Deuteronomy 22:5

 “A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.”  – Deuteronomy 22:5

This scripture appears to be a hot topic these days.  Over the last few weeks I’ve seen links and comments posted all over Facebook concerning the outward appearance of the woman. I’m slightly amused that a woman’s clothing can consume so much attention without even the slightest mention of the man’s attire.  More so, I’m amazed that only the first half of the verse is discussed.

Snippets of sermons have made their way around quoting those boldly claiming a woman who would wear pants won’t make the rapture.  That is quite a statement.

Up until a few months ago, I had never worn pants in my life, unless you count pajamas.  I must confess, the comfort of my pjs is well loved, especially in the winter.  I find them convenient because they do not tangle up around you in the night.   Perhaps I should also confess I once wore my beloved flannel pajama bottoms outside under my coat to shovel the driveway.

Will I miss the rapture for wearing my flannel pink polka dotted pajamas?

I have heard ministers preach women should not wear pajamas.  I’ve even heard ministers say they would rather their wife freeze than let her use their coat, because it was a man’s garment.  They held the extreme view that women aren’t to wear denim, have zippers, wear tee-shirts, or tennis shoes.  No, for them pajamas were not an option.

I read a commentary on this scripture recently which said this famous verse in Deuteronomy 22 was referring not to a woman in pants, but to a woman dressing in armor.  What will we do with Joan of Arc?  With the interpretation concerning armor, if a woman should not bear arms, perhaps a man should not…. carry a purse?  Use a mixer?

We neglect to remember the Bible was written for every creature, tongue, and nation; prior to western civilization.  Other cultures should be taken into consideration.  The samfoo and panjabi suit are traditional modest garments worn by women which most westerners would consider a pant-like garment.  The Scots wear a kilt, Bhutan men wear a gho, and Fijian men wear a pocket sulu; all of which very much resemble a skirt.

According to common message thinking; women are not to wear pants and men are not to wear skirts.  Those outside of the western civilization may find this troubling.

If you wish to go that route, what will you do with Jesus and His disciples?  Moses wrote the law and I assure you, he was not wearing ‘wranglers’.

Why is it, in all of these sermons and conversations do they only focus on the women?   The verse has more than one part.  It is written for the men as well as the women.  

If women are not to wear pants simply because this verse says a man’s garment, then men are not to wear skirts or dresses.  This poses a problem when we consider the change of fashion over time.  This verse was written thousands of years ago, prior to Levis and Dungarees.

I’d like to see the ministers today trade their suits and ties in for a nice robe like Moses wore when this law was written.  That ought to be interesting

The topic of garments and modesty has gone out the window, attempting to determine salvation based on the outward appearance, when God clearly told us, He looks on the heart.  Truly we are naked before Him; there is nothing we can do to make ourselves worthy.  We are found clothed in our own self-righteousness, a Pharisee of the Pharisees.

Why on this Earth did Jesus send us the Comforter to lead us and guide us into all truth when we have such God fearing ministers but a phone call or text away, ready to give us the thumbs up or “Like”?  With each and every fashion trend, they stand ready at the pulpit to give their opinion.

People are and always will be influenced by trends and society or culture in one way or another.  Today we are greatly influenced by convenience and practicality.  A woman no longer runs to the store in heels and white gloves.  Men hardly ever wear suits and ties to work anymore.  If you think we are not to be influenced by society at all, then perhaps you should convert to Amish.

I feel like I have spent my entire life dressing for the approval of others.  I had a standard placed before me and that was my guideline.  I can remember keeping what minister so-and-so said in mind while out shopping.  I also remember heels being okay at one church, but when visiting another church, flats were appropriate.  This church believed straight skirts were wrong, another felt you needed long sleeves.  Sisters ran around with safety pins chasing the splits revealing calves.  I dressed as expected and I never questioned it…. until a few months ago.

When I left “the message” I wiped the slate clean and started over with everything.   Yes, I did go back and ask why I dressed the way I did.  Was it simply because I was raised that way and I complied, or did I genuinely feel convicted to do so?

This has been a difficult task for me.  I feel very strongly about modesty.  I feel a female shouldn’t just be a woman but she should be a lady.  This reflects in her attire, her actions, her speech, it’s everything about her.  Modesty is the demeanor that suggests a man stop to open the door, step to the side, and watch his language.  This is not done simply by wearing a skirt or deciding not to wear pants.

Modesty is a very controversial topic indeed.  Perhaps it is not modesty up for discussion after all, but rather the opinions and ideas of the scripture interpreted by men judging men. Opinion has replaced the leading of the Spirit in the heart of the individual, laying law and removing grace.

