June 30 2015

My Love of Sin

sinAs a young adult I wanted nothing more than to be free. To make the choices that I felt were right, and to do what felt good. I wanted to define who I was and how I saw the world on my own terms. I had felt oppressed by my parents for so long and the new-found freedom of adulthood was like a breath of fresh air. So who was I to define myself as? I had to get in touch with myself, and the world around me. To figure out what life meant and where I fit in with that. I did a lot of self exploring, and I have to admit that drugs helped play a part in that. I think without the drugs I would have come to the same conclusions however, as I was bent on removing myself from being anything like my parents or what society or religion told me I should be.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions 2 Timothy 4:3

Freedom to me meant that people are free to express themselves any way they wanted. In their dress, appearance, music, who they love, etc. We are all individuals, made to be unique, and we should all accept each other and love each other. The only problem with that was I didn’t love everyone. I only loved those that held the same view as I did. That didn’t matter much to me at that point though. I was focused on me – that is what really mattered. Anyone who had a different opinion was a racist, bigoted, hateful (insert bad word here) and I was living in truth and freedom. Of course Christians were a part of that bigoted group. They were the most hateful of all – telling everyone that they are sinners going to hell. Absolutely sickening to me.

On my journey of self exploration and freedom I began to experiment with many things. Drugs, explicit music, provocative dress, and of course sex. I had already been promiscuous in my failed attempts to find love. That is when I decided I needed to broaden my horizons when it came to love. Love was not just something between a man and a woman, but something soul deep. Something that bypassed our physical bodies and was destined by a higher power. No one could dictate who they would love – it was so much bigger than us. When we get swept away in love, it is something to embrace and cherish with every fiber of our being. I believed this completely.

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:28

So I started to look into bisexual and lesbian relationships. I started seeking out women who were open to those kinds of relationships and befriending them. I went on some dates, I got tangled into a short-term relationship, and had a short tryst with another woman. Truly all I wanted was to be loved and accepted. Unfortunately I didn’t experience any of that with this experimentation. There was a part of me that thought that being with a woman would be so much different from being with a man. That a woman would never hurt me the same way. That a woman would be just like me and we could be best friends. Oh how wrong I was. I experienced the same rejection and pain with these woman who I did with any man. It actually came back to completely hurt me in the end.

Do not practice homosexuality…. It is a detestable sin. Leviticus 18:22

Eventually I met a guy at work and we ended up getting into a relationship. I was very much wanting to bring the experimentation with women into this relationship, by trying a threesome with him. It didn’t happen for one reason or another, but the idea got lodged firmly into his brain. I got pregnant within the first 6 months of the relationship and it changed my opinion on the matter. I wanted to get married and have the same last name as my son. I wasn’t happy in the relationship, it was pretty bad, but nonetheless I felt that marriage was the right thing to do. So we got married in a Celtic hand fastening ceremony in our drug dealer’s back yard. Freedom, right? We were both miserable. Within 6 months of my son being born my at the time husband cheated on me with my friend. He told me that because I wouldn’t have a threesome, he decided to get some on his own. I was devastated. How could this have happened?

However, this didn’t change my opinion of love and same-sex couples. I whole heartedly believed that love was soul deep and unable to be defined by rules. Love was something so much greater than any boundaries that people could put on it. Yet my fascination with the same-sex didn’t quite die. I brought the attraction into other relationships with pornography and again the idea of a threesome. I would fantasize and even try to talk the man in my life into him being with another man. I knew I wasn’t gay, because I loved men, but I couldn’t shake the sexual desire that was somewhere inside me for women, and something about same-sex intimacy got me really excited.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves Romans 1:24

Even after I got remarried and had more children, there was still that side of me that felt this way. I am sure I made my husband feel uncomfortable, but because of his love for me he indulged me a bit by allowing pornography to invade our marriage and strip us of natural intimacy. It wasn’t until I began a love affair with Jesus Christ that those feelings became completely alien to me. As I sit here writing this, I haven’t had any urges to be with another woman in over 2 years. Not since I came into a relationship with Jesus over two years ago. So much so, that I had forgotten some of the things that I have just written about. I feel like a completely different person; like that was another lifetime.

