All My Divorces

Divorce has always been my unwanted companion even before I experienced one for myself.  My mom and dad divorced when I was four and all my grandparents were divorced from one another too.  My mom went on to have two more divorces after my dad, before I even hit my thirties.

I was pretty much puttering in line with this pattern before Jesus interrupted.

God reached down and saved me when I was twenty-two years old, or maybe that’s when I answered his call.  Regardless, by that time, I was five months pregnant and married to a physically abusive man who desired to be the neighborhood drug dealer.  Suffice it to say I was divorced before our only son became a toddler.

So there I was, a freshly divorced baby Christian.  The “divorce” label in a church community definitely felt bad enough, but I also had a beast named CONDEMNATION following me wherever I went.  I didn’t really need the the judgement of people because I was my most severe judge already.

The Holy Spirit and other believers placed in my life interrupted my tormented mind and helped me to cripple this condemnation beast.  It would literally take four more blogs to explain how this beast was crippled in my life, and one day I hope to write an entire book dedicated to the subject, but for now I will share just one incident.

I decided to go up to the mountain to pray.  Just me, my bible, and a pen to hopefully rid myself of this beast for good.  When I got to my spot I stayed in the car because it was freezing.  I sensed God’s incredible power as the wind whipped.  The mountains were so big, and I was so small. It was then that I heard that still small voice as clear as day, “Mark 3”.  I know the word pretty well but I was not sure what was in Mark 3 exactly.  I read it diligently. I admit I questioned if I heard The Lord correctly since what I was reading wasn’t making sense for my immediate need.  But than verse 28 and 29 hit me upside the head. God spoke powerfully to me that day.

28 “Assuredly, I say to you, ALL sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; 29 but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation”— 

That verse did for me what all the scriptures on divorce couldn’t.  That one verse put divorce in its place. Divorce was sin. And divorce was not even the unforgivable sin!  There are many sins in this life we can involve ourselves in but according to Mark 3:28 they ALL CAN be forgiven.  I know I did not blaspheme the Holy Spirit because I still desire God. I desire to walk with him and obey him.  I desire to love him.

I would love to say condemnation went out of my life for good at this point but that would be a lie. Satan was still telling me that I was a second rate Christian, that God tolerates me, that my second marriage was illegitimate. I still struggled with these thoughts mentally for a few years until the Lord delivered me of it for good in a prayer meeting.

I was not present at the cross to see Jesus crucified.  I believe this by faith. I did not see Noah’s ark or the world wide flood. I just have faith that it was.  I have faith that at the moment of my death I will be carried to heaven and not deposited into hell because I believe in what Christ did for me on the cross. So I must have faith that Jesus covers me like a clean white robe of righteousness. I must believe that Satan desires to keep me depressed and ineffective so I cannot tell others about the freedom in Christ… that in Jesus Christ, condemnation is a lie!

Words from a bestie: “You can’t understand why Christ has forgiven you because you don’t deserve it. But no one deserves it.  That’s why GRACE angers so many religious and pride-filled people. They can’t earn it.”

Have you struggled with this condemnation and/or divorce beast? What has helped you? Do share.

 

 

 

 

 

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Condemnation, Calvinism, and Grandpas

This past weekend I debated the Bible with my 81 year-old grandfather.  He’s getting old and believes something created humanity but is not personally involved with us and praying to “it” would be as effective as praying to a coke can. He knew I was once on drugs and trashing my life and he also knows my life has drastically changed its course. But to him, I had some of his “blood” and/or genes therefor, I persevered and pulled myself out of it on my own.

Our debates were not heated. I love my grandfather so much.  He’s funny, strong, smart, and hard-working.  He has failed in certain areas, which devastated some people, but enjoyed much success in his corporate life as a younger man which benefited many as well.

When our conversation was over, I threw up my proverbial hands in my head and surrendered. I gave my best arguments. I even shared some intimate prophetic details of my existence, thinking fulfilled prophecy would convince him. Nope. To him it remains coincidence. During our debate it became painfully aware that my grandfather was smarter than I am and his debate skills were superior to mine, just like his intelligence quotient.

Ok God. This man has absolutely no concern for you nor does he feel he needs you, even though he will be crossing over in the not-too-distant future.

Psalm 14:3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

Here’s some verses that really piss me off and God knows it. However, I surrender. I am so convinced of his existence and biblical truth that I will bow my knee to him.

Romans 9:20 Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? 22 In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction. 23 He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory. 24 And we are among those whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles.

