A Make Believe Story…. or is it?

A woman in her late forties, named… Marie, stood at her kitchen sink washing dishes.  She looks up and out the kitchen window and sees her husband, Charles, working hard in their backyard.  Out of the corner of her eye she sees her mom walking to where her husband is working.  Marie realizes that while she was not mean or unkind to her mother, she wasn’t exactly cheerful or welcoming when her mom came to talk to her.  When her mom felt unwanted she went in search of the one person in her life that will almost always make time to talk with her.

You see, Marie’s husband is a wonderful caring man.  Charles loves the Lord, his family, his church and the lost.  Part of his family includes his mother-in-law who lives with them.  How did she come to live with his family?  Years ago, like 14 years ago, it was his idea to have his family live with his wife’s mother and father-in-law for a year to help them out financially; while his wife thought he was nuts she went along with his plan.  After the year was up his family eagerly moved into their own place but it was short lived.  His father-in-law passed away four months later.

His mother-in-law can be difficult to love and yet this God fearing man does just that… He loves her.  Not perfectly but always with sincerity.  Marie has so much to learn from her husband.  Charles is being Jesus to someone who doesn’t really want to hear about Jesus.  He is being light to someone who had a very dark childhood, suffered terrible abuse at the hands of people who should have loved and protected her and feels abandoned by those she once called her closest friends.

Marie wonders why it is so difficult for her to be the light to her own mother.  She feels ashamed as she watches her husband make consistent efforts to love her mom and invest in her daily life.  She has known for some time that she needs to make more of an effort and without God helping her she’ll never be able to do it on her own.  Marie knows that the Scripture says to honor your mother and father but it really goes beyond honor doesn’t it?  She can honor her without investing in her.  She can honor her without being light to her.   She can honor her without giving much thought to where her mom will spend eternity.  But Marie, as a Christian, should be concerned about her mother’s eternity.

That goes back to relationship.  Investing in her.  Seeing her as valuable.  Seeing her as a child of God.

 

My Love/Hate Relationship with October

I love the colors of October with the brilliant oranges and deep reds mixed in with some left over green from summer.  I love the slightly cooler temperatures and especially like it here in Arkansas during the fall.  I enjoy seeing all the fall decorations including scarecrows, hay bales and pumpkins.

Image result for arkansas fall colors public use

Image result for arkansas fall colors public use

What is it that I don’t like about October?  My least favorite holiday occurs at the end of October.  Friends, I dread Halloween… every single year.  I’ve never been a big fan and I think I dislike it more each year.  I’ve gone back and forth between celebrating it and not but the years we have celebrated Halloween nothing scary was allowed.  One year we had a little fall party for our family and we did crafts, played snacks and ate lots of yummy food.  Most years we haven’t handed out candy and our kids haven’t been trick or treating except at the local trunk or treat for several years.

My kids keep asking what we are doing this year and I just can’t decide where I stand on this issue!  I decided to search the Scriptures for some guidance and I made notes of questions I want to ask my family about this holiday.  I would highly encourage you to get a little booklet from Answers in Genesis called A Biblical and Historical Look at Halloween. You might be surprised that by the end they don’t have a staunch “NO” to Halloween.  Anyway, here are my thoughts…

1 Corinthians 10:23 All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable.  All things are lawful, but not all things edify.
Is what and how you are celebrating helpful; does it build you and your family up?

1 Corinthians 10:24-30  Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbors.  Eat anything that is sold in the market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; For the Earth is the Lord’s and all it contains.  If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake.  But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience?  If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks?
Who is watching what your family does?  Are you serving your neighbor and drawing him closer to Christ by the activities in which you participate?

1 Corinthians 15:54-55 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?”
Our Savior died to put death to death.  Does the activity you are considering glorify death?

1 Peter 5:8-9 “Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith…”
Could the enemy be subtly present in the activity your family might be apart of?

1 Corinthians 10:31  Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Can I bring glory to God while I’m joining in on this activity?

Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Does this activity make light of sin, evil or darkness?  Does it celebrate or honor sin?  Even if only a little?

