Saturday, July 25, 2009
We're technology obsessed. Now days, you can have your phone, television, internet, camera and video games with you wherever you go. I realized the other day that my children won't remember the days of film cameras (What? You mean you have to WAIT for your pictures to be printed in order to view them?) or of slow, dial-up internet because those are now a thing of the past. In fact, it will probably be hard for them to fathom that some people do not have personal computers. By the time they are my age, it is likely that everyone will have a personal computer that fits in the palm of their hand (like the iPhone!).
I remember when car phones actually stayed in the car. I remember when computer screens were larger than the CPU and took up most of the desk space! I even remember eight track tape players and records- things my kids have never seen!
We are plugged in all the time. We can check our email while sitting in the movie theater. If you don't want to call someone, we can send them a quick text. We can download our favorite songs straight to our mobile phones. We can upload millions of applications to play so we never have to be still, quiet, or bored. We have made it so that we can be constantly entertained.
Now, networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace allow us to know every thought, emotion, and action our friends and family care to share through status updates. I know people who update their status messages every half hour!
The other day, we passed a church in our town that had the following message displayed on their sign: YOU'RE INTO FACEBOOK, BUT ARE YOU INTO GOD'S BOOK?
It got me wondering, do we get into God's Book as much as we log on to Facebook? Are we more connected with the world than we are with God?
What if for an entire week, we reversed the priorities. What if we checked in with God as much as we check our emails? What if we used the time we messaged and texted to pray and praise? What if plugged into God's Book (the Bible) as much as we plugged into Facebook?
If things we reversed- if spent as much time with God as we do on our computer (whether it's our laptop, desktop, or hand-held device), would we find that we were spending MORE time with God?
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying technology is bad, but now days, with this stuff at our fingertips all the time, everywhere we go.... we can find ourselves constantly distracted from our purpose in life.
As I mentioned in my previous entry, I've been reading One Month to Live (by Kerry and Chris Shook). Now, I don't know if they mention any thing of this sort in the book (I haven't read all the way to the end yet, but, in their book, they ask what we would do if we only had thirty days to live. Wouldn't we stop living in a virtual and digital reality and start living authentically, boldly, and "in real life"?
Would we get out there and live instead of just talking about living? Would we tune into God more? Would we have more interest in the spiritual status of our friends?
Believe me, I'm preaching to myself here. I've really tried to make more of an effort to step away from the computer, and those things I can easily eat up my time and distract me from my purpose and mission.
This last week, I found myself really diving into the Word of God, and in one week, I had spiritually devoured half of the New Testament. I think sometimes I get online and research all sorts of things that stimulate me intellectually, but I have never found myself so intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally stimulated as when I plug into the bible and really focus.
There have definitely been days when reading and praying has just been something to hurry and check off my list of To-Do's, instead of something I sit down, focus on, and enjoy. When I rush through it, I miss so much of the blessing and walk away empty.
I feel like I haven't really been able to organize my thoughts in the last couple posts, but I hope you understand the point I'm getting at.
If someone were to look at those things that occupy our time, what would be their impression? Would they know we are passionate about Christ? Would they see that we serve God? Or would they see that we are more interested in entertaining ourselves?
Again, I'm not saying it's wrong to have a little entertainment, but I definitely thing that we live in a time where people believe we must be constantly entertained (and many people no longer know how to simply entertain themselves without some high-tech gadget, and of course, most people these days cannot stand to be still or quiet).
I just think it's about time that we slow down and commune with God. Some of us have GPS (Global Positioning System) so we know where we are and what direction we're headed in at all times, but do we need GPS- God's Positioning System, so we know where we are spiritually and what direction God wants to lead us in.
Anyway, I'm not going to proof read this or attempt to organize it to sound jazzy and catchy. I hope you get the point I'm trying to make. I know we all have different struggles and different distractions that we could get wrapped up in for hours and hours. I'm interested in hearing what yours are... so please, feel free to share in the comments.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Life has been on my mind a lot lately, or rather, the shortness of it. A while back, I was reading a person's post on the end times. He felt like the "end times" (biblically speaking) were not near, but were used as a scare tactic.
