My6inchchallenge's Blog

Tackling difficulties and overcoming the challenges life serves up – by Dona Halliday

Archive for sin

Religion: Finding safety in the enemy’s territory

Sunday after Sunday she shows up to church, sings in the choir and helps with the children, she then heads home, and in another attempt to keep her husband, plies her young daughter with alcohol so that her husband can once again have sex with their child…

She hates going home, she dreads being left alone with her father and his friends, she’s only 9 years old but she has been called every degrading thing you can thing about by her dad. She’s just a child, but her innocence was stolen a long, long time ago….

They were just young boys, twins, who were sent to church I guess to learn about God, instead, they became prey and were molested by the priest their family trusted….

She’s been abused physically and emotionally by a husband who openly cheats on her, she goes to church and says she loves God but she wonders sometimes if she could get away with killing her husband…

Blow the trumpet in Zion, SOUND THE ALARM….

For while we are caught up in our women’s day services — choosing what colors to dress up in and having hat contests — women are shouting right along side us then going home and making compromises that would blow our minds; while we are debating about the clothes our children are wearing and pointing our fingers at all that’s wrong with the youth of today our children are being broken and harmed in the places they should find safety. While we are doing church as usual, people are dying.

Blow the trumpet in Zion, sound the alarm… Rend your heart and not your garments and return to the Lord your God…

What happens when our lives are threatened in the places where we should find protection?

David was in such a situation when King Saul was trying to destroy him. The bible says that David took refuge in the enemy’s territory, among the Philistines. I’m convinced that this is the trick of the enemy to make the places where we should be nurtured, loved, protected, where words of life should be spoken into us, become places from which we feel the need to escape , and persuade us to run to the enemy for safety.

The problem here is that King Achish, though he gave David a location where he could escape Saul’s attack, he saw this man that God had destined to be a king, as his servant. As a matter of fact he thought to himself that David had become so offensive to his own people, the Israelites, that he would never return home and he would remain his servant forever.

It’s painful and heart-breaking that some have to face the kind of challenges they do, and it hurts because there are no easy solutions. When Adam and Eve scoffed at the idea that sin brings death they could never have imagined that their choices would plunge the rest of humanity into a life-cycle of physical and spiritual death, brokenness, pain and destruction. I believe that today, when we make choices against God’s will that the wages of sin have not changed, when we sin something dies and sometimes it’s not only in our lives.

I don’t know how a mother could make her daughter an object for her husband to take advantage of, or why a dad would be so hateful toward his young child, why broken and wicked men who claim to represent God pass on their of brokenness to others, or why husbands and wives hardly seem to have lasting love in their relationships. One thing I know for sure is that running to the enemy is never the solution, for the enemy may know our potential but he will always offer us less than what we have been destined to become.

The Good News is that God restores, through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus, the broken, hurting and those who have made messes of their lives and the lives of others can find restoration, they can go home again. In addition, He offers His power to destroy the patterns of broken behaviour and the power of sin in our lives so that we don’t have to be the ones passing on the cycle of brokenness to others.

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When sin is in the camp, destruction may be near

It’s Saturday, a gorgeous day, the sky clear,  blue and beautiful. I’m loving the gentle breeze as I lay in the shade in the park — reading. I’m familiar with the story but have never seen it quite this way.

I turned the page thinking – the way that they are living will cause others to die…

Something had gone wrong. The had had everything they thought they needed to ensure their victory, but they had failed and thousands had died …

They were equipped with:
1. Two men of God accompanying them to battle
2. The ark of the covenant which represented the presence of God
3. A shout that was so mighty that it caused the earth to shake and terrified their enemies when they heard it.

Yet…
1. Their priests had died
2. 30 thousand more soldiers had been killed
3. and the ark of the covenant had been captured by the enemy

They did not know:
1. They could not manipulate God with religious words, acts or symbols
2. Sin was in their camp. The wicked ways of their priests were not overlooked by GodGod had already pronounced judgment, they were going to be destroyed
3. If God is not impressed by our shout, it does not matter who we try to frighten with it

Then it was Springtime. Passed from death to life.

Dona Halliday experiencing Spring

"It is Springtime!"

