I took back my children’s medals . . . *cringe*

This year, 3 of my 6 kids started the running club and two of them (the two girls) whined and complained so much that they quit with 2 meets left. I will confess it was just easier for me to just let them quit. I hate it that I allowed them to quit and that I should have forced them to just finish, but alas, I gave in to their squeals of despair and side cramps.

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email that our school would be recognizing the kids of running club at the annual rally. I told our family that we would all go and support our little runner. We all (including the girls) agreed to cheer him on. When it came to honor our little runner, the two girls come running towards me saying that they too will be honored and given a medal just like their brother. They beamed as they accepted their medal along with their brother. The award had lost its luster to him.

Don’t worry – I realize I should have never let them get the medal in the first place, but I had no clue they were going to call out their names in front of a gym-full of people, and I wasn’t going to make them sit this out. My heart was not to embarrass them publicly, but to teach them privately.

After the rally, we had to have a very serious talk with the girls. My husband and I waited until we could tell them privately that they did not deserve those medals and that we would have to give them back to the coach. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. We told them that while their brother was running and sweating during practice, they were at home playing. While their brother’s heart was pounding at the meets, they were at home sleeping. Their brother had finished the race, they had not. They had quit, and quitters do not get medals.

All three of them take karate and all three have received their orange belt. They had to take a test and show up to practice for over 6 months to have earned that belt. I told them, “How would you feel if your oldest brother –  who doesn’t do karate – how would you feel if I bought him an orange belt and he wore it around the house and told others he was an orange belt? Would you like that?” Both the girls gasped and said “no”.

As we asked for their medals, one cried because she really wanted the medal, but after this story settled a bit, she said she understood. The other – the more competitive one – understood immediately.

Medals mean nothing if the quitters get one too. Trophies mean nothing if all who participate get one. I saw this with my two older boys who are great athletes. The trophies that were given to all – even the ones who showed up to one practice and two games, are in the trash. The ones that were earned are on display for all to see and even polished.

As parents, these are hard lessons to teach our children. We need to teach them to lose gracefully and learn from that loss. We need to teach them to get up and going even when they feel down. We need to encourage good sportsmanship especially when they’re defeated. And we also need to understand that our children are uniquely made with different talents – not everyone gets a trophy and that’s okay. My two girls learned that you don’t get a medal when you abandoned the team, and their brother appreciated his medal and hard work even more.

In the Bible these qualities are exalted in believers. We are to run to finish the race set before us (Heb. 12:1-2). We are to persevere. (2 Thess. 1:4-5; Romans 5:3-4) We are to work out our salvation (Phil. 2:12). We know that he who endures trials to the end will be blessed (James 1:2-4, 12).

To those who are appalled at my words and think I am going to ruin my children’s self esteem, here is a video that plainly describes what I think about self-esteem.

I leave you with the words of Jesus found in Matthew 24:13:

But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

 

A Comforting Force

Twitter, short quips of what people are thinking. If you are not careful who you follow, it can be a cesspool of some of the vilest utterances imaginable. If anything is happening or if I want to somewhat know what is going on, I look at my twitter feed and rest assured, there are dozens of people already talking about any event I am interested in.

Rolling Stone yesterday sent out a twitter about “Professional Cuddling” and how grown adults have to resort to hiring out a professional cuddler to cope with their difficult lives. If you would like to check out the tweet click here.

There are several problems that came to mind when I read this tweet and I will try to explain what they are:

Suffering is belittled. Jesus said we would have many troubles in this world. (John 16:33) Remember he said this as His people were occupied by the Romans. They were a conquered people and succumbed to all kinds of suffering. After the ascension of Jesus, the Christians faced some of the most physical sufferings imaginable. Having to hire out a cuddler because President Trump is crass and a bully downgrades the true trials and sufferings of other people. Also, as Christians our sufferings are different. We may be suffering because we are hated (John 15:18), grieving over sin (2 Corinthians 7:10), being disciplined by God (Hebrews 12:7-8), or just feeling the pangs of this world but we do all these things with hope.(I Thess. 4:13) We freely cling to God and His truths, not paid strangers.

This brings me to the sadness I felt reading this tweet. Regardless of how dainty I think the reason for their suffering is, these young adults are still feeling it. And it saddens me that they have to pay someone to listen and hug them. They are paying for physical displays of affection. Where are their mothers, their fathers, their friends, their church?

As Christians we should be the masters of comforting those who are suffering, regardless of how petty we believe the cause is. (I can’t even count how many times I held teenage girls as they sobbed because they couldn’t get the prom dress they wanted, they didn’t make the cheerleading squad, their friend is moving to varsity and she’s still in JV, the boy they like likes another girl, their cell phone was taken away, the list is endless!) What better time and place to hug, console, comfort and once they feel “safe” help them see a different Godly perspective? 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. This is why we are master comforters because we have been comforted by the only True Comforter.

