Compass Cover w:Title

“Compass” Lyrics:

Push against the wind

Running to the storm

Where you lead

I’ll go

Though my feet are worn

 

Dirt may fill my eyes

Fear might steal my breath

Let my faith arise

In the face of death

 

Spirit

I’ll follow

Take me where

You want to go

No fear

Will shake me

Even in the unknown

 

Your power

In me

Teach me how

To let it flow

Spirit

Of Jesus

Compass of my soul

 

(Show me where to go compass of my soul)

 

Thunder in the skies

Worry in my chest

Still my troubled heart

Help me feel your rest

 

As the flood surrounds

You will make a way

For me to walk ahead

Or stand in the rain

 

Spirit, I’ll follow

No fear will shake me

 

Your power

In me

Teach me how

To let it flow

Spirit

Of Jesus

Compass of my soul

Compass of my soul

 

(Tell me where to go compass of my soul)

(Show me where to go compass of my soul)

 

When the storm shall break

And reveal the night

In the dark, I’ll walk

And await your light

 

With my faith renewed

And my heart refined

I will seek the One

Who gave His life for mine

 

Spirit

I’ll follow

Take me where

You want to go

No fear

Will shake me

Even in the unknown

 

 

 

Copyright 2018 “Compass” by Rylan Rivers

 

I was roughly ten years old when I first met a witch. She wasn’t much of witch yet, could not do anything magical or fascinating, but she believed in magic very much. And not just the fun fairytale magic we get in Disney movies. No, this young friend was aspiring to be a witch, just like her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. I never witnessed anything special, but they had tarot cards that supposedly could tell the future and if they could just tap into their spirit, just worship the gods and goddesses enough, maybe they would obtain power.

They called themselves Wiccans.

At about ten, raised Christian, I was not very familiar with the idea that people existed that didn’t believe in Jesus. It felt evil to talk about their being other gods – and didn’t the bible say to avoid fortune tellers?

Yet, I was a very unpopular and shy child, extremely troubled by social anxiety. I knew what my friend was into was dangerous to my faith, but yet, I didn’t want to lose my bestfriend. Plus, I trusted her. Maybe Iwas wrong? So, I let my curiosity wander.

Luckily, this friend moved away and the decision was made for me that I would return to my faith and not chase after magic. I mostly let it go, though I continued to be amazed at the thought of – what if?

When I was 13, my family and I had just moved – in the middle of the school year – back to our hometown from Texas. I still was riddled with anxiety and let’s just say – people loved to pick on me. I was not popular. I had no idea how to handle my frizzed out curly hair. My wire glasses were always a bit crooked since I never stopped trying to adjust them myself. For some reason, in spite of my mother and sister’s keen sense of fashion and makeup expertise, I always found a way to wear the least flattering clothing I had and bright green eyeshadow (I thought it would make my brown eyes look hazel…).

So, in short, I was a nerd and the new kid.

I made a friend who helped me make a lot of friends. She was Christian – or said she was, at least. And while I wasn’t suddenly a popular kid, I at least had some really wonderful friends for once and felt like I belonged somewhere. I became very close to the one friend in particular. She became my new best friend for many years. I don’t want to go into tons of detail for her privacy, but I will say after that first year she had traded her Christian title for agnostic. She was very interested in paranormal things – ghosts, psychics, and supernatural abilities. I had never totally lost my interest in it, and so together we spawned a bit of an obsession. It got to the point where I was not just studying psychic powers and ghosts, but trying to obtainpsychic powers and talkto ghosts. I thought that, somehow, I was going to help the ghosts get to Heaven. I also thought that God had gifted me with an ability to “discern spirits” – which in my interpretation meant, see, hear, and talk to them.

It was here that my life began to flood with darkness. Again, I’ll spare most of the details, but I often wondered if I was losing my mind. I started seeing figures, reflections, and strange lights. I would hear voices and other peculiar noises, like melodies. I even felt like someone had laid their hand on my shoulder, head, or arms on several occasions. This was also the same time I began writing dark music about death, suicide, the end of the world, and other depressing subjects.

I was a mess!

I remember my dad calling me and talking to me when I would go visit him. He knew something was deeply wrong – the Holy Spirit had told him. He prayed for me many times, and almost every time the scary things would go away for awhile… then I’d start to miss them. Then it would come back, and usually worse.

Now eventually, I became scared enough and strong enough in my very contorted faith to choose to let all these things go. I decided I would avoid paranormal things and try my best to stay focused on God. I told my friend I couldn’t be around those things and that they were evil. I straight up called it all demonic and prayed God would protect me. My friend was good about it. She always was very good at respecting my desire to return to God, even if she didn’t believe in Him.