I have made my decision to pray about my clothing, consider the occasion, and talk it over with my husband.  If this offends someone, I’m not certain what to tell them.  I do take comfort in knowing, they do not make the call for who will, and who will not, make the rapture.  If it is between six and nine, I’ll more than likely be in my pajamas anyway.

Over the Edge

I think everyone has things they do not understand, questions they cannot answer, and things they have stumbled upon at one point or anther which bother them.  Most devout message believers will take those things and “put them on the shelf”.

I confess I have done this over the years.   Usually it was little things such as Enoch hanging around the ark or the Earth being square.  It was easy at one time to excuse them as humanity or lack of education.

I’ve heard them argue,  “God’s prophets don’t make mistakes.”  I’ve heard them follow through with, “That wasn’t thus saith the Lord” or “Not everything he said was the message.

Excuses.

You can reason anything, twist it any which way you want to make it say what you need it to say in order to stay in your comfort zone.  I tried to.  I tried really hard to.

When I first heard of the cloud issue, I came up with my very own “remedy” to settle the discrepancy.  Of course, God showed things in the heavens before He did anything on Earth, and if you calculated it just right, the five or seven angels were only waiting on him for 10 minutes in God’s time. In a cloud drifting east… a couple hundred miles away… from where he actually was…

(I later read something about cognitive dissonance, which summed my “remedy” up quite well.)

I took all of the discrepancies, questions, concerns, failed visions, and everything else that bothered me and I placed them on my shelf one at a time, nicely and neatly.  They sat gathering dust waiting for me to gather enough revelation to look through them again.

Then one day as I was sticking yet another discrepancy on my shelf, the shelf began to rock and sway, toppling over, it fell right on top of me.  I found myself surrounded by discrepancies and questions, making it difficult to even breathe.  My mind was spinning so quickly that it hurt to think.

I had been pushed over the edge.

Call it the straw that broke the camel’s back, the icing on the cake, my one last nerve, or whatever works for you.  I had reached my breaking point.

I would lay awake at night unable to sleep with my thoughts going round and round in my head unable to stop them.  I slept fitfully, awaking from dreams mixed with quotes, questions, and every Bible scripture I had read that day.  I was restless, anxious, overwhelmed, and stressed.  It seemed the only thing that brought me peace was searching for answers.

Even though I can pinpoint the moment I was pushed over the edge, and remember exactly what I was reading and thinking, I cannot do the same for the transition from turmoil to peace.  Somewhere along the way, the many discrepancies and errors turned from chaos to confirmation.

Human emotion ceases to leave me.  Bewilderment and disappointment always seem to come knocking with each new thing I find.  I say I’m not surprised, but that’s only after I’ve read it at least twice.  Often I just shake my head, “Really?”  Other times, I need to walk away.

Where once something was so heavy, I couldn’t carry it, the need to is now gone.  The restless nights have slipped away and in their place I now have something I only thought I had before.

Hello, my name is regret
I’m pretty sure we have met
Every single day of your life
I’m the whisper inside
That won’t let you forget
Hello, my name is defeat
I know you recognize me
Just when you think you can win
I’ll drag you right back down again
‘Til you’ve lost all belief
These are the voices, these are the lies
And I have believed them, for the very last time
Hello, my name is child of the one true King
I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, and I have been set free
“Amazing Grace” is the song I sing
Hello, my name is child of the one true King
I am no longer defined
By all the wreckage behind
The one who makes all things new
Has proven it’s true
Just take a look at my life
What love the Father has lavished upon us
That we should be called His children
I am a child of the one true King

-Matthew West

Apostate

“For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”  – Hebrews 6:4-6

When something you have believed with all of your heart, that has shaped your life and affected your every decision suddenly disintegrates, you are left with empty hands and a wounded heart.  You feel completely lost.

The message was all I had ever known.  It felt like my world had turned upside down.  I was devastated.  I can honestly say there is not a day that goes by that I do not hope something will miraculously put all of the pieces back together.

Contrary to the popular assumption, I did not leave because it was too hard.  I didn’t leave so I could change my standards or make new friends.  I left because I could not take what I had been taught back to the Bible.

Perhaps one of the hardest things I faced was the judgment of those I left behind.   I knew I would loose friends.  I knew it would hurt my family.  I even had somewhat of an idea of the gossip I would face.  Somehow though, no matter how much I braced myself, it just wasn’t enough.

Telling your family you no longer believe William Branham to be a prophet is like slapping them in the face.  It hurts beyond any words I could try to say.  I love and respect my family.  I didn’t want to tell them, but a day came when I no longer had a choice.

