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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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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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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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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An Emotional Affair to Remember….or Forget

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“We didn’t do anything so it’s no big deal.”

“It was never physical.”

“It’s not cheating if it’s just a crush.”

“There’s nothing wrong with looking if there’s no touching.”

.…..lies…lies…more lies.

Christians and non-Christians alike will almost always universally agree that committing a physical act of adultery is wrong. Cheating on one’s spouse is not acceptable in most social circles, and yet there seems to be this false line of thinking that deems it okay to have an emotional “fling” with someone other than one’s spouse. As Christians we know this isn’t right. Jesus set the boundaries in place when He said this:

“But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28

No, it’s not okay to have a crush. It’s not okay to fantasize about someone other than your husband (or wife). It’s not okay to look. Jesus said those who follow Him will not look with lustful eyes. It may be in the heart but the consequences usually leave the heart and become much more “real”. We see it in the world. We sense it in the church. Oftentimes the internal, invisible evidences of an emotional affair allow it to go unnoticed for a long time, but not forever. A person can keep an emotional affair well-hidden from their brothers and sisters in the Lord, and even from their spouse for a long while. Then, in what seems like a sudden tragedy, the dam bursts open and sin floods into families, homes and the church.

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” James 1:14-15

Sin begins in the heart folks. It begins in the deep, recesses of the heart where desire and longing simmer until they start to boil over. It becomes a stronghold for the enemy. It is adultery of the heart and it is sin. Make no mistake about it.

While statistics show men are usually more likely to commit physical adultery, women tend to be more prone to affairs of the heart. Call it what you will: a crush, attraction, a connection, a very close friendship taken too far, a fantasy….women who may feel less than fulfilled or satisfied at home may find their hearts straying, even if they are physically faithful to their husbands. It can start with a few flirting smiles, confiding in someone who seems more attentive and interested than the husband, or even just a strong attraction that leads you to fantasizing about being intimately acquainted with that person. It can start out so innocently and end up so tragically.

Guilty as Charged

It may sound like I’m being harsh. Well, there’s a reason. You see, I had an emotional affair once. Yes, I committed adultery of the heart, and it led me through a time of greater pain than I can even express. I can tell you that this sinful desire of the heart and strong emotions for a man that was not my husband brought me to a place of devastation as a Christian, a wife, a mother and in my calling in ministry. No, it never was physical. Yes, it was sin. Wicked, depraved, selfish, disgusting sin. As I look back, I see that the sin started in my heart but it seemed to build and build until I began to manifest it in other sinful actions. I began to become the “old” me…the person who had been freed from the chains of sin when I accepted Christ. While I loved my husband and my family, I found myself pushing them away. I saw myself changing into someone I barely knew. My desires overtook me and I fell back into the miry pit I had escaped by the grace of God so long ago.

No, it never was physical. It was adultery of the heart and it broke me and my husband. Praise be to God that He pulled me out again. He brought me to forgiveness. He empowered my husband to forgive me fully. I repented and was granted grace and mercy unspeakable! I am SO grateful! So thankful for this amazing grace. I praise my God with all that is in me that my family was not destroyed. God restored us to fullness and we are stronger now in Him than ever before. He has done amazing work here and has overcome in our hearts, our lives and our marriage. Hallelujah!

I want to make it clear, since this is a sensitive and personal issue, that my husband is a wonderful man whom I love dearly. I want to honor him, because he stuck by my side and forgave me for my offense against him. It killed me to see how much I had hurt him. I never wanted to hurt him, but sin hurts people. It hurts us and those around us. My husband is an amazing man and I just want to say here that I will never, ever stop thanking God for him and how he has forgiven and loved me!

A Warning

When I think of all I could have lost, it leaves me breathless. My husband could have chosen not to forgive me. My daughter could have experienced the pain of divorce that so many children go through. We could have destroyed our testimony forever and been unfit to minister. Oh, I shudder to think what might have happened because my heart allowed sin to enter in. God has been so good to us and so now I warn my sisters in the Lord not to allow emotional adultery into your heart. Flee from it with every fiber of strength! It is not innocent! It is not okay! It will destroy you like sin does!

