How To Live As Christians

I have been a Christian nearly all my life.  I have tried to live my life as an honest and loving and kind and generous person.  Through sickness and through divorce as well as through the deaths of my parents and my only two siblings I have tried to live striving to please God in all that I do.  I still need reminders, as I think that we all do, to live our life pleasing to God.  The Apostle Paul reminds the church in Thessalonica of how to live.  Let’s take a look.

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.  For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 4:1-2, (New International Version or NIV).

The very first thing I notice here in this passage is that we are to live our lives to please God and not ourselves.  That is a tall order if you really think about it.  So much of my life is doing the things that I want to do; the things that I think need to be done.  I wake up in the morning thinking that today I will do laundry or today I will go grocery shopping or today I will sew a baby blanket or quilt.  I go through the day deciding what I will eat and when I will eat it.  I think about who I will pray for unless God prompts my memory in some way to pray for someone.  I take my son to school and pick him up when school ends.  I do what needs done each day and I don’t really consciously think of living to please God.  Do you?  Be honest now because this is an important reminder to us all.  Let’s see what else Paul says.

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.  1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, (NIV).

I have often wondered what the will of God is for my life and now Paul begins to explain to us what God’s will is.  I better sit up and listen to this next part because God’s will is my desire.  First we are set apart, that is what sanctified means, we are now holy humans because we have the blood of Jesus covering our sins.  As holy humans we need to live a different life than other humans who are not holy because we are separated from them by our holiness.  So how do we differentiate ourselves from non-holy humans?  Paul tells us.  I wonder why the very first behavior that we are to change on Paul’s list is to not be sexually immoral.  In fact Paul says to avoid sexual immorality, does that mean that we just don’t participate or does that mean we don’t go anywhere near sexual impurity?  I think both.  We are not to be a partner in sexual immorality which is participation.  But we are also not to encourage sexual immorality in others.  Some may say that porn is not bad because they aren’t actually participating in the act of sex while viewing it but I believe God considers viewing porn the same as doing the act of sex.  If you don’t believe me then look at Matthew 5:28 and read what Jesus has to say.   Paul goes on to tell us that every one of us needs to learn to control our sex drive and to not give in to lust of any kind.  Why?  The reason why is because non-holy humans, or pagans as Paul calls them, live only for their lusty desires and they don’t restrain their sexual thoughts or actions. The world thinking now and has always been to seek something you are passionate about and then do it to please yourself.  And I thought that the sexual revolution only started in the 1960’s!  Boy was I wrong!  And not only are we to control our bodies but we are to never take advantage of our sisters and brothers in Christ, just don’t do it!  This would include husbands who think they can basically rape their wife at any time and from things I hear marital rape still happens.  God is serious about this aspect of our lives.  In the context of this passage Paul is talking about sexual behavior but I think we can also include the broader scope and say that it is wrong for any Christian to take advantage of another Christian.  We are not to swindle or cheat or overcharge them or take advantage of them in any way.  Doing so will bring God’s punishment upon you.  That is pretty serious don’t you think?

Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.  1 Thessalonians 4:9-12, (NIV).

Paul praises this church for the love that they show one another as well as fellow travelling Christians.  They knew how to love.  Do we today I wonder?  Is your church known for the love they have for one another and for those in your region of the world?  I wish I knew what their church programs were like.  I wonder if they were feeding the poor and taking care of orphans and widows.  I wonder if they were helping the ill and divorced.  I wonder what their outreach program was like.  I really wonder how my church would compare to their church in the love department.  I know that my church has a once a month fellowship dinner and I rarely attend.  Shame on me I guess.  I will work to improve my attendance.  I know that my church has a prayer request page and I pray for people often whom I don’t even know when I see their name and need on that page.  My church participates in several mission projects and so do I.  But to tell you the truth I have never been in another Christian’s home since moving here a little over two years ago and I have never invited anyone to my home.  I need to work on getting to know my church family better.  Otherwise how can I show them I love them!  Paul urges the church members from Thessalonica to be more loving and to do more.  I think he is urging me to do more too, how about you?