Well, I finally get a few years out of the deep depth, with only a few occasional slips back into my love of the paranormal. I mostly spend my time writing books that I’ll never publish and talking to that friend about her own writing projects as well as mine. Yet again, once I got to my senior year in high school, I ran into someone new.

While I had mostly upgraded out of complete nerd classification, I was now just one of those people that went mostly unnoticed. I had a couple of great friends and I finally knew a little bit more about how to dress nice and wear my makeup correctly. But something in me just longed to be noticed.

This new person I met was a gorgeous and brilliant aspiring film director. She somehow chose to befriend me of all people and with her at my side, I suddenly was bursting forth my creativity. I started to show people my music, art, writing, and was directing films in our Filmmaking course. Everything was going up! People recognized me. People actually would talk to me, and not just to get answers on the homework! And then this new friend began to slowly unravel her beliefs. Her abilities of “foresight” and a vast knowledge about the psychic and witchcraft subjects that had finally forsaken. For a short time, I fell under the spell of curiosity again. But by graduation, I had remembered how much evil it provoked and we both went separate ways.

But even after school, I became close to a girl at work. She was very invested in psychics and tarot cards. Unfortunately, I had just taken a nose-dive with my faith and didn’t even know what to believe anymore so I thought that maybe this was what I was supposed to be following the whole time. I let her do tarot readings. We went and paid a psychic over $100 a visit for her to tell me what my future held and what I was to do. The psychic told me her power came from God and I believed it. Then I watched as the tarot readings and psychic predictions began to prove themselvestrue.

That’s about when I got into using crystal pendants for guidance and trying to open up my chakras to balance my energies and unlock my psychic power. But the worst part of this mess, is that even though my Christian faith was rocky, I still believed in God Himself. So, I prayed to Him and asked Him to answer me using the crystals and tarot cards. I asked Him to help me balance my energies. But I distinctly remember one day when I started feeling some conviction and I asked Him if it was okay to use these methods to communicate with Him – after all, the things seemed to work until I asked Him to respond.

Lo and behold, the Lord said NO!

Praise God, I began to filter those practices out of my life. Meanwhile, my friends got deeper into it until they were proclaiming themselves witches, praying to Wiccan gods and goddesses, and mocking my faith in God (though stating they supported me).

I wish I could say I cut off from everything and fully turned back to God right then, but it still took me a few years to stop desiring their ways. God actually had me separate from those friends completely in order to protect me, because I struggled too much to keep my faith. I’m grateful and still sad for the loss of all these friends, especially the later ones. I think about them every day. I have dreams about them and pray for them. But I know that God has drawn boundary lines for me, and thanks to those, I now can see that all that I got into before was evil, offensive to God, and made me a child of the devil.

I’m sharing this story, though I feel much shame over these things, because it is through all of this mayhem, God revealed to me my purpose and calling. He shared with me recently that I experienced all of those odd (and sometimes frightening) situations so that He could use me as a voice in spiritual warfare. God took my greatest mistakes and sins, and is now using them to draw me closer to Him and to use me to help others see the truth in those areas of darkness. I am embarrassed to say I essentially practiced witchcraft (while calling myself a Christian) but I am so honored and humbled that God would use me in spite of it, and use those experiences.

There is no sin in our past that God can’t still turn around for good. Nothing goes to waste, nothing is an accident. Our perfect God knows what He is doing by letting us stumble and get lost. And I cannot express how beautiful it is or how much purpose is instilled when you ask God to show you why He let you do the things you are most ashamed of, and He answers.

I also shared this story to raise awareness of a growing belief system. The New Age and Wiccan cultures have been increasing over the years. The belief systems focus on self-empowerment and self-reliance which I know are not all bad. There is also a very heavy emphasis on looking into the future, which God warns us against. The issue is that the power they try to obtain is real in a way. The future they see is often relatively accurate. But the power comes from the Enemy and while it might make you feel better about yourself, more independent even, it also corrupts you the longer you chase after it. Though I was more confident than I had ever been, I became a very selfish and angry person. I did a lot of things that I regret now!  Seeing the future is also dangerous because it changes the way we act and can actually cause great damage when you try to obtain those things early or avoid them.

