Sunday, December 31, 2017

An Arguement for Lost Souls

Recently a friend shared with me how she had had a discussion with someone who, in both her and my opinion, made just about the dumbest argument ever heard. Grant it, this discussion was on Facebook, where- as we all know- anything goes and there are some real strange people, but still.

I'll give a little context, though I don't quite remember all the details. The conversation was about sharing the gospel. Someone made the example of, if you came across someone who had just been shot and was bleeding out, and you had to choose between giving this dying person who was asking how to be saved the gospel (knowing you might be killed) or catching the murderer to prevent further murders, which would you choose?

Obvious answer for a Christian, should be give the gospel without regard for your own life. If you know that you know you've repented of your sins, that Christ is your Savior and that Heaven will be your home, why would you selfishly hold back sharing this gift of eternal life with someone who has but minutes to live?

Amazingly, the person my friend was arguing with tried to justify leaving the dying man without giving him the gospel! You can imagine how this grieved my friend. Her heart broke, as did mine. This man would deny a dying person the knowledge of how to get to Heaven. This complete contradiction to Scripture, how could you ever believe that a believer would feel this way? Hypothetical situation or not, it showed a selfishness that Christians shouldn't have.

What does Scripture say?

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

Now hear me out. I know that if it were a real life situation, there would be many factors in the decision. But no matter what, saying that catching and killing the murderer was of greater importance than giving someone the gospel as they take their dying breath... I'm sorry, but that's just about the dumbest thing I've ever heard. We're not to regard our lives in such a manner. Yes, use common sense- don't jump in front of a train screaming 'my life means nothing next to the gospel, repent you train conductor!' But you should care more about where another soul spends eternity rather than your physical safety, should you, Christian?

If we as Christians could selfishly say, "No, I'll not share the gospel, my life is worth more than that to me, I'll not risk my life for the eternal lives of others." then why do we allow ourselves to be called by the Name of Him who gave His life for us? Do you think Christ looked at you and thought for one second you weren't worth giving everything for? Do you think He looks at the vilest sinner and says they weren't worth dying for?

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

My friends, Christ died for all. Every person born on this planet, from the most innocent baby to the worst sinner ever born. Doesn't matter the crime, doesn't matter the amount of sin, He offers all the gift of eternal life. In His eyes, we are all in the same muck and mire of sin, all in need of His Blood to wash us and cleanse us from unrighteousness. He doesn't look at any person and say, "You aren't worth my life, I refuse to give my life up for you."

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 

He died knowing that many would reject Him, but still, Christ laid down His life. He was willing to die that anyone who accepts Him as their Savior might live- anyone!

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2

Knowing this, how can we not do the same? How many missionaries to foreign field risk life and limb to give the gospel, yet we would barely stir from out of the front door to tell a neighbor what a great gift Christ would give them if they will accept Him! How can you selfishly regard your life as too great a sacrifice when souls are dying and going to Hell?

Maybe the day will never come where you are in a situation such as the one my friend argued over. Maybe it will. What will you do? Will you run away in cowardice? Will you put up a show of bravado and declare catching a murderer is greater than giving the gospel? Will you lose your view of how precious a lost soul is, for whatever reason?

Or will you be that one who says, like our Lord, no sacrifice is too great when it comes to the gospel?

Friday, December 22, 2017

Faces Everywhere, A Short Story By Me

Merry Christmas, Readers! Since I can't give you a gift in person, I've written another short story- of sorts- for your gift. I hope you enjoy it! 

You know, it was funny. We all have those times when we see a face in a crowd and think, My, they look familiar. We hear a voice and think it sounds like one we know.

 Well, my version was a little different. You see, I’m a writer. That being said, I am… quirky. Not crazy, mind you, just quirky. I don’t have a mental disorder, unless a writer’s imagination counts as one.

 Which brings me to where I am now, the story I’m telling you. (I tend to trail off at times, so catch me if I do). While you may see a face and think déjà vu, I see a face and it speaks to me because it‘s one I‘ve created.

 “Why, hello there, old friend!” The face says.

 It takes me a moment to clear that foggy blur around it, that haze that mashes all it’s features into one fleshy blur. I talk with it as I move about- currently I’m doing laundry.

 “Hello, there. And which character might you be?” I asked silently. I actually don’t care, but I don’t mind either.

 The face begins to take a shape, a young man’s face. His eyes are still blurry to mine, his hair color not yet visible.

 “I’m not surprised you don’t remember me. Probably don’t remember my story either, do you?”
 I have to admit I don’t. From somewhere deep in the back of my brain, he’s come to remind me of a book I once started and never finished. Did I give it a happy ending with no middle or beginning? Did he suffer to have only bits and parts of his story written and not another word since? I shake my head no and sigh.

 “I’ll remind you. Remember that time you started writing about an aspiring young journalist who attends the grand birthday ball of a young heir? No?” He shrugs, features becoming clearer. His hair grows darker, glass appear around those dark eyes. His jaw line is anything but attractive, so narrow and long. His nose… well, I don’t know what I was thinking- probably had spicy nachos the night before writing his story.

 “You based it all off a dream where you were walking around a giant marble pavilion and you could hear the clicking of your shoes against the floor, and the swishing of silk gowns. I came along much later, a fact for which I haven’t quite forgiven you.” He said, with an upturn of his aristocratic nose. “Surely you could have made me a little more… attractive? How will I win her heart with a face like this?”

 My laundry now being in the dryer, I bid him a final farewell along with my apologies for never finishing his story (I don’t remind him that I got stuck and gave up hope of ever doing so, though). I move to the kitchen, where I help Mom fill the dishwasher. A look out the window reveals a form coming from the woods at the back of the property. This time a female, she waves and grins joyfully as she approaches the house.

 I keep filling the dishwasher. She comes in, and sits down at the counter across the room.

 “Long time no hear from ya!” She says, but there’s not the pout or annoyance in her voice. She‘s calm, and almost shy acting, though she speaks as an old friend. “Beginning to think you’d forgotten us.”

 I smile. “No, it’s hard to forget a happily ever after.” I said, sticking a plastic cup between glass ones to prevent them breaking. “How is married life?”

 She sighs happily. “Quite nice, quite nice. You never did let us know what our future was to become. It would have been nice to have known if my husband had found a church to pastor, and if we had any children.”

 She knows I attempted a sequel, but kindly doesn’t bring up that failure. I only nod. “I agree. Just go ahead and imagine your future to be whatever you and your dearest wanted it to be.” I nod towards the window where her beloved has appeared. “By the way, make sure you keep an eye out for him. I remember how tenderhearted he was in the book, and I’d hate to see him taken advantage of by those who would hurt you two.”

 “I promise, nothing will touch our happiness. We’ll stay just how you left us.” She says in parting.
 I probably won’t meet with anyone again today, my mind has found occupation in work. My family- real faces and real voices- take up my time. I’m kept busy.

 But alas, I don’t escape them for long. The next day at the store, a young man passes me thrice in a store. It takes a few times of him staring and a few minutes of my puzzlement before I realize he’s not real, but rather a book character.

 “I know you can’t respond, not even with facial expressions, lest the whole of Walmart think you’re crazy.” He chuckles, looking quite pleased with himself as he follows me through the store. “Just here to remind you, you’ve got a few plot holes in my story you should probably be thinking over.”
 I didn’t need reminding.

