Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I have a confession. I have remained silent about something that has been bothering me for some time. I have chosen to not speak up about a topic that has had me concerned for years. I have been silent because the topic is awkward and is evil and embarrassing. But as a child of God, a wife, a mother, a friend, a mentor, and as a women's ministry director, I should speak when I am called to speak and I should speak out loud with the conviction that I feel in my heart. So ladies, I am speaking to you, first here, and then shared on the media outlets that I have chosen. I know because I post this blog on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest that there is the chance that men will read it. I have no control over that, but it is my hope and intention that this one will be left to the ladies, for it addresses a topic that is indeed, delicate. If you have ever valued anything I have ever said to you, if you have sought me out for advice, if you have read my writing and have been touched by the words that I have shared with you, do this for me:

Do not go see the movie Fifty Shades of Grey

Whether you are thinking about seeing it with a group of women or with your man or by yourself - just don't. Do not believe the lies of the enemy when you think that it is "just a movie." Do not be deceived into thinking that it is all make-believe and that what happened on the screen could never happen in real life or one of the other thousand lies that you will no-doubt encounter - such as the classic one: what happens between consenting adults is ok as long as it doesn't hurt anyone. Well guess what? The topics that this book and the subsequent movie deal with are not of God and they are not what God intended for a holy, ordained relationship, therefore they hurt people. Even innocent movie-goers. 

As you know I often stay away from areas that could be considered "pop-culture." I do joke with my friends and family (especially those younger than I) that I "try to stay current." And I do. I read articles, listen to music, and do what I can to be informed about what is going on in the world; I think it's important to know what's happening so that we can know how to meet needs and what issues we face. I want to know what people are being told so that I can know how to seek God's direction and search Scripture for counters to the counter-culture. God's women are faced with daily bombardment about their appearance, their roles, their sexuality, and I consider it part of my purpose on earth to help them sort out some of this trash and dig deep for the prize which is the Truth of God almighty. I read, I listen, I watch. 
But I know when to draw the line. And I will not read, listen to, or watch this book/movie. I don't need to. 

You may ask, if you haven't read it or watched it, then how can you make this statement? I know enough. I know what it is about, and I know that the kind of actions and behavior that takes place is not what God intended when He created me in His image. It is filled with sin, and sin is wrong, in case you forgot. Sin can seem exciting and enticing and intriguing and that's exactly what sin does- that's why we are lured toward it. We are prone to sin and therefore we are weak and able to fall. So do you think that seeing a movie that is based completely on sin would be a good idea? Do you really think that you would come out of the theater unblemished? 

You may be reading this and thinking, "Why is she going on about this? Who would go see this movie? Certainly none of my sisters in Christ!" You'd be surprised, dear sister. 

I am linking an article from the Lifeway Christian Resources women's ministry page to this page of my own. I urge you to read this article and then pray for God's direction in your life regarding all the social media, cultural influences, and so-called forms of entertainment that are prevalent in our world today. 

Lifeway Christian Resources

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns regarding this or if you challenge my opinion. I'd love to have the opportunity to explain to you why it's so important that we stand strong as women who can look ourselves and our daughters in the eyes and know that we have made the right choices and we have treated ourselves and each other with respect. It's up to us to carry ourselves with the dignity that God has given us and to be able to know without a doubt that we have honored Him with our bodies and our minds. Because if you and I don't respect ourselves first, who will? 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

As I write this, there is a red-tailed hawk sitting on my roof. Now it's nothing unusual to see, hear, and experience hawks in southern Chesapeake. They're everywhere in these parts, and I am thrilled. In fact, it's just about the most appropriate high-school mascot there is around. I've always loved birds of prey- from the small American Kestrel to the Harpy Eagle- and every owl in between. But right now, as I am writing, there is a hawk right on top of our roof. 

I spotted him from the kitchen earlier this morning. My husband had already seen him in the neighbor's yard, but my first glimpse was when he (or she) was sitting on the rail of the firewood rack. I wanted to get a picture of him, but I didn't want to walk away from my view. I was so happy he was there- I just was enjoying the thought that he took up a little residence in our yard. 

But it is early in the morning and I also require coffee. So while refilling my cup and listening to the unmistakable call of a Red-tailed Hawk, I realized he was on the wing. 
(Click here if you want to hear the call. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/red-tailed_hawk/sounds Darting through the kitchen barefoot on Frankenfoot, I went back and forth from window to window to see him- hoping that he was getting his breakfast as well. 

