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Archive for March, 2013

Lately I have been writing about things that make my heart hurt, things I study in the Bible, and sermons I felt worth sharing, but I would like to know: what would YOU like to read about? I have a few things in mind for the future, but if I can help shed some light on something for someone I’d be glad to do it. Leave a comment or send a message with a topic suggestion. 🙂

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What is commitment? Does anyone know these days? Here’s what the dictionary has to say about that.

1 a : an act of committing to a charge or trust: as (1) : a consignment to a penal or mental institution (2) : an act of referring a matter to a legislative committee b : mittimus
2 a : an agreement or pledge to do something in the future; especially : an engagement to assume a financial obligation at a future date

 b : something pledged
 c : the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled <a commitment to a cause>
A commitment does not have to be a signed formal contract (not that those last long in this century), it can be a spoken word, a written message, or a non-verbal understanding.
This week I’ve witnessed two acts of non-commitment. A friend left his wife because, as he said “she has issues she needs to work out”  (though he does too…) and another friend was cheated on for the second time. The first instance is sad because a husband (or wife) should be committed to their spouse no matter what.  In sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for better or for worse, as long as you both shall live. ‘Til death do us part! Nowhere in this verbal agreement does it say, “I get to leave you because you have issues.” The second instance is sad because within days of saying “I want to be with you” to my friend, this guy was with another girl. After he had already been forgiven for cheating on my friend once, he was with another girl. What is wrong with these people?!
1 Corinthians 7:10-11: “But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not [d]leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not [e]divorce his wife.”
Malachi 2:13-16 tells us that God does not accept the offerings of those who are unfaithful to their spouses: Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. 1You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.

Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring.[c] So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,”[d] says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful. 

The Bible says that God hates divorce. Why? Because it tears apart something that he has designed to function as one unit. We were created to be married and partnered with someone for all our lives.

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

I know that ending a relationship is not nearly as serious as ending a marriage, but it has the same effect in this day and age. It used to be that people did not have an intimate emotional relationship until the point where they were engaged or married. In our society we have a serious intimate relationship before we are married, often with physical affection attached. When these relationships end abruptly, they can be just as painful as divorce (even if they’re less complicated legally).

All this is to say PUT ON YOUR BIG BOY PANTIES AND DEAL WITH IT!!!! When you commit to a relationship you are in it until you have a seriously good reason to end it. “I met another girl” is not a good reason, nor is “I’m bored” or “you gained weight” or “you aren’t as perfect as I thought you were.” If there’s a logical reason to end a relationship, be honest and just do it. If you’re married, just deal with it. Get counseling, talk to a pastor, and stick with it. There is NO good reason to end a marriage, even if you think there is one at the time. Deal with it.

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,that He might present to Himself the church [q]in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she [r]respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:22-33)

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Some thoughts on wise spending habits, in no particular order. Just some things I’ve found helpful in life.

1. If you don’t need it, don’t get it. Something that is not needed immediately and can wait for the next paycheck probably should.

2. Keep track of how much you typically spend on “date night”; dinner and a movie can quickly add up to more than $50. If you do this every weekend, that’s $200 that you can’t get back. Save up for special nights: a trip to Disney World, perhaps.

3. Instead of going out every weekend on a nice date, try a casual date night. Dinner at your local pizza buffet (Cici’s – $5 all March!) and then hit up the cheap show times at your local movie theater. You’ll end up spending about $25, half of a typical date night. Or, if possible, catch a drive-in movie and take a picnic lunch. Go to the beach for an afternoon and get smoothies to cool off, or take a walk at the pier with some hot chocolate from Starbucks. Romantic moments don’t have to be expensive!

4. Refrain from getting a snack or drink every time you’re on the road. In fact, avoid eating out during the day as much as possible. Your wallet and your waistline will thank you.

5. Regarding sales: If you didn’t need it, you didn’t save anything. Grandpa’s wise words.

6. If you can pack a lunch or cook at home, do it! The food is much healthier, and you will save a lot of money. Find quick meals you enjoy and you’ll look forward to it.

7. If you can do it yourself, don’t pay someone else to do it. This applies to things like: sewing buttons, mending clothing, cooking meals, installing car batteries, etc. I inherited a bread-making machine: It costs about $20 to make an average of 6 or 7 loaves of bread. Much healthier for you, and cheaper than the $4 wheat breads at the store.

