Friday, March 29, 2013

Love the World but Do Not Agree with Them

In case you have missed it, the debate of same sex marriage has become quite the to do.  From individuals, to companies, to churches - everyone seems to be picking a side.  In fact, I rightly did so myself.  However, while I was speaking truth and Biblical fact (marriage should be between one man and one woman), I was carelessly venting and, more than likely, affected my witness.

You see, we can and SHOULD speak the truth, no matter what the consequences.  Just because we are speaking truth in saying the marriage is for one man and one woman, does NOT mean that we hate homosexuals.  In fact, we are called to love them as Christ loved them: unashamed with arms wide open.  But there is a difference between love and approving of someone's opinion.

Job 27:5-6

5 Far be it from me that I should declare you right;Till I die I will not put away my integrity from me.
6 I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go.
My heart does not reproach in any of my days.

For a little bit of a background here, Job's friends were trying to tell him that he has messed up somewhere, that he had sinned, that he was wrong.  While Job loved his friends, I am sure, he still knew that they were wrong and he was right.  That is where these words come from - Job is rightly sticking up for himself.

"Declare you right" is translated from the Hebrew verb tsadaq.  The lexicon explains that the interpretation of tsadaq in this case should be something along the lines of "to declare any one to have given a right approve of any one's opinion" (Gesenius' Lexicon).  Job did not approve of their opinion and he let them know it!  For if he approved of their opinion, he would be forsaking his integrity.  After all, "If we must not bear false witness against our neighbor, then not against ourselves" (Henry).

The same goes for us.  If we approve of the popular opinion of man right now (same-sex marriage is okay), we are forsaking our own integrity.  Just for clarification purposes, defines 'integrity' as "adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty."  As Christians, our moral and ethical code is taken from the Bible.  The Bible clearly says that homosexuality is wrong (and not just in the Old Testament).

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 fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, not the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (emphasis added)

We cannot just pick and choose what people on that list are "still" unrighteous in today's world.  Every single thing on that list can most definitely be applied to today's culture, no argument.  And for further clarification purposes, in case you are wondering, 'homosexual' is translated from the Greek word arsenokoites meaning "one who lies with a male as with a female" (Strong's G733).

We cannot get around it.  Homosexuality is a sin.  If we are approving of the world's opinion, we have already "put away" our integrity (vs. 5).  'Put Away' or cuwr means "to turn aside, depart" (Strong's H5493).  Do not depart from your integrity!  Do not approve of the world's opinion, do not declare them right!

In fact, if we truly love them, we must stand for the truth for "saying it's okay is enabling them from following God's plan" (quoted from a dear friend).  We are pushing them further from righteousness when we approve of their opinion.  That is not, and never will be, love.  For more on this topic, check out this article I stumbled across on Facebook.

Today I challenge you to be like Job: Hold fast to your righteousness and do not let it go.  Stand for the truth.  Do not let your heart find fault with (reproach) you (  Love the world but do not agree with them.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Thai-ed Together" Date Night...or Day...

This might be a little bit late but I wanted to share about our Valentine date this year!  Hubby and I have decided to switch off who does Valentine's day and our Anniversary each year.  He chose to start with our Anniversary so that means I got Valentine's day this year!  Thanks to some inspiration from the girls over at The Dating Divas, I had a great time planning a whole day full of fun!

Since the holiday was actually a Thursday, I decided to postpone our fun until Saturday.  But I did surprise Hubby with a large part of his gift and an invite for our date on Thursday!

While I was at work, he came home to find this:

I got this free printable here from Erika at The Dating Divas.

This tiny little printable gave me the inspiration for our whole day!  Since it talked about being "tied" together and we love Thai food so much...I thought it was perfect - we would have a Thai/Asian themed date day!

Well, Hubby followed the string to his gift where I attached the invitation to our date (I made this one all by myself).

 Cheesy?  Yep.  Love it!

