Parting Ways…for a Time…

Hey, there, people. Just a bit of housekeeping, really. 😏

First things first-I am not disappearing. I repeat: I am NOT disappearing! The title says for a time, after all! πŸ™‚

To vanish for good is something I refuse to do after all the wrestling matches I have had with my writing!

However, lately, I am recognizing the need for an extended break stirring restlessly in my soul.

And instead of packing up my play things, pressing the delete button, and scurrying off for a year or two as in blogs past, I am choosing to be proactive…

The fact is, I believe the Lord’s wooing me to a period of quiet, a deeper, more purposeful digging in the Word (Please pray as I seek the time for such! My life has not often been conducive to uninterrupted study, as some may recall! πŸ˜‰).

It’s not always the easiest thing to acknowledge, but I think it happens to all of us at one time or another, this pressing need to steal away from the busy, even if some of that busy be positive.

To truly, deeply tune in to the voice of Jesus, there are simply times we must tune out the clamor of the world.

It’s even harder to acquiese to the time surrender required- even to some things you might really like- to assuage our need.

Not to mention, it’s just plain tough sometimes to continuously spin your heart into words and extend them to an audience, albeit a very kind, amazingly supportive audience of dear family in Christ such as I see all of you as. ❀️

So…I am officially taking a break from here-writing, reading, all of it. ( I am very regretful for the reading part. I gain so much from each of you and don’t like to feel as if I am neglecting to support your work! Know you will be ever in my thoughts and prayers.)

Now, I haven’t set a time for this sabbatical’s conclusion as of yet, but I am imagining at least a few weeks.

It doesn’t really do to limit time with God or bargain with Him on what He asks of me!

So, with that, I will say see you all in a while. Blessings and prayers! Looking forward to seeing what He has to show me and hopefully sharing with you down the road! πŸ™‚

Man-made

If there’s one thing we humans are good at, it’s manufacturing.

We perceive a need, we pull out the thinking caps, the drawing board, sketching pencils-complete with a towering stack of erasers to take care of those, err…rough drafts. 😏

Eventually, through trial and error, we usually crank out a suitable answer to that need.

And there’s mass awe and satisfaction…until the next need crops up, of course. πŸ˜‰

And, you know, that’s fine, in general. It keeps inventive minds rolling, something I can personally attest to the importance of, being a mom to such creative types. πŸ™‚

But, there are some areas humanity’s tendency to manufacture shows up that it just doesn’t belong.

Particularly, today, I think of the church as a whole-our places and methods of worship.

Observances. Rituals. Traditions. We are rife with such.

There’s a lot of Biblical essentials in there, too, of course-at least, for some.

The Holy Trinity, the Bible our inerrant Word, Christ our only means of salvation.

I still know several congregations where this is at least part of their core of beliefs.

I also know others where even such simple truths have been distorted, some more recently, others for, well… for centuries.

Either way, I have only seen them grow further altered as time goes on, unfortunately.

Along with so many other things from what marriage should be to who deserves life, with lots and lots of stops for tweaking in between. 😞

But, really, beyond these obvious and obviously dismaying alterations, there are countless little twists that predate them.

Rituals augmented without much scriptural basis, traditions tacked on because they seemed holy, emphasis weighed more on ceremony than purposes of the heart.

When you sit down and begin to really sift through some of the trappings-the things we do because we’ve always done them, the committees we belong to because we’ve always had them, and the structure we cling to because it’s always been there to cling to, there are a lot of things that are just…well, things.

Man-made things. Some well meaning, some not even inherently bad-when not adopted as requirement or penance.

And others?

Well, outright lies, bald truth be known.

Now, no disrespect meant. I have friends from many different denominations.

I know all have their own emphasis and I know there are devoted followers of Christ in many a style of church.

But, there are some traditions we hold onto that are just… unnecessary.

They don’t really equate to greater closeness to Christ and they certainly won’t usher us into a higher rent district in the kingdom of God! πŸ™„

It’s actually something akin to an odd sort of arrogance to think these things we do make us any more fit for heaven, even if we don’t really recognize it as such.

I think in some cases, years and years ago, we bought into specific notions, either by not checking them against scripture or by seizing on a misinterpretation of a verse.

Or, else it just felt right and that was good enough for us.

Humanity, after all, struggles to resist manufacturing…

Even ways to produce “virtue”.

Over the years, these notions were solemnly doled out, one generation to the next, gaining more and more a semblance of sacredness with each passing, like a hand-me-down garment worse for wear yet never allowed to be discarded.

