Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

Love & Connection…Basic Human Needs

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God created us all with basic needs. We need oxygen to breath. We need nutrition and water to sustain life. We need shelter and clothing. These are all needs, but we shouldn’t forget that one of our basic human needs is for love and connection. God created us to NEED love and to feel connected to other people, both in friendship and also in romantic/intimate love.

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Genesis 2:18

It wasn’t good for man (or woman for that matter) to be alone. Alone. So many people are feeling alone at this very moment…their hearts aching to feel loved and connected. It’s such a strong longing that it can consume a person. It can steal his joy and leave him wondering how he will persevere through another day without it. God said it wasn’t good for man to be alone. We were made for connection.

We were made for romance too…

“Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” Proverbs 5:18-19

Sounds a little racy for the Bible right? God created romance. He created sexual intimacy. He created us to desire that connection. This is a such a strong need that it often leads people to be tempted to sin because of the lack of fulfillment. A husband or wife who is cold to his or her spouse is tempting them to sin. Is that an excuse to sin? Of course not! There’s never an excuse to give in to sin, but there is responsibility there.

“The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” 1 Corinthians 7:3-5

“So they are no longer two but one flesh.” Matthew 19:6

One flesh…in both spirit and body. They are one. God made us to need to be one with someone. He designed us to need to be one in a spiritual and emotional connection. A deep connection…one that is exclusive and evident in their lives. Couples who have this connection and oneness are so in sync with one another that they finish each other’s sentences and anticipate their beloved’s next move. They know each other’s interests, goals, dreams, likes and dislikes. They understand their spouse’s fears, struggles, joys and needs. As they grow and change, they change together and continue to learn about each other.

God also made us to need physical oneness. I mentioned it a few paragraphs ago. Sex. Intimacy. Connecting in a way that, again, is exclusive and vulnerable and a primal part of the human experience. Do you know how difficult it is for most people to live without sexual intimacy? Singles usually struggle immensely in this area, as do married people in lonely and cold marriages. Why struggle? Because humans were designed to need sexual intimacy and oneness, and we ache for it when we don’t have it.

So many marriages are made up of people who are still two separate beings. There are many reasons this happens. Some reasons are due to sin, ignorance of God’s plan, interference from outsiders and a general fading away of love. In these cases, there is every reason to hope for and work towards fixing the problem and connecting with your spouse.

Others have a much more difficult problem. There are many, many couples who married for all the wrong reasons. There are couples who married before they were believers only to find out that they shared none of the same values, passions and goals. There are marriages consisting of one believer and one non-believer.

These problems are not so easy, folks. I think sometimes The Church as whole looks on these issues as being minor or of little consequence. People are told just to “keep their vows” and not worry about the rest. Well, I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t keep vows or that marriages with issues should just be abandoned. I’m not advocating for divorce…not at all. I do think that Christians need to be very careful not to dismiss the heartache, pain and loneliness that people are feeling in their broken marriages. We need to have empathy and compassion. We need to understand that what we are advising is not easy at all…it’s literally denying one’s basic needs in service and obedience to God.

There are few things as destructive and hurtful as a marriage that has no love and connection. It’s devastating for the children. It’s a daily emotional and spiritual and even physical beating for the unhappy and unfulfilled husband and wife. Is there hope? In Christ there’s always hope, but that doesn’t mean the day to day life is any easier. It doesn’t mean the tears shed every night aren’t real. The pain is real. The loneliness is like your heart being trampled and abandoned day by day, and oftentimes no one even knows it’s going on behind closed doors. They suffer alone.

Connection. How can people feel connected if their core values are different? How can they feel loved if sexual intimacy is always withheld? How can marriage be successful if the two people in it are complete opposites and have no understanding of each other? Sometimes they fail. Sometimes there’s divorce. Sometimes bad marriages are so painful that people become physically sick. Sometimes sexual immorality enters in. Sometimes there’s depression and suicide….

…but sometimes there are miracles. Sometimes people find God and change. Sometimes wives read the Word and start to follow the leadership of their husbands. Sometimes husbands learn to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. Sometimes love and connection is rekindled, or formed for the first time. Sometimes people changed profoundly by the hand of God and the movement of the Holy Spirit. It does happen.

I very strongly want to encourage my fellow believers to lift up in prayer people in lonely, broken, loveless marriages. We were designed to need love and connection. If we don’t have that connection, there is suffering and pain. It’s not a minor issue. It’s like living without air. Like drowning. It’s a BIG issue.

So stop downplaying it. Stop giving easy answers. Give scripture, yes, but acknowledge that it’s not an easy road. Most of the time one spouse is willing to try but the other isn’t. Many times one won’t even admit there’s a problem. No one is guaranteed a good outcome. There are couples who never had love for one another and maybe never will. Acknowledge that their pain is real before you tell them just to choose to love. Have some compassion.

If you’re reading this and you’re longing for love and connection, just know that you’re not alone and your feelings are valid. You were made to need love and connection. It is a deep and basic need. My prayer for you is that you will be able to withstand the temptation to sin, even in your pain. I pray you are able to find love and connection to the right person, your spouse if you are married, or in a future spouse if single. Praying for all of my lonely and hurting friends tonight that you would feel the comfort of a God who loves you, that you will not fall into despair and that you would remember that your life is important to God and to your loved ones.

