Wednesday, September 21, 2011

are your laces tied tightly in His truth?

Well, yesterday was certainly an interesting day at The Devoted Woman, because yesterday I knew the Holy Spirit was pushing me to repost a blog God had given me pertaining to divorce. Without rehashing this topic again, I will say that divorce is a controversial topic within many Christian circles. Many who profess Jesus as their Savior have still chosen the path of divorce, or have experienced the repercussions of divorce in their lives. Sadly, it has become a commonality in our society and age.

That said, yesterday I knew going into the blog that we would be under attack. I knew that our position would be challenged for quoting God's Word on such a volatile issue. So, I began my morning in prayer, trusting in His care and guidance, and preparing my heart for the tidal wave of emotions that my inbox would inevitably receive from our readers.

All this proved true. For I received many emails filled with anger and hatred in addition to several notes offering me support and encouragement. I received stories outlining the lives of women (and men) from all walks of life, dealing with all kinds of difficulties, and deciding for/against the decision to divorce. Many felt compelled to explain their life experiences and/or rationalize their decisions. Many expressed rage and defensiveness. Many wanted to debate over the truths of scripture and why God's Word did or did not prove relevant to their life. But what comment came up the most was a quote taken from Jesus words in Matthew 7:1-2, "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."

I prayed over these words yesterday, taking each person's feedback seriously. I asked God to search me and know my heart - exposing any sin on this (or any) matter. For, of course, I do not wish to enter into a discussion under pretenses measured by my own self righteousness. That would be foolish. I understand completely that without Jesus, I am nothing. I agree with the spiritual ramifications that Christ spoke of in Matthew 7 and whole-heartily acknowledge that my corrupt and sinful human nature is hopeless without His guidance. Yes, I prayed over this scripture yesterday and walked away with a clean conscience. For I was assured that the lesson I shared in our blog was reflective of His Word. I know that the truth under question by some audience members is still, indeed, TRUTH spoken from my Master's lips. And I am confident that His holy institution of marriage should be upheld rather than discarded. I know that God is clear on this... He hates divorce. He always has and always will promote restoration in relationships. So whether you agree or disagree with His stance, as a servant of Jesus, please know that we at DW choose to lovingly promote God's unchanging truth without apology. I ask that you respect this choice (as it is biblical) and assure you that my intentions to share His Word are unselfish in motive.

(Pause and breathe.) Lord... I pray that you give me Your wisdom to address this next topic that you have put on my heart. Let me speak as Jesus would. Let me love others in these words.

"Judge not, that ye be not judged (KJV)..." We like to throw that one out in defense when someone speaks up against a sinful behavior and backs it up with scripture, don't we? For simply put, mankind wants to be right. We hate to be opposed. We resent when our character is questioned under the microscope of God's Word. Sure, we acknowledge our nature is tainted by corruption, but we don't like to be beat over the head with solid reproof and correction, do we? No, that is too raw. That takes out the wiggle room in our gray, lukewarm lives. That contradicts our rationalization for self preservation.

No, rather than pausing to hear and receive God's truth... rather than responding in repentance and obedience... rather than seeking to follow His way boldly and without exception - when challenged, we can easily become defensive and angry. Then, in an effort to save face, we turn ourselves into "victims" and redirect the focus back onto our "accuser" by denying their credibility, by questioning their understanding, by rejecting their love.

As a result of yesterday's email "bombings", my husband and I were discussing how some Christians do not know how to lovingly and respectfully confront one another with biblical correction. Some have not learned to test their hearts against scripture to insure that we each are in fellowship with God's Word (and each other) with pertinence to the foundations He has established. Sure, it is a given that people won't always agree while living on this side of heaven. But we still must care enough to share with one another... to do the work and seek after His kingdom while relying on His Spirit to show us the righteousness He has planned for our lives.

