Thursday, March 1, 2012

Worth it in the end...

Worth it in the end…

Let me start this blog by saying that although my girls are only 7 and 9, I’ve been blessed to volunteer in youth ministry as a counselor for many years, so this information is coming from real life experiences. I don’t claim to know it all, nor do I claim to be perfect, but I do try to guide my own girls and the youth I work with in the right direction.
Junior high is such a tough age for any kid to go through, because there are a million things changing and happening in your life. Puberty hits, and it hits hard! Girls decide that they HAVE to have a boyfriend or they’re not cool, and boys, well, boys just think about what their hormones are driving them to think about. Girls attach themselves to a boy and have dreams of marriage and the beautiful life they’ll have someday, and boys, well, you know what is going on in their minds. Even the most well behaved boys are going to start having thought and feelings that they’ve never dealt with, and ignoring them or trying to sweep them under the rug is not doing anyone any favors. Dannah Gresh, a well known author and director of Pure Freedom and Secret Keeper Girl ministries, said that you should start talking about sexual purity with your kids, especially boys, at the ages of 8-9. That doesn’t mean you have to go into great detail, but you need to start building that foundation of purity and let them know their worth in Christ much earlier than we’ve always thought. Normally, Christian families start to have “the talk” around the time that puberty hits, but with society shoving sex and pornographic images in our faces, it’s got to happen so much earlier!
Even as far back as 13-14 years ago, I had junior high girls talking to me about what they were learning at school, and that so many were telling them that as long as they didn’t have intercourse, that they were “okay”. Boys were taking advantage of needy girls and the girls were clueless, because first of all, they’d never talk to their parents about it, and secondly, they were getting all of these messages from society saying that it was normal and natural. Friends, God wants SO much more for our kids! Just because your tween/teen daughter is still “technically a virgin” doesn’t mean that her purity is intact! Your son isn’t pure of heart if he’s dealing with a secret porn addiction, and even women’s magazines like Cosmo and Redbook can cause him to fall into it! It all has to start somewhere, and talking openly with your kids before it starts or as soon as you find out there’s a problem will be the best thing you can do for them! As an adult, I’ve seen how damaging even occasional exposure to porn can be. It can tear families apart, and even if there isn’t divorce or separation when it’s discovered that there’s an issue, it breaks a sacred trust that will take a long time to regain. Sure, you may think it’s okay for your kids to watch something with a lot of “skin”, because there’s no nudity, but it just leaves the carnal mind wanting more. It’s out there, and it’s NOT difficult for your kids to get a hold of. A simple click on YouTube, the flip of a channel, even looking at your “harmless” magazines can be one step closer to a true porn addiction and lifelong battles for pure thoughts. You can’t un-see something, and sadly, we fall prey to our enemy before we even know it.
Please, get to know who your kids are hanging out with. Visit the homes that they’ll be spending the night at BEFORE they go, know what they’ll be doing and what movies/shows they’ll be watching and what music they’ll be listening to. Find out what atmosphere they’ll be in and what they may be exposed to. Keep communication between yourself and your kids open. Let them know that they can talk to you about anything, without flying off the handle when they mention something that you don’t approve of. If you steer them in the right direction from early on and let them know WHY you want them to choose our Father’s path, speaking to them out of love, not condemnation, you’ll have a far greater chance of keeping that flow of conversation open through their teen years. Show compassion early on, let them know that there is a better way than what they see, and let Him lead. Will your kids disappoint you? Yes, at some point, even the best kids disappoint and disobey their parents, but hey, we disappoint and fail to live up to God’s standards too. He loves us through it all, and showing them how much you love them, no matter what, will help your kids in ways that you could never imagine! Moms, take your son on a date and let him know how much you value him. Dads, take your daughters on a date and tell them how amazing they are. Don’t let lack of finances be an issue. A night at the bowling alley or window shopping will give you a night they’ll remember and time to talk about purity and anything else they need to talk about. It’s worth it in the end!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

And if our God is for us...

