Saturday, March 24, 2012

God Has A Plan

Weekends are a time for me to post whatever's on my heart. Well there's a lesson I need to hear myself so that's why I'm putting it into words.

God has a plan. I can say that a million times and still not get the message through my thick skull. God has a plan. For me; for you; for the world. And yet, I don't ever get the message. I make my own plans and get my hopes up, then get discouraged when things don't go my way. But God has a plan.

Emily's plan was to go to Freed-Hardeman and major in journalism so she could become a news anchor or reporter. God's plan was for Emily to go to Freed-Hardeman and meet Robert in her communications classes, marry him, and move to a small town where she could use her journalism classes as a background for editing videos for the Gospel Broadcasting Network. Not my plan, but God's was better.

There are a million other instances like that, where God's plan has proven so much greater than my own. In my every day life I need to remember that He is in control. When I get upset about the outcome of something, or get anxious over something that hasn't even happened, or get upset when things go differently than I want--God is in control. God has a plan for my future just like He had a plan for my past.

(ESV) Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How We Treat The Opposite Sex

Romans 12 is said to contain a list of Christian virtues. Starting in verse 9, we are given a list of attributes Christians should possess and ways they should act. While most people use 1 Corinthians 13 to define love and how we should treat our spouses, I like to use Romans 12:9-18. I especially like verses nine though twelve. Here's what those verses say:

"Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;"

There are so many ways to apply these sentiments, but there's one area I want to zoom in on today.

First and foremost let me tell you that I am by no means a perfect wife. After all, I've only been a wife for a little over 8 months. Still, I have seen a problem with wives of my generation and I really think it needs to be addressed. Lately, I am seeing more and more women talking about famous men on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. While most do so in a playful way, I can't help but feel a sting for their husbands. I'm not saying it is wrong to talk about celebrities or prefer certain ones over others; I have my favorites, too. But here's a sobering question: Do you get upset when your husband talks about other women? Why then do we go on and on about other men?

I think it is just as hurtful to our husbands when we talk about certain celebrities and how "hot" or "attractive" or "great" they are. Not because our husbands are insecure or weak or anything of the sort, but because they're human beings. They need to feel wanted and appreciated and loved. How are we making them feel by praising worldly men based on their appearance? Do we give our Godly husbands the same kind of public praise?

If, as a Christian, I am supposed to give preference to others, and be kindly affectionate to others, how much more so am I supposed to give those things to my husband? Should I not prefer him, even in the silliest and most superficial of ways?

Ephesians 5:33 says, "Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."

There are many different ways to show respect to our husbands. I think one way that we could do that is by only praising OUR men. Sure, I can like certain celebrities. Do I have to go on and on about how gorgeous or great or amazing they are? Do I have to plaster pictures of them everywhere? Do I need to try to make my husband jealous?? Of course not. I should spend as much if not more time praising my husband and building him up. Out of respect for my husband, I shouldn't go on and on about other men in the same way that I would feel bad and insecure if he went on and on about how attractive other women are. It's not that I don't know other women are way more attractive than I am, but I don't want my husband to think so. In the same way, we shouldn't act like other men are more attractive than our husbands. They are ours, after all.

Robert and I both share a love for Michael Buble's voice. I'd like to think, though, that Robert knows I'd much rather have him singing to me any day. I may like certain celebrities, but my husband knows that I am completely smitten by and attracted to him above all. That's what it's all about.

Wives, try hard this week to compliment and praise your husband publicly, especially when you feel like complimenting or praising some wordly man. And if you're not married--practice this concept. Stop objectifying men. We get so upset when men do it to us, yet we excuse the behavior for our gender.

Titus 2:3-4 says (ASV): "that the aged women likewise be reverent in demeanor, not slanderers nor enslaved to much wine, teachers of that which is good; that they may train the young women to love their husbands, to love their children.."

Apparently, loving our husbands is something we need to be trained to do. It might not always come naturally. Let's work toward training ourselves to love our husbands in the way God intended for us to love them.

All I want out of life is to go to heaven, be a Godly wife and mother, and have my family get to heaven with me. The purpose of this post and all others is to consider myself first so that I can be right with God. It is never intended to attack, condemn, or anything else. I only want to get to heaven, and help others get there.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tough Stuff Tuesday: Immodest Clothing

I couldn't start a post on immodesty without linking you to some amazing stuff written by Jennifer Gerhardt. Scroll back through her old posts and read all about modesty. It's some incredible stuff.

