God Is Faithful Even In Your Darkness

I have been reading a book called SOZO…..Save, Healed, Delivered. Sozo is a Greek word meaning to make well, to be whole in body, soul and spirit. This is what Jesus came to do for us at the Cross. But unfortunately there are far too many people to count, due to horrible events in their past, who find it very difficult to experience real victory in their everyday life. They have deep hurts they have never shared from their past that leave them bound and weighted down with shame, blame and rejection. Perhaps you are one of those people or you know someone who is.

I was one of those people many years ago. I want you to know that you do not have to stay where you are because God is able to deliver you if you are willing to ask for help. I did and I have never been the same since.

I became a Christian in 1970. Yes I was born again and snatched out of darkness into the light. However, the trauma I had experienced from age 6 to 16 had never been dealt with. I was doing discipleship classes, going to church, reading my Bible but I was dragging around a chain called a spirit of rejection that hindered me from walking in complete freedom. I felt unwanted, was always seeking approval of others, easily offended and I always felt like I was on the outside looking in. All of these things manifested in my life as a direct result of the trauma I had experienced before becoming a Christian.

As some of you may already know I had a very emotionally absent father and an abusive alcoholic mother. I was the first-born and became the responsible “adult” at age 8 when my sister was born because my mom delegated that responsibility to me. I became her part-time bar tender and the object of her rage. I was rarely commended for much, hardly remember special daughter/daddy moments and cried many nights because I felt so unloved.

But the day I gave my heart to Jesus on June 10, 1970 for the first time I knew I was loved! Yes, my spirit became brand new but my soul was all jacked up. I had bags of trash attached to my poor soul that I carried around until 1989. After being a Christian for 19 years I became more and more aware that I was not healthy emotionally. I finally got so desperate that I sought help from one of my elder’s wife. You may not believe or understand much about the types of spirits that can oppress and torment someone as a Christian but let me assure you they can and do! I am a walking example of someone who was set free from rejection because I sought help. In the den of my friend’s house we prayed and the Holy Spirit revealed how my past childhood had wounded me so desperately in my soul that rejection had me bound. She prayed, she took authority over that stinking demon of rejection and that chain snapped!! I had a real physical reaction when it broke. I almost felt sick at my stomach. It was as if something was yanked out of my soul! I even have the date marked in my Bible and these words were written…”Set free from many bondages-a new Marilyn will emerge. June 29, 1989″  This day was as important as the day my spirit was born again.

I came out of a lot of darkness. I hid what happened behind the walls of my house. I was embarrassed for people to know that my mom was an abusive drunk, that she attempted twice to kill herself, my dad was a weak, depressed man, that I was beaten until I had swollen belt marks all over my legs and that I was afraid. These things destroyed me during those ten years. My behavior before becoming a Christian was a loud cry for help. I was promiscuous but still a virgin, drinking under age, getting into trouble in school and crying out for someone to notice me. I was a messed up young girl for sure.

As I look back on those years from 1958 to 1968 I am not tormented. Even in the darkness of those years God was watching over me. He was protecting me. He was faithful. He had a great plan for me to meet Jesus! He gave me little glimpses of His love through my best friend Karen’s dad Mr. V and my ninth grade Home Economics teacher before I even knew Him. I may not have had the childhood many of my friends had but I am a testimony of the amazing grace of God. He picked this girl up out of the miry clay and set her feet upon a Rock and put a new song in her heart! I am free!

Maybe you are in your thirties, forties, fifties or sixties? It is NEVER too late to get free. There is a song called Break Every Chain that I love to hear and sing because He has broken those chains off me. He can break those chains from you too. Don’t continue on the path of bondage. Aren’t you ready for freedom? Make the decision to do something about it. Seek help, there is deliverance from every bondage. Remember John 10:10 says, “The thief comes but to steal, kill and destroy but I have come that they might have life and life more abundantly.” The enemy of your soul wants you dragging those chains the rest of your life. It is time to be set free! A new you will emerge.

