Sunday, April 24, 2016

Just the Facts


Okay, I just have to say this out of desperation and frustration at all the hype and nonsense floating around out there on the Internet. For those of you who post political articles, I urge you to please think before you post and research a little, no matter which candidate you stand for.

Make sure your articles hold up to scrutiny by checking:
  1. Are they factual? Do they use actual quotes from the candidates and are the quotes taken in the right context.
  2. Do the articles come from reliable, reputable sources? Steer clear of sites that will post anything and everything for the thrill factor or simply to make a political statement regardless of the truth.
  3. Are they just conspiracy theories? Conspiracy theories are good at taking a small amount of truth and twisting them into a huge (false) story. Conspiracy theories are:
    • unverifiable by any hard evidence 
    • slanderous and hurtful
    • based on a little truth and expanded into a huge falsehood
Just post the facts, please, people. If the facts alone aren’t enough to justify your support of a candidate, then maybe you should change to a new candidate. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Joy in Suffering

I’m not going to lie to you, folks. Being laid up in bed for weeks on end because of severe morning sickness is not easy, for me or my family.

Perhaps you, too, are going through some type of suffering. Nancy Leigh DeMoss once wisely observed, “Most of the time in life you're either just coming through a storm or you're in the middle of a storm or (you don't know but) you're getting ready to go into a storm.” How true that is. And how we respond to these storms, this suffering, marks the difference between those living in the flesh and those living in the Spirit.

Now, you may argue that my type of pain and suffering is not as bad as others. I mean, yeah, I can hardly stand up without a gagging reflex, but in the end, I know that a wonderful bundle of joy is coming my way. There is a purpose and joyful end to the current short-lived suffering I am going through. And you would be right. But when looking at suffering through the lens of Scripture, isn’t that exactly what all suffering is about?

James 1:2-4 says this: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” The book of James was written to “the twelve tribes scattered abroad.” Why were they scattered everywhere? Because of intense persecution. These were not happy go lucky Christians experiencing peace and prosperity. And yet, in the face of cruelty, privation, pain, injustice, and severe attack on liberty, James insists that those Christians “count it all joy.” Why? He equates going through suffering with the testing of our faith. And this testing, if correctly responded to, leads to patience which then leads to a perfecting and completing work of grace in our lives. Is that not a worthy and joyful end to our suffering?

How many of you have prayed to become more Christlike? I certainly have, many times. And God answers that prayer every day by sending me trials. Some harder than others. But all of them designed to continue that work of perfecting and completing me in Christ.

No matter how hard the trial is that you’re facing today, it is meant for your good, to continue the good work that God has begun in you. And that knowledge should elicit a deep joy from your heart, no matter what your circumstance may be. My prayer is that I, and each of you, would learn more patience and respond in joy to each trial the Lord lovingly deems us worthy to partake of.

If you are going through an intense time of testing, make this passage your theme verses: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal,” II Corinthians 4:16-18.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Beware of the Danger of Pinterest

I've been thinking a lot on this subject recently and wanted to share my thoughts with you.

Now to start this article, let me just say that I love Pinterest. I have over 6500 pins and I've only had the account for about two years. I believe that Pinterest has been a useful tool and even a blessing in my life. Here are some quick reasons why I love it:

1. I have very few cookbooks here on the mission field. I find most of my new recipes from Pinterest and am always looking for more to add to my repertoire.

2. I love all the idea boards I've been able to build over the past couple years, all without taking up any space in my filing cabinet. Easily added to, readily accessed. It's a dream!

3. I've learned a lot about myself. By collecting items that I like I've created many boards that express my personality: my clothing style, my home decor style, my nutrition philosophy, etc.

4. I've branched out into a lot of creative avenues and built some new skills that I otherwise probably never would have. I love browsing all the creative diy ideas there are out there, and I've been brave enough to try a few of them. Like this tree Advent calendar I made one year.

Or the Bible quiet book that I made. I saw a few ideas that I liked and that spurred me on to create a lot of new things and build a lot of confidence in sewing and crafting projects.

So with all these good things to say about Pinterest, you may be wondering what the big deal is. What's the danger?

