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Just wondering… We hardly hear about hell anymore in the Christian Church. It’s unfashionable, uncomfortable, un-politically correct. It’s fine and well to teach the other major doctrines of the Church. They’re good and solid.

-“God is love” 1 John 4:8

-We should love God. “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind “ Mark 12:30

-God loves us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

-Of course we should teach that Jesus died for our sins. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” John 4:9, 10

-It’s also good to teach people they need to read their Bibles. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16, 17

-It’s both needful and wonderful to teach people how to live the Christian life well and successfully. (I’ll spare you the several hundred Scriptures covering that one.)

-And the big one, of course, we should be teaching people how to be saved! “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:31

It’s all good, all necessary, all must be taught. But…why aren’t we teaching about hell?

-How can God be love and still send people to hell?

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

-What did Jesus save us from, when he died for our sins?

The Bible says it’s better lop off your own body parts than to wind up in hell! Matthew 18:9, Mark 9:43, 45, 47

Luke’s description of the rich man in hell might give one pause. And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” Luke 16:23, 24

-Mathew lets us know this is no place for a party. “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Mathew 25:30

-So does John. “and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night,” Revelation 14:10,11

It’s no wonder there are so many “luke-warm” Christians in the world today. How can we be truly grateful to Jesus Christ if we don’t know what it is He saved us from? Won’t we love our God, that much more, of we really understand and take to heart the horrible fate He spared us? What effect would that have on our obedience to Him? Wouldn’t we be more likely to share the Gospel, if we really believed in the future of those we love, who are unsaved? If we allowed the awful truth to move us, could we stand the thought of even one person being lost?

It’s easier not to think about hell. It’s much nicer to teach on the Love of God, and leave out the hard stuff. It’s certainly less controversial, and many Churches wouldn’t stand for such teaching. Makes this preacher think maybe the Apostles and possibly Jesus, Himself wouldn’t be too welcome in those Churches. They taught the hard stuff.

If we want true revival, if we want to see Christians on fire for God, and working the harvest with all their hearts, we have to start teaching the hard stuff. We’re going to have to teach hell.

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This is a Christmas repost from 2007. I thought about updating and dusting it off, but decided to let it stand, as is.

She was somewhere between thirteen and fifteen years old, and she never used a computer, talked on the phone, or rode in a car. TV would have seemed like witchcraft to her, and an airplane would have inspired sheer terror. She was a sweet, simple, country girl, from a poor working family, who probably never owned more than two dresses or one pair of shoes at a time.

For her, a formal education would have been impractical and out of reach. She learned from her mother how to cook, clean, care for children, and run a home. That was her lot in life and she was content with it. She had won the love of a good man, with a tender heart, and was looking forward to becoming his wife.

She lived during a time when speaking with angels wasn’t unheard of, and wasn’t as likely to get one locked away as it is today. And an angel told this simple, virgin, country girl she was going to have a child, not just any child, but the only begotten Son of God.

No one believed her, at first, but two thousand years later people, who don’t believe any part of the old story, know her name. She is honored in song, and remembered in films. Many of us wonder if we could have borne such a heavy responsibility.

Never think that God can’t use you, because of your lack of education or speaking skills.

1 Corinthians 1:27 “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;”

Never think your past life will hinder His use of you.

2 Corinthians 12:9 ”… for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Never be afraid to step out on faith.

Galatians 3:26 ”For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

God can and will use you, if your heart is willing.

This is actually a letter to my Pastor, but someone out there needs to read it. In it I’ve worked through the emotional side of  my recent accident, which left me more shaken than I ever would have believed it could.

This time last year I had just been promoted and received a large raise. My boss almost gushed when she did my review, saying that I was good for moral. Doug nearly had more work than he could handle. We were both still very active in our old church, and looking forward to what the future would bring, despite some pretty serious problems. We kept hearing about the economy taking a nose dive, but we weren’t feeling much of a pinch. Funny how much difference a year makes.

