Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Color of Love

love color
There are many blog posts circulating about Valentine’s Day and the release of a new movie which has captivated millions.  I won’t even try to argue on here whether or not a Christian should support it- because many godly, eloquent-writing and speaking people have done that already.  I am simply going to write about what love is.  We need to know what God intended for love or else we will always be confused and searching.  Just as you can’t tell counterfeit bills until you have studied the original, so you can’t tell the differences in love until you have seen true love.

The issue isn’t just about a book series or a movie release, it’s about the pornography, homosexuality, domestic abuse, sex trafficking, pre-marital sex,  and other “love” issues that are bombarding our society.  I’m not even going to write my own personal thoughts because I’m not a wife, a therapist, or a counselor who is certified or experienced in these subjects.  This blog post is simply sharing parts of the Letter which God has written to us.  There are a lot more verses than what I shared that talk about God’s love, God’s design for love between man and woman, and the answers about love for which we have been searching, so I encourage you to do your own reading of God’s love letter.  You will be excited with what you find because God intended true love to be beautiful and lovely.  May we each discover and live in the brilliant hues of love that God designed, instead of searching for fulfillment and romance in the shadows.

And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.  And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.   And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.  And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.  And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”- Genesis 2:18-24 (KJV).

“So Jacob worked seven years to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days.”- Genesis 29:20 (NLT)

“I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?”- Job 31:1 (ESV)

“He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself. He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away.”- Proverbs 6:32-33 (ESV)

“Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned.”- Song of Solomon 8:7 (NIV)

“For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”- Malachi 2:16 (ESV)

“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”- Matthew 5:28 (ESV)

“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” – Romans 1:26-27 (NIV)

“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”- Romans 12:10

“Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.”- Romans 13:13 (ESV)

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”- 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NIV).

“Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”- 1 Corinthians 6:13 (ESV)

“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”- 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (ESV)

Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.   Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.   Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.   The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.   Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.  But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.  For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.  I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I.  But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.   And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:  But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.   But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.   And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.   For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.   But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.   For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?“- 1 Corinthians 7:1-16 (KJV)

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”- 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”- 2 Corinthians 6:14 (KJV)

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,”- 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”- Ephesians 4:31-32

“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.  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.  For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.  Be not ye therefore partakers with them.  For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.  For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.  But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.  Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.  See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.  And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.  For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:  For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.“- Ephesians 5:1-33 (KJV)

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”- Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV) 

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”- Colossians 3:5 (ESV)

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.   Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.”- Colossians 3:18-19 (NIV)

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.”- 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6 (ESV)

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”- Hebrews 13:4 (NIV)

“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”- 1 Peter 3:7 (ESV)

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.”- 1 John 4:18a (NIV)

May you have a beautiful Valentine’s weekend living in the color of love as God intended!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Why I Dress Like A Woman

I think we are facing a huge war which is aimed at females and everything they represent and embody.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I think it is exactly what Satan wants because women are the core of emotion, sensitivity, and compassion.  Perhaps you are familiar with the old saying, “Behind every great man is a woman”?  God even decided that a woman was needed to complete His perfect Creation.

For years, women were mistreated.  They were viewed as mere slaves and unintelligent lower life.  God did not agree with that, because He views man and woman as equal in His sight.  However, He assigned different traits and responsibilities to man and woman, not because He liked one more than the other, but because He knew how they would best complement each other and the world.  Man is supposed to be the leader- strong, courageous, and able to make decisions; woman is supposed to be the nurturer- loving, caring, and feminine.

But we, women, overreacted to the bad way we had been treated by men.  We decided that we wanted to be men.  We decided we wanted freedom to break the bounds of gender.  And with that freedom, we left our children and husbands and joined professions that men had only held.  We traded skirts for jeans and heels for boots.

And as we enjoyed a new way of life, the man took the place of the woman.  Divorce numbers soared, abortion rates climbed, and homosexuality advanced.  Children were lost, man had become woman, and woman had become man.  This was not God’s original plan, and woman was not truly happy- whether she would admit it or not.  Whenever one steps out of God’s design, he or she will not have that inner peace, satisfaction, and joy that comes from following God’s will.

Today, woman no longer represents that trust which children understood, that tenderness that the world had seen, and that beauty which husbands knew.  Oh yes, the modern version of woman which has emerged is beautiful.  When females stepped forward for freedom they also unknowingly created a spin-off version of woman which was to satisfy man’s desires while they went for their freedom.  They created a woman who would be the toy for the slobs that man had become through all of this unnatural change.  One can see that this created woman is beautiful; she has to be so that she can catch men’s eyes.  But she is not beauty.  Beautiful is an adjective, but Beauty is a noun- which is what a true woman should be.  Beauty is deeper than the hair style, the layer of makeup, the hour-glass figure, or the facial features…beauty is what the woman’s heart, soul, and mind was meant to be.

