The Very, Merry Month of May

O, the month of May, the merry month of May, So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green! (from a poem by Thomas Dekker)

Spring is my favourite season and May is my favourite month. After a long, cold winter I look forward, with eager anticipation, to all that May has to offer. I love the clear, soft blue skies and the mellow sunshine. I love that the sun dispenses a gentle, mellow warmth while the air still feels fresh and clean. I love the symphony of birdsong that heralds in mating and nesting season. I love spying the exuberant flash of bright colours on male birds wearing their best feathers to attract the ladies. I love puttering around my garden and observing how each day something new and green pushes through the soil promising that days of colour, texture and scent will soon follow. I love how the tree silhouettes change from the outlines of bare branches, to branch tips with swollen buds, to the first flush of new green leaves like delicate lace, to the lush satin fullness of unfurled leaves. I love the evening chorus of Spring Peeper frogs trilling. And I love the smell of things fresh and new and full of life.

To me, the month of May is Creation at it’s best – new beginnings, freshness, gentleness, and a celebration of life.

When I was musing on the subjects of Spring and May, it came to me that the same things that are needed in order to make Spring and May so wonderful and enjoyable are the same things that are needed in our own lives.

Al Jolson sang “April Showers Bring May Flowers”. In the same way that Spring rains nourish May flowers, so too do our own ‘flowers’ of soul (mind, will, emotions) and spirit require ‘rain’ in order to be nourished and strengthened. Plants receive the best nourishment from rain water but we receive nourishment from “living water”, which comes from Jesus Christ.

Joh 4:10 Jesus answered and said to her, If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that says to you, Give Me to drink, you would have asked of Him, and He would have given you living water.

When we believe in Jesus Christ, we are filled with “living water” which nourishes and strengthens our soul and spirit and the life that this brings then flows out as a witness to others of God’s love, mercy and grace.

Act 14:17 And yet He [God} did not leave Himself without witness, doing good, giving rain and fruitful season to us from heaven, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

Joh 7:38 He who believes on Me [Jesus], as the Scripture has said, “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”

Trees, plants and flowers also require sunlight in order to produce food for energy and proper growth. Our physical bodies need physical sunshine in order to produce Vit. D (important for healthy bones and immune system). Our brains need regular exposure to bright light in order to have mental and emotional health (sunlight triggers the formation of important endorphins and neurotransmitters). Our soul and spirit also need to be exposed to light – but rather than sunlight, we need Sonlight –  Jesus, who is the Son of God and who is The Light.

2Co 4:6 For it is God who said, “Out of darkness Light shall shine;” who shone in our hearts to give the brightness of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Joh 8:12 Then Jesus spoke again to them, saying, I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

While we do get sunshine in Summer, Fall and Winter, I find May sunshine is the best because along with the lengthening hours of mellow sunlight, we get gentle warmth. Summer light is glaring and harsh with an accompanying heat that can be fierce which causes living things to wither, dry up and die. Autumn heat is milder but as daylight hours lessen, leaves lose their ability to produce the chlorophyll necessary for energy production and begin to die. Winter light is bright and crisp but lacks the necessary warmth to sustain life in plants and trees.

Gen 31:40 I was there; in the day the heat consumed me, and the frost by night. And my sleep departed from my eyes.

Job 24:19 Drought and heat eat up the snow waters;…

Just as plants require the right amount of warmth in order to flourish, so do our souls and spirits – only the warmth we need does not come from the sun, but rather from The Son, Jesus, and the Heavenly Father, God, who sent him. When we are one in relationship with Jesus and God, we benefit from the warmth of their love and protection.

Ecc 4:11 Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone?

Isa 25:4 For You are a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the fearful ones is like a storm against the wall.

Isa 49:10 They shall not hunger nor thirst; nor shall the heat nor sun strike them; for He who has mercy on them shall lead them; even by the springs of water He shall guide them.

Jer_17:8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters; it sends out its roots by the river, and it shall not fear when the heat comes, but its foliage shall be green; and he is not worried in the year of drought, nor will it cease from yielding fruit.

Water, sunlight and warmth in the right amounts promotes life and growth in the physical world. Living Water, The Light, and the warmth of fellowship with God the Father and Jesus, His Son will provide life and growth in your soul and spirit.