Being the first day of spring, immodest clothing season is rapidly approaching. I think it's important for us to purpose from the very beginning that we want to be modest this year, in every way. I will be focusing on the "usual" modesty topic---you know, the one that talks about covering up. Jennifer addressed so many amazing things in her posts and I think you should take the time to read her thoughts on what it means to be truly modest. I'll just be focusing on this one way.

Every year tells the same tale: girls who are Christians don't clothe themselves with Christ during the hotter months. That's a blanket statement, and in no way do I think that all girls dress immodestly. However, I know it is a struggle for even the girls with the purest of motives. Manufacturers don't make a lot of modest clothes. So even if you want to, it's difficult.

Still, some girls don't seem to want to. Tank tops and cleavage and thighs and bikinis abound from March through September. There isn't much left to anyone's imagination. There definitely isn't a lot left for their future husbands. Now I know that the overwhelming majority of people who read my posts aren't teenage girls, but I know some moms read it. I know some dads read it. I know some college-aged singles read it. And guess what? Modesty is for all of us.

While I'm not a parent, I can assure you that you hold so much power in how your child dresses and will continue to dress. I can remember going shopping with my mom when I was young (maybe 8 or so) and she wouldn't let me buy tank tops. I thought, Mom, that's crazy! And yet, when I was a teenager, I wasn't tempted to wear spaghetti strap tank tops or tube tops (though that doesn't mean that I didn't go through my rebellious stages at times). My mom had instilled in me that it wasn't appropriate to wear things like that. Had my mom let me wear things like that until I was 12 or 13 and then one day say, "well I don't think that's really appropriate", I might have gotten mixed signals. Having boundaries at an early age helped me stay away from those things that would hurt my influence when I was older. I can also remember an instance when I was in high school, perhaps a freshman or sophomore, and I came bustling down the stairs in something that was too short. My mom immediately sent me upstairs to change. I can't tell you where I was going, what I was wearing, or anything like that, but I can tell you that I remember the lesson. I was irritated at the time because I wanted to "fit in", but looking back, I'm thankful that my mom taught me to be separate. After all, that's what being holy really means.

Really, though, modesty starts in the heart. If your heart is right with and close to God, you will try to clothe yourself with Christ, not the world. Instead of trying to impress the boys or girls at school, you will try to live in a way that God wants you to, constantly trying to please Him. If your heart isn't close to Him, why would you be expected to alter the way you dress? That would be going through the motions, wouldn't it? It is only when we give our hearts to God that we give Him our entire body as well.

Are you a Christian? Think back to the time you were baptized. That wasn't a flippant thing. When we are baptized, we put on Christ (Gal 3:27). You read that right, we "put on". What other kinds of things do we put on? Right--apparel. When we wake up each morning, we should put on Christ first. Before we walk to our closet, before we mentally start checking off which things are clean and which are dirty, we should pray to our Father that we will act like Christ. When that is our mindset, the rest will be easy. We won't wear clothes that draw attention to ourselves--we'll want people to see Christ in us. We won't wear clothes that are too tight or too low cut or too short--we'll want others to know that Jesus lives inside of us. We won't make excuses for why we're being immodest (nothing fits me right, my ___ is/are just too big)--we'll be seeking God first, self second.

There is so much more to modesty, and that's why I linked you to Jennifer's blog. I do think it's important, though, that we all prepare for the warm weather we're about to experience by first putting on Christ, then selecting our summer wardrobe accordingly.

I want to leave you with the wise words of Paul, specifically addressing the ladies:

"...that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works." -1 Tim 2:9-10, emp. added. 
Don't think of it as having restrictions because you're a female. Instead, think of it as a way to outwardly express your godliness every single day

Monday, March 19, 2012

Why I Loved This Weekend

If you read my post from yesterday, it's no surprise to you that I am now the owner of a new iPad. I'm still getting adjusted to not having a laptop, but I don't think it will be a very difficult change. I have already fallen in love with dictation, iPhoto, the resolution, and everything else about it. That's reason enough to have a great weekend, right? The thing is, there is SO much more.

It all started Friday. I worked Friday morning until lunch, then had to take off and head toward Lawrenceburg to...wait for can totally judge me for this...officially change my name. I'd been putting it off (for 8 months?!) because you can't do it right here in Pulaski. Who wants to go to a neighboring county to do it? Not this girl. Finally, though, I purposed in my heart that I couldn't put it off any longer. So, on an unseasonably warm March day I got in ole Julius and rode with the windows down all the way to Lawrenceburg.

