Barb's Space

Observations about life, family, church...anything else that is on my mind from the perspective that God rules, no matter what

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Location: Indianapolis, IN, United States

I am a 65 year young woman who has changed much in the last few years. I'm single again. I changed jobs twice (learned new skills), had a serious stroke in 2008, "retired" and after getting better started taking up new interests, and am continuing to get more fit. Some things have matured. I've enjoyed watching my three guys grow into men I respect and am proud of. One waited 11 years to have his first birth child. Today I'm a grandma of six (four boys and 2 girls between two families)! I have learned to love Jesus even more, and I have regained my sense of adventure. Someone said, "The best is yet to be."--I believe it, if I keep an open mind and heart and keep growing and walking with God.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Forgiveness Triumphs

I watched part of the Today Show this morning, and saw Gayle Haggard, wife of former New Life Church megachurch pastor Ted Haggard being interviewed. It actually was a very good interview. She just wrote a book called Why I Stayed, which speaks about her choice of forgiveness for her husband.

It reminds me of something our pastor read to us in prayer meeting a few weeks back. It was in a book by Danny Silk entitled Culture of Honor. Danny said that if we are going to be a healing, restoring church we will take each case needing healing and restoration very individually. He spoke of a music minister who committed adultery. This man was a very anointed minister and was bringing much to his church. When he was asked why he had done this thing, he said he didn't know. Those over him said there had to be a reason, and it eventually came to light that he had been able to express his love for the Lord in worship in front of thousands, but had never been able to say he loved his family members. He wasn't able to love anyone who was imperfect. When that and the reason for that were dealt with, he could give and receive true love in his family and started doing so. He totally repented for the adultery, and is now in an accountability relationship, and bearing fruit while ministering again.


Some would say that man would need more discipline and time before he could minister again. But is that true? How long does it take to repent for something and start to walk in that repentance? Isn't that the goal of church discipline? The Matthew 18 pattern for church discipline mentions taking sin before the whole body only when every other means of dealing with it has been exhausted. Sin should be dealt with only within the sphere where it happened if possible.

Repentance isn't just words, but there won't be repentance if the root cause isn't discovered and dealt with. Too often the body of Christ deals with the fruit of sin and doesn't find the root. This almost guarantees a recurrance. If the man is really in an accountability relationship, being honest and vulnerable now, that will take care of things for the future. 


As human beings, however, we want our pound of flesh. We say we want restoration, but we really almost instinctively want to make the one who hurt us pay first. That is not God's way. He wants relationship with us so much that Jesus died and took the penalty for our sin to make that possible. Should we make others pay more than God does? How much have we been forgiven, and should not that same forgiveness be offered to our leaders and others?


That is what Gayle Haggard is saying, I believe. I googled her and went to their website and read their statement. I believe forgiveness is definitely in order. The body of Christ dropped the ball in this situation as much as Ted Haggard. I further believe that if we can't learn this lesson, we will continue to lose some of our best people, for the enemy doesn't play fair and will exploit any weakness, especially in those who are mightily used in God's kingdom. Let the one who has not sinned throw the first stone.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Something from Nothing

I was just reading about a church in Haiti that lost their building in the earthquake. The people are living in tents, and have little to no food. Yet the pastor is essentially telling them when they have no food, the Word of God is a feast, and when they have no water, there is Living Water. He is telling the people they can still be happy with the joy of Jesus.

Does that sound ridiculous? To some people, maybe. But to others of us it sounds like the kind of faith God wants us to have. It is something I haven't attained yet, but I am working toward it. How do I work toward it? By working more to know my Lord's love for me. That's where all the answers are.

Everything good in life comes from God and the more I know Him the more I can receive from Him in the physical and spiritual realm. I am praying for those (and all) Haitians, but I believe they have a very good deal, if they can but see it as an opportunity. As they look to God during this time, I believe He will give them an abundance of spiritual food, and what they need physically. My Bible says that those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, and mount up with wings as eagles, that they will run and not be weary and walk and not faint. I look to see miracles for them in days ahead.

Meanwhile, I am working on trusting God a year and a half after a stroke while I am still recovering. He is working on helping me see where He was during some memories--He had to be there. He knew me before the foundation of the world and He says He will never leave me or forsake me. I just need to know where He was and what He was doing during those times. Even before I know I need to trust Him.

I pray in the coming days we can all grow to know the Lord more. It will help us trust Him in days ahead, will enrich our lives and can help bring others to Him.

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Saturday, January 09, 2010

Abuse or God's Love?

What is abuse? Abuse is the wrongful use of things or the use of people. People are created to have relationships, not to be used to get our needs or desires met. In the process of relating, some of our needs and desires can and will be met, but that cannot be our primary purpose. As soon as it becomes so, we will manipulate and do things to get what we want, think we need, or legitimately do need.


