"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our Lord stands forever. Isaiah 40:8

31 December 2005

Of God and Penguins

Our family recently watched the “March of the Penguins” on DVD. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the movie, it’s a documentary about the Emperor Penguins of Antarctica that travel great distances and survive harsh conditions to reproduce.

(Now stay with me, I will turn this into a faith-based message).

In fact, the penguins travel a huge distance inland to mate and produce one egg which is then left with the father to incubate while the mother returns to the ocean to eat as she is close to starvation (penguins live on fish and cannot eat when they are inland). From there the parents take turns caring for the chick while walking back and forth to the ocean to eat to stay alive and to feed their new chick. I don’t want to go into too many details, but let’s just say that the conditions are extremely harsh and some penguins don’t even make it through the process.

According to the movie, the area where the penguins breed and raise their chicks is an area of very thick ice which is protected from the constant breaking apart of the ice in that region. If they nested closer to the ocean (where they could feed) the eggs/chicks would likely not survive. The question I had to ask myself while I watched the movie is why would any animal chose such an existence?

From an evolutionary standpoint, why would an animal chose to evolve in such a harsh environment. Why not just stay where it is warm? How did the penguins figure out to travel so far to be able to reproduce successfully? Wouldn’t evolution choose the path of least resistance?

Of course, I know the answer. This whole complicated process and existence was God’s creation. And this isn’t an isolated story in the animal kingdom. There are all kinds of crazy, wonderful creatures out there that have unbelievable traits. Did it all happen by chance? I don’t think so.

As a biologist by training, I often have a front row seat to God’s amazing creation. What you see on the outside is pretty incredible, but if you look at the inner workings of biology, it’s absolutely amazing. But in this movie it doesn’t take a science degree to see the hand of God in orchestrating the complicated reproduction of Emperor penguins. Just some faith in an Almighty Creator.

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." Romans 1:20

29 December 2005

God's Adopted Daughter

“He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,” Eph 1:5

I recently visited with my father’s family for a few days because my Grandmother was hospitalized. It had been a few years since I had seen any of my extended family. While I was staying at my Grandparent’s house were I had stayed often as a child, it brought up a lot of memories. Sadly the thing I thought about most was how I always felt like an outsider as a child.

See, I was adopted as a baby and was never close to my parents. Growing up I never really felt like I fit in and always looked at myself as not being related to my extended family either. I don’t believe that anyone ever treated me like I wasn’t a full-fledged family member, it was just something that I struggled with myself.

Thinking of all this, I was reminded of the fact that we are considered “adopted” members of God’s family through Jesus. It struck me as odd since finding the Lord was not at all like being adopted but more like discovering my true family. Through the Lord I have discovered the unconditional love and peace that I have never felt my whole life. Everything finally made sense.

Being now a child of God, I didn’t have the same feelings of being an outsider with my family. It wasn’t that I now felt like a blood-relative, but that I didn’t have the need to belong in that way anymore. I was able to look at my extended family as people that I care about, whom I have a history with, and as “neighbors” whom I should love. My desire to belong has been more than fulfilled by my heavenly Father and through his love has come healing from the past.

28 December 2005

Christian Women - MIA

I started The Christian Woman website a little over a year ago to organize all the information I had come across in researching work at home ideas and to address the role of Christian women in general. I’ve been longing to update the site to focus more on topics that are uplifting to Christian women and to promote frugality for giving, but as a working mother who is “domestically-challenged” I can’t seem to find the time. However, I have been doing some researching and brainstorming here and there and have been disappointed by the lack of literature available on historical Christian women.

Now maybe I’m just not looking in the right places. My problem is that I don’t know too many names of great Christian women in history, so perhaps if I looked for information on particular women, I would have more luck. However, I have found some website listings and I must say, the pickins are slim. Is it that the roles that women usually take are out of the spotlight or that the lives of great Christian women just haven’t been documented well? I’m guessing it’s a combination of both.

I was happy to find a devotional type book that spotlights women from the scripture and provides insight into their lives. Not quite what I was looking for, but it will do for now. Once I start the book I hope to have some things to share. Ultimately I hope to highlight more women and women’s issues on my website. I have to stick with that kind of stuff since no one would appreciate my advice on cooking or cleaning.

