Tag Archive | Christian

Coloring Outside The Lines – How It Began

Sin never seems to just burst through the door waving a flag, blowing on a bugle and screaming “COME ON FOLLOW ME!”  Instead it creeps in slowly, at least in a believer’s life.  Like David on the roof top, maybe we look just a little too long, or take a second glance.  Someone flirts and we flirt back.  Someone gossips or speaks ill of someone, and instead of shutting it down by changing the subject or walking away we join in and make an unkind remark.  Someone tries to provoke us and instead of praying for our enemies as God commands, and loving them as His Word instructs, we poke back.  Maybe we reason away that one drink won’t hurt anything when we know we might have a problem controlling our alcohol intake.

Regardless of what it is, we let it slip in through a crack that forms in our foundation.  That crack happens when we take our eyes off the Lord, when we start letting other things come between us and prayer time, study time, and gathering with other Christians.  Maybe it is a TV show, or a football game, staying up late and over sleeping on Sunday morning.  Whatever it is we allow things to start taking priority in our lives.  In and of themselves they are not bad or wrong things, but we let them come before what is most important.  And anything that we put ahead of the Lord is an idol.  Over time we hold that up, giving it attention when something else should be getting our attention.  The crack starts there.

What begins as a hairline crack, nearly undetectable at first, starts to grow in length and width.  Not fast, mind you.  It takes time.  We start to notice short comings in others because if we are focused on them and their behavior, we are not focused so much on our own.  We become disgruntled, the crack grows more.  Dirty water from around the foundation begins to seep in through the crack.  Just a drop here and there, but then bigger drops, and more of them, until it is a tiny stream.

The bible says in James 1:12-15:

12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

We’re first tempted, when we let our desires seep in through the cracks.  We are enticed by fantasies and dreams, and we begin to breathe life into them, verbalizing and sharing them.  As time goes by they grow and become more prominent in our speech.  Before long those desires conceive and give birth to sin.  We act upon the desires and fantasies, and the crack breaks open more and sin is born.

That is exactly how it happened.  Time, events, “life” got in the way of what was important.  Little by little, we let more and more things become more important than being at church.  And the fantasies began to be voiced, talked about, used to entice and excite.  In time they were acted upon and we began to lead 2 lives, one that on the surface looked like we were good, church going, bible believing Christians.  The other was kept in secret and away from the eyes of friends and family.  We made new “friends” that helped us to justify what we were doing.  Consenting adults, it wasn’t sin if we both were in agreement.

The first clue that something is a sin might be the ‘secret’ part.  When you have to hide it, there is a reason.  Cheating on your spouse usually starts out with secrets…texts, flirts, emails, conversations, meeting up for drinks or lunch, things you do when your significant other is not around.  Things you would never do in front of them with their full knowledge because it is WRONG and you know darn well what their reaction would be.  If you cannot share it with the church family, or your blood family because they would ‘judge’ your actions as wrong, then maybe you need to be thinking again.  Hidden things, secret things, things that could cost you your position in the church, damage your testimony and/or reputation, cost you your marriage….yes those things are not okay, or you would not be hiding them.

We justified that they would not understand, even tried to convince ourselves that God never intended for us to be monogamous because after all, He made us with these desires and as long as we go home each time with our spouse at the end of the night or party, then it is okay.  If it was we wouldn’t have been hiding what we were doing.  I believe deep down we both knew very well what we were doing was completely wrong and sinful.  But oh the fun, the parties, the open mindedness.  Sharing intimacy wasn’t really my  thing, that was the other half’s joy.  But I enjoyed the parties, dressing inappropriately sexy and embracing the knowledge that I was sexy, desirable and so many men wanted me.  Sure, that was indeed a draw, but what I really wanted more than anything was for my spouse to feel that way about me, and me ONLY.  But I walked into this with him and saw no real way out.  Instead of shutting down those fantasies when they first came up, I put him on the pedestal and tried my best to be what I believed he wanted.  I am just as guilty as he is for where we went.  I could have prayed for him, steered things gently away from the sinful desires, but I opted to feed the flames.  I put my husband’s desires and happiness ahead of the Lord, I actually made him my idol.  I carried things entirely too far from his being my hero and center of my world, when I should have had his spiritual health, the state of his soul as my major concern.  Instead of praying, I added to the temptation.  I ate from the forbidden fruit through the images I’d verbally weave and handed the fruit off to him.

Let my coloring book stand as a warning.  We cannot allow even the smallest temptation to cross over into our lives.  Once we let just the smallest sin in, it takes over and grows.  I have no idea who said it, but I’ll stop tonight with this thought, as it is so very true:

Sin  will take you further than you want  to go.  It will keep you longer than you want to stay.  And it will cost you more than you want to pay.