Paul also teaches in this passage that we need to mind our own business and to work hard to not be a burden on anyone.  In doing this we are leading the quiet life that God intends for us to lead.  When you look at this all in one thought it appears that Paul is saying to live a quiet life minding your own business taking care of your own family needs but at the same time help out whomever you can.  Just don’t gossip about it!  Don’t become a nuisance to them.  Don’t be a busy-body.  Don’t wear out your welcome!  I think that my church and probably most churches today do a really fine job of not being a busy-body in other people’s lives. A good question to ask is why are we to live this kind of life?  I think Paul is saying that living life in this way we will gain the respect and notice of non-holy humans and they will see the difference in our way of living versus their way.  That is how God is glorified and hopefully those people will want to become followers of Christ too.  Are you living a life pleasing to God?

Until next time…Katherine

What Are You Known For?

I was thinking about reputations the other day.  I wonder what people think or say about me.  I hope this doesn’t sound too self-centered but I do wonder what people think about me and I guess that I am honest enough to admit it.  I want to have a good reputation because when you really strip everything away, all the glitz, the glamour, the power, and money your reputation is all that is left.  God has a good reputation and I want to be like Him and maybe that is part of my motivation.  I want my reputation to be authentic and real and honest.  I don’t want to deceive myself into thinking I am a good Christian, I want to be a good Christian!  The Apostle Paul was really quick to sum up people’s reputation and I hope that people think of me as Paul thought of Philemon.

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.  Philemon 1:4-7, (English Standard Version or ESV).

There are several people who I think of with such feelings and words as Paul thought of Philemon.  Like Philemon they are people of faith and they are authentic and are always an encouragement to be around.  I know that some of them are praying for me just as I pray for them.  Some of them will actually ask me to pray for others that they are praying for and I am always honored to do so.  The people who come to my mind who I think of as Paul did Philemon are much more active in sharing their faith than I am.  They have jobs that help them come into contact with people all the time where I am a stay-at-home Mom who sees few people each day.  I pray for them that they can have openings to share their faith with others.  I always love to hear their stories when we finally connect and have time to catch up with each other’s lives.  Philemon had a good reputation and Paul knew it.  I hope the people who know me feel that I am a person of faith and integrity as well.  Let’s look at some other reputations in the Bible.

After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him. And all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage. Then the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate said to Mordecai, “Why do you transgress the king’s command?” And when they spoke to him day after day and he would not listen to them, they told Haman, in order to see whether Mordecai’s words would stand, for he had told them that he was a Jew. And when Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage to him, Haman was filled with fury. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone. So, as they had made known to him the people of Mordecai, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.  Esther 3:1-6, (ESV).

Here is a plot that is thickening and two players are at odds, Haman verses Mordecai the Jew.  Which one has a good reputation and which one has a bad reputation?  It depends on who you talk to and which side you are on.  Haman was well thought of by King Ahasuerus and the entire court of the King.  He had a good reputation but he hated Mordecai who would not give him the honor Haman felt was due.  Mordecai was well thought of among the Jews and it wasn’t long until the King heard of the good that Mordecai had done for him and had Haman give honor to Mordecai.

Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.” So Haman took the robes and the horse, and he dressed Mordecai and led him through the square of the city, proclaiming before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.”  Esther 6:10-11, (ESV).

You can read the book of Esther and see how this all works out but I will give you a spoiler alert…the one with the good reputation wasn’t Haman.  I don’t want to be a people pleasure like Haman who kisses up to people to gain favor.  I don’t want to be a person that looks good on the outside but is rotten to the core on the inside.  Mordecai was a good man and I am so glad that the ending of this story is that Mordecai’s reputation was restored and the Jewish nation was saved from extermination.  Queen Esther intervened on behalf of her people and that was a good thing for the Jews.

Reputations are important.  Some people have good reputations and some people have bad reputations.  I don’t think that we should judge people but we are to be discerning and we should strive to have a good reputation, a reputation for doing good.  So here is my short list of what I view as a good reputation.

