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Calling All Husbands! (And the wife who supports him!)

Fatherss-day-Bible-Quotes[1]

This father’s day I wanted to take the time to write about the roles of a father in the Christian household. Society would have us believe that the father is no longer a necessary part of the family. That children can be raised just fine without a male role model. In fact, if you really pay attention to the message being portrayed in the media today, it appears as if fathers are complete idiots, incompetent, only good for comic relief. In some cases a harmful hindrance. That the true child rearing and running of the household comes from the capable smart liberated women who does it all. I am NOT stating that women are not capable, or smart. We are, but God’s plan is not for us to be the leaders of the house. His plan is that our husbands are the leaders, the head of our household.

For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Ephesians (5:23 ESV)

It amazes me that even in Christian households many people today don’t prescribe to this. I have heard multiple reasons. From, ‘That was how society used to run, we women are no longer seen as second class citizens.’ To, ‘Well I am not against the whole submitting thing. It works for some, but not our family. I can’t let my husband lead because he is an idiot.’

First off God has not changed. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8-9) His word is just as relevant today as it was in the past. Second, don’t believe the lie that a submissive wife is a second class citizen, or that she is somehow not equal to man. We were created equal. God created man and woman, we are co heirs in heaven. However our positions in the family, here on earth, are not equal; though each are equally important! Third, I would say regardless of whether of not you married an idiot or not, you are to submit to your husband as the head of the household. THIS IS WHY WHO WE MARRY IS SUCH A HUGE DECISION!Now, I really doubt most of us are married to idiots. But if you are, then you still have to submit to his authority. God did not command us wives to submit to our husbands only under certain condition, we are commanded to submit period! This is why we need to talk to our daughters and single women in our lives, preferably from an early age, stressing the need for them to wait for a Boaz to come along BEFORE they say ‘I do.’

Living in a society where the roles of men and women have been drastically bastardized what exactly is the role of a husband?

The first role of the husband is to be the spiritual leader. This is a big responsibility! While each of us have to choose whether we accept Jesus’ gift of salvation, it is the role of the husband and father to take charge. Make sure the family regularly attends a Bible believing church. Leads his family in worship. Encourages prayer and the reading of the word. Can you imagine having this great responsibility placed on you? Can you imagine what it would be like if you did not take this role seriously, knowing that someday you will stand before God, giving an account of your life, having to explain why as a husband and father you did not take this role seriously??? Yes, we all will someday stand in front of our creator giving an account of our lives, but as women, we don’t have the title of spiritual leader placed on us. While I know that God equips men to fulfill the task he has given them, still I am glad I don’t have this responsibility. This is huge! This is definitely one area men should not be lax on! Have you noticed that often times when you observe families today, the wives are in this role. This happens for several reasons. One being the husband is not a believer, and the two are unequally yoked. This is very frustrating, trying to raise godly children in an unequally yoked environment. And while I know many women are doing their best to be the spiritual leader, it will never work as well as if the man is in that role. If this is the case in your home, don’t lose hope and don’t forget you are still to submit to your husband! (As long as what he asks of you does not go against God’s word.)

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behaviors of their wives, (1 Peter 31:1 NIV)

Another reason many men today don’t know how to lead is they were not shown. Perhaps your husband grew up in single family household, or in a household where the ‘woman wore the pants.’ This too can be challenge. It can be frustrating when you want your man to lead, but he does not for lack of knowledge. First, bring this concern to the Lord. Second I would advise you to find a group of Christian men, who are strong in their faith and are willing to mentor and help your husband grow in his walk with the Lord. We all need a Paul, Timothy and Barnabas in our lives. (Paul’s to guide, Timothy’s to mature and Barnabas’ to challenge.)

The number one reason that will ALWAYS prevent a man from taking the lead on the Spiritual development of his family is his lack of relationship with the Lord. We all need daily quite time with the Lord. If your husband is not daily spending time in prayer and the word, he will not be able to lead your family properly. There are lots of ways you can come alongside your husband and help him to accomplish this. One way is to encourage him by offering to wake up an hour earlier and spend time with the Lord together. What a great way to begin each day!

The second role of a man is to nurture and love his wife (family). In fact your husband is commanded to love you as Christ loves the church. (Ephesians 5:25). On that verse alone I am glad I am not a man! Another huge responsibility. The liberated women would have us believe that being a submissive wife is degrading, old-fashioned. That we serve our husbands day in and day out, while they sit in front of the television after a long day at work. That our days filled with housecleaning and child rearing are awful and unrewarding. They would have us believe that we are not truly happy unless we are living for ourselves. First, being a stay at home wife and mother is not old fashioned and degrading. It truly is the most rewarding role we as women will ever experience in this life.

And so train the young woman to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2:4-5 (ESV)

As you just read above, being a homemaker is the role God created us women for. If God’s will is for us to be homemakers, then we will definitely NOT be unhappy in that position. In fact the opposite is quite true. If we are living a life in accordance to His will, then we will be filled with joy and contentment.

If our husbands follow their commandment to love us as Christ loves the church, not only will they too be filled with joy and contentment, but outsiders looking in will see the sacrifices they make daily serving wife and family. People will not look at us and think ‘that poor woman,’ instead they will be envious of us!

Now when I say our husbands are serving us, I don’t mean that we women now have a pass to sit on our rear watching television all day. We still need to pull our weight in order for our families to run proficiently. That is the beauty of it…husband and wife both have to be willing to fulfill their roles to the best of their abilities. When that happens, marriage and family life runs like a well-oiled machine. I don’t have to ask my husband to take care of the house, to mow the lawn, make repairs, and keep the vehicles in running condition. He does these things because this is his responsibility. Above and beyond that he shows his love for me by keeping my gas tank filled. (It may seem like a little thing, but in the five years we have been married I have only once had to pump gas. And that one time was only because he was overseas for two weeks.) Nine out of ten times when we eat out, he allows me to choose the restaurant. When he arrives home after a long day at work, he often does an activity with the kids, so I can have thirty minutes to an hour to myself. When our son was a baby, I never had to ask for help. He changed diapers at all hours, bathed him, put him to sleep, entertained him. In fact there were times I was thankful I was nursing or I might never have had a moment to bond with my son! I could go on and on about the things my husband does to show his love and devotion to me. I am not bragging, my husband is far from perfect…but he is amazing! I am so thankful he takes his role as a husband and father seriously.

Another role of the husband is to be loyal. (Hebrews 13:4) Now this being said, we too are commanded to be loyal to our husbands. When we said ‘I do’ we promised to forsake all others. Don’t believe the enemy when he whispers that ‘the grass is greener on the other side’. Or that men and women cannot be faithful for any of the numerous reasons society would have us believe.

And He answered them and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God had joined together, let no man separate.” Matthew 19:4-6 (NKLV)

We are not animals, we are a separate creation. We did not evolve and we ARE meant to mate with ONE partner for life. We also need to be very careful what we allow into our homes, our minds involving the marriage bed. There is no right or wrong was to make love. That being said, we DO NOT need the aid of objects and/or graphic videos. Contrary to what society would have you believe, sex with the same person does not get old. In fact over time it gets better and better. The only reason we have so many problems is this area of our marriages today is because we have abused God’s creation! Many of us go into marriage already having sexual relations with one or more partners. We think it’s ok to look or  fanticize about being with others, or we allow our husbands to do so thinking it’s innocent. That could not be farther from the truth.