You cannot prepare for such times.  You can play it out over and over in your head and yet I promise you, it’s never like you anticipated.  The heaviness of heart lingers even still.  I do thank the Lord He was with me, and provided me the words to say.  However, no matter how settled you are in your thinking and your stand, there is just no easy way about it.  From that point on, things will never be the same again.

I’ve had confident friends shrug off my questions with, “Why doubt?”  Is it doubting to want to understand what you believe?  Is it doubting to think the Bible is your absolute and what you are taught should line up with it?

It hurts to loose friends.  I ache when I think of the hurt and shame I cause my family.  I want them to be proud of me, I’ve always aimed to please.  Rejecting the teachings they raised me under was far from pleasing.  It was the deepest kind of heartache and shame, and I had caused it.

It would seem so simple to ignore discrepancies.  It would be so much easier to pretend nothing had changed, everything would remain the same.  My family would be happy and I would still have my circle of friends.

However, I chose the Bible over the words of a man.  In doing so a line was drawn.  My family, friends, and everything I had ever known was on one side of the line, but God was on the other.  Never in my life had I envisioned my family apart from God.  Tears spilled down my cheeks and my body shook in pain.

Please dear Lord, please don’t separate me from my family.  That is when I found Matthew chapter ten.  I read it over and over knowing I was being tested.

The moment you cross that line all other doors are shut and locked and there is but one way to go.  I would forsake all else for my Jesus.  Without Him, I had nothing, I was nothing.

I have been told I am an apostate.  You know, I had to look that word up to be certain of what it meant.  It means you forsake your faith.  I’d like to clarify that.  My faith is in God.  He is my source of strength.  He is my rock and my deliverer.  Without Him I would not be.

I may not have been able to take all of the message teachings back to the Bible.  It is true that I was stripped down to my foundation.  Everything I thought I knew was gone and I had nothing left.  But my foundation wasn’t the message.  My foundation was my Creator, my Savior, my Redeemer, and my Friend.

You can take away the prophet, you can have his message.  But you cannot take away my Jesus.  Don’t you dare try to tell me He left me.  He promised, He would never leave me or forsake me.

And He hasn’t.

I left the message because I believe I am choosing Truth, I believe I am honoring the Word of God and allowing Him to lead me as He promised to do.  I left the message because I didn’t want anyone or anything between me and my Lord.  He ripped the veil once and that is the way it should remain.

I will not lean upon the words of a man, I will not rest in the confidence of a ministry.  I do not look for comforting words from a prophet.  When I get to heaven and I go before my Lord, it will be just me and Him.  I might as well start now.

Forsaking the teachings of the message does not make me an apostate.  Faith in the message does not save you.  Faith in Jesus Christ…. that saves you.

I’m not an apostate.  I am a Christian.

Shunned

Whoever is not with me is against me,and whoever does not gather with me scatters.                                                                                                                             – Matthew 12:30

Message pastors are now telling their congregations to have nothing to do with anyone who leaves the message, an ex-believer is now their enemy.

This is devastating.  This is wrong.

Yet, I assure you it is happening. 

Families who are neighbors living next door to one another wait to check their mailbox until the coast is clear.  Restaurants are surveyed before entering.  Parking lots are checked for familiar vehicles.

You might run into someone you have known for 20 years at the grocery store, you’ve ate together, you’ve stayed at their house, their kid was in your wedding.  Now they avoid eye contact and duck the other way.  

It hurts.  A lot.

Telling my children they couldn’t see their friends anymore was hard.  It wasn’t my choice, I invited and invited and invited. They declined every single time.  Months have passed, it’s like we never existed.

My kids don’t understand.  They ask me, “Mommy why can’t they come over to play? Are they sick?”  

I told them the truth and  I watched their little faces form emotions of confusion and sadness.  “But mommy, we still love Jesus.”

“Yes. Yes we do.”

My kids have gone through phases pretending their little friends are coming for a visit.  They get everything set up only to walk away.  They start to ask if their friend can come over to play with a new toy and stop mid-sentence to say, “Never mind.”

You have moments when you are out shopping and you see something that you know a friend would like.  You find a recipe you want to make and invite them over to try.  Mostly, you just ache to talk to them.  You want to pour your heart out and tell them how hard this is.  

You need them and they have shut themselves off from you.

I miss my friends.  I miss having a cup of coffee and chatting.  I miss their Facebook posts.  I miss seeing pictures of their kids and hearing what they are up to.

I’ve had to ask myself, were they really my friend at all or was I just a convenient choice because we had “so much in common”?

