Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Missing Peace?

During the holiday season, many people struggle with loneliness. The sounds, lights, talk of family, money, shopping, food, etc, lead people with emptiness to battle. However, we all deal with feelings of loneliness at some point in our lives. We all face feelings of emptiness, which leaves us wondering, "Why?" which pushes us further into striving to fill the void with things of this world. I believe that human beings are puzzles, no one person is the same. We are "knit together in our mother's womb". "For everything God created is good..." (1 Timothy 4:4) which begs the question, why do we reject those things that are good?

Most of us have put together a puzzle at some point in our lives. Unless you are doing one of those 10 piece puzzles made for 5 year olds, puzzles can be a bit laborious and frustrating. Each piece has its place, and there are often several pieces that look alike and appear to fit. But as you move along in the puzzle, you find out that a piece you placed an hour ago isn't right, and the rest of the puzzle won't go together unless you remove that piece and place the proper one in its place. The process of putting together a puzzle is very similar to how our lives work. We go through life with feelings of emptiness and loneliness, and find things along the way to try to fill the void. These things range from unhealthy relationships, drugs, sex, money, our jobs, our appearance, our material possessions, and the list goes on and on. However, each one of these things disrupts the whole process of our lives, and while they may seem to fill the void, acting as the "missing piece" for a while, we eventually find that the rest of our lives will never work until we remove that piece and replace it with the "peace" that was intended. This Peace is the saving grace of Jesus Christ. His love and grace not only completes the puzzle that is our lives, it is the foundation on which the puzzle is made. Therefore, while the holiday season can be a very lonely time for many of us, there is a gift available unlike any gift waiting to be unwrapped under your tree. It is the love of Christ; the basis of Christmas. For myself, Christmas has become so commercialized it is difficult to enjoy it. However, when I remember not only the true reason for Christmas, but also the reason my void is now filled, my heart is no longer two sizes too small.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14: 27

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hands, Feet...and Mouth of Jesus

I've grown tired of the constant grumbling about politics, health care reform, Obama, the economy, etc, etc...it seems to be never ending. It seems to me, that people have become far too comfortable with throwing stones instead of being the hands and feet...and mouth of Jesus. We have become a nation of whiners, complainers and apathetic people. It is disturbing to me that not only am I hearing all the bad mouthing on regular networks, radio, and friends, but also in the church and on Christian talk radio. While I agree, that it is easier to sit around and discuss our opinions about homelessness, the Obama administration, and health care, it the right thing to go out and do something about it. So, whether Obama should or shouldn't have won the Nobel Peace prize, have you considered that this was part of God's plan for his life? And whether or not you agree with the decision, or whatever political party you side with, "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose". (Romans 8:28)

So, in all the negative news that was published yesterday, I was happy when I came across this article.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bottom Line of Incivility

Recently there have been several incidents cited in the news about public figures and their lack of civility. Joe Wilson’s ‘You Lie!’ outburst during a joint session of Congress, Serena Williams explicative laced rant against a line judge at the US Open, or Kanye West’s alcohol driven interruption of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the Music Award have been the talk of most news outlets over the past few days. Public outbursts, and word vomit have been around and in the news for as long as the English language has been in existence, and will continue to be. On 60 Minutes, President Obama said, “the loudest, shrillest voices get the most attention. And so, one of the things I'm trying to figure out is, you know, how can we make sure that civility is interesting?” Which begs the question, what is the bottom line of incivility? Although those that are in the public eye tend to get plenty of attention when they spout off at the mouth or doing something foolish, we are all guilty of the same thing and have no right to sit in the seat of judgment. We have all said things that we wish we could take back, done things we later regret, but is impossible to take back the words you speak and you can’t reverse your actions. Apologies come and go, but sin remains. Which is the bottom line of incivility. We are all born with the desire to be #1, the need to be heard and although some people’s fuse is shorter than others, we all get angry at things that in the long run are small by comparison to the larger issues that we all face. Jesus said, “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12:34-37) Stories of crazed tirades, and harsh words will continue to come across the news waves, but we have it within our power, through Jesus Christ, to hold our tongues and watch our actions in our own households. Changing social incivility starts with the individual, and in the words of Gandhi, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”.

"Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble." Proverbs 21:23

Monday, August 24, 2009

Off the Wall

I’ve really tried to stay away from blogging about Michael Jackson, but in light of the coroner ruling his death as a homicide today, I could no longer. I like many people was a fan of MJ. I liked his music and think he was a phenomenal entertainer. I watched his funeral and have read many of the news stories that have been posted about him. My son loves him, and has perfected the moonwalk. But of all the things that Michael Jackson had, it seems that he had one of the biggest holes in his life that he never got filled. It is frustrating to me to watch the world idolize someone, who had rightfully worked for his fame status, yet seems so incredibly empty inside. It seemed as though the more famous MJ got, the bigger his hole became, and the more he struggled to fill it. Michael Jackson has been called a lot of things from, King of Pop, entertainer, hero, icon, inspiration, etc, but I haven’t heard him called a “Christian”. That’s not to say he wasn’t, I don’t think whether or not the media reports something means it is or isn’t true. I have heard a few claims that MJ was a drug addict, but those claims are typically followed by blame on the doctors. I cannot imagine the unbelievable pressure he must have felt on a daily basis. To be unable to go out in public without a mob of people around, or to never trust anyone because of what their motives could have been, or to have to shield your children’s faces because you want to shield them from the life you had, must have been unbearable. What I cannot help but wonder is how different would Michael Jackson’s life have been had he been a Christian, and would the world have placed him on the same pedestal they did knowing that he claimed Jesus Christ as his savior? People in Hollywood practice different religions, from Scientology to Kabbalah, but it is very rare that you hear of someone who is a Christian. I hate to admit it, but instead of being happy to hear a celebrity claim Jesus Christ, I often feel surprised. It is similar to people who go to prison and suddenly find “God”, many people are skeptical of those claims. Are prisoners and celebrities outside of God’s grace? Are they in a lifestyle that contradicts Christianity so much that it comes as a surprise to hear that they also follow Jesus? Michael Jackson is just another example of the tragedy behind looking for happiness in the world. The biggest tragedy of all wasn’t Michael’s death. It is now what the world is going to do with that death and what they will learn from it. Now, there are claims that it was homicide and that it was the doctors fault that he died. Sure, the doctors should absolutely loose their medical licenses and pay for the negligence that they had. But, will fans of Michael Jackson use this as an opportunity to teach their children about what happens when fame, fortune, and the worlds opinion matters more to you than your relationship with Jesus Christ? I know I will. My son still listens to his music and has become quite a good impersonator, however, he also knows why Michael died, and it wasn’t simply because the doctors over-prescribed medication.

"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 6:26

Monday, June 8, 2009

My child is growing up...

My son graduated from 5th grade last week, so starting next year he will join the big bad hormone-infested, awkward world known as Middle School. This year has been quite the eye opener for me. He's been showing signs of "growing up" for a while, but it really hit home this year. I know my kid is growing up...

1.) My son has actually start caring about his appearance. This happened to us the day of his graduation. My son has never cared about his appearance. I can barely get the child to brush his teeth, much less care about whether or not his clothes match. I started letting him pick out his own clothes this year, and as much as it pains me to watch him go to school with mix-matched clothes, I have to let him make these fashion mistakes. But, he actually told his dad he wasn't comfortable wearing brown shoes with black pants (he picked this out himself) and wanted to make sure he looked 'nice' for his graduation. I can only assume he wanted to look 'nice' for a certain girl he's had a crush on all year. He also told his dad he thought he (his dad) should wear the same outfit he wore to church Sunday because it looked good on him.

2.) He is no longer required to go to the "kid check in" booths at church because he is now part of the phenomenon known as "youth" and is no longer referred to as a "kid". He can now check himself in without the help of mom and dad and aren't required to wearing the name tags that end up on the floor board of the car.

3.) Yesterday a song from early 2000's came on the radio and my son referred to it as "Old School". I didn't think it was possible for an 11 year old to think anything was "Old School".

4.) Last Sunday he received a Teen Bible from church as a "moving up" gift that has no cartoon depictions of smiling pictures of Jesus, no Noah and the ark pictures, no strategically placed leaf covered pictures of Adam and Eve. Instead there is a list of "60 of Satans Favorite Lies", which include discussions on the true definition of sex, pornography, and dating. Naturally as a curious pre-pubesant 11 year old boy, this lead to some uncomfortable conversations. Luckily because I'm the mother of a boy, I get to refer most of these questions to Dad.

5.) His new favorite shows are those that come on CBS, NBC, and ABC and not PBS, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon. My son's favorite show is "Lie to Me"...he now wants to be a body language expert when he grows up. Just last year he wanted to be a superhero.

6.) Helping with homework now involves some research on the internet. And I'm not talking about my son doing the research. It's me, trying to figure out how to help him figure out certain assignments. It's a pretty humbling experience to have to tell your child "I'll help you in a little bit", and spend that next "little bit" feverishly researching how to do certain things.

7.) He has recently start paying attention to my driving and just yesterday told me that "it isn't safe to text and drive". He only noticed because he's now old enough to sit in the front seat.

8.) My son tells me almost everyday "Mom I'm almost taller than you".

I am proud of my son. His teacher told us that he is the bright spot in her day. And he really is a great kid. (not that I'm biased or anything) I get all "mom" sometimes and worry about him. I worry that he is about to be in middle school and the things he will encounter there. I worry that puberty is setting in and girls won't have cooties anymore, and instead he will start noticing other things that rhyme with "cooties". I worry about the mistakes he will make. I worry about how I will react to him having his first girlfriend. But I know that if I turn my worries and my son over to the protection of Christ he will be ok. And I will tell him...

