Saturday, July 14, 2012

It's Time for a Baptism

Once upon a time, there was a 12-year-old girl that was raised in church.  One day, she was moved to walk the aisle and pray "The Sinners Prayer" as us Christians like to call it.  She was baptized and later prayed to be filled with Holy Spirit.  Everyone in her family was happy and felt safe that if she passed away she would spend eternity in Heaven.  Since this little girl has been raised in church, she knew all of the right things to say and do in order to be a good and proper Christian.  The only problem was, there was no change inside of her.  She did not grow in her relationship with the Lord.  She did not spend time with him.  She simply lived the life of a typical, young teenage girl.  In fact, as she hit her teenage years, she became angrier and more rebellious than ever before.  The sin in her life grew to such heights that she hurt many, including herself, before falling from the top of her sin mountain.  She was 28-years-old when she hit rock bottom. 

All the while, thinking she was a child of God.  She attended church.  She served in the church.  She was a leader in her church.  Yet, something was very broken inside of her.  She was dead on the inside and all of her efforts to act like a true Christian were nothing more than words and works.

That girl was me.

In 2001, I attended my first ladies encounter retreat and that weekend...that was where the true change started.  That is the point that I can say, "The Lord did a deep work inside of me and I have not been the same since."  That was my true point of salvation.  However, for years I have believed and testified that I was saved back when I was 12-years-old.  I looked back over those years of turmoil, pain and sin thinking I had simply "lived in the pig pen" like the Prodigal Son. 

I literally have stood in pulpit after pulpit sharing my testimony that way...believing it.   I remember one time, many years ago, as I was preparing my testimony for a ladies encounter retreat, that I stopped and wondered if I was really saved back then.  But I quickly rationalized that thought away.  I didn't think about it again for several years.  Well, I started questioning my point of salvation a couple of years ago.  I discussed it with my husband and some close friends, but we always walked away thinking I was just being over sensitive.  That the enemy was trying to create confusion.  But from time to time the question would arise again in my mind. Why it isn't something that has been burning inside of me all along, I do not understand.

Bro. Bill has been teaching on baptism and salvation (true salvation).  I've been doing one-on-one with some ladies and the baptism and salvation lessons have stirred my mind yet again.  And it has recently been on my mind night and day.  Well, a couple of weeks ago I'd had enough.  "Enough is enough and I can't stands no more!"  I asked, "Why am I flip flopping around with this?"  When I look back at all of the things that I called Christianity, those were nothing more than works.  No real change happened in my when I was 12.  Salvation came for me in 2001. 

Whew...that's settled.  Yes, the way I share my testimony has officially changed...

BUT WAIT... after salvation comes baptism.  Um...I'm realizing that in order to be obedient to God, I should have been baptized 11 years ago.  Great.  That's just great.  (In walks pride and shame.)  I have been ministering to people and I've even baptized someone, yet I myself have not followed through with what I should have done 11 YEARS AGO!  Oh my word.  How could I have been so foolish!?  I have walked so closely with the Lord since 2001...why is it JUST NOW grabbing hold of me like this?  It's been bad in the past week.  So bad that one night I cried out, "Lord, just let me go outside and baptize myself in the pool!" (No one else was home...)  Oh how I wish it had been this strong in me 11 years ago when I returned from the retreat.  I hate that I missed this every important moment.

I have repented for being foolish.  I have repented for not listening to the still small voice that has tried to show me that I needed to recognize when I truly surrendered my life to the Lord.  I want to be obedient and my pride certainly is not happy about it.  (That's one reason I'm posting this on here for all 10 of you to see! :)  So I will be scheduling a baptism for myself.  I can't imagine the questions it will stir up.  (Oh, there's that pride again.)  I pray that this does not hurt anyone.  I pray that the Lord uses me...this new twist to my testimony... to set others free.  I pray it will start a revolution in the lives of those that hear about this.  Please God, use this like You have used the rest of my testimony to set captives free!  I pray that Christians will come forward for baptism.  I pray that those that have pridefully fought-off the reality that they were saved at a later time than they have declared - and have not been baptized - that they will surrender their will and allow the Lord to do a mighty work through the obedients of baptism.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Towel folding can lead to adultry

I know.  That's one of the craziest titles I've put on this blog.  I promise that I'm not taking hallucinogenic drugs.  I know you're wondering what the two have in common, and maybe you're wondering if you need to do a little something different with your bathroom laundry rituals.

