Stand Alone Blogs

Better to be a Whore in Church, than a Christian who has Committed Moral Failure?

I grew up hearing a crude expression as a little girl. 

“I was more nervous than a whore in church!”

Believe me. I’ve been the whore in church before. And I find that it is far better to be in that highly celebrated position than it is to be part of a Christian marriage which has been disqualified from ministry because of moral failure.

“I was more nervous than a Christian who committed moral failure in church.”  Yep. Far more nerve wrecking and scandalous.

Let me explain.

You see, when a person like me got saved in my mid twenties, I had “sold” my body for things like cheap dinners on dates with men who never even acknowledged my soul. I was living with a man who had zero intention to commit to me outside of my keeping him from being lonely cold in his bed at night. When Jesus wooed my heart to Himself, I gave up that life and ran far away from it, without ease. I didn’t know what my life was going to look like as a follower of Jesus, but I was all in. 

Thats the kind of story that is (rightly) celebrated by the church. 

As I sit here and write, I recall being baptized and the congregation cheering after I shared what God did to radically change my heart and life completely. I felt loved, welcomed, accepted among the people.

No more hiding. No more secretly using drugs or my body to get me the fulfillment I so badly desired. 

In addition to my new life, I had met and married a godly man who was the complete opposite of the ones before him. He was intentional about giving me his last name from the moment we met, committed to serving the Lord and me. It really was, and is, an incredible story about how God plucks people from the pit and places them in the story created by His design for those who love him. (Romans 8:28)

What does it feel like to be a Christian exposed as a moral failure in the church? 

Oh. I would rather be the whore in church any day than feel the weight of that shame we carried as we walked back into that same church for the first time since our marriage came tumbling down.  

Hand in hand, we walked to the pew on the opposite side of where we used to sit, unable to even entertain the idea of being in the same spot, because we were no longer the same couple who used to sit there. 

Limping at best, we parked in the pew, holding hands for dear life.

Though I was angry with my husband, there was no one else who felt more safe in that moment than he did. Its as if the war in our marriage was put aside in order to celebrate a sacred holiday. I “put down my gun”, so to speak, clinging to him and our bloodied marriage.

It was difficult to look anyone in the eye.

This was a church who loved us well, allowed us to serve in worship, cared for our children, poured out time and resources on our behalf. Talk about massive weight in shame to come back, knowing that from a biblical perspective, we were disqualified from serving at any capacity in the church. 

All the trust and status we had going for us, no longer served as any form of comfort. 

Most friends didn’t know what to say to us. I can understand that. I didn’t know what to say either. My husband and I could only cling to one another and the gospel, relying on the power of Christ and his ability to turn our disaster of a story into sweet redemption. 

Which is Jesus’s thing, by the way.

I take this lesson as a great gift. The gift of empathy for those who are lifting their hands high in worship of Jesus, who are so deep in their secret sin it take God’s exposure to set them free.  Once they are exposed, they are in need of the utmost care! 

Instead of running away in fear of christians who are found in their mess, let us run toward them, offering them the hopeful assurance that it was God’s mercy on their lives for Him to expose them, reminding them that the gospel is ever as powerful for the newly converted whore in church as it is for the saint who has utterly rebelled against the God he loves.

For this is true;

“Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

New Adventures & New Life

Things are a lot different these days.

Our marriage is different, our family dynamic is changed, and hope permeates this house like it never has before. The fruit of resurrection tastes awfully sweet, making solid our commitment to keep up the hard work that comes with rebuilding our marriage.

When the conduit is broken.

I couldn’t put my finger on it then, but while adultery was present, I sensed my husband's prayers for me and our family were hitting the ceiling, so to speak. Along with the difficulty to connect with one another (no matter how many date nights we had), there was also the impression that the separation was even bigger between Burris and God.

“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” 1 Peter 3:7

When the conduit is fixed.

Since everything was exposed, we are experiencing the fruit of repentance, reconciliation and (daily) restoration, a joy which is astonishing. Prayers are no longer hindered for my husband, making our lives full of adventure, laughter, and the ability to see enemy tactics. The connection we now have, though requiring heaps of diligence on our part, is full of adventure and wonder. 

Thanks to the Spirit, there is a renewed sense of purpose and calling on our lives.

