Tag Archive | bible

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.

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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.

The Honeymoon Is Over

That is how it was put to me this morning, that the honeymoon of my renewal of my faith is over.  Yes it is true, that euphoria associated with coming back ‘home’ is now over and the battle that is all around us in a realm we do not see, is on. 

Ephesians 6:12-17 (New King James Version)

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[a] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

The battle is against things I cannot see, but trust me when I say I can feel them. 

Last night I had dinner with my daughter, son and his girlfriend and her daughter.  It was a good time though I feel strange around my kids, like an outsider.  This was driven home when they were talking about New Year’s Eve, when they were at a party with their dad, my ex.  It was very hard, it hurt that my kids were off having fun and dad was included but not me. 

I struggle with feelings of envy that I am no longer a part of my daughter’s day-to-day life as I was when we lived under one roof.  I miss my son who is going to be moving back home with dad and my daughter soon.  They will be a family unit and I’m no longer a part of that unit, a part of the family.  My family, in what was my home, that I was forced to leave behind when someone else determined for me that my marriage and place there was over, I  was no longer needed or wanted.  I struggle hard against a seed of bitterness that desperately is trying to root itself in my heart.  I struggled with  the knowledge that I’ve been equated with common household appliance this past week by the very man I stood beside and loved, supported and never walked away from in some of his worst and darkest hours. And yet despite giving all of myself I’m just an old dishwasher that has been tossed out. 

This morning I was so thankful for my dear friends Jane and Ellen, and their taking it all back to scripture and encouraging me.  Jane has been the mentor and encourager since days before I returned, checking in on me and keeping me accountable. Yesterday Stan was a gentle, loving, yet firm encourager to keep focused and turn away from the negative things that are causing the seeds of bitterness to fall around me. I’ve been so blessed to have the Divas around me loving and supportive throughout it all.

I am blessed that I am not a new or baby believer.   I have a firm foundation of knowledge and faith under me, that while I let it become over grown with worldly weeds and let it be buried beneath sinful debris, it is there. Clearing away everything I have the armor and tools  of my faith still there at my disposal.  I have strong believers as friends willing to pray for me every day as I struggle to remain firmly planted. 

This much I know, I  am still the daughter of the King of all, I am loved by the One with my name written on His  hands, and He has surrounded me with brothers and sisters in Him that love me and keep me in prayer and encouragement.  I have all the strength I need in the Lord, and need to rest there in Him.

SEXUAL PURITY – Satisfying The Hunger Part 2

Disclaimer: The subject matter of this post is a bit adult in nature and not appropriate material for younger audiences.

This is the second part of this subject matter, if you missed Part 1 you may wish to read that first, click here.

I was not at all prepared for the intense connection that I have with Mr. Wonderful.  When we met up and reconnected I had made it crystal clear that I was NOT seeking a relationship, just a friend with benefits.  He saw through my shield and into my heart but was willing to go along with things as I stated.  Things between us moved at incredible speed and next thing I knew we crossed into a physical relationship.  What took place between us was truly making love like I’ve never known.  He agrees, nothing ever was so intense for him before either.  We both realize more than our fleshly desires were there, our minds and souls connected, and our hearts.  We got a very serious education that day in  the two becoming one flesh.  It isn’t just the physical act, something happened that forged all of our beings into one.   I wanted to believe it was just that first time rush, but I’ve had my share of ‘first times’ and nothing in my experience or his compares.  Despite our carefully built walls when in those moments of physical expression we both realize we are seeing clear the core of each other in the eyes and there are no blocks, no locked doors on our hearts and souls, and frankly it is incredibly beautiful and special, and unnerving. 

Bigger than that…it is wrong.  It is sinfully wrong and I don’t mean that in a good way.  God is crystal clear about sex outside of marriage and we chose to ignore that and go our own way in this one area.

