Honor the Sabbath by Going to Church

Why do Christians not treat church like the sacred place that it is?

I’m not trying to point the finger at others either…I have been guilty of this.

I get it that people are busy. Many of us have jobs. We are parents. We are in clubs. We have chores to do. We have errands to run. I understand that the weekend is, for most people, their down-time, but why should that keep you from church?

I have had several friends miss church and when asked why they say “Oh, I was tired from last night” or “It is my one day to sleep in.” I have even heard someone so bold as to use the excuse “God said Sunday was a day of rest so we decided to rest.” I do not think that is what God had in mind.

Exodus 20:8-11 says

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Six days shalt thou labor and do all they work:

But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou,

Nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy

Stranger that is within thy gates:

For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested on

The seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.”

Hebrews 10:25 says
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

It is important to go to church. To fellowship with people who are like-minded and have the same beliefs as you. It is important to be spiritually fed by the word, by helping hands, by prayers, by associating with people who genuinely love and care about you-your brothers and sisters in Christ.

You have probably heard it said that “we (Christians) are the body of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:27).

We are called to be like Jesus’ body because:

As his arms, we reach out and help others.

As his hands, we feed the sick and give shelter to the wounded.

As his feet, we walk the path of righteousness and show others the way.

As his mouth, we speak good, wholesome words and lead non-believers to Christ.

In order to strengthen our spirit so we can do as we are called to do, we need to be spiritually fed by God’s Word and by our church to grow in Christ.

So no matter if you are tired, stressed, or whatever else may come up in life, get to church. God only asks you for one day a week and it only takes up a few hours. You can go home and nap or do chores afterward.

Can you truly not afford to give God a few hours of your time?

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Why does God allow horrible things to happen in the world?

Why does God allow us to struggle?

Why does God allow us to hurt?

God has always allowed suffering (well, not always, but since the fall of Adam and Eve). In Biblical times, Job and the writers of the Psalms asked the question “why?” and many of us still ask that today when tragedy strikes. This question is echoed by many nowadays (meaning the past hundred years or so) with people witnessing two World Wars, the Holocaust, genocides and “ethnic cleansings” in several countries, famines in Africa, the killing fields of Cambodia, the emergence of AIDS, 9/11, Middle East turmoil, people being gunned down in movie theaters and at work, and America’s school shootings-a growing epidemic (CNN reported that as of 06/19/14, there were 74 school shootings in the U.S. in the past 18 months READ MORE: http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/11/us/school-shootings-cnn-number/).

In John 16:33, Jesus says “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jesus says we will face suffering, but in His word, He does not say why. So when someone asks me “Why would God let my child have cancer?” or “Why would God let a shooter come into a preschool and kill innocent children?”; the only answer I can honestly give consists of four words – “I do not know.”

What we do know is that God has a plan for everything. God knows every decision each one of us will make before we make it. He knew us before we were born. He knows the numbers of hairs we have on our head. He is infinite. We cannot even begin to fathom all that God is and all that God can do. Our puny, human brains cannot even begin to wrap our minds around a portion of God’s plan for the world. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

We will not get the answer to “why” until we leave this world. Someday we will be granted the clarity, but on earth, our site of the big picture is limited.

God originally had made a perfect world. God did not create evil and suffering. He created a potential for evil to enter the world, but it was human’s free will that brought evil to reality. God saw that the earth “was good,” but sin came in and tainted what was perfect in the eyes of God. This sin that has been taking over society more and more, it seems, with every generation, and causing more and more crimes and hate as time passes. The Bible says it is because of sin that nature was corrupted and nature longs for redemption which causes the disorder and chaos in the world.

Sometimes God uses our suffering to draw us closer to Him and to influence others for him.

Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.”

All we can do is trust in God’s purpose, walk in light, show Christ through all we do, and love one another.

 

 

 

Christians living in the world, but not of the world

Many Christians think they can still live like the secular world lives. They accept Christ into their lives, but forget about removing the sins from their life.

Can you live like the rest of the world as a Christian? No.

First of all, as a Christian, when you do something you are not supposed to do, you feel very convicted. The Holy Spirit, which is now inside you, gently prods your heart. He is persistent. You can feel when it is wrong and whether you try to justify your action(s) or not, you will know what God expects of you in that situation.

Secondly, God calls us in His Word to be different from the world.

Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-His good, pleasing, and perfect will.”

2 Corinthians 6:17 says “Therefore, ‘Come out from them and separate,’ says the Lord. ‘Touch no unclean thing and I will receive you.”

