Tag Archives: trials

An emotional affair

21 Mar

Today, I’m sharing a post by a blogger who wishes to remain anonymous for the sake of her husband.  I can TOTALLY respect that, especially given the subject matter.

Before I share, let me first say that I believe more women have emotional affairs than even know that they have.  For many of us, we see the word “affair” and assume, it was OBVIOUS.  I mean, a physical affair is obvious right?  There is no “hmmm, I wonder if we accidentally just slept together and if that means we did something we shouldn’t have?”  Emotional affairs aren’t always shining in the spotlight, but the damage is equally terrible!

~~~~~

I don’t know what to do with my story other than to share it.  I hate it, and yet, I want others to learn from it.  To see themselves in the mess, and to prevent emotional affairs from gaining the hearts of women everywhere!

I grew up in a home where girls were encouraged to get a good education and be the best they could be in life.  Along with that, I don’t remember any warnings or teachings to unconditionally respect your husband, lead your heart, or protect your marriage from predators.  I carried that “I’m smart and driven” attitude in life right with me into my marriage.

I felt like my wisdom was always better than my husbands.  He seemed to sin often and in worse ways than I did, I seemed to be the only one who could make the house run (I remember thinking often that if I died, he would die or have to hire a maid because he was incapable of doing anything) and I felt like the decisions he wanted to make were childish or lacking long-term thought.

He didn’t have the same priorities as I did, nor did he seem to value everything I was capable of doing.  He seemed to “expect it.”

I was a shining tower of disrespect.  I had pride wrapped around me and intertwined in everything I did in my marriage.  I felt like at one point I messed up so bad by marrying this man because he didn’t live up to my standards.  He wasn’t perfect.  And I started resenting so many things about him.

I wasn’t even sure I loved him.  Or if I ever did for that matter.

I could only see his faults.

While my marriage seemed to be unraveling (well in my mind at least, I don’t think my husband knew I felt this way at all… or the rest of the world either) I started to be obviously upset at work.

I never had any problems being friends with guys.  Some of my best friends growing up were guys. Girls were mean and full of drama.  I saw nothing wrong with having male friends, even if you were married.

So, I started sharing intimate details about my marriage with one of my guy friends.  At first, I found this really helpful FOR my marriage.  He seemed to offer a perspective in favor of  my husband so I could see things from his point of view.  While I felt torn that I had better communication with this guy than I did my husband, I felt a little compassion for my husband by thinking some things through with some male insight.

THIS WAS THE BAIT.

As time went on, the male friend relationship started meeting SO MANY NEEDS that I wasn’t getting at home.  From compliments on my work and appreciation for what I contributed to the office to eventually reflect how pretty I was and how desirable I was as a woman.

We seemed to click emotionally – we thought the same things were funny and we laughed all the time.  Work was fun.  Home was miserable.

We seemed to click intellectually – we understood each others work problems and could help each other out equally.  At work I had a partner.  At home I had a lazy bum.

We seemed to click relationally – we had similar interests.  We could easily talk about things that would be fun to do some day, and they lined up well.  At work I had someone who thought my ideas were fun.  At home I had someone I could never agree with on anything.

I don’t remember all the specifics, because this was a long time ago, but it was a few months of casual flirting.  Phrases like “You’re seriously the best at your job.  You make it look easy.  And you’re so pretty while doing it too.”

THIS WAS THE HOOK.

There came a point when things took a more obvious turn for the worse.  Conversations written over instant messenger and text that immediately had to be deleted.

I remember staring at my computer while I read the words “I would pin you up against the car and bite your lip.”

I was telling this story to a female co-worker of ours and she said something I will never, ever forget.

I don’t know whether to root for him or your husband.

WWHHHAAATTTTT?????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Bells, whistles, panic set in big time.

Up until this point, everything was so subtle, so simple, so easy, so uncomplicated.  I didn’t feel like I was having an emotional affair at all.  I felt like I had a male best friend.  I mean, don’t you talk about your marriage and spouse to your best friend?  And don’t you talk about “if only” situations?!

I wasn’t attracted to him.  Nor did I think about doing anything physical with him.  But all the sudden, he was thinking and talking physical about me…. and I felt shocked.

Uh oh.

Now what???

The battle got intense.  More intense than I feel like I can even explain.

One day I was saying things like “as much as we seem alike, you’re not even a Christian, we could never work together anyway” in an attempt to let him down easy and make the conversation stop.

And the next, I’d come in from an unpleasant night at home and feeling so much contempt for the man I was married to, that I didn’t care how it “appeared”.  I wanted to feel good about myself, and he made me feel good.  Besides, it wasn’t going to go any farther. I was dead sure of it.

THIS WAS THE LINE.

The next step was attaching that sinker to my feet and going to a place of no return.  I was on the edge of throwing away my marriage and giving into lust over the way someone made me feel.  It wasn’t even ever about the other guy being a “perfect guy”. It was always about how he made me feel.

Thank the good Lord, He stepped in and seemed to take the control out of my hands.

The guy ended up starting a relationship with someone else, and not long after, left our place of employment. And six months later, I ended up being a stay at home mom.

For a long time, I wanted to blame my husband.  He WAS neglecting his roles in the marriage.  He WASN’T walking with the Lord like he should have been.  And he WAS leaving me open to Satan.

BUT — the more I laid this sin before God, the more obvious it became to me that if I could so easily give my heart to someone else because of the way they made me feel…. I would never be married to a man who was good enough.

I was the one with the problem.

And if marriage is a direct reflection of Christ and the Church… I saw my sin of serving any god that met MY needs in the moment of heinous idolatry spewed all over every move I made.

I do think that when a husband neglects to fulfill his roles in the marriage, he’s standing at the gate allowing Satan to walk in freely.

Just as I feel that a woman who neglects her roles in marriage (ESPECIALLY disrespect, and sexual refusal) she is also standing at the gate allowing Satan to walk in freely.

However, even if our spouse neglects to protect us, we always have free will to take the bait of Satan or reject his temptations with Christ’s power.

It only takes one moment of letting your guard down to set off a string of bad choices. The more you sin, the easier it becomes. And the less you feel the guilt and warnings of the Holy Spirit to confess and repent.