I want to warn and admonish you, my sisters, to use caution and boundaries in your relationships outside of marriage. Here are a few ideas to consider:

  1. Be cautious about building close friendships with men who are not your husband. You may think there’s nothing wrong with men and women being “best friends”, but the truth is that best friends share confidences and intimate details about their lives, and this can build feelings that you didn’t anticipate. Don’t confide in other men. Confide in your husband, your God and in Christian women you respect.
  2. Take sinful thoughts captive. When a thought enters your mind and heart that causes you to feel lustful or feelings of a romantic sort, immediately go to God for help. Cry out and ask God to help you capture and remove those thoughts and feelings. Read scripture. Sing worship. Talk to the Father. He will help you. If you need to, call a friend. Don’t allow those thoughts to simmer.
  3. Sometimes we need to break off unhealthy relationships. If you have a friend in your life that you find yourself attracted to, physically, emotionally or spiritually, it is sometimes necessary to stop seeing that person. You don’t have to be cruel about it. You don’t even have to tell them why. Your marriage and your walk with the Lord are more important. Be wise and be committed.
  4. Set up good boundaries. Make your own rules about what you should or shouldn’t do. For example, make a rule about not being alone in a private place with a man. Don’t confide your private feelings or emotions with a man other than your husband. Pray about it and make your own set of boundaries, and discuss them with your husband. It’d be wise for him to do the same.
  5. Don’t justify your sin. If you are having an emotional affair, a crush, or whatever you want to call it, don’t justify it. It’s sin. The Bible says it’s sin. Stop putting the words “innocent” and “crush” together. There’s no such thing for a married woman. You are cheating on your husband and it is sin in the eyes of the Lord. You need to repent and turn.
  6. Seek discipleship if this is an ongoing problem for you. If you are finding your heart straying often and you feel out of control, seek the counsel of a mature woman in the Lord who can disciple you in marriage and in what the Word says about matters of the heart. As you grow in the Lord, you will be more able to withstand and flee from these temptations.
  7. Work on your marriage. Let’s face it, if you’re having an emotional affair it’s likely that your marriage isn’t going well. Marriage is hard. It takes work and commitment. I’m married to the most wonderful, God-fearing man and yet we had problems. Thanks to God we were able to work through our issues and have grown tremendously in love and respect for one another. God has worked mightily in our marriage and we are happy. If you are struggling with an emotional longing for something else, what you really need to do is focus your heart on strengthening your marriage. Get help through your church if need be.
  8. If you are in a very bad marriage, where you are being mistreated and unloved, I understand complete why your heart would wander. My husband treats me wonderfully, but my parents had an awful marriage that ended in divorce. I’ve seen how hard marriage to an unloving and even abusive man can be. I want to encourage you that just because your husband is not treating you like he ought to or loving you the way you deserve doesn’t give you the right to have an emotional affair with someone else. I’m not saying this flippantly. I know it’s hard, but as long as you are married, having thoughts of intimacy or romantic love for another man is adultery of the heart, and God sees it as sin. It’s not ok. Seek help dear sister and be encouraged that God can work miracles.

I had an emotional affair. It was painful and horrific. It was sin that I have since repented of and been forgiven for. My incredible husband has shown me grace and love that is beyond what I could have hoped for and I am committed to never again betraying him or my Lord Jesus in this manner. I learned my lesson the hard way. I saw first hand the destruction that sins of the heart can bring. So now I have boundaries. Now I take my thoughts captive. Now I am willing not to have close relationships with people who may tempt me to stumble. What about you? How committed are you to your marriage? Your God? Your children?

Emotional adultery is sin. Repent. Flee.

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I Want More

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via photopin (license)

What can I say? I want more. I’m not content with average….mediocre…just ok. I want more than what I’ve had. I want more than what I’ve experienced. I want more than what I’m able to achieve myself. I want more than what society will think is necessary. I want more and I’m going for it. I want more of Jesus.

 

I want more Jesus. I want to have Him constantly on my mind and in my heart. I want to be speaking to Him, sometimes loudly and sometimes in gentle whispers, but always all throughout my day in unceasing prayer. I want Him to be the first one I think about in the morning and the last goodnight. I want Him to be so much a part of my day that I never feel apart from Him. I want more.

 

I want more of the Father’s heart in my life. I want to love more deeply. I want to serve more selflessly. I want to pour more of myself into those He puts before me. I want to be more willing to cast aside my own selfish desires and thoughts. I want to be more of a witness to His glory, His love and His mercy. I want more grace to flow from Him, through me and spilling out into the world around me. I want more.