 “You know how there’s that bit of gossip you slaved over because, in the words of a friend, your mind has a hard time coming up with something so sinful as gossip? Yeah, well, I’m here to let you know, it doesn’t mesh with the next chapter. Maybe just, you know, go back and change it. Better yet, leave it out all together! My lady fair and I will love you forever if you do.” I know this impetuous fellow, he’s my main character in my book I’m working on currently. “Its as simple as writing my salvation scene, letting me have a few good punches with her ex-fiance and ending happily ever after. Do us this small favor, will you?”

 He knows I won’t, he can tell without facial or verbal answer.

 “You won’t… well, I was afraid of that. I’m afraid I regret to inform you…”

 Uh oh…

 “I’ll be flipping that switch… you know, the one you hate?”

 Not again. I can’t take the writer’s block, not this close to the end of my writing season. I begin pouring over alternative ideas, trying to appease the characters whose story I have apparently ruined.

 “Ah, good, I see you are trying to fix it. Well, I’ll give you a chance before we- that is, us of my story- go silent on ya. Try harder, don’t want to discourage, but it was a weak attempt at making the readers hate the villain… nasty man, he is, they really need little to help reinforce that he‘s no good.”

 And he’s gone. Thankfully, I don't pass him again, though I gather a thousand little ideas from the store of things I want to put in his book.

 I go with my mom and sister to lunch. Wouldn’t you know it, I’m deterred from people watching by another character come from no where. She sits across the fast food place and taps her fingers impatiently on the table. Obviously I’ve forgotten her story.

 A real life customer comes to sit at the table across from her, and she gives him a aggravated look. She scoffs, but doesn’t leave her seat.

 “Well… aren’t you going to say anything?” She asks. “Ten months, TEN MONTHS, and you don’t even open my book to read it over again? I have six paragraphs and half a chapter, part of an ending and even less of a beginning, and you say nothing?”

 I sigh and keep eating fries. She couldn’t have been one of my docile characters. No, she must be the loudest, most outspoken main character I’ve ever written.

 “Look, all I’m asking is that you at least try to finish my book. It’s not fair to leave me with a suitor who is unsuitable, a heart that aches for adventure and not enough book written to make any sense.”
 I give an exasperated smile and dismiss her forcefully, though she puts up a fight by reminding me of such high hopes as I had for her book.

 Back home once more, I walk in through the back door, and past the living room windows on my way to my room. A nice looking car pulls into the yard, though by it’s blurry haze I know it’s a character arriving and not a real person. My heart starts to beat faster, as my characters don't usually arrive in this manner. 

 He approaches the front door, and I begin to imagine (I’m at home and almost alone at the moment, so I’m free to do as many odd facial expressions and carrying on as many imaginary conversations as I choose) that I have opened the door. He’s a new character, I don’t recognize him. Ah, well, what can be the harm?


 He speaks only the one word but his eyes speak great volumes. I return the simple greeting and keep walking to my room.

 He stays at the end of the hallway, not entering. I begin to ponder what story I can fit him into, but he really doesn’t fit any of them. Like the characters before, he starts out as a hazy figure. I can’t make out anything about him, other than a general fuzzy image. Not too tall, not too short. In one light his hair looks dark and glossy, in another it’s golden and light. His eyes seem friendly, or what I can make out of them. His smile… well, honestly, it’s a heart melting, genuine smile. I can see that, even if I can’t see the smile itself clearly.

 “So, I’m guessing you’re here to ask to be written into a new story?” I ask by the raise of my eyebrow and tilt of my chin.

 He laughs in a most pleasant way, friendly but not flirtatiously. “If you want. But you’re going to have a hard time with my story.”

 “Oh, why’s that?”

 “Well, you’ve been writing it for a while, and it’s ever changing.”

 I’ll be honest, he’s got me confused but I love his voice. You know, the voice I just can’t hear exactly? It seems warm and friendly, and just as much of a gentlemanly voice as exists.

 “Really? Care to explain?”

 “Nah, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. It’s better that way.”

 I try my hardest to study him but, oh, the limitations of imagination! I cannot! “Well, you could at least tell me a little about yourself, then. Help me out.” I tell him, picking up my yarn and hook. “It’s hard to know which story you’ve jumped from, or will jump from.”

 “I’m surprised you don’t recognize me. Or at least the idea of me.” He says, and he genuinely seems disappointed. “So often as you think about my story, you should know me better.”

 “I hate vagueness.” I silently reply.

 “Well, ask what you want, I’ll tell you… if I can.”

 “Okay. What’s your name?”


 “Odd name.”

 “You gave it to me.”

 I frown at him. “How old are you?”


 I roll my eyes, barely repressing a smile. I’m starting to get an idea of who he is. “Job? Career? Education?”

 “Well, I’ve been a Navy SEAL, a nurse, a farmer, a doctor, a preacher, a millionaire… Which would you prefer I stick to?”

 “Hard to say, I can’t even see you, let alone tell what suits you.”

 “Ah, rats, I forgot, I have had a few names over the years.” He says, looking like a happy little child as he grins. “You are horrible at picking names. Your book characters all think so.”

 “Hence why I let friends decide the last few.” I chuckle. “What were these names I’ve given you?”

 “Well, earliest I remember, I was Rupert. I think I switched between Gideon and Laurence a few times, back some ten years ago. At one point, you were just sure I should be called Matthew, though honestly, I’m not sure you really cared for that name.”

 “I don’t. Starts with M, too close to my own.”

 “Wasn’t I named Jackson at one point?”

 “Ohh, no I can explain. That time I imagined your last name was Jackson, and I kept calling you that to annoy you.” I shrugged. “Apologies, I hate it when people are called by their last names.”

 Her my musing is interrupted by one of my siblings needing care. She’s sick and since Mom is busy at the moment, I play the role of nurse. After checking on her, getting her comfortable and whatever she needs, I return to my room. My friend is not present right away, but slowly drifts back in.

 “Everything alright? That was an abrupt departure.”

 “Yeah, it will be.”

 “She okay?”

 I shrug. “She will be. Whoever spread this virus deserved to have pickled beets crammed in their pillow cases.”

 He hides a smile.

 “Now, back to you.” I said, not wanting to drift off from the conversation. “You have any hobbies?”

 “Well, you’ve given me a few over the years. Carpentry, ballroom dancing, mountain climbing, music- my least favorite- and I believe once… did you make me a pilot? Crazy!” He laughs. “You hate flying! I can’t fly!”

 “Yeah, I know. I thought it would be nice for a change. But at least it wasn’t anything embarrassing, like clog dancing or face painting or crocheting…”

 “You’ve wanted me to love yarn, admit it.” He gives me an all knowing look with those invisible eyes.

 I can’t deny it. “Technically, I just wanted you to know enough about it to help me pick it out and for you to excuse my habits of buying and rarely using everything I buy.”

 “Speaking of which, that house you’ve given me… no more expansions of the workshops and craft rooms, right?”

 “No, no, it’s mostly the style that keeps changing now.” I assure him. “Craftsman style is alright with you?”

 “Eh, if it must be. You really preferred the Second Empire style, though. And the quaint little Sears catalog houses, you’ve given those up?”

 “Can’t build them for $500 anymore, so you’ll not have that.”

 “Good. They were so small.”

 “Back to you, stop making me trail off.”