I Color Outside Of The Lines

I am an oldest child.  My poor parents cut their parenting teeth on me, and survived not only me but 3 more offspring.  They did well though, no one ended up in jail and we’re all pretty responsible members of society.  At  least we fake that part well most of the time 🙂

I have always been one that is a tad different, maybe even eccentric at times.  I tend to think out side of the box, dance to the beat of an odd drummer, and I color outside of the lines.  All this is a good thing, or can be, if I keep it under the lens of a biblical perspective.  On the simplest of terms, what would Jesus do.  I am not overly fond of that WWJD thing but it works for now.  Perhaps it would be better said, what would a daughter or son of the Most High do, what is the most Christ like, God honoring thing to do?   I love jewelry that is crowns, but not because I think I’m the self-appointed queen of anything.  I love crowns because they remind me that I’m the daughter of the King of the Universe, and that one day every crown I’ve earned will be cast lovingly at the feet of my Savior in heaven.  I wear a cross necklace not to tell everyone around me that I’m a believer (my behavior should do that), but so that when I see it in the mirror, I am reminded to look closely and be sure my reflection is mirroring my Lord and Savior.

Nearly 2 years ago I returned to my home church briefly.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, and it was but I let too much get in the way of it being the life line.  Part of issue I had was that when I went back expecting things to be as I left them, and they were not.  When we left it was “Pete and Marti with the party”.  When I returned it was a solo,  emotionally and spiritually battered mess.  I left and it was various friends, one couple in particular.  I returned and our former best buds were divorced and it was him alone in the pew with his kids.  Other members had left, and there were many new faces.  Then as I was trying to regain my spiritual footing in the midst of feeling judged (my heart issue), a former friend turned enemy decided to send my pastor an email making sure the church knew that they had a wretched sinner among them.  She, claiming to be a born again, God-fearing believer herself, wanted to be certain it was known that I was a former swinger, and that I had ‘attacked’ her on twitter.  It rocked the boat for me just too much.  The wounds of losing my husband in a divorce, the former dear friend turned enemy, the attempts to smear and attack (not to worry they already knew about where I had been), I was unstable and just didn’t last long there before going all lone ranger Christian.  How did that work out for me? Not so good as you can well imagine.

Here I am now, just 2 months shy of the 2 year mark of trying to return, but this time I went back ready.  I am prepared for the storm of judgment and attacks that may or may never come my way, either from others there, others in my life, or that former friend who herself is neck deep still in that swinger lifestyle.  My heart is very aware of where it needs to be each Sunday.  I’m back to being in God’s Word every day, or that is the goal.  I openly admit I miss one now and then but most days it is the case and I’m in the middle of some good bible studies that help too in reaffirming my faith.  This time I’m prepared to stick it out, because I’m not here for anyone by me and the Lord.  I’m there to worship Him, and be fed.  Anyone having an issue with my past, or how I dress, or my wild, bleach blond hair, well that is their issue not mine.  That is between them and God to deal with, not me.

Sadly, when one lives a life of coloring outside of the lines, they leave themselves open for other people to judge.  Okay even those that color meticulously inside of the lines also are objects of others scrutiny.  Anytime you are different from those around you that is just human nature to pick it apart.  Different draws attention.  But different is not always a bad thing.

I dare to be the line pusher, rule breaker and that can be both bad and good.  I have always colored outside of the lines, but not always in a good way.  When we sin we color outside of the clear lines set down by the Lord in His precious Word.  That is a big mistake.  It causes damage, it is sin, and sin always has consequences.  But when I stay within God’s lines, yet color outside of man’s lines? Well that can be a good thing.

I’m going to be doing a series of posts about coloring outside of the lines.  Some will be about my journey off the path and into the pig pen, some will be about my journey back home as a prodigal daughter.  Both are really one big picture of coloring outside of the lines.  But maybe, just maybe, when I’m done, you can see that it isn’t always a sin when the color goes past the boundary, sometimes it can be a beautiful picture if you stand back and look with an open mind.

I’m Not Who You Think I Should Be

I’m not who you think I should be.

  • I cuss like a drunken sailor at times.
  • Black is my favorite color because no matter what color my hair is, black shirts, dresses, coats, etc. just look best on me.
  • Speaking of hair, I like to wear mine a bit wild. This includes the color which changes permanently at times, other times it is spray in/wash out pinks or purples, or whatever color goes with the football team I’m cheering for or just the mood of the moment.
  • I have a  nose ring.
  • I have 7 holes in my ears and sometimes enjoy filling each one.
  • I have 3 tattoos and yes there WILL be more, including a full arm sleeve.  No I will not cover it up to make you more comfortable.
  • My favorite attire is jeans.  I don’t own many or care to wear dresses. I don’t own many pairs of dress pants.  I simply prefer and will wear jeans. Yes even to church.
  • I like all genres of music.