Ephesians 5:11-12 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.
Does this activity cause spiritual unfruitfulness?  Would your family be participating in a work of darkness or something shameful?

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
Does this activity allow you to ‘dwell’ on whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, etc?  Or does it cause you to ‘dwell’ on darkness?

Additional questions to ask yourself and/or your family:

  • Is Halloween a celebration of the devil?
  • If we participate will it be teaching our kids that the devil is fun?
  • If you participate in a fall festival or trunk or treat is this celebrating Halloween?
  • Can carving pumpkins be fun – yes!  Although I read that they were originally supposed to be scary faces and put near front doors to ward off evil spirits.
  • Do your teens understand who the devil is and what it looks like when their generation celebrates him?  2 Corinthians 11:4 says ‘he masquerades as an angel of light.’
  • Do your kids know how to fight the devil (fight temptation to do wrong)?

Friends, I still don’t have an answer!  But I know that every year at this time I just dread the ‘what are we doing for Halloween’ question.  If it was simply cute little kids dressed up as frogs and lady bugs that would be great but the darkness I see in the costumes and decorations just make me sick to my stomach… literally.  Why are people drawn to such darkness?  I just don’t understand how anyone can enjoy cut off heads hanging on their porches and demon babies adorning their front yard.  I just don’t want anything to do with any of it!

Yes I’ve read those comments that are ‘supportive’ of Halloween….

  • it’s just costumes/decorations and it’s not real
  • just let them be kids
  • if we don’t pass out candy we are not very nice Christians as we should open our doors and shine the light
  • our costumes should be scary to scare off the evil spirits
  • your kids are deprived if they don’t participate

… and many other similar comments.

PERSONALLY, I STILL DON’T LIKE HALLOWEEN.  I have hesitations about it which makes just ‘enjoying’ it difficult.

Perhaps this year we will find a trunk or treat to do and just leave it at that….

Gaylene

 

 

Links I Love

Hello – I know it’s been awhile….

This is just a short post to share 2 links with you.

The first is a blog post by Michelle Lesley.  While it’s a little long it is well worth the 5 minutes it took to read it.  Unfortunately, our society is filled with shallow Christians that truly take away from the gospel.  I know this is an area that I need to improve on… I’m so concerned of what they will think of me or of making them angry but truly, it is God that I anger when I shy away from confronting (of course in love) sin.  Take a moment and read this post!

Secondly, this podcast by Kevin Swanson is spot on!  I pray for my children’s spouses regularly.  I pray that they love God and honor marriage the way God intended.  God didn’t put marriage in place to force us into a bunch of boring rules.  After being married for 18 years now (and looking forward to 100 more years) I can honestly say that marriage is the most rewarding experience.  Yes, there are challenges but Phil and I honor God and each other and make our family a priority, truly we are blessed!  Listen to the podcast… it’s only about 20 minutes long.

Stay tuned for pictures from the Civil War Ball that Natasha and Mikayla attended a couple of weeks ago!

Gaylene

Friday Finds

I know, I know… I need to finish telling you about my trip… soon!  But today is just a short post to share a few of my favorite finds during this week.

This post by Michelle Lesley is spot on!  While her blog is geared towards women this post is necessary for all Christians to read.  Let’s be weird together… read the post and you’ll understand!

This podcast by Kevin Swanson was fascinating. This podcast was not what I expected it to be… you should take a listen!  I know, for those of you that think Kevin is a little… um… out there, I find his podcasts a breath of fresh air.  Someone bold enough to speak the truth. The world has enough wish washy Christians… we need more believers to stand up for Gods Word!

I was at a birthday party not too long ago and they served a white chocolate raspberry bundt cake that was truly awe inspiring!  Phil found this copy cat recipe. I haven’t tried it yet but perhaps this weekend. Then I’ll have to figure out how to make one gluten free for him!  Enjoy!

That’s it for this week. I’ll try to finish sharing about my trip over the weekend.