The danger, clear and simple, is this: beware of the discontentment Pinterest can give. I say this in all seriousness. Nothing can rob a Christian's joy faster than discontentment. I've found myself falling into this sad state of heart more than once, so I thought I'd offer some warning to my fellow sisters in Christ. Pinterest is a great tool, but don't let it rob you of your joy.

If you see that your kitchen is usually much less than Pinterest worthy, don't worry! If you haven't done a single creative project the entire month, don't sweat it. Don't let the guilt of having less than blog worthy moments in your life let you become depressed.

I firmly believe that women have an innate, God-given desire to create beauty around us (and to make ourselves beautiful as well). Within balance this is a beautiful quality and can bring much richness and blessing to ourselves and those around us. However, it can be overemphasized or abused, as most good qualities can. If we find ourselves constantly focusing on fulfilling that desire and feeling disappointed when we don’t measure up to our perfect “idea,” that’s where it becomes a big problem.

The Bible says in I Timothy 6:6 that “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” And Paul talked about learning the necessary quality of contentment in Philippians 4. Contentment is being happy and at peace with what the Lord has provided. The opposite of contentment is covetousness, and that is a serious offense in God’s eyes (See Ephesians 5:3 and Exodus 20:17).

So how does this work out practically in our lives? It involves learning to have balance between creating a beautiful world and yet not being consumed by covetousness and discontent for the here and now. It’s a challenge, and there’s not just one simple answer. But I do believe it comes down to the attitude of the heart. You can, by all means, collect your ideas and dream of doing new and wonderful projects. However, maintain at all times your peaceful contentment for the way things are, for what God has so graciously provided for you. Your home doesn’t have to look like the perfectly decorated magazine model display in order for you to be happy (and indeed, such things promise happiness and never truly deliver). Sometimes it means just looking for the beauty that already exists in your surroundings and learning to focus on those bright areas instead of on the areas that are not so beautiful. Sometimes it means changing our perspective on what is beautiful.

Most importantly, we can have a heart attitude of peace and contentment because of what Christ did for us, no matter what our outward circumstances are like. Take the words of Hebrews 13:5 to heart: “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'” Christ’s presence is our source of true joy and happiness and everything else pales by comparison.

So by all means, enjoy Pinterest and collect your awesome ideas. But amongst all your learning and growing, learn to be content!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Scripture Writing Plans

I have been blessed recently by Shannon from her Sweet Blessings blog. On there, she offers monthly Scripture writing plans. Here is the one for the month of April. She offers it in multiple formats: English, Spanish, Men's (non frilly) version, and a shortened version as well.

I have really enjoyed writing down a passage of Scripture each day, in addition to what I read for my devotions. I look on this as a chance to meditate and glean more carefully from the Bible. I would like to start including my thoughts and reactions to the Scripture passage I just wrote as well.

Check out her website and these wonderful, free resources!

The Resident Expert

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5

If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that it can feel quite flattering and gratifying to have people come to us for advice and counsel. But sometimes, especially on the mission field, I get treated as the resident expert . . . on just about every issue. Needless to say, this can be quite intimidating. Young women will come to me with questions ranging from child training to pregnancy symptoms, from labor and birth coaching techniques to forms of birth control, from what to do for this child’s rash to what to do for that child’s sleeping problem. The list is daunting! While it’s true that I’ve had three children naturally, that doesn’t make me the expert on labor and birth, and so on.

I always wonder as I’m stating my opinion if this is sufficient. While it may be what I would have done, does it mean that it’s right for this person? Should I have spent hours in research before giving advice? My doubt continues to plague me long after the conversation ceases . . .

It’s at those moments (both in counseling and afterwards) that I cry out to the Lord of wisdom, who promises to give wisdom to all who lack it. Obviously, this wisdom is first spiritual in nature. Wisdom is Biblical knowledge applied in our everyday lives. This should be our heart’s cry each day, that we would better learn how to live out God’s Word in our lives. But this wisdom can also apply to physical things. As I seek to encourage these women to apply Scripture in their daily lives, I give advice and counsel based on what I see are Biblical principles and then use common sense and experience to fill in the rest.

I am so thankful that I have a Heavenly Father who generously gives me wisdom each and every time I call upon Him. I am not an expert on anything, but He is, and I have 24/7 access to Him! May each of you, too, run to God for every decision you make, trying as best as you can to honor the principles in His Word in your daily lives.