Author Archives: Heather Harris

Laying on children on the altar and letting the Father's will be done isn't always easy. Lifeinfaithlane.com

Abraham Versus Sarah

In Genesis 22, we are taught the story of Abraham’s TRUE faith. No, not the leaving of his family and his father’s country. Not the being a sojourner in a land called his, instead of being able to set up a home. All that required true faith that the Father would provide, for sure.
However, let’s be honest. How easy would it be to leave your home and know the Father would provide for you? For us, in this present day, it might look something like this:

  • Sell your large home
  • Buy a smaller home, maybe a bit closer to work, school, or family
  • Have a smaller payment or no debt at all
  • Praise the Father for providing

That sounds pretty easy, right? And I know that Abraham’s faith was a strong faith in the Father. When Yah told Abraham that he and his wife Sarah would have a son in their old age, Abraham knew it would happen. Didn’t know how, he just knew it would.

Ah, that Sarah. She longed for this son for so long. Her heart must have ached to hold a baby of her own. Hearing that a son would be born to a woman well past child bearing years would have made me laugh out loud, too! Doubt would have easily crept in, and I would question it as well.

When the baby finally DID come, did that make Sarah’s faith stronger in the Father? Maybe. We really aren’t told much about Sarah’s faith and her relationship with Yahweh. So, I imagine myself in that position. I’ve prayed about a child for years and years, when the time finally comes for me in my old age I am exuberant. I can see her now, bouncing that baby on her leg, nursing that child with love and care. Watching with joy in her old eyes as he toddles on his first steps. Ears that ring with the sound of his first words.

Believing this child was the promised one, and nothing would ever harm or hurt him.

All that would change for Sarah. When the Father told Abraham to take Issac up to the mountain and offer a sacrifice, there is nothing that suggests Abraham consulted Sarah about the decision. Nothing that suggests that Abraham doubted for one moment that the Father spoke to him and told him to do it. Abraham just knew that the Father would take care of things, that the promise he gave to make his seed into a great nation would not be a lie. Whatever the Father promised is what would happen. Even if that meant Issac would be raised from the dead. Abraham believed.

Did Sarah know this to be true? After reading the story of Abraham taking Issac up, putting him on the altar, raising the knife, being stopped and blessed, what more do we read of Sarah?

The next time she is mentioned in Genesis 23, Sarah dies.

Did she hear what Abraham was going to do with her only son, the longed for child, and die of a broken heart? That seems likely. What did Abraham know that she didn’t?

As a mother of three wonderful teenage children, I can feel Sarah’s pain. The idea that something would happen to harm or kill my child would grieve me to the core as well. It would pain me more to see THEM hurting than to see ME hurting. I know that most mothers can testify to that as well. We would give our right arm, our eyes, our very lives to protect and keep them. That’s a good thing, truly.

Yet, we are to lay our children on the altar as well. Not literally kill them as a sacrifice, but to offer them up to the Father. To pray that HIS plan will be worked out in their lives. When our children go astray, it’s painful to see. Yet, the Father already knows their path and what it will take to pull them back. To stop praying for “protection” but to pray that the Father will reach them, no matter what.

And yes, that is painful to see. Painful to watch your child deal with pain. But, if that is what it takes to have them repent and turn to the Father, then that is what we need to allow to happen. We need to “get out of the Father’s way” and allow them to be placed on the altar. Allow the Father to cut their hearts, and remove the stony parts. Yes, it will hurt them. Yes, our hearts will hurt watching it.

But, the promised blessing is worth the pain. The promise of “Train a child in the way they should go, and when he is old, he WILL NOT DEPART.” (Proverbs 22:6). And for all those who are struggling with a wayward child, this promise may be all you have to cling to. It is for me right now. Watching our older teen son struggle with his faith, doubt it, question it, and even walk away from it is heartbreaking. Laying him on the altar and allowing the Father to do His will isn’t easy either. As a mother, I want to protect my child from danger, harm, or any pain.

Like Sarah, a part of me feels dead when my child is hurting. To have the faith of Abraham and KNOW that the Father will take care of the child is what we need to have. We need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Father WILL be true to His word, always.