25 December 2005

To Be or Not to Be Funny

Last week I was inspired to add some humor to my post when I wrote A Cupcake Christmas. So far I think most of my posts have been very serious and borderline brooding, and I’m not sure if that’s how I would like to write. Certainly I take my faith very seriously and have a rather matter of fact attitude, but I also love humor (reading it and making it) and wanted to try and incorporate that into my last post. Any opinions? (I ask as if the one or two people that visit my blog may actually answer – now that’s funny!).

The inspiration to incorporate humor came after I thought of creating a second blog about my occupation as a scientist. Prior to being saved I was quite cynical (okay, still am) and I still see a lot of humor in my menial position in the scientific world in a sort of Dilbert way. I think I could write up some pretty funny stuff, but the humor content would be cynical enough that I think it would be “inappropriate” for a Christian. Goofing on my superiors and whining about my inferiority are sinful behaviors that as a Christian I am trying to rectify, not glorify.

After reading some other Christian blogs that incorporated humor and I realized how much I love to read humorous writing. And of course, since I think I’m so funny, why not try to incorporate more humor in my Christian thoughts rather than pursue a humorous secular blog . On the downside, perhaps I’m the only one who thinks that I’m funny, except my husband, but he’s obligated by marriage.

So, I guess my point is…well, I don’t really have a point. Since this blog is fairly new, I guess I really haven’t found my niche yet. I’ll just keep writing as things come to me and see where it goes. Feedback is very welcome!

17 December 2005

A Cupcake Christmas

As I was driving into work this morning I was thinking about how we should celebrate Christmas in my family. Since my oldest child is 3.5 years old, we’ve managed to get away with virtually no tradition up until now. But now my daughter is old enough to enjoy and remember traditions, so I guess it’s time to do something.

I remember telling my husband that I didn’t want to do the whole “Santa thing” when my daughter was a just a baby. I felt it would be a distraction from the true meaning of Christmas, which is of course, the birth of our Lord and Savior. My husband was not happy with the idea at the time as he has a hard time letting go of childhood memories and traditions. Whatever. She was only a baby so no point in debating at that time.

Ah, but as I have noticed through my years of marriage, my husband cannot resist the draw of my overwhelmingly clever logic and ideas. He may put up a fight at first, but resistance is futile. No seriously, maybe he’s just been busy with other things, but so far I have not heard my daughter say anything about Santa. I’m almost afraid to ask, but I think maybe we’ve come to an agreement about not doing Santa. Not that I think there is anything inherently wrong with Santa, so no offense meant here if you “believe” in Santa in your household.

Anyway, where was I going with this? Okay, back to my daughter. As I said, she hasn’t mentioned Santa yet but in talking with her the other day she did mention that it would be Christmas soon and that it was also Jesus’ birthday. Yeah! I’m always so happy when she remembers what I want her to remember. So I said, yes, maybe we should make Jesus some cupcakes or something, as she loves cupcakes.

It was just something I said to try and hold up my end of the conversation, but as I thought about it more, I think it would be a great new tradition for us. What if every Christmas morning /Christmas Eve we made some cupcakes for Jesus. We could even put a candle on one and sing “Happy Birthday”. A bit corny, but kids like that stuff. Now, if I could really get my act together we could take them to our larger family get-together and make it a witnessing opportunity.

So, it’s just something small but I think it’s a start. My daughter and I can make cupcakes together and talk about Jesus’ birth. Later we’ll sing “Happy Birthday” and thank him for coming down to Earth to be our Savior. A tradition is born, the meaning of Christmas is confirmed, and Jesus gets some cupcakes.

I just hope he likes chocolate.

13 December 2005

Christmas with Compassion?

It’s funny, I started this blog about two months ago because I had a lot of thoughts and opinions swirling in my head that I wanted to get down in writing. But for the last week or two, I’ve basically had nothing to say. Guess I’m just preoccupied with the holiday season and busy at work.

I have to say I can’t wait until Christmas is over. It’s terrible to admit, but I really hate Christmas. I would be so happy if Christmas was simply a celebration of the birth of our Savior and focused on compassionate giving rather than gift giving. Instead of buying another toy for a child that has more toys than they can ever play with, I would rather give that money to a child who has no toys and is happy just to have a meal every night. Instead of spending hours shopping and waiting in lines, I’d rather be giving my time to a soup kitchen.