Photo credit: Nick-K (Nikos Koutoulas) First dance! via photopin (license)

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When Will I Be Healed? – God’s Will

12241540_10203630329638421_1285773297065267458_nAs a Christian I’ve always sought to understand the balance in God’s Word about asking for and believing in miraculous healings. I’ve studied God’s Word as I’ve seen conflict in The Church about if God heals, how God heals and when God heals. With so many different mindsets and opinions out there amongst God’s bride, it’s important for us to study to show ourselves approved and seek to understand as best we can what God’s will for healing is…because that’s what really matters.

As we study the Bible, we learn about God’s character. We see balance in His character. We see sovereignty and also the gift of free will. We see wisdom and also the occasional blindings for a higher purpose. We see immediate answers to prayer and others that take time. In all that God does and all that He allows, we see purpose and perfection because His will is perfect. He is always good.

So when we talk about healing, I immediately expect to see those characteristics of God in the works and indeed I do! So here’s what I’ve learned about healing God’s way, and how I apply it to my situation in dealing with Chronic Lyme Disease:

  1. God does heal. There’s no doubt about it. We see examples of Jesus healing and of God healing through the prayer of His people repeatedly in scripture. While some insist that the gift of healing stopped with the apostles, my question for them would be why? What scripture do you have to support that theory? See, I’m not about just trusting the opinion of feelings of mankind. The Bible says the heart can be deceptive. I’ve seen no scripture to indicate that the gift of healing isn’t for the church today, so I believe God does heal. I’ve seen Him heal both miraculously and through medicine. Glory to God!

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16

2. God doesn’t always heal…at least not on earth. God healed many in scripture, but some He chose not to heal. He didn’t heal Paul of his failing eyesight or the thorn in his side. He didn’t heal Timothy of his frequent infirmities and stomach issues. Yet He raised Tabitha from the dead through the prayers of Peter. We see that God does heal, but sometimes He chooses not to. You may have faith to trust God to heal you, but do you have enough faith to trust Him through the illness He allows you to have?

“No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.” 1 Timothy 5:23

3. God has a purpose in healing or not healing. I’ve been to churches that claim healing as if they are single-handedly controlling the power of the Holy Spirit, slinging Him around at their will…but isnt’ it supposed to be God’s will? Since when do we have the authority or power to command the Holy Spirit? Let us not forget the Holy Spirit is a part of the triune God. As we come before the Lord to seek healing, we ask for it…we ought not to demand. We ought not to “claim” it as it is our right rather than God’s good pleasure. I see a lack of humility in that approach and an underestimation of God’s sovereignty and His perfect wisdom. See, God knows why He heals some and doesn’t heal others. He has a purpose in it all. He healing many throughout scripture but He didn’t heal others and it was for a specific purpose. Perhaps He has a higher purpose for my suffering. Perhaps my suffering will be a ministry to help me reach others (it already has served that purpose).  Perhaps my suffering will somehow bring God glory as people see my faith stay strong in the midst of pain. Perhaps I need this struggle in my life. God’s ways are so far above ours. When we claim healing and demand from God what WE think we need and what WE want in our lives, we are almost telling God that we know better. We are seeking our will instead of His will. Nay, I will trust in Him and His ways and His perfect knowledge.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.

13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self  is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-18

4. Faith in sickness and health…. just like the marriage vows in most weddings, we ought to pledge our love and honor to the Lord in times of sickness and health equally. Our faith should be just as strong in those weak and painful times as in the healthy, easy times. Faith isn’t believing that nothing bad will ever happen to us. True faith is trusting God and allowing Him to help us through it no matter what comes our way. The disciples were beaten and killed. Christians around the world are being persecuted for their faith. Our Lord Jesus was mocked, beaten and killed for us though He was without sin. The Bible warns us that these times will bring pain, trial, illness, testing and persecution. Any teacher who tells you that life with Jesus should bring you health, wealth and prosperity on a worldly level is selling you something that’s definitely not based on the Word of God. It leaves Christians confused when times of hardship come, and they will come. Faith in good times and bad. Faith in sickness and health.

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

 

And so, dear brothers and sisters, take heart and rest assured that your lack of healing is not necessarily because of a lack of faith. It’s not because you are a bad Christian and definitely not a sign that God’s turned His back on you. Do we need faith to be healed? Yes. Jesus said we do. There’s no doubt that our faith plays a part in it. But are the faithful guaranteed earthly healing? No. Do we have the power to demand the Holy Spirit heal us on our terms? No. Do we stop asking for healing? Never.

Pray for healing.

Know that God can heal.

Surrender to His will and trust Him.

Glorify Him in sickness and in health.

Know that one day, we will have heavenly, resurrected bodies where there will be no more pain, sickness or death. Praise God! The glory that’s coming so far exceeds the pain of this life. It’ll all be worth it one day, friends. God’s promises that. Do you believe Him?

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Owning the Role of Womanhood

15178297_10205770251895140_4852936928104574322_nI love being a woman. I have no desire whatsoever to be a man. God made me a woman with certain roles, strengths and even weaknesses. Men and women are different…to say otherwise is to ignore scientific fact, studies of the very nature of our genders and even common sense. We are different physically, emotionally and spiritually (in the sense of how God desires us to walk out the callings He has on our lives).

The world has fervently tried to convince us that men and women are the same. This is not about equality. In God’s eyes we are equal. Men are not better or higher than women, nor the other way around. In Galatians 3:28 God says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” God says we are equal, so that’s not in question. We can all agree that women should hold an equal standing when it comes to rights. No problem there.

Equality does not mean we are interchangeable or indistinguishable. It does not mean we are equally suited for every activity. Again, science tells us that in some cases men are better suited for a task while in other situations a woman is better suited. Equal but different, and I’m so very grateful for that.

