Friday, September 28, 2012

Confession #23 Bullies Get Back!

Bullying is a huge topic these days and rightfully so.  Too many of our children and teens have been hurt, taunted, terrified and tortured by these so called bullies.  However, bulling doesn't stop at children, lately I've begun to notice that grown ups have their own brand of this horrible behavior and it has got to stop

I just want to know why people think it's okay to spread rumors, talk behind someones back and make others feel terribly uncomfortable in their presence.  These people tend to believe that their behavior is justified but ignore the fact that in actuality they are being nothing but a no good Jesus' hating bully.  That's right I said it, a Jesus hatin' B.U.L.L.Y!   When someone tries to intimidate another person out of the environment that they spend time in whether it be a neighborhood, job, organization or church said person is playing bully.    What's worse is I've seen it happening in churches, the place your supposed to go to feel safe, feel loved, and to learn and grow in God's love.  Where's God's love, in that kind of behavior? While I realize that most of us at church are the spiritually sick and that church serves as a kind of hospital to bring healing to our broken hearts and minds, it is not okay to use that environment for a personal playground to bully.

God made us all different for a reason. And that reason was not to weed out the weak or the less fortunate nor to pick apart our differences.  God loves variety, he creates beauty with it and never did He ever intend that it become a breeding ground for hatred.   Just because someone is different does not give people the right to treat anyone poorly!!!!!  Nor is it justified to take anger out on someone else.  If one has a problem with another it should be dealt with peaceably not with ugliness.  "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."  Romans 12:19 (King James Version)

Christians it's time to unite and stop bullying across the board, but we need to start with our churches.  We cannot be so afraid that we will lose a parishioner by confronting them on this issue in love and truth mixed with grace and mercy.  But if they do choose to go, then so be it.  Jesus will find them wherever they go and hopefully bring change to their hearts.  It's our job to forgive them and pray for them; not foster an environment for their hatred.

Ladies will you join with me?  Start with refusing to take part in this ugliness.  Love thy neighbor as thyself.  When someone wants to whisper gossip in your ear about someone else, refuse to listen to it.  When others have rumors to spread, don't be a party to it.  When you see someone mistreat another, stand up and say something in love.  Foster an environment of mediation and healing.  Let's stop the spread of this behavior by showing people just how Jesus intends us to behave.  People cannot expect to conform to what they don't see modeled before them.  Lead by example Jesus lovers. 

"But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgement will be revealed.  God 'will give to each person according to what he has done.'  To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.  But for those who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.  There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew then for the Gentile.  For God does not show favoritism."  Roman 2:2

"Dear Heavenly Father, I pray today that we women will unite in our churches across the world to put a stop to bullying once and for all.  Teach us all to lead by example in love mixed with grace and mercy.  And Lord show these bullies how ugly their behavior is and convict them to repentance.  In Jesus precious name I pray." AMEN!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Confession #22 - I'm Sending You Back to The Future!

It was the summer of 1985  my best friend just got a brand new Nissan 300zx for her birthday.  Fast cars, and fast friends that was the crowd that I hung with; a young teen on the brink of loosing her innocence.  His name was John.  He was mildly handsome and very flirtatious and for a girl like me who was craving attention, he fit the bill.  It didn't matter that my friend had been seeing him, I liked him and I was going to be his.  By the end of the summer I got my wish.  When school started so did the pressures of being "in love".  He said he loved me too so it was okay; he was the one.  My friends pressured me too; pressed me into doing what I knew I wasn't ready for.  I gave in anyway. 

The breakup came three months later.  My parents discovered the truth and so they wouldn't let me see him anymore.  My heart broke as I picked up the phone for the last time to speak to John, "I'm sorry but my mom and dad won't let me see you anymore," I mumbled through my tears.  "Okay" was his reply.  And John quickly moved on with his life.  In fact, he immediately began dating a girl he would flirt with in front of my face while we were dating.  Then on to another, this time a girl I worked with.  Each time I would see him come pick her up after work my heart would ache.  Each time I'd pass them making out in the school halls, I'd run in the bathroom and cry.  Inevitably I would run into them at the mall, or McSugars, the popular high school hang out, that would literally bring on a panic attack.  This went on for 3 years.  By graduation, there had been other boys I dated and even one that I had been seriously seeing for most of my senior year, but I still hadn't gotten over John.  It was as if a piece of me was missing and he had it.

The years passed and I'd run into John less and less.  I married my husband eleven years later.   This was the man that God had picked out, the man that should have gotten what I gave to John.  However, I never really gave John much thought, he became a fleeting regret of the past and I felt happy. 

