Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Curious? Ok – well here it is for the record.

For 25 years I have been a Christian. I received the Lord on May 9, 1985. From that day to today there have been many changes in me and in my life style. There are many things I do and don’t do because of what and how the Lord has worked in my life, and lately I have had several ladies asking me questions because they were curious – so here are my answers…for the record. I will be answering one question a day as this article would be too long to give all my answers in one day!

Do I always ONLY wear dresses (skirts) and why?

Yes, I always only wear a dress or skirt because the Lord placed that conviction on my heart shortly after I got saved. You see when I first became a Christian I heard that all the answers I needed in my life could be found in the Bible. To my thinking I imagined then that the Bible was somewhat like a cookbook. I could look something up and find the “recipe.” Well, as a young mother (I was 27 at the time with 4 children ages 5 and under) I wanted the “recipe” for being a good mother; I wanted to know how to raise my children.

As I began my quest I started looking in the index of my new Bible (concordance) and couldn’t quite find a specific recipe that said, “How to raise kids.” The Lord did however lead me to several different verses and one of them was Deuteronomy 22:5 which says, “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.”

Now, when I read that verse the first thought that came to my mind was, “oh no! That means God doesn’t want me to wear pants.” I was not excited with that news especially as I had a closet full of pants! The next morning as I was getting dressed I tried to convince myself that I had surely misunderstood what the Bible said, after all I was a new Christian and almost all women wear pants all the time. Well, as I got dressed every time I saw myself in my mirror filled room (we had mirrored closet doors on one wall, my dresser with a mirror on it on another wall, and a vanity with a mirror above the sink on yet another wall) in my heart the Lord was saying “look at you, you know that is not how I want you to dress – are you really going to just ignore what you read last night?” Well after a 20 minute struggle I gave in and told the Lord I would submit to what He wanted for me. I changed my clothes and have not worn pants since that time.

I have had many women say that the pants they wear were not made for men; they are “women’s” pants, and therefore women’s clothing. I suppose that is possible however God did deal with my heart specifically and from His Word – so even if that is the case I believe that I should stand on the conviction God placed on my heart from His Word instead of moving away from it because of someone else’s beliefs. I am not being mean spirited, legalistic, or judgmental – I am just obeying what God placed on my heart. I know for a fact that God does not want me to wear pants.

I would also say that there are other reasons I believe a woman should be careful about pants, first because of what the Bible says in Deuteronomy 22:5, but then also because of various ads and articles I’ve read about pants. For the designers pants are all about making the woman’s rear look good. I have seen full page articles about how a woman’s rear is her temple; how that a woman should try on every pair of pants before making the purchase and doing various “rear” tests to make sure it shows off the shape while walking, dancing, trying to allure men, etc. To my thinking – this doesn’t sound like anything I am aiming for so why would I consider them as anything I would put on my body – which the Bible says is the temple of the Holy Spirit!

I can quote Scripture after Scripture about why I believe God wants women and men to dress differently from each other, and why He wants Christian women to dress differently from unsaved women – but the bottom line to me is that God dealt with my heart specifically and so for me it would be wrong to wear pants.

I also believe that to lower the standard of dress is an expression of what is on the inside. (The King’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.) If I love the Lord with all my heart, mind, and soul – and if “whatsoever I do” is to be for the glory of God – I don’t want my choice of clothing to be excluded from those decisions. That lowering of the standard makes a statement to those that have been watching and it says, “see, it was that church, or that religion that was forcing her to dress that way – now she’s “back to normal.” Lowering my dress standard may negate my testimony to those I have been witnessing to for (in some cases) 25 years! The change God made in me is real – it wasn’t manufactured, it wasn’t forced upon me by someone I admired – it is the working of the Holy Spirit in me as I seek to “be more like Him.”

