Luke 8:54

"And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid arise." Luke 8:54

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Silly Scribbles/Starless

Spiritual Lessons

Silly Scribbles
 # 4
Or Life as Toni 

Just recently I started a little series of writings that I titled “Silly Scribbles” or “Life as Toni”.  I began posting them on a private writing club that I joined.  I received such positive feedback I decided to be be brave and share with my Maid Arise readers.  
So often the writer in me throbs and insists, but my current work in progress is strictly grammatical at this point and my creative juices feel cramped and unjustly squelched. So I have decided to allow these juices passage and wait to see what comes of it. I decided to share my experiences with you. Sometimes my life can be quite humorous to the point of disbelief which I have come to accept as normal.... or sometimes I learn new things about myself or little lessons God teaches through the inevitable we've fondly labeled “life”. I hope that these shared stories and bearings of the soul are somehow a blessing, or in the least, a few minutes of entertainment.


Image result for stars

Coping is exhausting. It's a verge of breaking, but clinging desperately to a weak hopeless nothingness. It's survival with constant pain. Depression is a wound that haunts and hurts, but no one else sees it's blood. A sticky despair. I'm so tired and I look up into the darkness, trying to pray. It's clear and cold; not a star in the sky. That's how life feels right now....starless. Everyone is in the house. I can hear muffled laughter from inside, and it seems to mock me. I lean against the clothesline,'s wooden stake, staring up into that bleak stretch. No one answers me. I could never doubt His existence. Just as I could never doubt my mothers existence. I know Him too well. But the question that stares back at me is – Does He care? No one cares to know how I feel, because they too hurt. Or they are doing so well they forget that others mourn while they rejoice.

So, this is depression. I have read of it, witnessed it, talked about it....but now I meet it. It's not so much of a sinking feeling but as if I've sunk. It's dark. It's odd knowing I'm's like holding it, trying to scrutinize it, turning it over in my hand. It's ugly. It hurts to hold it. But I don't know how to let it go. I feel so guilty for being dramatic and feel condemned thinking if others knew how I felt. But could I even convey what I felt to others? I'd just cry and they would wonder. They would feel uncomfortable. They would see me as just an emotional female. Or they would blame my “sickness”. I feel dangerous. I would never contemplate suicide...but death seems so welcome, so liberating. I want it.

Alone is a sad word. It's not that others don't carry heavy burdens or know what depression is like. But I have no-one who cares. That is lonely. Crying brings no relief. No washing. After I sob I'm left a little numb, but it's a gaping empty negative numbness. He says that weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. If that's so, my life is one drawn out nightmare.

This has been my last couple weeks. Painful, sleepless, depressing days. It doesn't matter why. There are many variables. Some are physical. My health has been sorely stretched. Some of it is circumstances. Hurtful words. Wounds by friends. Shifting of stable pillars. Some of it is emotional. Stress, defense, a pulling back, disappointment and grief.

I finally faced it all. In it's abhorrence and pain and disturbance, I looked at it and realized it was not something to be ashamed of. I clung to something sturdier than a hope....I reached out for a promise. A promise that He would incline unto me and hear my cry. That he would bring me up out of the horrible pit and out of the miry clay and set my feet on a rock. That He would put a new song in my mouth and praise. (Psalm 40).

While reaching out for the promise I didn't try to escape the hurt. It had found me, whether I liked it or not and I wasn't going to try to cope anymore. I wasn't going to press it down. I was going to pray no matter how many stars shone. And it happened.

I finished work and stepped out onto the sidewalk and headed “home” (my friends house). It was 5:30 in the evening but it was still light out and people milled about the streets. Each of them complex individuals, only unified in humanity, but the rest an unknown mystery. A casual quiet mystery. Sunset, car lights....twilight's enchanting hues. Spring's fresh air. A man whistles as he walks up his drive, happy to be off work and home. It's a relaxed stirring of humanity. And I don't feel like a detached spectator. I'm part of it all and it excites me. Somehow depression has lost the stare contest. The only loneliness that tugs at the edge of my heart is not being able to share that moment with someone closer who would be able to see what I see and revel in it and take quiet notice with me. But I do have Someone. I smile. That same Someone makes life worth living. Makes sleep possible. Night is nothing to dread no matter how many stars show. And the morning will come – a day the Lord has made and planned in detail. Depression let me go. Or did I let go of it? I accepted it. I faced it. I decided. As I drew near the house, with the sun setting behind it, I knew there would be a morning. And when it comes I will look up at the sky and say, “Who has conquered my grief? Who has conquered my heartache? Who has conquered my pain?” And I will sing – “Jesus.”

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Quote of the Day

"What Thou shalt to-day provide,
  Let me as a child receive,
  What to-morrow may betide,
  Calmly to Thy wisdom leave.
  'Tis enough that Thou wilt care;
  Why should I the burden bear?"