In the book of Romans, SO many of the foundational truths come to light, but we often forget that we're not only adopted by our Heavenly Father, but that NOTHING can separate us from His amazing love. As I sit in my modest home, typing on a nice computer and listen to my 2 healthy girls play, I can't help but think of those who have lost everything in the recent months. I wrote a note last week refering to Romans 8 but couldn't get the following verses out of my head, so when that happens, I figure God put them there for a reason and I blog to share what He's put on my heart. When tough times get you down, when all seems to have gone horribly wrong, please remember that if God is for us, who can be against us! NOTHING can separate us from His love...that's right, NOTHING!

Please continue to pray for our neighbors in Joplin as they grieve, recover and rebuild, for Alabama and yes, even Japan and Haiti. They're not in the news anymore, but that doesn't make the heartache and loss any less painful for them.

"31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”[n]) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[o] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:31-39 NLT

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Radical by David Platt from Taylor Robinson on Vimeo.

If you're not willing to give God a chance to work in your life, to use you to be His hands and feet, please don't watch this video. It WILL change you.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I Will Trust You

These lyrics are straight from the heart of a man who lost his sweet little daughter. Steven Curtis Chapman has written so many great songs, and his album "Beauty Will Rise" touched my heart. Knowing what he's been through and that he's still allowing God to use him blows me away. Praying for so many who have broken hearts because of lost loved ones. I hope you'll take the time to listen to the "Beauty Will Rise" album, it will change you.

I Will Trust You
~Steven Curtis Chapman~

I don't even wanna breathe right now
All I wanna do is close my eyes
But I don't wanna open them again
Until I'm standing on the other side

I don't even wanna be right now
I don't wanna think another thought
And I don't wanna feel this pain I feel
And right now, pain is all I've got

It feels like it's all I've got, but I know it's not
No, I know You're all I've got
And I will trust You, I'll trust You
Trust You, God, I will
Even when I don't understand, even then I will say again
You are my God, and I will trust You

God, I'm longing for the day to come
When this cloudy glass I'm looking through
Is shattered in a million pieces
And finally I can just see You

God, You know I believe it's true
I know I will see You
But until the day I do

I will trust You, trust You
Trust You, God, I will
Even when I don't understand
Even then I will say again

You are my God, and I'll trust You
And with every breath I take
And for every day that breaks

I will trust You
I will trust You
And when nothing is making sense
Even then I will say again

God, I trust You
I will trust You
I know Your heart is good
I know Your love is strong
And I know Your plans for me
Are much better than my own

So I will trust You, trust You
I trust You, God, I do
Even when I can't see the end
And I will trust You
I will trust You, I will
Even when I don't understand
Even then I will say again

I will trust You, I will trust You, I will
I know Your heart is good,
Your love is strong,
Your plans for me are better than my own
Yeah, Your heart is good
Your love is strong
Your plans for me are better than my own
And I trust You
You are my God
And I will trust You

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Right where you need to be...

It's been a while since I've blogged, but I just felt like sharing this today. I'm not sure where you find yourself in life, but I've gotta say, I'm loving the place I'm at right now. Michael and I (along with the girls) have been at our "new" church for a few months now and know that we are exactly where God wants us to be. He's opened doors for us to serve and to be fed, both of which are important for growing, and we are part of a church family that is such a grat example of how the body of Christ is supposed to work. I'm not saying it's perfect, because none of us are perfect and no church is perfect, but when there's an issue, it's dealt with in a timely and compassionate manner. Our pastor and his family are such a blessing to us, and when his wife says "I'll be praying for you", you know beyond a doubt that she really is.