 

A tale of my two lovers. lifeinfaithlane.com

A Tale Of Two Lovers

I wanted to share a story with you today. An honest, heartbreaking one. I just know this is the place where people will understand.

I strayed from my first love some years ago. I left his abounding love, and went after another. Sure, I gave “lip service” to the first, but my heart was with the one I was committing adultery with.

After some time, I don’t recall how long it took, I realized what I had done. I had broken my vows, broken the heart of my first real love. I cried out in repentence, “I’m so sorry, what have I done???” and begged to be taken back.

Amazingly enough, my first love took me back with simple “I’m so sorry” and a change of heart. We could finally be back together, right? Well, maybe.

I still called my first love by my other lovers name. I celebrated his birthday on my other lover’s birthday. I told my first love that I was really calling on HIM, not my other lover, and celebrating HIM, not my other lover. Didn’t seem to make a difference. My first love still knew that my heart was with my other lover. I couldn’t let him go.

All around my house, you would see things that would remind me of my other lover. In one small corner, I had a small token of my first love…his love letters he wrote to me. I read them once in a while, but only when it was “convenient” and my other lover didn’t need me.

It wasn’t until I realized just how much my other lover still affected our lives and I ripped out any memory of him that I was able to really fall in love with my first love again. I had to remember my first love’s REAL name…and call him that. Calling him by names I called my other lover just wouldn’t do.

I had to remember the days my first love and I celebrated together. I had to go back to what WE had done at the first, and not what my other lover wanted.

Once I did that, life was different. There was a peace in my heart that I can’t explain. I am in love with my first love, and He and I have built a wonderful relationship together. But, I had to let go of my other lover completely. I had to stop breaking my first love’s heart and reminding Him of what I had done.

He who has ears, let him hear.

How easy it is to fall prey to sin! What can we learn from David? lifeinfaithlane.com

Falling To Sin

This morning, as we were reading in 2 Samuel, it started out as “just a story”. It’s a good story, learning more of David who was often referred to as a “man after Yahweh’s heart”. He is someone I love to read about, to be honest. David was powerful, righteous and had a way with words that were just beautiful. Can you just hear David playing the lyre or harp, singing his praises to Yahweh?

It’s easy to do when you are at the top, right?

Let’s remember that David wasn’t always righteous…like that time he submitted to his earthly, fleshly desires? Hmmmm…it started with pornography, really. Ancient times type of porno.

And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. (2 Sam 11:2 KJV)

Can you just think for a moment just how “creepy” it was for David to WATCH Bathsheba take a bath? Peeping Tom, much, David? But, that was the draw of sexual desire. Like I said, it was an ancient form of pornography.

And, that sin of lusting after Bathsheba in his heart, coveting Uriah’s wife, led David to do much worse. Murder, lying, adultery…

It’s at this time we need to think back on the Torah. I like to call the 10 Commandments the “cliff’s notes to Torah”. It’s a great way of seeing the basics of following Yahweh. In those 10 commandments, it’s pretty specific that we aren’t to covet our neighbor’s stuff. Like his house, his belongings, his car, his WIFE. (see Exodus 20:7) Why? Well, that desire to have what our neighbor has can lead us to do some pretty crazy stuff.

Back to David and Bathsheeba. David wanted this woman so bad, that he had his messenger to and get her to bring her to David’s bed. One has to wonder what Bathsheeba thought of this at the time. Was she a willing party to sleeping with David, thus committing adultery? Did David give her gifts, or get her drunk, or make promises to prosper her if she slept with him? Did David force himself on her? No, the Bible leaves that part out, but I still wonder about HER side of the story.

