Dating the Church

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I have a confession to make. I  had a revelation this morning that, I have had no problem being single from the church, yet for some stupid reason I can hardly handle being single from men. When I had that revelation, it hit me pretty hard.

Let me back up and lay some ground work. Everything in the Bible corresponds with things that are happening in real life. There’s a parallel of sorts that takes place between the spiritual and the natural. We are a spirit, we possess a soul and we live in a body.

The spirit is the real you. The soul consists of our mind, will and emotions…this is the dangerous part of you and the part that gets us in the most trouble. Then, of course, there is the body, which is nothing more than a vessel carrying us through this life.

Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

1 Thessalonians 5:23, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

That being said, we are the body of Christ. But what happens when you divorce the church? I mean, I know there are those who will argue this point, but from personal experience, my personal relationship with God has always been intact. But I divorced  the body of believers. Oh, I dated around by visiting a few different churches for awhile, but nothing ever held my attention,  so I never joined.

Six years ago,  me and my husband of 18 years divorced. I was single for a year, and although I had great times, the single life just wasn’t for me. So I jumped into a marriage, a very toxic marriage at that. The thing is, that I never realized how toxic that marriage was until it ended 5 years later, just 4 months ago.

Ironically, I have attended and been married to some toxic churches as well. Being a part of a church where all the rules are man made and controlling, is much the same as being in an unequally yoked, controlling marriage. You never realize until you break free exactly how toxic either relationship has been.

I’ve also been in, for the most part, a great marriage, as I have been in some great churches.

So once the divorce from either a church or a marriage is underway, a lot of things happen. There is a lot of bitterness that presents itself, and you have to make the decision as to whether you are going to allow that person to control your emotions, or are you going to forgive and let go and move on.

Often times you become angry at yourself for being so blind and not seeing the signs.

The change in routine can be devastating to most. A lot of times when you leave a church, you lose most of your friends. When you divorce a spouse, you lose friends, but you also lose so much more. In both situations, you become lonely. The quest  to fill that void becomes almost an obsession for some. You start filling your time with  harmful things. I won’t even begin to list what those might be, everyone has their own ways of dealing with things, so you won’t find any judgment from me, but you know just as well as I do when you are in a downward spiral.

And so begins the process of trying to live again.

For single people, most enter into the modern world of dating…and let me tell you, it is a very ugly world out there. You will be mistreated, disrespected and made to feel cheap. Your self-worth will take a huge nose dive and you will continue until you hit rock bottom.

The thought of being lonely will drive people to do some crazy things that are totally out of character.

Eventually, you will have had enough and suddenly the bar will get raised. You will make mental lists of what you want. You will constantly edit that list with each new experience.

Some people want to jump right into a new church and will take the first one that the people seem to accept them rather than waiting patiently to see where God leads you. You may try out several before getting that feeling that this is “the one”.

Unfortunately, as mentioned above, I was fine with being single from the church. But the truth of the matter is that when you put God first in your life, everything else falls into place. Notice, I didn’t say it would be easy. The enemy will come in like a jealous ex-girlfriend and try to destroy everything about you. She is not happy and she sure doesn’t want you happy. But you have to stand firm. The bar is raised and that doesn’t just make it hard for potential mates to get over, it also means it is hard for you yourself to resist lowering  the standard on a whim or temptation.

I know what it is to abound in God’s grace. I know what it is to be loyal and faithful and to stand firm, even when I stand alone. I know what it is to enjoy all the benefits. I have seen some miraculous things in my life. There are over 32.000 promises in God’s word, and I have experienced them. I have lived in the promises of “houses I didn’t build and vinyards I didn’t plant”, I have seen God destroy those who rise against me. He even does it now…now that I am not living the perfect biblical life, now when I struggle with loneliness and  the desire to make a man happy. When I struggle because I want to love and nurture a man, the way I was created to.

The bible says that it is not good for man to be alone.

I have been married basically all of my life. The single life is not for me, but I won’t settle for less than what God has for me. I did this last time, and now, like Moses in the wilderness, I’m making another trip around that mountain.

Yes, I struggle…we all do, but God is faithful and He still uses me.  Before you judge me and tell me that God can’t use me because of my sin, remember this: David had an affair, Noah got drunk, Jonah ran from God, Paul was a murderer, Peter denied Christ…and the list goes on. God is no respecter of persons, if He used them mightily…even in their mess, He can and does use me mightily, and he’ll use you as well.