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:28 (NIV)

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV)

For from within, out or the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, Mark 7:21 (ESV)

Just looking at another is considered adultery! And as we can also see here, we cannot trust our heart!

So then how do we do this? How do we stay faithful in our marriages? One is to be in correct relation with God. If our vertical relationship (God) is in proper alignment, then our horizontal relationships, (others) will also be in proper alignment. Another is to daily choose to love our spouses. Love is an action not a feeling. We have to daily choose to love our spouses despite their flaws. (And we all have them!) We also have to invest in one another. One way my husband and I do this is to have regular date nights. We need our children to see that our marriage is a top priority. A date does not have to be expensive. Get creative. Pack a picnic and have a romantic dinner at a park somewhere. If you cannot afford a sitter, or are not in a season where you can get away. (Like right after a new baby comes). Then have a date night on the back patio after the kids are asleep, or in front of the fire-place on a cold winter’s night. Don’t put this off…your marriage relationship is more important than any other, aside from your relationship with God. Be intimate! God is the creator of sex. It is a beautiful thing! Make love as often as possible. If you are making love, you are not fighting and you are sure not thinking about another! If you struggle with intimacy, pray about it. Open up, and talk about it with your husband. This is not uncommon in today’s world! Remember I mentioned above that many of us come into a marriage with ‘baggage’? We need to confess our baggage to our partners and to God, asking God for healing. If we do this, God will break off the soul ties we created by not following his guidelines. Pray often; before sex, during sex, after sex. This sounds wired, I know! But God is already there with us! Our marriage really is a three-way covenant; God, husband, wife. If you try the above steps for healing, despite the awkwardness, the shame you might feel, I guarantee you it will work. There should be no secrets kept from your spouse, just as they should not have any secretes they are keeping from you. While this is hard to do, to share our past with others, who better than your partner, your best friend on this earth? If you do this, open up, be completely honest with one another. (I am not saying give names and dates, but reveal your past sins. If you come to God in prayer as a couple, asking for healing over your marriages intimacy, you will experience a new level of intimacy with your husband you never thought possible!

Another role of the husband is to care for his family. Thankfully most men do this, they work hard to provide for their family’s needs. Even those who don’t perform well in the other areas of a godly man’s role. Single women beware…it is becoming more and more common these days for men to mooch of a woman. Don’t attach yourself to a man like this…run, run and don’t look back! Look for a man who is first and foremost godly, one who loves Jesus! Look for a man who is not just willing to do the minimum, but who goes above and beyond what is expected of him. A man like this is going to be much more likely to find good employment and provide for a family’s needs.

On this same note…there is a part of this caring for the family role where many men today do fail. Not so much the older generation, here I am talking about many of the men who were born mid-seventies to early eighties and beyond. Caring for a family does not only mean that a man provides a roof over their heads and food on the table then call it quits. That once home he check outs playing video games or watching movies for hours upon hours. Not only have I experienced this myself in my past marriage, but I have spoken with countless women who struggle with this. Their husbands come home from work only to check out mentally, disappear into the man cave, perhaps come out when dinner is ready, and then retreat back into the man cave until bed. (Which often is in the wee hours of the morning). This is not a healthy habit! (I will also mention here, that while this is not always the case…many times it is not just video games and movies that our men are engaging in while segregated, they are involved in porn. This is VERY common! My husband has led many men’s small groups over the last several years and a very high number of men struggle with this.) As a whole, we are too connected to our electronics these days. I know this may sound drastic, but I would say in order to have a healthy marriage…get rid of the man cave, get rid of the video games and only watch television/movies on special occasions. There is too much at stake to have it any other way! Just do a little research on the harmful effects of video games. There are several harmful side effects! Side effects not only harmful to adults but to children as well. Which leads me into the other role of a husband.

He is to be a living example. If dad is sequestered in a man cave, then who is being the role model for your children? Who is teaching the children how to do basic home repairs? Basic car maintenance? How to do yard work? This may sound trivial, but there are so many men today who don’t even know how to change a flat tire on their vehicle. On those rare occasions that a flat does occur, they have to depend on others to bail them out. Some would argue that men don’t need to know these basic skills, especially if they have the money to hire these things done. It’s not about the money. My husband could easily afford to hire lawn care service, pay to have someone do all our household repairs, and to our car maintenance. There is something to say about men (and women) having these skills. Once when moving cross-country we had three flat tires, two on our camper and another on our truck. I was so glad to know my man could fix it! There was something so comforting about knowing that he was taking care of us, that he did not have to pick up the phone and call another man to ‘rescue us’. My husband does not come home after a long day’s work and sit on the couch watching television. He is working in the yard, on the vehicles, repairing stuff around the house. Doing projects I request of him, spending time with the kids; passing these skills onto the next generation. He takes us to church events, small groups and Bible studies. Go’s to our children’s extracurricular events. On the weekends we often go on day trips exploring the world around us. It is a rare occasion that he actually gets any ‘him time.’ He sacrifices so that we are fulfilled. Which goes back to the first commandment he has. (Ephesians 5:25). He is to love us as Christ loved the church.

Our society wants us to believe that our husbands not only have it easier, but are not capable. This could not be farther from the truth. While our roles as defined by God’s word are different, I do not think for one moment that my role is harder than that of my husbands. I don’t want his role…I was not made for his role. Just as you were not made for your husband’s role as head of the house. If you are the one who ‘wears the pants’ in your household I challenge you to release your control and allow your husband to take his place as head. Many women are afraid to do this, for fear that their husbands will make a mistake. Guess what…they will! Are you perfect? Have you never made mistakes in the past? Unless he fails, how will he learn? Unless you let go of your control, how will you learn to fully trust God? God will not allow our families to come to harm, over a mistake our husbands made, IF WE ARE OBEDIENT in our roles. Sure it might be uncomfortable, but true harm will not come to us. In fact, the opposite will happen. If we allow our husbands to be the leaders of the home, God will bless us! This is hard…I know, especially those times we know, just know that our husbands are making a mistake. But if we gracefully allow him to do so, (don’t nag, don’t rub it in his face), then we are going to be blessed in the long run. And the truth of the matter, while yes, our husbands will make mistakes, just as we do, more times than not they will make the correct decision for our families; especially if they are seeking God’s council! If you let go, and let him lead, you will find that you were not made to be the leader…the head. That your days will be filled with much more joy and peace than when you were trying to ‘kick against the goads’ and do things your way. (Acts 26:14)

We may not be in the lead, but our role as helpmeet is no less important! Our husband’s success is tied to us, and our position as wives. Without our support, our husbands could not succeed. So don’t ever believe that you are just a wife, mother, and homemaker. You are so much more! That being said, without fathers in the house, (this includes fathers who are physically around, but mentally checked out), look at these statistics.

Fatherless Home Statistics

63% youth suicides come from fatherless homes

85% of children with behavior disorder come from fatherless homes

80% of our rapist come from fatherless homes

71% of all high school drop-outs come from…yes you guessed it fatherless homes

70% of youth institutions are filled with children from fatherless homes

90% homeless and runaway come from fatherless homes

75% of people in chemical abuse centers (to include adolescents) – fatherless homes

85% of youth in the juvenile system come from a fatherless home

27% higher chance of child abuse in a fatherless home

53% chance that girls from a fatherless home will marry as teens with a 92% divorce rate

71% chance to have teen births

Instead of degrading our men, talking down about them and to them, we should be lifting them up, encouraging them with words of praise! Helping to equip them to fill this role that only they as men can fill! Don’t believe the lies that society would have you to, that fathers are old-fashioned and not a capable or necessary part of the family unit. As we can see from the statistics, fathers are so very, very important!