I’m so very willing to let my husband carry the heavy boxes. I’m so grateful that he mows the lawn. What’s more important is that he is the head of our home and that carries a responsibility that I have no desire at all to try and take away from him. He is responsible for the well-being of our family and keeping our home spiritually in order. He is our covering, answering to our Lord for our spiritual condition. That is a job I do not want. I’m grateful that I’m not called to that role….not that my role is easy either. haha

“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” Colossians 3:18

Submitting is voluntarily placing oneself under the authority of another. Submitting is not bondage or slavery or being a doormat or losing equality. Submitting is a beautiful act of selflessness and it’s something we are called to do all throughout life in many circumstances. We submit to the authority of police officers, teachers, employers and most importantly to God. Don’t be scared of submission in the home… there is great beauty in it and you will find that the best and most successful marriages were built on men loving their wives as Christ loved the Church, laying down their lives for their wives, and wives submitting to their husbands as unto the Lord. Beautiful.

I love being a woman. I love that God made me a nurturer, a mother, emotional, discerning, gentle and feminine. I love that I was able to give birth to a daughter. I love that I am the keeper of my home and that I have the ability to create an atmosphere of warmth and comfort and love in this place.

I love that God made my husband a man. I love that he is our covering and our protector. I love that he is logical to balance my emotion. I love that he works hard to provide and that he loves the Lord. God has a perfect plan, and while we are not perfect people, we are at peace in the center of His perfect will for us in regards to our roles as men and women.

Ultimately, God created man and woman in His image. I believer our attributes and different giftings are all a part of who God is. When a man and woman come together in the unity of marriage, we fit perfectly in every way, and we glorify God in this unity.

I am a woman and I love being a woman. I am equal with my husband and I’m in submission to my husband. I am valuable. I am free to give myself willingly to this man to whom I have pledged my life. I LOVE being a woman and I own it without shame, fear or regret.

Proverbs 31:10, “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.”

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Let Go of the Past

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“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14

The past. Everyone has one though everyone’s past is different. Some are painful. Most people have regrets, bad memories, wounds and shame that colors their past, often lingering in their minds and hearts. While the past is behind us, for so many it continues to haunt them and affect their present negatively. For the redeemed in the Lord, the past need not plague us or have power over us.

If you are in Christ Jesus, there is no need for sins you have committed or hurts enacted upon you to keep you in chains. You are free! Free to forgive yourself and free to forgive those who have harmed you. Free to let go of the past and to embrace whatever God has for you in the future without fear or condemnation. You are free to live as a new creature. The past has no authority over you.

I love the verse there in Philippians 3. It both challenges and encourages me. I believe that part of the gift of new life we have in Jesus is freedom from the past…putting off the old and receiving the new. When we come to Jesus, He breaks and removes the chains of the past from us, and yet I see people scooping those chains up from the floor and binding themselves up again. I wonder how it makes the Father feel. The Son dies on the cross to free His people but then they choose to put themselves back under bondage? I see brothers and sisters in the Lord who accept the salvation of the Lord (praise God) but do not accept the freedom He has bought for them. Why?

  1. Forgiving Others. Forgiving those who have harmed us is no easy undertaking. Some have experienced such awful betrayals and offenses that they carry emotional wounds that continue to hurt. Until we can learn to truly forgive these offenders, we will never be truly free from the past. I can tell you from experience that with the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives, it is possible to forgive even the most terrible offenses. Mark 11:25, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
  2. Forgiving Self. While some struggle with forgiving others, a great number of believers simply can’t forgive themselves for the sins of their past. Though we may believe that God has forgiven us, we condemn ourselves, refusing to let ourselves receive full pardon for our transgressions. To forgive ourselves, we need to fully trust and believe God and what His Word says. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was all-sufficient in redeeming us. If the Son has wiped our sins away, bringing us justification, we need to honor Him by living in that fully. Accept redemption. Be free and forgive yourself. Jesus died so that you could start again. New life. A second chance! Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
  3. Excuses. I have to say that I think many believes choose to dwell in the past because they use the pain they have been through as an excuse to not grow in the Lord and in life. They hold onto the past in order to justify continuing to live in despair, in bad situations and even in sin. Instead of making changes and moving forward, they remind us that their past has brought them to this place, as if there is no new life at all. When faced with the challenge of getting their lives together and walking in newness of life, they make excuses and never grow. The problem is, using our past as an excuse is limiting the power of God in their life. It is saying that Jesus’ sacrifice and redemption was not complete or sufficient. It’s also a way of putting aside personal responsibility. If Jesus has freed you and made you new, then He walks you to walk in newness of life. That doesn’t mean life will be easy or that growing isn’t hard, but using the past as an excuse not to live joyfully in the future is denying God’s power and glory in your life. Psalm 30:11 “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness…”

God gave us new life and freed us from the old life and all that it embodied. We are free. We are new. The past is gone and buried. God wants us to walk in freedom so that we can experience all that He has for us in the future. Now, we sometimes do carry consequences of the past with us. The consequences of sins or offenses against us sometimes do not go away with our re-birth in Christ. Still, we must believe that God wants to redeem all of the parts of our lives. We may have challenges and obstacles that make it harder for us to live the way He wants us to, but we have an almighty God who has promised to help us. With Him, all things are possible. In Him, life can be totally different then it was before. He can move the mountains in our lives, but He asks us to do our part also.

