Tag Archives: obedience

Christian Response to Illegal Immigration

Standard

brandieIn recent months, thousands of illegal immigrant children have crossed over the Mexico border into the United States.  These children range in age from 17 down to 5 and 6 years old.  They are without parents or guardians, they do not speak the English language, and they are here without any belongings in a foreign country.  This volatile immigration crisis has already cost the United States $263 million this year alone, adding a substantial burden to our government’s pre-existing financial budget crisis.

I’ve read many statements and articles about this current immigration crisis, and to be honest, I’m not sure what my opinion should be.  My heart aches for these children who were so freely sent across the border and are now living in unknown territory with both hostile protestors wanting these children gone and friendly faces who are willing to take them in and give them the bare necessities to survive.  The judicious part of me recognizes this as complete disregard and disobedience towards the laws of this land and therefore they should be treated as illegal immigrants and sent back to their country.   But then I find myself asking again… is this what Christ would do to these children?

The subject of these illegal immigrant children has created great debates among politicians, educators, families and friends, and even church members.  Both sides of this debate are very passionate about their opinions and seek out to have their beliefs justified.  I read all of this and find myself asking… what should my response be?  And more importantly, what should my CHRISTIAN response be?  Putting my heart and feelings aside, what does the Bible tell me about illegal immigration?

Democrat or Republican, Christian or non-Christian, we all believe this one truth – if you enter into a country illegally, you are violating the nation’s laws.  There is a proper way to enter into a country and those laws are set in place not only for the country’s safety, but for those traveling as well.  As Christians, not only do we believe that it is against the law to illegally cross borders into another country, but that those illegal aliens are also breaking the laws of God.

This is what the Bible tells us about obeying our governing authorities in Romans 13:1-5: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.”

Whether we personally voted for or agree with our current government leaders, we must still respect them.  This means, we must respect their governing decisions whether we agree with them or not, knowing that God’s will is better than our own and that He will use every opportunity to bring others into His kingdom.  1 Peter 2:13-14 reminds us, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.”  This does not mean we must agree with them or refrain from sharing our opinion when asked, but we must speak with respect to our authority figures and governing officials.  We must believe that our elected officials will uphold the laws of the land and God.  We must believe that our government will find the best solution for those who break the laws and believe they will judge them accordingly because they have been given the divine authority to do so.  We must believe that our government will prevent similar situations from occurring again.  Whether or not our government enforces the established laws, the church (and individual Christians) should not knowingly support illegal activity.  To do so, would be breaking the will of God as well as condoning the sins of others, including illegal immigrants.  To be clear, those who violate the laws of the government are also violating the laws of God and this is sin; those who support or assist in the violating of the laws of both land and God is sinning.

At the very same time, Christians are called to have compassion and mercy for others, including those who have knowingly broken the laws.  We must somehow separate the fact that the citizens of Mexico have illegally sent their children across the border and broken the law.  We must express compassion and mercy in both our thoughts and our actions.  Our hearts must not be hardened to those who sin, regardless of age or circumstance.  Our hearts must not be hardened to those who illegally cross borders seeking refuge, work, or a better life for themselves and their family.

But dare I say that these children did not knowingly break the law but were likely forced to cross the border?  Would this change our hearts towards their status within our country?  Would we render aid faster, educate them, and feed and clothe them if we found out they were forced across borders and left behind parents and families who had already deserted them?  Would this make a difference in the eyes of God? 1 John 3:17 says, But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”  Regardless of how or why these small and vulnerable children entered our country, I think it would be best if we helped them on their feet and equipped them with skills and resources to go back to their country.  This might require our own citizens to help and render aid.

Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  As citizens of eternal heaven, Christians need to remember that we too have broken the laws of the land and the laws of God.  None of us are without sin.  The laws of land do vary in regards to the consequences served, but in the eyes of God, you sinned.  We have all disobeyed God and we all have the ability to accept His grace and mercy.  To show Christ to others, we must all extend that same grace and mercy to others.

Our best answer to the illegal immigration crisis right now can be found in Scripture and through the loving nature of our God. What is God calling you to do to help our country with this crisis?  How is God calling you to help these immigrant children?

———

You might also like:
1. Christian Response to Presidential Elections
2. The Fight Against Human Trafficking
3. Christian Response to the Legalization of Marijuana
4. Who Should Christians Vote For?
5. Grace and Mercy

Grace and Mercy

Standard

graceGod’s grace is likely one of the most esteemed and fundamental principles of the Christian faith.  As Christians, we have all been saved by the grace of God through salvation.  He promises us in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Grace is an unmerited gift from the Holy Spirit; it frees us from our sins.  There is no other way to please God than by accepting His mercy and grace, and living and walking daily in His presence.