I fear that too often we try to keep reproof and correction on the down-low and maintain a numbness and politically correctness at the forefront of our faith. This approach results in us sweeping the harder issues under the rug and readopting the acceptance of popular sins as excusable behavior. Why? Because it is uncomfortable to address divorce... or lying, or gossip, or homosexuality. It is uncomfortable to bring up the remorse of abuse, or infidelity, or apathy... or any other sin for that matter. Even more, it is uncomfortable to admit that we may have shared ownership, enablement, or possibly even initiation of such sins. So instead, we keep up "holy" appearances and speak Christianese while maintaining a generic undertone that God will always forgive. God will make it all o.k. in the end. And while it is true that God uses all things for His ultimate good and glory, it is dangerous to live outside the honesty of His perfect will. It is folly to ignore the eternal voice of our Creator and avoid all reproof. For when we willingly walk outside any portion of God's solution for a full, redeemed life, we venture with our shoes unlaced into territories where Satan thrives. We look backward to the false security of our corruption rather than forward to His assurance, newness and peace. This is what trips us up in sin and selfishness. This is what stops us from growing deeper spiritually.

As believers, we are to boldly proclaim what God's Word says about sin as well as be willing to humbly own up and repent of our own transgression. We are not to respond in hatred to what God has said. We are not to react in resentment, defensiveness, or anger against others because we don't like hearing that The Master's authority should win out over our own. No, everything that is brought to us biblically must be considered... and considered pure joy at that. For God cares enough to correct His children. And He will greatly bless those that love Him in obedience and humility.

In this race of life, it is a blessing to succeed spiritually right out of Salvation's gate rather than stumble because we didn't follow God's simple instruction to tie our shoes. So, when we are encouraged as believers in 2 Timothy 4:2 to "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction," we must do so without apology. We must share our faith with one another and avoid intimidation tactics against those who step up to what is godly. We must never default to promoting man's agenda because we desire selfish comforts or waveless waters. Most of all, we must love one another as Jesus loves each of us. We must remember that His authority always overrules our own. For He has the authority to judge our faithfulness. Because of this, we must always promote His way as the ONLY way. For the path to His kingdom is narrow enough. So, we should do all that we can to help one another avoid stumbling along the way.

Yesterday, I spoke up against one topic: divorce. I did so with James 5:19-20 in mind. "My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins." Although I cannot change anyone's past and I do not claim to know the details of anyone's future while on earth, I am certain that God will forgive us when we repent and turn from evil. He will bless us when we follow His ways over our own.

Regardless of your situation... regardless of what you have lived through... regardless of the choices you have made by your own will or by obeying His will... please stop and listen when God speaks in the form of correction and reproof. Receive His Words when a fellow-believer shares something in love or when He brings truths to the table via scripture or other means. Stop and think about your emotional/physical motivation when someone challenges you about your spiritual choices. Above all, I exhort you to seek God first... His kingdom... His righteousness. For His way is the only way to live fully!

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

My hope is that every DW comes to know God intimately rather than coasting along in their faith generically. My wish is that we each can openly love Him with our whole heart, soul, and mind without having to rationalize or make excuses about how we have chosen to live. For our choice should always default to holiness. So, let's motivate one another to seek after what is holy and simply choose Jesus' Way. Let's resolve to stay true to His truth without apology or waiver. Let's lay our comfort level on His altar and live out every trial He gives us in accordance to God's gracious, eternal plan. This is how Christ sacrificed for us. He endured every abuse, every trial, every temptation to the cross because He loved us more than His own comfort. Then he rose again to free us each from our sin. Let's love like Jesus and endure this short moment on earth in joyful obedience and humble sacrifice to His Word. His is the only Way. His foundations are certain. His institutions are sound. His kingdom is FOREVER AND EVER! So, enjoy His blessed richness and live fully while running forward... while running with your spiritual laces tied and your feet secure... while running safely and wisely home into the arms of the King.

I love you all. XOX! ~Victoria

Blessings in Jesus Name.
Blog Posting Written By Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

a holy decision


The Holy Spirit has been teaching me how easily people deceive themselves when it comes to divorce. Mankind's quest to live a happy life causes many people (Christians included) to sinfully rationalize how God might make an exception to the rule for the sake of their comfort level. However, I fear that these rationalizations are simply convincing lies that we like to argue with hopes of an easier road - advancing what we THINK or FEEL is "right" rather than actually OBEYING what our Master says is holy.