 “I’m not doing anything other than what you influence.” He reminds me. “I know our time is growing short… you’re thinking of the dryer going off, the dinner preparations, and… yes, the sewing you want to do. How about I come back?”

 I really hate to push him away, but knowing his story isn’t quite ready, I reluctantly agree. He fades out as I walk past him to the laundry room.

 Sadly, I don’t hear from him for a few days. Other characters take precedence- ones in the book I’m writing- and boy, have they ever got loud voices. The story starts melting together as I try to keep order in this brain of mine. At last, as the weekend approaches, I turn off my computer and leave them to gather new ideas for the next few days. I hear a familiar voice chuckling from nearby.

 “So, you’ve finally managed to make a few of them happy?”

 “For the time being. I was expecting you to show up again.”

 He smiles, and yet again I do so wish I could clear this blur off his face. I can see his clothes, his shoes, but his face… ugh, not happening. “Really?”

 “Well, I have been waiting on you for a while. It’s hard to forget such a important character in such a important book as yours.” I remind him with a smile. It’s as if we are old friends and I am perfectly at ease chatting with him, admitting to any fault I have, and sharing thoughts that other fictional characters might laugh at.

 “True, true. Ten years now.”

 “Ten years. You have changed so much, and yet you haven’t. How can I forget you as often as I do?”

 “Simple.” He says, and I know it is. “You’re not ready to write this story yet. I may lurk nearby, may occasionally pass through your mind and we may even share a few days where we chat and you give me new characteristics. You’ll give me more names, many faces may be temporarily placed where mine should be. You’ll compare me to dozens, but not find my equal. But in the end I‘m a character you can‘t describe, it’s a story you can’t write yet, because I- the coauthor- am not present to do my part.”

 “Ah, yes. This is true.” I sigh and wish it weren’t. “You know, I’m quite happy without you at the moment, though.”

 “I know. I'm proud of your contentment without knowing how the story ends. You’d definitely win the most patient author award if there was one.” He laughs. “And, if we're honest, as many times as your tastes change, I think it’s good you are happy without me at the moment.”

 I smiled, my heart not grieved at the words. “For the time being, I have to be content to have imaginary conversations with you, my favorite character, and think about how our story will be written.”

 He smiled, starting to fade away as my daily life claims my mind once more. “Don’t worry, I’ll pop back in the next time you’re writing. After all, I’m every bit as much a part of your heroes as you are a part of the heroines.” He assures me. “After all, you take no greater joy in your writing than imagining how your own love story will play out, how the main character- that’s me, just in case you forgot- will sweep your off your feet. So I'll be coming back again shortly.”

 I nod, expecting him to fulfill the promise he’s made. I know he will, because I’m the one who created this as-of-yet fictional character in my life story, and until the time comes when his true author is finally revealed, I'll keep refashioning his character over and over.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wednesday Chatting

Hello Readers! 

It's been a while since I did one of these chatty posts, so I thought it was time to remedy that. I had a few serious topics I wanted to cover, but seeing as I'm in a hurry to write this, and I don't have the time to sit down and plot it out how I usually do, I'm going to just kind of cover them briefly as a friend to friend chat rather than a full blog post. 

So, what has been going on? Well, a few things. Obviously, Christmas is coming. My gifts are wrapped, decorations up. There's a tree in every room but the bathrooms and laundry room (I should have done a laundry room tree with clothespins and socks!). I'm working on a ton of little projects to pass the time now, and hoping I got some crafty gifts under the tree to keep me busy when the New Year lull starts.

My shop and orders from it have kept me busy up until last Wednesday, but now things have slowed to a stop, which is not a bad thing. I was so busy for a couple weeks there, I felt like my head was spinning. Don't get me wrong, I definitely need to business, but sometimes I think it would be rather nice to have at least a couple days between orders to catch my breath!

Some parts of my life have ended. No, I'm not complaining or whining, because honestly, I was under a lot of stress and needed to set these things aside for a while to get my nerves straightened out. For one, I stepped down from teaching my Sunday school class for a season. It nearly broke my heart but I know that after teaching consistently for almost five years straight, I needed the break and some time to be taught rather than teach. Is this the end of my teaching? Of course not!

I also stepped down from a lot of 'responsibilities' on social media. As of now, I moderate on one modesty group, tend to my shop's social media and this blog, and that's it. I can't begin to tell you what a relief it was to remove myself from all the drama of the things I stepped down from! I know this may sound silly to some, but it was driving me crazy. 

Did I mention previously I bought a new sewing machine? Well, I did. It was past time to replace that old worn out machine I had. Now my new computerized machine helps me sew just about anything under the sun, and I'm preparing to sew myself some dresses for my birthday (hopefully) that I've been eyeing on Pinterest for a while. They're rather retro, sort of 50s-60s style dresses which I LOVE and want so badly to try my hand at. I've got a lot of sewing projects lined up in my mind, but we will see if I ever get around to them. After all, fabric isn't free and finding the right colors and style materials for what I want... almost impossible.

Did I also mention I really want wears hats and gloves to make a comeback for ladies? Hmm.

I've given up. Not hope, not my dreams and goals. I mean I've given up being discontent, discouraged, desperate, and despondent when things don't go my way. I'm still not married- big deal. I'm still not a published author- maybe one day. I'm still not a millionaire... well, I can dream still, can't I? In short, I've learned how much easier it is to simply trust God with the future and live today. If He wants something to happen in my life, I'll work to follow His will. But I'm not longer running headfirst towards goals that I know He needs to be the one to fulfill. Who knows? Maybe I'll marry a millionaire who will help me publish my books!

Speaking of authors... one of my best friends in the whole world is published again and again. SHE IS AWESOME! Go look up the books written by Annie Louise Twitchell!

Also speaking of books, I've started rewriting one of mine that I wrote last year. Okay, I say wrote as if I finished it. I hadn't yet, hence the rewrite. See, I have this bad habit of starting the beginning and the ends, and trying to match them up. Problem is, the winter months are my writing time and somehow during the spring, summer and fall, I lose track of what I was saying and then the book just kind of... well, you know, goes dormant. So this time, I'm trying my hardest to write 'in order' and finish the whole thing. Thankfully, having the first draft means I have something to work with when I get stuck, and with fresh ideas and some new names for old characters, it's going rather well. Oliver and Faith should be engaged by February!

Thankfully, life has been pretty quiet around here lately. No stalkers, no gossips, no unpleasant surprises. Other than a hearty, nasty virus striking fear into the noses of my family for a couple weeks, we've been healthy and well, too. God's blessings definitely have been upon us. 

I've been trying to find new crafts and hobbies I haven't tried yet. The search is slow. Other than wood burning, pottery, and maybe lace making, I've tried just about everything. My watercolors aren't the best, my beads are misshapen, and my knitting looks like my toddler sister did it, but I can stay I've tried them. Obviously, I crochet, sew, write, do a little calligraphy, some card making, paper crafts, jewelry making, painting, gardening, embroidery, a little bit of music, photography, flower arranging... I would like to try working with resin and maybe some jewelry making that involves stamping and soldering metal, but knowing my tendency to injure myself... my family most likely won't go along with that.

I held a vote on social media for this blog to decide on a new post, and DIY tutorial won (I only had three votes, haha) so that is on the way. I'm still trying to decide what would be the best tutorial. Food? Crocheting? Sewing? I mean, I'm not an expert in anything, but there are some things that I'm more skilled in that I think y'all would like better than others. 