The second part of this question would then naturally be if I hold it against or look down upon women that wear pants…and my answer would be “no.” I don’t believe a woman should be made to feel guilty and forced to my standard, or made to dress a certain way “because of rules.” Oh, I believe that a pastor has every right to require worker’s to follow specific guidelines – after all even McDonald’s requires their employees to wear a uniform at work, as do airlines which not only require them while on duty, but any time they fly! Our choices and decisions for what we do for God must come from the heart. “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:” Ephesians 6:6, 7

Ladies, what you wear and how you choose to dress is between you and God – but really make it between you and God – ask the Lord in earnest how He wants you to dress, “That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;” God will let you know what He wants for you and then you can with joy and full assurance know that you are “doing the will of God from the heart.”

I love you and pray that you will have a wonderful day!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Will You Be a Ruth?

I have been heavy hearted and praying for someone that is very dear to me as she is struggling with discouragement, depression, and even leaning towards bitterness. In my prayer for her the Lord brought the book of Ruth to my mind. I began to think of Naomi who suffered through financial reversal that caused her to leave her home land. She then lost her husband, and both of her sons!

Naomi was so distraught she didn’t even want people to call her by her given name which means “pleasantness;” and requested that people instead call her Mara which means “bitter.” On one hand I can understand why she felt that way, but as a Christian we know that the bitterness she felt could do nothing to help or heal her broken heart – she probably didn’t really want to be healed, she wanted her life to be the way she wanted it – with her husband, sons, money…with everything that made her happy and met her needs.

God had a different plan for Naomi, and He brought her exactly what she needed…Ruth. Since I started looking at the meaning of names – Ruth means friend. When Naomi was struggling, God sent her a friend. Now, Ruth was Naomi’s daughter-in-law, but she was the friend she needed at the most trying time of her life.

I would like to look at what Ruth did for Naomi that made all the difference.

1. She didn’t give in to Naomi’s self-destructive requests. Because Naomi was depressed and bitter, she didn’t want anyone around her – she was sending her daughters-in-law away from her so that she could be alone to bask in her depression. Ruth refused to leave and what she said to her is one of the most quoted verses in weddings, “And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.” These words were spoken to let Naomi know that she was truly loved! Ruth was indeed a true friend to Naomi.

2. She took care of her and supported her. When Ruth left her own family and religion behind and moved to Naomi’s homeland she got a job so that she could take care of her.

3. She did not lose respect for Naomi. Even though Naomi was struggling with depression and bitterness – Ruth still honoured and respected her; she followed her advice about where to get a job, and how to behave towards her new boss.

4. Ruth was used of God to breathe new life in Naomi as she followed her counsel and saw that there was hope for a future family.

5. After Ruth remarried and had a child, God was praised for the outcome, and others reminded Naomi that God blessed her and took care of her. “And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him. And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it. And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.” Ruth 4:14-17
Naomi thought that she would never have a family and God allowed her to be a grandma and nurse to King David's grandfather!

It is my prayer that I may be used to be a Ruth to someone in need. Ladies, won’t you pray and ask God to use you as well to be such a friend that will help someone’s bitterness return to pleasantness. As Christians we know that we have such a Friend in Jesus, but we also know that God wants us to give that same help to those in need. II Corinthians 1:3-4, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

If you are struggling like Naomi, trying to understand why things haven’t turned out as you've hoped – please consider the end of the Naomi’s story…and if I may I’ll pray that God sends you a “Ruth.”

I love you and want you to know that God loves even more!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Spare the Rice!

Its summer time! I remember as a child being so excited for summer – not having to go to school, no homework, being able to stay up later at night and sleep a little longer in the morning –but after about 2 weeks the excitement wore off. We all do better when we’re on a “planned” schedule than when we are just loafing and wandering through each day. Pretty soon the day seems too long, and well it’s easy to get in trouble when we are not occupied!

As the oldest of five children, and the only girl – I was rarely not occupied:) My brothers on the other hand were younger and had less responsibility than I did, so they definitely had too much time on their hands. This reminds me of the parable in Matthew 19. Verses 13 and 14 say, “And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.” In other words they didn’t want to submit to who and what was given and expected of them.