Living by the brook,

Marilyn

 

 

A House Divided

I am so very stunned at the current turmoil in our nation! We live in the greatest country on the planet, the United States of America. But we are not united. We are a divided country in ways I have not seen since 1960. What are we doing? We are destroying ourselves from within. What has happened to civility and common sense? I guess it has been thrown out the window with all the other decent behavior we were taught to display as civilized people.

Our nation was born out of a desire to leave tyranny and oppression behind. It was founded in hope. Even though it was founded in hope for a bright future it was founded by flawed people. Our colonies evolved into what eventually became our young country with the signing of our Declaration of Independence in 1776. Our founding fathers and signers of our Declaration of Independence were flawed human beings. They were products of their past as are we. Their heritage was from England and I dare say as much as they tried to remove themselves from the tentacles of the past it was not completely accomplished. Nonetheless they came together to form a nation unlike any ever birthed before and with that acknowledging certain rights given to them by their Creator. They believed all men were created equal and given certain unalienable rights such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Now fast forward to August 18, 2017. We are here 241 years later watching our nation destruct around us. We may be participants in its division by our own hasty judgments. It is easy to jump on the activist train. Admit it we all  want to join in the voices we most bear witness with. But is it promoting an agenda that is dangerous and divisive? I would say yes! In 1850 Sam Houston said “A nation divided against itself cannot stand.” He said this before Abraham Lincoln said it in 1858. We all have rights to our own persuasions but when we are adding fuel to the fire that rages around us perhaps we should be more tempered in our verbal participation. Most especially for those of us who have been drenched in our Redeemer’s blood! We are held to a standard that is higher. Jesus said in Matthew 12:25 “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart.” NLT

All of this hate speech, violence, and animosity over our past history will not change the past. I agree that unrighteous things have been done since history began. Are we going to uproot every statue, destroy every structure, tear off every sign that is contrary to our convictions?  Are we going to rush the steps of Congress and overthrow Senators and Representatives we do not agree with? Is the next move in America a coup? Are we going to act out of the parameters of the laws of this country because we are offended? What will you do?

I do not know a lot about my heritage. My dad’s grandparents on his father’s side were from Germany. Maybe there is some embarrassing skeletons somewhere. My mother was adopted. Her birth mother supposedly was from Jonesboro. Perhaps her family had connections with southern plantation owners and that is a part of my heritage. Maybe I have mixed race heritage? I would not mind. But maybe you would look at me differently if that was the case. What if someone in my unknown family was a slave owner? Maybe I would be placed into that basket of deplorables Hillary Clinton was addressing if that was the case.

Slavery was and is wrong! Plantation owners raping young black girls was wrong! Whites saying they are superior was and is wrong! The KKK was and is wrong! We have a heart problem and it is racism and it works both ways. It is time to lay our weapons down. I may not have walked the streets during the civil rights movement but Martin Luther King’s dream is not what is happening today. He said, “I still have a dream, a dream deeply rooted in the American dream-one day this nation will rise up and live up to its creed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” I have a dream….Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963).

Let’s reconcile history to what is was. Leave it as history whether bad or good. We can find inequality and evil in much of what lies behind us but I believe we would be a better people and a better nation if we would look ahead to the future and how we can be an agent for peace and unity. We will accomplish so much more joining together than we ever will apart. Let freedom ring in this great nation……….one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all!

Living by the brook,

Marilyn

 

 

God’s Day Spa

From time to time I like to read the 23rd Psalm. The message I receive is peace, comfort and rest. Common English version reads like this, “The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing. He lets me rest in grassy meadows; he leads me to restful waters.” Psalm 23:2-3. For weeks I have been thinking about that word rest.

This morning I looked up several different scriptures concerning rest. As you can imagine there are multiple types of rest and a different meaning for each.

The first scripture is in Leviticus 16:31 is addressing the Day of Atonement made by Aaron for all the people of Israel. “It will be a Sabbath of special rest for you, and you will deny yourselves. This is a permanent rule.” The meaning of rest in Hebrew is a special holiday. It is a day always set aside to celebrate that your sins are cleansed.

