Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

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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I Resolve Not to Put God in a Box

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Resolutions. Plans. Goals. Commitments. New Year tends to bring us all to a place of reflection and re-calculation. We evaluate what we’ve disliked in the year(s) past and we vow to make positive changes. We resolve to conquer what we deem as personal failures and we make plans to correct those failures and/or add something new to our lifestyle. The problem with so many resolutions is that they are anything but resolute. They are hardly the solid, unbreakable self-contract that the word “resolve” describes. Most are over within a few months, weeks or days. That’s why so many people make a joke of it.

I don’t like failure. I’ve never been good at accepting my own mediocrity or weakness. If I don’t do something well right from the start, I usually want to quit pretty quickly. Therefore, with a great sense of commitment, I resolve to make only one resolution this year and it’ll be easy to keep because it really has little to do with me. Here it is…

I resolve not to put God in a box. I resolve not to project limits on His power and ability that simply don’t exist. I resolve not to expect Him to do things the way I perceive that He should, and to be open to leading of the Holy Spirit. I want to be more in touch with what He’s doing, even if it has nothing to do with my own plans. After all, His ways are far above my ways.

We believe God’s Word, don’t we? If we believe His Word, then we serve a God who created the heights and vastness of the universe with a spoken word. We believe He created everything we see and even us. We believe in His power to flood the world, deliver Israel from the hands of Egypt by parting the Red Sea, keep His servants from burning a fire, heal the sick and give sight to the blind, and die and rise again to glory. If we believe His Word, we believe that He sent His Holy Spirit, giving His children His power in spiritual gifts, opened prison doors and did many other signs and wonders. We believe it, don’t we?

If this is the God we believe in, what gives us the right to put Him in a box? Why do we claim to believe He has the power to deliver us from our troubles, use us to the reach the lost, empower us to minister to His people, give children to the barren and heal broken families? How can we believe in our minds and yet our hearts seem to grow more skeptical by the year? Want my theory?

We’ve felt let down. We’ve experienced loss. We’ve prayed for miracles and at times have not seen God work in the way we expected. There is pain and suffering, and we pray without feeling that assurance that He will really work in the situation. We put Him in a box and we go about our lives not expecting Him to burst out.

I confess that this has been me many times. I have prayed for healing and grown to doubt that God will ever answer that prayer. I have prayed for others without expecting it to do any good. I have asked God for wisdom but then not waited for wisdom to come. I have decided that anything outside of the box must not be God’s work and so I go on living as if I serve a God with no power…or that He has power but won’t use it on my behalf. I have allowed my wicked heart to deceive me so many times, trusting it’s disillusions more than I trust the promises of God. I’m ashamed of this weakness, and I’m not entirely free of it.

I don’t know what to expect for 2015. I don’t know what’s coming. I know God’s Word is true and that His ways are perfect. I know that my bad decisions have brought me pain and that God will work good through them. I understand that pain is part of this life, but I don’t know whether or not God will continue to allow such testing in our lives, or if a time of rest and comfort is coming. What I do know is that God is all-powerful, all-mighty, unparalleled and unfailing in His love and grace towards us. He cannot be contained in a box. He will do what He wills to do, and I know that I need to stop second-guessing Him, doubting Him and giving up on Him in my heart. I need to place this coming year in His capable hands and hang on for the ride, where ever it may take us.

I resolve not to put God in a box. I resolve to be open to whatever He wants to do and to trust that what He’s doing (or not doing) is right and good and perfect. I need to expect Him to work and move, because that’s what He does. If I want to be a part of it, I need to have my eyes open to the bigness and greatness of God. I lost sight of this. I failed. My New Year Resolution is to rip that box to shreds and be ready for what God’s going to do this year. I know big things are coming.

May your year be full of the unexpected and surprising bigness of God. May He fill us all with wonder as He works mightily in glory. May He bless you and keep you and cause His face to shine upon you and give you grace! God bless 2015!

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How Will My Daughter Remember Me?