This made me reflect on how I treat my fellow saint. Paul several times mentions greeting each other with a holy kiss (Romans 16:16, 2 Corinthians 13:12). In Acts 20:37 we see a beautiful display of affection where they weep, kiss and hug each other as brothers in Christ as they say goodbye to Paul.  Many times God describes his comfort to us as being under his wings, close to His heart, embraced by Him. (Psalm 91:4, Psalm 17:8, Psalm 36:7)

Also, let us love on the children in our church. There is an interesting paradox in our society. We commit constant idolatry when it comes to their wants, but we also hate them. In one hand we spend thousands a year getting them the stuff they don’t need, and on the other hand we are outright hateful when we are inconvenienced at restaurants, airplanes, movie theaters etc. by fussy children. (Matthew 19:13) We throw elaborate gender reveal parties, but are silent at the slaughter of babies in the womb. Saying this, we need to love the children of our church. We should encourage them, ask them questions about their day, hug them, play with them, and love on them . Let the church be a place where they know they are loved, not put up with. Let it not only be the nursery workers that interact with the next generation of American Christians.

My dear Christian, let us be comforters. Let us be nice and lovable. Let us truly mourn with and miss our brothers and rejoice when we see each other. If you do not feel that way about your church, let me encourage you to pick out one member of your church and make them miss you when you are not around and rejoice when they see you. Invite just one person to your home and listen to them. Seek out the elderly in your church and ask them about their day, ask them if anything is hurting them, I promise most have something to say. 😉 Buy some gum and hand them out to the kids. Baking for anyone for any reason is always a good idea. Always! Write a short note to your Pastor and let him know you are praying for him. Be sweet dear Christian.  Be a comforting force, just as our God is!

May John 13:35 ring true of us that “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”

Morality vs Holiness

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” ~ C.S. Lewis

We’ve all done it. Christmas is over and New Years is upon us. The challenge to read  our Bible in one year creeps into our minds and we are resolved to do it this year! January comes and you get through Genesis and Exodus, but then you get to Leviticus. A detailed book of ceremonial, moral and civil laws. The rules that God expected of His people. The laws priest meticulously abided by. At the end of that book, I remembered just craving the New Testament where Jesus summed up all the law to this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22: 38-39).

It is human nature to find loopholes in laws or rules. This is why we have 60,000 page health insurance plans. Even with children we say: “Don’t hit your sister”. Brother then touches her and annoys her, “Don’t touch your sister”. Brother then holds his finger before her eyes and gets as close he can to her skin. “Don’t hold your finger so close to her”. Brother then begins to touch his own eyeball making the girl scream in disgust. “But, I’m touching myself!” he yells out in triumph. He found the loophole. We all do it. When making a U-turn, when figuring out where to park, when sitting at a restaurant, we make decisions based on signs (rules) or lack thereof. It doesn’t say I can’t do this or that, so I’ll do it. It says I can, so I will. It says I can’t so I wont. Some rules we obey because they make sense, others we obey out of fear – paying taxes is one of them for me.

As Americans we love rules! And structure is a good thing, but what does that look like when we act out our faith?

The professing Christian cannot live like this. Yes, we shouldn’t commit adultery and it is a sin, but Jesus expounds on that and says, “love one another”. Am I loving my brother in Christ if I look at him with lust? Am I loving my husband, if I dream he were different or sigh after actors or read books that excite me sexually? Does the Bible then have to specifically say: Do not lust after men. Do not lust after younger men. Do not think of leaving your husband. Do not watch movies that make you think badly about your husband. Do not read books that are sexually explicit. Do not look at magazines where men show off their toned abs. Do not stare at men exercising. Do not compare your husband? The list can go on and on!! Is that what we are saying when we pompously exclaim: “well where does it say that I can’t do that in the Bible?”. Is this what we truly want? More rules.

This is where we clearly see the difference between morality and holiness. Morality demands rules. It needs details. It commands specifics. It is a slavemaster. Holiness, on the other hand, is a way of life. It does not need specifics. It is a life picture. It frees expression. It is a liberator.

The moralist hates the rules, because he wants to enjoy his own pleasure. The saint loves God for He is his highest pleasure.

