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Sin.  Why is that word so taboo?

Facebook has opened up another avenue, a tremendous avenue, of public discourse.  Before this social arena, of course, we had opinion columns and letters to the editors in our newspapers, and even before that, we had speakers on park corners spouting notions about one thing or another.  This is good.  Our country’s founding fathers found it to be so good and so important that they even included the concept in our nation’s constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.  (U. S. Constitution, Amendment 1)

I am very grateful for the opportunity to live out my faith in Christ, to speak about anything, to gather with others peaceably and to even write a letter to my government officials about my concerns.  United States citizens, myself included, take this freedom for granted.  Too many of us are either unaware or callous to the fact that much of the world does not share those same rights.

So, because of this liberty, each and every person on Facebook, just for example, is able to write a post or a comment regarding personal beliefs.  Again, this is all good.  However, the problem arises when we resort to acting like third graders on the playground in our responses to others’ comments and beliefs.  Assuming the worst in people, grouping all people into one stereotypical category, name-calling, running on emotions…this is what we grown-ups need to rise above.  For people who deny Jesus Christ and live with a secular worldview (meaning that the natural world guides their understanding and wisdom about everything), if you happen to be reading this, please understand that Christians live with a biblical worldview.  We believe that the Bible is infallible, inerrant and the absolute standard of Truth.  It is our Rock.  Truth does not shift from one decade to the next.  Truth does not apply in one circumstance, yet change in another.  God guides us and He is a good, omnipotent God.  And, Christians, let’s remember that people who deny Christ will say things that are not biblical.  They will do things that are not biblical.  So, as we are commanded in the Word, let’s show them Christ.  How?  They will know we are Christians by our love.

Love is not all “touchy feely, anything goes, let’s just be happy”, though.  As the song goes, sometimes “love hurts”.  But, when love hurts, let’s be sure that the hurt comes from the realization of our sin’s offensiveness to a holy God and not from my rude behavior and snarky words.

So, to return to my opening sentence, why is “sin” such a taboo word in our culture today?  The other day, as I was talking with my friend, I thought of an illustration that may help explain.  If you’ve ever had a problem with cussing, you may relate to this illustration.  Let’s say you find yourself with a bad habit of swearing like a sailor.  Your friends swear, the TV shows and movies you watch are filled with curse words, it’s just commonplace to your ears.  But, you have victory over this habit of swearing and begin to surround yourself with people who aren’t cussers, you stop filling your ears with the coarse words and pretty soon you rarely hear such words.  Then, one day you decide to watch a movie that you enjoyed back in high school.  You remember all the fun parts, the songs, and you want to re-visit this great movie.  After the first five minutes, your ears are about ready to bleed because it is filled with cuss words and “f-bombs”, but the funny thing is that you don’t even remember that being an issue back when you watched it years ago.  Well, you had been de-sensitized to the cussing the first time you watched the movie.  But, now, it’s a different story.  The coarse words are hitting you like a brick wall.  Now, the word “sin” is the same way.  If you go to a church where sin is rarely talked about, where everyone is accepted just as they are with no exhortation to confess sins and repent and follow Jesus, or if you are in the world and sin is never ever discussed, then whenever a Christian mentions that something is called a sin by God, the brick wall hits you and you recoil at the word “sin” like I recoil at an “f-bomb”.  It’s like a “sin-bomb”!  Yet, if you go to a church that is faithful to present the gospel in its entirety, showing us our sin and leading us to our Savior from that sin, then you are familiar with the word “sin”.  When someone, in great love, comes to you and challenges you to see your sin and reject that sin, you don’t recoil or yell at them or make excuses…you hear them and go to God in prayer.

Christians, we must be faithful to the Word of God.  We must be bold to proclaim what is sin and what is not sin.  We must not compromise with the world and begin to change the gospel of Christ to be more palatable.  Sin is offensive to God.  And, it can be very offensive to us to hear about our sin.  But, we must get over ourselves if we want REAL happiness, or joy, and if we want REAL peace, and, most of all, if we want eternal life and not eternal condemnation.

