Friday, September 21, 2012

Get a Dumpster!

Boxes Columbus OHWe just moved a couple of weeks ago for the second time in a matter of 3 1/2 months. You know, moving really forces a person to figure out what is clutter and what is really important. Several times this year, I have asked myself, "Do I really want to box this up and move it--AGAIN?" Even though we aren't packrats by any stretch of the imagination, we still have lots of stuff. Did you know that 1 out of 10 Americans now uses a storage unit? I can't remember storage units even existing when I was growing up. I am determined that stuff will not become so important to me that I will have to have a storage unit!

So many women who work outside the home often complain about not being organized enough. Don't you think that if we got rid of some of our stuff and junk, we would have less things and we would feel less cluttered? I don't know about you, but clutter makes me feel stressed. I don't like to look for things. I like to know that things have their places, and when I need something, I want to be able to find it! There is so much stuff we don't need. Why not just get rid of stuff?

While we were moving this past time, I got rid of some things that I have held onto for a loooong time. These were things that were worthless to others but sentimental to me. They were paper things--cards, letters, and notes. Some were from my wedding and were from people I couldn't even remember. I felt kind of bad about getting rid of a lot of that paper, but I realized that I don't ever even look at those things unless I am moving! I have wonderful memories of my wedding, birthdays, and other events without having to hang onto every card that comes my way.

When I look at people who have really clean homes like my mom and my mother-in-law, I don't see that they are sentimental packrats. They have a few items that are nostalgic reminders of the past, but those items are not burdens. Both of these clean, classy women have homes that are beautiful, friendly havens for themselves and any visitor who enters the doors. Neither of them have boxes and boxes of memories; they both live for today--in a good way.

So if you are one of those who suffers from the effects of too much clutter, don't be afraid to jump right in there and start throwing stuff away. In fact, you might find it so freeing that you may find that your garbage can is too small--and if it is, get a dumpster!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Carnality and the Christian

Most independent, fundamental Baptists equate carnality with worldly activities such as dancing, attending movies, listening to CCM, rock, or country music, or any of a host of other activities deemed as carnal. There is a tendency to judge a person's Christianity by their involvement in church, their appearance, or the activities in which they do or do not participate.

Obviously, a church must establish guidelines for staff or for those who participate in any type of leadership role.  If a person cannot bring himself to follow the guidelines and rebels against them, that will be a problem. A church that is growing and thriving will welcome everyone who enters its doors, but just like many business establishments, a line must be drawn SOMEWHERE. Recently my husband and I were at a Wendy's restaurant when a girl entered wearing her bathing suit. The cashier asked the girl to leave and put some clothing on before she came back. Even the world has standards for being appropriate.  The Bible has many general guidelines for how we should live and how we should present ourselves. It can become very easy to focus on what we see, and we can often find ourselves determining a person's Christianity by their outward appearance and works because we cannot see, as God does, what is going on inside a person.

In the Book of Hebrews, Paul wrote directly to those who had been saved long enough and those who were involved in the church enough to be considered as leadership.

Hebrews 5:12  "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first oracles of God:  and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat."

These folks had lost sight of the basics, even though they were already doing "leaderly" type things. The people whom Paul was addressing must have held to the guidelines of the church and they must have been quite involved in the church or Paul would not have spoken of them as being considered for the respected position of teacher.  He told them that although they OUGHT to be teachers, they needed to be taught AGAIN what being a Christian is really all about.

The mature Christians Paul was writing to had become carnal. Carnal is defined as:  Pertaining to or characterized by the flesh or the body, its passions and appetites; sensual: carnal pleasures.
not spiritual; merely human; temporal; worldly. Yes, carnality can be identified by one's activities or appearance, but carnality begins in the heart. I Corinthians 3:3 says, "For ye are yet carnal:  for whereas there is among you  ENVYING, and STRIFE, and DIVISIONS, are ye not carnal, and walk as man?"  Paul was pointing out that attitudes were causing severe problems in the house of God! These attitudes were carnal! Yes, immodesty is carnal. Watching nudity in movies is carnal. Drinking alcohol is carnal. Fornication and adultery are carnal.  But so is envy, strife, and attitudes that cause division in the church.

Paul admonishes the teachers-to-be to go back to the basics. What are the basics of Christianity?

Mathew 22:36-40  "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. ON THESE TWO HANG ALL THE LAW AND PROPHETS."

 The basics of Christianity are:


If we really would love God with all our hearts and if we would love people as much as we love ourselves (which is a whole bunch!), we wouldn't have attitude problems with other people. Remember, Jesus loved us so much, that He died for us! If we prevent carnality from taking root inside us, the outward parts will take care of themselves.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

"The Silent Treatment" and Christians


I have had the idea rattling around in this head of mine about writing an article on "the silent treatment." I've started writing the article several times, but I feel like I'm just dancing around the subject instead of getting straight to the point; so I'm just going to go straight to the point--I'm tired of seeing "mature" Christian women (and sometimes men) give other mature Christians the silent treatment, the cold shoulder, or whatever you would like to call it. I do not understand why not speaking to our sisters in Christ when we are angry, hurt, upset, jealous, confused, etc. seems to be an acceptable form of behavior in most churches. Please, don't fool yourself. "The silent treatment" is far from acceptable according to...God's Word.