However, grace doesn’t stop here.  Grace and mercy go hand in hand and both are something Christians need to be practicing and extending to others on a daily basis.  Grace began in the manifestation of God.  The greatest appearance of grace was the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, born to the unwed Virgin Mary.  We believe in Jesus Christ and believe that He died on the cross to bear our sins.  He lived a sinless and blameless life yet was scorned and shamed.  He was whipped and pierced for our transgressions.  He was labeled a criminal and hung on a cross.  He died a cruel and painful death because of our sins.  Jesus hung from the cross, gasping for air and spoke, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”  This is the saving grace of God.  Even as sinners, as people who mocked and rejected Him, He never abandoned His place on earth.  He went as far as to ask the Father to forgive us for the pain we caused Him as He hung and died on that cross.

We aren’t deserving of God’s grace and mercy yet we receive them and treasure them.  We put our faith in the heart of the Gospel that defines the true meaning of love.  And while we are never outside of God’s grace and mercy, as sinners we acknowledge the need for His merciful grace on a daily basis.

While we accept God’s grace and mercy, how well do we extend the same blessings to other people? Sin is sin in the eyes of God; our sin is no less than other peoples.  Are our family members, neighbors, and enemies beyond OUR grace and mercy?  Are their sins more grievous, is their lifestyle more sinful, is their life more in shambles than our own?  We all at one time or another reveled in our sins, and if some of us were to be honest, we may still be delighting in our sins behind closed doors.  We are all disobedient and we follow our sinful thoughts and desires.  We have all turned our backs on the Creator; we deserve our punishment for our wrongdoings.  But because God loved us unconditionally, because God is rich in His mercy and grace, we have been made alive in Christ Jesus.  It is by grace that we have been saved.  And yet so many Christians do not truly understand the meaning of grace and mercy.

What is your response when you see a person hurting?  What is your response when you see a person out of jail and looking for a job?  What about that homeless man asking for food or spare change?  What is your reaction to the LGBT community, persons from another faith, or people with a different skin color than you?  Do you offer up that same grace and mercy that Christ so freely gave to you?

The issue of extending grace has been heavy on my heart for years.  To be honest, it was not an easy lesson and one that I had to truly be mindful about.  It was too easy for me to look the other way, to ignore those who were different than me, or to simply shrug my shoulders at someone who was suffering the consequences for their own choices and actions.  What I learned through my lessons of grace was that I too could be suffering greatly from my own choices in life.  The difference was, that I accepted God’s grace for my life.  In the same way, we ought to be like Christ extending grace to others.  1 Peter 2:21 says this, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”

This is our test of faith.  How well do we truly accept and appreciate God’s grace?  Do we offer grace to others for their choices, even if their choices hurt or wronged us?  Do we love our neighbors as we love Christ?  Do we love our enemies well and ask God to bless them? Do you show mercy and compassion for those who are hurting or struggling in life?

Grace is a gift to us from God.  Let us not dismiss the example of Jesus Christ lest we become like the Pharisees who knew their bible and yet missed the heart of Christ.  Let us begin to extend grace and mercy to everyone we encounter.

———-

You might also like:
1. Blessed are the Peacemakers
2. What Should I Wear to Church?
3. Biblical Judgment
4. Dating and Sexual Purity
5. Why Go To Church?

What is Lent?

Standard

lent

Lent is the 40 day journey (excluding Sundays) set aside in the church calendar in preparation for Easter. The time spent during this period is to be devoted to prayer, repentance, and self -reflection of one’s life. Although not every church or denomination observes Lent, many Christians choose to observe this season as a way to keep their focus and shift their thoughts on the forthcoming death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Lent is not specifically mentioned in scriptures and therefore is not a command or requirement.

The rules for fasting during the Lent season vary from denomination and geographical location. Generally, those who fast during the Lent season, fast six days a week over the course of six weeks. Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent and was instituted to bring the exact number of fasting days before Easter to 40. The types of food and drink people fast from also vary but generally include meat, animal products, and soda. In some religions, the fasting modifications have relaxed drastically to make the process more simple and easy. Today though, Christians are still encouraged to give up something for Lent as a form of self-denial.

Another, less popular, Lent tradition is to limit your meals to just one per day. Traditionally, this meal would be eaten in the evening or at 3pm and should be void of meats and dairy. The absence of dairy products led to the tradition of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday (also known as Fat Tuesday) and the blessing of the Easter eggs. The Lent practices for fasting have evolved overtime to allow for additional meals for strength as well as eating fish, other meats, and dairy.

Does the number 40 sound familiar? The number 40 holds special significance for Christians. Moses spent 40 days and 40 nights on Mount Sinai in preparation to receive the 10 Commandments (Exodus 34:28). Elijah walked 40 days and 40 nights before the Lord appeared to him on the mountain of God (1 Kings 19:8). And the most importantly, Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness fasting while continually being tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:2). Ash Wednesday also symbolizes the beginning of Jesus’ 40 day fasting and prayer while in the wilderness.