You fight depression and complexes.  You think maybe if you were more _______ they would still want to be your friend.  If you hadn’t done ___________ your kids would still have their playmates.

You wonder, why they haven’t came to your aid, bringing you the answers that comfort them? 

Slowly your friend count begins to drop.  The invites stop coming and you are now the subject of the latest “news”.

“Did you hear the ______ family left?  Can you believe it!?  No, I haven’t seen her yet! Do you think she’s cut her hair?  You know it’s coming, they always do.  Mmm-hmm, pants too.”

And on it goes.  No phone calls, no emails asking why you have not been to church.  Silent assumption greets you.  

I have to admit this offends me even still.  Did not Jesus say we are to leave and go after the one lost sheep?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not lost.  But they think I am, so why didn’t they come find me?

Jesus said He wouldn’t loose one of his.  Not one.

You go ahead and shun me.  Take me off of your friend list.  Ignore my emails, leave the restaurant I’m sitting in, exit the grocery aisle I’m standing in, that’s fine.  I won’t pretend it doesn’t hurt, though I try to.  I want you to know, I’ll be right here when you need me.

Matthew 10

“When people realize it is the living God you are presenting and not some idol that makes them feel good, they are going to turn on you, even people in your own family. There is a great irony here: proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate! But don’t quit. Don’t cave in. It is all well worth it in the end. It is not success you are after in such times but survival. Be survivors! Before you’ve run out of options, the Son of Man will have arrived.”

“Don’t be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. So don’t hesitate to go public now.

 “Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.”

“Stand up for me against world opinion and I’ll stand up for you before my Father in heaven. If you turn tail and run, do you think I’ll cover for you?

“Don’t think I’ve come to make life cozy. I’ve come to cut—make a sharp knife-cut between son and father, daughter and mother, bride and mother-in-law—cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God. Well-meaning family members can be your worst enemies. If you prefer father or mother over me, you don’t deserve me. If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don’t deserve me.

“If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.”  -The Message

Floating with the Stream

“It is quite interesting that I grew up similar to you but I have the exact opposite feelings….I am so thankful that I went through it because it made me a very strong person and when I see all the ones today that “fit in”, I would not trade my life for one of them. I see people that are alcoholics, addicted to drugs, divorced multiple times, abandonding their children…and the list goes on. My Dad has been a wonderful christian example to me and he told me that the trash floats with the stream…how true…I love being different. Anybody can be like everybody. Maybe this wasn’t for you and if you feel that you have missed out than that is more than likely the case. I have held professional jobs in a Fortune 500 company and had more people respect me for my beliefs than you can imagine….even met my future husband there who said I caught his eye with how I always dressed like a lady…different. At that time, he was a complete sinner with no religious background and even he could tell the difference. I am a very common sense person and to me this works. When something works, you generally stay with what works. I guess my feeling is…if you are finally now “free” and feel like you are happy now that you “fit in”…..why would you run someone down that cannot even defend why they had on linen, white shorts? I just cannot see the spirit of Christ acting in the way I see people on the BTS site….so if you were a fly on the wall and sad you could not join in……I am glad you finally found a place you “fit in”…life is too short to be miserable…another great quote from my Dad. :) May God richly bless you.”

I received this comment a few days ago on one of my posts.  As I read it, my heart became heavy.  I moused over the “approve” and hesitated.  Something seemed to hold me from doing so.  I signed off and still the words lingered, staying with me.  I pondered over them and tried my best to empathize.  

It was not that I didn’t know where she was coming from, I most certainly did.  I had been there.  I have been “different” all my life.  Separating myself from the things and people of this world.  I looked down on others who were not like me.  I too was proud to be different, I was not ashamed of my skirts.  I prided myself, when men opened my door and treated me like the lady my appearance demanded.  I raised my nose at the “worldly” girls with their jeans, short hair, and makeup.  I knew I could be like them in a moment, but they, they could never be like me.

I am reminded of one of Jesus’ parables:

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’  But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”   -Luke 18

Jesus, friend of sinners.

“And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.   And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”  – Mark 2

The words, “the trash floats with the stream” rang in my mind.  “Trash.”  I have been called that before.  There is no lower feeling of unworth.  They are not words you forget.

“Alcoholics, addicted to drugs, divorced multiple times, abandonding their children…and the list goes on.”

Mary, called Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna, women cured of evil spirits and diseases.

The woman at the well, did she not have five husbands, and living with yet another?  Yes, these were “trash that floated with the stream”,

Then Jesus came

.

