Rebellion & Authority


As a child, I early on developed a habit of rebellion towards untrustworthy authority.

This habit became who I am. And now that I am out from under said authority figures, the means how I navigated what I felt was right became a means to navigate to get what I wanted.

The result? A hardness of heart that reveals itself to my family and people who know me well. A terrible example to my children and the ungodly as to Who and What God is and how to glorify Him.

And where has that gotten me, practically? Anxiety, being easily offended and popping off at the mouth when I am, far too much opinion spewing from my mouth, an immense amount of anger, bitterness, and resentment, and most of all, a dichotomy inside myself that is constantly at war.

You see, I want to obey God. I  want to do what is right. I want to be a Proverbs 31 wife; have a wonderful marriage; be an excellent mother; and to raise godly boys. But how can I do that when I have set myself up as my ultimate authority figure?

The world rejoices at folks like me because I do not represent God, and when I do manage to behave and have the faith that He wants me to, I present a confusion to them. How can she be this, and believe that? No wonder I am under condemnation most of the time.

I know that sanctification is a process. It takes time. Your whole life. However, I should be further along by now! I know that a lot of what I am dealing with in my life, right now, is a direct consequence of outside forces that were way beyond my control. I am aware that my anger is a natural. I am aware that defense mechanisms come into place for logical reasons.

And I am also aware that God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness means that I should be able to operate outside of all that in a manner completely different from who I am. Not easily, but possible. I am aware that many of the consequences I am facing, and have been for more time than I care to share, lie at my own feet.

What’s the answer? This is an issue I have been facing most of my life, and I still am unsure. Being a Christian doesn’t give me all the answers! It actually gives me lots of questions, and while that is frustrating, I want GOD to be my ultimate authority figure. I do not want to rebel against Him.

Lord, I am praying to You this afternoon in a spirit of contrition, repentance, and a sincere desire for forgiveness. I have wronged You and others and I have wronged myself. Only You can take this deeply entrenched sin in my heart and fling it to the four corners of the Earth, and I ask – I beg – for You to do that now. What my life will look like when I am not in complete control is not what I’m afraid of anymore. What my relationships will be like without me as the ultimate authority does not interest me at all. All I want is to be obedient. That’s it, Father God. Obedience to You and You alone. I do not owe that to my parents, my husband, my friends, or my family. I owe that to You and then to my pastor, and I trust that You have provided an honorable man in that scenario. A man of integrity, love, compassion, grace, and wisdom. However, YOU alone are the be-all and end-all of my faith. The rest, I know, will settle out how You want it, in a way that is best for me and those closest to me.

In Your holy name, Amen.

May y’all be BLESSED today!

 

Psalms 1’s True Meaning


Psalms 1

The Way of the Righteous and the End of the Ungodly

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Verse 3 is my absolute favorite. It is a perfect refreshment. What a promise!

But…who is the promise for? You see, I’ve believed in Christ for almost 30 years and right now, I sure don’t feel that it’s for me.

But I’ve challenged myself to persevere, so here’s the best I can do, and please forgive me if I get it wrong.

If a man trusts godly counsel, meaning he lives his life based on what godly men say and believe, and doesn’t form his innermost circle with ungodly men, but instead is happy and content with the meditations of Jesus (because at this point, “the law” is not our only means of pleasing God), he shall be greatly blessed.

How shall he be blessed? He will bear fruit because he lives his life fully intent on pleasing God, and because of this, everything he does for God will succeed and thrive.

Verses 4-6 are entirely self-explanatory, so let’s focus today on 1-3.

Do these verses say we should not love and even befriend unbelievers? No, I don’t think so. It means when we have major decisions to make and need counsel, it is not to these we should go. When were are stumbling, it is not to these we should seek to spend time with, because they will cause us to stumble even more.

I once sat down with two women – one a believer and the other not so much. I explained a situation I was having trouble with, and both of them encouraged me to not worry about it. Despite its totally unBiblical nature. Despite its harm to me and my family. Two friends. Two friends I loved. Both way off base.