Leviticus 23:3 says, “Work can be done for six days, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of special rest, a holy occasion. You must not do any work on it; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD.”  CEB. The meaning here is to settle down, cease. It means you stop! Yes, you set aside the day and cease the busyness to bask in the presence of Yahweh. This Sabbath rest was for all people. No one was excluded.

“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.” NASV. Rest in this verse means to be still, stop. Obviously it is addressing anguish over the wicked prospering when perhaps you are not. You cannot rest if you have inner turmoil about whether God knows what He is doing in another’s life.

Now let’s look at some verses in the New Testament. In Matthew 11:28-30 there are two different times rest is mentioned.. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS, For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.” NASV. The first mention of rest means to lie down, refresh. You unload all the stuff! The second time it is mentioned it means recreation. I find this very interesting. It makes me think of how a vacation begins. It takes you a day to unwind, get refreshed and then afterwards you are ready for recreation that you can enjoy.

The last verse is Hebrews 4:3, “For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said, “In my anger I took an oath; They will never enter my place of rest,” even though this rest has been ready since he made the world.” Rest in this verse means abode. It is a place where you dwell. It is a provision given to his children since creation but because we have disbelief we do not enter into it. It’s as if God has designed a special place just for you, custom-made but you cannot believe it is real so instead of walking into a position of rest you struggle and live apart from the gift He gave.

God has given us REST!  He has rest packaged in different boxes ready for us to open but sometimes we make things so complicated we miss it. I think we sometimes just need to close our eyes and picture the different ways God has painted the meanings of rest He has for us. Just imagine composing yourself and unloading all the junk that you are carrying. Imagine laying down in a green, lush meadow surrounded by cool breezes. Feel the refreshing when you are free from cares and celebrate the Sabbath rest He has set aside just for you. When we unload the cares, busyness, agendas, etc., and walk into His rest we are fueled in our spirits and ready to continue the journey. Let’s lay aside the idea that we have to DO something in ourselves to make it happen.  Simply walk into the God’s Day Spa and REST!

Living by the brook,

Marilyn

 

 

Lay Your Burdens Down

Have you ever seen a video on YouTube where some guy has to prove how capable he is by carrying every plastic grocery bag imaginable from the car to the kitchen in one trip? He has several bags tied together while draped around his neck. He has two bags pushed up to each elbow then two bags in each hand and one dangling from his mouth. Yep, he is macho and he’s got this! Not!

What about this scenario? Have you ever seen a sprinter attempt to be the fastest runner in a 100 yard dash but he has heavy weights attached to his ankles, around his upper arms and wearing a weighted vest? Do you think he will finish the race with the other athletes? Most likely not. He will lag behind and be out of breath because he was carrying weight that prevented him from running well.

You know what? We do similar things as Christians. We end up carrying more than we were ever meant to carry. We have decided that we are strong enough within ourselves and we load ourselves up with worry, fear, anxiety, and many other unnecessary burdens. What are we trying to prove? Is it a badge we are to wear proudly that says “we can do this ourselves?”

We are reminded of this in Matthew 11:28, “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” God understands the nature of man. He knew we would think “I got this!” He understands that we think we are capable of carrying weights that we were not meant to carry. We run around as if we are Superman or Wonder Woman but we can’t fly, run or fight. We are carrying burdens that are draped around our souls that prevent us from running the race God has set before us.

We carry fear that will immobilize us, anxiety that will paralyze us and worry that steals our faith! Jesus teaches a contrary message to that of our flesh. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”

I, along with you, have piled on false responsibilities in different areas as I have walked my journey as a believer. It accomplished NOTHING! I wore myself out and hindered my forward progress in the race. I want to embrace these words as my mantra as I follow Jesus, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sister, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Phil 3:12-14.

In saying all this I am so grateful for the grace of God! For when my flesh wants to rule I can trust that the Holy Spirit that lives inside me will remind me that Jesus is waiting for me to lay all stress, worry, fear, anxiety, etc., at His feet. He will gladly take them so I am lighthearted and light-footed going forward. And if I trip on my own feet again He will be there to brush me off and set me upright to continue my race.