The choice to observe Lent should be a personal decision. When deciding what to give up for Lent, do so with a grateful and humble heart. Don’t give up something that doesn’t take effort or act like a Pharisee and look for loopholes in the guidelines. Fasting without the desire to renew your relationship with Christ is a form of blasphemy. Whether you fast from something small, give up your meals during the day, or add something to your schedule during this season, the effects of atonement and self-discipline will astound you and your relationship with our Savior will forever be changed.

While the fasting practices have changed over the years, the intent for the Lent season has remained the same – to repent of your personal sins, to renew your faith and commitment to the Church, and to prepare your heart for the return of Jesus Christ. How do you strengthen your relationship with Christ during the Lent season?

Here are some great ways for your family to celebrate Lent together:

  • Begin a Lenten devotional that accommodates the whole family.
  • Read your Bible and be intentional about memorizing scriptures.
  • Simplify your schedules and eliminate luxuries.
  • Serve others with the hope of sharing Christ.
  • Replace urges with time spent in prayer.
  • Walk humbly and keep your focus on Jesus.  Don’t publicize your Lent practices and bring the attention on yourself.  This time is about reflection on Christ, not your personal accomplishments.

———-

You might also like:
1. What is Ash Wednesday?
2. Should Christians Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

What does the Bible Say About Pornography?

Standard

james115The term “pornography” is not mentioned in the Bible because books, movies, cellphones, computers, magazines, and televisions did not exist in biblical times.  However, God did know the sinful thoughts of man and gave us plenty of warning about sexual sins.  He gave us very solid moral teachings that can be found throughout the Bible about the many different types of inappropriate sexual behaviors.  Forbidden sexual acts specifically mentioned in the Bible as sin include homosexuality (1 Corinthians 6:9), sex with animals (Exodus 22:19), incest (Leviticus 18:6-18), idolatry (Deuteronomy 5:21), fornication and sex outside of marriage (Matthew 15:19), orgies (Galatians 5:19-21), adultery (Exodus 20:14), and even rape (Deuteronomy 22:25).  The penalty for these sins, as stated in the Bible, is death.

Romans 8:5-8 tells us, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”  God wants our minds and hearts to be pure of sinful thoughts and feelings.  He wants us to keep our focus on heavenly things and ignore the sins of the flesh that crave our attention.  When we view pornography, when our attention is focused on lust and adultery, we cannot do the will of God.  We must be “transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

Christians also need to remember that our bodies are not our own.  1 Corinthians 3:16 reads, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”  As believers, the Holy Spirit lives in our bodies.  He is there to help us discern right from wrong; He is our conscious who speaks to us in times of need.  Our bodies are meant for the dwelling of our Lord, not for immoral sexual pleasures.  I dare say that it breaks our Father’s heart when we disrespect and use the good and perfect body God created in His very own image.

Pornography and lust destroys human relationships!  It dictates the satisfaction of your heart and only leaves you wanting more.  Pornography robs your joy and steals your heart.  It leaves broken hearts and shattered marriages, broken and molested children, addicted adults, wrecked and shamed teenagers.  God didn’t intend for those things to attract our hearts.  He wants us to hold true to His teachings and wants us to experience sex and love fully when married.

It is true that Christ died for our sins.  While we have freedom and redemption in Christ, we do not have freedom to sin.  As fully committed Christians who have given our life over to Christ, we must strive to live a life like Christ.  While we can never truly achieve this goal because Christ was the perfect and sinless man, we can make it our goal every day to attempt to live sin-free.  Fighting sin and temptation is part of walking with Christ.  Taking those temptations and handing them over to Christ and then leaning on Him for strength is part of walking with Christ.  Christianity is about avoiding sin and keeping our minds and hearts pure.

Christianity is also about forgiveness.  Jesus dies for us, while we were sinners.  He chose to walk this earth and take the brutal punishment of death on a cross so that we would be forgiven of our sins and live a life eternally in heaven.  Forgiveness is not a license to sin.  Once we commit our lives to Christ, we make a stand for Christ and adhere to immoral sexual behaviors.  We must strive to fight sin at all costs.  Fight the urge to look at pictures, to gawk and lust after a stranger or famous person, fight the urge to stop at the bar or adult club on your way home, and fight the desire to befriend members of the opposite sex.  Satan wants nothing more than to find your weakness; he will take hold of it and make it his goal to ruin your walk with Christ.  Give God the glory and fight temptation!