Our source for getting our needs and desires met must be God, our heavenly Father. If we trust Him to provide for us, that leaves us free to relate to people, be they husbands, wives, friends, co-workers or others we meet.


The Bible tells us something about this: James 3:13-18 NIV says: 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. 



In other words, if we have God's desires in mind for relationships we will want the best for others. That can't happen, however, unless we get our own needs met. God didn't make us to be unfulfilled. He made us for the purpose of fellowship and to find our fulfillment in Him. Only when we do, can we walk in the heavenly wisdom described above with others.


This is one reason why telling a wife to submit more doesn't work. Her needs aren't being met. Until they are, she has nothing to give. Also, if "submitting" more makes a woman less of a person, this grieves God. Relationships can't work from emptiness, but from fullness. When we receive from God we have what He has given us to share with others, so that hopefully they might want to come to Him as well.
Wanting the best for others sometimes means not being around them, if their heart is to use/abuse. Why? We are helping them sin against God, themselves and others. That is enabling, and it never helps. When the person wants to change, his/her heart gets softer and we won't hurt them by being with them. Until that time God will see to it that others come into their lives--others who will also offer the gift of change. Because God wants to help them, they will never be totally alone, even if it seems they are. He will be right there.



Abuse is very common because we don't understand the kind of love God wants us to love with. As we are closer to Him, our love becomes more like His and our relationships get better even when they look worse. I am looking forward to receiving and giving more of His love in days to come. Are you?


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Friday, January 08, 2010

Domestic Abuse: Making Marriage Safe

I want to talk for a few minutes about a couple subjects that are very dear to my heart--domestic abuse, and the other side, making marriage safe. First I'll start with domestic abuse. It is not an uncommon problem in today's world, even among people who are in church. When left unaddressed it destroys homes and families, and it is unaddressed even more often in the church than in the world.

The church often doesn't want to talk about abuse because we don't want to believe it's happening among us. We're Christians, after all. We are supposed to have good marriages. 

Saying that doesn't make it so, however. We came out of the world, but we often don't know how to walk in God's kingdom. Many of us don't know how to make or live in a culture of honor and respect. Hurt, fearful and/or angry from our past, we don't know how to get rid of those things, and so they carry on in our families.


Some of us (including leaders' wives) have been able to limp along for years with physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse.  We can excuse it by saying that isn't what this is. That is what happens in other families.  What we are experiencing is caused by stress, job loss, illness, whatever, and will get better as we get a handle on the problem. But it never does get better for very long. There is always a new trigger, and the cycle continues month after month, then year after year.


A few churches try to deal with the problem by using "wife submit" scriptures, saying that if wives did this right, there wouldn't be a problem. But that doesn't take care of the sin in the human heart, and it puts the blame for the problem only on the wife. What she is guilty of is usually not lack of submission, but lack of self-respect. If she can't honor and respect the person God made her to be, it won't help bring needed change. Living in fear will not cause things to get better, either.


For the church to deal with this problem and make marriages safe, we must become what my pastor calls a kingdom culture, with honor and respect for each other and ourselves. We are created in God's image and He has a plan for each of us. The church must believe this--and also believe that God has provided a way for us fallen creatures not only to be redeemed, but to be transformed. Transformation comes through consistent honesty, truth, and mercy. That makes a safe environment in which to work on our stuff.


As the church, we must also realize that all of us have stuff to work on. If we don't understand that, we will see ourselves as better than others, including our mates. No one fully walks in the righteousness of Christ, and if we try to deal with the problem of abuse without knowing that, we almost certainly doom troubled marriages.


I pray that in this year the body of Christ become a safe place to heal and be transformed. If you have been abused or if you are an abuser, I pray you can find a safe place to change. God loves you, and He has good plans for your life if you'll walk with Him in this.


If you need an online place to look for help, try Focus Ministries at http://www.focusministries1.org/ 
(just copy and paste in the address bar and push GO or whatever your browser says) or write me back. I pray God bless us and help us become more of who He created us to be as individuals and as the body of Christ in 2010.

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Monday, January 04, 2010

Starbucks, Panera and Church

I have been thinking about this subject for a long time...at least four years. It all started with Graham Cooke, who is a minister (not one in the usual mold) from England. He has been used to shatter more of my "religiosity." He referred to Starbucks as "St. Arbucks," and said it was a very good place to meet with the Lord. ...I began to meditate on that during my many jaunts there.