After the first of the year, my boss told me if I wouldn’t open my availability and start working Wednesday nights and Sundays my hours would be cut. I told her to do what she had to do, and tried not to worry. About the same time Doug started getting fewer hours at work too, so we cut a few luxuries (read: We ate out less.) and went on. Things were getting worse at church too, prompting me to ask, Is it possible to be tempted into not living out God’s will for one’s life by being given nearly everything one has ever wanted in a good, godly church?” My trusted friends gave me the truthful, but painful, answer. On January 22, we made the decision to leave Faith Baptist Church.

I think we knew then that we were headed for Aurora. Doug’s mother is so happy here. Pastor was such a wonderful change from what we were used to. Gentle, accepting and secure, he made us feel immediately welcome, which I hadn’t felt in quite some time. Rick and his wife asked us to lunch, and we told him our unhappy story. When he didn’t freak or act like I had committed some great sin, by filling in as temporary pastor at Faith, I knew we were home. We started to heal. We thought we’d been tested and made it through. We had no idea the testing had just begun.

June first, Doug was laid off. Fortunately his unemployment went through without a hitch, but that still cut his pay in half. I started making up my cut hours by staying whenever I could, so we were falling a little behind, but still not really hurting. July and August passed without work for him, but honestly I was enjoying having him home for a while. We were a bit behind though, so I made an arrangement with the mortgage company, and it looked like we’d be able to catch up. Then on September fourteenth, I broke my ankle.

It was such a stupid accident. Who falls off their own porch? Wish I could say that I was being a good employee and wanting to get to work on time, but the truth is I left a little early, in a good mood, because I’d be able to stop at 7-11 for a coffee and sandwich. Tired and careless, I missed the bottom step and went down hard. I actually heard the bones snap, but thankfully didn’t feel it. Of course, it just had to be raining.

The first sight of that ankle scared the daylights out of me. They are not suppose to bend like that! Panic set in, and I began to scream for Doug. There I am laying in three inches of water, getting rained on, screaming my head off, and he can’t hear me, because of the rain. This went on for twenty minutes, before I decided to drag myself to the car and honk the horn. I think I asked God for the strength. That’s when I remembered my cell phone was in my pocket, and called Doug.

It didn’t occur to me until a couple of days ago, that my cell phone shouldn’t have worked. It’s a cheap tracfone. It was in my pants pocket, and I was soaked to the skin. It should have been soaked and useless, but when I pulled it out it was bone dry and worked like it was new. It still shows no sign of water damage, though I used it in the rain. The very thought floors me. Maybe it’s because I can actually hold a miracle in my hand. It can’t be explained away as luck or coincidence. It simply should not have worked.

At the hospital they tried to set it twice, but decided it would take surgery to do the job. God was working then too. The surgeon they contacted usually deals with children and sports injuries, but it took someone with his skill to put Humpty back together again. The one hour surgery turned into three, because the end of the bone on the outside kept slipping into the joint, keeping it from seating properly.

Doug’s mother may never understand how much comfort she gave me, when she prayed, before my second surgery. There was no fear, just acceptance of whatever God had in store. I think it was actually easier for me than it was for her and Doug, because they had to wait it out, while I slept through it, as once again a one hour surgery turned into four, because the damage was worse than they originally thought.

I’ve always been a little impatient with wounded and sick people, who let it slow them down. I was always the one who kept on going, like the energizer bunny, no matter what else happened. If this has taught me nothing else, it’s taught me compassion. There is no way Doug can pick up my rather ample frame. Dragging oneself across the porch and through the front door, because you can’t get up the steps, will take a person down a peg or two, as will being forced to depend on someone else for literally everything.

A week to the day after my accident, we called the ambulance again, for Doug. He had to spend two nights in the hospital and have a surgery of his own. Thank God his mother was able to be there for him.