God wants us to stand apart from the secular world. In Matthew 5:13 we are called to be “the salt of the earth.” This has been translated in two ways-salt as a preservative and salt as a flavor enhancer. Some people take both interpretations as what we are called to be; others may choose only one, but both are justifiable. As a preservative, we are to preserve the world from evil in society. As an enhancer, we are to enhance the “flavor” of life in this world. Christians who are following Christ in their actions will influence the world for good.

In Matthew 5:14-16 we are called to be “the light of the world.” This idea shows that we are to “shine” for God in the midst of the darkness (sin) of this world.

These passages shows that God wants there to be a definitive difference between the secular world and the Christian world…not a segregation, but a difference in attitude and lifestyle. Outsiders should be able to look at Christians and think “something is different about them.” We are to glorify God in our actions and preserve what true Christians should act like in the world.

There are many “imposter Christians” out there…people who claim to be Christians and use Christianity as a platform for hate speech (Westboro Baptist Church for example). But what they don’t understand, or what they do understand but ignore, is that God does not hate anyone.

God loves homosexuals. God loves thieves. God loves liars. God loves adulterers. God loves anyone and everyone as long as they are willing to turn to him, give their sins to him, and change their lifestyle to become salt and light to the world.
salt and light

Things Not to Say to a Cancer Patient or Their Family

While keeping with the “cancer” theme this weekend (in honor of my daughter’s big fundraiser yesterday), I wanted to quickly list things to say and things not to say to cancer patients and their families.

First of all, just about everyone knows someone, or knows of someone who has or had cancer. It is becoming increasingly common in our society. Some of the most common forms of cancer and their risks are listed below, in case you’re interested:

THE RISK OF BEING DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER BY AGE 65 (among the most common cancers)
*M=Male *F=Female
Bladder Cancer: M=1 in 40; F= 1 in 107
Brain and Nervous System Cancer: M=1 in 124; F= 1 in 170
Breast Cancer: M=1 in 868 people; F= 1 in 8 people
Bowel Cancer: M = 1 in 14 people; F = 1 in 19
Kidney Cancer: M=1 in 56; F= 1 in 90
Leukemia: M=1 in 66 ; F= 1 in 96
Liver Cancer: M=1 in 117 ; F= 1 in 214
Lung Cancer: M=1 in 14 ; F= 1 in 18
Melanoma: M=1 in 55; F= 1 in 56
Lymphoma: M=1 in 51; F= 1 in 61
Oral Cancer: M=1 in 84; F= 1 in 157
Ovarian Cancer:  F= 1 in 51
Prostate Cancer: M=1 in 8
Stomach Cancer: M=1 in 64; F= 1 in 120
Uterine Cancer:  F= 1 in 43
(found at cancerresearchuk.org and cancer.org)

With these kind of odds, it is almost certain that your life will be touched by someone who suffers from cancer, but what do you say to encourage them? How do you help?

At one of my daughter’s fundraisers, I had someone make a comment that I’m sure he meant innocently enough, but it hit me like a semi-truck. It was a Chick-fil-a Fundraiser shortly after Bella was diagnosed. An older man came up to me and said “My grandson passed away from Leukemia…I sure hope she beats it!” and then walked away. I was kind of stunned. I mean, yes, I know that cancer can take a life, but I had not let my mind go there. I did not want to think about the “what if?”

When Bella was first diagnosed, the “what if” hit me VERY hard. You see, my older sister had 3 beautiful children. Her middle child, Braylon, was diagnosed with A.L.L. (the same Leukemia Bella has) as an infant and passed away just after his second birthday. On one hand, it is so nice to have someone so close to me to talk to, who knows exactly what I’m going through, but on the other hand…it also brings that knowledge closer to home-that my baby may not be able to fight it off.

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After that comment made by the elderly gentleman, I decided to think about the things you should and should not say to cancer patients:

THINGS YOU SHOULD NOT SAY TO A CANCER PATIENT
(or their family)

1. Do not tell them how someone you know passed away from the same condition. They do not need to hear that.

2. Do not ask them “What are their odds?” When Bella was first diagnosed, I was asked this a lot. I understand where it comes from and people genuinely want to know from a place of love, but it is such a hard question to answer and something the patient and/or family may not want to think about. Odds are just a number and do not apply to every patient. Ask about how that specific person is doing that day-not what is expected of people with the same diagnosis.

3. Do not try to push all of your “natural home remedies” on them. I cannot tell you how many people have tried this. I know they are just trying to help, but:

a. If rubbing some kind of oil on my child would heal her,
don’t you think there would be far less cancer in the
world? Seriously-it may help nausea and such, but it
is not going to take her cancer away.

b. Oncologists advise against taking vitamins and other
immune system “boosts” because that is counter-acting
the chemo. The whole point of the chemo is to suppress
her immune system until all of the cancer is completely
gone so it does not spread.

c. Every cancer is different in every patient. That is why
they have protocols in place. Cancer is complicated.
Just because a certain treatment worked for a certain
person does not mean it will work for you. Trust your
doctors. You know, the ones who went to school for at
least 8 years and have much more experience than
“Suzy from yoga class” who wants you to start juicing
and jogging to get rid of cancer.

