When church covenants don’t cut it

When church covenants don’t cut it

I had laid in bed sobbing uncontrollably, to the point I was barely able to stifle back the sound or even breathe. I had wrestled all night with the thoughts of quitting….EVERYTHING. I would not just instantly make an emotionally decision. No, it would be intentional because that is how I have chosen to live my life now. What would that look like? How would that effect things? Or would it? Can I walk away? From ministry? Work? Church? I wanted to just hide and become self-involved because well, it’s easier and safer, than living outside of me. Mediocracy looked more appealing then ever.

In those early morning hours, as the last tear left my heart, I resigned to walking away. I had chosen to JUMP off the mountain side and was allowing the gravity of life to pull me back into me. I had chosen to give into what I can only describe now as spiritual suicide. I reasoned that I will still love and serve my God but that I was going to walk an easier road. HA! Isn’t that what Peter did when he denied Christ? The illusion that I would still love and serve Him but walk away from all that I was serving Him through. If that’s not denying I don’t know what is.

But God.

So what does this have to do with covenant and church?

I have grown up in church and under sound biblical teachings. Throughout this time somewhere in my upbringing (physically and spiritually) I had made the theology that I was to be in covenant with select safe people. I have always heard to be careful who you are in covenant with because that’s a bond that cannot and should not be broken, so I was careful. I’ve been taught, make connections with people because you need them, and they need you. Build relationships because people are what matter and stay committed to the path because finishing well is the goal. All of this is true. However, in this midnight hour of my life, the Lord clarified His teachings into a deeper sense of understanding.

You see, I had jumped….walked away… but HE did not. I was looking for a person that I was in covenant with to be there in my darkest time, I mean isn’t that a part of building relationships? When you are committed to the same God, same service? Shouldn’t those people be there in times like this? My expectations of the relationships and commitments to do life with people, had failed me completely. Not the people, my expectations. Maybe these people were busy doing life themselves? Maybe they were going through their own dark times?

Relationships can be withdrawn from.. can change… will change. Commitments come and go. New ones added, old ones put away. Covenants made with people… by people… broken.

At the moment I had resigned to walk away from it all, I received a text from an old friend, Elise. A friend that if you had asked me if I was in covenant with her, I would have hesitated to answer. Yes, we were close friends over time but I hadn’t necessarily done life with her like I had others, the ones I felt I was in covenant with. She was simply reaching out and sending me some encouraging kind words, not even really know knowing what was fully going on inside me. Then the Holy Spirit showed me this picture.

This time a new stream of tears flowed. Tears of thankfulness that He didn’t let me continue to fall. Thankfulness that He brought the right person there that I would allow in to help draw me back to Him through covenant. The rope in the picture IS HIS COVENANT that He made with me and I with Him. The reason Elise was on the other end? Because she had made the same covenant with HIM. It’s not the people that keep you connected, it’s the covenant. Just as he has saved me when I was a sinner and living a life of hell, His love covenant saved me again, differently. Even though people may walk away from relationships, commitments, and covenants made (like I did in this moment), Jesus WILL NOT and DID NOT.

For His LOVE covenant securely wrapped me up and held me from death. It was strong and unfailing even when I was weak and fallen. 

Over the next week Elise helped slowly, and gently draw me closer to safety. I sent her this pic jokingly, little did I know how true it really was. You see her help didn’t come from a platform, it was personal (even though a platform has helped many other times). The connection and relationship was there and built. The commitment made by her was to GOD not to me. That’s why we make connections, build relationships and commit to the walk. Because at some point during this faith walk you will find yourself at one end of the rope or the other and the only thing holding is the covenant Christ made with you and for you.

Elise moved at a Spirit-led pace, and was truly a Faith coach to me during this time. She didn’t hold onto me, she held onto to HIM, while HE held me. Then when the time was right, she helped bring me safely back on the solid rock I had jumped from.