Is this a little fire and brimstone?  Yes, probably so.  But, I’m finding that it’s becoming such a blurred line between Christians and the world that we must ask God for the courage to stand firm on His Word and not step into the shifting sand of our culture’s relative truths.  Christians, be bold.  Open your eyes and ‘see’ the mighty warriors of angels standing all around us, ‘see’ the crowd of witnesses who have gone before us, ‘see’ Jesus, at the right hand of the Father, interceding on our behalf, and stand firm!

Love, Wendy

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Not Even a Hint

Have you ever said something that you later regret?  I’m sure I’m not alone in this.  In a world where someone is always talking…on the news, on reality shows, on the internet, maybe even in our heads…it’s rare to truly get some peace and quiet.  Not only is it all very noisy, but in all this talking,  there is also much sinning.  How do I know this?  The Word of God tells me so.

In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.  Proverbs 10: 19

As a former speech therapist, may I use some medical jargon here?  If you are “verbose”, instead of “telegraphic”, in your speech, then you are probably prone to a lot of sin.  I don’t know about you, but I, unfortunately, fall into the former category.

The other day my mouth opened up and sin poured out.  I was in a group of Christian friends and my comment was sort of/kind of/a little bit funny.  Yet, something didn’t sit right with me after I said it.  Have you ever been there?  You know you’ve just sinned, but you’re in the midst of friends…Christian friends!…so you just blow it off.  You justify it.  “Oh, they know I love the Lord…no big deal…surely they knew I wasn’t serious…I’m really blowing this out of proportion…”

Then, as I was reading the Bible, I was struck by this verse:

But among you (dearly loved children of God), there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.  Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.  Ephesians 5: 3-4

I was convicted.  Now what would I do?

How do we respond when we sin?

The Lord wasn’t letting me go.  He would not give me any peace in my excuses.  The Holy Spirit kept bringing up the need to confess and repent.  There would be no satisfaction until I took care of business.  “But…it would be embarrassing to bring this “little thing” back up again.  But…I’m just going to stir the pot and look stupid.  But…they’re just going to think I’m over-the-top; everyone sins; they understand!  But…what if they’re mad at me and won’t accept my apology and won’t forgive me?”  The enemy certainly does not want us to be restored with God through confessing our sins.  The enemy desires us to be causing others to stumble through our unconfessed, and excused, sins.  The enemy lives to accuse me and torment me through his lies.  If I confess, then I’m bringing the truth to light…and he hates that.

Yet, God loves that.  And, He is so glorified.  Regardless of the other person’s response, we must be quick to see our sins and acknowledge them.  We must be humble and confess them.  We must be open to God giving us repentance.  We must fight our sins and walk out in victory over them through the power of the resurrected Jesus Christ.

We all sin every single day so every one of us can apply this post to our lives right here and right now.  Are our hearts soft enough to see our sin?  Are we humble enough to confess them and ask for forgiveness?  Are we believing that God is powerful enough to give us victory over our sins?  Will we press on and fight our sins day after day after day?  I know that I need fresh strength every new day to cooperate with any of this…God is so good to give this to us!

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness…”  2 Corinthians 12: 9

“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”  Lamentations 3: 22-23

Love, Wendy

Why Are You So Fearful?

Recently, while reading the account of Jesus sleeping in the boat while a great storm surrounded him and his disciples, I was struck by the application to my own life.  This narrative of the disciples freaking out while enduring a ferocious storm on a lake always seems to cause people to be astonished by the minimal faith these men possessed.  We read it and say things like this:  “But, Jesus was with them!  How could they have been scared?” or “How many times did they need to see Jesus perform miracles before they figured out that He was going to take care of them too?”  We’re all guilty of being astonished by the disciples’ lack of faith…yet, sometimes, God really speaks to our own souls and our own lack of faith too.