Have I ever told the tale of when I wanted to try my hand at amateur movie making? I wrote scripts, designed costumes, filmed it all on a digital camera that had no sound, and edited them on my circa 2008 computer. My siblings have expressly forbidden me from letting those DVDs be seen outside this household, but they exist. Maybe it's time to try that again, a commercial for my unpublished books, perhaps? 

Well, I think it's time I end this long, somewhat rambling post and go finish looking for a vintage sweater pattern for myself. 

In case I don't get back before then, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Time to Meet... More Friends!

Hello, Everyone! So this is an unofficial blog post to introduce a few new friends you've yet to meet. They're super important in my life, very important additions to my small circle of friends, and beyond anything, really amazing people, and I wanted to give them a shout out!

First up, my adopted twin, Lindsey. Okay, so technically, we're not identical, but she's my twin because... well, just because. Too many inside jokes, too much to explain. She's the only other girl in a chat I'm in, and we, well, we sort of keep each other in line, although we mostly egg each other to get in trouble. Did I mention we have the best nicknames for each other? No, I'm not telling you what they are, but we do. Lindsey, I just have to say.... Francisco. You know what I mean

Another young lady who is super, super, super important in my life is my adopted sister, Shay. She's my official big sis, my most encouraging adopted sibling, and the sweetest lady I know. She shares my skirts-only conviction, and has been more of an encouragement in that than she realizes. She sends Bible verses almost everyday and more often than not, the verse was exactly what I needed to get through the day. I praise God for this big sister of mine. Shay, I love you, sis!

Now for two girls who have gone through a lot with me over the past month or so. Caiti and Sierra, they are the best. Besides being awesome just for who they are, they are the most amazing support group anyone could have. Bad day or good day, they're there! You two are definitely my adopted sisters, and I can't wait to see what lies ahead for the both of you with your guys!

Next up, an amazing girl from my own state, Georgia. She's super encouraging, and definitely understands the joys of being from a big family. She's also a fellow small business owner (Hint hint, if you're on Facebook, look up her shop!) and she's an amazing seamstress. We don't get to talk often but I love our conversations! Abigail, you're the best!

Megan is also a sweet friend of mine! We 'met' earlier this year through a Facebook group, and have recently become good friends. She's so talented at everything music, and has an amazing sense of style. Talking to her is always great, and though we don't get to often, I enjoy every chance we get to chat!

Another Georgia girl, Amber, is a dear friend from the days when I was more active on Ravelry. She's a YouTuber and crafter, and so sweet! I was privileged to do a live video on YouTube with her once, and loved it! Amber, stay as sweet as the sweet tea in Georgia!

Next up, a super sweet girl I've 'met' through Facebook, Hayle. She's a fellow crafter and I love how she's always there to offer prayer and happy birthdays to people. Hayle, you're an encouragement to me!

And now, a few guys. They're adopted brothers of mine, and they're often a reason why I laugh until my sides hurt. Mark, Daniel and Ethan... y'all are great! Thanks for all the weird late night group calls with Lindsey and me, where we can make jokes and play games and wake up my family with my uncontrollable laughter.

I know we're past Thanksgiving, but I just have to say how thankful I am for all my friends, even if I have yet to do a blog post introducing them. Some are from churches, some are from Instagram, some are from Ravelry, and some are from Facebook. But wherever I 'met' them, they are important parts of my life and I'm so thankful for them.

So, to...
Priscilla, Annie, Taz, Lindsey, Shay, Mrs. Connie, Ethan, Daniel, Mark, Amber, Caiti, Sierra, Danielle, Laura, Hayle, David, DeAnna, Grace, Carlie, Joel, Jonathan, Katarina, Joshua, Klarisa, Lydia, Megan , Patrick, Phillip, Zach, Sarah, Bethany, all my church friends and family, to all those who I'm friends with across social media (too many to name!)...

You mean so much to me! Thank you for being a part of my life.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Modesty: More Than Clothing Alone

Modesty, that wonderful topic which Christian books, blogs and circles could argue and discuss till the cows come home. We have so many definitions of it, too. This person thinks modesty means wearing only skirts, but that person thinks it means no skin showing that shouldn't be seen. One says modesty is no make up or jewelry, another says modesty isn't even important (The old 'doesn't matter what you are wearing, that's legalistic' approach)

While all these points- except the legalistic one- do hold some degree of value in this discussion, one that's more important is often left out. 

Modesty isn't just our appearance.

Yes, our appearance is the first thing the world sees and judges. Yes, we are to strive to be decent and well covered. Yes, we should be concerned with not gaining the wrong kind of attention and avoid letting those around us focus on our hair, makeup, jewelry, clothing, accessories.

But what about your attitude? What about your actions? 

My dear friend, just because you are dressed in a floor length skirt with an undershirt to avoid showing anything 'up top' doesn't mean that you are being modest. If you're throwing your body around and flaunting what's covered, then by your actions you might as well be in a skimpy bikini or a pair of skin tight, shorty shorts or ripped up, painted on jeans and a crop top. 

We all have seen the girl or woman who has nothing showing that shouldn't be showing, but acts like she's in a bathing suit model contest by the way she walks. This simply shouldn't be. If a woman is throwing her joints out of whack to 'show off' and strutting around with an immodest attitude, do you honestly believe the world looks at her and sees Christ?

But it goes deeper than that, as that's mostly appearance- though it is a sign of what is in her heart.

What about your words? 

Picture this: A lady in a church parking lot, dressed in a completely modest outfit (Let's say, maxi skirt, high neckline top, and denim jacket). Her hair is in a smooth, simple bun, her make-up is at a minimum. Her jewelry is toned down, only a small pair of earrings and bracelet. She even walks and carries herself in a modest, humble manner. She's the perfect illustration of modesty you've been looking for when teaching the girls in your church about how a woman of God should dress.

And then she opens her mouth.

Every other word is either a straight out cuss or swear word, or a derivative of one. She throws slang words with questionable meaning around without care. She is sarcastic to the fullest extent of the word. If she's not making inappropriate jokes, the bathroom humor is rolling off her tongue faster than those donuts in Sunday school were eaten by the teen boys. She even sees no harm in using the Name of God is vain, as an exclamation to be tossed around whenever she feels like it!

Do her appearance and her words mesh? Do you listen to her and hear someone who is striving to live for Christ? Would a lost world look at her and listen to her and see a difference between this woman and themselves? 

No. They wouldn't. Don't even pretend they would, you know better.

A truly modest woman would think twice before allowing her words to ruin the testimony she's trying to preserve. She would know that modesty isn't just appearance, it's also her words and actions. She would know that any value her testimony held would be destroyed if she carried herself with an air of immodesty and allowed her words to be stained with worldliness. 

Can this be said of you? Sister in Christ, are you honestly and truly trying to be an example of complete modesty? 

The Bible is pretty plain on this subject, you know. Not just the appearance of a modest woman, but her words and actions. 

 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Colossians 3:17

 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Ephesians 4:29

But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Colossians 3:8

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1-2

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. James 1:26

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

 What? 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? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 1 Peter 3:10-11

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. Ephesians 5:3-4

I could keep going, but won't. After all, the entire Word of God teaches us exactly how Christians are to live. You can read for yourself exactly how a truly modest woman would act and speak.