4. Do not tell someone that their diet, lifestyle, etc. could have caused the cancer. Cancer is a crazy phenomenon. It hits people who are seemingly healthy, it hits the elderly, it hits children, it hits every race, and every social class. Many cancer patients internalize some of the blame already thinking “Was it the weight gain?”, “Was it stress?”, etc. so why add to the burden?

5. Do not say “We should go on vacation” or invite them on trips. (At least at the beginning). I cannot tell you the number of times we have been asked to go out of town. I know people mean well by it,  but it just makes Bella wish she was at the beach. We cannot be that far from the clinic “just in case.” Maybe I’m just paranoid about it, but I’m not taking any chances. My family invited us to Florida this past fourth of July and I told them no. They kept coming back and asking “Are you sure?” which made it that much worse.

6. Do not say, “You look sick” or “You look pale” or my favorite, “Are you feeling okay?” Of course they don’t feel okay…they have cancer. Chances are, they feel like crap, but they are trying to put on a brave face for you.

THINGS YOU SHOULD SAY TO A CANCER PATIENT
1. Did you see the game last night? or Did you see who got voted off on “Dancing with the Stars?” You have to remember their whole life is not about the cancer. They want to be as “normal” as possible.

2. If your friend/family member is not feeling too hot or has low counts and cannot go out, bring the fun to them! Rent a movie, cook them dinner, and dive into a carton of ice cream. Wear a face mask if you have to! Do not let the fun stop because they are sick. The last thing they need to feel is lonely and ostracized.

3. Tell them how great they look! How you love their new shirt. How their hair is growing back so nicely. If you keep telling them how awesome they look, they will begin to feel that way, themselves.

4. Be genuine. Saying “I’m so sorry” is perfectly acceptable. So is “I hate cancer!”, “I love you.”, “I’m here for you if you need anything.”, etc. If what you say is heartfelt, the patient will know it.

Do you have any to add? What do you guys think of my list? Please comment 🙂

Not a Blog Post-Just Personal Information

For those of you who have read my earlier blogs, you know that my 7 year old daughter has Pre-B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  I wanted to share her story and today felt appropriate because she has a big fundraiser today in north Georgia.

Bella is a fun-loving, smart and artistic 7 year old. She loves to paint, draw, color and doodle on everything. She has a sassy style all her own and chooses outfits with animal prints, bold patterns and bright colors. Not surprising considering her fashion choices, Bella loves to be the center of attention at all times and aspires to “be famous.” She has her career plans worked out and told one of her doctors that she’ll be “an illustrator for Disney or Nickelodeon on the weekdays and an oncology nurse on the weekends.”

Bella’s life was completely normal until one day in October 2013. She went to work with her mom as she always did on Tuesdays. After lunch she looked very pale and was doubled over in pain, grabbing at her right side, barely able to walk. Her mother took her to Urgent Care, where they said Bella had a kidney infection and sent her home with an antibiotic.

After a restless night, Bella’s mother Caran took her to the pediatrician’s office who examined Bella and sent her to the hospital for an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed an enlarged spleen, but was otherwise inconclusive, as was a CT scan.

That evening, the pediatrician called. She said, “Go to the ER immediately-I’ll call ahead and tell them you’re on your way.” Caran was terrified, not knowing why they were rushing over and what to expect. After more tests, Bella was diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) the most common cancer found in children.

The pain in Bella’s thigh bones was excruciating because the leukemic cells were crowding out the normal cells, so she received pain meds throughout the night and day. She had a blood transfusion and was implanted with a chest port (which she was relieved to find did not show through her clothes!). Bella also had a bone marrow biopsy, a spinal tap, EKG, ECHO, and abdominal x-ray.

In March 2014, Bella caught the flu. She was in the hospital in a medically-induced coma on an oscillating ventilator. The PICU staff several times tried to prepare Bella’s mother for Bella’s passing by sending in chaplains and social workers. Bella was extremely sick and spent a total of 71 days in the hospital, but she survived! She came out of the experience with “a few battle scars,” spent 6 weeks in outpatient rehab, and her walking and stamina are not what they were before, but her family feels blessed that she made it through and will continue to get stronger.

She is now in the maintenance phase of treatment. Bella stays positive and is quick to teach others, especially her little brother and her classmates, about leukemia in a way that is informative and not scary. She helps others around her understand her struggles without giving a “pity-party” for herself. She has even started a non-profit, Bella’s Crafty Kids (www.bellascraftykids.org) that brings baskets of art supplies to children in the oncology unit of local hospitals. She is amazing!