James 1:19-22  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:  For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.  But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

According to these verses in James, we as mature Christians, are not to let wrath, which is internal seething anger, boil and fester inside ourselves. In most church settings, yelling and telling people off is considered at unacceptable, so "good" Christians learn to internalize their anger, and they have led themselves to believe that not speaking to those they are frustrated with is acceptable.  What has happened to conducting ourselves in the manner of Ephesians 4:32?   And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.  So many Christians are good at following the rules of their church, but they have forgotten to apply such simple truths as Ephesians 4:32.  What good does wearing a long skirt, buttoning the top button, working on a bus route, working the altar on a Sunday morning do, if we are not applying the most basic truths of God's Word to our lives?  We must not fool ourselves into believing that we are good because we are outwardly modest or busy at church. Real Christianity starts in the heart with the simple, basic truths that are taught to our children:

be kind
have a tender heart towards people

So when James 1:22 says to be "doers of the word," I'm pretty sure that doesn't only refer to being modest and being a soul winner.  I'm not downplaying either of those qualities, but the REAL works of God take place in the heart and are manifested outwardly. Being kind is something you DO. Having a tender heart should be something that is DONE not just felt. "Forgive" is an ACTION. 

Don't fool yourself into believing you are good because you follow the rules. Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" We all have wicked hearts that fool us into into thinking "I am good"; "I am better than others"; "My behavior is acceptable as long as I am going to church, reading my Bible, etc."  

Ask the Holy Spirit to make you sensitive to your treatment of other Christians. Sincerely search your heart to see if your spirit is judgmental. When you sense that you are guilty of mistreating your sister's in Christ, don't try to justify your behavior--it's time to hit the altar and change the attitude. Learn to say, "I'm sorry," even if you are not sure that you have offended someone, and realize when you are falling into the trap of emotionally abusing people, because that's what the silent treatment is.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Note to Self

                                James 1:19 says, "...let every man be 
                                     swift to hear,    
                                    slow to speak, 
                                    slow to wrath."

 Reminder to Self:
1. "Swift to hear"--Read my Bible with understanding and listen to the preaching with a heart that is willing to accept truth. Apply the truth's of God's Word to my life.
2. "Slow to speak"--THINK before I say it! Proverbs 2:23 says, "Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles."
3. "Slow to *wrath"--Give people the benefit of the doubt; that will keep me from passing judgement and jumping to conclusions.  

THIS is DEEP Christianity!

*wrath- Inner, deep resentment that seethes and smoulders. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Guest Blog: People’s Expectations Versus God’s Excellence

 I love this young lady! Before I ever knew Folsom Myers, I observed her as she worked a job in the college dining hall and exhibited such a godly spirit, not in a spooky way, but in a fun, bright mannerism.  One day while riding a college bus on one of my husband's Chicago history trips, Folsom and I got to know one another, and we became fast friends. Throughout her tenure as a student, Folsom often stopped by my office and we would chat a while. Sometimes she would share her beautiful poetry that she had written with me. Folsom is such a vibrant young lady, that it doesn't take long to see right past the fact that she deals with a crippling disease.  I'm so blessed to call Folsom Blue Myers my friend!

Genesis 37:19  And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.

Do the people in your life think that you could never accomplish the great dream God has placed in your heart?  Perhaps you are too young, old, naïve, or shy?  Maybe others feel that you are not mentally, physically, spiritually, or emotionally strong enough to achieve such a grandiose task?

Josephs brothers thought he was simply the spoiled, favorite son of their aging father.  They ridiculed him for the dream that God had given him.  They despised him for it even.  Those in Davids life, too, thought that he would neither conquer the giant nor reign as king: 

1Samuel 16:11  And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There  remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep.

1Samuel 17:28  And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.

1Samuel 17:33  And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.

In both Biblical accounts, all those finding fault in the dreams of these two young men had negated one thing when forming their expectations: Gods excellence!  Truthfully, Joseph and David probably werent strong enough in their own power to accomplish the goals which God had laid out for them, but in Gods power, they could do alland more still!

I want you to now take a moment to consider two things:
1.       What seemingly unreachable goal has God given you?
2.      Have you ever dismissed or discouraged another from pursuing what you felt would be an impossible task?  Whom?  What did you discourage them from setting out to achieve?
Write the answers to both questions on an index card.  

Now, you must decide.  Is the excellence of God enough to override others expectations as you set out to accomplish your dream?   Is the greatness of God enough to compel you to believe your loved one might achieve what they wish, as well?   The answer is most definitely yes, but youll need something to help during times of discouragement, for they will come. 