What does a woman with a heart of modesty look like?

Besides her clothing, hair and make-up, she carries herself with a truly humble, meek attitude. No flaunting or strutting needed, she knows that the One she must give account to one day sees her, and wouldn't want to explain to Him why she tried to be a stumbling block to anyone on this earth.

She speaks words that could never mar her testimony, no matter when or where they are spoken. You won't hear a word that even is borderline questionable. You'll never hear the Lord's Name taken in vain or used carelessly. No inappropriate phrases or derivatives of nasty words cross her lips.

She acts only to please the Lord, and never to imitate the world. Her entire life is an example of what a life lived separate from the world should be. Everything she does is done where she can't be brought to reproach, because she holds fast to the verse about abstaining from the appearance of evil.

Sometimes we just need a reminder that modesty isn't just what we wear, but something that starts in our heart as we strive to live for the Lord fully:

Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 1 Peter 3:3-4

Other times, we need to take a long look at our lives and see where we have been failing to live a life that is completely modest. If we find we have failed to live a life that's pleasing to the Lord and are following after the flesh, after the way of the world, and after the old man we once were, praise God, He forgives! As our heavenly Father, God loves us and wants us to come to Him with our faults and failings. He forgives us and then takes us by the hand and helps us to live in the way that would be pleasing to Him, and best bring Him glory through our testimony for Christ.

So, what will it be? Modesty in appearances only, or in word or deed as well? Are you truly going to live a modest life, and be an example of what a woman of God's testimony is when she is not only modest in appearance but in heart?

I'll end with one last verse. Take it to heart, I beg you, and consider whether or not your life is truly modest, or if you're only modest in a hashtag on your social media.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2

Saturday, November 25, 2017

When it is time for the Next Chapter

Life doesn't stay the same.

We all know this. Sometimes life changes for the better- new friends, new job, new opportunities, new blessings- and sometimes, life changes for the worse- we lose friends, we have to change jobs, we end chapters of our life.

There are so many quotes about life being like a book. It's true, and the Bible even talks about our lives being read by the world as if we were a book. Sadly, like a book, we have chapters in our lives and you can never reach the happily ever after at the end of the book if you can't turn the pages, can't move on from a certain chapter.

There will be great, wonderful, and happy chapters in our lives. Times when the sun is shining and everything is going perfectly. These are the times we look back on and smile. We try to stretch this chapter out for as long as we can make it last.

But, like any book, the chapter ends. The next may be a difficult chapter, one filled with grief when we lose a loved one, or you get that dreaded call to your boss's office to be told they're letting you go. Perhaps it sees the end of a friendship, or squabbles among your church family.

These aren't the easy chapters, but they are the times in our lives where we grow- and growing is necessary. Certain houseplants can't stay in the same container you bought them in, right? They outgrow the pot they started out in, and it's only by transplanting them to bigger pots that we get to continue to enjoy their blooms. We can outgrow situations or opportunities, too, and God must move us from one place to another. Thankfully, God never causes us to change anything without there being a reason. He knows where we are, what we need, and what each chapter of our life needs to teach us.

That's a wonderful thing, if you think about it. God uses chapters of our lives to teach us. Sometimes it's to show us we made a mistake, we chose to follow our own path and do what we thought was best without really seeking God. Other times, it's to prepare us for the next chapter we haven't reached yet. Either way, our loving Father doesn't let things happen to us to hurt us, but to help shape and mold us into what He wants us to be, because He loves us!

When a chapter in our life ends, we need to be willing to let go of that last past and stop rereading that last paragraph, so that God can move and work in the next chapter of our life. How can you expect to keep growing and serving God if you stay on the same page, reading the same line over and over? Dwelling on the past rarely helps the future.

You lost a friendship? Don't dwell on it. Think about the friends you still have, and about the new friendships you've yet to make! Yes, it hurts, but thankfully the Bible is still true and there is a friend who is closer than a brother.

You lost a chance at true love? Don't stay on that page, reliving the painful memories. Move on. If you want to stay depressed and upset over that chapter, don't expect someone else to want you in their life- be prepared to be alone and miserable.

What is it? What chapter are you stuck on? What's keeping you there?
Memories? Just keep in mind, you can't change the past or relive it, so dwelling on memories will do little good. Instead of trying to recreate the past by holding onto memories, move on and see what God has planned for that next unknown chapter in your life.

Believe me, I do understand how hard it is to turn the page. To walk away from something that is hurting you or holding you back. It's difficult to put to rest a part of your life that had major influence on you. But sometimes, it must be done.

And, guess what? It doesn't always stay difficult. Sometimes the greatest blessing comes from simply letting go and moving on.

You'll make new friends. You'll find a new job. You'll have another chance at finding the one. You'll have new opportunities.

Your life didn't freeze, pause, or end when that chapter ended.

I'm going through a lot of this myself, friend. My current chapter of my life is ending, as new ones are beginning. Thankfully, the One who is writing my life story also is the One who helps me bear the fears and questions of what will happen next. My Father knows where I am, what I'm going through and what my concerns are.

He knows the same about you.

But are you letting Him do the writing? Are you actually trusting Him with your life? Do you really mean it when you say you are waiting on Him and letting God have control over what goes on in each chapter of your life, or are you just saying that while you stubbornly try to cling to the pen and make your story what you want it to be?

It's hard to let God do the writing when you are holding your hands over the pages, telling Him you know better than He does what needs to be in the next chapter. Telling God what His will for your life should be isn't trusting Him or trying to follow His direction in your life. Just because you've made up your mind that something is what you think is God's Will, doesn't mean it actually is.

Be willing to let God have full control. Understand that your Heavenly Father knows what is best and doesn't want all the chapters in your life to be difficult ones. Yes, there will be some as He helps us grow, but they won't all be that way.

Let the page turn. Let the chapter end. And look forward to what God has planned for the next chapter.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Respect for God, Others and Yourself

Something everyone in the world strives to gain is respect. We want to be respected by friends, by those close to us. We want those we lead to respect us. We want to be treated with respect for any number of reasons, be it position, title, age... I'm not talking about holding someone in prestige or on a pedestal. I'm talking about just giving them consideration and caring about them and their feelings, just to clarify.

But how often do we lack respect for those who deserve it, while desiring they give us respect?

We want our managers and bosses to respect us, but we don't give them respect.
We want our friends to respect us, but don't give them the same courtesy.
We want our family to respect us, but can't do the same for them.
Worst of all, we never respect God.

Oh, we may say we respect God, that we honor and hold Him in reverence. But do we really? Do our lives show any genuine respect for God, for what He has done for us and blessed us with? With our mouths we do service to Him, but I'm afraid our lives are sadly lacking.

When it comes to respecting God, we need to remember that it's hard to respect Him when we aren't grateful for all He has done for us. While we praise Him for blessings when we're in good times, we should remember that His goodness doesn't end when the good times do. We also shouldn't consider Him to be a genie that is only there to grant our desires, and be pushed into a corner when we don't need Him. The truth is, we need him 24/7. There's not a second of your life when you don't need God, and if you believe there is, you've been deceived into believing a lie.