~~~~~

From Kayla:

Such a big topic.  I’m so glad to be addressing this on my blog.

Practical Application:

If you found yourself in this post… and need someone to talk to- email me privately and we’ll talk.  gulickfamily@hotmail.com

If you saw your friend in this post, pray right now!  You might be thinking you want to talk to her, but you might offend her.  I rarely say this, but in this situation – take the risk of offending her! Your approach will be crucial, but if you don’t know what to say… give her the link to this post.

Whatever you do, don’t do nothing.  She needs your help! Especially if her husband doesn’t know — she needs someone to help her fight.

If only I learned this years ago….

14 Mar

It’s a common phrase isn’t it?  We’ve all said it.  We’ve all heard others say it.  And we’ve all contemplated how our life would be different if we only knew then, what we know now.

This has never been more true for me than in my marriage.

If I only learned years ago, like 12 years ago, that unconditional respect was a command in Scripture and how to speak and act in a way that was obedient to that command…. my marriage would have been SO different the first 10 years.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have felt like I married an un-romantic dud.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have treated my husband like he was my child.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have thought I was just as much the head of this family as he thought he was.

Maybe, I would have submitted with joy to his ideas instead of insisting that I was always right and so much smarter than he was.

Maybe, my husband would have listened to me more if I was more careful with his feelings.

Maybe, my husband would have talked to me more intimately if he felt safe enough to be vulnerable with me.

Maybe, we would have really been “best friends” instead of just trying to say that we were because it sounded right.

Maybe, my husband would have met more of my needs because he would have felt more fulfilled too.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have been tempted to entertain emotional attention from anyone else.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have been so jealous.

Maybe, we would have had lots and lots of hot and passionate sex.

Maybe, we would have learned to enjoy each others hobbies and looked forward to doing things together instead of him appreciating his time away to do his own thing so frequently.

Maybe, we would have served each other selflessly instead of expecting our feelings to trump the others.

Maybe, my husband would have helped me more around the house because he wanted to instead of digging his heals in and ignoring me.

Maybe —- this list could really just go on forever and ever and ever.

This isn’t just the case with my marriage.  I feel this way about a lot of things in my life.  I’d love a time travel machine to do it all over again.

But.