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Ephesians 4:29 (NKJV)

Let your husband know how much you appreciate him and all he does for you and your family; not just today, on Father’s day, but every day!

 

 

Pause to Remember

Memorial-Day[1] 

“When you get settled somewhere, you write me,” Mary said as we sat in her truck just out font of the bus depot. “Promise me you’ll write. I want to know you’re ok. And if things don’t work out, you let me know, and we’ll get you home.”

“I promise I’ll write,” I replied. “Thank you for the ride and for everything, Mary. The truth is, I don’t know how I would have survived all these years without your friendship.”

She smiled, and I could tell she was holding back tears. “Good luck, Anne.”

I nodded then opened the door. I stepped out and, quickly closing the door, I ran for cover. I was glad Mary had offered to give me a ride because she was right, it had begun to rain on our drive into town, and it was not pouring. Once under cover, I turned around. She waived as she drove off, and I waived back. When I could no longer see her truck, I entered the bus station. An older man was sitting in a chair nearest the door. His head was back, and his eyes were closed-most likely sleeping. Three young boys in uniform were waiting for a bus as well. They looked to be sixteen, maybe seventeen years old. They were all talking and laughing, having a good time. I wondered if they had any idea what they were about to experience. Would they return home alive or in a box like Eric? I took a deep breath and held in my tears at the thought of Eric. I hadn’t said goodbye to him or Mama. I hadn’t thought to ask Mary to take me by the graveyard. Of course, in this rain, it wouldn’t have been a good idea. I would most likely get sick…. (Excerpt from Box of Treasures.)

 

Thank you to all the ‘Eric’s’ who sacrificed your lives for our freedom!

While we are swimming, barbecuing, and enjoying all the other Memorial Day festivities this weekend with our friends and families, let is puase to remember the greatest sacrifice of all; Jesus Christ. Without His sacrifice on the cross for our sins and His resurrection three days later, we would have no hope! Nor would we know his love, joy and peace. He was the ultimate sacrifice! It’s only because of Jesus that we in turn can learn to live our lives sacrificially.

Animal Sacrificed Insufficient

For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrificed, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

Christ’s Death Fulfills God’s Will

Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come-In the volume of the book it is written of Me-to do Your will, O God.’”

Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.

Christ’s Death Perfects the Sanctified

And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrificed, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He has offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He has said before. This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

Hold Fast Your Confession

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

The Just Live by Faith

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But recall the former days in which, after you were Illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:

For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but it anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”

But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.

Hebrews 10 (NKJV)

 

 

 

To the mothers…

tumblr_or6zpzTbnc1u342cjo1_500[1]To the mother like…

Eve, who has failed in one aspect or another, and the entire ‘world’ knows. Who got up and started anew, pushed on and persevered despite your failures and all the ‘family drama’…keep your head up, you are not who enemy says you are…you are the mother of life and without you nations would not even exist.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10 (ESV)

Sarah (Genesis 11:30, 21:1-2), Rebekah (Genesis 25:21), Rachel (Genesis 29:21, 30:22) Samson’s mother; unnamed, (Judges 13: 1-3) and Hannah (1 Samuel 1:5-6, 20), all the women who wanted nothing more than to hold a child in your arms. It may have been a short journey of only a few years or it may have been a long, tough, hard several years…but on this day you now hold your promised child in your arms! Congratulation on your first mother’s day! Hold tight, cherish these moment, they truly are fleeting!

… “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel is preached to you. 1 Peter 1:24-25 (NKJV)

To the Mary’s whose life sure did not go as you imagined. Despite your circumstances, your faith is strong and you trust God. You had several happy years with your child…but in the end you lost him/her much too early. Whether your child fought an illness or was taken without warning, you would have gladly and willingly taken that cross. This earth will never be the same, you will always have a void in your heart for the child no longer by your side. Don’t lose faith! God is in control and he loves you and he too knows the pain of losing a child.

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uniformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not proceed those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NIV)

Bathsheba, you too know loss…the heartache of losing your baby. The headache of a promise that never came to be…or was here, but only for the blink of an eye. The wondering of whom your child was to become, the missing piece in your heart. God hears your cries, he knows your heartache…lay your burdens at the cross and let him heal you. It won’t happen overnight and you will never forget, but over time it you will learn to move on. And don’t be afraid to share your testimonies, to help other mother’s deal with the pain and loss.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4 (NIV)

Or perhaps you’re a Ruth, your life has taken many unexpected turns. You thought you had your happily ever after and then tragedy stuck. God never forsook you! He was with you as you cried your tears, then through the healing process, and the journey as life continued on. Then your redemption, as God gave you a new start…a new chapter…and with your “Boaz” you now hold new life in your arms…LIFE…without Ruth the light of the world would never have arrived.

Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name off the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.” Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. Mat the LORD make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah to be renowned in Bethlehem, and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the LORD will give you by this young woman.” So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son. Ruth 4:9-13 (ESV)

Rahab, who is known by all as a harlot…perhaps you can relate, your past seems to follow you wherever you go. Don’t listen to the enemy…you know who you are in Christ! You are not your past, you are a daughter of the most high God! Don’t ever forget that scarlet tassel you hung from your window which was once used to lure men into your place of business, but no longer does it stand for that! Scarlet like blood…you are washed white by the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross…and you too are linked in his lineage!

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. Isaiah 1:18 (ESV)

Gomer (Hosea 1:1-11, 3:1-5) and the unnamed woman with the jars of oil (2 Kings 4:1-7) whose life took turns and paths you never expected. You are a single mothers, trying your best to provide for your children. Keep your head up and don’t lose faith. God hears your prayers, he knows your struggles. Know your salvation is coming…perhaps though your own Hosea or even ‘oils’…remember this is only a season, it too shall pass.

But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)

To the mothers who were not ready to become mothers, yet found themselves in a difficult place with a difficult decision to make…despite your circumstances, what the world would tell you to do, you choose life. You carried your child for nine short months and then in love let them go. You are no less of a mother. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise! Hold your head up…what great love you have putting your child first, sacrificing your wants and desires.

A sword was brought, and Solomon ordered, “Cut the baby in half! That way each of you can have part of him.” “Please don’t kill my son,” the baby’s mother screamed. “Your Majesty, I live him very much, but give him to her. Just don’t kill him.” 1 Kings 3:24-26 (CEV)

And lastly to the mothers who never held a child in their womb…but opened their arms, hearts and homes to the orphan…what a beautiful picture your life is of truly living out the gospel! We are all adopted sons and daughters into the kingdom of God.