(By J. Newton- Daily Strength for Daily Needs p. 28)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Keys to our Siblings Hearts

Spiritual Lessons/Practical Homemaking

The Keys to our Siblings Hearts 

How thankful I am for my little siblings.  As the oldest I have many fond memories of all of my brothers and sisters through the years.  I don't remember life without Chris.  And I remember the raptures of holding bald chubby Tim when he was just a baby.  And FaithAnne's birth.  

After the oldest set came Jeremy, Beth and Abbie.  The Chubs.  When Jeremy, our little premature babe started (finally!) putting on some wait, we fondly called him the "chub".  Fourteen months after Jeremy (or "Bud" as we sometimes call him) came Elizabeth.  She became the "chubette" which we later shortened to "chub" also.  And then a couple more years later came Abigail Grace who now makes the trio the "Chubs".   

With a 15+ year gap between the chubs and I, I've felt more like a little mother hen than a sibling to them.  I wasn't just playing with them but helping feed, bathe and teach them also.  Sometimes "playing" no longer sounds very appealing, but just the other day I succumbed to the pleadings and romped with them.  They were thrilled.  The were re-enacting a book (the entire novel, mind you) and I had to recite my lines.  We had a great time.  Once, while riding the Gryphon (my bed) we were screaming so loudly that mom called up the stairway -- "Chubs!  That's too loud!"  We laughed until we cried because I had been yelling just as loud as the Bud, Beth and Abbie.  Having a 23 year old getting in trouble for yelling is pretty funny.  Not to mention watching a "grown up" sword fence and killing goblins.  

Why do I ever hesitate to give my siblings such a little portion of my day?  It means one hour sacrificed to me.  But to them it means the world.  What a trade!  I love my chubs.   It's amazing how distant you can become with people you live with in the same home.  And sometimes I don't even realize it until I make the effort to spend quality time with them.  Then the gap stares me in the face.  After riding gryphons and stabbing goblins the chubs came to me and talked for quite a while about serious subjects and thoughts only a seven and eight year old can have.  Their precious hearts were held out, wide and open.  Why?  Because I had taken the key to their hearts when they offered it.   How simple.  The only difficulty is recognizing their offering.  It normally looks impish and sounds like "Toni, you want to play with us?"  How many oppertunities of reaching a child's heart are missed, simply because we adults can't take the time.  We forget the way to their heart.
I've heard so many regrets from older siblings or adults.  The child they wish to reach is closed off and distant.  They no longer seek quality time.  They aren't offering up the key because it's been rejected too often.  Even young teens hold the same key as the younger children. They just are shy about offering it up.  The key of quality time.  It's a love language most children yearn and need and understand.  But we can't give one hour.   The other night I played "castle set" with Abbie.  For only 20 minutes and she loved it!  It made her evening and she came to my bed that evening and kissed me and said in her sweet three-year-old way, "Thank you for playing with me Toni."   

I'm so blessed to be given this time in my life at home.  I have so many passions and hobbies and work and such....but I also am given the gift of sisterhood and before I am given the gift of wifehood I have the ability to take up these offered keys. It's a privilege.  So here I come -- where's my sword?  I'm about to take on some goblins!   

Sunday, February 22, 2015

God Ordained Authority (Part I)

Spiritual Lessons

God Ordained Authority
Part I

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good.” (Romans 13:1-4)

Authority is ordained of God. As natural flesh controlled humans, we rebel against it. We would rather not answer to anyone for what we choose to do or not do. We want our own way and we resist the idea that we must be under a higher powder or authority. We are rebellious by nature. However, these “natural tendencies” aren’t exactly practical and most certainly not Biblical. As a citizen, we answer to the law. As an employee, you answer to an employer. As Christians, we answer to God. And as in churches, we answer to pastoral authority. A wife submits herself to her own husband. Children are commanded to obey their parents in the Lord, for this is right. And maybe reading that seems completely obvious to some, but I believe that it is actually very important to understand. Without God-given authority, chaos reigns. There would be confusion on every side. Like in the time of the Judges. Every man did what was right in his own eyes. But it was evil in the Lord's sight. The Lord has built up certain chains of authority for good reason.

And while not all authority is practiced Biblically, authority is still a principle of God’s Word and is a righteous command. 

All of the examples I just gave you, are good examples of authority and while I’m sure we might all benefit from discussing them, the chain of authority I would more specifically like to address is to daughters. Being her father’s child, a daughter is subject to her father’s authority. Also, this is the area I could probably relate to the best, being myself a daughter in my father’s house. The Lord has given me many opportunities to practice this principle, little to my enjoyment of the lessons at the time. J And it is my desire to hopefully encourage you, reader, and more specifically fellow “daughters”, in what the Lord has taught and continues to teach me in this important and certainly needed subject of Biblical authority.

