Dangerous Deconstruction

Hello, friends. Something on my brain I can’t leave alone.

Didn’t plan a post today but, hey, I don’t really plan them anymore, anyway. 😏

No. Instead, I find it best I wait on God to tug at my shirt sleeve a few (Ok. Sometimes several, depending on how stubborn I feel.πŸ™‚) times.

Ok. So…I have been reading an awful lot in recent times about an awful lot of well-known people who once claimed or still make attempts at a claim to Christ using the word “deconstruction” in regards to their faith, the latest being Kevin Max, formerly of my beloved mainstay, DC Talk.

Not that this sort of thing is new. I must recognize this has been the sort of statement he has been edging forward in more and more over the years, especially following the DC Talk years.

But, this most recent was perhaps the most discouraging yet. To say I am sad is an understatement.

Now, this sort of thing isn’t exactly new in any faction of society-just read Paul’s epistles if you think it is-but the recent rash of it seems to be becoming more and more inflamed.

Perhaps the 24 hour social media barrage does it.

Perhaps it’s the innate hunger of humanity to be heard on every last thought, or should I say to renounce every last thought that does not fit the cancel culture du jour…πŸ™„

At any rate, it can dismay the soul to the point of weariness when each news cycle seems to spring up with another in the body of Christ extracting themselves from the fold either blatantly or through the subtle lies of “progression”.

Especially when several of these folks are dear to me, either through music I was uplifted by, sermons once preached, or wisdom once imparted in the written word.

To hear that all that has gone before is now being shrugged off in the name of deconstruction?

It’s extremely deflating.

Now, I am no stranger to deconstruction-literal or spiritual.

As to literal, in his business, I have seen my husband take sledgehammers to walls, saw an ancient tub in two to unwedge it from a miniscule bathroom, gut entire kitchens, bring down (carefully) whole ceilings.

All in the name of making something new.

But, what he never does in remodeling is rip out the solid foundation.

Similarly, when it comes to faith, I have had to participate in my share of knocking out faulty walls and yanking out poor plumbing, for sure.

Growing up in the false doctrine of the charismatic church, there was a lot of stuff built up that had no business there!

And once I found those faults, took them to the Master Contractor, and questioned them, really questioned them, there was no turning back from total gutting of the mess made.

Deconstruction. No. Rather, reconstruction.

Complete rebuild of faith. It happens. It should happen-when it needs to happen.

But, the one thing He never said must be done away with is the solid foundation of Christ and Him crucified.

The core of faith, the Word and the truth there must remain for Him to rebuild upon. No compromises.

Because, you know what a compromise in construction is? Something that endangers the stability and durability of the whole structure!

And I think in there lies the difference between what the Lord did for me and what is happening with so many public figures in Christianity.

I will never ever regret taking those doubts to the Lord and letting Him have His way. I shudder to think what I might still be in the grips of  otherwise.

So…we all have doubts. I will never knock someone for admitting to them.

But-it’s what we then do with them that counts!

For, what is happening to so many of these folks, as well as many not in the media, is a removal from the  foundation the Lord intended for us.

It brings to mind 1 Cor. 3:11: “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

Sometimes, it is an abrupt shift away following a period of relative obscurity, at least in our eyes, as we stumble on yet another article we thought we’d never read.

Other times, it is a very willful, in-your-face statement. Those often include not only the word “deconstruction”, but the word that I cringe at every time-“progressive”.

(Read: moral ambiguity, approval of all manners of sin, sexual and otherwise. Iffy on scripture. Path to salvation. Whether we should even talk about one way to heaven or the reality of hell.)

Oh, friends, this should not be! Progressing in that manner is not progressing at all!

In fact, whatever is built on such a foundation is doomed to fall!

So…what do we do? What is our part?

Well, firstly, a firm renouncing of such a “Christian” walk. That is a given, even if you thought this person was cool or taught you something valuable at one time.

Let people know that that “progressive” version of “following” Christ is not the Biblical version.

That following that “cool” person in the media down that path will only lead to a deconstruction that will devastate them in the end.

But, as you navigate that, you better make sure you don’t do it from a high horse or neglect recognizing your own failings or desperate need for a savior.

We must, even as we disavow certain things, do it humbly and prayerfully.

And keep these who have shifted from the foundation fast in our hearts, in hopes that they will find their way back.