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – John 1:12 (NIV)

Whether you’re an Eve, Ruth, Mary, Rahab or any of the other woman mentioned above; perhaps even a mix of several…motherhood is hard…and despite your circumstances you wake up each morning, laying down your wants, your desires and many times even your needs, sacrificing all for your children. Take some time today to pause from your busy life, to look and see all that God has blessed you with…thank him for this season no matter how crazy, hard, tiring, wonderful it is. For this season, this life we have will soon be gone. (1 Peter 1:24-25)

Always remember no matter the season, the passing of time…you have hope! (1 Peter 3:1-6)

You have a savior who never leaves or forsakes you. (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5-6)

Who loves you with unconditional love. (John 3:16)

Who champions you and provides for your every need. (Philippians 4:19)

How awesome a God we serve that he allows us to be the mothers of his most precious creations for the short time we walk this earth! It is a privilege and an honor to be a mother…and yes, it is a huge responsibility! One that you have been ordained for since the foundation of the earth! Never forget that you are valued and you are loved by God!

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand-when I am awake, I am still with you. Psalm 139:13-18 (NIV)

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

 

Labor of Love

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In honor of cesarean awareness month, I decided to share my birth story. To do so I need to take you back to when I was in high school. I did not struggle with fertility like many women do, nor like many others did pregnancy come easy for me. In fact, I was told at the age of 15 that I would most likely never conceive, and if I did, that the pregnancy would end in a miscarriage around or before the seven week mark.

This news was heartbreaking for me! I was not born with any condition that would have prevented me from having children. I should have been able to have children, however at a routine checkup about 6 mos. earlier that year I was given a “dirty” hepatitis vaccine. I would not have even known that I was now ‘infertile’ at that point in my life had I not seen the short story on the local news late one night, in which the Hepatitis vaccine was being recalled. Those who received the HEP B vaccine in certain regions during certain dates were told to go to their doctor for a blood test to see if they were infected. I just knew I had been infected…I can’t explain it, I just knew. So after pestering my mother for several days, she made an appointment to take me to our family physician. Sure enough I had received one of the ‘dirty vaccines’ containing an antibody which caused infertility.

Not only was I heartbroken…I was devastated. All I ever wanted to be was a mother. This is what I aspired to be from a very young age. I never wanted a career, I wanted to be a mom! In school whenever they would ask ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’, my answer was a mom. And I wanted six children, yes six! I even had names picked out, three boys, and three girls. (Like I could choose the gender of my children even if I could pop out babies left and right!) But that was my dream, and then it was over, just like that.

Years passed, I grew up, went to college, met and married my first husband. The first years following my marriage, age 21 to almost 26 were tough; some of the hardest for me. This is when many of our friends, family and co-workers also got married and started families. Babies were everywhere! If a friend from high school or college contacted me…it was to announce a pregnancy. I did not have the ‘always a bridesmaid, never a bride’ problem, mine was a ‘throwing a baby shower, never a mom’ problem.’ Each time an announcement was made all the emotions that I had pushed away years ago came back up to the surface. While I was truly happy and rejoicing for all my friends who were having babies, I was also hurting. A pain I cannot even describe.

Two years into our marriage my husband wanted me to see a fertility specialist, thinking something could be done. I didn’t want to go, I did not want to hear ‘no’…I was not sure I could handle it. I just wanted to start the adoption process and skip this step all together. But eventually I agreed and we went to see one of the best fertility specialists in the nation. The tests came back…I had the antibody and high levels of it. My chances of conceiving and keeping a pregnancy were slim to none. However they were starting a drug trial at this time that I qualified for. I opted out…I wanted a child more than anything. But even with the drugs the doctors told me it was highly unlikely I would have success. Not to mention the fact that this was a trial. They had no idea what, if any, side effects there would be to me long or short-term. Or to the child, if in fact it worked.

So that was that…back to adoption…which is a story for another time. However it happened, and in May of 2005 I brought home my beautiful daughter! Years passed…life happened. My first marriage ended in divorce. In 2012 I met my current husband and we were married in 2013. When we met I told him I could not have children, and he said he was ok with that. If children were a top priority then he would have gotten married years earlier. (He is much older than I). That he was happy with our family, just the way it was.

Well…God with his sense of humor, had other plans!  March of 2014 we went on vacation. Towards the end I was not feeling well. When we got home, I was definitely sick, spending the next several days in front of the porcelain throne. I figured I had picked up a bug while we were on vacation. One morning while at the toilet once again, my husband informed me that he made an appointment to take me to the doctors for a pregnancy test. I remember thinking he was crazy! He knew I could not have children, why did he set up an appointment for a pregnancy test? I did not want to go, but after being very sick for over a week now I figured I would go. The doctor could do the silly pregnancy test and then when it came back negative he could write me a prescription for some drugs to help me get over this stomach bug.

The test came back positive. Of course I figured they messed up somehow, I still was not convinced that I was pregnant. Because of my condition I was immediately sent the following day, to the very same fertility specialists I had seen years earlier with my first husband. They did a round of tests and they were baffled…how was I pregnant? I had high levels of this antibody that causes infertility and miscarriage coursing through by blood and I was twelve weeks pregnant! I left that office, once again in denial. Part of the denial was to protect myself from heartache. For this was not my first pregnancy…I had been pregnant 3 times in the past. Once with my ex and twice with my husband. But just like the doctors had warned me, all three were lost between five and seven weeks. Each time, I had been so excited…only to be devastated and heartbroken when I lost my babies. I could not handle loosing another baby. Each time the loss became harder and harder to deal with.

This pregnancy continued. I was monitored closely, put on the high risk list, but other than severe, severe, severe, morning sickness that lasted most of my pregnancy, all went well. Better than well. Besides the morning sickness, I had no complications and my baby was growing and healthy. Only after I began to show at about four months, did I even believe I was pregnant. (Up until then, I was still in denial).

I gave my life to Jesus when I was fifteen…and after a series of events that same year, the infertility included, I pushed God away. In my mind he was an angry God, sitting up in heaven waiting for me to mess up so he could strike me down. It was not until I met and married my second husband that we returned to church. It was at that time, for the first time in my life, I realized just how much God really loved me. I was at a LIFE conference having the chains and bondage of my past broken off me, when I felt my baby move inside me for the very first time. I remember looking down at my small belly…realizing that I was pregnant. There was a life growing inside me. This pregnancy was different, I was not going to lose this baby. God had healed me and my dream of birthing a child was coming true.

I say birthing, not becoming a mother, because remember I had adopted my daughter years earlier. And it was her that God used to make me a mom, to fulfill my dream of becoming a mother. And while having her filled that void of being a mother, in my heart, as a woman I still did not feel whole, complete. I felt broken…I could not fulfill the purpose God created me for. I could not go forth and multiply. I would never know what if felt like to carry a child inside my womb, to go through the pain of childbirth or nurse a child at my breast. It was not about having a child that was mine by blood. I have to remind myself that my daughter was not born from me, SHE IS MINE. I love her just as much as I love my son. Her story of how she came to be mine is just as amazing. My longing was for the actual birth experience. It was for my daughter as well. She would never have any siblings. Nor would she be able call me when she was grown, married and expecting. If she had questions about pregnancy and birth she would have to call her mother in law…and selfishly, I wanted her to be able to call me.

But…I was pregnant…God had given me this desire to experience birth and now he was fulfilling it! All those years I had believed the lies of the enemy, that I could not have children. Yet here I was, pregnant. I had believed the enemy over God. No more, I decided! I was no longer going t0 believe the lies of the enemy. I was going to believe in the promises of God. From that point on I was excited. I began watching birthing videos, researching births and my options, taking classes. I decided early on I wanted a natural birth, no drugs, no intervention. If I was going to do this, I was going all in. We hired a doula and found a OBGYN who worked with midwives.