Now, I don't know if the end times will be in our life time, but I do know that we will ALL meet an end to this life one way or another. People seem to forget that, even if Jesus doesn't come back in our life span, there will still be a finale to life as we know it. So, really, it doesn't matter if the "end times" are almost here or not, because we could die at any moment. We are not guaranteed any specific amount of time on this earth.
A couple months ago, I confessed to a group of my friends that I felt I had gotten a little too relaxed in my life and had begun to take it for granted. I told them I had decided to do a "life remodel" and would be challenging myself to step out of my box and try something new.
I eased into it by making a commitment to say yes more. As a parent, I have found myself saying no (in various forms and ways) to the requests of my children simply because I either don't want to step away from what I'm doing at that particular moment, or... *shame* because I'm feeling lazy. So, I began to say yes to my children more often.
I also decided I should get up earlier, which went well until I got really sick and couldn't get out of bed for a few days.
I said yes to playdates, to letting them test out messy recipes, to playdough, to letting them play with the water facet outside (ah, simple pleasures, right?), and one day, instead of giving them baths, I sent them into the backyard with a bar of soap to play in the sprinkler. (That's going to be one of those stories they tell their own kids some day.)
This "Yes" attitude began to shift to different areas of my life. I decided to share my testimony with my small group, and was warmed and encouraged by their responses. God used that experience to push me on to share my testimony to more people, and I began to put myself out there for a ministry in public speaking- to youth or to women's groups.... something I had previous felt God's calling to do, but felt I wasn't "up for the challenge".
Of course, there we days (and weeks) when I withdrew and failed, but it definitely got me thinking outside of my normal box.
So often we're content to spin our wheels in the rut we've made thinking that, hey, if the wheels are moving, we must be getting somewhere, right? (WRONG!)
Lately, I've been more aware of what I do with my spare time. Ralph Waldo Emerson knew that spare time was a precious jewel:
"Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life."
Today, while I was fellowshipping with my good friend, Ashley, I noticed a stack of books on her side table. Ashley and her husband, John, have been doing a study with the youth group of their church using the book One Month to Live by Kerry and Chris Shook. I asked if I could borrow one of the books to read over the weekend, and, even though I'm only a few chapters in, I have to say, this book is fantastic. The Shooks seem to take the thoughts right out of my noggin and the words right out of my mouth (except, better written than I ever could have!).
I have much more to say on the subject, but it is late (passed midnight!) and this laptop is about to die on me. I know I only scratched the surface today (mainly talking about the "natural" side of things, but I definitely intend to go more indepth. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Don't waste a minute of this time God has blessed you with!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
The excitement was short lived. I'm having some body issues. For some reason, I am unable to "hold on to" a baby. It is likely that I have miscarried more than the two times that I know of, and just thought my cycles were running really late.
I'm going to get all checked out and see if there is something that needs to be fixed. It's disappointing, but it's part of life. Hopefully an ultrasound and an exam can tell us something.
I made the decision to tell people about the pregnancy early, even though I knew it could possibly end this way because I believe every baby is a gift, whether it makes it to my arms or not.
The kids want another sibling as bad as we want to give them one, and on a daily basis I am asked, "When are we going to have another baby?" I honestly thought the first miscarriage was just some fluke of sorts, but now I'm getting the idea that there is something wrong.
If you know me, then you know I'm not a doctor person, but... well, there are times when I've got to suck that up and go! :)
We have been incredibly blessed with three beautiful children, and while I ache for another (and another, and another... ;) ) I know that I am very fortunate to have children already.
I told my friend that I'm thinking about calling out a hit on my uterus for betraying me. That'll teach her, eh? ;) Ha!
Now, I'm off to eat chocolate pie. Have a blessed day!
Monday, July 20, 2009
As most of my regular readers know, we had a miscarriage on Easter. This month, we would have found out the gender and other fun stuff, which has been on my mind lately. Saturday, I was really thinking on this. Little did I know, I was "with child" once again!
We wanted to share this news with you all instead of waiting a certain amount of time. One thing I have learned from the experiences of several friends this year is that you can lose a baby at any stage during the pregnancy, or even birth, and every moment should be celebrated.
We hope that you'll keep us in your prayers!
