Divorce Is Not a Simple Never

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I hear Malachi 2:16 quoted often. It’s the verse generally quoted out of context that says God hates divorce. God also doesn’t like, manipulation, lying, violence, gossip, and a whole host of other things but when we’re counseling couples this is the go-to scripture. Except when it’s not. I’ve been in ministry for over 15 years and just when I think I’ve heard it all, something new pops up. The question then becomes do I counsel and meet the status quo of the church or do I counsel in love?

In the case of the minor infidelity, I recognize it sounds like sarcasm but it isn’t because honestly infidelity is minor compared to what I hear, you can put Humpty Dumpty back together again when he has a crack.

In the case of the porn addiction you can transfer the fear of intimacy and get a marriage back on track but these are minor compared to the shattering realities of some marriages.

What do I tell the mother who has just found out her husband is molesting his child? Do I tell her God hates divorce?

What do I tell the wife who comes in and shows me her burn marks and bruises of abuse? “Go back home Daughter of the Most High King, for you see, your Father hates divorce.”

What do I tell the woman who has been told that her husband is going to be staying at their house sometimes, and his girlfriends house sometimes?

What do I tell the woman whose husband was having sex with her daughter and selling the video tapes to his friends for extra money?

What about the woman who has lost her home because her of her husband’s _____________ problem? Fill in the blank, I’ve heard them all, drug, gambling, spending, loaning.

Why am I only speaking about women and not men? Trust me, I know men have been wronged often more deeply than these examples if you can believe it. I get it but you see, I minister to women. I am surrounded by women. So I hear stories from women.

So instead of telling them that God hates divorce, instead sometimes I say, “Get to a safe place where you can think about what your next move is.” No where, not one place, in the bible does it say we must stay in an abusive situation, nor does it say God tolerates abuse. In fact, it talks of love, of bearing one another up. We must be wise, but we aren’t to be heartless and we certainly should never line up with sin.

The dogmatic response of never can’t stand in the face of truth. Life is complicated and sometimes nightmares and horror stories become real life. When I hear Never Divorce I wonder what you would tell your daughter? Well she’s God’s child and she wasn’t created for some of the things she has gone through.

 

 

 

Genuine Kindness

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Proverbs 17:17 – A friend loves at all times. 

Something happened at TLC last week that just made me smile!

I preached a message on purses. I talked about the stuff we carry in our purses, what is necessary and what isn’t.  I grabbed the purses in my closet and went to church and set them up. There were 8 of them. Four of them are going to be cleaned up to donate to the RMA thrift store and four of them I keep for sentimental value. A purse that my husband bought me on our first Christmas, one which was handmade in Africa, one that is from the 40’s that I use for decorative purposes, and one which was a splurge.

One of the women of TLC asked, “Susan are those all your purses?”

I said yes and then held my breath……..

I love clothes and shoes and purses and as a woman in ministry it is often a place of criticism. I had a Pastor’s wife come up to me once and say, “Just how many pairs of boots does one woman need? Don’t you know there are people who have no shoes?” I do in fact know that, and I do in fact, give to many missions projects but this type of judgment happens all of the time, not just to me, I’m not special. I once heard a person say, Bill Gates wasn’t being generous when he gave a gift of $100,000.00 to a project. They said, “$100,000 is like me giving $10. Bill Gates could afford to give more. Only, to me, $100,000 is not like $10, it’s like $100,000. Bill Gates could have given nothing at all.

So why did I hold my breath?

The comments. The people who are ready to pounce with condemnation. I held my breath because even though I work through the comment,  it still makes me sad that I live in a space where it even matters. I realize that the comments are not my problem. 

The response surprised me.

“Susan, we need to trade purses sometime. You have some I like.”

YAY! There was no negative comment or judgment. I loved it. It made me happy.

I went home and told my husband.

I told a few close friends this past week, each time with a smile on my face.

So I asked her which of the purses she liked the most? She liked an animal print one I had. You know something?  I was going to give her whichever one she chose, sentimental one or not. Someone who was genuinely happy. I shared it at TLC last night and there were lots of smiles! It felt good not to be on the hot seat. It felt really, really good!

God is working on me. I pray he is working on you as well this week. May you experience little moments of happiness as you cross hurdles into your most excellent future.

 

 

Dead or Alive?

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Luke 24: 1 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. 5 Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?

I woke up with the sentence in my head :

Why do you seek the living among the dead? 

 

Why do we seek the approval of man instead of Jesus?

Why do we uplift others opinions as fact rather than the words that Jesus spoke over us?

Why do we find our identity in who are friends are?

Why do we seek to glorify ourselves?

Why do we offer up our bodies as sacrifice to artificial love?

Why do we care more about people on Facebook than God?

Why do we care so much about our filtered image on Instagram when this flesh is just a tent?

Why do we speak death instead of life?

Why do we yoke up with worry?

Why do we yoke up with disdain?