Sometimes we settle for what's easy and in our comfort zone instead of really listening to what God has for us. I know there's a reason that we were at our former church, and we made some dear friends while we were there, but we never truly felt peace about being there. Michael and I started praying about what God wanted us to do and where He wanted us. It was clear that we were supposed to move on and find a new "home". Having always been part of a BBFI (Independent Baptist) church, the thought of changing was kind of daunting. Again, I was choosing my comfort over His calling. Way too many times in my life, I was told it was about grace but was shown through "convictions" and such that more was required to be seen as good in God's eyes. Yes, He wants me to grow in my relationship with Him, but does the style of music I listen to (or sing in church services) or the superficial prayers I pray make me closer to Him? Does wearing onl skirts get me a better spot in Heaven? I've come to accept that His grace truly is enough. Grace + nothing = salvation. It's not grace + wearing the "right" clothes (although I feel that modesty is very important, but it's not going to save you)+ listening to only hymns = salvation. I may step on a few toes here, so if you're toes are sore, I'll give you some spiritual Dr. Scholls (Ephesians 2:8-9 should do the trick). Do I dress modestly, yes, and I expect my daughters to as well. I don't do it because I HAVE to in order to keep my salvation. Does my defination of modesty include only wearing certain clothes? Nope. I've seen more than my fair share of girls/ladies in shirts and skirts or culottes that show off more than I do in my jeans anyday. Just yesterday at the park, I saw an older lady wearing a long jean skirt and a "girl cut" tee, and trust me, I know way more about her curves than I wish to. Anyway, my point is, that God's more concerned about what's in your heart than He is what you're wearing. If you're relationship with Christ is where it needs to be, you won't want to dress in an immodest way. Just sayin'.

Ok, so I feel like I've been rambling, but I just want to put this out there. If you're not where you need to be, bite the bullet and ask Him to show you what He wants for your life. Trust me, once you get there, you'll be SO much happier.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What Not To Wear (Inner Self Edition)

Today, my 7 year old picked out her clothes for church. I don't make them "dress up", they choose their own clothes and if it's not a complete fashion disaster, I let them wear it. Well, she came out with a plaid skirt that I would consider more of a winter look, and a pink shirt. The skirt was a bit too short (not too bad, but not long enough to wear without some leggings) so we picked out some leggings to wear under it. Then it was time to fix hair. She'd gone to bed with all of her in one big braid last night (to prevent tangles) and so it was kind of wavy. Overall, not the best look, but I wasn't going to make her change. After all, going to church isn't about wearing the coolest clothes, it's about worshipping God, nurturing the soul, growing in Him and fellowship with other believers, isn't it?

After I walked away from the slight fashion disaster that she'd chosen, I went to blow dry my hair. Then it hit me, is this how God feels when He sees us choose to clothe ourseves in vanity, pride, selfishness, lack of compassion, or so many other things that He despises? Does He sit back, letting us "do our own thing", even though He sees the disaster? As His creation, He gave us free will, and we can make our own choices. Choices to either "put on love" like Colossians 3:14 says, or to turn away from what He longs for us to "wear".

Isaiah 64:6 says
" We are all infected and impure with sin.
When we display our righteous deeds,
they are nothing but filthy rags.
Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall,
and our sins sweep us away like the wind." (NLT)

When Isaiah was saying this, he was saying that the things the people did to bring glory to themselves are like nothing more than menstrual rags. That's right, back in that day, women on their period were were considered impure. They obviously didn't have the fancy feminine products that we have now, so they used literal rags to absorb their menstrual flow. I know it's a bit much to bring this up, but it's true. God sees our so-called "righteous deeds", they're as dirty and impure as a menstrual rag in His eyes.

So, what if when we start to dress more like He wants. What if, instead of putting on our filthy rags, we put on His goodness and righteousness. One meaning for righteousness is being shielded by God and receiving favor with Him. Honestly, who wouldn't want to be shielded by the Creator, to receive favor from our King?!? Sometimes we think we're good enough on our own to obtain this, so we do our own thing and expect Him to bless us for it. Others of us may not feel worthy of His favor, even though His grace and mercy are offered to every human, not just those that we think deserve it. His love brought Him to the cross, and His blood was shed to cover every sin and every sinner...from the rapist in prison to the child who knowingly steals a piece of candy from the corner store. There is no sin that is greater or less than the other, anything that is displeasing to God is a sin. Even sins of know, when you see something that is right to do and you do nothing. James 4:17 says "Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it." (NLT).