You don’t hear that much in Sunday church. Why? Can God not defend himself?

I never really cared to debate Calvinism, Armenianism, and Lutheranism with people. Now I wonder if God is having me to think about these doctrines because it is shaping some issues in my life. It all started with a You Tube titled, “Can I Lose My Salvation?” By Mark Driscoll.  Mark’s answer is basically a no. He believes in the doctrine of election and while he is not a “Calvinist”, he agrees with much of Calvin’s interpretation of biblical doctrine. When your “picked” your “picked”.

My problem is condemnation. Ever since I was born again by the Holy Spirit, Satan found it amusing to tempt me to doubt my salvation. He mostly would use my divorce when I was newly saved and also uses every time I fail to get me to doubt God’s hold on me. Satan has used church people to perpetuate this lie and that was an extremely powerful tactic. However, with my knees feeble and shaking, I get back up in faith and choose to believe. God didn’t pull me out of that depraved wicked sewer for nothing. I was once lost and now I am found…it was his power, not mine and that’s why I’m convinced of biblical truth, and that’s why I love him.

For me, its powerful to believe I have a father that predestined me to be a vessel of honor (Romans 9) and his irresistible grace (Calvinism tulip point #5) drew me into my election that was made before I even married an abusive drug dealer in 1999. As I walk in the security that Satan may not tempt me into depression through a condemned mindset, joy, strength, and confidence flow out of me. I am than able to accomplish the good works the Lord prepared for me to do before I was even born (Ephesians 2:10).

Imagine your in a marriage and divorce is considered an option and maybe your spouse even threatens you with it. You are than operating out of a shaky foundation and are than tempted with giving up because, after all, there is a good chance, according to your performance, that you will end up divorced.

It seems, for the elect, there is security. But who is elect, and who is not, is not for you or I to determine based off many scriptures, but here is just one:

2 Timothy 2:25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. 26 Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.

I will continue further in studying this concept…but I will say believing that the Lord is more like a loving parent, than a God who is ready to deposit me into hell according to my performance, or a spouse willing to divorce me if I mess up one to many times, is freeing. To believe that God has elected me as a vessel of honor before I was even born (Jeremiah 1:5   “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you”) disengages Satan’s condemnation weaponry within my mind.  If you want to guarantee insecurity and depression inside of a person, put their security with you on a rocky foundation.

But it is love and unconditional commitment that changes people and brings the blessing. My dear grandpa knows what I stand for. Now my duty is to love him and tryst God with the rest.

A Tragically Beautiful Woman

(Originally Written May of 2010)

megan-fox

While finishing up my degree at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, I took a part time job at a tanning salon. I encountered many women who were impatient and selfish with their identity all wrapped up in their sex appeal.  These women that I would encounter daily had extreme standoff-ish outer beauty that is uninviting at best.

But one afternoon a naturally beautiful woman walked in. I noticed her because her demeanor was gentle and she didn’t look all done up.  She was there to get a spray tan and had a funny request. “Do you have any trash bags? I need two of them for my legs.”  I got them for her and she engaged me in a delightful conversation.

natural-beauty-face-md-2Her heart was so loving, so soft. She revealed to me that she lost both of her legs 10 year ago in an accident. I would have never known that she had two fake legs. She was wearing skinny jeans and walked normally.  She told me she was a model and ran a non-profit organization too.  I was so blessed by her that day. 

I couldn’t help but wonder if she was not involved in her accident, if her heart would still be that beautiful….or would it be hard like so many young women today?

I grew up in southern California.  I saw my first Cosmopolitan magazine when I was 11.  Sadly, it made me obsessed with beauty.  ”Wanting to be beautiful”  held me captive for many years. Endless wishing, striving, and wanting more than God gave me, never being satisfied and content.

One day I was reading the bible and came across the story of God’s prophet Samuel.  He was supposed to go to Jesse’s house and find the next King of Isreal.  Jesse had several sons and Samuel thought Eliab would be the chosen one.  But here is what GOD said, “Do not look at his appearance or physical stature, because I have refused him! For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  

In my own life, The Lord has used the tragic things to remind me that there is a life to come and what I currently see and can touch is quickly passing away.  I can’t help but wonder if what is stated in Matthew chapter 18, about cutting off and throwing away the part of us that can drag us into sin, is tied in with our personal tragedies of life.  Will what we suffer here echo for our own benefit into eternity? No one can know for sure until we are on the other side, but as I was emotionally struggling that day at work with my own two feet intact, a women who tragically had hers taken from her was able to warm my heart and leave me with more hope than I had.