You can follow Bella’s progress and story on her Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/isabellavsleukemia

You can “like” and “share” her non-profit’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/bellascraftykids
And visit the website: http://www.bellascraftykids.org

Bella was honored  as a hero for the Alex’s Lemonade foundation: http://www.alexslemonade.org/hero/isabella-rice

We appreciate all of your thoughts, prayers, and well-wishes!!!

THANK YOU!

Spreading Christianity through Actions; Not Words

How do we spread the word of Christ without sounding “preachy?”

I know many non-believers who seem to shut down when the topic of God or religion come up. They seem to think, whether it be from past experiences or just their interpretation of Christianity, that “we” are going to condemn them and scare them straight, which is not at all the case.

We live in a world where political correctness runs everything and expressing your beliefs can get you in huge trouble, but the Bible clearly teaches against certain behaviors and lifestyles. Does that mean I cannot hang out with those people? NO.
Does that mean I cannot platonically love that person? NO.
It just means I do not agree with their lifestyle, but I continue to respect them as a person.

Jesus hung out with people who were “unworthy.” He fraternized with sinners; even prostitutes (John 4 & Luke 7:36-50). God is an indiscriminate God. He loves us even if we do not return love to Him. He pursues everyone; even if they run from him.

At the risk of hitting the controversial button for a minute,

Does Christianity teach that Homosexuality is wrong? YES.

Genesis 19:1-11
“That evening the two angels came to the entrance of the city of Sodom. Lot was sitting there, and when he saw them, he stood upp to meet them. Then he welcomed them and bowed with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “come to my home to wash your feet, and be my guests for the night. You may then get up early in the morning and be on your way again.” “Oh no,” they replied. “We’ll just spend the night out here in the city square.” But Lot insisted, so at last they went home with him. Lot prepared a feast for them, complete with fresh bread made without yeast, and they ate. But before they retired for the night, all the men of Sodom, young and old, came from all over the city and surrounded the house. They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!”

So Lot stepped outside to talk to them, shutting the door behind him. “Please, my brothers,” he begged, “don’t do such a wicked thing. Look, I have two virgin daughters. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do with them as you wish. But please, leave these men alone, for they are my guests and are under my protection.”

“Stand back!” they shouted. “This fellow came to town as an outsider, and now he’s acting like our judge! We’ll treat you far worse than those other men!” And they lunged toward Lot to break down the door. But the two angels reached out, pulled Lot into the house, and bolted the door. Then they blinded all the men, young and old, who were at the door of the house, so they gave up trying to get inside.” (NLT)

Leviticus 20:13
“If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense.” (NLT)

Judges 19:16-24
“That evening an old man came home from his work in the fields. He was from the hill country of Ephraim, but he was living in Gibeah, where the people were from the tribe of Benjamin. When he saw the travelers sitting in the town square, he asked them where they were from and where they were going.

We have been in Bethlehem in Judah,” the man replied. “We are on our way to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim, which is my home. I traveled to Bethlehem, and now I’m returning home. But no one has taken us in for the night, even though we have everything we need. We have straw and feed for our donkeys and plenty of bread and wine for ourselves.

You are welcome to stay with me,” the old man said. “I will give you anything you might need. But whatever you do, don’t spend the night in the square.” So he took them home with him and fed the donkeys. After they washed their feet, they ate and drank together. While they were enjoying themselves, a crowd of troublemakers from the town surrounded the house. They began beating at the door and shouting to the old man, “Bring out the man who is staying with you so we can have sex with him.” The old man stepped outside to talk to them. “No, my brothers, don’t do such an evil thing. For this man is a guest in my house, and such a thing would be shameful. Here, take my virgin daughter and this man’s concubine. I will bring them out to you, and you can abuse them and do whatever you like. But don’t do such a shameful thing to this man.” (NLT)

1 Kings 14:24
“And there were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations that the LORD drove out before the people of Israel.”


Does Christianity teach that using curse words is wrong? YES.

Ephesians 4:29
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Ephesians 5:4
“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”

The Bible teaches against a lot of things that have become commonplace in our society today. But how can we bring light to the world when we steer clear of the people who need His word the most?

We need to live by example and show Christ through our actions and not necessarily our words. As Christians, God’s light is in us and if we let it, it can shine. But doesn’t light shine brightest in darkness? Remember that next time you see a woman who is wearing revealing clothing, or a man who is covered in tattoos, or people who are doing things you disagree with in your own life. It may not be the right choice, but it is their choice to make and all we can do is show Christ by our actions. In Matthew 22:39, God calls us to “love your neighbor.” He does not say love you Christian neighbor, or love your neighbor who is free of sin. He says love your neighbor. Show God’s love to those around you today!