Let’s run the race together so that when our final day has come we can say we kept running towards the goal and never looked back!

Living by the brook,

Marilyn

 

 

 

My Spiritual Moms

Some of you may already have read a little about my young formative years. To put things in a nutshell……it was hell! At least in my eyes it was. Living with a domineering, alcoholic mother for 10 years was scary. On top of that my dad was very passive, depressed and emotionally absent.

Since the only example I had for a mom, young woman and a wife was quite dysfunctional I did not know what a good one looked like. Before I was high school age I was already making very poor choices just like my mother. Smoking, drinking, being potty-mouthed and promiscuous was normal behavior for me.

Then on June 10, 1970 Jesus changed everything! I surrendered my heart to Him and 47 years later He is still the one my heart longs for. In my early years as a young Christian God was so very gracious to give me three different examples of godly women that impacted my life tremendously.

The first spiritual mom was Sue Gail Tackett. She and her husband were my first Sunday School teachers at Colonial Baptist Church. I was barely eighteen years old when I began going to church there after becoming a believer. I can still remember how many times I would hang out at her house and by some type of spiritual osmosis glean from her how to be godly young woman. I can’t remember questions I would ask or responses that were given but more than anything it was the time, love and great compassion she showed me that will forever be etched in my memory. She opened up a bookstore while I was in my twenties called The Carpenter’s Shop and I would go there to buy books sometimes just to say hello and get a hug. When I became engaged to my husband Mike as a wedding gift she gave me a rehearsal dinner at her home. It touched me deeply because no one had ever shown me love in such a tangible way. I will always love her even though our paths rarely cross.

My second spiritual mom was Ginger Newsom. I think I wore her out! She and her husband were my Sunday School teachers when I began college at the same church. We had a young people’s group at their home for years.  She and her husband loved young people and they embraced this young women with open arms. Once again I spent a lot of time at their house when we were not having group. She shared her stories with me and because I watched her life being lived out with integrity for many, many years I once again gleaned much by that wonderful spiritual osmosis I mentioned earlier. She indeed was such a treasure to me. I am sure I wearied her with all my phone calls and talks during my twenties. But where would I be today if she did not listen and pour truth into the young woman? I am so very thankful!

Then there was my ninth grade Home Economics teacher Martha Walton. She was the seed sower. I do not mention her last because she is the least important it is just that we did not have contact from my 9th grade year until I became a Christian the summer before my senior year of high school. The prayer she wrote on an index card for me on the day I made my failed suicide attempt was the seed that soaked until that day. I kept it folded up in my wallet and read it daily….”Every day in every way by the grace of God I’m getting better and better.” It may not have been a doctrinally sound prayer but it brought forth fruit eventually.

After I became a Christian I found out how to contact her. I called her and shared with her that I had become a Christian. She has been such a dear friend. She made my wedding dress for me and I lived with her and her husband for three weeks before my wedding. She remains one of the dearest people to me. I will treasure her always. I have had the great pleasure of seeing her on and off since my marriage and we get together for lunch from time to time to catch up on our lives. I love her dearly!

The reason that these women are mentioned is because they impacted my life so much in all their different ways that I am sure I would not be the woman I am today if not for their love and godly examples of how to be a women, wife and mother. Titus 2:3-5 says this, “In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine. They are to teach what is good, so they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, homemakers, kind and submissive to their husbands, so that God’s message will not be slandered.” This is how they lived. This is what they taught me. I watched and learned.

Being a godly example is so important. We are a book read by many. What we do and say is noted. So remember that living a godly life does make a difference. It made a difference in my life and I pray that because of these wonderful ladies I will continue to live a life that will be read by many.

The world we live in is quite different now. Seems like mentorship is not so popular anymore. I was willing to be taught. I wanted to know how to be a godly woman. I was willing to make the sacrifice to do whatever it would take to be like my teachers. That is what Jesus wants! That is what a disciple is. Someone who is like their teacher. I am proud to say that my teachers did well and I honor them and treasure everything they did for me. To God be the glory great things He has done!

Living by the brook,

Marilyn