Saturday morning Hubby went to the men's fellowship breakfast at our church giving me just enough time to set up and prepare for the day.  I couldn't find a lot of budget friendly asian decor but I managed to find bamboo placemats at Ross and some paper lanterns and fans at Walmart (on clearance!).  Set up with the tea set my brother got me for Christmas and traditional Thai music playing on Youtube, we had our own little Asian oasis!

We started the morning with some hot tea and strawberries.  And of course, we had to eat the berries with chopsticks (I found a 10 pack at the Dollar Tree)!  Then I brought out the first activity I had planned for the day:

A 3-D puzzle of a dragon!  Micheals had this puzzle and a hand full of others for only $5!  Plus I had a 40% off coupon - we are all about being budget friendly!  :)

Hubby had popped out most of the pieces before I asked if he realized they were all slightly different sizes.  Turns out, all of the pieces were numbered and we had to pop them all back in to figure out what was what.  Oops! 

When it was close to lunch time, we took a break from puzzling to snack on the "asian" snacks I found at Five Below (if you don't know what that is, the name says it all).  When we eat out on weekends we try to aim for a late lunch/early dinner so that we can still get lunch prices and save some moolah for other things!

 We managed to get all of the peices together before leaving for our meal.  Doesn't he look great?

This is the part of my date that flopped.  I looked on Yelp to find the ONLY Thai restuarant in the city that served "Jungle Chicken Curry," a usual order of Justin's from our favorite Thai place in OKC.  He looks for it on the menu of every new Thai place we try...  So we get there at 2:32...turns out they close from 2:30 - 5:00 for a break between lunch and dinner.  Yelp lied to me.  :(  Fortunately, we were only 6 miles away from a Thai place we had recently tried and loved.  We had a great meal and great time but I'm still bummed that Justin didn't get his Jungle Chicken Curry...

After we got home, we painted our dragon and played the game "Wok Tok" (you can find it here from Kiirsten at The Dating Divas).  This game is a lot like Mad Gab but with an Asian title and a romantic twist.  We had a blast!

After painting our dragon for awhile (the whole puzzle took much longer than expected), we ended the night with Thai massage!  I found a few different "how-to" videos on Youtube and we took turns massaging each other.  It was the perfect end to a romantic "thai-ed" together day!

I hope this gives you some inspiration to be creative (and, yes, a little cheesy) when it comes to date night!  Marriage does NOT have to be boring.  And if you haven't already....please, please, please go check out The Dating Divas, they are truly doing a great thing!  And they have a TON of great stuff!  Thanks to them, I've got date night ideas for the next few years I think! ;)

Have a good one!


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

In the Face of Pain

"...pain insists upon being attended to.  God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." - C.S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain

When we speak of pain, one person from the Bible continually comes up.  Job.  He lost absolutely everything.  It would have been so easy for him to curse God, to turn away and never look back, as Satan hoped he would.  But he didn't.  Instead, the pain that was meant to drive Job away from God, drove him closer to God.  

I recently learned that my grandfather was a living example of Job.  When he was faced with pain, he was driven closer to God.  Him and Grandma lost a baby, Susan.  She was born early and didn't make it.  In those days, the doctors didn't even let you see the baby when things like this happened.  They never even got to meet the child they had so eagerly anticipated.  It was through this time that Grandma first saw a change in him - he started seeking God and becoming a different man.  Then, awhile later, Grandma and my Uncle Tim were electrocuted and remained in the hospital for some time.  Mom remembers him crying in the middle of the night, "God, I need you."  He probably didn't understand why these things happened, but he knew where to turn - very much like Job.    

The final days of Grandpa's life, my family and I stayed by his side.  He knew what was coming and he was okay with it, in fact, I truly believe he was joyful.  Although his body and mind kept him from fully communicating with us, I could see it in his face - after a horrid battle with Louie Body Dementia, he was finally at peace...he was finally going Home.  