Turn your back on all kinds of pornography.  Ask a fellow Christian of the same sex to hold you accountable.  Keep your hearts and mind focused on the things of Christ and fight the temptation of satan.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your
mind. Then you will be able to test and approve
what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect
will. For by the grace given me I say to every one
of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than
you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober
judgment, in accordance with the faith God has
distributed to each of you.
Romans 12:2-3

———-

You might also like:
1. Dating and Sexual Purity
2. Christians and Modesty
3. Christians and Biblical Marriage
4. Homosexuality and the Bible
5. Biblical Judgment

DRESSing Respectably

Standard

modestyThe homecoming season is upon us and dress shopping is well underway for many teenage girls. It saddens me that what was once an opportunity to get all dressed-up and feel beautiful and fancy for an evening as now turned into a competition to who can wear the most provocative and “sexy” dress possible.  When did this change take place?  And why aren’t more parents taking a stand and commanding their daughters to turn away from this new trend and requiring their daughters to dress more appropriately?  Whatever happened to dressing modestly and demanding respect from boys?

What I want teenage girls (and their mommas) to understand is that wearing fancy dresses that are strapless, enhance and display your cleavage, or barely cover your backside, does NOT demand respect from your date.  As a matter of fact, when a boy sees so much bare skin around your shoulders, breasts, and legs, their minds automatically begin to undress you.  It’s too easy for them to mentally remove your clothes when you’re already half-dressed.  Surely this isn’t what you want from your date?  “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 6:19-20.  If your body is a temple for God, would He be pleased that you are showing so much of your skin to someone other than your spouse?  Would the Lord God be pleased that your chosen dress for the evening was done with the intent to be “sexy” and to “tempt” teenage boys?

As Christians, we have two choices when dress shopping – we can pick a dress that is modest and pleasing in the eyes of our Lord OR choose to look sexy and invite temptation (also known as sin).  As a Christian, it is your duty to be fully clothed at all times, even for school dances like Homecoming and Prom.  If you want your date to treat you respectfully, you must help him keep his eyes on your face and his mind clear of sin.  Don’t be the temptation that allows our teenage boys to stumble.  Mommas, help your daughters be the princesses they’ve always wanted to be.

Finding a dress that is modest and beautiful is not difficult.  I’ve personally seen dresses that have straps, cover your breasts, are longer than two inches below your bottom, and do not reveal every curve of your teenager’s body.  Those dresses are out there!  Be in prayer for God to lead you to the right dress, to the right store, and to give you and your daughter wisdom and guidance when dress shopping.  Be honest with your daughter about choosing a dress; remind her that her body is a temple for the Holy Spirit and that they should adorn themselves with respectable clothing.  Teach them to want to be pleasing in the eyes of the Lord and to demand admiration and reverence from their dates.  Teach them to take a stand for Christ!

———-

You might also like:
1. Dating and Sexual Purity
2. Modesty and Swimwear
3. Testimony – A String Around My Heart
4. What Should I Wear to Church?
5. Christians and Modesty

Testimony – God Had Bigger Plans for Our Family

Standard

testimony

I was raised in a loving home with parents who cared for me and provided for me. It was not, however, what I would call a “Christian” environment. My parents both professed to be believers, but we rarely went to church.  If I did go it was either for Easter or Christmas or after spending the night with my grandparents.  We didn’t read the Bible or pray together and I was not taught biblical truth. Around age 10, my grandma sent me to pre-teen camp with her church and that is where I was “SAVED”. After camp I tried to get my family to go to church; we tried a few different churches but didn’t really connect anywhere.

For the next few years I became quite confused. I spent a few weeks every summer with a family member who belonged to a Unitarian Church which basically teaches that whatever you choose to believe in is okay.  The church openly studies all different religions believing none are right or wrong, just different. Not being told any differently, I began to agree with them.  Although I knew who Christ was and had accepted Him as my Savior, I also had the opinion that my life was MINE and I was capable of making my own decisions, without any consequences.

I began to spend a lot of time with my best friend at her house along with her older brother and his friends where there was NO parental supervision.  As a teenager, I was very interested in boys and with the lack of supervision this was not a good combination.  I began to find ways to get the boys to notice me.  And they did. I wore clothes that were too tight, too short, and way to revealing.  And they noticed. I began making out with boys much older than me hoping for love and acceptance. Not to say my parents weren’t around or didn’t care because they did, I just got to be really great at lying and sneaking around and they had no idea what I was doing.  This behavior eventually led to me deciding I was “grown” and, at the extremely misguided age of 13, I had sex for the first time. I had convinced myself that I could make my own decisions and lead my own life without the need for any adult’s guidance.  The guy that I thought cared for and LOVED me really didn’t.

When I was 14 my family moved to Greenville, TX but I continued down the path of bad choices and bad boys who were much too old for me.  I tried dating a guy my age and he was a really nice guy; he was a gentleman, treated me respectfully, and didn’t push me physically.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know what to do with that!  I still was not going to church, not growing spiritually, and was living like a lost soul.