After a brief time, I left what should be my church home because I felt judged upon my return from walking in darkness for a number of years.  In fact I was judged.  It made me mad to be honest.  No one knew the heart of the woman that walked in there that day. Oh I was welcomed by many with open arms and even tears of joy.  That going ‘home’ was one of the most difficult things for me to do.  I knew some were more than aware of some of the paths I had walked since leaving ‘home’.  The prodigal son has nothing on his sister, trust me on this.  One day I will share that testimony of coming out of the darkness again and reaching for the light, but not now.

For a few weeks things were great and I was hungry for the food of God’s Word and the fellowship with other believers. I over indulged in wanting to reach out to others when this broken angel was the one needing healing.  I was under a microscope, and some around me began to nitpick at every post I had on Facebook, my blogs on the other page, even a post about a song I totally related too was torn apart because the artist who wrote and sung the song is not a believer and if anything is the complete opposite in character of one.  They missed the point of the post because they went all Pharisee on me instead of READING it and trying to understand what I was saying.  Instead of feeling reconciled to my ‘family’ and the love and encouragement I so desperately needed, I felt like I was falling short and being judged by the outside of the vessel and not what was on the inside.

Outside, the part of me that others initially see before getting to really know me, is sometimes not what one would expect from a believer.  I’m not the one to run around with a Christian sticker on my car so that every mistake I make driving (including a less than kind gesture with my hand) draws judgment upon my faith.  I don’t outwardly wear or do much of anything that would draw attention or judgment to my beliefs.  I prefer to let  my story, my actions, and the things my right hand is doing apart from the knowledge of the left one, be my testimony, though at times those are indeed rather weak.  Too many times I’ve watched those that “walk the talk” and have a certain way about them that seems all true believer, that impresses and draws the others praises, fall off the path in the worst of ways.  Even some within the very body of believers I called home.  It should be a glaring reminder to my brothers and sisters in Christ that anyone, regardless of their strength of faith, can and will disappoint you at times when they fall from grace.  Don’t be so quick to judge the vessel by what is on the outside.

Those who would judge me by my jeans and black shirts, and the lyrics to a song by an artist far off the path, would have a field day with what I could share of my own fall.  You who would pass judgment on me need time to accept me first.  May I suggest that there is a enough debris in front of your own door to tend too that you ought not be so concerned about what is in front of mine.  Indeed there is a spec (in all honesty several) in my eye, but you have plenty to contend with as you deal with the logs within your own.  I have  plenty of my own sins and short comings to deal with, I do not have the time to be busy pointing out yours.

My point to all this? Don’t judge me because I do not fit into the mold that you think I belong.  I am not Betty Baptist or Suzy Sanctified and don’t own those masks.  No mid-calf length jumpers and barely there makeup or sensible shoes for me.  It is NOT my style or even comfortable on me.  When I arrive on that pew again this Sunday, I will be dressed how I am comfortable.  It will be modest, but it will be ME.  I am not there to impress you with my clothes, or by saying the right phrases or buzz words of the day.  When I again walk through that door I come as a sister in Christ, starving for the food of God’s Word, hungry for the fellowship of the fellow sinners saved by God’s grace and not anything of their own doing.  I am there because as believers we are not to forsake the gathering with other like MINDED in faith. I am there to learn, be fed, praise and worship the Lord.

A dear friend and sibling in Christ, shared this with me:  “It’s not that people necessarily deliberately judge or are unkind; they just think they know what you should be like….and don’t understand that you simply aren’t what they think you should be.”  I am NOT who you think I should be.  I am a broken angel, my wings are tattered and torn, dirty and wounded.  But I am who the Lord has made me, a work in progress and an ever changing (for the better when I let Him do the work) vessel.  I’ve flown through storms of my own choosing, and yet I was and am exactly where He would have me to be.  I don’t fit into your mold, but if you can look past the outside and into my heart, you’ll see a long lost sister who has come home and needs to be with her faith family again.  If you cannot hug and love me for who I am, the unique, special, marvelous creation spoken of in Psalm 139, then you sit on  your pew and I’ll sit on mine.  I’m not there for you. I’m not there for God’s mercy.  I’m there because of God’s mercy, I’m there for Him and Him alone.