These words from Job 19 provide the words Grandpa couldn't speak out loud.  I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, his heart was screaming this proclamation:

25 As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.
26 Even after my skin is destroyed,
Yet from my flesh I shall see God;
27 Whom I myself shall behold,
And whom my eyes will see and not another.
My heart faints within me!

In the face of pain, no matter what the cause, turn to God, not away from Him.  Make that choice right now and see what a difference it will make.

Love you and miss you.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Know Exactly Where You Stand

The end of class was closing in quickly.  I kept glancing at the clock.  Only a few more minutes...

"Class is dismissed.  Lord willing, I will see you tomorrow."  

I grabbed all of my stuff and rushed to the hall where I could check my class standings.  I scan the page, find my number, and breath a sigh of relief.  Still good.  Still an A.

It was always nice to know my standings.  And college was not the only place I cared.  At the end of each quarter my junior and senior year of high school I would rush to the office to find out my class ranking - I was SO close to being salutatorian...but in the end I managed only third...

Regardless, it was still nice to always know where I stood.  Have you ever had that feeling?  You just want to know where you stand with someone?  Well, guess what? In Job, we find a recipe for us to know exactly where we stand with God!

Job 11:13-15 - If you would direct your heart right / And spread out your hand to Him, / 14 If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, / And do not let wickedness dwell in your tents; / 15 Then, indeed, you could lift up your face without moral defect, / And you would be steadfast and not fear.

A friend of Jobs, Zophar thought he held the answer to Jobs suffering.  Job didn't need this advice, though, as he could already be steadfast and without fear in the presence of the Lord.  Job was a good man through and through.

However, Zophar's advice is great advice!  Had Job not known his standing with the Lord this advice might have done the trick.  Zophar lays it out step by step:

1. If you would direct your heart right... (vs. 13a)
        First and foremost, we need to make sure our heart is in the right place.  'Direct' in the Hebrew is kuwn (pronounced like 'coon') meaning, "to be firm, be stable, be established" (Strong's H3559).  In other words, we need to make sure that our heart is firm and established in the right place - in God.  This phrase also suggests that the heart "that was defiled with sin and put into disorder must be cleansed and put in order again" (Henry).  In order for our hearts to be established in Christ, as they should be, they must be cleansed from all sin.  We must repent of the things we have done wrong and return to what is right.

2. And spread out your hand to Him... (vs. 13b)
        There are a couple of different view points here.  First, Wesley views it as a change of approach: "...turning thy bold contentions with God into humble supplications."  Or as Matthew Henry states, "To give the hand to the Lord signifies to yield ourselves to Him and to covenant with Him."    


       That is the word that jumps out at me from all of this.  We have to surrender.  Surrender isn't easy, in fact C.S. Lewis notes in The Problem of Pain, "The full acting out of self's surrender to God...demands pain..."  This giving up of ourselves is going to hurt.  But Lewis continues, "Human will becomes truly creative and truly our own when it is wholly God's, and this is one of the many senses in which he that loses his soul shall find it."  We must surrender to His will, to His ways if we are to ever truly live.

3. If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away / And do not let wickedness dwell in your tents... (vs. 14)
       'Iniquity' comes from the Hebrew word 'aven meaning "trouble, wickedness..." (Strong's H205).  Wickedness should not even be close to us.  He even mentions wickedness, or unrighteousness, dwelling in our tents, or homes (Strong's H5766).  The closer it is, the more tempting it becomes.  Flee from all wickedness.

The recipe is this: 
     1. Establish and cleanse your heart in Christ.
     2. Surrender to God's ways and will.
     3. Flee from all wickedness.

Then, indeed, you could lift up your face without moral defect, / And you would be steadfast and not fear (vs. 15).

 In other words, you "shall have a strong and comfortable assurance of God's favour," you will know exactly where you stand (Wesley).

I challenge you today to walk through that process.  We are 100 million times better off when we are in good standing with God our Father.  We've got the recipe, why not use it??