I was prepared for a wait. I packed a book and my fully-charged iPhone in preparation. When I arrived at the social security office, there were no other cars there. I thought they were closed for lunch.


I walked inside and was greeted by a precious security guard who told me the wait was five minutes. Ten minutes later I was in my car and on my way to the driver's license place.

I walked in the driver's license place expecting it to be like Huntsville--rude people, long lines, etc. Not so! Good old Lawrenceburg surprised me again with a two minute wait and a very helpful lady who officially welcomed me to Tennessee (though she wouldn't give me back my Alabama license and I was sad). By the time I got back to Pulaski, I'd spent 40 minutes driving and 20 minutes actually changing my name. This was a much easier process than I'd expected.

So, I decided to go and get my car tag. Easy-peasy again. The last thing on the list was changing my name at my bank. Blah. To do that, I had to go to Huntsville. You can't exactly call the bank and say, yeah I changed my name! Put a brand new name on my bank account that has a gazillion dollars in it (ha, funny). Making the day all the better, Robert decided to join me on the jaunt to Huntsvegas. I had warned him along the way that there was no way my luck could last in Huntsville. Any time I'd gone to the bank on a Friday afternoon in Huntsville the wait was atrocious. Anytime I went to the bank at ALL in Huntsville the wait was pretty bad. And yet, we rolled up in the parking lot, got out, asked the lady at the front where we needed to go, and she said she'd take us back and take care of it. 8 minutes later and we were out of there, too! The final remnant of Lauren (the old middle name that I dropped) was gone. I was no longer an Alabama resident. I no longer went by my given name. Nope, I was a new person from a new state with a new tag and a new license and a new social security card. AND IT WAS THE EASIEST PROCESS EVER.

I even got to meet my family at Rosie's (my all-time favorite place) for dinner, capping off a perfect day.

Let's move on to Saturday shall we? (As if this post isn't long enough already!)

Robert and I had planned to go to the Green Hills mall in Nashville, so we got up, got ready, and headed toward Franklin to get something to eat. It was another gorgeous day, traffic wasn't unbearable, we found an amazing parking spot within seconds (which, if you've been to green hills, you know how amazing this is). We had a productive shopping day, too. I got some new (incredibly discounted) pants from Loft, some practical items from the Container Store, had some cheesecake from--where else?--The Cheesecake Factory, and I got to spend all of that time with my amazing, wonderful husband. Oh, and then we had the best experience ever at the Apple Store. Just an all-around perfect day. As we were leaving I even used the phrase, "There's a rainbow in my heart." Who am I and what kind of perfect day possessed me? I don't use phrases like that. And yet, it was so befitting of that day.

Yesterday was also incredible. We got to worship with the saints at East Hill, which is always a blessing. We had an amazing Bible class on giving, then a great lesson on unity/fellowship. I had a nice lunch date with Robert, and then he went back up to the church building and I did the Sunday usual--Wal-Mart. Continuing my good luck streak, I didn't get stopped by any lights on the way and found an incredibly close parking spot the very first go-round. As I was leaving, the buggy guys even stopped and waited for me to finish unloading my groceries so they could take my cart for me. Like I said, good luck.

Next, I headed to the dollar tree to get wreath supplies. My sister texted me Saturday night and said she'd made a wreath with supplies from the dollar tree, and I decided to try it out. 15 minutes and 6 dollars later, I had all of my supplies. 20 minutes after getting home and unloading all of the supplies, my wreath was finished and hanging on my door.

Another perfect weekend in Pulaski if I do say so myself.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

This is only a test

On Saturday, I got the new iPad. My wonderful husband took me to the Apple Store at Green hills and we decided that instead of getting a MacBook air, I would just get an iPad in the place of my personal computer. I'm pretty excited about it, especially because there is dictation on the iPad. That's exactly what I'm doing now--I'm talking to my iPad and it's typing. So that's why I am calling this a test. I'm testing the dictation on my iPad; I'm testing the new way I'll be blogging. I hope you enjoy all of my upcoming posts as much as I will.

So that's it then. This is only a test. Hope you enjoy all my posts and I hope you will tune in and comment. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tough Stuff Tuesday: How We Treat Enemies

Have you read the story of the crucifixion lately? I would urge you to do so. There are so many things in that story that we need to be reminded of on a daily basis: the sacrifice Jesus made, the horror of the cross, the love that poured from His lips. While listening to the account being taught to some who'd never studied it before, I was amazed at how rich the REST of the story is, too.

