James Version)

23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Certainly you have something against me, and I’m thankful you brought it out now, before communion comes around again, so that I have the opportunity to make it right.

Ephesians 4:29 (New King James Version)

29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

Certainly my words did not impart grace to those that read them. I am very sorry.

I do ask your forgiveness.  Sister in Christ or not, I did not act a godly manner, and sinned against you.  As a believer, it was wrong of me.  It was out of line toward a fellow believer, and a terrible witness and testimony to you and others.  I appreciate your loving rebuke.  You could have chosen to stoop to my level, and attacked me back, but you took the high road and followed a biblical course of dealing with the issue, per Matthew 18:15-20.

Romans 12:17-21 (New King James Version)

17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”[a] says the Lord. 20 Therefore

“ If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”[b]

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
————————————

You are due a public apology as well, since my sin was rather public, and I intend to do so.

I also rejoice in knowing that you’ve left behind the sinful way of life we had both been leading!

Love in Christ,

Marti

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Once Again…Coincidence?

This morning was not a good one. I did not want to get up for anything, but I did.  Again I pulled myself out of my bed and went to Sunday School and church, and again the Lord showed me He is with me.

The music I chose to listen to as I tried so hard to focus my heart and ready it for worship, was the Fernando Ortega CD Jane gave me when I came back to church the first Sunday in December.  The song that I  got stuck in my head and heart while listening….was the song sung as service began, Fernando Ortega’s, sang by Cameron who I had no clue could sing until last week when he  and Jesse sang the song that I had been listening to at home.  Two Sundays in a row now the song I am listening too for quieting my heart and preparing for church, is the song sung AT church.  Nope, no coincidence at all!

Then, in Jeremiah 29, where Pastor  has been preaching, is one of my favorite passages, only today, my word for 2011 stuck out, bringing new life to verses  for me.

SO glad I went today!!!!

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (New American Standard Bible)

11‘For I know the (A)plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for (B)welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a (C)hope.

12‘Then you will (D)call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will (E)listen to you.

13‘You will (F)seek Me and find Me when you (G)search for Me with all your heart.

Funny thing, we use the New King James translation at church, but today I had my New American Standard.  I  WILL seek Him and FIND Him.

Here is the song:

Blessings….

GREAT song…Totally what I needed to hear today and I love it!

Laura Story – “Blessings” Lyrics

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home,

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

About Last Night…

I hate the time before you go to sleep at night
because that’s when all of the thoughts
you try to avoid for so long
start to linger in your mind


Last night I found myself up late unable to sleep. I have entirely too much on my  heart and mind, the thoughts would not quiet themselves.  Dozens of questions with no answers, and one particular person who was very heavy on my heart.  I decided to read and have some quiet time with God.  I’m working through a book by John Piper, The Passion of Jesus Christ.  The ‘chapters’ are 50 reasons why Christ came to die.  Each 1-2 pages in length so it is the perfect devotional book.   What better to go through leading up to Easter/Resurrection Sunday.  I’m also reading through the gospel of John too, and Proverbs.   I spent a while reading these before deciding it was time to close the books and quiet my heart and pray.

I did something I have not done in years…many many years.  I lit my luminary (my favorite night light), turned back my bed, shut off the lights, then instead of sitting on/in bed to pray, I opted for my knees next to the bed.  What a difference that made!  In the quiet darkness of my room, on my knees,  I was able to quiet my heart and mind to pray, and to feel that Presence that tells me I am not  alone, that I am heard and there is One that loves me and watches over me.  The awareness that my pleadings are indeed getting past the ceiling.

I used to know this closeness many years ago in the quiet  of the morning, bible, notebook and coffee and on my knees to pray.  I have  so missed that.  Back then I used to cover my head with a lace veil.  I had done an extensive study on women being veiled for prayer, their heads covered according the scripture.  I wore it for church and wore it in my personal prayer time.  When married, back when we used to pray together each night before turning in, I wore it then too.  It didn’t ‘do’ anything…except bring a hush over my spirit.  It helped to foster within me a humble heart, a quiet spirit, a mind focused completely on that time to pray. I  will be using a prayer shawl instead, just as soon as I can get one made.

It was hard on the knees, though not until I went to stand up and crawl in my bed.  I felt peace and went to sleep quickly after that,  knowing that my prayers were heard, and that no matter what comes into or out of my life, resting in the loving hands of my Creator, all is right in my world.

What Brought You Back?

I’ve been asked this a lot recently, especially by some of the younger adults, the ones I taught in Kids Club or assisted in the Jr./Sr. High Youth Group…What brought you back?  They didn’t really know much other than one day me and my family just up and left.  We turned in our membership certificates and walked away from our church family.  In the years that I’d been away, close to 6 years it would seem, much water has passed under the bridge.  That water was mostly dark and polluted, clouded with a lot of sin and sinful ways of life.

