Truth for Christians who would rather be “entertained” than HOLY

September 19, 2016 at 1:55 am (More than Mediocre) (, , , , )

be-holy

The past few times that I’ve had a minute or two to scroll through my Facebook feed, I’ve run across multiple posts by friends and acquaintances (who often openly profess Christianity) that share thoughts or activities that absolutely dishonor the Lord. I purposely did not comment directly on any of the posts so as not to single out or embarrass anyone that I truly care for. Instead, I wept. I am ASTOUNDED that somehow the “church” in America has sooooo watered down Christianity and the full gospel of Christ that the very ones who have been set free from slavery to sin…the very ones who are supposed to take on the nature and character of Jesus Christ, the perfect and sinless one…think it is absolutely acceptable to continue inputting (through tv, music, movies, internet and other media, and even relationships) and outputting (through thoughts, speech, and actions) pure SMUT.

My Christian friends, I have a HARD word for you. A word that Satan will try to use to turn you against me. But I love you too much not to speak it. So here goes. A relationship with the One who is Holy is not possible when you continually and habitually indulge in sinful activity. Yes, Jesus came to take away your sins, but that “transaction” requires repentance. And repentance by definition isn’t repentance unless you literally TURN away from those sins and go the opposite direction. You CHANGE. If you continue to welcome sin into your life, there is no turning, no change, no repentance, and therefore no forgiveness. Christianity ISN’T living the sinful life you’ve always lived with a little Jesus sprinkled on top. It is dying to self and the sinful desires of the flesh EVERY SINGLE DECISION of EVERY SINGLE DAY and giving up those things to walk in a right relationship with God. (And if anyone has led you to believe any different, well, you’ve unfortunately been MISLED by a false teacher and you need to read your Bible to find the truth.)

A relationship with Christ is a free gift yet it requires great SACRIFICE. In the world we live in today, with VERY FEW EXCEPTIONS, it will require giving up most of what we consider to be our “entertainment.” If you think you can boast the title of Christian and still choose to watch movies like “BAD MOMS,” (or the endless other titles out there with similar content) you seriously need to re-examine your decision to follow Christ and evaluate whether or not you are actually in an active relationship with Him. God’s presence cannot co-exist with sin. If you’re legitimately in a relationship with Him, He’ll let you know real quick that He is HOLY and no man can approach Holy God while holding onto sin. Sure, Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery. Further, He did not judge her. (That’s not His job. He doesn’t judge. God does. Jesus came to save.  John 3:17) But He DID instruct her to go and SIN NO MORE. Everybody likes to point out the “no judging” part but nobody wants to discuss the part that says you have to give the sin up. You don’t get to keep holding onto it. It just doesn’t work that way.

Before you launch your argument defending how or why you welcome entertainment that dishonors God into your life, let me remind you of some of the content in the particular film I’ve randomly called out: (and keep in mind that similar content can be found in just about everything rated above PG in theaters today)

*Crude or Profane Language

About 65 f-words, nearly 30 s-words and a bake sale’s worth of doughy profanities, including “a–,” “b–ch,” “d–n,” “h—,” “d–k,” “t-ts” and “p—y.” God’s name is misused about 50 times, including at least once with “d–n.” Jesus’ name is abused five times.

If the ability to sit through that filth doesn’t make you question whether or not you and God are on the same page regarding His expectations and what is and is not acceptable for a Christian to watch, then this should.

*Sexual Content

An explicit scene involves Amy catching her husband, Mike having an affair with a woman via video chat online. There’s an implication of masturbation, and the camera shows us a completely nude woman (we see her from the front, side and rear) on his computer screen. At first, Amy thinks her husband is “just” looking at pornography, but she soon realizes it’s that the woman is performing for Mike. “This really feels like cheating,” she says.

Amy kicks Mike out of the house and, a day or two later, tells Kiki and Carla that she wants to get “laid.” They go to a bar and Amy flirts (badly) with several men before she runs into a widower she knows from their kids’ school. They kiss and quickly fall into a physical relationship: We see the two begin to have sex on Amy’s kitchen island before the scene moves to a post-coital moment in the bedroom, where they discuss how great it was. There’s also another visual reference (under the covers) to oral sex.

Verbally, this movie is just one long string of sex jokes. We hear graphic references to oral and anal sex, manual stimulation and explicit discussions of men’s anatomy. Carla uses obscene words and gestures to flirt with a bevy of men (including married fathers), passionately kisses a middle-aged grocery clerk and “encourages” other moms to attend a party by threatening to have sex with their husbands if they don’t. She locks lips with another mother there, then encourages other moms to do the same. (She later brags to Amy about how many women she kissed.) Kiki details her and her husband’s sexual habits.

We see Amy in a bra. Someone encourages her to wear a “slutty” dress. There are scads of crude references to the male and female anatomy. Amy, Carla and Kiki watch a man rip off his shirt in a movie. We hear references of lesbian moms and “moms who used to be dads.”

In a movie postscript, the real-life moms of the movie’s actresses talk about motherhood. One admits to taking her child, Christina Applegate (who plays Gwendolyn), to the movie Cruising, a film that involves the gay, S&M underworld of New York City.

**Movie content reviews found at http://www.pluggedin.com/

My Christian friend, I’m not sure exactly what path has led you so far from the ways of the Lord…or what teaching you’ve sat under that never led you to the one true God of the Bible in the first place… but THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE FOR YOU. Though sadly expected from those that are still slaves to sin, IT’S NOT AN OPTION for true followers of Christ. You’ve got to give it up. That’s all there is to it. Nobody gets to ride the fence. Christians share His death (and victory over sin) and we get to share His life in doing so. We don’t get the life without dying first. And here’s a spoiler alert: It’s a continual process. As you begin to approach God, His light illuminates the darkness that is within you. You repent, turn away from that sin, and step closer to Him into brighter light that again usually reveals more hidden sin that separates you from Holy God. The closer you draw to Him, the brighter His light to illuminate even the deepest darkest secret corners of your life. So basically, those of us a little further into this journey aren’t off the hook either. We, too, should constantly be communicating with the Lord about ANY areas of compromise or disobedience in our own lives that do not line up with the word or ways of God. If Jesus wouldn’t think it, say it, do it….then we shouldn’t either.