I don’t think entertaining “if I’d only learned this years ago” is where Jesus wants us to camp out with our thoughts.

I certainly won’t take credit for this phrase because I didn’t come up with it… but it’s incredibly true.

Everything we face will either make us BITTER or BETTER.

We can wrestle with the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s in our mind and maybe we don’t feel like at the end of the day we feel “bitter” about it.  We just feel like it would have been such a different life if we’d only known.

Bitter does seem like a strong word when reflecting, however, what if it isn’t as strong as it sounds?  What if, it really does trap us with negative memories when we reflect like that.

Secretly, do we kinda resent some of those situations still? Do we still feel like it was a negative time in our life?

I know that even though I love my husband beyond belief and have totally forgiven him and been forgiven by him for the mistakes we made in the beginning of our marriage— if I sit and really think back on some situations that were really hard in our marriage, I can start to feel hurt again.

There is one memory in particular of a time when I felt devastated.  And this one really bothers me because I didn’t feel like I “deserved” it.

You know what I’m talking about…. there are memories where you can see why he said something mean because you said something mean first.

This wasn’t like that.

In fact, we’ve talked about it numerous times over the years and he has even said the phrase “if that happened today, I would NEVER do it like that again.”

I know he wouldn’t.  And yet, if I dwell on that memory for ANY amount of time, the hurt tries to push back in.

Christianity is all about being intentional.

We don’t “accept Christ” accidentally.  We don’t just miraculously grow closer to Him just by being alive.  We don’t stumble over an open Bible and learn.

And we don’t become BETTER without being intentional either.

What if…. it was a good thing that we didn’t have marriage all figured out before?

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m about to say.  I don’t think we should keep engaged couple uneducated so they can live the wrong way for a long time because that’s better for them.  Of course that is not better at all!!!  We’re crazy if we keep this knowledge to ourselves and do nothing with it to benefit other believers!!!!

But – God wastes ABSOLUTELY nothing when it comes to our lives and experiences.

Walking through failure, especially in marriage, gives us an irreplaceable way to learn patience, forgiveness, mercy, grace and self-control.

Not only does this further our understanding of what Jesus has given us, but it grows our characters in a way to advance the gospel that can be some of the most powerful testimonies ever!

Of course if we never sinned in our marriages, we’d be an awesome example of getting it right and that God’s way is perfect and beautiful.

But getting it wrong gives us the chance to be BETTER and reach couples just like us who also got it wrong and need the truth.

Practical Application:

If only I learned this years ago….. I wouldn’t know forgiveness like I do today.

If only I learned this years ago…. I wouldn’t be able to relate to wives out there who have blown it big time just like me.

If only I learned this years ago…. I wouldn’t be nearly as aware of just what it took for Jesus to take all my sin to the cross.

Of course, getting it right in the first place is best.  But getting it wrong can lead us to a beautiful place of BETTER.

Easy?

11 Mar

I have a really strong conviction about the word “easy” in Christianity.

I just wrote a post last week about how this life isn’t getting “easier” even though I’m growing in my journey of unconditional respect and also closer to the Lord in general.

It has been brought to my attention that it might have come across as though I was saying I wasn’t finding victory without constant struggle.

Please give me the chance to explain why I don’t and won’t use the word “easy” in any of my posts regarding my life with Christ.

Let me start by acknowledging that Paul wrote well over the majority of the New Testament and yet when discussing his sinful nature he says this:

Romans 7:14-15 “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

He doesn’t make walking in Victory sound “easy” at all!!! And clearly, Paul was victorious over sin so many times, I couldn’t nearly count. He wasn’t sinless before God’s power was mighty and evident in his life, leading him – speaking to him – directing him – giving him courage and strength – and bringing victory.

He goes on to say to the church of Corinth “12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be temptedbeyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (I Corinthians 10:12-13)

Do you see that??? BUT — WHEN you are tempted.  At no time does God promise to remove our temptations.  Ever. That would be “EASY”. HOWEVER!!!! He will provide a way out so that you can endure it (even with joy and worship!) if you call on His name and resist Satan or your own flesh. That is “VICTORY!”

Victory over sin never comes without cost.  That payment is always good and holy because it causes us to die to ourselves, and lay our sin down to choose righteousness, but it isn’t free.