 

I want more of the Holy Spirit in my life. I want to faithfully use the gifts of the Spirit more as God gives. I want more discernment, more wisdom, more direction, more conviction, more comfort and more understanding. I want more….as much as the Holy Spirit desires to give, I want. I want more.

 

I want more of the church. I want more reality in the church. I want more purpose in the church. I want more teaching, admonishing, encouraging, edification, truth and above all LOVE in the church. I want to give more to the church and I want to be more actively functioning in the church. I want to see the church more alive and on fire than ever before. I want more revival. More gospel. More baptism. More movement of the Spirit. I want more solid doctrine. I want more courage, boldness and love. Yes, I said LOVE again because I want more LOVE in the church. “Faith, hope and love; these three remain, but the greatest is LOVE.” 1 Cor. 13:13

 

Oh Lord, this world wants more of me. It wants all of me. It pulls at me. The enemy wants to bury me in more of myself, self-love, selfishness, self-pity. No. I want more of Jesus. The answer to everything is more of Jesus. I’m not settling for less. I want more…as much as You will give me. I’m ready for more.

 

Thank You Lord that You give freely and abundantly of Yourself when we are ready to ask for more!

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Heart of a Mother

A mother loves.

She loves in good times and bad.

She loves without reserve.

She loves big and deep and wide.

She loves when it’s not returned.

She loves unconditionally.

A mother serves.

She serves til it hurts.

She serves when everyone stops.

She serves with self-sacrifice.

She serves without recognition or reward.

A mother edifies.

She builds them up.

She encourages them in their dreams.

She reminds them of their worth.

She is their number one fan.

A mother cares.

She cares for their needs.

She mends their wounds.

She comforts their hearts.

She sings over them with joy.

A mother prays.

She prays for their future.

She prays for their hurts.

She prays for them to love Him.

She prays for them to soar.

She speaks blessings over them.

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A mother is joy.

She brings light and love.

She holds their hearts.

She is the keeper of memories.

She is a blessing.

By birth, adoption or in loving bonds

Motherhood comes in many ways

And each is special.

Honoring mothers today

For all you do and all you are.

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To Help You Understand My Chronic Pain

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HeartBroken-Tears are the Baptism of Soul via photopin (license)

“I feel terrible.”

“I know.”

“You do? Do you really?”

There are some things in life that one must experience to fully understand. Infertility. Rape. Depression. Losing a child. Being abused. You see, we can look at situations and people and have a deep concern, empathy and heartbreak for them. We can see people suffering and try to imagine how awful it would be to experience such tragedies, and yet we can’t fully understand their pain unless we’ve walked in those shoes. For the person in pain and suffering, there is a deep desire for others, especially loved ones, to understand what we’re going through, and yet we wouldn’t hope for anyone to really have to struggle as we do.

My husband recently told me that he wished he could have my pain for a day so that he could better understand. It was a thoughtful thing to say. He makes every effort to understand and I appreciate that. So in honor of his desire to see more clearly what I am dealing with, I’m going to give as truthful an account as possible in hopes that understanding will grow, helping people to minister better to those who suffer with chronic pain.

I don’t like talking about my pain. I am very much the type of person who wants to make people happy and be cheerful and put on a brave face, but too much pretense weaves around ourselves something of a lonely cocoon. If no one knows we are hurting, then we suffer alone. There is no one to talk to or to pray for you. Since chronic pain is often felt but not seen, you are expected to function the way you look on the outside. It’s exhausting. So, I’m going to be honest and my prayer is that this helps others like me and the people who love them.

1, My Diagnosis – Everyone’s pain is different, and there are a variety of causes for chronic pain. To this day, after seeing many specialists and doctors, I am technically diagnosed with fibromyalgia, though I feel confident that there is more to it. Being somewhat “undiagnosed” means I am constantly searching for answers. It means I don’t know what to expect. It means there really is no treatment. I often feel like I’ve no where to turn for help and that going to the doctor is a waste of time. It’s scary and frustrating. I am not really being treated for fibro, though my doctor does ask about my pain on regular visits. I’m not on medication.