What's it gonna be...will you choose to put on His righteousness and be an example of His love to a dying world, or will you decide to lean on yourself and what you think is "in" at the moment. What if, for just this week, you lay everything at His feet, kind of like a spiritual "What Not To Wear", and let the greatest Designer clothe you in His favor and shield you in His hand. I'll be clearing out my closet this week, laying all of my filthy rags at His feet, asking Him to give me a new wardrobe, one that is pleasing to Him.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Did you hear the one about the Baptist ostrich?

Honestly, you could insert any Christian denomination in the place of "Baptist", but speaking as a Baptist and having grown up in Baptist churches my entire life, I'm coming from the "generic" Baptist perspective. Throughout the Old Testament, you see God's command to His people to care for the widows, fatherless and orphans. Exodus 22:22, Deuteronomy 10:18, 14:29 and 16:11 all tell us that we are to show love to these people and help them along the way. He even goes so far as to tell His people to leave the extras they have after harvest and make sure that they have food. Psalm 68:5 says "Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—this is God, whose dwelling is holy." Another verse says "Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other." (Zechariah 7:10). There are SO many more verses that talk about what God expects of us in regard to being His hands and feet to those who, as the world may see it, been dealt a bad hand.

Although the Bible doesn't specifically mention what we know as "single parents", I fully believe that they fit into this group as well. No matter how they found themselves parenting a child alone, whether it be divorce, infidelity, abusive situations, or just finding themselves alone through other circumstances, we need to reach out to them! Teen mothers, for example, are not society's model parents. They often struggle to stay afloat and have little or no family support. Their boyfriend splits and they find themselves at a loss. The expectant teen moms who choose life are faced with not being able to provide for themselves and their babies. If they were "churched", most of their fellow church members turn their backs and consider them unworthy of the church's time and efforts. I'm not saying that I believe it's ok to continue in the ways that they were in and keep having sex outside of marriage. Sex is a gift that God gave us to share with our spouse in the bonds of marriage.

That's where another type of judgement comes into play in way too many churches. The Bible doesn't condone divorce, but it also doesn't condone over-eating, breaking the speed limit (or any other laws of man), or running up your credit cards with no way to pay. All sin is equal, and because we in this world, we will face it. Divorce rates are almost the same in churches now as they'd been with unchurched couples. I personally have seen couples that I would have never thought would split up, and now they don't even want to talk to each other. I believe that it gives Satan great joy to see this, that he loves seeing families being torn apart and leaving the fold. When divorce happens in a Baptist church, the spouse who tried everything to make their marriage work and still attends church is treated horribly! Why is it so hard to acknowledge that we live in a broken world with broken people, and that Christ wants us, the church, to reach out to them? I really struggle with seeing divorcees treated like 2nd class Christians. My own mom was married 3 times. Her first husband was in the Air Force and was killed in a plane crash off the coast of Spain. She was only in her early 20's and was faced with raising 2 little girls by herself. She then married a man who had 4 kids, and then she of course had my 2 sisters. They had my other sister together and after years of dealing with some tough issues (which I won't disclose because it's not appropriate to share with the blogosphere)they were divorced. A few years later, she met my dad and they were married. I was the only child born of their marriage and I believe they'd still be married today if he were still alive. Sure, they had their tiffs, but all in all, I can truly say that they loved each other. When I was little, a person in a leadership position at a church was talking about how divorced people don't have any value to the church, that they shouldn't be doing any kind of ministry. This particular person apparently didn't know my mom was a divorcee and she asked him, "So, what are you going to do with all of us divorced people?" He stood there gobsmacked, not knowing how to respond. My mom has now been a widow for almost 13 years and as far back as I can remember, she has served wherever she could. In her mid 60's, she even travels to the women's prison in Arkansas and volunteers as a chaplain. She reached out to the orphans and needy in Guyana and eventually adopted my little sister. Tell me, does this sound like God can't use a divorced person? If you join a church and you're already divorced, you're really blessed if you can actually find a church with a divorce recovery class or some type of support. Even if you're remarried, I feel like the church should still offer some kind of outreach to show you that you ARE of worth to our King.