When we found out we were having a son, we purchased all the items we would need, set up his nursery and waited. Waited….waited…waited….I thought perhaps he would never arrive. He was 18 days overdue. And while that does not seem like a lot, at the end of your third trimester you are ready for the baby to evacuate!

On top of my son deciding he was very comfortable and was not in any rush to leave the comforts of my womb, my midwife took a position in another state, leaving just three days before my due date. I could not blame her, it was a career opportunity she could not pass up…still I wanted to keep her in town until after my son was born. I meet the other midwives and I just was not at all comfortable with them…we did not connect. So I thought, alright…we go with the doctor. I had seen him a few times over the course of my pregnancy. But…as Thanksgiving was here, my doctor was on leave. Now I was panicking…now I WANTED my son to stay inside. I did not want to have him until my doctor came back on duty. Problem was, he was out for a couple of weeks and because I was so late, the hospital was pushing for me to schedule a cesarean. NO, NO CESAREAN. I had done enough research to know I did not want a cesarean if at all possible.

Thankfully my doula had some connections and last-minute she got me connected with a doctor who was willing to take me on this late in the game. He was two and a half hours away, but as he and the hospital he worked with pushed natural births I was all about it. So we packed up, and went on a baby- cation. Tuesday of that week, I had a five p.m. appointment with the new OBGYN. We talked and he examined me. And we decided to induce. This was something I was not looking forward to! I really wanted to have a natural birth and I heard that the Pitocin made the pains unbearable. He told me once the contractions began, they would cut off the Pitocin, so I agreed. The induction was scheduled for 10 am the following morning. After the appointment, we went out to dinner…our last dinner as a family of three.

Ten p.m. that night my contractions started. They were bearable, so I did not say anything to my husband as I wanted him to sleep. I however did not get much sleep, maybe four hours, as the contractions got stronger and more frequent throughout the night. Around 8 a.m. the next morning my husband found me in the bathroom of the bed and breakfast where we were staying, bent over in pain. He wanted to call the doctor…I said no, not yet. It is way too early…you don’t go in until your contractions take your breath away and I was still coherent…could carry on a conversation. So he waited, but not long. While we were having breakfast with the family who ran the B&B the contractions really ramped up. So just before 10 am that Wednesday morning, we were on our way to the hospital.

I was immediately placed in a room, which I was thankful for, as the lobby through which we entered was full of people, and after having two rounds of contractions in front of them, I was ready for some privacy. I had an option for water labor, so I took it. I could not wait to get into the warm bath for by now the labor pains were crazy hurting. Not long after I entered the tub, I remember hearing a couple of nurses whispering with my doula and husband saying that this labor was going to be fast, that by lunch we should have a baby. I was 8 1/2 cm dilated at this point. A 2 hour labor…I could handle that. Oh how wrong they were!

Twelve hours later and one broken bed… (Yes I broke a bed. I was one of the ‘lucky’ ones who get to experience back labor, and during a really, really painful contraction, I broke the footboard off the bed,) I was begging for pain relief. Now back when I was ‘planning’ my labor, this was a no, no for me. I wrote it down on our birth plan, and had a copy for each nurse. I even made posters to the effect that under no circumstances was I to be given an epidural. But after laboring for 24 hours at this point with little sleep, and no food, I was exhausted! Thankfully my husband, doula and hospital staff ignored my insane request and the drugs were administered.

Oh my…labor without pain…it was wonderful! Now I questioned why I even bothered to try a natural birth! (Though all said and done, I will be going for a natural experience with any future children God blesses us with.) I was able to rest a bit at this point, but not sleep. Then five hours later, after another check from the doctor he sat down with my husband and me. I was still only 8 ½ cm dilated, not progressing. Our son was face up, and estimated to be 10 plus pounds. We could try to push, see what happens, with a possibility of the baby getting stuck in the birth canal, which would end up in an emergency cesarean, and also a big change of broken collar-bone(s) for baby. Or we could just make the choice to do the cesarean while things are still stable; for at this point baby was still doing well on the monitor.

I just looked at my husband and said “let’s get this baby out!” I was exhausted, I had no energy whatsoever to push. And although I wanted to experience a ‘normal’ birth, I was ready to have this baby. So we prayed together, all three of us as the doctor was a believer, and then we called our small group members and the prayer team at our church so that during the surgery I was covered in prayer as well.

This was not how I pictured the birth of my son, this was not my plan. But I also knew that God was with me and that for reasons unknown to me, this was his plan. In that moment when I should have been filled with fear knowing I was about to go through a major surgery, his peace flowed through me. So at 3:00 a.m. on a Thursday morning, I went in for the cesarean. The staff was amazing, our doctor was amazing! My doula was amazing…the entire labor, but especially during the surgery, for she also became babysitter to our daughter. I have to say even though surgery was not the route we wanted, the experience was amazing. The room was calm, peaceful and God’s presence could be felt.

It was such a relief when my son was born to know the labor was over. He was perfect, strong and healthy! And not quite ten pounds, but at 9lbs 7oz he was still a big baby. I meanwhile lost a lot of blood, and the doctor was having a hard time getting the bleeding to stop. I kept hearing him calmly say to his assistants, ‘push more of this medicine (I don’t know the name) the bleeding won’t stop.’ And then he would say to me ‘How are you feeling, are you still with us, don’t nod off, talk to me.’ Well at some point I did fall asleep, for a couple of hours later I woke, still very groggy in the recovery room with my son already nursing. The doctor obviously stopped the bleeding! The next morning, just hours after the surgery the doctor then recommended I have a blood transfusion. I opted out, I did not want one. Yes, I was extremely tired and so very weak, still I had done enough research to know a transfusion was not something I wanted. So I remained in the hospital until 7 p.m. Monday evening. And talk about painful…that ride back home was something else. Every bump or shake in the road was excruciatingly painful! The two and a half hour ride became a four-hour ride as my husband was driving as carefully as he could to make it less painful.

Then came the physical recovery from surgery. That too was long and painful! I don’t know how some women return to work after only 8 wks. for it was a good 18 wks. until my pain was gone. Even then for the next six months or so I sometimes felt sharp pains. The emotional recovery was not as bad as I thought it would be. I had head stories from others that they had regrets. I did not have any regrets. I had given it my all. And though my son’s birth did not go according to what I had planned, in the end we were both healthy. I know that for us the right decision was made. I don’t even mind my scar…in fact I love it! Each time I look in the mirror it reminds me of the miracle my son is, that God took what the world branded a barren woman and did ‘the impossible.’  I even hope that someday when I receive my new body, just like Christ kept the scars from his crucifixion, that I too will be able to keep the scar from my cesarean.

Doctors are still baffled as to why my pregnancy was successful. But I wasn’t…after years of pushing God away, I was now drawing close. When I drew close, blessings were unleashed!

You shall serve the LORD your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you. None shall miscarry or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. Exodus 23:25-26

Nothing is impossible for out God. (Luke 1:37) And the biggest blessing was God’s timing. Boy was I mad at God years back when I was ready for a baby and could not have one. Even with the adoption, I wanted it on my time schedule! Now knowing what I know, looking back at my past, where I was and where I am now, God’s timing is perfect, and his blessing is complete!