Although liberal feminist women would heartily protest the idea of a woman being under subjection to any man, it is God’s divine plan for her as a woman of Godliness. And truly, it is a fulfilling and beautiful design. It is her place as a daughter to be accountable to her father, and when she is given away in marriage, by the father’s hand, it then becomes her place as her husband’s wife. The God-given responsibility to which the father held for his daughter is now placed upon her new husband. I don’t believe widowhood is necessarily an exception here either, although the chain of authority to which she would be accountable to could be different depending on the circumstances. (In I Timothy 5:16 you’ll find that churches are commanded to take care of the believing widows indeed and in James 1:27- “to visit the fatherless and widows”.)

When I read through my Bible, I find that it is the rare exception when a daughter was not actually living directly under her father’s roof. This is where Abraham’s servant found Isaac’s wife, Rebecca. She was serving from under her father’s roof. Rachel and Leah were both at home. And even Esther with her uncle Mordecai. And while some things change by culture, Biblical principles do not. Also, it wasn’t until these daughters were given away in marriage, that they left this God-given place of protection. And while there are exceptions, I believe it is under a father’s roof that a young girl finds the best place to practice such Biblical principles. However, regardless whether a daughter is living directly under her father’s physical roof or not, she is still subject to her father’s authority. In Deuteronomy 22 you’ll find that it was actually the father that was accountable for a daughter’s purity. When the young bride’s purity was questioned by the bridegroom, he went to the daughter’s father. Why? Because he was accountable for her.

“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”
(Hebrews 13:17)

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)

We are commanded to obey our authorities because it is right, but it helps to understand that we are also commanded this for our own good. “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.” Father’s are in a place of authority for a daughter’s protection. It isn’t to destroy the “good works” we would choose to take part in, but the “evil”. And again, not all authority is practiced in Godliness. There are exceptions in certain situations and circumstances where it would be wrong or maybe unsafe to stay under a certain authority. But as I said, these are exceptions. I am not speaking to daughters of such exempt circumstances in particular, but to daughters in general. God has designed our father’s authority for our own good welfare. “That it may be well with thee.” He isn’t a vindictive chauvinistic God who enjoys seeing women beat into subjection, as some might imagine. As females, we are said to be the weaker vessels. I Peter 3:7 says- “…giving honour unto the wife as unto the weaker vessel”. We are more emotional, more vulnerable, more sensitive, and much more delicate. This isn’t a downgrade. It is how we were made. And there is a reason for it. As women, we were made to compliment a man. To be a “helpmeet”. This is what a man needs. The husband was commanded to honour his wife in this, not use it to his own advantage. God has given us godly protection in our fathers, our brothers, our pastors, and someday, in our husbands. Simply said, we need it.

I have been amazed, over and over again, how many times the Lord has used my dad for my own protection. Especially in the small things. And really, the small things can be just as important as what we might call the “big things.” Because it is the little foxes that spoil the vines. (Song of Solomon 2:15) Times where all my dad could tell me was- “I can’t explain why, but I don’t have peace about this.” And guess what? If not but a little while later, I was thankful that I listened. Was it always easy? No. Certainly not. But it was always right.

I remember one instance in particular. We were away from home at the time, traveling along with friends for a special church meeting. The opportunity presented itself for me and my sister to stay a few extra days with some of these friends to go up to Edmonton afterwards. I really wanted to stay. It sounded like such fun and what could be the harm in it? So, I asked dad. (Chain of authority) I was rather disappointed when he hardly took much thought to this “wonderful idea” and simply said “no”. I remember feeling both deflated and very frustrated. At least, if I was going to go through the trouble of asking, he could think about it. My flesh revolted and my rebellious heart felt uncared for, unappreciated, and unloved. What about me? What about what I wanted to do? Not to mention, that as a 21 year old “adult” this was somewhat embarrassing. Most of these friends going were even younger than I was. But the Lord rebuked me for my attitude. He reminded me that I was not my own. That my life was to be hid in Christ Jesus my Lord, that I was His servant, and not free to do what I considered my own good pleasure. To submit to His ordained authorities. And for good reason too. That very Sunday after we had come back, the Lord was working in our church at home, and the Lord used my sister to help lead one young lady to salvation in Christ. Amazing! And what was this worth? An extended trip with friends? My own desire to have fun? Definitely not. If we had stayed, I don’t know what might have been different. The Lord used my authority. Proverbs 12:15 says- “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” Our ways, are not always the right way. Isaiah talks about His ways being higher than our ways. And His thoughts than our thoughts. When the Lord speaks through our authorities, we need to listen.

I would like to add here, that I am not advocating that girls never make decisions for themselves. I don’t think that would be balanced. There are many times my dad has let me decide things for myself. But again, it is still a chain of authority. Biblically my dad has the right and command to use this authority. And as a daughter, I am subject to obey it. Although Ephesians 6:4 says- “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” It isn’t an authority to be abused for selfish means. It shouldn’t be to provoke you to wrath, but in the admonition of the Lord. Yet still, even if a father’s authority is being used for selfish gain, I believe that the Lord sees this. He looks on with a righteous and perfect heart. HE is still just, even in injustice. Romans 12:19 says- “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

Ultimately, in trusting our God-given authorities, we are trusting God.