“for they shall all know me,  from the least of them to the greatest.  For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,  and I will remember their sins no more.”

I am the least, and He tells me He loves me anyway.  He picked me up, cleaned me, and made me better than before.  A new creature.  I didn’t deserve it, I couldn’t earn it, He gave freely and I accepted.  Remember, “And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”

Next time you see trash floating with the stream, share the good news, give them a cup of cold water.  Whisper a prayer for them.  Remember no little boy desires to be a drug addict or alcoholic when he grows up.  No little girl wants to play the harlot.  You don’t know what storms they have walked through, but you do know who controls the storm.

When my Jesus walked on this earth He healed the trash like me.  He called them by name and He fed them.  He gave His life for them.

When you begin to think you are above everyone else, that you are someone or something, and you start to thank God you aren’t like the rest, That is when you neglect to see we all came from the same dirt,  We are all born into sin.

We are now His body and His members, so let us do as Jesus did.  Let us not be found as the Pharisees, but let us go down unto the stream and tell His children He loves them.  Just like He loves you and me.

“Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world
At the end our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Break our hearts for what breaks Yours”

That’s Just Not Fair

William Branham

It was only a few short months ago that I saw this photo for the very first time.  I stared at it for a long time silently studying it.

Memories from my childhood began making their way forward.  Children wrinkling their faces and asking in a disapproving tone, “Why do you always wear dresses?”

Teachers phoning the house asking my mother why she had sent me to school in a dress, when the permission slip she had signed clearly stated that I was to wear jeans.

Girl Scout activities, gym class, summer camps… always standing out.  Never fitting in.

It was hard making friends, you knew you were different.  Childhood as a message believer was anything but normal.  No make up, long hair, and a long baggy dress that more than likely I could have shared with a twin.  There were a lot of sideways glances.  When I was in school, jean skirts were a rarity so you ended up with a gathered printed skirt that your mother would have worn.

All those memories, the hurtful words, looks, and awkward feelings flooded their way to the surface and smacked me right in the face.

There was the prophet himself in shorts.

I stared at it, forcing back tears.  Remembering each and every time my dress prevented me from participating in one thing or another.  The memories and emotions surprised me, those were things from so long ago.

Then reason kicked in.  I had missed something somewhere.  A quick Google search brought me to Rebekah Smith’s slide show on YouTube assuring me it was only a joke for the kids. Everyone was laughing, slowly my emotions deflated and I felt ashamed of myself for feeling the way I had.  I pushed the photo out of my mind and set to making dinner.

Not too many weeks ago, this very same photo made its way back into my news-feed.  Once again I stared at it, remembering.

Studying the detail again my eyes rested on his jacket.  A tailored safari jacket, linen probably. I looked for pockets, buttons, and wrinkles.  My eyes dropped to his white socks, onto his darkly colored shoes, then slowly back up to the shorts. White shorts,  probably linen too.

They matched… so well.  A regular little safari suit.

Just his size.

In the middle of the Savanna.

Reality oozed it’s way back forcing me to study the surroundings.  Mud had made its way up the white wall of the hut.  Grass covered the round pointed roof.  Dirt paths wound around the buildings.  Shadows suggested a nice warm sun was shining down.

Again, my eyes stared back at the shorts, the skin was dark from shadow,  But it was not the stark white skin you would see if my husband put on shorts.

I paused to carefully think about what I saw.  Where does one acquire a pair of shorts on the African Savanna?

Generally, when on a trip of any sort you have just exactly what you carefully planned and packed in your suitcase to take with you.   Myself, I didn’t own a pair of shorts to have in my suitcase, and yet, he did.

This was not just any pair of shorts, but a suit and quite the typical outfit for just such an occasion.

White hat, white shirt, white socks, and…. white shorts.  Precisely his size.

Those emotions attempted to rise, I paused quietening my reaction.  I just shook my head, no words.  All the same, that little girl was crying “that’s just not fair.”

Fly On a Wall

I’m certain many remember the “Humble Pie”  Believe the Sign  served last fall.  I don’t think the word shocked could possibly start to express what I felt.  How on earth could the message be wrong?  

I stayed glued to their Facebook page watching the comments and reading all of their posts.  I waited anxiously for someone to come in and set everything right again.  Not one minster stepped up.  Not one.  

I was so disappointed.  I streamed services from every well known minister in the message hoping for answers.  “Stay off of the sites, don’t engage, do not do an independent study, ask the ministry all your questions, and the worst: The Bible has discrepancies too!”

I was absolutely sickened.  These ministers I thought so very much of and had so much respect for, refused to answer questions.  Instead, they pointed to flaws in men of the Bible and tried to justify the discrepancies rather than present reasonable answers.  