Recently, I was visiting with a group of women. While many shared their backgrounds and life stories with me, one woman approached me and started discussing her marital history. Her story was this: She was married very young, but determined shortly thereafter that her husband was the wrong man to be married to for reasons she chose not to disclose. She quickly divorced him and later remarried a "nicer" man. Now, she is enjoying "a happy life" and a "normal" relationship. (That is how she worded it.) Her concern was this: Should she repent to God about the decision to divorce her first husband when she honestly felt that leaving him was the right thing to do?

After hearing this, many other women piped up to share their own stories regarding how they too divorced themselves out of difficult marriages. Suddenly, I found myself in a room filled with a parade of divorced women (Christian women) rationalizing why God would not have wanted any of them to have stayed married to their first spouse. Their husbands were men who ranged from dead beats, to alcoholics, to abusers, to two-timers/cheaters, to men that just didn't get them, etc. etc. etc....you name it. Each woman stood in agreement that surely God would approve, "They deserved better!" Each admitted that by divorcing their first mate, they were clearly happier today for making the decision... no regrets whatsoever.

Finally, the woman who first initiated the conversation wrapped up her argument by stating in agreed satisfaction, "Let's face it... now I'm able to serve Jesus better without all that messiness in my life. So, why repent for something that turned out well? Sure, God says He hates divorce, but why ask for forgiveness when divorce was really the best solution for my situation?"

Hmmm.

"God hates divorce, BUT..." But what? He hates it!

"So, why repent..." Wait... what? Did I hear that right? Why repent? REALLY???

Admittedly, I was speechless. What the heck has happened to our belief system that we somehow think that God's will for us has changed from scripture and does not involve any messiness or suffering through trials - especially in marriage? Furthermore, if God outright has said that He hates divorce, it is clearly NOT a "holy" decision when we go do exactly what He despises. No, this cannot be rationalized as a "right" decision - irrespective of how happy one may emotionally feel afterward. God would NEVER encourage His children to divorce. That is not a physical representation of His covenant love.

What concerns me most about this whole matter is the complete absence of regret or repentance that so many lack today after following through with such a decision. In fact, most people defend their decision to divorce at all cost. It's like we form these little clubs of "Why it was OK for so and so to get a divorce" and then seek the approval of others to secure our position on the matter. But I ask you this, are our hearts truly repentant hearts if we are quick to go against God's plan? Do we value His Word, His Way so little that we quickly embrace exactly what He hates?

Perhaps we have forgotten what our repentance really means. According to New Testament Greek, the word for repentance (metaneo) means a change of mind that results in a change of action. The Bible tells us that true repentance will result in our turning to God and what He loves... not away from Him! Acts 26:20 declares, “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.”

Repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action. Not a change of scenery. Not a change of spouse. No, if we have accepted Jesus' way, we must change how we perceive and see things - even in our marriages. We must seek to recognize the sin that Satan uses to destroy our covenant relationship the same way God recognizes such sin. How do we do this? By loving our spouse to the level that Jesus loves us while sacrificially giving over our lives to God for His use - to bring Him glory. Do you choose to bring God glory by seeking divorce? I think not. In fact, I know not. For here is what He said:

“I hate divorce...” says the Lord God of Israel. "So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith." (Malachi 2:16)

Did you get that? Guard yourself in spirit and do not break faith! How do we guard our spirit? By embracing God's Word... by knowing what He says and repeating it to ward off the enemy... by following His commands to avoid sin. How do we keep our faith solid? By remaining in His presence and seeking His ways over our own... by literally abiding in Him and setting our sights on His ways.

Ladies, I know that many will not like reading this blog today. Many will disagree and argue against these passages because they simply want what they want. Many will promote a life of earthly happiness over a marriage of sacrifice and obedience. But heed my words... following Jesus is not about finding a self-serving form of happiness on this earth. Rather, God gives us specific trials so that we can become MORE like Jesus... not less. And what was Jesus' model? Well, Jesus surrendered His life over in order to fulfill the will of His Father. Jesus loved his bride (us) more than His own life and gave everything up so that we could be with Him intimately forever. Jesus lived as a humble servant and did what was necessary to restore our relationship with Him... even though we were deadbeat, sin addicts who abused His love and cheated by looking toward another selfish way of life. Jesus loved us enough to do everything possible to repair our broken relationship with God and restore us back home!