 

1). A person who doesn’t lie or cheat, steal, or covet is a person of integrity and of good reputation.

2). A person who loves the Lord and is always rejoicing even during times of difficulties is a person of good reputation.

3). Someone who is generous to everyone regardless of who they are but especially generous to other Christians is a person of good reputation.

4). If God thinks what I am doing is righteous then I will continue to do it and His opinion is all that really matters.

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.  Proverbs 22:1, (ESV).

You know that is it!  If everything that I do is run past God through prayer and studying His Word and He approves then I guess it doesn’t really matter what others think of me.  What does matter, though, is that they see Jesus in me and that they see me doing things that encourage and lift up Jesus to the world and to the church.  This is what is so much more important than my own reputation because I am an ambassador for the King of Kings!  Let us never get tired of doing good because we do it for Jesus!  So glad I finally figured it out!

Until next time…Katherine

Hey Jude

There is a little Epistle tucked away near the end of the Bible after Third John and before Revelation.  It was written by the brother of James whose famous brother was Jesus Christ.  We know this because the first verse tells us who the author of Jude was.  There are many who believe that Jesus was the only child of Mary but the Bible doesn’t teach that doctrine and so I will take the position that the one who penned this Epistle was one of Mary and Joseph’s younger boys named Jude.  Jude didn’t believe in Christ until after Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection.  I can only imagine what a shock it was to Jude to have been shown that his big brother was the Messiah!  No wonder Jude became a believer.  He has a short note to all believers and I think it is one we need to study because of the relevance it has on our era and time in history.  So let’s read it together.

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.  Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.  For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Jude 1:1-4, (English Standard Version or ESV).  

Jude obviously had a different subject in mind to write to his friend but at the last moment he changed his mind.  I think we can all appreciate that happening.  We have something we want to encourage someone with and we call to talk to them and end up talking about something entirely different.  Perhaps he learned of something that worried him and so he wrote to express his concern to his friends.  He warns that there are people who have snuck into the church fellowship that are not really Christians but are wolves in sheep’s clothing.  What does this mean?  It means that the group Jude was writing to had someone in their midst that was not being honest with the group and had motives that were not pure.  If the church back at the time of this writing had false teachers trying to disrupt and sway Christians away from the truth then wouldn’t we believe that there are people today in the churches that have the same motive to disrupt and create a false teaching?  I think so!   This should remind all of us to be careful what we read or hear taught and be vigilant to compare it with the Bible to see if it is true.  I can think of several issues in our culture and day that are false teachings and are creeping into churches today.  Can you?

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.  And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.  Jude 1:5-7, (ESV).

Well that stings!  Not only does Jude speak about some of the very sins that have crept into the church today but he also warns that if we tolerate and allow these false teachings to continue what will happen to us.  After all if Jesus didn’t tolerate disobedience from the Jewish nation when He brought them out of Egypt, then why do we expect that we can defile Jesus’s or God’s teachings?  Wait a minute…wasn’t it God who led the people from Egypt?  Well the truth is Jesus and God and The Holy Spirit have been working together all through the ages and so Jude simply points this out.  Angels were punished and so were the inhabitants of the two most famous examples of immoral behavior.  It would be a good study for you to go back and read beginning in Genesis 19 the account of Sodom and Gomorrah and how Abraham pleaded with the angels who came to destroy the two cities to spare the people if there were any righteous men left.  It is a stark reminder to us today as it was to the original readers of this Epistle that God and Jesus don’t tolerate sins and judgement doesn’t escape sinners.  What else does Jude say?

Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones.  But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”  But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.  Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.  These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”  These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.  Jude 1:8-16, (ESV).

We must remember that the receivers of this Epistle did not have the Bible as we know it today to study and learn from.  They relied heavily on the Old Testament and the Holy Spirit and dreams have always been a part of prophecy.  Jude warns that not all dreams are righteous and that there is a consistency in the teachings of the Bible, Old and New Testaments alike.  We also need to understand this fundamental truth and not fall for false teachings.  Spirituality alone is not enough to escape judgement and hell.  Obedience and grace and seeking the truth must be a part of our spiritual life.  Again Jude describes these false teachers and what they teach.  Do you see any similarities to our day and what is taught in some so-called churches today?  I sure do.  There are no surprises to Jesus or to God when it comes to our lives on this earth.  People have over the centuries done some barbaric things and sinned egregiously and we today are also sinful and in need of a Savior and must keep ourselves pure from this world.   How does Jude end this?