Rewind with me back to the Garden of Gethsemane. You can read the account in Matt. 26. Starting in verse 36, we're taken to that solemn place with Jesus. After he has prayed to His Father no less than three times, the mob comes to take Him from the garden.

Pause here.

Of all the times in your life that you can think of where you've been confronted or mistreated by a bully/enemy, were any of those times as bad as this? Didn't think so.

Now, there are two named enemies in Jesus' story: Judas and Malchus (John 18:10). Judas is the one who was supposedly Jesus' follower (and more than that-friend), who then told those who would arrest Jesus where they could find him. He is the betrayer. Malchus is a servant of the high priest, and we cannot know if he hated Jesus as his master did or not, but regardless he was there---standing with the other team.

Flash forward to today: how does the world tell us we should treat our enemies? Stand up to them, mock them, act out with violence, talk bad about them? The list goes on and on. How do Christians often respond to those who are rude to them or talk bad about them or hurt them? Talk bad about them, act out in revenge, hold a grudge? That list, unfortunately, goes on and on too. Let's go back to the garden and see how Jesus responded.

First, Jesus responds to Judas. When he approaches Jesus to give him away to the others, Jesus says (in no doubt a heartbreaking tone), "Friend, why have you come?"


Even though Judas was in the process of betraying Him and sending Him to His death, Jesus has only kind words to speak. Jesus had also known, from the beginning, that Judas would betray Him, yet that didn't change the Lord's attitude and demeanor toward Judas. He was a great friend to him, despite the fact that he would betray Him. Today, we don't always know when someone is going to betray our trust or take sides with the enemy, but we do know how we should respond to them: with kindness, gentleness, and a spirit of friendship.

Second, we see how Jesus interacts with Malchus. Simon Peter jumps to the aid of Jesus and, in a fit of rage/protection/devotion, Peter cuts off Malchus's ear. What would we say? He deserved it? Would we even laugh? That's not how Jesus responds. Jesus heals Malchus and rebukes Peter. Jesus shows compassion on someone who is against Him. He doesn't let His friends harm him, either. Now think about yourself again: when someone comes at you, how do you treat them? Are you compassionate? Do you let your friends bash them and talk bad about them? I feel I'm more guilty with this one than the other. How easy it is not to show compassion to those who show no compassion to us. That's not what Jesus did, though, and we are to model our lives and our reactions and our behavior after Him.

Find the Judas's and Malchus's in your world, and treat them with kindness and compassion. Ask God to forgive them, like Jesus asked God to forgive all of us while He was on the cross. Pray for your enemies, don't curse them (Rom. 12:14). In all that you do, act like Jesus. It will never be the way the world wants you to act, but since this world is not our home, it is the way we must always choose to act.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Weekends with Mom

I spent this past Saturday with my mom. She drove up for the day and we got to have some much-needed one-on-one time. I didn't even realize I needed it as much as I did, but as she drove away Saturday night I realized just how much I'd missed seeing her every day.

We didn't do anything significant on Saturday, but it was just what I needed. While we were out wasting the day shopping in Cool Springs, I noticed some ways I'm exactly like my mom:

1: We shop the same. We don't like to dig through every piece of clothing in every single stack. We go in, examine the sales racks, and instantly decide if we like something or not. If not, we're on our way. She's the perfect shopping partner.

2: We get tired of shopping at the same time. Two hours is our breaking point. Normally it's before then, but we were having so much fun talking and laughing that I didn't really notice until we got to the final store. But, we both looked at each other and said, I'm ready to go. Again, perfect shopping partner.

3: We snack the same. I developed my love for ice cream from my mom. I also inherited the ability to scarf it down like her. I fully believe we could win an ice cream eating contest. No brain freezes for us!

4: We like the same things. This may or may not be a good thing, but at one point while we were shopping, I pulled a shirt off the rack to examine it, looked over and realized my mom was holding out the exact same shirt in a different size. Needless to say, I put mine up and she bought it, but still. We like the same things. =)

5: We travel the same. Both coming and going, we needed something from McDonald's; for me it was a large Diet Coke, for her-sweet tea. Still, when we're traveling we need some sort of drink to keep us company.

