The Mind and Marriage

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Col. 3:1-3

My first two years of college were spent at a small Christian school in Georgia. I have a vivid memory of driving across town and having a discussion with at least two others about Christians and divorce. I don’t remember who said this, but it has always stuck with me. He said, “My mom once told me that when she gets angry with my dad she focuses on what she loves about him, even if – at that moment – the only thing she loves about him is the way he ties his shoes.” This woman, had spent her marriage training her mind to love her husband.

I wish I could that this anecdote stuck with me in such a way that I have spent the last 14 years training my mind to love my husband, but that isn’t the case. Instead, when I am angry I tear him down in my mind and list everything that frustrates me. I can tell you from experience, nothing good comes from this practice.

Another thing that gets in the way of training my mind to love my husband are my emotions. People often talk about how women are much more emotional than men and how they are led by their emotions rather than their minds. When I hear these things I’m slightly offended. I like to think of myself as an intellectual. And in some areas of life, I am. However, I also know that I am very emotional and sometimes irrational. There are have been times where I have accused Aaron, “You don’t love me.” And he would respond, “That’s a lie.” Or I might say, “I don’t feel like you love me.” And he might respond, “Well, your feelings are wrong.” I’m sure you can imagine how frustrated his responses have made me. However, his responses were true. My feelings and my thoughts were wrong and they needed to be reigned in by my mind.

God gave us our minds to learn about Him and to worship Him. Before we get to Colossians 3, Paul tells the Colossians that he prays for them asking that they be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding (1:9) and that they will increase in their knowledge of God (1:10). He points out that before they were reconciled to Christ, they were hostile in mind (1:21). Paul explains that he became a minister so the word of God would be fully known (1:25). Paul’s desire is that they would reach a full understanding and knowledge of Christ in whom are hidden all the treasure of wisdom and knowledge (2:2-3). He warns them NOT to be deluded with plausible arguments (2:4) nor be taken captive by philosophy and empty deceit according to human tradition and the world (2:8). He warns that anyone trying to disqualify them in regards to the ceremonial law is puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind (2:18) And finally that while regulations (read legalism) may have the appearance of wisdom they, in fact, have no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh (2:23).

It is with this backdrop that we come to chapter three verses one and two. “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” This word “seek” is an action word. Instead you could say, “keep seeking”  “continually seek” or “don’t stop seeking” the things that are above. And then verse two tells us to set our minds on the things above.

We should be fixated on, oriented towards the things above. I was thinking about this idea of setting my mind or fixing my mind to something in terms of driving. When I’m driving down the road, where should my attention be? On. The. Road. If I turn around and start rummaging for something in the back seat or type an text on my phone while driving what’s going to happen? Nothing good! But when I drive I keep my eyes on the road. I may glance at the person in the passenger seat, turn on the radio, or look in the rear view mirror but my attention is being continually refocused on the road. At the same time, just because I’m driving doesn’t mean I can’t do anything else. I could listen to music. But the fact that I’m driving and focused on the road might change what type of music I listen to. I might not choose a slow, soft, melodic song that soothes me to sleep. Just like remaining focused on the road affects my behavior and choices while I’m driving so should setting my mind on the things above. And just like I continually refocus my attention to the road, I need to be continually refocusing my mind on the things above.

So, then the question becomes what are the things above? I believe verse 1 answers that question, “seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” Our Lord and Savior is above seated at the right hand of God the Father. So, how do we focus on the things above? For that let’s skip down to verse 16 which says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

So, how do we set our minds on the things above? There were four ways listed in verse 16. The first is to let the word of God dwell in us. How do we do that? We read it. We memorize it. We study it. We listen to it. Doing those things will lead to us meditating on it.

Have you ever watched a tv show or read a news article and found yourself thinking about it the next day? In a sense you’re meditating on the show or article, you’re reflecting on it, thinking about it, processing it. I find that the more I am in the word or reading good books and articles or listening to talks/podcasts/sermons the more my mind thinks on godly things. I recall what I read or heard and process it again. I talk about it. I share it.

The second way to set your mind on the things above is to teach and admonish one another in all wisdom. When you teach someone, you first have to learn something and learn it even more deeply and thoroughly. One definition of admonish is to advise or urge someone earnestly. (Kind of like I’m doing right now, about setting your minds on the things above.) Regardless of whether you are teaching or advising, it forces your mind to think and learn about what you are going to talk about! And lest we do so in our own folly, the verse says to teach and admonish in all wisdom. Where can wisdom be found? In the Bible. Again, focusing on the Bible so you can teach or admonish others, helps you to set your mind on the things above.

The third way to seek the things above is by singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. If I said “shake it off” I venture to guess that the majority, if not all, of you heard Taylor Swift in your mind, and if you’re like me you started dancing a little. Music sticks in our minds and hearts. Songs get stuck in our heads. What’s better to be stuck in your head, “Shake it Off” Or “Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe.”? While I am currently in a stage of life where I value and prefer silence, I have to admit that music simply lifts my spirits! I have a Spotify playlist of my favorite worship songs that I’ve picked up throughout the years and occasionally I’ll turn it on while I clean. And every time I do I think to myself, “Why don’t I turn on music more often.” It soothes my soul. It reminds me of the promises of God and the great things Christ has done for my life! I worship God for how great he is and the way he has turned a wretch like me into a righteous saint. Music is a gift God!