But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.”  It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.  But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.  And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.  Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.  Jude 1:17-25, (ESV).

Jude reminds us that the Apostles of Christ foretold of the things to come in the last days and so it is today as well.  There are those who twist the truth to fit their own sinful desires and think that they will be in heaven.  As always these people think that there is strength in numbers so they try to get as many people on board with their belief to feel justified.  The sad truth for them and their followers is that God has always had a moral standard and it never changes.  Sin is sin because God is the one who decides what sin is and what it isn’t.  That is God’s call and not our culture’s.  Our culture teaches that so many things are acceptable and sadly many believe the culture but God sets the standards and will judge the world including you and me on His standard and not ours.  We need to be sure that the church we attend is teaching us the truth and not a form of truth that isn’t really truth at all.   These are tough words to hear but so important to understand and obey.  Thank you Lord for the Bible and the ability to read and comprehend and understand as it certainly helps me to obey.

Until next time…Katherine

Musings From The Past

I ran across some writing I did a few years ago while in the midst of the aftermath of a contentious divorce that I thought was worth sharing with you all.  It was winter of 2010 and I remember we were in the midst of a blizzard.  The winds were blowing at least 40-50 MPH and you can read it for yourself!

A few days ago I fell.  It was during a horrific massive winter storm that blew an eight foot piece of siding trim off the side of my house.  I donned my coat, boots, and gloves and chased after the siding.   I felt responsible for it blowing off and felt I should retrieve it before anyone or anything was harmed by it.  I chased the siding a block, bent down to pick it up, had it in my hands and a big gust of wind hit me and I was on the ground before I even knew what happened and the siding blew farther away from me.  I felt like someone had pushed me from behind, that is how hard the gust of wind hit me.  I stood up, took one step to steady myself and the gust of wind hit me hard again, I was knocked off-balance, stumbled five steps to recover and fell prostrate in the street.  Then I could not get up, it was as if the wind was holding me down.  The temperature was ten degrees below zero Fahrenheit, and I crawled to the curb, pulled myself into a sitting position and cried out loudly, “Lord, help me, I need your help!”  No one was around to help me.  I finally struggled to my feet, slowly walked to where the trim lay, bent down carefully and when I got it into my hands, I hung on for dear life and walked against the wind the block home.  After I was inside my home, I went into shock.  I had bruises, muscle aches, a nose bleed, and frost bite on my nose and forehead.  Three days later I am sorer than I was the day I fell.

 I believe that this is a great analogy as to how we feel in the midst and after we have experienced divorce.  We are sailing along in life doing fine, and then sin enters our lives and knocks us off our feet.  Maybe it was our own sin that caused us to stumble or maybe it was our spouse’s sin that caused the stumbling.  Either way, we stumble through, until we cry out for God’s help and the recovery slowly begins toward healing.  In the healing part of life, we still have pain.  In fact the pain three years later is sometimes more difficult to cope with than the pain at the beginning of our divorce journey.  But, it is a good pain, one that we know and recognize as a healing pain.  We are no longer devoured by Satan as I was devoured by the wind and do you know why?  Because we cried out to Jesus and asked for divine help, the only help that heals us completely.

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.  If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best in the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.”  For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.  Isaiah 1:18-20, (English Standard Version or ESV).