 Heres one more task for you to complete before you set out with God to make your dreams come true:
Go to Gods Word and find six verses: three to encourage yourself  and three more to pass on to that friend of yours!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Are You Self-Righteous?

Galatians 6:3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

The besetting sin for many good people who are perceived to be godly people is the sin of self-righteousness.  Those who have lived "good" lives and have not committed the obvious sins like drinking alcohol, doing drugs, smoking, cursing, committing fornication and adultery, or a host of other "outward" sins,will have to fight other battles that take place inwardly. In fact, even those who do commit the outward sins will not be exempt by default of committing the inward sins that no one, but God sees. The inward sins take place in the heart, and although they are not worn like an expensive piece of jewelry for all to see, the inward sins will manifest their nasty little selves in a variety of ways. One of the insidious inward sins is the sin of self-righteousness.

The definition of the word "self-righteous" is:   Convinced of one's own righteousness especially in contrast with the actions and beliefs of others. 

In this world, the mirror we too often use to judge ourselves by is others. We want to know how we compare and add up to the people around us. We think thoughts like "I'm not as good as so and so, but at least I'm not like so and so." No matter how good a person is, when looking into the correct mirror, the mirror of God's Word, we find that "...all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags"; (Isaiah 64:6). Not for one second should we ever convince ourselves that we are good; when we do, we run the risk of becoming like the most beautiful angel ever created by God, Lucifer--that's right, the devil himself! Lucifer believed his own PR--he was good, and beautiful, and glorious--compared to the other angels. If Lucifer had compared himself to God, he would have realized that he was just like the rest of us--imperfection only made perfect by God's grace. When we compare and sum ourselves up to the only one we should be looking to, Jesus Christ the sinless Lamb of God, we will always see ourselves as we really are--pockmarked by sin. 

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to see if you are self-righteous:

1. Do you find yourself annoyed by other people's apparent sin?
2. Do you disrespect people who you see as sinners?
3. Do you feel better about your self when you compare yourself to others who you deem as less good as you are?
4. Do you ever feel sympathy for those with "outward" sins but feel judgmental to those other "good" Christians who commit the "inward" sins? 
5. Are you slow to see your own faults but quick to point out the faults of others?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you, my friend, along with the rest of mankind, have succumbed to the sin of self-righteousness. What is the cure for self-righteousness? Well, the cure is the same as it is for any other sin--admitting the sin to God and asking forgiveness. Ask God to allow you to recognize when you are falling into the behavior of the self-righteous, and remember to view yourself in the mirror of God's Word.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Harewood: Home of Colonel Samuel Washington

We took a little ride this afternoon on some country roads near Charlestown, WV.  There are so many historical signs around these parts that it would be easy to become blase' about the history that surrounds us.  As we were driving today though, we saw a historical marker, and in the distance we could make out an old stone house partially hidden by the tree-lined property.  Our curiosity got the best of us, so we turned ourselves around pulled up to the sign.
The sign is a little hard to read, so I'll give you the skinny:  Harewood was the home of Samuel Washington who was George Washington's brother; George Washington visited here; General Lafayette and Louis Phillipe of France visited here; James Madison married his wife Dolly right here on this very property. Now that's some good history!

Our curiosity was certainly piqued by the sign--especially the part about there being a cemetery where Samuel Washington is buried. We history buffs are quite intrigued by cemeteries, you know.  First things first though; we had to take a gander at the house itself.
Nobody was home. How do I know that? Because my husband tried honking the horn, and when that failed, he tried yelling, "HELLO!" a few times at the house. We got no response, so we continued our self-guided tour (some may call this trespassing, but c'mon--it's trespassing for the sake of education!).

The spring house was facing the main house.
The driveway meandered back to a more private location, so we got in our van and followed the trail.
Isn't it a lovely trail? We found another much newer house and a farm with a couple of buildings and enjoyed the pastoral setting.
My husband wandered around with purpose, until eureka! He found what he was looking for.
Believe it or not, this is the cemetery that Samuel Washington is buried in. It's in a quite decrepit condition.

Now that I'm looking at this, I see we had actually crossed over into VA, but we were around Charlestown, WV somewhere. This is a plaque that is on the stone wall surrounding the graves.
The tombs are shrouded in these overgrown weeds. It's pretty sad.

This is Samuel Washington's grave. His wife's grave and it looks like children's graves are also severely untended. I probably could have won a citizenship award for clearing away the weeds, but seriously, someone would need to have some heavy duty equipment to deal with the growth.

As we were pulling away, the lady who lives in the newer house pulled. She graciously answered some questions we had and even took our phone number so that we can get a personal tour from Walter Washington (the home owner) someday. Apparently there are other Washington family homes in the area and tours are given annually.  All in all, it was a great day for history!