“Abba, Father, hear in Heaven and forgive the sin of your children. Teach us the good way in which we should walk in The Light of truth and give rain on your land, in Jesus’ name. Amen” (based on Joh. 8:12, 1Ki 8:36)

Blessings

 

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The Big “D”

In 1850, author Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote a story called, “The Scarlet Letter”. It tells the story of a 17th century Puritan woman who gets pregnant after having an affair. As part of her punishment and penitence, she is forced to wear a large scarlet letter ‘A’ for ‘Adultery’ on her clothes. The letter served as a constant reminder of her sin and her shame.

As a Christian woman who has gone through a divorce, I have often felt like I was walking around with the capital letter ‘D’ tattooed on my forehead. Historically, divorce has been a huge ‘no-no’ in the Christian world. To this day, I still feel some shame and discomfort in revealing to other Christians that I have been divorced. I don’t think that we, who are divorced,  should be made to feel that way.

I am writing this from my female perspective and from my own experience. After my husband left the marriage (I’ll just say – for unbiblical reasons) I joined a Christian support group. The majority of the group was made up of women whose husbands had had an affair and had then left them for another woman. We did have a couple of men in the group whose wives left them for another man. Others had to leave abusive relationships. Almost all of us were victims of divorce – meaning that being divorced was not what we wanted; it was not what we hoped for; it was not what we fought for.

God’s plan for marriage was that a husband and wife would become united as one body:

Mat 19:4-6 … Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning “made them male and female”, and said, For this cause a man shall leave father and mother and shall cling to his wife, and the two of them shall be one flesh? Therefore they are no longer two, but one flesh.

The marriage relationship is supposed to mirror the relationship that God wants us to have with Him, through Jesus Christ.

Joh 17:20 And I do not pray for these alone, but for those also who shall believe on Me through their word,
Joh 17:21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.
Joh 17:22 And I have given them the glory which You have given Me, that they may be one, even as We are one,
Joh 17:23 I in them, and You in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.

Divorce was never in God’s perfect plan. In fact, the Bible says that God hates divorce (in some translations the term “putting away” or “sending away” is used to mean divorce.) :

Mal 2:14 … Because Jehovah has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your covenant wife.
Mal 2:15 And did He not make you one? Yet the vestige of the Spirit is in him. And what of the one? He was seeking a godly seed. Then guard your spirit, and do not act treacherously with the wife of your youth.
Mal 2:16 Jehovah, the God of Israel, says He hates sending away;

God told the men that they were acting treacherously against their wives when the men engaged in ‘sending away’ – divorcing – their wives.

The word “treacherous” comes from a word meaning ‘to deal deceitfully or unfaithfully’ and ‘to offend and transgress’.

This is not how God commanded husbands to treat their wives.

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, …

Yes, God hates divorce, but we do read in His Word that He allowed it:

Deu 24:1 When a man has taken a wife and married her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes, because he has found some uncleanness in her, then let him write her a bill of divorce and put it in her hand, and send her out of his house.

Notice that the scripture gives the one condition upon which it was allowable for a husband to divorce his wife – “because he found some uncleanness in her”. The word “uncleanness” refers to something shameful or disgraceful. God did not grant a husband permission to divorce his wife because he was bored with her or no longer attracted to her or she was ill, or because he found someone else that caught his fancy.

To understand why God allowed divorce at all, we must understand that the ancient Jewish people, whom God wanted to be His special and separate people, had begun to stray from the teachings of God and had started to intermarry with unbelieving Gentiles. In order to preserve the intended purity of the bloodline of the nation of Israel, God permitted Moses to issue a certificate of divorce if the unbelieving Gentile wife behaved in a manner which was ‘unclean’ (indecent and shameful) in regards to the teachings of God. Divorce was to be a sort of ‘last resort’ exception rather than a rule.

In fact, when Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees about divorce, Jesus responded by saying that it had been allowed “because of the hardness of your hearts”.

Mat 19:8 He said to them, Because of your hard-heartedness Moses allowed you to put away your wives; but from the beginning it was not so.

The term “hard-heartedness” means the lack of spiritual understanding or perception. The nation of Israel was “hard-hearted” or lacking in spiritual understanding when they inter-married with unbelievers.

Jesus goes on to clarify that the only reason that a husband could divorce his wife was if she committed some kind of fornication – such as adultery, incest, unnatural sexual acts, or idolatry.

Mat 19:9 And I say to you, Whoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery;

When God says that He hates divorce, He means that He hates the sinful hard-heartedness or spiritual darkness which leads to making such a decision. He hates how that decision destroys the wonderful plan of oneness for which He created marriage. He hates the pain, suffering, grief, loneliness, shame and even poverty which can result from divorce. BUT – HE DOES NOT HATE THE VICTIMS OF DIVORCE! And He is willing to forgive those, who, in sin, have caused the divorce to come about.