Recently I had a flashback from the most unlikely place, with a few notes from a song long forgotten, “Let’s get it on,” I was back in my 25th year. So much had changed during that year – my neatly packaged life, with its black and white distinctions of right and wrong, started unraveling.

The place I had felt most secure suddenly turned into a war zone. Two of the people who had nurtured me, the pastor – my spiritual father, and my former Sunday school teacher – one of my spiritual moms, were at war. I don’t know why it started, but blows intended to wound were hurled from the pulpit Sunday after Sunday, and soon the place I had loved going to, became a place I dreaded.

The first mistake I made during that time was to stop attending church. Mistakes two and three followed when I stopped reading my bible and then gave up on prayer.

Mistake number four showed up shortly after, a tall, handsome Trinidadian four years my senior, wearing the most beautiful smile. We started dating. He gave me my first secular CD, a mix of songs by Marvin Gaye. The first song on the CD, “Let’s get it on.” With him I tried my first alcoholic beverage, beer – yuck! alcohol was not for me. My first club experience was also with him – that was not for me either, and when back then I decided I would never get married and therefore there was no need to “save myself for my husband,” he was still around.

Note to self –  If I have children do not teach them to save themselves for their spouses. Make sure they build their values on a more lasting foundation.

We continued dating then I ended the relationship when he started talking marriage. Have you ever heard Christians, with much delight, talk about the fun they had before they came to Christ? I have. But I was not having fun. The poor choices I made were not fun to me. I was in rebellion and I knew it. I stubbornly resisted God as I challenged the notion of him as a loving Father.

Those were dark, winter days, I felt spiritually dead, and though consciously I chose not to pray, sometimes in my sleep I would happen upon my spirit crying, “God, don’t let me live life without you!”

I don’t know anything that is as beautiful and powerful in its ability to transform, like love that is consistent, sacrificial and forgiving.

Have you ever been loved into submission?

I can’t explain it, but as my rebellion and disobedience met God’s love, I started changing. Love, God’s love, makes me want to be better. The thing I would not change about that time was the journey of questioning, seeking and experiencing God for myself. The relationship I have now is not based on what I’ve been told but it’s based on discovering God’s heart and character.

It’s Springtime! To me, this is what knowing God is about. For even after we have committed our lives to God we may still have challenges that can seem dark and death-like. But don’t give up on the journey, question if you must, but continue to seek God.

God is not threatened by our places. The journey is that place of learning, discovery and growth, and with each lesson comes the opportunity to be awakened to a new understanding of God’s love, and life – vibrant, exciting, colorful, abundant life.

Relationships — Moving pass failure

It was Saturday, about 8:00pm, I was dressed in my favorite four and a half-inch high-heeled sandals, a little black dress and too much self-confidence for my own good. I was comfortable, at home, my surroundings familiar. My friend who was working at my desk turned and said “We should get married tomorrow.” I laughed and replied, “I hope you don’t throw that around to everybody, someone might have you down the aisle before you finish that sentence.” Then, “what would you have done if I had said yes?” I asked. “We would get married,” he stated simply. I really like him, he’s laid back, has a great sense of humor, a keen business mind and one of the most focused persons I know. We’ve known each other for several years, we are friends — I was comfortable. So comfortable that I kept ignoring the little voice in my head.

The next day was Sunday. After church I took a different exit because of where I had parked, I had been late for church. I had used that exit only once before but I lived about 7 minutes from the church, so feeling “comfortable” I drove. Finally, I came to an area I knew, I had driven 25 mins  in the opposite direction.

Saturday evening before I left home, I had been totally exhausted, that’s what the voice had been trying to tell, or remind me rather. One of the boundaries I’ve set for myself is not to go out when I’m so tired, when I’m tired I’m vulnerable — I like closeness and comfort.

If we are honest, we would admit that normally on our way to the course that leads us away from what we have determined to live by, there are several warnings. When he had asked if I wanted to postpone, I should have listened to that voice, and said, yes. Before we left, I had leaned my head on his shoulder as we talked, I should have listened to the voice that said “Girl, you’d better sit up straight!” When we got to the restaurant, at the dinner table and I realized I was playing footsie beneath the table…, well, I did stop, but I should have listened.