Friends, it isn’t enough to “believe.” You have to walk it out. Every day, the very best you can. Not because you are following the law, in the sense that striving is how to please God, but in the sense that you take the law that applies today and you live by it.

What parts of the law do not apply today? As believers of Christ, we know that once the veil was torn asunder, the need for blood sacrifice was over. The only way to repentance and forgiveness became going to the Feet of the Father and pleading with Him to forgive us, and knowing that He has without having to slaughter to get it.

Sometimes, unbelievers and Christians are the same thing. We all know baby Christians – some of you are one, like me. Those who desperately needs the father’s milk. Those who desperately want to drop the past like the bad freaking habit it is. Those who can’t quite do it on our bad days. Those who take one giant leap into awesomeness and 10 steps back into sin.

I’m not talking about these people. Well, that’s not entirely true. IF these friends read the Word, and know what it says, and are sincerely trying to follow it, then while I would not rely on their counsel alone, I’m not saying they shouldn’t share their advice with me, or that it would be wrong. I just would need to make sure I seek advice from mature believers.

The bottom line, I think, is this – when we seek after the Lord with all our whole hearts, then He understands what is truly in them. He understands that our sin is something we despise, something we tear at as it pierces our flesh – we want it gone.

If, like me, you find yourself facing this, in this particular season of your life, don’t lose heart. That beautiful, crystal-clear river is YOURS for the taking too! You don’t have to wait. You have it now. Maybe if you believe it, I can believe it too.

If you hang on to Jesus, then one day this affliction of your soul, this time in your life when you feel empty and lonely for the intimacy of God, will seem to you like exactly what He wants it to be – a season of refining, of building patience, of being drawn to God with your mind when your heart isn’t in it. A season of learning that feelings aren’t what we base our decisions on, but choices.

The Perfect Woman


I have known some real beauties in my life. By that I mean they are just naturally beautiful, gifted, kind, generous, fair, and have been blessed by wealth. Let’s see. Let me count them…whoops. I made a mistake there.

I actually don’t know any of those “lucky” ones after all, because as humans, we all have flaws. Maybe it’s only in the movies that we see visions of these lovelies, living a charmed life.

Or maybe you know someone like that. A woman you’d love to hate, but you just can’t because she’s so amazing.

Here’s what most of the women I know are like – their eyeliner might be a tad off if you look too close because they were drawing it on while their toddler peed all over the floor (those pesky kids just cannot make it to the bathroom on time); they have put aside their gifts and talents career-wise while they have and raise children; their generosity and mercy often comes because of not fitting in with other women and girls; they’re wealthy and beautiful, lovely and kind, but one or all of their kids has been struggling for so long with school that they’re at the end of their rope.

To men, the perfect woman is thin or just curvy enough, is an excellent cook, rarely speaks a word that isn’t 100% edifying to his ego, makes other men jealous of him, is smart and makes a good living, has plenty of sex drive, and…well, for some of them, if you throw in that she’s a Christian, that’s just an added bonus.

Am I too jaded? Maybe. A little too experienced with the wrong kind of man? Perhaps.

Answer me this – why do we tell our children they are perfect just the way they are, flaws and all, but cannot say the same about our mothers, sisters, friends, pastors’ wives, mother-in-laws, or colleagues? What is this innate need to find the imperfections of women we know – or even ones we’re just people-watching – in order to feel better or worse about ourselves?

I don’t think it’s culture or models or living in an affluent city full of gym bunnies, like I personally do. I think it’s human nature. And that is one tough mother to fight.

Before my husband and I got married, we did about a five-minute “marriage counseling” thing with our then-pastor. He said that he prances around in his birthday suit, despite aging and whatnot, while his wife covers her eyes. Face it, ladies – men just keep getting older while we’re supposed to stay the same as we looked on our wedding day.

Here’s a fact of life – there are more men on this planet than women, and a man would be hard-pressed not to find another woman who would take him if you didn’t. I’m not saying he will or even wants to – I’m just saying that I think that’s why most of us are so obsessed with getting older. We can pretend it’s for our friends or society as a whole, but if we cut all the you-know-what, I think you would discover that being attractive to men is what drives this. Especially your man.

