Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Please remember

It's almost Thanksgiving here in the U.S.A., and while I don't want to do some cheesy post to tie in with it (I think giving thanks is something we should talk about all year long), I did just want to say that I'm thankful for all of you.

I'm thankful that you take the time to read my musings.

I'm thankful that you ask questions.

I'm thankful when you point out something you disagree with (let's face it, I'm no where near perfect).

Some of you I know personally. Some of you I don't know very well. Some of you are my closest friends. Some of you I've never met.

But if we had a few minutes, where we could sit and talk together, before we left, there's a few things I'd want you to know. That I pray you realize through the craziness of the season ahead of us, and all year long.

So as we rush into Thanksgiving, and into Christmas, please...remember...

You are a beautiful woman.

Your worth isn't in what you wear. What you look like. What clothing size you are.

Your worth is in Christ.

He loves you with an everlasting love.

The world has taught us that if we don't meet a certain standard, we are worthless.

But you are priceless in God's eyes.

Why would He send His Son to pay the price for our sins otherwise?

During this time of year, you're going to feel busy, rushed, like you can never get it all done.

But He gives you rest, He gives you strength, you can do all things through Him.

The world is full of liars, Satan's messengers who will try to tear you down and make you feel as if no one can love you.

Don't believe them.

Believe God.

You've messed up. You'll mess up some more. But God loves you no matter what.

Again, your worth isn't based on what you've done, or what you can do, or what you've failed to do.

It's based only in Christ.

Monday, November 17, 2014

"They're dead."

Okay, let's talk about another Disney movie!

As I've mentioned before, I love Disney movies. I don't care that technically I'm an adult (although I know some people who would argue whether reaching a certain age makes you an adult or not). I plan on watching Disney movies until I'm ninety, and probably beyond that.

So another movie I really love is Mulan (by the way, this is one of the few Disney movies where the good guys get most of the awesome lines). I just think it's so funny. Mushu is probably the best character (well, okay, little cricket dude Cri-Kee is pretty awesome too).

And I adore Mulan's grandmother.

Although she's not in it much, Grandmother Fa adds so much to the movie. Without her and Mushu, it'd be pretty dull. In fact, she gets to say most of my favorite lines (yay Grandma!).

One such line is from the scene where Grandmother Fa and Mulan's mother, Fa Li, are waiting for Mulan to arrive in town to get ready to meet the matchmaker.

Fa Li, pacing anxiously waiting for her wayward daughter, bemoans not praying to her ancestors for luck.

And then Grandmother Fa comes in with the awesome zing line: "How lucky can they be? They're dead."

Isn't that the truth?

People put their trust in things which are dead.

Buddha is dead.

Confucius is dead.

Muhammad is dead.

Moses is dead.

But Jesus Christ is alive.

All the world religions* (at least that I know of) involve trusting in the words of a dead man (or woman).

But we don't put our hope, our trust, our future, in some guy who lived and died eons ago. Our hope is in a Man Who not only lived a perfect, unblemished life, but also came back to life to be our Advocate at the Father's right hand.

Our trust for life is in Jesus.

Our trust for forgiveness is in Jesus.

Our trust for a healed relationship is in Jesus.

Don't trust dead people. Trust the One Who actually came back, Who put something besides hot air behind His words.

Trust Jesus.

*From what I understand of them, even Roman Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy (and their sister religions) trust more in Mary and the saints than Jesus. Again, they trust in something or someone other than Jesus, something or someone without any power to save them that is long gone / dead. Only trust in the Lord Jesus leads to salvation, trust in anything or anyone else is idolatry and useless.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Closed doors?

So in my family, we're kind of softies for cats.

Over the years, we've had tons of cats, mainly strays which have come to our door.

And now we've adopted another. 

This is Tito.

He lives in our basement. One night a while ago, when I was home alone, he came to the top of the steps and sat there crying to go outside. I wouldn't let him out though, no matter how much he cried. I know, I'm so cruel...

But the truth is, he has no front claws.