So realizing all of this, I have 2 very important goals to accomplish. The first is to find the right church that will push me to accomplish what God has for me to do. I have dreams, I’m going places. Some of it I know and some of it I don’t, but there are things that I am called to do and I will do them.

Secondly, I will find a respectful, spiritual leader who is like minded and headed down the same road as I am, that I can share my life with. I will not settle.

 

The church is a community. A body of believers that are supposed to be there to encourage and push you to the next level in every area of your life. Notice I didn’t say beat you into submission or to control you. The church community is needed. Everyone needs that “Iron sharpening Iron” friend.

I’m not even going to lie, I have basically no one I am close to who  I can be real with and who I can bounce the Word around with. That is something that I miss terribly. I lost that when I divorced the church and when I divorced my husband of 18 years. That is something that is vitally important to me.

One of my favorite verses is 3 John 2:

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

This verse for me sums up all of life. Several years ago I coined  the phrase “Soul Prosperity”, which by the way, I will have tattooed across my wrist. Put the stones down, it’s ok, I already have 2 tats, and yes I’m getting more…Anyway, Soul Prosperity is my battle cry and my prayer.

 

So with that, I must find a good church to date.

Speaking of dating.

 

When I was in junior high, I went to a private school and one of the teachers made a statement that stuck with me through all these years. He said, “Every date is a potential mate”

 

Today’s dating consists of hooking up when the mood strikes. Folks, believe it or not, that is not what I am looking for.

I mean some people only go to church on Easter and Christmas. Just as some people only pray when all hell breaks loose in their life. If that’s the case then all you are doing is looking to God as a friend with benefits.

Whatever happened to old fashioned dating or courting? Where is the commitment? Yes, you have to initially talk to people to find out if there is even a snowball’s chance in hell that you might possibly work out, but once you find that person that you click with, DATE him or her. That doesn’t even mean you are boyfriend/girlfriend. Show her respect show him respect but most of all, show yourself respect. Again…I’m working on it, but half the battle is knowing, the other half is doing. I mean, some of it can be modernized. Meet at a certain place, in public and do stuff together. Eat, play games, whatever, but show respect at all times. I’m going to just leave that right there, but you catch my drift. When you’ve dated for awhile and everything still looks promising, then take it to the next level and by that I mean the boyfriend/girlfriend level.

 

Well, I’ve got things to do now that I have raised the bar, set the standards and openly voiced my goals…

 

So let the dating begin…

Soul Ties

soul

Souls intertwined

From the very first time

I heard your voice,

I knew you were mine

 

Connected by chains

That won’t break away

Regardless of what life

Has laid in our way

 

Heavy hearts

Worlds apart

Still so close

I can’t let go

 

I’m under your spell

Weaved in a web

Of your heart and mine

From the very first time

 

Eyes have not seen

Lips  never kissed

Yet bruised by these chains

That won’t go away

 

You’re a part of me now

Deep in my soul

Bound by your love

I’ll never let go

 

Life Goes On

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Life goes on
Time marches past
The things that once were
Are the things that don’t last

Healing doesn’t take place in a day
Sometimes you cry,
Sometimes you pray

No one to blame
No scorn or shame
The circle of life
Leaves you insane

Joy in the morning
If morning will come
Plays on the night
Like a beatless drum

Watching and waiting
And taking the hits
Wondering where in life
Do I fit

Suddenly light
Shadows run
Dawn is out
On the horizon

The day is long
The day is sweet
On that day
You decide to move on

When Logic Goes on Vacation

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When logic goes on vacation
Ruled by emotions and fear
A one-sided combination
Of shackles  and disarray

Holding on to what once was,
Or at least what was perceived
Leaves you holding the bag
While all sanity flees

Failure, vulnerability, and insecurities
Steal the joy of the day
Searching for a thread of hope
To keep the turmoil at bay

Silently from deep within
A spark of hope ignites
A fire that once burned deep
That leads you to the light

Falling seven times
And getting up eight

Strength destroys the weakness

You thought could never leave

Life Lessons from a Cedar Tree

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The life of the cedar tree has so much to teach us.  There is such beauty, wonderful fragrance, and uses that this majestic tree provides. In fact, it is the most mentioned tree in the Bible…and for very good reason.

