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Monday, February 16, 2009

When We Think Our Sin Doesn't Stink

I was talking to a friend today about life, and how it makes such interesting twists and turns.
She is much younger than I am. In fact she is probably about the same age as my youngest son. :)
She and her sister have seen much heartache in this life, and as young people, they did not know the Lord. They turned their hearts and desires towards Him when they had already tread some paths that have brought them regret.

As we were talking, it dawned upon me that she had no idea of some of my life when I was younger. Because of the nature of our conversation, I was able to share a little with her about my earlier years.
She has felt that the problems she has faced in life are sometimes of the magnitude that many who have grown up in the church are completely unable to relate to her. Even though I did grow up within a broad Christian circle, my early married life took some horrific paths and I learned much about the grace and mercy of God through very difficult circumstances.

Unfortunately, I understand her conclusions about how SOME within the church deal with sin, with the effects of sin, with past sin, with new believers who have horrific pasts, and with those who are believers living in horrific conditions.

As I was talking to her, memories flooded in of me as a young mother seeking counsel about my situation. I walked away many times bewildered not only by the "casualness of what I was told, but the true lack of love I felt from those who were supposed to love me." If this was LOVE, I was in serious trouble.

I actually had a woman tell me one time, that she knew of another woman in my situation that obeyed God and submitted to her husband, and when He came at her with a hammer, she simply began to pray in tongues and he couldn't hit her! NO kidding. She used this example to show me where I had failed in my life and how I was in sin.

There was another man who called me and told me that I had no right to marry again. I was an adulteress and he went on and on. This same man had had numerous relationships with women of an inappropriate nature, though he himself only wanted to marry a pure woman.

Then, there was the time I went to MY OWN CHURCH (not the one I am in at present) to seek food for my family. A very grouchy assistant pastor came out and yelled at me, demanding to know, "How did you get yourself into this situation?" I had never met this man, nor had I ever asked for food before.
I was so embarrassed and horrified and humiliated, I left, with him then saying, "Wait, do you need food?" Well, yea, but not from you.

Let's see, How DID I get myself into that situation?
I purposely married a lousy man who used drugs and was an alcoholic. I purposely married a man who mistreated me and my children, because that is what I really wanted...... duh.....So I decided to give birth to 4 children within 4 years and live in poverty and I got myself into this situation because I was of such a vile and sinful nature that I could do no other. Oh yea, and I was a total idiot.

Sometimes, that is how those within the church make you feel. It is one of those situations where they approach you with a, "We've got it all together because we are special and it is our job to fix you and make you see things our way, and by the way, 'you really are an idiot'! "

When you go to them to share a real problem, you get to thinking, "this person has never missed a meal, the worst problem they have had in their entire life is a broken nail or the store didn't carry the right hair color, and... they think I'm an idiot."

Have I said idiot enough?

Those thoughts and feelings are very raw and very real. They are some of the reasons I stopped seeking any kind of counsel except on my knees in prayer and in the reading of my bible.
I say that today and I'm bothered by that. We SHOULD be able to seek godly counsel. We SHOULD be able to get help and be LOVED by the Body of Christ. We SHOULDN'T bear our burdens alone. But many do, for the very reasons I have stated above.

The problem is for those who have grown up in the church, including myself.... we don't see our sin as stinky. We don't see our true condition. We have a list of rights and wrongs and as long as we safely stay away from the 10 majors, then well, we are doing pretty good! Right? WRONG!!!!!We don't know that we are the ones who are poor, and hungry and naked.
That basically makes us Pharisees. The Pharisees were able to follow the law and even built laws around the law to make sure they didn't break the law. In fact, Paul stated that he followed the law perfectly! But Christ referred to them as "white washed seplechurs full of dead men's bones."

But Christ raised the bar of the law abit. He said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind, AND Love your neighbor as yourself." In His sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, he gives a very revealing sermon on what His desire is for us. "Love your enemy", turn the other cheek, if somebody takes your coat, give him your sweater as well."

For those who do talk to others who are struggling: Are we applying Christ's words? Are we loving that person as we would love ourselves. Are we treating them as we would want to be treated? Or are we shocked at the depth of their sin, and disgusted by their lack of spiritual awareness? Are we rightly dividing the word of Truth with them?

It is my hope that when somebody does seek counsel, they will find a wealth of love and support, both in the Word of God, in the spoken word and in deed; also that a clear picture of Christ will be presented and that they will walk away ready and excited about continuing down the path of Life, despite the problems they are facing. It is my hope and desire that those within the church who desire to counsel, will first be humble and know that if they have not experienced extreme hardship, it isn't because they are so special and they have made wonderful choices, but it is the blessing of God upon them and His mercy that has kept them, in spite of themselves.And this IS something to be thankful for!
And for those who HAVE gone through extreme hardship,that they would allow the Lord to use them to bring about HIS glory and that they would encourage others to press on to the finish line.
All of us... every one of us.... no matter how pretty, how pleasant, how ugly, how unpleasant, were born naked, and in desperate need of a Savior. We all come to know Him the same way; in Faith, through the precious blood of Christ.

5 comments:

Diana said...

Excellent post! There is nothing more amazing that the healing balm of our Savior.

One of my favorite sayings is "It doesn't matter where you've been, only where you're going." Sadly, too many get the impression that a church is a country club for saints. I suppose some people believ it is. But I prefer to think if them as hospitals for sinners.

JJ said...

Thanks for your honesty, Christie. I am so thankful for hardships that have helped me empathize with others. Steven and Mary Beth Champman were on Huckabee yesterday and he quoted the verse in II Cor., I believe that talks about how we can later comfort others with the comfort we ourselves received from the Holy Spirit.

How wonderful to have a Savior who walks with us to comfort us through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. To know that Jesus understands me, because He left His Heavenly Kingdom and experienced life on earth in human form is about as profound a thought as my pea brain can hold!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.

Lorraine said...

Thank you! I myself spent time as a young adult avoiding all Christians. The reason was the way I was treated by Christians. I was of another religion as a child and people who called themselves Christian assumed they knew what I personally beleived and made sure to take the time to tell me and critisize me. The problem was, they were wrong. My person beleifs did not match up with the religion of my parents. I was searching for the truth. They had it, but instead of simply sharing it with me, or starting by trying to find out what I did beleive. (turned out I was already Christian, found my own way by reading the Bible, praying and asking Christ into my heart) they just assumed and critisized. The first person who did not do that, the first person to acutually ask me what I beleived I married!

Mike and Christie said...

I wanted to follow up on this post to make sure that somebody doesn't casually read and think I do not value marriages staying together. That couldn't be further from the truth. There are cases where I do not believe that a re marriage should occur. There are also those who shouldn't marry at all.

Scripture must be upheld, but at the same time, the whole counsel of the word of God must be brought to light and not one verse from here of there to serve our pet purposes.

There are many situations in our own day and age that surface and pose terrible problems for an innocent spouse that would not have happened years ago during bible times, because the spouse would have been given the death penalty.

We need to consider that when counseling couples, or 1 part of a couple who has been abandoned.

It is sad, and divorce IS sin. It was granted because of the hardness of our hearts, and the effects of sin permeate for a long time.

I am very aware of the tragedy of children without a father, of the effects of divorce and single parenthood. At the same time, there ARE many cases where it is mercy on the children who live in fear.

I have been married to Mike for almost 20 years now, and we very much love each other and are committed to our family and each other.

I just wanted to make sure I didn't come off as uncaring about the seriousness of sin.

Mike and Christie said...

Lorraine,
Your story is precious. See you at camp soon!

You Are Still Holy

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