If you are stuck living in the shadows of your old life, bound by chains of unforgiveness, sin and full of excuses for why your life never gets better, you aren’t living in the newness of life God has for you. You are putting on chains that He has broken. You are limiting His power in your life. God wants to redeem every hurt and heal every wound, but first you have to be willing to let go. You have to be willing to forgive, both yourself and others. You have to be willing to stop letting your past, and even the consequences of the past, be an excuse for not living well in the present.

Let it go. Be free. Stop using it as an excuse, and you will find that the past has no power of you. God has great plans for you and to use you to bless your family, your friends, your community and the lost. You’ve allowed the past to cripple you and have allowed God to be too small in your life. It’s time to move forward. No more looking back. It’s time to start living in new life. I pray for each person reading this to live in God’s redemption fully and to be blessed as you do what God said in Philippians 3…

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

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My Husband Restored My Faith in Fathers

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There’s been a song in my heart for the past several weeks…Kelly Clarkson’s “Piece by Piece”, in which she sings from the perspective of a woman who’s father abandoned her when she was young. It goes on to uplift her husband who redeemed in her mind what a good man and father should do for his family. It brings me to tears every time I hear it.

“He’ll never walk away.

He’ll never break her heart.

He’ll take care of things.

He’ll love her.

Piece by piece, he restored my faith 

That a man can be kind

And a father should be great.”

 

Yes, a father should be great. On Father’s Day, we honor the men in our lives who have been fathers; either biologically, adoptive or spiritually. Since my own father’s passing seven years ago, the day is always a mixture of celebration of my husband and also a bit of sadness, mourning not just the passing of my father but also the relationship we didn’t have. My dad was an imperfect man. In fact, he wasn’t a very good man in many ways. I don’t say that to dishonor him, because I’ve come to forgive him for the wrongs he did against my family and I. He was a sinner (like the rest of us), and he did choose to follow his own selfish ways rather than to be a father. It hurt. It still hurts to think on it. I guess that’s why I’m so grateful that my daughter has a father who, like in the song, has restored my faith that a father can be faithful, self-sacrificing and great.

So today, on Father’s Day, I honor my husband. William, you are the best father to our daughter. There’s not a doubt in my mind that you will never leave her, break her heart or stop loving her. It blesses me beyond measure to see the relationship you have with her. She adores you. She loves spending time with you. As you take her on your Daddy/Daughter dates and to dances and buy her flowers, you are showing her what a good man does and how he treats a lady. You are becoming the standard at which she measures the men that will cross her path when she is older. She will know that she is to be valued and respected and cherished.

Thank you, William. Thank you for being a wonderful Father for our girl. Thank you for your faithfulness to our family and for serving us. Thank you that I never have to fear you are going to just walk away and leave us, like my dad did. I can’t tell you how much that means. We aren’t a perfect couple and we’re not perfect people. We all have issues to work through, but never have I ever questioned for a minute that you are a good man and an even better father.

For those who are reading this who are struggling today with pain because maybe your own father, like mine, hurt you or left you, I’m praying for you today. Praying for comfort. Thanking God that He is our Heavenly Father and that He will never abandon us. For those who are hurting because your children do not have a good father in in their lives, I’m so sorry. Praying for you and your kiddos. Please know that God says He steps in and cares for the widows (abandoned) and the fatherless. He is there. He will meet your kid’s needs. Praying for spiritual and adoptive fathers to step in and show these kiddos what it means to be loved and cared for by a father.

Happy Father’s Day to all of those Dads, stepdads, adoptive dads and spiritually fathers out there who are faithful to their families and to the Lord! We honor you!

 

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My Experience with Pain

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Pain. Anyone who has experienced a broken bone, has had to pass a kidney stone, has given birth, has suffered severe injuries or has chronic illness understands pain. Everyone goes through times of physical pain. People get arthritis, back aches, muscle pain, headaches, etc. Pain is a part of life. For some, pain is a part of daily life. For the chronically ill or those who suffer from lifelong injuries, pain is a constant enemy that tries very hard to beat us up physically, emotionally and even spiritually.

I’ve suffered from pain for the last six years. That’s about when I believe my Lyme Disease started. It began with arthritic-like pain in what they call the cross area of the back (neck and shoulders). Pain was the first symptom and it has never left me….not in six years. I’ve had good and bad days, but it’s always there and it’s always getting worse.

Over the course of the six years I saw many doctors in search of answer and help. I had other symptoms as well and so I was tested by GPs for markers for lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and more. They would run blood panels and find no answers so eventually they would tell me I was fine and to go home. I knew I wasn’t fine. I also saw many specialists. Over the six years I saw a cardiologist, a neurologist, a gastroenterologist and two rheumatologists. They did x-rays of my neck and saw arthritis. One rheumatologist told me I just have a bad neck (forget about the rest of the pain) and just to take good care of it. The other gave me a shot in the shoulder and then sent me to a few months of physical therapy. The pain continued and got worse.

All of these doctors and still there were no real answers for the pain, and definitely no solutions. It was hard but for a long time the pain was tolerable. It wasn’t fun, but I could pretty much do what I needed to do. The other symptoms (dizziness, heart issues, numbness and tingling, stomach problems, headaches, etc.) were also frustrating but not terribly bad. Then I went through a tremendously stressful event in my life and it put my symptoms into overdrive.