Rarely do we recognize there was no value to donning it in the first place.

It’s not that I am anti-tradition, necessarily.

I was in the thick of the anti-tradition camp in my day, and that can become its own set of dangerous rituals, let me tell you!

No…the answer lies not in abolishing all we’ve ever done. That’s the proverbial throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

But, I think what I long to see more of is being led by the Lord, seeking His word above the order of the program, the steps He’d lead us in versus the steps prescribed by the various procedures we’ve chosen to put in place.

To tear away all the man-made ways we try to reach God and truly humble ourselves before Him.

Because, in doing that, He who actually made man will lift us up in due time.

Heavyish word tonight, I know. But, the Lord put it on my heart, so…out it came! May we each examine our motivations carefully, seeking not rituals but a relationship with Him. Blessings and prayers, dear friends! πŸ™‚

Holding the Standard

I haven’t absorbed as much as you’d think being married to a handyman for nearly eight years.😏

(Maybe it has something to do with aptitude…or my downright clumsiness with tools. 😁)

But, despite that, there is one thing I have learned.

When it comes to any aspect of building, there is a standard to be met and held.

Without it, you stand a risk of all sorts of problems, to say the least!

The same can be said for our spiritual walk.

Now, I am not one to beat folks over the head with a list of “do’s” and “don’t’s”.

Such legalism can leave a person feeling mighty hopeless.

But, I must say that often, too often, it seems the bar is being lowered in this land of the living.

Particularly, sadly, for those of us who count ourselves the Lord’s own, more and more so as the clock wears on.

Oh, we have God’s grace. And we mustn’t ever forget we have that grace.

His grace is the only way we will ever measure up, after all.

For that matter, His grace is the only way we even recognize the sin stain which causes us not to measure up-on our own, that is.

Because, yes, our redemption is that amazing grace, found solely through the death and resurrection of the Son, praise God.

But, that said, so many of us, too many of us, take this beautiful sacrifice as a free pass.

“I have my ‘God Insurance’ in the game of life, so, now, I can just hop on the do-as-I-please express!” πŸ™„

But, oh, friends, you don’t want that ride! It’s a ride, I’m here to tell you, that does nothing in the end but disappoint at best!

And at worst? Well, let’s just say a crash and burn is painful beyond description. πŸ™

It’s not always easy to provide such cautions.

I always want to make sure I am coming from a place of love.

Too much danger of tipping into the sanctimonious otherwise.

Now, it’s great when you encounter those who get the spirit you intend, or, better yet, are at the table, already hungry for such truth.

But, try to kindly counsel others, especially those who look around and just can’t seem to recognize their own emaciation staring back at them, and it’s a whole new ball of wax.

It can be rather dismaying to watch the hostility, labels, and angry epithets fly then.

Or, worse yet, indifference.

For, there’s a disturbing trend to keep a tight grip on spiritual compromise in these days.

It’s everywhere we look.

Media. Government. Schools. Homes. Churches.

Our hearts.

It’s becoming increasingly unpopular to do otherwise!

Oh, perhaps, it’s not really so new. One only has to peruse the scriptures to see such littering page after page.

It’s only become more prevalent, perhaps, as everything’s on a twenty-four-seven information overload.

The world’s got more opportunities than ever to spew out an ongoing parade of violence and vulgarity.

Not to mention, time is drawing nigh and satan, the defeated foe, is seeking to entangle and take down all those he can with him.

And no one is what I’d call immune from his schemes.

For, even for those of us saved by God’s grace, there is the endless subtlety of distraction, in all its countless forms.

The strategy being if the devil can’t snatch our soul, he can at least sideline us with the world’s many “goodies”.

That way there’s no one left to hold up the standard.

Or, after a while, as our Bibles collect dust in favor of a pulpit pep talk, even remember what the standard is supposed to be.

So, what is one to do? Hole up from the whole world, singing our Kumbayahs under a blanket and wait on the Lord from the comfort of a hermetically sealed bubble? 😏

Well, no, of course not!

That defeats the “in the world, not of it” principle set out in scripture.

Not to mention it’s kind of difficult to shine a light for Jesus burrowed in your down comforter. πŸ™‚

So…no…we mustn’t duck and cover from it all.

Rather, ours is to remain firm in the Lord in the midst of it all.

To celebrate that grace that saves us, but never allow it to become cheap.

To seek the light of His truth that it might grow us and direct others to the same.

Ours is to know the standards set forth in the Holy Word and hold it fast.

And to refuse to build our house on anything less.