It would seem easier to say we are only going to trust “God” on a subject matter, given who He is. Perfect. His justice is perfect. His love is perfect. His wisdom is perfect, and not to mention, all knowing. He is safe and never once fails. Trusting just Him, would seem easier. But, God works through our authorities. He chooses to use our fathers, our pastors, or eventually our husbands. He gives counsel through men. He chooses to use fallible men. And ultimately, we have to trust the Lord with the outcome. Romans 8:28 says- “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” When the Bible says “all things” I don’t see much room for exceptions. Do you? Not even through the decision our authorities make, which certainly do affect us. I have always been encouraged through the verse in Proverbs 21:1. 

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”

If the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, how much more is my father’s heart? Especially if my earthly father is also a child of THEE King and seeks to do the Lord’s will as any good earthly father would. If the Lord turneth the king’s heart to do HIS will, how much more can the Lord turn my authorities’ heart to do HIS will? He most certainly can and we must trust the Lord in it.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Quote of the Day

"Christians need to understand that bearing the cross does not in the first place refer to the trials which we call crosses, but to the daily giving up of life, of dying to self, which must mark us as much as it did the Lord Jesus, which we need in time of prosperity almost more than adversity, and without which the fullness of the blessing of the cross cannot be disclosed to us." ~ Andrew Murray

"May we cease to confuse the words 'a cross' with 'the cross'.  Sometimes believers in self-pity bemoan themselves, and say, 'I have taken, or must take up, my cross, and follow Jesus'.  Would that we would lose sight of our 'cross' om His cross, then His cross becomes our cross; His death, our death; His grave, our grave; His resurrection, our resurrection; His risen life, our newness of life.  No, taking up our Cross does not mean the stoical bearing of some heavy burden, hardship, illness, distasteful situation or relationship.  Enduring anything of this nature is not bearing one's Cross.  Taking up the Cross may or may not involve such things, but things do not constitute our Cross."  ~ Green Letters (p54)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Political/World Issues 

Guest writer Chris Hutto has written something so compelling that I had to share it with you.  It's an amazing read.  Thought provoking, convicting, mind blowing and simply brilliant.  A must read.  It is longer, but once I started I couldn't stop.  Please leave your comments!  I would like to hear from you!  

                     My Ministry to the Jews

Auschwitz stock

May, 1944
  Despair increases steadily as does the terrible hunger, the like of which mankind has never yet suffered. With complete assurance we may say that they have not left us even a jot of that which is called body or soul.
  In truth, the world deserves only that we spit in its face…Sudden death, hunger, deportation, interrogations, labor, queues, etc., etc. wreak havoc on the ruined vineyard of Israel, among the poor remnant. Will you O God, keep silent? How can you, having seen it?
July 31, 1944
  My…heart is cut to pieces when I perceive how terrible my little sister is tormented. She lost literally everything- no stockings, no clothes…no tenderness. O you poor orphan, and what you have to suffer by my unjust treatment, because of my destroyed nerves. You, poor being, must help yourself with substitutes: instead of stockings some rags, instead of boots some wooden contrivance…God seems to have abandoned us totally and left us entirely to the mercy of the heartless fiends. Almighty God, how can you do this?
August 3, 1944
  When I look at my little sister my heart is melting. Hasn’t the child suffered its part? She has fought so heroically the last five years. When I look on our cozy little room tidied up by the young, intelligent, poor being I am greatly saddened by the thought that soon she and I will have to leave our last particle of home.
  Oh God in heaven, why didst thou create Germans to destroy humanity? I don’t even know if I shall be allowed to be together with my sister. I cannot write more. I am resigned terribly and black spirited.
That was a few entries from the diary of an unknown Jewish boy orphaned, along with his younger sister, by the Nazis. The children lived in the Lodz Ghetto in Poland where they were forced into slave labor. After the war his diary was found written in the margins of an old French novel. Both of the children were murdered.

  Even though the Jews were forced to live in the confines of the ghettos, people, often children, would sneak through the borders and scavenge for food to bring back to their families. The Gentiles (Goyim as the Jews called them) were not allowed to mingle or assist the Jews in their plight…but some did anyway.

  Imagine for a moment that this was happening in our country. Our Jewish population was being dehumanized and confined to bordered ghettos in YOUR city. Imagine that we lived in a country that taught us through the school system, media and court rulings that the Jews were not human like you or I because of their race. Evil propaganda spread like wildfire on the internet assuring us that annihilating the Jews was for the betterment of our civilized society. The Gentiles justified their murder by calling it “choice” and “rights.” Imagine also that 80% of your fellow Americans supported this discriminatory ideology.

  Can you picture it? You were born in a country this way. You aren’t even surprised anymore when you see the smoke rising from the crematoria. That’s how it’s always been…well, at least since you can remember. You are disgusted at the racist barbarism but just try not to think about it too often. During the elections you faithfully vote for the candidate you think will help make the Jewish people a bit more comfortable. You are satisfied with the fulfillment of your duty. You stand for what is right with your vote! I mean, just two months ago a provision was voted on in your state that allowed the elderly Jewish people 85 and older to live outside of the ghettos. Not only that but it actually passed! Life is good…or is it?