There are probably a host of other ways that we're the same, but those are the ones that really stick out to me. However, while we were spending the day together, I also noticed a lot of qualities that my mom possesses that I hope I inherit:

1: The way she loves her daughters. I've known for a long time that my mom loves me, but when I hear her talk about my sisters it makes me realize just how much she loves us. It's evident in her voice and the things she says. I hope that I can love my children the way she's loved me.

2: She takes care of her family. Emotionally and physically, she takes care of us. She knows everything there is to know about nursing someone back to health. She's always given of herself completely when one of us were sick (though let's be honest, I'm the most sickly one). I hope that I can do the same for my kids and my husband.

I have an incredible mom. I'm so thankful for her and all the things she's taught me. I hope that I can be like her in a lot of ways.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Wouldn't It Be Nice

If you have known/followed me for a while (or if you read my post last Friday), you know I've been blogging for a while. You may also know I came over from a little blog that was near and dear to my heart. On said blog I liked to do a lot of things, but mostly I liked to make lists. Why? I don't actually know. Possibly because I'm pretty type-A, possibly because I'm not a good blogger and settle for lists because they aren't creative, possibly a lot of things. The point is this: it's my free for all Friday and I'm pretending to be back in the world of my typepad, and you're getting a list.


1: Quitting Diet Coke was a bad idea for me. What's that? You didn't know I'd quit drinking Diet Coke? Where have you been? Ahem. It was a long, hard 8 days but somehow I made it through it. And oh yeah, it was a dumb decision. So now I'm back, from outer space. I just walked in to the refridge to find that Diet Coke in its case.

Yeah. Just totes made up a rhyme for ya.

2: I spent my entire Friday night cleaning (and making hilarious memories with the husband). Cleaning on a Friday means two things. 1: I don't have a life at all. 2: My mom is coming to visit tomorrow! I'm mostly ecstatic about that fact. We are going shopping and it will be beyond exciting. Have I mentioned lately that I miss my mom? I do. It's a lot.

3: My bff is amazing. I have spent the better portion of today texting my bestie Alyssa about ridiculously amazing things. The fact that we live 12 hours away doesn't interfere with our closeness. That's bff-ship right there.

4: Not having cable is the best. I do not miss having cable for even a microsecond. We have Netflix and Hulu, and while I could probably get by with just one of those things, having both of them is the best possible scenario. I get to watch all of my favorite TV shows the next day *via Hulu, and watch all kinds of wonderful(ly old) movies on Netflix.  Greatness.

5: I am so ready to move into a real house. Don't get me wrong, I love our apartment. I espesh love getting to live with the most wonderful roommate/best friend/husband in all of the universe. Still, I'm ready to not be a renter. I'm ready to drive all kinds of nails in the wall, paint stuff, decorate more.

6: Speaking of things I'm ready for: I'm ready for Alyssa to BE here. She's coming in a month and I'm out of control beside myself with excitement. We're going to have the most legendary time. It will be epic.

7: Moving on to things I'm not ready for: children. No joke, two days after we got back from our honeymoon, people were asking me when we were going to have kids. 1: That probably only concerns me and the hubs. 2: Not anytime soon!! I had another revelation tonight as I was doing laundry. If TWO people can produce so much laundry (and never have enough time/energy to catch up on it), how on earth could I add another? I haven't even figured out this whole wife thing (not that I will pre-kids, but still). A little more practice would be nice. Am I making sense here? Thoughts? Do you/did you/are you want(ing) to have kids right when you get married? Am I alone in my 'let's wait 5 years' plan? According to all the Facebook pictures of sonograms, I'd say yes. Tell me otherwise, please.

8: I really can rant about not ready to have children I am, huh? The thing is, God has a plan and knows the plan and just hasn't filled me in on the plan. Children may not even BE the plan. I just pray for God's will to be done in my life, and I will accept it no matter what that is.

9: Apple always scares me into not buying 'new' technology because they come out with something new every second. I'm on the verge of getting a new laptop because The Great White is going on back. Now, though, they say that everything is going tablet? Oh Apple. Just tell me what I should do!

10: Every good and perfect list should end at 10. This one most definitely will....

11: Not.

*Do you say V-uh or VY-uh? I need to know. It's a part of the calculations I make when deciding if we're going to be friends.

Also, did you see what I did there with espesh, like especially? I figured if I put 'espec' it wouldn't quite get the point across. Brill, right?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Be Careful How You Teach

I recently heard a lesson from Dan Winkler and he said,

"There are two types of false teachers: those who don't teach the truth, and those who teach the truth but don't do so in love. Both are equally wrong." 