This is when God intervened. When I was 15, I met the guy I would eventually marry. His dad was a preacher and one of the conditions of dating him was going to his dad’s church.  Only one problem… it was all in Spanish!! I didn’t speak Spanish, didn’t know what they were talking about, and stayed confused most of the time. But I loved that guy!  Although not many changes were being made in my life, I began to learn Spanish and pay closer attention in church.

We were married when I was just 17 years old and had our first baby when I was 20. While we were still attending church with my in-laws, if we went at all, I just wasn’t being filled.  After I had my second child at the age of 22, we began the search for a new church. Once again God stepped in!  We found a church and got connected instantly; which is where we still worship today.  I began to crave more knowledge and wanted to know more about the Bible and live my life for God, not just for myself.  We had two more children when I was 25 and 28.  All four of our children were girls. Life was good. Although I had worked full-time on and off and part-time here and there, I was able to stay home majority of the time with my girls.

I was truly happy with our family but knew something was missing.  I longed for a son and repeatedly prayed for one and pleaded with God that if that was not part of His plan for my life to take that desire from me.  Just three days after giving birth to our fourth beautiful baby girl, I became ill. I spent some time in the hospital with strep and went home not knowing that the illness had caused a blood clot to form somewhere in my body.  Two months later I returned to the hospital with a pulmonary embolism and was told that if it was meant to kill me, it would have done so already.  Quite a sobering thought but God had bigger plans for my life and our family.  A loving husband, three gorgeous little girls, a two-month old precious baby, two great parents, and an amazing group of friends were all there to love on me and take care of me. What more could I have asked for? God had richly blessed me! So why did I still have a need for more? Why was I still longing for a baby boy?  I had been told by my physician that I could not have any more children.  This was something my husband and I had already decided on our own since we had four girls (that’s expensive) but being told you cannot have any more children and having someone else make that choice for you are two VERY different things.  But life went on.

In the fall of 2008, we got a strange call.  My mom had called to give us the latest saga about a family member of ours.  His two children had been removed from his care by CPS. This was actually good news for the children since he really had no business raising these kids.  We had been praying for a good home for them and a stable family to come into their lives for quite some time.  My mom proceeded to tell us of how CPS was looking for a family member to place the boys with and they had asked my parents to be that family member for them.  My parents were in their late 50s at this point with 9 grandchildren.  Needless to say, they declined.

As my husband and I were discussing the situation and how outrageous it was for them to ask my parents, my husband tells me that God was telling him that WE are supposed to be the family for those two young boys.  Now wait a minute! I love my girls but there were times I couldn’t wait to get all of them out of the house for a few hours a day! I had the older ones in school and I just had the little one at home with me during the day and had been devising a plan to get her into Mother’s Day out program. I must say though, we had also always been open to the idea of adoption and after 4 girls we teased that it was the only way we would get our boy, but this seemed so sudden and we weren’t quite prepared yet.  We agreed to pray about it, made some calls and asked some questions, but made no commitments.

One October evening I received a phone call from a social worker and was told what the process would look like and got some general information.  By this time, our prayers had changed from “Are you sure, God?” to “If this is what you want, then we trust you will make this happen”. The very next day, we received another phone call from the same social worker, that there was an infant sibling, also in state care, and asking, “Are you willing to consider placement for him as well?” STOP IT! THREE KIDS! THREE MORE KIDS? We already have four children! I mean really, who has seven kids? Nobody! [Insert more prayer here.] We just continued our prayer of, “Ok God, this is ALL you.” We decided that they were all brothers and needed to stay together. How could we one day face the two boys when they are older and say “We knew you had a brother, but that would have been too much of an inconvenience for us, so we decided to say no thanks”? We simply couldn’t do it.

We had many talks with our girls and wanted this to be a family decision. We wanted them aware of the coming changes in our lives and not to feel this was being forced on them. We began to make the necessary arrangements and to have weekly visitations at CPS with the boys. The visits were intended to be for the parents, but they hardly ever showed. We didn’t want to cause any more undue trauma for these little guys and wanted them to at least be familiar with us before they came to live with yet another family. Our two oldest boys were placed with us at ages 21 & 31 months old in February of 2009. Our youngest daughter was 18 months old at the time and had been to most of the visits with us.

There was ALOT of adjusting for everyone and a move to a bigger house; it was quite stressful, exhausting, and emotional to say the least. The Mother’s Day Out program our daughter had attended a few years earlier, wonderfully “scholarshiped” us for about 4-5 months for my sanity. Then summer activities began in addition to parent visitations with their biological parents and fighting for our youngest to be placed with us as well.  He was eventually placed in our care in October 2009 at the age of 11 months.