Colossians 3:1-10

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.  So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

Friend, I urge you to take a deep look into yourself and your life that is on display to your family, friends, and co-workers. Does your language honor God? Does your thought life make him proud? Could you sit through the movies you watch or surf the internet side by side with Jesus Christ and feel 100% comfortable while doing so? If it doesn’t, of if you can’t, then you have a very real problem that needs immediate attention and this hard message is a gift from God straight to you BECAUSE HE LOVES YOU and PASSIONATELY DESIRES TO HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU.

Need help getting right with God? You can start by reading 1 John in the New Testament. It explains exactly how Christianity works. And by all means, feel free to reach out to me or another Christian for help and accountability. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you cannot sin. It means you *CAN* not sin. Your desire for sinful things will decrease as you spend time with and grow closer to the Lord… for one cannot be with the One who is Holy and remain the same.

Again, a hard TRUTH, but one spoken in love.

 

 

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A 911 Call I Have to Make

September 11, 2011 at 1:49 am (More than Mediocre) (, , , , , )

To my friends and family:

 I love you all too much not to make this 911 call.

 Today marks the 10 year anniversary of September 11, 2001. As I watch the horrific news coverage of the terrorist attack on America at the World Trade Center Towers in New York City and The Pentagon in Washington, I can’t help but wonder how different the day could have been —would have been–had someone exposed the evil plot. If a single person had made a single warning call to 911 just say… 30 minutes before the attack…how many thousands might still be alive today?

 On 9/11 Americans busily went about their routine, entirely unaware that a terrible enemy was scheming against them. Life and business went on as usual, but in an instant, everything changed. Fates were unexpectedly sealed forever. Countless individuals never had the chance to say, “I love you,” “I’m sorry,” or “I forgive you.” Their time, time that they were counting on, simply ran out.

 Because I understand that everything that happens here in our physical world is directly related to things of the unseen spiritual realm, it’s not hard to find a parallel here.

 The truth is that the entire human race has a very, VERY real enemy that’s been plotting against us for a long, long time. He’s crafty and cunning and generally carries out his plan undetected. He is a terrorist by nature, purposed only to steal, kill, and destroy. And sadly, those who are unaware of this enemy don’t really even stand a chance.

He is the enemy of God, the rightful owner of your soul if you haven’t come into relationship with God through His only son, Jesus, and he’ll do whatever it takes to drag you to the pits of hell with him. He is deceitful, the father of all lies, causing man to believe “it’s all good” when really the plane is en route and the building is about to go down.

 If you’re running from God, procrastinating, putting off giving your life to Him so you can live a little more of it for yourself-

 If you know a whole lot about God and know “religion” but you aren’t actively in a day-to-day back and forth relationship with Him-

 If you think that just being a good person will get you to Heaven-

 If you haven’t yet realized that you are a sinner that doesn’t measure up to God’s holy standard-

 If you haven’t turned away from your sins and asked for God’s forgiveness-

 If you haven’t started living life in obedience to Him-

 Then you’re in grave danger. You’re on schedule to go up in flames.

 So my loved ones, whether you want to hear it or not, I’ve made the 911 call. The clock is ticking. You have had the good fortune of receiving a 30 minute warning. Don’t waste another minute taking your chances. Evacuate immediately. Leave your old ways behind right now. Take hold of your loved ones, run to the source of life, and never look back.

May anyone that doesn’t yet know Jesus be rescued by Him today.

If you would like to learn more about how to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, feel free to visit our church website at Remnant Church Online and contact us now.

And please, make the 911 call to warn your own friends and family by forwarding or sharing this post on your social networking sites.

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Leakin’ Life

September 8, 2011 at 5:46 pm (More than Mediocre) (, , , , )

It’s amazing how God will use everyday things to teach us if we’re willing to listen. 

Back in April, on a whim, my husband and I decided to create a little rose garden. While I’m not exactly the romantic type and I’d prefer a practical gift to a bouquet of cut flowers any day, I’ve loved the intoxicating scent of the Don Juan rose since I was a little girl.  After much research, I carefully chose nine rose plants worthy to take up space in my small slice of paradise.  Though I’d already been advised to stick with cacti due to my bad history with plants, I was determined to make my little rose garden flourish.  May and June passed without a hitch as I carefully pruned and watered my new babies.  When July arrived with her triple digit temps, I ran into trouble.  I watered, but my precious plants continued to wilt.  So, I called on my brother and trusted horticulture expert for a little advice.  “You’re not watering them enough and you’re not watering them the right way.”

 Turns out, roses thrive when they receive a l-o-n-g deep drink.  Frequent sips don’t quite do the job. 

Well, I tried out the deep soak idea for a few weeks and my plants did perk up.  But my soaks became few and far in between because I simply did not have the time to stand out there all day with the hose!  I tried leaving a hose to work alone at the task only to return and find that it had somehow gone wild.  The water that I had intended to give life to my precious rose plants had actually done the opposite!  The overspray scorched every leaf it landed on! 

Just when I was about ready to give up on my project, I was introduced to the greatest invention on the planet:  the soaker hose!  A hose that’s created to leak water in the right places at the right time without any assistance!  What a perfect solution!  I excitedly unwound my new treasure, carefully surrounded each wounded plant with it, turned the water on full blast, and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  I left, picked up my kids from school, returned home, and waited.  We did homework, baths, and dinner, and waited.  Hours had passed but the mulch barely looked damp!  “This method’s not getting me anywhere.”  I thought.  Though I was frustrated that I could not see a visible change in the flower bed, I continued to utilize the soaker hose- as it was my last resort.

This morning as I went out to gaze at my beautiful, well nourished, and healthy roses, (a delayed but direct result of the soaker hose I had no faith in) the Lord clearly spoke, “Your life should resemble that soaker hose.  My holy spirit should literally leak out of you all day long.  When people come into contact with you whether it be in person, or over the phone, or even through words on the internet, they should leave ‘damp’ because of your kindness.  Your hope and joy should ‘trickle’ deep down into their roots and nourish them.  Your love should ‘creep’ up on them when they’re least expecting it and your peace should ‘penetrate’ their spirits.  You have the source of life in you but you’re not watering often or deep enough.  Words are not enough.  Your actions must also speak of Me.”