I love these verses; the Lord helps make reason of an unreasonable situation.  The Lord forgives my sins and makes me clean again.  The Lord says that the disobedient one will be dealt with by our Lord and not by me.  Don’t pick on one of God’s kids!  We are protected!  That doesn’t mean we won’t fall or get pushed around by Satan, but we have someone in our corner that will make a path of escape for us.  He lifted me up when I fell. He comforted me when I hurt. He loves me for eternity.  Thank you God, for being there for me when I needed you so much.  Thank you God, for loving my ex enough to show mercy a little longer to give him time to repent and be saved.  Thank you God for taking care of my family and for taking such good care of me.  May you find healing to be a blessing in your life today and know that you are not alone.  Peace to you on this blessed day, a gift from our Father in Heaven.

As you can see I had really been beaten up by the wind and sub-zero temperatures that day.  I still remember how I shook and how sore my muscles and frost bite were the day I wrote these words.  I think it is a real and true analogy of how sin can trap us if we are not careful.  Satan wants us to sin and wants us to follow him rather than the one true God!  Sometimes our spiritual battles that we fight are as painful as my ordeal that day.  Had I not been able to get back on my feet I would have frozen to death right there in the middle of the street!  Have you ever had a time when you felt beaten up by Satan?  How did you get help to survive?  I imagine that you also called out to the Lord for help, just like I did that day.  It is so wonderful that God is always faithful and hears our cries for help.  I know that God helped me get up that day and be strong enough to get back to my home safely.

The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the guard:  “Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is his name: Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.  Jeremiah 33:1-3, (ESV).

Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction; they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death.  Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.  He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.  Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!  And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!  Psalm 107: 17-22, (ESV).

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  Matthew 7:7-8, (ESV).

Throughout the Old Testament God was faithful to hear His people and answer their cries for help.  In the New Testament Jesus states very clearly that if we seek God we will find Him and all we need to do is ask and we will be given what we need.  I love that God is so faithful to His people, to we Christians who love Jesus!  I love that we can turn to the Creator of everything for help when we need it!  Every generation has the faithfulness of God to work out a solution to our dilemma!  When our human strength and courage fails us we ask God to help us and with divine power He works marvelous things for our good.  I hope this story from my past will encourage you today in your walk of faith with Jesus!

Until next time…Katherine

Okay, I’m Divorced!

I never realized just how prejudice society and the Church is to people like me who are divorced.  Everywhere I go I have to say that I am divorced.  At the doctor’s office I have to state that I am divorced and then in big letters I see the word DIVORCED on my chart.  Why is my marital status any of their business?  I mean really!  Does being divorced make me less healthy?  Does being divorced mean that I have a higher risk of disease?  I think not!  My son’s school continues to mail letters to Mr. & Mrs. when I have informed them that I am not married.  If my son is not having problems in school why is it any of their business that he is being raised in a single-parent home?  I mean really!  Even my insurance company states that I am divorced!  For crying out loud!  Why should it matter to them as long as I pay my premiums! And then going to church is always difficult when meeting new people and they find out I am divorced.  I think that many people remarry just to stop feeling so stigmatized about being divorced.  Why do I have to tell details of my divorce in order to be accepted by my fellow Christians?  Really tell me why!  I am not a shy person and I do not hesitate to tell people I am divorced when asked about my marital status but really is it any of their business?  So my standard answer has become, “After thirty-five years of marriage he had an affair and left so we divorced.”   End of story.  And yet I feel the uneasiness that comes until someone really gets to know me and realizes that I am an authentic Christian just like them even though they are still married.  I never ask them which marriage it is for them, first, second, third and so forth.  Maybe I should.  It might be interesting to realize just how many of them have been married before.  Somehow the divorced person who prefers to remain single is the oddity.  Well excuse me but I don’t like being considered the oddity or the anomaly or the weird one just because I am single because I’m divorced!  I wonder how many people avoid coming to church because they have felt uncomfortable as well.  I wonder how many people avoid getting acquainted with me because I am divorced.   I get tired of being stereotyped.  Is anyone feeling the same way that I am?

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”  “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”  Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.  I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”  Matthew 19:3-9, (New International Version or NIV).