Look at the Samaritan woman in John 4. First of all, being a Samaritan put her on the edge of society, with no one reaching out to her. On top of that, she'd been married multiple times and was living/sleeping with a man that she wasn't married to. Jesus came to the well to get a drink after his long journey. He saw her and asked for a drink. She was blown away that a Jew would talk to her, much less ask for a drink. Jesus started to tell her about water that would quench her thirst forever. She said she wanted that water, and He told her, "Go and get your husband." "I don't have a husband", the woman replied. Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!” Can you imagine how she must have felt? Jesus then goes on to say "“Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!” Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked to find him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, “What do you want with her?” or “Why are you talking to her?” The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” So the people came streaming from the village to see him. Verses 39-42 go on to say "Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.” Wait, did you really get that?!? Not only did he reach out to the Samaritan woman who so many thought of as a worthless tramp, but He spent 2 more days with the people of Samaria, sharing His love and pouring compassion on them.

So, does God want the church to reach divorcees, single parents, teen parents, the kid down the street or at your child's school that doesn't have anyone to show him/her the love of Christ, or even the little old widow woman down the street? Does He expect a higher standard of living from His children, one that means that we step out of our comfort zone and our legalistic "convictions" about how many times someone has been married, how many tattoos they have, or even how many children they have out of wedlock? Yes! We are to be salt and light, but if we're too busy inside the doors of our church building, doing the same thing that those before us had done to actually be "the church", the bride of Christ, we can't and won't reach the lost and hurting where they are. Many in situations that I described above feel like they're not worthy to come to church or are afraid of being judged because of their past. It's time to pull our heads out of the sand and get down to the business of our Father, not just during church hours, but all of the time! It's almost as if churches in general would rather love the lovely but not reach out to the hurting. There are folks in our churches that did everything they knew to save their marriage, but if their spouse wasn't willing to come back to Christ and renew their love for the other, nothing they could do would change the outcome. I've cried and prayed over couples that I thought surely would make it, and sadly, some didn't make it through. God doesn't like divorce, but He is a God that forgives, provides healing and loves them through the storms, and so should we. Pastors are called to be "the husband of one wife", therefore, the common belief in Baptist churches is that means never divorced. But do you see anywhere else that says God doesn't want you if you've been through a divorce? Why is it so hard for Baptists to reach out beyond their 200 year old comfort zone and meet people where they are? In doing so, Christians aren't saying the "sin" is ok, but we're saying that we, the sinners, are no different than them in God's eyes. If we see a brother or sister struggling, we are supposed to reach for them and help them get back on their feet and show them the indescribable love of God!

I'm not going to lie, I used to find myself judging others choices in life, such as having a child outside of marriage, divorce, and not taking care of their children the way they should. It's something I've gotten better with, but occasionally I still struggle. Growing up so sheltered, I didn't see that my sin of backtalking my mom or any number of "little white sins" was, in fact, just as displeasing to God as the girl my age who was sleeping around or the boy who had a hidden porn stash. We need to remember that no matter the situation we may see others in, we wear His name! To quote Newsong..."In a world that's lost in hopelessness, we've been called to be the light, we wear His name!"

I know this has been a lengthy blog, but I've had this on my heart for a while, and after watching "The Blind Side", I knew I had to write. God has been so good to all of us, and we just sit back and expect someone else to reach out to the single mom who is struggling to take care of 2 or 3 kids, or for another person to reach out to someone who is still living every day knowing that their husband or wife rejected them. We want someone else to take care of the dirty little kid down the street, whose mom lets him play in the road and roam the neighborhood after dark, because she's too busy with her own life. Even harder is to be the one to reach out to that mom! As a mom, sometimes I just want to walk up to parents and smack them across the face and ask what their deal is, why don't they take care of their kids, when in fact, I should be showing that person that no matter where they are in life, God cares and so do I. So what'll it be? Will all of us continue to be like the ostrich, keeping our head in the sand and ignoring issues that are all around us, or will we truly be the body of Christ?

(All verses were quoted from the New Living Translation)