"My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline and do not resent his rebuke,
because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. "

Proverbs 3:1-12

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Flying Builds Faith

I recently went to Oregon for a week on a business trip. This was the first time I have ever flown any significant distance. As I got ready to board the plane, my husband called me and prayed for my flight. It eased my anxiety...until I sat down in the plane. Now, my husband had warned me about what would happen once the engines started and the plane actually started moving. His advice...pray. I did more than just pray...I chatted with Jesus, actually I did a lot more pleading and He just patiently listened. As the plane started moving at speeds no human should really ever go, all prayers ceased, and panic set it. I realized I was in a situation that I was completely out of control of and the thought of my life being in the hands of some pilot I didn't know put the fear of God in me. So, like a rookie traveler, I actually teared up a little. (I refuse to admit I actually cried) Once the plane actually left the ground I realized something. My life wasn't in the hands of the human pilot at all, it was in the hands of the Holy Pilot, Jesus. My husband told me that flying builds faith, and he was absolutely right. Flying is not something I have done frequently, nor do I plan to, but it is another situation like everything else in life that we have zero control over. The one thing in life that we can always control is our faith. Even if we lack faith, we have control over praying to Jesus to help us with our unbelief. So, as I sat there in the plane, a peace overcame me. I was like the father that doubted Jesus with his son. I was concerned that I might not make it back home. I began praying, "...I do believe! Help overcome my unbelief!" And instead of feeling fear, I had faith that God would keep me safe.

"...Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not. O unbelieving generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me. So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this? From childhood," he answered. It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us. 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes." Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" Mark 9:17-24

Monday, May 18, 2009

Squeezing Blood from the Turnip

In our current economy, there are thousands, if not millions of families who are struggling financially. Many people have received past due notices, foreclosure notices, and negative bank statements in the mail. Our family has been close several times, but have yet to receive these. So, you can imagine my surprise when I opened my mail last week and had a notice from a company that audits our church claiming that we had not met the amount that we had 'pledged' back when the church started a building fund campaign. I was floored. So, I went into our 2008 tax information to get the statement of giving we received from the church. Total, we gave more to the church than what we had pledged for this campaign, but stopped mid-year writing 2 checks so that they could keep track of what portion was our tithe and what portion was for the campaign. So, apparently what we gave wasn't separated.

Receiving a notice like this from a church is simply not something I can understand. Especially when it is a church who has a brand new worship building, student center, coffee shop, and bell tower, yet not enough funds to pay for it? Why? Because apparently our (and I'm sure we weren't the only ones who received this notice) pledge wasn't met and funds weren't coming in to cover their expenses. At the end of the letter, they asked how much would we be contributing in 2009? None, because we do not intend to continue attending this church. If a church can't take into consideration and have compassion for the economic hardships that their members are enduring, then I think they are completely missing the point. A big beautiful building isn't what makes church, a high tech nice student center doesn't make a church, a coffee shop isn't church, a bell tower certainly doesn't make a church, what makes a church is Christ being the center, and the people coming together to worship Him. "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them" (Matthew 18:20) I know it is a difficult thing for churches to ask their members for money. It is a touchy subject for most people. I understand that it is a necessity for members to give to the church in order for them to meet their financial obligations, it is even commanded. We are also commanded to not be in debt. This is something that Dave Ramsey has based his financial messages on. "The borrower is a slave to the lender" (Proverbs 22:7) I think it is wrong for a church to send out passive aggressive reminders that members didn't meet their pledges in a campaign that was unnecessary in the first place. I was speaking to a fellow Christian brother about this, and he told me about two other churches that he knows have a strong financial foundation. One has paid for a new building with cash, and another is head of their weekly budget and ahead of their debt repayment and are not sending notices to members that have missed the mark with their pledges. There are many church members that may have not have the funds to be able to give over and above what they tithed to the church, but they were able to give their time. The body giving time to the church is an invaluable asset that is often taken for granted and caused discouragement and discord within the church. When members receive reminder notices that they still owe money to the church, it is an insult, at least it was to me. We are called to be cheerful givers. "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7) Will people now give out of necessity or obligation instead of out of kindness and from their heart because of these notices? Are other churches able to stay ahead of debt repayment and meet their weekly budgets because their members are cheerfully giving and not being reminded of what they weren't able to give? I don't know. I only know our families situation and my opinion. I want to be a cheerful giver and I will certainly be praying for this church. I pray that the members do not get discouraged, and that the leadership leads in a manner that glorifies God.

"In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Communion Tray Etiquette

I came across this blog http://stufffchristianslike.blogspot.com/ and had to share this post called "Communion Tray Etiquette". I typically post pretty serious topics, so I thought I'd change it up a little. Pretty funny, yet true stuff. Enjoy.
If you’d never been to church before and someone handed you a plate of wafers and a spaceship-designed, traveling presentation tray full of juice cups during the middle of service, would that be weird? Would proclaiming that we’re about to eat the body of Christ clear things up? Probably not. You’d be puzzled, maybe even a little sweaty, until someone leaned over and handed you a copy of this book. And then everything would be alright because you’d know the five easy rules of Communion Tray Etiquette:

Rule 1: Always be prepared.The second you realize you’re about to share communion, start scouting out which direction it’s coming from. Watch the back-and-forth, every-other-aisle jump the ushers are doing to determine if it will be passed from your left or your right. Assess the possible handoff skills of the person next to you. Do they appear cagey? Nervous? Old? Remember, they’ll be passing the tray to you with only one hand since their other hand will be holding the cup or the wafer. If you have even an inkling that your pew neighbor won’t execute a perfect handoff, prepare a two-hand reception. Not alligator-style like in God’s favorite sport, Frisbee, but with both hands out gently, as if you’re saying, “Hey fella, that’s OK, you can hand me that tray. It’s in good hands. You’ve done a great job. I’ll take it from here.”