It’s tough being a woman. Everyone else’s life can appear so perfect, and even when you know it’s not, they seem to be handling the challenges with more grace and serenity. But we all have secret hopes, desires, and dreams that we don’t always share with anyone else. That we put on the back burner for later in life. And as time marches on across our faces, breasts, and butts, we realize there is no later. There is no second chance. The time has passed for most of us. And even if that dream or wish isn’t as important to us, we find ourselves mourning the passing of it just the same.

So basically, life can just become a big ole pile a poo and we can just wallow in it, with our Sunday-smiles for others while we die inside. Or – and aren’t you glad there is one? We can look at life the way God intends us to.

You have a choice, regardless of circumstances, to look at your body, your home, your kids, your husband, your friends, your job – your life – with compassion and mercy for yourself and for the people in it. When I stand in front of the mirror and frown at my belly bulge, I have to remind myself to cradle it like I did when carrying my boys. LIFE has grown from that part of my body. Suck it in and put on some lipstick y’all.

Or we can just stew in the disappointments. I am staring 40 in the face, and alternate between grief and excitement. I keep waiting to mellow. I hope it comes soon. I want to age gracefully, so I pray for that when I realize I am not.  A woman’s life is not at all better than mine simply because of her address and the labels on her clothes.

I think to have compassion for other women, we first have to extend some radical grace to ourselves.

Christian Politics


Oh, goody! Right? How many of you – Christian or otherwise – wish you’d never seen that blog title?  Aren’t we just totally sick of the whole thing? Well, for those of you who keep reading…thank you. I’m not going into an over-long post today. It’s just that I haven’t blogged on politics in a really long time, and although I’m not at all itching to, I figured it’s time. I warn you now that I have nothing earth-shattering to relay to you.

Here it is. For many Christians, the world as they know it will end when the next United States president takes office. It doesn’t matter who it is. For many other Christians, unless Donald Trump is elected, the Rapture ensues.

Well, I can’t tell you when the end of the world is coming. Much as I like to think it – and tell it – I don’t know everything. I’m not God. That’s it. I’m not God. None of us are, so none of us can tell when it’s going to be over.

What I can tell you is this. We live in a country of remarkable freedom. Christians aren’t being annihilated here – at least, not physically. We can go to whatever church we want and can worship a plant or a tree or a river or a statue or the Living God.

But this comes with a caveat because while we are not being killed for our beliefs as Christians, we are most definitely being persecuted, and while I personally don’t subscribe to the panic that Hillary Clinton will wipe us off the planet, I do think the event of her taking office will start a chain reaction of fear of panic for many Christians. She won’t have to do a single thing – just becoming president will be enough.

I know how bleeding-heart, flaming liberals think. I used to be one. I know the feminist mindset. I used to have one. But I think this is rare – to be able to adequately see and relate to both sides of the equation between the conservative left and the liberal right. If you don’t have personal experience in this area, I must tell you to be quiet. As my Daddy would say, sit down in that corner and hush. Hush up, now! Something that seems crazy to you makes total sense to millions of people, and has since time began. Read, talk to Christians, and get their perspective.

What I think of either of these candidates isn’t relevant. First, it won’t change your mind. Second, I think at least 80% of us want neither candidate to take office and, at this point, would elect Sponge-Bob Square Pants if it were an option.

So here’s what I propose. Come on over to MY side. It’s nice here. There is a bit of worry, but it is largely overshadowed by faith and trust that although Nope or Noper may become the leader of the free world, y’all, thank the good sweet Lord that Jesus is King! I will give unto Caesar what I must, but my heart, mind, soul, and body reside in a heavenly home. Even now, while I yet live. My home is not this planet. My home is in the heavenly realm.

When I get het up, as they say, my “Alabama country girl” comes out. So listen up. I’m gone tell y’all something important. God, should He choose to light the world afire if Clinton is elected, is gonna take me home, so go on and light it up! And if Jesus comes down at the election of Trump and snatches off that toupee (did anyone think it was real?), I will laugh as I join the rest of you sinners that are heaven-bound.