“But Lord, if I’m going to leak life I don’t want to just drizzle.  I want to spray at full blast!  I don’t want to wait forever to give people the source of life.  I want to dump everything that I have on them now.”

“Different plants require different watering techniques.  Some flourish at full blast and others require gradual saturation.  Those that are already wounded can easily be burned if you spray them directly.  However, if the resources that they need are readily available nearby, they will pursue them when the time is right.  Remember that no one comes to Me unless I draw them near.  Your job is simply to be filled daily with My spirit and to be prepared to ‘leak’ Me onto anyone that crosses your path.  Your actions (ALL of them) should point others to Me.  Show patience to the hurried driver on the road.  Walk in integrity as you make your purchases.  Be gentle with your employees.  Have self-control when dealing with your children.  Pray blessings over the teen walking to school.  It doesn’t matter if you can’t see a  ‘visible change’ right away.  No one can come into contact with Me and not be changed.  If I am in you, and you come into contact with them, they will be changed in some way or another.   Wait patiently on that growth.  It will come.”

I don’t know about you but my desire  is to become so filled with the presence of God that wherever I go and whatever I do, my actions will naturally ‘leak’ His goodness all over the place! 

 What are your thoughts on leakin’ life into others?

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“Why Do People Yawn?” and Other Really Important Questions

April 19, 2011 at 6:06 pm (More than Mediocre) (, , , , , )

At some point in time, most of you have engaged in conversation or activity with my husband, BJ. You’re familiar with him, his charming personality, and his seemingly never-ending perfectly timed wisecracks. But, I bet you don’t know that he won’t leave for work a single morning without kissing each of our four children in their sleep. He hides chocolate all over our house to have on hand for me when I’m close to a stress meltdown. It would not be unusual to find him with me in a dark coop or closet candling chicken eggs, fascinated (or at least pretending to be) by the glowing wiggly silhouettes of pre-born baby chicks that look just like the ones from the week before. Oh and he actually likes our little dog and can on occasion be caught petting her. You know the one that he acts like he doesn’t like? You’d never guess it, but he’s actually a little OCD about certain things. He falls asleep almost every single night in his chair. (just like his dad did when we were dating) And here’s a shocker -he lets our three girls comb, style, and decorate his hair to their heart’s content and when he’s in a good mood, they might even get to paint his toenails!

You see, there’s knowing somebody and then there’s knowing somebody. There’s an “our paths cross on occasion” knowing and a “we’ve spent years getting to know each other” knowing. We can be familiar with someone, even know a whole lot about them, and not truly know the deep down nitty gritty.

One of my duties as a parent is to pass on what I know to my children. My days are filled with, “What is this? What is that? What are diseases? What’s a rainbow made of? Why do people yawn? Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons? Do boys have one less rib than girls? Where is Heaven?” …

Perhaps the most challenging of all questions that my kids await the answer to is “Who exactly is God?”

 I’ve spent most of my term as a mother spouting off the obvious. “Well, He’s God! He’s good. He loves you. He made you. He’s the boss, that’s for sure.”

 “But who is He? What does He like? What does He hate? What can He do? What has He done in the past? What is He going to do in the future? What does He think about this? What does He think about that? How does He communicate with us? What does He expect from us?” The questions go on and on.

In the past, I’ve attempted to call out a handful of names that I’ve heard somewhere along the road in church. But recently, I’ve come to the point in life where I can just admit, “You know, I really don’t know exactly who He is.  I don’t know what all He’s done.  And I’m not sure what He’d think about that.”

 Like many others, I’ve grown up knowing that God is great and awesome and mighty, yet I haven’t been able to conceptualize exactly who He is. I know what I’ve heard. I know a little from what I’ve read. But I don’t know the deep down nitty gritty because our paths only cross on occasion. I haven’t ever really taken the time to actually get to know Him.

Because I can’t pass on knowledge that I don’t have, I set out to find those answers for myself and for my kids. For me, that journey began with two books put out by Streams Ministries entitled, “I AM: Inheriting the Fullness of God’s Names” and “I AM: 365 Names of God.”  One is a compilation of many of the names of God given in the Bible and the other examines the names, their purpose, and how they apply to our lives.

Why start with the names of God? Well, each name of God found in scripture tells us a little bit about Him. Each name unveils a facet of God’s character and His relationship with us. Each reveals His glory and His reputation. Each name is an answer to one of those questions that each of our hearts cry out. God shared His names with us in the Bible for a specific purpose –so that we can relate to Him, love Him, and truly know Him.

 The kids and I now try to spend a few moments each day reflecting on one of the names of God. Using the books mentioned above as a guide, we talk about the name, find it in the Bible, and ask God to give us a mental picture related to the particular name, character trait, or glorious act we’re studying. The kids keep journals of the revelation that God gives them as He unveils the mystery of who He truly is -the nitty gritty- one detail at a time.

 Seeing who God is through the eyes of my children brings so much joy to my heart that I thought I’d share their drawings every now and then to encourage you!

Won’t you join us on a quest to know Him?

 

Click on the photos to enlarge them. 

Alyssa Joy’s interpretation of  “I am the giver of all revelation” 

I just love the little “wavelengths” of revelation that go from God’s mouth to the person’s ear!  Alyssa Joy is alot like me and her artwork always makes me smile!

 

Josiah’s interpretation of  “I am omniscient” (all-knowing)

The boy chooses to lie, but God knows the truth!  Josiah’s art is often simple but always has a message!

Glory’s interpretation of “I am the Lord, and My voice is powerful and full of majesty”

Though she’s only four, Glory loves to draw the pictures God gives her.  We are always amazed at how different each of her journal entries looks!

Grace’s interpretation of “I am the Door”

Grace has a passion for art!  I love her boldness and the intensity of her art.