The past 12 months have been indescribable in many ways. How do you explain that kind of relentless and crippling pain? In the morning, before I’m fully awake, there is a brief period of intermission between sleep and awake where the pain hasn’t registered yet. I value those few seconds because in a moment all of the sensors begin to awaken, reminding my brain of the widespread pain throughout my entire body. I can tell you that in those moments when the pain comes alive again to plague me for another day, sometimes all I can do is weep just a little and cry out to the Lord for help.  I imagine it’s how someone might feel after being beaten up the night before by a team of boxers. Except there are no bruises…no evidence of the pain that anyone can see.

So this pain…the pain that never goes away and never lets up… it does leave you feeling beaten up. Obviously the physical pain is there. It also affects you emotionally and spiritually. Emotionally there are times when the pain gets the better of you. It steals joy away. It reminds you that your life isn’t what you thought it would be. You can’t do what you want to do. You feel alone (even with loved ones offering support). You feel like no one understands. It can affect your marriage and other relationships. With Lyme, you worry about finances and you’re never sure if you’re choosing the right treatment protocol. Sometimes there’s a lot of fear. And sometimes you just can’t handle the turmoil of knowing that you may be looking at a lifetime of pain. It never lets up. Never a break. Imagine having the flu forever. Every day. The pain can bring you to times of struggle with depression and anxiety for sure.

Any Christian who has experience pain, physically and emotionally, knows that it can be a spiritual struggle as well. Accepting that God is allowing you to suffer isn’t always easy. We know the He never promised an easy life here. His disciples all suffered. Jesus suffered more than we can imagine. Still, in those times when you cry out to the Lord for help and healing and yet it doesn’t come at that moment, it can be hard. We ask God why this is happening to us. Why me when I have strived to serve you? Sometimes we feel overlooked or abandoned by our churches, often because we don’t let them see how badly we’re suffering and that we need help. We don’t want anyone to know that we are struggling. We don’t want to complain or be a burden.

Pain beats you up but I fight back and I’ll never stop fighting. I’ve been a Christian for many years and I believe God has a purpose in the pain and suffering. He brings me comfort and He reminds me that this present pain is not worthy to be compared to the glory that’s coming. He gets me through day by day, step by step. I praise Him that I can still teach and that I can still go out and spend time with my daughter. I know that He can heal me completely, and of course that’s my daily prayer, but I also trust Him that if He tarries in bringing healing it’s for a reason. I know that He has abundant grace for me on those days when I take my eyes off of Him and have them focused on the pain. He loves me when I fail and on those days when I let the pain get the better of me. He never leaves me or forsakes me. He is my Deliverer and my Comforter! Thank You Jesus!

This blog may have some across as dark and miserable, but I leave you with words of great joy. Beloved, there will be an end to pain! Yes there will!!! Pain may attack us and beat us up while we are here on earth, but there is glory and healing and complete restoration coming when we put our faith in Jesus! We will not suffer forever. We will not be left in torment. We will be delivered and restored and every pain will be chained up and thrown into the pit. Pain loses! Jesus wins! He already has won. So, even in the hardest times here on earth, we must keep our eyes on Him. We must remember we have victory in Jesus over pain and sin and every other evil thing. Victory over pain!

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Loving a Lymie

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It’s not easy loving a lymie, or anyone with chronic illness actually. It’s not that it’s hard to love the person. Many times you’ve known them and loved them long before they got sick. What’s hard is when God calls you to come alongside someone who is ill and is likely to remain ill for the rest of their life (aside from a miraculous healing…always a possibility). It’s tough and I’ll tell you why.

Whether it’s a friend, a family member or someone from your church, you probably know someone with some sort of chronic illness such as fibromyalgia, MS, lupus, Lyme Disease or even something that hasn’t been diagnosed yet. If you’re my friend, you know me! If you’re not already aware, I have chronic lyme disease and have been sick for going on six years now (though the past 18 months has been by far the worst).

It’s not an easy path when God calls you to support and love someone who is always sick for many reasons. Here are a few for you to ponder and perhaps pray about:

  1. The Long Haul

Chronic illness is, by definition, a lifelong problem. Unless God heals it miraculously, a person who is chronically ill is likely to be sick throughout their life on earth. Why does that make them hard to help? Because they ALWAYS need help. It’s not quite the same as bringing a meal to someone who has the flu or cleaning someone’s house after they just had a baby. When you’re called to serve someone with chronic lyme or another illness, there is no end in sight. We are “needy” for the long haul. It’s hard on our friends and family, and it’s so very hard on us. Believe me, we don’t want to feel like a burden. We don’t want to ask for help over and over.  We really don’t want to be so keenly aware that we will suffer like this for the rest of our lives. Still, Christ gives us assured hope that this pain and sickness, while it may last for the duration of earthly life, will be healed when we are with Him. So we press on.

  1. Chronic Illness is Boring

If you knew me before I was sick, you know that I was a very active person. I have a big personality, some would say. I love to laugh and have fun and go out. Being sick really interferes with your social life. I’m blessed that I can still make it out sometimes, but more often I’m too tired and sore to leave the house much. I don’t always make it to church (which is super hard for me). I can’t go to every birthday party or concert or ministry event. When you love a lymie, you have to realize that we just aren’t as “fun” as we used to be. We can’t do what we did before. It’s hard to be friends with someone who can’t go shopping with you or come to your kids’ birthday party. Still, you can have fun with us if you come and sit with us a while. We can laugh and catch up and have a nice visit if you don’t mind us lounging around in our PJs.