Rule 2: Move it along.The biggest communion tray foul you can commit is to hold the tray too long. You’re essentially causing a pew traffic jam or “PTJ.” While you sit there and tediously make up your mind, you’re signaling to everyone else sitting next to you, “Don’t mind me, I’m just preventing you from partaking in the most tender sacrament of faith. I’m blocking you from the body of Christ.” Aim to receive the tray, make your selection, and pass it to your neighbor in under two seconds. Sound impossible? It’s not if you follow rules three and four…

Rule 3: Practice quick cup selection.I don’t know what kind of tray your church uses for communion, but growing up we used silver dishes with elevated, circular rows of cups. Kind of like the hats that Devo wore in the “Whip It” video. As you look down on all these options, you’re going to be tempted to analyze which one “looks best.” “Which is the fullest? Which one looks like it might spill? If I take a certain cup, can I empty a row like some sort of reverse game of Connect Four? Shoot, someone already took the center cup. That’s my favorite cup! That’s the King cup.” Ignore these thoughts. They’re only going to slow you down and make it look like you’re still deciding how you feel about this whole “Jesus thing.” Grab the first cup you make eye contact with and pass.

Rule 4: Break bread, not your concentration.Chances are the bread or wafer will not be uniform in size. You might be looking at a plate full of wafers broken up into a variety of shapes and girths, or an actual loaf of bread will land in your lap. Do you put the tray down so you can use both bare hands on the loaf? Do you keep the tray in one hand and try to form some kind of eagle claw that can rip a chunk of bread out even though you’re not stabilizing the loaf? How much bread is too much bread? How big a wafer should you choose? Deep breaths, deep breaths. We’re going to get through this together.First and foremost, regardless of what’s on the tray, don’t root around. You’re not digging for buried treasure. As far as bread goes, I’m a fan of using both hands. Place the tray quickly on your lap, use your left hand to gently touch the back of the loaf and then pull a gumball-sized piece of bread off the front of the loaf with your right hand. (If you can fit both butter and jam on the piece of bread you’ve selected, you’ve gone too big and should be ashamed of yourself for hogging Jesus.) Then move on. No regrets about your piece. You got a great piece. It’s a fine piece. Let it go.

Rule 5: Pace yourself with consumption.It’s hard to know when to eat your bread and drink your wine because different churches do communion different ways. So watch the crowd and the minister. Wait until you see a majority of people partaking. And be prepared to pretend you were just scratching your cheek if you go to put the bread in your mouth and realize right before it touches your lips that you were too early.

Ultimately, you might mess up all five of these steps. You might drop the tray on the floor and cause a huge commotion and have everyone stare at you. But I think if you did, God would say the same thing we say at our house when somebody spills: “No big deal.” Because it’s not about the cup or the wafer or the cold the person next to you is inevitably going to give you. It’s about Christ and He tends to live outside of etiquette.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Acupuncture for Sin

About two months ago I started going to an acupuncturist. Now, I know most people think "whoa, that's weird" and have images of Pinhead from the movie Hellraiser in their mind. But it's really worth trying. I have suffered from migraines for about 10 years and have run the gammit of treatments and pills, none of which have eliminated the problem. So, I decided that instead of being on pills for the rest of my life, that really wouldn't solve the problem I would try something different which is what lead me to go see an acupuncturist. The doctor that I went to see is the most thorough doctor I've ever been too. He ran some allergy tests on me and discovered that my biggest problem was my caffeine & sugar intake. My body sees caffeine as a toxin and sends me into a cycle of problems. I eliminated caffeine from my diet and significantly reduced my sugar intake. And after a few weeks of going to see this doctor, and my new diet, my headaches were completely gone! I felt like a completely different person. It's amazing what pain-free living can do for your overall mental, physical and spiritual health. Then, a few weeks ago I started back on caffeine. Which leads me to why I'm posting today.

Why do we as Christians do stuff we know is bad for us? For me, I wanted something to help with my energy level when exercising, and I knew that headaches could be a possible side effect, but if they came back I would stop taking it. Well, I've stopped, but the headaches are still there. This is so symbolic of how life really works. People get involved in things that they know are wrong, but say to themselves or others "I'll stop when I need to" or "nothing will happen to me", and they set themselves up to deal with the repercussions of sin. Now, did I sin when I started taking caffeine again? No, but it was stupid. And because my headaches are back, my attitude is affected and it is harder to be patient with people, and that can turn into sin. That is how sin works. It's deceptive and although whatever people involve themselves in may not directly be a sin, the consequences could lead them to sin. If you haven't tried acupuncture, it's definitely worth doing. It's natural, and doesn't hurt, and worked wonders for me. I'm back at it again, and this time I'm sticking to what I know works.