  Imagine once more that you need to head into town to pick up a few groceries. No big deal. You hop into the car and head strait for the supermarket. Your day is busy but this will only take a few minuets. Zipping absentmindedly around traffic you make a left turn and speed down 7th Street. Less traffic down here. A long razor-wire fence stretches the length of the road, an ancient brick building looms beyond the boarder. Dark billows of smoke curl like a wicked smile from a blackened chimney. It’s the Ghetto hospital were the Jews go to get “taken care of.”

  Turning up the Christian radio station you try and ignore the place but are stopped short when two children dart from the curb and into the road. Quickly, you slam on the breaks and come to a screeching halt. The children are frozen in their tracks right in the middle of the road and stop to see what you will do. You know that they have just escaped from the prison-like ghetto.

  Reddened eyes stare back at you from swollen lids and tallow colored faces. Stained and tattered rags cling to the children’s sweaty, emaciated bodies. Hunger and fear are etched deep in their beings. Bitterness and resentment leap from the boy’s eyes. In one hand he holds his sister’s tightly and in the other an old book. Golden words grace the front of the hardback cover…are those french words? You don’t have time to figure it out.

  A piercing alarm rings out across the city. The children have been missed. A dog barks in the distance. A few shouts echo from beyond the ghetto fence. The children would never have a chance on their own. The city teems with police and people that are more than happy to turn over runaways for a promised reward.

  You love the Jews. You aren’t a racist. You see the “King of the Jews” in your mind’s eye with children sitting at His feet. You worship these young Jew’s Messiah. Startled, the children run to your window and plead with you to let them in. You can’t hear their faint, despairing voices over, “God’s so good” blaring from the stereo. Now you can really see their faces stained with tears. They beat on the window with their fists. Two guards appear on the hospital grounds, weapons raised. A German shepherd bounds forward with a menacing growl and slams his body into the fence just a few feet behind the children. Tension floods the air. Screams from the children, barking from the dog and curses from the armed men all scrambled into a chaotic frenzy. Your heart pounds against your chest in rhythm to the pathetic drumbeat of the Jewish children’s fists. Police units assemble on both sides of the streets.
Oh, what was that? A faint sound hummed in your pocket. You look down. There is was again! Suddenly a burst of laughter irrupts from your mouth. Excitedly you whisk the phone from your pocket and glance at the screen. Incoming call. It’s Sammy! You answer, “Hey, what’s up?” A bouncy voice answers back, “Not much. And you?” You laugh and after a short pause look at the children. They’ve stopped screaming. The despondency in their eyes screams louder than their voices ever could.

Um, nothing really…Just headed for the store.”

Great! You have time for coffee?”

You look out your window and see the guards closing in.
Yeah, I think so. I’ll meet you at Starbucks. Sound good?” You snap the car into gear and zoom off.

Yep, sounds good. See you in a bit.”

You hang up the phone with a smile.
Coffee sounds great right now.”
You are free and it feels good to take a drive…even if you are busy. A few angry gun shots scream through the air but you don’t notice. You were just at the best spot in your favorite hymn and singing along.
That would never happen, right? How could I ever be so hardhearted? If I saw another human in need I would stop and help, wouldn’t I? I would be brave like Corrie Ten Boom, Miep Gies, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
After shopping you head strait to the coffee shop and meet your friend. You are having a wonderful time. Outwardly you chat about what is new and exciting in your life but inwardly you wrestle with accusing thoughts in your mind.

Should I have helped those children? Well, I am really busy this summer.
But you could have taken a bit of time out of your busy schedule to save a life.
They were going to die anyway and besides what could do when thousands die everyday?
Don’t you think it is your moral obligation?
I know what you mean but that isn’t my ministry. I have never been led to help the Jews.
Do you have to be “led” to do what’s right?
Well…the Holy Spirit hasn’t given me a peace about it yet.
What about the peace of those children?
I’ll do it in my own way. I wouldn’t want to offend any of the guards.
They are murderers!
Jesus was loving and…
I know. So loving that He gave His whole life to save the lives of others.
But, that was Jesus!
Now it’s your turn.
Nonchalantly you say good bye to your friend and drain the last drops of your mug. It was a long day and you hurry home. Out of habit you take 7th again. The street is abandoned and lonely. In the center on the road you notice a small object. Is it a book? Gold letters gleam brightly in the sunlight of the evening golden hour. Carefully you pull alongside the book and open your door. The words are French on the cover. It is an old French novel. Your curious fingers reach down and scoop up the fragile book. Nothing extraordinary about it. Just an old book.