Yeah, I can still do all these things, but wouldn’t it be great if all of us “fortunate” people gave up a commercialized Christmas for a compassionate Christmas! No more gifts or shopping for ourselves, but gifts and our time to make life a little better for all of those people around the world who have so much less than us. Yes, I know our children would be disappointed without all the gifts, but do they really need them? Wouldn’t the time be better spent teaching our children about compassion and giving while doing some sort of outreach as a family?

I’m sure I’m just a lone voice in the wilderness here. And I must admit that I myself have not reached these ideals that I’m professing. I’d be happy to do away with all the gift giving in my family, I just can’t get anyone else to agree with me. But we do give to other ministries during this time and maybe once my children are older we can start getting involved in some sort of an outreach as a family.

In the meantime, that will be me out there standing in the line at some store with a bunch of useless gifts in my basket and a sadness in my heart.

"If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered." Proverbs 21:13

08 December 2005

Frugal Christian

On my website The Christian Woman, I try to offer some advice on frugality. I think it’s important for Christians to be as frugal as possible to be good stewards of God’s money. I also think that frugality is a difficult concept for many people in today’s world.

I’ll admit, over the past few months my frugalness has slipped as we moved to a new home and I started a new job. Frugality takes time and as a working Christian mother of two small children, time is not something I have in abundance. But now that we have found a church we like and I have started thinking about our giving, I have been inspired to put effort back into cutting costs.

Last weekend I cut the bundle of coupon sheets that have been stacking up and looked over the grocery circulars for sales. I realized that I had recently bought some toothpaste for which I could have gotten a better price and felt disappointed. That’s the fun part of frugality. It becomes a bit of a game to “hunt down” the best price.

I still have a lot of areas I need to improve on. For one, I need a better coupon organizing system and I need to start work on a price book (see my website for details on price books), but at least I’m trying. I don’t think I’ll ever get to the point of washing out every baggie to reuse, but that’s okay.

I wonder how many other Christians have a frugal mentality. And not out of necessity but in a desire to do the most with the money the Lord has provided. I wish I was more of a “frugal guru” so I could try and push this idea, but I’m just me.

Maybe someday I’ll have more time to spend on this topic on my website. I could start a movement and call it “Penny Pinching for the Lord” or “Divine Frugalness”. Hmmm.

"He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God." Proverbs 14:31

02 December 2005

Another Great Hymn

Here is another favorite hymn of mine, It Is Well with My Soul. Most probably know the story behind this hymn, but here is an excerpt from www.cyberhymnal.org:

Words: Ho­ra­tio G. Spaf­ford, 1873.
Music: Phil­ip P. Bliss, 1876. The tune is named af­ter the ship on which Spaf­ford’s child­ren per­ished, the S.S. Ville de Havre. Iron­ic­al­ly, Bliss him­self died in a tra­gic train wreck short­ly af­ter writ­ing this mu­sic.

“This hymn was writ­ten af­ter two ma­jor trau­mas in Spaf­ford’s life. The first was the great Chi­ca­go Fire of Oc­to­ber 1871, which ru­ined him fi­nan­cial­ly (he had been a weal­thy bus­i­ness­man). Short­ly af­ter, while cross­ing the At­lan­tic, all four of Spaf­ford’s daugh­ters died in a col­li­sion with an­o­ther ship. Spaf­ford’s wife Anna sur­vived and sent him the now fa­mous tel­e­gram, “Saved alone.” Sev­er­al weeks lat­er, as Spaf­ford’s own ship passed near the spot where his daugh­ters died, the Ho­ly Spir­it in­spired these words. They speak to the eter­nal hope that all be­liev­ers have, no mat­ter what pain and grief be­fall them on earth.”

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

30 November 2005

Handel's Messiah

With Christmas approaching I was reminded of the musical masterpiece, Handel’s Messiah. The Messiah is a oratorio consisting of three parts representing Christ’s birth, death and resurrection. All of the “lyrics” are directly from scripture – basically the bible put to music.

During my high school choir days, we would perform The Messiah every Christmas. Though at the time I was not a Christian and therefore didn’t appreciate the incredible beauty of having scripture put to music, I loved to sing the piece simply for it’s sound. Now I love it even more.