"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." Ephesians 2:1-5

Friday, May 1, 2009

Jesus on the Wall

I was thinking about the image I had of Jesus when I was younger. In my home, we had a picture of Jesus on the wall, one which I'm sure many of you also had. It's the most popular picture of Jesus, and shaped what I thought Jesus looked like, but not necessarily what Jesus was to me. It wasn't hung in my home for any reverence purposes, but rather for decor. Which wasn't much of decor since it was painted in ugly muted browns and yellows, which matched the nicotine stains on our walls. I can remember wondering what Jesus was really like when I would look at this picture. I had heard through the few times that I had gone to church with my grandmother that Jesus was a loving, joyous, wonderful, forgiving father. In the picture itself he looks sad, morose even, peaceful but not happy. The picture never really clued me in at all on what Jesus was really like. It was just Jesus on the wall. Sure, I looked at the picture everyday, but that's about all he was to me. A picture. Sort of like an absentee father, there to look at, but not really there. This is how my father was, so it was very hard for me to accept the idea that a heavenly father loved me, when my own father had a difficult time showing this. It is interesting to me how our image of God is formed. For some it is through going to church and through learning at an early age from parents. For others, it is through learning the hard way. Which is exactly how I learned. Since I viewed God much like an absentee father, it was almost impossible for me to accept the fact that he died for me, and loved me, and would forgive me. It wasn't until I accepted that idea that I needed his love, acceptance and forgiveness that I really began to be open to the idea of a real Jesus instead of the sad Jesus on the wall. I didn't accept Jesus through faith alone....at first. I was brazen enough, while in the midst of sinning to say, "I know I'm playing with fire", but I simply didn't care. For me, Jesus was still moping on my parents wall and didn't want anything to do with someone like me. I'd already been hurt by my earthly father, I certainly wasn't going to open myself up to being hurt by my heavenly father. But then my life came to a point where the Jesus on the wall was my only place to turn. And Jesus showed me that He loved and accepted me through other people, specifically my husband. He showed me that He had been there all along, and that He wasn't the absentee father painted in yellow & brown, and definitely wasn't just hanging on the wall to be walked by and ignored everyday. Instead, he had been painting a picture of himself on the walls of my heart, and this picture was much prettier than the one I had become accustomed to.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Alcoholism Cure?

I recently came across an article about a pill that is being dubbed a cure for alcoholism. It is supposed to reduce the craving that an alcoholic feels when he or she wants a drink. The #1 issue I have with this idea is that this pill is creating another dependence in the mind of the alcoholic. Addiction is a very complex disease. It has spiritual, emotional, and physical properties. All of which have to be address to help the addict. If a pill is prescribed to help the alcoholic overcome the cravings, what happens when that pill is discontinued? Do the cravings return? And if so, what steps has the alcoholic taken to address these cravings without popping a pill? Which leads me to the #2 reason why I disagree with it. This pill may in fact decrease the desire to drink, but having to take a pill for the rest of your life so that you won't be an active alcoholic isn't working on the root of the disease itself. The desire to stop has to be there in order for anything to help. In rehab centers, occasionally medication is prescribed to help with the withdrawal symptoms that addicts are facing. This I can understand. What I cannot understand or condone is yet another pill used as a crutch for addiction. Back when the anti-depressant boom started, mental health issues began being treated in doctors offices as frequently as the common cold, and anti-depressants began being prescribed as often as antibiotics. Now it is completely out of control. I believe this will happen with this "alcoholism cure". People will view it as a quick fix and stop doing what it takes to really deal the disease itself. In the article I read about this said, "Dr. Kevin Clark says the traditional model -- based on intensive therapy and the 12 steps popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous -- is still best. It is a disease of the brain, but it's a multifaceted disease. It has a spiritual component, a behavioral component to it...Our experience tells us that having the network of support and recovery is what really makes the difference." I absolutely agree. Therapy will help the addict understand where their disease comes from and why they choose that avenue to cope with their issues. Rehab and 12 step programs help the addict understand how to deal with and overcome their addiction. It isn't until an addict reaches a point of dispair that they are often willing to consider getting help, and even after this point many people still relapse. A pill isn't going to solve this problem. The spiritual component behind addiction is the most important piece. In 12 step programs, steps 2 & 3 encompass this very idea. Step 2 states, "we came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity" and Step 3 states " we made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him". I have absolute faith that anything can be overcome through the power of Christ. Not through a pill, not solely through therapy, not solely through 12 step programs, not solely through the support of friends and family. All of these things are important in the process of recovery (with the exception of the pill), but Christ is the Great Physician and we can do all things through Him who gives us strength.