I told Elise the other day, this post would be tough. Is it wrong that I secretly hope no one reads it? The openness and transparency right now feels dangerous to me. If it were about me, my weaknesses, or failures it would be. But it’s not. This post is about Him and His greatness. Proof that HIS COVENANT with us reaches us and saves us when no one else can! Elise could not have reached me (I was too far gone), but the covenant I had made with Christ and that He made for me is limitless and unbreakable. It is His covenant that saves us over and over. My theology on church covenants, relationships, and commitments were shallow in thinking because they were connected to people. When the truth is…

The covenant Christ made with you through His blood is the only one that can never be broken and can always reach you. You may walk away, but He never will. He will always provide a safeline to draw you back to Him.

When there is nothing left but…now what?

When there is nothing left but…now what?

This season has been the hardest yet. It seems that I have lost so much, made so many mistakes, hurt so much, and am looking at what appears to be not much left at all.

You don’t realize what it takes to walk this faith road until you are stopped in your tracks. If you would have asked me anytime before the last two weeks, do you have faith? Or is your faith strong? ABSOLUTELY! would have been my answer. I love my God above all things. All I want is to do what He has for me to do. I have come to learn: that.. is.. not.. faith. When your faith is put to the test and challenged… what it is rooted in will show it’s strengths and weaknesses.

I have learned faith is not my love for God. It is also not about my obedience. You see, just because I love God and obey Him may not mean I trust Him confidently. If you had asked me if I trusted God I would have immediately answered, Yes 100% but how do you know until it’s tested with action and not just words? And how deeply does it run?

Faith comes down to this: how do you relate with God when you feel like you have lost everything? everyone? Do you believe or trust that He is there with you in it all and through it all? Can you or WILL you rely on him in those times? Or just lie in your place of darkness? Stuck in the mess that you can’t get yourself out of?

Our faith must be tested for it to grow. The root of where MY faith lies must be tested to be strengthened.

When it all comes down to the nitty gritty…. after I weeded through all the limbs that had been cut off or blown down… sitting lifelessly at my feet… in the midst of all that appeared loss… I had ask… now what?

All this appears to be and FEELS like death. I would be lying if the thought of walking away didn’t cross my mind. Actually the thought didn’t just cross my mind, it camped out a little while and stayed for a short vacation. Looking at the wreckage piled at my feet I said to myself, it’s too much…I just can’t, and I’m not even sure if I want to. So now what? 

Now what? …when I asked HIM... was followed by such a sweet peace kind of answers.

Lord, I know you forgive me, but what if they won’t? They will because they love Me… 

Lord, I am hurting and can’t make it stop. I have hurt relationships and can’t fix it…  Now what? I can, if you will let Me? Trust Me with them.

….but Lord, I don’t trust them. Do you trust Me? 

Did I really trust Him? Did I have faith that believes He holds it all, sees it all, and wants to make the best of it all? …In the middle of all the PAIN … FOR ME? Like right now…in this situation…do I trust that HE WANTS to do this for me and WITHOUT ME? Does my belief in HIM withstand the pain I am in? And the pain that I have caused? Do I trust and believe that He is faithful and just in it all? And for ALL THOSE INVOLVED?

You see, it wasn’t my LOVE or OBEDIENCE that was tested.

It was my BELIEF and TRUST in HIM towards ME that was being tested!

My belief that HE WILL do what HE said He would do, even when I am unworthy and have made a mess. MY trust that HE would WANT to lift me up out of the miry clay I was stuck in and WANT to set me feet on His solid rock. My belief that He is who He said He is…and would do what He said he would FOR ME and in spite of me.

For FAITH is the confidence…the foundation….the actual existence of something or someone being real in your life and circumstances. Are you allowing Him to be real in your life and circumstances? Faith is the steadfastness of mind, courage and resolution of firm trust and confidence IN HIM.

Confidence that says, He is in it all, and wants to be. I didn’t drag Him in or beg Him in. He is here because He wants to be. He loves me because of who I am, not because of what I have done.