Because I have to pray that Kevin, in all his introspection, will remember the words he once sang: “there ain’t no disguisin’ the truth”.

May we all remember this truth-of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, the only path to salvation, the only covering for our sins, and the only way to live FREE of those sins.

With this our foundation and God our Master Contractor, what is built in us will stand the test of time. No deconstruction necessary. πŸ™‚

Thanks for reading, dear friends! Blessings and prayers!

In the Light

Hello, there, dear friends! I have been continuing on, digging deep into my heart, searching the Word, searching my soul.

Listening to a lot of tunes, one of which I will share below when I am done rambling. πŸ˜‰

Anyway….really, essentially, I am working a lot on who I am in Him and what He has for me…

I turned 43 last month…and I feel it-if not significantly more.

No…you didn’t miss it.

I purposefully did not disclose the day here or with many in my offline world. No offense, but I just didn’t feel like it. πŸ™‚

It’s not a tragedy or anything. It’s a testament to how far He has brought me, really.

Yet…I have found myself less than thrilled with it.😏

Now, I hestitate to deem this a typical “midlife” crisis though it has many of the earmarks.

I find myself wondering often if I’m enough.

Am I doing enough?

Am I being enough?

Despite my rep for cooking for and hanging out with our little youth group, I am also famously reclusive here in my little town.

A big part of that is due to the physical limitations…

And other parts?

Mentally, emotionally, socially?

It’s just…who I am.

I dearly, dearly love people. I care from the depths of my soul.

Empathy is a major component He has placed on my heart, as is intercessory prayer.

Yet…I really intensely struggle to be around many people for very long. Some folks I feel downright uncharitable about. And it’s getting more profound the more years I add.

And that is just being around them. Forget engaging in conversation!

It’s disconcerting. I waffle between feeling the need to apologize for myself and to defend my oft-noted, very introverted territory.

And, sadly, I am just as well known for the list of “I can’ts” or “can’t anymores”, as the case may be.

Driving.

Traditional employment.

Being on my feet too long or on any uncertain terrain.

Climbing.

Running.

Dancing.

Lifting things of any significant weight.

Opening jars.

Sit-ups.

Being in a crowd.

Holding an infant in my arms.

Wrangling toddlers.

Selling books.

Selling myself. πŸ™„

And that is but a partial list.

I’d write more, but that’d belabor the point.

It can be a tad depressing to read, to be sure.

And, yet…lately, I have begun to ask myself: do I use it as a crutch?

Oof.

Dare I admit it can become an… excuse?

A way to not have to push myself beyond comfortable bounds?

I don’t know.

Perhaps.

Can lingering on my fears and tucking myself in tight to my limitations become an actual…sin?

Oh, dangerous territory indeed, especially to an ex-charismaniac!

So much of the belief system prescribed in the name-it-and-claim-it crowd depends on only talking positivity over oneself and calling all sorts of things that are not as though they are. As if the power rests alone in my little, feeble hands!

I don’t want to go back to those places in my mind that displace a sovereign God. Ever.

Too often did I browbeat myself for not “stepping out” in some things-certain it proved a severe “lack of faith” not to believe I was going to be absolutely in divine health and prosperity because God told me to declare it so.

Never mind some thorns in our sides are not necessarily meant to be removed.😏

But, in that, Paul still went out and did what God had for him to do.

So…it stands to reason God asks me to do so, too.

But exactly what?

There were times in my life I thought I knew.Now? Everything, every wheel turning in my brain, every joint in my body feels…rusty.

So…the search for the what goes on, if a bit slowly. I have ideas in baby form, but are they mine or are they God’s?

Well…

I guess I’ll know it when I land on it.

But, to land on it, I will have to keep venturing, even with the protest choir crying in the back of my head.😏

Because if there is one thing I want, it’s to pull away from these hinderances that bog me down in sin and self-loathing.

I want to be in the light, as He is in the light.

And I have to learn to accept the thorn in my side at the same time as I seek the ways He has for me to live in His light.

And this introduces to the promised song, straight from another beloved 90’s Christian Band, DC Talk.

Oh, how many days did they inspire my soul!

Would that I could just share their entire catalog.

So, so many of their songs resonate from The Hard Way to Jesus Freak, from What if I Stumble? (That long, long ago in a galaxy far away I sang as a duet at churchπŸ™‚) to Consume Me.