One of my favorite songs from The Messiah is “He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd”. It’s a wonderful solo consisting of a verse from Isaiah sung by an alto and then a verse from Matthew sung by a soprano:

“He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; and he shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.”
Isaiah 40:11

“Come unto [Him], all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and [He] shall give you rest. Take [his] yoke upon you, and learn of [Him]; for [he] is meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.“ Matthew 11:28-29 [third person substituted for first person in lyrics]

I think that verse from Matthew is one of my favorites. What a lovely picture of Christ!

This also reminded me once again why I love hymns so much (see my previous post). So many of the hymns incorporate the beautiful symbolism of Christ that you find in the scripture. I know, some of the contemporary songs incorporate symbolism also, but to me they just don’t pull it off as well as the hymns.

If you have not heard Handle’s Messiah, you must. Many churches put on a performance around Christmas, so go to a live performance if you can.

28 November 2005

Rock of Ages

In tribute of the great hymns of old, here is a classic. I have found that no matter how many times I have sung some of these tunes, reading the words straight out just blows me away.

Rock of Ages
Text: Augustus M. Toplady, 1740-1778
Music: Thomas Hastings, 1784-1872

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

27 November 2005

The Beauty of Hymns

If you read through some of my older posts you’ll see that I would be considered a bit old-fashioned in many ways. Although I enjoy many contemporary Christian songs, I do have a special place in my heart for hymns. Yes, they are not as jazzy as the newer music. But I have yet to come across a contemporary song that has the theological depth of most hymns.

That said, we have chosen to attend a church that has a contemporary worship service. So I was happy today when our Pastor mentioned watching a program on hymn writers and noted the special qualities of hymns. How many of the writers had exceptional life stories or wrote a particular hymn of praise after experiencing an adverse advent (not necessarily a time when we think of praising God). Those hymns came from the heart as opposed to today’s music which is very commercialized, perhaps created for profit or to meet a deadline.

I know our church and other contemporary churches often sing some hymns, played in a more contemporary way. I hope that is a trend that continues. What a shame it would be for future generations not to be exposed to the beautiful poetry about our Lord that comes alive in music through hymns. I think I will post the lyrics of a hymn from time to time as a tribute.

19 November 2005

Read Your Bible!

I have a concern lately that Christian literature is starting to take the place of the Bible in some believer’s lives. I seem to meet more and more Christians who emphasize reading Christian books or who have book studies in their small groups. What happen to good old-fashioned Bible study groups?

In our search for a new church, I’ve been disappointed by the number of churches that don’t have Bible study groups. Some of the churches have small group meetings, but these seem to focus more around fellowship. Now don’t get me wrong, fellowship is important, but it seems to me that there should be more of an emphasis on reading the Word in our churches today. I’m worried that the popularity of Christian literature is detracting from daily Bible reading.

Not only is the Bible God’s Word to us (absent from any author’s slant) but it often speaks to us depending on our need. You could read the same one book from the bible over and over and each time something new will pop out at you - I know it happens to me all the time. Christians should be reading their bibles daily and only then supplementing with Christian literature in my opinion. As the Apostle Paul told Timothy:

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2Tim 3:16

Knowing scripture is also very important to our evangelism efforts. I have found this out firsthand as I recently engaged with an unbeliever who was curious about my faith. I knew that there were certain scripture verses that would directly answer some of her pointed questions, and yet I could not remember the words exactly. I felt like a failure for I remembered this passage (but had to look it up):

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Heb 4:12

Don’t underestimate the power of scripture in your life. Christian literature has its place, but that place should never be in exchange for the Bible.

14 November 2005

Struggling with Sin

It’s difficult to say which of my sins I struggle with the most. There are more than I care to admit, but I do feel as I’ve gotten better over the years. Of course, any improvement I’ve made has been simply through the Lord’s grace and mercy.

But my biggest struggle lately has been being a good Christian at work. I’m sure I could improve at a few areas at home also, but I worry that I’m not being a good witness by my behavior at work. Not that I’m awful, but I’m certainly not anywhere close to Christ-like.