Often, we think of false teachers as those who teach things that are contrary to what the Bible teaches. While that is most certainly true (1 John 4:1), people who teach correct things in an incorrect manner are equally as wrong.

Ephesians 4:15 tells us to speak truth in love. In today's culture, many people want to divorce truth and love, but the Bible tells us that it can't be that way. We cannot give people the truth without love, and we cannot love people without giving them the truth. If we truly love, we will tell people how to get out of the sin that is entangling them. If we know the truth, we know of God's love and we will extend it to others.

As you know, the sin of homosexuality has been on my mind lately because it seems to be running rampant in our churches, in our Christian schools, and most definitely in our society as a whole. It is also the first topic that comes to mind when I think of people who divorce truth and love.

On the one hand, people that know and preach the truth know that homosexuality is a sin (1 Cor. 6:9) and therefore tell other people about it. A lot of times (though most assuredly not all the time), those with the truth choose to convey the truth in a way that isn't loving at all. I think of the signs that the Westboro Baptist Church people put up. How on earth can they consider what they're doing to be speaking the truth in love? It isn't at all. It isn't always as blatant, though. You and I can do the same thing by belittling those who struggle with homosexuality and by mocking and making fun of them.

On the other hand, you have the people who know that the Bible tells them to love, and so they do so whole-heartedly. The problem, though, is that they never tell those whom they "love" what the Bible actually teaches. Loving someone is not keeping the truth from them. That seems like the opposite of love to me. If we truly love, we are going to take care of physical and emotional needs, sure, but first and foremost we're going to take care of their spiritual needs.

We cannot separate truth and love. If we love God, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15). What's that? Love and truth in the same command? Exactly. We show that we love by doing what God wants. If we want to spread the love of God to others, we are going to do so by fulfilling (keeping) the commands of God. Jesus said in Mark 16:15 to "go and preach the gospel." If we love God, we will go, armed with gospel, to all the world. If we love others, we will take them the gospel so that they can be reconciled to their God and Savior.  We can't just go in love only. We have to go in love, armed with truth. However, if we have the truth but don't have love, well, we just won't ever go. We won't love the people God created enough to take them the truth. Instead, we will revel in the fact that we have the truth and that we're saved, and we'll hide our lights under a bushel. We can't do that either. We can't keep the truth for ourselves, otherwise we're breaking God's commandments.

I say all of that to say this: we cannot keep dividing love and truth. We cannot excuse people's sins because we 'love' them. Jesus' love covered a multitude of sins, including my own. In order for other people's sins to be covered, they have to know the truth about Jesus and submit to His commands. However, I cannot beat people into submission with the truth. I have to show them the love of God in His truth in order to be effective.

This is a real struggle, finding the balance between love and truth. I pray that we can all find the balance, though, for our own salvation's sake and for the sake of other's salvation.

"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments." 1 John 5:2

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tough Stuff Tuesday: Prejudice

Last week we talked about homosexuality and our response to it. If you missed it, you can check it out here. This week, as a sort of follow up, I think we need to examine a problem...a problem with our hearts.

We know that God shows no partiality (Rom. 2:11). Why then do we, as Christians, show partiality and prejudice toward certain sins? I am by no means saying that we should ever accept sin in our lives or the lives of other people claiming to be God's children. We should never revel in the fact that we have sin in our lives, but should instead confess that we have sin (1 John 1:9) and do as Jesus commanded the woman caught in adultery, "Go and sin no more" (John 8:11). We should, however, treat all sin the same: as something that separates us from God. No sin should be classified as better or worse than another.

We should hate all sin. We cannot love God and love [practicing] sin, too (Mt. 6:24). To be a true child of God's, we have to constantly try to abstain from sin and keep ourselves unspotted from the world (James 1:27). Just because we know that Jesus' blood cleanses us, does that mean we should keep on sinning? I think Paul covered that pretty well in Romans 6. When we put on our Savior in baptism, we die to our previous sins and no longer live in them (v 2). That goes for all sin.

A lot of Christians want to bash the sin of homosexuality. How consistent is that, when some of our favorite TV shows portray womanizers, adulterers, fornicators, murderers, and the like? We want to bash the sins that we don't struggle with, yet when it comes to something like breaking the speeding laws or illegally downloading music, we want to look the other way. Christians, it shouldn't be this way!