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The human brain is a funny thing. Sometimes mine works well and other times not so much. I’ve learned to accept that and just laugh at myself when my brain decides to malfunction. When it comes to memories, I have very little memory of my young childhood. I’d say most of what occurred in my home before the age of ten is something of a mystery to me. I have flashes of memories, but not much detail. My younger brother, however, has a very good memory and he can tell stories of his young childhood with vivid detail. Interesting how the brain works.

I may not remember much of my childhood, but I’d say I’m more on the uncommon end of the spectrum in this. Most children have memories from much younger than ten years old. The truth is, children remember what they see going on around them. They form memories and impressions very early in life. They are taking it all in visually and aurally much earlier than most of us realize. They are forming memories and associations with those memories perhaps even before they know how to express what they are seeing/hearing/feeling.

So why is this important?

I’ll confess that there have been times I’ve been very convicted about the way I spoke or an action I did in front of my young daughter when she was three, four or five years old. In times of weakness and in the flesh, I’ve made comments to others that were hurtful or even sinful with her in the room and I’ve very foolishly assumed she wasn’t paying attention because she was playing or because she was too young to understand what I was saying. I’ve criticized my husband in her presence. I’ve gossiped. I’ve flippantly made comments that were just silly and unedifying. She has heard me say these things, and though she perhaps hasn’t responded or reacted in that moment, she has taken some of it in. She has formed memories and connections based on my sinful words.

Now before you get all bent out of shape or start judging me, understand that I have repented of this sin and am forgiven. I thank God that we can be real and honest and open about our struggles with the flesh and with sin. 1 John 1:8 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” I thank Him even more than we are saved by grace through faith and not by works. I have no problem confessing this sin because I know that God has offered me forgiveness for all of my transgressions, but why bring it up?

“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deut 6:7

God tells us that we are to teach our children something here. What is it we are supposed to teach them? The answer is in the context.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Deut 6:4-5

Our God is one Lord and that we shall love the Lord God with every part of our being. That’s what we are supposed to be teaching our children, but notice what God says about how we are supposed to teach them this. Do we teach it by simply reading this scripture and then going about our life in any manner we like? Nope. We are supposed to teach them by talking about the Lord in our homes, when we are out, when we lie down, when we rise up….basically we teach our children to love the Lord by talking about Him and loving Him ourselves at all times.

That’s pretty convicting. We need to remember that our children are always listening and watching. They may hear us proclaim Christ when we are in a good mood and things are going well. They see us smile and shout “amen” at church. They may even see us read the Bible from time to time. Is this sufficient? I’m convicted that the words of my mouth should always be glorifying to the Lord, and that while I speak and act out of love for Jesus, my daughter is learning how to love Him herself. Nothing is more important. Nothing.

Knowing the calling God has on me in this, and knowing what a failure I am in this way, I ask the Lord for Holy Spirit power to reign in my tongue and to make my speech and actions a constant reflection of my love for Jesus. I pray that the flesh would be triumphed over by the grace of God and His Spirit working in me. I pray most of all that my daughter would not remember a mother who only loved the Lord in some parts of her life, but rather a mother who was sold out for Jesus every day. I hope she remembers that, when I failed, I confessed and repented. I didn’t pretend to be perfect, but rather understood God’s grace in my life, thus compelling me to seek Him more.

Children remember what they see and hear from very young. Their young hearts are being molded even now. The things we say and do matter to them. While I may never be perfect on this earth, I pray that my daughter will remember me as someone who genuinely and deeply loved the Lord with all of my heart, soul and might and that she will love Him all the days of her life.

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Giving Thanks When it Doesn’t Go Your Way

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“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18

It’s easy to give thanks when the weather is perfect, the bills are paid, the kids are behaving like little angels and you never, EVER get jury summons. No problem! Giving thanks is a piece of cake in these times! For some of us, life doesn’t ever seem to be like this, and certainly there are times in our lives when we all go through hardship and pain. Yet, Thanksgiving is upon us! We are called to give thanks to the Lord in ALL circumstances, amen?