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In Daddy’s Arms

March 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm (More than Mediocre) (, , )

 Every weekday morning when the clock strikes eight my four kids and I meet up in the living room, crank up some praise and worship music, grab a tambourine, streamer, or flag, sing at the top of our lungs, and dance our hearts out before the Lord.  It’s true.  My continuously pulled calf muscles can testify to it! 

 You see, I realized awhile back that beginning the day praising the Creator changes EVERYTHING.  Energy and patience levels rise.  Bad attitudes vanish.  Bickering stops (for a little while at least!) and tired grumpy frowning kids are quickly replaced with energetic happy smiling ones.  These few moments that we set aside for the Lord each morning are without a doubt the best of the day. 

While the kids absolutely love to see their no-nonsense rhythmically challenged mother (who couldn’t carry a tune if her life depended on it) bust out with the goofy moves, they find no greater joy than “crazy dancing” with their Dad.  Because he usually leaves the house before they wake, these special times are very limited and therefore treasured.

It was on one of these rare occasions that the Lord decided to show up and vividly paint a picture for me – that I might see my relationship with Him through a new perspective.  My husband was dancing wildly, our youngest daughter in his arms laughing hysterically as her Daddy whirled her around and around.  I grinned and thanked the Lord in my thoughts for blessing me with such an amazing man!  My eyes soon came to rest on our other daughter who was also watching my husband dance.  Though she said nothing, her eyes spoke volumes.  Gleaming with anticipation, they cried out, “Hold ME!  Dance with ME Daddy!” 

 “Uh-oh” I thought.  “Surely he won’t pick her up!  He can’t!  She’s heavy.  He can’t risk hurting his back again…”

My thoughts were interrupted as he gently put our little one down and held out his arms wide.  Our older daughter ran to him and he lifted her into the air.  The sight was overwhelming and tears immediately flooded my eyes.  How silly it looked for him to be holding such an old child.  She grasped his neck tightly, her long legs dangling down below his knees.  As she passionately held onto him, peace washed over her.  Something happened to her in that embrace that I can only describe as inner healing.  My child who had always struggled with receiving love was basking in her father’s love right before my eyes!

He went on to pick up and swirl our oldest daughter around the room, her giggles echoing throughout the entire house.  Pure joy literally radiated from her face.  Though he could have stopped with her as most fathers would have, he didn’t.  He turned to our eleven-year-old son and held out his arms.

“He’ll never do it.”  I thought.  “He thinks he’s much too ‘mature’ for that.  After all, in his own eyes, he’s practically a teenager already!”

To my amazement, without hesitation, my boy reached out, embraced his dad, and allowed him to hold him close -something he had grown out of years ago.  Much taller and much heavier than his sisters, he awkwardly clung to his father.  But it didn’t matter in that moment how silly he looked and it didn’t even matter who saw because he was in the safest place in the world-wrapped tightly in his father’s arms.  It was just the two of them and that was all that truly mattered. 

It was then that the Lord spoke to my heart.  “So you’re a grown up now.  So what. You’re still MY child.  You’ll never outgrow my embrace and you’ll never be too big to climb up into your Daddy’s lap.  It doesn’t matter how ridiculous you may think you look and it certainly doesn’t matter what others think.”

Had my daughters rejected their father that day, they would have missed out on his unconditional love.  Had they worried about how their actions may have looked to those around them, they would not have experienced peace or joy.  Had my son cared about what others thought, he would not have known the security and refuge of his father. 

As for me, I choose to learn from my children.  I’d rather cling tightly to my Savior, feet dragging the ground for all to gawk at, than miss out on a single thing He has to offer me.

What about you?  When’s the last time you accepted the Father’s embrace? 

 Do you push Him away or run into His arms?

 

 

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WARNING: ‘Serious Killer’ on the Loose!

January 26, 2011 at 8:25 pm (More than Mediocre) (, , , )

 

I’ve always thought that if I could change one thing about myself, I’d loosen up a little!  You know, not stress out over every single little detail of life!   Chill out!  Relax!  Enjoy the ride!

I’m not even sure how I came to be so uptight.  I’ve just always been this way.  Rarely spontaneous.  Never silly.  And absolutely under no circumstances willing to purposely act stupid.  I’ve spent the past twenty years of life being serious with a capital S.

Which means…I’ve missed out on a whole lot of fun!

I’ve finally come to realize that the ‘s’ word has damaged more than just my social life.  My spiritual life -my walk with the Lord- has suffered over the years as well.  Oh, I’ve done a halfway decent job at the serious parts-talking to the Lord in prayer and reading His word.  (Because they can be done in private and don’t require me to leave my comfort zone.)  It’s actually the worship part that I, along with the rest of the non-smiling serious types, have a problem with.   It’s the passionate effort, the reckless abandon, the Psalm 20:5, Psalm 95:6, Psalm 138:1, Psalm 149:3, Psalm 150:4, 1 Chronicles 13:8 and all the other scriptures instructing us to worship beyond half heartedly singing along.

In 2 Samuel 6 we find David dancing unashamedly-leaping and whirling before the Lord.  While his on-looking wife, Michal, despises his dramatic expression of adoration to the Creator, David passionately proclaims,

“And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight.”

I imagine that Michal must have considered herself to be a pretty serious individual.   Too self-respecting to leap or whirl.  Too dignified to dance wildly before the Lord.  And definitely too concerned about what others might think to actually abandon herself in genuine worship.  (Sounds like somebody I know all too well!)

Though Michal perceived David’s worship to be irreverent foolishness, God was PLEASED.  And He was so DIS-pleased with Michal’s disdain that He forever cursed her womb!  For, as 1 Corinthians 1:27 tells us, “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.”

Well, I may not be the sharpest crayon in the box, but I am bright enough to realize that I generally gravitate more towards Michal’s mindset than David’s.  And I think it’s pretty safe to say that that is NOT a good thing.  So, last year I began to ask the Lord to free me from my comfortable, predictable ways so that I can genuinely worship Him in spirit and truth according to the directives set forth in scripture.  I can’t say that it has been an easy process.  Even surrounded by the spirit-led Davidic worship offered up to the Lord at Remnant Church, I’ve had great difficulty letting go of the fear of man.