The better question would be, what kept me away?

In a word:  Pride (aka: self love)

Nothing but pride can really be to blame.  Sin took me away, pride held me there.  My heart, that most deceitful part of me, turned me from what I knew was sound and right, and took me on a long and twisted path through a very dark and godless place.

There were many reasons that we chose to leave our church family, but each boils down to one thing, ME.  Issues with the music (it was too slow for me, all those hymns, not upbeat enough or contemporary enough), the teaching (I felt unfed and uninterested) the people (hypocrits, gossips, unloving). I wasn’t living a Christ honoring life, there was a private, sinful side that was well hidden from everyone, that I entertained.  Sure I went where my spouse went, and I could easily point a finger in judgment and blame him, but then no one put a gun to my head either.  One can carry that whole submission to your spouse thing too far when it is used to cover your sin.  And for a while, when dissatisfied in that dark way of life, I inwardly tried to cover my sin with that.  At any time I could have walked away.  I blamed the music, people, teaching, ex..when in reality the problem was within me, my own sinful heart.

First…submission ends at sin’s door.  I have no problem being the godly wife that submits to the husband’s authority.  But when the leader/head of the wife begins down a wrong path, that is  right where the submission ends.  I was enticed by sin and once it was conceived in my heart it gave birth to a wretched way of life of my own chosing.  I should never have taken those first steps, which started with the mind with fantasy.  What is it about God’s people that when they fall, sins of a sexual nature are where we stumble?  Maybe because the most intimate display of love for each other is the one most used by the devil.  Once you destroy that fabric,  the physical bindings of the marriage, the rest will unravel.  Trust me on this, it is true. 

When I focused on MY likes and dislikes, rather than on the Lord,  I was no longer on solid ground, I was standing on sinking sand.  See, the worship service isn’t about me at all. It is about GOD, it is about WORSHIP.  Worship of the Lord, adoration and praise of my Savior, not about me.  I focused on ME, not Jesus.  My heart was in a wrong place outside of the church, already on a road to destruction.  I had  taken my eyes of Christ and put them on me.  He was no longer the object of my passion, I was.  Worshiping the Lord  through music  isn’t about the beat, how fast or how slow, how old or how contemporary….it is about the content of the words I’m singing to God.  Those words of the old hymns are timeless treasures.  But I was hung up on me and missed that.  YES there are many wonderful contemporary songs, but the point is not the music, it is the words I am singing, from the heart, that matter.

God’s word, no matter what passage, is right, holy and perfect.  But I wasn’t leading a life that sought His Word, I was seeking my own desires.  I began to find fault with the teaching, then the teacher, the elders, and the church family.  The further away I withdrew, the quieter that still, small voice of God  within grew, until I could no longer hear it at all.  I heard instead my own thoughts, desires, and followed myself.

There were times that the Lord sent a  gentle nudge my way to bring me back.  A brief light pierced the darkness but I shyed away. Light uncovers things and I certainly did not want anyone to see my sins, so I turned away and hid.  I knew in my heart of hearts that I was far from home, squandering the priceless gifts God had given me, but caught up in the sin it was hard to go back.  The further away I got, the more I sinned.  When at last I brushed off the last of that sinful way and turned around, pride got in the way for a while.  I was terrified of being judged.  I knew that many were aware of where I had been. 

I feared what others that might know would say, what people might think.  When I left I was married and  my spouse had  sat as chairman of the deacon board. We had been very active in the body of believers, and now I was divorced and smelled of the pig pen I had been living in, my sin.  Pride  wouldn’t allow me to take the steps to return.

Thankfully a dear friend (actually many) had prayed long and hard since the day we left.  This one dear friend was nearing the end, ready to give up and accept that perhaps I wasn’t meant to come back.  God was faithful to her, and the others, and when she was reaching the point, His divine  intervention allowed circumstances to roll into place and we reconnected.  The Lord used her and my favorite comfort food, to open the door and let the light shine inside my heart again.  Instead of hiding it, I confessed it.  And I listened to the wisdom of God, shared through this beautiful vessel of my long lost sister in Christ, and it grabbed hold.

2 days later I walked back into my former church.  I was very apprehensive and afraid of being judged.  Again,  pride got in there.  I have nothing to fear of the judgment of others, believers or not.  I have a judgement coming my way, we all do,  one I need to be concerned about, and that  was only a piece of what she had shared over dinner.  Nothing I wasn’t aware of, just nothing I was thinking about as I should have been.  The Father is gracious to His children, and as I entered those doors my heart and soul knew peace.  I felt  like the prodigal child come home.  There may have been those that stood in judgment that day, but I never saw them.  I instead saw open arms,  warm embraces, and no shortage of tears of joy that I was home again. 

I want so much to say to those young people who have slipped away, the ones whose parents I now worship with once more….swallow your pride, put to death the self, and please, come home again.