You gasp and recoil your hands in shock. The book falls, binding up, smashing the yellowed pages. Dark blood spots the back of the book. It is the boy’s blood. Hurriedly you slam the door shut and speed away from the sight of blood. The steering wheel feels sticky. No, it can’t be! There is blood on your hands.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Quote of the Day

"Has He the power to enable us to give all these attitudes to Him and to allow the Holy Spirit to deal honestly and truly with all that displeases Him? I am not really asking 'Has He enough power to do what needs to be done in me?' but rather, 'Have I enough grace and humility to acknowledge what I need and to allow Him to make the necessary change?' Yet I know that the needed grace and humility are His. And He certainly has enough of both to fulfill my need." 
(Helen Roseveare in the book Enough p. 51-52)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Biblical Womanhood Part II

spiritual lessons

Biblical Womanhood
Part II

Image result for The bible

I promised a second post on Biblical Womanhood. In it I wanted to address the last two subjects: What guy and girl relationships should look like, and physical touch.  
(Click here to read Biblical Womanhood Part I)

A Standard of Purity

While recently talking to a young woman I was asked why I wouldn't hug young men and why I wouldn't become a close friend with a guy. She mentioned that physical touch is actually a health benefit.  She also wondered at how I could consider myself friends with guys and yet not be willing to spend one on one with them or treat them like any of my girl friends.  

This is my answer. And as Christian young woman you too need to have an answer. 

 Every person has a boundary. A line in the sand. For many Christians they draw it at marital relations. Most Christian woman, that I know, wouldn't have sex outside of marriage. Why? This is their standard of purity. You too have a standard of purity...but do you know why you stand there? Do you know why you draw the line there? If you don't know why, you most likely will not be able to remain standing when you are challenged or tempted.

I desire that my standard of purity be based off of God's standard of purity. Ephesians 5:22-27 describes this for us. Marriage between a man and woman represent the church's marriage with Christ. We are His bride. And His standard for his bride is that we be holy and blameless, having no spot or wrinkle.

Christ said to men that “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28) God demands purity of heart and mind. Our hearts, just like our bodies are to be saved for one person.

Physical relationships with a man before marriage obviously does not fit God's standard of purity. But why not hugs? Why not close one on one friendships?

With a little research you can find plenty of scientific reasons on health benefits for physical touch. Giving hugs supposedly lowers blood pressure, relieves stress, boosts oxytocin which benefits the heart and more.(

I believe it, and don't condemn hugging. I hug my mom and dad and sisters and brothers and girlfriends often. I also realize that we young women are hard-wired with a need to be held and cherished and protected and wanted and touched. It's God-given and it's natural and it's good. We just need to be careful where we find fulfillment in this. My family definitely helps with this need. They love me and cherish me and protect me. But I usually find I need more. And I turn to Jesus who loves to hold and cherish and protect. But I do not hug young men because of God's standard on purity.

God tells us to keep our hearts. That would infer that our hearts can be given away. Proverbs 4:23 It also states we are to do this with diligence. This infers that it is imperative, and in need of active vigilance.

This is a difficult task but with Jesus who is our strength and with our God-given authorities He has made it possible. Read my post on Temptation.

The Bible makes it clear that He knew us while we were yet being formed. That He holds an expected end in mind for us. That He knows our future and has a will for it. (See Psalm 139; Jeremiah 29:11 and Ephesians 2:10 for a few examples).

Knowing this, I don't think it's too far of a stretch to say that He knows and has planned a best for us. That He knows our man and is molding him into the perfect spouse for us. I believe He has a plan for our future children. I don't have it all figured out, it's still a mystery as to exactly how God brings husbands and wives together, but I firmly believe that we are created to be one man's helpmeet and should use serious guarded caution about the men we get close to.  Read my post on Heart Strings.

Not only in physical contact but in actions! We should behave as if our husbands were in the room watching us. We are sisters in Christ to every young man that is a believer and that is the extent to which we should act. As sisters with all purity. (1 Timothy 5:2).

But test-driving someone romantically, whether for kicks, for science, or for strategy, is not how we keep romance in the context of marriage, where it belongs. We can invent a thousand excuses, but at the end of the day, we don’t do it because it’s wise. We don’t do it because it’s loving. We don’t do it because we’re pursuing purity. We do it because it’s just so much fun.”
 (Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin in It's Not that Complcated)

Saving our first kiss, our first hug...our first holding a guy's hand, for our future spouse is a beautiful thing. I have talked to many couples who followed this standard and they have no regrets. In fact, they encourage every single person they know to do the same.

Physical touch with a man is intimate and stirs the emotions. Intimacy and emotions that will easily lead you to compromising your purity. Physical contact (cuddling, caressing, hugging, holding hands...) actually awakens emotions and thoughts that aren't evil in and of themselves, but are inappropriate outside of marriage. I'm not the only one that thinks this! I have spoken to young women and young men on this topic. And believe me, it's not only “perverts” who think this way. This is a natural response.

But this aside, it goes beyond what is beautiful, or preference or what others have said. This is an issue on what God thinks, what He asks of us, what He expects. The Bible gives us many clear commands. We are to guard our hearts, love selflessly, thinking on that which is pure and true. Not to covet or lust. To be temperate. To take every thought captive.