I was so lost in my life for so many years. It wasn’t just the sin of sexual immorality that I was taken captive by. There were so many other things that were a sin that I called right. Those sins only worked to created a barrier between myself and God. The more I lived by my desires and my ideas of what were right and wrong, the more I thought the way I was living my life was right. Yet somehow, with all the freedom I had to live as I chose, I was completely miserable inside. I loved my husband and my children, but there was always a hole inside me that was aching to be filled. That was the place in my heart where I had kicked out the One who created me.

I don’t know why God chose to completely wipe any urge or inclination for sexual sin from me, as well as drug and alcohol addiction. I only know He did, and I am so very thankful for it. I still have other sins that I struggle with and work on today. God does not always take away our sinful desires. Sometimes He meets us right in the middle of them, so we can grow to rely on Him, and know Him more. Through our sin we can learn to trust in God and see that is the Rock we need to have the strength to defeat sin.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10

I lived a life captive to the ways and thoughts of this world for so long. The world told me to be free to be who I want to be, and to let my heart and my desires dictate what I do with my life. The Bible tells me the complete opposite of that. The Bible tells me that God created me as a woman, to be with one man for my whole life. That the heart is deceitful and sick before we come to Christ, and prone to do evil. The Bible also tells us that we are born sinners, and that sin is a barrier between us and a Holy God. That without the Blood of Jesus we cannot know God and move away from sin. I was a slave to sin, even though I believed I was free.

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin”. John 8:34

While I was dead in my sin and transgressions, Jesus died to set me free. While I glorified in doing what was wrong and mocking God, He was working to bring me into a loving relationship with Him. God did not hate me for all the evil I had done, but He could not be a part of my sin. So Jesus sacrifice on the cross  gave me the opportunity to come into the presence of a Holy God, and to receive His free gift of grace and mercy. Me! Who I am that I should be saved? Who am I, that God should ever love me? I purposefully rebelled against God! I happily did all that was wrong and called it right! And still here I am, made free from all my evil desires, and given a new life, and hope.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36

chainSo I gladly rejoice that I am a slave now. Slave?? Yes! And I will shout if from the rooftops that it is true! I am a slave to Christ Jesus and I love it. For we are all slaves to some master, but now the master I obey is Jesus. Jesus wants only what is good for me. He has blessed my life in more ways than I can count. He has protected me and taken care of me, even when I hated Him. He has given me inexplicable joy and unconditional love. So I say yes, I am thankful to be a slave now. Jesus came to free the captives from sin. You no longer need to walk in darkness, for now He has come for you! You, His dearly and beloved children. Stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near! God is calling you out, my dear friend! Are you ready to take His hand and be led out of captivity?

And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. Revelation 12:11

 

 

 

 

 

June 25 2015

Thou Shall Not Judge

judgeFor most of my adult life I was a pagan. I was in rebellion against God, and a lover of all things of this world.  I hated Christianity. I had met some of those Christians and they were a judgmental bunch of hypocrites. And so perfect. How can anyone be so perfect and pure? It really made me sick. I was not alone. Society as a whole seems to have the same views on Christians. Judgmental. Perfect. Hypocrites. It is an age-old idea that has permeated our culture in America. I really thought that I would be perfect too, when I became a Christian. Boy was I in for a shock when I found out that perfection belonged only to Jesus. Perfection is not a status that a human being can ever attain. So why do so many people think Christians are perfect?

My transformation from a pagan into a lover of Christ was quite dramatic. A complete 180. I went from a witch who took Jesus name in vain; a drug addict, who watched everything violent and sexual, to a Christian who leads worship at church and doesn’t watch anything above a G rating. I am totally sold out for Jesus. So when I became a Christian I removed myself from a lot of the things I did in the past. It was only natural because I wanted to show my allegiance to God after being rebellious for so long. I wanted to purify myself from all the evil I had exposed myself to for so many years. I needed it so I could begin the process of changing the way I thought and acted. Somewhere in this process I got things mixed up though. In wanting to separate myself from the sins of my past, I was actually separating myself from sinners as well.