Finally, we set our minds on the things above with thankfulness in our hearts to God. Complaining and thankfulness are mutually exclusive. They are opposites. You can’t complain and be thankful at the same time. Aaron is one of the most thankful people I know. For example, I start to complain about having to take the van into get an oil change and he’ll immediately correct my attitude. “Stacie! Why are you complaining about this? Be thankful that you have a van that needs an oil change and money to get it done. That van has kept us safe and driven us across the country and back. We have amazing memories in that van. Be thankful that God has blessed us with such an amazing vehicle!” Again, while in the moment this can annoy me (I just want to complain about my routine being interrupted by an oil change.) he is right in pointing out to me the ways God has blessed us. He is helping me to train my mind and heart to be thankful.

Now, you may be thinking what does any of this have to do with marriage?! I’m going to jump backwards now to verse 12. I believe that setting our minds on the things above will consequently help us to put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience as Paul is urging us to do. It will help us to bear with one another and forgive each other. It will help us to put on love so that we may be bound together in perfect harmony.

Remember this was written for the church. When we see the one another’s in scriptures (and there’s a lot of them) it is especially speaking of our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Well, who is your closest brother? Your husband! We are to have unity in the church, yes, but even more so as husband and wife! We are not two people but we are one flesh.

So, imagine your marriage, if both of you had your minds focused on Christ and so your lives reflected compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness and love, then do you think it would be difficult for you to submit to him, as we are commanded in verse 18? Or would your husband would have hard time loving you and being gentle toward you as he is commanded in verse 19? I humbly submit to you that it would not be. The more my husband grows in Christ the better he treats me and the easier it is to submit to him. The more I grow the easier it is for him to be sweet to me and love me.

Now, I know there may be husbands that are not setting their minds on Christ, but let me encourage you to do so all the more. 1 Peter 3 encourages us by saying that husbands can won without a word by the conduct of their wives. So win your husband by setting your mind on Christ and allowing the spirit to sanctify you.

If we set our minds on the things of Christ, it will be easy to train our minds to love our husbands. It will be easy to forgive them, it will be easy to admit our own wrongdoing.  So the next time you and your husband get into an argument, train your mind to love your husband. Stop tearing him down and begin to thank God for him and list everything you love about him and I bet the marriage will be the better for it.

 

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Published in: on October 29, 2017 at 5:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Unconditional Love

While the Bible never mentions the word “trinity” the concept is in there and with it we learn about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They each share attributes, but also have different roles. We are taught about God the Father’s love for us in that He loved us so much, that he sent God the Son to be the once and for all sacrifice that was needed to cleanse each of us from our sins. If we trust in Jesus as our savior, we are no longer held liable for our debts (sins) and are now seen as righteous (sinless). The Father loves us. He loves me.

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The Bible draws analogies for God the Father and our earthly fathers. In Matthew 7 Jesus reminds us that we as parents (fathers) know how to give bread instead of rocks to our children, and asks how much more would a holy, perfect Father in heaven know how to give good things. And so our relationship with our earthly father becomes an analogy for our relationship with our Heavenly Father. If we feel loved by our earthly father than we should have some type of understanding of the love our Heavenly Father has for us.

That might be easy for those of us with good earthly fathers. Unfortunately, we live in a broken world. A world where kids don’t have fathers or they have abusive/neglectful fathers and so this analogy can be difficult for some people.

However, there are three people who have taught me more about God’s unconditional love for me than my earthly father has (and I’ve got an amazing earthly father). Those three people are my children.

Children love their parents unconditionally. I can really mess up. I sometimes get really angry at my kids and yell at them and say things that may be true, but in an unkind way. I’m being sanctified in this area. However, when I do mess up, I ask my kids for forgiveness and they instantly forgive me, and not only is their forgiveness immediate, our relationship is instantly repaired. They truly have forgiven and forgotten. They don’t keep a record of wrongs. And I’m not alone in this. Even children of abusive and neglectful parents love their parents!

Now, I understand that these children will continue to grow up and at some point in time it becomes harder to forgive quickly and forget easily but for now they do. And right now they are teaching me about my Heavenly Father’s unconditional love.

My children don’t care if I’m slightly overweight, out of style, and wear no makeup, they love me and think I’m beautiful. They are happy when I’m happy and show compassion and comfort me when I’m sad. They love spending time with me and would love for me to give them even more attention than I do. But even when we just don’t get a whole lot of time together, they still love me. And like I said earlier they are so quick to forgive me, even when I have a hard time forgiving myself.

All of those qualities are true of my Heavenly Father. He doesn’t care about my size, my fashion sense, or how much makeup I wear. He loves me and thinks I’m beautiful. He wants me to have an ultimate happiness and has compassion and comforts me when I’m hurting. He loves spending time with me and wants to spend even more time with me. And he’s so quick – so quick – to forgive and to see Christ in me.