"To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen."
Jude 1:24-25

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Greatest Blessing

There are many obvious blessings in my life. My house, my job, food on the table every night, my health, my child, the fact that I could continue with this list is a blessing in and of itself. But the biggest blessing that I have in my life is my husband and yesterday he showed yet again, why I am a very lucky woman. He took the time (44 times actually) to write down the exact time that he thought about me, and more specifically think he's a lucky man for being married to me and brought home a card with each of these times written down...simply to say I love you! It seems a bit of an irony that my husband would consider himself lucky to be married to me, when he was the one who lead me to Christ. As far as I can see, that is the biggest blessing anyone can have in their life. To be married to someone who leads you to Christ, and continues to help you on your walk, to help you grow and become better every single day is a blessing beyond words. Love you babe...

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

1 Corinthians 13

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Test for True Authenticity

In the last year, I have come to realize what true authenticity in the church is and is not and how truly unauthentic people in the church can be at times. It has been hugely disappointing and left a bad taste in my mouth. Many churches talk about wanting to have authentic community and being authentic Christians, but it often stops at the discussion point. Being an authentic Christian has to start with placing your full trust in God, and being a trustworthy person. It is demonstrating in your life what Christ has called us to be, and not simply using it as a Bible study or small group discussion. I am not someone who trusts easily. Even if I do begin to show a level of trust, I’ve been known to remain in a state of skepticism waiting for the other shoe of disappointment to drop. I realize this isn’t always the best mindset to be in, and it certainly has caused me personal issues in the past, which is another blog for another time, but it has saved me from being too disappointed in people at times. It is extremely disappointing to me when people who talk about sharing themselves with others, yet stay within their comfort zone and only talk about surface issues. The deeper you are willing to go, the more authentic you are willing to become. Discussing the weather or your job doesn’t help people grow. It doesn’t force you outside of your comfort zone when you fellowship with the same people all of the time. God gave each of us individual gifts and not only does sharing those gifts with other diverse people help them grow; it also helps you. God didn’t intend for us to tread water because when you tread water you don’t move. God’s people are a moving people.

If you have gone to church at any point in your life, you probably realize that there is a wide range of personality types in the church. There are certainly many who are truly authentic, who embrace the idea in every aspect of their lives. However, there are some who are evasive and don’t share with anyone, those who use deceptive means to get information from people, those who smile in your face, yet make you the topic of conversation at prayer groups and Bible studies, those who don’t have much to do with you until the get nosy enough to text or email, and the list goes on. These are all examples of non-authenticity. All of these things are what turn people off from church. I was talking to a fellow Christian sister about authentic Christianity and she made a great point. She said, “Authenticity is shown through being there for someone and showing interest in people all of the time, not just for damage control.” Authentic Christians are what you see is what you get people. There isn’t any hiding behind a smile, there’s not any fear of discussing topics beyond the surface, and they have learned through experience that a transparent life is more valuable to others than to themselves. Now I do believe that some people take the "what you see is what you get” mentality too far. Often being ‘real’ is reduced to simply the desire for others to let you be you. This is a desire that I have had to check in myself before. As a fallen people, accountability isn’t high on most of our priority list. And when we take on an attitude of, "this is me, and if you don't like it too bad, because I'm just being authentic”, we loose the meaning and purpose God intended for us and rely on an excuse to continue on a path that will eventually lead us away from Him. As Christians we should challenge one another to be better, and do so in a loving way. The ‘real’ us is found in following Christ and leading others on that same walk. That is why it is important to use discernment. If you try your best to imitate Christ in your daily walk, then you are on the road to authenticity. Living in the ideal of "take me or leave me", isn't walking the Christian walk, it is walking a selfish walk. The test for true authenticity is when the rubber meets the road and things get uncomfortable, are you still wiling to be transparent, and show some level of discomfort. Because your comfort is found in your relationship with Christ, not in how others view you. Your thoughts?

"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." Phillipians 2:1-5

Monday, April 13, 2009

Jesus & The Easter Bunny

My family & I went to a Good Friday service...on Friday...and it was amazing! There was music, singing, and mourning. Mourning for what Christ went through and remembering that we as sinners put him on the cross. There was a cross at the center of the auditorium and we each took turns nailing a red ribbon to the cross in remembrance of what Jesus did that night. It was a powerful moment.