Fast forward to three months ago - approximately 27 years after we began dating.  I was checking Facebook and noticed that it was my friend's birthday.  This was the same girl who was seeing John, back when I wanted to date him.  I posted a Happy Birthday wish, and then my mind began to drift, reminiscing about the past.  Not a past that I'm particularly proud of.  Anyway John was on my mind and I started to panic a little as I did in the past.  All I could think about is God forbid he should see me like this, older and much, much fatter!  Here I am a grown woman married to a wonderful man, and I am freaking out at the meer thought of seeing someone I haven't seen in 27 years.  So I prayed, "God please, please, please, don't EVER let me run into John again."  "I don't think I can face him." 

Wouldn't you know it, very next day I met my girlfriend for a play date at one of the children's play centers.  I'm sitting there helping my daughter into dress up clothes, I glance up and across the room, no joking, there HE WAS!  It was John!  OH MY GOODNESS, all those feelings came rushing back.  Panic ensued, I felt like I just climbed into the Delorean at 88 miles per hour and raced back to 1985.  My jaw dropped, my complexion turned white and I stood there with my mouth open wide staring straight ahead.  My friend came up to me and asked if I was okay.  It jarred me.  My head shaking a violent no from side to side, I went to hide in a corner.  I sat there for at least ten minutes hyperventilating.  What in the world was wrong with me?  Was God telling me it was time to face my fears? 

Once I was somewhat calm, I explained the situation to my friend.  She was shocked and asked if I was planning on talking to him.  My reply, "NO! Absolutely not."  As the words left my mouth I turned around and nearly walked smack dab into John. 

"Hello John", I said with a warm smile.  He looked completely perplexed.  "It's Joanne, Joanne LaSorella, well Cuchel now."  We spoke for a few minutes catching up and then parted with a handshake. 

That was it, the panic, the fear, the loss, GONE!  It was over.  I had given John control over me for twenty seven years but now, God had forced me to face my fears to prove to me that He had healed my wounds.  He proved to me that I could be proud of who I am no matter what, and that who He had created me to be, I was. 

The point is the heartbreak and insecurity I suffered after loosing my first love is one of the main issues that led me to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the first place.  I know that God used this pain in my life for His good.  God had set me free of the bondage I had to these emotions when I accepted Christ, only I didn't realize it. The lesson here is found in John 8:36, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."  When you accept Christ, you are free from all bondage, all sin; you are healed.  You don't need to live in the past you can go back to your future knowing that Christ's sacrifice on the cross broke the chains that sometimes keep us enslaved to our past sin.  In Matthew 27 verse 51 when Jesus gave up his spirit and died on the cross it says, "At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom."  This is the curtain that separated the high priests from the presence of God in the temple.  The death of Christ actually ripped the curtain that separated us from God and to allowed us to be in the very presence of God.  It's God's presence in our lives that heals our broken hearts and mends our inner wounds.

"Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ's sacrifice.  And thank you for forcing me to face my fears and for making me realize that you did free me from my emotional bondage.  Please continue to break the chains that bind me so that I can continue to do your work and to live life to the fullest.  And dear Lord, bring my sisters in Christ back to their futures by helping them realize that they are also free indeed."  AMEN!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Confession #21 - Cheap Thrills Mean Nothin'

If you grew up in the 80's like I did you may remember a song by Planet Patrol called Cheap Thrills.  Cheap Thrills mean nothing...they will tear your soul apart.  Well I've learned this lesson the hard way. 

The school I grew up in taught me if somethings broke don't fix it just buy a new one.   Cheap Thrills.  Spend money on lottery tickets.  Cheap Thrills.  Upgrade your car every few years.  Cheap Thrills.  New Clothes for every vacation.  Cheap Thrills etc....

Growing up in that kind of environment conditioned me to think that money was the only thing that mattered.   I never really put a value on money or how much stuff cost.  If I wanted something I bought it. Now that kind of philosophy might lead one to believe that I grew up in a family with means.  Not so; I grew up in a family that had nothing, but, good credit.  We could pay if off on a cc or make monthly payments so we'd buy it.  To this day many of my dads sentences start, "When I win the lottery...." 

The the odds of winning the lottery are about one in 175 million.  But one of these days dear old dad will. Not.  Sorry folks but dear old dad like the rest of us are just chasing a pipe dream if we really believe that we will win.  Playing the lottery is such a waste of the precious resources that God has blessed us with.  And when we spend our time and energy dreaming about how to spend our windfall we are actually worshipping an idol.  Idol worship is detestable to God.  Col 3:5-6  says, "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature; sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming!"  Cheap Thrills mean nothing they will tear your soul apart.