Naturally, while Doug was in the hospital, I had a doctors appointment. Once again it was his mom to the rescue, but she couldn’t get me on or off the deck either. God was there and working again. I went outside early determined to get off the deck, before she got there, so she wouldn’t worry about me hurting myself. As I stood there wondering how to manage such a feat, the trash truck drove by and then stopped. The driver walked up and asked if I needed help, and helped me lower myself to the edge of the deck. Problem solved. When his mother brought me back home, we still had the problem of getting me back in the house. A young man stopped and helped lift me to a rolling desk chair I used to get across the porch and back into the house. “God bless you.” were his parting words. He had sent me another angel.

For two months Doug and I were the neighborhood entertainment, him breaking my fall at the edge of the deck to leave, and my fanny walking back across the deck and into the house at first, then later as we both got stronger him helping me into my rolling chair. By the time we didn’t have to do it anymore we had it down to a science.

God has been hard at work during our trials. With neither of us able to work we should be hurting financially. We certainly aren’t rolling in it, but we’re not going to lose anything or have to sit in the dark. You wouldn’t think having a mortgage arrangement broken because the mail took fifteen days to get your payment there would be a blessing, but it worked out to a better arrangement for us, and weirdly we’ve been able to make the payments. I had two years of sick pay saved up, and a bonus just before the accident, which caught up all our bills, and both our cars had just been paid off. Now, even though I can’t work, my second anniversary with the company just passed, so there is vacation and personal time credited, which will get us through. Things don’t just fall into place that way without a little divine help. You would think all this would strengthen my trust in God, which it did, but it didn’t solve the problem of my broken heart.

I wasn’t just taken down a peg. I was floored, knocked in the dirt, broken. I didn’t ask, “Why me?”, but “Why can’t I handle this?” People go through worse things everyday. They lose love ones, get cancer, have heart attacks, and have much worse accidents. Why was my heart so hurt? Why did the sight of those pins sticking out of my leg hurt my feelings so much? Why was I so scared? I finally looked to the right person for the answers.

One night lying in bed, with the way my ankle looked that morning and the sight of those pins sticking out of it haunting me, I asked Jesus how He stood it, not the physical pain of what He went through, before the cross, though that had to have been tremendous, but the emotional pain He had to have felt. I poured out all of my hurt and fear to Him that night, and realized that, for me, this was a huge thing, and I didn’t have to feel bad for being hurt. There was a lesson to be learned here. It was time to find it.

A shepherd kept his sheep safe by keeping them together and close to him. Sometimes a lamb would take it into his head to wander from the herd. When a lamb made a habit of wandering, the shepherd would pick him up and break his leg. It wasn’t done to be mean, but it caused that lamb to rely totally on the shepherd as it healed. From then on the lamb stayed close and safe. Understand, I don’t think God broke my ankle, but if He did, then it needed done. I do believe however, that he can use my circumstances to me teach a lesson.

Life and ministry at Faith Baptist were hard. It’s not easy when your pastor thinks your a usurper, and tells you from the pulpit that God won’t use you. It’s rough when he threatens to run you out the door from the same pulpit. It’s hard when you buy into the lie that a church won’t grow unless it’s right with God. I let it push me down, and away from God’s plan for me. I wandered from His side, but He never moved from mine.

I surrender to the ministry of His Word. I don’t know exactly what He has in mind, but I know He uses women like Beth Moore, so He can and will use me. No more excuses. I’m a woman, big deal, so was Deborah. I surrender.

People need to know God can work a miracle with a cell phone. They need to know He can forgive and use anyone. They need to know He won’t walk away from them. They need to know He loves them.

I surrender. Please pray for me.

First let me make it clear that I’m not particularly fond of Halloween, but I have no high, lofty, righteous reasons for it. Maybe it’s because I’m not fond of spiders, skulls, or blood, or because I don’t believe in living mummies, vampires, or ghosts. (I said ghosts not spirits. Don’t even get me started on that. We’ll be here all day.) It could be a safety issue. If my grandkids want candy, I’ll buy it for them. Truth is, it’s probably just that I’m getting old.