First, a few facts about the cedar tree

  • It is evergreen-it does not lose its foliage in the fall
  • They can reach over 100 feet tall and have a very large diameter
  • Lebanon Cedar was used for the construction of ships for Alexander the Great and for construction of King Solomon’s Temple
  • The fragrant oil extracted from the heartwood of the cedar was used during the mummification process in Ancient Egypt as well as a mosquito repellant by Native Americans
  • Because the oil does not develop in younger trees, the heartwood is subject to rotting, which in turn results in mature trees with hollow trunks, making natural homes for wildlife
  • The Lebanon Cedar is a symbol of tolerance and immortality
  • Cedars prefer moist soil which in turn also makes them live long as they are safer from fire

If you didn’t get anything from the few facts I shared, allow me to share my revelation.

The cedar tree is evergreen. That means it’s instant in season and out of season because it is always in season. It’s steadfast no matter what life throws at it. Its beauty is everlasting.

It is fragrant. The woman with the alabaster box poured fragrant oil on the head of Jesus. When the disciples rebuked her for wasting such expensive oil, Jesus responded that she did it for His burial. Now, I’m not sure exactly what the oil was, however, the Ancient Egyptians used the oil from the cedar in the burial process, so we can closely assume that this may have been the oil that this woman used to anoint the head of Jesus .

Cedar was used in building Solomon’s Temple. It was used as an insulator. It was also very expensive, as you can imagine. Nothing in Solomon’s Temple was cheap. Only the best was used.

Let’s get to the heart of this subject to get an even deeper revelation.

Ezekiel 31:3-7

Indeed, Assyria was a cedar in Lebanon, with fine branches that shaded the forest, and of high stature; and its top was among the thick boughs

The waters made it grow; underground waters gave it height, with their rivers running around the place where it was planted, and sent out rivulets to all the trees of the field. Therefore, it’s height was exalted above all the trees of the field; its boughs were multiplied, and its branches became long because of the abundance of water as it sent them out.

All the birds of the heavens made their nests in its boughs; under its branches all the beasts of the field brought forth their young, and in its shadow, all great nations made their home.

Thus, it was beautiful in greatness and in the length of its branches because its roots reached to abundant water.

The seeds take 2-3 years to mature. When you are planting seeds in someone’s life, don’t expect overnight success. That loved one you have been praying for may not come around for a long time.

Once  the seed is mature enough to plant, don’t be discouraged by the slow growth. Cedar trees are very slow growing, but there is a good reason. All you may see is a twig, but underneath the surface, something major is taking place. You can’t see it, but roots are growing. They’re not just growing a few inches, they are growing deep. They are growing so deep that they can sometimes reach underground water…abundant water.

A tree that is deeply rooted can withstand any storm. Think about the trees in the mountains. The winds are constantly blowing. The cedar is flexible and can bow with the wind, but they do not break. Their roots are holding them to solid ground.

Who cares how ugly that cedar starts off as. Its beauty is more than skin-deep. Strength is needed to live long and prosper, and as the roots are growing deeper, it is growing in strength. The point is that we need to be rooted and grounded in Christ

A cedar also grows up. Once the roots are established, the cedar starts growing tall. We need to grow up, we need to mature, we need to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord.  There is a time for the cedar to stay scrawny, but there also comes a time for the cedar to grow up.

As the cedar grows up, it also grows out and this is where it all comes together. Because of the density of its leaves and the year around shade, the cedar makes a very good refuge for all sorts of animals. Birds and squirrels make their nests in its branches. As mentioned above, all kinds of wildlife make their home in the hollowed out trunks of the trees. Animals and even people seek refuge under the shade, as it is a great place of protection from the weather elements.  Do people come to you and sit in your presence? Maybe you are a person who exudes an atmosphere of great peace. People don’t know why they like to be around you, but they do. Maybe people come to you to talk. You have something to offer people, you listen and you give good sound advice. Maybe you are able to give a person a place to stay. These are all examples of cedar tree qualities.

If you don’t get deeply rooted, and grow up and extend outward you will never be of any use to anybody.