I began to think of the young people, of course they had questions about all this.  Wouldn’t it have been so much easier to take a service and answer each and every discrepancy or question presented with the Bible? No, instead let’s make them look stupid and ridiculous for even having questions.

How arrogant.

Well of course God uses fallible men.  We are human.  It is not so much the man in question, but what he said.  Did he say what the Bible said?  Either you hold the Bible as your standard or you don’t.  

What I saw was men, elders, who had been in the message for 30 or more years standing up and saying “we were wrong”. 

I decided to hear to what they had to say.

I felt like I was approaching a group of minsters on a platform.  Me, a woman slowly approaching them, timidly asking, humbly, eyes to the floor… I didn’t see many “sisters” out there, and I knew I would be considered out of my place.  But… it just had to be done.

My fingers were shaking, as I typed out, deleted, and retyped my question several times.  I was so nervous, I couldn’t make sense of it myself, hopefully someone else would.  I closed my eyes and hit enter. 

Within minutes my phone was beeping and my email inbox dinged.  I even had messages on Facebook from people I didn’t even know, and they were all saying the same thing: “Disengage!”

Funny how, if I was a man asking, there wouldn’t have been the intimidation.  I don’t even think I would have been nervous.  It probably would have rolled off like last night’s ball game scores.  I’m pretty sure no one would have even noticed.

However, female that I was, I was warned not to communicate with those people, they are apostates.  Speaking with them would only open doors to weaken and test my own faith.  If I had any questions, I should ask a minister or my husband.  What made them think I hadn’t?

I will admit I let them intimidate me.  I stayed quiet, like a fly on a wall, silently reading. Watching for answers that never came, only to realize, they never would.

I will tell you this, when I asked questions of those “apostates”, they answered me.  And when they did, it was with love and kindness.  I wasn’t mistreated on the forum at all.  The notes of warning were all sent privately by “friends”, “family”, and “concerned” message believers.

Just participating in a small conversation on the site shamed and embarrassed my family.  I decided it was for the best that I not participate any further.  I cried in frustration, that I would ever remain, a fly on the wall.  

You know when you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom and it just can’t possibly get any worse?  Perhaps you’ve fallen and you just can’t go any further.  That is when He carries you.  He picks you up, and brings you along until you can go again.   Sometimes, you don’t even realize it, but He’s been there the whole time.

A friend request showed up a couple of months later, out of the blue.  It was a male name I recognized from the comments on the forum.  When I accepted, they sent me a message telling me who they really were.  It was another sister, just like me, seeking answers, but afraid to ask.  As I read her note tears streamed down my cheeks.  All I could think was, “I’m not alone, I’m not alone!”

She said she saw me post, and thought it was so brave of me as a woman to do so.  This made me realize that if there was one fly on the wall, there were more.  If there was one woman asking questions under a man’s name, there were more.

All of this was nearly a year ago now.  So very much has happened.  I am no longer a fly on the wall, others however, still are.  Good news- more are coming. 

A Light Unto My Path

Reading about all of the discrepancies in the message on the internet, caused me to contemplate what I believed.  I was raised in the message, so most of my beliefs were a result from acts of obedience and trust rather than true Biblical study.  I never had a reason to question whether it was correct or not.

I started with what I felt was the most basic of principals and worked my way through.

  1.  Why do we believe in an “Elijah Ministry?”
  2.  What is a prophet?
  3.  How do you know a prophet is a prophet?

By the time I arrived at my third question, I was completely shaken.  A flood of human emotions threatened to overtake me.  A line had been drawn between sides and I had to choose which way to cross.

Fear of “rejecting the word for my day” loomed over me taunting, “You’ll be lost, you’ll go to hell.  You are rejecting truth and will walk in spiritual blindness.  You just need more revelation.”

“For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.  According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”  – 1 Corinthians 3

When God gives an answer, it will line right up with the Word.  He writes His word in your heart and His answer will drive out all of your fear and the clouds of confusion will vanish.  God’s answer not only brings peace, but also the necessary boldness to walk in the light He gave.  

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

I would like to tell you I am the same person I once was, I just believe differently now.  But that isn’t true.  Old things have passed away, and I will never be the same again.

“The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

 My next few posts will follow the questions I asked.  I will share the scriptures that brought my peace and drove my fear and confusion away.  His word is Truth and in it is Life, that Life is Light, and the Light pushes the darkness away.  Peace, Courage, Hope, and Understanding be to you.

Psalm 119

Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!

Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!

You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.  Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!

Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me!

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.