I can be victorious with greater frequency and joy (which praise God almighty, when it comes to respecting my husband, this is proving true!!) but that doesn’t mean it comes easy. Or that if it isn’t coming easy, I’m failing.

I desire God and the victory in my marriage WAY BEYOND the love I have for my flesh.  It’s becoming SO MUCH MORE NATURAL to choose respect quickly and with little hesitation because the results are fulfilling emotionally, physically and spiritually like nothing else! Giving into my sin nature promises fulfillment but it leaves me empty and miserable. I am learning from my mistakes!

I’ve seen far too often in this life, the parable of the seeds ring true, and I cannot be party to the misconception Satan intends to paint.

Do you know what I’m talking about?  The seeds that hear the truth and dismiss it, the one’s that take root but when trials come they fall away, and the seeds that take deep root and produce fruit.

I never want to paint a picture that I’ve dug my roots deep in the ground and have fruit in my life because I have Christ – I pray and I read my Bible every day and my sinful nature is dead and life is EASY now.

Jesus had victory on the cross.  Was that easy?

John the Baptist paved the way for the Savior and then was beheaded.  Was that easy?

Most all of the disciples were stoned and flogged for testifying to the gospel.  Did they find victory from their flesh by facing fear and laying down their natural instincts to follow Christ at all cost? Absolutely!!!!  Was it easy?  No.

WORTH IT?  YES!!!!

ETERNALLY MINDED?  NO QUESTION ABOUT IT!

JOYFULLY CONTENT IN THE LORD?  OF COURSE!

VICTORIOUS OVER SIN? YES, YES, YES!!!!!!

DEFEATED AND ABANDONED?  NOT FOR ONE SINGLE SECOND!!!!!!!!!!!!

Am I saying that if we’re following the Lord life is Hard, Impossible, and we should live in Misery and Defeat?

NO! That’s NEVER the truth!!!!!!!!!

The closer I grow to the Lord, the LESS I even WANT to sin.  I want victory!  And He gives victory!  And that joy in Him is greater than any other feeling I could ever feel. JOY is not happiness as much as VICTORY is not easy.

Satan’s attacks on me, his nasty accusations, and his relentless temptations hold no power compared to the cross.

However, he is still vicious, and choosing to die to my flesh every day is not easy and without thought or intent.

When he sees his attacks are losing power because victory in Christ is stopping him dead in his tracks, he morphs into another temptation and attacks another area.

So if I painted the picture that I am not gaining INCREDIBLE, UNDENIABLE, and AMAZING VICTORY in Christ…. then I failed in writing the post.

Satan has not nearly the power to convince me to disrespect my husband.  God has shown himself faithful to help me recognize Satan and shut him out and choose righteousness.

However, if you walked away from that post understanding that I’ve found immeasurable victory in Christ from where I was with disrespect 19 months ago to where I am today… but I don’t have an EASY life now just because I love God, read my Bible, and respect my husband, then you got the right message.

If Satan was EASY to resist…. we’d live in a different world.

Even Jesus heard Satan’s voice loud and clear in the desert during that 40 days with his accusations and twisting of Scripture.  Did He have victory? Of course.  He was sinless.  Did he not even hear Satan’s voice at all and just walk through life easy, and without temptation because He was sinless and in tune with God? No. He heard Satan and had a conversation with him.  That doesn’t mean he was spiritually immature.

Practical Application:

Remember, the measure of Victory is not based on if you hear Satan or not.  He can be loud and out of control, and that doesn’t mean you haven’t found victory or arrived on your journey.

And — just because the journey isn’t easy, that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you.

EASY was never, ever, ever a promise in Scripture.  Don’t make that the goal.  Make VICTORY the goal!

What’s the story on “My Demon” now?

7 Mar

Do you remember the post I wrote titled “My Demon” from September 21, 2012?  I was just over a month into my new respect journey when this revelation kicked me in the gut. (If you’ve joined since then and never caught it, it’ll help to understand this post by reading that one first.)

In fact, that one post was shared on numerous sites (including Peacefulwife – which is when a lot of you who read April’s blog started following this one too!)  I answered a whole lot of emails and comments on this topic because it rang true for just so many of us women.  And it was very evident at the time, I was just “one of you.”  The post wasn’t written by a scholar in the least.  My real, honest emotions and thoughts are what made it relatable to others. And the revelation and wisdom came straight from God – because I’d lived 10 years of marriage at that point (and 29 years of life) running wild with the thoughts and emotions that presented themselves at any given time. And never knew any different.