I’m very opinionated, judgmental (about how things are done), gossipy, and prideful. I really try to behave the way the Lord expects me to behave, but I just can’t seem to conquer my sinful ways. I pray about it, I read the Word and feel convicted about particular attitudes, and yet I continue. I thank the Lord constantly for his never-ending mercy because I know I’m rotten and yet the Lord doesn’t drop the hammer on me.

Will it ever get better? I hope so. I know that the Lord has made miraculous changes in my heart already, but is my heart hardened in this area? I feel like I’ve come such a long way in my walk with the Lord, but yet this failure makes me question the fullness of my faith. If I had the love for others, the servitude, and the humbleness that my Savior spoke of, then having the proper “Christian attitude” wouldn’t be a problem.

I know I can’t will myself to be good, the goodness has to come from the love of Christ in me. I hope I get there soon.

10 November 2005

Animals or Humans - Which is More Important?

In the news today is an article about an attempt to ban Foie gras (goose or duck liver) in the Chicago area. Apparently the fowl’s livers are fattened by tube feedings to create the large livers that are ultimately served up in many fine restaurants. The animal rights people have decided that this practice is cruel and are trying to put a stop to it as quoted on ABCnews.com:

“ ’Force-feeding birds to have livers up to 10 times their size is appalling and most citizens are shocked to learn this,’ said Gene Bauston, president of the animal rights group Farm Sanctuary, which is part of a worldwide movement against foie gras.”

Isn’t it amazing that an animal rights group could get a ban on this supposedly cruel practice yet as a nation we continue to murder our own children through abortion! Why aren’t citizens shocked by that? When are people going to realize that human life is more important than an animal’s life? Are there more animal rights people out there than pro-life supporters, or are the animal rights people just more vocal? I don’t get it!

I wonder, are the people that are into animal rights also pro-life? Somehow I doubt it. And yet I would guess that they are speaking out against animal cruelty because the animals can’t speak for themselves. How about all the unborn children that can’t speak for themselves. Aren’t they worth speaking out for?

In fact, according to PETA’s (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) website, they support stem cell research because it has the potential to reduce animal research in the long run. So, one of the largest animal rights groups in the nation supports the use of tissue from aborted babies in medical research because it could ultimately save animal lives.

It seems the insanity of the world will never end.

08 November 2005

Christian Parents Wake Up!

Okay, as I’ve said before I am a conservative. I’m a political conservative and a conservative Christian. That seems to translate nowadays to old-fashioned, but that’s fine with me. I don’t want to be hip. I’m a new creation in Christ. I’m salt and light. I’m not to conform to this world.

Now what I want to discuss isn’t really outlined biblically, but it’s an issue that bothers my “old-fashioned ways”. It’s the new trend of children calling adults by their first names. And I’m not just talking about secular people, I know a lot of Christian parents who have fallen into this trend. And frankly, I’m baffled.

Yeah, yeah, on the surface calling adults by their first names rather than by “Mr. __” or “Mrs. __” sounds pretty trivial. But to me it’s a symptom of the larger disease of a blurred line between children and adults. Children are no longer taught to have a basic respect for adults. By calling adults by their first names, I believe we’re saying to children that we’re all on the same level. Again, this alone isn’t leading to a general lack of respect by children for adults, but our encouragement of this practice is a sign of the failure of many parents today to teach their kids about respect for authority.

I don’t think too many would disagree that children today don’t respect authority the way most of us did as children. Talk to any school teacher and you’ll hear plenty of stories to support this. Watch any talk show and you’ll want to weep at the coverage of children engaging in adult behaviors at very young ages. I personally have to struggle to think of more than a handful of parents who are actually parenting their children and not trying to be their friends.

And as I said, Christians are not immune. Most children of Christian parents that I know call me by my first name, even though I never gave them permission to use my first name. And then there is the inappropriate dress by some Christian girls which I’ve discussed before. Why are Christian parents allowing their daughters to wear clothes that expose so much skin? What is going on!

Well, I could probably rant for a few more paragraphs, but I’ll leave it at this. My children are still quite young and maybe they’ll turn out just as rotten as can be. But I for one plan to go down fighting. I won’t scale back in fear that “they’ll rebel” or because “the other kids are doing it” or because “I did it as a kid” or “you have to pick your battles” or “what can you do”. I intend to teach my children the ways of the Lord, nothing less. But for now, my children will start by learning to respect adults and call them by their last name!