We have both realized that when two TRULY become one,  being apart is hell.   I  don’t just miss him, his voice, his touch, my heart craves his, my mind desires his, my soul feels as if it is torn and not whole  when his is apart from my own.  Two becoming one,  truly one,  is meant for the married because you crave the other person on every level,  not just physical.  In fact we’ve come to realize the physical is an expression of what is going on at the heart, mind and soul level.  We HUNGER for each other, and at least for me I can say it is a tormenting thing.  I now understand 1 Corinthians 7:9 so much better:

1 Corinthians 7:9 (New King James Version)

9 but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

The burning passion is painful on each level.

I’ve become aware now of something else. Now understand this is my take, my perspective on this.  We come into this world without God, in a state of sin and until we find His perfect forgiveness and grace we hunger for Him.  As we grow that hunger grows with us, but we try to fill that void with all manner of things, collecting things, over consumption of food, alcohol, drugs or even sex.  We are never completely satisfied until we turn to the Lord, nothing we do can fill the hunger with in us.  Love and marriage, per the Bible, is a reflection of the love Christ has for His church, His people.  It is the earthly example of true love, putting the best interest of others ahead of ourselves regardless of  cost to  ourselves.*  In a marriage relationship that honors God,  things work like they should.  Don’t get me wrong, it won’t be perfect.  I saw a tweet from Pastor and singer Steve Camp (@sjcamp) the other day that said “marriage is two forgivers learning to live together”.  OH how true that is! 

 I have also come to realize that before we ever experience sexual relations with anyone we begin to hunger for our mates,  prior to even knowing them.  Something within us desires to mate, to share that special one fleshness, our souls begin to seek.  We search for something to fill that hunger, and sadly often attempt to fill it with sexual promiscuity.  We go from encounter to encounter trying to fill  an unsatiable desire within us that can only be filled by that one person meant to be our partner for life.  Perhaps there is more than one out there, but I think so many are so unhappy because they jumped into a marriage with someone they did NOT connect with on the heart, mind and soul levels before taking  their vows and then connecting physically.  Love at first sight may indeed be real, but more of a intense draw at first sight.  One soul recognizing the other as it’s mate, or other half.  Mr. Wonderful experienced that with just seeing my photo on my Myspace, the intense desire to know me and not on a physical level.  When I met him I too felt that, but I was married and did the right thing by ignoring it and keeping him at arm’s length to avoid the temptation.  Had I entertained a physical encounter then, when deep in a sinful lifestyle that would have allowed for it,  it would have destroyed my marriage and I knew it.  At the time I did not understand why I knew this, I just did.  Something in both of us screamed “MINE” and it was horribly upsetting and painful.

Sadly, while we’ve desired to do this relationship the right way, this is an area we crossed lines in and have sinned.  Now in a desire to back up the truck a bit and do it ALL right in God’s eyes, we have to deal with the intense craving that burns deeper than  the physical desire for each other.   The hunger that distresses our minds, hearts  and souls when apart.  While the physical need is a difficult struggle, we actually do find without the sexual part, when we are together,  the other levels are satisified for the time we are in each others presence and the physical takes a back burner.  This spoke volumes to me about what we had done in crossing the lines and allowing the one flesh before it was the right time.  The hardest part of this being that as jaded as we both are we don’t even know where this will head.  We both carry so many scars from past relationships, so many cracks in our hearts from gluing them back together that we just don’t know if we can proceed toward a life time commitment.  I only know that now that I realize the level on which we connected, I cannot be satisified with anyone else.

Meanwhile…the area  of sexual purity is one I have struggled with all my life because I long ago crossed the line,  continuing again and again to sin in this area.  It is the one area I am most weak and the one I am now most determined to keep right and honor God in until such a time as it can be RIGHT.  If  I can continue to see my sin as God sees it,  as filthy rags, then I cannot say I love Him and deliberately,  knowingly go against Him in this area.  If and when marriage again is a part of my life, then the hunger will be satisfied as it should be.  And until then I must honor God and satisfy the hunger with Him and His Word.

*condensed version of a definition of love an elder at church came up with –  will share full version as a blog later this month.

Copyright © 2011 – The AirBrushed Diva/Marti Gardner – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

SEXUAL PURITY – Satisfying The Hunger Part 1

Disclaimer: The subject matter of this post is a bit adult in nature and not appropriate material for younger audiences.