I recall one time in particular when my grandparents were staying with us and my brothers began to complain about being bored. Now, they had plenty of things to do – they could clean their rooms, they could play in the backyard, play games, read a book – numerous things…but they didn’t want to do any of those things – they chose instead to whine – bad move! My grandfather very wisely invented something to keep them occupied…he grabbed a bag of long grained rice and emptied the contents on the carpet and then said, “so, you’re bored, well this will keep you busy – pick up all the rice!”

I suppose to some of you that may sound a little harsh or at the very least wasteful – but it taught all of us some very valuable lessons.

1. If you’ve got something to do – do it!

2. Don’t complain or whine about the task at hand – you could be given a less desirable task.

3. It is better to learn to enjoy doing what you can do than to murmur and complain…you just might spend your life doing menial tasks to keep you occupied instead of accomplishing something worthwhile.

So moms, if you’ve got school aged kids at home – help them (and yourself) by making a schedule (not too rigid).

1. Have a getting up and going to bed “no later than” time. (Sometimes kids get up earlier than we wish – but don’t let them stay in bed too late in the morning.)

2. Have your meals at the same time every day

3. Read to your younger children every day – especially before nap time if they still nap, or after lunch for a cooling down time.

4. Include outside time – running around and burning all their energy! (This can be at home in the yard, going to the park, or going for a walk in the neighborhood.)

5. Give your kids incentives to get the “work” done. (for example: if you clean your room well, we will go to the park; set a timer and let them know it must be done within that time)

6. Have happy music playing and sing with your kids – while your cooking and they’re playing with “sit down in the house” toys.

7. Have Bible time and pray with your kids every day – let them hear you pray for them the things that are on your heart – and when they begin to behave in answer to your prayer – let them know how pleased you are!

Occupy - yes, be occupied and teach your kids to stay occupied…it’s a whole lot better than spending your time picking up all those grains of rice!

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Has Yours Been Recorded?

Yesterday was the 4th of July – the day we celebrate the birth of our nation. We call it Independence Day because on that day we became a nation “independent” from the Kingdom of Great Britain. A great price was paid for our freedom by the founders of this great country. Our independence is recorded in the Declaration of Independence which we celebrate each year on the 4th of July.

Yesterday, I received a call from my 5-year old granddaughter Brooklynn letting me know that she got saved – meaning that she had received Christ as her personal Saviour. According to the Bible, yesterday was the day she was “born again” (John 3:3, “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”) Tears of joy streamed down my eyes as I heard my precious little granddaughter tell me of her great decision.

As I spoke with my son he told me all that had transpired, how that Brooklynn had told her mom in the afternoon that she wanted to get saved. Before leaving church she told her pastor that she was going to get saved when she got home. As her mom spoke with her and made sure she fully understood what she was doing and detailed the plan of salvation, my son recorded his first born daughter praying and asking the Lord to save her, trusting Him as her Saviour.

Here is the web page where you view the recording of Miss Brookie (as my husband affectionately calls her) praying with her mom; it is a special treasure for me to behold. As my husband and I were talking about how rare it is that someone would have their salvation “recorded” it struck me that truly there is a recording of everyone who gets saved…in heaven.

The Bible assures us that God records our lives in many ways...

“Also now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high.” Job 16:19

“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10

“Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” Psalms 56:8

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” Revelations 20:12

Clearly every event in our life in “recorded,” but the most important recording is of the time when a person receives Christ and has their name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelations 20:15

The Lord is patiently waiting for you to come to Him, to turn from your unbelief in His ability to save you to believing that indeed He is just as He said in John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us–ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2Peter 3:9

I began to ponder and realized that just as our country celebrates her birth as a nation and her freedom, our granddaughter too has been made free - free from sin. "But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin..." And just as our country's freedom was purchased with a price, great sacrifice - so the freedom from sin was purchased with great price - the blood of Christ our Saviour!

We have such joy in hearts knowing that our granddaughter had her name “recorded” in the Lamb’s Book of Life, in fact there has been quite a celebration going on. “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” I am praying that if your name hasn’t yet been recorded or written in the Lamb’s Book of Life that today would be YOUR day- your independence day! If you make that decision, please let me know so that we may share in that joy!

Have a wonderful day!