I actually started to look down on people who did all the same things I did in my former life as a pagan. Watching all the  shows and movies with violence and drugs and cussing, listening to music that was sexual and provocative, drinking, smoking, taking God’s name in vain, etc. I was appalled and horrified by this behavior – especially when it was by my fellow Christians. What a bunch of sinners! I mean, sure I used to do that stuff – but now I was doing what was right! These people should know better! Haven’t they read the Bible? It was enough to get me really upset. I really wasn’t trying to make myself better than anyone else. I just didn’t know that separating myself from sin didn’t mean separating myself from sinners.

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1-2

I read the verse that says to not judge people and soon started to think I was doing something wrong judging others. If Jesus says we shouldn’t judge others, then it must be wrong. What I didn’t understand was that I was taking that verse out of context. As a new Christian I still had so much to grasp. Learning about God and who He is and His character is a lot of work. It takes a lot of time and a lot of study. It is difficult to throw yourself into being a follower of Christ and get a grasp on what that really means right away. I just was fearful that I would offend a holy God. I didn’t want to make more mistakes in my life, because so far that had led me to misery. Besides, I was on my way to being perfect – and I couldn’t let anything get in the way of that.

I think the people of this world love to take Matthew 7 out of context. They grab onto the words “do not judge” and want to use it against Christians. After all, Christians are all judgmental hypocrites. So here they are judging everyone around them for their sin, when in fact Christians themselves are sinning too! Then Christians feel guilty because even Jesus says not to judge. And we feel like hypocrites for judging others when we are just as bad as everyone else. So we stop calling out what is wrong and start compromising so we can be accepting of other people. We stop speaking the truth in love to help redeem people from their sin, and start making excuses for why it is OK for them to sin. And if it is OK to make compromises for the world, then it is OK to start making compromises for ourselves as well.

“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” John 7:24

The problem with that is that we are called to judge, but to judge rightly. It is impossible for a human to not judge and God encourages us to do so. We judge on a daily basis things like what is right and wrong, what is safe and unsafe, what is a good choice in decisions we are making. The Bible tells us to test prophecies so we know what is right and to test the spirits so we can be aware of false prophets. If we do not make judgments we are potentially putting ourselves in danger, because we are then going to accept everything that comes our way. There is a difference between being a judgmental person and making a sound and right judgement.

For starters we need to begin by judging ourselves. Romans 12:3 tells us to use sober judgement when thinking of ourselves. Otherwise we might think more highly of ourselves than of other people. And that is perfectly in line with Matthew 7. Jesus is not telling us to never judge another person. What Jesus is saying is that we ourselves need to get right with God, before we start to judge other people. We need to repent for our own sins, be open to the Holy Spirit working in us to help us change and grow closer to God. It is through that right relationship with God that we begin to have an understanding of how to judge others, and the world around us.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 1 Corinthians 5:9-10

It is through God’s standards, not our own opinions that we are to judge one another. Our opinions are conflicted with emotion and sin. God is the only authority by which we can define what is right and wrong. We need to align ourselves with the Word of God so that we may learn to judge in a way that brings people back into a right relationship with God. It is sin that separates us from God, and we need to help others who are trapped in sin to come back to Him, in repentance. We do this in love and with humility, not condemnation. Satan is the accuser and the one who condemns us, not God. God is our loving Father who wants nothing more than to have a restored relationship with us. He does not look down on us or think badly of us when we are trapped in sin. Our sin hurts Him, because sin leads is a sign of a broken relationship with our wonderful Father.

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 1 John 4:20

shameIf we were to separate ourselves from everyone in the world, we would never have a chance to do some amazing work for  the Kingdom of God. Jesus wants us to partner with Him, to bring many into His presence. When we are looking down on others because of their sin, that is not judgement, that is hate. If we hate one another, then we do not know God. Our Father wants nothing more than for you to come into His loving presence. Sit at His feet and learn from Him. Learn to love others, and to have compassion and mercy on people in a fallen world. We were once dead in our own transgressions, so we know what it is like. No one, even those who have been saved as a child, can say that they don’t know what it is like to experience death – separation from God. Because at one time or another we have all sinned and fallen away from Him, whether we like it or not. Yet we must be careful to not let our love for one another turn into an acceptance of sin. We are to turn each other away from sin, not turn a blind eye to it. Whether or not  someone has felt a conviction from God that what they are doing is right does not mean you should not help that person out. Leading a brother or sister away from sin and back to God is salvation, not judgement.