Here's a few photos to share with you all (not related to the pregnancy!).
Coloring with my Keagie!
Independence Day pool time (enjoying our FREEDOM!) :)
Oh, and one more big God blessing- RAIN! We had RAIIIIN this weekend!
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
My dad sent this email to me, and I thought I'd pass it on to my readers:
An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had once failed an entire class.
That class insisted that Obama's socialism will work and that no one will be poor and no one will be rich, a great equalizer.
The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama's plan".
All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade.
After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.
As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little. The second test average was a D! No one was happy.
When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.
The scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.
All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.
Could it be any simpler than that?
Monday, July 6, 2009
So often, in churches today, we hear about the freedom we have in Christ, and so often, I hear this phrase taken out of context. "Freedom in Christ" has taken on many different meanings among Christians today.
On the more liberal end, freedom in Christ means that, since Jesus died for us all, we can all live how we choose and shall still be forgiven and welcomed into Heaven at the end of our lives without any repentance or change of heart and lifestyle.
On the more conservative side, freedom in Christ means that, because we live by faith and are free from the law, that it doesn't necessarily matter if someone doesn't follow a certain aspect of the bible, because we have been freed from the law.
Friends, both of these statements and everything in between are lies (that so many of us in the Christian community have bought into!). Freedom in Christ means that we have been freed from our sin. We are no longer slaves to our own fleshly desires.
In his letters to the Romans, Paul the apostle exclaims, "Should we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? Absolutely not!" [Romans 6:15 HCSB] Yet there are so many people who claim to be Christians still swimming in sin, or at least sticking their foot in to test the waters! As Paul says, "How can we who died to sin still live in it?" [Romans 6:2] Is the stink of sin still on us? Are you really saved?
Praise God for the liberty we have, but remember the words of Paul to the Galations, "Christ has liberated us into freedom. Therefore stand firm and don't submit again to a yoke of slavery! [...] I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other.."
If we are living out our faith in Christ, then we are automatically upholding the law, as Paul explains in Romans 3:31. "Do we then cancel the law through faith? Absolutely not! On the contrary, we uphold the law." You see, the law didn't become null and void once Jesus died for our sins. Jesus tells his followers, "The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me [...]. If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with Him. The one who doesn't love Me will not keep My words."
As sinners, our flesh likes to find loopholes that allow us to fill our own desires. A while back, I was telling my children that, sometimes, we like to think some parts of life are gray area that are not really biblically clarified or defined, but the bible is very black and white on all subjects of our lives. My son piped up and said, "Yes! Black and white and red, too!"
"Red?" I questioned? "Where is it red?"
"Well," he repied, "in your bible, the words of Jesus are red."
So, in the words of my son, the bible is very black and white.. and red ... on what we should do and how we should act in all the areas of our lives, regardless of time and era. Even in these modern ages, biblical wisdom and direction still very much applies.
In I John 1, John repeats Jesus' words and sends the message home, "This is how we are sure that we have come to know Him: by keeping His commands. The one who says, 'I have come to know Him,' without keeping His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected. This is how we know we are in Him: the one who says he remains in Him should walk just as He walked." In the fifth chapter [3-5], John explains, "This is what love for God is: to keep His commands. Now His commands are not a burden, because whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. And who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the son of God?"
Don't get me wrong. I am not suggesting that we earn a place in heaven by following God's commands through our very own works. The bible says, "Now to the one who works, pay is not considered as a gift, but as something owed..." [Romans 4:4] Our service is not a payment towards our salvation (as if it were something on layaway!) but a gift of thanks and appreciation for the grace and salvation which we have already received. They are a result of our faith in and love for Christ. Grace is a gift that Jesus bestowed upon us- not because we deserve it, not because we worked for it, not because we're "good people"- but because He loves us. If we could earn our salvation, what would be the point of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross for our sin?
Yet the bible is clear that our works should be proof of who we serve, so to say that our works and deeds do not matter would be a lie.
God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him. If we say, "We have fellowship with Him," and walk in the darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say "We have no sin," we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [...] But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father - Jesus Christ the righteous One. He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.
