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…

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Soul Ties

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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

 

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.

Entangled in Love

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Two worlds, two lives, two souls collide
Bringing together the land and tide
Meeting on life’s rocky shores
Grace abound and love is born

From the first, we both knew
This love would grow and I’d marry you
Through ups and downs and inside out,
Our souls combine free of doubt

Outer darkness tried to come in
With diligence, we were determined to win

The music plays, the flower fades
We refused to let love slip away
With tears in the night
My heart in your hand
Our love renewed
Through a fight to the end

Eternity is not very long
Compared to my love for you
That keeps growing strong

When past loves and lives fade away
Into the darkness where they will stay
A light will shine and our eyes behold
The reason and season
For where we are now
Entangled in love
That was finally found

End of the Rope

 

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Candles burning at both ends
The stress and anxiety never end
Fights and feuds
Staying up all night
Never sleeping or eating right

What good is this life, you say?
I never thought it would be this way
Reality hits and things go wrong
Making weak what once was strong
The tears I’ve cried for all the years
Can never return what I once held dear

Our love was pure
Our love was deep
It still could be,
But you sow and reap

Please turn around and see the truth
This disease is killing you
Intelligence will get you nowhere
Without wisdom its all a nightmare

You’ve turned into someone I do not know
This isn’t the way it was supposed to go
Somewhere deep inside is YOU
Find him before your face turns blue

While there is breath
There is hope
But once it’s gone
That’s the end of the rope.

The Bridges Burned

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You lost in love
You lost in life
You lost your mind
And paid the price

The things you do for selfish gain
Are slowly driving you insane

Your heart is stone
You’re immature
Swallowing your pride
Could be the cure

You’re so blind
You cannot see
This precious gift
In front of me

Too late now
You’ll never know
The love, The laughter
Of Raising a soul

You ruined it all
But who’s to blame?
You and You alone
What a shame.

Life goes on
We live we learn
And thank God for
The bridges burned

My Written Reflections

Scrubs and Beyond

My Broken Soul Is Crying

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I can’t breathe.

My life hangs in the balance

Slowly dying

Tormented.

 

My soul is in deep despair

Conflict raging everywhere

My hands and feet and heart are numb

For what once was our love has  become

 

A love that started out just right

Has drifted away just like the night

My heart can’t take it anymore

You compromised

So I’m walking out the door

 

One thing can turn this all around

Joy in the morning can still be found

One thing I ask in return

Give me your all and let our passion burn

 

I won’t give in to second place

It’s all or nothing at this stage

I’ve stayed, I’ve cried, I’ve lost myself

In a world of dysfunction

I won’t be found

 

I beg and plea for an escape

But my love for you has me in chains

So here I lay, slowly dying

Tormented, outraged

My broken soul crying

 

 

 

 

 

My Love For You

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My love for you is a strange love
As strange as the weather in Texas
As long as the nights in the winter
As sweet as the tea in my mason jar cup

My love for you is deep
Deeper than the deepest ocean
Higher than the clouds and the moon and the sun
As long as the equator

My love for you is frightening
Scaring myself into silence
Alarming the depths of my heart in the night
Terrifying my soul completely

My love for you is unending
Ceaseless even in the darkest days
Infinite regardless of test and trials

Eternal in all of its ways

Bride of Christ or Prostitute? (revised 2016)

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There’s one on every corner; two or three on most. So which is it, a church or a prostitute? Or is there even a difference?

If you’ve ever taken a drive through the red light district, you know what I’m talking about.  If you’ve ever taken a drive through the bible belt, you also know what I’m talking about. The problem is when the two areas are so similar that you can’t tell one from the other.

Prostitution is the oldest profession in the world.

The Latin meaning of the word comes from PRO-upfront or forward and SITUERE-offer up for sale.

There are many reasons a person may prostitute herself. She may suffer from low self-esteem, she may be poor or hungry and does whatever she can to survive. She may have been sold into a human trafficking ring. She may even see the profit in it having the love of money.

Regardless of the reason, when a person finds herself in this situation,  it is immensely degrading

These women become more aggressive and animalistic in time, to the point of preying on men. When you see these women, most people are disgusted that they can bring so much dishonor to themselves. They are very often diseased and rather intentionally or unintentionally, they spread the wealth to the men they sleep with and indirectly to their wives.

So you may be wondering what a prostitute has to do with the church. Well, there are some very close similarities that most may not realize.  Think about some churches you may have been in. What is the vision of the church, and are the people who make up the body of the church behind the vision and working towards it, or are they working towards and unworthy cause and selling out. Maybe you feel like you have entered a social club. All the members are in cliques and don’t even notice you are there, or maybe they do, but don’t care. I’m not here to put down churches, I just want  you, the members of the church, the body of Christ to reflect, and be sure that when someone walks in, that they can feel like they are looking at the bride of Christ and not some diseased, disgusting body.