So, now, David gets Bathsheeba pregnant.(2 Sam 11: 5) She obviously knew it was David’s, since her own husband was out fighting the war. What does our hero do? He tries to get Uriah to sleep with his wife, making it look like the child was his own. As if the man couldn’t count to 9. However, Uriah was much more righteous than David was at this time. Uriah refused to have sex with his wife, or take the night off, so to speak, when the men he was fighting with couldn’t do the same. (2 Sam 11:11)

That didn’t work, so David had Uriah sent to the front of the battle. He was to be placed strategically, so that the others fighting with him would leave him alone, and Uriah would be killed. Yo’ab, the leader of David’s army apparently was upset at being commanded to do this, because David’s messenger sent these words to him:

Then David said unto the messenger, Thus shalt thou say unto Joab, Let not this thing displease thee, for the sword devoureth one as well as another: make thy battle more strong against the city, and overthrow it: and encourage thou him. (2 Sam 11:25 KJV)

Basically, David was saying to Yo’ab…”Hey, it’s all good. Men die in battle and one is just as good as another. No biggie, not your fault. These things happen.”.

THEN, after her days of mourning for Uriah, David takes Bathsheeba into his house and takes her as a wife. Their son was born, probably not too long after. Did all the house of David know that the child was HIS, or did they think he was just a great guy, taking a women who was pregnant with another man’s child? Again, not important details, but I wonder…

Yeah, what David did was EVIL. In 27 verses, David went from doing the will of Yahweh, to doing what was evil in Yahweh’s eyes. It took less than a year for him to do this. What would have happened if David had NOT fallen to that original watching of Bathsheeba bathing? Would he have lusted after her, slept with her, impregnated her? If David had turned from watching this woman on the rooftop, would he have been drawn to commit murder?

Oh, how easy it is for us to fall victim to sin!! One sin can easily lead to another, then another, then another. Before you know it, our lives are torn apart. Pornography, lusting after another, can be so dangerous. It can tear a kingdom apart.

Who are the real victims of this story? Well, Bathsheeba for one. She was the one who was innocently bathing on the rooftop. Uriah was the husband who was cheated on and murdered. The child Bathsheeba bore to David died. And yes, even David. He became a victim of sin. Once he got on that sin train, it was hard to stop.

But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7 KJV)

And so it is with all of us. We must learn to run from sin, run hard and fast away from it. What is sin? Sin is transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4) In order to keep from sinning, we MUST follow Yahweh’s laws, or Torah. That was given to us, NOT for salvation, but BECAUSE of our salvation. The Torah is how we know HOW to love Yahweh with all our hearts, minds and might. It’s how we know how to worship HIM by not placing other gods before Him, not taking His name in vain and keeping His Sabbath holy. It’s HOW we love our neighbor as ourselves. It’s there to keep us from coveting, lying, cheating, murdering.

And when we sin, we can be assured that He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.(1 John 1:9) THAT is a promise. All we need to do to grab a hold of this promise of forgiveness is to repent. Turn from that sin today, and follow after Yahweh’s heart.

What does it mean to walk in love? Can we really do it? LifeinFaithLane.com

The Fruits Of The Spirit-LOVE

Something that I have been learning lately are the fruits of the Spirit.

No, it’s not been easy, and I’m not very patient with it. I get angry when one of my kids spills a drink on the couch, or when hubby spends more money on lunch than was originally budgeted. Oh, the frustration I feel when someone “doesn’t get it” about Torah, or who Yahshua was, or anything that I feel I’m on the “up and up” Biblically speaking.

Oh, wretched sinner that I still am. Obviously, the work on the cross didn’t finish it all, because there is still a LOT of work in me left to do. The only thing I have truly going for me at this point is my willingness to say that I don’t have it all together, and my willingness to keep trying. That automatically makes me 1/2 way to success, my desire to do the Father’s Will. HE wants us to succeed at this. He doesn’t set us up to fail, like a big ol’ meanie in the sky. The Father truly wants us to follow Him and He didn’t make the way difficult.

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. (Deut 30:11-16 NIV emphasis mine)

Following His commandments are not hard. At least, they shouldn’t be. Sinful pride seems to keep getting in the way for me. The Torah isn’t far off, it’s in our mouth and in our heart when we choose to follow the Father’s ways. Incidentally, that’s how our Messiah walked, talked and lived while on the earth. He walked Torah perfectly as an example to us that WE could do it, too.

But, that PRIDE.