Although I always felt led to homeschool, even before our oldest daughter started school, the timing had just never seemed right. Our three oldest girls were in public school and our oldest boy had just begun Head Start.  He was not adjusting very well to all these transitions including school and the addition of our youngest boy.  After another move, more home studies, and more waiting, our adoption was FINALLY complete in July 2010. After a CRAZY fall semester of five kids at two different schools, two at Mother’s Day Out, a child with a broken femur, and me feeling pulled in multiple directions, God was telling us it was time to homeschool.  We pulled them out of school in January of 2011 and started our bumpy and blessed road to homeschooling. Our oldest two children were NOT happy at the time.  The 6th grader had been in either public or private school since age four and felt we were taking away her life, the 4th grader was mad because we had taken away her friends, and our oldest boy in 1st grade didn’t really seem to care either way. Our oldest child will be in high school this next school year (September 2013) and when given the choice, she chose to continue homeschooling.  In fact they all did!

It is an adventure everyday to say the least and most days are completely nuts but we won’t ever go back to public school voluntarily. I’ll admit there are days I dream about how much I could accomplish with everyone gone for 8 hours a day, but what we’re building in them every day is so much more important than homework and completed projects. I’ve told them that it would be easier for me to put them in school and let someone else teach them, but life isn’t about doing the easy thing.  It’s about doing the right thing, which means obeying God. This is what God has called us to do during this season of our lives and this is what we are going to do. I love our time together and for our large family it works perfectly. We set our own schedule and are able to keep it extremely flexible. While we didn’t have problems with the school system or any of their teachers or schools, we didn’t do well with an ISD telling us when to be where at what time and am so happy we don’t have to deal with all the new rules due to current events or any standardized testing. When I hear other parents complain about school related issues, I feel complete contentment in my heart and hear God reassuring me we are doing what He has planned for us.

About 7 years ago I got involved in a Women’s Bible study, and about 2 and a half years ago God put it on my heart to get involved with the youth.  God has been telling me to use my past mistakes and experiences to mentor young girls and help them from making the same mistakes I made as a youth. Seeing as I now have seven souls in my care, I am very passionate about teaching them God’s plan for sex and marriage.  I want them to know what I didn’t know then.  God gives us guidelines to follow in all areas of our lives for our benefit.  He knows what He is talking about. Sex is a BIG deal, it DOES matter, and it does change things!  Sex is not something you can undo.  Even though God offers forgiveness and grace, there are consequences for our sinful choices, and some can be life-long costs. I’m now trying to help young ladies to see the lies the devil is telling them and to know that the attention they receive from dressing “cute” is not the right kind of attention they really want. I truly believe that most girls don’t understand what guys are thinking when they wear certain things. Please hear my heart on this… I know from personal experience, if you don’t wait until you are married to have sex, you WILL regret it.  I don’t want that for anyone!  Sex is meant to be a special gift from God for a husband and a wife. My hope is that we can drown out the constant barrage of lies from our culture and raise-up a generation who treasures purity, a generation who is proud of their virginity and not ashamed of it, and a generation who will follow God’s plan for their lives. My hope is that we can raise a generation of Christians who can change the world for Christ.

I hope my story can help someone on a similar path. May God richly bless you as He has me!

-Lany

Christian Response to Miley Cyrus VMA Performance

Standard

mileyOur family didn’t watch the VMA’s because quite frankly we didn’t expect anything wholesome or appropriate from the awards show.  I did, however, watch Miley’s performance on YouTube after my social media accounts were flooded with improper and derogatory comments about the poor girl, not only about her performance but about her actual life and her eternity as well.  I knew I also needed to watch the performance because, like much of America, I have teenage children in my house and needed to know what the appropriate response to their questions and statements should be.

I watched and immediately felt horror for this poor innocent child who has clearly been affected by the outside world.  What must this child, and yes Miley Cyrus is still a child at the young age of 20, have been taught (or not taught) to think this public behavior is okay?  How have we failed these Disney stars that continually seem to fall so far from their previous innocent roles on public television?

And ever so humbly, God reminded me of my teenage years.  How thankful I am that I wasn’t in the public eye for so many people who did not know me to judge my worth and eternal value!   I’m fairly certain I would have failed that test.  God reminded me that he views all sins as sins and that my sin of laziness or losing my temper with my children are just as equal in the eyes of God, which is far more important than what man believes.

As Christians, we should not be bashing this poor girl so hatefully and most definitely not so publicly.  In fact, we should not be condemning her at all.  This is where we, as Christians, must use discernment and practice biblical judgment.  Our judgment should simply be that we do not want our children listening to her music or seeing the VMA video.  Our biblical judgment must stop there.

We sin when our judgments defy the command from Paul in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”  It pains me to see my brothers and sisters in Christ talk so poorly of this child of God while failing to remember their times of disobedience and immoral choices.

John 8:7 says, “And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Are you my fellow Christian willing to throw that first stone?  Are you willing to bear ALL your sins on your social media status or on national television?