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! Psalm 27:14

I also have peace, knowing that someday I will get to meet the babies that I lost. That right now they are home, with God. And while I don’t fully understand why they were taken, I do know that ultimately God will use their loss for his glory!

And lastly, if you or someone you know is struggling with infertility, mediate of this…

He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD! Psalm 113:9

What a beautiful verse and message to women…your bareness is just for a season; God will make the barren woman a joyous mother! He WILL fulfill your desire to become a mother. It may not be the way we expect or want…it will be better! For God made us, and he knows what is best for us. Draw close to him so the blessings he has for you may be released. Don’t trust men over God, believing the lie the enemy is speaking into your life. Remember all things are possible with God! (Matthew 19:26)

 

 

Just Passing Through

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I have lived in nine states, (seven really, two of the states on two different occasions.) Nineteen different homes, as well as three hotels for a period of three to six months while in transition. In the first grade I attended four different schools that year. My family just completed another long distance move, this one the farthest by far at just over two thousand miles. Moving is not a new thing for me, I am used to it, and yet each time we move, I whine and complain.

I don’t like having to “start over”. Having to find a new church home, make new friends (for me and now my children as well). Also depending on where we are moving, I am not always excited about the climate; which is the case in our latest move. I don’t “do” snow! It’s not that I don’t want to meet new people, I love people, I am and have always been a “people” person. I thrive on social interaction. The problem I have is being taken from my comfort zone. It seems as soon as I get accustomed to a new place, make friends, settled into a church; the Lord always moves us. And when I mean move I don’t mean just down the street…I mean thousands of miles.

Ok…so it’s not necessarily God’s fault. Let me clarify. Growing up we moved each time my father got promoted and now my husband is in the military. Yes, I did know when I married my man that moving would be involved…still, I don’t like it!

On the plus side I have been exposed to different cultures. My best friends have always been of other ethnicities. I don’t plan it that way, it just happens, but it is neat to learn about other cultures. I am exposed to different foods. Some really good, like loaded bar-b-q baked potatoes in Alabama. Others I can do without…like Big Red…sorry San Antonio…I just don’t get that one; way, way, way too sweet for me! However I do love the tamales! Or why is Provolone and American cheese (which AM cheese to me does not really count as real cheese) so popular in Pennsylvania? I am a cheese lover, but provolone and American…come on you have to expand your palate!?

At times I have been forced out of my socioeconomic bubble. And while it’s uncomfortable, it is eye-opening, and a good reminder of just how privileged I am. Living in the United States we tend to think of poverty as a third world problem, and yet it is right here all around us. If we had chosen to live in a comfy middle class suburb instead of downtown Montgomery, Alabama or San Antonio, Texas our family would have missed out on all the opportunities we had to minister to the homeless. It’s easy to ignore the problem when you don’t see it on a daily basis, not so much when it’s in your face. Especially when the “problem”, really is NOT a problem…it’s a person with soul, a story and needs.

Just as the song America the Beautiful describes I have seen those amber waves of grains when passing through the plains states, I have crossed the purple mountain majesties, seen the fruited plains, experienced the spacious skies. I have placed my feet in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans seeing with my own eyes sea to shining sea. And while I have not yet experienced every state in the US…it’s pretty close. (Of course this includes my travels, not just where I have lived.)

Still as I was driving through the Appalachian Mountains most recently…in prayer…as it had begun to snow and I was following behind my husband who was in the vehicle in front of me, travelling at high-speed as I was trying to keep up. The kids were both asleep in the backseat and I could not get good radio reception so I was using the time to talk to God. Or rather I should say whine and complain. I was feeling sorry for myself…I was also sort of mad. You see I don’t do heights very well and just two days earlier we drove over several high bridges; now I was driving through the winding mountain roads, in snow as I just mentioned. (And like I said earlier, I don’t “do snow”) I was not too happy that God was “testing” me, let alone moving me across country. Moving and testing me! Why could I have not been born and raised in one place? In that moment I would have been very happy to be ignorant of my location. I was wishing for a pair of blinders, like horses wear, so that I could not see the long drop down the side of the mountain just feet from where we were traveling. In my time of complaining God spoke to me saying “Look around.”

Hesitantly I did…I say hesitantly because I really did not want to see just how high up I was at the moment. But I did look…and I saw…I saw the beauty of God’s creation. The snow-capped mountains. The valley. Even in its fallen state how magnificent this world is, how amazing it is! Suddenly this peace came over me, and immediately I realized just how silly I was being; letting fear creep in and steal this moment for me. God was not going to let me drive off the side of a mountain (or a bridge.)

As I continued to drive looking at the wonder of God’s creation all around me, I realized just how blessed and privileged I really am. I have several friends and family members who were born and raised in the exact same place they are now raising their families. Yes they travel from time to time, but usually it’s a trip to Disney or a local beach only a few hours away. And while there is nothing wrong with that scenario, if I am being completely honest, I myself would get bored living in the same house/town for my entire life.

And besides the boredom factor, had I not moved so many times, I would have missed out on all the experiences mentioned above, as well as the people. Most of the people I connect with, that relationship only lasts for the duration of my stay in that place. However each time I move to a new place I form a bond, usually with two to three women, that no matter the time or distance when we see each other again we pick up right where we left off. Those forever friends that are so precious and rare. And I have several of them, all over the US! Each one enriches my life in her own unique way. If I had not moved, I never would have had the honor of meeting and getting to know each of those precious ladies.

And the reality is, who cares if moving makes me uncomfortable? Jesus never promised that this life would be comfortable or easy. In fact he says the opposite.

‘Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his live will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26 ESV

The cross is a symbol of crucifixion, one of the slowest and most painful ways a person can die. And Jesus tells us to pick up our cross and follow him? Does not sound like much fun. In following Jesus, my life has not gone at all how I would have planned or chosen for myself. At times I am stretched beyond what I think I am capable of. I have gone through trials I would rather not have gone through, and yet looking back over my life, seeing where I am today, Jesus knew (and knows) exactly what I need. He knows what is best for me.

So if taking up my cross means I am going to have to step out of my comfort zone and move every couple of years, well that is an easy decision. Much easier when compared to what Jesus experienced on his cross!

Besides with each move comes the opportunity to share the gospel. Especially here in my “new home” where less than 6% of the population call themselves evangelical Christians. (2% in my town). Where non-believers and Muslims are the majority…what an opportunity to be salt and light!

And in that moment while driving through the mountains God reminded me of one more thing. No matter how beautiful or amazing this world is…this is NOT my home; Earth is NOT our home…we are simply just passing through!

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions-is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whosoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17 ESV

I have given then your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. John 17:14 NIV

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:1-4

For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrificed are pleasing to God. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things… Hebrews 13:14-21 ESV

So the fact that I don’t “have a home”, or that I don’t “have roots” like many people do on this earth is not necessarily a bad thing. I am pretty sure I have an advantage of understanding this concept of earth is not our home, much better than someone who is settled and secure in a community in which they were born and raised. I look forward to the day when I do have a home, because that home will never fade, it will be eternal and best of all it will be with Jesus!

 

Eggs, Bunnies, Chocolate and Jesus???

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Eggs, Bunnies, Chocolate and Jesus???