That said, I want to talk about an article a friend pointed out to me today, which I find very troubling. The woman who wrote The Danger of Celebrating Halloween is described as, “a sought after conference speaker and preacher”. I don’t know her and have never heard her preach, but based on this article I do wish she would educate herself on the topics she chooses to tackle.

The thing that troubles me most about this article is the constant reference to witches, as if satan worship and witchcraft are interchangeable. I’ve known a few witches in my time, even practiced as one for a short period. I never worshiped satan, and they don’t either.

It also troubles me that she claims, with no proof, that Halloween candy is cursed. Exactly how is this happening? I work at a big WalMart, and have never seen people cursing the candy. Are the miniatures being cursed at the factory in Pennsylvania? Are people cursing the trucks as they roll by? What the heck is a “time released” curse, anyway. It sounds like a frightening catch phrase to me.

Those of us who refuse to take her word on these things are called “lukewarm” Christians. We are ignoring the dangers of this “dark night”, and that just pops my cork. What we don’t need in the world is more public “shooting of our own wounded”. What we don’t need in the world is more judgmental, self-righteous, know-it-all “Christians”. To loosely quote a another friend we do not need Christians “who are so cocky they would presume to advise the Apostles”. What we need is a little more love and understanding, and a lot less fear!

Kimberly, if you ever chance to read this, please understand I’m not angry at you but at the mess we all sometimes make of our own doctrine. And when I’m done with this I’m going to sit down and pray for both of us, my sister in Christ. I can promise you one thing, no demon will ever mistake this Christian for an occult worshiper.

When someone says “God” what image comes to mind? Is it an all powerful angry being waiting above to thump you on the head or make things go badly for you, if you do the wrong thing? Are you convinced that you been so awful, gone so wrong, that He couldn’t possibly love or forgive you? Do you feel as if you’ve been picked on by the All Mighty? That’s not the image the Bible gives of our Creator.

Jeremiah 29:11 tells us what God thinks about us.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Child, God is not mad at you.

1 John 4:8 tells us that God not only loves but is love. “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

And there is the ultimate expression of God’s love.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
1 John 4:9 “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”

We call Him, Father, but we must be careful not to let the imperfect image of out earthly father overshadow who God truly is.
Luke 11:9-13 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Child, God is not mad at you, and he doesn’t want you to be afraid of Him.

Yes, I know the Bible says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…” (Proverbs 9:10) But the word “fear” here means “respect” not knee knocking fright.

Like any good father, God will let you suffer the consequences of your own actions, although many Christians, including myself, have noticed that said consequences are often muted by God’s mercy. And like any good father, God will discipline His children.
Proverbs 13:24 “He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”

Correcting one’s children takes time and effort. It would be much easier to allow them to do as they please, but of course, because we love them we take the time and put in the effort to discipline them properly. God does the same for us.
Proverbs 3:11-12 “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor detest His correction; For whom the LORD loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.”

Child, God is not mad at you.

In fact, He’s crazy about you, loves you, and wants to spend all eternity with you.
2 Peter 3:8-9 “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

God is not mad at you.

He has made a way for you to spend eternity with Him. It’s yours for the asking.

“Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

I guess by now everyone has noticed that music is a huge thing for me. A song can effect my mood for hours (sometimes days), so I choose my radio stations carefully. Of course music is also a large part of my worship, sometimes a song can say the things I’m feeling with much more elegance than I could ever manage.

The healing process is well on it’s way, since allowing myself to grieve. I can even manage a prayer that isn’t exclusively for someone else. Some of you know what a big step that is.

This is where I want to be.