Blessings and prayers to you, dear friends! May we be mindful of the many distractions this world throws at us and may we indeed hold up the standard the Lord set forth for us in the midst of it all.

Winepresses We Hide In

This is sort of a reworking of a poem from about 14 years ago. I originally wrote it after picking through some of the Bible stories of the unlikeliest He called, including Gideon. I wrestled much with doubt then. My faith has been mightily stretched, of course, but I can admit thoughts written long ago still echo through the here and now

Sometimes, I feel like Gideon,

Crouched down in the winepress,

Hiding out,

Quaking with anxiety.

I’ve never seen an angelic guest,

I confess,

Nor do I ever find myself with

Much wheat to thresh, 😏

Yet, there is a something in the

Story there

That sounds such a

Recognizable ring

Through the air…

Perhaps it’s his utter smallness,

From birth order to clan,

That meets me where I live,

Connects to where I am.

Perhaps it’s the “Who, me?”

Manner,

An imagined incredulity at the

Idea of “valor”

Which tends to give to my soul

A nod of familiarity.

Between us lies years and

Obvious difference in

Circumstance,

Yet, in feelings?

I suspect there ‘s very little

Disparity.

For, I can well picture

My questioning heart here,

My begging for just one more

Fleece, please,

To alleviate my fear.

I can feel the wonder

As the odd proceedings

Prove might is not in man

And it’s His truth which sends

Doubts and enemies asunder.

I can only pray my faith keeps on

Gathering

And my growth in Him becomes

More than a mere smattering.

For though my battle be

Not with a Midian horde,

Nor my weapons broken jars,

Torches, or ram’s horns,

That which I march into

Is a trust walk nonetheless,

Numbers with me modest,

And my tendency is to the flesh.

Yet, I know that I know

He meets us

In every winepress we hide in.

And, oh-so-patiently,

He lifts us beyond cowering dust

To call out a depth of courage

We didn’t know was within….

May we step out of our respective winepresses and approach each battle with faith and courage in the Lord, especially as a new year prepares to unfold! Blessings and prayers to you, dear friends! ☺

With the Blinders Off

I promised this in a previous post. Prayerfully, I am plunging in to expand on my experience with the charismatic movement…

The first time I ever blogged something, even before my almost-but-not-really mommy blogger phase , I began writing with a mission.

I was fresh out of the charismatic movement I had spent so many years in, full of intense emotions, and determined to counsel others on the dangers therein.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I was terribly grounded yet in my newly found wisdom- nor the ways of the blogging world.

I really didn’t get readers. 😏

So, needless to say, that attempt didn’t last very long!

It would be quite some time, in fact, before I even broached the subject again. And when I did, it was much more tentative than my earlier attempts.

I was beginning to recognize how much of my earlier belief system needed unpacking and how much needed to be rebuilt.

And that takes time. Painstaking time. Coming out both barrels blasting as if I had the authority?

Not an option if I truly wanted an about-face from the past.

For so many things clung to me from my very first church experiences onward, things that permeated the very atmosphere.

Things that honestly left me angry when the truth fully dawned on me.

Things I was not ready to talk about with any measure for quite a while.

But, now that the initial anger I left my old church with has long since faded, I feel I can delve into this. I may still tread on some toes, but I know in my heart there’s no malice in my words- just deep-seated sorrow.

I hope I can convey that somehow here, even with the hard things that must be said.

So, what are these things I speak of?

Well, there are several, so I will begin by highlighting what stood out to me from the various erroneous teachings and just plain oddities I encountered over the years:

1. If you aren’t “falling out in the Spirit” (allowing someone to pray over you till you fall flat on the floor, presumably in a state of euphoria) and babbling together in strange tongues, you are missing out on the “better” part of the Spirit.

This part of the Spirit, according to their teaching, is a special, separate anointing that all Christians should and can have, if only we want it enough.

2. There was also the “name it and claim it” philosophy running rampant- that which says the more you give monetarily, the more you get monetarily, that Christians ought all be financially rich, or something is wrong in their walk, that what you declare in His name can automatically be.

3. There is an almost superstition to keeping every word spoken on the positive. To make sure we are “speaking only good over ourselves”. As if admittance of a struggle automatically causes even more struggle to dump over our heads.

4. Those who were not inclined to gyrate in the Spirit during music were subtly shamed for our “lack of fervor”.

Singing the same phrase countless times, almost chant-like, was supposed to somehow generate more of the Spirit in our midst.

5. We were to hunger for physical signs- angel feathers, gold dust, supernatural healing. Heaven was supposed to meet earth and become an everyday occurence, effectively eliminating reverence.