Is it ok to be partial to certain sins and consider them 'lesser sins' simply because everyone is involved with them? We know the answer is no. If we are truly trying to walk in the light as He is in the light, we are going to put off all kinds of sins. The 'little stuff' and the 'big stuff'. The 'hard stuff' and the 'easy stuff'. If we want to get to heaven, we have to stop making the sins in our own lives small and blowing the sins of others out of proportion. Jesus condemns such actions (Mt. 7:3-5).

I think it's a heart problem, and one that I struggle with on a regular basis. Our hearts are filled with prejudice. We are all different and no doubt have different prejudices. Some of us may be prejudiced toward certain types of individuals, others toward certain types of sins--the possibilities are endless. As God's people, we need to rid our lives and our hearts of prejudice. We need to see people as souls, regardless of their circumstances or the sins that they are caught up in at the time.

If we try to reach out to those who have not known the gospel and power of Christ, yet only try to reach those who appear 'pretty clean' already, we're wrong. I struggled with that sentence as I was writing, wanting to fluff up the ending and make it sound less harsh, but there really aren't any other words that fit. When we pick and choose who should and should not receive the gospel, we are wrong. ALL have sinned, ALL need the gospel. Take a look at the list in 1 Cor. 6:9-10 and see the types of sins the Christians at Corinth were caught up in before they were washed. We cannot keep the gospel from people because they are homosexual. We cannot keep the gospel from people because they are murderers. We cannot keep the gospel from our friends that are 'pretty good people', because they need the gospel too.

In 1 Cor. 6:11 Paul says "and such were some of you." When you put on Jesus in baptism, you give up the life you were leading. You turn and walk a completely new way. Some of those people WERE homosexuals, but they were washed and when they were, that had to stop practicing homosexuality. Some of those people WERE adulterers, but they had to stop acting out sexually when they put on Christ. The list goes on and on. When you are washed, you have to abstain from sin. Any sin. All sin. Just because the sin appears small in your own eyes doesn't mean it's okay to keep practicing.

We have to stop being prejudiced in the church. We have to stop glorifying certain types of sins and treating some like they're the plague. No sin is so great that Jesus' blood cannot cleanse it, and no sin is so insignificant that it does not need Jesus' blood to wash it away.

This week, pray that your heart will be free from prejudice. When it is, I'm sure that doors of opportunity will be opened so that you can help someone see Jesus that maybe wouldn't have seen Him in you before.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Must-Tell Monday: Marriage

Facebook is an interesting creature. Without even meaning to sometimes, you peer into people's lives that  otherwise you wouldn't necessarily know anything about. I say sometimes because I know there are those moments when we purposefully "creep" on people that we only semi-know, or that we don't know at all but our "friends" know, but sometimes it really is by accident. Something will pop up on your news feed about one of your friends' new houses or new jobs or new baby or new ____. That happened to me recently and it made me reflect.

There are a lot of people my age that are getting new houses and new jobs and new this and new that. There are people my age getting nice cars and nice furniture and nice vacations. I'm happy for them, and glad that they get to enjoy those luxuries, but the thing is, I'm not jealous at all.

From the outside looking in, my life might not seem very glamorous or exciting. My week usually consists of, well, nothing. My weeks don't have a usual. As a preacher's wife, my life is always sort of unplanned. One week there might be a gospel meeting, the next a summer series, the next a hospital visit in a nearby town, the next an out of town lectureship, and a whole bunch of local events in between. There are no fancy vacations or big promotions. There are no extravagant parties or over-the-top amenities. Instead, it's just me and my new husband, living exactly the life we want to be living.

Sometimes I stop and think how different life could be. I think about what it must be like for some of those people with all the nice things. I quickly stop myself, because I don't want any of that. I don't want anything other than what I have: a wonderful marriage to the man of my dreams.

I am so thankful for everything that is in my life. I know that God has blessed me far beyond what I could ever deserve. I have an amazing, Godly husband that I get to be with nearly 24 hours a day, who never ceases to make me laugh. We have so much fun together in our rented apartment. The memories that we're making now are going to last me a lifetime, and I am so thankful for that.

All of my life I've heard that choosing your mate is the most important thing: not where you live, what you have, but who you're with. That couldn't be more true. I could have all the luxurious amenities in the world, but if I didn't have Robert, I wouldn't want any of it. More than that, though, I could have everything in the whole world INCLUDING Robert, and if I didn't have a relationship with Jesus I would have nothing. I am so thankful for my Robert and my Savior.

Life is good.