The Motions –Matthew West

This might hurt, It’s not safe
But I know that I’ve gotta make a change
I don’t care, If I break
At least I’ll be feeling something
‘Cause just ok, Is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything?
Instead of going through the motions

No regrets, Not this time
I’m gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love, Make me whole
I think I’m finally feeling something
‘Cause just ok, Is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything?
Instead of going through the motions

Take me all the way
Take me all the way
Take me all the way

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything?
Instead of going through the motions

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything?
Instead of going through the motions

Take me all the way
Take me all the way
Take me all the way

I don’t wanna go through the motions

It seems one must admit how hurt they are, before healing can begin. It’s amazing the lengths God will go to in order to bring said healing and peace to His children. I wish I had the words to describe yesterdays service, how the Spirit settled over the entire congregation, and how He used a song to begin the process for one broken, battered, weeping child of God.

Cry Out To Jesus – Casting Crowns

To everyone who’s lost someone they love
Long before it was their time
You feel like the days you had were not enough
when you said goodbye

And to all of the people with burdens and pains
Keeping you back from your life
You believe that there’s nothing and there is no one
Who can make it right

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He’ll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

For the marriage that’s struggling just to hang on
They lost all of their faith and love
They’ve done all they can to make it right again
Still it’s not enough

For the ones who can’t break the addictions and chains
You try to give up but you come back again
Just remember that you’re not alone in your shame
And your suffering

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He’ll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

When your lonely
And it feels like the whole world is falling on you
You just reach out, you just cry out to Jesus
Cry to Jesus

To the widow who suffers from being alone
Wiping the tears from her eyes
For the children around the world without a home
Say a prayer tonight

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He’ll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

Father, thank You, for loving this selfish, arrogant woman. Thank You, for bearing my anger and pain, and showing me the way to peace.

Watching a man and his two children baptized today, as his wife looked on with joyful tears streaming down her face, reminded me of why I do what I do. It’s more than the directive I feel coming from God, though that is a large part of it. It’s the incredible joy felt when I am blessed with the job of introducing someone to Jesus.

The Jesus I know is not that gorgeous, long-haired fellow with the sappy smile you see in so many paintings. He’s not a weakling nor a wimp, despite how badly He was treated while He was here. Yes, Jesus is “The Lamb of God”, but He is also “The Lion of Judah”, the “Alpha and Omega”, “Redeemer”, “Light of the world”, “Lord of all creation”, “Lord of lords”, “King of kings”, and “God with us.” He is my risen Savior.

The Jesus I know is strong. He was strong enough to face the criticism of the religious leaders of His day, strong enough to drive the money changers out of His Father’s temple, strong enough to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, give a voice to the mute, and raise the dead, strong enough to defeat demons, strong enough to flatten a troop of Roman soldiers with just His voice, strong enough to survive being scourged, and strong enough to stay on the cross and bear the sins of all mankind.

The Jesus I know is kind. He was kind enough to save a groom humiliation during his wedding supper, kind enough to have pity on a leaper and on a woman caught in the act of adultery, kind enough to bless little children, kind enough to not only forgive Peter but to make him great, kind enough to make sure His mother was cared for, and kind enough to forgive those who nailed Him to the cross. Jesus is kind enough to use a mess like me.

The Jesus I know loves. Loves us so much He gave up heaven, came to this earth as a helpless baby, submitted to His earthy parents upbringing, and in the prime of life started a ministry He knew would only last three years. Jesus loves us so much He bore the pain of the turning away of His Father’s face, so we wouldn’t have to. He loves us so much that He not only died for us but rose again on the third day to give us a secure hope in His resurrection. Jesus loves us so much He wants us to spend eternity with Him.

It’s an amazing honor and privilege to be used by my Lord and Savior, one I don’t take lightly, but it’s the joy of introducing someone to the Jesus I know and love, seeing the joy in their eyes when they really understand, knowing that one more soul has been added to the kingdom of heaven, that’s what keeps me going.

History – a chronological record of significant events often including an explanation of their causes.
Herstory – a chronological record of significant events of my faith and service including an explanation of their causes.