I challenge you brothers and sisters to spend time in prayer for Miley Cyrus.  Every time you hear about her racy video, see a comment about her life or eternity, or see the inappropriate pictures people are posting about her, to simply pray for her.  How might her life be changed if all Christians stood in the gap in complete and humble prayer for her soul?  What might her testimony be after she encounters the Holy Spirit after un-judging Christians fell to their knees and prayed for her redemption?

This should be our response.  Will you join me in praying for her?

———-

You might also like:

1. Biblical Judgment
2. Homosexuality and the Bible
3. Christian Response to Presidential Election
4. Dating and Sexual Purity
5. Christians and Modesty

Dating and Sexual Purity

Standard

LoveSexual purity seems like such a foreign concept in our current society but really the issue of sex, purity, and even dating needs to be talked about more often and even to every generation.  Sex has become so casual that we now see it boldly displayed on TV, in movies, plastered on billboards, in our hands on mobile devices, and even carelessly mentioned in songs that we sing.  The temptation to have sex before marriage is becoming more and more prevalent as images constantly infiltrate the minds of us all.  It’s past time we get back to the fundamentals of our biblical standards for sex and relationships.

Here is what the Bible says about purity:

1 Corinthians 6:18 – Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 – 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;

Hebrews 13:4 – Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

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

Colossians 3:5 – Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Galatians 5:19-21 – Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Proverbs 6:32 – He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself.

And these verses are just to name a few!  The Bible is very firm on the commandment to remain pure and abstain from sexual immorality and lust.  Not in ANY verse in the Holy Bible will you find a divergence that allows for sex outside of marriage, for an approved opportunity to lust, or for the exception to adultery.  Purity is a commandment from God and we must adhere to the standards God has placed in our lives so that we may live righteously and pleasing in the eyes of God.  It’s the path best made for us, why would we not want this for ourselves?

Sex before marriage HAS and CAN ruin lives.  So how do we steer clear of the temptation and desires that society is persistently throwing in our face?  The best way to stay pure is to keep our hearts wholesome and avoid situations that make us think about taking that next step in a relationship.

For our family, this starts at dating.  We’ve remained very clear on our stance of dating in our home – if you aren’t looking for a lifetime spouse, then you should not be dating.  Simple solution!  The sole purpose of dating is to find a spouse and when you enter into a relationship, there our physical and emotional boundaries that will need to be set beforehand to guard to your heart.  If you always remain in a cluster of friends, these boundaries are never a factor to be considered.  Relationships are about commitments and our youth should not be making any sort of commitment to anyone, other than to God.  And even as adults, our first commitment is still to God, then our spouse.  Our hearts need to be mindful on living a Christ-like life and pleasing to our Father.  Matthew 5:8 reads, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  We must trust God with ALL of our lives and ALL our hearts and when He sees fit that you are ready for marriage, He will show you the perfect helpmate.  Really, dating is not ever necessary if we fully rely on God and have faith that He will bring the perfect person before you.

We must want purity and clean hearts for our children.  We must talk about it, teach it, and live these same standards for the younger generations to see.  We teach our children to not put themselves in any situation where they will have to decide which path to take.  We teach our children that they were created in the image of God, that they are enough, and that they do not need to seek the approval of anyone other than Jesus Christ.  We teach our children that satan is real and he will use every opportunity to hinder their walk with Christ and want nothing more than to lead them down an ugly path and away from Jesus.  We teach them to rely on Christ daily and in all circumstances.

Passion and sex is a beautiful thing, no question about it.  It is a gift from God… but to be used with our spouse.  This does not just imply sex, but emotional attachments as well.  Any attachment made to a person outside of marriage, changes your life and satan will use these past experiences to haunt you and tempt you as an adult.  He has used this tactic for centuries and you will not be exempt from his schemes.  He isn’t creative!  He simply twists God’s truths and we continue to cling to those lies with excuses – God wants us to love others; God created sex; What if this person I’m dating is the right one; But we’ve setup boundaries; etc. If you have to “guess” if someone may be the one, then they aren’t.  Have faith in Him.  Trust God with your life and follow His prompting to remain pure in heart, mind, and body.

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”  When you are tempted, stop and listen to the direction God wants for you.  Your body is a temple for God, treat it with respect and pleasing in the eyes of our Father.

For those who have already made this decision, you need to accept God’s grace and redemption for your life.  We all fail; we all attempt to walk a path that we think is best for us.  Christ came for us and died on the cross for our sins.  He shed His blood for all sin.  God knows we can’t walk this life alone and sometimes He allows us to make our own negative choices so that we can fall and come to see our need for Him.  While He doesn’t want us to fail or see us hurt, He allows us free will so that we can recognize our need for a Savior.  You can tell your testimony and be a light to those who are struggling.

Psalm 119:133 – Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.