06 November 2005

Finding a Church Home

My husband and I have spent the last 2 months looking for a new church home. We left a church that we loved behind when we moved to our new home in another state. I’ve been unhappily surprised at how difficult it has been to find a church that is a good fit for us.

See, we tend to like small churches where you eventually get to know everyone. However, since we now have two small children, it’s important to us that we find a church that has a good children’s ministry which basically means - big church. We are also a bit old-fashioned and prefer more traditional worship styles. Hey, what can I say, we like hymns. However, most of the non-denominational churches with people our age tend to have contemporary worship.

Finally, we are what some people may call “conservative Christians”. We go strictly by scripture and believe Christians should act and dress appropriately. It seems there are a lot of churches popping up that are what they call “seeker-sensitive” and it appears to me that the message of salvation is getting watered down in those kind of churches. Why do I think that? Because these churches look too much like the world - the messages are kind of wimpy and light-hearted, and people often dress in a way that is inappropriate for believers (see How Shalt We Dress?).

I was starting to feel rather discouraged. We had already visited about 8 different churches and none had really appealed to us. How many more would it take? When would we finally feel “plugged back in”?

Well, I’m happy to report that we went to a church today that we liked. It wasn’t perfect, but by far the best we’ve seen. The biggest drawback is that it isn’t very close to our home. We’re still going to look at some more churches that are nearby, but at least I have some hope now. Although, I am saddened and concerned to learn that there are so many churches that don’t seem to be equipping their people properly and are following the world’s example. Something new to pray about, I guess.

”You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” James 4:4

04 November 2005

Amazing Love!

Well, I had good intentions when I started this blog of writing a little each day. But of course, after just a few days, I’ve let the whole week get away from me. I’ve been so busy at work that I just haven’t had too much on my mind.

One thing that was bothering me this week was the amount of evil in the world. I think the ability to access news from all over the world either by TV, newspaper, or online just makes it hard not to have evil staring back at you every day.

It started with a coworker of mine who told me of her father who grew up in Ireland. He became an orphan around the age of three along with his three siblings and lived out his life in an orphanage. His “school” was run by priests while his sister’s went to a type of convent run by nuns. Apparently the children in these schools suffered horrible abuses, some dying from starvation or beatings, all while under the care of “Christians”. Very sad stories that are just so hard to even try and comprehend.

Then I was reading about the autopsies done on the bodies from the nursing home after Hurricane Katrina. How the bodies are too decomposed to determine the actual cause of death. Thirty-four elderly people left to die. It’s just sickening.

There were more stories but I don’t even remember them now. And I don’t want to remember. So much evil, and yet Jesus came to die for us anyway.

Amazing love! how can it be
that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
(Hymn – And Can it Be)

That really is amazing.

31 October 2005

A Peek Inside

My husband and I recently purchased our first home. It’s an older home with a lot of nice features, but it needs a fair amount of cosmetic work. I find that I am now very curious about what other people’s houses look like, inside and out.

Tonight we took the kids out for Halloween. As our neighbors opened up their doors to hand out candy I was quick to peek inside their home to see how the interior was set up and decorated. But as I met each of our neighbors, I found myself wondering more about them. I wished that I could peek inside their hearts and see if they were believers.

I haven’t always felt that way, but more and more I feel a burden for those around me. I wonder about the salvation of every person I meet and I’m so happy when I unexpectedly meet another believer. But there are so many lost sheep. I wish I could do more.

30 October 2005

How Shalt We Dress?

As I mentioned previously, we have moved to a new area and are looking or a new church home. In the past few weeks we have visited a variety of churches, some more traditional, some more contemporary. Today we visited a more contemporary church – the kind that plays contemporary music and has a laid back dress code. It’s different than what we are used to, but we’re mainly just looking for a sound, biblical church.

One thing I have noticed in these contemporary churches is that there are a lot of people in their late teens, early twenties. We actually attended a contemporary church for about a year a few years ago but soon found ourselves “lost”. But that’s another story for another day. Anyway, it’s been my experience that all these young people are attracted by the more contemporary worship which is great, but I consistently see what I consider to be in appropriate dress for Christians. It’s basically the current trend of low rise pants and short/tight shirts with basically a lot of skin showing. How has this become acceptable?