But there is good power. There is a good Spirit we can communicate with. There is a good God we can worship and rely on. When we follow Him, we are filled with Hispower and His wisdom. God can do far more incredible things within us and through us than we could ever do through the Enemy’s means (witchcraft, sorcery, etc). And His power in us makes us better. When God is our source of strength, energy, understanding, wisdom, and power He enables us to produce good fruits that will help us and other people. There is nothing more incredible than being used by God! So, if for any reason, you find yourself in the shoes I once was in, remember that you can tread into the darkness and use the power of evil, or you can walk in the light and be filled with the power of the Creator of the universe – who spoke the world into being, who breathed in you life, who conquered death, and sustains everything you see, hear, touch, feel, taste, and beyond. His power is greater than the Enemy’s. His power is cleansing, pure, and holy. His power is founded in love and breeds love. If you aren’t convinced, ask Him to open your spiritual eyes. Ask Him to let you see His supernatural side. You will be amazed and all the “power” that this world and below has to offer will look like a speck of dirt in the grandness of His magnificence!

In this new series, I am going to tackle some of the toughest subjects I have encountered – subjects that have shattered people’s faith. I’m started with a major faith killer in today’s society, which is the Bible’s take on the role of women. I’ve watched my female friends bow out of Christianity because they believe the Bible makes women out to be weak, helpless, and inferior to men. They thought the Bible oppressed women and glorified men.

So, let’s clear things up! What does the Bible really say about women and how does that apply to us today?

First of all, Genesis 1:27 tells us that both men and women are created in God’s image. This means that God views us as equals. He didn’t create Adam like Himself and then make something up for Eve. Both are made to be like God in character. It is very important to remember that when the Bible is dishing out the roles of man vs. woman, there is no difference in value or importance. God designed each gender for the roles defined.

Genesis 2:18 says, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him,’” and in verse 22-23, “and the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of man.”

God made Adam, but realized that he shouldn’t be alone. God had given him authority over the Earth and animals, but without a companion, without someone he could share it with – it wasn’t enough. He then begins creating all different animals and creatures as Adam’s “helpers” but no one is “fit for him.” This means that nothing else is going to cut it until God creates Eve. When God crafts Eve, he literally takes part of Adam away in order to make her – this makes them one flesh. In other words, God specifically designed Eve for Adam and Adam for Eve. They complement each other. It does not imply that women are less than or even reliant on men. It is also important to note that the Bible is specifically showing a husband-wife relationship here, not just a man-woman relationship.

Things start getting more confusing in Genesis 3. Here Eve has given in to the temptation. She ate the fruit and now God is revealing the consequences: she must suffer childbearing pains (as the “mother of all living,” originally a blessed title), she will be ruled over by her husband, and now Adam is going to suffer and toil all the days of his life for joining her in eating the fruit. The key thing I want to focus on is in Gen. 3:16 when it says, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

Assuming Eve is representing all women to follow, this would suggest that wives will be ruled by their husbands. As a woman, that’s a bit frustrating to hear. Why should all women have to pay for what Eve did? I thought God was just?

I’m just going to let that sit for a moment. In fact, I’m probably going to make you feel worse.

1 Timothy 2 has a lot to say about women’s roles after The Fall. Paul first stresses that women should be modest in how they dress – that seems reasonable. Tempting others to sin is sin (even unintentionally), even if they don’t follow through with the sin, they’ve thought it, and just thinking it is also a sin! Obviously, if we want to be clear of sin, choosing to dress respectfully to ourselves with the body God made for us is a good place to start.

But then, it goes on in verses 12-14, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”

NOOO! If you read this out of context, it sounds like God’s decided no woman can ever have authority in any situation. She must be quiet and cannot teach anyone anything. Furthermore, man came first so man is superior and a woman messed up, so it’s all her fault the world is fallen.

Yikes. This is how I would have taken it in the past. Context is so important to understanding the true meaning of passages in the Bible. What is happening in 1 Timothy is that Apostle Paul is writing to the church of Ephesus, telling them how the church is supposed to be, in accordance to what God has revealed to him. When it says, “I do not permit,” that is Paul speaking in his authority as the one God called to raise the churches after Christ. When it says women cannot teach or exercise authority over a man, he is referring to women serving as Elders in a church. The Bible is very clear that men should be the leaders/overseers/elders of a church. Women are allowed to teach children and other women, but should be “quiet” as in not leading over a congregation.