Can we obey Him in this while being intimate with a guy outside of marraige? I don't think so.

So is it Wrong to Date?

In a recent conversation, a young woman told me she was curious how I could believe that without dating, and living in the middle of nowhere, in a small social sphere, I was ever going to get married. She really doubted a guy was going to fall out of heaven on my doorstep.

Well, she's right. A guy, most likely, isn't going to fall out of heaven on my doorstep and marry me. But I know I will marry someday, and that I don't need to date in order to do so. What she was really asking is “How are you going to get to know someone?”.  Read my post on "The One".

That's actually a really good question.

Firstly, I know plenty of people. Hundreds. Though I do live in a tiny town and my social spheres are limited to church, our friends from a like minded church in Canada, and work; I'm really not concerned. God doesn't really need my help. I don't need to go looking for eligible men. In fact, I know that I am to be faithful with what He has already given me and called me to do. He will do the rest.    Read my post What to do as a Single?

I am acquainted with dozens of guys, nice and not so nice ones, whom I'm sure I won't ever marry. And you know what? I didn't have to date them to find out. It is quite easy getting to know someone without dating them.  Read my post "Holding out for a Fairy Tale"

Joshua Harris wrote an excellent book called “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”. In it his gives 7 reasons on the negativity of the Dating system.

#1 Dating leads to intimacy, not necessarily to commitment.
#2 Dating tends to skip the “friendship” stage of relationship.
#3 Dating often mistakes a physical relationship for love.
#4 Dating often isolates us from other vital relationships.
#5 Dating, in many cases, distracts young adults from their primary responsibility of of preparing for their future.
#6 Dating can cause discontentment with God's gift of singleness.
#7 Dating creates an artificial environment for evaluating another person's character.

Through what I have read and what I have seen in other's lives, and what many people have shared with me from their own personal experience, I have come to the conclusion that dating is not only less than the ideal, but actually detrimental. And thankfully, God's word describes something better than dating. We do have a practical healthy alternative. My family has labeled this “courtship”. For more detail on this please read my post on Courtship Defended.

What then does godly guy-girl relationships look like?

I want all my readers to know that I think it's okay to be friends with a guy. I actually have a few guy friends. In fact, my brothers and I are always going on adventures with our friends (guy and girl). One particular young man we seem to do everything with.  I consider myself to be his friend. We sincerely enjoy each other's company, share ideas, have some similar interests, will joke and do things together. But always in a group setting.

I respect him and love him as a brother.  And I know he respects me and loves me as his sister.  I know this because of how he treats me.  We can have fun and participate together in many of the same activities and pray for one another and encourage each other and laugh together but we have never spent one on one with each other.  And this is because we respect each other's purity.  We never would want to cause the other to stumble or be tempted.  We would never think of hugging each other for this very reason.  And yet we are good friends.  There  is nothing formal or stiff about our friendship.  It is simple, healthy, pure, comfortable and clean.  It is possible to have guys as friends without any physical touch involved.  In fact, staying clear of all emotional or physical intimacy gives us the ability to be friends without any awkwardness.  (I also want to add that it's true that men need hugs too, but not from us single women!  We are not gypping men of the physical benefit from hugging by keeping ourselves pure.  As in my example with my friend, he hugs his sisters, he does not need his girl friends to do that for him!).

I can safely have one on one time with girlfriends because there is no risk of temptation. To share your heart one on one is personal, intimate and bonding. We have no reason to bond to a young man unless they are our young men. And unless they are our brothers, father, grandfather (immediate family) or our man with our ring on his finger they aren't ours. Period.

Believe me, I know the battle to keep a pure heart. Especially in this day and age of impurity and with reaching the “old maid status” (past 18 years old!). I also know what it's like to find men fascinating, attractive and loveable. We are hard-wired that way. It's okay. This is a black and white issue, but I am not trying to come across without compassion or “preachy”. I know your struggles. I'm human....and a female on top of that. I get it. Ever since I was a little girl I have loved boys. I loved playing with them and found it easy to communicate and spend time with them. But we must remember God's standard of purity. We must remember to love our brothers.

We can love our brothers in Christ. Love doesn't lust and pine away and flaunt itself. It doesn't envy. It does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own...thinks no evil. (1 Corinthians 13). The young men God has put into our lives aren't to be seen as opportunities or potentials or sources of fulfillment. Nor do they have to be sources of heartache. Setting boundaries on our feelings and obeying His standard for purity will save us these problems. The kingdom of God is lacking godly zealous leaders. Christ-like men are rare. What men has God placed in your life? It's not an accident. We can encourage them to greatness and manliness by being godly pure women.                       

How do we treat young men we admire?

It isn't wrong to admire and respect a young man, and even realize we would like to marry a man like him someday. Where we need to be careful is in these areas:
Our will. If God has designed our future and has a plan for us we must embrace His will for us. No young man should be more important that this.
Our claims. We cannot claim any young man as ours unless we are married to him. Being possessive or jealous of a man is selfish and unhealthy. If we start to feel this way we know we need to get our heart right and ask God for a godly attitude for this guy. We have no guarantee that this man is ours and cannot put any stake in emotions.