Friday, March 2, 2012

A Date with your Blogging Friend

Here's the deal: since it's Friday I can do whatever I want and I'm choosing to go on a little date with all of you.

First dates can be awkward. If our first date is anything like mine and Robert's first date, there will be uncomfortable silences even though we both knew each other extremely well. I don't want that to happen with us. No, I want us to have mutual conversations, and both benefit from our time together on this Friday evening. What needs to happen is this: we need to have some good old fashioned get to know each other time. I'll go first.

I'm Emily. I've had a blog since, well, since Xanga's and Livejournals were cool. Thankfully I've forgotten the passwords and usernames to all of those accounts, but I'd be extremely embarrassed should they ever be resurrected. I have lots of interests. I love traveling, writing, watching movies, scrapbooking (though I can't for the life of me remember when the last time was that I had a scrapbook), taking pictures, and eating. I love eating. Recently, I stopped drinking Diet Coke (for 8 days, and it might have been one of the dumber decisions of my life). I have decided it is in the best interest of everyone if I drink Diet Coke sometimes, but the IV I had was just a bit much.

I have an amazing husband and I absolutely adore him. When I was little, I thought about what marriage would be like and who I would marry and things like that. I never imagined that it would be as great as it is, or that I would find someone who loves me as much as Robert does. I have loved every single second of our marriage so far, and although we're only 8 months in, I think that's pretty good. It goes to show that when you know someone so thoroughly and completely beforehand, there aren't any bad surprises or scary characteristics to be unearthed.

The biggest part of my life is my Christianity. I take it extremely seriously, though I fail my Lord far more than I want to. Recently, I've changed the way I view things, and instead of wanting to run my own Christianity, I want to give it to God (novel concept, huh?). I may not convert someone that immediately becomes the strongest Christian ever, but if I can have a positive influence and plant that seed in someone that years later comes to fruition, that's what it's all about. I hope to get to heaven and meet a lot of people that were directly or indirectly effected by my life. After all, that's what we're called to do.

In my spare time, I....well, I don't know. I don't have a lot of spare time. I like to be busy. I love being a preacher's wife, because there's always something for us to be doing.

And there you have it. That's pretty much me in a nutshell. And now? Well, now it's your turn. You see, I want to know about you and what you like. What do you like about this blog, what topics do you like, have you checked out all of the features that my blog has? Did you know that at the end of every post, there are three little buttons that you can hit that tell me that you read it and you liked it, didn't like it, or thought it was ok. You don't have to log in to anything in order to do that! Or, you can follow this blog via email so that you get updates when I post. OR, if you have a google account, you can just follow me through that. You can also leave me a comment, telling me a little bit about yourself and what kinds of things interest you, that way I can customize my posts to you.

I'm doing my best to stay positive and excited about the changes to my blog, though I'm sure my old one feels neglected and sad. I'm sure that if you commented, etc. I'd feel much better. Just a thought. =)

Enjoy your Friday everyone! Also, can you believe it's March? Me either. But I'm thankful God has given us more time to serve Him.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

God Will Get You Through It

I recently heard my husband talking to someone about different things that were going on in that person's life. Let me tell you, that person had been through a lot of stuff. Toward the end of the conversation, Robert said, "You sure have been through a lot of things, but God brought you through every one of those things, and He'll bring you through this, too."

Isn't it great to be able to have such confidence in our God? David wrote,

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me."

David wasn't camped out in the shadow of death, he was going through it. He wasn't sitting down in the middle of the valley, asking God why he was there. He wasn't asking God where He was throughout all of it, because David knew: God was there, and God was getting him through it.

Our lives are the same. When we are in the middle of a crisis, God is there, and He is helping us get through day at a time. A few months ago, I was in the middle of one of those 'valley of death' moments. I felt like everything in my life was crashing down around me. You know what, though? That was probably one of the biggest moments in my life when I knew God was there, wrapping His hands around me and guiding me through it. And now, on the other side of that, I know that was the case.

Being a child of God means you live a blessed life. Because I am a child of the Almighty King's, I am able to go through life without fear, because God is there. I am able to face any and all uncertainties this life has to offer, because I am His. I know that His words are true, and He has promised that He will never leave me or forsake me (Heb. 13:5). Sure, there will be times when I am faced with trials. But when those trials and those 'valley of death' moments arise, I can be assured of at least two things:

One, God thinks I'm strong enough (1 Cor. 10:13) and two, God is by my side (Psalm 23:4).