It's not about the act of towel folding, it's the attitude. (So don't run in and refold all of your towels!)  Let me expand on my our Rich's thoughts. (Yes, he was the mastermind behind this crazy example.)

Rich and I attended the wedding of a wonderful couple that are looking at many years of blissful marriage - as they take each "marriage hurdle" in stride.  Those hurdles, no matter how small, can either be an opportunity to grow and get stronger as a couple OR they will trip them up and be the cause of injury and a failed marriage.  Small hurdles such as how to fold towels.

"Hogwash" you may say...if you're from the South.  If you are from other areas of the country, you might simply choose to say, "Nonsense".  Well, let's see...

Anyone that is married remembers those first months of "true discovery" after the wedding.   In those first few months, all masks come down and get shoved in a drawer.  You begin to see each other with bed head and no make up.  You end up picking up each others dirty underwear out of the floor.  You  pull your jeans out of the washing machine with pink streaks on them, because they were washed with red towels.  Those, as shocking as they are, do not stand up to the most revealing things that can rock the world of newlyweds.  No, sometimes it is the fact that "she" doesn't make pot roast exactly like your mother or "he" doesn't know how to fix the toilet anything like your dad.  Or, maybe it's that the other doesn't ever make the bed unless you are having company and he/she DOESN'T FOLD THE TOWELS RIGHT!! (Gasp)

Such shock and frustration comes when we discover that every household in America doesn't fold the bath towels exactly like Momma taught us to fold them.  And we are certain that WE do it the right way.  Remember how you would go in and pull them out of the cabinet and refold them?  (Maybe you didn't, but let's just say that someone in our house did...)  Small things can grow into great points of contention.  Little hairline fractures begin to show up in the marriage foundation.  Our attitude towards our spouse begins to sour.  Add that to the discovery that he/she doesn't handle finances like you and you've got yourself a problem.  Suddenly her prince charming on a big white horse begins to look like a hobo riding up on a donkey or his Juliet begins to look and sound like the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz.

Ephesians four is a great chapter in dealing with this sort of problem.  Ephesians 4:2-4 says, "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."  That is certainly one of the main goals within a marriage but that isn't always easy when selfish desires and pride step in the way.  When something isn't done the way we think it should be done.  When living with someone in peace, love and unity turns out to be way more difficult than we expected.  Even when we do all the right things before we get married (abstain from premarital sex, do devotionals together, have all the needed deep discussions, do premarital counseling, establish the habit of praying together every day etc.)  "Little" hurdles become massive chasms.  Ephesians 4:26-27 goes on to tell us, "26 In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold."

It's easy to blow up on your spouse about those towels being folded the wrong way.  In that angry outburst you say all the wrong things in all the wrong ways.  Anger is not a bad thing, it's what you do with it.  It's towels.  Really?  Is it really a battle you need to fight?  Maybe you're a stuffer so you stuff that frustration and anger deep inside to be used as a weapon at a later time.  We easily find ourselves getting angrier and angrier over unmet expectations.  Each and every instance gives the enemy a foothold in our lives.  And when we hang on to that anger a root of bitterness begins to grow and the enemy ends up with more than his foot in the door of our life.

Hebrews 12:15 (NLT) says, "15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many."  A poisonous root of bitterness.  Another translation said to, "watch your thoughts about others".  The poisonous thoughts that we start having about our spouse over small hurdles, such as folding towels, will lead to bitterness and will poisonous us and many around us.  Not only will the enemy take us down but he'll take down many people around us.  That foothold he has because of our anger and thoughts about some silly towels will turn into a stronghold in our mind which ends up leading us deeper and deeper into sin.  Those poisonous thoughts will lead us into believing that our spouse will never meet our needs, we'll never be happy with them, this marriage is a joke, etc. etc. and before you know it, we're looking for someone else to fulfill our needs.  In walks adultry. (Or some other type of sin.)

The enemy loves to sneak into our lives through our thoughts.  The next time you get angry about something your spouse did or didn't do, take a moment to ask the Holy Spirit to bring truth and revelation to you about the situation.  When you let Him lead you, those small hurdles will bring growth instead of injury.