Money, sex, food, lust. greed.  God puts the kibosh on it all.  As Christians we are new creations in Christ, we don't need to worship the flesh (our earthly desires) any longer.  Our God will take care of us, He will provide for us.  Matt 6:31-34 says, "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or, 'What shall we wear?'  For pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough troubles of its own."

So many years I've gotten myself and my family into financial troubles because I failed to trust God with my money.  Instead I left it up to the bank to refinance my house for more than it was worth, so I could make costly improvements.  Well once the housing recession hit, I became over $150k upside down in my mortgage.  We bought and leased new cars we didn't need because my husband and I thought the other wanted them bad enough and we did want to disappoint one another.  I racked up credit cards throwing fabulous parties, and trying to drown out my depression from not being able to get pregnant.  I chased the dollar and I lost.  What do I have to show for all of this?  Not much. 

After filing for bankruptcy in 2010 my husband and I agreed, no more Cheap Thrills!  I'm officially done with major credit cards.  If we don't have the cash, we don't buy it.  That has been a very difficult rule to live by since we haven't had the cash for much over the last few years.  It's difficult to gas up the car, purchase a new mattress, throw my daughter birthday parties, and the like, but by the grace of God we have managed.  I believe because instead of gambling on greed, I started gambling on God.  I know that sounds strange, but in the midst of my financial struggle instead of spending my last $1 on a lottery ticket my husband I decided to start tithing.  We decided to gamble by trusting God with our money and let Him provide for our needs.

It worked!  I mentioned in a previous post that I have never missed a mortgage payment to date.  We have been able to pay off both our cars.  It's been a struggle and we are still trusting God for some of our needs that have yet to come but we eat three meals a day, our daughter  has new clean uniforms for school and our dogs are fed and the list continues.  God has been faithful even though we are living on 10% less every month. 

Now we pray before we make any major financial decision and stick to a budget.  A long road, may be even longer till we see the clearing through the trees, but somehow God always pulls us through the forest.

"Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for always meeting my needs and even sometimes my wants.  Thank you for teaching me to become a better stewart of the money you have blessed our family with.  Father continue to teach me and guide me in this area, and dear Lord, for my precious sisters may still be chasing Cheap Thrills, may they come to know and trust that you are our only guarantee to happiness." AMEN

Monday, September 10, 2012

Confession # 20 - Warning confessions can be detrimental to your health!

Before I post my next confession let me just say: I'm back baby!  I've have taken a tiny sabbatical from blogging for the last month, one, because I have been preparing for my speaking engagement at the Women's Ministry event last Saturday, and two,  because the Lord has been working on me in some areas of my life.  In fact because of some of my confessions God has sought fit to "deal" with me. : )  It's all good and I am making progress but there's been quite a bit of growing pains along the way. 

For example, in previous posts I've confessed that:, I want to get away, and God's forced me to face some huge issues in my life that I've been avoiding.  I've also confessed that I don't do confrontations, and in this short month I've been faced with three of the largest confrontational experiences of my life!  Additionally I've confessed that I need to clean up this mess and get myself well.  Consequently, God has revealed to me that although my faith is strong my will is weak and that I need to begin making good and healthy choices.

My advice to you, as unsolicited as it may be,  is to be careful of what you pray for.  Simply, because God does answer prayer, Big Time!  If your not ready to deal with your issues then don't confess them because our loving and faithful Heavenly Father will force you face them head on and expect you to do the work you may have been expecting him to do.  Remember my last post, God doesn't clean up our messes?  Well He doesn't but He will hold the mirror up to your face and reveal your dirty messy life to get you to change.  This is always an eye opening experience.

It's that old chisel and hammer effect.  If you ask God to mold you into the woman He wants you to be, well then don't underestimate that when He begins to chisel away at your heart that there won't be pain and shame. But it's so worth it in the long run.  The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:10, "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." And 2 Corinthians 4:16 tells us, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all."

Whatever confessions you have turned over to God He will cause you to deal with them.  However  the Apostle Paul reminds us, "...we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  Romans 8:28.  And Psalm 37 tells us, "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun."

Dear Lord, "Although I know this can be detrimental to my "health",  I pray that you would continue to chisel me into the woman you created me to be."  I pray that the pain would be "light and momentary" and that the result would bring glory to you."  "And dear Father, please do the same for my sisters in Christ everywhere."  AMEN.