April sent me an email and asked me what I thought about writing a follow up to “My Demon” – 18 months later.

Here is a sentence from her email:

“I think it would be neat to hear how you hear the demon’s voice now, how often, the intensity, what you do, and how much stronger God’s voice is now and the kinds of things you focus on and think about now.”

I pretty much immediately told her, “I’ll think about it” while in my mind saying – “No way!”  April’s blog is amazing.  It’s eye-opening, full of brilliant wisdom, insightful, helpful, and pointing out deeply painful but necessary truths to helping women change and save their marriages from a lifetime of misery!  But even more than that — it’s hopeful.  Even the things that are hard to read, are hopeful.  Change can happen, my marriage can be better, I can be a better wife, he can open up and lead as these changes take place — there is HOPE for something new!

And the truth?  I don’t think a follow up to “My Demon” is going to offer the hope April normally posts on her blog.

But — maybe, just maybe, there are women out there who are just like me.  And this post might be for you! So, I’ll answer these questions.

(–  how you hear the demon’s voice now, how often, the intensity)

I still hear my demon’s voice loud as ever and ALL THE TIME! He’s still a raging maniac full of accusations and specifics that beg to be entertained.  He knows me full well, and the areas that I’ve learned to shut down permanently are rarely touched and new areas where he wasn’t attacking before, he’s thrown some boulders at wildly.  He’s no joke.  The closer I grow to my husband – the more respect I show my husband – the stronger the spiritual battle.  The bigger threat we are to him, the more desperate he becomes and the more vicious his behavior.

(– what you do, and how much stronger God’s voice is now and the kinds of things you focus on and think about now.”)

I’m back and forth on what I do.  I’m such a sinner.  More often than not, I refuse to entertain the begging thoughts and accusations against my husband.  But sometimes, I still stumble in my flesh and I dabble in the game.  My journey for respect hasn’t magically or quickly removed all my selfishness, expectations, and ability to see all my husbands faults and sins with a magnifying glass. Especially because WE TRULY ARE A BRAND NEW COUPLE, and in ways that I never stumbled before, there are all new ways to tempt me.  Now, my husband does things for me he’s never done before and talks to me in a way we’ve never communicated, and if that seems hindered, it’s even harder not to jump to conclusions or freak out a little bit at the thought of that going away.

I hear God’s voice and I have allowed His truths to change so many of my behaviors and patterns, but I can’t say He’s always screaming louder than Satan.  I have to intentionally be still and silent to hear God and in the middle of my wrestling — some times I feel so wound up I can’t sit still. Even if that just means pacing the floor in frustration while my husband is at work.  It’s still a choice like it was before to go to Him and listen. In my experience, God rarely screams.  Satan however is a beast, and he’s deafening at times.

What I focus on and think of now is being intentional AND unrelenting.  (I talked about this word in January.)  I make an honest attempt at turning my wild thoughts back on myself.  Why do I feel this way?  Am I giving too much weight to my husband’s short-comings and not nearly enough to his strengths and character? How did I handle this situation?  Do I have disrespect to apologize for?  Is what I am tempted to say full of things that will be helpful to us, or hurt us?

At the end of the day — this respect journey has changed my life!  I want every single woman on the planet to read the books I have, read the blogs I have, and see the world in a different way than it’s being portrayed and pounded into us in every direction.

Life is BETTER with respect.  Life is BETTER with God.  Life is BETTER fighting the good fight.

But does this journey ever get easier?  No.  I’m so sorry if that crushes anyone’s hopes.  Maybe your experience will be different from mine.  Or maybe some of you older and wiser women are out there saying “Oh honey, you just haven’t been doing this as long as we have, you need more time.”  And maybe you’re right.  But at this point, I doubt it.

I think Scripture paints a pretty clear picture that walking the straight and narrow will be hard.  Persecution comes, trials come, heartache comes, and we’re all sinners until we cross over to eternal life.