So if you’re having a hard time feeling God’s love, think about your young children. Think about how they love you. How their eyes light up when they see you and how they long to spend time with you! Even if you don’t have a tangible “feeling” of God’s love, know that He does.

 

Published in: on December 23, 2015 at 10:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

A New Kind of Legalism

What do you think of when you think of legalism? I think of self-righteous people who look down on others for *gasp* drinking beer, or dancing, or playing cards, or… I think of people who look down on a woman who has a sexual past because they can’t seem to understand that the broken woman is a new creation in Christ. To me, these issues seem to be a thing of the past. I don’t live in the Bible belt, so I assume this problem still exists. However, I am surrounded by amazing believers who understand the grace of the Bible. We’re all gross and disgusting sinners. How dare I look down on a sister for her sexual past when bitterness has stripped joy from my life in years past?

However, it seems like there’s a new wave of legalism out there. It’s not about looking down on people for the bad things or sins that they are/were caught up in, but rather it’s about judging others because they’re not DOING something. (And that something is specifically tied to whatever the person is passionate about.) Don’t get me wrong, as Christians we SHOULD be loving others. However, there’s a movement of restless people who think, “If you’re not adopting/working to end human trafficking/feeding the hungry in third world countries/etc. then there’s something lacking in your Christian faith.” or “Look at me, look at what I am doing/did for the gospel, what are you doing?” It’s a haughty, self-righteous attitude.

There are a handful of new books floating around that have changed people’s lives and have spurred them to do amazing things for the gospel. But these same books are fostering this attitude of self-righteousness. They spurn middle-class life and basically say there are no excuses for not doing what they promote as a worthy cause. This is a new burden placed on believers.

Here’s the thing though. Outsiders don’t necessarily know what’s going on within the family. What about…

  • the family who is strategically sharing the gospel with their middle class neighbors
  • the family that provides bread and milk for the less fortunate down the street
  • the family that gives up autonomous life and works to support and live with a disabled family member
  • the family that fosters children
  • the wife who’s desire is to serve others more, but needs to submit to her unbelieving, or less mature husband
  • the family that sacrifices family time for misc ministry purposes
  • the family that still lives well but donates 1/2 their income
  • the woman who cleans the church weekly
  • the man who is faithful to stack chairs, etc.

The point is, is that sometimes the Christian life does not call people to travel to a foreign country, adopt a child, or even evangelize on the street. Sometimes the Christian life calls people to labor where they are, for the people already in their circle of acquaintance. They are called to do the invisible jobs. The Bible calls us to live in such a way where the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. So, if you are a disciple of Christ who has been called to something public (like adoption, I mean, it’s really hard to keep that secret) that’s AWESOME! But don’t become self-righteous and look down on others who don’t have a heart for [enter your passion here]. Assume the best of your brothers and sisters in Christ. God has (or will) more than likely burdened their hearts with something, but you may never hear about it. It may be something that is only between them and God and you will never know of the sacrifice they have given.

Let’s get rid of the old legalism and let’s get rid of the new legalism. Let’s get rid of this, “What are YOU doing?” mentality and remember that the Christian life is often about doing, in that by doing we’re loving others, but it’s also about being; simply resting in who Christ is and what He has done. I don’t HAVE to DO because of what He has DONE. And the only reason we DO (read love) is because I am FIRST loved. Don’t be impatient with those who are behind you on this amazing road of Christ. Meet them where THEY are but keep in mind, they might be ahead of you because of the secret sacrifices they’ve made that you’ll never know about.

Published in: on March 31, 2015 at 9:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Culture That Hates People

From Pinterest

Recently I’ve found the humor boards on Pinterest. It’s an easy way at the end of the day to kill a little time when you don’t have a book to read. However, it’s also a huge commentary on society.

It’s become apparent to me how people, in our culture, think other people are stupid, or need to be punched in the face, or how they don’t want to be around people, how much they hate people, or share pictures of people simply to make fun of them.

Now, I’m an introvert. I understand wanting to hide in my home or enjoying the comfort of my bedroom rather going out and meeting new people. However, I don’t hate people. I might hate crowds or traffic. I might get irritated at the person who cut me off or is driving recklessly, but I don’t hate people. In fact, it’s sinful to hate people. It’s sinful to assume stupidity when you simply disagree (this gets especially bad during election season.) It’s sinful to degrade others for the purpose of making yourself feel better.

I don’t know the percentage of Pinterest-ers that would consider themselves Christ-followers, but as Christians we need to be aware of falling into this worldly trap of thinking poorly of others. God created humans after His own image. ALL people Christians and non-Christians alike are worth something to Him. As His ambassadors we should treat other humans with love, patience, grace, and dignity. We WILL get frustrated with each other. We WILL have days where customers, co-workers, family, friends, and strangers drive us crazy, however, our life mantra  should NEVER be one of “I hate people.” – no matter how “cool” it is.

Published in: on August 31, 2013 at 4:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sin is like…

Sin is like being born in house arrest. You have freedom. You can eat your choice of any ten different, delicious dinners. You have ten different solid gray-scale shirts to choose from each morning. You can go outside to swing or toss a ball around. You can see the sun and the sky each day.  This is not prison. You do not feel stifled at all. You have always felt free and safe. You know there’s an outside world, but it’s a frightening, unknown place. You’re convinced it has nothing to offer you and have been told that there are rules you must live by, which seems incredibly oppressive. You can’t imagine why anyone would chose to live under rules when you had complete freedom in your home.