It was only when I brought worship into my home as a routine part of my day that I began to overcome my fear of looking foolish in man’s eyes.  After all, it’s much easier to put all your inhibitions aside when the lights are out and no one’s looking!  Whirling about is actually quite fun when there’s no one standing nearby to criticize.  And to my surprise, words that the mind’s not even capable of composing can be spoken through the spirit while waving a banner before the Lord.  I’ve come to find that there is no greater “high” than expressing my love for God with ALL of my strength in any manner He lays upon my heart.

While God has not yet brought this new work in me to completion, I can honestly say that I yearn to worship Him with my entire person -my body, my emotions, my mind, and my spirit- as David did.  And now that I’ve had a taste of the real thing, attempting to praise or worship the Lord without giving my absolute all just doesn’t quite cut it anymore.  It’s not enough for Him, and it’s not enough for me.  I admit that I still hold back at church, but one day I hope to bust my shackles wide open!!

Until then, I thought I’d leave you with a little warning.  Beware!  There’s a ‘Serious Killer’ on the loose!  One that can’t be restrained in chains or held by bars.  So you might as well not run.

Check out this awesome song at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6kSRKZ60q4

 

The song of my heart:

Undignified by Darrell Evans

Teach me to have a child-like heart
Free me to be undignified
Teach me to have a child-like heart
Free me to dance all over my pride

Gonna dance like a child
Sing like the Son
Abandon myself to the Holy One

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Trash or Treasure?

January 1, 2011 at 8:42 pm (More than Mediocre) (, , , , , , )

 

Since we discussed perception in my last post, (It’s been so long, you may have to go back and re-read it!) I thought it fitting to share the following encounter with someone who forever changed the way I view my seven-year-old daughter, Grace.

For those of you who do not know, Grace is an artist.  Hidden or not, if there’s a blank paper plate, paper towel, or piece of paper in our home, she’ll find it.  She loves markers and glue, paints, and glitter –and any other MESSY thing that she can get her busy little hands on.  She creates and creates and creates to her heart’s content, leaving her “mark” on everything she touches.  That new perfectly cute purse she got for her birthday, now unrecognizable, lies deep below icky layers of lace and beads, rhinestones, and glue.  And that adorable new Bible she got for Easter has been forever “upgraded” with a fresh pen outlining. 

Give a “creative” child like this to a perfection-seeking clean freak mother…and you’ve got problems!  I can’t deny that my heart rate elevates every single morning when I walk into her room and see the permanent blue stains on my beautiful mocha carpet.  I cringe every time I walk past the bathroom door and see the streak of red fingernail polish that taunts me, “I’m still here and there’s nothing you can do about it!”  But perhaps the thing that has always gotten to me the most is the…trash.  Yep, I’m afraid you heard me right, the T-R-A-S-H.  My child loves trash!  There, I said it!  She even brings home other kids’ trash in her lunchbox!  Pringles containers, juice box straws, candy wrappers!  She views each individual piece of junk as sacred…a treasure….the perfect addition to her latest work of art.  From ski slopes made of plastic shoe inserts to bug houses made from slim jim cans to toilet paper roll binoculars, this child takes great pride in…well, trash!  Now, you have to understand that my personal motto is, “When in doubt, throw it out!”  If there is not a specific place for something in our house, then to the curb it goes!  So, you can only imagine the conflict this oxymoronic  “trash art” has created between the two of us.

Well, I learned to choose my battles over the years.  I’d let her “do her thing” and then secretly sneak her precious “creations” into the trash when she was in bed.  I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve actually been caught a time, or two, or three or four!  “MOMM-A!”  She’d wail.   Her tearful eyes full of angry betrayal, she’d dramatically scold me,  “How COULD you throw this away?”  After carefully removing soggy noodles and smoothing leftover spaghetti sauce off of her masterpiece, she’d march back to her room and slam the door.

Though I never meant to really hurt her, I thought her little projects were worthless junk.  While I didn’t even realize what I was doing at the time, SHE knew that Mom did not value her abilities.

As only He can do, God used a completely unrelated set of circumstances to bring someone new into my life.  Through an email to Streams Ministries, I began to develop a relationship with a wonderful, encouraging, godly woman who I knew only as “Kari.”  Soon, when we went to The Art of Hearing God training by John Paul Jackson, BJ and I had the opportunity to meet this “email stranger” that I had already grown to love.  As we spent time together sharing, I felt a connection with her like never before.  Perhaps it’s because the love of God literally oozes right out of her.  Perhaps because there is not a judgmental bone in her body.  Whatever the reason, I was profoundly impressed with her- -her attitude, her character, her heart.  I genuinely valued and respected her as a person.  During a ten minute break from our class I overheard a gentlemen asking her about her art.  My heart quickened!  She’s an artist!  Instantly, I was filled with an overwhelming desire for her to teach my Grace how “real art”  is to be done.  We had been searching for someone willing to teach Grace for quite a while.  I was so excited about the possibility that I had practically sold our house and packed us up to move to the Dallas area in my mind.  After class ended that night, I went to her and asked about her art.  I shared with her about how creative Grace is but also expressed my embarrassment of her “trash art.”  I’ll never forget her words.  She leaned over to her husband and called out in her amazing New York accent, “She cawlls her dawghter a trash awtist!  Who does that remind you of?”  She began to share how she, too, is a trash artist!  We laughed as she shared about collecting old windows and various items from the curb, how it sometimes embarrasses her husband when she’s searching for trash, and how much joy she finds in taking things that others view to be worthless and creating something lovely from them.  As we toured the offices and she pointed out her art, each piece so meticulously and joyfully crafted, I was absolutely overwhelmed.  This amazing person-this amazing artist-with such love and passion for her work and for her Maker- was a grown up version of  my “Grace.”  I cried and cried that night at the realization of how I had not valued anything about my precious daughter’s gifting.  Sure, I loved her with my whole heart.  But I did not see value in who she is and what she loves.  I did not recognize the joy that transforming trash into treasure brings her. 