This is my now what… My Faith.

 

The Pretty Phenomenon

The Pretty Phenomenon

Being a makeup artist in the beauty industry I hear and see how much attention is given to outer physical beauty. Being in ministry, I hear a lot about the same but from a completely different side and perspective. So, I’m here as a beauty expert to give my weigh-in on both sides and hopefully bridge the gap a bit.

In our society pretty is praised. Probably a little too much if we are all honest. The thing about being pretty is you have no control over that. It is a physical attribute that you were given or not. Yes, I know, we can enhance it, bring it out, or even surgically create a little more of it, but for the most part you either are born with it or your not. When did we allow our society define us? We’ll, it’s not a new thing. Let’s just be real, not everyone can be pretty, the Bible even notes those that were physically attractive and those that weren’t. I dare to state: pretty is a passive state. It doesn’t last. Not only is it passive, it’s a perspective. What is praised as physically attractive in one culture may not in another.

One of the big things I see a lot of is an attack on the attractive. Don’t get me wrong, I know society and the media over praises pretty but I also see other sectors shaming it and wanting to make those that happen to be pretty feel less than. Then if you happen to be attractive and wear makeup, jewelry, or have a sense of fashion that enhances it; it’s automatically assumed you are vain or puffed up. Why do we take such a harsh emotional response to a temporary physical state that is perspective driven and only variable by a small degree?

Just like you can’t praise a person just because they are pretty, you also can’t persecute them. I have heard people flippantly say and even post on social media, “It’s a good thing you’re pretty.” Alluding to the fact that being pretty is that person’s greatest attribute and all else is lacking in comparison. The fact that a person has physical beauty doesn’t mean they are less intelligent, insightful, or humble. I see so many times people wanting pretty to be played down instead of being glorified for the Creator who made them that way.

So, my final thoughts. Do not allow society to define you if you don’t happen to be “pretty” by their perspective; it fades eventually anyway. Do not allow people to persecute you or shame you because you are, enhance it and own it.

Enhance who you are, pretty or not, but don’t cover it up because you are beautifully and wonderfully made.

Pretty is something you see and is temporal but beauty is cultivated in your character and is eternal.

Lastly, become BEAUTIFUL.

 

Glory in the Tent

Glory in the Tent

There was a challenge put before me earlier this week to dig into 1Samual 17:54 by a visiting evangelist John Skipworth, who is a co-pastor at The Assembly of West Monroe. Let me just say…amazing preacher….amazing word! You can hear the full sermon on this scripture here. 

1 Samual 17:54 David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem; he put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent. Another version says … he put his armor in his own tent.

Can I just say…the depth that Pastor Skipworth went into on David taking the head and bringing it into Jerusalem was amazing. SO much to learn and take away. However, the backend of that scripture has just stuck with me like 15lb steak! I don’t know much about ancient warfare, much less why they did what they did, so I did some googling.

Here are my lingering questions…

WHY would David take Goliath’s armor?

WHY would he put them in his tent?

WHY did David take his armor? Stripping the enemy of his armor has to do with the way Greek soliders gained “glory” or “renown” (these are English translations that probably don’t do the initial concept justice). The Greek term was “kleos,” and in order to get this glory on the battlefield, you not only had to accomplish certain things, but you had to make sure that others saw you do so. Glory in private didn’t really count; the point was to make people talk about you.
If you killed your enemy on the battlefield, maybe people saw it or maybe they didn’t, but if you took their armor, no one could say that you weren’t an accomplished warrior.    Stripping the arms and armor of the vanquished was a physical sign of the presence of kleos, or glory.(Source site)

David took Goliath’s armor…let’s stop here and make a point. Goliath name itself means “Splendor”. He was considered THE brilliant, majestic, spectacular, display of glory for the Philistines. So this means, when David KILLED the PRIDE that wanted to enslave God’s people HE not only brought freedom, but he stripped Pride of it’s glory!(soak that one in for a second)

WHY did he put them(the armor) in his tent? I am sure it goes so much deeper then I am going to take it, but here is what I see. His tent was his intimate place with God. There are several scripture references where David (after he is king) brings the ark of the covenant into his tent and offered burnt offerings.