Why do we yoke up with gossip?

Why don’t we pray when things are good?

Why don’t we care more?

Why do we not know what is going on in the world?

Why are we not concerned with the political arena?

Why do we dismiss dominion and embrace bondage?

Why do we dismiss self control and embrace victimization?

Why do we make excuses to continue to move, and breathe, and have our being in dead carcasses and not live in a breathing, moving Holy Spirit?

Why not look again into a mirror and see the reflection that can bring us a life worth living eternally?

 

As in a mirror

Why do we continue to seek the living among the dead? 

 

 

Walking It Out TLC4Women’s New Season

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TLC4Women is getting ready to start its new year. It’s a special year for us since it’s our Seventh! I can’t tell you how excited I am to be with this group of women and the new ones they will bring to the class.

When TLC first started we started because we wanted a different kind of bible study. One that would bless us as women, teach us the word, and give practical tips to applying principles to our lives to make it better. I wanted a group with a promise. One that said, if you’ll come and study, your life will change. The banner over our ministry was “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” Romans 12:2 so Transforming Life Center was birthed.

On Monday we will all gather to worship, to pray, to set the pace for how walking this life out will look like in the 2013-2014 season. We plan on tackling three big areas this year.

1. What are the weapons of our warfare as women and daughters of the Most High King? Prayer, praise, tenacity, and a strong love of God and his Word.

2. What does it mean to be a disciple and even better what does it mean to make a disciple?

3. Who is the Holy Spirit and how do we keep him at the forefront guarding our steps and making sure we don’t break our ankles?

Prayer, Disciples, Praise, all led by the Holy Spirit and that would be a great year but we have to more to learn. Then we’re going to study the Prophet Malachi. Word for word, verse by verse. Who was he and what can he teach us?

It’s going to be a great year and I can’t wait! See you all on Monday at 7.

Being Present

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Genesis 22:1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”

Genesis 22:7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.”

Genesis 22:11 But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.”

There is so much distraction these days. I find myself reaching for my phone out of boredom. When faced with an uncomfortable silence I will grab the phone. How much I must miss out on!

There is joy in being present in the moment. There are things that could change our lives but I wonder what we miss when we are too distracted? As I was reading this passage of scripture this week I noticed that Abraham was experiencing life altering blessings as he lived in the moment. Abraham was attentive to the voices in his life and he was responding obediently to each of them.

Here I am

What powerful words. In context of which Abraham speaks here, he is present to God. He is present to His son, and he is present to His messenger. Three simple words and yet, in the tyranny of the urgent, we often miss them. We tune out more often than not. There are messages coming across the screen as I write this, that I am trying to ignore in order to get my point across without losing it. How many times have I had what I call lonely lunches when my spouse gets a phone call in the middle of our time together and he says, “Oh, I’ve been waiting for this call all morning.” You might think this is rude but it’s more normal today than ever before and I have to admit there are times when I am guilty. Yet! What do I miss? At the end of the my life what will matter most, the phone call that interrupted my lunch or the conversation with my man?

Here I am. I am going to practice that sentence. For you see, if you read it again:

Here I am 

you begin to catch a glimpse of something even bigger. Here I am. In this present moment I am. In this present moment I am truly in the image of my Father. Not early, not late, just in time. In this sacred space I am truly a representative of what He is to us all. Present. In our time of trouble, in our time of sorrow, in our time of joy, in our time of doubt, in our triumphant time, and our defeat. Here I am. Let’s practice it.

The Blessed Life

In our kick-off study at TLC4Women we opened up our hearts and minds to the teaching of Pastor Robert Morris of Gateway Church in Dallas, Texas and his book The Blessed Life. What a time of generosity unfolded. I watched the class grasp the concept of opening up our heart to the things of God and the beautiful word, tithe. Each Monday night brought fresh revelation of what transpires when we were aware of the principle of giving in our lives. Each Monday night I heard testimony as the women began to give to God with new understanding of what their gifts entailed. I believe many churches in our city will be blessed by our lesson and many, many lives will be changed because of it.

While I’m sworn to secrecy on the conversations that go on in this class, I can tell you that it blessed me. Each Monday night I came home with a smile on my face and a grateful heart, but let me just tell you what blessed me the absolute most! When we talked about extravagant gifts! I was expecting the women to tell me about gifts, actual presents, material things, financial blessings, only they didn’t. They spoke to me about time spent with loved ones, about words spoken in love, about books that changed their lives, about family time, about restored marriages, about the extension of love to our community. So while the book dealt with your finances, the rewards and the promises fulfilled by God were enriched lives in every aspect. Sacrifices were given but the return was more than we could have ever imagined.

The overall consensus was that this book is a must read. I have to say, I thought I’d meet this study with resistance, since we come from different houses across the city, but you have to love the TLC women. They are hungry for knowledge and change and they are women who trust and love God with their whole entire beings! I love them all so much you can’t even begin to know.