  1. My Pain – I go through flare-ups of pain and various symptoms on a cyclical basis. I’m not trying to whine or complain here, but I am going to share some of the pain I experience either on a daily or cyclical basis. Joint pain is top of the list. I always have pain in my shoulders, neck and upper back, as well as various tender points. The pain flares up and those flare ups can last a long time. Right now I’m dealing with one that has lasted about 6 weeks. The pain right now is also in most of my other joints. I have arthritic pain in my fingers, hands, feet, back, knees, etc. I suffer headaches, brain fog and strange sensations. I have had gastrointestinal problems for several years resulting in chronic gastritis (inflammation of stomach lining). I have to be cautious about my diet to avoid horrible stomach pain. I also have very bad reflux. The fatigue can be severe. I get dizzy often. There are times when my pain is so severe that I can barely move. It is worse in the mornings. It wakes me up early because I can’t lay down any longer. This all began around the time I turned 30…so around 4 years now.
  1. Invisible Illness – People with chronic pain understand something that others don’t….just because I look okay doesn’t mean I am ok. There are days when my condition overwhelms me and I wonder how I can make it through the day, yet I can’t slow down. I can’t stop. I have to work, clean and keep up with my responsibilities as if I were healthy. I just know there are people sitting at home collecting disability who suffer less than I do on a regular basis. My disease is invisible to the human eye. As a result, it feels as though the whole world is expecting you to just keep at it. It feels as if no one believes you are hurting and they can’t possibly understand how much.
  1. Feeling Like a Failure – While I am struggling to keep up with my responsibilities, I also know I’m failing quite a bit. I can’t keep up the house like I’d like to or do as much as I want to do. My husband has to help me around the house more than I’d like. I need to say no sometimes to various ministry opportunities and events. I just can’t do it all. I struggle with feeling like a failure as a mother and wife. I know the enemy uses these things to feed lies to me, and so I cling to the Word of God that He will work all of this together for good. I trust Him that He will carry me when I can’t go another step.
  1. Emotional Side Effects – If you think the physical pain is the only part of it, you’re missing something. The emotional suffering is also very much a struggle. You see, there is something emotionally devastating about chronic illness. Each morning, day after day, I wake up to pain. I struggle through pain, and other symptoms, throughout the day. I go to sleep in pain. It’s constant. It goes on and on and on and there is no cure. I can expect to be in pain for the rest of my life, though I do pray for healing according to the Lord’s will and timing. Imagine how awful it feels to be sick and then go on to imagine that sickness is going to be your life for the rest of your days. Imagine never having a day where you feel perfectly well again. It’s heartbreaking, frustrating and so very sad. If not for the blessed assurance I have in Jesus, I’d feel so lost. I don’t know how people survive this pain without Him.

This may seem like a bit of a downer, but I really felt compelled to tell the truth here about what it’s like to live with chronic pain. I know that my husband longs to understand it better, and maybe you have a loved one suffering with pain. Your loved one needs you to acknowledge the struggle and believe in what he/she is dealing with. You know, it’s easy to minister to and care for a person who is suffering with a short term illness. You help out and then she gets better. A person with chronic illness is a whole other deal. This person will need your understanding, love and support probably forever. It’s hard. It’s a big job. So blessed that there are people out there who love God enough to love His people even in these long-term illnesses.

If you are married to someone with chronic pain, I know you are suffering too. It’s hard to watch your spouse hurt and not be able to fix it. I encourage you to be understanding and supportive. You will have to help pick up the slack around the house and help take care of your beloved. You will have to understand when he/she can’t keep up or must decline an activity. You will have to be there to hold things together when his/her world seems to be falling apart. Hang in there and trust the Lord.

As I write this, I am aware that publishing it is going to make me look weak and that it exposes to others something that I’ve tried to keep hidden. You see, I don’t want to be known as the lady who’s always sick. On the other hand, I need support too. I need friends who pray for me. I need help from time to time when it gets bad. My husband needs to understand, and my guess is that other spouses need this too. While it all seems pretty disheartening, please know that it is the hope and grace of Jesus Christ that keeps me going. I know God has not forsaken me and that He will get me through. I believe He has a purpose for allowing it. I do pray for healing and trust Him. I’ll never give up hope. I’ll never stop praising my Lord. He gives me strength day by day to endure this thorn in my flesh. I pray that all who suffer with chronic pain and illness would know that hope and love of Jesus. We need Him to get through this.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I’m happy to answer questions and I’d love to hear your stories too. God be glorified and may He bless you abundantly!

* * * Added: have asked me if I take anything for pain. I wanted to share that I am taking Plexus products for pain, better health and weight loss. I am noticing that my flare ups seem to be less intense most of the time. The longer I’m on it, the better I feel overall. I’m not saying this to sell it, but because I believe it is helping people. If you’d like to know more about Plexus, let me know. You can also check my website… Radiant Health

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