For quite some time, I've liked taking books to Starbucks and sitting there for a few hours in the morning (starting 6 or 7am). I'm ready to leave by 11 or so, though, because it is so noisy. Then this winter (a couple years ago before the stroke), my son Micah and I went to a cozy all-night one to wait for a winter storm that never really panned out. Since neither of us had to get up early the next morning, we got there at 9pm and stayed till 1am, while playing some card games (Speed and another one). It was fun, and in between rounds we could talk and I could observe. The Thursday before, after a women's gathering I met Micah at the same one, that time for a 10pm-midnight stint, and the same things happened.

Also I expanded my "research" that winter to Panera, taking in my computer (thanks to the free wi-fi) and arranging counseling appointments there. I finally decided to "take the plunge" that January and stay all day, from about 6am till 8pm. No, they didn't throw me out--either time. I could sit on the side at a table for two near a wall plug and "compute" or observe or read or meet with people to my heart's content. I bought one small coffee and a bagel for under $3, and then a half sandwich (or other things) for under $3 and that would do me (since I could get coffee refills). I was set up for the day.

Why do people like such places so much? There is no agenda. You can go and be yourself without putting on an act. You can enjoy being alone or with others and it's informal. You can talk or not talk, meet friends, play games, work on computer, read the paper or a book, watch people, write.... It is what every church should be like. In fact, a lot of times I feel Panera and Starbucks are more the church than the church is.

...Now I am writing from today's perspective. I go to Starbucks or Panera to read at times (may start going back to write again) but I don't need it as much. Why? Because the Vineyard church I am in is working on becoming that kind of culture where we can just meet as people before God, without our masks. This is what will cause us to walk in more of God's grace, and to share more of His grace.

Do you want to live in a culture that is hospitable to the Kingdom of God? Find a church where the leadership nurtures that kind of thinking on an everyday basis, come to ours, or go to hang out regularly at Starbucks or Panera and see what happens when you purpose to live without a mask before God and people and invite and receive others who do so.

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

My Life: A Thumbnail Sketch

I wrote this for another reason, but it occurs to me that you know little about my life, so I thought I would share it here as well.


I was born in Kenmore, NY and lived near there in Tonawanda close to Buffalo, NY till I was twelve. That place had about 90 inches of snow a year. I loved it!! Then we moved to Buena Park, CA.


We were in CA for four years. Our family moved because my father pioneered new sales territories for his company, then gave them to someone less experienced once they were developed. I missed snow bigtime, but I really enjoyed my high school years there--I didn't have a lot of friends, but I had good ones.


(One amusing thing I found as we moved around was the difference in language between the east coast and the west coast. In New York we wore sneakers, but in California they were tennis shoes-while in Indiana they were either one. We carried bags of groceries in the east, while in the west and midwest we carried sacks, and lastly, we put our feet up on a hassock in the east, while we rested our feet on a footstool in the west and midwest. There were other differences, but I won't digress any more.)


After my sophomore year we moved to Indianapolis, IN. When we told people we were moving, everyone including me thought we were moving to a farming community. Not true--Indianapolis is a regular city right in the center of the state. The last of my high school years were spent in a rather elitist public high school that I didn't enjoy.


When I graduated I tried my hand at college in a small town (at that time) in southern IN on the Ohio River. I spent a year and a half all told on my formal higher education, studying philosophy, sociology, psychology and English composition (leaving the requirements for later, which may be why I didn't finish). Originally I planned to become an elementary school teacher, but there were too many already who were having a hard time finding jobs, so I didn't want to go there. Then I considered becoming a social worker, but there were already enough policies I knew I'd come in conflict with, so I decided that wouldn't work. Same with psychology.


After leaving school, I started as a mail room clerk for a retirement pension fund and worked there for three years. During this time I became a committed Christian, met my future husband, and got married in 1976 at age 25 to a social worker.


All I'm going to say is that it was a very rough marriage, but I now have three grown children who are wonderful men from that time. I separated for the second time in 1999 when they were almost grown, and he didn't want to work on the marriage and divorced me in 2004.


There have been many events during and since my marriage like an auto accident in 1983 where my father died and I lost a baby girl in the womb, a tornado in 2002 that destroyed much of my apartment complex but left my apartment intact (they closed the complex and I had to move), the time I visited some friends in Florida just as a hurricane hit (when I flew down I thought it would miss them, but it changed course), the year my apartment flooded at Christmas, and some other things, but why bore you with details? Life has been anything but dull, and it is still interesting today.


I wrote a web page for years until they shut down the free part of the site. Before too many more years pass, I am expecting to write for publication--I almost think I may have learned enough in life to have something to share :) . While still growing and changing, I'm looking to see where God and life take me next. I want to enjoy life and live it well because our lives are part of a whole story the Lord is writing and I want to read all of it some day.


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