Then one day your ball bounces over your fence and you walk down the street a little way to retrieve it. In your neighbor’s yard you notice a slide and you begin to become curious about it. But your ankle monitor doesn’t allow you to travel any farther. All of a sudden the next day, you’re a little put out by having to stay in your yard. You want to experience the slide. You begin to notice that you don’t have every freedom that you would like to have. The next day you decide to make a run for it. You run to your neighbor’s yard and slide down the slide. Of course the monitor goes off and a guard is at your side within minutes dragging you back to your house.

You’ve now tasted a bit of freedom and begin to wonder what life is really like outside of your house. However, you’re beaten down and feel alone and scared. Not being content with your home any longer you begin to seek help and plead to be released from house arrest. Finally, you are granted mercy. You may have complete freedom to roam about the world, but your ankle monitor will remain on your leg. That’s ok with you, it hardly weighs you down.

You leave your house and walk past your neighbor’s house. You leave your street behind and finally your neighborhood. You are exploring the wonderful freedom that has been lost on you before. You realize that there are millions of different, delicious food options. You see people dressed in clothing of all different colors and styles. As you continue to travel you experience the snow in the mountains and the beaches in the tropics. Eventually, encounter the rules you were told of. However, even the rules seem to be in place as a protection for the people. For example: Rule #3 “Don’t jump in front of a moving train.” “Really,” you think, “that leads to death, why would I want to do that anyway?”

Along the way someone trips you, but you get up again. However, it begins to happen more often. You get tripped and brought down and you begin to think of the beautiful safety and freedom of your house. It was such a beautiful little cottage, with flower boxes in the window, luxurious green grass, and the most comfortable of beds. The comfort that it always gave you. Without even realizing what you’re doing your feet lead you automatically toward home. It’s been an easy trip with no one tripping you along the way. Ah yes. Life is just so easy at home.

As you walk up you begin to notice things you never noticed before. There are bars on the windows and several large, heavy locks on the door. The grass is brown and ugly. The ball barely bounces. The food you once found delicious is disgusting and leaves a stench throughout the house. The clothes in your closet are drab. The bed is hard and lumpy. You decide this wasn’t what you remembered or want out of life, but it’s too late. The home automation system has already locked you in for the night. Feeling helpless and hopeless you decide to sleep.

Waking up with the house bathed in morning light, it no longer seems so bad and you’ve once again become accustomed to the stench and taste of the food. “It’s not so bad here,” you decide. You easily slip into your old habits and routines. Then one day, as you’re sitting out on your swing you feel the breeze and it snaps you out of your daze. You remember the humid, salty, coconut scented breeze of the beach and you suddenly can’t remember why you’ve come back and certainly not why you’ve stayed so long.

You set out to leave, but it’s hard to do so again. You’re ankle monitor, which has never bothered you before, suddenly feels like it weighs 100 lbs but you drag your leg out the door. It’s a battle moving down the street.  The further you get from home the heavier the ankle monitor feels and weighs you down. The harder it gets to move. You give up and head for home. Again you find contentment in your old habits and routines.

After a while you begin day-dreaming day in and day out of the freedom you once knew. You decide to leave again. Once again the ankle monitor weighs you down, but you’re more prepared and more determined. It slows your journey until one day you realize it feels weightless again. You begin to revel once again in your true freedom. The more time you spend away from your  house the more and more realize that your house was the true prison and now you were experiencing true freedom. That even the rules that were put in place for your own protection and allowed for far more freedom than the oppression of the barred windows, drab wardrobe and tasteless, smelly slop you ate for food.

Even with this knowledge, your house still haunts your heart and yells out to you calling you home. You even decide to go home again. But standing across the street, you once again are shocked by prison-style house that stands in front of you. You break into a run to put as much space as you can between you and it. Every so often it creeps into your thoughts. But this time you have truth on your side. When you picture your house in your mind instead of seeing flower boxes you remember the bars. Instead of believing your bed is the most comfortable of feather mattresses you remember the hard lumps. Armed with the truth of your past imprisonment you began to become adept at pushing thoughts of your house away.

The thoughts and longings come less and less often the longer you’re from home. And one day you wake up and realize it holds no draw to you. You wouldn’t go back there even if someone paid you a million dollars. You swing your feet around the bed and place them on the floor and you’re astonished to find that your ankle monitor is not snapped. The lock has somehow come undone. Without hesitation you take the last piece of your life linking you to your past prison, drive down to the beach and chuck it into the vast ocean before you. You are free. Truly, completely, and totally free. As you sit down on the beach drawing your knees to your chest, you think back on your life and are astonished that you once thought your prison was freedom and that true freedom was a prison.

Published in: on July 19, 2011 at 11:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sin, Life, and Fellow Christians

I believe in Lordship salvation. Which means that when one becomes a Christian we WILL see a change in the person’s life. There WILL be noticeable fruit. Living in Utah, one of the biggest criticisms from Mormons is that, “Protestants (for lack of a better term) think they can say they’re a Christian and turn around and murder someone and everything’s ok.”