The cedar tree has an uncanny ability to protect itself and others. Pests and insects are repulsed by the unpalatable resin and oils. Even the leaves are covered in a thick coat of wax that prevents the loss of water.

Boxes and trunks are made to keep items of great value in, all because of the protective quality of the wood.

I don’t know about you, but after looking at the life of a cedar tree, I want those qualities in my own life. Even if it takes time, I want to get rooted and grounded in the water of God’s word. I want to grow strong and be able to withstand the storms of life. I want to mature as a Christian  and become a fragrant offering to God. I want to repel the enemy that tries to attack, and most of all, I want my boughs to extend out to help others in need. Then, I want to be used to build the Temple of God. What a full circle life!

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Winds of Change

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Dead inside but still alive
Thrashing through life’s angry tides
Sorrow, scorn, remorse, and trials
Wondering if things will ever be right

The winds of change
Have come to dance
To fill your heart with joy
And pure romance

Grieving for what once was the past
Singing the blues
Yearning for a second chance

Yesterday is gone
Like a feather in the wind
Desire crumbles
Like the day well spent

Like a bow and arrow,

Your life has been

Pulled and stretched

Then tossed to the wind
Sailing forward
Straight ahead
To the mark, that was planted
By unseen hands

The winds of change
Have left your bruised
Overturning regret
For all things new

Procrastination and Blah

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by Tonya J in Cozumel August 2015

Procrastination and blah
Running hand in hand
Like best friends on a Sunday night
Dread without determination
How do I get out
Of this rut, I’m in?
Seemingly swallowing my time
Motivation has gone by the wayside

Overwhelmed by nothing at all
Depression creeping in
If I close my eyes I can ignore it all
Making it disappear time and again

Delaying the inevitable
Dawdling my life away
Waiting for some miracle
That will never come my way

Feeling humdrum and unresponsive
To life’s daily routines
Unfeeling and uncaring
As monotonous as it seems

The thief of time has come to steal
My joy and waste the day
A dark cloud has covered me
With discouragement and dismay

Silly Easter Poem

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Hoppy Easter to my lovies
Colored eggs and Easter bunnies
Creepy pictures on a rabbit’s lap
Cadbury Eggs…what the heck is in the middle of that?

Putting on your Sunday best
Time for one of the two days to go to church
The heck with the rest?
The Passion play and recommitments
Hoping that this time, we’ll keep them.

Plastic grass tangled in the vacuum
Too many deviled eggs…
Guess who’s living in the bathroom

What happens when the kids get older
No messy tables from dying eggs
No egg hunts and baskets
The house seems colder

Till later when the grandkids arrive
Easter will once again come alive

Crown of Thorns

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We have all heard the story of The Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ.

We know he was unjustly sentenced for proclaiming who He is and all the works and miracles that he performed. We know that even though the government found no wrong in Christ, they allowed the citizens to choose who to set free, and the citizens choose a murderer named Barabbas.

We know that he was taunted by the religious folks of the time, called names, spat upon, whipped forty minus one time by a cat of nine tails.

Forty less one stripe-Jewish law stated that the maximum amount of lashes a person may receive is 40. The reason for them giving 39 is room for error in the counting, so as not to exceed the punishment.

Cat-o-nine-tails- an instrument  of torture comprised of a short cluster of whips approximately 3 feet in length. Each strand made of leather has a sharp piece of bone or metal attached to the end. When it strikes the body, it tears off the upper layer of skin in a stripe several inches wide, causing pain and profuse bleeding.

They then made him carry his Cross down the Via Dolorosa (Way of suffering) to the hill called Galgotha (place of the skull)  outside of the city where he would be nailed to the cross and the cross was erected for all the world to see. He eventually suffocated to death. I highly recommend that you read the actual science behind the crucifixion. This is a very stripped down overview.

All the while this ordeal was taking place, he never said a word. He never fought. He never defended himself. He knew what the end result would be, and this death had nothing on the glory that was to come for both himself and the rest of the world for those who accept this most amazing gift.

I highly recommend reading the entire chapter of Isaiah 53, but here is a short clip from the chapter:

3 He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised and we did not esteem Him.

4 Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted.

5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

The one thing that I want to focus on is the Crown of Thorns.

When Christ was being crucified, they fashioned a crown of thorns to mock the King. Thorns. They placed this crown upon His head and beat it into his skull.  Take a minute to let that sink in.