But, this week, In the Light and its raw, powerful lyrics stir me in particular. This is my heart’s cry, in fact. May it be all of ours. Have a listen and draw near to His light. Blessings and prayers. And I thank you for yours. ❀

When God Makes a Match Out of Our Mess, or the How Marisa Met Joe Story, Part One

And now, for something totally different…

Inspired by my sweet blogging friend, Tina, over at Pippi’s Poetry and her recent wonderful posts on how she met her husband. Hello, friend! 😊

Also, honestly, further fueled by the struggles mentioned here.

I think it’s safe to say I could really do with some sharing of this piece of my story at this particular point in time.

To be reminded of His unparalleled goodness to us.

For those who have travelled with me one blog to another or read my book, this all might not be exactly different. My apologies.

Still, with each writing, there are fresh insights to be had. So…there’s that. 😏

Anyway…I have alluded in a lot of posts to having been married before.

It all figures into where I am now. Therefore, this portion impresses upon me to be told first, like it or not.

So…onto to laying the groundwork…

Husband #1 was my high school sweetheart.

The only guy I thought would ever stick around the likes of shy, dorky me.

The one I honestly assumed a lot of my identity through, as I had never felt much of my own.

I had grown up in the confusing atmosphere of a series of charismatic churches.

I had said a prayer to accept Jesus at age 5 that I didn’t really understand. No one truly helped fill in the gaps with anything more than to introduce the concept of being separately filled with the Spirit.

It was indicated such a “baptism” would bring me the “benefits” I witnessed weekly: supernatural healing, speaking a “heavenly language”, and the ability to worship in a “freer” (read: frenzied) fashion. Maybe even prophesy.

I could never figure out why none of that stuff came to me despite my sincere longing. I wilted in rejection.

At age 13, a lot of years of that later plus the abuse my mother administered at home, and I was back at the altar crying out to God to take my heart and change it.

To make me worthy. Because I sure didn’t feel much of that.

I did feel a change then, though again, there was a bundle of confusion handed to me with it when camp sponsors attempted to force me to speak in tongues.

However, older and a bit wiser, I tried to brush that aside this time and place my focus on that change I was feeling Him make within me.

I needed that change within me. I knew it was there.

Yet, I was still so unsure of His love in this process. Of any love, for that matter.

That was something, after all, so often given only to be snatched away when I proved less than pleasing, or so I thought.

I think that rampant insecurity as much as anything made it easy for me to latch onto this guy in my Drama 1 class.

He was funny. He was friendly. He said he believed in God, went to a church that was a lot simpler to understand.

And he seemed to like me.

But, it was never really what I could term as healthy. Lots of overattachment, plenty of push and pull.

Yet, I convinced myself we were destiny, as was the ministry we would unite in.

We married a year out of high school.

It proved a lot harder than anticipated. Neither of us was mature enough to sustain the necessaries of a God-centered relationship.

Children were born, responsibilities weighed, depression haunted.

And…we collapsed. Studies were abandoned and his dreams shifted another direction, with another person.

And the kids and I?

Well, we were left largely to fend for ourselves, beyond the very occasional visit, the very occasional financial contribution.

I was dangerously near suicide, saved by the love of my children and their need for me.

And…for a long while, the foolhardy hope he’d somehow come to his senses and come home, if only I behaved dutifully and prayed hard enough.

I really thought I was hearing from God on this, even.

In the meantime, I took up a new way of life:

Raising kids, discovering their autism and developmental delays, teaching a class of toddlers, learning to lean on God as my husband in that season, drawing my strength from Him.

It was brimming with opportunities for wisdom and fraught with fountains of tears.

New ways to find His joy were latched onto.

Yet, I also held onto my hope for a restored marriage-so tight the fabric of it grew frayed.

And on that fabric was written my mantra: Just waiting on a miracle here. I neither need nor want any other man.

Unfortunately, in the wake of the abandonment, I had found myself vulnerable to the teachings of my childhood and began to swallow the charismatic line whole.

However, as time and circumstance wore on without a glimmer, the words blurred to an unrecognizable blob in my hand, the fabric I carried like a security blanket long since past its use.

Until, finally, one day, I just decided.

I looked around and admitted it. I was lonely. Desperately lonely.

And quite fed up.

He wasn’t coming home because that wasn’t God’s answer to my many prayers.

The answer was I was a fool to believe God was speaking this false hope to me!

I had wasted six years of my life in unrequited longing.