Every year on Thanksgiving we head over to my mother’s house to meet up with my family. Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents all come bringing yummy food and desserts to share. We laugh. We eat. We talk about why we are thankful. We eat. We sometimes sing and play games. We eat more. Basically, we eat and have a great time. It’s something we all look forward to each year…..well, not this year.

You see this year sickness decided to attack just before Thanksgiving. My sweet daughter came down with croup almost a week ago. While she seems much better now, and probably no longer contagious, we are concerned about the risks involved of going because we have a precious nephew with a compromised immune system. One little cold can land him in the hospital for months. So it’s important not to bring germs around him.

With these things in mind, we decided we would stay home for the holidays…just the three of us. I say that with the utmost of affection for our little family unit. I adore my family. Still, there’s something a little sad about knowing you are missing out on the traditional fun. So I could wake up tomorrow and mope, as I pop our little 18 lb turkey in the oven. We could lay around and zone out. We could complain and moan all day, presenting a stellar example for our little sponge of a daughter, but I say NO!

No, we won’t moan and complain. We won’t wear our frowns all day. We are going to have a great time. We will start some new traditions, do worship, play games, talk about how the Lord has blessed us, and there will be food! Oh yes, there will be food! God has told us to give thanks in all circumstances, so we are going to enjoy His blessings and give thanks no matter where we are or what we do!

I pray that whatever you do and however you celebrate tomorrow, that you remember to give thanks to the Lord. He has given His Son to die on the cross for our sins. He has redeemed us! If you have a home, He has provided for that need. If you have food in your bellies, He has given you nourishment. If you have love, thank Him for that love. He has blessed you richly.

Thank You Jesus for all You have done, are doing and will do! We bless Your name and give thanks to You from the depths of our hearts!

 

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Three Ways to Combat Division in Marriage

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“So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:6

When God said that nothing should separate a husband and wife, He did it for a reason. He knew that the world would present ample devices for creating a wedge between a man and his wife and that it was important to be aware. These devices come in many forms. Sometimes it is people from the outside, the girl making eyes at your husband at the workplace or your best friend who tries to encourage you to talk bad about your husband behind his back. Maybe it’s a family member who is always stirring up trouble and planting seeds of contention in your marriage. The devices could be idols in your life such as an over-indulgence or an unhealthy focus on television, sports, hobbies (especially those hobbies that require money), or even ministry. Division can come from our own selfishness or self-focus. There are many tools that the world, and the enemy of our souls, uses to try and divide a husband and wife. The following are just three of the ways you can combat division in marriage and keep your home in peace and unity:

1. Communicate Freely

Whether it’s Christian-based counseling or secular counsel, most people agree that communication is key in marriage. The fact is, when it comes to combating division, the most successful weapon is communication. Now, this tends to come easier to us than to the men. We ladies are usually talkers. We are more than happy to discuss our day, our feelings, our dreams and our concerns. We could discuss them all day! Men, on the other hand, usually don’t need that kind of sharing on a daily basis. Still, it is so important that husband and wife communicate freely in order to stay united. What does that look like practically speaking? I don’t keep secrets from my husband and he doesn’t keep them from me. We do not withhold information from each other. If you want to share something with me, know that I won’t tell anyone else about what you share, except for my husband. We communicate freely about our concerns, our feelings, our challenges, our sin, our goals, our fears, etc. We communicate about those things that could bring division into our home so that we can deal with them. Most importantly, we communicate about the Word of God and what the Lord is doing in our hearts. We talk about His plans for us as a family. We pray together. We encourage each other as we talk about the ways of God. This communication shines a bright light that expels darkness and division from the home.