I have never fully realized the meaning of Easter until this year. Easter has become another commercialized production, of which I have fully participated in over the years. My son is now too old to "hunt for eggs", but when he was younger, the adults would play the part of the magical bunny and hide the eggs while he carried his basket full of that plastic filler that seems to show up on the carpet for weeks after the Easter bunny has hopped back to his hole. We'd stuff ourselves with hollow chocolate bunnies, eat massive amounts of ham, buy corsages for grandma, get dressed up in our new pastel colored outfits, and go to church for a message over the resurrection. It was always a nice time to spend with family and have another excuse to buy new clothes and eat a ton, but somewhere along the line the true meaning of Easter got swept up in bunnies and eggs.
Have we allowed the commercialized version of Easter override it's true meaning?
When I was a kid, my parents didn't go to church so my grandmother would come pick me up and take me with her. It definitely didn't have any meaning to me then, because I really only went when she made me, which was usually on holidays. It's tough to get the meaning of anything when you are forced to go and only a few times a year. As I got older and started attending church regularly, it still didn't hold much meaning to me. Sure, I understood Jesus died on the cross for our sins, but I didn't think about the gravity of that sacrifice and certainly didn't apply it to my own life. This year something was different. When I was nailing that red ribbon to the cross, I felt like I was nailing Christ to the cross. I felt a deep sadness and a strange sense of peace knowing that my sins are paid for by His blood. I've never been to a Good Friday service, but it was a moving experience. Easter Sunday is always a joyous, celebratory time at church, whereas Good Friday was actually quite the opposite. It is a time of mourning and remembrance. Most people don't enjoy thinking about the brutality of what really happened. It doesn't exactly give people the "warm and fuzzies" to think about Jesus being flogged, spit upon, beat, and brutally hung upon a cross to die....for no other reason than me & you.
Easter is not bunnies and eggs, Easter is not just cartoon depictions of Christ on a cross, it is a real event that was done for each and every one of us. It is something to be appreciated and remembered. It is certainly something that has taken on an enormous amount of meaning in my life. He has blessed me more that I could have ever imagined, and given me hope in knowing that he won't remember my sins.

You don't have to sell out the Easter bunny to remember what Christ did for you, just remember that while you are enjoying your marshmallow peeps and cadbury eggs, that they wouldn't taste nearly as sweet if it weren't for the sacrifice that Christ made for your sins.

Monday, April 6, 2009

So....I want to write a book

People have told me for a while that I should write a book. My life has played out much like an after-school special. That being said, I want to write a book....I'm just not sure how. It seems like a relatively simple thing to get started doing, but I haven't. I am super critical of anything I write especially when it is personal, which is one reason why I find it difficult to write about my life. So, if any of you readers out there have any suggestions on getting started, it would be appreciated. For now, I'm going to jotting ideas on what should fill the pages of my empty book.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Throwing Stones

Unless you have been living under a rock for a while, you are well aware of the financial crisis going on in America. Recently there have been mobs gathering to lynch the executives of AIG for receiving bonuses. Ok, maybe not lynch, but at least harm their children. Unfortunately I'm not exaggerating. I read an article about the threats that the executives have received due to accepting bonuses. There are several that are explicative laden, so I will leave those for your imagination, but here are a few that have been received via email, letter, or phone call.

-- "I don't hope that bad things happen to the recipients of those bonuses. I really hope that bad things happen to the children and grandchildren of them! Whatever hurts them the most!!"
-- "If the bonuses don't stop, it will be very likely that every CEO @ AIG has a bulls-eye on their backs."
-- "We will hunt you down. Every last penny. We will hunt your children and we will hunt your conscience. We will do whatever we can to get those people getting the bonuses. Give back the money or kill yourselves."
-- "All the executives and their families should be executed with piano wire around their necks my greatest hope."
-- "The Revolution is coming. The family members of your executives are not safe. Your blood will run through the streets in the coming months."

These are some pretty big rocks being thrown. Now, I am certainly not saying that the bonuses were justified, or should have been received, but is it necessary to send threats to these people? Are threats of harming family members, the executives themselves, or encouraging suicide really what greed deserves? Are the people issuing these threats any better than those executives? According to John 8:7 no, they are not. "...If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone..." None of us are without sin, therefore none of us should be sitting in judgement towards AIG. We don't have to agree, we don't have to feel good about it, but we should not hurl threat stones at them either.

"God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time for every deed." Ecclesiastes 3:17

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Future Gambler or Typical Kid?

An article titled "Impulsive in kindergarten? Gambling ahead" is on MSNBC today. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29470066/It states, "Children rated as impulsive by their kindergarten teachers appear more likely to begin gambling behaviors like playing cards or placing bets before they hit middle school..." Really? I wonder if these are the same children that are going to be incorrectly labled "ADHD" and prescribed medication that will stunt their emotional development. Give me a break people. I wish I could sit in on the committees that come up with these studies. Although there are obviously some very valuable medical studies out there, there are also plenty that are a ridiculous waste of time. It goes without saying (although I'm saying it here anyway) that when children don't have the proper environment at home, and are left to their own devices, they are going to find a way to cope with life. I have yet to find any person who had a rough childhood that didn't grow up with some sort of dysfunction. The point is, kindergarten kids are supposed to be impulsive and it's up to the parents to "train them in the way they should go, so when they are in middle school they won't turn to gambling".

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Memory Pill or God Pill?

Science is now trying to come up with a pill that can erase bad memories. I certainly have my fair share of bad memories, but I honestly can’t say that I would want them erased. There was certainly a time in my life when I wanted them gone, but because I have been able to work through those memories I have come out a better person. We are a society that believes the “easiest route is the best route”, but is it really?

Daniel Sokol, who lectures on medical ethics at St. George's, University of London, said, "I joined a chess club and lost to an eight-year girl," Sokol told Discovery News. "That was absolutely humiliating. I made a blunder, and I tell myself that I'll never make that mistake again. If you eradicate the memory, will the lesson still remain?"