[I John 1:5 - I John 2:2]
Romans 14 goes into detail about the Law of Liberty and the Law of Love. I do believe that God may convict us to be stricter than other people in some areas of our lives- maybe in what we eat, how we adorn our bodies, specific aspects of our family life, or observing certain days over others, and I believe that there will be some of these differences among us in our beliefs and in how we live our lives, but the main point is that we do (or don't do) these things unto God. "Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind. Whoever observes the day, observes it to the LORD. Whoever eats, eats to the LORD, since he gives thanks to God; and whoever does not eat, it is to the LORD that he does not eat, yet he thanks God. For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. If we live, we live to the LORD; and if we die, we die to the LORD. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the LORD. [...] So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God." [HCSB]
Just as there is much conflict and debate about these issues today, there was then as well. Paul exhorted the people to "no longer criticize one another, but instead decide not to put a stumbling block or pitfall in your brother's way." [Romans 14:13] I think, so often, we get caught up in arguments about what holidays a Christian should celebrate (or how they should be celebrated, if they should be celebrated at all) or what is suitable dress and adornment for a person (mainly this argument is towards women's clothing, make-up, jewelry, and hair) or if there should be a day of rest and what day is it (Sunday? Saturday? Any day of the week? No day of the week?). There are arguments about whether it's okay to drink alcoholic beverages (and I can just hear some people exclaiming, "But Jesus turned water into wine!") and a million other little issues people love to pick apart..... but are we so busy arguing that we've neglected to "be about our Father's business"?
I think some of us get this idea in our head that God is this sweet old grandpa, and while He is loving and kind, he is not a big ol' pushover. God expects obedience- commands it- and punishes those who do not obey. God is a just God, and while some may think He is harsh, they are obviously blind to the blessings He has so generously shoveled into their lives. I think Jude sums up my point well when he writes a reminder to the people. "Now I want to remind you, though you know all these things: the LORD, having first of all saved a people out of Egypt, later destroyed those who did not believe; and He has kept, with eternal chains in darkness for the judgment of the great day, angels who did not keep their own position but deserted their proper dwelling. In the same way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them committed sexual immorality and practiced perversions, just as they did, and serve as an example by undergoing the punishment of eternal fire."
Think on Eli, a great man of God, who failed to properly raise and discipline his sons (I Sam 2-3), or David, specifically chosen by God in his youth as a man who would honor God, who allowed his fleshly desires to overcome him resulting in a chain of tragic events. Paul outlines the warnings from Israel's disobedient past in I Corinthians 10. There will be consequences for our disobedience. It may not be immediate, and it may take years and years, but there will be consequences (which will not only affect us, but those we love as well). Our disobedience could very well cost someone else their salvation.
Sometimes I look at my responsibility as a parent. It's a fearful and overwhelming responsibility, in case you haven't examined it lately. To be negligent or disobedient in this area of my life could seriously hinder my children in their walk with Christ, or prevent them from every taking that step.
Part of our obedience to Christ is fulfilling our God-given ministry. I've heard people say, "Not all of us are called into full-time ministry," but that couldn't be further from the truth. Our lives are to be a full-time ministry to others as we serve and glorify God. My ministry is based in the home but extends to my community. My husband's ministry is to his family and out in the work force. In order to fill this place of ministry, we need to be "pictures of Christ" to others, which means we cannot preach the gospel effectively if our own lives contradict Scripture.
Anyone who has ever had a garden knows that weeding is not a one-time event. It's part of maintaining a garden and has to be done regularly. Similarly, just because we turn our lives over to God doesn't mean that we won't ever have to deal with these little "weedy" issues in our lives. There will be times when we have to put on our gloves and get down in the dirt. The bible tells us to examine ourselves, and since we are sometimes too lenient, we should pray for God to search us and point out the weeds and thorns in our lives.
What are these weeds I speak of?
Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar, about which I tell you in advance- as I told you before- that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
I think that's pretty clear there about what things should be "crucified" in our lives, and what sort of qualities should be blossoming in our lives if we are followers of Christ. Remember, it's not enough to have a mind belief of Jesus, because "even the demons believe and they shudder" [James 2:19]. Just looking at that list I can see a few of my own short comings!