Is there power in the armor of God? You better believe there is!!! When I intentionally get up in the morning and put on every ounce of protection I can muster on my body and mind – God is faithful to give me strength and courage to PRESS ON in the battle.  But He never makes it easier, even though He’s with me.  He only makes it change me by refining me IN the fire.

Is God’s way worth it? Absolutely.  Is God’s way getting easier? No, it’s not.

But I’d never look back.  I’ll keep fighting the good fight and being refined in the fire pressing on toward the prize.  No matter how loud Satan is, how often he attacks, with what intensity he beats me down and no matter how many times I stumble and fall.

Practical Application:

If you’re out there wondering why you’re not a good enough Christian wife because this hasn’t “gotten easier yet?” – STOP IT! That’s still Satan beating you down.

MY belief? The more Satan attacks, the evidence that you’re walking the straight and narrow because he’s threatened.

In the battle…. try so hard to find that still and quiet place so God can refuel your strength, courage, wisdom and power to keep going and resist Satan’s voice.  You can resist… but I doubt he’ll ever shut up.

Exemption was never a promise.

9 Feb

There is this belief that Christians choose to believe in God for the hope of a cushy life.  As if, believing in God all the sudden makes one exempt to disease, poverty, hunger, heartache and death.

If God’s purpose for us on Earth was to follow Him so we had a free pass in which we’d avoid all consequences of sin on Earth, we would never gain the wisdom of our eternal existence.  And without eternal existence….there would have been no reason for Jesus to go to the cross.  And if Jesus didn’t go to the cross, we wouldn’t even be reconciled to God in the first place, so His creation of us would have no real relevance in our life on Earth at all.

Eternal existence changes everything about our life on Earth.  Without Heaven and Hell, moral law has no relevance. In that case, we’d only love God if that guaranteed our life on Earth was abundant and free from anything bad. Otherwise, we might as well do whatever we want. Right?

The truth is, we are eternal beings.  Through sin, we are separated from God for all eternity, while on Earth and when we die.  Because of God’s great love for us, He sent Jesus to be a once for all blood sacrifice to reconcile us back to Him. For all those who understand their sin and need for a Savior, forgiveness and redemption is available at any moment! Once saved, a believer spends their life running after truth by loving God and loving others.

No exemption is offered in the plan of salvation.  The promise is that through it all, God will be glorified and the gospel will advance.  Those who love God, willingly lay down their lives – no matter what, with unshakable joy because anything that happens to us in this life will all pass away, and will be counted as loss compared to eternally being with our Creator.

Believers in God fall into three categories:

1.) Those who believe in a God…. but pick and choose their own moral law and essentially define who God is for themselves. They don’t usually attend church or read Scripture. But they quote things they’ve heard that they like.

2.) Those who believe in God and worship frequently (through church, prayer and some study) when life is good, but when the storms come, they fall away in disappointment that they weren’t exempt to the disappointments of life on Earth.

3.) Those who believe in God, and run hard after knowing Him for who He tells us He is in Scripture, and trust His moral law is good and just since He created us into existence in the first place.  Even when that means dying to the desires of our flesh, and facing situations in life that we don’t want to face or feel God should change on our behalf.

My friend Karina is a # 3 believer. She’s in her early 30’s, married and has three girls ages 8, 6, and 3. Four years ago she found out that she was facing total kidney failure.  She received a transplant on March 17th, 2011 from her older sister, almost three years ago.  A good kidney transplant should last 8-10 year (maybe longer!) She is now back in the hospital and received the news that her kidney is in rejection and even if the process is slowed, it can’t be stopped.

In the midst of all the human emotions, she will tell you with bold clarity that God is still good and His love is a promise she’d never trade, even if it meant immediate health. Because she knows, this life is NOT all there is to live for.  And that through every situation we face, her character is being refined and molded into the image of Christ and the gospel will advance.

For those of you reading along who know and love Karina personally (and to those of you reading along who know someone else who loves Christ and is up against a situation that seems so unfair) the best gift we can offer is obviously prayer.  The second best gift, is to advance the gospel.  No suffering is ever in vain when lives are turned to Christ.  Karina’s legacy and unshakable joy is passed on through us, in sharing the story and truth.  She was guaranteed no exemptions in this life, and yet, that changes nothing about her faith.  No matter what she’s called to face, the prize is eternity with Christ.