My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back,  remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20

 

 

 

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June 18 2015

Conformed To This World

worldYesterday I had the most amazing experience. As I was driving I was praying and worshiping God. The sky was bright and the clouds were painted across it. The world felt alive and it was as if heaven itself had opened up and was signing praises to God. I was filled with a sense of awe, reverence and love. In that moment I knew that God was literally everywhere. Then I realized, this is exactly what is going on around us, every day, every minute. All of creation sings to us the glory of its Creator. God pours out His infinite love into His creation, embracing us and speaking to us, constantly. Intellectually I knew it was true, but now for the first time this truth became real to me.

Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the Lord, my soul.   Psalm 103:22    

During most of my adult life I was a self-proclaimed pagan. That meant something to me – a lover of nature, a worshiper of gods and goddesses, a friend of the earth. I was a witch and proud of it, but first and foremost I was pagan. Wild, free and in tune with the universe. I was obsessed with the moon and the ocean. I literally worshiped them. I would sit in my backyard on nights when the moon was full, and bask in its glow. The moon was a goddess – alive and beautiful. I would pray to it and speak to it. The power and the magnificence were so real and glorious!

I would often take trips to the beach. The power of the ocean was staggering. To behold it was almost more than I could bear. The crashing of the waves became one with my soul. I just knew that it was there that the first life crawled out into this world. The primordial ooze that slowly over millions of years evolved into who we now were. I would sit and just enjoy the sound of the waves and know that there was something so much bigger than me out there.

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Romans 1:20

It was not just my worship of the moon and the ocean, I was enamored with this world. The earth was Mother Goddess. She was our home – sacred and alive. She had feelings and could consciously act. She took care of us and punished us when needed. With a flick of her mighty hand she could cause earthquakes and hurricanes to put us in our places. Yes, it was very real to me. Animals were equal too, if not greater than humans. Humans were meant and harmed our mother earth and our animals friends. I not only studied the occult, but many other religions. Animals are often revered in other religions or were symbols of power and greatness. My deep love for the earth and all its life was what defined me. I would balk at the thought of animal abuse, but not even bat an eye at abortion.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools  and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Romans 1:21-23

Life to me was about freedom – about being who you are. Letting your soul shine through and expressing it to its fullest. Diversity was beautiful the way it came through so many people. Gay, bisexual, transgender – I celebrated it. Love is something you cannot change! You are who you are, and you love who you love. And love is about two souls uniting and becoming one. I actually got into a huge argument with my Grandmother who was a devout Mormon. I had never spoken to her like that in all my life! Yet I knew it was true and I was willing to stand up for itI knew and had friends who were gay or transgender. I even questioned my own sexuality for a while and experimented with being bisexual. I was pretty sure everyone was born bisexual and that monogamy was a forced concept. (That is until I got married myself.)

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen. Romans 1:24-25

Life was free and religion was confining. Christianity was like a prison. Nothing but rules and condemnation. I didn’t want to hear that I was a sinner going to hell – I didn’t even believe in hell! Or Satan. He was just another myth to me. Just like that Christian God. And Jesus? He was just another swear word. It was funny to make fun of His name. It meant nothing to me. I literally knew nothing of who He even was. Some guy who lived a long time ago? It didn’t matter to me. The earth and all her creatures – that is what mattered to me. And my family. The rest of people of the world could fall apart for all I cared. My essence was going to be released into the atmosphere when I died along with all the other dead spirits anyway. Then we would go back to where we came from. The great universe which spawned us in the first place.