After a day of intense difficulty with homeschooling (wait, I think I meant to say ‘after a year…’), I lay on my bed and silently cried out to God, “Please, give me strength that I do not have!”  I begged for a relief from the arguing.  I pleaded that God would change my circumstance because I didn’t feel like I could go on like this.  My thoughts began to go to the “What if–?” realm.  Fear crept in as worst-case scenarios about my children’s futures bombarded me.  The fact that Jesus was with me, and has promised me that He always would be with me, became merely intellectual as my emotions began to carry me away.  Later, when reading Matthew 8 (and Mark 4), God spoke to my heart as I began to point my finger at the disciples’ lack of faith.  He showed me that my situation with homeschooling was my own “boat in the storm”.  I was crying out to God, yet my anxiety and fears were dominating the situation and preventing me from truly trusting in Jesus, Who was with me all along.

Who among us isn’t suffering at some point in time with fear or anxiety?  What situation in our lives can begin to take over our intellectual belief in God and cause us to act as if we are atheists (not believing He is there with us and powerful to handle this)?  May we learn from Jesus’ response to the disciples, “Why are you afraid?  You have so little faith!” and cry out to God when we, too, are full of fear from the overwhelming storms in our lives.

Father God, You are almighty!  Fill us with greater faith in You.  Give us the courage to face our storms with peace because You are our Protector and our Comforter.  Truly, You are our rock and our salvation, our fortress.  We will never be shaken.

Love, Wendy

Let’s get down to business, mamas…

  1. First, when making a mama’s boy, you must, and I repeat must, boss him around.  A lot.  Tell him what to do.  Tell him what not to do.  Make him utterly dependent upon you so he can never make a choice of his own with confidence.  
  2. Next, be sure and protect him all the time.  Keep him from taking any risks and have plenty of restrictions.
  3. Be fearful and let it show.
  4. Keep him from taking responsibility.  Encourage his blame-shifting and excuses.
  5. Don’t let him make any mistakes.

I realize that most of us moms would never speak these words or hang this list on the wall as our credo.  However, the challenge is in our actions.  It’s hard, and who can blame us?  We carried these babies, we nursed them, protected them from illnesses, kept them from running into the street, cared for them completely.  Yet, there comes a time in our young boys’ lives when they morph into young men.  Suddenly, they resist mom’s authority and cling to dad’s advice.  They align themselves with the men instead of cuddling up with the nurturing mamas.  As mothers, we can either be aware of this and encourage our sons to grow up…or we can fight their development and create an unnatural dependence upon us.

As you know, there are various seasons in our lives, in our mothering.  For us to tell our three-month-old sons to “stand up like a man and take it” would be neglectful.  Yet, to coddle our thirteen-year-old boy and keep him from learning how to become independent, how to protect, how to provide, this, too, is neglectful.  As much as it tugs on our mother’s heart, we must direct our son in the path of being his future wife’s and children’s provider and protector.  This has to be our trajectory.

To boss our sons around, to nag them, to protect them from their mistakes and from taking responsibility, and to surround them with our fear…we are setting our sons up for being passive fathers and husbands.  We are training him to abdicate his responsibilities as the leader of his family.  We are coaching them to be led around by their wives instead of leading their families as God has intended.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.  Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.    Ephesians 5: 23-24

This passage from Ephesians (please open your Bible and keep reading in this chapter…it’s beautiful!) shows us the role of the man and woman in a marriage.  When things go awry, and the man refuses to lead and the woman steps up and insists on leading, we reveal a contorted and wrong view of Christ and His Bride, the Church.  As we raise our boys, we must have this eternal view in mind.  Trust in the Lord as you allow your son to fail.  Teach him to learn from these failures; point him to Christ, His redeemer.  Showing our fearfulness reveals a lack of faith.  Yet, we have no reason to fear any lack in our perfect God.  He is the ultimate Protector and Provider and Leader.  Trust Him.

Take a moment and examine yourself.  Examine your marriage.  Examine your parenting.  Are you basing your actions upon the Word or upon your own understanding?  What is the fruit?