When your eyes are opened to eternal existence, you can’t help but fall in love with Jesus for being the Savior of us all, facing death on a cross.  Even if we were never given another blessing from God (which is NEVER the case, He blesses us all daily) that single act alone is the greatest gift we could EVER be given.

Take a look at the lyrics of this song “I will follow” by Vertical Church Band, and then listen along.

When the sea is calm and all is right
When I feel Your favor flood my life
Even in the good, I’ll follow You
Even in the good, I’ll follow You

When the boat is tossed upon the waves
When I wonder if You’ll keep me safe
Even in the storms, I’ll follow You
Even in the storms, I’ll follow You

I believe everything that You say You are
I believe that I have seen Your unchanging heart
In the good things and in the hardest part
I believe and I will follow You
I believe and I will follow You

When I see the wicked prospering
When I feel I have no voice to sing
Even in the want, I’ll follow You
Even in the want, I’ll follow You

When I find myself so far from home
And You lead me somewhere I don’t wanna go
Even in my death, I’ll follow You
Even in my death, I’ll follow You

When I come to end this race I’ve run
And I receive the prize that Christ has won
I will be with You in Paradise
I will be with You in Paradise

Practical Application:

What kind of believer are you?

How are you being apart of advancing the gospel when you or the ones you love are facing those moments we all define as “why do bad things happen to good people?”

The challenge to refrain from judgment.

11 Jan

No matter who you are, I am 100% confident you’ve run into this issue in your life.  And not only run into it, I am going to take a bold stance here and say that you’ve been on the giving and receiving end of this issue.  Which puts us all in the same boat.  If I’m wrong on this, and this post offends you, please accept my apology before hand — but I have never met anyone yet who has informed me this wasn’t true for them.

I’m going to talk about the reality of having and/or running into someone who has a very strong opinion or conviction about something in their life – and how we handle it and how they handle it.

Incase you’re having a hard time pulling together what I’m talking about, I’m going to give you the top issues where I believe this happens most frequently in the lives of Christians – Immunizations, Education Options, Modest dress, Alcohol consumption, Entertainment choices, Homosexual Lifestyle, and Worship Style.

I’m going to guess as you read through those, you have a preference, opinion, or conviction on them AND you can also think of someone or something that angers you on that topic because of their dogmatic approach or view.

It’s really hard to feel such a strong conviction either supported firmly in Scripture, or just by personal opinion after prayer and study and not feel like anyone who disagrees is simply dead wrong.

It’s also VERY hard not to want to help educate everyone we come in contact with about why we feel the way we feel, and hopefully “win them over” by expressing our point of view.  After all, we feel intensely passionate about our decisions, especially if we reached them after prayer.  How could they not possibly be the right answer for everyone?

If we’re honest – what is more confusing and upsetting than for two Christians to sit across the table from each other and say, “after counsel, prayer and searching Scripture, we are positive this is the direction the Lord is calling us” and they both announce opposite answers.

How can this be?

Yet, often times,  we neglect to see our own dogmatic stances and can become quickly judgmental of other “lesser Christians” for making spiritually immature choices.

But — we never miss the dogmatic stances of others.  And we take such rapid fire offense when we’re:

– Presented another option. (You know, the “I’m coming to you in love” conversation where they simply just want to tell you all the “positive” things about their choice and give you something to consider.)

– Challenged in our beliefs. (When someone comes right out and says – you’re wrong.)

Why is it that we feel such a deep need for everyone to “choose what we choose” in life?   Honestly, lets cut the fluffy ways to say it… that’s what we’re doing.

We don’t share what works for us WITHOUT being asked because we’re just sharing our success. (There is a BIG difference between being asked about a choice you’re making and finding ways to put your opinion on people when not asked.) We’re sharing because we think we’re doing something right and we want others to get it right too.

Is it a desperate attempt to confirm that we really are hearing from God?  Are we not confident enough in our own calling that we attempt to get as many other people on board as we possibly can because it only serves to confirm our choice?

We’re guilty friends.  We’re guilty of searching and seeking for like-mindedness to appease our own beliefs.  We write and read articles that appeal to our pallet of preference.  We seek counsel from those who make the same life style choices.  And we find peace in agreeing with others.