Pride is the thing which causes me to fail each and every time. It puffs me up, makes me believe I can do it all on my own. That I don’t need help with anything. When I am full of pride, I find myself arguing with people, losing patience with my children, fighting with my husband, and even eating an entire bowl of ice cream as I try to “drown my sorrows”. The fruits of the Spirit are not reflected in these things.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Gal 5:22-23 KJV)

So, how to I show love first of all? Yahshua Himself said that the two greatest commandments were to Love Yahweh with all our hearts, minds, and soul and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Matt 22:37-39 KJV)

Loving Yahweh with all our hearts means that we guard His laws, His right rulings (Deut 11:1), obey His voice and cling to Him (Deut 30:20). We strive to follow Torah, to keep it the best we can. When we fail, we TRUST that our Messiah’s blood will cover our sin so that we can start over again. We don’t give up. That part is easy. Our Father is perfect, He doesn’t make mistakes, spill milk, toss a red sock in with white laundry or bleach our dark colors. He doesn’t load the dishwasher wrong, forget to take out the garbage or forget to feed the dog.

Loving our neighbor as ourselves? Ummm…that is the difficult part. It’s hard to love a neighbor that allows their dog to roam free, killing your chickens. The neighbor that dumps all their leaves in a pile in your yard? The neighbor that burns their leaves as you are trying to hang out laundry to dry? What about the person who cuts you off in traffic? Or takes the parking space you wanted? What about the person who is taking forever in the checkout line when you are in a hurry? How hard is it to remember to love when your white laundry comes out pink, or your black laundry comes out spotted? Or when you are cleaning up spilled milk-AGAIN?

That’s where I call out to the Father. There are times I can’t love someone on my own power. BUT, with the Father’s Spirit leading me I can forgive the dog’s owner, understand that the neighbor was trying to help our garden with his leaf pile, and even offer to take the other leaves off our neighbor’s hands so they don’t have to burn them. With the Spirit, I can breathe and remember that a parking space is just a parking space. There ARE others in the parking lot. I can remember that nothing is that important that I need to be in that big of a hurry in traffic, or at the store. (yes, emergencies are different)Perhaps in the interest of peace for myself, I leave an extra 15 minutes in my schedule to account for that.

With the Father’s Spirit, I can remember that clothing is just STUFF that will pass away. Harsh words can wound a soul, crush a spirit, break a heart. I take a breath and remember that my family was trying to help.

And, that, my friends…is walking in LOVE. Am I perfect at it? NOPE. Not even close. That’s where keeping close to the Father in prayer and reading comes into play. Renewing your mind and all. (Romans 12:2)

Did Jesus come to establish a NEW covenant? Or did He just reiterate the covenant given to Abraham? Lifeinfaithlane.com

Did Jesus Really Establish A New Covenant?

When I was in the mainstream churches, I was taught that Israel broke the covenant with the Father, Yahweh. Because of their breaking this covenant, Yahweh had to send His Son, Yahshua (Jesus) to die on the cross so there could be a new covenant.

Of course, with the new covenant, there were new rules, new commandments and even new holidays. The old was done away with, we didn’t have to follow that old archaic law anymore. The Jewish holidays weren’t for followers of Jesus.

But, is that true? I’ll give you a real life example to ponder on.

My husband and I have 3 wonderful children. We love them without fail, they don’t need to earn it, they have our love. Our natural born children did nothing, and can do nothing to earn our love. They did nothing to “earn” their place in our family.

We DO have rules in our house. Rules such as taking out the trash, doing the dishes, obeying curfew. Our love is not contingent on them obeying, but when they obey those rules they get blessings. When they were younger, it was in the form of allowances. As they have gotten older, the blessings were a bit different, such as later curfews, the ability to take Mom’s car when they went out, and so forth. Makes sense, right?

When they disobeyed the rules, or didn’t follow through, there was punishments. Such as being grounded, not being allowed to visit with friends and so forth. Still with me?

A few years ago, we adopted my niece. She saw that my kids had a stable life, one that she desired to be a part of. She liked the idea of being allowed to do things, and getting allowances or other benefits that went with it. That led to the decision of her wanting to live in our house and be part of our family. We became ONE family.