 

Control < Trusting God

Don’t you love it when God shows up? This morning he proved again to my mind of flesh that he sees what I am going through and will provide understanding so I can conquer this world. #BOOM (Yeah, I know hashtags don’t work here)

I have been having some anxiety about parenting and my past. Wondering what it will take in his life for my son to see the reality of not just sin and the coming judgement, but the immeasurable love of Christ.

Now-a-days boys have girlfriends at 13 years old (uh, huh? yeah.) Yet it’s my job to steer him toward integrity and marriage.  This is my task in a culture that switches boy/girl friends like underwear.  A culture of “do what you think is right” and pushes pornography on young minds that continues to get more degrading and violent with each passing decade. And just because a kid is in a Christian school or you are sure they attend youth group, statistically does not release them from these cancers in our society….yet as parents we hope.

Enough of my own understanding.  This morning as I woke I started praying. I was releasing my worry about the whole thing. I am pretty good at going back to trusting God after I have a little anxiety breakdown session.  He is either God or he isn’t.  Right?!    I can only teach my son truth and display it- but I cannot force him to “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” That’s between him and the Lord and I will display love to him either way.

I opened my bible and the Holy Spirit spoke “Philippians 3″ to me. I was not sure if I heard God correctly, but after some of its content was unlocked for me, I had my proof.

7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 

 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

I have read this scripture two dozen times, but today it was spiritually discerned it for me…  My past is something I still conquer mentally even though I have left it physically.  Why did I have to get divorced Lord? Why wasn’t I raised in a home with Christian parents? My son wouldn’t have been fatherless (and all the crap that comes along with that!) if YOU Lord would have just…..

Then it hit me. What I have been through was not just for me, it was for others too.  I was entangled with so many people during my years I lived apart from Christ. How in the world did that glorify him? Well, that many more people saw my conversion. That many more people saw me walking away form a 7 year, all day, erry’ day habit of smoking marijuana.  That many more saw me completely change as a human being. Did most of them appreciate the change? No way! I lost all my friends, I lost my husband who was in love with drugs and the Vegas nightlife…I was laughed at and still am. I lost everything I knew and needed to rebuild my whole life. But I gained eternal life.

“the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”

What if the “why” questions we have for God can only be understood through the lens of humility?  Humility that says, tribulation produces repentance that leads to eternal life for some. Your tribulation is not just pain for you.  It will produce conversion in your soul and will magnify the reality of Christ to others. Will you accept that answer?

And my own son. What will be of him Lord? Same thing. “if BY ANY MEANS, I may attain to the resurrection of the dead.” I don’t want to even attach that verse to my boy. My flesh says, “that’s MY boy. Satan will not take him.”  But you see, I have no power over that.  That’s between my son and his creator.

Just like any person, God has put us on this earth to experience good and evil. Without evil we cannot know what’s truly good. My job is to intercede in prayer and let Christ live through me by his spirit.  That is the only control I am allowed to have over others; anything else would set me up as a god.  And I don’t want to be God, like, for sure!

Let’s Do Life Together

When you say “i do” you really say “i do” to many things.

Courtship (best face forward)

Wedding (joy!)

Honeymoon (um, wow!)

And suddenly, a whole lotta life hits you in the face.

Marriage gets real and it demands to know what your really made of.

A flat tire is nothing compared to the soul reaching trials that marriage brings.

I have discovered that Satan hates my marriage and he hates yours too.

But, the Lord gave me a special wedding gift.

This present was one of many….

But this one was a tool to stay married.

“Julie are you willing to keep the attitude of always looking at yourself during conflict?”

“Yes, Lord!”

That was my gift.  I reopen it during every conflict. Sometimes my husband doesn’t know I am opening it but I am.  In my inner meditations I open this gift over and over.

“Lord, please help me again. I have failed. Kindness was not on my tongue.”

“I will. I love you. Speak kindly to your husband.”

“Thank you Lord.”

I desire also for my marriage to teach me to love without fear, to love like Jesus did. To love when it’s not deserved. Satan hates this kind of devotion to the gospel. He hates when we suffer for righteousness sake. He loves when we put on a little mask and pretend all is well. But my God says to confess your sins to one another so you may be healed.

He says to bring everything to the light so darkness loses it’s power.

By your grace God…I will.