Julie Chaddick, wife of Jerry Chaddick (pastor of Open Door Baptist Church in Moss Bluff, Louisiana), pointed out that we are all guilty of dabbling in every single one of these works of the flesh. Even if we have not been physically adulterous, we have all been spiritually unfaithful. While we may not bow down and worship golden statues, we are still very guilty of idolatry as we often put other people or things above Christ. In fact, we may even focus so heavily on one spiritual aspect of our service that it becomes our idol because the glory and the praise is distracted away from Christ.
We can see that Jesus was very loving and forgiving, but he didn't condone sin in any form. Paul tells the Romans that "although they know full well God's just sentence- that those who practice such things deserve to die- they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them."
Look within the church (and I mean, the body of believers), and you will see sin running rampant and wild while so many of us just sit by without a word. I really identified with a blog post by Robby at Clan & Covenant. He was writing about how sin is being permitted within the church. People who are obviously unrepentant and living in sin are allowed to take part in communion without as much as a blink of the eye (in many cases). Those within the church are not encouraged to "examine themselves" before partaking as Paul commands the Corinthian people to do. [I Corinthians 11:27-32]
I think we need a huge flashing wailing reminder that repentance is not optional. Just because we have accepted Christ and repented once, does not mean we, as believers in Christ, will not have to repent again. If we are honest with ourselves, we will find that we will have to repent daily due to private sinful thoughts or actions we have committed against Christ.
This is serious business here, and we are playing with fire if we think the right thing to do is to baby people by telling them they are "only human". God calls us to a higher standard, and we are walking dangerously close to the line of "applauding" their sin if we act like it's not a big deal.
I have much more to say on this issue, but I believe I'll have to save it for another post. This is already quite long! To be continued, my friends! For now, my prayer is that you would soar in the freedom that is Christ. If you are still walking in sin, examine your life and reach out to Christ!
[Thanks to ChristArt.com for the adorable and humorous graphics!]
Friday, July 3, 2009
Even the art-challenged parent can organize this with ease.
You'll need the following supplies:
- Canvas or thick paper
- Masking tape or painters tape
- Paint (Thicker paint if you are using a canvas. Runny paint on a canvas will run under the tape. You can use watercolors on thick paper.)
- Paint brushes (or, you could use finger paints and fingers!)
Tip: Make sure the kids paint all the white spaces on the canvas, especially around the tape, so there are clear, clean lines when you peel off the tape.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
It's been unbelievably hot here in the Houston area lately. So hot, we probably could have set the pizza out on the back porch to bake (or broil!). With temps in the 100's, no one really feels like spending time outdoors unless its at the pool or the beach (or spent running through the sprinkler), so we've had to find things to do indoors, where our a/c struggles to battle with the infringing heat.
Even the dog would prefer to bask in the sun streaming through the window than lay outside in the humidity and blinding sun. With no rain for weeks, our grass is crunchy with golden patches here and there. Our sprinklers just cannot compete. We water in the evening, once the sun has gone down. Watering during the day is a waste of time and money, as the droplets seem to evaporate before they ever touch the grass.
Still, this summer has its joys. Juicy watermelon and cantaloupe. Baby showers. Wedding planning (for my brother and his lovely gal- the bride found her wedding dress within an hour, and the second bridesmaid's dress I tried on was perfect). Family reunion (end of this month!), and my birthday (July 31st, the same day the family reunion starts!) as well as my husband's (August 6), and my Sister-in-law-to-be's as well (and several of my close friends!).
It has been such a joy to be a part of Chip and Tara's wedding planning. Let me tell you, Tara is such a wonderful woman, and I am so glad the two of them are tying the knot. I could not have asked for a better "sister"! She certainly is a blessing to our family!
In other news, we have a "border" with us. Brandon's best friend from "way back" has moved in for about a month and a half while he finishes up school. His wife is doing her internship (she's a doctor) out in North Carolina where they have purchased their first home. David is staying with us as he ties up these loose ends. We will miss them, but I am sure we will see them again! (We may just have to vacation in NC! I have no complaints about that!)
The kids just love their "Uncle David". Here's a photo of Lisa and Dave, after we all came back from a "double date". My parents watched the kids (before Keagan was even a twinkle in our eyes).