I’m sure you know what I am talking about, you have seen it happen yourself.  But what we, as Christians, don’t realize is that the exact same pattern is starting within our own churches.  Start watching young ladies’ hobbies and interests.  Check out the clothing they are wearing.  I know I’m going to have a lot of disagreement on this, but please hear me out.  Girls nowadays don’t know how to cook a meal, but they do know how to spike a volleyball.  They don’t know how to clean a house, but they do know how to drag race.  Girls used to heal, bandage, and nurture a wounded animal and leave the killing to the men, but now they are avid hunters who don’t blink twice at ending an animal’s life.  Once again- please hear me out!  I know sports, hunting, etc.. are a great way for dads and daughters to connect, and I also know that many girls thoroughly enjoy less feminine activities.  I enjoy a game of soccer, the sound of a diesel truck, snowmobiling, and wearing cowboy boots; but
I’m trying not to let the tomboyish things of life completely eliminate the feminine side of life.  I still enjoy tea parties, wearing ruffles, playing sonatas, and caring for a sick puppy.  I’m afraid that young ladies almost despise things that are associated with being girly because they want to be tough, brave, and able to compete with the males (or else gain their attention).  They have banned “domestic” things as old-fashioned and feminine character traits as wimpy.  And yes, there are some things that will and should change over time; but perhaps we should be careful in choosing what to get rid of or accept.

The clothing has also been evolving over the past few years.  My mom had kept quite a few of my brother’s and my baby clothes.  I always enjoyed looking at mine because it was ruffly, lacy, and had lots of bows and ribbons.  How boring to have opened the baby chest of my clothing and see apparel that looked like my brother’s.  Very seldom do you see little girls dressed like little girls anymore though, and I think that is quite sad.  Oh yes, my parents had their hands full as I was growing up.  I thought dresses were the most revolting things.  They were always in one’s way, and up until about six years of age I still struggled with keeping my dress in it’s proper place when I plopped down on a chair to proudly survey my  grass-stained knees, rolled through the leaves with the dogs, or attempted to climb a tree.  But I’m glad my parents were willing to teach me the importance of acting like a lady.  The easy thing would have been to dress me in pants, but then I would have never adjusted to handling my body as a woman of beauty should.  Once I reached the grown-up age where I could choose my own wardrobe, I decided to keep dressing as a woman.  Yes, I know that one of the reasons Anabaptist women wear skirts or dresses is because of modesty.  And for the most part- that is true.  However, I have seen trousers and culottes that are much more modest than some of the dresses our Christian women wear; but that doesn’t do away from the fact that dresses/skirts made or bought properly are usually much more modest than pants.

But, the main reason I choose to dress like a woman is exactly because of that- I want to be a woman.  God specifically talks about woman not wearing men’s apparel and men not wearing women’s.  “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.”- Deut. 22:5

Some people refer to this as applying to cross-dressing, meaning that a man wears articles of clothing specifically designed for a woman, and vice versa.  I have heard arguments that state it wouldn’t apply to women’s pants because they were styled for a woman’s body and are sold for the female gender.  Perhaps, but still, what has been the clothing associated with men for hundreds of years?  What about the old saying, “Who wears the pants in the family” (referring to the leader of the home- which should be the male)?  How does one tell the difference between men’s and women’s restroom signs?  One might also say that it does not apply to our time since it was written in the Old Testament, but an abomination to God means that it is something He hates.  The character of God did not change between the Old and New Testament.

I am not ashamed of being a woman; so I will portray my femininity in the way I dress.  But it doesn’t stop with the way I dress, it also applies to my complete attitude, reputation, and outlook.  I want God to create in me the woman that He intended.  That doesn’t mean that I can’t get my hands dirty or I have to swoon if I ever fall in love, but it does mean that I can be content with the gender I am and embrace that through the way I live, dress, and act.

May you have a beautiful day living as the man or woman God created you to be!

A Four-Letter Word

Three years ago, I decided to start claiming a word for each new year, a word which I wanted God to instill within me.  The first word I had claimed when I started doing this was JOY.  Last year, I picked TRUST.  This year, I picked HOPE.

I wasn’t sure what to pick this year; but when the word “hope” came up in a game we were playing, I knew it was meant to be.

Each year, I am thoroughly tested in my word.  In 2014, I had to keep trusting that God had it all under control when my father had a stroke, the business was spinning out of control, and there were a lot of unanswered dreams, prayers, and questions.

It looks like it will be no different this year.  I have already lost my dog, my brother is scheduled to see a surgeon about an enlarged lymph node which may be cancerous, and everything is pretty much going crazy— and we’re only twenty-seven days into the New Year!  So the only thing to do is sit back and let God have control.  Perhaps He wants to see if I love Him more than the most precious things around me.  Perhaps He wants to see how I respond during it all.  But perhaps He wants me to see that often my hope has come because of my ambitions, my family, or my cozy life.  So with the power of God, I will hold Christ as my HOPE.  He is the reason I live.  He is what can keep me looking forward to the future because I know He has it all under control and has the best plan, whether or not it aligns with what I think is best.  I serve a mighty, yet loving God; and that is what gives me HOPE!

“My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” by Edward Mote, 1797-1874

1. My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

3. His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

4. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.