Galatians 5:25-Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

I can guarantee you that when a visitor enters the church, they are there for a reason. They are searching for something, maybe to fill a void in their life, to make a change, they may be hurting or simply looking for a friend. MAYBE they are a prostitute or drug dealer or addict or alcoholic, looking to change their life, because what they have been doing has not been working for them.

If we know what a prostitute looks like, we should probably distinguish what the Bride of Christ looks like.

Imagine for a moment…A BRIDE. Historically, she is a virgin, she is pure, she is so in love with her man and he is so in love with her. Her mission in life is to be the best she can possibly be for her husband and to give life. She becomes one with her husband and they work together towards the same goals.

So, what does the Bride of Christ look like? She definitely has the same qualities as a bride. Her intentions are pure, she becomes one with her Groom. She loves him above all others. She is the apple of His eye. She gives life and bears fruit.

Galatians 5:22-23-The Fruit of the Spirit is Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, gentleness and self-control.

I’m sorry, but if the Bride is not giving life and bearing fruit, then she has sold herself out and is a dishonor to her Groom. She is a prostitute.

People have such a bad taste in their mouth about the church, just as they feel dirty when they drive through the red-light district. It’s time to change that. The judging and ignoring people has got to stop. We don’t show love by our words, we show love by our actions. When a person walks into your church and weeks go by with barely anyone acknowledging their presence, we have failed

Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of the water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

Valentine’s Musings

Happy Valentines Day! Today seems to be the perfect time to reflect on love, much like Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reflect on being thankful, and Independence Day is the perfect time to reflect on what it means to be free.

Have you seen that stupid commercial with the larger than life teddy bear? I mean, it’ s sweet and all and I love the thought of having something so comfy to cuddle up to on the couch or bed, but seriously….who has room for something like that??? Of course, they really market it well. They explain why flowers suck and her throwing them in the trash, then her eating a couple of pieces of candy out of the traditional heart shaped box, then she throws it over her shoulder because it’s a bad idea and you’re gonna have to listen to her complain about how fat she is. Yep, she’d much rather have that teddy bear that takes up half the house that she can cuddle with. Makes me wonder if someone who gives her that bear is actually giving his own version of a Dear Jane letter. Seems like the perfect replacement.

So what exactly is Valentines Day and when did it start and why is it such a big deal?

In my search for the origins of Valentines Day, one of the many stories include the martyrdom of a Saint in Rome who was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. His last big gig was healing the daughter of his jailer and sending her a card signed, “your Valentine”.

There seem to be many claims to the origin of the day of Love. Everything from girls drawing names from a jar to see who they would marry, to famous people getting married on the day. Basically, if you can imagine it, it probably happened at some point in history.

At some point poetry became famous. Even the ever popular “Roses are Red” poem evolved over time.

Here’s my favorite from Edmund Spenser’s epic The Faerie Queene (1590)

She bath’d with roses red, and violets blew,

And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew.

Fast forward to modern times and Valentines Day has become one of the most commercial holidays of the year, following Christmas and Halloween. In the United States, about 190 million cards are sent each year. We’re talking the hallmark style cards, not the little box of 25 cards that the school children pass out. In 2013, the average person spent $131.

Regardless of the origin, the modern day celebration consists of lavishing gifts on the beloved. The usual gifts include chocolate, flowers, jewelry, teddy bears and mass produced cards and let us not forget the fancy dinner. Although all those things are nice, I think that gifts from the heart are the best. The best thing about gifts from the heart is that they don’t cost much if anything.

When was the last time you wrote a poem? Do you even know how to write a poem? If not, I have some great news for you, we have modern day technology in the form of the internet and google. Simply google “how to write a poem”, pick your style then put your own words to it and use a thesaurus if you must in order to find words that fit. After you have written your poem get you out some colored paper and crayons and make your own Valentines Day card.

When was the last time you had a romantic dinner? Here’s an idea. Send the kids to grandma’s and make your sweetheart’s favorite meal. Set the table with the best place settings and elegant decorations. And whatever you do, don’t forget the candles, low lighting and love songs playing in the background. Get dressed in something sexy and surprise him/her.

If chocolates are your Valentine’s thing, consider doing away with the heart shaped box, and make your own sweets. Truffles are easy to make as are heart shaped cookies.

There’s any number of ideas to make the day special. Google and Pinterest will be your best friends when coming up with ideas. Stop on the side of the road and pick her a bouquet of flowers, dance to the car radio under the stars, turn you bedroom and bathroom into a spa, complete with candles and rose petals. If you plan ahead, you could also get with your favorite photographer and make some sexy picture to give to him or her. This would also be a great day for breakfast in bed.

However, you celebrate, spend time with the one you love.
Happy Valentines Day!

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