However, if God has decided to just let things roll, let’s roll with it. He has worked through far worse leaders throughout history. In fact, He’s worked through every single one. That’s right. The good, the bad, and the ugly. It is all to His purpose. So just breathe, y’all. Love. Honor others and respect them. If that’s beyond your purview right now, keep your darn mouth shut! Life is short and heaven is long, so do good while you can and rejoice that despite the situation, the Godhead has got this.

 

Lord, How Long?


Have you ever asked that question of Him? Gracious, but I have. So many times I can’t remember them all. In fact, some of you might be asking God that question this very minute.

Actually, the sentiment comes from what I just read – Isaiah 6:11, in which Isaiah asks that of the Lord, and the answer isn’t comforting. “And He answered, until cities lie waste without inhabitants and houses without man, and the land is utterly desolate.”

Whoa. God didn’t say it was until the people thought they’d had enough, or one more week, or one more day. He said until the Earth is empty. That’s a really, really long time. How many of us can hang in there till then?

I know the context of this verse isn’t even about us in particular. I’m not taking this out of context to make the Bible say something it doesn’t. I’m just asking you, “Lord, how long?”

How long will my kid struggle at school? How long will my husband struggle at work? How long will my wife struggle to find a good friend? How long will I have to watch my mother suffer with death that won’t come? How long will it take me to forgive the man who shot my daughter? How long will I be poor? How long will it take to find someone who genuinely cares about me, and not my money?

How long, y’all? I can’t tell you that. It may be until tomorrow, or in 30 minutes, or – God forbid – the end of time. It’s not the “how long” we should be worrying about. It’s the “how” we should ask.

How, Lord, do I handle this hot mess? How, Lord, do I find joy (not happiness, which is an emotion that is fleeting, that comes and goes, but true joy – which isn’t always a feeling and is more often a choice)? How, Lord, do I wait for the answer?

Get out of your own head for a minute. Step back and look at the problem objectively – as critically as you can, considering how close you are to it. Now, here’s the fun part. Leave it there.

Yes, that’ right. Step away from the problem and don’t touch it, look at it, or think about it. For at least a few hours if you can. Come back to it. Nope? No answer yet? Leave it again. This time, leave at the foot of the Cross and leave it there.

It isn’t yours anymore – it is HIS.

What is a “Cheerful Giver?”


Yesterday, my fabulous pastor gave us an excellent message on giving. Yes, I know – this turns some folks off. Bear with me though, ok? Got some good stuff here if you hang in there.

One term or thing I thought I should research is “cheerful giver.” Other than the obvious – someone who likes to give – what does it mean for us? And I found two things, which are the following:

  1. Emulate Christ. Because He gave it all.
  2. Cheerful giving is a way of life.

But what kind of giver are you? While I cannot vouch for the total theology and doctrine of Boundless, I found the article helpful. Perhaps you will, too.

A few years ago, for reasons still unknown to me, I was asked to be part of a three-series panel discussion on giving at my previous church. Considering math is an abomination to me and I don’t do so great at spending, I was hesitant, but decided to go anyway. Boy am I glad I did!

We didn’t spend our panel discussion the way the other two groups did. We talked about giving. And giving is truly a way of life, because it involves every aspect of your life when you make it a priority.

For instance, every Sunday morning in our Connect Group, our leader asks that anyone thinking about serving could really be used in Kid City or Awana (our childrens’ groups). I squirm a bit here because I do not want to do it. But there are plenty of people who are called for this sort of service, at different seasons in their lives. While I am not called, yes, deep down I think I should sacrifice some of my time to help. But am I considering with a cheerful heart, or out of legalism?

Serving, which I firmly believe is part of giving, is something that I think mostly comes from the heart – a heart of passion and need to do it. But, truth be told, sometimes it’s just good old-fashioned have-to. As in, because I’m a Christian, every now and then I have to do something I don’t want to do. Something I will get zero credit for. Something no one will notice. Yes, it is easy to go to the church service project two Saturdays a year, and feel so very good about yourself.

But service is a life-time choice. Meaning – all the time! Who are you serving? Yourself? Your spouse and children? Helping others is great. It’s the sacrifice of our time we resent. And that, my friend, does not make us a cheerful giver.