I am not unaware that in the New Testament there are ways we should live and things that are forbidden and things that are not. But these rules are not there to feed our Pharisaical tendencies. They are there to allow more freedom. Let me explain with an analogy that I give all the time to teens. There are two playgrounds on a mountainside. Both are close to the edge and if you fall from any of them you will die. But one playground has grass around it and a fence all the way around. Where will you have more freedom? The answer: where the fenced one is. Now some of the teens ask: “well can we play on the fence?” and that is the wrong question because you have a WHOLE PLAYGROUND, why do you want to play on the fence? The saint enjoys the playground, swings high and low, runs and bounds, laughs and squeals. She may fall, she may scrape a knee, but she will not die. That is what these boundaries are in the New Testament, they allow for so much more freedom.

We shouldn’t have to ask “where does it say that in the Bible” in regards to rules. Ask yourself, “Am I loving God with my heart, mind and soul” when I do this or think this? And “am I loving this person as myself” when I treat them this way?

Christianity is so much more than a list of do’s and don’ts. It is a way of life that exists on a completely different plane. We are odd because we get excited when God reveals more of himself to us through His Word. We are weird because we love on the ugly, the mean, the depressed, the annoying in very unique and individual ways. We are not normal because we still fawn over our spouses and love being married. We are crazy because we are quick to forgiven and even quicker to ask for forgiveness. We live in a different world. We don’t have the same problems as others. We follow the beat of a completely different and heavenly drum. We feed strangers, we hang out with prisoners, we go to places all over the world, we smile more, we cry more, we laugh more. Our money is spent on others, on Godly knowledge, and on the furthering of His Kingdom. Our family tree consists of people of all tribes and nations, of children abandoned by their biological parents, or widows and of criminals and the insane! We have tons of stories of what God is doing in our lives. Good things, wild things, frightening things! We almost die and laugh at his salvation. We then die and rejoice! Our hope is not in our money, in our children or even in ourselves. It is on the work of what Christ did, it is on Heaven!

You see then how all this is muted if we then ask, “Well where in the Bible does it say I can’t read ’50 Shades of Grey'”. My dear Christian, go ahead and read that filth if you want. I will be over here going to a garage sale with my kids (3 of whom are foster kids), as they buy me 25 cent coffee mugs that say I am a #1 mom. I will be planning out a surprise party for a dear saint. I will be thinking of a way on how to love on a sad friend. I will be memorizing some new verses to help battle temptations. I will be shopping for decorations for a new Crisis Pregnancy clinic. I will be on the floor overwhelmed by the realization of my salvation. I will be peeing in the jungle with a fellow sister in Christ. I will be going to a fun movie and having great conversations with teenagers who struggle to fit in. I will be listening to a great pod cast that provokes me to love God on a higher level. I will be meditating on a delicious verse about God’s love for me. I will be holding the hand of my husband, leaning my head on his shoulder as we listen to our Pastor preach. I will be enjoying the prayers of my daughter as she lays her worries on a very big and awesome God.

Go ahead and play with the mud pies. I will be over here enjoying the sea.

mug

This is a picture of the mug one my foster kids gave me for Mother’s Day last week. He is 8 and his mother has basically abandoned him. Yes, I cried. Yes, he is a darling! And Yes, it was $.25 at a garage sale we went to. 🙂

Be a Star

We’ve all done it. I pull up to the pick up line to pick up my kids from school and I can see my friend in her car waiting also for the bell to ring. Phone in my hand, I send her a text “I’m watching you” and she immediately looks around trying to find me. I have a big grin on my face and we both laugh and wave. It’s fun, we smile and then move on.

Another scene: I get upset at the person who almost ran over my kid in the parking lot. Phone in my hand, I post on facebook how people are so inconsiderate, I get several likes throughout the day, I feel justified in my emotion. It’s informative, I feel better and then move on.

Another scene: My child’s coach benched my kid for her bad attitude. Phone in hand, I post a rant about how it’s about the game not about winning, how some people take their public positions too seriously, and how I am taking my kid out of sports forever because the system is rigged against girls. I get several likes throughout the day. I feel justified in my emotion. It’s passionate, I feel better and then move on

There are so many other examples of these “scenes” I can give! As a very wise woman once told me: “Anna, you feel things very strongly.” Madam, yes I do! Some people call it passion, others soul or having convictions, or just plain emotional. And there is nothing inherently wrong with having strong feelings about true things. But there is something wrong when you have to constantly let someone or, in many cases, everyone know about your feelings.

Our phones are in our hands constantly. Even when my teenager is grounded from his phone, he “just wants to hold it” and know it’s there. Our phones and letting people know everything has become our comfort blanket. The time to sit and pause when we feel something strongly gets shorter every second. Even when our kids do something sweet for us, we don’t even take time to relish in their act of love. Can I confess: I’ve even asked my child to “redo” that act of love so I could post it on line. The beauty of God’s world, the cute things my children do, the romantic whims of my husband, the great Bible study I read, an elevating time during prayer, and even when I am sinning in my anger – I lay out for all the world to see.