I understand the pain that bad memories can create for someone, so I am not trying to be insensitive to that fact. However, God often uses bad situations and turns them into a lesson for others. There are countless women out there who have been raped who are now counselors for other victims. There are recovered drug addicts who now counsel addicts. There are parents who have lost children who help those who are suffering through the loss of a child. The amount of pain that people go through can often be used to help those who are enduring the same type of pain. If we accept that a new pill will be able to erase these memories then we are possibly doing an injustice to others and ourselves. As long as there is sin in the world, there will continue to be bad memories created. At what point do we say “enough” and learn to deal with our hurts through the healing power of Jesus Christ and not through the simple fix of a memory-erasing pill? I’m sure that this will be another pill whose negative side effects far outweigh its benefits. How would it be possible to erase bad memories and not have some effect on the positive ones? I wouldn’t want to chance it. I know where I can find healing…Jesus Christ.

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Bailouts Gone Wild!!

In a world where accountability is low and poor decision-making is high, crumbling companies have found an out in government bailouts. From Freddie, Fannie, AIG and the automobile producers bailouts are a common “anti-accountability” form of life preserver. It should be no surprise that companies would start coming out of the woodworks for a free handout, but I was still a little shocked at this request. Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and Girls Gone Wild CEO Joe Francis have requested that Congress allocate $5 billion for a bailout of the adult entertainment industry. Yep, you heard it right, two of the most notorious figures in the adult entertainment industry are asking for a handout, not because they are waiting for their homes to be sold at auction on the courthouse steps, or because they are at risk of loosing their life savings, or even because they can pay their bills, but instead their claim is for “just in case” purposes. With the $5 billion, they would “invest in building new means of distribution, and shoring up our distribution right now to prevent further erosion from factors like Youporn and other Internet content that has seriously affected our business over the past few years,” Francis said in an interview with FOX Business. “We will use the money wisely, and we will create more jobs.” Maybe it's just me, but I don’t think creating more jobs that degrade women, contribute to the destruction of marriage, and numb moral consciousness exactly constitutes a $5 handout, much less a $5 BILLION dollar handout.

It has been said in the past the porn industry is recession proof, because after all, sex sells right? Larry Flynt said, ““People are too depressed to be sexually active. This is very unhealthy as a nation. Americans can do without cars and such but they cannot do without sex.” This may be true in a healthy marriage, sex is vital, but PORN isn’t vital to anyone’s survival. Last time I checked no one died from the lack of pornographic material. The idea of the adult entertainment industry asking to be “bailed out” from lack of video sales point to the real crisis in America. Complete lack of accountability in our nation has brought on a tremendous amount of stress and an enormous economic debt. The mortgage lenders are pointing the finger at greedy Americans living above their means, while those same Americans are calling the mortgage industry “predatory”. Where does accountability begin and irresponsibility end? Just in case anyone is considering taking this seriously, Joe Fransis is about to go to trial for federal tax evasion….ah, the irony.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Shameful Win?

This story absolutely blows my mind; This coach was asked to apologize for winning a game 100-0 and refused and was later fired. If the coach didn’t play unfairly or cheat, then I really don’t see why he needed to apologize. It was said that the win was “not Christ-like” and was “a shameful and ‘un’ honorable approach to competition”. Really? Winning isn’t honorable? When my son’s basketball team got blown out 48-6, I would have never expected the other coach to apologize and this is 5th grade basketball! Since when did winning, whether by 1 or 100 become a sin? Isn’t that the point of sports? Is to win, and do so with integrity? They have not said whether or not this coach’s firing was a direct result of his refusal to apologize, but it certainly seems that way. I admire the guy for not apologizing simply to appease man. In fact we are commanded to please God and not man. Galatians 1:10 says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Certainly this coach could have apologized and may still have his job. But what then would he be teaching his students? It will not teach them to remain driven, finish what you start, and in everything you do, do with integrity and honor. It would not teach the school they beat anything either. They have an opportunity to build character through this experience and a pity forfeit or win will not do this. I do not believe that we should teach our children to be quitters. Life isn’t sugar coated and we shouldn’t lead our children to believe that it is. Here’s the article in its entirety…what do you think?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


I received a message from my dad today letting me know that one of his good friends has a brain tumor. It really shook me up. I don’t know this friend of his particularly well, but I do know that he isn’t even 40 years old yet, and has a wife and young daughter and has recently been going on fishing trips with my dad. When I spoke to my dad, he asked me “Please reach out to your church friends and ask for prayer, I don’t know anything else to do.”

It is interesting to me that even those who are not frequent church-goers, who don’t really read the Bible, know that prayer is powerful. Has there ever been anything in your life, that you know without a shadow of doubt would not have occurred had it not been for the power of Christ? There definitely has for me, and I believe in His power. I believe that He can heal. I believe in the prayers of His children. So for anyone who may be reading this blog, please say a prayer for the healing of my dad’s friend Kenny. God is listening and prayer is powerful.

"…The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (James 5:16).