It saddens me each time I walk into a store during this season and see all the isles filled with Easter baskets, eggs, candy, bunnies and other items. What do eggs, bunnies and chocolate have to do with Jesus? NOTHING! All are pagan symbols dedicated to the pagan goddess Ishtar, Eostre, or Astarte; this is where our traditions of Easter come from. While I expect to see the stores filled with these items each year what really saddens me is that the church and true believers accept and practice these traditions right alongside unbelievers.

Many times we dress up, have egg hunts, enjoy a big meal with family and friends, and go to a church service assuming we are doing all this to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Easter has nothing to with Jesus…absolutely nothing. When celebrating Easter one is actuality celebrating the goddess of sex! Do some research yourself…Does not seem so cute and innocent when you know the truth does it? And it’s not cute or innocent. The pagans of the past would rise up early to observe the sun rising in the east. They would have a big feast; ham being traditionally the main course. The children would hunt for brightly colored, decorated eggs that supposedly came from divine rabbits; hence the Easter bunny. If you did even deeper, they had some pretty disgusting practices that went along with the other traditions as well. Though we may not be taking as far, participating in some of the other appalling practices that the people of the past did, we are still participating and in truth the description of their holiday festivities does not sound all that different from how we as a culture celebrate Easter today does it?

So what does the Bible say about this?

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8 ESV

“When the LORD your God cut off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? – that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.” Deuteronomy 12:29-32 ESV

“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to become once more? You observe days and months and seasons and yeas! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.” Galatians 4:8-11 ESV

Clearly God does not want us to conform to this world and celebrate the pagan holidays we once did before we came into relationship with him. We are commanded not to worship false gods. So…some may say? What does it really matter? I mean the eggs are fun, the bunnies are cute…what does it really matter if we celebrate Easter in the name of God? Well once again I refer to the word of God.

“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,” Hebrews 10:26 ESV

“Everyone who make a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps in sinning; no one who keeps sinning had either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:4-10

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” James 4:17

I for one do not want to be categorized as one who is lawless, or in communion with the devil! So now what, you may be asking? Am I to stop celebrating Easter (and all other pagan holidays)? My answer would be yes! But it’s not that easy, you might be thinking. My family and I will be asked to participate at school, work and church….we will have to turn down invites from friends and family. Break family traditions that have been going on for generations. What will my friends and family think? We could possibly be mocked, made fun of, ridiculed…even ostracized. And my answer would be…yes, yes and possibly yes!

“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:22 ESV

It does not matter what we think or how we feel! We are to be obedient to the word of God no matter the cost! No one said choosing to follow Jesus would be easy, even Jesus himself warned us!

“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23 ESV

“And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22 ESV

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” 2 Timothy 3:12 ESV

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you; ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ It they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. It they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. It I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin… ” John 15:18-25 ESV

“Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” 1 John 3:13 ESV

This does not sound at all fun…and it’s not! Following Jesus is not easy and these are just a few verses that explain to us what will happen if we choose to follow him. I believe this is what Matthew was talking about when he wrote “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to live, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 NIV

I don’t know about you, but I want to enter in through the narrow gate no matter the cost! Does it really matter what others think of us? No…what really matters is our heart and God knows our hearts!

Now what next??? You decide to stop following the worlds ways…do you go around telling everyone to repent? That they are sinners? Maybe…but because of the bad reputation that we Christians already have that is probably not the best way to go about it. First we are all sinners, even those of us who are saved. Plus just think about how you would have responded to someone coming up and accusing you of all this wrongdoing, especially before you knew Christ…most likely it would not turn out well. So what can we do?

Personally as a family we choose not to celebrate these pagan holidays once we discovered the truth for ourselves. When my daughter was in preschool I would keep her home on the days they held their parties or I would at least pick her up before the party or wait and drop her off after it was over. (I know this can be a challenge…but once again following Jesus is not the easy way!) Whenever our family is invited to a pagan event we politely decline…no explanation needed. (Yes we even decline to participate with our church family! We don’t volunteer, we don’t support or participate in these events in any way!) And of course we don’t celebrate the holidays at home.

Do my children know we are living differently than most? Yes, they do. Do they care…do they miss out? No, in fact as my eldest got older and wiser she has expressed gratitude for exposing her to the truth of Gods word. We have discussed this many times, it happens almost each Easter (and on other holidays), whenever they see all the bright colors and holiday displays. I answer truthfully each time, explaining to them in terms that they can understand why we as a family choose not to participate. Throughout the years I have enjoyed witnessing their response to others when they are asked, have they seen the Easter bunny, or are they excited for the Easter bunny to come? Unlike many of us adults children are not ashamed or afraid to speak the truth!

Many times after I have turned down several invites from friends and or family members, I have been asked if my family celebrates holidays…and we do…just not pagan ones. And it is that moment when I take the opportunity open up and explain to them why our family has chosen not to participate in certain holidays. Many people I have the conversation with never knew Easter (or many of the other holidays we celebrate) are pagan. Many research and get back to me surprised…unfortunately most deliberately choose to disobey Gods word. We are still friends…we just don’t talk about this subject; they know where I stand and I know where they stand. It is not our place to force anyone to comply with God’s word. Some however pray about it and they too choose to put away the pagan traditions of this world and follow God’s word as best as they can. Praise God!

None of us will ever be able to live a perfect sin free life…if that were possible then Jesus would not have needed to come to earth and be crucified for our sins. We can however make the decision to do our best to follow God’s word.

“… ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 ESV

“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,” 1 John 2:3-4 ESV

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know then, and they follow me.” John 10:27

I want to be known as a disciple of Jesus no matter the cost. I want to do my best to follow the word of God. This life is temporary, fleeting. Plus greater treasures and awards await me in heaven! Why would I want to compromise for man?

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21 ESV

It is sad that many churches today either ignorantly or blatantly ignore the word of God. Each Easter they mislead millions of people by endorsing and celebrating a pagan holidays such as Easter. Not all Churches do however, and if your church is one of them you have something special and unique! We once attended a church that did not endorse these pagan rituals. There was no church supported Easter programs; eggs hunts, petting zoos or any of the other things churches will do during this season to attract crowds. If a member of the church choose to celebrate this pagan holiday, then it was done so on their own time, on their own time. In fact the church did not even call it an Easter service…they refused. Instead we gathered as a congregation to celebrate Resurrection Sunday. Afterwards many of the families got together for a Passover Seder meal. (Now we are under grace and NOT law, so we are not required to celebrate Passover. However I would encourage you to look into this if you are interested in an alternative to Easter.) Passover is a God ordained holiday and a wonderful way to explain to children the life, death and resurrection of Christ! How wonderful it would be if more churches choose to follow this example. That they were not merely seeking numbers, but truly seeking souls!

For the last several years (as we move frequently) we have not been able to find a church that does not participate in Easter. No church is perfect…so please do not use this as an excuse not to attend church! However the heart of the churches we have joined seek to worship God and live according to the Bible…they were young churches, mislead…trying to find their place in this world full of confusion. Talk to the elders, the pastor, the deacons…in a loving way ask them why they choose to celebrate these pagan holidays and to give you scriptures that support it. (They won’t be able to!) Then share with them what God has revealed to you and make sure you have the scriptures to support what you are communicating! Perhaps that is exactly why God has placed you there; we are after all to be salt and light to the world…not just to the unsaved…but to the saved though uninformed as well.