Luke 2:19 says, “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart”. Luke interviewed Mary for his gospel (Luke 1:1-3) because there is no other way he would know that she “pondered about things”, unless she told him. What was she pondering? We can only guess. Maybe it was about her delivery of Jesus, about what she though when she held the Savior of the world, about what she felt when the angels glorified Him, what she sensed when she heard the shepherds exclaim in joy and awe, or her gratitude for the gifts of the Magi. These precious moments were private, as many other things should be. We must fight the temptation to post or text quickly. There is nothing wrong with posting cute things, or how the Lord  has blessed you. All I am advocating is that we take the time to treasure these moments in our heart. To ponder over our pain or the unjust done by others and seek out comfort through prayer, through Bible verses and even through sound advice from a trusted sanctifying friend. To think through our persecutions, our trials and our struggles in the light of the Gospel and our testimony. Maybe even to take the time to thank God for those blessings or pray for strength to be a good Christian witness. And maybe, even to talk to our kids and thank them and hug them for not being little heathens that day.

I Thessalonians 4:11-12 says, “. . . aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and . . . so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” When non-believers see our posts complaining, ranting, venting, or “just saying” we run the risk of ruining our testimony.  We fail to act properly. As Christians we should first run to God, our spouse and then maybe to a trusted friend before we tell the world our feelings – especially if we are experiencing strong feelings.

Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Don’t get defensive when another brother or sister corrects you in love.  What a paradox, we want everyone to know what we think, but do not want to hear what others have to say about what we think. Prepare yourself for reproof if you forget yourself while in the throws of passionate reprisals. And we should be careful not to be tempted to get in on an unloving rant, or like the self-righteous post.

My dear brother or sister, I say these things because I am preaching to myself. I am so tempted to share my anger, my joy, my pain, any and all of my feelings. There is no wisdom in this.

Proverbs 17: 27-28 says, “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”

Philippians 2:14-16 says, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.”

“I wish there were less stars in the sky”, said no one ever. Let’s be stars.

 

A Jealous God

As a woman, I am no stranger to jealousy.

There is a difference between jealousy and envy though. Put very simply, jealousy is when something is mine and I hate that you’re using it. Envy is when something is not mine and I hate the fact that you have it. Lately, I have been feeling jealous a lot with my handsome 19 year old spending all his blooming time talking to his little girlfriend. He is mine and someone else is “stealing” his love, attention and smiles from me. (Once he is married, I pray my feelings will change, but until then HE IS MINE, NOT YOURS!)

In my devotional today I came across a word I don’t often hear as a characteristic of God. In Exodus 20:5 it says, “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God. . .” God is a jealous God. He is jealous of what comes before my eyes. He is jealous of what I do with my time. He is jealous of anything that “steals” my affections, my attention and my smiles from Him. Notice it’s not that I spend time with my children; it’s that I enjoy spending time with them more than I do spending time in His Word. It’s not that I love to crochet and listen to music, it is that I love doing that more than I love spending time in prayer – speaking to Him. It’s not that I love trying new foods and visiting new places, its that I enjoy them more than visiting with His people in His church. It is about my affections, or feelings about things that is the problem.

God does not want to compete with my loyalty. But before God can be jealous of what takes His place -this is something I have missed all this time – I first have to be His. Unlike my son who will one day marry and no longer belong to me, I will always belong to God. And He is rightfully jealous of anything that takes priority over Him.

In “Knowing the Living God” Paul Washer writes: “God is jealous in that He will not surrender His claim to that which is rightfully His.” God is not envious of my time spent on facebook. He doesn’t pine away hating that I have more fun with a screen than with Him. He’s is rightfully jealous of it! Why? Because He bought me with a price! Because He made me co-heir! Because He adopted me! Because He justified me! Because He is my owner and I take that for granted and meander into the arms of anything shiny. In a way, I am adulterous! We have all seen it. The wife who has a husband with a wandering eye. How quickly she tries to avert him with anything to keep him from giving his affection away. I am like him, belonging to someone else, placing my eyes on things that do not satisfy. Allowing my love to fleet to other things that continuously let me down. Busying myself in the temporal, the mundane and the finite. Hi, my name is Anna, but you can call me Gomer!!

It is Holy Week and revival week in my church. I have spent the last couple of days really contemplating my affections and what I delight in. Do I delight in His Word? Do I love His Church? Do I enjoy spending time in prayer? Do I rejoice in telling my children, friends and family what He has done in my life? Do I find spiritual things boring? Is my devotional a chore? And if I answer these questions honestly and the answer isn’t the one God would approve, what am I going to do about it?