  1. You Give More Than You Get

If you’re called to walk alongside someone with chronic illness, understand that you’ll probably be giving more than you receive in some ways. We may not be able to “do” acts of service for you in the way you do them for us. We may not be able to cook you meals or help clean your home or bring you coffee as often. Again, I’m blessed that I’m still able to do those things on good days. I find it absolutely delightful to do meals for people or to run errands and help out. I love that I can still do that and I’ll keep doing it until I absolutely can’t anymore. Still, for many lymies their illness has meant they are bedridden and confined to their homes. Sometimes they are attached to IV’s, trying to recover. Ultimately loving someone who is very sick means you have to give without asking for much in return. What we can always give back is love, prayer and friendship. Sometimes that has to be enough.

  1. Another Post About Lyme?

Yes, I post a lot about lyme disease. Some people post a lot about fibromyalgia or MS. Why do we do that? There are several reasons. When it comes to lyme disease, people generally know so little about it…even in the medical community. We are always trying to raise awareness. We also share because we often feel lonely in our illness. We are aware that people don’t usually understand what we’re going through or how sick this disease makes us, and we have a strong desire for our friends and family to understand. Sometimes we post because we really need prayer or because we’re having a particularly bad day and need help but are too prideful or shy to just come out and ask for help. When you love a lymie, you may have to deal with reading posts or hearing us talk about our illness. It may seem boring to you or redundant, but it’s what is happening in our lives. If you ask how we are, our first response will usually be about being sick because it affects every area of our lives. Please be patient with us. Loving an ill person means you should take an interest in learning about our illness, reading our sometimes subtle pleas for help and offering us lots of grace.

  1. Love Bears All Things

Love bears all things and endures all things and believes all things. Love never fails. Loving the chronically ill is not an easy road. I can tell you that having chronic lyme has affected many of my friendships. I have often felt alone, misunderstood and that others don’t believe how sick I am because we don’t always look sick on the outside. Lyme Disease beats a person up physically, emotionally, financially and sometimes spiritually. We have a hard time finding a doctor to help. Treatment makes us sick and often leads to bankruptcy.  It’s so very hard, my friends.  I’ve been blessed to have one friend from church who checks in on me consistently and offers to bring meals and groceries (thanks Anna!!!) and also several good friends locally who have surprised us with meals, offered to help around the house and even brought me coffee ! I’ve also had some amazing people in my life help with the cost if treatment.  I appreciate you all more than words can say. Loving someone with lyme is not easy, but true love bears all things.

Loving someone with chronic illness is a burden, but it can also be a blessing. I believe truly that we, The Church, are called to love and serve one another in a real, daily life kind of way. I believed it before I was sick and I believe it now. Jesus sacrificed everything for us on the cross, but before that He also took on the position of the most humble servant in the house and washed feet. He ministered to crowds to the point of exhaustion. He wept over the death of Lazarus with great compassion, even though He knew He would raise him from the dead. Jesus served people fervently. He gave all of Himself and that’s what we are supposed to be doing. I will keep doing it until I have no more strength left. Now I need to work on being willing to receive from others that love and support in my illness, putting pride aside.

So there it is friends. It’s difficult to love someone who is always sick, who can’t give much back in return, who isn’t quite as fun anymore and who goes on and on about the new research coming out about their illness. I get it. I see that it’s hard, but if God calls you to love that person, then He will give you the strength, the wisdom and the courage to really love and serve them. Honestly, I think it’s something we are called to do. The Church needs to do this. This is how The Church is supposed to function. Yes, it means sacrifice. Yes, it’s often inconvenient. Yes, it’s also a blessing.

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Why Women Pastorship is Anti-Biblical

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I was talking with a friend and sister in the Lord last night about the concept of women pastors and this morning it was on my heart to go ahead and share why having women in a pastoring role is not in alignment with God’s Word. Now I know there are all kinds of movements and justifications out there for allowing women to teach, lead or pastor a church, and I could go through each one of them one by one and explain what makes them invalid points, but I don’t need to do that. I don’t need to know those arguments, nor do I need to dispute them and that’s because I know and believe what the Bible says on the matter.

Reading the Word in its most basic form shows us God’s plan for church leadership/teaching, and anything added to it is merely man’s logic, ideas, thinking, etc. God’s ways are above ours. Pleasing Him should be our primary focus. So, I look at what the Bible says and I get the answer to the question of whether or not women should pastor or teach a church. I don’t need anything more than that and I trust that God’s plan is perfect.

“Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach…” 1 Timothy 3:2

Why should a woman not pastor a church? Because the Bible makes it clear on several accounts that an “overseer” (the word means pastor, elder, leader) is to be a man. A husband of one wife. In every passage that talks about the role and qualifications of a pastor, the person is referred to in the masculine format. He is a male. God clearly desires men to be leading the church under His (Jesus’) headship.

This makes perfect sense, after all, because we see a pattern in scripture. God refers to Christ as head of the church, He being the groom and we are the bride. He always refers to Himself as masculine. Then we see God making the husband as leader of the household. Male leadership. So it makes perfect sense that God’s will is for men to lead the church. We will talk more about why in a moment, but for now we can trust the Lord and submit to His Word that women are not to pastor. Still, we go on…

“11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” 1 Timothy 2:11-13

The Bible says here that women are to learn in silence. People have asked me, “What does that mean? Are women not allowed to speak in church? What about prayer? What about worship?” The scripture here isn’t talking about worship or prayer. It is talking about learning and teaching. Women are to learn in silence. We have seen elsewhere in scripture where women were worship leaders. We don’t see scripture against women praying aloud during times of prayer. We don’t see scripture stopping them from using spiritual gifts. We simply see that when it comes to the teaching aspect of church, they are to learn in silence.