Willohroots requested the whole story of my road to faith and service, so here it is. It turned out to be very long, but my favorite evangelist, David Ring, says if I don‘t tell it, it won‘t get told. Hope you can stay awake.

I think faith often starts in childhood. I know mine did. I can only remember one time my family attended church, and it was long enough ago that they had a smoking section, but my mother often spoke of God and His love. I remember her trying to explain the triune God, when I was about four. (Yep, four; can you imagine!) She did as good a job as anyone, and I’ve never struggled with that doctrine the way some have. It may be as simple as believing, because “Mom said so.“ But it works. She also allowed me to attend vacation Bible School, each summer, and always encouraged me to go to church with my friends when invited. It was during one of those visits, to a friends church, at twelve, that I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. (Becky B., if you ever read this I owe you my very life.)

Unfortunately, we got tied up with Jehovah’s Witnesses shortly thereafter. I can’t call that time a total loss, because it instilled in me the importance of Bible study and reaching out to others. And how many people can say they were baptized on the fifty-yard-line of Texas Stadium? I did however become very confused about Jesus, and lost my trust in Him. After falling away I tried a lot of other roads, including Wicca, but when life was at it’s worst and I really needed someone, I always found myself at the foot of the cross. I kept searching for someone/something to fill the void. Men didn’t do it, and I have three ex-husbands to prove it. Four children didn’t do it, though they came closer than anything else. Liquor, pills, pot, work, friends, none of those things filled the empty space inside.

Then on September 11, 2001 suddenly and without warning, our entire country went into mourning, causing me to consider ending my life. For that to make sense you need to know that I’m an empath, which is not something weird or spooky. It simply means that I feel the strong emotions of those around me. Fear, anger, and sadness surrounded me, and I couldn’t escape, even for a moment. The only peace I felt was when my husband and I attended a memorial at the church across the street from where I worked. Then and many times since then I’ve had the feeling of being held as I wept. Doug must have noticed, because he was the one who suggested we actively begin seeking a church to attend regularly. Of course, after visiting several and not finding what we were looking for it kind of fell by the wayside.

A few months later, a friend invited me to a women’s retreat at her church, and paid my way, because there was no way I could afford it. It started out with a silly PJ and crazy slipper night, and turned into one of the most important milestones in my life. Suddenly I had an appetite for God’s Word again, and found myself on my knees rededicating my life to Him. Well, He doesn’t take a thing like that lightly, and soon Doug and I were attending his mother’s church regularly. During a Sunday service, we simply looked at each other and said, “Let’s join.” Neither of us even knew the other was considering it! A week later we were baptized together, which has turned into a huge strong point in our marriage.

It really was a great church, on the small side, with as sweet a spirit as any new Christian could hope for, and Brother Dan, the pastor, was a great teacher. I still had a trust problem with Jesus, and was trying to work it out when The Passion came out. It broke my heart and sent me running to my Savior’s arms.

We were at that church for three years, and as with most things, I jumped in head first, always carefully avoiding stepping over my bounds as a woman. With the encouragement of our piano player, Marlene, I was singing specials with the bravest of them, and found myself teaching Sunday school and leading children’s church. As most good things tend to, it ended. Our church split, my Sunday school class of tough little girls vanished, and children’s church was down to three little boys, so they were moved to the regular service. Our best friends left with the Pastor and began a new church, where he abandoned them right away. We were heartsick, for them and for us.

After they found a new pastor for their fledgling church, we went to visit them. They asked me to lead the song service that day, and suddenly I had a place to serve again. There is really nothing like building up a brand new church, so much to be done, and so few to do the work. I was in “Martha” heaven. There were some things I had to get use to though. Women were often called on to pray, and there was a woman on the finance committee! Funny, it didn’t take long.