There is comfort in belonging to Him. I am comforted that He is jealous because if He wasn’t, that would be even more frightening. It would mean I am an orphan (John 14:18). It would mean I am a commoner (Romans 8:17). It would mean I am abandoned.(Hebrews 13:5) It would mean I am alone.(Matt.28:20)  It would mean I am a child of darkness (Acts 26:18) and of wrath (Eph. 2:3). It would mean my father is the devil. (John 8:44) So, I am thankful, He in His mercy, has laid claim to me. But because He has, He perfectly harbors certain feelings because of what I do. He is perfectly and justly  jealous of my affections, and it is I, not Him, that needs to change.

Thankfully, He is also perfectly patient, forgiving, compassionate, loving and longsuffering. He will not abandon me or forsake me. My Father owns me, and knowing that, may I strive not to make Him jealous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Unicorns in the Bible

Originally posted on June 15, 2011

Answers In Genesis had a very interesting article today about unicorns. I didn’t know this, but apparently the word “unicorn” is used several times in the Bible, but in the King James Version. You can read about the article here.

Well this prompted me to look up some verses in the King James and I think I must conclude that the “unicorn” in the Bible isn’t referring to an ox or wild ox, but to a rhinoceros.

The word “unicorn” didn’t always mean  what we now portray as this magical horse with a horn growing out of its head. In the first edition of Webster’s Dictionary 1828 here are the two descriptions given for a “unicorn”:
1. An animal with one horn; the monoceros. The name is often applied to the rhinoceros
2. The sea unicorn is  a fish of the whale kind, called narwhal, remarkable for a horn growing out at his nose.
Notice how there is no mention of a horse or a fantastical being. The word “unicorn” meant just that – animal with one horn.

Just because we today have a connotation with the word “unicorn” it doesn’t mean readers in the 1800’s did back then. Look at the word “gay”. The word “gay” in the 1950’s meant happy. The word “gay” in the 1990’s and now means “homosexual”. And even now I hear teens use the word “gay” to reference something that’s “lame” or “silly” with no reference to sexuality. And that is just in a span of 60 years – much less 400 years!

Also, if the Bible says that it is speaking of an animal that has “one horn”, there is no reason for us to think it is speaking of an animal with two equal sized horns. For example and ox has two equal sized horns. There are two types of rhinoceroses. One with one horn and one with two horns. In Deuteronomy 33:17 the two-horned rhinoceros is the unicorn that the writer (probably Moses) is talking about: “His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”(emphasis mine). Manasseh and Ephraim were brothers and later where tribal names of the children of Israel. And one of the tribes was much larger than the other! Just like the horns of the two-horned rhinoceros.

I believe a rhinoceros is referred to a unicorn because it has just that, one horn.  An ox or a waterbuffalo on the other hand, have two large horns of equal size.

Look at the verse in Job 39:9-10 which says: “Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib? Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee?” This verse speaks about the inability to tame a unicorn. You can tame an ox, but try taming a rhinoceros!

There are other verses in the KJV Bible that could interchangeably use “rhinoceros” or “wild ox” for “unicorn”, but this is just an example of just how awesome God’s Word is. It is vast and deep.
Answers in Genesis is getting a lot of ridicule for what they stand for – that the earth is young and that God made this beautiful earth in literally 6 days and rested on the 7th and not millions of years. The people at AIG are creating a new theme park called The Ark Encounter. And because of this, some skeptics were asking if the “unicorn” would be included since it’s in the Bible. Yes! I do believe the unicorn will be included, but not the ones these people think!

Destroying our Nehushtans

So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. – Numbers 21:9

About 700 years later . . .

He (King Hezekiah) removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan. – 2 Kings 18:4

King Hezekiah was a good king. Verse 5 of the same chapter says this of him: “He trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him.”

I like old things. I love to hear the history of things. An object can seem inanimate until someone tells me the story of how it was made, where it traveled, what it did, and how it got to where it was found. Houses, castles, ships, cottages and cabins all take on a presence when a story is shared about who lived there, who died there, what the walls within “saw”. The same can be said of pictures, especially old pictures. The joy of seeing yourself as a child. The pain of looking at a picture of a loved one long gone. The sigh of a past that didn’t seem so long ago, but really is. Things, bring about in us emotions and feelings and memories that we had forgotten were even there.