I’m not trying to say “we’re guilty” in a way that brings condemnation.  I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to seek the counsel of those who believe what you believe.  It is actually wise if you’re seeking the counsel of other Bible believing Christians.

However, I just want to give us some food for thought on how we advertise our lives.

I have a friend and I admire her deeply.  She doesn’t even know how much I admire her. But, I watch her approach to life and her spirit blesses and challenges me.

She never gives her opinion unless she’s asked.  And she always does so in a VERY loving and non-judgmental way.  She and I do not agree on everything and it has never once been an issue of contention between us.  She doesn’t lessen her friendship or love for those who do things differently than she does… and IF she struggles with judging others for making choices against her own convictions, I’ve never once see an ounce of that from her.  She has a very peaceful, gentle and quiet spirit about her that trusts deeply that God leads and convicts His children without her “vocal” assistance being forced in any way.  That doesn’t mean she believes God will not use her to speak to others in a way that may convict them, but she never feels the need to take that into her own hands.  She has total faith that the decisions they make in their family through prayer and scripture are right without seeking to prove it from thrusting them on everyone else.  Her love and friendship is not conditional.  Her convictions do not need approval from others.  And she doesn’t pick up offense when others do things differently.

She is a true Proverbs 31 woman in my book, and I hope to keep refining my character to resemble hers.

Practical Application:

Do some reflecting on how you present your convictions and accept the convictions of others.

1.) Do you offer your opinion even when you’re not asked?

2.) Do you seek to get people to agree with your choices?

3.) Do you feel like people are less Christian when they make choices that are different from choices you make?

4.) Are you offended easily when people push their convictions on you?

((To my friends who are doing the 21 day fast with me…. how are you doing?  You can email if you’d like too – gulickfamily@hotmail.com))

 

 

Phil is not a victim.

20 Dec

This whole saga with Phil Robertson and Duck Dynasty consumed the air waves and social media outlets yesterday like I’ve never seen anything else before! I read at least 5 different blogs or articles yesterday and viewed a minimum of 10 different edited photos with a picture of Phil or the family and some sort of quote added.
Majority of my friends on social media are Christians so I didn’t view too many that weren’t in major support of Phil, the show and the family. But they are out there too!

My personal opinion on all this? Let me put it in three parts.

1.) Yes I agree, Christians seem to have a hard go of it when it comes to freedom of beliefs and speech. However, there is a difference between freedom and consequences. Phil was not thrown in jail or killed (freedom) Phil was suspended from work (consequence). Unfortunately, there are negative consequences to even the good actions we make as Christians some times, and this is the result of A&E in a panic that the loudest most vile sect of people are going to destroy them if they don’t act rash. Fear makes us do all kinds of irrational things.

2.) The world is watching every Christian right now. If we stand in protest in a name-calling, crude and degrading humorous way, we are not representing Christ well. Yes, it is good and wise to stand up for your beliefs. But with dignity, humility, honesty, love and tact. Be careful of those pictures and links that you like and share on your page.

3.) Phil is not a victim. And we’re slandering the gospel if we make him one. Scripture tells us that persecution is coming and that we are blessed when we are persecuted for righteousness sake. And that we are to rejoice when we face trials of any kind because it develops perseverance.

I do not know Phil personally, so maybe I am speaking way out of turn here — but I think I know him well enough to say, He does not feel like a victim today. He is living his life for Christ today, exactly like he was three days ago. He is not compiling a team of lawyers to sue everyone upside down and inside out for picking and choosing what they used from his interview, or the slanderous way they are portraying him on national television.
Instead, he’s praying with his family for strength and asking God how they can best keep spreading the gospel and serving Him.

If we treat Phil like a victim, we’re acting surprised. We shouldn’t be surprised. The Bible, which we put our entire faith in as the living, breathing, Word of God is proving itself true and accurate. We should be praising God for His unfailing prophecies that solidify our faith. And, we should be rejoicing with Phil for the rewards he will receive, and thanking God for godly men out there living the truth of the gospel unashamed.

Practical Application:

I think all too often, we run for the victim card – assuming if we’re the victim, we’re the winner in the situation. But on God’s team, there are no victims, only saints who receive their treasures in Heaven as they build their eternal home while working on Earth.