It’s a part of the whole works vs. faith discussion.

And whenever we hear that argument we wish that easy believism would go die a quick death.

Lordship Salvation teaches what Paul does in Romans, “Should we go on sinning that grace may abound? By no means!” No, we shouldn’t go on sinning… but we also know we will.

The crux of the issue is the heart. When I sin is my heart saying, “Oh it’s ok God will forgive me again. After all I’m not that bad. ” or is it saying, “Why am I doing this? I know it’s not pleasing to God. Wretched man that I am, Lord forgive me and give me strength to overcome temptation.”

However, I’m also beginning to understand that until a person is convicted by the Holy Spirit about their individual sins, as brothers and sisters in Christ we need to be more patient.

My thoughts on this have come from personal observations and after reading “My Ex-Gay Friend,” a New York Times article about Michael Glatze. Once on the forefront of the gay-rights movement, he had a health scare and became a born-again Christian. In the article Michael talks about how his first year as a Christian he gravitated toward liberal Christianity, which finds no sin in a homosexual lifestyle. However, the Lord convicted him. He left his homosexual lifestyle and has since become a heterosexual.

I mention this article, because I was struck by how my conservative Christian background would have responded to him in that first year of his Christian life. Believing that living a homosexual lifestyle is a sin, I would have been uncomfortable with him declaring Christ’s name and not willing to walk away from his boyfriend or his work as a gay-rights activist. Some people would call me judgmental. And while I do believe that there is a place for judgement to be made within the brotherhood of Christianity, I also am seeing the need to be quick to listen and slow to speak.

I think sometimes we need to be reminded that God interacts and grows each of us differently. Each of us have different battles to fight and have been given different strengths and weaknesses. Some are given a special sensitivity to sin, I think. They, especially, need to learn to be patient and loving with new and old believers alike.

As we notice the sins of our fellow Christians we need to recognize a few things:

1. They may already be aware of it and fighting it, but with little noticeable (from the outside) progress.

2. They may be struggling with a different sin and don’t feel like they could win a war on a divided front.

3. They may be defensive about it because they like their sin.

4. They may not even recognize their action as sinful.

With the third reason, I believe we still need to be slow with this person. Badgering them into recognizing their sin is not loving or helpful. I do believe there are times when we are to shut our mouths and open our prayer journals, if you will. While we are given the mandate in Galatians 6:1 to restore those who are caught in transgression, we are also told to do it with gentleness.

With the forth reason, I think it imperative that we clear in our explanation as to why the action is sinful. Showing scriptural references and indulgent in our explanations. We also need not be disappointed or frustrated if they don’t heed our advice immediately. We  just need to be patient as this different kind of seed that was planted will, more than likely, eventually flourish in the fertilized heart of a believer.

So, be encouraged my family in the faith. If you notice a brother in sin, encourage them to become more like Christ, but be gentle; be quick to listen and slow to speak. If you are approached about your sin, be humble, be encouraged by their love and concern for you. You also, be quick to listen and slow to speak.

Published in: on July 18, 2011 at 7:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Church is Like… A Hotel?

Before you throw stones at me and deem me a heretic hear me out. 🙂

In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul talks about followers of Christ belonging together as a body. A body that has many members that each have their own “jobs” or gifts. I love that analogy. Some people act as the brain, or mouth, ears, heart, hands, knees, or feet. We each have different personalities, gifts, passions, backgrounds and even baggage that leads us to be molded into a hand rather than a foot or a brain rather than an ear.

When I first started working at my hotel, I remember thinking that, in a sense, it runs like a well-oiled machine… (or body, if you will.) Each person was hired to do an individual job, and their job helps others do their jobs. I was hired to be a banquet server. I wasn’t hired to do dishes, but I’m grateful to the person who is, because that makes it possible for me to do my job… to do my part in running the hotel.

Well, a few weeks ago we had a huge conference come in for two full weeks. The banquet people were basically serving about 150 – 200 people, depending on the day. Since I don’t work often, my first day was a couple days into the event. I was surprised to find one of our front desk employees in the kitchen chopping vegetables and washing dishes. He explained that he was just working in the kitchen because they needed him to.

Throughout the next two weeks as I watched our accountant help clean tables, or front desk people chop veggies, or the General Manager help with the food prep I was struck by how much the body of Christ is like a hotel. Not only are each of us hired for a specific job, but if someone else needs help, we help, regardless of our job description. Why? Because we have one goal: To make our hotel stand out to our customers and give them a good experience, so that they will return, bringing us continued revenue (and jobs!)

So, as a member of the body of Christ, if I’m an ear, I’m no less important then a foot, nor is a hand less important than a brain. We each have been given “jobs” to do. But at the same time sometimes there’s a need, the foot is getting extra busy so the brain comes to help, or the body needs more than two hands for a time and the ears jump in to help. Why? Because we all have a common goal: To glorify God and to be the body (the arms that hug, the feet that bring food, the mouth that speaks) of Christ on earth.