I’ve been jaded regarding sex, purity and the church  over the years.  In my journey back on the path to a life lived for Christ I’ve had my eyes opened in some new ways, and seen both some very unpleasent realities  in my life but also that there is so much that is beautiful and waiting for me now.  One topic that keeps coming up (not by my choice mind you so it must be the prompting of God) is sex and sexual purity.  Maybe this is because it is the single worst area of sin in my life.  As I study, pray and learn, I thought I’d share what I am learning and if it does anyone else any good then it will be good.

First let me say I am no expert in anything.  I have learned a little bit about a lot of things in life, and in a few areas I’ve learned a lot.   I’m an oldest child so my parents cut their parenting teeth on me first and I wasn’t the easiest to raise.  I was that kid that had to learn everything the hard way, sometimes more than once.  I never seem to do anything halfway either, so if I am going to mess up I am going to be an over achiever.

I was not an angel in the area of sex as a teenager, evident in the fact that I gave birth for the first time at 16 years old and gave that child up for adoption.  One would think I’d have learned then but like I said, I excel at making mistakes in life.

I believe we are sexual creatures, wired to find a mate and then enjoy the physical expressions of love with our significant other.  The bible speaks to relationship of a husband and wife and sex.  One reading through portions of the Song of Solomon and it is rather evident that sexual love is supposed to be something beautiful and enjoyed and more than just for procreation.  Even I have blushed while reading those passages!   The Lord takes the sexual side of our relationships very seriously.  Genesis speaks of the man leaving his mother and father, cleaving to his wife, and the two becoming one flesh.

Genesis 2:24 (Amplified Bible)

24Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall become united and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

1 Corinthians 6:16

16Or do you not know and realize that when a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? The two, it is written, shall become one flesh.

This becoming one flesh I always understood to be sexual, but in recent months I’ve come to understand it as far more than a  sexual thing.  I’ve come to understand it is a joining at the heart, mind, body and soul.  But Satan takes the beautiful things of God and pollutes and perverts them.  Physical love between a man and a woman certainly is near the top of that list, the porn industry alone can attest to this.

Because of how we are wired,  to desire the opposite gender and mate, as we reach puberty and our hormones kick in, we begin to notice each other.  I think along with the hormones the heart and soul begin to wake up too, helping to grow our desire to mate.  I used to believe sex  with anyone I really “loved” was acceptable.  Certainly I knew what the bible had to say on the topic but I could justify that away easily, after all it is what we sinners do, we justify everything.  If we saw our sin as God sees it, as filthy rags, we’d not try to justify it quite so often.  I’ve read multiple studies that the ‘filthy rags’ as it is translated were rags that were used to wrap wounds,  so the fabric is covered in blood, puss and disease.  Not a very pretty picture.  So if my sexual sins are seen that way to God, should I not stop trying to justify them and start seeing things as my Father in Heaven does?  Funny what we can put out of our minds when we determine to do things our way.

Back to this joining and becoming one flesh.  I have been married twice now, and despite being ‘joined’ in matrimony to my husbands, and sharing a bed and a life, I never really understood this whole being one flesh thing until recently.  Oh I thought I understood it but I was so mistaken. Had I clearly understood it I would never have married either of them, let alone partaken in a lifestyle where couples are openly sharing their spouses with others.  Call me a lunatic but I believe God has a mate in mind for each of us, and when we meet them we know it.  The draw is powerful and nags at the core of us.  I met what I believe is that man years ago but at the time was happily, or so I believed, married and turned away from what I sensed could be a destructive force to that marriage.  I kept it to myself and never spoke of it, but the pull  was there.    Fast forward to the past few months when I reconnected with this man.  I had always held him at arms length, fearing what I had felt, and wasn’t at all  sure it would  still be there.  When he  kissed me the first time I knew it was alive and well.

We connected immediately at a level that was beyond my understanding…more than physical, the stronger draw was from the heart, mind and I’d come to realize the soul.  Something deep inside screamed “MINE” and is not silenced, it demands to be heard and known.

TO BE CONTINUED….

Copyright © 2011 – The AirBrushed Diva/Marti Gardner – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED