names have been changed or omitted in this post
It was spring of 1994… temps were becoming warmer as the months rolled by and in the small office where I sat there was not much but a simple desk, a tall indoor plant and small bulletin board that hung on the wall. Bright sunlight streamed in from the windows despite the mini blinds being closed. It was becoming hot in the small bright room despite a small clip-on fan clasped to the edge of the desk helped to circulate air. I sat in the oversized black swivel chair slightly rotating back and forth, relishing the cool air hitting my porcelain skin and face. In the adjoining room behind the closed door I could heard the muffled grunts of men and rapid Vietnamese being emitted by them in short orders. The sound of machinery was heard as well and as I sat wondering how much longer I had to wait before we were off to the next stop for the day, the door suddenly opened. Bao burst in and he gave me a quick look, "Come, come with me." He motioned with his hand and I rose to follow him into the dark din.
Inside the garage were several work areas… sunlight shone in from the door that was opened to the outside and Bao turned to me "I'll be back." He said and I nodded, transfixed in watching all the activity around me. Waiting, I ran my hands through my dark hair sweeping it back off my face to stay cool… men were disassembling vehicles with deft skills and wore protective eye gear… music played from somewhere in the background but it was barely detected due to the deafening noise. Wearing snug black flared pants, black kitten heels and a slightly oversized t-shirt of Bao's I'd tied off low on my hip, I finally carefully made my way through the chaos to just inside the doorway of the garage.
Bao pulled up in a slick black vehicle with the drivers window down. He eased to a stop beside me and smiled winningly up at me with his dark eyes and wide grin "Well? What do you think?" He asked me.
I loved it and marveled at it's beauty… taking in the lines and then viewing the interior, I spoke "It's beautiful. What is it?" I asked him… He gently grasped my left hand with affection that I had rested on the edge of the open window and his eyes twinkled at me.
"Supra" He told me and gave me an electric smile "It's the one everyone wants."
"It's the one everyone wants." Sometimes his words echo in my head even today, more than twenty years later… because guaranteed there is someone today who wants something they can't have. Maybe it's a vehicle, maybe it's a mansion… perhaps it's a boat, motorcycle or… maybe it's someone. Perhaps there is someone who wants you, that has made it clear in no uncertain terms they want to be with you… that they enjoy your personality and company… and also that they desire you on the physical level… they would love to be with you, to call you their special someone and potentially marry you.
The only problem is… the biggest problem of all… they don't want Christ. They want you and all the glorious aspects that come with you but please leave Christ at the door.
It would be wonderful of course if
Christ was who everyone wanted….
The person who wants you doesn't want to accept the reality of the matter; that you are a package deal… Christ comes with you and He comes first. Instead, like a car being picked to pieces at the chop shop they are choosing which pieces they believe work for them… they may not tell you that you cannot worship Christ but we can bet as sure as the sun is hot they won't be leading you to Him… instead it will be comparable to you playing a game… a game of tug o'war… with one hard yank you may just be dragged into who-knows-what by the unbeliever… or just as bad… perhaps you decide it's simply not worth the battle and give in; tossing the rope aside and leaving Christ behind.
So what do you do? You speak up. You set boundaries. You draw a line in the sand graced with love and enough salt to let them know you mean business… that Christ comes first and no one else… that anyone who wants to be with you but not Christ shouldn't cross over that line. Jesus spoke up when needed… at times it wasn't popular… but He spoke anyway because He cared and wasn't going to compromise on what was right just to keep the peace.
People pleasers, door-mats, "Yes" people… all these terms we loosely throw around… they sum up behaviors of people who struggle with setting boundaries with others. People who struggle with setting boundaries are often times targets of people of a narcissistic or even worse sociopathic nature.
It's vital we learn to recognize the fact that some people will do anything… lie, trick, manipulate, deceive, etc to get what or who they want… they will do anything except accept Christ and lead you to Him. But we don't have to compromise our belief system nor should anyone expect us to.
WE DONT HAVE TO ACCEPT ANYTHING
IN THE HOPES OF GAINING
A LITTLE SOMETHING
that little something being
what we think is
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2015
Sunday before last the pastor at my church did a sermon that I believe is in dire need in every church… a sermon on satan and hell. So few churches today will even touch either topic… why? Likely because it's not politically correct (deemed by who else --> society) for anyone to discuss it. It seems so many folks today are afraid of speaking the truth that they've turned into spiritual sissies so to speak. If more churches began speaking about the reality of the devil and hell would many of the people who attend church flee?
But to not preach about the reality of hell is to do us all a disservice. To not share the true existence of hell is to just take tithes and pat people on the head… that doesn't save souls that desperately need saving. Instead we subscribe to the idea that good people are automatically getting in Heaven… that those who show up every Sunday for church service are good to go, that those who just "sin a little" or "sin differently" or "try everyday" or those who aren't going around shooting up stores, bombing buildings or trafficking humans are who will get in through the pearly gates. Or maybe those who have money wrongly believe their money will elevate their sin… that the fact they own x,y,z and "live superiorly" to their peers certainly means they are getting a ticket into Heaven, right?… because who notices that they are shacking up with their girlfriend or boyfriend or committing fraud or drinking and driving when they present the shiny facade of financial perfection? Doesn't that money "clean up" their sin and make it prettier than someone who commits the same sins and lives in the less desirable areas and rides the bus? Some folks actually believe that poisonous Kool-Aid.
Were so afraid of offending others that we don't speak the truth when it's needed… we bite our tongues, we waffle, we shuffle our feet and stammer… we turn red, or we pull back and become uncomfortable… one example of this is when it comes to homosexuality we often don't want to acknowledge what the bible says because were terrified that if we do we will be accused of being intolerant versus just simply being truthful.
If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. (NKJ, Leviticus 20:13) via christianbiblereference
Some people, namely perhaps heterosexual Christians may struggle when it comes to those of a homosexual nature and the battle going on in society today regarding legalizing marriage. Yes, we are to love everyone. Period. Yes, we are to extend grace. Yes, as Christians we are to be a representative of Christ. We know this. One dilemma that may be confusing for Christians is… are we to give equal rights to those of a homosexual nature out of love for them yet KNOWING the bible states it's an abomination? It's kinda hard to sit there and tell one group of people they can have equal rights but oh wait… this one can't. That's some form of insanity… rationally, it doesn't make sense at all. So by giving people rights (equality to marry) out of love for them are we also in the form of permission condoning their sin and just becoming indifferent to their possible consequences? As Christians we should be concerned with each other's salvation. It's a worrisome issue to ponder and it should be for each and every one of us.
We can extend love to others and yet not agree with their actions no matter what they are.
We have free will when it comes to making choices that promote life and glorify God or choices that bring darkness and death. Free will… we have it in this country to get an abortion which is a sin yet people choose to end the lives of their unborn children everyday. As my pastor said two Sundays ago… "Why do we call it murder when someone shoots and kills a pregnant mother but when she decides to abort her own baby we say it's not really a baby?" That stuck with me. He's completely right. We can't have it both ways, folks.
So often people who don't believe in God question what kind of god would allow rape, death, murder, etc? The are tossing the realities of human sin having entered this world onto God… they are playing the "blame game" so to speak. The truth is… God warned Adam and Eve to not eat the fruit of the one tree but they did not listen. They had ample other choices and yet they chose to disobey… they listened to the deceitful lies spewed by the devil… they let evil into the world by their actions and thankfully God already had a plan to save our wretched souls through His son Jesus Christ. If we go to hell it is it by punishment served up by a mean and angry God?… it could be argued that it's at least partly due to ourselves and our own blindness… to us not accepting Christ as our Savior, being prideful and defiant… us rejecting Him and continuing a sin-filled life without sorrow or repentance.
What comes out of you is what defiles you. For from within, out of your hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile you. (TNIV, Mark 7:20-23) via christianbiblereference
We each have the choice to begin our eternal sentence here on this planet… to willingly sign up ahead of time and have our name reserved beside satan; to WILLFULLY choose to sin and never turn from it… it pains God to see us make this choice… it brings Him sorrow. The bible states the sexually immoral and arrogant, the wicked and deceitful will not inherit the kingdom of God -----> the unrepentant… we may know someone like this… we may be praying for them… we may unfortunately be married to someone of this nature or divorced from them. We may wring our hands in despair that they are headed on the route they are… it may certainly bring us sorrow that the parent of our child is consciously making choices that bring heartache, pain and grief. If we are or were married to someone of a narcissistic nature we can know that the destruction they create is huge… like the devil (the word itself means destroyer) someone of narcissistic or even sociopathic character… their primary purpose is to destroy. Maybe someone in your life is trying to destroy you and your family. The narcissistic sociopath is not much different than the devil himself when it comes to traits… they are both deceitful by nature… they are not repentant, they are not empathetic and they both spew lies.
Unfortunately not everyone believes the devil (or hell) exists. Yet he does. Even many who do believe in Christ don't believe there is a devil. But satan does exist, he's a reality. The truth is… no amount of denial, no amount of glossing over sin, no amount of money or even ego will keep you exempt from hell. Merely believing in Christ; is that truly sufficient for life here on earth?…shouldn't we want more than just going through the motions? Are we sadly more concerned with our quick ticket and guaranteed admittance to Heaven than we are loving and obeying God? Are we living for Him, are we shedding sin and beginning fresh? Are we asking God for forgiveness and yes, even transformation in our lives? Are we surrendering to him, asking to be chiseled? None of us… not one of us wants to see someone we know endure the wrath of hell… to love one another is to not just share the word that Christ loves them and died for their sins but that we want to see them in Heaven one day alongside Christ.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2015
names have been omitted in this post
The back of the SUV was packed with all the essentials… there was a small soft insulated cooler of ice holding bottled waters, a brown paper bag filled with snacks; some snacks were gluten free for my mother and some were loaded with glorious gluten for me. There were oversized canvas bags holding clothes, swimsuits, sandals and the essential toiletries.