We have no idea what is in store for us, but the presence of God is tangible in our home again, causing us to be eager for the unfolding of our story, together. I feel grateful to be on the receiving end of unhindered blessing.

I guess we do know ONE thing in store for us…

I snuggled in with my son one night, running my fingers along his ear as his eyes rolled back into his head, nursing himself to sleep. With every gulp, waves of nausea crashed over me, causing me to look around the room for something to throw up in. A startling thought jumped to the forefront of my mind..could I be pregnant?

Yes, I could. And, I am. 

Ashley Madison and The Gospel

Just as divorce lawyers are foaming at the mouth for massive profit from those being exposed on Ashley Madison, a website founded on its slogan, “Life is short, have an affair”, I too, find myself standing in that line, offering the same people to save their money and become rich themselves.

Betrayal as painful as adultery has a way of wakening the soul with a type of despair that is unlike no other.

I would know. It has been nearly one year since I found out that my husband was pursuing another woman outside of our Christian marriage. My once apathetic soul, was awakened by agony.

Anyone who is made in the image of God, watching the desolation of their marriage via unfaithful spouse, will endure a despair that the heart of God knows personally. This pain reveals an inner groaning in the core of our soul, no matter who you are.

We never rejoice over sin, but we rejoice at the exposure of it, as sin is our one contribution and requirement for salvation.

People. Matter.

We never, ever, EVER, rejoice over evil. Marriage is under a special kind of assault, as it is a tangible expression of the relationship of the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). I know first hand that God exposes sin in order to save us, as sin is the only requirement on our behalf to receive salvation. People matter so much to God, that sometimes on this side of heaven, he exposes personal sin in order to draw people unto himself. 

A sort of wake up call. (Lord, revive your people)

God is always poised to pour out his mercy upon those who repent.

Many of my friends are not Christians. I love all people deeply. If you are reading this and are walking through this painful time, you are not alone. I meant what I said about saving your money for the divorce lawyer and making you rich. It doesn't mean that you won't end up divorced, it doesn't mean that you will end up divorced. It means that regardless of what happens in this time, you will have a hope to cling to. 

You are never out of reach to receive mercy.

What can Christians do?

Position yourself. Remember that, according to God's standard, every spouse has committed adultery. That is not explicit to sexual lust in the physical sense, but includes lusting over the imaginary spouse you have made up in your head, that you wish they would be. Any thought that doesn't honor them, at all times, is lusting. Wanting something in place of them. 

Yes. That is harsh. But I say that in order to strip you from thinking you are above this (or any) sin. God has truly stripped us from the ability to judge sin; we are all in the same boat, having received a mercy that none of us deserves. The moment a believer places himself above any other person, they become non-effective in the advancement of God's kingdom. The Enemy wants you to to see yourself as a better person, keeping us from preaching the gospel.

Remembering why Christ died for you, positions you to be compassionate.

Position others. You may haze zero experience in this area, to the degree that hurting people in the wake of the AM exposure are, but there are believers who can help, like myself, who are walking through this dark time in the light of Christ. Send them to people and resources who will be a giver of hope.

Pray. I love this teaching by John Piper;

God Has Preserved All the Prayers of All the Saints

Look at Revelation 8:3: "And another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne."

Notice: it is the prayers of "all the saints" that have been piling up on the altar. If you wonder where your prayers go and what God does with them, here is one of the answers. They go onto an altar before his throne. If mere human beings can invent a microchip that holds millions of bytes of communication, it is not difficult to imagine that God has no trouble at all devising a way to preserve on his altar every prayer that has ever been prayed in the name of Jesus.

Your prayers matter and are being stored up by God himself.

It is no surprise that people are cheating on their spouse, what is surprising is how powerful sin exposure can be, and how God is always poised to pour out his mercy upon those who repent. Today if you hear his voice...

The harvest is plenty, but the laborers are few. Lord, strengthen the laborers.

The Waiting Room - An Update

Next month marks one year that our marriage, deemed dead, was made alive.

With Burris in his chair, and me in mine, Sunday morning was a familiar sight. Three children running around in diapers, coffee in hand, and a messy yet profound sense of gratitude in the room.

Yes, resurrection sure looks good, this side of heaven.

 

But it sure isn’t easy.

What has the True Physician been up to in our lives since our dead body of a marriage began miraculously breathing?