The Biblical Importance of Friendship

As a child and a teen, I was very active in our church and had many friends from both church and school. Once I got married at 17, I started to lose many friends. I lost some because we could not find much that was relatable anymore. They were focusing on going to college and going to concerts and clubs and I was focusing on my husband, my daughter, and which breast pump was the most affordable. Some of my friends I lost because of my husband. I made the mistake of divulging our marital problems (his infidelity) to a few of my friends and when I went back to him, they began to distance themselves from me because of him.
Now as an adult, I have a small handful of people I can call when I need something, but do not have many people I would consider “true” friends. You know what I mean: people you can tell everything to without fear of judgment, people who invite you out, message me before I message them, call me just to chat, etc.
I have 1 such friend. Only 1. I have only known this friend for 2 years, but I cherish her so much and feel she is not a friend; she is family.
The fact that I only have one close friend got me thinking…

What does God say about friendship?

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Proverbs 18:24 says “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is no one who sticks closer than a brother.”

Proverbs 13:20 says “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”

Psalm 41:9 says “Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me.”

Proverbs 27:17 (which is probably my favorite of all of the above) says “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

So according to the Bible:

  1. It is important to have friends to help you up and support you when you are having a rough time.
  2. It is important to “be equally yoked” (if you will) with friends just like romantic interests. Because if your friends are wise, you will be wise. If your friends are fools, you will be a fool.
  3. Men do sin and will fall so by giving someone your heart, or putting your faith in them, there is always the possibility that they will turn against you and hurt you.
  4. You can have many friends and still come to ruin. The only friend you really need is Christ.
  5. If your friends are strong in faith, they will make you stronger in faith. Friends who challenge you intellectually, spiritually, etc. will end up strengthening you in those areas.

The Proverbs 27:17 verse is my favorite of the above mentioned verses because it reminds me of the Armor of God.

Ephesians 6:10-18:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

If friends can sharpen your iron, it makes your armor that much stronger to fight against the enemy. I love this!

So questions to ask yourself:

  1. How many friends do you have? How many of them are “True” friends?
  2. Are your friends sharpening your iron?
  3. Do your friends have the same belief system as you? It is okay to have differing opinions, but having friends who believe in God, the way you believe in God, is important.
  4. Are you embarrassed of your friends? Are they fools? Are you embarrassed to associate with them? Remember that the kind of people you hang out with are the kind of people you will become.
  5. What kind of friend are you to others?

I challenge you to be the best friend you can be! You will feel better about yourself and your friends may just be able to classify you as a “true” friend.

Gender Roles in the Bible-How are Women and Men Called to Act?

In today’s society, gender roles have become askew. People strive for equality and try to blur the lines from “traditional” gender roles (i.e. women wearing ties, men wearing pink, etc.).

But what are gender roles?

What are society’s gender roles?

What are God’s gender roles for our life?

According to Princeton University, “A gender role is a theoretical construct in social sciences and humanities that refers to a set of social and behavioral norms that, within a specific culture, are widely considered to be socially acceptable for individuals of a specific sex.”

Every society has different gender roles. In America, none are set in stone, but we have many implied gender ideologies. Men will not be stoned for wearing a pink shirt and women can wear suits and ties without fear of persecution, but that’s not the case in other countries. Some nations take their gender roles very seriously and if someone of the opposite gender is seen trying to blur those lines, they can be imprisoned or even murdered.

Although as times progress, equality is growing and more and more women and men are able to cross over into some of the other gender roles, some of the more archaic stereotypes still exist. Some of the many gender roles in America are as follows:

           MEN                                                                    WOMEN

Leader of the Family                                                  Follower

Strong                                                                        Weak

Bread-Winner                                                            Homemaker

Do yard-work                                                             Cook and Clean

(Again, I know many of these are outdated, but bear with me. They are still “traditional” stereotypes).

In our society, women are taught to put a lot of weight into their appearance. To wear make-up. To wear the right clothes. To pluck/wax/tweeze everything they’ve got. We are also taught that in order to find a husband, we need to know how to cook and clean.

Men, on the other hand are taught to “be manly.” To not cry-even if something hurts. To go camping, fishing, hunting, etc. To watch football and drink beer.

What about the people who are outside of this box? What about men who enjoy cooking? What about women who drive pick-up trucks and enjoy fishing? Are they defying gender roles or are gender roles an invisible line that is meant to be crossed over?

Does the Bible give us any definite gender roles?

The answer is yes.

For women:
1 Timothy 2:12 says “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.”

Colossians 3:18 says “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.”