Front claws, in case you don't know, are a cat's front line of defense (which is why I think it's terribly cruel to de-claw them, but that's another story). Without those claws, it's really hard for cats to defend themselves should they need to. And where I live, dogs sometimes roam free, and there are other animals Tito could tousle with. Not to mention that people don't see as well at night, and could be sleepy, and the house is near the road...

So the truth is, I'm just protecting him. But he doesn't understand that. To him, I'm being cruel. He wants to go outside, to have fun doing whatever cats find so interesting out there, but I'm keeping him locked in the basement like some wicked witch. He doesn't understand, and he doesn't see the danger I'm trying to protect him from.

You know, that's kind of how it is with us and God sometimes.

God loves us so much, He tries to protect us. He can see the danger, but we can't. Sometimes we want things sooooooooooooooooooooo badly, we fight and fight and fight for them. But God closes the door. Sometimes, He has to slam it shut right before we sneak through, practically getting our fingers pinched. And then we whine, and moan, and beg God to let us through. And when He doesn't, when He bars the door, refusing to let us through, we think He's cruel, that maybe He doesn't really love us, that maybe it's all a lie, that maybe He doesn't really exist....

Because we don't see the danger. We don't see the car crash, the broken heart, the ruined health. We don't see the danger God is trying to protect us from. Instead, we see the bars He sets across the door as bars to keep us in prison, to keep us miserable. When really, the bars keep us safe, keep the evil out, protect us.

When you feel stuck, like doors keep slamming in your face, it could be that it's just not time yet. But it could also be that God's protecting you from something, that if you go down that path, it would lead to disaster.

Keep praying. Keep seeking His will. And remember, if the doors keep closing, maybe it's time to change direction.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Loving ourselves?

So I have many interests (it's easy to fascinate me, to be honest those sparkly sun catcher things kind of fascinate me). One of those interests is health and wellness. I read a couple newsletters on the subject, and lately I've seen a lot of articles on loving ourselves more.

Maybe it's just me, but it seems like this has become an ever increasing focus of the health movement. Loving ourselves. Putting ourselves first to better help others. Doing what we want to do.

But I wonder if that is really our problem.

When John the Baptist's disciples came to him, concerned over the ministry Jesus was doing because it was leading people away from John, he replied that was the way it was supposed to be (John 3:25-36). He told them that, through this ministry "He must increase, but I must decrease," (John 3:30, NKJV).

I may be taking this a little out of context here, but I think this verse applies to our lives as well. Jesus has given each of us a ministry, to work for His glory with our lives. As we work for His glory, to show people that He is the Way to forgiveness, redemption, and happiness, shouldn't we think less about ourselves, and more about Him?

Shouldn't we focus less on our wants, and more on His? Less on our desires, and more on His? Less on our plans, and more on His?

I am definitely not saying we should hate ourselves, or even dislike ourselves (after all, God created us, I'm pretty sure He wants us to appreciate His creation). I don't think there is anything wrong with loving yourself and taking care of yourself, even pampering yourself when the occasion is right. But I wonder if the reason why we're seeing a plethora of advice on loving ourselves, why it seems to be getting harder to love ourselves, is because we have our main focus all wrong?

What if, instead of focusing on loving ourselves more, we focus on loving God more? What if, instead of focusing on doing what we want, we focused on doing what He wants?

Maybe we have a hard time loving ourselves because we spend way too much time thinking about ourselves, increasing ourselves, when it should be the other way around.

Maybe, if we decreased, and allowed God to increase in our lives, we'd find it's not an issue. After all, if we're focused on God, we'll have very little time to worry about ourselves.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Happy Halloween?

Growing up, I always wanted to go trick-or-treating (hey, free candy’s hard to pass up). But my parents, being the God-fearing, God-serving people they are, never took us. 

Finally, though, after much asking, one year they did let us go…to our own house. Seriously. My brother, sister, and I went out our back door, and walked around to the front to ring the door bell and get candy thrown into pillowcases by our own parents.