6. Sermons were there, but wandered over the same few passages that could be bent to human will in the guise of “seeking the Spirit”.

Seldom was salvation discussed or altar calls offered, at least not to lead anyone to Christ.

Altar calls usually involved looking for a prophetic word or the aforementioned “falling out”.

Some would have what they called “carpet time” for hours while their children anxiously waited in the nursery-unless it was a day someone had a notion to troop out the young ones for their “training in the Lord”, that is.

6. Guest speakers were brought in by the droves, some with mystical music to accompany them, some who claimed prophetic giftings, others whose moral failings and extrabiblical leanings were continually excused by grace and the words “fresh revelation”.

This last is what finally broke within me, caused me to stop punishing myself for not being “enough”, and stirred my heart to leave.

I had begun to read the Bible with new eyes that saw what it said versus what it could be bent to say.

I saw that nothing in scripture advocated much of what we did Sunday to Sunday.

So…I saw the writing on the wall.

I knew I couldn’t remain in a place where I could not respect what my leadership embraced, nor what they turned a blind eye to.

So much of it could be summed up to that. Spiritual blindness.

For, that by itself can easily account for buying into a pack of lies that simultaneously claims freedom from the rituals of traditional church and piles on a whole new set of them.

And, as stated, there was a time I was furious for the years this belief system robbed me of.

But, now… it’s more like heavy heartache.

Because I don’t know how many of those people I spent so many years with are really, actually saved.

I want to think some believe in the truth of trusting Christ alone for salvation, but there were so many crowded ideas and conjuring up of “a movement of God”, I cannot honestly say I could see the fruit.

It’s not that they never did good. Their food and clothing ministry thrived. The downtrodden felt like they were embraced.

But the confusing spiritual mix they served up in addition clouded the rest.

And, walking around with that knowledge, yet unable to persuade anyone in that old life of what I feel God revealed to me, is hard.

Unspeakably hard. Especially when some are beloved family.

I pray but I also keep my distance now, honestly. There’s no listening ears there at this point, and definitely no going back for me.

I now exercise extreme caution, testing teachings Berean-style to scripture, and sitting under a pastor that is very much Bible-based, to the point of directing us to test what he says to scripture.

I’m finding the simple clarity of salvation in Christ alone is a life-giving antidote to years of burdensome clutter.

And, slowly, I am finding my feet in sharing this. I am surer now than ever of where I stand:

On Christ alone.

To any who are unsure of the charismatic movement, I pray you test what is said against the Word of God and the Word of God alone. Thanks for reading and God bless!

Quiet Time When There is No Quiet Time

My house is often a…well, shall we say?… clamoring place.

Two kiddos have a six AM wake-up call for play rehearsal.

For the fifth time this week.

The fifteen year old? He is rather serious-minded; his sister of nearly fourteen is lovely, but her autistic tendencies usually mean time is surplanted by stardust. πŸ™‚

Then, there’s the imaginative seven year old boy who needs a gentle reminder floss is not for making a faux Fu Manchu.

For about the hundredth time in the last few weeks. 😏

Add to that my brilliant, autistic seventeen year old boy-forgive me-young man- getting a taste of adult life with an internship that requires a lot of running around, tool-wielding, and remembering.

And helping him remember. Also helping to keep his more anxious tendencies at bay.

Several times a day.

Oh, and the handy husband juggling small business getting bigger, more dilapidated houses calling out to be restored.

Every day, all times of the day.

I play the part of the secretary/ tool hander/cleaner upper. πŸ˜‰

Oh, not to forget, there are also two dogs, one an increasingly stubborn old man, one fairly young but completely blind following sudden onset glaucoma.

Each with their dear little “what about me?” moments. πŸ™‚

And I have referred to the knocking door a few posts ago.

So…all that added together with my own obligations and physical struggles, in addition to making me just a wee bit tired 😴, makes for much scurrying and, at times, more than a little noise.

Hence, quiet time that is literally quiet is a rare commodity.

Sure, I could be a predawn sort, but, at the risk of making excuses I refer you to the above, which often means sleep I can actually get is precious.

So, instead, I find I burrow out what and where I can, hunting up scripture like a squirrel digging up the treasured acorns she’s been storing for winter.

I eagerly gulp down the bits I can afford for that moment before the ones He’s given me have a need of a hand, a reminder, a word of encouragement.

Again. πŸ™‚

I don’t often have the ability to steal away for lengthy prayer sessions, either, obviously, but I do quietly pray throughout my day.