Had I rejected God? No way. I had only rejected the Christian God. I wholeheartedly believed in many gods and goddesses. I believed in the great connection all life had. I believed I was a part of something greater than myself and certainly there was a god. Just not that God that was in the Bible. That God was nothing but a lie. And I had read books on witch craft and its ancient roots to prove it. Christian’s had stolen everything from us pagans. I had experience real life through nature and my practices with witch craft. I was sure that I knew that truth, and there was no changing my mind.

It wasn’t until I began to know the Living God and read His Word in the Bible that I began to see how wrong I was. I had so many questions at first – how could God have created everything in just 7 days?? The earth is millions of years old – there is proof! How could there have really been a great flood? I mean, that is impossible! Yet I delved into knowing God and who He really was with all my heart. I had been seeking truth for so very long. I yearned for truth like a deer that pants for water. After so many years I was still thirsty and never satisfied with anything I had found.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? Psalm 42:2

The moment I found the Truth the weight of the world was lifted from me and the veil was removed from my eyes. I knew with every ounce of my being that this God I was learning about was indeed the only God. The One True Living God. That there were no other gods, no goddesses. That every word in the Bible was true. It didn’t all make sense how it could have happened, but any doubt of the Truth of the Bible was erased from me completely. I got on my knees and gave my whole life over to God. From that day forward I literally did not see the world in the same way. It was like I had new and fresh eyes. It was like I had been living with glasses on that were rose-colored or muddying up everything I saw, but now everything was clear as could be. The world was a completely different place than what I had been living in. Somehow I had given myself over to beliefs of how the world is and what life is, but all these things were lies. I was in shock at how many deceptions I had fallen for.

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

chainHow could I have believed all these false things for so long? Evolution, abortion, homosexuality, feelings create who you are and are the most important thing. And so much more! But anyone can fall prey to these lies. Everyone is susceptible. It started all the way back at the creation of man, when Adam and Eve listened to the first lie and believed it. They believed it, because they wanted to. Because it felt good and it looked good. Because they wanted to see what life was like when they were in charge, not God. And so it has gone all through the ages, that man has walked away from the protection of God and given themselves over to what looks good in the moment. Man has listened to the serpent tell them they don’t need God; that God doesn’t know what He is talking about anyway. And when you don’t already have a relationship with the Living God, oh how easy it is to believe the lies.

Satan wants nothing more than to tear us away from God. And we make it so easy for him to do so. The fruit looks tasty, and if someone I love says it’s OK, then it must be. Right Adam? God’s Word has stood the test of time. His warnings to us to stay away from pagan practices, magic, homosexuality, idolatry etc. were to protect us, not to control us. The Israelites fell into these practices over and over again. They replaced the living God for idols, they stopped teaching their children about His grace and mercy, they forgot the fact that He rescued them from slavery. This has all been laid out for us so we too can remember the dangers that lurk in this world. Yet day after day we sell ourselves over to slavery.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

We are being held captives by the traditions of man and the deceptions of this world. What do we do? We love. We have compassion. We pray. We work side by side with Jesus to free the captives. Yes you. You can help free the captives, starting with yourself. What lies of the world have you let creep into your heart? In what ways have you let the enemy tell you that God is wrong and the Bible doesn’t apply to you? Be set free and begin to start to see a broken and dying world around you. In this world the demons of hell have been let loose to play. Yet not so we should run and fear, but so we can learn to battle them and win! Jesus has overcome the world! Take His hand and ask Him how you can help speak the truth in love and pray for the oppressed. Ask Him to give you His compassion and love for others.

I ask you this, if you were to die tomorrow, would you have lived a life that glorified God or that glorified man? When you go before the judgement throne of God, will you know that you lived your life to point others to Jesus? Nobody is perfect, and you are not saved by your works, but faith without deeds is dead. God has a special calling on your life. A way that you can experience His power and glory in His Kingdom! Whether it be to do mission trips abroad, or help the homeless, or pray for the lost – whatever it is – just ask God to show you what He has for you. Life with Jesus is so much more exciting than anything else I have ever experienced. To know Him and partner with Him in this world is almost like heaven on earth. And it is available here and now for all of us.

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 1 John 5:4-5

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