It soon became apparent we had a problem. Our pastor was jealous of one of the founders of the church, and had begun to use the pulpit to blast him at every opportunity. He also started manipulating people to further his own agenda. We kept expecting him to get angry enough to walk out, and though I still don’t know why, I promised my friend I’d have a devotion ready, if we needed it. It finally came to a point where we had to ask him to leave. It was ugly and painful, and we lost several families, because of it. With the help of one of our other ladies, I was pressed into leading our services, while we looked for a new pastor.

I was about as freaked out as one person is allowed to be. My husband had just gone out of town for work, and there was no one I could talk to, well, other than God. I cried, and told Him I wouldn’t do it, couldn’t do it. I am a woman after all. Of course I just happened to be in Deborah’s part of Judges in my Bible reading. So I agreed, but I wouldn’t stand in the pulpit, and would only do devotions until one of the men was ready to preach. But they needed more, and somehow it had fallen to me to feed His sheep. It wasn’t long before I was in the pulpit, preaching. It seems there is very little difference in a devotion and a sermon.

Six months later, we did find a preacher. I had a few doubts, but everyone else was so happy. I shut my mouth and handed my charges over to his care and keeping. I did, however, stay the song leader. I don’t know that speaking up would have changed anything, but do wish I had tried. I stuck it out as the pastor’s thumb came down harder and harder, because my husband was happy there, and because there were some good things happening.

The toughest thing to deal with is that the pastor knows I feel called to ministry, and he simply can’t let it go. He always talks about how good it is to visit his home church, how they bless him with things for his church, and how they pray for and support him. He would not only deny me that, but actively try to destroy any ministry of which I am a part. In the end I had a choice, stay and destroy the church or go find the supportive environment I need and crave.

Doug and I have found a place where we can both serve, and which supports women in ministry. I get phone calls from people leaving our old church. Sometimes they’re in tears wanting to know what went wrong. It seems since we left the pastor has taken iron-fisted control. They are only allowed to sing from the hymnal he brought in, and he has questioned the salvation of several members, because they’ve sinned. There are other things, but that’s enough. Why did he wait until we left to do those things? Maybe because he knew I’d call him on them?

My independent Bible study starts Wednesday morning. Anyone who wants to attend will be welcome, and I plan to go invite a few folks the churches haven’t bothered with.

God worked too hard to break the chains that bound me, and no one is putting me back in them! If anyone has a problem with it they can talk to my Boss.

Father, help me always to remember that You’re not done with me yet, I’m just a sinner, saved by grace, and that minister means servant.

It’s a line from an old stoner movie, from my not so shiny past, but works well in this situation.

It’s bad. It’s really bad. People are calling, some in tears, wanting to know what happened and what they should do. I’m not going to go into it here, because I’m hearing everything second hand, and that would be gossip. But people are being hurt and driven away, and that’s just wrong.

So…

…I’m not going to raise my hand against God’s anointed.
Lord, help me remember it’s Your job to deal with him.

…I’m not going to spread rumors and gossip.
Lord, put Your arm around my shoulders and Your hand firmly over my mouth.

…I’m not going to going to be drawn into a flame war.
Lord, help me to not defend myself.

…I’m not going to give up.
Lord, keep me strong.

…I’m not going to let those who’ve been hurt drop by the wayside.
Lord, hide me behind the cross, and let them see only You.

But…

…I’ve got to do something. Can’t let this good, righteous, “I want to throw someone out of the temple.” anger go to waste. Right?

So…

I will start a Bible Study, for anyone who wants to attend.
Thank you, Father, for the excellent study to which You led me.

I will reach out to the community in love and understanding.
Lord, lend me Your eyes, and stop my quaking knees.

I will stay true to the truth, even when it stings.
Lord, help me to always remember I’m nothing more than Your work in progress.

I will stay strong and not fear.
Psalm 56:11 “In God I have put my trust. I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.

Matthew 28:19-20 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

Your prayers and positive thoughts would be appreciated.