For Men:
“But if any man does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8

“But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:3

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,” Ephesians 5:25

“Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.” Colossians 3:19

In the eyes of our society, these rules would be as outdated as the stereotypical roles I wrote for America above. Does that mean we should not follow them?

I have heard so many people use the “excuse” that these were in these roles were made before Christ, therefore, they do not have to be honored any more. First of all, all of the charges listed above are from the New Testament-after Christ-every last one of them. So this argument does not apply to this text. Therefore, these rules are to be obeyed.

But as far as other issues raised in the old testament, I will tell you that many Old Testament laws are to be used as guidelines, but do not need to, necessarily, be followed by Christians today.

Read Romans 10:4 “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Read what is said in Galatians 3:23-25 “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus, you are all sons of God, through faith.” In place of the Old Testament law, we are under the law of Christ which is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).

I guess we should not pick and choose what to obey from the Bible, but many of the Old Testament talks about loving God or loving your neighbor and there are several stories and parables that can be applied to your life today.

The Ten Commandments, for example, were essentially a summary of the entire Old Testament law. Nine of the Ten Commandments are clearly repeated in the New Testament (all except the command to observe the Sabbath day). Does that mean we should no longer follow them? Well, obviously, if we are loving God, we will not be worshipping false gods or bowing down before idols. If we are loving our neighbors, we will not be murdering them, lying to them, committing adultery against them, or coveting what belongs to them. The purpose of the Old Testament law is to convict people of our inability to keep the law and point us to our need for Jesus Christ as Savior. Romans 7:7-9 says “What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.”

But I digress-back to the topic at hand:

According to the NEW TESTAMENT, men are to assume authority over women, women are not to speak in a church setting, men are to provide spiritually, physically, and financially for their families and men are to be the head of the woman and is to control her actions.

If you have seen the relatively popular film “My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding,” you will remember the scene where the matriarch of the family says, “The man is the head, but the woman is the neck and she can turn the head any way she wants.” This is the attitude we, as a society, have today.

When first researching this topic, I honestly thought that these guidelines would be written in the Old Testament and I could use the rule of Christ as the law (as listed above) as proof against it, but I cannot. Reading these verses, at first glance, literally made me have a physical response. I am a very opinionated woman and definitely have an issue with authority (especially when that authority figure is wrong-i.e. a lot of my college experience). I cannot begin to fathom having to submit to a man and follow blindly behind him. But then again, the Bible does not say to follow blindly. We should not contradict our husband, but talking it out and coming to a conclusion together where you can stick behind him wholeheartedly not only brings the two of you together, but it presents a united front. And what should a marriage be, if not a united front?

The not having authority over a man and the remaining silent in church is still a little baffling to me…am I allowed to say that? Am I allowed to question? I am not sure why this is what God wants us to do. I do not understand why as a professional, a woman cannot govern over a man. I know a lot of women who have CEO positions and lots of men who work under women and it is usually a struggle (more of a struggle than if a man had the same role for sure), but why does it have to be like that?

If anyone has a logical reason behind why they think this is a rule of God. Please comment! I would love to know your take on the matter.

Is Disney Poisoning the Minds of Our Children?

As children, the majority of us grow up watching Disney movies. Face it-Disney owns the world…even things you probably don’t know about. (Just FYI-Disney owns A&E Network, ABC, the ESPN franchise, Marvel, Hulu, Lifetime Movie Network, History Channel, 11 Television stages throughout the U.S., and much more).

So how often do you think they push their agendas and ideas on our children (or even ourselves)? Would we be aware of it?
Do we know what we are watching and putting into our minds?

Are Disney movies as innocent as many believe them to be?

Let’s look at some of the traditional Disney movies for a moment:

Aladdin:

The story of Aladdin is supposed to show you that anyone can achieve their dreams, social class does not matter, and that good always wins. Other, potentially more subtle themes can show our children that it is okay to lie and that you can steal from people as long as you have a reason. Aladdin was a compulsive liar and a thief. He lied to everyone around him, he broke promises, he stole from shop owners and despite the fact that many feel it noble to “rob from the rich and give to the poor,” stealing is still a sin and is wrong. There is no “right” way to steal.

What about the witchcraft? No one talks about it, but it is very prevalent throughout the film. The very first scene with the talking tiger guarding the entrance to The Cave of Wonders begins with magic. Disney makes the “spells,” if you will, whimsical and funny (like turning Raja the tiger into a little orange cat), but whether the magic is considered “good magic” from the Genie or “evil magic” from Jafar, it is a sin.