Are you hospitable? Do you invite others to your home and share your meal with them? Or, like me, is the thought daunting? Like me, do you want everything to be perfect first? We have quite a lot in common with Martha, don’t we? Here’s part of her story.

Luke 10:38-42 – Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.  John 11:5 – Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. Luke 10:40 – But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.

Jesus’ response is priceless. And not at all what we would expect. Watch this!

And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken from her’ ”(Luke 10).

Should we open our homes and our hearts, as well as our hearth, to others? Even if it’s not perfect – not totally clean or neat, or – even worse – we think we won’t have enough? Absolutely, says the Word. Ever notice how much sweeter things taste and seem when shared with friends or loved ones? A little goes a long way. Just the breaking of bread together ensures we are thankful for the Lord and one another. God makes good things happen in those times, doesn’t He?

I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t mention the benefits of giving. While I never advocate thinking of yourself first in these matters, it really does make a difference in your own life! God richly blesses cheerful givers. And by that, I do not mean earthly wealth. I mean spiritual blessings. Which are far more valuable than money, y’all. Will there be some material goodness coming your way? I think so. A little bit, at least. But giving out of the love of your heart sends goodness out into the world, and God reciprocates by providing for your needs.

If you have ever been in need, you can imagine how life-changing it is to have a need met supernaturally. It blows your mind. So start giving y’all, and blessings!

How the Loser Actually Wins With God


Good morning! Shortly, I’m meeting a friend for a workout in the great outdoors, but before I go I wanted to  clue y’all in on something I read this a.m. in my Bible study.

We start with the Book of Luke. “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” “ Luke 7:47

Let’s get the backstory here. Jesus was at the home of a Pharisee, awaiting dinner. When He got there, two things weren’t done. The first is that the host did not offer Jesus water to clean His feet. The second is that the host did not offer a kiss of greeting.

It’s hard for us to imagine the world in which Christ lived, but in ancient times – and I dare say at the present time – hospitality in the Middle East-area was quite different from our Americanized version. When someone in Jesus’ day entered a home as a guest, water was offered for foot washing because people (like Jesus) in that day primarily walked – on dusty roads – and therefore had very dirty feet! Also, a kiss of greeting was just part of inviting someone into your home or perhaps even meeting them outside the home.

So, Jesus is seated at table and in comes this woman. We don’t know her name, although there is speculation that it was Mary (the prostitute, not the mother of Christ). At any rate, she washes Jesus’ feet with her tears and dries them with her long hair.

Why is she weeping? Because she is accepted by Christ despite her “many sins.” The going theory is that she is a prostitute. Even in today’s culture, if a hooker walked into church and sat down beside you, there’d be some uncomfortable silences and side-long looks going on. Imagine if she walked into a dinner party and sat down beside your husband. How many daggers could you shoot out of your eyes towards her?

But if the pew you sat down on contained Christ, would He have done those things? No, my friends – He would have smiled and opened His arms!

Pay attention to the last part of this verse: ” he who is forgiven little, loves little.” It is when Christ has to forgive us of deep sins that we come to grasp how fully He loves us, and we are then able to more fully love others.

It’s so easy to judge others who are different from us. Especially if our sins are easier to hide from the outside world. Jesus isn’t giving us permission to go and sin to a great extent. But what He is saying is that for those of us who have done it, His open arms are rock-solid, and He’s ready to embrace us.

And then what? The great news is that it’s not over! Just having His forgiveness and love would be more than enough, right? But it’s not! We are then to be used as a vessel through which we love others with the love of Christ!

It sounds good. But in reality, it’s tough. The people who know us well are not so quick to forgive and love again. They’re not quick to trust us. Who could blame them? We haven’t been what we should have been.

Y’all, don’t give up, and don’t let satan win. Oh yes. He’s playing his games through people who won’t give us another chance. And there are only two things you can do. The first is to always show God’s love to those people regardless of whether they welcome you back into their lives or not. The second is to mentally shake the dust from your feet while in their presence, if they are not welcoming, and to remember that you have the love of God and your other brothers and sisters in Christ to fall back on.

Blessings today, you who have sinned much!