The clincher here? We didn’t set up different rules for her. She had to follow the rules that were already established. The rules that our natural born children were already following. It was GRACE that brought her into our house, but OBEDIENCE that kept her flowing in the blessings. Remember, allowances, borrowing the family car, getting to go out with friends? All blessings to them. And all easily obtained by following the rules.

What do you think would have happened if we had given my niece different rules?

“Oh, you’re new to this, and since our daughter didn’t obey the rules, well, you don’t have to either. Just love your neighbor. Forget all this curfew stuff, helping out around the house, and other rules. Those just don’t apply to you anymore”

We would have been seen as horrible, unfair, and even psychotic. Why would we allow someone to come into our house, share in the blessings, but have a different set of rules placed on them? Why would it be okay for my niece to eat in her bedroom, but not my daughter? How does this drive my daughter to want to continue to try and follow my rules, and my niece to see me as a loving, fair parent? In short, it doesn’t. It can’t.

The rules are still there, they never went away. The rules are the rules in our house, regardless if my children obey them or not. For example, curfew during the school year is 11 PM. If my daughter is late, and comes in at 11:05, I don’t say that the curfew is done away with. It’s still the rule. She can repent and follow that rule the next time because I love her. I will give her grace to try again. Maybe after a punishment of being grounded, but she WILL get a second chance.

As for my niece, just because my daughter was late and broke our rules doesn’t give her the license to break them too. If she wants to live in our house, she has to follow our rules. If she chooses to not follow our rules, then she is free to leave.

Thus, I struggle with Christians today in mainstream churches who believe the law is done away with. “We don’t need to follow that anymore, Christ did away with it” is what I hear over and over. What they are in essence saying is that they are like my niece, wanting to live in the Father’s house with all His blessings, but they get their own set of rules. They don’t have to follow the rules that the natural born children already have in place, simply because the natural born children broke them.

As a matter of fact, the covenant that Yahweh gave to Abraham is still in effect. I believe that it existed in the beginning, as John 1:1 states.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Is it too far fetched to think that ADAM was given the Torah by Yahweh Himself, in the spoken word? We know that Adam had many children, and I am sure they were all taught about Yahweh and His ways directly from Adam. Otherwise, how would Cain and Able have known HOW to sacrifice to Yahweh? Or, even what to sacrifice?

I believe the Torah was given in spoken form, to be passed down generation to generation. It’s not out of reality to understand Noah knew what was “clean and unclean” to sacrifice. (Genesis 7:2) Back then, they were vegetarians. So, when they were given all animals to eat, that didn’t include pig, or shellfish. They already KNEW what was clean and unclean.

Like a game of “telephone”, where you pass a message down to another person and they have to rely on what YOU heard, the Torah was given in spoken messages. However, like all humans who have hearts bent on evil from birth (Genesis 6:5), the Torah was not followed. Human-kind once again became corrupt and broke the rules.

Just like when my daughter was late for her curfew. She was an hour late one night, and was grounded for a week.

Israel went into captivity to Egypt. I believe that they were tested by Yahweh as a result of disobedience. When Moses led them out of Egypt, at Sinai they were given the Torah once again. BUT, this time it was written in stone. No more “but I didn’t know, my father never taught me that” excuses. They had it in writing for all to follow for ALL their generations.

One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you. Exodus 12:49

Then, when Israel continued to disobey (do we EVER learn!), Yahshua came to us. He was the perfect example of HOW to walk out the Torah. He showed us, in both word and deed, how to daily follow the Father’s ways. He didn’t speak His own words, but that of the Father.

For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. (John 12:49)

The “new” covenant that so many Christians are excited about is NOT that we can “eat all things” or follow after pagan holidays (christmas, easter etc.) BUT that the Torah will be written on our HEARTS.

“This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” (Hebrews 10:16)

What it all boils down to is this. When we call on our Savior Yahshua, it’s because we have sinned. We have transgressed against the law, the Torah (1 John 3:4) and we need Him to show us the way, and to cover us with his blood so we can be forgiven.

Like my niece, we want to be in the Father’s house. We want to be saved. BUT, we need to obey. We need to follow the rules. THAT is how we show that we love Him.

Whoever has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him.” (John 14:21)

Are you walking in the truth today? Follow the Messiah’s example, and walk out the Torah.