No, he just flew to the top of my house. I can tell because he is still calling to his mate. How wonderful! I suddenly feel so protected, so special. The feeling that there is something over me that is strong and fast and majestic gives me a sense of comfort and position. This bird can see eight times better than we can. Guaranteed that whatever we are seeing currently, he has already seen it and evaluated it as a threat or not. Snake slithering up? No problem- he's got it. Field rat? His snack. On it. All the animals that could pose a threat are his for the taking. This bird is extremely territorial. It mates for life and will do whatever is necessary to protect its family, even sacrificing its own life to save the lives of those it protects. 

As people drive by, I wonder if people are noticing this great bird on my house. Some won't. They're busy navigating the curves or just getting to their destination. They're just too busy to take the time to look. Some will notice, but they won't recognize it as a hawk. They'll mistake it for a vulture or a large crow. But I hope some others who go by will take a look and see what I feel: there is something special happening over here.

Of course, you know me by now. You know I am seeing the Big Picture here. You know I am praising my God Who is over my home and my life even now. You know that He offers me protection, comfort, security, and life forever. You know that my hope is that someone will take one look at my life and know that there is Someone over me that makes me...different. 

But unlike the scene with the bird on my roof, it isn't up to the other person to recognize it. It's up to me to show it. 

So I pray today that whatever I say, whatever I do, whatever I am, will only draw attention to the One true God and that others will always see Him over me. 

Fly on, majestic hawk, and glorify the One Who made you. 

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

Thursday, February 5, 2015

You have worth. 

Let me repeat myself. You have worth. 

We really don't dwell on that much as Christians. We're busy trying to be humble and be last so we'll be first and decreasing and everything. Please don't be offended: nothing is wrong with any of that! And don't think my casual approach makes me any less reverent. I know Who is in control of my life and I give Him ALL the honor and praise.

But I have a message for you: You have worth. 

Recently I was looking at the stars with my husband. I shared with him how I feel when I gaze up at the vast display of stars, planets, and beyond. Most people say they feel small and insignificant. Not me. I feel...special. I know that God created the heavens and He numbers each star. I know He set the planets in motion and that life as we know it hinges on the balance of the spinning and orbiting and perihelion and aphelion and all the other terms that we have used to describe what is really happening: God is in charge! And guess what- He made me. Me! In His image. How could I feel small when I'm a part of something so huge and important as being created by the God of the universe? 

As always when I ponder the nature of God, I am reminded of the great lengths He went to in order to create everything that surrounds us. I've already written about the beauty of nature, but it bears a little repeating: He made it ALL. The birds, the flowers, the trees, the mountains, the oceans-- all of nature is there for me to enjoy and to care for and to use for my nourishment. And I get to experience it every.single.day.
But wait, there's more!

He knew that I couldn't possibly live life according to the rules (ten little rules, all logical and kind) so He did what I cannot even imagine doing. 

He sent His one and only Son to die in my place and pay every price for the sins that I was going to commit. 

He would have gone to the cross, even if it had only been my sin. That's how much He loves me. 

Now tell me-- does that sound like something you would do for someone who had no worth at all? 

I know that I did nothing- absolutely nothing- to earn His love and His mercy. Nothing. In fact, I have done everything to seemingly make Him want to turn away. But He has never done that, nor will He. 

Because He loves me. 

He doesn't care what kind of clothes I wear. He just wants me to have clothes. 
He doesn't care what kind of education I have. He wants me to seek Him. 
He doesn't care what I look like. He only wants me to look like Him. 
He doesn't care how old I am. He has numbered my days. 
He doesn't care if I just finished sinning. He's just glad I finished. 
And if I am right smack in the middle of sin? He's sad and He wants it to stop.   
Because He cares about ME. He cares about my heart
And He loves me anyway. 

And He always will. 

So the next time you allow the enemy to invade your mind and to place doubt about your worth, tell him to back off. You were created by the God of the universe and He makes no mistakes. Call on Jesus to rescue you from the sin you are in and be sincere. Mean it. He will charge into your life like an army and there will be no room for sin or fear or hatred. Only love and compassion and mercy and about a million other amazing feelings will fill your wounded heart. 

Know why? He loves you. And because of that, you have worth. 

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

Matthew 10:31 So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 

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