If you are struggling to honestly trust God and find that you have to orchestrate situations based on your own limited understanding because you don’t fully believe that God will care for you, or your family, then confess and repent.   If you find that you’re bossing around your husband, or quietly coercing circumstances so you are subtly leading him, then confess and repent.  If you are following the above five easy steps to raising a mama’s boy, confess and repent.  Our Redeemer, Jesus, will be faithful to forgive you and guide you in the way of righteousness.  And, though I struggle with all of the above, I want to be right there with Him as He forgives me, cleanses me and gives me victory over my sin.

Love, Wendy

“Give Way”

I hadn’t realized how long it had been since last posting on this blog.  I try to write every Thursday or Friday, but my most recent post was December 2012!  As you can figure, January was a very busy month for me.  It was actually a very exciting month for me.  My childhood dream of visiting the United Kingdom finally came true at the end of January.  We visited London, the English countryside and Wales; it was exactly as I’d imagined it to be!  While there, I enjoyed noticing the little differences in the English language, such as “Mind the gap, or mind the stairs” instead of “Watch your step” or “Give Way” was the instruction on the road sign instead of “Yield”.  For me, saying something differently causes me to stop and think rather than just ignore the same familiar statement or warning that I am used to seeing.

Years ago, when my husband and I were discussing the concept of the “sinner’s prayer”, he said something that bothered me at first.  Instead of focusing on the need to say a prayer for salvation, Dave commented that he did not like that idea because the journey of salvation was a daily “yielding” of his life.  He understood the concept of justification, but he also was comprehending sanctification, and better than I had been at the time.  See, our conversation consisted of the many people in our lives who had prayed “the prayer” (sometimes with us!), but whose lives did not reveal any changed fruit.  They weren’t living for God, but for self.  After hearing some sermons on the importance of following God all the time and not just getting your “Free Get Out of Hell Card” after saying a prayer, I was deeply challenged by the fact that sometimes the sinner’s prayer was used as an ‘insurance’ of getting into Heaven and nothing more.

I began to dwell on Dave’s comment about “yielding”.  What did that mean?  Yielding what?  And, to whom?  Many years have passed since that initial conversation with my husband and God has been faithful to show me time and time again what I must yield (all of me) and to whom (Him).  Romans 6 and Galatians 2 have been instrumental in helping me visualize what it means to yield my life to God.  I am no longer–I have been crucified with Christ.  I am raised from this death by the glory of the Father so I can walk in newness of life!  Everything must change.  There can’t be any coddling of former sin; I must hate it and ask God to give me repentance.    Does this happen overnight?  Sometimes.  But, oftentimes not.  And, in that process is our constant yielding.

So, while I was in England, and my poor husband was attempting to drive on the wrong side of the road (for us Americans, anyways), the signs that said, “Give Way” caused me to think in a different way about the word “yield”.  Of course I know it means to give way.  But, I began to imagine this in regards to my relationship with God.  Was I giving way to Him when I was full of anxiety about flying?  Was I giving way to Him when I was frightened about a possible medical diagnosis?  Was I giving way to Him when I was jet-lagged and super grumpy?  Or was I standing firm, not budging in my sins of anxiety, fear and rudeness?

Lord, may my commitment to walk in Your ways be firm.  But, may I be quick to “give way” when my ways, my flesh, want to take over.  Only through Your Holy Spirit am I able to walk as a child of the Light.  I lean on You today for that very thing.

Love, Wendy

Humility at Year-End

Writing on my blog on a Sunday isn’t a usual occurrence for me, but my schedule is all upside-down and turned around with being on Christmas break.  Actually, I received an email today from wordpress.com and wanted to share with you how amazed I was at the internet.  See, I’m just a mom in podunk northwest Ohio.  The reason for my writing is that I love the Lord and want to encourage other women who love Him to live for Him.  Taking a few minutes each week to compose an exhortation to women is a means of getting the Truth of God’s Word out there.

I had no idea whatsoever how the internet can get the Truth out there!