One of my favorite verses. “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life,” comes to mind. There has never been a time when I’ve failed to guard my heart, that I have not failed. Whether it’s a physical act of flirting too close to the edge of right and wrong, responding with a bad attitude, or giving in to anger, guarding my heart is absolutely necessary to living a life that represents God well.

Failure for me is saying no when God says yes or vice versa, forging my way when God says to wait, choosing what I want instead of yielding to God’s word. You see, God’s word is the standard, it’s unchanging, everything else vacillates. So when I fail, God’s word does not shift to make my wrongs right but I have to shift, repent, to meet His standards.

Over the years I’ve learned when I’ve chosen my own path that finding my way back to God is easier than finding my way home. For His word says, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

I’ve realized that when we fail, the challenge is not to allow shame, guilt or pride to keep us stuck, reluctant to admit our wrong doing, hinder us from making it right with God. I believe that’s really the enemy’s winning card, to make us feel we can never go back, to silence our voices, put out our lights. If you have failed in any way, I am Dona Halliday, challenging you to refuse to stay there, to get up and go back to God, for what I was reminded of in Church on Sunday is that covenant relationship, God’s kind of relationship never gives up on us, neither does it passively wait for us to return but He comes seeking those who lose their way.

Hush, little baby… shattering the silence around abuse

Hush little baby, don’t say a word, papa’s gonna BUY you a….

It’s only as an adult I’m realizing what terrible messages some of the nursery rhymes I’ve loved as a child and still do, have. What things, I wonder, are bartered for the voices of our children?… There’s nothing wrong with what we are doing, so, Hush, little baby, don’t say….

It may start earlier than we think, that devaluing of the voice. How often do we buy our children things to keep them quiet, throw out hasty promises just so we could be left alone, buy bigger houses so we can hide in our individual spaces… Hush, little baby, don’t say a word…

Something so tragic has been alleged in the body of Christ that I’ve just wanted to hide from it, turn off the news, shut it out. For in a case like this, it’s impossible for the body of Christ to take arms and start a war against opposing sides, for we are ALL the body of Christ, accused and accusers alike — the discovery of truth when you weren’t there, can often be a long journey.

But the message we do not want to send to our children and young people is that no one will stand for them or with them when they use their voices. That no one is interested in discovering the truth.

As members of the body of Christ, there are so many unproductive things we can do at this time. Mostly, I’ve wanted to pray, and one of the things I’m praying is,  “Lord, clean up your body,” and lest you should think me too self-righteous, I always remember to ask Him to start with me.

I may offend some by saying this, but in the church many of us became experts at hiding and covering up sexual sins or improprieties, ours and others. Maybe, as a friend said, it’s time for the church to stop the pretense and deal openly with our issues. For, there are somethings that need to be denied breath so they can die, and there are others that need to be exposed to the light so healing and transformation can take place.

Relationships – Sins of the past

The Judge sits with gavel in hand waiting to pass sentence on current and past sins. Having the power to show mercy or condemn, may she choose mercy. On my 6 inch challenge blog

"Judge with gavel in hand"

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“This is the second bad thing I did”, said Ruth, as she plunged into another story from her past. “I told this guy I had a Christmas gift for him and suggested that we do a gift exchange. He asked me what I wanted and I told him money. When he brought the money I told him I had forgotten his gift and I’ll give it to him the next day. The next day I tried to avoid him, so as he walked towards me calling my name, I started running –I had never bought him a gift. But that does not really count”,  does it”?, she asked with a laugh, “Because I was only a teenager.”

I can’t remember how this conversation started on my job, but Ruth, my coworker (the name has been changed to protect the guilty), is one of the sweetest persons I know, and as the judge in me rose to condemn her for such a terrible thing, grace reminded me to sit still. After all, I have my past sins and I can’t even blame youth for those unwise choices.

I believe that’s one thing our mistakes should teach us–be quick to show mercy and slow to condemn. Have you pointed your finger lately, shook you head in disbelief, wondering how someone could be so bad, so evil, so unwise? Have you banged your gavel and proclaimed they should never have another chance, you’ll never forgive them, they deserve what they get? Pause for a moment and check your past then see if you really have a clear conscience to continue throwing stones.

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