When we returned home, my sweet friend Kari sent me the following message regarding Grace’s spiritual gift:

” Not only creatively, but in the natural, it is the ability to see those broken and in need ( those that have been left on the side of life’s road) and pour into them and bring healing and show them the true value they are.  This is a gift I believe Grace may possess.”

Again, my heart broke.  I wept as the spiritual truth washed over me.  God made this child this way for a reason.  She’s not like me and that’s a GOOD thing!  She was never meant to be like me!  God has an incredible plan for her.  She will change lives, perhaps even more than those of us who are not willing to look past the dirty, the broken, and the unlovely.  Her creations are beautiful, valuable expressions of who she is inside and of who God made her to be to others.  From now on, I will treasure every single one of them.

Today as we start this new year, I urge you to take a few moments to view those God has put in your life differently.  Your child is not a brat.  Your spouse is not a mistake.  God put specific people into your life to mold and sharpen and perfect you!  It may take some work, but I promise you, it’ll be life changing.  Give up your old mindsets and see others with “God vision.”   And remember, just because someone is not your idea of perfect doesn’t mean they’re worthless.  Take time to find the valuable treasure in the midst of the trash!

Thank you so much Kari for letting God use you so powerfully in my life. 

You are precious and I love you!

 

                                                                       

 

 

 

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Un-doing the Damage

December 9, 2010 at 8:22 pm (More than Mediocre) (, , , , )

Since it’s just us here, I’m going to get right down to the dirty truth.  I struggle daily with an awful disease.  A disease that eats away at my mind and attempts to rob me of all things good.  The disease of perfectionism, the enemy of peace, enslaves all who entertain it.  And hard as I try not to, I definitely entertain it!

I often tease my parents, blaming the two of them for my perfectionistic tendencies.  You see, my brothers and I are actually the offspring of  “Superman” and “Wonder Woman.”  Both of my parents are amazing individuals, unbelievably hard-working over-achievers who never, ever quit.  They do things right.  No shortcuts.  No exceptions.  You can always count on them because they always, ALWAYS come through.  Wonder Woman never sleeps and Superman never complains.  I grew up in that atmosphere, so I’ve never known anything different.  When you have super parents, you can’t help but to want to be super.   And when you have your own kids, you naturally want them to be super, too!   

Well, it didn’t take me too long to realize that my kids weren’t the slightest bit super.  They didn’t even come close to meeting my “super” standard.  At first, I overlooked their flaws and encouraged them to strive for better.  (Like a normal parent) But when the days of falling short turned into months and then years, I couldn’t help but to focus on their shortcomings.   Each time they didn’t rise to meet my standard, I valued them a little less.  I certainly didn’t realize that I was doing it at the time, but I was.  Consequently, they valued themselves a little less each time as well.  And unlike their perfectionist of a mother, they quit trying to meet the standard altogether.  I pushed harder.  They resisted.  The cycle continued until I ended up with a couple of broken kids-my personal view of them expressed through my own mouth causing all the damage!

Most of you know that God has been using the teachings of His servant, John Paul Jackson, to totally transform me from the inside out.  Back in July of this year, my husband, BJ, and I had the opportunity to attend John Paul’s Art of Hearing God training course.  We went desiring to hear the Lord’s voice and boy did He ever speak!  Just not at all about what I expected Him to!  One of the first teachings John Paul shared with us was on the Law of Observation.  This law basically proves that what you look at will conform to the way that you look at it.  In other words, how I perceive someone is how they will become when they are around me.  And if they are around me long enough, they will form a habit of being what I perceive them to be.  Whoaaaaa!  That’s a real problem right there!  You mean what I say today and how I view my children right now will affect who and what they become later on down the road of life as adults?  NOT good.   I immediately realized that I was setting my kids up for a lifetime of failure, and I knew that something had to change FAST! 

It makes sense if you think about it.  If we continually encourage good character traits in an individual, tell them how valuable they are, and remind them of what they are going to become one day, that person will strive to self fulfill those words.  On the other hand, if we constantly tell someone that they’re lazy, ignorant, ugly, or worthless- they will eventually begin to believe it -whether it’s true or not-and self fulfill those words.  In fact, we don’t even have to verbalize it.  Our opinion of others often leaks out through expression, tone, and body language.  So basically, we can take part in holding others back from their destiny simply by the way we view them.  Wow!  Deep stuff, huh?  How can we avoid that mistake?  After all, we say the things we say for a reason!  We generally pass judgments on others based on past experiences with them. 

Well, John Paul teaches that we need to change the way that we perceive others.  I explained it to my kids as needing to have “God Vision.”  We need to see others in light of where God is taking them – not where they are today.  That rotten good for nothing husband will continue to be a rotten good for nothing husband until you change your thought process.   That nag of a wife will go to her grave as a nag unless you perceive her to be something else.  That awful gossip won’t find the strength to change until she sees that you believe she’s better than that. 

Only with this “God Vision” can I now say that God has an incredible plan for my unbelievably strong-willed yet ultra sensitive son.   With all of the drive and tenacity and passion of a grown adult crammed into his little body, he lacks knowledge and wisdom and life experience.  But, in time, when he develops the discipline and character he lacks and joins forces with his destiny, He WILL accomplish great things.  And God must have something truly wonderful in store for my tough as nails outspoken little fireball of a daughter-for He has created her so incredibly strong!  What battles she’ll one day fight…and win!  Once we channel her passion and creativity for His purposes, she will set the paths of all those she encounters ablaze for Him!

People aren’t perfect but they can be perfected as long as we don’t hold them back.  Our words, our attitudes, our perception of others-these all have the power to speak life or death.  I don’t know about you, but I’m really tired of killing destinies-including those of people I don’t even know!  I want to be one who helps drive people to reach their calling and fulfill their God-given purpose in life-not watch it pass by.  Though a completely foreign concept at first, I’ve found that “God Vision” gets easier the more you utilize it.   So one word, one thought, one expression, one display of body language at a time, I’m un-doing the damage that I’ve created in so many lives over the years.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue. ~Proverbs 18:21

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The Rise and Fall of SUPERmom

November 12, 2010 at 8:18 pm (More than Mediocre) (, , , , )

 

By the time I finished high school and started college, all I really wanted in life was to get married and become a mother.  A perfectionist by nature, I didn’t plan on being just another frazzled mom out there trying to survive another day.  If I was going to do the parenting thing, I was going to do it right!  I was going to be…SUPERmom!  And that’s exactly what I was…at first.