Dating or Courting? Which is the "right" way for a young, single person to find the "ONE" that they are to be with the rest of their lives? I hope to bring you a perspective from both sides and let you decide for yourself. Life In The Faith Lane

Dating Versus Courting

Dating or Courting? Which is the “right” way for a young, single person to find the “ONE” that they are to be with the rest of their lives? I hope to bring you a perspective from both sides and let you decide for yourself.

There are similarities between them, really. The end result is hopeful of a long term relationship, most often marriage. It’s a chance to get to know someone else, build relationships and even life time friendships.

DATING

This is “fairly new” to our society, only really appearing in the last 100 years. As it has been described, it’s a way for people to meet and get to know each other one on one. Most often, the dating couple will go out for dinner, a movie, to the zoo, etc. alone. They are normally “unsupervised” or without a guardian. The exception to this is group dating or double dating, where more than one couple is involved.

Dating someone is as simple as asking a young lady out for a cup of coffee, or to dinner. A young man asking a young woman out for coffee is simply wanting to get to know them better, not asking for her hand in marriage.

The pros to this idea is that the couple can truly get to know each other in a less stressful environment. (If little brother or a parent is always with them, conversations tend to not go to deep levels about who the person truly is. Hopes and dreams are tempered with the idea of “being tattled on”.) You can easily see what a person’s true character is when they feel free to talk openly.

The “hook-up and break-up” generation that has evolved from dating has many drawbacks as well. Teenagers are taught from an early age that they can “love” someone one day, then “love” someone else the next. Their view on relationships is based on how pretty the girl is, how popular the boy is, and if their friends approve of the other. The idea of “fast love” can lead to young men and women giving their hearts away quickly, and running fast toward a physical relationship. Breaking up can be as painful as a divorce for many.

Dating, especially at an immature age, can lead to bad decisions being made. Not just in a physical relationship, but in even choosing WHO to be in a relationship with. In high school, more often than not, relationships are built on who is the prettiest, who is the star of the football team, etc. They are less likely to be based on character, values, and the real person.

And that is what the modern day courtship line of thinking was trying to protect against. They are wanting to “build a wall” so to speak around their children’s hearts, to protect them. Who can blame them for wanting the best for their child? But, is what they propose as courtship the answer, truly?

COURTSHIP

To best answer that, we need to define what “courtship” is by their standards. In courtship, the young man asks the father of the girl permission to “court” his daughter. Instead of asking to go to a movie, they are asking for the daughter in marriage BEFORE knowing her. All parents are involved in this process, giving or denying permission. When permission is given, the couple “enters courtship”. This typically means that any communication between the couple is monitored, such as texts, messages, or emails.

A courting couple may go out to a movie, or dinner, or any other “date”. The difference is that they are not allowed to be alone. Ever. A sibling, parent, or other responsible person is always with them. Being alone would allow for hormones to take over, and the couple may be led into temptation, and thus, sin. Being supervised and having communication monitored allows the parents to maintain control, and thus, giving the young couple “accountability”.

I have also seen cases where the young couple was not given a choice in the courtship. Their marriage and courtship were a match-maker set up. Most often done by the fathers in the intent “of their daughters best interests”. One young lady told me her story that her father set her up in a courtship at the age of 18. She knew her husband only 6 weeks, and never even so much as held his hand until they were at the altar. They have been married for 6 years now, with 4 children.

Pure? Romantic? Sure. I’ll agree to that. Is it in the best interest of the young adult though? When do we give them the option of who they marry? When do we begin to trust THEIR decisions? When do parents allow their children, who are now entering adulthood, to learn how to manage a relationship on their own?

Advocates for courtship can usually quote Joshua Harris by page and paragraph. In his book, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, Harris states that “dating is breeding grounds for divorce” because it trains young people to quit relationships when things get too hard to handle. I admit, I read this book cover to cover religiously. MY kids were going to court, that was it. Purity and piety, not even kissing until at the altar was the goal here. Otherwise, they might not be “good Christians” and what would others think?

