Monday, June 27, 2011

Do Not Disturb!

This is one of those posts that gets the “reader beware” sticker. I’m specifically talking to you guys. Reading any further requires maturity. If you are not mature, then do not read any further. Well, I’m talking to you gals, but the beware goes out to you guys. Confused yet? I know I am! Whew…onward we march!

On Wednesday night at Bible study, we were discussing I Corinthians chapter 5. If you are not familiar with this chapter, it is the account of a guy who was having a sexual relationship with his stepmother and ended up being kicked out of the church. Our pastor was asked this question: How would you deal with someone in the church that you know is committing sexual sin?

Let me preface the rest of the story with this, when I am tired I think everything is funny. When I am beyond exhaustion, it’s almost like I am a very happy drunk. I have no inhibitions, everything is funny and I will pretty much say whatever, with “whatever” often times making no sense at all as my brain and mouth have stopped all communication between them. They are on individual commando operations and usually I am the only one in on it. Everything completely makes sense to me. Everyone else seems to be at a loss.

My pastor answered the question using Matthew 18 as a reference and how if someone is having sex they should be talked to and if there is a repentant heart, great, if not and they are openly rebelling and flaunting their sin (as was the guy in I Cor), then that would be the situation where he would ask the person/s involved to leave the church. At no time during his answer did he differentiate between sexual sin and an intimate relationship between a husband and a wife.

My state of being at the time was just coming off one of the most stressful, tiring three-month periods that I have ever experienced. Our daughter got married three days prior. On Monday, we attended lunch at our son-in-laws parents house and watched the new couple open gifts, returned the tuxes, and saw the rest of the family off as they left for their own corners of the world. On Tuesday, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. On Wednesday, still exhausted, I was determined to go to Bible study. That was my first mistake. My second was in thinking we were in kid’s church. We weren’t. Uh oh! In kid’s church, I could be tired and still function. Wednesday night kid’s church is low key. I could handle it. Bible study? Maybe not.

Well, you should have seen the gears in my brain turning as I listened to my pastor answer the question. Huh? Sex is sin? One person in the group said, “You mean outside of marriage, right?” at the same time I grabbed my hubby’s arm and said, “We are finding a new church!”

There was a momentary look of startled fear on our pastor’s face until he realized what he had said and he joking held his wife’s arm and said if that were the case, they would have to find a new church too.

Later on, when my hubby and I were lying in bed, my head on his shoulder, he started chuckling. He told me he knew I was going to say something so he started the one-one thousand count down and sure enough, by the time he reached three one thousand, I had us leaving the church. We also commented on the reactions of those in the room; some chuckles, some laughter, some confusion, some completely ignoring the fact that our pastor just had all of us married folks in celibate relationships and some ignoring the conversation as a whole.

This got me thinking. Why is it we Christians can discuss sexual sin openly? As long as it is “bad” sex, we can have an intelligent conversation, put the people doing the “bad” stuff in their place and go on. But at the first mention of sex in the way God intended it to be, a time of intimate bonding between a man and a woman who are committed to one another for life in a marriage relationship, we shrink up and pretend we don’t know what anyone is talking about?

Has anyone but me noticed most people in the world think we Christians are prudes? Do they, or for that matter do we, know that God created sex and everything He created is good?

I am not talking about discussing the intimate details of you and your spouse’s love life. What I am talking about is, sex inside of marriage is not a bad thing. In fact, when used the way God intended, it is a wonderful, marvelous, loving, life giving, bonding, unifying, fun, spontaneous, self esteem building activity that God created for a married couple to not only use for procreation, but to also enjoy.

When life gets in the way, when the kids completely ignore the “do not disturb” sign on our door (yes, I really do have one hanging from the door knob!), when differing work schedules or being overly busy keeps me and my husband from spending quality alone time together, I get feisty. I begin to doubt his love for me. I need my time with my husband because he is part of me and I am part of him. This is one time when two halves do not make a whole. Coming together, in a very physical way with Christ as our center, creates one unit physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Christ desires the very same intimacy with His bride. He wants us to know Him, our groom, at the deepest level. His desire is for us to be open with Him, secure in his love for us; just like we women should be secure in our husband’s love for us. If we do not spend quality, intimate time with our groom, whether our earthly groom or Christ, do we really know him?

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Groom Awaits

Nineteen years ago, when I held her in my arms, a pending marriage seemed a lifetime away. Now that she is all grown up and the altar is beckoning, reality has hit me square in the face. A few days from now, she will stand at the altar, pledging her life, love and devotion to the man she will call her husband. All I have left of her younger days are my memories.

I should have known she’d get married early. All she ever talked about was her husband and her children. I remember one of her plans included two houses across the creek from one another, with a little bridge to get from one side to the other. I lived in one; she lived in the other. She planned on walking her children across the bridge so I could baby-sit them.