Today, wordpress sent me a year-end summary of this simple little blog.  I’d like to share two highlights with you…

  • The top 5 most read posts were:  “Oh, Be Careful Little Eyes” (written July 2012), “Judgmentalism” (written August 2012), “Intimate Issues” (written October 2012), “What’s the Point in Going to Church?” (written September 2009) and “What Does Your Husband Say?” (written September 2012)
  • 48 different countries are represented as readers of this blog.  As I scrolled through the various countries, I saw places like Russia, Indonesia, India, Nepal, Australia, Nigeria, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq!  I understand that, perhaps, someone in another country stumbled upon this blog and quickly left…but, perhaps, these people actually read about Jesus and were inspired to live valiantly for Him!  The thought of encouraging a sister-in-Christ in a country where she may be persecuted for doing so…this is beyond humbling.

I have been reminded that we must tell others God’s Truth often.  We are so prone to wander.  So, in my own very small way, I hope to be used by God mightily to impact His world.  Encourage His daughters.  Deliver His Truth through His Word.  Build His Kingdom.  It may be tempting to give up and recognize how such a small part to play may not be worthwhile…but, as the ever-optimist, I am asking you to join me in making a difference by grasping God’s Truth and teaching others His Word along with me.

Love, Wendy

Power!

Have you ever felt like you’re in a hopeless situation?  We just celebrated Christmas and some may feel let down–or even hopeless– after the exciting hustle and bustle of the holiday season.  Perhaps you’re sitting by while watching a loved one make dreadful decision after dreadful decision and you feel without hope.  Others may find themselves in trial after trial and sensing no relief from the storm.  Maybe you feel this way about our nation, your church, your family, yourself.  Our hopeless feelings can engulf us and leave us feeling like we’re suffocating or drowning and never getting above surface.  What’s left to do but fear?!  Yet, as Women of the Word, I want to challenge us to see the big picture and choose to trust our sovereign God Who is in control of all things.

Examine yourself in the midst of your hopelessness and consider some things.  Do you believe God is the Great I Am Who is sovereign over all?  If you do, then you can begin to truly trust that He is good, as the Word says, and He is working all things for the good of those who love Him.  You don’t know how He’s doing it, but you know He is and you can praise Him in the midst of that.  However, if you ask yourself if He is sovereign over all and come up wanting…then, chances are that you are struggling with the thought that the ultimate solution to this hopeless situation–or any situation–is up to you.  If God is not in control, who is?  The only option is…me.  Consider this.  Is this possible?  Seek God’s wisdom and ask Him to reveal to you if this is your way of thinking.  If He answers yes, then confess that and seek the Word for comfort and realize that He is indeed sovereign and we can utterly depend on Him.

Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?  Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.  Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?  Tell Me, if you have understanding.  Who determined its measurements?  Surely you know!  Or who stretched the line upon it?  To what were its foundations fastened?  Or who laid its cornerstone, when they morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Oh, we know this familiar response by God to Job in the midst of awful trials.  What a beautiful reminder to us, in the midst of hopelessness, that God is omnipotent!  And, that’s very practical for us today.  When we feel hopeless, we are without power.  Surely, we recognize our human limitations in certain situations and that’s when we “give in the towel”.  That surrender may take on a variety of faces–from complete depression to seeking others to help (this could be useful assistance or help from the wrong places) to giving up on our own “power” and depending fully on God’s true power.  But, if through our own unbelief, we limit God’s power, then we have found ourselves in a truly powerless condition.  Not believing in His sovereignty, not believing in His goodness, not believing in His providence…this leaves us powerless.  And scared.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  1 Peter 1:  3-5

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.  2 Peter 1: 2-4

There is no need to fear our own impotence over frightful and hopeless circumstances.  Do not give in and think there is no way out.  Do not give in and believe what is contrary to Scripture.  Do not give in and just “pull up your bootstraps and try harder”.  But, do give in and depend fully upon the power of God Himself.  This great power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is the same power at work in Believers!  If this is hard to believe, we can join the father who searched out Jesus for the healing of his son and cried out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Love, Wendy