2. Make Tough Choices

Keeping a family united sometimes means making hard choices. Making those choices could cause hurt in other relationships, but it’s important to remember that the marriage and family relationships are top priority. If someone or something is coming between you and your husband, it must be dealt with. Sometimes it must be removed from the home. For example, if you and your husband argue often about a certain television show, then perhaps the best choice is to stop watching it altogether. That’s an easy one, of course. What if there is a certain friend who always seems to try to stir you up to anger against your husband? Once you have searched out your own behavior for issues where you may have encouraged the intrusion, and confessed, then it may be necessary to share with this friend, in love and gentleness, that this is becoming a problem and must stop. If the friend does not stop, it may be necessary at that point to stop that relationship. Sound extreme? What if it’s an extended family member? Same plan? You know, many marriages have crumbled and burned because of people from the outside bringing division. Sometimes it’s an obvious agenda and other times it is more subtle. Just remember that God said nothing should come between a man and wife. Nothing. No one. Nada. You may need to make some tough choices to purge your home and marriage of division and division-makers.

3. Be a Team.

Sounds easy enough, right? Just like with anything else, it’s easy until it’s not so easy anymore. Why is being a team important? When you are a team, you forfeit personal preferences and desires for the victory of the team as a whole. It’s no longer about what I want, but what we want. We are willing to compromise, to work together, to communicate freely and to give in for the good of the family. A team is united. Strong. Dedicated. A team member does not betray another member or defame his character, but rather lifts him up in encouragement and edification. Cheer for one another! Fight for one another! Stand with one another! That’s a team that will not be divided.

Your marriage is important. It is the most important ministry of your life. It is absolutely vital that you beware devices of division. Get rid of division. Make those hard choices. Be your husband’s best friend and teammate. Communicate freely and do not let the sun go down upon your anger. God will bless the home that stands united on the Rock, that is Jesus Christ. He will keep your home standing while others around you are blown away by the storms of life and the attacks of the devil. May the Lord who created marriage keep you united as one for as long as you both shall live.

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Too Much Talking in Discipline

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Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

I’ve always found it important to explain to my daughter why she is receiving a negative consequence for her bad behavior. What’s the point of disciplining her if she doesn’t realize why she is being punished and how this re-direction is going to benefit her? I want her to know what God’s Word says and how we are to walk in the world. I want her to someday be a shining example of a Godly young woman, who is respectful, kind and courageous. I guess I’m old-fashioned in the sense that I want her to learn to respect her elders and to season her words with honor.

Still, I recently studied this discipline technique where the instructor reminded me that sometimes explaining everything to a young child is ineffective and just frustrates the child. In other words, if the issue is pretty black and white, over-explaining it or trying to lecture a young child about what he or she has done wrong ends up creating more conflict and less learning. In this training session he gives examples of how one simple explanation is sufficient. If a child continues to try to debate the issue, it becomes unfruitful to go back and forth with him/her to try and get your point across. Simply enact the disciplinary measure and leave it there.

I found this to be interesting and true. Especially for young children, too much talking, or talking to them like they are little adults, can end up sounding more like a parent and a kid debating than a parent usurping authority in the situation. I see it in my own home. Say, for example, my daughter does not want to eat her dinner but wants an ice cream instead. I tell her that she cannot have dessert unless she eats her dinner. She starts throwing a fit because she doesn’t like my answer. Instead of simply disciplining the behavior, I continue to try and explain to her why eating ice cream instead of dinner is a bad choice, how I’m trying to look out for her health, why she needs to honor and obey me, etc. Meanwhile, my daughter’s hearing nothing because she’s in a full-blown hissy fit, whining, crying and throwing herself on the couch. See what I mean?

If the child knows what he or she is doing is wrong, they may not need any explanation, or a short one will suffice. Obviously there are a variety of circumstances in which a more thorough explanation is in order, but usually a quick, straightforward response is all that’s needed to answer a request and correct a misbehavior.

Now there’s one more part to this that wasn’t in the video I watched (it was a secular training course), but that to me makes a huge difference. We don’t need long explanations during a time of discipline because hopefully we are instructing our children before they get into trouble what is expected of them. In other words, teaching our children what the Word of God says about how we are to conduct ourselves, what our household rules are and what we expect of them is much easier and pleasant when we do it before everyone is frustrated. It should be done when everyone is happy and getting along. Then, when problems arise there is already a foundation there for most issues.