8. Decide what things you need to spend a little extra on, and then buy the store version of everything else. I have long hair, so I use shampoo and conditioner that is about $5-7 a bottle instead of the cheap brands that ruin my hair (I use Dove, Fructis, and Pantene most often). If you value eating healthy food, it’s ok to spend a little more on that. If you think Walmart brand Cheerios aren’t so great, try the Publix, or just stick with the more-expensive cheerios. You get the idea.

9. It doesn’t have to be a Lamborghini. You can get by with the Toyota of almost anything. I use CoverGirl makeup instead of Clinique, like I used to. It’s cheaper, and works nearly as well.

10. When it comes to items that need to last, like sneakers and appliances, buy a decent item the first time. Go ahead and spend that money. If you’re a runner, buying a pair of $50 running shoes is more economical in the long run if they’ll last 6 years instead of buying $30 pairs every three years.

11. Buy in bulk when you can. My husband and I use honey instead of sugar, and it’s an ingredient in his favorite lunch: peanut butter sandwiches. Buying in bulk lasts longer and is cheaper in the long run.

12. Support local stores and mom&pop shops. I go to a local produce store instead of Publix; the food is fresh, better tasting, and much less expensive. When you go out for lunch, support a local family-owned restaurant. The service is usually friendlier too!

13. Don’t by useless gadgets that you’ll never use. Remember that weird looking chopper in your drawer? It’s a pineapple slicer. Last time you used it? 3 years ago. Now the apple-corer, on the other hand, you use on a weekly basis. Don’t buy things that you won’t use if you can do it yourself; they waste money AND take up space. A strawberry slicer would be neat, and we do eat strawberries a lot, but would it lessen my work load significantly? Probably not. Now a sweet potato fry slicer, that is a worthwhile investment. We eat them often, and the fries are terribly difficult to cut.

14. Avoid going to the mall if there isn’t anything you actually need. Instead, try a place like Plato’s Closet or Ashley’s Closet. These are second-hand stores that only purchase from the seller those items that are in excellent condition in the current trends. There is always such variety of style, size, and color, that you are almost certain to find something that you need and like. For $20 I can get a pair of Levi’s and a shirt from American Eagle. Not a bad deal for a whole new outfit!

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In the past few years I have gained a new perspective, a new life, and a new me. I am always undergoing changes, and by the grace of God I am making improvements slowly but surely. I feel that I have overcome many obstacles in my path; trials that are natural to mankind, frustrations brought upon by my sin nature, and difficulties inflicted on me by family failings. I am overcoming them all.

The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about poverty, and namely how to avoid it. A proverb is a wise and trusted saying, so the Christian book of Proverbs is a veritable gold mine of wisdom (which it reminds us to seek). Among the sayings about poverty we are reminded that someone who neglects discipline will surely come to poverty and shame (Pvbs 13:18). There is profit in all labor, but those who simply talk will come to poverty (14:23). The glutton, drunkard, and drowsy person (someone who is lazy/sleeps a lot) will come to poverty. (23:21). And I particularly like the imagery of Proverbs 6:10-11:

“A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to [a]rest”—
11 Your poverty will come in like a [b]vagabond
And your need like [c]an armed man.

(See this page for more references.)

My family has always been poor, and as a child I looked upon it as something that was put upon us, an unfair disadvantage brought about by adverse circumstances (such as family health problems) and through no fault of our own. As I grew up and expanded my mind beyond what I knew I came to realize that most of our problems in my family could have been fixed by one thing: diligence. This can apply in any area of our lives. Diligence in discipline (train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it), diligence in maintaining healthy behaviors, and diligence in working at home and on the job. All this is to say that I hope and pray that I can be diligent in the future and keep my children from the issues that I have had to face.

Things that I have overcome or am overcoming:

Poverty: I work hard at several part-time jobs (subbing, lessons at 2 studios, instrumental coaching), and I keep my spending to a minimum. (Some tips on that later.) If it’s not needed and not justifiable, I don’t get it.

Housework: Rather than leave the work for someone else to do (my husband), I just get up and do it! Rather than putting it off until tomorrow, I just get up and do it! My household is thus far clean and fairly well-organized, though not perfect by any means.

Weight: My family has always struggled with weight. Part of it was due to lack of self-control in eating habits, but also because cheap food is usually not health food (white bread, anyone?). I am down from the obese 180 that I was in high school, to a healthy 128. I know the properties of the food I eat, how many calories I consume, and choose when to have those special treats. I avoid getting food on the go and my waistline thanks me. I also work out when I can. I feel great!