God told Moses to make the bronze serpent because like always, the Israelites complained against God and loathed their salvation from Egypt. So God sent fiery serpents to bite them and many died because of this. So the Israelites repented (yet again) and to save them from death all they would have to do is look upon the bronze serpent Moses had made. Later Jesus would refer to this deliverance of death from the snakes, to His own redemptive power over spiritual death (John 3:14)- but that’s another blog.

The name “Nehushtan” wasn’t applied to the bronze serpent until later when it started to be worshiped. When I read 2 Kings and how King Hezekiah destroyed this old relic, I hate to say it, but I felt a bit sad. This inanimate object had a story. It had a 700 year old history. God used it to save His people from death. Moses touched it. It was preserved for centuries. How many people had it saved? How many old mothers and father pointed to this bronze figure and told their children and grandchildren that if it wasn’t for this bronze serpent they wouldn’t be here. This wasn’t just some measly thing to just be destroyed. It was a symbol of something good! And like all my idolatry, it is the good things that God has given me that take His place. Being a good wife, my children, sex, food, wine, money, freedom, social media, tv, music, cell phones, clothes, jewelry, relationships, confidence, my abilities, my looks, knowledge, books, fun, vacations, health, rest – and so much more are all good things God has graciously given; but oh so quickly these and so many more things are what steal my love for God. The Nehushtan was there as a reminder of the grace of God. He rightly was punishing His people, but he showed them grace when they didn’t deserve it.  All the things I have, I do not deserve. They were given to me not because I am good, but because He is good to me. And putting any of those things, no matter how good they are, before God is idolatry – they are my Nehushtans.

So how do we combat and “destroy” our Nehushtans in our lives. First of all, don’t smash anything – including your children – some verses are not meant to be literal. Second, don’t be legalistic and make a list of “don’ts and do’s”. The latter can be a good thing, but for me, I tend to lose those lists and then find loop holes. Jesus summed up 613 laws to two, and I want to do the same.  Love God, and then love others. Love God through what He has given you. Learn and know Him through the access of technology. Skype with lost relatives, feed others and pray together, host strangers and tell them something awesome God is doing in your life, have more sex with your spouse when he least expects it, play a super silly game with your children and tell them about God constantly (Deut. 11:19), make a lot of money and have fun giving to charities you’ve never heard of, assemble the cutest outfit and give it to someone who would look fabulous in it, text everyone on your phone a scripture of encouragement, read a book about who God is and marvel at His majesty, train your spirit and body for a laborious mission trip, listen to music tasting a bit of heaven, message your fb friends with a unique prayer just for them. And the list can go on forever. Bring God into everything  you do (Deut. 6:7, Col. 3:23). Have a good laugh and praise God. Eat a good meal and praise God. Have great sex and praise God. Read a good book and praise God. Have a good conversation and praise God. Sing and praise God. Pray constantly, give thanks constantly, love constantly, praise constantly always remembering that if any of these good things were ever taken away we still have the ultimate good thing – God himself!  And if/when you can’t, my dear Christian, may I suggest that you may be in sin. You may be enjoying something sinful. You may be enjoying  something that you are not meant to enjoy just yet. You may have overindulged and enjoyed something too much. You may committing the sin of idolatry. Pray, seek Scripture and counsel, repent, and live again.

There is so much good God has given us and it is wrong NOT to enjoy them as long as we enjoy God more. And when we do love God more, know God more, and enjoy God more we tend to love people more and better – even our own kids! But something else happens also and that is that all these good things of this world do go strangely dim, in the light of His glory. And I believe the dimmer things get here, the more we yearn for our true home. Which isn’t a bad thing, but yet another good thing.

 

271 Babies

I am currently reading a book called “Gosnell, The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer” by Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer and so far, I really can’t identify the emotions I am feeling. As I read, some moments I’m in an outrage at the lack of oversight of the local health departments or the bigotry against the poor. Other moments I feel crushed at so much death and outright lack of humanity and dignity. Other times I feel hopeless, “will this ever end?”. It’s a great read though and so far I highly recommend it!

I volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center and one day as I was planning out my day there, I picked up a newsletter about “intrauterine instillation”. I had no idea what that was so I read up on it. It is a form of abortion. It is saline or prostaglandin injected through the abdomen into the amniotic sac where in the space of 14-29 hours a pregnancy is terminated by burning the baby inside. You can read more about the procedure  here – don’t worry it’s not graphic it’s just wikipedia. As I read this newsletter, I was informed that these types of abortions still happen. I was completely shocked! I thought saline abortions were used only in the 70’s and 80’s. Although the number has gone drastically down, it is still currently used. Only .1% of abortions are done in this manner making the grand total of deaths by burning 271 – a little less than Queen Mary I of England in the 1500’s aka Bloody Mary! This number is still too high.

