Monday, February 23, 2015

Why I Don't Like How People Use These Words

This is a Bible. A giant book of cats is not.


We know what these words mean. The world uses these words in a different way than their definition.

And I hate it.

Like seriously.

There are certain phrases you'll hear thrown around a lot containing these words. You probably can name a handful of them yourself. Like the Cat Bible. Or the popular show, Property Virgins. These terms seem to be becoming more and more popular in our culture.

On Amazon, for example, I found more than a dozen cookbooks with "Bible" in their titles.

I hate the way these terms are used in these titles/phrases.

It cheapens the meaning

The Bible isn't just a book of wisdom. It's the infallible, God-breathed, sacred teaching of God Almighty Himself.

A virgin doesn't just refer to not having done something before. Rather, it specifically refers to someone who has never known another person sexually. Someone who, instead of falling into the temptations of the world, has chosen to keep his or her body pure until marriage.

By using these terms in the way the world has started to use them, it devalues them. When we refer to books containing inordinate amounts of information as "bibles," we start to lose our wonder, awe, and respect for the Word and the One Who wrote it. When we use the word virgin to refer to anything someone hasn't done before ("Oh, I'm a homework virgin"), we scoff at the gift God's given us to give to our husband someday.

You might read this and think I'm overreacting. Or nit-picking. Or getting into the legalism pool. But if we as Christians make light and use these words regardless of their true meaning, how can we expect anyone to take them seriously?

How can we expect someone to hold the Bible as the truly sacred book it is when we boast the Mac N' Cheese Bible on the same shelf?

How can we expect our friend who's struggling to keep sexually pure with her boyfriend think it's worth it when she hears the word "virgin" dropping from our lips as we say we've never worn a pair of heels before?

I'm not saying we should go bashing people who use these terms. They've been conditioned by the sinful world they live in. But I am saying that we as Christians should not partake in the world's shameful speech. We should not make light of these words.

A Bible is God's holy, incorruptible Word.

A virgin is someone saving him or herself for marriage.

And that's it.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Why I Love Meditating

Doubtless you've heard of it. Meditation features in almost every TV show/movie that has an eastern flair or character in it. It's a huge part of New Age practices, and abounds in yoga.

It's also in the Bible.

More on that in a bit.

Meditation has gotten a bad rep from the way people practice it, but it has many benefits. For me personally, I notice I am more focused and calmer on days I take the time for it.

And unless you think I've totally gone off the deep end of sanity into some miry pit, check out the Psalms. At least a handful of them talk about meditating (especially Psalm 119), though not in the way we hear it described today. Rather than the common "empty your mind" nonsense, the Psalms name something specific we are to fill our mind with: God's Word.

You see, meditation as described in the Bible is really just a fancy way of saying focus on/think about.

Meditating on God's Word is useful. Meditating on nothing and letting any little thought float around in there is like jumping into a garbage truck and expecting to come out squeaky clean in the end.

So of course, we don't want to practice meditation the way it's normally taught. Emptying your mind is never a good thing. If you're thinking of nothing, you can bet your last pair of fuzzy socks that Satan's going to take care of that. Instead, let's follow the example of the Psalms. Here's what I meditate on, and recommend you do the same.

1. God's Word

"My eyes are awake through the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word." 
~Psalm 119:148 NKJV

Meditating on God's Word reminds us of what He has already done, what He's capable of, and what He's promised to do. It reminds us that we don't have to worry, because He's bigger than our problems. It reminds us of how much He loves us, and how He's working everything out for good toward us.

See why I find it so calming? How can we be stressed when we remember those things?

I like to especially focus on verses such as Proverbs 3:5-6, Philippians 4:13, Joshua 1:9, and Hebrews 13:5.

2. What God has already done in your life

"Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you." ~ 1 Samuel 12:24 NKJV
Samuel spoke this to Israel at Saul's coronation, and imagine how differently things may have worked out if the people had listened to him! 
No matter how horrid you might think your life right now, no matter what kind of mess you're in, if you think hard enough, you can remember something awesome God did in your life. God worked it out so I have a part-time job. There's lots of people without even that much. God helped me find some pretty awesome friends. God gave me a pretty amazing family.

Think about how much worse your life could have been. God saved you from that. And if your situation is pretty amazing right now, this exercise should be easy.

3. What God is like

"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits" ~ Psalm 103:2 NKJV

Think about it. When you're constantly reminding yourself how mighty, strong, kind, loving, forgiving, powerful, wise, comforting, and merciful God was, is, and will continue to be, it's hard to get into a funk. It also makes it easier to know what you should be doing (hint: if God is the same now as He was a thousand years ago, you can be pretty sure the Ten Commandments still stand, let alone the teachings of the New Testament). Don't remember all his attributes? Psalm 103 is a good place to start (it also talks about a lot of things He does for us).

Just take a few minutes a day and try it. I usually try to meditate a few minutes in the morning and the evening, to get myself ready for the day and to unwind before going to bed. See how you feel after trying it for a few days.

What are some of your favorite verses to meditate on? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

6 Things I Need to Remember

Some days are a breeze. Others are hard. Like today.

There's a lot of stuff going on in my life right now ("Yeah yeah, Christy, join the club." I know, you all have a lot going on, too). And honestly, sometimes I get drained from it all. Like today. I came home late from work with a bad headache and a bunch of things to get done, only to have some unexpected things pop up. My to-do-list won't be finished today.

Days like this, when seemingly nothing goes my way (I admit, hyperbole, but hey, that's what it feels like), I can feel like a failure. Like somehow I messed up this whole life thing (yep, cue drama queen).

On those days, and honestly every day, there's a list of things that I need to remember: 

1. God loves me.

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, 
in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
 ~ Romans 5:8 NKJV

Isn't it amazing, that our God loved us so much, He was willing to die for us? And He paid the price for our sins before we even acknowledged His existence. Jesus died for people who mocked and ridiculed Him, for people who thought He was a fool. It takes great love to give up your life for a friend. Jesus died for us while we still counted Him the enemy.

2. God renews my strength.

 "He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.  
Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall,  
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 40:29-31 NKJV

Even when I'm exhausted, God can give me the strength to carry on. It might not mean that I get every thing I wanted to get done finished, but it does mean I'll have the strength to get done everything that needs to be done.

3. God provides for my needs.

"Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or 
‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. 
For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." 
~ Matthew 6:31-33 NKJV

The unsaved worry about how they are going to survive, because they don't have the assurance we have in Christ. Even when it seems dark, He'll provide our needs (if you still have doubts, just read the rest of Matthew 6, and search the web for George Mueller).

4. God is my shield.

"As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?" 
~ 2 Samuel 22:31-32 NKJV

Nothing can come against me and cause me harm without God's permission. 

5. God forgives me.

"As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." 
~ Psalm 103:12 NKJV

Even when I mess up big time, God is willing and able to forgive me. He loves me no less, and there is never a cap on the number of times He forgives me for my sins.

6. God is my guide.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;  
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."
 ~ Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV
God guides my steps. He doesn't leave me to try to figure this whole life thing out by myself (praise Him for that!).

We all have crazy lives at times. Some of you may be going through a rough patch as well. Please remember, God will give you the strength to get through. He defends you, loves you, provides for you, forgives your faults. He guides you into the way He wants you to go.