What we can do towards men we admire:

We can pray for him and his future wife. We can treat him as a sister in Christ. We can trust that God knows what He is doing and wait for Him to guide our future and the young man's future. Focus on what God has given us to faithfully prepare for and ask God to make us worthy, “above rubies” for the man we pray God will give us. Not treating our admiration as a secret or as God-given inspiration/intuition. For one, telling our parents, or a mature trusted friend, will hold our thoughts accountable and take away the “butterflies” and immature “crush” symptoms. Two, our emotions really can't be trusted. They are strong, they are real, they aren't all evil...but they aren't always correct. They can lead us astray.

What about guys that we don't really like and bother us and try to get our phone number or corner us at functions or try to flirt with us? 

Something I want to point out is that most young men initiate these kinds of things, but they then wait to see how the woman responds. YOU set the tone of interaction. This isn't necessarily true for all situations but it's something that is often ignored. If you pretend to enjoy his attentions, if you are too bashful and remain neutral, if you won't establish boundaries, these kind of men will test you and push you out of your comfort zone (intentionally or not).

Parents are great helpers for advice and Dads are our protectors. But often you don't even need to get your Dad involved if you would do the guy the favor of not being an enabler.

You don't have to endure creepy questions, or inappropriate behavior or crude jokes or give your number or accept dates or be be friendly to these guys. This kind of thing will happen to you so you might as well realize that you can politely let them know you aren't interested.  Please read my post on Defending Yourself.

As a Christian we act like Christ, and Christ was bold though without sin. We can do the same thing. We don't have to be haughty or self-righteous. But we also don't have to allow anyone to push us into anything uncomfortable. In love you can simply state, "I'm sorry I don't give out my information". Or, "I'm sorry I'm not interested".

I know a man that follows young woman around and tries to talk to them at church functions. He is a wife hunter. This kind of man can make any girl feel like prey. (If there is a predator, make sure to tell your authorities and brothers. They can take care of this for you). But if he is simply over board in his wife hunting methods you must be bold. If he is talking to you there is nothing wrong with having a short polite discussion and then excusing yourself. He isn't going to eat you. Don't treat him like a monster. Don't make fun of him by snickering to your girlfriends about him either. Some of these men are just lonely. But if he is pushing boundaries you may have to say something. It's okay to let a person know when you are uncomfortable. Most bold people who push can take it. Plus if there are other young men that hear you state your boundaries they can then easily defend you. My brothers have told me this several times. When a young woman says “Please don't, this makes me feel uncomfortable” they then have something to go off of and can easily intercede if the man continues. My brothers then tell the man, “Excuse me, but this young lady just asked you not to do this...”

Remember, your Dad has no problem protecting you. He's that secret weapon you can pull out if you can't handle it. :) Yet, most men get the hint if you do not respond to their flirtatious actions and simply treat them like every other young man. It's not our responsibility to make them feel good or welcomed or anything. We are to guard our hearts.

But what if I have already compromised my purity?

All of us have compromised our purity to some level. In this filthy world we all have been attacked mentally, emotionally if not physically in an impure way.

No matter how far you have fallen, or how how compromised your purity has become there is a hope. And it doesn't matter if your purity has been stained by your own choice of against your will. We all have the same hope offered to us.

The Savior, Jesus Christ offers us forgiveness and cleansing and healing. He is our hope. The same offering he gave to the woman caught in adultery, is the same hope he extends to us.

He already knows our need. We don't have to try to become clean before coming to Him because He knows (better than we do) how vain our own cleansing is. Some of us struggle to forgive ourselves. That's okay, because our forgiveness isn't what will heal us. It's His forgiveness. If we can accept His forgiveness we later will be able to forgive ourselves and others.

Philippians 3:13-14

It's never too late to repent of our impure actions and do what is right. Let Him take your thoughts captive. Think on pure things (Phil. 4:8). Don't put yourself in tempting situations (ie: one one one with a guy!).

Jesus knows how to keep your heart and also purify it. Sometimes this isn't easy. Sometimes it requires a lonely stand. Sometimes He allows fire to “try” us and burn off our dross. But it's worth it!

No man owns your heart. As a Christian you know that Jesus does. No matter how many shreds of your heart you have given out, Jesus can make you whole. Of course there are always consequences to our actions. Of course we most likely will have scars. But when Jesus forgives He does it all the way.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Ps. 51:10)

If you don't have a dad that protects you. If you naturally are emotionally impulsive and give your heart away to every eligible guy; if you are vulnerable to romantic thoughts, if you have regrets, if an impure past haunts you – God still mercifully offers His forgiveness and love and healing and atonement.

He knows your hurt. He knows your anxieties. He hears your cries and prayers. He will forgive you. He will keep you. He makes purity possible.

Philippians 4:6-7
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.