I was done.

And, so, in this moment of revelation, where I wish I could say I had laid it all at His feet, I instead snatched a major chunk of it up for myself, pulled out my mobile phone, and signed myself up for something I never imagined I would do in a million years:

Online Dating. 😳😬

And….whew. That took a lot more words than I anticipated, though I should know my tendency towards windy phrasology by now.😊

That said, I think I shall have to stop there. Seems like a good spot, anyway.

All right. So, I know it is titled, at least partially: “The How Marisa Met Joe Story”. And…we aren’t even to anyone named Joe yet. For any dangling, I am sorry.

But, I promise, he is coming!πŸ˜‰

Stay tuned. I will likely have Part Two for you by Friday. 😊

Thanks for reading! Blessings and prayers, friends! ❀

Losing Bite

Get ready.

I may puncture a few favored thoughts tonight. I don’t know.

Hopefully, it will not be construed as malicious! 😳

I don’t believe so. I think most of you are getting to know my heart.πŸ™‚

So…I have been waxing nostalgic for the contemporary Christian music I grew up with a lot lately.

I am nudging into 42 next month, so the era is not too difficult to guess, I imagine. πŸ™‚

80’s and 90’s seem pretty far away here in 2020.

And, at the risk of sounding curmudgeonly, Christian music does, too!

In a way that is sadly feeling like the same watered down cup so many churches are serving up these days.

Oh, there are Jesusy lyrics sung, all right.

But, I turn on the radio and find that seldom is today’s Christian fare beyond a romantical, vague, husky-voiced haze, difficult to tell one song from the next. πŸ™

Almost…formulaic. As if the subject is still there, but the substance has been hollowed out.

Ouch. Maybe that’s a bit harsh….😬

Now, I said I would try not to be a crotchedy old lady here, so I will try to stand by that!

I am swimming into my middle years, but I still have a mindset which knows God has gifted us beyond the old standards, so it isn’t your typical no-new-fangled granny grumble. 😏

So, maybe it’d help to give you a proper picture of my background…

I started out in the likes of doing imaginary concerts to Petra records, as well as some of my daddy’s Don Fransisco, Harvest, and BJ Thomas as a preteen. πŸ™‚

I graduated later to wearing out tapes of Michael W. Smith, 4Him, and, my personal favorite, Rich Mullins.

DC Talk, the earlier Newsboys, Jars of Clay, and Audio Adrenaline were swiftly added to the mix, along with a few others I would discover through my annual collecting of the latest W.O.W. compilation CD.

Stuff that each had its own signature flavor, singers with their own personal tweak, a variety of instruments with voices of their own, too.

But, best of all, lyrics that did more than make me feel like I was wrapped in impossibly fluffy pajamas.

Not that fluffy pajamas are necessarily always wrong.

We all need to feel comforted by His love.

But, our comfort can’t and shouldn’t be our singular focus.

Nor all we sing about!

No…rather, what I miss in today’s music compared to these older songs was that the latter made me think.

They sandpapered me with grit and honesty and challenge…

They bit into me, in a way I didn’t even fully realize back then.

The necessary bite of conviction.

Oh, I won’t pretend every song merited that rather lofty description.

There were lots of lightweights in there, just as every era has.

Believe me, I experienced that, too, as I ricocheted like a pinball between the self-serving ways of Charismania and a more traditional style of church.

But, in contrast, there didn’t seem to be the universal striving for the constant “feel good” that has permeated our culture at large today.

Now, that said, I won’t knock every song or every new artist.

That would be the height of close-minded generalization.

I know there are yet pockets where sincerity of heart and creativity of mind exist.

For instance, I see and hear such on many a Wednesday night when we huddle around a couple of guitars and a d’jembe drum to lift up praise to the Lord with our youth. πŸ™‚

I guess I am just saying we shouldn’t neglect the individuality He’s graced us with, especially not to appease the masses or stroke our fragile egos.

Nor should we shrink from the often necessary bite of conviction.

I believe that is integral to our call.

It should, therefore, be reflected in every aspect of living-music included….

Well, I hope that wasn’t too grumpy for you. I don’t like to feel as if I am purposely tromping on toes, even when God gives me the hard word to give. πŸ™‚ Blessings and prayers to you, dear friends! Keep singing a new song to Him, but make sure it’s always a song of truth! πŸ˜‰

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!