In verse 12 there in 1 Timothy 2, we see that there are three separate things women are told not to do in this church setting:

  1. Teach a man
  2. Exercise authority over a man
  3. Remain quiet

We therefore see that it is not Biblical for women to teach Biblical principles to men or to be in authority over them, as a pastor role would allow. Again, there are many theories and ideas out there to justify women teaching under the authority of male leadership, but ultimately this scripture doesn’t just talk about authority. It also talks about teaching. So I cannot agree with those theories that seem to add their own opinions to God’s Word.

You may  be wondering why God commanded this? Why can’t women teach men if they are good teachers and feel called? Wasn’t it just about the culture at the time the Bible was written? No. It wasn’t. First of all, God doesn’t change. If you believe the scripture is God’s very Word, then there is no reason to believe He had a different plan for the structure of the NT church than He does for today. He’s never wrong, ergo He never needs to evolve or change. His ways are perfect always. Also, we don’t need to ask why because He already told us.

Why????

13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” 1 Timothy 2:13-14

God answers the question. It wasn’t about the culture. It wasn’t about whether or not women were “good” teachers. It was because Adam was formed first and then Eve, showing a progression of leadership and authority. It can be related to how Jesus is referred to as the first-fruit. It shows His pre-eminence and His position as first in rank or leadership. So Adam was created first and given his jobs and callings and instructions. Then God created Eve and made her to be a perfect helper for her husband. She was to help him in the calling God had put on his (and thus their) lives.

He also says there in verse 14 that Adam was not deceived but Eve was. That’s the truth that I think makes everything perfectly clear and gives me such a sense of harmony with God’s Word on this topic. Eve was deceived because she was a woman led by emotions. Let’s face it, we ladies tend to be more led by emotions than logic. God says we are easier to be led astray or deceived than our men. He created them to be less emotional and more logical.

So logical-thinking men are placed in the positions of authority and teaching in the church. Are we ladies left out? Certainly not. You see our emotional and nurturing side makes us perfectly suited for other roles we are to carry. We support our husbands. We nurture our children. We teach other sisters in the Lord (Titus 2). We feed people. We clothe them. We make them feel welcome. We have SO much to offer ladies and God wants to use our emotional and nurturing side so powerfully. He made us this way for a reason! It’s beautiful!

I believe God’s Word. It’s pretty clear on this issue of ladies teaching, and yet I know there are wonderful believers who disagree. This blog isn’t meant to offend or to come against them. However, in a world where men’s theories and ideas are being taught as if it were scripture, it’s important that there are still voices out there proclaiming what God’s Word really says. To my sisters in the Lord who have claimed the role of pastor, pray hard and be open to God turning your heart. He has a perfect plan for His church, and scripture says it isn’t with a woman at the helm. God has great plans for all of His daughters and He wants to use them, but His way. Not ours.

I encourage you ladies to share this and also to look it up for yourselves. Just remember, this isn’t my opinion. This is a very simple look at what scripture says. It’s black and white. Be careful that you do not allow the theories and justifications and concepts of men and women to be more important or valid than God’s Word on the matter. God bless!

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When Christians Make Light of Divorce

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I’m often surprised by the comments and actions of men and women who proclaim themselves to be followers of Christ but then misrepresent Him and the Word in most, if not all, areas of their lives. It surprises me when “Christians” admit to being pro-choice or when they try to justify supporting sexual immorality (sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, etc.). It disturbs me to see “Christians” at bars getting wasted or to hear them brag about how they deceived the government into getting more welfare by misrepresenting their income. What breaks my heart even more is to hear “Christians” talk about divorce with a flippant attitude as if it’s some sort of joke. It’s no joke and it’s no laughing  matter.

God hates divorce. Divorce breaks the heart of the Father. You see, when He designed marriage, it was to be for a lifetime. It was to be a heavenly gift to His people that would train them up into maturity in ways only marriage can. We see that as the Lord compares earthly marriage to the spiritual marriage between Christ and the church (Eph 5). Divorce wasn’t God’s plan, though He does allow it in cases of adultery because of the hardness of hearts. It’s no joking matter.

“He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” Matthew 19:8 ESV

“And this second thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”” Malachi 2:13-16 ESV

This passage in Malachi really shows us the heart of the Father and how He regards divorce. Does it look like He finds it funny? Takes it lightly? Is totally fine with it? No. God takes marriage and divorce very seriously. He never wanted His children to experience the pain of divorce. He made them one flesh…if one flesh is torn in half, will that not cause pain and terrible scarring? Of course it does. It hurts the man and the woman. It breaks the heart of the children. Divorce is ugly and painful and violent and brokenness.

Understand that God does sometimes release people into divorce. For a man or woman who has experiences the horrific pain of having a spouse commit adultery, you do have the freedom Biblically to file for divorce. For people who are being abused, leaving for your own safety and the safety of your children is of course the right thing to do (though that might not include divorce). Yes, sometimes divorce is unavoidable, and we do not want our brothers and sisters walking around with their heads hanging low in shame because they could not save their marriage. There are some things that are out of our control. There is also grace and forgiveness. Still divorce is never something to be celebrated. So why do so many Christians approach it with such flippancy?