I looked at my husband sitting there and wondered where he thought our marriage was today in medical terms; Are we in the ER? Surgery? ICU? Physical therapy? Out patient care? Dare I say, hospice?

 

“the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together… 
He will feed his flock like a shepherd.
    He will carry the lambs in his arms,
holding them close to his heart.” 
                                        Isaiah 40: 5&11

“Les, if I were to gauge, we are in the waiting room, and our marriage is having open heart surgery.” He looked at me deeply. “This is a very risky procedure and we are not out of the woods, but thankfully this procedure has been done thousands of time before. God knows what he is doing, and His skilled hand is having his way on our heart. The center of our marriage.”

I looked away. 

Feeling disappointed, my assessment had us sitting up in bed, looking forward to physical therapy!

“We are doing well, but we are not out of the woods.” He replied.

“How will we know when the surgery is complete and successful?” I ask.

“When we stop checking out from one another, and engage.  We have been trying these tools out, but are not convinced yet. When we jump in fully, that will be a sign that the surgery is complete. The rest of our lives are spent in recovery. Of course, we will be finally healed when we are in eternity with the Lord, but there is a process on this side of heaven.” He grinned.

We will always be in recovery.

 

How freeing is that? We don’t have to arrive to this sort of marital bliss destination that is somewhere down the road in a few years. Instead, we get to share in these tangible redemptive moments together, where we know that God, the Perfect Surgeon, is opening up the blockages of our heart in order to see to it our earthly marriage thrives on what it was created to; rely on Christ alone.

Call it sanctification, if you dare, a holy recognition that this life, spent together as husband and wife, is but a mere dress rehearsal for a perfect marriage to come.  Sure, it is painful recovery, but after this year, I cannot imagine missing out on the milestones that derives from healing wounds.

“He never grows weak or weary.
    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
 He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
 Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
 They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint.”
                                     Isaiah 40:28-31

So we sit, hand in hand in the waiting room, with strengthening knees, getting a taste of the hope to come. Knowing that our time in the ICU is coming, a beautiful gift this side of heaven.

Here’s to another year of seeing what is in store for our crazy clan.

The Setback - Part Two

"If you wish to believe in Christ, you must become sick; for Christ is a physician only for those who are sick." C.S. Lewis

“Why would you delete it!” I screamed.

I scanned his body language. It was evident that he was falling apart as he reached for the chair, pulling himself up to the dining room table, which was still warm from the meal we just shared as a family. Thank God the kids are tucked in bed, I thought to myself. Depending on what happened, this could go badly.

“I was scared to tell you about talking to her. It was strictly professional, but I didn’t want to hurt you, and I knew it would. We have been doing so good and I didn’t want something like this to set us back.” His misty eyes locked with mine.
“My reaction, isn’t for you to decide, Burris. When you lie and hide, you rob me of an opportunity to react in a healthy way.” I  plea. 
“I didn’t think of it that way. I am so sorry.” 
“Not only did you rob me of the opportunity, but you robbed yourself the joy of being open and facing our pain.”

“I didn’t want to hurt you” is a statement that sounds beautifully poetic and loving, but denies an underlining truth; “I have hurt you, and I don’t want to be reminded of it anymore.”

He took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and just like that, his willingness to engage with his shame was palpable. It was beautiful, magical, even miraculous. I witnessed his heart turn soft, receptive, and as I watched in amazement, the fear and rage melted away from my own body as fast as cotton candy when it touches the mouth. 

Warmth and tenderness filled their place, as the presence of Another Person swirled about the room. 

With our infected marital wounds exposed at table, we dare not run away as the Tender Nurse flexed his authority over the ones who hover our home, those poised in anticipation to divide and devour the spoil (I am now speaking of evil spirits who dance on the open grave they have reserved for our marriage). To their joy, Burris claimed that secrecy would “protect” me from enduring further pain, when really it was a ploy to keep him bound to his shame.

Jesus promises not only to clean and repack our wounds, but reveals that freedom and healing can also be found when we re-engage with our treason, in the purpose to reestablish relationship between two lovers. While God completely forgives us in Christ, it is this forgiveness that drives us to do the hard work of reconciling with one another.

Little did we know, that this set back was no set back at all. Indeed, it would be the first of many healing conversations in the days to come.