Published in: on June 1, 2011 at 1:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Response to Little Girls Gone Wild

[Original Article]

A hit and yet a miss…When I first ran across this article I thought, “Wow! The secular world is finally taking note of our young girls being sexualized. That’s great!” But I feel like the article left something to be desired.I completely agree that t.v. shows and movies have lead girls and tweens that dress/act inappropriately and/or have bad attitudes. But even if the shows are somewhat family friendly the tween (or younger) role models are then plastered on our news stations with drug issues, dressed like a  promiscuous college student or any number of things we don’t desire for our children.

But, that’s where my agreement with the article stops. For, she quotes Peggy Orensein the author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture. Saying that this sexualization actually starts with toddlers’ love for princesses. Wait. What?! Yes princesses. She goes on to explain that, “Sexualization is not only imposing sexuality on children before they’re ready and viewing girls as sexual objects, but also valuing a girl for her appearance over her other attributes.”

First, I have not found this definition of sexulalization anywhere. In fact, the definition according to the American Pychological Association is, “1) When a person’s worth is assumed to only come from his or her sexiness; 2) When a child is expected or encouraged to act or dress sexually; 3) When a person is treated as a sex object rather than as a whole person; and/or 4) When physical characteristics are considered to be the only indicator of sexiness.” – Now, point one and four may correlate with Orenstein’s definition but then she’s equating appearance for sexiness, and I think we need to separate the two.

I also don’t think that a love for princesses (or the princess movies) teach girls that they “should want to be the Fairest of Them All.” Why don’t I think this? Well, Cinderella was a slave in her own home working harder than the non-princess, ugly, snotty step-sisters. Snow White was sent away and worked diligently within her home made up of the seven dwarfs. Belle loved to read and think, she wanted adventure, and selflessly gave up her life for her father’s. I haven’t seen Princess and the Frog or Tangled (although, it seems like Rapunzel was portrayed as pretty vivacious!) so I can’t speak about them. Now, don’t get me wrong Snow White and Sleeping Beauty have some pretty messed up mother-figures in their lives seeking the beauty of youth and causing others harm in order to gain it, but the princesses themselves didn’t really seek beauty, rather it found them, and it was found not only in their appearance but also in their character. Besides all that, my daughter is almost three, loves her princess bed and her princess dress up, and even her plastic, jeweled, feathery high heeled shoes, but are those things in and of themselves really teaching her that physical beauty is the only place worth lies or that she is valued only for her appearance? No.

The article continues, talking about a mom who took her 4 and 7-year-olds to a salon in Disney’s theme park for the whole spa treatment and how she regretted it in the end. The girls didn’t enjoy their beauty make over and thought the treatments itchy and uncomfortable. First, I must say, 4 and 7 seems awfully young for mani/pedis and updos. But just because this is true doesn’t mean we should condemn being a “girlie-girl” either, which is what the author of the article essentially does. The author basically says that as moms we shouldn’t bond with our daughters over shopping and spa treatments. Again, is it the shopping and spa treatments that are really causing our daughters to be sexualized or even teaches our daughters that beauty is the end-all? I don’t think so and hopefully we’re bonding over other things too. And while my daughter has yet to see the most fabulous chair of all chairs, the pedicure chair, I have most certainly given her “pretty toes” a.k.a. I’ve painted her toe nails. And she loves it! Why? Because they’re like mommy’s!

Finally, the author gives suggestions about avoiding this sexualization by putting your daughter in sports rather than dance and by not sexualizing a boy-girl relationship. Like when your five-year-old daughter goes off to play with your friend’s five-year-old son you shouldn’t giggle about what a cute couple they make and plan their wedding.

While putting girls in sports is not wrong, in my experience the more sporty a girl is the more she losses her femininity, and some just don’t enjoy or are not good at sports. It’s just not a good solution. I also disagree with the idea that giggling over the cute five-year-old couple somehow sexualizes the boy-girl relationship. It’s just cute, (and I doubt at that age they realize that marriage = sex. Hopefully, mine would think marriage = friendship) and I venture to say women have done it through the ages without consequences to boy-girl relationships.

So what would my answer be to this problem within our culture? As I reflect on this I realize, our daughters view themselves a lot how their mommy views herself. I remember an older (than me) woman in my life while I was in college had a toddler daughter. She expressed the fact that she wanted to loose the rest of her baby weight, but more than anything wanted to be content with her body and her self image so that she didn’t pass those negative feelings to her daughter. This is where I think we need to start.

As mothers we need to show our girls how we dress modestly and still feminine, how we do our hair and makeup and take care of our bodies, not only for ourselves and to please our husbands, but also because we desire to glorify God. It means teaching them the joys of being a woman, even if that includes shopping and spa treatments, but making sure it includes submission to our husbands and contentment in serving our families. It means teaching our daughters through example that we don’t find our worth in how we look or what we do but rather in who we are in Christ. If we can teach our daughters and give them a firm foundation that their self-identity is grounded in Christ and not the world I think we will have done our jobs. This may include getting rid of television and magazines, even worldly dance classes, and certain music, but that doesn’t mean we should have to forgo entertainment and the arts in general, raising our girls to dislike the femininity that comes with womanhood.