Anger/Impulsiveness: One of the consequences of the lack of diligence and self-control that Iw as exposed to during childhood caused me to be rather angry. Sometimes there was hypocrisy, which didn’t help matters. Being intelligent and angry, and well-read, often caused me to say harmful things before thinking about them. I was a miserable child: fat, unpopular, awkward, poor, smart, and to top it all off, a Christian (values and standards were frowned upon). Not many people liked me. I was angry. Depressed. I feel that if someone had helped guide me through the torrent of emotions of my teenage years I might have been better for it. This is something I have made great progress in, and the majority of my battles are now internal, but something I am still working on.

Some wonderful new changes in my life, thanks to the goodness of God: I have a wonderful husband, and we live in our own little apartment. I have a job at a new lesson studio, with Christian proprietors, and am looking into another job. I have new and better friends than some of the people who I was hanging around with at work and college, and have been developing these friendships. I am less stressed/angry than I was in high school, have lost weight, and I feel more confident about myself. And I have a new outlook on life, renewed faith in God, and a renewed determination to seek Him out and to gain knowledge of theology, etc. Life is good!

I want you to know that you can overcome anything! With patience, diligence, self-discipline, and by leaning on God and his grace, you can have the abundant and joy-filled life God has called you to have.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22)

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What an exciting day! Last weekend I had the opportunity to go to the Ligonier National conference in Orlando. I was unable to stay for all three days, but I went on the longest day of the conference to hear such speakers as R.C. Sproul Jr., Alistair Begg, Sinclair Ferguson, Cal Thomas, David Murray, and my favorite, Ravi Zacharias. It was incredible to see these humbly intelligent men of God defend their faith and encourage the believers.

I wish I could give a synopsis of all the messages, and I might try at a later time, but for now here are some thoughts, and the speakers I learned these thoughts from:

The phrase “doctrine divides but shared experience unites” is used often to defend ignorance and the lack of desire (or inability) to learn true doctrinal values. It should rather be said that our doctrine shapes our experiences. If we know our doctrine and our basic catechism, we can begin to diagnose the human condition and find a cure for what ails us, much like a doctor knows the human body and can prescribe the antidote for our sickness. (Sinclair Ferguson)

Many people refuse to come to Christ because they do not like Christians, and because we Christians are so far from the God we profess. Ephesions 5 encourages us “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved [a]you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God [b]as a fragrant aroma.” In John 13:35 Jesus says that they will know we are Christians by our love, but the modern version would read “they will know we are Christians by our (grumble grumble).” Many non-believers are turned away from Christianity because we seem super-pious, holier-than-thou, joyless, and grumpy. Let’s change this. (Alistair Begg)

Further thoughts later…

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A great poem I came across while reading Ravi Zacharias’ book “Can Man Live Without God?”. Also see the writing by Dorothy Sayers, Creed or Chaos.

Creed
by Steve Turner

We believe in Marxfreudanddarwin
We believe everything is OK
as long as you don’t hurt anyone
to the best of your definition of “hurt”,
and to the best of your definition of “knowledge”.

We believe in sex before, during, and
after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy’s OK.
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything’s getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated
And you can prove anything with evidence.

We believe there’s something in horoscopes,
UFO’s and bent spoons.
Jesus was a good man just like Buddha,
Mohammed, and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher though we think
His good morals were very bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same-
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of creation,
sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

We believe that after death comes the Nothing
Because when you ask the dead what happens
they say nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied, then its
compulsory heaven for all excepting perhaps
Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Kahn

We believe in Masters and Johnson
What’s selected is average.
What’s average is normal.
What’s normal is good.

We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between warfare and
bloodshed.
Americans should beat their guns into tractors .
And the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good.
It’s only his behavior that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth that
is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust.
History will alter.

We believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejection of creeds,
And the flowering of individual thought.

Postscript:
If chance be the Father of all flesh,
disaster is his rainbow in the sky
and when you hear:

“State of Emergency!”

“Sniper Kills Ten!”
“Troops on Rampage!”
“Whites go Looting!”
“Bomb Blasts School!”

It is but the sound of man
worshipping his maker.”

“If God is dead, somebody is going to have to take his place. It will be megalomania or erotomania, the drive for power or the drive for pleasure, the clenched fist or the phallus, Hitler or Hugh Hefner.” — Malcolm Muggeridge

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An article I found on http://www.marrywell.org The website had lots of useful articles and other resources, maybe you should check it out! I originally shared the article on Facebook and then stumbled across it again today as I was sharing a new “note” on facebook (the poem “Creed”, by Steve Turner). Enjoy!