Gaylene

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Worship

While looking for good historical fiction my kids can read I came across an article about worship written by Douglas Bond. It caught my attention because we will be starting the process of finding a new church home after Easter Sunday and worship is very important to us. I prefer to sing hymns but can worship with other songs. However, we do not want to land at a church that just sings KLove songs. While some music KLove plays is safe (stay away from anything sung by Hillsong and Jesus Culture to name a few) I don’t believe their place is in a church worship service… for the most part.

Anyway, take a look at this article. It’s long but I agree with the authors take on worship. It’s worth taking the 5 minutes to read to the end.

He is risen!

Gaylene

Finding Joy When We Are Others Focused

I listened to a podcast today by Leslie Ludy.  I really like Leslie’s podcasts because they aren’t too long (most last between 15 – 20 minutes) and Leslie truly seeks to encourage women to live a set apart life as it says in the bible.  Psalm 4:3 But know that the LORD has set apart the godly man for Himself; the LORD hears when I call to Him.

This week her podcast focused on finding joy when you are focused on others.  It’s easy to focus on ourselves or our circumstances and be discouraged and even hopeless.  But Leslie gives a few examples of women in history who chose to serve others despite their sometimes tragic circumstances.  That’s the kind of legacy I want to leave!

Take a listen!  Leslie Ludy Set Apart Podcast

Gaylene

New Year New Focus

Yes, I realize it’s January 19th so this post is a couple of weeks late but hey, at least it’s still the first month of the year!

God has put on my heart 2 different issues I need to work on. In a word or two… JOY and SIN. The world would say that there’s no such thing as sin and that joy is the same as happiness. Can I challenge you to look at joy and sin in a biblical context?

So, the bad news… Sin is real and believe it or not you are a sinner! Sin entered the world when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Before, there was no death or pain or sin but Eve listened to the serpent and decided it looked too delicious to pass it up. Genesis 3:6-7 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.

From that point on sin was in the world. Genesis 4:7 If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and it’s desire is for you, but you must master it. I think we can all agree that sin is real… right? If it wasn’t why would Jesus have to die such a terrible death to save us?

For me, I believe without a doubt that sin is real and I commit it just about everyday. What I want to focus on this year is living a righteous life. No, not perfect… only Jesus lived a perfect life. I want to take my sin seriously. I don’t want to just confess and repent (or appear to repent) just because I know God is watching… that isn’t true repentance and it reeks of the attitude of… well God forgives so I screwed up and I’ll do better next time. NO! I want to truly be sorry for my sin and actually take steps and make an effort not to do that I again. There are too many people in the world who call themselves Christian yet don’t take their sin seriously. Join me in coming to the foot of the cross, confessing our sin, turning away from it and living a righteous life. Not perfect… but with sincere effort… not just words. Remember, God knows our heart and our thoughts.

Now onto joy. I believe there is a difference between joy and happiness. Webster’s dictionary defines joy as 1) the emotion evoked by well- being, 2) a state of happiness or felicity, 3) a source or cause of delight. Webster’s also lists well-being and felicity in its definition of happiness. For me, I believe that joy truly comes from the Lord and if we are seeking Him continuously He will give us joy whether or not our circumstances would declare joy.

I love what God says in Nehemiah 8:10 Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” I love that the JOY of the LORD in my strength!

Psalms 5:11 But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them, ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, That those who love Your name may exult in You.

There are so many verses is just the Psalms that talk about joy. I want that joy no matter how good or bad my day is going. And even more important is that I want my family to see my joy no matter the circumstances. Fortunately, our children have a father that is much better then I at showing joy no matter the situation. He inspires me to seek our God and rest in God’s joy no matter what. I’m reminded of Paul in prison. When he and Silas were in prison they were praying and singing hymns of praise to God. To me that is a steadfast joy that can only come from God.

So, my spiritual goals for 2018… take my sin seriously and make sincere efforts to turn away from sin and live a holy life. I believe living this kind of life is a journey that takes your whole life to perfect. This is what sanctification is all about. Our lives are to be continuously pointing towards and living up to His standards. And to find joy in all my circumstances.

Will you join me?

Psalms 51:12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.