As we headed to our destination and the navigation lady gave her guidance en route the radio played… songs of love, loss and all the hurts tender hearts sometimes endure despite being so brave to make that awesomely huge jump into the pool of vulnerability again.
Johnny Cash sang on the radio a song that Neil Diamond had written… Solitary Man… and I loved it… Cash's voice is like a deep pool of rough open wounds meeting up with the healing velvet touch of luxurious love… his voice is such a bittersweet mix of the beauty of two worlds colliding… I savored the lyrics like a fine wine.
Belinda was mine 'til the time that I found her
And lovin' him
Then Sue came along, loved me strong, that's what I thought
Me and Sue,
But that died, too
Don't know that I will but until I can find me
A girl who'll stay and won't play games behind me
I'll be what I am
A solitary man
I've had it here, being where love's a small word
A part time thing
A paper ring
I know it's been done havin' one girl who loves me
Right or wrong
Weak or strong
Don't know that I will but until I can find me
The girl who'll stay and won't play games behind me
I'll be what I am
A solitary man
A solitary man
Don't know that I will but until love can find me
And the girl who'll stay and won't play games behind me
I'll be what I am
A solitary man
A solitary man
Johnny Cash - Solitary Man Lyrics | MetroLyrics
"I've had it here, being where love's a small word"… the lyrics spun in my head like a lit ferris wheel… we have made love become such a small word, haven't we? We have taken love and made it mean nearly nothing… not true and long lasting but instead often broken. Humans have a way of messing up the absolute most beautiful thing ever… saying "I love you" but clinging to the idea of someone else. Loving someone with as much finite love as we possibly can because part of it is allotted to someone else. Showing love in the most intimate forms and yet not really being mentally present. Naively believing we are dearly loved by someone and yet coming to discover we are nothing more than just another notch on someones belt or one of many forgettable fantasies in someones mind.
The only one who has truly perfected love is Jesus.
Who wants a part time love? Who wants to be with someone who doesn't know what love truly is? No one that I know of. Yet we may be with someone who loves us with one foot in the door and one out… maybe we squander away something beautiful with someone special because our selfish egos outweigh the love were willing to give… the extra mile were willing to go. Or maybe we thought we were someone's whole world only to regrettably realize that we were considered just a boring spouse whom they used to procreate children with all the while chasing every skirt or John in town behind our back unbeknownst to us.
As I drove and gazed into the pale blue-hued sky streaked with clouds my mother spoke and snapped me out of my mental reverie. "Have you found any options on the dating sites?"
"Ha!" I laughed then soberly replied "Ummm, that would be a no." I told her. "I mean, I've messaged a few guys back and forth… there's been some communication, but nothing viable."
"There's just not any that match up what you're looking for?" She asked.
"MmmmmHmmm" I mumurred as we jumped on the freeway. I checked my speed and surveyed the vehicles. "I just don't think there is anyone out there who is going to match up on everything." I told her matter of fact.
"Well, what's been the issues with the ones you've messaged?" She asked as she dug around in her purse for lip balm. It's a universal issue for women that keys and lip balm always mysteriously disappear into the depths of handbags never to be found again.
"Well one guy seemed okay until I found out he has an alcohol issue. That's a no go. Then there was the guy who seemed really great until I found out he doesn't see his kids except for just holidays, they live out of state with the mother. That was a no go. Then there was the guy who seemed like a good choice except he smokes. I can't handle smoke, I'll end up hacking and have to use an inhaler. Then there was the guy who stated he was a Christian but his questionnaire contradicted that because he expected sex after the third date. That was a big no."
"Okay, that all seems reasonable. " She agreed "But I still think the best way is to just meet someone."
"Yeah…" I trailed off then spoke, changing lanes to the left to pass someone. "Where would that be? I have too many deal breakers and must haves. I mean, if you get on there and look at those dating sites there are literally maybe a handful of Christian men to choose from and those don't always match up on the other criteria I'm looking for. I'd like to find someone with a daughter but most of them seem to have boys. It's like there was a plethora of boys being born in the age range I'd want. I want someone who isn't addicted to anything, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, etc. I really don't think that's asking for too much. Somebody down to earth, who can work with his hands so I don't emasculate him with my wonder bar, "I told her with a grin and she laughed.