Second to meeting my husband, the birth of my first child, Josiah, was the best thing that ever happened to me.  He was a great baby with a great temperament – laid back and easy-going.  Flexible.  Happy.  And the most precious thing I had ever seen!  I’d gaze at him for hours in awe of a God who could create such perfection!  As he grew, so did our relationship.  We were best buds.  I adored him and he adored me.  My days were 100% his.  If he wanted to play, we played.  If he wanted to read, we read.  And every night, we spent time -just the two of us- cuddling and talking together before bed.  I absolutely LOVED being a mother and gladly sacrificed every moment I could for my child.

Because our son brought so much joy to our lives, we decided to bring another child into the world to love.  Alyssa Joy’s arrival was just as we’d hoped.  Another beautiful blessing from God.  A precious baby girl to join our happy little family.  She, too, was an excellent baby.  The perfect addition to our life. 

Everything was going as planned when the unexpected happened.  Another bundle of joy was on the way…a WHOLE lot sooner than we had planned!  Though we knew without a doubt that this third child was God’s will for our lives (for He had definitely overridden our will to wait awhile to expand the family) I have to admit that I was not pleased with the “new” plan.  I was tired.  My body was tired.  I had a baby already.  And my perfect little boy was proving to be not quite so perfect anymore…

So we brought our precious baby Grace home just twelve days after Alyssa Joy’s first birthday.  And though she was another wonderful baby, our life suddenly became mass chaos.  The battle of the babies began.  Every last moment was spent trying to manage and care for the two baby girls.  “The good life” that Josiah knew no longer existed.  There was no time to read or play or cuddle.  Consequently, Josiah’s behavior took an ugly turn for the worse.  Our once peaceful home was now filled with crying, crying, and more crying.  (And that was just ME!)   Staying home with three kids under the age of four, my worst fear was realized.  I truly had become another frazzled mom just trying to survive another day.  “Only a year until Josiah starts school.  Then a third of my troubles will be over,” I used to encourage myself.  Little did I know!  School was just the beginning of my troubles with Josiah.  But that’s another story altogether…

Determined to conquer motherhood, I pulled out my cape and spent the next few years racing through school plays, doctor appointments, pep rallies, soccer practices, and parent/teacher conferences as SUPERmom, two nap needing toddlers and a mile long to-do list in tow.  Operating in my own strength alone, I was overwhelmed, exhausted, and just plain empty.  But I was SUPER!

Just when I thought I had perfected the art of being SUPER…when life had actually become almost manageable…surprise, surprise!  Our sweet Glory made her glorious entrance into our crazy world, gracing this SUPERmom with overtime in the day and demanding that I take on a night shift as well!  BUT… the Lord in His goodness blessed and multiplied my time with our new baby girl.  Delighting in the little things again for the first time in almost six years-the precious moments in time that can never be recaptured- I began to realize just how much of my two older daughters’ lives “the race of life” had robbed me of.  I had not really gotten to enjoy either one of them in their first few years of life.  We did not play.  We did not read.  We did not cuddle.  We didn’t have much of a relationship at all.  We were just doing good to survive!  I realized that in the kids’ eyes, I wasn’t really SUPER at all.  I desperately wanted to start fresh but there just wasn’t enough time in the day to change anything.  I raced the clock all day long and once the kids were in bed, I had to “start” MY day with endless piles of dishes and laundry.  “Busy-ness” had once again taken over every aspect of my life.  Multi-tasking became such an established pattern in my day that I was literally unable to stop it.  I could not slow down for fear of getting behind.  In a desperate attempt for order in the midst of the chaos, I consumed myself with housework.  And when the chores were all done I poured myself into anything else that might give me a sense of accomplishment.  A job well done.  Anything to offset the failure of not spending quality time with my kids. 

I pressed on, tackling every spelling list, field trip, class party, and dirty diaper with full force.  On the outside I was the picture perfect mom but on the inside I was…decaying.  Tired of giving every ounce of myself to “takers” who gave nothing back…ever…and surrounded by a culture that exalts self rather than others, my heart changed.  I began to resent anything and everything that took away from “me.”  After all, it was MY life and I deserved to get to live it.  Right?

Instead of enjoying my kids, pursuing a close relationship with them, teaching them about the Lord, and celebrating who He made them to be, I completely distanced myself, merely tolerating them at best.   Though I went through all of the motions of parenting, I had checked out…and my kids could tell.  I’ll never forget the day my little Josiah looked me in the face and said, “Mom, you know I can tell when you and Dad are just acting like you’re listening to me.”

 I genuinely loved my children, but I honestly had no desire to spend time with them.  In my eyes, any rare moments of extra time were too valuable to waste on playing or talking or being silly.  I had more important things to do.  Like be SUPER!  Or be alone!  Oh how I wanted to just sit in silence –without a single little voice repeating itself a thousand times!  I wanted to be anywhere but home…

Over the years, my attitude and actions continued to slowly spiral downward.  I became harsh and short-tempered with the kids.  With our crazy busy schedule I didn’t have time to be patient, so I began to correct and discipline the children differently.  I demanded obedience and would go to whatever length it took to get it.  And I justified it all in the name of keeping peace in our home.  No longer was I a gentle and loving parent looking for a teachable moment.  Truth be told, I cared more about “appearing” to be in control of the kids than I did about instilling character in them.   I was a drill sergeant forcing results and perfection.  When my children didn’t meet the standard, all hell broke loose!  My emotions were all over the place so the kids never knew what to expect, nice mom, mean mom, really mean mom.  At times, I was overcome with uncontrollable rage when I encountered defiance or disobedience.  My children would literally flinch at the sight of me coming towards them and it broke my heart, but I could not seem to gain control of my emotions.  After correcting them in anger, I was filled with remorse and disgust at myself and my behavior.  What had happened to me over the years?  How had I become so impatient?  So harsh?  So hurtful?  So selfish?  Time after time, I resolved to be a better parent.  A better teacher.  A better example for my kids.  But no matter how hard I tried, I could not bring myself to sit down and do a puzzle.  Or watch a cartoon.  What a waste of time!  Instead of lovingly tending to body boo-boos, heart owies, and bruises of the spirit, I barked orders for them to quit complaining and dry it up!  Instead of encouraging them and building their self-worth, I constantly harped on their shortcomings.  My mouth had become a weapon of mass destruction and I couldn’t control it.