We know that by His stripes we are healed. Healing is available to everyone who accepts and believes because of the stripe. It’s been paid for. It’s up to us to accept it and walk by faith in the healing.  The one thing that we overlook is that crown and its symbolism.

Part of the curse in Genesis 3 is that the land would produce thorns. If a crop bears thorns and thistles, that crop is worthless.

So here’s my question for you:

Have you ever been called worthless? Have you ever thought of yourself as worthless?

Have you ever been made fun of? Have you ever felt degraded? Let me go a step further…Have you ever had voices in your head that told you all these things?

You are a nobody

You are worthless

You’ll never amount to anything

You’ll never be good enough

What if …happens?

What if there’s not enough money?

What if I screw it all up?

I’ve made too many mistakes.

Nobody could ever love me

Are you recognizing these voices? These are voices that those suffering from depression, anxiety, bi-polar, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses hear.

There is not a single thing that Christ went through that was void of meaning. Jesus wore the crown of thorns…the thorns that went deep into his skull, so you can be free of mental illness and mental oppression. Just as he received 39 stripes so you can be healed. Just as he died on the cross and literally went to hell and defeated Satan, so that you don’t have to.

And the most amazing thing is that 3 days after He died on the cross, He rose from the dead. He walked this earth for 40 days before ascending into heaven. Nine days later, what is now known as the day of Pentecost, He sent His Holy Spirit. It is His Spirit that lives inside of those who have received Christ as their savior. This is very important because it is the still small voice of the Holy Spirit that has the ability to override those voices in your head.

The same spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in us. Therefore, we have the mind of Christ.

It would be heartless of me to tell you all this without telling how to deal with it.

The bible says in Philippians 4:6-8

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is anything praiseworthy-think on these things.

Think on things that are positive. Stop the “what-ifs”. Find out who you are in Christ. You are worthy. Look up your identity in Christ. Search the scripture. Anytime you see the words, “In Christ”, “In Him”, and “In whom”…that’s talking about YOU. That’s who you are.

The apostle Paul had a thorn in the flesh, yet he was who had this revelation. A Thorn. Sound familiar?

Another reference is scripture to read is about the Armor of God found in Ephesians 6:10-17. In this scripture, it speaks of the helmet of Salvation and the sword of the spirit which is the Word of God.

In order to defeat mental illness or mental oppression, it is important that EVERY DAY when you wake up, that you get dressed in the Armor. The helmet protects the head…the mind. The sword of the spirit is the words you speak. A sword is double edged, so be careful with it. You can speak life or death. You can protect yourself, and with the same sword, you can kill people with your words. That’s another story for another time, but right now, we want to put the focus on protecting ourselves. This is where the thinking on these things comes into play. Every action starts with a thought then it manifests through the mouth. That is the action. Stop speaking and thinking negatively. When a negative thought comes into your mind, take it captive and change it to something positive.

Faith is awesome, but it’s dead when there is no action behind it. It’s wonderful to think that Christ took our physical and emotional pain on the cross, but if you don’t put into action what He provided, you will remain in the same predicament that you are in.

Allow me to speak from experience. I come from a long line of worriers. Anxiety is a very strong curse in my family. My grandmother had it, my mother has it, I have been known to suffer from it, and my daughter has it. It’s bad. It can make you sick and paralyze you. Several years ago  I went to a conference called an “Encounter with Christ”. It was a great weekend service where we learned all of the symbolism of the cross, just as I have touched on above. The part that really got me was the revelation of the crown of thorns. Through my battle with worry or anxiety for many years, I finally learned how to put into action the things that I have talked about above. My quality of life drastically changed. I became someone I didn’t even know, and I liked her.

At some point, circumstances in life happened and I started losing ground. The reason I lost ground is because I stopped clothing myself daily with the armor of God and I stopped thinking and meditating on positive things. Now I am basically back to square one. I have determined to find that person again who was free of anxiety. I don’t have it all together, but I do know what I have to do. I just have to do it. Earlier this year, I decided to find her. I do good mentally when I practice this, but I have not yet made it a habit.

I want to encourage everyone who is interested in getting free from anxiety, depression and other mental oppression, to join the journey with me.  Not just for a day or 2, but until it becomes a habit.