I’m finding this information to be useful in disciplining my four year-old. I hope it can be useful to you as well. May our children grow up to be God-loving and God-serving young men and women! 🙂 That’s my prayer.

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The Pain of a Parent’s Adultery

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“They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!” 2 Peter 2:14

The Day My Dad Left

I’ll never forget that day. It was a day that changed our lives in many ways. It was a fork in the road that led us all into the path of pain, poverty, fear, hopelessness and hatred. It was the day that what we had known, though not very pleasant either, would be ripped apart. When I say that he left, I actually mean the day he moved out. He had really left a long time before, but on that day – the day that it was discovered he had been committing adultery with my mom’s secretary – it was finally over. That’s the day my dad left. 

My parents never had a great marriage. My mother was a Christian, but my father wasn’t. The fighting, cursing, occasional violence….it was not uncommon. It was what we knew growing up. There were separations and then reconciliations. Rumors and suspicions of multiple affairs on my father’s side were always present, but there was never proof. Not until that day.

Now my intention in sharing this personal story is not just to tell a sad story, nor to seek to harm the reputation of anyone involved, but to shed some light on the pain and harm a parent’s adultery inflicts on his/her child. You see, too many people who commit adultery think they are only cheating on their spouse. I’m sorry, but that’s just not the case. When you cheat on your spouse, you are cheating on your children as well, and you are most certainly sinning against the Almighty God.

 Cheating on Your Kids Too

Adultery is one of the most selfish of all the sins, though I dare say sin in and of itself is always based on selfishness in some way. When a husband or wife commits adultery, he or she seeks self-gratification at the expense of the spouse and children. Knowing that this action will deeply wound and scar the hearts and minds of their children, they go forward. They please themselves. Their mouths may say that they love their children, but their actions show that they love themselves far more and don’t care about the well-being of their kids. They cheat on their family. How sad! It is a most selfish and abhorrent act. God hates adultery.

“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” Matthew 15:19

When my dad’s adultery was found out, he left and eventually married the woman, raising her children as his own. We realized later that, looking back, he had been fathering them for a while anyways. He coached her kids little league team. He never did those things for us. He was always a better stepfather than a father. At his funeral many years later, the person reading the story of his life, skipped from when he graduated from high school to when he married the woman. The twenty plus years that we were a family – my parent’s marriage, our births, our childhood – were deleted from his timeline. We were deleted. While he didn’t write it, he chose it. He chose to cheat on his wife and abandon his children.

There’s Healing in Jesus!

While this seems like a very sad story, I want to leave you with hope. It was 8 years from the time he left before I was willing to speak to my dad again. Even then, I had such bitterness and hatred in my heart for him and his wife. Every moment with them was torture. The Lord, however, did a magnificent work in my heart. Throughout the years I was able to forgive my father for the hurt he had caused us. Only a few years ago, he died of lung cancer. I can say with thanksgiving in my heart that I was able to hold his hand, tell him I loved him and say goodbye before he departed from this life. I have no regrets for anything I did, but only regret that I never had the father I should have had. 

Today I am so grateful to see my husband playing with our daughter. He loves her so much. He would die for her and he would never hurt us the way my father did. I praise God every day that my daughter has a mother and father who will not break our marriage vows. We will not cheat on each other or her. We will not file for a divorce no matter what the circumstances. We stand solidly on the Rock knowing that Jesus Christ is the center of our home. 

If you have experienced the pain of a parent’s adultery, you know very well the bitterness and scars it causes. My prayer for you is that you find total freedom from it all and the ability to forgive through the strength of the Holy Spirit. Forgiveness is so powerful. It’s freedom! Pray for those who have harmed you. Make yourself do it, even if you don’t want to. Ask for God’s help. He wants to bring you healing and wholeness.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

Repent of Adultery

If you have committed adultery, or are having an affair even now, repent! Repent for this sin and ask God to forgive you. Change your life. If you can win back the hearts of your spouse and children, make that the most important thing in your life. Love them more than yourself. That’s what God wants from you. God hates adultery.