Deuteronomy 12:31 says: 
“You shall not behave thus toward the LORD your God, for every abominable act which the LORD hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.

They even burn their children. This last segment in this  verse intensifies their sin . Not only do they do horrible acts, they’re even worse because they burn their children! Not only do we just rip babies apart in utero, we even burn some of them. Like Molech worshipers, in the name of prosperity, we allow our children to be burned alive.

I do believe there is hope though. With the help of the internet, science and social networks, the numbers of these atrocities do seem to be going down. We must inform ourselves, love the lost and desperate, and pray for wisdom in how God wants us to act individually and collectively as Christians.

I found a great website here, if you would like to volunteer your time or donate money to help men and women make informed decisions about their pregnancies and to help save these babies. I also want to encourage you to pray and to set up an alarm on your cell phone that will remind you to pray for these babies and their parents and this sacred cause. I have my alarm set at 10:10 p.m. because John 10:10 says: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Will you join me in prayer? Set up your alarm to ring every night to remind you to stop what you are doing and pray for our children, their parents and the cause. At 10:10 p.m. most of our kids are in bed, some of us are getting ready for bed ourselves and the day is winding down. If you are an early sleeper, could you set the alarm for 10:10 a.m. or forget the 10:10 and set it for a time of day when is most convenient.

via Daily Prompt: Baby

There are spoilers in this post.

I received the Chronicles of Narnia series for Christmas but before I started reading, I looked up on where to start the series because book #1 according to the book set I received was “The Magician’s Nephew”. This book was published in 1955 while the “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” was published in 1950 and it was #2 in the box set. After doing some research, I agreed with one commentator who said to read the series in the order they were published, not in Narnia chronological order. This made sense to me. For more information on where to start in the series, I found this site very helpful.

So my daughter and I, depending if we get ready for bed on time, read about a chapter a night. And we both loved it. She saw the movie before hand though, but that didn’t seem to deter her in wanting to read the book. She actually asked why they didn’t follow the book in the movie if that is what was written. I told her that I didn’t think the movie did that bad of a job compared to others in straying from the book, but either way I was excited that she was able to see the differences and preferred the story told in the book.

The book is for children, but I enjoyed it also. As an older Christian the death of Aslan and the “great exchange” made for the life of the traitorous Edmund reminded me of the exchange of Jesus’ righteousness for my traitorous life. There is a depth to this book that unfortunately my daughter missed, only because of her age and she yet has felt the pangs of her sin. But to me that is okay. She loves Aslan, and was happy when he didn’t stay dead. But I had to fight back the urge to emphasize that Aslan is likw Jesus in this book. Although I believe that is the intention of Mr. Lewis, I also believe there is a delicate balance between spiritual symbolisms in fiction that we must take into account.  Saying Aslan is like Jesus is very different to saying the lamb in the book of Revelation is Jesus. C.S. Lewis was not inspired by the Holy Spirit the same way John was in Revelation or any writer of the Scriptures. And I didn’t want my daughter to confuse that. As for now, she is just enjoying a really adventurous story, if she draws the parallel later on, good for her.

Colorful fiction has a way of pointing out truths differently than black and white non-fiction and because fiction has a tendency to stir feelings and emotions we must be careful that those feelings and emotions are based on truths. Remember the heart is deceitful. So while I will not get my theology from a C.S. Lewis children’s book, I will enjoy the emotions caused by the death and resurrection of Aslan on a different level than my daughter because of the truth I know, and pray she will know soon also.

Recommendations: I recommend this book to older children. The witch is mean though and beats on Edmund and turns cute, furry animals into stone. To any one who enjoys books on magical lands and children’s adventures. This is definitely a great book to read out loud to your family.

To the Christian: I really enjoyed this book, but I really didn’t like that Mr. Lewis used mythological creatures as characters in his book. I found it took away from the “Christian” feel of the story.

 

The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe – Book Review

The Rise of Mommy Porn

Few passages in the Bible are as graphic and sexually explicit as Ezekiel chapter 23. This chapter is full of the details of the depravity of two women – sisters, which represent the nations of Samaria and Jerusalem. I want to comment on this chapter because there is much we can learn from it given the current female movement of “mommy porn”.