——————–

You might also like:
1. Christians and Biblical Marriage
2. Value Life
3. Homosexuality and the Bible
4. Christians and Modesty
5. Honor Your Parents

Furious Love Review and Giveaway

Standard

Furious-Love-Home-Page-Design

Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked
with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it. -Mark 16:20

While God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts
of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. -Hebrews 2:4

So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness
to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. -Acts 14:3

The amazingly raw and incredible films, Finger of God and Furious Love, both created by Wanderlust Productions, set out to reveal modern day miracles through God’s mighty power.  But more than just miraculous events happen; God’s heart for His people is exposed as well as the war between good and evil.  The films prove the hand of God in everyday action and the amazing love He has for each of His children.

The Furious Love Event Collection is a documentary response to these two films with the sole purpose to inspire churches worldwide to spread the Gospel through the amazing wonders and love of God.  The speakers from the hit films came together in April 2011 with the intent to inspire and charge the church to “love radically, love excessively, and, above all, go and be the hands of God.”

The inspirational speakers include:
Heidi Baker
Rolland Baker
Shampa (Shanti) Rice
Robby Dawkins
Philip Mantofa
Angela Greenig
Mattheus van der Steen
Greg Boyd
Will Hart

Who doesn’t want to be inspired by God?  And who doesn’t want to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ?  Within just minutes of hearing their testimonies, you too will be completely inspired to set out within your own community and travel throughout the world to preach the good news of Jesus Christ.  Your heart will be forever changed and empowered to prove God’s love for all of humanity time and time again.  Your mind will be transformed as you take a deeper look into the realms of good and evil.  Your mission for Christ will become so stimulated that you will ache to spread the word of God immediately!

You can order each individual event separately or you can order the complete 11 box set online for just $114.89.  Other products from Wanderlust Productions include the original films Finger of God, Furious Love, and the most recent Father of Lights.  Additional products include books, music, and video downloads.

The good news….

The Judgmental Christian has been blessed with the opportunity to offer this COMPLETE 11 box Furious Love Event Collection to one of our readers for FREE.  What a blessing to be able to share these inspirational and spiritual films to one of our readers!  Thank you Wanderlust Productions for this unique occasion.

To enter the giveaway, click HERE to learn how you can enter for a chance to have this box set.

What Should I Wear to Church?

Standard

These-ARE-my-church-clothesSomeone recently asked me what I thought about how people should dress for church.  Honestly, my first reaction was, “who really cares?!”  Not too long after this, I heard some friends complaining about how their church members dress for church and again I wondered why this really matters.  But apparently some have a very strong opinion about what someone ought to wear to church.  I’ve spent some time in my Bible and prayer and these are the scriptures that I continue to fall back on:

1 Samuel 16:7 – But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

1 Peter 3:3-4 – Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

We are called to worship in everything we do.  It says in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  Our lives should be a constant worship of our Creator.  The difference between worshiping daily and worshiping at a scheduled church gathering is the actual worship time and that it’s with a community of believers.  Why should our appearance be any different at the different places of worship?  The Bible tells us that we should not consider our outward appearances, but our hearts.  When we put too much energy into what we wear, especially if it’s just to please others at church, we are sinning against God’s word.  Our hearts during worship is what our Heavenly Father is looking at, not our outward appearances.   Our hearts must be in the right place and focused on our worship toward our God.

Likewise, if you are bothered by what others are wearing in church, your heart and mind are not focused on worship; your heart and mind rather are focused on others’ outward appearances.  This is a sin.  If this is something you struggle with, turn to God and ask Him to clear your mind for worship.

1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own.”  This doesn’t mean just on Sundays; it means every day our bodies are a temple for God.  Every day we should be worshipping and every day we should be mindful about our appearances.  Every day we should be modestly dressed and in preparation for worship throughout our day.

Some may choose to attend church in their absolute best clothing.  And this is okay.  Rather than worry about the appearances of others, devote time in prayer that your appearance will lead others to dress in their Sunday best.  Ask God for a more gracious and forgiving heart, and seek opportunities to clothe others if they are lacking in clothing.  And remember, if Christ came to your church wearing the only garments He owned, you wouldn’t turn your back on Him because he wasn’t in a designer suit.  Likewise, don’t turn your backs on those not dressed up in the fanciest clothing as they may already be wearing their best.  As we all grow in our walk, we are continually transformed and there is nothing wrong with wanting to “present” ourselves to our Father in an honoring fashion.

We must praise God for those who are in church, regardless of their apparel.  Hallelujah!!  People are coming to church!  What a blessing that the church doors are flooding with people who want to hear the word of God and come just as they are!  How sad it is that some of us are scoffing at mere appearances rather than seeking their hearts.  Welcome them in, have a servant’s heart, and be a witness for Christ!

Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  There should be no judgment on what others may be wearing to church.  Let God, not man, convict their hearts to wearing clothing that honors our body as a temple.

——————–

You might also like:
1. Why Go to Church?
2. Christians and Modesty
3. Modesty and Swimwear
4. No Other Gods
5. Christians and Biblical Marriage