With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.

I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

Female Created

“As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” 1 Corinthians 14:34

It would seem to most message believers that if you are a male you are automatically endowed with more spiritual understanding and knowledge of the word than a female.  

Women belong in the kitchen, they are to be silent in church, wash their husband’s clothing, cook his meals, and submit in all areas.  Message believers are taught that women are so low and beneath men, they are not even part of creation. 

Look, a woman is not even so low… She’s not even a creation in God. She’s a by-product. After God made the whole creation He took a piece off of a man and made a woman. She wasn’t even considered in the original creation. Correctly. She become a helpmate to man. And through there she’s supposed to live for that.

When a woman gets out of the kitchen she’s out of her place. Whether she’s preaching the Gospel or whatever she’s doing, she’s out of her place. Man was not made for woman, but woman was made for man. Man is not a by-product of a woman, but the woman is a by-product of the man. -WMB 560715

by-product
noun
1. a secondary or incidental product, as in a process of manufacture.
2. the result of another action, often unforeseen or unintended.

You’d never look at a woman going down the street and tell what’s in her heart. See? But I wanted to say these things so that you could see why that Satan is her designer. That’s exactly right, his own son proved it, Cain. Now, she is beautiful so she can deceive.  –WMB 650221

We’s all condemned through Eve through hybreeding. That’s exactly right. All of us come to that spot through Eve. Eve caused the whole human race to fall. Her and Adam are one. She… It started with the woman. It’ll end with a woman  -WMB 601113

He would blast and condemn every bobbed-haired woman. How could he do anything else? He’s a prophet. And that’s the Word. He’d say, “You, Jezebels!” He’d get rough with them. Why? He’s a prophet. He’d have to stay with the Word. That’s right. You think they would stop? No, sir. They’d say, “It’s a fanatic. He’s as bad as that old Paul was, in the Bible, woman-hater.”  -WMB 620513

“Brother Branham, why don’t you leave them women alone?” He said, “You know, people regard you as a prophet? Why don’t you teach them high spiritual things?” That man may be setting present. If it is, I want you to get this, brother. “Why don’t you teach them high spiritual things, where you climb, and let them climb there; instead of telling them about not cutting their hair, and the kind of dresses to wear?”
If you’re here, or hear the tape, brother. If I can’t get them out of kindergarten, how am I going to teach them algebra? They haven’t got the decency and morally–morality about them, to even let their hair grow out, and wear dress like ladies, how you going to teach them spiritual things? See? Now he… Don’t know the first, don’t know abc’s. And try to teach them something high, give them a college education, when they don’t know abc’s? Let learn abc’s first, and then we’ll–we’ll go on to that. -WMB 621210

These words have caused so much hurt, confusion, and oppression.  I do not feel these views can be supported by scripture.  They have done much damage and continue to do so.  God did see fit to create the woman.  He designed her, He gave her life, and He had a plan for her.  God loved his creation so much, that when they fell, He sent his only begotten Son into the world to redeem them.  The Gospel tells us that we are to go into all the world and preach the Good News unto every creature,  ALL of creation.  Woman was not only a part of this beautiful creation, she is also redeemed by the blood shed on Calvary.

She stands before Christ perfect and beautiful in His sight in her rightful place.  Paul told us, “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” -Genesis 1

The woman is not happenstance.  God the Creator, the author of life is her Creator.  Psalm 139 reads,

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

It was always emphasized that the woman’s head was the man.  Without further context, you have an incomplete understanding.

But there is one thing I want you to know: The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.  

But among the Lord’s people, women are not independent of men, and men are not independent of women. For although the first woman came from man, every other man was born from a woman, and everything comes from God.  – 1 Corinthians 11

Women are indeed under the headship of the man, however, remember in the beginning God said “it is not good for man to be alone, I will make him a helper suitable for him.”  She is his helper and his companion.  Proverbs 31 speaks so beautifully of the woman God created and called her to be,

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies.
Her husband can trust her,
and she will greatly enrich his life.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
She finds wool and flax
and busily spins it.
She is like a merchant’s ship,
bringing her food from afar.
She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.
She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
she is energetic and strong,
a hard worker.
She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
her lamp burns late into the night.
Her hands are busy spinning thread,
her fingers twisting fiber.
She extends a helping hand to the poor
and opens her arms to the needy.
She has no fear of winter for her household,
for everyone has warm clothes.
She makes her own bedspreads.
She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
Her husband is well known at the city gates,
where he sits with the other civic leaders.
She makes belted linen garments
and sashes to sell to the merchants.
She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.
When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness.
She carefully watches everything in her household
and suffers nothing from laziness.
Her children stand and bless her.
Her husband praises her:
“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
but you surpass them all!”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.
Reward her for all she has done.
Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

There are many examples in the Bible of God using women in various roles.  In the book of Acts when they entered in the upper room, there were both men and women praying together.  “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”  The men did not go up and leave the women behind, nor did the men pray while the women sat silent in a corner.  They were of one accord.  Mary Magdalene was the first to witness Christ’s Resurrection.  Mary had been possessed with 7 devils.  A regular “Jezebel” in her day.  Mary walked with Christ, she sat with him and ate with Him.  Mary, a woman!

Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.  And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.  – Mark 16:9

Example after example is given of women not only used of God, but favored of God.  Mary, mother of Jesus, favored of God.  Contrary to message teaching, Mary wasn’t an incubator, Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.  How beautiful.

And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!  – Luke 1

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”  -Luke 1

“Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.  -Matthew 1:20

Mary was blessed among women, and there are  many, many others that served the Lord their God and honored Him with their lives in various roles and offices.  Miriam danced with her tambourine, Deborah Judged, Phoebe was a deacon in the church, and Rahab the harlot saved her whole house.  I think one of my favorites is the courage of Jael.

Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing.  -Exodus 15:20

Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time.  -Judges 4:4

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a deacon in the church in Cenchrea.  -Romans 16:11

When Priscilla and Aquila heard him preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God even more accurately.  -Acts 18:26

But when Sisera fell asleep from exhaustion, Jael quietly crept up to him with a hammer and tent peg in her hand. Then she drove the tent peg through his temple and into the ground, and so he died.  -Judges 4:21

Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” – Esther 4

David replied to Abigail, “Praise the LORD, the God of Israel, who has sent you to meet me today! Thank God for your good sense!  – 1 Samuel 25

And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the LORD for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent.  -Joshua 6:17

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.  -Luke 2:36

Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity.  – Acts 9:36

She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”  -Mark 14:8

Be encouraged my sisters, you are loved and called of God. You are part of redemption and you are called unto Salvation.  Know Him, serve Him, and study His word.  God created you female, and through you the beauty of His creation does shine.  Consider Him in all your ways and praise Him through your works.  God made you beautiful and you are found in His word.  You are complete when you walk according to the calling He has chosen for you.  Inside of you is a part of Him and He will lead you and guide you in this calling.  Serve Him and know Him in Spirit and in Truth.

“A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies.”

 

Seeking & Finding

Have you ever heard it said, “For every Bible question, there is a Bible answer”?  The Bible is my Absolute.  Anything I believe I can trace right back to the scriptures.   This was not always true.

I was once asked, “Is the Bible your Absolute?”

When I was presented with the challenge of taking my beliefs back to the scripture, I was shocked to learn most of what I had been taught was extra-biblical.  I was raised under the teachings of William Branham, known as “the message of the hour”.   Over the past year I have spent countless hours praying and studying, searching for truth.

Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice, and a stranger they will not follow.”  Separating true Biblical teaching from “special revelations” is one of the hardest tasks I have ever faced.  The more I read and studied, the more I realized how heavily indoctrinated I was.  

I cannot tell you the fear that haunted me.  I was so frightened I would be found rejecting “THE truth for my day”, afraid of being blind and not having enough revelation.

I held on to my teachings tightly.  As I compared them to scripture, they began to slip through my fingers like grains of sand.  In the end I was holding tight to thin air.

I now realize the greatest revelation is Salvation.  There is nothing greater than the redemption of God’s people through the blood of Jesus Christ.

I feel like I am climbing a mountain.  I have slipped and fallen along the way.  I have grown tired and weary.  There were days I climbed in darkness, days when rocks blocked my path. I am still climbing.

I am told the view is spectacular.

I thought I was climbing alone.  The path has cleared and I can see others climbing too.  They have helped me and encouraged me along the way.  I have seen the top of my mountain, I know there are others already there beckoning me to keep going.

There are some mountains God will move.  This was not one of them.  This mountain was to be climbed.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”  -Matthew 7:7

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.”  -2 Timothy 2:15

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world”  – 1 John 4:1

“Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”  – Acts 17:11

“For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.”  – Luke 8:17

“Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth;”  -Psalm 86

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  – John 8:32

Do not be discouraged.  Do not be afraid to ask questions. God will honor your search for Truth.

I was once told there can be a little truth in a lie, but there can be no lie in the truth,  There can be a little light in the darkness, but there can be no darkness in light.

Jesus said,  “I am the TRUTH, the life and THE WAY.”