I want to pause and point out that many theologians debate that the only reason things were laid out this way for the church in Ephesus and several other churches, is that in that culture, women were generally not educated. Most women, based on the laws (which we are told to follow the laws of our lands), could not even read. This means that those women could not study the Bible on their own and had to learn from their husbands, who were educated. It is a widely accepted theory that in today’s world, this means women with education and an ability to read the Bible and learn from it themselves are now fully “allowed” to teach and lead congregations (hence Joyce Meyer). Additionally, in Acts 18:24-26, two women are shown pulling aside a well-educated elder and teaching him the way of God. Obviously, this is not over the congregation, but it shows that women are allowed to teach and guide men.

Back to the verses, when Paul mentions Adam and Eve, he is showing us that the roles of men and women were part of God’s design and not necessarily just a result of the original sin. God intended for men to lead and women to support. This created a balanced relationship. If both tried to lead, there would be conflict. If both only supported, there would be no direction. Again, remember this is meant for married couples. Marriage was designed to symbolize the relationship between Christ (the groom) and the Church/Us (the bride).

This is best described in Ephesians 5:22-24:

“Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

Here Paul is saying wives submit to their husband just like they submit to Christ. Still sounds a bit frustrating, but submission does not make us slaves to our husbands. God wants wives to listen to their husbands, respect them, run ideas past them, be agreeable, and trust them. Obviously, this doesn’t mean husbands should get to walk all over their wives and treat them like slaves and property. It doesn’t mean get in the kitchen and make dinner because he said so. It means God’s dream – if you will – is that wives will be eager to help, support, and please their husband. Also, notice it doesn’t say, “Women submit to men, as to the Lord.” It’s only to her own husband. He is illustrating the best way for a woman to be a godly wife – the way that will lead to the most happiness! Remember, God has our good in mind!

Ready for the flipside?

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself… Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:25-31, ESV)

The husband is supposed to put his wife before himself – to be willing to die for her, give up all that he has for her. This means that if he’s striving to be like Christ, he’s going to be leading in a way that is not best for himself, but best for his wife. The husband is supposed to be self-sacrificial. In God’s perfect dream for marriage, the wife is helping the husband and the husband is leading them toward her best interest. They take care of each other. Neither is more important. They are devoting themselves to each other’s happiness and fulfillment.

Let’s take on another difficult verse!

 1 Peter 3:7 says, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

I like how when I first read this, I was all about it until I got to “weaker vessel,” then that was the only thing I originally took out of it. It’s easy to read that and think, “oh so now women are weak?!” There’s a couple ways to take it. Personally, I take it as cultural status. Women were viewed as lesser than men in that culture, so husbands were supposed to treat them as equal heirs because in God’s eyes, that’s what they are. Notice also, it says that the husbands’ prayers can be hindered by how he treats his wife! So, if a man is abusing his authority, mistreating her, hurting her, God’s going to look down and stamp a big fat “NO” on his prayers because he is disobeying His command. This can even be taken as a warning against physical abuse, since yes, generally speaking, most men are physically stronger than women and have a greater potential of hurting their wives. (Of course, it can go the other way too, and I’m sure God won’t answer the prayers of an abusive wife either.)

Most of the “trouble” verses are about wives and husbands, some of it applies to churches, but none of it applies to the workplace, school, or any other situation. Women are not inferior to men according to the Bible. In fact, if I had more time, I’d write all the examples of how much God loves his daughters and how big of an impact they have had! The bottom line is that God has a vision for the dynamic between a man and woman, but because it is so easy to misunderstand what is really being said, take things out of context, and misuse the Word, it was perceived and taught in the light of women being lesser than men.

As a final note, here’s some “Verses to Remember” about the type of women God actually hopes his daughters will be!

Proverbs 31:

  • V. 17: “She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.”
  • V. 20: “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches her hands to the needy.”
  • V. 25: “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the times to come.”
  • V. 26: “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”
  • V. 30-31: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”

As I wrote in my last post, losing my faith destroyed me on the inside. Regaining it, brought an incredible healing and ripped me from depression and a destructive path.

But what changed? What happened to shift my perspective and raise me from my ashes?

It started many years before. My dad, a fairly new pastor, mailed me a book called The Reason by Lacey Sturm, a Christian rock singer. At this time of my life, I was not close to my dad. I didn’t understand him. I didn’t like the decisions he made. I thought he had gone off the deep end with his religion and I just was not willing to go with him. So, I thanked him for the book, promised to read it, and tucked it away.
Well, if you read the last post, you know there came a point when I just couldn’t take my depression and anxiety anymore. I was miserable and probably miserable to be around. I did what every one does when they reach such a breaking point – I called my mom. She stayed on the phone with me for hours, listening to me cry and try to explain the depths of my pain and worry. She comforted me and related to me and gave me some really great advice about how to cope and heal. The best thing she told me was a subtle reminder that God was with me.