Showing God the respect He deserves also include living a holy and separated lifestyle. Don't expect others to believe you truly love, honor and respect God when you see nothing wrong with tossing His Name around as an exclamation or swear word. Don't expect anyone to believe you when you treat your walk with God as something only to be thought of on Sundays, and forgotten as you live the other six days of the week doing whatever you please. Would you believe you? Do you think God believes you? I doubt it. Again, mouth service that has no genuineness in the heart!

It's no surprise then that we can't show respect to others or they don't show us respect, when we can't even show the smallest amount of respect for the most important One in our lives!

When it comes to your boss, perhaps that difficult manager at work- it's difficult to be respectful towards someone who makes doing your job hard, I know. But did that change how God intends us to act towards those that are in authority above us?

Ephesians 6:5-8:
5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

God didn't say 'be obedient to those who are good to you, and give those who aren't a hard time.' He didn't say it was okay to be disrespectful to employers we dislike. As Christians, we should strive to be respectful despite it being difficult. Why? Because there is a lost world watching us to see what we will do. If we act like them- if we scoff, mock, scorn, turn up our noses, lash out at and throw childish tantrums towards those who are above us- do you really think that helps your testimony? Does it further the gospel in any way?

But why? Why does it matter? Why should we even try? Verse 7 explains exactly why. We are to work hard and be obedient and respectful, not for the employer's sake, but for Christ. We are to do service 'as to the Lord, and not to men'.

Now, on to the next tier: our friends. Is it even important to respect your friends?

Well, do you want friends? Then, yeah, it is.

We want our friends to respect us, right? To be courteous of our feelings and emotions, of what we do for them and how we want to be treated. Don't you think they want the same? Don't they deserve the same from us that we expect from them?

Would you consider a person who gossips and talks about you behind your back to be respecting you? Would you think a person who mocks you and makes jokes about you without feeling guilt or remorse is respecting you? Would you believe a person who is constantly talking down to you, judging you, criticizing you, saying hurtful things about you, treats you badly or ignores you unless you are convenient to them- would you believe they respect you as a friend? Would you?

Then how can you say you are a friend to someone while treating them with such disrespect?

Our friends deserve at least enough respect that we should care how we make them feel. If your actions are hurting another person, be honest. Admit it. And then stop. Don't keep on doing whatever it is that is causing them grief or pain. If you truly are their friend, you wouldn't have done it to start with.

There's a phrase I heard recently that I really, really like. Okay actually a few... but this one stood out. When it comes to gossip about/from friends, I would hope that you would have enough respect to make them never have reason to consider this to be about you:

"I'm not worried about what the gossips said about me; I'm worried about why they were comfortable telling it to you."

Maybe that's not worded exactly as I saw it, but it's close enough. If you don't disrespect your friends, then you wouldn't tolerate others disrespecting them either.

A respectful friend stands up and defends their friends. They treat them with the same kindness, love and concern they want shown to them. They would put their friends above their own needs and desires, making sure to take all care, regardless of cost, to not offend or hurt them.

Proverbs 18:24
A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

Proverbs 17:17
A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

All these things go for our families, too. Our parents, siblings, grandparents, spouses, children, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, in-laws... Whether they be blood related or not, we should learn to show love and respect at home, which makes it so much easier to show it outside our homes. You should value the love and respect of family enough to ensure it is mutual, and do all you must preserve that precious bond!

Lastly, what about yourself? I'm not encouraging or promoting a self centered lifestyle, by any means. But it is okay to respect yourself enough to not allow yourself to be disrespected.

It's okay to say, 'No, I'm not going to allow this person to hurt me, ridicule me, mock me, or disrespect me.' Don't let someone treat you badly- stand up for yourself. You don't have to return what they are doing to you, but you don't have to take it, either. Find a respectful way to get out or cut them from your life, from whatever or whoever it is. Don't stay and take it, you are worth more than that. Have enough self respect to know when it's okay to say no more, without getting an ego or letting pride take over.

Be humble, kind and respectful but know you don't have to be disrespected either. 

But let me remind you, don't mistake worshiping or making someone a idol for respect. Don't respect one person above another, as the Bible warns us about. Be kind and thoughtful, considerate and honest towards everyone because everyone deserves that courtesy.
And above anyone and everyone,
Respect God first and foremost in everything.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Proud of You

Dear Sister in Christ,

To the one who is trying her best to live for Christ in a way that brings honor and glory to Him, who is doing things the right way,
I'm proud of you.

I know you feel like your type is rare, the type that is striving to remain pure, to shun all sinful choices and actions, and lead a life that is totally and completely Christ honoring. The truth is, there are so few girls like you. And that's why I'm proud of you.

I'm proud of the stand you take. Of the choices you make, the decisions you decide on every day- to remain holy and abstain from sin. I'm proud of the fact that you don't apologize or lower your standards to fit in. I'm proud of the fact that you remain strong in a world where even your peers try to drag your standards down and criticize them, make you feel holier than thou for having taken a stand and stayed with it. I'm proud of the fact that you have chosen and never veered away from choosing to glorify God with your life, rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season and then bear their mark for the rest of your life.

I'm so proud of you.
There are so few girls who will make this stand and stick with it. So few who choose to do things the right way.
Oh, I understand that some people have a past, perhaps from before they were saved or while they were backslidden. I understand that, and I applaud those who strive to live pure lives after that.

But I'm so proud of you, who has not had that past to deal with or outrun. You, my dear friend, are special. You deserve the honor and praise and recognition that you so rarely are given.
In all the years of my life, I've found less and less who will value the girls who don't have a past, who will give them the credit due for living a holy and pure lifestyle. We're not better than anyone else, but I know how important it is for us to have just as much encouragement as- if not more than- those who have a past and are trying to move on. We do deserve to be honored for striving to please God with holy lives. There are so many who praise those who strive to live pure lives after they have been in sin, we need more who praise those who never entered into sin to begin with. And so I say again,
I'm proud of you.

Thank you, my sister in Christ, for living a godly life. Thank you for being an example to younger girls that you can have a good, happy and enjoyable life without entering into sin. Thank you for standing strong for your sisters, friends, cousins, nieces... for those who look to the older girls and watch for examples of how a Christian girl should live. Thank you for showing it's possible to lead a life that doesn't bear the shadow of a sinful past.

I'm proud of you.
I know you might not receive much encouragement. Maybe even none. But believe me, my dear, the life you are leading is one that glorifies and honors God. I know He is so pleased that you are making the right choices. You are what He commands us to be!
Don't give up. Don't give in. Keep living in such a way that the next generation of Christian girls will look at your life and know they can live a pure, Christ-like, God honoring life of their own, without straying into sin which will leave a shadow following them the rest of their life. Stay in God's Word, stay strong and true to Him and the commands He has given us.

I'm so proud of you.
Your Sister in Christ,
Sincerely, Melissa

Wednesday, October 25, 2017



You there! Reading this! Can you do a favor for me?

Smile. Don't question me, just do it.

Ahh, there we go. I thought for a moment there you might've forgotten how to smile.

I know, I know... life might be really tough for you right now. Probably have a lot of stress on your shoulders. There a lot going on and you feel just kind of like it's too much. But, believe it or not...

You're doing great. I mean, look at everything you are going through. Look at the amazing amount of strength you're holding onto and using to survive each day. Look at the way you're turning those troubles over to God and how He's taking care of each one.

You're pretty amazing!

What's that? You don't feel amazing, you say? Hmm. Well, I'm never wrong, so I would have to disagree. 