Chapter 23 of Ezekiel is an allegory of two sisters named Ohola and Oholibah. I found it very interesting that the names of these women derive from the word “tent” or “my tent” and it insinuates a place of worship. Both these women prostitute themselves and revel in their lust. They are used, abused, and defiled and they seem callous to what these men do to them. Ohola is spoken of first. Her children are taken from her, she is then shamed and then killed with a sword. Seeing how her sister is shamed and murdered, you would figure that Oholibah would learn, but on the contrary, she follows in her sister’s footsteps and becomes even more depraved than her sister and took her degeneracy even further. Through the middle of the chapter God speaks to her and tells her what the consequences are because of her lewdness. Her children are impacted, her body is impacted, her mind is impacted, and ultimately her relationship with God is impacted. This is a chapter full of disgust, sadness, sorrow and death.

I want to focus on Oholibah now and what happens to her. I want to talk about what she does and how she ends up because I believe this allegory of this idolatrous nation, can help us understand what sexual immorality can lead to.

The story of Oholibah begins in verse 11. She sees her sister murdered and doesn’t learn from Ohola’s experience. She sees her children taken from Ohola. She sees the men strip her sister naked and then sees them run her through with a sword. As women, we have also seen it. We have seen the woman who is abused and returns to her abuser. The woman who committed adultery and shattered her family. The woman pursuing love in all the wrong places while neglecting her children. The woman addicted to sex and one-night stands, longing for a true relationship. We have seen it, but what do we do with what we see? Oholibah doesn’t learn and maybe even thinks that what happened to her sister, won’t happen to her. The problem is that she ends up fornicating with the same men that killed her sister! But look at verses 14 through 16. She sees men portrayed on a wall and lusts after them. Women, she is looking at pornography! She sees that they are handsome and virile and she craves them, she wants them, she yearns for them. Ladies! What are our eyes looking at? With books out like “50 Shades of Grey” and movies like “Magic Mike”, the story of Oholibah rings clear. God abhors ANYTHING that causes us to lust, because what is lust but another form of idolatry. So Oholibah sees her pornography and lusts after these men. She goes after them and they in turn release their lusts on her. At first, she seems disgusted in herself. That is what one usually feels at the beginning of any sexual sin. At first it makes us feel dirty, but practice makes perfect and sooner than later, the conviction of the Holy Spirit is gone. Oholibah continues with her mess. She forgets that what she does impacts her children. She even gives up her children to false idols. Her entitlement is more important to her. She feels she deserves to feel free and liberated and it costs her her children. Then after all her fornicating, after all her sin, after she does all her filth, she goes to church – or in this case synagogue. She goes to worship God and doesn’t find Him. She turns to booze and soon becomes depressed. What she thought was her liberation, ended up being her enslavement. The Lord let her destroy herself. He gave her what she wanted and released her to her sin. What is so sad about Oholibah is that she was His. She belonged to our Lord and acted like an unwanted orphan.  She is ruined and becomes desolate. She ends up being murdered also. Ladies, this is serious. What we allow ourselves to let in, impacts us.
I know many might think what harm can a movie or a book make. I have heard plenty of times that Satan’s greatest weapon is to tell people he isn’t real or that sin is no big deal. This is precisely what Satan wants you to think, after all a fictional book is no big deal because it’s not real. Well, pornography isn’t real, but it affects our marriages. TV drama is not real, but affects our youth. Violent video games are not real, but it affects our children. Magazine pictures are not real, but they affect our self-esteem.The list goes on and on. What we view, what we see, what we read affects our hearts and minds. Jesus mentions it several times when He speaks on the inner self. If you hate in your heart, it is murder. If you lust in your heart, it is adultery. If anything replaces your love for Him, it is idolatry.  If you want something that is not yours, it is coveting. What goes on in our heart and mind is excruciatingly important. So much so that it nailed Jesus to the cross.

Ladies, anyone who reads or views this kind of mess unrepentantly and calls herself a Christian is just like Oholibah. She is prostituting her mind and heart. Remember Oholibah means “my tent”. What is our body and mind? It is a dwelling place of the most High.  I Corinthians 6:19 says that we are not our own and our body is His temple.

“50 Shades of Grey” is a depraved romance novel that uses pain and torture as a means for arousal. Is this the equality that women have fought for? To be used and abused for the arousal of a man? Is this supposed to be romantic? Is this how Jesus loved His bride? Just because a woman wrote this book does not mean it is okay to read. And just like Oholibah, this filth impacts your mind, your children and above all your relationship with God.

Ezekiel 23 ends with this warning: “So I will put an end to lewdness in the land, that all women may take warning and not imitate you.You will suffer the penalty for your lewdness and bear the consequences of your sins of idolatry. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign Lord. ”

Let us learn from Oholibah and not imitate her and remember that her despair spiraled out of control when she saw the images on the wall; when she had feasted her eyes on those lewd things. Let us make a covenant with our eyes (Job 31:1) and think of pure things (Philippians 4:8). The risks and the consequences are not worth it.