You and I both know that Jesus would not agree to divorce... no matter how difficult a relationship is strained. We are to be help mates to our husbands as Christ is to us. We are to sacrifice. To serve. To love. To be joyful. To be self controlled. To be patient and long-suffering like our Savior. (2 Peter 3:9)

Many examples of difficult experiences have been documented throughout scripture where God allowed his children to endure unimaginable trials and tests of faith. Some, like Joseph, were sold into slavery. Some, like Paul, were imprisoned. Some, like David, were hunted down. Some, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were sentenced to death. Did they give up or throw in the towel? No. Did they turn from God's plan and renounce their Savior's way? No. They sang and rejoiced and sought after God while trusting Him to see them through... mind you, through things we could not even imagine enduring!!! Most importantly, no matter what the earthly result of their trial - their deeds gave glory to their King! Their life was a repentant life - a changed life that only sought after God's way of doing things.

So, just because your marriage may face challenges and variances of hardship, it is biblically an unwise conclusion to dissolve a holy covenant that was instituted by the Creator Himself. In short, it is NEVER healthier to seek what we want over what God wants. It is never good to sway from His truth because Satan has painted a picture of greener pastures promising earthly happiness. That's how we got into this sinful mess in the first place! (Remember Adam and Eve?)

Now, depending on circumstances that involve an individual's safety, a separation based on prayer and trust (with the hope of God being able to restore and renew) may be a necessary course of action in a complex marital trauma... and it may even run the course of one's lifetime. But divorce? No. Not when God clearly hates it. Not when God is blessing our lives with a holy trial to become MORE like Him! Rather than running away, consider such testing as PURE JOY...

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (James 1:2-5)

For those who have already been through divorce, whether self initiated or forced by a spouse... I challenge you to take ownership of your heart on this matter. Consider your involvement and pray about your willingness to surrender your spiritual eyes to look through His holy lens. Confess any sin where you held ownership that contributed to the broken marital covenant. Allow Christ to change your mind, soften your soul, strengthen your faith. Forgive and love your ex. And if possible, start seeking and praying for restoration and healing in Jesus' gracious Name. God is ready and able to renew so much if you only allow Him the opportunity... if you trust Him without limits... if you seek and obey Him at all cost.

I do not claim to be an expert at anything. I am merely a lover of Jesus and a follower of His word. He is my authority in all matters. So, I write this blog in love and obedience to my King. I write, because if we are to be honest about what God says on this matter of divorce... if we are to face the trials He puts us in for the purpose of making us more like Jesus... we must stop making excuses for sin and call a spade a spade. Divorce is man's solution. But marriage is God made. I have learned to always, ALWAYS choose God's way over man's!!! Let's acknowledge His holy way and be ready to account for our deeds. Let's live for His Name's sake - not our own.

Please ladies, let's stop trying to convince one another that divorce is acceptable in the eyes of the Lord. It is not. God HATES divorce. So let's make a holy decision to stand for what is right and base our choices on mirroring His sacrifice rather than advancing human selfishness.

Every day we follow Jesus - through every trial we face here on earth... it is one day's march closer to His perfect, healthy presence and eternal glory. I encourage you to always focus on Him. Follow Him. Strive to be holy like He is holy. You are new in Christ Jesus, ladies. Live like it. Encourage it. Depend on His eternal covenant and model it within your own marriage. No matter what, represent your King correctly... honorably... holy.

It won't be easy... but eternally, it will be worth it! I encourage every devoted woman to always turn to God... not away from Him!

Let she who has ears hear. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!

Blessings!
Blog Post Written By Victoria Anderson

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

speechless, astounded, ecstatic, filled

Speechless that He loves me.
Astounded that He forgave me.
Ecstatic that He saves me.
Filled because I am new in His grace.

Blog Posting Written By Victoria Anderson

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

let's go!

Hallelujah! The repentant sinner may find His way!
The broken heart may be restored...
All in His Name!
All in Jesus' Holy Name!

Freedom is ours because the Savior sacrificed it all so that we may have life!

NEW LIFE!

This is the day to celebrate and submit to the One... the King... the living, active Redeemer who is full of grace.  This is the day to walk in His ways and be refreshed!

So, let's go!... WOO HOO!

LET'S GO LIVE IN CHRIST!

Yippee!

(Victoria Anderson)

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