Who else is you? I mean down to your quirky habits and your taste in food. Who else can make their loved ones smile just by being alive? Who else can make their Heavenly Father happy just by being one of His creations? 

No, now, I won't listen to this 'there are better people out there in the world than me' garbage. And you can stop with the 'I'm useless, I'm worthless, I'm nobody' trash too. I won't tolerate that.

God doesn't make trash, garbage or worthless people.

Yes, I know you are human and have flaws. Guess what, we all do. Doesn't make you any less perfect for the life God has planned for you.

You have a past? Well, guess what, you also have a future. 

You feel like you mess everything up? Impossible. You can't. Sorry. God's still in control and He hasn't handed the reins over to you to ruin everything.

You think you're cared about by no one? Wrong. I care about you, even if I don't know who you are that's reading this. God cares about you. Your family cares about you. Your friends care about you. Your church cares about you. Trust me, a lot of people care.

Smile again. I saw that frown start, the tears well up. Smile.

Ahh, much better. I love it when you smile! Smiling is just the best, isn't it? I know it's hard to smile through tears sometimes but it's really hard to smile and not have even the tiniest ounce of joy. You might not even realize it's there, but it is. 

Hey, you want to know something? I want you to have a good day. Like, right this second, start having a good day. Decide to be happy and not let the devil take your joy away today. Keep smiling and keep your chin up and don't let anyone steal your fries or donut!

Wait, what? Um, sorry, wrong advice (but you smiled again, didn't you?)

Hey! I'm not done yet! 

So, if you get to feeling down again today, here's what I want you to do.

Remember God loves you.

Remember He is in control.

Remember He hasn't made anyone who is useless or worthless or a complete failure.

Remember that there's always a reason to smile- you're alive, aren't you?? That's a reason to smile.

Remember that if you've read this, I'm praying for you. Yeah, for you! I don't even know who you are but I've prayed for you already! 

And keep wearing that smile- it looks amazing on you!

Sincerely, Melissa

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Don't ignore a blessing just because it isn't what You asked for...

Christmas is coming!

Okay, it's months away, but it's coming. In my home, that means I have a boatload of things to do. My tree theme, my gifts to make, my cards to get in order... There's a lot. And, if I'm honest, the days of making a wish list aren't over. Not that I make a list and give it out to people with the demand that they give me what I ask for, but I see things and think 'oh that would be nice to get'. Wish lists aren't bad, after all. Wedding showers and baby showers definitely are helped out by having them. Birthday or Christmas wish lists are great.

We have wish lists in life, too, if we think about it. We have a dream or goal, or something we want in life that we keep stored in that mental wish list. The problem is, oft times we are so set on this wish list that we ignore anything that's not on it. We set our hearts on getting exactly what we expect from off this list and don't pay attention when God is sending something different.

For example...

A person might have their heart set on a particular job. Whether or not they are qualified or able to get that job, they hold out for it, passes opportunity after opportunity. They ignore God-sent employment opportunities in hopes of getting that perfect job they've dreamed of, never getting the career they always wanted. Or maybe they do finally get it, but it isn't at all what they expected or dreamed it would be. They've wasted their life trying to achieve a dream that wasn't right for them, despite their wish list being checked off.

Perhaps it's a person waiting on their future spouse. They've got a list, a image, made up in their head. Maybe its hair or eye color, maybe it's height or fitness, maybe shoe size (silly example, I know) but they choose to ignore everyone who doesn't fit that list. They want blonde hair and green eyes, and ignore anyone who comes along with brown hair and blue eyes. They want a 5'10" slim, trim and strong, so they ignore someone who is 5'6" and average. They want someone who is quiet, so they ignore the charismatic personalities that come along. Or maybe it's a specific person. They wait their whole life waiting on one person, and ignore all other possibilities. Before you know it, the person waiting has lost the potential for a lifetime of happiness waiting for the other person, who has found happiness.

 I'm not saying you can't have dreams about what you would like to do for employment or for your future spouse, but I am saying be careful passing up blessings God may send because they aren't exactly what you decided they needed to be. Just because you may see what is on your wish list as they only things that will make you happy does not mean they are what God intends for you.

Part of abiding in God's Will is making sure we are willing to give up what isn't His Will for us, even if that means putting aside our dreams. God won't give you something that isn't better for you in one way or another, so you can be sure if He asks you to lay aside your ideals for His Will, it's for your good.

He wants you to be happy, yes. But God wants you to be happy in Him. In what He gives. How much longer happiness will last if it's found in God's Will rather than our own desires!

Will God give you that 1950s hot rod you've dreamed of owning? Maybe not, maybe He will send a good, reliable work truck instead, knowing it's substantially more useful in life.
Will God send your dream husband, ladies, who is 6'5" and has dreamy gray eyes and wears a suit and tie 24/7? Maybe not, but He will send you a man who will love you and share a lifetime with you, if you're willing to seek His Will for your life.
Will God give you that perfect job with three weeks paid vacation and a cushy corner office where you can work as you please, get paid ridiculously, and have an assistant always at hand? Maybe not, but He might give you a good job that requires hard work and sweat, blood and tears, that teaches you to appreciate home at the end of a day of hard work.

Sometimes we can be miserable if we get exactly what we want. But we're always happy when we're in God's Will, whether it's what we were expecting or not. When we're willing to give up what we want for what He wants for our lives, we find true happiness.

So, I guess in other words, be careful what you ask for. Just because you want something, doesn't mean you need it, you will get it, or it's God's Will for your life. What you ask for might be the opposite of a blessing God wants to send you, and you could ignore it for something that will hinder you rather than help you.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

You can't Always Walk the Fence

Walking that fine line between two things is a difficult task. You will either lean one way or the other, eventually. We just discussed this in my Sunday school class. It's impossible to walk left and right and have both feet moving in the same direction. It's impossible to go forward and backward at the same time. You can't walk in two directions at once.

You can't have the best of both worlds.
You can't have your cake and eat it too.
You can't serve God and the world.

I'm sure if it came down to it, we all know someone like this. Someone who tries to appear to be the holy, spiritual Christian on Sunday and lives like the devil through the other six days in the week. It's a dangerous game to play for those truly born again Christians. You're walking along a fence between serving God and serving Satan. That façade you put up for other Christians on Sunday will eventually be overshadowed by the true you that has control during the week.

What are some of the signs of a once-a-week Christian? I might not know them all, but here are a few I've picked up on.