Not much has changed. She still can’t wait for children, although her and Michael’s plans include finishing school first. Truth be told, I can’t wait until she has children either. I see the cutest little clothes everywhere I go. I am going to love spoiling those kids!

The day we have all been waiting for is now imminent. The white dress of purity has been bought and paid for with a price. Soon, the bride will don her gown and present herself to her groom. Her countenance will be one of expectation, slightly fearful, yet wonderfully anticipating the moment she becomes his.

All the plans have been laid. The table set. The food prepared. The guests have been beckoned in anxious anticipation. Every moment between now and the altar, every word spoken, every deed done, is in preparation for the feast, the celebration of new love.

As I sit back in moments like this, reflecting upon how much life has changed, and what new stages we are entering, I cannot help but think about the day each and every one of us will stand waiting for our groom. Some will run for the hills, wishing for more time to prepare. Others will welcome His presence, desiring to be held in His arms forever.

He is constantly beckoning us, come. He stands before us, His love fierce, protective and unending. He desires that we all come to Him, open arms, ready and willing. He wants to love on us. He wants to forever be in our presence. I am reminded of the hymn, Just As I Am.

1st verse: Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me, and that thou bidst me come to thee, Oh Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Last verse: Just as I am, thy love unknown, hath broken every barrier down; now, to be thine, yea thine alone. O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Do you hear Him? He is calling for you. Don’t run to the hills; don’t turn away. Listen to the voice of the groom calling His bride. He bids you, come.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Oprah vs. Godzilla

We were driving home from church with our son and our Pastors’ son in the back seat of the truck. It’s always entertaining listening to them talk. You never know what you are going to hear. Today we heard about being in love with five girls, being in love with our pastor’s wife and marrying her, and any and all sorts of oddities.

Then we heard this conversation. I’ll call them J (our son) and Jay. Jay: Do you know who Oprah is? J: No, but I know who Godzilla is.

We started laughing. Leave it to our son to not know who Oprah is and to compare her to Godzilla. I suppose that makes sense as out of the eight years he’s been on this earth, we have only had television channels for a little over one of them. He has never seen court tv, Hannah Montana, The Simpson’s, Lost or talk shows, including Oprah.

The only time we watch regular tv is when we are in a hotel for some reason. Then, it’s a major treat. Of course those are the times he wants to see what cartoons are on.

Sometimes I get to thinking about how sheltered he is. He has no idea what brands of shoes are cool. He doesn’t know what clothes are popular. He doesn’t know the “in” thing. If a person who is immersed in the world were to ask him about any number of worldly subjects, he would have no idea what they were talking about. He is home schooled and his friends are from church. His circle of influence is largely dictated by those we allow him to have contact with. Some may say we are hindering him, keeping him from growing up and knowing what he should know. I disagree.

The past couple of weeks have been a bit stressful for me. “A bit” might be putting it mildly. Ok…so, I completely lost it Friday night after prayer while I was standing in the vestibule. I am not a public crier so this was a traumatic experience for me. My husband’s job schedule has been crazy, as has his pay, our daughter’s up coming wedding, writing and trying to figure out God’s plans has really just put me over the edge. I guess it all hit me at once and the outcome was a ball hit out of the ballpark. I was a goner.

I had fallen into an old way of thinking. I let the “old” Darlene creep back in. I started to feel anxious and I became worrisome.

Then I read this: “Deep in my heart I say, The Lord is all I need; I can depend on Him.” Lamentations 3:24

At that moment I realized what I had done. For a moment, I forgot to include God in all things. I left Him out of a few. He has always gotten us through the rough times. For some reason, I got to thinking maybe this time, the wedding and everything that needs to be done and paid for, was a little too big a job for him. While I didn’t think that last sentence outright, my actions said it loud and clear. By worrying, I was doubting Him.

As I read that verse again and again in Lamentations, I came to realize what it meant to be in this world but not of it. First of all, He is all I need. I love my husband. I love my children. I love my church and church family. I love writing. I love singing. I love traveling and having fun. I love setting and reaching goals. I love being successful. I love many things. But, if He is not in it, it is of the world. In and of themselves, without God, all these things mean nothing. With Him, they are heavenly minded and full of purpose. Without His direction, without Him being the center, the core, they lack fulfillment and joy.

As I thought on these things, I applied this line of thinking to my son, and the things I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

While we still have some areas that need working, for the most part our son is God centered. He loves worship and praying. He is tender hearted and is compassionate. He enjoys spending time with people and is respectful. He cried alligator tears for the people of Japan and Missouri. The other day, I was given the best compliment a mother can receive. Someone said to me: You did good! It didn’t matter what he did or didn’t know, what mattered was this person saw the Godly influence in everything that my son is, a young man with a purpose and a calling to serve his Lord.

Is God the center of you?