Even now, some years later, Harris himself is wondering about this type of courtship. The kind that parents control every single movement their children make. In one interview, Harris stated

“I know in many ways it’s too late for me to fix something for people who feel like they’ve been hurt by the books,”Harris told me. In almost an hour of talking about the negative impacts of the work he is best known for, he never sounded dismissive or defensive, and he didn’t use his youth or inexperience as an excuse for his book’s flaws. He spoke slowly and carefully, returning over and over to the theme of his own readiness to listen to his critics. It’s worth noting that Harris is media-savvy to avoid saying anything too definitively apologetic. But after making his name spouting certainties, there is a certain poignancy in his willingness to be nakedly hesitant in public. (source)

People hurt by the idea that “sex before marriage” was dirty, impure, unholy had a hard time letting go of that thought process when they DID get married. Especially if they faltered and had sex before marriage. Such as this person who wrote,

I have been married to my wife for over seven years. We’ve been together over ten. We have a beautiful daughter, and successful careers. When we were dating, we had sex. Because of the shameful purity movement rhetoric we learned from your book, sex became tainted. To this day, I cannot be intimate with my wife without feeling like I’m doing something wrong. Sinful. Impure. We both adored your book as young people. And I believe our diligent commitment to your ideas, and our “failing to stay pure until marriage” has permanently damaged our relationship. Years of truth and counseling later, I cannot get the subconscious idea out of my head that I am doing something wrong. D–m you.

So, what about those who stayed pure in courtship until marriage? What about those who experienced a “failed courtship” where the couple did not make it to the altar together? Were there people who experienced a tangling of lives due to the “shame” of wanting to date? What did the youth from 1997 on really feel about courting as Joshua Harris put it?

Over an email conversation, this roundtable was created. People from every walk of life were part of it, sharing hurts, disappoinments and even condemnation they experienced from the thought process of this book. For example,

We were taught a lot about “what we don’t do,” even though people being people actually did do those things, and were judged or disfellowshipped for doing them. And “what we don’t do” was a way to be pious while building social standing for being “different” and more controlled. It’s pernicious because it encourages you to bring the external self-serving colonial standard into your own conscience. And then you oppress yourself and call it holiness.

I’ve been thinking a lot about depression and how much of it can be traced back to purity culture. I’ve had it most of my adult life, and I can definitely trace some of it back to the constant self-loathing I went through growing up. And I keep going back to something that I’ve been thinking about when it comes to purity culture and depression is the possible link between the two.

The things I’d want my 15-year-old self to know, despite IKDG and that whole subculture: You’re not property. You’re not property your parents will one day hand over to your spouse. You’re not a commodity or a trade item. Your value doesn’t rise or drop like stock. The world can be hard enough and you might be tempted to get hard-hearted with it. But your openness is not a flaw, and feeling might not always be fun, but it is good. The guys are figuring themselves out just like you are. You can have standards without growing cold. Fear is not the way of grace or growth.

So, is the answer to the damaging “purity” culture to run out and have as much premarital sex as possible? Um, not even close.  Even those in the round table would tend to agree.

I understand that the people in the round table discussion are the extreme, and not everyone who was involved in a courtship has had these experiences. Not all courtships lead to feelings of guilt, anxiety, or depression. Actually, the same could be said about dating someone exclusively and “breaking up”.

So, the basic argument is that dating leads to impurity and courtship leads to spiritual and/or mental abuse. But, neither are true in my opinion. So, is there any middle ground to this? Perhaps.

As he so eloquently stated in his article found here,  Thomas Umstattd Jr seems to agree that courting is fundamentally flawed. As a matter of fact, he himself went from “courtship only” to back to dating. His grandmother gave the best reasons of all.

Dating can give you options of getting to know different people at the same time by dating different people different times. For example, going out with Bob for coffee on Thursday evening, then having dinner with Jason on Sunday. Dating multiple people can help a young lady guard their heart, as they can be less likely to want a physical relationship with Bob when they know they are going out with Jason 3 days later. Young men learn that they do not have exclusive rights to that girl or her time, and tempering temptation can be easier in many cases.

What’s right for you and your child?