So whether our girls play sports or aspire to be a prima ballerina, a CEO or a homemaker, let’s teach them an appropriate view of sex and sexuality. Let’s teach them to be feminine and beautiful, yet that true beauty comes from who we are on the inside. Let’s teach them how to find their worth as a daughter of Christ. Most of all, let us ask God to mold us into being the ultimate role model for our daughters.

Now, will someone help me be that kind of mother!

Note: There are other things about the article that I question/disagree with, but a blog can only be so long. 😉

Moses’ Mother

I don’t like rereading books. Even my favorite book Pride and Prejudice I have only read once. I tried to read it again years later, but I had listened to the audio version and seen multiple movies based on the storyline that the book no longer held wonder and suspense. I already knew what was going to happen. My attitude was, “Yeah, yeah, Lydia runs off with this guy. Yuck. Mr. Darcy’s sisters are mean. Get on with the good stuff.” Unfortunately this happens all too often with me and really good books. Even ones that hold good spiritual wisdom.

I think for some of us this happens with the Bible. We grow up in the church and we hear Bible stories over and over from the time we’re very little. The stories no longer hold a feeling of wonder and suspense. We know Joseph will rise to power when he’s sold as a slave and later thrown in prison. We know David will defeat Goliath and that Daniel will come out of the lion’s den unscathed. We don’t really feel the agony of the Biblical character. We don’t think about their faith and trust in God, or their feelings of despondency because we already know everything will be OK.

I’ve been reading the book The Invisible Hand by R.C. Sproul. The book is about God’s providence. I’m in chapter 4 and in each chapter he’s kind of highlighted a different story and shown how God’s providence has worked through the details. Chapter 4 is about Moses. And it really hit me.

When Moses was born Pharaoh had “commanded all his people, ‘Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.’” Because this was commanded to “all his people” I’m assuming that if any Egyptian saw a Hebrew baby boy they had every right to take the child from the mother and toss the little boy into the Nile. Can you imagine? Exodus 2 tells us that Moses’ mother (we don’t know her name) [Correction: Her name is Jochebed, found in Exodus 6:20] hid him for 3 months and that she could do so no longer. I’m thinking that more than likely someone found out about the little Hebrew baby boy and she felt the panic of having someone knock down her door and wrench her baby out of her arms only to have him tossed into the river.

So, she made a basket  (Talk about crafty! I wonder if she was wishing she had better materials), covered it with tar and pitch (Hoping it wouldn’t leak. I mean, could she really assure herself at this point in time of it’s buoyancy or it being leak proof?), and put the little boat in the river. The mother knew that she couldn’t raise her little baby. She didn’t spy Pharaoh’s daughter and purposefully float the baby to her. No, she put the baby in the river, the very place the child was supposed to be cast into the river, thrown to his death. She couldn’t allow it, so she did what she could to extend his life, just a bit longer. I wonder if other mothers were doing the same thing.

Miriam, the baby’s sister stood at a distance “to know what would be done to him.” I wonder if her mother asked her to come with her and follow the basket, or if out of childhood curiosity, sneaked out of the house and followed her mother wondering what her mom was doing with her brother. She saw her mom place the baby in the river and then, as far as we know, continued to watch the basket. For how long, we don’t know.

At this point, Moses’s mother probably went home to mourn the loss of her child. The basket wasn’t to be his salvation, it was only supposed to cushion the sure death that would eventually befall him. Can you imagine, she kissed her baby’s head, placed him in the basket, watching to see that it wouldn’t immediately sink, the tears falling already as she says goodbye to her son. She runs home to mourn in peace, only to have Miriam bursting through the door sometime later. “Mommy, Mommy!” An exhausted, emotionally depleted mother loving her daughter but missing her son, “What child?!” “Mommy, Pharaoh’s daughter found our baby and wants to raise him, but needs a wet nurse. Come quickly! I told her I would bring her a Hebrew wet nurse!”

I’m sure if Moses’ mother did know that Miriam was watching over the basket she was expecting Miriam’s statement to be, “The basket sank, Mama, baby brother is gone.” Or “I followed the river as far as I could. He’s floating safely away.” Instead, she got something that was completely unexpected: More time with her precious baby. She probably never dreamed in a thousand years that Yaweh would bring her baby boy back to her. But according to God’s providence he swirled the river’s rapids to carry the basket down the river, to have Pharaoh’s daughter bathe right as the basket was near by. He softened her heart (Remember, she had every right to find the baby and toss him in the water, no questions asked. Doing that would have been obedient to her father.) God had Miriam close by and gave her the quick wit to offer to get a Hebrew woman for the wet nurse. God provided in a miraculous, unexpected way for Moses’ family.

Here I sit in 2011, friends from church have traveled to Haiti and are building a house and providing much needed food to people in the hospital. Here I sit a week from my car accident while  Japan is trying to survive from their earthquake and avoid the worst of a nuclear melt down. Here I sit wondering what car to drive while people in New Zealand are still wondering where they will live.