Being victims of divorce is bad enough without being additionally victimized by unkind, unloving, legalistic, judgmental Christians. Stop making those of us who have already suffered, suffer more by making us feel that we must walk around in penitent shame with a big “D” on our chest. Imagine what it would look like if we were all required to wear the first letter of one of our sins on our chest?? There would not be one single person who could walk around in a clean, plain white t-shirt!

Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, …

God is willing and able to grant mercy, grace, forgiveness, compassion, kindness and redemption to those involved in divorce; we as Christians must also follow His example.

1Jn 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

Update: as I was putting away one of my research books, I came across a teaching by the Apostle Paul in regards to the dissolution of a marriage between a non-believer and a believer. It is another case in which divorce is allowed.

1Co 7:15 But if the unbelieving one separates, let him be separated. A brother or a sister is not in bondage in such cases, but God has called us in peace.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s All In Your Head

May 4-10, 2015 is Mental Health Week here in Canada. Just as almost everyone can name someone in their family who has been affected by cancer, so, I think,  can we say the same thing about mental illness. I have a relatively small family, but I know of a number of my relatives who either battled mental illness in the past or who continue to live with various aspects of mental illness.

I myself battle Generalized Anxiety Disorder, panic attacks, and occasional bouts of depression. And I am a Christian.

I added the latter statement because oftentimes the pressures of being a Christian made it even more difficult to come to terms with and accept the fact that I have mental health issues. Sometimes the pressures came from within myself from misunderstanding God’s love for me and His will for my life. At other times, the pressures came from other Christians who ‘offered’ ‘helpful spiritual advice’. (I say this with sarcasm) My Mom calls those types of Christians “Job’s miserable comforters”.

Let’s face it – mental illness still carries a stigma, both outside and inside the church.

I have suffered panic attacks since I was very young; and I have already mentioned that there is a family history of mental illness. But, I have believed in Jesus since I was a girl. Therefore, it can not be the simple fact that I suffer because I am an unsaved sinner. Every single human ever born since Adam and Eve’s children, (with the exception of Jesus) have been born in sin. Therefore if being a sinner is the reason for all mental illness, then every human who ever lived has been mentally ill. (I sometimes think that this is true when I look at the state of the world!)

Well then, since I am saved, then perhaps my mental illness is due to some sin that I have not dealt with?? When I accepted Jesus as my Saviour, He washed away all my sins. Not only that, by accepting Jesus, I have ‘put on’ the life of Christ. I have God, in Christ, in me! So, while I still make mistakes in my life, sin can no longer live in me because of what Christ did. Again, if unresolved sin is the cause of mental illness, everyone would be mentally ill because “all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God”.

As much as I have hated suffering chronic pain and fatigue and being diagnosed with cancer, I have hated suffering mental illness. And just as I have fought my other health issues with everything that I could, I have fought against mental illness. I have prayed – intensely – for healing and deliverance. I have claimed scriptures. I have rebuked the enemy. I have spent hours and hours studying the subject of divine healing. I was led to believe that taking medication meant that I was doubting my healing, so I stopped taking my medication, which led to unpleasant repercussions.

I finally came to the conclusion that God is concerned about my quality of life. He gave mankind knowledge to develop medications and treatments to help us when we are sick. God knows that I don’t want to be ill. He knows the road of faith that I have walked in an effort to manifest my healing. God wants me as happy and healthy as I can be and if that means that I must take medication, then He sees with mercy and grace. God would rather have me alive and functioning as an active member of the body of Christ, rather than sick, in an institution, or dead.

I urge you, if you think or know, that you or a loved one has mental health issues, please seek proper medical help. And as you receive that medical help, thank God as you continue to seek His will and His wisdom. Continue to walk in faith, in hope believing for your deliverance. God loves you!

And if you are a Christian who knows another Christian who may be battling mental health issues, please, please do not be numbered among Job’s miserable comforters. Do not judge, criticize or condemn. Be loving. Be patient. Be compassionate. Be understanding. Be supportive. Be forgiving. Seek Godly knowledge, wisdom, counsel and understanding. And pray.

Rom 15:13 And may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I am including a link to Canadian Mental Health Association.

http://mentalhealthweek.cmha.ca/your-mental-health/mental-health-fact-sheet/

Blessings