Flee from Temptation

If you are considering committing adultery, I beg you to stop now before it’s too late. You are about to do something that will utterly destroy the lives of many, and that will cause a schism between you and God. Think of your spouse. Think of your children. Think of the tears they will cry and the heartache they will endure. Will you really put them through all of it for a moment of pleasure?

 Flee from temptation and sin! If it lingers at you workplace (as it did for my dad) quit your job and never go back. Find a new job. Your family is more important. If your spouse isn’t giving you the love and support you need, don’t go trying to find it elsewhere. Read the Word of God and keep the vows you made to God. That’s right! Those wedding vows you made were before God. Stop now before it’s too late and you have crushed the hearts of the people you are supposed to be loving and protecting. Please stop.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

Find Healing through Jesus

The adultery of a parent is painful indeed, but there is hope for the hurting in Jesus. If you don’t know Jesus Christ, you need Him. He wants to heal you, forgive you, know you personally and change your life. He wants to give you eternal life through His death and resurrection. Confess your sin and ask Jesus to forgive you and to come into your heart. He will answer your prayer with joy. If you are a Christian who is hurting, allow God into those wounded places in your heart. Ask Him to help you forgive. It won’t be easy, but it will be exceedingly worth it in the end. I have found peace through Jesus.

 

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Division – A Disease in the Church

There is a disease that makes its way through churches around the world, bringing pain, suffering, heartbreak and ugliness. It turns church families into splintered fragments and transforms friends into enemies. It causes people within the church to leave, and curious unbelievers to flee the other direction. It is not profitable, nor is it pleasing to the Lord God of the Bible. Strangely enough, it is often welcomed into the church as a sort of antidote, but the truth is this disease is a cunning tool of the enemy to attack God’s people. This disease is called Division.

 

Before you start writing your rebuttal comments, pray listen to all of what I’m sharing. I know that there are times when division is necessary, Biblical and just. I am not one to say we should overlook primary doctrinal falsehoods or ignore issues of ongoing sin within the church. Not at all. There is a time for division. The problem is, unnecessary division is running rampant in the church and it is causing God’s people to be unable to even recognize the kind of unity Jesus Christ wanted for us. We are missing out on that brethren! We are forfeiting one of His greatest gifts to His church and we are grieving the heart of the Father by attacking one another needlessly.

 

Jesus prayed in John 17:20-23….

 

“20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

 

Oh the loving heart of Jesus! How He loved and loves us…ALL OF US! God says that when a man and a woman are joined together in marriage, they become one flesh (both spiritually and physically). Well God has also knit His church together to become “perfectly one”. If a husband and wife divide it is called divorce, and we know God hates divorce. Division in the church amongst brothers and sisters is a type of divorce. We should be perfectly one, as our precious Savior prayed.

 

Division is Usually Wrong

 

“1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. 9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” Titus 3:1-11

 

Here is a breakdown of just some of the commandments God gives here. Now keep in mind that these are instructions from our Lord, so going against them is therefore sin.

 

1. Speak evil of no one. Wait…no one? That’s right. We are to speak evil of no human being. The original Greek word for “evil” is “blasphēmeō” which translates to “to speak reproachfully, rail at, revile, calumniate, blaspheme”. So we are not to speak evil of, speak reproachfully, rail at, revile, calumniate or blaspheme anyone. Ouch…I’m guilty. Repenting.

 

2. Avoid quarreling. Proverbs 20:3 says, “It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.” Again…guilty.

 

3. Avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Wow. So all of the controversies I have spent countless hours debating people over….they are worthless? Unprofitable? That’s what God says. Again, I’m convicted. Repenting. Lord change my heart! I ask here, what is foolish? We’ll get into that a bit later, but right off we can see that, unless God is contradicting Himself (which He is not) there are foolish reasons for division and there are necessary reasons. The necessary are those that pervert the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

4. Do not STIR UP DIVISION. I bolded that for emphasis. The word for divisive here is one that means “able to choose, causing division, factious, a follower of false doctrine, schismatic.” Interestingly, the root word is “hairetizō” which is to choose a sect. Basically this is a person who finds it easy and acceptable to choose a side, reject others, cause a schism in the body and essentially cause division. This person looks for occasions to stir up dissention and division. God says we are to be a people of unity, not division.