Where in this passage does Jesus say to brand the innocent person in a divorce with the big D?  Oh, I have heard it all; you must have been part of the problem.  Well how would you know, were you a part of our marriage?  You should have worked harder to keep your man.  Really; and how hard do you work to keep yours happy?  What would make a decent man have an affair, (implying that I did something wrong or am not decent)?  I don’t know, why don’t you go ask him instead of me?  You know how all you women are, you always want to take over and run the show and run over men, what does that even mean?  Like I chased him away?  I don’t think so! Ministers who counsel those going through a divorce don’t really understand all the dynamics involved.  I want them to know that there really is such a thing as an innocent spouse.  That doesn’t mean that we are perfect but it does mean that we did everything right and still the marriage went down the road to divorce.  We prayed, we pleaded, we tried to get the other person into counseling, we tried to get them into church but nothing worked and so there was nothing else we could do but unwillingly participate in a divorce we neither wanted, believed in, nor desired!  I have never heard of a pastor volunteer to go and talk to the unrepentant spouse and maybe that is the problem.  The church doesn’t want to get involved.  I wonder what the Apostle Paul would have done in such a situation.  Somehow I don’t see him standing on the sidelines just watching the divorce disaster play out!  I think the most insulting things I have heard is the assumption that I would remarry.  Why should I?  At my age there are few good men left and they aren’t interested in a fat old woman like me!  No!  I will remain single and will continue to try to change the minds of the judgmental that judging everyone who is divorced as being less than is not appropriate.  I have some advice for church leaders today when it comes to ministry and the divorced.

First of all build into your program a support ministry for the single, divorced, and widowed just as you do for the married.  Single parents need the churches support not only for spiritual guidance but also for learning how to socialize again.

Secondly build in support for single parents.  Many of us are dealing with dysfunctional non-custodial parents and need the protection of the church as well as good role models of healthy men and women for our children.  In my case I need male input into my son’s life.  I would love it if some of the men would teach my son how to pound nails and use a saw or go fishing.

Budgets are tight for single households so why not have a day to help out with changing the oil on our cars or fix the furnace or fix some of the small jobs around our homes.  Right now I need my toilet repaired as well as my garage door repaired.  That would not only be a big boost financially for me but also I would feel greatly loved by my church family if I had such help.  I am sure the widows could use some help too.

Holidays are hard for many divorced people.  For some they are not being with their children since it may be the other person’s turn to have them.  For others it means that they are lonely. And of course budgets are tight for many.  I would love to attend a party that celebrated Christmas for singles.  I avoid Valentine Day banquets because I don’t feel comfortable so why not have a single’s Valentine banquet and if there are only two or three that sign up for it then take them to a restaurant and have a wonderful time together!  In other words, seek us out because we avoid crowds during any holiday!

The church is to minister to all who attend and not just the married people and if the planning teams will remember that I think church would be able to reach more people for the Lord.  I have to be honest I never gave the single or divorced much thought when I was married and attending church.  I chatted with all my married friends and socialized with them as well sometimes.  I would speak to the single but never really thought much about what they might be needing from me.  Now I have a whole different attitude and I try to speak to the women who are sitting alone and try to take time to really hear them.  I really don’t know how many women are divorced in my church and I have no idea how many men are but I think we all should feel like a family, don’t you?

Until next time…Katherine

Who Are Your Peers

I was reading in Proverbs recently and was struck at the many verses that remind us all that who we hang around and socialize with is important.  My parents always told us to make sure that our friends were doing us good and not harm and I always thought that was rather old-fashioned.  But now that I am much older I can see the wisdom of their words.  I always told my children not to lower their standards to conform to their friends but instead bring their friends up to their standards of what is right and wrong.  I didn’t want them to make a mistake by going along with their friends if their friends were doing wrong.  My Mom used to say the old standard saying, “I suppose if all your friends jumped off a cliff you would too!”  I said that to my children as well and thankfully we are all alive today and have stayed away from the cliffs!  I bet your parents told you the same thing.  You see parents know that when teens get together it is the peer pressure that makes good kids do bad things and so my Mom didn’t want me to be pressured into doing wrong just as I didn’t want my children to do wrong either.  Mom and Dad never got a call from the police station and neither did I so I guess the advice was well followed!   The writer of Proverbs, King Solomon, knew a lot about avoiding trouble.

Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6, (New American Standard Bible or NASB).

I can’t tell you how much this verse means to me!  I count on this promise daily and I always hope that my children, the three adult kids and the one still at home, will be brought back to the Lord if they ever stray away!  It is a comforting verse but there are other verses that are comforting as well and not just for children but also for us adults.  Who we hang around is important too.

He who sows iniquity will reap vanity, And the rod of his fury will perish.  He who is generous will be blessed, For he gives some of his food to the poor.

Drive out the scoffer, and contention will go out,  Even strife and dishonor will cease.  He who loves purity of heart And whose speech is gracious, the king is his friend.

The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, But He overthrows the words of the treacherous man.  Proverbs 22:8-12, (NASB).

I have thought a lot about this passage of scripture.  If all a person does is be vain then the end result of all their vanity is anger.  Have you ever thought about it that way?  Think of someone who is extremely vain either among your friends or a celebrity and there are lots of vain celebrities around.  When you have to be around a person who is vain you have to constantly compliment them, constantly feed their ego or otherwise you endure their wrath!  The evil step-mother of almost any Disney movie personifies this Proverb.  I can’t help but notice the contrast of a vain person to a generous person.  That would be the person I want to model my life after rather than the vain person.  I like being around kind people who are generous with their time and talent and money.

Also it is tough for me to hang around with a scoffer.  You know the type, nothing satisfies them and they are constantly making fun of everyone and everything.  The also make fun of God and I dislike that behavior very much.  When we get that kind of person out of our life we can live a much more peaceful life because we are no longer being rubbed the wrong way, no longer having to put up with their twisted manipulative way.  Contrast a scoffer with someone who loves honestly and with purity and that is the type of person I want as a friend.  I hope that I am this kind of friend to my friends too.  There is nothing better than to have a friend who is kind and gracious.

Who is watching over the vain and the generous as well as the scoffer and the gracious?  You guessed it, God is watching and seeing all and hearing every word spoken and unspoken.  I do not want to be at war with God like the vain and the scoffers are. I want to be in heaven and I want to serve Jesus Christ and I want to love God and live my life righteously.  Then when God sees and hears my words spoken and unspoken I want God to be pleased with me.  I hope you want the same as well.  But if we hang with those who are vain and scoff then we are more likely to become just like them.  Here are some more of Proverbs that tell us plainly who not to be around and why.

Do not associate with a man given to anger; Or go with a hot-tempered man, Or you will learn his ways And find a snare for yourself.  Proverbs 22:24-25, (NASB).

Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, Or desire his delicacies; For as he thinks within himself, so he is.  He says to you, “Eat and drink!”  But his heart is not with you.  Proverbs 23:6-7, (NASB).

Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, For he will despise the wisdom of your words.  Proverbs 23:9, (NASB).

Do not let your heart envy sinners, But live in the fear of the LORD always.  Surely there is a future, And your hope will not be cut off.  Proverbs 23:17-18, (NASB).

Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, Or with gluttonous eaters of meat; For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, And drowsiness will clothe one with rags.  Proverbs 23:20-21, (NASB).

I don’t know about you but I think this is a pretty good list of things not to do because the end result of hanging with people who are angry and selfish and foolish and envious and heavy drinkers as well as gluttons is that they won’t be in heaven.  If you hang around and socialize with this group of people it won’t be long and you will be just like them!  And then you won’t be in heaven either.  I can’t help but notice how this list is all about attitude.  We need to have a good attitude and the way we get and keep a good attitude is to stay grounded in God and the best way to do that is more than just reading the Bible.  It is more than just praying.  It is more than just doing good things for others.  It is also making sure that the people we socialize with are Christians as well because there is strength in togetherness and we will be thankful when at the end of our days we meet Jesus and He says, “Welcome home!”

Until next time…Katherine

So You Think I Am Controlling!

I heard from my son that a certain someone thinks I am a controlling Mother and does not allow him any freedom.  Hmmm!  I have contemplated this thought and here is my response as an open letter to everyone that thinks this about me or any other single parent facing a similar situation.  So you think I am too controlling of my son.  Well guess what?  You are absolutely correct, I am controlling.