Here’s the thing…we live in a fallen world where people are exceedingly sinful and selfish. We all struggle with our sin nature. Sin is built upon notions of self-love, selfishness and self-pleasing. We build our dreams on the concept of entitlement. So we see record number of divorces happening all the time for reasons that do not match with God’s Word. Most of the time these are not people who are being abused or cheated on. They are simply unhappy. They have lost affection for their spouse. They argue and refuse give. They don’t feel their needs are being met. Christians who choose divorce without Biblical cause will often make light of it to make themselves feel better. We hear comments like:

I’m finally free to follow my own dreams.”

“Let’s throw a divorce party!”

“Yeah we both decided we would be happier as friends.”

“I deserve to be happy.”

“Me being happy will make my kids happy.”

“It all turned out for the best.”

“I just know God is cool with my divorce.”

This is the world talking. This is not the attitude of a person in sync with the heart of the Author of marriage. Marriage isn’t all about your happiness. It isn’t about what you deserve. Happiness doesn’t come from chasing dreams, but rather from chasing after God. No, the kids will not be happy if they are pulled away from a good and loving parent just because you will feel better. No, God is not happy with your divorce. He’s NEVER happy with divorce. He allows it for adultery, and He frees believers from marriage if their unbelieving spouse walks away, but He never rejoices in divorce. He’s never “ok” with it. It breaks His heart.

Christians need to stop making light of divorce. We need to stop making jokes about it. We need to be fighting for marriage and speaking the truth in love. We need to be encouraging people to try harder and praying for them. We need to disciple husbands and wives. When we have friends who are divorcing, we need to offer them support and love and take it seriously. There is grace. There is forgiveness. We need to love and care for those who had no choice but to divorce, and we need to do it with the seriousness that it deserves. It’s not a joke.

Divorce is a sad part of living in this fallen world. God doesn’t find it funny, and neither should we.

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Admonish One Another

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“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Proverbs 27:5-6

There is a lot of confusion these days about the function and design and purpose of the church. Let me clarify that when I use the word “church”, I am not referring to a building. We are the church. You and me. The church is the brethren of believers that are scattered here and there, meeting in fellowships nearby and around the world. So when I talk about the church here, I’m talking about God’s people. The Church of the Way, as it was called in early church history.

The Church has many functions, as described by the New Testament books. Yet, it seems we have all but abandoned certain aspects of, what the Word of God said, were important roles and responsibilities towards each other. You see, we are called to love one another, to build relationships, and to allow the Lord to knit us together into a beautiful woven, open and welcoming community. We are called into closeness and family…not Sunday morning smiles and empty greetings. We are called to something deeper and more real. Real church.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,  bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:12-17, ESV

We are God’s chosen ones, and therefore we are called into a certain type of relationship with each other. Let’s make a list of some of the aspects of this calling as stated here in this chapter of Colossians:

  1. Compassion
  2. Kindness
  3. Humility
  4. Meekness
  5. Patience
  6. Bearing One Another’s Burdens
  7. Forgiving
  8. Loving
  9. Peaceful
  10. Thankful
  11. Teaching
  12. Admonishing
  13. Praising God Together

This is a great list, and we could do a study about each of these aspects, but today I want to focus on the one word on this list that people seem to really shy away from in the church: admonishment. Throughout the New Testament we see admonishment and yet in the modern church we rarely see it. I believe there are a few reasons for that: 1. People don’t often build the type of relationships in which it’s appropriate; 2. Many churches don’t make this Biblical practice a part of their culture and therefore people just don’t understand the importance and benefits; 3. Many churches are all about getting people in the door and less about the spiritual growth of the congregation; 4. People are not used to being confronted about their sin; and 5. People are unwilling to move past their comfort zone into all that God has for them.

Admonishment is not a bad word when you understand the meaning, purpose and benefits. The word “admonish” doesn’t mean to discipline someone. The actual translation is more like “a warning”. In other words, when you admonish someone you are warning them about sin they may not see and/or the possible consequences of that sin. It is not a harsh spiritual lashing, but a loving warning from a friend…an encouragement to turn away from a sin that is detrimental and in order to grow spiritually.

The benefits of admonishment are beautiful. When my husband and I first got married and lived in Scotland, we were part of a church that truly believed in discipleship and New Testament relationship. My pastor’s wife, a wonderful sister who encouraged me in so many ways, admonished me at times in my walk and in my marriage. While no one’s pride enjoys their sin being brought to life, I was open to her warnings and they ultimately brought me into a deeper relationship with God, a much better marriage and a more full church life experience. We are called to admonish one another for the sake of edification.  The scripture is full of examples and instruction in this way.

“I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.  Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.” Acts 20:29-31

“I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.” 1 Corinthians 4:14

“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you…” 1 Thess. 5:12

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Galatians 6:1

“Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” 2 Thess.3:15

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” Proverbs 19:20

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:2

 

In order to build a community and a culture in which admonishment is  a normal part of life, we need to build close relationships. I know that as a believer I want my closest friendships in the body to be with others who want all of what God has for us. Therefore I want to build up relationships where speaking the truth in the love (even admonishment) is welcome and expected. We have to build relationships for this to happen. Admonishing someone you barely know is not always wise or expedient. We don’t run around warning everyone of their sin. This is an aspect of the church family that is found in close knit relationships, where iron sharpens iron (usually making a spark) and where the entire relationship is covered in love, prayer and truth.

Pray about it brethren. Pray about building relationships within the church family that are strong enough to be real with one another. Walking in love and unity, take on the call to admonish, confess, edify and help one another grow up into spiritual maturity. It’s what God wants. We know that from the scripture. We need this blessed benefit of the church family in our lives. We certainly do.

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War on Lyme

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