After I hung up, I felt this incredible need to pick up that book my dad sent me. I felt something stirring inside me as I read it. I could practically hear Lacey sitting there telling it to me with this light in her eyes as she talked about her very similar struggles to mine. At some point, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I set the book aside and started praying. And God was with me. I felt him there, guiding the words as they fell out of my mouth. I felt the tension of regret, anger, and hurt leaving my body. I just gave myself to God. Trusting him with all. It was incredible and I wept tears of gratitude and joy for the first time in a very long time.

But then, I woke up the next day feeling incredible conviction about my relationship. My boyfriend in many ways had replaced God in my life. It wasn’t anything he’d done on purpose or that I consciously done, but I had placed him high above everything in life, even God. That morning God reminded me of something I had realized long before but it never sunk in.

When I was a child, my dad had also urged me to start praying for whoever I would be with someday – that God would prepare us for one another and bring us together at the right time. Of course, being a little punk, I told him I wouldn’t be with anyone ever so why would I do that. But, actually, I prayed this most everyday of my life. Ironically, the same time I started praying was the same time my boyfriend had picked up his guitar and started learning to play. Then years of mirroring situations go by and here I am with this man. Music had brought us together and was the thing we believed we were called to do together. And, our lives had so well prepared us for each other that we can understand one another in ways a lot of others can’t.

So God reminds me of this. He reminds me that he made us for one another, prepared us through our lives, and that when the time came to be together it was a promise to me fulfilled by him and I had taken this beautiful blessing and used it to replace God.

This hurt. Faith is not a walk under the stars. There’s a lot of pain in growing and becoming someone better, and when God gets involved, he definiately pushes you to become more that you even meant to be.

I prayed for forgiveness and asked God to take control of my relationship. This honestly was the most terrifying prayer I’d ever prayed. I basically said to God, “You are in control and I am letting go, even if I lose this man so I can be closer to you.” The struggle really came when I told my boyfriend this. I was crying so much I could barely speak. I thought for sure if I told him that we had trampled on God’s blessing and were living in sin by living together and placing each other above God that he’d leave me. I knew his love was strong, but I didn’t expect him to stick around while I chased after something as “uncool” as a relationship with God.

Long story short, that’s not what happened. My boyfriend instead became my husband within the month. We started doing bible studies together, then found a church where the sermons actually directly tied into the Bible studies we had done (the Holy Spirit is so intricate and dedicated to each of us!). We pray together and have given our whole lives to God.

So this is how I know God is real. He healed me from my soul; something medications and counseling could never do. He prepared my husband and I for each other and for our destiny together since we were children. He used my dad to give me that book years before I needed it and used my mom to pull me back into His presence. He spared my relationship and turned it into something so much more beautiful than before. I hear his Holy Spirit guiding me, prompting and teaching me. I have strength when I don’t have strength. I have peace when I don’t have peace.

The more you give to God, the more blessing he pours over you. If God wasn’t real, the more you give away, the less you would have. But he provides. He is more than enough. And he is real.

 

I have faith

 

Faith that the ground

Underneath my feet

Will hold me

 

Faith that the sky

Will darken at night

And light at dawn

 

Faith that the sea

Will always give us

Clouds for rain

 

And faith that you

Will stand with me

When I no longer

Have reason

To believe

 

In faith

A change in directions

A shift in the sea

What does it matter

 If it led you to me?

 

You wanted stable ground,

I offered you the Earth

But instead you sailed around

And forgot all that your worth

 

You slipped and you fell

You slid across the deck

You cried out until

You became the shipwreck

 

But hear me when I’m calling

Can’t you hear the gentle wind?

My strength can catch your falling

I am anchoring you in

 

With cast iron arms,

I will hold you down

Protect you from all harms

And never let you drown

 

Stop running to the sides

Checking if I’m there

Can’t you see the tides?

And taste them in the air?

 

They want to swallow you whole

Make you wonder where I went

But trust me and you’ll know

With you is where my time is spent

 

I will not forsake you

I’m anchoring you in

For that is who I am

And who I’ve always been

 

Just let me hold you still

And remember who I am

Just have faith in my will

And I will help you stand

 

You do not have to waver

You do not have to slip

You are in my favor

I have you in my grip

 

With cast iron arms,

I will hold you down

Protect you from all harms

And never let you drown

 

I will not forsake you

I’m anchoring you in

For that is who I am

And who I’ve always been