 

“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” 1 Corinthians 1:10

 

“Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:3-6

 

“But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls.” Luke 11:17

 

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” Psalm 133:1

 

“Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.” 1 John 2:9

 

“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.” Colossians 3:12-15

 

Who is the Church?

 

If division in the church is wrong, then who is the church? Who is my brother/sister? You may not like the answer. You may reject it, but remember that we are following God’s Word, not the logic of man. How does God say one becomes a saved, follower of Christ and a part of the church family?

 

Believes in Jesus! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

 

Confess Jesus! “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

 

If a man or woman believes in and confesses the Jesus Christ of the Bible (that He is God, born of a virgin, born to save the sons of man by His death and resurrection, etc), then he or she is saved. They receive salvation. The fruit of that new life salvation we see is repentance, good works, etc., but salvation was not earned by good works. They are merely the after effects and fruits of the free gift of salvation.

 

Does the Bible teach that a brother or sister in the Lord has to have all of their doctrine right to be counted as such? Absolutely not! In fact, we see instances in scripture, like in Romans, where God literally gives permission for there to be differences. One man eats meat and another does not, but they both do so in confidence unto the Lord. One esteems one day more than another and the other esteems them all the same, but do it as unto the Lord! Someone’s right ad someone’s wrong, but God says these things don’t matter. In the same way, divisions over minor issues in the church (predestination vs free will, styles of worship, gifts of the Spirit, etc) are wrong and evil in the sight of the Lord.

 

Be very careful my friends. Be very careful not to cast judgment based on your own logic. Be ever so careful not to call someone an unbeliever simply because you disagree with some of their doctrine. If that person has believed in and confessed Christ, he or she is saved and the bride of Christ. Christ does not take pleasure in His bride being attacked, bashed, despised, etc. He is a jealous God and He will deal with those who cause division and harm His bride.

 

Is there a reason for division? Sometimes.

 

There are sometimes needful divisions that occur. God is clear that we are not to embrace false teaching that perverts the gospel of Jesus Christ. If a pastor/teacher claims that Jesus Christ is not enough, and you need something more to be saved, that is something to come against and expose. Expose anyone who claims to be a Christian and denies the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, the all-sufficiency of Christ, the power of the triunity of God and the total forgiveness of sins by the washing of the blood of the Lamb. Reject teachings that we must change the gospel message or that we don’t need scripture. Also hold accountable those who have been given authority in the church. The scripture gives guidelines for how a pastor/elder must live.

 

Be Careful! Do not believe every rumor you hear!

 

“Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.” 1 Timothy 5:9

 

 

I share this message from God’s Word because I see the ugly disease of division and strife tearing through the church of God’s people. It’s no surprise. As we get closer to the end times, we expect it. Yet I am greatly disheartened by well know teachers, beloved friends and even myself, at times, seeing that we are so quick to cast out and tread down those who we find disagreement with. I encourage you brothers and sisters (and myself) to remember that, when it comes to minor issues of doctrinal difference, division is wrong. Do not speak evil but be graceful. Teachers, spend more time teaching God’s Word and less time pointing out where everyone else is doing it wrong. God’s Word is the truth that will set us free and inoculate us against bad teaching.

 

God is not pleased by those who stir up division, who delight in bringing down others or who hate under the masked disguise of “conviction”. Do not allow minor issues of doctrinal difference cause you to look at a brother or sister and see an unbeliever. You have no right to make that call. Only God knows the heart of that person. Pray. Be quiet. Love. Speak and live by truth. Focus on God’s Word. Focus on unity and peace within the church. Oh what a glorious light will shine forth, drawing the lost to the love of God! They will know us by our LOVE! And they will want it.

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