I have taught my son to control his anger and frustration for many years now.  From the beginning he has never understood why some people want to intrude into his life unwelcome and undesired.  Many times over the years I have had an angry and confused and frightened little boy whom I have helped to control his emotions by wrapping my arms tightly around him to calm him and rock him and soothe him when things aren’t as he would like them to be.

I have taught him to control his tongue and not say anything except kind and good words.  He thinks before he speaks so that the words that come out of his mouth are true and honest and worth hearing.  I have taught him to ignore anything he deems inappropriate that he might hear.  I have taught him to remain calm and ignore and tolerate when it is necessary.  I have taught him to be kind in speech to everyone regardless of who they are.

I have taught my son to control his emotions and to live his life grounded in reality rather than in a state of fantasy.   He is becoming a solid and stable young man who does not and will not have a life that is frenzied or chaotic.  I am sure that he will be a man of integrity and will bring pleasantness to every life he touches.

I have taught my son to control his behavior because a man who practices self-discipline is rare these days and we need more of them.  He is learning to do a good job at whatever he is asked to do.  He is taught not to lie or cheat or hate anyone.  Rather he is learning that loyalty to one’s family and to one’s friends and to one’s country and to one’s God is the hallmark of a good Christian.  And he wants to be pleasing to God above all else.

I have taught my son to control his attitude.  I have taught him to love freely and without prejudice.  I have taught him to be positive regardless of the negativity surrounding him.  I have taught him that real winners are not the richest or the most handsome or the ones who drive a fancy car but the ones who live their life pleasing God and not themselves.  In return God is blessing him with good and wonderful attitudes that not only glorify God but benefit others who are fortunate enough to know him.

I have taught my son to control his opinions and to make sure that he keeps disapproving opinions to himself.  There is nothing worse than to listen to someone who expounds their opinions on everything without taking other people’s feelings into consideration.  He has opinions and when it’s appropriate he shares them but when it’s inappropriate he doesn’t.

I have taught my son to control his life by living with integrity, honesty, mercy, grace, and a willingness to be helpful and useful to others.  He has a servant’s heart and that is not a character flaw but a blessing!  He knows how to entertain himself as well as get along with others and to work with others well.  Sometimes he struggles like we all do but he is learning to be a man without the input of many men and I am proud of him as I know many others are as well.

So you were right, I am controlling of my son.  You may think he needs a cell phone but doesn’t need one because he doesn’t want one.  The reason is quite simple; he has Skype on his computer and uses it often to talk face-to-face with friends and family members who are interested in him.  He has the freedom to use the landline anytime he wants to call whomever he wants and often does exactly that.  He doesn’t need criticism or innuendos that his Mom is not doing her job well.  What he needs is love and support and acceptance, something his Mom gives freely to him.

To all who are reading this, I hope that you will choose your words carefully when talking about someone you may not particularly like in front of someone else.  Words are not easily forgotten especially when they are meant to hurt rather than build up.  It makes me think of a scripture.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  Ephesians 4:29-32, (New International Version).

My intent in writing this post is not to put anyone down but rather to remind all of us that we need to be careful with our words and our attitudes.  We need to be uplifting to others and be a blessing rather than a curse.  My son is a wonderful young man and I hope that everyone who knows him can see just how wonderful he really is.  My hope is that they will see what they deem as controlling is not a bad thing.  Someone needs to be in control of a child’s/youth’s life and teach them to control their own behavior, actions, attitudes, and minds and bodies.  Somebody needs to step up and thankfully I have been that someone!  It is called parenting and every child needs good parenting!  Or otherwise our world will be a bigger mess than it already is!  Hang in there single parent and keep doing your job well.  Don’t be discouraged by what others imply.  Realize that you are not alone on this journey in life, you have God, you have Jesus, and you have the Holy Spirit as well as many friends and family members and church family members that are cheering you on!  God bless you for being a good parent!

Until next time…Katherine