I don’t have all my passages lined up, but I did find 1 Timothy 2:9,

Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments,

Of course, here Paul is talking against ornate dressing that probably was the fashion of the time, but I think the idea of “modestly and discreetly” is still applicable. Wearing revealing clothing just isn’t appropriate for a Christian woman of any age. Can anyone argue that?

I guess this inappropriate dress by our young women has me very concerned about what we are teaching our children both as parents and as a church. In an attempt to bring people into the church, have we let too much of the “world” in? I hope not.

29 October 2005

Thinking Small...

We recently moved to a new state and are trying to find a new church home. Each Sunday we visit a different church and drop our kids off at the kid’s classroom and/or nursery before heading to the service. At one of the churches we visited a few weeks ago there was a much older woman (I would say in her early 70’s) working in the infant nursery. I almost felt bad handing her my 6 month old son as she looked quite frail and he’s quite heavy, but I handed him over nonetheless.

A few weeks have gone by, and I was feeling down about my service to the Lord. As a working mother of two young children, I don’t have much time on my hands nor have I found my calling. I was thinking of missionaries and how they devote their whole lives to the Lord and was feeling small in comparison.

Then I was reminded of that older woman at the nursery. For all I know she’s been doing that for the past 20 or more years. It may not seem like much, but as a mother of young children I can tell you that it is a huge blessing to have someone at the church nursery take care of my children so I can attend service and fully concentrate on the message. And how wonderful that someone so advanced in years is still willing to roll up her sleeves and do what she can. God bless her!

So, I guess I don’t need to have “delusions of grandeur” when it comes to serving the Lord. I am still trying to figure out where I need to be in my service of the Lord, but I know that as long as I’m willing to serve him, there is no task too small and none that isn’t important enough to him.

28 October 2005

Beating Back the Thorns

Isn’t it amazing that you can read the bible over and over and yet each time something new jumps out at you? I was reading the Gospel of Mark last night and came to Jesus’ parable of the sower (Mk 4:3-9), which I have read many times before. I think before I read it very simplistically as believers versus non-believers but this time I really noticed the difference between the last two groups of people in Jesus’ explanation (Mk 4:14-20):

"The sower sows the word. These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them. In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold."

It really struck me as I read this last night that “the worries of the world” could make the word unfruitful. I myself am a worrier. I love the Lord with all my heart, but I still worry about the trivial things of life. It’s something I’ve been aware of for a while and have been working on, but ouch, I didn’t think of it affecting my “fruitfulness”.

When I’ve read this parable before I think I just automatically assumed I fell into the last category, and for the most part, I think I still do. But there are certainly days when the thorns overtake me and I lose my direction. Those are the days when I need to refocus and reset my compass. I think that’s why I love the words of the great hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”:

His Word shall not fail you—He promised
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

So this is what I will continue to work at. Turning my eyes upon Jesus and letting the things of the world fall away.

27 October 2005

Who, What, and Why?

This is my first post to my blog so I thought I would introduce myself a bit. Blogging is all new to me and I have to say it seems a bit weird to be writing in this kind of a format as if someone is actually reading along when in all likelihood it may be months before I get my first reader. But I guess this blog is partly a way for me to get my thoughts out so if I’m just talking to myself, so be it.

Who am I? I’m a thirty-something wife and mother of two and a born-again Christian. About a year ago I left my full-time job to stay home with my daughter and started a website called The Christian Woman. A year later, I have a second child and am back working full-time. Don’t ask, long story. Overall, I’m happy to be back at work - staying home just wasn’t for me - but I miss being online and working on my website. So for now blogging is a happy medium to keep doing some “online” work since I don't have the time to devote to my website.

So, we’ll see what "evolves". Which reminds me, I am a biologist by training and being a Christian also, I have a lot to comment on outside of just my life as a Christian woman. But mostly I’m just opinionated. I’m not sure if that is a good quality or not as a Christian, but I’m hoping to keep my opinions tempered by scripture.

Well, that’s all I want to say about myself for now. I’ve felt like I’ve had a lot to say on a variety of topics for the last few months which is what caused me to start this blog. Hopefully I’ll continue to have something to say now that I actually have a venue.

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