I believe this was David’s offering to God.

ALL of the GLORY!

You see the head of the giant was to show the people of the land the enemy was defeated! The armor was to show the glory of WHO did it. David knew WHO did it and it wasn’t him, he was merely the stone thrower. David brought the armor(the glory) before God(in his secret place) and gave him ALL the Glory ..all the honor… and all the splendor. David didn’t need to be recognized because David recognized the ONE who gives the only recognition that counts!  His focus was on giving God the glory. David’s public recognition would only be a reflection of what he gave to God in private.

As a prayer warrior, WHEN (not IF) God delivers the giant into your hands and you show he is no longer in charge. I ask you….WHERE will you put the Glory? Are you getting the glory on the battlefield for everyone to see? Do you believe that glory in private doesn’t really counts? Are you needing people to talk about it? Our flesh wants this so bad….recognition and honor in defeating the giant. However, we really did nothing, but throw the stone.

We must kill the pride of giants and sacrifice the glory in private. Glory shown to us in public is only a reflection of the glory we give to God in private. 

When you have screwed up royally!

When you have screwed up royally!

EmotionalRollercoaster-300x127Have you ever had those days that you found yourself on the rollercoaster ride of great heights and deep lows…experiencing every emotion you think you have all within.. oh let’s say 48 hours? 24 hrs? 12hrs? During times like these I feel like I have suffered from emotional and spiritual whiplash. OH boy, today I’m definitely feeling the soreness from it! This weekend brought on trying challenges to say the least and boy did I screw up ROYALLY! Several times in fact! ugh! why can’t life just be easy?  Because easy changes nothing…including me. 

This weekend I had the sweetest moments with friends, in bible study conversations, and in His presence. I also had ugly words fall from my lips in raw anger and frustration. How can I live this life striving to be Christ like and still fall into things that I should have already grown out of? How can I fail, stumble, and sin while still pursuing Him? Well, because I’m human and still flawed. I am still flawed. but I am still trying

<img class="size-medium wp-image-1209 alignleft" src="http://dorothystrouhal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/guilt11-300×250.jpg" alt="guilt11" width="300" height="250" srcset="http://dorothystrouhal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/guilt11-300×250.jpg 300w, http://dorothystrouhal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/guilt11-768×640.jpg 768w, http://dorothystrouhal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/guilt11-1024×853.jpg 1024w, http://dorothystrouhal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/guilt11-610×508 le viagra est il en vente libre en pharmacie.jpg 610w, http://dorothystrouhal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/guilt11-1080×900.jpg 1080w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px” />This morning the guilt of all of my failure and unholiness that “won” this weekend began to come at me, showing me how truly un Christ like I acted. The words that were ugly, the anger (even though justified) was released in a way that was not. The sin that I allowed to have a presence in my life reminding me how far I have come but showing me even more how far I have to go. My mind said repent …repent…REPENT! but my heart already had. Guilt wanted to stay but the heart wanted to worship. Amazing how the remembrance of sin, the unholiness of our humanity hold no candle to the worship of our Father. When we worship the attacks against your mind, your soul, and your spirit have no choice but to stop and come under submission to the holy one.

If I allowed myself to wallow in my weakness I would never continue to run this race that HE has set before me. In my weakness HE makes me strong (because I cling to Him). In my sin, He covers me with grace (because I ask Him) , and in my unholiness I am made whole through His holy spirit (because He loves me). Don’t allow the rollercoasters of life and the whiplashing of your emotional flesh keep you from the worship and redemptive spirit of God. If you have screwed up royally…then repent and worship royally!