Well, I can only say that we are a non-courtship house. This is only due to the definition of courtship that others have given me. I don’t want to control my children as they enter adulthood, I want to guide them. My husband and I agonized over this decision years ago, to be honest. BUT, we knew we were training up our children as best as we could. Did we make mistakes? Um….yeah! Plenty of them. And we will continue to do so, even as we strive to be more like our Messiah.

Whatever decision is made in your home, be it courtship, dating exclusive or dating non exclusive, may I suggest that you leave the lines of communication open with you and your soon to be adult children? TALK with them about this choice, and talk often. Be ready to see things from their perspective, even if it differs from yours.

 

 

 

 

 

What do you do when it feels like your world is crashing down? Lifeinfaithlane.com

“Help, I’m Drowning”

In Genesis, we read about Noah and the ark. Noah built his ark, loaded the animals that YHWH told him to load, and the rains came. You remember the story, right?

What I have never really got before that was the idea that the ark was in safety on the TOP of the water. Sure, that makes sense, but what did it mean?

 

Then, I looked at Isaiah 54:9-11.

For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee. O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.  (emphasis mine) (KJV)

What did this mean to me?

Part of our walk is learning HOW to walk the Torah and HOW to follow the Messiah’s example. What did the water have to do with it? We learned that the water seemed to represent the storms of life. Little did we know, we were about to face a huge storm in our life.

Our son is in rebellion. He refuses to listen to us reading the Bible, refuses to pray with us, and refuses to even sit in our Bible study that we host in our home. We fought with him, pulled the “chain” around his neck to force him to obey, and hammered in our ways in his life. All to the negative. It came to a head last Sunday, after we read those above portions. Our son left our home in the middle of the night and was gone for several hours.

Worry and fear tried to take over, and we spent hours praying, crying and searching for comfort from the Scriptures. Easier said than done, to be honest. We were able to bring our son home safely after several hours, but the damage to our relationship was done. What were we going to do? I LOVE my son. So much I’d give my life to save him. And, it HURT when he started going astray. Heart shattering hurt.

NOW, I know how YHWH feels when we stray from Him and His commands. Heart shattering loss. It’s not pretty, friends. Not at all.

Crying out, I remembered the tempest that Noah went through and was led to Matthew 14:22-31, the story of Peter walking on the water with Yahshua.

And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. 23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. 24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth [his] hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? (KJV)

Imagine this…Peter thinks he’s all big and bad, right? I mean, he’s one of the “loved” disciples. One of Yahshua’s best friends. In the inner circle. Can you see him right now, climbing out of the boat, walking on the water to the Messiah? I imagine that in the middle of this, he looks back at his friends, almost boasting about his feat, and takes his eyes of the Messiah. As his eyes are off the Messiah, he sees the wind is strong and becomes afraid and starts to sink.  He becomes afraid.

Fear nearly caused Peter to drown. Fear nearly killed him. Had he not called out as he was sinking, Peter might have died that night. But, in faith, he called out. Maybe it was a weak faith, but it was faith that the Messiah would do something to save him.

That is how it was with me. FEAR caused me to take my eyes of the Messiah and worry  caused me to want to make my son follow in my paths, my way. But it isn’t about ME, or MY WAY. It’s about the Father’s ways and HIS path for my son’s life. I cried out that night, with a gut wretching cry that I have never had before in my life. Tearing the soul apart kind of cry. The kind that is so deep and hard, tears can’t even form. I cried out, “YHWH, save me, I’m drowning”. Those were the only words I could get out for the next hour.

The storm hit. I had taken my eyes off the Messiah, and had started to sink.

In faith, I cried out to Him to save me. And, his hand reached out and pulled me up. I was lifted up out of the storm, and back into the boat. Humbled from the pride that I could do things my way. Broken that I had failed. Repentant because I was wrong.

For the first time in months, I felt peace. Total shalom. I was finally able to give it all to YHWH and trust that HE will guide my son and grab a hold of his heart. A peace that I no longer have to fight with my son to get him to follow, just pray for him always. I am back on top of the water, in the boat, ready to go back out to the Messiah on the water. Only THIS time, I’ll keep my eyes on HIM.

When life and circumstances have you feel like you are drowning, call out to the Father. He will pull you through.