I turned the air up a couple notches so she wouldn't get cold because I'm a hothead and didn't want to hog the thermostat. "Somebody who doesn't live for TCU football and had their Daddy pay for everything they have because that just makes me nauseous," I smirked "Someone with a beard because I'm not attracted to waxed and primped, someone who lives for Christ, someone who is kind and sees the beauty in a person not just the exterior. So many of the guys on these sites haven't even had kids yet… I'm amazed that by nearly forty so many men are just now wanting to start a family. I mean, that doesn't work for me…" I paused with exasperation "I'm done having babies… so to be with someone who wants to have them is out of the question for me. I'd be open to adoption but that's it… I don't know… "I sighed and she spoke...
"I think you do have too many must haves. Maybe a guy with younger boys is someone you should consider. If you think a step-daughter who will one day be a teenager is going to be a picnic think again. A guy who is a good match might not be available right now… he might be married right now and divorced in a few years when you meet him. Either that or everything you're looking for simply doesn't exist." She told me.
I glanced over at her "It really isn't a big deal… I do fine being on my own and in some ways I like it that way… if it happens, great, but I'd be shocked if it does. At the end of the day I'm not willing to settle for so so… I want someone amazing and I'm not agreeing to anything less… gee, it'd be a whole lot easier if God just sent down a memo saying who to pick. I think the free will thing is bit overrated."
Free will. It's too bad God doesn't stick a post-it note on our bedside table to let us know who we should choose to marry. But thankfully there are some things we can follow in relation to God's guidance in choosing a mate. We can read our bibles and find advice after concrete advice of what makes up a godly man (or proverbs wife). Just like we can pick up a map to find the way in our travels or with the press of a button have a voice guide us to our next destination, we have God's word to lead us in making wise sound decisions.
What we learn the second time around when dating and choosing a potential mate… we may wish we had that wisdom and clarity back when we were younger on the first go-round. We may not realize when were twenty-two and naive as a baby lamb what were truly signing up for when we say "I do." We may not know God well when we marry, we may not know what unequally yoked means, we may not know much of anything including very little about ourselves.
Instead we get our britches in a wad and want everything to happen now… we want the wedding, the house, the babies and the white picket fence and we want it asap. We fall in love. We are perhaps to our own detriment idealistic. Then when everything doesn't turn out quite how we pictured it because we picked out someone who is not a good soul but maybe more like Lucifer himself… we wail in despair wanting out of the big ole mess we are in… we cry out to God and ask for assistance. Or maybe we pick someone who isn't evil at all but just wasn't a wise choice (darn that free will thing sneaking up to bite us in the butt)... and now we're dealing with the fallout of that choice years in.
The most important thing we can do when we are open to dating someone aka finding our potential mate is to just. be. patient. Impatience can bring forth a slew of nasty problems in our life as the result of hurrying to find someone.
If we go into a potential relationship we can ask ourselves 5 important questions to save ourselves much heartache and trouble.
1. Would this relationship please God? If it's not going to please Him then it won't work.
2. Is this person a believer? We can stamp anything on something… we can stamp green beans on a can and people will tell you it's green beans. But what if it's really not? Someone telling you their a Christian isn't enough; actions always speak louder than words. There are people disguised as sheep who are truly wolves underneath; an unbeliever could potentially fake being a Christian to be with you. Then later as the relationship progresses or worse after you've become husband and wife they will reveal their true belief and character to you.
3. If you've been a Christian for quite some time and you find yourself interested in pursuing a relationship with a new Christian, take things slow. A new Christian will not have the same level of spiritual maturity as you do… you're both at entirely different places in your growth as followers of Christ and one may drag down the other; one of you may have to be the sounding board all the time i.e.; one of you may have to be the one who gives all the spiritual direction. Instead of two equal partners we may have a parent-child relationship.
4. If you're dating someone who has been married previously how does their past impact your relationship? How as a couple and individually are you going to come together as a reflection of Christ and work through the various challenges? If children are present is the co-parenting with their other parent amicable or contentious? Realize that if you sign up to marry someone who is in continual custody issues it will likely affect your spouses mood and at times they may need extra emotional support from you; are you able and willing to give it? Are you willing to put in the effort for the long haul? You may be the only positive role model his/her children have; are you up to that responsibility?
5. I have heard from countless folks who never dreamed of loving someone again or ever marrying after divorce and yet they have found a partner who is such a blessing in their life. They have learned the hard way what works in marriage and what doesn't and thankfully can actively use that knowledge positively in their second marriage. For some it's the first time they have experienced true safety and intimacy in a relationship. Marriage does not fix or remove our baggage we have from past relationships, emotional or physical abuse, etc… it will not act as a bandaid… but ask yourself this: Is this person is open to healing? Are they open to dealing with what they've experienced? If they are that's half the battle… make the effort to go to pre-marital counseling and see if there are any issues that still need addressing. What your partner has been through has partly made them who they are today… celebrate them and the love you have together in Christ.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2015