There are 63 Bible verses about Witchcraft and Sorcery and all are similar in nature to these two:

“If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.” (Leviticus 20:6)

“A man or a woman who is a medium or a necromancer shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:27)

What about when Jafar wishes to be “the most powerful sorcerer in the world” and transforms himself into a snake. Yes, I know the film takes place in the Arabia where snakes are prevalent and a large part of their culture, but is it just a coincidence that the “evil” man in the film becomes the international symbol for evil? I doubt it.

So is it okay to let our children watch this? Is it okay for our children to see people transforming themselves and others with magic? By seeing people lying and stealing and teaching that those are the ones that win in the end, are we not telling our children that is okay to be “a little” bad? You can still win if you just bend the rules a bit, but do not go overboard…is that the message you want to send?

Another dangerous truth that teaches children is that evil is black and white. Evil will come to you in the form of a snake or a mean man with a screwy parrot on his shoulder (maybe not literally, but you know what I mean). We teach our children that bad people are recognizably evil and that just is not the case-especially in today’s society. Have you ever watched the news and seen someone being arrested for child molestation or murder or another “big” crime and they look like an average-joe? In most cases, the felons do not look any different from you or I. It is a condition of the heart that makes them evil; not their outward appearance. 1 Samuel 16:7 “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

The Bible talks about the beauty of Satan and how he was the most beautiful angel. Ezekiel 28:17 says “Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground “and in 2 Corinthians 11:14, the Bible says “For even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” Satan, or sin, is not going to come to you in its true form. If sin came to you and presented itself to you as sin, you would not partake. There would be no sinners. But because sin can disguise itself as something enjoyable, it makes it harder to say no to it and it can quickly grow and take over your body and soul.

Each story from Disney (and I am just singling out Disney, but there are many other companies doing the same thing) sneaks into our lives with stories of virtue and good character behind it all, but what about the subtle nuances and negative behaviors that our children (who have a brain like a sponge) soak up and emulate?

Beauty and the Beast:
The Moral Disney pushes: Love can transform others. Show love and kindness to everyone. And the age-old “Don’t judge a book by its cover” saying rings true.

Other Subtle Nuances:
-It is okay to stay with an abusive man
-Ever heard of Stockholm Syndrome?
-What about bestiality?
-More witchcraft/sorcery/magic

Cinderella:
             The Moral Disney pushes: If you dream something and believe in it hard enough, your wish will  come true.

Other Subtle Nuances:
               -Magic/Witchcraft with the fairy godmother
-Slavery (by the “evil” stepmother and stepsisters)
-You have to change yourself to be loved by someone.

The Little Mermaid:
             The Moral Disney pushes: Follow your dreams and everything will work out in the end.

Other Subtle Nuances:
In order to be “good enough” for a guy, you have to conform to what he wants and give up parts of yourself
-Do not listen to your parents
-You do not need a voice (literal or opinion) as long as you have a pretty face in life
-The Sea Witch (i.e. magic/witchcraft yet again)
Another issue all of the above movies have in common is that all of these girls, portrayed as young teens, find a man, fall in love, get married, and “live happily ever after” as a teenager. How unrealistic is that?! Who decided that would be a good idea??

The newest Disney princesses, Elsa & Anna, tackle this idea. Anna wants to marry the first guy she’s ever met (for those of you who have not seen the film, the castle gates have been closed and “for the first time in forever” she meets a man and says I am going to marry him-absolutely absurd). Luckily, Elsa calls her out on it and tells her “you cannot marry someone you just met.” Literally “the first time in forever” that Disney has stopped this stereotypical “I need a man” role, and it was incredibly refreshing. Even the new movies like “Frozen” have these issues running throughout them though. Yes, the film has a lovely soundtrack. Yes, it is very entertaining. But it is filled with magic/sorcery. In fact, I think all of Disney’s movies at least have a touch of “magic” to them…at least, all of the films I can think of here.

I know someone is going to bring it up, so I will go ahead and say something about it. I know that many of the movies we consider “Disney movies” came from another source first. Disney remakes old folk tales and then they become beloved Disney classics to a new audience. I understand that. What I do not understand is why Disney can change a character’s name, hair color, circumstances, etc., but cannot leave out the other negative aspects that could be sneaking into your child’s brain and planting a seed.

For example,

In the Hans Christian Anderson Version of “The Little Mermaid”:
The Moral is:
1. A woman should never give up what is most precious about herself.
2. After the prince cheated and married another woman, the mermaid was urged to kill them in her sleep. Instead of giving in to evil, she forgave the prince and wished the other woman  well. That is true love. The mermaid then became an angel.

Why couldn’t Disney leave this story alone…maybe minus the murderous dream?

What do you think?

Is Disney poisoning the minds of our children?

 

“Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover” – An Idea from the Bible

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;” (Luke 6:37)

Sounds simple enough, right?