Wash morning dishes, pray He washes away my bad attitudes.

Toss some clothes in the dryer, pray for the owners of said clothes.

Pass a hammer drill up a ladder to my husband, send up a plea for the residents that inhabit or will inhabit the house he’s working on.

Not to mention a thanks for keeping him safe up there! ☺️

But there’s not really a lot of traditional eyes closed and kneeling, frankly, unless I am in a position to (I do like to when I can! It’s a great reminder to remain humble.).

But, for all my hopes in what I have been able to cobble together in my crazy world, this area is something that honestly long had me feeling tremendously guilty as a Christian.

I always wanted to be one of those ladies with a prayer closet I could close and commune with my savior for an uninterrupted hour or so.

But, this is a full house at present- with narrow closets and a fix-it list still a mile long after six years (Handyman’s house is usually last. πŸ˜‰).

Still. Ah. I can visualize it.

Pipe in some worship music, devour books of the Bible at a time, memorize big chunks, pray emphatically for everybody and his brother, map out my spiritual game plan for the next however long I can.

Every morning at the
same time.

I mean, shouldn’t it be that way if I want to be truly growing in my faith?

And yet…

The further I get in this walk the more I see it’s not about a ritual, a time, a place.

Not scoffing at that.

Some of it, when approached with a sincerely seeking heart, is a beautiful thing.

And if you can do it, I say go for it.

Wholeheartedly.

But, for those of us that struggle a bit more to squeeze out that perfect quiet time, not from lack of desire, but due to circumstances, I say don’t give up!

For one thing, I know well the Lord gives us seasons.

Yours won’t necessarily look just like mine, nor mine yours.

Some may change rapidly.

Others seem like they’ll never change. πŸ™„

The key is surrendering to Him your particular season and letting Him do what He will with it.

And then, letting go of what you or everyone else says you should be doing.

Or, that is, how you should be doing it.

Prayers to you, friends. May your quiet times be blessed, whatever season you’re in.

Self-Help Never Helped Anyone

There aren’t too many brick-and-mortar bookstores left these days. (Makes an old-fashioned, flip-through-the-pages girl like me rather sad. πŸ™)

But, on those occasions I happen upon one still, what is one of the biggest sections I find?

Self-help.

Usually right next to the Christian section, no less-when they’ve got one.

Kind of speaks to society in general:

Don’t like the idea of God’s help? Well, then, here you go, help yourself!

And there’s a veritable sea of publications with slick covers, beckoning to the struggling with empty promises for a new life by Friday.

Self-improvement. Self-reliance. Self-empowerment.

Pick one up and a few may even allude to some sort of faith at times, though it seems more of a cursory nod than the foundation of their philosophy.

So many authors, so many books, so many ways…

So much foolishness!

For, every one of those books lay claim to the secrets of “successful living”.

And so few ever acknowledge the God who holds the real secret!

For successful living has not an iota to do with what house you live in, what’s in your wallet, or your driveway.

Nor with the length or contents of your resume, your online followers, or cookie-cutter, Instagram-ready family.

For all those things are just that.

Things.

Some of them quite nice.

Family, obviously, is extremely important and not just a thing! As a wife and mom of four, I can definitely attest to that!

But, the idol of the “perfect” life with them or in general?

Well, that is just that-an idol.

And idols are dangerous, false gods in the way of our loyalty to the One True God.

As is trying to self-help ourselves.

For there is no helping ourselves…

By ourselves.

I know. I have tried so many times-and have the trail of failed attempts behind me to prove it! πŸ˜‰

Having been through a few rough patches in life often leads to grasping at band-aids of all sorts.

But, nothing ever stuck till I recognized that the only real help comes when we bow every bit of our self-serving ways to our desperate need for a Savior.

It’s not that all advice out there is bad.

Scripture, naturally, is full of wisdom for the ages. When I need help, I prayerfully reach for the Bible and find God answers quite well!

It’s a matter of being open to listen, of course. πŸ™‚

There are also many wonderful writers and teachers versed in the Word and a lifetime of walking with the Lord who have a lot of insights to share.

I am just especially cautious with whose work I read and listen to these days.

Anything that does not place God and His Word first, last, and in between is not something I linger on anymore.

It isn’t worth it.

So… suffice to say, where in those few bookstores left (or that huge online landscape of offerings), the self-help section is wide, would that we choose the narrow aisle of biblical truth:

Self-help never helped anyone.

We need His help for now and all time to see any real change.

Blessings and prayers, friends. May we ever be in pursuit of the help only the Lord can provide.