Yeah. One of those childhood cringe moments. Made even more cringe-worthy by my “awesome” ghost costume of a pink blanket thrown over my head while I wore a nightgown. One of many for me, but that’s another story.

And although it stunk then, not being able to go and do something which seemed so fun… I’m really grateful they didn’t let us.

Because then I started thinking.

Halloween’s origins are disputed. Some say it started out as a Roman Catholic holiday. Others say it’s leftover from the old Celtic holiday of Sanhaim. But despite the origins, the emphasis is pretty much the same.

Halloween celebrates death.

Lighting candles for the dead…praying for the dead…putting offerings of food on graves…this is what  Halloween was birthed on.

Even trick-or-treating is thought to be based on a practice of exchanging food for praying for souls in purgatory.

Why are we celebrating death? God has made us alive again through our Savior Jesus Christ. All the dead who accepted His sacrifice aren’t dead: they’re alive.

Jesus Himself declares that death isn’t the end. In one of His many showdowns with the Sadducees, He says how, even in the times of the Old Testament, those who knew the truth realized there is a life beyond death:

“But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to Him all are alive. (Luke 20:37-38, NIV)

Let’s leave the celebration of death to those who have no hope, who reject their Only Hope. Instead, let’s celebrate life. Both what we have to serve Him now, and what we’ll have to praise Him in eternity.

Much better than some bag of candy.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Don't get it?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

There’s a whole lot of things I don’t get.

Like math. I’m pretty good at it, but when it comes to stuff like sine, cosine, and tangent, my mind just shuts down like a stubborn child (for some reason, even the creepy little rhyme “Oscar had a hold on Arthur” or whatever it was didn’t exactly make it any easier).

I also don’t get why my grandmother died of colon cancer when I was thirteen.

Or why some of my friends suffer with health issues when they try so desperately to eat right and take care of themselves.

Or why I couldn’t have some of the opportunities I so desperately wanted.

Or why…

Or why…

The good thing is, we don’t need to.

God’s plans are so much better than our own.

And even though He closes one door that we wanted to run through, He always opens another that will lead us down an even better path.

The thing is, we’ve got to take it on faith.

Think of it kind of like a GPS. We type in the address, and we trust that it’ll get us where we need to go (well, some of us have had better luck than others with those things, but that’s another story).

And when we’re driving along, we don’t get every single little step on that screen we’re following. We just get one step at a time.

And if you’re not willing to follow the GPS because you think you know a better way…well I know from experience that isn’t always such a good idea.

God has preprogrammed the GPS. He knows exactly where He wants us to get to. But we need to be willing to follow Him. We need to trust that He knows better than we do, even when it seems totally flying-pigs insane.

Because if we follow His guidance, we’ll get to exactly where He wants us to be. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Don't believe me

“Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” ~ Acts 17:10-11 NKJV

Any of you who know me personally probably think I’m a person who can be trusted, who knows what she’s talking about. But I’ll warn you right now, don’t believe a word I say.

Without checking it against what God says first, of course.

I think we can learn a thing or two from those people in Berea. They listened eagerly to Paul and Silas, but instead of letting it go in one ear and out the other, they actually took the time and went back to the Scriptures to make sure those guys were getting it right.

Because, let’s face it, we’re all human.

We all make mistakes.

It’s too easy to just let pastors and teachers and other people tell us what the Bible says, instead of actually checking it out ourselves. Some of those people distort God’s Word on purpose to deceive us. But others get it wrong because, like the rest of us, they don’t know it all. No one does except for God. And while the big slips might be obvious (after all, it’s in the Ten Commandments not to lie), other times someone in their sermon or presentation or blog post could make a mistake that’s a lot harder to catch, unless we check what they’re saying against God’s Word.

But don’t take my word on this. Grab your Bible and check it out for yourself; see if I’m right. After all, I know how many times I’ve messed up. And even though I try to be extremely careful, I’m bound to get something wrong (I sure don’t understand everything, and I hope I’m not deluded enough to think it’s impossible for me to mess up).

By the way, if you do find something I got wrong, let me know.