Christians are REALLY bad about saying things like “I’m not trying to judge, but…” or even judging in our minds. Many people see a man covered in tattoos and their first thought is “grab your purse; lock your doors” or in this day and age, you see a person with a turban, hijab, or burqa and automatically assume they’re a terrorist.

Is this considered judging someone? YES.

Is it wrong? YES.

Is it hard to train your mind not to rush to rash judgments about people? Definitely.

As humans, we are programmed to look at those around us. We take in the world through our eyes. Society, movies, media, etc. have shaped our views and tell us how we should perceive the different things we see. Instead of looking at a man walking toward us, we are trained to see a blonde hair, blue eyed man with a spider web tattoo on his forearm wearing jeans and a grey t-shirt. Do you know why? Several reasons:

  1. We, as a society, are extremely visual. We put a heightened sense of self-worth on people’s appearance. We see someone’s brand of clothes, way they style their hair, purses they carry, etc. as an extension of them and by assessing those things (even subconsciously) we think we can learn so much about that person. You can tell their social class (how much money they have), if they take care of themselves (by their physical size), their “clique” (if they are casual, emo, gothic, mainstream, preppy, etc.) all from what they have around them-as an extension of themselves.

 

Why do you think the cosmetics industry and the clothing indurstries are such a large part of the global market? The skincare industry accounts for 33.8% of the global market (http://www.statista.com/topics/1008/cosmetics-industry/) and the apparel industry accounts for 28% of the global market (http://www.statista.com/topics/965/apparel-market-in-the-us/). In other words, approximately 62% of the global market belongs to these two industries. How crazy is that??? We put way too much weight into appearances, not just here in America, but as an entire human race.

 

  1. We live in a society where dangers are literally at every turn. There are so many evil people in the world who hurt innocent people for no reason. We, especially as women, are taught to constantly look over our shoulder, keep mace in your purse, never go out without friends, stay in after dark, etc. We look people up and down to try to assess their “danger factor.” It is sad that it has come to this, but genuinely, I know lots of women who have admitted to doing this and in today’s world, you can never be too careful.

 

  1. We’re curious. No two people are exactly the same. Our brains are always taking in new faces, new surroundings, new characteristics, etc. We look people up and down to try and learn more about them (although usually do so based on the first two points above).

As children, we are taught the age-old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but do we take it to heart?

Just because someone has tattoos, that does not mean they are rebellious or a thug or a bad person. Many Christians have tattoos-in fact, many are Christian in nature. God says for us to go forth and tell of His word to everyone. Who is a better “missionary” (if you will) to someone covered in tattoos, but a Christian covered in tattoos. I know pastors who have tattoos. Many people get tattoos as teens or young adults and then become saved through Christ. Having tattoos removed is painful and leaves scars. So many people converting to Christ would have tattoos, and they may not be very “pleasant” ones, but does that mean we should look down on them and judge them? No. We do not know their soul. We do not know their relationship with the Almighty.

The Bible verse people most associate with this is 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”

Does God want you to tattoo the whole cast of Family Matters on your back? Probably not.

Is a tattoo going to keep you from entering Heaven if you have accepted Christ as your savior and lead a good, and Godly life? I highly doubt it.

“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

I’m not trying to stay stuck on the topic of tattoos…it is just something I hear and see a lot in the Christian community and it has to stop.

What about single mothers? They’re judged a lot too. People see a young mom on her own with her child and think things about how she should’ve tried harder to keep the baby’s father around. Or even a single dad. What did he do to make his child’s mother leave? It’s our nature to “blame the victim.” We do not know the circumstances of other people’s lives and we shouldn’t pretend to do so. We need to mind our own business and show Christ to these people; not show nasty attitudes and dirty looks.

Another group often singled out, especially here in the South (I live in Georgia), are interracial couples. People, it is no longer the 1960’s. People are free to love who they want to love. I’ve heard people quote 2 Corinthians 6:14 as proof that God does not want people to engage in interracial relationships. That is stretching the Word a little thin, don’t you think?

2 Corinthians 6:14 says:
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? What communion hath light with darkness?”

As long as the person loves God, loves you, and puts his relationship with Christ above all else, it does not matter if he is purple with yellow polka dots. God does not see color. He calls all of us. He created all of us. Quit singling people out for things that we do not feel comfortable with (not things that God has spoken against) and show Christ to all those around you!

What Can One Person Do?

  1. Ask God to show you any prejudices or judgements that might linger in your heart so that you can confess it to Him.
  2. Seek to gain an understanding of the customs of other ethnic groups in your community. Are any of those customs a possible source of racial prejudice? Do you discriminate?
  3. Get to know people. Learn their heart. That will tell you much more than their appearance.