Unfortunately there will be times church leaders will choose to ignore the truth and when that happens, (over any topic, not just holidays…anything that is against the word of God,) then it is time to leave. You cannot be led or follow a church that is going to willingly choose to be disobedient to God’s word.

“Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and truth: and put away all the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seen evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:14-15

For me and my house…we will serve the LORD! I pray that you too will choose to do the same. Daily read the word of God so as not to be misled by the world. Choose to follow Jesus no matter the cost!

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28 ESV

For no matter what happens, your reward in heaven will be much greater! And remember you don’t walk this journey alone, the spirit of God dwells inside you and guides you!

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven: …” Matthew 5:11-12 KJV

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.”

So choose to be that light! Choose to follow the word of God in its entirety, even if following him makes us look strange or different; that’s ok! Remember this is not our home…we are ‘aliens’ merely passing through. If we truly are God’s children we should look different, act different. We are salt and light, God’s chosen ambassadors, the ones who are to bring the good news of the gospel to the lost people of this world. Sometimes we get the change to do so in conversation, but often times the only witness we have is through our behaviors and actions…if we conform to the world how will the world know we belong to Christ?

Let’s choose to be different! Let’s celebrate the resurrection of Christ in a way that honors and glories God and not in a way that degrades what Jesus did for us on the cross. It was not cute…it was not fun…the God of the universe after being beaten was crucified, hung on a cross and died for our sins. Then three days later he rose! We do have so very much to celebrate! If Jesus had died and not risen then we would have no hope…but because he rose we have hope! We have the promise of an eternity with him. That alone is much to celebrate…we don’t need baskets, eggs, bunnies and chocolate to make the holiday have meaning. Jesus is all we need!

Kiss Me I’m Irish!

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Kiss me I am Irish…

Well actually I cannot make that claim. While I married a man with Irish origins, I myself have no Irish blood running through my veins. I have participated in several St. Patrick’s festivities during my lifetime, however it is not a holiday or celebration I really paid much attention to. I will even admit that there have been many years in which I did not even realize it was St. Patrick’s Day until a day or two passed, then logging onto my social media account I would see all the pictures people posted from the parties they attended. In my mind St. Patrick’s Day was about myths of leprechaun’s chasing after gold and drinking. Truth is St. Patrick’s Day originally had nothing to do with either of those things. Just as it had nothing to do with the color green or eating corned beef and cabbage.

As I was researching this holiday (this time around), I came across all kinds of interesting articles. I liked this one the best by Megan Maisano  friedmansprout.com/2018/03/01/8936/ From Blue to Green, and Everything in Between: The Evolution of Saint Patrick’s Day

It’s an easy read, well researched and even has pictures. But she ends her article with “Conclusion: Who Cares?” I believe we should care…I believe we should research and study history. We cannot assume that everything we are taught is truth.

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV

Maewyn Succat (St. Patrick) has a really neat testimony. Born sometime around 375-390 A.D. into a wealthy (Scottish, English, Roman family) depending on what you read; he is not even Irish. Captured by pirates as a young man and taken to Ireland where he spent years as a slave learning the language and culture. He eventually escaped and returned home where he went on to become a priest. Then years later he returned to Ireland bringing with him the message of the gospel.

While he was not the first man to share the gospel with the people of Ireland at that time (another popular myth), he was undoubtedly the most successful in his lifetime. Why is this truth not taught? Why was I in my twenties when I first learned the true story behind the pots of gold, shamrocks and green?

Even deeper is that while the story of St. Patrick is an interesting one…why do we even have the holiday? St. Patrick’s Day is NOT a holiday that the Bible commands us to celebrate. Just like Valentines’ and many other holidays we celebrate it is NOT God ordained, man created it in the 17th century. While I believe the story of Maewyn Succat and his life is a great read, another inspiring example of what God can accomplish through willing servants, it is also sad how the story has been bastardized.

Take for example the shamrock…stories tell us that St. Patrick used it as a symbol of the trinity. And while I think that is a creative and neat way to explain the trinity of God, (if in fact he really did that), the shamrock was used by the pagans long before St. Patrick came along. It was the symbol of their triple goddess; Eriu, Brigid and Morrigan.

Beside the additions man has added to the story, the devil then gave man somewhere along the line the idea of adding leprechaun’s to the holiday. Leprechauns were thought to be evil spirits or demons by the pagans. Now our enemy has us thinking of them as cute cartoon characters…chasing after gold and rainbows. In March we see businesses, schools and sometimes our homes decorated with cut outs of ‘cute’ leprechauns. Some people even dress themselves, their children, even their dogs up as Leprechauns on St. Patrick’s Day. Think about that for a moment…people are dressing up as demons, and most don’t even realize it! Decorating with Shamrocks too, another pagan symbol.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children.” Hosea 4:6 ESV

Just like this Bible verse says…people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. We have the responsibility as believers to look into the things we are told, taught, see…to study the Bible, to pray, to make sure we are following God in everything we do! We are not to follow blindly after the ways of the world.

“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Colossians 2:8 KJV

Now let’s consider the drinking that goes along with this holiday…a newer addition in the 1800’s. And while I know not everyone drinks on this holiday, or does so in excess, it does happen, and along with all the other pomp and circumstance, drinking is now an acceptable thing to do on St. Patrick’s Day. I am NOT against drinking…we may drink…even alcohol. As Christian’s though we are told not to get drunk.

“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,” Ephesians 5:18 NLT

After seeing that this holiday is not a true holy day, that it is tied to pagan roots, why would we as Christians choose to celebrate? Why would we choose to expose our children to these pagan rituals? Many won’t agree with me…they will say ‘it’s harmless,’ or even accuse me of being harsh or old-fashioned. Maybe I am…I am choosing to draw a line, to take a stand and say for me and my house we will serve the LORD!

“…then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15 NIV

I am all about learning about the man (St. Patrick) and his life, as I said earlier he has an amazing testimony…something which should be shared. What I am NOT willing to do is celebrate a man-made holiday that incorporates pagan symbols and traditions. I will NOT bring them into my house. I am Not willing to serve the gods of my ancestors. Especially when God himself gave us holy days to celebrate.  Yes, as we are under grace and not law we are not required to celebrate the holidays in which God gave to the Israelites. However if I am going to celebrate a holiday I would much rather choose to celebrate those that God himself ordained…holy days that honor him, that point to his son Jesus and the redemption we have in him.

I am NOT willing to compromise my faith! Following Jesus is not always the easiest path.

“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? Matthew 16:24-26 ESV

I know that what I have written here is not going to be a popular…but I don’t care. This is not a popularity contest… (John 15:18-27)

Someday I will stand before God. Someday YOU will stand before God. On that day we will give account for what we did with this life he has given us. And while I am far from perfect, (I am a work in progress) and though I am covered by the blood of Jesus, I still want to do my best to live in a way in which points others to Christ. If I look like the world, think like the world, act like the world then how will the world know I am different? How will they know I am a child of the most high God?

And one more thought…what would St. Patrick himself think? If he knew that millions of people all over the world were celebrating him, would he agree? Do you really think that a man who spent his life pointing others to God would want men celebrating a man-made holiday with its roots in paganism honoring and glorifying him? Or perhaps would his heart be saddened to see all the pomp and circumstance that occurs during St. Patrick’s Day? After all this life is NOT about us…it’s about Jesus! If we are going to lift anyone up, why not Christ?