At church, they say 'all the right things', spout spiritual words and quote Bible knowledge... You probably won't hear anyone who seems to know their Bible better. They've always got the right words and answer. Sometimes it sounds a little like a well rehearsed speech, and occasionally they use the same cliché sayings one too many times, but they sound pretty sound...
But during the week, there's nothing holy coming out of their mouth. Dirty jokes. Bitterness and hatefulness. Cussing, swearing, curse words, using the Lord's Name in vain. This person quoting Bible verses about Jesus' Name on Sunday is using that precious Name in vain on Monday, following up a filthy joke they've just told. They think nothing of using cussing or swearing. See nothing wrong with any of it.
James 3:10-12 (KJV)
10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?
12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

At church, they say they don't listen to worldly or secular music or watch trash filled shows, and admonish other Christians to not fill their mind with music about ungodly, sinful things... They constantly warn young Christians or the youth about the dangers of secular music, time and time again telling them to watch out when it comes to what music they listen to....
During the week, you'll hear nothing but trash coming from every outlet they can find. Every radio, TV channel, iPod and electronic device they own blares nasty music and shows about nasty things. They see nothing wrong with- nay, they even delight in- songs and entertainment that talk about things which should make any Christian blush and turn off. The worse the song or show- the more ungodliness, cussing, and filth- the more they like it, sing it, talk about it... the more they delight in it. 
Romans 12:2 (KJV)
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

At church (or around people from church), they have standards and convictions over immorality and sin... You won't hear them laughing at a dirty joke. They dress modestly and how you would expect a Christian to look. You won't see them engaging in sinful activities. There's not a thing in their lives you could picture them having little to no standards in. They're the epitome of the way a Christian should live- or so it seems...
The rest of the time, they have no problem being a part of wickedness. That person who claims to have such high standards is living like the world. You couldn't tell they were a Christian by their actions- and neither can the world. 
2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

In short, they act spiritual but live carnally.
They don't obey the Spirit- they live for the flesh. They put on a good show in church and around other Christians, but when they let that façade fall... the true them is shown- the side of them that has no discernable difference from the world. Their words, actions, appearance, their whole self denies Christ in everything they do. 

I can't stress how important, not for our own sakes but for the testimony of Christ, that we do not be this kind of Christian. 

Romans 8:5-9 (KJV)
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

When we get saved, we're no longer slaves of the flesh. We're a new creature in Christ. We no longer serve self, the world or Satan. If we are truly born again, can we with a clear conscience serve the world? Can we see nothing wrong with living like the lost? Do we find no fault in doing the things that bring glory to Satan rather than Christ? These verses say the carnal mind is enmity against God. What born again believer can then live carnally without caring? 

Romans 6:1-2 (KJV)
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Can we really see no problem reveling in the sins that caused Christ to die on the cross? Can we really see no harm in the deeds of the world that cost my Savior His life? Do we really lower the consequences of the sin that had such a serious cost by living in them daily after we are born again?

Romans 13:12-14 (KJV)
12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

We should strive to never allow occasion for our flesh to have control. We should strive to prevent ourselves from having opportunities for pleasing the flesh. Whatever measures must be taken, we must take them. If you know a certain activity or outlet provides you a greater temptation to serve the flesh, then cut it off! If certain 'friends' provide you with ungodly counsel and companionship, cut them out of your life! If anything, ANYTHING, gives your flesh opportunity to come between you and God, CUT IT OFF! Make not provision for the flesh! Cast off the works of darkness! Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, put on the armour of light!

Romans 6:11-13 (KJV)
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

As Christians, we're not supposed to live to please the flesh. Those songs, those shows, those words, those activities- they should cause a instant repulsive feelings in our hearts. Our flesh will tell us to do it, and make all kinds of excuses why we can. The Holy Spirit will tell us we are no longer to live to please the flesh. 

Romans 14:12 (KJV)
12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

This should cause every born again person to reconsider how they live their life. We will give an account to God for how we lived our lives since we were born again. I don't know about you, but I'd rather not have to stand before God and give account for why I walked the fence after salvation, why I flirted with sin, why I lived a holy and separated life only one day of the week.

Matthew 6:24 (KJV)
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Eventually, you will end up choosing between one of the two. It's either going to be God, or the world. You can't continue to walk the fence- eventually it's going to reach the point where you must walk one direction or the other. So, what will it be? Who are you going to serve?

.... as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Expectations and Standards

How many times have you heard someone has really high standards? How often was that said in a praising tone? Was it said in a way that lead you to believe that person was not really holding to standards but rather expectations that were unfounded and useless?

As believers, we have to have standards (or else anything would go and Christians would be no different than the world), but we can't have standards that are unrealistic. We have to hold ourselves to standards that are Biblical. God's Word is our standard.

The problem is, too often, believers begin to let their standards slip- or at least, the standards that matter. We begin to let little things creep into our lives and let our standards fall to make allowance for them. All too often, once we let our standards begin to slip in one area, they begin to fall completely in all the others. Things that we shouldn't waver in- doctrine, faithfulness, whatever it may be- we begin to compromise in, and gradually conform to the world. After all, if you take one brick from the foundation of a house, it's easier and easier to take another until the house has no foundation to stand on, because the bricks rely on each other to hold that house up.

Before we know it, our standards are completely gone, and we're out of God's Will because we aren't living in accordance to His Word.

If only we were as quick to correct our own lack of standards as we are to judge those who aren't holding to them. If only we genuinely tried holding ourselves to the expectations we hold others to.
Isn't it funny how when we begin to slip, one of the first things we do is justify our actions to those around us? 'Well, they're doing it, so it's no big deal if I do.' We repeat that phrase until we believe that we're doing no harm because others are doing it as well. Since when are those around us our ruler for measuring up to?
But when someone else slips in the same way, we immediately begin pointing out their flaw. We are all too willing to judge them, but yet we won't judge ourselves. The problem is, we are trying to measure others against ourselves and ourselves against others. As believers, we aren't the notch on the ruler to which we must meet. God is.

Having standards is important, as I said. We have to have them. But we can't have unrealistic expectations. We can't demand one thing of a friend that we wouldn't even hold ourselves to. And we can't hold ourselves or anyone else to any expectation that isn't found straight from the Word of God.

It's not wrong to have Biblical standards and expectations. But we need to remember that the only One who has the right to expect anything of anyone is God, not us.

Yes, you have to have standards. It's especially important to have standards when courting/dating. Making sure you're not unequally yoked, holding firm that the two of you should agree on doctrine and in beliefs- don't back down on those. They are important. But don't go looking for someone who is perfect because you have a list of requirements they must meet that you yourself couldn't even come close to.
Making sure they are saved? Utmost Importance.
Making sure they believe the correct doctrine? Very Important.
Making sure you agree on future decisions that would come in a relationship? Absolutely Important.
Them looking a certain way or possessing a specific trait or characteristic or skill which causes you to turn away anyone who doesn't meet that? Unrealistic.
Saying, 'My future husband must be saved, KJV only, Independent Baptist, and we must agree on doctrine.' is not unrealistic.
Saying 'My future husband must be exactly 5'11" with chestnut brown hair and green eyes, and he must have gone through at least six years of college, and love dogs and only eat vegetarian foods, and he must promise that I'll have unlimited access to the bank account, and he must smile just a certain way, and he better not ever tell me what to do, and he can never wear ties that are green, and he can't have any debt but he should have at least $4,500 in the bank at all times, and if his favorite book is anything but Tom Sawyer, then we have a problem.' Yeah, that would be pretty unrealistic.
Having Bible based standards and expectations isn't wrong. Having expectations that would be impossible to match is.

Along the same lines, we can't hold others, our friends, family or coworkers, to our expectations because we would be measuring them to ourselves. We are all still human. We all have our faults and flaws, and we all sin. Thank the Lord, He is merciful and forgives us. He gives us second chances. He hold us to His standard because He is the only one who we should be trying to please. He forgives us time and time again, even when we fail to meet His expectations.

So if you're going to hold anyone to any expectation, use God's Word as your ruler, and remember that He's holding you up to that same standard as well. Before you judge someone else for not reaching the mark, consider whether or not you are reaching it, because odds are you are failing to do so as well.