Growing in Biblical womanhood

by Candice Watters

 In our culture, it’s become accepted that men, by their nature, are brutes, jerks or buffoons, while women, by their nature are loyal, smart and admirable. Men, bad. Women, good. That’s the underlying worldview of the majority of the entertainment, education and even public policy (laws) that surround us. So it’s not surprising that even Christians believe men — even Christian men — have to become biblical while women who know Christ already are.

The reality for both male and female is that we were created different (Jesus said, “Haven’t you read … that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’”), we are all sinners (“all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”), and we all have the potential to be redeemed (“whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”). Accepting Christ’s gift of redemption is a decision that begins the process of sanctification. It’s this process — this pilgrimage — that requires both male and female to actively work at becoming who God originally created us to be.

It’s not enough to have the body parts. Or even to be saved. That’s where it starts. But biblical femininity requires first, understanding what God designed woman to be and second, deciding to become that woman and living it out.

Several years ago I studied the Bible through a course called Five Aspects of Woman by Barbara Mouser. It not only answers the question — What is biblical womanhood? — but also gives lots of practical applications for being a biblical woman. Far from the stereotypical head-covered, docile, kitchen-bound caricature the media so loves to spoof, this is a serious study that embraces the complexity, creativity and beauty of God’s design.

 The Five Aspects, as described in the study, are:

 Mistress of the Domain (Genesis 1) — Woman, like man, is created in God’s image and has authority from God to rule, subdue and be productive. Because of sin, however, she both “abuses and abandons” her call to stewardship (characterized by manipulation, pride and domination, biblical example: Jezebel). As she is sanctified, she reclaims, with the help of the Holy Spirit, the areas of responsibility God has given her (her home, her studies, her work, her marriage, her children, etc.) to God’s glory (characterized by humility, hope and productivity, biblical example: the Shunammite woman).

 Helper-Completer (Genesis 2) — “Woman, from the man and for the man, completes him in his person and his work. As helper, she provides partnership in work, fellowship in body and spirit and membership in marriage.” In our spirituality, at the foot of the cross, man and woman are alike. Both are in need of a savior, both able to accept salvation and find fullness in Christ. But in our humanity, male and female are different. Under the curse of sin, we are competitors. Once redeemed, we are complementary: a man, by God’s design, needs help. A woman needs to give help. We fit together like pieces of a puzzle.

 Lifegiver (Genesis 3) — God created women uniquely to literally bring forth new life. The ability to bear children is the obvious mark of His design. Women are also designed to nurture (this includes married and single women). Marred by sin, women despise, neglect or smother their children. The extreme example being abortion. The redeemed woman “does all she can to alleviate the suffering of others … and eagerly seeks to have children, both physically and spiritually.”

 Lady of Wisdom (Proverbs 1-9, 31) — “Wisdom is the body of God’s creation principles.” In the book of Proverbs “she is personified as a woman.” As created by God, she is the “inviter and hostess, reprover and teacher, counselor, protectress, patron and friend.” In our fallen state, women model not wisdom, but folly. They deny Truth and do what feels right, rather than what is right (biblical examples: Eve, Delilah, Potiphar’s wife and the Proverbs woman of folly). Once redeemed, women can become wise by mastering skills and studying to develop their minds. Skillful and intellectual women are in a position to influence their world for God’s kingdom (biblical examples: Proverbs 31 wife; Ruth; Esther and the wise woman of Abel).

 Glory of Man (1 Corinthians 11, Ephesians 5) — As created, woman “glorifies her husband and her heavenly King with submission, adornment, purity and love. She emulates the Church’s membership, as her husband emulates Christ’s headship.” In her fallen state, woman makes her beauty an end in itself, leading ultimately to ugliness (shame, lust, pride and sexual perversion, for examples; see Isaiah 3 and Ezekiel 16). Once redeemed, a woman is free to use her beauty for the benefit of her heavenly father and when married, for her husband.

 Because this trait is so interdependent on created man, a godly woman must “find a man who commands her respect and wins her love; to please, be beautiful for, desired and cherished by such a man.”

As you can see, becoming godly is no less a process of learning and practice for women than it is for men. In summary, we must as men and women, strive for spiritual strength and maturity, “full of the basic virtues, if we are ever going to be a glory with the opposite sex…. Masculine authority does not limit [a woman’s] giftedness; rather it increases the effectiveness of [her] labors.”1

NOTE: Quoted material, other than Scripture verses, are taken from Barbara Mouser, Five Aspects of Woman, (Waxahachie: International Council for Gender Studies, 2002).

Copyright 2007 Candice Watters. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

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