Maybe only those of you who, like me, have experienced the constant power struggles that arise when you’re parenting a son who thinks he’s ten times smarter than you (and really is!) can understand how a mom could reach such a low point.  And maybe only those of us who parent a daughter who exited the womb with fire in her eyes and a sassy attitude the size of Texas can understand “losing it” and lashing out in uncontrollable anger at a precious child.  Believe it or not, understand it or not, I was there at rock bottom.  Lower than low. 

I finally realized that there was absolutely no way to “fix” things in my own strength.  I cried out to the Lord for change and handed over my terribly warped and broken heart for an overhaul.  He met me right where I was, in the midst of my filth, and began wiping away the muck to restore my perspective on parenting.  The first thing that had to go was the selfishness.  He gently reminded me that my life is not my own.  It’s His.  Bought with the blood of Jesus and therefore at His disposal.  HE is the one who calls the shots on how my time is to be spent, not me.  So, He took my precious time, withheld a little for Himself and my husband, and handed the rest (all of it!) to my children.  And I spent the next five months homeschooling, learning to build and grow what I had stifled and crushed.  It was through that homeschooling process, that he removed “the race” entirely.  He broke the housework compulsion because there seriously were not enough hours in the day AND night to get it all done.  (Believe me, I tried!)  He defeated this SUPERmom’s selfish agenda and set me on a path to fulfill HIS perfect plan.  He, the all-knowing, all-powerful God of the Universe, chose to entrust four very specific children to me –that I would raise them to know, love, and serve Him.  Everyone is created to influence someone.  Maybe not the president or anybody famous but a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor.  As for me, I was created to daily influence four little lives.  To live a life before them that models Jesus.  To lovingly train my know-it-all son to submit to authority and gently teach my smart alec daughter to respect others.  Every choice I make and every word I speak alters their future.  And if I fail at my job of raising them, then they fail, too.  So, with the grace and strength of God, this mom is dusting off her cape one last time and embarking on a new mission –to really become SUPER.  Not in the eyes of the world, but in the eyes of my Creator and in the eyes of my children.

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I’ll Have What HE’s Having

October 27, 2010 at 10:03 pm (More than Mediocre) (, , , , )

Is it just me or does anybody else out there believe that there is more to this life than just living and dying?  That you’re on this earth for a reason – to do something that actually matters – to carry out a specific purpose? 

Don’t worry.  Your secret’s safe with me.  Because as corny as it sounds, my deepest desire is to be a “world changer.”  By the masses or one person at a time.  Either way works for me – as long as I am somehow used to touch a life, mend a heart, change an attitude, lead someone into truth. 

Now maybe my mother told me I was special one too many times, but I think the real source of this pressing desire to make a difference in others’ lives is actually my father…my Heavenly Father, that is.  Not only does He put desires deep within us, He also provides us with the tools necessary to fulfill those desires.

Ten and a half years ago I sat in a church pew listening to a teaching by a man named John Paul Jackson.  In the middle of his message, he called me out and prophesied over me.  At the time, I was not at all familiar with the spiritual gift of prophecy and had no intentions of familiarizing myself with it.  It was one of those parts of scripture that our particular denomination altogether dismissed.  (Maybe somebody tore those pages out of our Bibles)  Along with healings, deliverance, and miracles, I believed prophecy was a thing of the past –for I had been taught only the Gospel of Jesus, not the gospel that Jesus taught.

With my childhood church background it should have been easy to go home and forget the words spoken over me.  However, that proved to be quite impossible because the words John Paul spoke were not his own.  They were directly from the Lord.  They were not general in nature, but very specific.  In fact, they hit so close to home that those who knew me best were just as stunned as I was.  How could this complete stranger speak the details of my life so accurately?  There was no doubt –this man definitely had a connection with the Lord unlike anything I had ever seen before.  He heard from God on a regular basis, something I desperately craved in my own life. 

Life happened.  We started a family and it grew and grew and grew!  Extra time in my life literally became non-existent.   My destiny didn’t appear to be coming to pass.  But I held onto those life-changing words that God chose to plant in my heart that fateful day.  And now, years later, I am finally seeing the fruit of them!

Over the years I’ve poured over John Paul’s teachings as well as those of my own pastor, Jim Way of the Remnant Church, and also those of Dr. Richard Booker of the Institute for Hebraic-Christian Studies.  These three men all hold a priceless treasure that I seek.  They hear and know the Lord intimately.  They are living proof that Christianity is more than empty religious practices and unanswered prayer.  That a living, breathing, loving God genuinely desires to communicate with us individually and will if we allow Him to!  That He chooses to empower us and to use us to share His truth to overpower deception.  To be His light in the midst of a world full of darkness.  To speak His life into those that are dying.  To bring deliverance to those in bondage.  And to release healing to those who are broken.  As I have sat under their ministries, I’ve come to realize that the close relationship that they maintain with God the Father and the ability to be used for His purposes is much too big to embody in my current spiritual state.  There must first be an emptying.  A purging to free me from everything within that might stifle God’s voice and suppress His presence.  I welcome that cleansing process because it is there in that place of brokenness that my dream of being used to impact others will finally be realized.

As I think of each of these three godly teachers, my prayer to God goes something like this, “I’ll have what he’s having!  I’ll do whatever it takes to get there.”

As I continue in my blog, know that the inspiration for my writings comes from the Biblical principles and truths that I’ve gleaned from the teachings of the aforementioned men that have been divinely placed in my path.

http://remnantchurchonline.org/

http://www.streamsministries.com/

http://www.rbooker.com/general/about.htm

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