The Lord is great. He will provide a vehicle for my family and I believe it will, in the end, be a blessing. But I tend to be near-sighted about things, to be impatient, and want answers now. I am thankful that I still have a standing house. I know the Lord is great and he has a purpose behind the earthquakes in Japan, Haiti, and New Zealand. I can have comfort in the providence of God to bring us all through another day. And I pray for the people of those countries that they will not only be provided with the food and shelter that they so desperately need and seek but that the Lord will also reveal Himself to them and give them the everlasting hope and joy that comes in knowing God and being able to rest in His providence.

As He is in control of the swirl of a river to save Moses from sure death, He is in control of a rumbling ground, and a car accident in Midvale, UT. Thank you Lord for your sure hand.

Published in: on March 15, 2011 at 5:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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God’s Meticulous Sovereignty

This past week my Bible study  group we discussed Romans 9. God’s sovereignty vs. free will that whole debate, you know. Since, we attend the same church and are taught by the same pastor, we mostly agreed. However, towards the end, I mentioned how I believed that God was sovereign over and predestined literally everything even down to the shirt I wear. My friend disagreed with me.

She read Acts 17:26 “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.” And argued that place could mean western hemisphere instead of  1796 Forest Dr. (fake address) and that time could mean born in the 80’s or the internet era instead of June 19th 1982 (fake birthday). My argument was no, that God ordained for me to be born in Aurora, IL on my specific date of birth and to move to Naples, FL about 1 1/2 years later so that I would interact with specific neighbors and classmates and have specific experiences that shaped who I am today and how I affect and interact with people that he now has me interact with, etc. etc.

She argued that if God predestined every little detail, then he also predestines my sin. Oooo…. that made me feel squeemish. And she said she’d need some scripture to back it up. Well, I had a verse in mind but I couldn’t find it. So, I was basically tripped up. And walked away thinking, “Should I really believe that God predestines everything little thing right down to the exact blades of grass that I step on outside?”

After a conversation with my husband and finding of scriptures, studying of online articles and blogs, sections of books by theologians and even a little of the Westminster Confession, my conclusion is yes. Yes, I do believe in God’s Meticulous Sovereignty and it is a wonderful and comforting thing.

So, why do I believe it? First, Matthew 10:29-31, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  So, basically what the verse is saying is that something that costs 1/2 a penny (What costs 1/2 a penny today? Nothing, not even gum… that’s how insignificant they are.) won’t die apart from God’s will. So, if that’s true, then why wouldn’t other seemingly insignificant things be a part of God’s will.

The other most significant verse is Ephesians 1:11, “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,” So does that me literally ALL things, big and small, or all seemingly significant things? If a teenager said, “I did all my homework mom.” Would the mother assume all the homework is done, down to every last problem, or would she assume that most of it is done, and definitely the significant assignments? Personally, I would assume all of it was done, down to the last problem, there’s no reason for me to think otherwise, unless an exception is made.

The other noteworthy and thought-provoking thing that I want to bring up is a quote from R.C. Sproul’s book Chosen by God. “If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled. Perhaps that one maverick molecule will lay waste all the grand and glorious plans that God has made and promised to us. If a grain of sand in the kidney of Oliver Cromwell changed the course of English history, so our maverick molecule could change the course of redemption history. Maybe that one molecule will be the thing that prevents Christ from returning… There are no maverick molecules.” (p. 26-27)

That is quite the powerful statement. This was my thought process:

– How ridiculous. God is more powerful than a dinky little molecule. Of course God wouldn’t let a molecule ruin his plans.

– Well, that’s true, but how does God make sure that a dinky little molecule doesn’t ruin his plans?

– By ordaining and being in control of exactly where that molecule is, at all times, and exactly what it bounces into.

Hmmm… that’s pretty powerful to me. God controls all things so that Christ will return and triumph.

So, what does that do with my sin then? Does God predestine sin? Well, yes. He predestined the sins of Joseph’s brothers when they sold him into slavery so that later Joseph could save his family from famine. God also predestined the most heinous of sin, the death of Christ. (Acts 4:27-28, Acts 2:23) So, God predestines my sin, for a purpose, and at the same time I’m held accountable for my sin. A la Romans 9! “19 You will say to me then, ‘Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?’ 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?”

The best thing I can recommend is to read this article on the issue.

And this video is good too!

Let me leave you with this beautiful poem that I found here.

Sov’reign Ruler of the skies,
Gracious, ever wise;
All my times are in thy hand,
All events at thy command.

His decree who form’d the earth
Fix’d my first and second birth;
Parents, native place, and time,
All appointed were by him.

He that form’d me in the womb,
He shall guide me to the tomb;
All my times shall ever be
Order’d by his wise decree.

Times of sickness; times of health;
Times of penury and wealth;
Times of trial and of grief;
Times of triumph and relief;

Times the tempter’s power to prove;
Times to taste the Saviour’s love
All must come, and last, and end,
As shall please my heavenly Friend.

Plagues and deaths around me fly;
Till he bids, I cannot die;
Not a single shaft can hit,
Till the God of love sees fit.

John Ryland (1753-1825)

Note: “”penury” = extreme poverty
Source: The Providence of God by Paul Helm (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity), 1993.

Published in: on October 3, 2010 at 12:39 pm  Comments (2)